Friday, December 30, 2016

GIVE THEM WONDER


We packed away the final ornament and as soon as I turned my back, I heard the attic door slam and my heart deflated a little.

The older I get, the more faded the details from my past – the depth of time between now and then slowly dissolving details that were once clear. Like classmates’ names, birthday parties, the expansive layout of our ranch-style home in Oak Forrest. But there are memories that still stand solid – so precious, they have withstood the test of time, molded with the same magic and awe that accompanied them many years ago.

I remember every Christmas.

There weren't lists of meaningful family traditions per se, but I remember feeling like I was lit from within at Christmastime. I felt extra tucked-in. Safe. Warm. It was the best of everything.

Being a parent myself, I realize just how much work it must have been for my dad – hiding gifts, touring the neighborhood lights, visiting family, picking out a fresh cut tree and keeping it watered, and the deliberate effort of creating what he wanted me to feel -- special. He didn’t bake, decorate gingerbread men, or doll me up for professional photos with Santa. But still, it was special – not just for him, but for me. And that’s ink on the pages of both of our stories.

There’s a reason I remember childhood Christmases so vividly and hold a candle to them as well. Those storybook memories hold the broken ones together – like the year my mother died, when we lost every penny we had to theft, or the times things didn’t make much sense – but they carved deep grooves in my character. They etched the great worth of family, friends, and good health into my soul.

December continues to open the wardrobe door to a magical other world. The very essence of childhood – a sense of wonder, imagination, the innocent belief in possibility, creativity – so many of the things that gradually wane with age are always at their prime this time of year.

I want my kids to somehow experience that intangible feeling that something special is underway. I'm both desperate for it and I hate it. I fight the shine even as I fork over money for new stuff – toys, toys toys, and a fancy vacuum system with its own remote control.

I tell myself we'll lounge around and eat like kings, or maybe like the judges on Master Chef. I categorize a three-columned grocery list and burn a three-wick candle. I bake things. I buy a new puzzle. I build gingerbread houses with a 2- and 5-year old and pretend it's not frustrating at all.

I am writing their books. And while they might not remember the designer painted walls of their nursery or the framed art that hangs across from the crib, I am doing everything possible to ensure they’ll remember the magic and wonder of traditions that draw us closer – a time of year that finishes the common stitches of our everyday memories with fine handiwork and colorful thread that won’t be forgotten.

We are the author of their storybook, moms and dads, writing memories and elements of their character every day. Make it meaningful. Give them wonder. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

DEFY GRAVITY


What a ride it has been! Within days, the new year will come and in review of 2016, my experience has been filled with new faces, strangers turned into friends, facing fears, personal challenges, overcoming mountains...literally and figuratively, exploration, long working hours and simple living.For all the moments of pure exhaustion, physically, creatively and emotionally, there are more moments of accomplishment, adventure and pure fun.

My theme going into the next year is "defy gravity"...overcome the weight of everything that brings us down. Whether that be our circumstances, other individuals, our personal flaws and challenges, we can lighten that load through understanding, acceptance, forgiveness and a whole lotta faith. Our hearts may break and trust may be severed, but the true test is how we handle each situation and overcome them. One thing I have quickly learned from arriving at this crossroads was truly dealing with the extra weight in my little heart that I have carried with me. It may have hindered some healing and made facing some personal or professional fears and challenges more difficult. As fast-paced as life can be, it actually has slowed down my mind enough to recognize the areas I have neglected in past years and give me some moments of clarity.

To do list:
forgive
explore new territory
give work my best effort
not just meet, but connect with new friends
heal
live a healthier lifestyle - spirit, mind and body
treat myself
go beyond the surface
be the best version of myself
reflect
overcome mountains
get a stronger mind and body
have fun
drink less coffee
put smiles on faces
lend a helping hand
open my heart
keep my mind open
do what I love and love what I do
learn
grow
eat more apples
have more adventures
get rid of the extra weight (figuratively and probably literally, too)
be myself
love myself
love others
challenge myself
accept others
and defy gravity.



Friday, December 23, 2016

TAME THE THINGS THAT KILL YOU



You can't tame the things that try to kill you. You have to kill them. To kill the root of a sin, ask God for the grace to do its opposite. Be cognizant of the places you lose this battle, and actively wage war against it. And you will thrive. 

