My Heart?

Where’s my heart?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know, folks. I feel so beaten down right now. Every time I think I am getting past the crap, a new wave of crap hits. I am tired. I am discouraged. But since I can make no sense of these battles individually (and it would be both inappropriate and inexcusable to discuss them in this public forum), I thought perhaps the best way to confess to them tonight would be to give you a list of words.You don’t have to understand what is going on with each of them as it pertains to my life (and you won’t…you’ll try, but you won’t). I simply ask you to pray. If you read this, pray. Ask God to meet me in these battles and speak truth and hope to my soul.

cake & family

adoption & abortion

strings & compassion

ishmael & elsie

piper & camels

dew & rhyme

lump & pain

honesty, honesty, honesty

silence

love

and insignificance

How did you get here?

How did you get here?

The weekend that my Uncle Wayne passed away, Mom and I had been to Lower Michigan to brother my visit, Jeremiah. It is always so much fun to spend time with him. He is the most laid back, easy to hang out with person I’ve ever known. Truly, I like him a  whole lot (I would like him even if he weren’t my brother–and that is saying a lot). He doesn’t realize it, but he blesses me so much. I have very unique relationships with each of my siblings (as each of them are, indeed, unique!), but Jeremiah really connects to my geeky-genealogy side in a way that my other siblings don’t. I mean, they are all interested in the family history, and they all encourage me in that pursuit, but Jeremiah gets involved in it with me. It’s a lot of fun to have him (and Mom) to get into the nitty gritty stuff with.

During our short visit, Jer took us to a blast from our childhood: East Jordan. Listen, if you don’t know where East Jordan is, don’t feel bad–I don’t really know, either. You just drive and drive and drive…and then you DON’T BLINK. I digress. On our way, Jer showed us the corner where Grandpa’s brother, George, was killed in a car wreck when he was young (my dad’s sister, Aunt Georgeine, was named after him). Though I don’t know the story well, and I never knew my Great Uncle George, it was moving to see the place where he died. I know I’ve seen it before. For some reason, I remember Dad showing me once–but I can’t remember when I would’ve been driving there with Dad.

Aunt Millie, my Grandpa’s only living sibling, still lives in that house in East Jordan where we used to visit as children. Honestly?–her house looked vaguely familiar, but it was the nearby playground that I remembered. We must have walked there from her house to play. We didn’t visit with Aunt Millie, because I am not a fan of popping in unannounced–even though I know she would’ve welcomed us (Aunt Millie was always a favorite of ours). Next time, we will visit and listen to her tell stories. I can’t wait!

But the really moving part of the journey was our visit to Sunset Hill Cemetery. Now, I knew that Uncle George was buried there, along with his parents–my great-Grandparents, Fred and Lillian. Seeing their graves was emotional enough. I know very little about these people. I wish, so much, that I had asked my grandpa about them before he died.

Jeremiah had mentioned that there were a few other Moore’s hanging out at Sunset Hill, so he drove the truck to the other side of the lawn and I walked over to meet him and see if it was anyone we knew. What we found there left me speechless for several minutes. It was Fred’s father, my great-great-grandfather, Thomas Moore, who had come to the United States from Canada as a child. Buried near him is his wife, Ellen [Parker Green] Moore, and between them is their daughter-in-law, Beryl (who married Fred’s brother).

Jeremiah asked me who they were, and I told him all I could remember–which was (embarrassingly) not much. For a moment, all I could recollect of Thomas was that he’d been a mail carrier. But if we’d stood there all day, I would not have recollected much more. The truth is, I just don’t know these people. I don’t know their stories. I don’t know anything about them.

And that, more than anything, breaks my heart. I know, as a searcher of family history, I have to accept my fate: I know that I will never get to the root of each family line; I know that there will always be elusive and mysterious stories; I know that there will always be people I can’t find.

But I don’t want it to be Thomas and Ellen. It can’t be Thomas and Ellen.

