Unknowns

 Yesterday evening I was asked to pray for a woman just diagnosed with breast cancer and scheduled for a PET scan today. A flood of memories filled my mind as I recalled those moments not so long ago – I immediately went into my problem solving mode (forever the analyst!) and then God whispered…

Celeta, you know Me!

Why yes! I do! And then the words poured out faster than I could type…eloquent? perhaps not. true? I believe so.

How can we tell? Go to the source! These are only a few verses, but I believe it proves the point…throughout His Word, God is ALWAYS with us – fighting for His us.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:6-7 NIV

But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. Luke 21:14 NIV

I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken..  Psalm16:8 NIV

They will have no fear of bad news;  their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.  Psalm 112:7 NIV

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding Proverbs 3:5 NIV

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  Psalm 56:3 NIV

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut 31:6 NIV

 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes… Isaiah 61:3

Wherever you are today – whatever the situation creating those not so fuzzy feelings… allow God’s Word to soak into your spirit.  The truth is, beyond this fleeting moment, none of us know what the future holds…we do, however, have the opportunity to know who holds it!

It’s all about the Pace…

Lookie what I found!!! A post I started almost SEVEN months ago!

As I’ve been focused on Embracing a New Norm and now reading back over the draft, I’m not sure what I thought needed to change…maybe it was me…maybe I wasn’t ready (or willing) to pace myself and enjoy this new norm!

There’s a popular song out…not sure of the exact name or the artist, but the chorus goes something like, “it’s all about the bass, ’bout the bass…” – while I may be naïve to the meaning of the lyrics, they are catchy and the phrasing stuck with me.

image found on Google - since I'm not sure who owns image I kept the link!

image found on Google – since I’m not sure who owns image I kept the link!

 Contrary to my plan, the first round of chemo (4 2-week cycles) from late October to early December knocked me for a loop and landed me in the hospital, so the second round was postponed to allow my system time to recover. Pride and lack of patience tends to get the best of me far too often! I wanted to drive myself places… I wanted to go grocery shopping by myself… I wanted to change the linens myself!  The list of wants were stacked high and perceived accomplishments were non-existent. The problem? Unrealistic expectations.

And like a boomerang, the words I’d spoken a gazillion times to my daughter and others were being echoed back to me from every direction: pace yourself.  

 I was so focused on what I wanted…when I wanted it…sound familiar?

The thing is…our spiritual journeys aren’t so different…at least that’s been my experience.  Again pride and a lack of patience gets the best of me…being patient with God’s timing…not just knowing His timing is perfect, but believing God knows what He’s doing and not allowing doubt and fear to creep in while I’m waiting… oh, and then there’s the dilemma  of not getting so caught up in the doing that pride rears its ugly head and the once clear sight of true motives get muddled.  So what does pace have to do with it? Everything.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Finding balance through consistency…a spiritual pace where I’m not running so far ahead focused on my plans and goals – and not frozen in fear to the point I do nothing at all. You see, both tend to have the same result: God gets squeezed out of the equation. 

 So exactly how do I do that? Well, for me it starts with simple obedience…start by ending my day with God.  Ideally, I’d do that through prayer and/or journaling….but since I’m really getting back to basics, I’ve made it even simpler! I go to bed with a pocket cross – I absolutely adore this cross! It’s small and smooth and comforting…God naturally comes to mind and my spirit is soothed in a way that’s difficult for me to explain.  Once I settle down (that still thing again!), I’m drawn to pray, read devotionals, and jot thoughts.  Since I’m still dealing with a good bit of bone pain, I usually awake during the night – the cross is still in my hand…I chat with God a bit and off to sleep I go.  When I wake up in the morning, the cross is still in my hand! As I rub my fingertips across the smooth surface, I can’t help but think of Christ on the cross…dying for me…encouraging me to begin my day with prayers of thanksgiving.

For me, it’s a pocket cross….for you, it may be something totally different.  I encourage you to find something tangible that draws you into a quiet place to enjoy God’s presence – perhaps scripture cards by your bed, going to sleep & waking to instrumental Christian/gospel music – whatever works for you…just keep it simple….and remember….it’s all about the pace.

Paying it Forward – the Liebster Blog Award Nomination

liebsterHow cool is this! I received a notification on my last post from another blogger at Life as I interpret it about this thing called the Liebster Award and they felt led to nominate my blog (along with others) in connection with their interest in Cancer.

