God uses hard seasons… even staying home.


I am proof that God uses hard seasons to get our attention. Life is going great, you have everything figured out, and then, out of nowhere, boom. The unexpected happens. The life you thought you had figured out falls apart.

For Ian and me, our first hard thing was in 2004 when my dear mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer. We’d never faced anything like it. We felt helpless and out of control. We reached out to God.

After that, as a young teacher I was assigned to a classroom of challenging students that left me in tears each night. I’d had no say in the matter, and I dreaded going to work every morning. The situation was uncomfortable and unfair, but there was nothing I could do. Again, I looked to God for strength.

Years later we had a miscarriage.  This was the most trying situation we’d faced yet. I was so sad I didn’t want to get out of bed some days. People around me didn’t understand. God did. He helped me as He had those times before.

The truly unimaginable happened in 2012. Ian was in septic shock and not expected to survive.  For the first time in our marriage, I had to face the possibility of life without Ian.  Then I remembered. I remembered how God had comforted me all those times. I recalled how He faithfully cared for us and saw us through when we faced each difficult thing before. Once again, I found myself on my knees begging Him for strength… for hope… for Ian’s life. My God heard me, and He answered.

Yet another time, more recently, my dear father’s health began to suffer. I witnessed his decline and death with no power to do anything to help him. But I knew who could. I prayed to God that He would bring mercy and healing to my dad. When He didn’t answer in the way I hoped, I asked Him to bring peace and comfort to my heart. He has.

I never saw yet another difficult situation. Due to misunderstandings and lack of communication, friendships I held dear in my life were lost. My heart broke into a million little pieces. My God held me as I wept, and in time He began carefully bringing those pieces back together. I’m grateful God is close to the broken-hearted, especially when that has been me.

In each of these situations I shared, God turned my eyes to Himself. I have no control over the hard seasons of life, but He reminds me that He does. Could it be that, once again as He has many times in my life before, God is using this season of COVID uncertainty and discomfort to get my attention? To draw me nearer to Him? Can this disruption of life, season of unrest, push me into something new to actually bear fruit in me?

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

Good can come from this COVID-19 lockdown season. I believe God wants His children to turn to Him now when things are hard for us. Only He can give us the strength when we can’t find it. Between watching riots on TV and juggling Zoom calls for our children’s distance learning, it is He who can comfort us. When we are tired of being at home cooking yet another meal and washing another sinkful of dishes, it is He who can give us strength. God is the only one who can supply what we need and give us hope that we will make it through this hard season. 

The last five months have taught me to continue to seek God on my knees in prayer. I’ve spent hours pouring over the pages of my Bible, copying verses on notecards to keep in places where I can see them and be reminded of His faithfulness. I’m not fearful of what is going on. I trust God completely. I am, however, tired. I am weary. I’ve grown impatient. I can be really, really cranky when I’m frustrated. I’m fully aware of my weaknesses, so I ask God for his strength. I desire for God to supply my daily (sometimes hourly) needs.

How about you? How are you holding up? Are you trying to do God’s job of supplying your needs? Do you need His comfort and strength? Could you find hope in knowing He is in control when we are not? Friends, I encourage you to seek Him. He has always come through for me. Let Him come through for you. 

If I can help you in any way, please reach out! My heart wants to encourage others in the same way God encourages me. I send you a BIG, LONG, HUG, dear friends!


Trying times. Coronavirus.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2Timothy 1:7 NKJV

I am just shocked at what has happened in our country in the last three days. We have gone from living normal everyday lives to uncertainty I’ve never experienced in my forty years of life. Last Thursday I got in a sort of panic over the unknown situation brewing and decided to stock up on food for our family. I thought I might be crazy and overreacting, but decided to do it anyway.

As the days have passed, more and more unbelievable events have transpired. The President declared a national emergency. Stores ran out of hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Travel bans have been implemented. Countries have placed their citizens on lockdown. Schools have shut down. Churches have closed and held services online instead. I’ve never seen anything like this. Even more unbelievable and sad is the number of lives that have been lost already.

No one knows what the future holds.

The culprit is called COVID-19, a coronavirus discovered in China in November. Never before seen, the world has no vaccine for it, and therefore, no plan of action. The virus can live up to two weeks on surfaces and is highly contagious. People can have it and show no symptoms.

We are all waiting to see what happens next.

My advice to everyone would be to stay home if you can. Stay away from others so that you don’t possibly spread the virus to one another. If you have no good reason to go out, then why risk it, right? I’m not acting out of fear, just caution. God did not give us a spirit of fear. He did give us a sound mind and wisdom to use good judgment. I believe staying home and away from others is exercising that wisdom.

One thing I know is for sure. God is still in control of what is happening in our world. He was in control before this virus was discovered and He will continue to be after. None of this is a surprise to Him. During this time of unknowns, I choose to trust the One who has always been and will be in complete control of all things. He is the constant stability in my life. I urge you to put your hope and trust in Him, too.


I have Every Reason to be Mad at God.

