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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Flavor Combo #2: Greek Chicken

I got very excited about sharing with you some of the tried and true flavor combinations that I switch up every now and then to make our dinner meals a tad more exciting… and then life got in the way and all I shared was our Buffalo Chicken favorites.

Well, that’s going to change right here.

Introducing…. GREEK CHICKEN. I know. That doesn’t sound any more exciting than Buffalo Chicken. But my kids love all things “Greek chicken” making it worth the effort to find multiple ways to serve it up. So, here we go…

I. Mission: To create a basic Greek chicken recipe that can be used in multiple dishes.

II. Service Support:

*Chicken! Baked boneless, skinless chicken breasts (whole or shredded, depending on the recipe)
*Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning
*Feta Cheese
*Red and/or Green Onion, diced
*Fresh (or dried) dill
*Cucumber (optional)
*Tomato (optional)

cavenders

III. Execution:

It’s amazing how many things these simple ingredients can make. Here are a few of our favorites:

*Pizza! Use your favorite homemade (or store-bought, if you roll that way) pizza crust. Spread some warm cream cheese mixed with a little ranch dressing and some fresh dill on your crust. Drop a few generous handful of shredded chicken down and sprinkle with Cavender’s. Top with feta cheese, onion, and maybe a little mozzarella or Colby Jack cheese…whatever you have on hand.

This is probably our kids’ favorite. It’s rich and creamy and while you’re eating it you think to yourself, “Why aren’t all pizzas this rich and creamy.” Trust me. You do.

greek chicken pizza

*Roll-ups! My kids are obsessed with these. Mix some shredded chicken, Cavender’s, dill, onion, tomato, cucumber, feta cheese, and cream cheese together in a bowl. Spread onto a tortilla wrap and roll up. Yummmmmmmmmmo. Use warm chicken. Use cold chicken. It doesn’t matter. These are fast, easy and great on the go.

*Greek chicken salad! Mix chicken, Cavender’s, dill, onion, cucumber, and feta with a little greek yogurt and/or light mayo. Add chopped olives if you’d like or a little sugar to make it sweet. Serve on your favorite roll. We like it on croissants. We like everything on croissants.

*Greek chicken! Yep. Just good old Greek chicken. Throw the chicken breasts in the oven, coated in Cavender’s. Top with some red onion slices and feta cheese and throw it in the oven.

*Pita pockets! Let the kids make their own combination of the above in their own little pocket. Maybe add some lettuce, spinach, or olives to the line-up. And some easy tzatziki sauce on the side. Sooooo good.

And there you go! Greek Chicken five different ways!

Why I Don’t Pray for My Husband to Join My Ministry

I’ve heard countless women…good women, humble women, godly women… pray for God to please move in their husbands’ lives to bring them to a place of ministering together. I love that thought. I love the idea of husbands and wives in ministry together and I’ve been blessed by countless husband/wife duos who serve God together, arm in arm. I love the husbands and wives that co-teach Sunday School. The husbands and wives that co-lead Celebrate Recovery teams. The husbands and wives that open their homes together for small group Bible studies. I love it.

But I’m not going to pray for that anymore. Ever. I’ve been guilty of that before.

My husband is not what you would call a social individual. He’ll talk to anyone who approaches and he’ll give them the shirt off his back, but he won’t seek out someone to talk to. In fact, he’ll do his best to stay out of the way by himself. So, praying for God to bring him to a place of ministering with me in church, in groups, was just asking God to make my husband someone who he isn’t. But God stopped me in my tracks. In one weekend God managed to show me three different ways that He was using my husband, right where he is.

First, we got a message from a soldier that Bob and I met on the WWP Soldier Ride last November. My “I don’t need friends” husband had befriended a younger Vet on the ride and talked to him at great length about overcoming some of the obstacles that he had in his life. He shared candidly about his own problems and how slowing his life down and focusing on God had saved him from a world of hurt. This young Vet wrote us to thank Bob for believing in him and for sharing with him and to tell us that he’d gotten himself squared away and was going to church. Bob ministered to this guy – not in our church, not in our home, but right where he was.

Second, we got a phone call from a very good friend of ours who happens to be a Captain in the Army. One of the men he had served with in Iraq was out of a job, living in a very poor community, and needed help. He asked Bob if he would call him and see about helping him find some work. Bob immediately got on the horn and called this young man, offering him some hope. Again, he didn’t meet this soldier’s needs in our church or in a Bible study in our home, but he used Bob right where he was.

