Faith in Action

I’ve slowly grown to realize a sermon strikes the target of my soul when it lingers in my thoughts throughout the day (and often many days afterwards!) as it travels from my head to my heart.  This time last year our church pastor preached on the I Am Second series….thankfully, they are taped because I missed too many.  I’m especially thankful God prodded my lazy behind and got me moving that particular Sunday!  The sign out front should’ve read, “Hey Celeta! This message is for YOU!” And boy, howdy….was it ever!

My “one word” last year was surrender and here’s an honest moment for ya…I haven’t exactly made a vast effort to even think if my thoughts & actions reflect such a thing.  Ouch.  You see….this is why I write. Or don’t write.  God is so merciful to help keep me from writing just for the sake of writing.  The thing is, when I do write, it’s raw…it’s vulnerable…it’s authentic.

And just in case you missed it…for me, surrender leads to vulnerability and vulnerability results in faith in action aka writing.  What’s your faith in action? What gets you to your faith in action? I think it’s different for everyone and rarely one thing – isn’t it simply wonderful how uniquely different God made us?IMG_0187

Back to the sermon….it was awesome! The key scripture was Proverbs 3:5-6 and our pastor used the analogy of a trapeze act.  There are two roles: the flyer and the catcher.  As our pastor described, “Faith in Jesus can be compared to a trapeze flyer being caught by the catcher. I am like the flyer. God is like the catcher. MY PART is to trust, surrender, give up my life. GOD’S PART is to catch, to hold, to do in me and for me what I can’t do for myself. That’s what surrender looks like!”  And there we are….back full circle to surrender.

When I get in my head too much, I fall back on wanting to “do a good job” for God…in some form leaning on my abilities versus leaning on Him to provide …for Him to do in and through me what I cannot do for myself.

So here’s to letting go of the trapeze bar…surrendering to my Catcher…God.

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Choosing my “One Word”

imageLast year I slowly began the process of embracing my new norm… a process that highlighted a hefty chunk of pride. I’ve said time and again that I want to be a bold witness for the Lord… and I’ve taken a few small faith steps in that direction, but definitely no leaps – that’s for sure!

As I began thinking and praying over my “word” a few weeks ago, EMBRACE naturally floated to the forefront of my mind. But that wasn’t quite right…then I thought about WITNESS – what was holding me back from being the bold witness I claim I want to be??? Duh…I knew that answer, pride! The prideful part of me still wants to do it all myself, somehow showing God just how much I love Him. Throughout the weeks of prayer, God kept whispering “deeper”…and I finally landed on my biggest obstacle to fulfilling all of the above…SURRENDER!

So here I am, with my one word…a very uncomfortable word at that, which makes it even clearer I’m on to something…

Join me, won’t you? Let’s learn how to confidently go before the Throne of Grace. A place where we have the opportunity to surrender our hopes and dreams, our doubts and fears to the Almighty. In return? We can receive His Strength, His Boldness, and His Power to pursue His Plan.

Job 11:13-15(CEV)

Surrender your heart to God,
turn to him in prayer,
and give up your sins—
even those you do in secret.
Then you won’t be ashamed;
you will be confident
and fearless.

#write31days – Day31

imageDay 31…wow…I did it! I had some technical issues yesterday, but here we are.  Around the World in 80 days comes to mind…except it’s 2 years (almost) in 31 days…looking back at all the pages, that’s a lot of life! That’s a lot of learning! But as hard as 2013 was, I can see now it was the perfect preparation for the year to come and I am thankful each and every day I learned enough to be able to see and share God at work in 2014.  Life is so much easier when we accept God’s love and mercy and grace…it’s there – HE’s there – waiting…all we have to do is ask.

Learning to lean into God and take an active part in a relationship with Him doesn’t necessarily change life events, but it certainly changes the way we see life events.

And yes…there is more to the story…the beginning of a new chapter…the beginning of Embracing the New Norm I wrote about originally…how perfect! As we enter November – a month often focused on giving thanks – I think is the perfect month to continue sharing… yes, I have stage IV metastatic breast cancer… but I am oh sooooooo thankful!!!!!

