A Mother’s Day Tribute

You are wonderful woman. The easy thing to say is I am here because of you being my mom.

The important thing to say is I am who I am today because of you being a woman I look up to.

In choosing this picture of you concentrating, it reminds me how brilliant your mind is, how creative your soul is, how caring your heart is, and how loving you are in God’s graces. And, thank God you chose to pass along a lot of grace to me over the years.

As a mom of a high school student, and me being your last one of many kids, you worked nights my senior year yet somehow managed to take a college class and still support my final activities. I remember presenting you and Dad for the Honorary Chapter Farmer Award, one of the few things I did right during my trials of independence of my senior year. That year had to take a lot of prayers and grace (although I’m sure there was a sibling or two that took a whole lot more to get them through – LOL!)

I did not truly appreciate what you gave to me as a mom until I became a mom pursuing my own dreams in life. I remember you driving all the way out to Scottsbluff to watch me compete as a young careerist, still being my cheerleader even as an adult. One heart-wrenching moment was when I had been with Katie in the hospital for almost a week, and you came and stayed with her so I could run to class and go home to take a shower. When I returned, you were not just with Katie, you were in the tent with Katie. There could not have been a more perfect moment for my mom to say “I got this! I got you!! You can keep going!!!”

Then I became a Gammy to two beautiful children, and began to appreciate so much more about you when I saw what it was like on the grandma side of life. I thought you were a wonderful grandma, and appreciated you so much watching Katie while Scott & I took college classes. I thought you were doing it for Katie, but now I realize that being a mom doesn’t stop when your daughter becomes a mom. You were doing it so I could continue to fulfill my dreams, my calling, and develop my God given talents while balancing the responsibilities of motherhood.

You know what it is like to have big dreams and a big purpose in life. You lived that out in so many ways, and I got to watch you from the front row most of my life. I got to watch you take time to picnic and camp as a family.

I watched you as you visited elderly relatives and made sure they knew they were remembered. I watched you as you dressed us kids up and performed service for others.

I watched and listened as you played the piano to relax and fill your creativeness.

I watched as you worked so hard to make each holiday magical for each child. Now, I watch you create and live out your artistic passions.

I watched you mom, and you inspire me to be who I am today.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you!

And Happy Heavenly Mother’s Day to your mom, who watches over you from Heaven and is so proud of the mom, grandma, and great-grandma you have become, and the daughter you were to her.

Forgiveness – the Lesson from Jo

Have you thought about where you learned forgiveness?

I was very blessed to grow up and have my best friend live next door to me – and her mom Jo. The first 18 years of my life, Jo was my neighbor, and Deann born a year and a half later became my best friend from early on. Jo passed away this week. It wasn’t until the moment I read Jo’s obituary that I realized the lesson I learned from Jo was forgiveness.

When we were in high school, we didn’t exactly follow the rules. And these plans ended up in our notes – the kind of notes that we passed in the hallways on lined notebook paper, as we passed from class to class, the ones perfected the origami skills of making a pocket to secure their contents or the triangle you could flick the note to another person during class.

Since we had open campus, we went home for lunch and on this Spring day, we went to Deann’s house. Our parents worked nights at the local factory, so we were always quiet, not to wake them up. But this day, Jo was not asleep. She was waiting for us at the kitchen table. She found ‘the notes’ where we planned our not-following-the-rules antics.

Did we ever get a LECTURE! And then she grounded us from each other. Yes, I got grounded by my neighbor mom. I was devastated. It was my senior year, Deann’s junior year, and I didn’t know life without Deann.

Deann had been the person at all my big celebrations. Deann was the one who went to the hospital and sat with me all night when my grandpa broke his neck, and we waited for the rest of the family returned from my sister’s wedding in Colorado. After a horrible choice for a prom date, she saved the day on my senior prom and we did prom together (Prom picture – 1989). Deann was my person, and now the only time I got to see or talk to her was passing in the school’s hallways. As a senior closing out my school career, I became even more lost without my best friend to talk through all this with (no cell pones in those days).

