Monday, December 19, 2011

Peace at Last

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is his glory to overlook an offence.
Proverbs 19 11.NIV

I remember as a young wife how easily I could call to mind all my husband’s shortcomings. With each new offence I lengthened the list. Every time my feelings were hurt I recounted a litany of grievances. I rehearsed that list often and knew it by heart.

I don’t do that so much anymore, and I see that as a sign of God’s love working in my heart. In fact, when I find myself starting that old score keeping process, I stop and ask myself if I have drifted from God’s side.

The writer of proverbs says “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is his glory to overlook an offence.” I do know it is a good feeling to let go of things that others do to irritate you. It is even more freeing to let go of a real hurt.

Some years ago my husband was ill. Several people that we counted on to be supportive became very concerned with their own affairs and created a hardship for us.  I find it interesting that I had not thought of that in a couple of years. And I find joy and gratitude in my heart this day that something that happened so long ago has not poisoned my life with grievance. It could have, and many of you know exactly what I am talking about.

What is that particular hurt (or list of hurts for that matter) that is dominating your thinking right now?  Have you been rolling the bad taste of it around in your mouth? Have you been poking at it with your tongue daily (hourly?) to taste the hurt once again; to feel the injustice of it all; to savor the rightness of your position and the wrongness of the other person’s actions toward you?

Well, you may be enjoying your indignation, but the writer of Proverbs tells us there is glory in overlooking an offence. I’m not suggesting we can achieve this on our own. In the first chapter of Proverbs, we are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Our ability to overlook an offence is possible only when we seek God’s power to forgive others. But the outcome is well worth giving up our self pity. When forgiveness is at work within us, we not only experience the peace that passes understanding, but we know for sure that Christ’s love is dwelling in us.

A man’s wisdom comes from God. This true wisdom brings patience and the ability to overlook offence. It is another of God’s wonderful gifts to His children. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it….not sit in misery nursing our grievance towards others who have caused us harm. And because of God’s power of forgiveness working in our hearts we can do just that.

 Peace at last.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Nearly Normal

Paul will come home from the TCU (Transitional Care Unit) in three more days or so. That is when we return to "life as we once knew it". The past three weeks have been a wild ride, but as I look back I am amazed that the frantic activity of those days flowed seamlessly, one task to the next, in perfect order.

God does not give us more than we can bear, and when we let Him handle the complexities of piled up stress, the details fall beautifully into place. I would not change anything. His plan was flawless. All went well, and now we are all well, as well. (Can you tell I'm a bit rusty when it comes blogging suscinctly.)

I missed this time of reflection. My life is usually a simple one, by design. I like to ponder things rather than move frantically from one event to the next. But, boy, do I have a lot of new material to write about!

Paul's infection is all gone. He lost the remainder of his toes, but  most of his foot is intact. He will be able to walk on his own again when the stiches heal. We had a wonderful vacation. Even the trip home was good. And God rescued us in the end.

Sleep is an amazing healer. It is great to be able to think and reflect and write. So, hey, we're on again. I missed you guys...Oh, and Karen and Caren, I'm sending a big Minnesota shout your way!


Saturday, May 28, 2011


When we got to Las Vegas Paul was getting sick. By Friday I had called his DR in MN and he prescribed an antibiotic and made an appointment to see him on Tuesday. We drove 400 miles a day (even went over the Rockies since that was the shortest way home) for four days. We got home Monday night. That's when my sister called to let us know that my mother had died.

By Tuesday morning Paul was pretty sick. When we got to the DR's appointment the DR took one look at him and sent him right to the emergency room to admit him and that evening did surgery on a very infected foot. He had more "cleaning out" surgery on Friday to rid the foot of infection. The Dr is pleased with the progress so far. Paul is going to transitional care tomorrow and will have more surgery on Thursday, and then back to Presbyterian Homes transitional care (Roseville) for a few days of  physical therapy and IV antibiotics and then home. At least that is the plan.

I leave for Grand Island, NE tomorrow for my mother's funeral on Tuesday. Marcus, Sarah, Paula ,and I will pick up Phil and Steve (five of my children sans families) at various points along the way. We plan to be home Wednesday early morning.

I found that blogging takes energy and that is a comodity that has been in short supply for quite a few days now. When I catch my breath,  I will be blogging away again.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Heading Home

Somehow I lost my oomph, and my desire to write at the same time. Having the writing class fall through took the edge off of my blogging goals. And then I just got tired. We have been in Las Vegas for three whole days now, pretty much doing nothing but sit around and recoop our energy. Paul has had a rough three days. His foot is hurting him a lot. We tried going without the boot for a couple of days since he spent most of his time in the room (much of it in bed), but we hit the road for home tomorrow and we will put it on again.

Marcus and Matt and Jenni were great hosts. We left California with many good memories. Now we are taking four driving days to get to Omaha. We are rarely in this part of the country this late in the year so we plan to take the Colorado route. We are staying in Green River, Utah tomorrow night, and somewhere near Denver on Saturday night. I could try to push harder to get Paul home sooner, but that is hard on him, too.

Today it was finally warm enough to swim. The average high temps in Vegas this time of year: 88 degrees. Our temps: 60 - 70 (most of the time in the low 60's for the high.) Bummed.

My sister, Mary, gives occasional updates on my mother. She seems to be holding her own, but her condition is unpredictable, some good days, some not so good. She is in God's hands and seems content to accept each day as it comes.

Our resort is one block from "the strip", so I walked around a bit today. Not my kind of town, I guess. After about an hour and a half I was bored and came back to our unit. We are staying in a very nice place.

Tomorrow we are on the road again.....


Friday, May 13, 2011

Hollywood, Et AL

For some reason, blogger was down yesterday. You could read what was already there, but not write anything new. It seems to be fine today.

I got an email yesterday saying that the writing class I was so looking forward to has been cancelled. The woman who was to be our instructor has become ill, and is unable to take it on. I am starting to get used to the information, but yesterday I was crushed. I had been looking forward to that class for many months, and now feel like a kid who has had someone steal her candy.