As Jeremiah removed to the truck, I stood there at Tom’s grave, trying not to cry, but it just overwhelmed me. This man was my immigrant ancestor, and all I knew about him was that he carried mail–which is more than most of the family knows, I dare say. Still, it is not enough. I heard myself asking him, “How did you get here?” And then I was praying. Or talking. Or wishing. I’m not sure, really. Maybe it started as a prayer but grew into a promise. I promised Thomas that I would not let his name be forgotten, that I would search and I would find him.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we–as a culture–are forgetful. We don’t remember one another as we should. We don’t remember our heritage as we should. We don’t remember how we came to be here. And if we don’t know where we’ve come from or how we’ve come, how can we know where we’re going?

Pax.

semmie.

 

Adam Lay Ybounden

Have you heard this song? Oh…my goodness. Listen to it before you read my post. Please.


Our Fearless Leader sprang this song on us at choir rehearsal last night. I regret to tell you that the experience sent me into a fit of laughter. I thought I would never make it through the song. How embarrassing! It’s also distracting, I know. The last thing the choir needs is someone who can’t stay focused when we’re learning a new piece. But seriously–this piece is ridiculous. Maybe it was just a crazy end to a crazy Monday (after all, I did field several insane phone calls at work yesterday [seriously, I'm going to start keeping tabs to see which question gets the most phone calls--the cheese or the sinus infection]). I digress. I felt terrible, but the song just struck me with the ridiculous stick, and I feel my only recompense is to list the ridiculousness here on my blog. These are the things that kept me in stitches.

  • Ybounden is a ridiculous word. Seriously. Ybounden? Okay. 15th century English, I get it. Still. Ridiculous.
  • Adam lay ybounden, bounden in a bond. Really? Bounden in a bond? Is that how one is bound–with a bond? Brilliant!
  • Four thousand winter thought he not too long. What? That doesn’t even make sense to me. And of course, as our Resident Linguist explained, it makes perfect sense because it’s a reference to the span of time between the Fall in Genesis and the Crucifixion. Okay, but…it doesn’t make sense to my speaking (and singing) parts. At all.
  • As clerkes finden written in their-e book.I know the “e” belongs to “their,” but I have to tell you, my first thought was: “It was written in an e-book?!”
  • Pulsing Light. Fearless Leader said the drone of this piece should feel like a pulsing light. I won’t tell you what Liesl said it sounded like; as for me, I thought it felt like a death march.
  • F. F. F. F. E. D.; D. D. C. C. C.; F. F. F. E. D.; D. D. C. C. E.; etc ad nauseum.  Wow. I love being an alto, but I do grow weary of the F’s and E’s. There are a whole lot of them in an alto line.

All of this being stated, I have to confess to you that the most difficult pieces are those I end up falling in love with. I already love it more than I did last night. This song is not at all ill-written; quite the contrary, it is an astounding piece. Its difficulty is what will leave the audience with goosebumps, if we do it well. I hope we will do it justice! Skempton’s work is impeccable.

I must close, but I need to add that, upon further reflection, I think the death march feeling is effective. We are, after all (I think) talking about the Fall of Man, the Curse, Death. The unsettling nature of the piece (lyrically and musically) suddenly makes sense to me in light of the beautiful resolution (again, lyrically and musically): Deo gratias!

It’s quite theological (aside from the e-book, of course).

Yes, folks…I may just learn to like this one.

Deo gratias!

How to Peel Potatoes

How to Peel Potatoes

AKA: Where’s My Heart? Sunday, September 23, 2012.

Where is my heart today, folks? My heart is a million places.

