What do we do with it all?

You know those times when your mind races from one thought to another and all the sudden you realize your pulse is racing and you feel overwhelmed? That is me right now.

Shooting guns

Dead bodies

Halloween

Friendly Costumes

End of quarter grades

College

Flu shots

Hurricanes victims

Dinner

Work

Bills

Christmas Vacation

Christmas presents

Election

Voting

Illness

Black lives matter

Immigrant lives matter

Jewish lives matter

High School Bible study

FCA

White supremacy

Blue lives matter

Babies matter

White lives matter

Men matter

My life matters

I. CAN NOT. EVEN. STOP

What do we do with it all? How do we never forget yet live in light of it all? The bible says that Jesus died to give us life and not only that but abundant life? Doesn’t feel much like it to me, does it to you?

As you search for the words to share with your families and friends and whomever, about the current state of our national affairs, let us consider, what is that one message that needs to be heard loud and clear. IF I only had one shot to get it right.

I would say, REMEMBER THE LORD. Time and again throughout the pages of scripture, after trial and devastation and death and bondage, wrongfully accused, or profound sin, God took over the story: mostly because it is HIS story, but also because He alone is able. Our only response is to stop still in our tracks and watch for the salvation of the Lord, then to join Him. He takes our mess and makes something beautiful.

I am a co-heir with Jesus. That means that all that is His is mine, but that does not make me Him. I am the hands and feet of Jesus, but that does not make me Jesus.

As a result, I am VERY careful to watch my mouth and how I insert myself into God’s story. Even now, I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in His sight.

To remember the Lord means to remember first and foremost, that He is the Most High God. Secondly, it would be awesome to remember that I am not God, nor other people. Next, make much of His great salvation, which is perfect, complete and lacking in nothing, for all who will believe on Him.  Then, after much praise and adoration for all that He has done and is doing, remember a most precious gift, His Spirit. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead LIVES inside of Every. Single. Believer. SAME. Neither different nor divisive nor against Himself.

So what will we do with this truth and how will you spend your words. Let us exalt His name above every other name and make sure our eyes are set toward Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

“I lift my eye to the hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121)

#wetoo

Heather

#wetoo

Love covers. I try to teach my boys this every time they tell on each other. The motivation behind their “telling” isn’t for the one who did wrong, or funny, or stupid, or whatever. Rather there is a sense that someone was wronged, maybe themselves or maybe another, but most of the time, they tell on each other because one does not want the other to get away with “it.” Whatever “it” is. We tell other peoples stories all the time. It’s like it is our nature to expose, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

We talk so much. Maybe this is a little more of a contrast for me because I live with six men. I can hardly get them to speak at all, unless, they are sharing someone else’s story and even then, it is only a few details. Not always is it a negative story, but nonetheless.

Also, we are sharing so much; our social media feeds are full of everything under the sun; vacations, family portraits, children’s milestones, and athletic accomplishments. We will post prayers needs or touching stories. These are good things.

Generally, however, my news feed is pretty depressing, pretty controversial, and with very little hope on the one hand. It is juxtaposed next to empowering messages of “love everybody, especially the marginalized, oppressed, orphaned or foreigner.” It is so confusing. Are we loving or exposing?  Are we sending out messages of love or hate? It sounds like love but doesn’t feel like love.

What if we were on the same team? So many are advocating for those who cannot “speak for themselves;” seemingly women and immigrants and diversity, yet each message is one-sided and divided.   I am a white female, raising five men in a pretty affluent community with many opportunities and privileges. I have many friends that are not white, and some who are immigrants and many are female. I want to learn and make an impact and bring change.  We adopt children and foster others. We send out tangible goods to those suffering all over the world. Many travel in person to pass out these items; and are the hands and feet of Jesus to the hurting and suffering. We sit in the hospitals and wait and comfort, we hold the hands of those who are fighting cancer or losing the battle. Suffering and shame have no favorites. We are all trying to raise and support our families.

Not one of us can change our past, our lineage, our heritage, our skin color or our origin of nationality. Having traveled to many places and cultures around the world, what I have found to be true is that all cultures have women who are barren, miscarry, or lose children. All suffer loss due to diseases. All have stories of abandonment or relational conflict and abuse. We are all generally the same, yet we exasperate our differences that should unite us and allow them to divide and even tear us apart.

