Thursday, December 3, 2015


This true story is actually more about the granddaughter, but I needed a clever title. Meet one of our young people from church. This is Brittany Hood.

Stroll through Greenwood Baptist on a Sunday morning and you'll spot her first by that gorgeous, perpetual smile.  She might be working in our children's ministry or sitting by her grandma, Jerry Hood. 

That's where she gets her smile.  Brittany told me, "I wouldn't know the Lord if it weren't for her.  Did you know I'm also kin to Lucille Rushing?"  Lucille, a charter member, is a hoot.  I want to be like her when I grow up.  Brittany confirmed that I already am.  One thing I've learned is not to talk about anyone at our church.  They're all kin to someone else there! Cures gossip.

Back to my tale.  Her other grandmother, on her mom's side, didn't know Christ. As Brittany's life changed, she'd share what God was doing.  Her "Gamma" (as she calls her) would simply reply, "Well, that's your God."  She never referred to Him as her God. Darlene is Gamma's name.

Brittany's awareness of Darlene's spiritual need turned to deep concern in early September. Gamma fell, broke 2 legs and laid there for 12 hours, before someone discovered her.  The next days were a whirl of medical crises eventually revealing sepsis. Gamma was in an induced comma.  She was in Grand Strand Hospital at Myrtle Beach, about an hour from us and Brittany here in Florence.

"I asked my life group to pray for her to find Jesus," Brittany said.  "I even talked to Pastor Johnny about my prayers for her.  'Pastor Johnny, since she's not a believer, is God hearing me?' "  He assured her that because she herself was a believer, God heard her pleas.

She prayed, "Gamma's not a believer, Lord, and if she dies I'll never see her again. Lord, please wake her up. . .maybe on my birthday."  September 26 two things happened.  Brittany had a birthday and Gamma woke up!

"She even knew it was my birthday.  She had past memories that were clear but was confused about things in the moment. The next day she was unconscious again," said Brittany.  

Then on Thursday, November 19, God again gave Darlene some conscious moments with her granddaughter.  She seemed clear in her thinking.  Brittany gathered her courage. "I didn't want to be offensive or insensitive to her suffering, but I had to share. I asked her, 'Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, Gamma?' "


"Do you want to know Jesus as your Savior?"


Uncertain of how, but determined, Brittany and Gamma prayed together for her salvation.                                                                                       But Brittany doubted herself, so she asked her pastor to please come by the hospital and confirm.  He came and found Gamma awake.  Her daughter, Aileen, was kissing her. Gamma said, "Quit kissing me and let the preacher do his job."                                                                                                       Johnny and she talked about the conversation she'd just had with Brittany and there was no doubt that she received the Lord.  She was sure. Brittany was assured.                                                                             He asked her if she understood.                                                     "Yes."                                                                                           He asked if she had any questions.                                                                                   "No."                                                                                                                                              So Pastor Johnny prayed then stepped out.  He said to Brittany, "She put me on the spot to 'Do my job' but YOU'D already done it!"

Joy exploded on earth and in heaven.  

Brittany left the hospital at 9:15 that night full of peace.

Gamma fell asleep, then woke up the next day. . .IN HEAVEN!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Our youngest grandchild, James VanKesteren, was not expected to live.  77% of babies born with AVM (a vein malformation) die during birth.  So as I boarded a plane to Canada two years ago, I was praying for a birth but knew it may be a death.  

Read more about his birth here.


Tomorrow James turns two! Yesterday he went back for a check-up to Toronto's Sick Kids' Hospital. The whole neuro team gathered to witness their miracle baby, now a toddling toddler. It was basically James' graduation. Parents and medical team beamed together.  "I don't think we'll ever need to do anything for James now.  His brain looks fine!  Just come back in a year for an MRI," the doctor said.

So Thanksgiving has a special meaning to our family.  Not that we haven't had trials since James'.  His Dad, Dave, defied medical odds this year by surviving an ear infection that leached to his brain.  Meningitis is deadly too.  Then more recently James' big brother, Caleb, had a seizure.  He's doing fine now too.  None of the 3 stem from the same thing. But in every case, God was in the details. 

Read more evidence of His hand on us here.

Now. . .with birthday cupcake all over his sweet face!

Looking back, our faith in God was strengthened.  "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord." 

But today we are THANKFUL that He GAVE!  LIFE. . .His and theirs! 

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Been awhile since I last blogged.  Today I have something on my mind.  When I have a thought, I need to share it before it dies of loneliness!


They're important.

While I'm not great at remembering names of folks I meet, I try.  Word association doesn't always work.