Yesterday was a good day here in LA, though. Paul, and Marcus and I went to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. It was fabulous. Paul loved the whole thing. He was worried that he would not tolerate the day well, but Marcus got him a wheelchair, wheeled him around all day, and read a lot of the display notes to him. Paul said he is glad he made the trip, and has found that it not as hard on him as he had feared. That has surprised us both, and we are grateful.

Having had a big outing yesterday, he was content to stay here at Marcus' condo for the day while Marcus and I hit the town. We took a walk in the Hollywood hills (a steep walk), then walked around Hollywood for awhile, hit a garage sale on a side street, explored Melrose street which is full of clothes and shoes and jewelry from aspiring artists, went to the Farmers' Market and grabbed a bite to eat, then drove down Santa Monica Boulevard to the ocean. We walked out onto the famous dock there, and then strolled along the beach and watched the sun set.  A visit to a lovely, out door wine bar in Santa Monica put an enjoyable finish to the day. I'm sure my legs will ache tomorrow, but we had a great time, filled with the "LA experience".

My sister, Liz, called this evening  to let us know that my 95 year old mother has taken a turn for the worse. We are so thankful to have seen her just 11 days ago. She was able to visit with us and feed herself at that time, but is no longer able to do much of anything. She wants to go to heaven. Her life here has become so hard to sustain. She is in God's hands.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Family and Friends!

The house is quiet. The guests are gone and both Paul and Marcus have retired for the night. I like having the quiet wrap around me. I allows me time to reflect on this trip, on the blessing of family, and on the importance of  friends.

It is interesting to get a glance into your grown children's lives. Tonight we met Andy for the first time. Andy is Marcus' boss, but their friendship preceded this arrangement. Andy is Armenian, a first generation American, having come to America when he was age seven. I remember when Marcus went to his wedding some years ago, and now Andy is a father to three year old Mona, and is anticipating the birth of a son (due in early June). He is quick witted and energetic, and has made the most of the opportunities for work and the enjoyable lifestyle here in California.

Scott and Dana are a couple we met several years ago. Marcus is to be in their wedding this summer. Scott also works with Marcus and Andy, and his friendship, too, predates this workplace. Dana was in a couple of plays with Marcus and now works for a number of reality TV shows (including American Idol).  These are people that Marcus often talks about, and it is nice to be able to put faces to their names. You learn a lot about your children by observing the folks with whom they surround themselves. Marcus has some very nice friends.

Matt and Jenni came over, too. It is so good for both of our sons to have family out here. We are a tight knit group, and Marcus seemed way out in left field to the rest of us. Now, he has a brother and sister-in-law in the area, and a niece and two nephews that love him dearly. Matt and Jenni like having Marcus as a  resource (he has been out here for more than ten years already), and we have somewhere to visit. Win, win, win!!

We ate pizza, and talked and laughed and played a little Wii, and had a great evening. Family is so important. Tonight we rejoice in Andy's new family here in America, Scott and Dana's upcoming marriage, and our chance to visit and enjoy our California kin.

God is good.


Short Note

Today I made the trip to the library as planned. I often look for stories of resistance fighters in WWII, and found several books in the library, but none at the bookstore. That bookstore was pretty amazing though. The books were almost ceiling high, and simply piled everywhere. There was a system to the madness, but you still had to hunt once you were in the general area of your subject.

After getting all my wash done, I feel ready for whatever the week brings. Walking around town, both on my own, and again with Marcus when he came home, were the main activities of the day. The crazy thing is, it is really safe to walk around Burbank during the day, or after dark. Marcus claims people are either at work, making sure they make enough money so that they can afford to live in Burbank, or in their homes enjoying the few hours of free time they have.

Marcus and I talked until 2 am, so this post is late and I am out of steam.  Matt and Jenni and the kids are coming over here tomorrow, plus several other friends of Marcus'. I'll tell you about the party ttomorrow.


Monday, May 09, 2011

On to Burbank

The sun was out most of the day, but being in the mountains the temperatures are not hot. I spent several hours this afternoon reading a book out on the deck, and my arms are red and I have that  "too much sun" headache. We are so sun-starved by this time of the year in Minnesota that we often underestimate our tolerance when we finally find an abundance of those warm rays.

This afternoon we arrived in  Burbank. Our son, Marcus, rearranged his whole condo for us. He took apart his bed and brought it downstairs to reassemble in the dining room and moved the kitchen table to the living room (standing one couch on end in the corner to make room for it.) It was a lot of work, but we are going to be here almost a whole week, and it is perfectly set up for Paul. It is now like a studio apartment with everything we need on the first floor, so we really appreciate the thoughtful arrangement.

Marcus has Direct TV and can record programs, so we watched a replay of the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona, Cardinals football game he had saved from last fall. Watching  Bret Farve bring the Vikings from behind to improbable victory was as satisfying the second time around as it was the first.

This evening Marcus and I walked around town (Burbank, CA) and he pointed out all his favorite coffee shops and cafes and whole streets of interesting shops (not to mention the mall) all within easy access of his condo. He works on Tuesday so he wanted to acquaint me with the area. Tomorrow, I cannot wait to visit the Burbank Public library. It is barely four blocks from this place, plus, there is a neat bookstore about four blocks from the library that I want to check out.

Our son, Peter, who is a band and choir director and writes music, used to practically run to the piano whenever we returned home from one of our camping trips. It was as though the music built up inside of him, and he could barely wait to relieve the pressure by moving his fingers up and down those piano keys. For me that artistic pressure is relieved by books. It is not that I do not have books along. I do. But I am somehow both calmed and stimulated by being around lots of books.

I really love California.  It is a vibrant part of God's wonderful, beautiful creation. I see why my sons feel so at home so far from "home".


Sunday, May 08, 2011

One Happy Mother's Happy Day

Jenni made us a wonderful breakfast, and we sat around the table enjoying this lovely morning to the point that we were late for church. (Did I mention that I forgot Matt told me to turn on Venice Blvd., and I went a few miles out of the way, perhaps a more likely reason we were late?) Marcus met us (Matt and Jenni and family) at First Lutheran, and after church we ate at Trattoria on the Ocean in Venice Beach in the outdoor patio. We could not remember the last time that either of the boys and I were together for Mother's Day, probably not since they left home for college, so we enjoyed the chance to share the day.

