It has now been seven years since I started this blog. How quickly time goes by! We are many members but we are one in the body of Christ. Therefore you do not journey alone! Hopefully through this site you will be encouraged by the fact that many things you are going through in your own walk, others are going through (or have gone through) as well. Sometimes we think we are "going through things alone." But we are not. God said that "He would Never Leave Nor Forsake Us." (Hebrews 13:5) and that "There is Nothing New Under The Sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9). No man is an island. It's easy to forget that. May the words in this blog help you to think, encourage you in whatever spiritual state you are in and may the Lord use them to help us to grow in Him! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith!

I don’t want any readers to think that I am “promoting” being a prodigal. I definitely am not. But what I am hoping to do – is to encourage those of us who either have had or are currently experiencing a hard time in our walk to be honest about it. Personal conviction is a powerful thing, especially if you truly love the Lord. I think that sometimes the Body of Christ critiques and judges to the point where the person who is at the other end of that pointing finger feels ostracized, alienated and alone. I don't think that that is what Jesus intended. When I read through my Bible - I see a firm yet gentle restoration that Jesus ministered to those around Him. Look at John 21:15-19. When Peter who was at an all time low point in his walk - he was firmly, yet lovingly restored by Jesus. He didn't tear him down, or yell or make him feel any worse then he already did. He spoke to him lovingly and gently - and in doing so, Peter was able to repent and minister in a much more powerful, humble and confident way and it became one of the largest ministries ever.

Please note that I am only a vessel, my calling - to write. I dedicate this blog to the Lord and ask that He use it to reach out and touch whoever needs a special, loving, personal touch from Him. My hope is that the Holy Spirit allows you to see Him through the words (and not me). We go through things so that we can extend our right hand of fellowship behind us to assist and help someone else. Our Bible is the same today, as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow. (I am far from perfect and do not profess to have all the answers...) but the good news is - Our Heavenly Father does! His love, forgiveness, grace and mercy is real!Nothing you are experiencing in your walk comes as a surprise to Him! May He be glorified through this blog and may God bless you at whatever stage in your walk you are in!~

I am a Breast Cancer Survivor

I am a Breast Cancer Survivor
I was diagnosed with early stage triple negative breast cancer on June 24th, 2010 - I have been cancer free for 7 years now. It was only a chapter in my life - NOT my life, but the impact is one that has changed my life forever. Its important for women to know that 80% of the breast cancer diagnosis come from women who don't have a history of it in their family (My family didn't). Early detection is the key. For more information please click on the pink ribbon above. It could save your life.


July 31, 2010

Prodigal-Casting Crowns

It IS Amazing Indeed - When You Really Think About It! ~

I woke up yesterday morning thinking about Mark 15:38 "And the curtain the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom." The temple in the curtain ripped when the Son of God gave His life. It made it so that instead of being "under the old testament law" we were able - through grace, love and mercy -the blood of the lamb (Jesus) able to come boldly to the throne of God. Can you imagine the look of sheer surprise and perhaps shock on the faces of the priests faces? Can you imagine the sound of the ripping of the heavy material that made up the curtain - since it ripped from top to bottom in two?? Oh what a wonderful God we serve. Who loves us enough to walk amongst us. Who cares enough to leave the glory of Heaven and come down and actually walk among us. We don't deserve His love. But that is what He did. He made it "personal."  He gave His life for the forgiveness of our sins.  There is no way we can wrap our minds around the "hugeness" of that. He rose up from the dead and is seated on the right hand of the Father and He is interceding for us! We have our very own cheerleader! Now doesn't that make you love Him even more?! THAT is the difference between "religion" where you can't approach God directly and a "personal relationship" where you can boldly by the shed blood of the lamb - Jesus go to the Father in prayer.

I've been thinking a lot about how there have been many "curtains" that have ripped in my life from top to bottom (and of course unlike the first paragraph where it really happened in the temple - I'm figuratively speaking). Usually when that has happened it has been a real change that has occurred in my life. Either a change in the way i think, I live or I do things. Has any "curtains" in your life been torn asunder? Recently for me it has been awake up call. We don't mean to do it but we do think we'll have tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and we see things happen to others and perhaps in our mind we think how "terrible it is" but "that wouldn't happen to us."  As if there is a reason that bad things happen to people?! The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:45  "That it rains on the just and unjust." I look at that scripture and I realize for the millionth time that there go I but for the GRACE of GOD. Its only the shed blood of Jesus and the fact that I have made Him my Lord and Savior. That I have said - "Jesus I believe that you were born of the Virgin Mary, that you lived, died on the cross and rose again for the forgiveness of my sins. That you are seated on the right hand of the Father and will come again. I ask you to come into my life - be not only my Savior but Lord of my life." In accordance to John 3:16 "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have ever lasting life." When you "believe in something" you try to live in accordance to that belief. If I tell you "I love you" but I don't act like it - are you going to believe me? I saw a saying the other day that made me nod my head in agreement. It was "Christians aren't perfect - just forgiven." The only difference between a believer and a non-believer is the "blood of Jesus."  I look at my friends who are not Christians and that is the only difference. We struggle with the same sins, have the same problems, breath the same air. The only difference is that I have acknowledged that the only way I can come to the Father is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Which covers me. I've made Jesus my Savior and Lord of my life. And while once I thought it was as easy as pie - that I had it made! I have matured in my walk with the Lord - have you? And I realize that as long as I have breathe in my body I will have things that I need to work on. Shouldn't the "prodigal" moments in our walks bring us closer to the Lord? Making Jesus "Lord of my life" is a DAILY thing. I'm 43 years old - I've only been a Christian since I was 21. That is still 22 years of not knowing Jesus that get in the "way" of my thinking some times. We "aren't perfect" and for those Christians who walk around like they are, well they're about ready for a "prodigal moment" in their own lives. Isn't it better to admit to yourselves where you are in Christ? Acknowledge what you need to work on - what weaknesses or struggles you have? Bring it before your Father (who by the way already knows) in prayer? And even - with someone who can be your prayer partner lift up those struggles with another brother or sister in Christ? "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayers of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:15-16). God did not call us to be "islands" the Bible tells us "we are many members but we are one in the body of Christ." (Romans 12:5). You'd be surprised at once you get over the shyness of sharing how good it makes you feel. How much "stronger" you become - and lastly how whatever you are going through - you're not alone. You'd be SURPRISED how many other people are going through (or have gone through) the SAME thing you're going through right now - and over come it. It's easy to separate yourself and put walls up around yourself. It makes you vulnerable though and sometimes there are certain things we just can't get through or make sense of on our own. Sometimes its really true that "two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their work, if one falls down his friend can help him up!" (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
And there is no shame in needing someone - no shame at all.

July 29, 2010

Take 6 LIVE - If We Ever

Tick Tock Goes the Clock~

I took this picture of a vine wrapped around a tree - what does it make you think of? It makes me think of "love" entwined, clinging, wrapping around each other - never wanting to be apart. Loving with all you have to give. What do you see?
 I guess this is a "Double-Blog" day. All day long I've felt a bit "antsy." I think its because I have so much time on my hands while I'm waiting for the fluid to stop draining into this "drain" on my left upper side. They can't remove it until it drains less than 30 ccs. It irritates me and I just get grossed out over the fact that I have a long "straw like tubey thingy" that is inside of me and comes out from my chest and is long enough  to go all the way down my side where there is this squeezy thingy that my mother or the nurse empties out twice a day. So I'm at my childhood home, my mother is at work I'm by myself whereas before I worked full time, I came home to a busy household since I am a wife and a mother of three. (Not to mention the cat and dog - winks at you.) At first before the surgery i found it relaxing - no kids! Quiet, solitude, rest, relaxation.  Now I find it "No kids!" I miss my children. They are with my inlaws - doing fine but my family is very close knit. We've not been separated this long. This is not how I planned my summer. (As if anyone "plans" to be ill). This disease not only affects the person going through it - but also anyone who loves that person. My husband, my children, my mother, my brother, my inlaws. I feel responsible - although I know I'm not.

Isn't it interesting how time is relative? Is it relative to the situation we are waiting? Time either flies or it doesn't. I wonder if when Adam & Eve were in the garden of Eden if they didn't think about "time at all." Because everything was so beautiful. There was so much to discover. There was never to be an end of their "time" until the fall. They weren't "worried" about time. How long those days must have felt when they were banished from Eden. Did they feel every moment until they got into a new routine? How different life must have been to as they had known it before. They were changed. There was no going back. I actually never thought about that before. How hard it must have been those first days, weeks and months. They knew what paradise was like! How hard it must have been to adjust to a totally different lifestyle. I wonder if they looked at their offspring and felt sorrow a new for their sin.

