Wednesday, March 30, 2011

being a pencil

A good friend sent this to me and I felt it was perfect for where I am and for where I need to remind myself to be on a daily basis. We may sometimes think that what we can do is limited and we are useless (or others might think that and make us doubt ourselves) - BUT God has a plan and can use us just as we are for His glory. I am rejoicing that He sees me as useful and whole because of Him. May we each be available to Him today - to be used how He sees fit!

“ So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” ”
Exodus 4:2 (NKJV)
The most popular technology in my classroom is an old-fashioned, hand-cranked pencil sharpener. I have to empty the shavings almost every day.
Who could have predicted that a stick of cedar seven inches long would be so useful for so many years to so many people: writers and editors, teachers and test takers, artists and composers, carpenters and puzzle masters?
Perhaps the greatest virtue of the pencil is its abundance. I’m never more than ten feet from a pencil. Almost three billion of them are manufactured every year in America alone.
The pencil is a good metaphor for one of the most treasured of character traits: availability. If I want to be a more valuable and useful person, I need to be more available.
“Will you teach my Sunday school class while I’m on vacation?”
“Yes, I can do that.”
“Can I talk to you for a few minutes; it’s important.”
“Sure, have a seat.”
“Could you give me a hand with these groceries?”
“You bet.”
I don’t need a college degree, movie-star looks or money in the bank to be more useful. I just need to be handy.
When I say yes , I become a pencil in the hand of God and He can write His story through me.
Yes, God, whatever You want me to do today, the answer is yes .
By Daniel Schantz

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

step back and see Him

A disclaimer: this is a moment of how I felt this day. NOT at all a real view of my every day or every moment. But I think the lessons in this are real and might help some of you too ...I've been researching and contacting every doctor in the area specilizing in a particular illness which my cardiologist, naturopath and primary care doctor all think I need to pursue. It's really tiring. Sending emails, calling, waiting on hold, asking questions, writing down pricing, writing down testing, calling the labs ... it's TIRING and feels like a part time job. I know that this kind of going back and forth with doctors, insurance companies, pharmacies etc is very common with those in chronic pain or with chronic health issues. I often just give up and don't do all the paperwork and phone and leg work required to see all the different specilists and look into different treatments etc. It just feels too overwhelming. When you aren't feel good dealing with phone calls, emails and paperwork is the last thing you want to do - let alone trying to figure out the budget to cover expencive tests and treatments. Right now I feel pretty hopeless that I will ever get done with all I need to, and that I am fighting a loosing battle with my insurance and finances. I feel like throwing my hands in the air and giving up. I feel like wrapping myself in a blanket and sleeping for the rest of the week. But these things are not an option. One thing I have been learning is that no one else is going to do these things for me. My doctors work hard on my case and do all they can (most of the time) to even put in extra time looking for ways to help treat me - but when it comes down to it, I am my only advocate to make sure that things get done - records get where they need to be, appointments get made, tests are run, medication is ordered and taken, my diet is followed, vitamins are taken and everything is paid for. Again, it feels totally impossible to me - IN THIS MOMENT! If you think I feel like this all the time you're wrong! But even those who have no physical pain or illness have times when you feel the pressures of life are too much - and I am no different. BUT in those fleeting moments when it feels like too much paperwork, and too much to do to take care of my health - God is very present, if I take the time to allow myself to see Him.

The ways I can take the time to see Him in my daily life is to step back when I feel overwhelmed and take a little break. Play the piano, take a nap, read some Scripture verses and most of all talk with my God who is with me every step of the way. I am SO grateful that I have a lot of opportunities to take time out and seek Him in my life. He is not limited by finances the way that we are. He is not limited by time. He is not limited by ANYTHING - and He loves ME and will do what is best with all these details that feel (at this moment) like they are spinning out of control. If you are faced with overwhelming things today - things you need to do, bills you need to pay etc. take some time to step back and just breath deep. God has you and me in His very capable hands. He is 100% capable of doing what we feel is too hard.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jelly Beans

Who ever knew that jelly beans could be so ... cruel! They just sit there in the dish staring at me with their tantalizing colors and wide range of flavors as if to say: "you can't resist me!" Hmmppfff.

