Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Did I mention that West Africa is next on my travel docket? I am so happy to go with a team of energetic folks to help build a church in a part of the world where no church building has ever exsisted.
When Lee was there a few weeks ago...(I know, why couldn't we go together???) anyway, when he was there, we got to talk over the internet a few times. One day he commented that the dear men and women he was teaching were beginning churches, meeting to worship and teaching new followers of Jesus with very few resources. We are glad to play a very small part in helping a community have a place of worship!
The team is made up of all Americans from Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin. We are all ready to dive in and make a difference. An hour drive from where we are staying is a village with a school full of kids. We have been asked to take some of the team and spend the afternoons with the children. How many? not sure. What ages? not sure. Do they speak English? not sure.
I just have to say that for plan oriented, organized, time driven over achievers, we will have a challenge. BUT what fun stories there will be to tell.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oldest Daughters

I am the oldest daughter. I am not sure it is an easy spot, but I hear being the youngest or in the middle has its own set of drawbacks. My own oldest daughter celebrated her birthday today. In New York City. Far from me.

Don't get me wrong. We managed to celebrate early while we were there over Thanksgiving. It was a blast to walk the park, see the Macy's parade, take in Jazz at Lincoln Center. But on the actual birthday, now that it has arrived, we are all missing each other.
Becky called sad and weepy from a cold dreary apartment. Drew (3rd born son) called within 5 minutes from sunny South Carolina with a flat tire. Finding help in a new city on a Sunday is not the easiest proposition and he was frustrated. Ruthanne (youngest daughter) then phoned in from Vienna with 102ยบ temp wondering which medicines to take first. It was time to parent from afar. Grateful for the technology that allows the conversations. Wishing I could give a hug in person. Not today...

Instead a cup of tea, fire in the fireplace and football viewing will fill my quiet afternoon. Maybe a bit of present wrapping and follow up texts with the kids. Missing them all is a huge part of this season of my life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Grandaughter's Perspective from Vienna

Tribute to her Buppy recorded for the funeral in October 2009
by Ruthanne McKee Heyward


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tribute to a life well lived

Patricia Leary Warren McMullan
3/29/1934 – 10/17/2009

Patty went peacefully to meet her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ after a short and courageous battle with cancer. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband James McMullan; her brothers Donald and Tim Leary; and her daughter-in-law Laura McDonald Warren. Patty is survived by her four dearly loved children: daughter Terry and her husband Lee Heyward (Germantown, WI); son, Bill and his wife, Princell Warren (Newnan, GA), son, Matt and his wife, Beth Warren (Carrollton, GA), and son, Ted and his wife, Louise Warren (Edmonds, WA). She is also survived by her sister Susan and her thirteen cherished grandchildren: Becky (Mark) Riebesehl, Nathan Heyward, Drew Heyward, Ruthanne Heyward; Jerad Warren, William Paul Warren, Jeremy Warren, Jonathan Warren; Paul Benjamin Warren, Jay Warren; Leslie Warren, Samuel Warren, and Joseph Warren. She is further survived by numerous relatives and friends. Patricia May was born to James Donald and Dorothy DeForest Leary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated from Edina High School and attended Carleton College and the University of Minnesota where she met and married David Warren in 1955. David and Patty had four children: Terry, Bill, Matt and Ted. They enjoyed many travel adventures with friends and their four children. In August 2000, Patty married her second husband, James F. McMullan. With the love of her life, Jim, she enjoyed ministering to people, serving in their church, and traveling. Patty was known to many as a premier quilter and in recent years she shared this passion with many. Each of her children and grandchildren cherish the quilts they received from her. Countless people over the years were recipients of Patty's gracious hospitality as she opened her home to many friends during times of need. Patty loved to visit New Smyrna Beach, Florida each year for a quiet time with loved ones. Worship provided Patty great peace with her Lord and an opportunity to share her gift of song. In recent years Patty enjoyed time with her younger sister Susan and many grandchildren. In May her family gave her the gift of a trip to Ireland in celebration of her 75th birthday.

