<![CDATA[Taking steps...one at a time. - Blog]]>Tue, 01 Dec 2015 19:27:47 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Your words speak to me]]>Mon, 23 Nov 2015 20:03:42 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/your-words-speak-to-meI've written about it before. About how the Holy Spirit can speak through songs. You know, those lyrics, that when you hear them you swear the songwriter was literally writing about your life, your circumstances, your emotions. It's those songs that help you get through certain times in your life. The lyrics can speak to you in a way no one else can. When I was sick a couple years ago, I wrote often about the song "Oceans", "Holy Spirit" and "Come to Me". Songs that got me through scans, diagnosis, doctor appointments and treatments. There is something about the lyrics "Don't look to the right or to the left, but keep your eyes on me you will not be shaken, you will not be moved. I am the hand to hold I am the truth I am the way. Just come to me, come to me cause I'm all that you need," when they came across my headphones, it was as if the Lord immediately banished the devil and his plans to take over my thoughts. It was easy to focus on Him, on where I was going and my ultimate goal here on earth.

"Your grace abounds in deepest waters. Your sovereign hand, Will be my guide. Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You've never failed and You won't start now," these types of lyrics are so strong. They gave me that extra push and confidence in God's plan for me.

This season is different than seasons I've been in in the past. I listened to a sermon several months ago and the words that stuck with me were "whenever, 
wherever." The sermon was about being available for God to use you. If you truly want Him to use you, it's on His time, not ours. Whenever you need me, Wherever that may be. I prayed this prayer. I prayed that God would use me in His time, in His place. Then, we got a call. Garrett was called to come in for an interview in Alabama. I immediately went to panic mode. I can't leave - my home, my friends, my church, my job - I literally came up with hundreds of reasons. Then, I remembered, whenever. wherever. 

At this time, Lauren Dangle came out with her new CD. I had heard her song, "How Can It Be" on the radio and decided I would download it. After a few days of listening to it on repeat, I figured I would go ahead and buy the whole album. I started to listen to the album on repeat. In my car, on my runs, as I cleaned. The lyrics spoke to me. They calmed me. I listened to them over and over. "Letting go of everything single dream I lay each one down at your feet. Every moment of my wandering, never changes what you see," they go on to say "When you don't move the mountains, I needed you to move. When you don't part the waters, I wish I could walk through. When you don't give the answers I as I cry out to you. I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you."

They just keep getting better...

"Truth is you know what tomorrow brings. There's not a day ahead you have not seen. So, in all things be my life and breath. I want what you want you, Lord and nothing less." 

This is the season I am in. Bring me where you want me, use me as you see fit and I follow you and trust in you. When you allow His sovereign hand to be your guide, He fits the pieces together. Within 3 days, I have interviewed for a job, had unofficial offer for the job, took an offer on our house, put an offer on another house. God makes a way for those who following Him. It's not always what we envision it looking like, but if it's His plan, I trust it's a good one.

Thank you, Lord, for speaking to me through others. Thank you for your sovereign hand. I pray you continue to work through me and help me trust in you as you open doors that need to be open and close doors that need to be closed. I ask that you continue to give me peace as my world is changing. 

The sign my friend, Cat, made me
that hangs in my office. 

<![CDATA[Make a difference]]>Fri, 29 May 2015 13:31:03 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/make-a-difference

I sit and wait. My name is called from behind the heavy, wooden door and I quickly gather my belongings and walk towards them. The nurses compliment my "thick, long hair" as I walk passed them to get blood work done. There's something about going to the doctor when you're sick or recovering from being sick. You need to look nice. Look heathy. Prove to yourself and others that this illness can't and won't take everything away from you. I sit here with a clean bill of health for the time being and to my left I see a young woman dressed to impress wearing a head cap, a beautiful hat and make up as if she were going to be walking down the isle soon. She could barely put one foot in front of the other as she struggled to pry open what seemed to be a 200 pound door. 'The face of cancer' I thought. Bald. Weak. Sickly. She's doing everything she can to not be seen as being sick, yet there's no looking past it.. I've tried so hard to remove myself from this world of cancer. Wanting so badly to not have to be a part of it. Rid my hands of the endless doctor appointments, stupid blood work every few months, and silly bills. Not deal with the looks that say, "you poor thing" or the lack of eye contact because they aren't sure what to say. As I see her living in her struggle. Fighting for every breath, every step. I immediately want to be back in this community. It's a chance to be a beacon of hope. A shining light in what may be the darkest times for some. Our actions and reactions to the things that happen to us and those around us can change the course of someone's day, possibly even their life. Take every opportunity to be present in the lives of those around you, wether you know them or not, and know that you have the ability to make a difference. Make a difference with a smile, a short conversation, holding the door for someone. It doesn't have to be a big gesture to have a big meaning.

