Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Wonderful Life

One way to process the loss of my mother in September has been the making of a video of her 96 years. Her mother Ethel bought a Kodak Brownie camera in 1900 at 12 years of age. She 'developed' the film herself. About 30 years ago I got Ethel's albums, digitized the photos and started to ask all the 'older' family members at the family Reunions to identify the people and places. The photos have since faded beyond recognition! 

My mother, like her mother, was wonderful about keeping photo albums - one for each daughter and one for each of her six grandchildren. Son Peter helped me get this on YouTube and the sax (halfway through) is son Charles. Daughter Hope and sister Vickie took many of the recent photos.
The video may make her life seem 'ideal'. In some ways it was, but there were some difficult challenges that photos will never reveal. We witnessed her trust in Jesus Christ and his love for the fallen World in which we live. I am grateful for her 96 years and the care my sister Vickie and her family provided.


Best Mom and Best Friend (besides my husband)

My mom was always quiet, reserved and wanting to serve others.  She had an older sister that was the talker and more of the life of the party person.  Being the quiet one predominated during most of her life. She enjoyed serving others. One of her earliest memories was from right after the birth of her younger brother Bob when she was only four years old. A neighbor lady came over to help around the house and many food items were needed from their cold cellar near the farm house. She would ask my four year old mother to fetch different items and each time my mother would answer “Alright.”  They began calling her the little “alright girl.”  She loved reading stories to her two younger brothers as they would sit under a tree together out in the meadow.

As she tells on the back of the program at her request, although she attended church as a child, she didn’t come to know Jesus Christ personally until she was in her late teens.  As she grew in her faith, her life reflected many  qualities of Christ. 

Matthew 6:33 was a verse Mom encouraged her grandchildren with:
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 

She lived this out in many ways.

She took us to church without support or attendance of our dad. She volunteered and served at church in leading children’s church, doing childcare so the young mothers could attend Bible study,  with Daily Vacation Bible School and other ministries (Pioneer Girls, Junior Church).   
She prayed  with us at bedtime, and ended with a song to the tune of Away in the Manger about the Lord Jesus  looking down on us til morning is nigh.

When our Dad wanted to send us to camp because he had grown up going to YMCA camps,  she made sure it was a Christian camp.

She had a brother who was serving in Honduras as  Missionary Aviation Fellowship pilot and would faithfully share her limited resources with him and his family and many other Christian ministries.
She loved Christian radio and had it playing in our home growing up and in her Springmoor Apartment, especially at night if she had trouble sleeping, she would listen.
Two more verses that describe her are:  

Phil 2:3-4

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God….

She demonstrated this in the way she faithfully loved and served without complaining. My father, who for many years did not know Jesus,  could be difficult to get along with.

She was also the absolute best listener. She didn’t criticize.
Growing up- verbally process- such a good listener
-           Through all kinds of childhood traumas from academic challenges  , middle school term papers, Could talk to her about anything
After my dad passed I would phone her most evenings. When in the health center, she could no longer reach her phone, and I so missed those nightly calls! She missed being able to phone me when she needed something except when a staff member was around to assist her.

Even though our High school summers were spent away at Christian camps, and both Donna and I  went away to college - then moved away to work - she was always so glad for any visits. She worked so hard to get ready for visits and made them special-
I’ll never forget when I was in college and went home with a friend one time and when we got there her parents were out. Whenever I went home, my parents would practically come running out of the house to greet me with so much joy

One year I spent the whole summer in Spain with Operation Mobilization sharing Gospel literature and returned just in time for my Sophomore year at college. My mom, who was not much of a shopper (had grown up on farm, and sewed all her clothing, etc.) had purchased a lovely bedspread and curtains for my dorm room and had everything I needed to start the year-

Her interest in others was amazing- she remembered so much about people and what they shared with her. She would always ask us questions about things we told her that were going on and remembered just about any needs anyone shared with her. She was a loyal friend, dearly loved her lunch and Bible study and Sunday School friends, kept in touch with all at Christmas
Loved sending the greeting cards to her class; making the snack and bringing it

My parents planned ahead to not be a burden to their children- choosing to come to Springmoor in their 70’s.
Preplanned and purchased funeral /burial plot

Passed on wonderful sense of family-
Yearly week on farm/annual reunions

Philippians 4:13English Standard Version (ESV)
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
My mom lived out this verse during hard transitions in her life.
After my dad had two cancers and severe arthritis which made walking difficult, my parents knew they needed to relocate to be closer to one of their children.  It was my mother who did most of the work required to clean out and sell a house they had been in on Long Island for 39 years and pack to move to Springmoor. When my dad passed away in 1997, my mom entered widowhood, never complaining, or self pitying,  and was so independent all the way up until her one knee became arthritic and so painful  that she could barely get around her apartment. It was a fall at that time that resulted in the broken hip that sent her to the hospital and health center where she remained for the last three years in a wheelchair.

