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Scars

Scars

I used to think scars were something you could see…external…visible. I used to not have many scars. Then, four months ago, I had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, and suddenly all I could see were the scars.

Throughout the recovery and reconstruction that takes place after a mastectomy, not only did I stare at my visible scars everyday, but I started to see and feel scars that weren’t visible to the eye. The scars that were deep, but that I couldn’t see, began to come to the surface. My past, my pain, my mistakes, my shortcomings…they all seemed to be reflected back at me. It was as if I looked in the mirror at my new visible scars, and the old scars from the inside came seeping out.

I couldn’t run away from the pain anymore. I couldn’t pretend that I was enough, because I just wasn’t. Looking in the mirror was hard for a while. My body was physically different and my soul was healing, maybe for the 1st time ever.

I always said that I believed that God was who He said He was, and that I was worthy of His love, but now, it didn’t seem like it. It seemed like everything hurt. Everything was different.

Having surgery was the right decision for me and my family, but it didn’t make the pain and the healing any easier. It was a process. It was a process that I honestly wasn’t ready for. I thought I knew what to expect. I thought I knew how hard it would be.

But I never expected the Lord to use the months during my recovery to show me all my scars. I never expected this process to be so hard.

As I sit and write this post tonight, I am three weeks post exchange surgery, meaning the reconstruction process is finished and now we move on from this process onto the next adventure the Lord will place before us.

But the process of healing is ongoing. It’s a conversation I’m having with the Lord. I whisper my doubts to Him about what I see in the mirror, the pieces that are beautiful, but that aren’t me. And He whispers back to me a sweet reminder of who He says I am. Beautiful. Adored. The child of a King.

Scars or no scars. Visible or invisible. He loves me the same. He loves me the same today as he did before I ever had a visible scar. He loved me before I could see the pain and the process and the recovery journey.

There’s nothing I can do or say or think that will ever make Him love me less, so why would I look in the mirror and let the devil lie to me about my mistakes or my shortcomings or my pain? The devil wants me to look in the mirror and believe my sin is unforgivable.

But the Lord says, YOU ARE FORGIVEN.

The devil wants me to look in the mirror and think that I’m not enough.

But the Lord says, YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH.

The devil wants me to look in the mirror and believe that I’m not beautiful.

But the Lord says, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE ADORED. YOU ARE MINE.

And maybe you’ve looked in the mirror and believed the same lies. Actually, I don’t even have to assume, I’m sure that you have believed the lies. You’ve heard it haven’t you? “You’re not enough. Your sin is too great. You’ll never be as beautiful as those other women. You’ll never be as good as them”

They’re lies. Lies from an enemy that would want you to believe that your scars can and will define you. Whether internal or external, we all have scars, but our God promises to use them. He promises to use our scars to bring glory to His kingdom. He promises to use our scars for good. The question is, are we willing? Are we willing to look in the mirror and deny the devil the right to continue to lie to us about what we see? Are we willing to look right back into our own reflections and tell ourselves WHOSE we are?

I started asking God how He sees me. I started asking Him who I am, and he started to whisper back. I kept asking because honestly I didn’t believe Him. “Surely you’re talking about someone else. You can’t be saying those things about me because I don’t feel those things.”

I was believing my scars would make me weak. I was believing the lies of the deceiver.

How little credit we give ourselves, friends! How little we value our worth when we stand in the mirror and see our scars reflected back at us.

Ask Him who are. Ask Him again and again. See what He says and then start to walk in it. Tell yourself every single day. Start to believe that you are who He says you are.

In Christ, you are:

without rival

made in the image of God

adored

fought for

won

beautiful

chosen

YOU. Yes, you, were chosen by God to do good work that only you can do. Do not for a second let the devil trick you into thinking your scars or your past or your sin or what you see in the mirror can stop you. YOU are a child of God.

You are fearless.

You are a light.

You are mine.

Those are the words he kept whispering to me, over and over again. Even when I told Him I wasn’t those things. I was scared and sad and lonely. He whispered them anyways. Over and over.

I am a fearless light…a daughter to the creator of the universe, and I will not believe the lies of the enemy. I will use my scars as fuel to fight the good fight and bring glory to my Heavenly Father.

This my friends, is how we FIGHT. Join me. Believe Him. Deny the devil the satisfaction of your doubt or fear, and let’s do the good work we were put here to do.

Our scars will not define us. They might actually begin to show us who we really are.

