Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Final Hours of Thankfulness

I witnessed my friend be like Jesus to her sweet mom today.  Rubbing her feet so tenderly.   Ninety years and now slowly saying goodbye as the final breath is near but unknown.  The beautiful picture of love and care and respect for a dear woman who even in the midst of her current state is thankful for the little things.  Her thankful book sits nearby of sentences that were longer weeks ago,  and now small thoughts and words has she weakens... but still a heart of gratitude.  Her chair, her food, her care takers, her family, friends, grandchildren, the sunshine, her final earthly home, the doctor, her sweet daughters, feeling loved and cared for.  Today in a brief moment of being awake..
 "I'm a blessed woman even now"   
My friend and I talked about what we were thankful for in the midst of this trial and emotional time of saying goodbye to her mom.  There are many things.  
 We talked about if we'd rather go quick or know we were going to die and have time to say all the things we want to say to our loved ones... we didn't have an answer as both sting.
I drove away and cried for my friend knowing these moments are precious and time stands still as she waits.. watching the mother she holds so close to her heart only get weaker and moving closer to Heaven.  I love her mom, I will miss her.  I hate cancer and I hope and pray when I'm in my last days I will be as grateful, thankful, kind and gracious as I've witnessed these last few weeks.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Burpee Quest

So I found this little list during Christmas break and thought maybe I'd give it a try for the month of January and see what would happen.  I'm completely not in shape, so after the first set of 30 jumping jacks I was heavy breathing and wishing I would have checked into the restroom first.. onward. 
Can't do a push up, so went to the wall to do 12 wall push ups.  
High knees were more 1/4 knees 
Who even knows what a burbee is,  but after the high knees I thought I might know.. but then I googled it.. can't do it.. did 2 mock Burpees  (who made this name up? ) 
Bicycle crunches were easy but most likely unflattering 
30 squats-got that
more communication with the wall (gosh I have acquaintances with this same feeling) 
Jump Squats.. Easy! Ugly.. but Easy (former volleyball player so it's a block.. I feel at home)
Jumping Jacks- refreshing and I'm reminded of 6th grade PE
Those "high" knees again.. done
Wall Sit for 1 minute -OMGSH flashbacks to basketball training
REST 1 Minute.. text my husband to gloat, was honest I might need a medic, and was only going to to do this 2x today so I could also accomplish other life skills. 
Really glad that Burpee thing was only on there once in the list. 

I'll let you know how things shape up and not in a visual way just phonetically, and no silly, that's not me in the picture. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

OH Facebook Why I Hate You and Love You Part 3

Love:  Here's why I love Facebook.. 

Love in this category should result in a snarky comment of 
"Well why don't you Marry it"

In my previous posts Part 1 & 2 which you can read if you click Here  I talked about about the reason I hate Facebook. Hate is kind of a heavy word, I don't really hate it.. I hate evil, Facebook is not Evil.   Maybe annoyed with some things is a better word but I thought to bring it back full swing I'd post why I do really love Facebook.

I love seeing people enjoying life!
I LOVE the connections that are made that would have never been made in the natural world.

I Love the friends from LONG AGO that have popped up to say Hi.

I love the people that I didn't know before very well only to find common ground now

I love seeing who knows who and making connections

I love that in times of desperate need...
we can ask what we can do to help.

I LOVE the transparency of friends and asking for help

I love that we can pray for each other and encourage one another

I love that we can quickly find someone and send a quick message
I LOVE that we can watch your children grow up and not just a once a 
year Christmas Card if 
we are even lucky enough to be on the list.

I love that we get an opportunity to share other's pain and joys and respond as friends do.. 

I love that it can change lives and alter courses!!

These are all good things that without Social Media may not have happened.    That's why I love Facebook.    Facebook allowed me to step into someone's life and be part of a miracle, I have loved seeing faces of Childhood Friends, High School Friends, College Friends, teachers, pastors, neighbors ect.   I love being connected with a wonderful community of people that I know many of them in time of need would be at my doorstep... it's happened.   Thank you Facebook for getting us out of our shells and while we are in this generation of computers and devices  we are connected to each other.  Now go take someone to lunch and see them face to face :)  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Oh Facebook Why I Hate You Why I Love You Part 2

Disclaimer: I write satire most of the time.. I have learned these many lessons myself.. I'm not pointing my finger at any one person just relating what I feel and hear from others in general.  If this strikes a cord with you personally than it might be something you need to deal with in your own heart.  It's just observations people... just observations.. just go with it and then take a walk. 

Part 2 of a 3 part series. 


Me On Vacation 2014 
I've heard and seen the good bad and the ugly.   I totally get that it hurts to see the group of friends you thought were your friends all together smiling in Hawaii together with their skinny bodies (that you've seen transformed week by week on your feed) holding up their drinks when you struggle with alcohol and all sporting their "Jamberry nails"  I get it!   Yes it's hard to see all the pictures on Father's day if you don't have a Dad, Mother's day if your mom has passed,  Sisters Rock day when you didn't get to have a sister, anniversary's, new ultrasounds,  new cars, houses, pets, plastic surgery, yet another championship from the sporty family (as your kid is sitting on the couch yelling at some video game or and eating lard).   You see the tension.. it causes people to hate Facebook because it points out what is lacking in our lives if just for a moment, a feeling of I am less than.

