The Great Trump Debates of 2016, Part One

As we approach the presidential elections, much (okay, pretty much all) of the conversation has centered on the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Conservatives in particular have struggled with their opinions about and obligation to their party’s candidate.  Some of us (and I am on record as being a part of this camp) find the candidate so reprehensible that we cannot and will not, with good conscience, cast a vote on his behalf. Others, while less than enthralled with the idea of a Trump presidency, see the alternative of President Hilary Clinton as significantly worse, and are willing to hold their nose and vote along the party line.  Still others are excited about having an outsider candidate crashing the party and shaking things up a bit, and are looking forward to voting for Trump in November.

Recently, I started a conversation with my cousin Mark (technically, second cousin, but we’re all family) about the merits and demerits of Donald Trump, with Mark voicing the “pro” side (with significant reservation) and me the “con.”  This started on Facebook (in the comments of another family member’s post), migrated to email, and now—with Mark’s permission—is being shared here for the world to see. I thank Mark for his willingness to share this conversation, and for proving that there is still room for discourse even when opinions diverge.

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A Tribute to a Great-Grandfather

I want to offer a short tribute to my wife’s grandfather, Ralph Friedrich, who passed away last week at the age of 97.

My remembrances of Grandpa Friedrich are limited, having come into the family at such a late point in time. My earliest memories are of a man much younger than his accrued years, who drove himself from Michigan to DC at the age of 90 to attend his beloved granddaughter’s wedding. A man with a quick wit and a sparkle in his eye, always with a smile on his face and a story to tell.

Grandpa_FriedrichShortly after that wedding, Grandpa suffered a stroke that took away much of his independence. Yet while his ability to move around was reduced and his speech became more and more labored, the twinkle never left his eye.

Three years ago, we were blessed to be able to take the kids (well, the three of them that were around at the time) out to Michigan to introduce them to their great grandfather. And while Grandpa struggled to speak, his eyes told the story of a man content with a life well lived, and a legacy that would continue well after he had left this world for the next.

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Lessons Learned by a Dad of Four

I know, I know … it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything to this blog, and many of you have been wondering, ” So Steve, why aren’t we hearing more from you about your newly expanded family and those sweet, cherubic children of yours?  When are we going to see more pictures and hear more about their humorous escapades?”  My typical response to this is, “I’m getting around to it, mom – be patient.”

All Four Kids
The Rempe crew, welcoming baby Matthew from the hospital.  (Note the princess dress.)

The truth is, the reason I haven’t written more about the madhouse I share with four children four and under is … well, I live in a madhouse that I share with four children four and under.  That is to say, waking moments at home tend to be spent (a) getting the kids to do something they don’t want to do; (b) getting the kids to stop doing something I don’t want them to do; (c) cleaning up after the kids following my failure to accomplish (b); or (d) recovering from my efforts on points (a), (b), and (c).

Yes, this is an exhausting stage in life, and one that doesn’t lend itself to evenings of quiet reflection in the parlor while sipping on a spot of Earl Grey and typing out thoughts on the ol’ Smith Corona.  At this point, the closest thing to a private study is my little cubicle at the office, where – if I’m lucky – I’m able to squeeze out a few moments a week to write once the day’s work is done, fueled by sugary beverages that allow me to ignore the lack of sleep I had the previous night.

This is not to complain, though.  Sleep deprivation aside, I love the life and challenges that come with being a dad of four.  And I readily acknowledge that when it comes to the challenges of parenting, my wife deals with much, much more than I do, and for longer periods of time.  (Although, in my defense, most of my friends of similar age have long since seen this effort-intensive period of child rearing fade from the rear-view mirror.  To which Beth would probably respond, “Well, stop giving me children.”  Fair point.)

Indeed, flying in the face of that old axiom, this old dog has actually learned some new tricks when it comes to parenting small children.  So, should any of you find yourselves raising a pack of little ones, here are few life lessons learned from this daddy of four.