Thank God for His mercy and His grace. And for His love. His incredible love. What is God saying to you in the quiet of the evening? What is He wanting you to hear? Are you hearing Him? Are you listening? Is your day and night filled with distractions and with noise? I have found His voice to be a quiet voice. Not once has He yelled at me. He has directed me, instructed me, guided me, waited for me. Allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them. Do you love the Lord with all your heart? I do. Wherever you are in life right now - He is right there. Sometimes we don't "feel him" right there. But we aren't suppose to go by our "feelings." I think that is the hardest thing for me to accept because I'm a very emotional person. Right now I'm frustrated. I'm restless and I'm probably thinking waaaaay tooo much. Maybe that is why He tells us to "Be still and know that He is God." (Psalm 46:10) He IS GOD. He is on the throne. He is steadfast. He is unchanging.  How comforting that is. So much around us changes - but Our God. Our Father is the same today, as He was Yesterday, as He will be tomorrow.  - I think there is such peace in that, don't you?

Here I am To Worship, Michael W. Smith

The Gift That Keeps On Giving... And Giving.. And Giving...

His Word is a Living Word. His love is the same today as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow.  Today is a gift - don't take it for granted.  I saw something that made me smile yesterday it was a quote that said, "Instead of saying Good Lord its morning! How about saying Good morning Lord!"

Yesterday I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon. As you can see by my post yesterday, I was nervous because I knew at this appointment they would review the pathology from my lumpectomy surgery. And I didn't know what to expect. I was a bundle of nerves and as I walked into the hospital to go to the Breast Clinic I tried to keep my eyes focused on my promises.

The nurse had me put on a gown, and it felt like time stood still for her return. When she walked into the room she looked at me over her glasses and said, "I have your pathology report from your surgery."  I think I bit my lip at that time. I know I held my breathe and my fingers were probably balled up real tight. I tried sooo hard to be strong but I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I was trying so hard to walk by faith - but in all honesty, I was terrified. I kept hearing the encouraging words of my brothers and sisters in Christ on FB in my head. She then told me after what felt like forever - "The surgeon got it all.  The margins are clear. You're cancer-free." I know I cried then. Tears of joy.  Tears of thankfulness.

These have been the longest 4 weeks in my life. Yet I have learned so much - and its not over yet because what has to happen now, is on August 10th I will have an appointment with my Medical Oncologist. She will review the pathology report in detail with me and determine whether or not I will go through chemotherapy to make sure there is nothing microscopic in my blood stream. They took 10 lymph nodes out from under my left arm - one of them had cancer cells in them. So they may want me to undergo chemotherapy and radiation. My feelings are whatever needs to be done - shall be done. This was the first day of good news in four weeks! I am rejoicing. BEYOND rejoicing. I'm so thankful for all the prayers, well wishes, thoughts.

What I feel most of all is a strong sense of responsibility. Our lives are gifts. Jesus gave His life for us. I also see all the things within me that need work. I am still missing the mark. And I know it. Thank God its grace that saves us. Its not by our works or that we "deserve" it.  Jesus took what "we deserve" as He hung on that cross. I've thought about that often. How did He do it? The sins of ALL of us - on that cross. There are things within me that I need HIM to change. I don't know how. But I can admit it. I guess that is the first step. Do you feel the same way? Like you long to be all that He wants you to be? PRAY. Talk to God like I'm talking to you. Tell Him the desires of your heart. Your struggles. Praise Him for what He is doing in your life. The lives of those you love. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. The one thing I've learned is that life is short. We're not promised tomorrow. We feel like we will always have tomorrow - but the truth is we won't. Last night i sat on the front steps of my childhood home and I listened to the crickets chirp and I watched as day turned into night and I felt so emotional. There was a sweetness I hadn't known before. And I've never been one to take life for granted. I've always felt as though "give me flowers (and let me give YOU flowers) WHILE we are ALIVE. Right now! For I won't be there to receive them when I'm gone." That's how we should live. Grateful. Thankful. Appreciative. Not letting little annoyances or pettiness get in the way. The Bible says "Do not let the sun go down on your anger." (Ephesians 4:26) You don't know what tomorrow holds. LOVE FULLY. "Father, thank you for your grace. For your mercy. For your forgiveness. I recognize that everything good comes from YOU. Forgive me for my sins, wash me with the precious blood of Jesus. I recognize that I am a work in progress. There are things within me that I cannot change. I don't know how. There are things about myself that frustrate me. If there is any emptiness inside me that I have tried to fill with something other than You I pray that you fill it. I pray that you be glorified in this life that YOU have given me. I have so many faults and things that need changing inside of me. But I know that you are my creator and that YOU have called me by name. I give this day to You Father. I give my life to YOU. Help me to live as You desire. Be glorified. I know that "Our lives are but breathes that appears for just a little while and than vanishes away." (James 4:13-17) Take my hand Father. Guide me. Use me. Be glorified in me. I need you, I want you - I love you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

That's all He asks of us - that we look to Him. He's real. He's there. He loves you. He truly does. I'm putting my own life now - under a microscope. Because I know there are things that need changing. Cutting away, renewing. I'm by no means a medical person - I'd pass out at the mere sight of blood (lol) but you see - my Father - He is the BEST physician in all the universe. I just have to go to Him and ask Him for help... He'll never turn YOU (or me) away. And He is the best "pain killer a person can have." I perscribe to you Jesus - but know this - He's addicting! And THAT is a good thing!

July 28, 2010

Nicole C. Mullen - Call on Jesus

Where is Your Focus?

And YOU thought this Flower was dead - didn't you? Look at the very tip. Things aren't ALWAYS as they seem. I took this picture during a walk in my childhood neighborhood and the scripture "Joel 2:25 I will restore you the years that the locust has eaten." We are to walk BY FAITH not by Sight. I see hope in this flower - don't you?
Today's the day I go the hospital, back to the surgeons office and we review the pathology report from the surgery. I will probably be given a "stage" and I imagine the next course of action will be planned out. I feel like a soldier preparing for battle plans. I'd best not forget to put on my spiritual armor today. The Helmet of Salvation, the Breast Plate of Righteousness, around my waist I put the Belt of Truth. I shod my feet with the preparation of the Gospel, I pick up my Shield of Faith and my Sword of the Spirit. I will "Trust in the Lord with ALL my heart, I will lean not to my own understanding. In all my ways I shall acknowledge Him and He shall direct my path." (Proverbs 3:56).

I've been thinking about how we all get wrapped up in the pettiness of life. We lose focus. We get busy. We don't "stop and smell the roses." We take people we love for granted, we think we are promised tomorrow. We forget that the Word is a "living Word." It is. Throughout the 22 years that I've been a Christian I've seen so many things. Things that have confirmed to me that the Bible is true. That God is REAL. But mostly what God has done in my life - is shown me that where people will leave you, disappoint you or whatever - GOD NEVER WILL. I cannot describe the peace that passes ALL understanding. Even when you are at a prodigal point in your walk. God loves YOU. There is something deep inside us that is empty and we each try to fill it with different things. But the thing is - that "thing" will ONLY feel "full" or "satisfied" when you fill it with HIM. You know, I have a few friends who know what my "prodigalness" has been. Because I'm very transparent with those the Lord uses me to be transparent with. I don't drink or do drugs or anything like that - but there are other ways of filling emptiness inside of you. Those are just the most obvious ones. And I've seen people get delivered from them. What is your weakness? Where is it that God needs to touch you, fill you and strengthen you? Confess it to Him. He knows it anyways. Confess it. Cry out to the Lord - "Lord I cannot change this area in my life. I've tried - but I can't. I need YOU to fill it. I need YOU to change me. I need YOU to show me. I need YOU to help me."

It is so easy for us to look over at Sister So-and-So or Brother You-Need-to-Get-Right.  But what God wants us to do - is look deep within ourselves. To see WHAT we need to change about US. And to restore our brothers and sisters in Christ  - with LOVE. Gently. To have ears that listen. Eyes that see. Arms that reach and hug. Jesus came to set the captives FREE. (Galatians 3:8-9) In John 8:7 said to the people who wanted to see the woman who had been caught in adultery stoned. "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Stop looking at others and seeing what they need to change. Let God deal with them on that. What do YOU need to change about YOU?  I don't know about you - but with me. My sins are ever before me. And if you aren't careful - ol' slewfoot will take those sins and harrass you with them until you think that God will never forgive you. Oh yes - that is what he does. But LISTEN. God WILL forgive. All we need to do is confess to HIM. For me, it has helped me to have a couple of sisters in Christ that I am close to, that I can share with. That I can say - "Pray for me here because this is an area of confusion for me. This is an area I can't seem to figure out. This is an area that I'm having trouble with." And they can do the same. That is WHY God gave us brothers and sisters in Christ. To help each other. To pray for each other.  The Bible says in John 5:16 "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayers of a righteousman are powerful and affective." Notice it doesn't say - "Find out what the trouble is with your brother and sister and beat them over the head with my Word." Every where that I look in the Bible Jesus restored gently. In truth but IN LOVE. He's to be our example. Remember the bible also says in Matthew 7:2 "For in the same way you judge others, YOU will be judged."

