Sunday, December 12, 2010


The big gift-giving season is upon us!!  Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded by gift suggestions. The hype for the "perfect gift" threatens to steal our attention away from the real gifts and the real reason for the season!  Real gifts are not wrapped in paper or tucked into bags.  Real gifts are your words of affirmation, your full attention, your total appreciation of that person.  Real gifts are the smiles and hugs, the patience and kindness, the love and concern you give to those around you.  Some of the best gifts I've given are poems or letters, telling others how special they are!   "People will forget what you said and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." (B.J. Wasmund). I have a couple of notes from Melissa framed, because they make me feel so loved!   Of course, the biggest gift of the season is the reason: God's gift of eternal life. God breaking into human history to hug us, hold us, grab us, and take us to heaven.  So, despite all the pressure to buy, wrap, mail, decorate and party, take time to hug, hold, and feel the love of heaven. The King of Kings has come, and we are so deeply loved, each one, every moment.  May the Prince of Peace reign in your hearts this Christmas and always-  Blessings & Peace!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Counting Our Blessings

It's a sad day in my life when Thanksgiving comes and goes and I neglect to write about that which gives our lives the most joy: gratitude!!  So let me tell you about my newest take on Thanksgiving. This year, we did a new version of going around the table and each person identifying something for which they are thankful.  This year, we focused on identifying those little things that we take for granted, but add so much comfort in our lives.  This year, we went by categories, which I had written down for myself in advance:  main dishes, desserts, beverages, things you buy in a drug store, electronics, means of transportation, entertainment, places, and a few more.  Rather than go around the table, I just asked "What's your favorite..."   We ended up with a long and happy discussion with people competing for "air time" to share their favorite thing.  We didn't even make it through all the categories.  Our lives are so amazingly rich with so many blessings, that we couldn't begin to make a dent!  I am convinced that focusing on the goodness embedded in our daily existence makes such a difference in our perspective and mood.  We need Thanksgiving all year long. So, keep counting your blessings, just as Melissa did!   Your reading this is a blessing to me! -

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Power takes on many forms. I have some power over my students, requiring assignments and disciplining with warnings when someone crosses the line.  I really dislike the discipline required of me.  I wish everyone would simply behave the way they should and let me simply teach and love them with the love of Christ!  Of course, often an attempt to steer such students in the right direction will result in resentment and hostility. Understandable. No one appreciates having their short-comings pointed out, especially if they do not agree with the assessment!  My calling is to do what is right with as much grace, compassion, respect and honesty possible, and trust God with the fallout.  Power can also take on another form: "the work of faith with power" (2 Thes. 1:11).  Paul prayed that the people he cared about would have the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work of faith.  Power to do what is right, rather than what is easy.  Power to love people when they are hostile in return. Power to persevere with the Vision sent by God, when all the obstacles seem overwhelming. Power to endure terrible news and the end of one's earthly life, knowing that another life awaits, as Melissa did.  Power greater than any earthly position or authority:  the power of faith provided by the Holy Spirit. I want that kind of power-- to serve our Lord all the days of my life with power of His love, His truth, and His Spirit. May God give us all the work of faith with power that we may all share in the glory of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Countdown

A number of people recently commented to me on their lifetime, specifically how much time they have left on earth.  The trigger might have been the passing of a contemporary or the approach of a major decade milestone that brings on such morbid thoughts.  I hear these loved ones say, "Only 20 or 30 more years left!"  I always respond with the opposite viewpoint, "What if you die tomorrow, how do you want to spend today?"  The fact is we do not control when we die, unless we choose to do so prematurely.  But we do control how we live! By living each day to the fullest, we accrue a life of value, meaning, and purpose.  "That's so simple!" one friend responded.  Yes, but simple is not easy. To focus on the gift of this day takes discipline in our thinking, but the rewards are great!  Squeezing the juice out of each day frees our mind from needless worry over those things we cannot control and maximizes our positive impact on those things we can control!  Melissa worked at focusing on making each day count, as her days became more numbered.  How did she do that?  She prayed constantly for God's peace and to trust Him with tomorrow, then she concentrated on loving those around her today.  When she was told she had only weeks left to live, she immediately went shopping for her sister's birthday gift and her father's day presents. This week, I'm going to try to live like Melissa, making each day count, praying and trusting my Lord for the future and doing my best to be a blessings to others each day.  Have a great week!    

