Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Trees in the Forest

On Sunday morning, I presented a message for the little children. I told them that sometimes on Sunday mornings I don’t get time for breakfast and during church I get really hungry. Sometimes I don’t even think I can make it through the sermon. I told them that today was one of those days that I didn’t get breakfast, so I brought a McDonald’s hamburger to eat during the sermon. (As you can imagine, all eyes were watching as I took out my McDonald’s bag) I began taking out items from the bag. I first removed the straw, then the cup for the drink. Then I took out the napkins, followed by the salt and pepper packets. Then I removed the mustard and catsup packets. (By this time the children were huddled close).

Then I said, “Now for the most important thing”. I looked in the (now empty) bag and said, “Oh no, I forgot the hamburger!! I was so busy getting all the other things ready, I forgot the most important thing and now I am going to be hungry. I then explained to the children that often we get so busy doing all the things come up in our life that we forget the most important thing; and that is our time spent with God.

Over the last couple of years, and especially the last many months, my life has seemed like a forest, thick with trees. The trees have taken on several shapes and names. Some trees have been small and some giant oaks. Diagnosed with late stage cancer, chemo, radiation, surgeries, the sudden unexpected death of my sweet young niece, my youngest son wounded in Afghanistan, surgery for herniated disc. It has sometimes seemed like a walk from one tree to the other, buried deep in a dark forest with no real light to lead me out. I have been so caught up in the busyness of tackling the trees (the day to day tasks to just get through) that I would lose sight of the forest. Oftentimes, I failed to stop, sit, and rest on a fallen tree log and just BE in the presence of God.

This morning as I sit alone with God and write, I have an overwhelming feeling that someone reading this is going through a forest. Walking from tree to tree, trying to make it on their own, unable to see any light. Are you walking through the forest today? Has life seemed filled with one trial after another. Are the trees so thick that you can’t see any light for the forest? Perhaps, you have been so busy just trying to make it through that you have lost sight of the most important thing?

If so, my prayer for you is that you will take a moment before this day is over, to sit and just BE in His presence. Look up. There you will see the light! His Light. And we will once again be able to see the forest!

“Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36 Put your trust in the light while you have it.” (John 12:35-36)

Monday, May 31, 2010


Freedom isn’t free. Today is Memorial Day. I have always thought of Memorial Day as a time to honor our military, but I really had no idea what that really meant. Until April 14, 2010.

My youngest son, Brent, left for Afghanistan to serve in the US Marine Corps, in March 2010. As we said goodbye that day, I prayed Psalms 91:11-12 for him. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Little did I know that God had revealed that Psalm specifically for Brent.

I had prayed that prayer every day while he was serving in Iraq the year before and felt an even greater leading to pray it for this deployment. Carl and I both had an uneasy feeling when we said good-bye. But I justified it by telling myself that “every mom has felt this way when their child leaves for war”.

Until the phone rang on April 14th. The call no parent wants to receive.

"We are sorry to have to inform you that your son, Corporal Brent Larimer, has been seriously burned in combat in Afghanistan. We do not have the details of his injuries but he is being flown out of the combat zone for medical help. We will inform you of his status as we get more information."

We began to pray. We asked everyone we knew to pray.

Though it is a bit lengthy, I wanted to post here the article of the attack, for it truly shows God's hand at work even in the most horrific circumstances..

Vol. II No. 7
The Official Newsletter Of The 1st Marine Division
May 3, 2010

Facing Danger, Overcoming Fear

SALAM BAZAAR, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan –

Adrenalin was rushing the morning of April 14th, 2010 as Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2 and members of the Afghan National Security Forces approached the Salam Bazaar in Helmand province. The Marines of Alpha Company, 1/2, were tasked with securing the bazaar, known as a haven for Taliban activity, including heavy weapons and a focal point for the drug trade. All reports indicated enemy contact was imminent.

By mid-afternoon, the Marines had secured the bazaar, but things would not stay quiet for long. By the day's end, many heroic deeds would be accomplished, but the actions of one Marine would leave his fellow brothers-in-arms calling him a hero.

