Monday, May 27, 2013


I have met two people in my life that I cannot forget.  Ever.  They're not normal.  They're utterly amazing.  When you're in their presence, you can only marvel at them.  And at God.

I believe I spoke about Nick Vijicic a while back on my blog.  Look, I have a bit of a bad memory, so if I didn't, then do yourself one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself and go to his website at  Amazing!  He was born without limbs.  Without limbs.  OK, picture that for just a moment.  You have no arms.  And no legs.  Can you picture yourself or your child without the basics of hands and feet?  Every day.  I'll wait.  OK.  But guess what Nick's motto is? "No limbs?  No limits!"  Today, he is an international motivational speaker who shares his struggles as well as his passion for the Lord any chance he gets.

I had the privilege of meeting Nick a few years ago.  If I'm honest, I was terribly scared to meet him as I couldn't  imagine seeing someone like this.  As I stood there before this beautiful man (oh, he's a looker!) and was being introduced to him, I did thee most STUPIDEST thing I could have done.  I reached out to shake his hand.  Who does that?  Me!  I wanted to die!  I immediately pulled my hand back and I'm sure my face said, "I AM SUCH AN IDIOT!"  And what did he say to me with a warm, beautiful smile?  "Give me a hug."    You fall in love with the guy instantly.

Well, I won't say any more about him because you just need to go to his 
website and read his story.  He actually lives in our community as his ministry is across the street from Costco.  He's a local!  We've seen him out at Chipotle (the kids and I took a picture with him while he was eating a burrito -- I'm sure he loved that!) and that was my screen saver for the longest time.  

But I will tell you this.  I have heard him speak several times.  And each time, I am utterly convinced of this one truth:  that God does not make mistakes.  When Nick was born, I can bet you that every single solitary person (including his parents) said, "What was God thinking?  How could anything good ever come of this little boy's life?"  Go listen to Nick's testimony.  You will be utterly convinced of this truth too.

OK, so last month, Donna and I were asked to speak at our church's spring event about our ministry His Flower Girls.  We were not the main guest speakers, but we spoke right after them.  And being guest speakers, they sat us at the very front table closest to the stage.  We were so close to it, in fact, that my weird brain kept thinking, "Boy, I can see up everyone's noses!"  We were that close!  (By the way, in case you were on stage that day and reading this blog, there were no "bats in your cave" as my daughter likes to say!)  

The main guest speakers that day were Linda and Jen Barrick, a mother and daughter from Virginia who, along with Linda's husband and son, were hit head on by a drunk driver just miles from their home after one of Jen's choir performances at church.   They all sustained such terrible injuries that each one of them had to be transported to four different trauma hospitals.  Jen, just 15 at the time, sustained the worst.  She had a severe brain injury and wasn't expected to live through the night.  Her prognosis was pretty horrendous.

OK, six years later, they're standing before us on stage sharing their testimony.  I  have never been more captivated by a story in my life.  Truly.  Jen was unable to speak, eat or see in the hospital, yet she was able to sing praise songs letter perfect and recite scriptures that were tucked away in her heart since before the accident.  Perfectly.  Though she didn't know her name or recognize her own mom in the hospital, she began praying outloud as if she was uninjured.  A miracle.  NOT normal.  The hospital staff was freaked out to say the least.

OK, well I won't tell you their entire story, but I want to tell you that I witnessed Jesus radiate from Jennifer Barrick that afternoon.  And remember, I had a ring-side seat.  Her face literally had a glow come over it that was captivating and when she spoke and prayed, I sobbed.  Can't imagine how many napkins and Kleenex I reached for.    She closed her story by signing the words to the song, Lord You're Holy.  As the spotlight was on her face, her joy was off the charts and she looked as if Jesus was the only one she was performing for.  It was a sight I will never, ever forget.

I remember sitting there at our table thinking, "Lord, thank you for allowing Donna and I the opportunity of speaking here today.  But I don't care if one person liked us or listened to us, for I am just thankful that you arranged this day for me to witness You through them."

When the event was over, I bought their book, "Miracle for Jen."  I waited in line to meet her (which I rarely do -- and then totally kick myself afterward for not waiting in line) and then I knelt before Jen who was sitting in a chair by her table of books.  

With tears flooding my eyes, I said, "Jen, would you write down your most favorite scripture in my book?"   She sat there for a minute, thought about it and then wrote, "God has amazing plans in store for your life.  Jesus is going to use you in ways you never dreamed possible!  God is faithful!  Nahum 1:7.  Love, Jen Barrick, 1 Cor. 2:9.  

As I walked away, I opened the book to see what she had written to me.  It blew me away.  You see, I already know that God is using my cancer and my journey and my faith in ways I never dreamed possible.  Jen's words to me confimed that the Lord is not finished with me yet.  And that excites and humbles me to my core.

In fact, I photocopied Jen's words to me and framed them.  The Lord's promise, through Jen Barrick, is something I will stand on.  Come good news or bad news.  And I know there will be amazing news in His perfect time.

Please visit Linda and Jen Barrick's website Hope Out Loud at  And if I can play Oprah for a moment -- If I had to start a book club this summer, this is the book I would select.  (My dad, who is not a reader, is loving it!)  Barnes and Noble carries it.  Go run out and grab one.  In fact, the first person who emails me and tells me that they want to read it, I will buy you one.  If you live near, I will leave it on my front porch (please knock and say "hi" if I'm home).  If you live far, it will be in the mail to you on Wednesday.  I hope to receive many emails that read, "Barnes and Noble is sold out!"  Good -- let's get them to re-order and re-stock those shelves!

