Monday, October 6, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness

By God's grace, I have survived breast cancer for nearly 5 years now. I am blessed and grateful. God's fingerprint identifies me as His own and I never want to take that for granted. Having previously worked for the American Cancer Society and having personal experience as a survivor, gives me valuable insight. Here are just a few things to help you become more knowledgeable about breast cancer:
  1. Men can also get breast cancer. Everyone should do self-exams and report any suspicious lumps to their doctor.
  2. Start getting annual mammograms at the recommended age, or if you have an increased chance of breast cancer. 
  3. Don't let any mammography technician give you unclear results. Persist until you get an ultrasound or an MRI to get more clear results.
  4. Some breast cancers don't exhibit identifiable lumps. Breast cancer can also be present in the form of calcification - which is why yearly mammograms are so important. I had no lumps. A digital mammogram detected my calcification which was already invasive.
  5. Early detection and treatment can save your life.
  6. Not everything Pink benefits breast cancer research and/or patients. Research all organizations to really know how their funds are used or where they go. I can vouch for the American Cancer Society and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. There are other organizations that are far less trustworthy. They play on our sympathies and are making lots of money and giving funds to places like Planned Parenthood under the guise of providing mammograms for under served women. These centers do not even have machines to do mammograms. Don't give money or support every organization or event that sports a pink ribbon. You may be funding something you would not want to fund. Do your research. Think before you Pink!
  7. Cut sugar from your diet. It feeds cancer.
  8. Phytonutrients are like kryptonite to cancer cells. Berries and cruciferous vegetables are wonder drugs.
  9. Stress has a negative effect on health, in general. It does not help in the fight to defeat cancer.
  10. Jesus is a Healer. He may use doctors and medicine or He may perform a miracle. But have no doubt, He is in control. Trust God and seek His peace and healing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Seeing Stories

As I'm sitting at my desk in this temporary work assignment I've been doing for a few months, I'm really struggling with my pride. I feel like a peon in a company where no one cares to know me and they don't recognize that I have any worth. Poor pitiful me. My pride argues that I'm probably as smart as many of them - excluding the engineers, lawyers and the CEO - but they don't count! Joking aside, I'm probably much smarter than people give me credit for. I may be blond, and majorly left-brained, but I've been praying for God's wisdom for a long time and, ever so often, I can see glimpses that He is answering my prayers. Others may not be able to see it yet, but maybe they're just slow:-)  Like I said, I was struggling with pride.

Anyway, the idea from this post came as I saw an email pop up to company personnel. My temporary assignment is for a global company that helps people who cannot hear have access to hearing through an implant in their head that activates their auditory nerve. It really is wonderful that such products exists and they should be proud of the work that they do. I applaud them. This particular email was entitled "Hearing Stories". It was another story of how one of this company's products has helped someone to accomplish so much in life that never would have been possible without the gift of hearing this product afforded him. It is commendable. It also brought me back to a stark reality. Because, just in that moment, God gave me a "glimpse" of His wisdom as He reminded me that, with His help, I get to help people who were once blind to see!

Well, maybe I'm exaggerating. It is God that really helps people to see, but indulge me as I explain how He brought me from feeling sorry for myself to showing me how He uses me to help people He places in my life. It all goes back to the scriptures and my own story of, "I once was blind, but now I see!" Until God gave me spiritual sight to recognize Him, His grace, and His truth, I had no capacity to really see. I was blind to the things that really mattered - to my need of a Savior.  God gave me the gift of seeing and He enables me to encourage others to gain their spiritual sight, as well. I get to work in ministry and I get to witness "Seeing Stories", or testimonies, of changed lives on a regular basis. Stories of how people were once blind, but now they see!

