Monday, January 31, 2011

Dry Feet

I'm Backpacking Through Joshua with Amber and friends.

Growing up in Bible church, I learned that the Ark of the Covenant symbolizes God’s presence.  

"In the most holy place, the ark of the covenant is the symbol and vehicle of the presence of the revelation of Jehovah among his people. ..."
Theology of the Old Testament, Gustav Friedrich Oehler, George Edward Day (1883)

When reading the Old Testament we can interchange the two terms and reach some form of understanding. My elementary-mind still approaches God’s Word this way and utilizes the many tricks tools from 4th grade Sunday school.

When I sat down to cross the Jordan with Joshua and his buddies, this is what I read:
“When you see the [presence of God]…you are to…follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”
Joshua 3:3b & 4a

That’s exactly where I feel like God is taking me right now. On a journey to a place I’ve never been before. That’s the best way I can describe it. Sometimes I get anxious because I’m not sure how to pack for an unknown place. I’m not even sure where to start. Walking, not packing.

This week God reminded me I do know which direction to go.

In college I had another great Bible teacher. He taught me to live by the John 5:19 creed:
What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing.  John 5:19b The Message

God’s presence leads me to God’s activity. In short, I go where God is. And then I join Him in what He’s doing.

How do I see the presence of God?

I sense His leading. Sometimes I just know I am supposed to do something. Like on Wednesday when I called my mom. I don’t usually call her at 3:30 in the afternoon. Afternoons are a busy time for both of us. I contemplated calling. I prayed quickly and decided to dial and talk for only a second. I reasoned I would want my daughter to call for a second. I dialed. She was in the ER with my brother. He was very sick. He was being admitted to ICU. God wanted me praying. He orchestrated my call.

What about days when His leading isn’t clear?

It isn’t always so simple. Lots of days I just do stuff, mostly because I have to. Every once in a while I actually pause to ask God to order my steps. Then I remember that if I can see God moving, I can just follow. Then I’ll be right where He is.

I agree some days it’s harder than others to recognize His presence. But with practice, we can all become better at following His lead. Just like the Israelites, we better be ready when we see His presence moving. If I close my eyes, I can hear Joshua, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:5 NLT)

And there they stood; those priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant stood firmly planted on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. Finally the whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot.
Joshua 3:17 The Message

I'd say crossing a flooded river with dry feet was a pretty great wonder. I can't wait to see what He's got for us!

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.
John 5:19-20

**Announcements because I haven't spent enough time on my blog lately**
If you haven't entered my one-year-No-Cancer celebratory giveaway, you have one more chance. I'll announce a winner tomorrow.

My She Speaks friend Mary is on the free Made to Crave webcast tonight at 8 EST. She is a hoot and you won't want to miss her!

Another She Speaks sister, Sharon, will be on the docudrama Heavy tonight on A&E at 10/9 central. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Crossing the Ocean

(I'm Backpacking Through Joshua with Amber and friends.)

I haven't had a chance to cross the Jordan with Amber and friends just yet. But I have remained knee deep in navigating an ocean of laundry.

Last week was incredibly crazy and even though I didn't even turn my computer on, I thought of you. Lots. If you are a regular here, I hope you'll be friends with me on Facebook. When life gets a little crazy, I can keep Facebook updated brilliantly. Sometimes.

Like a few days ago when my 36-year-old little brother was admitted to ICU for a severe case of pneumonia. He is finally out of ICU and in a regular room but still has a long road ahead of him. He has a wife and four children who need our prayers.

This week is looking even crazier around here. I hope to get my Joshua post up soon. Very soon and get back on the trail this week.

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pleasant Places

My phone tweeted a celebratory Facebook status upon leaving the doctor's office, "It's officially a No Cancer Day!" The last two days have been completely exhausting. And overwhelming. And amazing.

I really am pinching myself to see if this is really my life. Me? Really? Cancer? No cancer? It's still hard to fathom even after a year.

