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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Eve: The Nature of Womankind & Life-Giving Mother [Women of the Word Series: 1]

Women of the Word Series: 1

Introduction:

Let’s go back to the beginning, where did we come from? Where did as we as WOMEN come from? We see in the world and society today, women standing up everywhere raising their voices for something they believe in. Women, who are we? What do we stand for? But more importantly, WHO do you belong to? I don’t care what political party, agenda, belief of left or right, I just want women everywhere regardless of their background to know that before anything or anyone else YOU ARE A DAUGHTER OF THE KING! That’s why we are going back to basics. The origin of humanity is simple, to say the least: mankind (Adam) came from dust, womankind (Eve) came from his rib. But yet, as simple as it sounds it is also complex and intricate in detail. The human body is made up of cells, fibers, tendons, ligaments, bones, muscles, tissues, organs, blood, and organs. We can taste, smell, see, hear, touch and feel. Each part of the body functions separately but works together as one. We were created to move, breathe, walk and talk; but so much more we were created to live, think, have emotions and feelings, to love, to be all that He made us to be, and to have a relationship with Him. Humans are unlike any other creation of God’s; we are His masterpieces. Let’s go back to Eden…

Perspective:

{Portion told from Adam’s perspective} “The moment I felt the breath of Life, come into my lungs I felt such a powerful awakening purpose. I was dust and dirt. Then suddenly every fiber in my being came to life by the One who created me. I knew to think, to feel, and I knew Him instantly. He gave me the most beautiful home to live and take care of. All of the plants and animals, I was given to name and take stewardship of. But yet, although I knew and loved my Creator; something was missing. He knew and I knew. I remember Him saying *“It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Then all I remember is feeling at peace, and falling into a deep sleep. When I woke up, I couldn’t believe what a beautiful gift I’d been blessed with…” She was beautiful beyond words, **”This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” I called her by name, ***Eve…the mother of all living. And my Eve; she was made for me and she was and is the woman of my dreams… (*Gen. 2:18, **Gen. 2:23, ***Gen. 3:20)

So let’s take a moment to pretend we are taking our very first breath as the first woman created: “Mrs. Eve”.

Her Story:

{Told from Eve’s perspective} “I was crafted and molded from him, my beloved. From his bone, I became flesh. Not from his head to be above him or superior, not from his heel to be walked over or inferior, but right by his side-a rib, under his loving, strong arms to be protected and held, but close to his heart to be loved. We are equal; we are fully made and sculpted by our Creator. I felt the Giver, the breath from Him bring an invigorating, life-giving passion and purpose. It was a surreal feeling, because immediately I knew who I was because He created me, and I had a purpose. Every cell and fiber in my being came to life by one single breath from God; the same way my husband , my Adam was made. We were and are crafted to be like Him, in His image. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the beauty of my home, Eden was literally paradise. Made just for me and my beloved husband to live, to grow, and raise our family one day…but even more beautiful was the idea that we could walk and talk with our Creator. I was made to be a helpmate and companion of my husband; he is the head of our home, the leader and keeper of my heart. I am his and he is mine. I heard Adam’s love in his voice when he said, *”This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”* He was talking about me, the love of his life.

One day, I was just strolling through the garden admiring the beauty that God created; Adam was strolling not too far behind. Then, along came slithering a snake through the grass and up the tree that I was standing by; the most beautiful tree in the garden. This tree wasn’t just any tree; it was the Tree of Life…the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God said to never eat of this tree, or Adam and I would die. Die? The fruit of this tree was not poisonous, it was forbidden. If we ate from it, we would know the difference between good and evil? I know what is good; everything around me in this beautiful place was good! It was beautiful, God made it! But what is evil? I’d never heard of or experienced, let alone seen such a thing. Could evil be that bad? Will it hurt me and my husband? Then this snake started talking to me, saying some interesting things, “Did God really tell you that you couldn’t eat from this tree?” I thought about it: It was a command, it was dangerous. But then, that sneaky serpent said “You would know everything and be like God.” Well, what was I missing? If we were made in God’s image, are we supposed to be like Him? I’m not sure that’s what God wants, but my curiosity got the best of me I tried the fruit from the tree. Immediately I saw everything differently, I was naked. I was vulnerable. I was confused. What just happened? Did I do something wrong? Something didn’t feel right. Everything didn’t seem quite as beautiful as before, it was tainted. Adam then ate of the fruit to see what was happening. Immediately he felt the same way I did. He was naked too. We were both confused and vulnerable. We went to make clothes from leaves. God saw that we were confused and trying to cover our shame. He knew what happened. The most cunning creature of all had found the upper hand. I was so ashamed. I was scared. I now knew what evil was, I met it face to face that day….