We got our first glance at the ocean on the drive to church, and then walked over to the beach from the restaurant for a better look. There were a few kids swimming, but the water is cold here. One guy I knew used to have a rule: "Never go swimming in a body of water in which the only occupants are kids." Good advice.

It has been strange to not be on the road, traveling. On a long trip like this we tend to set up a rhythm that makes the days not only tolerable, but pleasurable, and predictable. Strangely, it takes a mental adjustment to realize that we have arrived at our destination, and that the trip does not wholly consist of the trip.

Tomorrow Jenni and the kids are going to Legoland with their homeschool group, and Matt goes back to work. We will have the house to ourselves and will take that time to absorb the sights and sounds of the past week. We meet Marcus in Burbank after he gets off work, and spend the rest of the week with him. I am ready to have a "resting" day, but look forward to the activities Marcus has in mind for the days ahead.

Paul is still doing well, and we could not have wished for a better week than the one we just experienced.

I hope all you mom's had a happy Mother's Day. I sure did.


"This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Made It!

We got to Topanga Canyon on Saturday afternoon and wound our way to Matt and Jenni’s place. It was no longer 104 degrees. It is much cooler here in the mountains, a pleasant 71 degrees. We have visited our son, Marcus, in Burbank a number of times, so that is our experience of California living.

These mountain canyon communities are a whole new deal. The houses are tucked willy nilly, along narrow, twisting roads. Some homes are visible from the road, many are not. The hills are ever present in the background, sometimes hazy sometimes clear. At night random lights identify houses here and there, but the general sense is of privacy (or isolation, depending on how you view it.) It seems strange to know that just below this quiet community throbs the restless beat of the greater Los Angeles area. The grandkids have a swing that soars out over the hillside, lizards in a plastic bin that they handle with comfortable familiarity, and they run barefoot with all the abandon of children that live close to nature, and far from city life.

Did you know that Los Angeles County is full of horses? (There are even bridle paths right in Burbank.) Now, really, if you loved horses would your first thought be, “I should move to Los Angeles”?

Tonight we took a walk along the canyon road, then sat on Matt’s deck and looked out over the peaceful hills and valleys. We listened to the chorus of frogs chirping away and thought, this is LA?


Friday, May 06, 2011

Revisiting Arizona

I was dreading this leg of the journey. The only sane way to get to California from Albuquerque, New Mexico is by taking Interstate 40 all the way across Arizona. My aversion to interstate highway travel involves large trucks. It was a pleasant surprise to find that, while there were indeed many, many semitrailer trucks on the road, in this part of the country they are spread out a bit. We really enjoyed driving through this familiar country. Arizona is a beautiful state.

We used to go to AZ for five or six weeks in the winter. In fact, last winter was the first time in 18 years that Paul did not go. His mother had a retirement place in one of the courts down here, and ever since his kidney transplant, he would spend at least a month with her to escape our winters, and I would stay home and work. About five years ago I said "phooey" to that and started going along. Paul's mom died this year at age 100. I fully believe that her 30 years of escape from the Minnesota weathers prolonged her life. Anyway, she sold her moble home several years ago, so we miss both Arizona, and our time with her.

Yesterday, in New Mexico, a truck was coming toward us, and just before it passed, two big cardboard boxes flew off the top of the truck. I don't know if there was anything in them or not, but the truck was so tall the boxes flew harmlessly over the top of our car into the ditch beside us. Today I was traveling on cruise contol at the speed limit (75 mph) and had just shifted lanes to go around the semi in front of us when I saw the truck's brakes flash. I hit my brake to disengage my cruise, and to see what the semi driver was slowing for, and two big truck tires rolled from the right side of the road in front of his truck and then in front of our car, and went harmlessly into the ditch on the median. I have no idea where they came from, and while he saw them coming, I did not. God's angels watchin' over us for sure.

When we got to Needles, CA it was 104 degrees. We checked in to the motel and once I had Paul settled with everything he needed (he never needs much) I hit the pool. I've already been back for a second swim. There is nothing that brings back more happy memories for me than swimming on a hot summer night.

We are in California! We will go see Matt and Jenni and our three grandchildren in Topanga Canyon tomorrow. I'll bet those kids have grown since Christmas. They usually do.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Seeing New Mexico

We got a late start today, but it was by design. We knew we would gain an hour by crossing the time zone from central to mountain  time. And, since we planned to stay in Albuqerque, NM tonight, it was any easy, 400 mile or so day.

We followed Highway 64 across the panhandle of Oklahoma, all the way to Springer, NM. The road was well tended, had no shoulders at all in places, and was sparsely traveled . (In two hundred miles one car passed us, and we went around one car, two trucks and a camper.) The average time between meeting one car until the next appeared was about 3 minutes.

We got lost in Las Vegas, NM trying to find a place to eat. We just wanted "fast food", but once again, with me at the wheel there was nothing fast about it. Paul said that traveling with me is always an adventure, and since he still feels pretty good (I am both delighted and surprised about that, he had a lousy winter) he said it without a trace of sarcasm.

We have had some pretty interesting trips. I once chose to take East Cesar Chavez through downtown Los Angeles to the 710. We were pretty much in awe of the bars and gates protecting all the businesses, etc. That was exciting.

Once we almost got stuck in a very muddy dirt road somewhere in the middle of Kansas. It was us and the cows, and we were far enough afield I don't think anyone would have stumbled across us any time soon. That was the only time I can remember washing the car twice in one day. We have  followed Route 66 (as best we could) from Springfield, MO to Gallup, NM, and driven the backroads of West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and Ohio. I do love the west, though. Whenever I see those wide open fields I long to get on a horse and find out what is over that next hill.

