Monday, May 31, 2010

Revisiting the Roots

The alarm said 5:43AM and my body was shouting “just a few more minutes of sleep.” This was not to be, with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cereal bar in another, my husband and I set off for a morning of traveling down memory lane. Our first stop this morning was the town of Luverne, MN, the small community in which my husband and I spent our formative years. We shared our school memories, family memories and our “dating” memories. Our next stop was by some land that we currently own and our former home in Hardwick, MN. Hardwick is the community we spent the first 16 years of our marriage and our children’s growing up years. Our family’s history is rooted in this community. After this stop on memory lane, we drove to Chandler, MN. This is the community where my husband’s maternal family has its roots. We visited the grave site of my husband’s grandma and uncles. My husband shared with me the positive influence and beautiful memories he has of these individuals in his life.

I share with you this journey as today was a “stop and think” moment in the journey of our family life. My husband and I were able to travel back through time and memories, reliving the good and the bad. The constant in the stories we shared was the presence of God directing our path, providing us light in the darkness. We discussed how our marriage is one of the greatest stories of God’s redemption. (a story to be told at a later time.) We were able to process some goals and share some dreams, knowing that all of our dreams are the Lord’s. By traveling to the past, it helped us redefine our future. Today we were given the blessing of remembering yesterday’s memories.

Just thought I would share our “blue bag” experience. Although it saddens me when someone has to walk the cancer journey, there is no greater joy than being able to share the hope and promise of God!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Second Chance Contest

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to share with you a chance to enter a contest called Gift of a Second Chance.  The contest is based off the book by Debbie Macomber, Hannah's List.  I haven't read all the rules yet, but I believe you just have to write a blurb (100 words or less) on what you would do with a second chance. (prize is $10,000)  The contest ends this Saturday.  Good Luck! 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Good Things!

Thought I would let you all know some of the good things that have been happening in my life!

Last week I celebrated my 42nd birthday!  Birthdays bring on a whole different celebration after cancer.  Thank you, Lord, for giving me life!
I recently have received some good things in the mail.  Thanks Kate for this wonderful yoga dvd for cancer patients.  I highly recommend it and hopefully will be able to do some fundraising to offer this resource to other cancer patients. If any of you are interested here is the link.

I recently was a winner for a gift card to Starbuck's by Glynnis at What a neat surprise and treat!  Glynnis is the editor for the Proverbs 31 magazine.  Although the gift card was a nice surprise, I have really appreciated Glynnis's kind words and encouragement.  I am so looking forward to meeting her this summer.
I have never really won anything in my life so imagine my surprise when I won a book from Roxanne at Peace Garden Writer.   Thanks Roxanne for your friendship, encouragement and the book!  I am hoping to start reading it this next weekend. 
I will be busy reading as I was also blessed to win a few books in a contest for signing up for Karen Witemeyer's newsletter.  Check out her website at Thanks Karen!

Also, a few weeks ago, I received a blogger award by Roxanne at Peace Garden Mama. What a day brightner!  Thank you Roxanne!  Now I would like to share this award with Luann at Running the Race and Marie at Journey Beyond Breast Cancer. Thank you Luann for all your encouragement and believing in someone else's dream.  Marie, your blog was one of the first I ever read...what a journey you helped to start.  Thank you!
Thanks everyone for letting me share some good things!  Hope you all have a wonderful Monday filled with many blessings!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster

The Sacred Journey

Recently I finished reading the book, The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster.

Although the book posed many interesting thoughts and some good questions that Christians everywhere should take the time to ask themselves, I found the book a bit challenging to read. The author presented some of his opinions in fact form, which I feel could be misleading and/or harmful to some who are new in their Christian walk. I do like the concept of pilgrimage’s and appreciate that all our life journeys are unique. With that being said, I do not believe that one has to have a pilgrimage to have a close and loving relationship with God, unless life itself is that pilgrimage.

