To the Friend Who Trusted God and Feels Let Down

When God gives me the opportunity to share the same message with more than one dear friend in a short period of time, I consider it a nudge from above and I share it with the masses. And this message seems to be quite timely given the brokenness of our world right now.

To the friend who trusted God and now feels ignored, unheard, abandoned, forsaken, alone, disappointed, or let down…

I’ve been there.

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I had clung to God’s promises for five years. I knew He was going to answer my prayers. I knew He was going to restore what had been broken. I knew He would come through for me. I trusted Him explicitly. I never once doubted His ability, His willingness, or His timing. It was hard to wait but I trusted my Savior to come riding in on His white horse to save the day.

But He didn’t come.

My heart shattered. My life shattered. And my faith was tested. Would I still trust God even when He didn’t rescue me?

I’ll never forget the way I felt the first time I heard Natalie Grant’s song, Held. These words touched a part of my heart that hurt so deeply and soothed my soul with the reminder of this simple truth: He was holding me.

Who told us we’d be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We’re asking why this happens
To us who have died to live?
It’s unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held

Oh, how I could relate! The sacred had been torn from my life and yet, I survived. I wanted to be rescued. I wanted to be saved from the nightmare of my reality, but I wasn’t and I didn’t understand why.

But God never promised that if we cling to Him, He’ll make our wishes come true. No, He never promised to give us what we’ve wanted or even to give us what we’ve earned. He just promised to hold us through this very difficult journey we’re on called life.

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When things don’t go our way, God has not disappeared. He has not forsaken us. He has not abandoned us. He has not failed us in any way. He is there. And He is holding us.

My sweet, hurting, broken friends…

It’s not your fault. It’s not your lack of faith. It’s nothing you did wrong or failed to do.

We live in a broken, fallen world. And somehow, despite our own brokenness, despite our own sin, we think we deserve to live a life exempt of the consequences of the sin all around us.

Do we really dare to think that we deserve to be rescued? To be saved?

Maybe we consider ourselves better than other people in our world. Maybe our sins aren’t as destructive, or heinous, or costly. But when we compare ourselves to the standard of perfection which is the life of Christ, can we really be so bold as to think we deserve deliverance??

Another song that speaks volumes to my heart on this very subject is a song that has brought many of us to tears over the past year. Hillary Scott & the Scott Family sing Thy Will Be Done and it brings me to my knees every time. Why? Because we love to focus our minds on the goodness of God and when He allows the pain of this world to encroach upon our lives, we don’t accept it. We reject it. We think it must be a mistake. It goes against everything we want to believe about a good and loving God.

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here

I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done

But it’s not our view of God that is clouded. I’m beginning to realize that it’s my evaluation of my own self that is skewed. It’s my assessment of my own place in this massive universe that is inaccurate.

You see, I’m not the center of the world and neither are you. Yes, God loves me (and  you) enough to die on a cross for our sins, but we are not the only two people He did that for. There are some events and situations and circumstances in our lives that actually have nothing to do with us and everything to do about the people around us.

What if God’s sole purpose in creating me was to use me to help someone else?

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Wow. That changes the way I look at my life. 

What if God allowed me to suffer through the greatest pain in my life so that He could bring me alongside of someone else going through a similar and use me to bring that person to a saving knowledge of Him??

What if the whole purpose of my life, my pain, and my entire life was just to point others to Him and to bring Him glory??

Oh, wait.

Isn’t that supposed to be the purpose of my life???

At what point in my journey through life did I begin to think that my life was about my happiness? When, as a Christian, was I ever taught that my feelings are more important than the will of God? Where, in the Bible, have I ever read that God’s purpose is to please me?

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When I stop focusing on what I think God owes me and I start focusing on what I owe God, then my perspective of my problems (as painful and traumatic as they might be) becomes much more clear and I’m just grateful that God can use my messed up life to help someone else and I’m not quite as upset anymore when things aren’t going my way.

I truly believe that I will never know on this side of heaven what purpose God has for many of the obstacles that I’ve hurdled (or crashed into) in my life. But I know that the Savior of the world loves me. I know that I don’t deserve His salvation. I know that I fall short of His glory and grace every single day. And I know that His Word says that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me.

His plans don’t always feel good.

But He’s a good, good Father.

This is what it means to be held.

Thy will be done.

 

 

 

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Unhurried in the Hammock

Some days, life just seems way too daily. The to-do list is long and the amount of time available to accomplish those tasks is shortened by interruptions from kids and emergencies and of course, Facebook. Still, on my most disciplined of days I’m doing good to get a few hours of homeschooling in, answer my messages (email, text, and yes Facebook), get my errands ran, and POSSIBLY remember to lay something out for dinner. Possibly. And at the end of the day my to-do list often still has the four things on it that were there the day before. Like “Call the dentist”. And “Talk about the budget with husband.” OK, that last one has been there for six years, but we’ll talk about my procrastination issues some other time.

My point is, most days (like most of you) I find myself feeling pulled in multiple directions. Even when I’m sitting still I feel like I should be doing something. If I’m riding (not driving) in the car, I work my business from my cell phone. If I’m making dinner, I answer messages on my cell phone. If I have 8 minutes while the cookies are baking, I hop on the computer and work on my lesson for co-op. When I’m trying to encourage a friend via text message, I think of a great image I could make, create it, then post it to all of my social media accounts and all of the ministry social media accounts that I run. Do you get what I’m saying. I’m never singularly focused. I’m always multi-tasking. Always thinking of what the next thing is that I need to do. Always hurrying on to that next thing.

