When I Consider Thy Heavens

ShipwreckWriter Blog

Melancholy: 4th of July

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on July 2, 2010 at 10:24 AM Comments comments (2)

The 4th of July comes every year and I feel the same lump in my throat. Along with all the voices bouncing off the food table at our family gathering (usually at my sister’s house), there is one voice that echoes in my heart as the fireworks go up later on that night.


After ten years, no doubt everyone would be surprised to know that both Randy and I can cry like an orphaned child over our loss. No one is as surprised as me when a never-ending wave of sorrow comes along unexpectedly – out of the blue. No doubt each holiday holds its memories and the 4th of July is no exception.


I remember a favorite 4th of July that included Jennifer. I wrote about this experience in my book, Whippoorwill: A Journey Through Loss. Jennifer had gone through a rocky spring with some boy her junior year of high school. She didn’t even really like the guy, but he broke up with her and stunned her. No one had ever actually dumped her before – or so she said. Something about this loss or rejection triggered a sadness in her that I had never seen. This was in May of that year.


By June and July, she was back to her old self. I remember her standing on our front porch watching her siblings twirl and create fantastic arm aerobatics with duel sparklers. She stood by me, her eyes and smile obviously taking all of the joys of life in when she said, “I love the 4th of July. It’s so good to be alive!” Then she proceeded to light up two sparklers and join her younger siblings, twirling in circles all the time as her sparklers sputtered and lit up her happy face.


This was a happy family memory, frozen in that moment in my mind's memory. A yard full of kids enjoying the 4th of July. I was happy too and loved the 4th of July too at that moment. Just three years later, Jennifer was gone. Now, each time my extended family gathers to celebrate the 4th, a part of me is back on our porch, watching my own children celebrate the holiday. We all gather in lawn chairs at my sister's house and the men folk set off the fireworks – and oh what a show it is. It is a melancholy time for me. I usually gaze on above the glowing fireworks on up into the sky and wonder if Jen isn’t looking down with a twinkle in her eye. I don’t know how things like that work from heaven’s stance, but of course for those of us left behind, it does help to close up the distance our hearts sometimes feel when a loved one has gone on.


Here is a song that describes perfectly the pain that a mother (or father or sibling) goes through when a daughter, sister, son, or other loved one doesn’t make it out of the hospital after a tragedy. This song puts me back in the trauma center at St. Francis every time I hear it. I don’t usually listen to it “on purpose” because it drags up emotions that I prefer to keep buried below the surface of what is bearable for a person’s heart. Even so, Natalie Grant did a wonderful job of relaying the pain a mother feels when losing a child. She of course lost a baby – so she would know. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTPaCqiia6k 

 (Note: If screen goes black toward end- left click on mouse or use left curser button on laptop & video will keep showing.)


Grief or sorrow is an unpredictable entity. A person is never “cured” from its grip. Unfortunately, a person never gets to choose what certain day or time grief will come making a new house call – knocking on the heart of the one who must experience its pain.


I intend to enjoy the 4th of July with my extended family. I won’t play any sad songs that day. My nieces and nephews and some of their kids will be there and they will have fun and enjoy the evening. All my kids will be off on their own camping trips and fun adventures. It will just be me and Randy sharing the fun with our extended family that’s there. I am so glad our other kids will be off having fun. And they will be watching their own children twirl with sparklers into the night on the 4th of July in the best country in the whole wide world.


Years ago, our family used to gather on the local Air Force Base and watch the public fireworks showings there. It was an honor to sit on blankets and lawn chairs with the other military families. We all had a part in serving our country.


I remember the big show they held in an arena just after the first Gulf War – that summer. Kenny Rogers came and sang. The stadium was filled with red, white, and blue with all the military families. We had all gone through something that was rough. It was so great to just have a night to celebrate and see our flag wave and be thankful our loved ones made it home.


I love the 4th of July. It is great to be alive.

Everyone's Story Of Loss Is Important

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on March 4, 2010 at 5:23 AM Comments comments (2)

Everyone’s Story Of Loss Is Important

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


Yesterday was my last of two local book signings in my home county – Cowley County, Kansas. I was humbled by the steady stream of people coming in and wanting my “John Henry” on the book, Whippoorwill: A Journey Through Loss. But was even more humbling was hearing all the stories of loss from local families in our own area. There were many.


