I hope each of you had a wonderful Easter and were reminded of the hope we have in Christ!
I am so thrilled to share my sweet friend Jill with y'all today! Back when I started to dream about having these features, I hoped she would be willing to share as I've always been so inspired by her life. You know those people that you know have gone through a lot and yet are so grace-filled and joyful?! Jill is truly the epitome of one of those people and I'm certain you'll be more aware of God's grace through reading her feature below.
Share where you currently live:
Share where you grew up:
Share about your family/your job/living situation:
Married to Andy and we have four kids – two girls (8 and 5) and two boys (3 and 2). I wrangle toddlers and manage chaos full time at this point :)
Share your favorite book and/or podcast:
Ooh – this is hard!! I love both! I love The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast, and love Jen Hatmaker's podcast as well, but there are MANY more that I love! Picking a favorite book might be like picking a favorite child – not possible! I love both fiction and non-fiction. If I had to name two books that played huge roles in my life I would have to say Shattered Dreams by Larry Crab, and The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.
Share your favorite quote and/or Bible verse:
Again, so hard to pick a favorite. There is an African proverb that my Mom had in her kitchen that I have always loved – it says “when you pray, move your feet.”
Share your favorite beverage:
Coffee with coconut sugar and hazelnut Nutpods creamer. (too detailed?? I love Nutpods!)
Share one of the biggest losses you’ve experienced:
I lost my Mom when I was 29. She had battled cancer off and on from the time I was 13, and losing her was losing my biggest cheerleader, the person who was, in many ways, my true north. I had been married for 6 years already, and we were just starting down the road of infertility treatments at the same time. Losing my Mom before ever having a child was devastating to me beyond words.
Share some of the choices that have been most helpful in continuing to move you forward and support you while you are healing:
There were a few things. I had an amazing community around me at that time, in terms of dear friends who were just in it with me, and I also had the most incredible work environment – so I spent my days around mature, incredible people who taught me so much about how to walk through loss with others. They let me talk about Mom and it was never awkward. (I can’t tell you how important this is!!! I would often catch myself talking about Mom in the present tense, sharing stories about her, etc., I was never in an environment where I felt like I needed to hide what was really going on.) I actually blogged a ton during this time as well. For me, writing was a healing outlet – it gave me a place to honor Mom and her story, as well as share where I was emotionally without always having to talk about it. (which sounds contrary to what I said above, but depending on the day, I either wanted to “go there “ or I didn’t). Also, for me, having my first child so soon after Mom died was really where I experienced so much grief. Because she had been sick for so long, I grieved her death a lot before she died, and she and I had a great relationship, we talked through so much before she died. And then I had my daughter and it was a whole new game. Because now I was mothering without my Mom, who would have been THE dream grandmother. You know that grandmother you hear about and you are like “wow, that's so rare.” That was her. So grief hit me in painful and fresh ways. I was so sad. So angry. All the while so filled with joy with my miracle baby after IVF. Joy and sorrow run on parallel tracks. I have experienced this so vividly. I went to a counselor for a while during the time between my first and second babies (which also turned in to a longer infertility road, many IVF failures, a miscarriage, etc.) and I can’t speak highly enough about the value of counseling. As always, community, community, community. Be real. I’ve got a few girls in my life that I am so real with. I like to “go first”– as in be the one who says “today is a mess. I’m sad today. I REALLY wish Mom were here for this. Now I’ve got 4 miracle children and I’m so full of joy, and also, a mess and I still miss her!”
Share some ways you have tried to incorporate laughter and fun in the midst of the hurt:
Truly, just very practically!! Everything from little getaways, to watching a movie over and over again that I loved, even getting lost in light-hearted fiction, to having good nails. I joke that you could always tell how I was doing by how my nails looked, because something about having nicely painted nails helped me feel better, so I went through phases (especially when I was living at the infertility clinic going through all kinds of odd things) when it was of utmost importance to me to have a fabulous nail color going at all times.
Share how this experience has been instrumental in leading you to where you are today:
I think about this a ton. My perspective on life has been shaped by Mom. She was a person who walked through the world with the most incredible attitude of gratitude and positivity, and I learned that from her. I really and truly don’t sweat the small stuff (most of the time). When you’ve sat by the bedside of someone you love and watched them die, it changes you to your core and the way you view the world and what’s hard. And when you’ve struggled to have babies the way I did, even on the hardest Mommy days, I look at these 4 littles and see God’s crazy love for me. It blows me away. I think I see the big picture most days rather than getting stuck in the details, and I really credit that to walking through all I did with Mom.
Share any tips/advice/love for others who have gone through something similar:
Feel it. Don’t stuff it in and try to go on. Be real with a few people, or if not people, write about it, get it out there! You may be feeling great and “normal”, and then have a random Tuesday that is all of a sudden so hard. Grief is weird. There’s often not a rhyme or reason to it, and be OK with that. Feel the emotions and walk through them towards healing, instead of ignoring them. It has been nine years since Mom died and just the other day I had “one of those days”. I was walking through something with a child that I just so desperately needed my Mom's council on. And I lost it! Sat in my car, in a parking lot, (because duh, that’s the only way I can get quiet) and just cried for a really long time. I prayed. Then I shared with my husband and a few close friends what was going on. And I was almost embarrassed because it had been SO long since something like that had happened. So just know, it’s a constant journey with no ending, though the intensity of the pain lightens and you will eventually find yourself having more good days than hard. Lastly, love on others. If you have walked through this, you have a unique perspective and ability to walk with others going through something – go first. Share your story and give them the freedom to be real with their experience. It will be life giving to you both!!
W: My blog (that I don’t write on anymore but did during that season is) is here