July 24th

Seems like a lifetime but it’s just 4 years!


Today is July 24th- a day that marked and changed my family. It was four years ago today that we were at a lake home on vacation with the Wilken family! Four years ago that after a bacon filled breakfast my dad took Lillian and Norah on a bike ride and sang them songs. Four years ago that after cleaning out a garage dad, two of my sisters and my niece decided to swim across the lake. It was four years ago that four of them went across but only three came back.

And like the scripture that my family has found comfort in on that day and the years passed

Exodus 2: 10 ” Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses,a for she explained, “I lifted him out of the water.”

Dad was went from swimming to being lifted out of the water by the arms of Jesus!
Many things happen in four years and has in the life of our family. Between my sister and I we have birthed four beautiful babies. Their whole life time has been marked with the absences of their Grandpa Wilken.  I often wonder about what Grandpa would do with all these boys. About how Leeland and dad would have been dangerous buddies- with their love for food and conversation.

This year the grief is different- it feels more normal on this July 24th – instead of dreading the one year anniversary as I first did – this one I had to think ” it this the right day? It was on July 24th right?” I even went back and read old emails from people from the time that dad died. I liked to read what they were saying and the emotional tied to it. I like to remember because that day was important testimony of God’s faithfulness to our family.

Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Although grief at day one and grief at four years look different , it is still grief. I still miss my dad, I still wish he was here for my kids as their grandpa, I still miss his questions, I still wish that mom had a helpmate to weather th day to day life, I long to see his smile or hear his voice.

Throughout today I will think about dad. I will show the kids some old videos. Part of my family will gather together and eat sweet corn together  for supper in memory of dad. We will do our yearly balloon release and we will remember dad! Today will still be partly normal but lived differently because we have all been marked and changed.

Other Dad post:



2014 & 2014



July 24th- Return to JOY

This is the third anniversary of when Dad went up to Heaven. Lots have changed in three years.  Over time I have found john 16:20 to be true, “You will become sorrowful but your sorrow will turn to joy.”  I can tell you that on July 24th- my sorrow, my sadness, my shock, my loss, and my grief were all that I could feel.   However, the word of God is true and I have witness God turn my sorrow to joy. Not only mine, but my family’s sorrow has been turned to joy.

This week I have been reading a devotional study about Mourning and Dancing from She Reads Truth.  It has been good. I really have enjoyed reading it leading up to this day.  I like reading scripture about joy and sorry, life and death, hope and despair, because was have both in this life.  Three years ago I was pregnant with Leeland when dad died.  He got to feel the joy and excitement of knowing about this little life but dad did not have the opportunity to hold him in his arms, see his face  or learn about his little grandson on this side of heaven.  I have learned that ” Life and death are not respecters of each other. Mourning and dancing- they don’t always take turns.”

This week I also read in a devotion that, “God has given us an incredible ability to feel things deeply in their time- even conflicting emotions at the same time.”  So while I may still have many conflicting emotions today, I know that through God tears…are turned to joy, and through painful memories… there can be joy and even through sorrow … God can turn it to JOY.

Tonight we are having a sweet corn feed at our house in honor of dad.  He was a big fan of sweet corn. (We joked this summer that if dad was still here he and Leeland would have a serious sweet corn competition.) We will eat, remember, write memories on balloons and let them go free.  There will be sadness but oh so much JOY!








Today was Palm Sunday.  A Sunday I can remember vividly throughout my childhood and adulthood.  A Sunday that focus on raising the name of Jesus and singing and saying it loud.

Our Pastor used yesterday to continue with a sermon series on High Praise.  He went through 12 different Hebrew words that defined “Praise” in the bible.  Throughout worship he challenged and stretched us to break out of our “box” of worship and praise.  He would introduce and define the words and then we would put it into action.

  1. Zamar– To make music with the instrumetns and accompany with singing
  2. Yadah– fully extended arms as a form of surrender
  3. Towdah– fully extened the hands as a form of sacrifical faith
  4. Macha– To clap your hands
  5. Shabach– to shout, loud tones, loud adoration, proclaim with loud voice
  6. Rowmena– To shrill, high pitched sound, high priase
  7. Barak– to kneel or to bow as a form of adoration
  8. Tehillah– to sing a spontaneious new song from your heart to the Lord. Not a written song, origin is with in you.
  9. Alaz– Jump for Joy
  10. Karar– to dance, spin, twist, twirl
  11. Macholah– A complany of dancers

The atmosphere was joyful and indeed full of High Praise.  As he was defining the words he came to the last one:  HALAL. He defined it as: to be clamorous foolish, to boast, to put on a show, to put the largest expression you can muster on display before the Lord!

The first thought in my head and then told Chris was, ” Does that describe how my dad worshiped or what?” I always think of Dad  a lot at Easter. Yes, the hope of heaven and new life gives me the assurance of life after death. A place where I can see my Savior and all those who have believed.  In addition to thinking about seeing dad again in heaven, I also think of him at Easter because I know how much he loved to sing and praise.

