Love & Tragedy

Love & Tragedy | by Bethany Luchetta

My heart starts to race. I am angry. I let it linger, fester, grow into outright rage. We are human; all susceptible to whims of fleeting emotions. But, where is my trust during tragedy? Do I fire-off political unrest, race induced beliefs, religious anger, conspiracy theories, or lobbyist topics? Where do I put my energy? How can I bring my elevated heart rate back down to a trusting place and learn from what I am feeling? How can I learn about myself from my own thought patterns and feelings? After all, they are my own. I stop to consider this, but I come to the conclusion that it’s easier to banter about someone else’s thoughts and feelings and actions and words, than consider my own. So, I fire off a social media post attempting to relieve myself of my own fear on a public platform hoping for validation. I achieve momentary satisfaction from people who agree with me, but am again quickly angered by those who do not agree. The cycle is addicting because it takes me away from the issue; my own heart.

We are only responsible for our own elevated heart rate that could indicate fear, insecurity or anger in the recesses of our heart and mind. Once we feel this elevated emotion ignite, it gives us the ability to locate where we confide our trust. We can change the world one heart at a time if we begin inside our chest.

170907-st-martin-irma-mn-1140_16097ca5c5bf8814cb38d752367c5636.nbcnews-fp-1240-520Grieving people may take offense to this topic being submitted in the twilight of their loss. I am not writing to hurt anyone, but to offer peace. It takes my breath away in deep sorrow for the three people I know who lost someone last week at the hand of evil. There are people grieving today from the loss of their homes from fires, and still others in dire straights from recent disasters. Every person has a different vantage point. People are passion inspired from original stories of their own. It’s helpful to stop and listen; to build relationships while we are here, where you can. You love me and we bond over our similarities, but we can disagree and yet respect our differences. It’s respect of differences that makes us the same.

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We thank God for the ones who were spared
from fire, flood, and gunshot. We thank God when we are spared. And we should be thankful. I struggle with thinking someone was spared only because they had Faith in God. Many who have faith in God are not spared. The Bible speaks loudly to the fact that those who believe are still exposed. So, yes, be thankful for being spared, and for those spared around you. But we already know those who believe will fall along with those who do not believe. Destruction and death leaves us grieving. It hurts, I am not denying that. It seems so cliché to quote the Bible when people are hurting.

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So, we blame God for those who are not spared
. Have you ever been in a relationship where you were forced to love the other person? Sounds toxic and suffocating, doesn’t it? Not much of a relationship if you ask me. Well, if you believe in God, aren’t you glad you aren’t forced to engage, or agree, with Him? From what was etched about the philosophy of God, we are created to act in ‘Free Will’. A ‘Will’ to believe in Him, or not to believe. We have a capacity for good or evil; for thinking. Case-in-point; people choosing to be evil. We are capable of great and wonderful feats of amazement! Just look into the eyes of your child (if you have one), the proof is right in front of you. It may be too much and you decide there is no God. If you don’t believe in God, you may also be glad no one can force you to believe otherwise. At any rate, you may agree that life is precious. We want to point blame when tragedy happens. History is full of sorrowful, sensual, thoughtful and profound acts created by ‘humankind’, and nature alike. The question may forever be asked, ‘why’? This question may never be answered, or then again, the answer may resonate inside of you. The God I know begs you to ask this question, if not to tear down walls and become vulnerable, maybe to find His heart in an answer to your own soul.

vessels-ministry-the-heart-of-god-lightSo, if God is real, then who serves a God who made a human race capable of horrid things? How can nature destroy senselessly? This is a deep conversation; possibly the one that divides faith, religions and belief systems so severely. Who am I to argue with your conviction? I can only tell you what I believe, you may shake your fist indicating, ‘she’s an ignorant believer’. I am a believer. I am a believer in a God who made my Universe; the Divine. I am not a believer in religion, or church, or a denomination. I am a believer in Love. I believe I was made to love. I believe this little light of mine was made to shine. I believe in a God who loves bigger than I can ever express and who granted us faith to trust that His eternal plan is greater than the temporary physical life we sensationalize (literally experiencing with just our 5 senses). I believe that believers die too; sometimes horrid deaths. God is not here to be a magic potion for our human problems. We can’t pray away the Earth’s pangs. We all are subject to physical decay and death, accidents, misuse, abuse, bad choices and so on. I believe when we trust God, we are able to have a solid knowing that life is eternal. We are here to grow with each other, to experience relationship with other humans; to grow our forever spirit. I believe that when evil takes lives, life doesn’t cease to exist. I believe we are far more than physical beings, we are spirits beings. I believe spirits live forever… And in this truth, I hold my hope and trust.