{I hardly ever write a post without at least one picture, but because of the subject, I just couldn’t find a picture that I felt did the subject justice, so there just aren’t any. Look in the mirror after you read this, and ask God how He sees you. That’s the picture I want you to see.}

The Dalkes at the Masters: Monday’s practice round

The Dalkes at the Masters: Monday’s practice round

I never imagined I would be at the Masters. I’m a golf fan…..sort of. But I’m a HUGE family fan, and when you’ve got a pretty incredible golfer in your family, you become a golf fan. I may screw up the other players names, but it’s no biggie, I came to watch one kid play, and I know his name.

My baby brother-brother-in law, Brad Dalke, will play in the Masters this week as the youngest player in this year’s field at only 19 years old. A sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, Brad is one of five amateurs playing in this years’ Masters tournament.

This is a (possibly, hopefully not) once in a a lifetime opportunity of our family, and we’re all here cheering him on. We’ve rented a large family home just outside of Augusta where we’re all spending the week together…minus Brad of course, who will be staying in the iconic and legendary Crow’s Nest at Augusta National reserved specifically for the Masters’ amateurs.

After our first day at the Masters, we’re officially calling it Disney World for adults. From the moment you approach the grounds of Augusta National, you feel welcomed with Southern hospitality. Security guards, ticket scanners, restroom attendants….everyone working or volunteering at the course is welcoming and accommodating.

Brian and I walked onto the course with hundreds of fans on a day that was fairly certain to be accompanied by rain, but it didn’t stop the fans from showing up.

As soon as we were on the course, we grabbed a list of the players and the course ettiqute, and there he was….”Brad Dalke” in print listed with the best golfers in the world.

Brad, Bubba Watson, and Steve Stricker teed off at 8:30 from the 1st tee box. I’ll be a woman of a few words from here on out and let the pictures do the talking….

Dalke with his caddy, Chris Beckner

the iconic Masters food…pimento cheese sandwiches, moon pies, and beer in a green cup. Prices have never changed in the history of the tournament so we bought all that goodness (plus one more sandwich) for $9!

Now What?

Now What?

We have finally come down off an event high after an amazing week in Nashville at this year’s Scentsy Family Reunion. We heard from the most inspiring speakers, had a blast with our team, and Brian and I even had the chance to present on stage with the improv group, Second City Works.

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Our Star and SuperStar Directors had an amazing day of upper level leadership training led by Vanderbilt University. We filled up the Grand Ole’ Opry two nights in a row, and Scentsy even bought out the Wildhorse Salon for us one night.

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As usual, we left Scentsy Family Reunion feeling spoiled, loved, encouraged and appreciated. What more could you ask for? Oh and there was lots and lots of confetti!

But if you’re like me, you can walk away from an inspiring event and then get home and stare at your computer and wonder, now what?

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I’ve had a couple days to process and decide what’s next for me, and I thought it might help you get your thoughts and plans in order too. Here are my tips on what to do now that you’re home and the Fall season is just around the corner.

