Remember and Celebrate

July 19, 2015

To my Sons

A letter written to my sons on Mother’s Day.

my three sons

Yeah, I know it is July and way past Mothers’ Day.

Family Photo Shoot

Today, May 9, 2015,  I celebrate my 33rd Mother’s Day.
Three sons
Three Daughters in Law
Ten  grandchildren
And one husband who started it all with me.

“Be a mother” was #3 on my dream list.

#1 was “Get Engaged.”
Solitare diamond with gold band required

#2 was to “Get Married.”

wedding party

It was all about a summer wedding with bridesmaids standing beside me in pastels, except we got married in December and the pastels turned into dark avocado green velvet and lemon yellow chiffon.  Not to worry.  It was 1970 and we were in style.

#3 on my list – I wanted to be a MOM.  I could hardly stand the wait for G. to get out of seminary.

And on May 13, 1973, I celebrated my first Mother’s Day.

Scott, you made me a mother.   Amazed by you, I simply sat and looked at you in between wondering if you were eating enough (you were) and figuring out if I should rock you when you ate. Grandma said it was OK.  (It was.)  And my love was deep and strong and fierce.

Gerald, you were born only 19 months later because Jeanie and Lee Williams (Iowa) said it was good to have your kids close together.  I forget why.  It turned out to be a good idea for us.  I was afraid I didn’t have enough love for two babies.  You taught me I did..  And my love for you was deep and strong and fierce.

 Todd, by the time you were born, I already knew my fierce mother-love was not limited by the number of children I had and I loved you deeply, strongly and fiercely.  I was more relaxed  by this time and early on your brothers entertained you.

Sometimes I was afraid.
What were we doing, bringing you into such a confused world.  “Perhaps  they will grow up to be people who make a difference,” your Daddy said.

He was right.  You are making a difference.
And I love you with a fierce love.

There was one more big dream.

# 4 – be a Grandma

You grew up,  became husbands and fathers and fulfilled my dream.

ff 2

And I was pretty sure the same fierce mother-love, unlimited by the number of children I had, would be enough for being the grandmother of how ever many grandchildren I would have.

 It is.
Fierce:  (of a feeling, emotion, or action) showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity)

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I am linking this week with
Lisha Epperson and Give Me Grace Community
Kelly Chripczuk and Small Wonder Community 


June 2, 2015

Summer Camp, A Tree, A Lake & A Knowing

It seems I have taken an unintended Sabbatical.  (You can read my last post by clicking HERE.)  I am excited to be back here in this writing space.    

lake opeka

Recently my counselor suggested I remember a time/place where I felt Jesus present with me and to stay in that place.  I knew right away what it would be.  So I took myself to my lake, sat under my willow tree  and wrote as I remembered (because if I don’t write –I’d soon be making to do lists)

Summer Camp, A Tree, A Lake & Knowing
written May 21, 2015

I remember all of it.
The campground tabernacle
Up on the hill behind me
The tree where I sat
The lake with the pier
The wooden floating raft beckoning me
I had to pass a swimming test
Before I could answer the call.
(which I passed with my
flailing arms/kicking legs
self-taught technique.)

“Find a quiet place
to be with God
my camp counselor said to us. .

Being a lover of nature,
it’s not surprising I soon found
my pony-tailed, 6th grade,
first-time-at-camp self
under the tree
by the lake.

Bible beside me
study guide in my lap
pencil in hand,
filling in the blanks.

And suddenly God was real
I knew that I knew
It was all true, all of it.
God sending Jesus.
Jesus dying
Jesus rising from the dead
For me.

Mostly I remember Jesus’ presence.
And a knowing
Under the tree,
By the lake.

* * *

And today, my 67-year-old, grown-up self makes a connection I have never made before.

I have always remembered this summer camp experience as the summer of 6th grade

And it was in the spring of 6th grade my little brother died
one morning
at home
with no warning

And if God met me then.
And it was all true then
It’s true now.

Tears come as I sense your presence
Leaning into your strength
Your gentleness
I put my head on your shoulder
as my grown-up 67-year-old self
relaxes in your love
sitting under the tree
with a journal
and a pen
beside the lake.


