Cancer Free

By: Nancy Backues
Posted: December 15, 2014

Cancer Free. Those were the two beautiful words I had waited so long to hear. Even though the surgery to remove the final tumor had been almost two months ago and my journey was not yet over, I breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, there would be years of follow-up appointments and scans. There would be the continued focus on my health, and every little ache or pain that didn’t “quite feel right” would be cause for concern. But I had moved from the “Cancer Patient” column to the “Cancer Overcomer” column.

It’s fitting that I heard those words in the month of December—almost a year to the date of my last chemo treatment. Last year I cherished every moment of my holiday, even though treatment forced me to slow down and stay close to home. This year I would celebrate cancer free.

I left the treatment center with those beautiful words still ringing in my ears. I drove home with tears of joy—of relief—stinging my eyes. As I thought about the significance of the season, I reflected on the sermon I had heard the previous Sunday.  

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV).

Wonderful Counselor—the Hebrew word for “wonderful” in this text literally means ‘miraculous,’ because that is what Christ is. He is the Miraculous Counselor. When we reach the end of our knowledge, the end of our abilities—when doctors and specialists say they don’t know what else to do—Christ is just getting started. There is no end to His knowledge or His wisdom. And He has promised to lead us into all understanding:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

Mighty God—God is the One whose power is unmatched. He’s the hero—the One who shows up when everything has fallen apart. When we’ve made a mess of things, or life has left us shaken, and we don’t even know how to begin putting things back together, God steps in to make a miracle out of our mess. He not only has the wisdom to know what to do, He has the power to bring it about. He is bigger than our circumstances and greater than any obstacle we may face.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Everlasting Father—Christ loves us as the Father loves us—with an everlasting love. His love will not run out or wear down. He is not impatient with us. He does not grow weary of our presence, our mistakes, or our requests. We can come to Him again, and again, and again until we receive the answer. He never grows tired of us, and His love never gives up.

What great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1, NIV).

Prince of Peace—He is our peace. He does not simply give peace; He is peace. That is how we can have peace in the midst of trial, in the midst of conflict, in the midst of pain. It’s not something that God gives us that we can lose, misplace, or can be taken away. It’s His very presence that gives us peace because He Is Peace. And since He has promised to never leave us, we can always have that peace no matter what we face.

For He himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

As Christians, we often toss out the obligatory reminder of the “true Reason for the season” at Christmastime.  But we should be careful to also consider the why of Christ’s coming. That Baby, born in a manger, came to save the world, yes. But He also came to be our miraculous Counselor, our hero God, our Father who loves us eternally, and our peace…even in the midst of the storm.  

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at There is Grace. Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children. Follow Nancy on FacebookTwitter, or Pintrest.

Discouragement is a Bully

By: Monica Steely
Posted: December 11, 2014

Discouragement is a bully.

It comes at you on the playground as you're running and laughing and enjoying the swings and delivers a sucker punch that brings you to a heap on the ground gasping for breath and crying silently.

Discouragement is a bully.

It interrupts the moments of contentedness and peace and just when you're feeling like the vision is actually a possibility, it throws a ball directly at your head and it knocks you to the ground and impairs your vision.

Discouragement is a bully.

It yells obscenities at you, tells you you're ugly and not good enough and confirms your deepest fears. It preys on those fears and taunts you with them and convinces you it's best just to quit -- quit showing up, quit working hard, quit trying.

Discouragement is a bully, and I just realized it today.

When I was a child and in a heap of tears over bullying taunts and jabs, my parents would gather me up and pray for me. And then they would encourage me to pray too; not just for myself, but for the bully. Not that the bully would receive vengeance, but to pray for love. For peace. That the bully's heart would change.

All the things I didn't want to pray, they told me to focus on.

Discouragement is a bully, but the rescuer is prayer.

The bully showed up unexpectedly yesterday, picking up on me nonstop. Suddenly, everything I saw and read and heard confirmed the bully's lies. I locked myself in the bathroom more than twice to silently cry and was ready to give it all up -- the dreams, the visions, the joy, all of it.

The ball the bully threw knocked me out cold and I just couldn't see anymore.

I believed his lies and I am ticked off today that I fell for it.

Because in my heart of hearts, here is what I know:

He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. (Matthew 10:30-31)

When the bully shows up and intimidates me, God gathers me up on his lap and prays that I would realize how the bully's words mean nothing. He reassures me how much I'm truly worth and reminds me to use my shield of faith to deflect the piercing, untrue words.

But he [God] didn’t let anyone push them around, he stood up for them against bully-kings: ‘Don’t you dare touch my anointed ones, don’t lay a hand on my prophets.' (I Chronicles 16:20-22)

And when the bully shows up and intimidates me, God deals with it Himself so I don't have to. When I'm a crushed heap under the weight of words that feel so real, He jumps in and stands up for me and takes the bully out.

And He reminds me to pray for peace…for love, for a heart change. Not for this bully, because he's unchangeable to the core. But that I would pray it for myself...that I would accept the peace and love God has to give.

And for my heart to change so I will stop believing each time discouragement shows up on my playground.

Yes, discouragement is a ruthless beast, bullying its way into every corner of my life that means anything. But my rescue is in prayer and the One to whom I pray.

My Daddy will always stick up for me.

--

Monica

Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Listen to BE’s podcasts on iTunes or Buzzsprout

JOY!

By: Pam Stewart
Posted: December 8, 2014

A little note from Kristianne...

When my BEAUTIFUL sister-in-law Pam laughs, I feel the comfort from the things that fill the happy places in my life. Her easy laugh is like the sunshine on my head, melting me to a puddle of sweet thoughts on my best day and it's the tender hugs during my hard days. Like some of you, she's in the heat of the battle again facing another round of chemo this Tuesday. My Pam and I believe in the power of prayer and she faithfully prays for all our overcomers and their families. The holidays can be a difficult time but I know Pam's words will speak to your spirit giving you hope and a feeling that you are loved with an everlasting love.

