Tuesday, December 31, 2013


This weekend we celebrated the life of my Aunt Janet. My Aunt Janet has always been special to me, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I truly grasped what an incredible person she was. Not everyone can say when they leave this world they leave a legacy, but she is. At her service there were at least 1,000 people in attendance and from what I hear at least 4,000 have viewed her service online. To put it simply, she made an impact. I truly regret not having spent more time with her, which leads me to why I am writing this post today. I learned a lot during this weekend. Janet knew her time to be with Jesus was coming and she was not afraid, in fact she was ready. In the last conversation I had with her she told me how impatient she was getting that Jesus hadn’t taken her home yet. In her 2 year battle with cancer, her faith never failed. She was a devoted friend to Jesus and made sure that everyone she met had the chance to become His friend too. At her service, which she planned, we worshiped together and had an invitation for those who may not know Christ as their personal Savior. 

I took away a lot from her this weekend, but I wanted to share just 10 of the things I learned.

1.)    God’s plan is greater than any diagnosis.
We all believed Janet would be physically healed. I told people all the time. I believed it firmly in my heart. I never doubted once, until the final few weeks when I started getting the calls that it was terminal. Even then, I said “ok God, terminal just means you need to work a miracle”. About a week before Janet went to be with Jesus it hit me. I don’t believe God ever intended for her to be physically healed. He used her to show an outstanding, supernatural way a person can keep their faith during a difficult time and still spread His name. Janet did that all the time. She kept a blog (I Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills) and had countless followers whose lives have been forever changed by her journey. Most “regular” people like me and you who don’t get public exposure like celebrities or national figures do not have 1000 people at their funerals and definitely don’t have a live stream service with 4,000 views and counting. The name of Jesus is still being spread because of her faith. Now, this does not make it any easier that she is gone. It may not be fair. And I cannot begin to imagine the pain that her husband and kids will feel for a long time because of her absence.
I so am thankful to have been a part of Janet’s life and can say that even in her last moments and beyond, she has changed me.

2.)    Grieving Sucks
I don’t understand grief.  I’m not good at it. A friend told me “I wouldn’t want to be good at grief it means you have too much practice.” He was right, but I would still have liked to have a better warning at how poorly I was going to handle the whole thing. Maybe everyone does? Maybe that’s the point. I knew the day was coming for her to pass, so when my father called to give me the news, I did not cry. In fact, I never cried until I saw her in the casket. Seeing her in the casket made the whole experience REAL. I came to realize that through grief, you do find mercy in seeking Jesus. He is there if you listen. At the service, the youth pastor put it perfectly. Janet always signed off her blogs with Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” He said that this scripture is hard. It is hard because on a day when we are having a funeral for someone, it is hard to rejoice. We don’t want to rejoice. We want to be selfish and have them here. But, because of eternal life and the possibility of seeing them again, we CAN rejoice. We can rejoice because of Jesus.

3.)    Time Flies
It’s cliché but it’s true. My son is 16 and I am already dreading the day he graduates from high school. All of the “don’t worry” verses in the Bible are tough for me. I cannot remember what it was like having a 3 year old or what we did for his 12th birthday. Time flies. My husband and I have been together since high school and while I am thankful for our time together, I want to ensure that the rest of our life together is spent creating meaningful memories and not worrying about things that aren’t eternity bound. Time flies. I plan to have more purpose with my time, creating memories and being with (not just around) the people who matter.

4.)    Be intentional
This is a tough one. In today’s time we think that a quick text or a facebook message gets the point across, and sometimes it does. Most of the time, I’d prefer texting over talking. However, after watching Janet’s video this weekend and seeing the impact she had on people’s lives I see how intentional she was with her time. She was intentional with people. She would go out of her way to say hello to someone. Many times, if I see someone in a grocery store, even that I like, I will go out of my way to avoid a conversation. This has to change. I know my tomorrow isn’t promised. 3 years ago I was given a second chance at life, and I know I have not done everything worthy and honorable with that chance.