So… Mr Google and I were curious- hoax? or a genuine avenue to connect bloggers with like interests.  I vote for the latter.

My take on the Liebster Award? It’s sort of like a Pay it Forward for the blogging community to encourage connections sprinkled with a condensed insight to what each blogger is about on a particular subject of interest…sounds pretty cool to me!  If you’d like to learn more, just ask Mr Google

Oh yeah….and apparently there are the rules, which I sorta followed – not exactly sure how many followers each blogger has and since I ask questions with a bit of meat on them, I stopped at 5.  The most exciting part? I seized the opportunity to explore and expand blog readings!

Rules:

1. Thank and link the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the questions given by the nominator.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers, who have less than 200 followers and link them.
4. Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs.

—————————————————————————————————–

For this award, I have chosen to nominate the following bloggers, who share their faith openly and authentically…as a gal on the journey of faith, I enjoy reading how mightily God works in and through the lives of willing vessels.

I nominate the following bloggers/websites – I pray they are each open to the idea of a nomination and willing to share their thoughts.

Nominees:

  1. New Life
  2. The Devotion Cafe’
  3. A Way With Words
  4. Susan Irene Fox
  5. Full of Roses Inspirationals
  6. caterpillardays
  7. Where Grace Abounds
  8. faith, “sigh”, and diy
  9. The Mark
  10. Headed for Home
  11. stones from the quarry

Questions to nominees:

  1. What prompted you to start writing/blogging/journaling?
  2. Tell me about an influential person in your journey of faith.
  3. What is one (or more!) example of how God has shown His faithfulness to you?
  4. Tell me how a prophet in the Old Testament dramatically impacted your relationship with God.
  5. What is your take on the decline of religious freedom in the US?

 

Answers to questions by Life as I interpret it  are:

1. How do you feel about connecting to others going through cancer in the social media?  I think it’s an excellent way to encourage/minister to others.

2. Do you think connecting to other cancer patients would be useful in supporting you and them while going through the disease? Yes.  Now that I’m past the initial numb phase.

3. What are the words, sentences, or questions you think are appropriate to hear from others when they first learn one has cancer? Gosh…that’s tough! Honestly, I think listening is key – the one thing I’d say is definitely is not a great comment?  “If there’s anything I can do, let me know” – I realize it comes from a good place (I’ve said the same thing countless times!), but RARELY will the individual ask for help.

4. Do you have care-givers? or Are you a care-giver? My two primary go-to gals are my daughter and my oldest sister – they are AWESOME!  I’ve been a care-giver in the past so it’s easier to be aware of compassion fatigue in those providing care! 

5. What kind of support would you like from cancer-related organizations and the government? It really does take a village in these situations, so family – friends – neighbors – churches, etc. is critical.

6. Do you think you sharing your experiences in the social media help others going through similar experiences?  It’s quite possible – it’s easy to feel alone with cancer and any type of life altering diagnosis can be overwhelming.

7. What is your favourite book? TV show?  Each book I read is my current favorite – right now? Kyle Idelman’s “Not a Fan” is rocking my world!

8. What is your favourite season?  Fall in East Texas – humidity is low, fires are burning, and the air is crisp!

9. What is your favourite breakfast?  My indulgent breakfast (once every few years) is coffee & pumpkin cheesecake – yum!

10. Do you have artistic creations, such as poems, stories, drawings, paintings, and hand-crafting? I like to doodle Scripture and I LOVE taking photos of trees!

11. Is there something you would like to share about your experience with cancer?  Yes! It’s deepened my relationship with God – He is the answer to cancer – He is my Healer!

Laying it Down

He is the AnswerPraying I can focus the thoughts in my head (running at a ridiculous pace!) to make sense on cyber-paper… please be patient!  So that the real post will make sense, I’ll backfill a bit from the post last month where I put my big girl panties on and shared a medical diagnosis:

Stage IV NeuroEndocrine Breast Cancer

with widespread osseous metastasis…

In other words cancer run amok in the bones.  I haven’t spoken with others – perhaps it’s the same for everyone when they’re first diagnosed…life seems to move at a warp speed whirling around doctors, tests, more tests, medicines, more medicines…chemo and/or radiation. The past few months have been painful, emotional, overwhelming, and odd as it may sound…wonderful! Wonderful to rely on God’s faithfulness, and more wonderful in retrospect to see God consistently in action for His precious children – whether they act like defiant two-year olds… or not!