How many times have my kids asked me a question while I hurriedly finished typing something “important” with my thumbs while mumbling, “Hang on…. almost done… just gotta finish this….one more sentence…… and….. What did you need?”

I even have a hard time keeping up with this blog. I mentally post here about 12 times a day. I’m not even kidding. I glean nuggets of wisdom from others that I find worthy of sharing and I mull over the best way to express those thoughts… while brushing my teeth, or cleaning my bathtub, or buying groceries. Those words never make it to this screen. I loose focus. I’ve moved on to the next thing.

And THAT is why I have decided that Heather needs Hammock time. Daily. Well, at least 3-4 times a week. And half of my hammock time needs to be phone free. At least.

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Today I went out to the hammock, phone in hand. For a while I listened to some praise music on Pandora from my phone. But then the multi-tasking began and I decided I needed to put it away. So I chose to sit in silence. I watched the clouds. I listened to the birds. I relished the fact that the air was warm and the breeze was light. I thanked God that I lived in Florida. And then I started thinking of the people I love who are going through immense difficulties. I prayed for the friend who’s husband is in immense physical pain. I prayed for the friend who recently lost her best friend. I prayed for my kids and my friends’ kids and for my marriage. Then I just sat.

I’ll be honest. It took a good twenty or thirty minutes before that jittery, restless, incessant need to do the next thing finally stopped.

But it did.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am NOT a workaholic. I’m not a busy bee. I’m not one of those people that work work work from sun up til sun down. In fact, I don’t do much at all compared to most stay at home / homeschool moms I know. I have lazy days (more than I’d care to admit). But even my lazy days are spent with divided attention. I’m never fully present.

And that brings me back to my words for 2017.

Focus and consistency.

Even if it takes me thirty minutes of staring at the clouds, I WILL learn to focus myself on one thing at a time.

And if I have to put this on my calendar and set reminders three times a week, I will.

Because the world deserves my best ME. Not a third of what I can give while doing two other things. And I deserve the peace that comes when you’re focused and not frantic.

So if you need me, I’ll be in the hammock. Unhurried. Without my phone. …. most of the time.

Three Little Words that Grieve Me

 

Legalistic… Liberal… Lukewarm

These three words have been spinning in my head a lot lately. A triad of extremes. Three little words that grieve me.

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They’ve been in the media. They’ve been spoken at church. I’ve read them on Facebook. I’ve heard them in sermons, commercials, testimonies, and speeches. They bother me.

These three words, each in their own right detrimental to America’s way of thinking and acting and voting and living. These three words that are encroaching upon the way non-Christians view the church. These three words that some Christians are embracing with loving acceptance.

Liberal. Legalistic. Or Lukewarm.

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I’ll start with Legalistic because that’s where I started. Legalistic Baptist Church. Wearing dresses or skirts only. In the church every time the doors were open. Memorizing. Quoting. Performing. Knocking on doors. Not because I was in love with Jesus but because that is what was expected of me. Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of folks there who probably loved Jesus a lot but I never felt that we were doing things out of love as much as we were doing things out of obligation. I walked the aisle at age 9 because I was terrified of hell, not because I was in love with my Savior.

I sat at church camp in my culottes. I sat in the sanctuary tapping my toes to the organ music. I sat there all 6 nights of Revival services. I sat in the choir loft during the Christmas Cantatas. I sat in the back row during my youth group days. I sat in the nursery on my Sundays to serve. I sat in the van on mission trips. I sat. And I sat. Nobody was running or leaping or … (dare I say it?)…. DANCING!! Dancing was on the long list of forbidden “thou shalt nots” that I adhered to for fear of hell, fire, and being a permanent outcast.

Legalism in the church stifles any spark that the Holy Spirit wants to fan into a roaring flame. It hinders growth. It puts the Holy Spirit in a box. It kills churches and it turns sinners away without any hope of ever measuring up to the impossible “thou must always” list that’s posted by the front doors. Jesus did not die on a cross so that we could live out our lives checking boxes and aiming for unattainable perfection. No, He did not. Jesus died on a cross because we are ALL hopeless, flawed, imperfect human beings in need of not only a Savior but a relationship with a Savior that loves us unconditionally. Yes, He did.

But where Legalism smothers a spark, Liberalism burns out of control.

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Liberal Christianity is on a rise and secular media is embracing it with arms open wide. While this should be a tell tale sign to Christians that something is amiss, this generation’s fear of being labeled “intolerant” has them running by the truck-load into the open arms of the all-tolerant liberal media. (Well, maybe not “all-tolerant”. They tend not to tolerate the intolerant. But that’s another blog post entirely.)

Over the past few weeks I’ve been participating in a Bible study by a popular, beloved Christian author. She’s wildly hilarious, has an amazing writing style, and her honest vulnerability is a breath of fresh air to worn out mamas and yoga-pants-wearing-women everywhere. But as I followed her on social media I was shocked by her very openly liberal political opinions and her unashamed passion for things that I am very much against.

Politics. Yep. I’m bringing up politics. It’s an election year so politics are everywhere and as ready as we all are to be done with this horrid election, it’s still worth mentioning that a person’s political views are completely intertwined with their religious/spiritual/ethical/moral convictions. And if they’re not… well then, their convictions must not run very deep.

