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.



#write31days – Day 9

 I was so pleased when I set out to write earlier today…I accomplished my goal, but here it is late again…I wrote, but didn’t sit down to post until now. Perhaps this is the way it should be? Time will tell!

I started the post with an update about my stepdad…strokes are scary…to me, they’re sort of like a tornado.  So often they hit without warning and the effects range from a scrape to total devastation. My stepdad’s stroke was far from mild, but it could have been far worse.  I think one of the things I was most grateful for was that his clarity of mind stayed in tact.  As you will see a bit in this post and then much more clearly in the posts to come, witnessing the loss of memory & comprehension firsthand with someone you’ve spent a lifetime getting to know is heartbreaking…you know that person still exists and yet you are lost to them.

For me, understanding the effects of  dementia and/or Alzheimer’s wasn’t something I could simply read about – like so many life lessons: having a baby, being married, getting a divorce, going through chemo, etc., I had to experience it up close and personal.

If you are reading this and dealing with a family member or friend affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s, please know YOU ARE NOT ALONE! And all those emotions are OK.  There are no easy  answers, but others have walked (or are walking) this same road – I encourage you to reach out.  Whether it’s a friend, a professional counselor, or a support group, God is faithful! He will put people in your path to help guide you through this season.



 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!

Time to Get Out of the Boat

April 19, 2010

I have all these thoughts swimming around in my head…flashes of insight vanish as quickly as they appear…scrambling to put puzzle pieces together, trying to feel some sense of control even though I know that’s exactly what I’m NOT supposed to do!

I’m back to STOP – BE STILL – what are you so afraid of???? Oh, that’s right…with all these thoughts swimming in my head and not on paper, how can I, much less anyone else gain anything from it?  Well…here we go… 

The last few months I have been in situations where individuals have confided in me about certain struggles in their personal relationships.  I have found myself saying over and over, “I know exactly how you feel” because I’ve lived the scenario in some form or fashion…I understand their fear, pain, and frustration all too well.  I hesitate to give my opinion because I’m not a professional counselor, but I can offer encouragement – I can offer support – I can listen…and so that’s what I do.  But that’s just it – it’s all ME.  Is that what God wants?  Or does He want more?   

Last week I was sharing with a friend and he asked when I was going to start a women’s group.  The simple question generated such an overwhelming emotion it’s difficult to describe… immediately tears were streaming down my face – I couldn’t stop them! My heart was burning and it felt so big, it didn’t seem as though there was room to contain it in my chest.  Quickly, I tucked the emotions aside and moved on with my day. 

A couple of days later I was having breakfast with the same friend – listening as he described details of a recent trip.  As he was sharing, he was flipping through a workbook and settled on understanding the difference between a Calling and a Burden.  Not something I’ve ever recognized as necessarily as being separate.  I’m going to paraphrase here…but the jest of it was a calling is God’s Will and Design for my life and is permanent, whereas a burden is usually temporary (kind of a take it or leave it thing) yet something we’re very passionate about.  And as we were discussing the differences, the tears started flowing AGAIN! Nothing was going to stop them…well, except for my stubbornness born out of fear. 

Later that day, I was having dinner with my daughter.  She was home for the weekend and as God would have it, she wasn’t running here and there to meet with one friend or another – she was spending time with me and we were sharing – it was great!  Before I realized it, I was telling her basically everything I’ve just written in the prior paragraphs.  And once again, as we were sitting in the restaurant, tears were streaming…down both our faces. 

Yesterday afternoon I was flipping through the TV channels and settled on a sermon about courage and fear.  As I listened to a message, the events of the past few days played over and over in my head.  The pastor was right…we can’t always control our emotions, but we can control our actions.  Fear is a natural, healthy emotion – it’s when we allow fear to dominate us that we find ourselves in trouble…and isn’t that usually when our focus is on the situation and not God?  The pastor used the story in Matthew 14 to drive the point home…in spite of his fear, Peter stepped out of that boat on faith – while he was focused on Jesus he was safe; it’s when he started worrying about the wind and the waves that he began to sink.  

So my challenge is really no different from any other day… when will I believe the trick to overcoming whatever obstacle (perceived or otherwise) that lies in front of me only has to do with my willingness to believe God has a plan, He’s got it covered, and wants me to succeed?  Will I stay where I am out of fear?  Or will I to be like Peter and step out of the boat and move forward in faith?