Catching Up

Here we are, four months from my last post…I think it’s time to try to keep this up regularly again. First, to try to bring you all up to date on the major happenings in our lives:

On February 15, Stephen was ordained to the priesthood by our diocese’s beloved new bishop, Vince.


It was a wonderful, exhausting trip. Sorry I didn’t get any pictures of the ordination; I was too busy cleaning up the baby and myself after she deposited a lake of poop in my lap. Yup. I missed both Stephen’s diaconal and priestly ordinations. Could be worse, right?


On the way back, we stopped and visited Stephen’s Grandma T. Maria loved getting to meet her!

Later in February, we went up to interview at St Dunstan’s in St Louis Park, MN. We jokingly called the Twin Cities Metrocity (a la Megamind), as we had previously driven through it during rush hour at the end of a long day, but to our surprise, we found ourselves falling in love, not just with the parish, but with the metro area itself.


Early in March, Stephen was extended a call to serve as rector of St Dunstan’s, which he accepted. Thus began the craziness of realizing how much stuff we actually HAD taken out of boxes during our months of receiving the wonderful blessing of Stephen’s parents’ generous hospitality, as well as how much stuff we had yet to go through from Stephen’s pre-seminary days.

My mom, my sister Hailie, and my brother Freeman all came for a visit; Mama and Hailie were on their way to visit my beautiful new niece in the South, and Freeman was on Spring Break.



We tried to go sledding.  On cardboard.  On a warm day.  It didn’t work.  Oh well, made for cute snowbaby pictures.



April met us with Holy Week, and a beautiful and busy Holy Week it was.  In addition to daily morning prayer in the Hillsdale chapel, we held the special services for each day.  Then Stephen also delivered the homily on Easter Sunday.


We took the train up to Minneapolis to look for housing one weekend in April. We were blessed to find a sweet apartment fairly close to the church.


Maria discovered that she loves swinging.

We made one more trip to visit Stephen’s grandma while we were still in the area.




By the way, our baby is cute AND crazy.




Fun times with Grandma H


Don’t her sparkle eyes just melt you?


And then she turned seven months.  She was actually really cranky when I took this picture, but she was going through a phase where she would never let the camera see her be cranky.


Meet Maria’s security blanket.  No matter the problem, usually all it takes is the tube of teething gel in her hand, and all her troubles melt away.

Thanks to the enormous help of Stephen’s parents, we had a very smooth move.  Our apartment was grubby and needed a ton of scrubbing when we arrived, but things went pretty smoothly.  It was a rough week for Maria, but there were some bright spots, too.


She loves her crib! She’s used it to practice the arts of standing, climbing down, and cruising.


Sleep, quiet,and snuggles have been a major part of making this transition relatively sane.


Early morning goodbyes


Maria decided the next week that life was not good unless she was standing.

While we were still in the midst of moving in, we took a trip down to Nashotah for commencement.


Our annual do-I-have-to-stand-next-to-you picture



Are we done yet?

Glad as we were to rejoice with friends as they completed this chapter of their lives, we were so grateful to get home and unpack some more.


Oops. This one was at Nashotah. Out of order.


Maria made sure we didn’t leave any books in the boxes.


All clear, Mommy!


Maria was more interested in Daddy’s cross than in his party hat.


She decided crawling can be fun after all. Sometimes. When there’s nothing close at hand to pull up on or get into.


Well, don’t YOU inspect your sweet potatoes with a comb?


Mother, I’m perfectly safe. Stop fluttering about me and go get something done.

On Saturday, we took a trip to the basilica, which is incredibly gorgeous. We didn’t stay too long, because preparations for a wedding were underway.



Look, Ma, no hands!

On Sunday, we picked up a desk and a kitchen cabinet at Ikea.


Stephen put together his desk right away. I haven’t finished the cabinet yet.


She found a happy corner where she entertained herself for the longest time.