God knew my name before I was born.  When I came to Him, He wrote it down in His book.  

It's important to our piano students too.  Sometimes I have to even learn to pronounce their names correctly.  I always print out our recital programs early and ask them to check it over for spelling.

He knows my name.

His name is important too.  God made it clear in the third commandment when He said, "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold (him) guiltless that taketh his name in vain."  

It bothers me to hear anyone say, "Oh my God!"  But it's especially painful to hear it from the mouths of Christians who know and love Him.  When did it become acceptable to use the name of God as a curse word?  OMG is just the latest version.

When you enter our home, this is the first thing you see in our foyer.  There's a reason.

He is holy.  He is supreme.  We should speak of Him with sincerity, not casually in vain.

Names matter.

Especially the names of God.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


It's true.  We do.  Or at least I do.

Yesterday morning began as usual with coffee.  That's the last normal thing that happened. I heard the screechy sound of the spring-loaded attic door opening. Knowing Doug's doctor ordered, "No climbing ladders while on this blood-thinner. . ."  I suspected he was disobeying orders.

"Doug, you're not going up into the attic, are you?" I called from the next room.

Silence.  Apparently we both decided to ignore each other. (He claims he didn't hear me, as if it would have made a difference!)

I called our friend, Randy Morrison, to talk about some upcoming church music.  While on the phone to him I heard a loud thud from overhead.  Then Doug began to groan and moan loudly.  I screamed into phone, "Oh Randy!  I gotta go!" and threw the phone down, forgetting to even hang up.

Standing at the open attic door I began calling up to my injured husband, my heart racing.  "I fell through the ceiling. . .one leg's down."

"Are you bleeding?  Broken bones?  I'll call 911."

"No. . .wait. . .I think I'm OK. . .just give me a minute."

"Honey, don't try to get up.  We need help.  I'm calling Donnie."  Our friend, Donnie Miles, pastors the church within view from our front porch.  He was on the way.

"Where did you break through, Doug?" I asked.

"I'm not sure.  Maybe the laundry room."  I looked.  No leg from the ceiling.

"Maybe I'm over the garage."  I looked.  No leg dangling from garage ceiling either.

Trudy and Donnie Miles

Donnie rushed in and helped Doug down the ladder.  The ladder he was told not to be on. Bruised, both body and ego, but not broken.  We three sat and talked awhile as hearts went from racing to calm.  We found the hole in our guest room closet.  Later we used a broom handle to push the hanging pieces of sheet rock back into place, closing the hole.  A pretty decent temporary fix if I do say so myself.

I didn't know until Donnie asked him why he was up there.  "Looking for our 2012 tax records," Doug said.

"They're in the closet, Doug.  I wish you'd asked me," I sighed.

Later Face Timing our son Kent's family, I told Mary and the kids about Papa's fall.  "It's a good thing I have a sense of humor because it kept me from murdering your father-in-law!"

Sarah, Nana and Caroline

Mary immediately turned to the kids and reminded them, "Tell Nana what we learned about Moses and what the 10 commandments say about murder."

The bright blue-eyed youngest, sweet Sarah, leaned into the camera, softly chastising me,  "Nana, you're not supposed to murder."

"Well, Sarah, can I THINK about it?"

Smiling, she nodded yes.  Mary gasped.

Guess they'll study the New Testament and Jesus' teaching on murder tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm just thinking and thinking.  My humor may save his humerus bone, wherever that is.  Oh yeah, it's the funny bone.  

Later I said, "Doug we can learn lessons from anything that happens. I learned men are going to do whatever they want, no matter what a doctor or wife says. I also learned a new use for a broom. What did YOU learn?"

He pondered then added, "Some things just need to be done and you have to be more careful doing them."

Later I spotted a ladder propped outside our bay window.  "So why are you using a ladder outside?  After the attic, surely you know better."

"Well, the bird feeder needs seed and the birds are hungry!" he justified.

I suppose when God said the flowers don't toil and the birds don't worry about food, it's thanks to Him. . .and His helper, Doug.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Hello.  My name is Kathy.  I confess.  I’m addicted to HGTV, especially Fixer Upper.  I love watching Chip and Jo Jo transform a dilapidated, old house into a thing of beauty.  They restore it to its original glory.

But isn’t that what God’s doing in us?  As Christians, we’re all lifetime fixer uppers, being transformed into His image. That’s sanctification.

It takes faith for folks to buy a mess of a house then put it into someone’s hands to restore.  It also takes faith to allow God to carve and chip away at me, to cooperate with Him because HE sees my potential.  

