I saw God’s hand again yesterday. This time His hand was in the form of a beautiful woman named Dani. Dani is an incredible, vibrant, talented, enthusiastic, bright mother of three who found out six months ago that she has brain cancer. In sitting across the table with her at lunch for four hours yesterday, it was very evident to me that Dani is NOT cancer. Dani is not defined by cancer. Dani is a radiant daughter of God who knows who she is and is learning how to embrace adversity and the benefits thereof. She has been blessed with insight, inspiration, and with a great deal of strength and character, which will enable her to fulfill her mission on this earth. She is well aware of the fact that her mission will not be as lengthy as most, but she understands that she was given agency in the pre-mortal existence and chose to accept her mission here on earth with dignity and honor. Just as Dani’s son Isaac jumped for joy in April upon receiving and opening his mission call to London, just one month prior to finding out his mother had cancer, she believes that she too jumped for joy upon finding out when, where and how she would be serving her mission here on earth. Isn’t it interesting how many of the young men and women who receive mission calls or sign up for service missions, or even register to serve their country, get extremely enthusiastic about serving in the most faraway places with the meekest of provisions and the most risk, trial and adventure possible. Why then would it be any different for us when we opened our mission calls to come to earth? Perhaps we too became extra pumped about the most difficult missions.

Stephanie Mabey nailed it when she wrote the lyrics to one of my favorite songs…. Glorious.

“There are times when you might feel aimless, you can’t see the places where you belong. But you will find that there is a purpose, it’s been there within you all along. When you’re near it, you can almost hear it, It’s like a symphony, just keep listening and pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part, everyone plays a piece and there are melodies in each one of us… It’s glorious. You will know how to let it ring out as you discover who you are. All those around you will start to wake up to the sounds that are in their heart. It’s so amazing, what we’re all creating. Its Glorious.”

I cannot tell you the number of experiences I have had in the last four years where I promise you, and would swear on my life if necessary, I have witnessed God’s hand in the details. God does not give us cancer. God does not make bad choices for us. God does not punish us for another’s mistake. God simply gave us all a choice as to whether or not we wanted to come to this earth. The purpose in coming to this earth was to learn to become like Him. Somewhere along the way we perceived that life should be a cake walk; it should be parties, vacations, nice cars and laughter. Somehow we decided that there were good emotions and bad emotions. At some point we thought we should be immune to the trials, lessons and experiences that would teach us what we need to know…. which is why we came here in the first place.

What God does do is love us with a love that is far greater than we, as humans can even comprehend. He knows each one of us perfectly. He knows our feelings, our needs, our desires, our heartaches. God wants us to have joy in our journey here, but he needs us to learn to find TRUE JOY. Not the fleeting and momentary joy that the world offers up that is swiftly taken in the blink of an eye. God needs us to learn to be like him and in so doing, we learn that joy can be found amidst any circumstance. The one thing that cannot be taken from us is our choice about how to see or handle the trials and lessons this life offers us. In order for God to help each one of us, He has an army of angels, more than we can comprehend, both visible angels that we call by name here on earth each day, and also angels who have passed before us whom we cannot see with the eye but can feel if we are very very still.

I have felt, seen, and witnessed angels round about me and my family non-stop for a long time. Along with the many trials we have encountered, we have been blessed by an equal amount of angels. Back in the spring when we found out that the cancer in Rileys body was again growing, we had saved up for a family vacation that we would take this coming spring, before my youngest son, Levi, leaves on his mission. Of course with cancer comes many expenses and the money saved was quickly gone. I knelt down back in May and tearfully prayed to a loving Father in Heaven and asked that we would be blessed with the means to be able to create some memories with our family and be able to go on some vacations. Several months later I was approached by a complete stranger who, within minutes of introducing herself, told me that she would like to pay for my family to go on a vacation anywhere we would like to go. Can you imagine my surprise upon hearing her words? I wondered who had been listening in on my prayer and who had told this dear, kind woman of my desire. The only person listening to my plea was God, and He is the one who spoke to her and prompted her to reach out to a family she had never met and offer to make their dreams come true. Just a few short months after that, some more earth bound angels, friends we had not seen for many years, contacted us and asked who Riley’s favorite NFL team was. I told them it was Greenbay Packers and within a few days we had four tickets to the game and airfare to get there. If there were no God, how would you explain this?

Yesterday, as I pondered my encounter with my new friend it was very evident to me that it was no mistake we had met. In fact, I believe God had arranged for us to meet on two occasions and upon discussion of our whereabouts on a particular day several months ago we realized that we very easily could have met back in May.

I was reminded that we all have agency and one choice can change the course of a life, but when our paths change due to our choices, God just makes plan B, and that is why I met Dani in November instead of in May. Dani was able to help me see life with cancer through the eyes of the beholder and she answered many of the questions I have. In turn, I was able to give her the perspective of those loved ones on the outside who feel so helpless and want to speak of the elephant in the room but aren’t sure what is safe to say.

I am so grateful for the many amazing and incredible angels in my life. I have been blessed with the most wonderful family, friends, neighbors and total strangers, who have been a big part of why I am not curled up in a ball in a corner somewhere. This life truly is a symphony and God is a masterful conductor. He knows every intricate detail of what each of us need, what will make each of our lives rich with experience and learning and just how much we can handle.

I cannot wait to look into His eyes and learn all he can teach me in those moments of intense exchange without words. I have so much love and trust for Father in Heaven. Along with every challenge he has given us, He has walked by my side or sent angels in His place so that I would know of His love for me and that I am never alone.