5.)    “Don’t worry about mean people because mean people suck”
This was Janet’s advice to the youth pastor. Mean people do suck.

6.)    It’s ok to cry.
I really hate to cry. I don’t even watch “cry movies” because hate crying that much. I’ve never seen the Notebook and have no intention to. I’ll take Rambo over a chick flick any day. That being said, sometimes it’s ok to cry. Confession time: One of my biggest, most vain and pettiest worries about Janet dying was me getting the call at work because I didn’t want people to see me cry. Janet recorded a video in her last week and in it, she said goodbye to her family and friends. In the video, she cried. I know she wasn’t crying because she was sad she was dying. She wasn’t afraid. I don’t know what emotions she was feeling. But what I do know is she cried. She wasn’t afraid to cry. That was one of the most impactful moments of the entire service for me. Janet was vulnerable enough to show people her tears. I am thankful for that.

7.)    Sunflower seeds, cokes, roller coasters and Jesus
Memories. These are 3 things that stand out when I think of my Aunt Janet. She used to pick me up in the summers and take me back to Temple to stay with her and my Uncle Tony. On road trips, she would eat sunflower seeds and drink a coke to stay awake. So I picked up the habit. I still do it to this day. Janet is partly to blame for my fearlessness. Her and my father used to bribe me (and torture me) to get on roller coasters. They did it until the fear was gone. She is the reason I want to go sky diving. I want to go now more than ever! Jesus. When I think of Jesus I think of Janet. I don’t know another person whose walk matched their faith like Janet’s did. She is who Jesus commands us to be. She acted with the hands, feet and mouth of Jesus. At the end of the day, memories are what we are creating with people. Whether they are small like how to stay awake on a road trip or how to live your life as Jesus did, memories stay with us.

8.)    Words matter
During part of Janet’s service, they took time to read letters written by the youth about her. Several of them were memories, but the vast majority spoke about the impact that Janet had with her words. Janet always had a kind word to say. She incorporated Jesus into conversations and cared about people. My biggest issue isn’t always what I say, but how I say it. My prayer going forward is that my words and my tone will be loving and kind. I want my words to be used to build people up, and not tear people down. I am thankful for my husband’s forgiving heart and the Lord’s grace in this area because I certainly need it.

9.)    I miss Jesus
2013 was a ‘blah’ spiritual year for me. I went through the motions, but was “lukewarm”. My faith never failed, but it never grew either. I’m lea
rning that treading water is tiring. I also know that Jesus never left, I just put Him on the back burner to Facebook, work, housework, sleep, TV, etc. He’s been waiting and still providing. Always faithful. It’s time for me to start swimming again.

10.) Peace out suckas!
In her final video, Janet’s last words were “peace out suckas!, I love you all.” with a peace sign and all. Totally fitting. We are the suckas still here on Earth while she’s up there in Heaven in her new mansion hanging with Jesus.

In 2014, Facebook will no longer be a priority but personal growth and my relationship with Jesus and my family will be. I’ll be blogging more in 2014. I’m excited to see what the New Year brings.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Monday, September 10, 2012


"Be rich in love of man and love of God. Brothers should never cheat each other. When you move away from unity you are sure to move away from God" ~ St. Gregorios Geevarghese.

