Children Family Hymnody Music

Evening Hymn

I can visually remember the words of the hymn up on the overhead in Mrs. Kraus’ first grade classroom. “Lord Jesus, who dost love me…” I can also remember having difficulty finding the hymn in the hymnal at home because we didn’t learn the first stanza.

Those final two stanzas of Paul Gerhardt’s evening hymn, “Now Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow” have probably been sung in our home more than any others. I have sung them to the all kids at bedtime since they were born. I have also sung these stanzas frequently in hospital rooms and in the sick room.

Tomorrow evening our school kids will be singing this hymn during our Lenten Compline service at church. They have been learning it and practicing it at school, and we’ve been singing it at night before bed.

I took one year of piano lessons in grade school, and a few lessons here and there since then. I’ve always wished I had stuck with it, and I’ve always had a strong desire to at least be able to play hymns. For many years now I have spent considerable time at the piano playing through hymns, often slowly and with many mistakes. Since we have had a piano in our home, I have been able to play much more regularly, and there are at least a handful of hymns that I can play fairly well. This evening hymn is one of those. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to be able to accompany my children and sing these words with them.

Now rest beneath night’s shadow
The woodland, field, and meadow;
The world in slumber lies.
But you, my heart, awaken,
With prayer and song be taken;
Let praise to your Creator rise.

The rule of day is over
And shining jewels cover
The heaven’s boundless blue.
Thus I shall shine in heaven,
Where crowns of gold are given
To all who faithful prove and true.

Lord Jesus, since you love me,
Oh, spread your wings above me
And shield me from alarm.
Though Satan would assail me,
Your mercy will not fail me;
I rest in your protecting arm.

My loved ones rest securely,
For God this night will surely
From peril guard your heads.
Sweet slumbers may he send you
And bid his hosts attend you
And through the night watch o’er your beds. (CW 587)

Devotions Family Military

In this and every place

In one of the orders we use for evening devotions at home, we pray this petition:

For those who work to bring peace, justice, health, and protection in this and every place, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy.

Today Auntie Liz (Sara’s sister), who has been living in El Paso for a year now as a nurse at the Army hospital here, left for a six month deployment to Iraq. It has been such a blessing for us to have her here, so we are going to miss her immensely.

We are already looking forward to when she will be back in this place. But until then we will continue to call on the Lord to be merciful to her and all those who serve—in every place they may be.

Children Family

Joanna Eveline

Today at 11:24am, we welcomed Joanna Eveline Caauwe into our family. She weighed 8lbs, 5 oz., and was 20 inches long. She did break our “girl…boy…” pattern, but she gets us into the “four daughter” club—an exclusive group of families that have the privilege of raising four girls. I can think of a few closely related families which have that distinction.

I was reminded today what a treasure and a gift each child is. One might be tempted to think that the birth of the sixth might be less remarkable, as though “cheaper by the half-dozen” somehow made Joanna just “one more.” But it is never that way. My vocation as parent is not simply “child x 6”. With each child the complexity and privilege of this calling multiplies exponentially.

Our intent is that Joanna will be born again by Word and Water on January 9th, when we also observe the First Sunday after the Epiphany, the Baptism of our Lord.

I have a gallery of pictures up here, which you can subscribe to if you would like to be notified when I add more.


The Caauwe Express

For almost nine months now, we have been aware that our 7 passenger Toyota Sienna was soon to be too small for our family. For a few months we’ve been looking for a van that would fit our family, as well as let Auntie Liz have a seat. We also realize that eventually the kids will actually get bigger.

It was surprising how hard it was to find used vans that fit this description. Turns out they seem to be about as rare as families with more than 5 kids. But I managed to find one about 3,000 feet from the border. It’s an ’05 12-passenger Chevy Express. It’s well used, but I hope that it will become just as well used in the years to come.

Baseball Family Military Travel


I spent most of the last half of September on the road. On September 13–15 I was in Norfolk, Virginia, for a WELS Military Contact Pastor Workshop. This is for pastors who serve near military installations. There were over 20 pastors there from all over the country. The workshop itself was quite good, and it gave me the opportunity to visit with old friends and to get to know some new ones. We were able to tour the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS George HW Bush.

On September 19th, I traveled to Milwaukee so that I could attend the Symposium on Worship and Outreach at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. From there I made my way up to Oshkosh, then Rhinelander, then New Ulm, MN, spending the next week in the Twin Cities. We were there for Sara’s brother’s wedding. In between the Symposium and the wedding, I was able to spend time with all my siblings who live in the area, and a great number of friends. I realized later that I was able to spend time with each of the men who stood up with me in my wedding. What was remarkable and enjoyable was not only to spend time with the guys, but I also got to see their families. When I got married, all of those men were single, and now they are all married with children. It was really quite a joy to see these friends of mine now fulfilling their calling as fathers.

