Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time passes!

It is so hard for me to believe that this week is Thanksgiving! As I said good bye to Caitlin in August, then Brielle 2 weeks later in September, I thought it would be such a long time till I would be able to see them again! And yet- time has flown by!

Brie comes home tomorrow- just in time for Thanksgiving! Cait comes home in two weeks! I am so looking forward to throwing my arms around their necks. Don't get me wrong- having skype and being able to see their eyes and marvel at their expressions has been wonderful. But you know it's not the same!

It's not just having them home that I'm looking forward to! It's that fact that since we've been apart- so much has happened - for each of us! We're all different! They didn't just go away and be amazed by all that they saw and did. I did too! Rennie did! We've all grown and accepted challenges that we coudn't have imagined 3 months ago.

Much of my 'growth' came from my confession in my last post early in October. I will be writing more about some of that growth in the near future- but suffice it to say, I haven't written anything since then because that awareness has opened my heart, my life to a new dream that God has been planting in me! I suppose it's been there a very long time- but I had to let go of a dream- a dream I couldn't make happen anyway- that of being a pastor's wife- so that the new dream could grow. And it's growing so quickly! As if it was just waiting for me to say- ok, I'm ready!

Can't wait to tell you more about it! But for now, just know how grateful I am to feel life surging through my veins again. To see hope, in the faces of my sweet girls and my faithful husband. To know I have purpose and direction once again! It's been a long time since I've felt all three!
What a Thanksgiving we will have!

How about you? What are you grateful for today? Where do you feel life surging through your veins? I'd love to hear about it!

I'm grateful for you too! Happy Thanksgiving dear one!

Friday, October 8, 2010


It's one of those moments when you think you've got it all figured out- you're doing the right things- your 'above and beyond' what you should be doing- you are all right!

And then it comes at you- blaring in ways you imagine couldn't be any more obvious. You fall back on the chair, head in your hands, sometimes tears in your eyes and you realize yet again- you missed it.


What's really happening in your own heart- let alone in the behaviors and attitudes of the past few months- years! It's like I should have known it all along- but I didn't. I didn't want to.

Six years ago- I walked away from a role that I had always dreamed of, a position that gave me a platform to both lift the chins of people to see the face of God and empower others to use their gifts and abilities in ministry. I didn't do it perfectly- some would say I didn't do it well. But I knew in my heart- that I was there because God made me to be there. I was willing to give ALL I had to that end. When the Lord said "let it go", it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Not because of what I was walking toward, but because of the dream that led me this point. It meant letting go of THE 'dream' as I knew it to that point - the best dream I ever had. Letting go meant not having a dream- not knowing what to dream- what He had in mind. But it was very clear. Kathy, let it go!

I spent the next year pondering what God was doing in that process- and I was quite ok with it! Until it became clear that Ren was going to 'let go' of his dream too! LORD! It was one thing for me to let go of my best dream- as long as Rennie was still a pastor. Because my other dream was to be a pastor's wife. For most of my life, that's all I wanted to be. I remember our 3rd date, it was Ren's senior year of high school. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.
He looked awkward and said, "You'll laugh if I tell you!"
I said, "No I won't"(fully expecting not too!)
He replied, " I want to be a pastor!"

I did laugh! He looked at me heart struck.
I quickly responded, "I'm not laughing at you. It's just that I've always wanted to be a pastor's wife!"
Then he stopped laughing!

But now- nearly 30 years later, he's not a pastor anymore. The years since then have been such a journey! for both of us! But over the course of this time, I realized that I had built a large part of my identity on something someone else had to do. And now, no matter how bad I wanted that identity back- or how hard I tried, I couldn't MAKE it happen!

This is where the TRUTH blasted me this week.

You see- Ren has worked very hard to generate an income for our family through a small business he created called "All Things New!" It's an automotive appearance repair business and he's done a great job with it. But the more he worked on his business, the more I resisted it. The more help he needed, the more busy I became in outside things so I didn't have to help!

And in a very vivid vision this week, I realized I wanted him to fail. I wanted the business to flop so we could get back to what I wanted to be about- being a pastor's wife. That's the plain & simple of it. I hesitate to share this part of my journey here. But here it is! The ugly truth of it. I had put on my little spoiled girl shoes, dug in my heels and waited for the day I could get what I wanted.

Ugh! Rennie, I'm so sorry!

So now what?

Lord, what does this mean? I'm not sure! But I know this.
For the time being, You are growing in Rennie a new dream. It's not just about cars, but about the people he works with and for. It includes ministry- just different than we've ever known it.

Rennie, I am your wife- who loves you very much. I want to partner with you in whatever God plants in your heart to do for as long as God wills. I'm taking off my 'little spoiled girl' shoes- and I'm coming alongside you as your wife. Not an auto appearance repair man's wife!
Just you- Rennie's wife!

What's next? Lord only knows! But here's to dreaming!
I love you Ren!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Recalibrating Kingdom Moments!

This morning I didn't think I needed to stay home from church. I had every plan to go! It has been a very busy week- I've had something going everyday this week and next week is the same way. In months & years past, I would never have been able to keep up with that schedule. But recently it has felt so good to still be able to keep going - even with a busy schedule. I've been so grateful- so relieved to have some endurance. I was going to go!