One of the hardest things for my mom as she aged was having to give up gardening. They had picked a ground floor unit at Springmoor because she loved gardens and taking care of flowers; and she was sad to no longer be able to do this.

Her last years were challenging….bound to a wheelchair, with impaired vision, having several hospitalizations, difficulty eating and breathing at times, and becoming more easily confused and distressed. We are so grateful to the Lord for these extra years we got with her and for the many lessons he taught us through them, but we also recognize Hiis grace and mercy in finally taking her home. She is now with her Savior in glory, fully healed, out of her wheelchair, dancing, and perhaps even enjoying beautiful flowers in a garden once again.

I’m so grateful to God for a mom who loved the Lord, sought first the kingdom of God, and who gave of herself to others in how she genuinely listened and cared for them. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, “Her children arise and call her blessed.”



Hi, my name is Jen and I am Janet’s oldest granddaughter. 

I want to thank Phyllis Mayo because she also did my grandfather’s service 20 years ago, and she has always  been a covering, and such a support through everything.

I have absolutely loved having her as my grandma all these years.

The first thing I wanted to mention is that since my grandma is in Heaven now, I think she has her own little Hallmark store,  Janet’s Heaven Hallmark store, and mine is going to be beside hers…  Jacquie, my sister also loves Hallmark cards and, our whole family loves Hallmark movies. My other sister Janet, who is her namesake, could be a representative for the Hallmark channel.  (We are a Hallmark family;)

It has been so beautiful to see My mom caring for my grandma all these years, when she would leave and we would be in charge, she would type a – front and back single spaced paper of directions on caring for Grandma.  My mom has been such an amazing picture to me of how God cares for us – He takes care of every detail of our lives.  The way that my mom laid down her life to care for my grandma was so beautiful and was just like Christ.

One thing I love is that my grandma would always notice what we were wearing and ask us, ‘What does your t-shirt say?” It was precious. Sometimes I would be excited when I was driving over if I realized I was wearing a fun outfit because I knew that she would appreciate it.

Before I left her each time that I would go see her, I would always ask if she wanted to pray.  We would hold hands and pray the most precious prayers – usually her requests were for anyone who didn’t know Christ, and also for her to have patience and be a testimony in her present situation.  I will always cherish these prayer times and the Godly legacy that she left.  She would always ask amazing questions.  She truly was a covering over us in so many ways.

My grandma also had a great sense of humor, we got along really well, we were kindred spirits. I loved bringing her cute stuffed animals, she loved the movie Babe, that was her favorite for a while, and we got her a little stuffed Babe pig that was beside her TV when she was still in her apt.

She  was also a teacher like I am.  And when I started teaching at Grace and made my classroom have an ocean theme, and she had just moved out of her apt into the health center, she kept asking if I wanted some of her ocean things to use in my classroom.  She was always thinking about others and caring about the things that were going on in our lives. 

My grandma’s name Janet – means gift of God and that is what she was and continues to be.   My sister Jacquie came back from China at the perfect time and has been such a wonderful care taker of my grandma as well!  Grandma really appreciated all that she did for her. 

Jacquie mentioned to me last week that she loved how going to grandmas’ brought our family together.  Not only on holidays but on a weekly basis, we would come to see grandma or take care of her and in doing so would have fun bonding moments and many dear memories are from those times.  We would pull up in the parking lot and see who else in the family was here too…

When Jacquie was sharing with how caring for my grandma brought us closer as a family, I was like, yeah, it’s like Grandma was our sport.  We don’t go to football games or anything like that as a family.  However, we are definitely Grandma fans and there was rarely a day that went by that we were not in that Springmoor parking lot or at the hospital when she had something happen etc.

In closing, every time we left my grandmas, she wanted us to kiss her on both cheeks. She truly was a grandma who loved so well, and I can’t wait to kiss her again when I see her in Heaven.  We referred tol taking care of her, especially in the latter part, “Grandma Duty”.  And now, God is the one on Grandma Duty, and I am sure He has it covered.  And I have a feeling that means her mansion is beside a Wendy’s so she can have her bacon cheeseburger and frosty whenever she wants!

The verse that comes to mind when I think of my grandma is James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Thank you, Lord for giving us our Grandma, without her, we wouldn’t be here.

We love you, Grandma!