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I have an amazing capacity to ruminate.  I stew.  I worry.  I toss problems over and about in my mind like a sea tossing a ship--- a very destructive thing to do.  Our minds steer our lives.  Our thoughts point us in the right or wrong direction.  Now, problem solving is fine, but ruminating is fretting over those things which we cannot control, past, present or future.  Focusing on circumstances, problems, worries, anxieties sap the very strength and joy out of our lives. I listened to a sermon this Sunday that stated "your focus determines your feelings."   If we focus on our problems, we will be anxious and maybe depressed, but definitely not joyful!  If we choose to focus on our God who loves us, our feelings change.  We become relaxed.  Joyful.  All I have to do is remind myself that eternity is coming, and whatever I am so upset about this moment will pass so quickly that I won't even remember it two years from now.  In the grand scheme of eternity, almost all of what I stress about is minutia.  When I think about all the ways God has provided in the past, I can more easily trust His provision with whatever is stressing me right now.  Melissa said in her witness, "God answers our prayers in the little things, so we can trust Him with the big things." Melissa was right about keeping a prayer journal, too.  Just last week I was so upset about a work issue, and God sent the perfect answer- a gift straight from heaven!!  A few days later I looked at my journal and realized how distressed I had been, and how quickly I had forgotten God's solution!!  So, keep track of all those answered prayers, and remember, nothing is too big for our Faithful Creator, who just longs to bless us!!  Blessings on your day!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


 Everyone feels a need to be in control of their lives. When we feel threatened by new circumstances, new losses, or new challenges, we can easily feel a need for more control.  I once knew a Pastor who lost his church of many years because he started controlling every decision and every church matter.  Only after the damage was done did a psychiatric nurse have the chance to identify the coping mechanisms behind the behavior. His controlling behavior began shortly after loosing both his parents within a few months. So much of what we do is unconscious!  
If anyone needed to feel control, it must have been Melissa, as her cancer continued to grow   through her lungs despite treatment.  Yet, she focused on what she could give to others, not herself.  She prayed for peace constantly and received it. She made plans and always had "things to look forward to", and focused on them. She successfully used her precious last days on earth to bless others and bring God's love to them!  She relinquished control to her Lord, because she knew He loved her so much!  She trusted God's plan, even though it made no sense to her. "If God takes me home now, it's to spare me from something worse,"  she explained to her shocked friends when she had only weeks left to live.  Even in the face of the ultimate out of control of death, Melissa knew the secret to peace: trusting our Faithful Creator! 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Making Days Count

Today is Melissa's Birthday!  She was born 26 years ago today.  It seems like a long time ago in some ways, and in other ways not so long.  Melissa quoted a saying in her Prayer Journal .   "Don't just count your days, make your days count."   She believed it was not how many days we get on this earth, but how we use them!!  I know of a woman who is afraid to leave her house, a prisoner of her own mind, limited by her fears.  She may live a long time, but she is not well enough to touch people positively.   We have a choice to take each day, each moment, and make it count!  How?  By serving God and helping others.  The cross says it all: our vertical relationship to the Lord and our horizontal relationship with others are all that matter in this life.  So, today, I will connect with the people around me, as God sends them to me, and cherish the moments I have with each, just as I cherish the memories of my moments with Melissa. And I am so very grateful for each and every one: each moment, each memory, each precious person, and each day!  Hope your day is great!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Conquering Anxiety

"Everybody needs a half hour daily with God, unless you are really, really, really busy..................... then you need an hour."  An outburst of laughter from the listeners followed these words.  Who has time for reflecting, praying, meditating when life comes at us in double barrels?   Yet, truer words were never spoken!  The more we remember that Someone with endless power, limitless energy, immeasurable goodness, and total love stands next to us to help us through everything, the calmer we can be!  And, being mere humans, we have to work at remembering we are not alone-- with notes on the mirror or CD's in the car or whatever it takes to stay focused on God.  When my Dad's health began to deteriorate, my Mom asked me to embroider her a sampler for her wall:  "Lord, help me to remember that nothing will happen today that you and I can't handle."  She hung it on the wall facing her bed, so it was the first thing she saw as she got up every morning. And kneeling in prayer was the last thing she did before getting into bed each night. Melissa used "Our Daily Bread" books to read before retiring.  Those are the routines that keep us calm in every storm, and afloat in every hurricane!  So, I will make myself read the reflection on my computer "homepage" before logging into my email today, because conquering anxiety requires focusing on the Lord. Blessings on your day!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Emotional Fortitude

