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World Cancer Day

4 Feb

Today is World Cancer Day.

Today I stand for my beautiful friends Lariate, Avery, and Tom, who are currently bravely and courageously fighting a battle against cancer.

I stand for my grandmother, my Aunt Susie, my friend Lori, my little friend Daniel, my friend’s little girl Avery, my friend’s little boy Dylan, my friend Ashley, my friend Jazmine, my friend Kim, my friend Brad, and my friend Travis… who are all in remission from cancer after fighting a courageous battle.

I stand for anyone else who is currently bravely and courageously fighting this same battle. You are STRONG, you are BRAVE, you are LOVED, and so many are so PROUD of you… I am amazed each day at the incredible amount of strength and fight in so many of you out there… it’s so inspiring and you’re wonderful!

Who do you stand for? And will you tell them that today? It will do wonders for their souls, I just know it!

-Lisa

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Never Forgotten…

6 Aug

Two years ago today, 31 members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force lost their lives in Afghanistan. They made the ultimate sacrifice, and we honor them today and everyday.

Two years ago, loved ones of those 31 lost were left behind. Loved ones who continue on in this life, continuing to make sacrifices with their significant others gone. Their life didn’t stop, it goes on.

I think we often forget about this piece of things. These women and men are amazing. hard working, and so courageous. They keep on keeping on, even on the hardest of days.

They are leaving a legacy for their children, and their children’s children… and that is a beautiful thing.

Today, if you know someone who lost a loved one- it doesn’t even have to be someone who was in the military… call them. Tell them you love them, and share a treasured story with them about the loved one that has passed on. Tell them how much they meant to you, and how much you mean to them. Bring them a pretty flower, a nice meal, a gift card, take them out for coffee, and share a smile with them. A hug.

If it’s been a while since that loved one has passed away, think about getting together several close friends and setting up a  Food Tidings meal schedule for them. You could invite those our of town family members as well, and they can have a meal delivered to them through Food Tidings.

I guarantee that the loss is still so hard and they could use support and love even now. Possibly even now more than ever. Now that the close relatives are back in their own hometowns, life continues to go on for many, and it may feel lonely.

Help them to know they are not alone. I know that we can all do this for someone in our lives, so this is my encouragement for you to make that call, send that text, set up that meal schedule, write that card, ring that doorbell, make that meal… and brighten their day.

-Lisa

Here’s a beautiful video honoring those who lost their lives in August 6, 2011 as well as their significant others… take a few minutes and watch it.

Grieving…

23 Jul

Hi friends. Yesterday was a rough day for us, as we said our goodbyes to a good friend of my husband’s at his funeral. He was 33 years old, married to  a wonderful woman, and has 5 beautiful children. It was sudden, unexpected, and just so very sad. He lived a full, yet very short life. He brought life to all who knew him, and he was so good at bringing others together into community. He was a beautiful person, and he really did make an impact in the lives of those around him.

The loss of a loved one is such a hard thing. My sadness has been for my friend (his wife), and their kids. I’m just overwhelmed with so much love for them, and want to show that in a meaningful way to them. I keep thinking that right now she’s surrounded by family and friends who love her and loved her husband very much, and they’re all supporting her and holding them up. But in a few months, there won’t be as many rallying around her because life keeps on going even when these kinds of tragic things happen. That is when I want to be there for her.

When the flowers stop coming, the meals stop coming, and reality sets in that he is gone… that’s the desire of my heart is to be a blessing and a true friend to her then. Many tears of sadness have been shed today by my husband and I as well as many many others, and our friend will be missed.

She shared with me that the first few days after his passing, people just showed up with food. She was grateful for it, but felt so guilty because she knew that her family wouldn’t be able to eat it all before it went bad. And lots of it in the beginning was fresh fruit, meat trays, etc, and she couldn’t freeze some of it.

It got me thinking. Food is a universal sign of comfort and love, it’s something that brings all kinds of people together, and it is a way that we show our support during a time like this. We don’t want to go to someone’s house who just lost a loved one empty handed, so we bring a meal or a tray of some kind of food. It’s great, and she was very thankful.

