October Happenings

Oh my. My daughter just informed me.

The year 2024 is closer than the year 2005.

This of course has nothing to do with anything currently spinning around my little mind. I’m sipping a Pumpkin Spice iced frappuccino sweating in 90 degree weather and sniffing my unlit cinnamon pumpkin candle (too hot outside to light). These are my meager attempts to capture autumn. The calendar informs me fall arrived last week, but each day feels like endless summer. Just like 2005 feels closer than 2024.

Today I am reminded to base my faith on facts, not feelings. I don’t feel any different the day before, the day of and the day after my birthday. But the fact is each birthday marks the passing of another year. Okay, and sadly the fact is I need reading glasses now. God’s character and His Word remain steadfast and unchanging. My feelings are fickle and change based on my circumstances. We do well to invest in knowing and learning about the facts of our faith rather than rely on our feelings to dictate how we decide to live.

Didn’t expect the rabbit trail. The original purpose of this post was simply to share a few fun opportunities to hear radio interviews about Warrior In Pink coming up in October. And also to ask if you are the praying type to pray for the different speaking events. I’d be grateful for your prayers in the coming weeks.

IMG_2724Mark your calendars and please share with your friends:

  • October 3rd I’ll be sharing my cancer story at the St. Jude’s Breast Cancer Survivor’s annual retreat in Brea, CA
  • October 5th and 6th radio interview with FamilyLifeToday (those of you in southern California can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 8:30am). Will also be available to listen online.
  • October 12-16th radio program Discover the Word (those of you in So Cal can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 1:30pm). Also available online.
  • October 15th I’ll be sharing at Biola University as part of their annual Torrey Conference
  • October 21st. Interview with Jamie Ivey on her popular podcast The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She will be giving away five copies of Warrior In Pink. Meeting Jamie and conducting interviews, taping IF:Equip videos and participating in the racial reconciliation roundtable at the IF:Gathering in February was one of the main highlights of the conference.
  • October 23-25th Darrin and I will be speaking at the UC Santa Barbara Cru Fall Retreat

Happy October to you all!

Receive the Missing Max Chapter

It’s been quiet over here on the website. Quite the opposite of life over here in my little corner of the planet. Have decided to go off grid for the remainder of the year. Needing time to reflect and decompress. My soul craves quiet on the inside and outside.

But before I bid you adieu I wanted to “gift” you with the “Missing Max Chapter” that was cut from the final “Warrior In Pink” manuscript. My little Christmas gift to you. Simply subscribe to receive email posts in the little box over there on the left. You will need to confirm the subscription when the email arrives in you inbox.

I won’t be mailing out the chapter until the end of January. And I promise I won’t sell the list or use it except to announce important events or opportunities.

Hope you enjoy the extended version.

May your Christmas and New Year be filled with meaning. And may God give you eyes to see all the blessings in your life beyond the material.

much love,

viv

MAX - HEAD SHOT

Perspective From a Son And a Psalm

October is winding down. I can’t remember a fuller Fall. No easing in. Spring boarding off an incredible summer of ministry and training with student leaders from across the country, I jumped into the deep end of ministry activity at the start of this school year. Exhilarating, challenging, humbling, fun, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g.

  • Joined Darrin’s Epic National Field Ministry team. I’m serving with some of the finest leaders and friends during an exciting time of growth and fruit. Even more convinced than ever who you serve with is as important or maybe even more important than where you serve.
  • Speaking schedule has been varied and extremely enjoyable. In addition to speaking a retreats and events, I’ve tried out new modes of teaching. Did my first webinar and first podcast this fall.
  • Started back working on my MA at Talbot Seminary (yeah Class of 2045!). Taking a hybrid version (online and two-three hour “in human” classes) of Hermeneutics/Bible Interpretation has given me a greater appreciation for the Scriptures and humbled me to the core.

One of many significant take-aways from my class has been shifting my focus from “What does this Bible verse say to ME” to “What does this passage of Scripture say about God. His character, His will, His attributes, His ways, His heart. Perspective off self onto God. Not only is this lesson coming through my seminary class, I’ve also been challenged and blessed by my son, Michael. He and some of his friends have been taking turns writing devotionals to encourage one another from the Bible. He shared this devotional with me and with his permission I’m sharing part of it here with you. Hope it blesses you as it did me.