My prayer reamins, "God, don't let me waste it."

I just made this my Facebook status and I pray it over of you who call out my name to HIS name, HIS face, HIS throne:

Tonight I'm praying for ALL who have prayed on behalf of my healing. I pray God shows up and mightily answers ALL your prayers as He did the ones you prayed for me. And join me in a big Amen!

I love to tell people my story because not only do I get to brag about my God, I get to brag about His people. You guys are simply divine. Each one of your comments is a treasure to me. Thank you for still hanging around a year later to encourage me and hold me up when I get tired and every three months when my nerves threaten to collapse. This blog is truly one of my pleasant places in life. 

God has used this path in life to unite us, to gather an army, and for that I'll be forever grateful. Let's continue to wage war together. Please leave your amens and your requests here and pray for the comment ahead of you. Pray for the comments instead of just reading them. It is my honor to lift each one high to a Mighty God who has allowed our paths to cross. May we not waste this opportunity.

And all my bloggy friends said a big and loud AMEN!

LORD, you alone are [our] portion and [our] cup;
   you make [our] lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for [us] in pleasant places;
   surely [we] have a delightful inheritance.

Psalm 16:5-6

It's Cancer Day

One year ago today I waited with phone in hand I wished to hear my nurse’s voice telling me everything was fine, because the nurse always gets to phone with the good news.

Instead somewhere around dinnertime, my doctor called. “I’m sorry,” he said, “It’s cancer.” He proceeded to explain it was rare, aggressive and answers eluded him.

That was the first day of a month that felt more like a year and a year that has felt more like a lifetime. And here, safely on the shore of the other side, I can’t believe it’s only been a year.

But it has. It’s been a year of the greatest of joys and the deepest of heartaches. It’s been a year of struggle and victory. I’ve experienced a gamut of emotions and seen God’s healing, redemption and miracles up close and personal. Last year I only hoped I’d experience Him in this way this side of heaven.

Isn’t it so gracious of God to give me an appointment with my oncologist on today? January 25. It’s Cancer Day. I find myself believing He is taking another shot at His endless redemption in my life.

I’m hopeful It’s Cancer Day will turn into It’s NOT Cancer Day today.

The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
      to the [cancer] swarming locusts…
you will praise the Lord your God,
   who does these miracles for you.”
From Joel 2:25-26 NLT

Monday, January 24, 2011

Scan Day, Giveaway and Made to Crave Winner

Today I'll be at MD Anderson (My first test is at 9:05 this morning and my last at 6:00 tonight with many more in between.) I see the doctor tomorrow and as usual, I'll keep you posted. I'm leaning heavily on your prayers because y'all are the best!

One year ago (tomorrow) I got the news I had cancer. What a crummy phone call. What crummy news. What a crazy year!

One of the blessings that this dumb diagnosis brought about was connecting with many new and old friends. Ashley and I went to high school together briefly. She was moving away when I was just settling in but cancer has a way of connecting people permanently who were just slightly, if at all, connected before.

Ashley has been a steadfast advocate for me and we have developed a close friendship.

Ashley makes the most amazing jewelry.

Ashley made this necklace to honor my surviving. To celebrate one year post cancer, she is giving one away to one of you.

All you have to do in order to be entered to win is one of the following. To have multiple chances to win, do more.

1. Leave me a sweet comment of encouragement so I can read it while I sit and wait at the cancer center. :)

2. Go to Ashley's etsy store. Come back here and leave a comment telling which of her pieces is your favorite.

3. Follow Ashley's blog. Come back here and comment that you did.

4. Like Ashley's facebook page. Come back here and comment that you did.

5. Tweet about this giveaway with a link here. Come back here and comment that you did.

6. Leave a comment on Ashley's blog. Tell her what you love or just thank her for helping us celebrate today. Come back here and comment that you did.

