One Step At A Time

On Tuesday, May 23, 2017,  I officially began my battle with breast cancer.   Tuesday morning, I had surgery and now the waiting period beings to see if they got it all.  Once I learn the results, I will know what the next steps are.  I am someone who likes to know the plan.  Someone who wants to know what is going to happen on the road ahead but I am starting to learn that God desires for me to rest in Him trusting Him to lead and guide me through each day, one step at time.  No fear, no anxiousness, just an awareness of His presence and a heart filled with gratitude and love.  

One of the big lesson I have learned is that God prepares us for things.  Sometimes the challenges we face are actually God preparing us for something that we will soon face.   He is doing something in us to make us stronger, ready to battle what is ahead.  

I woke up a few days ago thinking about the Tour Du Mont Blanc hike that I did last July.  Then a few minutes later I got an email from a friend who said, "do you remember that hike you did last summer, don't you see how God was preparing you for what you are going through now?"  As I sit back and think about it,   I see that He was.

Tour Du Mont Blanc (Chamonix, France) Day 1

Tour Du Mont Blanc (Chamonix, France) Day 1

I remember this day vividly.  It was day one and we weren't that far into the trek and I was already feeling overwhelmed.  I felt like there was no way I was going to keep up.  As you can see the others are way ahead of me and I felt bad like I was slowing everyone down.  The weather was not good. We'd pass places where we were supposed to see something incredible, but all we saw was fog.  We climbed up to the snow and then a really steep decent brought us to a new town and hotel where we'd be staying the night.  Although that day was AMAZING it was also one of the most difficult struggles I've ever been through.  Although I felt a great sense of accomplishment, I had tears in my eyes thinking this was just day one and we had several more days to complete the over 80 mile hike.

My husband hugged me and encouraged me.  I knew he was in pain too.  It was clear that we were in this battle together.   So before we went to dinner,  I took some time to rest and grabbed my favorite devotional book called Jesus Calling.  It was July 14th, 2016 and this is what it said:

  "Keep walking with Me along the path I have chosen for you.  Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to my heart.  I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you.  Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain.  The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak.  Someday you will dance light footed on the high peak; but for now your walk is often plodding and heavy.  All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction.  Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend.  Stay on the path I have selected for you, It is truly the path of Life.  

Day two of the hike began with a lot of love and encouragement from my friend Lynsay who was the one responsible for inviting me on a "little hike" where I would enjoy drinking espresso and cappuccino's, eating gelato, sleeping in hotels, enjoying delicious French and Italian foods, etc.  She is a great sales person not only in the Stampin' Up! world but also on adventures, but this trip didn't turn out exactly as she proposed.  She left out all the hard parts and in hindsight I learned that she didn't realize how difficult this journey was going to be.  But it was worth the pain.

Lynsay and Cindy - Day 2 Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

Lynsay and Cindy - Day 2 Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

Derek was by my side every step of the way.  There were times I would say to him, "go on without me" and he would calmly say, "I'm not going to leave you".  He'd speak words of love and encouragement to me every step of the way.  He would affirm me and tell me "where almost there, you are doing amazing".  He is such a gift from God.  We made so many lasting memories on this amazing journey together.  

Derek and Cindy Day 2 Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

Derek and Cindy Day 2 Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

The next day felt so much better.  Although we had another day of not so perfect weather my attitude about the challenge was different and I was ready for battle.  I knew that although it would be hard, I could make it.  I just needed to take it one step at a time and not worry about what was around the corner.  If I focused on the fact that around the corner was another steep path I would get discouraged and feel like giving up.  So I learned to pace myself and focus on continuing to move forward focused on just competing the battle no matter how long it took me.  I felt blessed to have such love and encouragement all around me, all along the journey.  

Day 2 Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

Day 2 Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

One of the things that helped me a lot is that I would pray as I walked and I felt like God gently whispered to me and said, "I want to remind you of how much I love you".  So when things got hard, which was most of the time, I would look down at the ground and focus on finding heart shaped stones.  Each time I would see one I would be reminded of God's love and the fact that He was walking with me.  

