• Her Story of Faith. Meet Michelle...

    Seems like it was just yesterday that the word FAITH became so real.  I was loading up in the car with my family to find out who's bet was right. I saw a tiny little body on the screen and a heart that was racing. I remember asking the sonographer if everything was ok. She replied that my doctor would go over the sono with me. We continued laughing and talking about how my husband was already planning his hunting wardrobe. We named him Piercen. His Sissy loved that name. The sonographer wiped the gel off my belly and told us to go to the waiting room and my doctor would follow up with me. The waiting room was full of big beautiful bellies. Sissy stared at her little brother and asked me a million and one questions about what makes him a boy and her a girl...(deep breaths on those questions). 

    .....and then the nurse opened the door and said Mrs. Hudgeons, the doctor needs to talk to you. My heart hit the floor. I asked if my family could come and she said not now....she needs to talk to you. She walked me to the sono room. Pictures of my Piercen were scattered all over the table. Too many pictures to even fathom. My doctor wrapped her arms around me and said, "things are not good." I couldn't stand. I couldn't breathe. I was broken. Shattered. As if someone dropped a glass vase on tile floor. That glass vase was me. 

    She started telling me things like "lemon sign", and "hydrocephalus", and "split spine", "wheelchair", "clubbed feet", "trach", "chari malformation" and "no kidneys", "no bladder".... and that I was the first patient they had seen that had ever received this diagnosis. All these things she was telling me were coming at me like cars on a freeway. I understood nothing. I was blank. I was alone. I told her I needed my family. 

    My family came in. I looked at my husband, momma, mother-in-law, and daughter. Their face showed fear. They knew something wasn't okay. The doctor asked if our daughter needed to stay and I said yes. She needed to know why her mommy was broken. The doctor told them everything......everything after that is a blur. 

    My husband picked me up and helped me walk out the door. I didn't sleep... for days...when I would dose off, everything replayed in my head. I woke up thinking maybe it was all a dream. It wasn't. It was real. 

    We needed prayer. We needed an army of prayer. We needed to know that things were going to be okay. That our family was going to be okay. We needed strength to keep going. We needed wisdom to make decisions. We needed patience as we waited for the next report. We needed peace and understanding to know that God had everything already laid out for us. 

    Over the next 5 months, that day replayed over and over in my head. At each and every doctor's visit, news just seemed to get worse. Several doctors encouraged abortion. We chose life for Piercen. 

    Here we are 2 years later. He is here. He has kidneys (that work perfect), a bladder (that is working like a champ), no clubbed feet (his feet are formed perfect and wiggle from time to time), with hydrocephalus (that is managed with a shunt), a chari malformation (that is so slight that the doctors said it is barely malformed), no trach, thriving, talking, rolling in his wheelchair, eating, laughing, smiling,....and inspiring lives all across this world through his Facebook prayer page, Prayers for Piercen. 

    As I look back to January 28, 2014, I am so grateful for the blessing that took place in that dark, cold room. Could I have told you that 2 years or so ago. Probably not. But something I have learned on this Journey, is that if we choose to turn our trials into joy, our God will bless us more than our hearts can fathom. I do not know what each day will hold for us. But what I do know, is that it isn't for me to control. I can't. It's for God's hands. I have learned to give each day, each doctor's visit, and every ounce of fear to him. I have learned to choose faith over fear. He graciously shows us blessing upon blessing. Two years ago I was scared at what life would be like for our daughter. Her life is better because of it. She asked Jesus into her heart on a swing in her Mamaw's backyard; she has witnessed to several children at her school, and she loves in a way that inspires me every day.  

    I can't imagine our lives without Piercen. He is our angel baby. The blessing we never knew we needed.  “Do not be afraid, only believe.”Mark 5:36

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    Join Michelle's journey, be encouraged by her faith and heart! 

    (Personal) IG: MichelleHudgeons
    (Prayers for Piercen) IG: Prayersforpiercen
    BLOG: Smitten with First

     

  • Her Story of Grace. Meet Angie...

