Be BRAVE.

          2018. Four simple numbers. These numbers that add up to the next chapter in my book: life. Our lives are made of years, each year a chapter. Those chapters are full of moments and seasons. Seasons of joy, pain, growth and change. Life is measured by moments and memories. Happy (belated) New Year y’all! 2018 is my new chapter. We all hear “Happy New Year” the next word that comes to mind, is “resolutions”. Quite honestly, I’m sick and tired of New Year’s resolutions. (If you’ve been keeping up with my blogs the past 2-3 years, my first blog of 2016 was about resolutions and goals: “GO!”: A New Look at a New Year posted January 2016). I prefer to set goals and find new adventures, especially trying new things. Trying new things can be intimidating and scary but that’s what makes it fun and makes life beautiful too. So, I’ve heard many people now choosing a “word for the year” each year instead of “resolutions”. My friends and I have been doing this for a few years now. My dear friends on the She Matters Team were briefly discussing it last night at our meeting. The word I have picked and prayed over had been bouncing around in my brain and stirring in my spirit in the latest season of my life. My word I chose is BRAVE.
           BRAVE. Five simple letters. Bold, Radiant, Adventurous, Valiant, Endurance. These are words that just popped into my mind when I think of attributes related to bravery. The definition (according to Dictionary.com) of brave is “possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance”. When used as a verb, it states “to defy, challenge; dare”. I’ve always loved a challenge and growing up with boys I rarely turned down a dare. You better not tell me I “can’t” do something. To me, the word brave means stop letting things hold me back. Fear used to be something that crippled me but no longer has a place of residence in my life. Brave and bold to me means trying new things, new goals, new beginnings, new adventures, and new chapters. Stopping procrastinating and excuses. As a little girl who dealt with fear constantly… I dealt with anxiety, shyness (that was a very brief season in my life), and nervousness crippled me at times. I would find excuses and let things hold me back. When I was a teenager, the anxiety had weakened but depression was more on the forefront. I would get nauseous at the thought of getting up to speak or even sing in front of an audience. Fast forward ten years later, I speak and sing and teach all the time now. It’s as natural as breathing. I went through short periods of depression on and off throughout years, I’d be happy and cheerful on the outside but cry when I was alone. God conquered my fears and doubts with growing my faith. Fear and faith can’t exist in the same dwelling place. God has been teaching me throughout the last few years that change is a normal part of life. In the past few years, I graduated college, changed careers, lost loved ones, and blessed with a beautiful relationship with an amazing man who loves Jesus, laughed, cried, struggled and became more brave. Life is full of change. How we adapt to change is how we learn and grow.

          To me, in the latest season of my life “brave” means making changes and stepping out in faith: Two years ago, I left the retail and restaurant industry and went into child care, the world of early childhood education and preschool. Last year, I took a promotion as position of assistant director. I accepted a dream position of children’s director at my home church. Now, by the end of 2017 I had accepted a new job and a new direction at another child care center. Sometimes in life you have to step into uncertainty and trust in God’s direction when all you have is faith. In 2014, my last semester of college I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica: my first flight, my first mission trip, my first trip out of the country. On that trip, I was out of my comfort zone speaking Spanish, learning a laid-back culture, helping the poor and serving alongside brothers and sisters ministering through a church vbs and local church family. On that trip, I literally took a leap of faith and jumped off a zip line platform hundreds of feet in the rain forest canopy through the mountains and over the beaches in Jaco, Costa Rica flying about 40 mph about 600ft. What an exhilarating feeling! Crazy, scary, adrenaline-pumping, freeing and so much fun. Something I would have never known if I had let fear grip my life.

      So, being brave doesn’t have to mean zip lining through the rain forest. Brave could mean taking the initiative to do something different, to say hello to the neighbor or help someone who needs it, making better choices daily, making changes, taking a new direction. Anything that encourages adventure! So this year chase your dreams, knock out your goals with passion and fervor! Be FEARLESS! Don’t ask God to guide your footsteps if you aren’t willing to move your feet! You have to make the first step after seeking Him and praying, to step out. Sometimes being brave means having the courage walking away from something that was not meant for you. Sometimes being brave means facing whatever storm, for example battling cancer, head on like a warrior.  Whatever it may be (in light of resolutions and goals) going to the gym, grabbing a salad or fruit instead of that burger or candy bar, walking more places, start writing that book, start that blog (like I did), go back to school finish that degree, put down your addictions and habits one day at a time, travel to new places and adventures, apply for that dream job, go on a mission trip, don’t be a afraid to go on a date, pick up your bible and read it, take the time to cherish your family and friends, whatever it is! I’m knocking things off my bucket list in 2018! Be spontaneous. Be adventurous.