  1. Focus 1st.
    Decide what you want to do with your business over the next 6 months and get rid of all the extra fluff. One technique I use to do this is to Brain Dump. Just start writing on a piece of paper. Everything you learned. Everything you saw. Everything you’re excited about. Everything you want to do. Write anything and everything that comes to your mind. Then re-read it and use it as a launching point to clear your mind and narrow your focus. Answer the questions “Who am I?” “What do I want from my business?” “Who can I bless with this opportunity?” and go from there.
  2. Plan Ahead and set your goals accordingly. 
    The Fall season is quickly approaching and with school starting soon for most of our kiddos, it seems like once August 1st rolls around, it’s Christmas before we can blink an eye. So the plan is essential. Decide where your sales are going to come from. Are you going to look into events, book home parties, focus on online parties, host fundraisers? Make a decision and start filling in your calendar. Make a goal for each month (you may want to base your goals around earning that free trip to next year’s Family Reunion, or that glorious trip to Punta Cana, or AFRICA!). You’ll need a personal sales goal, a team building (recruiting) goal, and a goal for the number of contacts you plan to add to your list for each month. As you’re planning, keep in mind your personal events (birthdays, travel, etc) as those things may alter your goals one way or another. Set aside time to work your business. That may mean getting up before your children (gasp!) or working late at night, but if you want to see different results, you have to do something different. Decide how many opportunity conversations you’ll have in a month and how many samples you’ll pass out. You can do this! Make your plan!IMG_3603.PNG
  3. Remember what matters.
    Relationships are what this business is all about. Cold calling is never a good idea. I know that no one really cold calls anymore (because people don’t call people), but messaging me on Facebook just to tell me about your business is basically the same thing as cold calling. Relationships really do matter, friends. As you’re booking parties, sharing the opportunity, and adding people to your contact list, do it with others in mind. Care about what’s going on in the lives of other people. Ask genuine questions. Be honestly engaged with others. Does that take more time? Absolutely. But it’s more effective in the long run and will drastically increase the fruit you see from your efforts.
  4. Stay inspired.
    After an event, it’s easy to feel built up and inspired, but after we’re back at it for a while, we can lose a little bit of our sizzle. To make sure you stay inspired, make a commitment to taking care of yourself. That looks different for everyone. For me, I regularly journal about the blessings that have come from our business. It reminds me why I’m passionate about Scentsy and helps me stay focused to help others reach their goals. I also practice self-care through reading regularly, working out, and turning it all off at night….meaning you won’t find me responding to messages or emails after 5:00. Also, if you’re a leader, make a commitment to share regularly, meaning, make it a point to share what you’re doing in your business, what you’re learning or the latest idea you heard. When you make a commitment to sharing, it helps you keep your brain full of great ideas and encouragement that will not only keep you fueled but will benefit your team as well.
  5. Fight the fear.
    The fears and doubts in your head, they’re liars. Stop listening to them. Remember who you are. You were put here to do something only you can do, to tell a story that only you can tell. And the work you do matters. It matters to your family, to the people you get to bless with this opportunity, and to the world. This is a about more than wax and warmers, this is about loving well, giving more, and growing ourselves and our team members. So don’t let fear stop you from doing great things. Look in the mirror, YOU are your biggest competition. Try to be a little better today than you were yesterday and give yourself some grace when you need to. Stop expecting perfection and start working towards progress. When you feel the fear, remember what Mel Robbins taught us, 5-4-3-2-1. You can do this! Fight the fear.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get out there and bless some people with the best home fragrance on the market and the best direct sales opportunity there is.

Surrender

Surrender

I took off my jewelry and slipped it into my purse. I checked my phone one last time before heading into the MRI room. The technician came in to ask me another round of questions.

Is there a history of cancer in your family?
Breast or ovarian?
Anyone tested positive for BRCA 1 or 2 in your family?

Yes, yes, and double yes.

She notes that I’m positive for BRCA 1 and 2 with no comment. What do you say to that?

After I sign my name at the bottom of several consent forms, she prepares to start my IV. She makes small talk. How old are my kids? What do I do for a living? I appreciate the distraction.

The high risk specialist comes in to take my blood for a research donation. Michelle and I become rather acquainted over the past couple years. My mom and I are the only two patients in her program with a positive mutation for both BRCA 1 and 2.

As she’s drawing my blood, she asks, “Is this your 1st MRI?”

“Yes.” I reply.

“Unfortunately it won’t be your last,” she reminds me.

Day to day, it’s easy to forget the burden of knowledge that being BRCA 1 and 2 positive carries, but every time I’m at the breast center, the reality is big and undeniable. I can’t forget. They keep reminding me.

Michele smiles and says she’ll call me with the MRI results and that she’ll see me again soon. Unfortunately it’s true. As a high risk patient, I have to have some form of imaging every 6 months.

The MRI tech returns to take me for my scan.

She introduces me to Kim who smiles sweetly at me. They help me get face down on the table and gear me up with ear plugs, headphones and a blanket. They remind me to stay still.

Over the hum of the MRI machine, the only thing I can hear are the voices in my head.

I walked into the breast center that morning thinking about how no matter how many people are in my life supporting me through this, I ultimately have to take every single step forward on my own. No one can go in the MRI machine with me. No one can go through surgery or recovery with me. No one else can battle the demons in my mind.

And for a moment, facedown on that table, I wanted to weep. The feeling of being alone was nearly overwhelming. I closed my eyes and lifted a one word prayer toward Heaven…”Lord…”

That was it. I didn’t know what else to say.

This was a race I didn’t sign up for, but found myself running anyways. I showed up at the starting line unwilling and felt as though I was the only one running it.

My mind tumbled back to Michele’s earlier comment, “It won’t be your last MRI.”

“We’re just trying to catch it,” I thought for the 1st time since my genetic results came back. “We’re just trying to catch it.”