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Read Psalm 8.

As a whole, the psalm is simply glorifying God. Think about today’s Christian music. How much of it is about what God does for us, and then we praise him after that, because of what he’s done for us. Worship is not meant to be about what God does for us or how much stronger we are because of the things God does for us. Worship is simply praising God and glorifying him. We need to start removing ourself from worship, because it takes away from the glory God truly deserves. Reflect on how you can simply glorify God like this psalm does, and not bring yourself into it.
 
Now pay special attention to verses 5-8. How significant is it that God put us in charge of his creations. In spite of our imperfections and how unworthy we are, God allows us to tend to his creations. He even says that we are just a little lower than the angels. How can we be better stewards of what God has given us in this world, whether it be material things like money and possessions, or things like talents, abilities, the friendships he’s put in your life, and your spiritual gifts. How can we use these to glorify God rather than ourselves, and be stewards of it, constantly aware that we don’t own or deserve any of it.
 
How can you use one (or all) of your spiritual gifts to glorify God? This week? This month? For the rest of your life?
How can you constantly remind yourself that nothing you own is yours, and through that depend on God more? And how can you steward it to the best of your ability?
 
Michael’s encouragement to worship God for who He is, not what He does for us along with the reminder that our lives are not our own and to steward well all God has given is so timely in light of this past month.

As we wind down breast cancer awareness month, here are a few more blogs highlighting “Warrior In Pink.” Grateful for these friends who are hosting book giveaways on their websites. Seriously. If ever you wanted to get a free copy of the book to keep or give to a friend, now is the time. And if you don’t win, my publisher is offering Warrior In Pink for the special price of $7.99. You can order here.

  • My friend, author and speaker, Donna Jones is hosting a giveaway here.
  • First podcast with a fellow writer I met at Mount Hermon Writers Conference, Bethany Macklin, here.
  • New friend from Canada, April Yamasaki, is hosting a giveaway here.

Feel free to leave Michael a comment below if what he shared ministered to you.

Celebrating 5 Years Post Cancer Treatment!

Five years ago, on October 22, 2009, I wiped tears out of my ears. Lying still on a cold metal table I couldn’t hold them back. Silent tears of exhaustion and relief rolled out of my eyes and pooled in both my ears. After clearing out my ears, I glanced around the dimly lit room one last time. A quiet prayer of thanks and then I rushed out of the room and down the hallway, determined to never set my eyes again on the hand painted flower mural covering the cement walls. I renamed the basement radiation office “the dungeon.” For six weeks I walked around smelling like a giant tube of aloe vera gel. Every morning, Monday through Friday, I would take my place on the cold table under the Star Trek Enterprise looking giant zapper. Thirty-three radiation treatments to eliminate any lingering cancer cells. I started hunching my shoulders to keep my blistered, angry lobster-red skin from touching my T-shirts. Finishing radiation treatments marked the end of active treatment. Ten long months of active treatment. Three surgeries, 32 physical therapy appointments (to help regain range of motion and later to treat lymphedema), six rounds of chemotherapy and losing all my hair.

Five years ago I finished active treatment for breast cancer. At the time, I wondered if this day would ever come.

darrin and viv sans hair

For many cancer survivors the five-year mark is a milestone. For me, every year is a milestone. Watching Jonathan graduate from high school three years ago, shouting an extra loud “Woohoo!” as Julia promoted from elementary school to intermediate school last spring, and looking forward to this weekend as Michael attends his Homecoming Dance and begins applying for colleges in the coming weeks–I relish each and every one of these milestones.

I finally worked up the courage to ask my oncologist about recurrence. She shared that the aggressive type of cancer most young women are diagnosed with usually recurs within the first three years post active treatment. For my type of cancer, she said if it would return it would be in 7-10 years. So, though I am able to go through most days now without any thought of cancer, I find there are days when unwelcome fears circle around and enter my mind. On those days I am faced with the choice of how to proceed. Do I live in “what-ifs?” Do I obsess? Do I lay down my anxious thoughts and receive each day as a gift? Most days I walk in freedom knowing my days are numbered by the One who knows how many hairs have regrown on my head.

