Sunday, September 1, 2013

Two Weeks Notice




Is it just me or does anyone else think this looks fun?  As many of you know I am hosting The Wanted Campference on October 17-20 out at the H. E. Butt Foundation Camp.  If you know anything about HEB and the Butt family they do everything with excellence, so this is a big deal and I want it to go well.   I have had this on my heart for many years.  It has changed names, changed focus and changed locations.  I can not think of a better place than out at camp to draw nearer to God.  Whenever I am there I certainly do, so I am wanting others to experience the same.
So if you have been to camp as a kid, like to go to retreats where everything is all inclusive and you get to connect with other women then this is the compference for you.  You may just need the time away, but whatever reason I hope you will consider coming.  I also don't want to beg, but we are so close.  I will say that because of planning, I will have to put a deadline for signing up, September 15th, and if we don't have enough people I will be forced to cancel it.  You must sign up before this date, please!

So here is the enticing agenda and menu for the days spent at The Wanted Campference.
1. Set in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas, in Leakey, TX, at the H. E. Butt Foundation Camp, Echo Valley campsite.  http://laityrenewal.org for pictures of the camp.
2. Incredible women of God who have agreed to speak, teach and minister all weekend.
    Debbie Williams - Hill Country Ministries, author and speaker
    Deb DeArmond - My Purpose Now Ministries, author and speaker
    Barbara Collins - Madre Minutes, author and speaker, photographer/artist
    Kathleen Maxwell-Rambie- author and speaker
    Maci Berkely- Mexico Medical Missions, missionary
    Chandler Collins- Missionary Uganda
    Reba Weidner- Culinary chef and mood food expert
    Joan Tankersley- Creative Director, Media Producitons at Vividmix
 
3. Worship-
      Still to be determined, but hopefully my sweet friend Anne Thompson from Houston will be               joining us to lead us in worship each night at Round Up.
      Special concert- Sat night and Sunday Service
      Three time Grammy Award Winner and two time Dove Award winner
     Ashley Cleveland- Some of you may remember her from Songs from the Loft with Amy Grant.
4. Activities-
    Sara Evans from True Fit will come Friday and share with us ways to work on our core strength
    Kathy Andrews from Kerrville Boot Camp will put is to the test on Sat.
    Amy Blanks will lead us in needle felting or other art projects
    Genie Thompson will have a painting party on canvas
    Holly Williams will lead us on hikes and tours of the canyon
    Other activities will include hiking, relaxing, fishing (bring your pole), long boarding, canoeing, washers, horseshoes, tennis (bring your racket and balls), dancing and bird watching.

5. Delicious food- not your typical conference food
    Prepared by Amy Blahah and Deb Pascarella
   Food Network's  Grill Master Champion Buzzie's BBQ will provide meat for our Sat night girls night out dinner.

All the above for $200.  All you have to do is get there!

I want this for you.  I ask that you look at the website, register, invite friends and come join us for what is to be a memorable weekend.  We also have a place on registration page to donate for another attendee if you are unable but want to give.  Even if you can't go will you please pass this along for others who might want to come.

  
 
   




Saturday, June 29, 2013

Red Light Green Light



After two years I got green light to go in the river!

I have a lot to share.
I had a wedding in March, a college graduate in May, the Texas High School State track meet, had minor surgery, finished Herceptin treatments, remodeled garage apartment,  drove a tailer to New Orleans to move a daughter, flew to North Carolina and drove back to Texas with my daughter, a baby and her dog.  Needless to say I have been really busy and have had hardly time to come up for air.  It's all good and it's all done.
A good week.  My two year diagnosis anniversary is coming up on July 7th.   I have had to deal with many red lights and green lights along the way.  One of the biggest red lights for my treatments has been the issue with my heart.  The chemo damaged the muscle so my ejection fraction % went down meaning it was not able to pump all the blood out of my heart fully which can lead to other problems.  They were confidant that they could keep me at a certain level then see how the heart responds after I am off the Herceptin.  I have been off now a little over a month and it very well may have been the culprit.  I participated in a study so they could test and evaluate my blood so other people might not go through the heart issue with Herceptin.  I am happy to report my numbers have already gone up, which is a good thing for my ejection fraction. Green light.   I went and saw my heart doctor last week at MDA and they told me my heart muscle had fully recovered and was fully restored.  FULLY RESTORED AND RECOVERED.  I was very happy.  I cried.  I cried mostly because I wanted to tell my doctors, especially my doctor at MD Anderson.  But that may never happen.  Red light.