I was thinking this morning about all that has changed in my life in the last four weeks. I was trying to see the silver lining in the midst of all this and I did see things - this is what I saw. My brother and I have gotten closer. I didn't realize how much i missed him, we'd drifted a part and now we are closer than ever. Its hard for me not to well up with tears in my eyes when I realize how MUCH I missed my kid brother. My mom and I are spending so much time together. I'm staying with her during this process because the health care here in Boston where I was raised is world wide famous and where I live has terrible health care. (One thing to definitely keep in mind BEFORE moving to a new area. How are the hospitals? I didn't think of that because I'm still "relatively young" - How I wish I had. You NEVER know what tomorrow holds. Even if you are "relatively young." ;)  I've met some wonderful women who are also Breast Cancer survivors - women I probably never would have met otherwise. I couldn't get through this without the strength of those women. Women who KNOW. And then there are my steadfast friends - you know who you are. And I love them sooo deeply. So truly. (I'm getting emotional). I read today that "God will take us through deep valleys to discover great treasures. Isaiah 45:3 says "I will give you treasures of darkness and the hidden riches in secret places that you may know that it is I,  the Lord, The God of Israel who has called you by name." 

He is calling us by name! He is in control. He loves us. We forget that. Maybe its time for us to respond. Hear that knocking on the door? I know who it is - do you? How about answering it? You may be in for a pleasant surprise.  In fact I KNOW you will.

July 26, 2010

Shirley MacLaine - I'm Still Here - Postcards From The Edge

The Main Ingredient? LOVE

I lay awake thinking last night. I was a bit upset. I'm a planner, and coming down with this disease has put a serious crimp in every aspect of my life. It has caused me to have revelations I didn't want to have. To know things I didn't want to know. I think this is an area where only my friends who are "survivors" can understand fully what I am talking about. Its shown me "who will be there when the going gets tough" and who "will not." A spotlight I didn't want to see. It has shown me people who "feel sorry for me" and people who don't know how to talk to me because "they think I'm going to die." I've sat back and watched this as if I'm watching the life of someone else take place before my very eyes and last night it upset me.  Now I've already mentioned the people who have been there for me - in previous posts and I don't want to belittle that because they are "diamonds." And life long friends - all of them. Its hard when you've been healthy for the majority of your life and all of a sudden you have to "concentrate on getting better." How does one do that? I didn't "concentrate on getting ill" so how do I "concentrate" on getting well? Do I close my eyes REAL tight and say, "I will, I will, I will!" The thing is - I know I will get well. I've left upstate NY to get the best care I can - home in Boston. I've caught this early - and I've met MANY survivors. I don't feel in my spirit that I'm not going to make it through this. I know that the Bible tells me, "The number of my days He will fulfill." And He will.

So I went to bed, upset last night and while I was sleeping - I realized something I already know. The most important thing we can do in this life - is love. Then the scripture that came to my head was 1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

That whispered scripture filled me with an overflowing amount of peace. The Bible talks soooo much about love. "Love covers a multitude of sins" (1st Peter 4:8)  "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31) LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.

 Like a recipe - the "main ingredient" - LOVE. Leave that out and whatever you are doing in life - is YUCKY. BLAH. ICK. Think about it.  This weekend my mom and I watched a movie made about "Julia Childs" I've never been much of cook. Its not one of the gifts I have - although what I make is passable. But I've never been one to "follow" a cookbook. Its kinda like "reading the directions" when you put something together and I'm not a patient person... (Okay Lord - You're working on THAT with me, I know.. ;) But each ingredient put into a dish makes the final results either successful (Yum) or just plain "Yucky." If it is like that with a "recipe for cooking." Shouldn't it be the same rules for life? A life filled with "love" as the main ingredient results in --- Oooh la la! Delicious! One without - well, a life without love is empty. Its hollow. It's just plain - sad.

I can only speak for myself. For I've never told someone I love them if I didn't mean it. Its a gift if you give it wholeheartedly. You can't control how or if someone receives it and that I guess, is the hardest part of loving. But you can love unconditionally. That to me is the best kind of love. I never did understand people at Christmas time or Holidays who would "give gifts in expectation that they would get one back?" I have never given a gift that way. To me - giving and watching a person receive is the most MARVELOUS thing. The excitement, the joy - the fun in watching someone you loves face light up. Now  don't get me wrong - I DO love to receive - but I don't give to "expect it." I've learned that not everyone is that way. It doesn't change the way I love.

Here is the other thing about love - TRUE love. It never goes away. No matter what. It just "stays with you." How wonderful a God we have that has given us things like "taste buds" (LOL) and "love." - they kind of go hand in hand don't they? (Winks at you)... 

July 25, 2010

Lean On Me

There is No Shame in Feeling Weak

 **Picture from Imagebank.org.uk

We are each made so different. We deal with things differently, we respond to things and situations differently. There is no shame in that. We are like "fingerprints" no two of us exactly the same. Me - I am transparent with many things my life. Although I don't share everything - I do share what I think will be helpful to someone else. Why? I think there are so many things we keep "tucked away" that we don't realize that someone else may need to hear about our experiences. I think its one of the reasons why God allows us to go through our "wilderness" experiences. To be able to extend our hand behind us and to grasp the hand of someone else going through what we have gone through. Or perhaps "encourage" each other if the timing has us going through the same thing at the same time. To learn from each other. To encourage each other. Perhaps someone going through the same thing as you are is not quite so "transparent" and think they are the only one going through whatever it is they are going through.

Other people have a tendency to withdraw within themselves. To shut out the rest of the world and contemplate. I think of wounded animals - they do that. Go off on their own to heal (or to die). Yet I do think that there are times when this is also beneficial. Even Jesus went off to be by himself at times. To "recoop" to "pray." There is nothing wrong with needing time to yourself. It truly is whatever works for you.But through it all - its important for us as the Body of Christ to know - that we are many members - but ONE in the body. One body. One Bride. When you stub your toe - the pain radiates ALL the way up to the brain. Think about how much a little "paper cut" hurts. The whole body is aware of the pain. Its amazing how God made us. As I'm learning more and more physically about the body - I realize how much we sit back and take for granted. We truly are wondrously and marvelously made.

I had no idea how many women have gone through breast cancer - until I have found myself journeying that same path. I guess its because I never thought much about it.  There has been no history of it in my family - so I didn't worry about it. I worried about "everything else" (LOL) but not breast cancer. I didn't know that 80% of breast cancer cases have happened to women WITHOUT a history of breast cancer in their families.  When something is not happening to you - or to someone you love its easy for it to become "background noise." But I've met some wonderful women. Women who continue to give me strength and advice and share their experiences with me. CeCe, Carol, Glenda, Denise to name just a few. I've become part of a "sorority of sisters" I never imagined I would join. But if you could see these women - these strong, beautiful, courageous, considerate, loving, generous women. Along with my sisters in Christ and with good dear friends - these women who are ALL survivors have shared a bit of their experience with me. Giving me their strength when I feel weak. There has only been one other time in my life when my life had drastically changed - and that was when I became a Christian 22 years ago. I never thought I would have such a life altering change happen to me again. And yet in four weeks - JUST four weeks! My life has drastically changed. The little things I fussed about or worried about in life seem so trivial now. You know the saying "Don't sweat the small stuff?" Well its true. Jesus said (Matthew 6:25-34) "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food? And the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the fields grow? They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the fields which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you? Oh you of little faith? So do not worry saying 'what shall we eat,' or 'what shall we wear'. For the pagans run after all these things and your Heavenly Father knows you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and these things shall be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." 

Its important for us to find joy in every day in some way. I know this is going to sound crazy - because I am a cup 1/2 full person. But as I have thought about the last four weeks and the things that have happened to me (and not only affect me - but my family as well) I have still found things to be thankful for. NO one is thankful for cancer. But I am thankful that the diagnosis happened in the Summer instead of the school year - when it would have disrupted my kids from school. I'm thankful for my family - for my husband who is working whatever hours he can get and extra jobs to provide for us while I am out of work back in upstate NY. For my kids who are staying with my "inlaws" while mummy "gets better" for friends who have stuck BY me even when they haven't known exactly "what" to say.  For my inlaws who are watching my 11 year old and 4 year old. For my mom who goes to every doctors appointment with me to be my ears and for letting me stay back at my childhood home while I get the best care I can. For my Sisters and brothers in Christ for praying for me. For my family and for other survivors who continue to encourage me and to help me realize more and more that THIS is ONLY one chapter in my life. It will not be my whole life. Its just the "now" of it.  There are always things to be thankful for. And most of all - I'm thankful for my God - who has said that He will NEVER leave nor forsake me. What are YOU thankful for? In the midst of whatever God has you going through? He wants us to lean on Him not only in bad times - but good. And to lean on each other. There is no weakness in that. Or as the Bible says "When you are weak - He is strong." (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

July 24, 2010

casting crowns- if we are the body

The Blame Game - Are You Playing It?

