Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Retreat and Recovery

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/28/16: I’m sitting on the porch at Camp Arcadia twenty feet from the lake in disbelief that I am even here, that we drove all this way in the midst of pain, allergic reactions, anxiety, and achiness.

It is nice today – 74 degrees with the sun peeking out here and there and the wind constant at about 13 mph. Lake Michigan is crashing and turbulent and I’m trying not to stand out too much and feel guilty that everyone is working and I am not. We are here for opening weekend, which is a volunteer weekend to get camp ready for the season. I did not think we would be able to go this weekend, but I was given the all clear by the two surgeons and the camp director said I could be an “encourager” this weekend.

Thankfully most of the work near where I am sitting is done. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do anything, but I cut fabric for three hours this morning in the craft shop. But my cutting hand is on the right, the same side as the surgery and it started to ache. I don’t want to push it, so I’m here after resting in the room a bit.

Everyone is telling me to write, especially Jerry. He sees my potential, even when I cannot. I have two journals – a gift from Clare and another in the basket of love. Yet this pressure to write makes it hard. I’m an avoider. All of these emotions and pain, I don’t want to write them down and have to relive them again.

When I think back to surgery day, I think of how awful it was and YET every blood pressure check was calm and normal. I had a needle with wire in it, in my breast for hours – when I was awake, and I lived through it. I somehow made it through the nausea, recovery, sleeping propped up for days. Vicodin dreams, hazy days. The allergic reactions to the iodine and surgical tape. I’m still itching, skin still weeping under my arm. When I look at my chest and abdomen, I see a war zone. There are bruises, pin holes, red angry dots, stitches, steri strips, sutures, red, purple, blue, green, and yellow. My breast looks the best of all of it. My right underarm angry, red, raised, and fiery reaction and heat and sweat. Sore, but not painful. My belly swollen and raised and puffier than ever. I wonder how it will all look and feel in the end? I have partial feeling in my breast and it is unclear if all feeling will return.

I’m trying to keep my thoughts to right now, to the churning waves, and the cool breeze. Because when I think about the test results and next steps, tamoxifen, and testing every six months, my heart hurts and I am overwhelmed. I lay there last night unable to sleep, the anxiety too much and I let the sobs shake me until I coughed and choked and woke Jerry up. It’s a head game, Mom said. Yes…and I have fallen prey to this cruel game more than once.

I want to sit here and believe that the surgery is done, therefore cancer is done. But I don’t really know yet, so I try not to think about Tuesday – likely when I will hear the tumor testing results and the lymph node tests. I have a feeling that this continued healing will also involve more pain.

I keep thinking that it has only been one month and one day since I was diagnosed and what have I really learned?

  • We are only dust.
  • We know so little.
  • Planning is a pointless venture.
  • God forces us to pause for a reason – what is mine?
  • Life is on a grander scale than just my purposes and pain.
  • I can’t avoid the inevitable (death).
  • I am not afraid of death itself, just the bumpy path that may lead to it.
  • I am afraid of leaving all I love – I’m afraid for them, how they would cope.
  • I love Jerry more today than I could ever express.
  • I don’t know if I will be OK or not and somehow, I have to live life and find joy in that tension.
  • I can laugh and choose joy everyday – even in the face of this evil disease.
  • I will never by holy enough or pure enough to enter God’s presence – therefore sin and disease may do its work in me as they have this past month.
  • I will never claim this cancer as my own or call it as such but will continue to pray and discern why it was here and in fear and trembling pray it will never return.
  • I don’t want to become one of those people who is ruled by and obsessed by their condition.
  • As much as I love gifts, I hate it that I have so many right now because of cancer. I would rather be well and never receive another gift again.

I sit and gaze at the fury and beauty of Lake Michigan still in awe that I am here. Thankful, humbled, broken. Yet alive, joyful, grateful.

Why Cancer?

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

What consequences have you experienced because of your wrongdoing?

I stare long and hard at this question on my bible study paper. We are studying the book of Joshua and how the sin of one person can affect not only herself but the community at large. But this question – this asks ME what MY wrongdoing has caused; ME.

