Into the Valley

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Can I be honest with you a minute? As much as I love the mountaintop experiences, there are valleys in life to contend with. I never much liked the valleys. Actually, I hated them. They seemed dark, lonely, deep, and wide. As I look back over life, it is in those valleys that I grew the most in my spiritual journey. A few years ago, we were allowed to walk through a valley so deep, so wide, so full of shadows as our world was turned upside down from several traumatic events. This deepest valley was our most painful. Recently God revealed an answer to a young wife’s desperate prayer years ago. This was not the only revelation from this valley of shadows, but one I just realized. If only I knew what was to come.

The journey through this valley is difficult. But not to fear … we have an experienced and loving Guide to walk us through it. His rod and staff are a great comfort and we only need to follow Him closely since He knows the path well. Want to come along? You’ll need to grab comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes, a compass, a tent, and plenty of Living Water. I think it’s going to be a long trip through this valley. Usually the valleys are hidden between the beautiful mountain peaks and we never know when one will be necessary to pass through to get to the next peak. The Guide knows though. I only need to trust His lead.

Our first descent into the Valley of Shadow feels more like a gorge and we are falling off the side of a cliff. It was a long way down. Painfully, we fell until we hit the first ledge. Our dear brother, who was in much pain himself, took his life. Why? How? Our questions beat against the sides of the cliff. My husband wrestled in his soul, to lose his best friend and hunting pal was utterly painful. Though not by blood he was my brother, too. He loved deeply and called me his sister. The Guide was there with us on that ledge speaking softly into our wounds, encouraging us to hold on to his hand. We grabbed with all we had and held on tight…for the next fall was coming soon.


And it came… even more painful than the first fall. The ledge we landed on this time was narrower and slanted. My beloved Father-in-Love was ushered into his Reunion Day with his Lord Jesus just a few short months after our brother. My heart could barely feel it’s beat. God used this dear man to heal my wounded heart from a painful relationship with my dad. Ours was a sweet Father-Daughter relationship the last 15 years.  We buried him two days before Christmas. Our Guide is there again, speaking soft words of hope and encouragement into our broken hearts.

The days and months went by and the promise of Spring was on our doorstep. A perfect time to venture outdoors and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Working in my gardens, witnessing new life was very therapeutic for me. There was still a darkness, more like a shadow. Did you know when you are in a valley in the mountains, the sun is only visible for a short part of the day? Shadows dominate. But there is enough light to see beauty where you are. My Guide was there with me, walking behind me, sitting in the grass as I gardened, quietly waiting. He was faithful to show up every day and stay with me through the long painful nights where nightmares of loss would visit. How thankful I am for his presence during that time.


Remember my desperate prayer? Yeah…my husband lost his job just nine months after Dad’s Reunion Day. Are you kidding me? What more? But something is different now. We leaned into the truths that had been spoken into our lives over the past several months. Our Guide will never leave us or forsake us. He loves us dearly. He will provide our every need if we only trust him. So I did. I sat with him daily for words of truth and strength to get through yet another loss. But hold on…the last fall is a doozy.

I’ll be honest, I started to question, “where are these green pastures spoken of in the Word”? Where are the still waters? My Guide reached out his hand and gently led me to them. My mind could not comprehend how there could be such beauty amidst this torrential pain. I spread my blanket out and laid down in the soft green grass and listened, drinking in the Living Water of the bubbling brook beside me. In this green pasture, we were blessed with a sweet granddaughter. We called her our Sunshine in the Clouds. What joy she brought us as we played on the blanket together. I wanted to stay here and rest though it was still darker than I’d like. The comfort of My Guide’s presence as he sat with me day after day speaking words of truth into my soul was life-giving. Preparing me for what was to come next.


Shortly after the job loss, my husband went in for a routine doctor visit. Something wasn’t right and he was sent to a specialist. Tests were done. The results? Cancer. Advanced. Aggressive. Stage 4 Cancer. We fell into the darkness of the gorge. Now at the bottom, the wounds from the previous falls split open. The sides are too steep and rugged to climb out of. To be honest, I had no energy to climb anyway. I sat there, battered from the fall and screamed at the top of my lungs…NO MORE!!!!  I raised my shield of faith and yelled at the enemy of my soul, “NO MORE! You will NOT take my husband!” I refused to be taunted by this fear of fears of living life without him. Gut-wrenching sobs poured out as I dropped to the ground, face down until the surrender…Thy will be done. Then a warm blanket of peace was placed on me by my Guide.

