How was your Christmas?
Ours was wonderful. We spent time with family, and although not a lot of snow, it was a white Christmas.
Now it’s time to reflect.
That’s what I do each year after Christmas. I think about accomplishments, goals, adversities, the tears, laughter, pictures, I take it all in. I consider the word of the year and how it played out, and what word is coming up in the new year.
The word was transformation, and my theories were naive and superficial. I knew I had an eye appointment in January and my thought was I would be wearing contacts full time. As far as I knew, my biggest decision would be how I would wear my hair. Curly? Straight? Keep growing it? Cut it?
Turns out, this was probably the one area where there was no transformation at all. I learned my vision is so bad that they can’t give me an accurate prescription for contacts. Without sharing that with me, they gave me contacts that I can’t wear.
So it’s back to glasses.
I’ve worn it curly. I’ve worn it straight. I wore it up, realized it was not working for me, and had it cut. Then I’ve been busy and haven’t had it cut in awhile. I end the year with no idea what I’m going to do. I love the red color, though.
I knew the year was about kids in school and we were aware that both of our Wisconsin kids were expecting their first babies. We end the year as grandparents to two boys. It’s surreal, I remember when their parents were tweens and I knew them better than their dad. Funny how time marches on.
As for the school kids, I didn’t know how rough the year was going to start for them both. I’m all about building people up and in our daughter’s circle, it seemed almost everyone in her daily routine was tearing her down. To watch her joyous smile disappear as she withdrew, it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to watch. It was one of those times I felt so helpless.
It was the same for our son. He went from main campus, to satellite campus. His grades were good, but the stress was high. One of his core relationships changed, and I never saw it coming. Another episode of feeling so helpless. He was part of a retail establishment with high traffic, no leadership, and a terrible part of town. He was involved in a car accident that wasn’t his fault, but the driver tried to pin it on him. There was season where the attacks on him seemed relentless. I didn’t think transformation meant our kids would change from happy and full of faith to dead inside. That was my fear at least.
Another transformation wasn’t my own, but one I’ve asked every day with no real answers as I a family dynamic will never be the same. The tragedy so avoidable if people had been smart enough to deny someone a license when clearly they were not able to drive in this country. I don’t understand, no one does. And now this family has to re live the memories, good and unbearable.
We enjoyed transformation watching our son be the big boy at the campground, while our nephew was the new one to show around. The nostalgia for our son was fun to watch, right down to him wearing the very same style shirt he did ten years ago.
We visited Wisconsin twice, holding new babies and watching our oldest son become a homeowner and new dad.
Writing wise, I not only published Engaged, the last in the Surrendering Time Series, but also wrote a companion devotional to go with the series, Finding Freedom in Surrender. I started blogging for Inspy Romance, and the first book in my next contemporary romance series, Anchored. It was our daughter, during her struggles, that had an idea to encourage girls of all ages when people use negative words, and that idea became a three book series she plotted. She created the characters, guided me on the cover, and approved the manuscript. You’re Beautiful, Book 1 in the Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Series, should be out in January. There’s also a new Facebook group, 180Encouragements, aimed at building a community where positive words are spoken. That’s a transformation to be excited about.
My faith walk is an ongoing transformation. I feel like the last few years have hardened my faith, and I have been quietly grieving that, not sure what to do about it. I started reading a book, No More Faking Fine, and decided it was a book on authenticity that I’d love to share with others through discussion. Once I started leading that book it hit me it is more than transparency. It’s a book about lament, something new to me. Something I had no idea I needed. Now I’m going through the process. Something tells me what God has in store is the biggest transformation of all.
Now comes 2018. I have my word.
But that, my friends, is another blog post.
Thanks for reading!
Cancer: A Word that Strikes Terror
by Joanie Shawhan
Are there certain words that trigger pressure in your chest or tightness in your throat?
For me, that word is cancer.
I am an ovarian cancer survivor.
During the summer of 2006, Every time I had another bout of nausea, I brushed thoughts of ovarian cancer from my mind. Surely these spells were too infrequent to be cancer.
