Tag Archives: Anniversary

Possessive

16 Sep

This weekend Our Savior Lutheran Church is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Rev. David Fleming’s Ordination.  We are truly blessed to call him our Pastor.  While I was unable to attend the dinner and presentation last night this letter went in my stead.  This morning the joyous celebration culminates with the Divine Service and preaching by Pr. Fleming’s good friend, Dr. Paul Grime.

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Dear Pastor,

Congratulations on the 25th Anniversary of your Ordination.  Please forgive my absence this evening.  As tempting as “an environment conducive to conversational fellowship” might be, it was my husband’s turn to enjoy this rare treat, since he affords me the same on a weekly basis as I rehearse the talented members of our congregation.  In my absence I send this letter.  I’ll try to be brief, but then again, I’m usually the one who makes us sing all ten stanzas of Salvation Unto Us Has Come.

As I reflected on this anniversary I immediately thought back to the 2nd annual Good Shepherd Institute at the seminary nearly eleven years ago.  True, it was at the 1st Annual Good Shepherd Institute that I met you, but it was the next year when I was first introduced as “David Fleming’s Kantor.”  That title hit me with equal amounts of responsibility and joy. The responsibility is tied to the word Kantor.  For in my vocation as a church musician I must deliver the Word through God’s gift of music.  It’s a charge that often falls on my blundering fingers, notoriously loud and flat voice, and sometimes poor sense of judgment.

Gladly, the title comes with a possessive, much like being Jerry’s wife, or best yet, God’s own child.  And, as in those cases, it is the possessor that is the source of joy and comfort.  I’m not just a Kantor, I’m David Fleming’s Kantor.  As your kantor I am under your theological, and even musical, care and guidance.

And so for the past eleven years I’ve received joy and comfort as you taught me to point to Jesus in every hymn, the correct usage of stanza and verse, and even the best tempo for Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven.  You’ve modeled joyful singing in a contagious manner that gave me the most robust congregation in the Missouri Synod to accompany. You’ve corrected without condescension, and forgiven a thousand wrong notes and an even larger number of wrong-doings.  You’ve patiently borne my impatience, humbly covered my arrogance, and worked around my stubbornness.   You’ve guarded me against hurtful words, and built me up with encouraging ones.

Above all, in your preaching and in your actions, you’ve given me Jesus.

And you’ve given Him to our family as well.  You prayed for “Robert” and I on our wedding day, designed platforms so Jerry’s now-sainted father could baptize the twins (Dr. Wright, did you put the emphasis on the second syllable of “bapTIZE” like Prs. Fleming and Krieger would want you to?), sang that Cecilia was breakin’ your heart just minutes after her birth, and selflessly share your beautiful family.

There is one other thing I remember from the trip to the 2nd Good Shepherd Institute that deserves mention this evening:  you minted a brand new portion of the liturgy.  And although you’ll have to ask Dr. Grime why it didn’t make it into the hymnal, it’s time I took my job as Kantor seriously and taught the liturgical response to the congregation.   This new salutation goes like this:  Pastor Fleming will say, “We’re all jerks,” and the congregation will respond in full voice, “But not you, Pastor.”  So Pastor, if you don’t mind, you should all give it a try.

P:  We’re all jerks.
C:  But not you, Pastor.

Congratulations on your years as Christ’s servant, may He continue to bless you, and us through you, for many years to come.

We love you deeply in Jesus,
Christina

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Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 10

23 Jun

Okay, dear friends, In writing about our wedding day for the past nine days I’ve done my best to spare you a lot of mush, but today is our actual anniversary, and so like it or not, it’s about to get sappy around here.

Happy Anniversary, dear husband,

From the moment you first gently put your hand on the small of my back as we entered Pietro’s over ten years ago I knew that you would be the one to gently encourage and push me, to guard me, and to have my back in all situations.  The first time I was sick after we began dating and you made me take cough medicine I knew you would always take care of me, and go out of your way for my comfort.

