Happiness Doesn’t Happen

Do you ever wonder what it takes to just be happy?  Some days it can feel like such a struggle.

My friend Jenn Baxter asked me to write a guest post for her site, and it’s a topic I felt led to cover when sharing my story with her readers.  I hope you follow the story to her site to read the article and look around to see how Jenn is touching lives through her journey and online home.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you and for being a part of our online family here!
❤ Heather

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Heather, what more could make you happy?

It was a desperate question my mom asked as we sat on my bed looking in to a closet full of clothes, shoes and accessories.  “Not stuff, Mom.  Stuff can’t bring happiness.

I was only sixteen, but I had already concluded that trips to the mall, a brand new car and hosting parties with friends couldn’t fill the emptiness inside.  The void was far too vast for material, superficial things.  Happiness was a state I was battling to attain.

The battle began nine years earlier, when my world tragically changed on a country dirt road.

……….Read The Rest of The Story at LiveAFastLife.com

I’m Not Enough

About fifteen years ago, Brandon and I were volunteering as youth leaders. Our youth pastor approached me with a question, “Heather, would you take the service the week after next?” Take the service? As in preach?!?! I pretty much said, “no” right then and there. Actually, I’m sure it was probably more delicate with something along the lines of, “Oh I don’t think so.” But our youth pastor, who had been my own youth pastor, didn’t let me off the hook that easily. He instructed me to do something that I’m pretty sure he knew would change my answer—he told me to pray about it.

Well, enough said. You know what happened.

I ended up taking the service—although it was laden with disclaimers that I was just “sharing” and not “preaching.” Preaching just seemed like too big of shoes to fill.

When I think about my journey as a speaker, that moment was the starting line; the beginnings of the Lord revealing His calling to me step-by-step through each opportunity He’s provided.

While the Lord has given me a vision of the work He has for me as a speaker, I sometimes confront doubt rising up in my heart. Not doubting God, but doubting myself, doubting my ability to accomplish what He desires for me to do.

Have you ever done the same?

Here’s a few scenarios right off the top of my head that may cause you to question if you have what it takes:

  • starting a new job
  • becoming a parent—and then pretty much every day thereafter
  • leading a small group
  • starting a new business venture
  • applying for college
  • graduating from college
  • writing a book
  • starting a blog
  • planting a church

There’s countless more, and if I sat here for a bit longer I know I could fill at least a page, but for the sake of word count, we’ll move on.

I know someone else who questioned if they were enough.

Moses.

God called Moses to do a work and speak to the king of Egypt. But Moses didn’t want to and made all kinds of excuses. The Lord was so patient with him and from what I read, really gave him some things to beef him up to stand before the king. You know—just a few things like a shepherd’s staff turning into and out-of a snake, and his hand instantaneously being afflicted with and then delivered from a severe skin disorder, oh and last but not least, the thing with the Nile River water turning into blood. I’m saying if that doesn’t make you feel that you’re on a guaranteed winning side, I just don’t know what will.

But honestly, I get Moses.

A few weeks ago the Lord opened a big door of opportunity to me. I accepted the invitation to speak for an event, but then afterward questioned if I was enough. I shared my doubts with Brandon and he looked at me as if I had just fallen off a pumpkin truck. The guy really says a lot with his eyes. Probably why he doesn’t need to utilize as many words as I do.

Moses, on the other hand, was not good with words. And not even these words from the Lord in Exodus 4:11-12 could change his mind, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” God was so gracious to Moses and met him where he was. He’s so awesome like that. He meets us all right where we are. If you want to read on a little further you’ll see that God allowed Moses’ bro to speak for him—Aaron was good with words, plus it’s just pretty cool to see this portrait of family coming together for a big moment in biblical history like this!

Now that I’m in the planning stages of this big event, I’m getting pretty excited, mostly because I’ve reminded myself of God’s Word right there— Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say. He’s been so faithful each and every time from all those years ago when our youth pastor said, “take the service.”

So here’s where it stands—when we doubt, it’s probably because there’s some fear somewhere in it.

You know what Brooklyn and I just discussed recently? Identifying the antidote to fear. It’s faith. Each time we are confronted with fear, we fight it with faith.

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I don’t know about you, but when I think of evidence, I think of something I can see. But faith is the evidence of what we can’t see. So if you can’t see yourself, let’s say graduating from college, starting a new job, leading a ministry or maybe writing a book, but if the Lord has planted it in your heart, then you can stand firm in faith that it will be, even though nothing with your physical eyes tells you so. You walk by faith—the substance of things hoped for.