FAST FORWARD:

March 2015:  This is the meat of this post – sorry for the scenic route, folks!  My family started a bible-study a few weeks ago based on Not a Fan by Kyle Idelman.  I won’t bore you with details of the pitiful rationalization process, but needless to say I’m still on week one of the journaling process… now, if you noticed a trend…yes, hesitancy to write, you are absolutely correct.  Like the quiet riot tendencies I exhibit on a far too frequent basis, I was still resisting God by not completing the journal assignments for the study – after all, the journal is *optional* – sure…every other writer out there knows there’s nothing optional when it comes to the way God speaks to a writer’s spirit…the defiant two-year old…hiding…thinking…”if I don’t write, I’m not vulnerable…if I’m not vulnerable, that rug doesn’t need to be pulled back and swept…right…let me know how that works for you…

It’s not even as if I put my study material out of sight…there are the books…along with my journal, right out in the open…I LOOK AT THEM EVERY DAY! It’s not as if I don’t “have time” – and that’s where I painted myself into a corner… I picked up the book yesterday and guess where the discussion started?

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  – Rev 3:14-16

The verse was easy enough to gloss over UNTIL I read the author’s words: “If you are to be hot, then you must be sufficiently heated.  Every stimulus you allow in your life will heat or cool your love for Jesus.” which were followed by a series of exercises to examine a typical day.  Keep in mind:

  • I’m not working,
  • I’m off chemo right now (recovering from the first two months),
  • Due to physical restrictions, I’m not constantly on the go or spending time on house projects

Looking at my typical day, I was embarrassed and convicted.  The amount of time I dedicated to God dwindled at an astronomical rate.  I praise Him daily and profess His Mighty Goodness and pulling back all at the same time.  But why????? Hello. Circle the mountain again Celeta.  The incredibly painful lesson I haven’t revisited for almost a year came blasting into clarity: I’m still struggling with performance based worthiness.  As I looked over the pages, I kept thinking, “It’s so much easier being a giver and now I’m just a taker” – why yes, I was feeling sorry for myself…but the thoughts are deeply rooted and apparently I didn’t let the Gardner of my Soul clear out all the weeds in my heart – translation? Unbelief.

Ugh…my head knows His truths – the circuitry to my heart is still a little faulty…

And guess what?  That’s okay! God is faithful and persistent because He loves each and every one of us and will consistently meet us EXACTLY where we are – two year old attitudes and all.  We each have a choice EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of EVERY SINGLE DAY: will you choose Him? God will teach me whatever I’m willing to learn from Him.

Lay it at the CrossAt some point, most believers have experienced the opportunity to physically lay cares at the foot of a cross – for me, it was a very powerful experience – so powerful, my daughter made me something very special – a shadow box where I can write and leave cares at Jesus’ feet.  Now, take a moment and look closely at the box…granted, this is the original  photo, but it’s still looks pretty darn empty today – speaks volumes, doesn’t it? I look at the cross every single day and yet I hold onto so many cares troubling my heart.  A pattern of unbelief I didn’t recognize before.  Yesterday I pulled out the ONE item I wrote and placed at the foot of the cross – it was a prayer to God over my work situation last year – in the weeks that followed, I left my corporate job and God blessed my obedience and trust in Him more than ten-fold.  You see for me, I only know I’ve really laid it down (and left it there) when I experience perfect peace in the days and months (or years) following.

Sisters and brothers, God is waiting patiently to show up and show off in our lives!  The lesson I’m still learning? Give your cares to Him freely and let Him show off!  Lean into Him and HOLD ON! Claim His strength, His favor, His healing, His provision – even when we can’t see the way…HE IS THE WAY!

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Testing of Faith

For weeks I’ve known it was time to share personal news beyond family and still putting it off! Thank You Chrystal Evans Hurst & P31 for sharing words on my heart! Click here to read Chrystal’s devotional.

October 15, 2014 might be seen as one of those “terrible-no-good-very-bad” days….as the doctor’s words floated across the hospital room…”aggressive stage 4 breast cancer….” and my response? “Well, darn”

Yep…tough news is…well…tough! The great thing? God is in control and I am surrounded by loved ones & covered in prayer literally across the country!

 The thing is…we never know what tomorrow holds and we each have a choice…I choose to believe God holds me in the palm of His Mighty Hand and find tremendous comfort in knowing on days when this body aches, He is my faithful healer and providing a way!

From my last post, it’s obvious there’s a lot of backfilling to the story…bear with me as I attempt to share where God has me today, as well as all the lessons learned in 2014.

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