Our stories, may have drama, poor choices, pain and loss, confusion and even worldly pursuits, as well as the parts of our stories that we had no control over. They led us to our Savior.

What He offered us was newness of life. Restoring years that locusts have eaten, bringing us into a new family and filling the gaps in our past with restoration and hope for a different future, one for ourselves and one we can give away to others.

You need to tell this story if this is you. If you have found Jesus in the middle of your mess, somehow, heard Him calling your name, you are changed. You have been made new, and the old has passed away. This does not erase your past or origins, but it does free us from them. What we should be advocating for is this same freedom for others. Our stories should be full of His grace and saving power.

Maybe you need reminding of this. We read about it, even comfort friends with it, but the victory will be powerful when we all live in the truth of His love and grace for us, personally. Our words are too many, and our lives are full of fear.

We need to join a new movement, a movement of newness. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. Hatred, oppression, evil, lying, deception, fear, abuse, anger, death are not new. Yet, here is One, who has made a promise to make all things new, with the old passing away. Gone.

I want to start the #wetoo movement. If your broken story has led you to the One, True and Living God, then your past no longer defines you. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus. Let us join together and change the message that we are sending to the generations across our world and those that we are raising. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. There is nothing new under the sun. However, He is making all things new for us. You are not alone, I. Nor are you singled out, me. But you belong, we. #wetoo

I want to lift high the banner of love, the Love that we can know because He first loved us. When we unite around the banner of love and we stand united in the saving grace of Jesus, it is there that we can change our parts of the world, which can be so very different from each other, and help bring beauty from the ashes. Will you join me?

Share this page, tell your story of His saving grace and let us watch as the Banner of Christ is lifted high and we give glory to Him who ALONE is worthy of all praise.

Blessings to you!

Heather #wetoo

So Thankful

After a whirlwind of a summer, it is brought to a close, a little early, because of the year-round schedule of my two littles. The last little, as I stood on the curb of day two of first grade and public school, I just watched him climb the stairs of a school bus and thought, there he goes. Just like that, my last boy off to brave the world, seemingly, all alone. I have had a little one home with me for eighteen years.

I do not have another one to turn my attention to; actually, the other three that are still waiting on their first day of school are home, and this reality is not helpful as they too are accelerating through life at rapid speed.

My flesh wants to cave, fall inward on myself to despair. However, my faithful, near, God (who has promised me NEVER to leave nor forsake), is constantly whispering into my ear, I have them. I have them all, each one. My flesh wants to believe that the years are slipping away, the Spirit is telling me that the years are their journey to Him. He reminds me of the prayers that I spoke over and in the gap for them, He has them all. He has heard them all, even led me to pray them all and He. Has. NOT. Forgotten.

This is the deepest of breaths. My chest loosens its hold, and I rest in the sure, steadfastness of the creator of it all. Praise Him for He is worthy of all praise. As I consider Him as my Strong Tower, I crumble into my weakness and desperation, and He catches me. He holds me, and I am comforted that this life does not depend on me. I am too fragile to hold anything together, and I am thankful to Him who is not only Able but the Author, Sustainer, and Finisher of it all. Glory be to God, Almighty is His Name.

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Bittersweet

I have spent the last ten minutes looking up a word to describe the last few months. I could not find a word that adequately articulated my heartstrings. They are certainly playing a robust melody these days: From exuberance to deep pain. My friend touched on it pretty succinctly; “ there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; and a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) It is a daily mixture of bitter and sweet. A happy moment is never far from the weight of a hard moment and to be present in each moment is an act of stewardship. Moments, no matter how hard or devastating or accomplishing and celebrated, we must be present.

I will jokingly say while moving through a big milestone, “my mantra is to feel nothing.”  Those words are telling to the condition of my feelings, and it helps me to keep it light in the moment. I have had several of those moments recently. First, my husband and I decided that God was leading us to do discipleship and leadership development full time. A huge career change that took months to discern and in early May, we launched from our current ministry position where we have served for almost 18 years. There is so much to say about this decision, but mostly, we are thankful to have raised our family in this community. It is our family. Bittersweet.

May also brought with it three graduations and two, really big birthdays. My youngest son, the baby, finished kindergarten. I have had a child on the preschool hall at our church for the last eighteen years:  So weird. Next, the middle guy finished middle school with a date to the dance, how is this possible? My fourth son turned ten. This is a big birthday around here because they can invite their friends to a sleepover, does not matter how many! That’s not all, my oldest baby, turned eighteen and graduated from high school. I keep looking back over my years with them and consider so much. If I linger too long, I cannot breathe and yet, there is anticipation of what is still to come. Bittersweet.