Agape,

Kristianne 

 

 

During the Christmas season the word  Joy  is flung about frequently and sometimes lightly.  It's on coffee cups, commercials and stamps. Sitting here praying my way through fourth stage breast cancer this  Joy seems lacking the substantial stuff with which I long to bolster my joy experience.  I open my Bible to James 1:2-4 (ESV), and encounter the answer to my musings from a man of God who knows exactly where I am at.  He writes,  "Count it all JOY,  my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Whoa! Slow down now!  This doesn't seem very Christmasy!  Oh but it is!  When was the last time you rode a donkey to Bethlehem to pay your taxes, at 9 months pregnant, and found "No Vacancy" signs at every hotel?  Then joy in the morning,  as labor pains grip your abdomen,  your sweet husband tells you he has found a cozy corner in a cow stall in which to sleep, labor and deliver your first child amidst the animal smells,  sounds and prickly straw bedding  (with no doctor, midwife or even your mother there to assist and encourage you)!

Your first guests after the birth of your child come directly out of the field from herding sheep and have no antibacterial gel to clean themselves up. Then to top it all off, before you have even had time to settle down and look into preschool options,  you must jump back up on that donkey and flee with your family to Egypt because the king wants to kill your baby!  

Forget postpartum depression or knitting bigger booties, you are breast feeding amidst the dust from hoof beats,  nibbling on dry figs and raisin cakes and realizing that you may never see your family or friends ever again. This is not the sterile, dirt free environment of the nativity scene on your mantel.  Our lives are not sterile or dirt free. Having cancer, losing a job, struggling as a single parent, dealing with a less than perfect spouse or child is NOT a "happy, happy, joy, joy" experience. Is it?  Uh oh, here comes James again..."Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" James1:12. (NASB)  What a great reminder that we are loved with a perfect love,  blessed by a perfect God and saved by a perfect savior.

This gift of JOY came out of a less than perfect birthing experience, the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ and His painful experience on the cross. No, JOY is not a sparkly word on a Christmas card!  And life is not easy, circumstances not always ideal and sometimes truly painful.  

Yet we have this promise to truly fulfill our Joy experience. "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

Have a blessed Christmas and know that as the Psalmist cried out to our loving God we may too. His promise of JOY is there for us at all times. "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your love, O Lord supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought JOY to my soul"  Psalm 95:18-19  (NIV).

Joy to your soul!

Pam

 soulmeadow7@gmail.com

 

 

Being honest about Christmas

By: Dianna Salciccioli
Posted: December 1, 2014

It’s Christmastime with all the lights, gifts, celebrations, cards, and busy schedules.  All around us we are besieged by products adds, Christmas carols, and the reminder that “If we order today our gifts can STILL arrive by Christmas day!”  Hurry ~~ Hurry!

Let me be honest, I love the Christmas season as much as anybody, yet, as I pay attention to the people around me I am tenderized by the fact that there are many facing challenges and changes IN THE MIDST of this season. Not everyone is experiencing a Facebook Christmas full of photos of fun, food, and laughter.

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I am aware of folks facing incredible physical challenges, financial pressure, relational pain, loss, and lonliness. For them, the hoidays present unique challenges. I see the commercials with the children missing their daddies serving in the military; it takes less than one second for my eyes to well up with tears. I watched a man suffering with Parkinsons disease carefully taking steps down the aisle at the store slowly gathering up family gifts as his energy (not love) drained with every step; tears again.  I read a blog of a colleague whose son has just married and faced a painful surgery to remove an enormous tumor in his brain; my heart breaks for what this young couple is walking through.

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No, I don’t want to write a blog that brings you down! I don’t. Yet if we miss what is really true during this holiday season we will be unable to be ready to respond to the needs around us. I have simply chosen, in this season, to be very mindful of those who serve in customer care during the holidays; I’ve committed not to be too busy that I don’t forget to thank them by name, smile at them, and compliment them.  It has been remarkable how those soft touches have changed their countenance. This is a little thing!

We all face challenging situations; some seasons are harder than others yet these challenges can just seem more pronounced during a season. If you are in a season where you are experiencing health, peace, and joy then CELEBRATE IT! If you are facing a season that feels heavy and challenging, I encourage you to trust in the One who loves you more than you will ever know!  Deuteronomy 31:8 says ” It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”   I just LOVE that!   That is what Christmas is truly all about!

Last night I saw the movie ” The Book Thief”. There was one line that really got to me as I watched.  The young heroine in the story had been going the extra mile for those she loved~ fighting for them, providing for them, reading to them, and sparing no personal cost to make the lives of those around her better; If she could.   He father was asking her why she would do this to which she answered; “Isn’t that what humans do?”

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Even as I write I am keenly aware that many of you are in a tough season, some of you have just passed though challenges, and there will be others whose lives feel incredibly easy at this time.  I wish all of you true joy in whatever situation you find yourself this year.

Perhaps this season, and all year through, we could find the good tension between celebrating our own lives and remaining mindful of those whose lives are facing great challenge.  Let’s be human.

Merry meaningful Christmas to you, my friends.

Dianna

Dianna Salciccioli co-founded and leads alongside her husband Greg, at Coachwell, Inc.- Coaching & Consulting Company. Dianna's been a pastor’s wife, pregnancy resource director, teacher’s aide, youth pastor’s assistant, and coach in her life but her highest calling is being a quality wife to her precious husband, as well as a hands on mom to her incredible sons!  Over the past five years she's been blessed to add to her “roles” that of mother- in- law to two of the greatest young women she knows! This year, Dianna's role grew to grandma and her heart swells at the thought! Follow Dianna on her Blog, Instagram  and Twitter

Confessions of a Turkey Butcherer

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: November 27, 2014

I have a confession to make. I butcher turkeys. No, not in the conventional knife wielding, life-ending massacre for the Thanksgiving genus and bird species. I’m talking burned to a crisp or undercooked with jelly-like movement. I admit to trashing a charred bird or two, and resorting to microwaving the gelatinous one. It’s become a bit of a story among my friends, many of whom have well-worn aprons that speak to years of tasty, traditional family meals. I'm relieved that most every Thanksgiving is spent with my husband’s family in Mississippi, where the Lazy Susan spins like a twist-n-turn despite the weight from overflowing casserole dishes filled with Coke salad, sweet potatoes, and our niece Melinda’s asparagus casserole, just for me! And without fail, my mother-in-love cooks a turkey. I have watched through my seventeen, Stewart Thanksgivings as the actual turkey presentation has shifted to stronger arms, but never diminishing the strength of her love.

