May 22, 2015

Cancer Sucks! Here's How to Make it Suck a Little Less

Have you ever heard of Multiple Myeloma?

Here is a little bit about this second most common blood cancer from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) website:

The disease starts in the plasma cells in bone marrow. When the plasma cells become malignant, they create a defective protein that can grow out of control and crowd out the normal cells that help fight infection and disease. When the bad protein cells move into bone, they cause tumors. If the malignant cells form a tumor, it is called myeloma. If multiple tumors are formed, the disease is called multiple myeloma. 

Cancer sucks! But it sucks most when it directly affects you or your loved ones. My friend Jaimee's mom lives with Multiple Myeloma, so she can attest to this. 

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you've heard me mention Jaimee before. She's one of my besties and my running buddy. So when Jaimee found out the MMRF hosts an annual 5K to raise funds for research and honor those with Multiple Myeloma, we signed up! 

The first time we ran this race together was back in October of 2013. If they had one in 2014, we were not aware of it, but I got a flyer in the mail about the one for this year, so I was quick to let Jaimee know about it. We made plans to run it in honor of her mom - Diana - who battles this cancer every day. I was excited to run this one again with my friend!

It was a beautiful day! 
There was a good crowd gathered to run. Before the race began, everyone had an opportunity to sign a board honoring the person or persons they were running for.  Jaimee got to sign her mom's name to the board.

This is a great 5K! It was run very well, and things went off without a hitch. I was able to run it in 35:30, and I felt great afterwards!  The best part about this 5K was being there to support Jaimee and run in honor of her mom.

As my friend said after upon looking at our post race pic, "This ain't pretty but neither is cancer!"
Readers, if you have a friend/family member battling cancer or if you have a friend who has a family member with this disease (like I do), let me ask you to find a way to encourage him or her. Find a way to show your support.  Run a race, complete a walk, or donate money to cancer research.  Or something!  In this way, you can make cancer suck a little less by just letting these heroes know they are not alone.  

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity" (Proverbs 17:17).

Cancer does suck, but cancer sufferers, survivors, and those that love them, you rock!  You are an inspiration - Diana and Jaimee!

Today's forget-me-not: Those living with the reality of cancer.

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May 15, 2015

Making Time for Unfinished Business

This week, I'm participating in a linkup with blogger and author Bonnie Gray.

I've written a couple posts where I talk about the impact Bonnie's book, Spiritual Whitespace, has had in my life.  It is a MUST read for every Christian lady!

In her book, Bonnie talks about the importance of resting in Jesus:

"Rest is not a lifestyle. Rest is a living journey - a relationship - into 
our most vulnerable places. With Jesus."

Bonnie teaches her readers to look at rest from a variety of angels.  In other words, resting in Jesus can look like many things! I wrote a blog post not too long ago about how spending time with our Lord can take on a variety of shapes.  Resting in Jesus is also like this.

In her book, Bonnie talks about four ways we can rest in Jesus - what she calls whitespace "drinks":

Enjoy a Creative Cappuccino. Feed your soul with a delicious espresso of creative whitespace poured into the artistic you, etching artful patterns of rest onto your soul.

Enjoy an Adventure Latte. Feed your soul with a generous shot of God’s rest steamed with his presence, sweetened with your pick of adventure for added flavor.

Enjoy a Friendship Mocha. Feed your soul with a sweet treat of friendship is mixed in with soothing relational rest, topped with the whipped cream topping of an open heart.

Enjoy a Soul-Care Espresso. Feed your soul with a freshly ground espresso shot of intimate rest, hand-pulled by the heart of Jesus, just for you.

For this week's linkup on Bonnie's blog, she asks her readers to write in response to the following question:

Which of the four elements of spiritual whitespace is your soul craving the most today: creativity, adventure, community, or soul care?

Me? Right now? I am craving a creative cappuccino.  Specifically, I need time to paint.

Every year, I paint a ceramic piece to placed in my Christmas village.

Each piece represents a year my husband and I have spent a Christmas together.  But there was one year out of our now fifteen years of marriage that I neglected to paint a piece.  It was the year of my miscarriage; the year we lost Angel.

For the longest time, I told myself that was fitting.  It was a year of loss, so it made sense that the year of 2010 would lose representation in my village scene.  The missing piece would be a symbol of the terrible loss we experienced that year.

