A Father’s Love

Some days words are harder to find.

They are there, deep in my heart, but hard to bring to the surface.

The mix of bitter sweetness mulled together by the seasons I’ve experienced.

Finding myself walking without the one who walked me through the first part of life is still something my human heart cannot understand.

And despite the parts with pain, the good memories carry me, softening the questions without answers.

And God, in His love, sends me the sweetness of making new memories, and love that resembles His.

Men that stay and step up and love like He does.

Father’s Day should be everyday for those that love big, show up, and stay.

The world needs more of that deep, strong, unconditional love.

I’m so thankful I know all their love in the bitter sweetness.

❤️S

Glorifying the Giver

I’m convinced that God gives all of us unique giftings; it’s up to us what we do with them.

Some of us hide them away and never develop those gifts while others match those giftings with hard work and determination until they grow into something absolutely beautiful, Glorifying the Giver.

Landon has overcome a lot. When he was 18 months old, his eardrum ruptured, leaving him with a 40% hole and a 50% hearing loss. He managed with that for seven years, until it was repaired at age nine, completely restoring his hearing. It was difficult, but it never deterred the gifting God placed within him; it makes his story even more of a miracle.

From as early as I can remember, Landon was drawn to music.

As a baby, his musical toys were always his very favorite.

Before he was a year old, my Grammy gave us her antique children’s piano. I loved it when I was a child and of course, Landon loved it too.

He also loved our big piano, another gift from my Grammy- the piano that two generations before him learned to play. He loved when I’d sit him on the bench so he could make music. His little arms only able to reach the middle notes, his legs too short to reach the pedals.

Shortly before he turned five, he began asking to take piano lessons. At first he was satisfied with me showing him some things on the keys, but before long he wanted more.

He kept asking, so we started our search for a teacher that would accept a five year old piano student.

This is when we found his first teacher, Mrs. Lott, a retired grade school teacher who taught piano lessons from her home.

We bought his first set of books and he anxiously awaited his first lesson.

He loved piano and learning to read music. He really loved to put his artistic spin on the pieces he felt needed more pizzaz. This often earned him another week of playing the same songs, but it didn’t squelch his creativity.

He had a passion for piano that is hard to describe. He loved it and was drawn to it. The keys held an escape from troubles and an outlet for his artistic gift. It was amazing to watch him sit down and play, even playing some songs by ear.

Around 3rd grade, he began taking lessons from his school music teacher, Mrs. Corman.

In the years he was with her, she often mentioned how gifted he was. She let him use his creativity and gift to choose music he wanted to play, not just from the regular piano books. It made playing come alive even more for him and his passion and creativity flourished.

After one of his last competitions under her teaching, she pulled me aside and mentioned he would be needing a new teacher, she wanted him to be able to rise to his full potential and she thought that was limitless.

Before entering his 7th grade year, we put a call into Kansas Wesleyan University to see if they could offer any guidance on piano teachers.

It was then that we learned a couple from New York would be arriving in the fall. She was a pianist and he a cellist.

That fall he began lessons with Dr. Tatiana Tessman, a classically trained pianist. She was yet another blessing from God in his young life.

Under her instruction, Landon’s piano playing exploded. It was amazing to witness as he literally changed before our eyes and ears.

Over the next several years he continued to develop and grow. He made hard choices to drop other activities in high school, allowing him more time for his passion. Landon always had goals and a drive to be in New York. If he wasn’t playing, he was listening to classical music, a student thirsty for more, absorbing everything he could.

Dr. Tessman provided countless opportunities and experiences for Landon that pushed and challenged him in a way he needed.

His confidence and abilities grew tremendously through high school and into college.

He took what was given to him and applied his own blood, sweat, and tears to make it what it is today. There were times his fingers would literally bleed from practice; through it all he pushed and prayed for his dreams.

He was recruited and signed to Kansas Wesleyan University. He continued his education at Wichita State University.

This fall, he will be realizing his dream of studying piano in New York. He was accepted into the Manhattan School of Music.

As his parents, there are really no words to explain how proud we are. Our front row seat watching him grow and develop has been one of the biggest blessings of our lives.

Bravo, Landon.

We can’t wait to see where the next chapter takes you! We will be cheering from the front row!

❤️Mom

In the Garden

Today is National Gardening Day.

I spent the day in the garden completely unaware that someone had declared it so.

I am so thankful that it isn’t truly limited to just one day because it is one of my favorite places to be.

I’m not sure when I fell in love with dirt, the garden, and planting seed to watch it grow.

Some of my earliest memories were outdoors, at my brother’s side picking strawberries, carrots, or onions from our mother’s garden, rinsing them under the hydrant and eating them before they ever made it in the house.

