Oh! After a busy day at work, coming home to this really redeemed my day! I’d love to write more about how excited I am, but.
You’ll understand if I offer a short post tonight in order to go read a chapter.
I’m sure there’s a science to rainbows. I’m sure there are those who can predict the best rainbow viewing, who can explain why they arc, who understand the phenomenon of the double rainbow. But me? I’m just a fan. Still, even I know that there are favorable rainbow conditions.
Of course, to me, it is still magic. To me, it’s still God’s proclamation, His promise not to destroy mankind. Not to destroy me.
So once in awhile, when it’s late in the evening and the rain is showering down upon the earth like a soft blanket, and there’s a break in the clouds–they pull apart and sunlight spills through the dark–I chase rainbows. I drive until I find one.
I’ve become fairly good at finding them. And when I do, I stop the truck and, unless it’s raining very hard (and sometimes, even then), I get out and find a great view of God’s promise. And I soak it up.
All of it.
I can’t tell you why, but I’ve needed rainbows lately. The beautiful Upper Peninsula has needed the rain, but Sarah has needed the rainbows. And sure enough, God has given them to me.
Yesterday, I saw just the faintest trace of a rainbow. And I chased it. When I arrived, when I pulled over and got out of the truck, I was blessed with the biggest, most brilliant, most full rainbow I’ve seen in my life. It stretched from the ore dock to some fog or cloud that was settling on the water, and it covered half the world it seemed.
As I was reflecting on the grandeur of the rainbow, I was overwhelmed with the sense of God’s presence and His promise, and the reminder: Sometimes you have to chase those faintest glimpses of hope. Sometimes they fade away before you see them fully; but sometimes, friends…sometimes they are breathtaking rainbows waiting to be found.
Do you have any promises from God that you are chasing? Any rainbows, or glimpses of rainbows, that you are pursuing?
What’s on my heart?
What’s on my heart.
What’s on my heart. Hrm.
So many things. Since it’s after midnight, I’ll try to keep it brief.
There you have it. There’s what’s on my heart. Now…I’m going to pry my contacts from my dry, weary eyes, curl up under my rainbow quilt (thank you, Sissstor), and read one chapter (one…only one) of Tozer before I go to sleep.
Stolen from a letter.
(Not stolen so much as copied, which is totally allowable, since it’s a letter I wrote.)
I went to Black Rocks yesterday. I walked and walked, back and forth, and farther than I typically go (something about stepping over the uneven rocks wigs me out and makes me dizzy, so I usually don’t explore very far). After about twenty or thirty minutes of mindlessly wandering in and out of the shoreline, I found myself tucked down below one of the big rocks right at the edge of the water.
I sat there, back against rock, feet upon rock, hands on rock, and I just listened. Though She looked relatively calm, I realized that here, at the base of the rocks, Superior was churning. She thrashed and gulped, slapping the rocks (and me) and sending Her spray higher than the big rock that was hiding me. I didn’t think, didn’t talk, didn’t feel, didn’t pray or sing; I just sat and listened. It’s the first time in a very long while that I’ve been truly silent in both mind and spirit. I listened, and after I-don’t-know-how-long, I heard myself sing a line from the Psalms that I’d put to music years ago: The voice of the Lord is on the waters.
And then my mind caught up and wanted words. What was “the voice of the Lord” saying? I grew angry for a moment, because the crashing waves sounded majestic…maybe even joyful; and how could God be rejoicing?
And…then…my heart crumbled in shame, because the churning sounded like sorrow…like turmoil.
But then my spirit made sense of it. It is right that God’s voice should sound both victorious and grieved. These are, after all, the very contradictions of our faith: that Christ commands even the waves, and yet He walks through our sorrows–He carries them for us…because He knows we cannot.
Blessed are we who mourn; we shall be comforted.
Pretty sure I shared this video last year, too…but what can I say? It never gets old!
May the Fourth be with you!!!
Well, folks? This will be my final post about my recent Family History vacation. And what remains to be said?
There is something magical about returning to the land of your fathers (or in my case, the land of my mother’s fathers). To walk there, to breathe the air, to look upon the fields and the Cass River, to drive on the roads and see the old homesteads where their friends and neighbors lived–it is magical. It brings history to life. It takes names and dates that we’ve known in ink–on birth, marriage, death, census records, etc–and photos and memoirs, and it pulls them out of some obscure thing called “the past,” and makes it part of the here-and-now. In a sense, it brings our families back to life.