But as Ren left for 1st service this morning, he yelled up at me to just stay home- to rest! I yelled back "No, I'm fine, I'll be there for 2nd service!". However, as the morning continued, I realized it wasn't my body that needed the rest- it was the rest of me! My mind and my heart needed time- time to process the many thoughts and concepts that had come into my week; time to listen to what my life was telling me! time to notice the moments when the kingdom of God was trying to break through to my world and lead me into a growing place.

Like on Tuesday, when I mentioned to Leesa at work that I was looking for an old 'farm house' table for the GREEN room upstairs. And I would need a chair for my desk too! She jumped on Craig's list and within a couple of minutes, we found a pic of a little painted table with two drop leaves that looked just the right size. It had just gone on the list that morning. So on the way home from work, I called the number and made arrangements to stop by to see it. The lady sounded so friendly, I was looking forward to the encounter.

When I drove up, the table - and one white chair to go with it- was sitting on the front lawn! The woman came out to meet me - my first thought was- Wow! She reminds me of someone! But didn't think anything more about it. We talked about the table and that they just put it up for sale today. She asked me what I wanted to do with it- so I told her. We were remodeling my daughter's room who died 4 years ago. She sighed and said, "Oh I understand- 3 years ago, our daughter's only son was killed in an accident." We had plenty to talk about at that point. Then she asked how old my daughter was- I said 15. Right away, I could tell her mind began wheeling with thoughts. Suddenly she hands came up to her cheeks in realization, and she gasped, "You're Kathy!"
My eyes got wide! 'Yes!"
She reached for me and said, "I'm Rosie!"
And just as suddenly, I realized that I did know this little woman before me!
She was Rosie, the mother of the woman who was Ren's first secretary when we moved to Ohio and he was on staff at St. John. We knew Rosie & Jack 18 years ago- their daughter, Angie wasn't at the church for very long after we came- but we knew her son, Rosie's grandson. He was pretty young then-he's just a few years older than Caitlin, so he was probably 8 or 9 when we came. But we hadn't seen any of them for a long time!

Here we stood, all these years later around a table & a chair- remembering together! grieving together! Having our souls gently massaged by the heart of another who KNOWS what it is to lose.

It was one of those moments when I sensed God taking a lot of loose ends of my life and tieing it together in his hands. I don't know what I learned from that moment- other than that He was still intimately involved with me- in my journey to furnish my special room- with a very special table! It belongs there!

There have been many other Kingdom moments this week!
Conversations with Cait about the people & places of the Bible coming alive!
or with Brie talking about 'precious moments' and loving people and loving life.
or meeting with a special group of women and hearing the 'story' of their lives as they begin to notice God's fingerprints in places they have never seen him.

or this morning, kneeling in the GREEN room before the throne of God in worship!
Ah, Lord! Thank you for the words of my husband reminding me to stop!
I SEE You!
I love you!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

To my Girls!

(Brie in Rome) (Cait in Jerusalem)

I'm so grateful for you sweet girls! I'm amazed by you! Your courage and flexibility in the worlds you live in continue to inspire me! I'm so proud of you!

It's awesome to connect with you via skype, facebook or phone and learn what adventures you've been on! And I love reading your blogs- such different places and opportunities- but your responses are so true to you, to your way of thinking and wrestling with concepts and issues. And to see how you process what God is doing in it and in you- is a gift! To you- but also to me!

I pray for you daily- sometimes, each moment. I can't help thinking about you and wondering what you are seeing and doing. But I'm most excited that God is doing a work in you that you will not forget- in a place that is unfamiliar, in a language that is not your own. I pray that you recognize those KAIROS moments daily where God is seeking to break into your world and Heaven is touching earth!

I just want you to know that your courage is part of the reason I have courage for some of my next steps. Once again, I'm learning from you how to LIVE, and be stretched and continue to learn and grow. I love you! We love you! From the middle of the corn field in Ohio to the ends of the earth!
Embrace those 'take your breath away moments! No matter where you are!"
Love, Mom

Friday, September 10, 2010

Empty Nest

This morning I'm very much aware that the nest is empty! The girls are not just away- but far away! Brie landed in Rome as I was sleeping- I haven't heard from her yet. Cait is in Jerusalem, loving all that she is doing, but longing for a safe place to be alone with her thoughts!

I feel so far from them- and yet so aware of their love and gratitude for home. It's such a gift to share this journey with them, even if it is from a distance and via Skype or a long distance call. To Rome- and Jerusalem- with love!

Monday, August 30, 2010

110 Days of Green Extended

Traditionally, as of the last 3 years- our 110 days of Green would end on August 16th- the anniversary of Leisha's homegoing! But this year is different. It feels good that this year it is still going. Since I'm not always sure what we meant by 110 days of green anyway, I'm not sure what makes it keep going - but it is.

I've written that we've been working in Lei's room all summer. It's been such a good project to do together. We felt like this was something we needed to do ourselves, as a family. It's been part of our "moving on", so to speak, in the grief department. Some things were very difficult- like putting on the first coat of primer to cover the walls she painted. Other things were challenging, such as the peg board ceiling we put up- all four of us. Our differences in communication were very obvious then. But we made it. Cait spent her last few days home running the sander on the floor. Brie helped to finish off the edges. Then Cait and I stained and varnished the floor. Soooo not perfect, but it is beautiful. We finished it the weekend of the 16th. We haven't really moved anything in. We've picked out furniture- just saving up the shekels to pay for it now. It has to be the right furniture you understand!

