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Friday, October 29, 2010

Choosing Happy


Mornings in my house can be hairy. In fact they usually are. They are hectic times filled with scurrying, hurrying, searching and whirring. Mornings seem to beckon frustrations, emotions and total drama.

Some days my alarm clock sounds at 4:52 AM. I run four miles, have a quiet time, shower, greet my husband, wake the children, finish getting dressed, make lunches, sign notes, pack backpacks, fix a crock pot dinner and get everyone out the door. All before 8:00.

Yet still, even on those days, we are sometimes late. Late gets my blood boiling. When it’s my own fault and when it’s somebody else’s fault. Usually late is a combination of all things in the above paragraph going wrong. I mean throw some crazy rare cancer diagnosis my way and it's calm waters with smooth sailing but something as regular as missing the school bus and I'm totally ballistic. Why is it like that?

I get crazy. Emotional energy charges through me and in my frenzy I stop breathing air and start breathing fire. I start gritting my teeth and when I stop mean mama is suddenly screaming at the ones she loves. In these moments I hear lots of thoughts in my head. Unfortunately it can take awhile for my thoughts to determine my actions.

These verses all come into my mind as I’m morphing into mean mama. This saddens me and reminds me that I am like the Apostle Paul and what I do is what I do not want to do. I have such a problem letting the Jesus on the inside of me show. Do you ever feel this way?

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Romans 7:19

The wise woman builds her house,
       but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
       but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

They sharpen their tongues like swords
       and aim their words like deadly arrows. Psalm 64:3

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

A fool gives full vent to his anger,
       but a wise man keeps himself under control. Proverbs 29:11

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
       for anger resides in the lap of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9
And then this most surprising thought of all came.
This is the day the LORD has made;
       let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Now I often use this happy day verse on birthdays and other happy occasions. This verse punctuates the days that I celebrate very well. But it has never popped into my mind on a horrible no good very bad day like yesterday. So when it popped I took notice.

God in all His goodness reminds me to choose happy when it’s hard. Just because mean mama ruled the morning doesn’t mean she has to rule the rest of the day. So no matter what your morning is like, choose happy.

I’ve decided to meditate on these thoughts and prayerfully consider my mornings. I want you to share your secrets. How do you get everyone out the door on time? I need your advice!

Choosing happy,


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Secret Stashes


I have this secret obsession. I watch this show.

The secret life of a hoarder amazes me. I cringe and gasp at the messiness and nastiness of their homes. It grosses me out to see rodents and evidence of them all around these diseased people. I don’t understand how they think the very trash and filth they live in is valuable. The astonishing thing is these unhealthy people dismiss their disease as simply “too much clutter.” Every.single.time.

These people become so attached to the possessions they are hoarding, they begin to think what the world sees as trash is useful. In many cases these people hoard secret stashes of trash itself keeping huge mountains of used paper plates, old newspaper and empty paper towel holders.  

Their eyes are blinded to the dust, cobwebs, feces and rodents that surround them. Their lives come to a grinding halt as trash fills bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms. As they keep trash and accumulate bizarre amounts of stuff, even useful items become contaminated and destroyed. Homes become uninhabitable storage units and irreparable damage is done.

As my twisted curiosity keeps my eyes glued to the television, I see this truth very clearly.

“Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars.” (Matthew 6:19 The Msg)

A recurrent dream in my life is that I wake up from a good night’s sleep and everything in my house is gone. Vanished. Stolen right out from under my nose while I sleep. Weird. I think it’s a warning that storing earthly treasures leads to a warped sense of values.

While watching Hoarders it’s so easy to see how possessions can rot, strangle and choke. I think it’s how God must feel watching me live sometimes. He must cringe as in my fury and haste to find the right wig for the weekend’s costume party, I rush past a hurting stranger. He is probably grossed out by the mountains of soiled stuff in my soul, which leave little space for those I love. And it must sadden Him when I live in the filth that I’ve caused by keeping trash as my own treasure.

Lord, open my eyes to the treasures of heaven. Give me Your values. Grant me wisdom to know what really matters most. Amen

And Hoarders, thank you for the motivation to clean my house!

“Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” (Matthew 6:20-21 The Msg)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Running


I’m studying the book of Jonah right now. One phrase keeps running through my head as I study. “He paid the price.”