Staff Sgt. Robert K. Kesterson, the platoon commander for 2nd platoon, Alpha Company, 1/2, and many of his Marines were disappointed with only finding several homemade explosives and scattered amounts of drugs. They were prepared for anything. The day had dwindled down and the atmosphere was calm and controlled, the raid of the bazaar was over, or so they thought.

That's when all hell broke loose.
"We started taking heavy contact from RPG, indirect, small arms and machine gun fire and an improvised explosive devise destroyed one of our vehicles," said Capt. Jeremy S. Wilkinson, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. "It was a pretty complex situation out there," said Kesterson, "but, with all the training we had, our reactions became second nature.

Initially, there were no injuries until the lead vehicle, loaded with Marines, rolled over an IED. Although Kesterson was in the third vehicle, nearly 100 yards to the rear of the detonated IED, he was there in an instant. "Our vehicles received a lot of debris from the explosion," said Kesterson. "We could tell it was a big IED. Dust was everywhere and I could not see anything for what seemed like an eternity."

The lone casualty at the time was Lance Cpl. Justin Shaw, an assaultman in the squad. He had suffered a serious concussion, requiring immediate medical attention. Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Pagan, the lead vehicle commander, quickly gathered his wits, ordered his Marines to provide security around the downed vehicle, while he called for the 'medivac.' Once Shaw was carried out of the vehicle and loaded into the ambulance vehicle, Cpl. Brent Larimer, also an assaultman in the squad, jumped into the turret and began to lay down suppressive fire.

What happened next was a true test of Kesterson's courage.
Kesterson, known to his men as Staff Sgt K, glanced back and saw Larimer was engulfed in flames. "When I looked back, I realized that Larimer and the vehicle were on fire," said Pfc. Shane W. Barlow, the team leader and driver of the lead vehicle. "I jumped out and ran around and saw him laying on the turret stand. He was on fire and because of the intense heat rounds were cooking off inside the vehicle." Immediately, Kesterson ran up to the truck where Larimer was and reached in, ripping him from the vehicle. Kesterson then threw himself on top of Larimer to put out the flames.

"When I saw the vehicle catch fire and a Marine was in serious trouble, that's when I jumped into the burning vehicle and pulled Cpl. Larimer out," said Kesterson, 34, from Greenberg, Tenn.
"I reached in and grabbed the Marine," Kesterson said. "His left arm and left rib cage was on fire. I pulled him out and patted him down and threw dirt on him to get the fire out." Kesterson stayed with Larimer until the 'medivac' arrived. "I couldn't believe it," said Barlow. "He jumped in a burning vehicle while rounds were being cooked off, to save the life of a Marine who was burning alive. To me, the man is a hero."

But like many of the heroic deeds by Marines throughout our proud history, Kesterson was quick to downplay what had transpired. He humbly confided that he was just glad to have been in the right place, at the right time, to help a fellow Marine in need.

I believe that God honored the prayer of a worried mother and lifted her child up in the arms of an angel named Staff Sgt. Kesterson. How can I ever express my gratitude to Him?

This blog is the beginning of the story of how God has been involved in this tragic event. I have much more to share of the days and weeks after the accident. But on this day, Memorial Day, my heart goes out to all those mother's whose child didn't come home. I will be in prayer for them today. I will also thank God this day for the many men and women who make the sacrifice every day for our freedoms.


Saturday, May 29, 2010


She was just about 4 pounds when she came home from the hospital, 30 years ago. She grew into a beautiful, blond haired, blue eyed young woman who loved life and always had a smile and encouraging word for those she was around. She had 2 beautiful little children, Abbie age 7 and Avery age 4. She was engaged to be married and had never been happier in her life.

Her name was Kristi and she was my niece, my sister Chery’s oldest daughter. On Wednesday, March 25, Kristi took the children to school, went to work, picked up the children, made dinner and put the children to bed. On Thursday, she woke up with a headache, had a seizure and never woke up.

For a couple of days, Kristi laid in a hospital bed kept alive only by machines. Her beautiful blue eyes didn’t shine. Her lips didn’t smile. No encouraging words were spoken from her mouth.