No one really even knows my risk. The risk of a BRCA 1 or 2 carrier to develop breast or ovarian cancer is anywhere from  50-80% over their lifetime. There aren’t any real statistics for a BRCA 1 and 2 carriers. They believe it to be closer to an 85% chance overall.

So we’re just looking. Over and over again until we find something, basically.

The burden of knowledge. This race I didn’t want to run.

My mind is overwhelmed with the loneliness of this tube and this sound and the thoughts in my head running in their own directions.

And then, a realization.

Here I am, facedown on this table. Arms raised above my head. Unable to move or speak. Unable to even pray signinifcantly.

This is surrender.

This is my surrender.

No, I didn’t want to run this race. I wouldn’t have signed up for it willingly.

Am I grateful for the knowledge? Of course. Everyday. But it’s heavy and burdensome and unsteady.

And all I can muster up to pray is “Lord.”

But it’s all I needed to say. The mention of His name was enough to cover me. The feeling of loneliness fled, and the beautiful reminder that I am never truly alone covered me. I was under the cover of Christ.

It’s true that no person on this earth can walk every step with me, but Christ will never leave. In the MRI tube, through any surgery that may come, in the midst of recovery….He will be there. He fits in the tube, on the bed, in my head.

He is the beginning and the end, and I ultimately believe that this race is just one more that will draw me closer and closer to Him.

I know that none of this will be done alone. I know that in my soul and my heart. My mother is breast cancer survivor who lost her mom (my Grammy) to ovarian cancer. My mom carries the same gene mutations that I do. My sister will also walk this road (is already walking it, really), but later on, she’ll have to make the same decision I will soon about surgery and prevention. And my husband will make every decision, pray every prayer, and go every step that he physically can with me. I won’t be alone. Of course, that’s what the devil would have me believe.

But feeling alone in that MRI machine turned out to be a blessing. It allowed Christ to remind me that I’m not alone. That He is ever near, and that He will cover me when the people I love most on this Earth can’t go with me.

The aloneness forced the surrender that produced the overwhelming rush of love from Christ.

Surrender.

Being arms up and face to the floor gave me more courage than I ever could have mustered standing on my own.

And I doubt I’m the only one out there resisting surrender to the Lord. Maybe He’s really just waiting for all of us to put our hands in the air and truly give our lives to Him.

I think it’s time. It’s time for the freedom that comes from surrender. I know it is for me, and maybe it is for you too.

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July Goals

July Goals

So in all honesty, I had super ambitious plans for this Summer. Those plans sounded something like “be an awesome, fun, Summer mom and rock my business at the same time.” “Oh and start a couple new projects, write a lot on the blog, read 8 books, etc, etc, etc.”

Let’s be real…so not happening. I always do this. I always think that I can do it all during the Summer, but I really can’t. And maybe you’re thinking you can’t either.

July 1st marks the halfway point of the year. We’re halfway through it, ya’ll. Seems crazy to me. Instead of looking at the month of June and thinking I screwed it up because I didn’t do everything I said I was going to do, I’m choosing to look ahead to July and August and do a little better tomorrow than I did today.

I think the Summer should mostly be about grace. I want to do it all and be it all for everyone. We do that as women sometimes. We put too much on our plate and think we can do it all, and then we feel bad about all the things we didn’t do instead of celebrating the things we did do.

I may not have had a great Scentsy social media presence so far this Summer, but we took a week off and took our kids to the beach, and I feel like we should celebrate that.

I may not have written once on this blog since I re-laucnhed it. Not once. And maybe I should be disappointed in myself about that, but I’m not. I’m choosing grace instead.

I may not have accomplished any customer follow-up so far this Summer (yeah, none), but we’ve caught fireflies and gone to the children’s museum and played in our backyard kiddie pool. And we should celebrate that.

I may not be the most efficient business chick in the world during the Summer, and you know what, I’m cool with it.

I’d rather be the mom who is less concerned with her to-do list and more concerned with the memory list.

I do have goals for this month. They’re not good goals. They aren’t necessarily measurable like real goals should be, but they are covered in grace.

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So this month, I plan to:

Read more.

Swim more.

Play more.

Movie more.

Bake more.

Gather more.

Love more.

Dream more.

Any maybe that’s what Summer is really for….grace, dreams, and people around the table.

Summertime is always the best of what might be. ~Charles Bowden

What about you? What are you planning on doing this month? I’d love to hear.