But what is especially magical, I think, is having family that still lives in those places. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The few towns I’ve ever lived in my life have been “small towns,” so I know the great honor and the great entrapment of being “a local.” Those families that have lived somewhere forever, and know all the weird little stories–that’s what the Schmitzers are in Frankenmuth. I love being able to sit at my Uncle’s house and listen to the stories of our family’s home. It’s all those odd tidbits that I was never going to find on the internet.
And…it’s more. You know, I mentioned before (and will likely mention many, many more times before I die) that my uncles’ interaction with each other reminded me so much of how my own brothers (Steven & Jer) banter. As John and David were talking about David being Grandma’s favorite, and how John would get in trouble for things that Dave instigated (which I can totally believe, by the way), all I could hear in my mind was Steve and Jer telling the story of the time they tried to move the washing machine. And the freezer. Totally unrelated story, of course (it had nothing to do with either of them getting in trouble), but…the back-and-forth banter would’ve been the same. You knew that they were going to tease and mock and blame each other without mercy, and yet, you also knew (without question) that they’d been in it together.
That’s the thing. Family History isn’t just about capturing the names and dates of your ancestors. It isn’t just about building an impressive Family Tree. It’s so much more. It’s about bringing to life the characters who’ve shaped the context we find ourselves in. It’s about seeing the similarities–not just between siblings, but among extended relatives who have no reason to be behaving the same way that you are. It’s about connecting to those who belong with us. It’s about understanding how and why we do belong with one another.
In all of this, I am quite overcome by two distinct feelings: First, it is the realization that the Schmitzer line is only one of the many I have to research, and Second, it is the awareness that it’s not enough to capture the past.
Somehow, I must also learn to capture the present.
My Great Agenda for the Family History trip included two very personal stops.
I had heard rumors some time ago that the old Schmitzer house was still standing on South Dehmel road in Frankenmuth. I was given a photo from my uncle of the Johann Michael Schmitzer family that, if I’m not mistaken, was taken at the house on Dehmel. This was the home where my great-grandfather would have grown up. To say that I wanted to see the house was an understatement. To stand where my great-grandfather may have stood, where his daddy and granddaddy may have stood–the idea has been drawing me for some time. In the end, no one was certain where the house was–though I think Uncle David knows more than he realizes! I’m not disappointed that we didn’t make it to the house on Dehmel road, because I know it will be the first thing on my Great Agenda for the next trip. It gives me a place to begin.
The other point of interest was Frankentrost. Mom has told me about growing up in Frankentrost, but the few times we’ve passed through the small town, I haven’t thought much of it. After all, the house where they lived is no longer there; the church has burned down and been replaced. It just doesn’t hold any visual memory for me to connect with. However, one of my cousins shared a photo on FB last year that showed my dear Grandma tending her flowers:
When I showed this photo to my mom last year, the first comment she made was that this was Frankentrost! You can see the old church in this image, and the driveway. On this side of the photo, beyond the flowers, was the house where my mom grew up. Though the landscape and buildings have changed, I wanted to see the place where they lived and served (and they did serve–behind the church was the Lutheran School where my grandfather taught). It meant so much to me to see where they lived, but I know it meant a lot to my mom to see it again, as well.
The greatest part about the trip, though, was spending time with family. Not only did I have a fantastic time with mom and Jer, but it was so nice to visit with several of my cousins, and my aunts and uncles. We never had those strong connections as children, so to be building those relationships now as adults is very important to me.
My Aunt Judy did something remarkable. She brought photos to my mother that she’d been hanging onto. Remember when I said I was surprised to find the Schmutzer record? I hadn’t been expecting it. It was the same with these photos. No one had known that I’d been wanting (something fiercely) the two photos below. And yet, Aunt Judy had been holding them for my mom. Now…I’m enormously thankful that Judy held them, and also that my mom didn’t mind sharing them with me!
The above is my Grandma Schmitzer’s family. From left to right, the four children: Genevieve, Margaret (my Grandma!), Ewald Jr, and Norman Raatz. Seated in front is their mother, the infamous Grandma Hanson (actually, my great-grandma, Jennie Pieczynski–the good Catholic girl who married a Lutheran boy…I’ll take Family Mysteries for $1000, Alex).
And here, we have the Schmitzer brothers. Handsome fellows! From left to right, Alois Sr, my grandfather–Herman, Richard, and Alfred.
What a precious gift–to see the faces of my grandparents and their families!