The family will receive visitors on Thursday, October 22, 2009 at the Carmichael - Hemperley Funeral Home, Peachtree City, GA from 4pm-7pm. A celebration of her life will be held on Friday, October 23, 2009 at Christ the King Charismatic Episcopal Church at 11:00am. A Committal Service will follow at Westminster Memorial Gardens, Peachtree City, Georgia. The family asks that in lieu of flowers gifts be made to Christ the King Church. (www.ctkcec.org).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Surround Sound Happiness

It started out as a sweet plan to get a laptop for Buppy (my mom) to use while she is not feeling too well. Her computer is fine, but old and slow by most standards and we thought a mobile machine might be good. After all she could then skype with those far away. A camera and speakers would be built in and the speed would be great. So the boys (brother Ted and son Nate) left for Best Buy to make this happen.

I think it was about an hour later that they returned with great big grins on their engineer faces! Sorry, Buppy. The Best Buy in Peachtree City does not sell Apple products so we decided to get you a SURROUND SOUND SYSTEM instead. The next hour was filled with giant messy unpacking of boxes and moving of cabinetry, plugging and unplugging of wires and reading of the manual after all other attempts had failed. Mom was worried about figuring out the remotes. Don't worry Buppy, I will teach you all the ways to operate the new system!
My brother Bill pitched in the action until the Auburn football game was going to be on and the tv was still not operational.

I admit I was none too pleased with the turn of events. How do you get from a laptop to a surround sound system? But I have been won over with the arrival of best friend Valerie. As Mom turned up the music to show off her new wireless speakers, Valerie commented, "so you finally got exactly what you have been wanting, Patty".

Exactly what she wanted. Who knew?

I'm so glad.

Car wreck

The news has hit us like a car wreck. At least that is the picture I kept repeating in my head. My mom who has been our greatest support received a devastating diagnosis of lung cancer. What had been treatable pneumonia(in July) now became squamous cell non small cell carcinoma stage IV. Even if you do not google that report, you can tell it is not good news. So everyone has been coming to visit. It is my 3rd weekend in Atlanta in September. During her school break, we flew home Ruthanne from Vienna, Becky came from New York, Nate has made Sharpsburg one of his regular stops and Drew drove the long drive from Charleston. Actually all the sweet grandchildren have come to see Buppy and we are glad for the support and dear expressions of love.

So we walk the walk, pray for direction and peace while longing for answers and cures where none are to be found. Quilting is still happening in the good moments. Sleep and pain medicine are dominant. Chemotherapy begins tomorrow. Each day is too short and too long at the exact same minute. We bought lots of kleenex and we are using it liberally to wipe the tears that our Lord Jesus promised to count and save.

Friday, August 7, 2009


I was not able to be with Nate on his 26th birthday, but I got this picture of him from his grandmother in Sharpsburg Georgia. A quilt to mark the special day. And I have oh so many memories to ponder about this dear boy growing up to a man. He turned 1 year old in Meru Kenya and learned to walk there, played with goats for fun and cried with earaches all night long. His blond hair has turned dark and curly, but the grin is the same. His engineering bent was obvious from the first set of legos he put together. Purdue was the perfect place for him. I just wish he lived down the street.
Happiest 2009 Nathaniel Lee! Thank you for being you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mid summer garden

It is so fun to see what was hiding under the snow this winter pop out in the middle of summer. It has not been warm yet, but the wind is blowing and the sun is out. Not enough rain gives me an excuse to water, too. As I stare at the full blooms of stunning color, I marvel that my eyes get to see such beauty. Yesterday I saw a hummingbird chasing a pink bee balm blossom for some nectar. It was bouncing in the stiff breeze but apparently the hummingbird thought it was worth the trouble.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Trainwrecks, laments and heartache

I was talking to a friend today about some hard painful events in her life. Then I got an email from someone asking that her friends give her time to get 'through' some recent tragic events in her life. Another mom wrote of her son's imprisonment and asked for prayer for his wife and small children. These dear women brought questions to mind.