Let me be clear- contrary to what almost all secular and liberal media outlets report- being “against” something does NOT mean you are afraid of it. I’m not sure who stumbled upon the gold mine of labeling unashamed Christians as being “afraid”, but it has certainly been beneficial to their cause. Don’t like a Christian saying they think homosexuality is a sin? Tell the Christian they are afraid of homosexuality and you’ll make them and their argument look weak. Don’t like a Christian saying that we need to respect our police officers and other law enforcement officials? Tell the (white) Christian they are afraid of black people and make them and their argument look weak.

I’m here to tell you I am not weak. I am not afraid. Of homosexuals. Of black people. Of politics. Of loud-mouth liberals. Of secular media. I am not afraid. Why? Because greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (I John 4:4). I can and I will stand firmly on Biblical truth because it cannot be shaken. God cannot be shaken. My beliefs, my views, my moral compass… they’re not part of a trending fad of acceptance and tolerance. They are timeless truths that were given to me by the love and mercy of my Savior and nothing is going to change that. Ever.

I struggled as I read Facebook posts and interviews and Tweets of the afore mentioned author. Do I stop reading her books? Do I tell my friends that I’m done with this author? Do I publicly denounce any further alignment with her and her book studies? One article about her liberal beliefs said that Christians should just take her beliefs with “a grain of salt” and filter them through their own beliefs. I think that’s true with anything we read outside of Scripture, but that response felt very weak. A mamby-pamby response to a mamby-pamby response.

So I’m just going to say it. Sin is sin. Sin should not be accepted. But it SHOULD and it MUST be forgiven. When Jesus talked to the adulteress woman in John 8, not only did He not condemn her, but He told her to “go and sin no more”. He didn’t pretend adultery wasn’t a sin. He didn’t embrace her and tell her she could go and commit adultery in His house. He reminded the people condemning her that they were all sinners just as each of us today are all guilty of sin. But Jesus would have done this woman a disservice if He told her to go about living her sinful lifestyle just as Christians today do a disservice to those we do not warn about the dangers of the sinful lifestyles they are in.

Liberalism is a slippery slope.

triad-lukewarm

Lukewarm. There’s a word.

If you ever watched the movie “War Room” you saw Miss Clara give Elizabeth a great analogy of what it means to be lukewarm when she offered her a cup of room temperature coffee. Like the Scripture in God’s Word, Elizabeth was ready to spit that lukewarm substance out of her mouth. Like a good cup of coffee, God wants His children to be hot or cold.

Lukewarm Christianity is dangerous. Anything not leading people TO Christ is leading people away from Him. Anyone not standing up to evil is falling to evil. Edmund Burke is credited with saying that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Truer words have never been said.

Saying “I don’t want to get involved” is the same as saying “I don’t care enough about this situation to stand up for it.” Many Christians don’t want to hear this. They don’t want to face the reality that they’re lack of involvement is really just acceptance. They don’t feel that they have to fight every fight. They don’t feel that they need to put themselves out on a limb if it’s not something they’re directly involved with. So they don’t. And when good men do nothing, evil triumphs.

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Legalistic. Liberal. Lukewarm. Three little words that grieve the heart of God. Three little words that should grieve the hearts of Christians and call them to action against complacency, altruism, and a life of checking boxes. Three little words that God has laid on my heart to recognize. To call out. To call attention to. To warn others of. To speak out against in His Church. Three little words that can bring so much damage if good people do nothing.

 

 

 

 

Legacy & Changing Perspective

Legacy has been a buzzword in my life as of late and I’ve found myself pondering what it is I will be known for when I’m gone someday. Who will my children and grandchildren say that I am? How will I be remembered? What will have been my greatest accomplishment?

Thinking about legacy has shifted my perspective.

OK, so I’m changing more than my perspective. I’ve changed the blog up quite a bit, too. Whatta ya think? Snazzy, huh? Maybe not quite snazzy but I had to get rid of the previous set up. It wasn’t me anymore.

I created the previous blog page as part of a college assignment which required me to “brand myself” by trying to appear exceptional in some area of my life.

Yeah. That totally didn’t happen.

I am good at a lot of thing… but I am not exceptional. And I really did not like pretending to be an authority on life as a military wife. Blah. Not even close. (Too bad I just renewed my domain name. Working on that. There’s gotta be a way to change it. Stay tuned!)

I’m awed by the women in my life who seem to have clear direction, clear purpose, and a clear understanding of who God has called them to be. That’s never been me. I’ve never stood out in any area. I’ve never gravitated to one side. I’ve never lead others in a new direction. And I’ve certainly never been the best at anything I’ve attempted. While that used to frustrate me, leaving me feeling inadequate and “stuck” I’ve found that being smack in the middle of average and ordinary tends to make me quite accessible to everyone. And I like that.

Maybe someday my legacy will be, “She speaks. She writes. Well…she really tries.”

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I’m totally ok with that. Because if people know that I’m trying, then they know that something has mattered to me. God matters to me. My marriage matters to me. My children matter to me. People matter to me.

So I’m changing my perspective and I’m no longer focused on finding one area of my life that God can use me. I want Him to use every area of my life. I want Him to use me in the grocery store and around our homeschool table and on conference stages and in my prayer closet. Wherever I find myself, I want Him to use me. And if I don’t write well…and I don’t speak well… well, at least I tried.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Healing the Heart- Crying, Jesus, & Root Beer

Just a few hours ago I blogged about trusting the heart. After a horrific week of tragic news from various family members, I knew what I needed.

