On the Hunt to Find Value, Importance & Uniqueness

I don’t know much about paintings. To cut to the chase, I’m not much into “The Arts.” I love the performing arts, only when it includes some type of musical, and if it’s a Disney musical it’s even better. I’m not into classical music, although I faked it for several years during my childhood because Aunt Donna listened to it and I was giving my best to be just like her. I’m lacking on classical novels, because reading typically only holds my interest if I get some life application out of it. But back to paintings. I wouldn’t recognize a Van Gogh or Monet if my life depended on it. I do know, however, that the number of paintings produced is one factor that determines its value.

Which brings me to a thought. And a question. Or maybe a few questions.

This world is populated with people. So how does one feel unique, valuable and important? Do we sometimes feel that we’re just another face in the crowd? How often do we consider that we’re one-of-a-kind?

Gavin got this post rolling a few months ago after a physical therapy screening he had.

Here’s the back-story:

Gavin has an in-toe walking pattern, what some refer to as pigeon-toed. We were first concerned with the issue when he was two. We asked his pediatrician about it at his well-child check-up that year. The determination was that it was due to internal hip rotation. Made sense. We were informed that it’d be more exaggerated when he was tired, but that it wouldn’t keep him from his ability to run or potentially one-day play sports.

I cannot even tell you how much we love our pediatrician. This doctor has not only cared for all four of our children, but even provided care to me in my teen years, and was a part of Brandon’s and my big day, attending our wedding! This isn’t just a physician to us. This is a very special individual. With that in mind, we didn’t take it lightly to get a second opinion. But let me say, if a doctor is offended for you to get a second opinion, maybe it’s not the right doctor for you. I knew ours would completely understand, so we saw a pediatric orthopedic specialist who took x-rays, did a physical assessment and returned the same determination. So we moved on with the thought that this was just the way God made Gavin.

Fast-forward four years. We signed Gavin up to play soccer when he was six. He hated it. We found out it was because of the running.

The following summer Jaron would put Gavin in as his goalie when Jaron practiced soccer at home. What a sweet big brother, potentially kicking soccer balls right at the baby brother. No slack around here. 😂

After a summer of being Jaron’s goalie, Gavin wanted to sign-up for soccer again. No surprise—as a goalie!

It was a better fit for him. However, I was concerned when he told me he wanted to sign-up for basketball. Despite giving him the information on the required running in basketball, he still wanted to play, so we signed him up.

A short time later, I was visiting with our physical therapist at work. Many don’t realize that premature babies need physical therapy and it starts early in their life. So here we were, both working on this baby, just visiting. I mentioned Gavin’s history and my doubts over our basketball-season-sign-up decision for him. She replied with, “He may just need inserts.” Inserts? She told me to call the pediatric physical therapy department and ask to make an appointment for a screening. So I did.

I took Gavin for his screening over Christmas break and it was quickly determined that inserts would be really beneficial for him. Through much more detailed explanation, I was also informed that it’s typically hard to make such a determination until after the age of three or four.

This gets us up to the topic here—feeling unique, important and valuable.

When our physical therapist told Gavin she was going to make him shoe inserts, he told her that wouldn’t be necessary because he could just get some at Wal-Mart.

I explained to Gavin that no one on the entire planet had a foot just like his, and that these inserts would be specially-made just for his foot.

It took some convincing but he started to understand his uniqueness—from the top of his head all the way to his little piggies.

Doesn’t seem so profound to us, does it? 

Or does it?
I believe we have a lot of people on this earth that don’t quite understand how unique, how valuable and how important they are.

In a song by Natalie Grant she sings, “and you can’t love, if you don’t love yourself.” Well, I believe that pertains to more than love. If we don’t understand how unique, important and valuable we are, it’s difficult to be able to identify how unique, important and valuable others are, which may be the reason why people treat each other so crummy at times. And on the other hand, it may be the reason why people allow others to treat them so crummy.

For us to live a life of fulfillment, we must see our value.

A friend of mine, Tracy Robbins, illustrates this so powerfully in one of her messages. She explained that the MSRP is the value the manufacturer has placed on an item, suggesting how much should be paid for the item. Well, that’s great if you’re studying economics I suppose, but she brought it home in a way I won’t forget. After that bit of information, she says, “And this is how much God says you are worth,” as an image comes on the screen of Jesus Christ, beaten and bloody, with a crown of thorns on his head, hanging on a cross.

God says we are valuable, so valuable that He sent His one and only Son.

It gives much meaning to Ephesians 2:10 that says in the NKJV, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

I guess that’s why I don’t get too carried away with designer stuff, or even gaining knowledge over the Van Goghs and Monets. The Word tells me I am God’s workmanship. In the NLT, it says I’m His “masterpiece.” Masterpiece!!! As in “a work of outstanding artistry!” I am outstanding artistry! Whether others see me as such or not, whether someone would place value on what I have to offer or not, whether I perform to my own level of expectation or not; I am God’s masterpiece. It’s liberating and reassuring.

YOU are God’s masterpiece.

I’m saying your foot isn’t like anyone else. So let’s get out of our Wal-Mart-Shoe-Insert mentality and realize how unique He created us!