But part of the green that is 'keeping going' has to do with all of us! It's the 'moving on' that we are all doing now that the room is done.
  • It's Cait going to Jerusalem University this fall to begin her Master's Degree. She returns mid December. She's there and loving it! I love what she's learning and how real the stories from the Bible are becoming to her as she walks the streets built on streets of long ago. She's written on her blog some of her first impressions. You can check it out at
  • It's Brie getting ready for Rome, Italy. She leaves the 9th of Sept. It took her all summer to settle in at home, and now she'll be gone so far- her first overseas trip. She'll be there till Thanksgiving! She's been working on a blog- I'll post that later. Her excitement over her art and the art that she is studying is inspiring!
    I've added clocks for Rome and for Jerusalem on my blog so I can always know the official time for all of us.
  • It's Ren exploring some dreams both with his business and his ministry. I love watching and seeing God open his heart and life to a 'new thing'.
  • It's me- finally feeling some direction. I'm beginning a new class to become certified as a life coach- emphasis is life, relationship and bereavement. Pray for me! I know as I study, issues will stir up emotions in myself. But I sense it's time to pursue something I thought I would try 5 years ago. I guess my understanding of grief and life are much different than it was then- so I'm already a better qualified student than I would have been.
I don't know all the next steps- but I love that it's a GREEN one for all of us! I'm ok with 365 days of GREEN a year! I guess sometimes that can happen if you've had times of brown to prepare you for the next step. As hard as they are-I see their value!
Praying Green for you in your brown world! Keep paying attention! It may come very unexpectedly!

Monday, August 2, 2010

What a day!

You know that day- the one you have after you've been sick and you wake up and realize you feel better than you have for a while and everything finally has a bit of sunshine on it.

I was sick this weekend- just a cold! Ren had one the week before- I could tell he didn't feel good- but he kept going! I just can't keep going! I felt miserable! Just when I felt like something good was happening- I went down.

But as I laid in my bed this weekend, I realized I used to be down all the time. I didn't necessarily feel bad like I did this weekend- but being down was my constant. Now I got so impatient just being down a couple of days! I went to work Friday feeling so-so, and I've had three days to sleep it off. I think I'll be ok tomorrow. Oh what a good feeling that is! Lord help me not take that forgranted. I know what it feels like to be sick a long time.

I have friends who can't sleep it off- they are sick, very sick! It won't go away, it won't get better. You are still God! You are still good! But when they don't feel well- it's hard to remember that You are in the sickness too! You are there! Lord, show your healing, comforting hand to my friends. Care for them! comfort them! Show yourself to them in ways they will see You! Give them hope!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Something's happening!!!!

Since my lessons from the closet- something's happened!

The process of getting Lei's room redone- of doing some of the hard work myself- has been opening not only my heart, but my mind, body & soul to living! Since we painted the walls in Leisha's room, I've found myself stronger and more able to sustain the daily wear and tear that used to sock me in the gut and force me to lay down more than I was up. Am I getting physically stronger? It feels like it. But more than that, the stress of the mental & emotional is becoming manageable. I'm not having to take extra meds as often to control my reactions to stress. That's what you have to do when you have Addison's disease and your adrenal glands no longer take care of that for you. I'm actually able to PUSH through things that I could not do just a few months ago.

Could it all be connected with grabbing hold of a room that once belonged to my precious girl? Or is that fact that I am beginning to 'own' more than the room.

In the process of cleaning out closets, I've also addressed some issues that were cluttering my heart- my relationships. I'm finding healing in me and in my body.

But it's not just's more. It's Rennie! It's Cait and Brie!
It's finally having a dream again- all of us! It's not knowing where it will lead us yet-but it's feeling like dreaming again. Dreaming! That's hasn't happened in a long time!

I don't know what it is yet--- I just know something is happening!
I'm gonna pay close attention! It feels like hope!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lessons from a painted closet

It was an interesting classroom- this closet of mine. I laid on it's floor looking up at the 9 foot walls.

The closet is actually the one in Leisha's old room. It's about to become - not a closet- but my 'office'! I cleaned all the treasures that were still left there. Some are waiting to be put back- some made their way to the attic. Some to Good will or friends! That was a great deal of effort for me already. So now I wondering, "Must I really give it a second coat? Would anyone notice that trim peice not touched up? Do I really care that much?"

It's not a 'normal' closet! It's odd shaped- one long rectangle with a little square tacked on at the far end. When we first moved here- there was one small door by the wall, and when you walked in- there was one long pole running about 6 feet back. And behind that was what used to be a window to the original house. They had boarded it up- but with the 3 brick layers of the original house- we now had an indention that made a great bookshelf. It's just behind the clothes. So when we moved in, we opened up the wall so we could actually get to most of the clothes- painted it all white and added a closet system that allowed us to use the book shelf too- for storage. Never did add any doors though.

But now that we don't need quite as much storage with Leisha gone and the girls at school, a friend suggested we decided to turn it into a mini office. I wondered about it at first- but as the room has progressed in design, I realized I wanted to be there- not to use the room as an office, but with my desk in the closet- the room could still be all we wanted it to be- and I could enjoy it.

