Monthly Archives: August 2022


“When we say that ‘God is love’, we do not mean that God’s love is the same as any earthly love that we have known…We are saying, though, that there is a reality, love, that exists; it is the most precious relation in the world. It is what we are like if we are ever at our best–what we should dream to be.”
~Steven Cone, Theology from the Great Tradition~

I don’t know any other way to say this, but for a long time, homeschooling really was kind of the dream life. The journals I kept remind me that it wasn’t always, but the fondness I hold for our homeschooling years and the people who filled them is something that can never be taken from me. It’s funny, even leading up to the week before, I would run into a pile of math books and think, “You know? Maybe I really could do this again.” As I type, the book piles remain as a work in progress in the schoolroom. Again, the week before school, when I had yet to fully decide in my heart which path we were taking, or to fully accept the path already laid out for us, I came across The Epic of Gilgamesh. I started a new pile, designated as “Books We Are Going to Read This Year.”

But every time I tried to take that path, it was like an image appeared in my mind of a door. I somehow knew that the door was for homeschooling. Taped across the door was a sign with bold letters, with a single word: “No.” In front of the door, as if I was watching myself from an outside place, was my body on its side, curled up in a ball. My head rested on a rock as a pillow. It was like the part of me that had always said, “I can do anything, I will do anything…” had laid down in front of the door and said, “I can’t”. The other parts of me looked around. They said nothing to each other and nothing to the part of me curled up in a ball. It was no use trying to tell her to reconsider or get up, not that anyone tried to do so. They stood there in silence and said, “Ok”.

This morning I went to the Y and swam. This was the second time I’ve gone this week. The grade school is only a few miles away from the Y, which is a different one than I have gone to in past times. Even more than walking, where my legs and heart must carry the extra weight of my upper body, the non-weightbearing activity I’m allowed in the water feels to me doable and healing right now. The paddle-boarding has also been good. Overall school for everyone here has been going well. I’ve got an assignment due this weekend where we’re supposed to use our readings and scholarly articles to write a 5-page paper about self-care. Five doesn’t seem like enough pages to cover that, but I’m also glad it doesn’t have to be any longer. That’s what I’m needing to get started on now.


When our oldest son was a baby, he had a babysitter named Jennifer. She was a seminary wife and mother of four who lived on campus. She watched four babies during the day, one of them being her own. The babies names were Madison, Judah, Ethan, and Anna (her baby). Even though I would normally think that one woman watching four babies would be way too much, I felt better in knowing she was an experienced mom.

Josh was a student and I was a student. When we first started dropping him off, he was still refusing to use a sippy cup or bottle. On the longest day, he would be with Jennifer from 7AM-5PM. I remember wondering what I was supposed to do regarding him drinking. He was an older baby, eating a diet of ham, cheese, green beans, and peaches nearly every day off of the baby lunch plate we sent with him. Because he was getting food, I knew he wasn’t starving and wouldn’t starve while I was gone. I was worried about him being thirsty.

In the afternoon break between classes I’d drive the 20 minutes back to Jennifer’s house and nurse him. I also wondered whether or not this was going overboard. With Jennifer not being a first time mom, I was certain this was something she would not have done. Ultimately my concern for his welfare overruled any concerns I had about whatever someone else might possibly think about me. Eventually he began drinking water out of a sippy cup. In the evenings when I’d be watching him from the couch, he would toddle up to me saying “muck, muck”. Once he started standing up and leaning over my side-laying body to nurse, I decided it was probably time to wean him.

He nursed for 22 months, the second longest of all my kids. The longest was the youngest who weaned at age four. On his third birthday I told him that he was big enough to not need baby milk anymore. “Baby milk” is what he called it. This is the one who I never needed to potty-train, because he learned by watching his older brothers. He would take his diaper off in the morning and leave it next to his potty in the bathroom. Then he’d put on his underwear and walk around in that for the rest of the day.

The ones in the middle received their attention too. My daughter nursed for 15 months, my next son for 18, and the next one for 20. Weaning my daughter when I did was something I ended up regretting, having done so hoping I’d get pregnant sooner, later feeling as though we had missed out on bonding time. The other two were weaned after I was pregnant, when something about the hormone changes made it too painful to nurse.


“Instead of bombarding us with everything that needs to change, God shows us, piece by piece, where growth is possible.”
~Skills for Effective Counseling: a Faith-Based Integration~

This year the boys are enrolled at one of the local Lutheran grade schools. Earlier this month I went and toured the school and met with the enrollment coordinator and principal. If I had more of a story or a reason behind why I did this, I’d say so, but I don’t. I was mostly just exploring an option, wanting to see what the options even were, and find out whether or not the financial requirements would even be an option for us.

I’d heard this school was good about accommodating homeschoolers. I had originally gone to inquire about working out something for the afternoons where the boys could come for some electives. I asked the principal to be honest with me about how they feel about having homeschoolers come part-time. She said that while she could see where it’d be fun to come in the afternoons, for her money, she’d rather see students come for the mornings when the core curriculum classes take place. Using a block schedule, the core classes are Religion, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

Today was their first day. They are signed up for the half-day mornings, 8AM-12PM, five days a week. I think we’re all going through our own adjustments, but overall everyone is on board, and they had a good day. In many ways I see this simply as a continuation of the learning we’ve been doing: “Okay, boys, this is what school is and this is what going to school is like.” I continue to be grateful for this journey we’re on.