But then I found this piece - an unpainted bridge.

When I saw it, I felt God's Spirit move within me.  I felt as if He was saying that this piece should be my 2010 village piece; this piece should be Angel's piece.

Bridges symbolize transition and change.  They represent transformation and rebirth.

Angel was that for me.  Her brief life forever changed me (read more on that in this post: "Because Angel Lived"), and that change should be marked, should be respected and acknowledged, by something in my Christmas village.  And that something will be this bridge.

And right now, every time I see that unfinished arch , I yearn for time to paint it!  My soul screams out to make time to acknowledge what God did in my life through Angel by painting this memento and ensuring it holds a place in this Christmas' village scene.

I need to make space in my life to complete this project.  Spiritual whitespace where I paint and praise Jesus for the little life that was my Angel.

It is time to make time!  No more excuses!  As Bonnie says, "Give yourself permission to enjoy rest.  Not because you have to - but because you want to. And God wants it for you too."

Today's forget-me-not: It is important to make time for rest - ALL kinds of rest.

"Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their [the Israelites'] example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:11).

May 8, 2015

Beth's Rebirth Day

Dear Beth,

I'm writing you this letter because Sunday, April 26th, is a day you will want to remember. However, because you are so young (8), you will most likely forget the details of today, so I'm writing them down for you.  The day started off as any normal Sunday would for us, with church, but it is what you told me after church that ended up making this day so special...

I had just finished teaching Sunday school, and I went to check on you: your Sunday school class was staying after church to plant flowers around the grounds, and you were staying to help.

I found you in your regular classroom, and you spotted me peeking in at you.  When you saw me, you quickly ran to me and pulled me aside - your eyes were all aglow and you had a huge smile on your face.  You said, "Momma, I have to tell you something. I asked Jesus into my heart today!"

Shock. Joy. Wonder.  All these things suddenly flooded my soul.  I responded, "Really?!" I hugged you, offered congratulations, and said, "When I get done with my VBS meeting, you'll have to tell me all about it." You nodded, still smiling from ear to ear, as you went back to your class.

As I walked upstairs to my meeting, my thoughts were all about your smile and that look in your eyes. I could swear I saw something there that hadn't been there before.  Joy? Wisdom? Pride?  All of the above?  It was like you had a spiritual light-bulb moment that day!  And your first thought when you saw me was to share it with me.

At the VBS meeting, I spoke with our children's pastor.  He told me that during children's worship, you and a friend went forward to pray. He said that you approached an adult who was nearby and told him that you wanted to ask Jesus into your heart. That children's worker lead you in prayer, and he told our children's pastor what you did.

When I picked you up later that day, I took you out to a swing overlooking the nearby reservoir.  As we sat swinging and looking out at the water, I asked you to tell me what had happened in children's church. You told me your story which matched what I had been told by our children's pastor, so in an effort to try to determine if you really knew what you had just done, I asked you a variety of questions:

Why did you ask Jesus into your heart? So I could go to heaven some day.  Did you need to do this? Yes. Why? Because Jesus died for our sins. Are you a sinner? Yes. Where is Jesus now? In my heart.

I asked you some other questions that I can't quite remember, but I recall thinking that you seemed to understand the magnitude of what you had just done.  I tried to express to you how important this decision was. I told you to write down the date so you would always remember when you had given your life to Jesus. So that afternoon, you went to the store with your daddy and got a journal.  You wrote down what you did, and you also wrote down what you had learned in Sunday school that day.

My dear, Beth. On Sunday, April 26, 2015, you made a decision in faith for Jesus.  I'm so proud of you! Your life will be so much better for having put your trust in our Lord. I pray you grow in your relationship with Jesus.  Remember, keep your eyes on Him! You'll have times in your life when you get distracted, you will stumble, and you will sin, but know, He will never leave you nor forsake you.  He is yours, and you are His. Run the race of life with Him, my oldest daughter.  This is a decision you will never regret!

Today's forget-me-not: April 26, 2015 - Beth's Rebirth Day    

May 1, 2015

A New Endeavor

Hello readers - my regulars and new friends!

