Messing up and mercy

I think I've fallen for that thing that caregivers get called "feeling good about yourself so you start becoming neglectful."
I don't mean like not taking care of my dad neglectful, but like "not taking care of the house as I should" neglectful.

My dad is doing the dishes right now and all I can do is sit and wallow in my guilt while I type this. And I mean what are you going to say? "Don't do that thing that needs to be done because I feel bad that I didn't do it when I should have."

But as my dad finishes and I ask forgiveness for not doing my job like I should, not being diligent enough, instead of reprimand or wry agreement, I'm greeted with a big bear hug.

"I appreciate everything you've done," he says with a tearful smile.

This is the thing that people find when they come to Jesus, when they have a relationship with Him, when they really love Him. We admit we mess up, expecting something horrific, and He instead comforts us and says, "I love you anyway."

A message from my dad, Mark

To who may all receive this message Jesus loves you:


I have lived my Christian life knowing that I am a sinner in need of a savior and God gave his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross and rise again to forgive me of my sins.   My Christian walk has been one of grace and works.  My life has been blessed and stable which has allowed me to follow my calling and attend a church which has fed me spiritually my entire adult life.


My cancer diagnosis has rocked my world and it has motivated me to spend much more time in prayer and be in the word more than I have ever been in my life. If we are Christians to die is just a step into glory but my current adversity has put my mortality and the promise of heaven front and center.  In my life death has been something that was always very far back in my mind.  Please pray for me as I go through this adversity.


It has hit me like a ton of bricks that my love of Jesus needs to be stronger and everything in our life is based on our love of Jesus.  We can thank him for his love towards us but our Christian walk is determined by how strong our love for him is.


I raised my family in a Christian home that was very pragmatic.  We went to church and we prayed at home sometimes but I relied on my Church with its messages and church camps to minister to my family. Our prayers at home did not focus on developing a greater love for Jesus and loving what he loves. I felt the holy-spirit in church and relied on that to develop my love for Jesus and his word.


I now realize that I needed to actively encourage my children when they were younger to press into a deeper love of Jesus and that is something for which I am very sorrowful of and a time which I can never get back. I encourage and pray that each of you begin today to press into a love of Jesus beyond measure and you will in turn love what Jesus loves. If we are in love with Jesus all the other parts of living a life for Jesus fall into place.


I am thankful that we have a God of the now. I am actively seeking a greater love of Jesus.    I have been blessed to see this need in my life and pass it on.  I need Jesus today more than ever.


I know many of you have had life changing events of all kinds and are still working through changes. I am praying for you individually that you will start today to develop a deep abiding love for Jesus.   I am also praying that Godly people will come into your lives to help you with your journey.



I love all of you so much and only want God’s best for you.


In Jesus love


Mark Russell

A thought about Pslams 124

So God laid it on my heart to do a little “fast” of my time on the internet just a few minutes during the day for a week.  And during that I’ve been making sure to read my Bible, which nowadays a very rarely have done to my shame, and one thing I think God had me look at was Psalms 124.

It talks about Israel saying soon that, if God hadn’t been their refuge, then they would have completely overwhelmed.  Not just like physically by men who wanted to hurt them, but it spoke about the rivers overtaking their souls.  That got me thinking, like how do people even go through some of the things they go through without God?

I mean the morbid answer is some of them don’t, but I’m not gonna think of that part.

It just makes me so incredibly thankful.  Thankful for all I have, but especially that God has been here for me.  Not just with dad’s cancer, but with my own personal battles with mental health.  There were times I legitimately thought I was gonna have to be put into a hospital, but through all of it God was with me, and gave me my parents as huge supports.  Along with all my church family.

I know it’s kinda rambly and short but, I just can never say how truly thankful I am.


“Vicarious” fear

We're sitting here, waiting for daddy as he gets hydrated at the cancer center. "Hydrated" is basically the technical term for "getting pumped full of water and saline." In our little cooler full of medicine and supplements, we have a newly obtained medicine called Ambien. It's a sleeping pill for my dad. He's been having issues staying asleep since he started weaning himself off Lorazepam. It makes sense that he has it. He should have it.

I'm scared to death of him taking it, because I was scared to death to take them myself.

Isn't it funny how that works? I guess it's a good sign that I'm worried about his long term wellbeing, since my biggest fear is his becoming dependent on them. Yet somehow the feelings keep circling back to myself and my own fear. Why is that?
Does anyone else do this? Find yourself reacting in fear and trepidation about something, but more because you had once had that fear yourself and transfer it to someone else?