All that, as I was sitting there feeling like a peon. God uses peons, you know! So I humbly ask Him to take my pride and keep reminding me that it doesn't really matter that the people in this company don't know me or treat me with any kind of importance. The Creator of the Universe knows my name and gives me worthy assignments. He helps us all with our "Seeing Stories" and they all have a certain theme to them, "I once was blind, but now I see"!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression - it's personal

With the recent suicidal death of Robin Williams, social media has lit up with discussions and opinions on depression. If nothing else, this outlet allows us to speak our minds. Most often, I am grateful for the freedom but, sometimes, I just shake my head at the opinions. Yet, I'm now adding mine to the mix. I do so with trepidation and prayer. I'm aware that my opinion and my experience is my own. I am unqualified to speak of others' experiences with this issue and, likewise, others are unqualified to speak of mine. With that said, I hope to share my struggles and encourage you with my own experience with feelings of despair.

I'm no expert on this complicated subject, but I know my own family, in particular, has struggled with it gravely for generations. My own sweet mother had very severe struggles with it and I've sought to be an overcomer from my own struggles for much of my adult life. I have many relatives who have struggled with depression. I've even thought of my family's depression as a curse and have been purposeful about breaking that cycle in my own life. I am not ignorant of the enemy's plan to kill, steal, and destroy mankind. If he cannot take our lives, he will certainly try to take our peace and joy and keep us bogged down with despair. My own personal experience is also that my imbalance of hormones has contributed greatly to my physical and mental health. I have attempted to treat that imbalance with physical and spiritual care and God has given me a great measure of peace and freedom as I look to Him for help.

Again, I dare not diagnose anyone else's experience; this  reflection is just from my family perspective and experience. I share it, not to make anyone upset or to say I have the market on perspective, but to just give you mine and to, hopefully, encourage someone who may be struggling or at a low point.
The entire book of Psalms reminds me of how my own struggles and those of King David can be paralleled so often. But I can deeply identify with Psalm 18 and often call it a mirror of my own life's journey. It is particularly personal to me. In true Message-style translation, I offer my personal Psalm of Praise.

In my distress I cried to the LORD and He answered by moving heaven and earth to make me know He is for me. He reached down with His own loving hands and drew me out of the deep waters and rescued me. I had/have nowhere else to go, but to the LORD, and He is faithful. It's out of knowing that faithfulness that I keep a vigilant and determined eye towards my God. With a deeply grateful heart, I seek and worship Him and find The Messiah in the mystery of my mess. 

It's not a formula or an antidote to depression, but, for me, it has been my life preserver. My focus on my Life Guard pulls me to safety when I am sinking. If you reach out and can't find Him, please keep reaching. I have discovered that He is faithful to reach down with His own Hand or to put many human and/or angelic hands around me to walk with me until His Joy brings me peace and His strength holds me up in and through the despair that threatens to drown me.

I cannot count the number of times, as a child, that I tried to console my mother as she wailed and screamed, while I thought it was my responsibility to keep her alive, to somehow prevent her from having a nervous breakdown. She reached many low points, yet loved God with her whole heart. There was a war going on in our home and it was from the enemy. Whether it was physical, mental, or spiritual - or all of the above - I know not. I just know that it was real and it crippled her and affected our family. It was much later in her life, that she was able to get some kind of mental balance with medical care and God's constant love.

In my 20's, I started struggling with some of the same emotional issues and behaviors my mother had struggled with. It wasn't until I had tried many medications to no avail, and finally came to a crossroads of surrender to my LORD, that I finally began to experience some sort of victory over my struggle. I sat out to study the faithfulness of God, the truth of Who He is, and the wonder of His healing power. I took an honest look at myself and realized that I could choose to rely on myself and my feelings or I could learn to lift my head up and change my focus in my times of despair. With constant discipline and practice, God kept my head and heart lifted higher more often than He allowed me to remain downcast. I realized that, if I followed my emotions and reacted to them as the enemy had tricked me into doing so many times before,  he would eat my lunch every time I took the bait. If I allowed all the compassion I felt for others to overcome me, I wouldn't be able to make it out of bed in the mornings. I decided I would praise God - not for - but in and through the way I felt until I looked and listened to Him and His truth more often than I relied upon my limited ability to navigate through my feelings and struggles. God reminded me that there is always hope in Him and that the enemy's deception that I had no choice to overcome my struggles had no power over me. I cannot say I never feel sad - I do - but I can say that my God is the Victor and He is always faithful to help me when I call to Him.

