We have been asked how last weekend—parent’s weekend and our shop events—went for us.
We spent the weekend in the Ohio Valley for a First Friday on 4th St. event and for St Francis Fest at Franciscan. Say that 4 times fast.
Persist, and I bet you can.
Persist, persevere, and ask you can do anything you set your mind to, especially if you ask God what His Will is for your life.
The weekend was amazing and hard.
We have been taking a few days to wind down, rest up, and unpack—the car, our hearts, and all the beauty and good and hard stuff that came out of our time away.
It’s been an incredibly bumpy ride the last few weeks or so. Our emotions are all over the place. That is a theme lately.
I keep asking, seeking, and knocking for God to show me where He wants me.
We keep pouring ourselves into this call to do something creative to give Glory to God. I know we are created to create for such a time as this, even when the snake has worked hard to breathe lies and cause unrest and deceive us that this isn’t what we are meant to do.
But we persevere and persist.
So we create, laugh, get mad, cry, sleep, get up, and start over, not necessarily in that order, and occasionally for some things more than others.
Yet we persevere for Him.
That said, I’m starting to see the ministry God long ago put on our hearts beginning to take shape.
It brings both great joy and lots of heartache. And it’s in that heartache where the truth can sometimes get confused. The heartache and suffering are only because Jon isn’t here to see it all come to fruition and for me to bounce these frustrating days and moments off of him. We were supposed to do this together.
But we know he is near, and I still don’t want to spiritually bypass our human truth. It’s really hard without him, especially as we were approaching an event meant for parents.
So we persevere for him and Him—God, because I need to keep going, and creativity seems to keep flowing in this heartache.
As I am sitting here (Thursday) cleaning up the words God wants me to share about this past weekend, I heard today’s gospel reflection, The Good Fight of Faith, from Jeff Cavins. Listen here on the Hallow App.
From the Holy Land, Cavins shares that persistence pays off if God puts something in your heart. He says: “If you are convinced that something is the will of God in your life don’t give up. That husband, that wife, your children, your job, that ministry (or a shop), your parish, fight the good fight of faith.”
As I heard these words, so many things rolled through my mind quickly, as if God and Jon were telling me to keep going with the shop and write about it. The snake says nobody wants to hear about it anymore, stop talking about it, no one cares.
When I heard Jeff Cavins’s words today, I was convinced that God put this ministry—our shop—in my heart several years ago. It may have been a shop of a different sort long ago, but it wasn’t God’s timing. I am beginning to see why the timing was now, not then.
The words “fight the good fight” kept turning over in my mind all day on October 4th, the day before we left to drive west to see my boy and to set up shop at two separate events. Never mind that part of the homily for Jon’s funeral mass was about fighting the good fight. And boy did he/we ever continually persevere and fight, all while knowing the most likely outcome would still separate us by a thin veil.
Mind you, October 4th is St. Francis of Assisi’s Feast Day. He is definitely one of our favorite Saints ever. Francis is Jon’s middle name and the 4th was 5 months to the day those words “fight the good fight” were spoken over our family and Jon’s soul. I wrote them in a quick reflection honoring St Francis and maybe to remember them. Add to that already long list, St Francis is the patron saint and “founder” of Franciscan University, where we were headed for the weekend.
We have had many frustrating things occur with the shop as we prepared for Abbey Fest in September and for the events of this past weekend.
I share this because those frustrations could cause us to give up. But we persevere not only because it brings us joy but because God keeps telling us to keep going.
Just the day before, we learned we were invited to bring our shop to the campus for the St. Francis Fest in addition to the First Friday on 4th Street event. (Never mind our space on 4th street was 52—a big wink from Jon) Both events answered big prayers.
We asked God to give us this chance to share our message and goods at the campus where my daughter graduated and still has many friends, where my son is now a junior, a household coordinator, a friend to many, and where he was called last minute two years ago unexpectedly, and possibly where my other two girls at least our senior will be next year.
Ask, and you shall receive.
Seek, and you shall find.
Knock, and the door will open.
The door opened. So we had to get to work.
Last Wednesday, on the 4th, the to-do list was long when we woke up. But the excitement and energy were positive and about as stress-free as possible. Talk about peace beyond understanding.
Without a doubt, we ASKED God to expand time so we could get everything done and on the road at the right time the next day.
We asked him to make space to fit everything in our car, including the luggage of 4 ladies.
And we asked for a shipment to arrive before we left because it was delayed for days, and we really wanted these items.
Fight the good fight for faith.
Ask, and you shall receive.
