Roses and Redirection

I hope you are having a wonderful week! On Monday, I planned to attend an evening meeting, but then it was rescheduled for a later date. No worries…God redirected my steps!

Instead of my meeting, on a whim, I invited a good friend over for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other for a couple months and we decided to order Chinese food.

As a sweet gesture, she brought me some flowers. The pink roses really brightened my day as I had been feeling kind of “blah” earlier.

You probably know the feeling. We all have those moments, due to weather, insecurity, fear, or other factors. I wasn’t sure if I was discouraged or perhaps a little discontented. Frustrated or maybe impatient?

I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I prayed about my attitude earlier in the day. I took it to Jesus! Before long, I felt more at peace. I was grateful for the redirection.

Later, my friend’s surprise act of kindness—the roses—actually felt like a personal gift from the Lord. He sees me and knows exactly what I need.

After Lydia went to bed, my friend and I continued our conversation. We had a great discussion and everything she said mimicked how I had felt that day. It was such a good reminder that I am not alone.

It was also good to see that our emotions can take on a similar pattern in each of our hearts—even if for different reasons. As we talked, we laughed and encouraged each other. We were both blessed that evening and had such a good visit!

Sometimes, our emotions can get the best of us. But it’s our job to keep them in check. As Lysa TerKeurst says, “Emotions are indicators, not dictators.” So, while it’s okay to pay attention to our feelings, we don’t need to let them have the final say.

This week, I am grateful for how the Lord directs (and redirects) my steps. I’m also glad that with Him, we always have hope. We don’t have to be discouraged…or discontented…or impatient…or _________ by what is going on around us.

What we see is only part of the story. If we are fear-based, we will always miss out on what God is doing. But, if we live by faith, we can rest, trusting that He has all the details under His sovereign care.

By faith, we can tap into all God has for us. He forgives our past and gives us grace for today. We also have hope for our future and strength to stand. Thank You, Jesus!

Often, life is not fair. But really, grace isn’t fair either. By definition, grace is ‘undeserved favor.’ Grace is extended to us because of who God is…not because of what we do.

We are loved because He loved us first.

So, let’s not worry or be afraid. We can trust Him to take care of all that concerns us. In His timing, the Lord will provide everything we need. Roses or redirection…it’s all good!


Sovereign God, You are so generous and kind! Thanks for Your grace, roses, and redirection. Please help me trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you had some ‘holy redirection’ in your life lately?

Tasks: When you notice your emotions getting the best of you, stop and pray. Give it to Jesus. Let Him carry your burden instead!

A Cop-Out or A Call-Out

You’ve probably heard the following adage: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I’ve also heard our past can make us bitter or better. So, it seems to me that there are two ways to look at all of our past trials and how they prepare us for the future.

I can choose between fear and faith.

Regarding cancer and Dave’s death…

Fear could say something like: “Well, that was terrible! How many more awful things am I going to have to endure? What’s coming next? Woe is me!” As you might guess, it could quickly turn into a downward spiral…

Thankfully, I kicked fear to the curb long ago.

Instead, I choose to see all I’ve gone through with eyes of faith.

Faith says, “Wow, that was rough! But look how God brought me through! I’m still standing! God won’t waste my pain… I can’t wait to see how He uses this for His glory and my good!”

Fear points out all the problems in my life—the cannots, the impossibilities. Fear rejects outside help, reinforcing that I am all alone in my struggle.

Faith points me to Jesus—with whom nothing is impossible. Faith accepts His power and grace—with Him, I can do all things!

Fear keeps me from moving forward, saying “maybe later.” Fear hinders growth.

Faith unlocks courage, never-ending potential, and adventure. As I pursue new possibilities, I am empowered. The joy of the Lord is my strength!

Fear reminds me of everything I am not. Faith repeats what God says, who I am in Christ.

Fear is crippling, but faith makes me hold my head high with confidence—not in my abilities, but in His.

Fear is often rose-colored glasses, remembering what was. Faith acknowledges the pain and grief, yet clings to Jesus for what can and will be.