** Photo from Imagebank.org.UK
I've woken up this morning, four days after surgery - and I need to spend time praising God.  Its been a few days since I've been able to blog because they removed the lymph node pad right under my left arm (under my underarm) and they've placed a plastic tube that is threaded into my left breast to the point where they removed the lump and it drains any liquid that tries to gather there after surgery goes down through this tube and out to this little squeezy thingy that has to be emptied twice a day. Its painful at times which makes it hard for me to type. But I want to praise God for the surgery is over. I was surprised that "the girls" (as I've heard a few women refer to them - hehehehe) - look the same! Although I'm going through an "I'm not talking to you anymore" feeling with them - which I guess is totally normal... One day perhaps they'll feel like they belong to me again.. Right now, I'm thoroughly disgusted with both of them! I can almost hear the "right one" saying 'Hey! I didn't DO anything! And elbowing the other saying, "Look what you did! Now she's mad at ME too!" ;P

I know I know "ridiculous" but I'm a dork and proud of it... ;P

I've been kind of frustrated with myself. I think many of us are our own worst critics. We are extra hard on ourselves. But I also have been thinking about Adam & Eve. How when they sinned in the Garden of Eden they immediately blamed "each other" instead of taking responsibility for their actions. Kind of like our children do "she did it its HER fault. No HE did it! He made me do it!" But you know, we grown ups do that too. We don't take responsibility for our actions. We find excuses. "Well this was going on. Or I deserve this.." Or something else. When really, we are responsible for all decisions we make. God has given us free choice.  Even though its difficult to admit when we are "wrong" I think that is the first part to a Prodigal making their journey back home. I'm not saying its easy. I'm not saying its something that happens overnight. But I am saying that we can admit it in the quiet of our own souls. God hears it. Even if that is ALL you can do right now. "Lord, I've got some issues deep inside of me that are at war with each other. I can't seem to work it out on my own - I need YOU to help me. We are not to go by our feelings - but sometimes our feelings are so strong - they get in the way. So I will pray - Lord CHANGE ME. I do not have the power or strength to change myself. So I have to go to You - my Creator. CHANGE ME. I give this to You Father. It's too big for me.  I can't see my way around it. But YOU can. You are bigger than my situation. Bigger than my desires, bigger than my feelings. I give this to You. I let go and give this situation to YOU. You know what it is. In Jesus name I let it GO. Its Your's now. I will not let the devil beat me up over it ANYMORE. I am your child. HELP ME. Amen."  - Whatever it is that is hindering you - give it to Him. There are some situations or some things that we cannot do anything about. But HE can. That does not mean its not your fault that you are there in the first place. Because the Bible tells us "With every temptation God will provide a way out." He will provide the way out - but its up to US to take it. We don't always take the easy way out do we? We forget that the things the Father tells us - are to guide us. He knows so much more than we do. We forget that. He's not being a "mean daddy" so stop with the temper tantrum cuz He'll just wait you out and say, "Are you done yet?" What He says is for our good. We forget that. We want to "help Him" - sometimes we say, "No Father - go THIS way!" And we take the steering wheel and we drive. And He sits back and looks at us and whispers gently in our ear "When you are ready to let me drive- you let me know." And when we find ourselves "lost" or having made "a mess of things" when we are ready to let Go and let God and give Him back the wheel. He looks over at us and says, "Let's go home now."

One thing that has amazed me during my 22 years of being a Christian, is the fact that my Father never raises His voice at me. His voice is always gentle. Has that been the case with you? Wow - I can feel it - the "peace that passes all understanding" flowing through me after praying that. The relief that comes with knowing that no matter what the "mess is" God can clean it up. No matter what my "heart says" My heart belongs to God. Let go - give it to Him. It may not be an instantaneous thing. It may be something that God changes within you in His time. But if you give something to Him - its NOT your responsibility anymore. It's His.  Think of all the times since you accepted Christ in your heart in the past of all the things He's already changed about you? You can't take credit for it. Because HE is the one doing a "good work inside of you." He's doing it. Sometimes He allows us to feel it. Rejoice! How I love you Father. I may not know many things - but THIS I KNOW. I love You. I need You. More of YOU less of ME. Hear that cry in my heart.

He's real, and He's there - and He's waiting for YOU. Waiting for you to admit that you can't handle "this" (Whatever this is). Give it to Him. Give it to the one who makes "wine" out of "water." If he did that  for water - can you imagine what great and wonderful things will He will do with YOU?

July 19, 2010

Praise You In This Storm w/ Lyrics!!

It's All About HIM! And I'm soooo glad!

 (*picture below from Imagebank.org.uk)
Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow is the day I have the lumpectomy and lymph node removal. Tomorrow is the day they put me under for 3-4 hours. I won't sit here and tell you I'm not afraid. But I will tell you this. I gave my life to the Lord at the age of  21. Humbly, honestly and innocently. I had grown up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood where they did not speak of "Jesus." I'm so very very glad I did. When no one else has been there - God has been. What did I do? What do I mean by "gave my life to the Lord?" What I mean is that I prayed a very simple prayer. I prayed "Lord Jesus come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. I believe You were born of the virgin Mary, that You lived, was crucified on the cross for forgiveness of my sins, that You died; rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father. I believe that You will come again. Come into my heart and be not only my Savior - but Lord of my life." - John 3:16 says "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have ever lasting life." I had prayed that prayer not knowing what an affect it would have on my life from that moment on. I had pretty much "challenged" God to make Himself real to me.  And He has. Over and over and over again - through the last 22 years (23 come this October). Its different for each person. Because its like you with your children - they have a personal relationship with you - you don't "love one better than the other" but they are personal, individual relationships. I challenged God to make Himself real to me - and He did.

I have many faults. The last two years - three actually, I've been disappointed, upset - felt as though God was far away from me. HE WASN'T. I just didn't wait long enough or listen carefully enough to remain close to HIM. Like when a teenager is rebellious - I guess you could say - I've been having my "teenage years" in Christ. (LOL). For those of you who are having a "prodigal" experience right now - even as you read this. KNOW THIS. God loves YOU. He loves YOU. Even as you are right now. He's waiting patiently for you to learn whatever life lesson you need to learn and "make that trek back home to Him" as the prodigal son did. I'm STILL in the process of traveling back home to Him. Its not easy. But the first part of repentance is realizing and admitting that something is wrong.  That YOU are wrong. Many of the problems that we have are problems we bring upon ourselves. Oh don't get me wrong - Ol' slewfoot is happy to see you "put your foot in your mouth" and he may even say, "here, let me help you - put it in a little deeper." But when you reach a point where you can say, "The problem Lord - is ME." That is when He reaches down to help you. But also at that time - that time when you are getting ready to "head back home" satan comes to remind you of all the things you've done and did and thought and felt and to dance around your head and whisper in your ear - how inadequate you are. What a liar you are. What a loser you are..." On and on he will go - maybe even to the point where you start thinking God doesn't want you anymore. HE DOES. He LOVES YOU. He's waiting! He's standing at the door knocking! Remember that prodigal's father waiting on the pathway - looking out for his son. He's waiting for you! Don't listen to the words of the devil. He is a LIAR. I feel I need to post the prodigal story for you - for me. For all of us. So we can see it and read it and know that the Bible is full of stories and accounts of REAL PEOPLE. They really lived. They struggled as WE struggle.

Jesus told this story - (Luke 15:11-32) 

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, "Father, give me my share of the estate." So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had and set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he spent everything there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country who sent him to the fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, "how many of my father's men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him, "Father I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am no longer worthy to call myself your son. Make me like one of your hired men." So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off , his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to his father, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! Bring the fattened calf and kill it! Let's have a feast and a celebrate! For this son of mine was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found! So they began to celebrate."

Wow - I just caught something it says: "But while he was STILL A LONG WAY OFF. I'm still a long way off - are you? And yet our Father is standing there - knowing that we are "still a long way off" but He is anticipating our coming back to Him. Stronger, more committed, more determined. Doesn't that make you love Him ALL THE MORE? Are you smiling? You are - I feel it. You're a King's kid. I dunno about YOU but my chest is puffed up a little and I'm sitting a little straighter in my chair. Afterall - a "Princess" has something to be proud of, don't you think? Especially when her Daddy loves her - in every way possible.