New Mexico is probably beautiful to those who have grown up here, or chosen to make this their home, but it's scruffy baroness does not call out to my soul. The featured colors are reddish brown, brown, and spots of dark green (lots of blue sky, though). Some of the hillsides reminded me a little of sausage pizza, with the tan base dotted here and there with dark, round bushes.  I'm not a fan of sausage pizza., and the desert colors do not resonate with me either. New Mexico is an interesting place to pass through, but I'm ready to move on.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring? I'm looking forward to it already.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Crossing Kansas

We've completed another leg on our journey, and Paul is holding up really well. This is especially important when traveling with me. I made sure to book the motel last night. We know from experinece that we need a clear destination at the start of the day rather than trying to decide when to stop at the end of the day.

The problem is that I am a generalist. I thought we should go about 500 miles today so I booked a motel in Liberal, Ks. We have stayed in Liberal before, so are familiar with the motels, etc. So, when Paul asked me just how far Liberal was, I really did not know for sure, but we figured it out once we got here. (580 miles somehow seems a lot farther than 500 miles.)

I like Kansas. We actually lived in Topeka, Ks from the time I was about 18 months old until I was about 5. My father's first call in the ministry was to Kansas, and he and my mother married and lived for the first few years of their marriage in McFarland, Ks. My father then became a chaplian in WWII, and served in the army in the Pacific for several years. We moved to Topeka when he came back from the service.

I am always amazed to see the oil rigs pumping away out in those Kansas fields, and I love watching the hawks. There are a lot of hawks. We took Highway 54 all the way from Jefferson City, MO to Liberal, KS. It is a great road, and we had very light traffic. Still, after passing a fair amount of traffic going east, but seeing very little going in the direction we were going (west), I asked Paul if he thought those people knew something that we did not!

We travel through many small towns taking the roads we do, so we like to eat at local diners. Today's find was a real winner. Great food, modest prices, a cheerful waitress. We already knew to expect good things.We have a fail proof system. As we pass eating places we count the pickup trucks parked outside. We saw one cafe that looked interesting, but saw five cars and no pickups, so we kept going. We were rewarded for our patience with our winner, fully five pickups on one side and two more around the corner. Only one car besides ours.

There is a wonderful book called, Blue Highways, where the author tells of his trip on the backroads of  this great country. He, too, liked local diners, and he would rank each one by how many of the businesses in town had their calandars hanging there. He figured a 4 or 5 calandar restaurant had to be good or the locals would not bring their advertising. We usually count the calandars once inside (I forgot to do that today) but we prefer the pickup ranking system, because we already know before we go in that we have made a good choice.

The temperature hit 80 degrees today, so this trip is already a winner with me. We could not have had a nicer day to travel. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

"Honor the Aged"

It was great to visit with my 95-year old mother today. She is wheelchair bound, living in a nursing home. She has been there for about 8 months now, and has adjusted well. She tires easily, but is still able to feed herself most meals. She was pretty tired this evening. She mostly let us do the talking, and quietly listened to the devotion we as we read. After the prayer it was quiet and peaceful in the room when suddenly her roommate declared, "It's beginning to rain. Oh, no, it's turning to snow."

 I have to admit that my heart dropped a bit as I stole a quick glance out of the window to convince myself that the 60 degree weather here in Columbia, MO had not somehow morphed into the Minnesota we had just escaped!

My sister, Martha, and her husband, Paul, were here from Baltimore last week to see Mom. They helped my sister, Mary, take her to an eye doctor appointment. One big difficultiy is that Mom has severe ostoeporosis and is very stooped. That makes it hard for her to lift up her head. The eye doctor's assistant got her ready for her eye test.

"Okay," the girl asked after covering one eye. "what can you see?"

Mom answered, "The wall plug." 

The girl realized the problem and tilted Mom's chair back a little and the test went alot better after that.

Mom has always had a keen sence of humor. She was complaining to Mary one day, "Beans! They shouldn't serve beans for breakfast!"  Mary had to explain, "Mom, it's not breakfast, it's dinner."  Mom chuckled a little, then looked at Mary and said, "Well, it's still true."

It is hard to see your once vibrant parent in such reduced circumstances. But it is comforting to know that she is preapred to die, and is looking forward to going to heaven. Maybe this will be my last year for buying a  Mother's Day card.

But, maybe not.


"Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old." Proverbs 23:22

Monday, May 02, 2011

On Our Way

The first leg of our trip is complete. We are in Columbia, MO. We will go to see my mother tomorrow, but this evening we spent catching up with my sister and her news. When we left St Paul, MN this morning it was 34 degrees and spitting a little snow. By the time we got to Columbia it was 59 degrees, so that is a big improvement.

So far so good. I have been  a little concerned that this trip might be too hard on Paul, but he did fine today. As we got into the car he informed me that this was probably going to be our last big trip together. I suspected as much, and that was a big part of why I was so happy we were able to go. (I feared that we had already had our last big trip together.) He also told me that he was not looking forward to it, but that he was doing it for me. I already knew that, and I thanked him.

I have always loved traveling with him. Not every trip was a fun trip. I remember driving home from St. Louis one year where he spoke a total of about seven words to me because he was so miserable. ("I don't care." "Do what you wish.") But most of the time we are companiable, pretty much know what to expect, and just enjoy being with someone who knows you so well you do not have to be anyone but your true self.

The saga continues. We'll see what unfolds. We are in the Lord's hands.


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Train A Child in the Way He Should Go....

We went to church out at Zion, Cologne, Mn  this morning.  Paul was the pastor there for many years. I say " out at"  because this is a rural congregation. They still have a parochial school with the church that runs K-8th grade. All eight of our children attended that school, most of them for all eight grades.

Every year they have a confirmation reunion Sunday, and Paul loves seeing the (now all grown up ) kids he had in confirmation class. He absolutely loved teaching confirmation, and the kids, for the most part, loved him back. It was one of the things he missed most when he became ill and had to resign.

 The pastor that took over for him was astounded to learn that he would be teaching confirmation class at the school at least four mornings every week. He said that teaching confirmation was certainly NOT one of his favorite activities. He had had many behavior problems with the kids at that age, and found teaching them a struggle.

