Still Here and Still His

Of Life, Love and Loss. Of Knowing and Being Known. On Being His.

Month: July, 2013

A Lutheran Liturgy

About a year ago, I began making a list of all that needed to be done. Tasks that I didn’t sign-up for were now mine to accomplish. Jeremy had passed away a month before and instead of coming up with creative gift ideas for his birthday, I was trying to think of creative ways to remember him. How does one go about not forgetting the one who breathed such life into mine for well over a decade? Not that I would ever choose to forget him, but what were you doing ten years ago? How many of the details do you remember about daily life? This was a person; my husband, nonetheless. I knew there would be things I would never forget, but I feared, even still, that there would be much that I would. And what about the boys—how would I help them to remember him? How do I go about deciding a month after his death (and now a year) what of Jeremy’s would be important to them years from now? Just how much of the past should we hold onto?

But those weren’t the only kinds of things on my mind. The list included more practical things as well—like unpacking hospital bags, going through drawers, making sure everything that was important on his computer was backed-up; the contacts on his phone, voice mail, text messages…what were the last text messages he sent me? Our finances: switching names and closing accounts and opening new ones. The living will that we had just completed as a couple was now void just months later; time to make a new one, without his name on it. We had two iPhones, two computers, two vehicles. Two was now one too many.

And the list was personal: what books had he been reading? What movies had he brought with him to the hospital that he never watched? His clothes—what do I do with them? Do I keep some of them for the boys or do I cut them to pieces to make quilts for them, or neither? The button down shirts that still had a scent of his cologne from a more formal outing, how long will that last? His shoes…would the boys ever want his shoes? The videos, the letters, the voice memos he left of himself reading scripture and stories to the boys so they could hear him reading to them—how was I to go about sharing that with them in the course of our everyday life?

And then, the music. This, he had spoken of. Finish it; have Grant and Brad do what they can to complete it. He was speaking of the Lutheran Liturgy project in particular. This was a daunting task. The studio was Jeremy’s domain. Completely his. And I wondered how I’d go about facilitating the completion of that project.

The whole process unfolded quite smoothly, but I will say, I had no idea what I was doing. So “thank you” to Brad Johnson and Grant Adams, the two who did know what they were doing; and to the musicians and friends that were a part of filling in the gaps…thank you.

Of that list that I started last summer, I haven’t crossed much of it off. I merged our computers into one. I switched iPhones with Jeremy’s because his was better (though his number is still up and running for now…maybe it’ll be Aedan’s number in a handful of years). An updated living will has been worked on but not finalized. I packed up most of his clothes into boxes but they’re still stacked from floor to ceiling in our closet because I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with them. There are still two shirts that carry the scent of a date night out with him. I rarely take the time to hold those shirts up to my face because the tears come so suddenly.

But when I look back at this past year, I have grieved. I have lived. I have remembered the past. I have lived as fully as possible in the present. I have claimed hope as mine for the future. And we managed to complete A Lutheran Liturgy. As of today, it’s available for purchase—hard copy or download—via the link below. I’m also including a link to the digital booklet for the album. There is more written there that gives a backdrop to the project. I’d love for you to read about it. And pay attention to the lyrics; many of them will be common to you, but Jeremy included some of his own–they are rich with life, promise, and hope. On my best days, those lyrics resonate so deeply. And on my worst days, those lyrics remind me of Whose I am.

Happy 37th Birthday, Jeremy. We finished it. It feels more like a gift from you to all of us. And it’s completely worth holding onto. Thank you.

A Lutheran Liturgy Digital Booklet

Click here to purchase.

liturgy cover

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An Update (from the Rocky Mountains)…

For those of you who are wondering…

It’s been a good week so far. The boys and I have made some wonderful memories that will last, I’m sure. There have been a few difficult moments, but I think we’ve gone to bed each night amazed at how packed-full the day was with good things.

I haven’t had a whole lot of time to reflect on anything—maybe that won’t happen until I get back home. Truthfully, my heart still feels a tad heavy despite how well the week has gone. I long for more time to pray, more time to seek (and see) God. But I suppose there are several ways that happens in our lives—there are several means by which God molds our hearts. It’s not always a mountaintop experience. This week is not that for me. But it has been good. Your texts and emails have been encouraging (thank you)…I’ll respond to them eventually (I intend to, anyway).

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Our road trip out to Estes Park was fantastic. The boys did wonderful traveling and we took in a lot of sites near Rapid City, which included the Reptile Gardens, Alpine Slides, Mount Rushmore, as well as some pool time at the hotel.

Our final drive into camp became a little more difficult. We missed a couple of turns and then Aedan’s stomach couldn’t handle the winding roads. We stopped the car for a moment to give everyone some fresh air and Eli took that opportunity to convince Jo Isaac to put his hand on a cactus – so grandma had a handful of prickles to pull out. And at the same moment it started raining. So we entered into the camp a little later than expected and somewhat unsettled both physically and in our hearts.

And for whatever reason, that “unsettledness” lasted a while. Aedan had another bout with some altitude sickness (and home-sickness). Jo Isaac has carried with him an unusual amount of complaints, finding many things to whine about (interspersed with his usual delightfulness). I think it would be safe to say that Eli has been the most delighted by this trip. He was the one with his camera out all the time on our drive out. And he was ecstatic about Mount Rushmore. He just loved it – his reaction to that day was as one who had just accomplished something on their bucket list. We took a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park today and it was him whose eyes were glued to the scenery outside. His delight has most assuredly brought me delight this week.

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Aedan and I took in a session this morning together at the FLY Convention which was a really necessary experience for us, I think. It was a weighty topic, but the truth was shared so well. And though the session was intended for high-schoolers, both Aedan and I received much from it. And I want more moments like that with the boys. I love the conversations that come out of it. I love when our hearts are fed the truth in a way that we can process it together.

My sessions on Tuesday morning (Life in a Broken World: Casting Light on Discouragement & Despair) went well, although I’m not sure how to sum it up for you. But practically speaking, I was comfortable. In terms of how it was received by others, you’ll have to ask others. Again, my heart is still sludge-like to some extent, so I’m just doing what’s before me and trusting that God is working in it and through it (both for me and hopefully for others as well). I feel completely hands off on this one…and I’m okay with that. I’ll be presenting again tomorrow morning (twice), then I’ll be singing at the evening session as well as briefly joining in on a “talk-back” session the following morning. So I covet your prayers for tomorrow as well — it will be a full 24 (+) hours. Then we’ll have the rest of Friday to play and I’ll be heading home on Saturday (and the boys will be returning home on Sunday with Grandma and Grandpa). And speaking of Grandma and Grandpa, this trip would not have been possible (or nearly as delightful) without them. I love who they are. And I’ve really enjoyed spending this week with them.

I started reading a book by Elisabeth Elliot on our trip out here. It just so happened that so much of the first chapters of her book are almost exactly what I had already prepped to share in my session. At one point, I just laughed and put the book down because the scripture she quoted and the points she was making in her book were so similar. But this quote (along with everything else) resonated with me…so I’ll end with this:

“Many times in life God has asked me to wait when I wanted to move forward. He has kept me in the dark when I asked for light. I like to see progress. I like to see evidence that God is at least doing something. If the Shepherd leads us beside still waters when we were hoping for whitewater excitement, it is hard to believe anything vital is really taking place…The stillness is hard to bear –and God knows that. He knows our frame and remembers we are but dust. He is very patient with us when we are trying to be patient with Him…” (Elisabeth Elliot)

P.S. And we did receive a portion of the Lutheran Liturgy albums in time to bring out to the convention. I’ll get them up on Bandcamp next week…

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