I was talking with a person who has an intensely draining job: a social worker in an Intensive Care Unit.  She spends her whole day, day after day, comforting families in distress while their loved ones titer on the edge of death.  Can you imagine?  How does one emotionally recover after a day in a job like that?!  I found myself recommending my gold-standard intervention: a gratitude journal!  Sometimes the things we experience are so emotionally exhausting and debilitating that rehashing them in a journal or talking to a friend just increases the trauma.  Indeed, the research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder suggests that people who can stop themselves from ruminating over negative experiences and instead enjoy simple life events recover faster. (Shopping therapy!)  I find I need a gratitude attitude the most when I am under intense stress.  So, as I start this week bracing myself for a hyper-speed work environment, I will follow Melissa's example in listing the things for which I am grateful---focusing on the positive!   Melissa made a point of having "things to look forward to" and focusing on those things, however small and simple the pleasures.  Gratitude provides us with amazing emotional fortitude.  So, I hope you can see the blessings of your day, even if you don't have time to write them down, and say a little prayer of "thanks".  I'm thankful for you in reading this! Gratefully, Janice

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Stretching is important to maintain flexibility and full range of motion for our muscles and joints. But God has been stretching me a lot lately, and that's a whole different ball game. God stretches me by pulling me out of my comfort zone, calling me to do new things that I never wanted to do.... like write a blog.... or start a publishing company.  Now I feel called to make a video about Melissa and put in on the net.... maybe even Youtube!  This could be really humiliating, especially at my less photogenic stage of life. The Lord continually reminds me that it's not about me, but Him.  It's all about my helping others to get to the Source of the only real Peace and Joy available in this life, and that's a life with God.  Melissa knew all about looking for love "in all the wrong places" and finally found it with Jesus. And she never stopped trying to point her friends in the right direction, to save them the heartbreak of blind alleys and dead ends in their search for meaning, fulfillment, the ultimate relationship.  Stretching by God keeps me flexible in my thoughts and skills, but also keeps me hanging on tight to my Lord. I trust that I can do anything with God, and nothing worth doing without Him.  I'm sure that's another positive outcome of God-stretching: I remain so aware of how much I need Him.  So, I'll trust the Holy Spirit to be in my video, too.  With the help of God, whatever I do will be helpful to others, even if I never find out. What a great reassurance!  Blessings on you day!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Recently, I've had the chance to share some stories with some younger friends, and hear some of their stories.  It's amazing how true stories can be encouraging and enlightening, especially recounts of how God has worked in someone's life.  Faith is so invisible and intangible for us who rely on five senses to experience the world.  But when someone looks back and see's the trail of God's fingerprints in their circumstances, it's awesome!  So, sharing those stories become a powerful way to strengthen one another in hope and even sharpen our own eyesight of God's hand on earth.  Melissa had a powerful story about the  night she was first diagnosed with cancer.  She was crying for hours in her bedroom in the middle of the night, when she finally cried to God.  As soon as she did, a light shone into her room from her back, 3rd story window facing woods.  The light moved up and down, as if to prove it was not from this earth. She was stunned and cautiously crept to the window to pull up the shade. When she did, the light vanished without a trace.  But really, that light stayed with her, for she had a peace that was beyond comprehension during her whole illness.  God came to her in a light, and entered her to allow her to become His light. She told her story to all who would listen.  Now we have to tell our stories, but most of all, we have to remember to cry to the One who responds with such amazing Grace!  Blessings on your day-

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Clouds symbolize all the things we avoid, such as pain, grief, or rejection. Yet, clouds have a purpose.  Clouds are often the way that God reveals Himself to us. I read a reflection on clouds this morning which was so right!  Even though we usually dread clouds, God comes in the center of them. Even the disciples were afraid of being covered by a cloud, yet God was in the middle! (see Luke 9:34-35)I know I easily feel badly about myself when I'm in a cloud, like it's somehow my fault.  "I must be doing something wrong because I'm not happy."  But clouds come so we can see Jesus.  Let's face it: we tend to ignore God until we need Him.  Even Melissa admitted to the Lord that she was much faster at handing Him her wish list than she was at saying "Thank you."  We turn to God in our discomfort. When we do, we find that the closer we are to our Lord, the more our lives are full of His peace and joy, even in the midst of pain.  So, when clouds come into your life, remember they are meant to be. We all get swallowed up in clouds, even the closest disciples of Jesus!  And in the midst of the clouds, we just might find the treasure of the presence of God.  Wishing you blessings on a cloudy day!  

