Happy Dance

The weekend is here and I am so glad it is. I am grateful that I have done really well physically, spiritually and emotionally this week despite the high’s and low’s I’ve encountered as I continue to deal with a mystery illness..

A low point of this week was during a consultation with an oncologist. While meeting with him, I became aware that I have all the symptoms of Hodgkins Lymphoma. It’s not that I’ve been diagnosed with that, but it was clear that it was one of the things they are looking for.

As for high points, there were several. First, I contacted a local environmental company to come and test the air at our home. This was to eliminate the possibility that I had been poisoned with mold. The testing costs between $600 to $1,000. Although the cost was high we knew we needed to do the service. When I called to schedule the service, the owner told me that they would be coming out the next day and that they would be doing the work at no cost. I was stunned. I don’t usually cry a lot, but upon hearing this news, I burst into tears of joy and I probably cried for 30 minutes straight. When I asked him why they were doing this for me, he said, “It’s good to do some good every once in a while, its why we started this business”. Their act of kindness not only blessed me but it inspired me. The testing was done the next day and everything came out clear. No mold.

Another high point was when I went over my most recent CT Scan with my doctor. My lungs looked SO much better. Of course the assumption is that this improvement is due to the medication I am taking. However, I am believing with all my heart that these results are because of the answered prayers of so many who have been praying for me. I know that includes many of your reading this right now,. If that’s you, I just want to say, Thank You SO Much!!!! I am so grateful for you.

This week I downloaded this awesome Bible Memory Ap and have have been working on memorizing the book of James, chapter one. Here is the first few verses of that passage:

Consider it PURE JOY, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials or many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and compete, not lacking anything. James 1:1-4

As I read this I am reminded that we all will face trials in life. This doesn’t say “IF” you face a trial but it says “WHENEVER” you face trial(s) with an “S” which means you will likely face more than one during your lifetime!!! These trials will be challenging but we can look at them as opportunities to grow our faith and develop perseverance. I know for me there are areas of my walk with Christ that I have been praying for to be strengthened. I am thankful that this situation is providing an opportunity for me to grow more into who God has created me to be.

So, today I am standing on God’s promises and claiming victory over this illness. So many of you have prayed and believed for my healing, I think it’s about time I stop focusing on my symptoms and instead focus on the fact that I know God is my healer and there is nothing too difficult for him. Knowing this, comforts me and fills me with hope and a great deal of peace.

I know that some of you reading this are going through challenges right now. There have been many of you who have written me privately or pulled me to the side at a meeting or class to share your story. My heart goes out to you as my situation pales in comparison to many of the struggles you are facing today. Please know that I am praying for you and that I hope that no matter how difficult your circumstances are, you will remember that God is near and desires to help you!

Here is one of my favorite Bible promises to encourage you:

Fear not, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Speaking of help and strength, one of the persons who has really blessed me this week is my downline and friend Jodi Hashimoto. She along with several others from the Stamped With Aloha family have stepped in to run our monthly Inspiration Nights in my place. I was so thankful that a few days ago I was able to attend our Inspiration Night. Jodi did a great job designing adorable projects as she always does!!! I’ll share those projects in a future post but for today, I want to show you a card that she designed for one of her recent classes.

Now I must warn you, before you scroll down to see it, you might want to clear some space around you because it is so stinkin’ cute, it may cause you to jump up and start doing a happy dance!!!

Are you ready…….

Got your dancing shoes on…….

You better stretch a little……

Wait for it…….

Ok……

Here……

It……

Is…….

This Little Piggy Card

This Little Piggy Card

Jodi created this adorable card with the sets, This Little Piggy and Tropical Chic. She hand cut the grass skirt with a piece of Old Olive Card Stock and Paper Snips. I love how Jodi took one of our Frosted Flower Embellishments and colored it to match the card with a Stampin’ Blends Marker.

If you want to see all the cute critter cards Jodi designed for her “on the farm” class, you can click this link to go to her blog: The Stamping Owl.

When a new catalog comes out, I am always looking for ways to add a little Hawaiian flair to my creations. So I used Jodi’s card my inspiration and I got out my new Dino Days stamp set and created this.

Happy Hula Dinosaur

Happy Hula Dinosaur

This little dinosaur is so adorable. There are other dinosaurs to choose from, but this is my favorite and I think the sentiment is so perfect! The coordinating Dinosaur Designer Series Paper is so amazing too. I can’t wait to play around with this set and make more fun creations.

