Monday, December 25, 2023

Club, Box or Something Else - Michael

 I now belong to something I have never wanted to belong to. I have been on the outside of this thing, but I have spent a lot of time listening to the brokenhearted describe this reality. I have counselled many people who do belong - who exist moment-by-moment on the inside. Husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends and many others belong to this thing, but I was only able to listen and speak to them through a veil that separated me from them. I did not belong; I was outside trying to understand the inside, but I could never actually understand, and, truthfully, as much as I desired to be able to minister to those on the inside, the only way to understand requires that I, too, pass through that terrible veil to the inside. As much as I wanted a solid point of contact, to be empathetic, to minister to those on the inside, I could never be on the inside of this thing. 

On 23 October, 2023, this changed, forever. I am now on the inside. I, along with my family whom I desperately wished to protect from the emotional, psychological and spiritual ravages of the inside, have also passed through "the veil." Life will never be the same. Some may say this is a bit dramatic - I may have said the same at some earlier point in my life, but I realize these are the voices of those who are on the outside of this thing. They do not and cannot understand because only those on the inside truly "get it."

The tow truck driver brought Josiah's car to our place a couple of weeks ago. He knew Josiah. "Big Daddy J" was his nickname around the apartment complex. The tow truck driver had towed a lot of vehicles out of different apartment complexes for Josiah. Then he said he understood what we were going through. I could feel questions rising up within me. "What do you mean you understand?" my inner voice shouted. He went on to tell his own story. It was a truly horrendous story of profound loss, pain and grief - it was of the same substance as nightmares. My heart melted. He indeed did understand. He truly did belong. He was on the inside.

We have run into countless others who have walked through the evil of humanity, the brokenness of the world, the ravages of events beyond one's control; they have been forced to march through the darkest moments imaginable; they, too, have passed through the veil, this rite of passage to the inside which truly changes a person. No one ever says they are "over it and ready to get on with life." It is a thing that haunts your steps, visits your dreams, startles you in the midst of a mundane moment, casts it ominous shadow during a casual conversation and invades moments of forgetfulness with images, voices and memories of "the veil."

I have struggled with what to call this thing. I have described the rite of passage as a veil which gives only blurry images to those outside of the veil, but how do I characterize or describe those who have gone through this rite of passage? Certainly, not a a like civic club - there is an implicit understanding that these clubs are either for fun or for a purpose - maybe both, but this is neither. Not a fraternity either. A fraternity can be joined by going through a rite of passage - some sort of an initiation ceremony, but one can elect to leave or to fail the test, the rite of passage and, thereby, be excluded from the fraternity. So, not a club nor a fraternity. 

Maybe it is like a support group. Those involved in support groups have something in common with which they are wrestling, but this cannot be it either because these groups gather together by choice after a defining event or because of a common denominator of some sort. Generally, these groups have someone leading it who may or may not have walked down this same path. More than that, those in support groups go to these meetings because they are seeking answers or help or fellowship. The support group is a response to a trauma rather than the source of the trauma. Not all who are on the inside are pursuing such goals, but the rite of passage is ubiquitous to all who are on the inside. I do not discount the value of support groups at all; I am merely saying they do not characterize the larger group.

Perhaps it is more like a box, a box with transparent sides where all of life can be seen, but no, this is entirely inadequate because there is no separation between those inside and those outside except that those who have passed through the veil bear a mark. 

A mark. Yes, this, I think, is the answer. It is a mark upon the soul. Those who have passed through the veil are marked by the veil. They are marked by a deep sorrow that fills lonely moments with unattainable longing and with pain deep inside of the soul for which there is no relief. They, we, I travel about this world and in moments cross paths with others who bear this same mark of grief, of loss, of a life ripped out of fellowship from us, of a beloved one whose voice is silenced and whose life was cut short in a moment of time. This mark is seared, as if by a red-hot branding iron, by the veil, but this mark is generally not visible to the eye.

I will tell you there are many without this mark, who are outside. Some of these call to those with this mark and declare that they understand - they do not. Unless you have passed through the veil, unless you bear the mark of this devastation in your life, you can never truly understand. I know there are those who stand outside with a genuine desire to help, but to their credit, they realize they are, in fact, on the outside - without the mark on their souls, and they should never wish to fully understand because to truly understand means to pass through the veil themselves.