Then came graduation day, and my reception was at my Grandma’s house. In the door walked Jo! I’m sure my eyes popped out of my head. I scanned the room for my parents as I didn’t think they knew Jo had grounded me. She did not put her gift on the table, she walked straight towards me. Jo handed me the gift, and asked me to open it. The gift was a photo album. Jo told me to go fill it with memories, memories with Deann. Then, she told me Deann still had school on Monday so have her home by 11. I only remember 3 gifts that day, and the photo album is one of them, but Jo’s gift was much more than the album, it was forgiveness.

I have no idea what party I was going to go to that night or what trouble I was going to get into, but it didn’t happen. Deann and I spent my graduation evening playing tennis. It was so awesome just to be with her again, and it was such a feeling of ‘awe’ to be forgiven by Jo.

A year later when Deann graduated from high school, Deann’s parents gave her a present – a plane ticket to come see me in New York, where I was a nanny.

I am so blessed to have a neighbor mom who forgave me, then continued to support me – at my wedding, at my baby shower, and even taking an interest in me as a young mother and wife encouraging me. We always made sure to take Katie trick-or-treating to Jo’s house.

Thank you Jo for it all, but most of all for forgiveness. Thank you Lord for all the days you authored my days with Jo in my life’s story. Until, we meet again Jo…may God hold you in the palm of His Hand.

Ash Wednesday – 40 Days of More Silent Focus

Each year, I sit in church hoping this Lent Season is THE ONE. The one where I learn how to truly balance life to be a healthier person with healthier relationships with healthier finances. It doesn’t take long and I am usually back to old habits of unbalance in one of these areas. As a passionate person, I am made to “give it my all” to whatever my focus is and usually that is some project at work, or completing a schooling, or when I quilt it is non-stop cutting and sewing until the quilt is done. Balance and passion usually are not complementary.

However, this year is different, REALLY DIFFERENT. I just finished 40 days of fasting not food like Jesus in the wilderness but fasting from talking. 40 days of silence, 40 days of vocal rest, 40 days of not talking, 40 days of squeaks coming from my vocal cords just once in a while, 40 days of laryngitis, 40 days of my body recovering from a virus.

Today, I went to the specialist, and expected her to say “life is going to return to normal for you”. That is not what happened – again! What happened was another 40 days of some silence, some reflection, and having to say NO because I don’t have strong enough vocal cords to say yes. Literally, when I say NO you can hear it. When I say YES, you can only see my lips move. How ironic!

Sitting in church tonight, I listened to others sing. I listened to others pray, and I listened for my strong desire to sing Alleluia on Easter Morning. Which means I have to go through a struggle of managing my words, managing my energy, managing a balanced life for the next seven weeks so I can sing out Alleluia on April 17.

I find comfort in Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, and his answer to the devil, “worship the Lord your God and serve only him”. Then the angels came and attended to Him. So this becomes my beginning prayer for Lent,… “Lord, as I experience my unique fasting from talking and therefore social connections, will you please help me find ways to serve you these 40 days, and send your angels to attend to me and my healing throughout this time. Amen.”

My First Children’s Book – Check!

“Aspiring Children’s Book Author” has been my been my Twitter call-sign since 2013. Seven years later, I finally ‘published’ my first children’s book, The Overall Book. I wrote it under the pen name ‘Gammy Tammy’, and only one copy was printed. Why?

My grandson inspired me. I realized he was only going to turn 2 once in his life. He is in love with overalls, and there are many men and women from generations past who wore overalls just like my grandson does now. I went through many family photo albums to find just the right pictures to tell the story of the great people who wore overalls, along with their missions in life of where they wore overalls. One of my favorite pictures is my Grandpa Pape standing in front of his airplane in his overalls and leather jacket. This made a full, middle spread in the book.

Between a pandemic, and watching the grandchildren change right before my eyes, time seems to have more of a preciousness about it. A preciousness that inspires me to get on top of finishing the other 17 books I have started but not finished. I believe God has gave me the opportunities to author one-of-a-kind books for my loved ones, so I can learn lessons and improve my abilities before writing for the children of the world.

When my daughter sent me this picture of my grandson reading his overalls book, I realized I’m not writing for the children of the world, I’m writing for my grandchildren, and there just may be someone else in the world that God will choose to find my writing some day. Someone who needs just that message at that time.

