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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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

“GO!”: A New Look at a New Year by Heather H.

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“GO!”: A New Look at a New Year

Hello 2016, Happy (belated) New Year! It’s that time of year when everyone starts reflecting back on the year they’ve had and looking towards the future. You may have had an amazing year full of cheerful and blessed moments, accomplishments, and milestones. You may have had a really tough and tumultuous year full of heartache, pain, setbacks, and maybe even tragedy. Most people have a year full of both triumph and tragedy, joy and pain…just like life. You sometimes have to taste the bitter with the sweet. Whether we like it or not, time marches on. For some time may have flown by too fast. For others it may seem as if time is crawling by so slowly. Time goes on, it doesn’t stop for anyone or anything; and as much as we would like to pause it, slow it down, rewind, or fast forward all we can do is let it play until it stops. Well, regardless of what your year has looked like in 2015 we all look to the future with hope of something better in 2016.

Let’s talk about one word that we ALL hear right about now, some of us may use this word frequently with good intentions others maybe sick of hearing the lame excuse for motivation that just falls short…you know what I’m talking about, RESOLUTIONS. That’s right “New Year’s Resolutions” those ever-so-famous little standards and marks we set for ourselves every January. The classic ones: To lose weight (for some it may be to gain a little weight; hey don’t judge!), To eat healthier and exercise more, To quit and drop bad habits or addictions, To spend more time with loved ones, Read more often or Read the Bible more often. Those are some common ones we’ve heard before. This type of year gym membership sales, cookbook and self help book sales tend to soar.

Well let’s think about the word “resolution”. According to dear ole Webster, “resolution” means “the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. the act of resolving something. an answer or solution to something.” Now I can see where people use this word in the case of addictions or bad habits they want to break. I don’t know about you but when I hear the word “resolve” I automatically think that there’s a problem that needs solving. Well what if you don’t have a “problem” but just want to do better? The reality is there is a problem…it’s a problem we all face because we live in a fallen and imperfect world: the root problem is SIN. But that problem was “resolved” many years ago by Jesus Christ dying on the cross. If we focus on our problems they can consume us, just like we can easily let sin consume. If you’re looking for a way to tackle your “resolutions”, the first (and really only) “resolution” anyone should make is to follow Jesus. Let Him take over, confess your sins, ask for forgiveness, and let Him mend the broken pieces. No one is perfect, but Jesus is.

The next thing I want to tell you may just blown your mind: throw your resolution ideas out the window because we’re gonna talk about another word: GOALS! I personally like goals better than resolutions myself, they seem more attainable and honestly more positive. Back to ole Mr. Webster again; the word “goal” means “something that you are trying to do or achieve”. Another definition puts it this way; “the object of a person’s ambition or effort, an aim or desired result.” In one of my previous blog posts “What Drives You and Who Defines You” I discussed and elaborated on 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.” The future is something we look forward to in hope but we have no idea what it will bring. We can make all the resolutions and goals we want, but without God they fail and fall apart. Proverbs, the book of wisdom has quite a few verses that sum up this logic; “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3) and then a few verses later says “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9). We can have goals, dreams, and ambitions but if we don’t seek God first they won’t even make it off the ground. Every man, every woman, every boy and every girl has specific dreams and desires in their heart that God has put there for His specific purpose in your life! Girl, you better believe the King has big plans for His princess daughter! Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Without Him, we are nothing. With Him, anything is possible.

So look at the first two letters of “goal”: that’s right, G-O! Go. Plain and simple. 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. Whatever it may be: 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, pick up your bible and start reading, don’t be a afraid to go on a date, take the time to cherish your family and friends, whatever it is! Be spontaneous, Be courageous, Be adventurous, Be fearless, but always Be Faithful! The letters in “GO” also remind us of one very important thing: God Oriented. We must place all our desires, dreams, wants, needs, all the happiness and all the pain at His feet. Place your heart in His hands and it will be lead in the direction of your dreams. If you had a heartbreaking year, full of pain and disappointments; grieve and let it go. There’s the word GO again, it will take time. So go ahead, make your list of goals, or your “bucket list”: pray over it and take it a month at time, a week at a time, one day at a time: grace upon grace. Don’t worry because something is “new” that it can be intimidating and scary. Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” He is doing a NEW thing! I have always said “Forget the past, but not what it has taught you.” With all this being said, tell me where is there any room for excuses? Goals. God-Oriented. Grace upon grace. Now, what are you waiting for? GO!

 

With Love, Courage, and the spirit of Adventure 😉
your sister in Christ, Heather