July 18, 2010

John Mayer - Free Fallin'

Curiouser and Curiouser... And I shall NOT lose my "Muchness"

I've been thinking of the story of Alice in Wonderland. Actually the new movie by Tim Burton. The one with Johnny Depp in it. And I think it is perfect to use as an analogy in my blog today.  Because I'm feeling like "Casey in Wonderland." I was skipping through the days of my life when I unexpectedly found myself "falling into this hole."  This hole in my life called "breast cancer."  Free falling. I don't know about you but I've never been the type who likes either closed in places or heights.  When I was a young tweenager - that's around 11 or 12 (back in the day... grinz - I'm 43 I can say that now) I got caught in one of those "old fashion" elevators.  You know the kind - the kind with a steel gate you had to pull back before getting in? In downtown Boston with friends.  It scared the you-know-what outta me. It was only for 10 minutes - but it was enough for me to know that I would NEVER go into an elevator by myself ever again. How ironic that years and years later one of my "first" business jobs would be working on the 42 floor of the John Hancock building in Boston and having to take the elevator up. Now - don't laugh (or I should say its okay for you to laugh cuz it is kinda funny). When I began working at the John Hancock, I REFUSED to take the elevator up. There was NO WAY I was going to go up 42 floors in an elevator. NO WAY, UH UH, SHAKING MY HEAD, Crossing my arms in front of my breasts, stubborn-your-not-gonna-make-me look on my face.  Well I gotta tell you that after two weeks of huffing and puffing, pausing and starting again, climbing up 42 flights of stairs - I threw up my arms and said... "I can't do this anymore!!! I gotta take the elevator!" I had reached a point where I decided "whatever happens, happens!!" And although I didn't like it, I would take the elevator. To this day, I still hesitate when I have to get into an elevator (and to be honest - I will not get in one that is the size of a small box by myself).

I digress.. So here is "Casey" falling down this hole she has come to called breast cancer. Feeling like she is free falling. Can't grab on to anything, not sure how long the fall will be, not seeing the bottom or end in sight. (Is the song "Free Falling" going through your head too?) that is how I've felt over the last three weeks.  I wondered if Alice reached a point since her fall seemed to go on and on for so long that she reached a point as she was falling where the screaming stopped, the fear stopped and then the anger set in and then the wonder if the fall was EVER gonna end - no matter what the bottom held in store for her?  I'm at the falling part of the story. I've fallen through disbelief, shock, the incredibleness about it all. I've finally hit the bottom of the hole. And I'm starting to meet people I've never met before in "Breast Cancer Land" other women who have gone through this scary disease.  There is CeCe (who in this story is called "Joy") and Denise (who in this story is called "Compassion") and they were two of the first women I've met on my journey who I believe God has brought into my life because they have a certain "glow" about them. They've come through this journey and have come out VICTORIOUS.  They have been sent to me to show me faith in action. To show me when I feel weak that I can DO IT. I would never have meet either women if I had not fallen through this "hole." And the bond I share with CeCe is what as only can be called "sisterhood." I don't have to say anything - and she just "knows." There are familiar faces too - my mother is by my side "fighting the good fight of you-will-make-it-through-this-for-there-is-no-other-alternative" (In this story she is called "Strength") and my Aunt Barbara (who in this story is called "Big-Heart") and my mother and father-in-law Melvin and Tama who are referred to as (Peace of Mind I and II - because they are taking care of my children while I "get well") and there is my very dear and special friend Karen (who I shall refer to as "Steadfast" - because she has checked on me daily with her "How's You?" and not waivered in her friendship with me. We also share a bond that only Karen and I can understand - and if she is reading this - she will know what I mean, because its just between the two of us...) and also in this story is my Best Friend Deprieshia (who is called "Prayer Warrior) and my two new beautiful also-have-been-here and done that sisters in Christ Glenda and Carol who are called (Cheerleaders) - these are just a few of the many people faces I have known and faces I've begun to know who I've met upon the start of this journey. There is the enemy called Breast Cancer - who walks around trying to instill fear over all he strikes with this horrible disease. Instead of saying "Off with her breasts! He wants "off with her life"  because he is the devourer. In 1st Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil walks about roaring like a lion, seeking who he may devour." But here is the thing that "Breast Cancer" forgot. I am a child of the Most High God. "He has made me the head and not the tail." "Greater is HE who is in ME than then he that is in the world." Before breast cancer entered my left breast - the Holy Spirit was there inside of me, I invited it in when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior twenty-two years ago in the small little chapel of the Inter-varsity Faith Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts. Darkness cannot abide with light. Therefore this small lump of cancer cannot remain in ME. Think about it - when the light shines in darkness, there is no darkness anymore. And I have the Holy Spirit shinning like a beacon within me. It has for 22 years. People have said to me - "Kelly there is something different about you?" And for those that don't know Jesus they don't know that what they are seeing in me is HIM. My kids, when in Christian private school learned two songs - the words of one song went like this: "I've got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus down in my heart - down in my heart, down in my heart, I've got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus down in my heart. Down in my heart so stay!" And another song they learned "shut the door keep out the devil, shut the door keep the devil in the night. Shut the door keep out the devil light a candle everything is alright. Light the candle everything is alright." That candle is the light of the Lord. I also know that my Bible tells me (John 16:33) I have told you these things so that you can have peace because of me. In this world you will have trouble, but cheer up! I've won the battle over the world!"  That not only goes to my current "wonder land" but also for whatever you are going through as well. The battle has been won. And although I don't know the "middle" part of this journey quite yet "through Breast Cancer Land" I do know this - Perhaps Alice came out from her fall more knowledgeable, perhaps more compassionate, more gracious, a better appreciation for the life she had before her fall and a sheer determination to live and love life. How much MORE so will "Casey?"  In two more days, on the 20th of July I will undergo surgery. I'm told a 3-4 hour process. I've met my medical surgeon - his name is Dr. Christian (and I did NOT make that up - it is!) and while I will lose this lump which sits up on the upper part of my left breast (right over where you would place your hand to say the "I pledge the Allegiance") I shall NOT - NOT - NOT lose my Muchness!"

July 17, 2010

The Woman Who 23 Years Ago Come October - Told me about Jesus, Please meet Sarah Small

Miss Sarah Small

(Please click on "Miss Sarah Small" above to see the video). Sarah went to be with the Lord a few years ago. I have already told my "testimony" in one of my previous blogs (Scroll down to read it if you want - it will I hope be a blessing). She was one of the most kindest, humblest women I've ever met in my life. She RADIATED the love of the Lord. Her granddaughter - Deprieshia became and is my very best girlfriend. Probably the only one in this WORLD who knows me inside out and backwards and still loves me (LOL). I was glad to get this video from Preishia's mom - and wanted to honor the memory of an amazing woman - who literally changed my life when I met her at the Inter-varsity Fellowship Chapel while attending the University of Massachusetts in Boston. You never know how many lives your life will touch. Sarah's life not only touched me - it changed me. Who would have thought a sweet humble southern black woman who was more knowledgeable than any "professor" I have EVER met. Would teach me more than I would EVER imagine. I'm so thankful God brought her into my life. Thank you Lord.  Sarah has an amazing story. This is only an excerpt. She was an amazing, amazing woman who will ALWAYS be missed.

i will never be the same again with lyrics

Reflections and That Tiny Mustard Seed.

