Losing a Child | Fierce Friday

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Happy Fierce Friday, friends! Today’s story is heartbreaking, but full of hope and inspiration. Tracy is a #fiercelyHis reader and I so appreciate her reaching out to me to share her story.  I just know you’ll be inspired as I was.

Tracy's story on losing her child to a Wilm's tumor, how she didn't let the pain make her bitter.

a shattered heart.

I walked into the bedroom Caleb and Logan shared. It felt hollow, without laughter or play. Logan’s crib was on one side of the room and Caleb’s twin bed was on the other. The toys they played with together were scattered across the room. As I looked around it occurred to me that this was the farthest Caleb had ever been from us…

Because his lifeless body lay three hours away on a cold bed that was being prepared for burial.

I was no longer there for him.
He no longer needed me by his side.

Caleb would never walk into this room again.

As I sat on his bed I picked up his pillow, searching for his scent.

All I smelled was a clean pillowcase. 

I rocked back and forth, clutching his pillow as it absorbed my shattered heart.

faith.

How am I going to do this?
How am I going to be the mother I am intended to be for Logan?
How am I going to be the virtuous wife I desire to be to my husband when we are both so broken?  

I needed God more than ever and I begged Him to not fail me. 

There was silence and I felt numb.

I sat in the stillness knowing that God was with me, even though His omnipresence felt impossible.

It was then that I decided that I would not allow the loss of Caleb to cripple me as a mother or wife. I wanted something good to come out of all of this.

I decided to fight.

shattered hearts 1

life.

Allow me to backtrack. My name is Tracy and I became a mother at the age of 19 years old. Life was going well for us and I was happy. I was also pregnant with our 2nd child.

We were actively involved in the choir at our church. There was a women who volunteered to watch Caleb during choir practice.  She loved playing with our beautiful blonde headed, blue-eyed little boy. Caleb seemed abnormally irritable and she also noticed a lump on his abdomen. She suggested we take him to the Dr. Honestly we weren’t that concerned and didn’t think it was a big deal, but decided that it might be a good idea just to be safe.

At my next prenatal check up I asked my Dr. about it. It makes me shutter because I almost forgot. He ordered blood work and an ultrasound to be done the next day.

That was January, 2000 and it forever changed my life. I was told Caleb had Wilms Tumor. It is a type of cancer you are born with but you cannot detect until you become a toddler and then it grows rapidly. Caleb’s tumor was the size of a small melon. 

I will never forget calling my husband. He drove him immediately.

The next day we drove three hours to get to the hospital to have Caleb’s tumor removed.

death.

Caleb was a trooper and he fought cancer for a year but it came back with a vengeance attacking every part of his body. A God so lovingly and patiently waiting until we were ready for him to go home, he died in my arms while my husband and I sang his favorite song.

We drove three hours to get home that day.

I couldn’t talk on the way home. 

Did my son just pass away, or was this a bad dream and I would wake up and hug my boys tighter and thank God for them?

You can do a lot of soul-searching in three hours…

Gazing out the window I knew the choice I was about to make was going to heal or destroy my relationship with God. 

The Christian songs on the radio reminded me that He had not forsaken me.

I chose to give God all of my pain knowing that I would probably pick it back up again. I’ve learned that it’s difficult to keep the pain of the past at God’s feet. 

I made the choice that day to not allow myself to become bitter. I would trust.

I can now say it was an honor for God to think I was strong enough to go through the loss of a child.

Caleb would have been 19 years old on December 23, 2016. I posted a picture of Caleb with a tribute that I’d like to share with you:

Caleb- I can hardly believe that you would be 19 years old today.The day you left this world you took the innocence of my youth with you but you have left a legacy. Not a day passes where you do not grace my mind with your presence. The tears come less often than they once did, but they still fall with the same weighted pain of your absence tied to them. This year I started to write a book and part of it is about you. I hope with time it will be published. What they say about with time it gets easier, they are right in a way. The memories of when you were sick had faded away, but this year I needed them to come back to remember. Everything came flooding back like it had just happened.This time it was looking at memories from a bystander.I feel I inherited an incredible amount of knowledge and wisdom from your passing, things that can only come from surviving tragedy. There is also a deep level of compassion and empathy that I now have, and an understanding of people. For that, I cannot be anything other than grateful. Thank you. I hope you’re doing well on the other side. but I’ll meet you again in the sky one day. and I’ll continue to let those last words you spoke that I can remember keep ringing in my ear: “ Mommy Jesus is with me”. Today as a family we have enjoyed talking about what you were what could have been and whats going to be.

