In Christ Alone: Our Journey through and after Breast Cancer

a 37-year old, christian, mother of four, missionary/pastor's wife and her families story

Finding Joy in the Little Things May 27, 2017

Filed under: Eric + Kids Update — ewilmeth @ 11:56 AM

Proverbs 17:22 – A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Wilmeth Kids 2017

 

I am so thankful for my children. Kids have an unbelievable ability to go from one end of the emotions spectrum to the other in a blink of an eye. Sometimes this is a bad thing, but in recent days it has often been a blessing as a normal ho-hum day is turned into a joy-filled time together as something happens and we burst out in laughter together. Proverbs 17:22 is so true, “a joyful heart is good medicine”.

 

On several recent occasions the kids and I have been laughing together so exuberantly that our eyes water. In each of these occasions I have immediately had an additional smile in my spirit as I remember Amy laughing and smiling right along with our kids. She loved to laugh, have fun, smile, and be joyful in laughter.  Her joy was good medicine for my soul; the remembrance of her joy IS good medicine for my soul. I can hear her laugh in my kids’ laughter, I can see her smile in their faces. This makes my heart joyful.

 

As thankful as I am for my kids and the joy God continual provides through them, I am exponentially more thankful for my Savior, Jesus. My kids help lift up my spirit in a moment. Wonderful memories of Amy’s smile, laughter, and joy hold up my spirit, but the life giving love that Jesus shows for me sustains my spirit both today and forever. In John 15 Jesus gives an example of a grapevine and how we must abide with Him.  He ends the metaphor by saying, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (verse 11)

 

We can have joy in life but in order for that joy to be truly full, we need Jesus. If the Lord had not been building me and giving me the strength to rejoice in Him always, these moments of laughter and joy with my kids would have been spirit crushing remembrances of what we don’t have. Instead, because of God’s mercy, grace, and His joy they are celebrations of Jesus’ joy in us and a reminder that since Amy died on this earth knowing Jesus as her personal Savior, her home-going was not a goodbye but rather a see you later. Do you know Jesus? His joy and His love? Seek Him and you can know Him and His goodness.

 


 

Family Update:

The kids are quickly approaching summer break. Their last day of school is June 8th. Many have asked how we’ll handle kids out of school and me still needing to work in the office (and some have wondered what I’ve been doing with Asher while I work). Faith is 14 and very capable to keep an eye on things at home with an adult available via a quick phone call. Things go smoothly as long as her brothers agree to cooperate. They tell me they will. 🙂

 

Asher usually goes to the office with me. On Wednesday he spends the day with Becky Little (President Little’s wife) as I typically have meetings. The rest of the week he is able to just hang out with me in my office and play on the floor or watch shows on my second monitor. An amazon prime membership has come in handy so that he can watch Thomas, Dinosaur Train, and Backyardigans (a few of his favorites). The other folks in the office are very gracious to him and me as they help keep an occasional eye on him and let him help in some of the tasks of the office too. I don’t know if he quite earns his keep yet, but we are getting there.

 

Thank you so much for continuing to pray for and support us. May could have been (and at times has been) a pretty hard month. With Mother’s day and Amy’s birthday, and the fact that today has now been 20 weeks, we’ve been through lots of firsts and times that can be rough. God has been faithful and provided wonderfully for us through many of you. On Amy’s birthday I was overwhelmed by the many messages and texts reminding me of your love and prayers for us. That day, which could have been unbearably hard, was in fact a great day of joy and blessing. Thank you!

 

Isaiah 41:13

For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”

 

My View of the Mountains March 31, 2017

Filed under: Erics Updates — ewilmeth @ 10:08 PM

08.17.1999 – Rocky Mountains

June 2000 – Royal Gorge

Amy always loved to visit the mountains. She was able to visit the Alps in the summer of 1994 while on a trip with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music. In her journal from that trip she made several comments about the beauty of the area. After a couple days around Lake Geneva, which included a day hike to Châtel with her friend Alice, she remarked “I love this place so much that I don’t want to go on. Too bad! Dommage. I’ll miss it so much.” Personally, I’m glad she did return because then we were able to visit the Great Smokey Mountains around Gatlinburg, Tennessee for our Honeymoon in 1998. We made our way out to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado for our first anniversary in 1999 and we traveled back to the Rockies again several other times. The last mountain she got to go up on was Pike’s Peak in 2011.

