Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bad news and Good news

For those of you who don’t know; I experienced a miscarriage this past winter (Argentinian winter- summer in the states). For me, the loss was too soon in an early marriage and it forced me to look at things and grieve things I never allowed myself to grieve before. Five months into an intercultural marriage is perhaps too soon to be ready to have kids, maybe reckless and irresponsible, but Roberto and I were both in agreement that this was what we wanted. We agreed that we weren’t going to hold the hand of God based on our personal time-lines. 

I cried to God for the loss praying; “We only want a family! Why would you allow us to get our hopes up? Weren’t our intentions Godly?! Why me?” When all my sad sorry cries were out, rationality settled in. I realized that to ask God; “Why me?” would force me to ask the same question later should He bless us with children. “Why do we get to have children and others not?” At the end of the day it was safer to just trust and believe that like all barren and fruitful women it isn’t about the “why her and not me?” questions. It is about knowing and believing that through it all, it is not one over the other. It is Christ for all. At the end of the day our souls magnify the Lord, and our Spirits rejoices in God our Savior for He has acknowledged the lowliness of all of us even the unborn. I don’t want to know “Why me” because I might come to know something far worse than morning sickness, worse than the loss of a child, worse than bareness, worse than a lifetime of loneliness, worse than a life of poverty. We have a great gift in Christ that we find the answers to all our questions of “why” in Him. “Why me?” becomes a question we only ask in response to the undeserved salvation won for us.   

We all know someone who struggles with “why” questions whether it is due to a miscarriage, loss, or something hoped for and never attained. We might be that person, or it might be someone close to us, we pray and weep for all who struggle. Roberto and I however are no longer in this place my friends, we are expecting again and from the morning sickness I experienced; this baby wants to make itself known! While we weeped last July for the loss of a life, we hope to be rejoicing this July for the new life given through the waters of Holy baptism. We are told to expect this baby at the end of July and we hope to baptize him or her right away in the church. 
Thank you to everyone for your prayers, love, and support. 

1 Samuel 2:1New King James Version (NKJV)

Hannah’s Prayer

And Hannah prayed and said:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
My horn[a] is exalted in the Lord.
I smile at my enemies,
Because I rejoice in Your salvation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fellow-Passengers To The Grave

Ten months ago the idea of leaving so many things behind to move to another country seemed much easier and more thoughtless, especially when I was so fortunate to bring so much with me. My ancestors would have been jealous at the many suitcases I was able to fill and bring with me. Still, it is hard to forget the people, places, and things left behind. It seems easy enough to go about life normally until that moment when you are making something in the kitchen and think; “This would be so much easier if I had my…..” or when something happens and you think; “I wish my friend ______ were here to share this with.” Even when you look on social media and see the many traditions, customs, and places that family and friends are visiting this holiday season, you start to miss what you once knew. 
The things left behind are drawn back to memory and the floodgates of want and longing are opened. I wonder if the soul without God knows that longing even more profoundly; to be constantly without something and searching for that one thing to make them whole. I believe this is where Christ meets us all in this festive time of year. As Charles Dickens says in his work of A Christmas Carol: 
“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on their journeys."

It is at this time of year where we find that commonality among us all, and why? Because Christ came to us, as one of us not one above us. Thinking himself as nothing, taking the very form of a servant. He left behind far more a kingdom, much more impossible to forget. The longing for his heavenly home must have always been there, but what was greater was his longing to bring all “passengers to the grave” home again. Our pilgrimage upon this earth will be filled with things and people lost, and things left behind, but our comfort comes to us in One who promises full restoration not one day out of the year, but for eternity. 

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

O Holy Night -by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure 1847
translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight (1812-1893).

Merry Christmas! 

With Love, Roberto and Katie

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Heavenly Feast

“That looks almost good enough to eat!” Today I made homemade pasta raviolis. When I set them up on the plate the words of my grandfather rang in my ear; “Those look almost good enough to eat!” My grandfather would always say quirky little things that would leave me thinking; “What does that even mean!?” It doesn’t matter now, what matters to me now is that his words ring in my ear and remind me of the grandfather I had. 
He was a strong man! He built houses and what I remember most about his physical appearance was how rough the skin on his hands was; like leather. He was funny, and playful. He made us so many things in his workshop. He made bow and arrows, doll houses, wooden animals and treasure chests. I remember making stained glass angles with him once, he was always willing to entertain my ideas of making things together including jewelry. I remember the way he would eat carrots by hitting his jaw as if the carrot was too hard to just bite into. I remember grandma's response to grandpa when he would play with her; “Oh Herb” then she would chuckle like a character out of a 1950’s film. They loved each other and my heart breaks to think of her without him now.

My heart breaks thinking of my mother, and her siblings as they will burry their father.  