        Joshua, was one of the only two out of twelve young men who weren’t afraid of the so-called “giants” in the land that was promised to them. Joshua and his bestie, Caleb were leading the rest into uncertain territory. They gathered their armor and gear, all they knew is that God said this land was theirs and that He said go get it! I can’t imagine every thought, excuse that said nah man turn around but courage had set in. So I leave you with, Joshua 1:9 my verse for 2018 “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Be courageous, Be fearless, but always be faithful!

Be BRAVE.

With love, and the spirit of adventure,
-Heather 

A glimpse at a new hobby Wes and I found to do for a DIY date night: woodworking and engraving. [Joshua 1:9] 

I had already decided my “word for 2018” but just for fun one day I took this quiz and I kid you not, it confirmed what I already knew: my word was BRAVE. Listed below is a screenshot but go to www.dayspring.com/yourwordquiz

Once again, Happy New Year! #2018 

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A Time for Thankfulness in a Season of Hope (The Hope of Christmas Part 1)

A Time for Thankfulness in a Season of Hope
(The Hope of Christmas Part 1)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” we hear it and see it everywhere but do you feel it? This is the time of year we all get extra sentimental and remember to be “grateful”, “thankful”, and full of “Christmas cheer” as if we should be reminded. I’m a sappy and sentimental gal on the regular anyway, so when Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year all roll around cue the Hallmark movies, old traditions and memories and here come the waterworks! I just can’t help it!

As we just passed Thanksgiving last Thursday, a time for plenty of food, family time trimmed with the fixings of the Macy’s Parade, football, and Black Friday shopping game plan. Thanksgiving is a special time we recognize as a national holiday to be extra thankful. But yet should we have to be reminded to be grateful for things we take for granted? A full feast: thankful for the food we have to put on our table and in our stomachs. A place to call home and gather with family and make memories.

Each day whether it’s November or not, THANKSGIVING should be a day-to-day celebration of gratitude. Do you have groceries in your fridge and pantry? Check. Do you have clothes and shoes to wear? Check. Do you have a roof over your head and a bed to sleep in? Check. Running water to shower, cook, clean and electricity to use? Be thankful to have bills to pay, as hard as it may be to make ends meet, you have the basics. Do you have a family to come home to, or loved ones to gather together with? Check. Do you have a job to make a living? Check. Do you have a vehicle or some sort of transportation? Check. Did you wake up this morning with breath in your lungs and a heartbeat in your chest? If you are reading this, then YES you have so much to be thankful for. Even though there are days, weeks, and months that are really difficult in your year and in your life, every given moment is actually a gift. It IS called the present.

As we go into the Christmas season, let us not get “wrapped up” in the busyness of it all that we forget why we do all these things. Yes, Christmas is fun and magical and usually brings out the kid in all of us, unless your like the Grinch or Mr. Scrooge….then we need to pray and sprinkle a little on cheer on you! Let’s be honest we know the holidays can bring out the best of the stress in all of us at times! But no matter how much house cleaning, decorating and food preparation, gift buying and wrapping, parties, plays, and gatherings there are; there is still something special about this time of year. No matter what kind of year you’ve had, hopeless suddenly becomes a little more hopeful. Lights on the trees and in people’s eyes seem to shine a little brighter. People are generally alot nicer this time of year too! There’s something about Christmas that brings out the inner child in all of us. That child-like faith Jesus spoke of.

As we go into the season, remember that HOPE does exist. The people of Israel were waiting for a Messiah, this promise they had heard of for many years. Some still believed, while others had lost hope. Hope came to a dark, captive world in the form of a tiny baby born in a stable in a small town on a quiet night. This is why we restore our joy at CHRISTmas, a renewed hope that a Savior would one day come. That love came down from heaven to earth when Jesus was born. Let Christmas remind you that hope is never far away.

With that being said, over the next 4 weeks leading up to Christmas…I’m starting a short series of Christmas blogs….we’re calling it “The Hope of Christmas”. So read, reflect, and share the hope with others! Next blog coming at ya next Friday!

 

Tis the season y’all!

your sister, Heather

 

Women of the Word: A Series of Women of the Bible and Their Stories

Have you ever wondered how it must have felt to be woman or girl living in Biblical times? Society and the world in general were much different. Customs and cultures were different. Family, your work, and your faith meant everything; much like it does today. Women however weren’t mentioned as much in ancestry and genealogy throughout the Bible because names and inheritance were passed down through fathers to sons. Women’s opinions and leadership weren’t discussed near as much, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a voice or leadership. There are many women in the Bible mentioned by name for their role they play in important, life-changing, historical events in the Bible. After all, without mothers who gave birth how would any of us be here?

