Sunday, October 24, 2010

1,000 Gifts: #123-150 Cuz it's breast Cancer Awarness Month

Two years ago, I was two months pregnant and at the office of a breast specialist (ok, surgoen) to have a "spot" looked at. I remember the nurses sighing, "Oh, you're pregnant??" 31-year-old pregnant women don't belong there. After one biopsy, I weaned my firstborn milkaholic son to have a second biopsy done before I was told I was in the clear. Thank you, Lord.

Now I had found another spot, more like a lump, two weeks ago, but I called it a "knot." I didn't want to give it a name {I am careful with my words}. It's just a little knot, probably milk related. Yes, I am still nursing my 17-month-old son, the one I lovingly patted two years ago, though he was barely a bean, when I was wearing the paper gown, waiting with tears in my eyes for the sonogram to start, and later, for the needle to go in. "Your mama is going to be fine," I told him. I was amazed when the anxiety didn't register, when my heart didn't race. Peace.

So "the knot."

I scheduled to go see My Breast Guy again.

"Lord, I don't want this. Take it away." I prayed that prayer every time I felt my hand lingering over "the knot." Every day, the same prayer. "I don't want this, Lord. Take it away." By God's grace, when I thought about what "the knot" could be (my mom is a 15-year breast cancer survivor so those thoughts are never far from my mind), again the anxiety didn't come. Only peace. I would pray it every morning then check....but the knot was still there. Yet I felt peace. "Maybe tomorrow, it will be gone," I would think, then go about my day.

Then the morning of the appointment arrived.

My baby, who usually nurses himself slowly awake, woke up like a shot and was bright-eyed and smiling, unusually chipper. I smiled as he toddled into the hall to find his toys. Then I thought, "Today's the appointment. That lump will be gone today." I tentatively felt around. No knot. I felt around some more, then sat up, stood up, and felt around some more. No knot.

So I cancelled the appointment.

I smiled all day long.

I texted my mom, "No lump, no doctor! Praise God!" She knew I'd been asking God to take it away. "Standing on the promises!" she texted back.

15 years ago, when my mom learned the news that she had breast cancer, she told people, "God said no" of her request to take it away. That journey has changed her life, and the lives of hundreds of people who know her and know our family, for the better. God used cancer to positively impact countless people and we are grateful. This month, we wear pink and our pink ribbon pins and we remind people, "Get your boobs checked!" because we are grateful.

God gives and He takes away. His promises never change. He is ever faithful. He works all things together for good.

I am grateful that I don't have a knot to deal with. I am grateful for the peace that I can't explain. I am grateful for this journey, the journey of learning to trust Him more and rest in Him. He never ceases to amaze me.

123:: standing on His promises

124:: cancelling a doctor's appointment because I have no reason to go

125:: waking up to a happy, fuzzy-headed, Thomas-pajama-wearing baby

126:: showing off our new house

127:: wine and noshing

128:: trading my mom a pedicure for lunch

129:: shopping for my nephew-to-be

130:: a day spent with an old friend

131:: tears when we talk about the goodness of God

132:: amazement at how God writes our stories and intertwines our lives

133:: my mom telling Ethan "I love you" and him giving her three kisses

134:: "Guy" pajamas

135:: feeling 100% well for days at a time

136:: Etsy sales so I could buy food for the party

137:: cool mornings with the back door open

138:: my "Mulled Harvest" candle

139:: winning $10 at Bunco then using it to buy groceries for the family in line ahead of me

140:: sunflowers in my Verde Vase

141:: Daddy & Son day at the Super Chevy Show

142:: a ridiculously delicious mushroom swiss burger, steak fries and root beer

143:: not being bothered by a bad dream

144:: the power of being able to control my thoughts

145:: having God at the center of my thoughts

146:: homemade pumpkin Bundt cake with whipped cream

147:: realizing I'm ahead of the curve in some ways

148:: nursing two boys for a total of 52 weeks...and counting!

149:: the occasional material blessings

150:: being rich in all the ways that matter

For more, visit Holy Experience

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Monday, October 18, 2010

1,000 Gifts: #113-122

Besides watching the nightly news, nothing threatens my peace more than sickness--especially stomach troubles.

The night after my hubby's birthday party last Sunday, our 17-month-old started throwing up. It was his first time. It broke my heart, partly because by the time I heard him, he'd already thrown up all over our bed. I'm almost always right next to him when he sleeps so what are the odds?? He must have been so confused. I was so sad.

