Wherever Life Plants you, Bloom with Grace {Image Only & Phototherapy Invite}

There still is time to join in the Free Online Phototherapy Workshop for women with Chronic Illness & Chronic Pain.  The group is in the getting to know phase at the moment, and we are having such great fellowship.  The fun prompt for today is the word ‘GRACE’.   This image is one of my entries.  It starts March 20th, so sign up now!  I’m looking forward to meeting you in the group!
Many Blessing,



Featured Friday with Friends 001: Meet Carrie from Journey of Hope

Hello!  I’m so excited to finally be able to bring Featured Friday with Friends to you.  It’s where I share the encouragement and testimonies of other chronic illness warriors.  As most of us know, when we realize that someone else has had similar experiences and knows how we feel,  it gives us courage and strength to keep on keeping on.

It is my pleasure to share with you the strength and courage of my first guest, Carrie Rutherford Shane from www.journeyofhope.blog.  I have to say she is one of my first internet blogging friends and God has truly blessed me with her kindness and caring.  Plus, we both have a love of photography.  😉 Without further ado –

SBH:  Carrie, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me.  I know the readers will so enjoy hearing about your journey.  So, let’s get started.

Tell us three things about yourself.
Hmmm, just three things.
I am married; we have two boys, a daughter-in-law and two GrandBabies.
I am and Instructor for an X-ray school
I just signed up for an online French course. I have always wanted to learn French!

SBH:  An online French course actually sounds like a lot of fun.  Good for you.

I must know, are you a coffee or tea kind of gal?
Love coffee with a caramel creamer. I usually blend it to make a frozen drink. My diet forces to me to be creative with the creamer but I am slowly figuring it out.

SBH:  Ok, now I need a cup of coffee, caramel creamer, yum.

Since we are online friends, I know you have a sweetie of a dog.  Please tell us about her.
I have a dog named Diamond. She was a shelter dog and is a Blue Heeler/Jack Russell mix..or at least I think she is. She is over the top, seriously addicted to squirrel “hunting” and is the most “talkative” dog I have ever heard. She actually howls when she is excited.

SBH:  It sounds like she brings you much joy, which is so good for the soul.  Another thing that is great for the soul is a vacation.

Do you have a favorite destination such as the beach, the mountains, or a forest?
I love mountains and forest mostly. I like beaches only if they are the scenic kind and not so much for swimming. My favorite vacation was a few years ago when we went to England, Ireland and Scotland for a little over three weeks. Such a beautiful place!

SBH:  That sounds and looks AMAZING!  Thank you for sharing such awesome photos!

On the same note as what is good for the soul, what does God reveal to you a beautiful?  How does He touch your heart through Creation?  Nature!  It is where I am most at peace and feel alive. Feeling the wind in your face and hair and hearing the birds or rustling trees all around. My dream is to move out to some land and have places to walk every day. I could walk trails for hours. 

SBH:  Nature is indeed beautiful and a place where everyone can find glimpses of Glory.

I love quotes.  Do you have a favorite?
“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.”  Elisabeth Elliot

SBH:  I love Elizabeth Elliot, such an insightful woman.  Let’s move on to discussing a little bit about your chronic illnesses.

What are you striving to cope with and overcome each day?
I started with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, and it eventually stops working. It causes a cascade of other health issues. I spent the past 18 or so years getting sicker and adding things like Fibromyalgia, severe sleep apnea, etc. I was diagnosed February 2016 with Lyme disease and Babesia and have been on antibiotic treatment since. I turned the corner last September and started thinking about working again. I just started my X-ray instructing job January 2017. I am having to figure out who I am again after all these years of missing so much life, but am enjoying “reinventing” myself.

SBH:  That sounds like quite the journey.  I do love that eventually it seems God brings us through the wilderness and does indeed give us glimpses of hope and purpose from the trials.  I LOVE that you’re reinventing yourself.  This is so healthy and aligns with Romans 8:28 that states “all things work together for good for those who love God.”