7. Post about this giveaway with a link back here on your facebook status. Come back here and comment that you did.

8. Follow Ashley on Twitter. Come back here and comment that you did.

9. Follow Glad Chatter. Just click the follow button to your right. Come back here and comment that you did.

10. Friend me on Facebook. Click my Facebook button to your right. Come back here and comment that you did.

11. Follow me on Twitter. Come back here and comment that you did.

I know this is a lot of work just for a chance to win but I figure if I can keep you busy enough, you'll just pray as you click. :) Thank you for playing and praying and I'll announce a winner next Monday. I will, of course, let you know what the good doctor says tomorrow evening after my appointment.

The winner of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst is Updating my Status. :) If you didn't win but you'd like to order your own book just click here. And don't forget about the free webcast tonight. Click here for more information.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Come on Bloggy Friends

A few days ago I "met" Joanne and she needs our prayers. Joanne is a mom just like me. On January 11 she got up, wrote something witty on her blog, jumped on her treadmill and had a stroke. Right now she's in the hospital with massive brain swelling and she's been in a medically induced coma but they are in the process of waking her up to determine her brain function. Please skip comments here and jump over to Joanne's place and let her family know you are praying and to see practical ways you can help.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Risky Faith

I'm Backpacking Through Joshua this week with Amber and campers.

“How do you spell faith? R-I-S-K.”—Steve Meeks, Pastor Calvary Community Church, Houston, Texas

Imagine the scene. Two Israelite men saunter into town. They nonchalantly avoid eye contact while acting as un-spy-like as foreigners can.

Doors slam, curtains draw and businesses close. The God men are sneaking around prying into this particular town’s business.

Fear, hopelessness and panic settle as people vaporize from the streets. The rumors must be true. Calamity awaits cities that worship other gods. The townspeople afraid of certain destruction hide behind locked doors.

God’s men sneak questioning glances at one another. How will they find Joshua’s information if no one will talk to them? God, where do we go, what do we do? They pray.

Suddenly one man steals a sly peek at the other. “We could get information there,” he whispers. His partner gawks at the prostitute’s house.

It is open. Welcoming almost.

God, surely not, they keep praying. Their minds buzzing they walk toward the only open door.

Rahab is bold and risky. She has nothing to lose. Scorned by women and used by men, she reasons maybe she could get these God men to owe her a favor, if you know what I mean. She does the only thing she knows to do. She leaves her door open.  Although her hopeless life hangs in the balance, she’s curious about this one God who can save her soul from impending death.

There the men sit down with Rahab and their suspicions are confirmed. The town is paralyzed with fear of God’s people. Rahab does more than talk of the people’s fear. She continues to risk her life by lying to the king of Jericho, hiding the spies and helping them escape.

All she hopes for in return is her life.

But God.

God not only spares the lives of her entire family but He abundantly blesses Rahab with not only a spot in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11:31) but Rahab is one of the only five women mentioned in the lineage of Christ. (Matthew 1)

From risky faith salvation for a hopeless world is born.

The door is open. Will you cross the threshold?

“Look! I have been standing at the door and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. I will let every one who conquers sit beside me on my throne…” Revelation 3:20 TLB

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Anniversary

One year ago today, I was here. Waiting.

One year ago today, I was wondering.

One year ago today, I was trying not to worry.

One year ago today, I was very preoccupied.

This is the anniversary of the day I began a wrestling match with God’s goodness and His sovereignty. No matter what the coming days held, did I believe He is who He says He is? The line was being drawn and I either would or I wouldn’t.


It would become my word for last year.

I became well acquainted with fear. I learned to look it in the eyes. I also learned that fear the noun and fear the verb are two completely different monsters. I now know that living in the presence of fear is not being afraid. I learned to hold up the shield of faith to ward off the attacks that fear brings.

For Christmas one of my friends sent me a necklace with this verse inscribed on it: “Take delight in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4

I’ve found that I can fight fear with this verse. The deepest desire of my heart is this: “One thing I ask from the LORD,
   this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
   all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
   and to seek him in his temple.”
Psalm 27:4

The very thing I’ve wrestled fear over, my life, is something fear or even death can never take from me.

As far as the details, I’m not a super saint, I tell the Lord over and over that I want to see my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren grown and serving Him wholeheartedly before I leave this earth. When fear threatens that, I simply tell God again and again and then I quote Psalm 37:4 again.

I’ve been wearing my necklace every day this week. Just knowing this whole week is a crazy type of anniversary, the cancer anniversary, makes my insides all twirly. My throbbing head wants to ignore the whole ordeal but the date on the calendar demands I remember.

Really I think my faith demands it. I’m taking a moment today to sing God praises for bringing me safely to the other side of one of the biggest fears a girl could ever face. Cancer. I’m thanking God that in the face of disaster He is who He says He is. He is good.

I’m also taking a moment today to thank you for being the type of bloggy friends who helped to pull me through. You are the best!

Thankful the anniversary of cancer is a happy one!

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11

To win a copy of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, click here and leave a comment. Winner to be announced on Monday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

300 Calories

When I reached into the back corner of my closet and opened the crumbled, brown paper bag containing my secrets, I could only hope you would respond with compassion and encouragement. Your comments have blown me away and something so amazing happened in the process. The shame surrounding this part of my story, the eating part, evaporated. It just vanished.

Struggling with an eating disorder and chronic dieting is now just something I did in an effort to win approval and acceptance. I lived this way to win God's love. I am now free to live in a more healthy and balanced way because I now know I am loved.

Kathrine Lee made this profound statement on the Made to Crave webcast last week. She said she lost weight before so she could be loved but this time around she's losing the weight because she is loved. Beautiful.

Let's park our minds on that thought. We are loved.

Last night on the webcast Pastor Steven Furtick said breakthrough begins with desire.

This is where we are staying today. We are loved and breakthrough is possible when desire for Jesus burns in our hearts.

One key to feeling great and making healthy eating habits is recognizing a good portion size and becoming familiar with caloric content of food. I have other hints and things I've learned that I want to dish about later. Today, let's talk about 300 calories. I eat 300 calories four times a day before I eat dinner. I just got this in my inbox this morning from Spark People. It's a great article on portion sizes and shows pictures of what 300 calories looks like. Part of being successful is being educated.

You can still win a copy of Made to Crave by leaving a comment here or here. If you missed last night's free webcast, you can watch it again today. Check here for times.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
   “I have loved you with an everlasting love;
   I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

Monday, January 17, 2011

Salad Week & a Made to Crave Giveaway

I’ll just eat salad this week and see what happens, I mused as I stressed about the coming high school tryouts. At the end of the week, my clothes slid on with ease and my confidence soared in response.

Even though I was the only one who noticed the difference in my body after salad week, it changed things. For one brief second, the voices that constantly assaulted me were silenced. The voices couldn’t argue. The girl they called fat, lazy, ugly and second-rate scum had just accomplished something difficult. I could control my weight. I stashed that information for future reference.

As the freshman fifteen crept on, I remembered how it good it felt to get dressed after eating salad for just one week. I resurrected salad week and joined a gym. This was my key to feeling confident, beautiful, and accepted.

After a few weeks of steady exercise and limited caloric intake, I was losing weight. My confidence began to rise. People were paying attention to me.

Just a few months later I saw close friends. Just one comment from one person gave me the validation I so desperately sought. “Looks like you’ve finally grown up, Lisa.”

I was hooked.

It wasn’t long before I had cut my calories to just 750 a day and increased my time at the gym. I starved myself for months. Comments on my thinness made me feel successful. For once in my life, I was doing something well. The price was high but it was so worth it.

And then I fumbled—by eating. And once I started, I couldn’t stop. After I ate that first dinner, ironically, it was salad, I purged. It was hard but I felt I had no choice. It started a vicious cycle that lasted for years. I would restrict all week and allow myself a meal on Friday night. Often times I would be so hungry I would devour a whole pizza followed by dessert. I would spend the weekend purging and then start restricting again on Monday.