Love you,
Mom, Dad, Logan, and Allison

God has been my comforter in peace and he too will be that to you today!

Tracy is a fighter!

Tracy loves God deeply and is always longing to go deeper in her walk with Him. She is a wife and a mother and is active in her church where she plays the piano and is a coordinator for the deaf ministry. Tracy is passionate about everything she does and is in the process of writing her first book. She would love to hear from you! You can contact either tracyblount78@yahoo.com or http://Facebook.com/tracy.blount

I always enjoy hearing from you! Can you identify with Tracy’s story? I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Also, would you do me a favor —if you resonate with this article or it has helped you today— would you share it with someone else? Maybe a friend, coworker, or family member…?

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Things that Inspire

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Our world is so over-saturated with technology. We can get anything we want at the click of a button, can’t we? While that’s really cool and convenient, it can be a bit overwhelming. We have things coming at us from all sides, and I don’t know about you but..hello -brain- overload! It’s hard to be inspired when there’s just so much, ya know? Today’s post isn’t anything special, it’s very light-hearted as I just wanted to share with you a couple things that have inspired me lately.

It seems our world is in need of a little inspiration, wouldn’t you agree?

Our world could use a little inspiration, wouldn't you agree? This is just a light hearted article about things that inspire me. Enjoy!

THINGS THAT INSPIRE

1.) Jack Garratt | Surprise Yourself

I love all types of music. Christian, rock, pop, jazz, country, etc… And call me weird, but I really REALLY love it when I find secular music that speaks to me.  I had never heard of Jack Garratt before my daughter Alex introduced me to his music. The first time I heard this song I couldn’t stop crying. Literally. I played it over and over.  It wrecked me. The message is so powerful and inspirational, and not only that- the way he sings it is just..inspirational. It’s a song that can speak to everyone and anyone, so take a listen. The video I linked to above isn’t the official video, but it’s still a good one.

2.) Uninvited | Lysa Terkeurst

And speaking of being wrecked. WOW this book did the same. I love books and there have only been a couple of books that literally spoke directly to me. It was as if Lysa was literally TALKING TO ME. She was. I know she was. Her book is about feeling rejected, left out, lonely and less than. If you’ve ever felt the sting of rejection. Or in my case a sting that turned into a big whelp and caused my throat to swell and I had to be intubated and I almost died…

ok well, maybe I’m being a bit over-dramatic..but you get what I’m saying.

If you’ve been through anything like that then this is your book. I was being dramatic there but I did go through a really hard rejection 3 or so years ago and thank God he brought me through it. I wish this book would have been out then, but the timing is perfect. It came out last year and it really helped me reflect on feelings that I had that were normal, and that I had felt guilty for. I’m actually working on a blog post about that rejection that I experienced. It’s coming soon. But Lysa’s book not helped me through some of those feelings on rejection, it also helped me with a friendship that I’ve lost recently.

This is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“There is an abundant need in this world for your exact brand of beautiful.”

There is an abundant need in this world for your exact brand of beautiful-@LysaTerkeurst Click To Tweet

Man oh man did I need to hear those words! So- if you’ve ever felt left out…if you’ve ever felt lonely….less than…then RUN and get this book now! PS. you’re beautiful:-) and the world needs it!

Our world could use a little inspiration, wouldn't you agree? This is just a light hearted article about things that inspire me. Enjoy!

3.) Girl Set Free | Amy Kratzer

I’ve told you about Amy before, we met last year. Honestly we didn’t have a chance to talk much, but when we did it was powerful. I felt connected to her in such a cool way. Like, a soul-sister type way. She founded an organization called “Girl Set Free” which is an ethical lifestyle clothing brand that uses fashion and design to empower survivors of exploitation around the world. Basically Amy and GSF designs clothing that is made in Nepal by survivors of human trafficking. I love everything about what she stands for. She empowers women all over the world by what she does.

Amy and GSF are doing something to impact thousands! I really trust and believe in her organization. Please check out her website. 

Amy inspires me. We’re going to meet up later this year and I couldn’t be more thrilled. If you have instagram you should follow her account! Be inspired by what she has done and what she is doing now to effect the lives of women who have been exploited!

4.) Soulscripts | Jordan Lee’s Instagram account

I recently found her Instagram account and I just really love it. It’s been a huge inspiration to me! You should take a look, follow it and then go to her profile and look up her website! Hey..psstt..while you’re on instagram…you should follow my Instagram account!  😉

5.) Freedom

Yesterday was the most beautiful day. There was snow on the ground and the sun was shining brightly. It was warm! And the air was crisp and clean. Me and John went on a cute bike ride. Yes, it was cute. I’m thankful and inspired that I am free.

What inspires you?  If you’re struggling right now at finding inspiration, I want to encourage you to just look around you and within you. You’ll find something, I promise.

“I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

I always enjoy hearing from you! Please take a minute to say ‘hi’ and share your thoughts below. 

Also, would you do me a favor —if you resonate with this article or it has helped you today— would you share it with someone else? Maybe a friend, coworker, or family member…?

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Loving Yourself: A Revolution

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What if loving yourself had nothing to do with you and everything to do with loving others? Start a revolution of loving yourself. When we love ourselves we can love others better!

My youngest daughter, Averee is an absolute joy. Anyone that knows her is completely shaking their heads in agreement right now. She’s always had this joy about her, and while that’s one of her greatest qualities, its not the greatest.

She loves herself.

And it’s as if she doesn’t even know any better. She loves herself in the most innocent way. It’s one of my most favorite things about her. In the bible Jesus says we should love our neighbor as our self. It’s like he assumes that we already love ourselves.

I do love myself….I think..??? But can we chat about it for a minute?

What if loving yourself had nothing to do with you and everything to do with loving others? Start a revolution of loving yourself. When we love ourselves we can love others better!

Loving yourself

The self-love I’m talking about has nothing to do with drinking lots of water, doing yoga, getting plenty of rest, or getting a manicure every once in a while, etc… although all those things are real nice it’s not where I’m going.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39
 I’ve heard it, I know you’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it:  we can’t fully love others until we fully love ourselves. I’m sure that’s a topic that could be up for debate…because while I don’t think I fully love myself I can tell you that I love my family with every fiber of my being. I can’t see how I could love them any more than I do but what if I could?

Could I love them better? Could I love other people better? What if self-love really had nothing to do with us, but those that we love and the world around us? Wouldn’t that be ironic? And really cool?

What if self-love had nothing to do with you, and EVERYTHING to do with loving others? Click To Tweet

Loving yourself isn’t focusing on yourself. It has nothing to do with self-absorption or selfishness. Instead of an inward focus, it’s outward.

You guys know my story. If you haven’t heard it, you can click there and take a read. (grab ya a cup of coffee though…it’s long, but you won’t be sorry you read it) I write about how through a traumatic time in my marriage, I learned just how much Jesus Christ loved me. I learned that I was worthy of His love. I also learned that I was worthy of my own love..because let me tell you, there was a point where I hated myself pretty bad. And honestly, there are times that I still fight to love of myself. Moments when thoughts of past failures come creeping in and I must fight to rid them.

I am worthy of my own love. And so are you. 

It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past.

God will not forget you, you are engraved on the palm of his hand.
He has a plan, a purpose for you.
He knows exactly how many hairs you have on your head.
He knew you before you were born! 

Isn’t it cool that the same God who made the mountains, oceans and galaxies looked at YOU and thought the world needs one of YOU too?!

What if loving yourself had nothing to do with you and everything to do with loving others? Start a revolution of loving yourself. When we love ourselves we can love others better!

(image: pinterest)

Loving yourself: A Revolution

Webster defines revolution like this: a sudden, radical or complete change in something.

Love is a choice. A choice is made in the matter of seconds. So, what if we actually just chose to love ourselves?

And what does that even mean? I mean, what does it look like for someone to love themselves. I think you’ll have to figure out what it means for you. This is what it looks like for me:

What if loving yourself had nothing to do with you and everything to do with loving others? Start a revolution of loving yourself. When we love ourselves we can love others better!

Loving myself means that I am content and joyfully grounded always in the love of God and the steady focus on His image. It means that I’m so focused on His love that I naturally love myself and I don’t know any better. It’s just a given. Natural. It means that I have complete acceptance, forgiveness and respect for who God created me to be including all of the beautiful parts as well as all of the hideous parts.

This year, one of my goals is to de-clutter. I want to de-clutter my heart and my soul. I want to listen to His voice better. I want to love others better and love myself better.

Will you join me? ‘Cause right now, I could really use a tribe of fierce girls! I love you…I really, really do.

I absolutely love hearing from you! Please take a minute to say ‘hi’ and share your thoughts below.

Also, would you do me a favor —if you resonate with this article or it has helped you today— would you share it with someone else? Maybe a friend, coworker, or family member…?

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On sweets, valleys and getting up on the mountain.

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Sweets.

On sweets, valleys and mountains

I really like chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes and wedding cake (but only with buttercream icing) and well…, just about anything sweet. My precious little Grandma passed away in September 2016 and she gave me something early on in my life that I don’t think I’ll ever forgive her for (sorry Grams)…a sweet tooth.

She gave me a sweet tooth that’s caused me to gain, oh.. let’s see, about 10 lbs (or more) in the last 2 months.

Ok. Let’s just be honest. I’ve gained like 20.

20 freaking stupid pounds.

Good thing I’m in Colorado, where an active lifestyle is the norm, right? Colorado ranks as the 8th healthiest state and Oklahoma ranks as the 6th unhealthiest state. How’s that for a major change? For those that are new to this little blog, we just moved from Oklahoma to Colorado in August 2016. But don’t worry. We’ve already been hiking and skiing since we moved and I am pumped about doing it more!

But can I be real? ..I’ve been in a personal valley. And valley’s for me tend to cause the numbers on the scale to climb.

Valleys.

I’ve lost inspiration.
I’ve lost passion.
I’ve lost zeal.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been busy. And thank God for it because it’s caused me to be distracted, which is good. So we’ve moved to an entirely different state, remodeled a home that we purchased that would’ve been HALF THE COST in Oklahoma but I’m not bitter (okay maybe I’m a little bitter) and since we adore having guests, our house has been full of family and friends visiting. All of this in the last 5 months.

But, whether I’ve got an excuse or not, the fact remains:

I’m in a valley, and it’s time to get back up on the mountain.

Going through valleys are normal, but we have to know when to get back up on the mountain.… Click To Tweet

I’ve got to get my passion, zeal and inspiration back. And believe me, I’ll get it back. I will get it back.

We all go through seasons like this, don’t we?

And it’s okay.

My little family of four have been through a lot in the last year. There’s been so much that I can’t even talk about here publicly. But it’s been a lot, believe me. And all of you- you’ve been through a lot too, haven’t you?

On sweets, valleys and mountains

It’s life.

But we have to get back up.

We have to recognize that it’s okay to go through stuff; and we have to get back up.

Can I let you in on a little secret? Valleys are hard, and yes, it’s important to get out of them…but it’s in the valleys where God does His best work in us. Do you know that? It’s where he plucks the weeds out and grows us.

God does His best work when we're in the valleys. #fiercelyHis Click To Tweet

Getting up.

So, how am I getting back up and getting out of the valley?

I’m so glad you asked!

7 simple steps to get out of that valley and back on the mountain

These are very simple steps. Please know that sometimes therapy is necessary as are other tools depending on how serious the valley is. Below are just simple steps to help you get started.

  • Recognize the need– the first and maybe most important to getting back up is recognizing when you need too. Remember- we all go through valleys in life! God never promised us that we wouldn’t. But he DID promise us that He’d always be there with us.
  • Stay tuned to God. If you can’t read your bible than talk to God. If you can’t talk to God than read your bible. If you can’t do either than surround yourself with people who do. Listen- that’s HUGE. Get counsel from others that you trust who are tuned in to God.
  • Read my #fiercelyHis series. Seriously you guys. Not too long ago I wrote an article about being Fiercely His. It’s my mantra. My life’s theme.  I recently re-read all the articles that some amazing blogger friends wrote to go along with the series. WOW> can I just say, what a blessing they have been to me lately! Stop, grab ya a cup of coffee and read them! I promise you won’t be sorry!
  • Think about your family. Get up for them. For no other reason, do it FOR THEM. Because they deserve YOU. And you can’t be YOU when you’re down. You’re the glue that holds the whole operation together. So get up!
  • Remove all the clutter from your life and LISTEN to what God is saying to you. For me personally this has been HUGE. I firmly believe that God just kind of kicked me out of Oklahoma in order for me to de-clutter my life. Life isn’t about “stuff.” Life isn’t about my house, the clothes I wear or about the friends I have or don’t have.
  • Quit worrying what others think. Why do we worry about that?? It’s one of the dumbest things we do.

The only people whose thoughts I need to worry about are:
God.
My husband.
My girls.

  • The last and final step. JUST GET UP. Move your legs, take the steps and go. Go get in the shower, put some moisturizer on and go get ya some coffee. Go do something nice for someone else. Just do something.

Mountains.

I’m excited about what 2017 has to offer me, but mostly I’m excited about what I have to offer 2017.

BOOM.

The mountains are in sight y’all.

No, really. I can step outside on my balcony and see the Rocky Mountains in clear view. What an analogy. I know God’s been shaking His head. The pictures of me on His instagram account lately all have the hashtag #smh. Seriously.

I’ve been in a valley but the mountains are in clear view.

