Saturday, November 19, 2011


Living with so much abundance, I take for granted a million blessings each day. Instead of living with gratitude, I focus on my worries and concerns, my mind ruled by my to-do list.  When does gratitude come naturally to me?  When someone bails me out of a tough situation, I am grateful. When someone forgives me for messing up, I am grateful.  When anyone gives me positive reinforcement, I am grateful.  When I pray, I am grateful, because my mind focuses on He who sustains me and gives me everything!  Since living gratefully escapes my natural tendencies, I have to work at it.  I try to write down five things for which I am grateful each day. I plug prayer into my daily schedule.  I want to talk about the "highlights" of my day more over dinner, because focusing on the positive in our lives deeply enriches every moment!   Sharing our positive thoughts with others, giving positive reinforcement, deepens the quality of our lives in immeasurable and profound ways, bonding us to others and fueling the goodness in our hearts and theirs.  Thanksgiving -- truly being thankful for all the good in our lives and the good in those around us-- is absolutely magical!  I pray your celebration of gratitude will be filled with the warm feelings of well-being that comes from truly counting our blessings and giving thanks to Him who provides it all!  Thank you so much for reading this! -  JB

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

God's Timing

I was feeling out of sorts, but couldn't really identify anything specific...just a little grumpy, forgetful, that not-quite-right feeling.  As I went for a morning walk in the sunshine, I realized the source: the coming and going of precious family members triggered my loss of Melissa in an incredibly subtle way.  I didn't consciously feel sad, but somewhere deep down my soul was saying, "Where's Melissa?"   Slight symptoms of grief were plaguing me, without me even knowing it.  I love the way identifying a problem half fixes it!!  Once I realized why I was feeling a little blue, I could accept it and feel better!!  I grabbed my cell phone to call the friend who had the insight to share with me this common experience of grieving parents: feeling sad when other family members come in and out of your home.  I was surprised to hear her voice, since I assumed I would just get her voice mail.  And guess what she was feeling at the time?  Right!  Her son was  home for the weekend, and she was wondering why she was not feeling more happy and energetic!  I reminded her of her own insight that she had shared with me a few years earlier.  "So, do you think you were meant to make this phone call?"  she asked, teasingly.  We had both seen the fingerprints of our Lord all over that timing.  Then I confessed to her, "And God had to tell me twice to phone you!!"   It was true.  The thought had occurred to me to call her at the beginning of my walk, but I dismissed it.  I finally called the second time the thought came to mind.  If I had listened to the Holy Spirit the first time, I could have felt better sooner!   We never know how or when God will speak to us, but we do know He is always there, always ready to hold us, always our loving and faithful Creator who longs to bless us!  Hope you hear the sweet whisper of God today! - And follow His leading! - Blessings JBM

Saturday, September 24, 2011


These past few weeks have been crazy at work. I've felt overwhelmed with demands.  As I drove into work one morning, I found myself practicing a very effective stress relief technique: very slow deep breaths, exhaling to the slow count of five.  It helps me every time to counteract the stress hormones causing my blood pressure to increase, my muscles to tense, or my stomach to knot.  This time I found myself transitioning from the deep breaths into singing praise songs.  Guess what?  Singing does the same thing as the deep breathing.  It makes you take those deep breaths and let them out slowly over the verse, but with one extra important benefit: you focus on God!  My praise songs put my mind on the source of all peace, all strength, all hope, and all love!  By time I pulled into the garage, I was smiling.  My circumstances were just as pressured, but my blood pressure was down, and my mood was completely transformed.  Focusing on God's greatness and love reminded me that no challenge is beyond His reach. Nothing will come at me that He and I can't handle together. What a difference!  I just had to pass this one on to you--- sing praises whenever those pressures pile up.  The physical, emotional, and mental health benefits are enormous!  Then again, that's just how God works! - Peace, always-  JB

