Trusting in The Dark

February 10th came and went. Just as recommended by the the social worker, it was ruled for Molly to be reunified with her birth mom.

Our community has been incredible through this entire process. The morning of the hearing 2 of my close friends each took one baby while Weiland was at school. Jason and I were able to hike to the cross, talk, pray, and process. After our hike we had an awesome breakfast. Just us. It was perfect way to spend the morning.

Molly’s mom is amazing. She is selfless and hard working. She loves Jesus and she is pursuing Him with her whole heart. It is beautiful to watch her persistency with Him. Her love for this precious baby girl is beyond obvious. I have grown to really love her and enjoy my time with her. We text daily and get along well when we see each other. Everything about this entire situation is miraculous. God’s hand is all over it.

Although the judge ruled to reunify Molly with her birth mom, her mom has chosen to leave the baby with us until her apartment becomes available. Just another example of her selfless love. She doesn’t want to move Molly more times than necessary. So every day off from work she has, she takes Molly for the day.

The day after the hearing I was sitting in church and during the message, the pastor said, “You can trust God in the dark.” This is an uncharted territory for us. I cannot predict or see what tomorrow holds, but I don’t have to. My Captain will guide me in these open seas! When we got home from church that night, Dubs called me and Jason outside to look at the moon. It was so beautiful! So beautiful I took out my phone to take a picture. Through the lens of my camera on my phone was this picture:


There wasn’t a cross to my naked eye or in the lens of the iPad, just my phone. As I was staring at the picture, Jesus whispered so gently to me, “You can trust Me in the dark.”  He continually speaks, comforts, and carries me. He is SO good. He can be trusted. The dark has nothing on Him!

I don’t know about you, but knowing that my God can be trusted in the dark gives me such peace, confidence, strength, and joy. He offers you the same! Does it feel dark for you in your life? In your marriage? Parenting? Work? Finances? Health?

One day at a time, friends. Look to the cross and be reminded that your BIG, LOVING, and CAPABLE God can be trusted in the unknown. He loves you. He delights in you. He cares about the details in your life. He wants to meet you in the dark and walk hand in hand guiding you.

Will you take His hand and let Him lead you through the unknown?  You should, He’s a good guide 🙂

Our Nanners

This girl…she is so amazing she gets her own post. I met Savannah the summer before she was going into her sophomore year of high school. She was one of the brave ones to ever take a Vantage class. (Short lived organization that I started to teach teens about their worth and sex education)

We had JUST been place with Weiland and she wrote me the sweetest message on Facebook to tell me that she would love to babysit him anytime and she didn’t want us to pay her. She just wanted to help us. Being that she was 14 and it was my first child, I was so touched but scared to really leave him with anyone at all.

A little while later my friend Rachel and I decided to start a small group for sophomore girls and so we asked Savannah to join. What I noticed about Savannah was that she was SO sweet, quiet, attentive, and had the best little laugh! After just a couple weeks I knew after watching her mature and sweet demeanor, she could be trusted with Weiland. This began one of the most rewarding relationships in my life yet.

We met Nanners 5 years ago. In the last 5 years we have grown to love her like our own. She is apart of the Shafer family..whether she likes it or not 🙂

This girl LOVES Jesus. This girl loves those around her so well. She is kind. Gentle. Selfless. Generous. She is funny. She is passionate about showing the hurt, lost, and broken God’s heart for them.

Three weeks from today our Nanners will be coming home from a 5 month mission trip with YWAM. (Youth With A Mission) She spent the first 3 months in the UK and then she has been in Peru for almost 2 months. She is about $500.00 short in paying for her school. I would love to help her pay that off before she comes home so that she doesn’t get here with that debt over her head when she doesn’t have a job yet.

So, I come to you, my kind and amazing and generous readers 🙂 If you find it in your hearts to help this amazing girl out, you can click here and it will take you to her blog where you can read about her time with YWAM as well as donate.

