Hope brings life…

Cancer.  It’s an ugly, emotionally charged word.  It’s a hateful disease.  It doesn’t discriminate nearly as much as we wish it would.  It’s effected nearly every one of us.

This is my journey.

It was almost exactly 10 years ago when my mother-in-law called me, frantic and clearly upset.  She needed my husband’s cell phone number.  “Is everything okay?” I asked.  Because clearly it wasn’t.

“Just.give.me.his.number.” she stammered.

In that moment, I knew that our lives would never be the same.

And they weren’t.

My sweet father-in-law was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.  It was everywhere in his body by then.  We clung to the hope that he would miraculously recover.  But after his surgery, well, he didn’t bounce back.  And he wasn’t really well enough to undergo his treatment.  The poison treatment that was supposed to save his life.  But no.  He wasn’t even well enough for poison.  We prayed.  We cried.  I’ll be honest here….we denied the fact that he might not live through this.  But we hoped HARD that he would.  Because none of us could imagine a holiday meal without his chair at the table and without anyone to snap goofy polaroids of nothing two seconds before we said grace and ate dinner.

Hope.  It goes hand in hand with faith.  Kind of like peas and carrots.  You can’t really have one without the other.  To paraphrase my Bible concordance, hope is a confident expectation of fulfillment and, of course, faith is trust in God.  The Word reminds us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for…” (Hebrews 11:1)

Let me tell you, B.C., that’s before cancer, I had a pretty simplistic view of what all that really meant.  I had a shallow faith, I guess.  Or maybe I just really wasn’t mature enough to really  *get* it, you know?  But I think I fell into a simplistic train of thought many well meaning believers have:  Bad things don’t happen to good people.  If I follow Christ, my life will be sunshine and roses.  Alas, this is not true, is it?

I guess I rather conveniently forgot the part of scripture that reminds us that we’re going to have trouble in this world because we follow Christ.  Yeah, that one is not so fun.

Count well the cost of following Him, no?

In the short weeks that followed my father-in-law’s diagnosis and surgery, we had a lot of time to really decide what was important in our lives and what was really true even in the middle of the biggest nightmare of our lives.  I remember a very specific moment that I just knew the outcome of this journey was absolutely not going to be what we were hoping for.

But in the middle of that pain and excruciating suffering, I came to know that God was still good.

He specifically led me to scripture…..

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name.  You are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For, I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”  Isaiah 43:1-3

I’ve never been spoken to, been ministered to, through scripture as clearly and beautifully as I was in those moments.  I knew that I knew that I knew that my father-in-law’s life was not going to be long.  But I knew that God was going to use his life for His purposes.  I’ll never understand why it had to be the way that it was, but there was such a peaceful beauty to my father-in-law’s final days.  His hope wasn’t in the world.  His hope was purely in God.  And even from his sickbed, he chose to see God every single day.  And he told every single person who came to visit him about his Savior.


It still takes my breath away.  He was so bold in his faith because he knew that his time was short.  It makes me wonder what I’m doing, at times.  But he just didn’t care because he knew he was soon to gaze upon his Heavenly Father’s face and he wanted every person he spoke with to be there in eternity with him.  And I believe that one by one, there is a processional in heaven that was heavily influenced by his decision to be bold in his faith and freely share the hope he had in an unseen but very much alive Savior.

One of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life was to tell my five year old daughter that her sweet Pappy went to heaven to be with Jesus.  Her dear daddy had no words left.  His heart was broken.  He wept.  But she was the very last person her pappy spoke to with coherence in his life, slipping into a peaceful slumber moments after giving her a much anticipated hug and kiss.  When I told her that he was gone,  she looked at me so sweetly with such wise eyes, and said, “I’ll really miss my Pappy.  But I’ll see him again when I go to heaven to be with Jesus.”

That’s faith.  Trust in a God who’s got it all planned out even though the journey makes no sense to us.  And oh so much hope, especially for a wee little girl.

At his funeral, I was blessed to share my experience with God-breathed scripture in advance of my father-in-law’s death and those words are just as true for me today as they were then.

I don’t know what you might be facing, but I have a deep and abiding hope that God will see you through it.  You see, He used the word “when” in that passage I shared.

WHEN you pass through the waters.

WHEN you pass through the rivers.

WHEN you walk through the fire.

It’s going to happen.  It just is.  Those ugly things.  Big things.  Hard things.  Awful things.  And lots of smaller, annoying things.