Last but not least, let’s close with this thought. Don’t feel the pressure to be enough. We were never meant to be. If we were, we wouldn’t need Jesus. When I consistently put myself out there in situations that make me question if I am enough, those situations are opportunities to remind how much I need Him.

II Corinthians 3:4-5 says, “And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”

I am enough in Him!!! And so are you!!!

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Illustrations of Favor for My Teenage Daughter

We take just a few moments each morning to read some Scriptures and pray. There is so much that flows from those prayers, but one of the things I pray over my children is for the Lord’s favor to be upon them. It’s a prayer that comes from Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

While I had no intention of boring you with the milestone celebrations of Brooklyn turning 16, and the Disney-themed party we had planned, or the car we surprised her with, the events of today require a modification to those intentions. Please allow me to share with you today’s events and allow the Lord to shine His flashlight upon the little things He works in and through.

I made the appointment for Brooklyn to take her driving test three weeks ago. I got online, paid, gathered all the documentation and eagerly awaited the day, as I knew it would be one she’d never forget. Well. I was right about one thing. It’s a day she’ll never forget.

We arrived to the Department of Safety for her 9am appointment. Brooklyn approached the counter with her folder of documents. Although she was anxious about the test, she cool and calmly retrieved the required papers from the folder laying them out for the agent. Then a statement, “I’m going to need your affidavit from the completion of your driver’s education course.”

Brooklyn glanced at me. I uncovered the paper. So I thought. “No Ma’am. That’s the affidavit for enrollment. We need the affidavit for completion.” I was a little concerned. Okay, on the inside I was really concerned, but before I allowed myself to get worked up over attaining Worst Mom of the Year, I asked if I could make a quick phone call and have the document faxed over; never minding the fact that I was fairly certain it wouldn’t be that easy.

I called Triple A where Brooklyn is enrolled for the Parent-Taught course. That phone call confirmed that I needed to arrange for Brooklyn to take the post-test after completing her 55 hours of behind-the-wheel training. Obviously, this is what I did not do. I asked if there was any way we could get the test taken today.

Here’s FAVOR #1—the Triple A lady said if we could come right then she could get us in.

Awesome.

And done.

On our way.

Optimistically thinking it’s all gonna pan out, I approach the counter and inform the agent of the mishap. I ask if there is any way we could return after obtaining the form. She apologizes and tells us their appointments are all taken for the day. I press, a little, “Is there any possibility you may have a cancellation or a no show?” “No, Ma’am, people don’t cancel their appointments.” Practically begging for a glimmer of hope I asked if we could walk-in and wait. No hope for that either. She said we could come back in the morning at 7 and wait, but I explained that I had to work tomorrow and asked yet one more question, “Are there ANY other testing facilities that we may be able to get into today?” She compassionately shook her head and said, “No.”

Not to be deterred, we loaded up to head to the Triple A office. Brooklyn had a lot of questions and I immediately fessed up to completely dropping the ball. I hadn’t looked at the one letter with THAT information for over six months. I missed it. Completely missed it and I apologized and apologized acknowledging that she’d never forget this day for the rest of her life. But I also said, “We may not get you in for a driving test today, but we’re certainly gonna try.”

A few Google searches. A couple phone calls. And then….. a text to a friend and we found a place!

I called and explained the situation.

The testing center lady asked, “What time could you be here?” I told her we could be there by 10:30 but that we could come any time today. She said, “Let me look and see what I have.” She got back on the phone.

Here’s FAVOR #2—“I only have a 10:30 open so if you can make it we can do it then.

Awesome.

And done.

We’ll be there.

We arrive to Triple A and Brooklyn is handed a 50-question test. Brooklyn forever and always has needed to know the plans, and when things don’t go as planned she has no choice but to go with it, but she certainly doesn’t like. It rattles her. Well. Today she was rattled on the inside but rolling with it. I was so proud of seeing her allow the situation to stretch her beyond her personality. She hadn’t looked at the driving manual since she took her written test for her permit, so she was not at all refreshed like she’d have preferred.

The clock was ticking away. She had 30 minutes if we were going to make the driving test appointment; however, as she headed off to take the written post-test I heard myself say, “No worries. Take your time.” Time?! We didn’t have any time! Crazy what comes out of my mouth when it’s not at all what I’m thinking. The power of the Holy Spirit at work right there speaking the words of calmness Brooklyn needed to hear.

The Triple A agent graded her test and called her over to the desk. I hung back for a bit slowly gathering my things to join her. The lady said, “You need a 70% to pass. You got a 68%.” Brooklyn said she thought the floodgate of tears were about to open and her face must’ve shown it, because the lady quickly shook her hand and said, “But it’s alright. You changed the answer on two of them that you had right so I gave you credit for those.” Can we sing it together? FAVOR #3!!!!