Fear can be a cop-out and brings condemnation. Faith calls me out and requires grit.

Fear gives up easily, due to exhaustion and worry. Fear never sees a reward or goodness.

Faith takes endurance, yet yields expectation and wonder. Faith pays off in the end.

Fear is subtle. I never realized its hold on me—until all my worst fears came true.

Fear is not from God. Yet, He used those terrible experiences to teach me that I don’t have to choose fear. Jesus set me free with His unfailing love and grace!

My Victory did not come easy. It was a tough lesson to learn. Indeed, I have suffered major losses with long-term impact. I’m grateful nonetheless.

“See, God has come to save me.
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
The Lord God is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.” (Isaiah 12:2)


Heavenly Father, thank You for the Victory we have in Jesus! Thank You that we don’t have to live in fear. Forgive us for our unbelief and help us walk in faith. Help us trust you for good things ahead! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Which do you tend to choose most often: Fear or faith? Are there some changes you need to make?

Tasks: Don’t be afraid! Our past challenges and present circumstances do not disqualify us from a good future. Jesus makes all things new! He forgives us and gives us new opportunities. Choose faith!

Note to Self: Don’t Fake Brave

What surprises me the most about grief is both the depth of the wound and the healing it requires. Thankfully, I gave the Lord control of that long ago. His ways and thoughts are much higher than mine; I trust Him to teach me and take care of me.

On Monday morning, I called my writing coach to discuss a special project. Part of his job is to point out growth areas and things to work on. I trust his professional input!

During his critique, my writing coach mentioned, “You must’ve been in a hurry to finish this piece. It reads like you were trying to be brave.” I had unintentionally chosen a safe route, glossing over some details which might provide more meaning and context.

As we talked, he said, “You have your public life and try to be brave, but on paper you don’t need to be brave. This is where you show how you are really doing.”

Wow, I thought and tearfully scribbled a quick note to myself: Don’t fake brave.

Grammar aside, my coach pointed out a common problem. We often put on a smile to face the world and hope people don’t see our struggles. We try the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach. That might work short-term, but long-term, we don’t have to be superheroes.

In real life, just surviving a traumatic event is a Victory. You don’t have to thrive in order for it to count. Whether you run, walk, or crawl through the muck, it’s a win as long as you keep going. Don’t give up!

Also, we don’t need to compare our struggles to someone else’s successes. What I consider a Victory may differ from someone else. Bravery looks different for each of us. That’s okay!

For example, on Monday, bravery looked like tossing an old, holey shirt, even though it was a treasured gift from Dave. Even small wins are good!

Monday evening felt like a Victory, too. My entry way lights have been flickering for quite some time, and I finally got around to asking for help. There were several minor issues to address, but everything turned out better than expected.

I’ll have to buy a new light fixture, but that’s not too bad. At the same time, it was bittersweet because if Dave was here, he would have taken care of the lights on his own.

Ironically, the electricians were impressed with the breaker switches in the fuse box. I explained how Dave had labeled each one. Silently, I remembered how thoughtful he was. I felt the loss.

While the electricians were super friendly, I tried to hold my emotions together. I didn’t want to overshare with strangers! Yet when I did explained my situation, they offered to help install the new light. It was a blessing to be brave!

Yes, Monday was a great reminder of the Lord’s grace. He helped me navigate through each situation in ways that moved my heart and brought healing. Praise God!

All of us practice bravery every day in big and small ways! 

My point is: With Jesus, we don’t have to fake it. He knows our pain, weaknesses, fears and failures. Yet, He eagerly carries our burdens and never leaves us on our own. Lay down your defenses and come to Him just as you are.

With His abundant grace, the Lord provides more than we need to get through life’s troubles. As we seek Him, He comforts us with his strength and joy. He makes our path straight and smooth. That doesn’t mean life is easy…but it is better with Jesus.

Sometimes being brave is not fun or glamorous. For me, it can mean difficult decisions and occasional tears. But, instead of focusing on life’s trials, I celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness. I can be brave (for real) because His love never fails!


