Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Leisha's HOPE Update

We are rejoicing!

It has been thrilling to see monies come in for the
Leisha's HOPE project-
and even more to see the interest that is growing for the
DEEP WOODS project.

Without knowing of our desire to build the HOPE cabin, another donor chose to take on the FAITH cabin which is actually being built this fall already.  It is the bigger of the 4 cabins, so it will soon be ready and available for families or larger groups to use.  Not sure yet of the furnishings, but I'm sure it will be very nice.

I wanted to update you- and encourage you to join in - not just for Leisha's HOPE, but for the place of healing & hope that the DEEP WOODS has been and will be to many.  

Last week, as I was praying for my family and the cares and concerns of those in my world, I had a vision of Leisha.  She greeted me gently with a twirl of her fingers,  then she slide to the ground with her legs crossed in front of her,  turned her head, much like the picture to the left and began to blow a dandelion.  I held in my hand a dandelion I had picked up earlier on my walk. I had tried to blow out the seedlings, but they refused to budge.  Now I lifted it again, and the fuzz began to blow out freely in front of me.

You know, I'm not prone to have 'visions' - but this was very clear to me.  I know that this was a reminder to keep on influencing others to find hope.   It is our family's heart's desire to offer that safe place of HOPE to many others who find themselves in desperate places! You have been part of loving Leisha and loving us in our journey toward healing. We wanted to give you an opportunity to join us as we seek to provide another avenue of HOPE for others.

Join us by being part of funding, constructing and furnishing the HOPE Cabin in DEEP WOODS as part of Leisha’s HOPE. The cost of constructing the HOPE Cabin, which is 12’ x 16’, will run about $8,000. Projected costs for furnishing that space with a small desk & chair, a rocker and lamp table, as well as, a small bed is $700.

 As funds are available, a chapel with restroom facilities and electricity will be added to the DEEP WOODS space, but currently we use lanterns and a very well cared for outhouse when the church facilities are closed.  More information of DEEP WOODS is available. Feel free to email or call if you have questions or for a brochure. (You might also check out the August 12 blog) 

Donations can be made directly to Crossroads Church, 775 S Thayer Road, Lima, Ohio 45806 earmarked as DEEP WOODS/ Leisha’s HOPE.  It is our desire to have all the funds raised by January 30, 2012 so that supplies can be purchased and building can begin early spring.

Pucker up your lips and blow- you have the opportunity to be the influence of hope in someone's life today! Just keep your eyes open so you can see the people that come into your life.

Seeing Green!
Kathy, for Rennie, Caitlin, Brielle and Leisha!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Learning to Walk---Again!

So...I recently made a $5 purchase which has given me a 10,000 step challenge. I'm having a difficult time 'stepping up'!

You see I bought this bright blue 'fits in the palm of my hand' tool that I strap on to my pocket every morning called a pedometer. It's purpose is to help me know how many steps I take in a day. The thin little piece of paper with the instructions on it claims that a person of good health should walk about 10,000 steps a day.  I know for many of you who walk - or run (God forbid!) that doesn't sound like a whole lot.  But that sounds like a lot to me.  For the last 5 years, I can't say I haven't cared about my health- but not enough to make the effort.
But now I think I'm up for it.  I strapped that little gadget on one morning last week when I felt particularly energetic and I thought to myself, "this is the first day of the rest of my life. I'm going to walk my way to health." 

I kept checking it every little bit and I was a bit surprised that I wasn't 'stepping' as quickly as I had thought I would.  I decided that I wouldn't look at it any more- I would just focus on walking.  So I put on my walking shoes and went to get the mail (our lane is about 1/4 of a mile).  I even walked a bit farther down the road so I could get a few more steps in. When I came back to get to the house to work, I would get up every now and then so I could get a few more steps.  I even walked the stairs all the way to the 3rd floor a couple of times to add steps.  Believe me, stairs should count for double points.

I was pretty confident that I had made a hefty dent in my 10,000 steps.  That night, I climbed the stairs to my third floor bedroom, kept the pedometer on until I just had to take it off to climb in bed.  I got ready to write down the big number of steps I made that day in my 'step log' and pushed the button.

2680 steps! 2680! That's it! And this was a good day for me!