My husband, Ian, and I were married right out of college. Nine years later, we were living a picture perfect life. My dream of being a stay-at-home mom came true. Ian was working as a freelance software developer, a job we decided would keep him close during the day. We now had a smart, beautiful girl who had just started kindergarten, an active three year old boy hungry for adventure, and an eleven-month-old bundle of boy joy. Life couldn’t get any better.

I never saw it coming that January day. It happened so fast. What started as a common cold for my husband ended up changing our lives forever.

“Your husband is in multi-organ failure. I’d advise you get your things in order.” The intensive care unit doctor was kind, but dead serious. By the end of the day, his condition had worsened so much that he was in a medically induced coma and breathing only with the help of a ventilator.

Why is this happening, God? What is going to happen to us, to our kids? I don’t understand!

My world came tumbling down. I was in the middle of a terrible nightmare, one I couldn’t wake up from. My thirty-two year old husband was fine yesterday, but today he was dying. How am I going to tell the kids their daddy is gone? I don’t want to be a single mom! My eleven-month-old will have no memory of his father. This is too much!

What happened next can only be attributed to God. For my family’s sake, I accepted the situation we were in and decided to make the best of it. I knew that without God, there was no way I was going to make it through this. God was there and built me up. He helped me search deep inside myself for something I never knew I had, and I found it. I was brave. I was strong. I found courage to press on.

That night in the intensive care unit, everything pointed to Ian’s inevitable death. His vital signs were extremely low. A team of specialists had done all they could for him and there was nothing left to do but wait to see what would happen. As a last desperate plea, I got on my knees, laid my face on the floor outside his room, and prayed aloud.

 God, please save Ian’s life! You can do all things! I’m not ready to be a single mom! I can’t do this alone! I need Your help!

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words… because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” ~Romans 8:26-27

At that moment, a deep sense of peace flooded through me. It was as if a heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders. I had given up. If God wanted this for us, then I had to trust that it must be best. I realized that I was not in control of this situation, or any other for that matter. I had no choice in whether Ian would live or die. I gave it to God.

Our God is so gracious and loving. After nine days of therapies, medication, and prayer, my husband miraculously woke up. God answered our prayers! He survived a condition all doctors had warned me he wouldn’t. I was grateful I’d have a husband to grow old with after all. Our children would have their daddy, too. Witnessing this miracle rekindled my faith in God and the power of prayer.

However, there were consequences I was not ready to deal with when he woke up. The medications that helped save his life had also done irreversible damage. Ian’s hands and feet did not receive adequate blood flow for many days and turned black. I witnessed his hands and feet die. Ultimately, nothing could be done to restore them and all his fingers and both of his feet had to be amputated.

Why, God? Why did this happen? Ian is such a good man. Why did he have to go through this? How is he going to get through life without fingers and feet? What are the kids going to think about their daddy now? What about me? I don’t want to be the wife of a disabled man!

I have every reason to be mad at God. Would you believe that I’m not? In fact, I am grateful! These last five years of my life have molded me into the person I am today. Would you believe that I am a better person today than I was before this happened? I can now see how selfish and proud I was. I am much happier with this new version of myself than I was with the previous negative one. Now my life is full of purpose and true joy.

Have I lived through hardship and struggle? Yes. Was I upset that my husband lost his fingers and feet? Of course. Do I wish this had never happened? No.I’m grateful that God used my weaknesses to show me His strength. My whole life I’d been weak and uncertain of myself. During the time Ian was hospitalized, God made me strong and confident. God gave me the qualities I needed to be my husband’s advocate and biggest fan.

God also led me to the realization that I am not in control. I couldn’t control whether Ian lived or died, and I had to give up control of my children when I was in no position to care for them myself. God showed me being in control was His job, not mine. I began to trust His will wholeheartedly without question. God showed me his faithfulness.

I’m happy to say my family has now reached our new normal. Ian walks with prosthetic legs and has figured out how to live life without his fingers. He is completely independent and back at work. He can even help me with tasks around the house! After this experience, I will never take our boring, uneventful life for granted again!

Our children are amazing. They are eleven, eight, and six years old now, and they’ve adjusted to our new normal very well. They love their daddy so much and don’t see anything different about him. I think this trial has given them a wonderful perspective of life and they are better for it. They have become loving, accepting children who happen to have a tough experience under their belt. For that, I am grateful.

So, you see, I’m not angry at God. He has gifted my family with lessons we can carry for the rest of our lives. We have found joy in life no matter what the circumstance. Romans 8:28 tells us:

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” ~Romans 8:28

God was always at work in our lives. Good came from our trial and we believe His purpose is being fulfilled in us. Many of us have experienced hardship in our own lives. Can we step back and see how God was there all along? Do we believe that there was purpose in our trials? Friends, God is the maker of all things, and He is in control of it all. Learn to trust Him wholeheartedly with your life. He knows best.


This post also appeared on waysidewomen.com.