Monday, September 5, 2011

Praise Reports

I find I tend to focus on the things I'm worried about, even in prayer.  I'm often too slow to bring my concerns to God. I often stew about them before it even occurs to me to pray about them!  Yet, once God answers my prayers, I say "Thank you" and move back to my next problem!  It's so easy to be focused on the broken stuff in our lives rather than the blessings!!  Melissa shared the same thought in one of her prayer poems: "I'm slower to say "thank you" than I am so say "please". There is actually a whole body of psychological literature finding the importance of training our minds to the positive, but this is an old Biblical principle- Phillipians 4:8.   When I was in college, our Christian fellowship packed a small dorm room full of students at 9:00 pm each night for a 15 minute prayer meeting.  We started with "praise reports and prayer requests."  What a great way to train our minds to remember the goodness and faithfulness of our Lord!  Although I have written recently about my daughter's trip to Asia, I neglected to report that she not only returned in one piece, but with amazing self-confidence and loaded with new talent and skills!  God more than answered my prayers!  So, when we focus on how the Lord has been faithful to us in the past, our minds are fortified for trusting God in the future!  We serve a faithful Creator, a Loving Shepherd, a Trustworthy God.  So, I will continue to write down five blessings for which I am grateful every day, first thing in the morning!  Hope your day is filled with praise! - Blessings, JB  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gifts from Heaven

I was blessed with a chance to honor Melissa in a dedication ceremony for a terrace in her honor. The whole occasion, although casual and brief, was a big deal in my life.  I crave the chance to talk about my child and hold on to those precious memories, which make her feel closer.  At the same time, the chance to honor her memory brought back to my conscious the pain of not having her here in person.  I found myself back in mild grief: a bit distracted and sad.  When I'm feeling the loss of my precious Princess, God sends me just the encouragement I need.  He is SO faithful!!  This time, the comfort came in the form of a comment by one of the Gordon College professors.  I had recently sent her a copy of Melissa's Prayer JournalShe had replied with a lovely note, but I didn't  really understand her message in writing.   I had to hear her explain in person how much this book helped her in the past two months in order for me to comprehend the power of her gift to me.  She had just lost a family member to cancer.  Melissa's prayers, , Melissa's positive focus, and  Melissa's faith showed her how to deal positively with this horrific loss.  She had read  Melissa's Prayer Journal  several times, because it was so helpful to her.  I was so deeply touched!  Even I under-estimate the power of Melissa's prayers!  But God knows just how He wants to use each of us to touch the lives of others and bring them closer to Him.  My Gracious Lord gave me this encouragement that Melissa's prayers are continuing to touch lives and help people, and the message came just when I needed it: when I was hurting and missing my daughter.  Thank you, Dear God, for all your mercy and grace and love!  Just as Melissa said, "I'd be lost without You.".  Praise our Gracious God! - JB

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Role Model

I had a precious opportunity to honor Melissa in a brief ceremony dedicating a terrace in her memory.  As her friends shared their memories of her, I was struck again by how much she reached out to others, even in the last months and days of her life.  She had a clear mission: to support other people and to share God's love.  She lived this mission at every opportunity until her last breath.  When time gets short, our priorities become more clear, as did Melissa's.  I tend to get so caught up in my own concerns, my own "to-do" list, making it so difficulty to focus on others.  When God places a need in my path, I get frustrated at the interruption of my plans, rather than seeing this opportunity as God's provision for my ministry to others.  Melissa had no such cloudy vision.  She knew every interaction was another chance to give God's love to others, and she made each contact count.... every day she lived. She coped with her lungs filling with cancer by making every day count to bring God's love to a hurting world.  I want my focus to be the same.  I want to realize petty, little worries have no place in my life.  Each day is a precious opportunity to give comfort and love to every person we meet.  I pray for that razor-sharp focus on being an Ambassador for Christ, which only possible through constant connection with the Holy Spirit. So, I'll keep trying to stay connected with prayer, renewed by God's Word, and focused on what really matters: sharing God's love.  Blessings-  JB

