Thursday, July 19, 2012

Letters to Velma

Velma Kroeker Goertzen
and her daughter Beth
(You may want to read the last blog from July 17 first- in order for this to make more sense.  The evening after my last blog, I read a letter from my mom.  It contained an article about a woman she had grown up with who had also lost a daughter.  I didn't think this was my issue.  But as I read- I knew that God had prompted Mom and those who sent it to her for me to get it right now. It was indeed, part of my answer.  I wrote to thank Velma for her story.  I include our letters here as part of what God is doing to help me heal.) 

Regarding: Forgiving again and again! (

Dear Velma

I wanted to write to you regarding an article about you that was sent to me by my mom, Lovella Thiessen, who also married a Thiessen 
who got it from my aunt, Rosalie Thiessen Flickinger
who got if from her sister in law, Jan Flickinger.

Now you know all my connections.

I just wanted you to know that the Lord used your article in a huge way in my life. My daughter, Leisha, died six years ago, August 16, 2006. She was 15 then- would be 21 now. She was walking on our country road. A friend she was meeting drove up across the intersection from her and honked. She looked up and ran. Right into the path of a car. She was killed instantly.

As I read your article, I could identify with so many things, like 'the fog' that you live in after a loss, and 'redefining my faith'. I read of your incredible journey to forgiveness and didn't feel like I needed to do that. I'm a life coach and have worked through a lot of issues in my life, even as I help others do that. I'm generally a very hope-filled person. I thought I had worked through so much of my grief and have been finding ways to share LEISHA'S HOPE with others. 

But this summer, I realized that I am really angry. This week I wrote out a list of nearly 100 things I'm angry about. I was appalled that I was identifying things that I really thought I had worked through. As I read your article, I realized that the Lord was helping me to see this- so that I could forgive. 

As I began to write down the 'truth' that God was showing me about each angry issue, I realized that ultimately, I'm angry at me! My daughter had asked me to take her to coffee that afternoon and I put her off. We had been gone a lot a that day- and I "had to get some things done." So she went for a walk.

She called me about a mile down the road and said her friend Abby was coming to get her- they were going for coffee. Could I bring her wallet down so they didn't have to come back home? I did! And we had 10 glorious minutes! I knew they were even before she died. 

But if I had taken her when she first asked she wouldn't have been there or if I hadn't talked to her- she would have been past the intersection.

I have processed this so many times. I know that these things happen. I know God is fully in control- which is another matter I have had to forgive. But I hadn't realized how guilty I feel that she's gone. I've been blaming lot's of other things and people for my anger this summer. But I'm really angry that I 'wasn't listening' to that prompting in the spirit to grab her up and take her to coffee. Even as I write this, I know that I am identifying a core ache in my heart that needs to be healed.

In those 10 minutes with Leisha, I had teased her that she was so anxious to get her driver's license because she wanted power. She thought for a moment and then said, "You know Mom, I don't want power. I want to influence. I want to say to people, "I'm going, Come with me!" And I stroked her nose and said, "You were made to influence" But 10 minutes later she was gone.

I know that her words were meant to remind me that I want to influence others- and I can't do that if I'm stuck. I can't say, "I'm going, Come with me!" So...I'm taking a next step. I'm forgiving me! 

I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. For reminding me that healing will be life-long. For continuing to influence your world with your daughter's life- not just her death.

I'm better because of you!
Kathy Thiessen Burrus
Columbus Grove, OHIO


Dear Kathy,
My how time brings friends and their families together over time. Your mother, Rosalie and I played together as little girls. They lived across the road from us until they moved to the big white house north of Medora. Then enjoyed Central KS Bible Academy riding the bus together. Such good times.

But so sorry that our stories connect on a whole different level. I prayed that when our story would be published that someone would be able to relate and be helped by my struggle with grief and forgiveness. I had a specific person that I was angry with and had to forgive. It will be a life time of forgiving and forgiving again because even tho its been over 26 years when I think about April 18th the feelings and emotions roll over me again. We will always remember because we loved our daughters but the sharp pain of grief does soften over time with a lot of healing. 