You are not less than!! You have a different story and one that can't be compared to others.   I know it's hard to stay connected online when you see things that you wish had transpired in your life differently, or that you didn't get, it's a constant reminder.  I have those things in my life.

When I step back from the painful in  my face "this is not your life" , I realize that my jealousy of someone else's good thing is an issue that is in my heart!! It would be the same if I was jealous of someone's fancy house I drive by.. it's not their issue it's mine!!   If we can't rejoice in other people's good things in life then we are only feeding the monster inside of us that is discontent or of past un-dealt with feelings.  When I see that group of friends that a singe of jealousy comes up inside of "wow that would be nice", or a group that I used to be a part of but for some reason the invites stopped,   I began to ask the hard questions.   What in my life is lacking or a hurt that I am not moving on from.

For those who seem to have that "Perfect Life" (whatever that is)  be happy for them, they don't know they are over posting!!   You know that it's not all rosy all the time, they are human too and maybe their fun will inspire you to go do something different or fun or think outside the box.

I know that there are just plain hard things to see so here are a few tips I think would help the Facebook community of posters, stalkers, pokers, likers and on the fence haters.


1.  Think about others but don't let it cripple you from posting at all.    People love seeing your pictures but keep in mind if you post your raging party and leave a close friends (or what they thought was a close friendship) out, they are going to see it and be hurt.  Just have your stupid party and enjoy your friends and don't post it.  Nobody really cares.. except the people you just dumped.   (by the way you know there is a filter for "share with only these people")  If you want to share your pics with that group then you can do that without the world needing to see it.  Sorry if that sounds harsh but think about it.

2.  There are days that maybe staying off Facebook is better for our hearts.  Just don't go there where Holidays produce picture after picture of something you miss.   I've been there it can hurt and it's time to focus on other stuff and be thankful for other things in your life.

3.  Vacations, I love to see where you go!! If you go on 4 or more vacations a year,  please explain on the 5th vacation how you do it.  I mean I  think that might help... For instance:   Hey I received an inheritance! or Hey we Charged another tropical vacation!  Hey we are heading to the China because we love fortune cookies and we've been to every other country and never work!   "Hey we get up every day and work our tails off so we are vacationing again!!... Get a job or two or three so you can too!   Really we onlookers just need one and that's our deal, but some explanation would be helpful so we can get there.

4.  You don't have to be friends with everyone!! If they stir up turmoil in your heart block them.  If their posts are annoying unfollow.   There is a little arrow on the right side of each post in the feed that you can choose your own destination with that persons post and future posts.. just saying.  I know I have probably been blocked or unfriended.. it happens move on.

5.  Don't be my friend ONLY to solicit your online party or business.   This is a no brainer people..   I will speak no further.

6. Don't over post about one thing.  It's great and important you are doing blah blah blah.. and I know it's important to let people know you did blah blah blah  but MIX IT UP!!!  Throw in a cat picture for Heaven's sake!!!  Just be you and be real and all that will fall in to place naturally, don't force it down people's throats.    This goes for business, kids, pets, news, political issues, faith, reposts and shares, ALL of it!!

7.  Hard lesson of not exploiting our children:   I have been GUILTY myself.  I humbly say I have learned and regretted some of my posts in the past.   If I post something about my kids or pictures that are goofy I get their permission first.   Their whole life does not need to be displayed.  Again I stand guilty of this in the past and I stand firm with asking them first as a filter for my own over posting parental mistakes and what I think is "cute".

8.  Be able to walk away without announcing it as if you are divorcing everyone.  Most people think that's super dumb, you know the "break up status post".  We all know you will be back when you want something or realize that you've missed a bunch of important events.  I mean Facebook is like not checking your mail box back in the day.   It's where people are and where things are known and where you can interact on a different level.   Walk away but don't be so dramatic.. geesh!  (Again guilty in my formative FB years)

9. Sharing Links about False News  So if something seems off it probably is.. go check out before you stand behind it.   People get all freaked out about things and then come to find out it wasn't even real, it was just some bored person trying to get click throughs... Please Please stop sharing these ridiculous stories and giving these people fuel.

10.  The Chain Posts:  We've seen them.. If you truly believe this than post it on your wall, like it, share it if you truly love Jesus.   Please Stop.. We shouldn't have to follow those stupid rules and sharing posts that publicly make other people roll their eyes.   There is not magic in any of those posts.  God knows my heart and I should be living a life that reflects my faith not have to use scare tatics on a Facebook photo, that probably is collecting data on everyone who clicks on it.. by the way.