So the next day I tried to top it. I did-  but I had to work at it.

Wednesday, I even danced all the way through our worship team practice so I could increase my steps alot over the day before.

5, 482!

Thursday I was whipped! I didn't feel good!  I couldn't get my meds to even out with my extra 'stress'! (That's a deal with Addison's disease.  You have to be aware of the stress- good or bad and be sure you have the right amount of cortisol in your system to deal with it. ) How am I ever going to get 10,000 steps?

I facebooked my fitness trainer/friend.  I only got 5,000 steps working really hard at it. How am I ever going to do 10.000?

"Wow, 2.2 miles...that is excellent! I like what you're doing, trying to accumulate steps throughout the day. You're right, 10,000 steps is a's about 5 miles. Just remember...every step is a good step! You're doing great!"

5 miles!  No wonder I can't get 10,000 steps, I can't walk 5 miles!
Every step is a GOOD step! Every step is a good step! Every step is a good step!

I must admit, for a few days (after less than a week of trying) I already wanted to quit. And I did for a couple of days.  But I've been thinking hard about what she said.  I tell my clients things like this all the time. I know our attitudes and actions don't change overnight.  It takes one right thought or action at a time.  Just like it takes the discipline to walk another day- one more step than the day before.

My high school class motto was "a thousand mile journey begins with a single step".  I guess a 10,000 step journey does too!

So ... I'm walking again.  How about you?  Will you join me!  I could sure use some walking buddies- even if it's just over the internet.  Tonight, I'm up to four thousand, nine hundred and sixty- six!  I figure by the time I let the dog out, shut off all the lights and make the trek upstairs- I'll hit 5,000!

Tomorrow, I'll aim for 5,001!
Are you with me?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where is the HOPE? Part 3

This morning I've been pondering how different this week began than last week.
Last week it was grey and rainy- this week is absolutely beautiful!
Last week I felt like I was trying hard to take a step forward, this week I'm walking with purpose & ease.
Last week I was still grappling with the question, "Where is the HOPE?"
This week, I not only see hope- I feel it!  What a difference that makes?

In pondering how I got to such a 'dark place' once again after seeing such light in my own story the past few months, several things came to mind.

One was that I used to LIVE in this dark place.  It used to feel like it took everything in me to see a glimmer of hope or breath of life.  I don't LIVE there anymore!  I only visited for a time- partly because it still really hurts that Leisha is gone, that life is different than I dreamed it would be.  To deny those aches and tears would be lying about how it is sometimes.  But not always!  It felt extra dark, I think, because I haven't been familiar with that place for a while.  I was seeing it now in stark contrast to the life I had recently become aware of again.  I found myself coming out of that place- that 'funk' with deep gratitude that I do see life, I do feel hope!

 Another thing that impacted my thoughts last week was a chapel message Ren had shared with me from a professor at Dallas Seminary.  The message was called "DEEPEST NEED, HIGHEST HOPE!" The irony of this message was that the text for it was from John 11.  The Lord has used this same story of Lazarus' death and resurrection to make me think about what it looks like to 'be dead' and then feel life again.  I felt as though I had been the one resurrected.  This passage reminded me that I feel LIFE again.  That was the first week of June. It was so powerful that I shared it in a the message at our church the last weekend of June.
(I thought I had written about it in my blog, but I looked back and realized that I had not.  If you'd like to listen to that message go to my website ( and look for it under the speaking tab.  Or you can go to
Anyway, back to "DEEPEST NEED, HIGHEST HOPE!" (by the way, if you want to listen to it, go to ).

Dr Jones reminds us that our deepest need and highest hope is all tied up in the words of John 11:35, "Jesus wept!"  I want to include some of my notes here- 1. so I'll remember.  2. so maybe they will encourage you!
There is so much more that he shared that is worth considering.  The key thing to notice is that our deepest need is directly connected with our highest hope!

 Take a moment to read from the beginning of the chapter. But in answer to my question, "where is the hope?", I want to pick it up in verse 33.
When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

 'deeply moved in spirit'.  this word is commonly used to refer to a horse snorting.
When applied to human being it usually denotes anger, outrage, emotional indignation

Jesus looks at this situation- and looks through this funeral, sees the funeral of everyone who has ever died. It is his response to the reality of death. "This is not how It's supposed to be- I didn't create people for this."  Seeing these people that he loves is indignant to the the way it was supposed to be.

