It was one year ago (yesterday) when I first started blogging — on my Monica's eleventh birthday. Now she is twelve, and I've been reflecting on all that has happened in the past year. It has been rather an eventful one, all things considered. So much so, that, whereas I am usually inclined to comment on how quickly the time has gone by, in this case I am amazed that so much has happened in the span of only twelve months; surely it must have been longer than that.
It was that same weekend, a year ago, that my young friends Ann & Andrew were married up in Minnesota, and I have certainly spent some time this past week recalling the fond memories of their wedding. That was a highlight of 2007, no doubt. Then again, it was also that weekend when another dear friend, Mrs. Beth Schlamann, departed in the peace of Christ after a vigorous battle with cancer. I've been pleased to see her husband, the Reverend Mark Schlamann, on a number of occasions since then, and my heart still goes out to him with sympathy for his loss. These are the chronicles of life and death and everything between, as Charlotte and Ariksander are fond of reminding me.
Since then, let's see, what has transpired? My eldest son moved away from home to work in Nebraska for the summer, then began his first year of college in Texas. Both he and his older sister got engaged to be married in this Year of Our Lord 2008: DoRena said yes to Sam on the 4th of July, and Bekah said yes to Zach on New Year's Day. As for Beanie's year, she had an interesting summer all the way around, then finished her time at I.U. in Bloomington, and moved to Fort Wayne in December to finish her college career while planning her nuptials. Meanwhile, Zach's second semester coincided with a hard blow to the head, followed by a series of scans and medical tests, which appear to have ruled out any serious or permanent damage.
One can readily see that simply keeping up with my two oldest children would already have made for a full year since May of 2007. But wait, there's more. In fact, I've worn myself out just mentally retracing my steps. I attended the LCMS Convention in Houston in July (which was exhausting in its own right); then I spoke on hymnody in Indianapolis in September; on Paul Gerhardt in New York in October; on Worship and Faith in Texas in January; on Confession and Absolution in Ohio in March; and I taught a seminary course on the early church fathers in Siberia in April. Of course, in the midst of the excitement last summer, the final Harry Potter book was released, and I spoke on that, too, most notably on Issues, Etc., which has since been removed from the airwaves. The travesty of that cancellation was one of the low points of the past year.
My wife and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary (on the 15th of June), and half a year later we purchased our first home. Aside from the disasterous mess in which the house was left to us (and it still boggles my mind that we should ever have been treated in that way), buying a home of our own has been positively amazing. Even the necessary upkeep is satisyfing in its own way, because it is undertaken for the longterm benefit of our family and our future. Besdies that, we were really overwhelmed by the generosity of many, many friends, who helped us clean the new place out and turn it into a comfortable home.
There have been a number of bittersweet events along the way since I began blogging one year ago. My Dad underwent surgery (thankfully successful) to remove his bladder on account of cancer, and I have since observed the way that time and tide and tribulation have aged him. I am grateful to have him still with us. But two of my elder colleagues and friends have, in this past year, departed from this vale of tears to the Lord in glory, and there are occasions when their absence is particularly poignant. Another longtime friend, I recently discovered, has departed not from this life but from the comon confession and fellowship of the faith that we previously shared. Such things cut me to the quick. But nothing has touched me more deeply than the death of my unborn son, Job, the first miscarriage that LaRena and I have suffered.
In the face of such things beyond my ability to control or comprehend, I am regularly reminded of my fragility and finitude, such as I have contemplated here in the past. And, in turn, by the grace of God, I am called to repentance and faith in the One who is always the same, yesterday, today and forever. As Beth and Ray and Ed and Job are now with Him in glory, I pray that I too shall abide in Him by steadfast faith, along with Monica, Ann & Andrew, Mark, Don, Sam & DoRena, Zach & Rebekah, LaRena and all our children, until each of us, and one and all, shall be called to abide in His nearer presence eternally.