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.


February 26, 2011

I Will Never Be The Same Again - Hillsong

"Rumors of my premature demise are greatly exaggerated..."

The Pain is REAL
and we have to allow ourselves to FEEL. It's okay to feel. God gave us emotions for a reason.

Have you ever heard the story of "Footprints?" No? Well, it goes like this:  
One Night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you you'd walk with me all the way, but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me." The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

My emotions are running high... Radiation is completed. Treatment is over. After 8 months of diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, radiation - treatment is O V E R.  I have my life back.  I've been given a second chance....

A second chance... The children have spent this week, February vacation visiting their father. The house has been quiet.  But my thoughts haven't.  All of a sudden I'm feeling a thawing of a deep freeze of emotion.  Emotions I was able to put aside - because I HAD to get through each moment, each minute, each hour, each day - Step by step.  I guess I went into automatic pilot.  With the kids around me - I had to focus on schedules. On them. On getting up each day going to Dana-Farber.  Dropping them off at school, picking them up... This week I found myself - alone. In a quiet house.  And all of a sudden the feelings came flooding forward.  And I realize - I'm almost as afraid to live as I was to think of dying...

I'm looking around me and thinking... "Okay, now what?" I am uncertain of myself. And it HURTS. Before all this there was confidence in my step. (Singing: "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never never never never let you forget YOUR a man.. Cuz I'm a woman...." )Remember that commercial?  That was ME.  Now my step is hesitant. I'm uncertain - second guessing, not trusting myself - unsure which way to turn.  Like waking up from a deep slumber I'm looking around at the aftermath of the Tsunami called "breast cancer" that struck a mess in my life. That turned my already crazy jam packed world - upside down.  What a mess!

I had an ass of a boss - who because he had a small company of only 11 employees was "able" to "unofficially" make me have to let go of my job due to my diagnosis.  What he did - the position he put me in was MORALLY wrong - yet legally he got away with it.  I had planned to work through treatment. To commute back and forth upstate NY to my childhood home in Boston where I was receiving treatment at Dana-Farber. It wasn't to be.

Stooping down to pick up the shattered mess of my career. Yep - struck by breast cancer.  Leaning forward to look at this piece of the puzzle - that was my family. Surprising to see WHO is really there for you and who is NOT.... How ironic to see people who ran away from me like I had got the "plague" contact me now that treatment is over.  "Rumors of my premature demise are greatly exaggerated..." (Said dripping with sarcasm). Treatment may be over - but ALL that has happened to me - has changed me.  That will never go away.  There are scars other than under my arm and my lumpectomy scar that is on the INSIDE of me. And I know that there are certain things I WILL NOT ACCEPT EVER EVER EVER EVER AGAIN.

Bitter? No. That would defeat the purpose of given a second chance. I won't live in bitterness. I've learned not to judge. I pray that some of the people who turned away from me - or shy'd away will never have to experience what I've gone through for themselves. Because honestly, you TRULY don't KNOW unless you go through it yourself.

My walk with God? Honestly - I'm working on that. I'm so thankful He has given me a second chance - but there is so much that was happening prior to that that I need to get right with Him.  Not sure how to go about that yet... But at least I know that my Bible says "He knows my thoughts before I even think them." So honestly - He KNOWS.  I just need to unfreeze all those feelings.  I have to allow myself to do that. But its so much easier to turn up the volume of the TV. So much easier to not face it.  But in order to move forward - I know I need to. Piece by piece I need to pick up the pieces of my life.  The old puzzle doesn't fit anymore. It's been altered.  I'm standing before the Lord with my arms stretched out and my palms facing forward. I feel the tears inside of me. But I'm not unfrozen enough to shed them.  They ache deep inside me - like thunder before the storm - they are close by - I know it - I feel them.  I realize that I'm afraid to live. Here I've been given this second chance and I don't know how to go about utilizing it.  Yes I know - pay it forward (and I will). Yes I know - don't waste it (and I won't).  Yes I know - do all you can for your body so that you can lessen the chances of having a reoccurence (working on that...). Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah. I know it.  My head does. My heart doesn't.  I don't know HOW.

Like a baby taking my first steps - I guess there are certain things I'll have to learn all over again... You know, like perhaps - when you were a teenager, and you were in High School and there were certain classes you "just tolerated" because you HAD to take them. "Required courses." Perhaps you sat there behind the desk in your seat - the teacher droning on and on. You're sitting there doodling doodles on the page... And now flash forward - years older - you realize how important that class was - you wished you'd paid better attention in it - it would have "benefited you more now." So perhaps you decide to take an "Adult education class?" And this time - you're sitting forward. Pad of paper and pencil ready to jot down notes.  Not gonna miss a beat.  You understand better now... You're wiser. This time you're gonna do ALL you can to get as MUCH as you can.  Apply it. Use it. Live it. Love it...

