These little lights of mine…

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

It’s a simple lyric really, but sometimes the simplest things hit you the hardest. What started as a cute gift idea for Max’s first birthday has ROCKED my world into oblivion.

I’m one of those crazy people who reads blogs to the point where I feel a part of someone’s life. Like their family almost. One day I found myself talking about my friend Kelly and Brad said, you know she’s not  your friend, right? LOL ~ well yes, i do know she’s not my FIRL (friend in real life) but I think she could be if given the chance. My friend, my actual friend in real life, Jennifer McKinney is an amazing blogger and mom. I met her through her blog and she photographed our family and even stayed with us in Nashville when Cooper was about three weeks old and took her newborn photos.

Photo by Jennifer McKinney.

Being a Nashvillian, I follow local blogs of some really great people. I was introduced to the blogs of Jessica & Matthew Paul Turner through Angie Smith’s online blogs and book clubs. I said all that to say this. Matthew Paul Turner just released a children’s book that teaches children in a fun and exciting way that God Made Light. My thoughts were that this would be a great book to introduce Cooper and Max to how God formed the very beginnings of creation. Since Max’s birthday is today, I ordered it on Amazon Prime and it showed up two days ago.

Since then, my world has been rocked.

Rocked by a children’s book.

Rocked by a God whose love for us is so vast.

Rocked by the responsibility and joy for my little lights.

Here is the page that rocked my world:

2014-10-30 11.30.58

“You’re as spendid as lightning when it flashes so bright

’cause on the day you were born, God said, “Let there be light!”

When I got to this page, I wept. Wept like a baby. The thought that God created Cait, Logan, Cooper and Max as HIS LIGHT,  it hit me as a ton of bricks. God said let there be light when He made my kids, when He made me, when He made you. We are the light that God made, not just the moon and the stars and the sun, US.

God gave me four incredible lights to nurture and grow. He trusted ME with maintaining their wicks, keeping their oil clean and making sure their flames stayed glowing bright. These kids, these parts of my DNA, they are the light of the world, that is what God created them to be.

Jesus said in Matthew 5: 14-16  14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Some days I could go crazy having 6 people in the house. Two adult kiddos and two kiddos under three and then us makes for interested days and sometimes emotions run from laughing, crying, fighting and back to laughing. All in the span of about 15-20 minutes. Other days, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I was a really young mom with Cait and Logan and I’ve learned the way I parented then was not always the best. I hope they see as we all learn to parent these little people that it’s okay to be wrong, it’s okay to find a better way and it’s okay to lean on your family.

These lights, these miracles of mine I want them to shine brightly so that others can see Him in them. I have made myself think about my children in the terms of light. What kind of light are they? What can I do to make them more shiny, more ablaze for life? What have I done to snuff their lights, to obscure the light that God intended to ooze out of them daily? What can I do different going forward to keep them glowing?

Cait is my radiant beam. She is my right arm, I’m really not sure what I would do without her. She reminds me so much of myself but she is a much better version. She is the best big sister in the world. My hope is that she’s still learning from me while I am still learning from her. I honestly can say I’ve seen her grown and mature more in the last year than I thought possible. She is sure of herself and is beginning to plan out where she truly wants life to take her.

Logan is my vivid streak of light. What he believes and feels is always done with great passion. Logan is so much like his Dad when it comes to being a jokester and an instigator but if he is on your side, no one else should come against you. Logan works three jobs and is saving money to travel the world. Whether that happens or he chooses a different path completely, I know he will illuminate whatever corner of the world his is in.

Cooper is an unclouded glowing light that was unexpected but makes our world a completely amazing place. She is funny and silly and loves to sing and dance. She’s also opinionated, sassy, loving and stubborn. She loves her “maxie boy” as she calls him and gets really upset when she sees him cry. My hope is that she continues to glow unfettered by the world around her. I hope she continues to sing and dance with confidence.

