Celebration Of Life - Erin (Swisher) Youngbar

Erin Elizabeth (Swisher) Youngbar, 33, passed away peacefully in her Hagerstown, MD home on July 14, 2014.  Many family members, friends and Washington County Hospice Staff/friends aided Erin in her passing after a long journey battling brain cancer.

She was preceded in death by her Aunt Pat Sill, Uncle Jim Churchill, and Aunt Sue Elgin. 

She is survived by her husband, Josh Youngbar and their children, Lucas, Addisyn and Kierstyn;

Father, James Swisher and Mother, Peggy Swisher; Sister, Kelly Swisher and her two children Will and Annaleigh; Grandfather, William Elgin and Grandmother, Jane Rebecca Elgin;  and many loving aunts, uncles and cousins.

Erin was born Sept. 14, 1980, in Washington County, MD.  She was a 1998 graduate of Williamsport High School and attended Hagerstown Community College. Erin grew up as a member and regular attender of St. James Brethren Church where she began her commitment and deep faith in God. She married Josh, her husband of 15 years, in 1999 and together they have attended and served at Smithsburg Valley Church where Erin served as Children/Student Ministries Director in recent years.

Erin was passionate about serving God and others.  She was a loving wife and mother.  She home educated her children and dedicated her time to family and friends. She was a talented  photographer, enjoyed classic movies and loved to cook. 

A Celebration of Life of Erin (Swisher) Youngbar will be held at St. James Brethren Church, 17718 Lappans Rd., Fairplay, MD, on July 26, 2014, at 2 pm. 

In lieu of flowers, Erin always wanted her church to have a picnic pavilion for children and church fellowship events. Erin dedicated herself to reaching others for Christ, this will be our way to honor her life.  Please make desired  donations designated for the pavilion in her memory to: Smithsburg Valley Church, 12911 Bikle Rd., Smithsburg, MD 21783.  


Please leave your thoughts, stories and comments bellow. Thank you.

Going Home

If you are reading this, I am no longer with you.  

Since writing the last post I am now unable to get out of bed. This is my third week confined to a hospital bed completely relying on others for my daily needs.  I am supposed to be living each day…but I don’t know how to do that like this.  How can I? It makes me sad. But, I am promised many things and that gives me comfort and hope through this time in my life.

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.”  Psalm 18:30-32

It is the little things that stand out in my mind now, all kinds of things that once seemed so insignificant.  Lots of memories, lots of little moments in my life come to mind. My goals have drastically changed from what I am physically able to do and what I want to do here while I spend my last days here on earth.

One goal is to finish my last blog. I had every intention of writing people.  Personal notes, things I wanted to say.  I found this very difficult to do. I have had so many things I want to say and I cannot find the words.  I know what is happening, I know that I am sick, my body, here on earth.  I wanted to lay in bed and cry some days, not wanting to get up… now I can’t get out of bed.  Then I wanted to be able to at least sit up, now I cannot. But, I know I will walk with Jesus soon.  I have seen Jesus holding my hand and me sitting with him, like a child.  I have pictured this image over and over again.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

I know that as time passes I will lose more and more of my consciousness.  I am at this point, able to recognize that I am losing awareness.  I have become more and more tired.  I know what is happening to me.  I know what is to come.  I know that I will sleep.  That I will go into a deeper and deeper sleep, a peaceful sleep, and I will be at rest.  This has brought me comfort knowing this is not all there is for me.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say again rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

I know that the healing that I need is not here…and I am okay with that.   I know there are many moments I am going to miss, but, I know everything is going to be okay.   From the very beginning I was told by God, over and over, everything will be okay.  This has given me great peace on this difficult journey.  I still don’t always know what okay means yet…but that is okay.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What I want to say to my dear children, my husband, my family.  The closer they are I am finding it harder it is to say what I need to. What I want to say and feel and put it in words.  

I spend my time thinking about my children. I think about my children a lot.  The last few things I want to be a part of, and what I want to see.  It is these small things that make me feel whole.

To my children, to my husband, to my family-how much it hurts to say goodbye.

Time is something we easily take for granted.  I would have liked to be a part of so many little and big moments in the lives of my sweet children.  But, when all of these moments take place-when those days come, I don’t ever want them to be sad that I am not there.  I want them to know that I love them always.  I know I can’t be there and I have accepted this.  I don’t want this to take away from all of those special days. They know, and I know, I will see them again.

When it is time to say your final thoughts here on Earth,  I am having a hard time knowing exactly what I want to say now, how do I put into words how I feel inside.

