FOR EVEN...

My daughter and I were driving, our daily commute to school, and the song Not Afraid by Mosaic began to play. I’ve loved this song, even downloaded it, and have sung along to it many times. However, this morning a few of the lyrics struck me, as if they were just added in the song - obviously not, but thats how new the words felt to me.

The lyrics go:

For even my weakness is strong.

Let those words simmer and digest a bit.

Read them again.

Drop mic moment, right?

How awesome is God that even in our weakness, we are strong

Many of us have heard to have child-like faith and how true that is indeed. When I heard the words “for even my weakness is strong” it reminded me so much of hearing my mother sharing, all throughout my child and youth years, how powerful the name of Jesus is. Since becoming a mom, theres been many moments I have found myself sharing my mothers exact words, “just whisper the name Jesus and fear will flee.”

In life, no matter the age (child to adult), we face moments of struggle, trials and tribulation. During those moments we have two options.

  1. We can let it take us down. Claiming victory over us.

  2. We can conquer it. Claiming victory of it!

However, the neat thing with God is that when we call out to Him, it doesn’t matter what our strength level is at. We can be very timid, quivering at the knees, fearful beyond belief. We can be the total opposite, we can insert ourselves at the frontline. Yelling at our tribulation to come at us with all they got (think Braveheart movie)!

With God, it doesn’t matter because even in our weakness, we are S-T-R-O-N-G. Isn’t that powerful?

As you can tell, this song totally moved and touched me. So, after dropping my daughter off at school, I pressed replay for the drive back home - well, a quick stop at the market and then home. And just let the lyrics deeply marinate in my heart. I hope and pray this song —and the words I pointed out— marinate in your heart as it did with me. Let it speak to you, encourage and motivate you.

• • • •

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

The First Grader + A One Dollar State Of Mind

Earlier this week, I volunteered at my daughters school book-fair. The short time helping out was very typical and similar to the many other volunteer opportunities - lots of chatting, meeting parents and students, helping the little ones out with selecting books, answering questions, etc... the norm.

However, there were two very unique conversations I had, which happened at two different times and with two different students. The first conversation was quite meaningless and just made me smile. When I had the second conversation with another student, my mind zoomed in on PERSPECTIVE, as I compared both conversations with the two students.

You see, there was this little girl who came up to me, she was very excited and had her money tight in her hand. The first grader, without hesitation and ready to make a purchase, asked, "I have one dollar! What can I get?!" As she pointed to a section of cute little toys and knickknacks, I smiled back and showed her the awesome things she can buy. The girl was happy from the moment she entered the book-fair, all the way up to paying for her scented eraser - which she was SO happy to get - and her bookmark. I would label her as, one very happy customer!

Then, there was the moment when a ten year old came up to me.  Initially, the boy was glancing at books, posters and a few other things in the fair.  He asked me, "what can I get with just ten dollars?" "You can get so much with ten dollars, that is an awesome amount of money you have," I replied, with a smile. His straight faced expression read something that said, "are you serious?" "We have an awesome 'buy 1, get 1 FREE' promotion and you can get anything," I shared, with the unimpressed ten year old.  The ten year old asked, "can the free item be anything or ?" I showed him books that he was interested in and replied, "It can be anything and it needs to be less in price, than the item you are purchasing." Eventually, the boy made a purchase of a book and chose to get a poster, as the free item.

Like many moms, I try to spin things into a teaching and sharing moment with Cassy (as she rolled her eyes, thinking "here she goes again"...haha!), so I told her of the conversation with both students, then began to talk about perspective and state-of-mind.

You see, we all have choices in life.

We can be like the first grader - excited and feeling that one whole dollar, is as much as having one hundred dollars.

OR

We can be like the ten year old - asking ourselves (or others), "what can I get with JUST ten dollars?"

In reality, we all know, ten dollar is far more than one dollar. The first grader was not concerned with who had more than her, all she knew was that she had one dollar to spend and that one dollar was more than enough for her. She knew, she could still walk out the fair, with something in her hand, that she had bought. The boy was concerned with only having ten dollars, feeling he was limited and unsure if he was going to walk out the fair with something.

What it comes down to is, perspective and state of mind.

I feel when we have the mindset of that first grader, the world and life seems limitless. Our dreams, visions, goals and aspirations seem that much more attainable.  When we have the limited mindset, as the ten year old did, we immediately short change our selves (no pun intended). This mindset can easily build walls that divide us from our goals and dreams. It can also often create a narrow point of view, not letting us see the immense amount of possibilities all around us. The confusion, drama, negativity and whatever is going in our circumstances and in life, can expand into further negativity with that type of mindset.

Let us be first graders.

Let us have that state of mind.

