Monday, November 26, 2012

Because of a License Plate!

Well, can I just tell you that I am glowing.  Yes, glowing!  I can actually feel the heat coming off of my face!  

While I was standing in line today at Goodwill (where else!) buying a 99-cent quilted pillow sham to hopefully turn into a Christmas stocking one day, I checked my email.  And to my shock, I began reading an email from a photo editor at Angels on Earth Magazine (a Guideposts publication).  

"We are featuring your story called My License Plate Says It All for the March/April issue.  To help illustrate the story, we would like to publish a photo of the current license plate on the back of your car."  

Oh. My. Lord!  I felt the glow begin immediately!  
(And the people around me probably thought it was because I scored a quilted pillow sham for less than a buck!  Oh, no it wasn't!)

I wrote an article over five years ago about my love of (ok, obsession with) personalized license plates.  And about a year after finding out I had cancer, I ordered a new one.  I recently found the original article I wrote and changed the ending to include my new new diagnosis and my new license plate.  Soon after I re-wrote it, I gave it to my friend Teri to read.  She then gave it to her sister Shelly to read (whom I had never met).  Shelly was taking Teri's boys to the beach to surf.  While there, she called to tell me that she had sat on the beach, reading and re-reading the article several times.  Apparently, she really liked it. 

So a few hours later, I thought, if she liked it that much, maybe it's time to re-submit it to Guideposts Magazine -- one of my favorite magazines on the planet (filled with inspirational stories).  So on September 26 (exactly two months ago today), I hit "send" on my computer.  

So now a little back story.  

 Teri just dropped by my house tonight to pick up her daughter.  I stopped writing this post to answer the door and to tell her the good news.  She reminded me (with a big smile on her face) how much her sister had loved reading it.  That her sister had never come out before to spend the night at her house and to take her kids surfing.  And that the only thing she grabbed to read while watching them surf was my article.  
Funny how God works out all the details, isn't it?  
God used Shelly to encourage me.  Without her enthusiasm, I doubt I would have ever sent it.

As some of you know, I studied journalism in college.  I longed to be a writer.  A published writer.  I've submitted many articles over the years only to receive the "we're not interested at this time" rejection letter.  So when so many of you sweet people encourage me by saying, "You should write a book," I think, "No, I probably shouldn't.  I can't even get an article published." 

But I continue to leave all of my dreams in His hands.  And I love waiting to see what He has in store for me.

So, to prove that I love personalized license plates, I thought I'd share with you my collection of inspiring license plates I've seen around town.   I love those that say to the world, "I love the Lord so much, I'll put it on my license plate!"  

So here's just a few.  Disclaimer:  I don't know who these plates belong to.  I've just taken photos of those that have caught both my eye and my heart while walking through a parking lot.  I think I know what they say.  Let's see if you agree...

Forever God

   Jesus Rocks
 (and apparently the Cowboys do too!)

Five Love Him
(make that six!)

Alive in Jesus Christ?

God Rocks
 (think they know the Cowboy fans?)

Worship Him

God's for You

He Loves to Praise?

Jesus Christ, our King?

You are Loved
(so very, very true)

Well, if any of these look familiar, please let me know who they belong to.  I'd love to know!  

Re-dedicating my life to the Lord has made me see things quite differently now.  All I do is for Him.  Including sharing my love for Him on my license plate.  I love to sit at a red light, look in my rear view mirror and watch someone's mouth slowly sounding out the words, "use your gift."

I hope it encourages everyone to do just that.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fun Mom...

I did something last night I hopefully will never do again.  I did it because I'm trying to spread my wings out a bit as a Mom.  Trying to maybe earn the title of "Fun Mom" one day.  For example, this Mom often says no to ice cream before dinner.  However, Fun Mom just flagged down an ice cream truck the other night in 60 degree weather to get my kids a $3.50 popsickle thing they longed for -- before dinner.  As I jokingly sped up so I wouldn't lose the ice cream truck, and took corners real fast down a deserted street, I made a memory I know my kids won't forget. All because I let them have dessert before dinner.  It was worth it.