We called out to God. We prayed. We begged Him to let her wake up. We bargained. We shook our fists in anger at Him. We questioned “Why”. What could God possibly be thinking here, for a young vibrant mother to be taken so suddenly? But God stayed silent.

My heart broke for my sister as I watched her kiss the cheek of the child she gave life to, only to see her life slip away before her eyes. If tears could have saved Kristi, she would be here today.

After being at the hospital for three days, Chery and her husband Clay left without the child they had raised and loved for 30 years. It seemed as though God wasn’t there and didn’t care.

But when they arrived home and walked up to the front door, God spoke to them!! For on their porch light was a message from Him that wasn’t there when they left their house 3 days before.

A beautiful dove! The dove is a symbol of peace. In the bible, the dove represents the Holy Spirit, given to us by God as a comforter, when He couldn't be with us in person. Chery and Clay were desperately in need of peace and comfort. This dove was God's way of providing HIS peace. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27). I will never understand why God didn’t grant our petition for Kristi to wake up. I cannot possibly understand His ways. But God doesn’t promise that every journey in life will be on the mountain. Only in heaven will there me no more tears. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Rev. 21:4) But God feels the hurt we experience in this life. and He WILL provide what we need to get through, until the day we will be with our loved ones forever!!

Rest in the arms of Jesus our sweet Kristi. And one day soon we will be together again!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


When I began writing this blog, I was entering the desert called breast cancer. I felt led by God to share my journey through it. I had no idea where the journey would lead nor what would happen along the way. All I knew was that God would walk with me. I found through out the year of blogging that God not only used my words to help others, but also to help me grow closer to him through the encouraging words of those who read the blog.
Well it has been almost 6 months since finishing treatment. I haven’t blogged as often because I felt that I didn’t have much to offer since life seemed to be settling into the “new normal”.

BEWARE!! When you fail to see that God is actively working in your life, He may allow you to experience more trials, in order to teach you to be mindful of Him. I don’t know the exact reason, but over the last several months, my life has been filled with “new deserts”. Some people call it bad luck. I think that “luck” does not enter into play in the life of a Christian. All things that happen in our lives, happen for a reason.

Once again, God has directed me to write about what has happened in the last several months. As I look back on each situation, it is very clear how the hand of God was at work. And I am compelled to share it. It is my prayer once again that God will use these words for His glory. To give encouragement to those who are also walking through a desert and the knowledge that we never have to walk the journey alone!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Picture That Says It All

There are some pictures that "say it all". And for me this is one of them. It truly reflects the words to my favorite scripture. “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:23)

For His faithfulness walked me through the desert. His faithfulness continues to bring new mercies fresh every morning. He gives me each new day to do with as I choose. He provides the flowers for me to enjoy. He brings the smile that only comes from the joy of knowing Him. He blesses me with the love of my little granddaughter, Jayda. He showers me with mercies and blessings too many to name, for which I am so undeserved. Thank You, thank you Lord!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hang On To The Promise

What a great day this has been!

After 1 year, 2 months and 9 days, I was able to go without a scarf! I actually have enough hair. Now it’s not exactly the long flowing hair that you see on the shampoo commercials, where the models flip their heads around and slap their hair in their face, but it’s hair never the less. In fact, it has these little sticking up pieces all over, but that’s okay. A good can of hairspray will fix that. It also has a huge cowlick on the crown that mimics “Dennis the Menace” but that’s okay. There’s gel for that. It is stiff as a board but there’s conditioner for that. It is the color of a red headed squirrel but there are products for that. In the back, there is a tail, much longer than the rest of the hair. Well, there isn't a product for that but, Carl got his little mustache trimmer and tried to trim it off. I was laughing so hard that I was shaking, so the trim is not exactly straight but it’s okay.

Six products and over an hour later, I was finally ready to go out in public. (Hmmm, the scarf took about 30 seconds to put on.) Carl and I went and enjoyed a nice lunch together. The scripture from Romans kept coming to mind. "All things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28). As we ate, I thought back to a year ago; wondering what possible good could come about from losing all my hair and how devastating it seemed. But as I look back, I can say that all things DID work together for good. God brought about many, many good things that would never have been possible without the journey through the desert. He IS faithful. His promise IS true. I can tell you, (because I have experienced it), that what seems devastating, overwhelming, and impossible today, WILL in His perfect timing, bring about good in your life also.