I’m wondering if the next time you are faced with a situation like this one (I hope that you aren’t, but if you are…), consider bringing a gift card to the family. That way, after all the meals, flowers, cards, and other gestures stop coming, and the frozen meals are eaten… they can then have something to draw on. Consider it a delayed gift of love. Something they can use on an evening where they just don’t have it in them to cook, and they are really missing their loved one. They can go out to eat or even order in.

Or a few months after the meals have stopped, you can always go back in to their Food Tidings schedule that you were invited to, and order them a meal that will be delivered to them. Just because the schedule is done doesn’t mean you can’t still order them a meal. So that’s always a good option as well. 🙂

The other thing I am thinking is just to be there for them even a few months after the loss… consistently. Set up a weekly park day, a weekly or bimonthly dinner date where you invite them over to your house, or a game night monthly… just something that they can count on happening as part of their routine. And if they’re not up for it… ask them how you can help.

Just a few thoughts in the midst of this journey. Most of all, just love them!!

-Lisa 🙂

Thank you, Military Spouses!

10 May

Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day… we honor you! There is MUCH sacrifice for both being the spouse of someone in the military as well as being the person in the military. Thank you for your service and dedication to our country.

Here is an article I wrote a while back for an online magazine for military spouses called Wives In Bloom:

It was August 2011 when I got an email from a woman named Stephanie.  She let me know that she was about to coordinate seventeen meal schedules for seventeen different families who lost loved ones in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.  It was the same crash I had heard about on the news that day.  This was very real. These men were husbands, daddies, uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, and friends.  Seventeen families who were grieving the loss of their loved one and wondering how they were going to move forward.

Meet Stephanie.  She is an amazing woman, wife to her Navy husband, mom to 4 children, and she has a servant’s heart. Stephanie told me she had used Food Tidings many times before to create meal schedules for friends who had babies or lost loved ones, but never this many schedules at once.  She was willing, and she desired to bring the community on her base together to show love, care and concern to those seventeen families.

She did just that. “After an unfortunate event at our command, we contacted Lisa to brainstorm with her the best way to go about setting up multiple food tidings.  We set up a link for each family, which included the amount of people we were feeding, broken down by adults and children.  The link was also useful for setting up meals for the immediate family that came into town and for the members of the command (50 people) that were working around the clock to take care of the affected families.  We used foodtidings.com to both organize home cooked meals and meals donated by restaurants, “ said Stephanie.

Fellow military wives and friends from their command signed up to bring meals on different days, and as a result those precious families had nourishment during their darkest hours.  Those meals served as a beacon of light from the people who brought them.  They weren’t just meals, they were love shown, hope offered, an empathetic look, compassionate hugs, tears shared, and to me they were the definition of what it means to band together as a community.

This is why we created Food Tidings, and why we’re excited to share it with you.  When we hear of someone who is going through a transitional time in their life (like having a baby, having surgery and recovering, going through cancer treatment, grieving the loss of a loved one, etc), we want to “do something” to help lighten their load.

It’s hard to know what “something” we should do, and a meal is one of the best ways I know of that we can show we care.  We can thoughtfully pick a recipe we feel they’d enjoy (based on their likes and dislikes on their Food Tidings schedule that’s been created), lovingly purchase the ingredients needed, make the meal, and even pray for the person you’re bringing it to while you do so, and then warmly bring the meal to their doorstep.  It’s truly a beautiful picture of service to others. It’s a tangible way for us to be Jesus’ hands and feet, just as He’s called us to be. (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 25:35-40.)

I know that as Military wives, you are amazing at coming together as a community and supporting one another.  It’s what you do. You unite together and lift one another up in good times and difficult times. Food Tidings is a very efficient way to spend less time organizing the meals, and more time personally with one another. Stephanie added that this is a great tool for Ombudsmen as well as FRGs.  When you are ready to create a meal schedule, here are the 6 easy steps to follow:

1. Who? Assign who the meals will be for and their contact info

2. Where? Address, phone number, time to bring meals.

3. What? Enter important information such as how many are in the family, food likes and dislikes, any food allergies, and any other information necessary to know

4. When? Choose the dates meals are needed.

5. Invite others to sign up and cook. They will be able to enter what they plan to bring to avoid getting 5 lasagna dishes in one week. They will also get a reminder from us 2 days in advance for when and what they’re bringing.