“He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish—as far away from God as he could get.” Jonah 1:3 The Msg

Have you ever run from God? There is always a price to pay.

I find it interesting that some scholars believe Jonah actually chartered the whole boat and crew. Chartering a boat is expensive. Scholars speculate Jonah was not only trying to pick a destination as far away from Jerusalem, where the manifest presence of the Lord rested, as he could but also with a crew and boat that would get him away as soon as possible. Jonah wanted control and he paid the price.

Read that again. Jonah wanted control and he paid the price.

Ouch! This might, maybe a little bit sound like something I might maybe want in my own life too. Control.

I want to say where I’m going. I want to determine how fast I’ll get there.

And so I choose a destination, set goals along the way and fully expect a fruitful result from my efforts. But sometimes God has a different plan.

This is where my mind is today. Have you paid a high price to get what you want? My mind is flickering here and there wandering in and out of my own “ship chartering” experiences. Reading about Jonah makes me want to walk around my own life with a divine GPS system attached to my arm!

Oh wait! We already have one.

The wise counsel God gives when I'm awake
      is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
   Day and night I'll stick with God;
      I've got a good thing going and I'm not letting go.

 I'm happy from the inside out,
      and from the outside in, I'm firmly formed.
   You canceled my ticket to hell—
      that's not my destination!

  Now you've got my feet on the life path,
      all radiant from the shining of your face.
   Ever since you took my hand,
      I'm on the right way.
Psalm 16:7-11 The Msg


Thursday, October 21, 2010

What the Doctor Said

Here it is Thursday afternoon and I still haven’t given you any news here and for that I’m sorry. I truly am. The week has been a whirlwind that didn’t slow down to let me off for two days!

I endured the tests, iv’s, drinks and tubes. I endured the probing and prodding and even more radiation. I anxiously awaited my appointment with the doctor trying to cling to the promise a friend boldly sent me saying was the “perfect prayer.”

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

When I received her text I just started repeating the words, “Lord, more than we can ask or imagine.” I didn’t really think much of it honestly. I was just trying to not let my mind run wild with all the possibilities. The doctor had already said they were narrow possibilities but the reality is that having sarcoma at all is a narrow possibility.

Because that thought was the boundary of where I wanted my mind to go, I kept repeating the words, “Lord, more than we can ask or imagine.”

When the doctor came in he was all smiles and handshakes. He was totally what I expected last time and didn’t get. He was what I thought was impossible. He answered the very few questions I had. He informed me that one of his current areas of study is radiation-induced sarcomas and I was glad. He said he would like to start spreading my scans out a bit in order to reduce my radiation exposure. I liked the idea of that from the standpoint of reducing exposure and practically. This week was super hard.

Then the best news came. I asked him if I could ever be considered “cured.” He said it was a poor word but if it was a word he might dare to use at all, he would maybe one day possibly use it in my case. He reinforced the gravity of my situation by telling me he gets to tell one, maybe two patients per year they don’t have to have chemo and I was that statistic for him this year.

I left feeling very positive and yes, relieved. I felt every part the survivor.

Some of you have asked if I’ve been declared “cancer-free.” I’ve been declared “no evidence of active disease” and I’ve been declared “no evidence of reoccurrence.” I’ve received the best report I can at this point. The doctor was extremely pleased and he left me feeling at ease.

My next scans will be beginning to mid-January.

As I’ve said before even the best news at MD Anderson leaves you emotionally drained. I am drained! Like I summed it up on Facebook, “tired and good.”

Your comments blessed the mess out of me and your prayers continue to carry us as they did through the hardest of days and longest of nights. I count it all joy to serve a mighty and loving God with you.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

   Glory to God in the church!
   Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
   Glory down all the generations!
   Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
Ephesians 3:20-21 The Msg


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Scans

Sweet friends,

My next set of 12-week scans are Monday with a doctor's appointment Tuesday. Please join me in praying God's healing continues. Pray for my sweet children and the "nervous energy" they are exhibiting. Pray for me physically as I endure gracefully all the barium cocktails, iodine iv's and whatever else comes with it.

Thank you in advance.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Look Who I Met


I had the funnest lunch with Missy and Beth.
I want to tell you funny, sweet and super hero stories about them but I'm just too tired today so you'll have to go meet them for yourself. I promise, it's worth the extra clicks!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Second Chances



One day long ago, God's Word came to Jonah, Amittai's son: "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer." (Jonah 1:1 The Msg)


A nineteen-year-old college girl sits in an auditorium with a bunch of teenagers listening. As the band plays and those around her get lost in worship, God speaks to her heart.