Impatient? -- Choose the slowest line at the grocery store, the longest lane at the red light.
Lustful? -- Praise godly character. Resist the natural urge to chase after beauty and consume it. 
Greedy? -- Give things away. Set aside a portion of your income for a ministry or charity. 
Selfish? -- Ask how you can help others. Beat them to the "ask."
Idolatrous? -- Cut yourself off from the things that you worship. 
Prideful? -- Offer gratitude to God and others for what you've been given (but not in the Luke 18:11 sense). Weep with those who weep. 
Gluttonous? -- Fast. 
Gossiping? -- Speak kind words of / to others. Look for ways to praise your enemies. 

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." -- Phil 4:8




Monday, December 19, 2016

REDEEM THE THINGS I HATE



Every year Christmas is a weight around my neck. I begin the feel the downward pull into Holiday Dread around August. Panic sets in around mid-November. 

Not this time.

Over the past few years, I’ve set out to redeem the things I hate. The way it works is this: I’m miserable because I’m focused on myself instead of on the Gospel. So I ask God to help me focus on the Him and His Kingdom instead.

In my twenties, Valentine’s Day became the day I cooked and baked goodies for some of my single friends and delivered them as “The Valentine’s Fairy.” I loved it and need to start it back up! 

This year for Christmas, I’ve begun accumulating a list of places I can serve and help out. Our Bible study talks much and often about celebrating Jesus on His birthday and giving Him gifts. Reminding us that it's His birthday, not ours.

I’m looking for other people who have crappy Christmas situations (divorce, sickness, etc.) and I’m praying about ways to lighten their load and share some of the Father’s joy with them. It thrills me when I find a need like that and get to put it on my calendar.

What I’m finding is that the Gospel actually works. Not just to save people from hell, but to save me from the tyranny of myself. And perhaps you may think that’s selfish too. But the God I serve is loving and efficient enough to make the right thing bring joy. He’s beautiful like that.



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

THIS IS NOT A FOOD BLOG


i thought i'd be adventurous and make banana bread this last weekend. in doing so, i discovered something significant about myself...

it's safe to say, i'll never be a food blogger.

that's right. i'm fairly certain i'll never be the author of one of those chic food blogs with its dreamy photography that you love to visit and plan on following so much that, surely, it will magically turn you into the best chef you never imagined you could be... by sheer osmosis, if nothing else. nope. that's not me.

let me count the ways...

first, i'm just not a master at photographing the preparation of food, nor the final product. i either have to cook or photograph. i can't do both. it's the cold, hard fact that i'm learning to accept.

i look at some of these food blogs and think "how in the world do they do it?" as i picture them working magic all around their kitchen, camera in one hand, mixing spoon in the other, while everything else just falls into place all by itself... ingredients, picture-perfect work spaces, ambient lighting... all that stuff just does its own thing on its own... something like those various inanimate {in the real world} objects that dance around in the animated beauty and the beast story.

or... maybe these commoner-turned-pro cooks are hiring professional teams of photographers and stylists that make everything look like a feature spread in martha stewart living. i don't know.

i just know this. while my camera dials are getting covered in flour and oily finger prints, i take rushed, blurry photos, made even blurrier by the jiggling of my camera because i can't stop laughing when my kid{who said banana bread is for} walks through the room, sees me clicking away, and giggles to what he just witnessed ever-so-nonchalantly as he exits...


Sunday, December 11, 2016

BOOTIFULLEST







I'm the "bootifullest mama ever." My 5 year old told me that so it must be true.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

DECEMBER


December has always been special, well because DUH, but it feels extra special now, because it's halfway through my cancer treatment! I'm so incredibly thankful. 2016 was a time of renewal and rebuilding, and getting healthy, and I think 2017 is going to be about getting even healthier, new opportunities and endeavors. I'm ready. I said in a tweet a few months ago (and I think I say it every year, but this year I mean it) that I feel like, at 38 years old, I'm becoming who I'm truly meant to be - it's scary and sometimes painful, but also exciting and empowering. I don't have a whole lot figured out, but I do feel like I know so much more about myself than ever before. I've never felt more me, if that makes sense, and it feels good. I'm excited to see the lessons and adventures this new year brings.

