Another Mississippi Burning





My dear friend Deedy Salie lost her home in Mississippi yesterday. Deedy is a Gold Star wife. Her husband, David, was killed in Afghanistan. Long-time readers of the blog will remember that I wrote often of Deedy during 2005-2007. It was Joe Galloway who first introduced us to one another.

Here’s the story about the house fire from Deedy:


The kids and I are ok. We just got back from my Mom’s place in Meridian. We came back today and went straight to my brother’s house because we had family in from Fl. My nephew is a dispatcher for AAA and called me, “Aunt Deedy, are you home?” I told him no and he said he just got a call that your house is on fire. I started laughing and said, “ok, whatever Austin!” He said “NO!!!!!!! AUNT DEEDY I JUST GOT A CALL FOR 8 BARDING LANE!!!!!! YOUR HOUSE!!!” I yelled and Chyna to get in the truck and HURRY! We didn’t tell anyone we were even leaving. I live 3 miles from my brother and by the time I got there, doing 80 on back roads” the right side of the house was GONE. I ran to the porch and busted the window the the computer room where the safe is. David’s ashes and his flag were in there and I had to get them out. I got a couple small cuts, but it was too hot to get in. A volunteer fireman was throwing on his suit and asked what I was trying to get. I told him and that man went in that burning house and got David and his flag out! I did have to go to the ER. I started to freak, obviously, and before I know it I had people all around me waking me up. I passed out and then the panic attack started. They gave me meds and I’m “ok” now, but not if that makes sense. The house is a total loss, but my babies are fine and that’s whAt really matters. Thanks for all the love, prayers and support……I sure do need them. I’m just wondering how much more I can take.


One of the men from David’s company has set up a GOFUNDME account for the Salie family.  Deedy confirmed that the account was legit and that she would receive the funds. If you are able to help this family, please do so.

Thank you all for supporting this family.

And please, remember praying isn’t the least thing you can do for them. Prayer is the most you can do.


Imported photos.2011 3972

Book Karen

Keeping it Weird and Loud



I have lived in Portland at various times of my adult life. First as a college student, then as a young married woman. My three older children were all born in the Greater Portland area. I was living there when Mt. St. Helen’s erupted.

But Portland and I are like an ill-matched couple. No matter how hard we try to make a go of it, we simply can’t hang. We are good for a couple of days, reminiscing and catching up with each other, but that’s about all either one of us can tolerate  the other. We like each other best in small increments.

Don’t get me wrong. I consider Portland a beautiful city. I love her skyline and her river. She’s got some great shops and wonderful touristy things to do. She has some of the best food on the West Coast, and I love sailing on her waterways. And don’t even get me started on the many bookstores and readers. Portland is a reading city. I love that in any city. Besides some of my dearest friends live in Portland, so I don’t mean to disparage their fair city in any way whatsoever.

But Portland wears me flat out.

I don’t think I could have told you what it is about Portland that bothers me so until this last trip. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday visiting there with Baby Girl. (Thank you for your prayers. They are so helpful and such an encouragement during this difficult time.)

As we walked through downtown, I finally figured out what it is about Portland that grates on my nerves so.

Portland is a loud, shrill broad.

I live my life in almost monk-like silence. I go entire weeks where the only people I speak to outside of family are the characters of the books I am writing. But when the times comes for me to venture out, say to the post office, shopping, or getting groceries, even then my encounters are mostly gentle. People say hello. They hug. They visit a bit. Then we all go along our merry way.

Nobody is shouting at each other or over each other trying to be heard, except maybe at a ballgame.

Everywhere I go in Portland the noise level reaches World Cup fever-pitch. Restaurants. Street Corners. Stores. Even Multnomah County Library is unsettlingly loud.

It’s like everybody in Portland has something to say and they are all saying it, or singing it, or shouting it, or declaring it, or wearing it, or flashing it, or bumper-stickering it, or box-topping it, or petitioning it all at the very same time.

I think that must be why Portland is one of those places where tats and body piercings have been embraced with an evangelical zeal.  People in Portland appear to have such a need to express themselves and to make darn sure they are noticed.

The worst thing anyone can do to a Portlander is ignore them.

I know I am generalizing here. There are likely thousands of people in Portland who would like to live in silence, too, I imagine, but good luck finding such a person in Downtown.

The people Downtown are so dang loud.

Their clothes are loud. Their tats are loud. Their studs are loud. Their street music is head-banging loud. (I much prefer the street music in Baton Rouge or New Orleans. There’s a gentleness to it that Portland lacks). Their signs are loud. Their petitions are loud. Their restaurants are so noisy you need a megaphone to place an order.

I don’t know how anyone in Downtown Portland hears themselves think.


But then, maybe that’s the point.

They are not a city given to quiet self-reflection.

Portlanders consider themselves Progressives.

They don’t waste a lot of time looking back over things.

They like to think they are always looking ahead.

Portlanders are, in essence, explorers. Always in search for something new to try, they want to lead the way. They don’t much care where they are going. They just want to be the first to get there.

Keeping it weird isn’t something Portlanders have to work at. They wear weirdness like New Yorkers wear black. They are completely comfortable in it.

Bless their little stud-pierced-hearts.


Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain.








Book Karen

Death without a Funeral



This was going to be the blog post in which I announced that daughter Konnie and her husband are expecting wee ones.

I had it all written in my mind.

I was going to share with you how long a struggle this has been – five years. And I was going to talk about how many prayers have been poured out on behalf of this couple who have longed to be parents.

I’ve mentioned their infertility struggle in a couple of other posts. We’ve had those discussions about how our society has turned adoption and infertility into money-making ventures of the highest order. So please, understand, I’m not interested in continuing that discussion right now.

