How Can It Be, 4th Anniversary

Four years ago seems awhile back in a way, but then again the incident feels like yesterday!
Four years of trauma, re-grouping and starting again so I stay ahead of the ‘sting of death’ –
Four years where I was forced to accept a separation like no other, kicking and screaming on the inside with pain that needed to be addressed swiftly and honestly –
Four years of holding onto hope when none seemed available at first –
Four years of keeping my nose to the grind stone and working for justice for my son, forgiveness for the offenders and a writing legacy only a parent and fallen child can send out!
I hope no parent ever has to go thru what our family and friends went thru! It’s  not the easiest life event to master …. but, it’s manageable!
     ‘Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.’
It’s not a sign of weakness to say you can’t make it without God cause we think of the loss of loved ones, our struggles in all the wee moments of the day and know it’s Gods grace that many times gives us hope or fresh ideas to continue on our journey. Only those who have no sense of the beauty of creation or understanding of the vast ways humans love and suffer will say ‘there’s no God!’
No, I haven’t gotten over him yet’?
              ‘Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.’
What do you mean, God …. ‘give thanks, Your mercy endures forever’?
I know this isn’t the ‘end’, it’s not the final say about Marc’s legacy!
               Give thanks,  My mercy endures forever.’
 Okay, Father ….. I think I understand,
      You’ll walk this out with me, every step of the way! 
             Your way wins, not mine! 
Song: Pam Thum – ‘Love Sees’

Happy Birthday Sweetheart – 4th Anniversary

Hi Sweetheart,

How’s it going in heaven? It’s your birthday today, wow!

I can remember how it felt to bring you into this world, what it was like preparing you for life, but my joy is so tempered now because I can’t recall your birthday without mixed emotions and remembering that terrible October night! And that ….. you’re GONE …. the separation is real but ‘temporary’, darling!

Oh my God, how that night changed us both! Stung my soul so that I wondered if I could recover. I’m still angry you’re gone ….. I still can’t believe the crime ever happened! I don’t like being forced to relive the crime, the separation! But God has allowed the pain to be side-lined enough of the time because you and I still have a purpose to this pain.

I don’t take for granted how lucky I was to have the two best sons. I realize I’m not the only mom ever to lose a child in the history of mankind, I’m one of many millions …. I don’t feel sorry for myself, just very blessed and lucky! Even in the midst of the painful times.

The case was solved …. but still has a life of it’s own. Gone is the daily trauma of wondering how I’ll live with my deep longing to be with you clinging to my apron. For all we talked about, we lived for and valued ….. I still promise to uphold my bargain to be a ‘voice’ for you as well as continue on my own path. You would have wanted to share ‘our’ core values too, if the tables were turned.

I can’t imagine all the good things you must be doing up in heaven. You’ve got the planets, people and God up there …. you can talk with family, saints from history who strove, loved and sacrificed not just for their own benefit but for others coming down the pike. I believe you may also be able to have some say so in our earthly affairs. You’re not just up there sitting on a ‘cloud’ all day, drifting in the wind without a care or purpose!

Love is the strongest creative force ever! If you’ve never loved, you’ve never lived! It has power past the grave, power to reach into the future and grab a goal even after the flame appears to have died.

It’s not over Marc, your mom is doing good for you!



Murder and Tentacles of Shame

You go thru so much as a result of a loved one dying in a homicide, especially so when its your child –

It’s not a shame when a person dies defending someone, no, you’re considered a hero and you can brag about your loved one. But my son dying prematurely from murder is something I still can’t master. It’s such a harsh way to go, a difficult death to bring up to others. People from certain sphere’s of society do not want or like to talk of death, much less murder!  But I’m getting used to my strange new reality.

I’m not feeling sorry for people like me, like I might have done some years ago. From the start I felt God’s hand in this whole gruesome situation. It’s like there’s new connections in my life and they are connected partly by this shame I keep pushing back. The new people who’ve come forward to accept me in my shame are the most loving. How did I live without them, I’m tempted to think..

Shame can truly be worse than the pain of the event because while the pain has a ‘shelf life’. shame doesn’t but has this way of lurking in the background and at times rising up and giving me an ‘icky’ feeling of being associated with a terrible incident. I can’t shake it off, but I work thru it. I’ve heard about abortion’ shame for years. Our shames are deep because they’re associated with life and death, which some people fear talking about.