I hope your December has been, and will continue to be, filled with goodness and joy and wonder and love. Thank you for supporting me this year, and all the years - you make my life sweet, I appreciate and honor your voices, and I adore all of you. Merry Christmas (Happy Hanukkah! And Kwanzaa! And all the holidays that you hold dear this season!) and have the very, very best New Year. xoxo.



Saturday, December 3, 2016

WAITING






We can’t hide behind the trees, the lights, the glitter of the superficial forever. For He has made everything beautiful in it’s time. The beauty we long for, but so often fail to see is not int the glitz but in the grit. It’s in the rock-bottom real of our hurting places that Christ came and is coming to make His home.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

LIKE JUICING BUT BETTER



As many of you know, I was diagnosed with cancer in July, underwent a bilateral mastectomy and am now journeying through chemotherapy. Upon my news, my dear friend delivered a bag of various Juice Plus+ chewable gummies. Upon receiving them, I tasted one and knew it would become part of my daily diet – they are THAT tasty!

I digress. If you’re anything like me, bad habits are hard to break, and I have struggled my whole life to remember to take vitamins and other supplements on a daily basis. They were often large capsules that aggravated my gag reflex, or tablets with a powdery after-taste. Who would look forward to that?! Juice Plus+ chewable gummies have become something I look forward to eating, and so do my children. So much so, I keep them hidden in a cupboard out of reach.


Juice Plus+ products have made all the difference for me. Just yesterday, my oncologist declared she has seen improvements in my labs, even though I’m being treated with chemo. While reviewing the numbers with me, she stated, “I can tell you’re doing something.” Secondly, we are a family of 6, and while ‘the ick’ was going around and back again in the passing weeks, I have miraculously remained healthy. Considering I am highly immune-compromised while going through chemotherapy, it simply reinforced my beliefs in the Juice Plus+ products.

As you’ve read, my journey from being a skeptic, to a believer, to a distributor of Juice Plus came about naturally. My story isn’t a sales pitch, but instead a passion. I have spent much of the last 5 months going through medical school so-to-speak, learning about cancer, nutrition, and the healing benefits of plants.

Did you know?!


I was introduced to Juice Plus simply because a friend heard I was sick and wanted me to try a supplement that was all natural and composed of whole foods, not chemicals. Prior, she never attempted to sell me, only help me. But me being me, I am all about facts, not opinions -- I researched the heck out of Juice Plus+ products. And to my surprise there are over 20 clinical studies on Juice Plus+ from great universities like Vanderbilt, Yale, University of Maryland, etc. In these studies, the results confirmed all the rave reviews. I learned it is NOT a supplement, but rather it’s a whole-foods-based nutrition product that contains 30 fruits and veggies in a capsule, shake or gummy, that are readily absorbed in your body to help bridge the gap of what fruits and veggies you are actually eating and what you should be eating.

I did not decide to become a distributor overnight. Quite frankly, I signed up with the intention of receiving discounts on my own orders, but I found myself raving about Juice Plus to people all the time. I genuinely want to help people be healthier, properly educated on nutrition and encourage healthier living. I want to hear similar health transformation stories of people in my community.

Visit my website to hear videos from experts and see the studies done on Juice plus.

Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more!

* For every adult order, your children receive the chewable gummies (up to 18 years of age) for free! To receive a discount (which helps pay for your own Juice Plus)


Sunday, November 27, 2016






NOVEMBER


In the midst of a few bad days, there were more days of joy, discovery, warmth, old friends, new friends and good food. You were a wonderful month. I feel more and more blessed every single day.

So, thank you November.





Saturday, November 26, 2016






I will never have the words to express what my people mean to me. The love is such a deep-gut love that I know I can never explain -- it's second nature.

Stay happy, friends!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

HAPPY THANKSGIVING






Thanksgiving isn't only a celebration when good things happen -- thanksgiving is a declaration that God is good no matter what happens." - Ann Voskamp

Happy Thanksgiving to you, my precious family and friends - thank you for being the warming sun to my soul!


***

Visit me over on Instagram!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

LIVING A LITTLE HEALTHIER | PART 3


I’ve come to a point in my life that I don’t think of vegetarians and vegans as “crazy hippies” or “wackos” anymore. I know right? I’m so mature now! Now I just see them as people wanting a different lifestyle for themselves. Most of them are just regular people making choices in their life just like the rest of us. Occasionally you’ll get the activist that throws paint on a fur coat … but every lifestyle has its extremists, right?