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Something Bigger

We were in Laos and Cambodia, visiting temples and sharing rice with Monks.  We watched people kneel to golden images & stone statues, offering incense, flowers and fruit.  Humans have a programmed need to worship. When circumstances spiral out of control and beyond our reach, we run to Something Bigger.  We long to know Someone is in charge.  Melissa did the same thing.  The night she was diagnosed with cancer, she cried out to God.  She turned to the Living Lord, Jesus Christ, right in her bedroom.  No images, no man-created statue. Just God.  And He instantly came in the form of a bright light, shining and moving into her window out of the pitch-black darkness of the forest night.  Awesome.  So Melissa and I invite you to look for Something, or rather Someone Bigger.  Discover the real God, the Lord of All who is in All, and who comes to us as we seek Him. Jesus.  Just come. Just call. Just talk to Him.  He's real, and He'll be there for you, too, just as He was and is for Melissa.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Shout of Joy

So the truth is... I was not shouting joy.  I was sobbing.  I was in one of those terrible fits of misery, driving to the cemetery in hope that spending time at Melissa's grave would comfort me.  That's when God sent the angel.  My phone rang. I dared not pick it up, for fear it was an angry family member, who had a right to me annoyed with me because I do make mistakes. (;_;)   So, I listened to the message instead, and it was straight from heaven!!  My Angel friend said, "I just called to tell you how much I love you...."  Can you believe it?  She had just come from church and I was on her mind, so she called and said exactly what I needed to hear - words straight from the mouth of God!  "We have work to do!"   The Lord reminded me that I have a reason for being on this earth and a purpose, and it goes way beyond my emotions on any given day.  My Angel reassured me that my tears were fine: "Oh, those are just emotions!  They change all the time."  RIGHT!  God is the one who doesn't change, and when we need Him, He sends angels.  "Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5b).  Who knows what unseen Angels are around us all the time, helping us out without us even realizing it--- like Melissa!   The more I focus on the reality of God's love and providence, the more I see with eyes of faith, and I finally get to shout with Joy!!  Wishing you many Angels in your week!  

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I was chatting with a Mom who lost a child several years ago.  She shared how a daily occurrence recently brought her pain to the surface and surprised her once again.  Anyone who has lost a loved one has encountered being caught off guard by intense sadness when you least expects it.  Rather than see such events as unfortunate, I welcome these feelings, but not because they feel good! The longing for a loved one is always terribly painful, which is why we automatically avoid our grief and try to ignore it.  Our innate tendency to bury our mourning makes such daily triggers so critical: we need the stab at our wounds in order to let out the pain.  Crying is like breathing out carbon dioxide.  We release our sadness to make room for the oxygen, for the healing.  After a good cry, I always feel better: more able to concentrate on work and people, freer to enjoy the day.  After loosing my Dad, I spent an hour alone every Saturday morning listening to his theme music and looking through his photos. This painful time allowed me to carry on through my week unhindered by surprise attacks of grief.  My longing for Melissa is constant, and I have learned to simply embrace the pain, knowing that my longing is a measure of my love for her. 
    Loss is a part of life, which we all face at various points in our life.  The challenge is to have the courage to feel the sadness, expressing all the feelings in healthy ways, creating memorials in our hearts, minds, lives, and knowing we will see our loved ones again....maybe soon!!  God Bless-