There is a place on that stage for you.


Years go by. The college girl is now a young mother. The mother gets lost in a sea of diapers, applesauce and Legos. What ifs dominate her thoughts threatening to steal her happiness on many occasions. She spends deep moments pondering her ability to hear God’s voice at all and wonders if she’s finally gone one decision too far on her own. Maybe she lives outside grace even though her heart fully belongs to God. There are promises God speaks of that don’t seem to be working themselves out in her life so she decides a life with God is devoid of dreams. She settles.


More years pass. The young mother begins to feel the sting of years. Desires long buried rise to the surface of her life. Her mind no longer steeled to once unwelcome thoughts, she now longs to learn from past experience. She once again finds herself in an auditorium, this time filled with women instead of teenagers. As the speaker invites those around her to believe, God speaks to her heart.


There is a place on that stage for you.


Unmistakable. The voice from so many years ago invites her to explore the private places in her heart. She wonders how she could have ever seen the invitation as an accusation of failure. She closes her eyes, opens her heart and whispers yes. At once the dark places fill with color. The dormant places fill with life. She sees grace at every turn, experiences hope around each corner.


Even though the details are unclear, she sees clearly. She dares to hold on to Jesus. The best is yet to come. God will make a way. She knows this now. 


I’ve been reading through Jonah this week in preparation for the study I begin today. My group starts Priscilla Shirer’s Jonah. I realize sometimes running from God isn’t as clear-cut as Jonah makes it seem.


“He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish—as far away from God as he could get.” Jonah 1:3 The Msg


Today’s encouragement from Jonah reminds me that just as God repeats Himself in grace for Jonah, that’s exactly what He does for me. Praise God for second chances!


Next, God spoke to Jonah a second time: "Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer." (Jonah 3:1-2)


Have you heard God's voice and quit believing anywhere in your life? Accept His second chance of grace today. Dare to hold on to Jesus; dare to never give up.  It's not too late!


"But where sin increased, grace increased all the more." (Romans 5:20 NIV)


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yvonne Ortega

For some major encouragement check out Yvonne's website and radio show. In preparing for my own interview, I listened to some of the archives and left so incredibly encouraged. I am honored to be counted among the ranks of these cancer survivors!


"Let me live that I may praise you." Psalm 119:175 or as The Message says, " Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well."



Come Join the Show!

This morning at 10:00 AM eastern time, that's 9:00 Texas time, I will be interviewedhere by Yvonne Ortega on blogtalk radio. Hope for the Journey is a talk show encouraging breast cancer survivors. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Prayer for You


Lately I’ve had a hard time hearing God’s voice. It’s been more difficult than usual to see Him in everyday life. I don’t know if it’s because I feel like I’m in the land of survival. Most days I’m so tired I move robotically through my day and instead of seeing in living color, I see in shades of black, white and gray.

This is frustrating to me. Last Monday I thought I would write this glorious post about how much energy I’d started having and I finally feel like “cancer” is behind me. And then Tuesday happened. Tuesday I could hardly get out of bed or go where I needed to go or do what I needed to do.

That’s how life after radiation is. Some days are great. Some days I actually feel like I did before my diagnosis. Most days I operate in a state of terrible brain fog, exhaustion and fatigue. My doctor is hopeful that this will decrease and in a few more months I will have my old energy and focus back. Others living life after cancer say it is a continual challenge.

I can’t really explain how I feel except to say it’s like I just climbed out of bed. All day long.

What I don’t want is for this to be an excuse to not get the things done that God has called me to do. I feel very strongly that He has given me just a couple of assignments here lately.  I want to get started I just need extra strength, energy and a big, fat push from God! Do you ever feel that way?

Today I read how Jesus prayed before His death and resurrection. He reminds God the Father how He had glorified Him on earth by completing His own assignments down to the last detail. As I read that, my heart cried out for strength to be able to complete down the last detail all God has called me to here on this earth.

Listen to what He prayed over me. And you.
“Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life… I’m saying these things… so my people can experience my joy completed in them… They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world…In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world…I want [them] to be with me… so they can see my glory the splendor you gave me… I have made your very being known to them—who you are and what you do—and continue to make it known to them.”