I braced myself for the heart racing, the sweating, the knot in the stomach. Mine, not his. But he slept almost the entire time, was consoled just being next to me, wasn't feverish and by 3am, was able to nurse again and settle down for the night.

Grace. In any "it could have been worse" scenario, all I see is grace. God comforted him and comforted me. I held it together and was grateful the entire time for the grace in the moment. Our older son slept through it, my husband was there to wash the sheets and towels and hold the baby while I changed and I was able to catch up on my DVR'd shows from the futon in the guest room. For what it was, it was a best-case scenario. I've come to see that as grace.

Three days later, it was my turn, though my body handled it differently. I was on the couch most of the day but was still able to take care of the boys and even do some dishes. The boys played, the discomfort was tolerable and I was able to eat normally by that evening. Grace. No anxiety, either, which was just more grace.

This is why now, when I think I might be coming down with something or I wonder if the boys were exposed to a bug and my mind starts to wander to the "what ifs," I quickly change my line of thinking, thank God that we are well in that moment and move on. I don't want to waste a moment of my life on "what ifs" and even when we were sick, there was still so much to be grateful for.

Moving on!! :) This is why we opted to GET OUT this weekend and take a trip to the high desert for some nature and family time. It was just what we needed and it could not have gone more smoothly.

113:: Picnic by the lake

114:: Escaping with my boys

115:: fearlessly feeding feeding the ducks and geese (and saying "duck!" in wonder the whole time, like, "They're real!!")

116:: sons with their daddy

117:: playing in Lynx Creek while Daddy pans for gold

118:: making memories

119:: still needing Mama's help (every once in a while)

120:: not needing Mama's help

121:: beautiful sky on the way home

122:: the best kind of tired

Read more at Holy Experience

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Monday, October 11, 2010

1,000 Gifts: #101-112 Birthdays

101:: birthday parties

102:: using two containers of icing on his cake

103:: 33 candles

104:: The favorite Aunty and The Cousins

105:: The Siblings {who'd hardly ever see each other if I didn't get them together!!}

106:: Kids crowding around for present-opening {even when the present is bullets and a gun cleaning thingy}

107:: Getting a present on your dad's birthday

108:: Throwing him a party....more for me than him

109:: Enjoying his baby

110:: Never taking another year for granted

111:: Opening presents of my own on his birthday. My "Blessings Unlimited" consultant kit arrived!! Everything was BIGGER than I expected--a pleasant surprise!

112: Ethan thought the blocks were toys.

For more, visit Holy Experience

When you go....TAKE NOTE OF THE LOVELY ITEMS IN HER PICTURES....THEY'RE FROM BLESSINGS UNLIMITED (mentioned in #111 and #112, above)!! How cool is that!?! Ann is a BU fan, too! :)

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Fashion: love it or hate it, I have the book for you! {and GIVEAWAY!}

I have a new favorite book. I keep telling people about it and I'm carrying it around with me practically everywhere I go now so I thought it was time to write a proper review.

I've e-mailed back and forth with Shari, the author, a few times and she is absolutely delightful. She is NOT, by the way, compensating me for this in any way. I'm just a big fan and happy to promote her in any way I can!! :)

Here's my story.

I am by no means trendy, a fashionista or a style maven. I do, however, like to look as good as I feel or, frankly, look good even when I don't feel good! Plus I was tired of wasting time and money on more "stuff" (clothes, make-up, accessories, shoes) that didn't work for me.

So I ordered this book called "Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad" by Shari Braendel.

She has truly inspired me!! There's a chapter dedicated to each of the following topics:

* your body type (I'm a 'b')
* your true colors (I'm a "clear")
* accessorizing (including the "16 Point Accessory Rule")
* undergarments
* swimwear
* jeans
* hair and make-up
* jeans
* shopping
* modesty

There is a TON of useful information.

You'll learn how to dress your body type, what colors look great on you (plus your best neutrals), what size purse to carry, what style you tend toward and SO much more!

The format is easy to read, the tone is down-to-earth and all of the advice is very practical. You'll find yourself taking lots of notes! I'm going to create a cheat-sheet to laminate and keep in my purse to refer to when I'm shopping.

I could write pages but I'll just stick to the major ways the book helped me immediately.

Shari has tips for choosing a hair style and the right eye glasses, based on the shape of your face (mine is heart-shaped). Shari asks, "When was the last time you got a compliment on your hair?" My answer of, "I can't remember!" prompted me to make an appointment with a new hair dresser and try a chin-length bob to flatter my face. I didn't get highlights, either, based on Shari's recommendation to keep my hair as close to my natural color as possible, to bring out my eyes.