I lived this way for several years. I needed to be noticed as beautiful. And thin. I was desperate to be noticed. I was a Jesus girl. I loved Jesus. I just wasn’t really sure He loved me.

Fast forward fifteen plus years.

I am a forty-year-old mother of four. I weigh 136 pounds. I watch what I eat, exercise and  no longer binge and purge.

Thing is, after all these years, I still have the same struggles. I equate thin with beautiful. I measure my worth by the number on the scale and the way I talk to myself would make my mama cringe.

As I sit holding Lysa TerKeurst’s book silent tears slip down my cheeks. I want to stop feeling like a failure. I want to stop beating myself up for liking sugar cookies and I want to think about God more than I think about food. Lysa promises her book can help.

And she delivers. This power-packed message is really just the story of a Jesus girl who wants to lose some weight and in the process gains so much more. Truths from this book changed my life immediately. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore these truths and celebrate the changes.

I am currently reading Made to Crave again. I join Lysa on Monday nights at 8/7:00 CST for her FREE Made to Crave webcasts. Go here for more information.

Proverbs 31 Ministries graciously gave me two copies of this book. One to keep and and one to give away. Because I had already purchased one, I was able to give one to a friend already. Thank you, Proverbs 31! To enter to win a copy of Made to Crave, simply leave a comment. Or if you’d like to buy your own, go here. One winner will be randomly selected and announced next Monday, January 24. Please make sure to leave your email address if your comment doesn’t link to it.

Remember: “We were made to consume food but, food was never made to consume us.” –Lysa TerKeurst in Made to Crave

**Important: If you are viewing this in Facebook, you must comment on my actual blog to be eligible. 

I'm linking up to Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria sisterhood today.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On the Verge

This post is the first in a series of posts from the Bible study Backpacking Through Joshua. I am camping with Amber and friends. God is doing something big!

Have you ever stood on the verge of something big? Have you ever felt you were created to do something  beyond yourself? Sometimes I feel this way about my faith. I believe God has called us to live an adventure. 

I serve a big God. A big God who calls me to do bigger things than I could ever do without Him.

Here I am, Lord, send me, I pray. To be useful, an instrument of His glory, that is my promised place. The destination I seek. The air full of anticipation, I wait. Excitement runs through my veins because it won’t be long now.

I imagine this just how Joshua felt in chapter one. He is literally on the verge of taking Canaan. Forty years have passed since God showed him his destiny and now, in just three days, he will begin the real battle. As I read of how God leads him to the edge of the promised land and then tell him to wait just three more days, I shake my head.

Rest. You will need it, God says.

I giggle as I imagine Joshua those three nights, eyes wide open as he stares into the starry night wondering just what lies beyond camp. Beyond the next three days.

Some nights are like that for me too. I wonder what lies beyond this wilderness where God proves Himself so faithful. What lies beyond cancer, beyond the Daniel adventure of last year? Although I don’t know, I shake with adrenaline-filled hope. Because He shows how life with Him is an exciting undertaking. Sure there are the three-day periods in which He lets us rest and there is the forty-year wilderness in which He prepares us to fight but there are also the risky battles He fights for us.

Did you get that? He fights for us. I find it ironic that the main way God tells Joshua to prepare for the battle to take the land God has promised him is to rest. Just when Joshua might feel things are moving in a positive direction, God tells him to wait just a tad more.

Maybe God took these extra days to remind Joshua of the battle in Exodus 17. The one where a young, strong and vivacious Joshua goes out to fight and Moses stays on the top of a mountain to pray. Two men stay with Moses to hold up his arms when he gets tired. As long as his arms are raised, Israel is winning the battle.

After the Israelites defeat the Amalakites, God tells Moses to write it all down so Joshua will remember. God wants Joshua to never forget His war strategy: Rest.

