Day 1,621

I actually forgot!

As we pass the FIVE YEAR mark since Justin’s diagnosis on January 16, 2016, I can report with gladness that the anniversary date of his diagnosis did not send me into a bout of struggling through post-traumatic flashbacks and unrelenting dark thoughts. In fact, to my absolute joy, I forgot the date until today. I actually forgot!

A Huge STEP…

This may seem like a gross omission, since we have looked toward this time with such faith, endurance and hope. But as one who has struggled and suffered and persevered with Jeff, Nicky and Michael, alongside Justin, all of these many days, I view it as a huge STEP. By His grace, I have been able to move forward. We have been able to move FORWARD.

There came a time when posting updates became too painful for me. I had to take time for self-care, rest and even moving into a new house. There are several reasons why we moved, but it is not lost on me that staying in the physical place where we experienced the longest of nights and greatest of pain was not healthy for the mind. We are so very grateful that God provided an alternative.

…only Jesus Christ can heal the heart and soul…

While it is true that I have walked through dark places with Justin, Jeff, Nicky and Michael and what often felt like being very, very alone, I also know what is not true. I was never alone. By His Spirit, Jesus was with me. I know this is true because we are HEALING and we are daily BEING HEALED. To me, forgetting the diagnosis date, even briefly, is evidence! Yes, chemotherapy, with its host of problems and side effects, CAN kill cancer. But only Jesus Christ can heal the heart and soul after being broken over and over again.

Justin will not officially finish treatment and move into the survivorship program until the end of March 2021.

If you are still receiving these updates, thank you for following and praying. Grace be with you.

“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

Justin, age 10. Five year cancer survivor. It’s an honor and joy to be his mom!

The Dawning Time

fullsizerender-39The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:“…the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:13-16

What has impressed on me more than anything this Christmas is the link between Scriptural prophecy on the coming of Christ and the fulfillment recorded in the gospels. I mean I KNEW about it and I BELIEVED it. But this year it’s really jumping off the pages for me.

God said Jesus was coming. People wrote it down. Everything He said would happen, did happen. People wrote it down. And the pages survived and flourished in translation for thousands of years. This is unequivocal reliability.

We will all most likely spend the next twenty-four hours or so in various kinds of traditional Christmas activities or preparing for said activities. And we will feel joy, nostalgia, sentiment, perhaps great sadness. But, to me, none of this comes close to the soul-bending awe that results when I think about the dawning of a Light that has reached down, in great hope, to our helpless state of darkness.

Even on a day sometimes referred to as the Festival of Lights, we can experience that dimmest kind of murkiness, simply resulting from our imperfect existence. May you know and see and feel and believe that which darkness CANNOT prevent from breaking through.

To me, Christmas is a beautiful reminder and celebration of the dawning time.

My sincere gratitude for your prayers and support as we continue to journey with childhood cancer. Justin and the boys enjoyed decorating cookies last night. Grace be with you, my friends.

Love’s Greatest Victory

cross-danger1Last night, I yelled at Nicky because he kept making careless mistakes with his math homework. Like really yelled at him. Like a lunatic. Over multiplication.

But I wasn’t really mad at Nicky or the fundamentals of fourth-grade math. I was just mad. Angry. Annoyed. Agitated. Because this recent cold, damp weather is not a friend to muscular dystrophy. Because my son has cancer. And because my days are filled with constant mind-draining, mentally exhausting negotiation with a five-year-old to STEP FORWARD “because everything is okay.”

Cancer has been like a tornado in Justin’s life, coming on suddenly and fiercely, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. He’s continuously disappointed over missed activities, physically hurting from chemotherapy and afraid of EVERYTHING. And, yes, there have been big victories and huge blessings. But there are days we just can’t seem to remember them clearly no matter how hard we try.

Yes, I get frustrated and angry and tempted to think that God is not good or loving. But I FIGHT those feelings with Truth. I often go to the Psalms and the promise found in Romans 8:28. “And we know that all things work together for good…”

But today, I am also reflecting on a sermon by Jonathan Edwards I’ve recently read. On Christ’s agonizing prayer to the Father on the night He was betrayed (Matthew 26:36-46), Edwards writes this:

Thus powerful, constant, and violent was the love of Christ; and the special trial of his love above all others in his whole life seems to have been in the time of his agony. For though his sufferings were greater afterwards, when he was on the cross, yet he saw clearly what those sufferings were to be, in the time of his agony; and that seems to have been the first time that ever Christ Jesus had a clear view what these sufferings were; and after this the trial was not so great, because the conflict was over. His human nature had been in a struggle with his love to sinners, but his love had got the victory. The thing, upon a full view of his sufferings, had been resolved on and concluded; and accordingly, when the moment arrived, he actually went through with those sufferings.

My favorite line is, “but his love had got the victory.” Oh praise him! Christ could have chosen to forego the cross, but He went willingly because of His great love for us. Love’s greatest victory was won for me! How can I not know and grasp and believe and rejoice that God is GOOD?!