This could be an odd, flip flopped way of "living vicariously" through someone else, yet more like "fearing vicariously."
I wonder if this is what being a parent feels like. Part love, part, empathy, part concern, part total lack of trust in the world around you and hearing too many stories of friends who have become unaffected by sleeping pills from constant use. Needed use, yes, but medicines become less and less effective over time.

That could happen to him. Please Lord don't let it happen to him.

Also, on a more sarcastic note, I find I never truly know how distress I am about something until I start writing and stir it up. I guess I need to deal with things more than I realize.

Writing in God’s protective bubble

I can honestly say that, to the "normal" 26 year old woman that my life is boring. And I like it that way. If I'm completely honest, it's sort of like an introvert's paradise.

Yesterday dad had his chemo, so for the next three or so days my job is to be at his side. This equates to staying home in my pjs, in the air condition during a 104 degree Arizona day, watching Netflix on the armchair in his room. I can work on art, make blog posts, drink tea, and generally laze about to my heart's desire. That is unless company comes, at which case I vacate the armchair and can do little chores around the house but basically continue to do the same thing.

On my "active" days, I cook, clean, and continue to be on the computer basically all day. Maybe I go out to Sprouts for more supplies.

Then I watch YouTube and I laugh, physically laugh, at the stories that those my age regale. I laugh because I could literally never handle a non-God related world, especially in the romantic sphere.

"Oh, I had this disaster date," "Oh, this guy followed me home while I walked down the street at 3am," "Oh, this girl passed out on my couch covered in her own vomit and I had to carry her into the cab"….like how? And the craziest thing?! People go to work the next day. I could never imagine going to bed at 3am, having to go to work at 7am, massive hangover, possibly still slightly drunk from the night before…

I'll take my lactose free chocolate ice cream and bed by 8pm thank you.

The lazy caregiver

I've noticed in the past few weeks I've been tired a lot, as well as going to bed exceedingly early. Like 8 pm while the sun is still out early. Could it be that I'm sleeping too much? Or am I just…lazy?

I know the real answer is that I'm unhealthy. My breakfasts tend to be sugar based which makes me tired, and I don't exercise often enough to get myself energized for doing things. Also my meds tend to have a groggy after effect, so it's kind of amazing that I do anything at all.

That being said…how do you keep up your energy? When your job is home and sometimes just sitting and chilling with your family member….how do you cheer them up if you're face first in the couch arm? That's more a rhetorical question, but I am curious if any other caregivers out there know. Again, I know the obvious is to do more housework and things….but sadly I seem to find my attention span for chores to be…limited.

Also perhaps I'm sleeping too much. I sleep usually from 8:30pm to about 6:30am or so, so that's….jeez like 10 hours. I know the recommended is 6 but I've never been able to do that. But maybe I should pair it down to 8? Hmm…

Anyhow. Thank you for listening to me ramble, in an ironic twist I'm going to bed now.

Dad’s baked cod fish

  1. 2-3  wild caught cod fillets
  2. olive oil
  3. sea salt
  4. pepper
  5. garlic powder
  6. onion powder
  7. basil flakes
  8. paprika

Set oven at 400 degrees F, and lay out fillets on a baking sheet.  Make sure the fillet’s thickness doesn’t exceed an 2 inch or two fingers widths.  (If it’s too thick either cut off the thicker piece and slice it into thinner pieces, or you can just cook the fillet a bit longer.)    Lightly pour olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, and paprika on fillets.  Cook fillets 15-25 minutes, or basically til the fillets have thinned and flake off the fillet.  Always test your fish before eating.

Social media frenzy

Have you ever found yourself stretching out a bit thin?  I think when it comes to social media, I have a tendency to do that in mass.  Here are some of the examples of  my digital media pan out.


Caucasian artist working in studio : Stock Photo



Little girl shopping in supermarket with mom : Stock Photo



Woman's hand placing dollar bill into collection box filled with money, studio shot : Stock Photo


Other ones I spend way too much time on

Young woman peering inside laptop screen : Stock Photo

  • Tumblr (artsiesteph), Instagram (stephanie_russell_art and artsiestephlife), and twitter (@ArtsieSteph and @ArtsieStephArt), and ChristianChat (ArtsieSteph).

So yeah.  I have a problem with going on the internet waaaaaaaaay too much. Heck I didn’t even mention all the time I spend watching videos on YouTube…