A good cry. And Jesus.

And a Root Beer.

So I asked my husband to take me for a drive down my favorite road in Central Florida. At sunset. Because that’s where I see Jesus. And because my favorite soda stop is at the end of that road. Because my husband knows the look on my face when I need to take a drive, he hopped in the car and we drove.

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Not only was the show amazing in the sky, but God had synchronized our drive to the absolute perfect music.

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The first song on the radio was, “Jesus Bring the Rain” by Mercy Me.

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what’s a little rain
So I pray

So I started to tear up. A little.

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So the sky kept glowing and the music kept getting more and more powerful. The next song on the radio was “Ever Be” by Aaron Shust.

You Father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
And You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own
Now You’re making me like You
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride

Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

That’s when the tears started flowing.

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Despite the pain. Despite the stress. Despite the hurt. Despite it all… God is good.

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By the time we reached my soda stop, I had tears streaming down both cheeks so my sweet husband drove me through the orange groves so that my crying and my praising could continue on a few more minutes. I let it all out. The root beer could wait.

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That’s when “Strong Enough” by Matthew West came on the radio and I took in a deep breath and felt God filling up my lungs with His peace. This messiness. This shame. This pain. It’s going to be alright. It’s ok to take a day to ponder and process and cry and talk it out. It’s ok to admit I can’t do this by myself. Thank God, I don’t have to.

I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up
I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me
Lord right now I’m asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

That’s when He showed me that there’s healing in the brokenness. Only God can heal the heart.

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My heart may hurt right now, but my heart will heal. His healing has already begun.

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

 

 

Trusting the Heart

I learned a long time ago that you cannot always trust a person’s words. Sometimes even a person’s actions are not an accurate barometer of who that person truly is. You know, the real person- not just the person that people see on the surface. People make mistakes. They go through phases. They are often misled or misguided. People are people. And as the adage goes, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

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But we have to judge people by something. We have to make decisions and responses and relationships with people based on some variable. For years I struggled with this. Mainly because I was not brought up in what I now would deem an emotionally secure environment. My parents did the absolute best they could but they were still reeling from their own upbringings and trying to establish security of their own. I do not fault them for not being able to provide it for me. But as a parent now, I still don’t get how they allowed it.

It honestly wasn’t until after I married my husband Bob that I recognized the variable that I could (and should) use to filter a person’s words and actions and attitudes. It’s the heart. When you’re married to a person with a traumatic brain injury, you learn that you cannot always trust a person’s words. But I began to rely on what I knew about his heart. And while sticks and stones still leave scratches and broken bones, they don’t end marriages. Not when you know and trust someone’s heart. I trust that my husband loves me. I trust that  my husband would never intentionally hurt me. I trust that my husband always has my best interest at heart. And I trust that he’ll make mistakes along the way but that it will never negate all the things that I just stated which are true.

This has been an emotionally trying week. A week of spiritual assaults on so many different fronts that I’ve lost track. I’m even battling in my sleep. Literally and figuratively. Then today even more bad news came followed by a wave of tragedy and the heaviest of all the things weighing on me was this: I don’t think the people in my life (in my family) have learned how to read a person’s heart. Either that or their loyalties are seriously misplaced. I don’t know. But it has devastating consequences.

I wouldn’t know how to go about telling someone how to do this. How to read someone’s heart and know whether or not their heart is a safe place. A good place. Maybe it’s not something that everyone can do but it’s something I now realize I’ve done my entire life.  For as long as I can remember, there have been people in my life who I viewed as “good” and then there were people who I viewed as …uncomfortable to be around. Now I view them as “bad” but in my innocence, I  never imagined that anyone in my family could be inherently “bad”. Bad people commit murders and robberies and rot in jail. My family was not bad. They just made me feel uncomfortable. Or sad. Or scared.

For years I was prodded (ok, required) to accept various forms of abuse because, well,…family is family. As an adult I was told… pushed…ok, required to accept hurtful words, toxic behaviors, and sinful lifestyles because… well, family is family.

Friends, I am here to tell you that a common last name or shared strand of DNA does NOT make family a safe place.

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Earlier this week, my husband and I were shook to the core to learn that our 3 year old nephew had been found dead. A long, messy story. But the adults in his life had failed him. Adults whose hearts I did not trust. Adults I was told to trust anyway because, well… family is family. “That’s just the way this family is” has been said far too many times. And now a precious child is dead. Why? Because… well, family is family.

Late last night, my grandmother passed a way. A woman dearly beloved by many. A pillar in her church and in her family. Yet a person who  rejected me at birth and hurt me badly. But I was never protected from it, defended when it occurred, or given grace when I walked away from it. I was expected to take it because, well… family is family. And “that’s just the way this family is.” Don’t get me wrong- I have some very fond memories of her. She had many wonderful qualities. But how do you decide if a person is good or bad based on their words or actions? Make a list? Weigh the good and bad words and deeds against each other? I don’t know. So I look at a person’s heart.

Then today I received even worse news regarding another family member who had sexually molested some younger family members. Again, someone I was encouraged to love and accept (because, well… family is family) but always feared.