Who has time to listen to our tragedies?
Do we really need to get through these sort of times?
or do we need to learn lessons about how to carry them?
What is it that makes us so uncomfortable with the lament? the ache? the great sadnesses?

When over 2,000 people gather to hear the author of 'the shack' talk of his life, I wonder if it means new conversations are happening now? I wonder if it means some more steps toward healing in the arms of the Father? I hope

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I read these quotes today. Maybe you have seen them before, but it was fun to see them on a Kenyan pastor's blog. He was challenging his congregation to put their hope in a limitless God. In Germantown Wisconsin I needed that reminder too.
  • ‘Airplanes are toys of no military value’ Ferdinand Foch, 1851-1929, French soldier and professor of military strategy
  • ‘The mission Columbus has proposed is folly… the Atlantic Ocean is infinite and impossible to travel’ Talevera Commission, 1491
  • There is no need for the Patent Office. Everything that could be invented has been invented’ – Head of the US Patent Office in the 1890’s
  • ‘Who wants to hear actor’s talk?’ H.M. Warner, 1881-1958 regarding the possibility of talking movies replacing silent movies
  • ‘We have reached the limits of what is possible to achieve with computer technology’ – John Von Neumann, in 1959
I am beginning to schedule a visit from an East African young man who works among the poorest of the poor. He will come in October and tell stories of being stretched in his faith as he works with the children in the largest slum south of the Sahara. Do you know anyone who would like to hear? Sometimes I get discouraged that there will be no interest in listening, learning, being stretched out of our comfort zones. Have we reached the limits of what is possible?

When the apostle Paul wrote a letter to believers in Phillipi during the 1st century, he included the often quoted ,"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". What I find fascinating is that he had spent lots of time telling the Christ followers of his troubles, the ups and downs of his crazy, very not-boring life. Stretched beyond limits, we then find the quiet words to say Jesus is enough, He is our strength, He is present in it all. Unlimited Holy God, I want to know this to be true in my life.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Old Friends

Yes, Old. As in lived a long time, almost ancient. Or maybe it is just that we have known each other so very long that our children have grown up together and think we are elderly.

One of those kids is marrying the end of July. And tomorrow we will gather the ladies to give the new bride a wedding shower. Gifts, stories, advice and prayer. It brings back memories of those younger days when we prayed for this baby boy (the groom-to-be) while his mom was expecting him and on bed rest. Our friendships began before the children arrived and we have ridden the roller coaster of parenting together. Old friends.

Years ago I found a birthday card that said, "you know we are old because I can remember when your couch was new".
I know we are old because my husband did the wedding ceremony for the new bride's parents!

And now Jan has come from her life in Kenya just for 3 months and will give the shower at her home in Wisconsin with me. When I met Jan, we had been married for about 2 weeks. It will be 31 years ago soon. Across the miles, across the years, across the canyons of life I have been learning about faithful, precious friendship. What joy to find time on a Saturday to laugh and open gifts and speak of God's faithfulness in our lives. I hope also to find time for a hug and heartfelt thank you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Do you ever just wish you could have back the time you wasted being mad about something that did not deserve any of your time, energy or anxiety?

Today I was mad at my dear husband because our 22 year old son, home from college and heading to his job, told me that hubby had plans for the afternoon/evening. I don't really like to hear about schedules through the kids and we had been working on clear communicating of the schedule as the hectic summer begins. SOOOO I was mad, then when I asked for an explanation, ready for a fuss, it turned out to not really true. Actually not accurate message delivery at all.

I should not be surprised. Didn't lots of us play 'Chinese telephone' as kids? I suppose it is not ethically sensitive now to call that game by its original name, but maybe you remember how it worked. Stand in a circle, one kid whispers a message to another all the way around. At the end of the circle the message was NEVER (that I remember) the same as it began. We laughed and laughed and tried again.

