NICU Nursing Gifts: Letter From A Family

Everyone has a way they receive love.  Gary Chapman covers the topic thoroughly in his book The Five Love Languages.  From what I remember of the book, and from what I identify in myself, is that we receive from all of the five ways love is expressed, but each of us has a primary love language.

Evidently, my primary love language is quality time.  My secondary is acts of service.

But one thing I love so very much are words.  I love written words and spoken words.  I love the bridge words create connecting one person to another.  And recently, I received the most beautiful words from a beautiful family.

This family gifted each nurse who took care of their baby with a rustic cuff and the letter below.  I’ve changed a bit of the letter to protect the family’s privacy, but wanted to share because of the insight it provides.  Sometimes we get so focused in, we forget how much value each of the little things holds in the hearts of those we as nurses get to care for.

As I read through this letter, the following passage of scripture was stirring in my thoughts.

Matthew 25:34-40 NLT
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” 
Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?”
And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”      

NICU Nursing Gifts: Letter From A Family

Hope– a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, a feeling of trust. 

We were so excited when we finally had our son on that autumn day in 2016.  He was beautiful and sweet and just perfect.  Then two days later we were told he wasn’t going home with us and that our perfect little boy wasn’t medically perfect.

Our emotions leapt from total joy and excitement to fear and confusion.  The next few days are totally lost in our memories, and the following weeks were so emotional and draining.  There is nothing to prepare you for the sadness and complete helplessness you feel as a parent with a child that is sick to any degree, let alone in and ICU where we weren’t sure what the problem was or what the solution would be.

The things we do remember are the people who were there to take care of our son.  Upon arrival at the NICU, a nurse had prepared our baby’s bed with personal bedding and had placed the sweetest blue knit cap on his precious head.  Within the first few days, our little man had a handmade name tag on the door to his room.  A few days later, a nurse brought in an outfit and said, “Let’s dress this sweet boy!

Being such an emotional time, I had never even thought to put clothes on my baby!

November arrived and our little turkey got to make his very own first craft!  A turkey!  Made using his little footprint.

Nurses who had taken care of him before would stop in on their shifts just to check-in on him.  We really felt as though the nurses here cared for his health and loved him as all children need to feel loved.

Although we as his parents were not the patients ourselves, we felt cared for.  The nurses here engaged in conversation with us both medically to keep us updated and socially to keep us feeling sane and a part of the world outside of that room.  Each night, a nurse brought in fresh bedding for us to sleep on and always asked if we needed anything else.  We received comfort in the form of positive words or encouragement, friendly smiles and even a few much needed hugs.

You are what gave us HOPE.  We desired for our baby’s health to be taken care of and we had to trust that it would be.  In some cultures, blue is representative of hope.  The shade of blue we chose is the same shade of blue as the knit hat he received in his first night in the NICU.

When you wear this bracelet, please remember that what you do matters.  You give hope to a lot of families.  Your kindness, patience, and individual care matters.  We are forever indebted to this staff and this facility.

Love,
a NICU Grad’s Mom & Dad

 

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.

 

GUEST POST: The Untouched Gift

*a special post from special guest Michele Lee*

Picture this:
You spend much time, thought, and your resources in getting the perfect gift. You put so much of your mind on it that “the gift” becomes a personal and real place in your heart. You go to the celebration with great expectations in watching the person open the gift with as much passion as you put into the process only to see them smile and politely say thank you and set it aside……BIG SIGH….Letdown.

Or maybe they show great appreciation but you see that they never use the gift….. disappointment!

The greatest pleasure and gift given me is to both teach and pastor. And yes, I can preach too! I have in one hand the ability to take information and clearly present it with novelty, but also depth.  And in my other hand, I have a great need to guide, love, train, and be a safe place for people to gather—gifts that were given by our Lord Himself with the sole purpose to give Him glory in order to bring others to Him. Which is really the definition to a purpose-filled life.