One year later the same guy confessed to Paul that his very favorite part of his time at Zion was teaching confirmation.  When asked why, he explained what brought about his change of heart. He said that when he had taught at other churches and would tell parents about their children's misbehavior in class, the parents always defended the child. Out at Zion, if a child's parents were brought in because of misbehavior, there was no question, that child was in for some straightening out at home. The parents rarely, if ever sided with the child.

If I had my parenting to do over again, I would do a lot  less defending of my children. The fourth commandment says, "Honor your father and mother." Luther asks, in his catechism, "What does God require of us in the fouth commandment?" He answers this question with four duties. We are to honor our parents and other authorities by regarding them as God's representatives, we should serve them by gladly providing what they need or require, we should obey them in everything in which God has placed them over us, and we are to love and cherish them as precious gifts of God.

Okay, parents, that leaves your child precious little wiggle room in which to disrespect their teachers, or youth leaders, or coaches. So, the next time you want to rise up in righteous infdignation in defence of your precious baby, claiming that their "rights" (not God given that I can see.) have been violated, check the list to make sure your child has first been respectful, served that authority gladly, obeyed them, and loved them. Once your child knows that their behavior is going to be scrutinized before the teacher's behavior or the coach's decision, you will be amazed at how few times they come whining to you.

There were quite a few people back for these confirmation  class reunions. They remember their time at Zion fondly. Several even stood to thank their pastors and teaches for the firm foundation of faith that was planted so deeply in their hearts.

They can thank their parents, too, for expecting them to learn, and behave. And for supporting the teachers and pastors as God commanded us to do.


"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22: 6

Saturday, April 30, 2011

For the Love of Words

I cannot remember exactly when I began to write. I have always loved to read,  an indespensible discipline for one who writes. It is by experiencing the ebb and flow of the words and thoughts and sentences of others that I find my own rhythm.
Do writers really understand the joy and excitement and knowledge they bring to life with each carefully, or casually chosen word? Perhaps, but I know I write because I must. There is in inner compelling that I rarely understand, but follow nonetheless. Within that drive to put words on paper, I sometimes picture an audience that will be moved or changed by my words, but I must confess that often I do not take them into account at all.
Are other writers like that? Do they write for the sheer joy of the thing? Do they find the pacing, the flow, the preciseness of language, the melody of the piece, as it were, leads to the sheer fun of putting thoughts into words and putting words onto paper?
I think probably they do. There is such satisfaction in the task itself that I imagine others, too, delight in the process. Actually, I am often surprised when people read my joyfully written words and tell me they have been enriched by them. I am amazed at their comments, surprised that such effects would be the result of my words.

I love to write. I love to read what others have written. I love words and the meaning behind a collection of words. The miracle of taking the intangible and making it tangible still leaves me in awe of the raw power found in a well-written article or book. The power of the pen, indeed.
You can use your hands to pick up a pen and form words that convey a meaning. But, when you add thoughtfulness to those words you become a craftsman. And even more amazing, when you use your hands and your mind and your heart to write, then you become an artist.
It is the heart that makes the difference.

Friday, April 29, 2011

What Are You Going To Be When You Grow Up?

I took my nurses training at Lutheran Hospital school of Nursing in St Louis, Mo. It was a three year program. The first year was mostly taking classes. We did a little work on the floor, like handing out food trays and perhaps feeding people. After we were "capped"  however, we began working on the floor as student nurses. Sometimes we worked the night shift and had classes the next day. It was grueling, but we were young and took it in stride.

After our second year we could even pick up shifts to work and get paid for them. One of my classmates worked almost every day of our senior year. If she was not scheduled she picked up a shift. She and her boyfriend wanted to get married and buy a farm after we graduated so she was saving up. Now there was a girl that knew what she wanted. (I have seem that kind of drive in some of the immigrants I have worked with over the years. One woman was  a Licensed Practical Nurse, an LPN, who had a new baby plus two other small children at home. She was going to school full time to be a Registered Nurse. Her husband worked the evening shift after she came home from school, and she then worked a night shift whenever she could fit one in. I asked her why she would follow such a grueling schedule. She looked at me in surprise and answered, "But, this is the time of great sacrifice.")

I am sorry to say I have never had that kind of a drive for nursing. I like my profession, I guess. I have done it long enough that I am good at it, but it is not the great love of my life. I did not work as a nurse when I was raising the children, but was happy to have a profession to fall back on when Paul became sick.

Probably the most fulfilling thing I did as a nurse was to lead the grief group for a number of years at a local hospital. I had gone back to the University of MN and gotten my BS degree in Family and Community Health Education (a degree I designed myself through the "University Without Walls" program there.), so I was hired to do supports groups at the hospital. I liked it because I was able to provide information and support that allowed people to put their lives back together after a devastating loss. They came in very fragile and went out much stronger.

 That is why I liked raising children, too. Roots and wings, as they say. Empowering people to succeed  is my true calling, I think.

This is the probably the last year I will work. I am on call at the present, so I rarely miss anything that is going on with the family. I don't have to ask off to go on a trip, and I am still able to contribute a bit to the family bank account. It is getting harder though. As my sister, Paula says, "Nursing is a young girl's game."

Sometimes I wonder what path my life might have taken with the choices the young women have today. Our choices seemed rather limited once we graduated from high school.. Basically, girls could go on to college to  be teachers or nurses, or they could beome secretaries, work in a store or a factory or get a job with the telephone company. In the process of elimination I became a nurse.

Where did your choices lead you?


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Now That's a Queen

I have not paid a lot of attention to the big to do for the upcoming royal wedding in England. I think I paid more attention when Charles and Diana married, but this time around I seem to have little interest. It is a grand event for many, I know.

Perhaps I am too American. I never developed a taste for royalty. I like the idea that even though we may start at different stations in life,  no one is compelled to remain where they began. In America anyone can rise to whatever level he or she desires, as long as he or she is willing to do the things that it takes to achieve those desires. There is usually work involved, but, at least in the America in which I grew up, the sky is the limit.

I do have a two favorite stories about royalty though. They both concern Queen Victoria. She was queen of the United Kingdom and Ireland from 1837 until her death in 1901. The first story goes that when asked by a foreign prince the secret of her country's greatness, she replied, "The Bible, my Lord, is the secret of our greatness."