I painted it "Light Raffia"- tan, in other words. The book case is "Del Coronado Tequila"- don't you love the name. It's Cream, basically, with the trim in the closet white. But it works well with our green walls in the room-and it will also be the colors of the bead board ceiling in the room.

So what does all this have to do with the lessons I've learned.
Well you see, when you are painting a closet- you are tempted to cheat a little. Once you get the clothes in and the 'stuff' stored- who's gonna know you didn't do the second coat- or touched up around the trim, or even painted the ceiling. The walls are uneven- gobbled in some places by owners long before us. Who cares! It really doesn't impact anyone-

but me!

I'll know!
Especially since it's no longer just a closet but my space. I'll always see it. I'll always notice because it will haunt me every time I walk in there. I know, because I have other places in my house that continue to taunt me for attention! Why didn't I just take care of that to begin with?

My life is like that right now. I'm in the process of trying to 'clean out some closets' in my emotional life. Places where clutter has gathered; Cob webs have grown; Dust bunnys run wildly; Or perhaps rust has begun and the damage is almost irrepairable. I know I have to dig into these places of my heart because everytime I try to take a step forward, some part of my 'closet' haunts me and pulls me back into the comfort of my ache. It does seem to become comfort after a while, even though it is painful. It's what I know! It's what I've learned to live with. OUT THERE I don't know what I'll find. I don't know if I'll be hurt again! I don't know if I'll be rejected again! I don't know if I'll experience loss again. So I stay in my closet!

But not today! Today, I've begun agian the process of clearing out some of the clutter. I'm identifying where I'm angry and how it's affecting me. I'm looking at where I need to take care of me, BEFORE I take care of others- and not be selfish in doing it. I'm experiencing a freedom that comes from facing the next hard thing- and seeing God big enough to handle that too!

And that means painting the parts of the closet know one sees but me. My dad used to tell me that character was who we are when no one was watching. So when no one will know but me, Am I willing to clean & paint the parts of me that know one ever sees. Am I willing to be 'underneath it all' who I try to be on the outside?

I want to be! I want to be cleaned out and painted thoroughly. I know there's a lot of work yet to do. But the Lord is graciously, gently making me aware of the things in life that have yet to be said, to be done!

So...I'm going back in - for another coat of paint! How about you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Green Room Update

Well, it's taken 3 years, 9 months, & 14 days but the walls are painted- a perfect shade of Green!

It's been such a journey to come to the place that we could begin to claim Leisha's room for anything other than her room. But even though the walls were painted a hot pink, bright yellow and blazing orange- it began to feel like a hole- a brown hole that was that was void of the life that once blared through it.

Leisha had painted the room herself the year before she died. Though I helped her some, she was the one who really labored to get the right colors and find the right sheets that she used for curtains and her bed. And she did indeed labor to paint those walls. I was reminded of that this weekend. The walls are textured plaster. And it is hard to get in all the crevices even on the second coat. I remember that I helped her with the second coat of the different colors because she was getting discouraged at getting a good coverage. I must admit- I was cursing that hot pink for the same reason as I was trying to cover it with green this time. And I did leave just a bit of the orange showing in one wall- just because it reminded me she was there.

I was so grateful that Cait was home this school year- because she literally walked me through the process of each item- is this important to me? Do I need to keep it? Can I give it to someone else? Or just take it to Goodwill? You can imagine the tears as I touched each thing- processed its worth to Leisha- to me- and made our decision. Cait would just listen as I processed and grieved. But she kept me on task- at my speed, but on task.

Then came the task of getting the right shade of green. Kim Basinger sat and listened to us one evening and helped us find not only the right "Leisha shade" of green, but also the right feel for the room. We had to prime over the bright colors- Cait got us started- putting the paintbrush to that first wall was so tough. Then Brie got home from school and began to help us put the overall room design together.

And I started painting the GREEN. Ren helped Saturday night. I knew I couldn't do it all myself- it was just too hard! So we celebrated our 31 years of marriage by painting together. I don't think we've done that very often in our 31 years. But it was good to be together remembering.

I found myself remembering so many things-
it started out bubble gum pink as 'the girls room' - they all three had twin beds in there. Don't ask me how- but it worked then.
Then we got bunk beds - which helped, but by then Cait had moved into what used to be a play room. And of course, Brie & Leisha wanted to paint it a different color. I think it was blue, yellow,pink & green that time.
Then we moved our bedroom up to the attic- so Brie moved into our room. That's when Leisha painted it the already mentioned hot pink, yellow & orange.

I remembered tearful conversations, excited dream sessions, deep thoughts, intense debates, not just with Leisha but with all three of the girls. Sometimes I was part of the conversations- sometimes I could just hear them from the floor below. And the giggles & squeals- do girls ever stop doing that? It was all so SO BIG sometimes all I could do was listen - I couldn't begin to absorb it all for the grandeur of it! But I've pondered it many times since- especially this weekend as I painted GREEN!

We have a ways to go- putting up a new ceiling- refinishing a floor- turning the closet into my office. But phase 1, 2 & 3 are done. Not sure how many phases are left- but I think the hardest is part is over, and it's already beginning to grow new life in all it's greeness!

