Monday, October 30, 2017

Ghost Stories

It's in the small things where I find the most joy.  This evening when I got home I noticed a flashlight bouncing around on the ceiling of Macy's bedroom.  She is always my night owl so it didn't surprise me.  As I made my way up the stairs I heard not just Macy's sweet voice but also John's.  I opened the door and I saw the flashlight under Johnny's chin as he told a "spooky" story to his very happy big eyed sister.  The joy in their faces was priceless.  I had the get a quick video because this boy of ours is pretty animated and also very captivating if I do say so myself.



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Church of the Small Things

First, let it be noted that I was officially {one of the few} that Melanie Shankle chose to be on her book launch team.  And when I say few, I actually mean there were a lot of us but that is beside the point.  And yes, I am bragging and I don't even feel bad about it.  I received the book early like I was someone important.  It came directly to my house.  I was included on a Facebook group that Melanie herself posted in several times and even shared a video in and I got some very coveted freebies.  I feel famous y'all.  But enough about me, let's get on with this book review because I am obsessed.  






I was able to read the book before the October release date and I can say without a single doubt you will want to read this book if you have not already.  It gives you perspective and it allows you to rest in your normal, everyday and feel like you have purpose.  It is one of the most powerful books I have read that was actually able to shift my current paradigm from always doing more or being more to being who God created me to be right where I am.  It reminded me that my holy moments, my significant moments, may be right smack dab in the middle of my messy and mundane life and they matter regardless of how big or small the world thinks they are.

"A life isn't made from one thing, one big moment, or one huge success.  It's created moment by moment, often with pieces that don't look like anything beautiful on their own, but are the very fabric of who God meant for us to become as we pack lunches, raise kids, love our neighbors, and simply be who he created us to be; nothing more, nothing less."  

My husband and I have lived through the tragedy of losing our baby and it changed our family forever.  Our little boy Charlie died from a genetic disorder 17 days after he was born.  The small things that others have done since then are pieces of my story that make me believe in the truth that small things are actually big things.  This quote above is so profound when you are on the receiving end of "the small things."

As I look at these words from my perspective, as a person that has been impacted daily by small, simple acts of love and kindness I am in awe of God's goodness.  I have been going back over the past three years in my mind and I'm realizing how important it is that we all believe every little thing we do is part of the beautiful stained glass picture that God is perfecting little by little in our lives.  We need to know being the hands and feet of Jesus is something we can do every single day.  When we think we have to do something BIG to be impactful we miss the million little things that impact others on a daily basis.  We miss that piece of red glass that finishes the stained glass heart in the middle of us all.

No automatic alt text available.I have been changed for the better by kind words, a smile, a simple nod, a hug, and most importantly people that I love just showing up for me over and over again.  If those family members, friends, colleagues or neighbors thought they needed to be more or do something bigger I may or may not have had them walk with me through my broken, but beautiful journey.  They may or may not have thought they had time to send us a card in the mail or take our dog to the groomer.  They may or may not have sent the text that changed the course of my day or looked me in the eye and said with empathy, "I am here and I'm not going anywhere."  They may not have mowed our grass or reminded me of upcoming obligations when I was unable to focus in the midst of that season.  They changed me.  All the small and seemingly "unimportant" things were in fact the most important.

As I read more of the book I realized that we all go through these seasons.  We all have tragedy rock our world.  Big or small it's there and big or small we can continue to walk hand in hand through those moments with one another and be who God created us to be for those people that need us; nothing more and nothing less.  Melanie shared a story about her dear friend Jen who passed away in her sleep on August 9, 2016 after a long battle with cancer and their mutual friend Jamie.

"It's what Jamie has done that stands out to me.  There are no grand gestures, just an almost daily faithfulness...Jamie sacrificed her time and her own agenda to serve Jen with a million small kindnesses that aren't glamorous, but scream love and devotion in a big way.  It's been a reminder that the best thing we can do when someone we love is hurting is show up.  Most times there are no right words, no one thing that will make it all better, and nothing we can actually do to change the circumstances.  But we can be the beige wall holding up the neon poster.  And make all the difference simply by being there."