And it was Queen Victoria who was said to have confided in a personal friend, "Oh, how I wish the Lord would come in my lifetime."

Her friend asked why she desired such a thing.

 She replied, "Because I should so love to lay my crown at His blessed feet."

I will never have a crown to lay at Jesus feet in quite this manner, but I am looking forward to receiving a crown from Him. I am a daughter of the King, you know.


"Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life " Revelation 2:10

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Road Trip

After my husband Paul lost his vision it was my turn to do the driving. That was a difficult time for him. Not only was was he no longer in control, not only was the less experienced driver now in charge, but he couldn't even see where I was taking him. In earlier times he almost always did the driving, while I rode herd on the kids. Not being a detail person in the first place, I paid scant attention to how we got to places. I just climbed into the car and he took us there. Once I started driving, I was pretty dependent on him telling me where to go.  He still reads most of the maps on our trips (with a magnifying glass, of course.) We call it the blind leading the vague.

One time we left our son's home in Rochester, MN heading for another son's home in Winona, MN. It wasn't until about 40 miles later, when I began to read the town names out loud, that Paul informed me we were going in the wrong direction. (It was on that same trip that we stopped to eat at a Burger King. I hopped out of the car to use the bathroom, and figurered he could find his own way in. After waiting a fair amout of time I became  alarmed when he failed to appear. Had he gotten hit by a car in the parking lot or something? As I was coming out the door to check I saw him trudging across the parking area from the Taco John's that shared the lot. He said that when he finally got a good look at the menu above the counter he expressed surprised that Burger King had added tacos. The manager helped straighten him out.

Several of my sisters have directional issues as well. Once when they were driving nearing Lansing, MI my sister, Martha, offered to take over the driving for her very sleepy husband, Paul. (Yes, another Paul. My  sister, Paula, had one brother-in-law on her husband's side who was also named Paul. Thus, her two daughters had only three uncles, and they were all named Uncle Paul!)  Anyway, Paul and Martha pulled into a gas station so they could change drivers, and let Paul get a little shut-eye. Martha moved them on nicely, except that when Paul woke up about an hour later they were passing that same gas station. Martha had driven them in a neat loop around the whole city of Lansing, and they were right back where they started.

My sister, Liz, too, was giving her husband, Tony, a well needed rest one time. I don't know where they were headed, but when he woke up they were in Peoria, IL. I don't think they had planned to go anywhere near that fair city.

Our children are getting a little nervous. The two of us are driving out to California next week. Those silly kids. What could go wrong?


"For he will command  his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."      Psalm 91:11,12. (NIV)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

That is So like Her (Him)

A long time ago I heard a line on a television program that has haunted me over many decades. It was casually spoken by one of the characters. "We are so limited by our preferences," she said.

Some years ago my sister, Paula, took me out to eat for my birthday. We went to a  German restaurant about which she had heard many glowing reports. I ordered a hamburger. She was appalled. She did not realize how seldom I ate out in those years, and how very special it was to get to order my favorite food on my birthday. I could have ordered something more daring off that wonderfully varied menu, but I absolutely love hamburgers.

I like to think  I have an adventurous spirit, but if you ask me where in the world I would like to travel I am far more likely to say Maine or Florida, or California, than Germany, or Australia, or Argentina. I love the continental United States. I am consistently entertained and stimulated by travels throughout this vast country of  my birth.

When I shop I clearly know my preference in color and style. I look for pastel colors, and a square neck, a vee neck or crisp collars for blouses and tops. I'm sure there are some lovely tops with round necklines. They might even look nice on me, but they are not my preference, so I rarely even bother to try them on.

Have you tried one of the internet radio stations, like Pandora, that play only the music you like? They are great.  As soon as a song varies from your guidelines you whip off a "thumbs down". And you can register your approval with an equally accessable "thumbs up".

"We are so limited by our preferences."  Yes, and no. I would rather see it as  the freedom to chose my way over someone else's; the  priviledge to be the special creature God made me..... the Katherine who loves hamburgers and America, and crisp collars on her shirts.

Our choices do not limit us, they define us.

So, what would you order? Where would you go?


Monday, April 25, 2011

Retail Therapy

My daughter, Paula, took me shopping tonight. I wanted to update my wardrobe for our trip to California. Paula loves clothes and fashion in general, so she is a good advisor. She stays up to date and knows which stores to go to.

I found it interesting that her research into the stores before we left home was to make sure we could go to them in the order that they closed. You see, she has to do all her shopping in the evening after the kids are fed and ready for the evening. Her husband, Bill, graciously agreed to put them to bed, so we could start around 6 pm. We hit the eyewear place  first (they closed the earliest) and chose frames for my new glasses, then on to the next three stores, making sure the one that closed at 9:30 pm was last. We closed the last two stores, i.e.they checked us out after the doors were already locked for the night.

I expressed surpise that we checked out late one store after the other, but she said, "Oh, I always close the stores."  I never realized how often my daughters shop at night. Sarah told me she finished her grocery shopping at 11:30 pm the other night. It is the best time to get out without the kids, so that is how they do it.

I tried to picture my mother  shopping late at night, and could not remember that happening. I don't think the stores were open after 5 pm in most cases. The closest she came was on Wednesday nights when the downtown stores were open until 8 pm. We often begged her to take us then because it seemed much more interesting. As we got a little older my friends and I loved hanging out downtown on Wednesday nights in the summer. I guess that was our version of this generation's mall.

It was fun.  My sister once saw a guy stuffing things under his baggy shirt (a real  live thief.) He saw her watching him and said to her in a low threatening voice, "You say one word and you will be sorry."

Obviously he did not know Martha (Or was it Mary. It doesn't really matter. You didn't mess with either one of them). "Hey! There's a guy over here shoplifing!" she yelled to the store clerk, pointing at the paniked thief. He dropped his stash of goods, and several of the clerks chased him out the door. I never heard if they caught him or not, but you don't mess with my sisters. Which ever one it was I think she was 14 or 15 at the time.