Linking with

“A Small Wonder” & “Give Me Grace Community”



December 16, 2014

Missing Baby Jesus


Last year we started the tradition (doing it the second time makes it a tradition, right?) of hiding the Baby Jesus from the nativity sets I have around the house and having the children find them, bringing them back to the Nativity set. 

Then the children listen to Grandpa “read” the Luke 2 Christmas story. 


I say read in quotes because no one can paraphrase a story quite like grandpa, complete with mis-information to make sure the little ones are listening and they always are, happily correcting him!

This year Grandpa was helping set up the nativity sets and didn’t realize this one didn’t have a baby at all.  


Having a Nativity set without a Baby Jesus would be a good reminder for us, we thought, of what the world might be like if Jesus had never come. We left it up.  

That evening as we celebrated an early Christmas, we challenged the grandchildren think about it. 

Their faces were sober.
One of them pronounced it “Bad.”   

Seemingly unable to bear the thought,
6 ½ year old Ella
grabbed one of Grandpa’s hats
loudly proclaiming
“I think it would be great if a cowgirl
 walked came into the room.”


And soon everyone had joined in the fun.


joined the fun hats


At first I thought,
“Hey. . .This is serious stuff, kiddos.”

And then I smiled:
They believe.
Without  hesitation they
accept the Story of God
entering into our world.

Immanuel,  God with us.

And I prayed they would always believe the importance of HisStory and why He came. 


P.S.  When Grandpa read the story, he “read” there were Cowboys watching their cattle  by night. . . . . Busted!


Joining a little late with
Lisha Epperson, GiveMeGrace community
& Beth Hess with  Unforced Rhythms



November 8, 2014

The most wasted of days is the one without laughter!

Remembering my brother,
Gordon Eugene Longenecker,
on the 9th anniversary
of his death at age 49.

Nephew Scott and his wife, Jill and Nephew Todd laughing about what was probably one of those “Gordonion” moments, things that could only happen to or be said by or done by Gordon

 Nov. 6th I wrote about The Gift of Fall in a Season of Grief.
Today I continue the remembering with smiles.  

It’s been  nine years since losing him and it seems like a good time to remember the Gordon we all loved and who drove all of us slightly crazy at some time or another.

Over 500 people attended the memorial service  to  remember and honor their friend.  The photos in this post were taken the day before his memorial service as we made a list that would be the basis for what Galen would  share the the Memorial service as a family tribute.


gordon stories
As we gathered with our families, Galen asked us to think of the words that come to mind as we thought about Gordon and these are some of the words we thought of!

*  Stitches, of the Emergency Room type.   (LOTS of them)

*  Comfortable with people and engaged easily with them.  (He never met a stranger)

*  Interested in everything and had an opinion about it all.

*  Very verbal and gregarious with a wacky sense of humor

*  Loyal –   Lois Jones, his Mother-in-law elaborates:    “He’d see things that needed fixing and  would do them for me, but often got the wrong thing from the store first, before he actually got the right thing and fixed it!”

*  When he needed to figure out a job, he’d lay on the couch with a pad of paper and pencil and stare at the ceiling until he figured it out.

*  He insisted on doing things right and wanted things to be visually pleasing, taking the extra time it took.  He wasn’t a duct tape kind of guy!

Wife Carol and Daughter Megan, Bob, Carol’s brother and nephew Gerald

Accident prone

*  Got a fish hook caught in his eyelid, sitting in his truck, trying to get it out of the seatbelt, where it had gotten caught!

*  Fell off a ladder while he was at work when Carol was pregnant with their daughter Megan, and needed stitches on his head. Drove himself to the hospital and then called her to tell her!

*  A window fell on top of him and he called his mother from the ER, (after he drove himself there) to tell her he’d get to use that hospitalization she had just signed up for.

*  Broke his leg the first time he went skiing

*  Broke his arm playing in one of his first Little Guy Football games.

*  And one of the funniest “accidents” –   One day he was cleaning a fish over the kitchen sink with the disposal running so it would grind up the scales as he cleaned it…However, when he dropped the fish, down it went into the running disposal – fish fillet!


