Tuesday, January 20, 2015


From the summer of 1992 to the summer of 2009, I could count on this: Steve Damm would tell me all the time that I was beautiful.

I didn't always believe it, but even when I was doubtful, his words made me confident. This dreamy, smart, creative, hilarious man thought that I -- all freckled, bespectacled and curly-haired -- was beautiful.

It's been five and a half years since Steve could say those words to me, and there are some days that, good gracious, I wish I could hear them from him again. Like today, when the effects of whatever upper respiratory virus I have, combined with the aftereffects of my nighttime so-you-can-sleep medicine, make me look, well, less-than-close-to-beautiful.

But what I really know, what I can still count on in 2015 is this: Steve Damm wasn't always talking about my outward appearance. And, more importantly, we are all beautiful.

We are intricate, complex creatures capable of amazing work. We care for one another. We create music and art and poetry. We laugh and dance, sing and run. We've launched rockets and satellites into space. We question minutiae and the meaning of life.

We think so much of this world that we continue to create children, then we work to make life better for those children.

For a while, I was worried that without Steve Damm telling me, "You're beautiful," I would eventually start to forget. Maybe he had told me so many times that my bucket was full, but over the years, without him adding to the bucket, it would run empty.

I've since discovered that my confidence isn't rooted solely in Steve's words. My confidence comes from knowing that we are all beautiful. We are all blessed with another day on earth. Each one of us has a purpose and someone who needs us.

"I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well."
  (Psalm 139:14)

Steve and Tyra, New Year's Eve, at the dawn of 1993

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hands of God

Cooper and Katie this morning on Steve's bench at Holy Covenant UMC
(Temperature: 25 degrees!)

Katie set a goal four weeks ago to raise enough money to purchase one water buffalo for a family in need.

She designed a bookmark -- a drawing of animals on one side and poem on the other -- and sold them for $1 each. In three weeks, she sold almost 600 bookmarks and earned $921 from generous friends. As she says, that's enough to buy three water buffalo, three flocks of chicks and three sets of honeybees.

Today she was recognized in front of our church congregation for her efforts in raising money for Heifer International. Her total represents more than 10% of the total funds raised by our church during Advent.

A Heifer representative attended both services today to thank Holy Covenant for the donations and to thank Katie in person. Our new missions committee chair, Joy Lasley, also thanked Katie and gave her a pair of gloves -- "to protect the hands of God." Joy reminded us that we are ALL the hands of God and challenged us to help others in 2015.

Joy asked Katie why she wanted to raise money. Her answer: "A lot of people have all of what they need and most of what they want. And some people don't even half of what they need. I want to help people get what they need."

During both services, my big-hearted 9-year-old child received a standing ovation. 

Katie, who served as acolyte at the 8:30 service, wore the gloves this morning as she lit candles on the altar. 

And what song did our pianist play as she lit the candles? "Creation Will Be at Peace," one of Steve's favorite anthems. (You can listen to the version from his memorial service here.)

All my tears this morning represented a full heart.