<![CDATA[Take me deeper]]>Mon, 27 Oct 2014 02:54:40 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/take-me-deeperI heard a radio host talk about the song "Oceans" by Hillsong recently. She said we all needed to stop singing it because no one understands the lyrics they are singing. 

The lyrics say,
"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior."

She went on to say that the lyrics are asking for hard times to come and that no one really wants hard times to come. Her point might be spot on... For some. For many. But not for me. Maybe a year ago it would have been true for me as well, but not now. Not after this past year. Yes. The year sucked. If I were to write everything that physically and emotionally happened to me. To my family. To my sweet husband. I would never ever choose to go through this past year again. But if anyone could ever see just a glimpse of how my  life has and lives of those around me have changed. My relationship with Jesus, my ability to acknowledge and be moved the Holy Spirit and the change this has brought to my life - I wouldn't change it. 

It's incredible when you say those lyrics.. and you mean it. God has such a great and detailed plan for each one of our lives, but we hold on to certain parts of our lives, most of the time without even realizing it, and we don't let him come in and take over those parts. I was thrown into a storm last year. I didn't know what the outcome would be. What I did know if the feelings that I got of "I have wasted time and I need to make it up. quickly." What if I wasn't going to be here anymore? What if God had people for me to reach here on Earth and I've wasted all of my time being consumed with other things? I sang those lyrics last year. And I meant them. I wanted to God to take me deeper than my feet could ever wander- somewhere I didn't even know existed.

 And I am so glad I did. In the hardest time of my life, I have seen God's hand at work in my life. My friends' lives. My family's lives. God has the ability to change your life, but only if you let Him.  Picture

<![CDATA[Landmarks.]]>Fri, 12 Sep 2014 22:31:36 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/landmarksIt's been a year. An entire year. The longest, yet shortest and most life changing year of my existence so far. I've spent the past couple of weeks reflecting on this past year. Every day that passes is connected with an emotion. An emotion that floods my mind as the day comes and goes and then the next day holds its own emotion. I can still feel the emotions as the different dates pass. My first hair cut. My first scan. The day I was diagnosed. My first surgery. All of the different appointments. The phone call I made to my parents. The day I started treatment. So many dates. So many emotions. I would have imagined each of these dates would be tied to a negative emotion. Fear. Anxiety. Helplessness. Sadness. What I learned is that I was being called for something much bigger than myself. Much bigger than I could have ever imagined. The emotions turned positive. I was relieved. I was hopeful. I was determined. I didn't know what lied ahead of me - and I wasn't concerned. 

