Pruning

Summer is drawing to a close. The months of bright, festive flowers that beckon and sing to the pollinators and picnickers is dwindling down. There will be a few days of heated fury and defiance, where summer rebels just a bit – blazing hot and fierce. Time is almost up, and it knows.

The garden knows, too, and begins the descent into autumn. The spring and summer flowering plants and bushes slow and droop, dropping dried blooms, except for those that flourish and delight in autumn, bringing fresh color and excitement to a waning garden.

With this changing of the guard comes a season of pruning.  Much needs to be done to keep the garden looking loved, cared for and peaceful. Garden shears, trimmers and trowels are still needed.

Upon close inspection, one sees the stems, leaves, vines, and small branches shut down, wither, and die back. The perennials need this season of pruning for survival; they need someone to cut away and remove those areas that are no longer serving them or the garden. At times the pruning seems brutal, harsh, and perhaps cruel as some parts are cut away so severely there is hardly any of the original plant left.  All is cut away that is not actively helping, nurturing, and stimulating growth in the plant. Those dead and dying off parts suck vital nutrients from the healthy stems, branches, and leaves. A good gardener knows that they cannot be left to compete with and deplete the healthy plant.

Bending close to check each branch and stem, the gardener determines where best to trim and cut away. At first glance, a stem or branch may look completely wasted away, yet a closer look reveals tiny, minute new growth attempting to push its way out. The gardener values this new growth, barely visible except to the one who actively seeks and delights in nourishing this fledgling sprout of new life. All that is above it will be removed and tossed away, allowing plenty of room and careful tending to encourage the new life.

Do you see how this imagery of a master gardener lovingly tending his or her garden applies so beautifully to how the Creator loving and intentionally prunes, tends, and cares for each of us?

The pruned plant may look bedraggled and worse for wear, hacked and shorn off, appearing vulnerable and fragile. But this is where the unseen work takes place in the root system below the surface.  With the dead and decaying parts pruned away, the roots are free to prepare and strengthen the fragile plant for the new life waiting for rebirth when the season is just right; when spring comes and the time for its new beginning arrives. The quiet season of strength building is vital for this plant and is vital for us, too. When the Master Gardener deems it is time, new life will burst up, break forth and take its place in the Garden of Life, amid humanity, where the plant and you and I will live out our purpose, delight those meant to encounter us and be deeply nourished from a root system well established and fed by the Master Gardener and His living water.

The pruning season is hard. It hurts and can leave us feeling like there is nothing left of us but stumpy, stick-like nubs that are ugly, barren and have no purpose. But we can’t see with the eyes of the Master Gardener, who sees these shorn off places as a thing of great beauty and Divine Purpose, because He knows what’s coming. He sees the pruned places for what they are; stealers of joy, a heavy weight of bad habits, bitterness and anger, idols we erected in our search for happiness and value, and greedy competitors that robbed precious energy.  I imagine Him smiling and laughing in anticipation of all that He is doing below the surface to the root system of our lives. Every nip, cut, snip and prune hold tremendous value and purpose. So, can we endure for a little while, during the quiet autumn of the pruning season, to see the joy, delight and surprise that will spring forth?

Divine Encounters…is LIVE

Divine Encounters…IS LIVE!! Available on Amazon (Kindle eBook & paperback), Barnes and Noble (Nook), almost finished uploading to Kobo (eBook); available soon in Target.com, Walmart.com...

I’m in happy shock that it is out doing what it was created to do, sent forth with prayers and blessings to accomplish its purpose. This has been such an amazing journey; I hope I get to do it again! 😊 For those of you who supported, prayed, encouraged and gave feedback along the way, you made such a difference to me and I am very grateful. These are things I can hold and treasure up in my heart.

If you purchase and read my book, I would be so thankful if you would leave a review/rating. It helps me grow as an author and it keeps my book from getting lost in the algorithms and bottomless pit of Amazon books, hahahaha!

Ahhh…it’s time to rest my brain a bit now. I can call myself a published author and I still can’t quite believe that’s me.

Cheers!

Melissa

Coming very soon…

Hi everyone! I’m excited! My book is very close to being published; waiting on a proof copy of the paperback to arrive. Once I see it’s just how it should be, Divine Encounters…will go live on Amazon KDP (eBook and paperback), Kobo, Barnes and Noble Press and Google Play Books. Here is a sneak preview of the cover and blurb.

When it is out there and ready I will publish again with the links.

I can’t wait for her to be out in the world, doing what she was meant to do!