There are others who call to those who bear this mark of grief and loss to just forget about the pain and get on with life - IT DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!. The only way out is to finish the journey. There is no turning back unless one were to deny this new reality and do violence to one's own psyche. There is no turning to the left or to the right. There is only going through... Psalm 23 reminds us of this - it is only on the other side of the valley of the shadow of death - after we have passed through the valley - that there is a cure for the soul. This remedy can only be found in the presence of the living God, gathered together, dwelling in His house forever where pain and sorrow are no more. Healing for a wounded soul is only found in eternity.

Saturday, December 16, 2023


 We are soooo tired tonight. Stacia had a full day prepping for play practice, directing play practice, and then babysitting. 

Stacia gave Gideon and Bella the roles of Joseph and Mary. This eliminated any odd dynamic of boy/girl in the play. They need a box to stand on so they can be seen. 

Annie is going to be a sheep - here she is with two shepherds. 

I helped with costumes at play practice, went shopping and then finished what I could on the guest room. Michael changed the sediment filter for the well water system...and then we moved all the boxes back under the stairs. It would be much easier if that filter/pump was at the FRONT of the space rather than the back. 

This is an odd arrangement. Check out the long hall to the spare room. The bathroom is on the other side of the right wall, the stairs and such to the left. 

I enlisted help with twinkly lights.

Freddies didn't have lamp shades so I'm going to have to try Walmart in Eagle River. How convenient to roll out of bed and hit the treadmill. 

While cleaning I focused on a quilt hanging on my wall the kids gave me when I had Stacia. It has all their handprints. I couldn't resist putting my hand in Josiah's print and I cried. Then Allie hugged me and on the other wall I saw our family photo from San Angelo...Josiah at 

Our nerdy nuts arrived. Stacia is home. Allie is home. We're going to watch, "While You Were Sleeping," and eat apples and nerdy nuts. 


1. Seeing great friends while helping Stacia at the Play practice. 

2. Twinkly lights and a lava lamp in the guest room. 

3. Our nerdy nuts arrived. 

4. Michael finished the under-the-stairs job so we could move all the stuff that usually belongs under the stairs back. 

5. Allie helped me clean. 

6. I'm learning the world doesn't fall apart if I cry. I'm getting more comfortable with the emotional roller coaster. 

Puzzling Community

I have a dear online friend, Laura. We've known each other for approximately 20 years.  We homeschooled our kids together, care for parents at the same time, have lost parents near the same time and she has noted we like puzzles. When Laura walked through a season of intense grief, she found puzzles to be helpful. One day a week or so ago three big boxes arrived for us at the post office. She sent some from her home and had ordered quite a few from Spilsbury.

We began by setting up a shorter puzzle on the card table. This gives Dad something to do. He doesn't really LIKE puzzles he tells us...but he does sit at the table for I think he's finding he does like them. LOL  Michael and Stacia spend quite a bit of time getting the edges together, taking out pieces that don't REALLY fit....and helping the process along. 
Started with a Ford puzzle

I'm not sure you can see this clearly...but Stacia and I awoke one morning and noticed how the pieces were all stacked by the spots where they go...look carefully. Dad could simply slide the pieces right into place when he woke up. Sometimes, he moves them all around. This day he slid them all into place! 

He called me for a picture - and this has become the norm. 
Thought the states would be easy...

I love that the table has become a gathering spot, that Dad is more engaged with us, and Laura was right...working on a puzzle allows our mind to focus on something productive, while still drifting.  There's something good about SOMETHING FITTING INTO PLACE during this chaotic season.  During one point this week I was able to tell Dad that Michael, the girls and I are still very sad.  He had wanted to go Christmas shopping and Michael and I haven't bought one gift. No energy at this point. I shared we are often in tears and he doesn't notice. He began watching and tells us he remembers Josiah was killed.  I think this is good, really. I think he needs to empathize with us and remember why we may not want to do the things he thinks we should be doing.  I suggested he go shopping with Nate and Heather when they are here. 

