Widows Walk

Widow. It’s a word no woman wants to describe her. But there are many. Over the last several years, I have had the privilege of coming to know the deep well that is a widow’s heart through friendships with some amazing women who are walking that road. Walking together.

There is a group of women who gather once per month for lunch. Simple fare. Nothing fancy. No hotdishes and bacon wrapped whatever. They dine on cheese and crackers, and they meld their hearts together. Widows Walk is what they call themselves. And their walk amazes me.

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Uncle Roger

I’ve been fighting a virus all week. The worst I’ve experienced in a long time. And the virus made its way into my lungs with the start of pneumonia. The pneumonia triggered asthma, which I have not dealt with since I was a child. Needless to say, I’ve been down for the count. So sitting at home trying to breathe, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across the news. My great uncle Roger passed away. He had fought a respiratory disease for several years. After just a few days with respiratory issues, I realize the struggle this must have been. On Thursday, Roger breathed his last and Jesus called him home.

I have many memories, from my childhood to the present, of Roger and Ellen Fredlund at every important family event. Ellen is my grandpa McDougall’s sister. Before my time, my mother told me, Ellen used to organize family reunions and gather the extended family together. But each branch of the family tree grew, sprouted new branches, and eventually those branches sprouted new, and the tree was simply too big to gather in one location anymore. So the gatherings were limited to mostly weddings, funerals, and graduation parties in my lifetime. But I always had the feeling when I saw Roger and Ellen that they were so happy to see me. They were interested in my life. And in every single memory I have of uncle Roger, he was smiling. Every. Single. One. Continue reading

Words as Sweet as Honey

Words and Relationships

God created us to be relational beings. He said, “It is not good for man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18) – relationship from the very beginning. Language is the main way we interact in relationships. If you don’t believe me, just spend some time with me and my mother-in-law. She speaks Romanian and I speak English and we understand very little of what the other person says. There are still smiles and hugs. But we really cannot go very much deeper than that. Words are very important in relationship.

Words have power. God spoke, and the world came into existence! So how do we use our words to build up, bring life, and develop those blessings called relationships?

What should our words look like?


“Gracious speech is like clover honey – good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.” Proverbs 19:14 MSG

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Lessons from the Lake: Just Breathe

My posts so far for The Faithful Village have been stories about the faithfulness I see in the people around me. This post is about something that can help faithfulness blossom more fully in your life and my life. It is the first in a possible series I’m calling “Lessons from the Lake”.

A Summer Swim

My parents live on a beautiful lake in Northern Minnesota. I was swimming at the lake this week. Surrounded by beauty. My favorite place in the world. The cool water flowed around me as I did the backstroke a short distance from shore. I am no Olympic swimmer, but my parents didn’t call me a “fish” when I was young for nothing. I love the water, and I love to swim. But fish or no fish, swimming is hard work. My breathing became more labored. But as I continued, I focused on breathing regularly.

In with one stroke.

Out with the next.



I matched my breathing to my strokes. Deep breaths. And as I regulated my breathing, the rest of my movements became easier. It became sustainable.

As I left the water, dried off, and sat in the sunshine on the shore, I saw a connection between my swimming workout and my life. Sometimes this life feels like hard work. I find myself gasping for breath. So how can I regulate my breathing in this workout of life? What breathes life into me when I am empty and exhausted? Continue reading

The Media Missionary

The Friend Request

It was a dark and windy Halloween. But the church was bright and bustling with activity. It was our annual Harvest Festival, and I was in charge, which is not uncommon. I was going to and fro making sure all the details were being executed efficiently. Kids carnival on one side of the sanctuary. Buffet and pie baking contest on the other side. Cake walk in the middle. And in a little while we would clear the center and have some Irish folk dancing lessons. It was an international theme, so everyone was encouraged to wear costumes that reflect an international flair.

I was at the buffet, and suddenly there was this man next to me with flaming red hair and a bright smile.

“Hello!” he bellowed with a chuckle. “Just in case you are wondering who that crazy man with the red hair is who sent you a friend request on Facebook earlier today, that’s me!”

