Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sharing Stories, Hope & Encouragement

I hope you're ready to use your imagination with me a little this morning!
Ready? Alright!

Put yourself in these circumstances...
You're a young woman
who just gave birth to her first born (a daughter) 3 months ago.

That's a nice thought, right?

Right as your daughter turns 3 months old you are diagnosed with cancer
You're given 15 months to live with typical treatment


There is a more risky treatment available that could extend your life a few years but it is just that...risky and expensive.

What would you do?

If you're like me, you'd probably cry, get angry, cry more, hold your baby extra tightly, snuggle up with your husband who is also scared and hurting. You'd weigh your options and begin to worry about everything that goes with each option (side effects, risks, finances, etc).

This is not just a scenario to be played out in our minds, but this is the real-life story of Heath Von St. James. Just three months after her daughter was born, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma-- a form of lung cancer caused (most often) by asbestos exposure. When Heather was a little girl, she would wear her father's work jacket around when he returned home each evening not knowing that the asbestos particles she was inhaling would eventually lead to cancer...a very aggressive form of cancer.

Like all of us, Heather and her husband were scared, but they faced this entire ordeal with courage and determination. Upon hearing the 15 month prognosis and the other more risky option, they immediately decided to go for the second option. Wouldn't you? What mother can imagine dying before her baby is 2 years old? It was really their only hope. But what mother can imagine having her lung totally removed? That's scary, but not too scary when it comes to saving your life.

In the face of having this intensive procedure, Heather's sister coined the phrase "Lung Leavin' Day" to help make the scary day seem a little less scary. Heather's family gathered to write their fears on plates and smash them into a fire  as a symbolic way of letting their fears go.

On February 2, 2006 Heather Von St. James had the procedure done to remove the cancerous lung.

Now, 10 years later she is still celebrating with her family! She is a survivor of what looked like a very hopeless diagnosis. She has seen her daughter grow, spent more time with her husband and family, and grown courageous in more ways than one. She is now sharing her story to raise awareness for mesothelioma research and treatment.

This February 2 will mark 10 years since the original "Lung Leavin' Day". Heather and her family will gather again to celebrate, write out their fears, and burn them. Ten years is a remarkable milestone when the original prognosis was 15 months! Heather's story has encouraged many others facing a battle for their lives. Take some time to read a little more about Heather's journey and learn about mesothelioma caused by asbestos.

You can check out more of Heather's story here 

or Lung Leavin' Day here!

Then consider your story. It might not seem quite as "heroic" or "courageous" but just like Heather, you have a story. A story that could encourage someone. A story that could give hope. A story that God is writing for you. It may seem simple. Your life may have been relatively easy...or maybe it was extraordinarily hard. Whatever your story, God wants to use it to bring hope to others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all or affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."

Each one of our stories has hard elements as well as exciting, fun, and beautiful chapters. God wants to work through each of our stories to share His love, grace, comfort and freedom with those around us. So, what's your story?

Be courageous. Share.
It just might encourage someone. 


Monday, January 11, 2016

One Little Word

I might be a little bit behind on the "one little word" trend. Typically I spend an afternoon with Hubs planning goals for the year, but this year that just didn't happen. I kept stressing over it in my head, but with sickness over Christmas and other things to keep up with we just never got a chance to get away and go to a quiet spot to think, reflect, and plan. 

So I decided that this year I would keep things a little simpler.
Instead of creating a laundry list of goals that our family would like to see accomplished, I would choose one word for myself to set a precedent for the year. 

As I began praying about it the word that God kept showing me was "rest". 

I tried (believe me I tried) to find a different word. A popular blogger had already chosen that word and I didn't want to seem like I was mimicking her. Also, rest is hard. That's a hard word to define your year. I think it is hard for me because I am such a do-er. I find a lot of my identity in what I am able to get done or how productive I am able to be.  

But God would not stop putting that word before me each morning. It was the only word that sounded right. The only one I could think of. 

So I surrendered to it and finally wrote it out in my journal. 

2016 will be a year of rest. 

Now, I'm not sure what that looks like. 
But I know it doesn't just mean physical rest. It means spiritual rest as well. 
Resting in God and his sovereignty when I don't understand what is going on. And let me tell you...I have had to put that into practice so much earlier in the year than I anticipated! The ball had hardly dropped in Times Square before life started spinning out of control. 

I am trying to make time for physical rest as well...and being pregnant that is so helpful! My energy has been lacking this entire pregnancy and since I have given myself permission to rest each day, I don't feel as guilty for that afternoon nap. 

"Rest" also means saying "no" to things I might otherwise have said "yes" to. 