I still have paralyzing times with people over the subject of children. If someone asks, ‘do you have any children, Diane’, I still freeze up, I can’t deal well with questions like that after almost 4 years. Some women have several kids and are always so bubbly about them, it’s hard to feel okay around them. My emotions go clunk. Depending on the situation I want to get out of there. I’m not angry with them but the bitter memory of the crime, the lack of my son and best ‘friend’ …. then having to explain to people about Marc so I can forge a relationship with them requires additional courage. I save my real views in my close friends, blog or new book.

You just don’t want to think the people in your life can make your grief harder, but they can and do. I had to create friendships with others based on trust, not flattery or power, cause I don’t ever want to shrug off my association to the crime, or to Marc. I want to allow all the feelings to come to the surface, so I can function normally. Shame deprived of it’s sting will back down like a dog with it’s tail between it’s legs.

There are others like me, in other cities. There are loud cries in Parkland, FL from the high school shooting there last Feb. Each of us has a burden to carry. Other mom’s and dad’s, like me, love their child still ….. and there are those of us who don’t wish to pretend our child’s murder never ‘took place’. I definitely don’t want Marc’s memory to go away, or people forget him.

You have to fight for some things in life in a very focused way. Some things are free, but other things you have to forge a path where there was none. To resist the sting of death, murder and shame can take a few moments of your time, it will save you from endless months and years of depression, pain and in-action.

Love you, Marc!




That Time of Year Once Again –

                   ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ –

Sometime in early September the ‘heaviness’ starts to creep over me again. It seems my limbs are full of lead, everything I want to do feels threatened!

Marc’s birthday is at the end of September, and two weeks later it’s the anniversary of his trip to heaven! It’s just the weirdest thing that he left earth on the same day as my birthday too! So many emotions run rampant at this time of year ….. the beauty of the Fall, the old birthday celebration routines now mixed together sad and happy. Replacing beauty and celebrations with death and separation leaves only one possibility …. resurrection!

Yes, it’s been a bitter adjustment at times where I was dragged into a life event way against my will but I don’t require pity. I still appreciate condolences though, as that tragic day shook me to the core! I truly felt the clout of the devil but I can’t tell you how much I relish remembering Marc’s face, his wonderful ways, his love of life and God …. his desire to make a difference in this world  I can’t express how much I get in return for carrying the burden of his loss and sharing with others that hope can be had in this Age and that God is real!

We all were created with deep emotional needs that need expressing whether it’s joy or grief! We need to share our hearts in some way, and like the celebration of the anniversary of ‘9/11’ today, we should allow the pain in, and not refuse to feel grief! Emotions not released will backfire. Remembering our loved ones, remembering our country’s attack is important.

My sons Paul and Marc (L – R)

I and many others suffer loss all the time, but …. still, God is good! It’s OKAY to grieve, it’s okay to feel the loss and pain. God’s plans are not reckless but purposeful, no matter what happens to us or our loved ones!

 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ –                                                                             Matthew 5 – The Beatitude’s


Look Who’s On Our Side

I‘ve been in contact with Dale and Sandy Russell from Visions of Hope recently. They visit Oregon prisons and have the most precious burden for the guys there. They know of A—–, the main defendant in Marc’s case, thru me, and last week sent him a letter which I’m sharing. I asked Dale if I could share and he said, ‘go for it!’ For a young man without a dad in his life, it’s a perfect letter to receive. Please pray Sandy & Dale will connect with him on 9/11 ….. Who said, ‘angels’ don’t exist ?

Dear A—–,

Just a quick note to let you know of an upcoming event at TRCI.  Riding High Ministries will be presenting at the facility on Sept 11.  This is an amazing demonstration with a horse – yep, a horse on site.  The process is to take a wild, unbroken animal and within an hour or two bring it to complete peace AND asking more of the trainer.  The trainer is Todd Pierce, the National Bull Riders Association Chaplain.  He has a way with horses that will astound anyone who watches.  He also brings his own experiences to the presentation that blends perfectly with how the horse does a complete turnaround in his outlook on life and discovery of life changing principles and solid hope for the future.

Sandy and I helped with RHM last year at SRCI and it left a lasting impression on us.  We will be at TRCI as volunteers (we are carded for TRCI) helping with set up and anything else needed.  We will probably have a guest or two with us as well.

We have a second goal in mind for this date.  We would love to meet you.  Our conversations with Diane De Han have given us an appreciation for her and the importance to communicate with you.  I know there must be a distrust for what she would like to do and for us, as total strangers, to want to meet you.  Why in the world would we want to do that?