We're discovering there is a whole new world of puzzling out here...special catalogues, caddies, boards, tables... Jenni shared her grandmother's tip. We put all the edge pieces in a small ziploc. That will save time the next time we work the puzzle. It's NOT cheating - it's a puzzle hack. 

I like this one a lot. 

When I got home last night (Friday) Dad was quick to tell me he had finished TWO puzzles that day. Stacia reports he is getting much better at them...and he is certainly more engaged with us...we are seeing lots of benefits from the puzzles. This one had a mug, a couple of chairs, a journal, book, and easel... There are still quite a few 500-piece puzzles and I bet he'll be ready to tackle a bigger one with us by the time we work through these. 

I am thankful for the community God has blessed us with - locally and online. Laura, this has been amazing! Thanks so much.  I love most of all when I have no energy to go out and shop...there is a whole stack here for anyone to grab and do...together. 

Friday, December 15, 2023

A Full Friday

 Allie and I had a later start than normal in honor of Christmas Break. We did find our way to breakfast study. 

I had an hour and a half between getting home and needing to leave again. I dusted and swept in the new guest room. I also moved boxes I could manage from the closet in the guest room and I located all the linens for the bed. 

Michael had lunch with Alex. He ran a couple of errands and came home. 

I spent the afternoon with CoRielle's boys so they could go out to celebrate their anniversary! We had a hot chocolate party, played games, played in the gym in their garage, got out the costumes and Benny proved to be an excellent hider. 

table fellowship

Mario Tower

Swing, balance boards, mini trampoline -punching bag not seen

Charles told me he was Jesus - but Benny was having NONE of that. "Charles, you are a PIE-RATE." Charles immediately responded appropriately with a hearty, ARRRGGGH!! ::snort:: 
Charles makes a great pirate

I got home to see a Prius in our driveway. It was either Jamin or Jenni. Our day had been busy enough that I wasn't in the loop. LOL 
Stacia, Michael and Jenni 

It was Jenni...cribbage has become a thing in our home again. Someone suggested a new board but turns out this is Grandpa G's cribbage we'll get some pegs to replace the toothpicks and keep the old board. ::snort::  We played and had pizza.

GG has been enjoying puzzles. He informed me as I walked in the door, he had finished 2 puzzles. This means Michael and Stacia have sat and worked on puzzles with him. 

 Allie was out at a school banquet/dance...Stacia didn't have the emotional bandwidth to attend a school banquet and dance. Still too much pain...Josiah is the one she has memories of dancing with...she has a very busy weekend coming up and we were happy to have her at home. She did a bit more work on play props and we watched another silly Christmas Movie. Though I am liking the true meaning of Christmas which makes it into the Christmas movies from Great American media movies. 

Counselors, books and friends all assure me its normal for grief to be exhausting and distracting. For a high-energy, fairly focused person this new persona is alarming. They assure me my energy will return...and someday I'll be able to be in a group again and not lose my focus or train of thought... that day is not today! I love to burn a pillar and a couple of taper candles in the morning when I seek Jesus for daily grace.  Last night I discovered I had left the candles to burn all day. The tapers were gone, and the pillar was still burning. I put in two beeswax candles I had and lit them yesterday morning. I found them tonight...again.  The pillar has maybe an hour left in it. I may have to swear off flames for a bit. 

On the grief front, I did not tear up or cry in the morning. That was a welcome pause. I didn't make it all day...but you and downs. 


1. Still very thankful for the margin in our lives which allowed us to serve CoRielle, Alex in addition to our homefolk today. 

2. Chickens keep laying 2 dozen eggs each day! I have no clue WHY? I suspect they saw the 12 new chicks and decided they'd better up their game this winter. We hoped for 6 - 9 a day through the winter. WE HAVE A FRIDGE FULL OF EGGS. 

3. Games and pizza with Jenni. 

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Christmas Break Has Begun

"Grief is exhausting!" 