 Yesterday was a "Mustard Seed" kinda day. I went to the hospital for my pre-op appointment and the test results had come back from the lymph node biopsy (from under my left arm) - it came back positive for cancer cells. So during surgery they will remove my whole lymph pad from under my left arm. I was taken aback. In fact to be honest - I cried. The doctors had already suspected that would be the case, but I didn't. Reading the report myself it looks to me as though the biopsy shows "one positive node" and the rest negative. But even if that is the case, they will remove the whole pad and will study it under the microscope. My understanding is that this just confirms what we already knew - that I shall need to go through chemotherapy to make sure this kills off any thing microscopic. I understand that - and will go through whatever I need to - but I plan on killing all this off through PRAYER as well. So I ask you to please continue praying.  The weakness I feel is the emotional roller coaster that this has already begun to take on me.  Cancer is so inconvenient! (Winks at you - if you can't keep your sense of humor What can you do?)  Why is it that it is so much easier to believe and pray for someone else than for ourselves? I know that God is no respecter of persons. He doesn't have "favorites" He loves us ALL. How we are. Where we are. He sees us as WE WILL BE. We need to see us as we will be. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see a person who is "filled with faults?" or do you see someone who is daily growing in Christ. Daily learning? One of my favorite scriptures in the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:12 (and I've quoted this before) Now we see but a poor reflection, as in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known."  I don't know why God chose to allow me to go through this. Nothing can happen to us without His allowing it. But I do know that "All things work for the good of those who love the Lord." (Romans 8:28)  I thought I had become as humble as possible through my prodigal experience but apparently not.  You see - every good and perfect thing comes from our Father. I realize more and more that I am dependent upon Him.  And even though right now, I'm struggling with all that is happening so quickly with me - I know that I am in the "Palm of His hands." (Isaiah 49:16)  He didn't say it would be easy - but He did say He would never leave nor forsake us. Psalms 107 talks about His "steadfast" love. Steadfast - I like that word. Not changing, not leaving, not moving. STEADFAST. "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him." (Lamentations 3:22-24) There is peace in that - isn't there? Feel it through whatever you are going through. Walk in it, meditate on it.  Hide His Word in your heart - it will come up like a bubbling stream inside of you. It truly is His living Word.  All of the scriptures that I have written in my blogs have come up from inside of me as I type and pray about what to write. God's Word is real, its true. Its our "Sword" I can't make someone "taste and see that the Lord is good" you have to do that for yourself. But when you DO. When you say "Okay Lord - if you are real - reveal yourself to me!" Watch and see what He does.  Because He is real. I did that 22 years ago when I was first told of Jesus. I said, "Okay - if YOU are REAL you need to make Yourself real to ME. Not because Sarah says so. Not because anyone else tells me to - or its what my family has always done - but because YOU are real." And I challenged the Lord to do so.  And HE DID. He has. He continues to. But it is a personal experience. You have to try it for yourself. But I promise you this - if you do say, "Lord come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior. I want to try you. I want to SEE if you are really REAL." Don't be surprised at what He does with those few words you say. I didn't expect anything - I didn't KNOW what to expect - but He did. He has and He will continue. HE IS REAL. But you have to "taste and see that the Lord is good." For yourself. I challenge you to do so. Just TRY Him. What have you to lose? TRY HIM. I feel like "Sam I am" from the Dr. Seuss series and one of my favorite books. "Try Him. Try Him and You'll see. Try Him and You'll see I say." (Laughing) Try Him. You'll not be disappointed and you'll have found the love of your life.

July 16, 2010

The Prodigal Named Humpty Dumpty

Two months ago a teenager set fire to this beautiful field (wild bird reserve) near the pond where I walk. I took the picture of the burnt ground with a heavy heart. Saddened by what I saw. TWO MONTHS ago and then look at it now? God has restored it. I was incredulous when I saw how thick, how vast how beautiful the Lord restored what was burned down the ground. Imagine my surprise while walking two months later - the field has been restored! Look at its lushness! Look at the greeness! Look at the height of it! If God can do that to this field sooo quickly - How MUCH more so can (and will) He do for us??!

This morning I've got Humpty Dumpty on my mind... (LOL) Perfect analogy for those of us that have been (or are) prodigal kids...(Yes I did say kids ;P)  Humpty had a great fall (or maybe he actually had many mini-falls kept getting right back up on that "wall" and falling again...) and no one could put him back together again.  I think that perhaps Humpty didn't want at that time to be put back together. Or MAYBE he needed to be at a point where he finally said, "Okkkaaayyy.. I get it. What I'm doing, how I'm walking, what I'm feeling is NOT working for ME." Maybe when he finally got to that point of - "Okay Lord, I can't FIX this myself." The LORD was able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. "Not by power, not by might, but BY MY SPIRIT" says the Lord.(Zech 4:6)  The thing is - Humpty had to reach the lowest part of his walk. He had to WANT the Lord to put him back together. Maybe Humpty went for counseling, maybe he went to doctors. All of which is a good thing. But what made Humpty "get up on that wall" in the first place. What made him sit at the very edge? What happened before his fall? If he hadn't been up there in the first place - he wouldn't have had a fall, would he? Sometimes we allow ourselves to go down a path of temptation. Not heeding any hesitation we may have we think we are "strong enough" to handle anything that comes our way.  But the Lord has told us "With every temptation He will provide a way out." (1Corinthians 10:13)

As a prodigal daughter - and for those of you who know my prodigal ways you know I am not a hypocrite. I recognize were I am, where I need to be. Its just that in certain prodigal situations making that journey back home to the Father is a step by step process. Its not easy to do. And although I can only speak for my own situation - sometimes the answers are not as cut and dry as to someone who is not in a prodigal moment in their walk thinks it should be. That is why I say if you know of someone who is at a prodigal moment in their walk - be gentle with them. Especially if you see that the Holy Spirit is convicting them or they are doing a slow 360 turn back to the Lord. Critiquing or criticizing or yelling at the brother or sister in Christ who is going through this type of period will not be conducive to bringing them back to the Lord. I know that if someone yelled at me or critiqued me even using the Bible as their source - I would have become indignant, angry, willful and it would have delved me further into backing away from brothers and sisters in Christ. Restoration can be a slow process. And in saying that once again I say - I am NOT condoning sin. But I am saying that God knows the situation - He does! And he knows the heart of the person BETTER THAN YOU. So if you want to help (and I speak from experience) restore gently!! You can be firm and gentle at the same time. LOVE THEM. PRAY FOR THEM. Sometimes us prodigals are in a state of confusion, our lives upheaval. Sometimes we really don't know what the answer is because we never expected to find ourselves in the situations we are in. But know this - and know this well - the Bible tells us "that when we are weak we are strong!" (2 Corinthians 12:10) and for those of us who know our Word you can pretty much bet we've beaten ourselves up with it (or the devil has!) but also I truly believe that for me - and I don't have all the answers. I can look at what I am learning, what I have learned - and it is this. Through this prodigal experience I've been humbled, I am more compassionate. I am less "judgmental" (I will leave all judgement to my Father who is in the place to judge righteously knowing each individual intimately). I am more tolerant and I can walk in forgiveness quicker. I know that any good inside of me is only that of the Lord.

So you see? Who has received the glory from my weakness? The LORD. And it has made me stronger - and don't be deceived - I'm "STILL" walking back home to my Father. I'm not there yet. I hesitate, take a step back and then two steps forward. I don't have all the answers - but the one I DO have is I know that I am saved by Grace. I know that my God is merciful. And yes - I know right from wrong according to my Word. But it isn't as "cut and dry" as I once thought it was. I am at a point in my walk where I have to ask myself what brought me to the point of "prodigalism" (a word I made up - grinz but I know the meaning). There is/was something lacking in me. Something I tried to fill. And you know - that seems to me like a "piece" so with Humpty - all the pieces that needed to be put back together may have been different things. Some physical, some of the "heart", some of "his past" some of "his circumstance." Its no wonder that all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put him together again. What he needed (and STILL perhaps needs) is the Lord. YOU can't do it. I can't do it - but we have a God who can.  And when "Humpty" reaches a point where he can cry out - "Abba Father!!!" The Lord WILL begin to do it. In His time - not ours. And the "putting the pieces back"  - may take a period of time. That's not up to us - its up to God. So what can you do? PRAY - PRAY - PRAY without ceasing. BELIEVE and GIVE THANKS. Because the God that we serve is in the restoration business - and maybe - just maybe - he's allowing you to either experience or see this "prodigal moment" to increase your own faith.

July 15, 2010

MercyMe - I Can Only Imagine

Ask Yourself - "Do You REALLY???"

 I received some sad news last night - a friend of mine's mother passed away (not of breast cancer). I could feel his pain through the email. I wished so much I could reach through the line and hug him tightly, encourage him. No matter how old you are - losing a parent makes you feel small, alone and vulnerable and lost.  Like a kid in a department store - separated from your mother - panicky even. So I ask you please to pray for my friend. Out of respect of his privacy, I am going to just give his initials - DRK. But God knows who He is and the "Prayers of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16).

Why do we believe? Have you asked yourself that question? Do we REALLY believe? Those questions went through my mind as I tossed and turned last night. It is so easy for us to make our faith into a daily routine. Part of our living our daily lives. But has it become "habit" or - as we walk through this gift called "life" are we REALLY believing why we believe?

