Another Day ~ Another Miracle

Miracles. I was reminded yesterday that miracles happen daily. Sometimes we’re blessed to witness them from a front row seat.

My nephew Dave and his wife Laura had their first child yesterday. Logan David Wilhelm was born via emergency C-section at St. John’s Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. He weighs 2 lbs. 7 oz. and is 15-1/2” long. He was born two months early. Laura’s intuition probably saved her baby’s life. She felt that something wasn’t right and saw her doctor yesterday morning. I know that it’s true that Moms can sense their children’s needs. But this is the first time that I have witnessed it in vitro. Apparently the umbilical cord was wrapped around little Logan and was depriving him of nutrition and oxygen.

Even though Logan’s birth weight is extremely low and he was born 9 weeks early we remain very hopeful. He is receiving the best care possible in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at one of the best hospitals in the country. They have already reduced the amount of oxygen he is receiving and the doctors believe that my nephew and his wife should be able to hold him in a few days. I’m told that his Daddy’s touch already calms him!

My wife was with Laura and Dave until my brother Dave and sister-in-law Pat could arrive from Atlanta late last night. Great Aunt Debbie reports: “Logan is beautiful but very tiny.”

Logan ~ our little miracle

Not all miracles make the news and they may not affect multitudes but they are miracles none the less. Logan is already responsible for an amazing outpouring of love and kindness among our family and friends. His life has changed us all forever. And that change alone is miraculous. We have reaffirmed our love for one another and we are humbled by his birth. And we are reminded (again) that life is precious and it is truly a gift from God – never to be taken for granted.

We have every reason to believe that Logan will thrive but we also know that he has a tough road ahead. So much to ask of such a tiny little boy!

But someday, in 100 years or so, he can tell his story to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren: that with God’s grace and your prayers there once was a miracle named Logan.

Peace,

Denis

Baby Smiles

Last Sunday in church my grandson Noah smiled at me. That may not seem like a big deal. It certainly wasn’t the first time that he smiled nor was it the first time that he smiled at me. But it was the first time that he seemed to truly recognize me and that recognition garnered a smile. Of course it’s possible that he gives that same smile to the UPS driver or the cashier at the local market. But for that moment it seemed, to me anyway, that he was thinking, “Hey, that’s my Pawpaw and I love him!”  It was sublime.
 
I thanked God at that moment for his ‘baby smile’. His big sister and his cousin have been smiling (or laughing) at me for some time now. But this is a new chapter in our relationship. I love my grandkids and I love that they love me back! And now Noah is ‘telling’ me that he loves me, too!
 
Baby smiles are one of the best things that life has to offer. They’re wonderful. They’re sincere. And they’re ‘free of charge’. Who among us hasn’t been completely disarmed by a baby’s smile? How many times have you had a miserable moment/day/week/ only to have it whisked away by the sweet smile of a baby. And if that baby happens to be your grandchild – it’s even better! Trust me.
 
I know that Charlise and Anna and Noah don’t just smile at me. They have lots of people in their lives that they love. And I’m happy for that. But when they do reserve that one special smile for just for me I feel like the luckiest person on earth.

Smiling Noah

Baby smiles can’t fix everything. They can’t make the pain and suffering of this world disappear entirely. They can’t stop wars or end hunger or cure illness. But sometimes I wonder…? Could a baby smile be a diplomatic tool? Could a smiling baby breakdown political, societal, and economic barriers? When I’ve had a lousy day sometimes just looking at a picture of my smiling grandkids helps put everything in perspective. Maybe all the United Nations Delegates should be required to wear pictures of their children or grandchildren or nieces or nephews on their lapels. Perhaps the State Department should include photos of heads of states’ children as part of the advance teams’ paperwork. It’s possible some conflicts might be resolved if THE IMPORTANT PEOPLE realized how lucky they were to be parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles. And by securing peace in our world; they could insure continuation of baby smiles for generations. It’s just a thought.