Each year we tell what we’re thankful for. This is always so difficult for me because as eloquent as I am, I find myself at a loss for words. They seem to stick to my tongue. Our nephew Jason will always make me cry because he’s so grateful for family. I’ll look across the table at my BEAUTIFUL sister-in-law, Sonja’s children and grandchildren, and think how proud she would have been of all of them. 

I am thankful for my BEAUTIFUL sister-in-law Pam and the healing in her body, as she undergoes another round of chemo. She’s spending Thanksgiving close to her home and is the only other one to outcry me at the table. And then there’s my husband’s brother, and Pam’s husband, Richard who has the biggest heart.

I am of course thankful for my husband, Royal who gets me. I live in my heart and my head a lot — like when I wander off in the store and equally as lost in my thought life. He doesn’t question when I show up ten minutes later with decorative cupcake wrappers but simply asks if I found what I needed and doesn’t ask when I put it back, because I don’t bake either. 

I am thankful for my daughters, Grace and Annelise whose creativity and wide open embrace of our grand adventures makes life fun. 

I am thankful for my BEAUTIFUL sister Vikki's, five year cancer-free celebration and for my sister, Dawn who believed in me and help scatter those dandelion seeds.

I am thankful for life-speaking friends who've walked beside me for years, sharing lattes and tea, snort laughs and tears. These are gifts that fuel my spirit.

I am thankful for my surgeon, Dr. Sullivan and the Breast Center team who are committed to restoring the whole person. 

I am thankful for Momma Rosie and Leo who listen to my endless stories and musings. 

I am thankful for my new friends like Sabriana and my five D's, who know how to “love you most,” hit their knees in prayer, send books, cards and letters at just the right time to inspire me.

I am thankful for our writing team, the original "compassionistas" whose voices chorus His grace.

I am thankful for Scotty and Shane, my website guys from Jericho Studios who follow my chain of panic emails and screenshots titled, "HELP and URGENT."

I am thankful for our Compassion That Compels boards for their wise counsel and firm conviction.

I am thankful for the prayers and generosity of the many volunteers, donors, and corporate sponsors like Altar'D State, who heard our hearts and joined us on this journey.

I am forever thankful to Jesus for bringing 1146 BEAUTIFUL and brave women, along with all those who love and care for them, into my life. All I wanted to do was launch my Bible study and ministry but all God wanted me to do was be obedient. He always has the better plan. This Thanksgiving, I have the largest, small group and am now followed by the most amazing people I could ever hope to add to my heart's collection.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

 

 

How are you going to love?

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: November 24, 2014

A Compassion Bag Story...

BEAUTIFUL Martha radiated God's joy as we blessed her with the 1100th Compassion Bag today! She is forever a part of my heart's collection through the ties of God's love. As BEAUTIFUL Martha shared her story, her words hung like carefully placed pegs of mercy on a board of God's love. My friends, because of our Enterprise/Dothan supporters including Altar'd State's Mission Monday, we reached more women battling cancer at Southeast Cancer Center, and the wiregrass community! We are so grateful for our Alabama leadership team of Sabrina Nelson and Dianne Walters. 

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Psalm 34:4-5

Agape,

Kristianne

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When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  37  Then he said to his disciples,  “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  38  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”                                                Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus had compassion for the distressed,  the dejected, the lost.  A few years ago,  I was so hemmed in by my need to serve on God’s personal God Squad,  handing out sin citations,  that my love for the lost was overridden by my prideful need to defend God’s truth.  I was still moved by the innocent who were maligned and hurt,  but immune to the sinners birthed from a corrupt culture.  It was then God showed me if I were to love the lost,  I would need more empathy for the “guilty” than for the innocent.  I would need compassion.  And slowly,  He gave me a heart of compassion,  a compassion that compels me to love in action.  A voluntary act of my will, a yielding to the Holy Spirit.

Compassion that compels forces your heart to pay attention with intention.  It kneels down to your child to listen with your eyes. It reaches across the table at that next family gathering.  It knocks on your neighbor’s door.  It extends itself at a ragged shirt sleeve and outstretched hand. 

Do not forget to entertain strangers,  for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.       Hebrews 11:12

Close your eyes and think about someone whom you love with your whole heart.  Someone easy to love. Then create a mental montage of those who may not have loved you in return.  Now stop,  and think about the family member you are called to love,  but just can’t?  If they died today would you know where they would spend eternity?  If you doubt it is in heaven,  do you feel that is their just reward?  Or do you feel compelled by the same compassion to serve the helpless, to leave the ninety-nine sheep, and seek the one that is lost?  In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus identified the needs and saw that the workers were few.  

Do you think he was only speaking to His disciples after a series of mega-picnics that fed thousands?  Or is His word living and active today and it includes us?

The answer is yes,  we are His disciples. In verse 38,  Jesus tells us to ask  (pray)  the Lord to send,  some translations say force,  the workers into his harvest field.  

What if,  just what if,  you were praying and God commanded you to harvest the field?  Could you do it steeped in the confines of judgement and condemnation with arms crossed?  Or suffused in His grace and mercy like those loving arms, outstretched on the cross?

... “Simon son of John,  do you truly love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said,  “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  16  Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”  He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said,  “Take care of my sheep.”  17  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”  He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep."             John 21:15-17

Jesus posed the question to Peter three times, “Do you truly love me?”  By the third time,  Peter was hurt.  How could Jesus ask him three times?  Peter said,  “You know that I love you.”  If Jesus knows all things, why was he asking?  He certainly wasn’t asking Peter because He didn’t know.  He was relentless in His questioning not for Peter to affirm his love, but for Peter to decide how he was going to love.  Jesus asked Peter and today He asks us to display His love through compassion.  A compassion that should compel us to feed the innocent lambs and take care of the lost sheep.  

The question remains, how are YOU going to love?