    Meet Angie! 
    Hi Friends! I am Angie, wife and mama, who adores her family. I have been married for 10 years and we have three beautiful children together. We live outside of Dallas and I am blessed to work at school and be with my kiddos. Here is my story of Grace and how God changed my heart and soul. 
    A lot of times I don’t share my story because I feel like where do I begin and sometimes Satan just likes to remind me of who I once was or where I came from. I also feel like I have a two part story that really shaped my faith in God and has carried me to where God needed me to be to truly see his beauty from ashes. He was good when there was nothing good in me.
     
    By the age of fifteen I had been through some heavy trials and burdens that I look back on and honestly can’t imagine how I overcame. I was deeply hurt emotionally and physically and at that age and living an environment surrounded by drugs and mental illness, I chose a hard life not even imagining the life I could have. A life of feeling unloved, deeply broken, and worthless. I turned to smoking, drinking, and eventually led to using drugs. I was heavily burdened with anger and hurt that I continued to hurt myself running from the problems and doing anything to escape the pain and to fulfill the emptiness and love I was desperately craving.
    Without going into heavy details I will fast forward to highs school, I wanted more. I had this fire in my soul that I didn’t even know how to handle. I had many friends, I became active in school but the pain didn’t go away. I was extremely relied on at home to help with everything and I was challenged trying to be a child and expected to act like an adult. I was hurting more than I realized and Satan had a plan to destroy me.
    At that time I didn’t know Christ and I had no desire too. I wanted more than anything to be loved and I able to get that fulfillment with friends and the partying began again. I quickly found myself sinking and getting high to just feel good and not hurt anymore. I began drinking so much I was getting terribly sick. I wanted it all to end and I struggled with living and continued to rely on substances to cover the pain and heartache. I was completely lost and could not handle the lies in my head any longer. I wanted to be free of all the pain and heartache but I had no idea how except to continue to hurt myself.
    I was now sixteen and my life consisted on putting on a front to everyone that I was fine when I was secretly just losing myself all together. I had decided to get so high one night that I was so sick and I remember hearing the words over and over why are you doing this to yourself, I love you. I purposely made myself sick to get out as much as I could that I had put in my body. The weeks ahead I began to realize how incredibly scary that moment was and it could have gone very bad.
    I got my life together the best I knew how living in the circumstances that were around me. My family had to move and I was in a new school with people who didn’t know my past. I stayed to myself and removed myself completely from the drinking and drugs. I moved out and lived with a boyfriend at the time and later down the road that was a broken relationship that left me hurt all over again. I desperately wanted to turn to my past but I didn’t. I finished high school and moved in with a friend. Years went by and I met someone and we got married young. Everything seemed so great and I was feeling loved like I always craved. I felt worth and I felt like I could live. Our marriage was not easy and we were young trying to find who we were. We were drinking with friends and I finding myself not happy and not sure who I was again.
    I remember a time came and I was confused, depressed, and never fulfilled. In our young marriage faced trials and my past was haunting me. I kept feeling this desire within to be more. I was in a broken marriage that ended in divorce. Eventually I found myself driving to churches alone and sitting in the back listening to words I had heard before in my past but not from anyone close to me. It hit me and although it seemed scary to me at the time I found Jesus was always there whispering to me I love you. I accepted Christ at twenty one and never looked back. He made it clear that he had a purpose for me and I just needed to follow. 
    I promised to follow Jesus and live a life that he promised and along the road it was heavy but oh so worth it. I met my husband two years after accepting Christ and we walked our journey together making a life for us. This was the beginning of my choosing joy. Choosing to trust God and follow him even through the storms. Little did  I know with life going so well the storms would come again.
    We started a family and were so excited to be expecting our first child. We were having a girl and were thrilled to be growing our family of two. My heart was full of joy those nine months and we were ready to welcome our sweet baby to the world. We were at the hospital ready to deliver and in that very moment we lost of our sweet baby and she went home to be with Jesus. I was devastated, heartbroken, and completely lost. The days and months ahead were a blur and everything reminded me of my bay and how my life as a mom was supposed to be. Never did I imagine I would not bring my baby home with me from the hospital. Never did I imagine I would have to plan a funeral for my baby. A part of me died with my baby but I grew closer to God and he strengthened my faith more than I ever could have imagined. I grew in my faith, I didn’t walk alone, and I had a new outlook on what this life meant to me and my trust in HIS Plan.
    We were blessed to have two more healthy children and I am forever grateful for the baby I lost and the babies I here with me. There is a day that goes by that I don’t think about Payton but I am comforted that she is home. It brings tears to my eyes to know she is waiting for me in Heaven.  God has showed me through this heartache the beauty that does truly come from ashes. He has shown me what choosing joy is truly about. To wake up each day with a smile and choose to be more and more like HIM. I am not perfect and I am flawed but I am worthy and I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Looking back on my life the grace upon grace that has he given me and continues to frees me from my past and heartache. It frees me from feeling unworthy, unloved, and a victim. Grow in grace, have faith in HIS perfect love and goodness for you, and be thankful for every moment for such a time is this. I am overcomer. I am a child of God. I have worth. I choose Joy.
     Sometimes we are faced with things that doesn't seem possible to conquer. In the past I would cling to fear and hide from what seemed impossible covered in lies. Through these really hard times and many years later my faith has grown and I learned to trust God more. My faith became my rock and I was able to face storms and keep my focus on God and what he wants for me. While my faith is challenged my trust in him that only he can move that mountains that seem impossible. I must keep my focus on God and what he wants for me.
    Cling to him beautiful soul. He is the mountain mover that washes away my fear. Through these seasons of my faith growing, storms raging, and mountains moving I have met some of the most beautiful souls. They have encouraged me and challenged me to be bold in my faith, to walk humbly, and to plant seeds. It is within those moments that a fire in my soul was set to share my story and encourage others as well. When the storms come, and they will, and you can adjust your sails. I read a book a few years ago by John Ortberg If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat. I read this with a fearful heart and was challenged to be more like Peter. Peter could have stayed in his boat but then he would have never walked on water. You can stay in your boat and you might never know the amazing things God can do in your life if you just trust him. God is calling you to walk on water. No matter how big or small it may seem to you, it is his purpose of you for his glory. I will praise him through the storms. My sail will be adjusted. Beauty will rise from ashes and all the glory and praise will honor him.
    Through this journey of hardships, finding Christ, choosing joy, living through grace I am becoming more of what Jesus planned for me to be. It's not always an easy road and God will mold us exactly how he needs us through the gentle love of his gracious heart. We are never finished growing or becoming what He needs us to be but through obedience, faith, trust, and hope we can do amazing things here for his glory. As I release my grip on the things that once broke me I am free from addiction, I am free from heartache of feeling unloved,  I am free of the guilt of losing my child, I am free from believing the lies I once believed and I am free to rise above what others and Satan meant for harm. It is my mission to share with others about HIS goodness, his faithfulness, his love, his grace, and eternity with him through pain and joy that sets my soul on fire to chase Him.
    Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
    Ephesians 2:7-10 The Message
    Grow with Angie, be blessed by her honesty, heart for the Lord, and desire to live a life that full of G R A C E. 
  • Burdened with a Glorious Purpose.