I am, by no means, suggesting that other people don't have enough faith or trust in God to experience freedom. I'm just saying that my experience is that He is faithful and He always extends hope. He has given me hope. He has given me life. He has lifted me out of my despair. I pray He does the same for countless others. Keep calling on Him and never ever give up in a moment, or moments, of despair. Keep looking up and reaching up. I believe God is compelled to reach down when we reach up to Him. My story is that He has been faithful to do so.

My heart hurts for Robin Williams and the pain that led him to suicide. My heart hurts for so many others that struggle day in and day out with depression. Yet God reminds me that He is always bigger than depression. I think of depression with a little "d".  I think of God with a Big "D". He is the Divine Deity, the Deliverer, the Difference-Maker! I put all my hope in the Big "D" and come against the little "d" in the Mighty name of Jesus. The little "d" has cheated far too many people for far too long out of peace and joy. The Big "D" is able to offer hope in the face of despair. God cries with those who despair and He wraps His loving arms around us. Oh, how I hope you know His arms are there and you are able to feel the salt of His tears and the strength of His arms.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I don't know who invented hashtags, but I'm a big fan. Many people dislike their randomness, but that is just what I embrace. I kind of feel like a hashtag is a way of not worrying about conjugation, grammar or logic and being able to be creative with a little fun or sometimes snarky snippet. I'm sure the geniuses in the social media world (I say that seriously, not as an insult) intended it to be used in a particular way, but my random mind likes to use it in my own random ways. A hashtag gives me license to do just that - to blurt out my randomness without fear of the hashtag, grammar, or perfection police telling me I'm doing it all wrong.  Maybe I am, but it doesn't matter. When I hashtag, I usually smile. I hope it becomes infectious and others start to smile. I hope they embrace their own random hashtags.

For a middle-aged person (it's taken me some long, serious honest introspection to admit that at 50-something I am "at least" at middle-age), I realize my admiration for this newer generational phenomena is a bit strange. But I love to be able to express thoughts and ideas in new and engaging ways and, to me, a hashtag is just that - an unusual, but effective, means of expression. All I can say is #MorePowerToIt. One condition I've put on my own hashtags is that of capitalization for the next word. I realize that's not really the way to do it but, #ItMakesItEasierToRead.

All this talk about hashtags made me wonder what kinds of hashtags I would use as a nutshell expression for who I am, for what matters to me. I've utilized the remainder of this post to paint a random picture of just that. I hope it tells a story!

Friday, July 4, 2014

No Fishing!

God has been teaching me for a while about something I have, all too often, experienced in my life. I've been writing things down as He reveals them to me and sort of keeping them to myself, but I'm sharing now because maybe others can benefit from the valuable lessons He is teaching me. I hope it helps someone. It sure has been life-changing for me, so here goes.

I recently heard a clip where the Christian music artist, Michael W. Smith, said that he prays to never be offended by anyone again. That's a great example of putting on his armor and giving control to God. Satan can't tear us down if we deflect his arrows with God's grace and truth. I've been praying and learning how to better do that very thing.

People ask me how I cannot be offended by the words and actions of others. My answer is simply that Jesus bids me to bring those offenses to Him and surrender them and my thoughts and feelings to Him. As a Christ follower, I could become so offended by this world and its attitude and actions toward people who love and follow God. I would have every reason to cry, both inwardly and outwardly, but I refuse that route. I once read that taking offense at others is the bait of satan. I have learned that that concept is all too accurate. He dangles the carrots of doubt, confusion, lies, and hurt feelings which tend to result in gossip and misunderstandings. It doesn't take long for us unsuspecting souls to take the bait - hook, line, and sinker - only to find our relationships with others and God wrought with division and strife. Satan laughs while we cry and lose valuable friends and family to the havoc he has caused. He goes fishing in our minds and lives and has us for dinner! I see it often; I've fallen for it myself! But I'm so grateful God is renewing my mind and giving me a better, clearer perspective and a healthier, new way to think and respond.