Living Blessed

My coffee mug has the word Blessed inscribed across the front. The letters are big and bold, like a confident declaration.

Sitting at my kitchen table, I watch the morning unfold in my garden. There are a variety of birds at the feeders that sing as they jostle for position. They wait their turn, sometimes with nice attitudes and other times, not. Other birds scratch and scritch among the garden debris, ferreting out whatever treasures are hidden in the rich dirt. Watching these birds go about their daily business, I think about the word blessed. The dictionary says it means consecrated; holy; sacred; blissfully happy or contented. These words are beautiful. I want to be these words, feel, and live in these words.

Living and being blessed often seems elusive; like a thought or elevated idea that is difficult to truly capture. As I pondered this idea, I began to see that the word blessed is not a higher thought on a difficult to achieve spiritual plane.

Imagine a typical day – you wake up and grab your coffee in your favorite mug. Perhaps you watch the morning unfold in front of you on the patio with a soft breeze floating past, all kinds of sounds and scents in the air. What if you decided to be grateful that you are alive; able to see, smell and experience nature going about its business in the Divine order of things? Is that not sacred, bringing bliss and contentment? What if you witness a startling and unusual act of kindness causing you to pause, tear up and have your faith in humanity restored, if even for a moment? Is that not holy? Is that intersection of the Divine and the human, not sacred ground? I wonder, if when I’m making dinner, listening to music, or chatting with Jesus on a walk in my neighborhood, those places become sacred, holy, and divine. Blessed.

But… what if the day isn’t full of things that make me blissfully happy? The car accident that totals the car, the child who makes a poor choice and you see no clear way out of it. Maybe cruel words were hurled in the heat of the moment, and they can’t be taken back. Perhaps there is a diagnosis you never saw coming. Is there room here to declare “I am blessed?” Yes.

Some blessings come after the hurt and wounds. The Divine often shows up in miraculous ways, turning devastation into glory, failure into victory, wounding into strength and the impossible into something to be remembered in awe and reverence, because there seemed to be no good ending, yet there was.  To live blessed, we need to be alert and seek it out. It won’t always show up immediately. Blessings may not be dressed up in blissful happiness and a cute outfit. Blessings may come dirty, scuffed up, straggling and a bit off kilter, but will come. I have seen them come in both forms – equally holy, sacred, consecrated. Blessed.

I want to live expecting blessings; bloom where I am planted and thrive, no matter what it looks like. Holy, divine, sacred, and blissful happiness is all around us, waiting with open arms for us to slow down and seek it. What is sought will be found.

The Tapestry

The wool threads display the richest of colors as they flow across the loom; some vibrant and brilliant, which immediately draw the eye and capture attention, while other shades and hues are subdued, calming and deep, visible only to those who truly see. The Master Weaver has been at His work forever and He will not stop until it is completed. His breath creates and calls into existence that which was not, into what is. His thoughts and His songs, His glance and His robes are all part of the Divine dance that weave and blend to make a way where there wasn’t one.  Supernatural, un-stoppable, beautiful.

We each have a unique tapestry. No tapestry is the same, yet our individual threads intersect, overlap, advance and retreat as the tapestry is woven and the Creator’s plans come into being. What He sends forth will not return void. It will accomplish the exact and perfect purpose for which it was sent. Perfection. Mysterious. Holy.

I imagine an open space that is peaceful and joyful, where the Master does His creating. It is a place filled with pure, flowing water, incense, and beauty. It is called Holy Ground. This sacred spot is where the weaving happens. It is precious and well-guarded. There is joy, tender love, hurt, and tears in this place. Laughter and grief intermingle and twine about each other in a dance that is gorgeous, fierce, and completely untamed; terrifying and yet carefully orchestrated.  Who can contain and control what Heaven has spoken and breathed into life?

The individual tapestries stand alone, yet they do not. Each one is carefully and precisely ordered to intersect, surprise and flow into the others. Each tapestry is necessary for the others to come to fruition. Certain tapestries will be woven together for a lifetime, others for a few moments, years, days, or seasons. Some may barely skim the borders of another, yet there is a Divine purpose for the skimming and the overlapping, the touching, and intersecting. The Creator knows and that is enough. He sees it for how it is, how it was, and He will see it long after we are called home. Perhaps we will see His master plan with unveiled eyes, once blurred from striving to understand, force or remove these divine intersections.  What is woven together can’t be undone by the tapestry. All the struggling is futile and distracts from the beauty unfolding minute by minute in front of us. No, we can’t foresee, tame and reverse that which was breathed by Holy breath into existence.  This is where hope and faith must come into play. There are lessons that must be learned, hurts healed, and other tapestries that need the colors, hues, and patterns the Weaver chose to color your life tapestry.  These will not always blend in perfect harmony. This mixture will at times appear chaotic and unsafe, as if they should not have been allowed to brush against each other. The Master Craftsman knows how it all unfolds because He saw it from the beginning. Alpha and Omega.

