Submitted by Melissa on Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 21:04

A visit to the Pumpkin Farm this fall (Thanks, Dan, for taking the picture!)

Last week I pondered the events of this past year and decided to summarize them in the form of free verse. As I re-lived these life-changing experiences, the Lord continued to remind me of His grace which was sufficient every step of the way.

I am confident that whatever storm we may weather, His grace is enough to keep us still in the storm.

"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness: most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me...for when I am weak, then am I strong" (II Cor. 12:9-10).


Lump, doctor’s visit, ultrasound, mammogram, biopsy.
Wondering, waiting, praying.

Phone call, bad news, tears.
Talking, praying, researching. Crying, sleeping, waking.
Asking, learning, talking, thinking, sorting.

Meet surgeon, more tests.
Researching, deciding.

Surgery, recovery. Bad news, surgery again.
Pain, relief, recovery, physical therapy.

More tests, treatments.
Another lump, new surgeon, third surgery, recovery.

Chemotherapy, long naps, hair loss.
Immune treatments, exercise, sunshine, healthy diet.

Recovery, hair returning.
New normal.

My Father Planned it All

Submitted by Melissa on Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 00:45


beautiful river

These words ministered to my heart today in a special way, and I'm compelled to share them with you.

"My Father Planned it All"
by Harriett Pierson

What though the way be lonely
And dark the shadows fall,
I know where e’er it leadeth
My Father planned it all.

There may be sunshine tomorrow;
Shadows may break and flee.
‘Twill be the way He chooses--
My Father’s plan for me.

I sing through the shade and the sunshine;
I’ll trust Him whatever befall.
I sing for I cannot be silent;
My Father planned it all.

He guides my faltering footsteps
Along the weary way;
For well He knows the pathway
Will lead to endless day.

A day of light and gladness,
On which no shade will fall;
‘Tis this at last awaits me,
My Father planned it all.

No matter what we face, may our heart's attitude be that of the Psalmist who declared, "The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation" (Psalm 118:14).


Submitted by Melissa on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 23:20

Above: At one of our recent outings, Bird Haven Greenhouse Conservatory.

Have you ever found yourself in an overwhelming set of circumstances? Today, instead of looking inward (focusing on self) or analyzing the outward (actions of others), let's aim our focus UPWARD (on God)!

Recently I found myself faced with a situation wherein I found myself almost overcome by the challenge. It's okay to be overwhelmed but NOT overcome, right?

As I was pondering things, I found myself looking inward and outward. But it wasn't until I looked upward that God gave peace to my heart. His strong character and measureless love are simply amazing.

Whatever situation you find yourself challenged by today, I hope you will take a moment to focus on one aspect of God's character. Right now I'm focusing on His love, and the hymn below communicates clearly how His love ministers to you and me no matter what trial this stage of life may bring.

Interestingly enough, this hymn, written by Horatius Bonar in 1861, was sung at the funeral of American president Ronald Reagan.

"O Love of God, How Strong and True"

O love of God, how strong and true!
Eternal, and yet ever new;
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought.

O love of God, how deep and great!
Far deeper than man’s deepest hate;
Self-fed, self-kindled, like the light,
Changeless, eternal, infinite.

O heavenly love, how precious still,
In days of weariness and ill,
In nights of pain and helplessness,
To heal, to comfort, and to bless!

O wide embracing, wondrous love!
We read thee in the sky above,
We read thee in the earth below,
In seas that swell, and streams that flow.

We read thee best in Him who came
To bear for us the cross of shame;
Sent by the Father from on high,
Our life to live, our death to die.

We read thy power to bless and save,
E’en in the darkness of the grave;
Still more in resurrection light,
We read the fullness of thy might.

O love of God, our shield and stay
Through all the perils of our way!
Eternal love, in thee we rest
Forever safe, forever blest.

A Gift of Great Value

Submitted by Melissa on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 22:04

A friend just sent me an email. I’m simply amazed at the richness of its content.

She wrote, “You are often in my thoughts and prayers, and I continually pray that God will…

  • Uplift you,

  • Give you peace beyond human understanding,

  • Give you the measure of His strength that you find yourself in need of every day; 

  • Perfect you in your weakest moments;

  • Guide you when you feel you have lost your way;

  • Soothe you with the Balm of Gilead when you are hurting;

  • Comfort you when you feel alone;

  • Nurture you when you are hungry and thirsty for Him to speak to you, and

  • Use you and the circumstances He has brought into your life to make a difference in the lives of others.”

In this season of giving gifts and spending time with loved ones, can you think of a better gift you can give to one whom you care about? Meaningful prayer with a God-ward focus. 

I’ve included this prayer in PDF format here. Perhaps you’d like to do what I did: print and post it, or put it in your prayer journal to use as you pray for those you love.

And maybe you can go one step further and follow my friend’s selfless example who not only prayed but also told me how she was praying.

No doubt this holiday season, there’s a heart that’s heavy, a family that’s needy, someone who needs some prayer and encouragement. Will you be the one to brighten their day?

Wonder or Worry?

Submitted by Melissa on Thursday, January 19, 2012 - 00:13

thumbs upA few weeks ago I received an email from a friend who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. He mentioned that for a number of years, before getting out of bed, he would recite the twenty-third Psalm. After the diagnosis, that Psalm took on new meaning.

You can imagine what I found myself doing a few days later while still lying in bed. Yes, reciting the twenty-third Psalm. What powerful words!

That last verse struck me in a new way. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Surely. No doubt there! It's certain.

Goodness. What God defines as "good" is, by all means, exactly that. Good. No hint of "bad" in it. Sure, everything might not be looking so good today, but we can be still, knowing that God will make good of it. (Remember Joseph: what his brothers meant for evil, God intended for good!)

