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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Power of Prayer

Please continue to pray for all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey…. it is all so surreal it’s difficult to take in the devastation😞

Our God is mightiful & merciful! He will carry us through this storm. 
I am part of the minority – I am safe & dry, but so so many are not…literally THOUSANDS of boat rescues have taken place in Harris County over the past 48 hours
My heart aches for my fellow neighbors, but joyful to see those spared out helping – whether it’s offering boat rescues, food, shelter (yes! complete strangers opening their homes!), you name it, Texans rise above!

A part of me was frustrated that I couldn’t be one of them….boots on the ground per se, but what I CAN do???? PRAY! To some that may not seem like much, but I’m proof positive of the power of prayer! My body may not be able, but my spirit is STRONG and will prevail. 

Please share your prayer needs

God’s Guiding Hand

It’s still mind boggling to me to think back ten years ago….to a time when God was barely on my radar – thankfully, He never lost sight of me!  And I f you asked me five years ago how I expressed my faith, art was the last thing that would’ve come to mind – and yet, here I am today…thriving spiritually by creating and sharing faith art!

As a child (and adult!) I loved to color – it provides such a calming effect – the cares & concerns of everyday life melt away allowing my spirit to quiet and open the door to hearing God.  What started as an effort to help me relax and remain positive through chemotherapy, quickly developed into an untapped passion. Today, I combine my love of God’s Word with fun art supplies like watercolors, markers, gel pens, and my trusty iPad Pro.  

But as much as I enjoy the process of creating faithart, it’s sharing that really makes my heart smile!  I’m so blessed to share God’s promises through both social media and homemade items like bookmarks and small cards.  What does tomorrow hold? Only He knows, and my confidence lies in His Word as I  open myself to learning new ways to share God’s love. 

Happy Mother’s Day

Of the many roles I’ve experienced in my life, being a mom has truly been the most transformative and definitely the most rewarding! It’s a blessing of love so great…words cannot begin to capture… and I can’t help but attempt to draw a parallel to our Heavenly Father’s love for us…a love so deep…a love in the shape of a cross.  How fitting is it to have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day follow the celebration of Resurrection Sunday?

The thing is, we don’t need a designated day to celebrate the sacrifices of the moms & dads in our lives….one day a year is hardly sufficient to express gratitude – so maybe this Mother’s Day will be day one of many days to show our love and appreciation to the women who give so selflessly for the benefit of others.

MothersDayThis Mother’s Day I wanted to create a small token of love for the many women in my circle of influence with a bookmark – perhaps not the most elaborate of gifts, but definitely one that is a labor of love!  As I was working on them last night, I wanted to share on a broader scale – if you’d like to share with the incredible women in your life, just click on the link below to download a PDF file ready to print!  MothersDay2017

 

May your day be filled with joy as you share with women in your path

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#write31days – Day 11


I did it again… I fell sound asleep waiting for the image to upload! I woke up around 2am…lights on… iPad and notebook in lap…a jar full of markers at my side… glasses on… as if I’d closed my eyes for a few seconds vs few hours…

Once upon a time I would’ve rushed to add a few notes, hit “publish” and call it good…check it off the list.

Sunday’s writing isn’t so much about events of 2013 as it is God’s faithfulness – how He provides peace during the storms of life… I am continually taken aback by how much God loves us… it’s so BIG!

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

Beautiful, isn’t it?????

And although this should have posted on Sunday, perhaps it’s a great way to start the work week…the often crazy, chaotic work week…every single day is a new day – a day filled with opportunities and possibilities – even a day with struggles that seem insurmountable…but God IS there…we will not be consumed by this world…wait for Him.

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It’s a WIN – WIN – WIN Situation – Part 2

Before my diagnosis, I’d already experienced one heck of a year… wait…whoa…let’s back up the horses… actually, 2012 & 2013 were monumental growth precursors…

In 2012, I learned a HUMONGOUS lesson… although I didn’t realize it at the time (do we ever?????) I was trying to fast forward  the growth process in my relationship with God.  We’ve all been there in the learning process when we’d much rather know than learn – and sadly, my relationship with God wasn’t really any different.  During 2011, I knew I wanted more in my relationship with God – I just wasn’t sure how to get there.

Clueless at the time, my biggest obstacle was receiving love – in turn, I was trying to give something I didn’t fully understand.  Although my love for others was genuine, there was a blind component – at times, I inadvertently attached a sense of self-worth to love.  In hindsight, I can see I was a tangled mess that only God could and would take the time to unravel and weave into a beautiful tapestry.

StepsToPeace_03My first realization of short-changing my relationship with God was a broken engagement – on Valentine’s Day no less (God does have a sense of humor, doesn’t He?) – a sense of betrayal that cut deep through years of personally applied duct tape to my fragile heart.  You see, I put a man on a pedestal in between myself and God – a good enough go-between of sorts.  I knew I wasn’t good enough (sinless) to approach God – my mistake? My actions completely trumped Jesus for another man – and yeah…that’s hard to admit.  It’s no surprise now how much of a mess I was – I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing… the good news? I am thankful EVERY DAY God shut the door on that relationship to help me  finally understand and believe what the Bridge of Faith really means (click HERE to read the original post). Three years later and God is still providing greater revelation!

