Faith Over Fear

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For my 40th birthday back in November Stephen surprised me with a trip to Seattle. 

The trip was this week. 

Some of you may be thinking, fun!

Yep, those weren’t my first thoughts when I received this gift.  Every thought was fear based.

“We will be away from the kids so long.”

“I have to fly😬 I am not a great traveler to begin with and I haven’t flown since treatments.  How bad will the pressure and pain be in my head?”


“The last time Stephen surprised me with a trip for my birthday we went to Nashville.  The day after we got back I was diagnosed.  Will I be diagnosed again after this trip?”

Yes, those were my real thoughts as fear gripped my heart.  And although I am grateful for his thoughtful gift, the unknowns of what I had to move through to get there really challenged me.  I started thinking...

Maybe we shouldn’t go.

Maybe Stephen should just take Kate.

Oh a snowstorm is coming❄️ Maybe our flights will be cancelled🙃

This is the truth of my anxious mind.  It plays on repeat all the possible negative outcomes, and creates options to remove this obstacle from my path.

Please don’t let this shirt in this picture fool you.  The truth is I wore this shirt a friend gifted me during my walk with cancer because I needed these words coming at me in every way.

Yes, I paused. breathed. and prayed.  

All day.  

Yet prayer isn’t like a light switch that just turns off anxiety.

Anxiety is real and it’s awful.  And it made me want to scrap the whole trip but I will not let fear be my compass in life, even when it feels like I have no faith left in me at all. When I sat on the plane, as I prayed, tears streamed down my face.  The fear of the unknowns won over the battle for my heart and mind.  

Yet, I refuse to let fear win that battle. I am determined to let faith win.

How?

I know that beyond the fear is where truth resides.  So I was constantly seeking that truth to come to the forefront and not remain in the background.  I listened to nourishing music for the majority of the flight as the lyrics spoke truth to my heart.

I know our kids are in great hands.

Yes, I have pressure and pain, but it will pass in time.

Just because I was diagnosed after our last trip he surprised me with for my birthday it doesn’t mean that will be the truth of this trip.

May I let go and trust God…again.

I share this with you today because I know I am not the only one who has fear grip their heart at times.  If you too get paralyzed by fear, I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we not believe the lies fear tells us.  Fear tries to stop us from living our lives fully, from receiving love from those who try to pour it our way.  May we not allow fear to stop us from moving forward. As we move forward, as slowly as it may be, fear may even come with us for a while, as it did with me.  Yet when we are able to get to the other side of those lies we step into faith and truth.  And in faith there is freedom and life. 

May we take that step forward, as tough as it may be, and move closer to living a freer life in faith, not fear.

With love and hope,

Shawn

A Different View

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One of our children wants to ski.  We’ve taken our kids a couple of times but to be honest it isn’t our thing. 

Yet maybe it is their thing?

Today I have been looking at a different view compared to other Sundays. Rather than being on a trail, I am at the mountain watching our child ski.

It’s a different view for me, yet one of many changes in scenery I will be experiencing as our kids grow up.

It’s easy to stay in our patterns; what we know and do, and what our natural tendencies are.  Yet, we want our children to be who they are, not who we are.  This will require us to shift from our comfortable patterns and experience new things, like we did today.

I share this with you because we all have our comfortable spaces and places. Yet we sometimes can get narrow vision seeing only from those points of view.  I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.


May we be willing to step out of our bubble of comfort in order to help our loved ones grow more fully into who they are meant to be.  It may require us to experience a different view, but maybe that view is just what we need to help us grow as well.

With love and hope,

Shawn

Every Season Has Its Beauty

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Every season has its beauty❄️ 

Sometimes it’s easy to see.

Sometimes it’s hard to see.

And sometimes we don’t see it until we have passed through it.

I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May the beauty of this season we are in be made visible to us...when the time is right.

With love and hope,
Shawn

Thank you, Cancer

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Dear Cancer,

Two years ago today, you came into my life when I was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, ACC, a rare salivary gland cancer.

Twenty-two months ago, my palate was removed to take out the cancerous tumor that resided there, and in my nasal cavity.

Nineteen months ago, I finished 7 rounds of low dose chemotherapy and 35 rounds of proton beam radiation to hopefully kill the cancerous cells that were left behind after surgery.