I’m thirty-six years old as I write this. I trusted the Lord with my life when I was in my sophomore year of high school, and I’ve walked as closely with Him as I could since then. My life is not perfect as many of you know. I’ve experienced many joys, including a happy childhood and family,  a loving marriage which now includes being a parent, and the satisfaction that comes from teaching children. For those blessings, I am truly grateful. I’ve also experienced much hardship. Like many of you, my life has not been without struggle. These experiences have sometimes stretched me to the point of almost breaking. Almost. My Lord and Savior is the one who has kept me from breaking. For that, I am most grateful.

The Lord is nudging me to read the Bible in 2017. In my many years of being a believer in Jesus Christ I have not read the sixty-six books contained in the Bible. I’ve tried in the past and failed for reasons I’m not sure about. Maybe I decided I was too busy to put in the time it requires. Perhaps its words were too convicting so I avoided it altogether. Whatever the reason, that is not important now. The important thing is that I am willing and able to do it now.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about starting this journey. For the last couple of weeks since this thought popped into my head I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night, and all that pops into my head is this idea of reading the entire Bible. How should I divide the reading? Which Bible translation should I read? Should I ask others to join me? Surely if I do this with other people I will finally succeed, right? The biggest question I ask myself is, why do I want to do this? Why do I want to read the Bible in one year?

The reason may surprise you. I want to read the Bible because I want to know God. I desire to know who He is, what He is like, and everything else I can learn. My heart wants to know about Him and my mind wants to understand more. I’ve learned that, although the Bible has short stories sprinkled throughout, the entire Bible is one big story. Every shorter story fits into the big picture. Without knowing all the little stories I feel like I’m missing out on crucial details of this big story.

I realize that this reading will be an overview and that much more study can be done in each book. People can spend months or years studying only one of its sixty-six books. That’s okay with me. Reading the entire Bible will be a good start. I can go back and dig deeper in the future. I pray God, through the Holy Spirit, will teach me whatever I can handle now.

If you are considering joining me on this journey in 2017, let me say this. There has never been a better time to do this. I can’t imagine if you are feeling the nudge the answer would ever be no. If the idea of reading so much in such a short period of time is daunting, join the club. I think so, too. However, don’t forget that God is mighty and He gives us the strength we need to accomplish the tasks He calls us to. There is always benefit to reading the Bible.

To Know God

In the last year I’ve learned that, in order to know God, I must read His Word. I can see Him in all the pages of scripture. In any particular story I ask myself, what does this teach me or tell me about God? What is his character? Why would He do what He does? By reading about His nature and character, I can know Him.

For example, when I read the story of creation in Genesis, I learn that He is mighty. Who else can create everything out of nothing? I learn that He is creative. He thought up the sun and the moon, plants, animals, and made us out of dirt. That’s pretty creative! I also learn that He is a planner, that there is purpose in what He does, and that even He rests! I take that particular story and try to know and understand who God is, but that’s just one story. There are so many more! What can we learn from His nature and character when He protects and guides the Israelites in the wilderness? Or when He gives Moses the commandments to follow? What can learn from the life Jesus lived on earth? He was kind, compassionate, and wise. He loved all people. He performed miracles in the name of his Father. He said that to know Him was to know the Father. In my attempts to know God, I am also learning to know Jesus.

By reading the Bible with your intellectual mind, engaging your heart, you will come to know God.

To Know and Understand What You Believe and Why You Believe It

God communicated with his people through visions and dreams in the past. These days He communicates with us through His written word. The Bible itself says God was its ultimate source. 2Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The Bible is the Word of the living God. It is holy, and above all, true. It is true, all of it. No one can say this part is true and that part is not. It either is or it isn’t.

The Bible is not written so that only a select few can read and understand it. It is written for you and me to read for ourselves. Rather than just believing something someone tells us, we are to challenge it for ourselves. Although sitting in church listening to a sermon can be good, reading yourself can be even better. When you have a question, dig into the Bible for yourself. There’s no arguing when you have the true, Holy Bible in front of you. That is why the most basic belief about the Bible is that it is God’s true Word.

You might say you believe in God. Great! The Bible tells us even the demons believe in him. But, do you know why? Why do you believe what you believe? As you read the pages of scripture I have no doubt the Holy Spirit will reveal things to you. Things will fall into place and make sense. God will show you things meant for you to know.

The most simple reason to read the Bible is to know and understand what you believe and why you believe it. Who knows? Maybe someone will ask you a question about your faith and you’ll actually be prepared with the knowledge to answer it!

To Grow in Your Faith, So You Can Share It

Whether you are a new believer or a seasoned follower of God, you can benefit from reading the Bible. Reading scripture is what we need to do to grow our faith. In Matthew 4:4 the Bible tells us, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Think of your faith as a plant. Reading scripture is the water that helps that plant grow. So whether you consider yourself a little seed or a large oak, there is always room to grow.

As individuals we are always living our lives and learning from our experiences. In my own life I’ve seen changes in my character and maturity through the years. I can’t say I’m the same person I was when I first met God back in high school. My knowledge of God through the Bible has shaped my eternal perspective. Anytime something happens in my life I look at it through a God-focused lens. I ask myself, how would God want me to respond? What does God want me to learn from this? How can I glorify God through this situation? After all, He has given me both joy and hardship. I can’t choose to accept one and not the other.

