People often ask me about the name of my blog... click here to read the story.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Called to love

It's under "favorites" on my laptop. And when you click on the link on our pc at home and begin typing letters, all the names of pages visited pop up. provides free online pages for people struggling with illnesses. Preemies, cancer patients, victims of accidents and those with ongoing health issues share updates and reflections on personalized sites. It's a beautiful, practical way not only to share information, but also for the patients and families to receive support and encouragement as they face their battles. It makes it "easy" to bless others with words and prayers.

But reaching out, supporting the sick and hurting isn't always so easy or convenient. Sometimes because you're afraid. Like the other day when I hugged the young soul who just shared with me their fight against bed bugs in their home. I gave the hug but immediately worried, brain racing can you get bed bugs from a hug? (I don't think so). But regardless of my fear, the hug was necessary. At times, reaching out, meeting needs, and caring for those hurting is difficult because so many suffer in silence. Mental illness, addictions, abuse, wayward children, marital conflicts, and money issues all exhaust and drain those encountering them. But often out of embarrassment, shame, guilt or simply hurt, they don't tell anyone.

There's no Caringbridge for parents struggling with kids making life-altering, dangerous decisions. There's no website (that I know of) for those suffering from depression, bi-polar disorder or other mental illness to share their pain and receive encouragement. People facing financial ruin, lawsuits, addictions or marital issues rarely share their pain publicly. I'm not blaming anyone for this. I've been there and if no one pursues or acts like they care, it's seems easier to deal with the pain alone.

However, Jesus never meant for life to be handled alone. My point is simply that then the only way to build up and encourage these suffering in silence is to be in their lives enough so that they either trust enough to share, or you're close to pick up on cues.

It's not easy to hug the kids with bed bugs or lice. It's not easy to get close to someone hurting; they're sometimes prickly as a self defense. It's not east to love and share someones pain when your own feels overwhelming. But, if you claim to follow Christ, you're called to a life of service to others...a life of loving the unlovable...a life of being close enough to know and see the hurt...a life of non-judgemental unconditional love for those in pain.

Called to love.
Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.
~Mother Teresa

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lasting Legacy

"...a quiet, studious man, rich in the wisdom that is better than learning, the charity which calls all mankind `brother', the piety that blossoms into character, making it august and lovely.
Earnest young men found the gray-headed scholar as young at heart as they, thoughtful
or troubled women instinctively brought their doubts to him, sure of finding the gentlest sympathy, the wisest counsel. Sinners told their sins to the pure-hearted old man and were both rebuked and saved. Gifted men found a companion in him. Ambitious men caught glimpses of nobler ambitions than their own, and even worldlings confessed that his beliefs were beautiful and true, although `they wouldn't pay'.

To outsiders the...energetic women seemed to rule the house,and so they did in many things, but the quiet scholar, sitting among his books, was still the head of the family, the household conscience, anchor, and comforter, for to him the busy,anxious women always turned in troublous times, finding him, in the truest sense of those sacred words, husband and father.

The girls gave their hearts into their mother's keeping, their souls into their father's, and to both parents, who lived and labored so faithfully for them, they gave a love that grew with their growth and bound them tenderly together by the sweetest tie which blesses
life and outlives death.

~Louisa May Alcott Little Women

I love you Dad and am blessed daily be your influence. Happy Father's Day.