Before I go I wanna let you in on a little secret. There’s a word that’s been banging around in my head.

Revolution.

Stay tuned and I’ll tell ya why later, but here’s a little teaser:

LOVE YOURSELF. Every single bit of it.

But for today, GET UP. Let’s move y’all!

I love with every single one of ya!
Let’s do 2017, shall we?
Let’s kick it’s bootie!

I love hearing from you! Please take a minute to say ‘hi’ and share your thoughts below. It’s been too long y’all, so let me know how you’ve been!

Also, would you do me a favor —if you resonate with this article or it has helped you today— would you share it with someone else? Maybe a friend, coworker, or family member…?

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Be Bold – Share Your Story

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Share Your Story

It felt as though I was convulsing on the inside. The anxiety was crippling as it twisted back and forth in my belly. The words I had practiced over and over in the wee hours of the morning threatened to stay locked up tight where safety ruled. The urge to bite my cuticles was overwhelming because it felt like the only relief that was available to me at the time.

It was the moment of all moments. The moment I would tell over 200 women about the skeletons that laid so neatly in the closet of my heart.

What would they think about me?  Would they see me differently?

It’s a story that typically is not told. From the world’s point of view it’s shameful and private. Something to be kept secret. It’s full of drama. Heart wrenching, yet inspiring. I won’t go into all the details here because that’s not what this article is really about. It’s not about my story.

Share Your Story

It’s about the fact that I was bold enough to tell it.

I closed my eyes and breathed deeply; hoping and praying for solace and confirmation from the Lord about what I was about to do. Even though He’d confirmed it before time and time again, in that moment I felt I needed more.

I was teetering between two very different thoughts. The first was how exciting it was going to be to share God’s miraculous story of how He saved me and my marriage. The second was literally what in the hell was I thinking in telling people about my past?

“Lord, I need you, please help me” I whispered.

As I closed my eyes I felt something like I’ve never felt before. It was like Jesus took a warm blanket and wrapped it around my frail and freezing body. I looked around me and saw dear friends who had loved and supported me. One friend smiled sincerely at me and I knew that it was God telling me, “it’s going to be okay, I’ve got this.” I suddenly felt peace like a river rushing wildly inside of me.

I walked on stage with my Bible in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and began to tell my story of God’s amazing grace and His beautiful redemption.

After a brief opening the words that paralyzed and shamed me for so long came spilling out of my mouth.

Today I have the honor of being a guest over at Rachel Britton’s place today. Rachel is passionate about living bold and fearlessly. I hope you’ll follow me over there to hear the rest of my “be bold” story.  

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My Positively Lovely Story| #fierceFriday

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It’s #fierceFriday (yay)! and HI GUYS! It’s been too long, I know. I’m just about settled here in beautiful Colorado. It’s been extremely challenging and I’ll save the details for later, but today let’s just be fierce, okay? If you have a #fierce story to share contact me! People need to read your words!

It's #fierceFriday #friYAY - what's your #fierce story? Click To Tweet
Today I bring you Lauren. What can I say about my new young friend? She is wise, smart, caring and LOVELY. Her words bring joy and life. Although it’s hard for me to relate to her story, tears rolled down my cheeks as I read her words. I am positively lovely, as are you my friend. Read on!

You are positively Lovely

Positively Lovely

I remember the night everything fell apart like it was yesterday. I’d just come home from a long swim practice and found my dinner wrapped on the counter, ready to be microwaved. I scarfed down the steak and potatoes and headed immediately for my room, so I could work on homework. And that’s when it happened. My first anxiety attack.

I won’t bore you with all the details of what led to the attack (simply because they aren’t that relevant to this story) but I will tell you this: In a moment I went from feeling fine to feeling like my life was over.

The attack was so horrendous I couldn’t get it out of my head the next day. The scenes from that night played like a bad YouTube video on repeat in my mind. I wondered how I could let myself get so out of control, and I was afraid that if it happened once it could happen again. And that night, I had another anxiety attack.

One-by-one they kept coming. Night after night, month after month, I laid in bed powerless to the psychosomatic response that had become a daily occurrence. I’d grown up in the church and given my life to Jesus as a child, but none of that was helping, or so it seemed at the time.

I began to hate the girl I saw in the mirror staring back at me. I wanted to reach through the glass and slap her silly. I wanted to shake her and scream at her, “I hate you!” I wanted to beg her to just stop feeling the way she was feeling. But that didn’t make the attack didn’t go away.

It was a slow process, but as the months went on, I began to let the anxiety attacks define me. When I looked in the mirror I no longer saw a beautiful, captivating woman. I saw a detestable, pathetic shell of a human being who was a slave to anxiety.

