Why I (Over)Share the Hard Stuff

It’s been a while since I have written here.  I could say ten different reasons why, but that is for another blog post (or most likely not).

One of the main reasons is that there is just only so much of Steph to go around.  I am saving the best parts of me for my family.  Right now that means going to chemo with my Dad every Monday.

Every week Dad and I take a selfie with a quick update, and I post it on my personal Instagram and Facebook.  Some may wonder why I (over)share about such a personal subject in a public forum.  Here are just a few reasons why I let everyone in:

  • I covet your Prayers.  I want prayers from far and wide to cover my parents, my sister and I.  I have been in a crisis situation where the prayers of my family, friends and strangers alike literally held me up.  I want that kind of strength and peace for my family that only comes through prayer.  That is the peace of God that passes all understanding that you can only have through Christ (Phillipians 4:7).
  • I want to share our Smiles & Faith.  Dad was diagnosed with a very rare, stage 4 Cancer that is not operable nor curable.  The diagnosis was very bleak when we heard it almost two years ago.  Yet we hold our hope in Jesus, so we can smile every week.  Sure there are definitely a lot of tears too.  However, we know no matter how hard things get, Jesus has us wrapped in His arms.  I am so grateful to my parents for raising my sister in I to know and love Jesus, so that we have the Faith needed to make it through the difficult times in life.  There is no greater gift that a parent can give a child.
  • I want to be a Friend.  I can’t tell you how many people who have approached me because they are either dealing with something similar with a parent or have in the past.  Whether they can share some of their wisdom with me from their experiences or we can commiserate together about our pain, it helps us both feel better and not quite so alone in our pain.
  • I want to get REAL.  In a world where your FB & Instagram feed is full of date nights, football games and pretty Christmas trees, I want to sprinkle in some reality.  If you were to see me at the kids’ school, at work, church, or Publix, you would have no clue that I am dealing with such a difficult situation.  Life doesn’t slow down just because you have a crisis you are dealing with at home. You have to keep up with life and responsibilites.  There are people you cross in your life every day that are dealing with BIG things every day, and you don’t know it.  Always be ready to give an extra bit of grace.  The person that may be a little short with you…..the email/text that goes without a reply a little too long…..the mom that may forget to sign a folder or put $$ in her kids’ lunch account 🙋🏻😳 😂  Have a little extra patience and understanding with your fellow man.  You may (or rather WILL!!) need it one day too!

So here we are another Monday with Pa Pa.

No other place I would rather be!

Pa Pa Collage

 

When God’s answer is NO

Yes.

No.

Or the dreaded…WAIT.

Those are the answers that God typically gives us when we pray for something.

Sometimes we have to pray a long time to get an answer.

In 2013, I spent many nights crying and praying.  My husband I were going through fertility treatments with our remaining frozen embryos (our sweet totsicles 🙂  Would I have another sweet baby to snuggle and rock in the wee hours of the night?  Would I give my kids the baby that they asked me for every single day?  Oh please God say YES!!

After a year of failed fertility treatments, I got an answer.  When I had to have surgery to remove my fallopian tubes, the answer was not only a NO, but a “Not Now.  Not EVER!”  It was devastating.  I couldn’t understand why He not only said NO, but slammed the door shut on the possibility to have another baby.  All of my hope was gone.  And honestly, my feelings were hurt.  Why did it have to be so final??  It took me a while to get back on good speaking terms with God.

Fast forward to four years later…

As I was having my quiet time this morning, the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  Saying NO in such a permanent way was the most loving thing that God could do for you.  He wasn’t slamming the door in my face as I felt years ago.  He was wrapping me in His arms and forcing me to face my reality and heal.  God knew me.  He knew that I love babies and would still want to have another one.  He knew if I thought there was even a slight chance that I could get pregnant, I would continue to try.

Infertility robbed my husband and I of so many years in our marriage.  Over the last four years, we have been able to heal and strengthen our marriage.  No consulting a calendar to determine when to be romantic.  No month to month roller coaster of hormones and emotions.  By God taking the possibility of becoming pregnant away from me, He allowed me to focus on the many blessings in my life.

