Remember and Celebrate

October 20, 2010

The “October-it’s-almost-November” Feeling

Gordon E. Longenecker 1/6/1956 - 11/08/2005

Gordon E. Longenecker
1/6/1956 – 11/08/2005

Today, I share words I jotted down a few Octobers after the November 8th anniversary of Gordon’s death. For the first few years, this time of year just kind of caught up with me before I “remembered.” Now I know . . . I welcome and plan for this time of remembering by building in some “traditions.” (I am big on “traditions in case you don’t already know!)

One of my good friends has a scrapbooking retreat the first weekend in November, so I give myself that day – just to enjoy the thing I enjoy most.   And on the actual anniversary, I meet for coffee with a friend who is my “substitute” little brother. (Thanks Brian!)

God . . .
I’m unsettled . . . edgy
feelings of tension mark my days
Why Lord?
I’ve been doing “so well.”
I’ve been more at peace . .
my grief less overwhelming.

And then I remember . . .
Another anniversary approaches
the day that divides my life into
“Before” & “After.”
My soul knows . . .
what my mind
has been too busy
to acknowledge.

It’s good to remember,
To give myself time
 to grieve from this vantage point.

Each year the remembering is the same.
The intensity of the feelings change.
I never know how they will be.

I will continue to remember.
It is a good thing.

And for those who love me . . .
It feels good for me to let you know
I am remembering
in a more focused way
than I remember on most days.

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October 7, 2010


Written August 20, 2010
“To be “pre-occupied” means to fill our time and place long before we are there. This is worrying in the more specific sense of the word. It is a mind filled with “what if . . . “. When we are preparing for eventualities, we seldom fully trust the moment.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen Making All Things New, (An Invitation to the Spiritual Life) p. 25, 26

Lord, I’ve been “preoccupied” lately.
Perhaps this is contributing to my restlessness.
It certainly is not contributing to my peace!

And last night as we gently rocked on the swing
in the cool night breezes.
the “what if . . . .” question took over.
How different it would have been had we talked
instead about “What IS . . . .”

A quiet summer evening
in our back yard sanctuary
lovingly created and tended by my husband.
Sitting in Mom and Dad’s swing
a reminder of their love and care for us.
Seven grandchildren with one more on the way!
Grandchildren who are already hiding
Your word in their little hearts . . .
Friends who nurture us . . .
love us as we are
and still challenge us to
stay the course . . .
Evidences of our own personal growth
and a better-than-ever 40 marriage
Hugs from little ones
and not-so-little ones anymore
and sloppy kisses. . .
Even a house withOUT a renter
and the challenge to trust . . .
“Enough . . . .” of material things . . .

Lord, thank you for this reminder.
Help me remember to “occupy”
not “preoccupy”
until You come!

Matthew 6: 30-34 The Message: (notice the word “preoccupying” below!)
30-33: “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.


September 20, 2010

Solitude, Disciplines and Airplanes


Airplane lined up for runway at O'hare Airport, 7/25/10

“A spiritual discipline is necessary in order to move slowly from an absurd (Latin word for ‘deaf’) to an obedient (‘listening’) life . . . from a life filled with noisy worries to a life in which there is some inner space where we can listen to our God and follow His guidance.”

As I was reading this, I looked up and saw an airplane on approach to the runway. That in itself is not usual; I was sitting at the Lake, about a mile from the airport, but this morning, the approach was unusual. Normally I would not have noticed an airplane headed to the runway…but this one was flying right toward me – well, toward the airport.

I believe God used the out-of-the-ordinaryt flight plan that day to capture my attention. I didn’t have my camera and I have not seen that approach being used since, but I did go back a few days later and get a picture of a plane headed to the airport – I wanted to “Remember and Celebrate” what God taught me! Maybe some day I’ll be at the Lake and see that original approach again. I hope so!

Just a few days later, right before our National Creative Memories convention began, I was at a friend’s home, for the evening, anticipating some quiet time in the morning before the happy “madness” begins. As I meditated on these words once again, I was struck once more that this kind of life requires intentionality!

And I wrote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

God, I know this: 
      but I need to be reminded.
You give insights and guidance.
But for me to receive this guidance,
I need to be quiet.
Lord, I am going to convention . . .
      noise and happy confusion
      from the time I hit the place . . .
      non -stop for three 1/2 days.
And I know I must
      plan for . . .
      head into . . .
      set my sights on . . .
      finding quiet moments.
            just like this airplane,
            lining up for the runway
            long before it gets there.
Dear Carol,
I love it when you plan for times with me.

You have changed me in so many ways,
Help me pay attention to how I show up this week.

My dear Carol, I will,
      but you have to give me focused time!
Shirley says you can always
      find a closet!
Look for it!

Thank you Lord!

Added note: I did find a rather unusual “closet,”  but that’s for another time!


September 12, 2010

Birthdays are for Remembering

Ronald Verle Longenecker 9/12/1957-5/5/1960

If this is the first time you are reading my blog, take a moment to read “my story” (see above) which will help you understand the context of my entries on this blog

Today I am thinking about
a brown-eyed little boy –
born 53 years ago today –
I think about what he would have been as an adult!
I only knew him 2 1/2 years –
too little time to really know . . .
I  remember eyes sparkling with life,
full of mischief.
I think he would have been
more tall than short . . .
still have his brown eyes
and brown hair . . .
And we’d call him Ron, instead of Ronnie!
I miss him on days like today –
I imagine he and Gordon are “playing” together once again.
Someday I will “play” with them too.