6. Watch the recipient of the meals receive both love and food!

 

BIO: Lisa Shepherd has been married to her husband Zach for 9 years, and they have 4 beautiful children: ages 6, 5, 3, and 1.  She is a stay at home mommy and works from home part time as the Co-Founder of Food Tidings.  Most importantly, Jesus Christ is her whole reason for being, and she’s eternally grateful for His grace and His unconditional love.

Best Day Ever

3 May

Each week, I visit my grandparents who live not too far from me. And because we homeschool, my kids get to spend time with them as well.

This is a cherished and treasured time that I find absolutely invaluable on so many levels. My kids get to know their great grandparents, and have meaningful conversations with them, laugh with them, and create beautiful memories that I believe will last a lifetime for them. They love to swim, watch movies, have snacks, and play while we are there. Oh, and eat jelly beans. There are ALWAYS jelly beans there. 🙂

I absolutely adore my grandparents, and always have. I get to see, hug, laugh with, walk with them down memory lane (they just celebrated 57 years of marriage, have 6 kids, 17 grandkids, and great grandchild #17 is on the way!), we talk about food and recipes that we’d like to try (we love watching the Food Network together), and have very meaningful talks with my them. They have so much wisdom and insight, so much love, a great faith in Jesus, and I just feel like a sponge while I’m there- soaking it all in. When I’m at my grandparents’ house, all is right in the world. It’s hard to explain, but I just feel such peace when I’m there.

My grandma told me this week that she’s been waking up every day telling herself that today is her best day ever. She was inspired by a song that she heard on the radio about this being the best day, and so that’s what she’s been telling herself all day long. She said it has been exciting to see what God has in store for her when she thinks of each day as her best day. She also told me that she is validated in believing today is her best day because God tells us in the Bible that “this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us REJOICE and be GLAD in it!” (Psalm 118:24)

So moral of the story? Today is your best day EVER! Rejoice in this day and be glad, because this is the day the Lord has made! And the other moral of the story- spend time with those you love…only God knows the number of our days, so we can enjoy each one with gladness.

Thank you, Grandma. You are the most beautiful woman I know, and I love you!!

-Lisa

Happy National Sibling Day! :)

10 Apr

Today, April 10th, is National Sibling Day! I take that as a reminder to stop and be grateful for the siblings (and those who are so close to us that they’re like siblings!) that God gave us.

I really appreciate reminders like these because often times, for me, life just feels like it’s going by so FAST and I forget to slow down and look around. Loving those around me is one of my most important jobs here in Earth, and I admit that it’s easy to stray from that because of the business of life.

Laundry, making dinner, bills, taking kids to and from school and dr appointments, cleaning the house (I’d say my least favorite!), etc…. the list goes on. The crazy part is that as soon as I cross something like this off my list, another things goes on there! And not only that, but pretty soon after I’ve crossed something like laundry off my list…. it goes right back on! All of these things will always be on our lists.

We don’t know how much time God has given us with our loved ones. So today, be sure to take the time to tell those you love how much they mean to you. Sit down and write a few thank you cards that have been on your mental to do list (or is that just me that needs to do that ;)). Call or skype family or friends who are out of town. Laugh with your family tonight. Laughter is SO healing. A happy and joyful heart brings health to the bones… truly!

I know that’s what I’m going to go do… I’m headed to call my sisters! 🙂

Here are a few cute printables I wanted to share too….

 

 

a cheerful heart is good medicine

 

Information Please

23 Mar

My grandmother shared this story with me, and it truly touched me… I had tears streaming down my face by the end! It’s just an amazing reminder to be intentional with this life that God has given us!!! You can make a difference!!

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box.

I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother used to talk to it. Then discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person – her name was “Information Please” and there was nothing she did not know.

“Information Please” could supply any body’s number and the correct time.

My first personal experience with this genie_in_the_bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn’t seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway.

The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the foot stool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. “Information Please,” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.

“Information”

“I hurt my finger…” I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

“Isn’t your mother home?” came the question.

“No body’s home but me,” I blubbered.

“Are you bleeding?” the voice asked.

