Falling Into Peace, Not Pieces


 Crisp cool air, changing colors and the crunching of leaves, the sweet savory smell of apple pie and pumpkin spice everything, fuzzy sweaters and toasty boots. The moon hangs a little lower in the evening to kiss the horizon; the warm sunlight hangs up and calls it a day just a little bit earlier. The roaring sound of the crowd under the stadium lights cheering on their favorite football echoes into the starry, windy, night sky. Fall festivals, hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, Thanksgiving feast with family. It’s easy to see why I can’t help but in fall in love with fall. As I sit here under a cozy fleece blanket with a hot cup of coffee, I listen to the winds and rain from the distant hurricane and reflect on His goodness and mercy as sometimes storms of life can rage around us, with Him there is a warm peace that passes understanding.

    Seasons change. Life changes just as quickly. Literally a beautiful bright sunny day can turn into a monstrous storm with winds and rain. Summer fades into autumn. The bright green grass and leaves change color to beautiful warm hues of golden yellow, rich red and orange, and float to the ground touch the earth.  The prophet Isaiah said “The grass withers, and the flower fades, but the word of God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8).  Life and seasons are constantly changing but God remains constant and faithful. The bare branches of strong trees sway in the winds of change. When you look at what is literally decaying and dying leaves, the natural cycle of life…it’s baffling how we are still captivated by such a beautiful mess. When I look through my spiritual eyes, my life is a lot like autumn and spring. We often look at spring as a resurrection of new life. In order for us as believers to be “born again” we have to die to ourselves. Rarely, do we think of death as a beautiful thing. But as the old leaves fall away and make room for the new beginnings to come. Branches have to be pruned and cut back, just like we have growing pains as kids.

    Growth and change can sometimes be painful but after all it’s beautiful. Romans 8:28 reminds us that He makes “all things work together for good, for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Sometimes we try to cling to what we know we should let go of, knowing that our life is approaching a season of change. The autumn leaves in their entire colorful splendor let go of their branches so gracefully, reminding us of the beauty in letting go. You can’t hold on to what is gone. Isaiah 43:18-19 reminds us once again “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing…” There’s so much beauty to behold in God’s masterpiece, it’s as if He has painted the earth with every ray of gold from the sunlight and the richest of colors.

    I always remember a story I heard as a young girl, and a children’s church lesson I have taught in the past. We often think of pumpkins during autumn, from decoration to recipes. A pumpkin grows from a seed, it takes time to burst throught the soil and ripen on the vine. To carve a pumpkin we have to scoop out the inside, just like God cleans us from the inside. Psalm 51:10 David said “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.” Jesus did away with the old me at the cross, and He did you as well. The messiness of life and our sinful nature is scooped out of our hearts and just like a jack-o-lantern has a light, He puts his light in us to shine through us. He is the light of the world and we reflect Him.

    When I was a young girl fear, faith and fall all used to collide. Anxiety and depression are real. As a little girl who dealt with fear constantly, October was a time when everything scary and frightening came to reality…even if was fake. Scary movies, costumes, ghost stories all of the above made their debut in October. I dealt with anxiety, shyness (that was a very brief season in my life), 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. 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, laughed, cried, struggled and became more brave. Life is full of change. How we adapt to change is how we learn and grow.

    In my life, it has taught me patience. Patience to wait for His plans to unfold the dreams that He has placed in my life but wait for His timing: His perfect season in my life. Whatever you face, fall into His perfect peace. We plant seeds throughout this life, but we must harvest what we sew in the right time. Harvest your blessings. So as the warmth of fall and the crisp chill in the air awaken your soul, rest in this season He has you in. Be blessed. 

Blissfully His, 

  Heather 


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A Little Hope Filled Update

Hey there friends! This post is a little like a newsletter just for you! I have all kinds of exciting new ideas and a fresh vision for Hope For Her Heart and some more news about She Matters Journal!

