A New Thing…

I sat in the bank parking lot, weeping. I was in my car, needing to go in and deposit some money and get some cash out, etc. I had a lot of errands to run and a certain amount of time that my kids were being taken care of so I could run said errands. But, I just sat and cried. Life stopped for a second and I felt as if things I had been praying through for years were coming to be, in front of my eyes. Stinging tears of pure thanksgiving. I just had to sit and soak in all of the things. I felt so seen and so loved.

See, if you remember, not quite a year ago, we decided God was telling us to sell our home, downsize and save money. So we did. and it was weird. It all happened really fast and we found ourselves in a 2 bedroom apartment, living small and simple. It has taught us to be content, even happy, without a lot of stuff, room, space, comfort. The girls have shared a room and have a limited amount of toys. They went from a backyard with a play structure and space to run, to a small patch of grass, a sidewalk and limited time outside. Nick went from a garage with storage and tools to a tool box and lawn mower being stored at his mom’s house, a weed eater being stored at a friend’s house and a small tool box under the bed. We had a big pantry with great storage, a garage for both cars, and room for people to come over. We got rid of clothes, stuff, furniture, and I got rid of a ton of kitchen items. We decided it was worth it to sell a house we didn’t love and that needed us to start updating it, to downsize and get rid of endless clutter, and save. This experiment/decision came with mixed responses when people in our world found out what we were doing. haha! We had some super supportive people and we had some who smiled and nervous laughed. Some were very concerned about us living in an apartment and why would we want to rent when we owned our home, etc. 🙂 But we went ahead with this calling that God was very clear on. He was very clear, so we placed our home on the market and we had a signed contract in a week. Hello confirmation. We closed in a couple of weeks and it was done. That almost 10 months ago…the last ,almost year, has been wonderful. Yes, there have been moments where we felt like we couldn’t stand the apartment anymore. But, overall, we have enjoyed our simple time in the apartment. It is a part of our life that the girls will remember. Ava has enjoyed having a pool too, obviously. 🙂

So, the last few months I have been gazing at houses online and occasionally becoming obsessed with it. ha! A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a home that caught my eye. It wasn’t in the place we were thinking of wanting to buy, but it was in one of the runner up places. 🙂 I felt really drawn to it and decided we needed to look at it. We have been saving for this last year, and are at a place where looking isn’t out of the picture. We can always save more, but we’re at a place where we can seriously look. We called our realtor. She met up with us and showed us the house. We walked through and this feeling of joy and calmness at the same time was welling in me. I was imagining movie nights, life group, holidays and honestly, plain ol Tuesday nights.

I’ve learned in the last year of apartment life, that movie nights, regular Tuesday evenings, Life Group and holidays can all happen in less space, with less.

Contentment and simplicity create space to appreciate what you have, where you are.

When we appreciate what we have, where we are, we are able to receive, with gratitude, more.

Jesus teaches in

Luke 16:10-13 New International Version (NIV)

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

I’m not telling you to sell your house and downsize, but I will say that when you clean out the junk from your closet and your heart, you save instead of indulging constantly, and you decide that you’re blessed with what you have,  you will see that there is room in your life, heart, and mind to obey, enjoy and trust at a level you’ve never known before.

Where is it that you are needing to trust more? Maybe you don’t feel like you have enough faith, courage or boldness to let go and trust. Take the first step. I’m not sure what is more cluttery, your heart or your garage, but start somewhere. Clean out a drawer and then let that act be the stepping stone for another act of obedience and freedom. You can find excitement and fresh life in old spaces if you look. You don’t have to buy a new house to find fresh inspiration. You don’t have to sell a house to save money. You can find ways to clean out your house and your heart. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and that causes all sorts of places in our life to get out of control. We spend more money on more stuff to fill up a house that is already stuffed full, all because of a heart issue we won’t deal with. Sound familiar?

Nick and I followed God’s leading and we made some major changes in our life, to pursue obedience and see what he wanted next for us. It started with small steps though. Once we did sell, downsize and settle into a smaller more simple life for a bit, we still had struggles, we still accumulated stuff and had to clean out, we still had life happen and had to spend money on things we didn’t plan like medical bills or car repairs. None the less, we realized this last year that doing the obedient thing, even when it seems silly, unpopular or weird, can be the best thing to ever happen.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are closing on our new home in August and this home, for us, is an example of God’s faithfulness and more than that, his sweetness. He has gifted us this home through a number of different ways. There are many rewards in this season, as we get to settle back into a home, with room to breathe, a backyard for play, and amenities we have gone without. Life will happen too, like car repairs and I’m sure a clogged toilet or who knows, maybe even something worse…even in this fun and blessed season, but having  God do a hard work in us has built in us a calmness and a perspective that whatever happens next, will be ok. Having faith isn’t being naive. Faith is letting God do hard work in us and it’s letting him give good gifts to us. It’s both.

Sometimes I struggle with (lots of times I struggle with) letting God love me. I try so hard to earn, prove, work for his love, approval and goodness. Sometimes when we ask in faith and God gives us things we’ve asked for, it really is that he just loves us. He cares. He provides. He listens. He knows. He sees. He enjoys. He delights. He loves. He is a good good Father and he gives good good gifts to his children. He also desires us to obey, trust, ASK, seek, knock and be a vital and living part of the relationship with Him. Do you see? HE WANTS YOU. He wants you to be all in. When we’re all in with him, we’re in the best place we can possibly be. His will.

So I let the tears fall, feeling more seen and loved than I had in so long. Holes caused by loss, filling up. Wounds endured by suffering, mended by his hand. Dark times being redeemed in so many beautiful ways. I let the moment be what it should be, an altar of praise and worship to my God who knows all, sees all and makes all things new.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How can you find or make space in your mind/heart?
How can you let God love you today?
How can you challenge yourself to trust him in a new way?

