Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It was 2 weeks before Christmas....

Full hands, full heart. Here is a photo dump of how we have been spending our hours these weeks leading up to Christmas!!

    I had the privilege of sharing my God story at our former church, at the ladies Christmas Dinner.
    Also got to hang out with my mother-in-law and sis-in-laws with no kids in tow (girl time!)

    Kids had their Christmas performances (didn't get a picture of the big brother 😐)

    My baby brother's baby turned 1🍰!

    Meran and I cut lots of inches off our hair...ready for the new year 😉

    We attended the For King & Country/Lauren Daigle Christmas Concert.

    Lauren D's music has meant a lot to me these past 2 years, often her lyrics say to God what I can't formulate on my own. So, when we left the concert a bit early and ran into her in the back parking lot you can imagine our delight!! The bummer was that Meran & Alexa stayed til the end, so they missed out on this photo opp/meet and greet. But, I was able to tell her how her music blesses me. What a cool thing the Lord did for us❤️

    Then there is this girl....fashionista in the making!

Merry Christmas! Jesus is so good. May His unending love fall afresh on your Christmas season.

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us". Matthew 1:23

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Anti-ugly goal

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth comes both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way (for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts.)
James 3:9-10

Ouch. This verse of the day slapped me in the face this morning as I ritually pulled up the bible app to read just a drop of God's word before my feet hit the ground running. Have you ever come out of a surprisingly painful time and want to hurl back the same ugliness?
Yuck, I can't stand my flesh response. James 3:9-10 is the best reminder to control our tongue.
You know that saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me...."
Completely false.
We doubly know this with all the bully-ing that occurs in our schools. We told ourselves this rhyme and I guess we believed ourselves, because now we have to have campaigns agains bullying, it's gotten so bad.
And while we don't look at it the same or use campaigns to fight it, it happens in the adult world too. Just another reminder that we live in a fallen world and satan is still sneaking around, trying to trip us up.

But then GOD! Always there to remind us and give us tools to not fall into our flesh. Not on our own strength but God's. There to keep our hearts soft, to hold our tongue, to soothe the wounds and remind us that He gives us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves...
Romans 12:17-19

Ohhh this is so easy to say and so hard to do! Only by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
So today I am reminded, which came in God's perfect timing, to push away my "flesh" response of wanting to repay evil for evil, and keep seeking Jesus, to keep my heart soft so that I may be a useable vessel. Because an ugly heart makes for a cracked and broken vessel, which can only be used if it's melted down and reshaped. He can do that. So thankful for God's grace. I need it so. Always available, never running dry, God's grace. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Healthy Soul

"Hurt people hurt people" that's what the pastor said,  still ringing in my ears from over a week ago. It not a new thought, but I'm seeing it in a different light now. We are all hurt people because we are human, sinners, and flawed. This happened back in the Garden and my kids like to say they'd do it different if it were them in that garden. But let's be real, we would have done the same....because otherwise there would not be a need for the cross...and we know THAT could never be. But, I'm basically the furthest thing from a theologian, so let's move on;).

Hurt people....that's us. It's me, it's you. From the past, in the current situation, probably in the future. We all make mistakes, we all fall into momentary flesh moments, saying the wrong thing, choosing the wrong words or actions. This could be really depressing if we were left to ourselves.

But PRAISE be to GOD we aren't left.

We are claimed and paid for. At top dollar, not even at discount. How's that for valuable! Jesus gave over to God's Will on the cross (John 19:30) ...


So don't go back. Don't regress. Keep moving forward and cling onto the hope you are given. Keep hold of the promise that you are a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) and His promises are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). If you stay healthy you won't hurt. (Duh, Britton)

If you keep your heart filled with Jesus and just Jesus (not man, organization, theme, title, or goal) you won't hurt...and then you won't hurt. 

Healthy people help people. 

Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Practice spiritual health. Be a vitamin for a soul. 

Jesus...just Jesus. 

No Supplements needed.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


On our son Sutton's 2nd birthday he touched a hot exhaust pipe and received a third degree burn on his sweet baby hand. We immersed his hand in a cup of ice water in attempts to soothe the horrible burning sensation, then sped off to the hospital. If he took his hand out, or when the water no longer was cold, the burning sensation would intensify. It.was.horrible! As a mother I wanted to take away the pain. But we relied on the dr and nurses to tell us how to treat it and care for his precious baby hand, so that it would heal correctly, with minimal damage. They gave us special cream that soothed the skin and told us to keep it wrapped. But, he was required to move his hand a few times a day so that the skin did not heal wrong and restrict his hand movement. 
Though we cannot always see it, such it is with us when we are burned by others, or we do the burning.
We are a world of hurting and broken people. And while we try our best to do God's work, and abide in His will, we so often fall short, accidentally injuring those around us. 
Sometimes this is purposeful and sometimes it is accidental because, we are, after all, all sinners who fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Instead of having "hurt feelings" and curling up in a ball, we can instead, have an eternal perspective on this and ask, "God, how are you using this to refine me?". (Cue ice water)
In Daniel 3 King Nebuchadnezzar furiously throws Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the blazing furnace...cranked up so hot, it killed the men carrying these 3 up to the furnace. But, the 3 were not only safe from the crazy hot flames, the Lord was with among them.(Daniel 3:25)
So it is when we go through a trial, fiery and painful....we can be 100% certain that God is with us and has a plan. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) We can call out to Him and He will listen. 
Everything is God's, including our lives. So will He not even use your painful circumstances to His glory?
I love the reminder in Isaiah 54:17 
"No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that accuses you in judgement You will condemn. This is our heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication is from Me, declares the Lord.