My wrongdoing is anger. I’ve talked about it here before. Anger had started before cancer…years before.

I sit in my Bible study group, silence, crickets, after our leader reads the question, I sigh loudly and start. “I’m just going to say this, but I don’t want to talk about this. Please understand that what I’m saying has no bearing on any one else but me. No conclusions can be drawn for anyone but me. I believe my sin, specifically anger, is partly why I got cancer. I believe God revealed this to me when I asked why. I can’t say this about anyone else but me, please understand. But for me, cancer is the consequence of my wrongdoing – consequence of my anger.”

The room pulsates silence. A few mumble thanks for sharing. My heart pounds in my chest. I vainly swallow the lump in my throat. I don’t even know this group yet – it is only week two. But somehow, I know that I need this truth I’ve learned to be out there. MY anger caused MY cancer.

It is shortly after my diagnosis and Jerry asks me, “Do you think you have cancer because of the anger you have towards women who think you are pregnant?”

“Yes, I do.”

I have an odd shaped body. From the side, it looks I have an egg crammed into my insides where the rounded part of the egg is my bottom and the pointy part of the egg resides right under my chest. Having three kids and experiencing substantial weight gain has only exacerbated the oddness. I have tried everything: crunches, dieting, shapeware, flowy tops, creative layering, and accessorizing. Without substantial weight loss and possibly surgery I will never have any semblance of a flat stomach, especially where I want it, right under my rib cage.

I regularly have strangers ask me how far along I am or when I am due, as if it is obvious that I am pregnant. It has been years since I’ve carried a baby, and it was never easy or fun. My anger and bitterness towards women who asked or thought I was pregnant over the last few years has grown considerably. I didn’t realize how long it has been growing. Every interaction so shocking to me…so odd that so many felt they needed to talk to me, a stranger, about this.

Each time I was asked, the anger grew and festered until I remember once the anger exploded into rage for several hours. (Thankfully not towards the stranger, but at home.) I was a mess and all I could think is, “What is wrong with me?” Yet, I allowed it to fester and grow…I didn’t ask for forgiveness, didn’t try to resolve it, didn’t pray about it.

Now I realize how damaging this can be, how cancer grows exponentially and eats away at all things good, just like this anger was eating away my positive view of myself and others.

So, I ask the question, “God, why do I have cancer?” I don’t even need to hear a straight answer…it’s like he’s just nodding, saying, “You know why.” I pray, I cry, I ask for forgiveness. How do I expect to meet a holy God with this sin choking me? Forgive me, God. Please keep me from sin. Help me to live in your grace. I realize now that each day is a new opportunity to be free from this anger.

And that opportunity comes more quickly than I wanted. I’m at the hospital for yet another test. The check-in person at the Women’s Health Center asks me when I am due. I say no, that after three kids this body didn’t bounce back – I have a weird shaped body. That I was so big with each kid that I wished I looked this cute when I was pregnant. I think she didn’t know what to say, but she smiled and laughed. She leaves, I pray against anger, I rationalize that she is waiting for grand kids and is excited. I remind myself that this means people actually think I’m still young enough to have kids. And I believe God helps me let it go.

As I lay there reflecting that night I felt God saying to love all women, no anger, no back talking, no hate – just love. Yes, love. Just love.

Surgery Day

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Day of surgery. All cleaned up and antibacterial wipes done. My last food, eaten. I can have liquids until 11:30am. Kayla is nervous for me and she throws up right after she wakes up. It’s a beautiful day. It reminds me of the day Kayla was born 11 years ago.

As nervous as I had been the night before – to the point of a drunk, anxious, spinning feeling to anxious coughs – like asthma after running in the cold – I wake up this morning and command the enemy to leave me in the name of Jesus. No more spinning and a supernatural peace envelopes me. I post the following to my Facebook group:





I talked to Rachel last night and she said, “You have had your body sawn in half and a baby taken out, so how bad can it be?” Good point. We talked about lots of other random things and it was a good diversion.

Trying to stay calm this morning. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.

