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.

 

 

 

For The Love Of Conviction

Faith

I still remember the guilt and worry that consumed me as a child when I found out my sister was smoking. I was about ten years old when for whatever reason she showed me the cigarettes she had in her room. She had started smoking and thought it would be fun to tell ME out of all people! And of course, she told me NOT to tell our parents. It’s as if she did this just to torture me. I tossed and turned all night long wrestling with this new truth, until finally in the middle of the night I went to my parent’s room and woke up my mom. I was in tears as I told her the news. It was as if I was holding on to this tragic thing that I couldn’t hold onto any longer. The thought of this is pretty funny to me now, but at the time it was serious business! It seems I was born with a huge conscience. I used to wish I wasn’t so sensitive to things, but these days I’ve grown to love my convictions because they are a sign of growth.

When all of a sudden I’m getting a check in my Spirit after I do or say something, then I know the Lord is slowly working on me in a certain area. I want to be willing to be worked on. Instead of ignoring the Holy Spirit when He’s talking to me, I allow Him to lead.

Some of the things I’ve felt conviction for lately are things that didn’t convict me before and I’m encouraged by that. The more we follow the Lord, making Him priority, the more He is able to mold us into His image. It’s such a natural progression and nothing that feels like rules, pressure, or being good to measure up.

Here’s how conviction plays out in my life.

The other day I was about to send a sarcastic text (I am naturally sarcastic. Nothing wrong with that, except for when It’s wrong :)) to a friend the other day. But, right before I pushed send, the phrase, “Blessed are the peacekeepers” popped into my mind. Then the scripture-

 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” Hebrews 12:14

Instantly I felt guided. I felt convicted. But not in a negative way; A loving reminder kind of way.

Before I sent that “not so peace making” text message, I put the phone down and resisted the possible text convo that usually doesn’t result in bringing about peace. Let’s admit, sometimes we want to send that text or make that call to a friend to vent…but if we’re honest it probably isn’t going to bring about any good and especially not peace.

Let’s seek peace. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to mold us into that perfect vessel so that we can see the Lord so clearly. Once we see and know His beauty, we can’t help but be transformed.

A PLAYHOUSE FULL OF DELIGHT

Design

Friends, I can promise you one thing–this seemingly perfect playhouse never looks as clean and organized as it does in these photos. On a typical day there are plates and play food covering the floor all while our dogs join in on the chaos by coming in to shake off their pool water!

All that to say, messy or not, this cute little playhouse is a spot I had the vision for years ago when my children were infants. I purposed to create a fun space for my children and their little friends to play, imagine, and explore. A spot where sweet memories are created often and laughs are always present. I just love knowing my children will cherish these memories when they look back on their childhood.

Play Kitchen, Shopping Basket/vintage, Rug, Wall baskets, Wooden play food, Hanging plant holder, Succulent bowl, Metal pots and pans.

I originally sketched out my vision for this house with our contractor on the chalkboard wall of our kid’s playroom inside our home. It’s a good thing Billy, our friend and contractor is just as much a dreamer and creative as I am. We made a great team. In the end, the roof took on a slant to match the structure already present in our yard, and the “small, basic” playhouse got a loft, stairs, and flower bed! Ha! What can I say? Once you start building, things just evolve.

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The numerous windows are great for letting lots of light and cool breeze in on a hot South Texas day! The windows are also created with shutters that raise up to resemble a café window the kids can serve food from.

The wooden chairs are vintage, painted and distressed. For shelving, I used spice racks from Ikea, painted them white and then distressed them using sandpaper. They are inexpensive and the perfect size to display a few special items, making it super easy for littles to see and reach.  Wooden bowls, Cafe menus, Wooden garland, Pot + Succulent, Serving trays

 Now, for the outside of the playhouse, I wanted to create more spaces for fun! In the back of the house we purchased material and supplies from Home Depot to create a play zone. The outside area includes a DIY double swing, sand pit, play telescope + steering wheel, and a small flower and herb garden that my daughter is in charge of maintaining 🙂

Here are some of the building process. The kids were super excited as their playhouse came to life. I’m pretty sure they asked, “Is our playhouse done?” just about every day!

Java, our goldendoodle was under the impression that the house was just for her. 

I’m sure I am leaving out details, but I would love to hear from you! Please let me know if you have any questions. I tried my best to list all sources, but I am sure I left some out. 

We created this house in a way that will allow us to use it as a pool house once the children are older. I love to make things practical and look at the long term picture. 

Here’s to many days of outside play, imagination and laughs to come! And to letting them be little as long as possible. 

Who says your life is mediocre?

Faith

I recently read a blog that was shared thousands of times in which the writer asks the question, “What if I’m okay with a mediocre life?”

However, in all the ways she spelled out her life as mediocre, I found it to be quite the contrary.

me·di·o·cre

of only moderate quality; not very good.

Since when did living a life that doesn’t include fame or huge and very visible things mean that our lives are mediocre? Since when did being a mom, wife and sister equate to not being enough? Who says bigger is always better? Who says having a not too big and not too small, but somewhere in the middle-sized body is mediocre?  Yet, her questions and writing resounded with so many women. That must mean so many of us feel this tension inside. The need to be more, the feelings of not being enough, and the pressure to strive.

So, what if you aren’t traveling and speaking to thousands, but you do invest in individuals? What if you’re not on leadership at a church, but you make a positive impact within the church body? What if your body isn’t what it used to be before having children and you’re ok with that? What if you don’t start an orphanage in Africa, yet you love and give locally? What if your home is never decorated like so many beautiful homes we see on social media or in magazines, but it’s just right for your family? What if you can’t always keep up with feeding your family super healthy or organic meals and every now and then you enjoy pizza with them instead?

Who says this way of life is mediocre? Who says it’s not enough or you’re not enough?

The world may scream at us to hustle or strive and measure up, but not even the world can steal the peace and wholeness that resides in a women who knows who and whose she is.

The truth is, not one person has it all together at all times. When we see the perfect homes in magazines or social media, we must know that to get a perfect picture of one room, all the other rooms are most likely in complete disarray. When we see a mom or wife that travels often or works most of the week, we must know that they have help with their children and time away from their family is required. Because nobody can do all and be all things to the fullest and we were never called to. I once found myself giving into that lie that we must be all things and do all things to perfection.  In the end, living that lie left me so exhausted and anxious.

True rest comes when we embrace our identity as His children; His beloved. 

Lately I’ve found myself living life at such a calm, peaceful pace. Finally coming to this place of contentment. This place of knowing that I do not need to rush, or hurry to make anything happen in my life. A place where days of rest, quality time, and putting energy and time towards life giving things bring such fullness. I’m content in my role as a mom, wife, and friend. I am content praying and helping others, worshipping, writing from my heart, loving well, and just being His. I’m content, but I am also not allowing myself to stay comfortable. 

While it is true that we are loved and we are enough, we can’t stop there. As much as the Lord loves us just as we are, His love still calls us to the more.  I believe the blog resonated with so many because it allowed us to take a big sigh of relief.  Deep down, we want permission to just be enough and to just stop there.

The thing is, the times I’ve grown the most were when I stepped out onto the water and far away from the boat–the place that keeps me safe and comfortable. 

It’s His love that calls us to the more. The more will look different for everyone, but there is always, always more. The more may seem like too much, but we can do hard or big things with His grace. I believe we can step out into the more He has for us and still live life from a calm, simple and peaceful position. But, if we stay comfortable, we aren’t growing. It’s His good pleasure to give, guide and watch us grow into fullness; and there’s nothing mediocre about a life lived only to follow His lead.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. 1 Peter 5:6-7Amplified Bible (AMP)

 

THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, BUT WE STILL HAVE A UNIQUE PURPOSE UNDER IT.

Faith

I remember feeling so confused and discouraged the first time I read the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes from a void in his life and a search for meaning. He reflects on the major accomplishments in his life in light of the reality of our lives being but a vapor.

Solomon writes,

That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

That verse isn’t the most motivational for sure. The reader is left with the thought, “Then what’s the point of even trying?” I dug deeper to find his ultimate message is to encourage us to not waste our lives trying to justify our existence with pursuits that ultimately mean nothing. Instead, he prompts us to make our lives count for eternity.

When we love and serve Jesus fully, we are doing the same thing today that we will do for eternity. We are making the ways of Heaven known on earth.  This is the way the Lord intended us to live when He said, “On earth as it is in Heaven”.  Even if what we are called to has been done so many times before, there’s still great purpose in it. Purpose that will count for not only this life time, but for eternity.

Have you ever wanted to try something, but never did due to the thought, “What can I say or do that hasn’t been done already?”

I believe when we are putting Jesus first, He will start leading us to use what He has put in us for His glory.  Whatever that thing is. The thing that you enjoy, feel called to, or do well. That thing that makes your heart come alive. It may be singing, helping others in the medical world, playing an instrument, crunching numbers, painting, photography, writing or speaking. You fill in the blank. Yet, so many of us aren’t using our gifts to make Jesus known in the earth.

It’s true; there really is nothing new under the sun. No matter what your talent or gifting is, it most likely has been done before in some form. History does repeat itself.

But the thing is, the sun is huge,

and there is room for us all to live out our dreams under it.

We need you to do your thing.

We need you to be fully you while you’re doing it.

We can’t do what we are called to fully, if you’re not doing your thing.

We are all meant to play a unique chord in life that certain people will identify with more than they would with any other chord.

What happens when you get under your chord?

Someone else could be great at what you’re great at, but only you can do that thing in the unique way you were created to do it. God created us each with a blue print unlike anyone else in the earth.

I think if we all begin to appreciate the full, complete, and multi-faceted body of Christ, comparison would disappear!

Lisa Bevere speaks such truth when she says, “There’s enough glory to go around for each of us, and when we’re all operating in our created purpose, together we are the most glorious. Paul taught us that Christ’s Body is made up of many members that have different functions.”

These verses are so rich with truth!

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ…. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you”

1 Corinthians 12:12-21

What is your function? He wired each of us so uniquely to function as only we can. Maybe you’re not surrounded by others who see your wiring and encourage you to function. It’s so important to find a church where they see your wiring and set you in place to function well.  A church full of family who love you, see what is in you and encourage you to try something new and uncomfortable.

