What 18 Years Means To Me

“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” –Walt Disney

When I was a little girl I used to get behind my Grandma’s lace dining room curtains, drape them across my face, grasp some flowers between my two hands and cue off the wedding march all on my own. The drapes would slowly inch up my body, rising with each step over my face and falling off the top of my head. I was enacting a dream I had. A dream to one day wear a beautiful gown, hold some beautiful flowers and have a beautiful veil cover my face. Of course, my five year-old-self hadn’t given much consideration to a major player in this dream. The groom! This dream was all about a wedding. Not a marriage.

Just a couple short years later I was lying in the burn unit. On occasion, I expressed my assumptions. I can revisit those seven year-old-thoughts like they were rolling through my mind yesterday. Who will ever love me? No one will ever want to marry me. I will never have a husband. I will never have children.

Dreams of children are often full of fantasy. I suppose mine were no different. I hadn’t lived long enough to dream of high educational goals. I hadn’t lived long enough to envision myself in a respectable career. I simply dreamed of what I saw in my Disney movies. And while I saw what my body looked like, it was my Disney movies that influenced me to believe; believe that maybe, just maybe someone would love me, with all my scars still find beauty in me and love me.

A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
 
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling through
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true ~ Cinderella

Brandon Meadows was my fulfillment of that dream.

Hopefully you didn’t vomit a little in your mouth at that last sentence, because while this post may be a little mushy-gushy, it does have some authentic marriage reflections I pray are encouraging to you.

I would have never ever thought in a million years that I’d meet the one “for whom my soul loves” at a Driller’s baseball game in Tulsa, Oklahoma when I was only fifteen years old. Never. In a million years!

And while we didn’t “hit it off,” the introduction paved the way for interest, leading to friendship and as the fairytales would have it, growing into love. But anyone who has been married for a hot minute can agree that not every married-moment feels like a fairytale. Ours certainly hasn’t.

06.19.1999. Our wedding date. Our marriage date. The beginning of our life together. The fruition of one dream and the vision of many more.

We were 18.

18 years old.

Barely adults. Barely old enough to vote. Underage to rent a car. Underage to have a toast of champagne.

We had nothing…..EXCEPT a dream of a life together.

Dreams are created twice.
The first creation is spiritual. The second creation is physical.
But they always start with what if?
What if you knew you couldn’t fail- what would you do?
What if time or money weren’t an object- what God-sized goal would you go after? – Mark Batterson, If

Oh, we knew we could fail. Countless people pointed to the possibility.

Oh, we knew money was an object. We had a futon for our furniture and converted a barn for our house.

But here we are 18 years later. Here we are at this stage, where we’ve lived in our marriage covenant just as long as we lived before it; celebrating half our lives married in the happiest place on earth. (Because our thirty-six year-old selves still believe in dreams, fairytales and happily ever afters.)

And here are just a few things we’ve gathered-

  1. The two shall become one is an on-going process.

And man! Has it ever been a process! There have been many a moments we didn’t mesh like one. But those moments have become fewer and farther in between. God created us individually with our own giftings, personalities and strengths, but He called us to be one. Years ago our small group leaders, Larry & Joan, gave us some valuable insight: When you get married you’re not sprinkled with magic oneness dust. Now that we could relate to. Wouldn’t it be nice if Tinker Bell could flitter around every marriage ceremony with a little bit of oneness dust?! But getting married in Disney won’t even guarantee that. It’s an every day, sometimes moment-by-moment decision (especially in the heated ones) to desire unity above anything else. Amazingly, even people with as different personalities as Brandon and me, eventually start thinking like one another, even finishing each other’s sentences! (That one really creeps the kids out by the way!)

  1. Sacrificial love didn’t look like what we thought it would.

Has anyone seen Disney’s Inside Out? Joy multiplies the manufacturing of Riley’s imaginary boyfriend. You know, the boyfriend we all imagined as teenagers? He continuously says, “I would die for Riley.” But living for someone can be way more sacrificial. Like saying, “I’m sorry.” I don’t know about you but that one is SUPER HARD after some intense disagreements. And like protecting and defending your spouse even at the expense of other relationships. Or like declining a job transfer that would take you away from your spouse, even if it may mean losing your job. Can’t say when we made that commitment we pictured the potential of having to consider the reality of possibly taking a pay cut or a position below qualifications. Thankfully, when we said, “no” for our marriage, God opened a door for an even better career change. But we would’ve never known had we not had the mindset of sacrificial love.