Surgery day is long. We don’t leave the house until 11:15, arrive at the hospital at 12:15pm and I go right in. They take me back for the needle insertion to mark the non-cancerous breast lesion. In the first room on the wall there is a yellow day lily painted on silk and embroidered in small circles, almost like quilting. I didn’t think about it much at the time.

Next, they take me into the mammogram procedure room. The doctor is very nice, and the needle insertion goes quickly. They were going to make me stand for it as they needed to take several mammogram pictures before and during to ensure they put the pin in the correct location. Instead they found a sitting gurney chair and used that. And yes, there was a needle sticking out of me, while I was awake, before surgery, taped down until they put me under. So weird.

I prayed quietly as I waited for the doctor and sang, “I love you Lord”. Then I looked at the picture on the wall – a white flower painted on silk with embroidery (same artist as the lily in the other room). I looked at the tag – white trillium. Suddenly I remembered the yellow day lily Rachel texted me that morning. The first in her garden this spring – she said, “I think this is for you.” The same type of lily and same color as the picture in the first room.

My eyes refocus on the trillium in the mammogram room I’m in now. I hear God speaking into my mind, “A gift for you, from me. You are right were you should be.” The flower swells off the wall as tears fill my eyes. Wow, just wow.

Ever since I learned about trillium, the pretty white flowers that grow mostly in northern Michigan that turn a beautiful shade of lavender, I’ve wanted to see one in person, near my home. I was privileged to see tons of them in Petoskey when my sister lived there. About three years ago, I was driving to pick up the kids from school and as I passed a small forest on the way, God beckoned me to look into the forest and said, “there are trillium there”. I could see them a bit from the road and after picking up the kids, we circled back and got out of the car to investigate and take pictures. There is no way I would have seen the trillium without God’s nudging.

After the needed is inserted, they wheel me to surgery prep and I was the only patient there. The nurse who did my IV was excellent – hardly a mark and no bruise. All of my blood pressure checks were normal – first time since I was diagnosed. Next, I meet with the doctors. The plastic surgeon draws funny lines all over me. He sees the needle sticking out of me and asks, “Who are you, Jane of the jungle?” I laugh.

The anesthesiologist gives me a small patch behind my ear to prevent nausea as a dear doctor friend recommended. He also inserted a nerve block near the lump removal site. This administers pain relief for about 18 hours after the surgery. I have never heard of this. Thankfully they sedate me during the insertion because, yeah, I see now on my upper chest where the block went in and no thanks! That would have been very painful to experience awake! I then see the surgeon briefly.

They wheel me back to the O.R. I see the table waiting for me and the lights, but they aren’t on yet. Then I wake up in the recovery room. Jerry and I and the nurse are the only ones there. I drink juice and eat crackers and feel nauseous but go to the bathroom and start to feel better. The nurse takes out the IV, I get dressed with Jerry’s help and we leave at 8pm – the sun still shining. I put the chest seatbelt behind me on the way home.

Dawn picks up my prescriptions and Laura watches the kids and they had a good day. I stay up for a while to get the pain meds going, update a few things on Facebook, answer text messages, and then go to bed. Surgery done. Now, time to recover…


Encouragement From All

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/22/16: It is the night before surgery (Sunday) and I literally feel like I’ve stepped off a boat and am trying to get my land legs. I’m not dizzy, so it must be stress. This happened the other day too. I feel restless and tired and yet I couldn’t take a nap this afternoon.

I’ve received so many cards, text messages, phone calls, and gifts this week – I can’t keep them all straight. So many hugs, promises of prayer. It is all surreal – I just had no idea of the love out there.

I’m trying to remember the last few days, but they are a blur. On Thursday a friend took the kids and told Jerry and I to go out to eat. We went to the Post and I ate my favorite there – Fried Egg BLT with Spicy Maple Bacon. Sooo good. I tried ginger beer and didn’t like it, but Jerry did. It was nice to be out, just the two of us doing normal things. I’m finding in the midst of this chaos, it is the everyday rhythm that keeps me going.

Friday Kayla and Zach went to school for Field Day and I spent the day with Abby. We didn’t do too much, except shopping, which we did some damage! We ate at IKEA like we did when she was little. It was fun to spend time with just her.