I remember feeling guilty for introducing Beth to the Dr that she saw that night. She had been dealing with food allergies and sensitivities for a long time and he really helped her identify the foods to stay away from but in my grieving mind it became an "if only". If only I hadn't taken her to see that Dr the first time she would still be alive. It took me awhile to realize that God was saying that those choices we made were made with the best intentions at the time and that she did have at least a year where she was feeling so much better. Was it an unrealistic guilt? Yes! But I can truly understand your struggle because you talked to your daughter minutes before she ran into the road! Oh, That must be such a difficult thing to deal with. I can only imagine!

Thank you so much for finding healing in my story and lets keep in touch.

In Him
Velma Kroeker Goertzen


Dear Velma,
My head knows what you are saying. My heart just needs to release the anger that continues to impact my decisions and steps. 

But I am grateful to know that whether it's 26 years or 6 years, we won't forget those precious daughters. We are hosting what we call "Leisha's HOPE" event on the 28th. We're raising money to build a spiritual retreat cabin in the DEEP WOODS project behind our church. There is 25 acres of woods that they are developing with small hermitage cabins, paths, prayer stations, etc. Anyway, we have chosen to build the HOPE cabin. So we are having a prayer walk through the woods, with a garbage pail dinner for those who come. 

My older two daughter's both graduated this year- one with her Master's degree from Wheaton College in Biblical Archeology, the other from Columbus College of Art & Design in Fine Art. We've celebrated them- now it seems like this is Leisha's celebration.

It celebrates life! I do have a blog that tells more of my story. It is 

Thanks for sharing your heart!


Be kind to yourself and let your heart work through the hurt and anger. Just because your head knows does not mean your heart can work through the hurt quickly. 

I will check out your blog! So good that you can celebrate your daughter's life in a real way that will share HOPE with others.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I'm SO Angry!

Have you ever had one of those times when the strength of your emotion was so great that it overwhelmed you and sent tears rolling down your cheeks and goosebumps up your arms?  You know those times:

  • when you are holding your new little one in your arms and look deep into their eyes and it's as if they can see deep into yours.  
  • Or when you are wrapped in your lover's arms and he looks at you with sweet tenderness and says "I'd marry you all over again!"  And you know he would- and you would too!
  • Or your adult kid comes home and says 'thank you for everything' and you know they mean it with all of their heart!  
Well, I've had one of those weeks!  But it wasn't any of those things!  In fact, it was a week of intense angry emotions.  You must know that weeks like these are rare for me.  Oh, I get emotional- intensely emotional about a lot of things, but I'm not typically an angry person.  It takes a lot for me to get angry and even more for me to discuss that anger with someone else.  So the fact that I'm writing about it here- it was a big deal!

It wasn't that things were going bad- in fact, things were going well.  

Business is good! They guys that are working with Ren have been such a help and I've enjoyed getting in on the action a couple of mornings a week this summer.  It's amazing to see all they do in a day! 

Brie & Jason came home for the weekend and we really enjoyed having some relaxed time with Brie- just being together.

I was on the worship team the last two weekends.  There's not much I love more than being with a group of people that are worshiping as they lead others in worship.  It is life-giving!

Ren spoke two weekends at Crossroads (July 8 & 15- you can listen to the podcasts at under the Media tab) It was great to see him preach again- not just hear him.  Because I SAW him being confident of his message.  I SAW him engaging more relationally with the people than ever before.  I SAW his eyes filled with energy and sparkle.  He loved it again!  It's been a long time coming. 

But when the weekend was over- I felt so angry.  I went for a walk that evening after the kids left and I could tell that with each step was a STOMP!  I was STOMPING down the lane with great agitation. Why am I mad?  Why do I feel this way?  Things are going well, aren't they?

...aren't they?

At first, I blamed Rennie for my anger.  I'm mad because I'm afraid he's not listening close enough to the Lord and what if God calls him to preach again and he misses it- what if we're stuck in this limbo forever.  Now don't get me wrong.  I really am ok with Ren fixin' cars for the rest of his life.  I know that God is using him and that business in a ministry we never had to church people.  But I also know that part of God's design on him was opening the Word and helping people SEE it-clearly.  Where does God want to use that part?

Then I blamed my health coach.  I have reasons to be angry.  No, it's not about trust and control, well, ok, maybe a little. Well, maybe a lot- but I have reasons.  