Knock, and the door will be open.
ASK has been my word of the year.
And I have asked A LOT of God this year, especially these last 5 months. Some things don’t make much sense for how He answered, but they do because I know He knows better than me.
He answered big for us on the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th with many consolations. I am still trying to process all of it, including things that caused friction yet gave a better understanding of where God is moving.
Like I said, it doesn’t always make sense. But when we look back as I did today, I see the beauty of what God is doing and the tapestry He is weaving like the tiny little bracelet I strung together in January with the letters: A.S.K.
ASK has been my word of the year. A term that God laid on my heart over and over in prayer. I didn’t know why.
Of course, I could understand for obvious reasons.
I asked God to heal Jon.
I asked God to take care of everything.
I asked God to be with me and my kids.
I asked some bold prayers for many things.
I asked God if He wanted me to continue writing and creating for this shop, even if it seemed as though the timing may not be right.
I was asking God to show me. Hang in with me. I will explain more.
Asked and Received
This past week we asked a lot of God.
Not only did God expand time to help us get through the week because we asked, He expanded space to make it all fit.
He must have because it is nearly impossible to believe we got all the stuff prepared in the time we had. We got everything and more in the car.
While we didn’t get our shipment before we left, God showed up through an incredibly generous act because I ASKED someone to help.
I write often about the Body of Christ—church. I asked a friend I re-connected with since Jon’s passing if she was also headed to Ohio for the weekend to see her kids.
Turns out, she was. She and her husband graciously agreed to stop at my house and grab the boxes from my garage. God expanding time.
She had them on campus on Saturday in time for the table to be set. We hugged for a while for the first time since 2019.
There’s a story here. The last time we saw each other, life was wonky between us. Tears of forgiveness and redemption flowed. Our gratitude and love for God in answering our prayers overflowed, too.
Had the boxes arrived on time, we would never have had that moment that forced us to reconcile. God is healing even when we don’t think so.
God uses everything. I am learning to embrace the frustrations, delays, and misprints like hand-stitching missing letters on embroidered shirts. Be Still and Know.
God is there.
The irony here is the items we were waiting for were printed with Defend, Sacrifice, and Rooted in Faith.
This is an essential message to who we are. and ties back to a ministry I am convinced is God’s will for me and my kids collectively.
As we are expanding and taking the shop on the road for several events, it has undoubtedly been a way to evangelize about our family being Rooted in Faith as we share our family’s story about finding joy in the sorrow and hope rising from ashes.
In the summer of 2021, while in the South Carolina Mountains, where many threads pointed us back to Franciscan University, a mom we had just met asked Jon and me if we had plans to take our ministry on the road.
What ministry, I wondered.
We had no ministry.
She told me we did.
This came when we were being asked by a few other young parents, “How do we raise kids like yours?”
I shared about this a while back. Both Jon and I glanced at one another, unable to answer.
We both answered with a quizzical response, “God?”
Maybe she knew something we did not. But she said we reminded her of a family that did take their story and ministry on the road.
I tucked that away—until now when God woke me up in the early morning hours at a hotel 320 miles from home…a ministry on the road.
Creating beautiful and meaningful things that project what’s on our hearts has been a gift to us. Our website and shop tagline is “Where words are a matter of the heart.” The shop’s slogan should include—where we wear our words and our faith.
That’s the ministry.
I have been ASKing God for several months to show me where He wants me as I navigate this new life.
What does He want me to do with this time now where I am no longer devoted to caring for my husband but able to evangelize for Him.
The ongoing spiritual attacks are evidence to me.
This IS where God is calling me and is where the snake really wants to rattle my peace.
He’s even trying to attack our family (the kids and me) from within and cause friction where it doesn’t need to exist. Thank God our Faith in each other is deeply rooted (remember the sweatshirt), and our conversations flow with forgiveness after sometimes being heated. We are human.
I asked myself several times—Does the enemy know who my Father is?? This snake will not win.
I WILL persevere (my kids will too)especially when I am confident God calls me to do something.
My son’s friend reminded me again this past weekend how our family is a witness to the joy in the suffering. Incredibly honored and humbled by this, I find myself in awe we could be called to sharing our faith this way. I was most touched the friend shared this with me over the summer while recalling how he was touched by this at Jon’s funeral.
Does it mean we are happy for our loss????? No way, never.
Life is hard. The loss is excruciatingly painful.
But we can choose our attitude.
We can be a light to others in our suffering.
At the very least, I want to be a beacon of light for the children Jon and I raised. There are many moments of despair (and raging migraines, frustrations, and high emotions), but we pray, rest through them, and ask God to take the wheel.