I love the color green!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Still thinking about our wedding!

Here it is our anniversary week & Ren and I have hardly seen each. I had a speaking engagement on Thursday evening that kept me focused and Ren's been working hard to keep everything going at work. So...we're hoping to celebrate Saturday evening somehow.

But it has kept me thinking about that day we got married and all the people that made extra efforts to be there. We lived far from the school we went to in Omaha- so it was a real effort for most of our attendents to be around for it. I know my roomie ended up being in Ecuador that week and one of Ren's best friends was on a harvesting crew and couldn't get off. That was ok! We thought of them all anyway!

But since I've heard from some of 'those' who could come- whether it was to sing or to be a groomsman or bridesmaid- I thought it would be fun to post some of those pices here too. These are all people who have meant a great deal to us- and though our paths have all gone different directions- it's great to reconnect over the years.
So here's to remembering!

This was Praise Song, the group I traveled with the year before we got married. I knew I wanted them to sing before I knew anything else.

Meet Cathy Rosentrator Wagner, Mark Ellis, me, Deanna Koehn Duerkson & Rolly Walter.

Everyone thought it looks like Mark & I are getting married- I don't know why we didn't have Ren in the picture.

And here is the wedding party, Betsy Schmidt Olsen, Tim Busenitz, Cyndy Thiessen Bergmaier (my sister) me, Ren, Devin Burrus (Ren's bro), Mindy Wimberly Putmam (Ren's cousin) & Leo Reimer. Such a fun day!
Whether you stood with us that day- or have been standing with us during the past 31 years in other ways- WE ARE MOST GRATEFUL!
Thank you for your faithful friendship- even if we have not seen you in years! We're grateful for the role you have played in our lives.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thirty ONE Years ago Today...

...and in about 2 hours- considering the time change in Texas- I married my best friend!

I say that still because I have never had a friend that has known me so completely, and still chosen to love me- over and over again!

Rennie, I'm so grateful for you! You continue to care for and listen to and work to provide a 'safe' place for me- even though I know you would rather I come with you on the next 'adventure'!
Thank you for your faithfulness to me! for your ever constant pursuit of me even when I've turned away, and for your steady love and devotion to our sweet girls!

I'm so grateful for you! And for all you are allowing God to teach you even as you keep on with what you must do!

I love you- truly I do!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

the HOPE of Results

A friend posted this a couple of weeks ago- I've been pondering it ever since. It's one of those things that say something differently than you've heard it before and suddenly you hear what he's saying - and realize it's been trying to be said to you a hundred other ways before.
You get it!
I think I am getting this! But I wanted to continue to ponder it- and perhaps have you speak into these thoughts as well. Worth reading all the way through.

Do Not Depend on the Hope of Results Extracts
from a letter by Thomas Merton

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. And there too a great deal has to be gone through, as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.
You are fed up with words, and I don't blame you. I am nauseated by them sometimes. I am also, to tell the truth, nauseated by ideals and with causes. This sounds like heresy, but I think you will understand what I mean. It is so easy to get engrossed with ideas and slogans and myths that in the end one is left holding the bag, empty, with no trace of meaning left in it. And then the temptation is to yell louder than ever in order to make the meaning be there again by magic. Going through this kind of reaction helps you to guard against this. Your system is complaining of too much verbalizing, and it is right.
The big results are not in your hands or mine, but they suddenly happen, and we can share in them; but there is no point in building our lives on this personal satisfaction, which may be denied us and which after all is not that important.
The next step in the process is for you to see that your own thinking about what you are doing is crucially important. You are probably striving to build yourself an identity in your work, out of your work and your witness. You are using it, so to speak, to protect yourself against nothingness, annihilation. That is not the right use of your work. All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God's love. Think of this more, and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it.
The great thing after all is to live, not to pour out your life in the service of a myth: and we turn the best things into myths. If you can get free from the domination of causes and just serve Christ's truth, you will be able to do more and will be less crushed by the inevitable disappointments. Because I see nothing whatever in sight but much disappointment, frustration and confusion. . . .
The real hope, then, is not in something we think we can do but in God who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see. If we can do His will, we will be helping in this process. But we will not necessarily know all about it beforehand... Enough of is at least a gesture...I will keep you in my prayers.
All the best, in Christ, Tom

From a letter written by Thomas Merton to Jim Forest dated February 21,1966. The full text of this letter is published in The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters by Thomas Merton edited by William Shannon, published by Farrar, Straus, Giroux.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cait is my GREEN today!

This is her last day at work. She's been working at the daycare here at church, so it's been such fun to have her stop by on her break or go down and watch her with the kids when I wanted to see her.
But she's taking this huge step of faith and leaving for Israel next week. She's going to be Indiana Jones(or Indiana Cait) and spend the summer at a archeological dig. Then next fall she'll be in Jerusalem studying for the semester.

I'm so excited for her! I really am! She's traveled all over the world already- Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Belgium, Ireland, Turkey, Uganda! But I'm finding myself emotional in this process. And that's as it should be! I just haven't felt it so strongly till this week. I'm sure it will only intensify by the time she leaves!

I decided a long time ago- I'd rather have my girls growing and inspired by incredible things, even if it is somewhere far away- than stuck or complacent close by. I know there are things they can be inspired by right in their own backyard- but sometimes you have to go away to see those.