And when I joined you for dinner at your family table and we sat chatting for hours with your parents before you and your dad got up and cleared the dishes I knew our life would be full of openness, long talks, kindness and responsibility.  On evenings when I would go on a rant and attempt to gossip or overdramatically speculate you didn’t take my bait or let me dwell on the untrue, and I knew that you would bring out the best in me and not let the worst flourish.  When you pulled out The Lord of the Rings trilogy to read aloud to me I knew our children would grow up with beautiful imaginations and a love of learning.   And as you joined me in my desire for a Sunday morning Divine Service wedding it was obvious that the foundation for our marriage would be the forgiveness of Christ who united us.

I know it’s impolite to say this, but, “I was right!”  You, and our life are all those things and more.  Thank you.  Thank you, thank you.

Jerry, I love you, thank you for loving me.  Thank you for this decade, and thank you in advance for all the decades to come.

Yours,
Christina

Okay folks, mush out.  (But I do totally dig that man.)

Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 8

21 Jun

When we got married I was 26 and Jerry was 38.  The odds were stacked against us.  We had just narrowly passed the Gross Factor Equation Exam.  You remember that one from College Algebra, right?  It’s something something like

2(woman’s age) – 11 ≥ (man’s age)

See, I knew that would come right back to you, after all, math is just like riding a bike down the street toward the railroad crossing at 10 miles an hours with an approaching train traveling 36 miles an hour.

So, as I was saying, the numbers appeared to be stacked against us, especially this glaring statistic:

Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride.

What? That’s not actually a real stat?  Egh, whatever, facts, folklore, they’re all the same to me, and I had the dresses to prove it:  I’d been a Maid of Honor not once, not twice, but the dreaded three times.  And with my sister’s 2001 New Year’s Eve engagement and pending 2002 New Year’s Eve wedding, I was looking at my fourth line of duty.

And I don’t know if there’s a wive’s tale that speaks to the number of roommates that one marries off before she herself is destined to a life of spinsterhood, but I was at a whopping five.

That’s why at my wedding I just had one attendant who was securely attached to a fiance.  No need to run up any one else’s tally, right?

But, all those beautiful women who did me the honor of making me their honored maid flew miles and miles, some even with teensy newborns, to celebrate my very own take-that-you-silly-old-legend wedding extravaganza.

Thank you, Misty, Angie and Stephanie for your years of standing up for me with or without the yards of silk and satin.

And here’s one that I couldn’t have guessed that hot, steamy June day – after my sister’s nuptials I wasn’t yet finished with my role in the wedding party.  Seven years later, my good friend Audrey, who at my own wedding could be seen sitting at the back left corner of the table of high school girls, got married, and there I stood, yet again witnessing the happy occasion of the joining of husband and wife.

So, who’s next?

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Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 7

20 Jun

Wedding are just chocked full of happy memories,  like this:

What caused that sea of genuine smiles? This dear, sainted man.

And that’s thing about those happy memories, many of them are tied to people who are no longer with us.  Who knows what Pastor Krieger was saying, or even why he had the mic, but the man who gave me the nickname Chirps, and scolded me when there weren’t enough a Capella stanzas is sorely missed, gentle ribbings and all.

As is this beautiful woman on the left, framed between her two daughters.

Just a few weeks after I moved to town I was invited over to her condo for a cocktail party with the caveat, “they’ll all be talking about you anyway, so you might as well be there.”  Grace was the perfect hostess, the evening was full of lively conversation, delicious food, big guffaws (Pr. Krieger was there), and the most delightful Old Fashioned I’ve ever imbibed.

She wasn’t the only one who opened her home to me in my first days in Michigan.  This kind, generous couple hosted me for supper right before my interview.

Norma was on the interview committee, and she and I left their house just a minute or two late with these parting words from Norm, “You just tell them you’re late because I made you stay and drink a beer.”  I did.  Tell them that, not drink the beer, and Norm’s excuse instantly broke the ice, and calmed my nerves as I sat down with the room full of people I now happily call my friends.  I don’t know if he ever knew what a wonderful gift he gave me in that simple sentence.

