Slowing Down in Gratitude

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Hurry has become an addiction in today’s culture. How many times are we rushing through the day? We are in such a hurry, we cannot enjoy any moment, each moment becomes something to check off the to-do list. Overcome with stress.

Many nights before I go to bed, I recite my to-do list for the following day, hoping, that I am not forgetting anything. Hurry, business, and the to-do list becomes an idol if I am honest with myself. Are these idols in your life as well?

Chronic illness has forced me to slow down, but I still need to work on being more present in the moment. “Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention.” Ann Voskamp What if I pursued thankfulness more than anything else? If in each moment I thanked God for something instead of letting my thoughts wander, creating meaningless chaos, or run with emotion.

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Looking back I see serval things I am thankful for, even in situations that were painful. I do not rejoice in the pain or situation but carefully laced in there is a tiny treaure to give thanks for. Thankful for pain as a warning sign when my body threated to shut down, the medication received, and my nurses. Thankful for the closeness of Christ when my friends deserted me. I honestly feel if more often I would give thanks in the middle of the day that I would experience more joy. Like Ann Voskamp shared, I would enter more fully into each moment.

Ann recorded one thousand gifts in a journal. A simple yet genius idea. One thousand seems like a large number. An enormous commitment. However, each individual must begin with one, anyway.  I came to the conclusion that aiming for one thousand could encourage this to become a burden which would defeat the purpose. So, I grabbed a journal with few expectations in mind. Simply writing things I am thankful for from now until this time next year.

Let me share a few of the gifts I have taken note of.

  •  My mother whom is my source of strength, encouragement, and inspiration.The stunning woman she is. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for her or for how many things I am thankful for.
  • The pitter padder of children’s feet. The embrace of little friends.
  • The smell of kitties fur. Their comforting fur.
  • Capturing tiny moments with Abby in photos.
  • God’s presence. Faithfulness. Who He is.

I would be humbly honored if you, my friend, would join me on this journey of journaling gratitude. More than that to live an abundant life of thanksgiving. Taking time to pause and give thanks. Enriching daily life.  There is no better time to start than now. I have crafted three inspiration of gratitude lists; one for those with chronic illness, college students, and mamas. I hope you will print one out. Copy of Wedding Invitation

 

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El Elyon (God Most High),

Your beauty takes my breath away. Every molecule reflects who You are and worships You. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty full of wonder, majesty, and goodness. I witness Your faithfulness daily.

Often, I overlook the blessings in my life. Forgive me, Lord Jesus. I desire to divorce hurry. Enable me to slow down and to enter into each moment fully with a thankful heart. Give me eyes to see Your beauty and glory in the ugly. Cultivate in me a thankful heart.

Amen

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Valentine’s Day

It is a lovely day honoring those we love. To cherish our spouse. A day of cards and candies for children already sweet enough. On the other hand, it can feel discouraging for those who don’t have a significant other. Regardless of where you fall on this Valentine spectrum hear me out. In addition to the mushy stuff, today is a day to honor God, be compassionate to ourselves, and bless someone in our lives.

This day is more than a reminder of our precious love story. It is a reminder of the ultimate love story. “Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins.So, my loved ones, if God loved us so sacrificially, surely we should love one another” 1 John 4:911 The Voice Translation. Take time out of your busy schedule to sit down and have a quality quiet time in honor of Valentine’s day. Spending time with God will without a doubt sweeten your day! Try something different such as praising Him in a new way or writing out Scripture or recording your prayer.

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The Father gently and compassionately handcrafted every cell in your body. He thoughtfully constructed your character. Zealously selecting your talents. The beauty He bestowed on you has depth beyond physical appearance. He delights in You. You dear friend, are the apple of His eye. God is pursuing you. He is doing a mighty and awe-inspiring work in your life beyond your dreams. Blessings are around the corner.

I want to encourage you, precious friend to take even just five minutes to be compassionate to yourself. It can be something extremely simple. A few examples include; making a cup of tea, reading a book, enjoying some time of silence, or doing a face mask.  Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship Romans 12:1.

