The Face of Faith

Early Sunday, my church family learned of a tragic accident and loss of a beloved member, wife, mother, friend….

While I didn’t personally know Mary, I knew of her as a cherished Believer. The shockwaves through our congregation are palpable as many struggle to understand…. her husband Marc, is in the fight of his life as he sustained numerous injuries. Their precious children were delivered from the accident physically unscathed… so many broken pieces of their lives to somehow be pieced back together…

At some point in our lives, we have or will face similar trials… we will experience the pain of a seemingly untimely death of a loved one… a terminal illness diagnosis… physical loss…. emotional loss… financial loss…. LOSS in some form or fashion…

My nephew posted on Facebook today and his words were so impactful, I felt led to share….

I have to admit, I don’t understand God. But I also confess that despite that confusion, and perhaps anger… I cling even more to my faith in Him. My faith that through the brokenness He will be there. He has power to bring some good from it. I do not believe He caused it, nor that He “wanted” it. But I know that He “allowed” it. And that is where my frustration lies. I don’t know everything, so I defer to His wisdom, His goodness. Even though I don’t understand, His character is still the same. His integrity is still there. His glory still shines. So I will praise Him and serve Him the rest of the days He allows me to remain on this earth. And on that day that He calls me home. I will reunite with my friend in the presence of God. And no pain, no tears, no sadness will ever be experienced again. It will all be okay in the end. If it isn’t okay… it isn’t the end.

— Mike Gonzalez

This life is fleeting…. if you take away anything, hug your babies….your spouse…. your loved ones…. show kindness regardless of the circumstances … love like Jesus

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. 

#write31days – Day 27

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We’re all familiar with Matthew 6 where Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow:

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

It’s so true! Although my daughter was ill and spent Mother’s Day weekend in the hospital, April & May 2014 were low-key in comparison to the prior year and I was truly thankful!  For the first time ever, I could just be a mom without the weight of a job (and deadlines!) looming over me.

I didn’t want to think about tomorrow – well, to be honest…. I didn’t really want to think about much of anything.  But the prior year really taught me so much about who God is and I really enjoyed resting in His arms without my faith being tested.  I was still battle weary and even though I knew in my heart more challenging times with my dad lay ahead, I didn’t want to think about it.  And if I didn’t think about it? You got it – I wouldn’t worry.

It’s easy to sit on this side of yesterday and see things so clearly, isn’t it? The trick with worry isn’t so much not thinking about unknowns; it’s looking to God with confidence He knows our unknowns.

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#write31days – Day 25

imageGod fuel – a term I’m sure used by others before me…the thing that keeps you going when you have nothing left in the tank…not even fumes of perseverance to tap into.  That place where you’ve reached the end of yourself, willingly given God the reigns, and start to see Him work wonders.

That’s where I was in the six weeks leading to my resignation.  I was pouring what little I had into God and in return He was pouring into and through me so that I could meet numerous demands.  No longer was I fretting over every detail of my dad’s declining health…I made a choice…I chose to trust God to provide for him, just as He was providing for me.  No longer was I a basket of nerves walking into the office…my focus on God kept me calm and available for Him to work through me in meeting requirements of the job and not be rattled by excessive demands.

It was as if an incredible weight had been lifted – no doubt, the days were difficult, but I wasn’t trying to lead and manage every minute detail…I Laid it at the Cross – and left it there, where God could take over.  Thinking of Laying it at the Cross reminded me of a post from earlier this year…

Lay it at the CrossAt some point, most believers have experienced the opportunity to physically lay cares at the foot of a cross – for me, it was a very powerful experience – so powerful, my daughter made me something very special – a shadow box where I can write and leave cares at Jesus’ feet.  Now, take a moment and look closely at the box…granted, this is the original  photo, but it’s still looks pretty darn empty today – speaks volumes, doesn’t it? I look at the cross every single day and yet I hold onto so many cares troubling my heart.  A pattern of unbelief I didn’t recognize before.  Yesterday I pulled out the ONE item I wrote and placed at the foot of the cross – it was a prayer to God over my work situation last year – in the weeks that followed, I left my corporate job and God blessed my obedience and trust in Him more than ten-fold.  You see for me, I only know I’ve really laid it down (and left it there) when I experience perfect peace in the days and months (or years) following.

Perfect peace – that’s the result when I truly leave something in God’s hands.  It’s incredible!  And the scripture is so true – He will sustain you… He provides the God fuel you need to get through every difficult season.  I may not put tons of pieces of paper in the box, but I am consistently laying cares at the cross.  I’m incredibly grateful for the lessons He so patiently began reinforcing in me – I still get stubborn, but more readily say “Here, Lord” with truly open palms.

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#write31days – Day 24

imageThe connection between knowing and believing can seem so elusive at times… what I often refer to as the head-heart connection.  It doesn’t work…not for me anyway…to only have knowledge.  

It’s fairly easy to refer to scripture or post-it notes or daily Devotionals for reassurance, don’t you think?  It’s the putting into practice that can often be the real challenge.  Let’s look at Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Now, if you asked me what I thought about that verse before mid-March 2014, I would emphatically agree with scripture saying, “why yes!  of course! I believe it with my whole heart!” Well…maybe not.  Maybe I wanted to believe it with my whole heart, my head rationalized the scripture to be true, but when push comes to shove, actions reveal what we really believe.

When God whispered “go” in early to mid-February, apparently I wasn’t 100% convinced it was Him and not me.  On sooooo many levels it would be easier to cut bait & run, but as I’ve mentioned before, I struggle with a pride issue: I don’t quit – and certainly not before I feel good about it…in other words, I like things on my terms.

Thankfully, we serve a mighty God who is merciful & gracious – a God so loving to teach us He is trustworthy and faithful.  Yes, it took me a few weeks of His reassurances and really pressing into Him to make the connection between knowing and believing 

  • YES! God has a plan for me
  • YES! His plan includes prosperity
  • YES! His plan will give me hope
  • YES! His plan provides a future

I didn’t have a clue what the future looked like, but God reminded me of His faithfulness to ALWAYS provide for my needs…for the many times I was laid off due to economic circumstances, my family never went without and a job ALWAYS came along before the bank account went dry. So why should I question Him now?  I shouldn’t. I needed to trust Him…and that’s exactly what I did.

Do I get it right and trust completely the first go round? Ehhh….not so much, but I’m learning.

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