Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Radtke’

Sunday afternoon, since it was the second Sunday, I went to take part in the prison ministry church service that Knox Presbyterian leads for women.  I opted to bring my journal so that I could share a few stories about myself.  I normally sing, however, I wanted to share a few things about my life with the ladies.

When I went to check in, there was a newer guard who was still learning the ropes.  Apparently, he didn’t know that I was not allowed to bring in a journal (full of my personal experiences) into the prison, and we lost about 45 minutes waiting for the request to bring my journal in, which was later denied.  Suffice it to say, I was discouraged, and I was ready not to say anything to the women because we were already behind schedule.

When we got through security into the general population, I had no idea what God was doing with me there.  I didn’t want to sing, I didn’t know what to share, I was just going to sit there and read prayer requests that the women fill out before each church service in order for people to pray for them.  When we entered the room, I sat on the stage with the rest of the team, like a lump, and didn’t know why, but I asked for the guitar.  I didn’t know what I was going to sing, I didn’t know what I was going to share.  I ended up telling them the truth of what I had planned, and found myself singing ‘I Could Sing of Your Love Forever’.  While Pastor Mike was giving the sermon, I started reading the prayer requests.  There was a random stack of loose papers handed to me, and the second one I read was this one:


I knew exactly who it was from, and I remembered that I had not written her lately.  I didn’t know what God was doing, but I knew that His spirit was speaking.  If you want to know more about the story behind the above note, please read this and this.  Pastor Mike left me just enough time to sing one more song, acapella.  Some of the lyrics included “I am a sinner, if it’s not one thing it’s another.  Caught up in words, tangled in lies.  But You are a Savior and You take brokenness aside and make it beautiful, beautiful.”

As I left the prison, I still didn’t know what He was doing, but He caused me to sing what was in my heart to share that day.  For that, I’m grateful that the Spirit Spoke and I am reminded that He still speaks for me.

With every breath I breathe

With every song I sing
I wanna shout it out, Lord I am listening
To every word You speak
I’ll go where You will lead
To love the least of these
Is my greatest offering
(All Sons and Daughters)

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There are so many things swirling around my mind right now.  I am thinking about a married couple that found out they may finally be parents via adoption, a married woman concerned about her grandmother’s health, a friend who doesn’t know where his life is going and may leave his home state for another, a married couple preparing their hearts and supporting friends and family for the impending loss of a brother, a friend who strives to maintain purity of mind and spirit, and me, a girl who is just trying to figure out how to love well.

I’m mainly thinking about the pain of loss and how one can maintain a loving and healthy relationship with someone who is experiencing a loss, but also how to lovingly respond to someone trying to love YOU through a loss.

One of the main reasons I started my blog in the first place was to have a sounding board after the death of a very good friend, Lisa Radtke.  Stories can be found in earlier posts dating back to 2007 or 2008, however, it still remains as the most difficult part of my life to walk through.  Current circumstances of life are really difficult for me, however, the death of a friend is permanent, and I will never see her again.  As I have often shared with friends, she displayed the very presence of Christ to me.  She loved like the Lord wants us to love.  She saw the strengths in me that were from the Lord and she encouraged me to use them for His glory, but also called me out when I wasn’t doing things in line with the Lord’s will for me.  She was a great lover of the Savior and His word.  She was incredibly funny, full of life, and I miss her….I miss her so much.

When I got the call about Lisa, I was getting ready to go out to run errands.  I heard a frantic and hysterical voice of a friend on the other end.  At first, I thought she was laughing, but instead was screaming and crying about a woman who called from Lisa’s phone to say Lisa had been killed.  I couldn’t believe it.  I mentioned to the friend to stay where she was and that I would be coming over.  When I hung up, I almost immediately got a phone call from Lisa’s cell phone.  A concerned voice began talking, but it was one that I didn’t recognize.  It was a cousin of Lisa’s, who had her phone and was calling the contacts to let them know.  I asked her for more information and then instructed her to stop calling everyone in Lisa’s phone as it was very distressing to the people she had already contacted.  We hung up and I then began going through the details.  I don’t remember the trip to the friend’s house who was frantically telling me these things about Lisa, however, I remember feeling that this was going to be a lot to go through, a lot to process, and a lot of crying was about to take place…A LOT.