Agape,

Kristianne

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

It isn't what it is

By: Monica Steely
Posted: November 20, 2014

A Compassion Bag Story...BEAUTIFUL Shirley

Compassion That Compels and Altar'd State were busy in Alabama! A picture says a thousand words but these pictures tell...1125! Sweet Autumn from Altar'd State Birmingham has a vibrancy and heart to "give out and live out" Altar'd State's vision to, STAND OUT. FOR GOOD! BEAUTIFUL Shirley was blessed by her Compassion Bag and you can see the mix of emotions as Autumn shares the why behind each item in her Compassion Bag. We just love the amazing navigation team at Princeton Baptist Medical Center! Thank you Altar'd State for Mission Monday and helping us bless the most BEAUTIFUL and bravest women battling cancer with Compassion Bags. 
Agape,

Kristianne
 

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It isn’t what it is.

When the trees are bare and the leaves are gone, the tree is not dead. When we see empty limbs and spindly branches, we declare it is what it is! and sigh in resignation and believe the leaves are gone forever and the tree will no longer bring shade.

It isn’t what it is.

When our To Do’s outweigh our To Be’s and there’s no time to stop and be still,  we declare it is what it is! and sigh in resignation and believe our stress will be present forever and peace will elude us forever.

It isn’t what it is.

When we visit our families for the holidays and our expectations aren’t met and disappointments fall like heavy snow,  we declare it is what it is! and sigh in resignation and believe that what once was is now gone and relationships will be changed forever.

It isn’t what it is.

This phrase  –  it is what it is  –  it circles circumstances and pops up in conversation and is intended to be healthy.  It’s intended to help you fully embrace the reality of the situation,  not drive you to insanity by expecting different results.

But while I understand the intent in which it’s said,  it seems that more and more it’s said with a defeatist attitude instead of an attitude of victory.  It’s declared as a resignation and a loss of hope.

I've said it myself a million times over and encouraged others to believe it.  And then one day as I watched it escape my mouth I desperately tried to pull it back in.

Because right then I suddenly saw the absurdity in it. I saw how unbiblical it is.  How unbelieving it is.

Because if there's any one thing that God demonstrates the most in the Bible, it's that it never is what it is.

Romans 4:17 says, “Abraham believed when he stood in the presence of the God who gives life to dead people and calls into existence things that don’t even exist.”  

It isn’t what it is

-- No Moses, it isn't what it is.  The staff in your hand will part a sea.

-- No Elizabeth, it isn't what it is.  The barren womb you have carries my Son's predecessor.

-- No Israel, it isn't what it is.  I'm parting this sea so you can cross over.

--No Abraham, it isn't what it is. I've provided a ram in the thicket so you don't have to sacrifice your son.

-- No Mother, it isn't what it is.  I've turned that water into wine.

-- No Daniel, it isn't what it is. Those lions will leave you unscathed all night long.

-- No Joseph, it isn't what it is. Your future is not in this prison.

-- No Adam, it isn't what it is.  I provided a helpmate for you.

-- No David, it isn’t what it is.  You did hear correctly and I will make it happen, soon.

No my friends, it isn't what it is.  Because God has called that which isn't as though it is. You can embrace the reality of a situation without losing your hope in Christ in the midst of it.

Your kidneys aren't failing  -  your body is made whole in Christ.

Your finances aren't dire -  you're rich in Christ.

Your marriage isn't over -  you're the bride of Christ.

You are not alone -  He'll never leave you or forsake you.

Your son is not a prodigal  -  he and your household will be saved.

Your nephew is not an orphan  -  he is a child of Abba.

You aren’t empty  -  open your mouth wide and God will fill it.

You aren’t barren – you are full of life, love and the mother of spiritual children.

It isn’t what it is.  Instead, it is what I could never imagine it would be.  It’s choosing to see the truth of what it is instead of the expectation of what it’s not.
In the midst of our storms of unbelief, hear God whisper,

It isn’t what it is.  Don’t forget who I am and what I’m capable of.  I can bring rain to ease the drought, a child to a virgin, life to the dead.  It’s never what it is.  It’s always what doesn’t even exist in your world right now.

As we enter into this Christmas season,  let your heart prepare Him room to show you it isn’t what it is. Let Him show you the hope  –  Him in the midst of it all, making possible that which isn’t possible. Prepare room for Him to show you a miracle or three – even if that miracle is just softening and changing your heart,  or the opening of your eyes.

Look at the next few weeks through the lens of Romans 4:17,  declaring boldly, “God gives life to dead people and calls into existence things that don’t even exist!”

It isn’t what it is, my friends. It is what He says it is.


Blessings to you this Thanksgiving,

Monica

Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Listen to BE’s podcasts on iTunes or Buzzsprout

 

 

 

Forks on the Left

By: Gwen Plauche
Posted: November 17, 2014

A Compassion Bag Story...BEAUTIFUL Shelia

We had almost finished delivering Compassion Bags at UT Cancer Center in Knoxville, when sweet Lynn tapped me on the shoulder. "I have a brave friend in the middle of her cancer battle. She isn't having treatment here. Can she have a bag?" We sent one out the next day. Look closely at BEAUTIFUL Shelia's eyes. I wish I were there to pray with you, hug you and wipe away those tears. I hope you feel Momma Rosie's prayers of peace and healing each time you cover yourself with your blanket. 

Agape,

Kristianne

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I stared at the stacks of silver cutlery on my mother-in-law’s dining room table and wondered how I had managed to escape the fine of art of the formal table.  I was a new bride and had been asked to set the table for our Thanksgiving meal at my in-laws.  Sensing my discomfort, my mother-in-law opened the linen drawer and revealed a card with an illustration of proper formal table settings - a kind of etiquette cheat sheet.  I quickly observed that one of the best ways to learn the basics of formal table setting is with a memorized pattern. The word left has four letters, so does the word fork.  The word right has five letters, so does knife, spoon and glass.  Could it be that easy?  That guide reassured me that I was not the only one who needed a little help in this area!

Just like those stacks of forks and knives,  there are stacks of emotions that come knocking on your heart’s door along with the family for holiday dinner.  You may be asking yourself,  “How will I ever deal with all these emotions?”

