Wednesday, December 9, 2015


It is hard to believe this will be our 5th Christmas without Sara.  It's also hard to fathom that this will be Sara's 5th Christmas in heaven.  I can only imagine!

As time goes by, it is ever important to be able to pull out all the memories and hold them close.  On my way to work this morning I started thinking of all the things that remind me of Sara, and things I knew were her favorites.  It is too hard to categorize them. . . much easier to just make a random list as they come to mind. . . . .

. . . singing, dancing, musical theater, laughing till it hurts, the color red, stars, nail polish, coloring books, scotchmallows, mashed potatoes, oreos and milk, Starbucks red Christmas cups, white chocolate mocha, everyone coming home for Christmas, playing games, bowling, time with friends, all the family being together, starbursts, kids camp, siblings and siblings in law, reading, Jesus, team sports (for the team not the sport), jokes, gerbera daisies, her journal, spoon rings, hoodies, White Christmas, the Rockettes, Sandlot, being Aunt Sara, hot pretzels from the movie theater, cherry coke, pancakes on Saturday mornings, snow, chocolate muffins, her special blanket, mounds of pillows, grandparents, patriotic colors, turkey sandwiches, pie crust (with no filling), crafts, fine point sharpies, making things for her friends, Philippians 4:13, pedicures, water ballet, gymnastics, a Minnie Mouse voice, talking, mascara, comfy pajamas, roommates, princesses, road trips, the beach, shopping, shoes, listening to music, curly hair, . . . . .

Every memory calls up more memories. . . .and I love it.  I remember when Sara was in high school and Sam, Heidi, and Kari were all away at college.  Her favorite part of Christmas was all of them coming home.  This picture reminds me of those times.  I have to say that was probably my favorite part of those Christmases too.  So thankful for the blessing of these four gifts, and the way God continues to abundantly bless!

 February 2011                                                            July 2015

                                                 Our newest blessing - Olivia Sara Steenhoek

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Coloring Book

Dear Sara,

Today I bought you a coloring book.  (kind of ridiculous I know)  I was wandering through Walgreens, buying cards and looking at their clearance aisle.  I happened to see this flower mosaic coloring book, complete with a set of colored pencils, and I couldn't help myself.  I immediately picked it up thinking, "Sara would love this!'  It was exactly the kind of coloring book you loved when you were recovering from chemo.  We bought several from Amazon, which you liked and used, but none of those were as perfect as this one.  As I flipped through the pages I saw hearts, flowers, owls, and intricate designs of all sizes and shapes.  It reminded me of all the zentangle designs you used to draw.  I reluctantly put it back on the shelf, thinking, "Heidi and Kari don't have time to color. . . . and the grandkids are too young for this."  But I couldn't walk away without it.  So I bought it.  I came home and put it in the dresser with so many other things that remind me of you.  When the time is right I will get it out, and your sisters and I will color with your nieces and nephews while we tell them stories of their Aunt Sara.

I am realizing that I can now talk about you without my eyes filling up with tears.  I know that I don't have to worry about you.  I know where you are.  I know you are safe and happy. I know you are free from pain and fear.  I know you are rejoicing in the presence of the Lord.  I am thankful for all those things.  I just miss you.

Love you so much, Mom

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Orphan Train

I LOVE children. . . . .I LOVE music. . . . . I LOVE a good story. . . . .  I LOVE children's musical theater!  I actually love all musical theater, but I particularly love to work with the kids.

For the past two weeks I have had the privilege of working with a fantastic production crew, and an absolutely amazing bunch of kids from our community.   We have done a children's musical theater camp for several summers now, and each year I think the one we are doing is my favorite, but I really do believe the one we are doing this year is a FAVORITE favorite.  We decided to go with the theme of the orphan trains in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  We pulled together music from several musicals and movies (both old and new), and made an outline of where we wanted the story to go.   We researched the history and personal stories of several of the orphan train riders, and then wrote our own script, so that no one child was featured, but all the characters interact with each other in an equal way.  We picked out a few of the train riders and followed their stories, sharing these with the children who were cast in these roles, along with several old photographs.

