To The Little Girl

To the little girl in the photo:

Life will give you many twists and turns. The ride will sometimes be smooth and other times will be bumpy. You will face things that you never expected. You’ll learn that not everyone is who they appear. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll scream. You’ll stand up and stand firm. You will make mistakes. Lots of them. You’ll be shown mercy. Lots of it. God will be the one constant. He will be the only ONE who will never let you down. He’s the only ONE capable of that for anyone. You will face fears and you’ll face things that some will never know about. You’ll love big. You will be blessed so much. God will give you so many gifts. Life will reveal things that you never imagined. You will realize again and again that you are never the ONE that is in control. You will have moments of frustration. You will experience depression and anxiety. You will think it’s a secret to keep. You will speak up and be transparent. You will realize that life throws the twists and turns and that sometimes you will struggle. You’ll speak up and be bold. You will share pieces of your testimony at the right times. The times that God leads you to do so. You’ll share your struggles because you know the things you experience can help someone else. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll soar. You’ll fly. You will struggle with the deep thoughts and you’ll keep sharing. This is why you are here. Little girl. You keep going. Keep striving. Keep leaning. Keep standing. Your FATHER is always by your side.

Love,

Me

THE THING ABOUT GRIEF

The thing about grief is that while you are suffocating, the rest of the world seems to be going on without you. But that’s just it. The rest of the world, the people you see smiling and laughing, they may be grieving as well.

The thing about grief is that you can feel so lonely in your grief at times. Leaving a hole. And yes, God fills that hole, if you let him, but you still hurt deeply.

The thing about grief is that you are forever changed. Seeing things in a completely different way than before. You truly get the brevity of life. That person that I was on April 1st, 2014 at 5 am (pre phone call that my Daddy was having a heart attack) is different from the person I became that night on the same day. And I’m forever changed. More serious and more intentional about every aspect of life.

If you’ve lost a loved one you know. The thing about grief is that it’s different for everyone. It’s a personal thing. Words don’t heal.. But love sure helps.

The thing about grief is that there really is no getting over it. No time limit. No easy 1 2 3 fix for it. You live. You have a good day. You have a bad day. You suck it up and you keep moving forward. Because every single one of us will experience grief. It’s part of living in this temporary home.

And I realize that the tears are a gift. The memories are a gift. Even grief is a gift.

The ache in the heart…that physical pain.. it just means that you are holding them really close to your heart. What better place to keep them until you meet again.
The thing about grief… It can hit you anywhere and at anytime. Like walking down the aisle at Wal-Mart, or during a worship service. And you can’t control it anymore than you can control the wind. It’s like a catch in your throat and it hits you like a punch to the gut. That’s grief.

It’s different for everyone. No two people can or should grieve the same. You grieve when you’ve had a personal relationship with someone or something. There is no way that you could have the same exact relationship with someone as I do or vice versa. It’s personal. That’s the thing about grief.

The joy I feel comes from God and God alone. The peace is a direct result in resting in the arms of my Savior. Reality is that at times I feel alone in my utter sadness. Alone in my remembering. Like being in a crowded room but still feeling alone. But God. He is my strong tower and refuge and deliverer. And I know I’m not alone. You aren’t alone. 

The thing about grief is… Everyone has been there and if you haven’t yet, you will. We can’t expect the world to stop. It just won’t. And it shouldn’t. I look back and recognize the change in the “before” me and the maturity and the living life to the fullest attitude in the “after” me. Because that’s what a deep loss will do to a soul.

Loss changes you. But sorrow really does produce a better you if you let it. It makes you look at the simplest of things in much deeper ways. It changes you.

Life on earth really is but a moment. A brief moment in time. The best gift that you can give the ones left behind is a legacy of love. Not just any legacy of love, but one of loving God most. 

We shouldn’t compare how one person grieves to how another might. There should be no judgement in grief. And let me make something clear. You can experience grief even if the object of your grief is not dead. There are so many types of grief. Because everyone is unique, and every circumstance is unique, every loss will be unique as well.

