Pass Around Love

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NYC.  Our hearts ache again.

A few weeks ago I heard a child say that kids were “passing around anger” to each other.  They said that one person pushed this person, than the next person pulled at the next person and it continued down the line, child after child, one “passing anger” to the next. 

Passing around anger.  

It made me think of us adults and how much anger gets passed around in this world by us.  When we have a bad day, do we work through those emotions or pass it along to our loved ones or strangers? When anger and frustration grip us, do we try to defuse it or call a person who will help fuel the fire?

Passing around anger.

Is that what we want to be doing?  Is that the example we want to set for our children, our nieces, nephews, our grandchildren, etc.?

Not me.  Yet I admittedly have done it.

Today, I invite you to join me to…

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

Let’s make a commitment to ourselves, and to the children in our lives, and in this world, to let the anger stop with us.  When we get angry or frustrated, let’s figure out a way to let it go and in its place choose to live out love.

We see where anger leads.  

Let’s see where love will take us, and our children.

With love and hope,

Shawn

"Let all that you do be done in love." - 1 Corinthians 16:14

Do Nothing

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The other day while I was on a walk with friends one of them stated that on her to do list she sometimes writes "nothing." What a wise thing to do (or not do😉)! This morning as I sit here planning the day, I am using this new found wisdom and applying it in my life. 

To infuse moments of pause in my day will nourish me in ways the busyness of life never will.

I share this with you in case you too are writing your to do list for the day. 

I invite you to join me and... Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we add 'nothing' to our to do lists as a reminder to be still today to renew ourselves in mind, body and Spirit.

With love and hope,

Shawn

"Be still and know God." - Psalm 46:10

Purposeful Seasons

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Every season has its purpose; winter, spring, summer, fall.  We can appreciate their uniqueness, see their beauty and find gratitude for their purpose. And even when we are ready for the season to end, we have hope for the next season that follows.

What if we took that same perspective and applied it to the different seasons of our lives? 

What if we viewed every season in our lives as one that had purpose?  What if we appreciated their uniqueness and looked for the beauty in them? What if instead of resisting them - especially the tough ones - we found gratitude and trusted they have a purpose?

Such a perspective would give us hope through the trials, the struggles, the changes.  

No matter what season of life we are in today, I invite you to join me and...

Pause.  Breathe.  Pray.

May we believe that their is purpose in this season, even the challenging ones, and trust we need to go through this season for us to be prepared for the next; just as fall leads into winter, planting and nourishing the seeds for spring.

With love and hope,

Shawn

 

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." - Ecclesiastes 3:1

An Unexpected Gift

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On my way in to my acupuncture appointment on Friday I received a random text from someone saying they had puppies.  I thought 'how cute' but they obviously texted the wrong number.  Yes, its almost been a year since we had to put Peyton down but we weren't ready for a puppy yet.

When I got out of my appointment I had a text from my husband saying to check out a website.  It was for a puppy.  When I went on the site the phone number caught my eye. I went back and forth with the text and realized the text and the website were the same place!  

We were baffled.  

Stephen said he did not provide a phone number.  We were confused... and intrigued. We reached out and asked where they were located and it turns out they were in Pennsylvania, about 30 minutes away from where we were going this weekend for our nephews first birthday party.  When I called to learn more, it turns out the puppies Dad happens to live in our hometown in CT.  I shared with the woman how this was all unexpected and there were so many coincidences and her response floored me.  She confidently stated that she believed in God and that there were no coincidences, that God orchestrates these things.  

She has no idea about me and my faith.  Hmmmm...was this a divine appointment, a God wink?  I believe so.

The cherry on top was about a month ago our children decided if we got another dog they wanted to name her Georgie, for George Washington, for some reason.  Stephen didn't realize this.  

After our nephews birthday party we went to a hotel located between where his sister lives and where were headed to get our puppy.  Where did we stay?  In Valley Forge. (Get it Valley Forge, George Washington.  This just kept getting better and better.)  So on our way to surprise our kids to pick up Georgie, we drove through the Vally Forge Historical Park where George Washington's troops stayed in 1777.    

We kept it a secret from our kids all weekend.  When they realized the random stop we were making was to get a puppy for our family, the pure joy that radiated from their faces was priceless.  And I realized the gift I was getting was more than a puppy, it was allowing myself to experience pure joy and allow myself to plan for the future which I hadn't been really allowing myself to do recently.

