Elie Wiesel – Remembering Him in a Quote

Christians think there is virtue in silence when someone is being abused by a spiritual leader. When they know wrong is being done and they stay silent, they become complicit. A favorite quote of Wiesel’s. “Whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation, take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented..”      Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

A Response to the Movie “Me Before You”

Our culture lives by emotions, not facts or an objective sense of truth. If a movie makes us “feel” and “moves us to tears”, well, then by all means, it must have a good message for us, right? Wrong.

A friend sent this article to me. The movie “Me before You” is yet another death propaganda piece that manages to make suicide look heroic and selfless for a disabled man. He did it for someone else, after all.  I am glad to see this article by a young person responding to the false message the movie promotes. The author begins:

I love romances as much as the next person (perhaps even a little more … I’m a total sap), but I’m decidedly unenthused about the most popular romance in theaters right now. As a disabled person, I really can’t stand “Me Before You.” In my opinion, and in the opinion of much of the disabled community, the film spreads some really harmful misconceptions about life with a disability. In an effort to undo some of the damage caused by this film, I’m here to bust some common myths about disability. (Spoiler warning for “Me Before You,” by the way!)

Read it here.

Remember when movies were filled with things like the triumph of the human spirit against difficult odds, when courage was an admired trait, when steadfastness and strength of character were celebrated? Yes. It seems like a long time ago now.



A Little Concert Excerpt

Will’s  long awaited Gesu Church concert was on the evening of June 14. He will be a junior at Wheaton College Conservatory in the fall. He auditioned for Eastman School of Music after spending three days in New York this spring, and was accepted, which is a great honor for him!  He has, however, chosen to return to Wheaton, a place he really loves, and we support him  in this. God is in all these details, and we have encouraged Will to seek the Lord in all his decisions about the future.

The video starts off rather rocky as Will points audience members to the program notes he wrote about the piece.  It gets stable quickly when he sits down to play.

The piece by Cesar Franck, Piece Heroique, builds and builds with that theme you hear at the beginning, ending in a powerful crescendo. The video doesn’t do justice to the sound of that organ in the acoustics of the church. It is an exciting piece of music and an exciting organ to hear.

I am sorry the next piece, a great contrast to the first, was cut off, but the camera ran out of space! Some day, we will manage to get someone to help professionally record Will’s concerts on video. Fortunately, the audio was captured on some good microphones, so we’re glad for that. When so much work goes in, it’s worth keeping.

There was a great turnout for the concert, and Tom was surprised by a friend who goes back all the way to high school band days, a fellow trumpet player. Additionally, Tom’s boss and department supervisor came.  That made the evening even more special! Also, a reader of this blog turned out with her husband. That was great!  Will was assisted by his good organ friend, Ryan Mueller, who met Will through this blog. Ryan works on these huge organs for a company that repairs and voices them.  We are looking forward to hearing Ryan play at Gesu next month! His concert is Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 7:30pm.

These young men are a blessing from the Lord who gave us the priceless gift of music.



Eternity in Sound – A Joyful Anniversary Concert Announcement

Willgesuorgan1Our son, Will, the organist of the family, turned 20 years old yesterday. He is a young man who is focused on music as an organ student at Wheaton College Conservatory where he will be a Junior this fall. I am passing on this information to anyone locally who would like to attend a free concert of some of the world’s great organ music. Will writes:

“It was twenty years ago this June that, as a newborn, I heard the pipe organ at Gesu Church for the first time. Ever since then, Gesu’s music ministry has had a substantial impact on my life, including inspiring me to become an organist. That’s why I am so honored to perform at Gesu on June 14, in celebration of five years of their marvelous “new” organ– which contains 6,800 pipes and is the largest in Wisconsin. I hope to see everyone there!”