Jesus wept! (vs 35)

This is the reason Dr Jones believe this story is true- because JOHN would not say it otherwise.  Weeping would be beneath a deity.  John's whole purpose for writing the book of John is to tell us about THE WORD- Jesus is God, who became flesh and dwelt among us- took on our full humanity. moved into the neighborhood.

Quote from NT WRIGHT says "The WORD, through whom the worlds were made, weeps like a baby at the grave of his friend.  Only when we stop and ponder this will we understand the full mystery of John's Gospel, only when we put away the high and dry pics of who God is and replace them with pictures in which the Word of God can cry what the world's crying will we discover what the word God really means.

The philosopher, Alvin Plantiv(?) says, the chief difference  between Christianity and every other theistic religion is that the God of Christianity does not stand idly by coolly observing  the  suffering of his creatures. The God of Christianity  has entered into their suffering,  taken upon himself a suffering far greater than they could possibly imagine in order to redeem them and give them a hope beyond it.

Our deepest need & highest hope is for a God 
          who sympathizes with us in our pain,
          who is capable of weeping 
          who has entered into our pain, our brokenness, our suffering

Our deepest need and highest hope is for a God
          who has tear ducts,
         who has taken on flesh and dwelt among us.

Our deepest need and highest hope is for a God
          who will take our sin, our brokenness and take it to the cross.

You know how the story plays out.  If you remember, when Jesus does what he does, there are some who go to the Jewish authorities and tell them about it.   They call together a meeting and from this point on they plot together to take his life.  I think Jesus knew that - he  knew that if he walked up to the tomb and called Lazarus out of his tomb, he was sealing the deal of walking into his own tomb; death is whispering in his ear- "you mess with me, I'll mess w you.  You bring him out- I'll take you in." 
Jesus becomes the champion of the cause of Lazaruas- of us all

LAZARUS come out

He starts the road to his own death. This is the spark that lights the fuse that takes us into holy week.

What does this mean for us? That our deepest need & highest hope is for a God
             who weeps
            who becomes our champion of our brokeness, our pain, our sin, our death

V 34 Where have you laid him?  he asked.
They don't know what he can do but they say to him, "Come and SEE, Lord"

The invitation for all of us who have pain, fear,  sin in our own lives, brokenness,  in our own lives,
 is to come before the ONE who champions our cause and just bring it before him.

Come and see- and be the champion of our cause.

Our deepest Need and Highest hope is for a God  and is the victor.

WOW! Our DEEPEST NEED and our HIGHEST HOPE is for a God who weeps!
Ah Lord, thank you that you enter into our pain, take on flesh and dwell among us, champion our cause and are victorious!

My only HOPE is YOU!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Learning from Moses

This morning, I picked back up on my study of the life of Moses.  I am struck by a very significant moment in Moses' life found in Exodus 3.  There he was tending sheep for his father-in law, Jethro. He was doing a necessary task on an ordinary day.

Then God showed up!  A bush began to burn, yet Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up.  

Verse 3 says, " So Moses thought,  I will go over and see this strange sight- why the bush does not burn up."  Honestly, I can't say that would be my first thought.  But maybe if it was just me and the sheep- who knows what I'd be willing to do for fun.

But notice verse 4.  It says "When the Lord saw that he (Moses) had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush.,  "Moses! Moses!"  

What if Moses had noticed, but not 'gone over to look'?  Would God have called his name then? Or would Moses have missed out on hearing from the Lord.  Would he have missed the opportunity to be know what God wanted him to do next? 

I've wondered often about this.  What about those time in our own life?  You know the ones- something happens in the middle of an ordinary day - and for an instant you know that it's something significant.  There is an awakening in you that this is a special moment.  The light seems different somehow.  The air seems fresher.  Your senses are heightened to keen observations.  

