The Step Up

The Step Up

With so much to grieve or be anxious about in our world, I want to offer a very real, encouraging story from my dear friend Fred Sieger. It looked for a while like he would lose the battle and many of us prayed like crazy for him. When the tide turned, or as he says, when the steps went up, his voice weak, Fred went to the front of the church to share his story. He was still so gaunt we could hardly recognize him and we all leaned in to hear.

Fred's Harley license plate

(All of the photos on this post are from Fred Sieger.)

The Step Down to the Step Up
The Step Down:
In October of 2014, I noticed a swollen gland on the left side of my neck, very small and no big deal. In November I woke up one night with what I thought was a toothache. I thought, oh yea, that’s what has been hurting a little. I went to the dentist and she said it wasn’t a tooth.
I went to a throat specialist. He took a biopsy and said, “Throat cancer. We can operate or do radiation and chemo, which is what I recommend.”

December 1st, I started radiation five times a week and chemo one time a week, for two months. The day after it began, the plumbing started to back up; one of the side effects of the treatment. They gave me a catheter bag to wear for the two months, at the end of which they would operate.

Two weeks into the treatments I could not eat any solid food. All that would go down was Ensure, only strawberry, vanilla, strawberry and vanilla, strawberry and vanilla, every day for two months. Towards the end, I was not getting anything down for days. By the time I finished the treatments I could not eat at all and had lost 50 lbs.

That’s when they put me in the hospital to operate on the plumbing. The doc called it the Roto-Reuter, up the front to clean out things. That was on Tuesday. Wednesday they brought me a pill and cut it up in small pieces, but I gagged on it. Nothing was going down.

sunrise w driftwood

The Step Up
That was Ash Wednesday. Father Rick, my favorite priest, stopped by after church that evening. He anointed my head with oil and prayed for healing, and also put ashes on my forehead, saying, “Oh man you are dust and to dust you shall return.” That gets your attention in a place like this. Then we prayed and had communion. Fr Rick took a small piece of the host (wafer) about the size of a baby aspirin and I put it under my tongue so it would dissolve.

The next day they woke me at 7 A.M. and I had breakfast, later lunch, then dinner and an evening snack. Just like that, it turned around and I could eat!

That night, after everyone left and the nurses were done poking around and taking blood, I was lying in bed, around 11 pm. I was wondering what in the world had happened. I was overcome by emotions and started to cry uncontrollably, for maybe fifteen minutes, knowing that I could eat and was slowly getting better.

A true miracle and healing.

The three things I learned from this are:
1. Enjoy your job. You spend many hours at it. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re in the wrong field.
2. Take time with friends. Don’t say, “Someday let’s do this or that.” Do it now. Take time with special people.
3. Help others. Make a difference in other people’s lives. Volunteer your time. Help neighbors.

Leave this place a better place.

Be blessed and be a blessing.

When you have a set back in life, look for what God is setting up for you to bless others. — Fred Sieger

We knew Fred was truly “back” when his sunrise and sunset pictures from bicycle rides started appearing again on Facebook

back on the bike again
The bike is back!

sunset w red puffy clouds

sunset over Sarasota

sunset w orange clouds


sea oat sunset

Fred's Harley, ready to celebrate the Fourth of July
Fred’s Harley, ready to celebrate the Fourth of July

Though Fred still struggles to swallow and makes regular use of his blender, he has regained weight and looks like himself again, and never complains. Happy to be alive, Fred isn’t asking for perfection. His license plate really is the way he lives, giving thanks. Fred quietly goes about his days doing all he can to make a difference.

And he does.

Do you have a story to share?

Sisterhood of World Bloggers Nomination

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers AwardWe interrupt our usual programming with this special word:

I want to thank Zoe M McCarthy, author of Calculated Risk, for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

As part of the process, Zoe posed questions that you might be curious to know as well.

1. Why did you start blogging?

Initially I started because editors and agents insisted that writers build their own readership. I tossed around a lot of topics, until my youngest daughter asked me a series of questions and helped me see that I am all about healing and peace. Once I had that focus, I began to write, and haven’t looked back. I love it! Actually, I have spent more mental time on my blog than my fiction. I count it a privilege to share my little glimpses of peace.


2. What was the topic of the blog you wrote that had the greatest impact on your readers and why?

That is hard to gauge, since all I have to go by are comments and stats. According to them, my posts surrounding my mother’s death have touched many readers. We all face death and loss, and dealing with that reality is not something you find in typical chitchat, or T.V. sitcom. In Glimpse of Peace I share what I see and feel. That is often scary. (No. It’s always scary to be so transparent.) My point is more than the pain. We all have that. I try to share hope. Real hope.