Each family member who looked into my eyes had that look that only someone who has lost a child or other close family member can understand. The look speaks volumes – no words are necessary. I sat and listened while others shared their personal stories. I understood their need to share. It is not always easy to find an ear to listen, especially after some time has passed.


From the group of participants who stopped by to get the book and donate money toward the Lighthouse Library project, the consensus of the group was one of the hardest questions to handle was, “How long has it been since his/her death?” Followed closely by, “Do you have other children?” The first question suggests that if it’s been over six months – get over it! The second question suggests that you shouldn’t complain – you have other kids! Of course this is not what people mean, it only seems that way – or did in the beginning.


I am thankful that this is no longer the “beginning” of my book’s pre-release but instead the ending of my local introduction to the book. The official public release date is set for March 22, 2009. I wish that were a more significant day to me. The first of my two local book signings, the first held at the Brown Store in Ark City, Kansas on February 15, 2010 was significant because it was so close to Valentine’s Day and was held on the day we officially broke ground on the Tiny Heart Chapel for the Lighthouse Library site.


Yesterday’s book signing at the College Hill Coffee Shop was on March 3,2010 – my dad’s birthday date.

I miss my dad so much. I thought of him all day during my book signing. He was a smart man and a very good writer. He kept journals of sorts – just notes on random pads and sheets of paper and receipts. He recorded how his work day was going – writing during his lunch time while working for the County as a road crew member. He did the rural roads – the gravel ones mostly. I got to visit with a neighbor lady, someone who grew up with me and our dads knew one another. We both missed our dads.


This neighbor lady inspires me more than she will ever know. She is someone who has lost her husband – young. She is a faithful contributor to the Lighthouse Library project. She and I joke about us building the Tiny Heart Chapel because none of the men who are volunteering will ever get around to it. It is just not a practical part of the library. The chapel is optional - to them. But it is not optional to myself or this neighbor lady. She “gets it”. She understand that in this mother’s heart, a tiny chapel on the library project site is necessary – not optional. We think that if the men would just frame it up, we can do the rest.


When I look into this friend’s eyes, I see her sorrow. Her husband died of cancer. She is such an inspiration because not only is she dealing with that loss, her elderly mother lives with her. She is a loyal and dedicated daughter. She is my mentor in being a good daughter to an elderly mother.


My own mother is elderly. She is now 87 years young. Every day when I head to my job over two hours in the opposite direction from my mother’s house, I long to head in her direction. I know she could use my help, although she will never ask or admit this. It is sad to see one’s parent age.


My husband’s parents attended my book signing. I was so happy they got to attend. My mother was my guest at my first book signing. They are all so proud of me for the book. But I realized something during yesterday’s book signing. A couple came in to get the book. They had lost a granddaughter to a car wreck as well. It was overwhelming to hear their story about their loss through the eyes of grandparents. I imagine sometimes the grandparents are left out when all the grief support is being passed out after such an event. The grandmother shared how close she was to her granddaughter. I could relate to this, having five granddaughter s of my own (and a grandson).


Grandparents don’t discuss losses much. This has been my experience. They are always responsive when a loved one is brought up of course. But outwardly, they don’t bring the loss up much. This caused me to wonder over the years if they remembered our loss. Then out of the blue, one would bring up some fun memory of our Jennifer, causing me to know they remembered. Both my husband’s parents and my own mother have kept a photo of our child out on display in their homes. Although I have never mentioned this, this one act has meant so much to me. It reminds me that they do remember and will never forget one of our children and one of their grandchildren.


The pain of a grandparent is two-fold. First they grieve for the loss of a grandchild. But they also grieve for the pain and sorrow their own child must go through. And for many, they have other losses such as the loss of a spouse or a child of their own from years ago. I have been surprised to find that so many of the grandparents who have come out to support the book or the library have (either in the present or in the past) also experienced the loss of a child.


I learned a lot at my book signing. I felt a huge sense of responsibility as the books were handed out. Those who were currently in the early stages of grief were the ones I felt the greatest sense of responsibility to. I remember standing in their place, hoping someone’s words would make sense out of things and help put my life back in order. Just like Humpty-Dumpty, we are put back together – but still broken.


As my book reflects, our only true comfort comes from the Lord. No spouse, no BFF (Best Friend Forever), no neighbor, and no pastor can “cure” your grief. Only God can wipe away our tears from broken hearts and keep us walking. I do believe He uses others who share their experiences to comfort and guide us.