In the movie The Help, Abileen spoke words of truth into little Mae as she said, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.”

Let’s look in the mirror, repeat those words, and remember we are custom-made by God and for God. One-of-a-kind. Unique. Valuable. Important.

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About the video–
the day of Gavin’s casting for his shoe inserts, he was confused asking, “you mean they’re going to put a cast on me?” I said, “No. It’s just what they call it when they make a mold of your foot.” He questioned, “You mean mold is going to grow on my foot?!?!” Obviously I was at a loss for words to effectively explain the process, so like any parent in 2017, I said, “Let’s watch a YouTube video.” However, I could not find one video that was consistent with what we would be doing that day. So I thought, “I need to video this so other kids will know what to expect.” I did just that. But after taking time to assemble the video and publishing it, I found several others that would have been perfect. So I’m going to take this as something we were meant to do, hoping it is still useful for someone.  Here is Gavin’s journey through the casting and fitting of his new shoe inserts!

 

Guest Post: A Thankful Heart

Guest Post: A Thankful Heart

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*a special post from a special guest*
Hi there! My name is Courtney. I’m a daughter, sister, wife, and mother of two. Most people know my most defining role of the past three years is as a “heart mom,” a mom fighting the world of congenital heart defects while encouraging her brave three year old in his fight against Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

Caysen was born in 2013 after a pregnancy that went smoothly until about 33 weeks. I began having health problems uncharacteristic to my norm, and after MRIs, spinal taps, extensive blood work and multiple specialists; it was determined I had optic neuritis. My body was attacking my optic nerves and taking my vision. After receiving my diagnosis, my mom turned to me and said “there’s something special about this baby”. It was literally attack after attack, and ironically we had NO idea of his heart defect until after birth. What foreshadowing that sentence had!

Caysen was born “healthy” and we took him home thinking our troubles were behind us. After 15 hours at home he began panting, and it was worrisome. We rushed him back to the hospital where I will never forget the NICU team coming out to us, shaking their heads and barely able to make eye contact with us as his situation was so grim. He was crashing and during the crash he had brain bleeds, liver damage, his lungs were sick, and his kidneys took a hit. This is where we learned of his diagnosis and that it was incompatible with life.14528176_10103802597471152_38629298_n

You see, HLHS essentially means half a heart. The three stages of surgery for it are called “palliative care”. If he stabilized, he could potentially sit for the surgeries and have a shot at living a good twenty years or so with half a heart and then potentially need a transplant. There of course are many risks, but the other option was to let him pass.

It is here where we met some of the most encouraging nurses (Heather included!), and where we met doctors with such strong faith and hope in God that they would grab our hands and pray with us over his little incubator all while machines clicked and whirred keeping him alive and allowing him to heal and hopefully sit for his first surgery.

We have walked a long and grueling path over the past few years. Initially we were told Caysen wouldn’t make it. God said otherwise. He had his first surgery, then we had a problem with his patched up stents in his heart at five months old. He crashed again. We were told the pump of his heart wasn’t good. They told us then we would need a transplant. Then our cardiologist made a last ditch effort in the cath lab doing an intervention procedure and relaxed the heart. Again, God said otherwise.14518237_10103802597436222_1384129447_n

After a grueling third open heart surgery and recovery, complications have now led to us being listed on the heart transplant list.  We continue to recognize God’s hand in everything and His perfect timing. God has the ultimate plans and holds our future.  He has shown it time and time again!

Throughout our entire journey we as a family have learned so much about our faith in God. Just when you think you can’t take anymore, you’re beaten down from the journey and utterly exhausted – you will find God will give you exactly what you need to carry on. You may not know how, but when you least expect it God provides the way. We’ve learned so much about God’s timing versus our timing, and how His timing doesn’t always make sense but when we look back you can see how that timing saved us from another complication or difficulty. God is never late.14569204_10103802597456182_879538776_n

We have learned when the pain is just too much to bear, check your perspective. The greatest lessons often come during life’s most challenging trials. What can you walk away with? Better perspective? Strength? A reminder to take things one day at a time? To be present in each moment, no matter where you are – even if living in a hospital away from your family – because we aren’t promised anything and it’s a blessing to still have your child? Find the good. Find the joy. Anne Lamott once said, “joy is the best makeup”. Putting a smile on your face can change the whole outcome of your day. On the bad days you might have to look exceptionally hard to find the joy, but choose joy.

Praising God through the storm is difficult, but such an intense form of worship. When the world is crumbling around you, still praising Him and acknowledging His goodness keeps your mind and heart on track. It allows you to lean into Him in the valleys. If you can do this, the view from the mountaintop will be that much sweeter.

I would be honored if you felt led to follow and pray for Caysen’s journey as we wait for a new heart. We can be found at Caysen’s Heart Updates on Facebook. But most importantly I want to encourage you all today. Everyone has pain and suffering and turmoil, it’s impossible to escape in this broken world. It’s up to you how you choose to respond to it. I, for one, couldn’t have made it this far without my hope in God and our future promises! Such a comfort to know He has this all figured out and a beautiful eternity is the end result!