Since then, I have been healing in different ways on different days, since the memory of you and the remnants you leave behind don’t leave when treatments end, as I initially believed they would. Yet I am doing my best to live everyday as though you are part of my past, and not a part of my future.

As I reflect back on this day two years ago, and the months that followed, one specific memory comes to mind. I vividly remembering praying in the bathtub one night as I tried to soak the stress away from you entering my life.  I remember saying out loud that I was going to choose to love you, and not hate you. You are the last visitor anyone wants in their homes, and as hard as those words were for me to say to you, choosing to welcome you in spite of the harm you may bring me, and my family, helped me not drown in your presence. I chose to spend my time and energy loving on others, not fighting your existence. And although you came to harm me two years ago, today I am choosing to thank you for all you actually brought to my life.

Thank you for stripping away all that is insignificant in life and showing me who and what really matters. Because of you I grew deeper roots of faith and our family ties are stronger than ever.

Thank you for reminding me that our time is limited. Now I do my best to make the most the moments and days I get with the people beside me, like my husband and our three children.

Thank you for showing me, and my children, a husband and father who is willing to show up to walk beside us in good times and bad without wavering.

This one admittedly is hard to say, but thank you for making my kids stronger by overcoming adversity because of your presence in our life.

Thank you for the fear you brought into my life and making me see there were two paths for me to choose from, to live in fear or in faith. I chose to live in faith knowing my children were watching how I interacted with you. And how I handled you may help them handle life’s challenges too.

Thank you for helping me see the power of community, and how your darkness will never drive out the love people have to offer one another.

Thank you for introducing me to people who have enriched my life who I never would have met had you not stopped by to visit.

Thank you for taking me to the edge of life where I had no control over the outcome. On the edge I grew closer to God and learned to surrender my will for God’s. On the edge I found an inexplicable peace in trusting God with whatever the outcome would be for me, and my family.

Thank you for taking away my palate and helping me learn that being whole in Spirit is more significant in life than a whole body.

Thank you for giving me an invisible wound to remind me that not everyone’s wounds are visible so now I meet others with greater compassion and grace.

Thank you also for the visible wound on my right cheek from radiation. I view my wrinkled cheek as a memory mark that reminds me that aging with your loved ones is a gift not everyone gets to experience and to have gratitude for every year I get.

Thank you for teaching me there is no timeline for healing. This awareness has made me more gentle with myself, and with others, as most people are healing from something.

Thank you for the uncertainty of your presence moving forward that helps bring clarity and perspective to my days.

Thank you for helping me see that tomorrow isn’t promised so I need to end today knowing I gave it my all.

Cancer, two years ago you came into my life and you tried to stop me from living. Instead you have actually made me live a deeper and more purposeful life. I will use this life I have been given to come beside others and do what is mine to say and do to help others live their fullest life. I will do my best too to help the next person in line; from my children and those beside them, to the next person diagnosed. You came to harm me, but now I see how God is using it for good.

Yes, you taught me a lot. Yet as much as I have learned from meeting you, I’d appreciate you not coming back to visit me, or anyone else. Thank you, cancer.

With gratitude and hope,

Shawn

Cherish the Gift of Time

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My Mom was back to visit for a couple of days💝 We were able to sit across from one another as we had our quiet time in the morning (which wasn’t so quiet😊). We sipped our tea as we talked. And we took time to walk and talk some more.

Having a cup of tea, going for walks and having talks with my parents used to be regular part of my life. Since they’ve moved, I’ve recognized what a gift it was to have had them live so close for myself, and our family. Our time together is now infrequent and short, but we are making the most of it.

I share this with you today to remind those of you who live close to your loved ones that it may not always be that way. Yet even you do remain close by, be sure to cherish the gift it is. And for those of you who live far from your loved ones, like I do now, I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we give thanks for the time we do get together. May we be present when they are with us and enjoy these fleeting moments. May we capture the memories in our hearts, and on our cameras. And may our time together be fuel in our tank that nourishes us until next time💕🙏💕

With gratitude and hope,
Shawn

P.S. Kate gifted me this mug right after my parents moved. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and I love drinking out of it, especially on the days that challenge me as a Mom🙃. I also love to share this mug with my Mom when she visits💞

Helping Others Heal

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This morning I walked beside these two wonderful ladies. They both walked beside my family and I through our walk with cancer. One has been a powerful prayer warrior for our family, and the other nourished our family with Healing Meals during my treatments.

