TO BE WELL

If you had asked me last week, “Catie, are you well?” I would have told you no. 

The weeks leading up to last week were not kind to me. Between a series of rejections, failings, and flare-up of my auto-immune disease, I emotionally collapsed. I did not feel well mentally, emotionally, and physically. I wanted to cave. I wanted to quit. I wanted to be sad. Not a great place to be. I was letting my outward journey determine my inward journey. I was letting disappointments dictate the wellness of my soul. Negative thoughts can be quite alluring in the valleys of life. But what does negative thinking achieve? Nothing. Does it make me feel better? No. But did I feel justified in my negative thoughts–yes. That’s the catch. That is what makes them alluring. I feel I have a right to think negatively and be sad and throw myself a this-isn’t-fair party. So I did. I dwelt in that space for a few weeks. It made me more depressed.

Then, God spoke to my heart and said, “Enough. It’s time to move on.” He, of course, was right. It was time to move on. I cleaned up my office space. I put my storyboard away. I filed all current books-in-progress. I have to stop striving to make things happen that just aren’t happening.

I can’t control my health. I can’t control my publishing career. I can’t control the unknown. But, I can rest in Jesus. I can let go. I have to let go. 

In my last novel, Marvel and Mayhem, my main character, Mattie, wrestles with anger toward the song and belief, “It is Well With My Soul.” She feels that the song was a lie. Life hasn’t been good to her. Each character in Marvel and Mayhem is confronted with hardships on some level and must respond to it–either with resentment or surrender to God. My youngest character in the novel, Effie Emery, understands surrender. She knows that no matter how bad things may get, with the Lord holding our hand through it, we can still say, it is well with my soul.

As you can guess, I’m more like Mattie. Surrender doesn’t come natural to me. But God hasn’t given up on me. I see more clearly now that God called me to write Marvel and Mayhem because He knew I needed to process this journey with Mattie. We are connected, her and I. God has been leading to me a place of relinquishing control and placing my trust in Him.

The lyrics of the old hymn say, “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

I’m still working through this. It doesn’t come natural to me. BUT, I know one thing for sure, I am reaching out and God is reaching back. This is WELL. With Him holding my hand, I can be WELL.

 

If you are interested in my novel, here’s a quick link for more information:

https://amzn.to/2Wv17Oa

 

 

 

 

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Reflections

I’m glad it’s a new year. Just the thought of a new year is like a breath of fresh air. It’s a clean slate of months. More opportunities. New chances about to unfold.

And I’m ready.

2018 was hard. Very hard. It took its toll physically, mentally, and financially. If I could sum up the year in one word it would be—PAIN. I was in pain the whole year. The tests of 2017 led into 2018, searching for answers to the pain and the constant problems inside of my body. After exploratory surgery and a cystoscopy, we finally reached a verdict. The urologist diagnosed me with interstitial cystitis (a chronic bladder disease) and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Good, I finally had the reason. But now, what to do with that? The answer—a complete life change. My entire diet had to change in order for my bladder lining to repair itself. Everything that was acidic, citrus, or acid-forming had to be removed from the menu. Basically: no chocolate, no sugar, no soda, no alcohol, no gluten, no tomatoes, no fruit (other than blueberries, pear, papaya, watermelon), no regular coffee, no cultured milk (sour cream, etc), and no boxed foods with preservatives. The list is longer but you get the picture. Talk about a transformation. Suddenly, I had to cook everything from scratch and learn to be creative in cooking.

The next piece of the puzzle was physical therapy on my bladder and pelvic floor. When I began therapy in April 2018, I cried each time I went home. I knew the therapy was supposed to help, but it hurt. Advil and I became close friends. Nevertheless, I went, each week, for therapy, knowing the pain would lessen. And it did, over time.

Today is February 17, 2019. I sit at my desk writing this blog, and I’m not in pain. I attribute that to diet change, therapy, but also…To God. I cried out to Him at lot in the last year. I wept. I curled up with a hot pad and wept. I know He heard me. Interstitial Cystitis is an incurable disease, but I’m living proof that pain-free days can still be possible. I have flare-ups from time to time, but oh, to have days where I’m not plagued with pain is glorious! To be able to run with my kids again. To be able to have dance parties with them. To be able to clean my house without paying for it the next day. All these things tell me that God has had His hand on my life. He not only spoke comfort to my body, but He also spoke comfort to my heart.

2019, I’m ready. I’m ready for you and all the possibilities.

