Inspired by Tom Braithwaite’s cancer journey, daughter wrote book of prayers


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Some of you may find it hard to be thankful during the holidays, especially if it feels like nobody has answered your prayers. That may be true if you’ve lost a loved one.

A KELOLAND woman turned author knows exactly how that feels, but she wants to help you look at prayer a little differently. Arianne Braithwaite Lehn found hope in the least likely place.

“It is tempting for all of us to measure God’s blessing in some type of tangible way,” Braithwaite Lehn read.

Most of us pray looking for answers, and we desperately want it to be “yes”.

“Looking at the good gifts as signs of his love and favor and, to, quote, answered prayers as evidence God really is listening and that we somehow changed his mind in mid-stream,” Braithwaite Lehn continued to read.

These words, a prayer, come from someone very important to her.

“As always, dad,” Braithwaite Lehn finished.

Her dad taught her how to pray, and how to live. When he wasn’t helping heal the sick, Dr. Tom Braithwaite was running. He turned to the sport after battling cancer for the better part of a decade.

“He was the one who got me into running,” Braithwaite Lehn said.

In 2013, Tom ran a half marathon, to celebrate a successful bone marrow transplant. It was a journey he shared with KELOLAND News for several years. He finished the race, and the day seemed like a metaphor for his family.

“Today is all about celebration. It’s not just about accomplishments, it’s not about achievement. It’s just really about celebrating the blessings of good health again,” Tom said after his race in 2013.

It seemed like Tom finally had the ultimate trophy, he out ran cancer.

“Our hope had been, at that point, finishing the race of cancer was done and things would be of good health from that point on. And, they weren’t,” Braithwaite Lehn said.

A year later, Tom died due to complications from his disease. Arianne channeled the whole experience into writing prayers, and now she’s published a book called, “Ash and Starlight: Prayers for the Chaos and Grace of Daily Life.” One of her last moments with Tom inspired the main title. She was about to bring her first child into the world, just as her dad was leaving it.

“One of my hands is holding his fingers as he’s taking his last breaths on earth and then my other hand is feeling my pregnant belly with this little baby that’s kicking with new life. And it’s literally the holding together of death and life and my greatest sorrow and my greatest hope in that singular moment,” Braithwaite Lehn said.

The book is about just that, and Braithwaite Lehn, a pastor, has written prayers for just about everything. She wants it to comfort others in their darkest times, and hopes they see prayer as a way to better understand every moment; light and dark, ash and starlight.

“It’s simply being aware and paying attention to what’s in this present moment. And, really, being in awe of that and being grateful for that. And being able to mine, even in the painful areas of our lives, opportunities to break open and become more authentic and to recognize God is in that,” Braithwaite Lehn said.

Tom Braithwaite taught his daughter Arianne Braithwaite Lehn how to pray.

“I think we can take even the darkest moments of our lives, the times that are most challenging, the times that really cause us to face our deepest fears of death, fears of loss of connection and what you might miss out and you can use that as a way of achieving good. At least that’s our hope and prayer,” Tom Braithwaite said in 2012.

“His pilgrimage was in and of itself a beautiful prayer. One that would later birth ash and starlight for me,” Braithwaite Lehn said.

Now, through her own words, Braithwaite Lehn is teaching us prayer is not necessarily about getting the answer you want to the question. It may be more about saying yes to whichever answer you receive.

“When I didn’t think I had the courage of even the energy to live into a life looking nothing like it did before, something was happening. The thing I thought that would break me, that did break me, is now making me,” Braithwaite Lehn said.

“Ash and Starlight: Prayers for the Chaos and Grace of Daily Life,” is now available. You can find it in local stores. You can also order it online from Amazon and Target.

To learn more about becoming a bone marrow donor, visit Be the Match’s website.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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