Now I ask God to author my days, so I may carve out the time to be the author for another generation, inspired by the generations before me.

Palm Sunday, Just a Bit Lonely

It’s Palm Sunday – a day to be alone, not normally, but today in the middle of a country-wide health crisis, to worship alone. Although, I am introverted from people, Family does not count! I have a deep desire to experience life with family members. Palm Sunday is one of those times, and this week leading up to Easter, my heart NEEDS to be with my family.To make loneliness more stressful, sending my daughter into surgery next week for her C-Section, without me being there, is beyond a stress my heart feels like it can handle. I find myself finding excuses just to drive near the hospital, just to be a bit closer. Thank goodness, I will have McKoy (my grandson) staying with us, and to love on, while his mommy is bringing his new sibling into this world.

During this lonely time, more than ever, I knew I needed to worship on this Palm Sunday. To gain hope. To gain reassurance. To remember God will be there with Katie and with Kyle when they bring their child into this world during a bit of a scary time. So, I logged onto a worship service out of Kansas City this morning. Everybody is doing the best they can in these times, however I needed more than a pastor sitting in an office talking to a camera. I needed music. I needed Communion. I needed Bible Stories. I needed a message about Hosanna. I needed to not feel so lonely as I worshiped alone.

And just as God always does, He lets my vulnerability happen so I am more open to His plan, His message. I am sitting in my favorite chair, singing along to the church service feeling a bit lonely. And boom!….On the screen is my Godson, my nephew, playing the guitar, singing the same hymn of praise that I am singing. I found my voice through my tears, thanked the Lord for giving me what I needed just when I needed.

I worshiped with my family, my nephew, my Godson. I did not see Nick the rest of the service until the end. And just like that, Nick helped prepare the cross for the closing of the church service, once again helping me to feel a part of my family, and more importantly of God’s Family.

And in that moment, I was reminded that Katie & Kyle will be surrounded with God’s Family when she gives birth. I will be surrounded with God’s Family across the world celebrating Easter morning. And God will be there to author my day, even when I feel alone, to give me just what I need at that moment.

Nick Palm Sunday Worship
Nick, my nephew and Godson, is the guitar player in the back.

Sunday Surprise

Jumping on Facebook tonight caught me off guard. Why? I don’t know because I got what I asked for. Yesterday, a FB friend shared she was running a race for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation in memory of her mom. Teresa offered to write names on her bib of anyone’s loved ones who had a brain aneurysm. I replied “Grandma Pape” in the comments, then moved on with life.

Tonight I opened FB, and there sits Teresa’s race bib with my request. A mix of stinging, healing tears welled in my eyes.

Grandma Pape was my confidant. She had moved to Holdrege, my hometown, during my critical tween and teen years. I spent many a nights talking about life in her basement as she decorated wedding cakes and made mints. When I moved to New York, she wrote me letters often.

I had just talked to her on the phone for Thanksgiving. Then I got the call that she had suffered a brain aneurysm right after the holiday. Luckily she lived through it, but it was not in a good place to operate. Where would she go? What would she do? I talked to my boss as I had planned to leave N.Y. in January, and they had not found a nanny replacement. I made a deal that if I could go home through Christmas and take care of my Grandma, I would come back for another six months and get them through the school year. My boss took the deal, as she had just shut the doors on her company and would have some down time.

The month of December (1990), I decorated Grandma’s house for Christmas. Cooked her meals of foods I learned about only in New York. We talked about her childhood as the sunset and the Christmas lights came on each night. We beat each other in Wheel of Fortune puzzles. Her fear of the aneurysm erupting hardly ever showed. The doctor had said something about not taking steps/stairs, so she seemed to have some trepidation when she came near her basement steps. Otherwise, we did a lot of ‘hanging out’, as my 19 year old self saw it. I had too little life experience to even begin to understand what Grandma was going through. I just know my strongest memory was going over to my parents’ house to celebrate Christmas, Grandma’s last Christmas. I left for New York the next week after ringing in the New Year and taking down the Christmas tree.