The date is June 14, 2016 at 7:30pm at Gesu Church in downtown Milwaukee. The world is a troubled and dark place, and there is a loss of hope everywhere.  In the midst of this, music is the bursting into sound of something eternal, it has been said. Depending on the music, you either catch a glimpse of an eternal hell or the eternal beauty of our God and his majesty. Taking an hour out to listen to the power and also the quiet beauty, the whole range of this orchestra within one instrument, is good medicine in these times. Thank you, Will, for the music. To God be the Glory.

Clips from Will at his recent St. John Cantius Church in Chicago and Wheaton College.


Flower Child

Our granddaughter, Gianna, models a brand new bonnet from Comfykids.com, referred to in an earlier post. I think she looks like a little flower in her lace and eyelet ruffles. She is a very smiley and happy baby girl!


Listen, Children, to the (Real) Stories

grandfatherOur son was playing a piano recital at a retirement home, and one of the residents sat down next to me before it began. She looked at the program and commented on the music Will was going to be playing. She then told me she had been a piano teacher out of her home evenings and weekends in Milwaukee for many years and that she had worked in a downtown law firm during the day time. She told of taking a streetcar to work and how much she loved what she did, especially the music teaching.

In those few brief moments, the woman gave me a glimpse of our city’s past and a glimpse into the life of a productive, knowledgeable and hard-working woman. Her story stays with me two years later, and I only wish I could have heard more.

In the midst of worthless, fake celebrity and social media culture, our young people walk around with their heads glued to their phones, uninterested and unaware of the fascinating  life stories around them. If I had to share advice to young people (on the unlikely premise that they would listen), I would ask them to sit down with their elders and listen to their stories carefully.

I don’t know if my adult children necessarily want to hear about my life years ago or their grandparents’ lives, but I try anyway, thinking that someday, they will want to know more about their own pasts which are tied up in the pasts of their own parents and grandparents.  The best stories are real stories. Every life is a story, tragic, funny in ways, and filled with insights into the people we are and the times in which we live.

As a child, I used to pour over the black, antique photo albums from my grandma in Minnesota. Grandma told me about her sister who died of influenza, leaving a husband and two young children behind, she told me about her childhood adventures with her cousin, Albert, who grew up with her, and how they once, as young children, decided to clean their neighbor’s home while she was out. The lady made the mistake of leaving her door unlocked. Grandma and Albert, who were about five years old at the time, even tried to haul out the lady’s feather bed for beating on the line like they had seen their mother do. Unfortunately, they got the feather mattress stuck in the door. Imagine the shock of coming home to that! I think the lady learned to lock her door.

If you have a chance, listen to the stories of older people around you. Encourage your children to do the same. Interest in the lives of seniors is a beautiful gift to them, and you cannot hear the stories of the past without picking up things, the values, ideals and wisdom gained through long years of living.

Here is a bit of my grandmother’s life. A little pristine invitation to a recital one June evening back in 1931 when she was 19-years-old. Her name was Norma Olson. I can almost see the scene at that church where her friend’s piano students were to perform that evening, with Grandma, who studied voice and violin, contributing to the music. A little bit of her life story that I am glad I know.


Bonnets for Babies

bonnetFor some reason, most retailers don’t carry baby bonnets anymore. When Emily was a baby, I wanted to find some, but looked without success. Stores had hats for infants, but not bonnets. I did a search, was happy to find a place online that made beautiful bonnets that were not very expensive, and I bought several. They have them in larger sizes as well. My daughter-in-law asked me where I had gotten them, as little Gianna, my granddaughter, has outgrown the little ones from Em,  and she isn’t quite big enough for the larger ones.

If you are a mother or grandmother who likes babies in bonnets, you will love these at Comfykids. The trouble is making up your mind, they are all so sweet! Rosebuds, and eyelet and ribbons…ah!

Here’s Emmy in her bonnet what seems like yesterday. She’ll be seven-years-old soon. It’s hard to believe!


Warning: Kellogs Now Adding Peanut Flour Across Product Lines

A few weeks ago, I posted a warning regarding peppercorns being used in some restaurants that were from the tree nut family, something that directly endangers those with tree nut allergies, and something nobody would think to ask about.