Heavenly Father, You are so good. Thank You for carrying our burdens and giving us joy. God, give us the courage to come to You and be brave. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: In what ways do you fake being brave? Do you think that is helpful or a hindrance to healing?

Tasks: Don’t fake brave. 🙂 Let Jesus shoulder your burden. Journal through your grief or other challenges. Share your heart with a trusted friend.

All I Can Do

Lately, I have had the honor of praying for a variety of people. These prayer requests include everything from relationship issues, health problems, job uncertainty, financial strain, parenting difficulties, big decisions, relief from natural disasters, and more.

I’m glad to pray for others and share their burdens in practical ways. But as I consider these needs, along with my own, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. On my own, I am totally inadequate to handle them all. Thank God for Jesus!

I don’t need fancy words or impressive deeds for Jesus to answer my prayers. He eagerly waits to hear from each of us because He loves us so much!

When life is just too much to handle on my own, I need Jesus.
The converse is also true: When life is going well, I need Jesus.

 Sometimes, all I can do is draw close to Jesus. Anytime I need help, I can lean on the Lord, my Rock. He is my strong tower so I run to Him. When I don’t know what else to do…sometimes, that’s all I can do.

When I fall, I know He will catch me. When I humbly surrender everything to Jesus, He lifts be back up–better than before. The good news is that Jesus readily offers His grace and truth, strength and joy, mercy and forgiveness. He is so good!

Whatever I am facing—bad or good—I can bring it to Jesus. When I leave the issue in His hands, I can rest and pray, listen and obey.  He is mighty to save.

I can choose to trust God over my feelings. I can choose joy and gratitude over fear and self-doubt. I can choose to stand in Victory instead of living defeated. He is the Wonderful Counselor and the Prince of Peace!

I can choose to forgive myself and others, leaving the past where it belongs. With God’s abundant grace, I can move forward in faith. He is more than enough for me.

Yes, I can cling to Jesus, knowing He will never leave me on my own. I can also ask for wisdom, clarity, and courage. Really, that’s the least I can do.

Praise God, I don’t have to beg or grovel for help. Jesus is right here with me! He longs to do for me what I cannot do for myself. But, I do have to choose to let Him help me.

Yes, the Lord is my refuge, my strength, my righteousness, and my defense.
I wholeheartedly trust in His unfailing love. Indeed, that’s the best thing I can do!

Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing us when we pray. With you, nothing is impossible. Help us listen and obey as You work through us. You are so good, Lord. Refresh us with Your sweet grace and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Are you trying to meet your own needs or are you asking the Lord for help?

Tasks: Meditate on Psalm 59:17.

Rainy Days Won’t Last Forever

Recently, Lydia found a show on Netflix that I can only describe as an animated reality show, filled with bad humor, clichés, and blonde jokes. Not quite my cup of tea, but Lydia liked it! It’s called “Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse.” Yes, you read that right! 😉

On Monday, I was cooking dinner and half-listening to the show to determine if/when it should be turned off. It was rather cheesy, but I decided wait and see… From what I can tell, the episode was about a camping trip gone awry, thanks to the rain.

It’s been rather dry here lately, but I know others have been dealing with flooding. So perhaps I was just more aware… when to my surprise, one of the characters actually had a good point: Rainy days won’t last forever.

The show went on from there, with Barbie and her friends going with Plan B. Even so, as I stood in the kitchen, I gained a deeper perspective. It’s not a new concept, really, but quite often rainy days do parallel grief!

When rainy days come, we find indoor activities. We might read, color, play board games, watch movies, do puzzles, cook, or clean. Grief also tends to separate us from the outside world. It can affect our schedule and even our motivation. But find joy. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Yes, on rainy days, we might be limited in what we can do. But some people are not hindered by the rain. They are the ones stomping and splashing in the puddles! The grief process is a series of emotional challenges and victories. Each stage may look different from one person to the next. Disappointment may settle in. But take comfort and push forward. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Rainy days are valuable. Rain, of course, renews the earth and is just as important as sun to make plants grow. Each has a special role. Grief also has value, though most people would prefer to rush through it. But if we allow grief to run its course, we will be changed for the better. We somehow grow stronger and learn to appreciate what is good around us. Yes, find the good. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Just like there is no real substitute for a good rain storm, there is no quick solution for grief. We cannot bypass the rain, and we cannot bypass grief. Sometimes, it feels unbearable, like the gale of emotions will never end. But hold on. Rainy days won’t last forever.