What appears as chaos, pain, and discord in the moment is part of the dance. He knows the steps because He created them. We can’t pretend to understand the whys and purposes behind His plan, but one day I hope we will. When the final thread in our tapestry is woven and the Weaver shepherds us into the place called Holy Ground, we will see how it all blends into something lovely, ordered, and precise and we will stand in awe of it; smiling through tears of understanding, as the height, breadth, and depth of His perfect love covers us. We will watch in fascination, as the remaining tapestries are sung and danced over, breathed upon, and woven together until He leans back from His loom, declares it is finished, and brings His masterpieces home, to be forever displayed in the Most Holy Place, for all of eternity.

Angels

Have you seen an angel or had an experience that’s left you full of wonder, mystery and so profoundly moved that you know you’ve encountered one? I would love to hear about it!

I absolutely believe angels exist. I believe we encounter them and their divine presence, as they carry out their God-ordained work among us, more often than we realize. We can miss these carefully orchestrated encounters because we are not actively looking for God’s presence, work and movement in our lives. The awe inspiring encounters that we do see and witness, are often minimized to chance and circumstances aligning and planets and serendipity. We are a busy, self-reliant and proud species, we humans. Admitting that Someone greater than ourselves keeps a close and constant watch over our every move, breath and encounter is hard to swallow, when pride slithers in and whispers that we don’t need anyone or anything. We’ve got this all under control. The idea that God already knows and has breathed into existence every single thing that we will encounter, in every moment of our lives is almost too much to bear. It is much easier to be fanciful and think that WE have actually done, seen, figured it all out.

Psalm 91:11 and 12 – “For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”

What might an angel encounter look like, feel like, be like? It won’t always be phenomenal, historical, widely broadcast and visible to multitudes of witnesses. It won’t always be a cast of heavenly hosts singing and welcoming the Savior into the world. But it is still divine, miraculous and history making for the one encountering an angel sent by God.

Maybe it looks like an accident that absolutely SHOULD have happened, but somehow, miraculously did not? Or it could be an encounter with a stranger that is so precise, needed, timely and perfect that there really isn’t another option, except for an angel encounter or a God-move that uses a common human to fulfill a divine plan. Perhaps someone shows up at exactly the right time, provides aid and kindness and completely disappears before a word of thanks can be offered; no one else saw or encountered that person, but you and it’s truly beyond explanation; but it isn’t, is it? God commands His angels to be all around and about us every single place we go. No, they are not God and are not to be worshipped, but they are commanded by God. They are about His business in our lives. That brings me comfort, despite the fact that bad things do still happen. Not every sad, tragic, frightening thing is kept from us and that is beyond what I can explain. But, God knows and He sees and He filtering, constantly, everything that touches us.

Several years ago, my son and I were driving on I-5 toward Redding, CA. All was fine and low-key until it wasn’t. A car passing us suddenly lost it’s entire drivers side wheel. It shot straight in front of our car, bounced and flew backwards, heading directly for our windshield. We were in the fast lane, 70 mph +/- with a guardrail to the right and the swerving car with the missing wheel to left. In slow motion, I watched in terror as that wheel was shooting straight at us. At the absolute last moment, it veered completely opposite it’s trajectory path, physically impossible, as if something with an incredible amount of force pushed it, and the wheel hit the guard rail and totally stopped, no injuries to anyone. My son and I would surely have been killed or gravely injured that day, had angels not intervened and brought that spinning tire under God’s control. The divine among us.

Another time, a casual walk in the park suddenly became a very frightening encounter with a stranger intent on harming me. The man and the danger were circumvented and not permitted, as I felt Jesus telling me exactly what to do and say and physically felt His command and His angels’ presence blocking the man and event that was meant for evil. These are but two of the angel encounters, big and small, that I have experienced in my lifetime. Some encounters were meant just for me that spoke volumes and changed everything. Luke 4:10 – “For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; “

I have had angels and their role in our lives on my mind, since Advent, Bible verses and Christmas carols, all speaking to the presence of angels and the encounters with humans over the centuries. It hasn’t stopped, you know; these angel and Christ encounters. I believe they are happening all over the world, all the time, in the mundane and trivial; the frightening, life threatening and the funny; the lovely and the tragic; the victory and the joy. A smile, a kind word and actions from strangers and the opportunities we are given to entertain angels, as we carry out Jesus’ love for others. Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Eyes open, hearts receptive, ears listening. The divine is all around you.

