Parenting

No One Knows the Hour

iu-3This final feature from our Lenten writing contest list of honorable mentions is written by Deaconess Michelle Domin.

Oh, LORD, hear our cry.


“I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1

I have waited many times throughout my life (sometimes patiently and sometimes not so patiently). In fact, my everyday life consists of constant waiting. Waiting for the toast to pop, the phone to charge, the water to boil. Waiting for the kids to fall asleep, waiting for a moment to myself, waiting for the weekend. Every year I wait for warmer weather, special family trips, birthdays, and Christmas. I have also waited on difficult things throughout the years. I have waited to find out if a family member has cancer, waited for physical restoration after a botched surgery, and waited for the pain of broken relationships to subside.

Never have I felt a more intense sense of waiting than when my two-year-old daughter, Eliana, was diagnosed with Restrictive Cardiomyopathy and given a death sentence. The doctors gave her a maximum of six years to live. Unless. Unless they took out her broken heart and replaced it with a strong, healthy one. The incomprehensible decision was made to put Eliana on the heart transplant list, and I waited. I did not know if I was waiting for her to die or waiting for someone else to die and give her a heart. Either way, I knew I was waiting for certain death. Every night I waited to see if Eliana would wake up in the morning. Every day I waited to see if her heart would keep beating. As Eliana’s condition quickly deteriorated, I knew she did not have six years. I knew she did not even have six months.

I cried to the LORD, not even knowing what to pray. I desperately wanted healing for my daughter, but I certainly could not pray for another child to die, just so mine could live. Yet, as I cried to the LORD, I knew that the very God to whom I prayed had already done exactly that. He sent His own Child to die that Eliana might live, securing her life in the waters of Holy Baptism. There at the font she received her new heart. Her heart sick from sin was drowned in Baptismal waters, and a new heart and Spirit were given to her. As she was united to Christ’s death and resurrection, I knew that whenever her temporal death might come, she would certainly be raised to eternal life.

Waiting for Eliana’s new heart felt like a lifetime. In reality, it was five short months. Joy and relief washed over me, thankful the wait was over. Yet, grief and sadness also washed over me, knowing another family had just experienced the death of their child.

No one knows the hour of life or death, but waiting is a key component. What joy we have that the wait for deliverance is over! God has heard our cries and sent His Son. In Christ’s death, He conquered death. In His resurrection, we too will most certainly be raised. Now, instead of waiting for certain death, we wait patiently for eternal life, knowing confidently and fully that we will be delivered from this vale of tears. As surely as Christ has been raised from the dead, He will come again and bring an end to all suffering. He has inclined to us and heard our cry. To God be the glory!

By Deaconess Michelle Domin

Happy Grandmother’s Day!

Have you considered the facts?

  • Your uterus is not performing at her peak these days.
  • Your doctors draw your blood regularly and order further medical tests.
  • Your pillbox has both an AM and PM dispenser.
  • You spend your evenings volunteering at church and around town because you have the time.
  • The majority of the Christmas gifts you wrap end up under other families’ trees.
  • You pull up pictures and videos on your phone of other adults’ children to show at parties.
  • You thrill when a small hand makes a sticky print on your clean window or spills apple juice on your polished floor.
  • You rejoice when a child asks you to read her the same book five times in a row.
  • Children tell you their secrets and ask you to display their colored artwork on your refrigerator.
  • Parents generously bring their children over to your house to visit at their best hours and then take them home for their worst hours.
  • You travel all across the nation just to sit on a bleacher and watch amateur sports.
  • You wash the dishes and wipe down kitchen counters for weary mothers.
  • You offer them your shoulder to cry on and hope they will allow you to mother them this late in life.
  • You watch parents struggle in raising their children and hold your tongue.
  • You pray for all of them day and night.
  • You grieve your own empty nest.

Have you considered the fact that you skipped motherhood altogether in this life and jumped straight into the role of grandma?

It’s not what you wanted, I know, but you have to admit: the joys are deep, the work abundant, and the sleep better than most. It is good to be you.

And for this reason, may I wish you the happiest of Grandmother’s Days tomorrow and every day?

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What Did I Do?

It is our honor to share with you, in no particular order, three honorable mentions selected from the bounty of our Lenten writing contest submissions. We simply could not let these treasures go unread.