I can't think of any more right now, I'm sure they will come.  I think the best thing is to work on loving others, not being jealous of what we don't have, be considerate of other's ideas and thoughts, like what we like, block what disturbs us. and by all means if you really don't like being there don't be and don't make everyone else feel shamed for liking it.  Run your race, I'll hand you water when you need it.   I won't be booing you holding up my flag that reads "gluttony rocks" just because I don't like running! I may not do it well or understand why others would want to do such a painful thing or want to, but Seriously.... if I choose not to run I better not be complaining to others about it or sad when all my friends are in shape and look good in their skinny jeans!! (I however unfriend runners).

 Stay tuned for Post 3 about why I LOVE and think Facebook is a good thing.  

Please feel free to comment below and let's get the dialogue going. 

If you didn't read Part 1 here is the link.  PART ONE 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

OH Facebook Why I Hate You and Love You Part 1

Disclaimer:   This is satire humor it is not directed at any one person.  I am sure that a reader will find themselves in some of these examples but it is meant for humor and to pause and think.  If it strikes a cord in the reader that is too painful then perhaps there are some issues that need to be dealt with.  Close your computer and go for a walk, it just doesn't matter that much.  I have made many Facebook mistakes along the way and have learned and had to adjust.  Laughing at oneself is the best way to overcome things and make life more fun.   


We all know one or two people that "refuse" to use Facebook.  They will let you know why they hate it so much, how much time it takes up and how that is just NOT what they want to do with their time.  That statement is meant to make all of us regular Facebookers feel like life slackers. 
The 2nd group is the person who friends you and then does nothing, or rather nothing visible. They just lurk behind the scenes late at night stalking photos and pages.  I'll call them Facebook Stalkers or how about Facebalkers.  These are the ones that NEVER comment, NEVER post,  they "Don't like Facebook Much" and will make you feel like you have issues because you check it daily.. hourly and often every 2 minutes.  They will go on and on with what a waste of time it is and how they just don't see it's usefulness, UNTIL the day comes when they need it.  THEN they pop up PUBLICLY and very visibly to sell their couch, or awkwardly post on someone's wall a very personal message something like " Hey ____ I saw you that you got implants, you look great!" you know who you are. CONFESS!!  Even further Facebalkers will come out of hiding when they want you to use your sphere of influence to make an announcement for their cause!!? Something like this.. "Hey, so I see you have quite a lot of friends and connections on Facebook.   I know I have mocked your usage before but will you post that I'm having a Garage sale next week?" Wait.. what??  I'm sorry Queen Latifah I have spent years and years building meaningful social media relationships, liking numerous pictures of puppies, giving candy crush lives, being "happy" for many friends' tropical vacations and new boat pictures and viewing slide shows of people's entire year in pictures set to music while weeping.  Keeping up with my sphere of people whom some I can't recall how we even met, but we are close now!   Go spend some time clicking, posting, liking and commenting and then we'll talk about your bake sale on my wall.    Facebalkers are just one level up from those who open accounts and after several logins STILL have a shadow for a profile.. (that's not creepy).   They don't become really active until they realize one day that they cannot get a hold of anyone anymore.   They finally pick a profile picture which is the person looking very confused into the computer camera.  Furthermore and maybe the worst part of a new user is they proceed to "like" EVERY picture from 2006-2015! That action then causes those pictures to pop up in the main feed of all my friends and gives me 1000 "like" notifications. Which I guess is thoughtful, but the worst part of that is then the Facebalkers finally comment on my picture from 2006 and say "Hey you got your hair cut and lost 35lbs!.. Wow you look young!!!"  um yeah that was nearly 10 years ago..    Sigh..   And don't even ask me what poke is.. and for the record I still love you person out there, it just needed to be said. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why I Am Afraid to Blog Again

To write or NOT to write that is the question...    I am pondering this morning.. pondering about why, why write a blog.. why I wrote and started this blog years ago.  It's not that I don't have a lot to say or express.. oh there are many thoughts whirling around this scattered brain.   It's why. 

What is the motivation.
Is it worth it
who reads it 
does it matter if it is just one
what if I look dumb
I will offend someone... it always happens.. there is always one. two. 20?
Am I scared? 
Should that stop me? 

But I'm scared ... that's it I'm scared.. I'm afraid my thoughts will be judged, stomped on, mercifully torn apart in the world we live in of lopsided grace of free thought and speech. 
I've been hurt before, my heart aches and my heart is wounded from being transparent and trusting others with my thoughts and life happenings. 

So I guess I have put up a wall of protection and stopped writing the fun, the good, the ugly and thus why this blog has sat with sporadic posts, and I'm not sure why I'm getting that tug on my heart to start back up.