What I have learned is, always celebrate this life.  Always remember that God knows what is best for you at all times.

I am not afraid.  Sad, yes. I am tired I am so weak. I know this is not the end. So many feelings.

I am here now, and I am peaceful. 

What I know that I am leaving behind.  How sad it will make some and that makes me sad.

I think about heaven.  What it is going to be like.  Who I am going to see, especially meeting my sweet baby, I have never met.  This brings me comfort.

“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you. I will call you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

I want everyone to remember the good times of course, when I was well.  But these times are just as important.  I want it to be a reminder to always grow and learn with Jesus by your side. And always… always…embrace life. 

“And we pray this in order that you may life a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the son he loves, in who we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:10-14


I need to get back to the hill...  I need to go home...


Finishing Strong

The past couple of weeks have been very difficult for me. I have been losing heart and I have not wanted to get out of bed. I have prayed that God would just bring me home. I'm tired and the days can be so long and painful. I seem to make a little progress and then something else happens. However, I know that I will continue to lose more. It has been draining dealing with appointments and planning for the end. Making decisions is emotionally exhausting but I want to finish this life well. However, I'm not sure how to do that. I know I can only take one day at a time and I need encouragement in that often. I received a card from my Nan-nan that had a similar comment about not failing in our last days here on earth. She gave me these verses:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

It's hard when things change so drastically and you become dependent on others for everything. I don't know how to live like this. It's learning to live differently but still trying to live each day and find some joy in it. Lately, it has been hard for me to find that joy. 

On Mother’s Day I went to church for the first time in my wheelchair. Walking and balance has become an issue. The teaching was about how we will suffer on this earth. However, God is in control, He will never stop loving us and he will be beside us every step of the way. It is not easy. Jesus' followers suffered greatly and we are not promised an easy life either. I don't understand why and I don't really need to.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. (Psalm 94:18, 19 NIV)


I hardly know what to write. My faith is being tested to the point that I have no words only tears. In the past couple of weeks I have struggled to the point where I am exhausted. I am so worn that I do not want to go on. I am torn between wanting to be here but also wanting all of this to end and just be home with The Lord.

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. (Psalms 84:10 NLT)

I long for The Lord's comfort but I'm struggling to find it. I feel so far from The Lord, even though I know He is there. He is constant and I am not. I do not understand but He does. Thankfully, he loves me and will not leave me even when my faith grows weak. I can rest knowing my life and eternity are secure because of Christ alone.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:1-11 NLT)

The longer the journey the more difficult it has become. I hope and pray that I have grown and that God will help me to endure what is to come.

I wrote the above before going to Hopkins on Thursday, where we learned that the treatment is not working. The tumor is still growing and so I did not receive a chemo treatment but instead switched to managing symptoms. I started a new IV medication which already seems to be helping me get through the days better and be able to enjoy the time I have. I don't know exactly what to expect in the coming months but we have talked with the kids and told them where we are at and to expect changes. We have been honest with them and answer their questions and try to calm their fears when they arise. They have always known that there is no cure for this.

I honestly, don't know how to do this everyday but I'm thankful for time where I am not tired and I can feel well enough to enjoy the hugs and time with my family. I am going to try to do what I can for as long as I can..The uncertainty is overwhelming. Please, continue to pray for strength, peace and direction as we continue on.

I am certain though that when this journey ends for me here on earth, I will truly be home with my Creator and my Savior and completely restored.I'm thankful for the forgiveness I have received through Christ or the uncertainty of what would await me when I die would be completely hopeless and full of fear.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NIV) 

Three Words

Addy's simple prayer, " God please, just take all this away from my Mommy." So many have been praying for us and for complete healing for me. I admit that I put God in a box. It is not that I don't believe he can give me complete and total healing because He has the power to do whatever he desires in His time and in His way but I also know He has a plan for each one of us and even though it is difficult I have to be willing to trust it and accept it. I miss the things in life that I used to resent after doing them day after day: running errands, cooking, cleaning, running up and down the stairs all day long, laundry. Really, the day to day things we take for granted so easily are what I miss the most.  I miss the feeling on my left side, my energy, hiking, playing with the kids and taking them places alone. The simple things in life. Our time here is short and it is easy to be distracted by the things of this world. We think the more that we have and the more that we do that we will be satisfied. However, it is never enough. We feel empty. That longing and that emptiness can only be filled in Jesus Christ. He is the only way to find our purpose and be fulfilled.

