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A Great Story

I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to coast. Only for a brief moment- not forever, not even beyond a year. Just a significant season of life where it wasn’t necessary to fight. Fight mentally, spiritually, physically or emotionally. I desperately crave the life my imagination is made of, a life devoid of all problems. A life where I felt secure and completely confident in what I was doing and its capability to launch me into my destiny. A life without illness. A life of simplicity.  Aww yes, simplicity, success, romance and Jesus (of course). All of this at my fingertips, without hard work or tears. You know, picture perfect happiness, just like I see on my Instagram feed. *insert wink*.  
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I would be in the thick of my very lucrative, highly respected and successful career, that allows for power heels and high waisted pencil skirts. I would have the feet and abs that allowed for power heels and high waisted pencil skirts. Natural abs, which required no effort on my part to develop for my metabolism was anointed by the Lord. I would have seamlessly fallen into this profession immediately after graduating from a college program that would have adequately prepared me for the workforce. A program that was fully paid for on account of my awesomeness. The man of my dreams would have relentlessly pursued me after accidentally bumping into me at a coffee house. He spilled his coffee and I dropped my muffin and the rest was history. One year later he proposed by candlelight after a carriage ride in the park. This is how I would tell the story at annual Christmas parties and to unwilling strangers on cruise ships. The screensaver on my phone is an Easter portrait of my perfect little family, highlighting our 3 perfect little girls. They cause just enough trouble to supply me humorous topics for happy hour but nothing that requires prayer. Perfect angels, that live in a perfect house, who’s perfect mom has found a perfect man while wearing the perfect high waisted skirt and power heels. 
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In this narrative, there is no growth. No authentic accomplishments. Nothing was learned. There is no winning because there is no fighting. There is no resolutions because there is no conflict. It’s predictable and boring. Therefore, this story sucks.  
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Everyone knows that in every great story there is conflict, a problem that must be solved. Conflict draws us deeper into a great book or movie, so much so that we make sequels with new problems to solve, new dramas and new challenges, just so our great stories may continue to be told and that we may celebrate new victories. Conflict also draws us deeper to God, as we grow increasingly aware of our humanity and need for help and refuge from life’s great trials. Conflict draws us closer to ourselves, as it forces us to examine who we are and what we are made of. It’s the conflict, the fall and failure, that makes for excellency! What would the bible be without the fall of Adam and Eve? Boring!  
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The “perfect” life would have produced the stagnation of my spirit. While my life would have been filled with “accomplishments”, my spirit would have had none. Like a muscle that has never been used, my spirit would have atrophied, and IN me nothing would have produced. No strength, courage, peace, integrity, love, patience, or power. There is no true progression or forward momentum in perfection. Do not waste your time daydreaming of a world that will produce IN you nothing. Accept your challenges. Face them head on. Smile at them. For you know the Lord is in the midst of writing a great story! This story doesn’t suck. This story is fantastic. 
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Gym Revelations

About 3 weeks ago I received a “Survivorship” packet from my medical team at Dallas Methodist. It outlines everything I need to know about how to care for myself after cancer. This packet is thick, requiring a phone conversation with a nurse, who stressed the importance of following the instructions inside. It’s a template for the lifestyle I should live for the best shot of staying in remission.
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I haven’t opened the packet yet.
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Because I’m suppose to be done! Remission was suppose to be the end of this story. Every time I open the folder my insides groan at the thought of having to be mentally aware and actively practicing anymore routines related to my health. I’m tired of thinking about surviving; I simply want to live haphazardly without scrutinizing over harmful food ingredients, mandatory checkups and exercise regimes. Can I have one year of reckless living?
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No I can’t. Honestly the majority of us can’t afford to, whether you’re a survivor or not. So I’m fighting the temptation to ignore the work that comes with survivorship, and making some intentional life changes. The first: exercise.
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So, I accompanied my sister to the gym this morning. She promised to show me the ropes and walk me through her exercise routine. I actually was excited to be acting on something as important as this- it was time to get this body fully healthy and in shape. After all there is kingdom work to be done!
Y’all, the gym kicked my tail! This is the most out of shape I have been in my life! Between gasping for breath and questioning if I’ll see tomorrow, a revelation came when the Lord spoke to me saying, “This is why you haven’t opened the packet. You didn’t think you could do the work.”
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Well dang.
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I automatically counted life change as unlikely, for I doubted that I had the strength or drive to do it. I was fearful of the work ahead, fearful of failing once again, fearful of committing to a new way of living because I knew it required a deep, soul stirring work. This was deeper than a diet or a Pinterest inspired ab workout- this was about healing my soul which had been crushed by years of illness. This was about the lie that I can’t do “fill in the blank”. This would be the second fight for my life in which I would be reminded of my fragility. This was more than laziness, rebelliousness or ignorance- this was a psychological war in which I would fight for my strength, worthiness and capabilities.
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What is it that you’re procrastinating? On the surface it seems you are just putting something off until the next day, week, month or year, but truly you’re running from it. And we have to ask ourselves, “Why does this torment me so? What makes me hide from my responsibilities or dreams?”
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So, I’m allowing God to do the work in revealing to me the answers to these questions. I have a feeling that most of them will come while on the elliptical at the gym.
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Savior

A little episode of PTSD kept me from falling asleep a couple nights ago. In these rare moments, my mind fixates on the idea that I am not going to be alright- my life will be taken from me and surly I will die. The root of these thoughts are deep, birthed out of my mother’s death in 2011. Since then, I have irrational thoughts of being afflicted, just as she was. While I have grown tremendously in this area, the thoughts sill come on rare occasion, and I’m stuck in anxiety.
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In the thick of the panic, I cried out to God for peace and calm, for it was internal anxiety I could not will myself out of. And so, I prayed and in the midst of tear soaked prayers, God reminded me that He was and is my salvation. He brought to memory various situations in which He has saved me; a testimony of His greatness. I kept the list of saving grace on repeat over and over in my head, until a calm fell over me, because certainly if He did it before, He’ll do it again. We often want to erase the bad from our memories, but I want to hold on to them just enough, so that they may operate as reminders of victory and my undefeated God. The very breath in my lungs serves as a reminder that I have survived the worst days of my life and that the Lord is a continual savior! So in the racing of my thoughts, as I rock back and forth in the thick of darkness, I will my mouth to speak out loud the things that the Lord has saved me from: 
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1. You saved me from Mental Breakdown
2. You saved me from Abusive Relationships
3. You saved me from Drunk Driving
4. You saved me from Cancer
5. You saved me from Sickle Cell Anemia
6. You saved me from Pulmonary Embolism
7. You saved me from Fatherlessness
8. You saved me Starvation and Homelessness
9. You saved me from Dangers Unseen
10. You saved me from ME
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What has the Lord saved you from? Reach back to your past and recall the moments in which you thought you would never make it, when it seemed that your mental stability or very life would end. You were at your breaking point and yet you are still here! Because you’ve been saved, and mercy has surrounded you! I encourage you to write them down, and keep them close. This list serves as your reminder that the Lord your Savior is a faithful rescuer.
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And surly if He’s done it before, He will do it again.
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Therefore, I’m free.