I took my Guides hand and begged him to show me the way out of this. And you know what? He knew the way out. The path seemed daunting, but he was my strength. He carried me most of the way, to be honest. Slowly. Steadily. We made our way out of that deep dark valley of death shadows. I chose not to fear…now there was a feat in itself…to surrender to the journey! Fear kept nipping at my heels as I pushed forward. Sometimes it wrapped itself around my head until I could barely see in front of me. But my Guide would always pull it off and help me to see clearly again, putting it under my feet where it belongs. He reminded me that I am a overcomer.


The journey is long and hard out of this valley, but there are green pastures to rest and be renewed and experience unspeakable joy. While in Nevada for cancer treatments, we were given another blessing. Our little Joy Boy was born to our daughter. I never knew I could love a baby more than my own children, but my grandchildren…oh, my heart! The love poured out and wounds healed by these little ones. These two Littles gave us even more resolve to make it out of the valley of shadows.

Are you still with me? Did I lose you along the way? This morning as I was spending time in my chair, writing in my journal, praying and worshiping, I am reminded of that dark time. But also of the desperate prayer as a young wife over my husband that God would do a work in him so he could be home more. He was exhausted physically and emotionally as he gave his life to his job that left him empty when he was home. It was frustrating and was not good for our family to have him gone so much. He was doing his best to provide for us that allowed me to stay home to raise our children. I knew that and am so thankful for it,  but it was lonely and hard. I prayed for change. My perspective however was far different from God’s, but I believed in line with his will. Little did I know we were headed for a crash course of trusting the One that brought us together.

The losses were great and almost unbearable…but God! So much was taken from us…from my husband. I certainly don’t believe for a moment that it was God teaching us a lesson, but I do believe God used it for good in our lives as an answer to my longing and desperate prayers. God allowed my husband (and me) to be stripped of all those things that we were putting faith in. Church. Relationships. Jobs. Health. So that we would only look to Jesus for identity and strength. God brought my husband home. He’s home more to spend time with not only me, but his children and our beautiful grandchildren. He and I travel together…for a job he loves or on great adventures sometimes like to Colorado or China! Or we can just sit and watch a movie together eating popcorn.


Like Job in Scripture, God allowed the enemy to steal much from us only to bless us with so much more. What’s more? God used this time to address my own fears, disappointments, and soul issues. I had put so much of “hope” and “joy” in my husband…my Knight in Shining Armor. My future, my strength, my identity…all wrapped up in my him. I needed a fresh perspective that my HOPE is in God. My JOY comes from Jesus, which I learned and continue to learn is dependent on the strength and perspective I choose to embrace in the midst of it all.

The valley’s in life can be beautiful places of healing, rest, revelation and peace. They are not to be feared because I have a Guide that will bring me through. I need only take his hand. I know that the hard places he allows also come with opportunities to exercise such faith in him that will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify his name. God’s timing has both healed and strengthened me and has prepared me for His next place of blessing! Oh the mountaintops!!

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot

Thanks for walking with me into this valley. May you find rest as you take off your hiking shoes, spread out a blanket, and delight in the green pastures he brings you to.

 In His Will, Is our Peace~


On the Mountains

“We are here for a greater purpose than what meets the eye. We are here to encourage each other and to reach heights that are unattainable by ourselves!” ~Randi Z


We are headed to the Mountains today … a mountain top called Trust to be more precise. We will need hiking boots, layers of clothing, a hat, some healthy snacks, a walking stick, and plenty of water. We’ll take it slow as we hike through the meadows, up to a basin, and over the pass. There might be some water to cross, so if you’re afraid of getting wet, this might not be the hike for you. Don’t forget your camera, although pictures won’t do justice to the beauty your eyes will take in. We will start off in the jeep with our Beloved Driver (BD) and his lovely wife, Backseat Companion (BC). The trails he wants to take us on are dusty and very bumpy at times, but they are necessary to get to the trail that takes us up the Mountain. Ready?

The air is clean, fresh, and exhilarating on the Mountain. The sun is intense. The water flowing is clear, refreshing, and cold. Wild flowers are growing in places that don’t seem possible. The rocks!!! For those of you who don’t know, I am a self-proclaimed Rock Hound. Yes, I admit it. Why would anyone want to collect rocks, you may ask? There’s no real good answer other than I love how God reveals my beauty through them. Some are strikingly beautiful on the outside, with glittering specks of quartz and other minerals that sparkle. Others are odd shaped and dull, but the inside…Oh! the beauty if you could look inside. Still some are dull in appearance as well as unimpressive on the inside. Hmmm. I’ll share more on this subject at a later time.

