My Generation

Prayers for a Cattlewoman

The Illinois agriculture community reels from the news that Illinois Beef's Maralee Johnson is fighting cancer.

It's with a heavy heart that many of us received the news late Monday that our friend and colleague, Maralee Johnson, has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Maralee is Executive Vice President of the Illinois Beef Association, and has served its members for some 20 years.

Maralee was diagnosed just this past Friday, and the tumor is located in an inner area of the brain where it can't be removed.

As I sit here thinking of Maralee and her family – I went to college with her son, Brent, who now works with Wyffels – I'm thinking of our family, too, and of my own mother struggling with pancreatic cancer.

And of hearing Jennifer Rothschild, who became blind as a teenager, say last spring that "there are words that sink to the bottom of your soul and scrape everything on the way down: Blind. Cancer. Autism."

She is absolutely right. There are no words to convey the sinking, reeling of your heart when you hear that kind of a diagnosis.

And so for Maralee, we will pray. She is a woman of faith and knows that while the doctors place their hopes in radiation and chemotherapy, her fate lies in the hands of the Lord. And as IBA president and Williamson County cattleman Jeff Beasley says, "It is certainly a plus that she is a positive thinking person, and also a strong-willed individual so I am confident that will help her chances of success."

If you've had the pleasure of working with Maralee, you know her to be a warm, caring person. I believe she graced our cover, once upon a time, as well. Like me, she is a 4-H House alumni. And she has done as much as anybody to make the Illinois beef community feel like a family. So like a family, we'll cover her in prayer and know that we serve a God who is both still God and still good, despite our circumstances. On that day last spring, Jennifer Rothschild went on to share that life happens and it is not well with our circumstances but it can be well with our soul. That sounds like a pretty good prayer, too.

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