Of course, God uses every situation to teach us something – whether we realize it or not!  You see, during my engagement there were plans for me to move out of Texas… yeah…this homegrown 50+ deeply rooted Texas gal… away from family – away from my precious daughter – away from siblings and my aging widowed father.  Pretty bold, right??? PRAISE GOD that did not come to fruition – I was willing – but again, for all the wrong reasons.  Never doubt it folks, God may call you to leave where you are today, but He will ALWAYS meet and use you exactly where you are!

Indeed He did!  Not two weeks after the engagement was called off my dad fell ill – the beginning awareness of a much bigger health issue: dementia / Alzheimer’s – we never had a clear diagnosis, but in my mind they were equally debilitating.  During 2012 my dad, who lived about three hours away, was hospitalized several times.  And each time I was there for him – and each time it was emotionally painful.  You see, I still wanted that non-existent fairytale father-daughter relationship.  But just as God meets us exactly where we are – He was teaching me to meet my father where he was: aging – fragile – frightened.  Let me tell you, IT WAS HARD.  The good news? God is faithful!  He didn’t send me out on that battlefield alone – my dad’s neighbors were absolutely wonderful – as my dad said time and again “I got two good neighbors” – actually, he had a great community of caring individuals!  I remember on one visit in particular, standing on the front lawn crying my eyes out…and here were the neighbors, coming to lift us up in prayer – providing words of encouragement and assurance to watch over my dad when I wasn’t there.

2012 wrapped up on a high note.  In late October I attended a Walk to Emmaus hosted in northwest Houston.  To read more about this extraordinary experience, click here.  During this weekend, I finally began to understand what it meant to receive God’s love and how critical it is to every facet of my life (that’s a post in and of itself!).  The following week I was scheduled to visit family in California – my mom, stepdad, and sister.  I’m gonna be super transparent here – my relationship had been pretty superficial to this point and I was on such a ‘believer’s high’ following the Emmaus weekend, the last thing I wanted was to spend a week with distant family who couldn’t begin to grasp the extent of my recent experience.  Of course I was clueless God would use this time to firmly root the newfound understanding of His love.

In a heart-to-heart with God, I voiced my hesitancy and said, “Lord, you’re just gonna have to love them through me!”  I’m sure God was cheering, aren’t you?  To think…Miss ‘I Can Do it Myself’ willingly turning a situation over to God before I was knee deep in the muck of a mess I’d created!  And let me tell you…it was the BEST six days I’d ever spent with each and every one of them!!!!  The biggest blessing was walking through the door to a new relationship with my stepdad – the sweetest guy you’d ever want to meet – a guy I hadn’t really given the time of day to for over 30 years.  Yes – another not so proud transparent moment.  My quiet childish attitude of “he took my mama away” faded into oblivion as he welcomed me with open arms.  Imagine that – God using this new relationship to show me fatherly love – no strings attached.

Yes, I’m gonna say it again… stay tuned! Til then…

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Lookin’ for Love

Interesting…I completely forgot I’d written this post (APR’14) and never published…

Talk about an oldie but a goodie!  The song was made popular with the hit movie Urban Cowboy and the lyrics ring true on more than an emotional level – with this part of my journey – inviting you Behind the Mask, looking for love is at the crux of my barriers – physical, emotional, and spiritual.

heartsI was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes, lookin’ for traces
Of what I’m dreamin’ of

While the song may be speaking of finding that special someone, the pattern I seem to repeat in different ways is seeking to fill a void reserved for God alone. Quizzed, intellect dictates my response.  Carefully observed, my beliefs – rather unbeliefs shout an opposing view far louder than any intellectual response.  My guess is quite a few folks can readily identify with this conundrum.

A couple of years ago, God revealed a pattern of me seeking affirmation from a potential life partner – talk about a painful realization! While the root cause was obvious and I truly desired a change – time revealed the truth: A: I didn’t permanently give it to God.  B: I’m powerless to change myself.  Of course, now that I’ve journeyed through some pretty rough pitfalls, it’s easier to recognize certain behaviors – in the moment though? I didn’t have  a clue – I was too busy trying to drive the direction of my life!  You see, masks have a tendency to limit the view – a broader perspective – and as a result, I often missed diligently looking to God for the answers.

Oh how easily & seamlessly I push God out of the driver’s seat! The places we look for human love to fill what only God can…not just in a life partner, but in a job, friendships…you name it! I wonder if I wrote this last year just after I realized I’d been searching to fill that void with my job…affirmation…yes…circling again and again around worthiness.

Is my mask more transparent today compared to this time last year? Definitely.  Is there still work to be done? Absolutely. God so gentle – so merciful…the closer He draws us to Him (light) we always see much clearer than before.