NO ONE loved a joke and a good laugh more than my brother and he had one  for every occasion, every phone call with the family and anytime he was with a friend.  My  dad told me the morning of his death he would miss those phone calls, which always ended with a joke, often lame, but you just had to laugh.  for example:

*  Two cannibals were eating a clown. The one cannibal said to the other: “Does this taste funny to you?

*  A man went to a psychiatrist and said “I’m a wigwam. I’m a teepee. I’m a wigwam. I’m a teepee.”  And the psychiatrist said “Relax! You’re too tense (tents!)”. I can just still hear Gordon telling that joke. It was one of his better ones! Shared by Carol, his wife


A few of the things Gordon would say and do:

*  “I understand, but I disagree with you!” He had unique phrases for every situation – always a new one, so they never got old.  He loved telling  a story and every time he told it, the story was longer and more elaborate.

*  Loved to learn and talk about anything, especially off-the-wall topics, cell phones, his GPS, computer, how to paint (he was a painting contractor) and sports of any kind.

*  He loved his church and his church  soft ball league. He and one of this friends were the “old guys and he had recently started to play squash with a new friend.

*  Galen, his brother in law, said when they played golf together, Gordon never got upset by a bad game because each hole was a new adventure and a chance to redeem his game.  He rarely kept score.

Living out and communicating his faith:

One of the things I loved most was hearing  how Gordon communicated his faith.  One of his friends, Keith, added these comments a few years later as Carol and I visited with him at a coffee shop in Billings:

“When talking to me about God before I was a Christ follower (and I am one because of him)  he never preached, or quoted scriptures.  He told stories.  And would often play devil’s advocate.  He would ask questions like “what if. . . why . . . have you ever thought . . .”  and then he’d jump up and say “I’ve got to go,” again, leaving you thinking.”  For over two years Keith said Gordon  was his “spiritual mentor” and it is because of him he is a Christian husband, father, business man.”

* * * * *

I miss you.

I am beyond grateful God answered my seven year-old prayer for a baby brother.

I”ll always love you, Little Brother.



November 6, 2014

The Gift of Fall in a Season of Loss

fall low res this one

“First you pursue us with blood maples and tease with your decadent, hazy light. Then you weave through the woods like the scent of decay that surrounds us with every step. Light bathes from above, so plentiful that not even the blood maples or the honey oaks can soak it all up before it overflows the canopy, spilling priceless gold onto the crunchy floor.”  Kelli Woodford, Chronicles of Grace, Oct. 20, 2014 – read it here– A Fall Song

These words of Kelli Woodward, a blogger I read regularly,  paint a picture of my favorite season, helping me connect two things I know to be true about me in the fall.  Until now I just viewed them as two unrelated facts.

1.  I am and have always been enchanted by the beauty of fall. Sometimes it takes my breath away, leaving me speechless with it’s beauty.
2.  For me, fall is a season of remembering, sometimes with tears of sorrow,  sometimes with tears of joy

As  you can see in the pictures below,  many of my family  anniversaries and/or birthdays come in the fall.

family fall

I made the following comment on her blog that  day  and  I began to see the connection between the two things I know to be true about me int he fall.

I wrote:

“The burst of beauty makes fall a bitter sweet time for me.  I have always loved it and it is also a season of remembering those I have lost as most of the anniversaries/birthdays are in the fall season, starting August through Christmas Day (my mom’s birthday).  Gratefully I still love it.  I am beginning to see a gift in all of this.  A season of remembering which sometimes brings times of sadness is also a time of great beauty. I hadn’t thought of it before that way before.  I like this thought.  I will ponder this gift.”

And so I pondered over and over these last two weeks.  And over coffee the other day, my friend Denise and I talked about how Fall coinciding with a “season of so much loss” is God’s grace and sweet gift  to me in this season of contrasts.      Sorrow and joy mingle, and I am not left with only sorrow in the Fall.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Today, nine years ago today, at 9:30 pm, I received the news that my brother, Gordon, failed to meet his hunting partner as they had planned and he was missing.  Thirty four hours later I would learn he was found, but had succumbed to hypothermia.