Dr. Ana-Maria Gonzalez-Angulo

 William and I never watch the national news.......ever.  I was sort of dozing on the couch, he was getting ready for a run and the news came on after the golf tournament we were watching.  All of a sudden I saw my doctors name from MD Anderson flash up on the screen with her picture.   I said to William, "wait wait, its about Dr. Gonzales".  We stood and sat there eyes fixed and ears tuned to what they were saying about her.  Look it up for yourself.  Apparently she was accused and arrested for poisoning her doctor boyfriend.  She is now on paid administrative leave.  The story ended and we looked at each other and said, "WHAT?"  We were shocked and just stunned at what was being said.  I had an appointment with my heart doc that very next week.  When I was told of my good news about my heart they asked then if I would be checking in with the breast clinic and my doctor and then realized who my doctor was.......it hit me then that I may never see her again.  I may never get to share with her my good news about my heart.  This now and then made me begin to cry.  This woman saved my life with the protocol she prescribed, she is in the business of saving lives, many of her family members have had breast cancer so that is what motivated her, she herself had the gene so had a double mastectomy, she is the foremost authority in her field, the "Boss" as everyone called her, and appeared on many Susan G. Komen films.  She claims her innocence and I have to say I am standing by her til proving otherwise.  Green light.

A picture of me and Dr G at one of my appointments at MD Anderson we are laughing.


I also wanted to share with you how incredible it has been having my grand baby here and my daughters.  It makes for more work, longer hours and fatigue, but worth every bit of it.  As I sit here and type this I listen to the monitor as she sleeps in the next room and mama has a little bit of me time.  We have blown up a big pool for them and purchased a Bob baby jogger and it feels like we are parents again but in a different sort of way.  It is really great.  We have had some good times already this summer.

My sweet Mary Ann

My garden is going crazy with the heat.  The tomatoes are going wild and I am making salsa and soups with all the fresh veggies.  I have had to replant already due to a fly larva that has attacked.  I may lose my cantaloupe crop.  Seems to be hitting all the vine plants except the tomatoes.  So good for that.
I am doing well and enjoying life that feels full and overflowing.  I am blessed indeed.

I seem to have an intruder.....lucky for me I found him.




Protection from the birds use plastic netting from lime bags


Monday, May 13, 2013

Time with Rod




When you get a letter from One2One Network and Capitol Records, ladies you sit up and take notice!  I was given the opportunity to spend time with Rod Stewarts new release, Time.   It is classic Rod.  Soft  gruffness that gets you swinging your hips and bopping your toe.  A vintage sound for his older listeners, and yet has a folksy bluesy John Mayerish descriptiveness to his lyrics.  He brings real life (RL) into action in his own RL singing about emails and Starbucks.  So, now we know Rod emails and goes to Starbucks.......good to know.  He still has his bad boy somewhat seductive lyrics that secure his "can we really sing about that" reigning championship.  I think he is reflective about his life, his loves, and God.  The fact he is walking on the beach away from the camera perhaps showing off his best feature......his backside.  I will admit, it has made him a great deal of money, fame and notoriety.  He is up there with Mick Jaggar, Tom Jones and Elvis.


Its relaxed album sharing bits and tracks from a slice of time in his life.  It has the Rod beat that is classic Rod Stewart followed by the voice that is so distinctive and truly his.  You can tell "living the life you love and loving the life you live" is a common lyric thread throughout Time.  I love all the basic instrumentals, harmonica and tambourine filled empty spaces keeping time and Time on the "now beat".





Even though his face is not really there......you know its Rod!


The day after I received it he was on The Voice.  They can't stop him now.  Rejected from record companies in his early years, he had a point to prove and said the tide is turning as he sings "I'm gonna make you proud".   You wonder who it is he is making proud again with Time.  He thanks them with lots of sweet words of affirmations.

Needless to say I was not a big Rod Stewart fan growing up.  His big hits I liked alright, but this new album, Time has won me over.



 I participated in this campaign for One2One Network. I received a free copy of the CD to facilitate my review. By posting, I am eligible for incentives. All opinions stated are my own.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Heart for Moms

My son in law Kyle, walking me down the isle as mother of the bride two years ago.  Two days before I started chemo.