As I took a step back to take this picture, there was so much gratitude I felt towards both of them for what they did for us, and what they continue to do for others.

I share this with you today because there are so many people helping others in our communities. Whether they are prayer warriors behind the scenes or creating companies to nourish others while empowering youth, they are there making a difference.

I invite you to take a moment to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.


May we give thanks for everyone who is doing their part to make our communities a better place. 

“The people we surround ourselves with determine the direction and the quality of our lives.” - Andy Stanley 

May we surround ourselves with people like Cynthia and Sarah who are helping others rise up into their best self from where they are. 

And may we do our part to be that person for others.

With gratitude and hope,
Shawn

You Got This

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When I sat down to work today I found an unexpected note from my thoughtful 12-year old daughter💝 

Her encouraging note was fuel in my tank.  Getting myself out there as an author and speaker is hard work.  Yet I am willing to do the work because I wholeheartedly believe people need to have love and truth spoken into them.  People need to be encouraged to live from the inside out and use their struggles as stepping stones to rise up into their best self.

Plus, I have eyes watching me.  My kids see my good days, my hard days and everything in between.  One thing I refuse for them to see is me giving up.

My hope for my kids is that they use their God given gifts to their full potential to positively impact the lives around them.  And if that’s what I hope for them, I need to do my best to show them that I am willing to do the same...even when it’s hard.

I share this with you today in case you too are having hard moments, personally or professionally.  I invite you to join me today to...


Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we remember we all have unique gifts the world needs.  May we choose to use them to positively impact others, and when the going gets hard, may we remember we can do all thing through God who strengthens us.  And may we be who we hope our kids will be and never give up on the path God has placed before us.

My hope is that Kate’s encouragement is fuel in your tank today too… “YOU GOT THIS!”

With love and hope,

Shawn

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” - Philippians 4:13

Hold On To Hope

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A few weeks ago my youngest, Matty, called me into the family room. He wanted to show me a preview to a movie he thought I’d enjoy. He asked if we could see the movie together when it came out. Of course I wanted to but I wasn’t sure this movie was good for him.

You see, he is a deep feeler, who is very empathetic, and this movie would make him feel deeply which is often uncomfortable for him. For example, when a slow song comes on the radio, he often asks for us to change it so he doesn’t have to experience the emotions that come with it.

Yet for the past few weeks whenever he would see the preview for this movie he would remind me of the opening date, January 11. He was persistent that he wanted to go together and that I would enjoy the movie.

So last night I took Matty on a date to see ‘ A Dog’s Way Home.’ This movie took my son on an emotional roller coaster ride. At one point when a dog lost his mom, he reached over and put his arm around my neck, pulling me in closer. It hit me to the core to have his little six year old arm wrapped around my neck holding me closer to him. (And for those of you who know our story, understand why that hit my heart so deeply.)

At one point when I knew he was feeling so deeply for the dog, Bella, in the movie, I asked if he wanted to leave. “No, Mom, it’s going to end up okay. Let’s keep watching.”

The power in those words hit my heart. He had the hope that all would be well and that hope carried him through the range of emotions he was experiencing.

I share this with you today because you may too be experiencing a range of emotions because of your current circumstances. I invite you to join me to…

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we not allow our emotions to be our compass in life. Instead may we hold on to the hope that all will be well in the end to help us get through. And may we, like Matty, be willing to stretch ourselves, out of our comfort zone, to have life experiences beside those we love.

With love and hope,

Shawn

First Grade Wisdom

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Today I was the mystery reader in my youngest’s class💝 As I was leaving this was on the door.  I thought I’d pass along the wisdom I learned from a first grade classroom today💕🙏💕 

With love and hope,
Shawn

Midday Pray

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Yes, I have set a daily alarm for 2 pm to remind me to Pause. Breathe. Pray.

I find I am good at pausing in the morning and before bed but I really don’t take the time to stop doing and simply be in the middle of the day. 

Plus my kids start getting home around 2:15 so it’s a great time to lay down the work and prepare to put my mom hat back on.

I am sharing this with you today in case you, like me, need a reminder to pause and be.

I invite you to join me to set an alarm to remind ourselves to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

Practicing this is so much different than saying it.

My hope for each of us is that we take this time to be still and renew our mind for the next part of our day. We can keep going, going, going or stop to refuel. What will serve us, and those around us best?

Let’s choose to do that.

With love and hope,
Shawn