Happiness Doesn’t Happen

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

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

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

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Heather, what more could make you happy?

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

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

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

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

Healing Words in the Emptiness of Tragedy

I’m deeply grateful for the open doors to share our story and the hope and healing I pray readers receive through it. Over the last couple of months I’ve been given the honor of being a guest on a few different sites. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

Here is one of them—a piece I wrote for Susan Greenwood’s site, Not of Myself. I met Susan attending a speaker/writer conference last year. I hope you hop on over to her site to read the article and peak around to see all the wonderful contributions Susan is making through her online home.

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

“Don’t talk to Schultz like that,” my bossy three-year old self snapped at my six foot four inch three hundred pound father after he scolded our beagle dog for causing a near fall.  Granted, when tall people fall, they have a long way to go, which understandably, could have been bad.  But Dad’s response seemed completely unjust to me and I didn’t have any hesitation expressing it.

While that very early encounter of expressing myself so naturally may appear as a simple scenario in needing to correct a child, it was actually much more.  The minor incident was an indication of how well I connected with my feelings and how effective I was in being able to communicate them.  This was a critical component in the days that lie ahead.

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

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The Burns That Revealed My Beauty

A highlight for 2016 was writing a guest post called “The Burns That Revealed My Beauty” for Lightmakers, a website featuring stories to connect, heal and inspire.  

Before the year was over, I wanted to share the piece with you.

Thank you for being a part of our online family.  

All the best to you & yours in 2017- 

As a child I used to stand in front of the full-length antique mirror in my room and study myself.  After much evaluation I would ask, “Mom, am I pretty?” Deep down I wanted her to answer with a simple, “yes,” but instead I always got, “Heather, beauty comes from the inside.”

I gathered my earliest opinions of beauty as many young girls do; from Miss America pageants, beautiful women showcasing game show prizes, and grocery store checkout line exposure to the covers of numerous magazines featuring flawless bodies.

Beauty was all surface, merely skin deep. This philosophy is typical of a child who only has the capacity to think concretely, to only know what can be seen, felt or touched. But beauty, I learned, is much more obscure. Beauty must be discovered.

……….Read The Rest of The Story at Lightmakers.org

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Abandoning the Imperfections

Let’s talk about comfort zones. Or risk zones. Or danger zones. I feel like there are signs regarding all three just sitting here composing this post.

The thing is, I’m willing to stretch myself to share my experiences, feelings and thoughts to encourage others as the Lord directs me, (see that comma? It’s the contingency mark to this situation), I’m willing to stretch myself as long as it’s not too far outside the comfort zone and as long as I don’t merge over the line into any risk or danger. Let’s keep it relatively safe and dignified.

Well, I’m nearly one hundred words into this and there’s a photo attached, therefore, I’m already very much outside the comfort zone.

Over the last fourteen days my requests for the Lord to speak the next post into my heart have returned quite silent. I wanted to set this particular one on the back burner and share it another day. Okay. Possibly never. It wouldn’t be the first post I’ve written that I never published. But above my dignity is my desire for Him to use this blog to encourage and inspire others when they need it most. In order to receive the next one, I must be obedient to share this one. This post is my abandonment of self for His glory. This post is my David-moment, dancing with all my might.

2 Samuel 6:14-15, 20-22
Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

For most of my life I dreamed of the day when medical advancements would remove my scars. In nearly three decades, that day hasn’t come.

In that time I’ve given much effort to covering my body and hiding my scars. No matter how many years and how much I’ve grown I’ve never got used to people staring. For the most part, when people see me they don’t notice my scars too terribly much because of my clothing. Actually, some don’t realize the extent of my injury. Until…..

Until I wear a swimsuit.

My backyard is a safe place surrounded by people who know me and love me, and while yes, they do obviously see my scars, they see me first. A public place is just the opposite. People don’t know me, therefore, they see the scars first. The looks could be categorized as curious or puzzled, but the expression I receive is negative and uncomfortable.

I’ve even experienced a couple individuals sharing those very thoughts with me. One random lady came up to me in the grocery store asking if she could pray with me for the Lord to take my scars away. Another was a man who went to our church attributing my scars to a lack of faith. I think Taylor Swift could have also been inspired by the super-spiritually-detached when she sang Shake It Off. In those situations there’s nothing else to do. Just go your separate ways picturing Olaf in your mind when he said, “he’s crazy.” (You should totally click here and watch the short clip.)

