Death…and more.

First, let me get this off of my chest: CANCER SUCKS!! That didn’t make me feel any better, but at least I put it out there.

My Aunt Sharon: Ovarian/Fallopian Tube cancer: Passed September 25, 2016

My Cousin Kim: non-small cell squamous lung cancer: Still alive and kicking! 🙂

My Cousin Bill: non-small cell squamous lung cancer: Passed October 21st.

September 25th began the downward spiral. Matthew and I were at church and we had just finished singing ‘Cast My Cares’ by Tim Timmons. All of a sudden, my cellphone begins to vibrate; it’s my mom. Now, my mom rarely calls my cellphone. And never on Sunday. During Cast My Cares, the Holy Spirit was moving through my heart and brought a strong sense of my Aunt Sharon to mind; not that she wasn’t always on my mind…but THIS was a strong pull. So, I went outside to return my mom’s call and she let me know that Aunt Sharon passed away. I began to weep and told her that I already knew. That the Holy Spirit had prepared me for the news. (I don’t think she understood what that meant). My heart was breaking. Not only for myself, but for my mom, who was very close to Sharon, as well as the rest of the family.

At the same time, my cousin Bill was fighting his own battle with lung cancer. It wasn’t going well, and he passed away on October 21st. My heart broke even more for my family.

October 25th would have been my dad’s 78th birthday. A few days later was the 1 year anniversary of a cousin’s suicide.

It seemed like a never-ending situation. I told Matthew that I was waiting for the next death notice, since death comes in threes. Matthew says it’s a myth, but my family has experienced it before. From 1995-1997, our family experienced five deaths, including my dad’s.

And finally, my cousin Kim. She’s fought her own battle with lung cancer and she is still alive and kicking. I can’t ask for anything more than that. All I can do is continue to pray for her, and the rest of my family. And that’s exactly what I do. I pray for every single one of them.

 

Advertisements

1985, 1989, 1994, 1997…

ICarriedYou2
I’’ll get to those years in a minute.
     Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s a hard subject to talk about. I have lost four babies to miscarriages. That’s what those years in the title represent. But there is one more loss that I don’t talk about. Ever. The only baby whose gender I knew. When I was pregnant with Jason, I was pregnant with twins. Him and a baby girl. We never knew about her until after Jason was delivered by C-section. They found her with the second sac in the after birth. They estimate that I lost her at about 4 months…before I even found out that I was pregnant. Her name would have been Faith Cecilia, after my mom and mother-in-law, respectively. The loss of Faith was most likely why I had such a rough pregnancy, outside of the gestational diabetes. It’s called ‘vanishing twin syndrome’. They only problem is, she wasn’t re-absorbed by my body.
     This news came as a shock to me. I was informed the day after delivering Jason. Per my request there is no birth certificate for Faith. She is not even mentioned in my medical records. But I remember her…every year. Jason is listed as a single birth.
     I think about the 5 children that I’ve lost. The five Angels waiting for me in Heaven. One would have been 30 years old this year. Faith would shared her 29th birthday with Jason this year (I got pregnant at the beginning of 1985, lost that baby and got pregnant again a few months later). One would have been 26, another 21 and my last would have been 18 years old. Maybe just having graduated from high school this past June, maybe in their senior year in high school, probably still living at home.
     I wonder what they would have looked like, who they would have become. I wonder about their personalities, what they’d want to be when they grew up. Being an only child, I’d always wanted a big family. I have it, they are just waiting for me in Heaven. I don’t know why, but remembering them this year is so much harder than it ever has been.