I have heard people say the above. Now, I understand. LOL 

WOW - Stacia ILLED this first day of Christmas Break. She had a breakfast study, worked on play props, met a friend in the evening, worked on puzzles with GG, played with nieces and nephews and enjoyed a long soak in the tub, and scheduled other meet ups for the rest of the break. We got a later start for Bible study this a.m. in celebration of her first day of summer break.

We got home just in time for Michael to head to a doctor's appointment. 

At some point in the afternoon, it seemed good to just sit and enjoy a Christmas movie. Which Stacia, GG and I did. We watched our first movie from Great American Pure Flix, Twas the Text Before Christmas...We really enjoyed it. Allie got home from her last final while we were watching and commented that THIS is the Christmas break vibe. 

Allie made 100% on her final final and has officially begun her Christmas Break! Michael and I love school breaks. LOL 

Bre and the kids dropped by...Michael came day. The kids had a traumatic day at the doctor's, and we were happy to provide stress relief. 
Jojo, Gideon, Bella and Papa

Helping GG with his puzzle

Hello, Trudy! 


Shenanigans with Papa. 

Bre needed to run as she was having Jamin over...we had leftovers for dinner. We didn't make one bit of progress on our room makeover...frankly at this point it may be easier to make an igloo in the backyard for Nate and Heather. LOL  We still have time. We wanted to get something on the list done. Michael and I worked on packets of paperwork from the Social Security admin. 

Stacia opted for a long bath when she got in for the night.  GG headed for bed. Allie, Michael and I opted for conversation over TV...though I do believe Allie and I tried a new series that left me sleeping. Oh, yes, some mocumentary on a Christian radio company. 

Christmas Break has begun! 

1. Time to enjoy an afternoon visit with Bre and the kids. 

2. Christmas movies in the middle of the afternoon. 

3. Conversations at night. 

4. Christmas Break from college. 


Wednesday, December 13, 2023



This has been a hard week.  Is it nearly over? ::snort:: 

Yesterday was the 6yr anniversary of Mom's "passing." It was a rough day for my emotions. HOWEVER, Michael and I made significant progress on a project moving rooms around and setting up a guest room.

Jenni dropped by for tea and stayed for dinner. I really am a terrible blogger. No photos to show at all. I DO love sitting around the table with friends. 

I slept well last night - the longest I've slept without pain in years. We have a new mattress (part of the project we've been working on). 

I woke up feeling "blue." Maybe I thought yesterday would be a hard day and I made it should have been smooth sailing? I don't know what I was thinking. 

I cried through my morning time with Jesus - while praying, worshipping, reading the word or sitting -  the.whole.way.through. 

Dad rang his bell, and my day was off and running. 

I had a full day planned and I was thinking I shouldn't have made plans. THAT is what is so HARD about NOW that people don't understand. On a day when I feel like I could tackle the world I make plans...and then sometimes it's just a bad day and I don't know when it will hit. Yes, I can power through and do...but it makes me reluctant to schedule anything because I never know what it will be like when the day arrives! I don't know how others are handling this - I realize if we had a job we'd have to compartmentalize much more and show up. 

After getting Dad settled, I had a fantastic zoom with my high school roommate. You wouldn't have wanted a screen shot - believe me this is not a good hair or make up day. LOL I have a blog post rattling around in my head about friendships...I really should get it written...but let me just say Lorelei was a GOD-SEND this a.m. She in Pennsylvania and me in Alaska...together via Zoom. And we re-entered the room twice.  I knew Lor would be a good one to connect with as she has walked this path, years ago when she and her husband lost their beloved son, Daniel.  She, and a couple of others have offered to talk; I've not felt up to talking. Today, I did. She let me ramble and talk about nothing at all and over-share my feelings on having a child who is a murder victim and the dynamic it adds to grieving...and the legal system... I told her some days I'm doing good and today I wasn't...and she affirmed its o.k. Life is going to be different, and I don't HAVE to try to get back to some socially acceptable "normal." She also suggested a way to handle the problem I mentioned with scheduling events. She's so wise and gracious. " I wonder if you could say, 'I would love to spend time with you and today it sounds wonderful. If the day we pick turns out to be a bad day, may I cancel?'" Um. YES. That's almost exactly what my book on grief recommended I say! Boundaries with grief....I'd love to do it if it's a good day, can I have the freedom to back out if I need to...or maybe just run out to the car for a breather or change the event from a lunch to a coffee???? Our talk would have been such a blessing just for that little interchange.  Seeing how such a simple little boundary could help made me feel strong enough to head out for my lunch date...and with that caveat have the confidence to schedule more outings. Shoot...this is just what my wise daughter in law Carrie has done. "We'd love to come, can we let you know how we are feeling when the day comes?"  I'm a sloooow learner. LOL 