September 11th is a day of mourning in our country because of the thousands who lost their lives for a purposeless cause. It is also a day, where for a short time, we caught a glimpse into a society where it did not matter your race, gender, sexual orientation, or party line. A unified society existed. It would not have mattered what President was in office at that time, he would have been embraced by the people because he would have had to lead the American people through a national tragedy, which he did. Vigils were held across the country for families who we did not know and we stood together in some form of patriotic fashion because compassion was at the forefront of our hearts, not hate. Now today, facebook, news outlets and other media outlets are filled with nothing more than hatred laded excuses of why it is OK to spew words of hate about people, no matter who they may be. Unity has been lost. While I typically stay away from talking about anything political, I will admit that I too have been entertained by the bantering that has occurred over political bashing. This makes me no better than those carrying on outwardly in the bantering. With this election coming up, Satan would like nothing more than to use it to divide Christians more, use it as another tool to make us seem like arguing fools, and use it as a hindrance to our mission: to bring others to Christ. If we spent even half of the time studying, discussing, and professing our passion for Christ to others as we do our passion for politics, souls could be forever changed. But it doesn’t happen because the passion to share our interest in politics is easier than our interest in sharing our passion for Christ. If that statement shocks or offends you, good. Perhaps your gut needs checking. I know for me, it isn't politics that I necessarily have a passion for, but I do get caught up being passionate about things that aren't eternally important. Anything that takes priority over Christ has become an idol, whether that be politics, our families, our jobs, or ourselves. The unity that occurred after 9/11 has been lost due to selfishness. We by nature are a selfish people. For a time, we chose to bear one another’s burdens. Now, one another's burdens have become a burden to us. For the most part many people no longer seek out ways to help others, but look for ways to help themselves. The greater good has become the greater me. We expect Grace but aren't willing to give it. This has caused a divisive community both in our homes and throughout the country. It is sad and it completely goes against what the Bible teaches. I am thankful that we serve a Gracious and Merciful God who is willing to be so patient and loving with a people so undeserving as we are. All hope is not lost in the unity that was held in those moments after 9/11 because we can be unified in the belief that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that it is He who offers all those who choose to believe the Grace of forgiveness. He unifies us. So whether it’s through facebook, the media or with a conversation with a friend we should stop and consider the divisiveness of our language. Are we speaking love or hate? Truth or lies? Will what we are speaking glorify God or bring his name shame?

 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:29-32



Monday, August 27, 2012

Never Say Never

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a bit; somewhat due to my creativity wandering off into an abyss of nonexistence, but also due to sheer laziness. But, I’m trying to rejuvenate my creativity so, here we go…

Me and Justin Bieber have something in common. What? A 30 something woman and a teen pop sensation can’t share common ground? In 2011 JB had young girls flocking to the big screen in droves to go see his documentary “Never Say Never” and in 2012, I’ll be coining the phrase “Never Say Never” for my own personal use. (coming to a bumper sticker near you) You see, there have been several times in my life that I have said “I’ll never do ___” ,and days, weeks, months later I find myself in the exact situation I said I “would never do”. As a kid I hated okra, said I would never eat the stuff, now I have to get it as a side every time I go to Golden Chick. Tasty little fried green slimy nuggets of deliciousness.

Last year my son went on his first mission trip and had a great time so he wanted to go again this year. Several parents go as leaders… would I? No way. 5 vans full of junior high kids + very little sleep + dirty conditions + looooooooooong drive + 5 vans full of junior high kids (did I mention that?) = not my idea of a week’s worth of time well spent. Then I kept attending the mission trip meetings, and my son had mentioned that both my husband and I should go as leaders. When your teenager asks to spend that kind of time with you it’s hard to say no. That “never” suddenly turned into a “let’s do this”.

Fast forward to today. The week that I spent on the mission trip with the youth group and my family was one of the most life changing weeks I’ve ever had. There is no greater feeling that doing God’s work, surrounded by great people all while being able to see the lives of youth being changed. I met some wonderful people and made some great friends.

So that whole “never” thing? God always lets me know “never” is not an option when He is in control. Looking back I can almost see Him sitting up in Heaven smiling down laughing saying “Ha! Silly girl… you have NO idea what I’m about to do for you”. I have always had a heart for “troubled” youth due to how I grew up. I felt like I needed to reach out to youth that had already taken a path toward being lost and show them a path towards Christ and what He has done for me. What I have learned through this experience is that it doesn’t matter whether a child has been raised in the church or has never known Christ, they are all the same. They all need to be shown the same Grace and Mercy that we have all been shown. They need to be taught that Christ should be center of their lives and that He is who they should turn to, not the world, because the world will fail them. In a short amount of time, I grew to love those kids and now… I’m a senior high leader with our church. Go figure. From never to now.

