There She Goes…Dreaming Again. {a release and preview from the newest She Matters Journal}

There She Goes…Dreaming Again.

Have you ever had a dream? Not the kind that wakes you up at 2am or even the kind of fairy tale wishes like we dream up when were kids (thanks Disney, for making us all wish on stars). But a real, raw gut-wrenching, sparks a fire in your soul, and pulls at every nerve and fiber in your heart kind of dream? You can’t sleep, can’t think straight until you express it on paper or share it with someone, like a well-kept secret bubbling over and bursting at the seams. That kind of dream. According to Google, there are many different definitions. There are three that stood out to me: 1) an involuntary vision occurring to a person when awake. 2) A vision voluntarily indulged in while awake; daydream; reverie. 3) an aspiration; goal; aim: I love the emphasis on voluntary and involuntary, because sometimes your dreams take ahold of you and sometimes you have to grab ahold of them. An aspiration, a goal, a vision. Well for me, there was a dream that began a little over two years ago for me and has not let go of me ever since…all thanks to God.
This “dream project” or “vision” is something that God laid on my heart in the spring of 2015. He has not let me shake this idea loose from my heart or mind. After much prayer and a leap of faith that started as a small platform, I launched a blog ministry called “Hope for Her Heart” in June 2015. I have found that launching a blog to share and encourage others is the best way to express myself and spread the hope. What hope you ask? The hope found in Jesus Christ. The verse that God laid on my heart just kept whispering to me when I would try to lie down at night and it would keep me awake. I would be at work and daydream; it was a constant thought running through my mind. Hebrews 6:19 states, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.” In this world, our hearts are hungry and our souls are searching. But for what? Something or someone to believe in, whether we realize it or not. The stranger on the street at the stoplight, the next door neighbor, the classmate behind you in your college, the girl whose locker is next to yours who gets bullied, the busy mommy with two toddlers in the Wal-Mart check-out line, the mom in the home room class who has PTA duty with you, the widowed elderly woman, the broken runaway pregnant teenager, the war-torn veteran struggling with PTSD, or even the family who sits on the same pew as you every Sunday. Each person has a story to tell, and each person needs someone to hear them. Searching for hope, something sacred, strong, and secure to hold onto. The Word itself says we have hope as an anchor for the soul. That hope is in Jesus, He’s sure and steadfast. He’s the one who tore the veil so we could enter His presence.
What defines you? Who defines you? Is it what you do that makes you who you are? You can be a doctor, lawyer, aunt, teacher, sister, musician, scientist, entrepreneur, manager, mom, daughter, coach, grandmother, or anything. We each wear multiple hats, because as women let’s face it…we are the queens of multitasking! Although multitasking can sometimes lead to overwhelm. 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 define you, the real you. These are things that drive and challenge you, 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?
Maybe you were born to be an artist using your God-given talents and passions for a great and beautiful purpose. 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. 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? (See Erica’s story “Rags to Rubies” pg. )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 and dedication 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 and grow, you could be a teacher! Has anybody ever told you that you’re “argumentative”? Use that feistiness for good! 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.
There once was a man in the Old Testament, who was made fun of and called a dreamer by his own family. This man was Joseph. We see his story in Genesis as a young boy unfold into the plans that God unveiled before him in his dreams. The boy who dreamed became the man who lived out those dreams and visions. His own brothers resented him because of his God-given gift of prophetic dreams and interpretations, they hated him even more when they found out that he would be in authority one day. Joseph was beat up and picked on, thrown into a pit and left for dead, sold into slavery, and then his father was told he was dead. He was a slave, then a head servant, accused and thrown into jail, then set free only to become right hand man to the king. Through it all, Joseph remembered and never lost sight of his dreams.