So, last night was no exception.   After another great Thanksgiving meal at my in-laws' home, we got home around 8 o'clock.  I did my usual thing:  took my shoes off, slid my bra off through the arm of my t-shirt (come on, you've done that before, right?) and got under a warm quilt on the couch.  "Ahhhhhhhh.  Night-night time," I thought.

About an hour later, just as I was almost down for the count, my daughter's head pops over the couch.

"Mom, are you asleep?  she whispers.  "You know what I've always wanted to do?  Go shopping on Black Friday."

I mumbled, "That starts tomorrow.  And no you don't.  There's gobs of people who shop on Friday.  We'll go next week."

As I turned over to get more comfortable, that little voiced said over my head, "No, it starts tonight at midnight at the mall. "

This Mom who longs to be Fun Mom wanted to die.  I layed there hoping if I pretended I quickly fell back to sleep she would retreat back to her bed.  No such luck.

"Can we go?" she said with a hopeful voice.

After a very long pause, and I mean very long pause, I mumbled, "Yeah,"  hoping she would fall asleep before the stroke of midnight.  Again, no such luck.

OK, so if you've never ventured out into Black Friday, I will quickly tell you why you should not.  Here are my observations.

1.  I've never seen more people walk into the mall at one time than I did last night.  Picture what the parking lot would look like if Apple were giving away new iphone 5s.  Yeah, at midnight.

2.  No one looked tired.  No one!  I told Rachel that we would count how many yawns we saw while we were there.  Three!  Three yawns after midnight and after eating one of the biggest meals of the year.  My record, I think, was 97.

3.  In front of every cash register stood at least 15 to 20 people.  That was fun.  At midnight.  With the exception of the Crock store -- there was no one!  If you have stock in that company, sell now!

4.   All the stores I wanted to wander into were closed:  Anthropology, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn,  Nordstrom and See's Candy.  Hmm, no wonder I like these stores.  They're normal!!!

5.  There were no sales above and beyond the usual sales they always offer.  Not fun to find this out at midnight I might add.   

6.  Case in point.  Fun Mom said, "Rachel, I bet you want some Wetzel Pretzel bites at 1 am.  Let's go get some!"   Until we both looked at the line with 27 people in it and ended up in Godiva instead.  She got one chocolate-covered strawberry.  $7.  Yeah, apparently they weren't participating in Black Friday either.  

So at 1:17 am, Fun Mom and her daughter headed back home.  As I drove home, eyes still stinging from way too many flourescent lights on at that time of night, I dreamed of my warm quilt on my warm couch.

As I write this post at 8 am this morning (my eyes still stinging from interrupted REM sleep), someone is still out cold after a night of late-night shopping.  

But hopefully she'll wake up with a memory to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Surprises and Blessings...

Well, as so many of you are cutting up vegetables and tearing up bread in preparation for tomorrow’s big feast, (I’m not -- I’m on clean-up duty!), I wanted to share a bit from a blog I follow.  It’s called

“This year, Thanksgiving has special meaning for me. During Thanksgiving last year, my mother was in a coma after a horrific accident left her with a broken neck. Her doctors fully believed she wouldn't survive the first 24 hours -- they were wrong. My mom has incredible strength and has survived cancer, a broken neck and a month-long coma. Thankfully, she is spending this Thanksgiving with her family and taking on her traditional role of chief pie baker and mashed potato maker.”

This made me shake my head and say, “Amazing.”  We think we know how everything will turn out.  And often, we’re wrong.  
God knows how everything will turn out.  

Here’s to being thankful for a God who has amazing surprises up His robe’s sleeves.  
And bountiful blessings for us all.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Divine Appointment...

Nothing better than witnessing something that again assures me that our Lord is alive and well.  

Case in point: 
His Flower Girls Class No. 7.

I'll do my best to share this story from yesterday's class with you.