Too many times throughout history, there’s a common misconception of the past that women were “to be seen and not heard”. In my humble opinion, I’ve seen numerous stories of women in the Bible and throughout the course of history worldwide that have challenged that stigma and rumor because they were called by God to make a change someway somehow. So we are going to take a little journey back through time and into the hearts and minds of women and girls who walked those same dusty roads that Jesus did. The women who walked, talked, and did life together with their husbands like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob-just to name a few! Scripture itself says God created woman to be a helpmate to man; neither inferior nor superior. Genesis 2:18 says “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Ladies, we were handcrafted carefully and uniquely by God. He doesn’t make mistakes; He saw that everything He made was good. He makes beautiful things, with beautiful purposes. So in this next series we are going to explore the depths of each of these women’s hearts. To walk in her shoes, or sandals so to speak. To feel what she felt. To know her story, not just her name.

Each devotional narrative will include an introduction to the chapter/book of the Bible, such as the setting, cultural context, and character as well as characteristics and virtues in her (or that describe her), perspective-telling her story from her own point of view-her hopes, her dreams, her fears, her struggles, her lessons learned, and most importantly her faith. Each section will highlight three aspects: Her Hope, Her Story, Her Prayer, and reflection/prayer with reflection questions, Scripture based guided prayer points just for you! Get ready to dig into the Word through the eyes and hearts of women who lived it!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: JANUARY 2017, WE BEGIN OUR SERIES!

-Your Sister in Christ,
Heather

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Moments of Miracles: Living With Everyday Enthusiasm

Moments of Miracles: Living With Everyday Enthusiasm

This is a reflection of life’s littles and bigs.

Every day is full of moments. Moments are made up of minutes and seconds. Minutes and seconds are what make up our lives. But our lives aren’t founded upon and latched to minutes and seconds, but laid upon the foundation of moments. And sometimes it’s small miracles that make a difference between a minute and a moment.

What is a miracle? The definition of miracle is described in three different but similar terms: 1) a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency, 2) a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences, 3)an amazing product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.

Miracles are beautiful wrapped in the ordinary and the extraordinary paper. Miracles can be beautiful and frightening at the same time, something that takes our breath away or shocks us so much we can’t even explain. That’s the point, miracles can’t be explained. Life itself can’t be explained. It’s beautiful, yet frightening because it’s the “fear of the unknown” that holds people back. I’m quite guilty of it at times. To me, I’d rather live life as “why not?!” instead of “what if?”.

As my 26th birthday just passed a month ago in March; I always get a bit more reflective, adventurous and sentimental than usual. Last year when I turned 25, to me it was more of a big deal than 18 or 21. An age where you really start to see your life shaping up around based on the decisions you make, responsibilities you face, values you hold on to, and the memories you make. I love living for Jesus, and because of Him I am a one who gives it my best to live without fear and be adventurous. Experience. It’s been said (although I can’t remember who said it) “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away”.Therefore one of my motivations is my bucket list! I don’t let this “checklist” control my life like we can with our “to do lists” day-to-day. I let it push me and motivate me, when I feel like I’m not doing well to my own standards or my “imagined” standards of other’s opinions of me (which I know and we all should Who’s opinion and standards truly matter-my Heavenly Father’s), or when I feel stuck in a rut and discouraged with where I am in life, or even when I just feel up for adventure or something purposeful…I look at my bucket list for motivation, to reflect on the accomplishments and places that God has already brought me to and through. I can’t help but get excited! This is what I call living with everyday enthusiasm.

What is “everyday enthusiasm“? To me that means, having a reason to get up out of bed in the morning when I wake up, to thank God for letting me open my eyes and draw another breath into my lungs. By enthusiasm, I don’t mean the chipper and cheesy, oh-so-annoying perky morning person that drives everyone crazy with their sunshine and rainbows. (I have been guilty). It means to simply CHOOSE JOY. Joy is a daily thing, like taking a daily prescribed medicine or a multivitamin. We have to choose it each day. Happiness is circumstantial and temporary, joy is eternal and solid. Our happiness can be tested, or change. Joy is something we choose in spite of circumstances. Once you have joy, and set mind and heart on it-IT CANNOT BE TAKEN AWAY. Circumstances like: devastating news, a breakup, a lost loved one, a grim diagnosis of cancer or another aggressive illness, a divorce, job loss, loss of a friendship, or simply sometimes just a bad day. But a bad day does not mean you have a bad life. Circumstances could be on the opposite end of the spectrum too: the little things in life that bring us joy: a long chat with one of your best friends, your favorite song on the radio with the sun shining and windows down, sitting on a porch swing, driving your truck down a dirt road, your favorite fishing spot, that endorphin high from a great workout or that extra mile on your run, your favorite kind of coffee in your favorite mug curled up with your Bible or a good book, a little bit of good news from a friend or family member, a sweet hug or smile, a high-five from a little kid, or just a random act of kindness from a kind stranger. Those are what I call “moments of miracles”. The things we take for granted, memories and everyday moments. Miracles are everywhere in the world around, we can look outside at God’s creation and see it!

But what about those circumstances in life that call for major miracles? I recently went to the theater and saw “Miracles from Heaven” on Easter Sunday with my parents. The movie is about a young girl about 9 years old who gets very sick with an intestinal disease and there is no cure. The story is one that follows her and her family (two sisters, mom, and dad) through her illness and how one crazy turn that could’ve been catastrophic actually was the miracle they had been praying and searching for. The young girl falls 30 ft into a hollow tree which could’ve killed her, yet she is healed from her disease! Sometimes circumstances, the good along with the bad and sometimes downright painful leave us begging for relief: some type of miracle. Some lose their faith or at least struggle with it. Others gain faith that they need even knew they needed or wanted. It teaches us. It strengthens us and weakens us all at the same time if that even makes sense in our human minds. I know friends and family members right now in need of major miracles and serious prayer. Prayer and faith can move mountains. Miracles-the unexpected and unexplained. So I simply leave you with this-find your joy, seek and pray for your miracle or one for someone you love, choose to live your life with “everyday enthusiasm”, see the miracles in every moment. Choose JOY. Be grateful, and always Be HOPEful.

With joy,
your sister in Christ

Heather

What Drives You & Who Defines You by Heather H.

“What Drives You and Who Defines You?”

What defines you? Who defines you? Is it what you do that makes you who you are? You can be a doctor, lawyer, model, teacher, artist, musician, scientist, entrepreneur, manager, mom, daughter, dancer, grandmother, or anything. We each wear multiple hats, because as women let’s face it…we are the queens of multitasking! Let’s just be honest for a minute, we could probably run circles around our male counterparts and coworkers backwards and in high heels! But of each role we play in our busy lives, every role is important but these roles aren’t what defines you, the real you. These are things that drive you, these challenge to strive to better and thrive to do what you know you have been called to do. Do you ever wonder why you feel so driven by and drawn to these certain passions?

You could be a lover of the classics, with a creative force inside you that can’t be tamed. You may have an eye for color or the aesthetics of natural beauty whether it’s abstract or not. You find beauty in everything, especially details. Maybe you were born to be an artist using your God given talents and passions for a great and beautiful purpose. God is the maker of beautiful things, what a great way to glorify Him! You could have a distinct style and eye for fashion, you know what works and what doesn’t. You know how to match together a coordinated ensemble just with the snap of your fingers…and boom! You’re a fashionista! You could be called to be a famous designer. What could possibly be a better way to share about true beauty and modesty than using your inner passion for fashion? Do you have a love for science and how things work? Or what about a fascination with how the human body works? You may have the intelligence it takes to study medicine. Combine that with a love for people and wanting to help save lives, maybe you were born to be a doctor! God still works miracles in many ways, He might use you! Do you have a nurturing touch and giving heart that loves to care for others? You could be a nurse! If you have a passion for teaching others and helping them learn to grow, you could be a teacher! You may have a passion for debating and proving the right thing, and a way of creative crafting your words into solid logic. You can confidently defend what you know because you’ve done your homework and want to preserve justice. Maybe you were born to be a great lawyer.

You may have a heart and call in your to be in ministry! If God calls you to teach or preach, then you go forth in that boldness to proclaim the Gospel! Ministry isn’t just in the church, or just being a “pastor”. God can use girls and women just like you, for anything! You may be called and prepared in your heart to be a loving mother and godly wife one day, or you may already be a wife and mother and want to grow more. You may be an elderly lady, a seasoned and experienced woman of virtue and integrity that can pour wisdom and discernment to ladies of this generation. Don’t put ministry in some type of sterotypical box, or believe that their is some cookie-cutter form of a career! Just like every woman and girl is created differently; your life, your purpose, and your dreams are all different! Guess what else?! It’s okay to not have it figured out! Life is part of a beautiful unfolding plan. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; plans for a hope and a future not for destruction.” When the prophet Jeremiah wrote this, the Israelites were in a time of captivity and exile. They felt stuck and trapped, and felt as if they had been waiting forever for something to happen! God kept His promises, and He still does! He will use the waiting period to prepare for the big things He has planned for you. It’s who you are in Christ that defines you, not what you do…what you do is what drives you to be all that He has called you to be! Go ahead girlfriend, walk in your purpose!

-In Christ Love, your sister Heather

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