And I remember amid the waning  beauty of this season.


christmas mountain

Linking with Kelli Woodford and Chronicles of Grace

Linking with Lisha Epperson and GiveMeGraceCommunity


October 22, 2014

The Sun vs. The Fog

sun does it's magic

May the Light of Your Son 
through the fog 
that forms
for me
and for those I love.


Linking this week with
Kelli Woodword and Unforced Rhythms
Lisha Epperson and Give Me Grace Community


October 12, 2014


My friend asked  me to pray for her that she would be a blessing to the people she was going to be with today.

Praying for her as I arrived at the lake, this sight greeted me.  I snapped a photo and sent it to her with the following message:

The “stiller” you are, the more you will reflect His presence.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As always, your comments are welcome here

Linking with .Lisha Epperson and “Give Me Grace”
Kelli  Woodford and Unforced Rhythms


October 6, 2014

Through Your Eyes to Mine

red mums
You and I were taking our first stroll through Botanic Gardens since my knee replacement surgery and it was like old times!  As we always do after we walk out of the visitors center, we swung right to walk down to the water through the Ellipse with it's brilliantly colored mums contrasting with the boxwood hedges. It's fall at the Garden.  I am glad we didn't miss it! 

Down by the water, we noticed the mostly red and a little bit of green plant life on the water’s surface.  I hadn’t seen this before.    

“Take a close up of the red and green on the water." I said.  

chicago botanic gargen

“Oh, now take one that shows more perspective or we’ll never remember what this was.”  

chicago botanic gargen

"I think it’s kind of like life," I said.  
"You know when I’m in the middle of it all, 
and I can’t see 
how this is going to fit 
in with the rest of my life
and have NO perspective . . .
And I need someone like you  
to help me see the bigger picture.

And then I got to thinking today about how sometimes I’m not ready to hear another perspective. 
It makes me feel like you are trying to fix me, so I’ll feel better and you’ll feel better.

Sometimes the best you can do is “be with me” and believe for me until I can begin to believe again.  

And Honey, you have gotten really good at that.

We're both learning together and I love being on this journey of life with you.

Love, Me


As always your comments/thoughts are welcomed here.

joining with Unforced Rhythms & Kelli Woodward  - And excellent post today "Pain as a Bridge."  Take time to read it.  You'll be blessed.


September 4, 2014

Courage and Earthly Things

Nick Kelsh photography

Nick Kelsh photography

It’s  19 days “post op”  (from Knee Replacement Surgery) and this is the picture and scripture that I kept before me during these days.  

God does show up in the earthly things.  I have learned more about myself and I suspect some of that learning will show up in future posts.  

God has been with me each step I have taken and in each  reluctant muscle stretched.  

The brain fog seems to be lifting and I feel like I am coming back.

I am grateful for my husband who took on the care-giving role once again as well friends and family who stood by me during these days with  meals, notes, and phone calls and listened to me on the days it all seemed too much. 


(Join me on Facebook.  I'll be glad to see you there.)
Linking with Lisha Epperson, Give Me Grace


August 17, 2014

Earthly things like surgery and God’s Voice

Neither did you know where it would go.  I did.

“There is no time, no place, no event
so earthly that God cannot be there,
speaking through them.

These moments
where earth is crammed

with heaven. . .
will go unnoticed|
unless we realize the meek
and the unassuming way that|
God characteristically comes.”

Ken Gire, Windows of the Soul
Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1996, 44)

 With this quote the liturgist  opens up our “time of silence” this morning. 

 And I  can’t help but think that having Total Knee Replacement surgery tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM is right up there with being “earthly.” 

 And I want to pay attention to hear what God will speak during these next days/weeks of rehab and recovery. 

 It’s been easy to think this is just something to grit my teeth and get through (the gritting of the teeth is probably more real than I can imagine right now!) so I can get to the other side of this and “move on” with my life. 

 And today the preacher reminds us God speaks into our ordinary lives in extra-ordinary ways and we will hear if we listen. 

 Pray with me that I will be able to hear.

 Thanks for visiting here today and as always I love hearing from you in the comments below.

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I enjoy replying to your comments and answer them right here.  Click on the little box that says “notify me of follow up comments” and you’ll receive a notice by email when I reply.  That might take a little longer this week!

Linking with Lisha Epperson and Give Me Grace Community