God transforms my offenses into opportunities of reconciliation and growth when I take them to Him and believe His Word and follow His truths. It's amazing that who and what I believe plays out so clearly in how I act and live. What I believe determines my feelings. I choose to believe that God has a better way for me than to continue going down the dead-end route of taking offense. I'm learning more and more to take it to God to process and follow His biblical route. God's way is for me to attempt to be reconciled, when possible, to the person causing me concern. I'm putting up a "No Fishing" sign. Take that bait elsewhere, satan! I'm not biting anymore!

The best result I am experiencing from God's transformation in me is that He is changing the way I think and that changes the way I feel. Well played, God!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

One year ago today, my heart expanded. One year ago today, I became a Nana to Carson. One year ago today, my world changed forever.

I celebrate the birth of my first grandchild today and everyday. He is in my prayers daily and in my heart constantly. My dreams for this child are BIG. Big in the sense that I want him to be as blessed by God as humanly possible and to be the greatest blessing he can possibly be to God and to others in this world.

Carson's parents and grandparents love Jesus. My prayer is that Carson sees Jesus in all of us and falls in love with His creator at a very early age. The choice will be his, but I believe he is chosen to be brave and courageous, to be a leader in all things good. I know he is a little boy, and a busy one, at that, but he is God's boy and I entrust him to the ONE who made him.

I celebrate Carson today and I celebrate the Creator who made him. Make him great for you, LORD, and let that precious smile become a light for Jesus that comes from a heart that knows You and loves You! I love you, sweet Carson, and this post is dedicated to you.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Smacking my Head

Reading and meditating on the parable of the Sower in Luke 8. It's deep, but oh so simple. It reminds me of the ministry of growing people up in spiritual maturity so they can live victorious, free lives. 
I always have to ask God to check my heart because I become frustrated when people seem to accept Christ, then just don't appreciate His grace or want His truth; they really don't experience the joy God has for them. They go back to the old nature and I fight the urge to judge their behaviors (my human sinful reaction) as I smack my head in wonderment. How could they miss this?! God often reminds me to stay in my lane and do my job and allow Him to do His....duly noted!
The parable explains it like this: Not everyone who sees and hears, may actually see and understand. When the seed (The Word of God) is scattered along the path, those along that path may hear, but just as the birds came and scarfed down the seeds from the path, so the devil comes and takes away the Word from people's hearts so they may not believe and be saved.
Continuing with the parable, the seed that falls upon the rocks can not grow for lack of moisture, lack of a healthy growing atmosphere. Likewise, people who receive the Word become excited at first, but they have no root in which to grow and thrive. They believe for a while, but when the harsh conditions hit, their faith is challenged and withers away.
Moving along, the seed that fell among the thorns was literally overtaken and choked out by the overpowering nature of the thorns. People who hear the Word and continue in their own paths are similarly choked by the thorns of life as they are bogged down with worry, chase after fame and fortune, and seek human pleasure over Godly wisdom and growth.
Lastly, there is yet fertile ground! Some people along the path embrace the new nature God affords them with good and noble hearts. They want to soak in the goodness of God and meditate on, and grow in, grace and truth. They retain the magnitude of God's presence through persevering and bearing good fruit. This is a picture of the seed falling upon good soil - and souls. It yields so much benefit and blossoms abundantly.
So, soil can also be equated to dirt. We can all identify with having dirt in our lives. What kind of dirt is God's Word falling upon as you hear and see it. Will you let the dirt just remain a dry clump or a muddy mess? Or will you let the Word change your dirt into a fertile field of blessings? I've heard people say that a little dirt never hurt anyone. I guess that depends upon your dirt! I'd much rather my patch of dirt yield a beautiful crop that feeds many, as opposed to just becoming a desert or a mud puddle. Allow God's Word to reach down deep into the roots of your soul so that you may yield an abundant crop of blessings.
P.S. And save me from smacking my head:-)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Here's Your Sign!