Well I laughed today at the inaccurate message delivery at my house, but it did make me wonder. How many stories do I hear that really are not quite right, quite true, quite off the mark? I want to ask questions, do some checking, laugh at the errors while NOT wasting time being upset. Digging deeper for the true message might take a bit longer, but it is sure worth the wait.

Life Lessons

We had a visitor this week. Katie is the 4th born of 5 precious kids. I had the privilege of being there when she was born at home in West Bend Wisconsin 18 years ago. In March we said goodbye to her older brother Ben at a memorial service in Gainesville Florida. I wanted to post a short excerpt from the opening reading as a tribute to our dearly missed Ben.

Benjamin Jon McCollum
May 4, 1987 to March 30, 2009
Benjamin Jon McCollum was born at home on May 4th, 1987, in Hartford, Wisconsin. The third child of David and Tina McCollum, younger brother of Christy, age 3, and Bryan, age 20 months. Benjamin Jon means: “Son of the right hand,” “Jehovah gave.” Deut. 33:12 states, “About Benjamin he said, ‘Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.’” At age 6 weeks, Ben was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a chronic genetic disease affecting primarily the lungs and digestive system. He immediately began receiving inhaled medications and chest physiotherapy three to four times each day to aid his lungs in clearing the thick, sticky mucus it produced and enzymes to aid digestion. Ben and his siblings grew up in a 100 year old farmhouse in rural Wisconsin at a YMCA camp. There was lots of room to roam and many people to meet and new adventures were a daily occurrence. Ben especially enjoyed dressing up and pretending to be a pirate, cowboy, or Peter Pan. The McCollum family joined Northbrook Church where Ben met many of his lifelong friends. Northbrook Church provided Ben and his family with much needed support, especially when Ben was hospitalized. The Heyward family was of particular support and their son, Drew, became Ben’s favorite playmate and friend. At one point, Ben and Drew declared themselves twins. When Ben was four, sister Katie joined the family. He also had a port-o-cath central line placed in his chest to ease receiving IV medications in the hospital and at home during lung infections. Ben was a “regular” at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. His parents and siblings were “regulars” at the nearby Ronald McDonald House.

The service for Ben was a fitting tribute. There was a drum solo in his honor, sharing and music from his many dear friends. We heard truths from scripture and spoke of faith issues. I had the opportunity to read my own musing about my life being different after knowing him. Just thought I would add it here. A Wisconsin summer without Ben's visit is hard. So glad Katie came. So glad for memories, tears and joy in the journey.

Musings on the life of Benjamin McCollum
It started out as a family of 4. Actually two families of four both transplanted to Wisconsin. Lee and Terry, Becky and Nathan. David and Tina, Christy and Brian. The day those McCollum kids toddled into our church meeting in a school gym, I was hoping we could be friends. Drew and Ben soon joined the gaggle and 1987 meant the beginning of a life long, from the womb friendship. Of course three beautiful girls, Ruthanne, Katie, and Meg joined the wild, running crew at camp Wowitan soon enough, but summers and winters in Wisconsin were full. Full of laughter, full of trips to the hospital, full of ministry shared and diapers changed. I would like to share just a few things I learned because of knowing Ben McCollum:
1. It is possible to sit in the hospital for hours and play video games
2. Actually two boys can fit into one hospital bed and watch movies on the vcr for hours at a time. Especially if the movie is Man from Snowy River. Or Barney. Or Jungle Book.

3.Singing loudly in the car is required for all trips in a van full of preschoolers. Either the Donut Man or Raffi, it did not matter.
4. Rabbits can freeze in a Wisconsin winter. Foxes eat chickens and swimming pool pumps break, a lot. And it is possible to play soccor and basketball in an unheated barn surrounded by mountains of snow.