Recently we had opportunity to spend some much needed time away in the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains with some dear family. Dave was struggling physically and we knew a doctor’s appointment and scans were needed soon. Fears were creeping in, the unknown future once again tugging at my heart. The feeling of helplessness was intense as I watched my man struggle, both physically and emotionally. I am a caregiver at heart, longing to bring relief and hope to him, yet unable to. There is no greater discomfort for a caregiver than to watch someone you love struggle and not be able to help them. My heart ached. But God is Faithful! He took us to the Mountains to reveal His truths to us once again. He is WITH us in the Valleys as well as the Mountains. We needed to see the beauty of His love, His mercy, His goodness, His plan as we walked through yet another Valley.


Day One we were relaxing and getting used to the 9,000 feet elevation. Stepping outside the humble cabin in a small mountain town, my eyes are drawn to the distant mountains. Everywhere I looked there were mountains. The skies were as blue as can be with only a few fluffy white clouds. I knew there were higher, grander mountains beyond what my eyes could take in. Excited to see more, we were taken on a short … easy … jeep ride. The views all around us were breathtaking. Each turn, each road that took us higher brought more beauty, more gasps, more views unlike we’ve ever seen before. Our Beloved Driver was delighted to watch and hear our expressions of awe. He’s been doing this for many years and the beauty of the Mountains never grows dull.

Stopping for an “outhouse” break, I sat down, feet hanging over the edge of a cliff and took in the sight. Snow-capped mountains, ice cold water flowing over boulders far below me, the smell of the lodge pole and blue spruce pines. I was overwhelmed by God’s greatness. All this! And yet He cares for little me. A speck on the mountain. A speck on the Earth. A speck. Yet, He doesn’t call me a speck. He calls me His Beloved Daughter. My emotions got the best of me and a sob rose to my throat. The tears flowed over my dirt covered face and down into my hands. As I was regaining control, I felt the hand of my sweet Dave on my shoulder. He knew. He felt it too. Seven years ago we were facing a daunting mountain. God has been faithful.


My heart was racing as we drove on narrow dirt roads (I thought they were narrow, but later in the week I would think these were wide) so close to the edge of the cliff. The jeep was rocking back and forth as I clung white-knuckled to anything I could, strapped in tightly with my seat-belt. There were no windows, so the dust made its way into every pore of my body. Then my sweet Backseat Companion suggested I “roll with vehicle” and trust her man’s driving skills. Seriously? She wasn’t even wearing a seat-belt!!! Dave was in front with our BD. I chuckled and exhaled once we headed back to the cabin. The first day I don’t think I saw as much as I could’ve had I just trusted the driver.


Day Two we headed out early, shortly after a yummy cabin breakfast of sourdough toast with butter, strawberries and hot coffee. The day promised to be a beautiful one of sunshine and warm temperatures. The agenda? To find waterfalls. We climbed, yes climbed, into the jeep with a nudge from our guys. We strapped ourselves in, secured our hair, and hung on for dear life. OK, that’s an exaggeration. Our BD once again took us on narrow dirt trails that were close to the edge, so close I had to look the other way and hung on for dear life several times. The first ones were wide enough for two vehicles to pass. What came next was narrow; two-tracks that you prayed no one would be coming from the other direction. These two-tracks were originally the donkey trails that were used during the mining years about 100 years ago.

We continued up the Mountain trail, our BD had a destination in mind. The day before we stopped by a waterfalls scenic overlook and BC and I climbed, slid, down to the bottom of the Falls. This was the first of many we would see and hike around this week. As we rounded another hairpin turn up the mountain, BD would get this look on his face, one of a mischievous little boy, watching my nervous expressions in the rear-view mirror, chuckling. I think he was enjoying this more than any of us. Today I was more engaged with the beauty around me, trusting BD as was recommended the day before. Each turn brought more beauty, more snow-capped tops, more waterfalls coming out of the side of the mountains, more pure blue sky with wispy white clouds. By lunchtime, we reached our first destination, a restaurant in a remote area. We stopped to eat lunch and catch our breath. The air was becoming thinner, but we desired to press on.

