A Letter To My Children

Faith

I’m sure you’ll eventually learn this about your mother, but I thought I’d make sure it’s down in writing, just in case you ever needed a reminder. I’m writing only weeks after my thirty fourth birthday, as I’m reflecting on a gathering your dad and I attended recently. This gathering was full of wealthy and influential people, which isn’t an uncommon occurrence within the realm of pastoring or owning a business. This time though, the entire night I noticed such a reoccurring trend of pretentiousness.

This certain attitude used to irritate me to no end. “Who do these people think they are?”, or “Why is it so hard to find real people?” were some of my thoughts.  Eventually, I found myself avoiding contact and being ready to leave.

I’m sure by the time you can read, I will have thoroughly explained this word, but just in case you’re not fully aware of it’s depth, here’s the definition:

pre·ten·tious
attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, exaggerated importance, worth, or stature.
Some synonyms that truly define this as I’ve seen it play out in life:
  • Showy
  • Artificial/fake
  • Inflated
And I’ll add “stuffy”

The thing is, this gathering would have drove me kind of crazy in the past. I would have been planning our escape plan within the first ten minutes. But, the very attitude that used to rub me wrong, is now the attitude that tells me the most about the person. Pretentiousness now acts as red flag; a reminder from the Lord of their need for love.

What I had not realized when I came across this attitude before was that—

The more pretentious the person, the greater the amount of shame hides within.

A person full of shame is believing something is wrong with who they are. Being pretentious is just one of the many ways shame shows itself.

My loves… please be real, authentic, true to yourself, preferring of others, humble and kind. Because, fake-nice faces and halfhearted, disinterested conversations are unbecoming, and obvious to anyone around who has an ounce of discernment.

Be truly interested in what others have to say, not asking questions you don’t truly care to know the answers to.

True honor comes from being humble.

God resists you when you are proud but continually pours out grace when you are humble.”
James 4:6  (TPT)

I pray that as you grow, you become so aware of just how loved and valued you are by the Father, that shame never stands a chance.

I pray you grow to know your worth, value, and your true identity as His beloved child.

It is only in knowing and being known by your Father that you are able to live life never needing to measure up, look, or act any way other than who you were created to be.

Only then will you be able to live without barriers that prevent you from truly connecting with those who are not just like you.

If by chance, you have seasons or moments when you forget His goodness, I pray you find yourself surrounded by the kind of people who will remind you. The kind of people who only accept depth and truth, over pretention.

And last, I want you to know that you will always come across pretentiousness on all different levels from others. Always remember, every single person is loved deeply by the Father and we are called to love them just the same.

Coffee Waves Port Aransas Restored

Coffee Waves, Design

In March of 2010, almost eight years ago, Coffee Waves Port Aransas opened for business. My husband David, who I had just started dating then, designed the shop. Coffee Waves truly holds such special memories for locals, winter texans, spring breakers, and vacationers.

We were devastated when Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc on Port Aransas. For more on our initial thoughts and journey towards overcoming, check out a previous post called “Unified Front: Hurricane Harvey Update“.

“Sadly, our coffee shop in Port Aransas is a total loss. The front door was knocked down by a wall of seaweed & trash. At least 3 feet of heavy flooding came in the shop, not to mention all the wind and rain. Please pray for my family, and the employees that will be without work for quite some time.” -David Bendett

After the shock and heartbreak, we went hard into clean up and rebuild.  We had our two littles come see the the damage and the rebuild process. They may not remember, but now we have photos to show them as we tell the story years from now.

With help from amazing volunteers, our favorite contractor, and a very supportive landlord, we were able to remodel and open for business four months later! The great thing about remodeling is that we got to make all of the changes we had longed to make over the years! Here are just a few of the changes-

  • Expanded kitchen
  • Improved bar layout
  • Office space
  • Increased seating options

I had so much fun designing this shop! The goal was to brighten and open up the space. White shiplap and tile, grey walls, and lots of plants made that happen!

