What’s grace got to do with it?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but will sometimes pick a word to define the year – a tradition my sister started years ago. This year, my word is grace. (Not sure I even remembered to do this last year. I think the year got off to such a bad start I didn’t even bother.)

Why grace, you ask? I’m not even sure myself. But after finding out my mom’s cancer had spread to her lungs which meant she had stage 4 cancer and was then given a time frame for how long she would live, I was devastated. I found myself sitting in church hoping to find some sort of encouraging word or miracle or just some sort of hope to cling on to. During the worship, I was just sitting there trying not to cry. Not singing. Praying. They were singing some song and the word grace popped out at me.

Later, as I sat there – again, not listening very well to the pastor – just praying during the service, the word grace popped out at me again. I left feeling kind of confused. I’m praying my little heart out about my mom’s cancer and the word that I keep hearing is grace. But I shrugged it off. It’s a church, they talk about grace, but it didn’t really make sense to me as far as my mom’s cancer goes.

A week or so later, I was telling a friend about my mom’s cancer. She prayed God’s grace on my mom and our family. As I was walking to my car, I glanced down at a text from my sister, also about grace. I’m feeling like I’m supposed to be getting a message from God here, but I’m really confused. What’s grace got to do with it?

So, on the way home I found myself wandering through the Japanese Garden at the Main City Park in Gresham. Pondering this question and taking photos. I didn’t get any answers then about why I’m feeling the word grace so strongly in conjunction with my mom’s cancer…


Holly bush in the Japanese Garden

Holly bush in the Japanese Garden


Another month goes by. And I’m still not getting a clearer picture on the grace thing. I’m telling God I don’t understand this word grace. I think of it as meaning forgiveness for sins or wrongdoing. Or being saved from sins.  Being graceful. Having grace. I just don’t understand.


Pink Camellia

Pink Camellia


That week in church, the pastor was talking about grace again. With an example:

Have you ever been in a long line, say at they bank, and you’ve been waiting and waiting and the line is barely moving. You’ve finally managed to shuffle a few feet forward when a friend comes in and says “Hey, come outside, you’ve got to see this.” 

You don’t want to go. You tell them you can’t, the line is barely moving, you’ve made it a few people forward, if you go outside, you’ll have to go back to the end of the line again. 

But, your friend is insistent “You need to come outside now and see this.”

Finally, you reluctantly go outside, only to find out that a bank robber slipped into the bank and held it up right after you walked out the door. You feel relieved. You feel grateful to your friend for insisting they needed you to see something outside when you didn’t want to leave the line. You realize that it was only by God’s grace that you were spared from being inside of that bank at the time it was robbed.


Japanese Garden - Gresham Main City Park

Japanese Garden – Gresham Main City Park




A touch of color

A touch of color


Ephesians 2:8; “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”.





Still feeling like it’s a wimpy word for the year. My sister picked Fierce. (You can read what she wrote about it at the end of this blog post.) I want to be fierce. Dressed for battle. Wearing my cancer kicking combat boots. Armed to the teeth. Instead, I feel like, with my word, I’m standing here, at the bottom of a glass mountain. Wearing a long flowing white dress. Barefoot. Looking up. Trying to figure out how I’m going to scale this slippery glass mountain to get to the other side. My armor isn’t going to help me now. But maybe some of those grippy socks would help. Better yet, suction cups on my hands and feet. Pretty sure this is not going to be a graceful assent, but I’ll do the best I can. Tuck that dress up, PNG style so it’s out of my way, and up I go!


Graceful curves

Gentle curves


If all else fails, by the end of this year, I’m going to give up on this grace thing and start smashing this stupid glass mountain to pieces with a gigantic hammer!



When faced with a mountain, I will not quit.

When faced with a mountain, I will not quit


What’s grace got to do with it, indeed? Still not sure, but I’m guessing for me and my journey with my mom’s cancer – everything.



My sister’s word for the year post:


Been trying to wax poetic about the New Year for days. Last year may have been an enigmatic weirdo.