I am reminded of the Fulsom family from Cedar Vale who I also mention in my book – our first visitors outside of our own family at our front door after our loss. Their advice to “keep walking” started my journey through the rest of my life. They may never read my book or even know about it, but I am grateful to them for sharing their story with us that day – strangers on our doorstep on the first day of the rest of our life without our darling daughter. I appreciate each and everyone who came out to my book signing and for sharing their feelings and thoughts. I appreciate all the hugs and handshakes over the book and the Lighthouse Library project and mainly, just for being a fellow human being who shared their story.


It was good to reconnect with old neighbors yesterday. Some, I had not seen for years. Some came to say “thank you” for funeral services I had attended over the years – some I had forgotten as they were attended too soon after our own loss for my memory to record. But they told me I was there for them. I will continue to attend funeral services of others as I know about them and am able. One cannot get off work (especially in this economy) for anyone but an immediate family member. But when I was the “boss” – the supervisor, I could rearrange my schedule to do so since I often put in 12-hour days. Now, I am low man on the totem pole, so getting off work is not easy.


It has been humbling to write a book, hold book signings, and greet those who come to get the book and ask you to sign it. It is humbling to know the contents of the book that I am sending out shares the story of a girl (to me) – a young woman really, whose life ended all too soon. At yesterday’s book signing, a good portion of the crowd who attended were people who were suffering the grief associated with job loss. The book is of course partly about the loss of not only my job – but my career in Education and the grief that followed that loss.


Sometimes endings are beginnings in disguise. My old supervisor attended my book signing. When I saw her, I wondered what emotion my heart would produce. Oddly enough, sorrow and hurt were the feelings I experienced in her presence. I felt sad - like you did when you were a child and someone was mean to you and you had only shown love to them. Like the line from the movie, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” the little one asks Santa (the Grinch dressed up as Santa), “Santa - Why?” when he saw him taking all the Christmas gifts from under his tree in his family home. This was the feeling I felt. “Why?” This answer I may never know. But this I do know – life marches on – and we must keep walking.


My book goes out to the world on March 22, 2010. May the Lord bless those who read its words and my God forgive me for anything I messed up on. May He comfort those seeking comfort and cause them to have the courage and strength to “keep walking”.


Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 (World English Bible)


Proceeds from the book go to the Lighthouse Library project. To order, e-mail ECCRC at: [email protected]  Or write to: ECCRC, PO Box 40, Dexter, KS. Checks payable to ECCRC/Lighthouse Library project. $25.00 suggested donation. Local delivery at no cost. To ship, please include $3.00 for shipping. Lighthouse Library is a project of ECCRC, a 501-C nonprofit community resource center since 2003.

God Shall Wipe Away All Tears

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 28, 2010 at 8:06 AM Comments comments (0)

God Shall Wipe Away All Tears

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


OK. I am sitting her wiping away yet another stream of tears. But one day, God Himself will do that for us:


3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.


4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.


6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.


7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Rev. 21:3-7)


Some of you have raised children and some have grandchildren. Nearly all of us has had some contact with the little ones be it teaching a Sunday School class, teaching in a public school classroom, or being in contact with nieces and nephews. We can all relate to the important act of comforting and wiping away the tears of those little ones when life creates a hassle for them. Their gigantic confrontation with an object, be it the corner of the kitchen table or a schoolmate “not liking them”, we can all surely relate to our attempts to stop the tears by first wiping them away and then providing hope and comfort.


When I am having a particularly hard day trying to get through the challenges that life presents, I sometimes picture myself as a child, sitting on the lap of a Father in Heaven who cares. Sometimes I invite the Lord to sit beside me in my car as I drive, although I do have to apologize for all the junk in the seat. Sometimes I am just fully aware of His presence all around me, in my heart, my mind, and almost coming right out of my being. Just to imagine one day that the creator of the whole universe wiping away our sorrow and tears is humbling and comforting.


Yesterday was my youngest granddaughter’s birthday. She is now five – or she said she would be when we ate her birthday cake. During the morning hours before we left to attend her birthday party, she had dressed up in her favorite yellow princess dress.


She went and asked her Papaw, “Will you please come to my ball and dance with me?”


Her Papaw, being just a little hard-of-hearing replied something about a ball in general. I knew what she was wanting, so I looked up a good "Princess Ball " song.  Next I went to get Papaw and explain that he had an important invitation to a "formal ball", and he needed to put his guitar down and get ready.