Since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve done a nose dive into nutrition. I have been, and continue to, research disease-fighting foods, people who have foregone pharmaceutical drugs and turned to nutrition for healing, and the difference in America’s food consumption compared to other countries, whose heart disease and cancer stats are minimal to none.

So, I’ve taken to the “vegan” challenge, an entirely plant-based diet. Consequently, my family is also eating a more plant-based diet. However, you’ll have to pry a tuna steak out of my husband’s cold, dead hands! We’ve been eating less meat and more quinoa over the years, so the concept of eating less meat and more plant-based foods hasn’t been an entirely foreign concept.

Now, whether you’re a carnivore, omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, etc., I think you owe it to yourself to make a conscious decision about what you eat. Understand and be aware of your food. You already try new foods, new recipes, and new restaurants from time-to-time. Therefore you’re already used to making yourself smarter about food. However, if you’re at all like me, you probably grew up on a “meat and potatoes” style diet. Classic meat protein as the central feature on the plate, likely a potato or other starch as the main side, and then maybe a secondary vegetable or salad to “round out the plate.”

Over the last few years, I thought I knew a lot about food in general. I’ve tried more fruits and vegetables in the last 10 years than I can ever remember doing in the past. In hindsight, I was so incredibly uneducated and likely so are you (no offense). Some of the documentaries I wanted are listed below. It’s enlightening and makes me feel more in charge of my own life. We all deserve that. So, do me (and yourself) a favor and start (or continue) your food education by watching these documentaries.


Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time.

Food, Inc. exposes America's industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers' rights. See the incredible film, learn about these issues and take action.

exposes shocking secrets the diet, weight loss and food industry don't want you to know about; deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more. Find out what's keeping you from having the body and health you deserve and how to escape the diet trap forever.

“Crazy Sexy Cancer, the documentary film I wrote and directed (and my loving husband edited), premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and then later aired on TLC and OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. In 2003, when I was a 31-year-old actress and photographer, I was diagnosed with a rare and incurable stage IV cancer. Weeks later I began filming my story. Taking a seemingly tragic situation and turning it into a creative expression, I share my cancer journey with courage, strength and lots of humor. This is truly where my mission, passion and work began…

As experimental treatment was my only option, I became determined to find answers where there were none. Traveling across the country and interviewing experts in alternative medicine, I dove headfirst into a fascinating and often hilarious holistic world. Along the way, I met other vivacious young women who were determined to become survivors and included them in my documentary. Their stories are as poignant and exciting as the women who tell them. As my journey progressed, I realized that healing is truly about living rather than fighting.

Crazy Sexy Cancer is more than a thought-provoking documentary; it’s an attitude! It’s about rising to the challenge of life and turning lemons into champagne.”

Food is better medicine than drugs.


Now wait, before you raise the meat shields and say it’s an attack on your lifestyle; it really isn’t. We learn about proteins, nutrition, factory farming, morality, and choices I need to make on my journey. It’s not an attack on anybody, it doesn’t say one way is right and another way wrong. But it does arm you with knowledge about what you put in your body. My theory is this: if you can’t go vegan, maybe you can become vegetarian. If you can’t be vegetarian, perhaps you can avoid red meats and opt for chicken and fish. Any step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. Ultimately, it’s about improving your health and that of your family, and hopefully minimizing the suffering of animals.

Getting cancer changed my lifestyle immediately. I began researching an alkaline cancer-fighting diet and found plant-based diets to be fairly comparable and not unrealistic. Plus, I have felt great. Strong, even after chemo! I’ve since had zero desire to eat meat and dairy products. Honestly, I look forward to my morning shakes, so much so, that I go to bed at night thinking about them and wake up thinking about them.

These studies have certainly made me more aware of where I will choose to get products from as well as how much I consume. Simply put, I’m making a conscious decision about my food and my health. Don’t you owe it to yourself to do the same?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

TAKE ME TO THE MOUNTAINS


After everything that's been going on lately, I sure could use a getaway. I'm craving mountain air and cozy cabins and snow in my hair and lots of exploring. I found these photos I took in Lake Tahoe ages ago, and they aren't helping.