3 Truths That Can Calm Your Anxiety

This is a post from my friend and fellow author, Christie Thomas. It spoke to my heart this morning and I hope it will help you too. Enjoy.

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Snowflakes swirled around us as we said goodnight. He brushed accumulated snow off his car, then drove away, leaving deep tracks in the road. No one else wanted to drive tonight, but he had to get home. And home was 2 1/2 hours down a dark and slippery highway. It was a weekend like any…

via 3 truths to remember when the storm rages — Christie Thomas

Celebrating Milestones and Miracles

Miracles still happen. I know it. I’ve seen it. My nephew is walking proof.

As a baby, Levi was diagnosed with a rare disorder MECP2 Duplication Syndrome, which causes  intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, speech abnormalities, seizures, low muscle tone, etc. The doctors didn’t know what milestones Levi would be able to accomplish.  Would he ever sit without support, crawl, play with toys, ever eat on his own, ever speak, ever walk?

At first, his little arms and legs were flimsy like wet noddles. Without a miracle, he wasn’t going to meet these developmental milestones. But…Oh Yes…BUT… we knew and believed in a wonderful, awesome God who could strengthen Levi’s muscles. AND HE DID. As Levi’s parents worked with Levi, as physical therapists worked with Levi, as occupational therapists worked with Levi, as his teachers, and day care workers worked with him, God moved through their helpful hands. Levi’s body grew stronger and stronger. And now…He sits. He crawls. He lifts a fork. He plays with his toys. He flips the pages of books. He communicates with his hands and noises. He walks, all by himself!

The Main Man, Levi.

To celebrate these accomplishments, Levi’s parents held a big party on Saturday. The amount of friends and family who flooded their lawn and barn moved me. The joy we all shared as we watched Levi stroll around was contagious.

Levi’s Therapists and Friends Along With Levi’s Mother and My Sister, Carmen (Second From the Right).
Levi and His Teacher
Bounce Houses and Outdoor Activities
Guests Inside the Barn
Face Painting
Levi and friend, Scott, from school
Friend, Emma, Showed her Support
My sister, Carmen, and Levi’s friend, Sirius
Levi’s Buddy, Cohen, and His Parents Came to Show Their Support.
Way to go, Levi. Keeping beating those odds.

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 Thank you to Everyone for Their Prayers and Support.

 

Handling Change: Insight from Author Lynn Austin

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My book club pictured with Lynn Austin.

I had the pleasure of hearing multi-published author, Lynn Austin speak two nights ago. She spoke about how the world continues to change but there are three things that can help us and our children as change comes.

  1. Remember that God is unchanging. We can put our hope in Him because he is certain and secure. We have complete acceptance in Christ, not for what we do, but who we are. Nothing can separate us from His love.
  2. Find God’s plan for your life. You are significant and your life matters. We have a purpose in this life.
  3. Live by God’s words (the Bible)

The New Cordero Family Flock

Over the last year and a half, our flock has changed due to old age, sickness, and the addition of new chicks. So today, I’d like to introduce you to our current flock of chickens.

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VELVET

Velvet – She is a sixth-month-old Black Australorp hen. Her name is derived from the look and texture of her feathers. She is a total beauty. Currently, she has an itch to become a mother, and hoards eggs below her in the nest box hoping that they will hatch. Trouble is that we butchered the rooster three months ago so none of the eggs are fertilized and won’t ever become baby chicks. I’ve tried to reason with her and have pushed her out of the nest box several times, but the truth isn’t sinking through her thick feathers. Nevertheless, I admire her determination even if it’s a complete misguided nonproductive unfruitful attempt at success.

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COCO CHANEL

Coco Chanel- She is another gorgeous Black Australorp hen who is best buddies with Velvet. Her feathers show nicely like a little black dress. She enjoys strolling around the pasture looking for bugs.

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HELGA

Helga – She is one fiery dame. She’s got enough attitude for the entire house of hens. And she’s a finger pecker. It’s painful. I’ve given up on showing her attention.

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ROSALINA

Rosalina “Rosa” – Rosa is a Rhode Island Red and best friends with Helga. She is a skittish girl but lays eggs like a champ!

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BLONDIE

Blondie – Named after the female rock singer and for her blonde feathered butt. She’s a year and a half old Buff Orpington who lays light brown eggs.

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GRETCHEN

Gretchen – She is my favorite girl. She is sweet as a sugar cookie and likes to be petted and held! When we go into the pen, she’s the first to greet us. I love you, Gret!