So you’re probably wondering when you were going to read another blog post from H4HH, well they are back! I do apologize for the unintentional sabbatical, but we’re picking up right where we left off with the Women of the Word series! The first of the series was “Eve: The Nature of Womankind, The Life-Giving Mother”. The latest piece is about two women are a little bit of a “compare and contrast”: one story, two wives, and two different perspectives. The newest blog “Sarah and Hagar: When Jealously Makes its Plan, Promise vs. Compromise”. The next one is a two-part segment “The Matriarchs: Women Birthed a Nation” in the works is also about three women: “Rebekah: A Mother’s Mischief and A Brother’s Deceit”, a mama who picked favorites between her sons and helped her son Jacob steal his twin brother’s birthright. The other women are Jacob’s two wives who happen to be sisters, “Rachel & Leah: A Tale of Two Sisters-Love & Duty “. If you get a chance, pop on over to “like” or “follow” our social media pages: Facebook & Pinterest ( search Hope For Her Heart Ministry), Twitter (@hope4herheart) and Instagram (@hopeforherheart). I also have a lot of new ideas and fresh perspectives, you’ll just have to wait and see! I would like to ask you ladies for your input, what are some topics and discussions you would like to see on Hope For Her Heart? Leave a comment on this post or email me at heatherhopeforherheart@gmail.com.

Lately, it has been super, crazy busy in life….sometimes a tiny bit overwhelming but the Lord is my strength! Since February, I was promoted to Assistant Director at the childcare center I work at. It has kept me extremely busy the past six months without a lot of training and hands-on learning. I have lost tow dear family members, my cousin Crystal in a car accident and my Uncle Earl in August to a long battle with cancer. In February we gained a new pastor at my home church. Since, April I have had the honor and blessing of being the Children’s Director at my church. Also, I’ve been helping plan a baby shower for my newest niece, Ava due to arrive in September, co-planning with my bestie Phyllis, a bridal shower for one of our dearest and best childhood friends, Joanna getting married in December, being a bridesmaid in my nephew’s wedding, (4 weddings between to attend from September-December!) helping out with VBS at church with Kailey & Kelsey, and also working with She Matters Journal (more about that in a minute!), and of course spending time with my family, friends, and my sweetheart Wes. I have not stopped writing, I’ve been working on material little bits at a time when inspiration comes. This season of life has also been so full of every emotion: from over the moon happy, joy, laughter through tears, stress, struggles, lessons, busyness, quiet time of restoring my soul, and so many answered prayers and so much goodness!

So, let me tell you about She Matters Journal. My cousin (more like a sister really) Bridgett started a subscription box a little over a year ago called She Matters Box-a monthly box of goodies and devotional gifts to help women grow in their relationship with Christ. Fast forward a year later, the “box” has now reformed and evolved into a quarterly journal called She Matters Journal. The very first fall issue is on the website now! You can order yours or gift someone you love with one. I have the blessing of working with a team talented and beautiful women: Bridgett Martin, Megan Goff, Erica Peake, Shannon Nicks, Danielle Morris, Marianne Martin, Lindsay Lybrand and now Katie Watson. Many stories of hope, testimonies, strategic bible study and journaling tips to dig deeper in the Word as well as plenty of space to answer reflection questions, and journal your thoughts and prayers. Order yours at http://www.shemattersjournal.com as well as cute shirts and tote bags!

There are so many ideas, hopes, dreams, and visions I have for Hope For Her Heart- the bigger picture. As I mentioned in my last blog article “There She Goes Dreaming…Again”, when you let God take hold of your dreams in His hands, He makes them bigger than you would’ve imagined. So, pray with me along this journey and tag along for the ride! I’m so thankful for each and every single one of you sisters!