It was a short time -days, maybe a week –  before I got the call, my Grandma was in the hospital. She would be gone soon. I didn’t get to go home for her funeral. I knew this would be the choice when I chose to go home for the month to take care of her. It hurt all the same, it just hurt lonely. Today when Teresa posted her bib and I saw “Grandma Pape”, I didn’t feel alone anymore- the pain seemed shared, it seemed understood. Thank you for running Teresa! Here’s a shout out to your mom cheering you on from the streets of Heaven- you are not alone!


Race Bib

20 Years

July 15, 2019, I left work after a great evening doing what I love…teaching. It was the county fair bb gun contest which I assumed would be just another night. Then, it happened, I was asked to be in charge of challenges. None of the kiddos had ever challenged their targets before nor their parents, so I taught! I taught how to score, add up scores, and look closely for the rounded edge of the hole to see if the bb broke the line, giving just one more point to the competitor. It was FUN! The last young man to look at his target wanted to challenge, and he won the challenge! He walked away with his shoulders held high. Another day well lived in my career where a young person learned methods, steps, and critical thinking. The 4-H leader that night stepped up to also celebrate the lowest score of the tournament. The young lady had shown the most improvement this year which no score could reflect.  I gave thanks for leaders who ‘get it’, and I witnessed it on this special anniversary, the 20th anniversary of my career in Extension. I started my career in Extension on July 15, 1999 in Seward County. Later taking a position as an Educator, August 20, 2012. 

I knew I wanted to celebrate through a blog post, but working every night I knew Wednesday, July 16,  would be my only chance to reflect and write. Then I had some family commitments and delayed the celebratory blog. I almost gave up writing this, but then I meditated with a song this morning called “>“Wonder Woman” by MK Mueller . The song’s message reminded me to take a moment and do something that brings me joy…writing life’s stories, celebrating life’s blessings. 

4-H  is truly a team of people whom parents (and often grandparents) choose to have help raise their children. I feel so honored when a parent chooses me to be a part of that team, or entrust a volunteer recruited under my leadership/encouragement/training. When I left the field of ministry in a preschool and a high school program in 1999, I couldn’t imagine a job outside the church could be a ‘calling’. What I found out, is a calling isn’t just about a position, or the organization you call ‘work’. The calling is about being where I needed to be at any moment for others to live out a significant moment in their life. Many people may think this happens around county fair, but rarely for me. 

Most of the thank you notes I keep are not general notes of thanks around a contest or event. The notes I keep are the parents who I sat with when they discovered their child was self-harming and reassured them that this too shall pass, and I’ll be there to mentor their child when this episode is over. The moment a young person is about to reach a goal to give a speech, and freeze, and I coached them through their paralysis to winning the contest. It is the father at a shooting sports training who comes up and shakes my hand and says, “you taught me to a better father, no one has ever taught me how to be with my kids”. I do love the moment at county fair when a young person discovers their exhibit (rocket, pie, woodbench) is selected for state fair, and they come find me to tell me. These are the moments of “calling”. 

My job is to take research based information from the land-grant university and improve the lives of Nebraskans. The research is the tool we engage to improve the lives, however, I believe it is the relationships that changes lives. Many of us have tools to reach our goals but it is the cheerleaders who encourage us to keep on going, to not give up, those who tell us they believe in our potential that really give the extra boost to change life. Over the past 20 years, my cheerleader squad has been enormous those who have helped me grow and change. The bosses who challenged me; the trainers who took me through powerful programs like Character Counts! and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; the Jr. Leaders who told me I was making a difference; the colleagues who have stood by me through deaths, births, surgeries, birthdays, celebrations, college degrees, successes, and failures; the 4-H Council and Extension Board members who bought into the vision and worked as a team to carry it out; stakeholders who invested dollars and resources into the vision for our best Nebraska; and most of all, my family who chose to live the Extension-life with me. 

Is Extension my calling? I have no idea. Has Extension provided opportunities for me to live out my calling? Absolutely. I guess as I write this, I realize I’m not defined by my job, I’m defined by my life’s mission which is to coach others to reach their potential, their goals, their dreams. This can take on the role of a young lady starting a business selling tractors or pillows, a writer working on their next novel, an archer who just wants an arrow on the target, a colleague who is working through a conflict, a young man who wants to start his own goat herd, a 4-H leader wanting to start a club, a future teacher to get their start by teaching a 4-H workshop, an organization president develop a speech about the future, co-teaching with an intern or new co-worker…..I get to be their cheerleader. 

