The first time I met Barb and Will, I knew there was something special about this couple. As we’ve become better acquainted and I’ve learned more of their story, I recognize them as people who put into action the words of St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer of peace.
A couple years ago, Barb and Will scheduled an appointment with me to discuss a cancer support group they felt God was nudging them to begin. The vision of Lake City Church where I’m privileged to serve as Care Ministries Coordinator is to be a safe place for people wherever they are in their spiritual journey—a place where they can discover God, connect with others and serve the world.
A safe place for folks struggling with the realities of cancer certainly fit our vision’s criteria. The TLC (Together Living with Cancer) Support Group at Lake City Church has been a source of comfort for many.
Barb and Will are familiar with pain. I knew both are cancer survivors, and that they have lost close family members to the dreaded disease. But, perhaps the most painful chapter in their story is one I learned about only recently. I’ve asked Barb to share it in her own words.
We lost our granddaughter, Elizabeth, 11 years ago in a car accident. Our oldest granddaughter, Bridgette, was driving. Although it was proven she was not responsible, Bridgette was changed forever by the accident. It’s as if we lost both granddaughters that day.
Bridgette suffered severe injuries herself, including a crushed shoulder. She was prescribed opioid drugs for the pain. Combined with grief over losing her sister, who was also her best friend, Bridgette became addicted to the drugs. She has struggled with addiction since, despite going through several recovery programs. We trust that she will be restored to health and have an amazing testimony one day.
After the accident, it was difficult to see the promises of Romans 8:28:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
I now hold this scripture dear to my heart with every one of life’s trials.
Following the accident, a friend gave me a copy of a poem that helped me see Romans 8:28 clearly.
My Life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the underside.
Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him.
We can’t always see God’s plan but given enough time, we can see the beautiful tapestry of our lives. As the poem says, the dark threads of life are there in God’s plan too.
Had it not been for the loss of our grandchild, I wonder, would Will and I have had the desire to mentor kiddos at Children’s Village? Something we’ve been doing now for many years.
Had it not been for the loss of my mom and my sister—my only sibling–to cancer, would we have had the desire to start a cancer support group?
God’s promptings, God’s design, God’s tapestry and plan for our lives….
Despite the pain, we feel truly blessed to have many years of wonderful memories made with both our granddaughters.
We will be forever grateful to God for placing a ‘special’ Idaho State Trooper at the accident, who was also a family friend and knew Elizabeth. What a blessing to have him there to pray over her as she went home to be with the Lord.
During our cancer support meetings, we’ve been privileged to witness God’s hand in healing hearts and renewing the spirit of those who have lost loved ones or are going through a cancer journey of their own.
Even as we believe God weaves a beautiful masterpiece out of life’s circumstances, still, the dark threads can be difficult. We are never closer to Him than when we are on our knees….even in our darkest hours, God provides for us, giving us comfort and heavenly hugs.
Sue’s Note: Thank you so much, Barb. To each Listening on the Journey… reader, I pray you’ll feel God’s “heavenly hug” in some way during this season of Advent…