No one can judge another man’s heart but God. Yet, He gives us common sense and guidance (when we ask for it) to discern the ways of man. No, we cannot always trust man’s words. No, we cannot always trust a man’s actions, though they tend to tell us more about a person than his words. But you can trust that a man’s heart is who he is. That doesn’t mean you have to shun him if his heart is not good. It doesn’t mean that you should deny his existence or badger him and belittle him. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t forgive them because you absolutely should. Every time.  But we wise. Be on guard. Be prepared to defend and protect others from him. Don’t let your obedience in extending forgiveness overshadow the need to protect those who could still be hurt. Including yourself.

Most of my life I have been criticized, yelled at, ostracized, or at the very least, misunderstood for being wary of people whose hearts have troubled me. For keeping my children away from relatives whose hearts I did not trust to be good. To be safe. Today my heart grieves for the loss of a young child who could have been saved. I grieve not only for the relationship with my  grandmother that I “should have” had but also for the lack of action that any adult in my life had dared to take to stop the toxicity that had taken over the family. I sob for the young cousins who were violated in the most unimaginable of ways by the most unimaginable of people. Family is not always a safe place.

But I’ve never doubted the love of my Heavenly Father. I’ve always felt the safety of His wings around me. I can look back now and see what He spared me from. I can see what He spared my children from and I pray that He will bring healing and strength to my family members are that anguishing so much today.

I have no moral to this story. I have no shining nugget of wisdom to leave you with. I have no grand revelation to share. I just don’t want others to walk this same path if they can keep from it. Family absolutely SHOULD be a safe place. A sacred place. Where people grow and learn and thrive. But please, never allow your child to be in danger – emotionally, physically, or spiritually because… well, family is family.

I leave you only with a call to action:

Protect your children from abuse.

Protect your children from neglect.

Protect your children.

Just protect your children.

And be a safe place.

 

 

Why I’m Voting for Donald Trump

Thursday evening my husband and I attended a Donald Trump rally in Kissimme, FL and I posted some of the pictures and videos on my Facebook page. When the umpteenth person messaged me and asked me why I was voting for Trump and what I say to other Christians who don’t want to vote for him, I decided maybe I should just put my thoughts into words that everyone can see.

Trump Signs

Let me start off by saying that I know nothing about politics. When we watch the Convention and the inner party debates I have to ask my husband to give me the play-by-play in layman’s terms because my mind tends to forget election-year jargon in between elections. It’s like I need an Intro to Civics class every four year and a quick history on each of the key players. “Who’s that guy and where did he come from?” But as a Christian that rarely ever holds back her thoughts or feelings on anything, I feel that it’s important to share what God has showed me and what He’s laid on my heart about this year’s Presidential election.

Donald J. Trump is not my first candidate of choice for POTUS. But since my husband isn’t running for office, I have to pick someone else. Truthfully, Dr. Ben Carson was my first pick of those original Republican candidates that begged for our money and our vote. I wasn’t sure if he was strong enough as a contender but I knew he was strong in his faith, in his beliefs, in his values, in his morals, and in his desire to be a servant leader of our country. But he didn’t win the Republican nomination.

So, now we have Trump and Hilary.

Yes, I could quote what many of my fellow Conservatives have said in that “Any vote against Trump is a vote for Hilary” and that is true. But my reasons for voting for Trump go much further beyond that. I actually have a few things I like about the guy. And I have the longest laundry list in history of reasons nobody should ever vote for Hilary Clinton. I’ll do my best to summarize those as concisely as possible, though. This is a blog. Not a sequel to War and Peace.

OK, so why I like Trump: First off, like it or not, he won the Republican nomination. He won. That tells me a few things. 1. He’s obviously better at this politics stuff than we thought he was. 2. The American people are tired of politicians. And 3. He must know a lot more than I know because I have no idea how he beat out the candidates but he did. Second, if anyone knows about money and debt and how to have more money than debt, it’s Donald Trump. The man has built an empire. He has failed along the way many times. But he has kept building higher and higher. If there’s any hope of someone looking at the financial ruin our country is currently in and finding a way to dig us out of it, Trump can. Third, while I’m not a huge fan of his temperament, Donald Trump is not a man that other world leaders will easily push around. We’ve been viewed as a weak, passive nation for the past 8 years and I think it will take someone with a strong personality and strong initiative to bring us back to the top. We need a President who will keep us safe and fight to protect us from RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS. Trump isn’t afraid to call them what they are. And he won’t be afraid to keep them out of our country.

Most importantly, I’m going to vote for Donald Trump for this one reason: The next President of the United States will have the honor and privilege of assigning potentially 2-4 future Supreme Court Justices. Why does this matter? Because Presidents don’t get to make laws. Presidents can’t end abortion. Presidents don’t rule on marriage or gun control or our freedom of speech. But Supreme Court Justices do. And we need a President in the White House that will appoint Conservative Justices to the Supreme Court. If you want to see positive change in our country, this is where it will be.

Trump Speaking

Now for the short list of why I don’t like Hilary: First, I don’t want a President that is already wrapped up in a number of controversial scandals. If your personal integrity is not strong enough to keep you out of this kind of trouble BEFORE you’re President, you have no hope of reigning with integrity from within the Oval Office. Second, I do not trust a word that comes out of that woman’s mouth. Plain and simple – she has a loooooooong record of lying to the American public. Third, while I think a woman could make a fine President, I do not think SHE would make even a descent President and voting for her simply because she’s a woman would make me sexist. Fourth, she has not made our international relationships stronger. She knows nothing about international trade. And she is certainly not respected or taken seriously by many foreign dignitaries. She stands no chance of becoming a strong world leader. And finally fifth, she will ABSOLUTELY appoint liberal Justices to the Supreme Court, taking away our guns, limiting our freedom of speech, demanding acceptance of muslim extremists and sharia law in our country. She will not protect our integrity. She will not protect our borders. She will not protect us from terrorism. She will bring further demise to our sinking country.