Well, Mr. Jelly Bean, I CAN.

My doctors have told me that sugar is very hard on my body as it lowers the immune system and makes inflamation worse. Those who know me personally know that I have a serious sweet tooth for candy and chocolate. Oh and ice cream ... lucious ice cream! And I am not one of those people who can eat just one .. or like my big sister who got a huge candy cane one year for Christmas and allowed herself only ONE lick per day for over a year ... (I think she eventually threw it away). No way folks - if I start eating a chocolate bar I will finish the whole thing. And generally if candy is anywhere in sight I will eat it faster than you can say, "chocolate bunny". I know that my lack of discipline with candy has been a weak spot for me and that it definately wasn't honoring of God with my body.

But I have found renewed discipline in what I eat. My secret? Accountability. My husband decided to go off sugar with me and because he is such a good sport at trying things like agave and stevia leaves, it gives me zeal for being good myself. Now, i haven't been perfect - but I have been better than ever before since he joined me. Then one of my close friends needed to go on a no sugar diet - as well as no wheat which I am supposed to be doing as well. Because in her case this diet modification could save her life I have the strongest motivation to be strong on my no sugar and wheat "diet". I know that she needs someone to be in this with her and it helps me to have her in this with me. We can encourage each other and share recipies for healthy food.

I bring this up because in chronic pain situations or any kind of illness there are usually diet modifications or food allergies or restrictions that can greatly help. It can be hard when you don't feel like cooking to go for the healthy things, but it is so important! Not that a little grace isn't required - but to choose wisely and treat our bodies like the gift from God that they are.

Find good motivation and accountability and you too can win the battle of the Jelly Bean.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Tiny Seed

Today I spent some time planting seeds inside for our veggie and flower garden and also planting earlier seeds and plants outside. I LOVE gardening - it is so peaceful and a great place to talk with God so close to creation.

It's funny how tiny some seeds are. I was planting sweet alyssum and the seeds were almost microscopic. I used to plant most of the seeds in our greenhouses at the farm when we worked there - and the snapdragon seeds were by far the tiniest seeds I had ever seen. It was virtually impossible to get a single seed in a cell of the seeding tray. It always amazes me that such tiny seed holds everything needed for the life of that plant. Under the proper circumstances that seed will spring to life and produce a beautiful flower or yummy veggie or fruit.

Life is like that. Sometimes we might feel that what we have to offer is so small and insignificant. But with the sunshine and watering of God through His Word and prayer and circumstances our life can burst into bloom for His glory. What seemed like a piece of dust can bring joy and beauty to the world around us.

When faced with chronic pain and illness it is easy to feel insignificant or useless. I often wish I could do so much more to serve the world around me and to be a difference. We all need to focus more on God and allow the warmth of His sunshine and watering of the Word bring life into what we sometimes feel is dead and useless.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

You Never Know

Yesterday I found out that a close friend may have cancer. I was shocked and still am to hear this news and I want to be the best friend I can to her during this time, but I don't often know how to do that.

My heart is hurting for my friend today. I know she is scarred. I know she doesn't want to think or talk about this diagnosis right now. I know she wakes up with that sinking feeling that her life is going to change - even if this diagnosis ends up to be false.

She said something to me yesterday that stood out to me - she was responding to what she was doing to get through and she said that she was: "Breathing deep." I think this is an important lesson for any of you that are faced with hard diagnosis - or with a hard un-diagnosed condition. It is an important lesson for all of us as we go day to day and sometimes the pressures and stresses of life can knock you off your feet. The ups and downs of seeing doctors and finding things out or not finding anything out ... the sickness or pain that comes when you least expect it ... the pain of situations with people that are hurtful .. the suffering of financial stress ... all of these can make it hard to breath sometimes. There is often nothing we can do about our health or the situatuation we are facing in life. When those moments come we need to remember to do as my friend is doing and just breath deep. God has us in His hand and He knows what is best. We can cry out to Him at any time - and we can be honest with Him always. He hears our every prayer always.

