Set Me Free

I want to show you my hair.

As you may have read in Repeat if Desired, we were trying to bleach it to white. Then my daughter was going to put lavender on it, but it has evolved into something on it’s own.

My hair grows fast, which I learned Thanks to Chemo. By the time we got it to the lightness we wanted, it had grown out of the style we were shooting for. So, we shaved the sides, and back.

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This entire process has set me free from the stigma placed on hair. We have had so much fun with it! I told her today, “When you homeschool, and my hair becomes the project?”

God works like that. We started out with a style and color in mind, but over time it became something we could not have done if we tried. My daughter just keeps experimenting with it. There is nothing she can hurt. It’s only hair, and during Chemo I was bald for months!

What we have in mind, and what God has in mind are two totally different things. Even when things don’t look exactly the way we intended, He will use it for His glory. It just sets me free!

The First Sentence

I opened a letter from the imaging center where I had my most recent mammogram. The words filled the entire page, but after that first sentence, I didn’t need to read anymore.

“We are pleased to inform you that the results of your recent breast imaging exam(s) show no signs of Breast Cancer.”

This last letter was the opposite of the first one I received exactly one year ago. The first letter told me the exam saw Cancer, and the last one said, “End of story.” There was a beginning, and an end, but my story is far from over.

Some of the journey is documented here, but who you see today is the woman on the other side. How did I survive? Through love, and God. That is also what you read about here.

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In the same way the first sentence of that letter caught my attention, so will the first sentence of a Blog. I’ve been reading a lot of Blogs recently, and they show me who I used to be. I’ve had the privilege of being a lot of what I read. The Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Stepford Wife, Preacher/Teacher, and those roles helped create who I am today.

Even though I may not fully see her yet, I know where she’s been. I don’t write long Blogs, because after about 500 words, I lose interest, and imagine you would too.

Do you ever wonder why you’re here? I have been thinking about that a lot, and I don’t really know why. All I know is, God opened this door three years ago, and here I stand.

Seeing who you’re not anymore, helps you along the path of who you want to be.

Every circumstance has strengthened my character, and my relationship with God. Sitting here I am reminded of the first sentence of an Ed Sheeran song. “I gave all my oxygen to people that could breathe.” Been there, done that. Today, I can tell you how good it feels for my body to breathe.

 

When We Travel

We are flying to Missouri tomorrow.

That is where my daughter’s boyfriend lives. He came here at Christmas, so it’s her turn to go there. I was suckered into this trip, but I’m coming around, and almost excited about it.

I don’t have good memories of traveling during my marriage to her father. It was always stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way now.

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I told myself from the very beginning, I would do this for my daughter. That made it easier to accept because I would do anything for her. As time rolled by, I would ponder the trip, and pull positives from it.

I’m going to think of it as a mini getaway, a change of scenery, or my first plane trip since my Cancer journey.

She will be with her boyfriend most of the time, so I will have a lot of me time. I’m going to work on my book that I started before Cancer.

We are packing today, and it’s very quiet as we do so. I hope she feels my light heart from across the hall. As Mother’s part of our job is to take stress away from our child’s life. That has been my mission anyways. She continually takes the stress out of mine.

Even when we travel.

Prayer of Protection

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Stepping out on my front porch this morning, I looked up at the bird’s nest that has housed four baby birds, and saw only two. They have grown up so fast! Just a few weeks ago, I saw four bald heads up there. They had a few, small random hairs on their heads. I could relate!

I have raised my daughter to the best of my ability, and trust God to do the rest. I have not said ‘No’ often, because I trust her judgement. I would rather her learn everything she can, while she’s still in the nest, so when she flies, she will know what to expect. I want her to have strong wings, like the eagle, but watching her learn to fly sucks.

She is going to a concert tonight.

I have always told her, “I trust you. It’s just the people around you I have a problem with.” The band is Twenty-one Pilots. She was introduced to this band by a boy that came into her life a year ago via social media. This boy was in a world of pain, and she was there to listen. It was hard to watch, and she got hurt, but she learned a lot from that boy. God’s grace was upon her, and He healed her heart.

