Sprigs of life


1. a valueless plant growing wild, especially one that grows on cultivated ground to the exclusion or injury of the desired crop.

2. any undesirable or troublesome plant, especially one that grows profusely where it is not wanted.

Everybody has ’em.

Nobody likes ’em.

Often times, you can get them out of your front yard, only to find they have spread to the back. It’s like they never disappear, fully.

I look at my mom’s cancer in much the same way. She found two weeds (tumors) in one area of her body. The RoundUp (chemo/radiation) was sprayed and it seemingly worked to shrink the problem. Only, to her distress, a few weeks months later, two more weeds popped up in another area of her body.

Let’s take it a little further, in that, the entire situation, and all that is involved with her cancer is like fighting weeds. Every time we turn around, there’s a new type of weed cluttering up the path, attempting to choke out life, good life.

I don’t like weeds. Never have. I am one of those folks who would much rather see only the pretty flowers and green grass. I do not see weeds as a challenge; I see them as an ordeal. Weeds equal daunting work ahead. Weeds equal hardship.

But, in the midst of my mother’s cancer, where it appears that the weeds are taking over, I have seen growth of a different kind.

New, beautiful, good growth.

I am being reminded, daily, how my mother…me…my family…you…are so very precious to God, our Father.

I am being reminded, daily, to look at the good, not the bad.

My mother still has a sense of humor.

My mother is still eating and breathing, though it be labored at times.

My mother can walk. Sort of.

My mother can still sing.

My mother is alive.

Always, always, new, strong buds or shoots will try very hard to spring up, even in a pasture full of weeds and mesquite thorns.

New growth, I’ve noticed, in my own life:

  • My husband and I have grown even closer during my mother’s cancer. What was already, in my opinion, a strong bond has strengthened. Cancer can do that to a couple. It can also choke out a relationship, if allowed, but in our case, we have relied on one another in a way we never have before. We talk. We trust. We love. ThrillCam has grown in my esteem, so very much, over the last few months. This season has not been easy on him; I’m gone a lot, which makes him Mr. Mom and Mr. Dad all at once, all while he juggles his job, the church, my emotions, the boys, baseball, etc., etc., etc. He has loved my mother as if she were his own mother. He has tried very hard to put her best interests ahead of his own, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always wanting what is best for her. He has honored her just as my sister and I have. (Kudos to his own mother and father for doing a fine job of raising a good, good man.)
  • My sister and I have learned to trust each other better. We’ve had to. We’re all we have. My father passed away 3 years ago, so it’s up to us. My sister has taken on the very hard task of being the primary care giver to my mom. She has risen to the occasion with grace and beauty. I haven’t told her how much I appreciate all that she does, and I should. Maybe she’ll read this.
  • I am constantly blown away by friends and family who continue to pray for me, my mom, and my family throughout this long season. God seems to always place the right person, at the right time, in my path. A phone call here. An email there. A text. An offer for meals for my husband and boys back home… The list goes on and on. I’ve, once again, been reminded that community is so very, very important…even when I’m out in the country, close to no one. I will try very hard to not only take notice of others’ compassion and care shown to me, but I will also attempt to emulate these actions, showing others I care about them.

You must be willing to look at the weeds, into the weeds, to find the new growth. But, once you start looking, you might be very surprised to see good, strong sprouts pushing and shoving their way through the dirt and weeds. I just about stepped on the little sprigs of new life I’ve pictured here, if it hadn’t been for my sister pointing them out.

Once you spot the new growth, you may need to nurture it for it to grow. (prayer, reading scripture, seeking wise counsel, forgiving…) Weeds are tough, but they can’t compete with a good, strong plant with good, strong roots and soil.

Finally, I’m learning to be thankful for the weeds, no matter how thick they are. Because from within the weeds, sprouts of maturity, compassion, honor, and love can be born and cultivated.

It may not be easy, nor fun. But, in the end, a beautiful life will be produced.

You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way. 2 Sam. 22:37

Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
I instruct you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble. Prov. 4:10-12

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path. Ps. 119:105

I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me–that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Anne Lamott




  1. launda

    Elizabeth, I’m so proud to know you! I’m amazed how beautifully you put into words this devastating time in all of your lives. It would be so easy to let this situation tear apart every aspect of your life, but instead you have chosen to find strength, love, and compassion. Keep fighting the good fight! Launda

  2. Karen Banister

    Beautifully stated and I agree with Launda. . . .it’s a pleasure and blessing to know you. We can all apply what you’ve written to our own lives and make changes and differences in our paths. Thank you for sharing and I SO admire your strength! : ) Karen

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