For a pop of color we added a bright and fun chalkboard mural. The bench seating below the bar really helps us maximize seating in those busy summer months. I’d say the hanging plant rack is up there in my favorites along with the cement bar and chalk wall.  The shop is back and more beautiful than ever. That’s just how good our God is!

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The quote on the wall is something I came up with and something I believe down deep. I pray it brings hope to all who come in our shop.

And last, I want to say THANK YOU so much for all of the love and support! We are so excited to see Port Aransas restored to even more beauty than ever before!

May our shop serve as a place of peace, rest, and normalcy amidst the recovery process in Port Aransas.

 

Everything does not happen for a reason.

Faith

I joke often about the fact that I I feel like I have a case of childhood amnesia. I swear I draw a blank for most of the things that took place in my life as a child. But, there are random times that I do remember, and those things remain so clear and detailed in my mind. When I think about this particular moment, I am in awe of the detail the Lord includes and allows us to remember within the story He writes of our lives. The story He is writing even when we have no clue that He is.

In middle school English class I wrote in a poem,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

I stood at my teacher’s desk as she read my question outload, and responded with, “well, wouldn’t we all like to know the answer to that!”.

Reflecting back, I realize what depth that question carried, and what truth her answer revealed. The question I asked in middle school still stands as one of the most commonly asked questions people struggle with regarding faith in God.

The thing is, the closest we can get to having an answer to this question is–Once sin entered the world, so did free will. The fact that people have choices AND that there is a very real enemy working against us, with one sole mission to kill, steal, and destroy are the truths that bring us closest to a clear “why”.

Instead of focusing on the unknown, I prefer to focus on what I know to be true. The Bible is full of promises we can stand on. It’s also full of stories that reveal the true nature of our God.

Too often, instead of building relationship and trust in our Father, we try to answer or justify the unknowns within life by saying things like, “Everything happens for a reason”.  But the thing is, it only takes one tragic event in one’s life before that statement seems kind of cruel. The intention behind it is to bring comfort or resolve to a circumstance, but given the right circumstance such as premature death, sickness, harm done to innocent children, and that saying just doesn’t mesh well.

We might as well classify our Father as an abusive, controlling type if we believe He would cause or allow tragedy and pain to happen to us for any reason.

But, here’s the good news! We do have answers! We do serve a God with a solid track record of making wrong things right. This is where our hope lies.

Once we really start learning the true nature of our Father, we are instead overwhelmed by His love for us. We learn that–

He grieves and weeps with us.

He is closest to the broken hearted.

He is our help in our time of trouble.

And one of my all-time favorite character traits of His is–

He is always working on our behalf to fix the wrong and make it right again.

He trades beauty for ashes.

In the last year or so, my family has experienced such pain, tragedy, and hardship.

I know what it’s like to be standing in ashes.

But, I also know that there’s no story that ends like that, IF we rely and put our faith and trust in Him.

For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise!
Wrapping himself around me like a shield,  he is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along his paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for he provides it all.   Psalm 84:11 (PTT)

We can rest assured that in our time of trouble, when the pain is so unbearable, He is writing a beautiful story. On the other side of the pain is the healing, mending, breakthrough, and beauty. Within my own story, I am already starting to see how the Lord is turning my tragedy into purpose.

The bible says that we can expect the Lord to redeem and restore. This means we can rest in the promises that the Lord is working on our behalf to give us a FULL, COMPLETE AND PERFECT COMPENSATION–Even more than double for our trouble. I believe it, I expect it, and I am already seeing it take place in my own life.

While we may not have all the answers for why bad things happen, we know they did not happen for any good reason. Even in the bad, we can find purpose instead of reason. The purpose is part of the beauty that the Lord forms from the ashes.

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!

Romans 15:13 (TPT)

The Power In Wearing Tennis Shoes

lifestyle

Shortly after having our second child, 18 months after having our first child, I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office with tears in my eyes. I was there for a basic yearly physical, but I knew something needed to change in my life.  I was feeling overly emotional, depressed and drained, but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was wrong with me.  As my doctor asked me how I was feeling physically, I answered— “I’m an emotional mess and I have no idea why. I feel sad often and I have no energy or desire to do much of anything.”

Looking back, what’s awesome about this doctor is that he wasn’t quick to prescribe antidepressants, instead, we talked about options. We talked about the reality of the situation…I was tired because I had two babies under two and I needed more sleep. I was hormonal because that’s what comes with birthing babies. I was on a low because of these two factors, as well as postpartum baby blues.

His next question would take me by surprise and humor me,

“Do you exercise?”

“Ok, did this man not just hear my situation? I’m sleep deprived. Why in the world is he asking me this insane question?”, I thought.

Thankfully, I kept my immediate thoughts unspoken. He continued to tell me some of the benefits that come with exercising just 30 minutes a day. I eventually found more benefits to add to the list–

The next morning I dreadfully put on my tennis shoes, placed my two littles in a double stroller and went for a walk outside. Over time, that walk turned into a partial walk and partial run. I then started to look for ways I could jog alone as my “me time”, and to my surprise, I did begin to improve over time.

Let me also say that I am by no means that girl who is on the anti-medication trail. I believe medication is completely necessary for some and there’s absolutely no shame in that. For me, thankfully, exercise was and still is the medicine that keeps me healthy. To this day, if I get out of the habit of exercise, the struggle begins.

In some of the darkest seasons of life, it wasn’t soley the scripture I memorized and quoted, it wasn’t the diet restrictions I stuck with that helped me overcome. It was and still is when I add to that by putting my tennis shoes on and forcing myself to be active.

I love to run, but I don’t just run, I listen to worship, I’m alone with my thoughts, I listen and talk to God, and mainly— I regain God’s perspective instead of being consumed by the immediate.

This time of year, most of us have a renewed sense of inspiration to modify our lifestyle to bring about a sense of fulfillment–to live as we are designed to by the Father above.

The things is, being completely healthy includes both physical and spiritual aspects.

I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

3 John 1:2

In this scripture, John is praying that Gaius’ physical health would match his spiritual health. Our God is concerned for both our physical health and our spiritual well being, otherwise I don’t think John would have prayed this prayer for Gaius.

Our overall health is important to the Lord.

Being the list maker that I am, I tend to make long lists for everything, and there’s no exception when it comes to the lifestyle changes I’d like to make within the following year.  Over time though, I realized that if I made exercise the priority on my list, then the energy and motivation to accomplish the goals on the rest of the list came naturally.

Consider adding “wear tennis shoes more often” to the top of the list for next year. Maybe, just maybe, once you’re wearing them you may feel more inspired to do something active in them. And maybe after being active, the other goals on the list end up getting checked off in the process.

 

 

 

The Journey of Grace

Counting Graces

Guys! It’s been a minute since I last wrote a blog, but there are some exciting things I thought I’d tell you guys about!

First, this entire public speaking thing is becoming a norm I suppose. This introvert is actually enjoying it too! That in itself is a miracle since speaking or teaching publicly was never a desire of mine. It does require lots of time to study and pray, because, well, it’s the teacher in me. Also, I take opportunities to teach seriously and I’d rather be over prepared than under. So, recently Ive taught at Mom’s group, Women’s group, Leader’s meetings, Wednesday nights, Sunday morning and the most fun yet…co-teaching with my favorite guy 🙂

Next, I wrote a children’s book! Now the illustration part is happening and I cannot wait to share it with everyone. It’s my heart in a book. It’s my love for writing, creating, sharing Jesus, and inspiring others all within a book. It’s a story of how the Lord redeems all that is lost. It’s inspired by and in honor of my sweet Eden. It’s called “Beauty for Ashes”.

And then there’s the Coffee Waves rebuild. I’ve been working on the remodel and new design of the Port Aransas shop that got hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. Also, I got to come up with a new design for our vending trailer which we opened for business weeks ago right in front of the shop! I happen to think it’s super cute. We are hoping to reopen Coffee Waves Port Aransas by the first week of December! Jesus!!

More exciting news!!!

We are gearing up for our big five year anniversary at Rock City Church December 10th! We’re working on some fun things to make that Sunday a super special time! I’m basically already accepting the fact that I’ll be crying so much that morning. God is just so good. We have a huge announcement to make regarding the church that day! I cannot tell you how badly I want to just spill the beans, but, no, I will contain myself..

It’s no coincidence that the number 5 symbolizes God’s grace, goodness and favor towards us. I know grace as empowerment so deeply these days, especially throughout our loss of Eden.  Now, I continue to know grace in so many other areas of my life.

The grace to do, be, become, and enjoy the journey. This journey is messy, kinda crazy, yet so beautiful because I see His hand in it all. Theres such a peace in my heart and mind…His grace will do that if you let it.

Also, my two littles are getting so big! They keep me busy, but gosh they seem to just get more and more fun these days. My baby girl turns 5 years old in less than a month!! How in the world is this even possible? As much as I love a good Pinterest themed party at the house, she has requested to have her party at a bouncy place. I’ll take it! No clean up and less work 🙂

AND It’s also almost Advent time and I’m so ready! It’s my favorite time of year! I’m using my fav wooden ornaments to tell the Christmas story and this year I’m adding the Kids Reads Truth Advent cards too. Can’t wait!

Well, I could go on, but I think thats enough random updates for now. I’d love to hear from you guys! What are you up to these days? What are you excited about? What are some fun things you do with your kiddos for Advent? I look forward to hearing from you. Until then, I pray you have the most peace-filled holiday season 🙂

 

Silver Lining

infant loss

I remember the day just like it was yesterday. It began as a very typical day in the life of motherhood. My children, ages 2 and 3, came to my bed to tell me I needed to wake up, so I yawned, gave them morning kisses, and said, “ok, ok, momma is up.”

I was 32 weeks pregnant with our third child; our baby girl named Eden Grace.

Every pregnancy has its challenges, yet just as my previous pregnancies, I had no major complications, only the typical, joyous labors of love: heartburn, lower back pain, and fatigue. Baby girl and I were perfectly healthy.

IMG_4161IMG_0281adjIMG_4163

Next to my bed was her bassinet, ready for her arrival. I remember looking over at it the night before, as it hit me, as it felt so very real– We would be having our third child in just weeks.  I had my perfectly healthy, 6lb 9oz son at 36 weeks with no complications, so at 32 weeks with my third child, I expected her to arrive on the earlier side. And just in case that happened, her nursery was complete, perfect, and beautiful. Everything was in its place. Now, it was a matter of waiting for her amazing arrival.

We had just had the most beautiful baby shower hosted by some of my dearest friends. The decorations, cake and details were such a labor of love. All of us were so ready to meet this new beautiful baby girl who would complete our family.

As I drove to the doctor’s office, I sipped my warm, one cup of coffee for the day in childfree bliss. I remember thinking to myself, “The baby isn’t very active lately… Usually, coffee makes her kick.” Yet, when I would place my hand on my stomach, I could feel her body as she subtly moved.

As I greeted my doctor, who had delivered both of my children and to whom I am very fond of, she asked me all the typical, standard questions.  “Any spotting? Any concerns?” Honestly, I had no concerns and had never spotted, so I answered “No.” As I lied down to have my stomach measured, I felt the need to mention to her how I hadn’t felt the baby move much. But, I knew that towards the end of pregnancy babies get cozy and don’t seem to move as much, so I wasn’t overly concerned. She told me that we needed to go ahead check on the baby with a sonogram, just to be safe. All along, there was not an ounce of concern.

I then get called back for my sonogram, as the technician checked on the baby, I saw her sweet body on the screen and noticed her lack of movement. I could tell by the look on the technicians face that something wasn’t right. She then told me to wait as she would like to call in my doctor for a closer look.

And then, the dreadful words I can still hear in my mind from time to time…

“I am so sorry, I don’t know how else to tell you this…there is no heartbeat… I am so sorry.”

I remember the heartfelt way in which my sweet doctor told me as tears streamed down her face. I remember the complete shock and surreal feeling as I tried to take in the depth of those words. I was speechless and completely taken back.  I didn’t instantly cry. I tried to process and understand. As she held me and walked me back to the doctor’s office to call my husband for me, my mind raced and my heart began to break in two.  How would my husband take this news? How would I tell my kids?

I could hear him weeping loudly as she broke the news.  I took the phone as we proceeded to cry together, and I told him I needed him near.

When he arrived, we held on to each other as we wept and prayed, and then, gathered ourselves to hear from the doctor regarding the next steps in this process. What was I in for I wondered? As she explained the process, I tried to wrap my mind around it all. I tried to brace myself, yet all I wanted to do was wake up to find out that this was all just a dream. “How could this happen? “There were no signs, not one reason for concern all along.

I heard the dreadful news about our baby girl around 10am Thursday, and then got sent home to wait until we finally got a call from the hospital at 2:30am Friday, letting us know they had a bed ready for us.

All day and night as we waited for that call, I cried out to the Lord, asking Him to be near. I repeatedly told Him, “I need to see you and feel you” “I can’t do this without you”.

All along, fighting fears and thoughts of having to go through labor and wondering if I would be able to bear seeing her face…and praying that the doctor had made a mistake. That night It was as if my body went into shock, my legs tightened up resulting in almost constant Charlie horse in both legs. My throat burned from heartburn and my body shook as I rocked back in forth in bed…The waiting was so very brutal.

We finally got to the hospital 16 hours after first hearing the news… Once I was there I repeatedly told the Lord during the hours of labor,

“I need to see you Jesus, where are you?” 

My husband and I know that the Lord alone is where our help comes from. As we began playing worship music and our prayers filled the hospital room, eventually a supernatural calm and a feeling of warmth and comfort began to fill the room as well.  Jesus’s presence became known.

Then as I saw my friend and nurse, Kaela, who was bent down at the side of my bed worshipping and praying for us, I realized that all along He was there; He was there in Kaela.

She was like the Holy Spirit, ever present, comforting, kind and caring for our every need. 

Despite the presence and comfort of the Lord, this situation was still undeniably hard. The process of forcing my body to deliver a child was not natural. It took various rounds of medication and hours upon hours of waiting.

Yet, after all the medication and waiting, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl. I held her in my arms and took in all her gorgeous features. She was beautifully perfect, with full lips and the same curves as mine, a cute button nose, and a full head of dark, wavy hair.

She was so very beautiful, yet there was this fierce look to her.

That was the first and last time I would ever hold her here on earth as she was already in the arms of Jesus when I met her.

Her beautiful face is an image that stays in my mind always. An image we choose to reserve for our family.

Meeting Eden was bitter sweet…a taste of what could have been, but would never be.

And yet, there were so many more hurdles to cross, even after what seemed unbearable enough. I then needed to leave the hospital and face the reality of what had happened. It was night when I left, which matched my feelings of loss as the darkness overtook me. I felt so weak and drained, I felt as if I was stolen from. As we drove home, and tears filled my already swollen, red eyes, I couldn’t help but compare the feeling of complete loss I currently felt to the overwhelming joy I felt in the times past leaving the hospital with two healthy babies.

The emotions and physical pain did not stop after leaving the hospital. Recovery was an entirely different process than that of post-birth with a healthy baby and a natural birthing experience. I knew what normal felt like.  This time was much different. This time it felt as though a train had hit me. My entire body was so very sore.  I bled heavily for months on end. My breast milk came in sooner than normal, only serving as more of a reminder of what was missing. And then, of course, there is the flab of a stomach remaining.

Next, there were the hospital and doctor bills that still come in because after all, I did deliver a child…I just didn’t get to take her home. Coming home from the hospital was another blunt reality of what had happened…mainly because our home was filled with baby items and her beautiful, finished nursery was there and needed to be taken down.

Going to the follow up appointment in the same office I was told the dreadful news was very hard and emotional. Our first trips out in public were equally excruciating. Meeting other moms with babies or pregnant moms was especially tough. There was an awkward feeling of wishing I could explain the reason I had a post pregnant body and having to be careful not to mention anything regarding my latest pregnancy…The pregnancy that was still so fresh to my mind and body, the pregnancy that was my “normal” for the previous seven months. I knew that mentioning it would only result in questions and the need to tell a story I was not ready to tell.

But, you see, despite what happened, life goes on and it must be lived. Despite the despair, my other children, our church family, my husband, my friends, my dogs, my house, all still need me. And instead of staying hidden away in mourning, I chose to keep going. I chose to get up and keep moving. It’s a choice I made of faith. Because I knew my God wouldn’t leave me hanging, I knew He would carry me and comfort me through the hard times. So, I did my part. I kept going with the expectation that my God would do His part. He did, and He still is. After a while, I wasn’t just “moving” by faith. Instead, I am back to living a life full of passion, hope, joy and peace.

I didn’t get here overnight. I was completely knocked down, yet never completely crushed.

I knew that having hope in Him and thinking on the fact that she was happily with Jesus sure beat being depressed or staying in a place of grief.

You see, my silver lining is thick.

I have Hope–He alone is where my hope comes from.

I love the Lord with every ounce of my being.

I know and hear His voice.

He carries me through hard times.

He holds me when I weep.

We held such a sweet memorial service to honor her life.  We worshipped and shared our stories and our faith in the midst. Those with similar stories of loss found healing. It was miraculous! There were tears, but more than tears there was a celebration of her life and what it represents.

I share my story for many reasons.

I share to spread hope to those who are hurting. There is a great life worth living. There’s nothing wrong with finding something you’re passionate about, being filled with joy, and living life to the fullest again. Honor is not given to those who are gone by living in sadness.

I share because the topic of stillbirth and child loss is not talked about enough and should be.

It’s an uncomfortable subject, but there’s healing in telling one’s story.

I share details and photos so that the depth and pain of my journey become so tangible to others that their level of compassion for those who experience such tragedy is forced to grow.

I share in hopes of shining light on how we can best validate the loss of a child and the pain that each mother goes through.

I believe mothers simply want others to validate their loss for the brutally hard, life altering loss that it is.

Nothing more, nothing less. In the end, a loss is just that…a life that is gone, a part of someone that is now missing and cannot be replaced during our lives on earth.

But most importantly, I share to make it known that His grace is available to us all in our weakest moments.

“My grace (empowerment) is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:19

I literally looked for Jesus in my darkest hour and He came and gave me the supernatural ability to get through this and come out stronger.

You never really know the depth of your need for Christ until Christ is all you have.

Today, I continue to heal, to share, and to grow. I’m stronger than ever, more grateful, more compassionate for hurting people, and ready to continue with the dreams deep in my heart.  My smile remains, and it comes from a place of authentic joy within. Though we walk through fire at times, let us only come out more refined!

Please know that there is no pain too great that the Lord cannot heal. There is no loss or heartache that He cannot handle. After all, think of what He went through on the cross for us.

If anyone can understand our feelings of betrayal, hurt and pain fully, it’s Jesus.

Run to Him, cry to him, talk to Him, ask Him to heal you, to comfort you, and to carry you when you are weak. He can handle messy.

Analyzing, resenting, and questioning the “why?” horrible things happen results in nothing positive. We will never have the answers to all of life’s mysteries until we meet Jesus face to face. Instead I choose to focus on the things I do know to be true. The Bible tells us that we are not guaranteed a life void of trouble or hard times. We are, however, guaranteed a loving God who will see us through and bring us out stronger. Once we are stronger, our story becomes someone else’s healing.

If there’s one thing I am most certain of; God’s story never ends with ashes.

Sweet Eden. You really were a delight to meet. Your legacy will be carried on through your family and the lives changed by your beauty. You will never be forgotten and will always be loved and cherished. Until I hold you again–Momma loves you.