Let’s #findtheheart where we’re at. I’m finding that the heart of life tends to be obvious when we find the space, make the time, and stop long enough to listen and be aware.

Let’s be people who notice, appreciate and find contentment in what we already have.

Trust and obey, there’s no other way…

Shaina

 

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Summer Reading

Here is my list of books I’m wanting to read this summer!

I would love suggestions for fiction.

I tend to read more non-fiction as I am learning to pastor, lead a worship team, etc. Always wanting to learn more and usually using content for growing a team as well as my family, myself, etc.

So shoot me ideas for fiction!

I’m currently reading

Own Your Life
by: Sally Clarkson

Buy it HERE!It is on sale at Barnes and Noble for $4

So far this book has been refreshing and a great reminder that our lives are full of our own decisions. It is encouraging and full of conviction, but also great reminders of faith and God’s provision.

Here are the ones I am wanting to read/finish/have on the list:

Emotionally Healthy Woman
by: Geri Scazzero
Buy it HERE! It is on sale on christianbook.com for $10.99

This book is a sister book to Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. That book is incredible and it really changed my focus. It helped me understand more about how healthy emotions make spirituality less of a battle in my mind. Healthy is more than just feeling good physically. It has to do with our emotions and mind. Looking forward to this feminine take on it.
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality was great, you can find it HERE.

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You
by: Tony Reinke
Buy it HERE! It is currently $10.99 on Christianbook.com

This book has an incredible forward by John Piper. I have read that much of it and have started the first chapter. So far it is SO convicting. So encouraging though. Lots of help and good encouragement on positive phone usage and things to watch.

Make it Happen
by: Lara Casey
Buy it HERE! Walmart.com has it for sale for $5.99

I have read a little of this book and it wasn’t the right season for me at the time to be reading it. So I shelled it. I feel as though now is the time to utilize this message and so I’m excited to get to finishing this one!

And the sister book

Cultivate
by: Lara Casey
Buy it HERE! Christianbook.com has it for $13.49 right now

Looking forward to this beautiful book. Intentionality is always something that draws me in. So I’m looking forward to diving into this one and it is just so pretty! 🙂

That is about all I’m going to be able to get through with all of the stuff going on and things I want to do with my kids!

If any of you have read these or end up reading them, let me know what you think!
Looking forward to getting through all of them and maybe doing some deeper discussions on them!

Happy Reading and Happy Summer!

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#findingtheheart in every day life,

Shaina

Discipline18

You probably know that lots of people pick a “word” for the year. Out with resolutions and in with trendy words. I’ve done this and if you’ve read any of my past blog posts you know that they have been woven into my life over the years and I’m better for it.

So, this year I could not shake the word Discipline. ugh. I have struggled with discipline for most of my life. No, I wasn’t a trouble maker. I was very concerned that I stay out of trouble. Discipline for me was to stay out of trouble and not color outside the lines, do things out of order or take risks. It kept me out of trouble, it also formed some expectations in my life that I am now having to shake.

Discipline does not = perfection.

When I initially think of discipline I think of health and exercise. It is just honestly the first thing that comes to mind. I think I need to be disciplined in my healthy eating habits, exercise every day and never stray. The unrealistic idea of what discipline is in that, then brings heavy defeat and guilt when I don’t keep my habits in perfect alignment to what “discipline” means. House keeping has been this for me. If my housekeeping routine isn’t perfect and consistent then it’s wrong, I’m wrong, it’s all wrong… lies. The way I relax even brought me stress, I know I know, because I was overly concerned with if I was relaxing right…efficiently…I mean, really. I would try to watch a show on Netflix, read a book, just be quiet, rest, take  a nap, journal, etc… but I would be thinking of a million other things while “resting”. That’s not resting. Meal plans, if I don’t stick to them, if I change my mind or life happens and we end up eating out, in my brain, I just think, “what’s the point of the meal plan if we just do whatever else anyway…”so I give up on meal plans. If I miss a couple of days on my Bible reading plan, I would have just given up and quit. I did that, for many years. What a prison I have lived in, thinking success and “discipline” are actually being and doing things perfectly.

I still struggle with this.

I have found, though, that this last year as I put into practice some new things, they paved way for habits that have brought more “discipline” to my life.. but they are far from perfect practices.

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I’ll be honest with you, I fail at these a lot, but I’m finding that discipline is actually doing something, failing in there too, until it becomes a natural response. I remember many times I have been stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated and I would just implode (and yes explode sometimes). I didn’t have any sort of discipline in place that would help combat the crazy. Until this year, I would just muddle through until it passed. Prayer, yes, Bible reading some… but, I would just manage. This last Easter I was preparing for Night of Worship and Easter services at church and I just kept hearing God tell me to “stay in the cloud” with Him. You know, like the cloud of his presence that would hover over the tabernacle. I would stay in that place with him throughout the week to not get distracted or over stressed. I thought the next week, why would I just stay in his presence for a big event? Why would I not make time and practice intentionally being in his presence, just because? So, no I don’t just sit with earbuds in and worship music going, a candle lit and just ignore the world, but I will tell you, that I do get intentional about what I listen to, read, and I end up journal praying, a lot. I dig in the Word, I get alone when I can, I self talk a bunch of truth so that I get out of my negative thoughts and stay in the truth. I am not perfect at this, but it is becoming more of my normal response to intense times than it was months ago. It is becoming a natural response, perhaps even habitual.

Discipline is not perfection. It is realizing that grace isn’t a means to do whatever we want, but permission to do our best and still mess up. So we continue on this journey of life with a choice. We can either strive for perfection and give up often, never actually getting anywhere with our dreams, goals or daily practices. Or, we can live each day, to the best of our ability, extending ourselves and others grace, but to NOT QUIT when it gets tough or when we fail.

