Hey ladies - Karen (ShineBlog Editor) here. So listen. I’m taking over the blog post to give you a sneak peek in the life of Hilary over the past year. Shhh, don’t tell her. 

You see, this mama - our FAVORITE mama (MamaShine) IS SHINELife. The orders you send her - she pours her heart into them. The comments you add about WHY you need that handwriting piece, or how joyful you are over the footprint piece from your Rainbow Baby - she reads them all. The requests you send her for custom pieces to help your heart heal - she knows what will heal your heart, because she’s had to learn how to heal herself. From angel babies to rainbow babies, to leaps of faith, to navigating every day life without her mother and friend. She knows. She takes your hand during your joys and sorrows, and walks you through, because she’s walked the path before you.  

But more than just your hand-holder, more than your path-layer, Hilary shines the light to all of us, even when her own light is dim. She raises her own SHINENuggets with the same grace and zest for life that her mama had, teaching them to keep on keeping on, and FIND the joy in life. 

For Mother’s Day, this tribute is for Hilary. The one who shows us ALL how to SHINE. 

 

FEBRUARY

My amazing mom took her last breath on earth this morning. She was so young and so sick. I am mad at this world and I hate disease. I will yell. I will cry. I will ugly cry. Because I am broken. I am angry. I am scared. 

My amazing mom took her first breath in heaven this morning. Now forever young, in perfect health. I am thankful for my faith and, even in my darkest moments, I can find peace in His promises. I will grieve. But then I will celebrate. And I will heal. Because she has been set free. We will dance again, and this time, for eternity. 

I am so thankful for this Shine community - for the ability to be completely transparent and free to love, laugh and cry (sometimes all at once). Please bear with me as "I walk through the valley of the shadow of death ... I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on. A glorious light beyond all compare."

 

I know my artist mama would want me to keep on keepin on - designing, creating and sharing - and so I am.

 

 

MARCH

Waterproof mascara on, and off to church.

Not because it's easy, but because I need it.

Praying especially hard today for those that are hurting. 

 

 

Isaiah 46:4 

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

One breath at a time, one step at a time.

 

 

 

How AWESOME is our God that forgives and loves and comforts and saves?! Life can feel so unbearable some days (do you ever walk around happy on the outside and then just LOSE IT when you least expect it - usually happens to me when I'm in the shower and have 0.2 seconds to actually think)? No matter how broken I feel, singing this song always replenishes hope; it makes my heart smile and breathe in relief that we don't walk this road alone. His great love can comfort the deepest of hurts. Have an amazing Sunday y'all. Because Oh, how He loves us!!!  

 

If The Husband is ever out late (it's rare, but he does escape for mans-night-out every once in a while), my little ones ask to snuggle, sniff and sleep in one of his shirts. Even if it's camo and paint stained -- especially if it's camo and paint stained. The more mangled, the closer they feel to Daddy. 

As we were gathering my sweet mom's belongings from her Hospice room last month, my dad handed me one of her favorite shirts, "Here, why don't you have this," he said. It hit me. My 8-year old isn't crazy (in this case). Snuggling and sniffing that shirt is like hugging her neck. Like my girls waiting for Daddy to kiss their sleeping cheeks goodnight when he gets home, mom's shirt is a reminder that I will see her at "home" too. I find so much comfort in that gift of her favorite cotton tee. 

A few days later, I raided mom's closet and grabbed more of her favorite  tops; the ones that she wore before she got sick. When she was her happiest - pulling weeds in the yard, taking a million pictures of the oddest but most beautiful things, or chasing her crazy grandbabies. Favorite shirts in hand, I went on an Internet hunt for someone that could take these treasured memory-infused cotton pieces of mom's and transform them into snuggling and sniffing and sleeping therapies to help us heal. And I found Natalie (Stitches by Natalie). I shipped her mom's shirts and told her my favorite Bible verse. And she did this. I am so so in love. So in love with the richest of inheritances that we could ever gift my girls: a reminder of Nana's happiest times and that she - and He - is with them always. Thank you Natalie!!! 

 

APRIL

Know what's bittersweet? Working on a handwriting piece for my own family for our first Mother's Day without our sweet mom. Know what's awesome? I found this in a scrapbook she made for me - I'm thinking her writing of "Our Angel" is exactly what I need.

Had to wake this sleeping squishy to get on the road early this rainy Saturday morning. Please whisper a little prayer for strength and peace for my family as we celebrate my amazing mom's beautiful life today Mom’s birthday April 18.    

There are few words that can capture the range of emotions one feels on their mom's funeral day (today was also her 65th birthday). But where my words may fail, my girls faces they never will. Peaceful reflection, spurts of silliness, giggles after tears, and sheer emotional exhaustion. We are home - still hurting but on the road to healing. I am so thankful for all of your prayers that carried my family through this day - I felt you all SHINING there with me!

 

 

  

I am such a visual person, so I love this. Picturing heavenly chatter and angels receiving their assignments. Picturing my mom's content face as she watches over me, knowing that my earthly worries are unnecessary because, now, she can see eternal Truth. Picturing God as He orchestrates His masterpiece. Visualizing this specific symphony; it's the only way to calm the fears and slow the pace when life feels like it's too much or too tough. So I'm passing this to you, too. Turn off your worries. Heaven is buzzing about you and angels have been assigned to you. It is ALL taken care of ~ we can sleep in peace.

 

MAY

Mother's Day. For those of us that have lost the ones that once - or would have - called us mom. For those of us that have lost the one *we* called mom. 

It's bittersweet. 

Bitter because it hurts - takes our breath away kind of hurt - to see the relationships in others that we miss ourselves. You know what I mean, right? When you've just lost your baby, *everyone* is pregnant or cooing at their newborn. Took me a good year or so after each loss for that delusion to finally fade - it's not *everywhere*; it just feels like it. Since I lost my mom in February, it's a Hallmark mom-daughter moment everywhere I look. You know, 60-something mom holding her happy grandbaby as she strolls the aisles of Target with her 30-something daughter. That kind of wish-I-had-it / gosh-I-miss-it perfection. 

Sweet because we knew - we got to experience - that love. Sweet because we are promised that will have that love again. For eternity. Or sweet because we know - not from experience yet but from deep desire - the richness of that kind of love. And we can celebrate those that are finally experiencing it. The moms that have endured infertility and loss that are now pregnant. The children reunited with their biological moms. The babies that have been adopted by their forever moms. There is sweetness in Mother's Day. And I encourage those of you, like me, that are a little nervous about next Sunday, to look for it. To grieve and process the bitter, but choose the sweet. Celebrate what we had, and what we have. Celebrate what others are enjoying now, and celebrate what we are promised to enjoy for eternity. We could have our moms - or be moms - in this world, but we get heaven instead. I'll take it.

 

Know that I am walking through this week leading up to Mother's Day with you. A little weary, a little afraid, but a lot confident. We got this y'all, because He's got us.

Some of y'all know that my amazing mom, my very best friend, passed away in February. (It's still surreal to say that out loud) ... I would so love a few spare prayers tonight. Tomorrow is my mom and dad's 40th wedding anniversary. Will you pray with me that my sweet dad can see through his grief and, instead, see the legacy that their love created? Any words of encouragement, or simply a silent virtual hug, are so appreciated. I miss her smile, and I miss my dad's smile since hers has been gone. Thank you Shine family.

 

 

JULY 

There are so many tragic things happening to everyone around us. We just have to remember that we're not in this life alone - we all have to choose to fight, to find the happy in the day, and to just. keep. swimming." ~ My Dad { on his 40th wedding anniversary: his first without my Mom, our angel above }

 

AUGUST 

My mom loved photographing bright colors and interesting lines, so I spent the morning thinking of her, driving around the island and looking for beauty in unexpected places. Missing my mama, but loving this place.

 

SEPTEMBER

I say these words to myself on SO many days, for so many different reasons. As a note-to-self when { impatiently } waiting for a prayer to be answered, as a breath-in-a-paper-bag when chaos seems to rule the day, as a desperate plea when my kiddos seem to grow too fast, and - this morning - I'm praying these words because I woke with renewed clarity that I can't do this season alone. { We really shouldn't do ANYthing alone, but there's some days where we finally smarten up, open our hands and let Him grab us to walk us through - I've been clenching my fists for too long, thinking I can, in the words of my 3-year old, "do it myshelf". } Missing my mama something fierce the past few days - for no specific reason other than missing her face, her hilariousness, her ... being my mom ... funny how, now matter how old you are, you always need your mama. None of my human-attempts are helping to cope or heal my sad heart today, so I repeat these words as a command-to-self-surrender. Because, as hard as it is to find them or make them, it's the quiet places, the still moments, where  we find what we need. We can't look to the outside for healing, fulfillment, or affirmation - how crazy are we to think that? Because we have the Living God inside us, we have all that we need. Read that again. We have ALL that we need right.here.inside.us. We only need to be still. Be. Still. And know that He is God. xoxo, Hil

 

 