Friday, August 5, 2011


I've been struggling with God...... again.  I've actually found myself arguing with Him.  I argue with God fairly often. It gets me nowhere.  I don't recommend it.  This time the struggle is over time.... again.  I want time to do what I want to do.  I fail to recognize His sovereignty in my life to give me time I need to do His will, not mine.  Of course, my failure to acknowledge God's control over my circumstances is just another form of rebellion that I don't want to admit to.  I know in my head that He will provide what I need to do His will.  The hard part is submitting to His plan, not mine!!  I want to accomplish what I want to accomplish and then I'll be glad to do His bidding as well.  The Lord doesn't work that way.  I have to get my head in line with His.  How do I do this?  How do I let go of precious goals and hand them over?   First I choose to obey, secondly, I pray out loud and hand my goals to God and, lastly, I ask for His help with my feelings to follow: His help letting go.  I actually got to a place of peace this week by following that three-step recipe.  Of course,  I have to repeat these steps over and over, because I'm so stubborn and have such a hard time giving things over to the Lord.  I am happy to report that prayer works, again and again.  This is how Melissa was able to give over her entire life,-- how long she had to live, -- even when she had her whole life ahead of her.  Prayer. Asking God to help us to trust.  And He does. So, I'll keep praying.  Hope you do, too!  Blessings - JB

Friday, July 29, 2011

Letting Go

I've been practicing my specialty this week--- fretting!   I'm a pro at worrying about things, especially my to-do list!!  I see these next couple of weeks as my last chance to complete my second book of Melissa's writings before I get swallowed up in the academic year.   My window of opportunity for 2011 is quickly shutting for this precious project.  This morning, I gave it over to God......again.  Reading Oswald Chambers brought me back to the enlightenment:  my life and goals do not belong to me.  I am serving my God, and He is in charge of what gets done and when.  The Lord will give me time and strength to complete that which is needed when it is His time.  And God knows when the world is ready for this book, not me.  I have to chose to let go and let God take control, which for me is a constant struggle.    Although painful, letting go is also the only way to peace.  Amazing how Melissa kept that perspective, when her time was really getting short!  I need to follow her example. So, I'm sharing this little patch of peace with you, while my head is still in a good place.  As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, I'll have a good day!  I hope  yours is good, too.  - Blessings - JB

Monday, July 25, 2011


So I pretty much woke up in a panic early this morning..... way too early this morning.  I am deeply, deeply grateful that my panic had nothing to do with a family member, at least not one on earth.  My daughter in Thailand is thriving, thanks to a life-time supply of amoxicillin.  No, this time I'm worried about meeting my goals in the next three weeks, which is when my summer ends.  I have a ton of work to do to set up my course that I teach, but that will get done.  I'm worried about Melissa's Window,  a precious volume of Melissa's journal and diaries in the last 20 months of her life.  I started this in January 2007, taking a 50% cut in pay in order to have time off to complete it.  I never finish, because other urgent demands came up.  I have been waiting four years,.... four long years,...... for another block of time to shut out the world and complete this book.  My sabbatical gave me that golden opportunity, once I had completed my promised sabbatical work.  But I just finished meeting with all of my book reviewers for Melissa's Window, who informed me that I have a ton of work left to do on this book.  I mean another mountain to climb, and only 3 weeks to do it along with my usual course preparation.  Of course, the answer to my panic over this book is the same as the answer to my worry about my daughter:   Isaiah 26:3    The solution is the same, no matter what the problem, the anxiety, the challenge, the worry--- focus on Jesus!  I have to maintain that eye-to-eye contact with the invisible, if I want to remain calm, not to mention pleasant ;-)  ( I'm afraid my worried state fails to bring out the best in me with my loved ones.)  So, here I am again. Right where God wants me to be.  Incredibly dependent on His Peace.  Trusting Him with Melissa's story in the same way that she did....... totally.  Melissa's my role model.  If she can trust Him with her life, I can trust God with her book and His timing with it.  All I have to do is keep looking UP! - Blessings & Peace,  JB