Nothing quite that exciting happened tonight, but it did bring back a few memories. And I am especially pleased with my new shoes. What is it about the change of seasons that calls out for new shoes? Whatever it is, I like it.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

It Sounds Good, But ..........

Last week my father, if he were still living, would have turned 104 years old. (My mother is still living. She is 95.) I often wonder what he would make of this very different world that we now live in. He died at age 74, so that was 30 years ago. (That means that my mother has been a widow for 30 years. It is strange to think that, even though she was married for more than 45 years, she has now lived more years single than married.)

My father was a Lutheran pastor. Things were different in his adult world.  I can vividly picture him holding a cigarette in the corner of his mouth or cupping his pipe in his left hand. The majority of guys his age smoked. He was a chaplain in the army during World War II and two cartons of cigarettes a week were standard issue for the men.

I remember how he would come home from church meetings smelling strongly of smoke. Not only did he smoke at those get-togethers, most of the men attending  "lit up", too. If you ever passed by one of those meeting rooms, the air was blue with smoke. He did quit in his later years (when he could no longer breathe freely), but I wonder what he would think of all the smoking prohibitions put out by the government. I doubt if he could  have ever envisioned smokeless restaurents and bars.

Without a doubt, he would be either amused or appalled that most television news broadcasts now include an "animal story." Animals were a part of life, even an important part. But rescuing an animal, while it was undoubtably a good thing to do, would never rate as newsworthy in his book.

The nursing home where I work used to have resident cats. The idea was to make the nursing home more "homelike." Most of the residents were either indifferent, or had signs on their doors saying, "Please keep cats out of my room." This generation drowned cats if you will remember. Their cats lived outside in the barn, or in the shed. And even if they did have house pets, they did not invite other people's pets into their homes. I think that is what it felt like to them when the cats would come into their rooms. The visitors paid a lot more attention to the cats than did the residents. Of course the visitors were raised in a different time.

Here are  two seemingly small differences from my father's time to mine. Having the government regulate where one can smoke, and having the media focus on the lives of animals both seem normal in our world. But I think he would be more alarmed than bemused.

I think he would see the smoking regulations as a broader issue. He would view it as an unwarrented loss of personal freedom.  And the cat thing?  He'd think that a dangerous and insidious world view that attempts to exalt animals to the same level of importance as man.

So do I.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

He Lives!

We went to an Easter vigil service tonight. It was very solemn as befits a Holy Saturday rememberance. We processed into church with candles, portraying the furtive attitude of the disciples who were in hiding that night, not knowing what to think. Afraid, mourning, uncertain of what the future held, they were fearful and distraught.

There are many people in the world for whom life is uncertain. We can all identify to one degree ar another. Many of us have had nights like the disciples were having. Nights of uncertainty after a death in the family, or after a tornado or flood hits our town, or when caught in the ravages of war. Fear. Uncertainty. Death. Familiar words; "before Easter" words.

"But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory, through Jesus Christ our Lord." 1 Corinthians 15: 57

He is risen!

He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!


Friday, April 22, 2011

My Strength is Made Perfect in Your Weakness

Nineteen years ago my husband, Paul, had a kidney transplant. At about that same time he lost most of his vision due to the diabetes that runs strongly through his family. He has tunnel vision, and can see fairly clearly out of one small area of one eye. After his loss of vision we went to the Society For the Blind to see if there were any services that would help him out, and they had him read an eye chart. With that little piece of vision he could read the whole thing, and I will never forget how excited they were. It put his loss in perspective for us.

I asked him one time what it was like when he first realized that his vision was not going to return. He said it bothered him for the first few days (days?!), but he was so sick with the kidney thing that by the time he felt better he had adjusted to the eyesight loss. One of his true strengths in life is his ability to adjust. He has the kind of faith that puts things in God's hands and gets on with it.

Paul was fifty-two years old when he had to resign from the ministry. He never fully regained his strength after the transplant, and with the added loss of vision it was not possible for him to continue to pastor his church. The people of our congregation were wonderful. They supported us throughout this difficult time. I was the one that gave him the kidney. (A non-related donor was a rare occurrance at the time. One of the doctors told him that for us to be a two tissue match was like winning the lottery. Paul said it was a lot better than winning the lottery, the lottery was only money!) Because I was the donor we were both out of commission for a quite a while, and those wonderful folks in the congregation brought meals to our door every day for many weeks after the surgery, not to mention their outpouring of love through prayers and gifts and cards.

The disability benefits of Paul's health plan through the church covered the cost of the health benefits for the whole family. Whenever he expressed frustration that he was unable to contibute to the finances I would remind him of those health benefits. His whole duty to the family was to "sit there and breathe."

Now the kids are all grown up, and our family feels blessed these many years later, to still have him around. (When he got sick we had no grandchildren, now we have twenty-three.) We have been on a pretty even keel until this December when he got an infection in his great toe and had to have it removed. (That was the first time he has been back into the hospital since the transplant.) Our son-in-law, Jeff (Anna's husband) told him the other day, "Just think, Paul, now you have two kidneys, one pancreas, one eye, and a toe in heaven." 

"And," I added, "except for the successful surgery he might have one foot in the grave!"

For more than twenty-five years Paul told his congregations that God's love would be sufficient for all their needs.

For the past nineteen years he has been priviledged to prove it.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oh, Lamb of God Have Mercy

I've taken several writing classes. One was on writing for children. I enjoyed that one until they told me that I was using words that were too big. They directed me to a list of about 500 words to use when writing for kids. Since the size of one's vocabulary is said to be tied to the level of one's success, I found that I wanted to have no part in the dumbing down of America's children.

That was some time ago, and I think that idea has gone the way of all bad ideas. Still, I found that writing fiction, even if it meant writing stories for youngsters, was not where I excelled. I am leaving the creation of the next great American novel to someone else's imagination. (But let me know as soon as it comes out, because I surely want to read it.)

I do best with nonfiction, with writing devotions, or telling stories of the stuff of life, or doing a bit of philosophizing here and there. And yet, just as the artist who works best with water colors occasionally ventures into painting with oils, so, over the years I have found myself wanting to leave the comfort of prose and place words into a different medium.