When we got home, I started getting calls. First from the surgeon’s office telling me that I have to go in early before surgery, so they can insert a wire where the small non-cancerous legion is located. I have to be awake during this procedure. I’m not happy about this.

Next, I get a call from the geneticist. She tells me that all six genes tested for cancer came back negative including BRCA1 and BRCA2. Praise God! BRCA2 came back noted as a “variant of unknown significance”. This basically means no genetic link to cancer, so I’m free and clear! This means that chemotherapy is very unlikely. Final genetics results with details in just three weeks.

Friday night I melted down. We had not done much cleaning for Kayla’s birthday party the next day. I worried about dealing with the mental fatigue of all of this. I pick the worst times to melt down. It was 10:15pm and Jerry had not started making the cakes yet. He started at 10:45pm, oh well. Thankful for Laura who came early to help put up decorations, clean bathrooms, and do dishes. Dawn helped with the food when she got there also. The party was a lot of fun and Kayla had fun. It was a nice diversion for me and helped me get through the weekend.

The day of Kayla’s party, Jerry had been home for five minutes from running an errand earlier in the day and I came outside and said, “What’s that on your car?” There was a gift from Erica – she’s so sneaky – a prayer shawl made of Solomon knots – a new stitch she just learned. Love her.

The prayer session after church was so nice. A few friends and Mom came, and Pastor Tim led the session. He prayed over Jerry and I and anointed us with oil. Although I’m nervous about the surgery, I feel immense peace. I am grateful for such a loving church community.

Today, the last day before surgery, my women’s ministry ladies came over with a large laundry-sized basket filled with gifts. Each gift was individually wrapped with a long ribbon attached to it. They said that after each milestone of treatment or every day or whatever I wanted I could pull on a string and open a gift. They told me that each gift was meant to encourage me. Kayla counted the strings – wow – 40 gifts! I’m honored and in awe of this gesture. Can’t wait to open one tomorrow.

There is so much to write but I must get to bed. I’m overwhelmed by the love and support of so many. God is good.

Praise God No Matter What

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/17/16: I’m waiting for the call about the MRI biopsy results. Very much hoping it is this morning. Praying for no more cancer. I keep going to the bathroom. I’m a little shaky, yet I can’t keep my eyes open like my body wants to shut down.

I think God is telling me to praise him no matter what – regardless of the biopsy results. I will – but I don’t know what that looks like – what to do or how to act. But for now, I’m going to write down the verses that people have given me or those that have been revealed to me.

Revealed to me:

  • Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” This is a hard truth – but isn’t it true that we win either way?
  • A constant for over a year and hanging on the wall in our living room: Philippians 4:13 (ESV) “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
  • To remember that it is not what we can see in this world that matters, but what is unseen. 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
  • That God’s purposes are beyond our understanding. And even though he does not want us to suffer or be in pain he will work all things out for our good, for those of us who are his children. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Tim S. / Rachel: comfort in anxiety. Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I do not have to accept anxiety but pray and receive the peace of God which is beyond my understanding.

Mom: One of my favorite bands is Jars of Clay, named after the following verses, which Mom reminded me of: 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Beth and Lisa L: Lisa said that she was praying and reading her Bible and this verse made her think of me. Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Laura E. texted me this verse reminding me of who God is, even in this storm. Psalm 46:10 “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”

Beth: reminding me that God sees me in all things. Psalm 139:1-2,12 ESV “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

My friends and family, giving me spirit-filled words to lift me up and remind me that I’m not alone.

The phone rings and the MRI biopsy results are good – no cancer in the two spots sampled! One was a benign spot. The other is an interductal papilloma – a “high risk breast lesion”. They will remove this spot separately from the cancer lump and it will not affect anything. Certainly not a case for mastectomy. I am overjoyed! God is good! Somehow getting this good news breathes new life into me.

Lori and Diana pick me up and take me to Panera to celebrate. We laugh about silly things. Talking and eating and sharing with them soothes my soul.

