18, No Time to Waste
KATHLEEN ANNE WAS BORN on a blustery cold March morning in Michigan in 1951. I held her tightly to me, unwrapping the blanket carefully. I had wanted another girl and was delighted when the nurse told me we had a daughter. Two girls are perfect, I thought, contentedly, that morning. I had always wished for a sister but had grown up in a houseful of boys. It would be fun to buy dolls for them, to dress them alike, to experiment with hair styles, to buy pretty hair ribbons and barrettes and tiny patent leather shoes.
Suburban Grand Rapids was a quiet, peaceful place to raise children. We had just purchased our first new home, and we settled down with our two girls to a contented sort of life.
Although my daughters were extremely different, they were both precious to me. Cindy was tiny, with long curly hair that fell into ringlets a real charmer. Kathi grew chubby and vivacious, always on the go. She was a match for Sheba, the dog who raced around the house with her when she visited Grandma and Grandpa Johnson. She loved to catch the dog by the tail to make him "stop."
From the time she could talk, Kathi chattered with everyone she met. She loved to go visiting, and when she was only four, she delighted to hear of a trip to California to visit my parents.
"Girls," I told Cindy and Kathi one day in the spring, "we are going way out to California to visit grandpa and grandma, and when we come back, after a little while, you will have a little brother or sister." They danced out of the room, chuckling and giggling.
"Of course, it will be a boy," I told Vern seriously. "That's what we ordered." We were both anxious for a son.
We spent two delightful months with my parents near the ocean in beautiful Pacific Palisades, becoming more and more addicted to the soft sea breezes, the towering mountains, and the temperate climate. Finally, just one month before our son Richard was born, we reluctantly said goodby and took a train back home to the Midwest. Cindy and I sat quietly reading for most of the trip, while Kathi bounced up and down the aisle, meeting and greeting strangers, chattering constantly in her four-year-old gibberish. She was doing what came most naturally to her making people love her.
From the time Cindy and Kathi were babies, Vern and I had taught them about Jesus and prayed with them. Kathi loved to sing. Always the "ham," she would stand before adult groups and lisp out her songs. One that she loved especially was:
My desire to be like Jesus
My desire to be like Him.
His spirit leads me,
His love overwhelms me;
In word and deed, to be like Him.
Kathi was still and thoughtful when she heard the Bible stories and when she prayed. She seemed to understand at an early age what trusting the Lord Jesus meant.
It was late one Sunday afternoon when Kathi was nearing her fifth birthday that she came to me, took my hand, and said clearly, "Mommy, make Cindy leave the room."
"Why, honey?" I asked.
She pulled me down to her and whispered, "Because I want to ask Jesus into my heart."
I motioned for Cindy to leave the room, and Kathi and I knelt by the sofa.
"Dear Jesus," Kathi prayed in her childish voice, "please come into my heart today."
Tears formed quickly in my eyes as I hugged her to me. "Now remember, Kathi, when we ask Jesus into our hearts, He will never leave. He promised to be with us always."
She nodded, and her dancing dark eyes were still and serious. Kathi had made her first commitment to her Lord. It was the first stepping stone on her own private path that would lead her to future commitments and to that very last step.
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