May God's word be ointment to your burn.
Soothing your soul and healing it in a way that does not leave permanent damaged.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

At age 41, I just prepared my very first Thanksgiving dinner! It was so fun, what was I so nervous about ?! Okay, I prepared all the main food, with the exception of the ham and turkey, which probably is considered the hardest part ;). But, if the Honey Baked Store is willing to cook them, why would I steal that business from them!? :) I'm so thankful to be physically able to host my family. It seems like such a simple thing...hosting a dozen people, cooking the food, setting the table, washing the dishes...not something I thought I'd be doing when I got rediagnosed 2 1/2 years ago with metastatic breast cancer. The future felt so "unknown" back then. It's still unknown, but I'm learning to not be scared just because I don't know, because God does.
I'm reminded constantly that it's so important to see where God has brought you, and from what you have been spared from (whether it be physical, spiritual or emotional place of hurting) or healed of, or sustained through. Because from that recognition of His movement in your life comes deep gratitude. 
I Thessalonians 5:18 says it perfectly-
In every situation be thankful and continually give thanks for God, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Giving thanks with a grateful heart. 

Happy heart?? Thank God!
Thank God=happy heart
See how that works?
Practice makes (near) perfect :)

    My youngest Turkey

   Three Generations 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hali'a aloha

Fond memories were made last week in O'ahu. We spent the week with both my brothers and their families, along with my parents, who generously made it all happen! What is it about being on the islands? Is it the perfect breeze, the smell of the ocean and air, the gorgeous landscape, the friendly, laid back people, the sunshine (which feels completely different then it does here in CA). Perhaps it's all of them together, coupled with being there with my favorite people? 
A week hardly seems enough time, although I'm very aware it's more time them some get at all. We are never ready to leave, and the 6 of us took turns for 2 days after returning, saying, "I miss Hawaii" or "I wish we were in Hawaii still". Spoiled? Perhaps.... But also very, very thankful and full of gratitude that we got to have this week. No appointments, no tests, no shots, no homework (ok, kids did some on the plane ride each way;), no work...and we got to spend all day together, every day. Pretty much my idea of paradise, this side of true paradise.
Mahalo mom and dad for the vacation. Mahalo Jesus, for giving us another year to be together, to make Hawaiian memories.

A visit to the North Shore/Turtle Bay~
The Pool~

The Beach~

Adventures to Diamond head...
And Hanauma Bay~

Lots of treats~

More Beach~

And tourist stuff....

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Why

It's still several days until we leave for our trip, but we are almost completely packed! Partly because I'm a planner and partly because we are so exciiiiited!
Two years ago, I had just had surgery, removing my ovaries and 2 tumors. After recovery we headed to Hawaii, along wth my brothers and their families, courtesy of my sweet & generous parents.
This year, it's my mom who just had surgery (last month) and again, we are all rendezvousing in Hawaii. I mean, can you think of a better place to rest and rejuvenate together? 
So grateful. So, so grateful.

Thinking about the past 2 years, I am realizing the reason I ask "why" has changed for me. At first it was "Why Lord. Why would you give me 4 children, just to possibly be taken away from them prematurely and leave them motherless" 
"Why do I have to walk through cancer again"
These whys were asked out of a place of desperation and sadness. Totally understandable.
But in the midst of these challenging 2+ years since my metastatic diagnosis I have come to a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus. Not that He has anything to prove to me, because even if He did, I'm 100% sure the cross covers that. But because He is omniscient (all knowing, all wise, all seeing) He knew that I'd have these why moments. Because He is omnipotent (having unlimited power, able to do anything) He has given me sweet friendships, conversations, soul-feeding devotions and space & time to process these past 2+ years, in which I'm still ALIVE and for the most part WELL. And because He is omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) I can have full confidence knowing He "will never leave me, nor forsake me", as It says in Deuteronomy 31:6, "but to be strong and courageous". No matter how long this journey may continue.

Truthfully, I've never been through a tougher season, pound for pound, as these past 5 years. Not just my disease and its progression, but also a relocation, new job, new school, new community, new church and then our family members...walking with them through losses and more disease. 
But, in the same breathe, I will tell you that I've never ever learned so much about the unchanging character of God, myself, caught a glimpse of what God has for me and growth in our marriage, all at the same time.
So, having walked this path thus far, my "why" has changed.
Now it is (mostly) like...
"Lord, why are you so good to me."
"Why have you been so merciful?"
These whys are out of a place of eucharisteo. A heart full of gratitude, because I know He will meet me at every corner, twist, turn...wait, not meet me but rather be with me.

And His answer doesn't change...
Because He doesn't change.

He loves me.
And He loves you.