Blessed

My new coffee mug has the word Blessed inscribed across the front of it; letters big and bold, like a confident declaration. When I saw that mug on the shelf, it called out to me. I had to have it; I want to feel blessed and be blessed.

This New Year’s morning, I sat at my favorite spot at my table, where I look outside my slider and watch the morning unfold. There is often a variety of early birds at the feeders who are singing, as they jostle for position, waiting their turn; sometimes with nice attitudes and other times, not. There are the other birds, scratching and scritching among the garden debris, ferreting out whatever treasures are hidden in the rich dirt. Watching these birds go about their daily business, I began to think about the word blessed. The dictionary says it means consecrated; holy; sacred; blissfully happy or contented. These words are beautiful. I do want to be these words, feel these words, live in these words.

I have often thought of living blessed and being blessed as something elusive, more like a thought or an elevated idea, than something I could truly capture, do and live inside of each day. As I pondered my birds and the beauty of a new morning, in a new year, I  began to see that the word blessed is not a higher thought on a difficult to achieve spiritual plane.

Imagine a typical day, in which you wake up and grab your coffee in your favorite mug. Perhaps you watch the morning unfold in front of you on your patio with a soft breeze floating past you; all kinds of sounds and scents in the air. What if during this peaceful time, you began to feel grateful that you are alive; able to see and smell and experience nature going about its business in the Divine order of things? Is that not be sacred and pure; bringing you bliss and contentment? What if during your ordinary day, you witness a startling and unusual act of kindness, that causes you to pause, maybe tear up and have your faith in humanity and goodness restored, if even for a moment? Is that not holy? Is that intersection of the Divine and the human, not sacred ground? Hmmm. I wonder when I’m making dinner, if I play worship music that brings me into the Divine presence of Jesus, or when I pour out my heart to my Father – the good, the terrible, the truth of my heart – on a walk in my neighborhood, if those places become sacred, holy, and divine. Blessed. Blissful happiness, contentment.

But…what if the day isn’t full of things that make me blissfully happy and content? The car accident that totals the car, the child that makes a very poor choice that has lasting ramifications and you see no clear way out of it. Maybe cruel words were hurled in the heat of the moment and they can’t be taken back. Maybe there is a diagnosis you never saw coming. Is there room here to declare “I am blessed?” Yes. Yes, you can declare yourself blessed. Some blessings come after the hurt and wounds. The Divine often shows up in miraculous ways, turning devastation into glory, failure into victory, wounding into strength and the impossible into something to be remembered in awe and reverence, because there seemed to be no good ending, yet there was.  I truly believe that to live blessed, one has to be alert and try to find it. It won’t always show up immediately and may not be dressed up in blissful happiness and a cute outfit. It may come dirty, scuffed up, straggling and a bit off kilter, but I do believe it will come. I have seen it come in both forms and both are equally holy, sacred, consecrated. Blessed.

At this start of 2020, I want to live expecting to be a blessed person. I’m not good at it yet, I confess, but I want to be. I want to bloom where I am planted and thrive there, no matter what it looks like. Maybe we can do this together? I absolutely believe that the holy, divine, sacred and blissful happiness is all around us, waiting with open arms for us to slow down and seek it. What is sought will be found. May we see it, grab hold and never let go!

 