So the night before our seventh class, three girls cancelled.  One had a sinus infection, one had sick kids, and one had a fever.  Because we only hold these classes once a month, it bothered Donna and I that three seats would go unfilled.  So we started making a few phone calls.  Not much luck at 9 o'clock at night.  You women are busy on Thursdays!

Yesterday morning before the class, one of my friends who was coming asked if she could invite someone.  I said absolutely.  She asked me to email her the invitation so she could email it to her friend.

When Donna arrived, we chatted about the class being small this month.  Donna said, "Don't think it matters.  I bet you this will be an amazing class."

Uh, she was right.

As we were all seated in the family room, Joy (our fourth student) arrived.  As she put her purse down, she went to grab her Bible.  Donna told her, "Oh, you won't need that.  Just grab your camera if you have one.  You might want to take pictures."  I saw the look on Joy's face that said, "What?  What will I be taking pictures of?  What are we doing here today?"

So let me give you a little background.

Joy woke up yesterday morning.  During her quiet time with God, she thanked Him for bringing Melinda into her life (our third student who invited her).  She asked God to allow her to find some time to spend with Melinda.  Just then the phone rang.  Melinda (out of the blue) calls Joy to ask her if she'd like to join her at a friend's house for a few hours.  She said something like, "Come with me for some fellowship with some great ladies and have lunch."

Well, Joy jumped at the chance because all she really wanted to do was spend some time with Melinda.   

As we began our class, I noticed that while I was sharing how grateful I am that God is using my passion for Him and my love for decorating with others, that Joy reached for a Kleenex.  A few hours later, while Teri was speaking about how she loves to help women organize and decorate their homes so that they too can open up their homes to others, Joy was again moved to tears.  

She then explained to us that she had been on her knees that morning right before Melinda's call asking the Lord to help her 
transform her home.  She wanted to be able to feel comfortable opening it up and having people over.  To lead Bible studies.  To share her faith.  But this is something she has prayed long and hard for -- with no answer. 
Until yesterday.

Here's a snippet from the email I received from Joy this morning:

"God divinely planned this day...Nov 15th, 2012... for me to be in your HOME!  I have never been so inspired and "blown away" by God's way of answering my heart's prayer for Him to provide for me to begin transforming my home. (I prayed literally crying out to Him at 8:20 am for Him to please SEND help soon!)

He orchestrated every detail of this day for me to be at your home (without me even knowing what was to take place -- a decorating class!)  And then while at your home, he literally sent to me the help I've been praying for -- Teri! Even though I had never met her before, I had to give her a hug right away when I saw her out of gratitude to God for the gift of sending her in answer to my prayers."

Ok.  A few more tidbits of info:

1.  I had forgotten to invite Teri to our class.  Even though she's a regular now, I had forgotten to mention it to her.  Chemo brain + age = bad memory.   She was already scheduled to work with a new client, but was able to change it at the last minute and pop in just long enough to teach and serve us tea.

2.  Joy never received the email/invitation that I had forwarded to my friend that morning so she could forward it to her.  She had no idea she was walking into a decorating class!

3.  Another woman had popped in to our class, even though she had already attended a previous one.  Funny thing, though, is that Teri wasn't a part of our class back then and had never met her before. But tears flowed as this woman spoke honestly about needing Teri's help to de-clutter parts of her beautiful home.  Again, another divine appointment.

So as my partner Donna said before the class began, "This one's gonna be a good one."  
She was spot on.

As the last girl left and the door was closed behind her, I looked at Donna and said, "I need a nap."  We both agreed that we were emotionally drained from seeing God's handiwork unfold in my family room.  

And I share this story with y'all (hee hee!) to again remind you that the God of our universe hears and answers prayer.  He may not move immediately.  He's not a genie in a bottle.  But as you spend more time with Him, and give Him your heart and ask for His will to be done in your life, you will be blown away by His handiwork.  He orchestrates details to utter perfection.  
That's His gift -- just one of many.