  1. We’re hinged on choice.

With sacrifice comes vulnerability. Standing before God and witnesses, vowing our life to our spouse, forsaking our self and all others as long as we both shall live puts us in a pretty vulnerable place. Forever. Brandon and I are seeing 18 years married, simply because he has chosen me and I have chosen him each day since June 19, 1999. We can love each other but keeping this union going means we each have to choose. And knowing that at any point one person may choose otherwise can be freakishly vulnerable. We’re geared to self protect, but that doesn’t jive with sacrificial love. So we go all in, abandoning ourselves and trusting God. Trusting God to help us forgive, trusting God to help us face the sin and shortcomings (because as hard as it is to face our own sin and shortcomings, it’s even more challenging to have to deal with our spouse’s). And even if a choice is made to abandon the covenant, still trusting God.

So here we are, thanking God for the yesterdays and trusting Him for our tomorrows. Not always picturesque. Not always perfect. But grateful for sharing it together.

Colossians 1:17 He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.

I pray this post spoke to you. 

Did you know I’m writing a book about persevering through life’s painful places? 
Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? 

We can’t grow with out you.

*thank you to Kevin with Disney Fine Art Photography & Video for capturing some Grand Floridian Anniversary moments for us!

Guest Post: Did You Know How Much God Just Loves You?

*a special post from special guest Heather Falana*

My husband loves me. It doesn’t matter what kind of a day I am having or if he disagrees with some of my decisions-he just loves me. He has been out of the country for 10 days and he returns tomorrow. To say I am excited is an understatement. While he has been away the Lord has been working some things out of me.

There is always stuff in us that can be worked on, worked in, or worked out. See, the thing is, people say “Jesus loves you” and ask “Did you know how much God just loves you?

…. “just loves you”.

Yes. I do know that He does love me.

But do I?

Grace means undeserved favor. It means that something is given to you that you do not deserve and it could never be earned, but I believe that over time I have come to slightly believe that I must earn some gifts from God. Today, I realized that the devil has been trying to keep things out of my grasp with this one lie; “Heather, you haven’t done enough.”

I find it very easy to love the Lord. To sing Him praises and talk about His goodness. It is also very easy for me to do that for people too; to brag on them and bring them gifts, but I have a hard time receiving it back. The Lord brought to my attention that I don’t always let Him love me. I’m always thinking about what I didn’t do or what I can do better. Not what He has done and wants to do in me and for me—there are things only my Heavenly Father can do.

I am a mother of three beautiful children. They are not perfect. They fight with each other on occasion. They sometimes lie. They don’t always follow the rules. They get mad at me. You want to know what? Sometimes they irritate me but I LOVE them so deeply that I correct and move forward knowing sure within myself that they love me too and they will improve. So, sitting in my living room today God gave me a dose of much needed unlimited, throw-all-caution-to-the-wind, cry-your-eyes-out LOVE.

Over the past month, while my prayer closet, I was sensing this wall. A wall. Not a wall to keep things in, a wall that was keeping something out. I couldn’t figure it out. I asked the Lord to show me what I was feeling on the inside. One thing I love about having a relationship with God is that He never fails to blow my mind.

I stand on scripture for healing in my body and protection over my family. I receive wisdom from God daily because His Word says in James that all I must do is ask for it and He gives it freely. Freely. God loves freely and He gives grace, mercy, and wisdom freely; however, it is never forced and must be received the same way. Today He spoke to my heart and said “Heather, you cannot earn the things I love to give you. I watch over your children because I love you. I desire to heal your body because I love you. And I gave you Jesus because I love you. Not because you remembered the scripture from last Sunday. Not because you prayed and read my Word four times or two times this week or you forgot. I just love you.

I cannot explain in a human tongue what this did to me. I know God loves me. I know that He sent Jesus because He loved us (John 3:16). It was different today. It went deeper than “Jesus loves you”. I felt like He took my face in His hands and looked me in the eyes and said “I just love you.