I’m learning to not say never to God. I don’t want to find myself in the belly of a whale someday. My family and I don’t camp. And at the risk of finding myself in a little tent trapped by a big brown bear foraging for my food, I will no longer say we will never  go camping…but I strongly insist that we stay home and leave it to the pros.

"Lord, I know that people's lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps." ~ Jeremiah 10:23

Friday, July 29, 2011

Not so Dirty 30

Dirty thirty. The Big 3-0. That’s what I turn today. I don’t know where these nicknames come from, but the anxiety that many people get when this age approaches didn’t hit me. In fact, I am really excited about turning 30. I have been looking forward to it for a long time. While most people mourn their 20’s because it is a period of their life they will miss, I am bidding farewell to a period of my life that I kicked in the teeth with great joy. The first two decades of my life were not spent making memories that would fill a scrapbook with cute die-cuts and pretty pictures. Most of my life was a bad after school special. Life required that I join its gang, and with it came a blood in, blood out requirement. Life jumped me in to its gang with a series of punches and kicks to my spirit that damaged me to the point of bitterness and resentment toward anyone and anything that offered a better alternative, which finally came to me in my late 20’s.

When I entered into my 20’s I was ready to fight my way out of the life gang and didn’t care what collateral damage I took out in the process. I had taken the stress-fractured wounds of my past and bandaged them up, and would spend the next 10 years running on them, until they would finally turn into a full-blown break in my spirit. There was a clause in the blood out rule of the life gang is that that blood had already been shed. My price to get out of the torturous life I was living was paid. My gang membership was void, but I was not aware of it. Jesus Christ paid this price for me, and I didn’t have to spend anymore years fighting the battle I had fought for so long, alone. The lessons I learned in my 20’s were valuable, but I am happy to take those lessons with me and leave the years behind. I have learned that even when you face a near death experience, that won’t always create a miraculous change in you. You still have to work towards a change, and that often takes a considerable amount of time and effort. It is the journey that’s important. I’ve learned that Satan only has the amount of power over you that you allow him to have. I heard this statement in a sermon by Tony Evans, and it empowered me to make some much needed changes in my life. Satan does not have free reign to control your life. As Christians, we have the power of the holy spirit in our lives, however when we allow Satan a foothold, such as anxiety, or harboring a secret that controls us, he now has some power in our lives. I have learned that when I give him this power, I am not allowing the Holy Spirit as much freedom to work in my life. I’ve learned that the older I get, I cry…a lot. I see the beauty in things I didn’t see before. Extreme Homemaker Home Edition gets me every time. I expect that by the time I’m 50, I will need a tissue for a baby food commercial.

I am thankful to have made it to 30. I am thankful to have been blessed with the family I have. I am thankful that God has given me another year because 8 months ago we weren’t sure that was going to be possible. I am thankful I made it through my 20’s and that God allowed my sanity to stay intact, my family to stay together, and for my health. I am thankful that Jesus paid the price for me to get out of the Life gang, and join His Love gang.

May I be kinder to my 30’s than I was to my 20’s…

“This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fix You

I received some good news from my doctor today. My numbers are looking good and she said I will only need 2 more plasma treatments and I will be "fixed". It's been a long road. All the Glory goes to God for "fixing" me. I've always loved Coldplay's "Fix You". However, this song has a bit more meaning to me now. I plan to write more later on my reflections on what I've learned throughout this journey, but for now, I hope you enjoy the song as much as I do.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Will the Real W.M.D's Please Stand Up?

