Category Archives: Uncategorized

When it’s Hard to Give Thanks

Somebody’s child is in the hospital today. 

Someone else’s marriage is crumbling.

While the media is showing us pictures of perfect families sitting down to perfect meals, advising us to steer clear of politics around the table this year,  the reality for many people during this holiday season is one of heart break, anguish, worry, sorrow… 

We’ll run the gamut between not giving two hoots about turkey & stuffing & pies & Uncle Bob’s tendency to stir the political pot at dinner… and wanting desperately to maintain some level of normalcy by ensuring that the day happens just like it should. Because that’s how we cope. 

Because at this point, all we can do is cope.

And hang on by our fingernails.


Some of us have lived in some shade of darkness for so long that when sunshine finally peeps through, we have a hard time adjusting to its brightness. 

I guess all I want to say to you today is if you’re going through something awful: I’m sorry. 

It hurts. 

And you’re allowed to hurt amidst the thanksgiving hoopla.

 It’s ok to eat more pie if you need to. 

It’s ok that it hurts so bad you don’t even want to be around anyone. 

Or to want everyone around you. 

However you need to do this, you do it. 

And I’m so sorry you’re hurting. 

You are loved. Even while you hurt. 

Even if you’re angry at the hurt. 

Even if you can’t see which way is up. It’s ok to feel those things. 

You are loved. And seen. 

-Shev

It is Well With My Soul


For some reason, I still stutter when people ask me how many kids I have. 

Do I say four?

Or do I draw it out, and say, “I have three girls, and had one son who passed away when he was eight months old.”

Or do I not say anything about him at all, and just answer that I have three?

Because do I really want to see the cocked head, hear the little cluck of the tongue, followed by “oh I’m so sorry, that must have been hard. My sister/daughter/friend lost a child too. I can’t even imagine how you got through that.”

I can’t imagine it either

Sometimes it sneaks up on me, and I am surprised to realize and remember that this actually happened in my life.

I traveled this path.

I gave birth to, and eventually said goodbye to, my little boy.

I wonder what he would have been like…

Would he have played sports like his dad? Bantered with his Grandma over favorite hockey teams?

Would he have loved music as much as we do, or had some other creative bent?

Would he have been like my side of the family and lean a little more redneck? Learned to hunt with his uncle, fish with his cousin? Tinker under the hood of a truck?

What would it have been like for the girls to grow up with a brother? Who would poke and tease them at home, but stick up for them at the playground.

Would he kick their ass for even thinking about dating so-and-so, and make their lives miserable until they dumped said-date.

Would we have been close? Would our bond be any different than the ones I have with the girls?

What is it like to have a little boy?

 I don’t even know. I never got to know him.

If he had lived, he would be 21 years old this month. A legal adult.

But he didn’t.


My grief was like a festering wound, but fairly well hidden, for at least ten years after his death.

I didn’t know how to process it all. How to grieve, especially since I felt like such a failure. It was my body that failed him, after all.

So my turbulent emotions stayed at a simmering boil just beneath the surface for far too long, and caused so much damage.

I was stuck.

I was in pain.

And I didn’t know how to fix it.

Funny how having my husband walk out on me turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. 

Too harsh?

Not really.

I was forced to feel when Kevin walked out; when he told me it was over, that there was nothing we could do to fix our marriage, and he wanted a divorce.

All the pain I had kept bottled up for so long crashed its way to the surface and broke through, surging forth with a vengeance.

I cried for a year. No kidding.

And slowly began to come back to life.

We’re not doing anyone any favors by locking down our emotions. Least of all ourselves.

In order to continue to live with any meaning, we must be willing to face what hurts. Process it. Feel it. And heal.


These three. 

I would have missed out on so much more with them if I had not had the opportunity to face the hurt.

Mando was 11 when I crashed, and she had already borne the brunt of my pain for 9 years. Poor kid.

