GOODBYES ARE HARD...
I'm at a crossroads. This post makes me sad. For so long I've tried to balance how much of my personal life I share here. I believe the most relatable content is that which is true and authentic, so here we go...
I've had the privilege and joy of publishing She Heard Magazine for the past (almost) 2 years. This Fall would mark the 2-year anniversary of its launch.
Each quarter I set out to source inspirational and Godly articles and ministries to encourage and edify our community. I've worked with some of the most incredible women and felt the weight of the responsibility to represent and deliver their stories well. I figuratively held these women's hearts and deepest experiences with God in my hands and I never forgot that.
If you don't already know, not only am I a wife and mother of 6 (3 teens and 3 tweens), I'm also the Director of Women's Ministry and the Creative Director at my church. I'm a 3rd grade public school teacher to boot. I teach in a low socio-economic, Title I school. I encounter many precious, broken kiddos who need far more than the 3 R's. Teaching is an emotionally, physically, and mentally draining job. It's also wildly rewarding in many ways. My first year of teaching was the hardest of all. I had no idea the toll it would take on my mental and physical health. The demands from the district, the state, administration, and the parents (not to mention those students who required so much more than I had to give) drove me to a place that I wasn't sure I would recover from. I barely functioned to meet my family's needs and my husband (as usual) was invaluable and amazing through it all. It was all I could do to get myself through the day, and most nights I was in bed by 6 PM. I was depleted. Out of gas. I don't talk about that dark time very often with anyone, and I don't know that I've mentioned it here much. It was a long, dark, hard season. I remember a time at my lowest point when I committed to wake up each morning at 6 AM to sit in my closet and pray. Some mornings I couldn't even speak. Other times I read from the Psalms because my own words wouldn't come. I maintained that appointment every morning, even when I had the flu and could barely get out of bed. I believe it was that dedication to seek Him even in my brokenness that was pivotal to my healing. And even through all of that, I never walked away from She Heard. I took breaks, but I never quit. I thought it was just a matter of time until it launched and would become my main focus (outside of my family, of course.)
Why am I telling you all this?
Because today I am officially announcing that She Heard Magazine is indefinitely on hiatus.*
I almost want to stop typing at this point, but there's so much more to share. I long to be in the center of God's will and a soul willing to obey quickly. But if I'm being honest, a little part of me feels like it's dying. You see, for the past 5 years (well, 8 1/2, really) I have longed to make She Heard a full-time ministry that could enable me to follow God's call and pour my efforts into what makes my heart sing: women's ministry and writing. My school years have been filled with stress and busy-ness as I eeked out precious few moments to focus on She Heard, and then paid the price for burning the candle at both ends. The summers became a blur of striving and more eeking to set She Heard up to be ready to fully launch before the next school year. Each summer began with the thought of, "will this be the year I resign from teaching to launch into this amazing ministry full time?" And each year so far has had the same outcome.
So, as I begin readying my classroom for year 5, my heart is a little heavier and my eyes are a little misty. I share all of this to let you see a vulnerable side of me and my walk with God. I know all too well how easy it is to look at the blips on social media and assume someone has it "all together," that they have this walking with God thing all figured out. I assure you, I don't.
Tonight finds me a little more raw than usual and willing to bare my soul here in this space. It's not that She Heard is ending completely, and I'm grateful for that. It's just that my dreams (as I saw them) are dying. And, before you rush to tell me this or that about how I'm feeling, let me just say that if it's what God is calling me to, than they can't die fast enough. However, I am fully human and the loss is definitely felt. BUT...I can't run ahead. I can't lag behind. And I can't run off the path.
Like the woman at the well, the very woman where She Heard got its name (John 4), I find Jesus right in the middle of my brokenness. He never turns me away, even when I'm struggling, even when I have questions. In fact, it's in these moments when my heart is hurting and my feelings are on my sleeve that He feels closest.
Friends, I don't know where you are tonight. Maybe your heart is hurting too. Maybe you're unsure. Maybe you're angry at God that things didn't go the way you'd hoped. Our circumstances may be different, but our God is the same: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Let's raise a hallelujah to that! Let's commit to walk this walk with confidence in God even when that looks like knocking knees and quivering voices.
So...instead of polished and tied with a bow, tonight I present to you raw and real. But it's in these raw, real moments where we find Jesus.
And my heart knows the truth...where He leads me I will be happiest, most fulfilled. He gives abundantly more than we could ever ask for or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He is a good God (Psalm 101:1) and wants only the best for me (Jeremiah 29:11). When I trust Him and seek Him above all else, that's when I find the true Treasure: Him.
So, while the magazine will not be publishing for the foreseeable future, we will be featuring incredible women and ministries on our blog. Please stay tuned for other amazing ways that God can use this mighty community for HIs glory! And thank you for being a part of this community.
*From this point forward, all subscriptions will be frozen and you will no longer be charged. Should we decide to move forward at a later time with publishing, you will receive communication in advance with the option to opt out of your subscription.
This article originally appeared in She Heard Magazine, Summer 2021. Click HERE to find the Summer issue in our shop.
For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56:13
I think everybody has heard the reference to life as the dash between our birth and our death. Seemingly, so short when compared to eternity. There is an emphasis on what we do with the time we are given. We were chosen for this exact period in time, placed in circumstances that are to be celebrated or overcome. When it’s all said and done and we are called home, someone spends time reflecting on our life, their interpretation of it, and stands before our friends and family and gives a eulogy, meant to highlight the bright spots and frame the best of us for people to hold onto until we gradually fade from our existence here on Earth.