Have you wondered about those moments?  What if they are God moments- not a burning bush - and yet, may be it is.  Maybe is is an "angel of the Lord" appearing to you.  Sometimes we stop to notice.  Sometimes we try to listen to what that moment is saying.  But so often we're in a hurry to get on with life and so we rush off, appreciating that there was a moment- but missing the moments that 'could have been' had we only 'gone over to look!" 

And then do you notice when God did call Moses' name- what did Moses do?  He answers right away!  "Here I am."  Would you have answered that way?  I think I might have backed up and said, "Who said that? Jethro, is that you trying to scare me?"  But Moses doesn't say that. He acts as if this is an everyday occurrence.  Oh, listen, there's a voice coming from this burning bush- I bet it's God.  Yea Right! Was it more common for God to talk to those people than it is today?  Hmmm? I wonder!  

Over the past year, I've been watching for places that God might show up in my world.  You know what I discovered.  He shows up a lot and in amazing ways!  I'm pretty certain that the days I didn't see him wasn't because he wasn't there.  He promises he will never leave us.  In Joshua 1:5 after Moses died, God is establishing Joshua as the new leader of the people.  He says, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you."  He says that to us too.

So if He's here, where is HE? What is he saying today to me? to you?  How do I make sure I don't miss what he's saying now? Here's what Moses shows me.

First of all, we have to be faithful.  Moses was faithfully carrying out the task that was before him.  He was tending sheep.  A necessary task on an ordinary day. What are the ordinary things that we struggle to do in our everyday life because we want to be about something more 'noble', more fun anyway?  Maybe its doing the laundry or helping our kid with her homework.  Maybe it's helping a sick friend, or paying a bill for a friend in need. What's right in front of you? Moses was being faithful to what was right in front of him put him in the right place to see God. 

Secondly, we have to notice. Moses could have just gone on about caring for the sheep and not notice the bush.  Though how you 'not' notice a burning bush in a desert I don't know.   But he not only noticed, but he went to get a closer look.  What if we prepared our heart to notice- took time out of the middle of the noise in our day to just ask, "What am I seeing?" What if we watched, listened and observed a little longer when those special moments occurred in the middle of the ordinary. It may mean we have to make time for silence; to create a place of sanctuary. Maybe it's a favorite chair in the corner of the room.  Maybe it's the car ride to work. Maybe it's a an evening walk.  Moses took time to go over and look.  

The third thing Moses teaches me is that when God speaks, be ready to respond.  Remember Moses' first words after God called Moses' name was 'Here am I". He didn't even hesitate.  OK, there are plenty of times even in Moses' story that he  debates with the Lord.  In fact, it's just a few sentences after he responds. God begins to tell Moses that He has seen the misery of His people and and has heard their cries.  So God is going to do something. 

He's going to send Moses to Pharaoh.  That's when Moses starts with the questions;
           Who am I, that I should go...? 
           What if I go and they don't listen?...
           Then what do I do?

           What if they don't believe me?
           Lord, you know I can't speak so good.
           Please send someone else!

Sound familiar! We've all done it.  We've been faithful, we've noticed God at work, we've heard him call our name and we said, "Here I am!", only to be scared to death at what He asks us to do.  Ah, we are so human!
But the thing is- even in Moses' questions, he is in dialog with God.  Moses is hearing God speak to each of the fears that Moses has.  He is given tools to work with- ok, so it was a staff to work with, and a teammate, his brother, Aaron to help him.  God would have liked for Moses to just say yes and do what God asked.  Can you imagine what might have happened then?  But the point is, God worked with Moses in all of his frailties. Moses was used by God to do a mighty work with His people. 

Is God calling your name today?  Maybe you need to look around to see if the bush in burning in your back yard.  I'm seeing something happening out my window.  I think "I will go over and see what it is!"  How about you?  

Here I am, Lord! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where is the HOPE? Part 2

This weekend I've been asking myself the question, "Where is God trying to break into my world to speak into my grief?  What is he saying?  Why am I feeling this all again so strongly?"

Several things came to mind:
1. It's not just my grief that I am aware of.  It's the grief of people struggling to make sense still of the 9/11 tragedy 10 years ago.  It's the pain of marriages trying desperately to survive, yet failing miserably because of the years of layers that have hidden the true love they had for one another.  It's the young man urgently seeking to turn his life around, only to be trapped by the false messages from his past and the consequences of his actions. It's people in the East dealing with floods, it's people in Texas dealing with fire.  It's so many others who are dealing with loss and pain- emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, professionally, ....

