Thursday, January 08, 2009

As you are reading this I am off for my annual 4 day Silent Retreat with the wonderful Jesuits over at Montserrat. You can imagine there is no coincidence why I would chose this weekend every year to offer up my holy silence to Our Loving God, the Father of All Mercies, and HIS SON, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I continue to thank you from the fullness of my heart for how you have taken me and the boys into your hearts, families, rosaries, and for the HOPE beads you offer up for the Vinzant family.

Please be assured that you and your family and your intentions will be offered up in my Holy Hours especially these next 4 days.

And because so many of you know me only since 2000 or less with our arrival on the Dallas scene, I must give you some sweet remembrances, so that in your hearts and minds eye she will be real to you too. I give you updates on me and the boys when I share our holy days, our new recipes and such. She is the best part of who we are as a family--in our loss, our hopes, our dreams, who we are, and who we strive to be. The boys call her Sis--always have, and till refer to her today the same as if she were in the same room with us, Sis this, Sis we pray our mass today and light our candles, please come a little inside our hearts. With all the people I know, with all the family I have left-- do not think there are more than 3 people who really know me. My regret is that Sarah Ruth knows me now so much better, than she did when she was here face to face. She has the benefit of so much more true knowledge--seeing things more and more the way those in the Arms of God can see and know things. I hear her laughter more and more these days as through her prayers I see the fleeting parts of my life, my defects, my failures, an my lack as temporary and transitory--and as through her prayers of HOPE I catch glimpses of that which is really TRUE,Eternal, and Worthy.

And for those of you who have children now older than the magical age of 3-4,even though in this Valley of Tears, these last 8 years, although she is more real to me then you could ever understand, in my head, in my heart, in my thoughts, in my conversations, in my laughter--in these "conversations" of LOVE we now have, she has never once argued with me. And now, because I am more comfortable in sharing my heart with you then ever before--here are a few snippets of our Sis, Sissy, Ruthie, Ruby,Sandra Sue, Lovey, Sara, Baby Doll, Sister--Sarah Ruth Leigh Vinzant.

When she was less than 3 and still riding in the child seat in the back--she and I were off on a specific errand and it took us past all the Mall shops. We were listening to music and I heard Sarah Ruth speak up, "Daddy I am hungry." We were in our early, poor as church mice working on my Seminary Graduate degree days and while I was contemplating the money situation, SR piped up with the sweetest, gentle question, "Daddy, do we have money today?" and as I shook my head no, she said with definitiveness, "Daddy, then I am not hungry anymore."

I went to school Tuesday through Thursday and had time off on Monday and Friday, so we would pack up and go out to a lovely, old cemetery in the country that had a lot of empty acreage filled with old Oak trees where she would play on the low hanging limbs while I said my daily prayers. Then she would line up her dolls and animals and she would play hair dresser--Sandra Sue. Often on trips to see the in-laws, Jan would drive and I would lean the passenger seat back and SR would work on my hair for the trip asking Bible questions all the way. If she was not asking questions, she would fill the car with song. I still have never seen a Veggie Tale show because we did not have TV at the time,but know the songs as Sarah Ruth had her two favorites from watching them at friends ---"I'm so blue, I'm so blue, I'm so blue,ue,ue, ue ue, blue.... and, I love my hairbrush, I love my hairbrush....."

We had visitors through our house all the time in those days. SR was the great delight of all our adult visitors, and one time this dear lady in her early 60's
was visiting with her 84 year old retired professor father. He had the beautiful unkempt, white hair of an academic and a full white beard. We left him in the recliner to his daily nap, toured the house, and came back to find SR aka Sandra Sue, giving Mr. Floyd a haircut with real scissors. In due time she also gave her little brother a haircut, and then finished her early budding carrier by giving herself a haircut that did not go well with her Mom's first inspection.

