Happy New Year 2013 – Reflections by Johnese



stomach sans-serif;”>Happy New Year from Ken and Johnese Burtram


The ringing phone pulled me from the edges of sleep.

“Happy New Year, Mom.” My daughter in Seattle made sure I didn’t miss the New Year.

I’m glad to step into a new year. The staggering changes of 2012 make this day of reflection poignant in its contrasts.  

God has called us to a place we feel so ill equipped for. But then, how does one prepare for the weight of leadership. These statements are not negative; just fact. We are confident of God’s call and equally aware of our great need of His grace.

Thank you to our many friends and colleagues for your prayers and words of affirmation and encouragement. You are our treasures. Words are inadequate to convey your value to us. We hold you in our hearts.

The losses of 2012 loom large in my reflections. The loss of relationships impacts me deeply.

In September, 2012, my mom when home to Jesus just thirteen days shy of her 90th birthday. In this loss, though not entirely unexpected, I walked into a new season. I am motherless.

I am grateful for the days preceding Mom’s death, days filled with family and remembering. Jeff, Janna, and Jim, I appreciate the gift of sharing this time with you. It is a precious time of inestimable worth. You’re the best. My Daddy’s unimpeachable fidelity to the wife of his youth is forever stamped in my heart. How blessed I am with a wonderful birth family.

In the grief process, I have reflected on the legacy I carry. In all her human frailty, Mom left me a cherished legacy. (“A Mother’s Gift” soon to be posted under Christmas 2012 at http://www.potomacag.org/wim_archive.asp ) I value most her spiritual legacy. The spiritual sensitivity she cultivated came home to me in an unexpected way.

The relationship goes back forty-five years; the incident comes from over forty years ago. We saw Wendell Ross, Ken’s college roommate, and his wife Marilyn at a funeral in New York last week. We spent a few minutes catching up. Upon hearing about Mom Wendell said. “I’ll never forget…”

Wendell and Marilyn were in their first pastorate after graduating from Bible school. The work was challenging and times were lean. Wendell came home for lunch one day. He had a sandwich with the last slice in bologna in the fridge. Marilyn finished the last of the peanut butter.  Their food was gone and so was their money.

Before returning to work, Wendell brought in the mail. He noticed a postmark from Kansas. The letter must be from the Turners, Johnese’s parents. He didn’t know anyone else in Kansas. The envelope contained a check and a note.

Billie Turner couldn’t get the Rosses off her mind. She felt like God was telling her to send them some money. She wrote a check and a note and hurriedly addressed the envelope. “Hurry son. This needs to get in the mail today,” she urged her son out the door to mail the letter.

That check provided for Wendell and Marilyn until the next pay day. And they never forgot it.

Mom heard God’s voice. I’m glad she listened and heeded that voice. I’m especially glad for the heritage that makes me comfortable with hearing His voice. Someday, I hope a similar story can be told about me. I also hope the same sensitivity is part the legacy I leave with my children.

2013. A new year – hope for new beginnings. We turn the page to an expanse of time yet to be marked by successes or failures, sorrows or joys. Happy New Year. May 2013 be a good year.



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