We will fail, you know. And when we do, the thing about discipline is this: we may stop, pause, reflect, re-evaluate, shift our focus or thoughts, but we learn to not just give up. We don’t throw in the towel. We don’t self implode with being our own worst critic, having pity parties for days, or blame the world for everything going on inside of us. We are able to step back, have perspective and breathe. It is possible to step out of a situation, out of an issue and gather yourself.

Giving grace to ourselves is the key to having any sort of success.

I believe wholeheartedly that our success in marriage, mothering, our jobs, meeting goals, financial dreams, parenting in general.. grace.

Grace paves the way for true discipline. Discipline doesn’t come before the grace.

Romans 5:8
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Isn’t that beautiful. While we were still sinning…in the midst of our mess ups, our hardship, our rebellion..our darkest….Christ died for us. Grace. We do not have to clean up or get disciplined before he saves us. He saves us, right where we are. Salvation comes in while we are the worst. Once we are walking with him in relationship, no matter the length of time, He always comes in, no matter where we find ourselves and grace meets us where we are.

Did you yell at your kid today in a selfish outburst? Is it hurting your heart how often you argue with your spouse? Is it frustrating how many times you “start the diet”? Do you wish you could get a handle on a habit? a bad habit? Grace. Right now. Today, in this moment. It is available. It is real. It is enough. Start over. Refresh your mental page. Close some tabs. Be present in the moment you are in and just stop. Allow God to forgive you of the sin, release you from the frustration, refocus your heart for him and for how much he truly loves you and is on your side.

Discipline is not perfection. Perfection is unattainable. Holiness is the goal though. Isn’t that the irony of this walking with Christ thing? In humility and grace, we say we cannot accomplish this, we cannot measure up. Allowing Him to do the hard work in us, though, will create growth, it will refine us, it will naturally cause us to care more, be aware, do the right thing, make the hard right choice. When we know how lavishly we are loved, that love spurs us on to true faith. Faith in it’s purest form is response to Him. Response in trust, real belief and then living that out in daily ways.

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James 2:14-26
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [a]your works, and I will show you my faith by [b]my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [c]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made [d]perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was [e]accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

So faith, truest form of worship, trusting that He sees you and loves you where you are…makes way for growth, change and grasping the discipline we so need. Life changing is what this as been for me. I don’t have to have it perfect or not at all. I don’t have to see immediate results or give up. I don’t have to get it right the first time I’m wrong forever.

Let’s be encouraging, to US. Let’s be honest in our struggles and our frustrations. Let’s breathe life into ourselves. Let’s breathe life into each other. Let’s show grace to ourselves and then to each other, our spouses, our children… when we live in a place of grace, we quit the fight, we release our white knuckles from the grip of perfection.

I know Emily Ley– author of Grace Not Perfection and The Simplified Life, has hit on this subject in a very rich way! I am so thankful for these books that have helped me in this. Look into her resources for some fun inspiration and tools to help. 51xyDB5rXvL._SX372_BO1,204,203,200_

Overall, as we head into summer, let’s give ourselves permission to breathe. Let’s walk in grace, rest in it and then allow ourselves to keep going in the hard things, knowing we are being refined, pruned even, spurred on and pushed into new and better life, daily. Each day is a new chance for new life.

My oldest daughter said just yesterday, “mom, life is like a chapter book. Each part of my life is a new chapter and it won’t ever end because it will continue into heaven.” Yes, dear. That is the HOPE of GLORY! We do this life, to the best of our ability and in all the grace He gives. Then we get to live in the perfection of more life, after this one here. HOPE! GLORY! NEVER ENDING! We don’t have to give up because the prize of eternal life, glory, the presence of God is something Christ won for us on the cross. AND we can LIVE from that truth NOW.

Let’s not give up! As we continue in this journey of grace, #findingtheheart becomes like life to us! It becomes something we naturally just see. We see the grace in the hard place, we see the spark of light in the darkness, we become the good news in a world of bad.

Hebrews 10:25
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Here for you! Let’s do life together. Ups and downs, twists and turns… we’re in this!

As a sweet friend of mine said at a women’s ministry fellowship Sunday, “we are better together. We are good on our own, but we are better together”.

You’re loved.

Shaina

The Mother I Can Never Be

It was a really lonely moment. One of those kinds of moments where your tears are welling up, but you just can’t let them fall because you have to keep it together. Being strong is something you don’t ever think you are, until you have no other choice. That moment had me going from happy, excited and even accepting of a new baby on the way (I say accepting because our other child was only 10 months old…ha). I was driving down Western St and I got a phone call from my doctor. She said they wanted to take a better look at the heart because he was being so “wild” during the sonogram. I knew she was trying to be kind and careful. I also knew something was wrong. I drove straight to the church. I just parked and came in and sat in the worship pastor’s office. The staff stopped and prayed for me, for our baby and for the future; for the sonogram to come, for the possible diagnosis, but mainly they prayed for healing, in the most miraculous sense.

I remember leaving there feeling a little better. At least I wasn’t totally alone. I was never alone, I know that Nick was there and our whole family, but to me, I felt so alone. It would not be the last time I would feel alone on this journey.

The next day we laid in the sonogram room for over an hour while the tech took a billion screen shots of every angle of just the heart of our little boy. By then we knew it was a boy, we knew his name and had begun to dream up our life with him in it. So, laying there, Nick and I naturally trying to make an awkward situation less uncomfortable, we tried to be calm and even a bit silly. We tried to pass the time by visiting with each other and thinking of Ava who was at home with my best friend, Lauren. The tech finished up and left. The Dr came in after a long while and sat down. She was very clinical and plain. There was not a lot of expression or even character in her voice. I assume that being in that position is not easy and truly the least favorite part of the job. Having to tell someone that their child has an extremely severe heart defect, will have an 80% chance to make it, if all THREE open heart surgeries work and will have life long complications due to it, is not the reason they went into the field.

She was really gentle, but very blunt about our options. “You can deliver in Ft. Worth, Dallas or Houston”  “all are very well equipped to handle this kind of case”  “You won’t be able to deliver here because we are not equipped in Amarillo to handle pediatric cardiac cases.” “You  need to pick soon, though, so we can get you referred, appointments started and get you into a new OBGYN specialists in whichever location you choose.” “most people do carry to term and have their baby, have procedures done and do well” “there are other options if you want info on that” “You will still see your doctor here in between appointments there” “This is a genetic defect and so we will be conducting some genetic tests/interviews as well” “I’m so sorry about this, we will try to answer any questions you have”….

Wells of tears, heart beating quickly, trying to be “cool” and collected, trying to muster up the nerve to go pay out of pocket $1200 for a sonogram that told us our son had a chance to live, but also a very large chance to die. Fog. It all became blurry. I couldn’t drive home. Nick had met us at TTU Health Science Center for the sonogram and I couldn’t walk well, much less drive home. What would we tell people? How would this change our life? How do you go from planning a new nursery to ,not knowing at the time, but soon planning a funeral? We got home and I just cried. I laid on the couch and cried. Looking back I cried more and felt more helpless in that moment, then I did when he died. For the first time in my life, I felt completely and utterly abandoned.

I grew up in an incredibly happy and stable home. Our routine, our weekly events, my parents’ marriage, our church life, my grandparents’ and their involvement in our life, my sister and our relationship, were all so normal, almost boring. My life was safe, predictable, supported, happy, not without struggle here and there, but mostly just “blessed and highly favored” one might sweetly say on a Sunday night at church, during the greeting time. My life had not seen hardship. My faith, since the age of 7 had not been shifted. Until now. I had always thought about being a mom…

I found myself unable to function the rest of that afternoon and evening. Lauren brought us dinner, she got Ava all settled and told Nick it would be fine and she went and bought a cute onesie and a card and just loved us so well. I wanted to be “ok” and say it would be ok and mean it, but I couldn’t. I just curled up on the couch and wept. and wept. and wept. I shook, I was nauseous, my head was pounding, my heart breaking and all I could do was wait. I told Nick I couldn’t get myself to even change Ava’s diaper. I couldn’t hold her, I couldn’t be a mom for awhile. I felt so defeated, alone, frustrated, tired, let down, abandoned and honestly, like I had done something wrong and God was punishing me. How silly to think that he would be punishing me with a child, but in my mind, I had been faithful my whole life to him, I was faithful to serve, tithe, volunteer, worship, study the Word, be in a Godly marriage, use my gifts for his service and then suddenly this happened. What did I do to deserve this “hardship”… I felt like God didn’t care and that he messed up on my son. Why would MY son have a heart defect? Did I do something to cause this? We had PRAYED IN FAITH, our sweet church staff and I, over this baby and the sonogram and the outcome. Why would God not hear the prayers of the faithful? The thought of having to tell them and our family and everyone that our son was defected, hurt me deeply. This all happened the week before Mother’s Day.. pexels-photo-760724.jpeg

I remember the next day opening my Bible and finding a verse I could hold onto and I just decided I didn’t have a choice, but to take it a day at a time. The same God I was struggling to even believe in anymore, was the only thing that gave me peace. His word and finding ways to talk with Him through it all, kept me focused on being able to mother my little girl, do the day to day tasks and just survive.

My first Mother’s Day was approaching as we had been dealt this hand. Ava was born in June of 2011 and this was May of 2012.
Mother’s Day since the beginning of my mothering journey, has been difficult. I was supposed to be happy and celebrating the joy of mothering my Ava, be celebrated by Nick and Ava. They were sweet to me and Nick bought me the sweetest pearl and diamond necklace. I did feel so seen and loved and celebrated. Inside, I was deeply pained, struggling and questioning and wondering how all of this would end up. I tried to mask the struggle. I tried to push through. I learned to do it. and do it well. Appointments began to get scheduled in Ft. Worth. We picked Ft. Worth because Nick had family there, somewhat close by, so we thought, that might be comforting. It was. We’ll always be thankful for them. As the journey continued, I had to face more lonely moments. My first drive to Ft. Worth was pretty rough, until Wichita Falls and then my sister joined me. She was such a life saver for me that trip. She was there for all of the stuff in that first trip. That first 4 hours from Amarillo to WF were incredibly lonely though. I had never set off on a journey like that one. Even during that first appointment, I had my sister and I was thankful, but there were moments when I felt anxiety and loneliness creep in that dark sonogram room. I had lots of conversations with God on those sonogram tables. Lots of talking to God and questioning God and begging. So much begging. Begging God for healing for my son, for courage for me…for things I didn’t even know how to pray for. Lonely moments.

September came and it was time for Ava and I to move to Ft. Worth to await the 39 week mark. They wanted us close by before delivery in case I went into labor or something. We were going to be staying with Nick’s cousin and her husband. So very thankful for that home and that refuge for us. Those 2 weeks though, were some of the hardest days. I was alone in a huge new city, with my 15 month old daughter and all the time in the world to fill. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t help but be nervous. I did all I could to make it fun for us. We went shopping and played at the indoor playgrounds at 3 malls haha. We went for ice cream and met some sweet people at our family’s church there. Ava was a champ. I was a wreck. I cried a lot. I depended on Ava, in an odd way, for stability and she truly forced me to just keep going. I had no choice, but to fight through the emotions and the nerves and the darkness and make it through. Ava and I still have a deep bond because of those 2 weeks. Lonely weeks.

Noah came. He made it through the initial surgery and after a few weeks everyone had to go home. Nick had to get back to work, my parents both had to get back and Noah wasn’t getting better. So I found myself alone in the cafeteria one day. I was alone. I was alone in a big hospital cafeteria, alone in a big town, alone in a circumstance no one I knew had walked through before. I truly did not have a soul I could talk to who knew. I began to realize, after a few weeks of being alone (minus most weekends), that God was using the time alone to do deep work. Our marriage was tested, for sure. We learned to really communicate. We learned to appreciate every moment we had together. We learned to take care of the child we had at the moment. For him that was Ava and for me that was Noah. We missed out on so much as parents, of the child we weren’t with. He missed Ava’s first time to dress up for Halloween and trick or treat. I missed Ava learning the ABC’s and counting to 10. He missed out on so much of Noah’s life. We were both so lonely without the other. We both also felt very lonely in our parenting. We were taught, by force, that there is a reason God designed us to be a team. Lonely months.

For almost 5 months I was trying to prepare myself to be a heart mom. I knew I would be a mom who would be familiar with hospitals, needles, IVs, O2 monitors, oxygen tanks, meds after meds, appointments, pacemaker readings, certain diets, struggles, issues and pain.. I was preparing for that. What I didn’t tell anyone was that I was scared to death of it. Part of me knew that if he died, he would be well, healed, whole and fine. Part of my momma’s heart just longed for him to “be ok”. I always knew that no matter how long we had Noah we would be all in, advocating, fighting for, learning, growing with and taking care of every part of his journey. We knew we were in it for the long haul.

Then he died.

I wasn’t a heart mom, a boy mom or the mom of 2 anymore. I was still a mom. But, I was now a grieving mom. Now, I know we all know I was still a mom of two and still a boy mom and will always be a heart mom.. I get that, but in those first moments after he died, those first few weeks especially, part of my identity had completely changed. I was now the mom of a deceased infant. I had to sign papers I didn’t want to ever sign. I had to pick out a grave marker. I had to live life without an actual part of me. For 5 years I have been learning how to be a mother of a child who I do not have. Lonely years.

 

Losing a child has changed my mothering, obviously, for many reasons. I have learned that I am more capable do anything, at all, than I ever thought I was. I have discovered that I can be brave, I can have courage and I can endure. I learned that the lonely moments in life can either make us bitter or make us better.

You know we are never actually alone. Cliche? Perhaps. Truth. Absolutely.

The mother I will never be is not “boy mom” or “mom of 3” or “heart mom”

The mother I will never be is this:

perfect.

There will be moments in this journey that I will again, feel really alone. I will endure pain, hardship and strife in mothering. I will walk through fear, nerves, struggle and sleepless nights. I will mess up, not pay attention, even hurt my kids. I will never be perfect, though.

I will never be the mother who always gets it right.

and that’s ok.

The mother I will never be, I’ve realized, is defining and making me into

The Mother I want to be.

I have so much to grow into and learn. I struggle, honestly, with a lot of anxiety in my mothering. Perhaps some of that comes from the trauma of losing a child. I’m not sure. I deal with levels of anxiety and depressive seasons, I tend to be irrationally impatient sometimes and have to backtrack and ask forgiveness of my girls, a lot. I can be absent minded and rushed. I can be lazy and forgetful. I desire to pray more and be more intentional about my prayers for my girls. I wish I had taken better care of myself so that I have more energy to give them now instead of having to continually keep trying in that area to get better, but none the less I know they are seeing progress. I wish I was a lot of things, but finally I am learning that The Mother I will never be is part of the Mother that I am. The Mother that I am is leaning on the ultimate I Am and I pray that makes all the difference.

I can’t really understand Boy Mom life and the struggle that is 3 kids (apparently its the hardest number of kids to have) I have been known to say that God knew I couldn’t handle three. haha.

Here’s the deal: Just be the mom you are. Don’t settle and don’t give up. Keep up the hard work, keep digging in, keep pressing on. Don’t wish you were someone else.

God picked you for the kids he gave you.

I think it is extremely beautiful to see how God hand picks children for mothers. Whether through the womb or at the end of an entirely too large a pile of paperwork…they are yours, your precious kids.  Perhaps you are stewarding God’s children in your home, as you foster. Daily, teachers not only teach children, but many times they are mothering them. There are women who are not married and do not have children, but they are loving the children in their community, their church, their small group, their families. There are aunts who can’t compare. As women, God has given us a heart to love. Love well those children in your life, biologically yours or not.

To the single woman dreaming of her family for someday, don’t quit dreaming. Don’t quit desiring. Don’t quit loving those around you currently. To the woman who is so very lonely in the infertility journey, you are seen and loved and the lonely days, weeks, months and years will not be in vain. They are worthy of all the heart and tears and pain you endure because redemption is coming. To the mommas who never even got to know their little one. That life, that precious little life is not lost or just a vapor. They are God’s grace to us, reminders of the intimacy and intricacy of the secret place.

Let us not dwell on the mothers we will never be. May we dwell on the daughters of God that we know we are and may we rest in that.

I will never be many things… but I will always be, fully seen, fully known and fully loved.

Lonely moments, but never alone.

Can I encourage those of you, who may have to walk this life without your mother here on earth, to continue her legacy, celebrate the ways she loved, the ways she gave, the ways she made you better? Miss her fiercely and grieve the loss, but live abundantly and richly in her honor. Share her with the world. Make this world better because she was yours. I celebrate them today as well.

To the Mother I will never be… I refuse to let you hinder me from being The Mother I am called to be!