Our dreams change throughout our lives as we grow and change. When I was a little girl I dreamed of being an Olympic figure skater or gymnast, and I had never taken gymnastics class or been on the ice at the point in my life. There was just something so graceful and fun about gliding or flying through the air. I also dreamt of being a country music star when I was little girl and that dream stayed with me well into my high school and early college years (probably because I fell head over heels in love with my guitar at 15 years old!). I wanted to go to college in Nashville and make in the music city. I still love music, I singing and playing but my dreams have changed obviously. I dreamed of being a fashion designer when I was about 10 years old, part of that dream became real when I designed my own pageant dress my sophomore year of high school for our Miss Falcon Pageant. But once again, my dreams changed. I never had a set plan or idea of what I wanted to do with my life at the pivotal time every teenager is excited for and nervous for at the same time…graduation! I knew I was going to college, but really who has it all figured out at 18 years old what they want to major in and do for the rest of their lives?! Not this girl! My dreams changed and my majors changed with them! I went from wanting to pursue a music career by majoring in music, to wanting to be a teacher pursuing music education (combining the two passions), then on to elementary education, but somehow one summer my heart and mind changed. It was the first summer I became a camp counselor at Camp Robinson, I was 19 years old. I had eight young girls in my care and counsel, to pray over them and play and guide them spiritually. I was at the altar praying over my kids and the camp deans, our local pastors were praying over us as counselors and said “if you feel the Lord calling you to ministry in your heart we’ll pray for you.” I felt the Lord whispering to me “You want to be a teacher; I want you to be a different kind of teacher.” Ministry is my first calling and passion, teaching is my second. So at age 20, I started at Columbia International University studying Youth Ministry and Family Culture, and a Bible degree. After many years of student teaching, volunteering, ministering, camp counseling, discipling and hanging out with kids and teens…I graduated in 2014. I have been a preschool assistant teacher, lead toddler teacher, and now an Assistant Director at a child care center. I am now currently serving as the Interim Children’s Director/Youth Director at my church. When I let my dreams and desires of my heart fall into God’s hands, I get to pursue both of my passions: teaching and ministry.
You may have a calling in your heart 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. Your ministry is your family! Maybe you’re an elderly lady, a seasoned and experienced woman of virtue and integrity that can pour wisdom and discernment to ladies of this next generation. Don’t put ministry in some type of stereotypical box, or believe that there is some cookie-cutter form of a career! Ministry is what you make it, the mission field is everywhere. As my friend Megan once said “Ministry is not a scary word!” No matter where you are in your, whether you think your mediocre minimum wage job as a cashier at the grocery store or Chick-Fil-A like I was; you make such a difference in the way you carry yourself and interact with others. You make that being a stay at home mom, or a caretaker of an elderly loved one that your “job” isn’t a big deal or that it will change the world. Guess what? You are making a difference in your loved ones life by compassion and care. And yes you little mama, you are responsible for shaping and forming the mind and protecting the heart of your little flock-your children. You’re ministry has already begun; God starts it from day one we just have to meet Him in the middle of our mess to realize it. I encourage you to step into your mission field every day with boldness!
God promises in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The dreams and desires that He plants in your heart, the Holy Spirit soaked ambition that’s encoded in your DNA is what HE uses to fulfill HIS purposes, all part of His greater plan. A plan greater than one we can devise for ourselves. Your goals and dreams that you set for yourself maybe well equipped, detailed, and thought out however, if we don’t put our dreams and desires in God’s hands instead of our own then they are in vain.
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 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 you 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! (*snap snap*)