So I stand here. On the verge of my own promised land. Trying to make this common spot a sacred place and it is here in this wilderness His promises come alive in my soul. I feel His presence. I sense His breath. And I rest.

Get ready. Prepare to take the land. Gather your provisions. Listen to My voice. Obey my commands. Remember your purpose.

God speaks to Joshua. God speaks to me.

Rest. You need your rest for the coming battle. You need My rest for the coming battle.

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Exodus 14:14

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Purging Unhealthy Habits

Defeated, my head in my hands, I sit on my bed and cry. For the first time in over fifteen years I contemplate walking into the bathroom to purge.

I am the thin girl with food issues. In my twenties I realize the horrible cycle of restriction leading to binging and purging separates me not only from people but from God. I cry out to Him to help me and He gives me the strength to stop. No more laxatives, no more late night workouts because I slipped and ate half a pizza, no more crazy diet pills I ordered off of late night TV.

With my change in behavior, I expect miraculous victory. My body is spared but my mind remains victim. Every day for as long as I can remember my mind accuses me.

You’re so fat.
You’re so ugly.
You’re lazy and you can’t do anything right.
What a loser!
You have to work twice as hard as everyone else to succeed.

Here is the problem. The only difference in my life over the last fifteen years is how I’ve dealt with the internal stress my body image causes. Practicing self-discipline, small portion sizes, eliminating chocolate and caffeine and routine exercise help me keep the stress at bay.

Trouble is some things are out of my control. Suddenly last year a cancer diagnosis steals my health. Even if I want to go for a run, I can’t with doctors’ appointments, insurance battles and insomnia. As long as my appetite is diminished, I can deal with it. Then I begin treatment. I drive the hour plus drive to the hospital both ways, lots of days with my four-year-old. When I come home, I am exhausted. He is not. My older children need me. Laundry needs me. Homework needs me. Boxes still packed from our recent move need me. Emails, phone calls, well-wishers and my blog need me. My skin is raw. I’m too tired to go to the grocery store or cook. My husband brings home fast food. Every night for six weeks, we eat junk and the fact that I have cancer isn’t enough to make me stop, do more, exercise, change things immediately.

Feeling lethargic, lazy, sick and overwhelmed, I just want to throw up. That would make me feel better, I reason.

In that dark moment, God speaks. This is not a food issue, Lisa. This is a control issue. You don’t trust me.

All these years I have battled the wrong monster. My food issues are only the manifestation of a heart issue. I don’t believe who God says I am and what He says about me. The desire to purge is an external attempt to solve an internal problem.

And all the healthy habits I’ve worked so hard to master only mask the real problem.

Even a healthy lifestyle fails to nourish the soul.

As I am wrestling with these heart issues, Lysa TerKeurst invites me to be a part of her newest Bible study Made to Crave. I feel an intense pull to say yes even though I don’t need to lose weight.  And saying yes turns into a life changing decision.

Do you need hope for change too? Come back Monday for more encouragement and a special giveaway.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Precious Blessings

I had this message ruminating in my soul today, I mean all ready to go straight from my heart to my screen. Then I paused to read Sandy's words. You should too. I'll be back to share real soon. Today I'm reminding myself what's precious as I count my blessings.

The man I love.

Pretty Julia and my sweet nephew!
My boy has worked hard and been very patient to grow that hair!


Sweet Alyssa--Our Animal Angel

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
   He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
   he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11

Monday, January 10, 2011

Livin' on a Prayer

My husband brings me a cute little pink 13.1 magnet signifying to the world, or at least those I pass in my car, that I am a half marathon runner.

Beaming as he holds the pink car magnet, he intends to thrill me. His thoughtful generosity meets my blank stare with a sarcastic sigh.

Why should I be proud of running a half marathon, I ask aloud. Completing a half marathon is bittersweet as I had planned to run a full marathon this year until cancer interrupted my training.