He originally created us in His own image.  Sin carried us far from that pristine plan.  But He bought us back, redeemed us. “You were bought with a price (the death of his Son). So glorify God in your body.”

Honestly, when I watch Fixer Upper, I do not see the potential.  I don’t have Joanna’s vision.  But I trust her because she’s proven it over and over.

Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I see the mess rather than the potential.  But I trust God.  I’ve seen Him do it over and over.

I was created to reflect His glory.  The only way to restore that glory is for me to stay close to my Builder and Maker, to cooperate as He works on me!

So please be kind and don't judge me too harshly.  I'm still under construction, a work in progress.  

One day this Kathy MESS will be a message!

Sunday, June 21, 2015


This blog was first published six years ago but bears repeating.  May I leave behind the blessed legacy of my heritage.  Today at church we'll show the video you'll see at the end of this post.

(Don't miss the video after you read the blog.)
Dear Daddy,

Since I can no longer send you a Father's Day card, I hope heaven lets you read my letter to you.  

No daughter ever had a daddy who was more godly than you. It was so important because it made the road to our relationship with our heavenly Father an easy path.  Bert, Ricky and I had a clear image of Him, reflected in you.  Your character, love, faithfulness, wisdom, guidance, encouragement and selflessness pointed us to Him.  You forged our trail well.

I remember many times as we asked for your advice, you ended with, "Just do what the Lord would have you do."  You spoke that.  You lived that.
Recently I found a yellowed newspaper clipping of an essay I wrote about you 19 years ago.  It won a writing contest.  However, the true winner was my subject! (I copied it below the clipping for my eavesdropping readers here.  You have perfect eyesight now, Daddy.  Some of us don't.)

"If you start a job, finish it. . .if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing right."  New advice?  No, but as a five year old, I thought Daddy made it up.  Now at 44, with three kids of my own, I realize it's programmed into all parents.  What makes my dad, my hero, different?  He lived his advice.

He started a job with Uncle Sam, enlisting in the Navy.  When his two years were up, he returned home but knew the job wasn't done so he re-enlisted becoming a 32-year veteran.  He started a marriage and has been faithful for 55 years.

"Mama, why don't you ever worry about him straying like other sailors do overseas?"

"Because he's true to himself, Kathy, not just to me.  Any man who won't even bring home a government issued ink pen won't cheat in big things."
The only wartime shot he ever fired as a Naval officer was a fluke.  As Officer-of-the-Day he checked his gun's chamber and accidentally fired it. . .onto the ship docked next to his! Captains and admirals scurried around until Dad sheepishly confessed!

No, it's not his medals, though he has some, that make him my hero.  It's his daily, constantly doing the job and doing it right, honestly, completely.  Other sprinters may outrun him in the 50-yard dash but Daddy is a plodder, pacing himself for the marathon.  As he looks back over 55 years of marriage, he's a long-haul winner.  He's a tall man but as far back as memory carries me I see him bent low, humbly, quietly praying for us--true to God too.

How has his advice affected me?  It's kept me true to a marriage for 23 years while friends of ours bailed out.  It kept me mothering, wiping tears and bottoms, tripping over cars, hamsters and rabbits.  Sure a nunnery looked appealing at times but Dad's voice echoed, "If you start a job. . ."   In fact, my two brothers and I have grown into a fourth generation of 17 plodders--no divorce, drugs, rebels or quitters in our ancestry.  Why?  Because my eye was a more ready pupil than my ear.  Good advice is often confusing but example is always clear.  Dad didn't just point the way, he walked with us, giving us life then showing us how to live it!

He's my hero!"
~ ~ ~
It's a small vignette into who you are as Daddy.  It bears repeating to others today who may not have had such a father.  You still point a world to Christ.  Your legacy lives on, not only in print, but in us, your children and grandchildren.
                                            Daddy with our baby, Katy.

I miss you today.

All My Love,
Kathy                                  ~ ~ ~ 

Now to you, my dear reader, I leave another Father's Day message.  If you were not blessed with a dad like mine, you still have One.  He has something to tell you from the throne of heaven today too.  Listen to your Abba Papa.

Monday, June 15, 2015

MARRIAGE, MISSIONARIES AND MURDER (My tribute to Elizabeth Elliot--RIP)

(This blog was first posted in May 2010.  Missionary Elisabeth Elliot just died and her influence was broad.  This blog spotlights her effect on me personally.  Heaven is celebrating her homegoing now!)

Every little girl dreams about her wedding day. I was no exception.

"I do," I repeated softly. Then Doug slipped the wedding band on my finger and we began our life together.
Part of my wedding day plans began when I was about ten years old. One Sunday night our family visited a small church somewhere in New England. I don't remember the town nor the date.

