A Brave Thing

So I did a thing today.  For me, a very brave thing indeed!  As I was scrolling thru the Netflix guide, my eyes landed on ‘The Long Goodbye’ – the documented story of Kara Tippitts.  A seemingly average woman, who wasn’t the least bit average.  A young mother’s story of love and grace in the midst of the enemy – cancer.  You can read more on her restored blog, Mundane Faithfulness.

I don’t generally watch cancer movies – I know how the story ends.  I don’t want to see my life in someone else’s and measure where I’m “at”  But today was different…. and I watched…. and of course, the tears flowed like rain.  But they weren’t tears of fear – they were cleansing tears as God pressed on my heart, “I see you, My sweet girl. It’s okay to let others see you too.”

You see, I love to write. I love to share… but I absolutely cannot authentically write without being vulnerable. And with vulnerability, comes pain exposure.  It’s hard to share the hard stuff…. and what I admired in Kara’s story was her ability to be so lovingly real and graciously raw.

God’s been pressing on me for a while and yes, I’ve been dodging Him (as if that’s a real possibility!)  It’s so much easier to be lazy, but there’s no value in a wasted life.  Watching the movie today reminded me of a group on Facebook that’s led by a friend –  Fight Dirty by Loving Big. She always ends with “go forth and conquer – that means I love you”  And no, I don’t usually actively participate – that requires more authenticity than I’ve been brave enough to muster.

You see, in many ways, I’m the proverbial duck… calm on the surface and paddling like mad underneath.  Folks…..when they see the girl….. they get to see the girl who loves Jesus and talks about the gifts of cancer.  She doesn’t talk about the hard parts – why? She doesn’t want to make people sad or feel sorry for her.  BUT she’s been slowly exiting far left…. for fear of showing pain or showing fear itself…. hiding from the day to day….all the while not realizing what she’s doing.

And here’s the real beauty in writing…. God shows me what I’m really doing…. or not doing, as the case may be!

A few weeks ago, I started a group study called The Wellness Revelation being hosted by Stephanie Ackerman  – it’s a God first study focused on losing what’s weighing you down – and yes, physical weight is a big part… but for me, I knew it was something much deeper – I just didn’t know what.  And to be quite frank, if I’d had a clue where God was leading me, I obviously would’ve run the other way!  But I suppose God usually has to work that way with me – at least when He’s trying to get my undivided attention.

f.e.a.r.    who’da thunk????? But that’s how fear works, isn’t it?  Well, thank ya Jesus!  Now that it’s been identified, it’s up to me to let God do His thing and work it out of my life.  I’m not afraid of death – I know to whom I belong.  I’m not afraid of cancer… at least I don’t think so (time will surely tell!)….could I be afraid of living?  That sounds pretty weird to me, but again…. time will tell….but where I landed today was realizing and acknowledging that fear has been dictating the extent to which I’m living and loving.

And selective living and loving isn’t really living at all, is it?  Where is God going to take this? No idea.  But I’m committed letting Him do a work in and through me and to being real – raw – and open.  Intentionally open to my inner circle, outer circle, and whoever is out in cyberland that God chooses to touch with His message of love, hope and redemption.

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10 Ways to Love

A couple years ago, Stephanie Ackerman of Documented Faith shared a post about Love…. not really anything new, right? But there was something new about it – at least to me! She took ten verses about Love and condensed each into 3 words and they remain on my fridge as a daily reminder about what Love is and isn’t. Click on the image to the right —->
to go to Stephanie’s original post and words of inspiration.

I last wrote about finding my rhythm Journaling in my daughter’s Bible and as I began creating art for this week’s entries, Stephanie’s 10 Ways to Love came to mind. Sure, it would’ve been easier to simply resize & print the art I created back then, but for me, that sort of negates the purpose of the art. For me, writing (or drawing!) helps connect my head and heart…a way of anchoring God’s Word in my soul.

So that’s how I’ve spent my Monday morning… using Stephanie’s 10 Ways to Love as a launchpad for the week ahead!

10 ways to love

 

How do these verses speak to you? As I was printing these to paste into my Bible, something struck me… and it may be obvious, but I realized I can’t really love this way without one common thread…. surrender.  Hmmmmm…sounds like another blog post to me!

Of course, I can’t talk about new art without sharing! Enjoy my take on 10 Ways to Love

 

 

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!

Pure Joy

It’s difficult to describe just how good it feels to celebrate God’s faithfulness every.single.day. so I thought I’d just show it instead! God is really moving! Over the past two weeks, I’ve shared a devotional & words of encouragement faith art (below) at a local pregnancy center, I’ve been asked to lead a faith art session at an upcoming women’s retreat, AND I’ve been asked to create faith art coloring pages for a children’s ministry!

Isn’t God grand? Gosh….even the word grand doesn’t begin to describe God! The latter part of 2017 and early part of 2018 were more challenging as the trickle-down effects of cancer and its treatments wreaked havoc on my lungs, but God still has work for me to do! Thankfully, I’m feeling much, much better these days and pleased to report current scans & markers show the cancer remains stable! 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

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The thing is, God has a plan that far exceeds anything I could dream up for myself…. the desire to create faith are came as a byproduct of cancer, and the  opportunities to share God’s love through art came before I received results of my latest scans… I didn’t hesitate to accept because…

I know God’s got this!

This past year, I’ve learned to live like I am always HIS and not just after He proves I’m His in a particular situation…. does that make any sense? In other words, I don’t wait until I see proof of His faithfulness to step forward….