My husband and I moved last year to the west coast to start a church. People are people everywhere you go. I have come to realize that. Here in my new home I am finding it challenging to explain why we are here. Yes, we came to start a church to tell people about Jesus Christ and what He did but more importantly we came to share the love of Christ with people. I have been asking myself “How? How do I explain all of this extreme fondness I have for my savior?” and “How do I show them what it is like to know My savior?” and “How will they see that this is vital?

Outside of being an example of Christ and being a sweet fragrance to those around you (II Corinthians 2:14-15), I needed more. How do I put this thing in my heart into words? Wisdom is coming my friends. When you ask Jesus to come into your heart to be your Lord and Savior its more than a prayer. It’s a life changer. He said in II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, all things have become new.

It’s one thing to know about a person, it’s another to hear about who that person is, and it is entirely different to live with that person. Christ desires to live with us because He just loves us. He desires to change our hearts because He knows about every little thing in your life that you need. He desires to lead us. He desires to heal us, protect us, and care for us.

We recently got a dog. He is almost a year. We found him at the Humane Society. We walked into this very loud, a bit stinky and crowded animal shelter. My family and I walked into the small dog room. There was this half Corgi half Chihuahua copper dog in the last kennel on the left. My oldest son just melted. The shelter had a name on his kennel and it was Nalu. When we brought him home the kids wanted to change that name so we threw out many ideas until we settled on Cooper.

Cooper has had to learn some new behaviors. He has had to learn that we are safe and how to trust us. When Cooper came out of his old life he received a new one. A better one. He came from a high-kill shelter in Hawaii and this was his last chance at living. He was surviving but he was not living. When God sent Jesus to us it was not to point His nose down at the human race and aim lightning bolts in our direction and yell “Look at all those people screwing everything up! They need a crutch! I’m sending them Jesus.”  No. He sent Jesus because the enemy has it out for all mankind (I Peter 5:8) and Jesus came to make a way of escape. Just like we were sent to Cooper to make him a way of escape. John 10:10 Jesus says “the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In other words, Jesus came to bring something worth dying for and not so He could keep it to Himself. He came to give it away to you and me!

It didn’t stop there. We gave the dog a new name and a new life. He also received gifts and a bath! Now everything that belongs to the Falana’s also belongs to Cooper. He is in the family now! He enjoys our couch, our food, our neighborhood streets, and our love. It is the same with the Lord. You can know about Him or you can live in Him.


Picture yourself standing outside of a house and wondering what it holds. Nothing in that house belongs to you, in fact you cannot even see what it has to offer. Now, picture yourself walking through that house. You see all the rooms, the stairs, the fireplace. It is very inviting. You walk right through it and you move on.

Now, imagine you live in that house. Everything in that house belongs to you. It not only brings you the things you need, like a stove, washing machine, and toilets. It shelters you. It keeps you warm. It protects you. It also gives you room. Room to share. That is Christ. He desires for you to be “in Him”. Not to know about Him. Not to visit with Him once and move on. He desires to free you from a negative sentence in life. To change you. Rename you. Feed you. Shelter you. Most importunately, “to just love you.” I John 4:9-10 “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”.

Don’t just survive this one life you have been given. Live it in Him and let Him just love you.

The Falana Kiddos with their sweet little Cooper

A Little Thought From Heather…Meadows🤗

I could write a blog post alone about Heather Falana.  She is the portrait of Proverbs 27:17 in my life– “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We met several years ago in an anatomy class and journeyed through OU College of Nursing together, being referred to by many as Heather Squared.

She and her family are brave for Jesus, bold for Jesus and desire His plans for their life, moving across country, not knowing a soul, to minister His life, His love, His hope and His healing to lives. 

Would you pray about and consider blessing their ministry with a love offering?  Your tax deductible gift can be sent to:  
Church Alive ℅ Sam Falana 1339 NW Covey Ct. Silverdale, WA 98383 

Also, if you enjoy a good laugh, Heather periodically posts some super funny videos! Click here to look her up on Facebook. Her humor will lift you up, truly making you laugh out loud.  She’s such a gift to me! ❤ Heather

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Crazy, right?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

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: Nothing is Impossible with God

Guest Post: Nothing is Impossible with God

*a special post from special guest Dr. Rachel Davis-Jackson*

I was a little black girl born to a custodian and a laborer for a cement factory. At nine years of age, the Lord put a dream in my heart and I told my mother I was going to be a doctor. My father and mother divorced but my mom was a tough single mother. She made sure I stayed on track with grades. We weren’t rich but we weren’t poor either. My mom worked three jobs at times to give me all I needed and most of what I wanted. My mom brought me to church on Sundays and I went to catechism school. I completed all the lessons and ceremonies required by the Catholic church.