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I'm about to send my only surviving child to the farthest corner of the world by herself for the first time.  This is not a comforting feeling. Yes, she is in college and will be a part of a reputable program, but she will be far from my reach.  Any difficulty she encounters, she has to handle without me. I literally have to hand her over to God. As I was driving to New York to visit Melissa's grave site, I had an "ahaah" moment.  The light bulb went on over my head!  A verse came into my mind, "You will keep him (her) in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because (s)he trusts in you."  Isaiah 26:3.  I had to look up the verse, because I had no idea where this came from, but there it was in my head.  I remembered Melissa and the incredible peace she had even has her life came to a close.  I know that peace came from her constant praying. She stayed connected to the source of peace. She stayed centered, focused on God, and that gave her "perfect peace", just like the verse says.  So, what is my challenge during the next 7 weeks with my daughter not even on email most of the time?  I must keep my mind centered on Christ, because I trust God.  She is, after all, his child, not mine.  So, I hand her back to her Loving Father who actually is even more concerned about her well-being than I am, as impossible as that is for my pea brain to imagine!  I hand her over to our Faithful Creator, and keep my eyes focused on the invisible.  The God who loves her even more than I do will not fail!  Thank you for journeying with me!  Blessings- JB

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I keep a journal of miracles, little things that go beyond coincidence, also called "signs".  I began this journal shortly after Melissa went to heaven, when I noticed so many wonderful signs giving me comfort, like the Mylar balloons sending us messages. But yesterday, I've been struck by a bigger miracle: the miracle of God's presence inside of us!  I know that sounds so corny, but I've been listening to sermons by Ray Stedman on "Basic Needs". He emphasizes that the basic message of Christianity is not just forgiveness, but God living inside of us as we accept Jesus.  Think about this for a minute.  God actually wants to enter into us and be a part of US!  Is anything more valuable than the divine?  We are part-takers of a divine nature by God's grace.  I think this is the miracle Melissa kept telling her friends and everyone who would listen:  God LOVES YOU!!  She just wanted to shout it from roof-tops, because God's love was so very real to her.  God's presence living inside of her, not because she deserved it, but because she just turned to Him in her need. When she talked about "the miracles of God's love," she really meant that phrase, even though we have heard it so many times we no longer realize the power.  So, I'm certainly inadequate to express it any better than my Princess.  I just encourage you to look for those little "more than coincidence" signs in you. Remember that the signs are tiny clues to the greater truth that the Holy God of the Universe loves you more than you can begin to comprehend, and is ready to really be a part of your life, as you invite Him in!  God bless you!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I've been reading Melissa's journal that she kept in the Fall of 2002, when she was first diagnosed with cancer.  The night she learned of her disease, she came home and cried to God.  The Lord came to her in a brilliant light through her window in the middle of the night.  There was  a peace that came over her, and never left her.  In her journal, she repeatedly writes about acquaintances remarking about her peace and her friends seeing her so changed.  Yet, she doesn't feel changed. She's just going about her business being Melissa, but feeling incredibly loved by God in a way that just astounds her!  In the Fall of 2002, after major abdominal surgery and 3 months into horrific chemotherapy that stripped her of even her eyelashes and eyebrows, Melissa states "I'm the happiest I've ever been!"  This statement from a popular party girl in High School, who always got attention for her stunning looks and quick wit.  Despite the suffering of her treatment, - she did suffer - God's love for her surpassed the worse pain and changed her for the better without her even realizing it.  God's love is really remarkable. Melissa also writes about how all relationships need time and effort, and our relationship with God is no different.  So that's the key. Stay prayerful. Fill our minds with God's words. And keep looking up-- to the source of Melissa's joy, her Lord.  Happy Easter. 