But there you have it please feel free to comment and share. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fathers Day Fun

Great Time together celebrating the man of the house.  Portland is so amazing with all it's biker friendly paths.  We started at the South Waterfront on this gorgeous night.   Following along the river to the cross over at the biker friendly steel bridge.  On the east side you get the beautiful views of the city and the sunset.   Headed up to our favorite food car outdoor area for dinner, and then back over the Hawthorne bridge.   Ice Cream was the next stop at Little River Cafe along the water, and a nice 1/2 mile back to the car from there.   PERFECT night!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Cried in Church Today... Again

Today I cried in church.. again.  I hate crying in public.. I hate crying in general. I hate the ugly cry that comes when I'm trying to hold it back and the headache that comes after.   The exhaustion.  I am not one of those people that cry and can hide it.   I don't want to cheapen my emotional feeling today letting you know that I also cry at TV reunions and am a mess at giveaways like Oprah used to do and Ellen does.  I'm so happy for those people, it makes me so happy I cry.    My tears today were not those same tears that come in those tv moments.   I say that because in church I was a teary mess.   I am convicted, I'm touched by the Word of God, the confirmation, the way that my church does not preach the comfortable, does not let us feel good in our current state, encourages to go deeper and wrestle with ideas of the Word of God and the current state of our hearts and the things we allow.  I love that it is not sugar coated.  I love that it is a message of NOW, not tomorrow.. come NOW, make changes you need to now, don't settle.
My daughter sitting next to me asked me at the end "why are you crying"... I did not answer.  Why can't she understand why I'm crying!!  Why is it weird that God would touch our hearts so deeply we would cry.   I didn't have to explain my tears I shouldn't have to explain my tears.     I turn to a friend who knows the tears knows the emotion of God's stirring.

A Chronic Twist

Life sure is interesting isn't it?  I really can't believe what the last 6 months have held.  It's true you never know what tomorrow holds.   I found out really quick that I truly am not in charge of my life and my days.   Scrolling down a few posts you will read about "the shift" where I transition from my heart world of music to the head world of business.   Now I know that the heart and head must be in the same breath.  I realized one can't live without the other or one will suffer.  As I was obedient to the Lord to follow in my husbands footsteps and to bring more consistent income to our family, my heart was happy but there was still a little ache of what was missing.  I know God created a musical entity in me for a purpose.  Where that fit in this new phase I have watched and waited and found that it fit perfectly!! There have been these wonderful moments where I got to place my guitar over my head and step up to the microphone and lead a group of people in praise songs to God.  It can happen I can still do what my soul was made for.    I remember the sting when I had my first morning of leading worship and my son said "I thought you weren't going to do that anymore?".   It stung because I knew he was watching my every move and word, knew that he saw me place God's good gifts in a pile in the back corner, and wondered if he was worried I would get too involved to quick again and he wouldn't see me.    I told him that day that music will always be a part of me.. it's what God placed in my heart and what spiritually I'm supposed to do for His kingdom.

Just as my head and heart came together I was thrown for a loop.  It's these times that I don't know if the enemy was messing with me or God was teaching me something new, or both.   All I know that God never wastes anything it always turns to good weather we see it or we have to wait to see the good in things.  

I woke up one day in November and I literally couldn't walk because my sciatic nerve were pressing down so hard on my muscles.  I couldn't straighten up, I couldn't do anything but lay down.  I thought it would be over in a few days but it got worse and then worse and finally I was just in bed.  We just had changed churches and I wanted to be involved,  I just was getting my first real estate deal, I had 3 awesome musical events coming in December that I desperately wanted to be healthy for.. and I couldn't get out of bed.   As days turned to weeks and into December I went to several forms of treatment knowing I was dealing with my lower back but not knowing what it was really.   As my week of 3 events was approaching and I was getting a little reprieve my friends surrounded around me to pray that I would be healed and get back to "life" and be able to do these events.  The next day as I left my first acupuncture apt and my praying friends I began to feel better.  So much better that on my way to my first event early December I thought I was completely healed! I was able to hold my guitar standing, no pain, worship and thankful to God.  I leave that event, so charged up and  walk into my house and it was as if every muscle and nerve decided to come back and say "NOT SO FAST SISTER"  my body was once again weak and painful.  Event 2 and 3 were not as demanding on my body, a lot of sitting and a lot of Tylenol and pain cream. I remember a friend seeing me at church where I couldn't stand that week before and I was crying from pain.  She said she'd pray for me... After church I was pain free standing and walking normal... I texted her to give her the news and thank her for praying which she said was through that whole service. But sadly, when that week of events was over I got much worse.   

Why am I now like this?  Why is God allowing this? I begin to doubt that I might ever be the same.   Week after week the stress adding to my husband and family.  My personality changing because of the agonizing pain that wouldn't stop.  The long nights of nerve pain that wouldn't go away.  The world moving onward, celebrating Christmas time, parties, baking, shopping, decorating... I was left out of it all.   Yet there were still things I had to do, work things, giving rides, trying to find ways to function.   I hit rock bottom one night out of pain and discouragement.  I felt I had tried everything, I didn't want surgery, I didn't know what was exactly wrong until I had an MRI which confirmed what my chiropractor thought.. bulging disc, compression, stenosis.. twisting of the lower spine.. OUCH! What I thought would be a normal adjustment for my lower back where I would be on my way.. turned into 3 months of pain and debilitation.  Finally after getting gentle spine adjustments to relieve the nerve pain I began to turn a corner.   What a awesome day it was finally at the end of January to stand once again.  To be able to stand and cook a meal, to do dishes, to look people in the eye.
It's amazing what life holds.  I don't fully understand why this happened, but I know that it was for a reason.  I understand even more than I did before a glimpse of what people suffer through in chronic pain.  I understand giving up.  I understand feeling lonely, dark, hopeless.  I got a glimpse of the charity or lack of that people feel with a disability.   I understand why someone in chronic pain or in a wheel chair might be overweight, why comfort food feels good.   I wonder if God's timing to take me out of the game was for me just to get knocked off my feet to appreciate when I am in good health.  To not waste time.  To be more purposeful and thankful.  To wait on the Lord.  To trust more and help more.  To not take health for granted.   The timing of this and our transition to a new church family was interesting.  I wonder if God knew me well enough that I would want to dive right in and get involved with church activities.  Meet people, work in ministry, act on the stirrings of my heart.. only to sideline me and cause me to wait and watch.   I don't want to be sidelined in order to learn a lesson of waiting on the Lord.  How often have I done things on my own strength and will and not waited only to get myself into a mess.   As I gently work my back into health still, I am gently navigating where God will have me in this new place.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Piano


