Thursday, March 31, 2016

On the way to Ferry

Donating anything brings new life.

I mean anything.

A N Y T H I N G

Holding tight to things no longer used clogs the system of giving.

Sunday, March 6, 2016, I did a routine scroll on my facebook newsfeed. This normally consists of two scrolls. Long enough seeing what others are doing. Since before Christmas, I pledged not to overspend my time on Facebook.

The first post I came upon that afternoon stopped me in my tracks. No need continue scrolling. A mother posted in a closed group, Tessa Fibrolamellar Journey, "the call came". For the past two years the mother, Dawn, posted updates in regards to her daughter on the liver transplant list. The family lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Canada to me is exciting enough!

Vancouver.

Yea, that's exciting.

Tessa's journey consisted of battling liver cancer, Fibrolamellar. The same type I battled 16 years ago. Tessa is a teen. Age 15. Her mother and I met in the closed group, Fibrolamellar of the World Unite, a couple years ago. One year, I drummed up individual blog post bringing awareness for the month of October. For "our" type of liver cancer. Dawn happily jumped on board sharing her daughter, Tessa's, story with me. Although, I've not had direct in-person contact with Dawn and her daughter, they were eager to share her story. That is one thing about the Fibro family. We stick together.

You can see the post from October 2014 HERE.

"THE CALL CAME. On our way to ferry!!!!!!!!!!!!"

My eyes bolted over to the comments. Reading everyone's comments was beautiful. Joyful. Encouraging. Praising. As I continued reading confirmation came. Several comments down someone ask if it was for a transplant. Dawn replied, "yes."

The most exciting three letters.

Y E S

Quickly, I screenshot the original post. When I posted the picture on my Instagram and Facebook page words of celebration indicated the powerful moment for this family. I even shared Tessa's story with each of my family members. Prayers. Stories like Tessa's you know is all God. His timing is perfect.

From there it was hours before the next update came.

At midnight, she was rolled to the E.R.

The next morning, I checked for an update. Things went as planned. Hours progress in recovery. Then ICU. The transplant was done. Just like that! Done.

Until, late Monday afternoon, Tessa's mother urgently updated. She was rushed back to the E.R. Test results showed the new liver wasn't functioning properly. Her blood was clotting. Her body was rejecting the new liver.  My heart began racing. As I am sure her mother's was. Being in the Fibrolamellar group for nearly 5 years now, I've seen every twisting story. Prayers relaxed me to a state of calmness.

The next time an update came in Dawn basically stated Tessa was placed on top national priority for a new (second) liver. Until then she was in a coma. Life support would carry her until a new liver was found. By midnight the update was a new liver transplant was underway. Already that fast, a new liver.

The next midnight Tessa was heading in the right direction. Early test, blood work, and a sonogram indicated this liver was a good match. The breathing tube came out. Bath in bed. Tessa even asked for her mascara. Afternoon, PT had her walking. WALKING.

Sister was on the road to recovery. Such a brave girl. She was soon moved out of ICU. A big plus.

I don't know if you've ever been in ICU personally. I have. It's the loneliest place a person can be. Her mother even stated nights in ICU were hard on Tessa. She was anxious at night.

This past week, 15 days into her new liver, Tessa was discharged from the hospital.

Tessa and her mother will stay in a YANA apartment while she visits the hospital weekly for regular check-ups.

Tessa story is so inspiring. She kicked liver cancer to the curb.
(Update: since starting the writing process of this blog post Tessa's back in the hospital. She had a great Easter weekend with family. Then became ill. A few minor problems are being worked through. She is a fighter. This goes to show having a transplant isn't an easy task at all making her story even more encouraging. Here's the message I left for her: Please tell her she is a true hero. Brave. Strong. Courageous. Young. Lady. Who will overcome each step of this to tell the world what she has endured and lives will be changed one by one by her strength. She is an amazing trooper. My heart goes out to her. Lifting her up in the most encouraging way. Cheering. My. Tessa. On!!!!! #mighty #healer #strong #powerful)

Please pray with me as her and her family wait patiently as her body adjust to her new liver.