Have you ever considered that God might use you for His purpose? Someone in your life might need to hear what God has taught you. I’m surprised by how often God has used something in my life to touch others. I never intend for that to happen, but it always makes me smile to know I can have a small part in reaching or helping others because of my experiences.

Ultimately, reading the Bible will help you learn and grow your faith. If reading the Bible in 2017 is not something you feel ready to do, that’s ok. I encourage you to read something out of the Bible each day anyway. Don’t let excuses keep you from studying God’s Word.

If, however, you do want to join me, I urge you to pray. Start preparing your heart and mind for the big commitment you are begin. I am so excited to start, and I’m anxious to reach the other side, with knowledge and understanding of God under my belt. Let’s do our best to encourage one another and accomplish the task at hand. Hold on, it’s going to be an exciting ride!

God answers prayer. Taking Dad home.



The last time I wrote, I begged for your prayers for my dad. I humbly asked that, together, we would knock on heaven’s door and ask God to take my dad home. As I write this, I realize God answered that prayer less than one day later. Less. than. one. day. later.

My mom, sisters, and I spent the last day by his side. I took photos of Dad’s hands with mine. I contemplated taking photos of him and with him, but decided against it. He didn’t look like himself anymore. There was no reason to record that image of him in my mind. He wouldn’t have wanted that. I also didn’t want my children to accidentally stumble upon those images. So, pictures of his hands it was.

We had stayed with him until 2 am. Mom snuck in bed with him for the first time, and I covered her up before we left. My sisters and I drove the ten minutes home and I fell asleep immediately, exhausted from the long day. Then, the phone rang at 5:40am. I didn’t even know whose phone it was. Monica came out of the bedroom and told us we had to go quick. It was time.

Panic set in. All four of us felt the buzz in the air. It was fear, excitement, butterflies in my stomach. I rushed to put on the clothes I had taken off only three hours earlier. They were the first I saw. They would do. Marcela was ready. So was I. The two of us got in my car and drove.

Less than ten minutes later we pulled into the parking lot of Pax Villa Hospice. Mom was sitting on the ground leaning on the building. “How is he? What happened?” I asked.

“He’s gone.” Her face was calm, but her eyes were red. Her hand shook as she held the cigarette to her lips.

I ran in. What I experienced when I walked into his room will forever be etched into my memory. The room was quiet, quite opposite of what it had been for the last nine days. The oxygen machine had been turned off. It seemed brighter in there, too. On the bed lay the still, lifeless body of the man who loved me my whole life. His hands had been placed on his chest. It looked wrong for them to be there because all the days before that they rested by his side. Without thinking, I touched them with my right hand. They were not warm anymore. Tears filled my eyes. I then slid my hand to his side. I felt his chest just under his arms. Still warm. I barely missed it, I thought.

I looked at his face. This, too, looked wrong. This face didn’t belong to my dad. His skin was much too smooth. The color wasn’t right. His jaw was open. I realized then that Marcela was standing next to me. She, for some reason, was trying to close his mouth and it wasn’t working. After many days of being this way, it couldn’t be moved. She found a small washcloth or some other small white towel and, again, tried to force it shut. “No,” I said. “You will break it.” I heard my own voice and realized how frantic I sounded.

Monica and Jessica showed up at some point. Mom came back in, too. Before I knew it, we were all gathered around him, holding hands, and praying. I prayed aloud, thanking God for taking him home. Thanking him for ending his pain. Thanking him for loving him and for the life Dad lived. My sisters prayed, too. Then mom pulled out a small black pouch from under his pillow. One by one, she pulled out beautiful crystal keychains and handed each of us one. I noticed the crystals were shaped like angels. I had noticed the black pouch before. Once when the chaplain had come to pray with us Mom had put the pouch in dad’s hands. I didn’t know the pouch had been under dad’s pillow all along. Mom explained that these little keychains were a gift to us. They had been with dad, in his hands, and blessed by the chaplain while he had prayed. Now we could have a little piece of him. We were all so thankful for the little gift.

Dad didn’t want anyone to see him after he died. He had asked mom and all his daughters to please have him cremated immediately. Thankfully I had made the arrangements for that earlier in the week and we didn’t have to think about that. The staff at hospice called the funeral home and they came. They showed up with a stretcher and went in his room once we were all out. After a few minutes they came out again. The bed obviously had my dad’s body on it, but it was covered with a navy blue blanket. When I saw them wheeling it out I caught myself in that frantic state again. Tears and a crazy voice. This was the last time I would ever be around my daddy here on earth. I couldn’t keep it together. It was too much. I watched as the stretcher was taken out to the parking lot and then loaded into the hearse.

And that was it.

My dear father-in-law pulled into the parking lot just then. He lovingly held my mom as she cried in his arms. Then he did the same with me. The sweet nurse who had cared for dad for the last nine days embraced us all. He was just arriving for his daytime shift at 7am. We will forever be grateful to him for his kindness. Hospice nurses are wonderful.