There are "landmarks" - physical landmarks. chronological landmarks. personal landmarks - that pass everyday that to some people mean nothing and to me mark a milestone in my life. Dates and landmarks that are tied to days that my life changed forever. Days that I realized there was a much bigger plan in place. Days I realized I was not in control. And days that I realized that the only thing I could do is to fall on Him and He will carry me through.
<![CDATA[Find Your Sam]]>Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:28:03 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/find-your-samI sat with my niece today at lunch and as a large plate of mac n cheese was placed in front of her, I smiled and thought about Sam. Sam was a student of mine the past two years. Over the past two years he had proven that he had ability to do pretty much any task that was set in front of him ... if he wanted to. Sam had developmental delays as well as physical disabilities including limited use of his right hand. With that in mind, simple tasks became a little more difficult for him, like making mac n cheese. The first year Staci and I had Sam in our class he came to school with a pre-made peanut butter sandwich, Fritos and milk in his lunch. As the year went on, we encouraged him to bring groceries to school and make his own lunches. Throughout the year, he learned to make his own peanut butter sandwiches and his beloved mac n cheese. It wasn't easy! Have you ever tried to spread peanut butter on soft bread with one hand? Or use a water fountain to fill your cup of mac n cheese with only one hand? It was hours of practice, encouragement and a whole lot if determination from Sam. Sure, there were a few 'almost fires' in the microwave because after he filled the Mac n cheese cup up with the right amount of water he spilled most of it while walking to the microwave, not because he couldn't hold the cup up straight, but because he wouldn't dare walk past someone he knew and not say hi... And if you knew Sam, you know that he knew everyone! And maybe there were few... well maybe several ripped pieces of bread as he continued to try day after day to spread the thick peanut butter across the unforgiving surface of the bread. I honestly can't remember hearing Sam say "I can't do it" and actually mean that he could not complete the task. He may have mumbled it once or twice to get out of an activity, but his determination of completing the task would take over and he would always figure out a way to get the job done, especially if there was some IPod time to listen to his favorite country music songs.
I've told a few "Sam stories" to anyone who would listen to them over the last couple of weeks and the more I shared the more I realized just how proud I was of him and what he had accomplished. Sam overcame odds every single day. He never said, "I can't do this because of my disability." In Sam's eyes, he didn't have a disability. He was able to learn what people took the time to teach him. The past couple of weeks I have felt guilty when I think about something I wish I would have taught him. If his quality of life could have improved if I took an extra minute here or there to help him with something. 

I was on the plane flying back to Tennessee and as I  was thinking about all of this I felt I needed to write down my thoughts as the new school year starts. I grabbed my phone and tried to type out the thoughts that were quickly flowing through my mind.

"We need to teach with urgency. Take time to teach as much as you can every single day. We are dealing with the quality of life of our students. The more we can teach them, the better quality of life they will have and the more they will get to experience in this world. This is not a job that you just go to earn a paycheck. We truly have the ability to impact our students each and every day. Make sure you're doing that."

This isn't a motto that only applies to my classroom and students. This applies to life. Take every opportunity to love on those around you. Teach others about love by being an example of love. Teach forgiveness by forgiving those around you.  Be passionate about life and what you're doing in it. We weren't put here to float through life and then go away. Make a difference and start by living the way God called us to live. Trust me. People will see the way your living and the blessings being poured out onto you because of your faithfulness and willingness to follow, not your will, but His. 

Sam was this person for so many people. He was their example. He lived life. He laughed every chance he got. He was passionate about so many things, including his family and friends. He loved everyone he possibly could, as much as he possibly could. 

Find your Sam in this world. He will change your life. 

<![CDATA[Words that hurt more than "You have cancer"]]>Mon, 09 Jun 2014 21:56:00 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/words-that-hurt-more-than-you-have-cancerLet me begin with this... I'm stuck inside my own head right now. Wrapped up in things I know are silly to waste my time worrying about and pouting over. The purpose of this blog is to actually write these things out and allow myself to see, in writing, how ridiculous it all is. With that said, the blog is going to get long ... welcome to the inside of my head.

I had my first follow up doctor's appointment this afternoon. First time walking in to the office just to "check in " with my doctor since my "no more cancer scan" back in April. No anxiety about getting scan results. No port being accessed. No infusion room. No IV poles. Nothing. Just walk in, tell them I'm doing great, walk out and get on with my day. I've envisioned this doctor's appointment hundreds of times. That is how it was going to be. How it should have been. 

I blogged in September about adjustments. I had to change my mind set about a few things. I no longer was going to have long hair and I was told I needed to wait to have children, if I still could have them. The adjustments weren't easy and they still aren't easy, but I'm on the opposite end of all of it now and it is time to get my plans back on track. Ugh. My plans. The two words I should have learned to never, ever, ever use again! But I obviously didn't learn that lesson. I had psyched myself out these past few months. I refused to have the "having babies" conversation with my doctor the last month of chemo and the weeks following my last treatment. I think subconsciously I didn't ask the question because I wasn't ready to hear the answer. Before treatment I was told to wait 3 years before trying to start a family. The reason being, chances of relapse are highest in the two years following remission and scans are done every 3-6 months throughout the first 2 years and of course the first year would be filled with treatments. 

There are downfalls to always being optimistic (who knew, right?). I found that out today. Remember when I said I had envisioned today's doctor appointment hundreds of times? This is how I envisioned it...

