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The thing about being a first-born, type-A, chronic planner is that you tend to make plans...lots of plans. After awhile you might even get pretty good at it. In fact, you might become convinced that you can accomplish anything if you simply have the right plan.

As any good planner will tell you, nothing ruins a good plan like an unforeseen interruption, especially one beyond our control--a sick child, a flooded basement, a 45-minute detour due to road construction. Any number of things can throw your plans off track and send a type-A person like myself into near hysteria. Not a pretty picture, I assure you.

My life and plans were rudely interrupted with a single word: cancer.

I didn't plan for it.

I didn't want it.

And there was not much I could do about it.

I was shaken, and I needed Someone who would be unshakable.

Thankfully, I happen to know Someone whose plans are never interrupted. He's never caught off guard by my circumstances or worried about how a situation will turn out. In fact, He says things like:

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message)

and...

I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8, NLT).

So, when my plans crumble in the face of unforeseen circumstances, I can be sure that God doesn't worry. He doesn't fret.

When I am anxious that God is not answering my prayer at the moment I expected Him to, or in the way I hoped He would, I can be confident that He doesn't need to rush or hurry.

I can rest knowing He has a plan...and it is unshakable!

When You Need #Unshakable Plans |www.NancyBackues.com

I am honored to be sharing part of my story today at Intentional by Grace. Won't you join me over there to discover How Cancer Gave Me Unshakable Faith?

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

My daughter and I are all signed up for camp again. This will be the third year we've gone. Some may say I'm crazy for going to camp at the age of 42 (and they may be right), but when your daughter asks you to be her leader, you do it because: 1) there probably won't be many more summers when she wants me at camp, and 2) we make camp a priority for our kids (and here's why).

This is also the first year my son is able to go. I'm excited for him and for my husband who is going as his leader, even though he's never been to camp before! So, in honor of all you church camp veterans and the newbies, I'm sharing my top 10 tips for camp leaders. We need all the help we can get, because camp at the age of 42 is an entirely different experience than camp at the age of 15, or 25 (or, who are we kidding...35)!

Top 10 Tips for Camp Leaders | www.thereisgrace.com

1. Be informed. Read the information, attend the meetings, and ask questions. The more you know, the more prepared you will be, which leads me to #2...

2. Be prepared. Don't simply read the information, do what it says. Camp organizers didn't create those guidelines because they were bored one day. They have answered hundreds of questions, handled numerous issues, and lived through camp a time or two themselves. Glean from their wisdom.

3. Get sleep. Between homesick campers and sturdy-but-not-so-comfy cots, you won't get much sleep at camp. Don't start out exhausted; do your best to go into camp rested. (And make time to catch up on it after).

4. Eat well. If you're over the age of 30, you understand your body doesn't bounce back from physical strain quite like it used to. Whether you're over 30 or not, your body can use all the help it can get to endure the physical rigor that comes with camp. That means nutrition, and lots of it! Camp food isn't typically health food, but you can find good options if you try, so do the best you can.

5. Pray. Don't forget to prepare your spirit as well. God may have an opportunity just waiting for you to impact a student's life. After all, that's the whole reason you're there, right?

6. Pack light. If there is a suggested packing list, follow it. It's there for a reason. It will help you determine what types of clothing you will need. Are chapels dressy or casual? What type of athletic activities should you prepare for? Do you need bedding? Flashlights? An alarm clock? Following a list, will help you be prepared without overdoing it.

7. Check your preferences at the door. There's a good chance something will happen over the course of the week that you don't care for. See that as your opportunity to put on your big boy or big girl pants and be the adult. Campers will look to you in how to respond, so dig deep to find a good attitude and set an example.

8. Build relationships. You're there for the kids, so be there for the kids. Make an effort to search out that one kid who isn't having a great time and include him. Find that girl who is especially homesick and help her make friends.

9. Be the adult. You're not simply an oversized camper. You are the adult...so be one. Make every effort to reflect the standards, the attitude, and the heart of the camp leaders. You are an extension of their leadership.

10. Have fun! Church camp can become one of your fondest memories if you go into it prepared and have the right attitude. So when all is said and done, relax and  enjoy it!

Want to be a Rock Star Camp Leader? Find out how, here!)

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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While the calendar does not yet officially say it's summer, it's officially summer break around here. That means a lot of resting, a lot of relaxing, and a lot of fun! Now that my brain has had a few days to shift into summer break mode, I've realized we need to get back to being intentional about some things around here.

Thankfully, I've managed to keep my focus on the big things like Bible reading, prayer, and community, even in the midst of a crazy spring schedule and a book launch. (I'm not saying it was perfect, but those areas remained my focus when life got crazy!)

