Look Beyond the Surface

2019 ACC unity candle.jpg

Last night I was resting and lit this candle. I lit it for our ACC, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, community. Every year our community comes together to light candles the same evening wherever we are around the world. We light these candles to remember those we’ve lost, honor those still fighting and give gratitude for those who are well.

As I laid there looking at this candle, I was a reflecting on the unity of our ACC community. We are able to look beyond the surface of our differences and connect in this common thread we share.  

I share this with you today because this truth applies not to just our ACC community but to all of us.

I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May it not take having cancer to look beyond the surface of our differences to find the common thread that links us with one another. I wholeheartedly believe we each have a common thread with one another that would connect us in some way. May we choose to look for the common thread we share with others. When we do this, it would help give pause and hopefully stop the divisiveness we see and hear, and instead begin to unify us with others, as it does for our ACC community.

With love and hope,
Shawn

Restoration Is Possible

2019 Notre Dame Robin.jpg

One of my dear friends sent me this picture from her visit to Notre Dame last week. I am so grateful she and her family were able to experience it before the fire that occurred yesterday.

This morning on the radio we heard that people are already talking about how it will take time, but it will be restored.

Hearing this gave me an opportunity to share with my kids a foundational truth of our faith. Fires will happen, in our hearts, in our relationships, in our lives, yet the hope our faith gives us is that all of the damage caused by those fires, can and will be restored, in time.

I share this with you today in case you are walking in a fiery moment in your day, week or life.

I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we not look at the loss that has happened but at the hope of the restoration that is possible. May we say and do what we can to be part of the restorative process on our lives and if need be, invite others beside us to help. And may we trust that when we lean into God to help us restore what was damaged, something more beautiful will be made from the ashes.

As for our family, we never saw Notre Dame in person, yet I look forward to watching community come together to rebuild. And someday I hope to visit when it’s beautifully restored.

With love and hope,
Shawn

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” - Psalm 71:20

The Real Magic

2019 disney wristband pic.jpg


Some weeks are magical, others are not. This week was a magical week. 

It was filled with fun, laughter, adventure, connection, more memories made, coupled with real moments as we took a road trip down and up the east coast🚙

As we head back home I realize this time together was our family huddle before we go back out onto the field of life. Our family is our team, with each of us playing our unique positions. No matter what happens on the field, the hope is that we always know we have the safety of the huddle to return to when we need it.

I share this with you today because being a part of a huddle matters, not just in our families, but in our communities and beyond.  

I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we recognize the power in taking the time to connect with others. May we remember that no matter what lies in front of us is not as significant as who God put beside us. May we take the time to huddle together, especially when life gets busy, to connect with those beside us. As we enter back into our daily routines, may we remember we are never entering our days alone, we each are a part of a bigger team, and always have our huddles to return to.

You see, the real magic in life is not about where we are, but is about building real connections with those beside us and reminding one another that we each are a unique and valuable part of our huddles.

With love and hope,
Shawn

Dodgeball FUNdraiser 2019

2019 Dodgeball huddle.jpg


This past week was a whirlwind. With unexpected scans last Thursday, I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to go back to battle with cancer again.

Yet after clear scans🙏, I did go back to battle with cancer, but not for me. Although I am cancer free, I will continue to fight for those who are fighting, and for those who will have to fight for their first time, or after a reoccurrence. I will fight for people like Jaclyn, who is a mom of three young kids, who lungs are decorated with ACC tumors, for Gabriele who is only 32 and fighting her third round with ACC and for Brian who just became a grandfather and wants more time to enjoy with his family. My ACC family matters and I as much as I want to, I can’t fix this for them. What I can do though is raise money for research so we find a cure for ACC and change the course in the lives of others, like Jaclyn, Gabriele and Brian and so many others.

Last Friday we hosted our 2nd annual Dodgeball FUNdraiser for ACCRF, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation. Together, with my family and our amazing & generous community, we rallied and have raised at least $6700, with donations still coming through online💝 I wanted to invite you to join our ACC family and consider making a donation. 100% of donations go directly to research. 

I know we all have battles we are facing, or our loved ones are facing. As much as we want to fight in each other’s battles I understand it’s not always possible. 

I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we come beside one another however we can to support one another. Whether it is by donating our time, energy, money, or in prayer. May we give what we can, when we can to fight these battles beside each other.