So now it’s your turn…here’s your chance to write down your dreams and chase them! Here are some questions for your heart and mind.

Write Your Story (for a little added inspiration, check out one of my favorite songs “Write Your Story” by Franscesca Battastelli)

*What are some of your dreams you have for your future?

*What are somethings you dreamed of being as kid? What did you want to be “when you grow up”?

*What is the one thing you wish you could just turn over to God and let Him have control over?

*Spend some time reflecting on Psalms 34:7 and Jeremiah 29:11 write down your prayer.

*What are some practical steps you can take to reach your dreams?

CHECK OUT THIS STORY AND MANY MORE OF MY DEAR SISTERS ON THE SHE MATTERS TEAM!
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Go support Bridgett’s dream and mine! She Matters Journal. Headshot photo credit goes to the amazing Lindsay Lybrand! Lindsay Anne Photography (check out her work on Facebook, Lindsay Anne Photography. https://www.facebook.com/lindsayannephoto

The Dreamer, 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

The Truth About Mean Girls by Heather H.

84eded1c892eb4864d669211da47b0aaThe Truth about Mean Girls

The popular 2004 movie, “Mean Girls” gave everyone an inside scoop on what it’s like to be a high school girl. Although a lot of the movie was exaggerated for laughs, a lot of it can be true. Girls can be vicious, admit it. We’ve all had our heart broken by a boy probably at least once in our life, or been picked on by a guy (that’s their way of “flirting”) but let’s face it no many how tears you’ve shed of a silly boy the wounds from our fellow females can hurt worse. Why do we do that, huh ladies? Is there a reason, logic or science behind our motives? First things first, bullying is not cool. We know that girls and guys are definitely wired differently in the way we think and interact with others. We know that guys loves a healthy dose of competition to stroke their ego a little bit, but guys don’t hold on to grudges like girls do. Sometimes I’d actually rather hang out with my brothers and guy friends than some girls because the fellas are less dramatic! I love my girlfriends though! Guys will throw a few punches maybe and have a few words, then be friends again five minutes later and be all like “hey bro, I’m sorry man”. Girls on the other hand, we can be very competitive as well, but usually do not show it until that green-eyed monster comes lurking up and sneaks out of us, not quite as loudly and angrily as The Hulk, but more manipulative and cunning…you guessed it, the green-eyed monster called JEALOUSLY.

In last week’s article, I talked about body image, self-esteem and the media trend of “body shaming”. Since when did it become okay to slam someone or shame someone because of their size? We, as ladies are constantly comparing ourselves to each other! I’m just as guilty, I’m only human too my sister! Sometimes it can be comparing our weight or clothing size as we already mentioned. Sometimes, (for any of my elementary and middle school girls) it could be that little girl that sits next to us in class who has the cutest new Disney Princess or Lilly Pulitzer notebook and book bag to match and we just have plain ole wide-ruled spiral bound notebooks and a hand me down book bag and last year’s outfit while she’s sporting a new wardrobe. Or it could be that head cheerleader who’s so popular that every guy wants to date, and your crush just asked her to prom instead of even glancing in your direction. Even grown-ups deal with the same thing, the woman in the cubicle next to you-your “work bestie” got the promotion and you didn’t. Or someone is getting more hours than you while your shifts get cut back. What about the new girl who is “stealing” your friends? (Let’s be honest, she’s not “stealing your friends” she’s just trying to make friends, including YOU!) Or let’s get real, you see some girl supposedly flirting with your man! Oh no she didn’t! Ladies we all face real life situations of petty jealously! But what about the words some girls same that cut us to the core, or when your best friend lets you down, or worse…stabs you in the back? Girls don’t throw punches and fight it out like boys do, girls use words and gossip and manipulation…also the worst tactic making someone feel left out.

The question is WHY?! Girls this is not all fun and games. Words hurt, the Bible even speaks of it in James 3 saying that the tongue is hard to tame. Instead of getting jealous, or feeling better than or less than one of your sisters in Christ, celebrate each other! Instead of trying always “one up” each other, why not help each other up? Each of us face a lot of the same things, sometimes you just need another woman whether older and wiser or a girlfriend your age to share and talk with. We are all in this together ladies! We are royal daughters, not jealous nasty monsters who thrive on manipulation! Whatever things are honest and noble, full of virtue-think on these and do these things! (Philippians 4:8, Proverbs 31). One of the most important things I can leave you with is, if you have been hurt by mean girls or bullied in the past…or maybe you were or are that “mean girl”…the bottom line is grace and forgiveness. Forgive those who have hurt you, and reach out to those you have hurt…show grace to yourself and others. Love each other by lifting each other up.
-Your sister in Christ, Heather