Family Fun

Part of Heart Month, for me, is the “extra” stuff we get to do as a family, for the sake of celebrating our son, his memory and what he means to our family. Valentine’s Day is sweet and it is fun that it lands in the middle of the month, but Bubby Day is the 23rd and this year, Nick and I will be helping with Disciple Now, so we won’t be together as a family on that day. Our girls will be with their grandparents! Nick was able to take off Friday and Monday this weekend, as the girls are out of school! (another blessing that has come from the job he is in) We are so thankful! Yesterday evening we had heart pizza, cake and watched a movie! We exchanged Valentine goodies with each other and it was so nice.

We decided that today we would do some family fun things! We started with sleeping in(praises!!), we went to brunch and had a yummy family meal, laughed and visited and also had to get on to them both a million times for all the things, of course. It wasn’t picture perfect by any means. I also wasn’t in the mood to make heart shaped pancakes, do dishes or exert energy this morning, so Calico County it was. 🙂 *real life*

Ava and I went on a date to get our toes done and that was extremely nice! Spending one on one time with that girl is her jam. She loves time alone with either Nick or I and she is always filled up when that happens. We try to make that happen, however little or big the event/time is…sometimes it’s just sitting at the table together with various projects, sometimes it is going out and getting coffee or something bigger. What we’re learning, though, is how she responds and what she needs as a growing gal. It is nice that we can begin to provide that as she grows. img_4178

I have been sick for just about 2 weeks now. I was extremely sick last week for a few days, where Ava went to stay with Mimi and Pop, Nick stayed in Ana’s room and Ana on an air mattress in the room with him. I was quarantined to our room and stayed there for days. I began to rebound and went back to work Monday and Tuesday. Ana got sick in the midst of me being sick and Wednesday I had to take her home for treatments and meds all day. This roller coaster has been unpleasant, hard, extremely uncomfortable, discouraging, and down right depressing. I wondered why in the middle of this kind of month, for us, would I be so so sick, basically useless to the world. I was letting down my worship team that I lead, the staff I work with, my family who I take care of, etc. I was at a loss and felt very overwhelmed with guilt and shame for not being able to pull my weight. I know. It was probably more selfish that I was throwing pity parties about how I couldn’t do anything, then it was to just be sick.

Sometimes we get sick. Sometimes our bodies fail us and we get the flu, we have to stop life and get well. Why is this so hard for me? For you, perhaps?

My word this year is Renew and I know why for many reasons, but what I am coming away from this recent experience of being so so sick is this; my perspective needs renewal as well. I am finding what triggers anxiety and depressive tendencies in me. To be alone for a few days, unable to fill my days with activities, chores, errands, job stuff, etc I was fully aware of my inability to just be, to rely on others, to let others be a part of my world, to delegate, to trust that the people in my world actually want to help when they say they do, and know that they will. I realized how self absorbed I can truly be when I think I am the only person who can do what I do. I am thankful for so many of the people God has around me every day in ministry and work. I realized the last few weeks, that I have to actually take care of myself in order to serve. I do not have a choice, but to be real with my issues and admit where I need help and try to do better in not isolating or finding all of my identity in my job, ministry, gifting, roles, etc. Sometimes it takes the hardest moments, being completely worthless and so sick you can’t even move, to understand that none of this relies on me. I have a post it note on my computer at work that says, “It doesn’t depend on me”. You would think I would have read it a couple of times enough to believe it. It is so true though.

So, family day doesn’t look Pinterest perfect, in fact, Ana is fighting a nap right now and the house is a wreck. But, family day, this heart month is a bit less scripted and a lot more reality. It’s a little less “extra” this year and a whole lot of thankfulness that the illness is subsiding, slowly, but surely. I’m thankful for my hubs, who has kept us all alive and going through all the sickness. I’m beyond grateful for the staff I work with, my pastor and boss who extends grace upon grace to me. I am thankful for a worship team who can team up and fill in the holes when I am sick. They reassure me to just take care of myself and not feel guilty about it, and I know they mean it. I am thankful for friends who check on me and let me whine about how sickly I feel. Friends who get their mom to bring dinner to my doorstep. They are so very precious to me. I am thankful for my parents who took Ava in for 3 days to keep her away from the germs. I am thankful for my mother in law who takes care of Ana 2 days a week and will take on extra days if needed. We have a village around us and I am so very thankful for it.

Family day, for me, is remembering just how big this heart family is and how blessed we have been for 6 years (and more) to be a part of community. It is priceless.

Happy Heart Month! Hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day! Share your heart pics anytime on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #findingtheheart I would love to see them!! I love getting tagged, texted etc in your heart pics! I love it so!

 

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Finding the Heart of the Cardiac ICU

We were sitting at a lovely dinner one Saturday evening and she said, “it used to be that the PICU (pediatric ICU) was all there was. There wasn’t a Cardiac ICU and back in the day, no one wanted to take the heart babies, they knew that they were going to die.”

Nurse Kathy has been at Cook Children’s Medical Center for 40 years. She has seen the developments of pediatric cardiac care come from hardly anything, to 3d printers printing a replica of a child’s heart so doctors can create a better plan before going in for the repair. She has seen it all. She has cared for tiny hearts for many years. To sit and hear some of her stories from years gone by made me think of how many years of nursing are represented at any given time in the Cardiac ICU.

See, even I have seen incredible changes in the heart unit in the last 6 years. When we toured Cook’s while pregnant with Noah, we saw the PICU wing (D Wing) that the heart babies would return to post surgery. There were 6 or 7 beds for the heart patients. A year or so after Noah died, the old NICU was developed into a heart unit. There were more beds available and more privacy for families. It was really neat to see how much Cook’s was investing in the area of Cardiology. Then last year they unveiled and began using the new Heart Center in the brand new tower Cook’s built. This entire Heart Center is new, gorgeous and all inclusive. Cath labs can become operating rooms if needed. There is much less travel now from OR to recovery room. The step up unit is actually on the same floor now, but just down the hall, not a whole different building. The waiting room in the heart center is gorgeous, large, entertaining for littles and comfortable. There is a lovely outdoor garden type area that you can see from some of the rooms, especially the waiting room. You can walk outside and there is a heart that “Beats”. Truly, the care and special touches they thought through are so nice.img_2396

I remember being so thankful for all of the accommodations at the time because I didn’t know any better, but looking at this new heart center makes me SO thankful for current and future heart patients. They have 2 new surgeons joining Tam, who we had with Noah. They have an incredible staff of cardiologists, anesthesiologists, specialists, nurse practitioners,  intensivists, nursing staff, respiratory therapists, play therapists, OT, PT, Child life, etc.  I truly look back and think of HOW many people it took to take care of our boy at any given moment. It is an incredible place to receive care.img_2398

With that said… something Kathy  said actually, got me thinking. IF it weren’t for her and others who cared for the tiny hearts who “were going to die”, if there weren’t doctors and people who have fought for and pushed for more research, surgical developments, treatments, etc we would not have had 5 months with our son. We would have had days. I look at the facts that our surgeon Dr. Tam studied at John Hopkins and he was taught by the man, Dr. Norwood who developed the Norwood surgical repair for Hypoplastic Left Heart children. One of the other surgeons, most experienced in the nation, developed a repair, now named after him. Cook’s has a team that is globally known. Children have more of a chance of survival now than ever before.img_2399

She wasn’t afraid (I’m sure at times there was fear), but she was so invested in the care of every child, especially the heart babies. She has seen treatments change and develop over the years. She fought for the sweeties that many were too scared to fight for. She has held many a little one, hugged and sat with many anguished mommas and daddies.

I’m thankful for the legacy she has  in the CVICU.img_2353

There is something especially different about cardiac nurses. They have heart. (pun intended) Truly though, they serve and treat and work with such heart, such depth and care. They often forsake their own homes/families/kids for extra hours to make sure their patient is set up for the next shift with all they need, comfort and plan in place. They get in early, leave late, and they care. They care so deeply. I know most have a plan in place to keep a certain amount of distance, as they should. But, I can’t tell you how much it has meant to have the relationships we do.

Tonight, the Mended Little Hearts Group of Ft Worth is having a candle light vigil for all of the angel heart warriors who have gone on. She messaged me and asked if I would like for Noah to have a candle tonight. Cardiac nurses are something special. They have seen more than most and they keep coming back, shift after shift. They love our kids more than we can even know. They helped love and support my son in ways that only they could. There were many long nights of withdrawls for Noah during medicine weaning, there were several times after procedures where they would have to watch him particularly close for any changes/needs that would come up post op.

There were two specifically special cardiac nurses who spent our last day with Noah, serving us and being the biggest support. They gave us space, but would check on us frequently. They would stop and listen to me when I needed to just ramble on because I didn’t know how to be. They would make sure Noah was comfortable and that the morphine was consistent. The evening shift nurse would be the one to take out all of Noah’s lines, give him a bath and dress him for our farwell. She held us as we cried. She let me wait, but also assured me that she would take care of his last needs while we got some air and began preparations. She had him so sweetly taken care of and I had trusted her with Noah many nights before, this one was just so special and so different for us both. She was so gentle and supportive of  us. She helped us pack up the hospital room and she walked us out to our car. She didn’t have to be so kind. She didn’t have to hold us, cry with us or do all she did. That’s just how she is. She’s a cardiac nurse. She’s one of the best.seeingjesus

You see, I know that all nurses have a calling on their life. We all have a calling on our lives. Pediatric Cardiac nurses live a truly deep calling and they are so faithful to it. I find myself praying for them, their spouses/marriages (which get so strained because of the job), their children and all they sacrifice, their own heart and souls as they care for their patients. They see loss and death, but they see a LOT of healing and hope! They share their hope with scared mommies and daddies, big and little siblings, grandparents and friends of heart warriors. They do what they can to build up and light up these families during dark times, scary moments and even the nightmares. They help explain in our terms, what the doctors just tried to explain. They change the diapers, talk to them, encourage them, help turn on the movie above their bed, change their sheets, give little sponge baths, change lines, notice when they aren’t acting the same and they pick up on symptoms first.

Nurses are special and I would be amiss to not mention them during heart month. They are angels and do more than any of us can actually know. I can’t ever thank our nurses enough, but I will try to remind people to be aware of nurses and all they do. So, thank a nurse! Give them grace and remind them that they do amazing work, hard work, incredibly important work. ❤

So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Happy Heart Month to all of our nurses!

Shaina

 

A Month of Remembering

Heart Month is under way and I wanted to share with you some of the fun things we do in our home during heart month!

A lot of what I am sharing this month is for fellow heart families. Families who have heart warriors still with them, still fighting and for those families who have buried a heart warrior and want to celebrate them amidst all the celebrating of CHD awareness February brings.

Wherever you find yourself, I hope there is something for you here!

I want to share with you some of our favorite Heart Month ideas!

1. DECORATIONS– Y’all, do we need an actual reason to go to the Dollar Tree? Of course not. BUT, this is a good one! We love to find the most tacky and silly heart decor and hang it all up around the kitchen/dining area. The kids LOVE this! They get to pick glittery, bright, shiny and fun decorations. Y’all, its for one month. It is not a big ordeal to have some silly, shiny and even tacky stuff up if it gets us smiling and having fun together!

I do have some precious and more serious decorations for heart month as well, such as my favorite pictures of Noah, our letter board that always has the girls’ birthdays has his celebration date and his name on it. We put out some of Noah’s things that we love, but only during February. It makes them that more special to us all.

2. FUN INTERACTIVE IDEAS– I love finding things to do together as a family, especially with my girls. So, last year a friend of mine posted about these fun mail boxes she got her kiddos. They had a ball putting little notes, erasers, suckers, stickers, etc in their sibling’s mail box. She also put notes in there from her and her husband did the same. They had so much fun sharing the love with each other and any time their little mailbox flag was up, the excitement was too much to contain! So I found some little mailboxes at Target in the dollar spot last year! MY GIRLS THINK THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER. 🙂 I love sneaking notes in their boxes after they have gone to bed and then they wake up to their flags up and they light up!! They love making little notes for each other and get so giddy to open them up. I think I may have to add boxes for Nick and I next year!

– We usually find some fun ways to incorporate food into the heart month activities! One yaer we made heart shaped pizzas (You can also purchase heart shaped pizza at Papa Murphy’s fyi!! ) The girls enjoyed fixing up their own pizza. You can buy pre made dough or make your own! I have my Mimi’s pizza dough recipe I’ll share below! It is super easy and DELISH! We enjoy buying the cheesy valentine’s break and bake cookies! Cheap and so easy to bake and share with your neighbors, fire station, police station or school office! Baking from scratch is always fun and we enjoy Rice Krispy Treats with valentine sprinkles on them as well! Affordable and easily portable as well!

-any and all amounts of coloring, painting, creating and crafting are acceptable during heart month.It is fun to just get creative, let the kids enjoy all the craft supplies and you can turn all of their artwork into fun cards for community helpers, teachers, hospital staff or families at the RMH.

3. CONVERSATIONS– Heart month is a GREAT time to have conversations about the past. You  know the temperature of the room, so to speak, with your family. Our girls enjoy talking about “what if Bubby was here and well”, and we have fun imagining and thinking of all the things we would do if he were here. It is helpful for them to explore and imagine those things, even if they are reality. It is healing and helpful for our littles. Again, you know how that would help or hurt your own. I find hearing my girls talk about their brother and all the what-if’s can be such a fun conversation. It can also be hard, but we always leave that space smiling and laughing together. It spurs questions about faith, heaven and salvation. We don’t always have the answers, but we aren’t afraid of the conversations. We want to be the place that our girls come for hard discussions. This helps open the doors! img_5755



4. GIVING BACK– We find that during Heart Month, we have this surge of energy and desire to celebrate, so we make cookies, make artwork, and then realize that maybe we don’t need to eat all of the cookies and rice krispy treats or have room to hang up every piece of paper the girls have painted on.

I have found that the girls love to share their goodies with others in the community. So we go by the Fire Dept, Police Dept, Ronald McDonald House or our school office. It is so fun to see the girls light up when they bring treats to someone. I love how much fun we have making everything and then seeing how much joy the girls have when sharing it all.

 

So these are just a few things we do to celebrate Heart Month:

Here is the recipe for Mimi’s Pizza Dough:

Pizza Dough
Dissolve 1 pkg of yeast into 1/4 cup of warm water
Add to: 1 C of warm water
             2 T oil (any light oil-canola, vegetable, probably not olive oil unless it is light)
             2 T sugar
             1 t salt
Add: 1 beaten egg
Mix in: 3 C of flour (you can use wheat or regular all purpose here, or mix!) You might need a bit more flour, to make it less sticky. Just add a little bit at a time until you get a nice dough. 
Let rise double- about 30 min- 1 hour
This makes 2 pizzas since I am using the same pizza oven my Mimi used. 
you can read the whole post here: MIMI’s PIZZA DOUGH

 

Pro Tip! If you are nervous about messes, or just plain lazy and don’t want to make a batch of cookies or brownies, etc. JUST BUY THEM! Buy the pre-made dough, the break apart dough or slice and bake…they come with cute holiday pictures on them too! You can bag up pre-baked goodies from the bakery as well! Dollar Tree has such fun bags and boxes you can fill with candies or baked goods, but some bakery items, I guarantee, no one will turn down!! Whatever you do, don’t stress about it. It is supposed to be a fun time and a time to just enjoy each other as well as celebrate!

Whatever you decide to do, share it! I would love to see whatever you are doing this month! #findingtheheart #sharingtheheart

Happy Heart Month!

Shaina

 

Heart Month 101

Happy February folks!! We survived the year of January! For real, it seemed like such a long month. I guess I shouldn’t complain though. Time is flying by me and I need to soak up and linger in these times, am I right?!

So, for those of you who are new here, Heart Month is my favorite! Yes, February is the month hearts for the obvious reason of Valentine’s Day, but there is more to it for us!

February is CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) awareness month, the month Noah passed away in 2013, and also V-Day. 🙂 So we celebrate all the heart things! We found that since Ava was so young when Noah died, we wanted to find ways to remember Bubby, but that were age appropriate. We have had some fun times over the years!IMG_3788

There are some things that I do every year and there are lots of things that we try one year and may not do the next! One of the things that I enjoy doing every February is involving others in our celebrating!

The first heart month after Noah died we asked people to share hearts with us on Facebook. People sent us tons of hearts from all over! Some were from items in their home, office or yard. Some people found neat photographs of hearts found in nature and sent those to us. Some created artwork, but they all sent their love. We felt so seen, loved and celebrated that first year. It was like an enormous hug from all of our people, near and far who had walked with us through the journey.

We have suggested people eat cupcakes for his birthday in years past, but every heart month, we always do something different or special. Many years we collect items and take them down to Cook Children’s Heart Center in his memory. We have collected coke tabs and given those to Ronald McDonald House in Ft Worth. Whatever we do, we do it to celebrate, honor and remember our warrior son, Noah James.

There have been years where I was a lot more quiet and reflective as well. This year I just want to be open to what God has in store throughout the month. I want to encourage you where you are, to #findtheheart and share it. Dig deep, find what drives you and your heart and do that thing. That is what I am doing. I have a love of writing and sharing and I am committing to drive myself harder in this passion. Do you have a heart for fostering and adoption? Maybe a heart for missions? Perhaps you have a love for kids? What is it that makes you tick? This heart month, I urge you to ask God for direction and vision, passion and drive for something that only He can do through you!

and then… DO IT! (AND SHARE IT!) I want to know how you plan to share your heart with the world around you!

Feel free to share your heart pics with the hashtag #findingtheheart ! Follow that hashtag on Instagram as well! Let’s fill our homes, work places and churches with love this February. Maybe there is a special collection going on at your school or church that you could donate towards. Maybe make a batch of cookies and take them to the fire house, the Ronald McDonald House, the local hospital, or police station. Send out a postcard to your neighbors just saying hello and that you’re there for them!love-heart-hand-romantic.jpg

Maybe sharing your heart is a hard thing and you’re not near ready to do such a thing at this time in your life. You know what I urge YOU to do?

Take care of yourself. Take care of your heart. Maybe you are walking through some deep grief, fresh and raw. Maybe a divorce, a job loss or a diagnosis is creating a darkness around you. Would you do me a favor and tell someone? Do not walk it alone. Reach out. Take care of your soul, your heart and your mind.

Maybe you have been distant and cold towards your family, your spouse, your kids. Heart month is a time to recognize the loves in your life and remember again how special they are and to show them. Put a little note in your kid’s lunch box, stick a post it note with a sweet message on it for your spouse. Write your boss a thank you letter, even if that is the hardest thing you do all month. Extend some grace to the checker at the store or the grocery bagger. Ask people how they are doing and then listen for their response.

Heart month is a month of finding and sharing our hearts.40

You don’t have to have a romantic interest to celebrate the heart. Share what is on your heart and pursue it! Try new things, share your favorite things, encourage others. Most of all, spend some time with your own heart. Does it need attention? Maybe it needs work, a cleaning, some mending. Let God do the work only he can!

Stay tuned this month for more!

Thanks for sharing and email me if I can support you in any of this!!

Happy Heart Month,

Shaina

 

Round 3 Week 3

So we started another Whole 30 round on January 1st. This is the first round in which I have not “struggled” so much. I say that. I have not struggled with the food side of things as much.

I know that not having the opportunity to emotionally eat has forced me to deal with issues that come up in an actual way. I can’t just go grab a Dr Pepper and feel better for a bit. I have to tackle the issue at hand and that has been rough.

You know what though, it has been freeing! The other thing is, it’s giving me life. In order to see change, experience change and get out of old ruts, bad habits and the same old crazy cycle…WE HAVE TO OWN IT.

I had to come to a point last weekend, during a really rough patch personally, to either quit the whole 30 and grab comfort food, or push through, and actually deal with the issue.

Romans 12 comes up again.

To be transformed by the renewing of my mind, means that I actually put into practice the truth. Prayer is essential.

We gathered up as a family that evening and prayed. The enemy can mess with me quite a bit, but when I see he is messing with my children, battle on. My big girl was getting pretty emotional and kept saying she was overwhelmed. We stopped. We prayed. We immediately felt peace. My issues weren’t resolved. I still had tough things I was walking through, but the battle belongs to the Lord and that is who we gave it to.

So, what’s my point? When we take time to be healthy, really OWN our issues, our insecurities, our SIN, we deal with it, we lay it down, we’re honest about it and have real conversations for healing and redemption, we can have freedom! We can experience life that is so much more honest and rich.

Do we always get it right? Nope. But, we have to start somewhere.

Let’s own our issues. Let’s not let friendships die because of unspoken struggles. Let’s not let our families suffer under the pressure of our expectations and frustrations any longer. Let’s do the work necessary in us, to bring the healthiest version of ourselves to the table. Whether that is in our marriage, parenting, work, or just for ourselves. Maybe being healthy emotionally and psychically actually leads to a more healthy and real relationship with the Father.

Food for thought!

Have a great week friends and keep finding the heart!

Shaina

Renew 2019

Ever have one of those days where you just don’t think you can please anyone? Even yourself. Maybe it was one of those years and you just kept hitting brick wall after brick wall.

I know some people who could care less if everyone likes them. I know myself and I know that I care. For some reason I just take too seriously how even little things can come across as someone not liking me. I want everyone to be happy and when I disturb that I feel it deeply. When someone doesn’t like me, misunderstands me or is even simply frustrated with me I dwell on it, I struggle in it and I worry about why and how I can fix it.

I wish I wasn’t so sensitive, but I also recognize that sometimes this sensitivity is something God uses in me as well. When I get rejected though, I can tank.

Here’s the deal. We will not always like each other. We can be the best us we can be and still someone will just not like us. When this happens, I am realizing that I must find my identity solely in HIM. I cannot find my worth in the one who does not care for me or know me like Christ does. We also can’t find our worth and our identity in our husbands, children or best friends. These people can be our biggest fans and think we do know wrong and that isn’t actually reality either, because we all know that we do wrong. We’re not always right, we do mess up and sometimes we are extremely un-likeable. The beauty in these people is that they have a love to give us, when we need it most.

So how do we protect our minds from this?

Romans 12 is going to be my chapter this year and the first few verses are why.

Romans 12:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

A Living Sacrifice

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Humble Service in the Body of Christ

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

I have chosen the word Renew for 2019. So many times I get caught up in the need to please game, the constant worry and wondering if I’ve made someone mad, did something wrong, or if someone disapproves of me. Sometimes I even find myself in competition with MYSELF in all the things I wish I were, can’t seem to be or who I’ve been. I have asked God to Renew my mind in 2019, renew my body, renew my spirit, my soul, my knowledge and my resolve in my walk with Him and in every part of my life. I have been worn thin (hah not thin enough haha) by the constant struggle of people pleasing. I have wasted too much time overthinking.

So I offer myself to him, in my health choices, when I choose to say yes and no to things, how I respond and react. I choose to offer myself as a living sacrifice for him, not lay my life down on the altar as a sacrifice of my peace, my wellness or my best self. I don’t have to go expend myself so much I burn out, all in the name of being a living sacrifice. When he asks for our obedience over burnt offerings, I believe He means our burned out selves as well. When we obey and live in his richness, we don’t burn out. We don’t have to offer ourselves as burnt offerings. Instead we can offer our living and obedient selves, sacrificing our our immediate pleasure for long term obedience. I die to self, but in order to live fully for Him, for my Nick, my girls, the people whom God has given me to minister to, my team who I lead with, etc. THIS is my worship, my mundane everyday.

I give him my mind, allow him to transform it by His word, so I do not act like the world around me, so I don’t respond like the world around me. I am terrible at this. Still. I am truly working on this and have been for a year or so now. See, someone close to me made a remark that was in joking and fun. He didn’t mean to hurt me. He compared me in completely joking way to a game called Smart A$$. It is a funny word game. What happened in that moment shifted my whole spiritual journey, though. I realized that even though it was a joke, there is always some truth behind a joke. Was I really that way? Was I known for having a smart mouth, a snarky attitude, a salty take on life? Did I have a reputation of those things? Because if so, then change had to occur. It has been months and months of stepping back, self evaluating, lots of prayer and asking God to come in and change. So many times of catching myself and wondering how I got to that place? Many moments of truly hating who I was because for some reason, it became a way of defending or being accepted or finding relevance in a conversation. It was wrong. It was effecting my life, my children’s lives, my marriage, my work environment for sure. The negativity, such a foothold. The sarcasm, the harsh opinions…I almost audibly hear God say, “you need to lighten up”. I realized I needed him to lighten me.

So after many months of digging and learning and working hard to change how I respond, react, talk, I still don’t have it right all the time. I don’t. Thankful for grace. I rest in that when I realize I am trying in my own power to change. But, I thank God I am not living in ignorance of a terrible habit. I’m being sanctified and growing in my walk with him by being refined in the process of renewal. I want my mind to be renewed, my thinking and processing to be different. Dare you to ask Him where you need renewing.

So we see in verse 3 to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but rather think of ourselves with sober judgment, in accordance to the faith given us. WOAH. This hits hard.

I am not supposed to not love myself or not be my biggest fan, but there are times in our life when we are so clueless to a behavior or habit that is actually hurting us and others, but we are in denial. What if we, in the faith God has given us, accepted the truth of our fault, put it at the foot of the cross, and LET GOD CHANGE US. We see this movement, and everyone has written in their high school yearbook, “don’t ever change!!”.

That statement isn’t Biblical. So, if I am living by the Word and His Truth, then I know that I will change many times in the course of my life, my walk with Christ and into eternity. Let Him change your mind, change your heart, change your way of doing life. It might be His freedom for you. Maybe we are so very stubborn that we are the ones who are in our own way. Somehow we are so afraid of change that we just ignore the things we are doing that are slowly burning us to a crisp, perhaps even slowly killing us.

