Cancer has opened my eyes to Racism

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How God has used my cancer journey to see racism with new eyes:

It amazes me what slowly becomes normal even when it is an offense.
For years now, my body was making adjustments due to the tumor in my bladder. It happened slowly and until my diagnosis, I did not have an AHA moment.
I was bending over less. I was lifting less. I would try to work out and have incredible pain and link it to being out of shape or other medical conditions. I was growing more and more tired to the point that even the idea of getting dressed after a shower was too much. This went on for years and I just felt it was ‘normal’ as it built up so slowly I didn’t stop and think how much I had declined.
I had this offense in my body and I kept belittling the importance. Everything around me was taking precedence over cancer within me and it was unnoticed. Family, activities, other health issues. It went on to the point that God had to bring a miracle into my life to bring it to light.

Now I know the cancer is there and I will fight. Now I will not sit back and let it be my normal.

This is our responsibility today concerning the racism that has taken root in our country from the beginning.
Some things improve and so we say it is no longer an issue,
or we see them as little issues (there is no ‘little’ concerning racism but some view it that way).
We don’t realize in our limited world experience that the cancer is still there under the surface growing bigger than our eyes can see.

Just because some of our issues regarding racism has improved, does not mean the evil behind it is not still very relevant and growing. It is a spirit that spreads from one heart to another, starting with what one would consider no big deal, taking root and becoming an even bigger disease.

The truth is, we can take care of this, one offense at a time, now that it is being identified fresh, and in the light in a new way (Black people have been screaming for revelation all along) but our eyes were hidden to the great attention this cancer needed. We were too busy with our own selves, our own goals, our own agendas to really see what was hidden. Especially when living in a predominantly white community I had no idea how my friends have been treated.

We were conditioned by other generations that there was no longer an issue. Some believe a word or stereotype is no big deal. But it is a very big deal. It is the beginning seed that grows into a ravishing disease.

Let us start by addressing the real enemy and not ignoring the things that we have adapted to be normal. It is not normal that ANY human being to be treated as or to feel less than or to fear for their safety due to any differences.
It is NOT normal or acceptable to be a part of that pain that is inflicted.

You may not be cancer, but you may be one of the symptoms that you have easily brushed away. Evaluate how you are going to attack this thing that has become our normal.

Will you slap a bandaid over it? Or will you stand up and be a part of the cure?

Help

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Help. Why has this word been so tainted? Why does the word “help” represent weakness to many instead of strength?

When you have exhausted all your own efforts and still banging your head against the wall, asking for help can move you into the greater faster. With help, there comes the opportunity for support and can often bring better results.

I have a vision of a giant city bridge. It is beautiful in structure. But without the support underneath that bridge, it will not stand and extend to fill the gap and do all that it was created for.

There are times I have been frustrated that help has not come. I have been the hamster on the wheel getting nowhere with all my efforts. I wonder, “why am I in this alone?” The answer is simple. I was in it all alone, because I didn’t bother to ask for help. I kept plugging along trying to figure it all out when some of the answers were not attainable to me.

It is wise to reach out for strong counsel when you need help. It is comforting and encouraging to reach out the God that created you to rest in the Lord’s promise that He comes to help in your time of need.
You can rise with confidence that you are not in this process alone. Help has arrived. Asking for help allows a deeper connection. It reveals our humanness. It leaves you with room to focus on the solution rather than the struggle.

I encourage you my friend, don’t walk in your struggles alone. When you have done all that you can do, ask for help to see you onto your best self. Ask the Lord to comfort you, encourage you, give you wisdom and open the doors to propel you on.

Think of the bridge again. This time we are thinking of a draw bridge that is open. You can make it part of the way, but you can not cross to the other side until the bridge is lowered and connected. You are on one side, standing it alone. Your hopes, dreams, and goals are waiting on the other side. Ask for help to connect your bridge.  Use the effort you have put in, and the effort, wisdom or support of another to fully arrive.

Along with resting in the Lord and His promise of help, sometimes He will use others.
Ask those around you for help. Look to a professional for help. But please stop trying to do it all on your own. Depression, isolation, and defeat is not a sign of strength, rather, it will take you longer to arrive (if you even do). And you may just have been striving for so long and hard that you show up too exhausted to enjoy the fruit of arrival.

Asking for help is not a weakness, in fact, it just may be the strongest thing you ever did in your life. I will start my mornings asking God to help me when morning dawns and I will not be moved in my strength!

A New Beginning

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As the evening comes to a close and the new year is beckoning, I am blessed to think upon new beginnings.
You see, most of my resolutions and dreams fell short this year. And while I can focus on all that I didn’t do or see, there was so much more that I did.
The wonderful truth is, there were other plans,  that I had not even set for myself, that took root and flourished. There were surprises and joys that blessed the dreamer in me at every turn!

So now, this coming year, I know to look ahead at the prospect of new beginnings, not with complacency but with expectancy. There will be 365 days available to accomplish much.
Yes, there are days that will end and we will wonder where they had gone and what we had done with them, but then there will be those days of the extraordinary. The days that take your very breath away and you think to yourself, 2020 you are awesome!

I am still setting those new year resolutions this year, not to be discouraged if I don’t meet them, but to be encouraged to strive. I was able to see what did not work and what did. I am able to learn from 365 days of the previous year and to know what I want the next 365 days to look like.  A fresh start, to dream and plan and pursue like never before. Each year I learn a little more of the truth, that the next beginning holds even more purpose than the last.

I have seen it written recently, here we go again, all the year-end resolutions being made, just to fail. The eye roll emoji follows. My heart feels a bit heavy for those that are not looking forward to their next with hope and vision. I was once right there with them.

But this year, this beginning is new. My mind is made up that any great thing can happen. The story is yet to be written. There are adventures to be had and amazing things to be seen.
So, I will be in the crowd that is singing as they ring in the new year and dreaming about what is yet to come.
2019 you were good enough for me, but I know there is so much better yet to be.
I have made mistakes and learned from them. I have set goals and been distracted from reaching them. I have had great losses and surprising gains. Yes, there were failures but let us not forget the victories. I can look back and say I am better for having known you.
But with expectations, I will shout, “Welcome 2020!”
 

 

 

Even If…

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These last few months the words resonating in my heart are, “Even If.”

We have had many changes in our life recently and I hate change. My body reacts even when I tell myself everything is fine and all the changes have been for a great purpose and plan.

One of those changes involved us leaving a church of the last five years and follow the Lord in His leading to our next. We knew that we were called but not the why, to our calling.
I told the Lord, even if I don’t have the answers, I will listen to your voice. So in faith, we stepped forward in the plan for our life.

Even though leaving the team of people we had grown to love hurt my heart, I had to obey what I knew to be true and serve my God and husband first. Even if it meant uncomfortable change and new people, a new place and a new level of finding my self in the midst of ministry, I had to say yes.
Even if it means admitting that I took on roles at our previous church that were not my own to take on, in order to try to fill up the restlessness within me.
Even if it meant stepping into a new realm of vulnerability. Even if.

I know there are many purposes for following the Lord in the Even If seasons of our life.
I know that God has done many amazing things in the last 4 months and He has not even touched the surface. But in this process, He has stirred a call I had felt at 15 years old in youth group. Life happened and the leading faded but was never gone. I had begun a collection of paintings in the last few months and titled them “Women of the World.” Little did I know I was painting the very call within my heart…
The call to serve with mission teams.

Here the thoughts would rise up as the stirring would come, but then so would the excuses. Most of which was linked to how I am doing in this season physically. But the thought would not leave that I was called to go and serve.
The stirring rose afresh as I sat with the new church congregation and heard about the heart of serving in Baja Mexico at the Door of Faith Orphanage.
I had every excuse, but the tugging kept coming.
We had no money in savings and the trip was coming fast. I have been in an unbelievable flare physically. We just received additional fees to add to a huge bill from hospital tests and then a few days before DHS sent a bill for overpayment when we were foster parents. This doesn’t account for all the other life needs on hold at the moment.
But mostly my heart I didn’t want to hurt over leaving the orphans and I felt as if I had nothing to offer.
I felt that with my physical limits Dan would have to go and he has absolutely told me over the years this was NOT his area of calling. All these thoughts and excuses rushing my head and I still felt my heart-tugging… EVEN IF. Even if there is no way, God can make the way. Even if there seemed to be too many obstacles, God is able to move those obstacles. Even if I have my doubts…HE is faithful despite them.

So I prayed. I said, God if you truly want me to move in faith as your word says, faith without works is dead, then I am going to be as Gideon and request that you show me without a doubt that it is you that I am hearing and not just my over compassionate mama heart.

These were my conditions as I spoke to the Lord:
I need Dan to go with me. I will not ask.
I need the leader to come to me directly who I have not yet met and tell me that He feels I am to join the team.
I need the provision.

Service was over and Dan leans to me and says, ” I feel like I may be called to go on the mission trip.” I kid you not my mouth about fell to the floor. I may even have laughed out loud. You have to know this is absolutely a tugging from God. He would have not been opened to the idea otherwise.
I was stopped by a friend and visiting after church. I looked over at Dan and He was talking to the leader. Dan called me over and as I was introduced, the team leader said, “God highlighted you to me, I feel you are called to go on this trip.” (paraphrasing as I can’t remember exact words). At this point, I knew and I just nodded my head and said as much.
Now we are waiting on provision and believing for the plan to unfold as we walk out the little hiccups of life in the planning process. The trip is coming fast!
With my lack of knowing where the funds would come from and a time crunch, we had started a go fund me even though I felt so foolish in doing so, I said again…Even If.
The fees for the passport came in first at the Go Fund Me site as well as the cost of plane tickets that were mailed to us. I saw how it was exactly what we needed when we needed it.
We are over halfway to our goal and I know the rest is already accounted for. We are praying for the paperwork we need to move forward will come quickly as Dan had to order his birth certificate before getting a passport. We are on a time crunch. But of course, God already knows this.

I am excited. I know there are many purposes for following the Lord’s leading. But I am still reminded to hold fast to those words… Even If… because often His call does not match my human understanding. Even If I don’t see it, I can rest assured that HE knows it. Even… If.

Jeremiah 29:11 – 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.

 

My 7 Truths to a Victory Mindset

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I remember the first time the lie that I was less than crept into my mind.
I remember the first time that my illness had begun to define me.
I remember the time that my husband was laid off and we lost everything.
I remember the loss of my father and the sick filling that he is really not on this earth that hits the pit of my stomach whenever a memory comes to the surface.

All these things and more at one point overwhelmed my mind and kept me swirling in discouragement.

Then one day I was awakened to the truth that I don’t have to let a thought of past hurts, discouragements or defeat be the focus of my mind. I realized I did not have to live in the swarm of messy thoughts. I could remember my promises in the midst of the noise. I have learned how to take steps to a victory mindset.

 

Here are the 7 truths to MY Victory Mindset:

  1. Feel the moment and move on
    I am not saying I never remember the hurts and broken moments. But I have learned to let myself feel the moment and acknowledge that it is painful.  Then I move on to truths that bring about victory.
    For example; if I wake up in a fibromyalgia flare of pain all over my body, instead of being defeated that I am in a flare and all the panic that had once overwhelmed me, I now remember the truths that I have victory over this. I will not stay in a flare. The flare gives me the chance to slow down. I take the time to let my self be frustrated, but I then I move on to victory mindset instead of discouragement.

    2. Fill my mind with the truth that brings life-
    Let’s be honest, sometimes life on this earth can be less than amazing.  But for me, life stays in the gutter longer if I focus on the mess rather than the blessed around me.
    When I am intentional to fill my mind with truths that bring life my whole atmosphere can shift.
    So what kind of truths can bring life when you are surrounded on all sides? How do you train your mind to have a victory mindset?
    I write encouraging affirmations and keep them where I will see them. On note cards or post-it notes. I take the time to remember what I can do, what I have accomplished or my dreams and desires. When a negative thought comes if it is not something that needs addressing I will immediately replace it with a positive thought. If I don’t have my own positive thoughts at the moment I remember other peoples victories. Or I remember my simple victories no matter how small they may seem, even getting out of bed some days is a victory and I can be thankful for it!

    3. Speak the life instead of the mess-
        Oh, boy how this one has been a lesson! I am still having to work on making it a habit of speaking life around me rather than speaking about all the junk I am going through all the time. People will avoid you when all you have to talk about is your mess. I have learned this the hard way and it made my struggles worse to feel so alone. In the season of mess talking, I was trying to explain why I was limited because you can’t always see when I am ill, or I would vent my hurts because I wasn’t sure how to process them. But when the mess became all I saw it became all I talked about. How fun I was to be around… NOT.
    I want to be an encourager. I want to be one that speaks words that encourage and lift up. This may take practice but it can be done. It starts in doing until it becomes your habit. When I have nothing positive to say, I can start by speaking about what I WANT to see. I can prophesy my victory mindset. 

    Prophesy means to pronounce.
    Prophesy your Promise: is a great listen at the end of the post!

    4. Be aware of your influences around you-
    Just as it is important to be aware of your own speaking. It is important to be aware of the words and attitudes of those around you. Let’s face it there are times you may not be able to change your atmosphere. You may not be able to move, or change jobs, or leave a situation that is overwhelmingly negative. But you can be aware of the influence, and when that atmosphere has become draining, put more efforts into your own victory mindset. If you are in an atmosphere that is constantly negative, unhealthy and destructive and you do have the ability to change it, then change may just be necessary for your best mindset.  Surround yourself with people that encourage, lift you up and inspire.

     

    5. Speak life into others-
    One of the biggest tools in my toolbelt for victorious mindset has been to speak life and encouragement into other peoples lives. For me, it was easier to believe great things for others and it was easier to see their worth. By speaking into their lives not only am I speaking the truth and blessed to encourage them, but I also begin to hear back that I too am worth such thoughts and blessings. To see a shift in their day brings victory to my own mindset.

    6. Invest in Spiritual Health-
    I can not emphasize this one enough. I was born to spend time with the Lord. When I forsake that part of me, I just do not function mentally the same way. I get discouraged, frustrated and deflated so quickly. It is much harder for me to walk in the truth of victory when I am not reminding myself of all that has been gifted to me. I find new hope, dreams and fresh vision after my time with prayer, worship and reading the word. This is my must for a victory mindset.

    7. GET TO DOING-
    Ultimately this is the most important aspect to walking in a victory mindset. To be victorious you must take action. You will not achieve anything by staying in the negative, staying in the same old position and making no changes. You want to find those things that bring about life for you and then do them!
    Serve others, find your dreams and interests, take the time to practice your victory mindset. Start with just one consistent action a day, and then add more as you have made that one a habit.  Taking action will propel you forward to living in victory instead of shadowed with defeat.

    This is what has helped me become blessed instead of focusing on the mess. I encourage you, my friend, to share with others what has helped you.
    Feel free to leave a comment on your victories!!

    Prophesy means to pronounce. Get to pronouncing LIFE
    Prophesy your Promise by Bryan and Katie Torwalt

     

Discontent? Perhaps its time to Disconnect!

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My husband is most often a happy go lucky encourager. It isn’t very often that he becomes cloudy and in the dumps. So I asked him the other day if his emotions come in waves at all like the hormonal mad woman that I can be at times lately. I asked if he feels discontent and just doesn’t show it. He thought for a moment and his answer resonated with me.

He said, “I feel a quick rise in frustration or joy when things in life happen. I get mad when someone cuts me off in work traffic or a customer comes at me in ignorance. It is a moment and fades. But you know, what really gets to my emotions is the posts on social media. I have to be mindful to not spend much time on the negative junk that is posted. I can rise in anger at injustice or politics. I can sink in the dumps when I see what others have where I lack in talent or luxuries. I can feel unmotivated when others are doing what I want to be doing but don’t know how or feel I can’t leave my profession. A lot is to be said about what your thoughts are on. Until social media, I was a lot easier going than I am now if I let the junk in.”

I too have felt this very thing. It starts as a little stirring of discontent. Perhaps as you scroll you see someone far more talented than you see yourself. You compare and your brain begins to scramble with all the thoughts of how you can improve or how you can measure up, or even how you just can’t. Then you see a political post that you are the polar opposite of and you grow frustrated how far one way or the other politics has swung. Your mind is filled with even more scramble and emotions.
Maybe you make an innocent comment on a post and you are attacked with bullies hitting you in very personal ways. Add more scramble and discontent. Then you disconnect from those that are around you.
If you are unmotivated and discontent in your creativity perhaps you need to disconnect from comparison and seeing what everyone else is doing.
If attitudes you hear and read are affecting your own attitude, disconnect from the ugliness. The onslaught of thoughts can be so overpowering, the mind becomes scrambled and what is truly important can be tangled in the mess. Perhaps the rise of depression is linked to time spent online and not face to face with others, or tangible creative opportunities and living life without the screen in your way.

Maybe the solution for discontentment is to disconnect from social media outlets for a season, or online gaming. If you are just not resonating and connecting to people that are around you in the flesh it is important to see what is in your way. I saw a little girl crying and completely upset and her mother doing nothing more than scrolling her phone and pushing her child away. Another little boy fell and hit his head hard, and the mother had a very little reaction for her hurting child. We have to disconnect in alarming ways! We are not hearing the heart of others. We are not regulating our own emotions.

Social media, as a tool for marketing business or connecting with people, is great. But when seeds of discontent begin to be planted and the more you submerge into the cyber world the more discontent you can become, It can pour out into the attitude and emotions in the life around you. It is time to disconnect from the source of death and to reconnect with life-giving resources.

I ask you to listen to the words of wisdom of my love. If you are feeling disconnected or ‘off’ or if you are feeling more temperamental then perhaps look at how much time you are spending with screen time outlets as your social connection. Maybe it is time to disconnect from that screen and connect face to face.

Hope

44360648_10217396586811621_7015477418978705408_o Instagram:  awakened_arts

Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How do I hope when I am surrounded on all sides? When the darkness comes in and clouds my mind. I am tempted to succumb to my weakness and lack rather than rising in His strength. How do I overcome? It is not by might, but by His spirit. It is connecting to Him in Spirit by praise and worship. It is in surrender, for in losing my old self, He clothes me with new life. And so…

When HOPE and EXPECTATION rise in my spirit fear, anger, hurt, insecurity and all forms of darkness are shaken out of my sites. Joy and peace become my covering.
Trusting in the Lord is the key to my hope.

I will sing of His wondrous love that saved me from my self.
I will rejoice in His overwhelming grace that covers all my shortcomings.
I praise Him in the morning, His mercies are new each day.
I take my eyes off of my moment and look to my helper, my comfort, my strength.
My moment will pass, but He is ever constant, faithful with every breath I take.
A keeper of promises.
A healer of disease.
Mighty fortress in times of trouble.
Provider for my needs.
The Hope will rise and overflow from my soul.
For the God of all Hope has said it will be so.

With Everything~ Worship song for my day