Mona, Joann, Rebeka and Melany along with their youth Andrew and Lorelai met me at Sophia's for a yummy lunch. I was determined to try this month's special. It didn't disappoint.  It was fun to have the time out with these ladies - some of the best in the world. They weren't alarmed with my wonky sharing tendencies...odd things pop out at odd times...and if I teared up it would have been fine.  They were content to chit chat and they were content to go deeper when I wanted to. I was glad I went...and remembering I really could have backed out made me WANT to go. 

I got home to find Cory, Arielle and the boys were at our house. Just seven weeks ago we would not have had the margin in our lives to drop everything and be totally present with Cory and Arielle on a Wednesday afternoon. We "sort of" settled the boys with an iPad so we could visit, as the family/playroom is torn up.  I didn't have to rush out to the church. We weren't preoccupied with what we needed to do. We were able to listen and laugh and enjoy time with them.

 The girls got home from college. Stacia has taken her last final of this semester! She's totally done until the new semester begins Mid-January! Allie took the same final and has one more left for tomorrow morning. Woot! 

We threw together a kid-friendly meal from bits and pieces in the pantry and freezer and enjoyed more community around the table. 

And Michael entertained the boys while the gals cleaned up...and Cory snuck out to shovel our front...I swear all the snow from the roof slid off in the night and landed right at our front was a mountain to climb over to get to my car. 

It did my heart good to see Michael and the grands enjoying each other. Grands have a way of bringing a touch of healing to life. 

Papa and Danny

Papa and Charles

Benny was harder to catch...and the young boys ran interference for him...

Perseverance paid off and in the end Papa caught Benny! 


1. Margin in my life!  Time! 

2. Time for a long zoom with Lor, my high school roommate. 

3. Time for a leisurely lunch with friends. 

4. Time to be present with CoRielle and the boys  - and to have a drop in dinner. 

Monday, December 11, 2023

Seven Weeks - Navigating a Hard Monday

I am not having a good day. 

Seven weeks. 

Will there be a time when Mondays don't remind me of Josiah's murder? 

Will I again reach a place of easy trust that God is "watching over" my family? 

We are doing all the things they say "helps" in mourning...we've got our own routines - flannel Monday, memorial jewelry, etc. We've moved furniture around. We've paused traditions...we've put up the Christmas decorations, we are intentionally socializing, going about the normal...we're making space for all the emotions. 

Honestly, nothing HELPS, much. 

The ache doesn't go away. 

Everything is "out of kilter" or "off."  Family dynamics, sibling dynamics, caregiving, family gatherings, celebrations...everything is off...not bad...just off. 

I have so many questions to which there may be no answers. 

I have "happy" moments. 

Today, I'm sad. 

Life is hard, even when I name the good...when I relentlessly look beyond the circumstances. Yes, I can see God at work, there is joy and peace and so much love...but that doesn't mean I don't still feel and experience the ache, the pain, the emotions. Again, learning how to make space for ALL the emotions. I'm starting to think there aren't good and bad emotions...we are humans, emotions are...and we simply accept and deal with where our soul is. If I truthfully bring those emotions to God, He meets me there. Ignoring the emotions don't make me holier.

Yesterday we went to church with Cory and Arielle. Cory's sermon was on peace, and it was good and real. He mentioned the recent past...starting the week without peace and the need to focus on the Prince of Peace... and several came up to Dad after the service and said things to the effect of "We've been praying for you, we're sorry for your family's loss." 

This led to the following conversation with Dad.  "Did Cory lose someone in his family recently?"  


He said, "Josiah?" 

I commented, "Josiah was murdered." 