When God didn’t answer my prayers of surrender and deliver me from the anxiety, I began to doubt His love for me. Even worse, I began to doubt my value. Maybe I’m not worth saving, I thought to myself. It was a total lie from the enemy, but in my weakened state I let it take root in my soul.

Eventually the attacks dwindled. But my beaten identity lingered.

It wasn’t until a few years later, when God brought a counselor into my life, that I began to understand who I was as a daughter of God.

The more we talked through the lies and labels I’d given myself, the more I began to see that I wasn’t positively horrible — I was Positively Lovely!

I’d been a “Christian” my whole life, but in this moment it’s like I was seeing myself for the first time — seeing myself as my Father saw me, instead of the bruised and beaten up version I was holding on to in my mind. By His grace and with His guiding hand, I began to work on exchanging the lies for truth by claiming His word over my life.

Every day I reminded myself that no matter what I face:

I am a daughter of the One True God. (John 1:12)
I am loved more than I could ever imagine. (John 3:16)
I am a living work of art — a true masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
I am more precious and valuable than jewels. (Proverbs 3:15)

No matter what you face, you are daughter to the one true God. #fierceFriday @lauren_inspires Click To Tweet

It was one thing to read these scriptures growing up, but finally knowing and claiming these truths changed my life.

I began to see when I lived within my God-given identity, I really could do all things through Christ, as Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13. In Him I was not pathetic, helpless or alone. In Him I could drive out fear; I could rest; and I could overcome whatever struggle came my way.

With each faithful step I took, God revealed more of himself to me, and day by day, He pulled me further out of darkness and into the light.

You see, there is a darkness but we don’t belong to it. And not only do we not belong to it, but it also has no authority over us.

Darkness has no authority over us! #PositivelyLovely #fierceFriday @lauren_inspires Click To Tweet

As I mentioned earlier, there was a time I let my struggles define me, but I’m not going back there — to the darkness, to the night, to the overwhelming pit of despair. Because I’ve been called into the light — into abundant life. And so have you. And we don’t have to even entertain the darkness because as children of God it’s not who we are. It does not define us.

You are positively lovely

You are Positively Lovely. And nothing will ever change that.

Positively Lovely Lauren GaskillLauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and host of the Finding Joy podcast. She is passionate about encouraging women to lead spiritually healthy, joy-filled and redeemed lives as Positively Lovely daughters of God. Lauren writes at LaurenGaskillinspires.com and is in the process of publishing her first book. When she’s not writing or speaking, Lauren loves to cook, bake and go on hikes with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who is affectionately named Reese after Lauren’s favorite candy — peanut butter cups.    

 Connect with Lauren here: 

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Overcoming in Marriage

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Overcoming in Marriage

Last week me, my husband and daughter went to our favorite local Mexican restaurant. He had just arrived home after a week-long business trip. As we got caught up on the week’s events I couldn’t help but notice the sweet elderly couple sitting across from us. They both had years of wrinkles splattered across their face that seemed to carve a map of their lives together.

Years of happiness, adventures, and utter heartbreak no doubt were some of the paths on their map.

They were a beautiful couple. I could tell that they loved each other deeply and did not take each other for granted. As they got up to leave, being frail and fragile himself, the man helped his wife up and they grasped hands, each helping each other walk out of the restaurant.

Aside from going to heaven, they had made it. All of the good and bad times had brought them to that moment.

There’s no doubt that this couple had gone through hell to get to where they were.  Because you see, that’s life.

Overcoming in Marriage

About 10 years ago my marriage was severely broken. It was so broken, that those around us just assumed that it wouldn’t survive. There was just no way that it could overcome the devastation.

And honestly it probably wouldn’t have if it would have been left up to just me and my husband. We were too weak. Not strong enough. Every ounce of might that we had disappeared like vapor in the wind.

The damage was too much. The betrayal too deep. Hearts that were once whole were shattered into a million tiny little pieces.

And there was no hope.

Today I’m a guest writer over at Flourishing Today.  I’d love for you to follow me over there as I talk about how John and I overcame the most devastating circumstances in our marriage!

 

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When Life is Awkward

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When life is awkward

Awkward.

It’s the only word I can think of to describe my life right now.

A lot of my days as of late have consisted of memorizing the chorus and the clap-snap-clap to “Closer” by the Chainsmokers. I mean seriously…shouldn’t I be doing something…anything else? Awkward.

My youngest little is trying to navigate herself socially around a school that is 3 times the size of her previous school. Bless her sweet soul.