In the midst of all the celebrations and tear jerking moments, my friend battled cancer with her five year old baby and as devastating as that was and still is, she can say that Jesus won, not cancer, praising God for hope and the feeling of peace and the promise of the resurrection, in the most unbearable circumstances. All the while, another sweet friend was preparing to say goodbye to the baby that God had privileged her to conceive. She has watched the Lord do the miraculous over and over as she was able to give birth to him and hold him and though we are still praying fervently for His complete healing, she is testifying to His presence and nearness during this uncertain time; so very bitter mingled with hopeful sweetness.

These are only a few of the circumstances that I am praying through and for. I am heavy for those who are preparing or have already sent their children off to college, those battling sickness, hearing loss, infertility, depression, loss of a baby, suicide, loss of family members, unhealthy relationships, and political uncertainty, to name a few, all so very bitter. Yet, celebrating new birth, graduations, career change, marriage proposals, baseball, basketball, and all the fun summer activities, such sweetness.

I read a quote, recently, from Lysa TerKeurst, it said, “ Lord, please help us remember each day that You gave us emotions so we could experience life, not destroy it.”

This is just so good. This is the sweetness. To experience life is to bare each other’s burdens and to celebrate all the goodness of God, even in suffering. The suffering is not good, but God is. He gives us green pastures along the way as well as times of refreshing. He is the goodness. We cling to Him. I cling to Him, for myself, for others, and rest in the knowledge that other friends are clinging to Him for me. This is using our emotions to give life; stewarding well.  My daily salvation is found only in Him, but it is manifested in hard seasons by the faithful prayers of the righteous. To all of you who have prayed for our family, invested in my children, offered a meal, a helpful hand, an encouraging word…I lean into my helplessness on the prayers and thoughts that you have towards my family. It has saved me from desperation, many times over. Thank you. Please do not stop.

I consider it an honor to do the same for you as I think on you and your circumstances. May I never forget how your prayers have sustained me and I will seek to be faithful to each of you. Enjoy the pictures as a glimpse of all that the Lord has in His hands and only this is a very, very small view of the whole world that He is sovereign over. Glory is to Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we ask or imagine: With our pain and with our milestones. We cannot even imagine the more He has for us, for you. Our emotions are meant to give life, not to destroy, let us be the sweet to the bitter.

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Congratulations!

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Class of 2018!

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HaPpY bIrThDay!

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That smile! MHS bound!

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Ten years, I cannot…

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Kindergarten done for #5!

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Bravery for Avery, we will never forget, you can still help… https://www.youcaring.com/parentsofaveryandyandemilyneill-1047204

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Pray for sweet Daniel!

I have no words.

Lately, it seems all I have to offer is prayer. I have SO MANY friends that are suffering through the hardest and most tragic seasons of their lives. Most of them involve their sweet children; their little babies. I have zero words to offer them. When I talk to them or ask about them, the questions are shallow. How are you doing? Do they need anything? There is so much more in my heart for them, but words are empty—minus God. I so desperately want to run to them, bring the meal, clean their spaces, watch the other children, and mostly, to say, “I see you and your suffering and I cannot imagine what you are going through.”

Yet, all I have to offer them is prayer. What an equally shallow statement. I may have zero words to offer them, but I have many words to offer on their behalf.   The work of Christ has enabled me safety in the presence of God, therefore, I can boldly enter the Holiest of places (Hebrews 10:19).  I can now approach Him with acceptance. I am welcomed there in His presence. So are you. Stop everything and consider this for a moment and be overwhelmed. You are accepted in the presence of God through the finishing work of Jesus, for you who believe.

Therefore, the best I have to offer them is prayer. This is truth. In some wonderful way, the Lord is moved with compassion by the prayers of His people. To express our broken hearts to Him, to bring our questions and concerns and fears to His lap, acknowledges Him as the only One who can do anything with our suffering. Even those who reject Him offer up to the cosmos positive thoughts or they hope to the wind that someone or something is listening. No one turns down a prayer in his or her time of need, I would assume. Yet, I am thankful that He is collecting our prayers in golden bowls of incense (Revelation 5:8). He does not miss even one.

When we get to the end of our “doing” and all we have left is prayer, please know that you are offering your best. To lift high the name of Jesus, who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith, is to call on Him who can move mountains, Who will raise dry bones to life again (Ezekiel 37), and will bring the peace that surpasses all understanding. Mostly, He will bring Himself, and that is everything.

Heather

Fear of doing it all wrong.

You know, just because there is a bandwagon, it doesn’t mean that you need to get on it. Even if it is going somewhere cool, that doesn’t mean it is for you. Over the holidays and snow days, I found myself on social media and the Internet more than usual. I was searching out gifts, design and reorganizing ideas, and even just inspiration for the home. Each search took me on a rabbit trail as I was led away to consider Whole 30, Paleo recipes, new exercise techniques, home remedies to fight the flu and cold, immunity boosters, anti-inflammatory foods. I looked at non-chemical cleansers, and Essential oils. In each of those pursuits, I wanted to find what was the best, the safest, most inexpensive, most recommended products or ideas. I also found many friends, and others, complaining or complimenting a certain “must have” or “this saved my life.” Of course I want to save the lives of my family and have the best “whatever’ that is out there. However, what it got me was depressed and frustrated.

We are naturally driven, as we are created in the image of God, to create, discover, and even to want to know everything. Knowledge is a beautiful thing. Sharing that knowledge is equally noble and encouraged as we learn new and better ways of doing this or that. Especially if we learn that the ol’ boxed cake mix that saved our grandmothers hours in the kitchen and a “must have,” would actually be a contributor to health issues in the modern age. What about the cleanser that was found to attack disease and germs that “saved their lives,” literally, is now found to be toxic? However, the criticisms and blame to the generations before us is pretty shallow of us. Especially if history repeats and some of what we are doing today will be found to have similar repercussions in the future. Honestly, where does the healing and the innovation and the discovery come from and who should get the credit? We are stewards of this creative process. Yet, we are often throwing the baby out with the bath water. Regardless, it is too much for this busy momma of five with kids in five different schools and a full time ministry to support with my husband. I have very little margin and finances to research and bring the change that my computer is “guilting” me into considering.

That is what I feel most days, guilty. In addition, I worry about ignoring that claim or not implementing that change and what if my children get sick or have heart disease or if I am the cause of allergies and inflammatory diseases. I am the mother and I should know and do better for my family. If there is an answer, I need to know it and do something about it. Truth is, it can be noise in my head, drowning out the still small voice that I am so desperate to hear. I need His voice; saying to me, this is the way, walk in it.

I had four children before I had access to the Internet on my phone. I had three before I really had access to the Internet, as we know it, now. I nursed babies in the middle of the night before I had Pinterest or Facebook to entertain me. I was forced to pray and ask for answers and beg Him to help them go to sleep before there was an online community to console my tired heart. Then I had one, who by now, after four sons, I should have a little confidence and clarity on what to do. Twelve years of experience should offer me more context than any of the others before. Not to mention that I have walked through these early years with many of my “daughters.”

With this one son, I had more fear and more uncertainty than any of the others before. To be fair, the entirety of my motherhood experience has been pretty overwhelming and at times full of fear. However, this is different. When I would search the Internet early on, I was really trying to remember or seek advice on a method, or suggestion in my heart, to consider. What I often found was validation for all the reasons I had fear to begin with. Over time, I became full of fear, anxious and doubting. I spent so much of my time wrestling with my flesh to believe God and trust Him and not succumb to the “realities” portrayed on-line.

The Internet is not infallible and all- knowing and worthy of our trust. It is not God or His Word. We have become so proficient in computers that they have become our go-to for everything. Some answers are not found there. Some answers require fasting and prayer. Some answers require submission to the All-knowing, Infallible and Trustworthy, Creator of us all. Yet we are often so spiritually numb that we cannot discern His voice over the voices of others and find ourselves sucked into the cycle and pull of gravity away from intimacy with God and dependence on His voice alone. My fear and anxiety is only calmed by remembering and turning to Him who is able to do exceeding more than I could ever ask or imagine. It is amplified by my time on social media and most times I leave more discouraged than when I began.