These instances explain why a baggage of inhibition accompanies me every time I put on a swimsuit, including recent events when our beach-loving family went to Hawaii for this year’s vacation. But as if it wasn’t enough to merely go in my swim shorts and tankini, the Lord challenged me with my very own David-moment….take pictures in a TWO PIECE!!!

And that’s only one part of the story (as you know, there’s always more than one part).

The other is that it is October. It’s been a couple months since this body has seen sun, especially my torso! So there I was, out on the beach for the first four days of our vacation, for the very first time in my entire life wearing a two-piece in public! While there was never any strolling along the beach, I was jumping hurdles of insecurities just sitting there in my lounge chair.

The third part of the two-piece swimsuit challenge was the day we actually took the photos. We got to the location and snapped a few photos in my dress. Nice, peaceful, no-people-around place. No. Not a soul. God honoring my obedience, right? Well, maybe Him challenging me more. It’s the only reason I can conclude as to why the moment that I was just pulling my dress off here came a wedding party! A WEDDING PARTY!!!! You’ve got to be kidding me! Talk about a test of commitment. I nearly bailed. And nearly vomited.

So why do it?

While I was incredibly inhibited I envisioned the image as a very powerful illustration of not only survival, but of overcoming. The Lord put it in my heart to share these scars for the power they portray. His power. There is a story in them. A story not about me but all about the evidence of His faithfulness.

This location the photographer chose with the black rocks and crashing waves made me feel brave. Brave enough to stand there and share my vulnerability, the imperfections I prefer to hide believing there are others who relate to doing the same thing. Believing that God truly can place some beauty in what’s damaged.

We have so many things about ourselves that we don’t like, but that we can change. It gives us ambition, hope and joy pursuing self-improvement. But what about the things we can’t change?

I’m not happy with my body, but I’m happy with me. Growing up damaged on the outside motivated my development of who I am on the inside. My goal was for people to see me, not my scars. When we’re standing in an elevator, or the grocery line, or even at the pool, people merely see our shell. And we know, the pretty shells are the ones we search for on the beach. No, I’m not happy to have scars. I don’t love my body. But I am happy and love who God has made, and is still making, me to be. It is possible to be happy, even in what we can’t change.

This was one of the most uncomfortable and yet most meaningful things I’ve ever done. It felt serene. It felt sacred.  It felt liberating.

It’s my hope this speaks a message to your heart, like what it spoke to another girl on the beach. Brooklyn was quite aware of the unwanted attention during my time tanning. One afternoon she came to walk the short distance with me from the chair to the water. I noticed her effort in blocking my view walking into the ocean. I said, “Thanks Brook. You’re amazing.” She replied, “I think you’re amazing.” Is it because I am, and have been, amazing? No. She of all people knows that’s not true. I think it had more to do with the courage to be seen when I really wanted to hide.  That’s a message I’m honored to live out before my kids.

For fellow burn survivors, those with psoriasis, vitiligo, rosacea, surgery scars, breast reconstruction, varicose veins, stretch marks, and any other imperfection, take it from my daughter, you’re amazing! And you feel nothing less in your own David-moment glorifying the God who brings you through it! This photo is for you.

*thank you to Anthony Calleja for his talent and heart in capturing this message
*thank you to Athleta for swim wear for all women, for everyday-life women
*The song I sang during these moments- You Make Me Brave

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in….
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

Mark your calendar to join me for a Women’s Night at Coweta Assembly of God on Sunday November 6th at 6pm as we dig in to the words we need to receive, repeat and those we need to rebuke in order to walk in the label the Lord has given us. All are welcome to attend. And if you know a teenage girl, bring her along too!

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The Other Side of Failing

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

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

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

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

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

Let me give a short back-story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bless you!

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

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Held On for Sweet Success!!!!

 

Distractions

In June 2010 my husband and I traveled to New York for a six-day vacation to celebrate our 11th anniversary in the Big Apple. It was a special time spent together touring touching places like the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the World Trade Center site and Ellis Island. We crammed all we could into our opportunity there. One thought consistently crossed my mind as we traveled about the city; God knew each and every individual we passed.