 As I type this, I see the dark bruises on my arms from my last treatment and they remind me the road is not always easy but because of Christ there is always hope. He can take us out of any circumstance and put us on a new path. At the beginning of all of this, I know God told me it's going to be okay. I don't know exactly what that means but I've held on to that promise. I will continue to wait and walk with confident hope. The waiting is difficult and I go back to Hopkins on April 10 for an MRI and treatment. Obviously, I do not know what to expect to hear but I refuse to worry about it. I do not know what the future holds but my Almighty God is already there and He knows what that day holds for me. 

Today, I am thankful. I have seen some small improvements this week and I have received some amazing encouragement and support when I have been discouraged. The Lord uses His Word and His people in awesome ways every time I've needed it. Through this journey, I have had times of great pain, anguish, and despair but The Lord has never abandoned me. He is faithful in all things. If I say any one thing the most important thing is this: We all need to decide if we will accept and follow Jesus because in the end that is the only thing that matters. We will all come before God to be held accountable for our sins. Therefore, I will be bold for Christ for He is all that we need. I ask you to really consider what matters most and to really think about your life and what you believe.

 I have told my kids that even if I die that I don't want that to hurt their faith but to know that they can trust God in all things. He loves them unconditionally. He loves all of us unconditionally or He wouldn't have sent His Son to die in our place. Jesus willingly paid the ultimate price for you. He had the power to come down off that cross but He didn't. He willingly died so you can live. He is waiting for you to let Him in. This week Addy drew a picture titled: "Dinner for Jesus", which included: Spaghetti, Mac & Cheese, Broccoli, Peas, an Apple, Krumpes Do- nuts, and Wine. She said she would be happy to be able to see Him and talk to Him in person.  Then today, I read this verse:  

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. (Revelation 3:20 NLT)

I remembered a picture from when I was a child of Jesus standing outside a door with no doorknob. He is patiently waiting, gently knocking on the door of your heart. You have to decide if you are willing to open the door and let Him in. It will change you. It is the most important decision you will ever make. 

I have boldly come before The Lord asking for mercy and healing and if God chooses to restore my health here on earth, I pray that he gets all of the glory and that as a family we will wholeheartedly serve Him together as He leads us. We want to do His will and show His love to others. Recently, three words  have  been impressed upon my heart which are Thankfulness, Rejoice, and Restore. I can be thankful in all things. I can rejoice in The Lord always. He can restore me. I will hope in those words as I continue on this journey. 

The Sunset

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (Psalms 73:26 NLT)

My health has failed and at times my spirit has grown weak. This has been such a difficult journey and some days are just more difficult than others. This past Thursday, we were back at Hopkins. My MRI showed that the tumor has continued to grow since the last scan I had in January. I also began my first IV chemo treatment as the first course of action. These treatments are done every 6 weeks. Thankfully, I have not had many side effects.. I've just been tired. My left side continues to be numb and so my steroid dose has been increased to try and help with my motor skills. On Thursday, while I knew I was not alone, I felt so depleted and I could not stop the tears. It was good to finally cry.and I needed the time alone. All day I prayed for the  strength to keep going. As, we quietly drove home, Josh and I found peace in the indescribable beauty of the sunset. It was so magnificent and comforting you could not look away from it. The radiant glow of the sun illuminating the clouds brought  hope and strengthened our hearts. 

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. (Psalms 19:1-4 NLT)

Without a sound or a word our spirits were renewed and refreshed in an unexpected way and I was very thankful for that. God displayed His glory and showed us His love through His beautiful creation. 

Sunday, March 2 is Josh's birthday. I am so thankful for him. He is not only my husband but my best friend and he has honored the vows we made to each other so many years ago. In sickness and in health, he has been by my side. He has chosen to walk this difficult road with me  and not turn his back on his family. He continues to work so hard for us and even when he is exhausted he continues to serve us and others.  I'm truly thankful for his example of faith to  our children and me. God knew we needed each other and I'm so thankful that we worked through the difficult times in our marriage which strengthened us for a time like this. We are walking this journey together with our God at the center. We are relying on His strength and trusting everything to Him. 

Josh, you are so very special to me. I respect you and admire you more than you know. Dear, thank you for loving me and never giving up on me. You have made me a better person and I love you. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and lucky for you, I don't ever remember how old you are so the whole world won't know!