Here is the song I chose by Stephen Curtis Chapman. http://www.stevencurtischapman.com/cinderella.htm


Then I watched the most precious event (that I was not invited to) act out right before my eyes. There was my little darling granddaughter dancing with the love of my life. She looked beautiful and he looked so handsome. My mind flashed backwards and forward all at the same time and in many directions.


I thought of my own wedding and how my own father was not there to walk me down the isle since he had died two years earlier of a sudden heart attack. And how my oldest brother had “given me away” at my wedding. I remembered my son’s recent wedding and how he and I had our mother/son dance and his wife had her daughter/daddy dance – with this little princess dancing in their shadow – the little girl in the yellow gown today dancing in front of my eyes.


I thought of Jennifer (our middle daughter), who was planning her wedding at the time of her death. I sobbed over a dance that would never take place like the one in front of me on this special Birthday Ball. I thought of my other two daughters who grew up so fast. I remembered my oldest daughter’s special wedding day and her dance with her daddy – this man now spinning a little granddaughter in front of my eyes. That oldest daughter looked like Cinderella on her wedding day in New York. So beautiful. I thought of this little princess dressed in yellow’s mother and how her special dance lie in the future according to God’s will and His plan and in His time. I thought of this man who participated so willingly as little feet spun and jumped and trod and thanked the Lord for this man so willing to come to this special Ball.


Then reality struck as our clock began to ring out twelve and it was time to leave for the birthday party that was being held at the guest of honor's uncles' house!


Driving along the small state highway about half-way from our farm and the next nearest city, the princess blurted out, “We’re out in the middle of nowhere!!”


And she was right. I was both elated and sad to realize that she was now five and such brilliant realizations would lose their novelty as she grew up. But for now, there we were, the princess, myself, and the man of our life – out in the middle of nowhere but right in the middle of a place that I didn’t want to leave: the present.


(I think I finally figured out the definition of middle age. It’s the time of one’s life when you look both back and forward at the same time with tear-filled memories and hopes while hoping at the same time that time stands still.)

Book Signing - Coffee Hill - Whippoorwill: A Journey Through Loss

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 27, 2010 at 8:07 AM Comments comments (0)


Dexter –

Whippoorwill: A Journey Through Loss - Book Signing

College Hill Coffee Shop

A rural Dexter resident and Local author, Lynn Pettigrew Norris is holding her last pre-release book signing in the Cowley County area on March 3, 2010 at the College Hill Coffee Shop, 403 Soward Street, Winfield, Kansas from 3:00 p.m.– 5:30 p.m. in the Sun Room.. The College Hill Coffee website is at: http://www.collegehillcoffee.com/index.html


Norris’ book, Whippoorwill: A Journey Through Loss is in its pre-release stage and will be release to stores on March 22, 2010. The publisher is Publish America and the website to purchase the book online is at: http://www.publishamerica.net/product88852.html Proceeds from the book are being donated to the Lighthouse Library project. Norris will also have books on hand at the book signing.


“A special invitation is extended to Southwestern College who has been wonderful to show interest and inform other staff and alumni about the event.” Said Norris.


Norris is a 2006 graduate of Southwestern College where she returned to college to obtain a second bachelor degree, this one in Secondary Language Arts. She also obtained her teaching credentials through the Southwestern, doing her student teaching at Winfield High School. A poem written while a student at Southwestern College – the title from the book, “Whippoorwill” is featured in the book.


Norris also wants to invite old friends, alumni, and students from Cowley College where both Lynn Norris and her daughter, Jennifer whose life the book details, were graduates along with other family members.


“Cowley College dedicated their fall concert to Jennifer that year and this is mentioned in the book. Cowley College was very good to our family, both then and at my send-off into life as a young woman Jen’s age. Dean Scott served as a great mentor knowing my dad had died right before college started that year,” said Norris “


Norris also has a Graduate Certificate from Wichita State University in Educational Technology (2003) and invites WSU alumni to the event. She a second bachelor degree from East Carolina University, that one in Communications and Writing. She has ECU on her Facebook page where she says she is communicating with alumni from there.


A radio interview will air on March 2, 2010 on the KACY radio station, Ark City. The interview will give highlights of the book and the Lighthouse Library project. http://www.kacy.fm/ IMG TV Productions, Wichita filmed a clip about the book and about Lighthouse Library as part of their documentary on small town revitalization. Here is their blog/trailer: http://smalltownusablog.com/official_small_town_usa_movie_website/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog


Norris hopes to have book marks to pass out to anyone who ordered the book online, but their book has not arrived in time for the signing. She invites people to bring their books by the Lighthouse Library site in the future and she will sign them. She will also have brochures about ECCCRC (Eastern Cowley County Resource Center) programs and the Lighthouse Library project. The book features the story of building a library for the rural Kansas town of Dexter, Kansas.


