A Sister’s Love

How the Lord walked me through my sister’s cancer diagnosis and passing

It’s been eight months since I last saw my sister Robin. Eight months of processing the sweetness of the time we had and questioning why she had to go so soon. Robin was 58 years old and no bigger than a minute at the height of 4 foot 11 (even though she would tell her doctors she was 5 foot—I never corrected her). Her feet were so small that she could buy shoes in the kids’ section, which pleased her because Hello Kitty was her favorite!

Over these past eight months I have documented the faithfulness of God. Our prayers were answered with both yes and no responses. Note: God always answers our prayers.

He sees us. He hears us. He answers our prayers.

Robin died of cancer. She was originally diagnosed with breast cancer, and then within a few years it appeared in various places. She fought a tough battle with grace and dignity. We battled together with prayer and a large dose of humor. In my flesh I feel she went too soon. In God’s plan she fulfilled the days he had for her. Now I stop to gather up all my thoughts and seek what God has in her story.

Nothing is ever wasted. Romans 8:28 states, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

Robin’s life had purpose.

robinandlarryRobin’s favorite saying was, “This is my new normal.” This statement is a testimony of her acceptance of what God had for her. She was brave and strong. While tending to her husband Larry for most of their marriage, she cared for him with so much love, even while working full time. He was her “Buddy” and support. She knew one day she would be able to attend Bible study after he was gone. Larry passed away two years before Robin from complications due to diabetes.

She began her bucket list and moved into her “new normal.” Her list consisted of putting her toes in the ocean at the beach in Mexico, to see the Blue Man Group in Vegas and she was now free to join her first Bible study. To my surprise she joined Bible Study Fellowship. (Remember, God had her on a fast track.) They were studying the book of Matthew. So as she passed, the only book in the Bible she had completely read was Matthew. What a loving God to give her that book and those words of Jesus to serve her in her last days. She dug deep into the Beatitudes and was fed a dose of healing that her doctors couldn’t provide.

He sees us. He hears us. He answers our prayers.

Looking back, every prayer was answered. Larry lived long enough to walk his daughter Kendall down the aisle at her wedding. Robin prayed for a grandchild before she passed—img_6598that prayer was answered in the form of an adorable baby girl. The Lord poured out multiple blessings in a small amount of time. He brought joy and peace through these answers.

Through all the months of struggle I felt God so gently guiding, Jesus comforting and the Spirit moving. In my flesh I was seeking peace through good outcomes but was always reminded that we grow in the struggles. We grew. We grew with every diagnosis. Every treatment. Every disappointment. We grew closer to each other and closer to Christ.

During her illness I was led to confirm her purpose in this life. As sisters in the same family and sisters in Christ’s family, we sat and went over all the blessings. I had the honor of speaking the truth over her as we sat and cried. I got to share with her that she was a supportive loving wife, good friend and caregiver, a great mom and then a sweet grandmother. She had been a good sister and always thought of others before herself. She lived with the living kindness of Jesus. The Spirit was alive and well within her. When we let go of our disappointment of her time frame, God showed us that his timing is perfect.

He sees us. He hears us. He answers our prayers.

Robin and I texted back and forth over the many months she was ill. One day I sensed she needed encouragement about how much she is loved by God and her family, so I sent her a text. She responded:

“I know how loved and blessed I am. That gives me peace. All will be well. This is God’s plan for a reason. U will know it when he shows it to u. U will thank him then.”

This held such promise for me. Right out of Proverbs 3, she was reminding me to not lean on my own understanding. I set out to encourage her and God used her to encourage me. I hold tight to this Word that came through my sister because I know it’s from the Lord.

Seeking the Lord in all things brought such joy through our journey. Robin wore a Dory pin on her sweatshirt to remind her to “just keep swimming.” While running the race in this life, she ran to win.

1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”

Robin received her prize just after midnight on Nov. 6, 2015. She had her daughter by her side and was ushered into heaven with the song “I Can Only Imagine” playing by her head on her pillow.

Through God’s provision, we were guided through her last days by a hospice nurse who went by the nickname Mimi. She loves the Lord and grew to love my sister. She was a gift. She prayed over her night and day. I would find her speaking over Robin about how exciting it was going to be to enter heaven and see Jesus and Larry.

He sees us. He hears us. He answers our prayers.

Today we celebrate the next little granddaughter that arrived in September, the birthday month of both Robin and Larry. This little doll is named after our hospice angel Mimi. We will call her by Mimi’s given name, Noemi.

