Archives for February 2010

Oh, my, what a morning!

She’s here! And she’s wonderful. Granddaughter #2 has arrived and we are overjoyed to make her acquaintance. Her name is Lilly (short for Lillian Ruth) and she is perfect in every way, from her mohawk hairdo to her tiny little toenails. We are thanking God today for the miracle of new life, for a healthy mom and baby, and for the promise that this new life brings to our family circle and to the world.
Lilly is very mellow (so far!), seems quite small compared to her 4-year-old sister, Grace, and is generally unperturbed by this new world of light and noise and activity. Babies are such a picture of grace for me – utter dependence on someone else to make sure they are nurtured and nourished and gently guided into maturity. Completely trusting that somehow, all those needs will be met, open and curious about the world around them, creatures of small physical volume but immense vocal volume!
Gracie will be a remarkable older sister – showing the way, protecting, teaching. It will be such a joy to watch them grow up as a twosome! I’m sure there will be fights and hurt feelings and the stretching that comes when love (and toys) must be shared. But what a wonderful gift to have a sister – something I don’t have and have often wished for. May each amazing girl find her way to the joyful discovery of who it is God has designed her to be – inhabiting their own unique selves – that glorious mix of gifts/tastes/skills/desires/personalities that makes them Grace and Lilly – with confidence and gratitude and generosity. It is a privilege to be their grandmother. They join six remarkable male cousins on this side of their family and two amazing boys (so far) on their mom’s side. Believe me, they will hold their own.

A Prayer for the 1st Sunday in Lent…

written by Diana R.G. Trautwein
for worship at
Montecito Covenant Church
February 21, 2010
Interspersed with words from Psalm 84
“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

We gather this morning
as your yearning people, O Lord.
We join the psalmist in crying out for you,
the living God.
Beneath everything else we think we want,
below the surface dreams and fantasies,
sitting at bedrock in the center of ourselves,
is a deep longing for you.
You alone can fill the empty spaces
in our spirits,
and you can fill them
with life
and hope
and peace.
How lovely, indeed.

“Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.”

“Even the sparrow….”
the smallest, most ordinary,
everyday house bird
can find a place of welcome
and rest in your presence.
Your mercy and grace are like that, O Lord,
and we are grateful.
There is room for the likes of us
near your altar,
sparrow or swallow,
young or old,
male or female,
strong or frail –
there is room,
there is welcome,
there is rest,
there is home.
Thank you.

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

And we do praise you this morning, O God.
We praise you that you are our home.
that you are our strength.
And as we this week begin
our annual Lenten pilgrimage –
our journey to the cross of Good Friday,
and the empty tomb of Easter Sunday –
we want to set our hearts to it.
We want to open ourselves to the
quickening work of your Spirit.
May our souls be formed more and more
into the likeness of Jesus,
even as we place our feet on the Calvary road,
the way that leads through
the reflection and repentance of Lent
to the celebration and feasting
of Resurrection Sunday.

“Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.”

The psalmist beseeches you to listen, Lord God,
to hear and answer.
And we offer prayers as well,
prayers for ourselves –
that we might live more fully into
your picture of us as beloved sons and daughters.

And as your children, we offer prayers for our children,
most especially this morning
for those high school students –
who really are all our children
and their leaders as they play and worship
and learn together this weekend.
Guide, protect, instruct, refresh –
work your way in their lives,
calling each one of them to recognize and to honor
their own deep yearning for you.

We pray for those who are wrestling
with hard stuff today, Lord –
those who have lost a loved one
like Tom Dalton has this week
in the passing of his mother;
those who are facing treatment for cancer,
or surgery of one kind or another,
or who live with a chronic illness,
or long-term pain –
please bring healing and hope
into each of these situations.

We pray for those who live with
or who care for those who live with
mental and emotional distress and illness,
or the slow, lingering loss
of memory and sense of self
that comes with dementia.
Bring refreshment and hope and courage into
each unique situation and relationship.

Strengthen and encourage
your servant and friend, Helen,
as she brings for us your word of blessing this morning.
Thank you for her inspired leadership this past week
and for the truths she has skillfully
and gently guided us toward.