    I remember this day like it was yesterday. The Beard and I took the littles to the beach. It was such a special time to see little foot prints in the same sand that I grew up around. As the sun began to set the water began to rise. I watched as it crept up a little higher with each crashing wave. 
    I am not sure where my Beard was at the time but all of a sudden fear paralyzed me and took my breath away. The image of my three littles getting swept up and pulled out, flashed before my eyes. IT FELT SO REAL. 
    All I could think is, there are 3 of them, 1 of me, with only 2 arms to grab. I could hear myself shouting out to the Lord for help. Of course this startled everyone, because nothing had happened. Nothing was happening. 
    B U T!!!!
    Something is happening!!! Each day that passes, my children are getting that much closer to the age of accountability. Each day that passes, they are getting closer to the day that they will need to make the decision for THEMSELVES, who they will serve. 
    God revealed to me in that moment how IMPORTANT it is to raise my children with a love for Jesus that CANNOT be shaken. The need to dedicate them in prayer constantly. The need to live a life that replicates the love of Jesus, to be proof of the power of prayer and faith. 
    THE BURDEN IS REAL!!
    Should my babies go home to be with Jesus today, I know where they will go. But there will be a day that I will not know unless I am doing my diligence as a believer, as the wife+mom God has called me to be, TODAY. 
    BE INTENTIONAL, TODAY!!!!!