But sadly, I was that person, like many, who was given this beautiful box with the most elaborate decorations that obviously showed the time and attention given to it. I opened these gifts one day, only to set them aside.

I was using one gift but not to its fullest.  It was like having this piece of technology with a million cool things, and I used only one feature.  Instead of using the whole gift, I smiled with a polite thank you and set it aside.

I allowed insecurities, inadequate feelings, and fear to stop me from real and genuine fulfillment.

I cannot set back and watch others make this mistake.

If I were to guess, there are people reading this right now that your gift is just sitting there, either unopened or collecting dust.

I can say this with certainty because I have observed much of this my 25 years in ministry and in private and public education. I’ve seen students and adults have so much potential, and use none.  They find themselves aimlessly walking in circles to find purpose and success, and yet still feel so unfulfilled. I’ve watched people use the gift, but quickly set it aside because they feel “uncomfortable ” with it. I mean who gets a gift and is a master the first time with it? Not even the most technologically gifted people can say that.
I’ve heard many people tell me they showed up late to the party and did not receive a gift.

What?!

In God’s family everyone gets a gift! He’s just generous like that.

On the other end, I have watched someone so insecure, so unsure and so hesitant have courage to use the gift and become “beyond what they ever thought or imagined.”

Gifts are unlimited with our limitless God but here are a few to get your mind thinking :

The gift:

  • of hospitality
  • of encouragement
  • of compassion
  • of serving
  • of leadership
  • of prayer
  • of generosity
  • of creativity
  • of listening
  • of writing
  • of speaking
  • of organizing
  • of planning
  • of music
  • of connecting
  • of teaching
  • of preaching
  • of filling in the gap where needed

This is just to name a few, but please don’t believe that all of these can’t be in your life, because they can. A gift just means you’re really strong in that area or areas. And the gifts aren’t limited to one place. Your gifts are for every area of your world—home, work, church, leisure, and even strange, as in, not-part-of-your-normal-routine places.

Most people have allowed unfortunate circumstances or a bump in the road with people to decide whether they will use the gift. And I am here today…. writing this post…. to encourage you to use the gift(s). Trust me…. I had prepared another post and God took me here.

Three things happen when you use the gift:

1. God is glorified. Everything that good happens is from God. Matthew 5:16 tells us people will see your good works and glorify your God. If it ever becomes about you, it’s not from God and you will quickly fall short and be empty.

2. You are blessed. We were created with a void that only God can fill. When it’s filled with Him we are fulfilled. He meets emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, and tangible needs. John 10 says God has come to give you life MORE abundantly.

3. Others are blessed through your gift.  You often are the game changer in someone’s life or circumstances. We don’t have to think BIG to bless people. It often is the daily moments we say “yes” to obedience that we bless others. Why else would Proverbs close its book with this beautiful description of a woman: “her children will rise and call her blessed”? Why? Because SHE blessed them! She said “yes” to using her God gifts.

When I made a deliberate effort to use the gifts daily ….. not every once in a while …. not when I felt good…. not when it was convenient, but daily use the gift and be passionate about it, things changed. All the excuses I made, He had a reply and the solution. He was just waiting for me to say, “Yes! I’m as excited to use the gift as You were to give it to me!”

Thank you God, that You love us generously. That You give to us generously. That You equip us generously. That You see each of us as your unique gift!

Happy to receive and use the gift,
The Mrs. Pastor

A Little Thought From Heather:
If I were to list out some individuals who helped me discover and develop the gift God gave to me, Michele would be right there at the top.  She and Steve have not only ministered to my life for 23 years but they have mentored me, something I wrote about in a former a couple years ago called InspiringInfluence. Much of who God grew me to be is from their generous investment into my life.  I’m overjoyed to have Michele share with us and challenge our hearts on our online home and I invite you to take some time to visit her at her online home, The Mrs. Pastor Blog.  I’m certain you’ll be sharpened and inspired in your time reading around there.   Heather

*I pray this post spoke to you. 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.*

About Little Bit About Michele

My name is Michele and my husband Steve and I have three beautiful girls.  Morgan, my oldest is married and works hard at whatever her hands set out to do. Lauren is an Elementary Education major at Oklahoma State University (our alma mater) and Kinsey just graduated High School and will be with sister at OSU seeking to major in Sports Media.  We are a Disney family….its our happy place.  It was a childhood memory of mine and I wanted it to be for my girls as well.  I also am a second grade teacher and have the awesome opportunity to make the classroom another ministry opportunity.

