A letter to my daughters

Nov 06

A letter to my daughters

Dear Maren and Greta,

You, sweet girls, are six-and-a-half and two-and-a-half.  Tomorrow is a big day for our little family, and you won’t read these words for many years.  I thought it important to take time to tell you some important things before… well, just Before.

Tomorrow we find out if Mommy has cancer.  This time a cancer diagnosis, if it comes, will be of the Stage IV variety: it’s the kind that we have been pedaling furiously against for the past nineteen months.  A surgeon will cut a wedge out of the upper lobe in my right lung.  Inside the wedge will be a 10mm x 11mm spot that showed up on my cancer scan three weeks ago.  We are praying fervently that God’s finger would be upon that spot before the surgeons tools cut it out.  We pray for non-cancer results; we pray for mercy.

Without a doubt, the greatest injustice in this scene is it’s impact on you.  I am writhing and seething with rage that you, my babies, have a threat like cancer in your Mommy in your teeny tiny world.  It is especially cruel because for now, in these wee years, I am the center of your world.  In another several years you will be fifteen and eleven, and our dynamic will change.  A few years after that you will be twenty-two and eighteen, and my most influential years with you will be over.  My nest will ache for you, I’m sure… but the pain of an empty nest is something that sounds pretty marvelous today.  The fact that cancer is poised to take me from you leaves me to wallow in a deep despair–not for myself, of course; my story is a happy ending because I will be in heaven.  The despair is about you two living a mother-less life; I will not be there to help you through what could be one of the greatest trials you will face in your lifetime.

But girls, I choose to rise above.  I will not cry, whine, tremble, wallow, rage or despair.  I will be peaceful, joyful, loving, hopeful and content in my circumstances.  That, my dear girls, is my gift to you.  If The Worst of The Worst plays out, you can trust me to find the good.  That is how I will mother you; it is my legacy for you.  My hope is that you  will look for the good as you face your own tribulations in your life.  You are strong, you are beautiful, you are amazing.  You must believe that about yourself; it is the key to joy.

Years from now you will read this and you will know that I’ve had a bizarre and strong sense of peace as I’ve lived these days.  The peace is not the knowledge that I will live a long and healthy life.  The peace is the knowledge that God is good and uses all things for His good.  I trust Him girls, not only with my life, but with yours as well.  It is with an open hand that I hold you and lift you up to Him.  You were a twinkle in His eye before you were the life that felt like soft bubbles bursting when you kicked in my belly.

It is my privilege to raise you, and I will do it well.  My love for you is far and wide and high and deep.  For each of my days, I vow to Do Today Well.  For you.

My fervent prayer when I was first diagnosed is that God would bless me with 50 more years with you.  Now that time has passed, I’m down to 48-1/2, and I believe God can do it.  But I choose to trust Him no matter the outcome.  I have peace from Him.  Please girls, seek out your peace too.  It is there to be found.IMG_6885

And now girls, I pray.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, 
Hallowed be Thy Name. 
Thy Kingdom come. 
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our trespasses, 
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

A friend called me a lightening rod for miracles–and it’s true, I’ve had miracle healings of my spine and of my liver.  Bring on the storm; beauty rises from ashes; I know this full well.

All my love,


The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
      and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

— Isaiah 61:1-3


  1. Maureen /

    We are all praying with you and thinking positive thoughts for you.

  2. we are sending healing mojo and prayers from springfield – jen+greta

  3. Your unshakeable faith is a beautiful legacy to your precious daughters no matter what the outcome of today’s surgery. This warrior is praying for you! May God continue to bless you with peace that surpasses human understanding.

  4. Kirsten /

    I am praying for you Jen. Your courage is inspiring and I hope you the best of news tomorrow. I will be thinking about you and your family.

    Kirsten and Shree Kulkarni

  5. This post is more than a window to your soul – It’s a wide open double door. I have walked through the doors and am basking in the glow of your soul’s strength and beauty.

  6. This letter to your girls is beautiful… no matter what happens. You are beautiful… no matter what happens. Your girls are beautiful… no matter what happens. God’s love for each of us is beautiful and precious…no matter what happens.
    Covering you in thick blankets of prayer today.

  7. Marlayne Skeens /

    Jen ~ As I type this comment through tears of Mixed Emotions, The ONE Thought that comes to mind: What a Loving Mother paving the way to her children <3 Your Mother was a Extremely Good Role Model for you & your sisters ~ Just like your Mother, You are an Extremely Good Role Mother to your Precious Girls ~ Teaching & Showing Children, starting when they are young, HELPS them be Independent, Strong, Caring & Giving Back to The Community ~ What a Blessing You are to Your Family in showing just how to Pay Forward ~ Everyone Wins & GOD knows, just how Good/Great Your Heart Really Is ~ Continued Prayers for Joy & Peace 🙂

  8. Mitch Powell /

    Beautiful Jen, I will say many a prayer for you. love you heaps

  9. Michele /

    Well sweet girl, you just took my breath away with the beauty of those words. We will be holding you very tight in our prayers!!! Much love from Jim & Michele

  10. Brooke /

    I have followed your blog since you were first diagnosed and pray for your family. I truly believe God gives us hints when our time is nearing. I could write countless examples because I buried my mom when I was 18. It wasnt cancer that took her and I know at 18 I should be happy that I had her that long- a feat your girls may never have. But they will feel my pain that I feel now when she wasn’t there to help me pick out my wedding dress, or hold my babies and tell me how much she loved them or even to tell me she approved of the man I married. We are not promised tomorrow and I could leave this earth today but I have to believe if that is so I have learn and also taught my babies something about death that my mom taught me- when babies smile it’s the angels talking to them, my mom always said that and I promise I had the smiliest babies in the world. I have also taught my kids the brightest star in the sky is her and they can talk to her anytime. Those little things get me through the hard days when my friends complain their moms don’t keep the kids enough or that they are getting on their nerves. I just wish once I’d have that problem. I will be praying continuously.

