Saturday, March 26, 2011

One of My New Favorite Words...

I like Friday’s.  I feel closer to God on Fridays.  
Can’t explain it.  I just do.
Today was no exception.  This morning I had the honor of sharing my testimony with a room full of Moms at church.   I’ve shared my story three times now, and each time I do, I am reminded of God’s goodness.  He has equipped me to do His will, and for that, I am simply in awe.
For the first time, I had placed a mini tape recorder on the podium and taped myself speaking.  I doubt I’ll ever sit down and listen to it.  I think I would cringe all the way through it.  Oh, why did I say it that way or I wish I would have said it that way, I’m sure, would fill my thoughts.   
But I taped it for two reasons.   First, my Dad.  I think my Dad especially gets a kick out of me speaking.  When he sat among 250 women at my first talk, he was as excited as I was that God gave me the ability to share my story.  My parents live in Arizona so a quick ride in to hear the same story wasn’t gonna happen.  So I taped it for both my Dad and my Mom.  
Secondly, I taped it for my kids.  I doubt they know how much I struggled with being a Mom when they were young.  I’m sure my daughter will understand the challenges of being a Mom only when she herself becomes a Mom.   I’m very honest when I speak about the adjectives I use to describe myself as a young Mom: miserable, empty, unfulfilled, guilty.  It wasn’t until Jesus whispered into my heart “be still” at a church retreat several years ago that I came home and re-prioritized my life.   God first.  Family second.  And any thing after that, doesn’t really mean too much to me anymore.  OK, not true.  I love my cats.  And my garden.  And my friends.  Just being honest.
So after I spoke, I found myself dropping off my little tape recorder to a company that could convert it onto a CD.  And then I remembered that there was a cute little store in that area that I’ve been meaning to wander into.  
In this sweet little store, I found a bowl of wooden blocks.  And we all know that I can't resist anything that has words, letters or numbers on it.    As I picked one up, I noticed that the side facing me read speak.
So I told the owner that I had just spoken at church and shared with her how God has changed my life, and that this little block needed to come home with me.  She wrapped it up as I handed her a five dollar bill.  She handed me back four dollars and seventy five cents.   She said she knew if she gave it to me for free, I wouldn’t have accepted it.   She charged me a quarter.  I think she’s my new best friend!
And speaking of my new friend, I promised her that I would feature her new store on my blog.  There’s not too many stores around here that make me melt.  And this one definitely does.  And it’s brand new, so I’d love all of you to take a peek at her creativity and passion for all things old and yummy.   So when I have a minute to grab my camera and run over to her store, I’ll be happy to share this little gem with you.    I’ll post it on 
So enjoy your weekend.  Maybe a wet one, who knows.  Maybe just hunker down, rain or shine, and enjoy the heck out of your family.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

God Doesn't Make Mistakes...

There are a number of people in my little world who I greatly admire.   I admire them for who they are, not what they have.  

My nephew Anthony no longer has the use of his legs.  He’s been in a wheelchair since he turned 21.  A bad accident on a cold November’s night changed his life forever.   
However, on this cold morning 18 years later, he spoke to a room full of kids at my daughter’s school.  
He shared with them that he had been drinking and lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into a telephone pole.  He told them that he had died twice on the way to the hospital.  He told them that he had spent six months in the hospital.  He told them that he didn’t have God in his life.  
The room fell silent when he began to cry about how his Mom would pray for him.  How it was so important that he find and know the Lord.  
Several months after his accident, his weak and frail body made it home.  He faced a new life without the use of his legs.  This avid motorcycle/surfing/baseball playing guy entered a new world.  Everywhere he turned, he encountered people who said they were praying for him.  And within a few months, he gave his life to Jesus.  
I’m going to guess that no one in that room this morning will ever forget him or his story.   The kids won’t.  The teachers won’t.  And the parents won’t.  
He filled that room with hope.  And encouragement.  And delivered a lesson for all to remember -- God has a plan for your life.  
I remember walking into the ICU the morning after his accident.  I remember that he was unrecognizable.  I remember his tongue was as thick as an encyclopedia.  His eyes were black and blue, his shattered leg was held up by two steel rods and the number of tubes and machines I saw were overwhelming.  
I also remember taking him out into the sunlight for the very first time after his accident.  He hadn’t seen the sun in over six months.  As my sister and brother-in-law placed sunglasses over his eyes and wheeled him outside of the hospital, I remember looking at his thin, thin body that was barely able to sit upright in the wheelchair.  This strapping six foot guy who loved to jet ski now struggled to hold himself up.
And I remember standing there, choking back the tears and thinking, 
God, what did you do?  
Why did this happen? 
 How could any good ever come out of this?
And I’m sure God was saying, “I don’t make mistakes.  
Remember Jeremiah 29:11 --
For I know the plans I have for you.  
They are plans for good and not for disaster, 
to give you a future and hope.” 
When I was facing cancer and my very long recovery, I looked to my nephew as my inspiration.  I remember what he looked like and what he couldn’t do.  And then I remembered what he looks like now and what he can do.   And what he does do.  For everybody.  
He is the epitome of encouragement.  
He is the poster child that God Does Not Make Mistakes.  

