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.


  1. Kathy,
    Just read your blog with near tears in my eyes. I must admit I didn't even think about you when I read Velma's article but I felt so compelled to send it to your Mom and so glad I did! Bless you as you continue to work through all these issues. We love you.

  2. You know- I needed the letter to take one more step before it got to me. It was partly the timing of getting it that made it so powerful! But you responded to the prompt the Spirit gave you - and so did mom! Well Jan too for that matter!

    We all have our issues! I just had a gal ask me why I would share something so personal. I guess I'm still trying to answer that. But it seems that I need to tell 'the whole story' - not just the good parts- or the public parts. There is so much I don't tell- but this seemed important to share.