Thursday, March 29, 2012

19 Years is a long time....

It is always so interesting to me how I seem to frame my life around signature events...

Nieces & Nephews & Siblings Birthdays; First dates & Wedding Anniversary!; New Jobs & Special Trips/Vacations...

As I grow older, I hope that the amazing blessings that I have received, and continue to receive, will become those 'lynch pin' moments-but unfortunately, there are some negative ones as well.

Today is the 19th anniversary of when Tricia Reitler was taken from the Indiana Wesleyan campus. It is still a happening that haunts me. I interact with college students every day and I rejoice at their hope & promise, while lamenting over lost opportunities for people that we've lost so tragically along the way like Tricia.

There have been happenings in recent years to offer hope of a final resolution to the mystery of her disappearance but they disappear just as quickly and leave a numbing ache behind.

As much as I long for resolution for Tricia and her family, I am thankful for the lessons that I am reminded of every year at this time:

*Value life and all of its opportunities and blessings.

*Appreciate the joys and gifts that family brings into your life.

*Never miss an opportunity to sit down with a child and teach them about life and love.

Thank you Tricia for the impact that you left on this world and the ways that you continue to teach as we move forward.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


It has been a while since I have posted anything on here period, but especially anything about Tricia Reitler. A couple of years ago I posted a blog really hitting home to the heart of the matter about my feelings on that subject. I have resisted writing anything else because I felt strongly that I had said it so well that I didn't want to do anything to trample on that memory.

This year, on March 29th, I was really busy with a work-imposed activity and wasn't able to take a day away like I usually do to reflect on my time with Tricia, my time at IWU, and just my life in general. I guess it has taken me a month, and the occurrence of Tricia's sister's birthday to jog me out of my own personal issues to remember the lessons from Tricia that we all need to be reminded of daily:

Appreciate life-If you talk to members of Tricia's family, you will hear about a wonderful young woman that loved to laugh and appreciate life.

Appreciate all that you have because every second is precious and you never know when it all might change (This isn't just something to learn from Tricia-it's so impactful that Jesus talked about it as well.)

Make sure to learn from the past so that you are not doomed to repeat it.

College is such an exciting, dynamic time. It offers the possibility of new possibilities. Students go off to college thinking that they can change the world and that they have it all figured out merely because they got acceptance in a letter. The burden on all of us and what I take away from this year is that we need to help students realize that they do not have to be in such a hurry to grow up and take responsibility. We need to come along beside them and share in the wonder of it all. We need to help them see that they can slow down enough to actually look around and enjoy the ride that they're on! So much of college is preparing for the future that oftentimes, students forget that they are not even 20 years old and that they might never have an experience like the one they are going through now.

On this, the 15th year since Tricia's disappearance, I take away the fact that I want to continue to have the zest for life of a 19 year old--tempered by the experience of a 35 year old--so that I can help a whole new generation of Tricia's learn about possibility and responsibility.

For anyone interested in getting a 2008 update to help focus your prayer time for Tricia and her family, see the article and link below to the Marion Chronicle piece that was published in March. I hope that it encourages you as much as it did me, that we are not the only ones that still think about Tricia from time to time!