But God. God is so much more amazing than I could imagine. He has brought beauty out of this pain. Out of our ashes. Produced songs from our mourning.

It still sucks that I don’t have a young man to hug and kiss on and tell him I love him and call him Joe.

But I do have his sisters. And I squeeze them and tease them and kiss them and nag them and laugh with them and love them fiercely all the more now.

Because I am no longer stuck.

I know that life has all too many unpleasant surprises. But I also know that if I field them well, safely in the hand of the Lover of my soul, I will always come out on top.

Because He says I am the head, and not the tail.

That no weapon formed against me shall prosper.

That His plans for me are good.

And He began a good work in me, and will continue to bring it to pass.

Oh. And He is a Good Good Father, despite what some may think.

Life and people can hurt. But I have experienced great healing from the God of the universe on a very personal level.

It is well with my soul. And my heart. And my mind. And even my body. It is well.

Love love

Shev

Recognizing the Good

When you have been praying for something for a long time, and it just feels like it’s never going to happen, it’s easy to become a tad jaded — even if you don’t mean to. 


All the waiting can tend to produce a bit of a shell around your heart, especially if it’s been years that have passed. 

So it has been with me. 

What God has promised me has been reiterated, confirmed, and established within my heart over and over again so that I have had no choice but to continue to place myself at His feet in expectation, repeating His promises and affirmations to Him with faith & trust. 

The funny thing is that as time has passed, a little part of me has tried to harden (the shell around the heart that I mentioned), to protect itself from disappointment. Waiting can be an exercise in strength & endurance training, and recently I have discovered that I’ve been limping, so to speak. And that protective shell, thin though it may be, was starting to cause some friction. 

And this is where God continues to amaze me. As I have been watching something unfold before my eyes that seems to fit the bill of what I have been praying & waiting for, the limp and the friction have prevented me from actually seeing it as the blessing and answer it is… 

Today, as I ripped off a scab that was so irritating I had trouble focusing on reality, I felt a sharp jab of pain that brought me face to face with the potential beauty of this moment. 

And would it surprise anyone who knows me to learn that I am undone by it? 

Yes, there are tears today.

Partly because I suspect there is still a measure of unworthiness involved that needs to be thrown out. 

And a little bit of incredulity since I have had nothing to do with its occurrence.

 It’s a gift, plain & simple, and I’m kinda overcome with gratitude. 

Years ago, I read a remarkable poem called “Wait” by Russell Kelfer, and I believe it set the tone for what my heart was to be engaged in in the ensuing time.

More than anything, I want to be the first to thank God for His faithfulness. He didn’t have to give me this gift. He already had my love and gratefulness for all He has healed and revised in my life. 

But this. 

This goes far above & beyond what I could have imagined, and I can truly say that I know from experience that His plans for me are good. 

I see and recognize His hand, and it is so, so good. 

What an awesome thing to be able to proclaim. 

He is so good!

Love love

Shev

It’s Beautiful

I know what it feels like to experience pain so deep, so profoundly, that it knocks the air out of your lungs, burns a hole inside you with such force that you can’t run from it, and kicks your knees from behind, leaving you off-balance, weak, and desperate.

I am transported back to these soul-battering moments of my life every time I witness someone else’s pain. Watching their features contort in anguish, hearing their cries of hopelessness and loss as someone or something they love is ripped from them… It feels so real to me. I can taste it all over again, that bitter brew of life’s betrayal.

I sometimes wonder why I have experienced so many things in such a short amount of time. Was it just a matter of a one-time decision that resulted in the avalanche that followed?

Could they have been prevented?

I can understand one or two of them happening since they are fairly common occurrences in our broken world:

  • The divorce rate is high, and since I was so naive when I got married, I guess I can’t be surprised even though I worked really hard to keep it from happening to me.
  • Miscarriages, infant deaths, accidents, tragedies… They happen every day, as sad as that sounds.
  • Cancer is everywhere, touching everyone in some way or another.
  • Having a child with special needs is not tragic, or uncommon.
  • Depression, anxiety, weight gain, and low self-esteem are sort of everyday fare for a large percentage of women.

