A Holy Spirit Story: Pink Cupcakes and Rainbows

Acts 1:8 (NIV)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


Kevin Pennebaker recently shared this story with me. It is as powerful as it is painful. It is a story of the fallenness of this world and the faith of Jesus in the face of it. Sometimes it doesn’t occur to us how Jesus faced the very worst of the world he created with the depths of human struggle and the reality of divine faith. We witness this kind of story in today’s entry. 

My journey with the Daily Text (now Wake-Up Call) began back in May 2017. On June 9 of that same year, less than a month after getting started, you had something to say that would prove to be a game-changer for my wife, Cheri. You see, what we didn’t know at the time was that in just a little more than three months, she would be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

Sadly, that type of cancer is a death sentence. For a little more than five years she battled on until the Lord called her home this past October. I miss her!

My wife loved to write. Her friends on Facebook would tell her they would look forward to her next post. She had a unique way of telling stories, being real, and letting others in on her life and what she was thinking and feeling. Her niece recently wrote that through her life her Aunt Cheri had taught her “about trusting God even when you don’t understand and looking around for the good even in the hard moments.”

In the midst of Cheri’s five-year trek, she was kicking around the idea of pulling her stories together into a book. Upon hearing about it, a very good friend’s daughter who was maybe twenty years old at the time told her to, write the book. That’s all the motivation she needed. She wrote the book and called it, Pink Cupcakes and Rainbows. It was a collection of Short Stories From the Fight Against the Monster We Call Cancer.

Back to 2017.

When you find out you have cancer, naturally, many tests follow as they try to determine exactly what’s going on so they can figure out how to proceed with your treatments. I’ll let my wife take it from here as she recounts in chapter eight of her book some of what she experienced in those early days.

The worst thing I had to endure was an MRI-guided biopsy that went all wrong. I was face down with my arms strapped behind me. My legs strapped together. I had to put my face down in a mold. And then they put me in the MRI machine over and over as they tried to get some of my flesh to do their own biopsy. My tears literally dropped out of the mold and down onto the floor. It took over three hours. I was so dizzy and weak from the position I was in, and not having been able to eat, and the constant motion of the machine going in and out of the tunnel. At one point I pushed the buzzer they gave me, and they helped me sit up and I told them I was done. I sat there and cried. They begged me to try one more time. Somehow I dug real deep and I suppose an extra dose of grace came in that room. I told them that they had one more chance and then I was leaving. Thank the good Lord that within a few minutes, they finally had what they needed. They pulled me out of the tunnel again and as I sat up they handed me my glasses and I could see drops of my blood on the floor. It felt inhuman. I was pretty sure I was not made for such things and maybe I just needed to tap out.

I couldn’t even talk about it for a few days. I would just tell Kevin that it was horrid and I was too broken and sad to even tell him what happened. Finally, one day I was able to tell my mother and she cried with me.

One night I gave in and said this word to Kevin—”whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy???” What had I ever done to deserve this?? I told him that I had always tried to obey those in authority over me . . . always tried to do what God asked us to do in obedience to Him. I was a faithful wife and mother. And I looked around at others that weren’t even trying half the time and their lives were great!!

This is the quote Mr. Honey read to me that night from J. D. Walt,

“Trouble is the unfortunate feature and a bitter fruit of the insanely complex, compounded brokenness of a fallen creation. It is neither an indictment on the goodness of God, nor the faith of His followers.”

In other words . . . bad things do happen to good people. In this world, we were promised that we would have trouble. We were also promised that God would provide all we need for every need we have. I wasn’t necessarily being punished for something or less loved by God. It could easily just be because we live in a broken, fallen, imperfect world.

J. D.— thank you! Thank you for your words. Thank you for helping to shed light on my wife’s path that sustained her throughout her final years. In the end, she left behind a legacy through her life and book that proclaimed, “No matter what . . . God is still good!”

Kevin Pannebaker will gladly send (at his expense) a copy of Cheri’s book Pink Cupcakes and Rainbows: Short Stories from the Fight Against the Monster We Call Cancer to the first one hundred people who request one at this link. Keep in mind Kevin is a one-man band now and it may take some time to get it all processed.


Our Father, thank you for this powerful story of your grace and mercy even in our darkest hour. It is a cliche and yet a true one. Life is not fair, but you are good. Thank you for Cheri; for her life and faith and for giving her the courage to write down the record of your faithfulness. Thank you for Kevin who has stewarded the story into our lives. That’s what we do. We steward your story through our own for one another. We pray for those today who sit in such dark and painful places—that we would be your light and grace and peace to them—even healing in Jesus’s name, amen. 


Do you know someone who is facing a hard or even impossible situation in their life? How might you pray for them today? And how might you follow those prayers into deeper engagement? 


I’m not sure we have sung this one before here, but it is definitely time. Let’s sing “Victory in Jesus!” It’s hymn 119 in our Seedbed hymnal: Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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P.S. Holy Spirit Stories Welcome

I would love it if you would send a story of faith from your life we might use on a Saturday in the future. We will be glad to attach your name or a pseudonym or anonymity—it’s up to you. It can be a story of coming to faith, a story of transformation, a story of healing, deliverance, suffering and sufficient grace, family reconciliation, prodigal returns, answered prayer, and so forth. A word count of 500–800 words works well. We can’t guarantee publication, but we assure you of our prayerful discernment. You can reply to this email with your story and it will come to me.

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

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