I know that money is hard earned and I wouldn’t come to you to ask you to give if I didn’t 100% believe in my girl and the work she is doing!

Thank you for linking arms with me on this!


Watch Out for Counterfeits 

A friend of mine started a make up business and so I have been asking her to show me how to do my make up. We finally arranged to get together today to pick up some necessities and then come back to the house so that she could teach me some techniques. 

When we got to the house she asked me to go and grab my make up brushes… I came out with my case of brushes. Several years ago I got them on Groupon for only $19.99! For those of you that don’t know, QUALITY brushes tend to be somewhat expensive, so I thought I got these for a steal! Well… they would be, IF… they were quality! I was sucked into marketing and purchased counterfeit make up brushes. They look good to my untrained eye. I felt like a pretty legit adult woman owning this many fancy brushes. But to Courtney, one glance with her trained eye and she gracefully informed me that my brushes were horrible and then educated me why it’s important to own quality ones. 

This got me thinking… how many times do we fall for the counterfeit? How many times do we find ourselves settling in life? In a relationship? With a job or position? Looking for counterfeit joy and peace in food, shopping, drugs, alcohol, or sex!?  

So then I was thinking, how do we know if it is counterfeit??  No one goes out and starts the day looking and holding out for the fake. Well, this is what I came up with… 

If God is true peace. True joy. The real deal that meets all of our needs then we have to KNOW Him and His heart. The more we know about Him, the more the counterfeit will stand out. The more that we know His love for us and His pursuit for us, the less time we will waste on the counterfeit. It will be like Courtney with the brushes, she knew with one glance that they were fake because of the time she spends with the real. 

This week try to get to know your loving Father a little bit more! Journal. Hike. Pray. Put on some worship music. Join a small group or Bible study. Maybe it’s time to start making attending church a priority. 

I don’t know what it looks like for you to get to know Jesus. We are all wired so different. But I do know that He longs for you. He delights in you. He would love for you to get to know Him and His character better. 

Counterfeits are no fun. Life is too short to settle for the fake or even “good” version. Be patient and hold out for God’s best! It’s always worth it! He is always worth it! 

Momma Knows

Weiland has always been a source of laughter, energy, and crazy smarts. He started crawling at 4 months, talking at 8 months, and taught himself how to swim at 2 years old. Because he is my oldest, I didn’t have first hand experience of what was normal or not. I would always have people tell me how smart he was or how busy he was, but I didn’t know any different so I would just smile and say, “Thank you.”

Weiland’s birth mom did meth amongst several other drugs while she was pregnant with him. We have always been told by doctors that if there weren’t any immediate effects at birth, they would probably surface once he entered school. At that time it is very common to see the signs of ADHD in children that have been exposed to meth in utero.

When Dubs was 3 years old we had him evaluated by an incredible licensed educational psychologist named, Brent Cooper.  He spent so much time with us and Weiland. He was kind and patient and extremely knowledgeable. Because Weiland was only 3 years old, ALL BOY, and had just lost his foster sister, we all decided that it would be best to just watch him and then see how he did once he started Transitional Kindergarten.

Anyone who knows my Dubster, knows what life he brings into a room. He is the most confident and independent 5 year old that I have ever met. He is fearless. He is brave. He is hilarious and creative. He is stubborn. He is strong-willed. He never stops, unless he is sleeping 🙂

I can’t tell you how many tears I have shed over the feelings of failure, frustration, and discouragement over parenting this sweet boy.

Recently as Jesus has been speaking to me that my kids are the disciples that I need to focus on making, there has been a new excitement that has surfaced when it comes to parenting my kids. Especially Dubs, since he is older and interactive.