In honor of her, I'd like to ask everyone to be an organ donor. It's easy. Save a life.

Not sure what to do. Watch this video. Click here.

Donate today! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Everyday Life Everyday Passions

Find ways to fit passions into everyday life.

Start by asking, "Is the to-do list more of things for family or more of passions?"

Asking hard questions, like such, sometimes can be a hard task. Further more, it can be an awesome time finding the quietness in daily converses with God regarding our questions. This can be done at the workplace, driving, standing in the coffee line or doing laundry. He speaks to us in more places than we'd like to think or give Him credit. Even in the shower, I often hear His voice.

Ultimately, conversing with Him provides answers to orignal questions. Questions often searched for answers along the way. Listen. Instead of blaming others around for why things aren't going the way we think.

One recent morning, I turned my iPad on while working on a small painting. My time was allotted in hopes to finish the project. Even though the buyer suggested "no hurry". I was in a hurry. Hurry is how I am productive. It's how I get the job done. The Ipad allowed me to listen to encouraging messages pretaining to writing while I painted. These messages are in a closed paid group called Compel offered by Lysa TerKeurst twice a year.

The night before, I jotted a to-do list. On the list painting was included with lots of other household family related things and other passion related things. Such as blogging, writing, editing, more painting etc.

When I noticed my time painting was up, I hurried downstairs from my studio. Each step, I heard God speaking LOUD and clear.

"It's more passion than family."

He was talking about my to-do list for that particularly day.

What! If I were using emoji's, I'd click on the face with two big open eyes, like what?!

The list laid on the end of the kitchen counter. I gradually walked towards it. My eyes wandered down the list. He was right. The list was more about my passions than my family. It clearly was right in front of my eyes. My hand pushed the list away. Backing away, I walked to my closet where I found my house shoes. Gosh, that sounds so old ladyish, "house shoes". But, I am serious, I went to get the shoes. They are tennis shoes. I wear these shoes only in my house. So that's why they are called house shoes.

While listening to His voice more, I begin doing household duties for the family.

He thanked me for listening. He told me, "I know you already know all this. I wanted to spend time with you."

Is He requesting your time?
Do you recognize His voice?

Listen while:
folding clothes
doing dishes
cleaning out pantry
making beds
going to the grocery
driving to work
on your lunch break
making lunches

My encouragement for you and I both, make our houses a home, make our houses a safe palace for others to come home. Balancing this with passion's can be tricky. I have no doubt He wants to carry out our personal passions. His quiet still voice helps balance each area of life.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Parents Are Great Leaders

Raising our own children brings life to our parents were always right.

My husband took the Savannah Street exit. When we approached the end of the exit, he turned right. This street eventually turned into McCluer Road.

I sat in the passenger seat pointing out several memories:

My dad's friend lived here.
The convenient stores on either corner.
The street where my friend and her parents lived.
Another street a friend lived on before her family built a new house.
The ball field where I grew up.
My sisters friends house.
Another friends house.
Family members house.
A new neighborhood.
A stop sign added since childhood.

Soon the long road, McCluer, came to an end. Our car made a complete stop. Across the street, a yellow sign wedged into the ground. The sign had a double black arrow on it. One way pointed left, one way pointed right. My husband turned right on to Siwell Road. I looked at the street corner as we pass. Home of the red fire station I knew from childhood. Now, it seems not so bright red. As if bleach ran down the sides. Then he turned to the immediate right. This lead us on to the campus of the school I graduated from, Hillcrest.

Meanwhile, we parked in the paved parking lot once gravel. It was chilly. We gather our things before heading into the gymnasium. Where the piece of property once only held a barn with an open pasture. However, my heart was warm on that Saturday morning. Mainly, knowing my daughter was playing against the school responsible for shaping my life.