Lastly, do something sweet for someone outside of your family. Maybe even someone you aren’t close to or someone enduring a struggle. We love because He has first loved us. 1 John 4:19. We are called simply to love on another and to share one anothers burdens. Send a note of encouragement. Offer to help a new Mama with her children. Make a meal for someone who is chronically ill. Ask your friends how you can be specifically praying for them and then pray with them there. Find a simple way to let another person know that you care.

Wishing you a day consumed with love. A day of joy. Time to honor the Lord, those you love, and yourself.

 

Thankfulness

Tis the season to be thankful and pass the turkey. Thanksgiving is a magnificent holiday. A time of reflection. Recounting all the blessing in life. Cherishing moments with those we love most.

There are infinite Biblical lessons on thankfulness. Thankfulness in trials, daily life, and for the joys in life are a few examples. Eucharistia is the Greek word for thankfulness. Bible Study Tools additionally defines it as, ” gratitude; giving of thanks, thanksgiving”. An attitude of thanksgiving is a foundational element of a Christian’s life.  At the soul of each element we are thankful for is God.

Not long ago I heard a sermon by Frances Chan (The Author of Crazy Love). He had posed an excellent question, which I would like you to ponder. When is the last time you thanked God for your salvation? Additionally, when is the last time you thanked Him not only for material things but for who He is? Those amazing gifts He has graciously bestowed on you, which are not tangible. When is the last time you thanked Him for your personal relationship with Him? “Praise God for this incredible, unbelievable, indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 The Voice.

While it is excellent to thank God for all the material things and all the countless ways He has provided for you. It is equally important to thank Him for who He is and Your personal relationship with Him. “Go through His gates, giving thanks; walk through His courts, giving praise. Offer Him your gratitude and praise His holy name.” Psalm 100:4 The Voice.  Praising God shifts our perspective. It renews our soul. Worship is as vital as air for the soul. 

Elohim,

We adore you. Praising Your holy name. Thank you for the breathtaking gift of salvation, sanctification, and Your agape love. Your love endures forever. We find deep joy in having a personal and daily relationship with You. You have abundantly blessed us beyond anything we could ask. We sing of Your faithfulness. We rejoice in You for the deep blessing of today. Enable us to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Deeply bless this lovely Thanksgiving day.

Amen

 

 

Silence So That…

Just a note before I begin, this post goes with the book Living So That By Wendy Blight and is specifically written for the online Bible study that I have the honor of assisting with.   With that being said, even if you are not in the study and have never read the book I strongly encourage that you read this post.

Are you going through the motions in your prayer life? I know life is super busy, your lucky that you have a few spare moments for a quiet time. We know that prayer is a dialog, not a monolog that we are so often tempted to have. We know from the Bible that God speaks to His people. He speaks to us in many ways such as dreams(Joseph), the Bible, other people(Moses spoke to Pharaoh) , an audible voice (Samuel or Moses), or a gentle nudge at the heart.

To sit with the Lord in prayer is powerful. Putting anxiety to rest and our chaotic thoughts to rest. Just being present in The Savior’s arms. Allow Him the chance to renew you. Allow Him the chance to speak to your heart.

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Around the time I was seventeen years old I had the privilege to travel to Taize. Taize is a retreat also known as a pilgrimage with over 5,000 teens and young adults from around the world held in France. This is where I encountered silence. This is where I encountered God’s nudge on my heart. This is where I encountered a deeper relationship with Christ. Worship was three times a day accompanied by eight minutes in silence.

Towards the end of my stay there, our Bible study leader asked us to spend an hour in silence. Let’s experiment and see what it’s like to spend an hour in silence.

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Just kidding! That never gets old. I know the look on your face was priceless. Anyways back to my story. After being told to go find a place to spend in silence, I ventured down to a place called the source. Its beauty is breathtaking. When you breathe in it’s as if you are breathing in peace and when you breath out along with the breath that escapes your lungs all your worries vanish too.