Max, my last little light, he is one today. He is a flashing, shiny, sunny light that warms every single person he meets. Max oozes smiles and giggles. He rarely cries and always has a dimpled grin for the camera. He is a fast moving train and we have always compared dressing him to wrestling an alligator. We are so blessed that God gave us this sweet spirited boy as the closer of our family. I am overwhelmed by the joy that he brings to our days.

Today is bittersweet because Max is One. It is bitter because he is about to walk, learning new words every day and he needs us less than he did yesterday. It is bitter because while I am fine with him being the last, there is something that is grievous to knowing I will never carry another baby, knowing I will never feel another kick from within or hear the little heart beat on an ultrasound. It is sweet because I know I won’t have many more sleepless nights, heartburn or gestational diabetes again. It is sweet because I know they all four still need me to help nurture the flames in both big ways and small.

Am I doing that right? I’m not sure but I know that I’m trying and as parents that’s all we can do, try. All we can do is make ourselves approachable and available. We can makes sure our homes are full, of love and grace and prayer. We can guide them when they ask and we can pray for them when they don’t. Whatever we do, we need to let our little lights SHINE!

The Battle Within

No one knows the battle we are personally fighting. Everyone has a battle, because we are all in a war, a war with life. We are in a war with circumstances, our pasts, our desires, depression, shortcomings, etc. How do we equip ourselves for these battles  that cannot be fought with guns and knives and the black op fanfare of a PS4 game?

In a house with two gamers, I’ve seen just about every strategy out there. I’ve watched them watch strategies on you tube and videos of other people playing that are known for strategy. I’ve watched then talk to their teams on Bluetooth and shout where the enemy is so they can encircle them and attack.

See I’m in a battle right now, a battle that no one but me really knows. One that wrestles with my heart night and day and barely allows me to sleep without dreams that terrify me. I wake up in fear of a phone call or text that may ruin my day. I walk through the day in dread of unpleasant situations coming my way and having to face them.

I feel like I’m surrounded by that team of enemies and they are shouting in their bluetooths pointing to where I am. My teammates are getting taken out one by one and now, I only have a few trustworthy and loyal people left.

The leader of the team, Fear, tells his men to keep reminding me of my teen and young adult life where he ruled over me and caused me to build relationships based on fear instead of love.

Fear tells unworthy to remind me that unless I’m falling in line with the status quo I’m not worthy of true friendship, love and grace.

Fear tells depression, attack her family, if you can’t attack her, start attacking those she loves more than herself. Cause her to cry because she can’t help the very ones she vowed to love forever except with encouragement, love and understanding.

Fear tells exhaustion, overtake her, because she’s tired anyway. Keep her awake and when she does sleep, let her dreams reflect uneasiness.

Fear tells money to steer clear of her, make her worry you won’t show up on time. Make her think this new business venture was a pipe dream and a really bad idea.

Fear tells judgment whisper about how she and her daughter choose to wear their hair but smile snidely. Laugh about how bold she appears to be but you know she’s insecure and can be emotionally manipulated. Talk about her faults like they are entertainment.

Fear tells alienation make sure they aren’t included or asked but be sure they hear about all the events on Instagram and Facebook. Fear says make empty promises to her family and watch it make her grow bitter.

Fears team is feeling pretty good right now but I have news for them, I woke up with a battle cry on my heart today. Last night as we lay in bed talking, brad said to me, promise me you won’t stop fighting. I’m pretty sure that fear didn’t appreciate those   words and honestly I didn’t either at the moment. I promised him anyway because he’s on my side.

Fear told me that my emotional investment in my life, my family, my church and my business is just not worth the effort. Fear told me to run. Fear told me that I don’t have a community. Fear told me that good change doesn’t happen and proceeded to prove it by his team. Fear even convinced me to apply for a full time job to take me away from my family and business.

I woke up today with a fresh outlook. Good or bad, I’m taking on the day. I will deal with situations I hate and I will do my best to take fear out of the equation and trust in my team. David said it in Psalm 118:6 “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

How am I going to fight this battle, with multiple things warring against me. I’m going to retreat and get my bearings, I’m going to strategize and then I’m going to dig in my heels and fight like a girl.