Just hang on to the promise.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ready for Battle

This weekend we drove up to North Carolina. My youngest son, Brent, was being deployed to Afghanistan. It seemed like just yesterday he was playing war with little plastic soldiers on the living room floor. Now he is the soldier in a war across the sea. No games. The real deal.

On the way up to say goodbye, memories of him as a little child flooded my mind. He never wanted to put his hand in his food like most babies or finger paint like many toddlers. He never liked to get dirty. Now he will be lucky to shower once a week. Unlike many young children, Brent loved his sleep. Friends would complain that their 2 year old wouldn’t take a nap and Brent would sleep 3 or 4 hours. Now he will go hours and perhaps days without sleep. As a child, Brent loved to eat. Anything that came his way. Now he will eat military issued meals in a plastic bag.

But, Brent has been well prepared for the battle ahead. He has been through many months of long training. When they are not being sent off to war, they are continually preparing for battle. They practice firing their weapons, so when the time comes that they really need to shoot, they are prepared. They go through psychological training so that if they are captured by the enemy, they are as mentally prepared as possible. They are armed with the weapons they will need for the fight. Machine gun, helmet, bullet proof jackets, night goggles, steel toed boots and on and on. A full suit of armor.

Many times, the young Marines would complain about the constant training they had to do. But those who are over them; those with first hand experience in war, know that their very life or the lives of others is dependent on their training.

God wants us to be in constant training. To read His word, to study, to practice, to prepare ourselves for battle. For the battles will come. They might not be overseas. They might just be right here in our own home. An enemy named loneliness, worry, illness or disease, loss of job, loss of a home, rebellious children, aging parents....

God has given us the weapons and a full suit of armor for our battle. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of battle comes you may be able to stand your ground. “ (Ephesians 6:13)
What will we do with them? When the time comes, will we be ready? Will we know how to use them? Our life or the lives of others could very well depend on it.

If you are in the midst of a battle right now, I encourage you to pull out the weapons God has given you for the fight. Arm yourself. Start with His Word. Open it up. Read it. Draw strength from it. You don’t have to battle alone. God is more than capable of handling any enemy that comes your way!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

His Voice

This morning I pulled into the parking garage of the hospital. It was about 5:30 and still dark. There wasn’t anyone in the garage. I opened my car door to get my lunch box out and all of a sudden a loud deep voice bellowed out, “Step back! You are too close to this vehicle! Step Back!

It scared me out of my skin. I turned around and noticed that the warning was coming from the vehicle next to me. There was no one in the vehicle, but apparently I got too close and there was a special alarm set to scare the fool out of anyone coming too close. After I got my heart rate back down in the normal range, I started the walk into work. There was a light, cool breeze and the smell of rain in the air.

Later in the morning, one of the little babies I was caring for, got his breathing tube taken out and we heard him cry for the first time. I immediately thought about how God speaks to us.

There are times when He speaks with a soft, gentle voice in the rustle of the breeze, in the sweet song of a little bird or in the cry of a tiny baby.

But sometimes God’s voice is like the voice that bellowed out of the vehicle in the parking lot. When we are headed in the wrong direction. When we are wandering out of His will and into areas of trouble, He shouts, “Step Back! You are too close to trouble!” The bible says His voice “shakes the desert”(Ps. 29:8), “strikes with flashes of lightning” (Ps. 29:7) and “strips the oak and strips the forests bare.” (Ps. 29:9).

Whether a gentle whisper or a loud bellow, God does speak to us. I confess at times I have chosen not to listen because it’s not what I wanted to hear. Other times I have filled my life with too much noise to hear. But, because He loves me, He still speaks. He will warn me when I am headed in the wrong direction because He loves me. He will fill my heart with joy at the cry of a tiny baby, because He loves me.