This month I decided that once a month we will go on a date, just Weiland and I. We will get dressed up and he will pick where he wants to go to dinner. We went a couple weeks ago and it was amazing. He talked about it ALL day. He picked out his clothes, showered, and made sure daddy helped him smell good for me. He then made up a song and sang it into my phone so that we would have a “date song”. He responded so positively to that date that I realized it needs to be regular. We have our next one scheduled for March 15th and he wants to go to Islands 🙂

I had his parent teacher conference yesterday. His teacher confirmed everything that I already knew..He is kind. He has a big heart. He is funny. He is confident. He is independent. He is a “genius” with the computers. He LOVES to talk. He has a short attention span. He is busy. His teacher and I got talking about ways to explore helping his energy level and attention span. We came up with an idea to experiment. I immediately left the conference to get him a bottle of Mountain Dew. You should have seen his face when he was told this morning that he got to have soda with his breakfast! 🙂 It worked! He didn’t get in trouble today! WHAT?! Mountain Dew to my 5 year old before he heads off to school calmed him down!? PRAISE JESUS! 🙂

All of us have different children. Even those of us with multiple children, they each have their own temperament. What works on one may not and will probably not work on the other. All I do know is that you know your child better than anyone. You know them better than your best friend, your parents, your siblings, and/or the lady judging you with an evil eye at Target while your child is having a melt down laying in the middle of the aisle. There is nothing that can replace a mother’s instinct. It can cause you to jump up and go check on your kid in the other room just as they are shoving a lego head up their nostril. We just know.

The next time you feel pressure about……

  • Which school to put your kid in
  • What kind of food to feed him/her
  • When he/she should be sleeping through the night,
  • How old they are potty trained
  • If they are still using a pacifier or bottle,
  • Why or why don’t you have a structured system in place
  • Do they know their letters and colors
  • Are they walking yet
  • How many words do they know

Stop! Remember.. Momma knows! YOU know your child. As long as you love your babies and they are happy and well taken care of, you are good! Don’t let pressures steal your joy of being the best momma possible to the little ones God has entrusted you with! Live today, in the present. We are doing the best that we know how and Jesus will meet us in our inadequacies.

You were given your children. No one else, YOU are who God picked to raise you kids..Love yourself, shake the pressures off, and take your kid to Rite aid for the best ice cream cone on the planet 🙂

Never Stop Dating 

Magic Mondays. They were exactly what it sounds like. Every Monday, after Jason and I would drop off Weiland to daycare, we would head over to Wilma & Frieda’s. (Best breakfast in the desert) After about an hour and a half of delicious food, amazing coffee, and good conversation we would head home. Jason would go on a long ride and I would either get a pedicure or just have some quiet time at home. We would then come back together in the afternoon to do some kind of job around the house. I’ll admit it, Mondays were my favorite day of the week. Yes, my favorite day of the week did not include my son. Just keeping it real 🙂

Jason and I didn’t always have Magic Mondays. Once Weiland came into our lives, it turned us upside down. I never knew how selfish I really was until I became a mom. By far the hardest adjustment for me was going from no kids to 1 kid. Then I struggled with so much guilt since I wanted a baby so bad, and then complained so much once he came…that’s for another post at another time 🙂

We had been married 5 years without kids so we had a routine of spontaneity and doing what we wanted, when we wanted. Double income and no kids meant awesome vacations,  coffee dates, hanging late at night with friends, and then of course, sleeping in just to name a few amazing realities when you don’t have children.

When Dub’s turned about 18 months old it hit Jason and I that we needed to date again. And, then Magic Monday was born. It was during this season that I realized the importance of dating our spouse. Weiland is now 5 and now that we have multiple kids it is no longer financially responsible for us to do Magic Mondays. But, dating has not stopped. We make it a point to go on a date at least once a week. It may be breakfast, coffee, or a hike. It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that we have that time to connect without the distraction of the kids.

I get it, life gets busy. Sports, work, homework, and/or church consume our days. If we don’t make our marriages a priority we may survive, but we will not thrive. I know for me, outside of the Lord, my marriage is my most important relationship and I have to take care of it as best as I can. Right now we are in a really busy season. REALLY BUSY. Because of this, I knew I had to fight hard to make sure Jason and I don’t lose our weekly date. Because of this I will text one of our sitters the beginning of the week and ask her when she is available for the week. Then I will pick one of her available times and make that our date.