Further up, the trail became more rugged and narrow, and snow lined. My BC is also a Rock Hound and her man knows this brings her joy. We stopped by a flowing river, filled with rocks for a quick look before heading back. We will return to this place in a couple of days, so we only picked up a few rocks…this time.


There were many more adventures the rest of the week. Each day, each stop, each moment, bringing gasps and wows as if this was the best one yet. We drove narrow, rugged trails, sometimes snow covered, through rushing creeks, over mountain passes, along the cliffs, through beautiful meadows, to alpine tundras. We got stuck in a deep slushy snow pile when our BD decided he was going to give us all a thrill and splash us in the backseat. That idea failed as we stopped abruptly in the slushy dip. We busted out with gut laughs complete with a “snort” or two. Fortunately we had another couple driving the trails with us in their jeep and was able to pull us out. Did I mention they are 80+ years old? I will write more about these two beautiful souls another time. The beauty of the area made me speechless…many who know me, know this in of itself is a miracle. We took picture after picture after picture. I think we have over 1000 pictures from this trip and each one holds more beauty than the next. Then, stop and look, listen, look some more. Take it in. Take in the beauty, the majestic mountains, the rushing water over the boulders, the smell of the pines.

One of the days we were headed over the mountain pass, but got stopped by a barricade declaring it was too dangerous to proceed, so we took another trail. We passed many old mining buildings, beautifully preserved in the thin, frigid mountain air. I was struck by the fact people lived here, at this high elevation, through the cold winter months years ago. As we traveled further up another pass, we were stopped again. This time by an avalanche of snow. The trail just stopped. In the distance we could see a snow plow digging out the trail, but it will take days to get it open. Disappointed, BD backed down the trail until it was safe to turn around. Oh my word! White knuckled again.


As I’ve reviewed our pictures and my journal, I am struck at how this trip is so much like our life. The beauty all around us, we can see it if we will only trust the One in control. The majestic mountains and powerful waterfalls that can be both beautiful, yet dangerous. The trails, some easy and non-threatening, while others were treacherous and needed a skilled driver to proceed. The hiking trails, knowing when I should stop and when I can risk pushing forward a little further by taking a step of Faith.

God took us to those majestic mountains, by the rushing rivers and waterfalls, through the meadows covered in wild flowers, and through the forests, to remind us He hasn’t abandoned us. He is still WITH us in our journey. He brought Peace as we submitted our fears to Him … again. We were facing another Mountain … a doctor’s appointment that could bring really bad news … would we trust Him to get us over the pass, would we trust Him to get us through the deep waters that flow over the trail? He promises to give us feet like deer, the ability to keep our footing no matter the trail condition if we only TRUST HIM.

He made my feet like the feet of the deer and set me secure on the heights. (Psalm 18:33)

Until next time, remember:

His Will, is our Peace


Welcome to the Journey

Welcome to my Journey! Thank you so much for stopping by and joining me for a walk through life. In case you don’t know me, I live in Michigan with my husband of 37 years and surrounded by seven, yes SEVEN, beautiful grandchildren. I’m so thankful my three children decided to stay close (for now) and let us enjoy life together.

My life as a Follower of Jesus started as a late teenager, but the decision to actually FOLLOW Him, came later. This decision has not been an easy one for me as I grew up with many challenges. God has called me His Beloved Daughter and this is my journey to the acceptance of that title. It has impacted every fiber of my being and every part of my journey. My hope is that maybe this will inspire one more to take hold of The Father’s hand and walk with Him, trusting Him for the journey.

Years ago, a counselor encouraged me to write my story for healing purposes. I have not stopped writing…in my private journals…and now I am taking the step to share it with others. This is not an easy task for me. Fear has gripped me over and over again when I decide to be obedient in my writing. But God has a greater purpose…a Kingdom purpose…and that calms my fears.

Recently my husband and I had the opportunity to visit the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It was a gift like none other to our souls and our journey together. We were facing some decisions…hard decisions…God met us up on the mountains and showed us He is still with us in this more recent journey called Cancer. Our faith has been strengthened as we continued to believe “In His Will, Is Our Peace”. That has been our motto, so to speak, for the past seven years.

So come along with me for a short…or long…walk. Some days it will be a hike up a steep mountain. Other days will be a stroll through a meadow. All I know is God is WITH me (and you) every step of the way. I will trust Him because:

In His Will, Is My Peace