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

Mountains of Growth

flight home seattle.jpg

We all have mountains in our lives.

We have a choice, we can stand at the base of the mountain and look at it, overwhelmed by its enormity, or we can trust that we are equipped to climb and conquer it.

Whatever your mountain is in life, I invite you to join me to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

Rather than allowing these mountains to be obstacles in our lives, may we look at the mountains in our lives as opportunities to grow deeper into who we were made to be; uncovering layers of things like courage and strength we didn’t know we had. May we trust God is with us and will equip us for the journey up this mountain, and that the view from the top, and what awaits us on the other side, will be worth the climb and the challenges that may come with it.

With love and hope,
Shawn

Faith Over Fear

IMG_A7DE4CB10379-1.jpeg

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

IMG_5383.jpg

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

2019 winter trail.jpg

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

IMG_5222.jpg

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