On Tuesday, we flew down to Colorado for diocesan synod, where Stephen was incardinated into our new home diocese. Maria quite enjoyed the flight this time.



This is the view from our room’s balcony. I’ve missed the mountains so much!

And so now you’re pretty much caught up! We still don’t have internet at home, but once we do, maybe I’ll be a little more faithful at keeping this up!


A New Year

P1010973Much has happened since the last update.  Hannah and I decided to settle in Hillsdale, Michigan for the time being until our way forward in ministry becomes more clear.  God has been teaching us a good deal about the truth, joy, and sorrow of his promise to the ancient clergy of Israel in Deuteronomy 18.  I am presently working as a clerk at a local business, Broad Street Downtown Market.  Sometimes I’m asked what my hobby is these days, and I generally answer ‘Finding church work as a clergyman.’  Pray for us as we seek to walk faithfully before God as his chosen Levites.

P1020006P1020015A cause of great joy for us was given this past October with the birth of our daughter Maria Grace.  She will be three months come the 12th.  I had the great honour and joy to baptize Maria a week ago on the 28th of December, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, at the Chapel of Saint Mary the Virgin, Nashotah House.  Her godparents Dcn. and Mrs. Aaron Prosser and Miss Hilary Tucker were all present.  In fact, Hilary was able to stay with us for a week and celebrate the majority of Christmastide and the arrival of the New Year.

Back in November we traveled to Knoxville, Tennesee to visit with Hannah’s family for Thanksgiving.  As most of the Tuckers are dispersed across the lower-48 and New Zealand, a couple families were absent and sorely missed, but as it was, we had 24 people gathered at Tim and Heidi Enloe’s house and a merry time was had by all.  Maria got to meet many of her cousins, aunts, uncles, and her other two grandparents.  It was also really good for Hannah and I to spend some time with our two goddaughters.  It is amazing how quickly they are growing.

As Epiphany looms closer and our minds turn toward contemplating the Visit of the Magi, I often think about the very unstable nature of life for the Holy Family for those first few years of our Lord’s life.  Born in Bethlehem away from where his parents called home, fleeing into Egypt after the Magi visited them, and then returning to live in Nazareth of Galilee because Archelaus, the brutal successor to the cruel Herod “the Great”, had become Ethnarch of Judah.  It’s too easy to have the sentimental picture of the Holy Family, Mary and Joseph adoring the Christ Child in the comfort of the stable or the house they later lived in.  If Caryl Houselander’s book “The Reed of God” has reminded me of anything, it’s that the life of our Lady and the Holy Family was anything but comfortable.  There is always an Advent before Christmastide, always preparation, emptying, and waiting before God brings his plans to fruition.  And even then, those plans will likely not be so comfortable.  That’s one of the reasons I enjoy having the reminder of the three feasts following Christmas Day: Saint Stephen the Martyr, Saint John the Evangelist, and the Holy Innocents.  We remember death, persecution, and a massacre in the midst of our Christmas joy.  We proclaim with the angelic hosts ‘Peace on earth, goodwill toward men,’ but it is the peace of God, ‘not as the world gives.’  God’s peace is a dangerous sort of peace.  It’s not the friendly handshake at Church or even the more affectionate kiss on the cheek.  God’s peace is the grace to hope in the midst of sorrow, to believe when everything looks bleak, to love when it feels like there is nothing but hate and bitterness in your heart.  God’s peace doesn’t lessen the trials, but it does give you the fortitude you lack to endure them.

With that, I leave you with the best wishes of the Hilgendorf clan for a merry Christmas and a happy Epiphany.

May the Holy Family pray for us all.  Jesu, mercy!

Easter Break


After all the craziness of term, pregnancy, job-searching, and all the myriad little things that pile up, it was wonderful to have this last week off.  We had a visit from Stephen’s parents, and loved spending time with them!  How lovely to have time to visit, relax, and just be together!

From Mom's CameraThey brought me a birthday cake, so we celebrated a few days early, candles, singing, and all!