This week, I'm blogging over at Beulah Girl. Actually, I'll be blogging over there at least once a month.  My good friend, Carol, created a blog not too long ago after she felt prompted by God to do so. Here's a little more about it from her blog:
I started as a help for women seeking restoration — a place to discuss theological questions; relationship struggles; and emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, co-dependency, and addiction. All the stories in the blog come from a real place of the struggle that can happen in the Christian walk — my real places as well as those of some other regular contributors. I have included the resources and wisdom God has given me along the way and am in a place where I am more than willing to share and analyze my hard places and how God has and is helping me overcome them — in an effort to live free and help others be free as well.
Carol has asked me to be one of her regular contributors, and I am so excited and honored to be a part of this project! Please consider regularly following Beulah Girl as there are some amazing ladies with inspirational stories lined up to share their hearts with you!

Tonight, Beulah Girl is sharing a piece I wrote about my relationship with my dad:

If you are coming to my blog for the first time from just having read my new post at Beulah Girl, please leave a comment with your thoughts or questions or concerns. I'd love to hear from you!

If you are one of my regular readers, or a new reader who just happened across my blog, and haven't read my post yet, please head over to Beulah Girl and check it out!  You can post any comments you have there or here. Let's dialogue!

Above all, I pray my words leave you encouraged!

Today's forget-me-not: My heart echoed to you from God's word: "I long to...impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong - that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." (Romans 1:11-12)

April 24, 2015

How to be beautiful in one easy step!

I was in the kitchen, cleaning, when I heard Hannah say something I hope I will never forget. It wasn't so much the words I hope I don't forget; it was the utter amazement in her voice as she proclaimed her newest revelation.

She was watching Dragon Tales, and in this particular episode, she saw a caterpillar turn into a butterfly.  I heard her suck in her breath, and all excited, she cried, "Mom!  Look!!  I didn't know a caterpillar could turn into a butterfly! Oh, wow!!!"

As I walked into the living room, I saw she was enraptured by what she was witnessing on the television.  Her mouth was agape, and she said a couple more times, "Wow... wow..."

I couldn't help but giggle and smile at her and feel grateful for having been there to witness this moment when my little girl learned that caterpillars can turn into butterflies.

It was an awesome moment!

And then, I had a special moment of my own.  Watching Hannah, I thought, "Yes, God turns caterpillars into beautiful butterflies, my sweet girl," and I then heard the Holy Spirit say to me, "Yes, it's what I do with people, too."

My mouth fell open, and I whispered, "Wow... wow..."

You see, God's power transforms lives - a transformation much like a caterpillar makes upon becoming a butterfly.  When you give your life over to the one who created you, He takes you and makes you new!  #beautiful

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation: The old is gone; the new is here!"
  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I have some questions for you: what do you see when you look at yourself?  Do you see a new creation? Is what you see beautiful?  

Let me clarify something: I'm not talking about your physical appearance.  I'm asking about your spirit.  How do you see your SELF?

Apparently, many see themselves as - at best - average.  Check out this video my Sunday school teacher shared with us this past Sunday.  It's alarming, really.  Watch it. Then come back here. I'll wait ;-)

I don't know about you, but when I saw this video, I knew instantly I would choose to walk through the beautiful door if put in that situation.

You see, I don't THINK I'm beautiful. I know I am.  I may have been average when I was lost in my sin, but after coming to know Jesus and feeling the new creation that I am in Christ, I KNOW I am beautiful.  And it's not some temporary, fleeting knowledge.  No. It is my reality.  

"And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach."  (Colossians 1:21-22)

Don't get me wrong.  There are still days when I don't feel beautiful, but feelings are not truth.  And the truth is this: if you are a child of The Most High King, you are beautiful. Embrace it!  Speak that truth in His name when you hear the lies form the evil one telling you otherwise.


Do you have that confidence in your life?  Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?  If not, what are you waiting for?!  He wants to make you new.  Just let Him.

For information on how to become a new creation in Christ, read "The Roman Road to Salvation."

Today's forget-me-not:  If you are in Christ, you are a new creation.  You are beautiful.  Thank Him today for His precious gift of salvation!

April 17, 2015

sacrificing contentment for greater contentment

I have taught English in the same high school for twelve years. It is the only place I have ever taught. But last year, I felt the Lord prompting me to apply for a transfer to a high school closer to home. At the time, I was very eager for a change, so I did not hesitate to in for the transfer.  A few months later, I had a promising interview with the principal at that school, but I didn't get the job.