Her Hope:

Adam and Eve were created from the dust of the earth, by the hand of God. They lived in pure paradise, full of laughter and filled with light and joy. They were with their Creator. No discontent, no dysfunction, no discord or corruption. No shadows or fear. However, that joy was sharply diminished. Order gave way to chaos. Harmony gave way to discord. Craving and yearning to know more, created a hunger pang of deep despair and misery that could never be satisfied. Sin drove a wedge in the relationship between God and humankind. Sin planted seeds of confusion. Sin had bitten a piece of their mind and heart, just as they bit into the forbidden fruit.

Despair and hope are total opposites, they can’t really coexist much like peace and fear. But out of one springs forth the other…hope springs from despair. Her sorrow was deep. Her guilt was deeper. God knew exactly what happened and whom was to blame. Revenge belongs to the Lord. Scripture says in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Sin came with a high price: death. But life is still full of hope hinged on a specific and prophetic promise found in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring ; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Let’s expand on the two surrounding verses 14 & 16. To the serpent, God said “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.” (v.14) and to Eve, the woman He said “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and He shall rule over you.” Eve’s decision affected others besides herself. (Thanks Eve for mother nature’s visit and childbirth pain!) Any woman who is a mother, you know that childbirth is the most painful thing you will endure. But, out of pain comes the beauty of new birth. Adam wasn’t left out either, God said to him “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, You shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Each character in this story in history were impacted, therefore impacting their children and the rest of us who long came after. Her hope came from Genesis 3:15 that one day the offspring of her children’s children-her ancestry would defeat this cunning serpent once and for all. Her life did go on. God still used her and her family.

Her Prayer:

Eve later on experienced the pain of childbirth and joy of motherhood. They had two sons Cain and Abel. Sadly, we know how the pain of sin affected their family…jealously crept in just like the serpent had before; Cain murdered his brother Abel. I can’t imagine a mother’s heartbreak and grief. Later on her and Adam had Seth, and many other sons and daughters as scripture says. Eve was called the mother of all living. She was the first of many. She birthed humanity into flesh and bone. She was the first woman, therefore she experienced every emotion we face as women. She felt beautiful and alive, full of joy and awestruck wonder. She felt curiosity which led to the life-altering decision, then shame and guilt quickly followed. She was the one who cried the first tears, and yet God still collected them in a bottle, wiped her cheek and called her His own. She felt sorrow, after being deceived. She experienced self-doubt and humiliation. She experienced repentance and forgiveness. She was able to laugh and smile, love life again with her husband. She experienced grief, motherhood struggles, worry, and being a “boy mom”. She experienced life. I imagine she told Adam how she felt from time to time. I imagined she prayed to God through all of her emotions, through laughter and tears. A woman who loved her husband and children. She took pride in exactly who God created her to be A woman who made a mistake but was and is still God’s beloved daughter. Her purpose was not overshadowed by that huge world-changing decision although it tells her story, it’s not her whole life.

Prayer & Reflection

Lord, my Father and Creator. The One who gave me life. Thank You for bringing into the world You created, for handcrafting my body, heart, mind and soul just as You did Eve. Thank for forgiveness and not allowing my mistakes and sins, to define my whole life and write my entire story and purpose because You already created my purpose. Thank You for grace and mercy. In the face of many emotions we face as women, God You created us to think, know, and feel every emotion with every fiber of our being. As women, You created us emotional by nature. We feel, and love and get upset, and cry, and sometimes doubt ourselves, and yet we nurture and care and help husbands and raise children to love You. Help us, help me Daddy to know that above all else I am Your daughter. Amen.

Questions:

1. Imagine if you were Eve, opening your eyes for the first time, drawing your first breath. The first thing you saw was your Creator and then the one who you were created for, your husband? Look around at the beautiful place you get to call home, Eden. What words and emotions would you use to describe everything?

2. The serpent told Eve, God just doesn’t want you to know everything, He’s keeping good things from you and Adam. Just eat the fruit and find out what you’re missing. What lies about yourself or about God’s truth has Satan led you to believe in your life?

3. Read Genesis 1:26-28 along Genesis 2:18-24. We are ALL made in His image, man and woman. Man was made in His image and woman made after man’s image. We are equal. But woman was created to be a helpmate and companion to man. Adam said she is bone of my bone and flesh of flesh. Basically, she’s mine and I’m hers…and together we’re His! This passage affects the basis on how each human being treats another (in his image), and the basis and foundation of marriage. How do these verses compare to our society and world today? Has society forgotten those values?

4. Think about the last paragraph “Her Prayer” talking about emotions and being a woman, as well as how Eve’s life-altering decision affected but did not define her life and purpose. How’s can you apply that to your own life?

I encourage you ladies to not only read this, but follow along in your Bible, reflect on the questions, comment and share! I would love for this to be an interactive series!

-With love, Heather

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

 

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