Here is another way I laid out the same card idea.

Dino Days - Hula Dinosaur

Dino Days - Hula Dinosaur

The hula skirt was created with the Dino Dies that are a part of the Dinosaur Suite. All I had to do was to snip a little of each end of the Old Olive Card stock to create a fun mini hula skirt for this adorable dinosaur.

As you can see I also followed Jodi’s idea of coloring the Frosted Floral Embellishments in with a Stampin’ Blends Marker.

Dino Day’s Hula Dinosaur Cards

Dino Day’s Hula Dinosaur Cards

I chose a Lovely Lipstick Stampin’ Blends Marker, to color in the Frosted Flower Embellishment so that the flower would match the little speckles in the Dinosaur Designer Series Paper.

Well, I’m off to yet another doctors appointment!!! I better take a moment to catch my breath from all that dancing!

As I go, I will continue to walk in faith and victory believing that He who began a good work in me, will be faithful to complete it.

With Faith, Hope and Love,

Cindy

Everything is Rosy

Well, i have finally found a moment to reflect on all that has been happening in my life recently. Saying “everything is rosy” is certainly not how I would describe how I’ve been feeling this past month and a half.

This unexpected season reminded me of exactly where I was two years ago when I found out I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Although it wasn’t a pleasant time, it was a time where I learned so much and I witnessed so many miracles. In hindsight, I’m grateful for the challenges I faced and for the growth it produced in my life.

So, here we are two years later and another unexpected challenge is upon me!!! This one however, is somewhat mysterious. Let me share with you what has been happening.

Just after Easter, I began to feel extremely tired for no reason. My breathing felt “odd”, I developed a weird dry cough and my energy was super low. I know sometimes I push myself at a pretty fast pace and have days that I need to just rest, but day after day of resting didn’t seem to heal the symptoms I was experiencing! It seemed that with each passing day, I began to feel worse.

Then the roller coaster ride began. One doctor thought I had asthma related issues. Another doctor took an X-Ray and saw haziness in my lungs. This led to a CT Scan and as these tests continued, I continued to feel worse, my lungs began to feel tight and this caused me to feel a bit anxious!

The day I was going to the doctor to get my CT Scan results I ran into Josiah Nordgren, our pastor from New Hope Leeward. Talk about a divine appointment!!! I walked over to say hello and his wife asked me how I was doing. I briefly explained about the challenges I was facing and Josiah asked if it would be okay to pray for me right there in the parking lot. After they prayed, I felt so happy and went to the doctor with such peace.

The doctor walked in to give me the results and I could tell by the look on her face that something was really wrong. She began to explain that the scan showed some serious issues such as an abnormal mass in one lung and a bunch of nodules in both lungs. The doctor referred me to a specialist but told me it might be challenging to see him because he was very busy as he was one of the only doctors in Hawaii who performed non invasive lung biopsies. I thought to myself, if he can’t see me, what will I do! More worry and fear began to creep in!

I drove home feeling kind of numb. I started to think of all the similarities of where I was exactly two years prior. Fears began to flood my mind. I forgot about the miracles. All I could focus on was how terrible I felt, how I longed for my lungs to feel normal again and how I desired to have strength and energy to get back to my daily routine. I’ve learned that one of the best ways to battle problems is with praise. However, I forgot to praise. I even forgot to pray!! Instead, I responded with panic!!

Pastor Josiah texted me that afternoon and encouraged me with a passage from the Bible. It was from I Kings 19 where it talks about Elijah. I was encouraged by his message and I told him I was going to begin to study the story of Elijah. As I read I Kings, I read about Elijah seeing the power of God at work. He witnessed miracle after miracle. When he prayed, things happened. Yet one day, when it became apparent that his life was in danger, he ran and hid in fear and hoped to die. It might sound strange but reading about Elijah feeling fearful in that moment encouraged me. It made me feel normal. But I also realized that I didn’t want to remain in a place of fear. If you read the story of Elijah you will see that he didn’t remain fearful for long! As I began to reflect on the miraculous things God has done in my past. I began to replace my fear with faith.