Hmmmmm - are you getting this too? Yes? Me too... Class dismissed! Time to go on to the next life lesson...

February 18, 2011

Here With Me - MercyMe

And So Another Chapter Nears its End... The Chapter NOT the Story...

Have you ever had a "wow" moment? You know - one of those unexpected times in your life where you are really touched? Let me explain...

I'm nearing the end of radiation treatment. Started out with having 33 and am now down to 4. Four more to go and I'm finally done with treatment. Wow. It's been a long stretch...

My life changed late last June... Having been diagnosed with Early Stage Triple Negative breast cancer I had no idea I was in for the ride of my life... Thankfully I caught it early - but it was the start of a journey I never dreamed I would be a part of. (But then again who does?)

I attended a "Look Good Feel Beautiful" Class held by the American Cancer Association (one I highly recommend).  I went the day before my lumpectomy surgery was scheduled.  There I was, one of only three women attending a session on how you could make yourself look good - hence, feel good while undergoing treatment.  I was the youngest woman there, there was a woman from England (Dana-Farber is world wide reknown with women from all walks of life coming for treatment).  There was a woman from China there and then there was me.  These women had obviously gone through surgery, and chemotherapy as they were completely bald and without eyelashes.  I felt a little awkward being the only one there who hadn't begun.  But they were so kind.  Looking at me compassionately and encouraging ME. Telling me I was going to do fine!  There I sat with my curls down my shoulders, everything on me intact and THEY were encouraging ME.  One of the leaders of the Class reached into her purse and handed me an embroidered cross that someone had made. Encouraging me and letting me know that God was with me. (The picture is below):
An embroidered cross given to me at the start of my breast cancer journey...

I've carried it around with me for the last 7 months in my purse. Looking at it as a reminder of Who I belong to. Who is the Author and Finisher of my faith - no matter what spiritual stage I am at in my life.

Seven months later, I'm at the end of my treatment journey. Only four more radiation treatments to go.  There I am in my hospital gown, sitting in the waiting room with four other women also waiting to go through their daily radiation treatment. We've gotten to know each other a bit. There are those that are there for different types of cancer treatment - not all are there for breast cancer.  An older woman sits with her daughter - I've seen them coming in for about two weeks now.  They are Cape Verdean (Portuguese) like me. Only my family is American Cape Verdean.  The mother must be in her eighties.  Doesn't speak any english.  Her neck is all red from radiation.  She smiles warmly at each of us every time she comes in.  Her daughter, grown obviously taking her there each day does speak English.  Her mother is there for esophageal cancer.  She is undergoing radiation.  Today is her last day.  We all rejoice with her mom.  There is a bond that only those of us who know what she has been through share.  I get choked up.  I congratulate her and in true  Portuguese fashion give her a warm and gentle hug.  Her daughter and I exchange contact information and then her daughter reaches into her purse, and hands me something so precious and beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.  You see, she lives in Oklahoma. She hands me this beautiful detailed rock that is in the shape of a rose. I look at it astonished. It's beautiful. She hands me a little card with the rose shaped rock that reads like this:

Barite Rose
Official State Rock of Oklahoma
"The rose-like appearance is due to the intergrowth of barite crystals (barium sulfate) formed during the Permian Age of geologic history (250 million years ago).  The rose-like concretions incorporate the iron-stained quartz sand grains giving the "roses" a reddish hue."

This is what she gave me (I took the picture with my cell phone - notice the intricate details on the rock).
Barite Rose Rock
Official State Rock of Oklahoma

Look how beautiful it is? Look at the detail etched into it - not by man but by God!  If God cares so much about the detail of a little stone - how much more so does he care about the details of our lives? I don't feel as though the gesture of her giving this to me, was of her but of God.  I needed to feel special again. I needed to know that I know that I know that God loves me. That He cares. It seems real appropriate that in ending my journey - I'm reminded of what I've already known.  That the steps of the righteous are ordained by God.  That It rains on the just and the unjust.  That God is the Author and Finisher of my faith - and that while I am ending treatment - I am not ending learning.  I look back on these 7 months and I see all the changes that I have undergone.  I had begun to take life for granted.  I had been sad and depressed for the last three years of my life.  And in some way - perhaps I had become "full of myself."  The woman I am today - knows what I THOUGHT I had known already - but really hadn't - how precious life is.  That each and every day is a gift.  That I'm stronger than I thought I was. That I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.  That even when I feel like I am alone - I'm NOT.