I was confused.  I really felt as if the Lord wanted me at that location. I wanted to be at that location! After I was denied, I blogged about my disappointment in a post I wrote entitled, "Preacher Say."  In that post, I came to this conclusion:
"God will not give you what you want until you come to a place in your life where what you want is what He wants."
Translation: I have to be content with my current situation [His current will for my life] before He will move me.  That is IF He wants to move me - which I believe He does.
In other words, I need to come to a place in my life where I accept my current position at my current location with my current student population and my current colleagues.
It was hard, but I strove to do that. I knew I was going to have to work at being happy with God's current plan for my life. I was going to have to stay put, so it became obvious what God wanted for me at that time: He wanted me to learn to be content in all things, at all times, and in all places. 

I knew the Lord wanted to move me to the other high school, but it became clear to me that He wasn't going to change my current situation until I learned the lesson of contentment!

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)

So even though I was desperate for a change, I resolved to start this school year with renewed faith. After all, scripture said I could do all things through Him who gives me strength.  So every day I came to work, I went in as if working for the Lord. Everything felt good. The year was going well. I began to love my job anew! 

The transfer window opened again, and at first, I struggled with the decision of requesting another transfer to the high school closer home.  I was comfortable. My heart was once again at home with my current position unlike what it had been when I put in for a transfer the previous year.  I didn't want to do it, but I still believed God wanted to move me to this other school.  What was I going to do?!

Content with my current situation, I requested the transfer anyway.  Because more than being comfortable, I wanted to be in His will.  I laid my contentment on His alter and prayed, "I believe you want me elsewhere, and although it is scary to leave all I have ever known, Lord, I will do it if you want me to."

And you know what? I found out this week - I got the transfer!

It has been an amazing week!!!  At any time I get nervous about moving to my new school, God shows me how good and right this move is going to be in the long run.  I'll be pouring my efforts into a school my children will eventually attend - and that the children of many of my friends will eventually attend.  In addition to this blessed privilege, I'll be challenged to change my teaching style to meet the needs of a different student population.  I'll be able to grow as an educator in ways I would not be able to at my current location, and I'll be blessed to form more precious relationships with fellow educators.  

God knew I needed this before I did.  He prepared my heart for this and taught me something about contentment: it is yielding everything completely to His will - EVERYTHING.  This includes your current contentment.  And if you do this, sacrifice your current contentment for His will, you will find an even greater contentment.  With God, our sacrifices bring back great returns!

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  (Luke 6:38)

I can't even begin to express to you how excited I am to begin this new chapter of my life! Thank you, Jesus!!!

Today's forget-me-not: Be content and obedient in your current situation, and desire nothing else but what He puts on your current path.

April 10, 2015

The Color Run 2015

I did it again! No "oops" about it ;-)

For the second time, my daughter and I, along with some friends, ran in The Color Run - The Happiest 5K on the Planet!

Before the run! #nocoloryet
That morning, it was a bit cold.  This is why my daughter is all bundled up in the above pic. Because of the temperature, she was a bit moody at first, but she "warmed up" to the whole experience as soon as the sun came out.

I had a great time making memories with my big girl and our friends.  We took more pics than I could ever share on this blog!  However, there is one pic I absolutely MUST share! The Color Run photographers took a picture of Beth in mid-run, and when I saw it, I just fell in love with it!!!  

Intense concentration!  Future runner? 
When I saw that pic, this verse came to mind:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, 
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I want my children to develop a love of being active. Hopefully that will translate into a love of running, but I'll settle for a love of fitness of any kind.  

I want them to also grow to understand the importance of friendship.  Developing healthy and fun relationships with others is one of the reasons we were put here on this planet. God wants us to enjoy each other.  I mean, Jesus had twelve friends with which he spent a lot of his time ;-) 

Besides, good friends are like family, and family is important.  You know they got your back if times get tough and you are ever in need. 

We had a great time with our friends; these ladies are like family to me!
Overall, we had a great time!  This is one of my favorite 5Ks to run/walk. I look forward to it every year.  Find out when it will be coming to a city near you, and sign up now!  I promise, you will not be disappointed!!

Memories were made in the three miles we experienced together...

Making our way to the finish line!
And this mommy and daughter had a great time!

Today's forget-me-not:  Consider what you want your children to value when they grow up, and start their training plan now!

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