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Update:
When I contacted Courtney back on September 22nd, I could’ve never anticipated what would transpire by the time this post was composed and published.   When she sent it back to me, I knew it was perfect, but not the right time. So like all our posts, I waited for the Lord to nudge me when to share it. Allow me to share what occurred in the meantime….

The call came on October 13th. Caysen received his new heart in the early morning hours of October 14th. He came home with his family on November 13th. After a lifetime in the hospital, going home was a process. Courtney said, “Caysen spent the ride home telling us he didn’t want to go home. I think he was confused as he just didn’t feel like he lived with us anymore. When we told him Daddy would mow – his attitude changed completely and he was more than excited.”

I asked Courtney if she knew how many days of Caysen’s life have been spent in the hospital. She answered, “Hard to say. This stay was our longest at 184 days. Before that it was 86. Our NICU stay was 72. We had another at least 60 days inpatient between that too, and that might be minimizing.”

This little baby and his family touched my heart over three years ago. The optimism and strength at work in their life is evidence of their relationship with the Lord, their unwavering faith and trust in Him. From the earliest days of their hospital stays, Caysen’s room was filled with praise and worship music. It can be difficult to find something to praise the Lord for when nothing seems right, when your baby is in critical condition facing more unknown than known. But we don’t praise and worship because of our circumstances, we praise and worship for WHO GOD IS. We don’t let our circumstance define God. We let God define the circumstance. And we’ve had the blessing of seeing that demonstrated in The Allen Family.

I pray Caysen’s story brings joy to your holiday. I pray you are encouraged to see God’s hand at work in the trials. I pray your heart overflows with gratitude. And I pray this precious boy inspires you to enlist as an organ, eye and tissue donor. May Caysen’s journey in getting his new heart bless your heart this Thanksgiving.

“After transplant our life quality has changed SO MUCH. He is happy and chatty and interacts with people…….So thankful for life outside of a hospital. For God bringing us a happy heart to allow us more time with Caysen.”- Courtney Allen

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November 13th 2016 ~ The Allen Family Home Together

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The Other Side of Failing

When my friend Sara and I were revamping the website from heathersblessedjourney.com to heathermeadows.com we also reworked the tag line.

Changing the name of the website was going to lose the emphasis placed on the “RN” in jouRNey, but it was still my hope to reflect my work as a nurse somewhere in the new tag line.

We met the goal with two words: “little doses.” It’s a subtle hint most may not even see.   But here’s the story behind it. As a NICU nurse, the amount of medication I administer to my tiny, tiny patients is quite small. Too much is harmful, but those itty-bitty doses achieve great things in their bodies.

That is what I wanted this place to be. A place where you can pop in for a few minutes and grab a little dose of something good. My heartbeat was to inject small amounts of inspiration, joy, strength and encouragement from my life moments into yours.

This last week I received more than a “little dose” from a life moment with my daughter.

Let me give a short back-story.

There was a mother and daughter who had a beautiful relationship. But then, something changed. It started with an “H” and ended with “ormones”! It was NOT pretty! This change brought out the worst, most ugly, dark sides of both the mother and daughter. If it had been a marriage, I’m most certain divorce court would have been considered, but parent/child relationships face the good, the bad and the ugly and sometimes have to just hang on for dear life.

Yes. That’s our story. That’s Brooklyn and me. I’ll share more about the season in the book I’m writing, but for now, I want to share with you one of the scriptures I stood on in those dark moments.

Galatians 6:9 NLT So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

I’m not proclaiming there won’t be any more bumps in the road, but I am sharing that when everything hit the fan, when doors were slamming, drinks were tossing, and voices yelling, I’d stand on this scripture as if on a mountain and quote it at the top of my lungs. We got tired. We were wore out. We got discouraged. We were disheartened, disappointed and dismayed at times, but—we would not give up.

“…..a harvest of blessing IF we don’t give up.”

The day the Lord so faithfully brought our baby girl into this world, He had every intention of her life being a blessing. Not just for her parents, but for herself and for Him. We weren’t giving up on that.

And what a blessing she was to me this last week. Watching Galatians 6:9 at work in her own personal life injected an incredibly special dose of inspiration, joy, strength and encouragement into my heart.

Brooklyn’s half birthday fell on Sunday, September 4th. Labor Day on Monday pushed Brooklyn back in being able to test for her driver’s permit to Tuesday. She wanted to be the first in line when they opened. We got up on Tuesday at 5am, left the house at 6am and pulled in the parking lot at 6:33am to line up for the 7am opening. Brooklyn was seventh in line.

I stood, waiting excitedly for her to complete her test knowing that she’d get her paper signed and off to the tag agency we’d go for her permit. Well, she didn’t pass.

A bit taken aback, she declared that we aren’t the type of people who quit in the face of failure and that she wanted to try again the next day. Super proud parent moment.

So. There you have it. We got up Wednesday morning, a smidge bit earlier at 4:30am, left the house at 5:30am, and we arrived an hour before opening, putting us third in line. We checked in and the agent asked Brooklyn, “Did they tell you about the skip button?” Brooklyn said, “No.” The agent informed, “If you don’t know the answer to a question, you can hit ‘skip’. If it’s a question you need it will come back around, but it may not come back at all.” Awesome!

I took a seat over by the door on the bench. Brooklyn completed the test and walked around the corner. I whispered, “How’d it go?” She shook her head. I responded quietly and compassionately, “What?”

We’re doing a parent-taught driving course, so I knew she knew the information to pass the test. We got in the car and before I could ask a question the floodgates opened. Whoa! Emotion! Hold the phone!

In borderline hysteria she proceeded to express all the inadequacies attached to that test. I was sifting through my mental rolodex of encouraging words, when she revealed, “And when I checked back in with the lady, she asked me why I didn’t skip any of the questions but I just thought I could answer them without having to!!!”

“Wait. What?” I couldn’t believe she didn’t take the lady’s advice and skip the questions. Not one!   This shifted our conversation from the topic of intellect to the issue of pride. Was she too prideful to humble herself in admitting that she possibly didn’t have all the answers to every question? Hmm.

The girl made it back before school started and I anticipated the possibility that she may just want to push it off for a few days to review. Maybe she’d want to go ahead and miss school for an afternoon testing time. Some of us just can’t think when the sun is barely up.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t surprised when I picked her up from school and she decided to go back on Thursday, for the third day in a row, before the crack of dawn to try again. Nope. I wasn’t shocked. Galatians 6:9 was at work within her. She was gonna reap a blessing cause she wasn’t gonna give up!

So up we were again, in the dark of the morning, headed in for round three reviewing the blessing of the “skip” button! In the true ironies of life, I got pulled over for doing around or about 75 in a 65. Let me tell you about grace. The Lord must have sprinkled our car with the pixie dust of His favor because that officer gave me a warning on no account of my own. Although I’m a talker, I don’t say too much when flashing lights, a uniform and handcuffs accompany the individual. What a story for Brooklyn to tell her kids one day.

Brooklyn checked in, was humble, raw and transparent with the agent and confirmed what she needed to know to approach this test. “Ma’am, this is my third time here.” (Which honestly, the lady already knew. By this point we felt maybe we should add the two Department of Public Safety agents to our Christmas card list). Brooklyn expressed her understanding of the skip button wanting to make sure it would not penalize her for the number of times she hit it. Then Brooklyn went over to take her test. At this point I headed out to the car, where she and I had agreed to meet.

I sat in the car with a small view of Brooklyn standing at the voting-booth-style computer. I prayed for her. “Lord, You created her innermost being. You stitched her together. I pray You speak Your peace, calmness and confidence from the top of her head to the sole of her feet. Let her know You have equipped her for success. Give her assurance.” And on and on I prayed.

I watched as she walked back over to the lady, had an exchange that I couldn’t see and proceeded out to the car. I got out of the car and there she did it—a thumbs up! I may have gotten overly excited. Oh, who am I kidding?! I totally got overly excited and she and I hugged and jumped like giddy girls in the parking lot of the DPS!

Brooklyn said that when she went back to the agent to get her paper signed, the lady exclaimed, for all to hear, “You passed!!!” And she only skipped two questions, not missing any! The agent was so happy for Brooklyn!

“…..a harvest of blessing IF we don’t give up.”

I know Brooklyn contemplated canning the whole idea. I know because in her despair of failing the second time she expressed those very thoughts. But we all know that’s not even a logical option. She’d have to pass it at some point in her life.

The question for us to consider though is: How many blessings have we missed out on because we gave up?

I can’t recall how many times I’ve said, “Just forget it!” or “I’m done!” or “I quit!” Sometimes our emotions make us completely illogical. Exactly the reason we don’t make important decisions when we’re super emotional. In those times, this Voice inside me says, “Heather, don’t give up. I have good things in store for you. Believe. Persevere. Press in.”

The Lord whispers that truth to all of us. Our challenges may look a little different but we’ve all got them, and there is a blessing tucked inside each and every one we overcome!

Thank you for spending some time allowing me to share this life moment with you! Please take it for the little dose of inspiration, joy, strength and encouragement it has tucked into it.

Bless you!

*side note- thankful my girl wanted me to share this story for whomever it could encourage.

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Held On for Sweet Success!!!!

 

The Good Things

This week we had the opportunity to sit in our kitchen and visit with some fine folks from a local television show. After the microphone was tucked away, the camera packed up and the vehicle pulled out of the driveway, I got to thinking about how God doesn’t just open doors, He opens them in ways we often don’t even anticipate.

The Explore Tulsa show door opened because of a thank you note. Over the summer I had written a thank you note to Video Revolution. They’re people who not only know cutting edge electronics, but they have heart too. Almost a year ago, Brandon shared with them how the Lord was calling us to share our story, and our need to video the events. They captured the vision and met the need. The least I could do was write a thank you note. Well, who would’ve known Video Revolution sponsors the Explore Tulsa show? That one note led to an email, a phone call, an interview, and soon a segment to air covering our story. God is so creative.

It’s a statement I find myself repeating over and over again. The creative plans of God are far above what we can think or imagine. I certainly would’ve never imagined how He would take such tragedy, loss and sadness and bring life, joy and abundance out of it.