Today I attended a Bible Journaling Group: H.I.S. (Houston’s Illustrating Sisterhood) and we discussed the perils of spiritual amnesia – God is ALWAYS at work and ALWAYS working for the best in our lives…especially when it may not “feel” that way!

Living in gratitude is a choice and testifying to the daily miracles of faithfulness He is working in our lives is a must!

 

Joy in the Journey!

More often than not, folks will say,

“how do you do it? how do you stay so positive? how do you always seem to be so happy?”

The answer is truly simple and yet seemed so elusive most of my adult life….God worked very diligently to prepare me for a cancer journey!

In 2013,

  • my daughter endured two debilitating bouts of meningitis
  • I moved my dad to assisted living as Alzheimer’s was taking its devastating toll
  • my job went from crazy stress, to off the charts insane stress
  • I experienced the brink of physical and emotional collapse

Being soooooooo close to that edge, I knew something had to change….and that’s where God took my trust in Him to the “liberating place.” A place where I set aside my overly analytical mind. A place where He was my sole focus. A place where I confidently said goodbye to the corporate world where I was dying. A place where miracles happen.

It was a time when I had NO IDEA as to what was next and a time where I wasn’t scrambling to come up with a “plan” of my own. It was a time of the most wonderful peace I’d ever experienced.

Don’t get me wrong, the crazies were still present in 2014 – they just weren’t dictating my steps! It was a time when my feet didn’t move without God’s influence.

  • It was a time when I began experiencing serious pain with no idea as to the cause.
  • It was a time when I enjoyed visits with my dad and eventually said goodbye.
  • It was a time when my mom & stepdad came for a visit that resulted in them staying.
  • It was a time when my relationship with my oldest sister went to a new level as we spent countless hours together helping my other sister transition her life as we packed up my parents life in California.

With God as my focus and sole compass, I began seeing each day, each challenge, so differently. Anxiety diminished and peace reigned. I began to more fully receive God’s no matter what precious love!

So later that year, when the doctor said, “you have stage IV cancer that has spread extensively through your bones,” I didn’t panic. I knew God was still with me & prepared me for the battle ahead.

Have there been really tough days? Definitely. But God is faithful. He’s my go-to guy and gets me through every single challenge – every single day.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This past weekend I experienced a first – I attended a Bible Journalers group! I was like a kid in a candy shop for the first time – all these like-minded women in one place – at the same time – with more art goodies than I could ever imagine!

As we were about an hour in, the coordinator stopped by my table and asked what I was planning…. you would’ve thought she’d asked me to explain some vast scientific thoughts on the universe….of which I haven’t a clue!

I soon discovered that I’m really challenged to focus with so much external stimulation… granted I was probably a BIG distraction to others….I chatted incessantly…a combination of nerves and excitement…. but somehow God settled me long enough to create this page, which I now “see” as the preface to a Bible study by Lisa Harper on Job that I started this past Sunday – isn’t God grand??????

Sunday’s message is still filtering through to my heart…

Last night I started reading through Job – I may have read a verse or two before and knew the 50,000ft view (sort of)…. and as I read, it seemed as if Job certainly was affected by initial losses, but not dissuaded in his faith. Then in chapter in chapter 3, after the boils, loss & pain started taking it toll…

Pain & Circumstances….it’s something we’re all familiar with… when my focus is narrowed through my imperfect lens, I can’t focus to see what God is doing IN the circumstance.

For example,

– I have an aggressive type of cancer. check.

– I experience physical pain every single day. check.

Sure, I can get bogged down in the muck – I’m human! I have to nurture my Holy Habits – to KNOW and EXERCISE God’s promises…most importantly? BELIEVE His promises. God has promised my healing.period.

If my focus is constantly on ‘when’ or ‘how’ God’s healing will come, then I’m at risk to miss out on everything in between!

It’s the “in-between” where God shows Himself & is glorified

it’s the “in-between” where my relationships are enriched

it’s the “in-between” where I get to be extraordinarily grateful for sunrises & promises of a new day

it’s the “in-between” where I get to share His love in the midst of life’s storms

it’s the “in-between” where my love for Him grows with each breath…

Oh, precious readers…my prayer is that each of you experience and treasure the liberating place!

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My Love Dare with God – Week 12

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Can it really be the last week??????  For some, you may be thinking, “FINALLY!” — but can I share something really incredible?  After this week, you will have the gift of seeing this particular piece of the puzzle…. a bag full of tools that can help you seize more opportunities to love…. to boldly go thru doors and let God’s love be known to others in a powerful way.  This is Living My Love Dare with God… but first things first…. let’s work through Week 12

Dare days 38 – 40  – we continue with topics that are a deeper, as they directly focus on our relationship with God

This week we take a look at how Love

  •  Fulfills Dreams – seeking God for direction  and leaning on God to open your heart to the beauty of dreams
  • Endures – the no matter what kind of love
  • is a Covenant – not a contract and so much more than a promise

 

My Love Dare with God – Week 12

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My Love Dare with God – Week 11

wk 11Week 11 – Dare days 35 – 37  – we are on the home stretch!  And although the topics are a deeper, they directly focus on our relationship with God

This week we take a look at how Love

  •  is Accountable – the impact and importance of godly women/men in our lives
  • is God’s Word – the many tools available to us that help bring God’s Word to life and help us apply it to our daily walk
  • Agrees in Prayer – the power of prayer with others

 

My Love Dare with God – Week 11

 

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