But here’s the promise.  Oh, sweet friend, don’t miss it:  WHEN you have those issues, He’s right there with you, lifting up your head, pulling you ashore, dusting the ashes from your weary soul.  He is there.  Even in those things so awful you simply don’t know how you can take another step.  And there is hope.  Because it always seems when we lose on one hand, there is a gain on the other. We may never see it on this side of eternity, but He’s working all around us.

My hope is in His promise.

My daughter lost her sweet Pappy, and in many ways our family will never be the same.  Even now, the ache isn’t less.  Just different.

But my hope is in my God who reminds me He Himself planned for my future.

We lost big.  But God was still good.  And our lives changed in many ways we never expected.  Some changes were really, really hard. Others, incredible blessings.  And one came in the form of a life we didn’t think would ever be a part of our journey.


And there was healing.

Our journeys will all be different, but His promises remain secure.  Dare to hope, sweet friends.  He’s working on your behalf.

Even now.

You can find this post linked here as part of Karen Beth’s Tuesday at Ten.



I look in the mirror and am very critical of what I see.  I don’t think I measure up.  And even as I inspect, as I notices new lines around my eyes and a few more freckles, I know I’m hard on myself.

As women, as mothers, we are trying to find ourselves in the midst of a culture that constantly heaps expectations on our shoulders.  Telling us all we can have.  And do.  And what our lives should look like.  Even Jesus girls.  Especially Jesus girls, perhaps.

Double standards.  Unrealistic expectations.  Airbrushed images to which we aspire.

I don’t feel like I measure up.  But that’s when I most need to hear that still small voice.

My dear one….you are the apple of my eye.  You are MY treasured possession.  You are an heir to MY kingdom.

And why am I those things?  Because He said so.

Even when I’m not feeling them.  I am beautiful and precious.  Treasured.

Because He said so.

How often, if I choose to admit it, have I used “because I said so” as a frustrated argument ender between myself and my daughters?  Often enough, I’d say.

And in much the same way, this is Abba’s argument ender with me.

You are what I’ve said you are simply because I said it, He tells me.

Sweet relief.  No pretense with Abba.  Only follow.  No ten step process to perfection with Him.  Only receive.  No other path than grace and sweet, sweet mercy.

Because He said so.

Step away from the mirror, sweet sister.  Lay down your lists of comparisons.  You are so much more than you can even imagine.  Why?  Because He said so.



This post is part of Five Minute Friday.  You can check out this wonderful community here!

I’m in!

Goodness knows I have a lot to say.  Too much, usually.  Just ask my daughters.

What I seem to lack, however, is good old-fashioned discipline.  I like to fly by the seat of my pants.  But in this case, I think some routine is in order.

So.  *gulp*  I’m taking Kate Motaung and The Nester up on their writing challenges.  As outlined  by Kate (Five Minute Friday) here and by Myquillyn Smith (aka The Nester) here, the object of this challenge is to get some words from our brains and out over the interwebs every day for a month.  A whole month.


Did you follow all that?  Probably not.  At any rate, beginning on October 1, I’ll be writing daily which I know has you on the absolute edge of your seats!  Yay for that.  There will be some five minute posts, and some more thought out posts but yeah, every day.  And what will I be writing about?  Glad you asked…..


Stay tuned, gentle reader.  It’s going to be a wild ride!


It’s Five Minute Friday again, folks!  And away we go…..



I think in songs, in lyrics, in musical expressions, choir director that I am.

Today this song ran through my mind….

And I will raise you up on eagle’s wings,

Bear you on the breath of dawn,

Make you to shine like the sun,

And hold you in the palm of my hand.”

Hold.  Doesn’t holding something bring to mind clutching, or grasping?  I think of those early years with my sweet daughters.  Sweet, yes.  And very, very strong willed.  Both fiercely independent, wanting to do their own things long before they had the common sense with which to do them.  Holding hands with a new walking babe, and her pulling away with all her might.  Becasue she didn’t want to be restrained.  She wanted freedom from my hold of safety.

And we do that, too, in our own ways.  We hold on to things.  Hold them tightly.  We try to protect ourselves.  We essentially tell God, “I’ve got this!”  Fiercely independent.

And wicked tired.  Worn out.

But dictionary.com tells me that “hold” also means “to carry or support with one’s arms.”  Ah….there it is.

God holds us always.  That’s His promise.  It’s just our privilege to accept the grace that He’s giving us and recognize that He doesn’t put a chokehold in our lives.  No, no, sweet sister.  He gives us freedom to be and love and live in the moment.  He supports us, He reminds us that his yoke is EASY and his burden is LIGHT.

