I’m a Thriver!

It’s been a month filled with celebrations! It’s not lost on me just how blessed I am that my body has responded so well to cancer treatment when so.many.don’t. and this side of Heaven, I won’t have those answers… what I do know is that I can make the most of this time to praise God with all that I have!

As I approached 5 years since my diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer, a lot has happened….a lot of life has happened… I survived a bunch of medical stuff…intense chemo, palliative radiation, shingles, blood clots, pulmonary embolism, and lung complications from meds… all my hair came out and it came back curly as ever!

but there has been far more good….. my heart practically burst with joy as my daughter walked down the aisle to embark on the adventure of marriage. I discovered a love of FaithArt and a greater love to share art with others…from bookmarks to a Bible study to an Etsy store… God has continued to grow me by leaps and bounds!

This past year I’ve been pursuing better lifestyle choices – that started with a study called The Wellness Revelation, which led me to Whole30, another fast, and finally a more mindful approach to food as fuel vs comfort.

The timing is perfect to build on my appreciation for how far God has brought me with Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts study starting Nov 18th. My prayer is that I truly commit mind and spirit to this study – although I’m already pretty darn appreciative of daily blessings, I know God has even more He wants to teach me and I’m eager to learn.

What will the next year bring? That’s a great question! I’m perfectly content to take it one day at a time ☺️

Finding Your Rhythm

Last year when the new Illustrating Bible became available, I promised myself that I wouldn’t spend the money on something I didn’t need…. then a fellow journaler shared a special purchase price… I still didn’t need a new Bible, but boy oh boy did I want it!

For the past year I have been diligent in prayers for my daughter and her family. As newlyweds they face the typical struggles, and layered onto that, they now live 6hrs from our hometown…away from mama, family, and lifelong friends. And yes, mama still struggles missing her girl!

So….I justified the purchase to purposely journal thoughts and prayers in the new Bible specifically for my daughter and family… a living legacy Bible of sorts….

And then I began to suffer from ‘new Journaling Bible’ syndrome….. the purpose was overwhelmingly shadowed by thoughts of exactly what tone the art would take…. yes, TOTALLY missing the original purpose! What to do?

Pray. Wait. Trust.

Finally, this past weekend God showed me that it didn’t need to be one or the other…. simply keep my focus on Him! okay……but what does that picture look like? For me, it is now two God experiences…. art time and then Scripture/Prayer time.

For now, I plan to create digital artwork beforehand that I can print and then it will be ready for my prayer time over family…. it’s only been a few days, but thankfully it finally feels right! And even better, by creating the art digitally, I can easily share with others! Click on the link here —> Freebiesvalentine freebie
How we find our rhythm with God is just as unique each journey. What’s your rhythm? I’d love to hear from you!

Rise up!

Oh my goodness! Why I didn’t publish this post TWO years ago, I have no idea… but I stumbled across it this evening and it fits in perfectly with My Love Dare with God

Not so long ago, I posted on Facebook that I received my new Inspire journaling Bible & discovered something new….the line art included with the Bible actually draws me into scripture – pretty cool, right?

So now I’m learning to take it a step further, which is actually bringing faith art full circle….beyond coloring (first)….beyond reading….to writing & a bit more coloring!

This morning as I was working in my Documented Faith binder – I’ve revised mine a bit to focus on words of the month vs months (that way I don’t feel “behind” – yeah, the comparison stick, but let’s leave that subject for another day!) – anyway, my eyes landed on love – so many verses on love, right?  So I began flipping through my Bible and landed in Judges – admittedly not a book of the Bible I’ve spent much time studying or even reading…the line art was simple, but it grabbed my attention all the same…Judges 5:31

May those who love You rise like the sun in all its power.

Immediately I thought of sunrises. I love them! Everything is usually still & quiet….life is still a bit blurry-eyed and the brain isn’t driving at supersonic speeds…the promise of a new day….new opportunities and yes, new challenges…. But it’s a time to set our paths straight again – to keep our eyes & focus upward.

The first sunrise that came to mind was at Surfside beach – yes…I had to head out from home pretty early, and even though the ocean usually doesn’t call my name, it did that day…so off I went.  The beach was deserted and quite frankly, I didn’t have much of a clue as to where I was going! I’d only been there once before in recent years, and since I’m not exactly the spontaneous type, I’d definitely call it a God thing.  Alone with the waves rushing in, sand in my toes and coffee in hand, I sat and watched as the sun sparkled across the water – such power! such promise! Oh…. if only I showed my love for God like a sunrise!

I went in search of pictures I took that morning – not on my phone, not on my old phone, not on my Mac….darn! They must be on that hard drive buried behind boxes…what I discovered though were other sunrises…and you know what? The feelings were practically the same! All the others were woodsy type (that’s my favorite place!)…the difference? Anticipation. On the water, there is nothing to block your view – in a wooded area, you get glimpses at first….it takes a bit more patience, but maybe that’s a good thing….it’s an opportunity to “get still” first….to lean in and hear God whisper to my heart.

What is God whispering to you today? Did you miss it? Did you rush off in a flurry of to-dos today? Take a few moments – walk outside….take your phone with you & snap a picture of the sun…is your view clear? cloudy? dark?  Now close your eyes and imagine….only the sun…feel the warmth of it on your face and let it sink in. God’s love for us is infinitely more powerful than the sun and even though there may be obstacles blocking our view, He is still there….loving us and wanting nothing more than for us to rise up and love in return.

May those who love You rise like the sun in all its power.

Further Reading 

After I found the verse, I put the spectacles in reverse to see what in the world they were actually talking about! Go figure….it was a song! The Song of Deborah….whoops back up….Deborah who? Yeah….I’ve got a LOT to learn! The less than abbreviated version (i.e. I’ve got much more reading to do!)….Deborah was a prophet (surprise to me) and a judge….anyway, her song was praising God for defeating Canaanite King Jabin.  Happy Reading!

My “Mess” is My Message

Today I received my copy of Stephanie Ackerman’s latest book Faith Journaling for the Inspired Artist. Did I need another book on Journaling or Art? Well, apparently I did! Not five pages in, the photo to the left smacked me upside the head…kinda crazy, right? Stephanie, among other wonderful women, have encouraged me from afar with their zest for art, an insane love for God, and the desire to intertwine the two.

For the past month, God has really been working on me & my obedience factor… at the forefront has been a host of new cancer challenges…. but those challenges have been the catalyst to realizing I haven’t consistently been giving God my best.  I’ve been giving what’s easy and through numerous experiences… sermons especially ….(thanks Pastor Jim!), I’ve been convicted as to how I’m living my life I’m for God.

Stage IV Cancer, like so many other chronic diseases, is HARD.  It doesn’t go away.period. and more often than not, you get new challenges… like wonky lungs, blood clots, and such.  I am very thankful though – just think if God allowed cancer to hit you with everything all at once? No bueno!

While I thought I’d learned my new normal, I was still entirely too focused holding tightly onto the things I could still do.  Like grocery shopping, housekeeping, or walking the dog… yeah, call it what it is….PRIDE.  Don’t get me wrong, staying active is essential, but holding too tightly onto things is a slippery slope and sets you…me… up for missing great God opportunities.

As it is today, I’m in a season where those types of activities aren’t necessarily adding value to my days. Instead, little things, like going out to the grocery store, have the potential to set me back vs propel me forward.  So I’m learning to choose more wisely and it’s definitely a process!

My 2018 goal (starting now!) is to be more mindful and dig deeper in my relationship with God.  While cancer isn’t exactly what I may have chosen, it has given me the opportunity to focus more time on Him by not trying to balance a demanding and stressful full time job….HE is my full time job…and that is pretty darn amazing – not many get that opportunity!

If you’ve read my blog, the consistent thread has been my lack of consistency in writing. And writing is a big part of my relationship with God…to be vulnerable and transparent, and to share how He leads me daily to walk closer with Him.

If I had to choose ONE thing that propelled me into deepening my relationship with God, it was a little book you may be familiar with called The Love Dare by Alex and Stephen Kendrick. It is a 40-day Christian devotional designed to strengthen marriages.  No, I’m not married – I’m not even dating or in a relationship.  God brought me the book as a dare to strengthen my relationship with Him.  Weird? Odd? Perhaps.  But I hope you will follow me as I share, and possibly help,  precious readers do the same… coming soon… My Love Dare with God.