“No,” I replied. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.”

“Can you open your icebox?” she asked. I said I could.

“Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice.

After that, I called “Information Please” for everything. I asked her for help with my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk, that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary died. I called “Information Please” and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown ups say to soothe a child. But I was un-consoled. I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautiful and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?”

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, “Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.”

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone. “Information Please.”

“Information,” said the now familiar voice.

“How do you spell fix?” I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. “Information Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, In moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle I had about half_an_hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then, without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information, please.”

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.

“Information.”

I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying, “Could you please tell me how to spell fix?”

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, “I guess your finger must have healed by now.”

I laughed, “So it’s really still you,” I said. “I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time.”

“I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.”

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

“Please do,” she said. “Just ask for Sally.”

Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, “Information.”

I asked for Sally. “Are you a friend?” she said.

“Yes, a very old friend,” I answered.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said. “Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.” Before I could hang up she said, “Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you. The note said, “Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean.”  I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

*This story has been circulating around for quite some time now. It was first published in Readers Digest in 1966.*

 

A Beautiful Connection

22 Mar

I spoke with a woman on the phone today named Ange who had a few questions about how to invite others to sign up for her meal schedule. It was a very impactful conversation, and I’m so thankful that we got a chance to connect today.

I would love to share with you why I was so impacted

Ange has three daughters: 19, 16, and 13. Her precious 13 year old daughter, Alysha, is battling cancer for the second time. It’s osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and she has a second big surgery coming up next week.

She was sharing with me that the last time her and her husband took their sweet daughter in for her first surgery, they didn’t step foot out of the hospital for 7 days. So that’s 7 days, 2 meals a day (because she said when you’re under this kind of stress, you’re lucky to even get 2 meals a day), and that equals quite a bit of money spent on food, and it’s not even the greatest food around.

Ange is hoping that this time around, she can get a schedule going for their friends and family to bring her and her husband dinner each night that they’re there at the hospital with Alysha, to help offset the cost of eating out.

I think that’s an amazing idea. Not only will it offset the cost, but it will give them a familiar and loving face to see each night, support, encouragement, and food that’s not from a hospital cafeteria.

By the end of our conversation, we found out that we have much in common. They attend the church that we used to attend for years, and they know many of the people we know and love as well. We even live right down the street from each other, which to me is a total God thing… let me explain.

Food Tidings is used all over the US, in Australia, in the UK, and in other countries as well. Of all the emails I receive, I get to call on this one- and they just live miles from us. It’s just such a beautiful connection.

I believe that call was God reminding this family that He is there, He loves and cares for them, and he hears their prayers… and it showed me the same thing.

This is a huge reason my husband and I love being a part of Food Tidings. It brings people together. We have such an incredible opportunity by getting to be a part of things around here. We get to connect with others who are going through very difficult times and joyous times too, and we get to come alongside them and support them. Even if it’s just a listening ear, helping them by being a tool they can use (the site), to invite friends and family to love on them and bring them meals, an encouraging word in an email, etc. And if, like in this case, they live near us, we even get the honor of bringing them a meal and meeting face to face!

Would you say a prayer for my new friend Ange, her family, and her sweet daughter Alysha who is battling cancer? The surgery is next week on the 27th, and it’s going to be 10 hours long. Pray for strength, peace, and comfort for their whole family, as they walk this very tough journey. I know He will hear you, and I know that this wonderful family will very much appreciate it. Here’s her carepages site as well, in case you’d like to stay updated on how Alysha is doing. Also, here’s a link to hear more about Alysha’s journey.

I’m encouraged, amazed, and inspired by this beautiful family.

This quote is beautiful, and so true… reminded me of my new friends…

Meal Idea Monday: Gluten Free Chili AND a Beautiful Story of Love

11 Mar
Gluten Free Chili. Image from www.glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

Gluten Free Chili. Image from http://www.glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com

Hi there! I have a great meal idea to share with you today from The Gluten Free GoddessGluten Free Chili. This website is FULL of great gluten free meal ideas. This recipe could be vegan or it could have turkey or chicken added to it.