Have you heard Him today? Is He shouting a loud warning or whispering a soft “I love you”. Shhh. Listen. Hear His voice. He’s calling you by name.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Puzzle

On Sunday, I heard a devotional about puzzles and it seemed as though God was speaking directly to me. As I listened, I thought back to the weekly chemo sessions at MD Anderson. There was always a large puzzle on the table in the waiting room. There were usually many pieces upside down and scattered around the table. People would pass by and try to work on it. Carl always liked to try and fit a piece or two in while we were waiting.

I never really had the patience for puzzles. I could work them only if the box with the completed picture was right there next to it. If I couldn’t see the picture, I didn’t want to mess with it.

I thought about the times in our lives that seem like one big, uncompleted puzzle. The puzzle seems large. There are so many little pieces and they are scattered everywhere. We don’t have the picture on the box to see what it will look like when it’s finished.

Are you in a situation where the puzzle pieces seem all jumbled up? Where there seems to be way too many pieces? Where you can’t see the picture of the completed puzzle?

God has promised us that He will complete the puzzle. He sees the full picture. “Now being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion” (Phillipians 1:6). We just have to press on, one piece at a time, trusting that when God is finished every piece will fit together perfectly and the picture will be perfectly clear.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day

It’s Sunday afternoon and Valentine’s Day. The house is quiet because Carl is at a piano competition with several of his piano students. We didn’t really have a “Valentines Day” celebration as many couples are accustomed to, because it’s been a busy weekend. But the quiet gives me a chance to reflect on the holiday and what it means to me.

When we are young children, Valentines day means giving little cards to all the friends in our class. It means little “sweetheart” candies and maybe a special toy, depending on how frivolous your parents were.

As we get a little older, and begin to date, Valentines Day means teddy bears, chocolates and gifts, given as a sign of love from that special someone.

When we get married and begin to raise a family, Valentines day sometimes means rushing down to the card shop and finding a quick gift and card, rushing home to feed the kids, help with their homework, get them baths, get them in bed, followed by a tired kiss goodnight and whisper of “I Love You” to our spouse.

I can truly say that this Valentines Day holds a meaning for me that it has never held before. As I think about Carl and his love for me, I sometimes can’t understand it. I feel undeserving of his love, yet he gives it anyway. I have brought burdens to him, yet he shoulders them without complaint. I have taken my anger out on him, yet he encompasses me with kindness and understanding. In one word his love is “unconditional.

Ephesians 5:25 reads “And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church.”

This is what Valentines Day means to me this year. The reflection of Christ’s love shown through a quiet, humble man. A true gift of the heart.

Happy Valentines Day, Carl. I Love You!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

God is Good All the Time

I am so excited that I am actually starting to see what appears to be real hair on my head. For awhile there I wasn't sure what the chemical makeup was up there, but I was sure it couldn't be hair. I had read that I should buzz that strange new "post chemo" hair and start anew, but I just couldn't bring myself to fire up those clippers again. My good friend Petra, gave me some "magic potion" called "Chi" that helps new hair growth. I asked her if it was really called "Chia" and would it make my head look like a chia pet?

Well, it's working! Thanks, Petra! Though the top of my head isn't quite looking like a chia pet yet, it's getting there. Soon I may have to start watering it. :)

I can't wait to be done with the scarves. Although I probably have enough hair up there to go without them, there's not enough hair to keep my head warm yet. And it's downright cold this time of year. Soon though. For now, I'm just thankful to be using shampoo again.

The today show will be airing a special on Triple Negative Breast Cancer. They will be interviewing Jennifer Griffin, who is a mother of 3 and the National Security correspondent for Fox News and worked at the Pentagon until she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple Negative.

If you would like to know more about this type of cancer or know of someone who could benefit from watching it, it will be aired Thursday 2/11 at 8:20am Eastern Time.

"God is Good all the Time and All the time God is Good!"

Monday, February 8, 2010

Be Still And Know

The most vivid memories of God’s work in our lives are usually when we were either on top of the mountain or deep down in the valley. It is at those times in our life that that we are keenly aware of His presence. When we are in our darkest moments, we cry out to the Lord for help. When we are on top of the mountain, we shout to him with joy and thankfulness.