Park in Downtown Portland, OR –

For whatever reason, God led Diane to contact us.  She convinced us you were important.  God continues to remind us you are important.  So, what do we do?  Our best reaction is to continue to reach out and see what happens.

God seems to have special plans, unique connections and constant surprises.  He seems to think Sandy and I have some sort of talent that sends us into prisons all over the state.  We never seem qualified, but He says different.  We hang on for the ride and ask for wisdom with what we hang on to and which direction our feet are pointing.  They sometimes bring us to guys named A—–.  We look forward to the possibilities because He started it!

Here’s what we hope happens; You get in touch with Chaplain Cardona and get on the ‘call out’ for 2:00 that day.  We run into you, OR better yet, you search us out.  (We would be the ones not in blue?)

A—–, we continue to pray for you and trust God for the rest.  Our vision would be for you to discover so much more than what we think you see right now.  What if there is a guarantee of new hope you may not have seen before and it starts on 9/11?  Wouldn’t you be just a little bit curious?  Our promise is there could be an amazing dscovery.  Please feel free to contact us before the date.


Dale & Sandy Russell

                                 Isn’t that the coolest letter?

If You Could Hear Them …..

Can you hear them?

If you knew their story, it would likely make you cry …..  I’m talking about African orphans …. Oregon inmates –

Inmate art donations sold to help orphans –

It’s so great how God works! I heard about Visions of Hope ministry leading services at the main defendant’s prison, Two Rivers, but I never knew they worked with an organization that unites African orphans with prison inmates!! I mean we all think inmates are these mean, gangster losers, right? Nah!

Visions of Hope travels to various prisons in Oregon and inquires if any inmate would like to donate art with the proceedings going to an orphanage in Kenya. They also ask if any inmate would like to be pen pals and sponsor an orphan?

You can read some stories at the link below and also view examples of art pieces which you can buy at very modest prices. Log onto this site and let your eyes do the talking – , 

An inmate from Two Rivers writes:

I thought about sponsoring but my past mistakes stopped me. Thank you for coming to prison and convincing me I could help a child. I try not to cry here. It shows weakness. I got a letter today from Jasper, my sponsored child. He called me ‘Dad’. The tears of joy flowed in my cell. Later in the day, your chapel service included the surprising plan of someone who would match my $5.00 per month. I cried twice today. The second time I didn’t care who saw me. Because I needed to tell someone how amazing my life is!’

There’s a documentary about these disparate groups called ‘Lost and Found’, here’s a short clip  ….

God brings the oddest people together for His purpose. There’s a quiet yet profound story on those web pages.

Metal sculpture by inmate -story here, check out the video of the participants and view the art projects online at the site above!

Sometimes people you never imagined could be in this world can become a staunch friend of yours. Don’t check off a person, he might be an angel to someone –

Good News and …. God News !

An UPDATE for MJ readers re: book, defendants & documentary ….

Marc’s journey continues up a notch!

A few months ago I wasn’t sure I wanted to write a book just yet. I knew it would be different from most topics out there as I write on a sensitive issue but I realized I have a certain blog following, and that some in the secular and Christian community would welcome frank coverage of tragedy and violence. I’d been knee deep with other projects so was busy as it was.

After friends expressed their excitement for the possible CNN documentary I began hearing more encouragement to write a book. Something started to ‘click’ inside, and I realized I could use my blog posts for some of the narrative. There’s alot of tedious stuff involved in writing a book itself, so ….  I realized I frankly wasn’t up to creating new content after I shared the story already in a blog.

While this decision was being made I was reading books by FB friends, and meeting other writers thru a FB writers group. I’d been an Eng Lit major and read widely and studied styles, content, but actually writing a book is a big undertaking, and I wanted more input. This new group is so much different from other bloggers/writers groups! It has the best focus. During this period I also came across and wrote an article for a wonderful writing site, Christian Writing Today. It’s got loads of free helps but also honestly discusses the problem areas, even our own wrong thinking, pride, duh! Yes, you can pay for guru’s, writing coach’s but you can learn alot on your own just to get a realistic idea before you start. It was like the door opened wider from all these resources.

Marc with Rose

All this input from various sources helped me assess why it was I really wanted to write anyway. There’s nothing more ridiculous maybe than a person trying to fit a round peg into a square hole, I don’t want to try something that’s not really ‘me’, just because I have a blog, future goals for or cause people encourage me. For me, my personal life comes first, I’m not going to chase some nebulous ‘fame’ monster and I’m not going to become a ‘martyr’ to some cause‘ and lose all perspective like some people do, secular or Christian.

