Thursday, September 24, 2009


Cancer. Bad word. Hard word. Hard to live with, harder to die with. Most families experience it. Ours is no exception.

My Grandmother Strickland died of cancer. I was a little girl.

Daddy’s prostate cancer was discovered when he retired from the Navy. I was 16. They got it in time. He lived another 40 plus years and was buried in the same uniform. I can’t even fit in a 10 year old dress!

Recently I knocked on neighbors’ doors collecting for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. A few years ago I couldn’t even spell it. Then my nephew, Brian Tippett, a young father of 3, sat in his doctor’s office.

When the doctor said it was lymphoma, he turned to his wife, Kimberly, “I have cancer. Say it, Kimberly.” She couldn’t. Not yet. He met it head on, like he does everything, and beat it. Twice.

Last year our family was plowed over by the C Train again. Both my brothers were diagnosed with prostate cancer, just months apart. Brian's dad, Bert, seven years older than I, is facing terminal cancer. My younger brother, Ricky, was diagnosed in time to remove it, before it spread. Bert saved Ricky’s life.

I began this blog to tell stories. But some stories can best be told by the ones who live them. So in my next blogs Bert and Ricky will tell you theirs.

Why do bad things happen to good people? God only knows. Why do good things happen to bad people? God’s grace. But we seldom question that flip side of life.

Job suffered and summarized it, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Paul suffered something like a spike driven through his body. He asked for relief three times but was not cured. He was told, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Grace can be hard too. When Paul accepted the big picture, he said, "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties." [Whew!] " For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Now that's hard...hard grace to understand, harder to live! Yet real.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved."

Bert and Ricky use what God has allowed (I didn't say caused) as a platform of suffering from which to witness about His power and grace. Power to heal. Or grace not to be healed. Both are writers. Kat's Pause will be their platform the next three Fridays.

Listen well. You never know when your family may hear that long, mournful blast from the C Train heading your way. Christ transforms it into a G Train, as the old spiritual song says:

"Get your ticket for that Glory Train.
It will take you up to heaven's domain.
You'll arrive and get your great reward
And you'll say, 'Hallelujah!
I'm gonna see my Lord!
...Gonna ride that Glory Train!”

Whether by death or Christ's return, believers know that heaven is their final destination. It's a win-win ticket!

That famous theologian, Erma Bombeck, said before her death, "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything You gave me.'"

Recently we sang another old spiritual (video below) that uses a chariot analogy to remind us heaven.

Ride That Chariot (Doug, Kathy, Vickie Morrison & Tommy Graham):

My prayer is that their real life stories will prove to be



  1. Kathy, Both Jerry and I have faced the big 'C'. You realize very quickly what is important in this life. Job 23:10 was a verse I clung to and gave me great peace. "He knows the path I take and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." My prayers continue to be with you all.
    In His love,

  2. Kathy, My mom has had 6 different occurrences of cancer in 32 years -- this time on her spine. God has ALWAYS been so good to take us all through each trial. He is truly worthy of our praise! His PEACE is unbelievable. Your family is special and am praying for Bert.
    Love, Jan

  3. The C-train was the chariot that God used to transport my brother, Doug, Home last November at age 53! His cancer began with a hidden melanoma on his scalp in 2001. Thanks so much for the remarkable and inspirational stories, Kathy. God has gifted you with writing skills. I look forward to the contributions your brothers will make to your delightful blog! Thanks, too, for the great video! ~ Kent Bryant, FIJI