5. I learned from Ben McCollum that no words capture a smile but the memory of that smile can make you smile or cry, depending on the day. Or maybe both at the same time.
6.Most drummers actually start drumming in their highchairs. It drives their mothers crazy.
7. Being super smart and sick a lot and hurt and happy can all be wrapped up into one person. Even one very small, daredevil boy.
Ben McCollum could have written the book about strong willed children. He was one of the most tender hearted, deep thinking, spiritual young men I ever met.
8. I learned that zoo visits are especially fun when you hear the same stories over and over and over again year after year.

9. I learned from Ben that it is possible to have a soul buddy, best friend who is loyal and true beyond all the distance and years. After Ben moved to Florida,whenever my son Drew and Ben saw each other it took about 17 seconds for them to be back singing, joking, smart mouthing like there had never been miles between them. It was a joy for a mother’s heart to watch. A rare and precious gift of a life time.
10. I learned to do therapy that included medicine, back pounding and amazing pill swallowing heroics every day, more than once a day with no skipping of any day.

Faithful, loving, diligent care so that one more day could be available for us to learn from Ben about life in the real world. Life with pain and joy all happening at the same moment. Faith and agony all swirling around us as we discover prayer and fear and the actual taking of it all to the Lord’s lap for peace that passes understanding
Ben would bounce back, embrace life while looking death’s reality in the face in some measure every day. I learned to clear a port, plug in a nepbuliser, listen better and love from our friend Ben. I don’t want to forget the life lessons. I want to say thank you for them. Thanks, Ben.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I gave up! I gave in! I joined the party!

Quilting has become the lastest craft addiction for my two girls. They went to see Grandma "Buppy" last summer for a weekend affectionately known as Quilt Camp and came home forever changed. Fabric, patterns,needles and thread, magazines, quilt stores, all shapes and sizes of rulers and rotary cutters. They bought matching sewing machines and dove in with reckless abandon. Becky and Ruthanne now send pictures of the lastest quilt creations over the internet to each other, buy fabric in every town they visit and sew, sew, sew. The results are amazing.

After several visits to shops full of every sort of quilt option, I relented. I bought into the game. Whether out of feeling left out, or falling in love, I purchased my first honeybun, layer cakey thing and started cutting. I am terrible. BUT I am having fun. Yesterday I told some expert quilt ladies at a dinner party that I have actually threaded the needle on my sewing machine because I broke the one that Ruthanne had threaded for me before she left for college. AND I added thread to the bobbin thingy AND made rectangles instead of squares out of the little squares I had cut.

All of which is to say that something new is a challenge but also a joy. I am not an expert. My 19 and 27 year olds are way better than me at this put fabric together into a blanket deal, but I am having so much fun. Laughing, skyping to see the lastest project, and hearing ideas for the new baby quilt or graduation quilt or wedding quilt long before any babies, graduations or weddings are on the calendar.

Sometimes I long for family members to live on the same block, in the same village, or at least the same city. Mine do not. But Milwaukee, Manhattan, St Paul, Seattle and Atlanta don't seem so far apart when the threads and patterns of our quilts keep pulling us together.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

not bored yet, the beginning

It was thirty one years ago, no maybe more like thirty three. Because we were not married yet, but pretty sure that was the direction we were heading and he promised me that I would not be bored. ever. So ok, I can now put it publicly out there for any one to see.
"I am not bored yet!"
Please consider that a shout, but without the capital letters. Because really it is true. Even this week and last month and last year. The adventure of love and faithfulness and hard work are not without their frustrations and disapointment, but bored? Never.

There was a season when our children were small and summer arrived with all its beauty in Wisconsin. After about 2 hours of no school and summer vacation, I forbid them to use the word 'bored'. You know the whining long drawn out version. "I'm BOOOOREEEDDDD". It always came with the expectation of mom to fix the problem. Well, no. There is plenty to do and see and experience in this great wide world. Go grab a bit of it. Don't be the last child in the woods, be the first.

So I thought I'd follow my son in law's advice and start a blog. And declare that lots is happening that keeps me from stale, dullness. Maybe it will be good to write a bit of it down. We will see.