How lucky am I? Just look at Noah’s smile and you’ll know.
 
Peace,
Denis

Patience (or lack thereof)

During the four weeks of Advent we are supposed to be waiting for Jesus.  But we are busy.  We are shopping.  We are baking.  We are traveling.  We are entertaining.  We are wrapping gifts and trimming the tree.  All in anticipation of Christmas – Christ’s Mass.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th but do we miss out on the beauty of our Savior’s birth with all our “busy-ness”?  Do we need to quiet ourselves and listen for His voice? 

I personally need to be patient with myself.  This is my annual struggle of wanting the “perfect Christmas” and not being able to let go so that I can be perfected by Christ.  

My need to do it all; to have it all is exhausting.  So again this year I’m going to let go (or at least try to let go) of my need to micro-manage Christmas.  All I ask for is your patience, too.  Be patient with me if you don’t receive a Christmas card until December 26th or 27th.  Be patient with me if I don’t seem “cheerful” enough during our holiday gatherings – I’ll get there.  Be patient with me if I don’t have the house decorated well enough or if your gift seems hurriedly wrapped. 

This year I’m going to hold my grandbabies and try to sing Christmas carols.  This year I’m going to try to read ALL of the holiday newsletters and Christmas greetings the day that they come in the mail.  This year I’m going to try to take my time with those who need me to slow down and REALLY listen to them. 

I’m praying for patience and waiting for another Christmas miracle. 

Who knows – I might be blessed with patience yet!

Peace,

Denis

Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5:7-8

New Life

This coming Saturday our grandson Noah will be baptized.  This past Saturday my niece Caprice was married.  Last week I participated in a Mass of Remembrance for those that died in our parish.

What do these three things have in common?  They are all a celebration of new life.  New Life in Christ.

It occurred to me at my niece’s wedding that with new life there is joy and excitement but there is also some uncertainty and a need for adjustment.  This is true with Baptism, Marriage and death. 

In Baptism we celebrate being “reborn” in Christ.  But as Catholic Christians it doesn’t end with the Sacrament.  It is the beginning of our life as a disciple of Christ.  Noah will be presented for Baptism as an infant but his parents will bear the responsibility for his formation.  The community will support their efforts in raising him as a Christian but ultimately Noah will choose to accept his faith as an adult.  We will all embrace the joys and sorrows that he will encounter as we ask God to walk with him but it will be Noah’s life to live.  His life’s journey is unknown at this time but our belief in Jesus’ saving grace is certain and will sustain him forever. 

In marriage the Sacrament is also just the beginning.  Caprice and Jimmy have witnessed their love before their community and committed themselves to Christ in their marriage ceremony.  But now the “heavy lifting” begins.  They have the rest of lives to affirm their love for one another.  They will witness to all those who know and love them.  And because they have invited Jesus into their married life they now have confidence in that sacred bond.

As Christians we believe in life after death.  Again the Sacrament of the Anointing is just the beginning. It is often administered immediately before death and a Christian burial.  The Sacrament signifies a beginning of our journey from death to life.  As Catholics we believe in a period of purgation after our death.  You can think of it as a time when “your life flashes before your eyes”.  We can’t (and shouldn’t) quantify it but as humans we are inclined to try.  It is enough to believe that it is a period of adjustment when we are finally able to let go of our human existence and accept eternal life with Christ.  And maybe that’s the scary part.  Eternity is a long time.  I take comfort in knowing that God created us to love us.  So life in heaven with Him can only be a good thing.

Holding heaven in my arms

On Saturday when Noah is being held in his mother’s arms and the waters of Baptism are being poured over him I will be imagining that heaven must be like that.  Being held in my Creator’s arms and having new life poured over me.  What a beautiful image.  And Noah will be witnessing to us what heaven can be for those who love God.