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


We usually think of anniversaries for Weddings.  In fact, I never thought of any other kind until a few years ago. But in Cambodia, people celebrate the anniversary of a family member on the day they died instead of birthdays.  Rather than celebrate the day the living are born, people honor the day they lost a dear family member by gathering together with food and memories.  What a healthy way to acknowledge loss and comfort each other with shared grief!  Americans tend to hide death, avoid it, pretend it doesn't exist. Other cultures embrace the longing for a loved one with formal rituals and prayers. Perhaps their strong belief in an after life helps Cambodians to confront loss more openly and positively. Family members are still perceived as close by, and perhaps they are!  A California woman recently told me that she hosted a dinner for her adult children on the tenth anniversary of her mother's death for the purpose of remembering both her parents.  At first, her children thought she was 'weird".  But when the whole family started telling stories around the dinner table, laughing together with memories, and sharing the old photos, the entire evening was a great success.  Even the spouses enjoyed seeing childhood photos of those they married. I think we need more of such positive remembering together in our culture, both to heal from loss and to treasure the gift of those who have shaped our lives.  Wishing you all good memories on Melissa's 6th Anniversary!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I make lists almost every day.  I'm so afraid I will forget something important, that my lists make me feel more secure. Having my "to-do" on paper lowers my anxiety. Melissa made lists, too.  In her   personal prayer journal , she lists people to pray for and things for which she was grateful. Those are the good kind of lists!  My lists are more a function of my anxiety. The more anxious I am, the more lists I make.  Yesterday, I made three lists all at the same time!  Then I picked up a prayer book that my "adopted" daughter just gave me. The author spoke told of a Bible story where Jesus is being served in Martha's home, but Mary just sits with Jesus and doesn't help out. The punch line is "you are concerned about so many things, but really only one thing is necessary."  Luke 10:41-43.   Only one thing is necessary: listening to Jesus.  I don't have to do everything or be everything. I only have to do what God calls me to do. "It is impossible to do everything that others want you to do, so you have to do what God wants you to do,"  my favorite quote from   The Purpose Driven Life . So, I will continue to write lists, because it does lower my anxiety, but I must also remember to put "pray" on that list, or maybe more importantly, "listen".  Listen to God, which always brings me peace.  May God's peace be with you this day!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I encountered several surprises last week.  Some were wonderful, and some were awful.  A few surprises were those sickening disappointments in people whom you trusted. Jesus taught that people will always let us down, that's why we must put our faith and trust in God.  Something inside of me finds it so much easier to trust that friendly smile looking at me than my Heavenly Father whom I have to work (pray) to contact.  It's a continual struggle to rely on the Lord, not on others around me, to be filled emotionally by prayer, not only hugs & smiles.  However, the more I rely on the real source of strength, the more I can serve my God and my fellow humanity.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."  (Proverbs 3:5).  I have only to look at the scriptures Melissa used for strength in her prayer journal  to feel strengthened and encouraged!  Thank you, Princess, for showing us the way!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I received a photo of a rainbow this week that meant a great deal.  Rainbows symbolize all the facets of strengths and gifts in each of us.  Some people have stronger reds, and others stronger blues, but we all have many beautiful colors that make up our spectrum.  The sender of the rainbow was responding to this metaphor, sending me a thank you for appreciating her rainbow.  She had just left my final exam, and the clouds parted to display the lovely sight in a particularly timely way.  Melissa viewed Rainbows as gifts from heaven to brighten her day, even writing a poem about them. "So if you're having a day, when its raining only on you, let the little things cheer you up, that's what you must do. You'll find that a little sun, will go a long way; It creates a rainbow in your rain, and will surely brighten your day."  I think she actually was having a very bad day when she was given a rainbow encounter, and then wrote this poem.  Melissa once reminded me that rainbows also symbolize hope and the promises of God .Genesis 9:12-14  Rainbows are gifts of hope from heaven, for those who are looking upward to see them & recognize the gift!  So, keep looking for those little signs, in the sky or in an email or in a hug from a friend. God sends us blessings every day. We just need to stay tuned with the eyes of faith to see them. Blessings on your day today! 

