I thought it was cool to hit 75 last month. Not sure you enjoy your landmark as much. Do guys think differently about age?

I am grateful that you stayed at Trinity Lutheran when you came to California in 1972. You wondered if you had made a mistake. You went to the Communion Service still in limbo about returning to Minnesota or becoming a missionary in Japan. A prophetic word from Bud Hahn gave you peace. He said, knowing nothing of your situation, “You are in the right place.” You felt that God had spoken. I am grateful, because I married you three years later. I continue to discover rich things about you.


You believe in the power of prayer–and always have. So thankful that as a pastor and leader I don’t have to drag along a reluctant wife. Sometimes you are pushing me, because…


You encourage me to sing in the Spirit. I may be known by a few as the “Holy Spirit guy,” with seventeen years at Lutheran Renewal. Yet you often lead the charge when it comes to the gifts. 


You are not a American. You identify strongly with people from other countries, especially Asian, and particularly Japanese. You imbibed the culture, living in Japan from age three to seventeen, formative years. It shows often. And yet you have embraced a kind of community life very different from your cultural preference. God honors you for that.


You have done a great job of honoring your parents, and I see it reflected in the way you treat other elderly people. You are especially comfortable with them.  You are great with the little ones but just as effective with the older ones. You make them feel important, like they have value. You listen well to them.


I was amazed when I spoke to you three weeks ago the evening after you had your suitcase stolen at the very beginning of your family cruise. You were upbeat, having fun with your siblings. I said, “You let it go, didn’t you?” You said, “Yes.” Most women would have been absolutely crushed. You handled this major setback with maturity. We have our disagreements. So glad that we can always work stuff through to a good resolution, because you let things go.  


We balance each other off. Your strengths are my weaknesses, and vice versa. When I am going too fast, you slow me down. When you are moving too slow, I speed you up (sometimes). We do a good job of making each other laugh.


I don’t know if you have ever turned down your children when they asked for childcare, which is almost daily. You are a master at grandmothering. You define the word. Your children know that you will drop anything for their kids. You far outshine me in the grandparent arena.

So, Mrs. Anderson, my invisible hat goes off to you. I suspect that we may only have about thirty good years left, so let’s make the most of them. Much love and affection,



Remembering Karsten Elias Anderson, February 20, 1985.


After three difficult births, we prayed that this one would be different. We blessed him at night along with the other children. But one week before he was due, there was concern as her ankles were swollen. An ultrasound was ordered when Karen reported no movement. The technician asked when we had last heard a heartbeat. Karen answered, “Friday.” It was Tuesday. The lady said no more for ninety long seconds. We thought, “Oh, no.” After searching in vain, she said, “I am afraid I have very sad news. There is no heartbeat.” Karen in shock went into the other room and began to sob with horrendous heaving cries coming from deep within. He was due in a few days.

We went to the hospital and had labor induced. Karen delivered Karsten Elias twenty hours after we arrived. The short cord wrapped about his neck three times was the first possible explanation. An autopsy revealed nothing more. It was hard to have questions without answers.

Our children comforted us best. Naomi at five expressed deep disappointment at not being able to bring Karsten home: “But I wanted to stroll the baby.” When we explained what happened, she said, “Then God will have to stroll the baby.” One day she announced, “We’re going to have a girl next time, and she’s not going to heaven.” Naomi was right on both counts. Erikka (due on Karen’s birthday) came weighing in at twelve pounds, almost twice the weight of Karsten, truly a “double blessing,” which helped to bring healing and feel God’s love. She was followed by Israel and Karis. I was so proud of Karen for having three more after losing one at birth. Brave woman!

How do you un-plan when you have planned for a year? The difference between life and death is great. Karen felt abandoned and rejected. It took many months before she could sing again. We are thankful that we will see Karsten again! We agreed that during our grieving we had never felt so loved by people. We thought of those who had gone through similar hardships without the support system we had. We prayed that we would learn better how to comfort others. People sometimes wonder if they should bring up the deeply grievous situation. We found help in sharing our sorrow. We discovered that healing comes (ever so slowly) from remembering. Karen began to experience healing when she finally allowed the Holy Spirit to come to her and slowly comfort her–eight months after holding a lifeless body of the boy we had looked forward to meeting. We will one day. Don’t know how old he will be or whom he will look like. He will most likely look like an Anderson.

I emailed this note to our children on February 13, 2018:

Tomorrow is a happy day and a sad day. It is Valentine’s day and Ash Wednesday. We lost Karsten Elias on Ash Wednesday. Time does not take away the great loss, but it has eased the pain. It helps us to remember when others remember with us. Saying something comforting to Mom would be well-landed words. It had been prophesied that this birth would be different.. It was different all right. How could God let a perfectly healthy baby die? And not only ours but all the grief and pain in the rest of the world.

Others helped carry her grief, like Sue Guldseth her mentor. The light began to come back into her dark soul when she “gave God permission” to begin the healing process. The real culmination will happen when we see him on the other side. Until then, we remember, and we do our best to “weep with those who weep.”



So, I guess I’m supposed to come up with something real lovey dovey, like, “I loved you when I married you, but now I love you even more.” But I’m afraid if I said this it would be a gross understatement, because I love you much more.

I didn’t know when I married you…

  • how much you would love your children. You think about them all the time, pray for them, serve them unselfishly.
  • how much you would love your grandchildren. I know we’re not in competition, but it sure seems like you love them more than I do. When you come home from caring for them, you sometimes say strange things like, “I felt when I looked at her (or him) that I was seeing the eyes of God.” That thought had never occurred to me.
  • how much you love your parents. You talk to them in California every day. Am I jealous? I am impressed. I would want that kind of care at 94, and you give it freely. I love them in large measure because you have loved them well all these years.
  • how Japanese you are. One Japanese gal said after staying at our home for six months, “Karen-san, you are more Japanese than I am.” Japanese people are private people. It almost makes me laugh (or cry) when I think of how private you are, and yet we have had people staying in our home from the get-go. And we’ve had non-stop ministry. You have given up a lot, when it was not your nature or perhaps your first choice. I know that some women would have said, “Enough is enough.” I think God has rewarded your obedience by giving you a flock of grandchildren. You have always been a happy person, but you seem at your happiest now caring for them. You won’t give up our date for much, but you will for the grandchildren.
  • how much you were a Holy Spirit girl. After serving seventeen years with Lutheran Renewal and doing congregational Holy Spirit weekends, some may consider me the Holy Spirit guy. You are always pushing me in that area, asking if I sang in the Spirit with the grandchildren or over the people I counseled. I love the Word of God and I have my devotional time. But I haven’t been as regular as you. I am grateful that you are a spiritual person who believes strongly in the Word of God and in the Holy Spirit.
  • how little you whine. You sing instead.
  • how much you would believe in me. I feel somehow like you not only love me but you admire me. That makes me more confident, more able to do what I feel called to do. Thank you for believing in me. Same to you and more of it!!

I need to say that I was not your ideal husband. Sometimes I was a jerk, like when I left you and five children because I had to get down to church early on Sunday. All you had to do was get them breakfast and dressed and down to church in 45 minutes. I interrupted family gatherings with “guests,” because they needed counsel, a place to stay, or a meal. But I will also say that I love you more now than when I married you, and I was crazy about you then. Where does that leave us now? I’d say we’re in love! Happy Valentine’s Day, Karen!


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!