One area we definitely need to regain focus around here is being intentional with our food. I don't know about you, but when schedules get crazy, we tend to default to quick and easy foods. And if I've learned anything in my food journey, it's that quick and easy food doesn't typically translate into healthy and nutritious.

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” -La Rochefoucauld | thereisgrace.com #BeIntentional

This post is sponsored by De Nigris USA.

Although I still consider myself a novice when it comes to nutrition, I have learned a lot over the last year. Perhaps the greatest lesson I've learned is that if this girl--who used to live on Diet Pepsi and animal crackers--can make some healthy changes, anyone can!

If you're wanting to make some simple changes for your health, here are 7 quick and easy steps to get you started and help you #BeIntentional with your food:

1.  Read labels. This is the most important thing you can do for your health. Don't stop at skimming the calorie and fat content, either. Pay special attention to the ingredients. Yes, this is tedious and time-consuming, but the only way to know what you're eating is to, well, know what you're eating. Profound, I know.

2. Choose food with the shortest ingredients list. As a general rule, the shortest list will be your best option. And always choose the list with the most ingredients you can recognize and pronounce.

Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. ~Michael Pollan

3. Take baby steps. Don't try to change everything at one time, or you'll end up frustrated. Start with one thing: Cut out sugar (that one will be big enough!). Or commit to avoiding unfamiliar ingredients (that one will save you from a lot of yucky stuff!). Maybe you can start by making your meals at home, from scratch, and choosing simple, whole foods as snacks. Determine your first step. When you're comfortable with that one, move on to the next.

4. Make simple swaps. Here are a few easy ones you can make the next time you go shopping:

  • Swap sugary, flavored yogurt for plain yogurt sweetened with honey and frozen fruit.Swap flavored chips (they have an abundance of additives and preservatives) for simple corn or potato chips seasoned with salt. (Yes, the oil isn't great for you, but one step at a time....see #3).

7 Ways to Be Intentional with Your Food #DeNigris1889

  • Swap salad dressing for some quality olive oil and vinegar, like DeNigris vinegars. Did you know vinegar has many health benefits and medicinal uses? It's great for treating things like sinus infections, sore throats, and even acid reflux! Plus, it's super high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. You can even clean with it! DeNigris has a selection of vinegars and other products, plus great recipes. Be sure to check them out!
  • Swap sweetened applesauce for unsweetened. Do apples really need extra sugar?!
  • Swap soda for sparkling mineral water flavored with a little fruit juice.
  • Swap heavy veggie dips for salsa or guacamole.
  • Swap sugary granola bars for homemade protein bars.

5. Make time for food. Being intentional with your food will take time. It will take time to read labels and find alternatives. It will take time to prepare food (oh, the time you'll spend chopping veggies!). And it will take time to see a difference in the way you feel and look. But your health and your happiness are worth the investment, so don't give up!

Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food. ~Hippocrates

Here's proof that we do still eat out...and that my kids still have the occasional Cheeto! ;)
Here's proof that we do still eat out...and that my kids still have the occasional Cheeto! ;)

6. Choose the best options available. Life isn't perfect. Even with the best intentions, you'll eventually find yourself at a dinner party or a potluck with no idea what's in any given dish. Or you may have no other option for dinner one night than a fast food drive thru. Survey your options and make the best choice you can. Choose real food with the least ingredients (hint: focus on simple meat, veggies, and or fruit.) When in those situations, I try to remember this advice:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. ~Michael Pollan

7. Give yourself grace. So you caved and raided the cookie jar at midnight last night. Don't beat yourself up, and don't throw in the towel. Show  yourself grace and move on. Focus on the things you are doing right and keep moving forward!

For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Luke 12:23

It won't always be easy, but things that are truly worth it are rarely easy--and your health is definitely worth it! I will let you in on a little secret: the more you stick to it, and the more changes you make, the better you'll feel. The better you feel, the less you will desire to go back to your old habits. You are creating  new habits, a new lifestyle, and eventually a whole new you!

BeIntentional-250

What can you do to #BeIntentional with your food this week? What additional resources do you recommend to someone wanting to #BeIntentional in their eating habits? Share your thoughts in the comments, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

 

More Great Reads to Help you #BeIntentional in Food:
What's Wrong With Our Modern Diet?
Jumpstart Your Health with the Whole 30
Begin Your Journey to Whole Food
Understanding Your Food
30 Day Clean Eating Challenge
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
The Omni Diet by Tana Amen
The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

Faith is the presence of Hope | www.thereisgrace.com #unshakable

We will all face circumstances that shake us and threaten to destroy our resolve and our faith. Those moments when we are just not sure we can carry on.

