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.