Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tribute to Nana

(Here is something I posted 5 years ago. I can't believe Nana has been gone that long already. So many things I still wish I could share with her.)

The first memories I have of you were the visits we made when you and Grandpa lived in Libby, Montana. I loved seeing all of Grandpa’s rocks, eating your yummy pies, and feeling your warm hugs. At some point in time you both moved in with us and started the life of trekking back and forth between Montana and Georgia. 
One of my favorite pastimes throughout all the years was talking to you. At any given time of any day, your door was open to whoever came knocking. There was no secret that I ever kept from you, no fear that I didn’t share with you, and no joy that you weren’t one of the first that I wanted to tell it to. 
We spent year after year together, including one winter in the snow banks of Montana, a car accident, heart breaks, laughs, playing games, and so much more. When I was nine years old I was trying to decide what instrument I wanted to learn when you told me you had always wanted one of your grandchildren to play the violin. After weighing the options, that one came out far above the rest and I began the long, torturous journey of learning the violin. Day after day, week after week, you would faithfully listen to me squeak and squawk. It was on Mothers’ Day Sabbath that I played my first special music, your favorite hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, with you and Phoebe. 
Your favorite place to be was with young people, whether it was visiting us at Oklahoma Academy, Southern, going to orchestra concerts, or cheering at a Triathlon. You were “nana” to all my friends and made them feel like your own grandchildren. Whether you were quietly observing in a corner or sharing words of encouragement to a downcast friend, you were always an active part in my life. 
You said you wanted to live until Phoebe and I got married. I told you that you could pick my husband like Abraham’s servant did for Isaac, but you turned down the offer, assuring me that God would help me make that decision. 
My greatest fear about going as a student missionary this year to the Philippines was that something would happen to you while I was gone, and I know that you feared the same thing. You didn’t want to let me go, but you wouldn’t have wanted me to do anything different. The most important thing to you was to know that I was working for God. 
I was in my hut on Sunday morning in the mountains when I first found out you were in the hospital. I didn’t know what to think, but from what I heard you were responding well to the medications and would likely be back home in a couple days. Monday night I got the news that you were getting worse instead of better like they expected. Mom asked me if I wanted to come home—I didn’t want to think that you were actually sick enough that it would be necessary.  The next morning I talked to mom again and realized that you were really not going to last much longer and I couldn’t believe it. Tuesday afternoon I began the hike out of the mountains. Wednesday I made it to the lowlands, drove four hours to the capital, and flew to the main island where I spent the night. I was in the hotel late that night when I found out that you had died. You had died. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I was never going to feel your warm hug again. Never again would I feel your soft hands. You could never again tell me how much you loved me. I could never play my violin with you accompanying me on the piano again. Never again could I come to you with my tears and joys. No more would your prayers go before God’s throne on my behalf. I slept about three hours that night and began the 24-hour series of flights home. 
I keep thinking that you will come in the door and sit down to play the piano. I keep thinking the phone will ring and I will hear your voice on the other end. But it’s not going to happen. You are sleeping peacefully in the grave right now, and the next thing that you will see is the face of Jesus. As the tears flow down my face and my heart breaks, I can’t help but praise God. For one, I have the assurance that I will see you very soon when Jesus comes again. Also, there are not very many people that have the privilege of loving someone as deeply as I loved you. You were the most patient, kind, thoughtful, and selfless person that I have ever met. Thank you for reflecting God’s character to me. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for loving me.   

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dear Mom...

Dear Mom,

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since your beloved husband and our adored daddy passed away. One year ago today, we were holding Dad’s hands when he took his last breath. The two months leading up to that day were some of the most difficult, yet most precious moments of my life—watching Dad choke down his milk chocolate Ensure because he couldn’t down anything else, trying to get rid of his constipation, helping him fix his pillow just perfect because he couldn’t raise his arms to fix it himself, helping him to the rocking chair, to the bed, and back again, getting up with him at night to help him use the bathroom or take more pain medicine, reading him stories,
catching a glimpse of what it’s like to come to grips with the thought of missing out on the lives of your children and grandchildren, talking about life, love, and future plans, seeing the intense pain in his eyes due to the bone cancer even though his words were only praises to God, …. Somehow I thought Dad would always be there to put his strong arms around me and tell me, “You’re my favorite ___ year old." That he would always be there to wake me up in the morning with a kiss and a cheerful voice saying, “It’s the first day towards the Sabbath! Have you spent time with your Best Friend, Jesus today?” I always thought Dad would be there to share his corny jokes, his passionate mission stories, his words of wisdom. I thought he would be there to get to know any potential interests and give his input, to walk me down the isle, and even to train my children how to really work. But no… Now he is gone. He is resting in the grave until Jesus comes. I’ll never forget those last couple agonizing days, watching him labor for every breath. Yet, somehow he had peace on his face. He was ready to go. He told me he was ready to go. I know he was ready to go.