  11. Prayers of love, healing and comfort after your surgery with speediest of recoveries too!! I think about guys often and pray for you each time too. We love you!

    <3 Tina, Connor and Dale too 😉

  12. Alicia /

    Jen, your girls are so beautiful and God chose you as the perfect mom for them. Lots of prayers are headed your way from Iowa. We love you!

  13. Oh, Sweet Ember. You are the most glorious, radiant, inspiring woman I have ever met. Just reading your words of peace and optimism makes me weep. I love you dearly and having met you in Doe Bay was one of my greatest gifts ever. Today is my birthday and I count you as an incredible gift. I’ll be calling on my angels to shepherd you through these days. With so much love, Janya

  14. I’ll be thinking of you and your sweet family tomorrow.

  15. Praying, Praying, Praying!

  16. Sherry /

    Jen, prayers are with you and your entire family. I prayer for good results tomorrow!

  17. Beautifully written. I am praying that your results yield cancer-free cells tomorrow. Continue to stay strong. And hello to Maren from Brooke.

  18. Jen,
    You are amazing. I firmly believe that God grants miracles everyday. Prayers and love to you and your family!

  19. Patty Wheeler /

    You have been in all of The Divas’ thoughts, prayers and wishes for a long while now. We won’t give up and those girls are so blest to have such and amazing mom. I was talking to one of the Divas today about how I just knew you as Roz’s daughter. Although I am not happy about the circumstances that you have gone through it has given us the gift of getting to discover you through your life’s journey. I am so in awe of the woman I know you are…strong, beautiful, intelligent. You are a gift to us and I want God to listen to all of us who are praying right now… Much love…

  20. Christina B /

    I stumbled upon your blog because a facebook friend had it posted. I do not know you. But I will in heaven, whenever that will be. Know that a stranger in Cincinnati, Ohio is praying for you right now. I am praying for God’s Glory to reign high and wide and deep over your life and your story. I am praying for healing and for sweet joy over your family. And I’m praying that God’s presence will feel so tangibly near to you in the midst of it all that you would wish it no other way because you are getting to experience Him in a more precious way than ever before.

  21. nancy zwolinski /

    Jen, Our prayers cover and surround you and yours.
    Nancy and Ray

  22. Rita O'Brien /

    Prayers, thoughts and love Jen.

  23. I will be praying for you, your husband and the girls. I love your attitude.

  24. Praying

  25. I have said it all before….we are connected now and always…you are my angel….hugs and prayers

  26. Continued prayers from Seattle. He has you and those sweet girls in the palm of His hand.

  27. Erica Allen /

    Praying for good news. Will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  28. Susan Anderson Hoghaug /

    Many prayers to you and your family. God bless you.

  29. Staici /

    Dear Heavenly Father….. I am Trusting You, Loving You and Praising you for Jen’s life!

  30. DENISE /

    Love and Prayers
    Neecie Leo and Family

  31. Laura D /

    Prayers from the Dollenmeyer family! Jen you are amazing!

  32. Thank you for sharing such beautiful, honest thoughts and words. Praying fervently for you and your family.

  33. Your faith brings me closer to god. You really are a leader and a teacher, but you are leasding/teaching us, by writing to your daughters, what the key to life is. Thank you for reminding me. You continue to amaze.

  34. Sarah G /

    Prayers for you and your family.

  35. Praying for you and your girls. So inspired by your faith.

  36. marsha /

    Praying, praying, praying! God is using you dear lady. And your loving spirit is being passed on to your daughters. May God bless you and keep you in the palm of His hand!

  37. Margaret /

    Isaiah 53:4-5
    Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
    yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
    But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

    Praying for healing for you.

  38. Tina O. /

    Lots of Orlandos, big and small, are praying for you, dear Jen.

  39. Prays up for you and your family!

  40. Michelle /

    Lifting you and your family up in prayer. Such a beautiful letter.

  41. So heartbreaking. Sending wishes and prayers your way.

  42. Your words are beautiful, your faith is profound. I lift you up in the highest of prayer, I am your prayer warrior and going to battle with a shield made of solid faith too. All my Love and Hope, Laura Liverman

  43. Beulah Ooten /

    Praying for you. Love you

  44. Your inspiration, truth of times, and resilience is a grace, a strength that will prevail into your girls future outlook on life regardless of what happens. I will pray for you. Thank you for reminding me that every moment is a gift.

  45. Penny K /

    Blessed be… And thank you for your strength.

  46. From the East /

    I pray for the 50 yrs but incase it doesnt happen I pray that your daughters find a loving mother-figure in their lives who would give them hugs love and advice through the years and hopefully partly fill the void.

  47. Maggie Rader /

    My prayers are with your family. Thanks for reminding me that each moment is truly a gift from God. May His Tender Mercies continue for all of you.

  48. You will be in the prayers of the students and myself. God always has a say and a plan–no matter what tests say. Your faith and trust is amazing.

  49. Huge bear hug, butterfly kisses.

    God’s arms are wrapped around you, Maren and Greta. His love keeps all three of you warm.

    Blessed be to all.

    Jeg elsker alle deg.