Thursday, January 7, 2021

Momentous Milemarker

 Ecclesiastes 4:9 "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two life down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

On January 9, Wayne and I will be celebrating 22 years of marriage. In our house, this is an extra exciting time because we didn't know if we would ever reach 20 years of marriage, let alone 22, when Wayne was diagnosed with brain cancer. This year to celebrate our anniversary, we embarked on an adventure. As I've been reflecting on our recent trip, I have concluded that Wayne and I make a good team. We have learned how to combine our passions into something we can do together. Wayne recently purchased another car for our household of growing drivers. He loves looking online for good deals. One of his main criteria for a vehicle is that it be from out west where they do not salt their roads. Since we tend to buy 20 year old cars, you do not want an old car that has been exposed to salt. He found an amazing deal for a car located in California. We had made plans to travel to California in early December, but COVID was ramping up in CA and we decided that we needed to wait after the state shut down. We quickly realized that it was not going to decrease any time soon and we made plans to travel after the holidays. 

Wayne knew that we would be traveling through some states that I haven't run in, and he offered to bring a bike so that I could run in those states. Here is where we have blended our passions: his passion for a good deal and my passion to finish my bucket list of running a half marathon in every state. Not exactly every couple's idea of an anniversary trip. But hey, no kids and traveling across the country with countless hours to talk? That sounds heavenly to me!

Sunday was a terribly long day since we had to get up at 3am (EST) to catch our flight out of Louisville. We didn't make it to our hotel in Palm Desert until 12pm (PST). Yes, we were up over 24 hours on our crazy adventure. On Sunday, we enjoyed Round Table pizza in the car as we drove from Sacramento to Fresno to pick up our car, which was being stored at our friend Laurie's house. It was great getting to catch up with her, even though it was only for a short time. We then head toward Bakersfield to head south. We stopped for a quick pitstop at my friend Brooke's house to say hi to her. I haven't seen her since China.

Brooke and me

Passed through one of the towns I lived in as a kid. Ripon, CA

Round Table Pizza!

Laurie and me in Fresno, CA. We've been friends for 20 years after meeting at Moody Bible Institute and I'm so thankful for her friendship. She helped guide us at the beginning with Wayne's cancer and helped us decipher all the medical jargon.

From Bakersfield we headed to In'n'Out for dinner before driving all the way to Palm Desert. The sunrise on Monday in Palm Desert was so beautiful. Since we didn't get in until really late and we discovered how early the sun sets in Las Cruces, we decided that Monday would be a travel day and I would run at White Sands National Park on Tuesday morning instead of Monday afternoon. It was 34 when we left the hotel Tuesday morning in Las Cruces and I thought it was cold, but I could suck it up for my run. When we dropped into the desert, it dropped to 21 degrees! I finished my running my half, but it was miserable and mentally a hard one to complete because I was so cold. I also didn't account for the high altitude. So cold, thin air made running very difficult. We found a unique medallion at the gift shop to use to make my medal for the race, since my virtual medal they sent me was just garbage. From there we spent the day driving to Oklahoma City.

When I was done running and we enjoyed the dunes a little, it decided to warm up.

Wednesday morning Wayne hopped on his bike and rode along side me as I ran around Lake Hefner in Oklahoma. Running two half marathons within a 24 hour window was brutal. My times were terrible and it was just a mental game to get through the races. Wayne reminded me that even professional runners have bad races. I was just thankful to have a partner who supports my dream and helps make it a reality. States #34 and #35 are in the books! What a way to start 2021.

It was windy and cold in Oklahoma City.

See how miserable my face looks? I was so sore and tired by the end of this race.

22 years ago, a young couple set off on a crazy adventure of life together. Little did we know what we were completely getting into at 20 and 22. We have been through so much together: good, bad, crazy, hard, birth of our children, adoption, cancer, teenagers. If Jesus weren't at the center of our marriage, who knows where we would be. I know that God made Wayne just for me. I couldn't have asked for a better husband and he truly is the answer to all my prayers as a little girl. I love you Wayne! I'm so thankful that God has given you to me and that He has decided that you are still needed down here with me. I love how passionate you are about the Lord and how you lead our family as a godly example. 