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JOSEPHINA

Josephina “Josie” – Josie is a special girl, and she’s a walking miracle. About five months ago, she developed a limp. Chickens don’t usually recover from a limp. The hen’s health will decline, and the other hens will gang up on it. We monitored Josie daily, and I prayed for her. Slowly, the limp healed and now she’s perfect. God does care about the small things! And He loves his creation.

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GINGER

Ginger – She is the number two in the henhouse line-up. She has just as much strut as Ginger on Gilligan’s Island.

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ARETHA

Aretha – She is Queen of the Chicken Castle. She leads the flock of girls, and they all know it. Her breed says it all: She’s a Black Star. And that’s the truth, she’s the star of the show.

 

#EggLayingHens #Chickens #FamilyFarm

I Had Given Up on Prayer

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My scull can be thick. But thank God, He’s a master carver. And He has pared past my unbelief, doubt, and fear.

And He has shown me this…prayer isn’t futile. It isn’t merely dead words as I thought. Perhaps you think I must have been quite calloused and distant to ever think prayer ineffective, and to which I say, you’re right. I was. I was angry. I was jaded. I was hardened by the misfortunes dealt by the cards of life.

I entered church ministry as a newly twenty-year-old with rose-colored glasses and left fives years later with blackened shades. I felt abandoned by God doing the very thing I thought he’d called me to.

In the wake of this, baby number one was born a success, but my body was not. It took seven months of physical therapy to correct my pelvic floor and keep my hips in place. But finally I was strong enough to continue my dream of more children.The lenses of my glasses became darker when the ultrasound for baby number two didn’t show a heartbeat. I couldn’t understand how a child I’d dedicated and prayed for the moment the pregnancy test read positive was now gone. I felt abandoned again.

The abandonment accumulated as my sister lost her first child and then I miscarried again, losing baby three. I couldn’t believe I had lost another child. Especially since I had specifically asked God this time to please, let this child make it. To please let this child be healthy. My prayer wasn’t answered (so I thought). My glasses weren’t just black anymore; they were impenetrable. I was blind to hope. I felt worse then abandoned; I didn’t care if He was there for me anymore. I didn’t want to talk to God. Of course, as a good ‘Christian’ mother to my daughter, I continued the evening prayer, for her benefit. How trite.

When the test read positive for baby four, I was scared. As a high-risk pregnant woman, I wasn’t sure what would happen. I wasn’t sure if my body was even capable of holding life. And mostly, I wasn’t sure if I dared ask God for his help. But there came a day, eight weeks into the pregnancy, where I began to bleed. At two AM, I woke my husband, crying. The contractions had started. My body was trying to miscarry, again. My husband turned on all the lights. I lay down, scared. Miserable. He knelt beside me and put his hands on my abdomen and prayed. A fervent prayer. He claimed life and rebuked miscarriage. He prayed on and on. Until the contractions stopped. The bleeding stopped. And today, I have a son. His name is Gabriel, which means, “Strong man of God.”

In those early, terrible morning hours, I learned something.

Prayer does work.

It works! It isn’t futile. God does hear. And even more so, He showed me that he heard each prayer and answered all of them. They simply weren’t answered like I had expected. I asked for healthy, full-term babies. And they are. Shiloh and Selah are healthy and were born full-term in heaven. Their natural bodies couldn’t sustain life in our world, but they are thriving in heaven. They’ve gone ahead of me, but we’ll have eternity to spend together someday.

My glasses have been washed clean, as forgiveness has entered my heart. I blamed God. I was angry with Him. I thought he had abandoned me. But I now know the truth.

He never left and when I was at my worst, he was still present. Rooting for me and waiting for the blindness to clear.

Thank you, God. I now see.

My 6 Strategies for Successful Writing

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With a preschooler and four-month old baby, I have plenty to occupy my day. So when those blessed moments of writing time arrive, I need to make the most of them.

Here are six strategies that help me and hopefully might help you as well:

#6. Coffee- For me, coffee and writing go hand in hand. Try brewing a cup, maybe two. Double your pleasure, double your fun.

#5. Personal Music Playlist- I like to listen to music that inspires me while I write, which usually boils down to well-written music. Among my iTunes line-up are: Counting Crows, Coldplay, Alison Krauss, Phil Collins, Mumford & Sons and a dash of awesome 80’s hits for kicks!

#4. Character Storyboard- With each novel, I print pictures of people that mirror the characters I envision inside my mind. Then I pin the characters with their name tags on a cork-board beside my computer. It is a constant visual.