I Want What You Want

We met with my Medical Oncologist on Thursday and started discussing where to go from here. There are several different treatment options available. However, decisions need to be made to determine the best way to move forward. He is going to discuss his thoughts with the board on Monday and then give us a call of when to come in for another MRI which will become my new baseline for treatment. Treatment options include, more chemo which would be an IV treatment because the oral Temodar was not as effective for me, radiation, and clinical trials. There is one clinical trial, that seems a good match for me but has not been opened yet. Therefore, all treatment options will be based off of timing and availability and how I respond to them. I did ask if it is worth the treatment to keep fighting or if I should just manage symptoms and enjoy the time I have left. My doctor did encourage me to be aggressive in treatment as I am young and in good health to fight. I can be given more time with effective treatment. 

From the very beginning Josh and I have known the prognosis of this cancer and that there is no cure. We have known that every cell must die or it will continue to grow. The initial goal was to fight it and try to kill it and give me more time.  We have known it can be very aggressive and we have known that for me to live a long life I need a miracle. Statistically, we have known from the beginning we haven't been looking at much time but we also know that statistics are just that. Ultimately, God decides when and how long I will live on this earth. He alone will decide when to call me home. He alone can deliver me from this and give me complete and undeniable healing. 

O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone! (Jeremiah 17:14 NLT)

I still have hope in Him because I serve a powerful and mighty God! However, if He chooses not to heal me does that mean he doesn't care? No not at all! If I die does that mean we did not have enough faith? Absolutely not! Sometimes we ask God why do bad things happen? But we live in a world full of sin and death. We do not want to die but the longing to live forever can only be fulfilled through our death here on earth and receiving eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Our desire for life is not meant for this earth.

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. (Philippians 3:20, 21 NLT)

It has taken me an entire year to be able to say I have a terminal illness. Last year I was going through all the treatment knowing the magnitude of it all but now that we are starting over, Josh and I need to have the necessary decisions and documents written and signed. We have to make difficult decisions and prepare with the end of my life here in mind. The most difficult way for me to think of preparing is that it is possible that my kids will grow up without me. It is possible that my sweet Kierstyn will not even remember me. That my husband will eventually remarry and my children will have a new mother. It will fall on on those who know me now to help me be known and remembered by my children. This is hard to think of but it is something I do think about. That is when I cry. I know that even in this I can trust God because He loves them even more than I do. He has a perfect plan for all of us and we are willing to completely trust Him no matter what and even when we don't understand. From the beginning we have prayed we will do God's will. For God's Hand cannot be forced. His plans cannot be changed.

 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1, 2 NLT)

So I need to think with an eternal perspective and I challenge you to do the same. Thinking with the end in mind makes you think about your life now. How will you choose to live and what will you do with the time you are given? I was recently challenged by this statement: 

God I want to want what you want more than what I want. 

I know that I can rely on Him and His strength to do this. I have made my decision to Follow Him and trust His will no matter what.  I'm thankful that He continues to grow and strengthen my faith through this situation. When our little faith and God's faithfulness comes together the result is real life.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NLT)


I Love It There

Making changes and living one day at a time is much easier said than done. I really do not like things to change, I never have and many times I resist it as much as I can. I like my days to be scheduled, balanced, and I usually have high expectations that I feel need to be met or I feel like I've failed. This way of living is exhausting because it is impossible and it ultimately steals from you the joy and blessings of the day. As I am learning to accept the constant daily changes, I am learning to appreciate the blessings that come from living one day at a time. The strength this requires is beyond me. I often hear that I am a very strong person. Actually, I am not. The strength you are seeing in me is the Lord's great work because I am finally getting out of the way and giving Him all of me.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT)

This past year my days have been full of weakness and hardships that seem like too much to bear but this has only driven me closer to Jesus. I was talking to a dear friend about this and I told her but, " I love it there." So she encouraged me to write about how much I love being closer to Jesus. This trial, this pain and weakness has allowed me to grow and change in ways I did not know I could. Before cancer, I hated my life. It looked like I had it all together. It looked like I had the perfect family and a happy, full life but really I was falling apart. I was miserable. I had actually told Josh that they would be better off without me. I was not in a good place. Then, not even a month later, I received my diagnosis. This gave me a new perspective and the challenges of change. Today, I can honestly say that I would not want to go back. All of the hardships have brought about the most important changes in me which are a result of drawing closer to Jesus and completely surrendering to Him my ways, my plans, my life.  As I have allowed Him to draw me close and change me, I have found how much I love being right there with Him. There I have found a peace and a closeness with Him that I do not want to trade for anything. There I have found purpose and been given His strength. There I am complete and have a joy despite the pain and hardships.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8, 9 NLT)


Hillsong United - Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Verse #1
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Verse #2
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed, and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior 

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine