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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#write31days – Day 4

It’s funny (odd) that almost three years later and the events of 2013 are still so clear – the great thing is that the memories don’t sting like they did before…another blessing and benefit of faith-based counseling!

Hopefully it won’t take 12 days to write through 2013, but January/February certainly set the tone…even if I didn’t have a clue at the time!  I remember a member of senior management asking me if I really needed to be at the hospital with my daughter (she was there two weeks) – yes she was an adult, but honestly it didn’t matter what the age – I’m a firm believer every patient deserves to have their advocate present…and what better advocate than mama?

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#write31days – Day 3

Yes…it’s actually day 4 and I’m just now posting day 3!  Nonetheless…here we are…still discovering a New Norm…since it’s almost 11PM I leave the writing as is..no extras…especially since I still need to write today! As promised, I will start sharing details of 2013 events to help you see/understand the ways God grew me in preparation for this current battle called cancer….more importantly, to show you how God continually met me on the battlefield of life so I could praise Him with confidence!

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