This is just a sample of the prayer found in John 17 from The Message. I love that He’s given me a mission and that He is continuing to reveal God’s character to me. That is encouragement that I need today. I am asking God for a special revelation of Him today since Jesus says He is doing it!

Won’t you join me on our mission? God, please give fresh revelations of who You are  and what You are doing today. Give us eyes and ears like Jesus’ as He walked on earth that we would see You and hear You and join You. Amen

Then come share your experience with me.

PS Don't forget about tomorrow morning's blogtalk radio show. See the post below for details.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Blog Talk and You

Happy Monday ya'll!

I don't have long here today as we have a school holiday but I do need your help with something.

Wednesday morning at 10:00 AM eastern time I will be interviewed here by Yvonne Ortega on blogtalk radio. Hope for the Journey is a talk show encouraging breast cancer survivors.

Here's where you help. If you could ask me any question what would you want to know? What questions would you ask?

What do inquiring minds want to know? And if you are navigating the murky waters of cancer, what part of my journey has helped you the most?

I also treasure your prayers as I open my mouth. My deepest prayer is that I wouldn't waste what I've been given and I pray that I can communicate with excellence the message our holy, worthy and perfect Jesus has laid on my heart.

I look forward to your comments and answering your questions on Wednesday!

And PS I did organize my closet by season/color because my friend Emily inspired me. Picture coming.


Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Thoughts

First of all, I know you are all creative types because there was not one single comment on how I should have sorted my clothes by color. haha I would love to do that but it seems a bit overwhelming this week. As does my pantry.

This was the day that hearing the alarm clock ring each day at 4:52 caught up with me. I made a snap decision to stay in bed because my husband was awake and I wanted to talk to him. Where it was warm. Just a few seconds later I got a text from my friend saying she was staying warm this morning too. So it all worked out well.

For a bit. You see, I kept my nightgown on under my sweatsuit this morning. Anybody else ever done that? So that when the house got quiet again I could take a nice, comfy nap. Well, as soon as the house got quiet Palmer got up for the day. I tried to take a cat nap but my layers of clothing were too uncomfortable. Maybe leaving the gown on wasn't such a good idea.

Palmer wasn't really about Mommy napping so he decided to take pictures of me with my cell phone which resulted in a phone call. (Hi Charlotte!) So we watched a little Dinosaur Train and in a jiff I was up making peanut  butter and jelly dinosaur shaped sandwiches.

I resorted to drinking coffee this morning and I'm wondering if the decaf will trick my  brain into functioning. Any thoughts?

I hope so because it's homecoming here in Montgomery and we have small town Texas football at its finest. My girls are wearing mums today and my boy a garter. I'm off to the local Walmart to find some spirited apparel so we can cheer our pants off tonight. We start tailgating at 4:30 so we can get a parking spot up the road. My kids are insanely excited and I'm looking more than a little forward to enhancing their tailgating experience. I'm thinking cupcakes and Neil Diamond should do the trick. Can can I get a Texas-sized Amen?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Closet Randomness

Here are the closet pics you've all been waiting for...
Before:


After:

I didn't even have to buy anything. I just got rid of three trashbags of clothes I don't wear anymore and suddenly everything fit. The donation truck came Friday and I was so thankful they took the stuff away and gave it to those who need it!

Here are some better slumber party pics just because the girls are so cute and had so much fun.



 And, finally my huge, only-place-to-store-a-variety-of-stuff pantry. I know the basics: group like items and label shelves. But does anyone else have a gigantic pantry and how do you organize it? I'm pretty visual so if you have glorious pantries, please share and leave a link in the comments. I'm pretty lost in the kitchen anyway so this is completely overwhelming to me. I can't find anything when I go to cook and things are constantly getting shuffled from shelf to shelf. I need a workable system and maybe a friend to help me. At least it's always more fun that way!!


Can't seem to get my pics in order but help me celebrate with great ideas!!






 Sisters!!


I can't wait to hear your pantry ideas!!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

When Meltdowns Meet Messages


As my son lie on the ground, in the middle of the parking lot, screaming about how he doesn’t like school (he loves school) and he’s not going (he counts the hours until school), I silently took a deep breath. I started counting as I exhaled so I wouldn’t lose it.  Crazy Mom Snaps at Preschool isn’t the headline I’m for which I’m aiming.