I am the “Mrs. Pastor”.  A dear friend gave me that nickname, and it just stuck with me.  I never wanted to have the label as “pastor’s wife” (even though I love my husband and am proud to stand beside him!).  I have my own identity, callings, giftings, and voice.  When I finally realized this, I had purpose.

We have served in ministry for 25 years.  We started off volunteering in college and were soon called to Coweta Assembly and have been here ever since.  We served as the youth pastors for 15 years, associate pastor for 2 years, and have been the lead pastors for 7 years.

We have been blessed to have so many people we consider family.  We have been blessed to have  mentored teenagers and then watch them grow into strong adults, couples, and parents.  We have been blessed that our children have been a part of one community their entire school years.

My giftings: teaching and prayer

My greatest improvement: confident leadership

My favorite involvement: praying over the people

My biggest hangup: talking during service

My enjoyment: reading (the word and novels)

My favorite woman speaker: It’s a tie….Pricilla Shirer and Joyce Meyer

My saddest memory: When my husband, Steve, was burned

My greatest wishto leave the greatest spiritual legacy to my girls….and they do the same for their children

My vision: to see a growing, thriving, loving, prospering, spirit-led, hungry-for-the-things-of-God, joyful, positive group of people who are prayed up and excited to be in God’s house each time the door is open.

My dream: to work side by side with my husband full time

My love language: I think I have two: acts of service and time

I’d love to hear from you.

The Mrs. Pastor

If you prefer Vlogs over Blogs ☺️…..

Here’s a YouTube link for you ❤️

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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Guest Post: Murder Couldn’t Kill God’s Love

*a special post from special guest Teresa Nichols*

February is known as the month of love so I wanted to share our story about God’s love.

God tells us over and over the importance of love, that no matter what we do for others, or in the name of God, if we do it without love in our hearts then it is nothing, He even gives a complete description of what Love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

getattachment

Teresa ~ a beautiful strong woman of God

Then He tells us His greatest commandment is to love Him, then to love one another.

Yet sometimes things happen that we don’t understand in this life and we want to shake our finger at God and say, “How can You say You love us?

I can’t, in any way, say I understand the ways of God. Why some live and some do not. But I can tell you I believe what John 10:10 tells us, that the enemy is the one who steals, kills and destroys. God tries to teach us how important it is to love one another, but no matter how much we feel we love others, it is nothing close to the magnitude of God’s love for each and every one of us.

I know this first hand—by the way God has shown His love for me through our tragedy. God began showing me His love through miracles and blessings that He poured out on our family as we regained our strength to stand again.

On March 28th of 2011 we made a move to Tulsa, Oklahoma from our small hometown in Iowa with our youngest son Ethan who was twenty, and his friend Casey, twenty-one at the time. Our little town had been quickly loosing businesses and unemployment was very high. My husband Scott left his job of thirty-two years so we could all have a new start in life. Our twenty-six-year-old daughter Leanne was already in Tulsa finishing her second year at Rhema Bible College.  We had prayed and asked God about making this move and He answered in a way that left no room for any doubt that we were to move.  This would be just one of the ways God showed us His love. 100_2233

Life was good. Within a month we all had jobs and were having a wonderful time. Along with jobs we had found the best places to play Frisbee golf, some favorite eating places, and a church home. We had all pretty much settled into our routines.

A short time later Ethan met an eighteen-year-old young woman named Carissa. We were all sure she would one day be his wife.

