Discovering the Unlimited riches of life empowered by Christ
Beginnings of a Book
Quite a few years ago, far enough back that no one can remember exactly when, my brother Mark began telling Mom she should write a book. He urged her to do so because he recognized the importance of the lessons she had learned in her lifetime.
Mom had taught both Sunday School and ladies’ Bible studies for many years. She had mentored countless women and evangelized strangers. Many people fell in love with our Lord because they first fell in love with the Christ they saw in her.
It was a project we kids all agreed on, it seemed, but Mom was reticent. She’s not one who tries to glorify herself, and it seemed such a big, impossible task to her that she thought it surely couldn’t be God’s will. Surely God would not be calling her to write her first book at this time in her life!
But Mark was persistent. For several years he ended each phone conversation with her by gently asking, “Have you started your book yet, Mom?”
She, like Gideon, needed a lot of assurance about if and exactly what God was calling her to do. And, like Gideon, she did get that assurance from the Lord. When she had finally been assured enough it was God’s leading, Mark and his wife Andrea gifted her with a new computer and printer to help her reach this goal.
As often happens when we follow God’s leading, none of us had any idea what we were getting ourselves into!
Mom was in her early 80s and not very computer literate, and it was obvious she needed help. She asked me (Susan) if I’d be willing to help her. I wholeheartedly agreed. She then made me ask my husband to make sure it was okay with him. It was, so she and I agreed to start work when she visited us in January of 2008. We worked hard on the book for ten days and put a lot of concepts down on ”paper.”
Then Mom had to go home. The book just rested there, in the memory of my computer, for a long time. We would work on it sporadically, but it was like we’d somehow lost our vision after making a good start.
My husband and I had experienced many struggles before 2008, and things just kept on going that way for us. In the midst of working our way through our trials, I got a clear call from the Lord that it was my duty, my task, my JOB to help Mom get this book finished and out.
In the summer of 2009, we both experienced a real feeling of urgency to work on and finish the book. My sister Cindy and Mark often asked us how we were doing and seemed to ask us more and more often about the book. We scheduled more and more time to work; Mom began to work with Cheri Fuller in earnest; and we were going full bore, trying to finish by sometime in late 2009.
But life gets in the way of things, doesn’t it? 2010 found us still working on the book and still discovering chapters that needed to be in it. We were going full steam when Mom began to experience health issues, and it was nearly nine months before we once again could work on the book in a consistent manner. By now it was early 2011, and I’m sure there were quite a few folks, sometimes us included, who thought we’d never finish this book!
However, what we found when we resumed our work was that chapters we’d left unfinished now leapt into print before our eyes. The Lord put things in we’d never have thought of putting in before, and we added stories that hadn’t even happened at the time we had previously been pulling together chapters.
We saw with such clarity that even though we had chafed at the delays and postponements we and the book “suffered,” God had planned and purposed and crafted these to enrich and add to both our lives and the book. It was an awesome time for us both, to see the Lord work and weave and tweak our circumstances to fulfill His purposes in the book and in our lives.
During this challenging time, we had oh, so many people who prayed well and consistently for us through all four-plus years of our experience. We want to thank them as well as the Lord for His faithful guidance and help and encouragement as we literally fought through many days to get this book into print.
Elwood and Cathy 2003
Cathy at her 80th Birthday Party
Cathy in January of 2008 in NM, when she and Susan began the book.
Opportunity from Obedience
While we were once again struggling down the home stretch with the book—we thought we’d been there at least twice before—another opportunity presented itself in earnest.
A couple of years earlier, through Cindy’s friendship with Stanley and Patience on the Navigator staff in Kenya, Mom had met with Patience. Like many others before her, Patience was struck by Mom’s close and unique walk with the Lord. Stanley asked Cindy and Mom to pray about a trip to Africa.
Mom asked me to pray, and I promised her I would. She also invited me to come at that time, but I demurred. I knew we couldn’t afford for me to go, and I knew it would be a struggle for my husband to let me go so far away for an extended trip. “I’d love to go,” I told her, “but it would take a miracle…”
Now, in February of 2011, Stanley was asking Mom and Cindy if they felt the Lord’s leading to come to Kenya and speak that summer. Long story short, the Lord impressed on us that it was His will for all three of us to go, and He miraculously provided the funding for me as well.
April and May were a blur of activity as we heard from God and worked on the book and contemplated what details needed to be pulled together. In June, Mom and I worked furiously to complete our final edits and additions. Despite the Wallow fire bearing down on the ranch (it seemed!) and flu, we completed our work (we thought) and turned the book in on June 13.
We were planning to leave for Africa on July 26. Only two such sanguine neophytes as Mom and I would have chosen to turn in a manuscript while also planning a ladies’ conference during a big trip overseas! We somehow had the idea that we were done with the book once we had turned it in. Oh the folly of that thought!