My husband launches into the stats: Based on the fact that 1% of the population has run a marathon and twice as many running the half on our race day, maybe 2% of the population has completed a half marathon. I should be proud to be among 2% of the population. The pep talk bandages my wound as I savor the pre-race moment; we both know I’ll finish.

His report stirs something deep in my soul. No matter how much I accomplish, it is never enough. The thought twirls through my mind as I bee bop the first mile of the race, Bon Jovi crooning in my head. Whooah we’re halfway there…

Never satisfied with my own accomplishments, I always expect more even when at mile three I think I might freeze to death. The thought permeates my sweat-soaked head at mile six when I’m not sure I even want to finish and as my wind-stiffened knees walk toward my finisher’s medal the thought is still there.

Behind the hype of finishing, I wonder why it isn’t enough.

This revelation shapes my current goals and causes me to lighten up on myself and release grandiose ideals.  Writing for at least an hour a day, completing one organizing project each week or doing anything outside the scope of mothering on any given day even though most of my children are in school are lofty resolutions of the past. Today I mother my children, care for my family and take care of my recovering body as I spend time with my Jesus. Writing, cleaning, training for a marathon are all bonuses. As freeing as the truth can be, it also hurts.

Running a half marathon is hard. I rail at the thought. Being my own harshest critic, I want to not only run a full marathon, I want it to be easy and I want to enjoy it. This thought that the half is not enough and it is so difficult dashes my hope. Hard truth slams into my soul.

Running a marathon is hard.

Recovering from cancer is harder. I want to wake up the day after treatment and start life right where it paused. Since this time last year, trying to get everything back to normal is my goal.  Yet one reality stares me in the face—things are anything but normal.

My goal morphs into creating a new normal. This normal includes a mom who is weary and forgetful, a more relaxed house and some really early bedtimes.

As my car sports my new magnet, I realize something big. I need to lighten up, have realistic expectations, be happy with baby steps and celebrate every mile marker even if I need to rest at one a bit.

A fellow cancer survivor encourages me to give myself an entire year before I expect to feel normal again. This advice inspires me to walk slowly instead of racing toward the future. Now when I think of that half marathon, I get excited because it means I’m half way there. I hear God singing,  Woooah we’re half way there livin’ on a prayer. Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear—livin’ on a prayer.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Sweet Nothings

A young college boy pursues a fellow classmate. She is a Jesus girl looking for her way.

He develops a schoolboy crush wearing his feelings on his sleeve. The Jesus girl loves the attention but his declarations frighten her. The intensity she sees in his eyes confuses her. Although she really likes the young man, he scares her. She knows that if he were to get to really know her, the light in his eyes would fade and his words of affirmation would stop. His words are but sweet nothings to her.

She doesn’t believe his sweet words.

This doesn’t stop him.

He brings her gifts, flowers and cards. He buys her favorite coffee during late night studying, her favorite diet cherry limeades when she sits on the lifeguard stand and her favorite frozen yogurt on warm summer nights. Sometimes she enjoys the treats. Sometimes the generosity makes her feel guilty. He still doesn’t know the real her. If he did, he would surely stop giving.

Guilt threatens to consume her and she retreats.

This still doesn’t stop him.

Each time she’s ready to try again, he is there. Waiting. When they graduate, he spends his entire college gift fund on a dream date. Just for her. A gesture she greatly appreciates. If only for a weekend, she feels special, beautiful and desired.

The pressures of a job and trying to succeed overwhelm her. She does not have the strength to keep up the fa├žade all day long and on evenings and weekends. She stops talking to the young man.

She hibernates.

He waits.

The now twenty-something Jesus girl is finally ready. She has experienced just enough Hope to believe that maybe someone could love her like this. Maybe He loves her like this.

She begins to reach out to her twenty-something friend. He is there. Still. Reaching back. She dares to believe some of his sweet nothings, hesitantly but hopefully.