3. What is your process from getting a blog idea to announcing your just submitted post?

As soon as I hit “Publish,” my mind begins seeking the next one. All week long, everything I read, see, hear and undergo runs through that filter. Sometimes a phrase will hit the mark, other times an experience, and sometimes it’s a picture, saying or Bible verse that speaks volumes to me. I have to refrain from thinking about “what they need,” but focus on what is most real to me. That is what resonates with others as well. Once I sit and start typing, the words usually flow. Then I’m on to finding the right photos, sometimes embedding my poetry or verses into a photo, and formatting the whole lot. I go through many revisions until I cry uncle and hit “Publish.”


4. What is something you’d like to learn how to do to improve your blog this year?

Mechanics is probably what I spend the most time on, and get frustrated with. I’m learning some html. That and the photos. My husband has thousands of great ones, so I spend way too much time going through pictures, formatting, etc. They have become integral to my blog. So I want to learn how to do it all without spending hours after I’ve finished the writing.


5. What kinds of blogs do you enjoy reading?

I love contemplative blogs with writing that drills through to my heart, like Ann Voskamp and Dani Di Lucca. I also spend lots of time on how-to’s, everything from Zoe McCarthy’s writer helpls, to how I can get more toner from my cartridge. I’m a funny mix of artistic and practical, so I run the gamut. My biggest problem is limiting myself. There isn’t enough time for all I’d like to read!


6. What are three words that best describe who you are?

Insightful, caring, contemplative


7. What book did you most enjoy reading last year and why?

That’s hard. I love books! This year I haven’t allowed myself a lot of fiction reading, other than those I judged for the Carol Awards or critiqued. I think The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life, by Dan B Allender has impacted me the most. It has a companion study guide which my daughters and I are doing together, by phone. It has been revealing and healing.


8. What is a non-blogging goal you’d like to accomplish this year?

I started to say that was easy, then realized it isn’t. My first goal is consistent physical wellness, so that I can accomplish the other, which is to finish editing my novels and get them in print, and finish writing my contemporary one, which has been awaiting my attention for too long.


9. When you’re not blogging, what do you enjoy doing?

• Taking Lily, my Golden Retriever, to the beach
• Singing and worshiping with my husband
• Time with my kids and grand kids and other family members
• Reading
• Writing
• Bible study
• Gardening
(not necessarily in that order)


10. What was a spiritual lesson you learned in the past year?

God is enough.


My nominees for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award are:

Dani Di Lucca at
Keri Wyatt Kent at
Sandi Rog at
For pure fun:
Kelly Klepfer at


Questions for my nominees:
1. What motivates you the most?
2. What are your goals for your blog?
3. Do you write anything outside of blogging?
4. What is your biggest challenge
5. Who do you admire the most?
6. Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?
7. What book has influenced you the most?
8. What is your greatest fear?
9. If you could accomplish one thing this year, what would you choose?
10. What is your greatest blessing?

Now it’s your turn, dear reader. Will you share your answers to any of those questions?

Out of darkness

Above the clouds
Above the clouds
On the plane to Europe, I watched, enchanted, as the sun rose over waves of white clouds. From the top, the massive cloud coverage looked like brilliant cotton pillows or rows of whipped cream. What a change when the plane dove toward the Zürich airport. We penetrated the clouds and the cabin instantly darkened. For the next weeks, the only time I saw the sun was when we drove to a mountaintop to hike, or spent a weekend in an Alpine ski village.
Guayaquil Ecuador
Guayaquil Ecuador by Jack H Thompson

Almost everyone I talked with complained or apologized for the glum weather, and I’m sure many are plagued with SAD. (Seasonal Affective Disorder, caused by lack of sunlight)

Swiss fog
Swiss fog

The constant grey sky and frequent fog cover, people walking huddled against the damp cold, and the predominance of black clad citizens admittedly can be depressing.

thick fog in eastern Switzerland
thick fog in eastern Switzerland

I’m flying home next week, back to sunny, warm Florida, flip-flops and sandals and sunglasses. Though the damp cold does get to the bones, the ever-present fog hasn’t really bothered me.

I know this is only temporary.

And I know where I’m heading.

How very sad it would be to live in the fog forever.

To live without the hope of warmth and light.

I feel for my daughter and her friends and their desire for sunshine.

I feel even more for those who always live in the fog, whose lives are circumscribed by their own wants and drives, who search for meaning and find only emptiness, who reach out for life and come up with empty hands.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Tracey walking Caitlin
Tracey walking Caitlin

Just as Tracey and I chose to go up the mountain to walk Caitlin in the sunshine, any human being can choose the light.
back into the fog
back into the fog
in Switzerland

Even when it feels like we are surrounded by darkness.
house in fog
house in fog

I could say discover your inner child, or seek your own peace and tranquility. I could encourage you to get more exercise and eat a healthy diet. Make friends. Volunteer. Find a hobby. Those are good and helpful, but don’t bring us into the sunshine.

I only know one way. Sometimes it starts with a mountaintop experience. Sometimes it is a cry in the night. Sometimes it is a gentle climb into the light.

But the path is the same. The way out of darkness.

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Romans 5 1-2 MSG

And we discover that we don’t even do the climbing. We are carried into the light.

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have is all-life healing and whole.

I Peter 1:3-5