He once told me a tall tale of spending the night in the garden pulling the biggest onion he’d ever seen. So big it took him all night to pull it from the ground. ( as an adult I realized he was just upset he didn’t get to go on the trip I did so he wanted me to know about the big adventure I’d missed with him)

I have other memories of food fights at the end of the growing season where we’d finish off the rotten tomatoes as ammunition for our battle.

Today, my garden needed weeded.

I had a plethora of dandelions growing big.

The dandelions led me there, but God knew my garden didn’t just need me, today I needed my garden.

There is just something about digging in the dirt and talking to Jesus about my people.

We had a lot to work through today.

In the end, I left them in His capable hands.

Both my garden and heart look better for it.

❤️S

“We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it is our garden that is really nurturing us.”
-Jenny Uglow

Petals of Promise

This tree bloomed yesterday.

It bloomed on Easter.

I love how my amazing Father sends proof of His promises in tangible ways.

He is faithful and good-even when things are not.

He walks with us always and promises to never leave nor forsake us.

This view from our porch was a nightmare just a few hours before this tree bloomed.

It gave my heart such hope to see it’s flowers on Easter.

Saturday was a work day at our house, a true family day getting ready for the celebration of Resurrection Day.

Reece moved our porch furniture home, I pressure washed the porch and furniture and around the pool. Todd ran errands and made dinner. Abe and Rosie played outside.

We spent the day working and prepping for the next day. Just a day at home as a family welcoming the nicer weather and the days of sun ahead.

It was a great day.

But in the blink the day turned tragic.

As we were just finishing placing the final thing on the porch, Abe and Rosie bolted out the front door after a cat that happened to be across the street. At that very moment a car was driving down the street, the sun hung low in the west sky impeding the driver’s sight, but she did see them and slowed. In their pursuit they didn’t see her or hear our shouts, and were both hit.

Rosie took the main brunt of the impact as she was closet to the car. She has bruised lungs and a compound double fracture of her femur.

Reece and I rushed her to the vet and after an exam and x-ray we decided to transfer her to K-State. She’s been there since late Saturday.

She’s having some complications from the chest trauma and they’ve had to tap her chest to let some of the air and fluid out from around her lung. They will continue to monitor her and let her rest until she’s stable enough for surgery to repair her femur.

Abe has a lot of road rash and is sore, but resting at home.

Abe is sad and lost without Rosie, we all are.

But these beautiful flowers on this tree bloomed just in time to remind me.

Just a few feet from the spot where we watched the accident-He sent Hope on the day we celebrate His redeeming power.

Yesterday as we celebrated His resurrection we sat outside in the sun. Tired and weary from the weight of what we’d witnessed and little sleep.

The sun was warm and soothing and as we soaked in it’s comfort, I saw the smallest flutters of white falling from the sky.

I realized the beautiful flowering pear tree was showering us with His love. As the petals blew in the wind and sprinkled all around.

And with that my tired weary heart whispered a thank you.

What makes God so dear to us is not so much His big blessings to us, but the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us—He knows every detail of each of our individual lives.

-Oswald Chambers

The Wondrous Cross

2020 took a lot from us. The surprises it
held seemed to never end.

And yet, here we are in 2021.

In the midst of an Easter season, awaiting Resurrection Day.

For the past seven years, God has given me a word for the year. Sometimes I know it before the year starts and other times I’m a few weeks in before I realize the word He’s been repeating to me.

Last year, 2020, I heard Abundant Life.

It excited me, I could feel it would be a big year. I held onto His promise.

But just a few weeks in, like all of you, I was a bit shaken and maybe even a bit confused at what was unfolding.

And yet, in the midst of the uncertainty, He was unwavering, steadfast, present, and strong.

He was still God.

And I began to realize that nothing is ever certain-alone from Him.

He alone is our only certainty in an uncertain world.

As the year unfolded, I held His hand and tucked His promise of abundant life into my heart.

And I realized there was so much abundance-even in the midst of the mess.

2020 gave me so much more than it took from me. It taught me lessons I would never have learned if it weren’t for the year.

And in many ways it gave me back a life of living, not just existing.

In 2020, He gave me my chosen family and family that chooses me, he reignited my love for music, he placed me in a ministry reaching out to others with his love.

Miraculous.

When I look back over my life, the times of biggest struggle, suffering even, have been the seasons of greatest growth.

As His promise of abundant life unfolded, I had to be willing to let Him walk me through some suffering-some old unresolved and some not yet discovered. All of it needed His hand and my trust.

This led me to a book by Elisabeth Elliot on that very subject.

