19 years Ago…Two Miracles

At a recent eye checkup, I tried out a new machine in the office that takes a very detailed look at the retinas, a much closer look that was possible before.

I knew I had scarring on my retinas from a case of severe preeclampsia with our youngest son, Will, and for the first time, I got a real look at the damage. It was a reminder of how close to being permanently blinded I really was. The fluid that had built up in a life-threatening experience bowed my retinas outward, doing damage as it did so. The eye doctor pointed out to me that in both eyes, the scarring came within a tiny margin of destroying the optic nerve.

The legal blindness I had for two weeks after Will was born eventually subsided, all thanks to the Lord. I remember the day when the dim light I was seeing was replaced with normal vision. All of a sudden it was like a million diamonds were sparkling all over. The light was coming back into my eyes. Within hours, literally, I could see fully again, lines on paper were straight again instead of wonky looking, and things were sharply focused.

Today marks 19 years since that frightening evening when I, by God’s merciful Willgesuorgan1design, went in for a prenatal check-up on a Monday instead of a Wednesday appointment, which saved my life. My blood pressure was through the roof. The doctor, a young man without any experience with preeclampsia he later admitted, sent me into the hospital, and I was hooked up to every monitor in existence. Will was born prematurely that night, but both our lives were spared.

God still had work for me and for Will. I am deeply grateful. Will is a tornado, a man with a plan ever since he was little. I can always tell when he is home, because the piano in our living room will burst into sound at random moments. When I hear that sudden music, I know our son is there.

In between his landscape work this summer, he is preparing for a noon-time concert at a church in Milwaukee in a couple of weeks. He is good friends with many organists in town who seem to like our son a lot. We like him, too!

Every child born into a family brings something to it. Will brings music. The night he was born, I had this piece of music pounding through my head. It’s fitting that the composer, Anton Bruckner, was an organist as well as composer of symphonies! It is one of Will’s favorites, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

So, in honor of Will, here’s the finale to Bruckner’s 8th Symphony. The whole 22 minutes is a wonderful listen.

 

One Proud Mom and Dad

The Schantz Organ Company shared our 18-year-old son, William’s video of of his recording this week of Widor’s Sixth Symphony. These final two minutes and 56 seconds of this piece in the video are thrilling as the Gesu Schantz shows its power. You can see the video by clicking here at this link. Thank you, Schantz, for this unbelievable instrument in Milwaukee. Thank you, also, Will, for the beautiful music.

A Reflection for Today

Hymn reflection. These old treasures of English hymnody are largely unknown to younger generations. I share this one today in fitting contemplation of our Savior’s sacrifice on the cross. The music sung below only uses four of these stanzas, but the totality of the text tells the full story.

Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow,
Where the blood of Christ was shed,
Perfect Man on thee did suffer,
Perfect God on thee has bled!

Here the king of all the ages,
Throned in light ere worlds could be,
Robed in mortal flesh is dying,
Crucified by sin for me.

O mysterious condescending!
O abandonment sublime!
Very God Himself is bearing
All the sufferings of time!

Evermore for human failure
By His passion we can plead;
God has born all mortal anguish,
Surely He will know our need.

This—all human thought surpassing—
This is earth’s most awful hour,
God has taken mortal weakness!
God has laid aside His power!

Once the Lord of brilliant seraphs,
Winged with love to do His will,
Now the scorn of all His creatures,
And the aim of every ill.

Up in Heaven, sublimest glory
Circled round Him from the first;
But the earth finds none to serve Him,
None to quench His raging thirst.

Who shall fathom that descending,
From the rainbow circled throne,
Down to earth’s most base profaning,
Dying desolate alone.

From the Holy, Holy, Holy,
We adore Thee, O most High,
Down to earth’s blaspheming voices
And the shout of Crucify.

Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow,
Where the blood of Christ was shed,
Perfect Man on thee did suffer,
Perfect God on thee has bled!

Text: William J. Sparrow-Simpson, created for John Stainer’s oratorio, The Crucifixion

For Your Day

For 20 years, since I discovered its riches, the oratorio, Elijah, by Mendelssohn, has been a source of comfort and hope. From the opening chorus of, “Help, Lord!” through all of it’s Scripture-laden content, it is the story of a people in need of God’s help and deliverance. And it’s the story of how God did deliver. This aria, sung by a young boy in this rendition, is one of my favorites. Direct instruction. “Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, and He will give you your heart’s desire.”

 

Home Again

Will is home from college tonight. He arrived at the bus station too early for his dad to pick him up after work, so he walked down Wisconsin Avenue carrying all his stuff from college and arrived at Gesu Church where his beloved Schantz organ was waiting for him in the dark organ loft.

Our son recorded a Christmas carol just for me. I thought I’d share  Silent Night with the Hope Blog readers.