Anyway, Cait- here's to you!
For the passion you have shown working with these little ones!
For the patience you have shown walking through this past year with your parents.
For the faith you have shown taking this next adventurous step.
For the grace you have shown living and loving through it all!
I'm so proud of you sweetheart!
I love you!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Remember is a verb!

I'm still pondering!

I remember
the past
people who have meant something to me
parents, siblings, mentors, teachers, music directors, advocates, heroes
or people who have hurt me
who modeled for me in someway how NOT to live
things I have done that are so fun & inspiring
or things I have done that hurt others- intentional or not.
opportunities grabbed & opportunities missed
choices made- results or consequences of those choices
promises made- promises broken
dreams fulfilled
dreams yet to find fulfillment
dreams let go of or forgotten
times when I saw God
I saw him at work
I saw him bigger
I worshiped him
I humbled myself before him
I saw him do exactly what I thought he SHOULD do
I saw him do something I thought he SHOULDN't do- He screwed up
I was disappointed in him
I was angry at him

Sometimes it's easy to remember. Sometimes it takes time of sitting and pondering a memory.
Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's painful. Sometimes is just tooooo hard. Sometimes its a waste of time. Sometimes it is healing. Sometimes it's a matter of choice!

Sometimes you have to start writing things down or start drawing it out on a lifemap and then other memories begin to peek through and pretty soon you have tons of memories and you have to stop because it's overwhelming.

Sometimes you have to be honest about what the memory truly was- how you really were impacted by it- good or bad.

Sometimes you have to place physical things in your life to help you remember; a special chair, a favorite picture, a verse on the fridge or a green stone in your pocket. Sometimes it is a place; in the car, by the fire ring, at the beach, in the woods, in her room.

I remember!
I weep!
I remember!
I sigh!
I breathe!
I recall words- of promise, of healing, of hope!
I weep!
I see Him with me!
I worship!
I remember!
I go!
I do!
I love!
I make new memories!
I remember!
I know Him bigger!
I worship!
I weep in gratitude!
I hope!
I remember!

Monday, May 17, 2010


I've been pondering this word "remember"! Definition?
To call to mind,
to think of again,
to bring back to mind by effort,
to recollect, to recall,
to keep in the memory,
to be careful not to forget,
to keep a person in mind with some feeling

to keep a person in minbd for a present, legacy ( such as 'remember' the waiter)
to mention a person to another as sending regards (remember me to your mother)
to remind

Wow! So many different aspects of remembering!
But I one thing I notice right away!
It is the phrase " bring back to mind BY EFFORT!" It takes work to remember. It stirs up emotions and generates energy that inspires or drains. It takes time to 'ponder all these things" as Mary did when Jesus was born.

And then, the question comes "What am I supposed to remember?"
I can't remember everything- so what is important to remember.

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God..." Deut. 4: 9-10

I guess this blogspot is helping me 'remember' in lot's of ways. Pardon me while I ponder on this some more! I'd love to hear what it is you are 'remembering'

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Do you know my sister?

I have sisters-

*dear friends that I have learned I can share lot's of deep hearted emotions and lot's of silly giggles with.

*a group of girls that share dreams, goals, identities in some social way.

* sisters in love that have come alongside my brothers and made them better.

But I have only one sister!

At one point in my life, I could have sworn that was all anyone could stand. My sister could stand up with the best of them, whether it was taking on her little brothers- all three of them, or me- her older and 'wiser' sister! Yeah right!

We suffered through high school together-competing at many turns- though she was strong in areas I never could be. She did things like debate and band, I did poetry interpretation and band. Ok, so in our small school, we had to be in band if we wanted any music- and we both loved music. She played the clarinet- I started there, then went to sax, then bass clarinet & oboe, even trumpet (none of which worked for me) even stepped back into the drums section to learn all the percussive instruments. She got good at clarinet- I just dabbled at all the others.

We went to the same college and even lived in the same dorm- but rarely saw each other. I was 'too' busy. I remember only a few times I would journey down to her end of the dorm and visit. I regreted that later. Not that I went to see her- but that I didn't go more often.

And then there was that time after I was married that she started a 'progressive date' at my house with 'drinks'! I was supposed to serve apple cider- very fancily! However, this crazy pitcher that I got for a wedding present didn't pour very well, and I ended up pouring 'drink' on her beautiful dress. So she spent the rest of her time at my house- washing out the stain. It didn't stop her from the rest of the evening! I always felt so awful!

Then we ended up in the same town - in Pennsylvania of all things. That's long ways from Texas or Omaha. But we had the pleasure of being together when our kids were born. I had Cait, she had Phillip, then my Brielle, then Kristen,(2 months apart to the day), then I had Leisha- and moved away. She had Matt a little later. I was done, but she had one more- Shannon!

While we lived close, one of the fun things we did together was sing. We became the sister act that sang at local clubs and luncheons. My mom in love made coordinating dresses for us and we had a Christmas program that was really fun to do. I think she mostly liked doing it with me- but lot's of times I just got her involved trying new stuff cause I didn't want to do it alone.

We both homeschooled our kids- neither of us had any intentions to do it. We shared ideas & books. I learned so much from her because she loved to learn- loved to dig into things and find out what made them tick.