When I look back on 20 years, I can definitely define many times when I followed the Lord’s pen and helped write not only my story, but the story of the lives that have impacted my life, my career. So, thank you Lord, and thank you to all of you, that have been a part of these 20 years that have provided me and my family with a good life. I feel blessed to carry out my calling through my career. 

Brandon’s Blessing- A Rose


Friday, I had been looking forward to today. I had a full day in the office all by myself. County Fair contests start on Sunday, and I had a laundry list of have-to’s and want-to’s get ready for my two county fairs. Now I can laugh, only 3 things got done on my list. I had some great visits from 4-H leaders, members, and volunteers. I felt honored to be a part of their plans and accomplishments, even if it meant tasks not getting crossed off my to-do list. 

I also had the tough stuff today that comes before the county fair. People who missed deadlines, parents worried about their kids meeting qualifications to compete, and conflict that comes with any type of competition. As I worked through the tough stuff, I got a request from a colleague to share a Facebook video. With a scowl on my face, I got ready to scroll through FB posts and find the missing video. But what popped up stopped me in my tracks. 

There was Brandon. My niece posted a picture of her brother who would have been 35 years old today. It is Brandon’s birthday, July 12. I had not written the date today, and spent way too many nights in meetings this week to think about the date. Today is July 12, the day Brandon came into the world, a date that forever changed my life. July 12 is the date I became an aunt. In Brandon’s short 20 years on this Earth before ‘going home’, he taught me so much. He taught me to love in a way I had never experienced love before. I remember babysitting him one day, he was taking a nap in my room. In my teenage brain, I wasn’t thinking and jumped on my bike to run to the store. About 2 blocks away, it occurred to me I had left Brandon at home napping. I felt like my bike was an airplane under me as I flew back to the house, and ran into the bedroom. There the precious baby was sleeping just as I had left him. That pit in my stomach that I had failed him, that fierce burning in my heart that I must always protect him, was a love seared on my heart from that day forward. 

Brandon taught me many more lessons. He taught me to live a full day every day. To let people grow up and change, and not hold them to the person they were as a kid. To be present to show love. To give time. To hug like you mean it. To sing, really sing with your heart. To find fun in the mundane. To forgive and move on. Brandon was so amazing to Katie. He wrote her letters while serving in the Marine Corps stationed in the middle east. When he got home from Iraq, he made the 2 hour trip to the county fair and surprised her at her 4-H chicken show. That day was so special, and we didn’t even know we only had a short-time left with Brandon before a vehicle accident would take his earthly life. 

So Today….there I was opening Facebook and greeted by Brandon’s amazing eyes. It put tears in my eyes before a smile on my face. That smile, that look, transported me from my earthly struggles. I was transported to a love I miss so much in my life. That moment put many things into perspective, and of all the struggles I faced today, how none of them mattered in the large scheme of life. It reminded me of how short this life truly is. 

So Tonight …I walked outside to listen to the cicadas sing their summer ballads, lightning bugs perform their dance, and see the signs Brandon had sent. I assumed there would be a new rose blooming, and there it was. Only one rose on the little bush by the patio. You see, the day Brandon passed away, Scott woke me up to share the heart-wrenching news in the wee hours of the morning. After I gathered my wits, I walked out to the car to get my phone. As the sun dawned to bring us morning, a rose literally bloomed and opened in front of my eyes. I paused and acknowledged Brandon’s heavenly presence with me. In God’s promise and in Brandon’s love, I was sent a rose again tonight. I had seen the tight bud yesterday when I ate lunch on the patio. Tonight a single yellow rose bud greeted me as I stepped out on the patio to ‘live, laugh, love’ and reflect on life. To enjoy this very moment, it is the only moment we are promised. 