This year has dubbed itself,
“the Great Unknown.”
Picking one word isn’t gonna cut it for 2017. So far the veritable weirdsmobile has suggested: courage, light, hope, and perseverance. This makes me cry.
It’s already a year in which the other shoe has dropped. My Mama found out she has stage 4 cancer a few months ago. What does one say to that? (nothing ladylike, I can assure you)
So, 2017, I’ll tell you what I think.
I’ll take your pile of words, the shoes that won’t stay on your feet, and throw in an adjective:
You better believe it.
Fierce Love, Fierce fight, Fierce hope… Fierceness to all of the nonsense and hogwash going on the world.
And I ain’t the only one.

There’s a whole posse of us up in here.




Art: Cory Godbey


Choosing Thankfulness

Do you ever have those times when you’re choosing thankfulness while still asking for more? Even though you’re thankful for what you’ve been given, you’re still aiming higher. And yet, you have to stop and remind yourself to be thankful for what you’ve received that’s less than what you were aiming for. Sometimes I feel like I aim for the stars and then find myself utterly disappointed when I end up lower than what I’m aiming for. Maybe my goal is the red carpet, but I’m walking on a beautiful red or golden carpet of leaves instead. And I stop to capture the moment with my camera. Because I am truly thankful for the beauty I find around me. (And isn’t a leaf carpet way cooler than a red carpet any day?)


The yellow leaf road

The yellow leaf road


With my mom’s cancer, I’m praying for a miracle. We Need a miracle. What we’ve received is a modern medical breakthrough in treatment for her type of cancer. I was hoping this would be the miracle we needed. I’m finding out that really, a person on this new type of chemo just has less of the chemo side effects, and the average person in their clinical studies made it 10.3 months longer than someone on other types of chemo. While I’m grateful for this new drug – just FDA approved a little over a month ago, I found myself being bitterly disappointed that this was not, in fact, going to cure her, just prolong her life. I was putting my hopes in the newest medication out on the market only to have them dashed to the ground.


Moody Hellebore

Moody hellebore


Does that mean I didn’t stop to take the time to thank God for the small medical breakthrough we received? No. I keep thanking Him for it almost every day. Most of the times with tears streaming down my face because I know it’s not going to cure her. Just buy her time. But I thank Him anyway.

Does that mean I stop praying for a miracle? No. I know modern man and medicine can’t cure her at this time. I have to remind myself to put my hope in God, not in man. Does that mean I’ll get my miracle? Not necessarily. It just means that I’ve set my sights higher.


Gorgeous red vines on a fence.

Gorgeous red vines on a fence.


Sometimes we need to make a choice to be grateful even when we don’t like what’s happening around us.

Don’t like the new president? Well, just be thankful we don’t have a dictatorship type of government and that ultimately, the president doesn’t have the final say in how this country is run. He has to get all of his ideas approved through congress. Be thankful for that.


Autumn Reflections

Autumn Reflections

My father didn’t get to go back to Papua New Guinea for the dedication of the mini Bible in our village on the 25th (which will be our Thanksgiving day over here as they are a day ahead of us.) I’m sure he’s disappointed that he’s unable to see the culmination of a project he’s been working on for over 30 years of his life due to my mom and his own medical issues right now. …I am thankful we’ll all be together for the holiday.


Autumns glow

Autumns glow

There was a time in my life when I felt like I had nothing good to be thankful for. My ex-husband was abusive and and I was always walking on eggshells, never knowing when he might blow up. I would sing the song ‘To God Be The Glory‘ – sometimes through clenched teeth because I was so on edge. Mostly through tears. I didn’t really know what I was thanking Him for or why I was thanking Him. I had no reason. I was making a choice during the worst time in my life to thank Him anyway. I think there’s something poignant to God in those moments where you choose thankfulness, knowing you’re in a bad place and need something more. You’re making a decision to give thanks despite whatever awfulness is going on in your life. That moment you’ve come to the end of yourself and surrender it all back to Him.


There's beauty all around us, if only we open our eyes to see.

There’s beauty all around us, if only we open our eyes to see.


Whatever is going on in your life, good or bad, choose thankfulness.



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