On Monday night February 4th at 10:15 PM, my sister Ruth took her last breath on earth. A moment later she took her first breath of heaven. Paul wrote, “Absent from the body; present with the Lord.”

My four sisters and I had the privilege of having Ruth as the oldest of the Anderson children.  Ruth was a superstar. It will be impossible to replace her. She lived with many trials, but she had unwavering faith.  Karen agrees that she treated all of our children like they were champions. In fact, she was the champion. And it never seemed like she was pouring it on for any selfish reason.  It was genuine and strong, yet without hype. We will miss the kind of encouragement that we were all used to getting from Ruth when she was well enough to give it. It also happened with almost every phone call.  She was an expert at focusing upon other people. Though she struggled with many hardships, she lived an unselfish life. What a great older sister. Life could easily have been about Ruth and her woes. Once she was able to deal emotionally with a divorce that she didn’t plan or vote for, she chose to be a victor rather than a victim.


We would visit Ruth, all twisted up in her body, but with a mind and heart still able to focus on others. Victims rehearse their life situation and feel compelled to tell you how bad the marriage is, the job, the church, the health. Ruth managed to focus on others in the midst of her pain.

Some people give those who make their life more difficult the power to make them miserable. We should never surrender that right to anyone. Sadly, people hate in order to get even, and it gives them stomach ulcers or migraines. Not Ruth. She knew how to live in a holy and healthy way, even with a debilitated body.

Victims feel entitled to a better life. Ruth wished for a better life, but she didn’t talk about it. Somewhere during every visit we would end up laughing. And Ruth had a great laugh. She could have been bitter; she was beautiful instead. She glorified God in the midst of her pain.


Jesus died forgiving his assailants. That was his first order of business from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  When I came back to direct Lutheran Renewal, I started a prayer movement. Someone who had hurt Ruth deeply wanted to be involved. I chose to speak with Ruth about it first. I explained what I was preparing to do and asked if she felt okay with it. Here’s what she said:  “Everyone is entitled to a second chance.” I marveled at her gracious response. She wasn’t holding onto bitterness. She lived well, loved well, and died to herself.

On one occasion as I was visiting Ruth, I rehearsed some of the hardships she had encountered. Then I asked her, “How do you deal with them all as you look back?” I was shocked at her answer–and deeply blessed. She said, “I don’t look back.”  Thank you, Ruth, for teaching us how to live. We will see you soon!


  1. Mary Esch says:

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your precious sister, with her beautiful spirit. She carries all her holy & gracious attributes with her to join into the glorious presence of our Lord in Heaven. God bless you Paul, Karen, & family, as you grieve her loss here on earth & celebrate her new life in Heaven.

    My thoughts & prayers are with you.
    Much love,
    Mary Jo Esch

  2. Daniel L Carstensen says:

    These are marching orders for all of us; she was such an inspiration. Just tasting some crystals off the tip of her iceberg held promise that digging deeper we would see Jesus more clearer.

  3. Brent says:

    Paul – I’m sorry for your loss. What a beautiful reflection inspired by your beautiful sister Ruth. Praise God for a life well lived and praise God for the freedom Ruth now enjoys in paradise.

  4. Dan Clites says:

    Paul. Indeed, I mourned and I rejoiced as I read your inspiring tribute to your big sis, Ruth. Thanks for sharing her life, her death, and her new life with your friends.

  5. Yosh Nakamura says:

    Paul, that sounds like your sister. I’m looking forward to meeting her one day. Yosh.

  6. Kathy Alex says:

    Thank you Paul for writing this. It moved me deeply and inspired me as well. The word suffering is something we don’t want to talk about much but through the sufferings of this life it makes us more holy if we choose God‘s way. I’m so thankful to people like your sister who chose God’s way. I imagine many jewels in her crown in heaven. 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  7. Sylvia Gleiter, LWC, Sun Prairie says:

    I am sorry for your great loss, Paul. Only God knows how many lives Ruth blessed with her faith, perseverance, wisdom and love.

  8. To Stuart says:

    Paul, Sorry to hear of your sister’s passing. What a wonderful tribute to her and rich legacy of faith for the Anderson family she leaves behind. God bless you!

  9. Judy Brocato says:

    Truly an amazing woman! I said this about her recently: When I came back to the Lord, I had a lot of questions. Some too difficult for me (like revelation)….She always answered me with simplicity & grace. Her answers were never complicated for me to understand. And, I believe with Ruth’s insistence that we stood with you, Paul, in her kitchen over 42 yrs or so ago praying for my little daughter who had the door of my car close on her little hand……….AND we received probably the 1st miracle I knew to be.

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