God’s Heart For You – Day 2

By Holley Gerth
Wonderfully Made
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
Where something is made matter to us. Look at the tag on most any product and you’ll likely see a line like these imprinted on it: “Made In China”, “Made In Mexico”, “Made In America.”
And if you could see the line imprinted on your heart, it would read, Made In Heaven. The word ‘made’ usually conjures up vision of factories and impersonal production lines, but the way Heaven creates is entirely different. Every part of you was carefully and intricately crafted by God. Of course, that creation was carried out in your mother’s womb, but the idea of you started in the heart of Heaven itself.
Since the beginning of the world, God has been creating. The word ‘made’ appears ten times in the first two chapters of Genesis. God made light, stars, animals, and finally His crowning creation–people. “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good””(Genesis 1:31). What he said over all creation, I believe He said at your birth too: “It is very good.”” That statement isn’t a reflection of your morality or what other people say (think) about you. It really isn’t about you at all. Instead, it’s the expression of the Master Craftsman looking at His work and declaring its worth.
We often fail to agree with God’s assessment of us. With our words and actions, we fill in the blanks in other ways. Instead of “It is good,” we look in the mirror and say, “It is ugly. It is unlovable. It is worthless.”
In 1987 a British couple brought a painting to Antiques Roadshow to find out its value. They didn’t’ particularly like it and had actually moved it to a shed when they redecorated. Imagine their surprise when the painting turned out to be The Halt in the Desert by Richard Dard, a well-known artist. The painting had been missing for 100 years, and it’s value (£100,000, or about $150,000 today) set a record on the show. It didn’t matter what the couple thought about the piece, its value came from the one who created it.
You and I are works of a master artist as well. We may hide who we truly are and display to the world something we think is more appealing. We may dip our brushes into the paint and cover ourselves with another image. We may even seek to destroy ourselves completely out of shame. But the truth still remains–we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Max Lucado says in Cure For The Common Life, “Da Vinci painted one Mona Lisa. Beethoven composed one Fifth Symphony. And God made one version of you…We exist to exhibit God, to display His glory. We serve as canvases for His brushstroke, papers for His pen, soil for His seeds, glimpses of His image.
God longs for His children to embrace the worth and value He’s given them and then use it to bless others. When we know who we are and whose we are, we’re free to love, live with joy and make a difference in the world.
You are wonderfully made.
You’re formed by God’s hands, dreamed up in His heart and placed in this world for a purpose. There’s no one else like you…You’re one of a kind, irreplaceable. God has given you everything you need and created you just as you need to be to make a difference in your own wonderful way. So go for it, girl. The world is waiting and Heaven is cheering you on.

God’s Heart For You – Day 1

I have begun a new devotional by Holley Gerth. It is called, ‘God’s Heart For You; Embracing Your True Worth as a Woman.’ I am really enjoying it.

Day 1

Accepted

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, to bring praise to God. -Romans 15:7-

It’s easy for me to believe that God loves me. I can understand that He has forgiven me. But making the leap to believing He has truly accepted me is another story. Perhaps that’s because we experience so little true acceptance with each other. The preacher talks about grace but gives us a list of rules to follow. Friends promise to always be there for us, only to turn their backs when we don’t meet THEIR expectations. Families boast of unconditional love but withdraw it when we choose a different path. So like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we hide from ourselves, each other and God.

In Beyond the Masquerade: Unveiling The Authentic You, Dr. Julianna Slattery says, “Facing others without my psychological blemishes is actually more terrifying than going out into the world without a shower or makeup. Far more offensive than body odor are my fears, malicious thoughts, insecurities, shame and pride.”

While we strive to make ourselves acceptable, we also secretly long for someone to catch a glimpse of our true selves and exclaim, “You can stop hiding now–I really do love you just as you are!” In the Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers, one character, Hadassah, miraculously survives an attack. However, she walks away with deep scars and always wears veils to cover them. Most of all, she fears rejection from the man she loves if he ever sees her as she truly is. This moving passage describes what happens when he finally does:

‘”Oh, beloved.” The wounds had been deep, the scars running from her forehead to her chin and throat. Releasing her wrists, he touched her face tenderly, tracing the mark of the lion. ‘You are beautiful.” He cupped her head in his hands and kissed her forehead, her cheek, her chin, her mouth. ‘You are beautiful.” She opened her eyes as he drew back slightly and he looked into them. What she saw melted all resistance, removed all shame.’

Those words touch our hearts because we long to hear them ourselves. Yet there is Someone who speaks this way to our hearts every day. When Christ went to the cross, He made it possible for us to stop hiding. All of our sin, shame and guilt have been erased. The Lord constantly looks at us with eyes of love. His scars bring healing and even beauty to our own.

Will the Lord still reveal areas in our lives that need to change? Yes, of course. But His conviction is about what we do, not who we are. Real friends tell you when you have something in your teeth. They love you enough to speak the truth, and Jesus is our most faithful friend of all. He sees deep within our hearts and tells us when something is stuck there that doesn’t belong. His correction always comes with grace, not condemnation.

When we open our hearts and let God speak to us, we discover, like Hadassah, That we’re truly known and loved in a way we never thought possible. The acceptance we long for is already ours if only we dare to embrace it.

You are accepted.

Hey you, the one wondering if you’re enough, if you’d be loved if anyone really knew you–turn your heart this way for a moment, then lean in and listen close…Acceptance? You’ve got it. You don’t have to look any further than the hands of the One who made you, the heart of the One who loves you. You’re welcomed, held, cherished just as you are and encouraged to grow into all you’ll become. So hold your heart and head high; look the world in the eyes and say…”I’m His, I’m loved. I’m already accepted today.”

Joshua 1:9

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

This verse has come up quite a bit in the past few days. I was thinking of my son and daughter-in-law early one morning. They are going through a difficult season at the moment and Joshua 1:9 came to mind, so I sent it to him.

