Praying for my kids.

I’ve prayed for my children since before they were born. But I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed with the complete need of it until tonight, as I worked on massaging their names into a passage of scripture where Paul is describing his prayer for the church at Colosse.

Natasha’s version (I have all three children integrated with this passage):

Dear Father God,

I lift Natasha Joy before your throne and ask that you would fill her with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

I pray this in order that she may live a life worthy of you and may please you in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to your glorious might so that she may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to You, who have qualified her to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

I pray you would rescue her from the dominion of darkness and bring her into the kingdom of the Son you love, in whom she has, waiting, redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Before I re-wrote that last paragraph, I don’t think I saw so clearly the spiritual position of my children. And while I believe in that whole age-of-accountability thing (another discussion, sometime, I’m sure), this is the position I must labor and pray from.

When Betsy told me the story of her 4-year-old accepting Christ, I sensed the relief in her voice, and I rejoiced with her at the event. Reflecting on it now, I think more of the relief. Here is one child translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. One piece of my heart safely transplanted to the garden of my eternal home.

I begin to understand the fervency of my grandmother’s prayers for her sons, that she would see them come to Christ.

I pray you would rescue her from the dominion of darkness…

That image is so stark and clear. I feel I want to keep it before me, that I would be ever focused and purposeful in my guiding my children toward the truth.

Grandma’s house

Mom and Dad do plan to continue living there.

They moved-in back in October, and spent the next several months moving their stuff over, and finding ways to consolidate two households into one.

In May, Mom and Dad sold their house, and Gma’s place was officially their home. Now they are going through the steps of buying the house and making it theirs. An element of settling Gma’s estate is selling the house and dividing the price among the three children, so an appraiser came over last Monday and looked over the place.

The last time I spoke with Mom (Thursday) she still had no idea when he would get back to them. Then questioned whether he had the information necessary to do it.

Mom hopes the quote will come back low enough for them to buy out-of-pocket (from the sale of their last place) so that they have some money in the budget (i.e., not going toward house payments) to begin making the many improvements Dad says a house that old needs.

Jay said once (years ago when I was feeling nostalgic and not wanting to lose the house in the indeterminate future) that he never wanted to live in the place. There was the boxy shape, the old wiring and so on.

I asked Mom if Dad didn’t feel the same way, and she said they do plan to make some improvements, but the big shop out back makes up for a lot of the inconveniences of the house.

Thank Yous

Tomorrow morning, I’m going planning to spend at least half an hour writing thank-you notes.

Would you believe I haven’t written any clear back through Christmas (of course you’d believe it– You haven’t seen any have you)?


I hope you know I was (am) grateful. And more for you than what you actually give us.

That’s meant as a complement.

Anyway, I think I’m just going to have to write off Christmas with it being so long ago, and just try to jump back in with Baby stuff.


So here’s 3 1/2 months with three kids.

I’m finally getting into the swing of this. And if I can trust my memory at all, I’m doing better this adjustment than I was with shifting to two.

For example: After Melody was born, Grandma spent much of many days at my home with me. Grandpa had died two weeks before Melody was born, and I think she appreciated having something to do. Often she just held the baby (kept her happy) while I worked. But Melody was 3-months old before I cleaned the house on my own.

I remember this, b/c we had music practice that night and we were each asked to share a praise. That was mine: I’d finally gotten my house back, on my own.

This time I had a similar feeling before three-months, and less-frequent help. Though I have had help. Two different women have come over and washed my dishes and folded my baskets of wrinkly laundry.

The week before Grandma died, I woke up to my sloppy house and didn’t know whether to scream or cry. Of course I did neither. I called my mom so I could talk and figure out what to do.

Half the time I think it’s simply the process of talking that helps me figure out a solution, but she gives good advice too, and on her suggestion I called the two ladies who had offered their help. One came over that same day and the next. The other came over two days after Grandma died, and cleaned my kitchen and bathroom while I wrote the obituary (and told-off that political caller).


I am convinced that Elisha’s easy sleep personality was divine provision for the timing of Grandma’s departure. I think I would have been a much more anxious/disappointed person if I hadn’t been able to spend as much focused time with her as I did in the hospital. (I have a longer list in process I will eventually post, listing the many ways God provided during this time.)

I’ve said it many times when people ask me about Grandma’s death, but it’s the best description I have: It wasn’t good, but it was as good as it could have been; and I’m thankful for the way God brought all the details together. The great orchestrator…


I’ve begun to understand why those who have experienced a loss are told to not make any major decisions for X-amount of time. It’s only natural that one will not be thinking clearly for a time.

For example (this is a scenario we’ve talked about but placed it far down the road), I was imagining starting to look for property out-of-town, that we could buy, and build a totally different lifestyle than we have now (we’ve talked about someday getting a milk-goat and a couple of chickens for family use).