I left the Trump rally with a longer list of things I like about Trump and things I dislike about Trump than what I walked in with. But my support for him as our next President grew exponentially. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if there’s any hope for our nation, it will be with him as our Commander in Chief. And I know that if he is not elected President, it won’t be the fault of the liberals. It won’t be the fault of the pro-choice and the anti-gun and the pro-tolerance-of-everything. It will be the fault of the Evangelical Christians and other card carrying members of the Republican party who are too busy fighting amongst themselves to remember who they’re supposed to be fighting against. It will be the fault of the Americans who don’t want to vote because they don’t like either candidate. It will be the fault of the Americans who think their vote doesn’t matter. And it will be the fault of the Trump supporters who didn’t want to stick their necks out on Facebook or in the office or in their Sunday School class or at the gym or at the shooting range or at lunch and say something about the truth of our nation and the consequences of voting Hilary Clinton into office. It will be my fault if I haven’t done everything I possibly can to encourage my friends to take their civic duty seriously and to pray hard about their right to vote and to pray hard for the next President of the United States.

I don’t know a lot about politics and government and international diplomatic relations. But I know that our country needs to fall on her face before God and beg Him for forgiveness for the sins of our nation. And I know that 2 Chronicles 7:14 says that, “If my people, who are called by my name, will HUMBLE themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and I will HEAL their land.” [emphasis added is mine] I don’t see a lot of humility in either candidate. And I don’t hear anyone asking for forgiveness. But Donald Trump is the only one that I see seeking the counsel of those who pray. He’s the only one I see seeking the counsel from conservative, Bible believing, God loving Christians. He’s the only candidate of the two that might bring us any closer to that HEALING we so desperately want and need in our land.

2chronicles714

 

That’s why I’m voting for Donald Trump. And that’s why I’m asking you to give him your vote, too.

 

His Blue Card, My Beige

When I started this blog, I intended to write about being a military wife. I wanted to connect to other mil spouses. I wanted to share our experiences to civilians and encourage those among the ranks. I wanted to share my heart about a variety of issues and how that relates to my role as a military wife. Yet, lately, I’ve found myself drifting farther and farther from the “military community” as my husband and I find our places among the “wounded warrior community”.

While we have come to love and respect so many members of the wounded warrior community, this isn’t a club we ever planned to join. But I guess we do have that in common with every other member in the club. Nobody plans to be here. We signed up to be military members and military spouses. We signed up for deployments and drill weekends and dirty ACUs on the laundry room floor. Not VA appointments and PTSD classes and Caregiver workshops. But when we said “I do” we knew it was for better or for worse and you won’t find many of us in the “wounded warrior community” that would trade anything in the world for the love we still share with our spouses. The fact remains, though, that we weren’t planning on being here.

Now that we’re here, we realize more and more every day that we’re not where we once were. Sure, we still consider ourselves a military family. That never leaves you. But one conversation with your “active duty” friends reminds you that you’re not in the same world. When you hear about Privates throwing up “stress cards” and talk of the new “green” bullets, you start to hear words like “old school” describe your and your spouse’s time of service. Yet, your heart still pounds when you see a black sedan pull in front of the house. You still have a stack of MREs in the pantry. You still carry his dog tag on your key chain. Some things don’t change.

Someone who loves me wears dog tags.jpg

It’s a strange transition.

I’ll never forget the day that my husband, now officially medically retired, went to get his new military ID. The lady smiled as she pulled up his file and said, “Ooooooh. I see you get the coveted blue card. Congratulations.”

Yes. My husband gets the card that enlisted and officers alike dream of. He gets the great medical insurance. I get to shop at the commissary. We get to fly Space-A and utilize the military rate at hotels. His new blue card. My new beige card. We’re living the dream.

This is not what we signed up for.

My soldier is no longer a soldier. He was a man first and he will be a man last and what I married was a man, not a career. The courage, discipline, duty, honor, and loyalty of the man I married are because HE is all of those things. The Army didn’t give them to him. They’re his. They’ve always been his and they will always be his. And he will always be mine.

His Blue Card My Beige

His blue card. My beige card.

It’s a strange transition.

I’m just glad we’re in it together. I’m glad we’re more than a career. I’m glad we’re more than numbers on a laminated card. I’m glad we’re in it for the long haul. For better or worse. In sickness and in health. Til death do us part. I’m glad that I met a soldier. I’m forever grateful that a godly man loved me.

I’m glad some things never change.

Praying for our Wounded Warriors- a 7 Day Call to Prayer

With Veterans Day right around the corner, it was on my heart to lead others in a 7 day Call to Prayer for our Wounded Warriors. With Veterans committing suicide at a rate of 22 a day, our Veterans need our prayers now more than ever. Every Veteran is wounded. It’s impossible to go to war, to participate in the level of self-sacrifice and self-denial that is required of our military and to not be wounded in some way. A recent survey showed that almost 60% of our wounded warriors feel that there is little meaning in the things they do day to day. No warrior should feel unimportant, unappreciated, or unloved.

Please use the following prayer guide as just that – a simple guide that will steer your prayers in the direction that God lays on your heart. Our warriors deserve more than we can ever repay them. Let us start with our prayers.

mil 4

Day 1 (Nov 5)- Pray for restorative healing from the physical injuries of war.

The Wounded Warrior Project’s 2015 Alumni survey showed that among those with injuries, almost 78% of our wounded warriors suffered from 3-8 different injuries or health problems. Many suffer from amputated limbs (4%), significant burns (3%), and spinal cord injuries (15%), and 72% experience problems with their neck, back, and/or shoulders. For many, the physical pain they are experiencing today will never lessen. Please pray for God’s supernatural healing on their body, for comfort, for advancements in medicine and health technology, and for the care they receive at the VA and through other medical providers.

Psalm 41:2-3

The Lord protects and preserves them—
    they are counted among the blessed in the land—
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
    and restores them from their bed of illness.

Day 2 (Nov 6)- Pray for restorative healing from the mental injuries of war.

Over 76% of WWP’s alumni reported a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since 2000, the DoD has recorded over 333,000 cases of Traumatic Brain Injuries, over 44% of our warriors. And over 66% of WWP’s alumni reported having had an experience “that was so frightening, horrible, or upsetting that they had not been able to escape from memories or the effects of it.”

Pray against haunting memories, flashbacks, and nightmares.

2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Day 3 (Nov 7)-Pray for restorative healing from the emotional injuries of war.

Civilians cannot possibly imagine the traumatic events that our warriors have witnessed and experienced in the war zone. This year, 80% of our wounded warriors reported having a close friend who was severely injured or killed in combat, 75% witnessed the death of non-combatants (women, children, civilians), 65% remember actually smelling decomposing bodies, and almost 20% still struggle daily with knowing that they are responsible for the death of a civilian.

It is hard to imagine how one might ever emotionally recover from such events. Our warriors need our prayers because our God can heal the most broken of hearts.

Psalm 134:17-20

17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are [a]crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.

Day 4 (Nov 8)- Pray for restorative healing from the spiritual injuries of war.

They say there are no Athiests in foxholes, yet I’m sure God often seems millions of miles away from the battlefield. The evil of the terrorism our Veterans have fought has brought an entirely new component to the recovery process of war. Our warriors engaged in jihad…. a religious war with the darkest of enemies. They need spiritual healing, forgiveness (both offering and asking), and an understanding of the true enemy- the thief that seeks to steal and kill and destroy. Pray for peace in their hearts, their minds, and their souls.

John 14:27

27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Day 5 (Nov 9) Pray for restorative healing from the relational injuries of war.

 Almost two-thirds of our wounded warriors are married and one-third of our wounded warriors require the assistance of a Caregiver. Many have spouses, children, parents, siblings, and civilian friends that do not understand the changed person that came home from war. Misguided anger, fear, and distrust creep their way into what were once solid relationships, creating division and destruction. Pray for our warriors’ marriages, families, friendships, and other relationships.

Ephesians 4:1-3

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

hospital feet

Day 6 (Nov 10)- Pray for restorative healing from the financial injuries of war.

Approximately 35% of WWP’s alumni are currently unemployed and another 7.5% are currently working only part-time. The median income per week is $760 or $39,520 per year. For those requiring a Caregiver (often a spouse) this equals the loss of a second income. Many families have gone from two solid incomes to living off of disability payments. The added financial stress of our warriors only adds to the list of struggles they already face. Pray for the financial stability of our warriors, for work-at-home opportunities for spouses, and for employers that will seek out the skills at talents of wounded warriors that still have so much to contribute to society.

Deuteronomy 28:12

12 The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

Day 7 (Nov 11, Veterans Day)- Pray for our wounded warriors’ pasts, presents, and futures.

Be thankful for the sacrifices they chose to make. Pray for ways to minister to our wounded warriors now. And ask God to bless their future. Most importantly, pray that each and every warrior would know God’s saving grace, unconditional love, and endless mercy.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

For a printable copy, please click here :Call to Prayer for Wounded Warriors

For more information regarding the 2015 WWP Survey, click here.

The Woman I Want To Be

I have a confession. I haven’t always enjoyed being Heather. In fact, I’ve never liked my name and I’ve spent most of my life wishing I was more like someone else.

In fact, in recent years, I really wanted to be Jayne.

My friend, Jayne photo cred: Radiant Images

My friend, Jayne
photo cred: Radiant Images

I met Jayne at our church in Wentzville, MO a few years ago and immediately attached myself to her. The thing is, I wasn’t the only one attaching myself to her. That’s the thing about people like Jayne… EVERYONE wants to be around her. I mean, EVERYONE. You just want to be in her presence. You want to hear her talk. You want to hear her talk about any one of the number of things she’s passionate about – the persecuted church, women’s ministry, reaching the lost, helping the homeless, raising our children to love the Lord, being real and vulnerable about life with one another…. I could go on and on. People who hear Jayne talk want to hear her more. And they want to hear Jayne pray. Because Jayne is a Jesus girl with a heart the size of Texas and a love for others like no other.

jayne 1

The few years that I lived near Jayne I tried to not be envious of the gifts and talents God had given her. I mean, she’s gorgeous. (HELLO!) And such a good speaker. She never struggles for words. God just flows through her mouth and into the ears of her listeners with such passion and excitement that you can’t help but be completely captivated. She’s asked to speak in so many different venues.

Here she is in Jefferson City, Missouri’s capital, at the prayer vigil held on the anniversary of the imprisonment of Saeed Abedini, a persecuted Christian being beaten and held as a prisoner in Iran. She organized the state rally and spoke in front of the crowd that had gathered. She has a God-given ability to organize and rally people together.

Jayne and her beautiful daughter

Jayne and her beautiful daughter

I could post pictures of her teaching Bible School or speaking at Faith Fest, but I think you get the idea. Jayne is an amazing speaker. And I really wanted to be Jayne. Or be like Jayne. So, I tried to remind myself that God has given me talents, too. Talents that are unique to me. For example, I was a pretty good baker and I taught myself how to make sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. And Jayne always said she wasn’t a very good cook. So, at least I had that.

Then one day Jayne tried her hand at baking and decorating cookies.

My Friends Cookies

My Friends Cookies

My Friends Cookies

And Jayne is obviously MUCH more talented in this area than I am.

Sigh….

But then I moved to Florida, out from under what I “perceived” to be Jayne’s “shadow”.

And I met Shannon.

Shannon

Shannon

Do you see the joy and love and compassion that just exudes out of this woman’s smile?? It’s no surprise that she’s the head of the Women’s Ministry of our church here in Florida.

Shannon and I became instant friends and I was THRILLED when she invited me to join the Women’s Ministry team at church. And it wasn’t long before I wanted to be Shannon. Or at least be LIKE Shannon.

I mean, she’s lived in Florida her whole life and she has been in this church for sooooooo long. She knows everyone. And everyone knows her. And everyone trusts her. She’s everyone’s friend. She makes everyone feel loved and welcomed. And she knows how things have been done, and they should be done, and who can get them done. And everyone knows that Shannon is the lady that can GET things done.

Shannon painting for a ministry project at church

Shannon painting for a ministry project at church

Unlike Jayne, Shannon possesses skills that God hasn’t even BEGAN to cultivate in me. For example, Shannon is an AMAZING artist.

She paints. She paints for fun. She paints by request. She paints things she sees in her mind’s eye. She paints things other people suggest she paints. She paints. And when the creation in her mind hits the canvas… well, it’s breathtaking. Shannon oozes with talents that I could never even imagine. She’s organized. She’s creative. She thinks out of the box. She’s just amazing.
Shannon 5

And she has a great eye for seeing and capturing beauty in nature with her camera.
Shannon 6

Yep. There are some days I wish I was Shannon.

And then there’s Megan. I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally want to be Megan.

Megan 2

Megan is my Team Manager with Jamberry. Her title keeps changing but it’s something like Executive or Elite Executive or Jamberry Goddess or something like that. She’s a big deal.

Megan and a fellow JAM rock star

Megan and a fellow JAM rock star

Not only do we allllllllll want to be Megan because she’s making over 6 figures a year selling nail stickers (WHAT!?!?!?!? I know, right!?) but the thing is…. she’s seriously like the nicest person on earth. She’s a mom of 3. She’s married to a hot lawyer (her words, not mine 😉 ). And oh yeah, she’s a NICU nurse. Nicest. Person. Ever. And she’s HYSTERICAL. Her personality is HUGE.

Megan @ Jam HQ

Megan @ Jam HQ

Ummm… and did I mention that she’s gorgeous? Here’s a pic she posted on FB when she called herself “a wreck” (again, her words, not mine).

Megan

Megan

I don’t look this hot at my BEST.

But mainly, I want to be Megan because she is really successful at the things she’s passionate about. So much so that her little Jamberry team of over 2,000 women have coined the phrase (and the picture) “What Would Megan Do?”

WWMMD?

WWMMD?

But this is me.

Just Me

Just Me

I’m not a gorgeous blonde. I don’t draw huge crowds. I don’t make $10,000 a month. I don’t know everyone in this town. I can’t paint. My cookies aren’t gorgeous. My husband’s not a lawyer. Nobody fights for time with me. And when I’m a wreck…. I am NOT a bombshell.

But fortunately, God reminds me of who I am. And who I SHOULD want to be.

I am the wife of a wounded warrior. I have a unique opportunity to minister to Veterans and their families.

Me and Bob photo cred: Dawn Wagner

Me and Bob
photo cred: Dawn Wagner

I am a full-time college student that is setting a standard of educational excellence for my children. I will graduate next month, Suma Cum Laude (3.87 GPA) from Arizona State University.

Graduating with my AA; on my way to my BS

Graduating with my AA; on my way to my BS

And I’m a homeschooling momma of these 5 beautiful gifts from God.

My babies

My babies

What God is showing me is that it doesn’t matter if I rise to the top of my business. It doesn’t matter if I rise to the top of my class. What matters is that I rise to do what He’s called me to do. What matters is that I do EVERYTHING that I do as if I’m doing it for Him…. because that’s what His Word says I should do.

I can hug a new woman in our church that Shannon won’t have a chance to see. I can reach Veterans on the street that Jayne will never meet. I can be successful in my ministry to one person that has more eternal value than all of Megan’s sales put together. Not because I’m better. Not because they’re better. But because God has completely different, unique, individual, specific plans for each of us.

I’m not Jayne. I’m not Shannon. I’m not Megan.

I’m Heather.

So, today, and everyday, I must purposefully and INTENTIONALLY choose not to be envious of the beautiful women in my life. I should emulate the things I see them do only if God’s calling me to do those same things. And I should look first and foremost to HIM to see the woman I want to be. The woman I am. The woman God has made me. The woman God has called me to be. The woman I want to be.