angels, grace, grief, mother

A December God-story

December remains a tough month for me. There is that heightened awareness of loved ones missing from the festivities and then the date of my grandson’s cancer diagnosis (eight years ago today). For some reason, I really needed a God-story this month.  One like that December day in 2015, when a former junior high teacher, Robert King, delivered a special package to my workplace.

Mr KingI was experiencing a particularly dark time back then. Having my mother’s beautiful statue come to me forty-five years after she carved it just when I needed it was an answer to a prayer.  Michael the Archangel has been proudly displayed in my home office ever since, serving as a symbol of God’s protection.

St, Michael

Saint Michael came with me to work yesterday, in anticipation of today’s presentation, “Dark Night to Daybreak,” at Shalom Spirituality Center’s Winter Breakfast.  Of course I had to explain the presence of the wooden angel to my co-worker Neal. Shortly after I told him about my artist mother and the meaning of the statue in relation to my presentation, a woman appeared in the adjacent office doorway.

“Is there a Mary Potter Kenyon who works here?” she asked. Our office administrator, Susan, pointed her in my direction.

“You don’t happen to be related to an Irma Potter from Earlville, do you?” she asked, and when I told her Irma was my mother, her face brightened and she grabbed my hand to clasp it in hers.

“I loved your mother! She was in the Ruth Suckow Association with me. I used to give her rides to meetings and we’d have wonderful conversations in the car,” she gushed.  She gave me her name and suggested we go out for coffee sometime. After she left I looked over at Neal.

“Do you have any idea how extraordinary that is; that you would be talking about your mother and that woman would show up?” he asked.

Extraordinary indeed.

This morning I spoke of my mother, David and Jacob, as well as the hope and light I found in God’s grace during the winter of the soul that grief brought. I unveiled the statue at the appropriate moment, hearing gasps of awe. When an older woman approached me after the speech, I wondered at the tears in her eyes.

“Are you Irma Rose’s daughter?” she asked.

“Yes, my mother was Irma Rose Potter from Earlville.” For the second time in two days my hand was grasped…one soul recognizing another. “You knew my mother?”

“I was your mother’s best friend in school. Until Irma Rose Weis came to our school, I was the only girl in a classroom of 13 boys.”

What is your name?”

“Edna. Edna Ginder.”

Just one other girl in Mom’s class, and there she was, in the room, as I spoke about mom and miracles? It was my turn to gasp. We reached out to hug each other at the same time.

I’m not sure how many times we hugged as I recalled other things; how I was with Mom when the Hospice team visited her for the first time in October 2010; Amy and Rose. Amy was Mom’s artist name and Rose was her middle name. When Mom heard the name of the nurse assigned to her care, she’d grabbed my hand in excitement. “Edna? My best friend’s name was Edna!” Mom had felt as though God himself had orchestrated this team who would companion her through her final days. Which of course, he had.

“It brought her great comfort to discover her nurse’s name was Edna,” I told her childhood friend, whose tears now flowed freely. We promised to get together soon for coffee and to talk about the young Irma she’d known and loved.

“Two women in two days who knew your mother,” my co-worker remarked when I told him of meeting Edna. While you were working on a speech about your mother and had brought her statue to work. No one can tell me that is a coincidence. That’s God.”

Edna Ginder
Edna Ginder, my mother’s childhood friend, front row, far left

My God story.



angels, Jacob

Random Acts of Kindness to be done in Jacob’s name

Iowa boy’s generosity during cancer battle inspires random acts of kindness.

I checked the stats on the “Jacob’s Ladder” Facebook page on August 19th and saw that the posting of Jacob’s passing had reached over 45,000 people by the end of the day.  Just imagine~ 45,000 people! It is mind-boggling. Jacob had been an angel in our lives and in the lives of anyone who met him, and many more who knew him only through a Facebook page. Jacob always had a smile, even for the nurses who had to poke him with needles. He always put others first. He saved his prizes in the hospital for his siblings, brought them gifts when he came home after weeks in the hospital. If he made cupcakes with the child life workers at the hospital, he saved them to take home. As he lay dying on the couch, he heard his mother say her back hurt from sleeping on the floor next to him, and his thin, frail arm reached out from underneath the covers to rub her back! Jacob, our angel on earth. One eight-year-old boy whose eyes and smile brought joy everywhere he went. Just think what 45,000 people could accomplish in his memory! 

When I announced on my Facebook page that I would be doing random acts of kindness in Jacob’s name with these cards:

I began hearing from other people who wanted to do the same thing.

A woman who runs a yoga studio in our town will be giving out cards at her yoga classes this week, as she offers her services free and collects donations for Jacob’s family. A woman who coordinates religious education wants 200 to distribute. My nephew asks for cards to give out. My sister and husband who will be traveling the country in their RV plan to distribute the cards all over the nation as they do kind deeds in Jacob’s memory. A young man in Dubuque promises to distribute them there as he commits random acts of kindness. A niece in Des Moines, an aunt in Ohio ask for cards… Prayer warriors, friends, family, and total strangers who have followed Jacob’s long battle with cancer ask how they can do the same thing.

One little boy. One short life.

One big example for the rest of us.

Matthew 18:2-5

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.