So whatever you may be facing in your health or your life remember to just keep breathing deep and while you are breathing breath a prayer of honesty to the God who hears.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Servant's Heart

I don't know how to react to all the things going on in our world. I have found myself not wanting to watch the news and see pictures of Japan. I have been upset with myself for not wanting to see it - but I just don't know how I would handle it. When I did last night finally watch some footage of the Tsunami I was shocked. I felt like I was watching the flood in Genesis except that there were boats and cars begin dragged along in the rising waters.

A friend of mine said how sad it is that there is so much coverage on a story like this, when there is little to no coverage on the thousands of children who die every single day from things like starvation. I would have to agree. While my heart is aching for those who have died in Japan - especially the children ... my heart aches for those who die of starvation and disease in many countries around the world but no one pays attantion. I should rephrase that: not many pay attention.

I was an un-official youth leader at my previous church for years. I hated when that ended and miss that group of youth very much. We participated in the 30 hour Famine through World Vision (raising money and awareness for children dying of hunger around the world) for years and then we created our own program called the FAST to raise money for the feeding program in Zambia our church has helped personally by sending a team to Zamba and being involved with ministering to churches there in a sister church program. Our church wasn't huge 250-300 at it's peak. And our youth group was small - about 15-20 youth. But one year we raised $10,000 to be sent to World Vision. The dedication of these youth was beautiful. One year one of our young men, David came to my house ... I think it was just me and Joshua (who was then a co-youth leader and my boyfriend) and David and Grace (another kid from our group) came along as well .. I am not sure if anyone else showed up but most of the day it was just David and Grace with Josh and I. We went door to door in my nighborhood asking for support to feed these children who are dying without food. We got some very cruel remarks but many very generous people giving anything they could. Part of the way through the long day of fundraising I found out that it was David's birthday that day! He hadn't made a big deal about it, and I was so humbled to see this kid running from door to door asking for help for children he had never met - when he could have been hanging out with friends on his birthday. David is a young man with a heart for serving God and his fellow man and I know that God has great things in store for his life as He continues to use David to minister to a hurting world.

I think it is so important to realize that every 7 seconds a child dies from hunger or hunger related conditions. Not to minimize the emense suffering in Japan right now - but to remind us all that there are large scale suffering all over the world and we need to pray and give and go as God leads us.

We ALL have suffering in our individual lives - we all have pain. I think one of the best ways to fight against complaining is to educate ourselves about others who are in truely tragic situaions. Not so that we can compair and say how much better off we are - but so that we can take our focus off ourselves and do something to help others. Even someone who is bedridden can help by prayer and sometimes giving. No one who believes in Jesus escapes the responsibility of touching the world with God's love in some way.

How will you reach out in generosity and love today?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I have a confession to make: we didn't go to church on Sunday. We had spent all day Saturday driving to and from Yakima delivering wedding flowers I had made for a bride whose "wedding coordinator" turned out to be .. well, missing in action. This bride called me crying on Friday night asking me if we could bring the flowers because the wedding coordinator wasn't going to be coming - thankfully I had vases and extra stuff because there were no decorations since the coordinator was missing. We got home at midnight and were exhausted. When we woke up Sunday it was past time to get to church so we stayed home.

I found out that the topic of Sunday's sermon was on generosity ( - the topic for this whole month apparently. It made me think about our weekend. I must also confess that in our delivery to Yakima I was kind of freaking out - because for one thing the "wedding coordinator" had ordered flowers that the bride and groom knew nothing about - so we were out a couple hundred dollars. Heading to Yakima meant that Joshua missed a day of work. The sweet bride offered to pay us for gas etc. but we still weren't getting any profit from this wedding. Since it was my first wedding of 2011 with my new home business, I was feeling defeated. I had been so excited to help provide income to help get my husband through school, and begin saving for adoption. But it was like God kept telling me that we just needed to do this and show His love to this young couple by providing more than they paid for and making their wedding beautiful - even though it meant we would have to tighten the belt so to speak even farther this month to make ends meet. Part of me didn't want to be generous - but a much bigger part of me knew that God wanted me to show His character by being generous. I knew that in going on this trip it would cause my body to suffer extra pain, but I could hear the pain in the bride's voice and alleviating even some of her pain became more important to me than keeping myself from extra pain.