What I am left with is an acute sense of empathy, as well as sympathy, for others who are in the middle of hard things in their lives.

Circumstances that leave them shattered. Aching. Bereft. Lost. Stuck. Hopeless. Numb.

Shrieking in pain. Angry. Sad. Betrayed. Disappointed. Hurt. Afraid.

Crawling inside themselves to get away.

Wishing they were seen and wanted.

I know these feelings well. I have lived them all.

My road has been long, dirty, stinky, hazardous, and winding as I have journeyed through a desert of pain and loss looking for the Jordan River to cross over into something new and green. Somewhere alive and flourishing.

I could smell the water from afar. I could imagine the sounds as it lapped against the shore. And to my pleasant surprise, I am finally at the water’s edge, only because I have followed the One who promised to lead me if I will follow.

The trick has been to trust this God who has shown Himself to me, inviting me closer even when I didn’t understand. Even when I felt like all that mattered had either been taken from me or had evaded me, He somehow persuaded my heart full of holes to  believe in what I could not see. To learn how to hope again despite evidence to the contrary.

I know I’m not the only one who knows the tang of despair.

Who is familiar with the smothering cloak of defeat, wondering if this is all there really is.

And who recognizes the tug of the current threatening to pull them under while they tread water, knowing they have mastered this act of survival, all the while fighting the heaviness of the wishing-stone around their ankle.

Today I read Philippians 1:6 and know that He taught me to learn it years ago for good reason. To grab hold of it, to yearn for the truth of it to become reality within my heart.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

He smiles at me and with me. He chuckles at me and with me. He takes great delight in showing me His heart toward me and toward those around me.

He wants me to know how much I am loved so that I never question it. He wants this love to so pervade my being that it leaks out of me just as fast as it fills me, sticking to the souls of the people He sets in my path.

So, I don’t know the answers to all my why’s. But I do know that I am tender towards Him.

And I know He is faithful.

So, so good.

In all the ways that matter and more.

It’s beautiful, this life. He’s taken all the piles of crap that were heaped up along the way, and used them as fertilizer… See how smart He is? I love how green and luscious it is here, and I am so grateful to experience it. As hard as it is to re-feel those difficult times, I am in a new place now.

All because He promised.

And I believed Him.

It’s beautiful.

– love love

Shev

When the Torture of Waiting Becomes a Different Flavor


Waiting. Praying.
Sometimes the frustrations of unrealized dreams or unanswered prayers can feel like we’re in quicksand. The more we struggle, push, pull, and freak out, the more we sink.
Lately I’ve discovered that my quicksand has been more of an illusion.
Let me unpack that:
Over the past few years, as I have learned to present my wounds and scars to God, He has taught me that He is good. In very basic ways He has shown up and cared for me, teaching me that I can trust Him to provide and to heal.
So I have graduated from survival mode to knowing that I am provided for. That no matter what I am facing, He is there with me.
This new season I’m in, however, apparently has more to do with the matters of the heart.
Dreams. Plans. Hopes.
And I have to admit that I’m surprised at how similar my feelings are now compared to the last season.
Scared. Unsure. Doubting.
Same dirt. Different pile.
I feel like He’s chuckling a little while I try to navigate my way around it all. Like He’s saying: “honey if we’re going to move forward with these plans I’ve got for you, we need to round out some of these sharp corners you’ve constructed.”
Ohh kayy.

I’ll be honest.
It’s the waiting that’s the hardest for me this time around. I’ve come to the place where I finally do believe that He’s going to do what I believe I’ve heard Him say He’s got planned.
But it’s the waiting for it that was killing me.