As I shared in my last post, along the way I have met remarkable people who have come alongside to help and encourage during both the cancer journey as well as the writing journey. This theme of community plays on repeat now in my little life as I go along each day. My soul has been altered for the better having been loved so well. My mind is filled with the faces of family and friends near and far who rallied, prayed and carried our family through the darkest days. I lift my pumpkin spice latte with deepest gratitude to each of you who came alongside us. Thank you.

I am also so grateful for these friends who are hosting book giveaways this week:

Gillian Marchenko, author of “Sunshine Down” is hosting a book giveaway here.

Lesley Miller, fellow Redbud Writer and friend, is hosting a book giveaway here.

And here’s my first article for Today’s Christian Woman, “Caring for Friends with Cancer” here.

Oh, and an hour long live Interview on My Faith Radio program here.

The month is not over and several other opportunities still remain to win a copy of the book. Keep checking back.

And join me in raising a pumpkin spice latte to celebrate five years cancer free!

 

Meeting Warriors In Pink

Cancer is no respecter of age, race, faith, socio-economic status, life-stage. All of us have been touched by cancer whether personally or someone close to us. The day after receiving my cancer diagnosis, Darrin and I sat in a cold, sterile office with a nurse practitioner. In addition to receiving a crash course on all things breast cancer, a bulging folder stuffed with pamphlets about treatment, we also learned statistically most everyone will deal with some form of cancer in their lifetime. Sobering news. Sadly, I’ve found the nurse’s words to be true.

This past weekend I enjoyed the company of the wonderful women from Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles. The theme of this retreat: “A Willing Heart.” Several women shared how cancer touched their lives. Our shared experience connected us; the theme applying on an entirely different level. What blessed me was seeing their warrior hearts, their willing hearts and also seeing the loyalty and love of friends and family who came alongside to help.

Following the retreat I had the privilege of FaceTiming and joining, via technology, a gathering up in San Francisco. My dear friend, May, pulled together an impressive team of women who walked 40 miles (not minutes, which would be about what I could handle, but MILES!) this past July in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. This photo is missing two others who were part of the team.

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They sweetly included me as an honorary team member. I was out-of-state during the walk. Honestly, if I joined them they would have had to dump me into a wagon and pull me along. 40 MILES. Wow. I did, however, wear my matching shirt, personalized with surVIVor, on race day. My heart remains grateful for these women and their families. Their willingness to train and walk, raise money and awareness blessed me. My heart is especially grateful for May and her loyalty and love throughout our cancer battle.

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With the continuation of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to highlight a blog post I wrote following the Webinar with Fullfill Magazine on “Helping Those Who Hurt.” I am grateful for this book review written by friend and Cru ministry leader, Andrea Buczynski. You can read it here.

And here is another place to enter for a free copy of Warrior In Pink. Asian American Women on Leadership blog is giving away a free copy, you just need to comment to be entered into the drawing.

Another five copies of the book will be given away later on this week over at Today’s Christian Women magazine and several more bloggers are also hosting giveaways. I’ll be sure to let you know when and where.

Still more to come!! Stay tuned!!

Warrior In Pink Book Giveaways

Warrior In Pink. The book is traveling to places outside the United States. I received this tweet from a woman in Uganda:

Earlier in the week I found out a friend was sending the book to a friend in Scotland! Another friend mentioned it was being read in Central Asia. I’m all goofy-face grinning.

Here are a few other places with book giveaways:

The amazing Mary DeMuth edited Warrior In Pink. She is offering a book over at her website. So far only one person has entered so your odds are ever in your favor (*high Hunger Games British accent voice). Click here to enter:

I’ll be participating in a webinar on Wednesday October 8th with Elisa Morgan, editor of Fulfill, cohost of Discover the Word, author, and gifted leader, teacher/speaker.  Two books will be given away during the webinar. The topic is “Helping Those Who Hurt.” The webinar will be interactive with content, polls, and opportunities to ask questions. Click here to sign up for the webinar until midnight tonight (Oct. 6th).

One more day left to enter the drawing over at Robin Lee Hatchers website. Click here to enter.