I know that if you are married and reading this, you know that marriage is hard. It is SO HARD. Because of this, we need to do everything in our power to make it and keep it a priority. You may be thinking, “I don’t have money for a babysitter or to go on a date.” It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. Two hours would be $20-$30 for a sitter. Then you can go on a hike, a walk, a drive, or maybe just go and get coffee. You will be a better parent if you and your spouse are doing well.

Life is too short to be too busy for those we love. Take care of yourself and take care of your marriage. Nothing good ever comes out of neglect.

So, pick up your phone. Text a sitter. Schedule a date. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

What Drives You?

I was reading in my daily devotional today and I came across a verse that seemed to jump off of the page. Check it out!

Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

I read over it about 10 times. I didn’t realize how often I forget this truth. Right away I realized how often I strive to hear the words, “I’m proud of you”or how many times I lose my temper with Weiland. I would never treat or talk to Jesus the way that I treat and talk to Weiland and Jason. I started thinking about how much of my language, attitude, and actions would be impacted if I truly put this into practice.

I want to approach laundry,  dishes, and all house work with an attitude of worship. To live a life of excellence isn’t easy. Intentional living can be so exhausting and at times frustrating. But always worth it. Joy and gratitude follows.

I want my kids to experience God’s character through me in ways that will cause them to want to know and follow Him as they get older. I don’t want to have boundaries and intentional time with my boys just because I don’t want to have little jerks as kids, I want my drive and reasoning to be Jesus and that out of my love for Him, selfless and intentional parenting flows out.

In my marriage. I want to love, serve, respect, and cheer on Jason out of my love for Jesus. I want to love Jason in ways that He will be pointed and drawn even more to Jesus than he already does.

In all of my relationships, I want to be selfless, aware, caring, generous, and encouraging. I want to love and serve those around me like Jesus calls me to. These incredible people have been placed in my life out of God’s goodness and I want to be intentional with them out of my love for Him.

What I love about God is that He doesn’t call us to do something that with His help we cannot do. He will empower us to rise to the challenge. He will lavish His grace on us when we don’t get it right all of the time.

How does this verse sit with you when you consider your work place? Your parenting? Your marriage? Your friendships? Strained relationships? Are there any tangible steps that you can take in the direction of loving those in your life out of your love Jesus? It isn’t always easy, but it is ALWAYS worth it! God deserves our best and so do those around us!


11 Years Ago Jason Broke Up With Me 

I can remember it like it was yesterday. We had just spent the day riding bikes around Coronado Island. It was an amazing day in the midst of a rough week. I remember we weren’t connecting, communicating well, or being very patient and loving with each other. But, I knew, our first Valentine’s Day was the next day so it was going to be awesome! Right?! 

Well, he dropped me off at my apartment and told me, “I need some space, I don’t know for how long. I just know I need time to think about this relationship and where it’s going.” 

I began crying that Sunday night and didn’t stop until that Thursday evening. I had to miss work because I couldn’t keep myself composed. I remember my best friend leaning by my bed and I was sobbing uncontrollably. It felt like my life was over. I couldn’t eat and It was hard to breathe.

I drove out to be with my mom and sisters in Murrieta on Wednesday. On Thursday a few of my roommates drove out from Fullerton to check in and be with me… (because that’s what good roommates/friends do) 

It was Thursday that Jesus spoke so clear to me. Jason had become an idol in my life. I cared more about what he thought than Jesus. I craved time with him more than I did with Jesus. I realized how Jason had taken a place in my life that no human should ever take. Immediately, I apologized to Jesus and surrendered my future to him. I knew right then, Jason may not choose me, but I would be okay. I knew that I chose Him, but I didn’t NEED him. I would survive if this break was permanent. 

The next day he came over to talk and I told him exactly the heart transformation that had happened the day before. He took my hand and said, “I choose you. I just knew I couldn’t be God for you.”  

