The Moment Before and After You Hear the Word Cancer

“I have a little news to share.”

I knew dad was taking medicine for a recent issue but it turned out the medicine was no match for the mass occupying most of his bladder.

With the biopsy looming two weeks later, I protected my thoughts like a mama bear, refusing to allow “what if’s” to sink in and do their damage.


There’s a comforting thread of normalcy that hangs in the air between the moments of not knowing and knowing.


Two weeks following the procedure, the phone rang. The cancer was aggressive, possibly penetrating the nearby muscle. It would be another two-week wait before learning the biopsy results, answering the dreaded question about the lymph nodes.


“If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people.”  – Charles Spurgeon


There’s nothing fun about waiting, especially when it concerns someone you love. But it does give the heart and mind time to meld together, strengthening the muscles that bow to God’s sovereignty.

On October 11th, we learned cancer had not spread to his lymph nodes. Let’s just say my happy dance learned a few more moves and this daughter couldn’t be more thankful. He still has a ways to go with the removal of his bladder scheduled in November but it’s the first major step toward healing. (We found out yesterday that his surgery is today!)

In the weeks that have passed since dad’s initial phone call announcing “a little news” I would be lying if I didn’t confess the desire to cling to the comforting thread of normalcy where my only waiting time involves a Keurig.


How lovely is the mundane, the normalcy of our days.

But they are to be treasured, not idolized.


It’s a hard lesson I didn’t even know I needed to learn.



Watch for the final two posts of 2019 coming up Tuesday, November 12th (Tiny House Tuesday) and Tuesday, November 19th.

Tiny House Tuesday will unveil the NEW front door color! (Yep, the chartreuse is gone and I can’t wait for you to see it on the 12th).  If you’re a part of our *tiny* kindred community you’ll find the first snapshot of the new door color in today’s Monthly Letter.

For the 19th, in addition to the post, I’ll share a special download for Christmas, KEEPING CHRISTMAS.

Depending on how things go with dad, I plan to share pictures of a decorated tiny house in December, and if you’re a subscriber, watch for your personal tour via video!

A lot of exciting things are happening up on the hill. Thank you for your prayers and for simply being here.

You are a blessing.



Image source by Pixabay.

Seeing God in Action on An Ordinary Day

Poetry and PromisesFew things in life compare to seeing God in action on an ordinary day.

Of course, I knew it really wouldn’t be all that ordinary. Two years ago I was invited to lead a writing workshop during a Heartstrings Day Retreat for mothers who have felt the gut wrenching loss of a child. So when they invited me back this year, I knew the blessings that awaited, or so I thought.

Two years ago, a woman walked through the doors of this day retreat feeling uncertain if she’d made the right decision. She didn’t know anyone and the sudden loss of her adult daughter had left her feeling raw and vulnerable. I’d met her once through a mutual friend so I watched out for her and we sat together through the large group meeting and the lunch that followed. She was polite but a bit withdrawn, which was understandable.

Heartstrings Day Retreat

Thank you for sharing this photo, Kathy Elrod.

Soon after the 2014 retreat, this woman was diagnosed with cancer. We stayed in contact over the years so I was especially delighted to hear that she would be returning to this year’s retreat. I arrived first and saved her a seat beside me, like I’d done two years ago. I searched for her in the crowd but had trouble recognizing her due to her massive weight loss. She looked great, and even though she was admittedly tired, there was a joy about her I’d not seen two years ago. During our conversation, she shared how she is now cancer free. {Thank You, Jesus!} I told her I’d saved a seat for her, pointing to the table. She smiled, and said, “I hope you don’t mind, but there’s a women who is here for the first time and she’s sitting beside the place where I put my things. I think she could use someone to talk to.” And there it was⎯God in action.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 (emphasis mine)

Which reminds me of a beautiful poetic promise, found in Psalm 94:17-19:

Unless the LORD had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping.”
Your love, O LORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Heartstrings Day Retreat

Beautiful in every way.

She remembered how it felt two years ago to sit in a chair that felt awkwardly comfortable. Comfortable in that she knew she was surrounded by other women who understood her pain, and yet awkward because she didn’t know anyone. And now, God is using her to comfort someone else in the same way. I could barely fight back the tears as I made my way back to the table, happily removing my “this place is saved for someone” purse, making it available to another woman.

Seeing God at work on an ordinary day makes it anything but ordinary.
In fact, it’s quite extraordinary.


How about you? Can you remember one moment when time stood still as you marveled God at work right before your eyes? Celebrate that moment here by sharing it with us in the comment section. Thank you in advance!

Further Reading: Week 1, When Poetry and Promises Mingle

The beautiful artwork used for my Poetry and Promises graphic is courtesy of Ann Marie Bone. Please visit her Facebook fan page to connect with her and to see more of her amazing work.Thank you so much, Ann.

If you live in Upstate SC and would like to learn more about the Heartstrings Ministry, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to connect you with Jan James and her amazing team. Or perhaps you’re interested in learning how to start your own support group for grieving mothers where you live. Please leave a comment. I know Jan would be happy to share what she’s learned from her experience.

Friday Fave – Encouragement

Chances are, we all know someone who is battling cancer. Do we know how to love and encourage them? Often times, if you’re like me, we feel helpless in knowing how to meet their needs—spiritually, emotionally, and physically. If we’re not careful, we can let that helplessness hinder our opportunities to minister.

I recently experienced this frustration first-hand while trying to prepare a care package for a friend in the midst of the battle. I wanted to include helpful items but came up a little empty in the idea department.

Thanks to Susan Stilwell’s post this morning, we can toss frustration out the door and make way for meaningful ministry. Kim Vander Poel, Susan’s guest blogger, briefly shares her own journey with breast cancer, along with practical tips on how to encourage others through both words and actions.

Click here to read this enlightening post. (Thanks Susan and Kim!) 

Encouragement. It’s a wonderful gift from the Lord. Let’s use it for His glory!

Be sure to check out Kim’s blogs – Hope Lives Now and Kim’s Ponderings Beyond Breast Cancer
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