  • My heart is in Florida. She is struggling with not being able to wrap her arms around her cousin and mourn with her. Much of the family will gather next summer to memorialize my dear Uncle Wayne, and I know it will be much-needed closure. Still, my heart wishes I were with Cindy.
  • My heart is in the yard. There is much to do before the weather gets much cooler.
  • My heart is with my family. There is so much turmoil right now. Or maybe I perceive it as turmoil. I don’t know. All I know is, I see such a need for Christ, more and more, in all our lives. We mistakenly think that once we enter into a relationship with Him, once we know His grace and mercy in our lives, we stop needing Him. Our brains know that we still need Him, but we act as if we don’t. We act as if we are okay when many times we are falling apart. The good news is, if we are honest about our fears and our struggles and the storms that are raging, then Christ is faithful and will speak those words we cling to: Peace, be still. We need some of that, all over again.
  • My heart is in my home. I made potato soup today, which turned out remarkably well (I thought). I tried to keep it close to my mom’s recipe when we were kids, but I had to change one or two things. Still, I think it honored her recipe. But I can’t tell you what secret ingredient I used… :D
  • My heart is in words. I am incredibly behind in my writing. I have letters swirling about in my head, trying to find words, and I’ve neglected them. If you’re one of the letter-recipients, I apologize. I’ll get there. Soon. I promise.
  • My heart is at Choir rehearsal. I know it’s not until tomorrow night. I know I’m a dork. I just…love singing with the Choir. So much. Floyd is an incredible director, and the music we’re doing is both beautiful and challenging.  I’ve already had several moments of feeling like the new music is going to be the end of me–which is a good sign. Those are the best pieces (Zadok proved that: ha…ah…ah…ah…ah…AGH!).
  • My heart is lonely. It’s hard to explain. I won’t try.
  • My heart is enraptured by the love of my uncles. I am so excited for my Hobbit-date with Uncle Bub! Could a girl be any luckier?
  • My heart is in a Healer’s cabin, learning to peel potatoes with a young girl from New Praet. She needs more time, and I am rethinking whether the Old Wick knows she is there. He’s a Prophet, so you’d think he would, right…?
  • My heart is wondering how a Prophet feels and behaves when his prophecies fall empty. How does he redeem his prophetic voice? Does he question himself? His god? My heart is stuck there. Peeling potatoes.
  • My heart is bedding down for the cool season. I’m ready to read some books, bake some cookies, stitch some journals, and enjoy the quiet.
  • My heart is with Bilbo. Riddles in the dark.

What about you, folks? Where is your heart?

Two Questions

I had two questions for my Uncle Wayne that were birthed out of the Family History vacation in April. They came spilling out of odd mentions from Uncles John and Dave, and left me with furrowed brow. My intent was to ask Uncle Wayne.

First, there was mention of Bub being sickly as a child (Bub is Uncle Dave) and needing a blood transfusion. As Uncle John spoke of it, it became Bub’s safety net in many situations. Grandma always sort of protected him, told the older boys not to pick on Dave because he had almost died. Of course, it was so long ago, and they were all children, so Mom, Dave, and John don’t really seem to remember why Dave was sick or what sickness ailed him. This was my first question for Uncle Wayne. Being a few years older than the others, he may have recalled more details about Bub’s near-death experience as a child.

Second, there is a wild legend of Uncle Wayne in his high school football days. Nobody quite recalled those particulars, either, except that Grandpa was so proud of him and would always talk about Uncle Wayne’s infamous touchdown. To hear him tell it, I’ve heard, was a great experience.

These were my two questions for Uncle Wayne–what was David sick with, and what happened at that football game. The first question still has no answer. The second, however, sparked a memory with Uncle Wayne. I offer it here, transcribed from a letter dated August 6th of this year, in Wayne Schmitzer’s own words:

Now about my football career at Frankenmuth High. I started at Frankenmuth at the beginning of my Jr year. Frankenmuth went 4 years without a defeat. We were a class C school, but we played against class B. I would guess the reason we did so well was that we were a farming community. We didn’t have any real big players but they were strong from working on the farms. Now about the play I made. It was during Father’s Day at the game. Mom & Dad were there. Well coach I guess knew this. I normally played defense. But coach put me in the offense to run the ball. Well I made it into the end zone and did a front flip. Dad teased me about that for years. I could still do front flips till I was almost 50. I      have one record at Frankenmuth. Nobody ever scored against me while I was on defense. They may tie it, but never break it.

I can’t even imagine my Uncle Wayne doing a front flip. And believe me, I’ve tried very hard. Still, I imagine he is feeling young and wonderful now that he is home in Heaven. I imagine he’s already done a couple of flips.

Saying Goodbye

Goodbye is so difficult.

Even when we know that death is not final, when we know that Eternity will find us in joyous fellowship with loved ones, even when we know that life will somehow stumble upon us day after day until we have learned how to adjust to the loss…

Goodbye is so difficult.

My Uncle Wayne has gone home today to be with our Lord.