As I was seeking the right way to portray Marc’s tragedy it was crazy how God placed certain people right in front of my path, and the dots connected. I think one huge key aside from just having writing skills,, is knowing who you are in your ministry needs, and not chasing the world of ‘numbers’ only or of ‘pride’. I feel the message in Marc’s legacy comes off loud and clear on it’s own, and that’s what guides me, even tho there are stages that are painful to walk thru still.

On another note, last Saturday a contact I’d made a few weeks back called and now I’m hooked up with the best ministry in Andrew’s prison! It’s just way over what I dreamed could happen, as Andrew really needs a ‘community’ at TR, and it’s actually all set up and thriving. This contact also led me to a former ABC Dateline filmmaker who lives in Oregon. She’s worked on films with inmates before, and since I’ve written a screenplay, I feel there’s potential there for the future, which is what I’ve wanted all along!

     Some of the things we really want take time. Trees take time to grow, love takes time to develop but …. weeds grow fast –

Timing is so important in every aspect of life, and if we can accept that, we can live at peace with the goals we have and the tumult around us. Marc’s D.A. didn’t just go to college and pop on over to the Multnomah Court House …. she studied, trained with cases, grew in knowledge and skill. At times I’ve fretted over how to deal with the defendants, some doors seemed closed, but my prayers never cease.

We aren’t alone, others are so open to helping you bring God’s agenda to pass. That’s what I hoped for from the beginning, that He would help me complete Marc’s legacy!

An ‘Actual’ Home In This ‘Virtual’ Age

There’s almost nothing as important as having a home that feels like a ‘castle’. Ahhh ….. ‘ heaven’!

My comfort from the storm –

Home is where we kick off our shoes, smell our favorite food and hang out with our favorite smiles! It’s where we do our best thinking and recharge our life in every way! It’s also where we hunker down and escape the pressures of life. Without home we can’t last long.

Home can be a place with the sweetest memories, or painful transitions. It can be a place where we put in hours of beautification or bemoan a garden lost due to flooding. Somehow our ‘home’ makes so many hard times bearable.

A home should be where problems can be ironed out, where we don’t go to bed angry and where ‘No’ is not an option. Defeat will never cross the threshold then.  Even tho nightmares may trouble at times, or we stub our toes or get our neighbors BBQ smoke thru our window …. we can always make a ‘come back’ if we have a home that restores us. Peace and harmony must always reign there!

I’ve always cherished my home. It’s taken effort to make it a place this side of heaven. I don’t buy items that have no purpose, or keep anything around that makes me feel  ‘down’. I’ve made sure it doesn’t keep me trapped by trying to keep up with my relatives or the ‘Jones’. The colors have to comfort or inspire me. Marc and I both studied cooking and loved to prepare healthy dishes, so that tradition continues. Strong habits and routines make for good emotional restoration.

My mother was, among other things, a wonderful painter so I have some of her works on my walls. That’s one of my ‘traditions’, my sense of continuity about where I came from, who I am now. Family, beauty, music, good reading, great food make a home a home. You don’t have to talk alot at home, you can laugh, be grumpy or quiet, and your soul is still restored.

This living room is where I heard the news about Marc. Where I played his voice mails over and over. I speak to him here, I write here. I sing to God in this living room, not like I used to since it makes me too sad, but I still raise my voice to God in praise! That may sound stupid to you, it still does to me sometimes. It sounds ridiculous to be able to be happy enough while he’s up there. But …. Marc and I are still so connected, so I understand.

I’m actually surprised I’m not depressed where I live since Marc has gone on. Few years back I developed the habit of ‘living like I would if I had my dream life’, it may sound corny but I’ve never stopped wanting to live like that. Life is about dreams more than it is about failures. It’s about believing in a future and committing your struggle to God. We can only fulfill God’s promise of His kingdom on earth if we find nurture in simple things that mean alot to us at home.

Home has to be a place where God is completely welcomed! This is the place where we usually learn about Him, where our little hearts are made aware of His majesty, His caring. I’m so grateful for the examples I’ve had that have shown me what a home should mean. I can’t imagine how it must be for people to never have known any solace from home life. A ‘virtual home’ can never be the same as a physical place that we can touch or feel!

