Because it’s a very special day!
(I apologize for the freeze frames in this video- but you get the idea!)
I’m in the people business
Care for people
Feel for people
Because of this I have to be very aware of how I take in the emotions & pain of others. It can effect me not only emotionally, but physically as well.
Over the last few days a series of losses took my breathe away.
Death of a 26 year old friend of Leisha’s
Death of a 16 year old friend of a friend
Our friend’s 17 year old fighting for his life
Watching our parents process letting go of strength, while mourning each week the death of another friend or loved one.
Watching the girls navigate life and wondering what’s ahead for them and any future generations.
I’m not trying to take on all this pain but I’m struggling about what to do with my own emotions as I create a bigger picture for ministry I know I am part of
That involves more people
There it is!
I fear feeling more.
Then I reflected on the other messages
Continue reading So. Much. Pain.
It is Thanksgiving Eve, though I have seldom heard it described in such a way, not like Christmas Eve or New Years Eve. But tonight it seems appropriate. It is the day before ‘the day’ set aside for thanks and gratitude.
Yet I sit huddled on my sofa, tears just boiling under the surface waiting to spill over. Emotions are all over the place and I wonder if I will ever again feel free to experience joy without a deep sense of sadness.
If all the conditions were right, Continue reading A Broken Thanksgiving
This past week, I have been working intently to finish up details for publishing the Lovely Traces of Hope book. I had one of those moments as I sat late into the night reading/ editing/ proofing yet again through my own story.
For the umpteenth time, I was reading through Chapter 14, Turning East, which I have sent to many of you already. (Click here if you haven’t read it yet.) In that chapter, I share excerpts of Jerry Sittser’s book called A Grace Disguised. Jerry literally led me through much of my grief through the sharing of his own story.
Several months ago as I was reworking that chapter for the book, I sent Jerry a letter to thank him for being bold enough to share his story because of the influence it has had in mine.
Here was his reply…
I was sittting at the Arby’s across from the mall in the area that is all window. People watching at its best. The sky was clear with the exception of a few, very small, very white clouds slowly drifting by. What a beautiful day!
Every thing about this moment was life-giving. Even the woman Continue reading A Book to Proof
This past weekend I received an email from this special lady pictured with me in the photo. Her name is Linda Dillow. The email is the forward she has written for the book, Lovely Traces of Hope.
Linda has been my mentor in life, marriage, and worship most of my adult life, though we have only met a dozen times or so. I received her first book as a wedding present in 1979. I have read all of her books since. (I’ll list my favorites at the end of this post.)
It has seemed that just when I needed to take a next step, she was putting out the next book. When I was invited to lead a worship team to Ukraine, she was the speaker at that same conference. No, we didn’t plan it. When Rennie and I were on sabbatical, she invited us to stay in their home for 10 days while they were away.
For whatever reason God chose to place her in my life over and over again, I am eternally grateful. She led me in a journey of contentment, worship, marriage, sex even. She encouraged me to find contentment in my life and see my words, attitudes, work, and my waiting -even my pain – as an act of worship. She led me in worship, not in songs of worship, but in worship of two hearts bowed at the sofa, remembering who God is, recalling what he has done and praising him from the core of our beings. She invited me to see that my marriage was a reflection to my world of God’s love for us. She challenged me to want more for my relationship with Ren.
Linda is one of my heroes! No, this is not hero worship. This is gratitude. I trust her. I know she is a woman who pursues God and points others to him, because I have seen her do it. Not to one or two women, but to thousands, perhaps more. Not for a short time, but for her lifetime. I know. I’ve been watching her for 37 years now. Linda is the real deal. She is a woman of influence!
That is why I am humbled and grateful that she has written this forward for the book. I could make you wait to read it in the book, but I just had to share it. Take a peek. Here’s what a woman you can trust has to say.
What does a mom do when her beautiful, vibrant fifteen year old daughter is suddenly, harshly, instantly gone? Grieve? Of course. Go on a long journey of seeking God and healing? Yes. Kathy did these things but also did something very unusual.
After Leisha died, she opened her daughter’s journal and found Leisha’s “book.” If she flipped Leisha’s journal over and upside down and opened the cover, Kathy found her daughter had started to write her own story. She even included the title page.