I prayed for God to send the right person to accompany her to this concert. I wanted her to go with someone I felt would protect her from the crowd. One of her very best friends is a guy she doesn’t get to see very often. One time they were hanging out together, and she asked to ride his skateboard. He handed it to her, and she hopped on. When he saw she was going to crash, he dove toward her and landed between her and the pavement. He is going.

Yesterday, I did something completely illegal. She received a letter from her boyfriend, that lives in Missouri, and she wrote him right back. He had gone on a mission trip, and didn’t have his phone for 10 days, so her wrote her a letter. The good ol’ days right? She wanted to mail her letter to him immediately, so I sat still and told her, “Go ahead. You know how to drive.”

She has been driving since January with a permit, and will have her license in a couple of weeks. She is an excellent driver. Better than most adults I know. She drives me to Chemo once a week, and I usually sleep on the ride home. That is how confident I am in her ability to drive. I believe she has been uneasy about driving alone, so she has lingered getting her license.

I saw this letter as a good opportunity to let her fly. She hopped in her car, and drove off to the Post Office. We live in a very small town, so the Post office is less than a mile away. The only thing you have to worry about here, is a cow, or tractor, stepping out in front of you. When I first learned of my Breast Cancer, she drove me in and out of downtown Austin, so this was cake.

After she had left, I stepped out on the porch, and leaned against one of the large posts. I was filled with peace, and knowing that God had this. Now with this concert, I have to believe, God will protect my daughter from the world around her. There is a prayer I have been praying over her since she was tiny. It has saved my sanity as a parent, and gives me strength.

Prayer of Protection for Your Family by Kellie Copeland Kutz

Allowing her to be a part of this world, but not of this world is rough. She knows more about what’s going on in the world, than I do. We talk about everything, and she shares with me all the crazy stuff she sees on social media. It’s a scary world out there, and I’m not excited about letting her go into it without me. Mama’s…Do your best, and let God do the rest.

Living In Enoughness

Today’s magical word for me is ‘Enoughness’. I love taking words such as, Awesome, and Fabulous, and adding ‘ness’ to them. Then you have Awesomeness and Fabulousness!

Let’s look at Enoughness. Leo Babuata of Zen Habits, is one of my Hero Writers. He inspires me, and prompts me to think. Leo has been writing for 25 years.

I’ve been struggling with writing thanks to Chemo, because it fogs the brain. I want to write everyday, but it’s a challenge.

I have found over the years, that God has given me more than enough. Am I happy with what I have? I am overjoyed! Simplifying my life has brought me tremendous freedom!

How can less be more than enough? Time, patience, gratitude, and God.

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Yesterday was my 12th Chemo Treatment, and now I will enjoy a 3 week break. I am so excited! Hopefully, the time off from Chemo, will allow me to practice my writing skills.

So, back to Enoughness. All I needed to start Blogging was a laptop. Well, that was easy enough. Looking around at my life, I always have what I need, when needed. The other day, my daughter needed a Sharpie. I knew we had to have one, I just wasn’t sure where. Looking through all the drawers to no avail, I opened a cabinet, to pull out a bowl. There was the Sharpie. It had fallen from the back of the drawer, and landed in the stack of bowls below.

Gratefulness. Staying grateful for everything God has given us. Even that Sharpie.

My mind is shutting down, so I leave you with Leo’s wisdom. This is his Blog about Enoughness, which I hope you will take a minute to enjoy. “All You Need, You Already Have.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Sprawl Out

I looked at my bed, after getting out of it recently. Half of it is smooth, and still made; almost untouched. I lay the covers back to get out, and you can see only one person sleeps there. It made me wonder what other areas of my life, resemble my bed.

I’m an overthinker.