Need. Mountains. Now.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

CANCER FRAUD


I’m not a survivor, I thought to myself. I only had cancer for like 5 minutes and they removed it. Surely you can’t class that as 'surviving.'

I mean, I was diagnosed with cancer in July, and my life flashed before me as my doctor spoke on the other end of the phone line.  I saw my children growing up. I saw myself growing old with my husband. I saw happy holidays. My kids having kids. Family time. And instead of that, I was going to die. I was dying. Or so I thought.

I broke the news to my family. And close friends. Drama ensued, tears, hugs and well wishes. We’d agreed that we’d fight it together…a team effort. And I was going to be a champion.

Then a few days later, I learned from my breast surgeon that I was actually going to live, if we acted on it. We simply needed to cut out the cancer, but to remove the tumor would mean removing most of my right breast. But if we leave my particular breast tissue behind, my cancer type has the highest rate of recurrence. Basically, if we’re being both active and proactive, we need to remove both breasts. I thought about it for all of 2 minutes and I was still okay with that scenario.

September came and went, surgery done. I had won. I was a champion. I had beaten cancer. 

And it was all just a bit easy really. And I felt a little bit guilty. For making a fuss about nothing. I’d rocked the world of everyone who loved me only to tell them a couple of months later that I’m ok. Nothing to see here.

I felt like a fraud.

I thought about other people in the world who actually have cancer. Like every day. Kids who are living with cancer. Proper cancer. Not the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ cancer that I had.

I thought about those who fought it for years to defeat it. Years. True survivors.

I wasn’t a survivor.

But then came treatment and my perspective changed on what it means to be a 'survivor.'

Despite reading up on the side effects and the vast education online and from my Oncology team, nothing could have prepared me for the harrowing toll of chemotherapy.

The sudden and shocking changes to my body.

The pain. Oh, the pain in my bones!

The roller coaster of emotions.

The burning in my hands and feet.

The hot flashes, the chills, the gasping of breath.

The too-awful-to-describe bathroom experiences.

And suddenly I don’t feel like a fraud anymore. I now feel like I have cancer. And sometimes I feel like I am dying.

I did have cancer and in reality, I didn’t cause a fuss about nothing. I’m dealing with a very real illness and it's sidekicks. The residual damage that cancer leaves with you – both the physical and the emotional – doesn’t go away immediately; I imagine that much of it sticks with you for a long while, possibly forever. It requires considerable effort and hard work to acknowledge the inevitable changes in life after cancer. And even more work to accept those changes.

I didn’t do any of that work at first. I didn’t accept any of the permanent changes coming my way. I didn’t even acknowledge that things had already changed. I honestly thought that things would just somehow magically go back to the way they were before.

But I persistently remind myself -- it could be worse. So much worse. Who needs body hair, breasts, sleep, comfort? I’m alive!


The difference between normal sick and cancer sick is that it ends pretty quickly and you bounce right back from it and usually forget about it a few days later. You’re not likely to be tortured with thoughts about that time you had the sniffles and took some cold and sinus pills. With chemo, all you have to do is recall the saline flush into your port, and you're nauseous all over again.
The past is still very visible in my rear view mirror, and the present staring at me, pressed right up against the windshield. I'm somewhere smack dab in the middle. At least I'm not at the beginning. The future truly is lookin’ pretty good from where I'm standing -- life after chemo. More joy than pain. More health than misfortune. More beauty than sorrow. More laughter than tears.
Except for the hot flashes.
Those can go to hell.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016






[Yawn] Rest easy tonight, friends! God has the night shift covered.






He has been avoiding naps lately. He says he "just can't nap." Killing me softly. 😩 I need a hug.



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

UNRELENTING LOVE


I have been a Christian for most of my life, yet some days it feels like I have just begun. There are days where I feel as if I’ve hardly moved forward, and days where I feel like I’m doing okay.

Then there are days where I mourn the fact that we are humans attempting to depict who Jesus is, and that none of us will ever get that right.

In no way, shape or form am I in a position to preach to anyone or judge anyone. And maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Ever. Maybe I’m too emotional or feel things too deeply. It’s true that I'm not a Biblical scholar or theologian, but I am a woman who loves Jesus deeply.

I believe that there is nothing we could say or do that could ruin us in the eyes of God. I believe that w are loved truly. Unconditionally. I believe there exists an overflow of grace, that is quite literally never ending. Humanity has a hard time with grace, but Jesus doesn’t.