Thank you for the invitation
to bring our requests and concerns
right into your lovely dwelling place, O Lord,
and thank you that you listen with love.

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold from those
whose walk is blameless.
LORD Almighty, blessed are those who trust in you.”

O help us to be counted among those
who trust in you, Lord Almighty,
that our walk might be blameless,
that we might forever be found in your courts,
gifted recipients of your favor and honor.
We pray these things in the name of
the only truly blameless one, even
Jesus Christ,
our good shepherd,
elder brother,
Savior and Lord.

The Gift of Grandchildren

Almost alone among our college friends, Dick and I have enjoyed the gift of grandchildren for a good, long time now. On February 10, 1991, our eldest daughter and her husband started us on this journey when Benjamin Scott Trautwein Fischinger was born by emergency c-section. That dramatic beginning marked the start of a most surprising and delightful journey for us, one that continues to amaze and gratify. So this year, astounding as this sounds!, our number-one grandchild is living with his grandparents while enrolled in the film studies program at SBCC. And he happened to be here on his birthday – number 19. And he happened to have just about a 90 minute window in his very busy schedule as a member of a documentary team from the college who were fully booked most of the last two weeks filming interviews at the increasingly international Santa Barbara Film Festival. So we took him out to brunch to celebrate God’s great gift of BEN to this world.

He ordered the Boathouse Signature Breakfast and seemed to enjoy every bite – crabcakes benedict on a field of breakfast potatoes. Great food and a great view on what turned out to be an absolutely spectacular day for breakfast at the beach.

What an amazing privilege it is to be able to live long enough to enjoy watching your children’s children grow to adulthood. Each one of our six grandsons and soon-to-be two granddaughters (February 25th is coming soon!) is an absolute gift of God and brings a unique gift mix to our family and to the world. We can hardly wait to see how each will unfurl those gifts, those remarkable personalities, as they grow into the people God has designed for them to be.
Our Wednesday Birthday Brunch was followed on Friday evening by a larger family gathering for dinner at Stella Mare’s and Ben’s favorite cake at our house afterwards. We missed Joy’s family – traveling with a boy in a body cast is difficult at best, impossible in Friday traffic! Rachel (carrying baby girl #2) lit the candles and Ben blew them all out while the rest of us cheered him on. Hard to believe 19 years have flown by.
Meanwhile, I am happy to report that our beautiful boy with the broken leg is slowly healing (got his huge cast cut down about an inch last week) and enjoyed a play-date with his almost-the-same-age (one month apart) cousin Grace. The huge cast remains until at least March 4. So we thank you again for your prayers and humbly ask you to continue to remember Griffin and his family as they flex to care for him.
You know – we got into this family-building business when we were ridiculously young and inexperienced. And we’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. But, WE ARE SO GLAD we started early enough to enjoy this whole span of ages, stages and phases – from newborn to nineteen – while we’re still (relatively) young enough and healthy enough to truly relish it all. Who knew it could be so wonderful??

A Communion Prayer…

written by Diana R.G. Trautwein
for worship at Montecito Covenant Church
Sunday, February 7, 2010

Holy Father,
Loving Lord Jesus,
Comforting Spirit –
to you, Triune God, we lift our hearts in prayer,
to you, we lift our hands in praise,
to you, we lift our lives in gratitude.

We’re at the table again, Lord.
This table –
where you call us
to remember you,
to celebrate your gift of life even in the midst of death,
to eat a little piece of the bread of life,
to take a tiny sip of the fruit of the vine –
and in doing that,
to receive once again
you in our midst.

It’s not as though you’re not here at other times,
at all other times, as a matter of fact.
It’s that you’re here,
here at this table,
in a particular way,
a particularly blessed and sacred way.
A way we don’t truly understand,
but which we cherish
and look forward to
and find rich meaning in.
A way that speaks to us of mystery and wonder,
that calls us to humble confession and contrition,
that promises us a unique point of connection with you,
a connection that brings with it
and hope
and joy.