This first selection written by Katie Fischer features a line that I wish I had written myself. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one it is.


iu-3 2“What did I do to deserve this, Lord?”

Even at the time I knew it was my doubts and unbelieving sinful nature that gave me those words to say, but I was sad and angry and I didn’t care. I had been praying for years for my husband’s faith and yet on that day he was still off, joining another denomination. Finalizing the break in our Communion fellowship. 

I had pleaded my cause in prayer for so long I felt I had nothing to pray that day – only despair.

Unheard, unloved, a woman thrust into a position I never wanted to be in. My number one requirement for marriage was a man who could be my spiritual head, to lead our family in the faith, and who would train our children in the words of the catechism. And yet here I was: unequally yoked and having to take up the headship not intended for me.

I knew the world was broken by sin and we are supposed to do the best with what we have, but I didn’t want that for me. I had prayed for unity of confession within our family countless times, a good gift to desire, and it was like my prayers had fallen on deaf ears. 

The years kept passing. I couldn’t change the situation, but I also wouldn’t accept it. In waves the frustrations would resurface to bring a full renewal of the grief.

Usually when my children practice their choir music I don’t purposefully listen in. Not that it’s bad, much to the contrary, I know I’m going to be steeped in it for the next month or two and can take my time to enjoy it. But one day I heard their little voices working on the antiphon, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give to you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

I immediately tuned in. I’d heard the verse before. It usually hurt because the desire of my heart received a “no” day after day, year after year. Whether it was due to the recent sermon or the Bible study, I can’t remember which, but that day was different. Instead of hearing it as a rule to follow to get my reward, it was a promise. If my delight is in the Lord He will be my desire and I know He Himself – His mercy and forgiveness flowing from His death on the cross – is what He has promised to give me.

It may not be Law, but it was convicting all the same. I, a poor miserable sinner, was not delighting in the Lord. The desires I prayed for were not for the certain promises given in my baptism. I wanted to twist God’s ear to what I decided was most important. I had made an idol and a god out of having a Lutheran husband, thought of it as necessary to my faith, and was still clinging to that idol even after it had been torn away. I had been focusing on the hearts of others and neglecting my own.

When I cried out He had heard; when I prayed He had answered. It was not the answer I expected (or thought I needed) so I turned away and was blind to it. The circumstances that I wanted bent to my own will didn’t change, but through the preaching of the Word my prayers were changed. A good gift can still be an idol, and by keeping my eyes on the one gift I didn’t have I even robbed joy from the good I did have: a loving husband who works hard for his family. There is much more peace in praying for what God has promised than in pleading to keep an idol of my own building. 

That verse, Psalm 37:4, is written on the front page of my hymnal as a reminder, for I certainly need plenty of reminders to lead me back to repentance. For in His mercy He hears and washes me anew every day, even before I cry out for it.

By Katie Fischer

“He Will Return” – Contest Winner

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!returnofchristicon

On this blessed Easter Day, it is our pleasure to share with you the winning submission to our Lenten writing contest.

We asked all of you to reflect on the prompt, “I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1), and your responses were overwhelmingly rich in wisdom and that special brand of perspective that comes from personal experience. You gave us much to ponder and contemplate this holy season, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to learn from all of you.

When it came down to the actual judging, it took two rounds of sorting and ranking for us to narrow down the entirety of the submissions to a final five. “This is hard!” was a constant refrain from those doing the reading and sorting. Thank you to everyone who participated and made the judging so difficult.

It is our joy to share with you our five favorite submissions over the next several weeks, starting with our contest winner, Emily Olson. Congratulations, Emily, on winning a museum-quality giclée print of artist Edward Riojas’ cover art for the second edition of He Remembers the Barren, and thank you for reminding all of us that, whatever our station in life, we are all waiting for the same, certain thing: Christ’s returning to us.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!


I am not a patient woman.

I am impatient in my daily vocations. I drum my fingers on the steering wheel at stoplights. My frustration rises when my children ploddingly put on their shoes before school. I shift from one foot to another when my son prattles on about superhero plots and I need to make some calls. My temper grows short when dinner isn’t coming together quickly enough for my taste. I frustratedly text my husband “ETA?” when he’s two minutes past his expected arrival home.