As Kevin Leal says, “If the gift is not expressed, the person becomes depressed.” We are the most alive and joy-filled when we’re doing what we are called to.

I don’t know about you, but I’m super grateful the Lord made this a team effort. I’m glad that I don’t need to function in all things well, I just need to do what I am called to.

Thankfully, the Lord gives us grace for the place and things He calls us to. I know I’m not in place when the grace isn’t there and I’m having to try too hard. If the grace is there you’re in place.

Let’s find our place and make our lives count for eternity!

Coffee Shop Design

Spaces

I’m so excited to share all of the design details within the Coffee Waves Flour Bluff expansion. Design (well, anything creative really) is something I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. So getting to design this coffee shop was a ton of fun for me!

Originally, when we first opened we had only about 1500 sq. ft. of total space. This meant seating was super limited. With the expansion, we doubled in size! My main goal was to create various options for seating. From the large group to the one person coming in to work on their laptop, there are plenty of options to choose from!

Some of my favorite additions to the shop are:  The conference room (Which was totally my husband’s idea! ) is available for booking meetings, the stage which is great for comedy night or live music, and last but not least…THE PLANTS!!

The conference room has light grey textured walls, a large wooden meeting table, and couches. A printer and television are also available for customers booking the meeting space. We are pretty excited about this neat space as we know meeting spaces are limited and needed within the city.

The long cushioned booth along the wall is ideal for maximizing seating. The walls are black with a heavy texture. At one point during remodel, all I could see was black, which made the space super dark. It was a tad frightening!

But, I still had faith it would all come together, and gosh, I’m SO glad it did! A few main things brought in more warm and diversity. Mainly, PLANTS, PLANTS, and more PLANTS! Really, how can you go wrong with greenery?! By adding shelving above the entrance as well as above the bench seating, we were able to display various plants that only require minimum sunlight. The white subway tile also helped break up the black!

We love to support local businesses and talent! All tables and chairs were built by Mr. Lancaster, a super talented craftsmen @ H Lancaster Co. 

FullSizeRender

Some of the other details that give the shop some flare are the unique light fixtures, textured walls, open shelving, chalkboard wall art, fun bathroom wallpaper, and various local artwork displayed.

If you are ever in the Corpus Christi area or if you are a local, but haven’t came to visit, please do. We would love to meet you!

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I did not go into too much detail, but if you have any questions regarding any items you see in this post, please don’t hesitate to ask.  Here are a few main sources:

Bathroom wallpaper: Hygge & West

Plant Services: Green Things Interiorscapes

(minus all pictures of construction & my little ones which were taken by yours truly)

Billy Placker with J&B Remodeling did an amazing job making my vision coming to life!

WHEN LIFE FEELS MUNDANE

Faith

You know those times when it’s a struggle to find happiness even when, by most standards, you should be happy?  You know, those seasons or days in life when things are going well enough and nothing bad in particular is happening, but at the same time nothing extremely great is happening either? It’s as if life just seems to be on coast mode– an endless repeat of the same routine. Of course, It’s easy to be happy when something phenomenal happens, but what about the mundane seasons, the seasons of waiting, the seasons when your prayers don’t seem to be getting answered and dreams aren’t coming true? Those are the times in life when if you let it,  despair easily takes the place of joy.

I’ve found myself in that place of despair too often to admit. I never stopped having faith, hoping for the best or attending church, but then again, we all know plenty of Christians who have faith and go to church, yet still live unhappy and discontent lives.

I started to wonder why I kept finding myself in this place where feelings of boredom, discontentment and being unfulfilled ruled my life. I wondered what was wrong with me. How could I have so many great things going for me, yet still be unhappy? How was this cycle repeating when I knew the Truth and loved Jesus?

Eventually I caught on. I realized that the same exact things happened each time to get me to that place, and I was allowing it to happen every time. It always started (and still does try) with my lack of patience for His timing and process.  When things weren’t happening the way I thought they should or as quickly as I thought they should, I would slowly let my discontentment lead the way. And it led right into checking out on social media or TV, staying busy and not making time with Jesus a priority. In turn, my joy and motivation for much of anything started lacking.  Once my joy was gone and discontentment filled my soul, thankfulness was nowhere to be found.

Once I recognized the pattern, I started to make changes. Through it all,  I found that being intentionally thankful made the biggest impact.

It helps to remember we give thanks to God not because of how we feel, but because of who He is.

Practically speaking, I made effort in various ways.

Choosing stillness instead of busy,

Speaking positive statements instead of complaints,

Posting His promises around my home and saying them out loud,

Choosing a great book or His word over social media,

Going for a run while listening to worship, podcasts, and praying.

Eventually, His truth becomes our new reality and He fills us with true and lasting joy. The kind of joy nothing else in this world can offer. It really is the most fulfilling way to live.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Psalm 16:11

Could I encourage you today to find joy even in the process, the waiting and the not so exciting seasons?

God is working in our waiting.

There is purpose in the process.

The harder seasons are the ones that make us ready for the great ones to come!