How can we validate the loss of a child?

infant loss

After the loss of my daughter who was born sleeping at 32 weeks, others have asked me what they can do to support their loved ones who experience a similar loss.

My answer is simple; we must validate their loss. Of course, there are the practical ways to support such as meals and childcare. But if you’re asking what helped me emotionally, it was when I felt that my loss was validated.

Here are some ways to validate a loss:

1-Do not try to relate your story of loss with theirs.

When a mother has not asked, others may still tend to share their personal story of loss in an effort to relate or make a mother feel understood. However, this feels more like comparison at times and only leaves the mother feeling less validated; as if their story carries the same feelings and qualities as another.

My loss, my story, and my child cannot be compared to another. No two losses are the same nor is there ever a way to know the depth of pain each person experiences within their loss. My stillborn experience should not be made synonymous with that of a miscarriage, nor of a child loss after years of life.

Each loss deserves to stand alone and not be lumped into a big pile of “loss” in hopes of being relatable.  

Therefore, saying “I can totally relate”, or “I completely understand” really should be avoided. Never trivialize what they went through with your own story. Instead, keep your focus on their loss.

With this point, I am speaking more specifically towards supporting an individual mother experiencing loss and the best ways to support her. I do, however wholeheartedly love and appreciate the awareness of infant loss within the month of October. I do believe by sharing stories and paying tribute we bring awareness to infant loss without it necessarily making our stories lose value. Despite the unique qualities to each story, there are still similarities and a bond that is formed with all who experience the loss of an infant.

2-Don’t shy away or avoid the topic.

Stillbirth or infant loss are not casual, carefree topics of conversation, however, it’s an important part of the grieving process for a mother to talk about her loss. When everyone avoids the uncomfortable and tough topic it can result in a sense of loneliness and isolation for the mother.

Don’t be afraid to ask your loved one if they would like to talk or process their grief with you. They may just want to be heard.

3-Say the child’s name.

It’s best to never refer to the child who died in impersonal ways. Instead, use the name of the child. You may feel uncomfortable, but the parents, especially over the long haul, like to know that their child has not been forgotten. We give value to the mother’s loss and to the life and legacy of the child by using their name. Shying away from the use of the child’s name or saying, “she lost a baby”, is hurtful.

After all, the Mother didn’t just lose a baby, she lost her son or daughter who was named and loved deeply.

4- Be mindful and thoughtful of milestones.

Especially during the first year after the loss of an infant, there are the “firsts” milestones that are a sensitive time for the parents. Planning events on this sensitive day and inviting the parents should be avoided. Remembering what would have been the child’s first birthday and sending a card or thoughtful text message helps the mother feel as though others value their child’s life. Also, be mindful of the fact that holidays and anniversaries carry a pain, especially the first year.

A mother simply wants others to validate their loss for the brutally hard, life altering loss that it is.

Nothing more, nothing less. In the end, a loss is just that…a life that is gone, a part of someone that is now missing and cannot be replaced during our lives on earth. A life starts at conception and a mother who loses a child at any point of pregnancy will need the support and grace to grieve the loss of that life. The life that was and no longer is.

When Women Come Together

Rock City Church

For our recent conference I wanted to unite women within the city. I was on a mission to find a way to connect and inspire women within all seasons of life. A panel made up of women in all walks of life, representing different generations felt like the best way to accomplish thisThe women’s session of the conference at Rock City Church was an invitation to  women of all ages, Christian or non, within various seasons of life. Hundreds of women came together. Let me tell you,  its a beautiful warm, fuzzy feeling being in a room full of women with a mission to love and know Jesus fully. It’s a feeling of joy and love, and I would venture to say that Jesus looks down at groups coming together like this and smiles, full of joy from the sight of it.

1 John 4:12

11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! (MSG)

I got the opportunity to host this panel session with some of my favorite ladies. I did not prepare questions, because it’s my norm to over prepare. This time I wanted things to flow naturally and to be as Spirit led as possible. I really feel like that’s exactly what happened.

I encourage you to listen to the audio recording below and share it with a girlfriend.  It’s available at your convenience and I promise it won’t be a waste of your time. These women share from such a real and raw place, leaving us with so many encouraging truths we can all be encouraged by! 

 

 

 

Unified Front: Hurricane Harvey Update

Rock City Church

We had just finished a conference called “Unified Front” at Rock City Church as the news of a potential hurricane came. The vision the Lord gave me for the conference was of a flock of birds flying in a V formation. He was showing me His heart for unity among His people. People unified with one mission; to live out the nature of heaven on earth.

This looks like love–A love backed up with action.

A month ago I assumed the vision I was given was solely for the conference, but I now realize how fitting it was for what was to come.

Personally, my husband and I had many reasons to pray and believe for protection as the storm approached our home town. We own two coffee shops on the coast called Coffee Waves, our home sits right by the bay, and we pastor Rock City Church located in Flour Bluff. Basically our entire lively hood was at risk.  We prayed, along with so many others for protection from hurricane Harvey. As we all know, the storm ended up shifting and hitting various towns on the coast, leaving Corpus Christi with only minimal damage and lots of power outages.

My happy place, however, was left in ruins. Port Aransas holds a special place in my heart. So many of my memories while dating my now husband are there. It was in this town that I took my engagement pictures, got married, and lived our first year of marriage. Our shop, Coffee Waves is such a treasured place full of memories for locals and tourists alike.  To this day, Port Aransas is our first pick for date nights or an overnight get away.

When we were able to get to the shop and see the magnitude of destruction our hearts were saddened and our minds overwhelmed. The day was dark and gloomy which mirrored the feelings for most who came to town that day. Where would we even begin and how?

As business owners, every day that our business is closed income is lost and employees are without a job. All funds saved previously are used towards rent, bills, and employee salary’s that do not stop due to a storm hitting.  The thoughts of “How will we afford all new equipment with no insurance?” and “Should we even rebuild?” came to mind often.

That first Wednesday, without full power at our church we came together to thank the Lord, worship and pray. Our strength renewed and hearts full of peace as we continued to face this challenge.

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His mercies are new every morning.

Joy comes in the morning.

The following day the sun came out and volunteers began to come in floods to help. On the first day of work, all debris was cleared out of the shop. The following day all damaged drywall was removed. Every day we were overwhelmed by the love and support of both strangers and friends. We began to see the light. We knew then that we had to rebuild and we were going to trust the Lord to provide.

As a unified front, people continue to come help those in need.  Much like Jesus, they’re not doing an interview of the person before helping them. They’re not asking the people what their beliefs are or pointing out their flaws first. They are just doing what they can to meet a need. No questions asked and no expectations of something in return. It’s such a beautiful thing to see! People unified with a mission to show love. And this is not just happening in Port Aransas, but in all of the coastal towns as well as Houston.

In the midst of our personal struggles, we still wanted to give back to those in need. We decided to start serving coffee from the parking lot free of charge. As time went on, other local businesses started serving lunch along side us.  Along with a hug, lunch, and coffee we also have members of Rock City Church there to offer prayer. People show up in tears as they are coping with such recent trauma. Coffee Waves has became a hub within the town. A place of hope and love.

IMG_6517Rock City Church has been collecting relief funds that are being used to help victims of the storm. Our teams have been working within various coastal towns on a daily basis…being His hands and feet. If you would like to give torwards that fund, you can click this link.lol

This unified front of love has been so encouraging for all of us. Please continue to keep us, and all of the others affected by Harvey in prayer as we all regain normalcy and start the process of rebuilding.

Together lets also pray and believe for protection for those in the path of hurricane Irma.

We are not exactly sure of what is next and how everything will come together again, but we do know with all certainty, that the Lord has this. He will make a way and we will rebuild even better than before. I know first hand how great the Lord is at restoring what was lost.  I can’t wait to share the rest of this story with you all.

After all, the Lord is writing a beautiful story of our lives and every good story involves hard times that eventually get overshadowed by the beautiful.