Then I made a list of ALL the things I could think of that I was angry about- and yes, lack of world peace made the list.  That means that I had a really long list. I was appalled at all the things that made the list. Remember I said earlier, I'm not typically an angry person.  Or am I?

I knew I wasn't done with the list but the relief I felt from just 'getting it out there' was so huge, I felt it physically.  Being angry takes a lot of energy.  But when I woke the next morning, I was already thinking in my mind that there were some 'truths' related to each anger that I needed to speak too. 

For instance, the anger that the house wasn't finished and the yard was a mess, etc... I could write...

We are beginning to feel the effect of  'improvement'
  • On our house- continuing to unclutter and decorate
  • On our yard- 'the same'
  • On my health- down 20 lbs- feeling stronger after some big weekends
  • On our marriage- unlayering some of the issues
  • On our relationship with the girls- empty nest ain't so bad
  • On our finances- both in business and at home
Accountability is the KEY to anything that is making improvements.  

But when I started sorting out all the things I saw, you know what I learned?  I am mad at me!
I was blaming Rennie for not 'listening' to the Spirit's prompting in his life for fear we would miss something important.  (That happened in June- but that's another story)

But what I was really mad about was that the day Leisha died, she had asked me to take her out for coffee.  My immediate thought was 'Why not?".  But my practical side one out and I said, 'We've been gone most of the day.  I need to do a couple of things first.  How about we leave early for youth group and I'll take you out for supper?"  

So she went for a walk.  

By the time we could have been sipping our favorite brew- not that either of us drank much coffee, she was in the presence of the Lord.  

I was mad because I 'heard' the voice say "Why not?" and I knew inside that it was a good things to do.  But I compromised and put it off for a while.  I was listening but I missed it.  If I had listened and obeyed immediately- would she still be here? 

Now I don't need you to send me an email with any of the platitudes we say to people when they need to remember that God is in control.  And if it was Leisha's time to die... !  Or  whatever!  That's not what this is about!

But I knew that this was the root of my anger!  

Now what do I do with it?  

(Stay tuned for the next blog! )

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Leisha's HOPE is building HOPE!

It's hard to believe, but almost a year ago, I wrote about our first Leisha's HOPE project.  (August 12, 2011)  

It is our heart's desire to partner with Crossroads Church to build the HOPE cabin in the DEEP WOODS spiritual retreat center that is being developed in the 25 acre woods behind the church.

During this year, we rejoice that about 1/3 of the funds needed has come in.  So this month we are going to work to complete the fundraising and get the project underway.  Our goal is to to have the total funds raised by August 16th, 2012.  We are really excited about the possibilities!

For that reason, I'm including an invitation to a special event designed to continue the influence of Leisha's Hope!  You are more than welcome to come.  But please let me know you are coming so I make sure we have enough food to feed you.

On August 16th, 2006 Leisha Burrus told her mom that she wanted to influence others. 
“I want to say to them, ‘I’m going, come with me!”  Fifteen minutes later, she died! 
But her influence lives on in the form of Leisha’s HOPE! 

Green Hope Coaching & All Things New, along with the Burrus family are partnering with Crossroads Church to build the HOPE Cabin in the DEEP WOODS spiritual retreat center as part of LEISHA’S HOPE
To help raise the necessary funds for this project, we are hosting the first ever…

Saturday, July 28 from 4-8pm

·         You get an opportunity to freely explore paths, prayer stations and cabins- wear walking shoes.
·         You have an opportunity to hear a presentation on the purpose and ministry
of this special place 10 minutes after every hour from 4:00-7:00pm.
·         You have the opportunity to donate to this special project. 
Plus, we will serve our (somewhat) famous 
Garbage Pail Dinner beginning at 5:00pm.
Please bring a lawn chair to be more comfortable.

Come take part in the afternoon for a little or a long while.
To Register or For more information- 

·         Goal –total funds raised by August 16, 2012, the 6th anniversary of Leisha’s death.
$700 for furnishings, $8,000 for cabin to be built this fall
·         Potentially raise funds toward obtaining electricity to DEEP WOODS ($10,000)
·         Recruit additional assistance with construction of the cabin as well.

Thank you in advance for helping LEISHA’S HOPE build HOPE!
Questions or Comments: call Kathy at 419-306-8311 or email