There is a storm across the canyon.  The wind is picking up, lightening strikes and lights the sky silhouette.  Bring on the rain.  As storm approaches my thoughts are with my children.  Each one has had to face many challenges and have succeeded in overcoming a great deal for such young women.  I consider my sons in law family as well.  My thoughts tonight are with you Capt. Ellis.  You are a brave man.  My prayer for you is that you be ahead of the storms with guarded fierceness none has ever known.  Semper Fi Kyle.  Its what you told me two years ago and here I am and there you go.  I pray a hedge of protection around you at all times and gladness in your heart for all you put your hands towards.  For your service to us this Nation, under God.  I pray liberty for the people wherever your feet trod.  Safety and trust be with you.  We love you so much and thank you for your service as Captain.  Well done!  We'll meet you back here down by the fishin hole and go get us some hogs.  With a little Rudi's BBQ on the side and a piece of my pecan pie......its a date.  I love you, Madre†

Life seems to have me all over the globe.  If I am not here doing the track deal for my high schooler or the chemo deal or breast reconstruction, I am off to graduations, University track meets, helping people move, weddings, helping others drive with babies to move home for a stay while her hubby is off fighting a war.  That was my tribute letter to him before he left for Afghanistan. Even though its a new month and spring is in the air and time is of the essence for cleaning and planting,  I feel as if I am all over the place.  You would think accomplishing all that would be hard, but I love it at the same time.  A new month, a new calendar view, a pressing onward and a time for looking back.  Plans for summer, making ready the arrival of daughter and grand daughter, to the planting of garden delights or making our garage apartment a home away from home. Never a dull moment.   

Busy decluttering, a never ending task it seems, clawing away the piles of just stuff.  Yesterday I actually sold some of it and it felt really good and freeing to send it on.  I have been decluttering for two years inside and out.  Two YEARS?  Goodness gracious that is a lot of stuff.  I have two boxes that are nothing but stuff I cleaned off my desk two Christmas' in a row.  I just wiped the slate clean and put it in a box to deal with later.  I certainly don't want my children to have to deal with it. So I press on.  I think I can really live the life I am intended to live when the "stuff" as George Carlin calls it, gets dealt with, disposed of and/or placed where it needs to be placed.  When I sold some of my bead business stuff yesterday I as embarrassed the people had to see how much stuff we have accumulated through two parents dying and holding stuff for children who are still not settled into permanent homes.  They didn't seem to mind.  In fact they started asking about some of the other "stuff".   Score!  Can't wait to have a garage sale.

This purging of "stuff" makes me think of the mothers in Haiti who have nothing sometimes, who can't give or get for their children and how living with and amongst the junk or stuff is an every day thing for them.  They collect metal drums, car hoods and other scraps so they can create more stuff.  More beautiful stuff.   Stuff that I don't necessarily need, but love having around because of the women it reminds me to pray for, to pay attention to, to understand and to look at.   The difference also, is their stuff creates hope and a way to help their situation whereas mine not so much.  Its just stuff that I can't seem to part with or can't, cause its not  all mine.  Do I like it, do I want to keep it?  Yes and No.  Yes because I know it will bless and no cause I am tired of dealing with it.  Its a constant shifting around, from one child to the next or one wedding or event to the next. And at the same time I gladly hang on to it for its value, its meaning and its legacy.  At some point I know I will want to torch it, but for now I am willing to porch it until further notice.  Stuff is beginning to take on a new meaning in my life.



My heart is for this world.  My heart is for all Moms who found a way to deal with the "stuff" in their lives in a productive way that generates hope.  My heart is for us as people to live for God, the One true God, His Son Jesus and His Spirit.  To see the times when God speaks to us directly, like a story, and we get to live it.  My heart is for the women in Haiti, who are working through projects to clean up the mess, the "stuff", that actually makes money for them.  I am proud of the women and the help they've received from different groups now developing and producing business relations.
Income from this gift enhances an artisan family's nutrition, educates children, and brings access to healthcare and dignity.  "Connecting cultures through business, art and understanding".  A partnership with Macy's and FairwindsTrading.

