Tag Archives: what was

Adult/ Last Section

11 Jul

DSC_0849What Jay said at Isaac’s memorial service:

Hello, I am Jay Miller, Isaac’s Dad.  To all of you who are Isaac’s friends, I invite you to our home.  Stop in and talk any time in the weeks, the months, the years ahead.  Deborah and I would love to hear your stories about Isaac, and about yourselves. You also come with beautiful  purposes  written on your hearts, written on your souls, with possibilities only you can hold.

We spent years loving and raising Isaac and awoke last Saturday to news of his death.  Immediately devastating.  Long-term life changing.  The precious, the irreplaceable—gone.

The law of sowing and reaping works even if one ignores it. Like gravity, it does not care if you are a Christian.  My hope is in God’s word: that in everything God works for good for those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

The death of a young person tests our convictions.  His death forces our real beliefs into the open.  What is the meaning of life?  Can Isaac’s death fit into it?

I serve a God of love and mercy who raised Jesus from the dead.  Isaac’s whole life with us, and even before he came to us, was surrounded with grace and with God moving powerfully on his behalf.  The loving merciful God kept our boy from an early death in Bolivia and placed him in a loving family.  God gave him many friends, great experiences and opportunities, and meaningful work.

Our culture says that Isaac’s life was cut short, that his life was incomplete.  Those thoughts assume we are masters of our own destiny.  It assumes we can fix ourselves rather than God fixing us.

I will not let Isaac’s death erase the joyful memories of years gone by.  God’s word says not one sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s notice.

To find our own meaningfulness we must acknowledge our Creator.  It is good for us to know we can do nothing.  Why should we think death stumps God?  It stumps us, not him. God does not make mistakes.  He decided Isaac completed his purpose here on earth.   Who is like God?  Not one of us.  God had a good plan for Isaac.

As a childless couple we waited and suffered for years before Isaac came to us. We had him with us twenty years.   We believe we will all be together again in our far home.  Our best wishes for you would be that you would be there, too.


1 Corinthians 15

35 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,[j] this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.[k]
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?[l]

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Growing Up

8 Jul


Below are remarks made at Isaac’s memorial service by Susan Barr.  Susan taught and worked with Isaac in 4-H public speaking, church plays and summer children’s programs among others.

Smile of Christ


Isaac had a smile that was bigger than his face.  Of all the faces in our congregation, Isaac’s reminded me most of Christ.  His eyes were gentle, his face welcoming, his smile genuine.
Isaac was an enthusiastic children’s church worker in middle school.  He was gentle, encouraging, and compassionate.  He loved the younger children and enjoyed being useful.  Isaac was resourceful.  When glitches arose, he was one of the teens who jumped to resolve them.
I saw Isaac often when he came home from college.  He hurried over to chat in church and at Target.  He was cheerful and full of plans.  He still had a big heart, big ideas.  He knew he was disappointing his parents; there was sadness and wonder in his eyes when he said that.  But he thought he could straddle two worlds.
I knew the world was tempting him.
Parents wish our children came with guarantees.  Do these things, follow these steps, and your children will be safe.  Because what we pray for is faithful followers of Christ.  Jay and Deborah were devoted parents: kind, loving, firm, encouraging, creative, fun, sincere.  They got most things right.  Yet the world dazzles.  Our kids get the idea that Christ can be reduced to something small and manageable, folded into their back pocket, or stored on a shelf for later.  That they can manage two masters.
And so Isaac continued with all his gifts, yet walked a path that caused his friends to worry and pray.
Isaac was a talented pianist.  He played Easter services while he was in high school.  I asked him to play last year and his eyes lit up, a joyful yes.  Deborah was surprised and gratified at his faithfulness in practicing.  Easter morning we waited, . . . and Isaac never came.  He slept through his alarm.  This was a snapshot of his life at that moment.  Joy and potential, acknowledgement of Our Savior, yet missed opportunities, disappointments.
Of all the faces in our congregation, Isaac’s reminded me most of Christ.