And once again, I had a plan to author my own day, my own July 12, but HE reminded me that HE is truly the author no matter my to-do list. HE reminded me to look back at the lessons Brandon taught me, … to live, to laugh, to appreciate what I have, to stop and enjoy the roses! A Gift from Heaven.  


Maundy Thursday

I love having work that exhausts me. I love the moment my head hits the pillow after a day well lived, well worked, well played,…and I instantly fall asleep. That is this week every year. Teaching almost 250 kids over 2 days at Platte River State Park. It stretches my introvertedness. After these two days I’m just spent. This year, the 2nd day ended on Maundy Thursday, the day we honor Jesus’s Last Supper with his followers.

As I left the park that day, then ran errands in Lincoln, my mind was considering where I would worship on this special day. I wanted a place I could slip in the back of the church, get lost in the crowd, and disappear with only God & I knowing I was there. The drive west was therapeutic, and allowed me to close back my introverted shell, and I hoped to stay there for the rest of the evening.

I ended up in a church in Grand Island. I read about how these three Methodist churches take turns with Holy Week services, and knew I could get lost in the crowd as they wouldn’t know who was a member and who was not. As I walked up to the door, a man opened it for me, shook my hands and welcomed me in. I believe so often the most important people in the church are the greeter, and then the usher. If these two people serve their positions well in welcoming a person, the first impression will serve the church for a really long time in gaining new members and helping a person have the feeling of being a part of a church family (the other part is having clear signage, but that is for another day).

After I entered the church, there was a tattered cloth over the sanctuary door the greeter sent me to. At this moment, I was happy I had some offering in my purse, as it looked like they needed it. When I reached for the cloth, two hands on the opposite side pulled open the ‘cloth’. There were two ladies welcoming me in. I had to pause. There were not pews, there was not an altar, but a large room full of 12-16 tables with small groups of people at each one. There were ladies sitting at a ‘head table’ underneath the cross with cloth over their heads, and men sitting there with cloth over their shoulders. It was simplistically beautiful. Candles, bowls, the bread and wine, seashells, and palm leaves were on each table, not just the head table.

It hit me! I had just walked into the Last Supper. The tattered cloth was not the usual ‘door’ to worship, but was the door I would have walked through 2000 years ago to share in the Lord’s Supper. Things just got real, and usually I would have tried to tip-toe out of this situation that was going to require real participation. There was no back pew, there was no empty area to retreat too. There was just Sharon.

Sharon, oh that name that has held such a special meaning my whole life. Sharon is my aunt who I never met. She has jet black hair, and in all the pictures I’ve seen of her she was very angelic. Even the picture my Aunt Diane painted of Aunt Sharon in her high school cap and gown, had a halo affect around Aunt Sharon. My aunt passed away in a car wreck on May 13, 1964, just days before her high school graduation. The stories of how much she loved nature and being outdoors and exploring and being an aunt has always made me believe we would have been close souls. The only time I saw Aunt Sharon myself is when my grandpa, her father, had passed away. We were at the funeral home for the first viewing of Grandpa, and my sister and I walked up to the casket. Aunt Sharon’s iridescent soul was standing next to the casket draped in a bluish-greenish gown, with her black hair shining, like it was reflecting a special white sunlight. She was looking at my Grandpa’s face, admiring the weathered lines of this hard-working farmer, husband, father. She was just the presence I needed as I tried to make sense in my 11 year old brain how to handle the immense pain in my heart that felt like it would break my body apart. Her angelic look and actions were such a relief in my clumsiness in this new situation. Her soul ‘role modeled’ what came next for me,… how to view a body, how to just be present for my grandma, and how to find peace among the chaos in my heart.

Here I was again, in 2019, 37 years and one day later after burying my grandpa. Finding myself wanting to hide, wanting to be alone, wanting to hide among the chaos in my heart. I had blown off another season of Lent, of not reflecting, of not keeping my commitment to give something up for Lent, of not attending Wednesday night church since Ash Wednesday. Then there was Sharon. Not my Aunt Sharon this time, but a lady named Sharon. She was waving from the front of the church. Sharon was signaling to the usher to send me to HER table. Me, why me? Why does she want me? The usher told me to go to Sharon, as if I knew her as an old friend or family member, as if she had always been a part of my life and we were all family.