Today, the site I subscribe to regarding food allergies has a warning regarding the decision by the Kellog’s company to add peanut flour across product lines. This announcement was quietly made on their website, something that will likely be entirely missed by many consumers. Even the smallest amount of peanut product can cost someone their life if they suffer from an allergy – something increasingly common. We have two in our family who will die if they consume peanut products unaware, it’s that serious.

This article here contains the warning, and this additional article sheds light on why they are doing it. This is irresponsible of the Kellog’s company at a time when peanut allergies are on the rise. To make a change that endangers the lives of customers and not make a loud public announcement is a slap in the face to all of us who have trusted these companies. (A bad idea, I guess.)

Please share this as widely as possible for the safety of anyone who has a life-threatening peanut allergy. Perpetual vigilance is needed to protect them. If you want updates on product safety and food allergies, sign up at SnackSafely.com and subscribe to their page if  you are on Facebook. That is where I saw the needed warning. I’m grateful to know it.  Kellog’s has lost our family’s business.




Thanks to my Mother, Freda Eliason

As mothers we are faced with all kinds of circumstances in raising our children. There are stresses and challenges that nobody else may see. The burden of caring for another human being or multiple other human beings, in all areas of need is difficult to express. Yet love carries us through. We don’t see it as some terrible weight we have to carry. It’s our child, those are our children. Our happiness is tied up with their well-being. You can’t separate the two things.

I remember realizing this when my firstborn son, Charlie, became sick over and over again his first winter from a stomach virus he was contracting in the church nursery. (I didn’t make the connection as quickly as I should have!) Until Charlie was well, my world came to a total standstill. As a young mother, I rejoiced over every bottle he took, every spoonful he ate when he was sick. Life stopped being about me completely. When he was hospitalized with the illness, I was literally sick with worry. This other life, this sweet boy, was all that mattered to me.

This Mother’s Day, I remember the sacrifices of my own dear mother in caring for me and my brother and sister. Without the sacrifices and incredible labor of this woman, the ministry of VCY America would never have been possible. Most have no idea what Mom went through to both raise three children and bring her own constant service to the ministry her husband began. She served above and beyond the call of duty. Largely unrecognized and un-thanked, God has seen all that she has done and why. The reward for her faithfulness will be great.

So thank you, Mom, for everything. Everything I know about loving my children has come through the hands and heart of my mother. Most of all, she has pointed us Godward from the time we were very young.

Two weeks after my dad died in December, Mom underwent triple bypass surgery and has been recovering since. All of us pray for her continued strength and for the joy and love she has given all of us to be returned to her.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there, and to those who have recently lost a mother, may her memory be a blessing to you.


Our Son Will – Making A Joyful Noise on the Pipe Organ!

Our son, Will Schlueter, is playing an organ recital in Chicago at St. John Cantius church this Sunday at 3pm. Here is his program.

1) Piece Heroique- C. Franck
2) Trio Sonata 6- Moevement 1. Vivace -J.S. Bach
3) Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue- J.S. Bach
4) Variations on Old Hundreth- Denis Bedard
5) Romance from Symphony #4- Louis Vierne
6) Allegro from Symphony #6- C.M. Widor

About the organist: Will Schlueter is a sophomore at Wheaton College, where he studies organ performance with Dr. Edward Zimmerman. A Wisconsin native, Will has had a passion for the pipe organ since he was very young, and began lessons with Sr. Mary Jane Wagner (S.S.S.F) in 2011. Since then he has performed many times at the finest venues in the Milwaukee area, including St. Joseph’s Chapel, St. John’s Cathedral, and Gesu Church, home of the largest organ in Wisconsin. He particularly enjoys liturgical music, and has played for many  services over the last five years, in addition to participating in the 2013 AGO Competition for Young Organists. Will believes that music is a form of prayer, and strives to share the “joy of the Lord” (Psalm 98) through the wonderful gift of the pipe organ.

You can get more information here about the recital.