I was raised to be strong and independent. I have been working since I was 15 years old and obtained my license on my 15th birthday. I went through college without a break; working and studying. Looking back, I was driven. Didn’t realize at the time it was God’s dream in me driving me to fulfill my destiny.

I met my soon-to-be husband in my sophomore year of college and we were married by my 1st year of medical school. I knew of the Lord, because of my upbringing but did not have a relationship with Him at that time in my life. That goes to show you; God had a mission for me and He drove my life, my actions and my interactions from behind the scenes. He knew I would need a partner like Kevin.

When I met my husband, Kevin, I was at a point in my life that I didn’t want a boyfriend. Kevin knew way before I did that the Lord put us together. Even when I would tell him, “I just want to be friends.” He would always say, “I’m going to make you mine.” Obviously he did what he said.  We were married for over 25 years. 

The Lord revealed to me that not only had He placed in Kevin everything I needed to help me achieve my destiny, He also had placed in me, everything that I needed to give to Kevin. God placed in me all the love, patience, understanding and caring to repay Kevin for sufferings he endured early in life.

Kevin and I were married on December 29, 1990. Our marriage was filled with ups and downs. One of our biggest trials came on March 10, 1993. Our first child together was born at 26 weeks, 1 pound, 8.5 ounces. The doctor gave her less than a 50% chance of survival. I was devastated and knew she would die.

Not my husband. He worked with some God-fearing, praying women. He went to work and they prayed together. My husband heard from God and from that time on all he would say was, “ She is going to be fine.”

She is better than fine. She is a smart, beautiful Baylor college graduate. During those times, I doubted Kevin’s faith and his relationship with the Lord. However, while my faith was tested and I was the one doubting God, Kevin had enough faith for both of us. We both had been raised in the church and had strayed away but through trials the Lord brought us back to Him.

We had two other children and I was on bedrest for months for both pregnancies. My husband worked and took care of me and the baby. With God’s help and strength we both survived very troubling times. I completed medical school, pediatric residency and a pediatric subspecialty training by 2002 and had three babies during this time. All of which we could not have accomplished without the grace of God. Kevin used to say, “Baby, it’s me and you against the world.” God’s Word says He will supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Christ has always been there for me, even when I didn’t even acknowledge His presence as I do now.

My relationship with the Lord grew as we went through all those trials. After specialty training, I was working in a small NICU; definitely not being able to use all my skills and training. I had been praying for some time for the Lord to move me. His answer was to be content where I was and in due season He would move me. I did just that, I made the best of a less than opportune situation and early in 2006 things changed. The Lord told me to turn in my resignation and tell my job that I would be gone in six months. I obeyed and then started looking for another job.

I went on several interviews until the last one scheduled was in Oklahoma. I had never even considered Oklahoma as an option. My husband and I went on the interview. My prayer was, “Lord if this is where I’m supposed to be please tell Kevin too.” I was sure he would never agree to move from Louisiana, after living in New Orleans for greater than 10 years, to Tulsa, Oklahoma. That showed me that what God has planned will come to pass, no matter what. After the interview, I asked Kevin what he thought. Without hesitation, he said, “Let’s try it, Bae.” I was floored. Long story short, we moved December 2006 and since being here, God has blessed me and my family above and beyond our wildest dreams. I started as just another newborn intensive care doctor with the group and the Lord promoted me to medical director of one of the two largest newborn intensive care units in the state of Oklahoma. I was doing what I loved to do, taking care of sick babies and being blessed by it.

My family and I have had our trials over the past 10 years but we also have had so many blessings and so much favor bestowed on us. For example, my oldest son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He went through two surgeries to remove it. I was terrified but I trusted God. I kept having to say, “Lord I believe, just help me with my unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24) God does answer prayers. My son recovered from both surgeries with no deficits and he is healthy and cancer free to this day.

