CATERFLY-CAPTURES: AMBER WILSON

(Today’s CATERFLY-CAPTURES I am featuring a dear friend of mine, Amber Wilsonphoto-4. You may know her as the popular and highly accredited food blogger, “For The Love Of The South.” Since the day Amber and I met through a destined meeting in our church’s bathroom (I tell ya, women and bathrooms-ha!)…we’ve quickly become forever friends. She is one of the most beautiful of women both inside and out. Not to mention crazy creatively-gifted and wonderfully humble about it all, too! (You should definitely head over to her site to see—you’ll be so glad you did!) I wanted to share with you this snapshot of Amber’s story from her graduation over ten years ago. It’s so amazing to see her now—you would NEVER have imagined what she walked through! AMAZING!! I pray this also gives you hope in the area you need it most!)

“In Times of Graduation:

I can almost hear the applause, feel the square-shaped diploma holder in my hands, and feel the weight of the world being lifted off of my shoulders. Walking across that stage will not only be a victory for myself, but it’s a reminder of everything God has brought me through. The short jaunt across this platform represents a leap of faith.

This cap and gown are only for the ceremony. The smile and wave to the family are for the photos. My steps do not only reflect these past few years studying, but they reflect doing the impossible for God. Doctors told me that I would never be able to attend a normal university. But here I am, staring at a stage, with cap and gown in hand, thinking back to the miracle of God that brought me to where I am today.

My “impossible” situation began long ago, whenever my back was burdened with a bone tumor. I was 15 years old. I saw more of the hospital than I did of a football stadium or my school cafeteria. Originally, I was told my back was broken. I comforted my family by saying it could be more serious; it could have been a tumor or cancer. Then a day later, we got a call saying that it was a tumor. I said, “It could always be worse.” Who was I to complain about my situation? God used me through many lives along the way. One story stands out in particular.

There was a nurse that took great care of me. One day, we started talking about God. I told her that I didn’t know why I was going through this trial, but it was for a reason that was greater than me. She paused for a moment and then began to tell me about her life. She had a son that was the same age as me. He had a strong relationship with God, one that she never quite understood. Her son was diagnosed with leukemia and had passed away in the same room that I was laying in. She continued to say she never understood why God took away a person with such faith in Him. She told God she would never let go until she found a child with the same faith her son had. There in front of her, speaking out of the mouth of a child in the very room her son passed away in was God. His great peace allowed her to let go of the anger of her son’s passing. God brought me there for this nurse. For her and many others that felt that same peace and saw God in the eyes of a child.

There was a short time when we did not know if the tumor was benign or malignant. I knew if it were cancer, God would take care of me. Fortunately, this rare bone tumor was not cancerous, but there was a chance for it to grow back in my lungs. There have only been 2 other people with the same disease and one of them passed away. The odds were not in my favor but God was. The tumor never grew back, but what I was left with was permanent nerve damage that affected the use of my left leg.

I am constantly reminded of the pain. I bear scars like everyone else. They tell a story. They tell God’s story. I am at awe of God’s amazing grace and power. Through therapy, I was told that I would never be able to be like everyone else. There are better days than not. Through these past four years in school, I have been involved in yoga, kayaking, rock climbing, writing, photography and cooking. I have yet to miss more than 1 day in a semester in college. Everyday that I have been able to sit in a classroom is a testimony to God.

So this achievement today is more than just an achievement in my education. It represents doing the impossible for God. I would rather live in this daily pain and remember what God has done for me than to have never been in pain at all. I will carry this with me like a cross as I tread across the platform, receive my diploma and thank God for being my mountain mover in life. Here’s to the next step in life. Here is loving deeper, living whole and never complaining about my circumstance. Who am I to complain?”

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CATERFLY CAPTURES–AUTUMN

“My name is Autumn and here’s a snapshot of my Caterfly Story….    

photo cred: Kara Dicarlo

photo cred: Kara Dicarlo

So many people ask me why I am obsessed with butterflies? Why they are in my room, on my walls, and in my car? Why they are tattooed all over this “perfect” pastor’s daughter and why they are so important to me? Well, this “perfect pastors daughter” didn’t always have it so perfect–still don’t and that’s what people don’t see. It’s also the beginning of my Caterfly story…

I’m 19 years old and I used to feel like I’ve lived 100 years…fear will drain you like that, if you let. When I was little, I struggled with something called, “Separation Anxiety Disorder.” It wasn’t that bad…Or so I thought. It started when my mom became pregnant with my little sister. Then we needed to find a new home. Then my parents BOTH got a new job. And, THEN I had to go to a different school and THEN, the panic started. That was a lot of change for me then and my life also dramatically changed from that point on.