From earliest life, Sarah Ruth was fearless in sharing her faith. We were walking the mall before she was 4 years old towards the end on an evening and there were a few walkers, not a lot of shoppers, and Mall Security--an off duty policeman. Suddenly I heard a little voice say, "Why do you smoke? You should not smoke." only to look over to the policeman with his lit cigarette--and before I could quite her she was in for the kill, "Do you want to be like Jesus? Did Jesus smoke? No, then you should want to be more like Jesus and not smoke." I just knew I was going to get creamed, when we watched the policeman put out his cigarette, get down and thank Sarah Ruth face to face, and then stand and tell Dad, to not be ashamed when his kids shared their beliefs with others. And then he spoke of wanting to return to the Church of his youth. Years later, I stood with amazement and great admiration as Sarah Ruth begin her carrier going inside abortion centers pretending to be a client in crisis--going into the facilities and leaving brochures, putting them in magazines, handing them out quietly to others waiting, and then standing to her feet, screaming "you mean you kill the babies, you want to kill these babies..." until she was arm-handled outside, screaming all the way, "please do not let them kill your babies."

From the time she was 15-19 Sarah Ruth traveled with me to pro-life events far and wide, and never tired of doing her part to save babies. She was part of pro-life prayer sessions, walk-ins to confront clinic workers the girls in the waiting rooms,Sidewalk counseling, and a pro-life Drama group. She was very involved in a National campaign to convince American Express to stop giving direct grants to Planned Parenthood. She gave talks and wrote papers on the virtues of St. Athanasius in fighting Infanticide in the 4Th Century. She would stand toe to toe to the locked arms of the Little Rock SWAT team on the sidewalk and walk hours in prayer vigils and walks singing the haunting refrain,"Turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, turn the hearts of the children to their parents, turn the hearts of us all to one another, turn the hearts of us all to the Lord--hear their cry, won't someone save the children, hear their cry,oh Christian,please, don't let them die..."

My friend, Miss Norma made a prayer Garden in her back yard, and dedicated it to Sarah Ruth and another pro-life hero who left us too soon. She says those children taken from their mothers womb before birth--in the Arms of God--cry out and speak up for those who cared,who showed up, who prayed, who wept, who tried--on their behalf. I believe that. And I believe that though my missing her and my longing for her has not diminished these eight years, that in the Arms of God she is a strong advocate to pray for us for the rest of my life, even as I spend my life living better, believing stronger, loving deeper--in prayer, teaching, reparation,and Hoping that in the hour of my death she, and those voices that cry out, and the Holy Family will all speak out on my behalf.

In her death, Sarah Ruth taught me to grab hold of HOPE. Women of faith came to me after the funeral to say that Sarah Ruth would ask them for their HOPE bead when they prayed their Rosary. I had never thought of such a thing, but asking those I meet and connect with has been the strength of my heart these many years and I find from these prayers my greatest single comfort. If you have not yet dedicated yours for the Vinzant family--those in the Arms of God, those not yet reconciled with the Church, and those still here pressing on to stumble heavenward--please pray for us.

I heard from the young man who was one of Sarah Ruth's longest friends--they had their first date with each other, the went through home-school Coop and Music together and his family and ours have been close since our Andrew 25 was five months old. He dropped a line today reminding me that she is not forgotten and I am grateful. Now more and more, I want to share my missed opportunities to love her in the normal triumphs and trials of life-by loving His people deeper and deeper in the LOVE of Jesus. This is what we all must do as we draw deeply from the Wells of Love. Every day I hear of your heartaches and struggles with children you still have on this side of the Vail. Many I know and hear of bear much greater sadness and burden then I could ever imagine--burden that would surely make this grown man cry--you and yours are in my prayers. I do believe that we shall see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living while we yet live--wait I say upon the Lord and let your heart take courage--HE is Good and doth Good.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

This is one of the hymns of my youth--we Sing Truth, sometimes with smiles and sometimes through many tears--and at my local church in Coppell we sing the same truth, month after month---lest I forget the Cross--

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name

When the sun's shining down on me When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away You give and take away
My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be Your name

Your friend,

Daniel and the boys,
January 8, 2009

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