Their days consisted of Ethan working and Carissa’s studies in Music Composition at ORU. Their evenings and weekends were filled with exploration throughout the town’s parks. dscn3110

On September 18th 2011, six short months after moving to Tulsa, Ethan and Carissa went for a jog at Hicks Park. As the sun was setting, they were surrounded by two men with a gun. They were robbed and forced to their knees.   Then, they were both shot in the head.

Nothing could have prepared us. Our world stopped and we felt as if our hearts would stop too. There was even a time I wished mine would because with every beat came unimaginable pain. Nothing could stop it. The loss of a child is unbearable in its own, but to lose them in such a violent-senseless way made it so much worse. Even though we knew they were with God the very moment they left this world, it still couldn’t stop our pain.

Ethan had always known God and was baptized as a young boy. But as this beautiful woman of God came into his life he had grown to be a Man of God. They had built their relationship around God first, praying together before they had even spent time together face-to-face. They both had such a trust and love in God. Even when I would try to warn him to be careful he would look me in the eyes and say, “I have God what do I have to be afraid of?

At first there was just the heartache and sadness but then came the “WHYS” and there were so very many.

As my mind darted from one thought to another in sort of a random-scrambled way trying to make some sense of things, it seemed every thought was attached to a WHY.  Those whys were quickly followed by condemnation, guilt, and “IF ONLYS.

IF ONLY, we would have not gone to a movie that night. IF ONLY they hadn’t gone to that park. IF ONLY we hadn’t moved to Tulsa.

And it was the same for Scott.

It was the question about moving to Tulsa that God opened my eyes to first. One day as this why came to me again God reminded me, “Teresa, you prayed- I gave you a clear answer. Do you doubt Me now? How can you condemn yourself when the answer was so clear that you were to go?” With that I began to realize that Satan was using all the whys to pull us down, to try and fill us with guilt. But with that one truth I also realized God had already made sure we could not have guilt for that, He had covered us.

I knew I had to take authority over Satan and hold tight to God’s truth. For me the scripture Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”

When Satan would try to push the whys into my thoughts I would tell him to be gone in the name of Jesus Christ. I also knew I needed to stop asking why all together and just let it go. Once I stopped asking “why,” God slowly started giving me answers. They did not come all at once but steadily, as my heart needed them.

One day I was having an exceptionally emotional day, I longed to hold my baby boy and nothing seemed to help me get past that longing. I finally decided to go have lunch with Scott. Although we tried, comforting each other was really impossible. It just does not work when both you and your spouse are hurting so bad. Yes we knew we needed to be together, but you cannot pull someone out of the ditch that you are stuck in too. You can only hold them tight when they need it. But God will slowly ease you out, giving you time to heal before pulling you up a little farther. This kind of deep loss does not disappear. It has to go through stages.

On this day I really needed my husband to hold me, even if it was just for a few minutes. But as I left from lunch to drive back home I could feel the longing coming back strong.

I decided I did not want to go home to sit in the house alone so I stopped at a clothing store and decided to just look around a bit. I found a shirt I wanted to try on so I went into the dressing room to see if it would fit. When I came out of the room to look in the big mirror a woman came out of the adjacent dressing room with the same exact shirt on. We laughed a bit, then wound up in conversation, and I eventually shared about Ethan.

I could see the sadness in her eyes but there was something else too. As we walked out the door to the parking lot she asked if she could share something with me. She told me she was a prayer warrior and that she was getting ready to go next door to get a coffee, but God asked her to go try on some clothes. She tried at first to say she really didn’t need anything but she could feel Him telling her to go. She told me that she had been praying for me and our family since she saw the story on the news.