During these weeks I was able to step onto the campuses of Seminary, college, and high school. Interestingly, all three of them have new or remodeled chapels which were completed after I graduated. The new chapel at Martin Luther College is the most stunning. I’m looking forward to seeing more of that facility next summer at the WELS National Worship Conference. I got to see a Twins game with my brothers at the new Target Field. I got a couple hours out at the farm. I even stopped for a couple hours and walked around at Bush Lake Park, where I worked summers during college. I even ran into my old boss, who happened to be driving through the park.

So I can really say that I was able to make the most of the time. The only thing that could have made it more complete is if I would have been able to do it all without being away from my family. I realize that it probably would not have been possible. It’s probably not a trip that I’ll be able to make again. But if it means being away from Sara and the kids for nearly two weeks, I don’t think I’ll want to.

Here’s a link to a collection of pictures from the trip.


Children Family


This morning I had the privilege of accompanying my bride to an ultrasound appointment. Yes, in early January we will be expecting our sixth child.

I was just about to write about the fact that no matter how many I see, it always becomes real for me when I see the little fingers moving around. Then I thought to myself that I might have written something like that. Here’s what I posted on September 22, 2008, when we saw Miriam for the first time:

Today we got to see ultrasound images of our littlest one. We’ve seen plenty of ultrasound pictures, but seeing those little arms and feet moving around never gets old. It always amazes me to see four chambers of the heart and a cross section of this or that, or to measure the skull or abdomen. But what always gets me are the little fingers and toes.

The remarkable thing is that it gets me every time, but the reason that it does (I think) is because each new child is a new child. Yes, they have so many similarities and they do so many of the same things. But the thing that gets me about the whole things is just how different and unique they all are. Nearly every day I marvel at some unique trait of one of the kids. And that uniqueness starts now. This baby at 18 weeks is not same as any of the others.

Seeing a new baby squirming around in the womb brings home to me the reality that—God-willing—I will now have the opportunity to get to know a brand new member of our family. It reminds me that my vocation as father just got bigger. It reminds me that God has heaped upon me and my family yet another blessing from his gracious hand.


As a Helper

On June 26, 1998, I was spending some time—as I often did—out at the farm with my Grandpa. We spent our time either working or talking. I knew that those conversations would not last forever, and so I occasionally brought along a little tape recorder and captured those stories that Grandpa told.

The conversations went all over the place, but on this particular day Grandpa had a few words about marriage. The tape recorder captured this little piece of advice, from an 89-year-old grandfather to his 19-year-old grandson.

You have to be careful who you marry. Your girl is going to New Ulm school. If she stays there, and you get married together, I probably will help you. Somebody that goes with you. It can be nice, if you can stay together. You don’t know where you will be sent; God will have to lead you. She goes with you as a helper.

Just three years later, on June 23, 2001, I married this girl after we both graduated from this school in New Ulm (Martin Luther College). Grandpa had told me that he would come to our wedding, and that he would help us. He never got that opportunity. But I have treasured these few words of wisdom that he shared with me that day. My grandparents’ marriage spanned 47 years—till death parted them. I assume that he knew what he was talking about. He knew that if husband and wife stick together, it can be nice—even if life isn’t always so nice and easy. He understood, I suppose, what it means to have a wife as “a helper suitable for him” (Gen 1:18).

I can’t say that I understood all that then. But as I reflect on those words today, and as I reflect on the nine years Sara and I have been married, I think to myself, “I do now.” She has gone with me as a helper, as I completed my training at the Seminary, as we packed up and moved to California and then to Texas. As a helper, she has become the mother of our five children and continues to nurture and care for them with diligence and patience. As a helper, she runs this household in such a way that allows me to serve as a pastor and spiritual father to the members of our congregation.

And so I realize that Grandpa was right. It can be nice. When we stay together. When we live within God’s design for marriage, as a head with his helpmate. When we serve each other. It can be nice. It has. That does not mean it has always been easy. It does not mean that it ever will be perfect. But God has given me a treasure, a gift, in my bride. And I look forward to every day that God has in store for us.

Devotions Family


There’s something incredibly encouraging about sitting around a full dinner table with a fully lit Advent wreath, singing hymns of Advent and Christmas.

Family Ministry

September 1999–September 2009

I guess that makes it 10 years ago that Grandpa Linkert entered glory. September 3, 1999. I don’t know that I thought about it much when the actual day came earlier this month, but I have had several opportunities to remember recently.