Friday, March 25, 2011


I'm writing a book on positive grieving, a survival manual for mothers who have lost a child.  You know what word I use over and over?  Forgive.  Forgive others for not knowing what to say or for saying the wrong thing. Forgive family members for fighting and emotionally withdrawing and being irritable, because that's what grief will do if not expressed honestly and directly.  Most of all, forgive yourself for everything: for all past mistakes with the loved one and all current mistakes with everyone else because you are in deep grief.  Forgiveness is such a critical discipline in the path to healing and healthy relationships. Somehow, Melissa seemed to automatically forgive others shortcomings, especially in the last year of her life.  Maybe knowing each day is precious makes us more aware of the importance of letting go of petty irritations. At the same time, Melissa also let people know when they owed her an apology, which makes for honest, close relationships.
        Our faith tells us that Jesus died to provide us with unlimited forgiveness.  We have to choose to believe and choose to forgive, especially ourselves.  Forgiveness is a choice, just as faith is a choice!  If we "can't forgive", its because we have chosen not to forgive, but won't admit that to ourselves.  Prayer is the pathway to forgiveness, both of others and oneself.  If we pray sincerely for God's help to forgive others, He will help us to do so.  And we must pray also for forgiveness for ourselves.  Holding on to guilt or anger is simply destructive.  Both anger and guilt eat away our souls.  Choose forgiveness as often as you need to do so.  And allow the peace of Christ to reign in you, no matter how many mistakes you make!  Peace. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Positive Grieving

That title may seem like an oxymoron, right?  What can be positive about grieving?  But we do have choices in our grieving.  We can choose to bury our emotions and pretend they are not there, which is largely what our culture tells us to do.  I strongly encourage you to avoid this mistake.  A better choice is to express your appropriate sadness in tears, memories, writing, talking, praying, and honoring that person. The pain of loss has to be felt, expressed and released in order for us to heal.  Holding it in creates a huge boil under our skin that just continues to get more inflamed and painful.  Boils have to be lanced for all that bad stuff to be released, and then our bodies begin to heal.  Your instincts will tell you how to release this pain, just listen and follow your heart! 
If you have lost someone important to you, I highly recommend visiting the grave site as often as needed. Yes, it will be painful, but it will also give you peace.  Several of my daughter's friends traveled to her grave site with me a few years ago. We were all apprehensive about how the day would impact us, myself included.  I felt responsible to take care of these young people.  We spent several hours in the summer under a tree painting rocks with love notes for Melissa to leave there. We each took turns at her grave.  We all left with a great sense of peace.  Although being at Melissa's grave was sad, it was also comforting!  We all had a chance to talk to her and feel closer and express our affection.  We had a chance to release some of our sadness, and returned feeling lighter in heart.  So, do not fear the pain of sorrow and sadness, and do not feel guilty for feeling such sadness.  Our certainty of heaven gives us hope, but nothing takes away the pain of loosing a loved one, which is good pain!  It is the pain of love!  And feeling this pain just makes your heart grow into amazing dimensions, all the more capable of loving others!  So, embrace the pain. Feel it through, without self-pity, but with the knowledge that this is where you are meant to be.  Our God has an amazing plan and endless ability to turn our all tears into something wonderful.  Blessings on your day!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


In my last blog, I describe God's awesome mercy on me.  He answered my desperate plea for help in writing a book.  He not only answered it- but did so in record time!  The Lord loves to make it clear, He can do anything!  Can you guess what I did when this book miraculously materialized in about 2 weeks time?  Yes, I rejoiced.  I was flooded with relief, as if my life had just been spared.  Then I started to pat myself on the back!!  "Hey,  I got the whole thing done in about 2 weeks!!" (OK, it was only a first, rough draft, but at least my thoughts were down on paper.)   Can you guess how the Lord reacted to my pride? -- Right, I felt the Holy Spirit say, "Excuse me? - WHO wrote the book?"  How quickly I forget who to credit when my work is done.  How easily we forget our need for God when things are looking up! Melissa never fell into this trap in the last years of her life. She always saw the invisible sword swinging over her head.  She was always keenly aware of her need for God.  And we are in no less need, although we may be ignorant of what swords swing over our heads!  We are all dependent on God's grace and mercy. Every day is a gift from God.  Everything we do is a result of God's gifts of time and talent to us.  So let's be thankful and rejoice in His love and mercy! - Blessings on your day!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fear or Faith