I asked myself that as I prayed this morning. Do we just go through the motions? Or are we understanding that this is real? The spiritual realm is REAL. Life is REAL. I've been thinking a lot about Adam and Eve and how it must have been in the Garden of Eden. How beautiful everything must have been - beyond what we can imagine (and I have a vivid imagination - so beyond that is to me WOW! LOL).  Did they walk around touching and praising God for every beautiful wonder? Obviously talking to animals was no shocker - as it came to no surprise to Eve when the snake spoke to her. Did you notice that? She spoke back, casually. I can almost see her communicating with him nonchalantly, with a little shrug of her shoulders as though it was no big deal, just normal day to day conversation. LOL

God had created them - Adam & Eve and had meant them to have ever lasting life.  I wondered this morning if that is why we don't realize how short life is until we get a "jolt" a reminder - through the death of a loved one, or through sickness and disease (all of which came as part of the curse for the fall. Sickness and death weren't a part of their experience in the Garden of Eden until their fall).  I wondered if that is why when we go through life - the "clicking of our clock" is background noise. Our lives are so busy and full of family, life, work, problems, blessings etc.  That most of us (even if we know how precious life is) don't fully "hear" the ticking of that clock.  I know - because that is in retrospect how it was for me. We hear things happening to people and we don't "think" that it will happen to "us."  I guess that is just a part of being human. Until it does.  Suddenly this "life clock of mine is in the forefront - and the ticking so loud that sometimes I just want to place my hands over my ears and I wonder - if it will ever go back to being "background noise" again.

When I woke up this morning and I was thinking about that - I also thought about the scene in the movie "Titanic" the people were going about celebrating, anticipating, dancing, eating, socializing - looking towards the arrival of the ship once the journey was done.  They didn't "see" the iceberg coming. What a shock it must have been. All of a sudden having to come to the horrible realization that the ship was sinking! The chaos, the fear, the panic, the shock. Running up and down the ship wanting to have a firm footing. Wanting to "live." Their plans had suddenly changed. No longer was the destination of the ship's arrival the front and center on their minds. Survival - the desire to LIVE was the only thing I'll bet front and center. I remember watching that movie and especially the part when the violinists continued playing "Nearer My God to Thee." (I think that is what it was).  I guess you could say I'm having a "titanic" moment in my life right now. Are you? Is someone you love? Or maybe as you read this - you are thinking - "That's Casey - not me!" Are you looking at things outside of yourself? It's only natural to do that. In retrospect when someone I love has gotten sick, I've done the same thing. Tiptoed around it. Maybe didn't reach out to that individual - but went instead to a close family member or friend of theirs to say "Is so and so okay? I'm thinking about them. Please let them know." What I should have done was reach out to the person who was sick personally (especially if they were a mutual friend or family) and spoke to them directly. Letting them know I loved them, I was thinking of them - I cared. Its been interesting to me to see that is what we do. We "tiptoe" until we are faced with it ourselves. I think there is still left over in our genes from the time of our ancestors - Adam & Eve a faint sense of "we'll live forever" inside of us.

The good news is that God paved the way for us to have eternal life - through HIM. "For God so loved the world that He gave His ONLY begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVES in Him shall NOT perish but have ever lasting life." (John 3:16)  Notice that - the promise returns again "ever lasting life." That is really what He meant Adam and Eve to have when He made them in the Garden of Eden. How sad God must have been when they sinned. Why do we turn our back on what we know is right? Why do we go our own way? Why do we think we know "better" than God? Why do we think we have "all the answers?"  We presume so much. It's time to get back to being truly "thankful" its time to get back to communicating with God in honesty, with a humble spirit. When I pray - I talk to God. Like I'm talking to you right now through this blog. As the person I am. I ask Him questions, I confess my sins - and I do it because its ridiculous to try and hide anything from Him.  COME ON - He's GOD?!!! Do you REALLY think you can hide things from Him? So I just become transparent and honest about "where I'm at" "how I feel" "what I'm doing." Even in a prodigal state - I knew/know that God sees everything so why not just be honest about it?  Its kind of like when your child takes a cookie from the cookie jar before dinner (after you've told them no snacks or desserts until AFTER supper). And you "see" them sneak into the kitchen take one out and quickly eat it. So you approach them and you say, "Did you just take a cookie from that cookie jar?" And they look at you with wide eyes - "innocently" and shake their head and say "Noooooo." But you can smell the cookie on their breath, you can see the crumbs on their shirt or perhaps their chocolate covered fingers. You know! I think (and this is just my own honest opinion) that it must hurt the Lord that we think He is stupid enough NOT to see what we do. To think we can "pull one over on Him." Can you imagine?! (LOL) All He wants is for us to "confess our sins to Him." TO HIM. Jesus paved a way for us to go directly to the Father (by the blood our Savior shed for us on the cross - it has made a bridge - away we can enter into the presence of God and communicate with Him). I will tell you as a prodigal myself - there are some things we encounter in our walk that takes time to go through. To work through, to figure out - the prodigal son didn't just "blink his eyes, or click his heels and say - there is NO place like home!" and boom! He was home!  He had to JOURNEY BACK. And I'm sure that journey was hard. I'm sure the "enemy" was whispering guilt and condemnation and fear. (Come on you know he was!) But coming back home was a PROCESS for him. He didn't know what he'd be coming back home to. Can you imagine his shock? When he came to the pathway leading home and saw his father standing there with his arms wide open? Or maybe his head was hung with shame - and his view was on his feet - each step that he was making. Maybe he didn't see his father until he actually got to the end of the path to his house?  And then got swept up into his father's big strong arms. Hugging him tightly. LOVING him IN SPITE of himself. Can you imagine the shame? The regret? The tears that flowed from his eyes? The shame, the embarrassment. And to be greeted with such love from a man he had disappointed, hurt? Caused endless nights of worry to? I wish we knew more after that. I'll bet that son went on to "do his father proud" because he appreciated his life more.  He appreciated his father more. And I'll bet - that he used his experience to guide and help others to learn from the experience he had gone through.

No one can tell ME that the Bible is NOT the living Word of God. "The same today as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow" (Hebrews 13:8)  Because when you really think about it -  life really has not changed much  - has it?

July 14, 2010

Heart of Worship

Peace! Be STILL!

 I wasn't quite sure what to write about this morning. I woke up with my spirit kind of down. When you are diagnosed with a life threatening illness - I think it just blows you away. One moment your life was going on as normal - the next moment it has totally changed... The disbelief, the shock, the incredibleness of it all is still processing in my mind.  Its only been three weeks - and I'm still incredulous over it all. Tuesday I will have surgery to have a lumpectomy - and shortly thereafter rounds of chemotherapy and later - radiation. Chemotherapy makes some women lose their hair.  I had finally reached a point in my life where I felt "beautiful" where (although I need to lose weight) I felt "confident." I had even come up with a saying - "Sexiness is an Attitude One Wears... I wear it well!"  I had finally come to a point of recognition that sexiness is not a style, its not a weight - its HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YOURSELF INSIDE.  It had taken me a while to feel that way - and now that is being tested. A woman's hair is her "crown."  If you are a woman - I know you know what I mean. I haven't been a conceited woman - but I finally felt "good" in my skin.  What lesson can I learn about this? I think it is what I've already known - but what society really doesn't promote. That beauty radiates from "inside a person." Although I've been diagnosed with breast cancer - the breast cancer is NOT who I am. Its not "what I've become." Its just something that happened to ME. I'm STILL ME.   They tell you as they prepare you for surgery and chemotherapy to go "wig shopping" before it even happens.  I gotta tell you - I've always thumbed my nose at wigs. EWWW! A wig? Really? COME ON.  I've always taken pride in my curls.  It has taken soooo long for me to accept the fact that I'll never have straight hair (lol) or blond (well - true blond anyhow - LOL).  My breasts have been a good size - after breast feeding three kids, I have felt confident with them (my breasts - not my kids.. Grinz).  Breast cancer really affects so many different sides of a woman.  Although to be honest - I think I'm more upset about the fact I may lose my curls than a portion of my left breast with this lumpectomy.  My mother has raised me to be "A cup half full" person - and as i think of all that has occurred in the last three weeks - I still praise my God.  Because I love Him. I belong to Him.  No matter what - I'm beautiful and special to HIM.  The Bible tells me "He has called me by name. That I am His. When I pass threw the waters He will be with me. They shall not overwhelm me. When I walk through the fire I shall not be burned, the flame shall not consume me. For He is the Lord my God, the Holy One of Israel, my Savior." (Isaiah 43:1-3 - and I personalized it by making it MINE).

