It’s a “dang…not so fast” kinda day

My one word this year is FOCUS! Something I often need desperately… my mind has a tendency to flit from one thing to the next… and most often, I totally forget the thing I started out doing…. sound familiar?

This morning was no exception… often the week post-injections is kinda iffy; the medication designed to help strengthen my bones increases bone pain, and the meds focused on starving cancer cells leaves me feeling achy and just plain yucky… it’s like a see-saw – one day I think, “woohoo! I’m over the hump!” and the next day is “dang…not so fast…”  Today is a “dang…not so fast” kinda day… unfortunate, because I REALLY wanted to go to church, but knowing if I push myself, then my body rebels in a not so nice way… so here I am… in bed… fighting away resentment…

Oh yeah… back to the focus (or lack thereof!)… my NUMBER ONE task – objective – goal…call it what you will… is to ensure the bible study is ready to start at the end of this month… and I am overwhelmed at times with the “what were you thinking????” thoughts.  So what do I do? ANYTHING but focus on the task at hand!

bible tabs.jpgExample?  Well, other than writing this post?  Oh…the thing that prompted to me write this post??? Bible tabs.  Yeah…innocent enough, right?  I bought a new interleaved Bible for art journaling this year and it needed tabs… as in yesterday…. never mind I’m not ready to start working in the new Bible… it was tab-less…  sure, I could buy tabs… but no, I must make them… with cute paper and my tab punch and handwrite each of the sixty-six books… which led me down another rabbit hole… I have sooooooo much to learn!!!!

A seemingly simple task churned up more insecurities…. I know so little about God’s Word!!! My thoughts immediately jumped to planning out a better reading plan…and maybe I need to do a certain study….. and….. and…. and….

And I started writing a post, which has brought me to this:  FOCUS!!!  But I can’t truly focus on the job God assigned to me until I surrender everything else to HIM…. yeah… that thing – surrender…. you see God most often speaks to and through me with writing…. I rarely know where I’m going until finally He says…”see????” and my heart smiles wider than the Grand Canyon!

What is God trying to tell you today????  You aren’t where you are at this very moment by accident… just like for me, today started as a “dang…not so fast” day and it wasn’t so much about what I didn’t get to do, but definitely about what He needed to teach me.  He’s got a plan for every.single.minute. and it’s incredible!

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Just for Today

HappyNewYearI pray this post finds you well on your way to recovering from holiday festivities!  In a few days (or sooner), the rush of every day life will be back in full swing…kiddos getting back in the school groove, businesses returning to regular work hours (or insane yearend workloads!) and we are bombarded with New Year’s advice, resolution ideas, and such…

As I was sitting in church Sunday, the sermon, like many, touched on resolutions for the new year… 365 days of opportunity, 52 weeks of resolve, 12 months of change…. I gotta tell you, the thought that kept popping in my head was “really?” “that’s pretty presumptuous!”

As a cancer thriver, the reality I learned to accept and appreciate is that anything beyond today is presumed… and it’s not just the unknowns of cancer – that was simply the catalyst to realize tomorrow is not a guarantee for anyone.

Yesterday, my stepdad shared a Dear Abby article that has sort of been my mantra for the past few years – I just loved seeing it in print!

Just for Today

JUST FOR TODAY: I will live through this day only. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not set far-reaching goals or try to overcome all of my problems at once.

I know that I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

JUST FOR TODAY: I will be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. If my mind fills with clouds, I will chase them away and fill it with sunshine.

JUST FOR TODAY: I will accept what is. I will face reality. I will correct those things that I can correct and accept those I cannot.

JUST FOR TODAY: I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration. I will not be a mental loafer.

JUST FOR TODAY: I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, and I’ll not speak ill of others. I will improve my appearance, speak softly and not interrupt when someone else is talking. Just for today, I will refrain from improving anybody but myself.

JUST FOR TODAY: I will do something positive to improve my health. If I’m a smoker, I’ll quit. If I am overweight, I will eat healthfully — if only just for today. And not only that, I will get off the couch and take a brisk walk, even if it’s only around the block.

JUST FOR TODAY: I will gather the courage to do what is right and take responsibility for my own actions.

As you work through the days of this New Year, perhaps printing a copy of Just for Today and cutting each thought intro strips (so you focus on just ONE) and placing in a conspicuous place, will help guide you through your day.  click HERE to download!

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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 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

#write31days – Day 19

imageOne of my primary goals in writing for 31 consecutive days is transparency… so here I am… being transparent.  I REALLY did not want to write this evening… I did exactly what I wrote about in my last post… thinking too far ahead (or perhaps behind…) of the posts to come… and I didn’t want to go there.

Well, of course I wrote…reminding myself of baby steps…two sheets of paper at a time… the great thing is that I was able to recall some really hard decisions and have peace over them vs my usual “could I have done more” mental interrogations.

And yes, that’s where God and His gracious healing power comes into full view… because of those hard days and seemingly impossible decisions, I was learning to receive God’s glorious embrace and willingly take refuge in Him… if only for a short while… make no mistake though, He was teaching me how to lean into Him for the days too difficult to imagine.

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#write31days – Day 6

 As rocky as 2013 started, I had no idea just how crazy life would get! Even as things were becoming very clear my dad’s lifestyle demanded a dramatic change, I was finding myself thanking God for the multiple hospital visits throughout 2012.  As difficult as those times were, God eased me into accepting the New Norm for my dad – the roles were shifting – his sense of independence waning as he fought changes with all his might – his identity was completely wrapped up who he believed he should be – along with the unrealistic expectations he placed on himself….and any deviation triggered tailspins of Looney Tunes  Tazmanian devil  (if you’re younger than oh…say 45, you might want to google the reference!) proportions.

I was thankful, because in the year prior, I not only made a point to become more informed about my dad’s medications, bills, etc. (stuff that’s so easy to overlook ), I was given the gift of time to get to know my dad as an adult – a person outside of my bubble.  There was a big part of me that didn’t want to accept the change either…not because becoming a caregiver wasn’t my cup of tea…because he was my dad…the strong, independent, pain in the rear guy who loved to help other people in his community.

Today…as I’m still learning to Embrace a New Norm, I can’t help but think about a few Tazmanian monster moments of my own….

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#write31days – Day 5

Another day filled with unexpected moments…and God met us in every single one! My response is what Beth Moore describes as a “holy habit” – here’s an excerpt from her Daniel study to explain:

Imagine of being guilty of prayer. This was Daniel’s ‘holy habit.’

There are 3 ways you can respond to an emergency. Each of us knows what it’s like to receive a phone call, an email. Life changes and we are thrown in a completely urgent situation. One hour before everything was okay. How do you react in a middle of an emergency? You must be ready in advance.

1. We can panic. 2. We can become paralyzed. 3. We can pray.

What happens when we panic? When we panic we do the wrong thing. It the nature of panic.

What happens when we get paralyzed? We do nothing.

What happens when we pray? We do the power thing! In a crisis you can do one of three things. Heaven moves when we hit our knees and we pray. God is all about relationship and thru prayer he forces the issue of relationship and we cry out to Him for help.

Holy habits vs. old patterns. God can change our patterns. What if we began to react in the spirit vs. the old patterns? Daniel reacted in the Spirit, making petitions to God.

I’ll be honest, my holy habits still require LOTS of practice, but that’s point – habits take work!

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