Dad sang loud, he moved,he would dance,  he would wave flags, he lifted his hands! Folks he was HALAL.  No matter if the song was a hymn, or a praise songs, old or new, fast or slow. He would put on the largest expression on and display it before the Lord.

Now to be honest, as a teenager and maybe and an adult… I can firmly say that this  probably embarrassed me more than once. Why did he need to sing SO loud , or dance like that. I think that today I finally understood.  Dad was just praising God,  how God himself commanded  us to.  And you know what? Dad didn’t care what others thought. He was only worshiping for an audience of one.

It was interesting after Dad died people wrote lots of different things to us about him.  One college girl who was a member of their church wrote this shortly after he died, ” When I think about Sunday mornings at church.  I think of how Keith loved to worship. He was all about it, anticipating every line of every song, sometimes coming in too early, always singing his heart out. ”  Dad was marked by the way he worshiped. In the scrapbook that I made about Dad I have three different  words phrases that defined dad, “Work Hard, Play Hard and Praise Hard”.

So I pass on the challenge to you!

Get out of  your comfort zone in worship

Work on moving in to High Praise

Try all out all those different ways to priase

Praise Hard

and make sure you HALAL every once an a while.






Summer Is … July 24th Celebration… Part 3


I’m continuing to write and reflect about our favorite things this summer. This has been wonderful because it helps me think about all the great and fun things we have done and want to do again for the next year.

July 24th, obviously has always been a part of summer, but now that date is forever etched in my heart, mind, soul.  July 24th was the day that Dad went to Heaven , a little over 2 years ago.  It is usually a time of year where my family isn’t together. However, last year and this year the Sioux Falls Families got together, ate, remembered, shared pictures about dad and released balloons.


It’s always hard to know what to do on an anniversary of something tragic that happens.  Life has moved on but we still want to stop, remember, laugh and cry and talk about dad.  My sister Heidi suggested breakfast, that turned into a picnic breakfast at the park. It was a beautiful spread and it looked so festive with the pretty balloons.   All the sisters brought a picture of dad to share and talk about.  We  got beautiful colored balloons that we wrote on with sharpie markers. We wrote what we missed, wrote what we learned, wrote of our love for dad (grandpa).

We walked to that park and did the balloon release. We watched them rise up higher and higher in the sky.  There were smiles and hugs and cheers when our balloons went around branches that would try to entangle them.  It was a moment of release, joy and celebration.

Dad always loved a good party! He loved his family and he loved when we all got together!

Read about July 24th, 2013 here and here



July 24th-, 2013 “The Bike Ride”

grandpa biking

1 year ago today my dad took Lillian and Norah on a bike ride the morning of his last here on Earth. Chris and I were getting ready to go on a date with Lillian and we were getting ready.  The girls were a little crabby and dad wanted to take them for a little ride to pass the time.  They traveled the country roads while dad was singing.    I regretted not taking a picture of my dad with the girls that morning.  However, months later my brother-in-law found a short video that my niece took of Dad coming back from the bike ride.  Dad is singing, “We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder.”  The last verse he sings as he pulls up to the house is … “If you love him, why not serve him? Children of the cross.” I could think of a better song to dad to sing and my girls to learn. This is just one of the little Dad moments that I am thankful for. L  I’m thankful that he would always take the time to play with my girls, take them on rides and ask them how they were doing. Here are the rest of the lyrics of the song!

We are climbing Jacob’s ladder
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder
Children of the Cross

Every rung goes higher, higher
Every rung goes higher, higher
Every rung goes higher, higher
Children of the Cross

Sinner, do you love my Jesus?
Sinner, do you love my Jesus?
Sinner, do you love my Jesus?
Children of the Cross

If you love Him, why not serve Him?
If you love Him, why not serve Him?
If you love Him, why not serve Him?
Children of the Cross

grandpa biking 2


Back on the Lake


When most people think about there last few moments with a loved one they are by their side in a hospital room or maybe at their home.  When I think about my last moments I saw dad- I have the lake.  I remember riding by in the boat and circling around where he was swimming.  He waved and smiled.  Moments later he was gone.   It’s been a little over 10 months since I have been in a boat in the middle of the lake in a boat since July 24th. It was a different lake and different boat but it didn’t seem to matter much.  Thoughts and flashbacks  consumed my mind. I tried not to overthink it. However, tears that I couldn’t hold back -came.   The girls kept asking why I was crying and I told them that I missed grandpa.  Lillian seemed to have a little fear  in the boat too. Worrying about falling out or the boat sinking.

Anyone that was at dad’s funeral remembers my Uncle Johns message about the importance of water in dad’s life.  I remember John saying, ” The last thing your dad would want is for you not to go in the water anymore.” I don’t want that either. I don’t want to be scared or sad whenever I see water. Water was a huge part of summer for our family and still is. The only choice is to move forward and jump back in.

So here we are back on the lake. This time I get to hold my sleepy son, who has never met his Grandpa Wilken.  Leeland will have to  look to us to teach him about the water, how much fun it can be, how to swim all day until exhaustion, and how the only appropriate attire for the cabin is swimming trunks.

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