That obedient prayer warrior gave me confirmation that God was there with me. He knew I needed that particular encounter with this stranger to help give me strength to get through that rough day. What an amazing and wonderful God we have! 100_2498

This was not the only time God made sure I knew He was with me. There were many different ways and so many blessings as we went through the weeks. But it took me awhile to realize the biggest blessing He gave me.  It was not something that I noticed right away but it became clearer to me as we went through counseling. Through our counselor I learned that no two people ever go through the healing process at the same pace. I had to let Scott heal for himself and not try to push him to where I was or vice-versa. 100_2500

This is where I first realized I had no anger. Scott, Carissa’s parents, and many other people around me were very angry. I understood why they were angry but I couldn’t understand why I was NOT angry.

You see I, like many of you mothers out there, I am like a mother bear. You might come around and see me playing gently with my cubs, but the moment anyone threatens my kids in any way I become a furious fighting animal with claws out and teeth bared to protect them. It doesn’t matter how big or mean you may be, I would take you on in a second just to keep them safe. But I felt NO anger. Believe me I searched for it, but it was not there. Even at the preliminary hearing where I looked at the two murderers in the face for the first time there was not any anger.

You see I do not do anger well. It takes a bit of pushing to get me angry but when I do it is not good in any way. Then it is almost always followed but a tremendous let down, followed by tears and sadness. I know God knew I couldn’t handle anger so He took it from me. What a loving God! Because of this, forgiveness came easy for me and forgiveness must come in order to heal completely100_2938-2

This is just a small peek into of some of the ways God covered me throughout our time of loss. Even though my heart will always miss my baby boy my spirit leaps when I think of how God loves me. I wanted to share this with you so that you can see the love God has for each of us. He is always there reaching out to us. However, He is a polite and patient God. He will not push Himself upon us. We must invite Him in.

I ask you as we go through this month of love remember what God asks—love one another. There is no greater love than the love of our God.

A Little Thought From Heather:
The enemy has netted so many people out of their tragedies– they blame God and turn away instead of seeking Him for hope and healing. Teresa and Scott’s journey is an example of how hope and healing can unfold for those who choose to turn to God. A story that illustrates how much more powerful His love is than even the most unimaginable heartache. I am honored for Teresa’s willingness to share with us. I pray her words continue to strengthen our confidence and security in His mighty love.   Happy Valentine’s Day ❤ Heather

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I Lost My Pants!!!

“Ma’am, I’m sorry. Your driver’s license is faded and we can’t verify the security so we’ll have to screen you as if you didn’t have any identification.”

“Oh, no problem. I totally understand.” Well, yeah, that’s what I said on the outside, and I really did totally understand, but it didn’t stop me from searching for any ID that may serve as verification. You won’t be surprised to hear that while TSA may entertain your efforts when you pull out your Sam’s Wholesale Club Membership card, it won’t meet the need for identity verification.

In my mind I was thinking, “Unbelievable. I knew I should’ve brought my passport.” All the while proceeding up to the body scan.

“Ma’am, are you wearing a belt or do you have anything in your pockets? “

“No.”

“Okay, well we are going to have to pat you down…..” and on and on went the description of how intimate the TSA agent and I would be there in the middle of everyone shuffling out of the security check point. They are so polite and asked if I’d like a private screening room. I declined. It’d just take more time.

Again, those nonchalant words, “no problem.” Honestly, it really wasn’t. I had just experienced a thorough pat down last month when we went to El Salvador. What’s one more? Can’t say I’d like to put myself on a monthly sign-up, but I understood and appreciate the need for security.

The agent proceeds with her assessment, honing in on my right leg. As she pats and then rubs and then pats and then rubs she pauses and looks at me asking, “What is this?”

“Are you feeling the edge of my pocket?” I’m internally reasoning that these are skinny jeans and you can pretty much outline every crease and crevice. Somewhat agitated, or maybe it was simply confused, she pats and rubs again firmly restating the concerned location, “No, right here.”

“Oh, you are feeling my scar tissue. I am a burn survivor and my scars are not smooth like skin.” No big deal right?

Wrong.

“Ma’am, I am so sorry, but I have to take you to a private screening room.”