Still more to come! Also, I’d love to hear if you know of the book being read in countries outside the U.S. :)

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

“I hate cancer. I hate thinking about another person having to battle cancer. I hate that you will walk the painful treatment road. As much as I hate cancer, I want you to know from my experience that God used cancer to expand my heart. I have met some of the most remarkable people on this journey. I have been blessed in thousands of ways by the thoughtfulness and generosity of so many. I am not the same woman today because of cancer.”

-excerpt from letter to a newly diagnosed cancer patient in “Warrior In Pink”

What? October!? I’m seeing pink everywhere. Two enormous horses towering outside PF Changs Restaurant at the Mission Viejo mall are painted pink. It must be October.

This is going to be one crazy month! The first Breast Cancer Awareness month after the release of Warrior In Pink. Yesterday I relished the sweet reunion of half of the Oasis group, Mellanie, Paula and Annie, along with Leila of the Awesome Threesome (those of you who haven’t read the book yet, these descriptions will all make sense after you read the book).

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The five of us drove up from Orange County to Los Angeles to participate in Kaiser Permanente’s Pink Day Celebration. I shared a bit of my cancer story with 1000 folks comprised of cancer patients, friends of survivors, employees at Kaiser, and fellow “Warriors In Pink.”

signing "Warrior In Pink" for a fellow warrior in pink

We marveled together thinking back over the past five years, never imaging the doors God would open. These dear friends are at the top of my list when I think of examples of people who love well.

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The Pink Day Celebration served as a great kick off to what will be a very exciting month filled with book giveaways. I’ll be linking up on this blog to other websites hosting book giveaways or highlighting the book. This is your chance to win a FREE book. Or if you have friends who are interested, please let them know about the giveaways. FREE COPIES. What’s not to love?

Some of the remarkable people I refer to in the excerpt above are authors like Robin Lee Hatcher. She has won every award in existence for Christian Fiction authors. Robin was the first author to endorse my book. A fellow Warrior In Pink, she has generously promoted my book from the moment she read the unedited version sent by my literary agent. Robin has posted an interview on her blog that I did with my friend and fellow Redbud Writer, Dorcas Cheng-Tozun (also in the remarkable category), who interviewed me about my cancer journey and road to publishing. Thankfully Dorcas is gracious and understanding. I forwarded the interview we did together to Robin thinking I would reconnect over the content, and then didn’t follow-up (#newbieauthor #loopybrain #notgoodwithdetails #thestruggleisreal). With Dorcas’ permission, we have reposted the bulk of her interview.

I will be linking in the different websites and book giveaway opportunities on this website, so you will be receiving a good chunk of short posts in the next four to five weeks. Please share with your friends. And if you are the praying type, I would deeply appreciate your prayers during these next couple of months.

  • Book Giveaway over at Robin Lee Hatcher’s website here.
  • Blog over at CaringBridge (the medical blog I used during cancer treatment) here.

Stay tuned! More to come!!

 

No Accidents

I’ve been turning the house upside down looking for my driver’s license. Flying out tomorrow to Baltimore and remembered identification is necessary to clear security. That, and small earrings. Don’t wear jumbo big metal ones. Trust me. I remembered the passport for identification option but discovered mine expired in September 2013. Sigh.

Online last night, around midnight, I found out the next available appointment at the DMV landed on May 21st. Sigh. So after dropping Julia off at school I gathered my coffee, big water, big bag-o-stuff (Darrin keeps telling me I should get a wagon!) and headed off to the dreaded DMV. Sigh.

The line ran out the door. Sigh. 

Temperatures are hitting the mid 90’s today and the sun was beating down. Sigh.

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Bumped into a couple from church so we caught up a little while waiting for our numbers to be called.

Two hours of waiting. Sigh. 

All the while I thought about my to-do list, my overturned wreck of a home, packing, prepping and which nail polish goes best with a hot pink dress. Finally, finally, FINALLY the electronic voice announced my number over the speaker. I smiled and worked my way up to the counter. Rainbow loom bracelets in little clear baggies greeted me. I thought to myself, “I bet she’s a mom.” Then I noticed the Bible verses tacked up all over her cubicle. I smiled wider and said, “I’m a Christian, too.”

Instant connection.

