All of the children

I wasn’t even there when it happened.

Board elections of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) had finally wrapped up for the day, so I was walking back from the convention floor to the press room, tallies in hand, intent on finishing my story for the Reporter within the hour.

It was then that my husband texted me:

They’re trying to move [Resolution] 3-04 to the floor.

I stopped in the empty convention center hallway and stared at my phone. What? Floor Committee 3 wasn’t even on the agenda for that day. And honestly, after two straight hours of recording election results, my brain couldn’t even recall what Resolution 3-04 was.

IVF. Voting now on the motion. No discussion. Gonna pass.

It suddenly hit me what was happening.

This was the resolution, the one that had been five years in the making; the one Rebecca Mayes and I had talked about with pastors at roundtable after roundtable; the one the sainted +Maggie Karner+ and I had discussed as being so necessary that LCMS Life Ministry ended up hosting two Infertility Ethics Symposiums at our Synod’s seminaries; the one Stephanie Neugebauer and the Sanctity of Human Life Committee had made a priority for the good of the church.

This was the resolution that asked our Synod president to assign a task force to study issues relating to procreation, fertility, and care for the unborn. This was the resolution that asked our church to study these matters and, God willing, to speak on them.

My husband had warned me earlier that, with the amount of business in need of being covered at this year’s convention, it most likely wouldn’t make it to the convention floor, but some blessed soul – Chris from Texas, I later learned – took it upon himself to make a motion from the floor outside of the orders of the day.

I quickened my pace to get to the press room. The convention was being live-streamed there. If I hurried, I just might make it in time.

“What’s happening?” I asked, turning around the corner and dropping my bag at my table.

Several reporters looked up at me with blank faces, fully engrossed in the stories they were currently writing on other convention business. No one had been watching the live stream.

IVF task force 95.75% adopted. Thanks be to God!

It was such a quiet, unassuming moment in time. I stared at my phone in disbelief, and then I looked up at the large television screen standing against the far wall. The convention chair was calmly moving the assembly on to the next order of business as if mountains had not just been moved. No cheers were thrown into the air by delegates, no applause rippled across the convention floor. The moment passed just as quickly and discreetly as it had come, and my senses simply weren’t fast enough in the chase.

I looked around at the other reporters, all diligently working, and I did what any other barren woman would do. I stepped out into the hall and cried as quietly as I could. I cried for all of the children frozen in liquid nitrogen; I cried for all of the children abandoned in fertility clinics; I cried for all of the children aborted; I cried for all of the children waiting to be loved, respected, and parented.

And I cried in thanksgiving that my church body is going to pay attention to them.

The LORD of all life be praised!

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A True Servant’s Heart

heartThank you to Jane Jensen, the second of our two submissions tied for third place, for reminding us that it is never a bad thing to have the ingredients for a chocolate cake pre-measured and ready to go.

The most important thing I learned from my mother is to be prepared. Our home was always tidy but there was cleaning to do before the weekends in case someone dropped in for a visit. Monday was wash day; Saturday nights our clothes were laid out for Sunday services. Shoes were polished, my offering for Sunday School was tied in a hankie and safely inserted in the pocket of my dress or coat. The Bible memory verse was recited to her and I’d better not embarrass her by flubbing up or forgetting.

Our clocks were all five to seven minutes fast so she could sit down and have a cup of coffee before going out the door. And heaven forbid if someone dawdled. She would not be late. My mother never drove so Dad drove us everywhere. “If that bell is ringing, don’t think I’ll walk into that church!” This was said in a no nonsense tone and we knew. If you had an appointment at 9:00 and you got there at 9:00 you were late because you had not gotten yourself prepared for what was to come such as questions for the doctor, or by walking in last you drew attention to yourself, another big no-no.

But Mom had a true servant’s heart. She gathered our favorite things to eat throughout the year for our big family Thanksgiving meal. Her grandsons loved black olives, there would be two cans. My brothers were hearty eaters so a big ham was purchased ahead of time, and the freezer held chickens ready to be fried and sometimes a turkey. At Thanksgiving she started making all her various cookies which were sealed in coffee cans and kept in the cold back porch until Christmas, unless her eight grandsons found them first!

I can still see on the counter a large glass jar that held the correct measurements of flour, sugar, cocoa and baking soda. These were for a cake so that all she had to do was add the eggs and other wet ingredients. When the phone rang that company was coming, quick as a whistle she had a cake in the oven and the coffee pot was always hot.

Mom always thought of others and was often the first or second to bring a meal or cake to someone who had experienced a death. She would think ahead to what we wanted for Christmas gifts or birthdays and made us feel special. When I turned 18 she had the place, food and decorations all in mind before I asked. All I had to do was write the invitations.

She lived well into her 80s, nineteen of those years without Dad. She knew where he was and where she was going, trusting in our Lord and Savior, Jesus. She was well prepared.