I can remember my dad pulling up to the school in our car and me just sweating bullets in the leather seats. Fear would come up through the palm of my hands and bottoms of my feet–it was a never-ending nightmare. My dad had to walk me into school while I was sweating and squeezing his arms each step of the way. The whole dropping me off for school thing…no longer worked for me.

Everyday I walked into that school making eye contact with my teachers, principals, and counselors and everyday I’d hear the same question, “Autumn, are we gonna have a easy day or hard one?” Funny thing is, there never had been an easy day. I would turn my head and start to panic and waited to feel more than just my dad’s hand wrap around my small body. I waited to feel them rip my arms away from him…and this was every day for 2-3 years.

AutumnI became physically sick every day at that elementary age because the panic attacks and adrenaline were tearing my body apart. The day came where my mom said, “We just can’t do this to her anymore, we are done.” I left school that day and didn’t return until seven years later. Seven years of not leaving my mom’s side. Seven years of panic attacks and horrible moments. Seven years of going on every date, pastors conference and counseling meetings with my parents. Seven years of doing whatever my mom was doing and going WHEREVER she went because…I couldn’t be without her. Seven years of sitting on the toilet while my mom showered because being outside the door would just be way too far away.

During those seven years, I felt like I completely lost my identity. I didn’t know who I was anymore and I didn’t care. I wanted this life to just stop, even if for only a couple of seconds.

How did I come out of the fear hole? Continue reading

GOD CARES ABOUT COFFEE

God cares about coffee.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”             photo-2

Four months ago, I stepped out on some Jesus-water and in Abraham-style faith…resigned from my job. My heart had been woo’ed for quite some time before I took this leap, but my passion to share with others the messages of “Caterfly” and increased health challenges tipped me over. So much could be written about this sojourning season I’ve been in, but let’s get back to why God cares about coffee.

When the changes of my financial status came along, so too, holding it’s hand came some tightness in my budget. Needs vs wants type of deal. Well, one of the “wants” first to go was my foo-foo-fancy coffee-drinks from one of numerous charming coffee shops found around this lovely town of Nashville. No sob story here…but just wait ‘til you hear how much God cares.

I hadn’t really dwelled much on it, but last week, ON THE DAY OF CHURCH (http://www.thebelonging.co) , I shared two separate heart whispers with God about my desire for one of those coffee-drinks. NO ONE ELSE BUT GOD WOULD HAVE KNOWN.

Imagine sitting in a crowd of hundreds, when a beautiful young lady goes to the front of the church during an appropriate time to share and basically speaks of this unknown information?

She said something to the effect of: “God put this one person on my heart and I actually don’t know who it is, but you’ve been giving regularly and you haven’t seen a change in your finances. And for you budgeting is really tight. And to the point where…and this might sound kinda stupid, BUT THIS IS HOW MUCH GOD CARESthis person has had to go on without buying coffee, maybe on their way to work or during the week. They don’t buy coffee at Starbucks or wherever you go anymore because you have to live on such a tight budget. Your trying to trust God and you’re doing the right things, but you haven’t seen the breakthrough. WHO IS THAT?

I have not been wrecked like this in a long time. I was so overcome by God’s love that I sat there and wept for most of the remainder of the service and continued when I found more blessing in my purse later that night. A total of $336. Enough to pay my bills, tithe off of that, give an offering, and…buy myself some yummy foo-foo-coffee-drink.

NO ONE ELSE BUT GOD KNEW.

May you be encouraged by my testimony and know that God knows and cares about you. He hears you and loves you so much! So delight yourselves therefore in Him and He WILL give you the desires of your heart…even if it’s as silly as coffee. Because remember…

God really does care about coffee. : )

(Malachi 3: 10)

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. TEST ME in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”