And just because you may be a “veteran griever” (yes, I made that term up), doesn’t mean that you are exempt from grieving. It doesn’t mean that you even know how to grieve. 

Time does not heal all wounds. Only God can do that. Even when the wounds scab over and the new skin covers it, doesn’t the skin look different? It’s ok. It’s supposed to. That scar becomes beautiful when we let the light of Christ shine through. Even if it is only a little light at a time. 

Those broken places can be mended. The mending occurs when we let God fill up the cracks and the deep cuts. Maybe our scars are there for a purpose. Maybe they can be seen as beautiful. Like a mosaic that’s pieced together. When we let His light shine through. When we let HIM do the mending.

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.” ~‭‭Psalms‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭
Until Next Time,

Heather

Peeling and Tossing

It struck me, as  I was thinking on The Mended Heart bible study that I’m doing, and I asked God to peel back the layers.  To show me “me” and to unearth the things that I’ve covered up in order to live “normally”. He wants to heal me completely. To peel back each layer and toss away the hidden junk that keeps me stuck. And he wants to do the same for you.
I think I have a fear of failure. Yes. There. I said it. Or maybe it’s called something else. I get these wild ideas and want to do something great and then feel like I can’t. So I don’t. 

I get asked to do something and turn it down because “who me?” Nobody would show up if it’s me. 
May go all the way back to a 5th grade pool party. I really thought that was no biggie. I invited lots of friends and my mom and I made snacks or bought them.. We had it all set up. And one person came with her mom (a new friend to be at a new school that I would be going to come August) and one of my old faithful childhood best friends. Two people. 2. And me and the mom and my momma.
Now don’t go feeling all sorry for me. I’m serious! Because the three of us had a blast! We swam and played and ate. Lots of snacks for us. And if you know me you know I like to eat. 
And maybe I covered up my sadness then too. I’m sure I did. But I’ve never forgotten that only 2 showed up and one because she had to. Haha!
Who knows why.. Could have been that the kids didn’t tell their parents or could’ve been that they just didn’t want to come. Could have been that I didn’t give them enough notice. 
I still had fun. 

But I’ve never forgotten that day. And when I lead a study or have a get together, in the back of my mind is “I wonder if anyone will come?” 

But they did. All those years ago. There were 2. And they made an impact on me. 

So, when I have a dream.. And it seems out of reach … I still have to fight that little voice saying ” nobody will care.. Nobody will read it.. Nobody will come..You don’t matter.”

That’s the voice of the enemy. He loves to take our weak places and magnify them with negative thoughts. 
My God says that I matter. He says that you matter. My God says that even just one person can make a lasting impact. 

He says that if HE puts that dream in my head and heart that HE will strengthen me and equip me to carry it out.


Thoughts to ponder:

What dreams are you shoving away and hiding because of fear?

Who can you impact by simply being there?

What are you afraid to do and will you choose to believe that God equips you?

What might you need to peel and toss? 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭7‬ NLT)

One More Thing…

As I continue to ask God to peel back the layers, some of the layers are painful. Some sting a little. But I know it’s for a greater good. To heal. 

I’ve come to realize that covering up things with a bandaid only means that they  will inevitably resurface. 

Got to peel and toss in order to heal. 

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (‭Psalms‬ ‭139‬:‭23-24‬ NLT)

Until Next Time…

Shine On,

Heather 

The Beauty In Different

 

It’s sad to say, but it’s true.. Too often Christians are known for what we are against.. Not for what we are for. Not all of us.. Not all of the time.. But a lot of the time.

Sometimes people are turned off by the church in general. And hear me when I say that THE CHURCH is not the building. Sometimes it’s because they feel judged by those in the church. Other times it’s because of a past incident in the church where they were treated like an outcast. An outcast. Cast out.. think about it. We, as Authentic Followers of Christ Jesus should not cast someone away just because they are different.