Heart Shaped Reminders - Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

Heart Shaped Reminders - Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

I was not alone on this journey, each day I would pass many people who were enduring the same pain but finding the peace and joy in it.   It makes me think that every day I pass people who I don't even realize are experiencing struggles in their own life.  Just as I greeted and encouraged those on the hike that I encountered, so I should be more aware of those God brings across my path today to speak words of life, hope and encouragement because they too could be experiencing difficulties.

Tour Du Mont Blan - July 2016

Tour Du Mont Blan - July 2016

This journey was a beautiful opportunity for me to set aside time to not worry about anything (which I tend to do quite often) but to take life one step at a time enjoying the journey.  It was an opportunity for me to learn that often things that are the hardest offer up the greatest rewards.

Final Day- Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

Final Day- Tour Du Mont Blanc - July 2016

As I turned the corner on the last day at one of the highest most picturesque parts of the hike I was reminded of those words I read in my devotion book on day one.   "Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend.  Stay on the path I have selected for you, It is truly the path of Life."   

Celebrating completing the Tour Du Mont Blanc - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Celebrating completing the Tour Du Mont Blanc - www.stampedwithaloha.com

I was so glad I didn't give up.  I was so glad that I stayed on the path and kept walking, one step at a time.

In the same way we celebrated God's faithfulness to bring us to bring us to this point in a difficult journey, so we celebrate today.  We recognize that God has a plan that can be trusted and we know that in the end we will find victory in Him.

 Today I am on another journey.  This one is also difficult.  This one is also one I need to take one step at a time, not worrying about tomorrow but focusing on what I need to do today.   I can remember my hike and the lessons I learned and apply them to what I am going through now.  I see that God was preparing me as He so faithfully does.

I am encouraged to know that I am not alone.  God is with me and so are so many others.  More people than I ever could imagine have showered me with Facebook messages, texts, phone calls, flowers, gifts and cards.  I have witnessed people shedding tears upon hearing about my diagnosis, people who I don't even know that well and it made me feel so humbled to realize how much they loved and cared for me.  I was so blessed to hear friends say things like "WE are going to do this, and WE are going to do that" in helping me formulate a battle plan reminding me that I had a support system ready to battle with me.  They were reminding me that just like this hike, I was not doing it alone.  To say that I am glad that this happened to me seems kind of harsh but I can already see the good that is coming from it.  I can see how God is using it to draw me closer to Him.  I can see how God is showing me areas of my own life where I needed to slow down and learn the importance of rest and finding peace in His presence.  I am reminded of His great love for me and the importance of me sharing that love daily.

I know that there are those of you reading this who understand the battle you have been there and so bravely fought it or you know someone dear to you who has.  Thank you to so many of you who have shared your own journey as a way to encourage me.  To everyone else who is out there, your battle may not be cancer but it may be something else, relationship issues, the passing of a loved one, addiction, financial problems, etc.  Whatever it is know that God has not abandoned you and you are not alone.  He promises that when you seek Him with your whole heart you will find Him.  He is faithful.  As you allow Him to take control he will bless you with joy and a peace that passes all understanding.

Let me conclude todays post by sharing today's Jesus Calling devotion from today.  Once again it is a very timely message:

"The peace that I give you transcends your intellect.  When most of your mental energy goes into efforts to figure things out, you are unable to receive this glorious gift.  I look into your mind and see thoughts spinning around and round; going nowhere, accomplishing nothing.  All the while, My Peace hovers over you, searching for a place to land.  Be still in My Presence, inviting Me to control your thoughts.  Let My Light soak into your mind and heart until you are aglow with My very Being.  This is the most effective way to receive My Peace."  "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.  The Lord be with all of you".  II Thessalonians 3:16.

Thank you for standing with me and allowing me to share my journey with you.  May God bless you with a greater awareness of His presence and peace with each step that you take today.

Source: www.stampedwithaloha.com

Always An Adventure

This week my friend Lynsay is celebrating a milestone birthday.  