One bible verse has been my consistent "go-to" for times of stress and confusion. Isaiah 26:3 says, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" I woke up thinking of that verse in the middle of the night last night, as I often do, and a picture of the now-famous "Keep Calm" posters and signs came to mind. I thought, if there were ever an appropriate phrase to put on such a sign, it would be, "Keep Calm and Trust God!" I decided to find out more about the history of the little catchy "Keep Calm" phrases.

It just so happens that the original term, "Keep Calm and Carry On" was something the British government came up with in 1939 as a motivational poster intended to raise the morale of the public in the aftermath of widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities several months prior to the Second World War. It wasn't well distributed or publicly displayed back then, but the phrase was resurrected in the year 2000 and has become quite popular now a days (thanks, Wikipedia, for info on almost anything that can be googled!). I think some private companies sell products with such phrases and we see them ever so often on social media sites like Face Book and Pinterest. Yes, the "Stay Calm and _____" phrases have become popular and motivational indeed - so many years after the original posters were created and for different reasons, altogether. I say, if we can motivate people towards good things, then, Carry On!

Now back to my version, or vision, of the poster. I also googled my inspired phrase, and, as I expected, I'm not the first to have thought of it. I was even able to download a picture. It's interesting to me that there is a crown on the top of the sign. I realize why, after reading the history of the poster and discovering that it originated via the British government that is led by royalty. Oh so appropriate in how I envision the sign, also! God, Christ, is the Godhead, the royalty, that is represented at the top of a, "Keep Calm and Trust God" sign. That kind of royalty and the truth of God's Word and His character, which backs up His promise to keep us in perfect peace as we trust in Him and keep our thoughts fixed on Him, is such a powerful WORD picture!
May God's Word be so frequently consumed by us that it motivates our thoughts and actions. May it be written on our hearts and minds and may He remind us that His Lordship is our ever-present companion - even in times of stress and confusion - and beyond. I think we would bode well to remember what God says in His Word. It can motivate us to keep our eyes fixed on Him and not to let our concerns consume us. My pseudo-Message version can be translated, "Keep Calm and Trust God!" Now, there's your sign! It originated from the KING.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Route 68 - A Happy Crossroads

I just spent a nostalgic week in my old Lexington, Kentucky, home. The highlight was, by far, grand baby time, but a few other things left me so aware of God's blessings in my life. About 21 days ago I took on the challenge to post pictures, for 100 days (#100happydays), of things that make me happy. Needless to say, I've been snapping pictures left and right, east and west, from California beaches to Kentucky hills. It has been a fun exercise and I guess that is the point - to make one happy with happy things! Here is the story of one such happy snapshot that made me literally recall  a  real life snapshot and why this picture is symbolic of a time when I was at a turning point of change; a time when I was at a crossroads and I could have gone either way. I am so happy I chose the right path.

My snapshot was of a highway sign in Kentucky on Route 68 - in front of an old building that houses a restaurant that is a regional favorite of many in the Lexington, KY, area. The restaurant is named Ramsey's and the spot on Route 68 right, in front of Ramsey's, is a spot that will forever live in infamy for me. History says that Route 68 travels through many battleground areas from the Civil War.  It was hilly and treacherous terrain back then. One day in 1998 my life was in treacherous terrain as a spiritual, psychological and physical war was raging for the life of my marriage. I had gone to my church to consult with a pastor and ask for prayer. He had prayed that God would give me peace that passes understanding. As I headed home to talk about a possible divorce with my husband, I yearned for God's peace and leading. I cried out to Him to help me forgive the unforgivable.  It was on that spot on Rt. 68, in front of Ramsey's Restaurant, in Lexington, KY, that God answered my prayer. He reminded me that He had forgiven me - He had forgiven the unforgivable - could I not do likewise?! He swept into my car like a peaceful river, washing away any bitterness and unforgiveness that remained. The war had been waged, He had fought the battle for me, and He won as I surrendered everything to Him. As I continued to drive home and speak to my husband that night, it was with renewed grace and forgiveness. God did the rest. That was 14 years into our, then, tumultuous marriage. Now we have been married almost 30 years and the years since then have been a pathway to joy and peace only because Jesus is in the center of it all.

Route 68 was indeed a crossroads for me. I chose the right path, God's road to forgiveness and healing.  I never drive past that spot without remembering what God did that day and every day since then.  His love won the battle.  That really makes me happy!  #Route68

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Evolution toward Fifty-Something

It's February and that means I've been blessed enough to reach another earthly birthday.  I'm not twenty-something.  I'm not thirty-something.  I'm not forty-something.  A few years ago I reached what I hope to be about the half-way mile marker, so when birthdays come these days, I am just very grateful to be "something" at all.  So, if the truth be known, I am fifty-something in a couple of days.  If I may, I'm going to unpack a little evolution of decades that portray my journey to this momentous place.  Thanks in advance for your indulgence.  Everything herein is referring to me and what I experienced in each decade.  I am by no means degrading another age group, because I know things change and each person is different as individuals.  That being said, there will be some things that some of recognize as general to our age groups.  Jump on board for the journey.  We're about to evolve!

In my twenties I remember being that person who was starry-eyed and bushy-tailed and excited to take on the adventure of life.  I had graduated from college, married my sweetheart, moved to NYC and had our daughter - all by the end of the decade.  It was an active decade, and if you asked me then, I would have told you I had the world by the horns and I was maneuvering my ride through life pretty well.  I look back on it now and I can say, while it seemed fun and exciting at the time, I would have done so much so differently.  While I'm a bit scatterbrained, I've also always known that I have a higher than average IQ.  I don't say that pridefully, but I say it to accentuate that, back then, I was prideful about it.  I thought I knew everything and I tried to play God with my own life.  I made unwise choices and rarely ever consulted God.  I claimed to know Him, but you would never really have known it, except for a "help-me" prayer every now and again when I was in a tight spot.  I thought the world was grand; I thought my life was grand; I thought I had arrived.  In all reality, I was a snotty-nosed immature know-it-all!  Ugh...I wasn't very good at playing God, after all.

Then came my thirties.  I tell everyone that I think a light bulb finally gets turned on in our thirties.  I became aware that I had been quiet naive in the previous decade and that maybe I wasn't as smart as I had perceived myself to be.  More maturity and a bit more wisdom had started to shed some light onto life for me.  My daughter was young and God started drawing me back into relationship with Him.  I knew I wanted that for both myself and my child.  Instinctively, I just knew that it wasn't all about me anymore and that there was a Great Designer who had a better plan for my life and this precious little girl I was now responsible for.  Great, I thought I would tell my husband and he would be on board, but he wanted nothing of the kind.  He secretly wanted to jump ship and scoffed at the idea that we needed God to become a strong happy family.  We grew further apart and my soul started longing for my old Kentucky home.  I convinced him to move and we headed for the hills.  The Bluegrass became our new home, but something was still missing.  My heart took me on a search and I realized I had become really lousy at playing God in my own life and the lives of my family.  I recommitted my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and invited Him to be the LORD of my life for the very first time.  It was the turning point in my life in so many ways.  My husband drug his feet for a long time, but in the later part of our thirties decade, my prayer life for him and our marriage had intensified and he invited Jesus Christ into his own heart.  THAT was the real turning point for us.  We were a hot mess and we had come to Jesus just as we were - with so much gunk and garbage.  He invited us in and started cleaning up the trash.  Wow, I was beginning to see where real wisdom comes from.  It is not inherent, but is imparted from the LORD as He is sought.  What a revelation - yet again!  So we set out on a new journey - a journey of faith this time - and we buckled our seat belts because when God is in the driver's seat it is both wild and adventurous...never a dull moment.

In our forties, we thought we had finally settled down into some semblance of normal life.  We owned our dream house, we had an active social life with friends and were heavily involved in church activities.  We both had good jobs and were finally secure - well, for a while, at least.  Then I got laid off and eventually my husband - who was a master salesman that won every sales contest imaginable and took us on many great company-paid vacations, started hitting a brick wall in his career efforts.  What in the world was going on? We were strong in our walk with the LORD, and all of a sudden we were really struggling financially.  It wasn't the first time.  In our twenties we had made dumb financial mistakes, but now we should have been better stewards with our resources.  Yet, the well was drying up.  Towards the last part of the decade we realized that it was God's plan to take us out of corporate America and use us in full-time ministry.  My husband became a pastor and we moved from Kentucky to Colorado.  After a few years we moved from Colorado to Illinois.  Yes, this ministry thing was indeed a journey that was driven by God.  We learned that this journey often included bumps in the road and unexpected detours.  At the age of 48, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was a faith journey, for sure, and my God proved faithful, once again.  I am so thankful that He has kept me and that I am now 4 years cancer-free.  He opened my eyes to priorities once again and gave me just a little bit more wisdom as I hung onto His grace and sought His truth.  I began to learn that obedience is a blessing and the presence of God was what I needed more than breath.  He gave me both.

That brings me to the present decade.  We moved to California nearly a year ago and my husband is a pastor who loves his job of helping people see their need for freedom and recovery as they surrender their lives to Jesus.  He loves to tell our story of grace, forgiveness and redemption wherever and whenever God allows him to do so.  He is a modern day evangelist and his passion for the LORD and for our family is an amazing blessing.  I am in awe of how God transforms willing broken vessels.  An awareness of His presence is at the center of our lives and marriage and we hang on for dear life with every new adventure He takes us on.  We became grandparents this past year with our first grandchild, a precious little boy.  Now, that, is a definite life-changer!  Just when I think I've arrived and that I've finally matured enough to really start understanding life, God throws in a grandchild and we become like little children ourselves - quiet giddy - as we become bonkers over this little one who brings an entirely new dimension of love into our lives.

We have started to have a few maintenance issues with these earthly tents.  Our models were created over half a century ago, but we are trusting that God will continue to give us the fuel and the upgrades we need to keep them well-maintained and functional on the road of this journey on which He has us.  The teeth and the knees could use definite upgrades; our mental hard drives could use a re-boot every now and then; covering up grey hairs has become all too frequent and expensive and our propensity to sing jingles from too many commercials aired on the news channel that plays at least 50% of the time in our house has caused us to pause and realize we are not spring chickens any longer.  But with all the stuff that makes us realize we are in the second half of this ballgame, we are more excited than ever to know that we will finish strong in this game of life.  I hope I have at least 3 or 4 more decades to blog about before it's all over.  And I'm sure God has so much more to teach me for every decade of "something" with which He graces me.  But that's up to Him.  He is the driver and He, alone, can navigate the twists and turns of my journey.  I'm thankful He allows me to be along for the ride and that my journey is ever evolving until I reach my heavenly destination.  That's where I will dance and sing even more boldly to the LORD and you could be privy to a new "Evolution of Dance" if you're up there with me.  I hope you are!

From Psalm 71 - NLT:  O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.  Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God.  Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Folding Fitted Sheets

I just tried to fold a fitted sheet.  I have seen multitudes of examples of how it should be properly done, but do you think that has helped me perfect this elusive art?  Absolutely not!  I'm still a terrible fitted sheet folder.  I need to be more studious and deliberate and patient about the method of getting it right, I suppose.  Unfortunately my fitted sheets end up in a crumpled mess in the cupboard.  I'm pretty sure Martha Stewart would not want to be my house guest at my current level of fitted sheet folding expertise.

Thinking about this ever-recurring flaw in my housekeeping skills as I take the fitted sheet out of the dryer, I start to compare it to my need to take the study of God's Word and be deliberate and repetitive about applying it to my life.  My practice of doing so always helps me keep the nuggets of truth and wonders of God's grace neatly tucked into my heart and mind, ready to be unfolded when it's time to apply it.  No matter how many times I may have read something or heard someone else teach about something in the bible, it is sort of useless to me unless I take it to heart, unless I put what I see and hear into action.  I will end up a crumpled mess if I don't get that part right, or at least make a concentrated effort to put into practice that which I strive to know.

All that being said, I don't want to have to end up being that person that doesn't pay attention to God's best for me and my life.  I don't want to disregard the multiple ways and times He shows me how I should do things.  I don't want to end up in a crumpled mess instead of taking the time and effort to know how and why I should do things God's way - the right way.  I want to study and learn; discern and apply.  I want to be able to fold my virtual fitted sheet well so I don't end up in a mess.

But, right now, I'm back at the dryer and there is one immediate option that might work for me.  I think putting the real fitted sheet on the bed, straight out of the dryer, warm and comfy, would be a perfect way to apply good wisdom right about now.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Day of Celebration

Four years ago today I was scared.  I had been sucker-punched with a breast cancer diagnosis the previous month and the time for my surgery had finally arrived.  The follow-up doctor appointments sort of became a blur as I just tried to hang on to the fact that God loved me and my life was in His hands.  I had peace in His love for me and His goodness, but I have to admit, I was scared.  My surgery to remove the cancer was January 20th, 2010.  I went into surgery not knowing what to expect, but expecting that God would take care of me - whatever the outcome.

My surgery was a success.  The cancer was removed with clear margins and no lymph node invasion.  God blessed me with great care and great love.  My husband was a rock - still is!  My family and friends were so loving and supportive.  I was blown away by how much people really care.  I was also given a new perspective.  One you don't understand unless you experience it.  I knew the despair of being a cancer patient.  But I also was given a second chance.  I knew the blessing of being given a life extension - if you will.  One never knows how long they will be around in this lifetime, but when you have a potentially life-threatening illness and you are brought through it by God's grace, you value each moment you are given.  And, for me, I recognized exactly where my help came from.  My help comes from the Lord and He is my Healer.

If this experience did one thing for me, it caused me to be more bold in sharing my love for the Lord with others.  I've learned to worship the Lord freely with gratitude.  His praise is always in my heart and on my lips.  I am never ashamed to tell others just who Jesus is and what He has done for me.  I love to invite them to know Him and His love and peace for themselves.  I was pretty outspoken before, but now I have a new purpose.  This experience made me see that more clearly.

My purpose is to glorify Jesus; to point people to Him.  I do that by keeping my eyes on Him; keeping my heart bowed low and keeping my hands lifted high.  I am the worshipper in the room.  I cannot imagine living any other way.  Gratitude in my heart has been magnified.  I remember the song that came to my heart when I entered this storm, "My soul magnifies the Lord for He has done great things for me!"  He had already done great things for me by dying on a cross for my sins.  He took my place.  That was more than enough.  He went even further to grace me with His healing touch.  When you have experienced that, you just know it.  You can disregard it or you can embrace it.  I choose to fully embrace it.

So, today - January 20, 2014 - I celebrate what God did for me and I celebrate Him.  Sometimes, I still get a little scared, but the Lord tells me in 2 Timothy 1:7 that He did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  With that truth, I can give my fears over to Jesus and let Him comfort me with His grace and peace.  My future is not nearly as scary when I place my fears about it into His hands.  It's just another great thing He does for me.  My soul continues to magnify the Lord - He has, indeed, done great things for me!

Do you know Him?  No apologies for asking.  I'm just trying to fulfill my purpose.  It makes one do bold things.  I hope you choose to do something bold.  I hope you celebrate Him!