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 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

Choosing my “One Word”

imageLast 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.

Job 11:13-15(CEV)

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
and fearless.

#write31days – Day31

imageDay 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!!!!!

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#write31days – Day 22

imageThe 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!image

 

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!

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#write31days – Day 21

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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…

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