It made me think back, when God opened the door for me to leave my marriage. My daughter was looking for houses available for rent. The house God led us to, on 40 acres, had one ginormous bedroom. I paused and considered if that was a good idea.

That house was 795 square feet, but was perfect for us. It was exactly what we needed at the time.

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It was close quarters, so we were always near one another. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

We took what we loved, and what was necessary, to our new home. We took her bed, and I left the other one there. We slept in the same bed, and we learned to stay on our own side. It amazes me what your mind can train your body to do. Even after I bought a new bed, over a year later, my body still chose to sleep on it’s own side, just like she was still there.

It also made me think how I had trained my body to sleep before I went to the doctor. The lump in my breast was painful, and I went from lying flat on my back, to one side, to eventually sitting up to sleep. It gradually intensified each day just to see how much pain I could take. Unfortunately for me, I can take quite a bit, but I finally surrendered.

I made a point lastnight, to lay on my stomach, with pillows propped under my head, elevating any pressure on my port. Then I sprawled out, and took up all of the bed I could.

It was a very freeing feeling, almost exhilarating actually. My body was extremely pleased with this new found freedom. It also made me think, “What other areas in my life do I need to sprawl out? What have I trained myself to live with? Where do I need to trust God more?”

The most obvious area is going through Chemo, and believing for His perfect healing in all this. I believe there are more areas though, so I get to dig deeper. Prayer and meditation, and asking God to show me where I need to sprawl out.

Are you feeling this today?

He had me write it for a reason, so maybe it spoke to you. If so, I pray for us to ‘let go’ of who we have trained ourselves to be, and open our hearts to His plan for our lives. Just like Nike says, “Just do it,” we can say, “Let’s sprawl out.”

Look For Signs

When I first moved to this little farm house on 40 acres, I had no clue what God had in store. I was hoping this was His will, but concerned that maybe this was my move and not His. There was nothing out here but grass, trees and a pond with a pier beside the house. This is what nothingness looked like, as I slowly recalled mentioning to God, “Give me nothingness.”

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The entire story of the Blue Heron, or the Stork we named Elvis, is written in my Blog, Just Breathe. He was my sign that I was at the right house, and exactly where I needed to be. There are actually two storks. The Blue Heron was the first one to show up and then a white Egret came to visit.

The white one, named Marilyn shows up often. She is here almost everyday, stays for a bit and leaves. Elvis is very majestic and carries himself with intention. Sometimes he makes himself known, like this morning, as I was gazing out the window. He purposefully strolled right into sight as if to say, “Good Morning Barbara. I’m here.”

At other times, I have to search for him. His coloring blends in with the brush and trees around the pond, so I have to look for movement before he steps into view. Sometimes, I just know he’s there without even looking. His presence fills me with peace and promise of good things to come.

When he shows up, I can feel, a change is coming in my life.

Stork is fearless. I’m looking out the window now and it’s pouring down rain. He’s just standing there, watching for his morning catch of fish.

The rain is not going to deter him from his mission.

He is focused and is not bothered by his environment. Now, if I go outside with gusto, and the screen door slams, it will disturb his focus and he will fly away. They are instinctual animals, so a loud noise resembling a gunshot will prompt him to flee to safety.

Look for signs. They are there because God always gives a heads up before He swoops in and moves. Just like The Great Blue Heron, God moves swiftly in my life, but he shows me little things leading up to the event.

I may see nothing at first, and that within itself is a sign that something has changed. Watch for the slightest movement. It will step into view when I’m willing and God’s ready.

I Am Free

There’s a song the Newsboys came out with years ago called, I Am Free. I used to stand on my pier in the early morning and scream this song st the top of my lungs. Almost two years later, God reminded me of this song this morning and where I am today. God has brought me a long way, but I still have far to go.

free I hold high expectations for myself, and that’s okay. It’s when our expectations of self, fall onto others that we get disappointed. God showed me in the early hours of morning, that by expecting people to treat me a certain way, limits their actions. Today, I’m taking all limits off my life.