To sum up this story, we made it to the testing center with two minutes to spare. Brooklyn had the sweetest ever driving examiner. And Brooklyn passed!!!! Yay!!!!

But let me tell you a few of our take-aways that I pray are encouraging to you.

First of all, there’s this—the Lord compensates where we lack. This mishap was completely my fault. But God provided. He opened the doors we needed opening and it all panned out. Even when we parents can’t be all and do all, God’s got it!

Second—don’t give up. If there wasn’t a decent combination of optimism and bull-dog in me I don’t think we’d have discovered that it would’ve even been possible for it to all work out today. Yes, she would’ve gotten to test another day, but because of the fortitude in trying, Brooklyn got to see how things can still turn out to be a “yes” when someone has already said “no” (although again, let me add how compassionately and nice the DPS agent said it).

Third— “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT. Brooklyn was convinced that this was the Lord re-directing us to sweet Jennifer, the best driving examiner ever! So thankful He directs our steps!

Fourth— God is God over all our challenges. Today we had an undesirable situation, and while it doesn’t appear like a big deal, cause it the grand scheme of life it’s really not, it was still something of great importance to Brooklyn and God worked on her behalf. I hope Brooklyn remembers moments like these and that when she is an adult she has the experiences to know that the first person to turn to is the Father over all things. Sometimes we feel we need to have a qualifying need—job loss, rocky marriage, cancer, rebellious child, death of a loved one—to ask the Lord’s involvement, but God cares about it all, big and small. He wants to walk with us. Whether that’s into the driving center or the treatment center, whether that’s visiting a mechanic’s garage or a counselor’s couch, whether that’s at the bank or the graveside. He wants to walk it with us. Every single day.

Thanking the Lord for His favor!

P.S. If you see this car…..please be kind.  She’s a brand new driver 😊❤


 

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Enduring Love

When we imagine a picture of endurance we may envision a mountain climber or a triathlete. Those events when one must press-in with extreme efforts. Events in which there’s not an option to stop and take a break. A picture of endurance is illustrated when facing something that causes pain, or suffering, something that is a hardship.

The picture of endurance in my mind is the face of my friend who completed her last radiation yesterday. She endured a double mastectomy, chemo and radiation. She has endured a disease while raising her children and continuing her work caring for others as a nurse. She endured with the truest mark of courage– her gorgeous smile.

I picture our sweet, most often very tiny, NICU babies who endure arterial sticks, chest tubes, intubations, and lumbar punctures. And their parents, who endure the process with feelings of helplessness, wanting desperately to take their place.

I picture family members enduring grief from the death of a loved-one, individuals enduring the loss of their own physical capability, parents enduring the heartache of a rebellious child.

My own memories take me back to being seven. I learned early how to grit my teeth, enduring bandage changes that often required ripping, enduring physical therapy resulting in scars tearing, and enduring the unknown striving to walk again after those scary days when I couldn’t even wiggle my toes.

Picturing the unpleasant and the difficult are natural images when considering endurance. However, do you ever think about love?

We’ve been in the “love” season. There are dinner dates and roses, chocolates and jewelry. Images of happiness, joy, and romancing stir. But endurance? That sounds more like a workout, more like physical training, or a hardship, not love.

Let’s take a look at this very popular verse in the ESV and NLT:

I Corinthians 13:7

ESV- Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

NLT- Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love is the muscle to our workout. Love is the courage to our battle. Love is the strength to our suffering. Love doesn’t just get us through the bumps in the road; love gets us through the hardships, the storms, the challenges. Love gets us through all things, in every circumstance.

Those relationships that have endured reflect a beautiful picture of love.

And that’s what brings me to the picture I’m closing with. Our long-time precious friend and family photographer, Mallory captured this moment last fall.

It may appear as a simple pose, but those arms wrapped around me are our testimony to love’s endurance.

Love endured early before we were even married when someone made the suggestion to Brandon that he would eventually feel unfilled as a husband because of my scarred body. Love continued with endurance through the changes to our relationship with each little miracle we welcomed into the world. Love endured through our goals of bachelor degrees in engineering and nursing. Love has endured through imperfections of our flesh; baggage, insecurities, hang-ups, shortcomings, and disagreements.

There have been bumps in the road. There have, quite honestly, been complete washouts. There have been disappointments. But our love didn’t merely sound like a sweet story or a convenient option, no it was created. The Lord in all His goodness, in all His holiness, in His perfection took two people without anything to offer and He gave us a gift that He made for us in eternity—a love that’s been fierce, secure, soft, delicate, unique and constant.

His love endured all for all of us to live this life with the power of enduring love.