If this is the “year of the woman,” (and I will come back to that on another post), then what a better start than to get a handle on our computer access, and even the authority we allow it to hold in our lives. Let us get busy making that difference in our worlds by modeling a devoted life, yielded to the Word of God, busying ourselves with the work of our hands and living a quiet life, and many times, minding our own business (Thessalonians 4:11). We will only effectively change the World by being committed to the Word of God and being able to discern His voice over all the others. The Internet, and its opinions and advice are not going anywhere and I will acknowledge it has a place of goodness in our lives. To place boundaries, and maybe even un-follow or disengage with certain sites or people that provoke fear, is wise.

A true community is one that you meet with face-to-face or is a trusted source that the on-line community allows for you to maintain over the miles. We all benefit from people that can help us sort through questions and discern a plan of action where needed. Many times I have faced uncertainty and sought out Godly, trustworthy people to help me by telling me if I was thinking correctly, offer me advice and most often just pray for me while I wrestled with the uncertainty in my heart. The value of the community of Christ, who are in His Word and reminding me of His faithfulness and love for me and my family, has more than once, saved me from myself and the hopelessness that sneaks around seeking to destroy me.

May we be Women of the Word-confident in this one thing-that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. May you seek a community of Faith-filled encouragers to stay the course, run your race and cheer you on to the finish line.

Blessings,

Heather

You belong here.

It is hard to follow a blog post titled, “I Think I Am Mad at Jen Hatmaker.” I recognize the title is intriguing and it was meant to be so. However, to expound on the point that I was trying to make is continued here.

Something is happening around the table these days. Words like gathering, breaking bread and authentic community are describing a movement of acceptance. With the current climate of diversity and division, many are inviting others to their table for communion. A demonstration of love to say to their guest, “you belong here.” Having grown up in the South, this idea of hospitality is familiar to me. I have shared a meal with others who were invited to join the family holiday. When we carry that same hospitality throughout the entire year, bringing others to the table is a powerful demonstration.

When I offer someone food to eat, I feel as though I am offering my heart to them. I am saying without words, “I care about you.” Food satisfies a basic need and to prepare it is a labor of love. Many times, I leave in tears after I drop off food for some event or person in need. It is such a tender moment of provision. However, when some one does not receive my offer of food or if I fear that they will not like it, I battle the personal feeling of rejection. Similarly, when some one feeds my family, I feel so loved and cared for, and when I am serving the food, I am saying, “you are loved.”

The connection that is made around the table with food is so incredible that it lends itself to a deeper question. What is the purpose? There is something much greater represented in the exchange of food, and if we are not intentional, we might miss it entirely. Something spiritual happens when we share a meal together whether we acknowledge it or not. There is a Creator God who is so intimate in the pursuit of His creation. It is communicated so lovingly through the breaking of bread. When we share the table with the marginalized, the lonely, a new acquaintance, old friend, or even family, we bring them into a space of intimacy. We are experiencing that which the Lord desires to give to each of us, a place at His table where we are fully accepted and fully known. This resonates as true authentic fellowship, yet it is only a shadow of what He desires to give to each one who will receive His invitation.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. Further, man cannot live on bread alone, but every word that precedes from the mouth of God. The intimacy and acceptance found around a table of communion is that which is offered in the reading of the Word of God. If we are not careful, we will satisfy the deep craving of belonging with the temporary sharing of a meal when He offers us a permanent seat around His table; His feast. Through His Word, He gives us our daily bread, He leads us beside the still waters and He restores our soul.

The sharing of food is a profound exchange. The Lord felt it very important to have one last supper before He walked down Calvary Road. He communed not only with the disciples, but also with the one, who would soon after, betray Him. The table of acceptance and the fellowship of community only served as a means for Jesus of Nazareth to offer Himself to them for the greater purpose of knowing Him and His eternal provision: Salvation. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

When we gather around the table this holiday may we be very intentional to offer more than the food that we have prepared, may we offer Jesus, the living, breathing, active Word of God: Our Daily Bread.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heather

I think I am mad at Jen Hatmaker?

I think I am mad at Jen Hatmaker? I have made this statement so many times over the last few years. I have read her books, subscribed to her email list, and listened to her podcasts. I have simmered with this idea for a while now. I have been trying to understand my feelings for her over the years and I have come to this conclusion. I like her, I think we could be friends, but also this…

It all started several years ago when a friend suggested we read her book, Seven. I had never heard of her before and it seemed that several of my friends had a positive impression, but did insinuate that they would be interested as to what I thought of her: I was intrigued. I love to read what other ladies my age have to say about life and even more so what they are saying to my friends. As a bible teacher/disciple-er, I am somewhat possessive over my girls. I like to know what they are reading and to whom they are listening. I have a deep desire to stay relevant and to be apart of the conversation of how our faith relates to our culture. So I try to “tune-in” to what others are saying, particularly women my age, and to really hear what they are saying behind their words. It is fun; it is challenging and helpful to my own learning journey.