I’m going to fight from my heart and for my heart. The enemy will not win this fight that is within me and around me. My husband and babies will get the best parts of me. My best friends will feel loved and supported. My business will thrive. My heart will heal. My family will feel valued. These things I declare as my war cry today.

When you see me I wont be any different than I was before you read these words.  You may see a smile because that’s what soldiers do, soldiers put on their game face and go to war. That’s not fake, its strategy. Its an action to throw off the enemy and sometimes it’s the only thing that allows you to survive.

Because in this war I discovered, Fear lies….that’s right! Fear takes truths and puts its own spin on them and makes them out to be more than they are. Fear causes assumptions, divisions, hurts and rifts that no one meant to happen. Fear is who we battle, not each other.

Weary

weary quote

Just some sentences…..

I’m tired.

I have a beautiful family.

I’m stressed.

I love the curtains in our new office.

Life is coming at me faster than I really care for these days.

I love Brad’s cologne.

Success feels like failure sometimes.

Caitlin is beautiful, inside and out.

Transitions are one of the hardest things for me to deal with.

Washi tape is of Jesus.

Depression sucks when it affects anyone you know.

Cooper has the face of an angel.

I’m weary.

Logan is one of my favorite people.

There are days I want to just live next door to my mom again.

Our new office is open.

Not following through on a promise a pet peeve of mine.

Max’s Cheeks. (that is a sentence)

Worlds change, and we have to adapt or move on

I am not going to give up.

…..just some sentences.

weary in well doing

On the brink of breaking

For the last five days I’ve been traveling to and from Florida on business. We are on the cusp of some big business moves and the training, brainstorming and marketing sessions that we attended are changing the face of how we do things at MedLink.

This is an exciting and scary time because since I started this venture at my kitchen table in 2007, we’ve grown a little at a time. That worked for a long time and then a series of events happened from 2012 – 2013 that made us start going backwards. We ended up having to cut everyone’s pay and even laid off an employee. Until you’ve had to tell someone you love that you’re cutting their pay or that you are eliminating your job, you don’t know how tough it is to be the owner of something. Knowing that people we love and respect depend on this business to make their bills weighs heavy on us all the time.

The first of the year started out bleak and Brad came to me and said that God had spoke to him and let him know this would be one of our best years yet. I wasn’t so sure it was God, maybe some bad pizza. Surely as bad as things were going for us, that couldn’t be true. As the year unfolded I doubted him and God more and more. As we cut pay, said goodbye to an employee, saw struggles in our personal life and those around us who we love I thought maybe that God whispered too soon or Brad was full of wishful thinking.

An opportunity came to us about 6 weeks ago. An opportunity to expand our business and take a leap of faith. We brought in an investor who believes in us and what we do. We rented a store front. We went to Florida for training. I’m meeting this week with the sign guy and picking out paint colors for the new office. Its been a tornado of activity and in the back of mind I keep hearing Brad say “God says this is going to be a good year for us”.

We went to the ocean on Sunday and as I sat alone I on the edge of gulf of mexico I watched the waves as they crashed. Some were tiny and some were so big they almost knocked me back. In fact, a few did knock me backward as I basked in the sun. I’m going to hold onto those memories for a long time and hold onto that promise that God gave us because I am those waves.

We have been on the brink of breaking for the last two years. Every time I feel like we can’t take one more disappointed look from our kids or give someone news that they don’t want to hear, God had folded us over like those waves and didn’t allow me to break. He allowed me and Brad to bend into Him and each other and take the brunt of it together. Those waves remind me that as the tide as went out, it will come in again, reshaping the landscape into something new and beautiful.

Just as we put our toes in the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and then ran in like 10 year olds full of life and carefree, we are going to jump into this new chapter and take this business in a new direction and believe that we can swim and not drown. We are going to trust in each other and our plan and see a new landscape form into something beautiful, one wave at a time.

Where have I been hiding?

Picture

That’s what asked myself yesterday. Where have I been hiding? I haven’t blogged in almost a year and a half and I’ve missed it. A few days ago I downloaded a little app called Timehop and it shows your posts on social media from the past few years.

