Birthdays, Healing, Patience, & Perspective #Confessions

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and considering today would be Chris’s 33rd birthday it seemed like it was about time I did. This October marks four years since Chris’s passing. Life has changed and continues to do so in incredible ways with each year.

This morning as I was headed towards my favorite coffee shop after several days of being physically ill and incredibly exhausted (which thankfully isn’t the norm for me) I was thinking about Chris and how much my world has changed since he died. An overwhelming sense of joy enveloped me as I thought about Chris. The man I was married to would’ve never believed all the ways and all the people his life and death have touched, not only family and friends he knew but people he’d never met and with the publication of Shine his legacy is touching the lives readers all over the place. Also writing and publishing Shine last fall truly released me from a lot of my emotional bindings and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

I’m truly blessed that on this day I can fully acknowledge the peace, acceptance, and healing that has taken place since he started celebrating his birthday in heaven. This year I’ve had sorrows and I’ve had disappointments AND I’ve had great magnificent blessings. This is the normal ebb and flow of life.

I found myself sitting in the cemetery in tears lamenting, praying, and crying for the missing parts of my heart (my family.) I’ve sat at home withdrawn and searching for answers with where to go and what to do with my life next only to be randomly answered by the television. The first time it was super weird but then I got used to it. Ask and you shall receive. LOL!

I’ve sat in my special place working away on my writing only to uncover new calls on my life. I’ve sat on the other end of phone calls laughing, crying, and listening in awe as new relationships and chapters were being written right before my eyes.

At almost four years into this new life of mine, a life without Chris, finding Michelle, reconnecting with Jesus, and opening package after package of clues guiding me on the journey to, through, and along my life’s purpose I can’t help but be thankful.

But the greatest gift is the gift of love so many of you continue to give me, in your own ways, at your own time. Some of you think I’m a patient person, CONFESSION I’m not. I’m not as patient as I look to be on the outside. I want so desperately to be done waiting for my own family and instead be living, loving, and growing with them. I want so badly for us to be together under the same roof. I found an email I’d written prior to Chris’s passing that said how much I wanted my family even back then. I’ve been waiting on that dream for longer than I’d recently thought.

I long for the day I can “tell” Chris, “Look at this! Look I have it! I finally have it. My family–an incredible husband and amazing children!” In my ear every time I want to give up and throw in the towel on this dream I hear Chris say, “Don’t give up. Never give up on that. Don’t settle. Wait, it’s coming.” I’ve been blessed time and time again to hear these words from unsuspecting sources in unexpected ways from friends, from strangers, from clergy, and from the TV. Of course you can probably connect that this is where Never Give up on Your Always & Forever has come from.

In the meantime, I’ve been working towards that dream by forcing myself to grow and become the best woman I can possibly be. Which should be no shock considering my over achiever disease. 😉 I’ve been sent down a new path spiritually and words cannot describe how beautiful those steps have been. All the connections, all the pieces of God working in my life is overwhelming and inspiring. (This will be showcased in a book at some point. It’s too astounding not to share.) Some days it doesn’t look like it will ever happen and some days it doesn’t feel like it’s even possible but I’m moving towards my family.

In these four years, I’ve discovered my dreams of teaching and writing were well placed and I get to live them and work on them every day now. No more desk job for this girl! My work places involve classrooms and coffee shops. Just typing this gives me a whole new perspective on the life I’m blessed to be living. This might also be influenced by the delightful cup of coffee I’m sipping on with its heart shaped foam design. (It tastes as delightful as it looks.)

Today it is a blessing to think of my late husband with peace and joy in my heart and renewed hope for my future. That comes from many places but especially in knowing he is living on in a place free from pain and overflowing with love. I can’t tell you how I know this but I do. It is something that is so deeply rooted within me that it cannot be ignored.

If you’re hurting today, if you’re missing Chris or someone else near and dear to your heart I pray you find this place of peace and comfort in your own heart. Cry when you must, laugh when you can, and remember healing is a journey. Time only heals if we’re tending to our wounds. We are not alone in this life. We are all connected by a beautiful thread of love. Remember we must not be afraid to ask for help when we need it, provide help at every opportunity, and never give up on our always and forever. Love never dies. Healing happens. I thank God for His miracles in my life, and if you’re reading this that includes you. You are a miracle. Never doubt that. Thank YOU so very much being MY miracle.

Love, Hugs, and Sunshine,

Michelle <3

If you haven’t read How I Learned to Shine Again and would like to click here to see where you can find it online:

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Why I Love Valentine’s Day Even Though I’m Single ;) #MyConfessions

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love LOVE. <3 There is no shortage of hearts, the color red, or love in marquee lights in my home. I’ve always had a thing for the L-word. Hence the romance writing but the most beautiful thing about love is that it is more than hearts and flowers or lovey-dovey hugs and kisses. (Not that those things aren’t awesome cause they are.) Love is opening the door for someone. Love is mowing the lawn. Love is doing or saying something to help someone else. Love is being an encourager and sometimes it is being the person who listens and gives a shoulder to cry on. Love is an endless list of actions.

V-Day isn’t about the flowers, the chocolates, the jewelry, or all of those ways the world has commercialized love. You can’t buy love. You can buy lust but true love is a rare thing that cannot be purchased. It is found, fostered, and grown. It is something we spend so much of our time seeking that we often miss the fact it’s on our doorstep.

I’m learning that we need love from different sources—from our parents, our family, our friends (younger, older, and our own age), our significant others, and ourselves. I wasn’t able to fully love myself until I discovered the love that resides inside me through my faith, which has carried me through some seriously awful days and some amazing days, too. I’m incredibly thankful my heart was opened to that love.

Love has taught me that to live a fulfilled, bold life of purpose that I need the love and support of YOU. We are all connected. We need fellowship. We need encouragement. And no matter how independent we think we are, we do our best work when we work together. We need each other.

So like Thanksgiving is that holiday that reminds us to be thankful for at least one day (even if we should be filled with gratitude every day) Valentine’s Day is a holiday to remind us to love. And while all those gifts you buy at the store are wonderful and sweet, remember it’s of no monetary sacrifice to give the greatest gift of all—your love. The world needs more love and I’ll preach that until my dying day or until we live in a kind, peaceful, loving world, whichever comes first.

I know this day can be a difficult day for some. Believe me, I haven’t forgotten those first gut wrenching V-Days after losing Chris. They sucked. And if I hadn’t found a way to love myself or pour my heart into those around me and shift my perspective on this day, then I’d still be in that rough spot.

If this day is a tough one for you here’s a few things that helped me through:

Love never dies. It only changes forms.

Hearts take time to mend. Hearts take time to heal. Be patient with yourself and others.

You are loved. Repeat this until you believe it. Sometimes our heads can be stubborn.

And of course, never give up on your always and forever. Love covers a multitude of sins and hurts. Love heals the soul. I know this because I’m living proof.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for all the love you pour into my life! I wouldn’t be me without YOU!

#LoveHugsAndSunshine #NeverGiveUpOnYourAlwaysAndForever #YouGetWhatYouGive #GiveLove #FindYourShine