Wouldn’t it be great if you had an easy guide to help you know what to do?  You are not the only one who needs a little help!  God’s word, your Bible, is full of wisdom that tells you the way to respond.  Here is a collection of what I am calling,  Spiritual Place Cards.  The table setting pattern helped me remember to place the forks on the left,  memorizing these will help you remember where to place your emotions and your responses at just the right time this holiday season.

 

When you fear or dread facing that particular person over the holidays...

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.   Matthew 5:44

 

When that certain relative pushes your buttons and the conversation gets heated...

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.   Proverbs 15:1

 

When Uncle Louie goes there (again)...

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent and discerning if they hold their tongues.   Proverbs 17:27-28

 

When the empty chair reminds you...

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.   Lamentations 3:21-23

 

When the turkey comes out and the food critics emerge...

Therefore, There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  

Romans 8:1

 

When Aunt Sue is inquiring and comparing...

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.   Philippians 1:6

 

When you think you are the only one who has this problem…

You are tempted in the same way all other human beings are. God is faithful.  He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take.  But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.     1 Corinthians 10:13

 

When you feel alone...

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.    James 4:8

 

My prayer for you is that you feast through the holidays on God’s Word and that the peace of God,  which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.      Philippians 4:7

Blessings,

Gwen

Gwen Plauche, aka Momma Gwen, is married to the greatest man on earth, mom to five (ages 16-26) and loves to find encouragement between the covers of her Bible. Her blog can be found at: www.MommaGwen.com and follow her on Twitter@MommaGwen.

 

 

 

 

 

God Is Enough

By: Sabrina Nelson
Posted: November 13, 2014

 

A Message from Sabrina Nelson, our Alabama Chapter President:

"My sweet friend Leigh Greene gained her precious wings this morning. I will never forget meeting her at the SAMC Cancer Center and sharing about the love of our awesome God with her! She smiled so big and a joyous light shone from her beautiful face! She was so special to me and my life and I am better to have known her! She always had her Compassion Bag with her at treatment. I also enjoyed getting to know her sweet mom Faye Baker and her amazing sister Tabitha Michelle Teal! What an amazing family and full of God's love! Rest in peace, Leigh! No more pain, no more fighting! We will all gather to see you again as you wait for us in heaven with open arms! Please pray for this family during this time of earthly loss and celebrate with them her precious life and new life in eternity!"

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GOD IS ENOUGH...

Have you ever stopped and wondered if God had a bucket list? Would He have made a list that included watching His only son Jesus be tortured, crucified, dead and buried? I am sure if He did make a list it would include all of the wonderful things that He accomplished. Feeding 5000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish from a little boy (John 6:5-13), parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:18,31), restoring sight to the blind and the lame able to walk. All just a day’s work for God!

There are wonderful places to visit and things to do, and there is nothing wrong with that. I have decided that a bucket list should actually be a short one for me. I may be able to go places and be blessed enough to do things I might desire to do in this life, but I want my main focus to always be Christ centered and all of the things on my bucket list be only things that would result in His glorification

Sabrina’s Bucket List:

 1. Live for God, solely for Him and have a relationship with Him that HE desires.

 2. Share His name, His word, His works with others. This is something He desires and asks of us.

 3. Lead others to Him. This is what we are called to do as children of God and yet another of His desires.

 I truly want my bucket list to be the things that God desires of me.

I want... to always be one with a servant’s heart, a willing vessel and spirit that will do whatever it is He calls me to do at any moment.

I want…His love to shine from me and for others to know without a doubt that when they see me, they see Jesus.

I want…to share His word with others so that they may come to know Him.

I want…to praise Him all of my days, both the good and the bad for after all, any day given to us is from God.

 I believe if I am able to do all of these things, all of the places I may want to go, or things I may want to see will all just be blessings granted to me by God for being a good and faithful servant. Nothing in life is free and the price Jesus paid on the cross for our sins certainly is the biggest price of all.  How hard should it be for us to attempt to repay such a debt? It shouldn’t be. We should all wish to live for Him just as He was willing to die for us. In my eyes, that is not asking too much at all. In fact, I feel I could NEVER do enough but God is enough!

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.   Philippians 4:13

Why had I waited to really see this now? Due to my own serious health issues and suffering losses all around me, it made me begin to wonder...

Be still and know that I am God   Psalm 46:10

God was writing my bucket list this entire time. I learned to trust Him and have faith that He was working all the while for my good. And I learned to be still. Trusting Him and having faith in His plan led me straight to Compassion That Compels. He brought me right into exactly what He wanted me to be doing. This ministry has become so close to my heart and a huge part of my life that I could never thank Him enough for the trials I endured. I am grateful for those valleys He led me out of, only to lead me straight to Kristianne and Compassion That Compels! He knew what He was doing all along. He only needed me to trust.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

I will never doubt Him again! And in return, my bucket list-my priorities have completely changed for the best! I challenge you to do two things. Sit down and write your bucket list and see where God ranks on that list! If He isn’t at the top, put Him there. At the end of the week, sit down and write your list of things you’ve done for God that week. It may not be a long list but it’s a start! Remember, every page starts blank. Every day with Jesus is a clean slate. It’s up to you to write it and to live it 

God Bless,

Sabrina

Sabrina is a loving wife who is blessed beyond measure. A servant’s heart is woven into her being and her focus is giving to others and leading them to know God. She is married to her best friend, has an amazing mom, two great step-daughters and one precious granddaughter. Follow Sabrina on Facebook or Twitter@sabrinamnelson.

 

 

 

WWJD Wrestling Team

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: November 10, 2014

A little note from me, Kristianne:

 

I texted this to a freind the other day from a Compassion Bag delivery,

"As I hit my knees to the floor in prayer today, something happened to me. I don't know how to explain it but sometimes my heart fills with an equal measure of love and pain that it's only His grace that holds it together."  

Since Compassion That Compels went from something I privately did in just sixteen months, to something I publicly do, we've blessed nearly 1100 women battling cancer with Compassion Bags. All I wanted to do was launch my Bible study and ministry but all God wanted me to do was be obedient. He always has the better plan and today, I have the largest, small group now followed by the most amazing people I could ever hope to add to my heart's collection.