Today, since we had the day off, we visited St. Sava’s for their beautiful Divine Liturgy in Church Slavonic. Baby loved it so much that after the Epiclesis, I felt movement for the first time!  The church was absolutely gorgeous, but I didn’t take pictures, as I’ll have plenty of chance for that this Friday during the church tour.

After we took our picnic lunch to Starbucks (and shared a drink so that no-one would be grumpy that we were eating in there rather than outside in the cold and wind), we went to Marquette to look at Church of the Gesu, which was astoundingly gorgeous.


The windows were lovely.  I loved the realistic beauty combined with the incredible colours (that our camera really didn’t do justice to).

P1000529The Stations were quite elaborate.


As were the marble pillars.


The presentation


The boy Jesus in the temple


Organ loft


I would imagine that this is Jesus meeting his cousin John – never seen a depiction of that before!


Then we walked over to the Joan of Arc chapel.  I happened to look out the window, and was suddenly blind to all the things around me (most of which was 18th century or older).  This is what I saw:


And then I figured I’d better get a couple of pictures of the chapel, just to be on the safe side.


After even such a short walk, I had to use the toilet.  Again.  So we headed back to the church.  While Stephen was using the facilities before we headed home, I goofed off in front of the mirror (which was apparently just for brides).  Naturally, I had to admire my new blouse and flip flops that I got on Friday (thanks to Dad and Mom H!).


When Stephen got out, he looked at my hands and asked where his hat was.  “Find it,” I said helpfully.  He began rummaging in my purse, and I laughed.   And laughed.  And laughed.  And then he found it.

The end.

Pilgrimage to Grafton’s Tomb

Thanks to an internet outage and crazy hectic schedules, I’m only just now uploading pictures from our pilgrimage to St. Paul’s Cathedral in Fond du Lac way back on March 12.  I took a kazillion pictures simply because it’s an amazing place, but I won’t subject you to all of them here and now.  We had a couple of wonderful tour guides that were able to tell us quite a lot about the history of the place.  After the tour was over, we all roamed around and studied various things that caught our interest, reassembling at noon for mass in a small side chapel.  The drive there and back was lovely; even though it was chilly, there were many places that had less snow than we had at home at that point, and the rural farm areas are something I love to see/drive through.  It was a huge blessing to be a part of the small group from the House that traveled together on this refreshing trek.

P1000355The baptismal font

P1000365St. Margaret defeats the devil.  On a side note, the dragon’s tongue is removable, and underneath it was a good place to sneak in love notes from the outside when St. Margaret resided in a girls’ school.

P1000362This is one of thirteen gorgeously detailed wooden statues that were imported from Germany in the 19th century.  There are six on each side of the nave, being the twelve apostles.  This one, St. Paul, resides in the back of the nave.

P1000354The windows in the nave depict scenes from the life and ministry of St. Paul.  Here he is putting his hands on St. Timothy, as spoken of in 2 Timothy 1:6.

P1000352Close to the ceiling, there are gorgeous paintings capturing different moments from Christ’s life.  Unfortunately, they are just in such a position that it was difficult to make out all the wonderful details, which is where a decent camera and a zoom option came in handy. 🙂

P1000351These angels were purchased with the 13 statues; they were all originally this honey colour, but the statues darkened when they were sent out to be cleaned.

P1000308Bl. Bp. Grafton’s tomb


P1000307The preaching pulpit

P1000313The golden-tongued preacher

P1000368Oh. By the way.  Even though it was scarcely above freezing (if at all), I went barefoot, because Fr. Koehler dared me to, and, well, I’ll take pretty much any excuse to go barefoot.

P1000318The organ was huge.  If I remember rightly, 2,000+ pipes.


P1000331Mary Magdalene: showing Bollywood actresses how it should be done for two millennia.

P1000349The angel of death

P1000334The details on all the woodwork were so incredible.