This lovely hammered frame is one of two I have received from Heart of Haiti and the Everywhere Team, to share with you, my readers.  Macys.com has a give back attitude and have established trust with Haitians in an American company to actually come through with what they promised.  This is the second of two initiatives, that I know of, that Macy's is involved with.  The other is called Path to Peace where baskets by the Rwandan women are also available at Macys.com.  I accidentally happened on an interview with Christie Crowder and Willa Shalit online talking about this Macy's event with the Rwandan women.  I got involved as an ambassador to the Heart of Haiti after I went to a speaking engagement by Rwandan women at a Macy's in a mall in New Orleans.  It was really fun. They matched women from Katrina with women in Rwanda.  They collaborated together to launch products, but more importantly they launched a working fellowship across continents and this attitude of the gift that gives back. I then went to a GNO party at Stella Jones art gallery downtown NOLA where the women got to meet and talk about the experience of collaboration live stream.  It is where I met the Blogrollers and so many others as social media was in its infancy.  I felt good as another mom that I was helping other moms somewhere in the world.  

May is also a great time for weddings.  My daughter got married in March, so i decided to put a picture of me and my sweet daughters to remind me of who I am as a mom, mother in law and who I am as a woman.  Getting closer to the end of my cancer treatments, I felt really good during the wedding.  So this will be a good reminder of how my girls give me strength to stay ahead of the storms praising God every step of the way.

For more information about Haiti and the Everywhere Team and the Bloggers4Haiti Tour go here
Leticia Barr, Nadia Jones and Kelly Tirman are headed to Haiti with Danica and Kelly of Everywhere for our third Bloggers4Haiti tour! This time the trip will focus on training of artisans in technology.  We’ll also be visiting a school. The artisans have asked that we bring as many supplies as we can carry so if you have access to any school or art supplies and can get them to us before May 23rd, please contact Kelly@beeverywhere.tv.
Thanks you!
The Everywhere Team

Visit Everywhere at: http://everywheresociety.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network


I participated in this campaign for Heart of Haiti. I received a free picture frame to facilitate my review. By posting, I am eligible for incentives. All opinions stated are my own.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Cookie & Some Bugs








Coming home from the Hye Farmers Market, where consequently I did not sell one Hattie Bag . I did give away one to a very happy 10 year old boy who put his name in my drawing to win for his mom for Mother's Day (so happy he won), and met a ton of great people with lots of great feedback.
When starting a new thing getting feedback is almost payment enough for a while.  I had one photographer tell William, "This lady should not be in Hye, TX.....she should be in NYC"  I was blessed by that comment.  William said she was not your typical photographer.  She was "artsy".  I had many more men think my idea for the hats into purses, imaginative and innovative.  Great, so please buy one for your girl......please.







In Frederiecksburg, every year, a group of Volkswagen Bug and other VW model owners get toether at LBJ park by the airport.  They swap cars, parts, show off thier prize Bugs, tell stories and award prizes.  They also take over the campground and its like a three day Bug fest.  Its very colorful, great cars to photograph and interesting characters that go along with the cars.




The new thing is to put different vintage travel things on top of the Bugs, on luggage or surf racks.  And it was all vintage to match the age of the car as if what they had it on top like they were on their way, back in the day.







So, back at the Farmers Market I bought a dozen chocolate chip cookies from Kadi Bakes and was dying to taste one.  I wanted to stop and shoot with my new camera at the Bug fest so thought that would be a perfect excuse to have a cookie and shoot some pictures.  Nobody cared and welcomed you to shoot pictures, so I parked and walked around a little.  With my cookie in one hand and my camera around my neck.  Just in case.



A self portrait holding the cookie.
One of the owners with his built in alarm system in the back.
Here an owner converses with an onlooker describing the renovation.
Another little self portrait and you can see me holding the cookie.

I took my first bite of the cookie and it was like biting into cookie dough cake.  It was really thick, crispy on the outer layer but soft almost like cake on the inside.  And the chocolate was melting under my fingers.  It was the perfect combination and accompaniment, like coffee and a scone or whatever you put with your Starbs.......I walked around the campground, chewing my liciousness, enjoying the color, sounds and people I saw, watched as the lighting became more and more perfect for capturing the romantic side that has captured the owners.  As the sun went down I felt the cool air after a long day.  It was only about 15 minutes, but it was in those 15 minutes that I saw all this......









This red van is probably my dream car.  Love it.  Was dreaming about how I could convert a lime green one, that was El Camino style, with drop down sides into a mobile kitchen.  That would just be incredible.  






Did you notice in my last shot......no more cookie.   Of course I found a few Love, God photos, but will reveal them after I have them watermarked.  I am learning that my work has value and I should protect it with a signature.  I have the smarts of this lady helping me get my act together, cleaning up my blogs, getting my stuff out there into main stream and taking the next step past the "starting line" as Jon Acuff calls it.  I am devouring his book called START.  A must for people getting going in what they love to do recognizing the steps and editing process that comes with it.  I told someone the other night that the next 10 to 15 years could be my most productive years as far as contributing to the family.  That excites me.  More people between the ages of 54 and 75 have reinvented themselves and have start up businesses than ever before in history.  I can see now more clearly the process I have been going through, I go through every day and the process I will continue to go through.