The result has been absolutely incredible!  We have all been drawn into the stories and we have had a wonderful two weeks together.  We continue to be amazed at the talent these kids have, how quickly they can pick up the songs and dances, remember their lines, and deliver them with the expression and emotion that really pull the audience in.  It has also provided an opportunity to relate the plight of the orphans to our own hopelessness before God in His graciousness draws us into His arms and into His family when we accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.  And. . . . the eternal joy we have in being a child of God!

So now we finish up the costuming, put the final touches on the set, polish up the songs, scenes, and special effects, and get set for dress rehearsal on Thursday and performances on Friday and Saturday evenings.  My huge and heartfelt thanks to the team of volunteers making this happen, to all the kids performing, and all the parents who have trusted us with their kids these past two weeks.   I love you all. . . .. this brings joy to my heart!

Saturday, June 13, 2015


So here's something I never thought I would be writing about. . . . "What do you do when someone tries to mug you?"  I remember being in high school and going to a special assembly for girls called "Looking Forward To Being Attacked".  In fact, I still have the workbook by that same name that they gave out sitting on my bookshelf.  The big thing the workshop emphasized was being aware of your surroundings and other people, and not giving off the aura or attitude of a victim.  Being the overly cautious type of person that I am, I believe I have always taken that to heart.  My girls always complained that I walked too fast when we were shopping. . . . . . and I always told them that it was because I walked "with purpose" (which is supposed to make you less of a victim).  I do have to say I think my walking speed has slowed a little in the last few years.

Well, yesterday, none of that being aware or walking with purpose made any difference.  I experienced what it was like to be a potential victim.  Potential is the key word here because I'm telling you right up front that the guy did NOT get my purse!

Woody and I were down in Southern California visiting my mom.  We had gone out to breakfast and then decided we would do a little shopping before leaving to come back to Nevada.  Mom and I decided to go to Hobby Lobby because I needed to pick up some supplies to build a set for a children's musical that starts next week.  Woody wasn't too keen on walking around in Hobby Lobby, so we dropped him off at the mall to check out the sporting goods stores while we did our crafting business.

Mom and I finished our shopping and were walking through the parking lot to our car.  Mom was pushing the shopping cart and I was walking to her left with my purse on my left shoulder.  All of a sudden I heard someone running behind me, and a guy bumped into me on my left, grabbing my purse as he ran by.  I yelled and hung on.  We spent a few seconds (that seemed like much longer) face to face in a tug of war over my purse.  The guy then gave a hard jerk to the side, flipping me off my feet and on to the pavement.  I still hung on tight.  He proceeded to drag me across the pavement, both of us hanging on to my purse.  The guy never said a word, and I just kept yelling at him to stop, and to LET GO OF MY PURSE!

It is strange to consider all the things that run quickly through your mind in just a few seconds.  I did think of just letting go. . . . . but then I thought of all the hassle it would be to cancel all our accounts. . . . .and I had just renewed my driver's license. . . . .and my car keys. . . . and my day planner with some important information. . . . .and Sara's coin purse with her driver's license and medical cards (that I have just kept in my purse ever since her cancer returned and I carried those things for her). .. . . . . and I thought. . . . "NO, I am NOT letting him have my purse!"  Then I thought, "I hope he doesn't have a gun.  If he takes out a gun, maybe I will let go."  Then while he was dragging me across the pavement, I thought, "This is what those cowboys in the movies feel like when they are dragged on a rope behind their horse.  I don't know how long I can do this."  (Random thought I know!)

Then all of a sudden the guy just let go and ran away.  He jumped into a waiting car and away they went.  I looked up to see my mom standing by me holding her purse over her head.  She was getting ready to try to hit him in the head with it.  (I'm not really sure how much good that would have done. . . .but I could tell she was MAD!)   I got up, brushed myself off, assured my mom that I was okay, and we got in the car to go pick up Woody at the mall.  I think the whole thing was probably harder on my mom to have to watch, and on Woody for wishing he had been there, than it was for me.