For me, that moment came with the words, "It's cancer." No one wants to hear those two simple words, but to someone who has battled that deadly disease before, those words carry extra weight. They undo all the fighting and bring immediate defeat. That simple statement stole every ounce of triumph—all the success of my previous battle—and left my emotions and my faith in a crumpled heap.

Yes, I had beaten cancer once, but I didn’t want to have to do it again. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was up for the fight...

I'm incredibly privileged to be sharing another chapter in my story today over at Message in a Mason Jar. I would be thrilled if you'd join me there, and together we can become Unshakable.

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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When your doctor tells you the cancer is back and uses the words, "non-curative" and "chemo for the rest of your life," your mind reels, your world is shattered, and your faith is shaken.

Then there's that moment you recall the lessons you learned as a child in Sunday school, and you realize...This God—He is THE ONE for my situation. HE is unshakable.

I'm privileged to be sharing part of my story today at LiveLaughRowe.com. Won't you stop in and see me over there?

 

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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Unshakable book

It's here!

Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm is now available on Amazon!

When you purchase a print copy here or the Kindle version here, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the cancer compassion organization I work with. Simply select Compassion That Compels. You can read more about Compassion That Compels here.

Happy reading!


 

 

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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It's coming...May 17!

Unshakable book-2
I got my proof of Unshakable in the mail last week! That means it's gettin' real up in here, y'all!

The book is scheduled to release on May 17!! There is a lot going on, and a lot of details to tie up before then, so please be praying we make that deadline!

In the meantime, I am offering you a special sneak peek! Because so many of you have been on this journey with me, I am giving you the first chapter...before the book is even available!

To begin reading Unshakable, download the first chapter here. Then on May 17, you'll be able to purchase the entire book here or on Amazon!

 

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Feel free to share this image on social media!

 

Happy reading!

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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In case you've wondered about the radio silence around here lately, here's what's been going on...

Coming in May...Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm

Yes, it is really happening! And it's getting close! (Final release date still to be determined.)

In the meantime, here's a sneak peek from the back cover:

When a cancer diagnosis rocked her faith to the core, Nancy Backues found herself fighting an even greater battle than her illness. She was also fighting for her faith.

In Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm, Nancy shares openly about her struggle with fear and doubt and addresses the tough questions many of us ask in the midst of difficult circumstances. Questions like

  • Is God really good?
  • Does God really love me?
  • Is God big enough for my situation?
  • Is God even aware of what I’m going through?
  • How can any good come from my situation?

As Nancy’s story unfolds, she wrestles with these difficult questions, answers them with overwhelming evidence of God’s love and faithfulness, and takes readers on a journey to find faith that is unshakable.

 And here's what people are already saying about it!

Unshakable speaks to anyone going through a trial of any kind
and is full of so much truth  and heart and awesomeness!”
~Rosann Cunningham, author, UnEmployed Faith

Unshakable provides the blueprint for victory in every life storm.”
~Kristianne Stewart, founder, Compassion That Compels

"Unshakable is not a book that brings God into our story; it beautifully displays how
God brings us into His. I’m thankful that Nancy was willing to share her honest
discoveries in her darkest hours.” ~Heather Gilion Co-author, Dancing On My Ashes

"Anyone who argues the Bible isn't relevant for today needs to read Unshakable!"
~Kristen Feola, author, Spiritually Strong and The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast

"Through Scripture and personal reflection, Nancy shows that it’s possible to feel
completely shaken by a difficult circumstance and yet to come through it to
find a faith that is unshakable...because of the God who is unshakable."
~Darcy Wiley, blogger, Message in a Mason Jar

I will be sure to announce the release date as soon as I have one. For now, stay tuned for ordering info and special deals! In fact, go ahead and enter your email on the sidebar so you don't miss any upcoming news!

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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It's been a few years, but I still remember the look of pain in my daughter's eyes. She came home from first grade in a bit of a funk. When I asked what was wrong, she explained that some kids at school had called her a name.

Instantly, I felt my inner "Mama Bear" awaken. WHAT?!?!

Defying every impulse I had to call the school and chew someone, anyone, out for letting some second-grade hooligans hurt my baby, I calmly asked,  "What did they say?"

Her eyes filled with pain.

"I can't tell you. It's a bad word." There it was again...Mama Bear Rising. It took a few minutes longer this time, but I managed to control my it.

She reluctantly agreed to whisper the offensive word in my ear. She leaned close and whispered a word that is simply not allowed in our home..."Stupid." Then I saw tears fill her gorgeous brown eyes.

I held her close and assured her she is not stupid. I don't think she's stupid. Daddy doesn't think she's stupid. Most importantly, Jesus, who created her, absolutely does not  think she's stupid.