It’s a beautiful book that uses the cycle of plant life to explain the beauty in suffering. He reached me in a way I could hear.
The beauty in surrender and dying, in breaking open into new beginnings.
New life.
Chapter after chapter.

Just the other day as I was reading from her book, I came across an excerpt on the cross.

As I read it, I felt it painted a beautiful picture of the weaving together of suffering and love.

“If the cross is the place where the worst thing that could happen happened, it is also the place where the best thing that could happen happened. Ultimate hatred and ultimate love met on those two crosspieces of wood. Suffering and love were brought into harmony.
It was while we were still powerless to help ourselves that Jesus died for us. It is a rare thing, as Paul points out, for anybody to die even for a good man, “but Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, and that is God’s own proof of his love towards us. And so, since we have now been justified by Christ’s sacrificial death, we shall all the more certainly be saved through him from final retribution” (Romans 5:8-9)
To be “saved” requires a severance from the former life as clean and sharp as though made by a knife. There must be a wall of separation between the old life and the new, a radical break. That means death-death to the old life, in order for the new life to begin. “We know that the man we once were as been crucified with Christ, for the destruction of the sinful self, so that we may no longer be the slaves of sin, since a dead man is no longer answerable for his sin” (Romans 6:6-7)
This wall of separation, this barrier, is the cross.”

He loves us enough to let us suffer. It’s goal is to lead us to his perfect love while making is more like Him.

The further we travel on this pathway to glory the more glorious it becomes, because we are given to understand that every glad surrender of self, which to the young Christian may seem such a morbid and odious this, is merely a little death, like the tree’s ‘loss’ of the dead leaf, in order that a fresh new one may, in God’s time, take its place.

Abundant life.

New beginnings.

His perfect love-even in the midst of suffering.

❤️S

❤️❤️Quotes from “A Path Through Suffering” by Elisabeth Elliot

Struggle and Success

It was just yesterday I was carrying this guy in my arms.

Every day he’s growing more and more into a young man-standing inches taller than me now.

And even though I can’t carry him in my arms anymore, I’ll always carry him in my heart.

It’s such an honor to watch him grow into who he was created to be.

He sat down with us last fall to share some of his future hopes and dreams.

After some research and a visit to Salina Tech, Reece applied to their welding program.

He met with his counselor and several teachers to get everything lined up and to meet the requirements for admission.

He kept us posted along the journey, but went through the process entirely on his own.

Last week he received his letter of acceptance into the program, it was such a gift to watch him open his letter and get the good news-his smile was priceless.

Reece has had a tough year. He was injured in wrestling in January 2020. That injury ended his freshman wrestling season. He worked through the injury with therapy and strength training and returned to football in the fall. Football was also a struggle for him. He fought nearly constant pain and went through a fall of ups and downs fighting the injury.

By the end of football season, our 15 year old knew he was faced with making an adult decision about what to do next.

He considered his future if he continued to overwork and abuse an injured shoulder.

We talked and prayed and sought more therapy. Reece ultimately decided to sit this wrestling season out.

That was a hard decision.

Several years ago Reece had to go in for surgery. It was meant to be simple and uncomplicated, a surgery that would give him relief and an escape from being constantly sick.

His recovery from that surgery took weeks.

He was so sick following the operation and I can still remember my six year old Reece saying to me, “I didn’t think it would be this hard.”

As a parent, it is so hard to watch our kids struggle and it’s so hard to not be able to make things better like we did when they were babies.

But I’m convinced it’s in these moments they grow the most.

And it’s in these moments we grow the most.

God uses it all to refine and sanctify our lives.

And because the struggle often makes a mark on our memory bank, we can look back and remember just how, with His help, we persevered.

❤️S

❤️MHS Football photo credit Eldon Clark

Victor Paul Rall

Victor Paul Rall was my grandfather on my mother’s side.

I called him Grandad.

He had a strong tan frame, weathered hands from his hard work, a smile and laugh that melted my heart, and the most soothing humming voice I ever did hear.

He was a giant teddy bear-at least with me.

The way he said my name still rings in my ears and I think of him often especially when I ride in the car and miss the sound of his sweet deep hum.

Two times stick with me the most when I think of my Grandad Rall.

The day my brother died and he called for me and the day near the end of his life when I sat on his hospital bed holding his hand while I held in my tears.

Both times, he said my name in his sing-song deep voice. I can still hear the way it sang off his tongue and can feel his big arms enveloping my frame.

I’ve never dreamt of him since the day he left-that is until Saturday.

Somewhere in the midst of a tough week of laying a family friend to rest I recalled his slow and painful death.

I talked to God about why some die quickly and others so slowly.

I remembered and admired the way he kept going and smiling, in the midst of the pain and the questions I’m sure he had.

In spite of it all, he always had a smile and a hug for me-that never changed.