I calmly walk over to him, pick up his flailing body, sling him over my shoulders like a sack of potatoes and deposit him in his classroom. Once there I gently close the door behind me trying not to smash his little foot wedging the door open. I smile over my shoulder and sing, “Have a nice day.”

My meeting has already started and I know I will be arriving about half an hour late. ***sigh*** In light of the giant preschool meltdown, I wonder to myself why I even agreed to lead the small group. I know for me to arrive on time my morning will have to run like a well-oiled machine. My squeaky life always needs a good shot of WD 40!

As I climb back into my car, a thought hits me. Maybe my son’s sudden disdain toward an activity he loves is an onslaught of spiritual attack. I’m not one to see demons all around but this is just unexplainable. Then I remember a few nights earlier. A horribly embarrassing situation on a conference call where I thought I was on mute. For many minutes ***sigh*** thoroughly humiliating me and reinforcing the fact that I am in no position to “take on ministry” with my already full-of-mothering schedule.

Do you ever feel this way?

The Message says this, “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Ephesians 6 tells us to stand strong against the devil’s schemes. Some would argue that a screaming 4-year-old is a normal occurrence and not a spiritual attack. Others would say a loud distraction on a conference call is only an annoying oversight. I would say that any attempt to squelch a woman’s desire to share her life with other women is an attack. Sharing life is exactly how to live victoriously over the evil one.

“They overcame him
      by the blood of the Lamb
      and by the word of their testimony” Revelation 12:11 NIV (emphasis added)

I will post pictures as soon as I locate a camera chord. ***smiles***


Monday, October 04, 2010

Weekends

There are just some weekends you don't want to forget.

This was one.

Julia had a slumber party for her eleventh birthday! The girls dressed in 80's gear and headed to a party and concert at our church. They had a blast. We had such a good time. She has made such great friends here in such a short time. My BFF Ashley came to help and we just had a really good girls' weekend.


Andrew took the boys on a fishing trip. Just look at those faces! We ate their yummy catch for dinner last  night. Our dinner table conversation was about how little Palmer got seasick. (Boo!) His version of the tale was quite entertaining.


It was fun but I'm super glad to have my chicks all back together.

****************
My closet is straightened up and all I need to do is organize my jewelry a little better. So much progress in so little time.

I worked on my desk by setting up all my bills for our new address online. So much easier to pay bills! I'll work on the filing this week.

And then I think I'll have to tackle the pantry. UGH! I may even have to invest in a label maker to get all officially organized and everything.

I'll post pictures tomorrow. You can praise my closet efforts and give me your best pantry-organizing tips.

Happy week y'all!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Falling Down


I’m admitting total defeat in certain areas of my life. I’m also boldly announcing that with a strategy involving others these same areas can become my largest victories.

You see, I stink at life without accountability. I need others to step on my toes when I get out of line.

I can skillfully master some things that other friends can’t. I don’t drink too much at social gatherings, I don’t have a problem keeping my house clean, I don’t even have a problem spending time in God’s Word regularly. But I do wish I would get up earlier in the morning, get my workout done first thing and make healthy eating choices. I wish I would organize my closet and pantry and I wish I would unpack the last three boxes from my move. I wish I would memorize more Scripture and I wish I would take the first steps publication.

I wish.

I meet a neighbor at 5:00 each morning to walk because when she mentioned she walked each morning, I asked if I could come. We walk a mile together and then I run a two or three more. I’m home by 6:00 and have my quiet time. My children are aroused on time each day and our morning rushing has ceased quite a bit.

But when she doesn’t walk, I don’t get up early. Without her I am a complete undisciplined mess in this area.

I need that accountability. I need her waiting for me in the early morning shadows to get out of bed.

The same thing goes with healthy eating. When I’m writing down what I eat for someone to see, I make good choices, I watch my portion sizes and I experience victory. When nobody else is paying any attention, I relax a little too much.

I have spent years beating myself up for my lack of discipline in certain areas. Today I’m admitting that I may never have enough discipline to be a lone ranger Christian. But I do have enough wisdom to ask others to help me where I’m weak. I do love my Jesus enough to humble myself and ask forgiveness when I fail. And I do love the benefits of having deep and meaningful relationships when I make myself vulnerable by sharing my faults with others.

What is your struggle and where do you need accountability? Who can you ask to help you?

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT