It is the season for giving… So for the month of December, I am excited to introduce a new series called “Friday Focus.” Since Five Minute Friday is taking a holiday hiatus, God has encouraged me to showcase some faithful folks who are living in obedience, promoting His message in unique ways.
Our first Friday Focus Feature comes from a former client (and now friend!) of mine named Aribel. This woman has experienced God’s power in mighty ways throughout her life, but most recently as a breast cancer survivor. She has taken Romans 8:28 (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”) to heart.
Sweet Aribel not only has an incredible heart for God, but she is sharing her breast cancer story– in a very artistic way. Aribel is the founder of Breast Cancer Survivor’s Footprints. She has taken her artwork, which stemmed out of her breast cancer journey, and is now sharing it for God’s glory. Here is her story…
My name is Aribel Del Carmen Leon Parris. I am a breast cancer survivor.
During a visit to the doctor’s office, I became personally acquainted with this deadly threat. I will not deny the diagnosis felt like a death sentence. I was engulfed under a wave of so many emotions and found myself at a loss for words. I was completely clueless about breast cancer and was desperate for answers. I did not know anyone who had undergone the experience. I was in a daze. It was like a bad dream.
I had many late night vigils, but I did not have the courage to call anyone at three o’clock in the morning to voice my fears. I was unable to put into words all the emotions that were welling up from within. My heart ached. Day in and day out, I would mentally pose the question to God, wondering if I was going to die. I was in my apartment with my thoughts feeling very much alone. I would find myself consistently awakened during the early hours of the morning communing with God, though it felt like He was miles away. But then I finally understood He was there, all the while. Jehovah Shammah means “The Lord is There” in Hebrew. I will never forget the sweetness of those early morning encounters. Later I felt inspired to pick up a paintbrush, never having a sense of direction regarding the outcome.
I started painting around the time I discovered an inflammation on my left breast and I continued to paint throughout my treatments. I never imagined that they would attract an audience or that my breast cancer journey would unfold in such an unexpected manner. It was my physician who encouraged me to showcase the artwork. I was very reluctant to come forward. The last thing I wanted was to be thrust before an audience. I could not see how the paintings warranted a reception and neither did I have any formal training in art. The artwork unfolded during such a dark period in my life while I was battling depression and the obvious possibility of my life coming to an end.
While undergoing my treatments, I met “Gail” and “Patty” who were at different stages in their breast cancer journey. We were rooting for each others’ recovery. Our last words were words of encouragement. Soon after, I received the agonizing news of their passing within a short period. It was heartbreaking. I pay tribute to their memory and how our individual experiences do not detract from our journey.
Each season has added to the development of this artistic journey, coming together piece by piece, like a jigsaw puzzle. Today I release the artwork for its intended purpose and take a bold leap of faith. I render glory and praise to God who takes the broken pieces, challenges, and painful experiences of my life, and gives me Hope through Him. The hymn entitled, “Because He Lives,” by William and Gloria Gaither and “My Redeemer Lives,” by Nicole C. Mullen have special meaning to me. I know because Jesus Lives, I can face uncertain days. This is my testimony.
Aribel’s beautiful and heartfelt calendars are for sale on her website– that showcase the pain yet triumph that can come with surviving breast cancer by walking with Christ. (She has single artwork pieces available for purchase as well.)
So if you are still searching for the perfect Christmas gift, I encourage you to purchase a calendar or a piece of art– especially if you or someone you know has battled breast cancer. A portion of the profits will benefit non-profit breast cancer charities. To check out the artwork, pop over to Aribel’s website or click here to order a calendar.
It is a true blessing to be a part of Aribel’s mission… I am thankful that God has brought us together in our walk with Christ, and I couldn’t be more grateful for how her testimony continually speaks to my heart!
It is the season for giving– Aribel has given her life to following Christ… Now won’t you help her walk with Him?
Victory in Him,
“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” ~Romans 8:28 (MSG)
PS: Just in case you were curious– I didn’t receive any compensation or bling or whatever for featuring Aribel. I asked if I could share her story because I believe so deeply in her mission! God is doing GREAT things through her– and I’m blessed to be a part of it!