What I love about Jen is her ability to communicate in her writing with so much boldness. She is so funny, she is saying out loud what we are saying to our girlfriends about life and family and how ridiculous it all is. We all relate around her stories and find the humor in the things that are actually trying to derail us. Truly, we should be laughing at so much more rather than feeling guilty that we actually thought that or more likely, actually said it. Mothering and raising families is outrageously wonderful and taxes every single emotion known to mankind.

I love that she does not shy away from hard topics and tries to push the norms and create a little controversy around habits and forms that may need a little consideration. Even still, she uses satire creatively, and offensively, depending on which side of the issue you are on, to communicate in a captivating way. It is a gift that maybe hides compassion and deeper places of pain to draw people in and force a conversation without even knowing it.

I love that she lives a loud and full life, publically, with a huge desire to affect her people and her “tribe,” as she likes to call them. She purposes to offer tangible relief and awareness to the injustice everywhere, then doing something about it. Yet, somehow she has fun in the process. She has inspired me to enjoy making food, meals around the table and life in the mundane. She evens gives me permission to binge on Netflix every now and again. I think she is likable and I think that she would like me.

Now, to my problem, first, I wondered if I was jealous of her. She is funny and courageous and fun! I know that I am not supposed to be jealous. But honestly, why else would I care so much? I think sometimes that she is telling my story. She is talking about things that matter to me, too, and I want, so much, to be apart of the conversation. I can relate to so much of her story. I often have a resounding yes. She is brave enough to talk about it and throw it out there regardless of the kickback she might receive. There is a freedom that seems to resonate from her life. Though I read her and I feel stifled. Like I am choking on my own freedom to speak out and speak up. Over time, it became clearer that I wanted to add to the story; it was not complete and left me a bit irritated.

So here I am. This is my attempt to join the conversation: To join her conversation. Though so much of what she says resonates with me. Most often I want her to say more. I am not sure if she would have more to say, and at points this grieves me, however, I would often say, “yes, but” to some of her stories. The concern I have about this lies in the area of her influence. She is so liked among woman and I do believe she connects with us in so many ways, yet I am concerned about her conclusions. Therefore I am concerned with those who are listening to her.

I also can look to the past and how I was raised in the church and see so much hypocrisy. I can get so frustrated with the confines of religion and the harshness of the laws of man placed on others as the laws of God and I see so much damage in the wake. I find myself dodging the traditional mandates imposed by man and bordering the desire to rebel against the norms. This, too, has caused me to ask different questions. Jen found the marginalized and made home with them. It is a gift to be sure. I, too, see the marginalized, but my path took me to different places, in my region, with my community of people.

A defining moment in my testimony happened after I graduated from college and I was home visiting my, now, husband’s father. We got into a conversation about global warming and the green house effect. I really do not know why we were talking about this because I had little interests in these things. However, after I told him the “truth” of all that I had learned, he proceeded to tell me how wrong I was. He began to share with me a completely opposing view on the subject and I just could not believe it. He gave me a book to read and it was through that book that I unraveled. It was not about whether or not global warming exists, but rather how ignorant and indoctrinated I was. I was so caught off guard that I sat in a classroom for a whole year and was taught someone’s opinion. That somehow I was not allowed to come to my own opinions after being able to consider all the information surrounding a subject. If it is an opinion than just say so.

Until that time, it never occurred to me that I could sit under someone who would teach me something, from a book no less, and it might not be true. It made me ask myself what else might I believe and think was truth, and so began my life as a skeptic and also my annoying habit of asking the question, “How do you know?” I drove my husband crazy because I always wanted to know how he knew the things he did, like he had to give me his credentials every time he wanted to teach or fix the car or figure out how to build a patio or whatever the task.