One of my favorite, slightly embarrassing, but really funny stories about God’s creative plans goes back five years ago. I was in my first semester of nursing school at OU. I was in the 3pm-11pm clinical group. We had two back-to-back clinical days each week. The patient I was assigned to on day one was going into surgery the next day. As a student I desired the chance to observe the surgery. When the elderly patient asked me if I would be there, it gave me the motivation I needed to inquire of the possibility.

The next day, we’ll call surgery day, was the day the nursing students were assigned to be working a health fair for the Tulsa Run registrants. It was a late night before, and an early morning start. That may not sound like pertinent information, but it explains why I never took the time to eat. I stayed at the health fair until my clinical instructor gave me the green light to leave a little early, making it to the hospital for the patient’s surgery.

I checked in at the OR where I was escorted to change out of my nursing student scrubs and into surgical scrubs. Afterwards, a nurse accompanied me to the OR where I was encouraged to find a place out of the way, and not to draw any attention, or ask any questions, because the surgeon didn’t like students. Wow! Talk about intimidating. But I found a corner, where I assumed I’d be able to see, and I planned to be inconspicuous.

Shortly thereafter, the door swung open and a man walked right up to me and asked, “Are you the student?” I said, “Yes, I am.” Then another question, “Do you want to see something you’ll never see again in your life?” I said, “Absolutely.”

I walked with him over to view an X-Ray as he explained to me that the patient had an amyand hernia. Then this surgeon, who supposedly didn’t even like students asked, “do you want to scrub in?” WHAT?!?! No. That’s what I said on the inside, but allow me to use quotations so you’ll realize how composed I was on the outside. “What does that entail?” He said, “Come on. I’ll show ya.”

So over we went to scrub in. As I washed and washed, up to my elbows, Dr. Johnson inquired of my burn injury. The questions, “how were you injured?” and “where did you receive your care?” revealed that Dr. Johnson not only knew my surgeons, but remembered my case. It was a neat moment to say the least.

Do you feel all the nice warm fuzzies? Hang on to those. It gets better.

There I was all scrubbed in, donning the sterile gloves and sterile gown, we moseyed up to the surgical field. Dr. Johnson instructed me to put my hands right up there by his. The surgery started, the incision was made and the cauterizing began. Now is the time I should remind you I hadn’t eaten that day. As the fat was cauterized the smell overwhelmed me. I remember the voice of Ms. BDub (our nickname for our clinical instructor) ringing in my head, “Don’t let anyone take away your opportunity to learn.” I was telling myself to pull it together, not wanting to throw the opportunity out the window from my own doing.

I’ve never completely passed out, but I was on my way that day. My head was sooo light. I was trying so very hard to hold it together. I believe I took a step back, keeping my hands in position on the sterile field, I then leaned over about to go down. Dr. Johnson yelled, “Grab her.” Suddenly, someone’s arms were around my waste and everyone was asking, “what’s her name,” “what’s her name?” I answered in a barely-with-it slur, “Heeeaaattthhherrrr.”

Oh dear. There was a whole need to scrub back in. Not for me. No, they found me a little stool to sit on for the duration of the surgery. Nevertheless, I was shocked when Dr. Johnson invited me in for the next case. It was nothing I could’ve ever anticipated. It was a skin graft on a burn patient.

What an incredible moment seeing for the first time what I had experienced so many, many times before. It was surreal. In my spirit I prayed for the patient, anticipating his pain upon awakening for him. Bless his heart. Skin grafts are not pleasant.

Couldn’t get much more incredible than that could it? One wouldn’t think. But with God life holds incredible moments when we least expect them.

A few weeks later I got a call from the marketing team at Hillcrest, the hospital I had received my burn care and the same hospital I was then doing my clinicals at, over twenty years later.

Dr. Johnson had suggested me for a marketing campaign they were launching.

Who would’ve ever thought? The girl who got excused early from community nursing hours to attend a surgery where the surgeon had a reputation of not even liking students, to getting an invitation to scrub in and practically blowing it by nearly fainting, to getting another invitation for a very personal experience on another surgery, to topping it off with a request to be a part of a television commercial and newspaper ads? You’ve got to be kidding!

Only God. Only God.

Every door He opens I know is His equipping of every good thing to accomplish His will.

In this post I hope you’ve had a little laughter and received a lot of hope.   The Lord uses everything. His ways are higher. His plans are creative. He wants you in the middle of it all!

Hebrews 13:21 (NLV)
May God give you every good thing you need so you can do what He wants. May He do in us what pleases Him through Jesus Christ. May Christ have all the shining-greatness forever! Let it be so.

Explore Tulsa airs locally on:
Saturdays Channel 19 at 6pm
Sunday Channel 6 at Midnight
Wednesdays Channel 47 at 10pm
segments are also on their website  www.exploretulsa.com

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Thursday November 19th 2015– a pleasure meeting Stevie, Stevie and Josh from Explore Tulsa

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Hillcrest sent me a photo of the billboard when it went up. Never thought this 87% burned body would be billboard material. Only God.