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I received some amazing gifts this week, all unexpectedly.  My students surprised me with with flowers,  my adopted "daughter" showered me with thoughtful gifts, and an old friend treated me to lunch.  A priceless treasure was hidden in each of these gestures: affirmation of my worth and value, recognition for impacting the lives of others, and affection for just who I am.  Each instance brought touching words that feed my self-esteem.  I live on such precious messages like oxygen, breathing them in to continue moving. Such sweet, priceless thoughts say more about the giver than about me, and leave me with the deep warmth of gratitude. - Melissa writes about receiving compliments on her strength and coping with cancer, which leave her feeling unworthy.  She writes, "it's not me, it's God."  She struggles with how to explain the source of her strength to the giver without sounding ungracious or preachy.  Gifts can sometimes be harder to receive than to give, especially the gifts of affirmation or praise.  Since God is the giver of all good things, both those strengths inside us and those gifts we receive from others, maybe we can turn it all back into praise to Him. Maybe they are all God's gifts after all. May this week bring you affirmation of your worth and value, and more blessings from Our Loving God.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Unintended Occupations

I spent a few hours this past week creating a booklet from a personal journal found at the bedside of a close relative who recently entered heaven.  One of her journals had a section titled: "The Purpose of My Life", and lists four purposes, structured around the Bible verse, Galatians 5:22-23.  I made this booklet to honor this dear woman on her birthday. I couldn't help but wonder if she had been inspired by Melissa's Prayer Journal, almost hoping that we might find this section and share it with others after she had left the earth..... What a wonderful gift Melissa gave us, what an amazing piece of inspiration to teach so many others how to pray and how to journal. I now routinely recommend gratitude journals or life journals to my students and colleagues as a therapeutic source of comfort.  Melissa started us all off, with her personal pilgrimage of writing, never intended to be shared, but all the more powerful for its unveiled honesty.  As a result, I have been given this unintended occupation of reproducing power statements from those who go ahead of us to heaven, and sharing with all who God intends.  So, I encourage you to journal. Write down the little miracles that happen in life: those things that are more than coincidence, but can only be seen through the eyes of faith!  Write down the blessings of each day, focusing on the positive and savoring the goodness in our moments. And write down your prayers, noting their answers, and giving thanks.  Enjoy the journey.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Easter Sunday: our home is filled with the laughter and affection of dear friends.  I would have felt lonely without them, but with their lovely gifts, bright smiles and fun jokes, I was happy to be so blessed!   Melissa knew that friends and family are what really count.  Although Melissa was very responsible with her work, her life revolved around people important to her -- making them laugh or showing them love. I am such a driven task-master to myself, as if my life depended on finishing my to-do list, that I sometimes neglect important relationships.  Some people live life as though "the one with the most toys wins."  I often live life as if "the one with the most finished projects wins."  But really, all that counts is showing others we care, doing things for others to provide for them, to honor them, to nurture them, or to love them.  We can focus on others in a million different ways, but the focus is the same.  Loving other is what Jesus did- coming for us, dying for us, rising for us.  So I will continue to stay connected with Jesus, and allow His mind to focus me more on Him, more on others, and more secure in His provision for me.  Maybe a few minutes each day with the Risen Lord to reflect on the blessings of all the precious folks in my life will help me be a little less task-driven, and a little more like Christ. Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Often when I am hurting the most, missing Melissa or stressed by life events, God sends a miracle or two!  They are the subtle, little things so easily overlooked or dismissed, but after a while you begin to spot them: a phone call at just the right time, or news of something wonderful, or a word of admiration or appreciation that makes you feed special!  I received approval for a sabbatical this week, a precious opportunity to tackle hoped-for projects.  But miracles can be as little as a butterfly circling your head in the middle of March, in the middle if Maine, in the middle of a sentence about Melissa- which also happened this week!  Signs. Precious signs that God is with us, listening, loving, and taking care of even the small details of our lives when we trust Him.  So this week, I will continue to watch for His blessings, focusing my eyes of faith to spot His fingerprints, and be thankful, because all good things that come into my life are gifts from Heaven!  Including you!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Deep Joy