10 Year Anniversary

My 30th birthday

Wayne in rehab after brain surgery

Pictures before Wayne's surgery

Making memories after Wayne's chemo ended

Walking miracle - able to hike and bike

20 Year Anniversary

Prayer Request:

While on our trip, a friend whose husband was diagnosed three years ago with brain cancer, got terrible news on New Years Day. Her husband's tumor not only returned, it returned 4 times larger and the doctors say there is nothing else they can do. They have given him approximately 4 months to live. When I watched her live video where she shared with everyone what was going on, I sat in the car crying. She is living out my worst nightmare right now, as are her 11 children. Please pray with us for the Shaw family. Their testimony and light during this time is just amazing. My deepest prayer is that our family would be able to shine Jesus' light as well as they are in their suffering. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Is Jesus Worth It?

 1 Peter 4:12-14 "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as your share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."

I heard a few weeks ago that believers in China pray for persecution to come to America. I remember that struck me in an odd way. Why would you pray for persecution to come to America? The ANSWER? They have seen how persecution has spread the gospel in China. It makes no human sense at all. How can a hurting, suffering church actually grow? I believe it is the power of the resurrection and the power of the gospel message.

Yesterday, I came across a free version of "The Insanity of God" video on Facebook. Since the girls and I have been reading different missionary stories, I thought this would be a great addition to our school day. What I didn't realize is that God had a message for me. Maybe He has a message for you too, since He woke me up at 3:00am to write this blog post. I normally never wake up on my own this early. However, I was wide awake with the Spirit prompting me to write and share what I learned in the video. As I sat here reflecting and asking the Spirit to guide me, I recalled on my plane ride to Nebraska seeing this young couple reading a book called "The Insanity of God". The title caught my eye because it sounded so anti-God to call Him insane. As I sit here now, I wonder if that was God's first attempt to get my attention about this story I'm about to share with you. I don't claim at all to understand God's ways, since I know that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways are higher than mine. But, I also know that if we will listen, He has a message for us in His word and through other people's testimonies.

Through Celebrate Recovery, I have discovered just how powerful people's testimonies are to others. To hear someone share where they have come from, how God has moved in their life, and to hear how God is using them now is powerful. I think that is why Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15, "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the HOPE that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." As I typed that verse, I'm struck with the reminder that the first week of Advent is the Hope candle. I believe that is what differentiates believers...the hope that we have in the midst of trials and the storms of life. I have said many times that I don't know how people cope with a cancer diagnosis apart from the hope that we have in Jesus. I also don't know how people handle death without Jesus on their side.

This I believe is what struck me so much about the video that we watched yesterday. My human mind could not imagine some of the things that I heard. Let me give you a quick, brief background on the video. This missionary couple, Nik and Ruth, were missionaries overseas. They saw God move in so many ways during their years of service. Unfortunately, while overseas, they lost their son. Nik shared how he cried out to God that it was too much. God asked too much of him. At this point, God started him on a life changing journey to travel around the world and interview Christians who had been persecuted and ask them, "Is Jesus Worth It?" What followed was literally mind-blowing and challenged my faith. One pastor was tortured for years by the KGB for his faith. When his family was finally able to see him, the guards dragged out an emaciated man. Instead of crying over seeing their loved one in such a state, his eight year old son leaned over and told his father he was proud of him. What?!? That is mind boggling that an eight year old saw his father's tortured body and said he was proud of him for living for Jesus! 

If that wasn't enough, another pastor was thrown in jail for 17 years. He would wake up every morning and sing a love song to Jesus while facing east. He was beat numerous times when guards found scriptures he had written down from memory to revive his soul. One time, the guards had enough and told him they were going to kill him in the prison yard right now. As they dragged him out of his cell, they were suddenly silenced by 1500 hardened criminals with the arms raised up to the east singing the love song that faithful follower of Jesus sang for the last 17 years. 