But in September, I rolled over in bed and felt a grapefruit-size mass in my abdomen. I closed my eyes and dismissed the whispers of ovarian cancer.
Several weeks later, I almost shot off the table when my physical therapist palpated my spine to isolate the location of my back pain. It’s not in my back, it’s jabbing through my abdomen!
My gynecologist suspected a uterine fibroid and ordered an ultrasound. Even in the dark room, I saw the ultrasound tech lock her eyes on mine. Something is seriously wrong.
Gripping the ultrasound report in her hand, my doctor said, “You have ovarian cancer, the size of a cantaloupe.” She rattled off all that needed done—scheduling tests and surgery. I barely heard her words. Was she talking to me?
When I walked into the hospital on surgery day, I exchanged my scrubs and nurse shoes for tieback gowns and skid-free slipper socks. The surgeon removed a volleyball-size tumor—ovarian cancer.
Today, I am cancer-free. During my treatment, I lost myself to ovarian cancer, but in losing myself, I found a new purpose and calling. Today I have an encouragement ministry to women undergoing chemotherapy. I advocate for and educate women and healthcare professionals regarding ovarian cancer. I write articles so that other women won’t put off getting checked out if they have any signs or symptoms, like I did.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all female cancers. The symptoms women experience prior to diagnosis may be vague or similar to other diseases. This causes some doctors to rule out other causes before they discover ovarian cancer, which is why it is often not diagnosed until later stages.
Contact your doctor if the following symptoms of ovarian cancer persist:
· Gastrointestinal symptoms:
Bloating, indigestion, nausea, feeling full or loss of appetite
· Pelvic or low back pressure or pain
· Urinating more frequently
· Changes in bowel patterns
· Tired or low energy
Ovarian cancer used to be called the silent killer, but survival rates are high if discovered in the early stages. Learn from my story. Will you listen for the whispers of ovarian cancer?
About the Author:
Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor and a registered nurse. She writes encouraging articles for women undergoing chemotherapy. Her publishing credits include Coping with Cancer magazine and God Still Meets Needs. She speaks to medical practitioners in the Survivors Teaching Students program. Check out her blog at www.joanieshawhan.com.
Where Does that Grin Come From?
by Kathy Carlton Willis
I’m often asked, “How can you keep grinning despite the challenges in your life? It has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the God in whom I put my trust. Knowing “He’s got this” helps me carry on (in hope) rather than to carry on (complain)!
Grinning instead of grimacing comes from the discipline of thinking on glorious victorious thoughts outside the current stinky situation.
First I get my imaginary lariat out and wrangle those negative thoughts that attempt to defeat me.
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV)
Once I evict those destructive thoughts, I fill the void with healthful and helpful thoughts. Thoughts that line up with the mind of Christ.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. …Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8b-9 NLT)
If I practice this passage in Philippians, it might look something like this. I’m going to fix my thoughts on what is:
- True: I remember the extreme way God answered my prayer to provide for our family.
- Honorable: I’m blown away by the way that writer stays humble when others try to put her on a pedestal.
- Right: I respect the decision this politician made to choose an unpopular but godly path.
- Pure: How precious the gift of life is when I see photos of the much prayed for Lyla.
- Lovely: How beautiful are the wildflowers dressing up that field.
- Admirable: I see integrity in the choice Russ made to not malign a wrongdoer.
- Excellent: I respect how she endures through her weight-training routine.
- Worthy of praise: God’s faithfulness is something I can count on.
Are you having a hard time grinning this week? What will your fix list look like?
About the Author:
God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a popular speaker and writer’s coach. Read her book, Grin with Grace, or find more information at: http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/.
She explained that our life is full of mile markers, and those thoughts make for a reflective and encouraging CD.
Her hope is that listeners are encouraged and no longer carry regret. With Dear Me, a letter she wrote her younger self, or Hush, Hush, when we want to know the why behind things or what’s next, I don’t think it will take much for listeners to be moved.