And however you are able to join our ACC family in our fight for a cure, we sincerely appreciate it.

With gratitude and hope,
Shawn

⬇️DONATIONS WELCOME HERE⬇️

 https://www.accrf.org/take-action/donate/

Reach Out

blue chair.jpg

On one of my walks with Georgia a while back I stumbled upon this old blue cafeteria chair sitting in the woods. I took this pic because in a way I could relate to that chair, having spent many seasons in life feeling within that I was in the middle of nowhere, isolated and alone.

Maybe you can relate too.

We want to connect with others but we don’t know how. We want to speak our truth, but we are not sure how it will be received. We want someone to pull up their chair beside us because we don’t know how to pull ours up beside theirs. So instead we sit alone in our minds even when at times we are physically surrounded by people.

I share this with you today because so many of us can relate to this feeling yet we don’t necessarily talk about it. Then things happen in our world that remind us that we NEED to talk about these feelings to release the stigma around mental health so we know it is okay to not be okay and to reach out for help.

Mental health matters and no matter our struggles there IS help and hope.

If you can relate to this on any level, I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we remember that not all wounds are visible. May we be vulnerable and courageous to reach out when we need a hand, and may we reach out our hands to be the ones people can reach for when they need it. May we say and do what we can to shine a light on this matter in our homes and communities.

And if at any point we feel like we are in this blue chair, alone and isolated, may we open our eyes to see all the other chairs in the woods with us, and others who are walking in the woods wanting to come beside us. As hard as it may be, may we stand up and connect with others who can be part of our healing. And together, step by step, side by side, may we walk beside one another out of the woods and into the open where healing may begin.

With love and hope,
Shawn

If you, or someone you know, needs help and hope, here are 24/7 safe resources (in the US) for you to connect with:

911 for emergent need
211 “one stop connection for local services you need”
Text HOME to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-8255 for National Suicide Prevention Hotline

The Sun Is Always Shining

sun and clouds.jpg

My husband sent me this beautiful picture recently. All I could think about when I saw it was how the sun is always shining behind the clouds.

I share this with you today in case you are like me and have moments, situations or experiences that are like a cloud in your life that can cause turbulence and block you from seeing God’s light, or feeling the warmth of His loving presence.

If so, I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

Whatever our circumstances are, may we trust that God is always there for us, even when it may be tough to see Him. May we believe that these troubles are temporary and will pass by, in time, as clouds always do. And as we wait for them to pass, may we continuously seek the never ending light of God’s love shining towards us through the clouds.

With love and hope,
Shawn

Family Traditions

2019 soda bread.jpg

🍀The family tradition continues🍀

For generations my family has gathered in our kitchens to make Irish soda bread together. My great grandmother taught my Nana, my Nana taught my mom, my mom taught me, and now I am baking these breads with our children.

We mix, we bake.
We gather, we eat.
We talk, we laugh.
We do it on repeat.

This family tradition is more than the delicious bread. Making this bread brings our family together. While we gather to eat, it gives us a chance to talk about, and give thanks for, all those who came before us to get where we are today.

Sharing this tradition with my kids may not seem like a lot, yet I am sure my great grandmother didn’t realize the greatest memory her great, great grandkids would have of her was her soda bread.

This thought made me...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we recognize that the simplest acts of love we do beside our children may have the most lasting impact on them, and the generations that follow.💚🙏🍀

With love and hope,
Shawn

Together We Fight For A Cure

2019 paula and me.jpg

Two years ago today, I went in for surgery to have my palate removed because of the cancerous tumor that was found there. Although I am cancer free, my walk with cancer hasn’t ended. Now I walk to find a cure for rare cancer and this girl, my best friend since Kindergarten, Paula, has been walking beside me every step of the way. Yet she hasn’t been walking with cancer for only two years.

She first met cancer when she was six years old, when her mom was first diagnosed. As she shares in these videos, cancer greatly impacted her then, and has continued to since. 
(watch Paula's moving video on my instagram feed at https://www.instagram.com/p/BvCCMQYFXs-/ - I had trouble getting it to upload here)

As much as cancer has taken from her, Paula continues to rise up and stand up to cancer year after year, by doing what she can from where she is to make a difference which included the Cycle for Survival event in NYC. Paula and I rode last weekend to help raise awareness & funds for rare cancer research.

We rode for the people who are still fighting and for those who will have to fight, for the first time, or after a reoccurrence.

We rode for the spouses, the children, the family, friends; the caregivers.

We rode for the doctors, the researchers, the nurses, the volunteers & all who are hoping for a cure beside us.

We rode for her Mom, her Dad, my Mom, her cousin, her sister in law, and others in our families, & our friends, impacted by cancer.

We rode for each other.

I share this with you today, because we are not the only ones impacted by cancer. And I wanted to invite you to join me today to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

I know it may seem like one person can’t make a difference. But Cycle for Survival was started by one person, Jen, who had the hope our gathering people together to ride and raise money for rare cancer research. The first year Jen raised $210,000. This year Cycle for Survival raised over 41 million dollars! Unfortunately Jen is no longer with us but she used her time here to help the next person in line. She showed the power one person can have in being the change we hope to see in the world of cancer.

Paula and I promise to do what we can to help the next people in line, and we want to invite you to join us to do the same.

With love and hope,
Shawn💕🙏💕

When I see her...

Kate at Barbs.jpg

When I see her...
I see that sweet baby girl cuddled in my arms for the first time.

I see that baby girl on her Dad’s chest as they slept together on the couch.

I see her in the swing with our dog laying in front of her, watching out for her.

I see the curious little girl sitting on my lap flipping through books as we read together.

I see the caring little girl who would sit beside her little brother as he sat in the bouncy seat.

I see the playful little girl dancing barefoot in the grass.

I see the carefree little girl singing from her heart.

I see the creative little girl making drawings out of pudding.

I see the determined little girl who learned to ride her bike one day and the next day road her bike to school.

I see the confident little girl who has always owned her own style.

I see the loving little girl sitting beside her brother while holding her new born brother in her arms.

I see the thoughtful girl making muffins for a neighbor.

I see the joyful girl jumping off the dock and boogie boarding with her cousins.

I see the brave girl hop on the kayak and paddle away on her own.

I see the devoted granddaughter who came beside her grandmother as she fought cancer, bringing my mom her loving presence daily.

I see the loyal girl who is willing to get hurt so others don’t have to.

I see the driven girl who has big dreams for her future.

I see the faithful girl beside me asking me to pray for others.

I see the adventurous girl mapping out what her next adventure will be.

I see the precious girl wrap her arms around her dog for the last time when she had to say goodbye to her.

I see the resilient girl who will never give up.

I see the honest girl trying to navigate through these bumpy tween years.

I see the courageous girl who fought beside me through my walk with cancer.

I see the helpful girl who lends a hand without being asked.

I see the fun girl making memories with her friends.

I see the grateful girl who gives hugs to express her gratitude.

When I see her, I see the sweet baby girl I held in my arms for the first time 13 years ago today, growing into a lovely young woman.

We look forward to seeing what is next for her.

💕🙏🎉Happy 13th Birthday Kate💕🙏🎉

Real Connections

IMG_67F735633D44-1.jpeg

This is the door that has separated me from my family for days.

Why?

Because the day after I came home from our trip, I was diagnosed with the flu😷 (better than cancer like the last trip!)

Something significant I have learned in these few days is that technology does not replace the real connections we make in person with one another.

A text hug emoji is not the same as giving someone a hug.

Reading a book to someone over FaceTime is not the same as snuggling up next to one another and reading it together.

Playing a game against one another online is not the same as sitting around the table interacting with one another.

Saying good morning and good night, and everything in between, has more potency behind it in person than it does through a screen.

I am an arms length away from my family yet am missing the real connections that come by being with my family in person, not over a screen. It has been a solid week I have been away between my trip and being sick, and I am ready to interact with my family again in person asap. The laughs, talks, jokes, games, reading, walks, music, and simply doing nothing in the same space is missed. We may drive each other crazy at times, but in this moment I am seeing the beauty in that too!

I share this with you today because I know I am not alone in seeing how technology is where people are seeking to connect with others more and more. Yes, technology has its benefits but it will never replace the depth of connection that comes with being with others in person.

I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we embrace the truth that real connections are made while interacting in person with one another. May we never allow technology to take the place of making real connections in our lives.

May we speak this truth into the hearts of the upcoming generations. May we do our part to let them know they are seen, heard and loved for who they really are offline and encourage them to connect in person with their friends too.

May we lead by example and put down our devices to put in the time to make real connections with one another. Who knows what doors it will open to others hearts by doing so?

With love and hope,

Shawn