Most people tell you to stop and smell the roses ( you still need to do that).  
Well I say have a cookie and look at some Bugs.  Enjoy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blissdom 13 Recap: 7 Divine Appointments



Every year I go to a little 'ol conference called Blissdom.  What started in a small hotel bar with 30 women is now taking up Gaylord Conference Centers with 1000 women.  It is something to aspire to if you ever want to host a conference.  They've got it down pat.  It's like conference in a box, conference 101 and speed dial conference.  With sponsors and brands like Maytag, Ducktape, ConAgra Foods, California Raisins, Johnson n Johnson, National Honey Board, Famous Footware just to name a few of the feathers in their cap.  These three ladies, Alli Worthington, Paula Bruno and Barbara Jones have a unique networking system that works for them.  When you can find people who have the voice, the pull and the brains and can work together as beautifully as they do, it is an awesome wonder to watch.  I know its a ton of work, but the draw they must get from the energy of all these people coming together because of what they have created in a word, and not to be corny, bliss.  One of the sweetest moments for me was seeing Barbara Jones.  When she recognizes me she throws open her arms, comes running towards me, gives me this huge hug, tears up and says, "Look, you've got hair". Yep!  What a dear.

I have had almost a month to recover. I literally stayed home for a week and did nothing. It was that intense, that much fun, and took that much out of me.  Now, I am a bit older than some of those ladies and I am still recovering from breast cancer treatments, so I think it just wiped me out.  This years host was the Gaylord Dallas and it was spectacular.  The inside of the hotel was tremendous, the convention hall really nice and the service really great. Being close to Old Town Grapevine is a plus with unique shopping and restaurants.  Also a big draw are the speakers.  With author/speakers like Scott Stratten and Jon Acuff, Tami Heim and Jeff Goins, Danielle Elliot Smith and Lisa Leonard how could they miss.   And workshops in Life Development, Photography, Business, Social Media, Writing and anything blissfully worth talking about were at our beck and call of choices..  Then of course you have the nighttime activities flanked and studded with stars like cast members from All My Children, Suburgatory, Glee and The Voice.  So all in all its a pretty awesome bang for the buck.  On top of all that,  I always go anticipating some divine appointments.  In past years I have met people that could have only been orchestrated for me to meet by God.  You can read my recap from last year, click here,  when I went to Blissdom bald from chemo and determined not to let it slow me down.


Blissdom 2012 Bald complete with wound vac and pump
This year was no exception.  I counted seven encounters that had me blissfully thanking The Lord and in awe of how they unfolded.

The first evening I am there I run into a friend I had met the year before, Scotty Reiss, with Shebuyscars.com and she introduced me to two women who are very well connected in the One2One Network and have a company called Office Candy.  We connected on many levels, but again it was very special with Scotty.  She mentioned what she is doing now with Shebuyscars and began to encourage me to write two stories about how I bought two of my cars.  I shared with her about an idea I have for a car product (more on that later) and gave me bullet point instructions on how to get it going again.  Divine #1.


Next I meet Amy and Jen two friends that start talking to me as we stand in line to go into the kick off party.  Once we go in we all sort of go our ways, but then we found each other again and decide we are hungry.  I had already grabbed a bite so just sat and visited and listened to their stories about their lives.  I asked them if they had gone to Blissdom before and they said yes they had gone last year.  I said, "Well you may have remembered me last year, I was bald and wore a hat".  Both immediately said, "Yes we remember you".  Amy piped in and said, "You made me cry last year with what you said in Tami Heim's session".  I said, "I did. I am sorry, wow".  She said, " No it was a really great and powerful thing what you said cause our table was just sitting there not knowing what to write and you stood up and shared and it silenced the room and our table.  Once you sat down we all looked at each other, some of us crying and started writing.  As if what you said helped us know what to write".
I thanked her and was glad the Holy Spirit was able to use me.  What are the odds that they would be the people I would stand in line with and be linked up with for the rest of the conference?  2 in 1000?  I don't know cause I am not good at that.  That was Divine #2.

The next day I treat myself to breakfast room service and it was amazing.