The Lord is my light, and he saves me.
Why should I fear anyone?
The Lord is my place of safety. 
Why should I be afraid.

Here is something I am still sure of.
I will see the Lord's goodness while
I'm still alive.
Wait for the Lord.
Be strong and don't lose hope.
Wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:1,13-14

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Tardy Update

I feel the need to state the obvious....I have been terrible at keep the blog current! Sorry!
This could mean one of two things;)...I'm either procrastinating, or so busy (which isn't a good excuse, because who isn't busy, right?). Well, the answer is both. So, here we go-the abridged version.

I had a scan and while most everything was stable (praise!) I did have 2 spots, one new and one a bit larger, near my aorta (prayer request). In attempt to stay on top of the disease progression, we came to the agreed decision of switching one of my 2 meds. Now instead of a second daily pill, I receive 2 shots every two weeks. I'm truthfully feeling good and am thankful for where God has me. 

School, soccer and football season is in full swing! Meran is cheering again, as well a member of the dance team. So, our Friday nights usually are spent at high school football games...and we love it. Bellen, Sutton & Jameson are playing soccer and Jason is coaching all 3 teams. In addition, Jameson is playing flag football at school, and has weekly games. This is so fun for him because he loves football but I can't get past the movie, Concussion (if you've seen it, you'll understand). So, for now, flag football will have to be his "football" outlet.

Another prayer request is that my mom has cancer. Or is it, had cancer? She had surgery last month to remove 2 tumors and the dr believes he got it all. She will begin chemo in a few weeks. And then, we are praying that we can close that door for good!

Through all the busy-ness, news, health concerns, memories made, God remains the same. Still faithful, all knowing, all powerful, all merciful....

This verse has come to my mind a lot recently-

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10

Friday, September 2, 2016

Faith glasses

I keep returning these past few weeks to the passage, Hebrews 11:8...
By faith Abraham....obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (As quoted in Streams in the Desert)
Awww, the proverbial 'faith without sight'. To say yes when asked if you would go where God takes you, sends you, puts you, is one thing. But, when your spouse is taken while your children still need raising, you get the news that cancer is back for a third time, or your God told you wait, when you were just so sure He was going to give you the thumbs up...we just may start to feel confused, perhaps even gypped. Why did we sign up for this? Or better yet, this IS NOT what you we signed up for at all! 
Blind faith is not just a saying, but the very definition of faith. These past 4 weeks I have been mulling the over. And true to His unchanging character, God still is there. In the pain, the loneliness, the set back, the confused. 
A friend sent me the link to the song Thy Will by Hillary Scott a few weeks ago. The words seriously are amazing! And a perfect reminder that His ways are not our ways, but it's definitely the way that I desire...once I get over myself, that is;). Like Abraham, I want to be obedient to God, because He is always faithful to fulfill what He promises.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Finding Comfort

It's 3:54am and I can't sleep because my heart is so heavy. Another Mama of 4, a few hundred miles away, whom I consider a friend though we have not met, and possibly never will in this temporal home, is hurting. Praying comfort, comfort, comfort on her.
Yes, the thing that connected us is the thing that we possibly both despise the most in our lives...but at the same time, has brought much "fullness" to our days. 
How is this? 
I realize that this fullness was here for the taking, pre-cancer. But, ashamedly, rarely wore these eternal perspective glasses. And now, what a gift, to be forced to wear them, otherwise finding myself stumbling around, looking down, because that's the only thing I could see. It's so, so, SO much more clear with these things on people! I had such a good talk with my boys yesterday day in the car that I am pretty sure would not have happened if my health was not uncertain. About this world being our temporary home, if & why parents get remarried, and tumor marker numbers...pretty sure I did not have this conversation when I was 8 or 11. 
God is so good. 
He comforts.
Yesterday's reading in, Streams in the Desert, was sooo appropriate. (Okay, I say that about every reading).

Blessed are those whose strength is in you...As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs. (Psalm 84:5-6)

Comfort is not given to us when we are lighthearted and cheerful. We must travel the depths of emotion in order to experience comfort - one of God's most precious gifts. And then we must be prepared to become coworkers with Him.
When the shadows of night-needed night-gather over the garden of our souls, when leaves close up and flowers no longer reflect any sunlight within their folded petals, and when we experience even the thickest darkness, we must remember that we will never be found wanting and that the comforting drops of heavenly dew fall only after the sun has set.
"...so we'll follow wherever He leads us, Let the path be dreary or bright; For we've proved that our God can give comfort; Our God can give songs in the night."

Be encouraged. 
He is comfort.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. II Corinthians 1:3-5

Thank you Jesus for your free flowing comfort. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hume Lake 2016

Summer wouldn't be complete without our trip to Hume Lake.
No wifi✅
Friends & Family✅
Lazy days✅
Memories made✅

We pretty much spent our days here...

Although Jameson & Meran both went to camp for part of the time...

But it took a lot of work (by the guys) to get all the gear down from the cabin to the lake....

Once we were there we....

And when we weren't on the lake we were around it...

No lack of treats either...

Another good week at Hume Lake.

"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible...And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Galatians 1:16a,17

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