So Kathy began writing to finish Leisha’s story.
The Burrus family: mom, dad and three girls came to have a vacation in our basement in Colorado Springs in 2002. It was a special time to get to know Kathy, Rennie and their three lovely daughters, Caitlin, Brielle and Leisha. A few short years later, Leisha was singing in heaven and Kathy was finishing her story. As I read Lovely Traces of Hope, I smiled, I cried and I wrote these words to Kathy about the book she and Leisha had written.
Thank you for walking through the dark tunnel to His Light
Thank you for writing so honestly and vulnerably for me and others about grief and pain and how to walk….believing that there is HIS Light somewhere ahead
Thank you for “taking your clothes off” and being real
Thank you for revealing the beauty of walking the Christ walk
Why do I think you should read this book? Let me use Leisha’s name to tell you.
Both Leisha and Kathy have much to share about building your legacy. Kathy says, “When we intentionally NOTICE what really is happening, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we are learning from it. More importantly we see what God has been doing. We NOTICE His fingerprints, HIS HAND on our everyday, ordinary lives.” That is especially true when we reckon with the painful areas that may leave us paralyzed in some way. Many times just “noticing” allows us to reframe the events and their effects on our future.
As a mom, Kathy gave me hope, showed me how to face problems with teens, how to reach inside myself and be willing to look honestly at “me.” We all face loss. Loss is not the defining moment of our lives, it is how we respond to loss that matters. Kathy helped me see in a new way that healing is a progression.
Not many fifteen year olds think about being an influence—they are too busy thinking about boys, clothes or the Friday night party. Leisha wanted to be MAD (Make a Difference)! At her tender age, she thought about being an influence and leaving a legacy. Teens need to read this book!
Kathy is honest. Listen to her sincere words. I hesitate to write these next pages. Offering them here is a risk. What will you think of me if I tell of the places in our lives we didn’t have it all together? What if I take off the mask enough for you to see me as I really am?
Leisha and Kathy’s book points you to the Lord God Almighty. In pain. In grief. When life is a dark tunnel, Kathy discovered that God is still Light. She says, I had to learn to NOTICE God showing up differently.
This book is an advance. It takes you forward in your thinking, in your faith, in your personal journey toward the legacy you are creating. Books have been written on grief. Kathy achingly walks you through how she processed her grief. Books have been written on how to help your teen and whole family walk through trials, Kathy shows you how her family did it.
Leisha and Kathy’s combined story is for every mom, every teen….really for everyone. I highly recommend Lovely Traces of Hope to you. I promise you it will lead you to hope as it did me!
Calm My Anxious Heart
Satisfy My Thirsty Soul
What’s It Like to Be Married to Me?
Surprised by the Healer
Want to get updates or join the launch team for Lovely Traces of Hope? click here!
Yesterday I shared a post called THAT’s INFLUENCE.
Today I want to share with you a friend of influence. Her name is Pat.
Pat is has been a long time friend, though recent years have brought us together more purposefully. She has been my coach as I launched into business. I was her matron of honor a couple of years ago at her wedding. She has listened to me through so many transitions of life – and I to her.
Our favorite thing to do is grab a table at Touches of the Heart in Glandorf for lunch and stay till they close. Julie, the Touches host, knows when she sees us to put on another pot of coffee. We will be there a while. Pat and I are never at a loss of words to fill an afternoon.
I have spent that last few weeks struggling with finding energy to do life- but more significantly returning to the grief tunnel as I processed some of the chapters for the manuscript I am writing. The more I tried to get deeper into my story, the less strength I had to do it. I had spent 10 weeks grappling with the emotions and wondering if I could actually write them down.
I felt so alone. No one can do that except me!
Then Pat called- she connects with me in one way or another nearly every week. This time she called. We talked about my health, rejoiced over our families, shared what we are learning about ourselves, about God. Like I said, we rarely run out of words.
Then she asked about the book. I told her I haven’t written much for 10 weeks. We talked about how my health and lack of energy seemed directly connected to the book. She said, “Kathy, do I just need to come and sit with you while you write?”
Ah! There it is! So many days I had wished for someone to be with me in this journey. I had not said anything because I know that I am the only one who can write my story.