The Handmade Market Place was all day, so I did not get to really enjoy too many of the speakers, but got to walk around to some of the vendors.  One of the vendors was Famous Footwear who was promoting "Your Victory Story".  They gave us shoes last year.  I loved those Keds tennies and would wear them to treatments, in my backyard and sometimes on walks when I felt good enough.  They were sort of special to me cause I had them on when I was going through quite a bit.  I remember the guy who interviewed us last year to tell our story.  This years person working the booth was no exception either.  I walked up to the booth and she welcomed me.  I asked what they were doing this year for swag and told her how special the shoes were for me last year and why.  I could tell it struck a chord in her.  Her mother had breast cancer when she was 16.  She shared that she was doing well and a survivor x amount of years.  I told her that my daughter is 16 and the struggles she was having with the day to day seeing me get weak and look pretty sickly.  I could see tears well up in her eyes.  I took her little hand and said how I was sorry she had to go through that with her mom, that her role as care taker and giver I was sure played an intrique role in her recovery.  I told her that so much of  the focus in on the patient sometimes the sacrifices the family makes goes unnoticed.  It was like I was reading her mail.  She just stood there shaking her head, "Yes!".  I gave her a big hug and told her I was glad we shared and that everything would be fine.  Divine #3.  Again what are the odds that vendor worker among three others would come to me?  I don't know you do the math for me.

So I spent all day in the Market and I was wiped out, but so thankful for the feedback I got about Hattie Bags.  I did not sell one thing, but did not care.  The people I met and the exposure I still am getting is tremendous.  I met one of the photographers, James, who leaned over and gave me his card and said, "You really should call my friend at Paper City in Houston, your bags are something she would flip over.  It is right up her alley."  I said, "That right there was worth coming and being here all day, thank you."  Divine #4  I say I did not sell anything, Jen, remeber her, she fell in love with one green beauty.  She was reluctant to spend the money on herself, so I made a deal with her.  I told her if she would pledge money for my daughter who is a missionary in Uganda at $10 or $20 a month, then I would give her the bag.  She said she would think about it.  I said fair enough.  She handed me a check later that evening. Divine #4-5


The next day I am excited cause I was going to get to hear some speakers that day, but I was also meeting some family for lunch.  That was really fun too.  So when I got back from lunch, I wanted to just hang out in the One2One Network's booth and get to know the Office Candy ladies better.  I got my head shot taken, I signed up to win prizes and they had some good snacks.  So I was standing in the doorway of their booth, just talking to one of the ladies and she asked where I was from and I told her and she said, "Really, I only know one person from there and I have only met her ONCE cause our husbands go hunting."  She told me who it was and yes I knew her.  Small world again or divine, that she would walk up to me and chat.  Then her room mate came up and we later talked about how she wanted to move to Nashville and what she wanted to do.  I told her that not only do I have family there that know people who could help, but I actually know some artists.  Divine #6.

Even though all those appointments were divine and deemed recognition I think the last one that kept giving well after Blissdom is #7.  And wouldn't you know it would be #7, one of God's favorite numbers.  One2One Network launched a campaign called Strong Mom's Empower to share our examples of mom empowerment through social media.  If your name was picked you received a donation gift card to a charity of choice off  DonorsChoose.  I thought why not, its not really costing me anything but a little time and effort and someone gets to benefit from that.   So I filled out the deal and sat in front of a monitor and shared.  It was a moment in time when I judged someone that definitely was a pivotal moment that changed the way I approach people, the way I look at others and the way I felt about others.  So I was chosen and won a $50 gift card to donate.  I went online and found a young teacher in Louisiana who was raising money for her class to teach them about gardening, a passion of mine, so I picked her out of hundreds of others.  In fact she was like on the third or fourth page of the list.  Who goes that far down on the list?  I know on bing and Google I don't.  But something, i.e. God, kept me digging for just the right match for me and what I would be passionate about giving to.  So boom, I entered the gift code, and off went the $50.   A few days later I received a thank you note via email from the teacher. Her name is Rebekah Ellis.  I thought for a second wow, that's interesting I have a daughter named Rebekah (unique Old Testament spelling) and my other daughter's married last name is Ellis.  You see when I donated it did not have her name, just the name of the school, class and what they were asking for.  But wait, it gets better!  In her email she says, ( mind you this is a public school teacher), "I love your Madre Minute's .....it is beautiful and touching!  I just wanted to let you know that I believe God sends us signs along the way to let us know we are on the right path at the right time, just like your gorgeous garden path.  After reading about you on your site, I wanted to share that I am the second of seven sisters and I was married on July 7th.  I thought it couldn't be a coincident that you have six daughters and July 7th was such an important day in your life as well."  Well I was so filled with joy that God had led me to this particular recipient that I could hardly contain myself.  July 7th is when I was diagnosed and I have six daughters and one named Rebekah and Ellis.  Really God?  Yes, and thank you God!  As only God can do, He maps out those happen stances in our lives, when we least expect it.  So, wait on Him with great expectation.  Rebekah goes on to say, "I know that God ordained our paths to meet. I can not wait to share the story and your story with the students when we return from spring break."
Blissdom 2013 w/ Danica Kombol @BeEverywhere Girls Night Out


So there you have it.  My blissfully appointed times at Blissdom that once again affirmed in me that I should probably go to this conference every year to keep my God appointments and not expect anything more from this conference.  Like I need anything else.  Sign me up now.
I never come away empty handed or empty hearted.
What a joy it is always to attend, reconnect and learn new things.
See you next year!


If you would like to give to Mrs. Ellis' gardening project you can contact her at:
Rebekah.Ellis@stpsb.org


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Les Miz


As most of us know this classic film by its shortened name, Les Miz,  but it is by no means a film that will be short lived in our movie libraries, on Netflix, on Hulu Plus or on paid per view.  I was asked by Universal Studios Home Entertainment to review this film.  I had not seen it in theaters, though I heard on the big screen it was even more spectacular.  My 16 year old daughter had not seen it either, so we made it a point to see it together.  I really did not know much about the storyline, plot or the characters accept that it was set in wartime France.  I never saw it on Broadway or any of the other films made from the adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel.  The tale of good vs. evil, man vs. woman, God vs. devil, weak vs. strong, rich vs. poor, clean vs. unclean, truth vs. a lie, light vs. dark, loyalty vs. revenge, bravery vs. cowardess, peace against war are just a few of the storyline themes you will encounter while watching the film.
Many people found and thought it a long movie, I never felt like, "when is this going to be over".  It kept me gripped into each moment that stemmed from the scenes before and if you missed any you might be a little lost.  It did take me a few minutes to really hear and get the singing of the lines, but they popped just a few spoken lines in there to warm you up to it.  I felt like the acting was over the top with regards to the depth of emotion they all had to show at one time or another.  The characterization of each person was intently and intensely thought out and made known to the viewer, so you became close to each character.  It was as if you knew them for a long time and had not just met them on the screen.  The acting is superb and all three main characters did an outstanding job.  It was the multiple supporting actors who also gave this movie its fabric that cloaked you with honor, distaste or truth depending on their character.  The struggle to stay above the struggle played a big part of the inner struggles going on within each character.  And yet they all struggled with one another and for one another.  I loved the priest who depicts the Love of Christ who gives Jean Valjean a second chance which really defines who he becomes in the movie, doing what is right and finally owning up to his sin and false identity.  Javert the ruthless policeman wanted to believe and trust God, but also wanted things done his own way.  Not willing to give up his control he fell victim of that pride and control ultimately ending his life.  Fantine the factory worker trusts and believes to a fault of naivety, that leads to her death.  She sees the good in Valjean and entrusts her daughter to him to raise and take care of.  It truly is a testament of the human spirit with a timeless and epic message of hope in that human spirit.  I love how the candlesticks follow Valjean throughout the movie like a cornerstone.

I can not say enough about this film except you should see it.  I would not have younger children watch it only because of its length and subject matter.  Teenage children are much more likely to understand and follow along with its challenging storyline and musical lyrics.  I know it will be a film we will watch over and over from time to time, never gaining too much dust on its jacket.  I appreciate Universal Studios Home Entertainment for giving me the opportunity to review this film.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did, we are, and will to come.
Here is a link to a discussion guide for more information about the film:
http://www.wingclips.com/system/movie-clips/les-miserables-2012/les-miserables-2012-movie-clips-guide.pdf

You can also go to  http://www.lesmiserablesfilm.com/  for a film clip of the film.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

More Fruit









What a difference
a year makes!
Lots of fruit. Even
in the pruning.