I shared how I needed my driver’s license because I was flying out tomorrow to speak at a church in Baltimore about my cancer journey. Whipped out a bookmark from my big bag o stuff, and  shared about the crazy journey to publishing. She shared, “I’m a two-time survivor.”

No accidents who we meet.

She showed me a picture of her beautiful daughter. I learned she was a single mom. Finances were tight. She wanted to know if the book was available on Kindle since the prices generally are cheaper. I smiled even bigger,

“I’ve got a book for you in my car.”

“Really?” She brushed away tears, “Oh, these are happy tears.”

We both agreed. It’s never an accident who we meet. And even when life seems “off” or inconvenient, God is at work. We are on assignment. A much larger tapestry is being woven and spun and you and are I part of God’s plan unfolding.

My new friend and sister in Christ, Angelica, is a shining bright light in the otherwise dismal DMV. God is using her to make a difference in the lives of hundreds who walk through the doors of the DMV. How grateful I am to have met her. How grateful to know I will see her again.

Navigating Chaos

I watched this YouTube clip of the Ethiopian Intersection today in the quiet of the house. Kids in school. Husband at another ministry meeting. Second cup of coffee. Face still unwashed. Unsettled soul. I laughed out loud. Then cried. This video describes well how I currently feel.

My literary agent mentioned, after being in town for The BEST Book Launch Party EVER, on our way to the airport,

“Don’t be surprised if you feel a let down in a few weeks after the dust settles.”

I nodded but inside I thought, “Pshhhheeesh. I’ll be fine.”

The same response I had when Darrin and I attended a marriage conference as an engaged couple.

“Psshhhhheeesh. I doubt we’ll deal with any of the stuff that guy talked about.”

Almost twenty-three years of marriage and I humbly admit we have dealt with all the stuff the guy talked about and more.

So, of course, my wise agent proved wise. Except I didn’t realize the funk I felt until I watched the video. Life feels chaotic but somehow no one has gotten run over. Yet.

If left to myself I hold my breath and expect one pile up after another. And yet, in the midst of chaos, everyone in the video is getting to where they need to go. Even the pedestrians walking THROUGH the center of the car maze (did you see them?).

Honestly, when I think about life nowadays, I’m sobered. More often than not, life does not line up neatly. No lanes, just a general sense of the overall direction. Most of us are living lives different than we pictured. I realize, as I watch the video, my tendency to want to play it safe. Why even head into the chaos? Why not just stay put. Maybe watch. Maybe criticize the road designer. The drivers. The pedestrians.

But I have heard the Shepherd voice. My life is not my own. Currently He is leading me through external chaos like the intersection. Terrifying. Unknown. Stressful.

But I have pledged to go where He leads.

And I trust in the end that His path proves most worthwhile.

How about you? How do you navigate chaos?

Offering Everything Back to Him

She asked me to tilt my head forward, combed my wet hair straight through to the ends, and then looking at me while we both faced the mirror she said through her smile, eyes twinkling,

“It’s long enough to donate, you know.” 

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Wow. It would be like coming full circle!”

She threw her head back laughing, and with her warm, Alabama accent she declared,

“That’s exactly what I was thinking! Full circle.”

Last Wednesday, the official release date of “Warrior In Pink,” I had an appointment with Jesslyn to get my hair cut. The same Jesslyn who has always, always cut my hair. The same Jesslyn who knew I was pregnant before I knew because she could tell the texture of my hair had changed. The same Jesslyn who gifted me with the sassy magazine haircut when I was diagnosed with cancer and knew I would go bald. The same Jesslyn who came over to our house to shave my head when the harsh chemo meds began taking over my body and my hair began to fall out. The same Jesslyn who styled my crazy “muffs” when curly chemo hair grew back.

Fighting back tears I replayed in my mind those milestone moments with Jesslyn.

Full circle.

And how wonderful. How absolutely appropriate to donate my hair back to someone who would be walking the now familiar road of cancer treatment.

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And symbolically the donation of my hair reflects the place the book holds in my heart. I’m seeking to offer everything back to Him.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things…

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Cancer has altered my hair from stick straight to wavy curls. And cancer has altered my heart. The One who remains unchanging through each and every twist and turn is the One who has sustained, provided, led, and loved with perfect faithfulness.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

We are blessed to be a blessing.

He is worthy of our all, our everything.