I checked out this website because I got a Food Tidings invite for a friend I went to school with, and her family eats gluten free. Her name is Jamie, and she and her family (husband, daughter, and son) just adopted a SWEET little girl from India. It was quite a process, but SO worthwhile! They have the most amazing story, and you’ve just GOT to check out her blog called A Worthy Journey because she has taken her readers along with her on this journey of adoption, as well as their journey with food allergies and spina bifida (both her daughter and her adopted daughter have spina bifida- I’m telling you, this family is AMAZING!) It’s a wonderful blog, and Jamie has the most beautiful heart and it shines through in her writing!

I hope you all have a fabulous week, and enjoy every moment God gives you! There are SO many reasons to SMILE!!! 🙂

Experiencing Loss

27 Apr

About eight years ago, I had a miscarriage. I was 9 1/2 weeks along, and I just knew something was not right before I even had symptoms that confirmed that. I was so scared, and my husband was at work, so my mom went with me to have an ultrasound to see if everything was okay.

There I lay on the cold table at the Dr’s office, watching the screen of the ultrasound maching and wondering what I would even be looking for if everything was okay. I felt very vulnearable, scared, and a sense of loss. The ultrasound tech confirmed that there was no longer a heartbeat, and also said that it looked like it was twins. Woah. I was excited at the idea that we could’ve had twins, and sad that it wasn’t going to happen all at the same time.

The rest of the day is a blur in my memory. My Dr. explained that 1 in 4 pregnancies end this way, and that it’s the body’s way of helping when something was probably very wrong with the baby or babies. He was kind, and said that it was nothing that I did or didn’t do, and that it just happens. He suggested that I have a D&C to help my body with the process that had already begun to occur. So that’s what we did.

I remember laying in the recovery area, and telling the nurse that it was twins. I was so incredibly sad, and I wondered if I’d ever be able to have a baby. The fear and sadness I felt was pretty overwhelming. I had amazing support in my family and friends, but it was a very difficult time.

It took us a year to get pregnant again, and each month leading up to getting pregnant, I would cry when I’d realize that that wasn’t the month. I didn’t want to worry or be fearful. I knew logically that God is the one who decides when the right timing of things is and I wanted to trust Him, but I struggled for sure. A book that helped me a ton during that time, and even once I got pregnant with my first (because I had to be on bedrest from experiencing spotting for the first trimester) was

Now I’m grateful and humbled to say that God has blessed us with four beautiful children since then. Sometimes I think about how things might have been if we were able to have the twins, and how different life would be. But then I realize that if that had happened, we probably wouldn’t have the four amazing kids that we are so blessed to have now.

But I know that everyone’s story is different. Some women carry their babies to full term and deliver them stillborn. Some deliver their sweet baby, and he or she only lives for a very short time, never able to leave the hospital. Some women are not able to get pregnant at all, and go through the grief of not being able to birth a child of their own. These are stories, experiences, and emotions that I know many women have, and also stories that aren’t told very often. They are memories that are held onto in the hearts of so many.

When it happens to someone you know, what do you do? What do you say? How do you help and show your love? I know those are the questions I have had when it’s happened to a few friends of mine.

Here is a beautiful article from a wonderful woman that I had the pleasure of hearing speak at a blogging conference last year. She recently experienced the loss of her precious daughter, Afton Jean. She wrote about five things you can say or do for a friend who has experienced a loss. I’m so grateful for this article and for the heart of Kami, that she wants to help others as they grieve their way through these difficult times. She’s a tremendous writer and a very talented photographer.

My biggest take away from her article was that saying “let me know if you need anything” is one of the worst things you could say. She uses a quote from Ronald A. Rasband to explain why that’s not helpful, and I think she’s exactly right. Here’s the quote: “”If you came upon a person who was drowning, would you ask if he needs help, or would it be better to just jump in and save him from the deepening waters. The offer whilst well-meaning and often given: ‘let me know if I can help?’ is really no help at all.” – Ronald A. Rasband”

So, here’s where Food Tidings comes in. If you know someone who has experienced a loss of some kind, make them a meal schedule. Get your friends and family together, and invite them to sign up and bring a meal. It’s a tangible way to share your love and care with them. Then you can incorporate a few of Kami’s suggestions when you bring the meal. I think that by just bringing the meal, and being there will mean so much.