Some of the thoughts that I took away from this book:

Jesus words “Follow me.” The author states, “They come, just as they are. They are immediately disciples. They start the journey. They don’t pray the conversion prayer, come along to church for a bit, and then do a discipleship course.” Mr. Foster further shares how Jesus-followers start walking and this inevitable leads to a kind of repentance. This challenged me in wondering am I walking with Jesus? Or just doing church?

Mr. Foster stated “The kingdom is an eternal party and it has already started.” My question is how many of us live our life with the joy of the promises from God? How many of us are so concerned about the pilgrimage, journey, the process, that we miss life’s party?

One last thought from one of Mr. Foster’s statement, “God is bound to be moving…alarmingly clear preference for people who can’t lay still.” I agree that as Christians we need to keep moving on the journey; however there are times along the journey that laying still and hearing the whisper of God is the true blessing.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to be challenged in their thinking and have a firm foundation in biblical truths. This book is a bit deeper, so if you are looking for something to challenge your thinking, this would be a good choice. However, if you are looking for a lighter read (a “fluff” book), this wouldn’t be my first choice.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Just touching base

Well, it has been a bit since I updated my blog.  The last few weeks I hit a bit of a pothole on my road to recovery.  My body can't decide if it wants to waltz (menopause) or hip hop.  Chemotherapy sends many women my age into menopause.  My labs show this is what has happened, my body is doing something else and it has left me with an increase in fatigue, weakness, and the "yucks".  So, I have been resting (and reading all of your blog entries).  As long as I pace myself, the symptoms have lessened, it's just the pacing that is hard for me to balance.  Also, during this rest phase, I have been able to hear the "whisper" of the Lord and can't wait to share my journey with you all.  (I am humbled to admit I have learned some things about myself that are a stronghold in my life..,)

Hope you all are doing great! 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dream Believers

Yesterday was a celebration day at the Vander Poel’s. Eighteen months ago, I heard those life changing words “you have cancer!” Who would have thought that those three words would forever change the direction of my life?

Speaking of changing direction in my life…

Recently, I received one of the greatest gifts and blessings I have ever experienced…

Somebody believes in me! I am having a very challenging time finding the words to explain how this belief is impacting my life. What a remarkable and amazing gift for someone to give! I sit in utter amazement at their belief in me and for giving me a chance to experience the joy of exploring a dream! This still has me in utter amazement and even a bit speechless (I think we can all agree this doesn’t happen much.)






I am so excited to share that I registered for the P31 She Speaks conference. To be honest, I didn’t think I would ever, ever be able to attend this event. The financial limitations and my own self bondages were very real road blocks. I have goose bumps sharing with you that God has provided. Through the generosity of a few, the financial limitations are vanished. Also, God and I have been working hard these last few years to untie the ropes that kept me in bondage.

This verse from Proverbs 3:5-6 has been on my heart today:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And lean not on your understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge him,
And he will make your paths straight.

But Lord, if I lean unto my own understandings than I can stay in my box, snuggled under my security blanket made of fear, insecurity and rejection.

God, what, did you say? Get rid of the “but Lord” and trust in me.

I do trust in you Lord! I know it was you who took my broken heart and body and healed them. I know it was you who lifted me out of the valley and carried me to the mountain top. I know it is you who loved me when I didn’t love myself. I know it was your light shining through others as they loved on my family and I.

Lord, I love how you remind me in the above verse that if I acknowledge you in all ways, you will make my path straight. Even though I don’t have a clue where the path is leading, I trust that you do!

Thank you Lord for the peace I know is from You.

Ps. It is my understanding that my fees are covered by the generosity of my “dream believers”, however some individuals have asked how to contribute to the scholarship fund, so I posted the information off to the side. If funds are contributed to P31 scholarship in my name, I will notify my “dream believers” so they can adjust their portion!

Blog question: Has someone believed in you? Your dream?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It’s not about You…It’s not about Me…It’s all about God!!

**I apologize that this is a super long post...My prayer is that if you can take the time to read this post, you will be encouraged by how God is in the details of our every day life!!

Many of you know that I have been entering contests to win a scholarship to the She Speaks Conference this summer. Here is a bit more about the conference taken from the Proverbs 31 website:
“She Speaks is a life-changing conference for women of every generation seeking to explore the tug on her heart to reach out to the world for Jesus. Through She Speaks, Proverbs 31 Ministries encourages and equips women who are called by God to share our mission to bring God’s peace, perspective and purpose to today’s busy woman. Sharing God’s truth with love is not only a holy calling but a remarkable responsibility. We believe by equipping women to become more effective at sharing the Word of God, we multiply our efforts to reach a hurting world with the life-transforming hope of Jesus. Our entire team invites you to be a part of this life-changing conference and look forward to sharing our lives with you. It is our prayer that during this year’s conference, God will validate old dreams and inspire new ones.”
Now, I am a realist….and truly didn’t expect or deserve to win a writing contest, after all I have only written one article and two contest entries in my life. (Being a writer takes a little more effort and perseverance than that.) But, oh, I was so willing to use not winning as a “sign” of God’s will. I was willing to let a dream die.
Then the promptings started coming….
• My blogger friend, Luann, asked, “Is it on your heart to go?”
• Another friend, J, stated “Do you think maybe you are putting God in a box?”
• Others made positive comments about my writing.
• A friend invited me to go to Beth Moore’s simulcast, So Long Insecurity.
• Then I received another email from Luann, suggesting a scholarship.
• And last Sunday, my pastor’s wife, Denise, gave the sermon and challenged us with this prayer. “God, help me to live my life every day in a way that says, “It’s not about me! It’s all about you, God—Your will for my life and Your plan for the world.” God’s will? Could I have been using God’s will as an excuse? Could God possible be prompting me to attend the conference? In my heart I so wanted trust and believe, in my mind…there is absolutely no financial means to make this dream happen this summer.
In her sermon, Denise gave four tips in helping to determine God’s will:
1. God’s will is found in God’s Word.
2. God’s will is revealed in prayer.
3. God’s will is confirmed by the counsel of godly women and men.
4. God’s will produces peace in our spirits.

I sit and type this in AWE and WONDER how God has spoken and answered:

1. God’s word. Our church is currently reading God Sightings, the one year bible. I am embarrassed to admit I had fallen way behind in my reading. I decided to start over beginning on the date of April 28. The scripture reading was in Judges where God is working with Gideon (Gideon struggled with his fear that his own limitations would prevent God from working through him.) I was encouraged as Gideon had his weak moments and failures, but he was still God’s servant. I was reminded about God sometimes will call us in the middle of our present obedience. I couldn't help but wonder, could God actually have a plan for my life? Especially, being the broken vessel that I am? Was I being like Gideon and letting my fears stop the next step in my life? The next “ah, ha” came from God’s word in Matthew 4:18-20. Peter and Andrew dropped their nets and went. Notice, they dropped their nets…and went. I have surrendered my life to God, but do I have the courage to follow Peter and Andrew’s example? When rereading for the Write Reason by Mary Beth Whalen, I was reminded that Jesus didn’t run His ministry by sitting inside His house waiting for people to find Him. He was active, moving from place to place, inviting them to take part in His Father’s vision. I am reminded, it is not about me, it is about HIM! Although there have been numerous passages that have been nudging my heart, I would like to share with you just one more that I read this morning. I was reading Luke 1 and soon found myself pondering Mary’s reaction when Gabriel told her she would be the virgin mother of our savior. She didn’t doubt. She didn’t say “Are you sure you got the right girl?” Luke 1: 38 shares that Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” A few verses later in Luke we find  Mary saying:
"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”
Wow, could you imagine what impact we would have on this world if we all believed and rejoiced like Mary?
2. Prayer. I have been seeking God in prayer along with asking others to join me in seeking His direction for my life. Keep reading to see how He is showing His answer to this specific prayer regarding the She Speaks conference.
3. God’s will is confirmed by the counsel of godly women and men. For some reason, I believe that my recent struggles are more than just about attending the She Speaks conference, so I did seek counsel from a few women who have known me for several years. It is with great confidence that I trust in their guidance and wisdom. Together we explored my strengths, weaknesses and passions. In these discussions, it has been reconfirmed in my heart that I have a passion for women and their unique walks through life. I, myself, am amazed at the burning desire I have to share God's hope and promises. She Speaks is a conference that blends writing, speaking and leading. Was I possible just limiting God with my focus solely on writing? When sharing my thoughts and heart with one of my mentors, she shared with me that there are a few individuals who have heard of my dream to attend the She Speaks and wish to share their financial blessings to assist me. My pride so wanted to say, NO! After all what gives me the right to think I can pursue my dreams, especially at someone else’s expense. I am so unworthy. In sharing this with my youngest daughter, I told her I was very humbled by the very thought of someone supporting my dream financially. Are you ready for a 14 yr old’s response... "humbled mom?? How about honored! I think it is so cool that there are others who believe in you and your dreams!" I was still struggling with the idea of actually accepting their generosity when I came across the application notes of my bible while reading about Mary in Luke 1:48. When Mary said, “From now on all generations will call me blessed,” was she being proud? No, she was recognizing and accepting the gift God had given her. Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done; humility is accepting the gifts and using them to praise and serve God. Don’t deny, be little, or ignore your gifts. Thank God for them and use them to his glory. Wow—I have to wonder if God could give me a clearer message?
4. God’s will produces peace in our lives. When I think about attending the She Speaks conference, there are a few barriers that my mind immediately constructs. I have never been in an airplane. I have never traveled by myself. What if cancer comes back? Then I will have wasted everyone’s money. Yet, despite these few anxious thoughts….I am so unbelievable excited! And my heart is completely at peace. When I think of attending She Speaks, I feel incredible blessed and know it is truly all about God!
For the past few months, I have struggled with trying to decide if God has “called” me to write. I still don’t have an answer, but what I do know is that He has given me one life—did you hear that? Just ONE LIFE!! One life with a chance to take a step towards the dream He has planned for me! So YES!!! I am going to register for the She Speaks Conference and continue to trust in HIM with all the details.
I aim to be a vessel, to be used to bring His light to others in whatever way He wills it.
Before I end this blog posting, I would like to share with you a bit of my journey and why I have such a passion for walking with other women. Below is an entry that I wrote for another contest held by Mary DeMuth, author of Thin Places. (I have made many mistakes in my past, many of which I am embarrassed about…but, I am hoping that through my journey, others can see the grace and love of our great God! I can hardly believe the transformation I have witnessed in myself!)
“Your parents don’t want you.” “How can your mother love you, you ruined her life?” taunts my grandmother.
I weep.
I am worthless, I am wounded, I am broken…at 10 years old, God met me in this thin place.
“It is the end time, come with us” stated my father in law.
We leave, we believe.
It is a lie. It is a cult.
We return home, penniless, scarred and unbelieving...God met us in this thin place.
There is cramping. There is bleeding.
My arms are empty. My heart is lonely…God rocks my baby in this thin place.
The yelling, the screaming, the hurt…the love shared by two tarnished from the challenges of life.
My three children and I leave.
I am alone, I am scared, I am angry…God met me in this thin place.
“NO, Lord! Please, Lord! Help me, Lord! Help! Stop, ME! Please! Please! Please! Save Me!” I weep these words in utter anguish as I sit on hands to protect me from myself, knowing that the sheering of the razor against my soft skin would release the pain.
I hurt.
I am worthless, I am wounded, I am broken… God met me in this thin place.
“You have an aggressive, invasive breast cancer,” the doctor says with sadness and fear in her voice.
I weep.
In the stillness and quiet of the night, I am haunted by the “what if’s”? Will I live? Will I die? Will I still be loved? Will I be filled with bitterness and anger from all of me that is being stripped away? Will I still trust? Are the challenges of treatment worth it? Will the cancer reoccur?
I am bald, I am breastless, I am broken…at 40 years old, God met me in this thin place.
Through my thin places, I have learned the road of life can be hard and challenging, filled with frustration, fears, sadness, tears, laughter and joy …I take comfort in knowing that there is a God who gives me strength when I can’t stand, courage when I am frightened, and love through it all.

Thank you all for letting me share this part of my healing journey!