Once more, my reply, “No problem.”

We trudged on to the private screening room. And you know what happened. I was depantsed! I’m not sure that’s even a word. Probably not since it’s underlined red on my screen, but it’s something my kids say when Gavin tries to be funny and unexpectedly jerks Caden’s pants down to his ankles. (He gets in trouble for that by the way. Gracious that boy is ornery!)

While this may or may not be an occurrence in The Meadows’ Home on any given day, I certainly never fathomed the possibility of it happening to me at the airport! And on a time I was already bummed about traveling by myself! The true irony is found in what I said for the week preceding my trip, “I just have to put my big girl britches on and go,” never imagining for a second those big girl britches would be pulled down the minute I checked in!

So maybe it kind of was a big deal. But I really do understand the caution and I appreciate it.

Today, shuffling back through the security line, I again had the whole body scan. The agent asks, “Ma’am, do you have on a belt or anything in your pockets?” I replied, “No.” She explained the need for the pat down again offering a private screening room. I told her I have metal in my body from an old burn injury and also, that when she pats me down she’d feel scar tissue. She continued, took a wipe-down sample of my hands and sent me on the way after that little machine popped up the results.

Needless to say, it’s been a very humbling airport experience, this trip.

But humility seemed to be the overall theme while attending my first writer’s and speaker’s conference here.

See, I stepped way out of my comfort zone and pitched my book idea to a publisher and agent while I was here. It’s a whole new world to me of One Sheets and Book Proposals, but it’s what the Lord has nudged me to step into. Why, oh why?

I’m so happy being wife and mom. I’m so happy being a NICU nurse. I’m so happy having the opportunities to speak for special events. And I’m so happy, tucked away with you here in my tiny, tiny spot in the massive blogging world.

But the Lord is asking me to humble myself and ask you to help me (which by the way doesn’t feel nearly as humiliating as having someone pull my pants down—it’s all perspective, right?).

You see, what is between my message of hope and healing being published, and getting into the hands and hearts of people who need it, is a number. The number publisher’s and agent’s want to see is at least 10,000 people who are already a part of my audience, who follow my blog and interact with me through it.

My words to the publisher, “I’ll never do that.” She said, “Don’t say that. You never know. You can get your numbers up and come see me next year.” I replied, “That’s just not where my heart is.” It’s not about a number to me. It’s about personal connection with people. It seems oversimplified and maybe impersonal merely trying to reach a number, but numbers are people and my heart is for people—whether it’s at the post office, folding endless loads of laundry, working as a nurse or speaking at a church.

Friends, I’m not sure exactly what this whole writing/speaking journey will look like. I just know I’m suppose to be right where God wants me to be, taking my little steps of obedience as He leads.

Today, I got to keep my pants on (praise the Lord!) but I’m humbling myself and asking you to help me build these numbers. It feels like a stretch but I remember another 10,000 number I felt was completely unattainable—and it was – in human standards. The website.

HeatherMeadows.com had a $10,000 price tag on it just a little over a year ago, and the Lord moved on the hearts of a generous, precious couple and they gave it to us for free! And became special friends of ours!  Bonus! I’m thinking the Lord wants me to get something about this 10,000 number.

Thank you to those whom have given me the opportunity to come and speak for your schools, special events and churches. Your investment into me completely provided for me to come for this conference and gain development as a speaker and writer! I couldn’t have been here if it weren’t for you and I can’t go on without you!

I appreciate you so much!!!!

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 NIV ~ Thank you, Lord for new things and for making a way!