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A Trip to the Zoo

The second day of the Tour de Rempe (the first not spent entirely on the road) began with a trip to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.  The kids had a great time watching the animals in their natural habitats (kinda’), and were only slightly concerned when I tried to convince them that “children’s zoo” meant it was a zoo where kids were kept for display.  (I think Caleb was actually a little disappointed when he realized this wasn’t the case.)

Aunt Mary and Uncle Stan were the perfect tour guides, steering us toward the best path for optimal animal viewing for the short amount of time we had available to us.  Afterward, we retreated back to their house for a nice lunch (a/k/a, the dinner we didn’t get to the night before), and spent a fair amount of time exploring the myriad of sounds that could be produced on Aunt Mary’s organ.  Grace in particular has inherited dad’s love of music.  Whether she has mom’s actual musical talent or not remains to be seen.

All in all, our brief stay in Fort Wayne was very enjoyable.  I’m sure we could have spent more time exploring all there is to see and do in northeast Indiana, but the road beckoned, and soon we were back on the road, headed north to introduce the kids to their great grandfather.

Next up: a trip to Grand Rapids, and a step back in time.

Lessons from a Children’s Sermon

childrens-sermonLutheran worship is a very structured and orderly thing.  There are moments to stand, kneel, or sit, all of which are specifically laid out in the worship bulletin.  We have elements like the kyrie, the gloria in excelsis, and the nunc dimittis in our services, and while we might not know exactly how those words translate into English, we probably have the lyrics memorized, and can sing them with multiple harmonies.  Vestments and paraments are color coded to match the liturgical calendar, and the readings for any given Sunday are determined years in advance.   We can easily pick out visitors during the responsive readings, as they have yet to master the “Lutheran cadence” that can only be developed after years of attendance.

Now, I love the Lutheran liturgy.  There is something very cool about using the same words in the same order along with other Christians around the world and through the centuries.  The fact that the very structure of the service, and not just the homily, proclaims the Gospel is something that I have grown to appreciate more and more with each passing year.

That said, a little chaos now and then is good for the soul.  Perhaps this is why I so enjoy the Sundays where we have a children’s sermon in the middle of the service.  It’s five minutes of pure improv in the midst of a tightly wound, highly organized program.

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The Great Big Test o’ Rempeness

“I could’ve been a Rempe!”  I’ve heard this from a number of people over the years.  In most cases*, the person speaking is attesting that they share much in common with the Rempe boys, love some of the old family stories, and would have enjoyed being raised in our household.

But there is more to being a Rempe than sharing genetic code or a general lack of common sense.  There is an ethos, a mentality, a philosophy that permeates the very being of a natural-born Rempe.

Do you have what it takes to be an honorary Rempe?  The following questionnaire will help determine your level of Rempeness.**  Points for each answer will be revealed in the answer code.  Please proceed with caution.
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Baptism of Samuel Rempe

There are many different ways to describe baptism.  It is a cleansing and forgiveness of sin.  It is an imparting of the Holy Spirit.  It is adoption as God’s child, and initiation into the one holy and apostolic Church.  It is the drowning of the “Old Adam,” and the promise of a new life lived in Christ.  Baptism is all of these things, and more.

On September 9, Samuel Robert Rempe was baptized at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Virginia, and was welcomed into the Lord’s family.  Apparently, the old Adam was not too keen on the whole drowning thing, as Samuel cried pretty much through the whole ceremony.  (In a tactical error on our part, Beth and I found ourselves on one side of the baptismal font with a pacifier, with Grandmas Rempe and Friedrich on the other side holding said screaming infant.  I was tempted to relive my old basketball-playing days and transfer the pacifier with a well-placed hook shot, but I have my questions about mom’s hands, and I suspect that such a move would have been frowned upon in such a setting.)

Samuel was able to calm down long enough to take a few pictures after the service, and Grace and Caleb slowed down just long enough to remain in the frame for a couple of photos.  (Phase II: getting all the kids to look at the camera at the same time.  We hope to have this accomplished by Grace’s high school graduation.)

Thank you to all of you who were able to come out and join us on this blessed occasion.  For those of you who were unable to join us, here are a few photos.