I took these pictures from my camera phone before and after my appointment.

Before (very "blah" and definitely not doing me any favors):

and after (wow!):

It's easier to style, it feels great and I think it even flatters my neck and shoulders.

And, yes, I have gotten compliments!!

Speaking of compliments, this book got me thinking about the times in my life when I felt great, at least partly because I knew I looked great. A family wedding when I was 17 came to mind. I wore a purple sheath dress and black high heels. People commented that I should be a model but what I also remember is that I felt like a million bucks.

It turns out that bright purple is one of my "pop colors" (you'll find yours, too) so it's no wonder.

I saw a similar dress on the rack recently and tried it on, just for fun. It looked sensational. I went home without it but after mentioning it to my husband, he insisted that I go back and buy it. Barely a week later, I was invited at the last minute to a swanky fundraiser at a resort hotel and was thrilled to have the perfect dress to wear. Sure enough, I knew that I fit right in and I felt fantastic. It was so nice to not be in a panic over not having anything to wear.

It got even better. I had the opportunity to buy a few new pieces of clothing with my mom this past week and was amazed at how much easier it was to shop when I knew what styles and colors would flatter me. I passed up entire racks because I knew the items wouldn't work for me and everything I took into the dressing room DID work--I just had to make sure to get the right size and colors. AND, I found such an amazing pair of jeans that I got them in two colors!

Saving the time, hassle and money in that one shopping trip more than made up for the cost of the book.

Lastly, I had to mention this.

One of my favorite parts of this book is how Shari addresses the meaning of Matthew 6:31-33 that says, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (NIV)

There is a lot of truth to unpack from this passage but here's the insight that struck me: how much time do we waste, "worrying" about what we wear?? Nothing fits, nothing works for our life, nothing makes us feel good and our pieces don't go with each other, let alone say anything about our we worry about what we'll put on that day, we worry about what to wear for a special occasion, we worry about the money we're wasting, we worry about what people think of us, we worry about the impression we're giving people about who we are...worry, worry, worry.

We owe it to ourselves to take the worry out of looking good every day. We need a wardrobe that is as effortless as possible, we need to learn how to accessorize so that it becomes automatic and we need the ability to shop efficiently so that we're not wasting time or money anymore. We need to learn how to look our best so that it's a not a worry, but a pleasure.

Shari's book does that.

Want to learn more? Here's her web site, which highlights everything she does (she's a part of Proverbs 31 Ministries). If you can attend one of her events, I'd highly recommend it. Don't miss the FREE on-line color analysis, too!!

Shari's web site

And don't miss her blog! TONS of great information!! I recommend that you subscribe to her "Faith Meets Fashion" E-newsletter. Shari's blog

~~~ GIVEAWAY!!! Just leave a comment about what kind of fashion help YOU need most and you'll be entered into a drawing for a FREE COPY OF "Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad." Just make sure to leave your e-mail address if you don't have a blog, so I can let you know if you win!

Winner will be chosen by the random number generator at midnight on Friday, October 22nd~~~

You can also snag a copy

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Seeing Him in the Sky

Into every life a little rain must fall. The Bible promises that we will know trouble.

My storm of fear and anxiety raged off and on for almost two years. Sometimes the rain fell in a gentle sprinkle, sometimes there was heat lightening but no rain and other times the rain fell and fell and I wondered if it would ever end.

It's so easy to focus on the darkness, the rushing water, the sound of hail pelting the windows, the howling wind...and be afraid.

But in Arizona, storms never last long.

Even the worst storms in my life have been mercifully short.

And eventually the storm passed. Suddenly, not very long ago, I realized that the rain had stopped falling.

That storm is over. The sun finally came out again. I am in a new season, a season of gratitude, rest and reflection. I'm in the rainbow phase.

When my husband returned from work yesterday and pushed open the front door, there was a peachy tint to the sky that I recognized. It was a rainbow sky. I pushed passed him, barefoot, camera in hand. I got to the end of the driveway and looked up and there was a rainbow, arching directly over our street.

God's promise of a new beginning, displayed across the sky in technicolor.

Had I not been paying attention, I'd have missed it entirely.

My stormy phase taught me a lot about fear, trusting the Lord, getting to the end of myself, priorities and much, much more. I am grateful.

Now I am grateful that I am enjoying this new phase, as a new creation.

Now I can appreciate {and even enjoy} the storms...and the rainbows that come after.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV): "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

To see how others see Him, visit Holy Experience

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