The people below also gave us a great gift.  Well, to be fair, we bought it from them, but the thought, care, and maintenance they put into this house, now our home, is something for which we will always be grateful.  My apartment lease was up three weeks before our wedding, so as the final days of school were wrapping up, and our last minute wedding plans were ramping up, we threw in the purchase of a house.

We had no idea when we discovered this house with it’s custom designed pantry and spacious sunroom that the seller would be one of the music leaders of West Michigan.  We had an instant bond with them, and they graced us with their presence at our wedding, and the initials AS carved into each of the handmade kitchen cabinets still makes me smile.

Do you remember those beautiful seventh grade girls that helped me pick out my wedding dress?  Well, one of them just got engaged.  Sadly, she lost her father before he had the chance to walk her down the aisle.  Her Dad is the man on the right.

Losing part of your family is always tragic, whether it happens unexpectedly, or after a extended illness at the end of a long life.  My Grappa was able to make it to our wedding, but it was the last big event he was strong enough to attend.  He was too sick to make it to my sister’s wedding just six months later, and died a month after that.

We saw him near the end, lying thin in a hospital bed, but this is how I will remember him.

As two became one, Jerry’s family became mine, and that means that the losses of his family became mine as well.  Nearly five years ago we lost Jerry’s brother David in a single car accident, and just this year their dad died after a battle with Alzheimer’s.

The holes they leave are huge, but larger than any emptiness is the thankfulness we have for the time we had with each of these people.  They shaped our lives, brought us joy and laughter, and remind us to appreciate those still with us.

Okay, weepy sad time is over.  Let’s think back to the beginning of this post, shall we?  Happy memories.  Happy, happy, happy.  Here, just in case your mind’s eye needs a little trigger:

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Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 6

19 Jun

Did I mention that it was really, really hot that day?

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Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 5

18 Jun

Before we had children I lived the most luxurious life.  I used to get my hair cut.  On a regular basis.  And highlighted.  At a salon.  By “My Stylist.”

Man, those were the days.

Despite the fact that our wedding was on a Sunday morning, My Stylist agreed to come do my hair and make-up in my office at church during the Sunday School hour.  She picked out the make-up, I purchased the suggested items, and then brought them along for her to apply.

She did a nice job, yes?  When she quit the salon while I was pregnant with Thomas I happened to be scheduled on her last day of work.  I cried.  It was the hormones, I’m sure.  That was about the time I gave up getting my hair cut.

Anyway, see that blush she selected?  I love that blush.  Notice how I didn’t use past-tense on that last sentence.  That’s right.  I still own it.  And not only do I still own it, I still use it pretty much every time I wear makeup, which might not be as often as it was back in the first days of our marriage.

Yep, I just snapped that picture.  It’s the same exact blush, not just the same color purchased after the first blush ran out.  Nope, that’s the original folks.  Save me your lectures about the dangers of using old make-up, I’m not really interested.  I’m hoping to stretch this cheek color out until at least our Silver Anniversary because I like the role of blushing bride.

Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 4

17 Jun

Happy Sunday!  We were married on a Sunday, you know.  And a Sunday morning, at that.

It was lovely.  I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  A packed church, marvelous hymns, bold singing, faithful preaching, historic liturgy, and Jesus – present there for our forgiveness as we began our lives as one in Him.

*Hugemongous Happy Sigh*

Oh.  Okay, I’m back now.  Sorry, sometimes I get lost in my happiness.

Don’t worry, I’m not so lost that I’ve forgotten that today isn’t just any ol’ Sunday.

Happy Father’s Day!

Now, we weren’t married on Father’s Day, but don’t think that’s going to stop me from showing you the important role our dads played in our nuptials.

My dad gave me a way, and he didn’t even flinch when I started belting out the processional hymn “O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth” really loudly in his ear.