My thought – CREEPY!

But what I said was something like, “Oh…really. That’s nice.”

“I’m Carl,” the redhead said, “It’s our first time here and I thought I would introduce myself. I came in my Scottish scarf for the international theme. It matches my hair.” I made some polite response. Then I slowly… backed… away. Through the rest of the evening I am pretty sure that Carl proceeded to introduce himself to every person in the room. You see, Carl Anderson is what one might call an extreme extrovert.

When I got home that night, sure enough, I had a friend request from Carl with a message saying he knows a few people from the church and he is looking forward to getting to know more. I toiled over my response. I didn’t want to offend him. But I have a few rules about Facebook. So I finally answered to the effect of, “It was nice to meet you at the festival. However, it takes me a little longer to get to know someone before I am friends with them on Facebook. I hope you understand.” Carl’s response was, “I guess I am a little different. I am friends with everyone!” And that’s the truth!

Fast forward to the present. Carl and his wife Sarah and three wonderful kids have been a part of my church for over 7 years. I consider them dear friends. After church recently, I said to Carl, “I would like to interview you for an article.” Carl got a big smile on his face, “For Time Magazine?” he said jokingly. “No, for my blog. Maybe like 50 people read it. But if I tag you on Facebook than maybe your 900 friends will see it!” “Actually, it’s closer to 4300 friends now,” he replied. That was no joke. One of those friends, of course, is me!

carl family

Brother Carl

I admire Brother Carl, as we affectionately call him. Rev. Carl Wesley Anderson has a big personality, a big vision, a big heart . . . and I say this with true respect…a big mouth. He is not afraid to speak words that are challenging and bring you to another level of understanding and experiencing God. Always humorous, always dramatic, always passionate. He is the Braveheart of evangelists.

ireland preaching

Preaching in Ireland

Our pastor recognizes Carl’s gifts as an evangelist and asks him to speak and teach on a variety of occasions at the church. The last time Brother Carl spoke at church, at the end he had the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders come to the front and pray for people who needed healing. The children had been learning about praying for people and practicing in their Sunday school class. Now they put it into full action. After church my 10-year-old said, “I really liked that.” He liked Carl’s presentation, especially an anecdote he shared about praying for someone’s butt. A 10-year-old boy can totally relate to that! But he also liked praying for people. He is my sensitive, caring child. He would not have been willing to pray for people on his own, but Carl inspired him to step out that day. I can see that my son has a gift in this area. He has a sensitive spirit. And it is so exciting to see him learn this at the age of 10!

That is Carl’s calling and his great passion – equipping people to work for God. Everyday people, all people, have gifts that God has placed in them to be used to help one another, encourage one another, love one another.

Carl is using his powerful gifts to impact people around the world through his ministry Born to Blaze. He has been invited to teach and equip Christians in over 20 different countries over the last 20+ years.

But all that came to a screaming stop about two years ago.  Our extreme extrovert got an extreme blow – cancer. A rare cancer in the upper leg. The treatment involved painful shots every other week, resulting in flu-like symptoms for 5 days following. This aggressive treatment laid Carl out on his back, stopped the world travels, made the most social person I have ever met retreat to the safety of his home. Illness is miserable. Illness steals your joy and your strength. Joy and strength are two of the qualities about Carl that have always stood out to me. Joy and strength pretty much defined Carl for me before the cancer.

But Brother Carl has risen to the challenge. He has fought like a champ. I am sure that I am not privy to the low moments. I am sure there were discouraging moments. Jesus helps us in our low moments. And if there was an opportunity for Carl to practice what he preaches, it has been this fight against cancer. Brother Carl is an open book. He is open to letting God use whatever is in his life to help and inspire others.