I carefully walked through the maze of people and tables, and chairs pulled out into the aisles as Sharon kept waving until I go to her in the front-center of the room. She was not giving up on me, By GOD, I was going to be with her on Maundy Thursday. Sharon explained that every table had a host, and she was our host for the night, as the 4 people across the rectangle table all introduced themselves.

Then it began, the Last Supper. Each character at the head table would walk out to the crowds in the room, and tell their story showing us what the item was they held and the significance to Jesus’ last meal. The first was Martha who had expensive perfume, and she explained how she washed His feet with her hair. At our table we followed up with the oily perfume in a sea shell sitting on the table. Sharon, took the perfume and made the sign of the cross on my forehead and reminded me I am a blessed Child of God. Amen, I replied. Then I returned the anointing, and we passed the seashell across the table to our fellow participants.

Next was when Jesus washed the feet of his disciple. In turn, we placed our hands in a bowl of water at the table, and Sharon wiped my hands. I assisted Sharon in her hand cleansing. The vulnerability was pulsing across the table as each person allowed their hands to another.

When it came to communion, the gold chalice held the wine, and a small loaf of bread was about to be broken. Sharon broke the bread, gave it to me saying ‘Christ’s body broken for you’. Now if you have ever been beside me when taking communion, it is hard for me. I feel devastated that this Man gave His life for me, and feel incredibly guilty and the tears and sniffles that follow are a mix of why would He love me so much to give his life and the gratitude that He did. So, Sharon handed me the bread, and I dipped it in the wine and consumed the blood and body of Christ for the forgiveness of my sins. I returned the sacrament for Sharon before passing it across the table. Each time, I was the first one to receive these rituals since I was the only one on Sharon’s side of the table.

The character from the head table who spoke before communion was Judas. Unfortunately, this was the character I associated most with up to this point. I had ran into slow traffic on my way to GI, was sometimes in my mind and other times with my words, questioning why people were so slow and were impeding my way to church. My gas gauge had gotten low and was just adding to the stress I was allowing to build up in my body. And darn it, I was hungry because supper time had passed but I was too tired to eat before church, so now I was hAngry before I even entered the church. The church parking lot was full of soccer players, and I had to park a block away just adding to my anxiety of finding a church to get lost in. My heart had been closer to the heart of Judas’s judgmental heart, then Jesus’ forgiving heart.

Judas’ character was played by Sharon’s husband. Sharon reached for a Kleenex to wipe her tears as she watched her husband struggle in his heart to play this character who betrayed Jesus for money. I wanted to hug her, to comfort her, to ease her pain as she empathized with her husband’s struggle, just as I had witnessed my sister do for people in church, before she sends them into surgery, or in their suffering, and how there was a sense of peace to each person my sister literally touched. I resisted following my sister’s example in life, and kept my hands to myself. 

Then, the tears were enough, Sharon had to remove her glasses to let the tears flow. My heart tugged again to sit in her sadness with her (a healing technique I had recently read about as we are challenged at work to help people whose lives have been turned upside down by flooding in Nebraska). I did it, I reached over and placed my hand on Sharon’s back and sat in her sadness, and cried the tears of sadness with her. She leaned back, and told me about her husband’s worry that he would struggle to make it through his part. We all experienced Judas’ conflicted heart at this Last Supper.

As I finished providing Sharon with communion, I sat back, closed my eyes, and asked forgiveness for my judgmental Judas moments I had experienced way too often, and especially in the past two hours.

After intervals of Bible verses, hymns, character’s storytelling, prayers, and sharing the rituals, the last act was to take a thin candle, and light it from a candle up front. The large lit candles were in buckets of sand. We would light our candle and stick it in the sand, and remember to go forward with the light of Christ in our hearts. I did. As I walked back to my seat to grab my purse, Sharon embraced me. Not just a hug, but a true “I care about you embrace’. I think I may have just had a soul hug passed along through human arms.

Yes, I had said my prayer of grace that morning sitting on the porch of my cabin overlooking a lake before heading out to teach 125 students, and tackle my Thursday. And, I did end that prayer with “Please Author My Day Lord”,…..and He did!