He also recorded this joyful fanfare just for fun. This is a fanfare he learned from Organist Emeritus at Gesu, John Weissrock, Will’s mentor in organ from the time he was a very small boy. The fanfare is usually the introduction to Christ the Lord is Risen Today at Easter, but Will whips it out when he is in a particularly joyful mood. He’s glad to be home, and Tom, Mary , Emmy and I are all so happy to have our tornado back for a few weeks from college.

 

WillMaryChristmas

 

For Today

I came across this music from Psalm 42 that I love so much, sung by the (German) Harmony Quartet. Their videos on YouTube, both in English and German, are a frequent enjoyment of mine. Here are the words to that Psalm, and then here is their truly lovely version of it. The spirit of the music lifts up the beauty and longing of the words and fills a heart with peace.

Psalm 42

For the choir director: A psalm[a] of the descendants of Korah.

As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
“Where is this God of yours?”

My heart is breaking
as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
amid the sound of a great celebration!
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged,
but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
from the land of Mount Mizar.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.

“O God my rock,” I cry,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
oppressed by my enemies?”
Their taunts break my bones.
They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

A Joyful Afternoon

Saturday afternoon was our son Will’s graduation recital on piano and pipe organ at St. Joseph Chapel in Milwaukee. It was a gorgeous spring afternoon, a rare one, with temperatures near seventy and with skies that were deep blue.

Willrecital6Will wasn’t expecting many to turn out for his recital, especially on a day like that. We thought that only some family and a few of Will’s friends might be there. We were  surprised and pleased at the group that came out, including several of Will’s organist friends in the area, the headmaster of his school, his headmaster’s wife, a two teachers from his school and school friends. Also, driving all the way from Madison was a blogger friend of mine with his wife and girls, and a pastor’s wife whose husband is now in Illinois. Will’s Aunt Lisa and cousins, Rachel and Anna also attended. The trouble they took to come out and hear our son really touched our hearts!

We are so thankful for Shanti Daya and Sister Mary Jane Wagner who have been exactly the right teachers for Will at this time in his life. God has provided for Will’s needs in so many ways in his music training.

Sitting and listening to the music, some of which  had never heard before by me as he practices in the basement and at other churches (where did that one come from?!), was almost a surreal experience. Who is this young man? Wasn’t he just a little boy playing with his Thomas the Tank Engine trains and running the neighborhood with his Super Soaker?

Now he’s grown up, turning 18 in a few days. It all goes by so quickly. I was comforted, however, by Will’s little sister next to us in the pew at the concert. We still have a young one around for a while yet and all the challenges of education and music training ahead. She will probably start with piano lessons in the next year. I’m not sure I can handle the parent-intensive, twice a week Suzuki violin classes again. But if she shows a proclivity, after a couple years of piano, we will certainly give her that chance, Lord willing.

Will played a quiet meditation on organ at the recital. That was after the very full-blast Bach. When a pipe organ’s sound changes from thunder to a low purr underneath with a quiet melody on top, it moves me to reflection, Tom and I reflected a great deal on 18 years with our son. He is off to Wheaton College Conservatory in August. I can’t say enough about the help of those at Wheaton that has made this possible. Best of all, he will be close enough to see us occasionally, if he can fit us into his schedule! We will all look forward to that immensely.

To those reading this who were able to come out to the recital, thank you for showing love to Will. We are grateful. Here are a few photos from Saturday afternoon.

Will with the Headmaster of Trinity Academy, Dr. Robin Mitchell.

Will with the Headmaster of Trinity Academy, Dr. Robin Mitchell.

 

 

Will with his piano teacher, Shanti Daya on the left, and his organ teacher, Sister Mary Jane Wagner on the right.

Will with his piano teacher, Shanti Daya on the left, and his organ teacher, Sister Mary Jane Wagner on the right.

 

Will with some of his musical friends who came out to hear him.

Will with some of his musical friends who came out to hear him.

Emmy gets ready to go in to hear her big brother.

Emmy gets ready to go in to hear her big brother.

 

Emmy with Cousin Rachel

Emmy with Cousin Rachel

 

The beautiful St. Joseph Chapel.

The beautiful St. Joseph Chapel.

Abba, Father

Translation from the Dutch lyrics.

Abba, Father, You alone,
I belong to You.
You only have searched my heart,
You belong to it.
Let my heart be still fervent,
You never leave alone.
Abba, Father, You alone,
I belong to You.

Abba, Father, let me be
Yours alone.
That my will forever be
Your own.
Never let my heart grow cold.
Never let me go.
Abba, Father, let me be
Yours alone.

Abba, Father, let me be
Yours and Yours alone.
May my will forever be evermore Your own.
Never let my heart grow cold.
Never let me go.
Abba, Father, let me be Yours
and Yours alone.

Lipinski Strad Recovered!

I blogged back in 2008 about getting to hear the Lipinski Stradivarius at its unveiling here in Milwaukee. The violin was stolen from MSO Concertmaster Frank Almond a week ago when Almond was attacked after a concert at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Great news this morning that the violin has been recovered and suspects arrested. Hopefully, Milwaukee will soon enjoy the voice of this incredible instrument again soon. Good job, Milwaukee Police!