"Hi Amber! You look great! How do you feel?" 
"I feel great! Thanks!"
"I know you are wanting to talk about starting a family. Since you did so well throughout chemo and are back to your normal energy level and seem to be right back where you started, I don't see why you can't wait until after your scan in August and then start trying."
"What great news!! That is perfect! Thanks!"

That is how it should have gone. I had played that conversation over and over in my head so many times. I was optimistic. Overly optimistic. When the conversation didn't go that way, I felt like I had gotten a swift kick to the stomach. Ok, more like a construction worker with steel toed boots, who has thighs the size of tree trucks drop kicked me. The conversation went the same exact way it did before I started treatment. I needed to wait two years after my last chemo treatment and 40 days after my last scan. I could see my doctor felt bad. She had trouble looking at me after she told this. Of course, I smiled and said "Ok that sounds good. We can do that." She asked if it was the worse news I had heard all day. I didn't answer. What I wanted to say was, that's the worst news I've ever heard. 

STOP. This is where I get ridiculous. Seriously, Amber? You were diagnosed with cancer. Remember, that conversation? The one where your mortality was questioned? And you mean to tell me that waiting two years to start a family was the worst thing you've ever heard? 

Well, it felt like it at the time. Ridiculous or not ridiculous. That's how I felt. I wanted to break down crying as I did my most pitiful walk out to my car and slumped down in the driver's seat. As I sat there and felt bad for myself, I started to think about how silly it all was. Gosh, there are so many worse things that could happen and here I am, complaining about waiting another two years. Two years that Garrett and I can take time for just the two of us. Time to travel, to spend with our families and love on our nieces and nephews and all the other babies in our lives. I seem to get so caught up in this whole "this is my plan" concept that I overlook the things I am most grateful for. I stayed out until 3 am last night and woke up at 10 am this morning (I was helping Garrett with baseball laundry and not out having a good time, but still..). I would have missed out on that time with him if I were home putting a mini Garrett to bed. Unless I plan on leaving my kids in the room with my dog when we go out of town to be taken out two times a day and fed in the morning and evening by our dog sitter- no more last minute trips for us. We aren't really the "planning" type so everything seems to be on a whim - something I'm thinking would no longer be an option after having kids. Things would look a lot different. Not in a bad way and, to be honest, I am soo looking forward to those times, but let me live in the moment. Let me enjoy this time and not long for what's to come. Let me be thankful for where I'm at and be aware of the reason I am here. God put me here. He knows where I'm at because he was here before me. 

So, no. The words "wait two years" aren't worse then "you have cancer" (even though I may chalk it up to be). But we've all been in a spot like this before. We have all wanted to have our way and when we don't get it, we pout. We throw a tantrum and act as if our world stopped spinning. We need to suck it up and live in the moment. If waiting two years is the worst thing that will happen to me, praise God. And knowing it's not the worst thing that will come my way, may this be a lesson for me to bypass that tantrum next time and immediately find the good in my circumstance. 

<![CDATA[I'm not the forgiving person I thought I was. ]]>Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:03:20 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/im-not-the-forgiving-person-i-thought-i-wasI've read Genesis before and every time I read it I am always so in awe of Joseph and the way he is able to forgive his brothers after they were just downright evil towards him. Although, I will admit, other than loving the story of forgiveness I never really allowed the passage to speak to me the way it did today. Usually when I read this story I was think "Joseph is great. Everyone should be like that and forgive completely. I don't have a problem with forgiveness." It to an extent, that is true. I feel like I am a pretty forgiving person. I don't feel as if I hold grudges against people and am usually pretty quick to "get over" things that people do or when someone hurts me. 

Today was different. I read the story and realized I do hold grudges and I haven't been as forgiving of a person as I thought I was. I've talked about "The Daily Walk Bible" before that I absolutely love, but before you read the actually Bible verses it has a section titled, "You Daily Walk." The section relates the Bible story to issues we may have in our own lives - such a great way to be able to relate things that happened thousands of years ago to your own life today. I ended up copying almost the entire section verbatim in my journal. 