Jane Jensen

Perseverance in Faithfulness

Thank you to Cindy Roley, one of two who tied for third place in our anniversary writing contest, for helping us to see that the faithfulness of her mother is the good fruit born of God’s faithfulness to her in Jesus.MP900314217

Loraine Lois Engel. Isn’t that a lovely name? And what a beautiful girl she was with a lithe build and green-hazel eyes that emanated light and life! Small wonder that my dad was smitten with her and sought her as his wife and life partner.  

I was the first-born of three children into this family, the eldest and the only daughter.  How blessed am I to have enjoyed this position throughout my life! I remember my mom singing to me, reading to me, coloring with me. Indeed, often in parenting my own children, my prayer has been that I might be more of the sweet and encouraging mother she was – and remains to this day. Now, those memories continue to encourage me, as I, more and more, have the blessing of helping her.

From her, I learned, not only of my value to her, but also of my value to my Lord and Savior. Whenever trials of illness or accidental injury occurred, my mama’s response was always to comfort me and encourage me with words from my heavenly Father; she read Scripture to me. I learned respect for myself and respect for others from this woman, my mother, who obviously had a special relationship with her father. I know that, not only from witnessing her grief, when he died of cancer at the age of 60, but also, from the relationship she has with her heavenly Father, to whom she has faithfully born witness to her own children and succeeding generations.  

Mom has suffered many trials and much heartache, throughout the years – all born with an unwavering faith in the omniscience and omnipotence of her Triune God. Her faith in the faithfulness of her Savior never wavers. The many trials she has endured include the betrayal of friends, one of her children suffering polio, the death of loved ones, her own mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, knee replacements, the straying of loved ones from the faith, the stripping away of reason and sensibility in the governing of her beloved country, and the continuing struggle and heartbreak of remaining wife to a man, who no longer is able to faithfully and convincingly respond to her tireless ministrations for his health and comfort. How she grieves not only the day-to-day comfort and security of the love and support afforded her by the physical presence of her husband in their home, but especially the inability to take care of his many needs herself! What a powerful gift she lives out for all around her to see, as she travels almost daily to his place of residence to faithfully serve him, thus demonstrating his continuing value by not only caring for him, but also advocating for him. She bears witness to having respect for the life that our Lord continues to allow and faithfully fulfills her commitment to the vows she made to my dad before the Lord, over sixty-six years ago.  

My mom is a servant, a nurturing wife and mother, living out her faith, which is made possible by the Holy Spirit of Jesus that lives in her. She is a blessing to all who witness her faithfulness. I think of her when I ponder Romans 5:1-5, where we read, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (ESV)

Perseverance in faithfulness to my family, my neighbor, and, most importantly, to the Triune God, in response to His abundant mercy in my life, is the most important of what I have learned from my mother. What a great gift she is to me!

Cindy Roley

 

Some Things Just Need to Be Said

Thank you to Heidi Poyer, our first runner-up in the anniversary writing contest, for reminding us that some things just need to be said.

The most important thing I learned from my mother? Easy question. It’s what I’ve heard her share many times, with strangers and kinfolk alike:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV

Looking back, no single crystalizing moment comes to mind, no great and memorable episode to share. Yet I know that Christ crucified for my sins is the most important thing one can know, and I know I must have learned it from my mother, because where else would it have come from?

Of course, saving faith is a gift that comes from God alone. But in my case, my mother was one of the primary delivery people. She was the one who (along with my father) had me baptized, took me to church, enrolled me in Lutheran school, and made sure we did devotions after dinner. Our home was outfitted with religious art and reading materials, and young me turned to her when questions about God came up.

By her words and actions, I grew up knowing that not only is it true that Jesus died for me, but it is also important. Along those lines, I suppose I do have a memory to share after all.

One time, my mother was chatting over the picket fence with our next door neighbor. He off-handedly remarked that he didn’t believe in God. My mother was scandalized that anyone would say such a thing. Without hesitation, she bluntly and emphatically replied that he was going to hell, unless he believed that Jesus died on the cross to take away his sins.

It is not the only time my mother explicitly shared her faith, but it is representative of her style. I was quite young at the time and I probably am not even remembering it right, and also there is a lingering feeling of awkwardness associated with the memory.

I like to think there’s a lesson in that awkward feeling.

I’m often tempted to shy away from sharing my faith with others because I kind of wish that when I bear witness, I could do it just right, compassionately and with eloquence. However, I would do well instead to follow my mother’s example. She is familiar with God’s Word and shares it as it comes to her, with a strong conviction that it does not return empty, but accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent (Isaiah 55:11).

My mother’s willingness to make a faithful confession to anybody at any time is one of the qualities I admire about her the most. She is a nurse, and not a theologian, but when religion does come up, she can be counted on to make sure that salvation through faith in Christ alone gets shared.

It might not be artfully expressed, and there’s always the chance that the person she is talking to may get uncomfortable, or dismiss her Jesus talk as silly. My mother won’t let any of those things stop her, because some things just need to be said. Christ crucified belongs in the center of your life and the tip of your tongue, and she will make no bones about reminding you of that.

My childhood was not all sunshine and roses. Neither is my adulthood, for that matter. But I have always had the most important thing, the only thing that matters: the assurance that Jesus is my redeemer.

