Welcome to my new ButGod.blog homepage! Click on the link above to see the latest blogpost.

I’m excited to share with you what I’m learning and how I’m growing, and want this space to be a place where you can do the same. I know you have stories to tell about how God has changed things in your life. Sharing those stories will encourage other people, so please be generous. Let us know how you’ve come through Covid, for example. I don’t want to be the only one talking!

Our family a year ago, April 2020

The short version of “About me”

I’m a happy wife to Dave, proud mom of three (plus two in Heaven and my kids’ awesome mates) and grandmother of three. I catch up with my seven siblings twice a month on what we call “Sib chat.” Between us we have 24 living children (plus wonderful spouses) and 25 grandchildren (so far…). So there’s always plenty to talk about and our every-three-year extended family reunions are a treat.

My birth family in 1962. I’m the girl in the middle. Mom was pregnant with our youngest sister.

We grew up in a small Mayan village in Guatemala, now a small city. We all attended boarding school through eighth grade, and scattered to “foster homes” in the U.S. for high school. I met Dave at Wheaton College. We helped each other to a Ph.D. for him; nursing and family counseling for me. While our four kids were growing up we had the privilege of living in Brazil.

At the beach in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, Christmas 2007–our last family vacation in Brazil with Karis. The header image is also from that time, on the windy white sand dunes outside of Natal.

I came with Karis to Pittsburgh for her first intestinal transplant in 2004 and have pretty much lived here ever since. Dave moved from São Paulo to Pittsburgh six years later and now works in ten Latin American countries as well as Brazil. After Karis died in 2014, we decided to stay in Pittsburgh to be near Rachel and Valerie and their growing families. Covid grounded us from a heavy travel schedule and like everyone else, we’ve learned to function and connect online.

Liliana, Caleb, and Talita, our three grand-loves. The two Covid babies are turning one and taking their first steps!

Besides helping with care of these three (I know–what a joy and privilege!) I’ve written my first novel, called Horse Thief 1898, Book One of the Cally and Charlie series. I hope this week to launch a Horse Thief 1898 website where I can share about the book, what it’s been like for me to write it, and now, the trek toward publication. I’ll include a link here once the website is ready.

Image created by my gifted nephew, Joel Griswell. It’s been terrific working with him! See more of his work here.

Meanwhile, wonderful friends in Mexico and Brazil have been helping me translate Karis, All I See Is Grace.

All I See is GraceTodo lo que veo es gracia —

Só vejo a graça

The Karis book is now available in English and Spanish; Portuguese will be out this month.

Karis’s experience and her journaling about walking with joy through tough times feel to me more relevant than ever, as we all deal with the multifaceted challenges of Covid-19. I’d like to tell you a little about the book cover image. This photograph was taken by our friend Cole Van Ormer shortly before Karis’s first intestinal transplant in 2004. Doesn’t she look great? You wouldn’t know she lived with a ticking clock controlled by the dubitable longevity of her central line, the way she was fed because her intestine was not working. She lived in constant pain and frequent hospitalizations from dehydration and sepsis from central line infections. What you would see is that smile, which reflected her deep trust in her heavenly Father, her “Papa,” and her love for you. That grace, represented by the Three Rivers fountain, covered and cushioned all the medical stuff, captured in this image by the most prominent building in downtown Pittsburgh, the U.S. Steel Tower which now has UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) in huge letters across its top. The fountain also speaks to us of the abundance of God’s grace–enough for each of us. Enough for you.

I would feel so honored if you would share this book with your friends and family.

How rare is a book that you want absolutely everybody to read? Debra Kornfield’s All I See Is Grace is that book. This is not another facile “rah-rah for Jesus” book. No. This one’s for real. It is an honest, winsome, compelling account of Debbie’s long, rollercoaster faith journey with her daughter Karis, born with a birth defect, struggling for survival, yet full of life for all of her thirty years. No matter where you are in your own life, you will find yourself in this book and live your next day with renewed strength and yes, joy. The Rev. Dr. Ann Paton, Professor Emerita Geneva College

Tuve el privilegio de vivir con Karis en muchos momentos. Nadie podía notar sus dificultades, porque la alegría estaba escrita en su rostro. Tenía un placer de vivir que era insuperable. Su gracia siempre contagiaba el medio ambiente. Hoy veo cómo tuve el privilegio de conocer a alguien que tenía un corazón AGRADECIDO. Sé que leer este libro te lo revelará. Gedimar de Araújo, Pastor Senior de la Iglesia Ágape en Vitória do Espírito Santo, Brasil.

No tuve el privilegio de conocer a Karis personalmente, sin embargo, al leer este libro tuve el poder de conectarme con ella como si hubiera vivido a su lado para siempre. Me encantó la profunda humanidad de las palabras de su diario, al mismo tiempo tan impregnadas de lo sobrenatural de su fe en el Todopoderoso. Como una especie de ‘bono’ divino, también veo foralecida mi conexión con la autora Débora, a quien quiero honrar y amar aún más com esta lectura. Cada línea de este libro es una invitación a sumergirse en la vida con valentía, fe y alegría, sin miedo. Gratitud, Dios, Karis y Débora: invitación aceptada! Elisa Delfini Corrêa, Doctora en Sociología Política – UFSC; Florianópolis, Brasil.

O lançamento foi adiado pela Editora Betânia devido à atual crise de Covid no Brasil. Estamos orando por vocês com muita preocupação.

Prepare-se para aprender olhar a vida com os óculos da graça, e para entender por que Romanos 12:15 (“Alegrem-se com… e chorem com…”) não foi escrito para pregar, mas para vivenciar. Prepare-se para não entender como é possível achar graça em meio a tanto sofrimento. Não estranhe se a Káris te quebrantar e te faz sorrir, e tudo ao mesmo tempo. E não estranhe se você se apaixonar pela Débora no caminho, é inevitável.         Ari Corrêa, Líder do MAPI Discipulado, Pastor da Igreja Presbiteriana Betânia, Florianópolis, mais um amigo abençoado pelo Deus dos Kornfield

Pensei: O que falar das qualidades de Karis, são tantas, qual escolher? A qualidade que quero destacar entre tantas foi sua resiliência em suportar o sofrimento sem denegrir o caráter de Deus. Era uma verdadeira adoradora, e fazia questão de ressaltar a soberania, poder e amor de Deus. Muitos por bem pouco deixam de crer em Deus. Nas linhas deste livro, você encontrará uma verdadeira adoradora, alguém que amava a Deus acima de todas as coisas.  Hildete Anjos das Costas Dantas, Gestora, Primeira Igreja Batista em Jardim das Imbúias, São Paulo, Brasil