But what about the times that aren’t the mountaintop or desert experiences? The everyday path we walk. The small joys we experience. The trials we encounter in our lives that may not be catastrophic, but are nonetheless hard to bear. Are we as aware of His presence then?

I am walking that path right now. It is not a deep dark valley or a parched desert, but even so it is a time where I really need to hear God’s voice and He has been silent. I have been praying for understanding and discernment and still had no answer.

Does that mean He is not listening? Absolutely not! He hears every word I pray. He understands my hurt and confusion. He desires to provide me with His answers. He knows my heart.

I have learned over the years, that when God is silent, He is at work behind the scenes. He wants me to take His hand and walk with Him in the meantime. He wants me to wait patiently, trusting in His perfect timing to provide the answer. His word gives us definite instruction for those times. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10)

Have you been waiting on God to answer a prayer? Do you feel as though His silence means that He isn’t listening to you? His word tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. “God has said, Never will I leave you: never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). If He promised He will never leave us, then He is surely here. We may not always know why He asks us to wait, but we can be sure He will answer in His perfect time.

So, for now, I will just “Be still and know that He is God.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fill My Cup Lord

Life seems to have gotten very busy since coming out of the desert. In the desert things seemed almost in slow motion. Time for morning devotionals out on the front porch. One to one encounters with Him during the long treatments. Time to reflect on His glory from the backyard swing in the afternoon. Feeling His presence right next to me whenever I needed to feel Him close.

But for now, God has brought me out of the desert. Life is good. No surgeries, no chemotherapy, no radiation treatments. Back to work full time. Up at 5:00, head to the hospital and before I know it, it is 7:15 pm and I am heading home with enough energy to eat dinner and fall into bed. Days off are filled with running errands, playing for a funeral, fixing a friend’s computer, choir practice, etc. And before I know it, it’s time to head back to work again. Oh sure there is time for quick prayer and scripture in the morning, and a prayer before falling asleep at night, but not the quality time spent with the Lord that I made time for when I was walking in the desert.

But then on Saturday something happened where I really needed to feel God’s presence. I was confused and discouraged by the circumstances around me and needed His discernment. But He felt far away. Why could I not feel His presence? How was it when I was in the desert, and a situation came before me, that I felt like He was right there?

On Sunday, when the children came for children’s moment, I had a pitcher of water and a cup. I told them I was thirsty and was going to pour myself a drink of water. However, when I went to pour the water, I turned the cup upside down, so that all the water ran off the sides and nothing filled the cup. Of course, the children quickly urged me to turn the cup right side up. This time when I poured the water, the cup filled to the top. I explained to the children that God wants to fill our lives with His presence. However, when we choose to turn our cup away from Him and fill it with other things, He can’t fill us up. But if we turn our cup upwards towards Him, He will fill us with His presence and all of His blessings.

As I sat down after the children’s moment, I realized that the last week my cup had been turned away from the living water. All of the “other” things in my life had gotten in the way of my time spent with Him. I had been giving Him my “left over” time and when I really needed my cup to be full, it was empty.

Have you felt like God is far away lately? Does your life feel empty? Have you called on Him, but felt like you couldn’t hear Him speak? Does your cup feel empty?

Perhaps He has been getting your “left-over” time? Maybe your cup, like mine, has been turned downward towards the “things” of this life instead of upward towards Him. Our Father longs to fill our cup with every blessing He can possibly give to us. But He can’t do it until we turn our cup towards Him.

I pray that this simple message, shared with the children, will touch your heart as it did mine. And that your cup would once again be turned towards Him allowing Him to fill it to overflowing with His blessings and love.

Friday, January 29, 2010

"I Love You Too"

My little grandson, Wyatt, is about to turn 3 years old. As a baby, he never had trouble going to sleep at night. Holly, his mom, could just put him in his crib and he would go right to sleep. He had no fears. The night didn't scare him at all. But as he has gotten a little older, he has figured out that there is a big world out there and sometimes there are things that scare him. Things that confuse him. Situations he doesn't understand.

And now, when the dark of night comes and it's time to go to sleep, his fears come to life. To compound his fears, the street light outside his bedroom window casts scary shadows on his wall. Holly put a brighter night light in his room but it didn't help. She tried to rearrange his bedroom so he couldn't see the window when he falls asleep. But he was still afraid. Finally she switched him to another bedroom and it helped somewhat.