I will be yours, you will be mine, together in eternity. Our hearts of love will be entwined together in eternity. Forever in eternity.”

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A Name Given

I remember the first time I saw my name in print. It was the spring of 1999 just before our June 19th wedding, and it was on a hotel reservation that had come in the mail for our road-trip honeymoon. Since we weren’t old enough to have the option of renting a car, we decided we probably shouldn’t fly anywhere, so we drove.  Oh the challenges for those married young.

When I got that envelope in the mail I remember just staring at that name. Heather Meadows. That was going to be me. I didn’t identify with the name. I had spent eighteen years as Heather Cochrane, but I was soon to take on a new name. A name given to me by my husband, and one I’ve spent the last sixteen identified by.

Over the years I received occasional comments about it. For instance, one was when we had our family accounting business. I called the IRS for an audit on one of our accounts. I gave all the necessary information along with my name and the agent said, “Wasn’t your mom creative.” I was taken aback because my Mom and I shared the same office, prompting my mind to consider that maybe the agent had spoke to her regarding the account, but still wondering how in the world the agent knew we were related. Something clicked quickly, and I amusingly informed the agent that “Meadows” was my married name.

That scenario has happened more than once. It’s where I came up with saying, “Heather Meadows. Heather like a flower. Meadows like a field.” It is a nice fit. And sweeter still—it was given to me!

I’ve been so proud to carry my husband’s name and that of his family’s. I remember shortly after we got married having this discussion about how Christ gives us His name when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior—we become Christians, carrying His name and representing Him to others. And Jesus paid it all to give us His name. It is truly a gift— given!

We speak to our children about their names too. We teach them that their name is a reflection of their family, and that their actions should honor the name which has been given to them. Just as we steward those things the Lord has entrusted to us, our time, our money, our home, our vehicles; we must steward the name He has given us.

And it is this name I have carried the last sixteen years, the name I have identified myself with that I slowly become detached from in the process of changing the website name.

Why change the name of our website?

To be completely transparent, the answer is, I’m not completely sure.

Brandon and I knew God was stirring change. We knew this tragic story of loss and injury had to be shared. The Lord has given us enough opportunities to experience how He can use it for others. I know He spared my life for far more than my own fulfillment of it. What He accomplished on that dirt road back in 1988, and in those operating rooms and in that hospital bed and in those therapy sessions was for His glory. And it must be shared.

Our ongoing online development revealed to us that most of the searches going to Heather’s Blessed JouRNey were simply searches for Heather Meadows. So it seemed obvious to us that if we were going to change it, we’d just change it to my name. Make it “easy peasy” for visitors to find us and to share our testimony.

Well. Actually. It would have been just that…simple. In the process of trying to obtain heathermeadows.com, I became further and further removed from my own name. This was never about me to begin with. However, being real, it seems natural to say, “yes, that’s me!” or raise a hand, when your name is called. But not in this story. No. I was four months asking to obtain a domain of my own name. I was ten thousand dollars removed from my own name.

“By definition, a God-ordained dream will always be beyond your ability and beyond your resources. But that is how God gets the glory.” Mark Batterson, The Grave Robber

I’m so thankful this was complicated. I’m so thankful it wasn’t a simple process. What would we have missed had it been?

We would have missed growing in trust and obedience. We would have missed an experience to be totally wowed and impressed by His hand at work in the smallest details. We would have missed a gift given. We would have missed an opportunity to build a friendship, visit a new place and we would have missed a chance to share our story.  Additionally, we would have missed the anticipation of what He wants to do through what He’s already done.

Because it wasn’t simple, we now get to meet the sweet couple who generously gave us our new online home, Joel and Lori Pacheco. In one week we will be meeting them face to face, hugging their necks, sharing some meals, and speaking at their church.  We’re getting far more than a domain name– that would have been too simple!

Mark Batterson writes in The Grave Robber, “And when you experience a miracle, the way you steward it is by believing God for even bigger and better miracles.”

Yes. My name is Heather Meadows and I’m a steward. I’m stewarding some miracles. From that seven year-old little girl, to her married name, to the website she shares it at. All beyond my abilities. All for God’s glory!

I pray that through this gift given to me, the Lord will pass on many more gifts.  It is my hope to give a little something to you in each visit.  The baby nurse in me administers little doses of what little babies need.  May you receive the perfect portion of encouragement, inspiration, joy, and strength, through Him who provides for all our needs.

Isaiah 12:4 ESV

And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,

call upon His name,

make known His deeds among the peoples,

proclaim that His name is exalted.

*Still to come– a picture with Joel and Lori!

*click heathermeadows.com to tour the new site

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personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com