 

2002 Missions Trip

The trouble with driving to visit the Rockies is the road you have to take to get there. For all the amazing beauty of the mountains, you must first pass through the plains. I don’t mean to belittle the likes of Eastern Colorado or Western Nebraska (or the seemingly never ending trek across I-80 through these lands), they contain their own beauty and they can be enjoyed and have much to offer. However, if your mind is on the mountains and the anticipation of being there, the plains are agony! You must simply endure mile after mile, each one looking mostly like the last one and the next one. In the midst of it, you know there is an end and yet it seems as though it will never come. If you are not careful, the drive will lead you to despair and hopelessness, you may even edge towards being bitter and angry about the landscape in which you find yourself.

 

What is a person supposed to do when a season of life becomes analogous with the drive through the plains? In my devotions yesterday the writer, speaking of grief, describes it as feeling “as though we are dragging ourselves through a rugged valley with little or no relief.” We know there is an end to the valley (and the plains). The end result will be glorious and great and will help us to forget all about the pain of the valley. That very real truth is easy to forget when all we see is mile after agonizing mile of flat, bleak plains.

07.05.2004 – Rockies

 

In Psalm 34, David recounts how the Lord delivered Him. He shows us how we should respond in the midst of life’s valleys. Verses 1 through 3 tell us:

1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2 My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.

3 O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

What an excellent charge for us today. No matter the circumstances, we can praise and worship God! Verse 4 continues:

4 “I sought the Lord, and He answered me,

And delivered me from all my fears.”

No matter how dark and agonizing the plains of life presently are, the Lord is here, answering, and delivering. Verses 5 through 7 declare God’s rescue:

5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

And then in verse 8 we find a beautiful reminder of the blessing that comes to those who seek God for their protection and find Him to be good.

8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

God’s blessings take many forms. Too often we only think of blessings as material things but seeing and experiencing mountains is a blessing. Comfort, rest, and peace for a weary soul is a blessing. Strength for today is a blessing. Memories of sweet times together is a blessing. Prayers and love from others is a blessing. Unchanging truth of God’s Word is a blessing. Hope, knowing that the mountains are coming is a blessing. Eternal hope in the Lord, knowing something even greater than the mountains is on the horizon, even better than that, is here now, is a blessing.

 

Psalm 34:18 says:

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

God is near, no matter the season of life, He is near. How thankful I am that in midst of my broken heart, He is here. My crushed spirit is being restored because He IS good!

 

I always had a desire to take Amy back to Lake Geneva to see the Alps once again. I wanted to have the privilege of experiencing that with her but we never got that chance. Today, Amy is experiencing sights and wonders in the presence of God that make the beauty and grandeur of the Alps seem no more wonderful than a heap of sand in a kids sandbox. One day, because of my salvation in Jesus, I will get to experience the marvelousness of God with her. Looking forward helps to alleviate present hurt and pain.

 

Are you looking towards the Lord? Whatever season of life you find yourself in today, will you magnify the Lord with me, and can we lift up His name together?

 

 

Psalm 18:1-3

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

 

The Rich Love of God February 16, 2017

Filed under: Eric + Kids Update — ewilmeth @ 10:49 PM

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:10 (NIV)

I have never doubted that my family has been loved and cared for by many, many people, but the outpouring of love in the last few weeks has been almost unbelievable. Hundreds upon hundreds of you were able to come and celebrate Amy’s life with us either in person img_7638-001or via the live stream, and we have continued to get cards in the mail from hundreds more who were unable to attend. Your words have been an encouragement, your shared memories a delight, and your testimonies about God’s impact in your lives because of how God chose to use Amy has been a joy to my soul that I cannot describe adequately.

Beyond the love that you have shared with us is the love and grace we have experienced from the Lord. He has used you to minister to us but He has provided peace beyond understanding and grace that has supplied for our strength day after day. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression from these statements. Don’t put on some rose colored glasses and think that life has been peachy. I can tell you that in the midst of the overwhelming grace and peace there has been immensely deep sorrow and loss and loneliness. Yet none of these emotions have lessened the truths of who God is or the truths of the promises in His Word. The loneliness I feel in the loss of my sweet pea is tempered by the overwhelming presence of God.

Psalm 139 comes to mind for me and it would be worth your time to go read it. There is nowhere I can go and not be with God. There is no thought I can have or emotion I can feel that God does not already understand and comprehend. He knows me and has known me since before I was even formed. And in that great knowledge and presence also comes protection. His hands have been upon me and my children, protecting us and guarding us. What a wonderful, loving and caring Heavenly Father.

The day-to-day life the kids and I have been living is varied and each day has brought different challenges. The older three kids have been able to slide back into their routine of school and homework.  The Lord has provided them with good friends and wonderful teachers and school staff to help watch over them and help them as needed. It is a wonderful answer to prayer to see how God has provided so wonderfully and quickly for us here in Columbia Station.

The kids have each been processing through the loss of their mom in their own way.  Each has expressed their loss, but also their confidence that Mom is in heaven. Ethan was asked about his time in Iowa for the celebration of life service and his response was wonderful; a testament to the love we’ve been receiving. He said, “I got so many hugs I don’t know what to do with them all!”

For me, in this new role as a single parent, I’ve been managing alright. Truthfully, God was very gracious and walked us to this spot with lots of time to prepare. I have been exceedingly thankful for the time that Amy and I had together since last May (when she had her first seizure) to have a slow stroll together towards our parting of ways. There are so many people who unexpectedly lose a loved one and I am thankful for God’s grace to allow me some great time with my wonderful Amy. I miss her more than I ever knew you could miss someone. I have enjoyed taking lots of time going through pictures and remembering so many things that I hadn’t thought of for quite some time. I’ve also enjoyed getting to share these stories with pretty much anyone who’s willing to listen. It has been good therapy for me.

A quick side note for you. I’ve been encouraged by several to keep writing updates and I plan to do so. I’m not sure what the frequency may be but I will write more. Also, if you have relied on Amy’s facebook feed to see the updates as they get posted, know that soon I am going to deactivate the account. You can subscribe to get the updates via email or look to my fb feed.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family. We treasure your love and support for us.In many ways you have been the expression of God’s rich love for us. Know that we love you too, pray for you often (specifically that God will bless you for your prayers for us, and that you will be drawn closer to God as you talk with Him), and we are wonderfully blessed by you. May God’s rich love fill you today.

IMG_5211.JPG

 

 

A Portrait of Grace January 10, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 9:16 PM

img_1227Amy Jo (Barker) Wilmeth (37) was born May 22nd, 1979, in Chillicothe, MO, and peacefully passed into the arms of Jesus with her parents and husband by her side on January 7th, 2017, after a 6-year battle with cancer.

Amy was preceded in death by grandparents George and Mary Ellen Barker, Grandma Donna Wilson, and Eric’s Grandma Couch.

Amy is survived by her devoted husband, Eric, and their four amazing children: Faith (13), Adam (10), Ethan (8), and Asher (3); her parents David and Sheri (Wilson) Barker of Ankeny, Iowa; her brother, Mike Barker of Dallas Center, Iowa (his wife Leah and daughter Bailey); her grandpa Wendell Wilson of Wapello, Iowa; her extended family of in-laws (Larry and Linda Wilmeth, Julie and Jeff Runyan, Lori and Carl Jacobsen, Scott and Chris Wilmeth, Nancy Wilmeth, and many nieces and nephews).

Amy graduated from Indianola High School and went on to Iowa State University where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering.

She married her high school sweetheart on August 15th, 1998. She was his “love-a-dove”, “sweet-pea”, “wonderful”, and “mon petite chou”!

Amy loved so many things: horses, exploring castles, amusement parks, baking cakes and cooking, singing, reading, smelling roses, serving others, spending time with family, and most of all she loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Amy’s smile was infectious and noticed quickly by all who met her. She spread joy to others by loving them and caring for them. A more selfless person you will never meet. She was gentle, humble, and sweet. She was often thought to be quiet but that was only because she always sought to choose her words wisely; when she spoke you could be sure it would be worth listening. Despite that quiet demeanor, her wit was outstanding and always perfectly timed. She was incredibly smart, and she would decimate most people at any word games she played. Her compassion was boundless, and her heart always had room to love others more. Everyone who knew or even met Amy was a better person for the encounter. She lived life with grace, poise, and dignity. Her unwavering faith, hope, and love were grounded in the truth of the Word of God, which she loved dearly. She always sought to point others to Jesus and to glorify Him and not herself.

She will be sorely missed, but we rejoice that she is in the presence of God.

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

A time of visitation will be held Friday (Jan. 13th) from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm and a
Celebration of Life service will be Saturday (Jan. 14th) at 11:00 am followed by a lunch.

Ankeny Baptist Church
2842 SW 3rd St Place
Ankeny, IA 50023

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent in her honor to:

  • Baptist Church Planters – 36830 Royalton Road, Grafton, OH 44044
  • Bennington Public Library Expansion Campaign – 15505 Warehouse St, Bennington, NE 68007
  • Amy Wilmeth Memorial Fund – www.youcaring.com/AmyWilmethMemorial

 

 

Perfect Healing and Peace January 7, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 10:54 PM

Romans 8:18 – “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

IMG_3126Amy entered into the presence of her Heavenly Father tonight (Jan 7th). She passed peacefully with me and her parents by her side. She is having the wonderful glory of God revealed to her right now and we rejoice for her. We weep for the loss of a wonderful woman, daughter, mother, wife, friend, child of God. But we do not grieve as those with no hope because God’s word declares that even as Jesus had victory over death He gives that victory and life to all who believe.

We know with full certainty that this is not a forever goodbye but rather a see you soon. We are resting in the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.

Thank you for your prayers and love. We will continue to need them as we navigate the road ahead. God has been our faithful solid rock providing always what we need and He will continue.

I hope you will be able to celebrate Amy’s life with us next weekend. We will have a visitation time Friday (Jan. 13th) from 6:00-7:30 and a Celebration of Life service Saturday (Jan. 14th) at 11:00 am followed by a lunch. Both service will be at my sisters church in Ankeny, IA.

Ankeny Baptist Church
2842 SW 3rd St Place
Ankeny, IA 50023

I look forward to seeing many of you then and recalling with joy the wonderful and full life my sweetheart lived.

One of Amy’s favorite books of the Bible was Philippians. And a few verses that she claimed and clung to these past few years were these:

Philippians 1:18b-20 “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

Will you praise Jesus with us for who Amy is and more importantly who He, the Messiah, is tonight? Amy exalted Christ in life and continues too in her death.

God bless you all. May His peace surround each of you and uphold you as it is for us.

 

She Gets to Go Home Soon January 6, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 3:51 PM

Amy posted a blog with a similar title a bit over a year ago and it caused a smidge of a stir. This is Eric writing a brief update for you and this title is accurate to what it seems to be. 

God is our provider and we have been praying since entering hospice care that Amy would feel well enough to enjoy a great Christmas, and then not have to linger long and suffer much afterward. Well… Hallelujah! It appears the Lord is seeing fit to answer that prayer with a resounding “Yes!” Isn’t He good? Isn’t He merciful? 

You have been reading her previous posts and know about how God has provided for some wonderful family time. Since Christmas Amy has been experiencing a gradual decline, most notable in her increased difficulty breathing and needing to be on oxygen. However, she took a serious turn for the worse when she had a major seizure episode Wednesday evening. Our hospice nurse told me she doesn’t expect that Amy will live a week, if that. Of course, even hospice professionals aren’t infallible, but usually they have a pretty good read on situations like this. I have chosen to keep her at home with close attention and support from hospice and Amy’s folks (they arrived this afternoon). She has been aware of where she is and what’s going on and even this morning, although she wasn’t able to speak, she hugged the kids as they left for school. 

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support for our family. We pray for you often as well knowing that we are all in this together. God is good. 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalms‬ ‭23:4‬ ‭

I like the imagery in this verse. Although Amy is facing physical death it is still just a shadow. It really has no eternal effect on her. 

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” – 2 Corinthians 4.16-5:1

Amy will soon be in the arms of Jesus and see Him face to face and we will mourn and rejoice because God’s grace is sufficient for each and everyone of us. 

“”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John‬ ‭3:16‬ 

If you do not know Jesus or don’t have peace about your eternal home I remind you that Jesus loves and wants you to cry out to Him. He alone can calm and comfort you. 

He is comforting us and providing indescribable peace for each moment. God is our provider, is He yours?

Side Note: When the time comes we will have a celebration of life service near our family in central Iowa (specifically in Ankeny, IA). All are welcome. 

Thanks again for your love and prayers!

-eric (on behalf of our family)

 

God’s Power December 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — awilmeth @ 1:27 PM

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

Have you ever experienced a miracle? Has something unexplainable happened to you? Have you ever been through a situation that seemed impossible to navigate, only to have a solution present itself? Small or big, miracles happen around us every day. God is at work all the time!

We have many demonstrations of God’s power in the Bible. David slayed the giant Goliath. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego survived being thrown in a blazing hot fiery furnace. Daniel survived a night in a hungry lions’ den. And this time of year, we celebrate the miracle of Jesus coming to earth and being born of a virgin Mary. Jesus did many miracles while He was on earth. Then He died on the cross to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and three days later rose from the dead! Only God can do that!

The same God who had the power to perform all these miracles so long ago is the same God we serve today. And He is still performing miracles today! Our family has our own “big” miracle of our now 3 1/2 year old son Asher, who survived my cancer treatments while he was in the womb and then 40 days in the NICU while his lungs developed. Today you would never know he had been through all of that. He’s a normal, energetic kid who spreads happiness and joy wherever he goes!asher-and-momma

But God doesn’t only work through “big” miracles. He works in the small things of everyday life as well. We receive an unexpected bill and God provides through an unexpected gift. We have a big task to accomplish and God provides someone to help us with it. We are feeling overwhelmed and something gets canceled to give us the break we need. God is at work in all these details to work things out for our good. It’s easy to miss these “small” miracles if we are not paying attention, but demonstrations of God’s power are all around us.img_7529

We have seen the power of God at work over these past weeks. He truly does own the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and meets all our needs (Philippians 4:19.) We have had funds come in to share special outings as a family. We watched a couple movies at the movie theater, including one in 3D to celebrate Adam’s 10th birthday! We also enjoyed some game nights and movie nights at home. Eric and I have enjoyed going out for lunch dates and sharing a Cinnabon at the mall, just like we used to do when we were dating.atthemovies

We took the older boys shopping for suits. They have always loved having suits and dressing up for special occasions, but haven’t had them for a few years. They loved dressing up for church on Christmas Sunday and celebrating the birth of our Savior in their brand new suits! Then we got to open all the presents that were overflowing under our Christmas tree! Slater Baptist Church sent a group out to help us in November. Part of their gift to us was money for our four kids to buy “big” Christmas gifts for each other. We also had the Columbia Community adopt our family for Christmas and they brought in a ton of presents! Add in gifts from family and our tree was overflowing! We truly had a blessed Christmas!

img_20161113_151147435_hdr-collageWe have also been blessed to have many visitors continue to come through. We had a full house for Christmas with my grandpa from Texas, my parents, my brother and his family, Eric’s parents, and his sister, all from Iowa! Eric’s other three siblings were able to come out a couple weekends ago, as well as my Aunt and Uncle. We also had a visit from out dear friend and pastor from back in Iowa. We shared many fun times playing games, making Christmas goodies, and just being together. What a blessing!img_7536

We continue to get many cards, letters, and gifts in the mail everyday. The Columbia Schools staff brought a very generous gift to bless our family. We also received a box of cards from the kids and staff at the Bennington Schools back in Nebraska. We are so blessed to have so many loving and encouraging people in our lives.

And last but not least…drum roll please…the Wilmeths have a NEW VAN! We are truly amazed at how God has provided through so many of you! img_7631When I say new, it is by far the newest vehicle we have ever owned. We have never had a vehicle under 100,000 miles and this one only has 24,000. Usually we don’t buy vehicles in the same decade they were made, but this one is a 2016. I still can’t believe it is our van! We got a great deal on it and it has nearly all the bells and whistles with it. A lot has changed since our 2001 van was made, so we are having fun discovering how everything works in our new van. It will be a blessing to our family for many years to come.

You may be wondering how my health is doing these days. This past week my breathing has become more labored, so I had to go back on my oxygen. This probably indicates the cancer in my lungs is growing again. I also get very winded with any activity. Pray that I will continue to have enough energy and stamina to do things with Eric and the kids as they are still on Christmas break this week and we have plans for some more fun outings.

Thank you all for going on this journey with us. We are so thankful for the prayers, love, and support of so many in so many different ways! You are truly a blessing to us!