We are called to love like Jesus. Is it always easy? I think you know the answer to that. It is only possible if we let Jesus love through us.

I love my church. One of the reasons I love it is because it is diverse. Diversity is beautiful.. Diversity is a gift.

God made each one of us unique. He didn’t mass produce us in a cookie cutter mold.

 

We are all different. My different is ok. Your different is ok. And the person who walks in and loves Jesus with all their heart and soul and mind but looks different from me or you is OK. Read the above quote again. The one about cookies. 😉

 

Just because someone looks the part on the outside does not.. I repeat does not mean that their heart looks the part.

 

God looks at the heart. Man looks at outward appearances more often than at the heart.

 

Take time to see the beauty in different.

 

If we are authentic Christians then we are called to love like Jesus. Without conditions placed on our love.

 

 

Love God, Love People, Shine JESUS.

 

That is what you will see in my bio on my social media pages, that is what I strive to live daily. It is my anthem. My life’s mission. When I write my book, I am pretty sure that my anthem above will be the subtitle. It is what we are called to do.

Jesus is about relationship not religion. Love not law. Sure, we have standards to live up to. As Christians we should look like Christ to others. On the inside and on the outside reflecting JESUS to the world. Our bodies are HIS temple if we are HIS. Reflecting Jesus to the person in line behind us, to the cashier, to the waiter, to the Physician, to the hard to love people, to every single person in our path. We should reflect God in all that we say and do.

It is all about the heart. I keep thinking of that catchy commercial. The one that says “What’s in YOUR wallet?” You know the one I am referring to? An insurance commercial. Well I keep hearing.. “What’s in YOUR heart?”  

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR HEART?

 

Love or Hate?

Un-forgiveness or a sweet spirit?

Bitterness?

Mercy?

Grace?

Anger?

A Judgemental Spirit?

Malice?

Joy?

Kindness?

Jesus?

 

What is in our heart comes out through our actions and words.

 

But the good news is….GRACE.

 

Oh I need that GRACE because the truth is that I have had all the above in my heart at times. The good and the bad. I need that GRACE that God so freely pours out on me every single day. I need to be pouring out that same grace in turn to others. You do too. We all do. Oh that GRACE. It is so beautiful.

 


 

Judging others because they are a different skin color, have tattoos, have piercings, don’t have tattoos, don’t have piercings, listen to rock christian instead of old hymns, listen to old hymns instead of contemporary christian music. Maybe it is even judging others because they are quiet and reserved or loud and outgoing.. Maybe it is judging someone because of their choice of education or vocation..The list goes on and on. It is not our job to judge. Can we lovingly in a grace laced way speak biblical truth into someone’s life? Sure, if our motives are pure and we have prayed about it and are prompted by The Holy Spirit to do so. It is about the heart.

Love like Jesus.

Don’t assume.

Take time to love.

Heal not hurt.

Look at ourselves before we look at others.

Check our motives.

Keep it shut.

Love not wound.

Heart check time again.

Grace Time. 

Oh that beautiful GRACE.


REFLECTION

~ What’s in my heart?

~ Do I need to declutter and purge some junk that I have been hoarding in my heart?

~ Am I being judgmental and if I am, do I need to rid myself of that way of thinking?

~ Do I truly love others the way that God has commanded me to love?

~ Do I have a relationship with Jesus?

~ Do I look like a Christian on the outside but need to clean up the inside?

~ Do I make others feel welcome in my church or community or place of work or home?

~ Do I shine Jesus?

 


RELEVANT SCRIPTURE

Proverbs 4:23 ~ Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.

1 Samuel 16:7b ~ The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

Psalm 51:10 ~ Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Matthew 7:2 ~ For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 

 

 

Until Next Time,

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Welcome To My Monday Morning

(One of my favorite verses. I even wear it daily on a bracelet I had made.)
Romans 12:12 ~ Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

As I start my day, I am so blessed to look at this Thankful Tree on my kitchen table and see the leaves of thanks that my family has hung on the limbs. Now… When I first woke up this Monday morning, I wasn’t so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It takes me a few minutes or so to wake up.