"Oh, yeah, I remember that."  

He often says this when we have to remind him of something he's a quadruple bypass or that my brother is coming to visit. 

I had been thinking he was handling grief well - maybe he isn't remembering. 

There is nothing easy about navigating this Monday. 

Hugs are welcome; prayers are always appreciated. 

Thursday, December 07, 2023

The Tree is Up!

Jamin is home and came by to visit - after he shoveled his home out. Of course, it snowed the day he returned.  ::snort:: He stayed for dinner, and we enjoyed hearing about his trip. He "charged the storm." He went to the places he and Josiah loved together in West TX and he let himself feel all the emotions. The track, the church, the college, the mall, the Chick Fil A, the Twin Buttes, our old home, Lake Nasworthy... He embraced the emotions of grief. The book I am reading says to do that when you feel safe...and was time. 

We decided to charge the storm in our small way tonight.  We decorated the tree. I am NOT putting up all the decor this year. There are wreaths on two doors. There is one nativity. There are a couple of pictures around and no, I am NOT wrapping all our doors and photos in Christmas paper this year. There is a tree. I only planned to put lights on it - lots of lights. 

I planned to buy 5 boxes, but Freddies was out of either multi-colored or plain white lights in boxes. I got two big spools of mini white lights. I realized I had 160 feet of lights or 8 boxes worth of lights. Michael and Jamin put the first spool on. It was nice...but we needed MORE LIGHTS. They added the 2nd spool of lights...and posed so graciously as they began adding the 2nd spool of lights.  ::grin:: 

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

Yep - I need lots of lights this year. 

Next, Stacia put her great-grandmother's tree topper up. I hadn't realized it could be 100 years old. I know it's at least 80 years old. 

I wasn't going to put ornaments on the tree as my ornaments are pictures and I didn't want to cry. But I have to make space for the emotions of grief.  We set this bag aside and put the others up. I'm sad I can't find a few of the photo ones we had up last year. There is also a special ornament still in the garage I won't put up this year as I think we are done going through boxes. LOL It is one Julia gave me years ago when I had a miscarriage. It's a clear glass bulb with sparkly tinsel that was for me to remember when everyone else had moved has come to stand for all those we've lost - the 7 miscarriages, Grams, Uncle Bill, Mom, Dad and Mom G, Granma Ann... it's been my private memorial for decades now. It's out there somewhere. Finally, we unpacked ornaments of Josiah's Christmas'.

Yes, I teared up. This is Josiah's first Christmas. He is 10 months old; Krista is 2 and Bre is 4. 

Carrie told me having her Christmas tree up sparked a bit of joy. I see that now.  I cried...but I'm also happy. Happy to remember. Happy to have one thing normal in this crazy season.  That does NOT mean I am going to put up the outside decor or drag more boxes inside. This is enough. 

We found a new spot for the tree. I like it. We can see all sides of the tree, it can handle lots of lights, it reflects in three windows, and it makes a fun place for people to warm by the fire. 


1. I didn't hit the moose in the road on my way to town. This was 9 a.m.

2.  Today was the first time Stacia and I have been back to study since...

3. ALWAYS such a thrill when it snows, and Shawn shows up to plow. Jamin spoils us.  

4. Stacia and I stopped by Laura's to pick up a Christmas surprise. We got to meet her dogs and I got a hug. Some of you may know her from Little House Big Alaska, I know her from food co-op. 

5. It was certainly a note of grace to catch up with Jamin and his adventures in TX. He is prepping to move from one side of Wasilla back into a unit at the 4 plex he owns in Eagle River. We are buying something he owns...something we've been saving for years to purchase new. We'll be able to set it up in the back yard next summer....any guesses? 

IF or WHY Are you Doing THIS?

If you feel De'Etta pulling away from teaching Bible studies, serving coffee, or leading women's ministry is pulling away from God, you are wrong. 

If you think Michael moving away from leading men's ministry, giving announcements, our service in prayer on Sunday morning, or stepping away from leading a LifeGroup is us pulling away from God, you are wrong. 

If you think our leaving our church in the valley to be with our children at their church in this season is the same as "running from God," again, you are wrong. 