5 Jul


The following is the text of what I shared at Isaac’s memorial service, Saturday, 29 June 2013.  The bits of poetry are excerpts of lyrics from Sarah Groves’ “Add To The Beauty“, which played while the photos for this section were shown.

Scripture readings:

Isaiah 61

61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound,

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn,

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”

Daniel 4

New Living Translation (NLT)

1a “Peace and prosperity to you!

“I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me.

How great are his signs,
how powerful his wonders!
His kingdom will last forever,
his rule through all generations.


God’s love and intervention in the lives of three people rippled out to include all of you. It is an adventure story full of suffering, delays, plot twists, mysteries:

  • The same week I mournfully defiantly wrote of trusting God’s goodness and grace in our suffering, our barren childlessness, a boy baby was born in a far away land
  • God sent us dreams that changed a man’s mind and gave hope to a woman that she had not been forgotten
  • How in the world did we get the information and contacts needed for all this to happen before the age of computers, cellphones, the internet?
  • How did that boy get in that orphanage?
  • How did we choose “He laughs” (Isaac) as our son’s name before we ever met him?
  • In what way was Isaac the first and the last in Oruro, Bolivia?


We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold


God had a beautiful secret for Isaac. He brought Isaac from a far off land to set him in a family. Being his Mom and Dad was one of the purposes written on our souls.  It was not easy.  Until his death, walking the road to the day of his legal adoption here in the US was the most difficult time of our lives.


Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are


December 17th, 1992 we arrived at a poor, run-down state orphanage in Oruro, Bolivia. There was no glass in the windows. There was nothing but abject poverty.  Children slept on mats on the floor and were fed potatoes.


Eventually we were handed a small, ugly, sick Aymara Indian/Hispanic boy. He was severely malnourished and covered with pox scars.  Three weeks shy of two years old he was 29 inches long and weighed 19 pounds. He had a lung infection. He could not walk or speak. There is no doubt in my mind he would not have lived a year in that orphanage.


And I want to add to the beauty
I want to tell a better story,
Shine with the light
That’s burning up inside


He was named Misael Rodrigo Patino.   I have never met another living soul named Misael.  Misael was the name of one of the three faithful boys taken with Daniel into Babylon to be trained as administrators. Renamed Meshach, he was one of the young men who went into the fiery furnace and then walked out alive. Misael means:  Who is like God?


Beauty comes in helping a soul find it’s worth.


God gave us a tremendous gift.  He chose our son for us.


You are invited for the weeks and months and years ahead to call, visit, write if you wish to know more and share your story with us.


We thank the Almighty for His love, mercy and grace to Isaac and to us, for opening the way to him, and forging us as a family through the trials it took to make him our son.




The Sewing Box

18 Feb

Forty years ago I was part of a small group of girls who were recipients of some sewing skills via a very low-key, local 4-H club.  I still have the red gingham apron with black embroidery floss x’s one inch above the hem. I remember working on that in the basement of the South Byron Methodist church.
I have the red felt tomato pincushion I made.

Gone are the fringed pink burlap place mats with pulled threads and dark blue embroidery floss where the threads were pulled. They were made at Margie’s home, and her mother taught us how to thread a needle.

But best of all was my sewing box.  It was a shoebox covered inside and out with a small gold multi-colored paisley print cotton. I remember the house and table where it was made.  Either Mrs. Duttweiller or Mrs. Oderkirk taught us. It was perhaps the start of an abiding interest in several areas: origami, textiles, boxes.  The planning and care in cutting resulted in a wonderful fabric covered box that I used for decades.  Elmer’s glue held the fabric to the shoebox.  There were no raw edges.  Every surface was covered and neat.

Moving On

5 Dec

Could not bring myself to mention it before.  Two more old acquaintances died recently.  Lloyd Cotterill gave me my first job as a second semester freshman at Cornell milking cows at the the Teaching and Research Center out in Harford.  He was a kind man.