And last but not least, we attended a minor league baseball game with some military friends of ours one very hot, steamy, Florida evening in July. The heat index was well over 100* in the shade and we were already feeling miserable before the game began. A few rows above us on the other side of our section we heard a woman start screaming for help. Her elderly mother had passed out in the heat. My husband did not hesitate to join the first responders that came to her aid. Although he never had a chance to put his schooling into practice, my husband graduated from med school a few years ago at one of the best med schools in the country. He never thought twice about being bothered to help her. He knew what to do. He knew how to help. And he didn’t give it a second thought. Not in a church. Not in a Bible study. But at a minor league baseball stadium.

I will never again pray that God will form my husband into the man that meets my expectations of ministry. God’s plans are so much better than mine and He has a much better idea of how to utilize my husband in His kingdom work than I do. Maybe he doesn’t speak to congregations. Maybe he doesn’t pray over large groups. But to the individuals God has used my husband to reach, he was a blessing. And what more could a wife truly ever want than to know that her husband is right where God wants him?

Conflicting Comments

They say that men are like waffles; women are like spaghetti. Men can easily compartmentalize things while women tend to connect and intertwine every thought, event, and action like a big ole pile of slippery spaghetti.

It seems like everyone from your mother to your mechanic has advice to offer on a daily basis. We love to criticize the media for their role in negatively impacting our self-esteem but the same barrage of criticism in the form of advice often comes from the pulpit, the women’s Bible study, and our own posts on social media. And not all criticism is bad. Constructive criticism has saved me from many poor decisions. Yet, how do I sift through the onslaught of advice I receive every day?

I wish I was a waffle.

But I’m not. It takes me forever to detangle the mess of critical remarks that the world throws my way… especially when they are conflicting comments. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

*It’s good to get up early before your children so you can pray, spend time with the Lord, and enjoy alone time before your day begins.

**A tired mommy does nobody any good. Get plenty of rest so that you can be the mom they need.

*We need to cleanse our bodies from the impurities that we put in them. It’s important to drink water, eat healthy foods, and get plenty of exercise every day.

**It’s harmful to compare ourselves to others. Be happy with who you are and what you look like. We can’t all be a size 4. Embrace your body the way it is and stop living for the acceptance of others. Besides, God loves you just the way you are.

*If you make a commitment, you should keep it.

**Your family should always come first. If they need you, you should break all other commitments.

*It’s our job, as parents, to protect our kids from the outside world.

**If we shelter our children, we are not providing them with opportunities to learn and grow.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

That’s why it’s so important to have Truth to filter such comments through. While it’s certainly a blessing to have experts in the fields of medicine, marriage, health, children, employment, and so on, there’s only one Expert that I know will never give me conflicting advice.

God.

It’s not easy to know what to do. It’s not easy to make decisions as a mother, a wife, a woman. It’s not easy to muddle through the piles of advice we receive every day and to clearly discern which advice is worth applying to our lives and which advice should line the bottom of the bird cage.

And often both sides of conflicting advice are good…. given the right circumstances.

Only God knows the plan He has for our lives. So ultimately, it should only be Him that we seek when we are unsure of what to do.

Only he can make a waffle decision out of my pile of spaghetti.

Amish Cinnamon Bread

This recipe has been floating all over Pinterest. So, like usual, I took it and gave it my own twist.

This “bread” is much more like a cake than a bread. I like baking it in a bundt cake pan or a 8″x8″ cake pan.

Last week our family made some homemade butter during our homeschool study of colonial America, so I whipped up a quick batch of this bread so we’d have something to apply our creamy butter on. It did not disappoint.

butter 1

Here’s my twist on the popular Amish Cinnamon Bread recipe that makes 2 pans.

Batter:
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

Cinnamon/Sugar mixture:
2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cream together the butter, sugars, and eggs. Add milk, flour, and baking soda. Put 1/2 of the batter into 2 greased loaf pans, square pans, or bundt pans (1/4 of the batter in each pan). Mix the cinnamon/sugar mixture together in a separate bowl. Sprinkled 3/4 of this mixture on top of the batter in each pan. Add remaining batter to pans. Sprinkle with last of cinnamon topping. Swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min or so until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with delicious, creamy butter for best results.