The next step in this journey was a PET Scan. This would be the test that would reveal exactly what was going on inside of me. The morning of my scan my son, Kalani, sent me an encouraging word that he had heard in a sermon. It was the story of the Israelites fleeing Egypt. As they left Egypt they could have gone to the right, this path was the shortest but it would have led them through the Philistine territory so they would have a new enemy to face. Plus, when the Egyptians decided to come after them this would have put them in a place of having an enemy in front of them and an enemy behind them. The second road they could have taken was a straight path. This way was the easiest but as the Egyptian army approached them it would have been easy for them to access this path and attack them. Rather than go on these paths the Lord led them to go toward the Red Sea. This path didn’t make any sense. It led to a dead end. With the enemy coming after them it appeared that they were trapped. However, God opened up the sea and they walked to safety on dry land. When the enemy ran after them, the sea came back together and the enemy army was washed away. This path was the only path that provided a way for them to see what they feared the most be completely destroyed.

This word was just what I needed. It reminded me that God was at work and no matter what the results were, he could be trusted.

When the PET scan results came back they showed I had issues not only with my lungs but inflammation was found in several other areas of my body as well which caused the doctor to immediately schedule a biopsy.

One biopsy led to three. The first two biopsies came up negative for cancer cells. This was very good news. However, even after three biopsies, the illness I had, remained a mystery.. They tested me for several diseases but all results came back negative.

As of right now, it appears that I have a severe bacterial lung infection. Tests are still being run and after being on antibiotics for 2 weeks I am beginning to feel myself again.

In the midst of all of this, a new Stampin’ Up! catalog was released. I’ve been so weak and tired that I haven’t even been able to enjoy the new products. One of the hardest things I had to do was to cancel my classes this month. Thankfully, Stampin’ Up! had a special promotion called “Everything is Rosy”. This exclusive product suite, which only is available till tomorrow (5/31), is filled with beautiful coordinating Stampin’ Up! products. I was so grateful that several of my customers ordered this suite from me to help me keep up with my monthly sales goals.

As soon as I started to feel better, I went into my studio and made some thank you cards to send to those who ordered this month. Here is the card I created with this beautiful suite.

Everything is Rosy

Everything is Rosy

The set is really gorgeous, it comes with Designer Paper that has copper foil in it. It also comes with 2 spools of pretty ribbon. The top card was made with a Melon Mambo ribbon.

Below is the same card, but this time I used the Night of Navy Copper Edged Ribbon. Isn’t it beautiful?

Everything is Rosy

Everything is Rosy

Here is how the card looks like when it is opened.

Everything Is Rosy Cards

Everything Is Rosy Cards

I even used the stamp set to make the envelopes pretty!!!

Yesterday, I was invited to a birthday breakfast. Since this set had a birthday sentiment in it, I was able to make three different birthday cards with these same products. Here they are.

Everything is Rosy cards

Everything is Rosy cards

For these cards I stamped the birthday sentiment on one of the copper foil edged tags that are a part of the kit.

Everything is Rosy Birthday Card

Everything is Rosy Birthday Card

Below is a closer look at another layout. For this card, I moved the sentiment to the bottom right corner.

Everything is Rosy Birthday Card

Everything is Rosy Birthday Card

And since this one had a smaller tag, I added a couple extra die cut flowers and leaves.

Everything is Rosy Birthday Card

Everything is Rosy Birthday Card

My doctor called today and is scheduling me for more testing!!! Please pray that the tests will show no more inflammation or infection and that the slight cough I am still battling will be gone!

As I draw this post to a close I feel led to end with a prayer. I guess its because one of the lessons I’ve been reminded through this season is, when you encounter a problem, respond first with prayer and praise, this will lead to God’s presence and it’s there you will find peace.

Lord Jesus, I come before you now and praise you for who you are. Thank you for your love, thank you for your mercy, thank you for your peace even in the midst of a storm. I pray for the person that is reading this right now that no matter what is happening in their life today that you would draw near to them. Help them to see you. Help them to be encouraged that you are with them. I pray that you would heal their infirmities, I pray you would provide for their every need. I pray that you would reveal yourself to them in a mighty and powerful way so that they would be encouraged and find peace in your presence. Lord, help them to overcome any fears that they are facing. I thank you today for helping me to overcome fear with faith. I lift up these challenges that I have been facing and I say that I trust you. My life is in your hands. May I never take it for granted. Help me to live each day I am blessed to be here to honor you. I love you and praise you and thank you for your goodness, mercy and love. In Jesus Name, I pray these things, Amen.

With Love and Many Blessings,

Cindy


Follow Your Art

Last month a small group of my Stamped With Aloha team attended Stampin’ Up!’s On Stage event in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This is a trip I normally would have been on. It was hard not to go because Stampin’ Up! events are the best. Plus, I love to travel, especially when it gives me the opportunity to visit with my Stampin’ Up! friends.