It’s ridiculous, of course. I’m just keeping my head above water as it is, and there’s no way I would enjoy moving and/or taking on new responsibilities at this time. But I realized that the reason I wanted this was to have a change I was in control of; because right now I am looking at a change I have no control over at all.

Grandma’s obituary

The full (for-the-service) version.
(I wrote this as well as the shorter one that was published in our local paper.)

Gladys Langley graduated to heaven Tuesday evening, August 1, 2006, surrounded by family. She was 87 years old.

Born in Brush Valley Township, Penn., on September 16, 1918, Gladys attended the schools of that area. After graduating from high school in ’38, she worked while attending bible school and college.
One of these jobs was as a waitress. Grandma identified this waitressing as the time she learned to say “Oh,” in such a variety of ways. It became her standard answer to the many things customers would say to her. She said it allowed her to respond and be polite without having to agree. Gladys was a peacemaker; she had an ability to wait, and looked for ways to ease any tension she found. Always a hard worker, Grandma was very proud of the fact that she could both support herself and maintain passing grades in her college work.

It was while attending Pasadena Nazarene College in California in 1949, that she met “Red” Langley. A year later they began their whirlwind courtship. They became engaged two weeks after they began dating, and every night of their engagement Grandpa brought her a milkshake.

She married him on August 31, 1950, knowing Alaska would be their home. She wore a borrowed wedding dress, a friend made a beautiful cake, and the only thing they splurged on was red roses for her bouquet. She was very pleased with how the wedding all came together.

Grandma was always practical like that; working within her means and choosing to enjoy where she was. In June of 1951, Red and Gladys drove north on the Alaska Highway.

Once in Fairbanks, Gladys immediately became active in her local church congregation and soon began making a home out of the house Red was starting to build. She kept house in the basement of that home for five years, while Grandpa worked to build the upper levels. She always had an unquenchable desire for order and cleanliness, which must have been especially challenging to maintain while running herd on the three children that arrived before the family could move upstairs.

Gladys frequently taught Sunday School. She was a clever teacher, and knew how to handle the inevitable “spunk” that came through her classroom. One story she liked to tell involved giving a small boy some paper, a pair of scissors, and asking him to fill the crayon tub with scraps. He went studiously to work and ended his disruptive behavior.

Gladys held a number of jobs in Fairbanks, including with the UAF food service, where she met and blessed many students, and bookkeeping at Air North. She also opened her home to a number of foster children over the years. Gladys was well-known for her hospitality. She felt no visitors should eat alone their first Sunday at the Nazarene church.

Before her death she asserted, “The joy of my life has been serving God, helping others, and caring for my family and my home.”

Gladys expressed her love of God through service to his church and his people. All of her life she was a giver and a server. When she saw a need it was only natural for her to assume that need was hers to fill. She had a generous heart and frequently gave of her time, talents and resources.

One of Gladys’s great loves was her family. She enjoyed three generations of family in town, and visited most of those “outside” last November. She never forgot a birthday, or an anniversary. Standing on her rights as a great-grandmother, Gladys frequently bragged on her family. She knew she had the best, and wanted everyone else to know it too—but only if they were interested. She was a very perceptive lady, and knew where her stories would be welcome.

She was very proud of her home, and started every Monday by writing a week-long list of tasks for the house and yard. Summer was her favorite time of year, when she could be outside daily, working in the yard and gardens she took such great pride in, and taking long walks.

Two years ago, in June of 2004, her best friend and husband of more-than 53 years was called home to Jesus. The lives of Red and Gladys were so entwined it’s hard to talk about one without the other. Grandma called Grandpa the love of her life, and together they shared a lifestyle of openness and service.

She thoroughly enjoyed her long-life, almost 88 years, and often attributed it to good choices and “right living.” When a doctor asked her how she felt about what she was facing, she said, “I’m okay. Spiritually, I’m ready to go, but I’m not in a hurry. I’m lovin life.” Her attitude, life and death were a testimony to all who knew her.

The immediate beneficiaries of her legacy of faith and service include children, Florie and David Wilcoxson, Arthur and Cynthia Langley, and Bill and Jana Langley; grandchildren Shawnie and Garry Shelden, Sarah and Nathan Arnold, Amy and Jay Helmericks, Benjamin and Alana Wilcoxson, and Adam Langley; along with 11 great-grandchildren.

Jay did the reading in front of the congregation.

Well, it’s over now.

Or beginning. However you like to say it.

Mom tells the people on the phone that Grandma “graduated” last night. On the folder (what do you call the hand-out at a memorial service?) Her “passing” is written as the date she “ascended.”

I find all the words used instead of death interesting. Jay and I were talking about the common phrase passed away (with Elisha, who was being conversant at the time) and I said it sometimes makes me think of the big family dinners: I passed away the mashed potatoes. (You know I never eat that stuff).