Death leaves us with nothing but memories. It’s hard for me to grasp and understand what this all means being so far away. I wont be able to go through the whole grieving process of letting go with my family but that is why I am so very thankful for one more wonderfully beautiful characteristic I remember above all the others when it comes to my grandpa; he loved his Lord. I see my grandfather in my aunts and uncles, and I see him in my cousins. While my grandfather may not be in this world he reminded us of truths and sayings much greater than his original quirky ones. More than his carpentry, more than his love for his family; my grandfather left a legacy, a legacy of faith in a God who promises that this is not the end. While I may not be able to be present for the funeral, I will pull out my hymnal and my Bible and cling to the one thing I know we will all be clinging to; a promise. Praise be to the God of the living and the life He gave through the waters of Holy Baptism to Herbert Heider. We love you, and we will see you again, but not before we see our Savior. 
John 11:24-26New King James Version (NKJV)
24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In Honor of Rosalia and in Awe of him.

I’ve noticed something interesting about him when he preaches. It is as if he ceases to be my husband for that hour and it is as if there is an impenetrable glass wall between us. Perhaps it is because he is not inches from my face telling me and only me that he loves me, or perhaps something more is happening. Something changes; he changes. Today was different though. Today I watched him in a different context and he didn’t cease to be a pastor, but there was new depth to him as a pastor. 
We received a call yesterday that Rosalia; a beloved elderly woman from the church had passed away. I had the blessing of visiting her with him and sharing with them in the Lord’s supper. I even spent the night in her home when I first visited him last August. It was surreal to hear that she had died because it had been a wile since we last saw her. 
Our last visit with Rosalia 
When we both got up this morning there was something more than the rain, the darkness, and the cold that was dragging us. It was the fear of knowing that this time when we would see Rosalia, she would not be in her bed, but in a box. The drive was an hour long through the gray, and gloomy Argentinian winter weather. 
When we arrived we did the customary greeting to the few people that were there, then we went to “pay respects” to our friend. Rosalia had been begging for death the past few months as she was sick and tired, and ready to be with her Savior. He stood tall and led us in a small service without any emotional hinderance. I know him better. I could see that he was doing more than just reading words, he was trying to be strong. 
Upon departure Rosalia’s daughter told us that we weren’t going to be able to have a service because the place where they were laying Rosalia to rest was a borrowed place until they found her a vault and it would be too small for us all to gather. With strong determination he looked at her and said “Let’s try”. When we got to the cemetery Rosalia’s daughter told us “I don’t think you will be able to do anything, it is too small, it is really cold, rainy, and people still have to travel to get home” he told her “it will be short, don’t worry, I know, I also have to travel home.” That is when it happened. He made it through the committal service proclaiming all the glory of resurrection and right there at the end after the benediction, I saw it; my pastor. His voice cracked a little and his eyes welled with tears as he said; “in the words of Rosalia; may our loving father protect you. Go in peace.” His hand at the head of the coffin, he tapped it a few times and my heart broke. I remember my father doing the same thing with my Grandmother’s coffin when she died. It is a gesture that for me is known as the “trying to be strong” gesture. 
There is something that is made clear when the guard of your pastor comes down and they don’t seem so strong. You realize where that strength comes from and you begin to admire them even more realizing what a gift and a blessing from God a pastor is. Seeing him trying to be strong and then cracking just a little made me think of what it must have been like for Jesus at Lazurus’ tomb. Knowing the truth, preaching that truth, knowing how the story ends, doesn’t change the groaning and pains of death of which there is no immunity for anyone. When your pastor weeps, it is a reminder that the gospel is not just a bandaid, it is a healing balm that takes root and penetrates the souls of those whom the law has cut deep with its two edge sword. Some of the people he encounters wont give time for balm, and will only want the bandaid. When a pastor cries, it is a reminder of the gift he is for the church, because he is crying for the Church and all her members. He cries because of the member that will sing “Holy Holy Holy” from the other side of the altar this Sunday when he distributes the sacrament to those who remain. He cries because he knows the charge given to him by God to care for, correct, teach, preach, and carry the saints into eternal rest. He cries because honestly, it wouldn’t be right if he didn’t. He cries because he knows the words he proclaims over the corpse hold a powerful truth but will just be words for some that are present. He cries perhaps not out of weakness, but rather understanding. 

I am so very proud of him and the pastor he is. He cares for the souls of his people as if it were a charge from God, which it is. He takes his responsibility in all seriousness and humility. I am so very proud of him for not just making his flock his “job” but his life. I am so very proud of him for the man God is making him to be, and for pointing Rosalia home. We have a gracious heavenly father who has given us a blessing in giving us pastors and men to stand in the stead and by the command of Christ. I pray we never forget that.