"You've probably head the phrase "I'll forgive, but I won't forget." That's really just another way of saying, "I won't forgive." For true forgiveness involves totally putting out of our mind the wrong suffered. That's the way God forgives (Ephesians 4:32), and his brand of forgiveness is the model he expects us to follow as well."

Ok, so here is where I realized I hold grudges and don't completely forgive. If the statement, "For true forgiveness involves totally putting out of our mind the wrong suffered" is true than that means, if I truly, completely forgive someone I  totally put the wrong doing out of my mind. Therefore, since it is out of my mind, I wouldn't talk about it, bring it up anymore, or share with my girlfriends months after the incident the issue that happened and how it made me feel and why it still makes me upset. Right? But I do. I do that. I do talk about things and, at times, still have a sensation that gets my heart racing or chest tighten as if the incident just happened. 

Ok, so now what? It goes on to read, 

"If you have experienced God's forgiveness in Christ, you have the greatest motivation possible for forgiving others." Have you not all experienced that? We may have and not acknowledged that we have. He has forgiven all of my shortcomings. All of my sins. All of my acts against Him. My selfishness. I know I've experienced his forgiveness because there is no way I would be able to make it though each day if my sins, my wrong doings, my shortcomings, my selfishness hung over my head and followed me around. I have experienced the peace He has given to me because of his forgiveness. I no longer have to live under the dark cloud that I so easily create for myself. 

Lord, I thank you for the peace that only total forgiveness can bring. I thank you for completely forgiving me. I ask that you open my eyes to those who I may hold grudges against or have not completely and truly forgiven. Help me to forgive others like you have forgiven me. Help me see situations like Joseph did - that you will turn what other's do against me into good.

After being sold into slavery by his brothers and imprisoned for many, many years Joseph reunites with his brothers. They are scared for his revenge, but Joseph tries to help them understand that he has completely forgiven them...
"Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, to judge and punish you? As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people. No, do not be afraif. Indeed, I myself will take care of you and your families." (Genesis 50:18-21)
<![CDATA[21 Day Fix]]>Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:46:09 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/21-day-fixI've been seeing a lot of pictures, posts, and results from the new trend: 21 Day Fix. From what I can tell, it is a way of reteaching your body how much food and what types of foods it actually needs to survive. Portion Control. We constantly over eat and we all know we aren't over eating broccoli and asparagus... it's the pizza, fried stuff and sweets that we all crave. You are also supposed to pick one of the several work outs to do each day. All of this combined for 21 days is said to be able to change to course of our life.. if you commit to it and allow it to work. It takes 21 days to change a bad habit. Change what food your body craves. Rewire your body from being lazy to wanting to be active. 

My poor husband gets a proposal from me about once a month as I start to learn about new "fad diets" or "change your life" trends. "Garrett, I really think this one will work for me. It seems so easy. Can I just just order it??" And with our budget, the response is always the same. "Whatever you want sweetheart, but let's put it on next month's budget." Boom. Gets me every time because by the time we make our budget for the next month I have already forgotten about last month's trend and am now looking for something else I can do. And the cycle continues :)  

So naturally, when I head about the 21 Day Fix I thought - "What a great idea. I'l spend hundreds of dollars on teaching myself portion control and how to work out." (of course, I am writing it as if I said it sarcastically, but for real I did think it would be a great idea...and kind of still do ;) ) So, again with the budget, I decided I would by pass the "actual 21 Day Fix" and not spend the money and just try and focus on portion control what I am putting into my body (no chemicals, no preservatives, little sugar - I know I should cut that out altogether.. I'm getting there..) and working out. As I mentioned before, I hear this can change your life. But really. Will your physical appearance alone change your life? I do think it could change aspects of your life. The way you feel. The way you look. Your confidence. These areas are all important. But I'm wanting more than that. I not only want to allow my body to reach it's peak physical condition and for the first time am conscience about actually wanting to be healthy more than just 'losing weight' (I loved the quote a friend posted a few months ago "Maybe we should start counting chemicals rather than counting calories" - So true people, we are literally poisoning ourselves with the stuff we are eating. Thanks Ashley W.!) I also know that with becoming healthy I will have more energy and feel better - I have always had tons of energy but why not add some more? It can't hurt, right? 

I want to not only achieve the 'rewiring of my body' but I want to rewire my mind. my spirituality. my faith. Therefore, I will start this "21 day fix" and add a few more steps. 

I will be conscience of chemicals. Of how much I am eating. What foods I am eating. Making sure I am working out. I will commit to reading my bible again everyday. Setting time aside to have quiet time. Pause this crazy thing we call life and pray to The One who knows our every move. 

"Faith is like a muscle that grows stronger through exercise. And the exercise that builds a vibrant faith is the stress of facing daily circumstances with confidence in God." (The Daily Walk Bible)

As I begin this life changing 21 days, God gave me the story of Joseph. Genesis 37-50 recounts Joseph's life, which easily could have been a story of revenge and ended up being everything but. After being sold into slavery by his own brothers, imprisoned for serval years and then brought out of prison to work alongside the Pharaoh, he held his position of power directly beneath Pharaoh and came in contact with his brothers, who could have been blamed for years of heartache. Instead, he acknowledged the work of God, "But don't be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it." (Gen. 45:5) 

I will read. I will pray. I will study people like Joseph and I will try to grow a faith like Joseph's. 

Here's to the new me! 
<![CDATA[This new body of mine..]]>Sun, 16 Mar 2014 16:56:25 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/this-new-body-of-mineSince I haven't blogged in quite awhile, I guess I should start with... I have finished all 12 chemo treatments! Woo Hoo! Yay! But, for whatever reason I'm not in the mood to write about that today..soon though, very soon. :)

What has been on my mind is learning this new body of mine. It's not really a new body, but it seems to be different than I remember it. I grew up playing sports and competing in everything I could. Literally. Everything. I was the youngest of 4 children and made everything into a competition with them, as well as everyone else around me. If we were walking around Disney, I had to be in front. If we were eating, I needed to be done first. I don't know why I have always been this way, I just always have. (Well, I'm pretty sure my family instigating most of it.. Like the time we were on a family bike ride and my brother decided as we were riding through a parking lot we would speed up and taunt me by saying "I'm beating you, Amber. I'm beating you." So I sped up as fast as I could right in time to hit a speed bump and fly over my handle bars. haha. yea times like those ;) ) Anyways, I've just always been competitive. Then sports came and it got even more intense. I needed to be the best at everything I tried (not tennis, I gave up on tennis after I realized I was trying to beat everyone by hitting it the farthest and as we all know that's not the way you play tennis..but I could hit it further..) I was probably the only "athletic" girl in college the refused to play intramurals because I knew I would embarrass myself by throwing my bat if I struck out or yelling something inappropriate after an error. You get the point - everything is a competition wether I want it to be or not, so when I find myself getting back into somewhat of a workout routine it is super difficult for me to realize that I can no longer complete the kickboxing class without taking several breaks and not working at 100% the entire hour or when I can't keep up with the spin class and I have to keep my resistance at a standstill when everyone else is adding more resistance to their bikes to make it "up the hill."

I enjoy going to the work out classes rather than working out with the weights in the gym. And I laugh as I write this because it just now clicked - I probably enjoy them because it makes me motivated not to stop because others around me are still going (which probably boils down to my competitiveness). Either way it keeps me going. So after my last chemo treatment on March 4th, I bought a pass to the group classes and started with yoga. One of the things I've noticed with the "new body" of mine is that my muscles are super, super tight. Like I can't go into more than a 90 degree split, if that. I can no longer touch the floor with my knees straight. The flexibility I once knew is gone. I really enjoy going to the yoga classes and figured this would be a good place to start with this new flexibility issue. The best thing that has come out of this class was a short conversation with the instructor. And the conversation wasn't even with me. My mother-in-law, Meg, ended up coming to the same class and brought a friend. Her friend is the one that had this conversation. She was sharing that she enjoyed the class and that she needed to get back into things. The instructor went on to say, "Its something that comes with time. You need to know your body and know what it needs. You don't ever need to push too hard, but rather listen to your body and do what feels good." What she said stuck with me. This is what I'm struggling with. I'm trying to pick up where I left off and that's just not possible. Not now. I need to relearn my body. What it can do and what it can't do. I need to listen when it tells me to back off. I need to concentrate on rebuilding my muscle, my endurance, my stamina rather than trying to keep up with those around me, which completely wears me out. I need to give myself credit for being at the gym and working rather than tear myself down for not being in "peak physical condition" (not that I ever was but I still try to keep up with those who are and then get frustrated when I can't keep up). I've always cut myself short and have always been hard on myself. I'm learning to really learn where I am at and grow from there. 