What I will ALWAYS remember about that week that we lost Lisa was THE LORD.  The Lord, Him alone, gave me an incredible peace that I cannot describe.  An immediate forgiveness for the person that took Lisa away from us, the ability to think clearly and communicate to those about her death, and the ability to help with the funeral and memorial preparations as a family friend who took part in family communications.  I don’t remember every single moment, but I do recall a lot of sitting in dark bedrooms with crying friends, offering up prayers as they laid in my lap and wept and were sometimes inconsolable, and lots of hugs and comforting words.  For those that were too overcome, we would sit for hours. Just silent.  Sometimes no words will do for something like that…you just need the peace of  hearing weeping or hearing nothing.  That was my existence for almost five days.

At night when I went home, I would lock my bedroom door, and pray to the Lord that I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night because I would be reminded of her death.  I knew that I would not be able to go back to sleep after that point.  I locked my door because I was afraid of the night and what could happen.  One night, I did wake in the middle of the night, terrified to move, and overcome with sorrow.  I had comforted, I had prayed, I had sat with many, but I hadn’t cried yet; I wasn’t ready.

The morning of Lisa’s funeral was the worst morning of my existence.  I had almost no interest in getting up out of bed.  I just kept thinking “today is the day that we bury her” and I couldn’t face it.  An hour after waking, I got up out of bed and prepared to go to the funeral.  I wasn’t prepared for so many people.  The funeral home wasn’t even prepared for so many people; the overflow rooms….overflowed.  So many people, so many people that she loved and loved her.  She loved very well.

I had made it through the funeral and we were all getting ready to head to the cemetery.  I don’t remember too many other details from later that day, however, I remember getting ready to leave for the cemetery.  During those times, I had two pretty sweet friends, Janni and Burrill; we were thick as thieves (still are) and they LOVED and SUPPORTED me that day because they knew what I had been going through during that week of preparing. They just stood with me in the funeral home parking lot.  Very few words were spoken, but they knew I hadn’t truly begun to mourn my Lisa.  They knew I wouldn’t cry in front of them, but they wanted me to know they knew.  I wanted so much to acknowledge their support, but all I could manage was a ‘Thank You’, but that, as I found, was all they needed.  They just needed to know I was on the right path and their support was acknowledged; I was so grateful for them.  As we gathered to bury her, I knew the Lord had prepared a time for me to speak with Him and cry and plead and shout at Him.  That time came two weeks later, and He still had such compassion and love and patience with me.  God knew exactly what moment that I needed and he met and loved me perfectly.

The Lord’s way is perfect.  Deuteronomy 32:4 says- “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”  Psalm 18:30 says – “As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.”

I gotta take my hints from the Lord on this one.  There is no way we can truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ when they experience a loss without the divine intervention of the Father so that He can put His hand on us and steady us as we enter into mourning, into the darkness, into the sadness of losing someone close to us.  We cannot do it without Him; I don’t care what grief book you read, I don’t care what counseling you took…ok, I might care, BUT, you cannot do it, you cannot even think of going through the process without His presence.  He is the Center and Safe place in this process. Loving during loss and accepting love during loss requires Jesus.  You need Jesus.


(A few of Lisa’s belongings)