Nevertheless …..
Truly a beautiful and refreshing sight to see gratitude in even the smallest things. Makes me want to leave it up all year long. Definitely a tradition that I plan to keep going for years to come.

Traditions are something that I’ve been mulling over for a little while now. For those who are new here, my Daddy died April 1st of this year. Yeah. Man.. Seems surreal to even type that sentence out. We are all still grieving and going through the motions and emotions. Don’t even know what Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years will look like this year.. Except.. Different.

For my mother, it’s even harder. As her daughter, it’s so hard to watch her suffer and being that God gifted me with highly sensitive empathy, I feel the emotions around me times 10. I am a fixer. A doer. Tell me what to do and I’ll try my best to make it better. But, this is something that I can’t make better. For her. For me. For my children or my siblings.

We are all different. Grieving different. And that is OK!

For those of you who have lost a parent or husband or wife, and if you were extremely close to that loved one, you know what I’m saying.

So back to the traditions. Honestly, I don’t know what it will look like. I just know that I want to bring glory to God even in the midst of grief. I know my family has been held in HIS arms for the past 7 months. There’s no doubt that my God has sustained us.

I don’t know how people who don’t know Jesus personally survive.

I know I’m not alone. I know we are not the first family to have been through these kind of hard times.
I know.

I ask you to pray for us. Especially momma. I also ask for ideas and advice on how you may have coped during the holidays while grieving. Seriously.. Share. It may help more people than you know.

Before I go, I want to say a special Thank You to those who have reached out when it wasn’t convenient. To those who have shared their hearts with me about their losses and offered prayer and support. Thank you to those who have encouraged me and been there through it all. You may not even realize that you did anything at all. But you have. Thank you for the prayers most of all.

We know where Daddy is.. So we have peace and comfort and hope. But… Anyone who knows the loss that we feel knows that the grief comes in waves and so if you see someone who is sad or has tears in their eyes or even who is laughing and smiling, know that there is NO TIME LIMIT for grief. There really is no end point honestly. Those who have told you that it ends or goes away.. They either had a different relationship with their lost loved one or they just don’t know what to say. It’s ok. Listen to your heart. I’m listening to mine.

Until Next Time,

Heather

P.S. I am not on social media right now. Sometimes you hear a still small voice during your morning quiet time and you know you must be obedient. I’ll only be on my photography page to post for clients as needed. If anyone needs to reach me you can comment here on the blog, text or call me, email me, or visit 😉 .

I also want to recommend a book that someone I highly admire wrote. I just know that we would be great friends if we lived in the same town! She speaks boldly. She writes her heart out. She doesn’t pussyfoot around. She is Lisa Whittle and the book is : I WANT GOD.
I received the book probably six weeks ago but GOD.. Yes, God knew when exactly I needed to read it. It challenged me and convicted me to seek HIM even more than I already do. Which led to breaking away from social media. My blog will still post to it but I will not be on to check comments, etc. If you want to comment.. Comment here. Love you all! ~HD

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Without JESUS

I’ve found that with grief comes moodiness. Some days I’m more irritable than others. Some parts of the day I’m “ok” and at other moments I’m not.

Not many people see those sides of my grief. Or if they do, I don’t even realize it.

Truth is, I don’t know when the low moments will occur. Anything can trigger them. They may last 5 minutes. They may last 5 hours.

I’m learning that it’s part of the process. Riding the waves of grief. Learning to swim in it. Getting better at holding my head above the waters so that I don’t drown in it.

If I drown in it then I’m not shining Jesus like I should.

As the saying goes: “My lifeguard walks on water.”

I’m so thankful for this TRUTH.

Without JESUS I’d surely drown in grief.

I don’t share these truths for pity. I share them so you’ll know that you are not alone. Everyone will experience their own losses.

We are all appointed once to die. Eternal life is a gift promised to all who believe and call upon The Lord to be saved.

Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. (John 6:47 NIV)

That’s where my hope rests.
That’s where my source of peace is found.
JESUS.

Without JESUS I’d have no hope.
Without JESUS I’d have no peace.

Grief is real. You never “get over” the loss of those you were closest to. You just don’t. Nor should you. They are a part of you. You just learn to swim in the ocean of grief. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes the water is choppy. You just learn to navigate through and soon it becomes your new normal.

With JESUS it is possible to smile through the tears and shine through the rain.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:8, 9 NIV)

Believe me. It’s true. But only WITH JESUS.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

Striving to SHINE,

Heather

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Time Doesn’t Stop For Anyone

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116:15 ESV)

When I knew my Daddy was definitely dying, (I believe he had coded 2 or 3 times by this point) as we all surrounded him in the hospital, I sang “Jesus Loves Me” and “Zippity Doo Dah” in his left ear. (He used to sing the last one loudly around the house when I was a little girl) .. Softly, as I rubbed his hair and gave him kisses and cried, because I wanted to comfort him and for him to not be afraid; because he was always my comforter. Even though rationally I knew that Daddy was already being held by Jesus.

After the 4th code blue, we knew we had to let him go. He was already gone. Shock was among the emotions I first felt, and denial and anger and overwhelming grief and heart ache.

Heart Ache. Literal aching.

Losing my hero and the first man I ever loved was a change that I wasn’t ready to make and would have never been ready to make. I learned some things about myself while watching my Daddy die. I learned that when choosing fight or flight mode in an awful tragedy that I stand and fight.. Like my daddy. That when someone I love most is in danger that I will stand and fight.

I learned that by God’s grace I can face loss and not be alone. That GOD truly supplies all of my needs. I learned that grief cannot be stopped at a certain time no matter what anyone says or what I’ve ever said to anyone about not staying stuck in a phase of grief. There are no time limits.. Every loss is different.

My daddy and I shared a special bond, and at age 40 I was still Daddy’s little girl. I felt like part of my heart went to heaven with him. Only someone who has had the exact relationship as I did with my Daddy or a similar one will understand.

My mother’s loss is different than mine. My brothers and sister and the children each are experiencing their own loss. Every person who’s life was touched by a loss experiences their own grief. Grief is different for everyone.

When it was over, I asked “is that it? Is he gone?” Just like that.. Everything changed. One breath to the next.

One of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I knew he was gone was: “what happens when your Daddy dies and you were Daddy’s little girl? Are you still Daddy’s little girl?”

And the answer to that is: “ABSOLUTELY”

Whatever any of us were before in relation to any loss, doesn’t get deleted like a file on a computer just because they no longer walk on this earth with us.

I say all of this to share with you that time doesn’t stop for anyone. You think you will have tomorrow to handle things or to say hello or to go visit. You think that because yesterday you had tomorrow that today you will too. Think again. Nobody is promised tomorrow.

But even though I never went more than a week without seeing my Daddy, I still wish I had visited more. Like one of my brother’s said: “no matter what, we would always want one more time.” One more visit, one more hug, one more “I Love You.”

It’s been 3 weeks, and if you see my family and we are smiling or laughing, it’s not because we are over it. No, we smile because we know Daddy is with Jesus. We smile because God is providing strength and peace because of HIS love and grace and mercy. Undeserved.. But freely given.

My family and I are truly grateful for the love shown to us by so many friends and family members. We are so rich in family and friends. Gifts from God. That peace.. That strength.. Gifts from God.

All men are destined to die once. For authentic believers, that death leads to eternal life. That’s where my hope lies.. That’s where my comfort rests. You, too, can have that hope and peace and assurance as well, if you don’t already. It comes from trusting in Jesus and following HIM.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, (Hebrews 9:27a ESV)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 ESV)

Until Next Time,

~ Heather