This is what it means to be held.  It’s life.  It’s grace for the moment.  It’s peace for the heart.  Held close. Hemmed in.

Let God be God in your life.  He’s more than able to hold you up!


Waiting for the world to change

The days go by fast-slow.  


Each day, a dear friend asks me what I’m doing on that day.  And every day I say the same thing.  Because it’s totally true.


“The usual.”


It’s kind of embarrassing.  I tend to look at my life as lame.  Boring.  Filled with the mundane sameness that marks the daily life of a mom.  Of a wife.  As she who mostly stays at home.  Long ago, we learned that our family functions best when I stay home rather than work a full time gig.  I’m blessed to minister to our church family with a part time music ministry.  For me, it’s the best of both worlds.  A bit of a stigma (what do you DO, you know…OUTSIDE the home….), but it works.


And still….there’s a restlessness at times.  And sometimes I wonder if God sees me.  Because life isn’t quite what I thought it would be.  


Okay.  Let’s call it what it really is.  My life looks absolutely nothing like I thought it would.  


There are five pairs of shoes in my living room.  Discarded gym clothes on the kitchen floor.  A little girl’s school papers from first AND second grade in the front room.  Heaps of them.  Because she can’t part with them.  And yes, she just started THIRD grade a week ago. More piano books than I can count and multiple instruments strewn around. Items from my new ministry, waiting for their forever home, pushed aside by an eager helper creating another pile.  The laundry will never be caught up.  The kitchen table never seems clear yet I’m always clearing it off.  The bathrooms have been neglected for too long.  The checkbook isn’t balanced.  Even the cat helps.  He swiped someone’s prewrap and someone else’s razor.  I only wish I were making it up.




And I can’t blame everyone else.  It’s me too.  Lack of motivation.  Being overwhelmed.  Bone weary from another night’s cruddy sleep.  


It’s easy to get lost.  To lose focus.  And in those moments it’s either freak out entirely which I do often enough would be very bad, OR I can take a breath and refocus.  




Today, my short term Bible study led me to the book of Joshua.  In reading, I realized that Joshua and I are a lot alike.  Don’t worry, I won’t be launching a full scale attack on an unsuspecting nation any time soon. (I know you were concerned!) But I’ll bet Joshua knew restlessness.  He knew waiting.  He had seen the land promised to his forefathers.  Saw it with his own two eyes.  He was so excited to get rolling.  So imagine his surprise when he went back with his buds to report the bounty of the land to Moses, how it was EXACTLY as God had promised and yet better than they could have imagined all at the same time and his friends all sold it out.  …..Oh, there might be grapes as big as your head but did you SEE how big those dudes were?  They were huge!  We can NEVER overtake them!  We can’t win!  Let’s just camp here.  


Um, wow.  Forget how big your God is much?  Of course, I don’t ever do that, do I?  Do I?  




Of course I do.  


It’s no wonder God reminded the Israelites several times to be strong and courageous.  

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.”  

Joshua 1:6


“Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful whever you go.”  

Joshua 1:7


“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do no be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  

Joshua 1:9


God reminded the Israelites to be strong and courageous because He knew they were going to need them both.  Their path wasn’t going to be easy.  He did indeed promise that He would be with them.  And He also encouraged them to remember His Word, something they weren’t always good at. (**Cough*cough** golden calf, I’m looking at you!)  There was blessing for obedience.  Success in all they would do.  The Israelites knew fear even though they could clearly look back over many, many years and see how God had led them, goodness, even with his physical manifest presence.  Pillar of fire, much? Even as they tested the patience of Almighty God, He saw their need and reminded them of who He was.  And He reminded them that being obedient would provide a blessing.  He did not say, however, that the road would be easy.  Nope.  But He did  remind them that He would be with them.


He would be with them.  Always.  Just be strong and take courage.  


I think that’s a pretty good reminder.  Life isn’t for the faint of heart.  There’s a lot of junk in this world and it threatens to overtake us.  If we give it input, give it a voice into our lives, all is lost.  Or at least it makes the way harder.  Even the mundaneness of caring for a family can be overwhelming, nevermind financial issues, and strife in a marriage and cancer, and wars and persecution…..


You see what I mean?  Yeah.  It’s too much.  But it’s a load we were never made to carry.  Give it to Him.  The world won’t change.  But God will work a change in us as we remain strong and take courage.  And it’s okay not to feel strong or courageous.  He’s got more than enough to go around.  So we do not live with a spirit of fear then, do we?  He’s got it under control.


Just be strong and take courage.  He will go with you wherever you go.