“My husband has put so much time and so many years of his life into this project behind the scenes and hands-on with the building project. Since I started working in Wichita last July, he has been extra helpful with the local coordination of the project as well,” said Norris.


“We both agree that once the library is complete and the doors are open, we just want to enjoy the site, our hometown, and focus on the patrons and the programs. It has been very difficult (but necessary) for our family to share our lives with the public in order to try to complete the library,” said Norris.


Other book signings are planned in Wichita, Chicago, and New York in March. After that, Norris says she will concentrate on her day job where she serves as the Social Service Coordinator for 100 individuals in Wichita.


“It is our goal t raise the remaining needed funds to get Lighthouse Library completed and the 20,000 donated books set into place so people can start enjoying it. Hopefully the book will help generate some funds toward that goal,” said Norris.


Donations for the library project or other projects by ECCRC may be sent to: ECCRC, PO Box 40, Dexter, Kansas, 67038. ECCRC is a 501-C since 2003 and donations are tax deductible.


For more information about either the book or the Lighthouse Library project, go to one of these websites or URL’s: (ECCRC) http://www.freewebs.com/eccrc

(Norris Blog) http://shipwreckwriter-lynnpettigrewnorris.webs.com/apps/blog/

ECCRC on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ECCRCAdvocate

Norris on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShipwreckWriter

Norris also writes about the library on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Lynn-Pettigrew-Norris/100000674676523


"Thanks to College Hill for allowing the event in their Sun room!" Lynn Pettigrew Norris

So Much Sorrow

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 25, 2010 at 6:43 AM Comments comments (0)

So Much Sorrow

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


It’s sometimes hard to keep one's spirits up in down times. This morning, I am filled with sorrow and look forward to my commute to my far-away job for once. I can tune in to K-LOVE radio or some such station and hear some positive words. The news on Channel 12 and 10 sends me out the door so sad.


My mother is having health problems - thinking it is her heart. We lost my dad when I was 18 to a heart attack many years ago. Whenever something good happens to me - like when a publsher accepted my book for publication and when someone donates to our Lighthouse Library project - the first thing I do is call my mom! Who is the first person you call when you are really happy and want to share good news?


There was a horrible wreck near the Oklahoma/Kansas line on the interstate last night. A semi hit a car and four people were killed. Those stories leave me sobbing – thinking of the families who will receive the call to inform them of their loss. Our prayers go out to them.


Having lost a daughter to a wreck, I know the sorrow that follows such a call. But I wanted to share this morning how thankful I remain that our son is fine after a horrible accident earlier this year. He was ejected from his truck that left the roadway on a curve and tumbled top over end several times down into a deep ravine. He was found semi-conscious out in a pasture. I hope I remember each and very day to thank God for his life and hope I tell him how much he means to me.


There is really no point to this post – other than to express my thoughts on our troubled times in our nation and personally. The headlines speak of job loss and hard times. But there is hope if we keep our hearts open to hear the Lord’s guidance in our lives.


Hope you all have a good day.


Here is a verse that our daughter just loved - one of her last journal posts: “This is the day the Lord has made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

We Want To Start A Book Club

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 20, 2010 at 7:18 AM Comments comments (0)

We Want To Start A Book Club

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


As volunteers were loading out books to move the book collection to Lighthouse Library in Dexter, Kansas, we noticed that many volunteers were pausing and saying, “Hey, this looks like a good book!” Then they would “check out” the book to take home and read. I have done the same while going through the 20,000 donated books. There are so many good books and I am so excited about when we can actually open the library doors and share the wonderful collection.


For example, I was attending mid-week church services in Dexter when under announcements, it was revealed that Gracia Burnham would be coming to our small town church soon as part of a singing group. Our pastor’s wife commented about the book that was written by Gracia Brunham, as she reminded the group that Gracia is the missionary whose husband was captured and killed while on their mission. It tells about her year in captivity.


After our Bible study, I went upstairs to the youth room where several boxes of the “overflow” donations of books for Lighthouse Library are temporarily being stored until we can move them to the library. Low and behold, in about the third box I went through – there was the book that our pastor’s wife praised! I could hardly believe it. So we will have that in Lighthouse Library for others to check out soon.


A review of IN THE PRESENCE OF MY ENEMIES, Gracia Burnham with Dean Merrill, Tyndale House Publishers can be found here: http://www.faithfulreader.com/reviews/0842381384.asp


It will be so fun to form a book club. People can read a book and then comment on it. It would be good if we could create a data base with short descriptions of the books in Lighthouse Library. As volunteers work to log the 20,000 books into the book cataloging program, a short description is needed. Usually the cover provides the description for the computer program. The book club will take that a bit further. We can discuss what we liked or did not like about a particular book.


Several have asked about library cards for Lighthouse Library. We will issue those before the doors open. We would like to see a record number of books checked out on the first day. More information about the library cards will be provided in future blogs. Unless someone donates the scanner system, we will be using the old-fashioned library cards. But we will be able to use the modern computer book cataloging system – thank goodness!


We will add a “Book Club” tab to the ECCRC website  http://www.freewebs.com/eccrc in the near future. You will be able to join the book club from that tab. It will be fun to have a kids’ club too. This website should be helpful as we form our book club: http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/How-to-Start-Your-Own-Book-Club/1


Salt Water Aquarium At Lighthouse Library

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 20, 2010 at 7:13 AM Comments comments (1)

Salt Water Aquarium at Lighthouse Library

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


Lighthouse Library has a children’s section under the loft area. This area will have a local artist decorate the walls with ocean decorations. There will be kids' tables and floor pillows for kids to relax and read good books. A volunteer newly-created Ocean Character will visit on occasions and read to the children. But the children need an ocean aquarium in their area. What an educational tool this will be! to learn about ocean life.


The kids get the entire east wall where a long aquarium where we will work to create a salt-water (ocean) fish aquarium. We are working with an “expert” on salt water aquariums from Wichita – someone who has created several successful ones. He has the text book on “how to create an ocean aquarium”. So his book together with his practical experience should be helpful.


There will be port hole windows in front of the aquarium along the east wall of the library. The kids can look into the aquarium from inside the library or from the outside through the portholes. ECCRC wrote a grant in hopes of obtaining the needed funds to create this children’s project for the children’s area, but sadly our project was not chosen. We are looking for a local sponsor to help create this for the children.


The approximate cost for the aquarium supplies, building materials, and the fish is about $1,500. We will gladly call this a “naming opportunity” and put your business name or your family name on the aquarium. What a nice gift for the local children, youth, and adults alike – as well as visitors to our town. For inspiration, take a child to this business in Wichita: http://theaquariuminoldtown.com/


Or take them to a zoo or other place where there is an aquarium and watch their eyes light up when they look at the fish.


We can even start an Aquarium Club for anyone (adults, youth, or children) who want to help with this project from start to finish – and continue to meet as our aquarium grows. Having an Ocean Life Aquarium is a unique feature for Lighthouse Library and we hope there are partners out there with the time, interest, and funds to help make this project a reality. If interested, e-mail ECCRC at:

[email protected]

or call: (620) 212-8582.

Book Signing - Brown Store For Whippoorwill

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 12, 2010 at 10:07 PM Comments comments (0)

First Pre-Release Book Signing at Brown Store for Local Author Lynn Pettigrew Norris

Ark City, KS-


Local author, Lynn Pettigrew Norris will hold her first book signing at the Brown Store, 225 S. Summit in Ark City, Kansas (http://www.thebrownstore.com/) on February 15, 2010 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


Norris’ book, Whippoorwill: A Journey Through Loss was pre-released on January 21, 2010 and will be released on the national market on March 22, 2010. The publisher’s website to order the book is at: http://www.publishamerica.net/product88852.html The author is donating proceeds from the book to Lighthouse Library, a project of ECCRC.


The book shares a family’s journey through the decade following losing a daughter and sister to a tragic auto accident. The book also covers other losses in life such as loss of health and loss of a job. It features other families who have faced severe struggles in life.


Jennifer Nicole Norris had visited the family farm near Dexter, Kansas on her last weekend of life. That weekend was special in many ways. Her sister was up for Homecoming Queen at Dexter High School’s Football game that Friday, her grandmother’s church, Hicks Chapel was holding its Homecoming dinner and program that Sunday, and a wedding shopping trip to Wichita was taken that Saturday by the family to complete plans for her approaching wedding and then Jennifer headed back to K-State after a church service that Sunday evening with her family at the Dexter Baptist Church.