On Friday morning we were not planning on getting a puppy.  By noon we were.  As we drove to pick her up today, I knew nothing about this made sense yet it all made sense.  I am not sure what the next chapter holds, but I know our little love, Georgia, is a part of it, thanks to a random text that still makes no sense how it made it to my phone. 

Thank you, God for this unexpected gift of joy you've infused in my heart and for our sweet Georgia girl:-)

With a grateful heart,

Shawn

A New Thing...

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One of my soul sisters gave me this a few weeks ago. I wear it daily as a reminder for myself - and I share it today with you as a reminder for you too -

Although the path we were walking on, and the life we were building, may have crumbled beneath us, it is not without purpose. When we are ready and have grieved the loss, may we dust ourselves off and stop wishing for it back . Instead let's get up and rebuild. May we... 

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

And invite God to be the foundation on which we build this new life on. As challenging as it may be, may we trust God will use this experience for good. May we believe God is doing a new thing in our lives, better than we can imagine.

With love and hope,
Shawn

Me, Too

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One of my "me too" moments was when I was about 20 years old and coaching a freshmen girls basketball team. After the game a high school boy decided to grab my butt.  I stood there in shock of what just happened unsure of what to say or do.  

But then I saw my team watching me.

I nervously as I walked over to confront the kid and talk to the other coach...and eventually the principal.

I remember walking back on the bus that night shaking and trying to hold back the tears from the sickening experience.

I don't know what happened with the kid, if there were any consequences at school or home.  What I do know is that I had eyes watching me and am thankful I stood up for myself and showed the girls on my team what it looked like to stand up for yourself.  I received a note from one girl the following week which made me grateful to know that at least one girl was empowered by my actions.

To the girls and boys in my Health class that witnessed another teacher call me Pooh Bear and sugar, I am sorry for not speaking up for myself or for showing you that being spoken to, or speaking to others, in a demeaning way is not acceptable. 

And for the other times I didn't address it simply for my own empowerment, I am sorry.

But now I have other eyes watching me.  My children's.  I know what they see and hear will become their inner voice and guiding light.  

Recently I was spoken to in a very condescending way by a man.  A prayer I pray with our family often is that we may have the wisdom to know what is right and the courage to do it even when it is hard.  And I chose to live out that truth, by standing up for what was right, even though it was hard.  Saying what I said and doing what I did has come at a price but to me it is worth it so that my children see and hear me live out a truth I speak over them and I hope empowers them to do the same in the future.

I share this with you today in hopes it ignites or flames the fire within you too to use your voice to stand up for what is right and shine a light on what is wrong in hopes to be the change we want to see in this world.

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

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

May we have the wisdom to know what is right and have the courage to stand up for what it right, even when it is hard, and may come at a cost.  May we trust it is worth the loss, and the short term suffering that may come with it, for the long term freedom within it will bring.

With love and hope,

Shawn

Full Transparency

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Will you sit with me for a moment?  I'm struggling.

Those words are much easier to think than to speak or write.  The ache in our hearts for connection yet the silence of our voices inhibits the bridges between our hearts from being built.

I often write and speak about my struggles once they have passed.  Today I am choosing to open up in the midst of my struggle.

Why?

Because I am not the only one struggling right now.  And I know how lonely it can feel to sit with your own thoughts and stir them into a thick mixture that they become like mud stopping you from moving forward.

I am pausing. breathing. praying. often.

I am taking time to be still.

I am going slow.

I am hopeful for wisdom, clarity, and direction as I move along this new road.

Some days I can speak of the future freely.  Trusting I'll be here to experience life beside my loved ones and take a few steps forward.

Then the next day fear will grip my heart that I will get a reoccurrence and it at time stops me in my tracks.

The truth is my future is unknown, with or without cancer.  I know I have a choice to live in faith, trusting all will be well no matter the outcome or to live in fear.  Of course I want to live in faith but at times it is easier said than done.  Even though I am post treatment and I know I can move on, there is a quiet whisper that gets my attention now and then that asks, "will it be back...and if so, when?"

You all know my faith in God is the cornerstone of my life and it has given me shelter through the storms life has presented me, from anxiety, depression to now cancer.  Yet even with my faith as strong as it is, I want to be transparent with you that yes, I still have moments like this where I have let the fear in and am tangled in it.

I know it will pass but this is where I currently am - in the quiet, uncertain wilderness of life after cancer.  

And although I am alone sitting here as I write this, I know I am not alone in this place.  There is another person post treatment experiencing the same thing.  There is a new mom who is in the quiet, uncertain wilderness as she navigates the waters of motherhood.  There is a serviceman or woman who has come home from an eighteen month deployment and is currently in the quiet, uncertain wilderness of what is next for them after all they have experienced.  There are men and women who have retired after decades of working and are too sitting in the quiet, uncertain wilderness of this new season of life.  There are families who lost everything in the hurricanes who are sitting in this same place.  There are also people who have lost loved ones who are left in the quiet, uncertain wilderness of their new reality, life after loss.

Whatever your story, I want to let you know that you are not alone.

Yet why does it feel so lonely here?

Because, maybe you are like me and find it easier to sit and keep it in instead of sharing and letting others know where you are. 

I have shared with Stephen and a few others, and today I am choosing to share with you which I have been hesitant to do.

Why?

Because the last thing I need from sharing is pity.  I choose to share in hopes that it opens the door for others to share their story and let people in to bridge with their hearts.  I whole heartedly believe the quiet, uncertain wilderness is a part of the healing process.  But that doesn't make it easy and it is a process that is different for each of us.

As I navigate through this terrain, I personally find solitude is best for me.  

Whatever is best for you, speak your truth and let others know what you need.  And if we need a hand, let's be sure we ask for it.

My head has grand plans about what is next for me...more books...more talks...more sharing with others to infuse hope into struggling hearts.  I know I will get there...

But for today, my heart is telling me that I need to infuse hope back into my own heart. 

Tomorrow may be a different story.  All I can do - all any of us in the quiet, uncertain wilderness can do - is take things moment-by-moment, day-by-day.  Please be patient with us and meet us where we are. We are doing our best to engage in this day and meet you where you are too.  

With love, gratitude and hope,

Shawn

Actions Speak Louder than Words

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Yesterday morning when I heard the news I sat down to write and process this latest tragedy. I was overcome with such grief, sadness and anger no words were sufficient.  

Like most of you I spent the day with a broken heart that ached for those who lost their lives, for all the injured, the first responders, hospital staff and all their families - and for the other tragedies in our nation and in the world.

I Paused. Breathed. and Prayed.

A lot. 

But that isn't enough.  

We could sit around and pray all day but what I think God would be saying to that is "now get up and go do what is yours to do to be a part of change that is needed."

Yes, we need to Pause. Breathe. Pray. But we ALSO need to live out love.  Our actions speak louder than our words and prayers.

We need to put our faith into action and come beside the hurting and do what we can to help prevent this from happening again.

I can't say what that means for you, but I know for me I will start by joining the conversation on gun control in our country.  I am not a political person.  I am a human who believes in taking care of other humans.  

Mother Teresa said, 

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  

I commit to belonging to you and doing what I can do to be sure you are taken care of.

With love and hope,

Shawn

 

 

 

A New Season

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When seasons change, I find myself adjusting to accommodate for the change in temperatures.  For example, in the fall, a cozy sweater replaces my tank top. Fuzzy socks replace my flip flops.  And a cup of comforting soup replaces a crisp salad.

I find myself in a new season of life.  Yet it is one that I have never experienced before, life after cancer.  I am finding that I need to adjust for this change but it isn't as simple as I expected it to be.  What I am realizing is that I can't jump back into my old shoes, my old patterns, my old life.  I have new shoes to wear, new foods to eat and a new path to travel in this new season.

I am taking things moment by moment, day by day praying for discernment and clarity to know which steps forward I need to take.

Maybe you too have entered a new season of life such as your kids started school,  you've had a baby, you are retired, you're newly single, you have lost a loved one, you too are healing from a health scare, etc.

I invite you to join me as we start this new day, this new week, this new month, to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

And join me in letting go of our old season, our old self.  If we hold on to the past, it inhibits us from fully moving into the future.  Let us choose to move forward into the unknown of this new season with a hopeful heart.  

I know for me it is tempting to fill up my days with commitments to just fill this empty space that was filled with appointments for the past nine months.  But instead of filling the space, I have been asking myself, what if I chose to be still with God and asked for wisdom and guidance in my next steps?  What if instead of making my own plans, I truly allowed God to direct my steps in this new season?  I know it is easier said than done but I whole heartedly believe this is the path that will help me ~ and you ~ move into this next season with greater ease and peace.  

As our seasons of life change, may we take time to adjust and choose to be still and allow God to direct our steps.

With love and hope,

Shawn

 

 

 

Detour on the Backroads

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This weekend my husband and I took a road trip to Vermont to celebrate his 40th birthday.  