Cinematography that Inspires

Carl has always loved the cinema. The drama. The message. The beauty. At the age of 15 his entrepreneurial spirit and creative mind combined to start a business of wedding videography. As a young adult he and his bride created Princess Bride Cinematographic Videography. It is wedding video on steroids. The videos they produce are cinema quality. I love to go to their website and watch the videos they have there. After watching a 5 minute video I feel like I know these couples! The videos are so well produced. Carl and Sarah have a gift. I wish I knew them when I was planning my wedding! Seriously, people, you need to watch! It is so much better than TLC.

Here is a little sample for you to enjoy. It is a 5 minute Short Film “Life is Beautiful”:

ashley + tony // life is beautiful from Carl Anderson on Vimeo.

Recently, Princess Bride has begun to shift their focus in another area – Life Stories. These beautiful films combine interviews, photographs, music, and great story-telling to capture the life moments of people most dear to us. Parents, grandparents, couples, the possibilities are endless.

Here is a look at the Life Story of my sweet friend Ruby. It is just precious. You may have read my article called “The Fisherman” about Ruby’s husband Ted.

life story documentary // ruby kjeseth from Carl Anderson on Vimeo.

For a special treat, watch this Special Feature from Ruby called “What Color Hair Does Jesus Have?”

Special Feature // What Color Hair Does Jesus Have? from Carl Anderson on Vimeo.


Filming at Nendrum Monastery, 5th Century

Filming at Nendrum Monastery, 5th Century

Media Missionary

About 10 years ago, this lover of cinema was watching a documentary and “something clicked” he told me. “This is what God wants me to do.” Carl loves history, he loves story-telling. And through telling these historical stories of faith, he hopes to inspire people of this time to see that God could use them in the same way for their generation. The same anointing with a different expression.

In a recent trip to Ireland for evangelism, Carl began his first video project to this end. A documentary about the ways God has spoken to us through history and is still speaking. I cannot wait to be able to view it. Using his gifts, his passion, God is leading Carl in this new direction, in the midst of continuing cancer treatment. Cancer can’t keep this extreme extrovert, this passionate man of God, this gifted communicator and creative genius, from completing his heavenly assignment.

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Zoe Life

I asked Brother Carl if he has a life verse, a scripture that inspires and gives him vision for what he does. John 10:10 was the verse he quoted me where Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” Then Carl gave me a little lesson in Greek. The Greek word for “life” is “zoe”. They actually named their little girl Zoe from this verse. This “zoe” life is not just the everyday, hum-drum life. It actually means “life as God knows it”, a “heaven-born life”. This zoe life is why Carl does what he does. His desire is that Jesus would use him to help others receive the zoe life that God offers. Whether preaching at his home church, or ministering across the world, whether creating a cinema of a life story, or filming historical and spiritual documentaries, Carl’s vision is to inspire others towards the life that Christ offers.

I am so thankful that Brother Carl and Sarah are part of my faithful village. I am sure I will share some thoughts on Sarah sometime as well! She is fabulous and inspiring all on her own! They are such a beautiful part of my life. And it all started with a cold Halloween night and a Facebook friend request.

Visit Brother Carl’s website and sign up for his monthly devotional email and receive Carl’s eBook “Encountering God in His Living Word” for free!

Sign up for my email list and receive a link to each new article and my eternal gratitude.

Since I am in a video-sharing mood, here is one more. Please excuse this shameless advertisement. The Hope Open Golf Tournament will be held September 17, 2016, to benefit Carl & Sarah Anderson and Born to Blaze Ministries. Calling all golfers! It’s a great event. Find registration and more information at http://www.myhopecommunity.org/golf/

Hope Open Golf Tourney Preview from Carl Anderson on Vimeo.



Love for Gigi

Ma, Grandma, Gigi. Words of affection in our family. The following is a tribute to a strong and amazing woman. I knew I wanted to write an article for my Grandma, but I also knew I needed help, so with Facebook as my tool, I asked the rest of the family if there is anything they would like to share. Below you will find a collage of thoughts and pictures, pieced together not unlike the beautiful quilts our Gigi makes. This is our gift to her. Much love and thankfulness to our Gigi.

Smells and Feelings

Gigi with my mom and uncle. Isn't she stunning?