Our current living situation is a corporate apartment, which means that it was fully furnished and provided by John’s company. Knowing that this is a HUGE blessing, it’s also a bit awkward. All of the furnishings are not my own, which means they really aren’t my taste. Awkward.

We’re in the process of remodeling and finishing the basement out in our home that we just purchased. We move in next week and will be smack dab in the middle of it all. Please pray for my hair. I’m hoping it all will be in tact when this is done.

Half our clothes are in storage. (This includes my favorite fall boots, which is a travesty in itself)

All of the above reflect different shades of awkward.

Awkward isn’t necessarily bad, just- um..”awkward.”

On the bright side, amidst all the “awkwardness,” my youngest little and I have had the most fun times lately. We’re learning how to navigate life without Alex and although I miss her so.stinking.much., Averee and I are having a blast with each other as we’re searching for our new normal.

Laughter really is the best medicine.

Alex, who we all know is a freshman in college is having the time of her life. Oh she’s having the time of her life alright…anyone that follows her Instagram account can see that with just one picture. Something has happened and she’s been “struck.” And she’s glowing.  I’ll just leave that right there.

Then last Sunday John had a “God” moment. I love God moments, don’t you? This particular moment was something that included our entire family of four. As he began to share it with me he wept. And then well, you know, I wept. And we wept together for several minutes. I love the beautiful moments in marriage that are vulnerable and raw. I also love the strength of a man who isn’t afraid to cry. Tears from a man reflect such strength. What a blessing.

I’m thankful that throughout the awkward moments in life we’re able to laugh, cry and glow. In this period of transition I want you all to know that appreciate your patience as I adjust to a new routine and writing schedule.

The next 4-6 weeks will be extremely hectic as we are in the middle of the remodel and basement finish and also hosting family visits and I deeply appreciate your prayers!

I love you all so so much!

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A Pain not Wasted | Fierce Friday

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Happy #fierceFriday y’all! Alisa is my guest today. Alisa is a Louisiana girl through and through and she even has the accent to prove it. She blogs over at Flourishing Today and is stuffed full of wisdom. Enjoy!

Death is one of life’s harshest realities. It has the ability to produce grief, fear, doubt and a myriad of other emotions that can leave us isolated and locked up for years. It’s deep wounds can leave scars that are constant reminders of what could’ve been, but will never be. Yet there are times when out of death, comes new life.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:24

It was 5am and my phone was ringing. I couldn’t imagine who would want to talk at that hour. As my husband handed me the phone, I could tell in his eyes is wasn’t good. “Alisa, your father was killed in a car accident last night.” The words pierced my soul like a bullet in the chest. It was like a bad dream that I couldn’t be awakened from. Thoughts of grandkids he would never meet and special moments he would miss flooded my mind.

He was a good man who served others to a fault.

Why would God allow this to happen?

I struggled with these thoughts for weeks. I grew up in church learning that God was good and that He loved me. Yet at this moment, I saw no good that could come out of this. Each day seemed to grow dimmer as grief and fear settled into what seemed like their permanent home in my heart and mind. I couldn’t seem to get passed the hurt and pain.

I wanted so badly to believe that God was real and that He would show up on my behalf. I will never forget this moment. I cried out, “God if you are real, I desperately need you to show up now!”

And He did.

I wiped the tears away and I felt something telling me to go to Home Depot and get some flowers. I had never planted anything before, so the thought seemed ridiculous. Nonetheless, I went. I got some soil, flowers, a shovel and some gloves. I headed home with my trunk full and my heart open to whatever this feeling was leading me to do. I began planting the flowers all along the side of my house. As I dug up the dirt, I sensed that something new was about to take place. If only for a moment, I felt a ray of hope for the future.

Difficult situations can teach us invaluable life lessons if we seek God in the midst of them.

Hard situations teach us invaluable life lessons if we seek God in the midst of them.… Click To Tweet

 

how-2

A month or so later, my mother in law came for a visit to help with my small boys. I knew she saw my pain. But more than seeing, she knew what I was going through. Her mother had died when she was young as well. As we sat down to breakfast one morning, she told me something that began to challenge me to rise up and overcome the emotional state I was in.

“Alisa, maybe you should start a Thanksgiving Journal. Each day write down one thing you can be thankful for. Even if it’s thanking God you have breath that day.”

A few days later, I began my journal. What began as an exercise to overcome, rekindled a love for writing. I journaled my thoughts, my feelings and my desires. Several months later, through divine relationships, my husband and I began attending a local church.

It was there that I gave my heart to Jesus.