Joyce Meyer used to say, “I don’t expect much. That way if I don’t receive much, I’m not disappointed.” I recoiled from that statement thinking it was extremely negative. I expect great things and serve a great God, but I was getting disappointed. With God? No. With people? Yes.

God never disappoints us. We can disappoint ourselves, or allow the actions, or lack thereof, of others to disappoint us, but God won’t do it. He’s incapable. When people treat us a certain way, if we like it, we cling to it. It brings additional happiness to our lives and we all want that. The flip side is, that limits them in treating us with all their capabilities. If they treat us a little bit good, which may seem like a lot depending on how hungry we are for goodness, are they capable of more?

God is. I have a very sweet life today and if I don’t limit God, I’m sure He has a lot more in store. Today, it would be difficult for me to handle much more than He’s already given me, but that is one of the great things about God. He won’t give us more than we can handle. I need to open my heart and mind, expand my capacity to receive more of God’s goodness. What He has to offer is only limited by me. Today, I free myself from any and all expectations from people and God. I am free.

Take It Or Leave It

We had a beautiful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. This has been a truly great year! That doesn’t mean it’s been easy or uneventful. I choose to look at life’s challenges as opportunity for growth. There is always something to learn, which is probably why I refer to ‘lessons learned’ so often. God willing, I will never stop learning.

Have you thought about what and who you’re going to allow to go with you into 2015?

I encourage to leave the past behind and step into newness. If you’ve been carrying the past with you, how has that served you so far?

I’m reminded “They can’t have a valid opinion where they don’t have any responsibility.”

Take some time before the New Year, and see how you want it to look. What would you change? When my daughter and I were moving from our existing life into a new one, she wasn’t sure what to take with her. She saw me packing up items, but being selective. I told her, “Only pack it if it brings you joy. If it adds love and light to your life, then bring it, otherwise, leave it.’

That is my best advice to you for the new year. If it brings you love, light and joy then take it with you, otherwise, leave it.

That’s Even Better

I grew up watching my grandmother worry about things long before they happened, and promised myself I would not do that. Unfortunately, I did worry for many years.

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This morning I woke up feeling anxiety in my body. Grabbing a cup of coffee, I strolled out to the porch to wait for the darkness to turn to light. I’ve had some battles this week, so I marked it up to that. What I saw was, I needed to stand firm in my faith, beliefs, and what I know as right.

A couple of birds flew overhead, gracefully flying to their next destination. Were they arguing, or loosing feathers from stress? No. Matthew 6:26  (AMP) “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

Yes, we are! When we worry, we are thinking of the future. Our mind will think past, present, (briefly) and future. It doesn’t want to stand still in the present moment because it wants to be a problem solver, and drag us along for the ride. I use the image of cans ties to the bumper of a car after a wedding. I can either let go, or be dragged. I’m going to continue letting go.

Turning to leave the porch, and walk inside my home, I caught a glimpse of the pond. Elvis, our large grey stork was standing there looking at me as if to say, ‘Good Morning’. Every time I needed to know God was near, this stork has shown up. It’s not an everyday occurrence, only when needed, and it still surprises me.

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Sitting at my desk typing away, I gaze out the window to get a better look. Now, the large white Egret is there, on the opposite side of the pond from Elvis. After more than a year of living here, I have not seen them visit at the same time. This reminds me of God’s promise:

Zechariah 9:12 (AMP) 12 “Return to the stronghold [of security and prosperity], you prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.” Have you heard the saying, ‘Double for your trouble’? Well, this is it darlin’s. God will give us double the blessing for any trouble this world throws at us.

That is what I saw this morning. How about you? Is something staring you in the face that has you filled with anxiety, or is it in the future? If it’s in the future, it has a very good chance of not happening, because time changes circumstances. All we have is this present moment we’re sitting in right now.

I encourage you to be still in this moment, and know that God is near. He has it all worked out. It may not look like what we have planned, but in my experience, that’s even better.