Monica asked Mom where Dad’s favorite place to eat breakfast was. It was a small Mexican restaurant close by. I remembered he had asked me to pick up tacos from there when he was at rehab not long ago. I couldn’t find the place and never did. Tears filled my eyes at that thought. We decided to go there. Someone mentioned Dad must be enjoying his first morning in heaven. Surely he was having his coffee and cookies right about then. The thought brought a smile to my face.

Dad passed away on June 23. He had his first stroke on March 23. His medical battle was exactly 3 months long. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe God had his hand in Dad’s life. Although he struggled those three months, I am thankful for the extra time with him. If God had taken him after the first stroke on March 23, we would have been so much more devastated. It would have been a shock to our family to have him taken so suddenly. Instead, God, in his loving kindness, prepared us and showed us his hand all along the way. We watched Dad decline. We watched him lose his abilities. We understood that, when the time came, he needed to go home. We didn’t want him to suffer. We didn’t want him to be in pain anymore. And goodness, how hard to be in a body that didn’t work and without being able to speak! My poor daddy!

I miss him very much. I’m grateful for the times in the hospital and rehab those last 3 months. I spent more time with him then than I had in the last several years.

And my mom, well, she is amazing. I watched her during the 3 months, too. She loved Dad unconditionally. She was always there for him. Although she continued to work, she stayed with him overnight in hospitals, spend all her time in rehab, and took care of him that entire time. I have beautiful memories of her selflessly helping him dress, walk, and eat. One time she was walking him to the bathroom and sang a song as if they were dancing the whole way. The two of them were always happy and positive. And yet, when he suffered, she suffered right alongside him. These days, she is the one hurting. She is the one who misses him every second of every day. Please pray for her. Pray that God would comfort her and guide her as she moves forward. I miss my dad, but I can’t imagine how much she must miss him. I know Dad is in heaven, rejoicing, with no more pain or suffering, but Mom is still here. She is suffering the loss of her husband and the life she had. I hurt for her more than I hurt for myself.

Lord, comfort her. Guide her. In Jesus’ name. 

We had a beautiful celebration for Dad. His motorcycle friends reserved the Chapel by the Sea at South Padre Island and over fifty bikes drove the hour and a half to give their dear Arturito his last ride. After a sweet service in which people shared funny stories and memories of him, we released his ashes out on the open road at the beach. It was what he would have wanted. Maybe I’ll write about that another day.

I could go on forever. I’ve been typing for over an hour and my face and eyes are red from all the crying. This is the most I’ve cried since June 23. I guess I needed to get this out. (I apologize for grammatical errors. I’m not going to reread this one!) Thanks for the prayers for our family. We love and appreciate every one of you!

It’s not Goodbye… Just See you later.








Today is day 8 in hospice care for dad. God is giving me a precious gift at this moment, a clear blue sky in the break of the heavy storm I’ve lived in for the last 12 days. My heart wants to express in words what it is feeling. And so, here I am, writing.

As I sit in this room with my dad declining, watching my dear mother nap crookedly in a hospital grade recliner, I can hear my dad’s breaths. He is sleeping comfortably. We are continually reassured that he feels no pain or discomfort. The medications are making him comfortable in his final days. We sit at his side, waiting. We wait for God’s sweet mercy to take him home to heaven.

Let me explain what has happened. My dad’s first stroke happened March 23. He was released a couple of days later, only to have another more intense stroke on March 28. My sweet dad has not been home since. He has been shuffled from hospital to hospital, having complication after another. He had infections, internal bleeding, you name it. Then when deemed well enough to progress he was taken to rehabilitation centers, only to get sick and end up at the hospital again. It’s been a rollercoaster. It’s been frustrating, upsetting, and leaves us all feeling helpless.

Dad is a fighter. He always works hard, does therapy with a positive and willing attitude. His personal goal was always to get healthy so he’d be able to go back home with my mom, his dear, dear love.

Last Saturday morning, something changed. Dad was found unable to speak, with the left side of his body completely paralyzed, and the right shaking/trembling uncontrollably. He had lost the ability to swallow. He had previously lost most of his vision, and we didn’t know how much of it was left after this. Dad had suffered another stroke overnight. This one has been the worst yet.

And now here we are. Doctors told us there was nothing we could do. If we give him blood thinners, he will bleed internally, they said. If we don’t he will continue to have strokes and ultimately one of them will take his life. There is no way to treat him. Hospice was offered. Here we are. Twelve days after the BIG stroke.

My heart is heavy. It’s broken actually. Seeing my dad go through this is excruciating. Seeing my mom watch him go through this is worse. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be by their side since this started 12 days ago. My amazing husband is holding down the fort at home with our kids as a gift to me. He is gifting me with the time and freedom to be present for my dad’s last days on this earth. I’m so grateful.

And yet, with that gratefulness comes guilt and pain, too. I should be with my kids, I think. This is hard on them, too. And the cycle of pain for all of us affected is ever-present. Only God is able to heal and comfort our hurting hearts.

