jackie aviles 

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jackie aviles

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I'm Jackie!

Through the years, It has been my joy to write words that have captured the essence of hope in suffering. That have encouraged countless people to boldly face their seasons of struggle.


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Comfort is the god of our generation, so suffering is seen as a problem to be solved, and not a providence from God.

-Matt Chandler

 

I’d like to think of this new year as closing The “Cancer” chapter of my life. Yet it is New Year’s Eve 2016 today and it doesn’t feel anything like the end game I imagined. This year I have shed more tears than ever before. In battling stage 4 metastasized breast cancer, there was no aspect of my life that was not torn apart. My disease has left countless invisible imprints in its wake:

Infertility

Full onset of menopause

Memory loss

Chronic fatigue

Insomnia

Also, My tastebuds are still in and out everyday. Toxins from the treatments releasing through my hands and feet leave them full of sores and completely raw and My nausea is triggered by everyday smells such as foods, medications or cleaning supplies.
When I finished my last cycle of chemotherapy in September 2016, friends and family congratulated me as “being done”. What they couldn’t know was that in some ways, the hardest part of my cancer experience had just begun. While in treatment, I had been surrounded by the world best army: my supporting family and friends, my church and a brilliant medical team who tirelessly work to keep me alive. The goal for 2016 had been to cure the cancer but here we are about to enter a new year with the same cancer.

Suddenly, I found myself standing dazed and alone in the rubble of what this storm left behind: fears, darkness, loneliness, vulnerabilities, empty feelings of powerlessness, exhaustion and relentless pain. It’s been so hard to keep a smile on my face and act like “I got this” when all I want to do is curl up and cry, as I think to myself, “This is not fair!”

That night, as I sat cross legged in my living floor, staring at my Bible, one of the old, wrinkled pages was peering out. I refused to pick it up, even though I knew better.

There are moments in life where we want to throw in the towel! This was one of those moments for me. I was tore up from the floor up!

You see, I have wrestled with God so much during this cancer journey and at this moment I wrestled with the transition in my life. With this inevitable life of pain and discomfort I was forced into. Couldn’t I just have this cancer “be gone”? With radiation and other treatments still in my future, I just wanted to quit.

But you see, being a victim comes in handy when we don’t want or feel like changing! Especially me. I never like changes. We can blame an awful childhood, a tragedy, or in my case a devastating illness. After all, who can expect us to move forward? Don’t we have every right to stay on the same page, crying out to God in self pity?
Right then, Emilio had taken a toy from Leo because it was time to go to bed. Leo immediately cried out, “That’s not fair, Daddy!”
I saw myself in Leo at that very moment as I too cried out to my father, “It’s not fair!” But I saw how funny Leo looked and paralleled that to my behavior towards God.

That’s when I realized my “crying out” was simply just complaining. A complainer is someone who is discontented with his lot in life and I noticed my complaint was coming from unfulfilled desires.

Whether it be a baby girl  I can no longer give birth to, a new job position, cancer free or still in the battle, I needed to stop complaining. To stop complaining about what I do or don’t have in life, because it was destructive and desolating!

As I glanced over again to the page, I noticed some of my own handwritten notes. Squinting to see more I saw these words:
God hears

He sees 

He knows 

God Hears Israel’s Groaning

“23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”
I immediately told Leo,” Life isn’t fair.” I know I didn’t want to hear that either. But it isn’t!

Lets face it, the Bible does not pretend any differently.  Yes, I am a victim of cancer but that didn’t mean I had to stay in the victim mentality. This attitude takes away the ability to enjoy life. We miss out on the beauty of God in this treacherous world. Small blessings go unnoticed and we stop being thankful. God is asking that we be grateful, have a willingness to forgive and receive his grace – which, by the way, is free!!

 I finally understood I could not move on to the next chapter if I kept reading the last one. The problem is that some of us don’t know how to move forward. YOU are not alone in feeling this way. For many, the New Year’s Day celebrations provide a sense of life and purpose. But the task of rebuilding your life is actually very hard after seeing how much destruction the storm in your life left behind: physically, mentally, emotionally – basically all the “-allys”.

As the chapters of my pre-cancer life circled in my mind, the preview of the damage that the storm left behind took possession. All that was evident was the aftermath! Yet, as reluctant as I was, it was time to turn the page… the time to rebuild had arrived.

Right there in the quiet of my living room, my “This isn’t fair, God” turned into: “Rebuild me, God”.

You are about to be destroyed, O Israel–yes, by me, your only helper.” Hosea 13:9

You have to be willing to see with your own opened eyes the destruction that was left behind from your storm. To face it and not complain about it. To not eliminate God, but embrace him. But brace yourself for the pain and tears. Brace yourself for the harshness.  God had to allow this destruction in my life before He could begin to rebuild it. There would be nothing to rebuild if He hadn’t. I had to choose to honor and embrace the change God was doing in my life to become stronger. Braver. Faithful. Wiser. Humbler. 

As I write this, tears are flowing from my face. I accepted the beauty of being destroyed that day, because I knew I couldn’t rebuild anything out of this mess unless I let Jesus take over. I had to step aside and let him begin the work. And that has been so powerful for me to witness. Because it’s not just a little drill here or a hammered nail there.

But the Bible tells us that: “

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

It’s a character being built in hope and faith. But most importantly, He began to rebuild my love for Him. And that is the only structure that will ever withstand any storm in your life: THE LOVE OF JESUS.

A lot of us this year have a New Year’s resolution that kinda looks like this: 😉


Yet I urge you to read Jeremiah 29:11. It is an INVITATION to take another step forward. No matter what, my eyes have to be focused on Jesus not on the storm or what it leaves behind. I can hear God lovingly saying to me, “Walk with me. It’s going to be a long road, but I will be with you.  Trust in me. You are my beloved. Let’s pick up these broken pieces together and start to rebuild.”

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