Saturday night I awoke from the most comforting dream of his big strong arms holding me and humming to me.

What a bitter sweetness.

I sat over coffee with Todd the next morning and shared.

The tears brimmed in my eyes as I recalled the comfort of the dream and wondered what it meant.

A few hours later Todd called me to the funeral home to help. When I arrived I walked in the garage and there sat the most handsome 1976 Ford F-150 Ranger.

What a surprise! It’s always been a dream of mine to have one and my sweet hubby found the perfect one-but even he didn’t realize just how perfect it was.

We jumped in and took it for a spin around town. As we drove, we talked about what we’d name it.

When we pulled it back in the garage, we took a minute to look it over, admiring all of the 44 years of character.

As we walked around, Todd mentioned the writing under the driver’s side window. He asked if I could read it.

I leaned in and much to my surprise it read, “Victor”

I screamed with delight to think my very own grandad’s name was scrolled on the door.

Not a coincidence, a true blessing from above.

Todd didn’t even know. None of the pictures or description once mentioned that little fact.

My eyes leaked as we took a picture and I thought of my sweet Grandad.

As a Christian I’ve come to love that name.

Christ was the ultimate victor over death and the grave.

We’ve had a rough January, losing two special friends who were family.

What a timely reminder He gave scrolled on the side of an old pickup truck.

Thank you, Jesus

❤️S

Not Defeated but Delighted

To know Paul struggled, helps me.

It helps to know he grew weary, felt weak at times, and cried out to the Lord.

But to hear the Lord’s answer is even more comforting.

But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.”

So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. 10 So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

The winter sun is often elusive. To me that is the most frustrating part of enduring winter.

This morning as I sat and read, it found me and filled the room and my spirit with His warmth and strength.

And once again, I traded my yoke for His.

Thank you, Jesus

❤️S

Under the Radar, Forever in my Heart

This is my friend, Kenny Lumpkins.
He wouldn’t like me posting this-he always liked to fly under the radar.
Maybe that was from his years in the military, serving in several overseas battles.
The experiences that left their mark on Kenny were prime examples of the sacrifices he made for our country.
He carried his story with him every day and only shared it with those willing to stay long enough to listen.
He lost his first wife very suddenly at a young age; was left to raise his young son.
Many years later he met the other love of his life, Jan.
He often referred to her as “Grandma” in conversations; they were inseparable.
He never liked the attention or the fuss-at least in public, but we became coffee buddies sometime back about six years ago.
Kenny did so much behind the scenes to let others know he loved them, to let them know he cared.
Under his gruff exterior lay a very special man that often checked in on me, brought me chocolate, reminded me that I was special to him when he called me, “Sweetie” and was always reminding me to do my update on my laptop.
As we sat and addressed New Year cards last night, I received the call that Kenny had died, we had just addressed their card.
Some calls are just heavier than others, some hit the heart a little harder-leaving a mark.
This morning when I got up, I had a notification my computer had an update. I was frustrated at first and then I remembered Kenny was always after me until I completed them.
I plugged in my computer and started the update as I smiled and my eyes leaked.
This is my friend, Kenny Lumpkins, he is special and I thought you should know.
❤️S

The Christmas Star

The Christmas season often becomes overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle.

Decorating, gift buying, gift wrapping, parties to celebrate, menus to plan-all on top of our already full schedules of work, family, laundry…etc.etc.etc

To top it off this year, we also have the noise of the world. The nonstop talk of covid, politics, and everyone’s opinion on pretty much everything.

The world is loud right now.

It is no wonder Jesus often got away from it all to a quiet place-a place to be alone with His Father.

It’s the only way to stay sane in a world constantly competing for our time and attention.

A world telling us-more than ever before-what to do or how to act; even guessing the motivation behind our actions or perceived inaction.

God didn’t make us capable of handling everyone else’s business or opinion.

Last night as I drove home deep in thought, I remembered to look for Jupiter and Saturn. The two planets are moving closer to each other and tomorrow night they will come together to form a bright light in the sky that they are calling the “Christmas star”.

“The conjunction of the two planets happens about every 20 years, but they’re not always the same. This year’s grand conjunction will be the closest observable since 1226.” (Earthsky)

The last time the two came this close together was in 1226. To experience them this close again (where they look like one) you’d have to wait until 2080.

I’ve watched the progress as they’ve been moving closer over the past few weeks. For me, it has been a refreshing reminder to be still and gaze at His heavens.

A reminder to seek His certainty in all of the uncertainty.

May we all slow down and enjoy the blessing in the heavens tomorrow night as we remember King Jesus’ birth.

Come let us adore Him!

Christmas Blessings

❤️S