Church

Born for You

fullsizeoutput_a9

My routine is identical every year.

I watch the last child leave the church — the first Christmas Eve service rehearsal officially in the books — then I drive home, unlock the front door, set my purse and music down on the front entryway bench, walk to the living room, lower myself onto the couch, and cry.

I usually cry for the entire afternoon.

It’s not that I am unhappy. It is that I am sad-happy.

So many hugs. So many songs. So many curious queries. So many eager entreaties for personal attention. So many little heads turned toward mine for affirmation. So many children, and none of them mine and all of them mine.

My barren heart overdoses on the sweet stimulation, and it comes out as salt water on my pillow. Grief is strange that way. It’s triggered by happiness. To be loved stirs up memories of loves lost. So many children, but none of them from my home. None of them in my home.

This year, the tears started long before any of us left the church.

“Christ the child was born for you!” the children sang into my face. The words entered my ear but landed in my heart. “Christ the child was born for you!”

The final chord faded, and the children — my children — stared openly at my red cheeks, my wet eyes. One of them giggled nervously.

“It’s okay,” I reassured, wiping at the river. I tried to think of anything but the present moment. It wasn’t time to commit to the annual cry. Not just yet. I took a deep breath. “Do you realize what you just sang to me? Those words are so comforting. Jesus was born for me! He is born for you! Thank you for comforting me with your song.”

The children simply watched, mystified.

“I will try not to cry when you sing on Christmas Eve,” I winked, still wiping, “but I might. This song comforts me, and I sometimes cry when I am happy.”

One boy scrunched up his nose. “People cry when they’re happy?”

“Adults do,” I said. “At least, some of them.”

“Why?”

No one was giggling anymore. Everyone was listening.

“I think,” I started, “it’s because adults have known a bit of sadness in their life, so when they hear something comforting, it relieves them of their sadness. Crying is a way of relieving sadness. It is a way of being happy.”

It could be explained better, I think, but the children took my answer in stride. They usually do.

We sang some more songs. We practiced some more notes. Before the children left, some of them waited in line at the piano to tell me some of their wishes, to confide in me some of their hopes, to cry onto my shoulder some of their own sadnesses, and to hug my heart close to theirs.

Such sweet stimulation. Such sad-happiness.

I cried the rest of the day.

 

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!

IMG_9365

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

So Much Death

My heart can barely hold the grief.

It leaks out of my eyes as I bow my head in church. I’ve learned to pray with my eyes open, so that the tears drop straight to the floor and not onto my cheeks and clothes in tell-tale streaks.

It shudders from my lungs in seismic waves as Pastor reads the Gospel lesson. I’ve learned to hold my breath until my chest burns, camel-clutching my wayward diaphragm into submission.

It squeezes out of my larynx in pathetic whimpers as I sing, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” I’ve learned not to program “O Little Town of Bethlehem” for the Sunday school children lest they witness more sorrow in Advent than their parents want to explain on the drive home.

But my eyes, my lungs, my larynx – all rebels, every one. They get the better of me every Advent, because I know of more children dead than born.

So much death! How can I bear it?

And, as happens every year, I look to the image of my Lord as a tiny baby in the manger, and I remember, “So much life!”

I cannot bear it, so Jesus bears it for me. He is born to conquer death for my sake and for yours. He gives us life everlasting, and He gives it abundantly.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

IMG_1443

 

Being LadyLike

As a writer, one thing I very much enjoy at the end of a long, 1,000-word day is reading the work of someone who writes better than me. The experience always refreshes my vocabulary, stimulates my neuron network, and ups my wordy game to the expert level.

I think that’s why I like Rebekah Curtis’s and Rosie Adle’s LadyLike so much. It’s good writing, and it’s a hoot to boot. These sister-authors are wise where I’m foolish, articulate where I’m tongue-tied, and funny where I’m dull. Their witty, familiar banter put me immediately at ease, so I didn’t mind so much when they pointed out the embarrassing leaks in my woman-britches. Maybe it was because they were so quick to patch up my holes themselves with their needle of truth and thread of understanding.

I especially appreciated their tender attentions given to the barren woman in the essay, “To My Friend Who Has No Babies Today.”

I felt safe in their company, valued even. I think you will, too. Order your copy today.

124445

Let the Children Come to Me

6a00d8341c3e3953ef017ee3e59c34970d-800wi copy

In light of the recent, somber anniversary of Roe v. Wade, here is a poignant teaching from the sainted pastor and writer Bo Giertz on the gift of children:

Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them.” Mark 10:14

This was a severe reprimand to the disciples. They thought children should wait until they were able to understand what the sermon was all about. That would be soon enough. But the parents wanted the right thing for their children.

Being a parent is one of the greatest gifts God can give. It’s also one of the greatest tasks you could ever undertake. Having a child together allows parents to share in God’s creative work. We couldn’t live here on earth or be God’s children eternally if the parents of countless generations before us had not labored with their own children and even given their lives for their children. Now it may be our turn to bring life into the world. We cannot take this task lightly. God put us here in an immense generational context. Of course, not everyone is called to be a parents. Not everyone gets married and is gifted with children. But if you get the chance, you can’t deny children their right to live. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? You can’t exchange the life of one child as payment for the luxuries you want to provide another. Jesus says, “Let the children come to Me.” It’s awe-inspiring. The first condition for being able to be a child of God and share all the joy that is the meaning of life, now and in eternity, is that there are people on earth who are willing to take upon themselves the task of parenting.

“Let the children come to Me.” Jesus doesn’t share the view of those who say: Let the child grow up first so he can decide for himself. No, Jesus says. It is just these people who need the kingdom of God. It’s for them. Who can bear to grow up in this evil world without clinging to God? People were never meant to struggle through life without God. We can see how hard it is all around us. We really do need Jesus to lay His hands upon us and bless us the way He does in Baptism. And then never let go of His hand.

Dear Lord, You must help us here because it’s hard to see what Your will is. The world seems to be overpopulated. People say it’s not right to bring children into this world. But Your country was also overpopulated, wasn’t it? Still Your Father let You grow up in a large family. Wasn’t there a reason for that? Can it possibly be wrong to give life to a child whom You love and want to be brought before You if that child is laid in Your arms and taught to live with You now, every day and into eternity? Lord, I must thank You because I have received life and wasn’t denied it. Of course, I would never have leaned to know You if I had not seen the light of day on earth. Lord, help us all to see clearly and do what is right in Your eyes.

(From CPH’s To Live with Christ by Bo Giertz, pages 121-22)