Remembering my trials and my blessings reminds me of what the Lord told me before we moved from Louisiana. “I will bring you into your land of milk and honey.” He also told me that He would give me the man of my desires in my husband. God did all that and more. My relationship with the Lord continues to grow and my relationship with Kevin just got better and better. My prayer was “Lord, bring Kevin and I closer together and closer to You.” We didn’t have a perfect marriage with no problems, but the last 10 years were the best of our 25-year marriage.

It seems the closer I got to God the more trials I have to endure. But His Word says, to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). I have to say that God is requiring a lot of me since He called the love of my life home to Him on July 26, 2016.  Kevin had just made 52 one month prior.

It was unexpected and almost unbelieveable. My husband’s presence was always larger than life. He lived a blessed and highly favored life, especially the last 10 years. His absence was felt like a tidal wave in a calm sea. The love and support that I and my family received after his passing, was immense. To look back now, I know I could have not made it through this ordeal without the Lord supplying me with all my needs through so many wonderful people.

During this time, I have also had two beautiful grandchildren born, such a bittersweet blessing. They will never get to know PaPa who loved them before they were born. This has truly been the hardest trial of my life. I miss my mate of 30 years and husband of over 25 years. My children miss their father, who has always been father and mother to them when mom was working. By God’s grace and mercy, we are all hanging in there. Our broken hearts are mending slowly. My prayer is “God heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)


My God has never failed me and I know with time and His presence in my life, I will be healed. I thank God for the time I had with Kevin and the three beautiful children we conceived and the one beautiful girl that is my child because she is Kevin’s. I know one day I will see my love again. In the meantime, I stand on God’s words, “I will give you beauty for ashes and double for your trouble.” (Isaiah 61:3-7 The Message)


A Little Thought From Heather:
Our lives speak a message.  I have half a blog post composed on that thought alone.  But Dr. Jackson’s life is a message I’ve received from for years now.  I first met her during nursing school gaining some insight into the world of NICU Nursing as an extern in the summer of 2011.  In addition to the beautiful views from our unit, another one of the “pros” on my list to work there was this neonatologist who took time to routinely write words of inspiration for the staff.  I watched her gown-up for a lumbar puncture and after all protocols were followed for a time-out she paused, closing her eyes to pray.  Not too much time passed till I was working as a NICU nurse caring for a terminally ill baby.  Dr. Jackson came in the room, motioned for me to give her my hands, and we stood together and prayed over that little life together.  Dr. Jackson has ministered to my life as I’ve observed hers. And the message she speaks through it is a beautiful testimony of God’s strength and faithfulness through all of life’s moments– the ones of rejoicing and the ones of pain.  I cannot express how grateful I am for her to share her story with us.  I pray the Lord continues to use the words of her journey to encourage and strengthen you on yours.  He is faithful…. in every season. ❤ Heather

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When Life Has You Benched

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I think it’s best to start this post with a disclaimer, a little clarification, that in no way, at all, am I implying I know much about anything involving sports. This post was comprised from a few Google searches and my own personal observations of a seventh grade basketball team. I’ve learned a lot.

Our oldest son has a love for fishing, soccer and basketball. He didn’t inherit any of those passions from his mom, and only one of them he can trace back to his dad. Jaron began playing soccer when he was four and basketball at five. Actually, he has interest in pretty much any physical outdoor or sporting activity, but over the years we have watched him hone in on his favorites.

You can only imagine our excitement and enthusiasm for him to play school ball this year. Attending games with parents we’ve met throughout the years of Upwards and booster club. Sitting in the stands watching him play in the same basketball gym we cheered players when we were students. Anticipating new memories with each game on the schedule. It was going to be great!

Well…..it wasn’t what we thought it’d be.

Honestly, I could just stop there.

How many times are we pumped up for a season and it doesn’t unfold into what we thought it’d be?

Like showing up every single day, early, and staying late giving every ounce of effort you have without a complaint and then being passed over for the promotion. Not what you’d thought it’d be.

Like getting up and sticking to that treadmill routine, staying disciplined to the eating plan, resisting the popcorn at the movies while every single person in your group is having some, with extra butter, only to get on the scale the next week and see not one pound has been shed from the efforts.