When we were leaving one, of the gracious owners of where we stayed gave us this map.  He had highlighted a route with stops along the way if we took the longer way, off the highway.  We weren't in a rush and left early enough to take this beautiful drive through the Green Mountainside.  

There was so much about this trip that nourished me.  This stillness and beauty of the colorful landscape, the quaint places we visited that we would have missed if we were on the highway, and being with Stephen, often in silence.  Simply being together was enough.

As I come back to my "new normal" as people call it, I am not interested in hopping back on the highway of life, speeding by people and places that will nourish me. 

Instead I plan to go slow on the backroads.  Creating margins in my day to spend quality time with others, to pause to enjoy the views, and to stop into places and connect with people.  

I know the highway calls my name but the backroads call my soul.

I share this as an invitation for you to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

And take the next exit off the highway with me.  Join me on the backroads for a ride much simpler and sweeter.  It will take us being directional, not intentional, to make it happen.

"Direction, not intention determines your destination.  You can have the best intentions to go to Florida but if you hop on the highway heading North, you will never get there.  You need to move in the direction of your destination." -Andy Stanley

In order to take the backroads, we can't just intend to do it, we need to make a choice and actually take the exit off the highway.  Every day we have a choice...let's just start with today.

I hope to see you on the backroads.  Maybe I will run into you at the country store, while I am sipping on some tea and enjoy the beautiful views - in between soccer, football and softball practices;-)  

With love and hope,

Shawn

 

 

 

I Get To

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When I looked at my calendar for this week I saw I had three curriculum nights scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, one for each child.  I was honestly overwhelmed at the thought of going to all of them.  Then tonight as I drove into the parking lot I had an "I get to" moment.

"I get to" be here at curriculum night.  "I get to" meet my child's teachers and classmate's parents. "I get to" do the mundane tasks as a mom like go to three curriculum nights this week.

Last spring I would have done anything to experience these moments as a mom instead of going through my cancer treatments.

I share this because I am not the only parent who has curriculum night(s) this week.  Yet I may be one of a few who had an "I get to" moment tonight.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by the commitments the start of the school year brings, remember there are parents who would love to be doing the mundane beside you but who aren't able to.  And as grateful as I am tonight for my "I get to" moment, my heart is with those families who don't get to be there for whatever reason, including the families in Houston, those in the path of Hurricane Irma, those impacted by the fires out west, (the list could go on and on) who right now would love life to be as comfortable as ours is right now going to curriculum night(s).

Opening our eyes to see the broader picture of what's really in front of us can give us perspective.

I invite you to join me in taking a moment to...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

As grateful as I am be to be here and experiencing life with my family, I hope I never forget to look beyond my own circumstances and gain perspective on what really matters in life and that is loving other people; from those right beside us to those half way around the world.  

I pray that those of us whose lives are comfortable right now not settle in and get stuck in our routines.  My hope is that instead use what we have - whether it is our time, energy and/or our resources- to reach out to help those who could use it.

It's a privilege to "get to" be the one who helps others, brightening their future, and our own.

With hope,

Shawn

Give A Little Love

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So this happened. Yes, that is my kindergartener's little forehead peeking out.  Today is his first day of school...

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

All three are back to school and filled with joy for their day ahead.  

Me? 

Well, I am happy for them and sad for me.  

I had a nice cry but now I have a choice to sit and dwell or live out love instead. 

I choose to live out love instead.  

What do I mean?

I learned when I was diagnosed back in January that I could get wrapped up in my story or continue to live out love.  It was a seesaw between the two but I kept trying to lean into living out love.  

Why?

Because love heals the soul.

For example, within days of my diagnosis a need came my way and I was able to coordinate a clothing collection for kids in Haiti.  Every day when I walked in my breezeway, I was filled with joy because I knew we were doing God's work, even with cancer.

The sadness I feel right now is tempting me to sit here and dwell on it. But instead, like my diagnosis, I want to use these emotions as fuel to see more clearly the work that is mine to do for God.

Houston is on my heart, as I am sure it is on yours.  I am not coordinating a collection but I did want to ask each of you to consider this...

Make a choice today to NOT spend money on something and instead choose to donate what you would have spent to our neighbors in Houston.

OR

Make a choice that whatever you spend on your family today, you will match it, donating the same amount to Houston. 

Many of you have been keeping everyone in Houston in your thoughts and prayers.  Praying for others is all some of you may be able to do.

But for those that have resources available, please join me by living out love towards our neighbors in Houston; caring for them as we would like to be cared for if we were in the same circumstances.