I broke my seven month hiatus of writing because I wonder if anyone else is struggling with an answer that God has given you?  Maybe your feelings are hurt.  Maybe you don’t understand why He had to answer that way.  Maybe you aren’t quite on speaking terms with God right now.

It is hard for us as humans to see beyond this snapshot in time.  God sees the whole eternal picture.  I am so grateful that God gave me the insight into why he said NO and reminded me how deep His love is.

If you or a loved one is battling infertility, you can read more about my story in my book, “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility…Twice.”

If you would like a prayer partner, send me a message.  I would love to be your prayer warrior.  I only got through my tough times by the power of my friends and family’s prayers.

John 116

 

 

 

Beauty from Ashes Interview

I wanted to share my interview with fellow Christian author, Ginny Priz, about my battle with Infertility.  It is filled with a message of HOPE in a very desperate time.  Please share with someone who has a similar struggle or maybe just loves someone that is dealing with Infertility.

Stephanie Greer – Beauty From Ashes interview

For more information, you can read my book, “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility…Twice.”

Full Heart Empty Womb

Beauty from the Ashes

FB_Feed_Stephanie_Greer

Want some inspiration and HOPE over the next 10 days?

My friend and fellow Christian author, Ginny Priz, is hosting an interview series called “Beauty from Ashes” on her website.  She is interviewing 10 amazing women about how God helped them find HOPE in spite of their bad circumstances.  And guess what??  I am one of them!  I will be sharing about how God helped strengthen me through my battle with Infertility on Thursday, August 25th.

Please take a few and hop on over to Ginny’s website, sign up for the series, and be inspired!

 

How We Are Ditching the Girl DRAMA

Giggling. Dancing. Hugging. Singing Adele in 3 different keys. . .

And that is all in the first five minutes of my 9 year old daughter’s sleepover.

Then in the next 5 minutes. . .

Huffing. Puffing. Foot stomping. And of course….the dreaded eye roll.

GIRL DRAMA. As irrational as it is, it is totally natural. Or as my husband, Eric, insists when there are more than one females in a room together…it is inevitable.  😜

I LOVE that my daughter has found other strong girls with likewise strong personalities. I can’t wait to watch them grow up, take on this world and see what God has in store for them.

However, when they are young, sometimes they can trip over their big personalities and bruise some feelings on their way down. That is where us big girls who have been there and done that can help. We can’t totally ditch the Drama.  However, we can help our girls side step some of the theatrics and learn to face it head on when it can’t be avoided.

So this morning before our fruit, bacon and waffles, we had a Mama and girls pow wow. We brainstormed what we could do to take care of our friendships.

Here is what the girls pledged to Ditch the Girl Drama:

  • Be Kind.  Kindness comes from the heart; it is love in action.  I love my friends, so I Southern Lady-8will treat them with love and respect.  But…
  • If I Get My Feelings Hurt, I Will Talk it Out With my Friend…Not Other Girls.  The best way I can deal with a situation is to go straight to my friend and talk to her about it.  Talking to someone else about it is just gossiping and may hurt someone else’s feelings.  Who knows?  Maybe I just misunderstood! But if not…
  • Ask for Forgiveness & Forgive Easily because…
  • I Understand We All Make Mistakes.  No one is perfect!  We all talk or act before we think sometimes. And then I will…
  • Learn From My Mistakes.  I love and respect my friends, so I will do my best to make better choices next time.  And, of course, I will. . .
  • ALWAYS Have My Friend’s Back!  Even though we decided to ditch the drama, there are girls that thrive on drama.  We will support and take care of each other.  Always.

As I type this, they are again giggling, singing and dancing to JT.

Funny. I plan on doing that very same thing this weekend on my Girls Weekend with my girlfriends of over 20 years.

I pray these sweet girls will be doing the same with each other in 2036.

the girls

 

How to Survive VBS

“If you want to make the leap from awesome husband to ‘out of this world husband,’ you will go get me a Sonic Diet Coke every morning this week!!” I hinted to my husband.

