While It Was Still Dark


Sustain Me: Notes on Cancer, encouragement for cancer patients, stage four cancer, stage three cancer

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb…”

I crept down stairs two nights ago and peered out the window, while it was still dark. I had caught a stomach bug, and on top of that indignity,  Chloe had to do her business at 2:30 AM. Her nails click-click-clicking woke me up from restless misery as she waddled to the bedroom door.

“Chloe! Get back in bed, now!”

I hissed the command quietly so I would not wake Tom. Sometimes the hotdog obeys and crawls back into her doggie bed. Like she just wants the blanket adjusted by her human. This night she ignored my words, stopped at the bedroom door and wouldn’t look back. She wanted out. Ugh.

It was the night of the Blood Moon. I had considered waking up sometime after 2 AM in hopes of seeing the lunar eclipse but knew our area would not have a good view of the sky. Chloe’s summons tipped the balance in favor of at least trying, and down the steps we went. Clouds were thick overhead and the only thing I saw was … nothing. My nausea enforced the gloom. Chloe did her business, proudly trotted to her bed and went sound asleep.

I tossed and turned and thought some more about the dark; of not knowing if your body will ever feel right again; of other nights when I truly wondered if I would be able to even turn over in bed again; and about another woman creeping through the gloom, long ago, searching for a miracle.

Mary left while it was still dark on the silent streets of Jerusalem. The pitch black before dawn. Reeling from the agonizing death of her Lord, Mary crept to the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid. How could this be? Multitudes of people had believed in Him and trusted that He was the “Way, the Truth and the Life”. She had watched Jesus work miracles in the lives of ordinary people like you and me. And just when a new political dawn appeared certain after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem (hadn’t the fickle crowds cried, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”?), Mary had watched the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, die a thief’s death on the cross. He was the perfect sacrifice accepted by God and had willingly died to pay for her sin, and mine. And yours.

Darkness brutally snuffed out the Light of the World.

Or did it?

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” John 20:1

The Light of the World arose, and lives to find us in our darkness today. Love keeps piercing the gloom and bringing the hope of the risen Savior to all of us. Have you accepted this Gift that will give you forgiveness from the suffocating weight of sin? That is the only way to gain eternal life with Christ?

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31

Like Mary’s hurt-bound belief and against-all-odds joy in finding Jesus alive, I’m holding hope for the day He returns. It’s still dark all around. But my heart tells me dawn is near.

He is risen.

This is What Jesus Told Mary at the Tomb …Click Here


One of the books I love about our hope in Christ is called “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. If you’ve read my blog or heard me speak, you may know this book was a tremendous encouragement to me when I went through surgeries, chemo and radiation for stage III & IV colon cancer. At the time of this writing you can get “Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions” free on Amazon.com for Kindle. It’s a brief booklet that will give you an introduction to what the book is about if you’re interested in learning more.

Heaven is, after all, for real.John 11:26 I am the resurrection and the life







Roar. Roll. Hush.

General Thoughts

“It’s hard to capture all that beauty, isn’t it?”

The lady striding behind me on the long stretch of sand saw me crouching down and angling my phone to get 500 pictures of endless waves in my first five minutes on the beach. You can easily spot the New Yorker’s starving for warmth and let loose near sun and waves on a beach in March. I laughed and agreed with her comment.

The lady smiled and kept moving on her walk. It truly was impossible to capture the beauty. Joyfully so. Really, how many images of waves do you need to get “the picture”.

You can’t easily capture their wild, roaring beauty. I put the camera in my pocket and decided to just walk and watch. One wave swelled up as another one disappeared in a violent crash against the sand. Others softly crept up to my toes and rushed away.

So what is it about waves?

Roaring waves psalms ocean

Those same waves that roar? They have boundaries. God said so. Waves were rolling at me like they wanted to gobble me up. But they were listening to the Creator, and the conversation I overheard went something like this.

“Roar. Now roll.”

And those waves did what they ware told. No harm to me; there was a boundary to the roaring, treacherous, beauty-filled waves.