I love to write, talk and pray. As a writer, speaker, and founder of a ministry - Compassion That Compels, I get to do three things I love to do most. When I write, I script life in vignettes of God's unmerited grace. As a speaker, I tell the stories of the ties of God's love. And when I am driven to my knees in prayer, I can glorify Jesus Christ. Many of you have asked me to inlcude the stories from our Compassion Bag deliveries and events on our blog. Starting this week, we'll include a story within a story. Only promise me that as you read these stories, you begin to see yourself in a new way. I challenge you all to let the entire essence of your being --

ALL the things that make you who you are, submit them to God's divine will and you will become more than a noun, you will be a living and active verb.

There are moments I will never forget as we give a Compassion Bag - like when I asked BEAUTIFUL Belinda to describe her best morning. Her face opened with a smile as she told us it was receiving morning hugs from her three precious children before they left for school. Before her cancer battle, she worked and missed those hugs. I tie every prayer to God's word and Psalm 118:24 echoed in our hearts and throughout the chemo infusion room. BEAUTIFUL Belinda I hope you and your sweet mother-in-love, Gail, enjoyed those hugs this morning! My daughter Annelise, and our Altar'd State compassionistas - Erin and Mckayla loved blessing you with your Compassion Bag

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Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.         Colossians 4:12 (NIV)

Beth laid her meal for one in her grocery cart and turned the corner towards the next morning’s coffee beans. Suddenly, an enthusiastic “hello” and the smell of vanilla coffee beans enveloped Beth in a hug.  It was her religious neighbor, Andrea. The one whose i’s dotted with hearts and gushing exclamation points violated all grammar and punctuation rules.

“How are you, Beth?” Beth’s gaze shifted to Andrea’s artfully designed, environmentally correct, reusable bag.  Beth’s own reusable bags were sandwiched somewhere in her trunk between her ex-husband’s love letters, and their divorce papers.  Her need for plastic bags was just another one of Beth’s many failings-just like her marriage. 

Andrea continued without an answer.  “Look, Beth I’m sorry. I saw the “SOLD” sign in front of your house. I’d like to invite you to a small group I lead and I’d love for you be a part of it.”  Beth nodded and as her eyes filled with hot tears, she decided two things: she wasn’t going to Andrea’s religious zealot’s group and she now hated the smell of vanilla.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”  Luke 11:1 (NIV)

“Beth, I want to pray for you.”  Beth shifted uncomfortably. “Here? Now?” Why couldn’t she have bumped into Andrea in the frozen food aisle where people had shorter conversations? Without hesitation, Andrea’s words flowed from conversation to prayer. Beth never remembers the exact words Andrea prayed, but today when she shares the story with her own small group, she is grateful for Andrea’s prayers offered in a certain place.

Holy Spirit, show me how to become a prayer wrestler like Epaphras. Teach me to respond to Jesus’ divine nature, continually offering prayers in every certain place. 

 

Agape,

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

 

 

 

5 Things to Say to Someone Facing Cancer

By: Nancy Backues
Posted: November 6, 2014

Last month, on our Compassion That Compels blog, I shared what not to say to someone who is facing cancer (or any devastating life event, for that matter).  I didn't want to simply leave you with what not to do. I want to give you some tips to help you know what to do.  

I realize cancer is a delicate subject, and not everyone handles it in the same way.  Responses and reactions can change daily, sometimes moment by moment. For those and many more reasons, it can be difficult to know what to say, particularly if you don't know the person well.  While each person copes differently, the following tips will help you bring hope and encouragement to the person battling cancer.

 "You're beautiful"

Even if she looks tired, weak, or weary. Even if she's lost weight or gained weight. Tell her she's beautiful. She's probably self-conscious of her hair loss or weight gain (or loss), and it took a lot of courage for her to face the world today.  Let her know that when you look at her, you don't just see the effects of cancer, you see her.  (While this is specific to women battling cancer, I assume men would like to be told they are looking good, too...but maybe not "beautiful.") :)

 "You're strong"

Cancer and its treatment takes it's toll on a person's body and emotions.  When your body is weary, your emotions can run wild.  Simple tasks become overwhelming and everyday moments become a constant reminder of your weakness and fragility.  Even if she seems strong, there's a good chance she doesn't feel strong. Tell her she is, because she probably needs the reminder right about now.

 "You can do this." (Better yet, "We can do this.")

Cancer is an overwhelming adversary. At times it seems unbeatable, even in the most treatable cases, and it creates a constant "what if" scenario in the back of one's mind.  Your friend or family member needs to know she can do this and that she doesn't have to do it alone.  Even if the odds are stacked against her. Even if the prognosis isn't good. Tell her she can do it.  With God's help. With your help. She can do this.

 I'm praying for you.

This is easily my favorite thing to hear from people. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that prayer moves the hand of God, so the more people praying for me, the better. I've had people I don't know stop me to say they're praying for me. I get emails from friends around the country telling me their churches are praying for me. I've even had teachers at my children's school stop to ask me how I'm doing and say they are praying for me. Bring it on. I will take all the prayers I can get!

 What do you need?

Early in my journey, many people offered help, but I didn't have much need yet. Those same people were still there when my needs did arise. Some drove my kids to and from school and took me to doctor's appointments. Others brought meals and offered to get groceries or run errands.  Some simply checked in from time to time asking if I needed anything. Each offer was an answered prayer, meeting whatever we needed at that time. If you don't know what to say to someone, offer to do something for them.

  

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at www.ThereIsGrace.com. Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children.

 

 

 

HAVING FAITH THAT THE SCARY THING IS THE RIGHT THING

By: Monica Steely
Posted: November 3, 2014

The arena was jam-packed with women wearing their Sunday and Monday and Thursday and Saturday best. Their accessories matched their pocketbooks which matched their shoes which matched their Bible covers.

An arena full of sopranos and altos and even a smattering of tenors harmonized during worship and their heads nodded during the lesson and their wallets poured out money during the love offering. Hands were raised in recommitment to Jesus and tissues were dabbed across blurry eyes and when it was time to break it was as if there was one giant exhale in unison.

We strolled through the lobby deciding what to eat for lunch, my friend and I. We dodged women in their Tuesday and Friday best with their accessories that matched their shoes. Some were impatient with the lines at the food stands, some were frustrated with getting their pocketbooks (which matched their accessories) bumped.