In like fashion, as I approached my bible studies and sat under preaching, I would gravitate towards those who used scripture to support their claims. Those who would send me through the stories and lessons in the Bible to see what God had to say. For me, the law of God is what saved me. It was the traditions of man that I leaned on. I know that the purpose of the Law was to expose my sin, and lead me to my need for Jesus, but it is so much more. It is the sustaining power of His unchanging nature that helps me through my tempest life. The uncertainty that I find surrounding my life and closing in, is only held at bay by the power of His Word. John 1:1 tells us that the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. The beauty of Psalm 119, which is full of the benefits of the Scriptures, yet it is Jesus revealed in the pages. I ONLY know who I am and to whom I belong, because the Bible tells me so.

I have journeyed through my life and I have sat with so many hurting and confused and devastated women and the only thing I have to offer them is the Words of God: His Words to each of us. I can find common ground with someone based on my experiences but I can only go so far in someone else’s shoes. Jesus must take them all the way for there to be any healing or life restored. Recently in a podcast, Jen was talking to a guest on her show, and she alluded to the audience that Jesus was in the wilderness with all the hurting and outcast, and when you get knocked down you get back up and press on. If you look around you, you will see others like you braving the wilderness and even Jesus is found there. Though I am not certain I fully agree with where she was coming from and what she might have meant, I can absolutely say that there is more to the story.

When I woke up and found myself in my own wilderness, and I agree, it takes some major grit to endure the desert places of life, the only hope that I had to survive was His promise to me that I would one day walk into the promise land. It was His constant, tried and true Word and the fulfillment of His promise that He would never leave me nor forsake me that carried me through. The gift to me was that even though my circumstances were slow to change and many of them still unchanged, He gave me Himself through His Word. It was all Him. Period. I get no credit.

He sent me His people, He sent me a song, He sent me encouragement all along the way, but it was the power of God through the Word of God that changed me and brought me up out of the miry clay and set me feet upon the Rock. I want everyone to experience Jesus, and I do not believe it is possible separate from His Word because that is who He is.

I am among a generation of women who have flocked together because of the pain we have experienced and the suffering we witness all around. There is an openness of sharing that pain with others in hopes that it will break us free from the bondage and even resonant with others who have suffered in similar ways. There is something so beautiful in transparency and honestly and to find loving acceptance among a friendship or in a community. However, the only hope for any of us is that the Bible is in fact true and has not been compromised at any point. There is a movement of moxie and a sisterhood of Esther’s for such a time as this, but be assured, it is the power of God working in us and through us for His glory. We can boast in only this, that we are known by Him.

I am concerned about the message we are sharing and passing along to the next generation. We must bring every thought and every feeling captive and subject it to the Word of God before we can claim it as Truth and be ever so careful to reflect a Jesus that only tells part of the story of grace and leaves out the unchanging nature of God revealed in His Word. He is the final authority, and thankfully He has not left it up for our interpretation and woe is me who think she stands, lest I most certainly fall.

The fun and camaraderie and fellowship of the sisterhood is so precious, the gentle kindness of one woman sharing life with another is image bearing beauty. The binding of us all together, breaking down boundaries and diversity and division, however, is the Word, the Holy Scriptures. Let us bring all of the stories and filter them through the lens of the Bible, let us enjoy our tribe as added blessings, and let us always point people to Jesus. He is the beginning and the end.

Heather

My Daily Psalms

Every now and again I get to travel to one of my sons sporting events, alone, leaving the little guys at home with their dad. Certainly, at first it feels like a deep breath and I find myself just gazing into space with a blank stare. I do not apologize for this. Quietness in my world is scarce and even in the crowd at a ball field or gymnasium; there can be a welcomed silence in my own mental space.

After awhile though, it seems that my own heartbeat can be heard pounding in my head with concerns for the one whom I am there to watch. Being an athlete myself and married to an athletic guy, sports have been the avenue that we have sought to honor God with our talents and create a community of families to serve and love along the way. With aspirations to play at higher levels than high school, the pressure is on again, similar to those that we faced when they were five and we were trying to decide whether to put them in public school, home school, or private school. When do we start them, are they ready? ALL the opinions and voices surrounding each topic is enough to drive anyone crazy and the guilt sets in before we even make a decision.

Having teenagers has certainly rushed the effects of time on my heart. I find myself consumed with their choices and the path that the Lord has for them. So much as we have sought to raise them to take responsibility for their own lives and be a contributor in their own stories, it still feels as though the decisions to lead them and disciple them falls, solely, on us parents. The pressure to help them discern and navigate their lives is so heavy. One decision feels like it could destroy their lives forever, just like at age five.