  • Glowing From the Inside Out.

    Back in July I shared a very raw and hard share in a post titled 

    Mirrors || Marriage || and Make-Up

    I admitted that I had lost sight of the physical side of marriage. At the time I was growing so intently in the Lord and throwing myself into this Print Shop Ministry. Ready and willing to do what the Lord was calling me to do. But there was a something broken. My marriage. But it wasn’t for the obvious reasons like kids, wife duties, or even running a business.

    Nope.

    I was very unhappy with how far I let myself go and I was too scared to be intimate with my husband in fear that he would see it too. Under the covers there are no layers to hold and tuck, there is no make-up to cover-up the acne, wrinkles, and tiredness. At 29 years old, I felt so old, ugly, and sad.

    I recently learned that that is really a form of idolatry. To be so consumed with those things that they rob your joy, control your thoughts, keep you from fulfilling your calling as a wife. NOT COOL.


    How can I stand up and say I AM A CHILD OF GOD, MADE IN HIS IMAGE. But look in the mirror, cry, and ask God to give me His eyes because I can't see past a face covered with pimples and scars and scabs.

    HERE IS THE TRUTH – Satan has come to ROB, KILL, STEAL, DESTROY, DEVOUR. And he will do it any way he can. For me, I was so caught up on the physical that I had a hard time in areas with the Spiritual.

    That was eight months ago.

    Eight months ago I had an incredibly awesome friend, who I trust so much, share with me about R+F. I had seen the posts on IG and even looked into it once, but the price scared and overwhelmed me. My friend explained everything very detailed to me and I decided it was time to try something. I could not stand to look in the mirror any more. I have tears sharing this with you now. I am a mom to three beautiful and precious littles. I have missed many photo opportunities because of these issues. Pathetic, yeah, but true.

    It has been eight months since I started using R+F and at two months shy of 30 years old, I look better than I have since I was in junior high school. No pimples. My scars are diminishing and the huge crease across my forehead is almost completely gone. I wear make-up on Sundays because it’s fun to get ready and church is the only place that I go, out side of  pre-school drop-off.

    I am no longer embarrassed of what my husband is only allowed to see. I should be embarrassed when I try to do a little Jessica Rabbit imitation. But that’s not appropriate to share, EVER. Haha!

    R+F truly changed my life. I believe in the product so much that I decided after all this time, maybe I should join the fun and be a consultant too!! I’ve been there.

    With that being said – we are heading into swim suit season! Pools, beaches, rivers, and lakes, this is a great time to start gaining confidence in the beautiful face the Lord has given you. Toss that make-up or save it for a special day. Join me in eliminating the acne, wrickles, and spots that you are trying to hide and let’s cannon ball into this hot season together!!

    If you are, AT ALL, struggling with skin issues, I would love the opportunity to find you a resolution.  Click HERE to check out the R+F Solution Tool. Take 5 minutes to answer the following questions and receive your own personalized recommendations and daily skincare routine.

  • You Matter! A Story of Redemption.

    I have been staring at a blank screen, praying on where to begin. If I really wanted to begin from the beginning, this would be a book not a blog post and I would need to hide out from little voices calling “mom” where there was no Disney Jr., in the back ground. But this is not a book it is a blog post and I will start at 14.

    When I was 14 I had already picked up on smoking and drinking. I was already acting a fool and going against that still small voice, in my heart, telling me to stop. Jesus was mourning and begging to get my attention but I did not want to listen. His voice was too small and my desire to fit in was too big.

    Rewind to age 9, I went forward at a Harvest Crusade in Anaheim one hot summer night and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I needed the healing from the wounds that were already so deep. I needed Him to restore the innocence that had already been taken away. I needed Him to show me what real love was, that it was not associated with abandonment.

