This will be my last post at this address. This blog is moving on to bigger and better things…
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“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” Philippians 4:1
Are you content with the circumstances of your life?
Being content when things are going your way is easy, but being content in the midst of hardship or suffering is beyond difficult as I have learned. Thankfully, I have also learned that a relationship with Christ which allows for the right perspective makes it possible to be content in all things, even after losing your child, your father, and discovering a new life and purpose in the aftermath.
I’ve mentioned it before that I have learned to be content with what happened to Hailey and my family. This post is more about me learning to be content with how I am using my time and understanding who I am now and what my purpose is.
It’s about answering those questions that have been haunting me; the ones I hated people asking me only days after losing Hailey… you know the ones: what are you going to do now? are you going to teach again? and so on. I almost have let those questions eat away at me. As if what I was doing wasn’t good enough. They made me feel guilty at times for not running out and finding a job right away after my hopes of being a stay at home mom were taken from me and I buried my daughter.
I know some of those questions and related comments came out of genuine concern for me as some people didn’t want me just sitting at home all day being lonely and depressed, but not all of them came from that type of heart. Unfortunately I know too many people, family and friends, who frown upon stay at home moms and housewives in general. If you don’t have a full time career, they see you as less then them or something. They won’t admit openly that they think those things, but they do. I know it from their gossip and side comments about others.
Not only did the idea of what others thought of me for not working bother me, but so did several other related things. For instance, adjusting to a new way of life where I had more time than I knew what to do with was strange and hard. It was something that was foreign to me, and sometimes I let it bother me that I had nothing to do. At times I felt like I was living the life that I only thought possible when I’d be retired – doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted – and that made me feel guilty. As mentioned in earlier posts, I have been so used to being busy every second of the day and involved in too many things that suddenly I found myself not busy and not involved in much of anything. Even I defined who I was by my job title. Two years ago I was a teacher. A year ago I was going to be a stay at home mom. What was I now then? A housewife? Was that enough?
But yes it is enough. If that’s what God wants. And so I learned to be content being a housewife and taking care of our dog. But only because that’s what God wanted. My struggle in ‘doing nothing’ in the eyes of some isn’t because I’m disobeying or going against God’s plans for my life, it’s because I more with what others thought and not being good enough in there eyes. Too often I have based my contentment on what others think, not what God thinks.
My prayer since Hailey died has always been for God to use me according to His purposes for my life. If he wanted me to become a full time teacher again, I would. If he wanted me to find a part time job somewhere, I would. If he wanted me to volunteer somewhere, I would. But if God was telling me he wanted me to relax and enjoy life, for some reason I wouldn’t because society tells me that’s wrong. But it’s not and I’m finally realizing that God wanted me to do ‘nothing’ essentially for these past few months.
I needed the time for healing and to make it to the place where I am today – and God knew it. So I have learned to be content in taking time to heal instead of working. Those first few months were almost like a sabbatical for me that I’m only now realizing I took. It was a time of rest, healing, recovery… a time of drawing close to God, doing some soul searching, etc.
Then came the day in April when God put something new on my heart. When He told me it was time for something special for me to get involved in. When He put it on my heart to start a local project in memory of Hailey through Project Sweet Peas. I prayed for God to use my life according to His purposes, and this was the answer. He knew I was ready, and I needed it.
I’ve taken on Hailey’s Hope almost like it’s a full time job from home. But still, even after God continues to answer my prayers and use me, I battle with being discontent with my circumstances. Here I am, using my time wisely, serving others, doing something I really enjoy, yet I’m still discontent. Why? Because my mind constantly goes to my career path: teaching English full time. And I think to myself, “What does donating gift bags have to do with teaching? shouldn’t I only be doing things that I can put on my resume for when I apply for a teaching position?” And here comes the struggle with trying to define myself and my life.
But couldn’t it be that God has plans other than teaching for me? And what about my ‘resume’ for God? After all, with Hailey’s Hope I’m still using my time, my skills, and my resources to serve Him and His kingdom. God has blessed me with more than the ability to teach, so isn’t it possible that just maybe God doesn’t want me to teach right now? That He has given me this new ‘task’ and opportunity for me to shine and serve? After all, my goal behind teaching is the same as my goal behind becoming involved with Project Sweet Peas: to use my time and talents to serve God and others. So isn’t it just possible that God has this in mind for me right now? Why is that so hard for me to accept?
I don’t have it on my heart to teach or sub or tutor. But I do have it on my heart to devote everything I have to Hailey’s Hope and helping others find hope during an experience that I have been through. With all of that said, I think I am finally learning to be content with what I’m doing with my life. For now this is where God wants me, and this is what I’m going to do.
So what am I doing now? Am I going back to teaching? I can comfortably and confidently answer those types of questions now:
I am a project leader for Hailey’s Hope with Project Sweet Peas. I am organizing the donation of over 20 bags to be delivered in June to over 20 families who have babies in NICUs so that they can be provided with a touch of comfort and hope during a difficult time. And I will continue to be organizing fundraisers, gathering donations, and delivering donated gift bags to families with babies in the NICUs. I am also happy to be extending my involvement with Project Sweet Peas by managing their blog. And now I do not plan on going back to teaching full time any time soon.