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  • The smell of summer and freedom
  • The feeling of a friend’s warm arm against your own during a car ride
  • The summer nights that went on forever
  • My great grandmother’s bed and all the memories of my teenage years spent on it writing music, shedding tears, and laughing out loud
  • Lisa and her great big hugs, her laughter, her awesome dance moves, and her loving heart
  • The Muskegon weekend when most of the crew had sunburns; refrigerated aloe is all you need…
  • My first kiss on the cheek from a boy
  • My first love letter
  • The way Radiohead’s song ‘Karma Police’ made me feel like I could fly inside my car
  • Being able to pack for summer camp knowing that 1/2 of the clothes would never be used
  • College Fall Retreats at Bambi where I felt like the stuff because I was on the Worship Team
  • The letters from my Marine (wherever you are, I hope I never get to meet you)
  • Orchestra trips in high school where you can get away with just about anything…because you were invincible
  • Summers at the Esch Farm where the Prom preparation was a way of life
  • When driving to the store for my Mom and Dad was fun
  • When watching PG-13 movies made you feel like an adult
  • Giggling because you knew something at camp about a boy that someone else didn’t
  • Centrifuge Summer Camp where everyone I knew got a hug from me and at least 10 people had a summer love
  • Driving and imagining my favorite actor was in the car beside me…what to say, where were we going?
  • Being 21 and stupid
  • Being 18 and stupid
  • Being 16 and stupid
  • My uncle Morgan and his passion for counseling men convicted of Domestic Violence
  • My cat, Chase Manhattan
  • My grandfather Sidney – the boxer ‘Kid Chocolate’
  • Not having to worry about paying out $700 every month in bills
  • My beautiful blooming tree in the backyard of my old house
  • My brother living in the State of Michigan
  • My ability to be happy without having to think really hard about what to be happy about
  • Waterdeep, Watermark, and Five Iron Frenzy…
  • My friends that have boyfriends, fiancee’s, and husbands — change can really stink sometimes…but it’s all good
  • My friends that have ex-boyfriends, ex-fiancee’s, and ex-husbands — change can really really stink sometimes, but God is good


Most of all — I miss you and the way we used to talk; can we ever have that again.  I miss the way we were.

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As I prepare for this journey on Wednesday, I find myself thinking about a friend that I lost.  For those of you that know me, understand that I think about her constantly and she had an impact on my life as well as my friends that knew her.  For those that just happen to glance at this blog, her name was Lisa.  Lisa was killed in 2006 at the hands of her mother, Sharon.  Sharon is in prison in Ypsilanti.  I know this, because I have been writing her for over a year now.

For some reason, about four months after Lisa’s death, she sent me a letter from jail.  She wanted to make amends, she wanted to send her apologies to all of Lisa’s close friends.   At first, I felt that I should try and do something with the letter, that I should give it to the friends that she mentioned…but then I felt like that would be a tremendous burden to have to give these people her letter and not know what to say…

I decided the best course of action would be to meet with people that would know what do to with the letter and how to distribute it.  Her first letter was one of desperation, she didn’t want to live, she only wanted to die to be able to see her daughter again.  There was no hope in this first letter, only the wish that she could find a way to end her life.  Sharon troubled me so, that I contacted her case worker, I contacted her mother to make sure she was alright and I wrote her a letter.  Ever since, Sharon and I have been writing.  At times, the whole process can be absolutely overwhelming.  Yes, she took one of my closest friends away from me, she stole the life of someone very important to me and very close to many, but then…..

Sharon changed.

I got a letter from Sharon this past week.  I was nervous to open this one as truthfully, my last letter to her was letting her know that she needs to change, she needs to move on with the rest of the path the Lord has for her.  In this new letter, she spoke about her grief, her sadness, her endless misery.  Then she spoke about this hope that I honestly found so refreshing, I smiled at her letter.  She spoke about her new roommate, a believer who had lost her way, that was bible trained, was a missionary in two foreign countries, and somehow was brought to Sharon in her very prison cell.  Now while I continue to wonder how this particular bible school trained woman ended up in a correctional facility, I was very moved by her recent letter.  Sharon is making an effort to understand God’s word and is now beginning the steps to forgive herself for taking the life of her daughter.

For those of you that did know Lisa, I understand that this may be difficult to read and even more difficult to understand…however, I believe (as does Sharon) that the Lord has forgiven her of her sins, however, Sharon needs to learn to forgive herself so that she can move on with what the Lord has for her now.  It has been really hard for me swallow, but I am learning about how wise the Lord is, how great and perfect He is, and how much He loves people; even when they seem unlovable.


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