Some couldn’t believe there wasn’t enough lunch-time seating for all seven hundred million women jammed into the arena.

My friend and I grabbed lunch and searched for a place to sit among the bright patterns and matching Bible covers. As soon as we took our first bite, we saw him. He couldn’t have been more than 21 and he was dirty and his eyes were glazed and his shoes had holes and he appeared homeless. He walked the aimlessly amid the maze of nodded heads and tear-stained tissues trying to talk to the women, but was largely ignored or smiled at politely as they turned back to their conversation.

My friend and I looked at each other and I knew what she was thinking and she knew what I was thinking but we were both petrified of each other’s thoughts, afraid to say it out loud. I don’t remember who broke first, but the words rang loudly in our ears,

 “Should we pray for him?”

Being new in our faith, it was impossible to believe that maybe we should actually do it since everyone else was pretending he wasn’t there and seemed largely unimpressed with his presence.

And we expected they would know what to do and be more knowledgeable about matters such as homeless boys crashing a Christian women’s conference.

We stood watching behind a column and played silly games with each other such as, “okay if he goes left then we’ll pray for him but if he goes right we won’t” and then we’d see him go straight or backwards or northeast or even southwest. After several minutes I don’t remember who broke first but the words rang loudly in our ears,

“Who wouldn’t want us to pray for him?”

We looked at each other and immediately knew the answer and then we both said it at the same time. “The devil.” One of us might have even then uttered a “darnit” under our breath, I don’t remember. We were both so very outside our comfort zone and scared to pieces about praying out loud (in general) and for a stranger.

But we sucked in deep breaths that left us dizzy and walked away from our food and went to find him.

We sat with him in the midst of the harmonizing altos and sopranos and found out his name and that he was indeed homeless and was not that much younger than we were. We told him about a ministry nearby that loved on the homeless and told him to be sure to visit there. And before we lost our nerve and let the devil win we spoke the words that had been ringing loudly in our ears,

“Can we pray for you?”

He said yes and she prayed and I prayed and when we were done he was so thankful. And she and I walked away with hearts that grew three times their size in a matter of moments…with a God Joy and Jesus Love that oozed out of every tear that fell and breath we exhaled. 

And when we turned around he was gone and we never saw him again.

I don’t know if the boy’s life was changed because we prayed for him or not, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that our lives were forever changed from that point forward, because we learned that day what it meant to Love God so much, that we couldn’t help but love ourselves enough to do the scary things, and thereby love others and pray for a precious brother.

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Monica

Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Listen to BE’s podcasts on iTunes or Buzzsprout.

 

Photo © thinkstockphotos.com/Justin+skinner

Praying for Sarah

By: Nancy Backues
Posted: October 30, 2014

We overslept…every one of us. Consequently there was much rushing around, random barking of orders, whining of children (because no one likes to be barked at), and a mad dash out the door, backpacks and lunch bags dragging haphazardly behind.

On the way out the door I happened to glance down at my bare toes…my disgusting, chipped-polished, neglected, bare toes. I sighed in complete frustration. “How do those moms do it…the ones with hair and make-up in place, manis and pedis freshly done, children fashionably dressed and coiffed, and arriving everywhere in time?” (As if those moms exist outside my imagination, right? Someone, please tell me I’m right.) I threw some nail polish in my all-purpose purse and headed out the door.

An hour-and-a-half later, both kids had made it to the right school with the proper backpacks and lunches. Milk had been purchased and dropped off in the fridge at home. And I had managed to apply a fresh coat of toenail polish in the parking lot of my first appointment (after I parked). Whew! I had made it!

I glanced around the waiting room for a seat and pulled out my phone, thankful for a few minutes of calm to check my e-mail and Facebook before my name was called.

“You can sit here,” a sweet voice caught me off guard. There were plenty of available seats, so the offer took me by surprise. I smiled, thanked her, and, trying to follow social protocol, took the next seat over.

“Are you here for treatment?” came the sweet voice again. That was the first moment I had truly thought about where I was. Of course I knew where I was…my oncologist’s office. The appointment had been on my calendar for months.

I smiled at her. “I had treatment a year and a half ago. I’m here for a follow up.”

“Good for you!” she gushed. I looked up at a tired, ashen, 80-something face, and that’s when I first noticed it…the smile. That weak and weary, yet determined, I’m-going-to-get-through-this-and-be-a-survivor smile. If you’ve had cancer, or known someone who has, you (hopefully) know that smile.

praying-for-saraMy beautiful, new friend, Sarah, told me about the mass in her side. Doctors had removed part of her kidney and her adrenal glands. Her husband had lung cancer. He was on oxygen now, “but he’s doing good.” Her cancer had returned and she was undergoing radiation treatments. If her radiation doesn’t work this time, “it’s just up to God” she said. “He’s big enough. He can do anything.”

Sarah and her husband had to sell their home and move into something smaller and more manageable. She was never able to have children, but her step-daughter drove her an hour one-way for treatments. They were “holding onto God because He always comes through.”

This woman had a laundry list a mile long of things she could be griping about (the least of which was toenail polish!), and yet she chose to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and bring a little encouragement.

Only a year and a half ago, I had been just like Sarah…waiting for another round of radiation in my sweatpants and T-shirt. I was tired. I was weak. I was working hard to get through my days.

When I completed my treatments, a fellow-survivor told me “This gives you a whole new perspective. You’ll never sweat the small stuff again.” It’s true…cancer changes you like nothing else will. But my friend had no way of knowing how deep my Type-A Personality runs. Not even two years out, and I’m already “sweatin’ the small stuff.”

The all-too-familiar voice came over the loud-speaker, “Sarah Brown to the treatment room.” Sarah leaned over and gave me a hug. “Congratulations,” she said, “and take care.”

As Sarah shuttled off to the back for treatment, I realized she had taught me two invaluable lessons:

1. Focus on the positive. An old song puts it this way: “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” Philippians 4:8 says to “think on these things: whatever is…lovely, admirable…excellent, praiseworthy…” Sarah could have easily grumbled about her own health, her husband’s health, or any other trial she had faced in her long life. Instead, she celebrated with me in a victory that had faded for me among the busyness of daily schedules and routines.