I have been challenged with an overwhelming task: writing a book.  I did this to myself, mind you.  I deliberately took time off of my usual job to write a book.  It sounded like a good idea at the time, until I sat down and looked at that blank screen. Then I wanted to shoot myself!! What made me think I could write a book?  Had I lost my mind??  Fear paralyzed me.  So I threw myself at the mercy of God.  He sent me comfort and direction in a sermon, a phone call from a friend, and my dear husband.  I started writing, still racked with insecurity, but I just started.   Two weeks later, I was done.  The entire book was completed in it's first draft.  I can't begin to tell you how relieved I felt!   The Lord answered my prayer, but first I had to sit down and take the first steps, even though I was still afraid.  I just started writing in faith that He would give me words. And He did! We have to take the first steps on our own.  When Jesus healed people, he told them to first do something- "Get up".  The healing happened when the sick obeyed Jesus with their first movement.  We have to respond to God by following His words, surrendering to His will, doing what we know we are suppose to do!  The difference between living a life of fear or faith is choosing to follow Jesus- wherever He leads.  The miracles will just happen.  Melissa knew better than anyone taking steps of faith when life is uncertain.  That's why prayer was her constant companion, the most effective way to stay calm and feel God's peace.  May you live this week with the eyes of faith, taking each step with Jesus.  Amen!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

God Bless You!

I've recently heard a couple of sermons from different Pastors on the importance of blessing others.  My own Pastor encouraged us to say "Bless you" more often, perhaps beginning on Thanksgiving Day.  I took this suggestion to heart, and mentioned each person at our Thanksgiving table by name in our prayer before the meal.  Afterward, I could tell that it made a difference to everyone there: the power of being named and the power of being blessed.  So, I highly recommend praying for blessings with others and for others.  Blessing friends and family in this way is the easy part. It feels great and people appreciate it. The harder part is blessing people who you really want to smack!  The other sermon talked about blessing those who curse you.  Of course, once I heard this sermon, those words came back in my mind when I found myself hurt and angry by disrespectful communication at different times by different people. Blessing those who hurt you is a lot harder!  It's not something you do with them, but rather for them.  Blessing our "enemies" is equally if not more important and incredibly powerful.  I don't know if it has much impact on these disrespectful people, but it has a huge impact on me.  My stress is lower, my blood pressure returns to normal, and I can smile again.  I think Melissa knew that when we bless others, we get blessed in the process. That's why she spent all of her time focusing on giving to others, and more determined to do so as her time grew short. So, as much as it's a struggle, I will continue to bless people-- both those I love and those I'd love to strangle. Because in giving the blessing, we get back so much more!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions are the topic of discussion this weekend. We crave new beginnings, a fresh start!  We want to forget our past mistakes and failures, charging into a new year with hopes of a better chance at success!  I have a big project ahead of me.  Something I am committed to doing, but fear that it will not turn out good enough.  I know the way to make my new year dreams and goals come true: team up with the Living God.  Plug into the Power Source.  Join the winning team.  I admit, the price is high.  I have to give up what I want to do and put God in the driver's seat. Of course, any goal that helps me be more physically or mentally healthy is automatically backed by my Creator who wants us to be all we can be--all we were meant to be-- all we were created to be!  God always has our best interest at heart, but only HE can see the road ahead to know which way to go.  Here's the cool part: He will take us on the best adventure of our lives, and guarantee us success!  As long as I am are following Jesus, I cannot fail!  Miracles happen when we follow God's leading: (See Acts 12).  Melissa knew the power of following God, and prayed for His help to do so continually (See Melissa's Prayer Journal ). Melissa also felt the blessings of God's arms around her every time she prayed!  So, this year, I'm putting prayer on the top of my New Year Resolution list.  I'm joining the A team & putting God first in my life.  I'm going to post this verse in my kitchen: Joshua 1:7-9.  I will tackle this project, and hang on tight to Jesus. Amen!