In moments of heighten emotions during tragedies take note of your own heart, breathe and refocus to the most important thing: souls. Take the time to locate your pain, offer compassion to yourself and others. And most importantly, remember that LOVE is still greater.


IMG_2727Bethany Luchetta is a writer of life and love and tragedy. In hopes to connect with the humanity around her, she writes from her heart. Bethany just celebrated 7 years of marriage with her love, Vince Luchetta. They are both on their second marriage. Life has not been without challenge in their personal lives and career lives, yet they strive for growth in love and tragedy. They share three beautiful daughters, Makayla (17), Paige (13), and Livvy Lou (3). If you see them, reach out and say hi!

Table for One

Table for One | by Sonya Finley

I have been single for over 23 years – say what now?! And oh, the stories I could tell – but that, my dear reader, is the subject for another blog.

There are a variety of issues we face every day as single women in the church – raising children alone, managing finances, navigating car repairs, being labeled, ostracized, or even left out.  These issues often have nothing to do with a desire for companionship and/or a physical relationship. However, while there is so much more to living “la vida” single, singles ministries often fall short of providing necessary and practical tools for successful living. Instead we often find that ministries focus on marriage preparation and empowering us with the ability to “just say no” (if you know what I mean). Because of this we often find ourselves feeling uncomfortable, unsatisfied, and ungrateful in our singleness. Subsequently, quite a few of us will spin our wheels, jump through hoops, or “hide ourselves in the Lawd” to find that Godly man that He has prepared just for us.

Single_Ladies_(TV_series)_title_cardBut ladies, what about in the meantime – the time between the hoop jumping and the actual fulfillment of God’s promise to you? How will you approach this stage in which you find yourself?  Don’t have a clue? Do not worry! I offer you ten practical things you can do to live a gratifying life while you just happen to be single (after 23 years, I should, right?).

  1. Accept your situation. You’re single. You are not married. You may not get married in the near future, and there is the possibility you may not get married at all. This may not be the life you dreamt of, but it is the life you have been blessed with. And what a blessing it is – if you pay attention. Tough love coming at you: Spending an excessive amount of time reflecting on past relationships or visualizing your future husband is a subtle form of denial, and an outright refusal to deal with where you are right now. You are single. Deal with it. Press into it. You will find you are right where you need to be.
  2. Be honest about your feelings. Of course, if you are not yet content being single, say that. I give you permission. If you are harboring bitterness or anger because of your situation, admit to it. This is important. We cannot be healed and cannot align ourselves to our situation if we don’t truly admit where we are. If you are not feeling the single life, that’s okay – just don’t stay there. Admit your need and allow God to move on your behalf. Admission brings about the changes needed to walk in freedom.INB-table-plate-FPO
  3. Let go of the fear of being alone. I don’t need to remind you that the Bible speaks against fear. Fear is not of God. Fear is a dangerous thing. Fear will make you allow anything into your life just to have a man. Women with fear stay in bad relationships because “a bad man is better than no man and doing it alone.”  Fear will keep you from realizing what God has in store for you. Trust God’s plan in your life, even if that means being by yourself for a time. You will be okay.
  4. Get a social life – one that does not revolve around service to the church. Yeah, that is what I said. Be honest. Do you have something to do or people to hang out with when nothing has been planned by your local church? No? Well, you should. How many times have you sat at home alone and lonely because nothing was going on at church. Get out and have some fun, gurl! Call a friend from work and go hang out. No friends? Take a Latin dance class or join a Meet-Up group with people of like interests. Fill your life with laughter, fun and friends, and you’ll be surprised how good you feel being single.4
  5. Do not fall for the “Okey Doke”. You are single, and to some, that may be a negative – a shortcoming of sorts. Without meaning to, folks will define you by their negative (or pity filled) reaction to your lack of or desire for a companion, and you may find yourself falling into agreement with their assessment (the Sunken Place). Do not accept the negative labels. Do not be defined by your situation. That is not who you are. Singleness is just your current state, and gurl, it is by no means cause for pity.
  6. Take care of you. Do I really need to spell this out? Do for yourself. Make time for you. And don’t give me excuses about having kids – I raised four, with a job – sometimes two! Although I learned the hard way, I did learn the importance of making time to do for me. I used to take what I called “artist dates” and my sons were trained to understand and respect mommy’s time. That time spent doing something just for me made me feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and re-centered. It empowered me to be the best version of myself and to find beauty and appreciate the life I had.
  7. Stop waiting! Yeah, you over there waiting to start living for when you finally get a man and finally get married. Don’t! Get a move on it. What are you waiting on? And please do not recite the scripture about “waiting on the Lord”. I am pretty sure you sitting around letting life pass you by is not what God had in mind when He inspired that scripture. NOW is the time to do something – anything – that keeps you actively involved in your life.note-to-self-you-gotta-do-this-for-you-this-16404756
  8. Always look your best – from the inside out. (The Fashionista’s words to live by!) Getting your attitude in line will give you a beautiful glow that moves past all the surface stuff. This does not mean you should neglect your outer appearance. Be fierce! Not for the men you think it will attract, but for your own self confidence.
  9. Get your finances together – Now! Don’t wait for a man to come along and rescue you from your debt. Make steps today to get financially secure.
  10. “To thine ownself be true.”  Honor yourself. Do not allow yourself to be belittled or dismissed because you are single. Know what God says about you and walk in that.