John 11:25

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Ultimate Honeymoon!!!! (with photos of the new addition to our family)

The unexpected, and unwanted
Okay! So yes! We are technically in the “honeymoon” stage of our young marriage, but believe me, this has not been a honeymoon at all…in fact I wish I had listened to all the wise people who told me “you will want to take a honeymoon” because guess what! I sure would love a honeymoon right about now. We call this baptism by fire in our home. 

I can’t lament not getting a honeymoon, or really any of this because I chose this. I think that goes for a lot of things in life. That has been my constant reminder to myself when I start complaining about anything, “Remember; you choose this.” In the past few years I have found it is so easy to find the negative side of things and just start throwing a pity party. The reality is if you trace it back, anything and everything, you chose something along the line that has brought you to where you are. So, you can thank God for the choice or you can lament the results.

The unexpected, but welcomed 
In this new married life I have been throwing a ton of pity parties for having to struggle with the language, having to be a “First lady” of sorts, having to clean, cook, wait on papers, blah blah blah….yada yada yada, and the list goes on and on and on, but at the end of the day, all these problems started with a choice, a choice I don’t regret now, nor do I think I will ever regret. I might wonder at times why I made the choice I did, but it will not change the reasons nor my thankfulness towards God for giving me the choice that I was able to make. I chose Roberto for so many reasons; his fine looks, his wads of cash that I know he has hidden somewhere in this house, his brains, his humor, his sensibility, his gentleness, his kind and big heart, his good looks (did I say that one already), many of these I don’t get to see all at once (especially the cash, I’m still waiting for him to slip and tell me where it is) and one day all of this will fade. In baking terms, it is all icing on the cake, and I love cake more than I love icing. 

I had a pastor once tell me that he could have married a million women, but what made the woman he did marry “the one” was their commitment and vows made before God, and the Church. So ultimately God made her his choice. I agree whole heartedly with him this side of the marriage certificate, but I would add, my choice was based on the beginning upon what God was building. 
My Roberto is a baptized child of God who shares the same foundation of faith and love for God. At times he shows it better than I do, but it is that part of him that I choose for the rest of life. I know that when I start to complain about the trials in life, the difficulties, wanting a honeymoon, or just wishing that my husband were with me instead of with the many other people of the church, he can point me to the cross of Christ and remind me what it is that we are working towards until that day when we complete our baptismal vows. 

You can say I am in that honeymoon stage, but I know that part of my Roberto can be shaken but never taken. I will not love him any less than I do today for the man that God is making him to be and because it isn’t my choice alone to love him, but a gift that I get to actively participate in. I’m thankful to our God that every day, I get to see my Roberto live out his baptismal faith and to know that we are built upon a foundation much stronger than Mai Tai’s on the beach (Or maté in our case). I am beyond “in love,” I am proud. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

No place like home......

For the past seven years I have been what I suppose you could call “Short term living.” I have not lived in the same place for over a year in these past seven years. I have slept on so many different beds, sofas, floors, and air mattresses. I have slept over night in many eclectic places including maids quarters, offices, church basements, air planes, buses, and even a table at the train station. I have moved near and far using suitcases for some transports, boxes for others, and grocery sacks for the more questionable and close by stays. I have crammed as much as I could into my car for stateside moves and pushed the weight limits with American Airline. As of February I will break down the boxes, hand over the keys to my car, burn every plastic bag I own, and hopefully put up the suitcases for a good while. 

Anyone who has traveled and lived out of suitcases knows how exhausting it can be to not feel as though you can lay down roots. There is a constant longing to just be home and to know that one day you wont have to pack a suitcase once a week, pack boxes every six months, reevaluate what should be held onto and what should be thrown away. You long for a day when you no longer will have to haul things from airport to airport, bus station to bus station, country to country, state to state. 