We were engaged 3 weeks later. 

11 years later and I am still so thankful that Jason broke up with me the day before Valentine’s Day. 

So many times we let people, things, plans, or money climb up on the priority ladder. We put our hope, joy, and confidence in that raise, house, person, or _________. Then shortly after we are crushed. We find that whatever we were waiting on really doesn’t meet the needs in the depths of our being… Or maybe it never comes to pass and we are just forever critical, disappointed, or negative. 
I am so thankful that Jason was able to step up and call things off. He loved Jesus enough to trust Him with the outcome of mine and his relationship. He didn’t know how it would end, but he just knew the relationship wasn’t where it needed to be. 

Jesus has good in store for you. He loves you. He is a good daddy who likes to give good gifts. So many times we sell out. We get impatient and we settle for the counterfeit and miss out on His ultimate best. We just need to be patient and trust Him. Press into Him as our hope, joy, and confidence.  He is worth it!!!! 

Joy in My Sadness

I think that so many times we want to rush the pain in life. We want the quick fix. We want the magic numbing potion. Or…. maybe not, maybe it’s just me 🙂

I know that in the last 10 years I have walked through some crap. Some really excruciating, lonely, and heavy crap.

  • Severe anxiety and depression that led to being on disability
  • Miscarriage
  • 12 months of unsuccessful and STRESSFUL failed fertility treatments
  • 8 years of infertility
  • Saying good bye to our sweet Bella
  • Broken relationships
  • Food addiction
  • Tough patches in marriage
  • Loneliness
  • Continually being misunderstood

As I have walked through these hard times, I have responded in various ways. Some helpful and some not so helpful. But, what I have learned is that even though life is extremely unpredictable and always changing, God is constant and unchanging. Even if we respond in a way that may not reflect His character, He never stops loving us. He never stops cheering us on. He never stops dusting us off and helping us up. He is such a gentleman. So patient, kind, gracious, and loving.

So, as I sit here the eve of the court hearing where a judge will put her stamp of approval on my little Mo Mo to go into her birth mom’s care, I am filled with hope, peace, strength, and joy.

What is new and welcoming to me is that when I had walked through the situations listed above I had never been as overwhelmed by God’s presence as I am in this season. Don’t be mistaken, I am sad. My eyes burn from all of the crying that I have done this week. I mourn the loss of the dream of adopting this little girl. I mourn over my little Marty who will not understand where his best friend has gone. He only knows life with her by his side. I mourn over the fact that once again, Jason no longer has a daughter in the home. I mourn over Weiland as he wrestles through losing another sister. But! What I have learned over the last 6 months is that it is okay to mourn. It is okay to be sad. Sadness does not equal lack of trust in Jesus. Sadness is a normal reaction when we encounter hardships. It is what we do with that sadness that is powerful. For the first time in my life I have chosen to NOT let my sadness rob me of my joy. This choice has been life-changing. Maybe the most powerful choice that I have ever made in my life thus far.

Choosing joy isn’t always easy or enjoyable. But, always worth it. Before this season, I wasn’t good at choosing joy. I would choose donuts. I would choose yelling at loved ones. I would choose gossip. I would choose shopping. I would choose wallowing. I would choose victimizing. I would choose blaming. But, let me tell you, THOSE DAYS ARE OVER!! I am living proof that the joy of our HUGE, CAPABLE, and GOOD God is our strength!

What kind of season are you in right now? What kind of day did you have today? What if you would do a little experiment with me and throughout the days ahead intentionally choose joy, no matter what lemons are thrown your way? It doesn’t mean you can’t feel or be vulnerable. It doesn’t mean you can’t feel sadness or cry. What it means is you will choose joy in the midst of your pain. It won’t be easy at first or feel natural, but I promise you, IT WILL BE WORTH IT!

Are you up for it!?