He also gave me a raise within a couple months.  Looking back I think it was because it was apparent that, unlike most of the other student help, I had actually worked with a dairy herd before.  In high school in the mid-70’s I made more money per hour ($5.00) than anyone I knew milking cows for a rich dairy farmer.  Seems oxymoronic now to have that adjective connected to that job, but it was true then.  The farmer’s son drove a red Italian sports car.

Anyway, I remember Lloyd with grateful thanks.  At that point in college I was incredibly homesick for the familiar.  Living in a dorm with other women was so foreign: I have two brothers.  Living on a campus full of people was so foreign: I am from a rural farm.  Living where there were no animals was so foreign: Animals were about the best friends I had at home.  So this part-time job–I was the only female student working there, out in the country far away from campus, milking cows for hours–was like a small reprieve from real life.  A much needed reprieve.

My suitemate–we shared a small sink but each had our own room–was from Long Island and a graduating class larger than the population of our whole school district.  It was like she was from a different planet.  Until the middle of the second semester, when I got up the courage to ask, I thought she hated me but could not bring herself to tell me to my face.  Why else would you always lock the door between our rooms?  We had only started locking the doors of our home at night after the incident that became the book In Cold Blood and a rash of local barn burnings.


Carl Leopold was Jay’s friend.  He was a son of Aldo Leopold Carl tells a bit more about himself here. He and Jay would talk about WWII,  gardening, hunting. Carl was a gentleman. And charming.  He was very interesting to talk to because he was involved in so many different ideas.  I loved hearing about his reforestation project in Costa Rica.

Jay and the children went to Carl and Lynn’s home more than once to help with wood and clean out an old railroad built  spring-filled water reservoir that served as their water source.  He came here for lunch in the summer with other co-workers when the gardens were blooming and producing.  I would see and talk to  Carl and Lynn at MaryAlyce and Jonathan’s garden parties and BTI affairs.

We are especially saddened by his death as Carl loved creation but seemed not to love the Creator.  We hope we are wrong.

Extended TDY

13 Nov

No family likes it when their soldier son, husband, brother, nephew goes TDY (tour of duty).  The separation is oh-so-noticeable.  My brother was an adventurous sort, though.  He loved to travel, and travel he surely did.  This final tour, the extended one, I imagine he will be doing what he did, what he loved to do,  his whole professional career: going on ahead, preparing the way for the safe, secure embarkation and arrival of others.

The sharp new tang of this, his last departure, tends to encroach and overwhelm the reality of the necessity to keep on keeping on.  I need to remind myself of my own duty here.  He surely would remind me, in tones and words not subtle or especially kind.

As I age and friends and family leave me behind, 1 Corinthians 15 has become for me much more vivid, real, and affirming.

John Sackett III is much more able now to perform his duty than ever he was here.  The perishable has become imperishable; the mortal, immortal.


Another Friend Gone

29 Jun

Ellie emailed me today with news that Celia is dead.

About 15 years ago Jay was wrongly accused of a misdeed at his former job.  He was charged with a felony.  We spent a year’s plus adoption savings retaining the best lawyer in town–and the charges were dropped. But the lawyer kept the fee, and eventually Jay was pushed out of the job in an academic atmosphere that was smarmy at best.

He was without work for several months. He had a specific list of items “the perfect job” would have, which was the subject of much prayer. Not that he would have refused a job not meeting those criteria, you understand.

The summer came.  The Black Sheep Handspinner’s Guild, of which I have been a member for over two decades now, were having a picnic down at Stewart Park, where there used to be  a merry-go-round.  It was owned by Black Sheep members. We had Isaac then and everyone with children (and some without) liked to ride the horses. Over and over and over.

Anyway, as we were laying out the picnic, Celia and I were talking and she asked if I knew anyone who needed a job.  Well, yes, I did.  Jay needed one.  She spoke to him then and there, hiring him part time essentially on the spot.  It soon turned into a full time position.  And guess what?  It is the job he still has.  It is the job he still loves.  It is the job that still meets each and every one of the items on Jay’s list of “the perfect job”.

All thanks to Celia.

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