Mom: Please help us find Tricia! IWU student’s disappearance hard on family


“It’s just not fair,” Donna Reitler said about the unsolved disappearance of her daughter, Tricia.Tricia Reitler, a 19-year-old Indiana Wesleyan University student, disappeared 15 years ago today. March 29, 1993, the college freshman, originally from Ohio, walked a half mile to Marsh Supermarket, 4512 S. Adams St., and bought a root beer at the pharmacy next door.She never made it back to her dorm room at Bowman Hall, though. Her clothes were found in a field between Center Elementary School and Seybold Pool. Suspects and leads have come and gone, police have said. Still, there are no answers, no charges and no Tricia.After 15 years, Donna Reitler said not knowing what happened to her daughter still is painful.“It’s hard because there’s someone out there who knows where she is,” she said. “There’s not anything we can do, but it still feels like we let her down.”Although Tricia would be 34 years old now, her mother still thinks of her as she was then.“It’s crazy to me, because she’ll always be 19,” she said.Reitler said it’s difficult seeing Tricia’s friends, who are grown with families of their own. She thinks about her own daughter and what may have been. She also realizes that Tricia has been gone for almost as long as she was with them, she said.“She was such a wonderful person,” she said. “She just had so much to offer. She was caring and loving.”The hardest part for Reitler, however, is not having her oldest daughter with her and the rest of the family, she said. Her other three children have grown, and she now has grandchildren — who have never met their Aunt Tricia.Every year on the anniversary of the disappearance and on Tricia’s birthday, each member of the Reitler family takes off work and spends the day together, in remembrance of Tricia.“You have to,” Reitler said. “It significantly changed our lives (when she disappeared).”“We all know life goes on,” she said. “We talk about her and what would have been. You never forget. I just wish we could find her.”Reitler, who is in contact with the Marion Police Department about once a year, still has hope that her daughter will be found, but she said she knows chances are slim after all the years that have gone by. Her fear is that people will stop looking, she said.Deputy Chief Cliff Sessoms said the case will remain open until it’s solved, but it’s going to take a witness coming forth with new details to solve the mystery.“It means a lot to a lot of us,” he said. “I was a detective at the time, and I remember getting a page for a missing person.”He said the officers worked hard on the case and followed every lead they got, and they haven’t forgotten about Tricia.“There was a tremendous amount of follow-up on this case,” he said. “I’m confident that, as a department, we followed up on every lead. It became personal for many (of the officers).”Last year, the police department entered Tricia’s dental records to the National Dental Image Repository, a program set up for missing persons. If another agency were to find remains, they could check the dental records with Tricia’s to see if they match. Sessoms said the department also is working on a DNA profile of Tricia, using her parents and siblings’ DNA, which will be entered into a large national DNA database.Sessoms said he’d like to put closure to the case, especially for the family, but there just isn’t enough evidence. He compared solving the case to putting together a puzzle, where all the pieces must fit together. In Tricia’s case, pieces of the puzzle are missing.“I’d like to believe there’s someone out there who knows something,” he said. “For whatever reason, they haven’t come forward. Some people think their information isn’t significant. The worst thing somebody can do is have that one key and not come forward. That could be the one piece that breaks the case open.”Over the 15 years, police department has maintained a bulletin board with information about Tricia. The board contains a map and a timeline of what happened that evening and pushpins with string, connecting what witnesses heard or saw that evening. Sessoms said the board remains up as a reminder to the officers that Tricia still is out there.“We haven’t forgotten about this case, Tricia or her family,” he said. “We’re going to continue to press on, and we’re confident the case will be solved. The person who holds the key is still out there, and that’s who we need to hear from.”Sessoms said it’s important for people to remember the case and to know who Tricia is and who she was back then.“When I drive down 45th Street, there’s not a time I don’t think about this case and wonder what happened and where she’s at,” he said.Reitler said she knows Tricia’s case touched many hearts.“From day one, we knew that (the police in Marion) cared for Tricia, too,” she said. “There was no doubt they wanted to find her.”She said she understands that police don’t have anything else to follow up on, especially as time goes on, but she doesn’t want people to forget about her daughter and to quit looking.“I’ll always be grateful for the police department and the city of Marion,” she said. “The people were wonderful to us.”Alma Caldwell, Swayzee’s town clerk/treasurer, has kept Tricia’s picture hanging up at city hall since the young girl disappeared. When the flyer gets worn and faded, she makes a new copy to hang up.“I probably won’t take it down till I’m not the clerk anymore,” she said. “I just don’t have the heart to take it down, because if it were my daughter or my son …”At the time of Tricia’s disappearance, Caldwell had a son and daughter who were headed to college soon.“How devastating is that?” she said. “You send your kids off to college, and you expect them to come back. It brings it close to home.”Every time Caldwell hears that a body has been found, she thinks that maybe it’s Tricia, she said.“There’s no closure for that family,” she said. “I was hoping she would be found eventually, but it’s been 15 years. I just really feel bad about it.”

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What do we think about Starbucks?

I must admit, I am reeeeally behind on this story, but since it is still within the pulse of our times, I feel obligated to 'blog' about it. I just had a friend, who is a former Marine, share with me that he doesn't go to Starbucks because they don't support the war on terror or the troops. This story has been bouncing around for a couple of years, I guess, in that a Marine wrote to the Starbucks corporation asking them to send some coffee to some troops serving in the Middle East. Allegedly, Starbucks sent an email reply that told the Marine that 'Starbucks didn't support the War on Terror, or anyone having anything to do with it'. I have done a little research and Starbucks defends themselves by saying #1 that they did not reply in this language but that they do not give to religious groups or political organizations, choosing to focus their resources in their local communities, and therefore would have denied the request from this Marine based on this corporate policy.
True to a big corporation, Starbucks goes on to take credit for the good that its employees do on their own, by saying that many of Starbuck's employees donate their free pound of coffee to shipments that do indeed go to soldiers overseas. There is also a retraction from the original Marine Sergeant that posted this story saying that he didn't do proper research in the beginning to find out if Starbucks had actually sent this email.
What do you think? Does anyone have any first hand info as to whether or not Starbucks is anti-military or just guilty of bad business etiquette?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I have been sitting here reflecting on the first month of my time back in Texas, which included working 22 straight days, and marveling at how something as simple as an attitude change can impact your world.