No worries, gurl. You got this.

 


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Sonya A. Finley has been living the single life for 24 years. In that time she has raised four awesome young men (James – 26, Kevin – 23, Joshua and Johnathan – 18), graduated from college with a BFA, and began a huge step in her professional career. She is on the verge of a new season in her single life that now focuses on a journey not centered around child-rearing. She has made many mis-steps, learned quite a few bits of wisdom along the way and is happy to share with women who find themselves in the same place.

Light in the Darkness

How God the Father, Protector and Provider, battles for his daughters | By Micaela Krumweide

A couple of months ago, I finished a nine-month discipleship program through my church, during which God revealed my calling. There were three things God explained my calling involved: women, being abroad and fighting spiritually for those in bondage and chaos.

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Toward the end of the program, my pastor announced our church’s partnership with Freedom Challenge and the mission trip to Moldova for a “vulnerable girls’ camp.” This was an exciting opportunity to start working in this calling; however, a worldly reality settled over me—I was already raising money to finance another mission trip in May, so how in the world was I going to raise funds for an even more expensive trip one month later? But that’s just it, isn’t it? It seems quite impossible to raise this money according to the world’s standard, but we do not live according to the world.

So one night I was lying in my bed pondering this possibility, and I heard God’s voice so clearly saying, “Do you trust Me? Do you trust Me financially? Do you trust what I can do? Do you trust Me?” I did not answer, so repeatedly He asked me. I am not quite sure how long it took before I could even answer, until finally I answered “yes.” So I signed up and began the process of raising money, and of course, it all came in—and then some!

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There I was, already seeing God’s hand in this trip. Realizing that this was right, this was what I needed to do, this is where He wants me. So now, it was time to pray for the trip. Somehow, I came across 1 Peter 1:3–9. I kept coming back to this verse, and every time, the words “hope,” “inheritance,” “suffering” and “salvation” remained, fixed in my heart and mind.

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The realization of darkness. When we arrived in Moldova, it was easy to feel the darkness that surrounds this country. There is a lot of corruption, very few jobs and many broken families. People have little money and are not living—merely surviving. Parents and children are abroad making money in other countries, so there’s no money and no family or community. What a terrible tactic of the enemy. We all felt the darkness, and as we began to feel it harder to smile and harder to laugh, we arrived at the girls’ camp. Understandably, the girls were very stoic and hardened, and very few smiled.

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The camp began and games were played, messages were heard and prayers were essential. I could see a covering of that camp, and lightness began to illuminate from the girls. Smiles were everywhere, and laughter was amounting while the Spirit guarded this camp and the fight for victory commenced. The battle that had started within these girls became evident.

One night, we planned to have a time to pray over the girls. They told us about their situations—some had parents abroad or a parent who was an alcoholic, they were taking care of themselves and they grew up too fast. It was clear what the enemy was trying to accomplish—he was robbing their hope, hiding their inheritance, making it hard to see anything but suffering and fighting against their salvation.

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However drained I felt did not matter because I was humbled recognizing that this was not my fight; this was the battle for the Spirit inside me, and it was ready to fight these tactics of the enemy. There was a very clear prayer that kept arising, and I spoke it over every girl I touched. This prayer left my mouth countless times: “May this girl know that she is the daughter of the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, that this is her inheritance, and it cannot be taken away from her. Cover and protect her as she leaves this camp back into her situation.” It was evident that God wanted to defeat the enemy’s strongholds and bring life to these girls.

The final night was the time to deliver the message of salvation. More than ever, it was clear how badly the enemy was fighting to keep these girls in pain and suffering. More than ever, it was clear how badly God wanted to give them freedom, truth and life. At the end of the message there was an altar call. Victories. Hope. Salvation. Peace. Life. Joy. Value. Identity. Love. All of these accomplished!

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The victory! God called me and provided for me so that I could partner with Him and see Him overcome. It’s scary to think of these girls back in their situations after being protected and loved at this camp. But I trust God, and my hope is in God. I saw firsthand the extent to which He fights for these girls. I have no doubt that because of the battle fought at that camp, there have been seeds planted. In these girls, there is a newfound hope, a recognized inheritance, a new perspective of suffering, and the gift of salvation!

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I had the honor of being used to fight and cover these girls (learning lessons of trust and humility along the way), and I trust that God continues to fight and cover them right now as well as all of us. God the Father, Protector and Provider constantly battles for His daughters! Oh how amazing He is!


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Micaela Krumweide is a college student at the University of La Verne who took a year off to do a nine-month Discipleship Program at The Father’s House church in San Marcos, Calif. She is excited to continue missions and partnering with God to fight spiritually for those around her and is awaiting the next step after graduating in two years.

 

Oh How He Loves Me

I knew this girl who saw herself as alone in the world. She thought there must be a God out there somewhere, but He wasn’t going to be bothered with someone like her. He had bigger things and other, more important people to look after. She was flawed, imperfect and broken in so many ways. Carrying scars that would permanently mark her as lost. What she didn’t know was that those same scars that marked her, would one day open pathways to helping others. I also witnessed this lost girl being found by her Heavenly Father and her life being changed forever.

To fully understand her story, you would need to know a little bit more about her. She had always had a caring heart – one that led her to tend to others before herself. She was an overachiever, always trying to gain acceptance and self-worth from those around her. She was successful in anything worldly she set out to do. She was an accomplished athlete and an honor roll student graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree before she was 20. She was on a career fast track. But then her life was hit sideways. She found herself pregnant at 24, unmarried and unattached. To her credit, she decided she would find a way to raise her daughter and support them both. Accepting her fate, she courageously branched out – raising her new baby while at the same time starting a new business venture on her own. Lots of late nights and sleepless days later, she found herself successful in her venture and a good mother, but the deep rooted marks of guilt and no self-worth were still with her. She wasn’t worth it. The “it” being happy, free, loved, cherished, cared for… she was still lost.

A few years later she found herself deeply tangled in a manipulative and abusive relationship. She truly believed that her inadequacy was the cause of the relationship’s dysfunction. She tried to break free many times, but was never strong enough. He would use heavy guilt combined with various fear tactics to always control her. You see, when you feel you are worth nothing, or at best worthy of punishment and repercussions, that’s exactly what you receive and accept. Her life had turned into a series of painful conversations and insane experiences always ending in tears and often in hiding. She was trapped with an addict who was carrying mental disorders and a history of violence with him.  He would tell her that she was the reason he was using and if only she were better he wouldn’t have to.