Know we were in 100% agreement when Holy Spirit led us to "step back from ministry, focus on family and attend church with Josiah's girls and the kids in this season."  This is "self-care" - for now.  We have no idea how long "now" will last.  Satan attempted to sow seeds of devastation and bitterness into our family. We are in spiritual warfare, and we are listening and following to the best of our ability. 

Our hearts ache at losing the community we have poured ourselves into for the past six years. We have discovered true community continues through ups and downs and changes, and while we may lose some friendships, most are still praying, still loving, and still dropping by.  We understand some feel hurt and do not understand. I've shared GG is in that boat. We are sorry for that. However, we can't stop following where Jesus has led us.  We have not forced our girls to follow us, we've encouraged them to follow where God leads them. GG is stuck with us because he can't be alone in our home for an afternoon. We are working towards solutions for him. 

It's hard to tell from what you observe where another's heart is with God. Certainly, if we were SINNING, you may be able to assume we'd pulled away from God or that God was punishing us - we remind our LifeGroup of our study through the book of Job.

But, really, are any of the things mentioned above a sin? Is it possible when we say God led us to do these things that HE has? That these very things are signs we are following CLOSE after our Shepherd. 

I, De'Etta,  have never been closer or more dependent on God than I am in this season. I wake up early and stumble to the bathroom where I stay in prayer for as long as it takes before I am assured, clothed in Jesus, clothed in His full armor, and able to walk out of the bathroom to face another day of grief. 

We have never appreciated the people (who are the church) more than we do in this season. 

We have been, by position and by gifting, pastor/teachers - those gifts haven't gone away. We will continue to shepherd and teach. We have no idea how or where, but it is who we are.  For this season, though, those gifts are directed mostly to caring for our grieving family. 

Rest assured we are not isolating - we are intentionally seeking out community. We are not avoiding the church scattered or gathered. This gift of time and margin has been a lifeline as we process through the events of the last six weeks. We have spent decades pouring out. In this season we NEED and CRAVE solitary time with Jesus. He is tending our souls and pouring back into us in ways we cannot explain. It's deeply painful; but God is with us.  Our lives have focused much on doing for God; now we simply focus on being with God. 

A friend asked De'Etta, last week what her word is for 2023. Honestly, her brain has dumped many things she once thought important. She told her she didn't have a word, but she knew in September "grace" would be the word for 2024. Since the conversation she was thumbing through her Bible and there in the margin saw her word - highlighted in passages, in her journal - "transformation/transformed." Yes, transformation, intentional prayer this year has focused on being transformed into His image. Transformation in so many areas of life. We believe this season of simply being with Jesus in a season of deep pain and confusion is transforming us. We can't tell you how just now. We recognize and sense the transforming process. And we are giving ourselves and others grace to not fully understand how or why it looks like THIS. 

If you read this and are questioning our actions, we hope this helps you reach a measure of understanding.  We realize you may not understand, but then do we ever truly understand another's faith walk?  

Wednesday, December 06, 2023


1. A refreshing lunch with Sheri and Joann. 

2. We got 3 boxes of puzzles from Laura! Wow. Our winter hours are filled. LOL  The package also contained an encouraging note, some lovely ornaments and a CD of music. 
He's already picked one out to begin...

3. Jamin has been visiting in TX. Its' been fun to receive photos. Today he met SJ (Stephen Josiah) in person. How sweet it is to know Josiah's legacy will live on in his friend's son's name! 

Stephen, Kathleen and SJ - photo from Jamin 

4. Carrie and Livie are reading a chapter of Luke each evening. Fun to do it "together" apart.

Livie - Photo by Carrie 

5. I slept a bit this afternoon. I needed it. 

6. Jamin is coming home soon....

Jamin and SJ - photo from Jamin 

7. Grandchildren are simply the best. This little smile never fails to cheer me up. 
Noah - photo by Larissa 

Praying for an Enemy

We are reading a chapter of Luke every evening this Advent season. 

Luke 6:27-36. 

How do I love Jesse Jones, the defendant in the murder of my son? He would certainly count as an enemy, the person I have wanted most in my life to hate - even more than my abuser. 