Whether you have a little one heading off to Kindergarten or there is something else weighing on your heart, choose to live out love today - to those in Houston or wherever else you see a need.  It is a gift to be able to see beyond our own circumstances and meet the need(s) of someone else.  Choosing to come beside those in need is what we are here to do.  And while we are helping them, we are healing ourselves at the same time.  

With hope,

Shawn

"Love your neighbor as yourself" - Mark 12:31

Life Lesson

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School starts tomorrow for my three kids. My little one goes off to kindergarten and let's just say my husband offered to get me a fish to keep me company. Yep, I am one of those moms who will send them off with a big smile and then shed tears after the bus has left. The only bonus is I will have more time to write... 

I will have A LOT of time to write... 

Anyways, I thought I'd take some time to talk with my kids about what it will take for their year to be successful.

Reflecting back to our trip to Acadia, I showed my kids pictures of them hiking Cadillac Mountain. It was a 3 1/2 mile hike with a steady climb. Watching them do this hike had me think about the character qualities it took them to get to the top of the mountain.

Patience
Perseverance
Focus
Courage
Determination
Being flexible to the pace of others
Willingness to do the work and overcome challenges
Strength of heart to see it through to the end
Encouraging words toward self and those around you
Endurance

At the top of the mountain, as I watched them look at the beautiful view with gratitude and appreciation, the sense of accomplishment they had was priceless.

I complimented them, not on being great hikers, but on the character qualities they exhibited while hiking to accomplish such a feat.

My hope for Stephen and I is that our children know we are not focused on their grades or test scores.  Instead that we are focused on developing their character so they can be successful in school and in life.

What it took for our children to climb that mountain will also serve them this year in school. And just like on that mountain, Stephen and I will be there beside them, not doing the work for them, but walking beside them, encouraging them every step of the way.

With love and hope,
Shawn

Build Your Life on the Rock

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This week we took an inspiring walk along the shore of Acadia, Maine.  We walked on the coarse sand at Sand Beach and on the captivating rocks along the shore from Sand Beach to Otter Point.

As we walked along the rocks God laid on my heart "live life with your family and teach them more about me through your experiences."  

I was so enraptured by this wisdom.

Teach them who God is by experiencing life with them- not just sitting with them at home teaching them about God or sitting beside them at church, but by experiencing life with them.  

Kids learn better by experiences!

I loved this idea and as we walked, I kept seeing opportunities to teach our children about God and His character.  I started taking pictures to capture those moments and figured I would show the pictures to my kids teaching them more about God from our experiences together.  

One lesson from this walk was about the difference between the rocks and the sand.

When I asked them what it was like to walk in the sand they shared it was soft and moves with your feet rather than supporting your feet.

"What was it like to walk on the rocks?" I asked them.

They shared the rocks were solid, stable and didn't shift.

I continued by asking them if they were to build a home, which surface would they prefer to build their home on, the rock or sand?

They all confidently stated on the rock.

"Why?" I inquired.

Because it is a strong foundation.

Because it's doesn't move easily.

Because it is stable.

"When the storms come through, which house will hold up better against the storms?" I questioned.

They all agreed the house built on the rock.

I concluded by sharing with them that each of us is building a house and that house is our lives.  We have a choice on what foundation we will build our life; on the solid foundation of God, the rock, which is a strong, stable foundation - or -on the shifting, unsteady sand of society/other people's opinions, etc.  And when the storms of life come through for you, which foundation will you prefer to have built your house/life on?

The rock.

And just like the rest of us, my children have a choice to build their lives on the sand or the rock.  I can't choose for them but I will do my best to show them by my own life how choosing God has given me a solid foundation and has helped me through the storms in life whatever they be.

With hope,

Shawn

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” - Matthew 7:24-27

Good news...

Beautiful day in Boston.  

My appointment went well. My head scans look good👍🏻 I do need to get a biopsy on my thyroid so continued prayers are appreciated that that will go well. From here on out, unless I hear otherwise I am considering myself cancer free😁

I am grateful for all my doctors, nurses and support staff at Mass Eye and Ear and MGH. It is comforting to be in such good hands🙏

Thank you for all the love, prayers, positive thoughts our way.💝🙏😊

Now I am going to sit back and enjoy the rest of the ride home with my guy and hug my kids a little tighter when I get home💝

Oh and one more thing, please join me to take a moment to...

Pause. Breathe. and Pray for those who got different results today.

Thank you💕

With love, gratitude and hope,
Shawn