A friend recently told me, “when you have been set free, you are free indeed. Your fear, your shame, your disappointment may return over time for a moment or two, but you don’t stay there and you don’t own that anymore.” I just kept nodding my head while tears welled up in my eyes.

This kind of love terrifies me, and not in a way where I feel threatened, but in the afresh recognition of both my finite smallness and His infinite grandeur. Of His strength, and His might, and His woo’ing, unrelenting love.






Sunday, November 6, 2016

ON SHARING STORIES AND CONTRIBUTING YOUR VOICE


Oh hey! I have some thoughts to share with you on this Sunday morning. 

One of my favorite things about this little space here, is the diverse group of people I have come to know. You are an eclectic, unique, beautiful tribe of people - from different cities, countries, cultures, religions, belief systems, and walks of life. I LOVE that. It's seriously so rad! And I am honored - absolutely honored - that you come here. You take time out of your days, your busy schedules, your free time (you could be napping!!), to say hello. To offer encouragement and love. To ask questions and start conversations. That is freaking humbling. You keep me open-minded, open-hearted, compassionate, and curious. Thank you for that.

I've discussed my faith and beliefs here before. And I love the response I've gotten. So accepting, so loving. You've embraced me wholeheartedly for who I am, even if you don't agree with it, and I can't thank you enough. I hope I've, in some tiny way, done the same for you. It's beautiful to witness your kindness. And isn't that how the world should be? Understanding that we're all wonderful and worthy and different, and loving each other in those differences. If the world was more like all of you, whoa. It would be incredible. I want a world like that.

The truth is - I have a lot more to say and share. (I have a post coming this week about faith and women's equality) I have so much that is in my heart and on my mind. So much that I wrestle with on a daily basis, and so much that I am constantly questioning. My beliefs, while always growing and progressing, are important to me. My faith is part of who I am. I want to share freely and be straightforward. I just have so much to say and a lot of feels!

With that said, I also don't want to alienate people who believe differently. I want to respect that, and honor that. I always want to honor you, just like you honor me. It's a two-way street. My heart would break in half if someone felt excluded. So what's the balance? I really don't know, to be honest. I understand that this is my space and I should just say whatever I want! But... no. It's more than that. This has become a gathering place for my friends, old and new. And that means something to me. I want all of you to feel comfortable and valued - even if you feel differently about something. Because no one's opinion is more important. All of our voices matter. (I feel like I say a variation of that ALL the time and you're probably like OH my gosh  will you shut up about it for two seconds but it is truth and I will say it forever!) 

Anyway. All of that to say - when I do share things, particularly regarding my faith and beliefs, I am not trying to exclude anyone. I'm just telling my story. What I've experienced. What I've gone through. Maybe it'll help someone, or make them feel like they're not alone. Or maybe it will do nothing but sit in the void. (I'm starting to sound like Kathleen Kelly. But you guys, all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings!! AND I'm done)

Maybe, just maybe, you'll share your story and contribute your voice, too. I would love that. Just know that you are respected, and you are always welcome here. 

xo. 






Tuesday, November 1, 2016

IT GAVE ME MORE THAN IT TOOK


There are logic-defying emotions associated with cancer. They can't be defended or dissuaded, they have to be felt and slowly evolve. In the beginning of this journey, I never verbalized it, but I blamed myself. Clearly, I wasn't a good enough person. I must have caused it. Maybe even deserved it.

Though my cancer journey is nowhere near it's end, it's near healed me in ways I didn't know needed healing. This cancer experience of mine has become penance. Penance for what I've failed to do, for my feelings, for my thoughts. It has given me insight into others -- their fear, their suffrage, their isolation, their pain, their brokenness, their shame, their guilt, their embarrassment.

It allowed me to dig deep within myself. It allowed me to see the raw and stripped down me. It's taught me a priceless lesson -- one I somewhat always believed true, but now feel deep in the bellows of my soul -- external beauty holds no true value. Before, I never truly grasped how valuable I was beyond my physical until my external beauty abandoned me nearly overnight.