Like doing pre-marital counseling, making a ten-year plan, praying with and for your spouse, investing in their dreams and goals by personal sacrifice of time and money, then not feeling growth but rather decline in the marriage relationship.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Sometimes things aren’t what we thought it’d be.

Kinda like seventh grade basketball for Jaron. He was eager. He was excited. He was at practice every single morning, five days a week, not missing one. He was on time, and even occasionally early when he could get his mom out the door to drive him there. He’d get home in the evening and practice free-throws, lay-ups and three pointers. He would shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot. Whether it was ten degrees or seventy, because yes, we have those temperature swings regularly in Oklahoma, he was out there working to improve.

So you can imagine how hard it was for us to watch him sit the bench. One game he didn’t play at all. Not at all.

Oh the parent inside. You know the parent inside. I wanted to give the coach some insight into my child’s hard work. I also wanted to ask him why not only my child was sitting the bench, but several other boys, who were good ball players. I saw a team of talent being overlooked. But every now and then God shows me how He’s growing me, because this communicator who feels everything can be worked out for the better with a good discussion never said one word. Not to the coach anyway. But to the Lord and my husband, I poured out my heart.

At one point this was dropped into my heart,

“Heather, you have prayed for years now that Jaron would know the difference between confidence and arrogance. Allow the opportunities to teach him.

And wow—the opportunity taught him so very much.

A couple things we talked about were….

Perseverance, Dedication & Commitment

The Lord spoke through my heart that one day Jaron may not feel appreciated or valued at his job, but he’s going to give his best because he’s personally learned what is it to have perseverance, dedication and commitment. That one day, when he experiences difficult times in his marriage, he’s going to continue giving his best because he’s learned what is it to have perseverance, dedication and commitment. And that was developed on the bench, not on the court.

Another quality developed on the bench—a mindset of service.

After one of the games I said to him, “Jaron, I couldn’t have been more proud of you if you were out there scoring every point. I watched you sit on that bench, knowing how deeply you desired to be playing, and you were cheering and encouraging your teammates. Not an ounce of the disappointment you felt kept you from staying focused on the team.”

Toward the latter part of the season, Jaron’s playing time increased quite a bit. And with it came the discussions emphasizing the mindset of service. “Serve the team well. If you have an opportunity to play, play for the team, not for yourself. That way, when you’re pulled out, it’s not about you, but about what’s best for the team.”

I get it. No one wants to sit on the bench. Here’s where my Google search got me. There were over fifty players on the rosters for the 2017 Super Bowl teams. Only eleven players from each team were on the field at a time. That’s a lot of players all dressed up to sit the bench for the most-watched television-sporting event of the year. But they’re still getting something out of it. And so do we!

“What do you mean, Heather?” I’m glad you wondered!

I’m talking about Romans 8:17 NLT “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.”

May make ya wanna skip them both altogether. The glory may not be worth the suffering. Oh, but when the Lord is involved it is.

We are made into who He intended for us to be. We are developed beyond the tendencies of our nature. We are molded into more.

When life has you benched, when it feels it’s not worth the work, or the trouble, or the commitment, or the dedication, or the pain, or the suffering; remember, that in this world, all of it may very well seem worthless, but to God it’s the ingredients to produce something of great value!

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FakeBooking: Living Real in a Social Media World

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Mom, Aunt Donna and I all went to get pedicures last week. It was a special occasion. Actually, after pulling off my socks it appeared one could conclude it as a rare occasion! The only attention I had given my toes since October was a trimming. The French pedicure had nearly grown off—off, off and away! What remained on the quarter top portion on my great toe was chipped, somewhat discolored and left a residual white color even after the polish had been removed. Talk about embarrassing—when the pedicurist is filing the top of the toe in efforts to buff out that funky look.

I would certainly have never snapped a “before” pic of my little piggies to share with my social media friends and family. I do imagine the image along with the typical getting-a-pedicure caption would have acquired some comments. Like, “it’s about time,” or “how long has it been?” or “should you see a doctor for that?

Oh, honestly, it may not have received the comments, because my social media people aren’t social media trolls, but it would have at the least, created some similar thoughts. I know it seems unheard of, especially after the political social media funnels of the last couple weeks. Actually, I’ve been tempted to chime in a time or two, even wrote a blog post, but had to trash it. I call it a “funnel” because it appears to take social media’s intention of connecting people in one direction. Down. And down really, really fast. People unfollow or defriend or step away from participating altogether. I’m not sure some “friends” would even acknowledge one another if they saw each other in the store after some of the exchanges I’ve read. But moving on….