Though his legs no longer work, his heart is in overdrive.  
Thank you, Anthony, for sharing your story with all of us at 
Bethany Christian School!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes!

As we raised our glasses to celebrate our son's acceptance into Oaks Christian Middle School, it dawned on me that exactly one year ago tonight, I was 
leaving Cedars-Sinai after a nine-hour chemo infusion.  
My fifth one.  
I was bald, thin and exhausted.

What a difference a year makes!

I have hair (notice my curls are gone!), 
I've packed on a few pounds and 
I often see 1 a.m.
as often as I see 1 p.m. 
Mom, you did not just read that!  
(She hates that I stay up so late).

So clearly, this St. Patrick's Day goes down 
in the books as the 
best St. Patrick's Day ever.  

I thank God for restoring my health.
I thank God for His abundant grace.
And I thank God for my precious family.

"In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory 
by means of Christ Jesus.  
So after you have suffered a little while, 
He will restore, support and strengthen you, 
and He will place you on a firm foundation.  
All power to Him forever.  

1 Peter 5:10-11

Monday, March 14, 2011

And the Winner Is...

Not me!  I woke up this morning to learn that I was not chosen as one of the winners of the She Speaks scholarships.  There were about 300 women who entered, and I look forward to reading the winning entries tonight.   I am truly happy for them.  I sound like I just lost the Academy Award.

Though that contest is closed, there's another one that's open for a speaking scholarship.  That one is a little scarier for me to enter, considering I've only spoken twice so far.   But then I thought it would be such an amazing opportunity to learn from other Christian women who have so much to teach.  So I began writing my story as to why I should be selected to win that scholarship.  Right before I entered, I went onto the website and began reading other applicants' stories.  And it was then that I decided not to enter.  One woman had to sell her tractor to begin her ministry and another's husband has been out of work for a year and a half.   Clearly, there's many women who need to win a scholarship to attend the conference.  So with that realization, I will continue to pray for God's direction.

But this morning's loss was a great lesson for all of us.  It brought up God's will versus our desires.  And we talked about that.  Tonight as I was putting my daughter to bed, she prayed, "And thank you God that Mommy didn't win the contest because you know what's best for her."  

And I'll take those sweet words of wisdom over a scholarship any day!  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