Peace,

Denis

A Glimpse of Heaven

This has been whirl-wind week.  My grandson Noah was born on Monday and everything else just sort of fell in place behind that momentous event.  It’s amazing how one blessing can diminish all the crappy stuff in your life.  I’ve had my usual encounter with annoying and hateful people this week but somehow I have become invincible.  Their snide remarks and unloving behavior have had no effect on me.  Because of the love that God has shown me in Noah and his sister and his parents, NO ONE not even the curmudgeonliest interloper has stolen my joy.  I’m not even sure if curmudgeonlist is a word.  But guess what?  I don’t care!  I have a force-field of love shielding me from all the ugliness and hate in the world.  Take that – haters!

Noah "sizing up" his Daddy

I’ve had a glimpse of heaven this week.  And I’m hanging on to it as long as I can.  I don’t want to become someone who never faces reality (although it’s tempting) but for a while I plan on basking in the “afterglow” of Noah’s arrival here on earth.  Having him in our family has helped put a lot of little things in perspective – and some big things, too. 

Somehow bad drivers, annoying co-workers, demanding customers, and trying family members don’t seem to be worth getting upset about.  The annoying co-workers?  Well Anna was in my office on Tuesday winning hearts and cheering the place up in two-year-old fashion.  She told EVERYONE about her baby brother!  The gas station attendant that was smoking near the gas pumps on Wednesday was frightening but not important enough to fight about.  I just calmly asked her to put her cigarette out – so that we didn’t BOTH blow up.  I have too much to live for!  The customer that WANTS EVERYTHING IMMEDIATELY – is going to have to wait awhile.  I’ve got a baby to hold!  The trying family members – well I hope that Noah will melt their hearts, too.  After all, he’s got super powers!

And this week even simple kindnesses seemed to appear more loving, more caring, and more God-like.  It felt like people have smiled more, were more courteous, and were generally happier.  I believe the “joy of Noah” has had a rippling effect.  The best examples of God’s enduring love are these:  

  • After Noah’s first night home, big sister Anna awoke on Thursday morning to find him in bed with Mommy and Daddy.  Of course she crawled into their bed to join them.  When finally snuggled next to her baby brother, she patted him gently and said, It alright Noah, I here, I got you now.”
  • Last night while saying bedtime prayers, which now include Noah by name, Anna stopped and announced, “My whole family is here!”   And we were blessed once again for having been there.

So I’ve had my glimpse of heaven this week with my grandson in my arms and my granddaughter playing nearby.  And I’ve got to tell you – it’s a wonderful world!

Peace,

Denis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAZqjsSZphE&feature=related

The Story of Noah

You all know the story of Noah and The Ark.  God tells Noah to collect two of every animal and put them on his boat (ark) before the Great Flood.  God saves the world with Noah’s help!  Even if you don’t believe in God, it’s a great redemption story.  A story of renewal and second chances.

Monday my daughter and son-in-law got their ‘second chance’.  Noah was born.  He is their second child.  A second chance for love.  And who knows how he will change our world – he’s already changed our family.  My guess is that he will work slowly – one heart at a time.  He is already responsible for so much happiness and he is barely aware of himself at this point.  Babies are ALWAYS about redemption and renewal – God’s way of letting us know we should keep on keepin’ on.  Noah gives me hope!

Noah looking more like Moses here

 

Noah Wilhelm Kleckner joined the world on Monday 9-20-10 with a bang!  Mommy (Bess) and Nana (Debbie) were at Bess’s regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment when Bess went into labor.  Here’s Deb’s account:

“I took Bess to the doctor for her last prenatal visit (she was going to be induced on Wednesday).  Travis stayed home with Anna because it was nap time and this was just supposed to be a routine visit.  Bess and I had lunch about 1 p.m.  She said that she had a couple of contractions earlier in the morning, but certainly nothing to get excited about.