#3. Recheck My Chapter Timeline- Before I even begin writing a book, a detailed outline is formed. I design concise chapter by chapter timelines that layout my novels from beginning to end. There is always room for creative tangents and turns, but I prefer to have direction instead of writing blind. Therefore, when I sit down to write, my time is used more efficiently. I know where I left off and where to pick up simply by reviewing the timeline.

#2. Free-write- Get it out, then clean it up. I hate getting hung up on a scene and then forgetting the great idea I had for another. Get your thoughts down first. You can always go back.

#1. Prayer- I’m not so creative that I can do it on my own. My best ideas come from the Lord, every time. He is my faithful writing consultant, editor, inventor, teacher, and motivator.

Happy Writing!

I think I’ll go brew a cup of Meijer Organics Breakfast Blend. It’s sensational.

Release the Cat…my new motto

Sometimes, claws are a good thing.

Recently, I dressed like Catwoman for a costume party. And I quite enjoyed being a cat for the night. It was empowering. I felt like Anne Hathaway all in black ready for the attack. Yes, I was all fired up.

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But the next day arrived, my costume was put away, and I went back to my daily apparel: t-shirt and yoga pants. Wasn’t quite as empowering. But a thought occurred to me…just because I don’t have on the costume doesn’t mean the cat is gone. She just needs to rise up to the occasion.

Life can get tough, or boring, or frustrating, or many things. It can disappoint and bring self-doubt. The mind can race with anxiety or critical, self-deprecating words.

And it in those moments, the claws need to come out and fight against the doldrums. Fight against the depression. Fight against lies Satan is whispering in your ear. It’s then that you need to: RELEASE THE CAT.

Get a little mad. Release the cat!

HA! I love this new motto. It’s completely silly and kind of stupid, but let me tell you, it does work. It helps put you in a mental place to fight.

Today, I had some internal battles and just thinking to myself: “Catie, it’s time to release the cat,” made me feel better.

Try it out. RELEASE THE CAT.

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An_Attack_Cat

Picture References:

http://www.hollywood.com/news/movies/34622682/the-dark-knight-rises-why-anne-hathaway-s-catwoman-is-the-best-one-yet

http://www.bubblews.com/news/1219997

http://stuffpoint.com/home-pets/image/75449/angry-cat-ready-for-fight-wallpaper

http://www.2funnycats.com/super-cats/silly-cats

http://www.hahastop.com/pictures/An_Attack_Cat

Band-Aid The Broken

I decided to re-post this blog because several friends of mine are experiencing the same pain that prompted me to write this over a year ago.

Band-Aid the Broken

As many of you know, I lost my daughter Shiloh in December 2011. I felt like my heart was split wide open, aching and bleeding. Four months later, my sister lost her first baby. I felt my heart’s wound widen and the pain grow deeper. Then in August of 2012, I lost another baby, my darling Selah. I didn’t know how a heart so torn with grief could continue to beat. And sometimes, I wondered how I was still living when I felt dead inside.

Through that pain I journaled:

Surviving a Broken Heart
The news comes so unexpectedly
At first all is well, then ends in tragedy
To lose a life so small it seems
Unfair with all the sorrow it brings
How can a heart survive the blow
That grief drives in so deep, so low
It filters through the body and more
The spirit, the soul, they all feel sore
Lord mend the wound that bleeds inside
Send peace and grace into my mind
I can’t walk this journey alone
I need your help to make me strong

One night as I lie sleepless in bed,  God showed me an incredible picture.

I saw my heart with a jagged wound down the middle, but pulling the wound closed was a big pink “Hello Kitty” Band-Aid. I could tell the wound wasn’t bleeding anymore and that it was sealing shut with the help of the Band-Aid.

A memory flashed through my mind of me as a child repeatedly falling off my bike and scraping my knees. I’d come into the house crying. My knees would hurt so bad. They’d be torn up and bleeding. Dad or Mom would rub my back and tell me it’s going to be okay. They’d wash away the blood, put on triple-antibiotic ointment, apply a Band-Aid, and place a kiss on the boo-boo and say, “All Better.”

This is what Father God is doing for me.

I came to Him with my torn heart. He looked at the wound and said, “It’s going to be okay.” He wiped away my tears and rubbed my back. Then He washed the wound clean with His love. He applied a potent triple antibiotic salve of peace and covered the wound with a Band-Aid. Placing a kiss on the boo-boo, He says, “It will heal.”

Thank you, Lord.

Thank you that you Band-Aid the broken hearts.

I put my trust in you.

My heart is safe in Your hands.

Thanks Daddy, I’m feeling much better.