She Speaks

OK, so an opportunity has come my way.  Well, maybe.  
Ever since my cancer diagnosis, I have put fingertip to keyboard.  And I am loving it.  I love sharing my journey with you and my heart melts each and every time I receive an encouraging email to “keep ‘em coming!” (Thanks, Dad!) 
Many of you have kindly told me I should be a writer.  And after speaking at my bible study a few months back, many of you have kindly told me I should speak.  Well, if I enter Proverbs 31 Ministries contest, I could win a scholarship to the She Speaks women’s conference in North Carolina this summer.  As a writer, I could refine my skills and meet with publishers (when would that ever happen?).  And as a speaker, I could learn about finding my voice in a ministry.  The bottom line -- I would be spending three days in a hotel filled with women who share the same passion as me -- using their words to share Jesus with others. 
But when I first read about this conference, my thoughts were flooded with so many reasons to not apply such as:
It’s too far, I hate to fly, it’s too humid, none of my friends would want to go with me, I hate to fly, I would get lost by myself in North Carolina, we shouldn’t spend the money and I hate to fly.   And did I mention I hate to fly?  Hate it.
And then I prayed, “Lord, you have given me this passion for sharing my story with others.  And you have given me the ability to write and to speak.  Please help me rise above my fears and step out a little more than I ever have before.  I really don’t have peace with this decision, but I do have peace putting it in Your beautiful hands.  In Jesus' name, Amen.”
So with that prayer, I am going to enter the contest.  It may just turn out that I won’t win.  And I’m good with that.  And it may just turn out that I will win.  Could you imagine?  I think I would have a silly grin on my face the whole time I was there.  A grin that said, “Lord, who knew I would be at a conference in North Carolina one year after having cancer and learning how to write a better blog?!”  And my favorite answer: He knew.  
So after clearing the trip with me and with God, I had to clear it with my family too.  Summers are pretty important to them.  
While driving to church last Sunday, I asked my kids if they would want to go to North Carolina this summer.  To my shock, they both said yes.  OK, my two kids can’t even agree on what to eat for dinner!  Jake tells me he would love to go because he loves the Tarheels and, unbeknownst to me, has been wearing their baseball hat for the last month (see it in the photo above?).  And Rachel is excited to go because “North Carolina is close to Virginia.” (Must have something to do with the Native American Indian report she’s working on).   And thankfully, my husband Ed is always supportive of my creative dreams and is generally up for anything.
So with all that said, I am going to enter the contest.  Given such deliberation, you would think I’m considering going back to school to become a neurosurgeon!  But just entering the contest is a big deal for me (what if I win and actually have to go?!).  But this is the beauty of it -- the old me would have labored over this decision and then passed it up.   The new me has decided to take the labor and guess work out of it and give it directly to God. 
Do you remember a few posts back I shared an excerpt from the book Jesus Calling? (One of my faves).  
Do you think today’s message touched my heart?
“...When you are determined to get your own way, you blot Me out of your consciousness.  Instead of single-mindedly pursuing some goal, talk with me about it.  Let the light of My presence shine on this pursuit, so that you can see it from My perspective.  If the goal fits into My plans for you, I will help you reach it.  If it is contrary to My will for you, I will gradually change the desire of your heart.  Seek Me first and foremost; then the rest of your life will fall into place, piece by piece.”
Who doesn't want a life that falls into place, piece by piece?  
So wish me luck, and if anyone else out there would love to spend three days in North Carolina in July learning about blending their passion for writing and speaking and God, then click on the She Speaks button on the left.  The contest is open to everyone and closes on March 11th.  Two winners will be notified on Monday, March 14th.  
So now I ask you.  Is there anything you’ve been wanting to try (maybe this summer) but haven’t?  Are you a little scared of something, but know you would love to conquer it?  Why don’t you take the guess work out of it, and give it to God.  As the book above reminds us, “If the goal fits into My plans for you, I will help you reach it.”  
All you can do is ask.  And then obey.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Walk By Faith...

Do you ever walk by something and see it with fresh eyes?
I did this morning.
As I was watering the flowers on our front porch, I noticed a rock I painted with the word “faith” sitting on top of an old pair of shoes I fill with flowers.  
“Walk by faith” came to my mind as I saw that little vignette.  I think that rock has been sitting there for almost a year.  
Pretty hard to walk by faith, huh?  To believe in something you don’t see.  To believe the problem can be solved without seeing how.  To put our trust in God rather than ourselves.  
Just last week, I had to do just that.  
Certain things got to me, made me mad and made me sad.  I sound like Dr. Seuss (by the way, today is his birthday -- a little trivia for you).  I was in such a bad mood that I drove to a parking lot late one night and stayed in my car for hours.  Crying.  But all the while knowing that this little episode would make it into one of my blogs.  Probably under the heading of “faith.”  
I received some bad news (nothing to do with cancer) and I got mad.  Then I heard some heart-breaking news, and I became very sad.  And every time I seemed to turn around, bad news stood before me.  I couldn’t shake it.  It lasted for more than a week.
I kept praying and asking God to remove this cloud from over me.  How could I weather cancer so well, and then allow life’s smaller storms to torment me?  Why was I struggling so much?
And then one day, He took it away.  Upon hearing more bad news, I said, “Lord, you were with me through cancer, and I know you’ll be with me through this.  Thank you that I don’t have to do this alone.”    
And, I’m telling you, it was as if God grabbed the cloud over my head and threw it in a trash can.  I immediately felt His peace again.  And joy.
I wish I had experienced this feeling a week earlier.   I’m teaching my kids that God is not a genie in a bottle.  We don’t pray and, bam, our prayer comes true.  Oh, how I wish that were true.  
We need to wait on Him.  For His perfect timing.  
But what I am trying to teach my kids is that God promises us many things.  Promises we need to hold on to -- no matter what. 
Here’s a good one.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him,
and He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-7
My path is straight.  For today.  
And I know I need to lean on Him every day 
for it to remain straight. 

Good thing that rock and those old shoes sit by my front door.  
A daily reminder to walk by faith.