This past week, my sister turned 50! She doesn't look it! In fact, in lot's of ways, she looks younger now than she has! I got to surprise her at the surprise party her husband threw for her. It was so fun! I wanted to call her a hundred times to see if I should bring this or that. I thought about her so much for those few weeks I knew something she didn't.

And I realized again how grateful I am that she is my sister! At one time I thought perhaps we might not have been friends if we hadn't have been sisters. But I realized that my closest friends are just like her. We are sisters- and we are friends. I can always count on her to show up when no one else can, to tell me what I need to hear, even when I don't want to hear it. My own daughters remind me of her so much that I often call my oldest daughter, Cyndy!

So Cy! As you experience this 50th year of your life- I just want to say, "I'm glad I've got to be part of all of them! I'm glad you are my sister. I'm proud of you and for the wife, mom and woman of God that you are! Happy Birthday, sis!"
(Cyndy with her oldest son, Phillip at his college graduation last week.)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pondering GREEN!

I've been thinking lot's about GREEN this weekend! Obviously-because of Leisha's birthday, but other reasons too!

One is that lot's of 'readers' have shared their GREEN with me since I posted! Some on the blog, others on FB, but also some this weekend at church. It was so inspiring to have people walk up to me and say- I saw my child, in my front yard, in my relationship with an old friend, in ... so life giving to hear all the spottings of GREEN! I love it! and I know other's are benefiting too! For some- it comes at a crucial time when they can't see GREEN at all. It's all brown. They need the reminders of those who can see it now. So...Keep it coming!

The other GREEN pondering has come because we're finally ready to do something special with Leisha's room. It's been so hard to 'own' any changes. She had just painted it, all by herself mostly, shortly before she died. It's got two walls of bright yellow, one hot pink and one bright orange. It's got bright Polka dotted (bedsheet) curtains too, as well as, a carpet that needs to be replaced or removed because of a great wood floor underneath. But it's not 'right' without her in it- so we want to claim the room again in a way.

So, we've decided we want to paint it GREEN! Naturally!

We just can't decide what "SHADE" of green! Do you know how many GREENS are out there? And, in light of all the emotions connected with it, we can't just do something- it has to be the RIGHT thing!

We also really had not been able to decide what the 'purpose' of the room was?
It's not really a bedroom, though we could put in a large air mattress for guests.
It's not really a library- though we have books in every room in this house.
So what is it now?

I got to thinking about what a 'GREEN ROOM" is! You know that room in a theater or studio that functions as a break/ touch up lounge so that performers don't have to go back to the wardrobe/ dressing rooms and are still easily accessible for their 'call'!

I realized- that's what I want this room to be. A place where we 'the perfomers of life' can go for a break or touch up so that we're easily accessible to for our 'next call'. A place of rest, refreshment, calm, inspiration, HOPE! A place of Shalom!

Our pastor modeled the idea for me by turning his office into a SHALOM for those of us in the office. We meet on Tuesday mornings in the SHALOM and share life, share the wonders of God and the Brown places it shows itself. It's been life giving- I think, for all of us!

I long for this room to be a place where we can take time to NOTICE the GREEN that is happening. I don't know what that looks like yet, but I'm looking forward to it being a place of HOPE.

I hope you have a place to go- where you NOTICE the GREEN, worship the God who is growing it and find SHALOM! If not, I've got this huge paint chip book you can look at!! I'm sure they've got your color somewhere!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Today is Leisha's birthday! April 28th

I remember this day like I do the births of my other two girls- I usually begin with when the first labor pains began. Cait & Brie will say, "ok mom, what time was it when...? as if to humor my need to remember it all. But Leisha would settle in next to me and ask, "and then what did I do?"

She was born on a Sunday! It just happened to be THE Sunday that our church was dedicating a brand new sanctuary. Rennie was overseeing all the music and helping with the child dedication at the end of the service. But 45 minutes before the service began, I had to call him to tell him it was time. I couldn't wait at home anymore. And just as the church family witnessed parents dedicating their child to the Lord, Leisha made her way into our family.

It was 12:16pm! April 28, 1991.

I miss so much being able to share the story with Leisha today! I talk to her all the time- I don't know if that means I'm crazy or not, but I talk to her a lot. I just wish so much she could talk to me, in her inquisitive, sometimes demanding way. I miss those talks! I miss her dreams and her consternations. I miss her ramblings of the goings on of all her friends and her ideas of fun things they could do together.

I remember the day she came bounding in to the kitchen after a worship team rehearsal and squealed, "Mom, do you know what GREEN means! My favorite color means my favorite word! HOPE! GREEN means HOPE!"

As I ponder today, I affirm that no matter how painful her death has been and continues to be, I wouldn't give up her birth, her energy, her love for life & people, her struggle for faith & purpose, her passion for GREEN-and the hope that it represents.

I'm different because she was in my life- I'm better! Both in the miracle of her birth and the anquish of her death, I have seen God bigger and more able than I ever knew Him to be before. I understand HOPE in a way that was only hopeful thinking before.

I feel the new life of Spring with more vitality and freshness than I've ever known.

And each Spring since she died, I experience more LIFE & more HOPE.