We have now made it through our first year without Dad. There have been ups and downs. There have been some laughs, but many tears. Our tendency as humans is to question God’s character when facing difficulties. The only time we say “God is good” is when we find our keys or someone is healed of their terminal illness. But who are we to be exempt from the heartaches of this sinful world? Do we judge God based off of the circumstances around us? I choose to praise God for the loss of Dad. It doesn’t take away the pain I feel or diminish how much I miss him. It simply shows that I trust God because I know Him. I know that God gives strength for every trial and that one day sin and sorrow will be no more. Dad is safe in the arms of Jesus, sleeping until the resurrection when we will be reunited for eternity. In the meantime, we have a legacy to carry on and a work to do. Dad was the greatest missionary I ever knew, and with God’s help, we can only pick up where he left off.

Mom, you are reading this letter where we spread Dad’s ashes and read his last words to us a year ago. Tears are rolling down my face as I remember… And I know your heart is breaking, too. I just want to thank you for being a strong rock in my life. Thank you for picking up and carrying on even when you don't want to. Thank you for trusting the heart of God even when you can’t understand. One day soon we will be reunited as a family, never to part again. I love you so much and am so thankful for you.

With Much Love,

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Daddy's Hands

“What do I do, what do I do?!” Dad rushed in helplessly
“Wash your hands, quick!” Mom gasped.
“Cross your legs!”
“Hurry! The baby’s coming!”

Dad came running into the room with his hands still sopping wet just in time to catch me as I made my entrance into the world. It was in Daddy’s hands that I took my first breath. That was the first moment of twenty-six years spent with the most incredible dad I could have ever imagined or hoped for, and a lifetime of beautiful memories. Although I will make a feeble attempt, words are simply inadequate to express what my dad truly meant to me.

I have never met someone with hands as strong as my dad’s. They were not strong without reason, as he was also the hardest-working man I have ever met. He never sat around with nothing to do, but always had a never-ending list of jobs to accomplish. He expected his children to do their share of the work around the house as well. If our pets hadn’t eaten breakfast, neither could we. “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”, he would always tell us. We learned at a very young age how to clean the bathroom, pull weeds, pick rocks, fertilize blueberries, dig postholes, and the list could go on and on. He would be out there with us, teaching us and helping us. If we forgot to put our tools away or close the gates where the horses might get out, he would get us up when he got home, no matter what time of night it was, to finish the job. It was by the guidance of my dad’s hands that I truly learned work ethic and responsibility.

Dad was not all about work, although sometimes I felt like he was. He also taught me to play and have fun. Sometimes we would go snow skiing for family vacation. In the summer we would get the canoes down to the reservoir and go to the nearby islands for the afternoon, during which time he taught me how to steer. He taught me how to saddle and ride a horse, how to build a fire on our camping trips, how to identify the trees on our hikes, and how to live each day to the fullest. It was by the example of how my dad used his hands that I was taught to love and appreciate genuine, edifying fun. 

Even though I was his fifth and last child, Dad still had enough love for me. He expressed his love in so many ways, even though it was not always perceived as love at that time. He was ready to discipline when necessary, ready to give a hug when needed, and he always had a listening ear and a word of wisdom. There were times when personalities would clash or feelings would be hurt, but he was always ready to say “I’m sorry” and make things right. Dad’s hand, whether in discipline or affection, taught me the value of true love.

Dad was the most self-sacrificing, unselfish person I have ever met. He went far beyond what was required of him. He was always ready to buy food for the homeless man on the street, give a job to a friend in need, or help a student through school. Dad’s hand of generosity taught me the truth of the words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.