I had a roller coaster summer in terms of searching for what God's will was for my life this year: Would I pursue a job and be hired to work at a school back in Iowa? Would I begin a Doctorate out in Virginia? Would I return to Texas? Obviously those questions have been answered, for now, but I came away with a new, fundamental understanding of myself and a new motivation:
I don't want to be negative.

I have found that I allow myself to wallow in my ineffectiveness at times; hoping that something will come along to lift me up out of my indecisive nature. What I have come to realize is that I now want to be part of the solution and that I don't have the time or the energy to BE negative or WORRY about those that are choosing to be stuck in their own runt of apathy. IF I talk about anything or anyone that is negative, it has to be in the context of relating the problem because we are now talking SOLUTION!

This simple attitude shift has made a world of difference so far in my time management, my effectiveness in dealing with judicial situations, and in my role as a leader and mentor to my RA staff. I am prepared for meetings. I have a clear vision for what I want to see from myself and even has me working out almost every day of the week because I want a better vision of myself and my physical health. This is infectious! This whole attitude came out of the fact that I love my family and any time that I would get depressed, I would get angry and default into the whole, "Why ME?" model because I wondered why I couldn't find a ministry closer to those that I love.

The motivation that I have now has everything to do with living for someone else. My little nephew, JJ (in the picture above), is almost 10 months old now and he is everything to me. I want to live a life that he can someday be proud to say that I am his uncle. I wonder if this is what people feel as they get married and start families. It is a very sobering thing to know that your actions will now affect and be crtiqued by others. I truly want to live a life that means something to not only myself.

I encourage all of you to look at your life and ask yourself two things:

1) "Is it really worth my time to be pouring energy into those people that are negative and probably aren't going to change?" Wouldn't it just be better to acknowledge those people for who and what they are and take care of the things in your own life that need work?

2) "What kind of life and witness am I projecting when I merely perpetuate the problem and do not become part of the solution?" I find that focusing on the goal helps me to create strategies that build the foundation upon which any vision can stand.

People shouldn't give up on people but there comes a point in every person's life where they have to live in the consequences of their own choices and we cannot force someone to change. We have to be consistent in who we are-What is the point in griping about others when we have so much to do ourselves?

Thursday, May 31, 2007


I am sitting here taking a break from moving furniture-the inevitable result of having people in your buildings all year and then renting them out for conferences all summer-thinking about the year that was here at McMurry and Abilene, Texas since this is my last official day under contract until August 1st.

As any of my friends know, I tend to do this ALL the time=reflect on things and try to find application or perspective for the days to come. This last year has been a very full one, full of ups and downs. As is always the case with time at college, the year seemed to just fly by. All in all, I had new friendships, new relationships that helped me feel more at ease with issues of the heart, I finished my Masters degree (finally!) and went through my usual questioning if McMurry is the place for me for another year. I definitely tested the waters a little, as a job opened up back in Iowa that would have brought me closer to my family (which is the ultimate goal in the next 5-10 years) but I am thankful that it didn't work out (I haven't heard anything from them at all) because I didn't really feel like it was a fit for me and I would have been bitter and unhappy there.

The thing that I have learned over the years and during my various travels is that I now have a greater foundation of trust in God. No matter what I struggle with, or how much I still worry, I can always come back to the fact that God has always provided for me. When I think about how much I would miss people or things here in Abilene, or wherever, I am reminded that just 2 years ago I didn't know any of these people and that God has brought them into my life as a blessing and wherever I end up, He will provide those relationships again!

I now enter into the fun part of my year as I get the next 2 months off to do a little traveling and hanging out with family and friends. It is always such a rejuvenating time for me that I look forward to it every year. I am sure that I will have stories and pictures to add to my blog and hopefully I will get to see some of you during my journeys!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

14 Years

Please look back at what I wrote last year at this time-I don't think that I could say it any better than that.
I will never forget!

Monday, February 26, 2007


Ok, I know that you can't really see this but, you can here:
The only thing that you REALLY need to know is that my school, McMurry has qualified for the Division 3 National Tournament for the second straight year, which is only the THIRD time in school history!!!

McMurry actually gets to travel up to Newburg, Oregon (Having schools travel in D3 is almost totally unheard of, so is a big priviledge for us!). The host school is George Fox University and the draw is favorable for us because we don't have to see our nemesis this year, Howard Payne, until a potential matchup in the Sweet Sixteen. I have every confidence that our ladies will have a great trip and come back and crush Howard Payne and get our revenge as we end their season.......BUT first things first--The team we play, Puget Sound had a good year and tied for their regular season crown with George Fox but lost to George Fox in the Conference Tourney Final. Our conference has been much tougher this year, as we have had 4 teams ranked in the top 25 for most of the year, and 3 teams in our DIVISION were ranked in the top 15 almost all year!
I just wanted to say publically that I am soooooo proud of our Lady Indian Basketball team this year and I can't wait to watch as they show the country what they are all about!