Gifts Upon Gifts

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/13/16: One of my love languages is gifts and people have been so generous with their time, prayers, and money, buying us food, and pouring into our family. There have been dinners, gift cards, cards, phone calls, watching the kids, text messages, flowers, coffee, candy. One of my most treasured gifts is from my dear friend Charlotte. As we were on the phone last night, she prayed a beautiful, moving prayer over me. I was stunned and calmed and overwhelmed by her beautiful, spirit-inspired words.

These are the true gifts that community can offer. Yet reaching out is hard for so many of us. When my mom had cancer, I didn’t know how to help, to talk to her about it. We live 150 miles apart and, in my head, I used every excuse in the book to be silent, to not visit. I was at her surgery, but as treatment progressed I didn’t visit. It feels so awful writing this down and realizing how much of an avoider I am. One day she was talking about how difficult her days were – when her eyes watered so much she couldn’t watch TV, couldn’t read. Food had no taste and lying in bed too much hurt more than being awake. During that terrible time, she said, “All I wanted was someone to talk to.”

When someone you know is going through serious illness or grief, it is better to say something through a simple text or message, a card, your presence, even when you don’t know what to say, than to say nothing at all. This shows that you see them, you are thinking about them, that you love them. All gestures big and small are appreciated.

Life and Joy in the Pain

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/13/16: I haven’t talked about the MRI biopsy, the anxiety, the heart leaping dread when the phone rings, a gastro system confused and traumatized by constant stress. The uncertainty of now is this waiting. My body betrays my relatively calm mind in these moments.

Today it was when I was on the table for the MRI biopsy. I had taken the Valium but as we went further into the procedure I realized it was not enough. Over an hour with my arms and shoulders outstretched in the superman position, causing pain and numbness and stiffness. Four hours past breakfast and when they injected the numbing agent, they needed the maximum amount. But it was not enough, and I felt some of the movement, the needle, the burning.

I felt faint, sweat swelled up in every pore. I just wanted to move to relieve the tension and pain, but I couldn’t. They put cool cloths on me, took off the blankets. It seemed like an eternity, but maybe it was only a few minutes and I finally came out of it. The radiologist doing the biopsy said this was the body’s normal response to stress, that even if the mind is calm, this can happen. This was the most stressful test thus far.

I go home and collapse onto the couch. I’m sitting listening to For King and Country – Shoulders.

My help comes from You

You’re right here, pulling me through

You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders.

This song soothes my soul as I remember that God carries me through this.

My thoughts center on sister Rachel and all the trauma she has seen in recent days. A few short months ago she gave birth to sweet little Owen just one day shy of 28 weeks. While the circumstances around his birth were terrifying, his prognosis was good. Rachel and her husband Kal prepared themselves to be preemie parents and while Rachel recovered, they concentrated on adoring this little 1 lb. boy. Ten days later, he became sick and coded several times and died. They lost him forever on this earth. Their sweet little boy they had just begun to know, left them way too soon.

Just five months later and here I am in my mess and pain and she texts me daily even in the midst of her own horrible, personal, pain. Somehow, she is still willing to enter this pain with me. Overwhelming sobs roll out onto my shirt.

Beth, mom to five boys and dear friend texts me that same afternoon, “It’s a baby!” I perk up, sit up on the couch and text back, “What kind of baby?!?!?!” “A GIRL!” and sweet pictures start scrolling onto my phone. This beautiful family of five boys welcomed their sweet number six – a girl! I cry tears of joy and as I tell Jerry and the kids all five of us scream in delight. This pain and sorrow in life inexplicably linked to joy. Life continues, and we choose to engage and thrive or disconnect and die.

The catch in my throat, my tears, you see it all Jesus and I know you are doing a work, redeeming me always even during this terrible disease.

Community Around

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/12/16: Today feels impossible. This cold makes me feel achy and tired. Took a nap for a couple of hours but didn’t really sleep much. Feeling run down affects my outlook on life. I just want today to be normal – no doctor phone calls, no tests, just a normal day – but that hasn’t really happened. I get the MRI results on paper in the mail and call to preregister for the MRI biopsy, which is tomorrow. This cold reminds me that I am not 100%, nor will I be for a long time. I have no desire to go outside even though the sun shines. Jerry texts me about talking to a social worker or a Stephen Minister (a person trained to help those with major life issues from a Christian perspective). No, I guess there will be no normal – at least not anytime soon.

