gracefullhometheshop

Amy's story {my BRCA story}

This is part of my story. Click here to read the first post. Click here to read the second post.

My gynecologist and my breast surgeon share a patient and they wanted me to know her story. We will call her Amy. 

Amy tested positive for BRCA when she was 35. Her mom had survived breast cancer a few years earlier, so Amy thought she had time to make a decision about surgery and opted to monitor the gene for a while. Every three months she went through some form of screening, ultrasound, mammogram, MRI. Amy stuck with al of her appointments and the doctors watched her closely. Just two years into the monitoring plan Amy's doctor found breast cancer on an MRI. Since the cancer wasn't visible by mammogram yet, they thought it was in early stages. When Amy went in to get her double mastectomy the doctor found that the cancer was in her lymph nodes, stage 4. Amy was in shock. 

She had made a mistake. She wished she could go back in time. She was mad at herself for saying no to the surgery that she had to have anyway, the surgery that would have prevented the cancer that she now faced. 

Through these events, Amy decided that she wanted to be a voice for other BRCA patients. She offered her phone number to anyone facing this decision. She urged the doctors to use her story as a cautionary tale. 

My doctors did use Amy's story to influence their recommendations for me. They told me about her, about how she is in chemotherapy treatments now, about how they are all mad at themselves for not doing all they could to prevent this from happening. They were all shocked at how quickly the cancer progressed and at how, with the most careful monitoring, it still snuck by them and started to spread.

On Monday morning I met Amy. As I was being prepared for surgery my sweet nurse told me that she had read my chart. 

"I want you to know that you are doing the right thing," she said. "I am also BRCA positive, but I opted to not do the surgeries. I was only 35 and I thought I had time to think about it. I thought that if I decided my age 40 I would be okay." She lifted her surgical cap off her head to reveal no hair. "As you can she," she continued, "I don't have any hair because I am going through chemotherapy right now." 

I was a little stunned to be meeting this girl, the one who I had influenced our decision. The one who went before me. I had used her story as an illustration of God's grace in my life and his loving hand guiding our decisions with grace and peace. I told my friends over and over that I felt grateful for all the people who had gone before me to help me make this difficult decision. My mom, and my aunt, heck even Angelina, and Amy, who I had never met but was brave enough to share her story.

I didn't really know what to say. As tears filled both of our eyes I took her hand and thanked her for sharing her story. She told me that I was being so brave, and she didn't have the strength to make the decision that I am making. I told her it is just by the grace of Jesus that I can do anything and that God has graciously brought us to this point. It is of no strength of my own. 


Amy squeezed my hand a led me back to surgery. The next time I woke up I was in my room with the Dude. I said in groggy, slurred speech, "Isn't that crazy about my nurse?" He said, "I am so glad we got to meet her."

I came home Tuesday and shared the story with my mom. I hadn't shared her name yet and my mom interjected, "is her name Amy?" "Yes, how did you know? 

Turns out, just days before my mom had met a lady wearing a relay for life shirt. As a cancer survivor my mom always takes notice of that kind of thing. She asked the story behind the shirt. The girl said she was wearing it for her friend and co-worker, Amy, who was battling breast cancer. Mom stopped right there and prayed for Amy.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.


— Isaiah 55:8-12

Sometimes God's Word does not make sense with our own thoughts. We ought to go as deep as he calls us into the reckless, risky place of faith. If he is with you in that place, you are better off than being by yourself in a place where you stand on your own two feet. - Priscilla Shirer

progress

I love art of all kinds. I paint, sketch, enhance art digitally, and dabble in chalk art. Ideas are constantly flooding my mind with new projects, too many to actually accomplish. 

In my shop, I have a custom order listing where I can design a print to your specifications. This is my most popular listing and keeps me pretty busy, so I only list a limited amount at a time. 

Recently, I had a pretty special request. My friend's husband knocked on my door with a giving key in hand and asked me to create a piece of art that would feature this key and include a treasure chest and a verse about leadership. His hope is to display the art on his desk {so it can't be too big} and give the entire piece to someone he mentors in the wisdom and truth of the gospel.

Did I mention I also love a challenge?

Immediately my wheels began spinning. I don't really work in mixed media much, so the key threw me a bit. But when I came across my super talented and creative friend, Amy's, etsy shop I got inspired.