I couldn't close out this email (a very long one, I'm sorry) without extending our family's deepest gratitude to every person who is or who has served in our military.  We thank you and we thank your families on this special day.  If I lived close to an airport, I would park myself in a terminal every Memorial Day and give hugs out to every military man and woman I saw.  That's the least I could do.

So who's unforgettable in your life?  I'd love to know...

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Special Interview...

So last week I was asked to speak to some moms at my church.  They had a guest speaker series called Trials and Triumphs.  Well, those are just my all-time favorite stories to hear.  Especially when God is involved.  I could listen to those all day long.  Every day.  24/7.  

So I got up on that stage and spoke about my trials.  Oh, I had more than one you know.  Cancer being the obvious one.  An empty, unfulfilled life being the other.  Remember that commercial from years ago with the really handsome guys dressed in those beautiful tuxedos and the song/tag line was, “What a difference a day makes?”  Well, what a difference five and a half years make. 

So I shared how miserable I was.  And then I shared how guilty I was because I had no real obvious reasons for being so miserable.  On the outside. The inside?  A totally different story.

I then shared how I re-dedicated my life to God over five years ago. Re-prioritized my life.  Putting God first, my family second and myself way, way back in the background.  A radically new concept for me.   “How can this bring me joy?” I thought as I went to bed that first night.  Then voila.  My life was flooded with joy.  And peace.  Hmmm.  Why didn’t I do this sooner?  Probably because I was really self-centered.  Thought I knew best.  What a complete idiot.

I also shared a few scriptures that I have leaned on through my trials.  And I’m proud to say that I have memorized them too.  You know, with chemo brain and all, that's a pretty amazing feat.  I’m coming clean though -- they’re only 8 and 11 words each.  A two year old could do that.  But I'm still proud of my chemo brain remembering abilities.

And then I got to the end of my testimony.  And this is where I thought it got good.    

I shared with that room full of moms that I don’t believe God created us just to be moms.  Or even to be happy moms.  He created us to glorify Him.  To bring others to Him.   To live in such a way that others come to know Him because they know us.  And then guess what?  We become joyful moms.

I then told them that I had asked my kids probably six years ago to list Mommy’s five favorite things on a piece of paper.  My seven and five-year-old both agreed on, “chocolate almond ice cream from Baskin Robbins, cats, decorating, flowers and magazines.”  They nailed it.  If we were on a game show, we would have won the grand prize.  But that was not what I wanted them to say.  

I now want to hand them another piece of paper and say, “Now what are Mom's favorite things?”   The problem is I don’t think I have the courage to do it because I’m not 100% sure of what would make the list and what wouldn’t.  Remember, I’m still a work in progress.  

But the night before my speech, Jake had interviewed me for a school project.  He had to interview someone “of great faith.”   And it touched my heart beyond measure that he had chosen me.  Years earlier, he would have chosen my sister.  Hands down.  Because she is the one who had led me to the Lord when I was 10.  She is the one who writes him cards sprinkled with scripture for his birthday and Easter.  She is the one who wants to be in the hospital rooms of those she knows and those she doesn’t know before they pass away.  So she can bring them to Jesus.  She's the one not of great faith, but of tremendous faith.

But Jake had asked me.  In fact, the cherry on top is that last year one of his best friends had interviewed me for the same project and this year, another one of his best friends had asked to interview me too.  This momma was one happy girl!   Guaranteed, a few years earlier, my sister would have been fielding all those questions for those boys.

So my life is changing.  And my kids are taking notice.  Do I still yell at them when they don’t put their stuff away or conveniently forget to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher?  Oh absolutely.  Am I a ray of sunshine that blinds them every morning?  Oh please.  But as Chelsea Cameron says, “new nature vs. old nature.”  I try and always remember that.   "I'm not what I should be.  I'm not what I could be.  But I'm not what I used to be."  Another famous Chelsea saying that I'm trying to live by.

So imagine my delight when my son handed me his written essay last night.  It was his thoughts following our videotaped interview.  I read it with tears in my eyes.   In fact, I continue to read it this morning.  Hands down, it’s thee most special thing I’ve ever received.  (With the exception of God’s promises to me.)

The two best sentences of the whole essay are these: 

"She wants everybody to know that she is a Christian."
(Yes, it's true -- I do!)


"I plan to work at it as hard as I can to become as close to God as possible."

That's my boy.  

Please don’t read this blog post as a vehicle to toot my own horn.  That’s so not the intention.  I share this with you to let you know that God can change hearts.  And I’m talkin’ first off about mine.  And He can change yours too.  To be a mom whose faith is trickling into my children delights me to no end.  My purpose, through this trial, is to deepen my family’s faith.  What better legacy can a mom leave?  Do I want my kids to remember how clean I tried to keep the house, how large my hydrangeas grew in the backyard or how many magazines I could read during a single sitting?  Nope.  I want them to remember that Jesus is there to carry them through the trials of their lives that are sure to come their way.  There’s just no escaping them.   But when they face a trial or two, I pray they will lean on their faith. 

 Just like their Momma does.