Lynsay and I met for the first time on a Stampin' Up! cruise where we both went to an afternoon tea on board the ship.  Kim Williams and I attended the tea and noticed Lynsay and her husband Bruce who were first time Cruise attendees.  We introduced ourselves to them and had an enjoyable tea time together.  Kim and I felt good after we walked away thinking we had done a good deed reaching out to this sweet new demonstrator from Canada who probably didn't know a lot of people on board the ship.

 It was a few months after that at a Stampin' Up! convention that Kim and I were at awards night together.  As the awards were given out we saw our sweet new friend Lynsay march across the stage MULTIPLE times to receive many top demonstrator awards.  Wow, not only was she sweet but incredibly talented and obviously a strong business woman.  We were amazed at her accomplishments and regretted not asking HER more business questions at the tea!

Over the years Lynsay and I got to become close friends at Founder's Circle (a gathering of the top Stampin' Up! demonstrators) which was usually held in St. George, Utah.  Before Lynsay attended Founder's Circle, when I was honored to attend this exclusive retreat, I would spend my free time shopping or by the pool.

However,  after I met and got to know Lynsay and her friend Meg my life significantly changed as they invited me to go on the most amazing outdoor adventures that I have since hash tagged, #adventureswithmegandlynsay.   

I remember on one of my first trips out with them they took me shopping for gear and at that time this was my idea of the perfect hiking boot.

My kind of hiking books - www.stampedwithaloha.com

My kind of hiking books - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Each year I would grow more passionate about the outdoors.  I discovered that I LOVED rock climbing and couldn't wait for an opportunity to go.  I would often go on more than one climbing trips while in St. George.

Discovering a new passion, Rock Climbing - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Discovering a new passion, Rock Climbing - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Another Paragon Adventure - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Another Paragon Adventure - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Lynsays adventurous spirit was contagious and I was hooked.  Over the years we enjoyed many crazy experiences together in the great outdoors.  It was fun to share these adventures not only with Lynsay but with Meg and Georgia and so many other amazing friends who joined in on the fun.

Kanarraville Falls Hike, Utah - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Kanarraville Falls Hike, Utah - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Another Paragon Adventure, Utah - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Another Paragon Adventure, Utah - www.stampedwithaloha.com

 

Last year was the final Founders Circle as Stampin' Up! was no longer going to host this event.  I will never forget the fun we had hiking, climbing and scrambling that day.  We even got to rappel off of an arch.  The day was filled with fun and laughter until we realized that this was going to be the final time we might do this for awhile.  We hugged on the mountain and the tears fell.  In between sobs,  I asked our guide Todd, "have you ever had a group of women crying out here like this before" and Todd replied, "well, usually if there's is crying it happens BEFORE the climb and not after".  We all laughed and then I snapped this quick picture so we'd never forget this moment and the bond that we shared..

Circle of Tears - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Circle of Tears - www.stampedwithaloha.com

I left that trip not knowing when I'd get to see Lynsay again but was so excited to find out that she and her family would be coming to Maui.  Derek and I flew over for a long weekend and we got to spend time with Lynsay and her family on that beautiful island. 

Grand Wailea Hotel, Maui - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Grand Wailea Hotel, Maui - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Just a short time after that we traveled to the Meditteranean with Stampin Up!    That was fun because it gave our husbands an opportunity to hang out and Lynsay's daughters quickly dubbed their friendship a "Bru-mance" because Derek and Bruce really seemed to enjoy each others company.

Something is "Bru" ing - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Something is "Bru" ing - www.stampedwithaloha.com

We had such a great time traveling through France, Italy and Spain together.  It was a trip I will never forget where we made many memories to last a lifetime.  

Working out on the ship together was great as Lynsay showed me her weight lifting routine and I did my best to follow her lead.  

Working out on the Norwegian Epic - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Working out on the Norwegian Epic - www.stampedwithaloha.com

We also shared many adventures searching for Gelato and Espresso.  We even jumped off a train together when we spotted one of our new favorite places for both of those treats.