I was talking with my husband this week about one of Melissa's friends who has newly discovered Jesus.  She had always believed in God, but now she expresses a new, deep joy in having Jesus as her best friend. I thought about the difference. What Melissa's friend is experiencing, and Melissa experienced, and I've experienced is more than just believing in Jesus.  It's following Him.  It's making Him number one in your life.  Why go to such extremes?  Because only by following Jesus do you experience the thrill of a lifetime!  Only by taking His hand and allowing Him to lead, do you understand the excitement in having your words, your actions and your everyday existence fit into the eternal plans of the Creator of the Universe.  Following Jesus is living The Great Adventure- not always easy, but always rewarding!   As we draw closer to God, we feel a deep joy that defies circumstance, a deep love so immense, we cannot even comprehend it!  When I was discussing this difference with my husband, he compared it to people he knew in High School who got excited about drugs:  "Hey this is GREAT!  You've got to try this!!!"  It was a perfect analogy, because being with Jesus really does make you high!  Melissa says to God, "You spoil me so much!" (p.14, Melissa's Prayer Journal), even in the midst of horrific chemotherapy treatment!  She told her church, "Once asked, He (God) granted me this amazing peace to deal with my situation." The Power of Prayer.  Melissa wanted all of her friends to grow closer to God, to feel this amazing peace. She gave The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren to one of her friends two days before she died. She wanted everyone to feel the deep joy she had holding on to the hand of Jesus. As she ended one of her prayers to the Lord (p.8, Melissa's Prayer Journal), "Amazing, you are amazing. Nothing less and everything more. I love you. Melissa".

Saturday, March 13, 2010


"We are called to walk blindly, living only in Your light, Guided by Your hand alone, Without our human sight"...  is the first stanza of Melissa's poem titled, "Blinded".  It's one of my favorites, of the 44 poems that she wrote, none of which were meant to be read by others necessarily. Melissa wrote her intense feelings in verse form for her own healing.  When cancer frightened her, she prayed.  Often she prayed by writing to God, not only in her Prayer Journal , but also in her cancer journal.  
- I thought of this poem today because I had a really tough week struggling to trust God.  I let the pressures of the circumstances stress me to the point of an incapacitating headache.  Even though I prayed, I had a tough time trusting.  Yet, I survived the week and I just have to leave the outcome in God's hands. All that worry and anxiety was pointless!  Melissa ends her poem: "But if we lose sight of You, It's like losing a map, there is no way out, We're nothing but trapped;   So I'll stick by You,  I'll hold Your hand tight, Trusting You to guide me, With Your glorious light."...  My goal this week is to hold on tighter to the Hand of our God, just like Melissa did!!-  Blessings to you all!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Easy Conversation

I listened to Melissa's second church witness this week, "The Power of Prayer."  I have it on video, and gave a copy to a local church, who are using Melissa's Prayer Journal in several of their groups. As I watched Melissa deliver her speech again, I thought about how much I need to follow her advice. She talks about including God in our daily comings and goings. She describes an easy conversation that never ends, like an invisible playmate for a child, Someone always there who likes you!  The difference is that God is not just in our imaginations--He really IS there, and not only likes us, but loves us more deeply than we can imagine. And when we join in the conversation, we begin to see and feel His response and His love.  God blesses me when I least expect it in the most surprising ways, which I can more readily see when I do think to pray!  For example, as I searched just now for Melissa's witness on the web, I found a great book review of  Melissa's Prayer Journal--- What a GIFT!!  Book Review.   .....So, this week, I'll try to follow Melissa's example and pray when I'm driving to work, or doing the dishes, or brushing my teeth. I'll try to keep that dialog going, so my invisible Friend and Lord can keep my emotional tank filled with His love! Amen. Melissa's The Power Of Prayer

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I'm really good at making "to do" lists.  I make one almost every day.   I rarely accomplish all that I want to on that day, so the lists linger into the next day.  I rarely make lists of all the good things in my life, unless I discipline myself to do so. On the contrary, I so easily fall into ruminating about problems or a rude remark or a harsh word, allowing it to dwell in my mind like a slow poison seeping through my consciousness.  Melissa did just the opposite!  Even with big problems in her life, she made a point of  thanking God for all the blessings of the day. In her prayer journal, she would first bring a problem to God, and then turn to thanksgiving, filling her thoughts with all the good things in her life.  I'm trying to follow Melissa's example. When I find myself focusing on the negative, I pull out my gratitude journal and make a list of all the things for which I have to be thankful. It never fails to put me in the right mood and mindset.  Today, among many other things, I am grateful to you for reading this!  God bless!  Melissa's Lists