Her appointment was at 1:45 and when we arrived we learned that Dr. Kodner had gone home sick.  So there was a longer than usual wait.  Bess had a couple of contractions and when she couldn’t talk while she was having one, we decided to start timing them.  They were 4 minutes apart for almost an hour.  So Bess went to the counter and said that she was pretty sure she had gone into labor while she was waiting.  They saw her pretty quickly after that!  They examined her and asked if she had her bag with her.  Of course she did not!  We went straight to the hospital.  I called Denis and told him to go to Bess and Travis’ house and not to goof around (as if I would – editorial comment) getting there.

We got to the hospital about 3:45.  Travis arrived a short while later.  By then Bess was telling us not to touch her or breathe on her!  She got an epidural and then life was much better.  She told Travis to go and get something to eat before things got too busy (he’s a known fainter).  The nurse broke her water about 6:15 and said she would be back in 30 minutes to check her progress.  When the nurse returned to check, she lifted the sheet and said “And…we’re…having a baby!”  It was remarkably calm and I was kind of stuck in the corner trying to stay out-of-the-way.  And just that quickly, Noah was born.

No one had planned on me being there but there was no time to leave.  I feel a little like I intruded on their very special time, but mostly I feel like I was right where God wanted me to be.  What a blessing to behold! ~ Love, Debbie”

Meanwhile big sister Anna and I were at home watching ‘Wonder Pets’ and waiting for THE CALL.  The good news came and we were summoned to the hospital where Anna would meet her little brother.

Holding my grandson Monday evening for the first time made me realize (once again) how much God has blessed us.  And I knew then that I was being given (another) second chance.

Peace,

Denis

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

Hey Little Man, welcome to the world! 
Noah Wilhelm Kleckner
Born 9-20-10 ~ 7:06PM
7 lbs. 15 oz.
19-3/4
Noah Wilhelm Kleckner

Last night before you were born I didn’t think I could love anyone as much as your sister and your cousin but then I met you and now you have my heart, too.  I can’t wait to start our journey together.

Love,

Pawpaw

Waiting (patiently?)

Our third grandchild was due yesterday.  YESTERDAY.  Apparently she or he doesn’t know that we (me?) are a very impatient family.  EVERYTHING is ready.  Bags are packed.  Exit strategies have been checked and double checked.  I’m sure our son-in-law Travis has developed a computer program that details the fastest, safest and most efficient way to travel to the hospital.  Now we just need the baby to join in the fun.

I think Bess is getting a little weary but she’s never been more beautiful and could be a model for some pregnancy magazine (if they have that sort of thing).  But still she’s ready to have her baby NOW.  Soon-to-be big sister Anna was telling me yesterday about how she plans to help with the baby by fetching diapers and singing lullabies.  She told me that babies go “wah, wah, wah, a lot” and that “they’re really little”.  So she’s prepared, too.  Travis is adorable – fretting over Bess and Anna and the ‘what, when, and why’, etc.  I love how much he loves my girls and I love him, too.

So here I am the granddad with nothing to offer.  I’m ready and patience has never been my ‘strong-suit’.  I just keep praying and thinking positive thoughts and try to be upbeat but that’s not much comfort to an overdue daughter and a nervous son-in-law.  I had a dream last night that Bess was hanging from some dangerously high beam at some construction site.  But I was able to save her!  And she was okay but she didn’t go into labor in my dream.  I guess I just need to feel like I’m serving some purpose even though this whole ‘having a baby thing’ is beyond my control.  When Bess was a little girl I could patch up a scraped knee but I’m completely useless in the baby delivery department.

Of course, there’s Nana Deb ALWAYS appearing calm in the face of uncertainty (man that bugs me!).  But I know that she’s as anxious as me and truth be known she’s getting a little antsy, too. 

One thing is for certain – Baby will arrive soon.  Dear God please grant me patience – but hurry!  Oh yeah, and help Bess and Baby, too.  Sometimes I forget that this isn’t all about me…

Peace,

Denis

Baby, Oh Baby!