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The Trinity Root — a beautiful story; see hyperlink. Sculpted from the Sycamore Tree that protected St. Paul’s Chapel on 9/11.

click here to learn more about The Trinity Root Sycamore Tree

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St. Paul’s Chapel is the the only surviving church in New York of the Revolutionary era, is the oldest continuously used building in New York and served as a sanctuary for 9/11 recovery workers. I was so moved to see this sign, and deeply proud to be an Oklahoman.

Perhaps being from a small town contributes to the fascination I have in looking at numerous different faces in big cities. I had these same thoughts years ago when traveling in Europe with my high school. This obviously continued into my adulthood.  Even on our family Disney trips I’ll save parade spots and just “people watch.” But something about standing in Time Square with the massive digital signs, towering buildings, commotion of traffic and diversity of people amazed me there was not a familiar face around, but there was to my Heavenly Father. He created each and every one of those individuals and He knew each and every one of their names and their stories. But did they know Him? And if not, what kept them from knowing a God who loves them so?

The opinions and assumptions to those questions could be as numerous as the faces I’ve seen. But it’s a thought that leads me right to my own backyard. And my answer goes right back to the Big Apple.

Parents desire to impart to their children what is most important to them, and for us, our faith is the foundation of our home, of our life. So what could possibly keep our children from clinging to the faith we are so dedicated? Distractions. At times, it’s like having massive digital signs, towering buildings, commotion of traffic all right here in our living room. Even things that seem good can be a distraction from the goodness God has in store. Things like friends, relationships, school, beauty, and popularity to name a few.

You may be wondering, “Where did this come from?” Well, this comes from my current experiences with raising our teenage daughter. There are continual discussions around our kitchen table after the boys go to bed. And although I light heartedly say I’ll need a vacation after she is raised, it is nothing but true how incredibly exhausting it is to reiterate and use her current life situations to illustrate the principles and values we have spoke into her life from the beginning. But one thing I know for sure, I know we will look back and be assured that we gave it our all.

Our greatest tool is talking. I can’t count how many times she has said, “Hmm. Well, I never thought about it like that.” WHY??? Because she is thirteen. Our kids need our help in such a big way, because they are encountering life with no life experience. And maybe their experiences and challenges are different from our experiences and challenges. What do we do then? We pray. We discuss what God’s Word says. We ask for wisdom.

For instance, I never considered the challenges beauty could bring to one’s life until now. My experiences were quite different from my daughter’s. Nevertheless, could still be as equally destructive.

In this self obsessed culture of social media and “selfies,” it is easy to see how a young woman could become fogged with the presentation of her package over the contents of her heart, her character, her talents and her mind. It is obvious that an emphasis on appearance and continual peer approval can inflate a young girl’s ego. Have you ever encountered a person who is more concerned with the attention they get than any depth of devotion? This paves the way for shallow relationships and narcissistic behavior.

Sometimes we are puzzled with questions of confidence. But is it their confidence that some girls struggle? Or is their beauty their feeling of control or their source of experiencing a little power? We’ve observed it in the business world, but how about in the school halls?

Inversely, there are beautiful young women who are innocent of their appearance. Their abilities could be disregarded as just a pretty face. Flattery words could be mistaken for genuineness. Expressions of affections could be incorrectly received as sincere. This results in damaging their security in order to feed someone else’s ego.

As much as I longed to hear the complimentary words of others, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I was never distracted by such, but rather forced to dig deep to find my beauty. Silencing the voices of flattery was never an issue in my life; silencing the voices of ridicule was. But the latter made me aware of a beauty that will never age or wrinkle, and that is beauty of the heart.

We may not be standing in Time Square, but there is plenty of commotion; there are plenty of distractions. We know them by names like twitter, instagram, phones, and school, to name a few.

May you be blessed as you guide your precious daughter to be who God has called her to be; in all the noise, may she hear His voice.

Keeping it real with our girls……

Psalm 12:3 NIV May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue.

Proverbs 7:21 NLT So she seduced him with her pretty speech and enticed him with her flattery.

Proverbs 26:28 NIV A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Proverbs 28:23 NLT In the end, people appreciate honest criticism
 far more than flattery.

Proverbs 29:5 NLT To flatter friends is to lay a trap for their feet.

Romans 16:17-18 NIV I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

Proverbs 31:30 NLT Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.

Celebrating our daughter's #13 in March 2014. May she bring God glory.

Celebrating our daughter’s #13 in March 2014.
May she bring God glory in her beauty and heart.

 

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