Love,

Shaina

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Dear MiMi

Hello. I’m sitting here, the rest of the family is asleep. I’m watching old reruns of Murder She Wrote and thinking about you. I miss you. Recently I’ve found myself wishing I could ask you questions about pizza dough and day-planners. I wish I could hear about all the happenings with your Sunday School class, the Beth Moore study you’re doing and what social event you’re helping plan at the Village Retirement apts. I wish I was helping you make fried chicken and 7-grain rolls on a Friday night before we all play skip-bo and eat pecan pie. I would enjoy drinking coffee with you now days. You always waited to eat dessert until an hour or so after dinner. You always went to bed with a clean kitchen. You had a post-it note in your day-planner to remind you to water the plants. You were frugal. You made homemade bread. You washed and cut up your produce as soon as you got home from the grocery store. You ate slowly. You enjoyed travel. You loved your friends. You savored moments. You loved to read, teach, mentor. You were concerned with health/wellness. You exercised. You loved hymns. You loved the Lord. You were organized. You had a place for everything. You saved tin foil and you washed ziploc bags to reuse. You knew a lot of things. You did not graduate from college, but you found yourself retiring from a Vice President position in the local bank. You were on committees and Chamber of Commerce boards. You were community minded and proud of your little town. You loved your husband well. You loved your girls and their husbands. You loved your grandchildren. You loved your church. You loved Jesus.

Mother’s Day comes soon and instead of struggling as much with missing Noah, I am finding myself wishing I had you here. I just miss you. I know we all do. I think of the ways you would do things and I smile.

The other day I was making pizza dough for the girls and I to make pizza. I still have your old pizza oven and we get it out here and there to make your pizza. The yeast I had on hand had “expired”, but I used it anyway. I wanted to ask you if you thought it would work. I realized after I thought about it, that you would have probably just told me to try it and see. So I did and it rose. It was great! 🙂

You worked diligently and the way you treated people was one of the main reasons you excelled at your work. You were career minded, but your heart was still in the home. Somehow you did it all and made it look easy.

I think about the last time we got to visit. You told me that “it will be ok”. And it is. It really is. All is ok. I suppose you know that better than I do.

I remember all the details of Christmas, Thanksgiving, even just regular ol Friday night dinners. You poured your heart into it all. You were patient with me and even though you didn’t show a lot of emotion, you were honest. You prayed for me, I know you did. You supported me. You loved me. You are why my girls’ Mimi is so good at being a Mimi.

You are missed. But, I know you would not want me to mope. I guarantee you would want me to pay it forward, be involved, do my best, serve, cook a home cooked meal and enjoy the bread. But, make sure there are leafy greens on the plate too. You would want me to savor, slow down and read a good book. You would remind me it will be ok. But, only because God makes it so. You were sharing the gospel with anyone who had ears. 🙂

This Mother’s Day I want to find ways to celebrate you. So, I will be the committed friend, I will pay attention to details, I will water my plants (one of which is yours and I’ve kept it alive, miraculously), I might even make 7 grain rolls and pecan pie. Whatever I find to do, I will savor it. I will appreciate it. I will share. I will make the places I find myself, better. I will be sure those around me know that life is worth living all because He lives.

I truly believe you were finding the heart long before hashtags and silly blogs. You were finding the heart of it all and living it right before my eyes. Thanks for loving us so well, Mimi. Thanks for living life and enjoying it so fully. Thanks for noticing. Thanks for savoring.

Thank you for #findingtheheart

Hug my boy for me. Tell him all about me please. Give PawPaw my love and thanks. Give Travis a hard time for me. I love you!

Shaina

Fix It Jesus…

“Fix it Jesus”

I bet we’ve all said it before. I know that there are some things that just don’t need to be a thing…(these are totally my personal list. Do not be offended by these. They are not personal to anyone. These are simply things I think don’t need to be a thing.

-olives.
-lower back tattoos
-wind
-sweet tea
-crop tops
-pranks
-those videos of people popping zits or picking scabs
-having to work so hard to lose weight

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Can we all just agree that the zit videos have to go?

We all have things in our life that we just can’t deal with. We don’t want to deal with. Things that are disturbing, frustrating, gross, etc. This saying has become quite popular in recent times and I caught myself saying it the night before last as my oldest daughter was dealing with a tummy bug. She had puked a couple of times and then continued to be ill in the other way for hours. I laid there after she had settled back in on the couch and just prayed, “fix it Jesus”. I didn’t have to explain myself to the Lord. He knew I was praying that my girl would wrap up the tummy bug quickly and get back to herself. Just “fix it Jesus”.

There are things we deal with or struggle with that we just don’t have the energy to unload all the details, we just need(want) Jesus to fix it.

Here’s the deal. That statement is a bit vague and slightly silly. I wasn’t walking around Cook Children’s Medical Center praying “fix it Jesus”… as I walked through the last day of Noah’s life I wasn’t praying those words like that, in that kind of flippant humor… I was truly begging God for another way, for him to come in and save the day, make it right, heal and make it ok. I get that there are things in our life that are serious, hard and dark. We truly want and need him to fix it and we mean it.

5 years later I can step back and see exactly where he did come in and save the day. He ushered Noah from life, to more life. He made a way and even though it wasn’t my first choice, I can see how he did, indeed, fix it.

So at 3 am the other morning I was laying there, kind of laughing, but truly asking Jesus to “fix it”, for my girl. I knew it would have to run it’s course, but as I was in this dialogue with God I realized…

He fixes it. Here’s the deal…

We have to fix our eyes.

Hebrews 12:1-13

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [a]fixing our eyes on Jesus, the [b]author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary [c]and lose heart.

A Father’s Discipline

You have not yet resisted [d]to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had [e]earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of [f]spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

12 Therefore, [g]strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

 

So we’ve been potty training Ana for few weeks and her biggest hang up seems to be her taking off and putting back on her panties/pants. She just cries and whines and begs us to do it for her. At home, we are really trying to work with her on this (obviously in public you just get to a bathroom and help her as quickly as you can, am I right?! ). So when she begins to whine and beg us to help her with them, we gently (sometimes not so gently) remind her that she can do it, she knows how, and she needs to TRY. She gets so frustrated, but once she has accomplished it, she is so happy with herself and she immediately perks up and is fine.