#DesperateTimes

Loud music. (played on repeat in your head forever.) Louder kids. (outnumbered 5 to 1.) Running around. (Non-stop for 4 straight hours)

And I signed up for it. With a smile.

It’s VBS.  Say Ya Ya Ya Ya Yes for the Va Va B B S!!!!! (Now that is stuck in my mind!!)

I have taught VBS for the last several years. Every year I say it is my last year. And every year I sign up for more responsibility the following year 😉 VBS is like childbirth. You forget about all the aches and pains and just remember the pure JOY. Like watching my sweet 1st graders sing, “I Am Remarkably Made!” Their precious smiles shine with their belief of every word they sing to the tips of their sweet totsies.

Here are 10 ways I Survive VBS:

  1. Procrastinate Not –   Some people work best under pressure. I just curl in a corner and cry if I get overwhelmed. VBS can make you feel like you are swamped with so much material! Bible Lessons, crafts, memory verses, games, and the list goes on! I start 6 weeks before VBS and tackle a day each week. On the sixth week, I review the whole week. For each day, I will make lists of materials I need to buy and materials I need to bring from home for that day. I will also go ahead and complete any copies or cutting out that needs to be done. Spreading it out makes is less intimidating. I get a big grocery sack and put all the materials needed for each day and label with the day of the week.  Has the procrastination ship already sailed?  Skip to #9 😉
  2. Teamwork– Get together with your fellow teachers. 2, 3, 4 heads are better than 1! Talking through the lessons with your peers will help you decide what will work best for your group. You can also go in together and get some wonderful things from Oriental Trading to help your week. Decorations and small prizes are reasonable and worth every penny. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to!
  3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate – If you are fortunate to have extra helpers for your VBS, then use them! In my classroom, we split up the Bible lesson, craft and game. Whoever owns that task they OWN it! It is their responsibility to make sure all the supplies are in order and lead that activity. You don’t have to do it all on your own. I love to involve our Youth in VBS. Some are proactive and others may need a bit more direction. Even if it is getting them to just sit between Chatty Cathy and Handsy MaGee, it is all appreciated!! And the kids LOVE to have the cool teenagers in the classroom. Honestly, it is as much a ministry to the youth as it is to our little ones! They are all the future of our Church.
  4. Visuals Engrave the Lessons in Their Little Minds – Any time you can include a
    Ocean Trenches

    Ocean Trench “Submerged” VBS

    visual aid in telling your story, it will help leave a lasting impression in the kids’ hearts and minds. Costumes, acting out scenes, and science experiments all engage the children. Engaged kids are listening and learning.  I also love any visual that the children can take home as a conversation starter. Now VBS is reaching others that didn’t even attend! This week we gave our kids a sticker with a porpoise on it. When asked, the kids can explain that God has a specific purpose for each and every one of them 😉