P1000297Okay, so this was just incredible.  In a side chapel, a painted/enameled marble altar frontal.  Apparently there has only been one artist able to successfully use this technique, and only three of these frontals existing in the States.





Rearranging, Sunlight, and Textures

Can you believe January is gone already? It was a busy month for us, yet in many ways, more relaxed.  Stephen didn’t have classes, so we had time for a visit to his family in Hillsdale, as well as catching up on household things.  This last week, in anticipation of Candlemas, we took down our Christmas decorations and rearranged the living room.  Since it’s sunshiny this morning, you get pictures of said living room.

P1000254I love how much sunlight our big windows let in!

P1000256We took down the big, somewhat dreary painting from over the couch and put a family collage there instead, with a collection of woodcuttings featuring the lives of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Son to the west and a poster celebrating a millennium of Christianity in Russia to the east, where a (rather boring and tacky) poster advertising Nashotah House had formerly hung.

P1000255We had had our Advent wreath, a couple of icons, and some decorative snowflakes on this little side table, but we moved the icon to the hall where the my collage had hung before, and of course put the Advent/Christmas stuff in its box, so we moved out the candles that we sometimes have lit at dinnertime to fill up the empty space.  And I just realised, this must sound rather boring to y’all.  Sorry.  I only have a few pictures left.

P1000262I switched out the Christmas tablerunner for the summer one.  I could’ve gone to the spring one, but this one makes up for the lack of geraniums in our house, seeing as it features geraniums on the pink print.  I’m looking forward to planting some geraniums in a pot this spring with seeds that Hilary brought me from her plants at Christmas!

P1000260So.  I’m a sucker for textures and colors.  I’m loving this new stitch pattern I made up for a baby afghan I’m designing.  It’s horizontally striped, but because of the surface v stitches, it looks vertically striped.  Which is tricky.  And I love being tricky.

P1000261Also, it’s soft.  Super duper soft.  I’m looking forward to sharing more pictures of this fun design with you in a few weeks, when it will be bigger and have another color.  🙂

Christmas Visit

As Stephen mentioned, we got to have Fred and Hilary for a visit during the first bit of Christmas. While they were here, Hilary, Fred, and I put together a few puzzles (which is one of our favourite Christmas customs), while Stephen finally got to get in some reading he’d been wanting to do, since he’s not old enough for puzzles yet.


Of course, one of the great things about getting together with my family is that we tend to make good food, and lots of it. On Friday, we made a Super Pizza to eat while we watched Les Miserables (because it is important to ensure that everyone present has seen as many of the Right Movies as possible, right? To this end, we watched various other things together, like Bolt, Planes, Despicable Me, Megamind, the video of our rehearsal and wedding, and a few episodes of Middleman).


On Saturday, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, we all went to Ben and Carrie’s wedding together, which was beautiful. We also wore coordinating clothes, and our friend Sarah Kidd took some lovely pictures to prove it.


On Sunday, Hilary and Fred joined us in the choir at All Saints’ Cathedral, then we spent the afternoon with our friends, the Kidds, caroling at a nursing home. We came home to have breakfast for dinner, which Hilary made her amazing doughnuts for.


On New Year’s Eve, we had a floor party with our neighbours, the MacMillans, and a few other friends. Fred grilled eight pounds of London Broil (a good deal of which is now in our freezer, to be used throughout the next few months), Hilary made an eight-layer dip, and Fred put up more of our Christmas lights for us.


January 1 (Feast of the Circumcision of Christ) was Fred’s last day here, so it was pretty busy. Hilary and Fred went sledding, something they hadn’t had the opportunity to do in years.


Then we settled in for a good game of Catan.


Hilary stayed on a couple days longer than Fred did, and we had lots more fun playing games, making goodies, and putting together puzzles. We were sad to see both of them go, but we did have a very good visit with them.

The house is rather quiet now that it’s just the two of us again, but we’re busy getting caught up on various tasks that we’ve gotten behind in and taking up new ones that need accomplished this month.

I hope you all are having a marvellous Christmas!