I was speaking with a friend during the 2Be1 Steak & Roses date night at church on Sunday evening and Joshua 1:9 again came to mind. When I gave her the verse, she said that I was sent to minister to her, as she’s having a hard time right now. We were both near tears.

A gal from one of my Facebook groups and her family are experiencing hardship right now and once again Joshua 1:9 came to mind. I gave posted the verse to her in the group and another lady replied that it had ministered to her.

So, I am posting Joshua 1:9 here. If it ministers to your heart, I have been blessed by you.

Take care and God bless.

My Birthday…

So, next Sunday (9/13) is my *ahem* 49th birthday. 49! Seriously?? 49. I can’t believe it. It falls on a Sunday this year, which means that I will be spending part of my birthday in one of my favorite places: CHURCH.

Saturday night, Matthew and I are having dinner at Red Lobster to celebrate my birthday.

Then on September 19th we are going to see the play, Paul: The Road To Damascus at Lifehouse Theater with members of our church. I am so excited! After the play we are going out to dinner.

The Lord has just been raining down His blessings upon us. He has been ever so faithful. I am grateful to Him for His love, mercy and grace towards us.

Thank you, Abba Father for loving us.

1 John 4:19 (NKJV)
We love Him because He first loved us.

I love my husband!

He is my greatest blessing (outside of our son, Jason). Since we reconciled on December 26, 2012 (our Christmas miracle), he has been so extremely supportive and patient. That’s not to say that we haven’t gotten on each other’s nerves, because we have. We have just learned to handle those issues differently. With PRAYER.

I was sick for two weeks last September, spent two days in the hospital on an IV for dehydration due to a severe case of gastroenteritis in my lower intestine. He took those days off work to be with me, even when I told him not to. Nearly two weeks later, I was rear ended on the freeway, swept across all 4 lanes of the highway, across the embankment where the rear of my car came to rest against the sound/retaining wall. I landed smack dab between the steel pole that holds the freeway sign and a power transformer. I was injured, in a lot of pain, but walked out of the emergency under my own power five hours later after CT scans and x-rays. Matthew has been so patient with me not being able to help with house work. I have issues with my neck and back. I have a pinched nerve in my left arm. There is a currently undiagnosed issue with my left leg. It gives out on me at times. I have taken quite a few falls since the accident. I also have a permanent case of positional vertigo. It happens when I lie down, doesn’t matter the position. It can be quite debilitating. I’m surprised that he’s actually put up with me. I can have severe mood swings due to the pain and vertigo issues. But, put up with me he has. Lovingly.

Now with me starting my own Notary/Loan Signing business, it’s just another chapter. I had a notary and a loan signing job on the same night. I received the calls the night before, confirming the appointments. As soon as he got home from work, I told him that I didn’t know what we were going to do about dinner the following night because I had two jobs. He smiled and said not to worry about it, we’d figure something out.

I am excited about this chapter in our lives. I know as long as we keep God in the center and look to Him first, everything will work out according to God’s plan.

For I know the plans I have for you,”says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Friends

Show Me Your Friends and I’’ll Show You Your Future. -Chaplain Ronnie Melancon-

It’s true; we will travel the same path as our friends, so we must choose wisely. Right relationships are the key, not only to success but to actually staying on track with our God-given destinies. The relationships that we nurture either distract us from our calling or launch us toward His plan for our lives.

God has created us for relationship, and friends are His gift to us. Let’s ensure that the relationships we are building are taking us toward our destiny and not away from it.

Proverbs 13:20 NLT
Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.

I love my friends, ‘old’ and new. And it’s nice to reminisce about old times, but a lot of stupid stuff happened back then and I just no longer want to live in/dwell on the past. I want to make new, better memories (with old and new friends) and live for what God has planned for the future.

The Weekend

Wow, I finally have a chance to slow down and post about the weekend.

First, Matthew worked over 70 hours last week, due to inventory. Then came the weekend. He worked 12 hours on Saturday, while I was at the mini women’s retreat. It was a ‘mini’ retreat because rather than going to the Cavalry Chapel Murrieta Conference Center, it was held at Calvary Chapel Rancho Cucamonga (my home church for the past 17 years). It was nice because we all went home and slept in our own beds. Don’t get me wrong, I loved getting away to Murrieta for the weekend with my sisters in Christ, but there were six of us in one room. Ladies would get up between 5am and 6am to get showered, put make-up on, do their hair (even the ones who showered the night before!), while some of use wanted to sleep a little while longer. So it was nice to be able to go home and sleep in my own bed and not worry about being woken up so early.

Thursday (8/27) I went to the church to help with set-up for the women’s retreat. Friday (8/28) was the beginning of the retreat, where I helped serve in the dining hall. I was ‘in charge’ of the gluten-free meals/desserts for the weekend.

Friday night opened the retreat with dinner from Panera. I had the Greek Chicken Salad. It was so good.