Katie Mcgihon Photography

Making Disciples

Matthew 28:18-20 – The Great Commission

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I don’t know about you all, but these very familiar verses for us church raised kids, have been a source of pressure and discouragement for me since becoming a mom. When thinking of The Great Commission, I would have questions running through my mind of how to make this happen when I barely brush my teeth or shower? It almost made me want to rush raising the kids so that I was freed up to go out and do “real kingdom work”. Then in church I have heard countless messages talking about how it is a command and not a request, so “Get out there and save some souls!”.  I would get home from hearing the message and feel distracted and slowed down in this season of raising children. It would seem like my kids were just getting in the way of what I was really supposed to be doing. Then guilt would set in and I would respond by filling my calendar up with with commitments that I thought were my contribution of The Great Commission. I would become spread so thin that when I was home I was angry, impatient, and resentful of how the kids were pulling me away from the “important ministry” that I could be doing.
Then IF 2016 happened and then IF 2017 reminded me of what happened at IF 2016 🙂 In 2016, one of the speakers was talking about making disciples and the guilt set in, once again. But this time in the midst of my guilt and feeling of falling short in this area, Jesus gently spoke to my heart, “Your kids are your disciples.” I instantly felt a mix of relief and sadness. Relief because my disciples that I needed to focus on were in my 4 walls, sadness because of the last 4 years I’ve missed this perspective and truth with my oldest. God graciously spoke love and grace over me. He ministered to my soul that He saw me. Jesus saw me in the midst of tantrums, diapers, lack of sleep, loss of temper, and feelings of guilt and still delighted in me. Tears began to run down my cheeks. My God was NOT disappointed in me! He saw me in the midst of my journey of figuring out how to make disciples like He called me to and delighted over me and the intentions of my heart. That was the beginning of embracing the journey of motherhood instead of rushing it or fighting it.

I spent the rest of 2016 doing my best to embrace the journey of raising my kids. Overall, I think that I did a pretty good job at keeping it at the forefront of my mind. I definitely had moments where I forgot and wanted to run, but I think that is natural for most moms 🙂 The piece that slipped my mind while I was trying to focus on embracing my season of raising these kids was the part that they are my disciples. And then IF Local 2017 happened this last weekend.

On the opening panel, was a woman who read to “the moms” and she said the words, “your kids are your disciples”. It hit me like a ton of bricks. “That is the second half that I have been missing!” It was such a great way to start the conference for me. The entire conference ended up being focused on making disciples and the importance of building relationships. Doing ministry small, but well. All weekend I couldn’t stop thinking about my precious kiddos that God has entrusted me with. At the end of the 2 days the founder challenged everyone to write on one side of the tile those who had initially introduced us to Jesus and His love for us. On the other side of the tile she had us write who we were going to focus on discipling this year.  I knew right away, “Weiland and Marty”.

Granted, it’s been less than 48 hours since the conference ended, but I cannot even begin to explain the shift that has taken place in me mentally towards my boys. For example, I have been sitting here for the last 2 hours trying to write this blog. The boys have wanted my attention and it has been so easy to stop typing mid sentence because my little disciples have requested attention involving, but not limited to: hugs, kisses, help with home work, diaper change, chicken dinos, and a cup of water. Before this weekend I would have gotten so irritated with the boys for interrupting me, but I sit here with a smile on my face because they are what matter most in my world, aside from Jesus and Jason, of course:)

Moms, shake off the pressures. Shake off the pressures of looking perfect before you leave the house. Shake off the pressure of needing to join another Bible study. Shake off the pressure of adding another commitment if your family needs you. Stop looking on Instagram and Facebook and comparing your family and your mothering. Jesus has picked you to be your kids momma, embrace it! 🙂 Your kids are your disciples.

I am going to type out The Great Commission below, but this time with my kid’s names..I challenge you to do the same. This is significant work. We are entrusted with raising little world changers!

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing Weiland and Marty in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching Weiland and Marty to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Thank you, Jesus, for these precious boys to love and raise to know and follow you!


Photo Cred: Katie McGihon Photography