Because He Is Good

With the flip of the calendar, here we are in May! I love spring in general, but it is a little bittersweet as we near the third year mark of my late husband’s death. Over the last couple weeks, I have been praying about this upcoming anniversary.

Once again, the Lord has come through for me in ways only He can. I had coffee with a friend who reaffirmed me on a day I was feeling down. I also ran into several friends at church, and each time, God used them to lift me up with encouragement. In all these instances, I didn’t mention I was sad. But it was reassuring to see how God met my need. He is so good to me!


Dave was thirty-four when he died, which is far too young. He was diagnosed after an emergency surgery in May 2012. He died 364 days later. It was a wild and chaotic year, but God was ever-faithful.

This spring, I am a little sad, yes.

But mostly, I am still so proud of Dave after all these years. I admire how he handled his cancer with grace and courage. I’m grateful he did not give up.

Some people may think that God let me down because Dave died. Yet, I do not feel that way. In fact, I saw God do so much more than we could ever dream. He answered big, audacious prayers and small, silent ones. It was an awful situation, no doubt. But, God was so kind and generous.

Already Stage IV, Dave’s prognosis wasn’t great at the start, but God gave us those 364 days anyway. Some people get longer, but we relished every moment we had together. I’m thankful Dave didn’t have to suffer any longer than that because it got to be pretty intense those final weeks…

Psalm 46_1

What’s more, I’m so grateful for all God taught us that year. Dave had a servant’s heart like no other, but realized he couldn’t out-give God. He learned to rest in Jesus’ sacrifice because we can’t earn God’s grace.

For me, perhaps the lessons felt much more dramatic. Emotional roller coaster is an understatement. Our cancer journey brought out some of my worst traits. And trust me, I could be a bear at times! But, God’s grace and mercy were more than enough even then.

God provided wonderful friends who helped us, often with little advanced notice. He provided extra comfort for the worst days and gave us many joys along the way. As Dave himself said, it was a “phenomenal year.”

God used these extreme circumstances to prove that He is bigger than my fears. Every. Single. One. That alone was one of the biggest breakthroughs in my life.

He set me free indeed! What grace!

Can you believe these last three years have been some of the most fruitful years of my life? It’s not been easy, though God is redeeming my pain. He has rebuilt my life from the ashes. And because He is good, I am still standing!1 Corinthians 15_57I don’t know what you are dealing with today. Maybe everything is peachy keen. But, likely it’s not. If you are struggling with something, take it to Jesus. Let Him be your refuge and strength, your righteousness and your defense—He understands exactly what you need.

You simply cannot figure out every detail and outcome of your life. Believe me, I know! But if you place your trust in Jesus alone, He will lead you through it all. Let Him be your peace. He will bring you to Victory!

God loves you and is for you! Yes, life is hard. It doesn’t always turn out like we want. But God can handle everything that concerns you. And ultimately, if your hope is in Him, you will not be disappointed!

I know that full well.


God, great is Your faithfulness! Thank You for being a trustworthy refuge. When we are afraid, may we place our hope in You. We overcome and have Victory, in Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How has God come through for you lately? How can I pray for you?

Rejoice! God Is with Us!

I previously mentioned this holiday season took me by surprise with the amount of grief I have experienced. I didn’t expect to sail through the holidays, of course. But it’s been more intense and has lasted longer than I expected.

Really, it has been a few months—from Halloween, Lydia’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Dave’s birthday last week, Christmas, to our wedding anniversary coming up in early January. However, God has been faithfully reminding me of His love.

With each year that goes by, Lydia is older, understands more, and asks more questions— especially about Dave and God. In fact, she is talking about Dave nearly every day now.

I’ve heard it is generally wise to explain things to a child at his or her level of understanding. Two years ago, for our first holiday season without Dave, Lydia adored babies. They were her point of reference for everything in her little world. Lydia was very interested in Baby Jesus which helped guide our Christmas conversation.

As she asks me more specific questions about Dave, I point her to Jesus. If Lydia knows who Jesus is and that He is GOOD, she’ll understand that Dave/Daddy is safe with Jesus.

It helps me to reflect on that too.


In explaining the Christmas story to Lydia, I’ve been able to see it through a fresh lens. It is so simple. The word “gospel” means good news… and I can’t think of ANY better news than this! “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

While Christmas is still difficult for us without Dave, we celebrate Jesus! Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Praise the King of Kings!!

O come, O come Emmanuel!
(third verse)

“O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Jesus makes all the difference.

Knowing Jesus means that someday I will see Dave and other loved ones again. Because of Jesus, Lydia will get to meet her Daddy again. He gives us Victory over the grave…and grief.

Over these last few years, God challenged and conquered all my fears. I don’t have to be afraid because He is with me. In Christ I live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28). With Him, I don’t have to do Life alone. I can have His love, joy, and peace today!

Whatever you are dealing with, take heart. With Jesus, there is HOPE. He brings good news to the poor, comforts the brokenhearted, and sets the captives free. He gives us favor with God (see Isaiah 61:1-3). He offers new life and purpose. Jesus changes everything.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!


Thank You, God, for loving us so much. Thanks for Your grace and favor. Help us walk in the freedom You have given us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

On Rivendell and Rest

Before Dave and I got married, I had a little list of things I wanted to do. It sounds funny now, but watching the Lord of the Rings series one more time was on my list! I love the epic story line between good and evil. I love the beautiful scenery too! And of course, the hero wins.

When Dave died 5+ years later, God took my mind back to Rivendell. At the end of the story, Frodo goes there to recover after his arduous adventure. In the movie, Rivendell is a gorgeous citadel nestled in the mountains. It’s characterized by towering waterfalls, beautiful light and even soft music. There’s a sense that everything is going to be okay…

After our own trip through what felt like Hell, God used the imagery of Rivendell to teach me about His peace, provision, and rest. The contrast was striking.

I am somewhat task-oriented; I thrive on to-do lists, sticky notes, plans and goals! Right away, I felt overwhelmed by extra responsibilities, which Dave would’ve done otherwise. I felt like it was “all on me” to keep the house in working order, pay the bills, discipline and take care of Lydia—not to mention working, preparing food, and trying to sleep.
Even in my grief, I knew could not do it all.

Then, in the midst of turmoil, God’s peace filled my heart. It was a supernatural calm, one I cannot adequately describe. Rivendell doesn’t do it justice!

In my mind’s eye, God gave me a similar sense of rest and tranquility, safety and security. It was extremely comforting. I didn’t need a game plan; I just needed to recuperate.

I knew, eventually, my heart would heal enough to take on other things. But in the meanwhile, I let God do the heavy stuff. True to His Word, He gave me “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Peaceful waterfalls

Slowly, God’s grace started to change—and heal—my heart. It was as if He told me just to rest, and in His time, He would see to it that everything was accomplished. And then, God’s generous grace for me allowed me to give myself grace.

I felt like God literally moved my personality default to a more laid back disposition. I realized I didn’t have to do everything, but only the most important things. I reorganized a few systems, like responding to mail and paying bills. I asked for help when needed. God also provided friends to help with outside housework, like mowing the lawn.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

As I clung to the Lord for support—minute by minute at times—I relaxed my standards and let some things go. I decided “close enough is good enough” for many tasks. At the time, I just needed to focus on Lydia and grieving well.

I may always be a checklist person! But now, I focus on what is most important—that is, joining God in the work He has for me. No more, no less. I am glad we can live in freedom and rest, knowing God is in control!

Because of His gracious love, we can live in peace and receive His provision.

God takes it personally upon Himself to help us. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can walk in grace, peace and Victory. Thank You, Jesus!

Questions: Can you think of any epic story lines or movies that have paralleled your journey? What have you learned?

What is God asking you to let Him handle, so you can walk in Victory?


Tomatoes and Better Days Ahead

I love fresh tomatoes—they are one of my favorite foods of summer. My dad and I are the only ones in our family who will eat them. So, my mom always grows them just for us. There is nothing better than vine-ripened tomatoes in the heat of an Illinois summer. Delicious! I pluck them right off the vine, and into my mouth they go. There is little chance that they’ll even make it inside. Sorry, Dad!

Here in North Dakota, I cannot seem to grow tomatoes successfully! It could be due to the shorter growing season or having less humidity… I might get a few tomatoes, but not nearly enough for my tastes.

Check out my poor tomato plant (pictured below). Knowing I enjoy tomatoes, my mom planted it for me the summer that Dave died (2013). As you can see it didn’t fare well!

I could have forgotten to water it in my grief…or maybe it was the mighty wind that knocked it over half a dozen times.

2013 Tomato Plant

I don’t know what is worse—its pathetic, withered look or the need to prop it up against my deck railing! Day after day, I would walk by it in a daze. I often failed to water it.

In some ways, it represented my life quite well at the time. Towards the end of summer, I took a picture of it, as a marker. Dismally, I thought, “I must look like this plant, down and out, a little worse for the wear.” I had no clear plan at the time. (Grief is like that.)

Soon, I noticed there was still fruit. Despite appearances, my poor tomatoes were still hanging on! As I waited on the Lord to renew my vision…even in my grief…I knew He would make something good (Jeremiah 29:11). In a sense this tomato plant brought me tremendous hope during those dark days.

Have you ever felt Life looked a little bleak? Has your hope withered as Life pressed in?

I’m so sorry. Like this tomato plant, we all experience rough times. Circumstances can change in an instant. I know. We get knocked down for many reasons. Whatever your loss or pain, will you let God handle it? He will make a glorious masterpiece, if you will let Him.

Lamentations 3:24 says, “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” If you feel like a beaten up, wind-tossed tomato plant, there is hope!

Have confidence in God’s timing and goodness (see Psalm 27:13).

He loves you very much.

Father God, thank You for bringing me through, and giving me new direction. Your wonderful plan includes hope for today and a great future. The best is yet to come! Thank You for sustaining us with Your grace and power.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.