After an accident in Geary County, she was transported from Geary County Hospital where she was later taken by Medi-Vac plane to St. Francis Trauma Center in Wichita where she later died. The book shares journal entries and other thoughts about that time. The author says she hopes that the book will help other families who have lost a family member as there were few books at that time that provided much comfort or help.


A tale of a mid-winter Whippoorwill that refused to leave a bedroom window sill is featured in the book. The book uses a spiritual approach to grief with Bible passages that the author and her family found helpful during that time. It also shares support offered from other families who had also lost a child or family member resulting in a local grief recovery group that was started by ECCRC where many local families gathered for several years.


The website for updates about Lighthouse Library is at: http://www.freewebs.com/eccrc

Photos of the project are featured on the ECCRC website and at the author’s blog at: http://www.freeweb.com/shipwreckwriter-lynnpettigrewnorris

You may follow the author on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ShipwreckWriter or follow the Lighthouse Library project on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ECCRCAdvocate

 You can find the author on facebook as Lynn Pettigrew-Norris at: http://www.facebook.com/people/Lynn-Pettigrew-Norris/100000674676523


Norris holds a Secondary Language Arts teaching license, a BA degree from Southwestern College through their Education program, a BS degree from East Carolina University in Communication, and a Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology/Curriculum and Instruction from Wichita State University. She also holds an AA degree from Cowley College. She started several education programs and served as the Education Specialist for the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas after developing and implementing that branch for their association. She is presently working as a Social Service Coordinator and serves as the Director of ECCRC and Lighthouse Library.


“Lighthouse Library has been built by small public donations and sweat-equity of many, many volunteers and local businesses and contractors who offered service, time, and devotion to the project. Others have donated building materials and helped with fund-raisers.” Nearly $35,000 was raised to purchase the building material. Volunteer crews of licensed contractors, plumbers, electricians, large equipment operators, and others contributed to the project. A DVD is available that documents the project.


IMG TV Productions from Wichita has been to the site to interview the volunteers last year and they are returning to complete their documentary next week. The 25-ft. lighthouse was set into place in the library’s courtyard and will be featured in the documentary along with the other buildings on the site which include the Treasure Chest thrift store, the Grouse Valley Lodge (both sustaining projects for the library). The dedication of the Tiny Heart Chapel, a 24/7 roadside chapel on the site on Valentine’s Day, 2010 and the ECCRC Board will hold the groundbreaking ceremony on Presidents Day, 2010.


The public is invited to the Presidents Day book signing on Monday, February 15, from 11:30 a.m. at the Brown Store . A limited supply of books will be on hand and brochures with information about how to purchase the book will be on site.


“Even if you prefer to order a book online from the publisher, you are still invited to stop by the Brown Store for brochures about the book and the Lighthouse Library project. You may bring your book by Lighthouse Library in Dexter after it opens any time and I will sign it. It is still seems unreal to be holding a book signing and reminds me of our first day at the library site with the whole project still ahead of us. It is an honor to share the story of our daughter, what her life meant to us and to her community, and about a library that her life inspired for the small rural town of Dexter. I give the Lord all the praise and want to share with others that there is hope and joy in the midst of life’s deepest sorrows.”

Valentine's Day's Melancholy Meaning

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 4, 2010 at 4:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Valentine’s Day’s Melancholy Meaning

By Lynn Pettigrew Norris


Valentine’s Day is approaching. It is a day of fun traditions, candy, and flowers. But for many, it is a day of dread!


I remember years ago when our girls were in school, the school would sell carnations at the school for anyone wanting to give a flower to an admirer. It is not easy raising girls. They are super sensitive, and rightly so (I’m a girl – so understand). My husband used to make sure the girls had a flower and chocolate on Valentine’s Day and sometimes had them delivered to the school. Nothing was more wearing on a young girl than to not receive a gift from an admirer.


In my book, Whippoorwill: A Journey Through Loss, I reflect on our middle daughter’s thoughts about Valentine’s Day. She detested it (said while smiling). She could not hack the unfairness that many really nice girls were left out of the day. The whole day just infuriated her. (again - still smiling at recalling her spunk). Even when she had a boyfriend, she still thought the day was silly. One year, she and her sister walked to a beautiful rock bridge near our farm that was built over Grouse Creek in Kansas and they shredded a valentine’s bear over the bridge. They were being silly – their protest to the day. No doubt the bear (or whatever it was) came from some young man who had fell from her graces. Or maybe the action was just a relief from the dreaded day. They laughed about that day when they were young girls many times.