Please share a testimony of God’s grace and love and how He has helped you cope.
My story of His grace is too long to post here, but I will say this much; He actually told me that these difficult, dark years were coming to me and that He would eventually bring me out of it. I did not know what He meant back then, but I know now! He has given so many sweet Christian friends through social media groups that have helped me cope and grow. They have been a blessing.

SBH:  I totally agree with you about connecting with others who understand.  It is so important to have that encouragement!

In what ways do you try to stay focused on the blessings rather than the symptoms and heartaches?
I love worship music. It lifts my mood and attitude. I also post scripture on my bathroom mirror and craft room where I can see God’s promises to me. Keeps my mind on Hope.

In what ways do you show yourself kindness and pamper yourself, even just a little?
I have turned one of the boys old bedrooms into my own craft/everything room. It’s my own space.  Need alone time quite a bit, and this helps so much.

SBH:  That sounds absolutely fantastic.  How fun!! It also leads to my next question.

What are some of your creative passions?  What medium do you like to use?
Lately, my favorite is photography. I am very amateur but I love to combine the pictures with a verse. I have been experimenting with several apps. I also like to paint with acrylics, and I have done mural/faux finish work in the past. I have a wall in my kitchen that I made faux rock out of joint compound and painted it to look like a castle wall..at least that is what I was going for. I love to make homemade cards too. I hardly buy premade anymore.

Do you find that being creative brings you moments of peace?
Not as much as it should. I am very much the perfectionist so I tend to get pretty serious about my art which leads to being critical. I need to learn to relax and just have fun with it.

SBH:  I think this a common issue with creatives, being critical and a perfectionist.  However, I’m learning there are lessons to be learned about faith, even through art.  Letting go and letting God is a big one for me.  Also, your photographs are BEAUTIFUL!  I’m happy to see the enjoyment God brings you from this passion.

How has God used creativity to draw you closer to Him?
I think sharing art allows me to be closer to Him because I am also sharing scripture and encouragement with that art. It allows me to share what He has done for me and how faithful He is.  For example, adding scripture to photo I take.   

Has creativity helped you heal in some way, physically, spiritually, or emotionally?
Yes. It has healed a lot of loneliness and isolation. I have met people, like you Melanie, who have some of the same interests and passions. We get to talk about things other than just how sick we feel. They have also boosted my confidence to try new things or just to put my art out there.

SBH:  I agree.  The loneliness can allow us the opportunity to lean into God and draw closer to Him.  However, when our brains are overloaded with pain and strife, it is a breath of fresh air to have encouragement from others who completely understand.

Please share a couple of meaningful scriptures.
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”  1 Peter 5:10

“My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.”  
Psalm 62:5-7 5

SBH:  Beautiful,  Carrie.  My last question for you is this:

What lessons have you learned about faith, about God, and about yourself along the way?  
I have learned that God is faithful even when I am not. He follows through on what He says He will do and He does it with excellence. I have learned that I can be stronger than I think I am and still be dependent on God.  I have learned that I can endure a lot more than I thought I could. I really am important to Him and have not been forgotten!

SBH:  Carrie, thank you so much for taking the time to share some of our journey with us.  It’s been a blessing to put this together and to share with others so that they too may be encouraged.

Well, friends – isn’t she a dear?  Please follow the links below and send some happiness her way.  It’s a brave thing to put yourself out there and she did so with beautiful grace, serving God.






If you would like to be a guest on Featured Friday with Friends, please drop me an email – melanie@shebreatheshope.com or fill out the form below.  🙂

21 Ideas of Self-Kindness for the Sucky Days | Life with Chronic Illness or Just Life

Let’s face it – when the going gets tough, we just need to make it through the day.  For some reason, my natural instinct is to push through.  Maybe because when you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness as a kid, it becomes second nature.  One thing I’ve discovered in the past few years is to show myself kindness when I’m having a miserable day.  I’ve compiled a list of simple suggestions to get you started.