God created us, loves us and desires us as we are. He also loves us so much more than to leave us the way he finds us. (thanks Max Lucado for that truth) I’m so thankful.

So, find solace and comfort in the fact that God loves you the way you are, as an image bearer and daughter or son of the King. He is your creator, your Father, your confidant and friend. He has the power to love you matter what and the ability to help you always and forever grow, change and develop into his likeness.

It is hard. It is SO VERY HARD.

Ava fell as scraped her knee the other day. She had been on her scooter around our new neighborhood and got tripped up. She was just going on her normal route on our cul-de-sac. She can get going pretty fast. Haha. She came in crying. I looked at it and immediately smiled. She was so confused. She cried “Momma!! Why are you smiling? It hurts!” What she didn’t see was that the scrape was the exact shape of a heart. I put a band-aid on it and she went back outside to resume her “alone time” she calls it. I realized that sometimes we get going in life, we are cruising along and something trips us up. It forces us to be in some pain, stop, ask for help, get it mended up and then continue living. Isn’t that life? We cruise along, we get tripped, we get hurt, and in that place we have a choice. We can find the heart of it or we can let it get dirty, scab over, maybe even get infected. What if we stopped, let Him clean us, love us, mend us and then send us off to do the life we so love?!

Praying that you find who you are in Him. Praying that you rest in that. Praying that you lay down the need to please, the worry, the wasted time and mental space and begin to live in an honest place. Let Him do hard work in you. Let Him change YOU, not necessarily them. It’s hard. We’re in this together, friend! I am trying to organize my thoughts on how God has been doing this in me and hoping to share those soon. Application is the hardest part.

Maybe this whole post was meant for me. It usually is. ❤

Keep finding the heart,

Shaina

Hello, December!

It has been over a month since I have typed a word here. I suppose my mind just took itself a long vacation. Sometimes, I suppose, it is necessary to withdraw and just live life. So many things have happened since October. Geez. Routine came back into play with the last time I wrote and alongside all of our routine we had lots of other things come about as well. October was so great. Lots of fun, Halloween in our new home proved to be fun! We had a good amount of trick or treaters and the girls got to go around the close blocks and got loaded up. 🙂 Nick served on a Kairos Prison Ministry team and lead the worship for the weekend. It went well and the girls and I held the fort down at home.

November started off strong with some best friend time! Her and her kids came into town for a week and we got a whole Saturday to spend together. Our kids played, we got to visit, we met the newest baby and just had a lovely time together. November also had a lovely Thanksgiving break. We had 5 days off. Nick had 4 days off and we had so much down time, relaxing, movies, snacks, family time, food and fun. It was the best! We got Christmas put up and being in the new house has just been so fun! I feel as though this home will serve us well over the years to come. It has been so nice settling in. I realized the other day that each of the girls have empty drawers and shelves in their cabinets in their bathrooms. Room for later when they’re bigger and need space for their stuff. Right now it is awesome to have empty places all over the house. There are closets and cabinets that are empty. That means we are not overflowing with junk. So thankful. If I learned anything in the apartment it was that we do not need a ton of stuff. We just don’t. If everything has a purpose and a place, we are all better off. 🙂

November brought with it a big change for some friends of ours! They adopted 2 girls! Sisters. They are growing and adjusting to new life, but it was a huge blessing to get to be a part of that big day!! What a beautiful picture of the gospel. We love our friends and their girls!

So here is December. I was looking at the calendar today and realized it is already getting full. I looked again though and also realized that all the things on the calendar have to do with friends, family and the church. It is safe to say that the month will be busy, but also FULL of blessing and memory making. I am thankful. I am trying to soak up these moments, these days, even the homework/school routine/projects/events. There’s just no time to waste with these girls. They will be gone before I know it and Ana isn’t even in “school” yet. She does turn 3 next weekend! Crazy!

I don’t know why I am writing a catch up with our life type post, but I just felt the need to. I suppose it is more for me than anyone. I don’t have some profound lesson to teach, word to preach or thing to say. Just hello, I hope and pray you are well. I am blessed beyond measure. I am thankful and grateful for my life and all that  is in it. We have some big goals for 2019, our girls are growing and I can’t slow down life so I am finding ways to savor our days.

Much love to you all.

Shaina