“In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people…”
~Isaiah 28~

Toward the end of St. John of the Cross’s work The Dark Night, he writes about the three faculties of the soul being acted upon by God. He identifies these faculties as the intellect, the memory, and the will. Through the soul’s dark night, which can also be representative of the Christian’s earthly pilgrimage to his eternal belonging and reunion with Christ, and which was suffered most acutely by our Lord himself on Calvary’s cross, the intellect becomes faith, the memory becomes hope, and the human will is transformed into love. The theological virtues of faith, hope, and love are our present partaking in Christ by which Christians are given victory over every earthly enemy.

He pairs the heavenly gifts of faith, hope, and love with the Christian’s enemies; the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. Against the devil we are given the gift of faith. When describing the armor of God, St. Paul identifies the shield of faith as the element by which we extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one. Faith comes by hearing the word, and the word of God is divine power to silence the devil in his temptations, words of condemnation, and terrors. Hope is the strength by which we now face the world. Looking beyond it’s meager pleasures and enticements, still residing in a world where death, decay, and corruption would only lead us to despair, hope is the turned renewal of forward vision toward the God who rich in mercy has promised to love us all the way home.

“This is the ordinary task of hope in the soul;” he writes, “it raises the eyes to look only at God…” He is the only one whose grace is sufficient to sustain us when life’s storms would swiftly destroy us. He kneels there beside us in trials and sorrows, and opens his hands to collect every tear. To look to God is to behold again the one who loves, knows, and created us, who does not hide his face when we need him but holds the treasures of life and peace before us of remaking and restoring our innermost being and raising up our flesh and bone. In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, a nightless hope laid up in heaven, a home in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.

Nineteen Years

During our wedding ceremony I remember being embarrassed by what the pastor was wearing. The heat index was nearing 100 degrees and he had on what looked like a furry grey poncho. I’d never seen a pastor wear anything like that. I was already uncomfortable with the fact that the word “Homily” was in our wedding bulletin and that we were saying The Lord’s Prayer. My family and friends, my high school music teacher who I would’ve married in a heartbeat had he not already been so himself, all these other people, though Christians, weren’t Lutheran. I wasn’t either.

My mortification increased substantially the second he pulled out the meat cleaver, which could’ve been some kind of hatchet or ax for all I knew, and started swinging it around during the message. “Cleave to, not from” are the words from that day I will never forget. He had many other wonderful words, ones that I did not remember as readily, but would be eager to find again and absorb. For a long time I was ashamed of the wedding pictures taken during the ceremony. The onlookers seemed amused and delighted by the hatchet, but the look on my face reveals I was not.

I again recall a fight we had after our first pre-marital counseling session. The pastor hadn’t prayed with us, and I thought that was weird, like it seemed to me that the man who’d be guiding us into something as serious and monumental as marriage should’ve at least at first, or at some point along the way, consulted God in the matter. And such was the beginning of a history of poorly played notes, a record of wrongs I never dreamed of obtaining, nor ever intended to keep. Be gone the day, that horrid day, when I traded good intentions for being stuck in my ways.

“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.” Praise God for forgiveness, the most beautiful of gifts, that has been granted to us alongside everlasting life. “Hold up the cross, never hold up the cross”, he said, something like that, as the homily went on. The words were as good, true, and beautiful as the marriage bond itself, this covenantal union that heals and simultaneously breaks our hearts. It breaks them as inside and out there still exists evil, and this world is not yet itself fully healed.

And it heals them because true love, of any kind, drives us to God, to Jesus our Savior, the healer and lover of all and most perfect of bridegrooms. It’s not a knock on me, or an insult to any other, to speak the truth about who Jesus is. For it is in his word of truth that our hearts are set free. He wants us to come to him with whatever it is that is on our minds, burdening our souls, or tearing open our hearts. And when we do he listens, and loves, and turns us back, that we might enter into the heart he shares and love again more fully. A love that blesses, and heals, and forgives, and lives on.


“Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.”
~Psalm 111:2~

Anymore it seems to me like the reason we are here on earth is to enjoy what God has given us and love other people. If we’ve been given a mind that thinks and works, we can enjoy a life thinking on the things of God, and love others by sharing the thoughts that God gives us. If we have been given the gift of days, we can live a life of praise with our bodies, where every step is an offering of love, every breath a song that God placed in us.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood

See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a tribute far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

(When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Isaac Waats)


“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
~1 Corinthians 13:13~

I guess at some point after a break you have to come back and write again. It’s been a month, a little more, and somehow I thought the returning to writing here was going to be easier, like if I waited in the quiet just another whole day, then somehow I’d magically have the words. Indeed, with each hour that passes me by, the soulspace that at one time was duly needing to be cleared for other things, has become more and more filled with the painful reminder that I have yet to come back here. I feel now as though I have tarried too long.

Our summer camp program finished up over the weekend. Every year it goes by faster. In the beginning of the summer, I thought that one of the things I could do to keep me focused and help me through the busier season would be to take some time to showcase the ministry that happens here. As it was, this wasn’t the year for that, though it was directive again to remember that Christian ministry has gone on for millennia without the aid of flyers, social media, or broadcasters. Where two or three are gathered, where the Holy Spirit dwells, there God also is in the midst of his people.

Normally I try to write at least three paragraphs. Something that somehow got started through blogging was this thing I do where my paragraphs all have to be the same number of lines and the following paragraph has to eventually end up as the same shape as the previous one. It can really be a pain to have to do it like this, but at this point I don’t know how else to do it. Obviously it’s impossible for this to happen every time. Sometimes when you publish, what was symmetrical in the draft looks totally different on the page, with a line or a word sticking out where it wasn’t before. Still God’s light shines overhead.