Story after story of people experiencing such difficult, hard times and suffering. At the same time, story after story of their faithfulness to a faithful God who never left their side. When asked, "Is Jesus worth it?", they always responded the same. Yes! He is worth it all. Such power in their testimonies and it challenged me to my soul. Tears streamed down my face as I heard stories that were like people stepping out of the pages of the Bible, especially in Acts. How many times do we question God sitting here in the comfort of our homes? I know that I am guilty of telling God it's too much to have to raise a child with psychosis and mental health issues on top of having a husband with a terminal illness. Then I hear of these people suffering for the name of Jesus to the point where any human would ask, "Is Jesus worth it?" And their answer is yes! This right here shows the POWER of the gospel and the resurrection! No one would be tortured and suffer such hardship for something that wasn't real to them. That is what was powerful to the testimony of the early church and how the gospel spread, and that is the power of the church now. It is when we are weak that we are strong and God's message can be displayed to the world. When you have been striped of everything and only have Jesus, you discover that He is enough!

Towards the end of the movie was when this message was shared from believers in China. These are the very same people who pray that persecution comes to America and who don't trust people who come into their midst unless they have served time in prison for Him. The next section has almost direct quotes from the movie "The Insanity of God". It was so powerful, I had to write it down word for word in some parts.

When China re-opened their borders, believers around the world looked on to see what happened to the 400-700,000 known believers in China. During this time of closed borders and extreme persecution, the church grew to 10 million Christians. These Christians didn't just survive in persecution, they thrived. This is not a secret church in China. You cannot hide what is currently 85-100 million Christians. This is an illegal church, but it blesses the community in which it exists so much that there have been numerous times authorities have asked the church to help settle disputes within the community. Why have they done so well? Here was their response: They said we have a decision we have to make every day. We ask ourself this question, do I want to identify with believers in persecution or do I want to identify with their persecutors? And when you ask them how do I determine who I identify with, they say by whether or not today you share Jesus with someone else, or you keep Him to yourself. In America, I hear faith is a personal matter and that is from satan. What believers in persecution have said, that's brutally honest, is when I keep my witness from my brother, father, sister, or boss, then I am identifying with persecutors because I'm keeping my witness to myself. In 2000, it was said that 90% of baptists will never share Jesus with another person.This is what's killing believers in persecution. They are saying you are giving up in freedom, what we would never give up in persecution and that is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They said here is the mistake you are making. You think that witness is tied to political freedom and that is Biblically incorrect. I am as free to share Jesus in Saudi Arabia today as I am in Kentucky. An I am as free to share Jesus in Afghanistan today as I am in Ohio. Politics, countries, and presidents have nothing to do with this. God has said you are free and you are to share the gospel with everyone. When we are obedient and exercise our freedom, then we do have the courage to suffer the consequences. 

Romans 8:2, 11, 28 says, "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you freeing Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death...If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you...And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." 

Wow! I know that God used those words to challenge my heart. How many times do I stay silent and not share Jesus with the world around me? We like to say we "share" by how we live. Although this is true, we need to live lives that match the message we are to share, is that just an excuse? I know that out of fear of what people will think that I have shut my mouth in public. What the persecuted believers are saying to us is that we have it all backwards. We think by us having freedom to worship and freedom of religion, we are in a better position than our "poor, suffering" brothers and sisters around the world. The secret they know is that they are actually more free in their suffering than we are in our "free" lives. Freedom and joy come from living the life that God has called us to live. We are told countless times to share the gospel with the world around us. Testify to His greatness in your life and allow your testimony to be the vessel by which God can transform other people's lives around you. May we be willing as believers to fight harder for sharing the truth of God with others as we are to fight for our freedom. Maybe in shedding some of our "freedom", we will actually get to experience true freedom!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Tribute to Emily

Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

On May 29, 2018, our lives were changed when Wayne met a beautiful young girl at Midway Airport. I remember receiving a phone call from Wayne on the airplane explaining that he didn't get her contact information and really wanted to find her. He told me that all he knew was her first name and that she was from Nebraska. He asked me to go on Facebook and find her. I remember thinking, "Social media is pretty amazing, but that is like a needle in the haystack." But, I decided to give it a try and here was my post:

"I know this is a long shot, but I thought I'd ask you all to share this post and see what happens. My husband, Wayne, met a girl about our daughter's age at Midway Airport today (5/29/18) who has brain cancer. They had just started talking and sharing stories about their brain cancer, when Wayne had to board his plane. I believe they were at gate A16. He thought they were getting on the same flight, so he didn't get her name. She was from Nebraska and was flying with her mom. Wayne is hoping to somehow connect with her so that he can encourage her along her brain cancer journey. Wayne has glioblastoma brain cancer and hopes to encourage her. Can you share this so that maybe we can find her? I know it's a long shot, but you never know. I already shared it on a brain cancer Facebook page that we belong to. I included his picture for reference."

God worked all the details out and we were able to be connected through a nurse. She reached out to Emily's mom and gave her our information. Looking back, it was only something God could do. 

Picture of Emily and her mom in Chicago right before they met Wayne at the airport                                            

Over the next 2+ years, we would meet up with Emily when she came to Chicago with her mom for treatments. We absolutely fell in love with Emily. 

Back in March, right before COVID hit, we were supposed to travel to Omaha to see Emily because we heard that her cancer was back after having surgery in July 2019. Unfortunately, because of COVID and all the unknowns, we canceled out trip to see her. 

On October 23, after his MRI, Wayne drove the kids to Nebraska to see Emily. I flew to Nebraska to meet them there and visit Emily. Emily's mom had reached out to us and told us that Emily was not doing well. We wanted to make sure we got to see her at least one more time. The trip was heartbreaking! I wouldn't trade that trip for anything, but it was so hard to see the once vibrant young lady, laid up and broken by brain cancer. All cancer is terrible, but brain cancer is just vicious. It slowly steals everything about the person away from them: their ability to walk, communicate, their personality...just everything. 

Last night around 11:30pm, Emily breathed her last breath here on earth. I had received a text earlier yesterday morning letting me know that the nurse told her about 2 days. Wayne and I shed many tears after that text. Waking up to that terrible text this morning broke my heart. I'm broken for the young life lost to brain cancer and also I'm broken for her family who was robbed of years with this beautiful young girl.  

Please join us in uplifting her family in prayer. Please also pray for our children as they process through this loss. Although they didn't know her really well, we have prayed for her since we met her and it strikes too close to home.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Beth Rapha Farm Fundraiser

 2 Corinthians 9:7 "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

Just in time for Christmas! Help support Beth Rapha Farm and get some of your Christmas shopping done! I have been working hard to create gifts that will look good in any stocking or under the tree. Are you struggling to figure out what to buy your co-worker, child's teacher, or maybe your family member that is hard to shop for? Below are some great gift ideas that will not only complete your Christmas list, but will also help us raise some extra money to finish setting up Beth Rapha Farm. 

                                    $10 - Homemade Vanilla (clear) - 8.5 oz

$8 - Lavender Bath Salts
Ingredients: Epsom Salt, baking soda, and essential oils. 
(We can custom make a scent that you would like as well)

$8 - Large Bath Bombs (pictured left)
$6 - Medium Bath Bombs (pictured right)
Ingredients: Baking Soda, Epsom Salt, Citric Acid, Cornstarch, and Essential oils
Available Scents: Lavender, Peppermint, and Christmas Spirit

$10 - Tin full of chocolate fudge

For those who do not live nearby, I can also ship these to you! Shipping will range from $8.30-$15.50. Please contact me to find out how much shipping would be. The more you buy, the more you save! Bath Bombs and Bath Salts are buy 3 and get the 4th free. Buy 4 Bottles of vanilla and get the 5th free. 

Feel free to email any questions or your special order requests to