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

Wound Care

I must admit, wound care isn’t a topic I typically delve into, but bear with me…as with all things, God provides revelation in the simplest of things…

bandaged%20wound%202A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to be educated on how the body attempts to heal open wounds. Far from an expert on the subject, here’s my takeaway…with an open wound the body’s goal is to protect itself. To bridge the gap of exposed tissue, new tissue forms – a scab…we’ve all had them…and all probably felt the temptation to pick at them…a healing wound is uncomfortable…it itches…it’s tender, Continue reading

Passive Restraint

God is the divine conductor – the way He orchestrates events so perfectly leaves me speechless! I attended a service that began with the pastor saying something like “This morning God said, ‘Don’t restrain Me’” – of course it makes sense he was saying not to hold back on the message, but how often do we restrain God in our daily lives? How often do we hold Him back?

The pastor began the message with headlines about a scandal at Penn State – I don’t have the details, but it was centered around charges of sexual abuse – shock waves of horror spread across the media as the story unfolded. Why does it seem at times it takes national headlines for us to take a closer or different look at issues in our own back yard?

Although the message initially centered around physical abuse, it quickly expanded to all types of abuse…physical – verbal – emotional – neglect – abandonment – the works…

For me, the real message wasn’t about a specific event – it was about spiritual fallout – what happens when you hold on so tightly to past hurts – what happens when you restrain God.
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At first, as I was listening to the message, I thought to myself, “wow – I know a lot of people who should be hearing this message” – little did I realize, God was speaking directly to me – He’d been clever though – He disguised the message in such a way as to not let me be fully aware He was speaking to me – He’d been giving me time to lower my defenses (yes, even from God).

I began to open my heart to the words as the pastor talked about neglect and abandonment as forms of abuse – that it wasn’t something I did or didn’t do to cause the seemingly unfortunate events to occur in my life. Now granted, I’d heard and spoken these very words numerous times before…but they never pierced through my carefully constructed armor of defense.

It was a message trying to sink in for several months – perhaps years… “If God allowed it, then there HAS to be a bigger purpose” – after all, if I truly believe His Word, then I know He causes ALL things – not some things – not certain things – not just the warm and fuzzy things, but ALL things to work together for good

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? – Romans 8:28-32 (KJV)

The emotional baggage I carried around for most of my childhood and my entire adult life was the idea of not being enough – if I were only better, then event a, b, c, etc. wouldn’t have happened – and the enemy capitalized on my crippling feelings resurfacing over and over again. Just a couple of days before, I was in the pit again – the enemy used the same crack in my armor he’s used so many times before “well…you must not be good enough…”

You see, the enemy uses negative events in my life because in some form or fashion unconsciously I believe I deserve the hurts. At the end of the day, I’m unwilling to allow God to heal me – in other words, I RESTRAIN God! Even though I thought I’d given it – surrendered those hurts to God, I still hold on – I attach strings to my own surrender and it’s clear God doesn’t heal that way.

At the end of the message, there was an altar call – that day I was eager – I was one of the first to go down – I was sick and tired of holding on to the past – even as I was at the altar, the pastor kept digging – he brought up every situation/event when I was cut the deepest in life – it was as if God had a megaphone and was saying, “Celeta Carr! Celeta Carr! I need ALL of you down here!”

Hard as it may be to believe, even at that point I was still holding on – through praise – through individual prayers for others – there was a part of me still checking off a list and ready to move on to the next item….then a couple came to me and started praying – I have no idea what they said – what I heard was God saying,

“You can give it to me, Celeta – I AM ENOUGH”

The healing power I received in that moment buckled my knees and emptied my heart of the poison festering for so many years. There was no checklist – there was no control – there was only an overwhelming sense of love, relief, and peace I can’t adequately express with words.

As I left the church that day and got into the car, I put on my seat belt – when I heard the “click” of the buckle, it clicked in my head – I had a distinct visual: Don’t put a seatbelt on God – don’t restrain Him. Each time I attach a seatbelt to God and put on the brakes of life – of surrender – of trust, I’m holding Him back in ways I can’t possibly imagine.

That day God had to get me to the end of myself – like Elijah – to get me to the place where I said, “Here – take it – fight the battle for me Lord” – and allow His unfailing love to heal. The challenge ahead is whether I rest in His healing – or whether I scramble to find something else to hold onto… other than Him.

As hard as we may try, we can’t heal ourselves – no 12-step program will complete the healing process – the best it can do is lead us to the cross – lead us to the one true healer.

 

 

interested in the original message? http://www.icathedral.org/media/player/media/the-secret-crime/video/