Sometimes I feel like I am that way with God and things that are in my life that I struggle with, fight him on, etc. I’m whining out “fix it Jesus”…
fix my weight
fix my bad habits
fix my job
fix that person
fix that church
fix fix fix
etc.
etc.
etc.

Am I right? Fix. It. Jesus. But, what if, in all of his wisdom, Jesus is telling us, “I’ve given you what you need, you do it”. When we tell Ana that she is capable of pulling up her own underpants and shorts…we’re not trying to be mean, bully her or taunt her..we aren’t failing her because we don’t pull them up for her every time. We love her and we are training her because we don’t want her going to kindergarten needing help pulling up her pants. Right?

I understand that there are things, heavy things, that Jesus doesn’t “fix” in the way we think he should. There are things he certainly fixes and we are glad for it. There are also things in our life, that maybe, just maybe, he is disciplining us to “fix our eyes”.

We cry out, fix it Jesus, and he’s saying, fix your eyes.

Fix our eyes on Jesus. We won’t always get the easy fix, the easy way out, the simple answer or the comfortable situation. We may be called to endure. He might be telling us as a daddy, “you are capable.” “you are able” “you are equipped” He is not ignoring us, avoiding us, not answering us. He is disciplining us. As any loving father would. He knows what is best for us, he knows that struggle, hardship, discipline, long suffering is for OUR GOOD. IT IS THE FIX. The discipline we receive, brings life. Learning, growing, and pushing through can be his answer to our “fix it Jesus” moments.

We don’t like it, though. It’s hard. But what if, perhaps, some of these instances in our life bring about the opportunity to press in and be disciplined by our loving Father?

When we realize that when we fix our eyes on Christ, that is the fix. That is the answer. When we fix our eyes on him, we find the answer to every problem, the solution to every circumstance, and we find LIFE. vs 11 “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Righteousness and peace.

May you find Him…not just get the end result you’re wanting… because having Him is far more than having stuff he can provide. The process of seeking him, finding him and knowing him is the journey, it is a process, but it is worth it. It will always be worth it.

When we fix our eyes, we’re eyeing the fix.

#findingtheheart is realizing that his discipline for us, is his good for us. It is his love.

Shaina

A #changeofheart

pexels-photo-568027.jpegHello, friends.

This place of creativity, writing and sharing can be a lovely addition to my life and it can be a thing that I add to my “things I’m failing at” list. In other words, it has been too long since I communicated with you all…

Do you ever feel like that about all of the things in your life?

Brutal honesty here?
Lately, I’ve felt as though I am roughing it or down right failing at most things in my life.
In no particular order…
mothering
health
my job
my ministry
focusing
routine keeping
my housekeeping skills
got behind in my Bible reading
not communicating well to any of my friends(the ones I have, probably because I can’t communicate well, I’m guessing)
did I say mothering?
because of all the above mentioned items, I then feel as though I am not wife-ing very well either because he gets the brunt of it all. He tends to carry me through the ugly parts of when I am strung out, disorganized, overwhelmed and struggling.

So, basically, I’m a hot mess with tons of ideas and goals and desires and not one ounce of “get er done”….or more accurately, I cannot even keep the basics in order, so how could I attempt to work towards bigger things. How can I think about my big goals, if I can’t even keep a meal plan together or not snap at my kids once a day (or more, because truth)… my mind wanders, I get frustrated too easily, no patience, low energy, feeling heavy hearted and heavy laden. My brain is in a fog and even though I have things I want to work at and move towards, they seem too far away to try anymore…is God even there and are the things I’m wading through even worth the fight?

Question is: how do we pull ourselves out from this mess? Is there anything worth gleaning from the mess? Do we give up and just live in the mess?

Well, from past experience: There are plenty of things worth learning and living in the mess is possible, but not a great idea. And how do we pull ourselves out of it??

……

You tell me.

I do have some ideas/thoughts on the matter though. As I said, “from experience” means that this has happened before. It happens more often than I wish to admit, but isn’t it freeing to know that someone else gets it? Does it help to have someone reaching their hand down into the pit of the craziness and say, “come on up, you can’t stay down in that forever..”

Here are some things I have to remind myself of when sitting in the middle of the mess…