-Love, Heather

 

Sarah and Hagar: When Jealously Makes its Plan, Promise vs. Compromise

Genesis 16, 21
[Women of the Word Series: 2]

Perspective:

A young girl named Sarai was no longer who she was. That young girl had dreams of being a doting wife and mother to many little ones. Sarai no longer existed. Instead, an experienced older woman with years of life behind her; was now called Sarah. Sarah, was indeed devoted to her husband Abraham (formerly known as Abram) so devoted that when God told her husband that they needed to pack up all their things and move their lives to another land where they would be strangers and keep going to a land that He promised them-she went along with him. Abraham means “Father of a Multitude” and Sarah means “Princess”. What a prophetic name! What an honor! Ladies, we know that a man can’t do it all by himself without his wife by his side! God had already made a promise to Abram, (Sarai was of course included) a promise that included land, descendants that would outnumber the stars in the sky and build a nation that would be a blessing to the entire earth. When God drastically changed someone’s life, He also changed their name.

A foreigner in a strange land, a maidservant to an older woman and her husband. Hagar was young and alone. Little did she know that she would be used by God, even though she manipulated by a human plan to populate the earth. A young slave girl, who would become a single mother. Given what she thought was a place of honor by one she trusted, her mistress and master only to quickly turn to jealousy and being rejected. Not only did God make a promise to Abraham and Sarah, but to Hagar as well. Let us imagine the situation from both women’s eyes…

Her Story:

{Sarah}

For as long I can remember I’ve longed and ached to be mother. But for me, that dream was just a wish that to me, felt like it would never come true or even be possible. I simply cannot bear children. The only thing I was bearing was my pain. My, husband Abram…well Abraham now, had an interesting conversation with God. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Lord and I have faith in Him, but sometimes I think my husband is crazy. So, let me tell you what happened. One day, Abram comes in from the field all excited but had a perplexed look on his face. Abram said that the Lord told him that we were to pack up all of our belongings and move to a land that He has promised to us and our descendants. I’m standing here thinking: wait what descendants? We don’t have any children Abe. Then he tells me that the Lord said that his offspring would be “as numerous as the sands of the earth and numerous as the stars in the sky.” How is this possible? Did he forget that I can’t even get pregnant! But not only that I have to move away from our friends and family to some strange land, Abram doesn’t even know where we’re going! Oh yeah, to top it off…his name is no longer “Abram” but Abraham meaning “Father of a multitude”. So I kept my opinions to myself as I prayed for wisdom and understanding in the Lord’s will for us. I waited patiently to see how the Lord was going to give us children; I thought to myself apparently I’m not going to give birth so I crafted my own plan. My maidservant, Hagar was a little younger than I. She was in good health and could carry children. I gave her to my husband as a mistress, probably one of the hardest, most selfish and selfless things I’ve ever had to do. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Hagar became pregnant by Abraham, and she began to get all his attention. She gave birth to a son Ishmael. Ishmael was Abraham’s pride and joy. Hagar just made me feel like I was the second wife. So I began to treat her like the servant and slave she was in my eyes. Jealousy, I couldn’t help myself. One day I had enough of her and her son, I made Abraham send them away! I didn’t care where to, I just wanted them kicked out of my house! One day, two strangers were passing through and needed to eat and drink, I invited them in our home. These two were no ordinary strangers; they were messengers of the Lord. I overheard the angels talking to Abraham, they said that I would give birth and have a baby, a son-by this time next year! Hah! I got my hopes up for a second, I couldn’t believe my ears. All I could do was laugh, not out of disrespect to the messengers or disbelief but I couldn’t fathom. Then reality set in, I was barren. I can’t have a baby. I laughed to myself and kept preparing their meal. Then the angels came and told me their prophetic news, and then asked me why did I laugh when they told Abraham? I tried to deny it, but they know the truth. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that I finally would be a mother. They said to not worry, just trust that the Lord would take care of me, the baby, and my husband. The Lord had made a covenant with Abraham, now I guess it was my turn to fulfill my part in the promise. My name also changed that day; I was no longer Sarai, a hopeless barren young wife. I was now, “Sarah”, meaning “princess”. Months flew by and sure enough the angels were right, I became pregnant! I was going to be a mama! I couldn’t contain my excitement; the laughter now was from pure joy! Then one day the time came, my greatest blessing entered this world, I felt the pain of childbirth and happiness from a newborn’s cry…my son was finally here! I named my sweet baby boy Isaac, meaning “laughter”. He brought so much joy to mine and Abraham’s life. I watched my beautiful boy grow into the handsome and faithful man God made him to be. Abraham and I made sure that his servant chose a wife for him from our homeland before I die. He married that beautiful Rebekah, Abraham’s great niece.