Gigi with my mom and uncle. Isn’t she stunning?

When I was just learning to speak, my mother tried to get me to say “grandma.” Not as easy as one might think. It always came out “grrr-mama!” and likewise, “grandpa” was “grrr-papa!” I had lots of opportunity to learn to say “Grandma” because my brother and I spent a lot of time with her. My parents, being in the restaurant business, worked long and hard hours, but they were able to leave us in Grandma’s capable hands. She had raised 6 kids already. And I think she enjoyed being a grandma.

I have memories of my grandparents’ little house near Lake Nokomis. I would see Grandma cooking or baking in the kitchen, and I would run and find my special green stool and drag it in next to her so that I could stand up to the counter and “help”. If she was baking pies she would let me bake a small one for my dad. I must have been pretty young because the memories are faint, the kind made up of smells and feelings rather than words and specifics.

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The Contagious Christian

That was Tuesday

“What?” I said in a cloud of confusion. The words I had just heard not registering with my brain.

“Gary is not breathing! The paramedics are here. Please send out a prayer request!” The frantic voice on the other end of the line was barely understandable.

Still sitting in the car with the engine running, I had just pulled in the driveway after picking my kids up from school when I received the call.

“Alec, go get Daddy to help Beni out of the car. I have to take care of something.”

I then turned my attention to my phone. I posted a shaky prayer request on our church Facebook page. I didn’t know what more I could do. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help him.”

About a half hour later I received a second call, “We lost him, Kelly.”

That was Tuesday. Today I am sitting in a daze. Gary is gone. His smile. His laugh. His shorts and untucked shirt he always wore to church. And I am left to ponder what is really important in this life. I am pretty sure Gary knew the answer.

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The Mother-in-Law

dimaI have never actually spoken to my mother-in-law. You see, she does not speak English and I do not speak Romanian. So we have only conversed through translators, my husband or his siblings. And that is not quite the same. But when I am with her I know I am loved. Her smile beams. Her hugs are almost suffocating. Her kisses on my cheek are warm and comforting. This is Mama.

For all the gush that she bestows on me, you might almost miss the rock-solid, powerful strength that lingers underneath. This is a woman who has seen and experienced much. This is a woman of great faith. This is a woman to be admired. This is Venera Dima. Continue reading

The Boyfriend

125HIn general one might think that it is a bad idea to write a blog post about an ex-boyfriend, and I would usually agree with that. However, in this case I will make an exception, because of the person that he is and the things I have learned along the way.

I preface this by saying that my husband has read this and has given me permission to post it. And the man in question has also agreed that I could share this with you. So you are safe to read on. Even though the majority of people who will first read this post will know exactly who I am talking about (my list of boyfriends is pretty short), for the purpose of this story, I shall call him “Steve.”

P.S. The picture above is not him. It just seemed like a good boyfriend picture. Ha!

It Was the 90’s

I grew up in the 90’s. The age of Beverly Hills 90210. And what was more important to a teenage girl than to have a boyfriend? At age 15 I set my sights on an unsuspecting chap from my youth group. He was funny and kind to everyone. He noticed me, which is important for a shy wallflower. We built a friendship, and then our dating relationship started – get this – with a note passed in youth group. That’s right. We were so mature!

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The Fisherman



Kjeseth 8 [523330]There are moments that change the course of the rest of your life. Sometimes you aren’t even present when those moments come. Moments that change the DNA of your family. One such moment came with a fishing trip, an invitation, and Ted.

A gruff cement worker, wrinkled and ornery, with kind and mischievous eyes, Ted had a deep understanding that he had been saved from much. He came from a hard life, much of which he had created himself. He didn’t express his emotions; he didn’t hug; he didn’t have a problem telling you what was wrong with you. But he loved God, and showed it through many acts of service.

The Fishing Trip

When I was 9 years old, my father went on a fishing trip with a good friend. A group of men traveled to Canada, and set out each morning in boats, two by two. They were there to catch “the big one.” Little did my dad know that Ted had in mind a different kind of catch. Continue reading

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