After more than seven years of sojourning from my fathers home I will have a place to truly call home. Home for me was never a place, It was more an idea surrounding a place. A home is a  place surrounded in love warmth and belonging. A place that is nurtured and cared for of your own efforts. A place where your family stays and a place where your family is surrounded in a sense of security. Home is where kids want to go after a day at school, a weekend at grandmas, or a day out with friends because they know it is a safe place for them to lay down their heads and to be cared for, it is a sanctuary. That is something I have always felt in going to my home congregation in Papillon Nebraska. I am thrilled and delighted that my journey continues out of that home as I will walk down the isle in February and be joined to the love of my life before God and my church family. 
I wonder if this is what God would have us find in His house; a home. For this past year I have been struggling in the new place of service I have been put. It is not my home, I feel as though I had been taken from family and friends of my earlier place of service and I felt as though I had been abandoned in a place that was the furthest thing from home I have known. I am not just speaking of the location of my ‘house” I include the church in this description of home. People were not as inviting as in my earlier location, the struggles were bigger, the challenges harder, and the situation more lonely. I slipped in and out of depression and longed every day for any other place other than the place I was in. After a long bout of this a still small voice came to me and said; “You get to practice being a mother.” I have always wanted to be a mother. I want my own children, but it took me a bit to understand what “mother” in this context meant. For me, it meant fostering and nurturing relationships with people who weren't exactly pulling me close. It meant caring for a people who would not identify me necessarily as family. It meant worrying for a people’s spiritual growth who had become stagnant and luke warm to the faith. It meant going where I didn’t want to go and showing them what I had always been shown by the members of First Lutheran church. 
Now, with almost one year (ALMOST), we are beginning to be family. I am beginning to understand better that to be “mother” is more than taking on a title and caring for cute littles. It is a task of endurance, perseverance. It is messy, not at all glamorous, it is thankless,  it is uncertain as to if you are ever doing a “good job” it is draining and it is the most rewarding task in which you can apply yourself.  At the end of the day, when I see my students leave class with more joy and assurance that they are in church to receive good things from a loving God, then that is thanks and reward enough. When I see them start to understand that this is their home where they can feel secure and safe, and loved, then I know God is working to bring unity, faith, and fellowship in His family. I believe that Church was meant to be family. We were meant to know that sense of sanctuary and stability wherever we unite to hear the word of God and to receive Christ’s body and blood. I doubted that I would see the day where the people where I serve would break forth from a stagnant luke warm faith that comes to church out of obligation as opposed to desire. I now know God has equipped me to to be a part of that transformation. He showed me in the home He gave me what it looks like so I could share that vision with the people here. I thank God for the opportunity to know and share what it means for a Church to be a home, especially in this advent season as we reflect on what it meant for Christ to leave his heavenly home to take on flesh and blood. I pray you all have a blessed advent season!

God Bless! 

Hebrews 11:13-14New King James Version (NKJV)

The Heavenly Hope

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them,[a] embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

We’ll get together then….

“When my son turned ten just the other day
Said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on and let's play
Can you teach me to throw?" I said, "Not today
I got a lot to do" he said, "That's okay"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know, I'm gonna be like him"

Those are the words from the well known Harry Chapin song; Cats in the Cradle. Thanksgiving day those words were ringing in my mind as I helped in an endeavor to clean out the church a bit. I was first in charge of cleaning out the office. There was dust, dead and live cockroaches, cobwebs, bird feather, and so much more. All of this pales in comparison to what I had to clean in the kitchen. I’ll give you a hint; they are small white, look like a worm and are often found with rotting meat….ewww ewww ewww!!! Anyway, as I cleaned that office I found many interesting things, among which were un-gifted mothers day and fathers day gifts, kindergarten graduation plaques of some of the kids from church, old event programs, toys, and a few unused and used baseballs. 
As I looked at those baseballs the earlier mentioned song came to mind. I could give them to any of the boys in church but who would play catch with them? Of course they have their friends, but in my mind for whatever reason I was stuck on the idea that it should be their father. I started to think of what a system we take for granted. The whole concept of “family” is being trashed and redefined, while I sit in the D.R. and can clearly see how much a young boy needs a father. Those baseballs reflected the relationship of father and son as it is seen here in the D.R., dusty and foreign. Dads may not be consumed with power, money, or other things, but they certainly are not concerned so much for their own children either. If they were concerned they would know the best thing for a child is to know the love of both parents. They would know that even at a distance their children look to them to see and know what type of person they should aspire to be. They would know they are being watched and longed for. 

Color the page however you like, one truth remains; when young men don’t have proper role models and the women of a culture do not value a man for what he has to offer towards the upbringing and development of not just the child but the family, the system falls apart. Try teaching respect to children who run the home without a father present. Try encouraging young men to be good leaders when the only leader he knew was his mother who spoke ill of all men. Try telling an adolescent boy raised by a single mother that if he impregnates a young girl, he too holds a responsibility to love, care and protect child and mother; he would tell you that he isn’t needed. After all, his mom did it all without a man. Little boys don’t just grow up to treat women how they treat their moms; they grow up to treat their moms the way they see their fathers treating their moms, and their wives the same.

I thank God for being true man! I thank God that he is bigger than any feministic narrow minded b.s. and knew all our needs before we ourselves knew them. He knew we would need a true father. From stupid men who do not own their masculinity to stupid women who emasculate the men, God knew it only would take one perfect man to break that cycle of stupidity. One man to die. One man to humble himself in order that we might have an Eternal father in heaven. As I looked at those baseballs I felt a bit sad, but then I looked up and noticed down the isle was the font. The very place where we are made children of God and given back all that was lost and made heirs of our heavenly father. I’m so thankful this season no only for my earthly father, future husband, and all the other men who have looked to God first and foremost for an example of masculinity, but I am also thankful for my heavenly Father who is perfect Man for all and the One I can look to when other men fall short of knowing how to be man.  

Matthew 23:9Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.