Mercy. Ah, isn't that refreshing? God not giving me what I deserve. And He promises mercy? Absolutely amazing!

Shall follow me. Now this is getting personal. No doubt, His goodness and mercy will follow me. Have you ever been followed by someone you wished would go away? Well, here we have quite the opposite: being followed by goodness and mercy.

All the days of my life. All means all. Do we believe that? This is absolutely comforting because our days are numbered, and only God knows what that number is. Maybe you are dealing with a life-threatening illness, a traumatic relationship, grief from the death of someone you fill in the blank. Has there been an experience that's helped you face the reality of death?

For me, it's been this cancer diagnosis. I'm not saying I feel like a victim because quite honestly I don't. I'm fighting this battle, and I'm pretty determined! Smile But I am saying that the diagnosis has changed my perspective on life and death.

A few months after this whole journey began, I saw a funeral procession driving down Weber Road in Bolingbrook. The sight hit me like a ton of bricks. Mind you, I've attended scores of funerals in my life, many of which I played the organ for and many at which I simply grieved. So, funeral processions weren't an unusual thing for me to see or even be a part of.

But that day was different. I looked at that hearse from a different perspective, hoping my body wouldn't be in one too soon, thinking of the ones I loved and didn't want to leave behind. That was the day I realized my perspective on death had changed.

Now when I hear of a dear one who has passed from this earth due to those cancer cells overtaking the body, I grieve for their loved ones and pray those cancer cells will not find a home in me.

All the days of my life. I don't know the number of them. At times, I may wonder, but I don't need to worry. Instead, I can be confident that goodness and mercy will fill every single one of the days I have left. And if the Lord is your Shepherd, rest assured that mercy and goodness will be following close behind you too! Don't worry about tomorrow. Instead, wonder what great things God is going to do next.

Lots of Veggies

Submitted by Melissa on Sunday, January 22, 2012 - 00:23

Lots of Veggies

This entry is the beginning of a series of posts shedding light on my journey in healthful eating. If you are not interested, please pardon the dust! I'm working on a plan to have an easy button on top for those of you interested in the basic health info or the typical updates you've seen on Still in the Storm.

green salad

{Disclaimer: Although you may or may not agree with my conclusions or eating habits, please understand that I'm simply trying to do what's best for me and my family at this time. I'm not judging others for their food choices or implying that everyone should eat this way. Many have asked me for some simple suggestions to follow when facing a cancer diagnosis, and I'm simply being honest with what's happening in my life. Please do not construe this blog as medical advice; see your doctor for that. And please use common sense!}

Dan and I started off my birthday eve watching “Forks over Knives” (available on Netflix), an amazing documentary focused on the benefits of a vegetarian diet. This was followed by a thorough cleaning-out (think “purging”) of our pantry and cupboards.

We threw out sugary snacks, candy, junk food, anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup. If it was processed and bad for us, we got rid of it. We kept some dairy products because I plan to use them in moderation over the next few months while we tackle this challenge of eating right. And for the next little while, the plan is to go meatless.

We weren’t living on the junk, but it was around. And that’s the dangerous part.

In addition to my regular routine of green smoothies (more details coming soon), we’ve added more salads, whole grains, veggies, and fruits (in moderation) to our plates. We’re also taking meat out of our eating for a while, which has necessitated a whole new way of looking at cooking (read: new recipes).

Here are some of the new recipes we tried this week:

  • Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole. Simple and delicious.
  • Black Bean Soup (excellent!!!)
    • Skipped the bacon and started with some olive oil in the pot to saute the onions and garlic
    • Made my own chicken broth. (I’d like to find some healthier options for this...not too crazy about even some of the MSG-free kinds)
    • Because I didn’t have worcestershire sauce, I used 1 tsp. Bragg’s Aminos, 1 tsp. white vinegar, and a pinch of cloves)
    • Didn’t have scallions or sour cream on hand so did without.
    • This was really an amazing soup. We all loved it. Joanna wouldn’t even let me take a bite from her bowl, and Dan raved about the recipe.
  • Chocolate Granola Bars (modified to include flax seeds and raw cacoa powder)
    • Instead of wheat germ, I used ground flax
    • I think coconut oil would be a substitute for butter if you don’t want to use butter.
    • Instead of ½ cup of chocolate chips, I used a couple tablespoons of chopped-up chips and ¼ cup of raw cacoa powder (I got this months ago during an amazing sale on Amazon). Next time I plan to skip the chocolate chips all together.
  • Quinoa. Made a big batch to use throughout this next week.

Some other food items included:

  • Brown Rice pudding
  • Lots of fresh salad
  • Mexican tortillas (Whole grain tortillas filled with brown rice, black beans, organic corn, onion, greens, peas, and light on the cheese, bbq sauce and ranch dressing)
  • Celery with old fashioned peanut butter
  • Dried fruit and nuts for snacking
  • Smoothies
  • Protein drink with milk and frozen blueberries (Dan)

This coming week, some recipes I’d like to try (with thanks to my facebook friends for their input!):

It is ever so satisfying to eat the right thing. One of the simplest ways to start is by adding more vegetables to your plate. Soon, I will share with you my recipe for a healthy green smoothie. It's a simple way to get your greens in, and the taste won't disappoint!


Submitted by Melissa on Monday, January 23, 2012 - 18:26

This is what happened today. Little man was excited about veggies. He raided the fridge and brought out a bunch of organic celery, sharing it with Mom and Sis. 

I'm so proud of him. He even drank all his freshly-made carrot juice this morning, asked for more, and tried some of my green juice. Brave little guy. Smile