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
Last 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.
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
Day 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!!!!!
The odd thing about pride is that you don’t (well…I didn’t) realize how it’s like self-applied handcuffs and a blindfold, and then throwing yourself into a deep, dark pit.
However, that’s when you have a divine opportunity to see God right in front of you…waiting to help…if you ask.
I was truly in the “do or die” moment…the “do” was taking the biggest leap of faith I could possibly imagine and banking everything on the assurance that God specializes in cliff-catching. The winds of change seemed like a category five hurricane…I would either crash into the stormy sea below and drown or God would catch me.
Spoiler Alert! He caught me! He showed up and taught me what it looked like for me to take the armor of God into the workplace…meeting me exactly where I was and leading the charge. The workplace was my most challenging battlefield and I needed constant reminders surrounding me! Folks may have thought I’d skipped right over the edge of the cliff into the abyss…and honestly I had – I took the full on leap from what life was trying to steer on my own to what could be by allowing God to step in and lead. Those constant reminders I mentioned???? Not an exaggeration….and yes…if you look closely, that is a Keurig in the background between the monitors…what can I say? This gal enjoys her coffee!
I’m so thankful I have this photo because I never ever want to forget this time in my journey…it was pivotal to God taking me to a totally new level in my relationship with Him. And once again, He patiently taught me what it was like NOT to seek approval from man.
Just you wait…2014 was equally as crazy, but now I was learning to use my crazy deflector shield… GOD!
A couple days ago I talked about when craziness collides… and that’s where I found myself at the end of the year. Thankfully, my daughter was doing so much better. Unfortunately, the stress and demands of work combined with my dad’s health had taken such a toll that even a few weeks away was pretty much too little too late and the collision of life felt like a total loss.
But it wasn’t a total loss….not even close. Sure, it might have felt that way…but in times like these, this is when and where God’s Word assures us of our future – even when it seems like everything’s falling apart…
James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
1 Peter 1:6-7 “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
The great thing is that during this time, the troops rallied around me through prayer like you wouldn’t…. like I couldn’t believe! Such an outpouring of love and support to encourage me forward…
Can you believe we’re almost to the middle of the month? I’m not sure which surprises me most: that I’ve written for 12 consecutive days or that the days are truly flying by!
So today I wrote about the actual day my dad moved into assisted living. Although I’d known people in the past whose parents moved to assisted living, I had no true appreciation of the mental toll it can take… and maybe it’s not like that for everyone. Maybe I made things harder on myself…by creating unrealistic expectations for myself I could never meet…
Thankfully, I had friends praying over the situation with my dad and I was trusting God as best I could to see us through…and He did. Was it hard? Yes. Was it painful? Absolutely. Did I grow? By leaps and bounds!
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.