{Hagar}

My life had been pretty close to normal, growing up in Egypt. Until I became a maidservant for the beautiful princess Sarah and her distinguished and handsome older husband Abraham. I was just a young teenage girl following my mistress and master’s needs and commands. Sarah was once young and beautiful, but carried a lot of pain inside her heart. To me, Sarah was still beautiful but she was older now and I could see the longing and yearning in her eyes. She had always so desperately wanted to be a mother, but she simply wasn’t able to carry children. I couldn’t even imagine the agony she must every time she sees a mother and child together. I thought many times, I gladly would carry for her, be a surrogate and let her raise the baby as her own. I was young enough and healthy enough to carry children. Abraham, as I mentioned he was very distinguished. Everyone had heard of Abe, the traveling man and his barren younger wife. Abraham had moved here from his home country, their God had promised to make him the “Father of many nations” but the man had no kids! They were an interesting couple to say but they were good to me. One day, my idea and dream that I had wished came true. I could tell Sarah had something on her mind and she wanted to talk to me. She said she had already discussed it with Abraham her husband. Sarah wanted me, Hagar her lowly maidservant to become his second wife and carry children for the family. She felt she could not fulfill the part of the promise from the Lord because she was barren. She knew Abraham longed to be a daddy and live out his name, she felt she was letting him down. So I agreed, especially since it meant helping her. I respected her. So I went to sleep with Abraham that night and shortly thereafter we found out I was pregnant. I was excited, scared, nervous, happy and still a little sad for Sarah all at the same time. Abraham was thrilled that he was finally going to have a son. Sarah’s plan had worked and we were going to be one big happy family…or so it seemed. Sarah was angry the moment she found out I was pregnant and kicked me out of the home! Pregnant, scared, and alone in the wilderness. While I was crying, an angel of the Lord spoke to me “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen” (Genesis 16:11-12) and told me to return to Sarah and Abraham and fulfill my duties. So from that day forward, He became “El Roi” the God who hears and sees me. He saw me in my despair and heard my cry. I called the well where I was, “Beer-lahai-roi” (the well of the Living One who sees me). Throughout my pregnancy, all I could think of is his name and what prophecy was spoken to me: my wild boy Ishmael. So I carried this little baby in me for 9 months, Sarah looked out for me and the health of the baby. But in her eyes said differently, her heart began to turn against me. Once I gave birth, we named our little boy Ishmael, meaning “God listens” (or God hears). He had heard our cries and fulfilled His promise. I had never believed in their God until now, faith became real to me finally! From that day forward Sarah treated me with contempt and jealousy. I was his wife too, and the mother of his only child! I deserved a little respect in that household; I was no longer just her servant. She treated me as a slave, as if I was less than her. I had always respected her, now I no longer knew what to think. Abraham cared for me, but he loved Sarah. Abraham absolutely loved our son Ishmael. This whole idea was all Sarah’s idea anyway, now she’s mad at me! No way! I couldn’t take it anymore, so I decided if she was going treat me this way and act jealous I would give her every reason to be jealous. It wasn’t my fault! But deep inside all I wanted was to be loved and cared for, to belong to a family. One day, Sarah made Abraham kick me and Ishmael out of the house! Where were we going to go?! We had nowhere to stay! I had no family nearby anywhere. I had never felt so abandoned and alone. How could Abraham turn his back on his own flesh and blood, my Ishmael! I was now a single mom, alone in the wilderness. We traveled until we were tired. I thought I was going to die; we had no more food or water. Ishmael was tired and complaining like boys do. I went away from him because I didn’t want him to see me crying and breaking down, I didn’t want my son to have to watch me die neither did I want to watch him die. I cried out to God. He heard my cry, told me to lift up my eyes and we found water to drink from a well! Imagine a spring in the middle of the desert! Only one God can do that, this Egyptian girl believed that day! Ishmael and I continued to live in that beautiful wilderness of Paran where God answered our prayers. I raised him on my own, with the Lord’s help of course. I was able to see him grow up and marry.