Love, Patty

Thursday, June 16, 2011


In no place emotionally to make small talk, I remember sitting in silence.
She didn't seem to care.
Every once in a while she asked me a question and smiled kindly at my brief, barely alive response. As we approached the end of the meal she started telling me her story. My mind racing but my face stolid, I listened.
I heard as she shared her story of addiction, depression, broken relationships and God's healing power experienced in her life.
The memory of her gentle voice but strong words comes back to me as I think about my own story.
At the request of a very worried mutual friend, she came, vulnerable and ready to risk for the sake of helping a struggling soul.
She didn't know me. Yet she spoke with transparency, honesty, authenticity and tenderness. She didn't ask for a response from me or expect anything from me.
And I didn't offer.
Out of a deep love for God, she reached out in obedience expecting nothing. And nothing was what she got. Well, from me at least.
What she didn't know or couldn't anticipate was the profound impact that hour long lunch around a mutual friends table had on me. I sought help and I stopped beating myself up mentally. Those were some of the deepest darkest days of my life, and she brought a glimmer of light into my dark tunnel to show me where to walk next.
She's a customer of mine now. She comes into my shop and we periodically have the opportunity to share joys, sorrows and prayer requests. But I don't think I've ever actually thanked her.
So, dear friend, thank you for being real. Thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for sharing your life with me when I had nothing to offer in return. God used you. You were His words to me that day.
Is there someone who needs to hear your story? Who needs to see a real person? Risk it--offer without expecting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I washed the windows Saturday. I hardly ever wash the windows. Not because I don't want to look out of clean windows, but because our house is old and the combination storms that the previous owner put on are a pain in the neck. Anyway, I washed the windows. And they looked beautiful. Sparkly and clean the sun shined brighter through them. Then, it rained. And it's been raining off and on for the last four days. I didn't think of it at first. Then, Sunday afternoon it dawned on me that surely my clean windows were no longer clean. I checked, and it's true, all my work and broken finger nails and risky ladder climbing was in vain. Every window was splattered with rain drops.
So why do it I bemoaned.
Why spend the time and energy washing the windows if all you get is a few stolen moments of sparkling beauty?
Spiritual life feels like that sometimes. You toil and sweat and sacrifice for a few stolen moments of beauty...
like when you have heart level conversation that clearly makes a difference
like when you're able to help, truly help someone in their need
like when the sunset takes your breath away
or when you sense God's love and know for that moment in earth time He's smiling on you.
This post is rambly and doesn't have a point accept that even though I hate cleaning in general and washing windows specifically, I'll keep doing it if only for those few moments of sparkle.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Honestly, I don't remember 1994. A toddler and an infant filled my days with diapers, midnight feedings, messy kisses, sweet giggles, and lots of firsts. The year blurs into the rest of the decade. But half a world away, for an entire country, 1994 looms like an ominous cloud in history. Beginning in April of 1994, and continuing for almost 100 days, over 500,000 Rwandan's suffered death and persecution at the hands of their former friends and neighbors.
While I tucked my babies in at night, other moms quieted their starving babies for fear of discovery.
While we moved into our home, others escaped theirs in the night.
While I read Good Night Moon to my three year old, recently orphaned Rwandan children huddled in the marshes night after night waiting for rescue.
While I enjoyed the safety, blessing and comfort of a loving husband, women on another continent suffered the cruelty and brutality of merciless men.

While we lived in relative harmony with our neighbors and in our community, villagers in Rwanda terrorized, tortured, and murdered their neighbors.

Reading as we forgive by Catherine Claire Larson, opened my eyes and heart not only to the pain these fellow humans endured during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, but also to the tremendous capacity for humans to forgive the unforgivable. The book relates several true stories of forgiveness between victim and offender. Unbelievable tales of reconciliation that demonstrate that healing for a war torn country is possible, each personal story inspires me to practice true forgiveness in my own life on a daily basis.

I'm thankful for my life and that, for whatever reason, I've been thus far spared the pain these people endured. But I never again want to be so consumed with my own small corner of this planet that I'm completely blind to another country's suffering.

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
for ever.

Jesus prayer in Matthew 6
King James Version

Want to know more? Here's a few websites:

as we forgive

The Umuvumu Tree Project

The United State Holocaust Memorial Museum
Restorative Justice

*Please forgive the strange blogspot induced spacing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Good Grief

Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful servants. ~Psalm 116:15

The white haired organist played the old hymns. Flowers in shades of pink adorned the chapel. People spoke in hushed tones as they dabbed away tears. Friends and family gathered to say good bye and celebrate life.

It's a scene played out over and over again and yet, when it's your mother, father, brother or friend, it's no longer a common occurance because it's personal.

She lived a long, full life. Sitting in the pew, listening to adoring sons and loving grandchildren, you might think it was a perfect life. But anyone who lives knows there's no such thing even for this lovely woman. Blessed, faith-filled and faithful yes; but not without hurt, tragedy and pain. And yet, through it all, she loved God and her family well. Passing on a legacy of strength, loyalty and trust in her Maker, her funeral honored her story but more importantly pointed everyone in the chapel to the Giver of that legacy.

Several thoughts struck me as I sat in the church during this sacred moment simultaneously mourning and celebrating.

What would she think of her own funeral?
What would my kids say about me when I die?
What would they laugh about?
Would memories spark hurt or anger about me or would love truly cover the multitude of my sins?
Would the funeral be more about me or the One to whom I belonged?

When I ordered flowers for the service, I told my talented florist friend that the most distinguishing trait about the deceased was her faith and trust in God. I couldn't think of hobbies she had or what she loved to do. I could only think of Who she loved (well, that and the fact that she regularly prayed for the Twins--yes, the baseball team--but I didn't want a Twinkies floral arrangment).

What would someone tell a florist about me?
At the graveside, the pastor asked the family to say just one word that described their mom and grandma.




When I'm gone, what will those closest say about me? Will they struggle to find appropriate words or will the praises come out fast and furious like they did yesterday for this lovely, dearly loved woman?
What would I want them to say?

What do you want those nearest and dearest to you to say...

Marion R. Solfelt 6.27.1924~5.24.2011