Jen Hatmaker really helped me with this post she put on Instagram a week or so ago:

jenhatmakerAs you move into 2016 hoping for a saner schedule that prioritizes your actual life and keeps you focused on the things that matter the most, let me share the decision-making filter my agent Curtis always gives me: "If it's not a HELL YES, then it's a no." So that medium yes, that I-feel-like-should yes, that guilty yes, that coerced yes, that I-actually-hate-this-thing yes, that I-guess-so yes, that who-else-will-do-it yes, that careless yes, that default yes, that resentful yes, that I-probably-shouldn't-but-struggle-with-boundaries yes? 
NO. Nope. 
No thank you. I am unable to commit to that this year. Thank you so much for asking, but any new yes I give right now means a no to my family and sanity. I am so flattered you asked and count on my prayers, but I am at my maximum bandwidth right now. I appreciate your work so much, but I've already committed my time and energy this year. I've loved being a part of this, but I am no longer able to continue. We are aggressively focused on x, y, and z this year, so as a family we've agreed on no new commitments. This is what I can give but won't be able to do more right now. 
Now, the things that make your heart race, your blood pump, the fire in your belly burn, your gifts to leap to life, and keep your family and home healthy and strong...the hell yeses? ALL IN, BABY.

So when people I love have put opportunities before me to serve that take my energy from my family and  that don't make my gifts leap to life...I've said "no". Not always what I want to say because I want to serve, I want to be helpful, I want to love well. But saying "no" isn't unloving.

Holly Gerth puts it this way in her book You're Loved No Matter What" 
"Real friends love your 'no' as much as they love your 'yes'. Mary and Martha received a 'no' when they wanted Jesus to come right away.But that 'no' led to the resurrection of Lazarus--a miracle beyond what they could have imagined when they first asked Jesus to come. I wonder if Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Jesus embraced and wept again when they were reunited. But this time the tears would not have been from sorrow. Instead they would be the kind we shed when we see how God can transform even a painful 'no' into a glorious 'YES".

Her words have deeply encouraged me and strengthened my "no" because it is a purposeful "no". 

"Rest" will be a struggle for this productivity seeker this year. But it will be a good struggle. A sanctifying struggle that I pray teaches me more about myself and my God and allows me to focus on the things that really bring life to my soul rather than all the things I feel like I should be doing that actually drain me. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

January Currently

happy 2016! 

I figured I'd begin this new year off with a January currently post. 
I'm linking up with Goldandbloovm for this fun post to talk about what is currently happening in my life in 5 simple areas! 
Here we go! 

{resolving} this year I decided to choose one little word (more about that coming next week). I took several weeks and prayed through what that word should be. If  its a word that is going to define and influence my entire year, I want it to be meaningful and be life giving to me and those around me. The word I felt God continually pointing me to this year is "REST". Both physical and spiritual rest....resting physically from the hurriedness of life and simply resting in Christ for the direction, strength, and grace I need each day. And like I said...come back next week for a more detailed post all about this year of "REST"

{reading} right now I am reading Fit to Burst  by Rachel Jankovic. I purchased it on kindle a while back and finally (after the move) found my kindle and charged it up. I love the short but meaningful chapters in this book! If you're a momma of littles, its a recommended read for sure! I am also trying to complete Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge this year. 12 books in one year. I think I can do it...I think!

{organizing} everything! we moved so close to the holidays and I was so wiped out by this pregnancy that nothing got done well or in an organized manner. Now I'm spending a lot of time getting this put where I want them and figuring out what works well for our new space. Its a lot of work! 

{loving} podcasts. If you know me in real life at all, you know that I talk about things I hear on podcasts all the time. Maybe its the stage of life I am in--surrounded by littles all day--but I really enjoy eavesdropping listening in on other people's conversations. A few that I absolutely adore and  listen to each week are: 
*The God Centered Mom PodCast
*MudStories Podcast
*SortaAwesome Podcast
*Inspired to Action Podcast (but she hasn't had a new episode in a while). 

{craving} this should be easy since I'm pregnant, right? Well...sometimes I crave things and other times I don't, but with this pregnancy its been all. the. carbs. (if it is a sweet carb...cookie, muffin, etc...even better). and also ice cold water. I guess I get more easily dehydrated when pregnant than I typically would so I seem to be wanting cold water and/or ice all the time. 

That's what I'm currently up to in real life! 
Of course there's more, but its so fun to focus on a few specific areas and delve into things I rarely think about. I hardly ever stop to think about what I'm really loving. This is a good practice to keep up (preaching to myself here)! 

Head on over to Goldandbloom to see what others around the blog-o-sphere are currently up to!


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