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#write31days – Day 30

imageYes…I’m behind posting!  But I’m getting there…

While I’m sure the first few weeks of my parent’s vacation was hardly what they expected – overall, I really enjoyed them being here – especially on simple days and I think they enjoyed the time as well.  Whether it was breakfast at iHop,  getting a haircut, or being serenaded by my stepdad in the car…I really enjoyed the time together.  Heck, they even taught us how to play pinochle! My stepdad loves FOX News, so I also learned a good bit about what was happening in the world…

One of the things they did while visiting was to look at housing options – the cost of living is crazy in California and since my mom retired in JAN’14 (yes…my 81yr old mom!) they would be living on a fixed income and were excited at the thought of being close to the rest of the family again.

As you’ll read…things rarely go the way you might expect and my parent’s visit wasn’t an exception.  The visit was supposed to be for one month – then it was postponed another three weeks to help me after my dad’s passing – then it was postponed again… and then it was another “go” moment… and God prepared the way for another move.

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#write31days – Day 29

imageThe past two years have been filled with opportunities / lessons for letting go.  Saying goodbye to expectations, a job/career, & my dad.  As hard as it was facing the changes in my dad’s health, today I’m thankful for the opportunity of time.  It’s a commodity so easily taken for granted.

Not that we’re all a bunch of statisticians, but whether we realize it or not we plan based on probabilities. We assume we will have the luxury of putting things off for another day – at least I did… and the thing is, we know there are no guarantees.

But look how perfectly things aligned…sure the journey had some really rough spots…in a way that makes the memory sweeter…to witness the gracious hand of God at work on such a truly personal level is incredible.  Before my dad’s stroke, he longed for the opportunity to see family one more time.  By the grace of God, he did.  I longed to be available for family without the constant work battle of feeling forced to choose otherwise.   By the grace of God, I did.  My mom & stepdad were scheduled to return to California just as hospice was called in for 24hr care.  In the past, I had a habit of pushing people away when life got really hard.  It was time to let family & friends in to help me through the days ahead, and by the grace of God, I did. I’m so thankful for that choice because it gave me the opportunity to be vulnerable & strengthen my relationship with my mom & stepdad.

imageBefore my dad moved, he loved woodworking.  He made HUNDREDS of these little wooden rooster note holders – HUNDREDS.  For his service, I wanted to have something to remind folks of his passionate hobby that helped him maintain a sense of independence.  Along with an article written by the local paper, my daughter, mom, & stepdad all worked together to make a special memory wreath – the wreath consisted of eight roosters: one for each child / stepchild and one at the top.  My daughter added the dual cross in the center with one of my favorite verses, Psalm 143:8

“Let the morning bring me word of
Your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go,
for to You I lift up my soul.”

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P.S. Oh yeah…I hurt my back (again) the week before my dad passed – I thought it was from catching an elderly woman from falling 😕

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#write31days – Day 28

imageLast night was the first time I resisted writing…June 2014 was a different season… a season coming to a close… a time where the freshness of learning to truly lean into God was at the forefront of each day… a time where I wasn’t juggling an onslaught of emotions and demands… and so it was a tender time and still is to a certain degree.

God is always so gracious! Last night was also the perfect opportunity to backtrack a bit in the journey – a time to shift focus to my sweet sister and lay the foundation for the integral part God would have her take in the upcoming season.  And in the process remind me of His goodness and faithfulness to walk alongside me…even in retrospect.

So I started writing about my sister and how God began strengthening our relationship on a spiritual level – which, by the way, I thought was pretty darn good before!  Even today as I think back…there is such a sweetness that brings joyful smiles and tears all at the same time… a memory to be treasured for a lifetime.

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#write31days – Day 27

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We’re all familiar with Matthew 6 where Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow:

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

It’s so true! Although my daughter was ill and spent Mother’s Day weekend in the hospital, April & May 2014 were low-key in comparison to the prior year and I was truly thankful!  For the first time ever, I could just be a mom without the weight of a job (and deadlines!) looming over me.

I didn’t want to think about tomorrow – well, to be honest…. I didn’t really want to think about much of anything.  But the prior year really taught me so much about who God is and I really enjoyed resting in His arms without my faith being tested.  I was still battle weary and even though I knew in my heart more challenging times with my dad lay ahead, I didn’t want to think about it.  And if I didn’t think about it? You got it – I wouldn’t worry.

It’s easy to sit on this side of yesterday and see things so clearly, isn’t it? The trick with worry isn’t so much not thinking about unknowns; it’s looking to God with confidence He knows our unknowns.

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