Overall, people really do know how to keep negativity to themselves. We haven’t forgotten Disney’s classic film, Bambi and that sweet little rabbit who was working on keeping thoughts to himself. Yes, God bless Thumper! We all know the feeling, “if ya can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Nevertheless, we tend to only share what we think would be well-received. Or what we’re proud of. Those not-so-stellar realities in our life don’t need to be showcased. I mean, how many times have we cropped dirty dishes out of the pic or tried to eliminate our kitchen’s cracked grout from making the photo? I could go on. The pile of laundry, the busted fence pickets and falling braces—I know, sounds crazy but it happens around here. Ya know what else happens around here? Shattered light fixtures from soccer balls and basketballs. From the patio to the playroom we’ve got a few that have bit the dust. Then there’s the challenge of avoiding the ongoing sheetrock repair! At the moment, and I figure it may not be a very extended one, but at the moment we have every area of sheetrock repaired and painted! Did you hear the angels sing?! It’s a glorious thing!

Life is just life. And sharing it with others doesn’t require perfection. I mean, you’re probably gonna notice when The Meadows need to mow under the trampoline in a few of our backyard pool pictures. We just don’t like moving that thing every time we mow. So it gets to looking a bit shabby. Or creepy. Like potential snake-home creepy. Now I’ve gone too far. Shared too much. Let me get back on track.

My approach to sharing socially is to follow Thumper’s approach—only share, or say, what is nice. If I don’t have anything nice, I just don’t share. Which explains why there are occasional periods of no participation.

Even here on this blog, we’ve shared some un-pleasantries, but not until we have something to offer from it. A difficult season isn’t for our misery, it’s for our development. Seeking the Lord and gaining insight through the season creates a gift in us to share with others in the right time. Please Note: in the right time.

It’s my heartbeat every reader who visits our online home will receive a little dose of inspiration, strength, joy and encouragement. Personally, some of life’s moments drain those qualities from me. Like the challenging season with our daughter or the unexpected job loss with my husband. I couldn’t write about those when they were unfolding. I had nothing good to give from it. But in time, the Lord turned those into trophies for His Kingdom and tokens of encouragement for us on earth. *check out Living in a Layoff or The Other Side of Failing

When we’re scrolling Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram, or hanging out on LinkedIn, or browsing Pinterest, and any other social media site (cause I just can’t account for or even know them all), let’s remember that those are the highlight reels. We aren’t sharing the behind-the-scenes. Not because someone is faking it, but because they may be in the waiting period—waiting for something good to come from it.

In honor of this post, I’m sharing my toes. Recently pedicured! I chose to go bare. No polish. First of all, I’m so grateful I have my feet, but I’m not a fan of the look. My yucky bone sticks out on my right ankle and my toes curl under. But nevertheless, here is something I wouldn’t typically share—my little piggies. Overgrown-grass-under-the-trampoline pics coming soon (summer will be here before we know it)!

Ephesians 4:29 ESV
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

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What’s In This Box? The Meadows Merry Christmas to You!

What’s In This Box? The Meadows Merry Christmas to You!

Have you ever pulled wrapping paper off a box and got incredibly excited only to realize the box was solely for packaging purposes, that the item held within was not the one reflected on the box?

I’ve done that. It’s embarrassing.

Generally I still absolutely love the gift, but the situation makes me feel the necessity to overly emphasize my gratitude, as if I need to convince the giver that even though it wasn’t what I thought it was, it is still something I love.

You know. Something kinda like this year in reflection.

2016 held some things we would have preferred not to face, but the experiences have grown us individually and stronger together as a family. All in all, it was a year we’re overly grateful our Giver gave to us.