The time there flew by. That is where I let go of many things. Surrendering the future and letting go of the past.  Where God called me into ministry, though I am learning that word is used to describe so much more than pastoring. I cannot fully captive in words my experience with God in silence. The peace surpasses all understand. The joy is unthinkable.

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God speaks to us today. We need to have ears that hear and we must be intentional in seeking His voice. “Planned times of quiet and solitude are a good balance to a busy life. Cultivating a heart of prayer helps you see God’s perspective and to more fully experience His presence throughout the day.”

My challenge to you precious friend is for you to take two to five minutes of silence at least once this week. Silence is a break from the chaos of life, a chance to reconnect with God, and to worship Him in a new way.

Pet Pal

Dear Grace and Sadie,

You both stole my heart and have a special place in it. You are the apple of my eye. You both have blessed me in so many ways, I thank God everyday we are able to spend together. You both help me cope with my health in different but equally important ways.

Grace, you have been my baby almost three wonderful years. We have been through so much heartbreak and obstacles. You are my princess. You worry too much about me. You allow me to rock you to sleep, taking my mind off of the pain for a bit and off of the emotional roller coaster that my medication gives me.

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Sadie, you have been with us a short six months, yet it feels like I have known you so much longer. You overflow with love. So full of energy and life. You follow me around making sure I am okay. You call when you can’t find me. You sit with me while I do school work or read.

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You both provide stress relief, friendship, and a listening ear. You come when I call you and provide comfort. We exercise together. I love you both dearly with all my heart. I am forever grateful for your presents in my life and I cherish our time together. You give me hope and strength.

Love,

Your mom Victoria

Endometriosis

March is Endometriosis awareness month.

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“Endo what?” might be your first question. Endometriosis is not talked about much and like most chronic illnesses out there is commonly misunderstood. It is a discriminating illness that only effects woman of child baring age. Mayo Clinic describes Endo, “Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region. (However it can invade anywhere potentially occur anywhere.)

In endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesion — abnormal tissue that binds organs together.” There are a total of five stages in Endo.

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It’s an autoimmune disorder, according to the autoimmune foundation of America. Girls whos mothers or other female family members who have endometriosis are seven times more likely to develop Endo. It is not the most comfortable topic to discuss, however these are the facts that dictate many women’s lives. It is a fairly common illness.The symptoms have a wide range and can have a devastating impact.

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Endometriosis is not just a painful period. It is difficult to diagnosis. Endo does not show up on CATSCANS, ultra sounds, or MRIs. The only way to know if one has endometriosis is surgery. There are limited treatment options available for women with endometriosis, the most popular one being birth control. On the other hand many girls have reactions to oral birth control this limits their treatment options even further. Some deal with the terrible symptoms, go into menopause, or try birth control injections.

Every female on my mothers side of my family has had endometriosis. I knew there was a chance I would have to deal with it, however it showed up years before expected. I had my fist ovarian cyst at nine years old, my period didn’t begin until four years later. Of course I encounter sever pain and other signs of Endo. About two years after my monthly began I discussed the option of doing exploratory surgery with an OBGY and my mom. I knew it was a long shot, I knew  could have symptoms and Endo not be present yet. But no one can be certain. Deciding to go through surgery is a gamble for any female who suspects having Endo.

I was anxious to say the least about my first surgery. They discovered a large cyst on my ovary which was leaking. All the scans had missed it (which is rare, but I’m different). If it had not been removed I could have lost a few organs including my bladder. They did not find endo but warned me I would need another laparoscopy down the road.

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I continued having  problems and other health issues. I tired oral birth control and had a reaction every time. I continued to have terrible periods and abdominal issues. I had a Gastro evaluation. Eventually I ended up back at an OVGYN. I distinctly recall the phone call that pushed me back into the OR. I was trying to explain to my doctor that I could not take the birth control she had prescribed. She told me point blank that I had two options: go into menopause or have another laproscopy done. I felt trapped. Facing a decision no nineteen year old girl should have to. I agreed to the surgery.