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Encountering Adversity

Aversity- bad things happen to good people, both tragic and small.  We live in a broken world and stuff happens, sometimes awful things happen.  Melissa is my role model for handling adversity: She clung to her God.  She refused to feel sorry for herself or see her cancer as "bad luck".  She chose to trust her God; she chose to believe He had a bigger plan; and she chose to live every day in the light of the Lord.  And what impact did that have?  It changed everything!  Rather than be bitter and angry,  Melissa felt God's love every day in little ways, because she had chosen to put on the eyes of faith!  She trusted God, not because she understood His plan, but because she felt His grace. She trusted in Who she knew, not what she understood.  As a result, all of us around her marveled at her power, her conviction, her strength, her ability to feel confident, even as her body was being destroyed.  She told her friends, "Guys, I know where I am going."   She was not a victim of circumstance, but a precious daughter held in the hands of her Lord.  So, when things go wrong for me, I try to see them as part of a plan.  Rather than allowing circumstances to dictate my life, I choose to trust our Faithful Creator, just as Melissa did!   see Melissa's Faith

Sunday, February 14, 2010

God is Love

Melissa always loved Valentine's Day, even as a little girl.  She got excited just anticipating being able to tell her family and special loved ones how much she cared.  She would write poems, make cards, even sing songs!  Although Melissa was always a romantic and loved red roses and sweet songs, she also knew the best love came from her Heavenly Father, and wanted everyone to feel this real love as well.  The arms that never fail, the acceptance that's truly unconditional, the forgiveness that never ends, the patience that is never worn out, and the depth of love beyond our imaginations all comes from above.  Valentine's Day provides a lovely reminder to demonstrate our love to those so precious in our lives. But every day, gives us a chance to see God's love for each of us in every blessing in our lives.  Hope you are feeling so very deeply loved today by your Heavenly Father. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gifts from Heaven

Melissa wrote many times about the little gifts from heaven in her everyday events that cheered her up and made her feel loved.  I've had several of those gifts today, and its only ten in the morning!  They come through other people, circumstances, just special little treats that may seem coincidence to the by-stander, but those with the eyes of faith can clearly see God's fingerprints!  I find my spiritual vision is more acute when I am hurting for some reason, feeling not quite up to the tasks in front of me.  That's when God reaches down and sprinkles blessings, and I just know I am loved by my heavenly Father.  My gifts today came during my time in Church.  Being focused on God helps to open those channels of communication, and allow God's love to reach us more freely. So, I'll keep praying and keep attentive to the gifts, that I can be thankful to our faithful Creator and Lord. Amen.   A Gift from Melissa 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Keeping Perspective

I so easily loose my sense of balance!  Deadlines hit, demands spiral and I begin to see everything as urgent.  But Melissa had the right priorities: put God first and everything else falls in place!  Once God is at the top of my list, everything else becomes less important in light of eternity, and my blood pressure immediately goes down!  Keeping perspective means focusing on all that matters, loving others and drinking in the presence of God.  It's a constant struggle for me to maintain that balance, but God is always there to catch me as I tumble, and set me back on track with a smile on my face after I fall. Thank  you, Lord!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Feeling Helpless

The only news we hear this week describes the unspeakable suffering and tragedy in Haiti.  Who can see the magnitude of destruction and hear the voices of desperation without feeling helpless, inadequate and overwhelmed?  When our concerns become too big for us to handle, we need Someone bigger.  Prayer is a very real and powerful intervention, for just as the angel Gabriel told Mary, nothing is impossible with God.  Our financial resources may be limited, but prayers we can give endlessly!  Melissa's prayers were full of lists of requests to God on behalf of  her friends, especially their faith.  So, let's lift up the people in Haiti, asking not only for physical healing but also for emotional strength, hope, and faith to see the arms of God even in the midst of devastation.  God comes quickly near to those who call to Him, just as Melissa found out the night she was diagnosed with cancer.  Bringing the people of Haiti before the throne of Heaven is one strong action we can take every day!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Perfect Timing

I'm always impatient with myself and how much I can get accomplished in a day.  But God's timing is perfect. Sometimes, even my inability to meet my own schedule is all part of the big plan, the tapestry God is weaving is my life. I gave two "Melissa" gifts yesterday, and I didn't even realize how perfectly they were connected.  But God knew, and Melissa knew.  As the gifts were unwrapped the miraculous connection was revealed.  How perfect!  .... So, the secret to perfect timing is to pray, and listen, and follow that inner voice, and trust, continuing to look for the fingerprints of God in all the little "coincidences" of our lives.