Dad wasn’t one of the most theological people with all the right answers, but somehow I have never known anyone to be a more faithful missionary than he was. Dad gave literature to everyone he met, regardless of the situation. Mission stories always thrilled him to the core and we got to go on our first mission trip as a family when I was nine. No matter what, we always had family worship every morning and evening, besides which he would daily ask if we had spent quiet time with our best friend, Jesus. There are innumerable people who share about God, yet not many who truly know Him for themselves and live what they preach. My dad made mistakes and was definitely not perfect, but he was what I consider to have been a true missionary. Because of what he did with his hands and not only his mouth, he instilled in me the same longing to be a missionary.

I was privileged to be one of those caring for my dad during his last couple months of life. Although it was two of the most difficult months of my life, I would not trade them for anything. Sometimes he would be in tears due to the pain of the cancer in his bones, but when asked how he was doing, his response was always, “praising the Lord.” When all that was left of him was bones with skin stretched over them and he was racked with pain, his primary concern was still for those around him. He hated for us to have to care for him when he was so used to being the one helping everyone else, yet he never failed to express his appreciation.

Eventually he got to the point where he could barely respond to us verbally; his breathing got faster and heavier. Then the hospice nurse told us it wouldn’t be long. Dad had been such an integral part of my life. How could I let him go? The night before he died, we all gathered around his bed and sang song after song. After one of his favorites I asked, “Dad, wasn’t that beautiful?” and I noted a slight nod of his head.

In the wee hours of the morning on October 22, 2014, we again gathered around Dad’s bed. He was gasping for each breath; it seemed like an eternity between each one. Intense pain flooded my heart. Yet at the same time, I had peace. I knew Dad was right with God. I knew the promises in the Bible—that my dad would sleep and that he wouldn’t know anything until the second coming of Jesus, when all of the dead in Christ will be raised from the dead and will meet in the air those who are living righteously. I took Dad’s hand. I resolved in my heart that day by day, with God’s help, I would live up to all Dad taught me, all that he dreamed for me. I would be among those who would meet him in the clouds at Christ’s soon coming… Dad took another small breath. It was followed by silence. His heart was no longer beating. What a privilege that Daddy was holding me in his hands when I took my first breathe, and mine were among those holding him when he took his last. 

Some things never change!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


There are many emotions in my heart. Words do not flow, although many tears do. My Daddy was laid to rest on October 22, 2014. I had the privilege of being one of those holding him when he took his last breath, and I had the privilege of him holding me when I took my first breath (since the midwives didn't get there in time). Thank you to each of those who loved Dad so much, as well as those who have been so supportive of us as we mourn our loss. Enjoy Daddy's Slideshow, created by Phoebe.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


There have been many new things that have happened in my life since I last blogged, and I have wanted to write lengthy, detailed blogs for so many of them, but I will just give a brief synopsis of a few of them instead.

I led canvassing for my first time in Central California this summer and was immensely blessed. We had an incredible team and many powerful experiences.

We had a family reunion this summer--something that had not happened for 8 years. Our family has grown since the last time we were all together!

I completed my very first quilt! A rag quilt. Much thanks to my dear sister-in-law, Becca, who gave me much assistance, as well as my mom. 

I visited Guam for 3 weeks. It's a beautiful island! I got my Open Water Scuba Diving certification.

Now the journeys of my life are taking me to California to work for the Central California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. I will be recruiting for the summer canvassing programs, working with GLOW, and learning to give Bible studies on the side. 

I don't know yet what other new things I will encounter in the coming months and years, but whatever ups and downs come, I'm eager to face them with Jesus by my side. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Planting Trees

My dad owned a tree planting business for many, many years. Eller & Sons Trees, Inc. They planted for paper companies all over the states. He started long before I was born and didn't stop until just a few years ago. The one thing that he spends and always has spent the greatest portion of his income on was helping others. Literature for strangers. Motels for the homeless. Food for the hungry. Support for missionaries. And my mom supports and encourages him in it. Their hearts are the most generous I know. This song, Planting Trees, makes me think of my parents. How thankful I am for them. I hope to plant many trees, too.