Well I just put Quiche and organic broccoli in the oven and am able to take a minute to conclude this post. Don’t be impressed. We had hot dogs last night.

Today, I apologized to Nicky and asked for his forgiveness. Then I jumped on him where he was sitting on the couch and gave him hugs and kisses until he laughed and said, “Yes, I forgive you, mom, but you’re crushing my leg!”

If there is one thing I’ve taught my boys, it’s that we are all in need of grace. To be given as much as we have received.

My thirty-eighth birthday is next week. I’m too young for all this grey hair. Grace be with you, my friends.


Indignation and Compassion

 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Mark 1:40-41

Sunday, I taught a lesson to my New Life Kids’ class about this passage of scripture. We are studying the miracles of Jesus, and in this particular instance, He heals a man of a debilitating skin disease. The focus of the lesson, according to the curriculum, was that just as He had cleansed this man from a physical disease,  Jesus can, and does, also cleanse us spiritually from our personal offenses, or sins, of pride, greed, and so on. This spiritual cleansing requires a response on our part to God’s grace. Not good works, as they alone cannot save us. This response is faith in the truth that Jesus died for us and there is no other way to God, but through belief in Him. (John 14:6)

I taught all of this with fervor, as I firmly believe this is the truth of the Gospel. The beautiful truth. But some interesting details jumped out at me as I studied and planned my lesson about the healing of the leper.

This story was recorded in three of the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke. However, I thought the account in Mark really captured the heart of Jesus when confronted by the leper. When we take time to meditate on and study the life of Jesus, we can more deeply understand the character of our Savior.

“Jesus was indignant.”

It is important not to misunderstand the text. I don’t feel that this is conveying that Jesus was simply “annoyed” with yet another person approaching him for healing. Or even aggravated that a contagious leper came near Him.

On the contrary, I think these three words speak volumes about how Jesus feels about physical disease. The text says that Jesus was indignant and I believe that, indeed, He was. Jesus, being God Himself, looked upon a person made in His own image whom He loves, and saw the ugly, disfigured, painful, rotten effects of a terrible disease. Jesus knew that physical disease is a result of a world broken by evil, a world that He entered in order to offer hope. I daresay Jesus was struck with anger and His heart was grieved for what had become of this man, His creation. Jesus wasn’t angry at the leper. I think Jesus was angry at the disease.

It is important to clarify that I am NOT saying the leper had done something bad and that is why he had a disease. Rather, that the effect of sin entering the world is, in part, physical disease. When God created the world, it was GOOD. He did not create illness or even mean for us to die. Death and disease came into the world as a result of evil entering it. (Genesis 1-3, Roman 5:12-21)

So why do I take time to pontificate the true meaning of Jesus’s anger in this story of the leper? Because we have a God who identifies with our anger, frustrations and sorrow. He took on skin and walked the earth, feeling every human emotion. I may feel anger, at times, toward my own painful disease, muscular dystrophy. But I actually take comfort in the fact that God may be angry about it, too! Why? Mainly because I know He also has the power to heal me. But, if He chooses not to, then I MUST conclude that He has a VERY GOOD reason.

Jesus was Compassionate

I love what happens next with Jesus and the leper. Jesus is angry and full of mercy  in the span of a mere moment. I also must point out that Jesus could have healed this man by speaking words or just thinking or any way He wished. But think about what Jesus chose to do! He touched him. A leper, whom NO ONE would dare touch for fear of infection. At this time and in this culture, lepers were forced to live alone outside the community away from their families. Because they were so highly contagious, they had to cover their mouths and call out, “unclean!” if they came near another person. (Leviticus 13:43-46) How lonely and humiliating!

I also have to laugh when I think about what Jesus did. At times, Jesus could be such a “rule-breaker!” No one was supposed to touch a leper. But Jesus did it anyway.

The compassion of Jesus is very evident in His decision to heal this man with a tender touch. A man who had probably not felt the touch of another person in a very long time. Our God is personal and lovingly attentive to detail.


God feels anger toward injustice just as we do. (God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. Psalm 7:11) There will be a day when He will judge the world, and put an end to evil and its painful effects. Although God feels anger towards evil, the Bible says that it’s a different story when it comes to those who are in Christ. (The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Psalm 103:8)

I believe that the way Jesus reacted and responded to the leper demonstrates that Jesus is angry at what hurts us and tenderly attentive to our personal needs. I hope my attempt to dig deeper into the character of Jesus has filled you with a desire for Him.

Grace be with you, my friends.

To Be Near Him

I recently read a book called The Essential Jesus, which is the Gospel of Luke, translated in a very comprehensible form. Reading about Jesus and his many encounters with people while he was on earth really got me thinking.