Learning to enjoy the process. Ugh.
Living for today, in this moment, with Joy, despite the fact that I haven’t seen anything come to fruition.
Every day He takes my face in His hands and reminds me to soak in Him. To watch Him. Learn from Him. Bask in Him.
It seems so utterly futile to my “lets-get-er-done” little mind, but in His reality, it’s what’s important.
He is developing my intentionality so that it keeps pace with His. He is stirring up deep desires, passions, and longings so that I have no choice but to take them to Him, begging for them to either come to fruition, or be canceled out.
He is cultivating my prayer life as well as strengthening my faith in Him.

None of it can be seen. Only felt.
And the sour taste in my mouth that had accumulated out of fear has now been transformed into something much sweeter.
He is faithful.
Trustworthy.
Able.
And willing.
Because these are His plans and He wants me to partner with Him in bringing them about.
It’s about my perspective.
Am I only seeing the giants in the land?

Or can I see the houses I didn’t build, the wells I didn’t dig, and the vineyards I didn’t plant that He has set aside for me and for His purposes?
If He says it, it’s a done deal. His word is solid.
So I’m learning to wait with anticipation, with a peace I didn’t know was possible (I can be SO impatient!), and an excitement despite the lack of evidence.
Either I’m completely delusional, or I’m learning what waiting on the Lord is really like.
You know, it’s not as nasty as I thought. It’s a different flavor.
A good one.
Love love
Shev

Does it Matter if We Matter?


Do I matter? Sure.

Particularly to my kids, my mom, the rest of my family and good friends.
What about that annoyingly pervasive thought that wants to know if I really matter in the big scheme of things? You know, in the world. My world.

I’m familiar with the Sunday school answers. The ones where we pat each other on the knee and tell each other how much God loves us, and that if we were the last ones on earth He still would have died for us, that’s how important we are. And I’m not dismissing that, because the whole lost sheep parable and all…
The sweet words and heartfelt pats on the knee become platitudes though, unless we catch a bit of a glimpse of who God is first.
Then take a peek at who He says we are.
And let it all take root.
***

It’s interesting to me that Jesus boiled all of the commandments down to two: to love God with all of our heart, our soul, and our mind. And to love our neighbor as ourself.

It’s also interesting to me how much He talked about the Father’s love for us. And how the gist of it all is that we respond to Him…

He starts it.

We respond.

He loves us. We love Him back. Because He loved us first.

***

I am figuring out that how and why I matter becomes a whole lot more clear as I ingest the magnitude of who God is. Because He never lets it just stay there. He could, since He is worthy of all the awe and adoration and incredulity I happen to muster.

But because He is love, He loves.

So as I gape and drool over His majesty and awesomeness, He gently yet passionately whispers His love, delight and adoration for me.

And because I am made in His image, and He is so multifaceted, I am unique.

One of a kind.

No one else like me.

Just like my girls are all from their dad and me, yet they’re completely different individuals. Many similarities maybe, but absolutely unique.

And I do not love them any more or less because of their differences. I love them all in vast amounts. Differently.

***

Soaking in this love-that-I-can’t-quite-put-into-words has a healing effect that I’m sure He is well aware of. The bruises, the cuts, the oozing sores, and broken bits and pieces I have learned to live with become more like sandpaper that refines me rather than the tumult I thought defined me.

***

Yesterday I asked Him to give me some words that He would describe me with (it was an impulse). Immediately three words came to mind:

-Fighter
-Loyal
-Beautiful
It’s taken me a bit to process this, because frankly my first reaction was uncomfortable and maybe even a little deflated. They seem so vague and maybe even overused.

But God is never vague. He is intentional in all He says and does.

And these three words matter because He says I matter.

So I’m going to continue to process these words from His perspective, and continue to learn and soak up all I can about Him. Because He matters. And if I’m to love others like I love myself, I have a strong hunch it should be just as intentional as His love for me is. Let’s not forget that the spoken given in those two commandments is that we love ourselves… Do we?

Ask. Seek. Find.

And love. Always love.

Because You matter.

-Love love

Shev