  • A couple weeks ago a member asked me for the contact information for the WELS European Chaplain. That’s Josh Martin, who was the vicar who just arrived in Hastings in August ’99 and who (I was told) was arriving for one of his first solo hospital calls when Grandpa died.
  • Every year at the start of catechism class, I explain to my students the way my grandparents found a new church when they moved to a new town. He used his catechism to determine the teaching of the church to which he would belong. I make the point that is was because of what someone learned in catechism class back in 1922 that I am standing in front of them—teaching the same catechism.
  • Last week in Bible Information Class, in our lesson on the resurrection of the dead, we talked about the glorified bodies which believers will receive. I mentioned how Grandpa was pretty hopeful that he would get his thumb back. (He had lost his thumb in a farm accident.)
  • Last week I finally bought a desk for our “extra” room upstairs. That allowed me to get out all my Model ‘H‘ memorabilia. It prompted my Andrew to ask questions about the tractor and my Grandpa, so we spent some time looking through old pictures. I noticed the picture of the barn repair that Grandpa and I did after the storm knocked in the wall of the feed room. We were both in the barn when the storm hit. We saw the pictures of Grandpa on the tractor with the whole family surrounding him at one of the reunions. And all the many pictures of Grandpa surrounded by kids, usually with someone on his lap. I imagine I’m not the only one of my cousins who wish that their kids would have had the chance to sit on Grosspapa’s lap.
  • Today I was playing through next Sunday’s hymns. The Hymn of the Day is “Come, Follow Me, the Savior Spoke.” Grandpa sang a lot of hymns. But there are certain ones that I can remember the way it sounded while he sang them. This is one of them. He would sing while milking the cows. And in my mind, I can hear the way his voice sang the last words of each phrase, “a-bid-ing” and “guid-ing.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that sound.


I could really go on and on with memories that I have of my Grandpa. But what’s really interesting is just how often I find some way in which his life and the time I spent with him influences my life. The examples above are just the obvious ones. That’s not even to mention the fact that Grandpa was certainly the greatest single influence on my decision to study for the ministry. And how many other areas of my life—church, home, you name it—are still impacted by the things I learned from him.

There is one thing, though, that I think goes beyond the others. My family will remember that mornings after breakfast was time for devotion. A Bible reading, Meditations (or Portals of Prayer), The Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed, Luther’s Morning Prayer. Every day.

I spent many summers out at the farm. Sometime after Grandma died (1986?), for at least one summer, I stayed with Grandpa in his room. I kept a journal for a good part of that summer, and I would write these insignificant details about the day, like where the cows were grazing and which field was being cultivated. I would regularly write the first and last things of each day. And it struck me how many times I would wake up to find Grandpa reading his Bible and I would go to sleep while he was still reading (Yes, with his face right up to the book with his magnifying glass in between). And then how many times Grandpa would mention whatever it was that he was reading sometime during the course of the day.

If there is one thing that I take as an example from my grandfather, it is this. That I would have such a love for the Word of God that I would keep it as my constant companion, from morning to night, whether I’m milking cows or tending my sheep.

High School GraduationAt our family reunion in 1999, I had some time to talk with Grandpa. We were in the house. I think the bonfire was still going. We must have been singing a little bit, because I remember singing with him a hymn that I learned was the hymn he used as a prayer before worship. I have taken that as my prayer, too, as I prepare to serve the congregation with the means of grace each Sunday. That night we sang it in German, and I usually use the German, too, but here it is in English:

Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,
For round us falls the eventide,
Nor let your Word, that heavenly light,
For us be ever veiled in night.

In these last days of sore distress
Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness
That pure we keep, till life is spent,
Your holy Word and Sacrament.

Oh, grant that in your holy Word
We here may live and die, dear Lord,
And when our journey’s ending here,
Receive us into glory there. (CW 541, st. 1,3,7)

Children Family Military


DSC_8011 The little girl to the right of Miriam in this picture is about two months younger than Miriam. This afternoon, her daddy left for a 5-month deployment overseas. 

It makes me think of two things. 1) It makes me appreciate and enjoy every day that I have to watch all my little ones grow. I may not get to be home with them as much as I would like, but I don't have to be away for even days at a time, much less months.  2) It makes me appreciate the sacrifice that other fathers will make so that I can live in safety and be with my family. 

This appreciation sheds new light on the vocations in which I serve. What else can I do but to strive to be the best father and husband I can? And to be a shepherd to families such as this, in times such as this? What else could I want?