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Cheri Burkholder, a woman of inspiring faith, goes home

Cheri Lynn (Lambert) Burkholder wasn't afraid to die. She knew exactly where she was going when her nearly four-year-long battle with cancer came to an end on Sunday, Dec. 23. She was 46.

That boldness, peace and unshaken faith are the things that friends and family will remember about the dedicated wife, mother and church leader.

Burkholder was born to Leo and Mya Lambert on Jan. 5, 1961, in Portland. She danced through Centennial High School as a member of the High C's dance team. After receiving her diploma from Centennial, Burkholder attended, but didn't graduate from the University of Oregon in 1979 and 1980, where she studied general education to become a schoolteacher.

She instead became a devoted wife and mother, marrying Darryl Rollin Burkholder on June 18, 1983, at the Church at Rockwood. They moved to Sandy shortly after marrying and had three children. In 2000, the family relocated to Welches.

Burkholder delighted in raising and homeschooling her children, and loved to read, spend time with her family, take trips to the beach and do craft projects with girlfriends.

She also was a member of The Church on the Mountain, where she taught Sunday School, and, most recently was the director of women's ministries. A prolific writer, Burkholder created many bible study materials and women's devotionals. She was invited to speak at many women's retreats locally.

'She devoted her life both to learning and teaching the word of God,' said friend Terri Badger.

In 2004, Burkholder was been diagnosed with lieomyoosarcoma - a rare type of cancer with no known treatment besides surgical removal or radiation.

Burkholder thought she had beaten cancer after undergoing intense radiation treatment and a hysterectomy, but in November 2005, she learned that the rogue cells had made a comeback - this time for good, doctors said.

With the certainty that the cancer was to cut her life short, Burkholder had to come face to face with the faith she had professed her entire life.

'All that I have learned and taught - do I truly believe it?' she recalled asking herself.

'Is God still good no matter what I suffer?' The answer, she said, is yes.

She clung tightly to the words of the Bible, specifically King David's declaration in Psalm 27:13: 'I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.'

Burkholder's last days were spent with a friend, putting the final touches on a bible study on the book of Esther.

'I think my heart's desire through this is that somehow God is glorified and that people will know him at a new level,' she said of her cancer. 'His goodness is not dependent on our suffering on Earth. His own son, Jesus, suffered. No matter how dark the days get, I still want to say he is good, and let people no that no matter what, there's strength in God.'

Burkholder's memorial service was on Saturday, Dec. 29, at the Church on the Mountain, followed by a celebration of life at the Mt. Hood Lions Club. She was later laid to rest at Willamette National Cemetery.

'Cheri's service was absolutely beautiful and heartwarming,' said Badger. 'The sanctuary was full and there were about 40 people seated in the hallway.'

Attendees received a posthumous gift from Burkholder - a book of her devotions and prayers.

'Since the service, I have received several calls or comments about how she is still touching hearts,' Badger said.

Survivors include her husband; 23-year-old son, Garrett, of Welches; 20-year-old daughter Caitlyn Wheeler of Damascus; 14-year-old son Adam of Welches; brother Shannon Lee Lambert of Ahwahnee, Calif.; parents Leo and Myla Lambert of Boring; niece and nephew Jessica and Steven Lambert of California; and grandparents Lucille and Ed Gammell of Sweet Home.

Memorial contributions may be made to Camp Morrow, a bible camp: 79551 Morrow Road, Wamic, OR, 97063.