When it rains, the atmosphere changes. The temperature often decreases as a front moves in. Darkness comes and everything looks different. Grief sure can change the horizon too. Nothing looks the same as before when everything was sunny and well. Yet, we don’t need to feel disoriented for long. Stay grounded. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Rain can bring fear and anxiety for some people, especially when accompanied by thunder and lightning. Grief, too, can bring a wide variety of emotions. Jesus is King of both kinds of storms. Let His love displace fear and anxiety. He loves you. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Rain showers can appear out of nowhere. Grief also can catch us by surprise. I do not consider myself in the midst of active grief these days. Thank God! But, on certain occasions, I still deal with it. Cling to the Lord. Rainy days won’t last forever.

It may be raining at my house, but not yours, even if we live close. I’m always amazed that even within a neighborhood or small community, the rain totals can vary. Grief is also like that. Each person’s experience is different. What triggers one person to grieve may be a non-issue for someone else. Be gracious. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Similarly, it can rain while the sun is still shining. It is interesting to watch, and often, we might see a rainbow in the mix. If we can also see the silver lining even in moments of grief, loss, or doubt, we will find a blessing. Praise God! Rainy days won’t last forever!

I doubt we will keep watching ‘Barbie shows’ much longer. Ahem. But, we can find God’s grace in the least likely places. Barbie, rain storms, and even grief.

Life is beautiful. God is good. Thank You, Jesus.

God, thanks for being with us in the good and bad, whether it is sunny or rainy. Thank You for giving us Your strength and for leading us to Victory. May we trust You to help us walk with grace, even when it is difficult. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you like rainy days? Do you have special activities for when you have to stay inside?

Tasks: Journal about how rainy days affect you. Reach out to help someone who could use some support….due to grief or other reasons.

Tender and Teachable

Lately, I have had several unexpected teaching moments with Lydia.

As a parent, the best teaching moments happen when I see something valuable in the present—when I am not rushing off to the next chore or task or event. I’m sure I miss many opportunities, but I am trying to slow down and take notice regularly.

One recent teachable moment happened on Saturday. For years, I have sponsored children in India through Compassion International. Unfortunately, due to Indian governmental restrictions and regulations, my sponsorship there ends today, which is heartbreaking.

Nonetheless, I prayerfully decided to keep my sponsorship active elsewhere. This time, however, I wanted to involve Lydia. On Saturday, I did a little research and presented options to her. Through the course of our brief discussion, we picked a little girl in Indonesia that shares Lydia’s exact birthdate. We chose another little girl in Ecuador whose birthday was that Saturday—the same day we were discussing sponsorship.

Lydia was really excited to learn these girls in other countries like to draw, color, and sing—just like her. Soon, my eyes started to tear up. It was already a teachable moment, but I was happy to see Lydia’s face light up with joy. We discussed how these kids are similar to her, even though their circumstances are very different.

We talked about giving and helping others in need. While I don’t have huge expectations, I will make sure Lydia has a more active role than she did before. She may write a short note as she learns her letters or draw a picture.

I pray her heart is always tender and teachable.

Then yesterday, Lydia had a cool experience all her own. Recently, she asked me if she could take a picture of her daddy to school. I checked with her teacher beforehand, and Lydia was graciously given the opportunity to share two pictures of Dave during Bible time. At home, I helped her rehearse what to say, but she had already made up her mind! I wrote down a few points for her teacher’s reference, just in case.