A farm scene by my mom –

Home isn’t just a ‘place’ but the interconnected lives of those rooted together in love! Belonging to real live people and places is the key that gives us a sense of fulfillment on earth –

‘In the house of the righteous there is much treasure’     Proverbs 15:6









CWT Article – by D. De Han

One of Marc’s photos –

Hope your summer is going well!

An opportunity opened up for me to write an article for Christian Writing Today!

This neat publication shares a gamut of information to push your writing career along in the right direction. It’s chock full of articles on how to write more effectively, how to deal with poor FB algorhythms or what to do with all the ‘hype’ out there and find quality aides for creating, editing or publishing blogs or books. Even if you’re starting out, there’s info for you.

Click on the link below and go to the ‘blogging’ tab at the top. The title is ‘Christian Blogging for Social Justice’. Would love your comments, but also ….. take a look at what this publication has to offer! It’s extremely user friendly and published/edited by an expert in Christian publishing.

God bless your summer reading!



Happy Independence Day!

                                   Happy Independence Day from a reformed optimist –

I’m constantly being reminded that I was once more fearful than I am now, and lived in denial about some things. Any fears I may encounter now I try to deal with sooner, rather than later. Tragedy has a way of correcting our former thinking.

As a writer I’m so aware of both the freedom of and fear of expressing ones thoughts on certain subjects. Politics or government are 2 things that are hard to bring up, but I have a deep need to be informed about the goings on in my country. I’m constantly searching for good resources. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gasped over what a writer writes on Twitter, etc. Many things I read I wouldn’t quote to a 10th grade Civics class. I’d like to think that if I had a teen in school nowadays that child would be informed but not propagandized. I’d like my child to be  presented with facts so he could make up his own mind. It would be painful if he was labeled for following his conscience.

I’m just missing the good ol’ fashioned responsible rhetoric of people with opposing views. I miss the trust of the other side. I wish that humor would return in our discussions about our country, even bad jokes I wouldn’t mind as much as the stuff offered today by many. People welcome passion, emotion …. but the addiction to anger, the obsession with blaming is not going to make our differing sides bond together as a nation to solve issues. Just passing some laws is not going to remedy so many of the challenges facing our nation.

I follow different political columns and tweets. I look for someone I can trust, I wanna know what the other side thinks, I wanna know their rationale ….their goals …. but increasingly I come across all kinds of material that’s so brief, self-involved, or un-substantiated. What’s so disturbing recently is the use of a platform to promote outright violence!

The TV political fare is often not that much better. When I turn it on I want ‘facts’ not ‘commentary. and so I have to hunt around at times for fair reporting on a topic, maybe check online. I’ve signed up with independent news sources on Twitter, elsewhere, so I’m doing what I can to wade thru issues. But most of the public is not like me, and many have given up on TV, newspapers. It’s hurting TV and newspaper ratings and finances. The liberal media has become at times like vultures swarming over a kill, and the conservatives often act like they’re on steroids, I find some of them painful to watch. There are other alternatives.

George Washington, one of my heroes, said, ‘A primary object …. should be the education of our youth in the science of government.’

I had a blessed experience with Marc in the political realm. I inspired him, he shaped me as well. We shared books, voting strategies and just a deep love of this country’s values. We joined groups that held regular discussions on political issues, and attended rally’s. We even prayed for our country together. People who care about a common good for all people have a bond that crosses many decades, age groups or walks of life.

Farewell card from my mailman last week –

I too grumble at times over politics but I don’t grumble over government. I think the worst thing we can do is to grumble all the time at home and create an atmosphere of anxiety, indifference and hopelessness about our role in politics. It’s easy to pass down a healthy respect for government if we keep informed and develop true values that last our life. Youth love a cause. It’s not hard to pass down values if we are a grateful and sacrificial citizen.

People many times fear talking about ‘hot topics’ but if we never bring those subjects up, it’s like we’re letting all the people with power, money, connections make our decisions for us. We are pawns of theirs. I don’t like relinquishing my personal power.

Practice good government. On the upper right is a card my (black) mailman gave me last week as he retired from years of service. I’m so glad for the respectful people in government I’ve known. Besides the years of service, this man was the one who tenderly handed me Marc’s remains in the small crate it came in, giving me time for tears and silence. He was an ambassador for God while working for the government. These things stay in your heart.

Some people might want to sue him or the government if he gave them the card above, thinking he was trying to convert them. I’m glad I live by my instincts re: peoples character and develop a relationship, so I can live in peace in a community –