They marry. It’s hard. The Jesus girl sees flaws in her husband-hero. Engulfed by the truth, he can’t save her; she dives into depression. Her husband waits. He loves her and continually speaks the sweet nothings. She listens for many years. Surely he will stop; this is the real her.

She turns to her Heavenly-Hero. She hears His sweet nothings whispered to her heart. She begins to see her man’s sweet nothings as a beautiful picture of Jesus’ love and his extravagance as a beautiful expression of His grace.

Yesterday the forty-year-old father surprised the weary mother with plans for a romantic getaway. As he whispered sweet nothings to her in a noisy lunch booth, the words brought life. She left the restaurant swiping silent tears. The sweet nothings no longer bring her fear. The extravagant gifts no longer bring her guilt.

And that’s a very sweet something.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


I think a list of goals is a little, well, booor-ing. But in an effort to achieve brevity and stick with the program, I’m listing my goals. Remember, I’m taking Melanie’s advice and making goals for the First Quarter right now.

I’m also being held accountable by Sandy to get ‘er done, the list that is and probably the goals too because she’s just a good friend like that. The interesting thing is I met Sandy a few years, two, three?, back right around this time. We had the exact same annual theme. It started this running joke. We were separate at birth. About once a week, one of us says in comment form, “I could’ve written this.” Which had led me to believe we weren’t just sisters or twins but possibly Siamese twins sharing the same brain—I think she got the smarter half at separation. (smiles)

Because it’s almost always like this, I was tempted, very tempted, to cut and paste a few of her goals here. But because I want to call myself a writer when I grow up, I’m attempting to put it all in my own words and of course, reserving the right to expand at a later date.

First Quarter 2011 Goals

Word Goals
1.     Words to think: The way I talk to myself is ugly. Y’all, it’s downright mortifying. I can’t even write it here because of the fact this is a Christian blog and all. But I will listen to myself talk to myself and I will replace any lies with the Truth of God. I will learn God’s words regarding myself, I will love them and I will live them. I will speak to myself in positive, truthful and realistic language.

2.     Words to speak: I hope and pray my words to others are seasoned with heartfelt love and grace. But when I’m staring at the filthiness of my heart language to myself, I can’t help but wonder if it’s spilling out all over those I love. If you asked them what spills out of my mouth on them, they might say love and encouragement some days but I’m willing to bet on other days they’d remain silent. This means when my children and husband speak to me, I will make them feel important by stopping what I’m doing, if only briefly, making eye contact with them and really listening to what they say.

3.     Words to hear: I will hear others’ words while believing the best about them, every time. I will hear them out before jumping to conclusions or making judgments. I will offer grace and love continually.

4.     Words to write: Here is where I am taking pressure off myself. I would love to say that I will write the introduction and one chapter on a book proposal. Realistically, I know I am not getting the writing time I’d like each day. So, I’m taking that pressure off myself.
a.     I will write three to four blog posts per week.
b.     I will submit one piece of writing, already written, to my online critique group.
c.      I will then submit that piece of writing somewhere, anywhere on the world wide web for publication.
d.   Not sure if this goes under write or speak... but I will do one video blog per month.
e.  I will write and submit the two blog posts my sweet friends asked me to guest post a long time ago.

Health Goals: Again, I’m being realistic and trying to not push myself to exhaustion.
1.     I will run 2.5-4 miles 3-4 times per week.
2.     I will weight train 1-2 times per week.
3.     I will get proper rest.
4.     I will have a healthy eating plan each day including dinner.

Household Goals:
1.     Finish organizing pantry including labeling shelves.
2.     Label shelves in garage.
3.     Write at least ten long overdue thank you notes.
4.     Hang cross collection on wall.
5.     Start photo collage for living room.

Spiritual Goals:
1.     Read God’s Word each day with communion.
2.     Pray specifically a theme for each member of my family.
3.     Seek God’s direction for my writing/speaking ministry.

Go link to Sandy to join the goal-setting fun