NOVEMBER

This morning I am thankful for the lights that God has placed along our paths. After 8-days of smiles and tears, busted lips and too many buffet trips, tiny cabins and monumental meltdowns, beautiful places and exhausted tiny faces, it's so easy to see only the tough moments and claim defeat to the expectations of a "magical" family vacation. But at the end of the day (and a very "impressive" trip), back in our familiar home, with our familiar routines and my deeply-missed coffee creamer, I can see more clearly how the moments, as absolutely insane as they were, were actually so SO cool. Like what? Like the torrential Bahamian downpour that pelted 2,000 of us for 45-minutes-going-on-45-years as we all tried to board the ship at the same time, in a panic to get out of the storm. The three women standing just behind us in line - all my mom's age and with my mom's tender heart - took their towels and stood quietly, sheltering our girls as they shivered in the storm. One of the women looked at me and whispered "These are the moments, honey. They feel unbearable, but they'll be unforgettable. I promise." Light. Perfectly placed right there in the middle of the "I can't believe this is happening to us" mommy meltdown. Then last night, a message from a friend, saying she's thankful for our vacation. The vacation that we endured together - thankful for the chaos of our 8 kids whether they're fighting or smiling, and our friendship. Light. Perfectly placed right there in the middle of the "Never ever again" vacation hangover. 

I'm so thankful for the lights that God has placed along our path. The lights that help us see His face, and get a glimpse at what He is doing, when you otherwise feel stuck in a never ending downpour with four shivering short people that "really gotta pee". Thank God for His lights.

Can I challenge y'all to Be The Light for someone that crosses your path today? #shinelife #bethelight 

 

 

DECEMBER

It was our first Christmas without my sweet mom. I have sobbed and struggled with the anticipation of today. BUT then. I remembered the advice one of y'all shared a while back - "make a new tradition", you said. New? Change? {This is HUGE red flag for my Type A everything-must-always-be-this-way-or-my-heart-will-attack-my-throat-and-my-brain-will-be-stormed-by-zillions-of-tiny-angry-green-protestor-people personality, y'all.} But desperate for some form of protection from holiday grieving, I gave it a shot. 

Until now, our Christmas Eve day consisted of watching mom doing her thing in the kitchen, and me pretending to know how to be a good assistant chef {basically, she trusted me with taste-testing the deviled eggs... but other than that, my role was to simply fetch ingredients from the cabinets... and chit chat. I'm great at both of those. The cooking and baking, notsomuch}.

Instead of trying to manage through that traditional cooking, laughing, wine-sipping Christmas Eve in the kitchen this year - and deeply missing mom's multitasking 8 recipes, with a smile, and the intermittent "Hil!" when I'd say something not-so-intelligent - I asked Dad if he'd join us for something different. He said yes. 

We met up for afternoon church, grabbed Chinese take out {"farararara rara ra ra"}, then introduced our girls to A Christmas Story. "Papa" snuggled the babies while I wrapped and watched on from the kitchen. Papa was comfy, I wasn't crying, nuggets were smiling, and I'm pretty sure mom was just so very happy to see us all doing - and celebrating - life without tears today.

It was so good. Not bittersweet like I expected - just sweet. Of course I thought of mom several times throughout the day, but it was a manageable pain rather than my typical puffy-eyes-for-days fits. The new tradition idea was perfect. Such a helpful way to "make it through" what seems to be impossible. So thank you. Sincerely from my relieved heart: thank you.

Wishing you the merriest of Christmases, from our healing family finding our new way, to yours - thank you for walking through this, with us, this year. Thank you for Being OUR Light.

 

JANUARY

Jan 2 I confused the snot out of BabyShine tonight while rocking her to sleep, y'all. We were giddy and goofy before bedtime, but as soon as she snuggled up with her pink blankie under one arm and Peppa Pig under the other - her tiny ears pressed to my lips - we fell into deep sighs and sweetness. I started to sing and sway like we do every. single. night. As we progressed along our usual musical journey from Twinkle Twinkle to Jesus Loves Me, my perfect contentment quickly turned to silent sobs as my heart said "Amazing Grace ... sing it girl". {My sweet mom gained her angel wings in February - Amazing Grace is *the* song that will forever be *her song*, for so many reasons that deserve their own posts, some other time}. I started, "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound..." Pictures of mom smiling and giggling with my girls just as I was a few minutes earlier, flashed before my eyes. My heart went from sweetly filled to shattered. "I once was lost, but now I'm found". A relieving reminder of the awesomeness that came with her inviting Jesus into her heart just a year before she passed evolved into a quick flash of "why her?!" anger. "Was blind but now I see". Gratitude. Bittersweet sobs. My exhausted mind begs my heart to hold fast.  Because "The Lord has promised good to me ... as long as life endures." Keep singing Hilary, she's alllllmost snoring.