I knew He was real, He had shown up for me months before. I realized it was Him asking me to plant those flowers, it was Him giving me the hope for the future. But it wasn’t just for a moment, but for a lifetime. He often reminded me of those flowers. They were a symbol of the new growth He was doing in me. Over the next few years, He began digging up all the hurts from the past and planting His Word in their place.

He was doing a new thing in me. He was giving me a new start, a new life in Him.

Although losing my dad was one of the most difficult times in my life, God used it for my good and His glory.

My salvation came out of his death.

Healing came out of his death.

God will never waste one ounce of our pain. #fierceFriday @alisa_nicaud Click To Tweet

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Maybe your going through a difficult circumstance right now. Perhaps your feeling alone, afraid and hopeless. Friend, God has a great plan for you. He wants to bring healing to every area that causes you pain. He wants to touch those places that you’ve built walls around and bring victory into your life.

That’s why Jesus came, that we may have new life in Him.

As we seek Him in the midst of our pain, we will see Him show up in ways we never imagined.

alisa-nicaud-sidebarA native of Virginia, Alisa Nicaud currently lives just north of New Orleans, LA with her husband Philip Nicaud, their five children and their dog, Roux. She owns a boutique coaching practice and is the founder of the blog, Flourishing Today. Through her own tragedies, Alisa is intimately familiar with the struggles of anxiety, fear, insecurity and depression. Alisa’s willingness to be transparent gives her a unique advantage in relating to women from all walks of life and leadership. She freely shares helpful hints and practical encouragement rooted in Biblical truth in her posts and resources. Her passion is to equip women to overcome any limitations preventing them from leading a flourishing life. You can learn more by visiting her blog at www.flourishingtoday.com

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Loving your Spouse Well During the Teen Years

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loving your spouse well during the teen years

When John and I got married a little over 25 years ago we had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to as it regards to parenting. And I would guess that most couples feel the same.

Marriage can be hard, yes.. but parenting?

Ugh..

And how about parenting two teens…that just happen to be girls. 

Oh, God. <Literally>

We’ve got two girls. Honestly we wouldn’t trade them for anything but I would be lying if I told you it’s been easy. Because it hasn’t.

My oldest little is a freshman in college this year and my youngest is a sophomore in high school.

The last 4-6 years have been a bit challenging for us to say the least. We’ve had some hard years, just like most parents.

But I’m not here to talk about parenting teens, instead I want to talk to you about loving your spouse well during the sometimes rocky teenage years.

Parenting teens naturally adds a certain kind of stress to marriage.

And once children enter into the family your marriage matters MORE, not less. Sometimes I think couples get it backwards. They pour every ounce of energy into their kids, and neglect their spouse. But actually, in doing this they are indirectly neglecting their kids and their futures.

When you put your spouse and marriage before your kids, you’re doing them a favor. You’re actually putting them first.

You are literally their example of what their marriage could look like in the future.

I strongly believe that teens who come from a happy home life in which their mom and dad have happy marriages are more likely to have happy marriages themselves.

And that’s the ultimate goal when we have children right? To raise them up to be happy, well adjusted adults.

Here are a few things I’ve learned a long the way in my own marriage when parenting teens:

Be a team

You’re in this together. I see so many marriages suffer and fail and the primary reason is that they are competing with each other rather than working together.

Raising our daughters has been a monumental task and it’s one we both take very seriously. We realize that it can’t be done with just one of us. It takes BOTH of us, working together as a team.

It’s true that John and I don’t always see eye to eye on everything. And that’s okay. Being on the same team does not necessarily mean that you see eye to eye. In fact, a team is stronger when they don’t think a like.

John and I have two different thought processes in parenting. And although the two are different, we have managed to blend them together as a team to raise our girls the best possible way we know how. Our parenting styles are so different yet they mesh together into something pretty cool. I make up for his weaknesses and he makes up for mine. The result is a really strong parenting style between the two of us.

 

Celebrate key milestones together

 

Knowing that every perfect and good gift comes from Him, we also take pride in knowing that our DNA combined formed two beautiful female humans. Have you ever just thought about how cool that is?

So when milestones such as the first prom, homecoming, academic and/or athletic ability, come around, we take it seriously. Whatever those milestones may be, we celebrate them together as a couple.

I have fond memories of my oldest’s first prom. It was a huge moment for me and John. One in which we celebrated together. We both looked on with pride as parents because everything that we’d been through as a couple had brought us to that huge moment in her life and we didn’t take it lightly.

I’m excited about being a guest today at Searching for Moments. Click here to read this rest of this article!

 

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