So, as we take part in this very familiar and dearly loved ritual today,
we want to stop for a few minutes and savor it.

we want to say how much we need to be here today.
We need it because we are needy people,
‘standin’ in the need of prayer,’
hungry for a sign of grace,
deeply desirous of a fresh start,
another chance,
a place to begin again.
Hear our prayers of need just now, Lord –
for in this moment of quiet,
we’re going to tell you how sorry we are for…
so many things
we’ve said or done
or not said or not done –
and how much we need, once again, your forgiving grace.
Hear, O Lord, our prayers of confession:

– Silence –

Thank you.
Thank you for listening once again
and thank you for the sweetness of forgiveness
and the releasing, strengthening power of sins forgotten,
because of grace-made-flesh in Jesus.

Since the last time we gathered together around this table, Lord,
each one of us has come up against it,
in one way or another.
Come up against
the darkness and sadness of life on planet earth,
as well as come up against
the gift and the beauty of life in this place.
Each of us has a long list of things
for which to say, ‘Thank you, God!’
and each one has a long list of things
for which to say,
‘Help us, O God!’
And we know, Lord,
that you are with us in the middle of it all
the beauty and the gift,
the darkness and the sadness.
So, hear, O Lord, our list of thank-you’s
as we offer them to you silently::

– Silence –

And hear, O Lord, our list of,
‘Help us, O God’ requests:

– Silence –

We know, O Lord, that your Spirit
is constantly at work within us
to help us be people who bear rich fruit –
fruit that looks like love and joy and peace –
no matter what circumstances
we may find ourselves in from day to day.
For life – full, rich, wonderful, terrible life
is such a crazy, mixed-up thing –
and the living of that life is made
infinitely deeper and richer when
we live it in the center of your will
and design for us.

So we pray that for ourselves this morning.
as we set aside these small pieces of bread,
and these tiny cups of juice,
for the holy and sacred privilege of sharing them
together in the act of communion –
we pray for our own continuing transformation –
that the fruit of the Spirit would be
evident in us,
and then through us,
also evident in our families,
in our places of employment,
in our circle of friends,
in our wider community.
For your glory, O Lord.

Oh, Ouch!

My, it’s been a hard, sad week in our family. Our youngest grandson, Griffin, age 4, broke his left femur on Thursday afternoon, January 28th. Coincidentally, that was his Aunt Lisa’s birthday – a fact which pretty much got shunted to the sidelines after word spread of Griff’s accident. He and his brothers were playing on their ‘world’s safest trampoline’ – one of their favorite things to do – and were engaging in a simple game of hide-and-seek. Sorta like Marco Polo in a swimming pool, except without the water. So eyes closed, an older brother swung his arms around ‘in the dark,’ somehow connecting with Griffin in such a way that his body went one direction and his leg went the other, causing a spiral fracture midway down that large left thigh-bone. And all 3 boys heard it. Very scary, very painful. Somehow, there is nothing worse than a small child who is frightened and hurting.

Fortunately, the break – which was clear through the bone on a diagonal line – could be ‘reduced’ without the surgical insertion of rods and screws. BUT that had to happen under anesthesia and be done by a pediatric orthopedist – and there was only one recommended and available….but she had a full day of appointments on Friday and could not return to the hospital until about 5:00 p.m. So it was 24 hours on heavy duty pain meds before any kind of relief truly came.

And that relief, as you can see in the picture above, is HUGE and CUMBERSOME and COMPLICATED. Pretty much a full body cast for the next 6-10 weeks, depending on the rate of healing. We came down and stayed with the big brothers for 3 nights while Griff’s parents stayed in the hospital with him. Their new church family rallied wonderfully, as did hosts of friends and relatives, and they’ve now been managing Griff’s care for a full week at home – without having to cook a single dinner! We took our 4-year-old granddaughter Gracie down for a day’s visit – very good medicine – and each day, he seems to be less fearful and mom and dad seem to have the routine down a little more fully. We all wish like anything that it had never happened – but – it did. So thanks to so many for your prayers and notes and gifts of love to all of us – and please keep dear Griffin in your prayers for the next little while.