Private Club

I didn't know how I would feel entering this specific month.  It is the month of many things.  In our family, it is the month we celebrate my dad's birthday. This year this month represents an exact year of my mom being diagnosed with breast cancer and being cancer FREE. These two amazing milestones calls for our family to celebrate, because our parents are healthy and we have another year of being blessed with them in our lives.

The debby-downer of this month though, that day was yesterday.  October 15th is marked for Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  To husband and I, October 15 of last year was the exact day we had a miscarriage.  It has been one year.  One year that my heart felt broken.  That we were surprised with a blessing, but a temporary one.  This still and quiet brokenness then makes a quick left turn to anger at what I personally and spiritually feel was the cause and root.  To not let this anger control or consume me, I quickly whisper asking God to remove that anger, soften my heart and give me peace.  It is all I can do.  The morning started off at the gym, it is the perfect remedy to let out all the feelings and boy did I let them out at in my cycle class.  

While I wanted to just have quiet time, read, write, sip tea, etc... The day was anything but that. Then throw in The Dodgers huge playoff game last night, I guess the day was a helpful distraction to my heart and mind.  My husband and I didn't say much about the topic, and I was thankful for the stress and feelings of disappointment he had over the game because I'd rather he have those feelings than of the brokenness from last year.

Overall I would say we are very positive and optimistic.  The sadness that pops up throughout the year.  The brokenness and hurt we feel knowing we would have had a child to carry and stroll, our home filled a little extra, accidentally stepping on musical baby toys in the middle of the night when the baby is finally sound asleep, the dogs having an extra loved one to protect, and being able to make the coming holidays more special...aside from the many experiences we could be sharing, we have hope through and through. And I'm thankful for humor and laughter, because we've had many moments of pure laughter, smiles and happiness - little sprinkles to mend the wound and heal.

While we have faith it makes me sad to read and hear from other women (moms) in this special club who lost faith.  Some hate God.  Some are going through a very tough time, tougher than what my husband and I experienced in mourning and grieving.  And then there are women, like me, who question ourselves if it is okay to morn or if we are done mourning and are we really better, if not will it ever get better?  My heart hurts specifically for those who lash out in anger because I felt that, too.  My anger was not at God but at certain people.

Today, I write to the moms who have baby angels looking over you and who are waiting to meet you one day.  Let us build each other up.  Let us support one another.  Let us not grow bitter nor angry.  Let us soak in each and every feeling because there will be new members of this special and intimate club as each day goes by.  Let us embrace them and give them that giant bear hug, the one we all wanted to collapse into during our moment of brokenness.  Let us teach them to ignore the comments of, "miscarriages happen all the time" "some don't even know they were pregnant and had a miscarriage" and the comments can go on because they do not understand and will never understand.  Let us also feel that it is OK to grieve and to own each feeling that goes through our heart.  We are not sensitive.  We are not over-emotional.  We are moms who simply miss their child, we lost a part of our future before it even began and we have a piece of our heart in heaven.  We may hold a secret remembrance on the day of each year of the childs birth (or estimated birth date).  We might even light a candle the evening of October 15th to be one with moms all across the world.  We might do many other things.  And it is all OKAY.  

To the moms who lost faith.  I simply pray you regain that faith and that anger towards God diminishes. God is a God of good.  He is a loving God.  A God who sees every tear and every pain we endure.  He knows how many hairs on our head.  Now for one to know how many hairs I have on my head, must be from someone who thinks I'm so important to him that He knows every single detail about me.  God uses pain, hurt, brokenness and turns it around for the good. This pain and heartache has turned into a beautiful blessing for my husband and I, we are able to share, cope, cry, grieve, mourn and sympathize with so many.  Being able to share the hope and to love on others through their time in sorrow is more than I could have imagined from God.  It is a complete blessing.  October 15th of 2014, when we faced our sorrow, one of my dearest friends was there to help pick me-up and told me it is okay to feel every emotion.  I thank her.  For what she herself experienced, she in turn helped me cope. Nothing ever goes in vain, even the most saddest and hurtful ones.

There is and will always be hope.

To all the moms in the world, I love you and I am completely blessed to be in this special club with you.

F I G H T E R

It was Saturday, October 18, 2014, the day of my dad's BIG 60th birthday party, and my husband and I had an unexpected week that went from joyful to sorrow.  On Wednesday, October 15th we experienced a miscarriage and unbeknownst to us, that day is the National Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day.  Ironic? Yes, it was but it instantly made be feel not alone and a sense of community of support and encouragement, not to mention having the support of one of my dearest friends who also suffered a miscarriage and was able to help me through with her experience.

Fast forward to my dads birthday, my husband and I felt the desire to stay home as difficult of a decision that was.  We told my parents the news and yet again, unbeknownst to my husband and I, that same day my mother received her diagnoses of breast cancer.