The Piano

Today we received a beautiful gift.  One that we were anticipating but didn't realized how beautiful it would be.  This old piano was delivered to our home this afternoon.   What wonderful people who just wanted to give it to a good home that appreciated it's beauty and charm.   It's keys are worn, a little cracked, one even missing a piece of it's ivory,  but the beauty remains.  The sound that it makes fills our home with music and as the strings behind the aged wood begin to produce sound it brings me back to my childhood.  A similar piano to the one I learned on as a child.  One that brought cousins together to sing melodies and harmonies.  One that gave joy to my fingers and ears as the beautiful melodies rang out.   I sit down at this old piano and want to know it's story.  What hands have played lovingly on these same ivory keys.  What homes did it fill with the melodies and harmonies of yesterday?   A treasured gift and a reminder that although things are chipped and cracked and warn on the outside, the inside is what matters and the beauty if reflects.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Making the Shift

Courtney Spears
Hasson Company Realtor 

The shift has happened..   It is hard to steer the ship a different direction without causing a little bit of a wake.   That wake happened in my musical heart as I knew it was time to shift my desires and put my efforts in a place that would be more supportive of my family and husband.   About 9 years ago I sat down in our living room asking for his support as music was pouring out of my soul.    At that time we both decided to give it 3 years to see what would transpire.  Well 9 years later and many amazing musical experiences behind me, it truly has been such a gift to be able to do what I love and grow as a musician/singer.  

In July,  I decided it was time to cancel August unless it had to do with spending time with my family or friends.  I needed to organize my thoughts, my house, my direction,  and hopefully in the end have peace about the shift and what that looked like.    I can say that even though August is not yet complete, I have complete peace.  I have felt so much freedom without the "have to be here and there" it has made August seem like 60 days! It has given me time to think clearly and not be swayed one way or the other by being occupied by what I'm used to doing and what is comfortable.  

Music has defined me in many ways the last 9 years.  It defined what I was striving for, where I would spend my extra time, the opportunities, the frustrations the joys and laughter and tears.   I loved it, I hated it, it scared me, it moved me, it sometimes disappointed me and then often would bring rich blessings.  It was hard not to give into the emotional side of making a decision and it did not come without heavy tears, but the rational mature side won in the end.

This August I passed my Real Estate license test.  My husband, has been in real estate for 20 years and is currently the Managing Principal Broker for the Hasson Company, so it seems fitting to join the efforts with him.   Together I feel it will be great to have his expertise and years of experience with my new excitement.   

As the shifting of priorities music will still find it's place as it  happens naturally.  It's still part of my life and the way I can minister and show my heart and shine His

Ward and Courtney Spears The Hasson Company Realtors


Photography By 
Photography by AJ

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Changed Forever- New Song

Today Jana and I got to share a little bit of our
story at a women's bible study group at Rolling Hills Community Church.
I haven't written a song in a long time and I thought laying around for weeks would produce something but it didn't.  The  night before we were to talk I finally had a melody and words that captured some of my thoughts of the process.   I was nervous to sing this song because I literally finished it 20 minutes before leaving so I still need some tweaks, but here you go!
Thanks to Teresa B. for sending me a copy of it. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Women's Conferences

Spring Women's Conferences 

Grace Chapel Women's Retreat April 11-13
Wow what a busy spring it was!! We got to travel to many awesome retreats and conferences to lead worship.   This year marked our first road trip to sunny California where we quickly De-thawed from a long Oregon winter and LOVED meeting so many awesome women.

Only At a Women's conference

Atascadero California March 6-10

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - April 7-9

Rolling Hills Community Church Women's Retreat

Ignite Portland

Monday, March 10, 2014

California Traveling Song - In-N-Out HEY!

Our Chick band got to go on a fun weekend road trip to a women's conference in Atascadero, CA.  We got a little road weary and hungry as we made our way to In-N-Out Burger and came up with this little song. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Couch Song

Week 4 and I'm finally feeling a bit "normal".  While couped up in the house and on the couch for 3 weeks I wrote a little song on the ukelele.  Here you go!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Miracle Monday

What a day January 6th was. The Day of Epiphany.. A Birthday I will never forget.   A day that my life was changed forever and a day that new hope was restored in life for Jana.  It has taken some time to recover and also time to process all that has taken place in the last few months after finding out I was an exact 3% chance match.  A match that was as close as a twin match.