But God is faithful even when we are unaware, and so we did get the talks that He had planned all written and rehearsed and timed. In His all-sufficient grace we finished book things, shopped for clothes, visited the salon and sat for a back-cover photo, packed like crazy, and heaved a huge sigh of relief when we boarded the plane in OKC headed for Chicago and then Brussels. We were three very excited women!
The day got even better when I called home before boarding our flight in Chicago and spoke to Sam, who was fine despite the death of his father hours before I left on the plane to OKC. He also reported that he was soaking wet, from an inch of rain that had fallen that day, the first rain of our summer monsoon season! It was with a joyously singing heart that I boarded that big plane on the way to Brussels!
Kenya--The Trip of a Lifetime
The neat thing is, God always rewards our labors much more than we think will be possible. One fabulous outcome of our work on the book was an invitation for Mom to come to Nairobi and speak there to Christian sisters involved in the Navigator ministry of Kenya. It had been a subject of much prayer for over a year before the official planning began.
Like most trips, we had completed a veritable whirlwind of frantic activity before settling down on the plane for that long, long ride. And now, in the middle of the night (Kenya time) after about 28 hours in either airplanes or airports, we were touching down at Nairobi Airport.
After going through customs and getting our luggage, we were so happy to see Stanley. He kept laughing and saying in that lovely Kenyan accent, “I can’t believe it. She’s finally here. Cathy’s in Kenya!”
We stayed at the guest home owned by Stanley and Patience, and they took us wherever we needed to go. We had meals with their family, which was a real treat for us. Their hospitality was boundless. They were the best, most gracious and thoughtful caretakers any travelers could wish for! We had one day to try to settle ourselves down before the conference that was to begin the next afternoon.
A group of about 75 women of all ages and from many parts of Kenya gathered at a Catholic conference center. We were humbled and so overwhelmed with their gracious kindness to us. During the times we spoke, you could not hear a sound except the scratching of pens as they wrote notes. These women were so godly, so kind, so loving to all of us. It was the best experience anyone could wish for. We had the best time visiting with the women. We feel we made many lifetime friends there. Though we were exhausted, we all were truly sorry when the two day conference was over.
The next day we were able to accompany Stanley and his family to their church, an absolutely huge place! It was another wonderful time for us.
Then Mom and I were off to a single mother’s luncheon and meeting. What stories we heard there! Some were heartbreaking while others were stories of grace and courage. Mom and I were deeply touched by these women. Their tragic and courageous stories fill our hearts still. Single mothers in Kenya have an exceptionally difficult time—but the Lord is faithful no matter what continent we live on! During this time, Stanley’s pastor delivered a wonderful message about serving in the midst of one’s need. I shall never forget it.
The whole trip was like a wonderful dream that was passing far too quickly. We are so incredibly grateful for the whole experience. Mom has said time and again how special it was for her to be there with both her daughters and to be able to share God’s Word.
After three big days, Stanley arranged for us to have some “tourist time,” and we visited Masai Mara, a wonderful game preserve. I cannot really describe to you how I felt to be able to see rhinos, lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras and wildebeests without number. We also saw hippos, a couple of crocodiles and a group of cheetahs napping at midday. For a girl who had always wanted to see Africa but never thought she would, it was an unspeakably special time! I thank the Lord for it still.
Then it was back to Nairobi and on to some more meets with the local gals. This small group time of meeting with the ladies and being able to visit with them one on one was just priceless. There are some awesome saints over there!
Our time flew by, and before we fully knew it, we were once again walking the tarmac of the Nairobi airport, boarding the plane for the long journey home.
I was just like a kid and didn’t want the whole thing to end, but I boarded the plane. For many hours my head was very full of all the wonders and blessings I had seen and been a part of. Truly, our God is a wonderful and magnificent God!
Never fear to do what He asks, no matter how impossible it seems when you start. And especially when you are in the middle of it, keep going because God will finish His decreed work, and obedience to Him always brings rewards.
If you are discouraged because you’ve been laboring or waiting for long, long periods of time without reward, still be encouraged. For if God chooses not to reward you with temporal blessings here on earth, it means that He is planning eternal rewards for you in heaven! Those rewards will never end; you never have to get on the plane and go home. So don’t be afraid—step out in faith, and see what happens!
The Wallow fire turned the sky an eerie orange and ash fell like snow on the ranch in NM.
Cathy and Susan with two of their most faithful prayer partners, Cathy's nephew Phillip and sister, Pat.
Susan, Cindy and Cathy ready to depart for Kenya.
Cathy and our wonderful host family in Kenya.
Cathy and some lovely Kenyan sisters.
Cathy and Cindy enjoy the lovely gardens at the Tea Plantation.