  5. Decorating: Less is More –In this Pinterest world, it is easy to get caught up in “who has the coolest room” mentality. The focus of the week really needs to be God’s Word and sharing His love with the children. I am not crafty. My prize decoration was a jellyfish made out of a Dollar Tree shower cap and curling ribbon. (I will admit I got a ton of compliments on it that made this girl feel pretty Miss Crafty!) Don’t worry about the decorations. After the initial excitement of walking into the cool VBS room, the kids are over it. They are ready to learn and be entertained! You do that…not the room J
  6. Don’t Overschedule – VBS week can be energizing and exhausting all at the same time. When we get home after a morning at VBS, I just need a bit to sit and decompress. I am so glad that we made a decision to not plan much of anything during the week of VBS. We go to VBS, enjoy family time, rest up and maybe have some pool time since it is 100 degrees this week!!!
  7. Invite Friends – Every year I ask my kids to give me a list of kids to invite to VBS. Southern Lady-7Most years I get a lot of no’s, but we never gave up asking. This year I hit the jackpot. I got six awesome kids to come with us! I had the extreme privilege to hold one of our sweet friend’s hand as she prayed and asked Jesus to live in her heart.   Bless. It doesn’t get better than that.
  8. Trust the Holy Spirit – Often the parents have been planting seeds of God’s Word and Truth throughout the children’s lives. As teachers, we throw some VBS Miracle Grow on those seeds. Sometimes we have the privilege to introduce God’s love to kids to the first time. We do our part. We plan. We prepare. We practice our lessons. But it is the Holy Spirit that will prepare their little hearts for Jesus. We don’t have to carry that burden. We just do our part in God’s plan for the children’s salvation.  It’s not our job to “save” anyone.  Only Jesus can do that.
  9. Pray, Pray and Pray Some More – The whole week needs to be wrapped in prayer. From the workers to the children to the children’s parents. We need to be praying for the Holy Spirit to be present, for our words to be His, and for His love to be overflowing through us.
  10. Don’t Skip the Snack Table – Did I mention that the snacks are miraculously negative calories during VBS week?  A Twix bar and a Diet Coke two hours after breakfast every day are totally necessary.  Ministering to God’s children can boost your mood and your appetite.  😉

Now for a week long nap if I could just get that music outta my head…

20 things I would say to my 19 year old self

TheSouthernLadyMamaLogoWhat would I say if I ran into my 19-year-old self back in 1996?

“You are totally rockin the Rachel haircut, but you may want to rethink the overalls and Birkenstocks”????

Probably, but I would like to think I have learned a few other things in the last 20 years that I could pass along…

  • Embrace your college years. It really is the time of your life.
  • I know you desperately want to move into an apartment and be grown up. You have the rest of your life to worry about paying bills. Enjoy the cafeteria and showers you don’t have to wash while you can.
  • Pay attention to the one class in college that teaches you about the internet aka “the world wide web.” It will kinda be a big deal.
  • Don’t be afraid to stray from the pack. Sometimes the pack takes the wrong path.
  • In a few years you will get your first cell phone. Several years after that, your iPhone will take the place of your watch, planner, calculator, camera, and Discman. Don’t let it take the place of real life. You never had all those things in your back pocket 24/7, so don’t feel like you have to now.
  • Pound the pizza now. Your metabolism sets sail at 38 with no return in sight.
  • You will never need to be ashamed of your NSync obsession. Get a poster of the curly headed one for over your bed, he too will kinda be a big deal.
  • Save your $$ and don’t buy those Rollerblades. Your mama will make you buy a ton of safety gear that will make you look like a dork. And you suck at skating.
  • Don’t just go for the nerd, be the nerd. Nerds rule the real world.
  • Go ahead and move to NYC after you graduate. If you don’t do it when you are young, you never will. Just know that you won’t have a big periwinkle colored apartment and drink coffee all day at Central Perk. And you can always move back home.
  • Listen to what your parents say. They actually have been there, done that and want to help you. And one day you will have kids and payback is a b!tch.
  • Embrace how God made you and quit trying to change it. (IE… no amount of squats will remove the junk from your trunk and put the flat iron in the drawer for good.)
  • Hold tight to your girlfriends. The same ones that stay up late watching “Fear” with you now, will be the ones that hold your hand and wipe your tears later. It will take a conscious effort to stay close as you age, but it is worth it.
  • You can’t change him. Love him the way he is or move on because one day you will have children with him and they will inherit all of his…quirks 😉
  • Enjoy whatever stage in life you are in…even if they last a little longer than you anticipated.
  • Learn to praise God in the hallway while you wait for the door to open. Look behind you. The door you expect to open isn’t always the one that does! Trust in God’s plan for your life.
  • Many things will go your way, but some won’t. It’s when they don’t that you will have the opportunity to become a better person.
  • Learn from your mistakes you made and forgive yourself immediately. God already has. You are no better than Him, right?
  • Be diligent about taking your quiet time with yourself and the Lord. These quiet moments are where you will find your true strength.
  • Never be afraid to reinvent yourself…even at 39.