_42a8338Gavin turned 7 in July. He had his very first season of baseball last spring, and what an experience it was! His team was undefeated!!! Quite the start! Gavin took his position as catcher very seriously, not wanting the umpire to help him out in the least bit when throwing the ball back to the coach/pitcher. He may have found his niche, making the Dad so happy that Gavin shares his love of baseball. He played goalie in soccer and has now started his first year of basketball. Gavin is rocking it out in 1st grade, recently receiving Tiger Cub of the Month for December. While we wouldn’t consider him super social, his teacher tells us he demonstrates leadership qualities in the classroom and was just recognized for the life principle gentleness. Like all the rest of us, he’s making his way, doing a fine job.

_42a8353Caden moved out of the elementary school to middle school this year. All four kiddos are at different locations now, never to be back on the same campus again. Let the Mom shed a tear here.😢 Caden is in 4th grade with a rotating schedule, changing classes every hour, but his homeroom teacher is one of our best, dearest friends, having taught three of four kids so far. What a blessing! For Caden’s 10th birthday he wanted his room redecorated in a beach, surf theme. He has drums, a microphone, a guitar and a ukulele he tinkers around with here and there. We have a hunch that he’s got a music bug, but at this season he keeps busy with baseball, soccer and basketball. He is still the most laid-back, easy-going kid ever. Caden is very likable, even getting elected as class representative. He’s quite the guy.

_42a8347Jaron is in….wait for it….(can you hear the dun dun dunnn?)…..JUNIOR HIGH! We may have some negative opinions having been through this with child one, but Jaron seems to be handling the environment well at the time. 7th grade so far is good. He was able to join youth group starting in the summer and is on the student leadership team. Honestly it’s hard to wrap this kid up in one paragraph. He wants to be involved in everything and is starting to realize the challenge to be fully committed and effective in so many different areas. He’s playing soccer on a rec team, he ran cross country for the school, is playing school basketball and plays trumpet in band. I pray the Lord allows him many opportunities to soak up all he pursues in life. Jaron is the example of “making the most of our days,” and that translates to Mom and Dad trying to catch our breath in between it all!

_42a8366Brooklyn has put her best foot forward this year, finishing her first semester of 10th grade with an A in every class! She’s getting closer to becoming an independent driver having obtained her permit back in September. It was one of our highlights this year and we shared about it in The Other Side of Failing. Her passion is her horse, Gray Boy and she continues with improvements in making his house snazzy. She is enjoying having Jaron in youth group with her and serving on the student leadership together. We’re so proud of her growth, maturity and her vision for her future. It’s as if that future is speaking those words from playing tag, “ready or not, here I come.” And she is getting ready!

Brandon had an unexpected job change this year. We wrote about the experience in Living in a Layoff. We’ve always known that being an engineer in oil & gas in Oklahoma comes with a dose of unpredictability, but we never anticipated a layoff. Needless to say it was a big opportunity for our own growth. During the three months out of work he obtained his project management professional certification and is now working as a project manager for Rose Rock, and gets to work from home on Fridays! His office is right across the street from the hospital where I work.

The location is quite convenient and now Brandon and I carpool in together on the days I work. I’m still enjoying my NICU nurse gig at Saint Francis working a shift a week. Although I’m not there full time I’m quite passionate about my NICU babies. In April I obtained my RNC, a national certification in NICU nursing. In my time away from the hospital, I’m the official schedule coordinator for the family. I do my best but could definitely use more improvement. Nevertheless, we haven’t forgotten a kid. Yet. 😉 I continue serving events, conferences, schools, businesses, banquets and churches through inspirational motivational speaking when given the opportunity. However, the main task is the book project I’m working on, writing a personal memoir about persevering through life’s painful places. Our prayer is that it will be powerfully effective for those who need it in a time they need it most.

We’ve had some beautiful gifts in 2016. There was something special inside each package. Some were wrapped up in obvious goodness. Like our family’s mission trip with Brooklyn and Jaron to El Salvador with our church in June. Or our family vacation in October returning to see Mickey on Oahu. But even the challenging, unpleasant, unpredictable, unsure moments of the year held something special within them for us. And we have an expectation 2017 will hold the same.

It has been a joy sharing our moments with you through the year here on this blog. We can’t thank you enough for being a part of our online family. We pray the Lord continues using the posts to bring encouragement, inspiration, strength and joy to you as He continually provides to me in writing them.

Merry Christmas to you and yours! May you feel God’s presence and know His faithfulness today, in the New Year and every day thereafter, no matter what the package may look like!

Matthew 7:11NLT So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.

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