All these years we’ve bemoaned the effect the hog sheds had on his hearing, but in this instance it might have worked in my favor (Please take this moment to insert all of your “raising pigs parallels raising Christina” jokes.  I can take it.            Okay.  Are you done now?)

Jerry’s Dad pronounced us husband and wife.

It’s something not every couple can say, and it’s certainly a memory we cherish.  Plus, don’t you just think he looked adorable in his vestments? Especially the green.  I’m pretty sure it was during the Trinity season that he acquired the nickname Pastor Yoda.

The excitement of the day might have blurred my memory, but I think he probably said, “Husband and wife, now pronounce you I do.”

And of course I got a dance with my Dad.  I’ve never really known him to dance, so this was pretty awesome.

But even more awesome that all the processing, pronouncing, and dancing is the impact these two men have had on our lives for way more than just a day, or even a decade.

They, along with our mothers, brought us to the font to be washed in Baptism, reared us in homes ruled and forgiven by the daily use of God’s Word, and compelled us to receive Christ each week in the Divine Service.

They, along with our mothers, showed us daily how to serve each other in love, and have not exasperated their children, but brought us up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  They have led us both by quiet example and adamant truth.

And today we thank our Heavenly Father for the gift of our earthly ones.

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Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 3

16 Jun

When I married at age 26 I instantly became a great aunt.  I had always heard that marriage ages a person, but until it happened to me I didn’t exactly understand what that meant.

This is CJay (or Cody as we called him back then) and his mom, and when we got married he had just finished second grade.

Just to put things in perspective, that’s the same age our oldest is right now.

Today we went to CJay’s graduation open house (BTW, Congrat’s CJay!!!  We’re so happy to see the direction your life is in!), and if you do just a little bit of math that means that in ten years we’ll be the ones throwing the open house.  Crazy.

In addition to gaining a great-nephew that day, I also happened upon a great extended family.  Here’s the group picture of the Robertses at our wedding.

The family has changed a lot in the last decade.  There have been some very happy additions, as well as some tragically sad losses.  It’s amazing what can happen in just ten years.  We’ll see what the obligatory bulletin board of pictures portrays in 2022.

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Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 2

15 Jun

One of these things is not like the others.

It’s just good that this picture wasn’t cropped closely.

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Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 1

14 Jun

In just 10 days Jerry and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary.  In anticipation of this great feast, I’ll be posting a little look back at that balmy, beautiful Sunday of 2002.  It seems like just yesterday, and yet, when we look back at the pictures it becomes apparent that a decade has taken it’s toll, on at least some of us.

Look at these girls, for instance.  You’d hardly recognize them today.  One is married and expecting her first child, three are in college, one works in Japan, one just graduated high school, and the littlest among them will be a senior next year.  The years have treated them well.

We were just over at these girls’ house last Sunday . . .

for a graduation open house.  Wow.  The the middlest just graduated from Jerry’s 8th grade class.  The youngest?  Well, last time I checked she wasn’t wearing that adorable watermelon top.  But she’s pretty cute, she could probably still pull it off.

And then there is this gorgeous family.  It goes without saying that ten years hasn’t aged the parents one bit.

But those boys, woah.  They’re all grown up, succeeding in college and high school, throwing no hitters and over-achieving.

There were a lot of children at our wedding.  Jerry is a teacher, I was teaching music to the entire school at the time.  This just wasn’t a wedding, this was the wedding of Miss Vogelsang and Mr. Roberts.  Mega Big Deal.   His class, especially the seventh graders were super involved in the planning.  These three preteen beauties . . .

now sucessful, beautiful adults, helped my pick out my wedding dress. (Okay, one of you was just there in spirit.)

The seventh grade boys played their part, too.  They accompanied us on multiple viewings of Lord of the Rings, quite a romantic way to begin a relationship.

I’m not sure the years have changed these two much.  Once a seventh grade boy, always a seventh grade boy.

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