Sipping Espresso in Cannes, France with Lynsay - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Sipping Espresso in Cannes, France with Lynsay - www.stampedwithaloha.com

It was while we were hanging out on the trip that Lynsay and Bruce invited us to accompany them on the Tour Du Mont Blanc.  A hike that they were going on in July in France, Switzerland and Italy.  It seemed like an impossibility at first but the more we talked about it and looked into it, it quickly became a reality.

Lynsay had explained the trip to me like this.... "it will be wonderful, you hike through alpine villages, eat 3 course french meals, enjoy sipping espressos in mountain huts and a luggage service carries your bags from hotel to hotel where you sleep".  Just hanging out with them sounded fun but with all of that other stuff, it sounded amazing so we agreed to go.  It wasn't until we got there that I started to realize what we had actually signed up for.

Tour Du Mont Blanc - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Tour Du Mont Blanc - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Here is how Wikipedia describes it.

 The Tour du Mont Blanc or TMB is one of the most popular long-distance walks in Europe. It circles Mont Blanc, covering a distance of roughly 170 kilometres (110 mi) with 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) of ascent/descent and passes through parts of Switzerland, Italy and France.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  It was also the most rewarding and amazing thing I've done in my life.  I can't even begin to write about it because was so magnificent.  I'm sure as you follow my blog you'll hear me refer to this experience from time to time but for today let me just share a few of my favorite photos of time spent with Lynsay on this incredible adventure.

Day two begins - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Day two begins - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Representing Stampin' Up1 at a Mountain Refuge - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Representing Stampin' Up1 at a Mountain Refuge - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Italy to Switzerland TMB - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Italy to Switzerland TMB - www.stampedwithaloha.com

The perfect place to sooth our aching muscles - www.stampedwithaloha.com

The perfect place to sooth our aching muscles - www.stampedwithaloha.com

A perfect spot to have lunch - www.stampedwithaloha.com

A perfect spot to have lunch - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Wherever he leads us, we will follow - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Wherever he leads us, we will follow - www.stampedwithaloha.com

We're ALMOST done - www.stampedwithaloha.com

We're ALMOST done - www.stampedwithaloha.com

So as you can see, my life has become incredibly more adventurous and blessed since getting to know Lynsay and her family! 

So to bless my adventurous friend on her milestone birthday I wanted to make something that would represent the great outdoors that she is so passionate about and has helped me to love.  

Here is the card I made with her in mind.

Always an Adventure card - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Always an Adventure card - www.stampedwithaloha.com

This was made with the new set Always an Adventure that comes in a bundle with these awesome framelits that you can create snow capped mountains and beautiful forests.  The words come from the set Cottage Greetings which also includes a Happy Birthday stamp that I used on the inside.

Since we just were hiking through the snow in the mountains I felt like this would be the perfect set to honor Lynsay on her special day and remind her of the fun adventures we've shared together.

I am so blessed to know her.  Lynsay has been such an encouragement not just to me but to Derek too and we are eternally grateful to God for blessing our lives with amazing adventurous friends like Bruce and Lynsay.

Whether we are climbing to the HIGHEST heights

Lynsay and Bruce on the TMB - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Lynsay and Bruce on the TMB - www.stampedwithaloha.com

or discovering creative uses for the "Bidet" which made us laugh till we cried.

How to use a bidet?  Let us count the ways!  - www.stampedwithaloha.com

How to use a bidet?  Let us count the ways!  - www.stampedwithaloha.com

From eating victory chocolate on mountain tops to discovering that coffee is best when you drink it from a bowl.

Discovering the joy of drinking coffee from a cereal bowl - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Discovering the joy of drinking coffee from a cereal bowl - www.stampedwithaloha.com

Life with Lynsay is always an adventure and I can't wait till the next one!

Happy Birthday Lynsay,  Thank you for being my inspiration in so many ways!  I pray that your special day will be filled with laughter, fun and a whole lot of love.  

 

 

Source: www.stampedwithaloha.com