And now as I move forward I am able to be completely transparent in hopes of encouraging others towards courage and bravery.  The parts of my day that seem insignificant to me or feel like I am just barely hanging on with this oversized bag called grief dragging me down may actually be significant to someone else, proof that they can do it too.  I want to say I am not doing anything special but according to this new paradigm shift, I actually am doing something very special and very profound in God's kingdom.   I am in a place where I can impact others.  I can carry my grief with honesty and grace and I can be kind for others in their own big and small, happy or sad moments.

So if you want to read a book that will encourage the best in you, even in the small moments, buy this book.  If you want to laugh and cry and fall in love with my favorite author, buy this book.  If you need a paradigm shift, an opportunity to love the season you are in and the person that you were created to be, buy this book.  If you want to go to church and find Jesus in the small things, buy this book!  It will help you realize how valuable you are and how beautiful the church of the small things really is in our everyday lives.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Impact

This evening in grief group we shared pictures of the people we lost, those people that were stripped out of our grip, sometimes without warning and sometimes more slowly.  And it doesn't matter whether it happened quickly or painfully slow, those people that were taken from this earth are the some of the most treasured people in our lives.

Once we gathered the courage to hold the picture up in front of us, to share a vulnerable piece of our heart, we told everyone a brief story and then one or two words that described our loved one.  Every single person in that room tonight remembered something positive.  Every single person in the room this evening remembered the positive way their lost loved one impacted their life.   

Some of the words that were used to describe the people that left their mark on our hearts were brave, kind, full of life, joy filled, helpful, compassionate, sincere, loving, loyal...I wish I could remember every word.  I wish I had taken notes because I need to keep this evening and this moment in the front of my mind.  I need to keep this lesson close because I want the words used to describe me when I am gone, to also be kind and loyal.  I want someone to say "She was joyful."  I want people to remember the sincerity and compassion in my heart.  I continue to pray that when I am remembered, once I am gone, the words that come out of my loved ones mouths point others to Jesus.

After all it isn't because I am kind or loyal.  Instead, it is because Jesus was kind and loyal first.  He was the first and most influential teacher.

And it isn't me that is able to be joyful alone but rather the Holy Spirit filling me with joy.

It isn't because of anything I have done that my heart is full of love for others; that is all my Savior.  He gave me a heart for the hurting and he filled me with sincerity and compassion.

Those small moments I am able to let Jesus shine I hope are the most impactful.  For all the other moments I just have to say, Jesus be near, because you give grace upon grace even when my human tendencies keep me from having a positive impact on those around me or doing things in love.  You've got me and you are most strong when I am weak.

Thankful for that truth.       
                        Image result for impact scripture pictures


Monday, October 9, 2017

Perfectly Imperfect

It's a little bit crazy how much anxiety I get when we have family pictures taken.  Every year right around this time we have our pictures taken and every year I turn into a crazy person.  I know what it is, I just don't really want to admit why I feel the way I do.  It is an overwhelming need.  It is something that I have to coordinate and I have to make sure is perfect because I am reminded on a regular basis that we do not have very many pictures of Charlie and I can't let that happen again.  I want to have pictures and I want to have these memories of my babies growing up.  It is really important to me.    

It is amazing though how every single time we get ready to have pictures made I worry over the outfits, the weather, and our moods to name just a few.   And yet somehow we always make it through.

Today was the day we had our family pictures taken.  We had our clothes picked out and I pressed them all.   We had matching shoes.  We were showered and every one's hair was perfect.  We looked like a magazine ad.  Ok, so maybe that is an exaggeration but we looked pretty awesome if I do say so myself.  And then we went outside and the weather grabbed our hair (or maybe just my hair), our seatbelts wrinkled our clothes, and we were a little less than happy as hunger pains and tired feet started knocking on our door.  What I realized in that moment was we are not perfect and we're not supposed to be. However, this is us at this exact moment and our imperfect is actually perfect in my eyes.  I am going to cherish these pictures regardless of how crazy my hair is or how imperfect we all look.  I am going to cherish them as long as I live.        

These two are ready to go get their pictures taken! 

He warms my heart.  He makes me smile. 

She is a mini me and always grabs me tight and makes me smile.  

 
Images by Freepik