And then He said, “Hush.”

Can you hear the whisper where you are? He’s in control of the waves. He lets them roar. He talks with them, commands them, and tells them to hush.


Troubled wave watcher? Listen to the conversation going on between God and your troubles. Those treacherous waves He allows to roar in your life? You may be tossed for a time, but can you hear Him? The Lord of creation speaks in waves of love and invites you to be a part of His conversation.

Listen to the roar. Trust God to roll things away and not roll you over. Now hush.


Working through the waves of cancer? Head on over to the “What I Did that Helped” page. When you sign up to receive my blog posts/emails, I’ll send you a free summary of the ways I’ve been navigating through stage IV cancer.  Currently I’m anchored in the “All Clear” safe harbor.

Looking for faith-infused encouragement for cancer patients? Download my FREE e-book journal – learn more by Clicking Here.

Crushed? Run.


sustain me notes on cancer faith infused encouragement for stage four cancer patients

I was working in the office yesterday sipping on carrot juice and waiting for The Phone Call. You know, the one every cancer patient ponders after scans. Pinned mentally between thinking you feel really good but knowing one sentence could change everything. Again.

I dialed the office number at 11:01 AM to ask if they had results per my doctor’s instructions. I was hoping, as I had bartered so with my younger daughter that morning, that since they had not called the day before, it meant there was nothing to be concerned about and everything to feel hopeful about.

“Let me get your message over to the team,” said the receptionist. “Someone will call you back shortly.”

PET scan for stage four colon cancer after treatmentTwo days earlier I had chatted with the doctor before going in for the PET scan. The scan was the one year mark from my second round of radiation (more targeted this time, just on the mass in my iliac artery) and chemo (no port in my chest this last time, just a daily pill) to lasso stage four colon cancer.

“If this test comes back clear, we won’t need to have you come back for another year,” the doctor had said. “The window of concern is from one to two years after treatment.”

I was one year out from treatment. Would the day’s test set me free for another twelve months or reel me in backwards? God, will you please keep me moving forward? I’ve been wounded enough, right, please? But what if going backwards physically is Your choice of “forward” for my life? How much of this is on me to juice and follow the wellness plan, and how much is about me claiming – no, crying out to You – Your promises, and how much is about Your complete control of my life and my submission to Your plan? And what about the hundreds of thousands of other people suffering and dying from cancer? What is this all about? Deep down I know the answer for me. Maybe it’s the answer for you, too. It is all about God’s loving plan for my life. However He chooses for that to play out in life or in death. Wounded thoughts. Crushed hopes? Grace-filled, personally invested, merciful God. No matter what.

The cell phone buzzed and pulled me back to the present. It was the doctor’s office.

“Mrs. O’Connor? Your scans were clear. Everything looks normal.”

And my day went back to … normal. Just like that. Work issues… personal concerns… family needs… but no cancer. Normal.

psalm3418 verses about crushed in spiritAre you crushed maybe between physical illness, or spiritual wounds, or brokenhearted over personal battles that you never signed up for? The Lord is close. Don’t run away. Turn around and run. As fast and hard as you can to Him. He is near you today. His Word, as the songwriter says, will not fail you. Not in life. Not in death.

Speaking about turning and running to the Lord, here is one of my favorite songs about turning to Jesus in times of trouble. Sometimes we have to choose to focus our eyes on Him to hold off the crush of life. The words encouraged my heart all this week, along with reading from Psalm 34. Hope the words and music from this song lift you up a little today too.

piano note turn






Verse 1: O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!

Refrain: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.

Verse 2: Through death into life everlasting, He passed, and we follow Him there; O’er us sin no more hath dominion—, For more than conqu’rors we are!

Verse 3: His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well:, Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell!

Written by Helen Lemmel, 1922. Arranged by Sharon O’Connor.

Before we go our separate ways, a question. Have you been rescued by God from troubles? Upheld by His love in great difficulty? Would love to have you share briefly here in the Comments a verse of scripture or a meaningful quote for others in need of  encouragement. Let’s help each other thrive through the “crush”.