Our Father loves us. For who we are - for where we are, for US. He made us. I think about my three children and I think about how I love each one - individually - regardless of their faults.  They are mine! They are precious to me.  There is NOTHING I would not do for them. I would die for them. They are my heart - walking outside my body.  When they hurt - I hurt.  If you are a parent, you know what I mean.  If we feel that way about our children - how much MORE so does God feel about us? He sent His Son to die on the cross for forgiveness of our sins. Jesus gave His life for us.  Why? Because He loves us.  HE LOVES US. The bible says - "If  you, being evil, can give good gifts to your children, how much more so will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?" (Matthew 7:11)

We are so overly critical of ourselves. Especially as women. Our expectations of ourselves, our homes, our families, our jobs - are all very high and sometimes I think that is a way the enemy attacks our mind if we don't measure up.  How many of us have looked at the "Proverbs 31 woman" and sighed.  Wondering if we will ever be like her?  But you know - I'm thinking she was the same as we are.  Sometimes we forget that the people we read about in the Bible are just that - people.  Like you, like me. Imperfect. And that's okay - as long as our eyes are on Him and we are striving to be all He wants us to be.  I've been reading a book, its called "The Pilgrim's Progress"  the version I'm currently reading is the story retold by Gary D. Schmidt and illustrated by Barry Moser.  It is well done.  And it has me thinking... We are ALL pilgrims. All of us.  The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 "There is nothing new under the sun."  We all journey, we all struggle, we all grow. We are on this "pathway" where we are to walk by faith and not by sight and it isn't always easy. We have to trust HIM. Sometimes along the pathway we just have to take His hand. Hold it firmly and let Him lead us where He wants us to go. Let go and let God.   Today is that kind of day. What do you need to release to Him? Let it GO.  Give it to Him.  See His hand?  Its open wide, palm up - ready to receive whatever you place in it.  Jesus told us that "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:30) or in He said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me. For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30).  We are so use to saying - "I can handle this Lord. I can do it." I think especially in our American culture we take such pride in "independence." But God wants us to know - we CAN'T do it all ourselves.  He wants us to know that we are dependent upon Him.  And that is not a bad thing. How capable our Father's hands are. Give him what burdens you have - place it in His hands.  I'm going to do the same. Remember what our Father says about worrying. "There for I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not  sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who are you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:25) He continues on in verse 34 to say, "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself."

Jesus slept during the storm on that sea in Galilee. While everyone else panicked - He was at peace. Is there a storm brewing in your life right now? Keep your eyes focused on the One who commanded, "Peace be still!" (Mark 4:39). Sometimes following a storm - you can see a beautiful rainbow at the end. Let God rebuke the "wind and the rain" in your life. Sometimes I think He is saying that to us - "Peace! Be Still." We only need to listen.

July 13, 2010


Have you Ever "Muck Walked"?

My life over the last two years - has been like the picture you are seeing above.  Notice how the top looks crystal clear - the water beautiful.  But if you look closely - below the surface there is a lot of "muck and yuck." Is that how your life has been? Or is? Outside appearance are you the "class clown" or don't show the turmoil that is going on deep inside of you?  Do you look calm, cool and collected on the outside - but inside you are SCREAMING - hoping that someone will hear you?

When I was growing up I spent my summers at a wonderful YMCA overnight girls camp from the time I was six to the time I was seventeen. It was called (and still is called) Camp Foss. In New Hampshire. Those summers instilled a wonderful foundation within me for the love of nature. I was a camper, a C.I.T. (Counselor in Training), an L.I.T. (Leader in Training) and a J.C. (Junior Counselor). Basically, I grew up there with some of the most beautiful, talented and kindest people I have ever met and who have helped formed ME into the woman I am today. I learned so much those summers.  One of the things we had to do at the beginning of the Camp season in preparation for our campers arrival - was to go to the lake and "Muck Walk."  What is "Muck Walk?" You ask me? Well, the camp would close down after Summer vacation was over - and fall would come and leaves would fall into the lake and then winter would come and so when June came around and it was time for the camp to open for another season - we counselors would help prepare the camp grounds for the opening.  One of the things required - was to throw on our sneakers and bathing suits and go down to where the waterfront was and walk around in the water to stir up the "muck" at the bottom of the lake/pond.  It was a really yucky job. One that I cringed at doing - because it would bring all the "yuck" to the surface of the water - but the results if enough of us did it - was a clear sandy bottom. Ready for the kids to be able to swim in and have their swim lessons in.  I hadn't thought about that part of being a counselor until I started praying for someone who didn't know the Lord. And the Lord had revealed to me - that that person's life had layers of undercover "muck in it." So thick that it would take only them allowing the Lord to "muck walk" "Stir things to the surface" and make that person's life "sandy and clear."

There are certain things in our lives that WE can't do ourselves. We have to give them to God. Having been a "Prodigal daughter" for the last two years - my spiritual "pond" was left without care.  I didn't take care of my "pond" so the muck built up.  And the longer you are in that spiritual state - the MORE muck you have. Kind of like if you don't brush your teeth (LOL) and you get a "plaque build up." When the plaque starts - you can use your toothbrush and floss to get it off. But if you don't - it builds up to the point where when you finally go for a "cleaning" the dentist has to use that tool that scraps it off. And if you wait too long - and don't see the dentist - that "plaque" becomes a cavity.

Life is "mucky" that is why it is so important for us to acknowledge that and to look to our Lord to help us "clear out the muck." We can't do it on our own.  And it takes time.  Somethings the Lord changes within you if you give it to Him (since we have free will) right away.  Other things become habits and it takes a bit longer to release.  Its all about what you are willing to give over to Him.  What you are willing to acknowledge. And in the process of that - and I can only go by my own personal experience - you may have to continue praying "Lord if there is anything displeasing about me to You - help me change it. I can't do it on my own. I don't have the strength, the know-how or even sometimes the desire to do so."  It even mentions this in Romans 7:15 " I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do." And then in 7:18 it says " I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing."

That passage to me is the perfect example of what goes on through the head of a Prodigal daughter/son - even if they won't admit it themselves. Often they just want to "swat it away" like a bug buzzing in their ear. Because at that same point - where the Holy Spirit is whispering lovingly  in their ear "What are you doing? Why are you going there? Not that way - Come back..."  At that same time even if the Prodigal ignores the gentle whispering - old' slewfoot or one of his minions is whispering louder in the other ear - "Ha! You can't go back now! You KNOW the Word of God - you are a total screw up. You'll never stop, you'll never figure things out. Might as well give in. What did He ever do for you anyways? He doesn't care for you - He only says "No! No! No! He doesn't want you to have any fun. Do this - what does He really know anyways? You know what's best for you. Look at how He has disappointed you? You expected A, B, C and you got D. Pffft - how do you know He really cares about you? He's being quiet you aren't hearing Him. He's too busy to deal with you..."

But here is the thing - Nothing surprises our God. YOU belong to HIM. As I've said in previous posts - He will draw the backslider back to Him. "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him." (Hosea 14:4)

Some of us have to go through the "School of HardKknocks." As I said before in a previous post. I've always been "hard headed" but you know for those of us who are - when we learn lessons WE LEARN THEM. It becomes a "heart thing" and then for those of us who are MORE stubborn than the usual person we learn to apply what we have learned - it becomes a "heart lesson" and then even more so - God receives the glory and we are willing, able and transparent enough to extend the right hand of fellowship to someone God brings in our lives behind us - and share our experience to encourage or help that individual.  Some of us have to go through the hard way in order to grow, in order to change - in order to BE what GOD wants us to be. And it takes time. Thank God our God is merciful. Not like some of the people (brothers and sisters in Christ included...) we all know.  Sometimes our own brothers and sisters in Christ can be the MOST judgmental. And in being that way - make it harder for a prodigal to WANT to come back.  I have learned from personal experience over the last two years - NEVER to say NEVER.  Because in all honesty - you are NOT walking in that individual's shoes.  You have no idea what they are going through.  You may think you do - but you don't.  That is why we need to have "gentle spirits" when it comes to ministering to one another. We need to be as Jesus would be.  When Jesus went out amongst the people - notice how gentle is heart was to those that were sinning. He was patient, He was loving, He was truthful and He was gentle. Gentleness, love, patience, and a listening spirit  I'm quite sure bring about a loving restoration to a person's soul who if they are backsliden - deep inside even if they won't admit it - ALREADY are feeling some type of conviction. I've not shared my struggles over the last two years with my blog readers - because it is irrelevant right now. I know what those struggles have been (AND continue to be!) Because restoration takes time, reflection, healing, love, mercy and grace. But the ironic thing - is that there have been three times when I have revealed my "prodigalness" to three brethren that the Lord has told me to be transparent before. To HELP THEM. And it hasn't been an easy thing to do. But I've done it out of obedience. God knows the desires of your heart. He knows where you are in your walk.  He loves you for who you are. If you allow Him to - He will meet you where you are at - and He will begin to bring you back (or your loved one) to HIM. But it happens in His time, and each person learns at a different rate. Each person is at a different spiritual level. Each person "graduates" at different times.  Our job is to pray. Pray for each other, pray for ourselves. Pray that the Lord - will help us to be ALL He has called us to be."  For no matter what - it truly IS by grace we are saved. And Thank GOD it is.