Deep in a miserable and destructive cycle, she tried everything she could to be “better.” But nothing was ever right – she was never enough. She suffered terrible depression and anxiety. Panic attacks would overcome her when his name appeared on her phone. She knew she had to break free from him, but how? Begging him to leave her and pleading him to let her go – he refused. He would never leave. Desperate, she turned to the only thing she hoped could help her…God. If only she could find a way to become worthy. She started praying, reading, singing. She covered herself in the Word. She posted sticky notes of Scripture verses all around her house. She would walk at all hours of the night listening and singing. Pleading for forgiveness. Begging for help, for she was drowning in a situation that was life threatening.

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At one of the lowest points in this girl’s journey, she was threatened to be killed or to do it herself. She stood in the kitchen weeping, singing “Here Now” with her back turned to him as he approached her with a kitchen knife in his hand. His hatred towering over her like the dark shadow of Satan. The fight was real, just as the Pastor had preached, for she had seen evil face-to-face that night. But in that same moment when she saw the blackness of Satan in his eyes, she experienced the power of her Father’s protection and grace. Just when she thought she couldn’t matter less – that she wasn’t worth it – her Heavenly Father came and claimed her. He covered her and brought to her heart a message that would change her life forever. He loved her! She was always worth saving. He had always been with her. Jesus was holding her hand. She was His. She only had to ask.

So you may be asking yourself who this girl is and how I could have such insight into her story. Truth be told – she was me before I was found. I was the lost girl of this story. I thought I was alone and broken beyond repair. What I never expected was to find that my Father was with me, even at my very worst. He lifted me up as a testimony that He is always with each of us. There is no such thing as too broken. Too ugly. Too torn.

The beautiful thing about our Father is the minute you accept Him, everything changes. My life, although still in turmoil, had hope. God sent into my life the right people who could help me in all the ways I needed. I went through intensive Christian therapy. He started healing my heart and the dirty, foggy lenses I saw the world through cleared. A new family was given to me through The Father’s House. Support came in from all around. Now my situation and self-esteem didn’t all get fixed overnight. But by “leaning in” when my life was in pieces, God not only helped to put me back together, but made me a new creation. One better than I could have ever imagined for myself.

As I continue in my life journey I know Jesus is holding my hand. I wear the armor of God. I’m a living testimony that your Father waits for you to turn to Him and ask. Surrender. Lean in. You will be forever different.

God, help me to know Your love. To meet You as my Father. To know You are always with me. You know all my scars and love me just as I am.   Broken. Thank You for bringing hope and strength to seek the life that You want for me. A life filled with love. AMEN.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bio ShotDomestic abuse is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.

If you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, please consider reaching out for help. There are many resources available including The Father’s House at 760-798-9418. There are always women there who can help and pray with you. Christian counseling, Mitzi Steele with New Growth Counseling comes highly recommended at 760-494-4394, or contact TFH for the names of other qualified counselors in our area. If you are in immediate or eminent danger call 911 or the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

 

Going Home

I have been asked to write about my journey with our beloved Cathey Anderson during her last days and what that experience has taught me. Nobody gets away from the teacher Mrs. Anderson without learning something, am I right?!

To do this, however, I need to go back in time to 1998 when Cathey and I first met. Actually, Allen and I met Cathey’s husband Mark first at Forest Home during a summer Family Camp Estate Planning talk. We were living in Rancho Penasquitos at the time at the end of a cul-de-sac on a very suburban-sized lot. My husband traded some work on the Anderson’s home for Mark’s help with a Trust. Allen and I were happy campers living in Rancho Penasquitos: the kids had tons of friends and we had good neighbors. We were very content. But Allen would come back from having been to the Andersons’ home in Valley Center with this “hospitality on steroids” high. A few months passed and the “kingdom contagiousness” of the Anderson’s was all over us. God moved on our hearts and pretty soon we were opening escrow on three acres in Valley Center.

Talk about feeling vulnerable in a new place! I had one name for all three spaces on the kid’s school emergency contact cards: Cathey Anderson. I hardly knew her, but that would soon change. She and Mark made sure of it. I found myself asking, “Who are these people that flow with such enthusiasm and life like the call of the sea to a sailor’s heart? Who could beckon others to “come and see” with such ease, causing them to do what they would not normally do otherwise?” Friends of Jesus, that’s who.