But Pat saw me!
She invited herself into my pain.
She asks the questions others are afraid to ask.
She listens to my ramblings as I come to find my own answers.
No, I don’t need her to come write with me. But I did need to know someone saw what I needed and was willing to be an answer to my need.
Pat, I am filled with gratitude for the influence you have had on my life. And just so you know, I’ve completed 5 chapters and rethinking 3 more. Thanks for spurring me to finish what my heart must do!
Love you friend!
Before this weekend, I would have told you:
- I never wanted to be a writer
- I started writing about 6 months ago.
- I am still struggling to find my voice.
- I accepted the title of writer about 8 weeks ago.
But after the weekend at the first ever TRIBEWRITER’s Conference, (hence #tribeconf) I came to own I have been on this journey of writing most of my life.
Jeff Goins, founder and host of the TribeWriter Conference, (Superman in another life) spoke directly to me (though he doesn’t know it) on the very first session.
He challenged us to:
- Let go: of expectations, of fear, of shame (feeling that we Should Have Always Mastered Everything). Here we go again. First thing he says and I’m already having to open my hands to what God might be wanting to do here.
- Embrace the mess: How did he know I woke up in the middle of the night in a sweat, wondering if I was going to show up and be shown up for the mess that I was? He asked us to partner with the community regarding the issues we have. I did! I found great encouragement and accountability in the process.
- Become a more true version of yourself:
- Be you! Not someone else, even if you admire them.
- Believe in yourself. Action follows belief.
- Try something new this weekend. That was easy! Everything had some newness to it.
While the weekend was full of excellent speakers with very practical resources and action steps for us, I probably could have left after the first speaker and felt like I got what I needed.
I have struggled ever since Leisha died feeling like I need to write to finish her book, but have been in a battle to rediscover who I am really not just as a writer, but as a woman. All I thought about myself had been put into question when my daughter died. I blogged a bit about this during the weekend. You can catch it here.
But Ally Vesterfelt, of Author Launch really spoke to this as she shared her father’s story as he was near death. As a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor, he had worked with all kinds of people. But his first article as he fought to live was “Dying is easy, Life is hard to do!” Yes it is! I can attest to that! I never considered that Leisha had the easy road in dying. The rest of us had to fight to live.
Ally was just getting started with her challenge to me. Her next thoughts made me know I was going the right direction.
- We find our voices when we are most likely losing them.
- One of the most painful things is to lose the sound of your own voice.
- FIGHT for the truth, the rawness, and the realness of your own voice.
- Finding your voice starts with finding yourself.
Wow! For her to speak directly to the battle I mentioned earlier means she is familiar with the pain of it. I have been there for the last 9 years. Finding my voice by finding myself. I can identify that it must be truth, it will be raw, and it must feel real or it feels disingenuous to the process of healing.
“More than likely you will find your voice on a path you least wanted to go down. Sometimes the sufferings, not the healings, are the source of greatest transformation of our life.”
She was right! I knew she was!
I was being changed through the sufferings. I didn’t want to suffer. I tried to avoid the suffering, but I knew it when I embraced the ache and walked into the darkness that the greatest transformation occurred.
As I work to finish Leisha’s book, I reconnect with many layers of grief in order to share what I have learned from the last 9 years. That has been part of the mess I have felt recently. But I wouldn’t change the process. I am much more aware of who I am and what I was meant to say!
I understand that I must find my own voice before I can truly help someone else find theirs. While I hope that the book will be used to change one person’s life in an effort to change the world, I know that writing this book has and is changing me.
The story I’m getting ready to present to the world in a few months has been in process for most of my life.
I’m a writer! I have been a writer! I need to write if just to change me!
How’s your story coming?
P.S. Thanks Jeff Goins! For letting go, embracing the mess and becoming a more true version of yourself. You have modeled for me and given me courage to do that same.
Thank you Ally Vesterfelt! For sharing out of the raw, real, truth of your own story. I am one who is changed because of it.
Just because I didn’t write life lessons from all the other speakers doesn’t mean I couldn’t have. I am still just processing the first one. Thanks to all of you for your time, availability and genuine support.
I’m already signed up for TribeWriter 2016. Join me?