I remember when my dad was alive, he always gave my mother roses and chocolates. My husband carried on that tradition by visiting both my mother and his to honor them on Valentine’s Day for years. Then he passed on the tradition to me. Sometimes he forgets that I am not his mother – and diamonds are a girl’s best friend (kidding), but he has a good heart. I am way too practical for roses that fade in a day or expensive chocolate – when a Hershey’s bar will do just fine.


My favorite Valentine’s Day memories are from my own childhood when they had us make home-made Valentine’s in school using those white doilies. I also have a trunk full of home-made Valentine’s Day cards from my kids. I of course like poems and included a Valentine’s Day poem in my book. I wrote it to my mother the first year after Jennifer died on Valentine’s Day.


Jen’s headstone is a heart – and ironically we bought it on the first Valentine’s Day after her death. It all seemed symbolic and fitting to honor her life. I always get a little melancholy on Valentine’s Day. I remember my girls and how much fun they had joking about the day. I remember Jennifer and how much she liked little hearts. She put hearts on everything. Since her death, I sign every funeral register where I attend with a tiny heart by my name – my signal to Jen that I remember.


We are working on the Tiny Heart Chapel – to be set on the grounds of the Lighthouse Library in Dexter, Kansas. I have the heart and cross stained glass window from Bearden’s Stained Glass in Wichita. We also have many heart decorations for the interior and even a dark pink carpet. I have three tiny pews.The chapel is my Valentine to honor both our Lord and the life of a girl who loved life very much. It will be a free 24/7 roadside chapel. We are using the left-over lumber from the Lighthouse Library project to construct the small chapel. We plan to break ground this year on Valentine’s Day.


Here is the song “Love Never Fails” by Brandon Heath. It covers I Corinthians:13. This was the Bible verse my husband and I included in our wedding ceremony – a long time ago. The words still stand true. http://www.ilike.com/artist/Brandon+Heath/track/Love+Never+Fails


Dreams - Sometimes Reveal Insight Into Conflict Or Solutions

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on February 4, 2010 at 3:26 AM Comments comments (0)

Dreams –

Sometimes Reveal Insight Into Conflicts Or Solutions

Lynn Pettigrew Norris


Last night I dreamed that I dyed my hair black. After some research, I had the choice between this symbolizing a depression or that I was going to connect with old friends. I am not depressed, so I choose the second thought. Recently, I set up an account on Facebook. I was never going to do this – but in a weak moment, and during a long, boring snow storm, I set up an account.


Years ago when we lived in North Carolina, there was a “famous” barbeque place that everyone talked about. Anyone visiting the area at there at the referrals of all the locals. I made a conscious decision not to eat there It was a conversation piece since I literally the only person I knew who had not eaten there. This was my same intent with Facebook, but somehow I gave in and joined the online network of Facebook.

Due to this recent action, I suppose the dream meaning I might connect with old friends makes perfect sense. So how does our subconscious mind figure such things out?


I remember when I was writing my book, Whippoorwill: A Journey Through Loss, I would dream paragraphs and full chapters. When I woke up, I would record the thoughts and words in my journal. A recurring subject (although the dream content changed) was that of a lion chasing me. I felt so threatened – so exhausted from the fear that I would be pounced upon at any moment. I describe the meaning of these dreams in my book. The wild beasts – lions and tigers – have since gone away. I have moved on with my life. The threatening animals represented perfectly my feelings of being trapped by a bullying employer.


I have a wonderful employer now. It was hard and scary entering into a new career field. I compare my feelings to those of someone who left a very bad marriage, divorced, and then met someone new – a nice person. For days, weeks, and months, I was on guard – still watching for the lions to reappear in my dreams. They have not.


This was the third night in a row I have been awakened by a vivid dream. Their meanings are friendly, good symbols. Sleep has escaped me for the past month due to a neck injury. A heat pad and Advil have helped me along the road of healing. I still wear a neck brace (collar) to work and always will have to wear it while I am driving. But that’s fine. Life is good and my dreams are happy now.


If you have a bullying supervisor or job, leave! Life is too short. It’s just a job. No one should have power over you to the point of them showing up in your dreams in the form of some wild beast chasing you or your family members. There will be another job for you. Just give it some thought – and sleep on it.