Of course, my story is fictional, and we can meet Jesus in Spirit through prayer and Scripture reading. But thinking about people who encountered Him as a human being as well as the Son of God really got me pondering what it may have been like to experience Him in Biblical times and what I might have said to Him and, well, there went my wild imagination! Journey through time with me…

To Be Near Him

The heat was oppressive that day. At least there was shade from the sun inside the house. I ladled some water into a cup and drank.

“What are you doing out of bed?” My sister-in-law almost shrieked as she entered the house and dropped her basket. “You are supposed to rest your legs when they ache.”

Inwardly I groaned, but I didn’t dare voice a complaint to the one who was devoted to my care. Surely I was a burden to her although she never let on. She helped me back to the bed.

“Give me the mending to do, sister. I’ll not sit here idle all day. After all, there’s nothing wrong with my hands,” I said.

She seemed to consider it for a moment, then relented and brought me the basket of torn garments, needle and thread. I set to work, grateful for something to pass the time and distract my mind from the heat.

“Mama, Mama!” My oldest son’s face appeared at the door. There was an earnestness in his voice. My sister’s head shot up from her work. All of our children were pushing behind him, shouting, and, within moments, they entered the house.

“Hush!” my sister called. “What is going on?” She was looking directly at my oldest boy.

“Jesus is in our town,” he began excitedly, “and He’s coming this way. Jesus is going to pass right by our house. He’s been healing people all day.” My son looked at me then he continued. “We saw him. There was a blind man and he spoke to Jesus. We couldn’t hear what Jesus said, but when the blind man walked away, he could see again!”

The other children started to chatter, but my sister hushed them. She and I exchanged glances. We had heard so much about this Jesus. We talked about Him for hours as we did chores together. Some said He was the Messiah, the promised One. Others doubted. I spent a lot of time thinking about Him. I hadn’t told my sister, but I felt curiously drawn to Jesus. A wise teacher, healer, man capable of miracles, man from impoverished, little Nazareth, of all places. He claimed to be the Son of God. Oh how my heart wanted to believe this!

My sister and I heard that Jesus also claimed to forgive sins. I knew I had broken the law. Even when I had kept the law outwardly I was sure, in my thoughts, I had sinned against God and others. Could this Jesus really forgive me?

I looked at the excitement on the children’s faces. They said the blind man was healed but then he went away. I couldn’t fathom it. I would want to talk to Jesus. I would have so many questions. But Jesus probably wouldn’t waste his time. I imagined Jesus being brilliant and having limitless knowledge and understanding. It was foolish to think He would take time for conversation with me.

Then I thought about what I heard about how Jesus was spending his time. I was told Jesus went to the homes of sinners and dined with them. People whom the Priests and Pharisees would have never considered worthy of sharing a meal and conversation.

Clearly, Jesus was different. He must really care about people. He must truly love others. I longed to meet Him myself. To see Him with my own eyes. To know Him. To be near Him.

And now Jesus was about to pass by our house! Using my arms as leverage, I pushed myself up. This time my sister did not argue. She looked at me knowingly and her eyes became moist with tears.

“Take me to Jesus,” I said.

My son looked to his aunt for approval and she nodded. Instantly they were both at my side, offering support as I walked unsteadily toward the door. The other children trailed behind us.

The mid-afternoon sun temporarily blinded me, and I stumbled as my legs felt fatigued after only a short distance.

“Can you go on, mama?” my son asked. They were holding me up, one on each side. A small crowd gathered around us.

I took a deep breath and attempted to take a step forward. Then One in the crowd turned and looked directly at me.

“Woman,” He said, “who do you seek?” His voice was kind and tender.

The sun spots cleared from my eyes and I saw a face that was not the most lovely to look upon, but it was one that expressed love and compassion. Immediately, I knew this was Jesus. He stood in front of me, not just looking at me, but SEEING ME with eyes full of concern. I began to comprehend that Jesus was much more than a mere man and, moreover, at that very moment His attention was focused on me. How could this be? What could I possibly offer Him? Yet He stood there, genuinely waiting for a reply, and something told me He would have waited all day.

My sister nudged me. I knew what they expected me to ask of Him. It was clear to everyone who had gathered that I suffered from an illness. The crowd was poised and ready for a healing. I couldn’t request His healing power then simply walk away. My heart had formed another response. I needed something far more important.

“I am seeking  you, Lord. Please grant me forgiveness,” I said. Like flood waters, a deep sense of faith came rushing into my heart. Truly, I was looking at the very Son of God. “Please come to our home for dinner. I don’t have much to offer, but everything I have I will give to you.”

Thank you for reading. Again this is a fictional story about a physical encounter with Jesus in Biblical times, but one based on my desire to know Him and draw nearer to Him each day. Until I meet Him face to face in eternity, I am blessed to be able to do this through prayer and Scripture reading. If you would like to get to know Jesus, The Gospel of Luke is a great place to start. If you’re finding Scripture difficult to comprehend, please email me. I’d be happy to send you a copy of The Essential Jesus. 

Grace be with you, my friends.