It’s been hard explaining this situation to our kids, ages 10, 7, and 5. We explained that their sweet Tito is not going to get better. That this body here on earth is not working, and that Jesus will soon take him home to heaven. It’s not ‘Goodbye,’ I tell them. It’s just ‘See you later.’ All of this because we have the hope that we will be in heaven with God forever because of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So today, this 8th day of hospice care for Dad, I seek your prayers. I humbly ask that you join me and my family as we pray for my dad. For our All-Loving, All-Knowing, Powerful God to take him to a place where there is no more suffering or pain. A sweet, sweet place where there will be no more tears. I place where he can dwell with him forever and ever. And best of all, a place where all who believe in Jesus can also dwell someday in his presence.

Those Who Died in Christ

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep [k]in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive [l]and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a [m]shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive [n]and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Ian’s adventure continues…


While the rest of the Cloudwalkers are heading home today, Ian is not. He and a friend are staying in Tanzania a few more days. The reason he is staying is the only reason I am jealous of him taking this trip.

In June 2009, when Emma was three years old and Jack only 6 months old, we started sponsoring two children through the organization, Compassion International. For six and a half years we have sent them $76 each month, a small amount for us that we are sure makes a big impact in their lives. We have corresponded with them, sending letters and photos of our family. Even better, they have written to us and sent us photos of them, too. I love talking to our kids about our two kids, Phoebe and Elinathan. We often wondered what they were doing, eating, playing, and prayed for their health and safety. Above all, we prayed that they would hear about Jesus and believe.

Fast forward six years. Who would have ever thought that Ian would be visiting Tanzania??? We sure didn’t expect it! And yet, God had plans for Ian to climb Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, where Phoebe and Elinathan live!!! There was no way Ian would be in their home country and NOT SEE them. NO WAY! So, he is staying behind. He is on his way right now. He and his friend have taken a plane to the opposite side of Tanzania, to the plains of Shirati where our sweet kids live. I am so so so excited for him!!! I wish I could teleport and meet them, too.



We bought them soccer balls for Ian to give them as gifts. He is also bringing them each a photo frame with a pic of our family. Someone suggested that he take a pic with them while he is there, so we can mail it to them afterward. I think it will be so neat for him to meet these kids… to see where they live… for them to know that we are a real family and really care about them. I truly can’t wait to see photos of him with them!

So, all of that to say, keep up the prayers for Ian. He said the runway they landed on was dirt. They had to slow down because of cattle on the road. Pray for safety.

I’ll update soon.

Real Life Heroes: Ginger, Troy, Jim, & Andrea


I’ve been getting ready for this post for a while. (You may have noticed I haven’t written in a few days. You’ll see why.)

Grab some tissues for this one.


A couple of years ago, I was having a conversation with a friend. While we were talking she said, “Oh, you have to meet Ginger. She has a great story.”

I learned Ginger had twin girls my daughter’s age. She also had three older kids. Our kids had been in the same school for years and our three had never been in the same class. Hmm, I thought. I should meet this Ginger.

I didn’t realize until later, but Ginger had actually contacted me while we were going through everything with Ian. After he had his fingers amputated, I changed all of our dishes to melamine ones (plastic.) I was determined to have Ian help me in the kitchen again, and I figured it would be nicer for them to be lighter and not breakable. Anyway, Ginger sent me a sweet email offering to give me some new melamine dishes she had just bought. She was kind in her email, telling me her family was praying for Ian.  I replied to her email and thanked her, but said I’d found some already. That was the end of it.

For the next year, I continued to hear about this Ginger. We just kept missing each other. I knew OF her, and I think she knew OF me. We both wanted to meet each other. Then it happened. We were both registered to attend a writing conference in the summer of 2014. Would you believe we lived in San Antonio, but ended up meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina?

She was as sweet as everyone said she was. She was warm and kind. She said she was a speaker and she was writing a book with her husband. Then she shared her story with me. I was blown away.


Troy and Ginger were happily married with five kids. Troy was in the Air Force, and in Sept 2006, was deployed to Iraq. He said goodbye to his wife and kids that morning, not knowing it would be the last time. Sadly, Troy was killed in a plane crash.

Ginger lost her husband. Their five kids lost their daddy. Americans lost a brave young hero.

As I write this, I try to put myself in Ginger’s shoes. My husband is gone. I have five kids to take care of on my own. My kids won’t have their daddy. My twins are not even a year old! What am I going to do? How am I going to survive this? 

There are just no words.

Meanwhile, another beautiful story had unfolded. Let me just say, I didn’t know any of the following people.


Jim and Andrea were married. They had two sons. They, too, were an Air Force family. Andrea was a brave young woman fighting cancer. Darn that dreaded nightmare that is cancer. I hate cancer.

Sadly, Andrea lost her battle with cancer. Her loving husband, Jim, was left to raise their kids without their beautiful mother.


This is where my own writing stops. I don’t have the words to adequately tell this story. I tried, but I fall short. Ian just got back from a run and found me sobbing in front of my computer at my kitchen table.

Instead, I will share their words. This is written by Jim, from their blog. Again, I urge you to get tissues.