For years I prayed for community. When we lived in our apartment, we lived 30 minutes away from church, so we didn’t get to know people well. When we moved to our house and started having kids, I remember family visiting and just one person making us a meal, but no one else was there. We truly did not have friends that lived close enough to stop by. (Most of our friends lived 30 minutes or more away.) I remember holding one of our sweet babes, alone, and crying out to God, begging him for community, for love, for people who would carry us in difficult times and we would learn to carry them. For someone, anyone, to knock on the door, send a text, call on the phone. The silence was deafening.

Here, now, amid this darkness and pain, our community rises to meet us. People call me, and I don’t want to answer the phone. People text me every day. Cards start coming in the mail.

Hugs and stories from other breast cancer survivors come to my attention. Sister Rachel texts every day and later when I start radiation she calls me every day. I appreciate it all, but I don’t know how to respond. God giving me such good gifts of love, hope, people stepping forward into my pain. God, answering my prayer for community – even when I could not accept it. God, building this community around us over the last five years and beyond. Always Him, always God, working all these things out. Community stepping in all around us.

Somehow, I know that I can make it through this day and the next.

Email of Hope

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/11/16: I received an email from my pastor today and his words offer so much hope. Here is what he wrote (used with permission):

Hello Jen,

I hope you are sensing God with you during these days.

This morning you came to mind and I had a thought that I pass on to you from the Lord. It is this. You are a writer, and one of the challenges in writing is writing about something meaningful, something that will make a difference to others. You have that “gift.” I know calling it a “gift” seems like a real stretch, but bear with me.

The word is this: keep a diary. Record what you are experiencing; your emotions, your faith, your God moments, your anger, your struggles, your doubts, your revelations, everything. Then, when you are delivered from this, write about it so that others might learn and grow from your experiences. You may already be doing this, if so, please consider this as confirmation of what you are doing and why. I encourage you not to waste this opportunity. God wants to use you. You have a purpose in all of this and a future. What Satan meant for evil, God means for good. It may seem at times to be slim consolation, but such writing will give you a way to process what you are experiencing, as well as a way to record your experiences for you to write about when all this is behind you. And, it will be behind you. (Emphasis, mine.)

You know that you have many people praying for you and your family. I trust that this word is, in part, a result of those prayers. I look forward to how God is going to use you.

In Jesus,

Pastor Dave


As I read this, I cry an ugly, howling cry because I know he is right and I know that I can’t stop now. I reply and thank him, tell him that this confirmed what my dear friend Char told me yesterday. That I’m already writing, that God is with me.

Pr. Dave’s confidence that one day this will all be behind me gives me hope. Hope to share with others, so they can learn and grow and share the hope that I have.


In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/11/16: I read Psalm 63 in my devotional Bible today, verse 3 where it says “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Do I really live that way? Is God’s love what I focus on solely? The devotion says that whole weeks and seasons and years can feel like wildernesses – yes, that is where I am right now. It seems with each test and day going forward I’m entering the dark of this wilderness.

The MRI results are mostly good, but also sketchy. The left breast is completely fine – praise God. The lymph nodes on both the left and right side are not enlarged which, which generally means it has not spread. Awesome news! But there is a separate area that they need to look at further. There are many things this could be – benign things. So, I have to go for an MRI guided biopsy. I’m so upset that I have to do another test. For now, I’m scheduled for more than a week out, but hopefully I will know today if they can get me in sooner.

These tests are so scary – I feel lost in the woods. God, please let this new area be nothing and that we go forward with the current surgical plan.

I’m trying to stay positive, but it is hard to not think the worst. I know God is with me. I like what my friend Jamie said on my Facebook page, “They are starting to see that the cancer is leaving.” That has been my prayer from the beginning – complete healing.

I think back to Psalm 63:3 – how can I focus on this love – a love better than life – a life that IS life. Surely this love can lead me through this wilderness – keep me alive.