I decided to take on a form of art that I have never tried before, intricate paper cutting. My plan was to cut the treasure chest design out of paper and have the key slide into the lock. The paper cut design will sit slightly forward in a shadow box frame and the verse will be hand-lettered on some fancy paper in the background. {I'm thinking wood grain.} Sorry if you can't picture that. This is a work-in-progress, but as soon as I am finished I will update this post with the final result. Assuming of course that it doesn't all just go up in flames.


Paper cutting is a meticulous form of art. Very time consuming and detailed. What you see in this picture is only about 1/3 finished and has taken several hours. As I was sitting in the quiet this morning, the only audible sound the soft cutting sound of my knife, a metaphor came to mind.

There are several tiny pieces of the paper that I want to cut away and discard and I work very carefully to do so. The same is true of me, I am daily being cut apart, gently, patiently by a loving artist who is creating a good work in me. 

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
— Philippians 1:6

I must work slowly to get good results. Sometimes I wonder why God doesn't just get on with the work he has to do in me. Do you ever wonder why sanctification has to exist at all? Why can't we just move straight from justification to glorification? Maybe it is because His work is gentle, and kind. He doesn't want to rip us to shreds, he wants to create something beautiful. And that takes time. 

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
— Philippians 2:13

If I don't miss a piece that is meant to be cut out, then the picture won't look right in the end. God will cut out all of the dross and throw it into the fire in order for me to be conformed to the image of his son, his completed work in me.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
— Romans 8:29

If the paper could talk, surely it would express pain in the process, after all my knife is sharp. Oftentimes I rail against the process of my sin bits, little and big, being cut away. It doesn't feel good. There is pain in the process. But the end result is so worth it. 

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
— Psalm 51:15-17

A sharp knife and a steady hand yields better results that a dull knife and a lack of intention. God's sharpest tool is his word.  He uses it to cut the dead off cleanly, without injury. I, unlike the paper, can resist this and in the end be torn up a bit. But if I let the skilled artist use his sharpest tool, I will come out with a clean wound that is able to heal and grow.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
— John 15:1-5

Who knew there was so much encouragement in cutting paper? I certainly hope my friend, her husband, and the eventual owner of this piece will be as blessed as I was in creating it. It is truly a blessing to me to be able to create art that point to the true Artist. Thanks for letting me invest in you in this way!


Grace and Peace,

Elizabeth Ann

she did what she could

So.... I'm assuming you came back for the big news that I teased you with yesterday. Well, let me just start by saying thank you for being interested!

gracefullhome will be on Etsy on November 10th

gracefullhomelogotheshop

If you have been readying along for very long, you probably have noticed a sketch here and there. About a year ago I started converting my sketches into digital art so that I could do things like animate them.

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Well, that little project turned into a new hobby for me. I have always been drawn to graphic lettering and writing styles and interesting prints that showcase meaningful phrases. As I began to sketch more and more I began to realize that sketching verses that are meaningful to me and song lyrics that move me can be a form of worship. So I began to pray that God would take this worship and be blessed by it.

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A few months later I asked the Dude what he thought about us opening an Etsy shop with my art. His reply was, "I'm not saying no, I'm just saying not yet." Boy, am I grateful for that man's wisdom. Although I didn't know why or completely agree with the "not yet" answer, I went with it because things always work out better under the submission of my husband.

Turns out, God had a lot of things to deal with in my heart before I was ready for this step. Things like:

Why do I want to make this art public? Is it for me or for Him? Is it for my glory and fame or His?

What are these feelings of inadequacies in my heart? Why am I discouraged when I look at other people's artwork? Why am I always comparing myself to others and coming up short?

What is my goal with this online business? What will the money be for? What does that reveal about my motives to open a shop?

 

All of these questions were brought up and dealt with in the most merciful and gentle ways by the Father. Through a Bible Study session at church, a conversation with a friend, and in the quiet morning moments with it is just me and my coffee. He is gentle in his reproving of me, and I am thankful. Now I can honestly say:

It doesn't have to be perfect, or the best, or anything special in anyone's eyes because it is for You. You are the creative Creator, you have given me the ability that I have, no more, no less, so I will give it back to You. I will do what I can right now to worship You with all You have given me.

In the quiet hour orange rgb

And that is what my art is, a form of worship. Extremely enjoyable and exciting worship. Most of what you see will be verses or songs that have stuck in my heart for one reason or another and my natural inclination is to draw them out. Sketching helps me think as I ponder whatever is circling through my mind. I'm thrilled to be able to share this part of myself with you. A part that was fearfully and wonderfully made and knit together just for me. The gracefullhome shop opens on Etsy on November 10th. I would be honored if you will stop by! {I'll add a link on that day to make to easy on you!}

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