And my impatience seeps past the everyday struggles to keep schedules and order. The relentless passage of time presses upon my flesh and my heart. I want our financial goals met now. I want sick and despondent friends and relatives healed and soothed immediately. I want to know my marriage will last and thrive for many decades and our children will grow to faithful and joyful adulthood. I want to know that I matter and those that I love matter. I want to know that we are not forgotten. Too often, this means I reach for my gleaming phone, impatient for another hit of dopamine, desiring connectivity amidst the gaping hole of mortality that hovers over us all.* Too often, this means I am angry and irritable, eating my bread anxiously and toiling miserably, fallibly trying to make this world and us and me matter.

So I sit in the pew, cognizant of the nervous flit of my thoughts, the selfish grasping of my desires, and the ultimate hardness of my heart. I am like Jonah, huddled in the back of a boat, trying in vain to hide from God.  I am like the citizens of Babel, mucking about in the mud of my own internal universe, enthralled at my own dirty and miniscule tower. I am like Pharaoh, obstinate and brittle, trapped in my pride. I do not deserve Christ. Yet here I am, unworthy and hopeless. I am seeking the only salvation possible.

Jesus comes to me.

“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

The pastor speaks His forgiveness.

“In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The faith granted at my baptism hears the name of the triune God and listens.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?”

The Word enters my frail ears and kindles my weak faith.

“And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost’” (Luke 15:4-6).

Jesus enables my quivering voice, and I sing, my heart breaking. Jesus has done what I never could.

“Yes, Father, yes, most willingly
I’ll bear what You command Me.
My will conforms to Your decree,
I’ll do what You have asked Me.”
O wondrous Love, what have You done!
The Father offers up His Son,
Desiring our salvation.
O Love, how strong You are to save!
You lay the One into the grave
Who built the earth’s foundation. (LSB 438:3)

I stand and file out into the aisle, and I step, haltingly, toward the altar.

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descending
Comes our homage to demand. (LSB 621:1)

Jesus comes right to my mouth, my tainted, impatient, sinful mouth. His scarred body touches my tongue, and I swallow. His blood spilled for the world splashes down my throat. I am cleansed and forgiven, again. I am restored and made new.

From the moment water and the Word combined to make me God’s child, He has relentlessly pursued me. Hopeless and impatient me falls away and falls apart again and again. And over and over, Christ inclines His loving ear to me and hears my desperate cry (Psalm 40:1). I know that the One thing needful will never leave me nor forsake me (Luke 10:42, Hebrews 13:5). Christ has promised, and He is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). He never fails. Amidst all of life’s incompletes and suffering, He remains, the Eternal Rock.

In the Word and in the Sacrament, I am immediately, and right now, with Christ.

I am not a patient woman. But Christ is patient and persistent, forgiving and loving. He will return to me again. I believe this. And so I wait.

By Emily Olson


* Idea acknowledgment to Peter Kreeft, quoted in 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke (p.46).

Contest Details

Andy Bates and Sarah Gulseth of KFUO Radio’s “The Coffee Hour” chatted with us last week about our Lenten writing contest.

Listen here for details on what we’re looking for in your submission on the prompt, “I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).

Remember, this contest is for anyone who breathes, has chromosomes, and reads the Bible.

Submit your entries to katie@katieschuermann.com by noon on March 25th to be considered for the grand prize: a museum-quality giclée print (14.7″ x 18″) of artist Edward Riojas’ cover art for the second edition of He Remembers the Barren.

Happy pondering and writing!

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Speak of the Dead

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It is risky business speaking of our dead children. We risk crying in public. We risk the discomfort of others. We risk crowds scattering before us like dust before an electric fan, everyone afraid of “catching what we’ve got.” We risk dirt flying in our faces as others furiously spade the earth to cover the ugly remains of our dead.

Perhaps, worst of all, we risk indifference. Oh, the painful silence of our dead children being acknowledged in public only to be ignored!

It is easier to hold our dead safely and quietly in our hearts where no one can offend or abuse them. But the truth is that our children did not stay in our wombs, and they do not now live in our hearts. They left our bodies to return to dust. They went before us in death, and we follow them into the grave.

This is why we speak of our dead children: because they lived and died and, we trust, live again in Christ. Our dead children are remembered and loved not only by us but by God who Himself lived and died and rose again that we all might live forever with Him in the flesh.

Thank you, Kristen, Audrey, Adrienne, and Melanie, for speaking aloud of your children that we might be comforted.

You can listen to their words here.