    It is not just that we invite Jesus in to our hearts and that’s that. We need to pour ourselves into a relationship with Him that grows and flourishes, like with any relationship. At 9 years old, I didn’t know how to do that and I did not have anyone to take my hand and show me.

    So back to 14… Satan had found himself an easy target to destroy. I just wanted to be loved and restored. For a short amount a time, while getting high and drunk, I had that connection I desperately sought, with others, getting wasted. We laughed, got stupid, and did things we ultimately would regret. But for a short moment we were bonded and all felt the fulfillment we were seeking.

    Emptier and emptier and emptier I was becoming. My self worth and value had diminished and I was wondering why on earth I was on this earth. There was one person that I trusted, one person whom I felt safe with. That one person would end up raping me and laughing at the fact that I ever trusted him. He would end up exploiting what he did and turning it around on me and making me think I did something wrong. I would end up getting pulled out of school and placed out of state where I would be even more alone.

    Eventually I would attempt to take my life because I had absolutely no control and could not handle the lies in my head, the ache in my heart, and the fact that I was totally trapped in a body of a girl I did not know.

    The attempt failed. And what is totally crazy, no one seemed to notice or care. I continued to be invisible. No one may have noticed, but God made me notice. He made it clear that He was there and He had a plan and a purpose. That summer He gave me Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

    For a few years I found a safe haven in Christ and began to be restored. But I had a target on my back. See Satan knew that God had this epic plan for me. I didn’t know, but he knew. And he was going to do whatever it took to take me out.

    Drugs, betrayal, loneliness, repeat. By 18 the circle was in full effect and I found myself in the same place, wanting to end it all.

    As I sit in my living room at 6 months shy of 30, I can’t help but let the tears stream down my face. River and Arizona are arguing over a toy and Tatum is upstairs resting because she’s been sick this past weekend.

    I am a wife. I am a mom to three beautiful children. I am the hands to a print shop ministry that is reaching hearts around the World for Jesus. I am the conviction and love in my sisters ear as she still struggles and is in bondage to the enemy. My knees are bruised from praying. My hands have one purpose and that’s to serve.

    Satan failed with me, but that’s not always the case. Too many lives are cut short to suicide. As a body of Christ, we should be doing more for the hurting and lost, because we are ALL hurting and lost without Jesus. We are all Peter on the water, take your eyes off Him for a second and you will sink and drown.

    Will you join me in praying for “His eyes” to see the world as He does, and to have His discernment for the hurting. Will you join me in praying for the hurting hearts, that they will be freed and healed in Jesus name?

    We are all mighty warriors. The Lord is with us all (Judges 6:12). The story of Gideon has been something I have clung to this past year as the Lord continues to mold and shape me. It is not His will or desire that any of us should perish but that we would all have eternal life (John 3:16). Can we stand in the gap for those perishing?

    I am so grateful for twin mama and creator of YOU MATTER LLC, Shannon. She so graciously reached out to me in a time when my heart was hurting and my eyes were off the prize. Though she did not know it, she was the voice from Jesus that reminded me how far He has brought me. I have a story of Grace to share and need to continue to share it.

    I am also so grateful for Hope, mama and creator of Signs of Hope. She also reached out and befriended me during this same time when my heart was so heavy and I was so broken. Her obedience to the call of the Lord is so humbling to me. Her sign will hang my wall as a constant reminder that THE LORD IS WITH ME and that I AM A MIGHTY WARRIOR for Him.

    These two women, my sisters in Christ, strangers on the street, revealed and encouraged me in the more fierce ways. Be encouraged by them, as I have been. Follow their example and go forward, encouraging someone today, tomorrow, every day. Be the light of Jesus in this epically dark world. 

    I pray this post reminds you that God has such an epic plan that you can’t even begin to imagine. Diligently seek His face and His will, live out your story of grace, and lift up others through prayer and kindness. Allow God to go before you and nothing coming at you will stand a chance.

     

    A beautiful piece from Signs of Hope.

     

    In His grace,

     

    Jena

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