My husband and I have been the recipients of so much generosity over the years - with help with paying medical bills for me, and just gifts that always seem to come at the exact perfect moment. At Christmastime we were feeling home sick for Whidbey Island and feeling alone in our new life and even in our new church (because we were used to being in a small church where everyone knew each other especially since we were in positions of leadership there). One day we found a huge package on our doorstep. We opened the box on our way to church one morning in early December to find two beautiful and cozy blankets (one of which I am laying under as I type) - an Albertson's gift card and some coffee. A note with no name and an address we didn't recognize. We knew that it was someone in our new home church. We instantly felt accepted in a way that we hadn't felt yet (since we have felt it more and more as we make friends in our married class). We felt loved and we felt that even though our new life held challenges - we would make it though. Just a couple weeks ago after some more challenges we were feeling discouraged. I got the mail and opened yet another doctor bill - then I opened an envelope which had no return address but was full of gift cards - $400 worth of gift cards to be exact! Again, at a time when we were feeling so discouraged, God used someone to be generous to us and remind us of His love and provision.

We are still a long way off from what we want to be when it comes to being generous. But, we pray that as every day passes we become more and more like God in showing love through giving. Giving our time, our resources, and our love.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I wanna be like this!

I was doing laundry today in my Grammie's laundry room when I saw this pink slip of paper stuck to the wall .. so I read it. I just had to share it with you.


She is a 92 years old, petite, well poised, and proud. She is fully dressed each morning at eight o'clock, with her hair fashionably coifed, and her makeup perfectly applied, in spite of the fact that she is legally blind.

Today she has moved to a nursing home. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making this move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, where I am employed, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the levator, I provided a visual desciption of her tiny room, including the eyelet curtains that had been hung on her window.

"I love it," she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight - year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

"Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room ... just wait," I said. Then she spoke these words that I will never forget.

"That does not have anything to do with it," she gently replied. " Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not does not depend on how the furniture is arranged. It is how I arrange my mind. I have already decided to love it. It is a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice. I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficlty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or I can get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do work. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I will focus on the new day and all of the happy memories I have stored away ... just for this time in my life. Age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you have already put in." ~ Author Unknown

What is your attitude today?

Monday, March 7, 2011

bad bad procrastinator!

I overdid it today big time. It's been a very weird two weeks with a sudden road trip on Saturday, and lots of family time with family visiting. We have been trying to fit as much as possible into this two week space as we had family visiting etc and with Joshua being off school this coming week so we had a full weekend to work on the yard etc. Today was our last big day to get things done before Joshua's spring break was over. We wanted the yard and house to be in tip top shape after this break. I had this big plan to get the large deck cleaned because it's pretty mossy.  So we got some "no scrub" deck cleaner --- which ended up with both myself and my husband on our hands and knees in the soapy mossy yuck scrubbing as hard as we could to get the moss off the deck. I also cleaned the house and did laundry and organized a few outdoor areas while my amazing husband make a BIG garden for us to grow veggies this year. It was a very full day. I am glad that we got so much done!

But, as I sit here struggling to breath and just in a lot of pain, I am reminded that I HAD almost 2 weeks to get most of these things done. I don't know where the time went (but I seem to remember making a LOT of caramal corn and playing "wedding" dress up with my little neices and also rocking many babies to sleep)! But I certianly procrastinated on the cleaning I had wanted to do. With being in pain all the time and with some times being worse than others, an important thing to remember is to NOT procrastinate! Doing too much can be pretty bad for me, and I am reminded of that tonight. I think sometimes I get tired of people thinking that I am OCD or something just because I am always trying to keep things clean and organized (which is definately NOT easy in a basement!), but I think one thing that people may not understand is that if I let it get out of control I have to do a lot more work and that is much harder on my body than keeping things clean in the first place! I'm slightly frustrated with myself tonight - because I knew all along that these things needed to be done - but I have another busy day ahead tomorrow finishing cleaning and yard work.

The happy part of this story is that as we were scrubbing with all our might on that deck and I had muddy moss water dripping down my legs into my shoes - Joshua looked over at me and said: "I LOVE working with you. And I agree. It's just better for me to do it in small doses. :)