“No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.” Ephesians 5:29-30

  1. Play beautiful music.
  2. Have a cup of tea or coffee, some days, I have both.
  3. Essential oils really do work, trust me.
  4. Read your Bible.  Choose a verse or two to meditate upon for the day.
  5. Chocolate, enough said.
  6. Favorite PJ’s – all day.
  7. Read a good book.
  8. Watch a good movie.
  9. Make art – paint.
  10. Take pictures – Phototherapy is good for the soul.
  11. Craft – an easier art, depending on what you’re physically capable of for the day.
  12. Journal – prayer journal, art journal, photo journal, life journal…
  13.  Let the fresh air and the sunshine in, through a window, an open door, or sit outside and enjoy Creation.
  14. Watch the birds.
  15. Eat a salad or something healthy for your body.  Feed it as well as possible.
  16. Call your BFF, just to hear her voice.
  17. Sleep and rest well.  I know it is hard some nights, but find ways to allow your body to rest.
  18. A hot or a relaxing shower with your favorite soaps and shampoos is very kind.
  19. Pray for His will to be done for the day and accept the outcome.  You did the best you could.
  20. Relax – develop a routine to help you unwind.  One exercise that always helps me – breathe in counting to four and then exhale nice and slow counting to seven.
  21. Find a little humor and laughter. God indeed has a sense of humor.   (DVR I Love Lucy, you’re welcome:) ).

    Click to print & Please Pin It.

    Now, make your own list of self-kindness and then hang it up in your home or have it as a quick memo on your phone.  Just make sure it’s in a place that will catch your attention and remind you.  I would LOVE to see your list.  Share in the She Breathes Hope Facebook Group and join the upcome Phototherapy Workshop for women with chronic illness.

Photography Makes Everything Better. Even Mondays. {Image & Invite Only}

Have you heard about the awesome photo-therapy workshop coming March 20th?  Registration closes 3/19/2017.  Sign up, some of the fun and fellowship has already started!  : )

Phototherapy 001: Chronic Illness & Chronic Pain | 14 Day Free Online Workshop Join Us!

Phototherapy for Chronic Illness & Chronic Pain
14 Days of Faith, Renewal, & Hope
March 20, 2017 – April 2, 2017

I love photography! It’s my art of choice, or maybe it’s because some of it comes easily to me.  That being said, I’ve found a rekindled joy of this art form after the passing of my Dad two years ago.  In living with chronic illness or even the basic demands of life, the camera offers glimpses of grace and joy; I would otherwise miss.

Think about it for a minute – you see something, anything and you take a picture of it.  If it’s any good, you keep it.  How else can we instantly freeze in time that which stirs our hearts and speaks to our souls?  Obviously, not all photography is this deep and meaningful.  More times than not, it’s just for fun or to expand knowledge.

I love to combine all three!  Give me some fun, help me learn new and exciting concepts and techniques, and sometimes, with God as my compass, help me see glimpses of glory.  I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way about photography and faith.

I’m very excited to invite you to my first online Phototherapy Workshop starting March 20, 2017, for 14 days.

**Please note – no advanced photography skills or special camera are required for this workshop.**
(However, you must be able to upload images to Facebook.)  Please also remember that this is not a photo contest.  What’s important is that you take pictures for you, for your growth and enjoyment.  Be careful not to allow comparison to steal your joy.

Supplies Needed:

  • Camera
  • Blank paged journal (recommended but not required)

What the workshop includes:

  • Daily Prompts
  • Bible-based encouragement
  • Fellowship
  • On-going Community
  • Renewal through the art of photography
  • Redirected focus towards empowerment
  • Develop a new and amazing hobby
  • Daily discussion in the Facebook Group

Ladies, come as you are and be ready for fun and renewal through the collection of photos.  Your photos and those from others in the group.  Yes, there is a secret Facebook group where we can share our photographs, our discoveries, and our hearts.

**Due to the sensitive nature of information shared, this group is for woman only.  I  would be happy to help organize a men’s group if requested.