As for where I will be in a few more months, we’ll just have to wait and see where God takes me…could be the same thing, could be working as a part time substitute teacher, could be working on continuing our family… only God knows. And I am okay with that.
(Writer’s note: Don’t miss the end…)
Do you know how many pictures you have of your child? Or maybe if you don’t have children, do you know how many you have your significant other?
Your answer is probably no I’m guessing.
But do I know how many pictures I have of Hailey?
Unfortunately, my answer is yes.
I have 785 pictures that have to do with Hailey – from pregnancy pictures to baby showers to ultrasound pictures to actual pictures of her. Every single picture ever taken (even the ones with my eyes closed or that didn’t turn out just perfect) – 785 total. Which means that I have less than 785 pictures of just her – and if I wanted to, I could go through them all and count to find the number of ones that are just of her. (more…)
One week from today is June 1st, which is our deadline for Hailey’s Hope’s first set of gift bag donations to the NCIUs at The Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL.
I am so excited to share this latest update with you all!
Since my last update we have received several more monetary donations including donations from family members, friends, OCF members, teachers at the grade school I attended where my mom works as a teacher, and from one of my best friends and her family.
I am pleased and confident to announce that with 1 week left, we will be able to meet our goal of 20 bags! Thank you so much to everyone who has prayed for us, supported us, and donated to our project. Thanks to you, we are going to be able to touch the lives of over 20 families who have babies in NICUs. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
This is where we stand as of today with 1 week left:
- Total mount of money raised: $1,729.00!!
- Total number of individual items donated: 81!!
- Total number of bags filled and completed: 3
- Estimated amount of bags to be filled with donation money: Over 16!
If you do the math you will see that we will be able to donate at least 20 bags! And I’m hoping to be very thrifty with the money donated by purchasing in bulk, shopping around for deals online and deals in stores, and even hitting up the dollar stores I will stretch every dollar while still keeping the brand new items in the bags classy and beautiful. So by being smart with the money that has been so generously given to Hailey’s Hope, I hope to bring more than 20 bags to the NICUs!
Now, if you still haven’t given to Hailey’s Hope and you would like to be a part of this first round of gift bags, you have 1 week left to get your donation to me. If you cannot make the June 1st deadline, please don’t let that keep you from giving – as I’ve said before – Hailey’s Hope is not just a one time thing, we will be continually giving gift bags to the NICUs throughout the rest of this year! More information to come on that later…
Thank you and blessings to you all!
~Hailey’s Momma and Project Leader of Hailey’s Hope with Project Sweet Peas
I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them. (more…)
Well it’s been a few days since I last wrote. I’ll blame it on my 3 day long dull headache and keeping busy. But I’m back and have some fun things to share in this post.
Yesterday Josh and I drove to the middle of nowhere in Alabama to visit this ‘zoo’ we had been hearing all about. You see, if you’ve ever been to Ft. Rucker, you are aware that there is not much to do in the actual town we live in outside of the post – the surrounding areas are wonderful if you can manage driving a couple of hours – shopping, beaches, museums, etc. But in our town, not much goes on. So we decided to get out of the house, get out of the town, and take a little adventure to McCelland’s Zoo aka “Mike’s Zoo Critters.” First, let me just say that I can’t believe that it took us a year of living here to finally hear about this ‘zoo.’ But I’m so glad we did. We had a blast! I’m not going to chronicle our trip or describe this place in detail, so if you want to find out more you can visit their website. What I will do is give you some of the highlights of our trip.
Lately I’ve been thinking about this whole thing of “bitter or better.” Will the experience of burying my baby leave me bitter? Will it make me put up walls, close my heart, not want to feel, not want to live, be angry, be miserable, and so on? Or will the experience of giving birth to Hailey and saying goodbye to her 36 days later leave me better because of it? Will I keep her in my heart and go on to live my life to the fullest, seek joy over my sorrow, strive to be the best person I can be while on this earth, make the lives of others better, have a light in my eyes and a smile on my face?
I am determined to be better.
It’s easier to be bitter and all the other things that come along with it, as I’ve mentioned before. Being better takes effort, but don’t most things that are worthwhile take effort? Not only does being better take effort, sometimes it is just plain hard, especially because grief has a tendency to suck all of the life and energy out of you.
Grieving is, amongst other things, exhausting. There are many times since Hailey has passed that I have just simply not had anything left to give to anyone. I have felt everything stripped away…like I’ve given everything I could and it was taken away… my grief was sucking all of the energy out of me. My mind, my heart, couldn’t deal with anything else. The grief consumed me. And part of it is also that fact that it’s scary to give of yourself again when you’ve given and had it taken from you. I think the exhaustion that results from grief is one of the reasons why it is also so common for grieving people to isolate themselves.
Thankfully I didn’t isolate myself after losing Hailey and my dad. Even though I was geographically isolated from family and many friends, I still went out into the world, to church, Bible study, the gym, etc. and interacted with people. But I’ve realized lately that I haven’t given much of myself to anyone. I haven’t made any effort to invest in someone and be their friend. Investing in people takes energy and effort that I simply just did not have. (more…)