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Here are some fabulous sites to check out of some fabulous women I met at She Speaks. I feel deeply privileged to have learned and grown alongside them these last few days.

www.LiveaFastLife.com

www.jaynepatton.com

www.jessicastone.org

www.lisaonthecape.wordpress.com

www.notofmyself.com

www.susangreenwood.net

www.reneebollas.com

www.katelynquattlebaum.wordpress.com

www.micahmaddox.com

www.KarenGirlFriday.com

www.tfcmcallen.com

www.BethAnnForo.com

www.caradury.com

www.oldthingsnewblog.com

www.priscillasharrow.com

www.JulieKMcComas.com

www.westbowpress.com

Jacob’s Hope by Dr. Laura Sparks

Unique custom made jewelry by Chandra Holcomb.

www.DoANewThing.com

 

Encouraged in Heart, United in Love

We don’t have much of a schedule during the summertime. And we aren’t too concerned with the forecast. Since it’s most likely gonna be hot our wardrobe doesn’t venture too far from our swim attire.

With that being said, we’ve been delayed in hearing of recent events. It wasn’t until surfing social media that I realized of the events in Dallas. Honestly, as we were enjoying our British family’s visit, I wasn’t even aware of the situations in Louisiana and Minnesota.

To see my friends post concerns like “will my children be safe growing up in this country,” and others pointing to the realities of officers being shot yet we still share our plans of going to the lake or out to dinner, made me reconsider my intentions for this post.

When 9/11 happened I laid in bed and cried, more accurately bawled. My heart was so grieved. Brandon tried to understand my emotion. “Babe. I understand this was horrific, but you didn’t know any of those people.” I shared with him, “But I know loss. I know tragedy. And I’m devastated that so many people are hurting and will hurt for their rest of their lives from this evil.”

We protect our hearts when we resist the pain around us. Who wants to let the loss soak in? Who wants to attempt processing the senseless? Who wants to confront the reality of evil? Who wants to sign up for walking the long steps to healing if you’re not the one who was wounded? The truth is, if it doesn’t affect us directly, we rather avoid it entirely.

This post was intended to be the last one in my reflections of El Salvador. I’ve hesitated writing it, but the message it was to contain, while in light of current conditions, is still an appropriate one.

In our time there, we heard testimonies, over and over again, of people who had withstood unimaginable hardship. The message God spoke to my heart through each of them was His faithfulness. I’ve had the opportunity to hear many stories and I’ve had the opportunity to share my own many times, and it is the thread of His faithfulness that is sewn through them all. In El Salvador, in the United States, in the churches, in the families, and in our own personal lives, God is faithful. He will provide.

Another word that came to mind in reflecting on the week was “service”. From the moment we rose to the time we went to sleep our focus was on serving others. And it was our teenagers who illustrated this so beautifully.

So many times in our home Brandon and I have to point out when our children are being driven by selfishness. You know, when they keep score or demand justice. After correction and redirection we typically hear something along the lines, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” Of course they didn’t. We understand that they are developmentally, appropriately selfish. There’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just where they’re at developmentally. We are born only concerned about our own needs. How many babies care that they’re waking you up in the middle of the night or perhaps never let you go to sleep to begin with? This drive to survive sets the path for looking out for number one. As we grow and mature we realize it is so much more fulfilling to live a life beyond ourselves, to love and serve others. We’ve had a lot of help gaining that understanding and our kids need the same.

But this wasn’t an issue in El Salvador.  Nineteen teenagers went on our trip and I never one time heard complaining! Nor any arguing! These young people had the mindset of Christ- to serve others. It was beautiful and something to be encouraged by for this next generation.

Finally, I saw unity. The missionary overseeing our construction team was under the impression that our construction group was a team who worked together at home. The group consisting of eight men, two women and four teenagers demonstrated such unity that their work was smooth and efficient. The team accomplished far more than what was projected. It’s amazing what God can accomplish when His people are united!

By the end of the week, I had it in my heart to ask each member on our team three words they would use to describe their week. The only condition was they couldn’t use the words awesome, amazing or incredible. We all agreed those were given.

When we came home I sent the words to my precious friend, Sara, who is the talent behind all the graphic design work for our website and print material. She took the words and placed them in the shape of the country of El Salvador.

I invite you to read over them.