Two years ago, on her birthday, we declared,- well, ok, I declared and the others are cooperating- 110 DAYS of GREEN! From Leisha's birthday till the anniversary of her homegoing is 110 days. So during these days, we look for all the GREEN, new life, growing hope things we can find. It's not that we don't look for those things all year round. But instead of dreading the upcoming anniversary of her death, I choose to look for the things that inspire LIFE, that empower HOPE.

I'd love for you to join us in our journey, our 110 days of GREEN! God doesn't waste anything- so LIVE with eyes wide open and see what it is God is doing in your world! Join us- Seeing GREEN HOPE in a brown world!

Happy Birthday Lei! I love you still!

Friday, April 23, 2010

the Heart of a Friend

Today, I visited with a friend- we see each other quite often, but today was different somehow. Today, we had a little more freedom to talk, to share 'deeper things' -things that don't come to the surface very often because they stir up all kinds of emotions. It's not always easy to share those kinds of things- mostly because we just don't want to - or don't know how to deal with those emotions once they begin to bleed through. So...we keep talking about the things that don't go deep- that don't hurt much.

But today we went deeper, one question inspired another; one confession admitted there were more. It started with one conflict in a relationship, only to reveal years of hurt & pain and great sadness. As we spoke, I realized that the words I was saying to my friend, to encourage her heart- to challenge her next steps were really the words I needed to have a friend speak to me. Buried under years of effort and 'positivity' were aches and sorrows that I longed to be honest about with someone, but afraid to admit.

What if they don't like me if they really know who I am?
What if I can't ever 'get it together'?
I'm afraid to try for fear of finding out I am a failure!

It takes time to make that kind of friends that will stick with you. It takes sharing life together on a frequent basis. It takes work to learn to put up with someone's differences while cherishing their strengths. But as I watched her tears fall for want of that kind of relationship- I knew we were not so different. And I know we're not the only ones.

I want what she wants- it may take a different shape- but it's intimacy with someone who will still love me tomorrow! Lord, help me be that kind of friend for her!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today's my birthday!

It's hard to fathom another year has gone by- I'm another year older- my life is one year less! Six weeks ago, I heard of a woman who had just been given 5 weeks to live. I was struck by such a brief amount of time. I wondered for days what I would want to do if I was told I only had 5 weeks left to live. Who would I want to be with? What things would I want to accomplish or what words would I want to say and to whom?

I never really came up good answers for all of it. I knew that I would want Ren and the girls with me to touch, to hold, to say I love them. I would call my parents & siblings and some dear friends and remind them that I love them too and how grateful I am that they have been in my life.

But I couldn't really come up with things I wanted to do yet. A bucket list didn't seem that important. With all those dear people around me- there really is little else I would want to do. The rest just doesn't matter. I wouldn't want to finish 'uncluttering' my home as I wrote about yesterday. I wouldn't want to complete my spring wardrobe or create a perfect front garden. I wouldn't care if I ever visited Rome or Israel, unless my girls were there. I wouldn't care if I wrote another message or even a book. I might write here again- but only because I would want to say something to you- the reader who cared enough about me to read what I would write in my last days.

Here I am 6 weeks later. The woman who had 5 weeks has already gone on to be with the Lord. I'm still here! To live, to love, to laugh with all those precious people God has placed in my life. I celebrate that you are in my life! I'm so grateful! Thank you for allowing God to use your gifts and abilities to strengthen and empower mine! You are such a gift! It's you I celebrate today!

Monday, April 19, 2010

a Space in my basement

Who would have thought that just knowing there is an empty place in my basement would be good for my soul?

I spent most of Saturday sitting in my garage sale booth among belongings that I haven't used for a while. We have spent the past year uncluttering our home. I say WE because it has been a process that my oldest daughter has been helping me do in between her college and Master's degrees. She's had her hands full helping me to let go of things that hold special memories for me. She's been extremely patient, listening to lot's of stories and providing kleenex and a shoulder to cry on as many emotions come spilling out.

In the last 7 years or so, I've done very little uncluttering. Part of the reason was I was just too tired. My health had taken a turn and it was all I could do to live life with some zest.

But the main reason was that as life had happened, all these "things" became my scrapbook of memories; when times were better, when the girls were young. One of those items was my old dining room table. We haven't used it for several years. But I have vivid memories of the girls doing school at the dining table, enjoying a tea party at the end of our first week of school, or celebrating a birthday with family & friends. I had moved that table from my dining room, to the attic, to the basement. But now it was time to move it out completely and find someone else who could make memories there.

As I sat next to it, and appreciated it's vintage beauty, even though it needed a great deal of attention by now, I relived all those memories. And I committed to take it back home and fix it up myself. Maybe we could find another way to use it...

And then she came- a woman walked in the front door straight to me- and my table with purpose. In minutes, she made an offer and it was hers! She saw it's potential and that someone else would want it too. Her husband, who had to leave his other job due to parkinson's and a heart condition, was refinishing furniture and finding homes for them for their income now. I was thrilled!

As I came home and walked in my front door, I couldn't see the place where the table had been. But I knew there was a bit more free space in our home where we could live with more freedom. In the mean time, I cherished once again the memories that I will always have with me! And I somehow felt stronger! I had faced my fear of letting go- and found healing! A place for green to thrive! I knew that this was a good thing in my home, and in my heart!

Now- I've got this great old desk....!