Saturday September 30, 2017
We want to thank you for choosing to come and share this time with us as we remember Janet and give thanks and praise to God for her life.  We want to thank Phyllis Mayo for her years of service to Janet and Springmoor, we want to thank the staff of Springmoor as well as the Stewart Health Center for their care of Janet.  Janet was here at Springmoor for almost 25 years.  Whitey and she moved into Springmoor in December 1992.  We spent many hours these past years at Springmoor and with Janet.  For several of the last years when Janet was in her apartment, I would watch TV with her on Saturday nights.  She loved Lawrence Welk so we would watch it together.  I would tell people that I watched Lawrence Welk and they would just look at me.  

My name is Gordon Goeking and I am the number 2 son in law of Janet Null.  As Janet’s physical body was slowly failing, her mind continued to work well.  She had some difficulty but she could still communicate with you.  To say Janet had a sweet tooth is an understatement.  She loved sweets.  There were some sweets in her room in the Stewart Health Center.  I made it clear to her that I was not the one to give her sweets and for that she would have to rely on the staff or her daughters or grandchildren.  Earlier this summer she turned and asked me to get her a sweet just after she had finished her lunch dessert.  I reminded her that I did not do sweets to which she replied “you are now my number two son in law”.   Earlier this month, as we sat by the fireplace in the ‘new’ lobby, she turned and said: “I want you to take me to Outback Steak House on my 97th birthday”.  I replied that if I was here and she was here on her 97th birthday we would get Outback Steak House food.  

This past Saturday as we sat in the courtyard I was talking and asking questions and she said “You are just trying to make conversation with me.”  She was right.  She was mindful that she was going to die and was thankful that her sister Doris had shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with her.  In August while we were in the courtyard Janet said that when she was young, she did not think she was a sinner but a good person and then her sister Doris shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with her and she realized that she was a sinner.  Janet heard from the Bible and had understood that:  “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23; “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23.  Janet accepted Jesus Christ as her redeemer and now knows that “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” Romans 8:1.  Because of this fact Janet could now call “Jesus her Lord”.  In Romans 10:9, 10 we are told “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved”.  Janet had put her faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ as her redeemer and accepted that God had provided a way for her sins to be paid for by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.   One of Janet’s hopes would be that each of you have made peace with God and the Creator of the Universe so that you are able to live the joyful life now and are ready for life after death.  We are told in Hebrews 9:27, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”.  Janet’s hope and my hope is in the finished work of Christ and in the words in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Top of the World - Does life get any better than today?

Chamonix - French Alps

On  August 12th I landed in Zurich for  a unique tour - the 
300th Anniversary Swiss-German Mennonite Heritage Tour. I did not know anyone on the tour but this was a unique opportunity to visit the farms and hiding places of my ancestors who were persecuted as Anabaptists in the 1500's. It will take a while to filter through the photos and notes from this wonderful journey with author  John L. Ruth.

On August 24th the tour bus dropped us off at the Frankfurt Airport. Most flew home to the United States and Canada. I delayed my flight home for 4 days and flew to Geneva ALONE to learn more about John Calvin and the Protestant Reformation.  The truth is, I wanted to see if I could survive by myself in a strange place with a language I did not know.

A friend suggested I use the Viator website to look for day trips from Frankfurt or any other city in which I found myself. Viator offered a trip to Chamonix in the French Alps and I bought my ticket online.

These were my instructions:

Chamonix and Mont Blanc Day Trip from Geneva (2510KT001) 

Tour Option: Trip, Cable Car and Train 

Gare Routiere Bus Station
Place Dorcière, 1201 Geneva
Meet your guide at Keytours stand at Gare Routiere (Geneva bus station, near Square du Mont-Blanc)
Important Information
  • Your local contact is Keytours (Switzerland) on +41 22 731 4140.
  • Please be ready at least 10 minutes prior to departure time. 
  • Must bring valid passport. 
Tour Details
Tour Option Description:
Guided tour to Chamonix including the Aiguille du Midi cable car, Petit Train and Mer de Glace. Enjoy free time for lunch on your own. 
  • Transport by air-conditioned coach
  • Cable car ride to summit of Aiguille du Midi (not available from November 2 to December 18) (if option selected)

On Friday night I walked from Hotel Rousseau to Gare Routiere Bus Station, using Google Maps. (Carol taught me this in Italy -  to do a dry run - the  day before the appointment.) Okay, I found it easily.

Saturday morning I arrived almost 40 minutes before the bus was to leave. The bus wasn't even in the station. I walked around with the cup of coffee I found at the fancy Four Seasons Hotel. Starbucks does not open until 8am on Saturday in Geneva.  A porter asked if I had a room at the hotel. I said 'No, but I am desperate for coffee and Starbucks is not open '. He showed me how to operate the machine, smiled, and disappeared. 