"Do you think you're stupid?" I asked. She shook her head. "Then it doesn't matter what anyone else says, does it?" The waterworks came then.

"But it still hurts!" she cried.

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless #BeIntentional | thereisgrace.com

And she was right. The old playground saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me," is quite simply a lie.

Words do hurt. Whether they're simply said without thinking, for a good laugh, or out of raw emotion in the heat of an argument. Once they're said, they can never be taken back. They can be repented of, even apologized for, but never taken back.

Kids are notorious for being outspoken, a little clueless, and sometimes rude. They are, after all, kids. They are also remarkably resilient. It didn't take long for Little Miss to bounce back and dive, carefree, into her latest art project. But those words will stay with her for a long time. The next time she is called something unkind (and let's be honest, it will happen), it will hurt a little more, because hateful words have already left a tiny wound.

I'd like to think that, as adults, we know better. We know to think before we speak and weigh carefully our words. But if my life is any indication I'd have to say that's not always the case.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (Proverbs 18:21, The Message)

That tells me that (1) my words have the power to bring life to someone or bring death to their spirit, and (2) that I have the power to choose.

If words can bring life or death, we should at least consider the power in them before we let them tumble out of our mouths. If I held a high-powered weapon, capable of killing with a single shot, I wouldn't wave it around or shoot it off aimlessly. You'd better believe I'd be extremely careful in how I held it, carried it, and transported it. I'd refrain from using it, except when absolutely necessary.

Maybe that's what the writer of Proverbs meant when he said:

Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. (21:23)

Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything. (13:3)

Observe the people who always talk before they think—even simpletons are better off than they are. (29:20)

Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise; fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense.(15:2)

The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words. (10:19)

For me, it's a daily struggle, and it's worse when I'm tired, stressed out, or overwhelmed. (Who isn't all of those things most of the time?). But I keep at it. Why? Because I want my children to realize the power of their words.

I want them to understand that they possess great power in their words. And with that power comes great responsibility. 😉 Their words can bring life or bring death. They should be chosen carefully...used wisely.

Maybe our grandmas had it right after all... "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all!"

Let your conversation be always full of grace... (Colossians 4:6)

BeIntentional-250How do you strive to #BeIntentional with your words? Share your ideas in the comments, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

More great reading to help you #BeInentional with Your Words:

The Words We Say

 

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

The weeks leading up to Easter--Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week--are often filled with somber reflection. Even as I write this, it's a gray and gloomy Good Friday as though nature itself mourns the memory of what Christ did. I get that--we should reflect on what our sin cost our Savior. We need to remember we were lost and hopeless in our sin, and Christ paid a terrific price for us.

But Easter should be about more than reflection. It should be about celebration.

 

--we should reflect on what our sin cost our Savior. We need to remember we were lost and hopeless in our sin, and Christ paid a terrific price for us.

In reading through the crucifixion story this week, one overwhelming theme jumped out at me: God was always in control.

It was His plan. He called the shots.

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?”  He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ (Matthew 26:17, 18)

Did you see that? It's a whole week before Christ would go to the cross, and He's already in control of the situation. He is aware of what's coming, and He is already prepared for it.

And later, when He was betrayed...

Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?" At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” (Matthew 26:54-56)

I love this moment in the story. Jesus--who is fully God even though He is fully man--had full authority to summon the powers of heaven and deliver himself from danger. But He didn't. He willingly gave himself up. Why? So that Scripture might be fulfilled...not just a centuries-old prophecy, but a promise to bridge the gap between a Holy God and an unholy people. A promise rooted in God's love for us--every. single. one. of. us.

Even in death...

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised...When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

At the moment Christ breathed His last, a great earthquake struck, tearing the temple veil from top to bottom and cracking wide the tombs. It was as though God wanted to reiterate: "This was not man's doing; this was My doing."

And my favorite part...

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb...But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen!" (Matthew 28:1-6).

This was it: the pinnacle of God's plan.

Christ came...in God's timing.

Christ died...on His terms.

Christ defeated sin, hell, and death...completing God's plan.

The cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. ~Oswald Chambers

The ultimate plan bringing the ultimate victory. If there was ever cause for celebration, I'd say that is it!

If God remains in control of the circumstances surrounding Christ's death, and if He's able to orchestrate the details of an historical ransom for the souls of His people, is He not able to also orchestrate the details of your life...no matter your circumstances?

Yes, let's reflect on Christ's suffering today. And YES! let's celebrate His resurrection on Sunday. But let's not limit our reflection and celebration to one week a year. Let's celebrate His victory in our lives each and every day!

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.