The theme of the retreat was ‘Stories of the Kingdom’. It was based on the verse, ‘Then He spoke many things to them in parables.’ Matthew 13:3

Cathy Dickinson opened the retreat with a teaching on Seeker of Truth with the following references:

Colossians 1:13; Luke 4:43; Matthew 13:10, 13:34-35, 13:10-17, 13:44-48; Isaiah 55:1-2; Deuteronomy 7:6-8; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Philippians 2:5-11; John 3:16-17; Hebrews 9:22, 2:16; Luke 18:10, 7:22-23, 17:13-19; 1 John 4:9-10; Romans 5:8 and Malachi 3:5-17. It was a great teaching.

Saturday Janice opened up the Saturday session by interviewing the three speakers. They were very funny, sweet, loving. You could tell that they really loved their families.

Jeannette Walls opened up the day with a teaching on Prodigals, using the following references:

Luke 15:1-32; Romans 5:8; 10:21, 2 Corinthians 5:17; Psalm 73

Prodigals don’t have to be just your children. Prodigals can be any family member, friends, co-workers, etc…

The next teaching was by Cathy Dickinson. She taught on Foolish and Wise Builders, using these references:

Matthew 7:24-29, 5:20; Luke 6:46-48; Romans 9:30-32, 10:17; Jeremiah 13:11; 1 Peter 2:8.

Similarities of the Foolish and the Wise: Both Called Jesus, Lord. Both heard Jesus speak.

Why we choose sand: We are lazy. We think it saves time. We think we have plenty of time. We don’t like the cost. We like the sand. We are afraid. We think our way is better.

We then had a two hour break for lunch, provided by Gandolfo’s New York Deli. Yummy!

After lunch, we had a skit based on The Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32. The team did an awesome job!

Jeannette Walls got the afternoon session started with The Expectant Servant, using the following references:

Luke 12:35-40; Mark 13:32-37; Read Mark, Ch. 13 for signs of the end times; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6; Revelation 22:12-15; Matthew 24:44; Hebrews 3:12-15, 10:23-25; 2 Peter 3:9.

We then had Afterglow. I love Afterglow. There is worship music, prayer, love. I asked for prayer that the Lord would baptize me with the Holy Spirit. I also prayed, asking the Lord to reveal my prayer language. The weekend is always an emotional one for me, but more so during Afterglow.

We then broke for dinner, catered my The Taco Guys. Their food is always good. Their crew is always on top of things.

After dinner, June Hesterly did the final teaching on The Midnight Caller & Persistent Widow, using these references:

Luke 11:5-13, 18:1-8

After the teaching, we had communion and worship. In between teachings, worship service was provided by Gia Lucid. She was awesome!

The retreat ended at 9pm.

Sunday, we had Pastor David Rosales from Calvary Chapel Chino Valley. He was very funny and gave a great teaching, which went hand-in-hand with the women’s retreat. His teaching was on Parables, using the following references:

Matthew 7:24-27, 7:13-14, 7:17-20, 16:24, 25:21; Proverbs 25:2; Acts 17 (Greeks & Hebrews); john 13:17, 8:31-32;         1 John 2:4-5; Mark 6:20; James 2:26, 5:11; 1 Peter 4:12; Psalm 119:67, 119:73, 18:31, 34:19, 42:8, 62:7; Jeremiah 2:13; Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:6-7; Job 13:15, 19:25, Chapters 1&2.

After church, Matthew and I went to see War Room by the Kendrick brothers. OMGosh!! It was an awesome movie about prayer and being at was with the enemy (satan). I give it 5 Kleenexes…because that’s about how many you are going to need to get through this movie. I highly recommend everyone go see this movie!

Women’s Retreat

So this weekend is the women’s mini-retreat at Calvary Chapel Rancho Cucamonga. I am so looking forward to it. I am serving in the women’s ministry during the meals, I get to hang out with my BFF all weekend and we are going to have some awesome speakers. The retreat id going to be at the church, which is nice. Although I did like getting away to Murrieta for the weekend retreats, with the retreat being at the church, I’ll be able to go home and sleep in my own bed. We also won’t have to worry about 5 other women in the room stumbling over each other to get ready and 5-6am in the morning. lol

The theme of the retreat is Stories of the Kingdom, Matthew 13:3. We are getting a charm to add to our charm bracelet. This year it’s a silver bible that opens. I will post pictures sometime on Sunday.

The retreat ends Saturday night. Sunday, Matthew is serving on Sunday and after church we are going to see ‘War Room’ by the Kendrick Brothers. Movie Tagline: Prayer is a Powerful Weapon. These are the same people who put out Fireproof, Facing the Giants and Courageous. I am so looking forward to the whole weekend. It’s going to be a huge blessing.