This was not the first time back on this campus. My oldest daughter who is now graduated from high school played against Hillcrest in basketball and softball. We even attended a football game one Friday night in support of my daughters team. Each visit on the campus was fun. Fun to see my life progress, see my kids progress but then there was the community surrounding the school. The community was not progressing. Instead, it's seemed to be on a back hill slope.

Since the day of the last ball game, I attended 4 weeks ago, I received news the school was in finical stress. Even a possible closing of the school floated in rumor form. Only brief details were brought to my attention. Enough for me to gather something was going on. I did not need full details.

Here's where my mind spins:

Mad, mad the school I graduated from might no longer be a school. My graduating class celebrated our 20-year class reunion in October 2015. Seeing the people Hillcrest helped shape and mold was awesome.

When I was in 2nd grade the school I attended, McCluer Academy, closed. McCluer closed and Hillcrest bought it in 1986. Hillcrest operated from two location. One on the corner of McCluer and Siwell Road, home of the junior high and high school campus. The other was located on Sykes and Wheatley. This was home of the elementary campus. In the late 90's the elementary was moved to new construction at the Siwell location. Wheatley sold.

Three years ago the school my oldest daughter attended merged with another school under a new name, Hartfield. The transition was a hard. Hard in the sense my daughters school she was about to graduate from was closing. I watched kids/families fumble in all sorts of directions. It was heartbreaking to the core. Kids stopping by my house crying. Kids in the hallways crying. People's anger and rage escalated. People walked away. People stayed. Honesty helps heal. And hard times helps us grow. We don't always crave growth. Although, God's best interest is to grow His kingdom. The school is now flourishing. It took obedient hearts walking through deep waters. Seeing His work first hand is amazing.

The community surrounding Hillcrest is falling. From my viewpoint, it started near my childhood home, almost 20 minutes from the school. Near the Metro Center, now closed. Near the Walmart, which recently closed. These closings make crime push in different directions. This makes families not wanting to raise their families in the school area. So then you see attending numbers drop in the schools. No wonder Hillcrest is in finical stress, right. I am only being honest as an outsider. We all know the area is declining.

For "Pete's sake" a man was murdered. On the same long road my family traveled the Saturday morning for the basketball game. It was three weeks later, he was in his yard doing yard work. He was 85 years old. Come on, not a place I'd want to raise my family. Makes me sick to even fathom. Yet alone the family of the inspiring older gentle. I actually know the family and somewhere down the line one of their family members had a child with a family member of mine, so basically they are family. The reward raised in the where about's who committed this violent act. My prayer is the person who is guilty will turn in themselves. When they do may the Lord smack him/her over the head waking their feeble soul. May lives be changed, hearts would be healed right down to the core where hatred, meanness, unlife likeness take place. We as a nation must stand for each other's protection. We've got to cry out for hearts of these precious people who are uneducated. Not understanding the difference between right and wrong. Not understanding how to live a healthy life free from crime and violence. Where did we go wrong as a society? A mess like this takes place in broad daylight on the streets we grew up on. People run out of the country, people run to other states doing mission work. Hello my friends how bout in our own great state. How bout in our own great community where we were raised.  We can't back down. The more we let others push us out of our communities the more they will move towards us. How bout stop. Stay. Meet them right where we are being the hands and feet of Jesus. Take them in. Minister to them. Mentor them. Be a friend. Let's rise up. Let's show them how to really live. It starts right where we are today, where we shop, where we attend church, where we bank, pump gas, the streets we live on etc. It's called love my friends. Love. Let's love like Jesus. The Lord is stirring in my soul. I am speaking to my own heart here as well.