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Hillcrest’s Changing Lives Banquet in February 2011– a very special memory to have my nursing class clinical group there with me. Including my instructor and now precious friend- Ms BDub!

 

video from the Hillcrest Changing Lives Campaign

Exlpore Tulsa- interviews December 5th 2015

Part 1

Part 2

Share Your Story

I feel like I need to introduce myself.

Hi. I’m Heather Meadows, the absentee blog writer. I can’t believe it’s been fifteen days since our last post.

Now would be a good time to thank you for your continued support and welcome the new subscribers. During this downtime I did a little more than get in some fabulous vacation time with the family, I also got in some fabulous opportunities to share my story with such wonderful groups of people.

I continually say there’s power in our stories. If I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t be shaking up my predictable life with the forecast of unpredictability common for every speaker. Who knows what the next few months will look like? It truly is putting one step in front of the other being available to the Lord as He opens doors.  It’s all about being where He wants us to be when He wants us to be there. Sometimes that doesn’t make a lot of sense when you try to put paper and pencil to it. But my God is much bigger than paper and pencil plans, so I’m going where He leads regardless if I see the whole picture or not.

So back to the power of our stories. The last thirteen years has provided a variety of experiences to speak into diverse groups. Maybe it’s because the opportunities were here and there, or maybe it’s because I’m in a different place with such vision and intention, but I’m receiving something I never anticipated out of these commitments—and it’s your stories.

I take in the faces of those in an audience. Typically they start out with a polite and welcoming look. At points they have such depths of compassion. Sometimes I observe surprise in their eyes as I share things maybe they didn’t assume, because you know we sum each other up whether we intend to or not, and sometimes we’re surprised by information we wouldn’t have thought based on our impression. Reminds me of the nursing student who shadowed me recently. She looked so young and hip, so vibrant and fresh. I was stunned when she answered my question, “So do you have children?” I totally didn’t expect her to say, “Eight.” And no, no blended family. No his, hers and ours. She and her husband felt it was God’s will for them to have a large family, so they did. And she, having double the amount of children I have, appeared far more together than what I give myself credit for; therefore, I assumed she may have not had any. Oh what surprise! The same look of surprise I commonly observe in those opportunities I’m given to publicly share my own story.

Then there’s the melting. When I expose what’s beneath my image, I watch others let their own melt away. As it does, those walls we so naturally walk around with protecting our disappointments, our hurt, our painful memories, our tragedies and losses seem to come down. Being vulnerable with my audiences provides the opportunity for them to be vulnerable with me. It’s communicating, “See how damaged I’ve been, on the inside as well as the outside. See how God can take something so broken and put it back better than it could have been before. You’re safe to think what you think and feel how you feel. And you’re safe to believe it can be more.” What moves me to tears is the thought that those who desire to speak with me at the end of an event do so because something I shared connected within them and they want to share a piece of their self with me, those pieces we typically keep so poised and polished. What a privilege to see people so personally.

Above all the expressions I see, one element fuels me to continue on bearing all for God’s glory. The testimonies. Testimonies inspire people to believe and trust God for His mighty works in their life. How blessed I feel to hear so many. It’s like I carry along a treasure chest collecting encouragement from those who take a moment to share what God has done in their life with me. Your testimonies fan the flame inside me knowing how important it is to press on down this path wherever He may lead.

What He has called me to as a nurse, as a writer, as a speaker makes me so aware of His presence, everywhere. Whether I’m wearing scrubs for the day, standing with a mic in my hand, or sitting at this computer writing, receiving your stories in return touches me and makes me so deeply grateful the Lord called me to simply share of myself.

O Lord, you are my God;

    I will exalt you; I will praise your name,

for you have done wonderful things,

    plans formed of old, faithful and sure. Isaiah 25:1 ESV

Share your story with us– comment below to tell others of such wonderful things.  And remember, we’re always grateful for those private messages too.

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Please be in prayer with us for:

November 6th, 7th & 8th Hearts in Full Bloom Retreat in Tulakogee

November 13th & 14th Exciting Southeast Baptist Women’s Retreat in Pryor

We invite you to watch the following video and share with your friends. Copy and paste the URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP-3u3RONI8 or search “Heather Meadows Story” on YouTube

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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We’re Moving!

I was so discouraged on March 28th when I sat down to write the blog post, It Is Time. However, I wrote it because I’m familiar with Samuel’s instruction in I Samuel 15:22.

But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:

your burnt offerings and sacrifices

or your obedience to his voice?

Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,

and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.”

His voice. Obedience to His voice.

Obedience to His voice was what prompted my decision to cut back on my hours working as a neonatal intensive care nurse. He spoke to my heart while I was recovering from my third surgery in the year. “It is time.” I knew exactly what it was time for. It was time to humble myself, put aside my avoidances of looking foolish and start doing what He’s been preparing me to do for over a decade.

Sure I’ve made my list of excuses. “Lord, I can’t write a book. I don’t have any professional training as a writer.” But the Word tells me He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Hebrews 12:2. He’s not depending on my ability to write it anyway, He’s calling me to be obedient. He equips those He calls.