Holy Ground

Easter is upon us. As I reflect on the most tremendous sacrifice of love the world has ever known, I am overwhelmed. I can’t wrap my mind around this kind of love. Before Creation, Jesus knew the sacrifice He was fully willing to make for you and for me. He knew every doubt, sin, unbelief and evil thought we would harbor; every selfish, unkind act we would commit; every self-sufficient attempt we would make to be in control of our lives and ignore the leading of His Spirit. He knew. He died for us anyway.
John 3:16 – “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
One of my favorite songs is Holy Ground by Passion. When I hear and sing the words to this song, I tear up. Not out of sadness or pain. These tears come from a heart that’s grateful for the grace, mercy, healing and compassion that is beyond what I can understand. Tears come out of love, awe and reverence for the power that is in the name of Jesus.  As the words to the song convey, the power in the name of Jesus changes everything! Absolutely everything. The personal encounters with Jesus I have been blessed and honored to have, of His presence, power and healing, leave me without adequate words. As you read the words to part of the song, I pray that they reach out and touch you in a personal way that is just between you and HIm. I pray the words you are desperate to hear from Him, the love you desire to know, the peace you have been so long in seeking, will fall down over you.
“Chains fall, Fear bow
Here, now
Jesus, you change everything.
Lives healed, Hope found
Here, now
Jesus, you change everything.”
He knows where healing and renewed hope are desperately needed. He knows every single detail about the chains that need to be broken and what caused them to bind you in the first place. He can heal all of that. Fear will be cast down and put in its place before the power of His great name. Jesus knows exactly why we need Him and in what circumstances we need to see a miracle. May our burning, beating hearts become holy ground, where the divine and humanity intersect and dwell together, creating something beautiful, miraculous and eternal.
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

 

Call Upon the Lord

Call Upon the Lord

The song Call upon the Lord by Elevation Worship has been on repeat for a few weeks now (lyrics below).  I cannot get enough of it. I play it over and over again. Its theme will never get old, out dated, or worn out. Call upon the Lord and He WILL rescue and save; He WILL bring peace and healing.

“We need no other hiding place. Our hope is safe within Your name.” This is so beautiful. When we are tired, worn out or weary, Jesus is our hiding place.  His covering blocks out the noise, chaos, fear and uncertainty that the world relentlessly shouts. In His presence, we don’t have to listen to it. Our hope for safety, to be rescued, for healing and restoration, for receiving forgiveness and offering it to others, is all safe with Jesus. He won’t crush our hope; He restores it.  He won’t dash or mock our dreams; He planted them inside us and expands them and opens doors that only He can; He doesn’t withhold and punish; He died in our place, so we could have life with Him forever.   The hope and faith that He hears me, sees me and knows me; every single situation, wound, heart break and victory, which fashioned me into who I am, kept me hanging on through some heavy trauma and pain I have experienced.  Knowing that what He began He WILL sustain; knowing that Jesus has a plan and purpose behind my wounds brings hope. Those wounds are now scars, because of His healing.  I’m not anonymous, forgotten or forsaken.  In fact, I am so deeply known that I am free! Jesus’ name heals.  He alone is strong enough to save. There is power in the name of Jesus.

At His name “every enemy will flee, as we declare Your victory!” Jesus is our victory. He defied death, defeated the enemy of our souls once and for all, and He offers life to all who call His name. He is right there next to you, as you read these words. He is the breath in your lungs, the beat of your heart. There is nothing about you He doesn’t already know. No secrets with Jesus. He sees you; He sees me. He alone breaks down every stronghold we erect to protect and wall ourselves away from pain. He knows why those walls were erected. He was there. He watched us build them. The pain you and I try to hide with our walls, break His heart. Your walls probably look different than mine. A wall could look like pride, arrogance, self-reliance, fear, needing to be right, promiscuity, coldness, being shut off from others, sarcasm, humor, obsession with our looks, weight and appearance, and the list could go on. Jesus knows better than we do, why we felt we needed those walls.  He waits to be invited into our lives. He is a gentleman.  He doesn’t force Himself. Jesus will meet every need we have, even that niggling, ever present pricking, that we don’t fully understand; He does. He is enough.

In my own life, I have experienced healing and restoration from things so broken and devastated, I honestly never thought any of it could be healed or restored. I heard Jesus speak to my spirit and say words so similar to these lyrics, “RISE! Your shackles are no more, for I (Jesus Christ) have broken every chain!” He has, He did and He continues to do it. I found freedom.  Those lyrics mean so much to me. I am not sure I can accurately describe the beauty of it, the freedom, the peace and safety that I feel way down deep. I’m not sure it is describable, honestly, because we have all walked different paths and experienced different wounds,  but let me assure you, once you let go and allow yourself to experience His healing, you will never be the same. Yes, you will come face to face with pain, disappointment and fear, because that is life on this planet. But know that Jesus is right there with you, as close as your next breath and will cover you with peace that passes all understanding, if you allow Him in. If you ask Him, He will give you wisdom and guidance to navigate everything life will throw at you.  He will take your ashes and give you beauty, He will give you joy for your sadness and change out that robe of heaviness for a light and lovely garment of praise. It really is supernatural, and guess what? It’s a gift!