So you see, my experience in the private schools is broad. My experience and knowledge of the surrounding community is broad. Here's the thing, other private schools in declining areas are still open running full fledge. Think Jackson Academy, First Pres, Saint Andrews etc. This brings me to my biggest point: tuition alone is not what keeps a school running. It's fundraising. And connection with Alumi. Something Hillcrest has lacked over the last however many years. If your heart is prompted to helping the schools needs in it's current state that's awesome. Keep reading.

One thing I can't help to keep thinking about is losing a school means losing an opposing team to play. My prayer is surrounding leaders in opposing schools, churches, families, friends and the Alumni of Hillcrest will find a way to keep the school going. God knows. We must listen to His calling.

Here's my prayerfully considered viewpoint projection long term if Hillcrest closes now or ever:

-surrounding church attendance will drop.
-homes will become empty.
-homes will fill with declining attendants.
-leaves bigger gaps for crime.
-opposing school will have one less team to play.
-businesses will close.

You may not have graduated from Hillcrest, nor have children or grandchild who attended. But you could have a child or a grandchild who attends another private school who needs opposing teams to play. If you never attended a private school or never plan to send your children to one, God could have in mind for you or one of your family members life to be touched by a co-worker, a friend or even a spouse from a private school. Keeping these types of schools up and running is healthy for all of us. Not just the one attending.

Life moves on, you realize a new meaning to life raising your own kids. Especially now one of my kids is actually graduated school. The impact on her life attending a private Christian school let's me truly see the value of having schools like such around. My parents were right.

Since starting the writing of this blog post, I've received a firm confirmation:

Hillcrest is NOT closing.

Praise God!

But Hillcrest does need our help. I ask you prayerfully consider donating to the fundraiser the Hillcrest Alumni is hosting for 90 days, March 1st - June 1st.

Grace, grace, grace...

Let's help Hillcrest raise $100,000  < Click HERE for information on this fundraiser.

Oh, that's a big number. Friends, I truly believe God has it on a lot of hearts to reach out a helping hand. Helping others heals hearts while growing communities one dollar at a time.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Think outside the box:

maybe your family can only donate $10, $20, $30+
your youth group
your small group
your current school
in honor of your grandchild
a portion of sales from your small business
ask a restaurant to donate a night of sales
send letters of encouragement
pray for the school
share on your facebook

When you've done everything you can do, that's when God will step in doing what you can't. 2 Corinthians 12:10

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. Isaiah 40:31

Be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead. 1 Peter 1:6

If you are a parent pat yourself on the back. You are a great leader. No matter where your child attends school.

Helping a friend heals hearts!

Let's do this!

We can do this!

Please!

Donate!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Welcome March

Realizing your growth as an artist calls for a free gift.

As we walk into the first day of March, I have something for everyone.

I am so glad you are reading this.
I am so glad you read my regular blog post.
I am so glad you've watched me over the years grow.

My thank you is you having FREE access to my online art class I filmed in 2013.

It's Spring related so I wanted to share the entire month of March.

The classroom is set up like my regular blog. So if you are a regular reader of my blog then you are familiar already. The class will be easy to navigate. Use the password below each video to gain access to the video lessons. The only one not password protected is the first one. It's been fun looking back over this class seeing how I've grown as an artist and realizing my studio looks different too.

With Spring break around the corner, this would be a great backup plan or front line plan. It's great for all ages. May you're needing something to watch as free entertainment or want to get to know me better this is your moment. You can do the activities or not. Totally up to you. Hope you enjoy seeing what it's like inside my classroom.

A few things since the filming of this class in 2013:

I have new pillows on my front porch swing.
My husband built a new table for my studio.
I no longer have the inspiration board.
The wall with the mirror has more of my artwork hanging.
Sean Lowe is married now.
I haven't been back to Vegas.
I started writing my second book.

Filming this class helped me overcome some major depression I was battling.

I can not thank you enough for being you.

It's people like you who make my creating possible to move forward.

It's because of people like you platforms grow.

This is a $39 dollar value.

Enjoy!

Please share!

Click here > March FREE online art class