The summary of the space between our birth and our death only contains the highlights. But so much of that space belongs only to us. The long drives lost in silent thoughts. The questioning, the struggles, the wondering, the regrets, the secret dreams. Well, not only to us, but to us and God. Most of life isn’t flagged for the highlight reel of our eulogies. Most of life is simply a slow walk with God.
think about the people of the Bible. We all know how God used them and what they will forever be known for, but for everything that is written about them, there are thousands of days of their lives that remain unwritten. Most of life is not remarkable. But it’s these unwritten days that challenge us and shape us the most. These days erode our flesh and bare our souls.
Little by little, question by question, prayer by prayer, we try to figure out what our purpose is; whether we are making the right decisions...wondering if we are where God needs us to be?
As Christians we look to the Bible during times of uncertainty. Sometimes it’s frustrating to me because the people in the Bible usually seem so sure of everything. Even in their pain and suffering, they remain devoted and faithful. But I must remember that the Bible features the summary of their stories... the highlights which contain the moral or the lesson we are to remember...long after their lives on Earth.
I sometimes wish the Bible took the time to explore the unwritten days. I think about the book of Ruth, a story of unwavering faithfulness and devotion through uncertain times. The book is so short. To read it, you would think Ruth’s journey back to Bethlehem with Naomi and the time she spent with her before meeting Boaz was mere days. But we know that’s not true. I reread her story the other day and thought about all the days of Ruth’s life not included on the pages. I’m certain there were long days of nothingness, days full of frustration and questions, days spent wondering about God’s plan and her future. What we get in Ruth is a peek into the defining moments, the loss of her husband, her choice to remain with her mother-in-law, a glance of her sister-in-law choosing the easier path, a taste of her struggles in Bethlehem and then the big ending...God’s mercy, love and faithfulness through a man named Boaz who secured Ruth’s name in the lineage of David.
I must remember that Ruth was no different than I am. She had to accept her circumstances and find ways to celebrate the good and overcome the bad. I’m sure she became impatient. There must have been times she wavered and questioned. Surely there were days she got off the path and struggled to find her way back. Ruth was human and that’s what we do.
Finding God’s faithfulness in the midst of our humanness is what fills most of the days of our lives. The long days of waiting, wondering, trying, giving up and trying again, fill all that space in between the highlights. Life is the exploration of God’s faithfulness despite our meandering hearts and feet. And somehow, along the way, with every exhale we take comes the gradual release of uncertainties as we inhale more of Him....seeking Him through every carefully crafted experience He allows in our lives. The long days of nothingness, the changing of seasons, the silence, the questions, the doubt and eventually, after time and tribulations...the revelations come along and God gifts us with a highlight moment.
Keep walking with God....slowly, day after day. It’s the slow walk that prepares us for the highlights. It’s the slow walk that helps us appreciate the bigger moments. Each day of life is a gift, an important part of the grander picture. The struggles, the uncertainties, the questions, the wondering all work together to bring us closer to Him. The pushes and the pulls of God’s hands on our lives are present in every single one of our days here on Earth. Embrace the slow walk, know you are human...just like Ruth...and know whether you feel it or not, He is right by your side working all things for your good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
This article originally appeared in She Heard Magazine, Summer 2021. Click HERE to find the Summer issue in our shop.
She died on the 7th of September, my birthday. It was less than two years since her husband passed and no one expected her sudden illness that led to her passing, especially my husband and his siblings.
Standing in the same funeral home so soon had a terrible familiarity. How could this be happening? That question raced through my mind a multitude of times that day. What began as a possible case of bronchitis at the local urgent clinic led to an emergency hospital visit with an array of tests and a prognosis our family could not digest. It was confirmed that my mother-in-law had multiple heart attacks and only 10% of her heart was functioning. This news hit everyone hard and was further complicated by a diabetes diagnosis.
My mother-in-law was a strong, faith-filled woman. A mother of four who had lost her firstborn during a difficult birth. She had lived through the rawest of pain which should have been a very joyous time in a new mother’s life. It was her trust in God that helped her find joy years later with the birth of three more children.
As her body betrayed the assistance of the machines and medicines, we stood circling her hospital bed in the cold hospital room praying. She knew that her reward awaited her and her eyes were heavy and destined for home. As we quietly whispered our goodbyes and held her hands tightly, her grip eased and this lovely woman entered into eternal rest.
We had no idea what awaited us the following months. Tragedy brings heartache along with many questions to the deeper meaning of life. My husband and I had two beautiful girls who kept us busy and moving forward but the absence of his parents remained. On long walks, we discussed how short and unpredictable life was. We also talked about God’s purpose for our life.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you-oracle of the Lord-plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”
We hoped to adopt later on but conversations began of trying to conceive another child. Our youngest daughter was only six months old. Pregnancy had not been easy and I was hesitant to trust a new plan; especially, a plan that would bring big change to our young family. Did we have enough room or enough money for another child so soon? Were we ready for another baby? Many questions peppered our minds and we didn’t have all the answers. We prayed and asked for God’s help. We trusted His plan for our lives not knowing if they included adoption or another biological child.
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely.”
Within a couple of months, we conceived our third child. We were very excited and nervous! On the 7th of July, our son was born and weighed 7 lbs. 7 ounces. Seven, a number throughout Sacred Scripture symbolic of completeness. God’s goodness was upon us and our baby boy’s life brought us great joy through the difficult time our family experienced by an unseen plan.
Mary Wharton lives in Saint Augustine, Florida. She is married with 3 children. She left corporate America over 5 years ago to stop living a lukewarm Christian life and be intentional on living God’s plan for her life. It hasn’t been easy at times and she still has many questions, but God is faithful. She has learned that surrendering isn’t a weak characteristic but one of strength. She enjoys leading women’s ministry in her parish through Bible studies and speaking.
This space is reserved for Founder Mandy's perspectives and viewpoints of Scripture. Man is fallible, but God is not. It's strongly encouraged that you study the Scripture for yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in your understanding.
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