Hence, in honor of Holy Week, I offer the following:

O Lamb of God, Have Mercy 

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord,
Wholly uncomplaining
Silently You suffer scorn,
Power and might disdaining.

By Your suffering and death
You satisfy the thirsty.
You make the wounded spirit cry:
“Oh, Lamb of God have mercy.”

Trembling, I seek Your Grace
My sins stand e’er before me.
I would not dare to face Your Face
Lest you came to restore me.

Holy Week 2007


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hidden in My Heart

My classmates and I did a lot of memorizing as children. Not only did we learn the multiplication tables for math, we had memory work every morning for religion class. We learned A LOT of Bible verses! (One thing that was never stressed when we did our Bible verses for the day, was their location in the Bible. I have often wished I had learned that, especially now that I have a greater understanding of the Bible as a whole. Knowing that a verse came from Isaiah, or Daniel, or the Psalms in the Old Testament, or from Matthew, John, or Galations in the New Testament puts a whole new layer of understanding on the verse.)

Other than that shortcoming, I have been blessed by this learning. So many of those verses have come to mind just when I needed to hear them.

"I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me."

"Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you."

"Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you."

"Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow will take thought of the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

"Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You."

These verses roll out of my mind freely, words of inspiration and comfort, ready to minister to any need at any moment of any day.

We learned hymns as well as Bible verses. I know a lot of hymns. (All the verses of many of them. When I find myself singing, "Feed Thy Children God Most Holy," I look at the clock and realize it is nearing suppertime.) Everything we need to know about our Christian faith is summed up in the six chief parts of Luther's Small Catechism, and we memorized all of it,  right along with Luther's explainations for each section. (This is most certainly true.)

Our children went to parochial school, too. Reciting memory work was the last thing they did before hustling out the door for school. An old saying goes, "Memorization is the key to learning." Are your children being steeped in this most important discipline? Are they hiding God's word in their hearts where it can never be taken from them? God's word my not be so freely available in times to come. Are you feeding yourselves and your children a steady diet of God's Word while you can?

Paul and I read Haley's Bible Commentary along with scripture, and when we got to his notes on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7, Haley said, "Every Christian should know the Sermon on the Mount by heart." Wow, I thought. That's a tall order. And then, as we read those three chapters, I realized that I had memorized almost every one of those verses at one time or another, just not in the order they appear in that sermon. Those of you who went to parochial school, as did I, check it out.

I think I am up to the challenge. How about it? Who wants to memorize the Sermon on the Mount with me?

I dare you.

I double dare you.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Artist in Me

Some days I do so little that I wonder where the day has gone, and what I have to show for it? Then the philosophical predisposition within in me asks, "Am I supposed to do something productive each day? Who decides what is productive?  Does thinking count?"

 I find that I need long periods of  "down" time. When I deny myself these spaces of suspended action, I accomplish more of the things that are measurable. I get the groceries, I cook the meals , I keep up with the laundry and the housework. I go to my job and  fulfill my duties there. In essence, I live a balanced life. I've never felt fulfilled doing that. Having a finished product to show for the day's effort has never been important to me.

I have friends who love the feeling of a job well done, no matter the task. They love to cross things off of lists. They love making lists. Strangely, I can cross off all the tasks of an enormous list and feel no satifaction, especially if the things on that list have little importance to me.

I hate errands. Paul always took care of those running around chores. He went to the bank, he grocery shopped, he went to the post office, he filled the cars with gas. He liked doing those tasks. I did not.

Those activities felt like a waste of time to me. I wanted to waste my time in a different way. I wanted to be quiescent so that I could burst on the scene of my choosing with all the energy I would need for the task at hand. I wanted to do grand things like have eight children, or have a family singing group that toured the country, or have my kids do radio and television commercials and movies, or write a book, or give my husband a kidney, or ......

I still feel guilty on days like today, where I have nothing concrete to show for my efforts. Still, I know in my heart that days like this one lead to days where the extraordinary happens. I  have to remind myself that my rhythm is the right one for me.

I am comforted to know that others with a similar artistic bent struggle with these same issues:

"When I work, I work very fast, but preparing to work can take any length of time."  Cy Twombly

"True artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness."  Eckhart Tolle

Ah, I feel better now. 


Monday, April 18, 2011

Sweet Melody

I think you could call all of our children muscians. Music has played a big part in our family. We toured for many years as the Klemp Family Singers, and recorded three record albums during that time. (That was still the day of albums and tapes. We recently had the recordings changed over to digital, but never actully cut cd's from the converted recordings). All of the kids play a musical instrumant, and as a band director, Peter plays almost all mucical instrumants.

They did a lot of musical theater, mostly as actors, but sometiomes as musicians in the pit orchestra. Sarah just turned down a chance to do a show. (It's a little tricky to fit that in with three pre-schoolers.)

All of them took piano lessons.  (We had seven kids in piano lessons at one time one year. The only thing more expensive was car insurance. We always paid more in car insurance each year than we paid for the cars themselves.) They had  variable levels of success on the piano. (Phil is a church organist, choir director and teaches music in the school.)

Most of our children play the guitar. (Matt plays an especially mean guitar). All of them played in the high school band. Phil (trumpet), Pete (drums), Matt (trombone), Steve, (alto sax and bass guitar), Paula, (flute), Marcus, (drums), Anna, (clarinet) and Sarah (bari sax), and most of them played in the jazz band (or sang in choir) as well.

The boys even had their own band, Clockwyz. They played at youth gatherings, got hired for a couple of proms, and even did one wedding dance. They could never figure out why the bars would not book them until they took a look at their picture. What a bunch of baby faces! Both Paula and Anna currently sing back up vocals in a local band, and in their chruch praise bands, and Sarah plays in her church bell choir.

There was always music in our home....and then they grew up, and left. We have a piano in the garage, several unplugged keyboards and a lot of electronics in the basement, but it is pretty quiet around here now.

I still sing a lot of hymns (a habit that goes way back to childhood), and Paul often has some classical music going in his study, but it just is not the same.

I miss the music.