I’ve composed several questions. “Who is going to have me come speak? How will we maintain our personal budget on a speaker’s fluctuating income?” But the Word tells me He sees even the sparrow, Matthew 10:29, how much more does He care for me? Our budget goes a lot further if we’re investing our resources how He is directing, that includes our time and our money. Obedience to His voice. He provides for those He calls.

scriptureWhen I wrote to share this vision, I thought there’d be an element to share that the Lord had laid on our hearts months before, but it was further away than when we started. Had we heard His voice? It was most definitely my biggest concern. Regardless, I wrote it, knowing the simple functions of my human mind are nothing in comparison to His plans. For this reason, I Corinthians 1:25 NLT was on my heart, “This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.”

Two days before, on March 26th, I had spent working a fulfilling day in the NICU. Upon checking my email that night I received an anticipated message from the broker who had been negotiating on our behalf for more than three months at that time, to purchase a domain the Lord had laid on our hearts.   His message was short, informing us he had heard from the owners and that they wanted $10,000 for the domain.

It seemed apparent that the Lord didn’t want us to simplify our blog website name.

Months before my dear friend, Sara who designed the Heather’s Blessed JouRNey logo a few years ago, jumped on board with our vision to have some brochures made. In this culture of technology, people still love to have information in hand. I’m one of those people. I’ll hit “print” just to be able to touch the material and put my yellow highlighter to use. So Sara put her creativity and talent to work and designed a brochure for us. When we got together to tweak it, I told her we were hoping to move the blog to a new domain. She selected the line, hit delete, and entered, “heathermeadows.com”. I quickly explained that we hadn’t got it yet. Sara, in her laid back, nonchalant personality said, “That’s okay. When you do, we’ll edit. But we have a place marker for it now.” Little did I know how the Lord would use that design to grow me.

My assurance teetered back and forth in the weeks to follow. I went from feeling confident in His calling to doubting my discernment of His voice. In that time, a reoccurring theme inundated my spirit. Trust. As the Lord spoke “rest” into my heart for 2014, see New Year, Same Life, “trust” is His message to me for 2015. Understanding that the way He grows our patience is to give us more opportunities to be patient, so is the process for us to grow in trust. And those opportunities have been presented in effective ways the last few months.

A lunch with a co-worker and friend on March 3rd informed me of a nurse turned nurse practitioner who had read one of my favorite books, The Circle Maker and how she put that book to use in her need regarding employment in her new role. It’s such an encouraging story that she shared on her blog, visit http://www.wanderlove.co/drawing-circles-part-ii/ to read it.  I first read The Circle Maker a few years ago, in the spring of 2012, on a flight to Washington DC. Ironic that I first learned of Mark Batterson when flying to the city where he Pastors? No. Not when I consider the creative wonders of my Maker. That lunch on March 3rd stirred the text, which took root in my heart three years ago, and inspired me to come home and print out the rough draft brochure. I wrote Zechariah 4:6 NLT “…It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” I circled heathermeadows.com and I hung it in our bathroom on our safe room door.

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In the weeks to follow, I prayed the Word over that domain. “Lord, You don’t need a domain to accomplish Your purposes. But if this is Your will, it has to happen by Your Spirit. It is not by force. I can’t force this to happen. It is not by the sheer determination of my personality, but completely by You.”

Oh that prayer. I circled the domain. But honestly, I considered abandoning it numerous times. “Lay out a fleece before the Lord.” I’m familiar with the Biblical practice found in Judges 6. I’d resort in my mind, “if it’s not by such and such date, we’ll go ahead and print the brochures with Heather’s Blessed JouRNey.com”. Nevertheless, each date that came, it didn’t feel right. So when you don’t know what to do, you wait and you continue seeking God.

Sounds very encouraging doesn’t it? But allow me to remind you of what followed; the email on March 26th. $10,000. Wow! Now that would appear to be our answer. “Let it go.” But neither Brandon nor I could do that. We were stumped. Why had this been so heavy on our hearts, so important if it wasn’t going to happen?

Still yet, two days later, the Lord led me to write about the vision He’s laid on our hearts and to share the photo Mallory Hall Photography took for these endeavors of me by the ditch where I was injured. All I can say is God’s timing is perfect. Of all the different things I’ve written about it, it was instrumental that that post be the first one seen at the top of the blog at that time.

Discouragement still loomed. The next day Brandon stayed home from church to study for an upcoming certification, so he wasn’t with us in service that day. The boys went to their classes and Brooklyn and I were in service together. It was Palm Sunday, March 29th. Our Pastor concluded the message and invited attendees to the altars. Brooklyn and I bowed our heads and began our personal prayers. The Holy Spirit nudged me to the altar. I seriously thought, “Lord, I can’t go down to the altar to pray about a domain. You don’t even need the domain to accomplish Your purposes. You’re greater.” Then I started to consider some of those in the altar, like a woman in our church who is battling bone cancer, and our Pastor who was most likely seeking the Lord for the lost who would be coming the next week for Easter. As if God couldn’t handle all of us at the same time. As if He weighs out importance of needs. As if we have to qualify to take something to the altar.

Obedience. Obedience to His voice.