It's been 3 weeks today.  A waiting room full of friends and family, a monumental day.  A lot of tears and hugs and prayers around our pre-operating beds.  Last hugs to my kids and husband, who never showed fear through this process.  The last thing remembered... my surgical team singing Happy Birthday to me.  

Awake..It's over..I'm alive..she's alive...I'm changed.. Jana's changed.

It was not hard to make this decision to help someone in desperate need.   It is hard to grasp the reality that if I didn't do this Jana may have died too soon.  To be part of something that huge has still not hit me.  I think if I would have walked closer to her painful journey last year I would understand more deeply of what this new life for Jana feels like and looks like.  I get a glimpse of that pain in the tears of her friend's eyes when they meet me and thank me for what I gave.  For me I was just reacting to God's voice in my thoughts of

What if I am a match and I didn't know it?  What if I get to heaven one day and I see my life shown before me and the things I did and realize what I could have been part of , but missed out.  What if I was too fearful to trust God and miss the blessing of His plan for me and for Jana.  IF I step out in faith knowing that God ultimately knows who her match is, I can step out boldly knowing that it will be decided for me.

I know what being fearful is.  I tend to think of all the bad things that could happen in any situation.  I can't say I wasn't fearful going into to surgery.  I got all my things together and weeks of planning had been done for my family and home to transition.   As I finally laid in bed January 5th next to my husband, who knew this journey was both of ours, I finally cried.  I cried tears of loss of what I'd never have again, tears of fear of the unknown, tears for the scars that would make my stomach ugly and the pain that would follow.  Tears of wondering if I would really wake up after surgery.  The hardest tears were ones of thankfulness that God picked me even though weeks before I prayed that if there was any way the cup could be passed to someone else, could take that option.  The cup was mine though and I had to be strong and courageous and not be afraid.  I was the 3% chance match that would make Miracle Monday possible.

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  Isaiah 41:10

A new life has began in Jana and a different life for me that if not for my pain and scars, I wouldn't notice.   We rejoice each appointment that Jana's new kidney is performing greater than expected and that my lone kidney is performing as if there were still 2.   When I heard those results it was like a gift back to me and the Lord saying "See I've got you covered, well done believing in Me"

At our post operation 2 week apt. Our Transplant was #1062
Jana's husband Dave did a wonderful job capturing his thoughts from their perspective.  
Grab a tissue and read about it. I also love the song by Meredith Andrews You're Not Alone which I posted below. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Divine Click and A Perfect Match

A Divine Click and a Perfect Match
Those things in life we look forward to.   The simple but treasured things that make life special and make everything seem true and right and lovely.   The major events in life that will change us forever.  The direction or path we thought we were on only to be surprised by a more divine plan that shakes our faith to make it stronger and our trust to grow deeper.    The moment that listening and trusting His still small voice and stepping out in faith causes someone else’s life and mine to be bonded forever.   

As I clicked on the link and read her caring bridge, I knew her  from our church, and over the years..but not well.  I remember her bubbly personality and the smile I always saw on her face.  My husband knows her husband through Real Estate and we know many mutual friends.  I knew her son from when I used to be a school receptionist and he was a student at Westside Christian.   Yes, that is when I first met her, she was always really sweet when she came to the school.  I’m sad at what she has had to endure this last year after reading her kidneys failed.  Her family has been tested to see if anyone is a match for her and still nothing.. It’s amazing how they are handling this.. Pray
 I thought of the people that were willing to step forward to be tested to see if they matched her.  That sounded pretty scary and I wondered if given the opportunity if I would be willing to be tested?  After seeing the blood type posted and realizing this could be a quick elimination for my fleeting thought,  I was humbled quickly after finding a medical chart in my office.   It was a form I have had with me for 14 years that I never could throw away because it had 3 special pregnancies listed on there that I never got to have.  A chart that represented sadness in many ways, but also a good reminder of God’s restoration and a little box checked revealing my blood type.   Type A.

Back to the computer and messaging my friend who had posted the caring bridge site link, she mentioned that our Pastor’s wife had also gotten tested, but sadly was not a match but was entering a paired match program even so.  It was enough to know that if she was able to have faith and do this, then why couldn’t I.   A bedtime talk with my husband of my idea to go forward only prompted support  from him, and thoughts of “what if I was a match and didn’t know it.   Well what if I am a match? It would be morally and seemingly the right thing to do to help her.  I know I would want someone to do that if it were my loved one”, and so on…    Sleep