The bus arrived and I was the first one on. It reeked of smoke. The tour guide, over 55, arrived on his bicycle with a white shirt and tie. The bus filled with people from all over the globe, speaking in their native tongue.  I had not spoken  to anyone for 2 full days and desperate for conversation and human interaction.

Neil handed out maps, explained our options, and gave us 3 important times to remember. He said we would see him only at the end of the day at Hotel Gustavia.

I listened so carefully to his instructions but suddenly I had no idea what I was to see or do before we met at Hotel Gustavia. A mother and daughter spoke English and I asked if I could join them for the day. They graciously said yes and THEY made the day! Louise and daughter Sarah  were from Dundee, Scotland and delightful in every way. Plus them understood Neil's instructions.

We took the cable cars to the top of the mountain, took a train to the stairs down to the glacier.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

July 2017

Yesterday Jim turned 71, same age  as Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, David Suchet, Tommy Lee Jones, Ed O'Neill, Danny Glover, Dolly Parton and.... Had we stayed in Anchorage💗 All Saints Episcopal Church would begin the search process for a new  rector anticipating Jim's mandatory retirement at 72.   The division at All Saints between Anglican and Episcopal would escalate. I guess the good news is that God had a different time schedule. The division occurred and both churches are healthy and faithful.
And we live in Loudoun County, Virginia in a Cottage Rectory next to an amazing new church building and amazing congregation.
And it is July and wineberry season on the farm.

The weather has not been too hot so far and there has been enough rain. Every time I walk outside I am greeted with 3 rabbits, 100 spiders, a chipmunk, groundhog, 3 squirrels, and a deer...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

6th Place ITI

 Congratulations Peter on placing 6th in a difficult race year.
33 of the 75  plus racers have scratched this year on the Iditarod Invitational (the highest number to scratch this far into the race). Peter said the difficult conditions made it especially interesting and he is glad he did the race.

2017 ITI collage 2.jpg

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

-50 - Go Peter!

We spoke to son Peter on the phone tonight. 
At the end of the week he travels from
Moab, Utah to Anchorage, Alaska to race, once again, on the Iditarod Trail. He will bike from Knik to McGrath, through the Alaska Range. The race begins Sunday Feb 26 at 2pm.
A few years ago Mark Devries flew Jim and I over the trail to McGrath, a village of 400. where 
Peter was teaching high school. This is a photo I took from the plane - looking down on the 
Iditarod Trail.

The latest news on the race website  says it was MINUS 50 in McGrath and snow is coming. Peter had spinal fusion on his back two years ago. He raced and won many times before the surgery. We will follow the race here


Friday, January 6, 2017

Christmas 2016

Exciting in many ways. We are in our new beautiful building and there is a 
comfortable unity of purpose. 

And for the first time in almost 40 years we are not hosting Christmas. Charles hosted us at his home in Birmingham and I loved it! He had a beautiful live tree and bought all the food at Costco.

Will our Marriage Survive. . . ?

So I said YES when a marketing person for Hilton Grand Vacations asked if I would like a 'free' vacation at a lovely resort. First mistake.

Second Mistake. I did not tell Jim....but he would have to come with me.

Well, there were some rough spots on the 'free vacation' but quite a few sweet spots as well.

Rough Spots:

  • The real cost once we got our flights, rental car.....for Orlando. 
  • And the grueling 3 hour sales pitch!

Sweet Spots:

  • Carol Sheridan's family planned a Sheridan Family Reunion at Disney World the first week in December. Becky Sheridan knows all things Disney. We had a day with them at Epcot that was amazing, thanks to Becky's knowledge of Epcot. 
  • We also went to St. Augustine for a night with Jim, Becky, Carol, and granddaughter Rebecca
  • We visited the Rev. Joe & Helen McDowell in Cocoa Beach - dear friends from our time in Chaptico, MD
  • We resisted the sales pitch.
  • Our marriage survived.

We took Charles and Peter to Disney World and Epcot in 1983!

Peter was 3 and had a difficult time with the dark tunnels and mildly scary encounters that accompanied every ride and exhibit.  He needed a few more years. He did like Donald Duck so we bribed him when he cried in every line, "No, don't make me go in there....! We said 'You can see Donald Duck!" That helped a little.

Then at Epcot we pushed him in the stroller into the China Exhibit. . .  and the lights dimmed. I don't know what possessed us to use the Donald Duck line again, but we did and Peter  got quiet.

The beautiful film on a 180 degree screen took us to the Forbidden City. . .  then through the giant doors  in the wall of the city to the dramatic climax. It was perfectly quiet until Peter shouted,"But where is Donald Duck?"