My mother taught me the faith. In doing so, she gave me everything.

Heidi Poyer

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“Childhood”

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Happy Five-Year Anniversary, dear readers! What a joy and help you all have been to us over the years in sharing the many blessings and burdens which accompany this life together in Christ.

We very much enjoyed reading everyone’s recent submissions on the prompt, “The most important thing I learned from my mother is…” Thank you to everyone who participated. As promised, we will be publishing our top picks this week. We ended up having a tie for the third-place slot, so we will be sharing four posts total instead of the originally promised three.

Today, however, is reserved for honoring our contest winner.

Congratulations to Alison Andreasen, daughter and poet, on winning a copy of He Remembers the Barren and for beautifully depicting through rhyme the precious gift your mother has given to you – a childhood marked by the loving and faithful proclamation of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the “Sustainer of our life and hers.”

“Childhood”
By Alison Andreasen

Childhood- the stage, the age-
Noted time of joy and play.
Messy hair, skinned up knees;
Signs of life and being free.

She had bruises, scabs and scars,
Not all from climbing trees-
Abuse, desertion, wounds, and tears
Marked this tender bloom.

Time gone by, stage antiquate,
Bloom now grown, somewhat assuaged.
Memories linger, scars remain.
Babes of her own now in her care.

Lesser pain, lesser fear,
Fewer bruises, fewer tears.
Who to credit with this difference?
The mystery unrevealed to us.

Until….

Despair, depression ran its course,
Dependent she became on Him-
The Father never known before,
Sustainer of our life and hers.

He protected, nurtured, loved
The wounded woman-child.
On His promises she clung
And rested in unfailing love.

Always there, all-knowing, kind,
Forgiving, patient. Sacrificing
Son to save His precious child;
Showing love to generations.

Never had she felt so free:
Joy complete; life replete.
Control -the thing outside her grasp,
And for it now she felt no need.

One word she taught me- “childhood.”
Relationship- her disposition.
No need to cling to false control-
Live trusting, clinging to His Word.

Child-hood; the state of being,
Trusting, resting, then receiving
Gifts of life and sustenance,
Flowing from His providence.

Given care as His creation,
Redeemed by Brother to us all,
Made Holy everyday by Spirit,
By Grace, no work of our own doing.

In thankfulness we live and breathe.
Mercy showered gently,
Undeserving grace bestowed,
How free it makes us- free indeed!

May we all live fully knowing
Who is owed all thanks and praise.
May we all be open, waiting,
When the final call is raised.

Then home He’ll bring us, His dear children;
Home from every tribe and nation.
We’ll rest and feast and sing rejoicing
For our Father’s gift- salvation!  

Bearing the Pain

pain

A co-worker sent me the link below. It’s an eye-opening account of what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I would imagine many readers of this blog will be able to relate to Christine Miserandino’s descriptions. Perhaps it’s not physical pain you carry with you each day – perhaps it’s emotional or psychological. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, if it occurs each day, or for certain seasons of your life, you know what it means to wear the “I’m doing fine” mask, and it makes you weary and feeling closed off from the rest of the “healthy” world. See Christine’s unique analogy here: ButYouDon’tLookSick.com.

Allow me to put things into perspective, though.

First, from Romans 8:18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

And second, from the Lutheran Service Book, Hymn 423:

Jesus, refuge of the weary,

Blest Redeemer whom we love,

Fountain in life’s desert dreary,

Savior from the world above:

Often have Your eyes, offended,

Gazed upon the sinner’s fall;

Yet upon the cross extended,

You have borne the pain of all.

Anniversary Writing Contest…

IMG_1099-2010-12-10A bit of history: Melissa DeGroot penned and published this blog’s first post on May 8, 2011. That was Mother’s Day, and this year, interestingly enough, Mother’s Day falls on May 8th, once again.

That means Mother’s Day is going to be our five-year anniversary.

Five years. Can you believe it?

So much has happened in all of our lives since then…adoptions, moves, books, births, illnesses, recoveries, and more barrenness. Some of the changes we have welcomed, and some of them we have only endured. Yet, we are the Baptized, so, in faith, we trust that God is working all of these changes (and unchanges) for our good.

Since this blog has always been about sharing in each other’s burdens and joys through the means of writing, we’ve decided to celebrate our five-year anniversary by hosting a writing contest.

The rules? They are simple:

  1. You must be an adult male or a female to submit an entry.
  2. Your entry must not exceed 600 words.
  3. Your entry must be submitted via email to katie@katieschuermann.com by noon on May 1, 2016, to be considered.
  4. Your entry must be in response to this prompt: “The most important thing I learned from my mother is…”

There are no rules for formatting or style. The entries will be judged on quality and content.

The winning entry will be published on this blog on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2016. Two runners-up will also be published on this blog the following week.

The author of the winning entry will also receive a signed copy of He Remembers the Barren.

Thank you for faithfully reading our posts over the years and for bearing with us in love. What comfort we have found in your fellowship!

Happy writing,

Your humble HRTB blog hosts/judges