I've been told some good advice these past couple of weeks as I am relearning this body and where it is at. 
1. Listen to your body (not the person's next to you)
2. Zumba makes your heart happy (for real, I love it. And this goes for other work outs, too. It just makes you feel good!)
3. Find where your fitness level is and go from there

I feel silly relating this whole thing to God, but another part of my "learning process" is really understanding God's hand in everything. Literally, everything. God has put simple reminders throughout my day that is making it easier for me to learn this new body of mine without getting frustrated. The small conversations. The advice. The reassurance that I am supposed to be there when people recognize me and ask where I've been. The little things that I know is God's way of helping my get over this small hurdle. And I'm thankful he cares about something as small as this. And am comforted that if he cares this much about helping me through this little issue, how much he must care about the bigger things in my life. 

Luke 12:7
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

This verse has made me laugh the past several months as my hair continued to get thinner and thinner. I joked that God knew how many hairs were on my head, even if it was just a few. Such a great verse that helps us understand that He really does care about the small things. 

<![CDATA[A New Year's Resolution. And Painful realization.]]>Thu, 02 Jan 2014 17:51:51 GMThttp://amberswalk.weebly.com/blog/a-new-years-resolutionGarrett and I laughed after we had our "So, what's your new year's resolution going to be this year?" conversation because his answer was simply "I don't have one" and mine was "Well, I never follow through with mine so I'm not going to have one either." I feel like year after year I jump on the "I'm going to get healthy!" bandwagon (yea right, I say I'm going to lose weight... I never really cared about 'being healthy') and shortly after the year starts, life gets in the way and I end my 48 hour 'resolution'. I've never really taken it too seriously or even given it much thought. Until this morning.

Our church has started "Reading the Bible through in a year" together. The past month or so Pastor Alan has talked about beginning this journey through the Bible, which has left me reflecting on my attempt this past year to read through the Bible. Mom gave me "The Daily Walk Bible" last year, which I absolutely love and highly recommend for those like me who have trouble making sense of everything. I started it mid-July this past summer and was on a roll. I woke up 30 minutes earlier than my usual morning routine, read my reading each day (most days at least) and went off to work. Little did I know, God was allowing me to set a deep spiritual foundation for when I would soon be diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The past year, before being diagnosed, my "spiritual game" was stepped up and I was walking closer to God than ever before. When I found the lump on my neck July 4th I laid awake at night for hours thinking of all the bad things that could happen and that I just knew were going to happen - then I remembered the promises I've been reading for the past several months. His promise that if I lean on Him he will give me strength. That he is there to take my anxieties and fears off of my shoulders and wear them on his own because I am simply not strong enough without him to hold them. 

                Psalm 55:22
                      Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

I prayed and asked God to take my fear and anxiety about this silly lump away. I would make myself go crazy worrying about it and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I could be told this lump would take my life in a month... and still, there's nothing I can do about it. It didn't matter what I was told my doctors I was still left with - there is nothing I can do about it. But God can. Since that night I said that prayer, I haven't been anxious about it - and what a great feeling it is! This walk allowed my diagnosis to do nothing more to my spirit than make it stronger. God let me know time and time again that He was with me. He was holding me. He would carry me through what ever I was about to face. 

A few days into the whole process of seeing doctors every day, going through tests, and playing the waiting game I opened my Bible and saw a sticky note dated back to Dec. 2012. "God heals from the inside." Pslam 103. I let out a relieving sigh. "..who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases." 
When I started treatment a couple weeks after reading this, I began reading the book "The Circle Maker: Praying Circles around your biggest dreams and greatest fears"" by Mark Batterson. The first thing I wrote down from this book in my journal was this story,

"Two blind men stops Jesus and asks for him to have mercy on them. Jesus asked them what they wanted him to do. Even though it was obvious- they were blind- Jesus made them verbalize what they wanted."

Pray with specifity. The more specific you pray the more glory God receives. If we aren't specific we second guess wether or not he really answered it or not and he gets robbed of the glory. I had been praying for healing...if that's what God wanted. While I reading this book, I was about 4 weeks away from my first PET scan after starting chemo. I began to pray a specific prayer. A prayer that I scribbled in my journal that went something like this..