  1. This will pass. This mess won’t last forever. The craziness, the mess all over the house, the crazy schedule, the 2 yr old’s tantrums (although, Lord knows we think they are going to graduate high school throwing a grand fit), the 7 yr olds CONSTANT STREAM OF TALKING AND QUESTIONS, (which by the way I will miss, I know I will), the month’s menses (because Lord knows that has a lot to do with our crazy, I see you husbands out there nodding), health and wellness is an EVERY DAY JOURNEY that if you’ struggle with it, you will always need to be aware and probably struggle in it. (struggle doesn’t have to be considered bad, either, I mean it in terms of, just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it is not worth it) Make sense? All of that to say, not everything will always be this hard. Things aren’t always a mess. Seasons, people. This too, shall pass.
  2. New mercies. I tend to think that that statement gets overused and less understood every time I use it. “oh, thank goodness for new mercies” and then I go complain and whine under my breath about the situation I just exclaimed new mercies about… *face palm* But, it is the truth. Our God is a God of grace and we don’t get it right all the time. He is gentle to love us through our wandering. We must extend love-heart-hand-romantic.jpggrace to ourselves and others. Mercy is something I don’t always understand, but the older I get, the more life I experience and the more I learn in parenting, the more I am so very thankful for it.
  3. Small steps. What small thing can I change? You don’t have to change everything overnight. I have crashed and burned when I think I need to eat better, exercise, be a better mom, get more sleep, take my vitamins, have a clean home, be caught up on all reading, projects,etc… in one day… instant fail. We can’t change every single thing overnight. A great podcast I listened to recently is from The Lazy Genius Collective. She is so good about simplifying some really great stuff. Her theory is being a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t. I love that. Check her out on Itunes Podcasts… her website has all the links. I really enjoyed the latest one about morning routines. Such wisdom and great advice for anyone struggling with any routine, (she’s going through more through the month), but just start somewhere. Start with a small step daily and then grow from there. We can’t change everything in one day. We just cannot. We are not meant for that. Just start.
  4. Get alone. I know that there are people in my world who might disagree with me on this, because they are more extrovert than introvert. But, in my world, I have to get alone for a long enough amount of time to clear my head, not even listen to music or podcasts (as much as I enjoy them), just silence. I need “white space” so to speak as I figure things out. Prayer, quiet and clean slate. I can hear my thoughts, hear my needs and really get to the bottom of issues that are maybe the whole reason for the rest of the struggles. In years past I would have gone to every friend or person I could to “unload” or “process” my issues, trying to figure out what to do and “vent to them about it all. Those days are behind me, and I still have some trusted people in my life that help navigate and walk through seasons of crazy and struggle. But, I have found just finding some (making time for) some true quiet and alone time can really do the trick.
  5. Make prayer a priority. This is the one I still have to work on. It goes hand in hand with the previous point, but it is so vital to our health in every season. Make it a practice, find ways to incorporate it into every aspect of your life. I find that journaling my prayers is helpful in my focusing, but in the car or shower or other places I find myself I can use it to pray as well. It doesn’t have to be a process or big deal. Communicate with the Father. It makes all the difference.
  6. Eat Right. Ok, so this is where the blog post starts to preach straight to me. I will pexels-photo-406152.jpegalways be on a journey of health and wellness as this is a big struggle for me. So I know how to say this makes a difference and not actually do it. I know what it is like to feel amazing and how it feels to be sluggish and depressed in a cloud of sugar and “comfort food”. Eating healthy has so many more benefits than just a weight issue. Currently reading It Starts With Food, by Melissa Hartwig and it really does break down the science of eating clean/whole foods and why our bodies crave it and need it. Along with how our bodies are affected by all the junk. This is a constant battle and learning place for me. So know you are not alone. Writing it, being transparent about it and letting others know is helping me to refocus and gain a grip again!
  7. Get Rest. I know I know. I’m saying all the things you already know, but don’t think are possible in your life. I get it. I have had to put my phone across the room at night so I don’t scroll or play games before sleep. I have had to really push myself to remember that sleep is so very important. I know with littles, because I have a couple, that sleep can be something we don’t get to experience much of. In time, it just happens again, but I’m finding that it’s hard for me to get sleep when I am trying to enjoy alone time as well…the only time I can, which is when they are asleep. haha. It’s a crazy cycle. Sleep really is healing and I know if we can get in a routine of getting more of it, we will all benefit.
  8. Tack habits/consult a physician. This one can get tricky, but I am finding that tracking habits/month to month, tracking symptoms, triggers and other components of struggle, depression, cycles of crazy, meltdowns, etc can be so helpful in finding common occurrences or reasons for such issues and then it is easier to approach your doctor or therapist and figure out some treatments. Not all crazy cycles need physician attention, but some may. You’ll most likely know and probably push the notion away, but let me tell you, reaching out to professionals for some help is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Finding that support can be the grace you’ve been praying for.pexels-photo-583846.jpeg
  9. Write down all the things. For me, this helps. When I write stuff out I get it out of my head. When I write it all down, I can start to filter through the important and the not so important. I can write down goals, needs, feelings, frustrations and thanksgiving as well. Don’t be afraid to have messy, scratchy lists, scribbles and random paragraphs of nonsense. Just let it all out. That journal or spiral notebook is a safe place. No matter the content, it is best to get it out, instead of keeping it in.

I could keep going. I really could. There are so many things I have found that help me in this and I want to share them all. For now, I’ll leave with one more things to make it an even 10.

10. Be Honest. Sometimes I even fool myself thinking that I can just keep going, that nothing is wrong and that it will all just magically get better. When I am honest with myself and Nick, as well as co-workers, even my children, I find freedom. I find support. I find lots of grace and love. Honesty is the fertile ground for freedom. There doesn’t have to be shame and in Christ there is no condemnation. We can be honest, broken and real and find grace, mercy and freedom. If we cannot find it in ourselves to just be honest about our struggles, our strengths, our failures and our successes, then we will just constantly be alone, hiding behind masks and pretending its all ok when we may actually be dying inside. Reach out, be honest and when others reach to you , extend grace and be a soft place to land. Let’s not assume people know we are struggling either. Don’t assume they know and don’t accuse them of not caring if you haven’t said anything. *side note*sunglasses-woman-girl-faceless.jpg

Hot mess, crazy weeks *sometimes months* happen and we don’t have to let them ruin us. We can use them as an opportunity to grow, to learn more about ourselves, each other and just how much God wants to guide us through it all. He wants to love us through our every struggle and every battle.

Romans 5:3-5 
“but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This HOPE will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Romans 12:2 
“do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.”

Ephesians 1:18
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of HIS strength.” 

He wants to show us the heart. His heart. He wants to change our heart.

To heal it, to teach it, to mold and shape it. The seasons when we feel most vulnerable are so often the exact times he is wanting us to pay better attention, to focus in on him and his heart for us. He is for us. His heart is for us. A healthy heart allows all the other systems in the body to function properly; emotionally and physically.

There is so much more to #findingtheheart than just seeing pretty hearts all over. Finding the heart is a daily exercise in seeing His heart and letting His heart heal our own. I hope you join me on this journey.pexels-photo-424517.jpeg

In Him,

Shaina