I have done my best to teach Lydia about Dave since she was so little when he died. I also have tried to guide her on the appropriate time to share. (I don’t want other children to worry about their parents getting sick.) Still, it is part of her story and I want her to be comfortable with it. I wasn’t there to listen yesterday, but I was so proud of her courage.

Her confidence amazed me! It reminded me that God knows what He is doing… I don’t have to worry about her! I’m also so thankful for her teacher’s understanding.

I find the Lord also gives me teachable moments when I am in His presence. Sometimes I need to just slow down enough to pay attention. In this fast-paced, high pressure world, it’s more important than ever to stay present with Jesus. There’s joy in sitting at the feet of the Master and Teacher.

Jesus shows me His heart and gives me grace when mine doesn’t measure up. He gives me wisdom and guidance when making decisions for my family. He helps me see important needs and provides the means to share with others. As I put my trust in Him, He teaches me I don’t have to worry or be afraid. Praise God!


Heavenly Father, thanks for teachable moments. Thank You for the joy of Your Presence. Please give me a tender and teachable heart. Help me look for ways to encourage and bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you had any teachable moments lately?

Tasks: Write down any lessons learned. Pray about how what you have learned and how that could help encourage or teach someone else.

Turning Trials into Triumph

Happy September! We had a great first day of preschool on Tuesday! Of course, Lydia did awesome. I kept it together (mostly) and tried to enjoy the change of pace as well!

First Day of Preschool 2016

Though, on Monday, Lydia played with several friends in the neighborhood. One last hurrah! Thankfully, Lydia was out of earshot when a little girl asked me:

Where’s her father?

Surprised at the question, I explained that he had been sick and is now in heaven. The little girl nodded her head with genuine concern and said, “Oh… that happened to my dog, too!” And then she went back to playing with the other kids.

What a perceptive little girl! She must’ve known all the other dads were at work. While I didn’t expect her question, I was glad she had the courage to ask. Her cute little response made me smile!

Then, on Monday night, Lydia and I talked about preschool as we ate dinner. I told Lydia how proud of her Dave would be. I also reminded her of what she could say if someone asks about him. It doesn’t happen often, but I want her to be comfortable and prepared.

After we laid out Lydia’s new outfit, a sparkly green dress, I painted her nails to match. Then, we read The Night Before Preschool and said our prayers. Lydia was asleep in no time. She was ready


ME, on the other hand?Let’s just say I needed some time with Jesus!

There wasn’t anything really ‘wrong.’ I was excited for Lydia!

But emotions welled up as I reflected on how far we’ve come—and my conversation with our new little friend. The actual words hadn’t bothered me; it was an honest question. But I was upset that we had to have the conversation. A subtle difference, sure!

I couldve wallowed there for quite some time. Ahem. But I didn’t. I took it to Jesus, because I know He loves me so much. And praise God, He helped me turn it around!

I gave Him my sadness and concerns. I chose to praise the Lord with thankfulness instead. Then, slowly my heart grew glad as He reminded me that He will go with Lydia.

And, yes, He’s got this!

Psalm 145_13

Now I’m taking a *wild* guess here, but I bet you are facing some changes or challenges of your own. Maybe it’s a really good transition you have been praying about, like a new job or school. Or, perhaps there are heavy burdens on your heart—things you didn’t see coming. An unexpected circumstance popped up and you don’t know what to do. Maybe you have been dealing with the same difficulties for awhile with no relief in sight.

Don’t worry. God’s got this!

At the beginning of the school year, teachers often conduct a basic review to assess what  students have already learned. It can also be helpful for us to review all the trials God has brought us through. When we see our circumstances in the light of His goodness, we can see He has a plan. And, we can trust Him more going forward.

The Lord excels at turning trials into triumph!

(To be clear, I don’t look at how far I have brought myself, for that is not worth much.)

It’s the Lord who has carried me all these years. He is my Shepherd!

When I don’t know what to do, He is my Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace.

His Presence is always with me, and He will never leave me to fend for myself.

When I am afraid, He is Protector, my Shield, my Refuge, and my Defense.

He loves me with an everlasting love. (Which is A LOT!!)