When we arrived in Valley Center, Mark was there to unload our U-Haul and Cathey soon became the “other mother” to my oldest daughter. We joined a church plant in which they were involved and where we met most of our life’s greatest friends. We went through many hard times together including fires and deaths of students, as well as good times like Egg Day and Ag Day and Western Days. Cathey helped my kids birth pigs and raise chickens. She even grew grapes on the hillsides around her home. When it was time, we helped her prune, pick and stomp grapes to make our own wine. There was ever a dull moment with the Andersons.

Mark and Cathey lived to give extravagantly. Mark took Cathey up Mount Whitney and helped her overcome her fear of heights. When she later got her vision for the Freedom Climb, he supported her while she helped others overcome their fears. They modeled their gifts and talents in all aspects of their lives. I learned a lot along the way, watching them for the past 17 years. Before my eyes they lived these verses in John 15: 12-14:

“This is My commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.”

They knew the love of Christ and they loved others likewise. I thought they lived a surrendered and sacrificial life before Cathey’s diagnosis. But what I learned from them was even more: how to live for Christ, “as unto death.”

Our Life Group was there with Cathey during the diagnosis, diets and chemo drugs; the pain and Pic Lines and all the prodding; surgeries and sticks and suffering with the after-effects of it all. And yes, there were times of tears. We heard Cath tell of getting to the brink of hope and meeting the Holy Spirit in the depths of the dark night. We heard her in the pit of her physical pain. We heard her when she was brave, bare and raw. Mark was her pillar of strength, faithfully holding it together and they showed us how to live for Christ and die for Christ. I think the saddest words I ever heard her speak were, “the doctor says I will have this drain in my side for the rest of my life.” She was resigned to the will of God. She wanted to believe the prayers would heal her, and ultimately they did, but unto a better healing than just a physical one.

Once she rounded that corner in her mind, once the reality of her “homegoing” set in, she resolved to show us how to die with dignity, the same dignity with which she lived. Don’t get me wrong: she was “fully human.” She struggled to understand a Lord who did not live up to her expectations, but she was Christ’s friend, so she prayed and read herself out of the pit that can be dug with the lie that God is somehow not good, is a withholding God, is one to pull the rug out from underneath us so we should doubt Him. She resigned herself to heaven, and then she lived fully to teach others that this mountain, Cathey’s Mountain, was one she would summit well. Once she wrapped her head around the trail Jesus was taking her on, she couldn’t wait for heaven. She showed us how to fight a good fight, but more than that, she was going to show us all how to end well.

If you attended Cathey’s Celebration of Life you saw she left no detail undone. She made it special for everyone. Her fingerprints were all over it: teacher and kingdom farmer, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. Some were even “born again” by the preaching of the Gospel message she made sure was given. That’s a friend of Jesus. That’s “Palace Style.”

Joann Hummel told it best when she recounted a story that day we gathered to celebrate Cathey’s life. She was on a Freedom Climb with Cath, Kilimanjaro. Joann had gotten very sick. Cathey, seeing that Joann could not keep going, arranged for her to get off the mountain on the back of a pony. As she was descending, Joann turned around. Unbeknownst to her there was Cathey following behind that pony on foot, “making sure I got home” I believe were Joann’s words.

I had the immense privilege to “make sure Cathey got home” her last night. It was not hard. Cath and Mark, and really, their whole family, had shown me how to do it, how to surrender as a friend of Jesus. It was easy to follow in their footsteps.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_3375I’m a wife of twenty-five years, married to Allen, my high school pen pal whom I met at Young Life camp in 1976. We were crowned king and queen that week but took 14 more years to make us man and wife. I’m Mamma to three of my greatest joys in life: my beautiful daughters Kelly, Karrie and Erin. I’m YaYa to equally beautiful joys: my grandbabies Hartleigh, Saila and Navy and the one-on-the-way, the mystery babe who is due on my birthday this year. I’m a nurse by career and calling for the last thirty-four years which makes me “seasoned” with many “smile lines.” Who am I? I am a lover, friend and child of God, and blessed to be a Daughter of The Father’s House.