But even after all her efforts to ease his fears, when Wyatt goes to sleep at night, he calls out from his room and says "I love you Mommy". And Holly answers back from outside his door, "I love you too, Wyatt." A few minutes later comes a little voice, "I love you Mommy." Followed by Holly's, "I love you too, Wyatt." And this continues on, over and over, for about 20 minutes until he finally drifts off to a peaceful sleep, confident his mommy is close by.

We are not unlike little Wyatt. Sometimes it seems like our world is too big. Circumstances come into our lives that we don't understand. Our problems seem big and we feel small. We feel alone. We become fearful and can't find peace or rest.

Perhaps when we are afraid of the night and our life seems cast with shadows, we could call out to our heavenly Father, "I love you Lord." Then we will hear him say "I love you too, my child." And soon our fears will be replaced with His peace and we will find sweet rest.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Those Butterflies

Does God ever use the same example over and over again when He speaks to you? He certainly does me.

Today was the first follow-up visit with the oncologist, followed by a repeat mammogram. We know the routine pretty well. Review the labs. (Liver and spinach still doesn't work). But my infection fighting white blood cells are starting to come up. Examine for lumps or bumps and send you on your way with advice to call for any unusual symptoms that don't go away in a couple of weeks. What I really wanted to hear was, "Ok we've fixed the problem and there is no need for you to return here ever again." I suppose that's what anyone would like to hear from their doctor. But since we didn't hear that, I just left thankful that I wasn't coming back again in a week.

The mammogram was certainly a deja-vu experience. Same place, same lady at the check in, even the same lady who did the test as last year. As I waited to be called, a flood of memories filled my mind, of all that had taken place since being in this place last year. After the mammogram was finished, I was asked to wait while the doctor looked at it, before I could leave. After a few minutes the nurse came out and said the doctor wanted to do an ultrasound. As I remembered those exact words from last year, I felt the "butterflies" again.

I have never quite understood why they move the screen away from you while they are doing the test. I guess they don't want people constantly asking them "what's that?" but I sure tried to get my neck twisted enough to see the screen. As the technician did the ultrasound she kept stopping in the same lymph node area and marking it on her machine. Then she would move to another spot and come back to the lymph node area again and stop to take more pictures. By this time the "butterflies" were definitely out in full force.

But just for a moment. For God came close. I closed my eyes to pray, but opened them again and on the ceiling, I saw the little pink bible. It was opened to the page with the little Precious Moments girl and the caption below that said "Cast all your cares on Him." And the "butterflies" were gone as quick as they came. Replaced with a warm sense of peace. In fact, I closed my eyes again and actually fell asleep during the last few minutes of the ultrasound. Soon the radiologist came in (the same one who did the test last year) and did another ultrasound himself. He said that they thought they saw something in the axillary lymph nodes on the opposite side of the cancer side, but he was not concerned with what he saw. Thank You, Lord!

Later in the afternoon, Ann called to see how the visit went, and I shared with her my disappointment in myself. That after God's speaking to me just 2 days ago about those "butterflies", that I even allowed those feelings today. And with the loving words of a Christian friend, she reminded me that I wasn't Jesus. That we are all human and struggle with doubts. I thought about how God used a little child on Sunday to speak to me about trust. Today, I wonder if He didn't see me as a little child, still needing gentle reminding. But He quickly and lovingly provided that reminder.

God doesn't guarantee Christian people a life with out trials. He doesn't promise that because we are Christians, we won't have "butterflies". He doesn't expect us to BE Him. He only wants us to learn, as a child, to be more like Him.

My prayer for you today, is that when the" butterflies" come, (and they will), that you cast those "butterflies" upon Him and experience His peace.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Little Pink Bible

Sometimes, God has to say the same thing to us in several different ways before we get the message. That happened to me today. God told me in 3 different ways that He wanted me to start writing my blog again.