This is a perfect CD to play while reading or having quiet time with God. If you loved last year’s hit, Slow Down, it is also on this CD with an additional voice.
Even the cover is thoughtful and muted. Nothing showy is needed, it would distract from the message. I really enjoyed this CD and believe Nichole Nordeman hit the mark in her hopes to encourage and give hope.
SOCIAL – CORNER
Official website – http://nicholenordeman.com
Buy links – ITunes http://capcmg.me/emm?IQid=b
She has a book “SLOW DOWN” coming out in August, pre-order here:
I received a CD in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Mandisa wrote her song “Overcomer” in 2013 to encourage her close friend Kisha, who was battling breast cancer. Mandisa really believed and prayed that God was going to heal her, but when Kisha went to be with Jesus in 2014, Mandisa’s foundation was shaken in a way she never expected. She fell into a deep pit of depression for close to 3 years, shutting out her friends, family and the rest of the world. Mandisa believes if she had kept going down that road she was on, she would not be here today… but God stepped in and lifted her out of that pit by using her close friends to communicate their love for her and God’s love for her. This album is Mandisa’s way of letting her fans into her story – it’s called ‘Out Of The Dark’ because that is exactly where God lifted her out of!
You can watch her talk openly about this on Good Morning America last week here: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/mandisa-opens-overcoming-depression-47020463
The first track on Mandisa’s newest CD, OUT OF THE DARK, is a voicemail collage, and the messages set the tone for the journey Mandisa has been on since her megahit, “Overcomer.” By her own admission, the loss of a dear friend, her inspiration for the song, “Overcomer,” took her to a place so dark she isolated herself. Refused visits and calls. Re gained all the weight she had lost. Fought suicidal thoughts. With God’s love and guidance, Mandisa is back and her music is stronger for it.
Right from “I’m Still Here,” there’s something in her voice that conveys the strength in Him she’s gaining from her depression and grief. I don’t know how to explain it, a literal maturity that emanates, and I’m not saying it was something lacking in her before. There’s just something relatable in her words and voice that sends the message she’s not the same as she was. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t. But God’s there.
This CD is perfect timing and for anyone fighting grief or questioning God, OUT OF THE DARK is a must listen. There are reflective songs and upbeat ones. Each song has a message, and by the end I realized as Mandisa emerges from the dark, she is now the overcomer.
This was an encouragement and blessing to listen to, and I highly recommend it.
YOU have a chance to win a copy! Leave a comment on this post or on social media on why you would like this CD and I will choose ONE US winner. Please leave a way for me to contact you when you leave a comment or I will choose an alternate.
“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
Story Behind The Album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df27myDpm1c
Acoustic Video for “Unfinished”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQFpXcvFI0A
To purchase “OUT OF THE DARK,” CLICK HERE.
In this heart-warming picture book designed for girls, author Glenys Nellist tells the inspiring stories of incredible women in the Bible. With beautiful illustrations by Rachel Clowes and sweet lift-the-flap envelopes, each story delivers a special message for children to open as they read their own personal love letters from God. Full of warmth and love, this picture book will fill girls’ hearts with the wonder of the Lord. The stories of Eve, Miriam, Esther, Mary, and many more will delight children and remind them of the bond they can share with God, just like the women of the Bible.
This is a colorful book for girls ages 4-8 that features Bible stories that will help them learn about the Bible, important women who are part of “His-Story,” and draw closer to God. The stories are more for the elementary age, but it makes for a good nighttime routine where a parent could read to the girl.
The illustrations are colorful and feminine, very attractive for a little girl. What sets the book apart is each story has an envelope flap that the girl can open. It is a letter that can be addressed to the reader, and it is an encouragement from God. Just reading it for myself was a special experience. I could see where a little girl would see her name (if you filled it in ahead of time) and be excited to see what God has to say to her.
I think this is a great book for any girl’s library. If they are the younger side, they will appreciate being read to and looking at the pictures. For the older girls, the stories they can read themselves and the letters from God make this is a book they won’t forget.
I definitely recommend LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD.
I received this book from the publisher and the review is my own honest opinion.