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God’s Guiding Hand

It’s still mind boggling to me to think back ten years ago….to a time when God was barely on my radar – thankfully, He never lost sight of me!  And I f you asked me five years ago how I expressed my faith, art was the last thing that would’ve come to mind – and yet, here I am today…thriving spiritually by creating and sharing faith art!

As a child (and adult!) I loved to color – it provides such a calming effect – the cares & concerns of everyday life melt away allowing my spirit to quiet and open the door to hearing God.  What started as an effort to help me relax and remain positive through chemotherapy, quickly developed into an untapped passion. Today, I combine my love of God’s Word with fun art supplies like watercolors, markers, gel pens, and my trusty iPad Pro.  

But as much as I enjoy the process of creating faithart, it’s sharing that really makes my heart smile!  I’m so blessed to share God’s promises through both social media and homemade items like bookmarks and small cards.  What does tomorrow hold? Only He knows, and my confidence lies in His Word as I  open myself to learning new ways to share God’s love. 

God’s Mighty Love

My goodness it’s been a busy crazy summer! So different from last year, yet equally insane.  

Last year I was feeling pretty lousy – cancer complications were problematic and I was coming off four weeks of intensive radiation, followed by a case of shingles that landed me in the hospital, all the while planning a wedding!

This year has truly been a great year cancer-wise – I’ve felt great & much more physically active. Over a period of six weeks I made multiple 6+ hr (one way) drives to visit my daughter & family tucked in between a super condensed 4-day trip to California to help pack my sister as she moves forward in her journey there. 

Somewhere in the mix, I overdid (yes, that’s a big DUH!) ….things were going so well… until they weren’t. All of a sudden I was constantly tired, sleeping more, and simple short walks weren’t so simple. A middle of the night trip to the ER revealed I had a blood clot that moved to my lungs – no bueno – especially when you have stage IV cancer. An ambulance ride, meds, days of extremely thorough doctor checks, and I was good to go….slowly!  

When I’m feeling good (aka not constantly reminded of physical limitations), I wanna be like the other kids! I wanna go for brisk walks, water aerobics, long trips, play time with my grandson….but, I’ve got to remember the pace… and be mindful what a blessing that I’m able to do those things! But maybe….just maybe, I do them in moderation so I decrease the risk of setbacks and increase the probability future fun. 

The absolute best part???? It’s so wonderful to feel well enough to spend time expressing faith through art again! Hands down, the Thrive Bible is my all-time favorite  – I love how God speaks to me through the devotions, causing me to often say to myself, “wow! I never thought about it that way!” and to continually be in awe of His Mighty Love for us

Bible Art Journaling – What’s Your Agenda???

It came!  After what seemed like months (actually just a couple of weeks), my journaling Bible arrived!  I must admit…the first night I looked through my new Bible, thinking about which book… which verse… would be the first in my art journaling adventure….those initial feelings…those feelings of making my Bible “ugly” and held me back months ago, came flooding in again….and so I gently laid it on the nightstand for another day.

The next morning I woke with determination to push past unrealistic expectations and just do it…start the art journaling process! After all, I was prepared…I was confident my artwork would be fine – after all, I watched tons of videos, practiced on little projects for months, and while far from talented I felt acceptable.  And so I started…

Michaelangelo? Far from it!!!! Actually, it was kinda close to a mess…kinda like me!

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  • pencil marks (curvy lines) wouldn’t erase, but smeared instead…
  • the ink pen I purchased specifically for journaling bled through; and
  • the distress stain recommended for its translucency was pretty awful bleeding through A LOT ….

so much for that confidence…

 

 

And then a thought hit me last night…what exactly was my motivation in journaling???? Was it to dig deeper into God’s Word? OR… was it to show off?? How much did pride factor into starting this endeavor?????

Although I’m certain digging deeper was a component, my reaction to results revealed something else… in some way could I have been seeking approval or confirmation???  Obviously, there’s still a part of me trying to be good enough for God.  I’m so thankful He uses the simplest things to show me where pieces of my heart lie…

In retrospect, the verse I landed on (Luke 6:45) now speaks volumes…

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart…

Earlier this week I was sharing how great it is that God is using Bible journaling as a tool to grow us.  As for my growth and confidence level??? I was reminded where my confidence belongs…in God – not myself! What a wonderful lesson – all from a simple exercise.  My acceptance has nothing to do with art – God cares about my heart.