Someone who is tested to be a kidney donor gets put through several tests.    As far as I knew I was healthy so in my mind barring any surprises on my end, there is no reason being tested if I wasn’t resolved to take the process to the end.   It wasn’t until I realized being a blood type match was great and the willingness and being healthy is a must,  but the biggest test was yet to come.   I didn’t realize that many potential donors were released because of the matching to her antibodies.    This however, didn’t discourage me because of my naivety of the odds and knowing that prompting that afternoon to click on the caring bridge seemed too divine for this not to be a perfect match.  I know when I feel God’s prompting and this time my husband had that same “funny” feeling.  … more blood drawn.  
After weeks of testing, the phone rings, it’s the transplant team “amazingly your antibodies are a perfect match”…  rejoice!  I text several people including her husband of the news and find out it is truly a miracle.  That is when I find out there was only a 3% chance they would ever find a perfect match.   That is when I realized that prompting was divine.   When I realize my life and her life will change forever.
Three weeks from today, January 6th, probably at this time, I will be in one operating room and Jana in the next room.  A Monday that the Lord picked for us long ago and will forever be remembered.  Our family and friends, praying and waiting.  Praying  for a safe transplant and a good outcome.   I will not lose much, she will gain everything back she once knew to be a normal function of living and one we take for granted until it’s gone.  A divine opportunity that we all aren’t picked for but one I feel blessed to be.  One that will offer hope and healing.   One that will grow my faith, courage, and trust for my future and one that will allow God to be glorified through it all.    

I wanted to share this with you so you can pray and also be a part of this amazing miracle story.  As we spend time getting ready for this Christmas it is hard for me to not have my thoughts go to January 6th.  I wait in anticipation and can only imagine how Jana must be counting down the hours and days .  We have been in contact with each other over facebook and I reassured her I was being very careful with my activities!  I’ve never thought about my kidneys as much as I have in the last 6 weeks!!    I also wanted to share her caring bridge site so you can leave a note of encouragement to her as she waits and pray for her to stay strong.   

Me Jana and our Mom's together at Church Dec 29th

Monday, August 12, 2013

Interview with Won4Christ Productions

WON4CHRIST Productions is spotlighting local Christian artists. I am so happy that the first spot light is my very good facebook friend, Courtney Spears. I hope you enjoy my conversation with her.

W4C -I first heard you when Tammie and I w...ere a part of Cody's Coffee in Canby and we had your CD on our shelf. I remember listening to it and I thought you sounded like Jewel. Then I met you when I was playing the Clackamas County Fair with Amy Gustafson (Oden) and you played before us. It was packed and then you sang, the audience cheered loud, then you were done and they left. lol

W4C -Where did you grow up and where did you go to High School?
CS -I grew up in Portland most of my childhood and then split time in High School when I moved from David Douglas to Lake Oswego High School my junior year.

W4C -How old were you when you first sang publicly, by yourself?
CS -In 6th grade I decide it would be a great idea to do the talent show, so I worked really hard on my favorite Amy Grant song at the time, Arms of Love. It was the first time I played piano and sang at the same time in front of an audience.

W4C-How old were you when you wrote your first song? Do you remember the name of it?
CS-I was more into basketball and volleyball after the 6th grade debut, so I didn't realize I could write music until after college, and after learning the guitar. I think I was about 21 and I wrote my first song for my mom, recorded it on a cassette tape and then recorded three part harmonies from the dual cassette player. I decided to record that song thinking that after all the praise I was getting from family, the minute the engineer would hear my AMAZING song he’d connect me with a major producer and I’d be on my way to living the singer songwriter dream. He just took my $100 and gave me a nice copy of my song. Discouraged, I didn't write another song until 10 years later when my heart was broken. That was when my friend’s baby boy Sam tragically died at 18 months. I didn't know what to do or say, but I felt impressed to sit down and write a song and the words just poured out.  That song was my first real produced recording and on my CD, it's called “Healing”.
W4C -It's a touching song!

W4C -As a singer songwriter, what moment has given you your greatest pleasure?
CS -My greatest moment was when my first CD was completed and about 450 family and friends came out to hear all the songs. It was such a memorable moment of accomplishment and to share that with so many people I knew and who had known me for a long time. I will never forget that day, however, equally touching is when a person tells me how my CD is played to get through their chemo treatment, or put their kids to sleep at night, or calm them when they are just having a rough day and need encouragement. I remember my uncle who is now sadly gone from us, listened to my cd in his car every day on his way to work. He was the same uncle that taught us kids how to harmonize as we’d sing silly songs driving on the freeway on the way home from church. It's those moments, and many more in my musical journey that I hold onto, and will always cherish.

W4C -Do your kids play any instruments?
CS -Two of them are just getting interested. My daughter is thinking about the drums, and is a gifted lyricist and can think of a rhyme on the spot. One of my sons is going to start the drums this year at school and plan B is the tuba. He has a really nice singing voice as well.

W4C -You have played with some incredible local musicians, like Dave Gauthier. I have heard you talk about him before. Tell me what he has meant to you? And other musicians? I know of several very good ones.
CS -I met Dave when he was hired to play on my CD for a few songs. Dave has been such a special friend and musical mentor over the years as well as my main guitarist. Dave gave me great perspective on writing and the music industry.. sometimes what I didn't want to hear but reality. I always feel more comfortable when I have Dave sitting next to me on a set. Another influential person is my friend Lisa Reiff who I do many conferences and events with leading worship. Lisa taught me the art and flow of putting a worship set together. I could put a set together of many songs I thought people liked and I liked, but she taught me how thematically worship sets are so much richer if the process takes you somewhere lyrically song to song. My home church -Rolling Hills is filled with amazing musicians and over the years turned into a network of friends that interchange from Sunday services to a night at the coffee shop to an outdoor concert.