I know I must love him or Satan working through him wins a major victory in my life. 

I have CHOSEN to love him - but I don't feel it at all. 

What CAN I do at this point to put love into action? 

I can forgive him - and keep forgiving him as often as I need to. I can forgive him for the impact his actions have had on my life and the lives of the friends and family of Josiah. 

I can pray for him. I would love to let myself off the hook and pray one of David's Psalms down on his head...but instead I pray for God's grace in his life, I pray for his salvation, I pray for his girlfriend and unborn child's safety, I pray conviction in his heart and the heart of all those who helped him end up where he is. I pray for his safety in prison. 

I also pray for justice. 

I can be merciful - even as my Heavenly Father is merciful. 

I don't want to. I really don't want to...but through sobs, I will and do. 

Because neither God, nor Josiah, would want me to let this man change my heart. 

It's been our family vision to love love God wholeheartedly and love others deeply. 

This one is HARD. 

How's your Advent going? 

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

You Don't Just Lose Someone Once

You lose them over and over, 

sometimes in the same day. 

When the loss, momentarily forgotten, 

creeps up,

and attacks you from behind. 

Fresh waves of grief as the realization hits home,

they are gone. 


You don't just lose someone once,

you lose them every time you open your eyes to a new dawn,

and as you awake,

so does your memory,

so does the jolting bolt of lightning that rips into your heart, 

they are gone. *


Losing someone is a journey,

not a one-off.

There is no end to the loss,

there is only a learned skill on how to stay afloat,

when it washes over.

Be kind to those who are sailing this stormy sea,

they have a journey ahead of them,

and a daily shock to the system each time they realize, 

they are gone.


You don't just lose someone once,

you lose them every day,

for a lifetime. 

C Donna Ashworth 

Thanks to Robin for sharing this poem with me. Yes! It's so good. 

*THIS waking up is what I've tried to describe...each day realizing anew the loss.  THIS is what pushes me to the bathroom where I cannot come out to face another day of grief until I am assured that God is truly with me oft repeated prayer,

Immanuel -

Walk with us,

Full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14)

Mostly Grace Notes


I do not appreciate the customer service at Dad's Dr.'s now that a new company took over his former doctor's practice. We waited an hour beyond our appointment time to go back to a room. However, the labs were great. She says Dad's diabetes is under "superb control." I fear he heard, "You don't have diabetes now." ::snort:: Everything looked so good he doesn't have to go back for 6 months. 

That's been the big accomplishment of the day...getting to the appointment 15 minutes early, waiting 1 hour and 15 minutes to go back and then having an appointment. 

We are ready to settle in for the night. 


1. Reading a secular book on grieving that is written plainly and contains much sense, without the spiritualizing which can lead to guilt that one can't just "surrender it to God and move on." 

2. A wonderful neighbor, Linda, who brought our food co-op order to her house for us to pick up.  Dad's appointment set us way behind to get our things picked up and I was thankful she had offered earlier in the day. 

3. I am thankful we had gifts cards from Scott and Rachel and were able to stop at Panda Express for dinner. 

Monday, December 04, 2023

Monday Doings

Once again, I took no photos...but trust me on this! Stacy came over this morning and brought a tea party with her. What a treat. The girls were doing homework - final's week is coming up and assignments are due this week. Michael was busy. GG was in his chair reading the paper.  Oliver stayed home with Ethan. The tree blocks the view of the table...we were able to set up our tier of treats and visit for a solid hour - maybe a bit longer. 

I ran eggs across town. 

Cory, Arielle and the boys dropped by...another impromptu hot chocolate party - AFTER they got some outside minutes in. LOL 

It's fun to watch the grands play with the same nativity I had when our kids were little. I realized I need to get some Christmas board books to go with our kids books. 

I had some extra time to journal and do an advent for my soul. We are reading a chapter of Luke a day after we read Ch. 4.  That's about all for the day. 

1. Extra time to pray, journal and study this a.m. 
2. Tea treats with Stacy - faithful friends. 
3. Assurance that God is the ultimate chess player, and He never loses a game!