Love, laughter, and peace is the only way for us.
We just need to ASK God to guide the way.
It’s how we continue to move forward despite that painful loss.
The laughter from our car and under our shop tent this weekend surpassed the tears that crept in as we shared why we built this shop out of the ashes. It isn’t a competition; both exist.
Ian and Sophia had several friends (and our beloved Friar friend ) drive 5 hours to support the kids and our family at the funeral. What a testament to the family-like friendships they/we are building at Franciscan.
It quickly has become a safe haven for all of us!!
Returning to Franciscan University this weekend was about more than just the shop. It was parents’ weekend—the first I’ve attended since the kids started college in 2019.
We had an incredible weekend bringing the goods we’ve been creating and pouring our hearts and souls into as we process hard stuff. Being there without Jon was hard stuff.
But there was so much joy as we stood on a quiet corner, met new friends, encountered old faces, hugged a few others around their necks, and talked for hours while wiping tears of sorrow and laughing with utter joy.
On Saturday at the Francis Fest, the weather was perfect; sometimes, emotions raged, just like the whipping wind, and our shop spread joy among the alumni, young students, and several parents who snuck in to buy Christmas gifts.
We encountered high gusts of winds, dark clouds, beaming rays, brilliant blue autumn skies, and a chill to let you know the season is changing.
There are many reasons why attending a family event like this would sting. We can’t hide from it.
We cringe and wince our faces as much as the sour ball candy challenge we all dared to try, but it made us laugh until we cried. The sour ball candy made us cry, too.
I love the friendships my kids have fostered at school.
I love watching Ian have the support of a community that genuinely cares about his success and his grieving heart. I may have unexpectedly acquired a few more sons who also shine the light of Christ. I am grateful for them.
I may have received the loving embrace of an entire household of young men who are Guardians of the Divine Will and my son’s grieving heart. There is nothing like a brotherhood defending and bound by faith.
Back to the bracelet I made in January for my word of the year…
It was a simple bracelet; we never planned to sell it. I have worn it every day since.
We did consider selling custom word-of-the-year bracelets on our website. It became more than we could manage as Jon’s disease symptoms and needs progressed.
So, we put that custom feature on hold and, honestly, most of the shop until just September.
I thought we had removed the ASK bracelet from the shop offerings.
Going to bed on Sunday night exhausted and sad about leaving my kiddo behind at school and the weight of the creative letdown, I was questioning many things, not the least of which was whether I should continue with the shop. I wondered if this is a ministry God is calling me to pursue for His glory.
So, I asked God to show me His will for this shop.
I went to bed, asking Him for a clear sign.
I got a few…made by me.
On Tuesday, I checked the stats from my website after our busy weekend, seeing an increase in traffic after meeting many new people and some who came looking for our shop. I noticed a LOT of interest (website traffic) for my Ask bracelet. Weird, I thought we took it down from the shop.
On Wednesday, there was abundant interest and traffic again, yet there was no evidence of where it came from.
Then today,Thursday, the Gospel reading was, Luke 11:5-13
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
I know why that Ask bracelet stats keeps showing up—God is reminding me I asked and I need to be open to receive His answer.
The Lord said, “You asked Heather, here you go…here is your very own bracelet a reminder you created to ask when you needed something. I am telling you to keep going.”
When I slipped that bracelet on in January. I remember saying, “If I ask, please show me with clarity. I am too weary to try to figure it out on my own.”
I never thought the bracelet would be the answer to the question. But it makes sense.
God knows I am persistent about sharing my faith; despite so many difficult things, my faith WILL NOT falter. I will fight the good fight.
So many things that one might question, “How can you still believe?” There may be a book for that.
When I was getting my Master’s from Franciscan in Theology before the pandemic and before Jon got sick. I was working toward a MACE degree, a Masters in Catechetics and Evangelization. From the time I was little, I knew I wanted to be in the business of Evangelization. Is that a business? Who knew it would be in my writing and from creating a shop born out of pain and loss.
I don’t need a degree to evangelize.
I have a ministry and a shop for that.
So we persist.
I asked for a sign.
I received it.
God used a bracelet I made myself during a tough time to answer my prayer for affirmation this week.
I would be honored if you would visit our shop. If you have already, I would be honored if you shared pics of the fun stuff you purchased from us.
There will be a few more shop events on the road
Local friends, we will have a few open houses before the holiday. I cannot wait to share more welcome you in.
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I am so grateful you are here.