I haven't written in a couple of weeks now. I could just say that I have been too busy, but that isn't entirely true. I have found that it is a strange place to be after treatment of cancer. This last week marked the anniversary of losing my mom to this terrible disease. She has been on my mind often. Thinking back over her life and the short amount of time between her cancer diagnosis and death brings occasional butterflies to my stomach. It has been one year since I was diagnosed. The statistics say this cancer will likely return within 2-3 years. I wonder when the clock actually starts ticking and that brings butterflies to my stomach. Heaviness on my heart for one of my children sometimes brings butterflies to my stomach.

So I haven't blogged. But, God reminded me today that this is His blog and he wants to speak through me even if it's about the "butterflies". One of my good friends said, "I have missed your blog. You know you don't have to be sick to blog." Then, part of the pastor's sermon spoke about sharing our faith.

But, perhaps He spoke the loudest to me during the children's moment today. One of the youngest children in our church, a sweet little girl named Skylar, came up to show me her little pink Precious Moments bible. Oh how proud she was of that bible. Though she couldn't read yet, she showed me the pictures and she just knew that the words inside were very special.

She brought her pink bible up during the children's moment. I had a small memory stick that goes into the computer and I asked the children if they knew what it was used for. Several of them knew that it was a way to store information and use it later whenever it was needed. I touched the top of Skylar's little head and said "Did you know that you have a memory stick inside here?" She looked up at me with a child's wondering eyes. I said "Skylar can I see your bible for just a minute?" She proudly shared her treasure with me. I told the children that God uses His word for us to store in our memory, so we can use it at a time we need it. As I opened Skylar's bible, it opened to a picture of a little precious moments girl and the scripture underneath said "Cast all your cares on Him." In that split second, God spoke to me through the faces of those children and that little pink bible. He whispered "Roxanne, cast all your butterflies on me and believe for yourself what you are teaching these children."

Not only did God remind me that He still has words for me to share, but that He still wants me to cast all my "butterflies" upon him. And He chose to speak through the eyes of a child with a little pink bible.

"Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you." (1Peter 5:7)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A New Year's Promise

One year ago today, I officially entered the desert called "Stage 3 Triple Negative Breast Cancer." It seems almost inconceivable that one year could bring about such a tremendous change in my life. But I am not speaking solely of the physical change that cancer brought. Yes, 3 surgeries, 10 months of chemotherapy and radiation, hair loss, nausea , bone pain, etc. was physically challenging to say the least.

Our lives were wrought with emotional changes as well this last year. Entering a desert of uncertainty with a disease we were unfamiliar with, presented it's own set of challenges for Carl and I as well.

But I am speaking today of the spiritual change that has taken place in my life in the last year. For it was in the parched and dry desert that God kept me nourished me with living water. In the desert, my fears of cancer were conquered with a confidence in the power of the Great physician. I went from "my control" to "His will". I learned how to be a Mary when I had always been a Martha. I learned the difference between "His peace" and the "peace that the world offers". "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."(John 14:27).

Last week, someone asked me if I thought 2010 would be a better year than 2009. And I thought about that for awhile. In 2009, I saw the birth of two new grandchildren. I watched my youngest son step onto American soil after serving his country in Iraq. Carl and I grew closer to each other in a way that only the Lord can bring together. An ordinary friendship, developed into a spiritual bond cemented through God's love. In 2009, God led me to hundreds of new friends, both close to home and around the world, that I have been able to share my faith journey with through this blog. Carl and I have been lifted up in prayer by more people than we will ever know.

In 2009, the sky was bluer, the sun was brighter, the flowers more fragrant. The hugs of my grandchildren were longer, their laughter more contagious. The love of my husband unconditional. But most importantly, my relationship with my Lord grew much deeper and more intimate.

Often times, in 2009, I couldn't see the purpose behind God's plan. But what I know now is that, despite the desert, His plan for 2009 ultimately brought good to my life, just as He promised. "For all things work together for those who love the Lord." Romans 8:28)

I don't know His plans for 2010. I don't need to know anymore. For His love and faithfulness will be the same in 2010 as it was in 2009 and as it will be FOREVER more! "For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever." (Psalm 117:2)

Now that's a New Year's promise worth celebrating!