I have grown to love my uncles so fiercely. Without a strong relationship with my own father, their love and acceptance has become pivotal in my life, in shaping my identity (yes, even in my thirties). But Uncle Wayne has always been, to me, this image of a man I could never know. He was so far away (Florida). And I’ll tell you–as children, Florida may as well have been as far away as Pluto. I always wanted to know him. This last year, and especially since my Family History trip to Frankenmuth last April, I have written back and forth a few times with Uncle Wayne and his daughter, my beautiful cousin, Cindy.

I remember reading my first letter from Uncle Wayne. I thought–this man probably didn’t even know who I was. But oh, he did! And he did not withhold one ounce of affection. He wrote as if I’d been his favorite niece since that day I was born thirty-some years ago. He told stories of himself, his brothers, his children, even about his parents. And at the end, he wrote something remarkable: a blessing.

I am not too proud to tell you that it is I who owed him a letter, not the other way around. And I am not too proud to tell you that, although I don’t have enough postage for mail delivery in Heaven, I will probably still write to him. At least once more.

Pray for my family this week, friends. Pray for our peace in his absence. Goodbye is just so difficult.

Maybe I’ll say goodbye tomorrow. Tonight, I am heartsick.

What’s on my heart: September 4

What’s on my heart today? Let’s begin with the fact that sometime between my early lunch and my mid-afternoon break, my brain slipped into tomorrow. I’ve spent several hours of this day thinking that tomorrow is Thursday! No, it’s only Tuesday, folks. That should give you a decent idea of my frame of mind to begin with.

  • I have recently finished reading two phenomenal books: Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (a favorite of mine; this was probably my sixth time reading it) and The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. I’ve been chewing on ideas from each of these books, and it is my goal to do some free-blogging on them this weekend. Stay tuned!
  • This year of Sunday Memories has been a quiet one. I haven’t been posting my Sunday writings here on the blog, and I haven’t been mailing them to my kidlets. However, L.D. recently asked me to mail him all of the ones I’ve written so far, and to continue sending them now for the rest of the year. How can I refuse? I have my idea for 2013′s journals; my goal is to do my First Pancake this weekend so I can burn out any potential problems.
  • My brother was recently diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. It has been an enormous adjustment for him, but I just want to go on record as saying how proud I am of him. He is determined to master gluten-free cooking and baking, and I know that if anyone can do it–it’s Jer! He seems to be feeling much better now that he has cut gluten out of his diet. I’m thinking about trying to go gluten-free for a week or two, just so I can relate to what he’s going through.
  • The Choral Society starts next week on Monday. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I don’t have words big enough to express my anticipation. I feel more like a little girl who must relate in small, boisterous exclamations: “I am so excited!” “I can’t wait!” “Yipee!”
  • It has now been almost two months since I left Fountain Bismarck for a new job in a doctor’s office. It is, without question, one of the best decisions I’ve made in my adult life. The hardest part about leaving any job, I think, is letting go of people and relationships. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I love people, I really love them. There are so many people that God brought into my life through this job, and I miss them tremendously. Still, it was a good move. It was the right move. My new job is a great fit for me in so many ways, and I really can see myself “settling down” there. I can even see myself (gulp) taking a class or two in my spare time.
  • The potatoes? Yeah. History. Hehehe. What can I say? I will try again next year. I will spend some time in the cooler months reading and trying to discern where I erred.
  • I’ve been having bizarre dreams as of late. I won’t bore you with details, but I want to mention part of my dream last night. Have you seen the movie Source Code? Bonnie suckered me into watching this one–and I was glad for it! It’s a great movie about…well, watch it, and see if you can write a description of it. The main character basically is being sent into a scenario over and over, in the body of a total stranger, with the mission of finding the person who put a bomb on a train. He has eight minutes. It’s brilliant and bizarre. Anyway, my dream was like that. I was being sent into a situation that I didn’t understand and I was supposed to stay there until I understood it; and of course, in my great (un)wisdom and (im)patience, I kept leaving long before I understood–which meant that I kept having to start over.

There is much more on my heart and mind, but it is growing late (9:30!), and I need to read before bed.

Pax Christi.

semmie.