And look how He answered a cry for help regarding a house.  To help decorate it, for organizational help.  You may not even think to ask for prayer for such a thing.  But Joy did.  

Bring every care of yours to Him.  Find the time to say, "Lord, I give this burden to You.  I need your help.  I know I can trust You.  Always.  Help me with this.  I don't want to do it by myself anymore.  Help me find quiet time every day to be with You.  To share my fears, my anxieties and my worries with You.  For in exchange, you will give me peace that surpasses all understanding.  And in my quiet time, I will be able to hear and follow you. 

 In Jesus' name, Amen."

Answer to prayer trumps a good decorating class anyday!
However, let us know if you'd like to join us.  We'd love, love, love to have you!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Older and Wiser...

Well, today this girl turns 46.  I’m the baby of the family (I have two older sisters -- but I won’t say how much older).   And it’s weird when the baby is 46 years old.  Yeek.  But I’ll tell you something, given my latest challenge, this girl isn't gonna complain about getting older!  Bring it on!  Wrinkles, double chins, bat wings and all!

I lost one of my best friends at the age of 39.  He was a father to four great kids.  We had grown up next door to each other and had remained great friends for all those years. I loved him dearly.  A few months later, I turned 40.  Friends asked me if I had a problem with turning the big 4-0.  “Nope, grateful to be alive and a Mom,” was my answer.  Forty shmorty.  Numbers mean nothing to me.  In fact, I can never remember how old I am anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. 

So this morning, I woke up and went on a walk with my daughter up to the Coffee Bean.  This old lady is trying desperately to exercise every day and eat better.  Not always successful, but I'm trying.  On the way home, I listened to Pandora.  Know of this?  It’s fantastic!  It’s an app you get on your iphone and once you type in a song you like, it automatically plays other similar songs -- for free!   So Rachel typed in one of my faves, “Who Am I?" by Casting Crowns and then a few songs later, up came “While I'm Waiting“ by John Waller.  I’d never heard of it before.  It’s now my favorite.   Give it a listen.  
The chorus is the best.

And see the picture above?  I took it while walking home.  Two little sticks crossed on the sidewalk to remind me of how much I love the Lord and how much he loves Me.  Too sweet.

So I wanted to share something with you.  
Two days from now will mark my three-year anniversary of living with cancer.  It’s amazing.  It feels as if I’ve had it my whole life, in some weird way.  And I'm so grateful of how things have changed because of this diagnosis.  So grateful.  I wouldn’t take my old life back for nothin’!  

Here's why:

I feel more alive than ever before.  Even though I have toxic medicine running through my veins, I've never felt better. 

 I cry at the drop of a hat.  And rarely tears of sadness.  God’s love and goodness are so clear to me now that it makes me cry like a baby.  In fact, I just recently bought a travel-sized package of Oil of Olay make-up removers to keep in my car because that’s where I do most of my crying.  I have to remove the mascara marks that run through my blush and then reapply it again.  But that’s OK.   

I feel closer to God than ever before.  He has clearly shown His love for me through these challenging days.  That blows me away.  Every. Single. Time.  

I now get what's important and what's not important.  
And for a girl who has wasted her days with unimportance
 (a lot!), I cherish this new life with such a new outlook.

And finally, I begin my days with:

Before cancer, a good day used to be filled with stuff.  Stuff that wasted my time.  Stuff that meant nothing.  Stuff that made me lose sight of what was important.  Now, my days are filled with meaning.  Serving others, helping others.  And growing.  All I want to do is grow in my faith. 

  But please don't read into this that ALL of my days are filled with serving others.  Just ask my husband.  :)

So in closing my post today, I just want to thank all of you for the many birthday texts and emails I have received.  In fact, I just got a phone call a second ago from my favorite florist, The English Garden.  They wanted to schedule a flower delivery for this afternoon.  Be still my heart.  

You guys bless me more than you will ever know. 
And as they say in the South, I love ya’ll!
Oh, and before I forget, we found out last week that my new regimen is working.  My tumor markers are down 50%!