I did not love my surgeon … okay I disliked her. On the way to the OR I had an anxiety attack. In the OR I saw the instruments they were going to use. So yeah, I freaked out… who wouldn’t. She told one of the nurses to get me to shut up, so compassionate….not.

They discovered I have stage one Endo. Due to my past relationships with birth control and my complex medical history they put me on an injection, depo provera. Depo Provera is a steroid which pauses the cycle.  I hate Depo, but it’s something I know I have to do. The injection is extremely painful because it is a thick medication. I have a lot of GI symptoms with it, including loss of appetite. Right now this is the best option for me. I hold on to hope. Hope for better treatment.

Please help us to raise awareness!!  Have you or someone you know encounter Endo? How have you coped?

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Birthday

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My parents and I all have our Birthdays in January. What’s even more unique is my mom and I share a birthday, which is today January 28th. The first six years of my life I was an only child. I adore being a big sister, but I am grateful for the years I spent as an only child. I believe those years allowed me to develop a special bond with each of my parents. “You love your parents, but as you get to know them you fall in love with them.” I believe this quote is absolutely true. As a child, our parents are heros. As teenagers, we drift away from our parents. We are so consumed with our lives, we don’t take enough time to get to know our parents and cherish the small amount of time God lends them to us. I cherish the time I have with my parents.

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My mom and I have always been close. She is the reason I am who I am today. I couldn’t ask for a better mother. God has truly blessed me. She has been with me for every appointment, ER trip, urgent care trip, every test, and every surgery. She’s the one who calms me down when Prednisone makes me crazy or when I’m just overwhelmed with everything. She is a huge encouragement and the source of strength. I am blessed that she introduced me to the Lord and raise me in a church. I am blessed that my mother encouraged and allowed me to go on missions trips and retreats. She always encourages me to lean on the Lord and to find strength in him.

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I wish I could remember all the wonderful moments we shared together as I was growing up however my illnesses have impaired my memory. I cherish the few things I remember, the stories I am told of these moments, the home videos and countless pictures I have.

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I know my illness is extremely difficult for my mother, which is heartbreaking for me. She is an admirable woman. I can only strive to be half as amazing, compassionate, and loving as she is. The strength she has always leaves me in awe. She has overcome and given so much in her life. I God every day that He blessed me with my mother. Thank you is not enough for everything she has done for me. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

Today, at 2:14 pm I turn 21 years old. I did not think I would see this day. There were many times I wondered if I would wake up in the morning or if the Lord would send his angles to carry me to his arms. I’m only 21, but I have fought for my life a number of times. There are a thousand reasons I should not be alive, but for whatever reason the Lord has allowed me to still be here. 

 Most people cannot wait for their 21st birthday, however I am not most people.As my birthday approached I began to dread it. Another year has passed, making me yet another year older. 21. I have never been a fan of getting older. For as long as I can remember I wanted to stay in toy land, to stay a child. For me growing up was something I dreaded and feared. Until recently I never understood why. Now I am beginning to understand this bazaar fear. The fear is rooted entangled with pain. I began have chronic pain around six years old. Continuously I have associated getting older with more chronic pain as well as my health becoming more complex.

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Though I’m not thrilled to be 21, I am grateful to be alive and to have another year. Today is a day to celebrate everything I have overcome, being alive, and what I have accomplished. While I was 20 I began my Facebook page, this blog, survived my Reclast experience, achieved a 4.0 GPA, and other various small accomplishments. I look forward with hope to what will unfold during my time as a 21 year old. I hope to achieve at least a 3.8 GPA, get my kidney stones to stop, stabilize my health, grow my blog, become closer to God, and be able to go away to college in the fall.

 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

I hope you have a terrific day, thank you for stopping by! Sending lots of spoons, hugs, and prayers ❤