I had a hard time titling this blog.  I have had a hard time writing it not wanting to be the "what do you want to do in 2013, or the endless lists of whatevers or how to get the most out of your new year, or what did you give up?"  I think because I was working hard at thinking of some cutesy name, some name that has not been used for 2013, some title that @Google+ would love and would draw readers in.  As much as I think I can control that, I can't.  As much as I would like for all that to be so, it might not reach half of them.  And as much as I want the success, to see the fruit of my labor, "success without integrity is failure" Anonymous.
But what fruit am I looking for, what fruit am I looking at and what fruit am I planting forever?  Will anyone read about or know me in 2079 when I am long gone?  Maybe not, but the fruit I plant, harvest and share NOW will and can affect those generations.

We turn over many new leaves as a new year begins.  Make all kinds of generalizations hoping to find a way to be successful in most of them.  And we press on into the unknown of what a year can bring to our lives.  I would have to say that when the ball dropped two years ago in 2011 I had no idea cancer would be a part of what would come my way.  So with that news your life changes and your year seems to come to a screaming halt.  Praise the Lord, I survived.  As the ball dropped in 2012,  I pressed on through my treatments learning more and more each day, meeting amazing people and going to incredible places sharing what fruit I had picked thus far.

I have come to the realization that simplicity even when my world felt like it was turned upside down was the best way to find my misplaced priorities. The gospel needed to turn my internal pride that rejects Christ upside down.  C.S. Lewis said, "pride is defined as any of our self worth or value that is anything other than the Love of God".  OUCH!  When the angel came to Joseph, a righteous man, he was willing to divorce Mary, so to speak, and let her go have a life of her own BUT the night he decided this, an angel came and he married her anyway.  He became the earthly father to the living God.  If faced with the same, would pride have gotten you into trouble?
Where Jesus lives there is no room for pride.

What God taught me was doing life together, because life is hard not easy, encouraged me to go deeper still with Christ, deeper still with my community and deeper still with my family creating a community of fellowship unlike before 2011.  My life changed because of cancer yes, and for the better I believe.  It has changed my body, the way I look at myself and others and helped me be more sensitive to others.  It made me stop and think, "do my actions reflect my words?"  It made me wonder,  "what are the things I know for sure?"  And it made me realize there are significant interruptions in everyone's life. How do I begin again?  How do I stand in the way of divine appointments?  And to greet everyone as if they had cancer.
In the Bible, Mary knew for certain, though scared at what she was to ponder, the call on her life.
I knew for certain this cancer call still has a purpose.  What was laid before my life, though scared at what I had to ponder, trusting the process, putting my life in other peoples hands and most importantly, believing God would take some time to wrap my head around.
In the verses labeled "Mary's Song, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior".  If this is what we did every day wouldn't the "dis-ease" we suffer be easier to handle?  She goes on to say, "For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed".  I think this speaks to the heart of my search for significance.  My desire to make a difference, and my hope to live a full life where my children's children will call me blessed. That my God will say, "Well done my good and faithful servant".

There were many incredible things (too many to mention) in 2011-2012, that were divine appointments. I was aware of them more, I think, because cancer made me more aware, of everything.  It taught me that I had been walking around with blinders on, with muffs on my ears and eyes closed about a lot of things.  It showed me how much clutter I had in my life not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually.  It did not define me but it defined a new way every day, it defined a new purpose and definitely made itself known to me every day.  How could it not?  All I had to do was look in the mirror.  
Because of physical restrictions I stayed close to home most of 2012 combing and walking my entire backyard dreaming of what it could be.  As a friend I met in radiation taught me, "It is a blessing to be on this side of the ground".  Amen! 
I have seen it come to fruition.  My dream sprouting up on this side of the ground.
Here is a little video you can watch of its birth, knowing there is a great deal more to come.
I call it My Saving Grace Garden.



I would have to say I have seen the fruit, literally, and it tastes so sweet.
I think when there is uncertainty in my life seeing things come to completion gives me a sense of permanency, that what God starts He finishes.  I felt a new work starting in me and I welcomed it.  Very much a Happy New Year every day from July 7th, 2011 to the present.  I have headed round the bend and can see the finish line as far as treatments.  In some ways I don't want to be finished,  I don't want the divine appointments to stop or the heightened sense of His spirit to dissipate.
The only thing that stands in my way of any of that happening, is ME!

Daily I will ask God, "What are You inviting me to believe with certainty today that will compel me into action?"  I believe You are who You say You are and You can do what You say You can do.
His truth penetrates my heart with sweet conviction that compels me into action.
That I would live differently by His truth.  
Am I listening?
The song we have recently sung, "Emanuel, God with us".
He is with us.
Always.