2. Take the time to show a little kindness and give a little encouragement. If Sarah hadn’t gone out of her way to offer a seat and strike up a conversation, I would have been content to keep my nose glued to my phone. I would have missed the opportunity to meet a warrior named Sarah who turned my whole day around.

What if we each took time today to focus on, and thank God for, our many blessings? What if we found someone to be a Sarah to? And what if it's just what they need today?

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at There is Grace. Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children. Follow Nancy on FacebookTwitter, or Pintrest.

 

Everybody's Love Smells Different

By: Kristianne Stewart
Posted: October 27, 2014

Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.         2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Grace’s ringlet curls wrapped around her spangly bracelets as she leaned across our bubble gum tea party. She wiggled her index finger in the space between our faces. “C’mere, mommy…real close and breathe big with me” and we did as if together, we could breathe in tiny moments like solid molecules. “Mmmm…I love you. You stink really good today, mommy.” Of course, I completely understood that it was the scent of my perfume but what Grace really smelled was my love.

Everybody’s love smells different.

My Italian grandma was never a gushing geyser of sentiments but I do remember the endless flow of Little Debbies that grew within the pockets of her flowered, polyester housecoat and sent me on cream filling waves across her kitchen linoleum, to the gold shag carpeted guest room. I never knew what treasures waited behind the real imitation wood closet doors with their shiny brass knobs. There were always stacks of toys, games, and primary colored striped clothes that if they were too big for me, I could pass to my older sister and too small, given to a younger cousin.

My grandma’s love smelled like a mix of garlic and mothballs.

In the Old Testament around the time of the battles between the "ites" and the ambivalent Israelites, animal sacrifices were pleasing aromas to God. I’ve read the New Testament starting with the red letters enough to know what Jesus saw, heard, tasted, touched but what did Jesus smell

But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.                                                                                                                                                                                           2 Corinthians 2:16                                  

 Lazarus was dead for four days

A woman with an issue of blood for 12 years

Legion and his tomb dwelling demons

And how about that mid-dinner pedi Jesus did for all of his disciples?

Let’s face it, what Jesus had to smell would leave us gagging. Nowhere do we read about Jesus priming his hand sanitizer bottle or getting into a Febreze spraying frenzy after each encounter.

Not a mention of what He smelled, because maybe what Jesus smelled was love.

Live a life filled with love following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.       Ephesians 5:2

Retracing the steps across and around the decades of my life, I see first my 20’s “if God loved me."  30’s “when He loves me." Now in my 40’s and no longer an “unsecure person," but firmly rooted in faith and realizing that grace isn’t acquired like a scouting merit badge, it’s because He is love. God loves me because God is love and to Jesus, I hopefully stink really good.

Agape,

Kristianne

Kristianne is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels. Follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith and Instagram

After the Diagnosis

By: Dianna Salciccioli
Posted: October 23, 2014

Steve felt a different something in his shoulder, every time he swung the golf club. Hmmm….a pulled muscle, maybe some nerve damage? Making a Doctor’s appointment seemed wise. After some testing the doctor asked Steve and his wife to step into his office. The diagnosis? Lou Gehrig’s disease!  Stunning, shocking, unbelievable. 

Annie Goodman in her blog, so, i have cancer, describes her diagnosis this way. “I’m 30 years old and about to be diagnosed with breast cancer. I get dressed, cry a lot, and head into the radiologist’s office. That’s when it’s confirmed: I am 30 years old and have breast cancer. I made an appt to meet with the surgeon first thing the next morning. I am warned I will need surgery and chemotherapy. I start making the calls and sending the emails. I try to remain calm. It’s not easy." 

A diagnosis changes your life in moment! Feelings of denial, anger, fear, stress, anxiety, sadness, and grief can easily set in. Questions inevitably swirl around in your head. 

What does that future hold?  

How am I going to get throught this?

Can my family handle this and how?  

A life altering diagnosis can leave you feeling numb. You may even have trouble thinking, eating, and sleeping.  

Without a faith and trust in a God who loves you, a diagnosis will wreak havoc in your spirit and emotions. Turning to Him with your fears will bring a supernatural peace and trust that He has you in the palm of His hand. Beliveing and knowing God is in this journey with you is vital for your peace of mind. Scripture tells us, “He will never leave you or forsake you.”  Never. Steve is my friend and as I read his blog he passionately shares how “close” God has been to him, how peaceful he has been amidst the challenge. This is a supernatural work God will do in all of us when a life altering diagnosis has been rendered.

 As a lifecoach, I want to share some very practical steps to equip you to navigate through the diagnosis. 

--Actively communicate with family and friends. Agree on a mode of communication to share updates on your treatment and needs. Create an important team of support and then help them understand what “walking with you” needs to look like.  We all have unique ways of dealing with challenges of this nature.  Help those who love you have the steps to be successful in supporting you.

--Try to keep life “as normal as possible”.  Even though there will be fresh challenges on the road ahead, try to keep your healthy life rhythms flowing as best you can.  Good food, exercise, time spent with the Lord, solid rest, and life-giving relationships will have a profound impact on this season of your life.

--Do your best to stay organized.  Keep all key numbers, appointments, and information in a safe place. Sometimes we can become overwhelmed and become scattered. This will create undue stress which you simply do need in this season.

Remember~ you are not defined by your diagnosis. You are still the wonderful person you have always been but your story has a new and unknown chapter. Take time to connect with others who have “walked a mile in your shoes.”  Laugh with them, cry with them, and link arms as you walk out this new season in your life.

And let this echo in your spirit like a resounding battle cry--

 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of it, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

--Dianna

Dianna Salciccioli co-founded and leads alongside her husband Greg, at Coachwell, Inc.- Coaching & Consulting Company. Dianna's been a pastor’s wife, pregnancy resource director, teacher’s aide, youth pastor’s assistant, and coach in her life but her highest calling is being a quality wife to her precious husband, as well as a hands on mom to her incredible sons!  Over the past five years she's been blessed to add to her “roles” that of mother- in- law to two of the greatest young women she knows! This year, Dianna's role grew to grandma and her heart swells at the thought! Follow Dianna on her blog.