I went to the altar. I kneeled down and I literally patted the altar with my two hands, as if laying a tangible item down. I said, “Lord, here it is. I give this to you. Accomplish Your will. By Your Spirit. Not by force, but by Your Spirit. If You want that domain, I believe You will provide for it, and if You don’t, please speak to my heart to know. Lord, may You be glorified. It’s all for You.”

The next day, I felt like it was a long shot, but I wrote a letter to the owner of heathermeadows.com. I shared my heart, our vision and the Heather’s Blessed JouRNey blog. How foolish it seemed. I remember writing without a pause or a hesitation. It flowed by His Spirit. But as I sent it on to our broker asking him to forward it to the owners, a sense of embarrassment was upon me. However, even though I felt like we were in way over our heads, obedience and trust was before me, and I desired to walk in both. I hit send that Monday, March 30th morning.

The following Thursday, April 2nd, I was pulling out of the Wal-Mart parking lot after getting items to make my assigned dishes for Easter lunch, when I prayed that prayer again, “Lord, I pray you speak to the owners of the domain. It has to be by Your Spirit. Not forced, but by Your Spirit.”

It was about forty-five minutes before school was to let out. I decided to wait, not wanting to drive home and then back again since I usually have my bag with me, to work on something while I wait. I parked, got out my computer, opened my email and read the following message:

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I was overcome. If anyone had seen me in that parking spot, they very well may have assumed someone had died. What an answer to prayer! I knew then that the Lord worked on our behalf.  It wasn’t anything we could do on our own and the entire time God simply wanted us to reach out personally. I emailed back confirming that I was who I said I was.  From there we anticipated the next steps of making some type of agreement. Who would’ve thought?

Honesty, I was a little obsessed with checking my email the next day. Can you imagine? We were going to work something out!!! I couldn’t imagine what it would be! However, by about eleven, I knew I needed to be patient and wait. Brandon was off that Good Friday, and I really wanted us to enjoy our day without incessant email checking. We had to run a few errands before taking Gavin for his afternoon Pre-K class. There’s no better way to disengage than leaving your phone at home when you leave, so that’s what I did. We came back home while the kids were at school and watched a movie together.

Just before we left to pick them up, Brandon took our new puppy, Ruby for a little break outside. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to load my email real quick. Well, I did and I received this message (feel free to click on the center of the image to enlarge it):

You may imagine my heart sinking at those words, “So I won’t sell you the domain.  I would never be able to sleep at night.”  But it didn’t.  When I read those words I thought, “Okay, Lord.  This is Your answer.”  So of course I didn’t foresee the remaining to fold out like it did!!!  I didn’t make it much further.  “I will give you the domain for a promise.”  That’s the sentence that grabbed my gut, twisted it, and pulled me to my knees.  I barely got out the door. Brandon thought someone had died when I ran out screaming to him.  Actually, he recalls that even though he was the person who informed me of my Dad’s passing, I didn’t have a hysterical reaction as one would anticipate.  But this day, this Good FridayApril 3rd, I was nothing close to composed.  I’m an emotional girl, but not typically as emotional as I was that day.

Brandon kept reading.  With every word I was overcome by the presence of God.  See, I’ve read several Mark Batterson books.  I’ve read the story of the crack house turned coffee shop Batterson and his church circled in prayer, that God made Himself known through His provision for it.  But I never imagined having and Ebenezers-type moment in my life.  I was brought to my knees, overcome, overwhelmed, by His presence.  This was my burning bush (Exodus 3).  #1, I knew this was Holy Ground for the presence of God had moved right before me.  It was only “by His Spirit” that this could happen and His Spirit was nearly tangible to me that day.  #2 I was in awe of His Glory, reminding myself how mighty and powerful He is, reminding myself Who He is.  #3 I knew this was a sign from God reaffirming everything He had spoke into my heart months before, everything I wavered in when it didn’t appear like I thought it would, I knew this was the Lord telling me He is the One sending me and He is with me.

It’s now been over two months, and I can’t refrain from crying when I revisit it.  What would we have missed if we we had hushed the Small Voice leading us to reach out personally with our story?  What would we have missed if we would have given in merely because a date we set rolled around on the calendar instead of the Spirit of God? It’s more than my mind can think or conceive.  Ephesians 3:20 NLT  “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

The following Sunday, on Easter, I looked at my husband and whispered in his ear at the conclusion of service.  I needed to pass by, “I have to say ‘thank you.'”  Brandon wasn’t sure what I meant.  He smiled gently and let me pass through.  I made my way to the altar, knelt down and simply said, “thank you, Lord.”  Oh, there were many more words to follow, and I eventually felt the strong hand of my husband grasp mine, and at that altar I laid down all of my planning and thanked Him for the creativity and love of His perfect plans.

Obedience.  Obedience to His voice.

 

Please visit us at our new online home, on our 16th Wedding Anniversary, this Friday June 19th!  Feel free to invite a friend!

We’d love to hear your Circled Prayer story too!  We invite you to comment below and share it to encourage others.

We look forward to sharing a little more of this story with you, and many more to come!

VISIT  www.heathermeadows.com  JUNE 19th 2015

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personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com