I would be honored to hear your stories of Jesus’ saving, healing, shackle- breaking power in your life, if you would like to share.

“I will call upon the Lord, for He alone is strong enough to save….”

Call Upon the Lord by Elevation Worship

We need no other hiding place                        All of the heavens and the earth

Our hope is safe within your name                Announce the fullness of your worth

This we know, this we know                            This we know, this we know

You promise never to forsake                          And every enemy will flee

What you began you will sustain                    As we declare your victory

This we know, this we know                           This we know, this we know

I will call upon the Lord                                     I will call upon the Lord

For he alone is strong enough to save           For he alone is strong enough to save

Rise your shackles are no more                        Rise your shackles are no more

For Jesus Christ                                                      For Jesus Christ

Has broken every chain                                       Has broken every chain

Jesus’ name will break every stronghold

Freedom is ours when we call his name

Jesus’ name above every other

All hail the power of Jesus’ name

Some things cancer taught me…

April is a big month for me. On April 26, 2012 I celebrated a HUGE victory. That is the day, at 2:15 pm, I was told, “You are cancer free!” After being diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer in November 2010, I began surgeries and treatments that ended in April 2012.  

As this anniversary date approached, I had many things running through my head; random memories of the cancer center and that “one of a kind, not found anywhere else” smell; the taste of the peppermint candies I sucked on to keep the horrible taste of saline and chemo out of my mouth; the blanket I brought to keep warm during treatments and comfy pink slipper socks. I can still hear the sound of radiation equipment being dialed into place. It was such a lonely feeling being alone in the radiation room, as the technicians went behind layers of safety walls, and I lay there exposed, cold and numb, willing the machine noises to stop; hoping I wouldn’t burn.

Good memories also pop into my mind of my faithful husband going with me to my treatments while the meds flowed in; or when a friend kept me company during a long treatment. The distraction of good company meant so much to me, even though I knew it was hard for them and uncomfortable. There are the memories of my little 2nd grade boy telling me to hop on his bed, as he tucked me in with blankets and got out his books to read to me. Blessed. Loved. Precious. I treasured up in my heart when my 6th grade girl would tell me about her day and the ups and downs of middle school; feeling so blessed that she shared with me; praying so hard that I would have years and years ahead of me to just listen to her talk to me.

Through all of this, I learned I am physically strong, as my body fought with everything it had to beat this invader named breast cancer. It endured extreme treatments, nausea, steroids, exhaustion and hair loss, but never stopped fighting. God gave me the strength to make it one more day, through one more test, one more treatment. He did it. He is absolutely faithful. His eyes never left me and His tears mixed with my own as I would cry out of fear, rage and frustration; when I wondered if I was going to die.

I see my body through a different filter now. I am proud of my scars. They shout out that a battle was waged and won. I want to be strong and healthy, so I do what I love – hiking, biking, swimming and all things outdoors.  I want to enjoy every single second of life I am given. If my son asks me to go get ice cream, I will. It’s a memory we are making and it makes me happy that he wants to share it with me. So I will eat ice cream and I will not worry over whether or not I will look ok in a swim suit because of it. I am alive and that is enough. Our days are numbered and I want to take advantage of each one with those I fiercely love.

I am mentally and spiritually stronger, as well. Despite days of deep sadness, fear of the unknown, rage and brain fog, I told myself I would get through this; that cancer would not win and that God would not give me more than I could handle. I knew God would be with me through every test, every treatment, every bit of good and bad news. I held on to that and He proved Himself faithful and merciful and compassionate. Yes, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. Yes, it put my body, mind and soul to the ultimate test, but I am an overcomer and I am victorious in Christ Jesus.

During other trials that have come along since this cancer diagnosis, I have looked back on all that Jesus brought me through.  It gives me strength and courage to face the trials that I know are coming. Life is hard, unpredictable and unfair, but I have found that if you look closely, you will find nuggets of joy and hidden treasures of beauty in everything. It is there just waiting to be discovered, but you have to look for it, change your filter from a victim mentality and choose life; choose to find peace, hope and sweetness in whatever is swirling around you. I promise you it is there. I remind myself daily, sometimes minute by minute, that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It is only by His strength, love and healing that I am here to live another day and breathe another breath. It is His breath in my lungs and as long as I live, I will give Jesus the praise, honor and thanks due Him. He saved my life and changed my perspective. I am thankful. I have another day to live and my prayer is that I leave everyone better than I found them. Peace and love, readers.