There are so many conflicting emotions that go along with the burden of infertility. We get a glimpse into that from several Biblical stories. But this post, it wasn’t going to be about the struggle. It was going to be about the rejoicing.

I was going to tell you how on Memorial Day, while at Arlington, three Vietnam veterans and I gathered around the grave of a beloved friend of ours – Gordon Wofford – and we held hands there and prayed both to God and that Tennessee storyteller whom we all love so much, and asked God and Gordon to intercede on Jon & Konnie’s behalf and to grant them the blessing of children.

“I’ll pray silently,” I said as those men in their yellow National Park Service shirts and hats grasped each other’s hands and mine.

“No! Don’t!” they said. “Pray out loud.”

So I did.

And then they did.

They prayed for my daughter to have a child. They love me and my children and I am so blessed by that love on a daily basis. They and their families are God’s gift to us.

It seemed magical, certainly mystical. As we were all there praying around Gordon’s grave, daughter Konnie was in the midst of a fertility procedure. This was supposed to be the post where I announced that God and Gordon heard our prayers!! Konnie was not only pregnant but pregnant with twins!!

I was going to tell you how I was in East Tennessee when I received the phone call from Jon and Konnie telling me that they saw two babies on the ultrasound! I had to pull off the road I was crying so hard. There was a lake and a field of yellow flowers there where I pulled off in the birthplace and burial grounds of my mother and my father.

Most people know what it is to cry out to the Lord in anguish for a specific prayer: For a healing. For a hope. For a restoration. For peace in a warring land. For forgiveness. Generations of people have prayed for these things, will continue to pray for these things.

Rejoicing seems too small of a word to describe how my body ached to give thanks in as equally an intense way as it had cried out.

How do I give thanks with my whole body, mind and soul? I asked a friend.

God understands, she said.

Even so, the grateful part seemed so pale in comparison to the pleaing part. I was going to talk to you about all that. I was going to get your ideas on how you express gratitude for those things that happen exceedingly abundantly above all that you ask for.

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

I have been so excited to share all of this with you because I know some of you have been praying right alongside us in this journey.

Instead I am sharing a different post. One in which I tell you about this wild and beautiful and so, so, hard journey that just got harder.

A routine ultrasound revealed that one of the twins has died.

The heart has stopped beating.

Konnie and Jon’s baby – our grandchild – lays lifeless in a womb alongside a sibling, who by all accounts appears to be fine. At least, that is our continued prayer and our hope. Feel free to join us in that, would you?

There is tremendous grief.

And not a small amount of anxiety.

Those of you who have walked this journey, you understand. You know how the sight of a stroller or an infant can invoke weeping. You know the conflict when kind people say, well, thank goodness there is the one, still.

Yes. There is gratefulness for that remaining life. And such hopes. And more than a few fears. But there is grief as well.

This was a fully-formed life. Lost. Our daughter and her husband will forever be the parents to twins, one of whom died.

It is, as a dear friend said to me, a death without a funeral.

Our hearts are hurting. I know many of you understand that hurt.

That first night after we learned of the death, I dreamed I was drowning. That I could not come up for air. I kept trying to follow the bubbles but I could not surface soon enough.

My daughter wants to know why. Why, why, why, she asks. It is so hard to understand.

It is the whys that drown us.

I told her that even if God himself curled up on the couch beside us and explained the whys of it all, His answer would never take away the hurt. Knowing why would not for one moment erase the longing for that child.

The promise of eternity does not diminish the devastation of death. 

A parent who is not devastated by the death of a child has something wrong with them.

When a couple who have longed to be parents lose a child, there is nothing to do but weep alongside them.

I planned that this post would be about our ridiculous gleefulness over the impending birth of the twin grandchildren to come. Instead, I sit here, so conflicted. Happy and sad. Grateful and grieving.  Hopeful and anxious. Broken wide-open yet again.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain.

Book Karen

What we can do



I leave town for a few days and I be dadgum if the whole world didn’t fall apart.

There are wildfires brewing in Wenatchee.

Bombs dropping in Gaza.

People shooting down  passengers planes from the sky over the Ukraine.

And let’s not forget the border crisis that is still in effect in the United States. Which leaves me wondering, what do the reporters in Mexico call it? Do they refer to it as a border crisis? Because you know the terms we use frame how we think about these things.

I know you all are thinking about the lives of those caught up in all these situations.

I’m putting up some links so that as you pray, you might also be compelled to help. Here are some places where you could do just that:


For the border, consider making a donation to the Laredo Humanitarian Relief Team. This team is comprised of The Bethany House, the Holding Institute, and Catholic Social Services have teamed up to form a system. For more information, Click Here. 


For those killed in the Malaysian flight, I suggest a donation to a local AIDS ministry or the AIDS 2014 conference.  Many of those traveling – estimates of a 100 passengers – were on their way to the AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne.  For more information about that conference or to donate to it, Click here. 


For help in Gaza, consider donating to the Save the Children fund. It has a high rating with Charity Navigator. And Save the Children is already boots on the ground in Gaza. Click here to read more about their work.

I know giving money seems like the least possible thing we could do, but it isn’t. There are people engaged in the lives of those who are suffering. We can pray for those who are ministering to the suffering and we can support the work they are doing, so that they can continue to deliver aid as necessary.

You may have suggestions of your own about how we can all take action and be of help. If so, please leave your suggestion with a link below.

And remember, Jesus us told us there would be days of trouble. He also encouraged us to be kind to one another during these hard days.

You and I, we can’t fix the world. We can’t. But the only thing that limits us from doing more of what we are able to do is our imagination.

And remember, praying isn’t the least we can do – it’s the most we can do.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain, Mercer Univ. Press.


Book Karen