This blog began as as an account of Andrea’s and my journey though breast cancer and her eventual death. My intention was to chronicle our experiences from sickness to physical healing but God revealed His plan was beyond the mere physical. I have continued to experience healing in my life and now God has opened a door to a new chapter in my life. This journey has not ended but has transformed into a new normal and the hope of a new beginning

My monthly updates, which grew into this blog, reached an Air Force pilot’s wife in Jan 2007 who had lost her husband two months prior. Her name is Ginger and her husband’s name was Troy. Through this tragic bond developed a friendship. And now, through marriage, God has merged all of our journies to healing. This blog is a compilation of these four lives; two sadly taken and two left behind. In this common grief God has given Ginger and I a desire to journal our experiences as therapy for our pain and a source of encouragement to others who face life’s most enormous challenges

Andrea was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in Aug 2003 while we were stationed in Anchorage Alaska. After 6 months of chemo and radiation we moved to Washington DC. In June 2005 we moved again to Seymour Johnson AFB in NC. Two weeks later Andrea was told the pain in her hip was breast cancer that had spread to her bones. Two weeks later we were told the cancer was also in her liver and lungs. July 5th 2005 Andrea began chemo treatment. On Dec 17th 2007 Andrea lost her fight with cancer but won her place in eternity.

Troy was a loving father of 5 children, and like Andrea was a
faithful servant of Christ. Troy was an F-16 pilot who volunteered to serve in Iraq. He deployed in Sept 2006. One day during his tour there he was tasked to provide close air support to a special operations unit who had come under overwhelming enemy fire. In an attempt to limit civilian causalities Troy made two low level passes employing the gun from his F-16. After a successful first pass Troy attempted a second pass to ensure the safety of the American soldiers. It was during this pass that Troy’s F-16 impacted the ground. On Nov 27th 2006, Troy lost the fight in Iraq and that day won his place in eternity.

This blog is about our experiences, what God has taught us and most importantly about God’s faithfulness. It is about dealing with life with cancer and life after cancer. It is about dealing with the sudden tragic loss of a spouse. It is about death and life and the deep grieving and growing process we are going through. It is about our victories and our struggles. But always it is about God’s unfailing love for us.


This is their beautiful blended family. I love how God has joined these people!



Our girls did eventually end up in the same class. And, wouldn’t you know, they got along beautifully! The three have such gentle, sweet spirits. Only God could know they would need those having gone through what they have in their short lives.

I am blessed to know of Ginger, AND to count her as one of my friends. She is amazing. Jim, well, he is an outstanding man. I pray my boys will grow up to be the caliber of man he is. Jim now runs the organization Folds of Honor. Folds of Honor awards scholarships to children and dependents of military who have been killed or disabled in combat. Ginger is a speaker and shares their story with others in similar situations.

Ginger and Jim are real life heroes. Troy and Andrea are heroes, too. Although they were gone too soon, they will definitely not be forgotten. Jim describes it perfectly on their blog. They are four lives; two sadly taken and two left behind.


This post is part of a series of 31 Real Life Heroes. If you’d like to nominate your hero, please email dwarshak(at)gmail.com.

Real Life Hero: Jeff J.


We live in the land of the free because of the brave. Jeff J. is one of the brave.

Jeff is a wonderful husband to Allison and an amazing dad to their two kids (and one on the way.) He’s a go getter, determined to live life to the fullest, with a positive attitude no matter what comes.

Jeff’s story is a tough one to swallow. I’m hoping I can do it justice, keeping the facts straight and his integrity intact.

Jeff was deployed to Iraq from March 2004 through March 2005. During that year he went on over 700 patrols in the slums of Baghdad. During a patrol in May his unit came under heavy fire. A RPG (rocket propelled grenade) pierced his unit’s Bradley tank. His back was broken in multiple places.

God showed him mercy. He recovered and came home to his beautiful wife.

Sadly, ten years later these injuries continue to cause major back problems. Jeff deals with pain daily, and on a normal day his legs go numb around lunch time. Doctors say not much can be done. Despite the daily struggles, however, Jeff never complains. If you see him in public, you would never know the pain he is in.

In addition, eight months of heavy combat are hard to forget. Jeff also deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to traumatic events, specifically warfare in Jeff’s case. Symptoms include disturbing recurring flashbacks that can last months or years after the events. He has nightmares once a week to this day.

Although he has sought treatment, PTSD is something he will never fully get over. In addition to nightmares, Jeff also has adverse reactions to loud, unexpected noises. Fireworks on holidays, for example, send his mind back to his days in Iraq. The memories are unbearable.

Learning Jeff’s story has given me a new appreciation for our military servicemen. Their experiences during war are horrific. When they return home, they do not just forget what happened and move on. No. They live with the effects of their experience for the rest of their life. Knowing this about Jeff has helped me realize that some disabilities, although not visible, still have life-changing impact on a person. We should all keep this mind, especially in the case of veterans.

Jeff is a true hero.

He has displayed courage, bravery, and self-sacrifice, in this case, for the greater good of his country. 

We should all be thankful to him for his service and for his willingness to defend this great nation.