W4C -Who was your greatest influence?
CS -I don’t want to sound cliche’ but Amy Grant has been in my ears since she came on the stage when I was 8. She sat there with her guitar and sang these awesome songs about her faith and I connected with her style at a young age. Back then we didn't have all the Christian artist to choose from, and she being younger was a breath of fresh air compared to my parents records of Gospel music, which always included trumpets and 5 part harmony. Amy’s style and songs fit my heart, my soul, and my voice so it was an easy match for a wanna be singer.

W4C-You told me your playing days have slowed down. I know you still love playing for women’s ministry, what does the near future hold? Whats keeping you from getting out there and playing more? I have a feeling it's being a mom.
CS- When I started doing music ministry more intensely it was the days where there were scheduled naps and early bedtimes. Now there are no naps and late bedtimes and driving everyone here and there. It’s been a season of challenges and change. I wrote a song a while ago called “Heart at Home” which talks about how as moms we have to give up a lot of things we might want to do for the moment, but that it is worth it in the end to do the right thing and keep our heart at home. I had to step back to do just that as I navigated a difficult season in life where my attention and energy needs to be at home more than ever. I've often told the Lord that “I think I’m done with music” but God always makes it very clear that I’m not through, with doors that keep opening and me willing to say “yes” when I can. It has been great to be able to lead worship more at Rolling Hills my home church and help lead worship at women’s events with Lisa Reiff and our worship band. I think my heart leans towards those environments more than anything. We always come away from those events and weekends knowing that God was able to use what He gave us for such a time and we are doing what He wants us to do. I’m not opposed to doing concerts or coffee shops, but the balance seems good with not focusing on that right now.

W4C -You have some of the funniest posts of Facebook like "dream a dream of smaller thighs" where does that stuff come from?
CS-I have always had a quirky dry sense of humor. I am also one of those people that things just “happen” too, like the time when my pinkie got stuck in the trunk of my car with the car running… in the middle of the road..alone..those kind of things. I have always been able to laugh at my unfortunate circumstances though. The parody of I dreamed a dream just came to me as I was singing the real song and looking at my thighs. I also get lyrics wrong in songs anyway, so I’m constantly writing parody’s without trying.

W4C-Tell me a frustration you have with being a singer songwriter, especially a Christian one?
CS- Hearing not so good songs on the radio get played over and over again and feeling like it is so hard to break in. Other limitations that can be frustrating is that my songs are for a specific venue or audience. My heart is drawn to write music about God and his promises and the impact on my life He has made but that won’t fit into most places who want musicians. So being creative in the way I write and how the message is delivered has been a challenge in many cases but one that has created growth and better crafted songs.

W4C- Courtney thanks for taking time with WON4CHRIST Productions and answering these questions. We will be praying for you. Tell us where we can find your website?

Check out Courtney's Music on the Store Tab downloads

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I Dreamed A Dream "Of Smaller Thighs"

I Dreamed A Dream "Of Smaller Thighs"
A Parody of sorts..
Copyright Courtney Spears Music

Copyright Courtney Spears Music

Monday, April 29, 2013

Becky Herbst - Seeing His Gifts Shine Through Her

A friend asked me recently.. "don't you get tired of hearing my talks?"  This was asked by my friend Becky Herbst who is our speaker for our retreat team.  We formed this team quite a few years ago, bringing 3 friends together in ministry for women's retreats.   Women's retreats are designed for a group of women from a specific church that get away from their regular routine to retreat at a special place.   Retreats include a lot of eating, fun, shopping etc and sessions where there is rich teaching about God in our lives and worshiping Him through music.

The three of us have been leading worship music together for over 10 years and through that, have formed an unbreakable friendship.  When Becky started her ministry in Bible teaching,  Lisa and I started more actively leading worship together, so it seemed natural to bridge the 3 individual ministries into one.  

At a recent event Becky asked us that very question about us getting tired of her talks and messages, we laughed and said "of course not".. which was true.   We laughed at how hard it must be for people like Women of Faith speakers to hear the same sermon over and over from their dear friends.  Not only that, they have to sit on stage and look fresh as if it's the first time they have heard it!!   As I was sitting in a morning session AGAIN listening to Becky.. I realized WHY it's not hard to listen to her.  Well, she's really good at speaking, story telling and engaging people, even tired people.  But as I watched my friend speaking up there it came to me that THIS is what God created her to do, and SO well!  He gifted her in such a way and she is using her gifts to minister to women in a special and fun way while directing their hearts to the Lord.   Seeing my friend being used by the Lord and using her gifts was a gift to me!  I could watch and listen to her and not get tired of it because it is beautiful to see Him work through her.

We are excited to see where the Lord takes our ministry.  We have already been so blessed by what He has already done. Retreat Info