When it was time for registration, I just felt as if I shouldn’t go this year. You see, my Dad has not been in the best health and I wanted to stay close in case he or my Mom needed me.

The decision not to go was hard but it turned out to be a very wise choice. You see while everyone was at On Stage, I began to not feel well physically. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, I just knew I was having some respiratory issues that were causing me to feel fatigued. It’s a long story, one that I plan to tell you more about in a future post. But for now, let me continue to tell you about On Stage.

One of the perks you get when you attend On Stage, is to see the new catalog first. You also get to see new products and have the opportunity to order some of them before anyone else. Since I wasn’t there, I didn’t get to enjoy these special perks this time.

Well, one of my sweet stampin’ sisters and friends who went to On Stage decided to send me a very special surprise. She ordered some new products and gifted them to me. Imagine my surprise when this box arrived and inside was products from our fabulous new Follow Your Art Suite! This special gift of aloha really lifted my spirits and brightened my day. My friend, had no idea that I wasn’t feeling well, so this gift was sent simply as a gift of love and aloha and for that I was truly grateful.

It took me a few days before I had the strength to stamp but this special gift motivated me to get into my studio and work on a Thank You card. Here is the card I created for my friend.

Follow Your Art Card

Follow Your Art Card

This Follow Your Art Suite is so fun. The stamp set “It Starts With Art” has super cute images and sentiments for the craft lovers at heart. The Designer Paper is bright and colorful and covered with adorable images.

This sentiment says, “You paint my world with happiness”. Happiness is certainly what I felt when I opened up this special gift. It was such an amazing and fun surprise and so timely too. I am thankful that my friend took the time to put together something that really lifted my spirits at a time when I really needed it.

The next time God puts someone on your heart it might just be a good time to do as my friend did. It doesn’t have to be by sending a special gift! Just respond by making a phone call, giving a hug, speaking words of encouragement, sending a card, etc. Just follow your “art” and let others know you were thinking of them and by doing so, they will know you care.

With Gratitude and Much Aloha,

Cindy



Bunny Boxes

This week I hosted a Bunny Bunco Event. It was so much fun!!! I love all the love and laughter that fills my home when everyone comes over to play bunco and see some of my favorite Stampin’ Up! products. This month I featured our cute Mini Pizza Boxes. I showed how you can use them to quickly create some punch art bunny boxes for your Easter treats.

Bunny Pizza Boxes

Bunny Pizza Boxes

Would you like to know how to create this box?

Bunny Pizza Box

Bunny Pizza Box

The first thing you need to do is create the ears. Take 2 pieces of Thick Whisper White Card Stock and cut them at 1 1/2 x 5 1/2. Use the Detailed Trio Punch to round the top two corners. On the bottom of the ear, use a scoring tool to score at 1”. Put some adhesive below the one inch score line and glue the ears to the inside of the Mini Pizza Box. The inside of the ears measure 1 1/4 x 4 1/4. Round the top two corners and attach them to the Whisper White ears. For the whiskers, I took a 5 1/2 inch piece of Basic Gray card stock and cut tiny strips with a paper cutter. I then attached them to the middle of the box with a couple of Mini Glue Dots. The nose was made with a 3/4 inch circle punch and the eyes were made with the 1/2 inch circle punch. I used one of my favorite retired bow punches for the bow but you could certainly use an actual ribbon of any color, if you don’t have this punch.

Mini Pizza Box Bunny

Mini Pizza Box Bunny

I used the Pretty Label punch to create a tail for the back of the box. I stamped it with a sentiment from the adorable Fable Friends stamp set.

Fill these with paper shreds and the candy of your choice.

They make great favors and look super cute with their long ears and whiskers.

Mini Pizza Box Bunnies

Mini Pizza Box Bunnies

It was fun making these bunnies and I loved the expressions of all my guests when they saw them on display.

Speaking of expressions, I love Renee’s expression below. Bunny Bunco was a blast as you can see!!!

Renee at Bunco

Renee at Bunco

I mean who wouldn’t smile if you get stuck at a table surrounded by 3 LORI’s!! (Lori A, Lori I and Lori V)

Bunco Fun with 3 Lori’s

Bunco Fun with 3 Lori’s

I love it when my house is filled with so much love and aloha!

Bunny Bunco

Bunny Bunco

I got lots of positive comments from this group about these favors and hope you will enjoy them as much as they did. They are quick to make and sure to brighten the day of whomever you create them for.

Stamped Blessings,

Cindy