Where is the hope for these people?  How do I lift their chins to see the face of God when they've never known Him before?

2. I watched the movie, "Titanic" this weekend.  I found myself weeping - no, sobbing- as this iconic vessel came crashing down- amidst the screams and paralyzing fear of its occupants.  Only a few survived, mostly women and children, largely due to the protocol of the ship's crew.  As one of the life boats finally came back to search for any survivors, there is a dark, ominous scene as the boat slowly makes its way through a floating maze of frozen bodies.  These had been frantic people just moments before trying desperately to call for help or find a way to survive.  Yet now, there was only silence & death.  Except of course for the heroine of the movie, Rose.  She had been saved by the valiant efforts of a boy she had met on the ship and fell in love with.  But he could not save himself.  

Was I weeping for the people of the Titanic all these years later?  I suppose some of my tears were for them.  But it was more for all the people they represent in our world right now.  People that give a silent scream, a desperate cry for help.  If we are listening, the sound is deafening.

Where is their hope?  

Where is the HOPE?

Every once in a while you need a little nudge to get through life.  You set reminders on your phone for important dates or appointments.  You hang post it notes on the fridge to remind you of tasks that need to be performed. You hang 3x5cards on the bathroom mirror with quotes or verses that give you inspiration or direction.  Or you wear bracelets to remind you of hope! Just a little something to help you keep focused on what's most important.

Well, last week was one of those weeks.  It was the end of August- and it just wasn't ending fast enough.  I started the month knowing that it was bound to be difficult. Five years ago Leisha died.  I knew that having a milestone anniversary was bound to knock the wind out of me.  I prepared for the date- planned things to do that would allow me time to just celebrate and reflect.  But the closer it got, the more difficult it was to breathe easily.  I began to feel my teeth setting, my jaws becoming rigid as I tried to do the next right thing.  My tears came often and out of no where.  My heart broke at the simplest reminder of the her absence.  But not only her absence, but the girls going off to their last year of their program. They both graduate in May- Cait with her Master's, Brie with her Bachelor's degree.  Life is making bigger changes all the time and those last few days of August seemed to amplify all the emotions I had regarding all of it.  The intensity of grief was every bit as strong as in the darkest days.  The blending of highs and lows, soaring and failing kept me out of balance at every turn.  I found myself spiraling downward- a very familiar, though not so recent memory.

I found myself asking over and over, "Where's the hope?"  Where is the hope? Where is the hope? There had been many times in the last 5 years when I was so overcome by those words. But I had felt quite proud of myself for finding hope and feeling life again.  I had even spoken about it on several occasions.  But here I am again.  I really feel lost.  I really hopeless, as if it grabbed me by the legs and was dragging me back into that tunnel of darkness.    If God is a God of hope, and if He promises to never leave us- then where was He now.  But if I've learned anything in these last 5 years, it's that to see hope, you've got to look for it.  He hasn't left me, but sometimes I've got to notice where He is.  That takes intentionality, and that takes time.

So I jumped in my car and headed to the DEEP WOODS to listen.  As I drove, I popped in the CD I had resurrected from my collection.  It was an old Steven Curtis Chapman CD.  The first words I heard were voices, as if from a current radio or TV spot giving the news of war and destruction, of loss & despair.  Suddenly another voice comes on- a preacher, (actually I think it might be Chuck Colson speaking) and his words were "Where is the hope?" which echoed over and over behind his next words.  I don't know how many times they echoed on the CD, I only knew they were there to get my attention.  They were my words.  They were here just for me!

Colson went on to say something like, "We will not find hope in our government or in the circumstances around us. Hope is found in the power of God working in the hearts of people".  People like me, hearts like mine. 

Chapman came on to sing,
  "Where is the hope? Where is the peace? that can make this life complete. For every man, woman, boy and girl looking for heaven in the real world."

Isn't that the truth?  Isn't that what we are all wanting?  Heaven in our real world. In the middle of our ordinary, or the pain, or the tears?  What do we hear God saying as He breaks into our grief?  What is he saying today?