So this journey - this chapter in my life is almost over. It has changed me. It has made me a better person. It has brought people into my life that I never would have had a chance to meet - had I not gone through breast cancer. But a new one is getting ready to begin... I don't know what it holds for me but I know who it is WHO is holding ME.  And that to me - is the most wonderous thing of all.  Just as I held this precious tiny little rose rock in my hand, I realize that my Father holds ME in the palm of His hands.  Ready Father? Here we goooo...

February 5, 2011

We Fall Down

Traffic Jams in This Thing Called Life... Who Ya Gonna Call? The Ghost-Buster!!!

Traffic Jam in this thing called life? How 'bout using your GPS? (God Please Simplify)
*Photos by the talented Freelance Photographer, D. Kiely
It's Saturday, the house is quiet. The Kidlets are with their father and grandparents - its my first time in a month being totally on my own. And I need this, I need to clear out the clutter in my head. Take thoughts out "one by one" and shake the dust of them. Unwind the balls of confusion/discord over certain areas of my life and all the "what-has-happened" yarn like balls for the things that have occurred over the past year. Bring them before the Lord like a kid in Show-n-Tell and ask Him to help me sort each one out.  For I'm not strong enough or wise enough to do it myself and I haven't allowed myself the time to get quiet before Him because my life has been like a huge traffic jam and I've lost direction.

Have you ever felt like that in your own life? Like every which way you turn to go - there is a traffic jam keeping you from moving forward?  You think to yourself - "Okay - if it was just in ONE area, I could go "around it" or take a "right" but the jams are every which way. Boxing you in.  What do you do about it?  Well, I'll tell you what I'm doing right now... I'm getting out of my car, climbing onto the roof of it and Yelling at the top of my lungs... "HEEEELLLLLLLLPPPPP!!!!"

My Bible (the one that I've not been able to focus on, concentrate on - or even in my own spiritual discord pick up and read...) tells me "My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of Heaven and Earth." (Psalms 121:2)  So often we think "I can do this - I can figure it ALL out myself.  I got this Lord!" Especially if you have been a Christian for a number of years. You feel like you should be "mature enough" to be able to "figure it out" on your own.  I've found this to be in my own life - a BIG MISTAKE.  There is no shame in admitting that you don't have all the answers.  That you need help. That you can't figure it out on your own.  Sometimes when we try - our mess gets bigger and bigger... Kind of like a snowball that starts out small.  But builds up as it rolls until the teeny tiny snow flake that became a snowball is now a HUGE boulder of snow rolling down the hill with us in front of it! Avalanching.  Ever felt like that?  And WE are the ones who took that tiny situation, opened up a door we should have kept closed and made it into a bigger problem then it ever should have become... (OUCH).

I was given the scripture yesterday by a very dear friend of mine - Hebrews 8:1 "There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  I don't take that as a justification for sinning. But when ol'slewfoot comes around and tries to tie me up in condemnation over things I haven't brought to the Lord for help but tried to figure out on my own when I can't. When my wisdom isn't enough, when my strength isn't enough, when my vision to see farther than the problem itself is weighing me down. When in trying to make the problem go away - I make it bigger!  There are certain things, certain "strongholds" that we  in and of ourself were NOT made to handle.  I'm realizing more and more that God wants us dependent upon HIM. No matter the situation. If we don't go to our "Parent" for help, we can remain in the traffic jam we are in.

Why is it so easy to do other things we do in life - except go before the Father? Why do we find "quiet time to be a burden? Why do we ignore the only solution that can give us what we ALL want most in our lives? A peace of mind.  It should be so easy, shouldn't it?

I don't know about you - but I know that sometimes when I try to get before the Lord and have my quiet time - is when my mind is all of a sudden ALL OVER the PAGE.  Thinking about the things I need to do, thinking about my kids, thinking about my faults, thinking about what I'm thinking about... Laughing... Like a restless child it is hard to still my mind and LISTEN to what the Holy Spirit is trying to minister to me. Who would have thought that "getting quiet" would be one of the hardest things to do???  But Jesus is to be our example, and time and time again in my Bible I see that He went out from among them - for Quiet time.  If HE did it, how much more should we???

This morning - this "quiet morning" I think I have begun to have more "clarity" than I have in a very long time.... I'm far from "resolving" all the little traffic jams in my life right now... But you know - I'm starting to see a "tiny clearing" and I'm thinking I can "squeeze on by" and make some headway.  My direction - wherever the Lord will lead me... Isn't He suppose to be our GPS?  I've got the directional book - but its been in my "glove compartment" for the last 7 months.. Think its time I "dusted it off" and found my way back home...  What do you say? How about you? Are you driving in the car "behind me?"  I'm moving my car - should give you sufficient enough room to move yours...
Smooth Sailing... errrr Driving I mean... ;)