And as we leave today, I ask you join me in praying for our country. I pray our desire for unity withstands any evil attack of division. I pray we can be strong enough to allow the pain of others to enter our hearts and fuel our passion for healing. I pray we trust the Lord for His faithful Hand. I pray we see beyond headlines and see people, to see the soul God created and loves.  I pray for His guidance, direction, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and insight to flood the hearts and minds of our leaders and the citizens of this great nation.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 NIV

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el salvador

A Helping Heart

Have you ever been in a position where you needed help? It’s humbling isn’t it?

I think of my grandparents’ generation. They demonstrated immense work ethic. Something my generation, and the one after me, could be inspired by.

Along with that head strong, determined spirit to persevere and get the job done, came the resistance in allowing others to help.

I get it. It’s difficult to be in a place where we need help. It’s even more difficult to ask for it. But imagine with me being in that place of abandoned pride and emptied dignity, expressing your request for help, extending yourself in need only to be met with superiority.

It happens all the time actually. And it’s anything but helpful.

As disheartening as these situations are, the Lord can use them. And He used many encounters I had throughout the year to gear my mindset and heart for our mission trip. For instance, I learned a thing (or two, okay maybe three) about being helpful.

#1 I’ve learned that the best people to seek for help are the ones who either have been, or can at least imagine putting themselves, in my shoes. This is widely identified as compassion.

#2 I gained a personal lesson from my own humbled-heart-required experience, turned mortifyingly humiliating. What I gained from the heartache was a heart laced with something essential for missions—don’t focus on fixing, instead focus on serving, and know I’m just as in need as those I serve.

#3 I came to the realization of what one of our mission’s coordinators mentioned in conversation at the end of a meeting, “Helping isn’t helping unless it helps.” Helping isn’t about what we get out of it. Helping is all about what the person we’re serving gets out of it. It’s all about their need. We were reminded to show respect for the way things were done, follow the system in place trusting the process developed by those who have established it. We were only there for a week. There’s no way we could get the entire picture. We were there to serve, not get snagged by any arrogance that could come with doing it a better way. Truly help; don’t merely seek the self-satisfaction of what we feel helping should be.

Going back to last December when we made the decision and commitment to go on the missions trip—only two weeks later I had a friend ask me to go through the book Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren with her. The name alone may have been reason to run, but as seamlessly as I responded to Brandon when he said we needed to go on the trip, I found myself replying to her, “Absolutely!”

Well this book is no walk in the park. I mean who loves the thought of surrender? Even Christians singing, “I surrender all, all to Jesus I surrender,” hang onto a little bit of control. So as if surrender alone wasn’t challenging enough, let’s slap on the adjective dangerous.

I love how despite my planning (seriously, you should see our vacation itinerary—I might take the word planning to a whole different level- or extreme), the Lord drops His timing into my life. This book was so timely. It was a heart-check to make sure mine was beating in sync with His.

Here’s a bit of the evaluation….

As long as we refuse to look squarely into the mirror of God’s Word and get an accurate picture of ourselves, we actually do more harm than good. We must see ourselves, not as separate from others—better, more educated, more cultured, more sophisticated, more civilized, less sinful, less evil, less prone to violence, less likely to cause harm—but as identical to them in our capacity to do evil. Otherwise, we end up serving others from a position of pride, congratulating ourselves for our noble sacrifices rather than coming alongside a fellow stumbler and offering not our wholeness but our brokenness.

-Kay Warren, Dangerous Surrender, pg. 120

So there it is. There we are. Just as humbling as it is to need help, so as humbling as it should be to give it. Because….we are all in need. Our scenery and situations may look differently, but we’re all in the same boat.

I am incredibly grateful to the missionaries and the citizens who allowed us to serve, showing me how much I can be helped from being willing to help others with a helping heart. What a great place to be!

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (TLB)   What a wonderful God we have—He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the One who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.

—-If you would like to help with a financial gift to the ministries ministering in El Salvador, visit the following links:

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