Feeling tender, a little sad and happy that I had him in my life!
And grateful for  the love of friends who have become like family to me!!


September 6, 2010

Making A Way

August 2000, Alaska

As I supported and cared for a friend who had lost her son, I also was comforted as I thought of how God had been with me.  I sent the following to her:

In the summer of 2000, Somewhere in Alaska, we took this picture. As I looked at it one day years later, I thought of how someone had to cut through this mountain to create this road.

And then I thought about how God has been there, helping us cut through our mountain of grief – and on to the other side.

And not only God, but those who have walked this road with us . . .

My prayer, dear friend, is that you will continue to experience God’s grace as you journey through this grief.


September 2, 2010

Waiting . . .

Waiting . . .

July 5, 2008 – Our Backyard, Des Plaines, IL

Waiting . . .
I picture myself
sitting here at my picnic table,
waiting for you to show up. . .
And I realize I have it backwards. .
You’re always here.
It’s me that needs to show up!


August 30, 2010

To Those Who Would Comfort Me

Just a few days ago, someone told me her friend’s brother died and we talked about how to comfort someone who has lost someone they love. I wrote this back in the fall of 2006 about a year after Gordon died of hypothermia, lost in the mountains of Montana.

To Those Who Would Comfort Me

Don’t tell me you know how I feel
even if you have lost your brother!
You didn’t lose mine.

Don’t tell me how I will grieve,
even if you’ve journeyed through grief.
Your grief is not my grief.
Your journey is not my journey.
Instead, let me tell you how I feel.
Then hold me as I weep.

Don’t tell me God is Sovereign.
I know that.
Give me time to believe it once again
for myself . . .
for this time in my life.

Don’t ask me if I’m glad
my brother is in heaven.
Of course I am glad he’s in HEAVEN.
But right now I want him here with me.
And don’t talk to me yet of all the things
he is experiencing there.
I miss him too much for that to comfort me.

Someone wrote:
“For the believer, grief is not
about the one who has died.
It’s about the ones
who are left behind
who must redefine their lives
without the one they love.”
This will take time.

Don’t casually quote Romans 8:28. *
I believe that too,
but I need time to internalize it
for myself.
in this situation.
This too takes time.

God, Thank you!
for the people in my life,
who walk beside me on this journey,
allowing me to travel
at the speed I can manage,
And cheer for me when I make it to
another milestone
they knew I would reach all along.

* Romans 8:28 (New International Version)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.


August 24, 2010

Breath Prayer – A Gift to A Friend who is Grieving

Marathon Key, Florida Sept. 2007

After my only brother suddenly died,
I learned the value of a “breath prayer.”
A breath prayer is what you pray
when you can’t pray . . .
when you have no words. . .
when your emotions are so ragged,
you can’t even form words.

My breath prayer was
“God, I need to hear from you.”
I prayed this prayer over and over
until I “heard.”

I offer my breath prayer to you
if you need one.
August 2010 Note – One day, a couple years later I realized my breath prayer was changing. Often I prayed “Jesus, I just want to be with you.” I still use both breath prayers.

Page from “Remember and Celebrate” – A Creative Memories Storybook Sample of my writing.

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August 16, 2010

A Grandson’s Delight



My Grandson . . . . . . . . . .  
He delights in my presence.
He watches for me to come,
     and runs to meet me at the door.
Or sometimes he waits
     until I come in the door,
     then runs across the room,
     flies into my arms,
     giving me big hugs
     and one of our own special,
          name-brand waterproof kisses.

He loves me.
He thinks I am wonderful.
I don’t have to do anything
except “show up.”
He just seems to want me!
God, I want to delight in you,
as Jake delights in me.
I know You already delight in me .

C.S. Lewis says “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses, but completes the enjoyment. Complete my enjoyment of you, Dear God

(visual created with StoryBook Creator Plus Software) 



August 11, 2010

The Dance

The Dance - July 2008

The Dance – July 2008

written July  2008, 2 years ago:  God, there is so much change and growth going on in my life. You are helping me understand myself better. Sometimes I get tired of the energy it takes to continue growing. And that is where I was yesterday as I sat by the Lake:

Yesterday the grasses danced in the wind.
They did not resist nor did they fight .
They danced a graceful dance . . .
     gently swaying, dipping
     and then suddenly changing direction
     all in response to the wind.

Today the dance is much gentler . . . 
     The wind is gentler.
At first the grasses look fragile . . .
     as if they could break . . .
     as if they have no mind of their own.
Then I see - each blade is strong.
Its strength lies in its ability to
     bend and sway
     all in response to
     the wind.
Lord, You speak to me through this dance.
I am calmed. . .
     enchanted by the
     grace-filled movement.
I want the "true me". . .  
     the one you created
     to dance.

I cannot forsake this journey.
I must continue.
Lord, let me be full of grace
     bringing calm and sweet peace
     to those who watch me dance
     in response to your Holy Spirit.

Help me uncover the "true self" . . .
     the one you created me to be.
And then shed the "false self"
     the one that works so hard
      to preserve its image.

Help me pay attention
     to YOU . . .
     the one who made me.

And let the true me dance.

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