Having a few minutes to myself, I often read. This particular morning, I read, lead me to the rock that is higher than I,  in my daily devotional. It reminded me to look up and get a bigger perspective. It reminded me that I do not have to look through my own finite eyes to what I see and to what I fear, but there is One, who has a higher and bigger view for my boys, and I can reach Him. He is reachable. Blessed is the man whom you instruct, O Lord. And teach out of Your law, that you may give him rest…(Psalm 94:12-13a).

I want the instruction of the Lord for my life and for that of my family. I want to hear, this is the way, walk in it. I so desperately want the rest of this instructed man’s blessing.I want his rest. So, I ask for it. I turn to the Lord as if to take my heavy heart and place it in His arms and breath, for He promises me an easy yoke, and I receive it. However, the promise is attached to the instruction of God through His Word. So I read, and I read again. Then I choose to remember, and I trust and when my wavering heart seems to try to drift again, I am thankful for the anchoring tug of my heart to repeat it again until the waiting is over and my faith-filled eyes become sight to His exceeding and abundant plan that He for us. We are not gambling against all odds; in fact, we have a sure thing in Christ. We must stand firm before our children and stay in the Word of God, His revelation of Himself to us, as He leads us. Lord, you know the anxiousness of my heart and the depth of desire that I have to honor you, to honor my husband, and lead my children. May you go before us and be our rear guard and in the meantime, help us to enjoy the journey. Amen

“Behold, your mother…”

The song Mary Did You Know? penetrates the deepest of emotions in the heart of this mother of all boys. I choke back tears every time I sing it. I am challenged by her courage. When Jesus, her son, whom she labored and brought into this world, hung on that tree, she was there. She did not run horrified to a hiding place. It is not recorded that she was insanely demonstrative emotionally, though there is a time and a place for this, praise God. Yet, she was there, so close and present to the suffering of her son that from the cross Jesus looked at His friend John and said, “Behold, your mother.”

I want that courage, to stay in the fight for the life of my sons as they grow in wisdom and stature. All the hard places of parenting that exemplify a mother passionately believing the promises from her God, to her, for the life of her boys. Mary believed God. Her faith demonstrated to us by her yielded heart to the will of the Father that sent her son, His Son, the Promised One, to die for all mankind. Yet, not one mother would ask that the will of God for her child would be to suffer anything. We spend tireless hours trying to alleviate pain through modern medicine, teaching and discipling and raising our children in wisdom. We pray for God to intercede with miracles.

So, the deeply rooted promise that sustained Mary and will sustain me and you, is not a promise void of suffering, but rather a bedrock promise that He is the One, True and Living God. That He is, in fact, exactly who He says He is and that the bigger picture of what He is doing, that we may not see nor understand, has purpose. He can be trusted because of the fortitude that is evidence by the staying power in the suffering. It proves He is there, never leaving nor forsaking: Our Messiah, our God, Emmanuel.

This song is a song of hope. A hope of all that swells in the heart of a mother for the future purposes of her children. My deepest desire is for my children to know to whom they belong and for what reason they were created. To realize that life’s circumstances are building in them the same confidence in Christ that I am standing on. I long for them to understand they are apart of this grand story of salvation to the nations and certainly, first, He has come for each of them, humbly and passionately.

The advent season is a season of promise of all that is still to come: All that my children are becoming and all they will become. They are image bearers of the One True God. When I see them, I see the faithfulness of God. To me, a daughter who was broken and the Lord has made me whole, and I am learning day by day to walk in wholeness. When I watch them overcome and face hardships and watch the Lord cover them in His love, I am undone by His faithfulness to them; His faithfulness to me.

“Mary did you know that your baby boy…” The promise in these words are a hope given to me as the Lord says, “Heather did you know that your baby boy, your baby boys, would one day, would some day…” There is a deep aching prayer for God to pursue my children passionately and there is a great confident reminder in this song that He is faithful. The anticipation for what is to come is what advent is all about. Waiting for the purpose of God to be fulfilled, His perfect will to unfold, is what Christmas is a reminder of. He came. We can count on Him to come, every time, to each one, in the appointed time, He will bring salvation to our own and then through them to the World. Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below. Amen.

 

Merry Christmas, and an expectant, Happy New Year!

Heather