Yesterday the app showed a blog I had written. As I read over the blog two things came to mind. 1. I miss blogging. 2. I’m a pretty good writer.

So, I’m going to tell you more about where I’ve been hiding.  The short is I’ve been working, raising babies, loving my bigs, growing as a person, a mother and a wife. More than ever, my family is my world and I feel blessed beyond measure that God chose me to be their Mama and wife. The long of it will come in the days and weeks that follow as I personally time hop back through events and situations and share how God has shown himself faithful and how even when I have recently walked through paths that have more questions than answers, still I feel close to Him

The landscape of our world looks much differently than I could ever imagined it would and sometimes I still can’t believe this is my life. I’m getting a chance to live life to the fullest.. Psalm 32:7 says “For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.”

So while I am coming out of internet ‘hiding’, I won’t be leaving my hiding place, my place of refuge. God is doing and will continue to do wonderful works, we just have to look around and see how far we’ve come.

18

18 years ago today ~ you lit up our life ~ you continue to do so ~ whether being funny, sarcastic, sensitive or crazy ~ you have so many sides that sometimes I think there are two of you!

2 Logans

There is the nerdy book-side of you that is happy to read anything from the Magic Tree House Books to Charles Dickens. Then there is the you that plays on the floor with your sister and makes her face light up. There’s the you that writes crazy  songs about Frying Men and there’s the you that is quick with a hug when someone seems down.

in a book

There is the over achiever in you that likes to graduate early from school and make sure all things are lined up correctly even if that is just the empty coke cans you put in the kitchen but don’t quite get them into the trash. There’s the you that doesn’t study for hardly anything because you don’t really have to (which is annoying).
kindergarten

There is the you that loves classical music but also loves Pink Floyd. Then there is the you who loves Christmas music and knows almost all the Conway Twitty songs word for word.

Logan 5

There is the you that wants to travel the world and see everything and the you that loves to stay holed up in your room for hours on end.  There’s the you that loves with your whole heart and the you that doesn’t care to speak you mind when you believe in something.

Logan Smile

I love all of these parts of you and they make you the best son a mom could ask for. So today, you are an adult. You can buy cigarettes and playboy magazines, lottery tickets and go to clubs. Thankfully, because of who you are, you won’t do any of those things and I love who you’ve been, who you are, and who you are becoming.

These gifts, these traits will take you far because you know who you are, you know what you believe and you won’t be swayed from what is the right path for your travels. It has been my honor to even have fostered any of these traits in you these last 18 years and I love you! It is my prayer that you have the best year ever and that you continue to grow in the grace and mercy of God and be the best adult Logan you can be.

Mom

Months 10 & 11

Just because I’ve not been on top of my blogging game lately doesn’t mean we’ve stopped taking pictures or enjoying all the new things Cooper does on a daily basis. It is so hard to believe that in less than one month she will be one.  As she sits beside me jumping up and down and going from laughter to tears and back, I realize just how blessed we are with this fiesty, funny, emotion-filled, cuddler that brightens every single day of our lives.

Here are her 10/11 months Photos.

10and11 months pictures

It seems like every day Cooper does something new. Like seriously, she can be throwing a fit with tears streaming down her face and then laughing like two seconds later. This child is really coming into her own and she is very opinionated.

Things I like to Do

Here are the last two months in pictures ~ Christmas, New Years and so much more. She now crawls everywhere and pulls up on everything. She is over 20 lbs now and can say Mama, Dada and Bye Bye ~ she says other stuff that only she can understand.

3 Christmases Collage

 

Christmas Morning Collage

She would rather eat on her own than let you help her so meal time is always interesting. She still sleeps about 10-12 hours per night but her day time naps are few and far between.

Making Messes While Mama Works

 

1-25-13 Logan Watches Cooper

 

 

Crazy How I Sleep Cooper and Evie Do Lunch New Years Eve

 

As you can see, we’ve been pretty busy and now it’s time to plan for my birthday party coming up very soon!

Hope you’ve enjoyed catching up with us!

 

Shelly