I believe in the truth of Romans 8:28. God does work everything together for the good of those who love Him. So this is a praise report. Praising in the midst of my broken heart.

My new normal.

Now I understand that my broken heart gives me a chance to share the pieces. We are only whole in Christ, and He wants us to share our brokenness. Please take a piece and be comforted.

He sees us. He hears us. He answers our prayers.

Grateful for God’s mercy as I “just keep swimming.”


raylenethomasRaylene Thomas has been married to her best friend, Tom, for 32 years. They have three adult children and live in Valley Center. Raylene is a lover of people and has a heart for volunteering. She just closed out a two-year season working for The Father’s House as the office manager. While very active with The Freedom Challenge, she has developed a heart for those who are trafficked. This next season brings promise of many new adventures while watching for open doors and trusting and listening to the Lord’s leading. She loves to laugh, take time with friends and be in the mountains. Above all, she treasures time with her family.

4 thoughts on “A Sister’s Love

  1. Laura Wagner says:

    Raylene, you are a beautiful person, sister and writer. Your tribute to Robin touched me so much. I had no idea you had lost her so recently. Thank you for sharing about her and God’s work in her life and how he answered prayers. Reading brought tears to my eyes – but they became tears of joy seeing God’s perfect care and love. Sending you lots of love and prayers for comfort. Laura


  2. Maxine says:

    Thank you for sharing your sister. God is such a blessing knowing He is in charge we may or may not know why things happen but just having faith can get us through so much. I lost my son he was 18 very special. But I see God in it All at 5 he died after T&A in intensive care they called me after 6 hours of saying he is OK surgery just busy. They could not wake him up said maybe my voice will.. Soon as I said his name he started kicking and screaming said leave me alone I’m dead. (he was 5 not knowing death) I got to have him for another 13 years. and knew at 18 God already showed me my Bobby loved heaven. A few days after my Bobby was on his journey my friend called me said she was not sure if she should tell me but-went on to say:”She fell asleep in the living room folding clothes something touched her Bobby was sitting on the table said “tell my mom( ITS OK )” When I went into his room just after he died I said to Bobby (ITS OK) follow the light. Same words I told him. Huge gift from God
    His shoulder dislocating in (boot camp). In the Army for a year sent home from Germany for surgery. 1979 I had a young run away girl living with us from Wyoming my Brian brought her home after he saw a problem in a taxi stopped to see. Driver said he called the police because the two girls had no money other girl left, MaryAnn stayed to say thank you he brought her home. I wrote Bobby told him about MaryAnn. I have letters from him one said I want to meet her. He came home met her would not have surgery without Marring MaryAnn. They were married 12 days. They only had their honeymoon and a weekend. had surgery he was taken home to Heaven 5 days after surgery
    MaryAnn never got in trouble again had difficult time for a while. Now lives on the East Coast is an RN had two kids who have combined 4 of their own so my grand kids and great grand kids. Bobby’s diagnosis was cardio respiratory arrest with hypoxia for hours (lack of Oxygen to the brain. Took 6 months to get that diagnosis.Doctors said we did everything usually we can get a heart to beat at least once, never ever took another beat or breath when they went to put him on a repertory his heart stopped.
    I always felt it was the anesthetic it was later I was told the systems are definitely Malignant hypothermia. MaryAnn never married. I tried explaining years ago your marriage was a honeymoon because she compared everyone to Bobby. But she is my daughter and I am blessed.
    I have a good life retired after 27 years at Palomar Hospital in Escondido.
    Live in Fallbrook Ca have a family business with my Grand son his wife and my great grand kids (my daughter’s son). My mom will be 97 in December lives with me having the business at this time of prices allows me to care for mom at home and work. Mom is amazing. loves being a great great grandma. The kids help me with my mom, when they come over, mom has not been able to stand for 1 1/2 years. She has her own teeth sees better then I reads all the time loves history. God has blessed me so very much. At 72 My cup runneth over

    Felt like telling you my story. Hope you feel blessed when you read it.

    God Bless you


  3. Kim Henson says:

    This was such a blessing to read, thank you for sharing your brokenness and the beautiful way that Jesus always sees us, hears us and always answers our prayers. Love you my precious friend 💗💗


  4. Dana Morrow says:

    Ray keen, you are such a special and beautiful person. My heart always fills with love when I witness your love. I am happy to have some small connection to you. Thank you:-)


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