After I try to come to senses over my moms health, I felt God was shedding some light as to why we had a miscarriage.  What daughter could be calm, stress-free and remain positive when their mother's health has taken a huge turn? Immediately, I become somewhat thankful.  Thankful that God will only give me what I can handle and surely that must have been a circumstance that my health and the baby could not.  My energy and focus shifted towards helping my mom. Non-stop researching on-line, making holistic cancer-fighting smoothies for her, educating myself and so forth.  The process went rather quickly.  The following month she had her invasive surgery and glory to God she has been declared CANCER FREE!

Earlier in the year I finally followed up with my doctor, it was seen in my blood-work from the miscarriage that my platelets were off and there was concern.  I was then scheduled for more blood-work, after being asked a significant amount of health questions and having the appointment end with, "I'm also scheduling you to see an oncologist but do not be scared, you do not have cancer." My eyes enlarged and every part of my body could have just collapsed to the ground. Who ends a sentence with, "do not be scared, you do not have cancer"??? Then throw in the fact of what my family is going through with my mom.  If you know me well, you most certainly know my mind raced and I could not get to Google any quicker -- yes, Google is very very bad in times as this.  I quickly went to the computer then slowly made my way to bed with more fears and staying up all night praying...I had a lack of sleep every night from that point.

I'm now in the oncologists office waiting and the first glimpse of the doctor walking-in my emotions internally freak-out.  She introduces herself, I reply with, "hello, I believe your my mothers doctor."  See during one of my moms doctor visits my dad took a photo of my mom and the oncologist holding up a paper that read "cancer-free," my dad then texted me that photo. If it hadn't been for that, I would not have known.  I asked God what is His purpose in this and to more than anything, give me the strength.  The oncologist replies, "oh yes! She is my patient! Please tell her hello." I tell her that my mom doesn't know and the oncologist quickly completes my sentence, "you do not want her to stress." Yes, exactly.

After numerous questions that led my thoughts run wild and growing impatient with wanting direct answers right then and there, I leave the office only to go for more blood-work and with a stack of papers to read about this chronic disorder I am diagnosed with. My blood platelets are low.  We all need platelets.  Then I think back to the miscarriage and relate it to c-sections because I had one with my daughter and will need to have a c-section if we have children. C-sections are surgeries and blood platelets are hugely involved.  After me and my bad habit of a friend (AKA Google), I become thankful yet again as God sheds light over the miscarriage.  I asked both of my doctors how can I increase my platelets, about pregnancy and many other questions I had.  The one answer that stuck out the most was when my doctor said, there isn't a way to increase them. I was so confused and thought, so this is it? My shoulders shrugged and thats kind of how they stayed for sometime.

I was mentally, emotionally and physically drained -- then throw in life, work, staying positive so my daughter has somewhat of a sane mother.  I am not a quitter and I was not made to just let things be. I wanted to fight this through and was not going to be a factor of where this disorder could take me. More than anything else, I believe in miracles and had faith.

After doing lots of research, taking action and PRAYING... I go to the doctors office in May for a follow-up and blood-work.  I asked God that even if my platelets went up by ONE number, it would be tremendous encouragement for me.  My results showed that not only did it go up one number but it went up a total of FIVE! I was so encouraged to continue pressing on. Last week I went in again for blood-work and prayed that God would speak loud and clear with my results.  He not only spoke, He yelled!  My platelets went up FORTY points!!!  Happy and astonished are understated words to how I felt hearing my results, my tears were so in shock that they froze and did not come bursting out of my eyes!  Not only did my platelets increase by forty but my results rank me in the last lowest number in the bracket of what is considered healthy and normal.  My goal is to continue to climb that number up till I am 100% in the TOP healthy and normal bracket, surpassing where I am right now.

There is so much more to this story and so much more that has yet to unfold - like of my mothers surgery that is coming up, but God has proven even in these challenging and unexpected times that greater is He.

I have always been known as being positive and optimistic but this season was very trying.  Leaning on God for me to keep the positive, the faith, the good and His purpose was my only hope.  When I felt I was losing it and faith, I leaned harder on Him that he would help me find hope, faith, the good and energy to press-on.  

...

Psalm 23:4

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

...

LESSON: "Life" will always throw us unexpected curveballs but it is what you do with it.  When it comes down to it, we have two options:

ONE - Give in and give up on life.  Roll-in all the negative thoughts and let it consume you. Let life dwindle away and sink into that little black hole.

TWO - Fight, even if you're on your knees swinging. Have faith and stay positive, especially during the times those little whispers enter your ear to give up and how it is so impossible.  Press and lean wholeheartedly on Him and I promise you will make it through.  You will see the shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, and that light will have you sprinting and throwing huge punches at life till the final bell rings, leaving you jumping with your arms in the air - declaring victory and you the champion!

YOU RECOGNIZE A SURVIVOR WHEN YOU SEE ONE. YOU RECOGNIZE A FIGHTER WHEN YOU SEE ONE.

Let us all not only be a survivor but a FIGHTER.