"I pray for healing. Lord, I pray that your healing hand is upon me and your will, will be done. I am thankful for the situation I'm in and the opportunities you have given me through this sickness. I ask that you continue to use me and that I have open ears, heart, mind and eyes as you lead me through this. I pray for a clean scan in 4 weeks. That you will continue to surprise the doctors with your work. I thank you for the blessings - no sickness - no hair loss - no side effects of chemo. You are good. You are faithful. You are sovereign. 

The specific prayer was a clean scan in 4 weeks. I felt bad praying for it. I felt greedy. I felt like I was asking too much. If a scan wasn't clean in 4 weeks it wasn't because he didn't want to answer my prayer, but His plan is for something else. I knew that then and I know that now. But what did happened was this.
The first picture shows two very bright spots, one in my neck and the other next to my heart. These are the cancerous spots. (All the other brights spots are my organs working :) and is completely normal) The second picture is scan that shows the same spots...with nothing there. The bright spot in this one is my heart.

A scan that showed "no active spots" where there once were active spots. After 4 out of the 12 treatments there was nothing there! The biggest prayer I have ever prayed has been answered. A prayer that hundreds of people have been praying on my behalf has been answered. A miracle was done right before my eyes. My doctor was nice enough to call me only a couple hours after my scan was completed and let me know the good news right then rather than making me wait 3 days until my actual appointment. I was relieved. I was thankful. I was anxiety free. I called everyone I could to tell them the good news. Sent these pictures out to those who needed a visual. I couldn't stop smiling. 

Then it happened. My mind went to the thought of.. "I wonder if I could be done with treatment now. Could I bypass the next 4 months of treatment. Not have to endure the next 8 dreadful chemo treatments?" I went to my appointment a couple days later and immediately asked the doctor before she could explain, in depth, the pictures I was looking at, "Am I done now?!" Her response hit me hard, "No, we will need to finish the rest of the treatments." My spirits were shattered. Oh, I was wanting her to just tell me I was done. Heck, I would have even loved the thought of 4 more treatments rather than 8. But, Nope. 8 more treatments, no ifs, ands or buts about it. I couldn't get over it. People were texting, calling, emailing me nonstop the next few days. Words of support. encouragement. praise. thankfulness. and I accepted all of them with a smile, but secretly I was pouting. When someone would notice I was down they would ask what was wrong and my response would be honest, "I know I should be happy, but I was hoping I was done, ya know?"

How dare I. I am a product of the world I live in and like so many of us are. I went through treatment for 4 weeks and wasn't satisfied with the results. Results that say, for now, I am cancer free. It wasn't like God made me wait 40 years after delivering me from Egypt .. it was 4 weeks! How can I so quickly turn my back on Him? How can I overlook this massive miracle that he been performed on ME! He hasn't allowed me to endure any of the side effects the doctors told me I would expereience. I have been able to do everything I did before I started treatments. I have it easier than most people that go through chemo treatments and I still find myself thinking that i's not good enough. What?!

God has again answered my prayer. "Open my ears, eyes, heart and mind." I have drawn away from God over the past several weeks. Not on purpose. Not because I wanted to. Just because that's what happened. I got out of my old habit of reading His word every morning, spending time with him to ensure our relationship grows. He is always there, waiting to talk and I have just made excuses why I didn't have time. No wonder he gets frustrated with us - just like he did with the Israelites. We see these miracles He performs and then act as if it is normal, like it is just a part of every day life and then almost instantly forget about them. Well, its not what is supposed to happen. They are miracles. And we need to make sure we see them. Experience them. Not take them for granted. And give Him the glory for what He is doing. 

This brings me to my point of this whole post. As I reflect on this past year, it is painfully obvious that I am guilty of over overlooking miracles. Not allowing myself to experience His miracles and definitely taking them for granted. My New Year's Resolution is to go back to Him. Walk with him. Grow closer to Him. Allow him to live in me. Open my ears, eyes, heart and mind to Him so that He can guide me as I live here as this earth. And to be able to see these miracles, His blessings and His hand in everything we do. 

Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.