Mommy's bedtime performance of Amazing Grace, as far as Riley knows, includes my teardrops dancing on her chubby cheeks, and silent gasps of my breath blowing through her fuzzy hair, several pitch problems, a silent prayer, and a healing moment shared that I pray we will both always remember. #amazinggrace #saved #alwaysnear #howsweetthesound

 

Bittersweet way to start the day! Amazing Grace begins playing as soon as my today-can-go-either-way attitude plops in the frozen car; bright and colorful sunrise shines warmly through the windshield; talks of weekend snow on the morning show. The day my mom passed away flashes in my mind - the snowy morning drive to see her for the last time; Amazing Grace playing on the radio; silence in the car, shock in my soul. ••• Decision made: with my mama on my heart and grace on my mind, today will go one way: beautifully! 

I challenge YOU to choose the same.

#godwinks #bethelight #choosehappy #nofilterneccessary

❤ 

 

FEBRUARY

Are your mornings as fragile as mine? I'm approaching my mom's one-year birthday in heaven, so "sensitive" is one way to describe my emotions these days. The first few moments of the morning dictate how my entire day will go - if I head out the door to find one of my kid's gloves on the floor, "accidentally" positioned perfectly with middle finger straight up in my face {remember that?}, probably gonna be a rough day. This morning's signal wasn't a simple "you got this" or harsh "#!*% you", it was this song playing as soon as I started my car at 5:45am. Have you heard this song? Best way to start a Monday, ever. 

Song: Day One, Matthew West

Photo by Judi Carter {my sweet mama}

...

It's day one of the rest of my life

It's day one of the best of my life

I'm marching on to the beat of a brand new drum

Yeah, here I come 

The future has begun

Day one

...

Go listen to the full song y'all - and start your Monday right. #dayone

 

  

One year ago this Wednesday, my sweet mama gained her angel wings at the too-young age of 65. How sweet it was to find this customer photo today of our angel wing ring - the ring I wear regularly as a reminder that my mom is Always Near. Thank you for sharing @jamiepursley!

I love a good God Wink, don't you?! Feb 22

❤ 

 

Good morning! Will you do me a favor today? It's extra gray and stormy here ... It looks like how life sometimes feels. But. One of the most valuable  lessons I learned from my mama, is to always make a point to look for beauty in unexpected places. To not look at the expansive blue ocean, but instead the line of nearby beach chairs where friends and family would sit and catch up for hours. Seeing a beautiful aged building that holds so much history, instead of an unusable shack in the middle of nowhere. She was so good at that! So will you live life with that lens today? With purpose to find at least once instance of beauty that would otherwise go unnoticed? Take a photo of it and post in the comments. Your determination to find beauty in unexpected circumstances will not only train your mind to always seek the good, but it will also honor my mama in heaven. And nothing would make my heart happier today!

by: my angel, Judi Carter

 

MARCH

Through it all

Through it all

My eyes are on you.

Through it all

Through it all

It is well.

Through it all

Through it all

My eyes are on you

And it is well with me.

 

And what if your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near? What if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights, are His mercies in disguise?

 

 

 

Whatever storm you are facing tonight, remember this: we have a firm, secure, immovable anchor that is not even swayed by these winds or tides, or the size of these waves around it. We have hope - not hope as in wishes or dreams, but hope as in excited expectancy because you KNOW God is good. When you are anchored in God and His Word, your mind, will, and emotions can find a place of stability even in the worst of situations. Because God loves you so much, he doesn’t want you to struggle through  the storms of life tormented by fear and anxiety. Instead, He wants you to be anchored to Him and alive with hope. It is this hope that is the anchor for our soul.

 

 

Cardinals appear when angels are near

❤️

I never really “got it” when people would gush over those bright red birdies, but now I do. My mom “visits” exactly where I need her and when I need her. When the cardinals are hiding, though, she is still with me - because I wear her sparkly wings around my wrist! Anyone else have the same experience with cardinals? Or the same obsession with sparkly wings?! #alwaysnear #visitorsfromheaven

 

 

With a teary smile, my mom tucked these lyrics into my hand the day that I graduated college. Fifteen years later, it was my turn with the teary smile, as I prayed these words over my mom before she left this world for heaven.

 

My new handwriting skinny bar bracelet: an arm party that sings to my heart. 

 

 

I haven’t looked at the stars in the same way since the day I lost my mom. It's so sweet to step out on my porch and have that visual to talk to, and my halo to hold on to! 

 

 

MAY

 

 

 

Dear sweet Hilary,

Thank you for not only telling us how to shine, but showing us how to #bethelight, even in the darkness. Happy Mother's Day to the most selfless, beautiful-from-the-inside-out Mama there is. You are loved. 

 

XOXO,

SHINEFamily