I know God has good plans—filled with hope—for my future.

He always keeps His promises; He is faithful to complete every good work He starts.

Yes, it’s safe to say Lydia’s in good hands this year. Besides having wonderful, caring teachers, God’s got her covered. Of course He does…He loves her even more than I do!

And if you let Him, God will take good care of you too!


Heavenly Father, thanks for all the ways You care for us. Help us make the most of these new opportunities. Help us grow in grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What changes or challenges are you facing? Do you believe God can handle it?

A Note to My 29 Year-Old Self

This week I am celebrating! Not only is it my birthday week, it’s also the one year mark of making my blog public. Can you believe it?! I feel it is still a work in progress, but I am so grateful for you all. Thanks for sticking with me! 🙂

birthday candles

Dave often celebrated my birthday week. That’s because one year, he forgot the exact date and decided to give me gifts every day! He was pretty smooth like that.

These days, celebrating my birthday, like many other things, is different without him.

Typically, I’ll eat lunch with a friend, talk with lots of friends and family, and get a massage. This year, I am also taking Lydia to a local (minor league) baseball game. She’s been asking to go all summer, and the fireworks at the end might be a special perk!

Around my birthday, I like to look back on the last year and set some goals for the next. For whatever reason, this week I also considered all that has happened since moving to Fargo six years ago this month. It’s bittersweet.

Grace mug_Eph 2-8

I have noticed many major life events have occurred since my 29th birthday. In short:

I was twenty-nine when Lydia was born. While Dave and I were thrilled to be parents, the sleeplessness threw us for a loop! Five months later, we were just starting to sleep well when Dave was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. After 364 days of fighting cancer with Dave, I became a widow and single mom at the age of thirty.

Hence, the last few years have been a continual adjustment (and readjustment). So much has changed. But far be it from me to complain!

chocolate cupcake

Have you ever wished you could tell your former self how something works out? Hindsight brings clarity! I can’t explain it all in a simple blog post, but God has been so good to us.

Someday I’ll have all the words… but not today. So for now, with much gratitude, here’s a note I wrote to my 29 year-old self!

Hello, dear Self,

I know you cannot comprehend all that the next few years entail. You can’t possibly fathom the pain and struggles that lie ahead. But God does—and He’s got this.

You don’t realize this now, but fear has been a constant presence lurking in the back of your mind. It limits your decisions at times.

Yet God knows this—and He’s going to free you from all your fears. What’s more, as He destroys old mindsets, you will learn to walk in Victory. The whole process will certainly be scary, but He will lead you through. Trust Him!

Sometimes, this journey will make you question everything you believe about God. But He is big enough to handle your doubts and fears, your anger and resentment.

He’s got this.

There will be moments you can barely breathe. You won’t know how you’re going to make it. When you think you cannot take anymore, you’re right. But take it to Jesus. He is your hope and firm anchor. Let Him carry the burden for you. He cares for you deeply and knows exactly what you need.

When you feel like giving up or running away, stand firm. The battle belongs to the Lord. He is your shield, your protector, and your defense. He’s got you covered!

When everything falls apart, you will see God holding together what remains. He is your rock and your salvation! Everything that really matters is secure in Him.

Yes, dear Self, life gets rough up ahead. It can feel quite heavy at times. But don’t worry. God’s got this! In fact, there is much good along the way.

New goals and dreams, new purposes and plans. Long-awaited answers to prayer.

God will use these experiences to show you just how much He loves you. He will prove His love and power are stronger than any difficult thing you will (ever) face.

 And yes, He’s absolutely got this!

It won’t be easy, but in time, you will see the pattern of grace. From this side of it all, it actually IS amazing. When the dust settles, you will be grateful. And despite all odds, you will still wake up with wonder at this life you get to live. What a gift!

What felt like defeat, was really training grounds for a new path. Where there was doubt, trust will deepen. In place of despair, hope will rise. In the midst of pain, you will find peace and beauty. You will flourish!

Praise God—He’s got this!

So do not be afraid, dear Self. You are always loved, never alone. God will not falter. His mercies are new every morning, and His grace is more than enough.