Our daughter Bess is due next weekend. Seems like we’ve waited a long time for Baby Number Two – and now all of sudden it’s time! I don’t why I have to be ready but I feel like I do.  And how exactly am I supposed to ready myself?  Third grandchild.  Second child of my daughter and son-in-law.  We’ve been down this road before.  We’re experienced.  And yet this morning I was praying for Bess and Baby and I remembered how excited we were when our third child was born. 

Bess is ready!

I’ll never forget the nurse in the hospital that thought Blake was our first child because we were so happy.  And how much her surprise at finding out he was our third disturbed me.  Oh sure, there’s some stuff we thought we knew but we didn’t know him and we hadn’t ever had three children  before.  And maybe it was just a little bit scary but it was wonderful!  How could we not be excited?

Bess is ready.  Travis is ready.  The nursery is ready.  Anna is as ready as a two year old can be (her going to Nana & Pawpaw’s suitcase is packed).  All necessary preparations have been made.  We’re all prepared.  But babies have a funny way of changing the rules.  They come when they’re ready.  They sometimes come with a roar.   They sometimes come with a whimper.  But Baby will come and be loved and our lives will be filled with more joy.

I’m out of town right now and I feel a little anxious about Baby arriving while I’m gone.  As if she or he needs me to be there.  I guess it’s selfish but I want to be there and see that face and meet that little person that will change our lives and win our hearts – yes it’s been done before but not like this and not with this little individual.  God continues to bless us.  I just want to be there to give thanks.

Here’s my prayer:

All loving God,

Hear my prayer for my daughter Bess who awaits the birth of her child.  She has cooperated with you in giving life.  Assist her as she prepares to give birth to her baby.  May she be filled with your peace and blessing so that she may bring her child into this world safely and in good health.

Amen

My prayer is also that all babies could be loved as much as I know this one will be.

Peace,

Denis

Petite Chérie

My friend (and work associate) is having a baby!  Her baby is due in January – new year; new baby.  Sherry will make a wonderful mother and she’s been waiting a long time for this opportunity.  I won’t tell you her exact age; let’s just say she’s in her 40’s.  Many women would be apprehensive about starting motherhood after 40 but Sherry seems to be embracing it with all her heart and soul – mostly soul.  Her husband has four grown daughters but this is Sherry’s first child and it will be a girl, too.  She just had the ultrasound last week to confirm that she is indeed carrying ‘Petite Chérie’.  This is not going to actually be the baby’s name but it is the name that I’ve given her – Little Dear One.  What could be more fitting?  Sherry is LOVED by everyone in our office and it stands to reason that her baby girl will be loved by us all as well.  She will be our ‘Petite Chérie’. 

I love babies!  What a ingenious way for God to start people.  Yet proof again of God’s supreme plan for Creation.  If we were born as our adult selves no one be nearly as excited about it.  Congratulations – here’s your middle-aged, balding, more than-slightly overweight son.  Or here’s your pre-menopausal, daughter with ‘crows feet’ and a bad dye-job!  No thanks! 

But babies come to us pure and unspoiled.  They have ‘sweet baby smell’ and make gurgling sounds and they are completely helpless AND completely adorable.  I know why Sherry wants a baby – because babies are God’s reminder that the world deserves another chance.  ‘Petite Chérie’ will change our world (or at the very least, Sherry and Rodney’s) one heart at a time.  She will be loved and she will love and serve God and mankind.  She will be a joy to all around her because of the tremendous example she has in her parents. 

‘Petite Chérie’ means Little Dear One and that is what she will be!  I hope that I will get to see her grow up; but not too fast.  I want to relish her first steps and her first words even if it will be vicariously through Mama Sherry.  I pray that in the future she will know how much she was wanted and how patiently her mother waited for her.

I also pray that she has the same patience with her parents when someday she wants to hurry things along a bit too fast.  Be still Dear Little One your time is at hand!  You’ve been waited for so long; please let us “baby you” for awhile.

Peace,

Denis