Events happen in life, not because we deserve them. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people...all day, every day. We can't control the things that happen but by accepting them as they are, we can swim across them with greater ease because the Lord is our strength, and we are not required to be dragged down by their weight.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise Him." Psalm 28:7

We are divine because we are made by the Divine. We are extraordinary because we were created by the Extraordinary. We are love because we were made in His image and He is the epitome of love. We lack for nothing because we were given everything.

My cancer experience actually gave me more than it took, and allowed God to heal me in places I never could have reached on my own. 



Saturday, October 29, 2016






We have not been forgotten. God isn’t ignoring our needs or waiting for us to be perfect before He answers our prayers. Instead He’s working out His plans for us long before we ever catch a glimpse of what He’s doing. Even when we can’t see His hands, we can still trust His heart.

DIY LOLLIPOP GHOSTS


Need a quick yet cute Halloween treat? These lollipop ghosts are fun for little hands to play with, only to find more surprise under wraps!

DIY LOLLIPOP GHOSTS

MATERIALS
  • kleenex (preferably square) 
  • any color ribbon
  • black marker
  • lollipops (Blow Pop or Tootsie Pop size works best)


Friday, October 28, 2016

DIY CANDY-FILLED HALLOWEEN BATS


These easy-to-assemble bats were a big hit at preschool today! I just so happen to collect random household items for craft projects like this one, and had a bag of toilet paper rolls needing a purpose. Paper towel rolls work also; just cut them in half with a bread knife. Any way you do it, you're reusing, recycling, re-purposing!

DIY CANDY-FILLED HALLOWEEN BATS

TOOLS
  • paintbrush 
  • scissors 

MATERIALS
  • toilet paper/paper towel rolls 
  • black paint (I chose washable black paint so that my 5-year old could help) 
  • black construction paper 
  • googly eyes 
  • glue 
  • candy (I used Starburst)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

LIVING A LITTLE HEALTHIER SERIES | BABY STEPS


Though it’s absolutely horrifying the amount of chemicals we’re exposed to on a daily basis, and no matter how much I’d like to eradicate that exposure for the sake of my family’s health, it can’t be done overnight. Baby steps. (Big baby steps preferably).

I am nowhere close to making the changes I want to make. I’m continuing to research and educate myself, and as I do, I will be posting my findings here on the blog. So, keep coming back!
Beginner Steps

I recommend reviewing the consumer guides at The Environmental Working Group (EWG), for a clear and quick way to review products you use or are seeking to buy. EWG discloses the toxic ingredients, if any, in each product and provides a rating system that’s easy to follow. Better yet, download the EWG Healthy Living App. I find myself using it numerous times each day everyday. You simply scan the bar code on the product, you can review its rating, and EWG can make a recommendation for a healthier alternative. It immensely simplifies your efforts towards healthier living.
Other helpful websites include (but not limited to):


Becoming a toxic-free family doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy some indulgences every once in a while. It’s all about balance. If we're being honest, it’s rather impossible to protect your family from all toxins – they will come in contact with toxins at school, other’s homes, and nearly every other public place. Do the best YOU can, that’s all you should expect from yourself. Simply choose to never stop learning, and with newfound knowledge, you’ll discover what changes you need to make over time. It’s better to make baby steps than no steps at all.




Wednesday, October 26, 2016

HE LOVES ME


I'm about to say something that will sound heretical: I'm not surprised that God loves me.

Wait, what?! I'm not entitled to say that, right? Because I'm a terrible sinner, and He's perfect, so I should be totally unloveable. Right? Right.

And I am. 

But because of Christ's death, the Father has adopted me into His family. And it logically follows that a God who would go to such great lengths to have a relationship with me would love me in and through and because of and for that relationship.

What does not make sense to me at all is that I love Him. 

He's infinitely loveable, more beautiful than all other desires. But I was born with a wicked heart, one that is bent in toward myself, one that takes tiny created things and makes them into gods for me to spend my life worshiping. I'm inherently unable to view things through a lens of truth. Truth is all around me, to be sure. But my natural eyes are too blind to see it.

So it continues to shock me every day, when I find myself growing more in love with Him all the time. When I want to read His Word. When I want to obey Him more than I want to do my own thing.

And I know that it must be His love for me working within me to produce this love for Him. Because I don't know how to love good things on my own.

I'm stunned by my love for Him, because it is the most gripping, obvious, undeniable evidence of His love for me.

We love because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:19
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