I did it. I did what all the top government officials were unable to do. I found the weapons of mass destruction. Or at least one of them. Escherichia coli O157:H7. This is one of the hundreds of strains of E. Coli that the Department of Homeland Security has listed on its list of bioterrorism agent list, and the culprit that was hidden in my bowels for 24-72 hours waiting to wreak havoc on my body. I knew that it was E. Coli that caused my bodily destruction, but bioterrorism agent? That’s impressive. Let me backtrack a bit. As you all know, I’ve recently been sick to the point of hospitalization, but what you may not know, is that it all started with an intestinal infection. Now, this wasn’t just any intestinal infection. This was the Hiroshima of intestinal infections. You see, E. Coli O157:H7 causes Shiga toxins to be released into the system of the person infected. Sounds fun right? They have those little pain scales in doctor’s offices with the faces ranking your pain level from a 1-10. I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance, but the pain that came with those “Shiga toxins” had me praying for mercy like I’ve never prayed before.

Another interesting fact? Laboratories do not specifically test for E. Coli O157:H7 unless the doctor requests it. Did mine? No. Now, my doctor was a good doctor. I went to see him thinking I had a virus, a stomach bug, something quickly curable with some heavy-duty antibiotics. He thought the same thing, so he prescribed me two antibiotics, some anti-cramping medicine, ordered the humiliating stool samples and sent me on my way. A few days later I went back to see him, not feeling much better, with no positive results… the stool samples all came back negative. His response? “Most of the time we never know what causes these things”. Well…all right. I went home to wait it out and a pray that that antibiotics would knock this mysterious illness out quickly. I find out (the hard way) that a person infected with E. Coli O157:H7 should not be prescribed antibiotics because it will not cure the problem and it could cause things to progress to a deadly complication: Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.

On Friday November 12, I woke up after 10 days of suffering through what I now know is a bioterrorist agent, 10 pounds lighter, and jaundice, and feeling worse than I have ever felt in my life and I told my husband I thought I might need to go to the hospital. After about 2 hours at the ER, a few blood tests, and one of those talks with the doctor that you see on TV that you never want to have, I was on my way to the ICU with the diagnosis of, yep, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. I went from what I thought was a simple stomach bug to a life threatening disease that destroys your red blood cells and my organs were beginning to shut down, enter kidney failure stage left --all because of a little hidden bioterrorism agent known as Escherichia coli O157:H7.

Not too many people can say they were harboring anything that is listed on the Centers for Disease Control list. Sure, my doctor could have tested for it, but it’s rare. If he had, he wouldn’t have prescribed me antibiotics and I may not have ended up with HUS. I’m thinking I may have another career in my future. Send me to the Middle East Mr. President, you won’t have to worry about finding the W.M.D’s, they will come find me.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I underwent my 16th treatment today, and I am a little bit weary. My treatments take a total of about 6 hours, and it makes for a long day. While I am slowly getting better, the doctors cannot tell me how many more treatments I am going to need to beat this. I started feeling a bit of guilt today because of the weariness I was feeling. Did my weariness mean that my faith was waning? As I sat in the treatment room today, I watched an older man receive dialysis for about 4 hours, another woman a blood transfusion, and yet another woman her daily blood draw to test her platelet levels for the cancer she is battling. Yet, I sat there, weary knowing that each one of those people must be feeling the very same thing. I know my weariness has a resting place. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) However, some days the unknown, and doctors telling you “I don’t know how much longer” is burdensome. It seems simple to say to lay your burden down, which I have been able to do graciously until today. Frustration is setting in. Today, it was hard to fight back the tears, so what better place to go than the handy Bible app on my phone while I was waiting in the hospital lobby. For no particular reason, I decided on 2 Thessalonians. Random book, but God has His divine reasons and His divine ways of speaking to us. The first thing I read was this, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4) The heading was “Thanksgiving and Prayer”. Under normal circumstances, I would most likely read this scripture for what it is: Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church. However, it struck me that God meant this passage for me today. Through this trial I am enduring, the love I have for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ has increased exponentially. The love and appreciation I have for my family has grown more than I thought possible. My faith is what is carrying me through each day. Although I am weary, I am beginning to realize that weariness is drawing me nearer to Christ, and I must continue to persevere. I do still believe that He is the True Physician and will heal me in His own time. I know I will still have days of frustration, but I will continue to be thankful for the progress I have made and for the Savior who gives me rest.

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31