Keep your head held high, because the best is yet to come. God is working all this for good, even when you don’t see how. It will be beyond your wildest imagination!

Seek God’s grace and goodness each day. Rejoice in the Lord’s unfailing love and faithfulness! Most of all, hold on tight to Jesus.

Cling to Him for He is your strength and your life.

And you know what? He’s got this!!


Your 30-something Self


Gracious God, thank You for bringing me through with Victory. I celebrate your loving kindness—You are so good to me! Bless this next year and help me live for you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you ever written yourself a note like this? What words of wisdom would you write?

Before and After

According to Donald Miller, every great story has at least six to eight “story turns” or “life turns.” Generally, the plot is built around story turns. These are pivotal moments in the story because once a character goes through that ‘door,’ they can never turn back. These moments change the character and life will never be the same again.

Story turns can be good, like getting married, having a baby, or landing a dream job. (The positive stress that comes with those is called eustress.) Somehow though, moments of distress seem to be the most memorable. Is that because we tend to focus on the negativity, or because they actually have the most potential to bring change?

time for change

I don’t always appreciate change. I like my comfort zone! Often, change isn’t comfortable, but it is good and necessary long-term. Change makes life interesting!

Two of my biggest story turns felt like a one-two punch: Dave’s cancer diagnosis followed by his death 364 days later. I had to learn to walk a new path. Things feel better (most days), but that’s largely because God has carried us as we have adjusted to our new normal. It still feels crazy sometimes, but God keeps reminding me to rest.

Dave and I learned so much when he was sick. But after Dave died, God brought me to a whole new level of grace. Grace for myself. I simply could not keep up with everything on my should-do list. So, I had to relax my standards…and then relax them again.

I knew if I was going to get through the grief process, I was going to need God’s help. Grief is a process. Change is a process. It hasn’t been easy, but in His strength, I’ve been able to accomplish what He has for me to do (Philippians 4:13). Jesus said He would never leave me, and I have chosen to trust Him to show me the way. I’ve relied on His power, and He has given me His peace (John 14:27).

Colossians 3_15

As a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, I often see “before and after” client photos or food journals. It is gratifying to see the differences after even a few changes are made. Many of them are difficult to implement, but carry life-changing potential.

So, here are some of my “before and after” snapshots (figuratively speaking):

Before, I tried to plan my way to a perfect outcome (or life). Now, I keep planning in perspective. My new motto in many areas is, “Close enough is good enough.” (It doesn’t apply to everything, but it’s a really good ‘get out of jail free’ card most days!)

Before, fear was closely linked to my perfectionist tendency to plan for all contingencies. I often had a nagging feeling that something could go wrong. Now, I praise God fear is no longer a stronghold in my life. I have learned to let things go… In fact, I rarely have any fear at all. And when I do, I catch it right away and deal with it.

Before, I worried about decisions, trying to figure out all the details in advance. I still believe planning is wise, but I don’t over-plan due to fear and worry. Now, I wait to make a decision until I have peace about it. Of course, that doesn’t mean I know all the information beforehand. But, I’m okay with that now. I don’t have to have ALL the answers to walk by FAITH. I know God will come through for me, so I wait for His peace.

May 15th 2016_Three years

Before, I would do everything I could to avoid confrontation. (I was also more of a people-pleaser!) I respectfully address and resolve conflict much quicker now, not letting simple issues drag on. Perhaps I have a shorter fuse now. One thing I do know is that Life is too short to get worked up about petty issues!

Before, I was always busy but didn’t feel like I made much progress in any area. After Dave died, God streamlined my focus. So now, I am doing less random activity, but having much more impact in areas that are important to me. I have felt much more fruitful and productive these last few years.

How about you? What are your biggest “before and after” moments?


God, You are good! Thank You for writing our stories with Your love and grace. Thanks for being with us on the journey. Draw us near to You, in Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: As you look back on significant “life turns,” can you see how God shown His faithfulness to you? How has your life been changed as a result?

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?