I do remember the lovely, blond missionary lady who spoke. . .softly but poignantly. "My husband and I chose a life verse, Psalm 34:7 'O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together.' That was our plan. Together."

But now she returned to the mission field they loved. Alone. Without him. A young widow. Nate Saint was dead, killed by the Auca Indians. In 1956, Life magazine broke the shocking story of five peaceful missionaries, slaughtered by natives in Ecuador.

Many of those murdering savages eventually came to Christ. Years later the very one who killed Nate baptized his beautiful, blond daughter. Probably in the same muddy river where her daddy bled and died.

Through Gates of Splendor, written by Elisabeth Elliot, and the movie, End of the Spear, produced by Nate's son, tell the story.

Nate's son with his father's murderer--now his brother in Christ.

That night after service I vowed to have that verse on my wedding band day, when I grew up.

I grew up, married Doug and we ministered together in several churches. Then during the 80's Elisabeth Elliot, one of the widows, came to speak at our church in Newport News, VA. After service many stayed to meet her. I lingered until everyone left.

"I was about ten years old and heard either you or Marjorie Saint speak." I relayed what I remembered from that tiny church in New England.

She smiled, "We both had blond daughters, who were later baptized there, but...
Elizabeth Elliot
Elizabeth with daughter

...that verse was Marge and Nate's. You must have heard her speak back then."
Nate and family

               Nate Saint

Doug and I celebrate our 41st anniversary next Tuesday, May 18. The verse is still engraved in our rings and etched in our hearts. But we've never made the ultimate sacrifice.
We complain if the audio equipment fails or the church temperature is too cold. We say we serve but we have no idea the cost, the sacrifice of magnifying Christ by life or death. Many believers worldwide do understand that depth of suffering.

"I must decrease and He must increase." What does that magnification mean? To make God big, bigger, biggest in our lives. No matter how we exalt Him, it won't come close to what He deserves.


Happy anniversary, Doug! I love you more each year.

The wife of your youth,


Tuesday, April 7, 2015


First published June 27, 2010
"Nana, is this plaid?"

"No, Honey, those are checks."

He raced back to his bedroom, his shirt flapping on the hanger. Seconds later, he dashed back with another shirt in tow, "Is this one plaid, Nana?"

"No, son." I wondered why my four-year old grandson cared so much about fashion if he didn't even know what plaid was. His third trip to me confirmed he had indeed found a plaid shirt.

"If you don't know what plaid is, why did you want to wear a plaid shirt?"

"Cause cowboys wear plaid!" he beamed.

Now, I have nine 10 grandsons so this one shall remain nameless to protect him. He was definitely in the cowboy phase of his youth, as was his older brother. Doug, an avid wood-worker, loved to craft old-fashioned toys for our grands: rubber band guns, marbles down the ladder chute and marshmallow shooters. I remember my own Daddy making toys for us too, like bull roars! Must be Father thing, so it's appropriate this week as we remember and honor our dads.


Any parent knows you can't predict the favorite toy at Christmas. Lots of money is spent, only to find that the box itself or the Dollar Tree light saber ranks #1!

Doug made two hobby horses, each crafted to reflect the boys' personalities.

Those horses were their Velveteen rabbits of toys, loved and frayed. The broom-handle saddles got a lot of miles. The horse heads lost an eye here and there. The mane grew...well, mangy. But every day both brothers grabbed their beloved horses and galloped through the house into their imaginary sunsets.

My little plaid-shirted grandson is a bit of a maverick himself, so Doug carved that spirit into his horse's head. Nostrils flared, ears perked high. Mane stiffened and bristled. One day he'd disobeyed and his dad said, "OK, Son, you may not ride your horse today." Now that was punishment to any cowboy.

Evening and bath time came. Dad dried off the boys and the older one ran naked to get his horse for one last trot. Kids love to romp naked. Helps the drying process too. The younger boy, forgetting his punishment, scurried for his horse as well, when Daddy gently remind him, "Remember your punishment. You can't ride today."

His face dramatically drooped, shoulders slumped and his head hung low.

Hang down yer head, Tom Dooley...

THEN his creative side kicked in. Downcast, he spotted an alternative hobby horse. How shall I say this? He grabbed his little, naked self with one hand, slapped his bare backside with the other, then whooped, "YEE-HAW!" He galloped right behind his older brother all through the house.

Imaginations are wonderful things. So are cowboys and grandsons!

Proud Nana,

(This rerun blog finds my anonymous cowboy-grandson to be a dashing 16 year old. . .still remaining nameless!)