Jay confided to Elisha that we would have to start making the potatoes now. I said, “What? Bring more potatoes into this house???”

I used Mom’s “graduated” at the beginning of the Obituary, and ‘death’ in the middle. I think it’s fine to use euphemisms– especially the first two add more meaning to the event, I believe– but I like to use the plain word too, if it doesn’t.

Passed away doesn’t add anything (that I’ve been able to figure out) and has always sounded mushy to me…

What the Locusts Have Eaten–lyrics

The song I sung when I was alone with Grandma for the last time.

You are so good in your mercy
Taking what I cannot bear
Taking a heart that was wounded
And making it beautiful, beyond compare

And what the locust have eaten
My Lord can restore
And what the enemy’s taken
My Lord gives me more
And my Jesus will mend my heart
When my heart’s torn.

There’s nothing that my Jesus cannot restore.

You are so good in your mercy
You take all I don’t understand.
Taking a life that was wounded and broken
and bearing it up by your hand


(The way I sing Dennis Jernigan’s song)

Family dinner

I made Angel Chicken (my standard crockpot meal) and strawberry yogurt muffins and brought those to the hospital along with plastic odds and ends to eat with/on and a kool-aid type stuff.

My main concern was that there wouldn’t be enough food. I needn’t have worried. Seems like the others aren’t much more interested in eating than I am. It was good to be together and at least act like a family. It wasn’t the same, of course, as sitting around one of the tables. And the uncles left at least three times in the hour I was there to go “warm their noses.” I sat by Grandma and tried to talk to her, and couldn’t say anything normal (in a normal voice).

She has an Oxygen mask now (with a bright blue tube that starts just below the chin), instead of just the nasal cannula, and she still coughs, but can’t spit the junk out. She responds (sometimes) it seems to some things said, or people that speak, but she hasn’t opened her eyes for a long time.

Sarah said Grandma smiled at her, and laughed at a story Uncle Bill told about his son, Adam.

This grief thing is surreal.

When I left Gma’s bedside the first time, I went back to Jay, who pulled me into his lap. I wilted, and whispered, “Don’t be too nice to me, I won’t be able to hold it together.”

“‘Don’t be too nice’?” he whispered back, pretended shock, and almost a rebuke. “I’ll be extra nice.” I just clung to his neck and nodded.

“Yes; that will hold me together.”

The end is nearing.

How near is clarified day by day.

On the off-chance that anyone is still following this story, here is the update through today.

What’s the reverse of exponential? I can’t remember. But Grandma is declining that way. Benjamin is the only family member who hasn’t yet arrived. He comes in tonight.

Is it hugely depressing to have your family gather and share tearful good-byes with you? Mourning you while you are still alive? I think now I’d have a hard time with that; but I’m seeing now that what I think or feel currently may have little bearing on the last days.

Grandma said when she first got sick that Mom shouldn’t worry about her talking about death, or planning a memorial service, because there was nothing to be worried about– she wouldn’t be giving up on life, it was too precious to her.

And now (though I saw the internal war yesterday, through her words) she is tired enough to just be done. She’s ready to end this fight and go Home. Only it’s never up to us; up to her. So we’re just praying for perfect timing.

She’s pretty non-responsive now, and for me that’s the hardest thing. I mentioned earlier the value I felt, being allowed to see how she was thinking (being “let into her mind” was how I put it), and I don’t know how I’ll feel if that doesn’t happen again. Disappointed at least.

I’ve decided (though I haven’t been able to get a hold of Jay yet) that I want to do a family dinner in her room tonight. I want a fun together-time with all of us, and I want (though I suppose I don’t wholeheartedly expect) the familiar atmosphere will elicit a response from her.

How disappointing…

That’s what Grandma said Friday when Mom told her she (Gma) probably has cancer in her blood.

The doctor has sent her bone-marrow samples off to a different lab to see why the cancer didn’t show up in the earlier test, and to confirm this diagnosis. (This is my understanding of things).

Doctor Carroll has said that if anyone wants to see her again they should make travel plans now, because this is a very fast-acting cancer. Mom has been tight-lipped about an actual time-frame, saying diagnosis kills as many people as diseases. She’s told Grandma that if she lives another six years people can come back then, but we want to be ready for anything, so we’re telling folks to come now. Only she doesn’t think it will be six years. She very concerned about the “dying from diagnosis” phynomenon.

Gma’s ready to go on living, and having a (more) finite life-span before her really is disappointing to her. She enjoys life.

I was very disappointed too. I had hoped that something about the hospital environment was oppressing her, holding her back. Because then taking her home would “fix” her. Now we’re told there’s nothing that will, and we are reduce to waiting and watching. And “comfort-measures.”

How do I watch my (2nd) best-friend die? I just do. Figure it out as I go along.