Thank you, Jeff, for being a real life hero.

Thank you for being selfless.

Thank you for living your life as an example for us all to follow.

You are appreciated! Your efforts and hardship will not be forgotten.


This post is part of a series of 31 Real Life Heroes. If you’d like to nominate your hero, please email dwarshak(at)gmail.com.

Real Life Hero: Alana W.


Jessica met Alana through their kids’ school. She immediately loved her thick southern accent and infectious laugh. The two became great friends. Jessica considers Alana her real life hero and was anxious to share her story. Most of this post was written by Jessica.


A little more than a year ago, Alana was diagnosed with breast cancer. Knowing she had a difficult battle in front of her, she faced it head on and never lost sight of what she was fighting for-her beautiful family. She had the love and support of her wonderful husband and two children, as well as friends and family all around her.

This is an entry from her Caringbridge.org page. (in Alana’s own words)

After attending the Justin Timberlake concert in New Orleans on August 3rd, I discovered a lump in my left breast after taking off my very uncomfortable strapless bra. Chalking it up to a night of fun and an ill-fitting bra, I carried about my time in New Orleans and then the following week in Mississippi. We returned to Austin and I made an appointment with my doctor. She saw me the next day, August 12th, and then ordered a mammogram for the following day, Wednesday the 13th. To be honest, I was not that worried because the lump was painful and breast cancer is not supposed to hurt. Right? Regardless, I had my mammogram on Wednesday and the radiologist immediately ordered an ultrasound which was done at the same appointment. After the ultrasound, the Radiologist asked to meet with me in private. Uh oh. He informed me that the lump had calcifications around it and then a line of calcifications extending 10 centimeters from the lump. He said the lump measured 1.6 centimeters. I asked what all of that meant. His reply was “I am concerned. You need a biopsy right away.” Well crap. I had a biopsy the next day, Thursday, August 14th. However before the biopsy was even done the surgeon told me that I had breast cancer. She was very matter of fact and left no room for doubt. She proceeded with the biopsy. There was a fear that the lump was attached to my pectoral muscle. I was sent home to wait for the results over the weekend. The longest weekend of my life. I was convinced I had stage 3 cancer and was worried I wasn’t going to be ok. On Monday the 18th, I found out I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Poorly differentiated. I was devastated. I did learn, however, that it didn’t appear to be attached to my pectoral muscle and that I most likely had caught it early. The pain was from the tumor pressing against my muscle, causing soreness. I breathed a little sigh of slight relief. My cancer is fast growing and aggressive. If it had gone untreated, who knows what could have happened! Wearing that strapless bra that pressed the lump into my muscle causing soreness truly saved me! (Thank you, Justin Timberlake for “making” me dress up for you and your concert! ) The next 2 weeks were filled with endless doctor appointments, more biopsies (ouch), more mammograms, ultrasounds, and lots of fear. Today, I’m ready to fight this cancer and come out like a champ. I am positive and ready. I know I have a long road ahead of me, but I also feel confident that I will be ok. My kids are being brave and seem to be handling all of this ok. My husband has been a rock and his faith that I will be healed has never wavered. The Lord promised to never leave me or forsake me. I know He has me in His hands and will see me through this. My prayer has been one of thankfulness and faith. I can’t wait to see what God does through our family and I can’t wait to see how He delivers us from this nasty thing called cancer. We are ready.


At the time, she thought it was probably stage two. She was scheduled to go in for a double mastectomy and we had a big going away party for her boobies. She was so strong and brave and always had a smile on her face. Her faith was and still is very strong. That is one of the main things that has gotten her through all of this.

She had the surgery and found out that the cancer was also in 10 of 32 of the lymph nodes they removed. One of them had erupted and which caused it to spread to other parts of her body. She was dealing with a diagnosis of Stage IV, which is incurable.

She had such a difficult battle in front of her.

She went through chemo, lost her hair, bought wigs and hats with hair. She changed her diet completely and gave up so many things that would not be beneficial in her fight. After she finished chemo, she had to have radiation for some spots on her sternum.

The road has not been easy, but she has endured it like a champ.


Fast forward a year. Alana has been declared NED! That means NO EVIDENCE OF DESEASE! She will be the first to tell you that it is a miracle, that her faith in Jesus is what cured her.

When asked why Alana is her hero, Jessica responded,

She is one of my heroes because she never lost faith or sight of what is important. While she and I have a very different religious and spiritual belief, it has never been an issue. She just has the biggest heart and so much determination. She knew she had to fight and she did it with everything she had and she gave control to God because that is what she felt she needed to do. I am a fighter too and very strongly believe that you always have to try to see some sort of good in everything, in every situation. She believes she was given all of this for a reason, she may not know it yet, but that God has a plan for her. I admire her attitude and her will and her faith.

Thank you, Jessica for sharing this amazing story of a real life hero. Thank you, Alana, for being that hero for those around you! You are a true example of strength and perseverance. You never gave up hope.


This post is part of a series of 31 Real Life Heroes. If you’d like to nominate your hero, please email dwarshak(at)gmail.com.