Under a Desert Sky

Redefining Hope, Beauty, and Faith in the Hardest Places

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Even life's most desolate experiences can bring beautiful surprises

There comes a time in life when we find ourselves in the desert place of burning questions: Why? and Why me? But even as we shake our fist heavenward, the heart whispers another question: Who? Who are you, God? Who are you to me?

Against the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert, Lynne Hartke asks her own hard questions as cancer arrives like a thief with one goal: to take it all. Hair. The contents of a stomach. A marriage. A life. As her days become a blur of doctors' appointments, treatments, and surgeries, she wrestles with a tumble of tangled emotions, a shaken faith, and crushing self-doubt. And then, the unthinkable. Cancer is now threatening not only her own life but also the lives of both her parents.

Through her raw, lyrical words, Hartke invites you to discover, as she did, that even in life's hardest places, you are not alone in your fear, you are not foolish to hope, and you are never forgotten by a loving, pursuing God. Never.


"Lynne eloquently captures the essence of receiving a diagnosis of cancer--the pain, the hurt, the awakening 'slap in the face'--and displays the true spirit of a fighter who will not let it overtake her, beat her, or force her to quit."--Alan S. Zaben, thirty-four-year, three-time cancer survivor; American Cancer Society Relay for Life 2014 "Hero of Hope"

"Lynne Hartke points the way for us across life's unmapped deserts, plunging down a trail of difficult questions where Jesus is the answer and eternity the final destination. She proves we can unearth God's beauty in the dust of our most intensely painful stories."--Kevin Johnson, bestselling author and executive coach


Lynne Hartke is a breast cancer survivor who celebrates the difficult and the beautiful with her husband, Kevin, in Arizona, where they have pastored a church for over thirty years. She blogs regularly at www.lynnehartke.com.


Endorsements

"Lynne eloquently captures the essence of receiving a diagnosis of cancer--the pain, the hurt, the awakening 'slap in the face'--and displays the true spirit of a fighter who will not let it overtake her, beat her, or force her to quit.  Lynne does an excellent job of telling how life goes on, albeit changed. As a cancer survivor, I have lived what Lynne so well describes."

Alan S. Zaben, 34-year, 3-time cancer survivor; American Cancer Society Relay for Life 2014 "Hero of Hope"

"Under a Desert Sky is a powerful and candid journey through cancer. Lynne doesn't sugarcoat her writing through loss, pain, vulnerability, and life. Nor does she fill this journey with religious platitudes or dismissive clichés. She invites each reader to experience safe vulnerability and camaraderie with their various struggles. This book will deepen each reader's faith with robust candor and continual return to the steadfast character of a loving God. Well done, my friend!"

Sarah Bowling, author of Heavenly Help; founder of Saving Moses; TV cohost for Today with Marilyn & Sarah

"Lynne Hartke points the way for us across life's unmapped deserts, plunging down a trail of difficult questions where Jesus is the answer and eternity the final destination. She proves we can unearth God's beauty in the dust of our most intensely painful stories."

Kevin Johnson, bestselling author and executive coach

"Under a Desert Sky is a powerful book of a woman's strength, courage, and growing faith as she continues to hear the words 'it's cancer.' Lynne Hartke will make you smile and cry, and she will warm your heart as she paints a breathtaking picture of her many desert adventures and how they relate to her cancer journey. This beautiful story is sure to inspire many and renew your spirit in hope."

Ashley Godsil, American Cancer Society, senior manager, Relay For Life

"Under a Desert Sky is a story of courage, love, and faith in the face of cancer. As a cancer survivor and desert dweller, I was inspired by this spiritual and heartfelt account of the struggle to cope with cancer. The depth of emotion and intertwining of desert journeys and Lynne's faith in God will give strength and hope to anyone struggling with a loved one's cancer."

Mike Perry, cancer survivor, American Cancer Society Relay for Life 2015 "Hero of Hope"

"Can-cer . . . Can-cer . . . Can-cer! Lynne Hartke, when challenged by her own mortality, learned how to implement the 'can' in cancer! With statesmanlike humor, accompanied by heartrending stories, Under a Desert Sky will make you laugh and cry, while bringing hope and understanding to people battling a biological terrorist trying to steal, kill, and destroy freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of a happy and fulfilled life. Even returning to a 'precancer normal' state is a destination that strips destiny away from the 'lucky' survivors. In this book, Lynne delves deep into the hidden secret treasures of faith, hope, and family when cancer's icy grip grabs hold. As a pastor, community organizer, and friend, I wholeheartedly recommend Under a Desert Sky to all who are in this 'cancer cage fight' for themselves, a loved one, a friend, or even an acquaintance."

Jon McHatton, former pastor; chaplain of the Arizona state legislature; and founder of CARE INC/For Our City

"We've all been there, trudging along through the desert. And I'm not just talking about those of us who live in Arizona. The story of the Israelites wandering through the desert for forty years is not unique to a people of long ago. As Lynne Hartke so effectively portrays in her personal battle with cancer, life can seem like a barren, ruthless desert with scorching, unforgiving terrain. Lynne writes from the heart, as well as from the stomach. There's no question her work goes for your gut. But to those who feel like they are in the midst of their own desert journey or are walking alongside those who are, I believe God has provided, through Lynne's words, a 'pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.'"

J. D. Mesnard, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives

"Lynn Hartke writes with brilliance and beauty. I couldn't put this book down. It's captivating! It's hope-filled! Lynn's inspiring journey will help you walk through the desert places in life and find courage and strength."

Cheryl Sacks, CEO, BridgeBuilders International Leadership Network; author of The Prayer-Saturated Family

"I've known Lynne and her husband, Kevin, for decades. Whenever I see them, before a word is spoken, I feel encouragement and joy. God has given them a life that gives life to others. A special love for those who suffer pours out of the pages of this wonderful, beautifully written book. Under a Desert Sky is morning sunlight for your darkest night."

Dr. Gary Kinnaman, pastor and author

"Lynne's story grants you the permission and inspiration to do the one thing your doctors and others might forget to tell you to do: live your life!"

Steve Cooper, first person to complete an Ironman while undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for prostate cancer

"Whether you have been diagnosed with cancer or are walking alongside someone who has, Under a Desert Sky gives insight into the unique journey cancer mandates. Our job as missionaries serving in the oncology ward in Mozambique is to see people in the midst of their immense suffering and attempt to find Christ right there in the questions, in the pain, in the wounds, and even in death. Under a Desert Sky does just that. Lynne muses, 'For I have learned that sometimes the greatest act of compassion we offer the dying is not to look away.' We have seen that Christ can redeem pain when bravery leads us to look suffering in the eyes and lean closer. Lynne is unafraid to ask difficult questions of God and of her faith. And she has found, as we have, that Christ does not leave us to journey alone."

Jonathan and Layne Heller, missionaries to the sick and dying in Maputo, Mozambique


The Author

  1. Lynne Hartke

    Lynne Hartke

    Lynne Hartke is a breast cancer survivor who celebrates the difficult and the beautiful with her husband, Kevin, in Chandler, Arizona where they have pastored a church for over thirty years. When not out on the desert trails avoiding rattlesnakes, Lynne is...

    Continue reading about Lynne Hartke


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