My mom and I both agreed that our first emotion was anger at the guy for being such a jerk.  Then  I was kind of proud of myself for not letting go and letting him win.  The fear came after it was all over.  The more I think about it, the more grateful I become.  It was a horrible experience, but God sure took care of us.  I am so thankful the guy didn't go after my mom.  I'm thankful he didn't have a gun or a knife.  I'm thankful he didn't punch me in the face or beat me up.  And. . . . I'm thankful he was unsuccessful in getting my purse.  At this point, I can even say I am kind of thankful for the warning . . . . . that no matter how careful you are, or how much you feel like you are in control of the situation. . . . you aren't.

I will continue to be cautious and be aware (more than ever after this).  I will continue to pray for God's direction and God's protection, for myself and my loved ones.  And I will continue to try to trust Him and be thankful in every situation.

A little bit of advice for all you girls and women. . . . .Be aware, consider how you carry your purse, and consider what you carry in your purse.  I know I will!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Missing Sara

Four years ago today we buried Sara's earthly body and celebrated the hope of one day being reunited with her in heaven.  We hold on to that hope. . . . but oh how we miss her!  This week has been busy, and full of the drama of all that is going on in life right now.   In spite of it all, in quiet moments my mind still floods with memories of those last days we spent with Sara four years ago.  I have much to be thankful for. . . and I am thankful.  But all I can think of tonight is how much I miss her. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015


"We pray for blessings. 
We pray for peace, comfort for family, protection while we sleep.
We pray for healing, for prosperity. 
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering.
And all the while You hear each spoken need, yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear.
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near.
We doubt Your goodness.
We doubt Your love, as if ev'ry promise from Your Word is not enough.
And all the while You hear each desp'rate plea, and long that we'd have faith to believe.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win,
we know that pain reminds this heart that this is not, this is not our home.
It's not our home.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?
What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life,
is a revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy?
And what if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights,
are Your mercies in disguise?"      (words and music by Laura Story)

When Sara was dying of cancer in the Spring of 2011, this song spoke to my heart.  I think the line that caught ahold of me then was "What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?"  Sam even painted a pair of pictures the week after Sara's death that seemed to illustrate the song for me. . . . One of a single gerber daisy bent over under a dark and stormy rain, and another of several gerber daisies in a green field with their bright faces lifted to the sun.

I heard the song on the radio this morning on my way to work, and realized that this is still the song of my heart.  It somehow allows me to acknowledge all the doubt, fear, and heartache of this life . . . and yet at the same time embrace God's continued blessings. . . . His mercy and forgiveness, His love, His faithfulness, and the hope that we have in Jesus. 

This is not our home.  Lord help me put aside my selfishness, and let me view the trials of this life. . . as Your mercies in disguise. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

A New Year

I don't know exactly why it has become harder for me to come here to write over the past year or so, but I do know I don't want to let this go.  I don't think I am a blogger at heart.  I don't typically share my heart with others.  But "Letters on Lined Paper" was born out of my writing on Caring Bridge, which was born out of our journey with Sara and her battle with cancer, and I need things that continue to connect me to her.

The passing of time is hard.  It has been three and a half years since Sara went to be with the Lord.  It seems like a long time.  On the other hand, it seems like no time at all.  So often I wish she could step back into our lives and just be here with us.  If I'm honest, I can't deny the many days that I battle the "what ifs".  I know those "what ifs" are totally unproductive and a result of taking my focus away from trusting God. . . .but it is an honest struggle.  What if we had gotten Sara to the doctor sooner?  What if we had sought a different treatment?  What if we had made a more drastic change in her diet?  What if we had prayed harder or differently?  What if we had made her go back into the hospital for more intense treatment after her cancer kept returning?  They go on and on, getting more unproductive the longer I allow my mind to go there.  I need to choose to stop going there.  I need to choose to trust in God's sovereignty and faithfulness.  I do thank Him every day for his grace, and His constant forgiveness.  My doubt and the fear of moving forward is so often overwhelming.   I'm still trying to figure out how to do this . . . how to accept and trust and be thankful. . . .and how to carry all the memories graciously, and still be able to keep them all close in my heart.

God has been so gracious to our family.  We are so blessed with our children and our grandchildren.  Thank you Lord.