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Around the Bluhmin’ Town


This week marks the two year anniversary of Kayla Mueller’s abduction. It is hard to believe that the earth keeps spinning, the sun continues to shine, the moon rises, and stars come out after such a devastating loss. We may grieve collectively, as a community and in open and heartfelt ways, but sorrow is done privately, when we realize all thoughts are suddenly relegated to memories. There becomes a “before and after,” for which all life events are compared. When a loved one is suddenly snatched away with no goodbyes, only questions and heartache linger.

August 4 is the day we all wish never happened. Tragedy may come in a terrible moment. Grieving is spread out over time in a million little ways. The bedroom sits empty, the hand-written letter is in the drawer, a framed photo rests on the mantel. It is a conspiracy of inanimate objects, each holding a memory; all are stark reminders that our loved one is gone.

We all know that life is fragile. We are vulnerable to mishaps and disasters that seem to dominate the news. But in Arizona, Kayla was our daughter, sister, and friend. Her faith inspired her to love the afflicted, heal the wounded, give to those suffering, and comfort the exiled. Kayla was a beacon of light in a shattered place like Syria…a force for good…a source of hope and strength.

This past February, Kayla was killed while in captivity. She showed a profound spirituality and her extraordinary deeds arose out of her ability to see the face of God in the eyes of the most marginalized in our world. To read Kayla’s letters written while in captivity, she was able to believe, even in the midst of darkness, that faith in God can help us find the light.

Some of Kayla’s words, “Even in prison I can be free,” or “I have no fear,” show the strength of character of this young woman. We will continue to let the light of Kayla and her selfless work for the down-trodden remind us of the goodness in the world. In the midst of troubles, Kayla found a way to be “free,” even while imprisoned. It gives hope to those of us who have problems that overwhelm us, illness that seems to conquer us, or loss that feels like breaking us.

As with Kayla’s example, we have the choice to form our own inner sanctuary. Freedom is in the spirit of the mind and soul.  Perhaps Kayla’s mission was to change the world and make it a better place, but one truth is certain. She changed me, maybe you and continues to inspire us to give, reach, and love.

Healing takes time. Measured in tears. Strengthened by love. Bolstered by encouragement. The Native Americans say that the eagle soars to guide the newly departed spirits to heaven. The wind rustles in the trees to free us of our burdens. The rain falls to cleanse our souls. The snow comes to soothe our troubled minds. The sun shines to bring us hope and joy. The moon rises to restore our inner peace and serenity. And this week, a star will shine brightly to help us see the beauty of a dark sky. That star is Kayla.
Kayla’s legacy of caring and humanitarian work lives on through the non-profit organization, Kayla’s Hands Foundation, devoted to helping non-profits that help families and especially children displaced by war, famine, and natural disasters here in the U.S. and all over the world. Go to:

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a question or a comment? Email Judy at

Editor’s note: We all honor and remember Kayla Mueller. Her courage and kindness will never be forgotten. Judy wrote a meaningful tribute to Kayla in February 2015; read it here: