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?

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, but until then: Seven steps to peace.

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We are getting into our sunny season around here and I couldn’t be any more thrilled. But, I have to admit with COVID-19 orders to stay in, I could get a little discouraged that the sun is finally here again, and I have to wait for the trips to the zoo, parks, waterfalls, mountains and ocean.

When I was little, my aunt would sing to me the lyrics of Annie’s famous song,
The Sun will come out tomorrow. 
Living in months of rainy Oregon weather every year, I have to admit I still absolutely love that song! I will sing it often to cheer myself on a cloudy day. Especially when despite the situations outside, my heart may be feeling a little damp and not so sunny.

Sometimes I have to just shrug off the situations in my life and say, oh well, the sun will come out tomorrow. Otherwise, things can go from gloomy to worse, quickly. And most assuredly the situation always changes, and often looking back I can be thankful how I have grown and that this too was survived. Life is ever-changing and the sun truly does come out tomorrow. Oh maybe not today’s tomorrow, but some days tomorrow.
Until we see the sun come out in our lives, both figuratively and literally, there are seven steps to peace that I try to follow these days. I find even in the darkest gloomiest seasons, I can often find a bit of sun after all.

Seven Steps to Peace

1. Ask yourself if the situation is truly dark as it seems. Is there any opportunity for the good within the circumstances to be seen? Look for even a glimmer of hope in the most hopeless of days. When you find it, hold on tight.

2. There is true wisdom in the words, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Evaluate what is worth the energy to keep you from peace. If it truly is not worth it, don’t give in to it. It is okay to let the small things go.

3. Sing Baby Sing! Music truly is an opportunity to bring about peace. Find some music that stirs up your peace, or joy, or a little sunshine on a cloudy day and sing along.
Or if you are more into grooving, dance along to that favorite tune. My favorite worship leader would always remind me, with praise and thanksgiving, give a shout of triumph unto the Lord. Oh, how it is hard to stay in turmoil with praise on your lips!

4. Meditate. The scriptures tell us to meditate on the word of God. Meditate (think upon) His word and promises. Think upon whatever is good, right and brings honor to His name.

5. Walk away. If you are dealing with toxic people that are robbing you of peace, and you are able to, walk away. Nothing is worth the damage that constant turmoil brings your life from a situation that is unhealthy. If it is a situation that you just can not walk away from, seek some wise counsel on how to best maintain your peace and handle a toxic situation/relationship.

6.  Be mindful to not pick up someone else’s anger, frustration, anxiety or self-righteousness over a situation. I have been peaceful and joyful and walked into a room of grumbling and complaining and picked up the very same attitude. Likewise I am positive that I have changed atmospheres with my own negative mindsets. Now I am learning to take the time to breathe, slow down and think of a way to encourage in a frustrating situation, rather than becoming a part of the problem.

7. Write it down. We are human and we are going to go through battles that sometimes are too big to think away, sing away or hope away. But I have found writing all the good, the bad and the ugly down in my situation, often turns into my prayer, and not only helps me put things in perspective but releases the pressures building up in me when it is all just too much. Often when I get to the end of my writing, I will begin to see the situation with a new lens and gain ideas to best equip me in the battle ahead. I also have found that keeping it all down, leads to testimonies when the sun shines and it has all worked itself out in the end.

You see, the rains come. The storms of life hit hard. But eventually, the darkness rolls away and hope shines again. The sun will come out. My hope is we can avoid being a soggy mess when it arrives. But instead being the strong tree, with the roots that run deep. Still standing tall at the end of it all. Ready to glisten in the shimmer of goodness as the light once again shines.

Loneliness: Call Me

 

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Awakened Arts: Call Me Anytime

 

Sometimes the damage of rejection can have roots that run deep. I have had seasons of extreme loneliness. Many times, it had been a lingering feeling of not having a place in the world. The mind can play games when you have a lot of time on your hands. The silence can be your biggest enemy.

Often my loneliness had been my own making. I have hurt others by canceling plans due to my illness. I understand their frustration, it would break my heart to cancel and the lies start wreaking havoc about my worth. So then I would not make plans, and the invites never came.
Also,  I am not one to love talking on the phone, in fact I cringe at the thought. I get anxious about the onslaught of sensory overload that inevitably follows phone conversations. My form of communication is writing, or time together, but not everyone works the same way.

Society teaches us to not invite ourselves. And I have done the inviting more times than I can count, only to sit back and watch everyone else gather time and again without an invite. I have traveled 8 hours twice to go spend time with a friend, only to have them unable to go 10 min out of their way to come see me when we were in the same town, they rather take a picture of a building (their bucket list item), than allowing a few minutes for a quick hello and hug as they passed through. It has hurt extremely deeply. And the enemy would use these moments to attack, the remembrance that others didn’t want me, and actually preferred I didn’t exist at all, would ring loud in my head after every new rejection.

There have been times I even voiced my loneliness to others, to only receive empty stares back at me or a nod of understanding but then weeks of silence followed. Even if I was unable to do, the invite would have been a treasure.

I have beaten myself up with lies that I am unlovely and unwanted.  I surely must be annoying or boring or any other ‘thing’ that would keep others uninterested in spending time with me by their own choice, would fill my head.

I even ordered a book titled: Uninvited- Lysa Terkeurst which I have yet to read as I lost it in some transitions.

Imagine my surprise, when a friend heard my words, “I am lonely”, and acted on them. She heard my cry and invited me to coffee.
She shared her own seasons of loneliness. And admitted that the Lord told her if you are lonely do something about it. This truth touched my very core.
I had been letting the enemy lie to me so much I stopped reaching out. I was waiting for everyone else to notice me, in a world where sometimes, this just does not happen.
To see someone so charismatic, beautiful, fun, well-loved, talented, gifted and all other things lovely, to deal with being lonely was a shock to me.

It was a few days later the Lord had revealed a life-giving truth to me.  When loneliness rises up, it is often a tugging and call from the Lord.
He wants to spend time with us. Loving and healing us through our inner hurts. He wants the opportunity to sit in His presence. It is in those moments with Him that I have been given hope, peace, joy, healing, and revelations. It is in those moments that I discovered my identity. I discovered that I am wanted. My pain has melted away and new life rises up.
When I get so wrapped up in the fact that I am sitting in silence and the invites are not coming, I miss the most important invite of all. He tells me I can call anytime. He is there and faithful to seek us out. To draw us near. And meet us right where we are at.

One of my favorite scriptures ‘rings’ so true at this moment.
Jeremiah 33:3-  Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.  

We are now in a season where loneliness is knocking on our doors. We can not reach out and gather the way many of us value. We can’t busy our thoughts of isolation away. It is the forefront in our mind.

I want to encourage you this day my friend. Call to the Lord, ask Him what new treasure He may have for you. What hidden truths does He want to bring to light? How can only He fill the innermost needs in your life that are missing?

The time will come, we can be busy, social and all the good things fellowship brings. This is a time to call on Him, like never before. There are so many great things to discover.

I am spending time today…. just calling…listening and enjoying.
Here is a song to enjoy in the journey. Call Me 

 

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!”
 

 

 

Painful

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Tearing away from old habits can be uncomfortable and even flat out painful.

In my search for a healthier life both physically and spiritually, I have had to cut away people and things that I held on to for comfort that was not healthy for me. In fact, it was painful to let the very people go that were in the long term hurting me far greater than I had known. I cried and I prayed, I missed and wanted to reach out, but these relationships were causing a dependency in my life that was not healthy, for I held the opinions and attention of those people, much higher than I ever should have.

I’ve had to let go of medications that had side effects far greater than their worth, but I had formed a dependency on them after 10 years.  When I stopped taking them, I thought my skin was crawling and my legs were so restless. I had chills and cramping and the reason I took these medications was for pain, and the pain came flooding back in an assault as I was withdrawing. The experience was absolutely painful and the craving to just cover it all up was strong.

Most recently I am having to change my diet (again). I have tried this numerous times but old habits are hard to break and for me, indulgence in food has become one of the hardest. This is very much an uncomfortable process and even at times painful. I am overweight and have diet sensitivities. But man I crave all the wrong things and my emotions are attached to those cravings!
I know I must make a change now before my abilities decrease even more physically. I know when the hard part is over and I have adjusted I feel better mentally and have benefits that far outweigh that cookie or frosting. I must fight all the urges just like anyone else making any lifestyle change. Making a change for the betterment of our life is often uncomfortable in the least, if not outright painful.

I need to build my stamina, I need to regain my physical strength and endurance. I already know from past attempts, this is painful. It is not easy. It is work. My body fights me and one day of working five minutes can hurt for three days. Recovery time, I think to myself, recover from what? What did I really accomplish? But I know, those five minutes can turn into fifteen minutes, then a half an hour, then an hour. I just have to get over the flesh desire to always be comfortable.

And I ask myself, how can I believe for my healing, and continue to do all the wrong things? My very treasure of health is being robbed, and I am absolutely allowing it to happen.
Proverbs 25:28- A  man without self-control, is like a city broken into and left without walls. 


The reward of growth with disciplined lifestyle is far greater than any of the pain that must be walked through. The uncomfortable is a moment but the rewards can be lifelong. Healing, strength, peace, joy and so much more can come from the practice of being disciplined and seeking your best health above all unhealthy habits, despite the painful process.

What have you been fighting because you are afraid or unwilling to go through a period of being uncomfortable? Will you consider that it is time for the best and the uncomfortable will not last forever? Or will you continue to sit in sickness or an unhealthy situation and lifestyle choices because it is not worth the painful process to have better?

I am seriously speaking to my self in this situation. Even now I am craving a candy bar like no one’s business and I am hungry to my core following my recommended calories. I would love to slather a piece of sourdough bread with butter and stuff my face. I know in the past I have tried and failed and tried again.
BUT…

Today, I am choosing one more time to be self-disciplined. Today I am choosing a better life even in my moment of uncomfortable. Tomorrow, I will face the painful workout again even when this body wants to fight me. Because I know that with each victory I gain strength. No longer a slave to the painful, but an overcomer in the uncomfortable. I will not fear, I will not worry and I will not give in to defeat before I have even tried.

Perhaps you have something that needs to be changed in your life. Perhaps you have some things you need to let go of that you hold dear. Patterns, habits, and comforts that are more hurtful than life-giving. It is time to walk through the painful and uncomfortable moments to obtain your best physical and spiritual health, so that not only can you live victoriously but be the most impactful.

 

 

 

 

 

Unwavering Part 2

You have faith in your GPS. You put in your destination with a confidence that your GPS will get you to your desired location. Even after that one time your GPS took you on a trek into the unknown and rerouted you over and over only to end up in the middle of a suburban neighborhood and not the desired hip restaraunt you were hoping for, the very next journey you still trusted that GPS  and entered your desired destination point again. You hoped in that GPS to do what was required of it. 

As I was writing part one of unwavering, the words unwavering faith kept resonating in my spirit and I decided to dive deeper into that topic. Through prayer and study, God pointed out to me how quickly we trust in things, other people and even ourselves, but how do we trust God in the same way?
God calls us to have faith in Him.

Mark 11:22- And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.”

The Greek word for faith is Pistis meaning trust, to believe, have faith or rely upon.

Let us look at the word unwavering: Steady or resolute- fixed, firm, constant, steadfast, enduring, abiding, unyielding, relentless, tireless.

I am one that must admit I have walked with Jesus as my savior since childhood, but I have not walked in unshakable faith. My doubts through crisis have risen up often.
So how do I continue to walk with Him when my doubts rise?
The answer I believe is to keep walking it out. Rely on Him, even when doubts try to rise. Believe in Him even when I do not see the results that I think I should see.

Unwavering means to be fixed, firm and constant, can’t that apply to our actions as well as our thoughts?  Even when I doubt with my thoughts, my heart is fixed on Him. I am firm in my belief that I can go to Him. I am constant in my cry out to Him. 

It IS okay to ask the Lord to help our unbelief. The very act of asking puts our faith into action. We are trusting Him to answer us. 

Mark 9: 23-24 Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Just like the GPS gives us instructions and we follow those instructions to get to our desired location. The Father gives us instructions to remain in Him. He teaches us how to walk, how to abide, how to grow, and how to reach our final destination (heaven). 

We can not please God without faith. 
Hebrews 11:6- And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Faith is the requirement to walk with God, for in order to walk with Him we must trust in who He is,  we must believe in Him. His word is true and all that is written in the word is for our benefit. 

My final thought concerning unwavering faith is that faith is a choice. You consciously decide that you will believe in something or someone. 

 In my personal situation, my faith in God is absolutely merited. I have seen His work, I have experienced His comfort, His miracles, I have the very breath of His life in me.

Persistence is the key to walking out my faith and remaining in Him.
Luke 21:19- By your endurance, you will gain your lives.

So today I leave us with this… let us walk it out…Steady, resolute, fixed, constant, steadfast, enduring, abiding, unyielding, relentless and tireless.
Give a listen: Faith

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Unwavering Part 1

Blog- Unwavering (1)

When I was a small child, I had a teacher write on my report card; “She is like a butterfly, flitting from flower to flower.”
For years, I looked at that as a positive, seeing a beautiful butterfly gracing everything with her presence as she touched her soft wings to it.

I laugh at this memory as I still dance around with my head in the clouds and a song in my heart.

However, self-evaluation recently allowed me to see myself with a teacher’s eyes.
She was saying in a polite way, ” I wish your child would land and complete her tasks before moving on to the next.”

There are times, I jump on my dream entirely too early. Then I get discouraged and I move on to something else. This is something I have known about myself always. I dream it way before it is time.

There is a treasure in knowing when you do not see fruit because you are planting on unhealthy soil and when your fruit just hasn’t bloomed yet.

I have sat alone in an empty building wanting to share my heart for joy in the mess, to other ladies and week after week for six weeks nobody came, my heart was broken so I gave up working in women’s ministry, even though that holds a huge part of my heart.
God will put a dream in my heart and I will jump on it, without preparing myself for the fact that it may look completely different than what I am believing for.

Out of insecurities and preservation, I move on. When I see no fruit with my own eyes, I give up.

But what if I had waited one more week, maybe someone that needed to hear how to ease anxiety and obtain joy would have walked through those doors.
Or perhaps, just by being willing and diligent I would have unlocked something new in the journey I had yet to see.

I have been writing this blog for some time, this is the most diligent work I have ever practiced in my life ( besides worship team), this is the only time I have remained unwavering. Yet, I was ready to pull the plug recently. I feel my ministry within this blog is non-existent as I can’t see it, and I ask the Lord, “Why do I continue this work if I don’t get anywhere?”

The Lord gently reminded me, “this blog is for you, and the work I am doing in you that is not complete. Keep being faithful, remain unwavering with this one.”

God has made promises to me. If you are listening he has promises for you. He has called us to remain faithful. Keep pursuing, keep hoping, be unwavering in your pursuit.

What dreams do you need to pursue and hold tightly to?
Even if it does not look like we expect, If He has called you to it, He is faithful to make sure you reap your harvest!

His faithfulness is unwavering. He knows the plans, the purposes and if He has placed a work for you in your heart, keep at it, don’t let the DREAMS flitter away.

 

 

Living in Thanksgiving

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We are getting ready to move from a home that has been a sanctuary in a dark time in our lives. The property around us is beautiful and we will be moving into town, where our views will not be acres of trees and greenery. I had always wanted to stay in one location and raise my children. We lost our home in the fall of the economy and this rental was our Godsend at just the right time and we have been able to spend the last six years here. So many great memories but the newest chapter of our lives as empty nesters has us moving.
It is in this transition that the Lord has shaken me in new ways to live in thankfulness.
He has me focusing not on what we ware leaving behind, but to be thankful in all that we are gaining.
Many times in the transition of life, I have looked at the have not’s instead of the what I have.
We are called to thank the Lord in all circumstances. When we walk out our lives living in thanksgiving, we walk in the plan of joy for our lives. Our sites are on all we have and not what we lack.
What if instead of a well of thanks for the big things in life, we walk in a well of thanks for everything in our life, big and little?
I can choose to rise each morning with thankfulness on my lips or walk in the negative.
It begins with the heart change. For out of our hearts our mouth will speak.
I want to be living in thanksgiving, not just a moment but a lifestyle.
I will rise and know I am blessed.
He is worthy of my thankful heart!
It is in the walking in it, that it becomes my everyday.
Living in Thanksgiving will become my habit, not my moment.

Thank you Jesus : Worship Song

Hope

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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

 

 

Truth or just a Moment?

 

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In this season of rest, God has sweetly reminded me to look at the emotions that have plagued my every day.

Depression can cause such harsh, empty, hurtful thoughts. When in the midst of it all, we can begin to believe those thoughts. My spirit stirs to evaluate the thought that crosses my mind as it hits my heart and I can feel it in my gut. Is this thought truth or an emotion of the moment?

The enemy wants nothing more than to bog me down in my own thoughts. If he can hold me down with a lie and stir my emotions of despair, he has victory.

How can I know if a thought is a truth or just an emotion of the moment?

I must evaluate the thought according to what God’s word says about my situation or about me. I must look at the feelings that are stirring within me from a thought and ask, “do they bring despair or hope? Death or life?”

When God’s truth has the chance to minister to my emotion, my mind begins to line up with His truth as well. The hurtful emotion at the moment begins to clear and my mind is free to focus on what the Lord has on hand for me to accomplish rather than focusing on feelings of defeat.

I may not be an amazing artist, but I am HIS artist to use as He will.

I may not be the best singer, but I am HIS worshiper to use as He will.

I may not be the most beautiful, but I am HIS daughter and made in HIS image

I may not be the life of the party, but I am HIS companion and I hear His voice.
See how this works?  Look at the lie, identify it and address it with the truth.
Hey even if the thought has some truth in it I need to ask myself, “what is the truer truth?”

Go on, start asking yourself is this truth or the emotion of a moment?
You will begin to see light in the midst of darkness.

Psalm 25:5-

Guide me in your truth and teach me, For you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long.