Her Prayer:

{Sarah}
Dear Lord, I know You mean the best of intentions with Your plans for my husband Abraham, but God I’m having trouble understanding how I fit into Your plan, this plan? Why, Lord must we leave our family and the only place we’ve ever known? Why must You promise something that seems impossible for me?! Lord please open my womb! This emptiness and aching grief and longing for a child is sometimes more than I can bear! Help me to honor my Abraham and more importantly honor You. My future children will praise You. Forgive me of my doubt and laughter of Your will, for now You have turned my sorrow into laughter with my baby boy Isaac! Thank You Lord for my family!

{Hagar}
Dear Lord, You hear my cry for justice. You see the treatment I face from Sarah. Help me to not be bitter, this whole plan was her idea anyway! Why is she angry with me?! She didn’t wait on Your promise to give her a child and she used my womb for her security. Lord please forgive me for my anger towards her, help me to be strong and respectful and to raise this child in the home with his father, Abraham. Lord don’t let me die in this wilderness, show me Your way. Thank You for hearing my cry and giving this thirsty soul a well to drink from. Thank You for my son, Ishmael. Your promises never fail!

Prayer & Reflection:

  1. Dear Lord, let this be my prayer. Help me to see how I fit into Your greater plan. Help me to be patient and not manipulate my own plan before Yours, no matter how much aching and yearning is in my heart. You hear my cries, You see me and my heart, You know the desires of my heart. Whatever my longing may be in this life; let it never come before my longing heart for You. I will trust in Your provision and Your promise. Amen.

Questions:

  1. Have you ever felt as empty as Sarah? Whether its struggling with infertility, miscarriages, or just a longing to be a wife and mother, or it could be any other situation. Think and reflect on a time in your life where longing seemed bigger than your faith.
  2. Have you ever felt as lonely; forgotten, rejected as Hagar did in the wilderness?
  3. Sarah was childless and Hagar was the first single mom mentioned in the Old Testament. What are ways that you can minister to these ladies in your community or church in life around you?
  4. What are some situations in your life past or present where you have manipulated your own plan before waiting on God’s timing and what has it taught you?
  5. Has jealousy ever caused you to do some crazy things?
  6. If you’re a single mom, how does Hagar’s story speak to you in your life?
  7. If you struggle with infertility, how does Sarah’s story speak to you in your life?
  8. Take some time to think about the meaning of people’s names and how God drastically changed their lives. Think about the place where God heard Hagar’s cry….”Beer lahoi-roi” and “El Roi” the Lord who sees and hears me. Where are some places and times in your life where God has made Himself known in your life?

The Joy of Giving (The Hope of Christmas Part 2)

December 12, 2016

The Joy of Giving
(The Hope of Christmas Part 2)

What is joy? Where does it come from, and how in the world do we get it?! We hear of Christmas joy and Christmas cheer, but it’s not really something we can buy in a store, wrap up in a box and stick under the tree. But it is something that’s on everyone’s Christmas wish list whether they realize it or not. And sorry folks, Santa can’t bring it…only Jesus.

Have you ever had one of those days (maybe even weeks, months, or maybe years) where you feel like the joy has been sucked out of you? Like every once of energy you have in you has been drained dry. Sometimes life knocks you down. Sometimes you just have a moment. We all have those days. Other days (some of us), are just so full of extraordinary joy on an ordinary day that we bubble over like a shaken can of soda! Bubble ooze and fling all over the place! We’ve all met those people who are just sometimes “too perky” or “just extra bubbly” (guilty as charged) especially if everyone else maybe just a tad bit grumpy! Don’t be a Scrooge or Grinch all year or at Christmas!

Sometimes we feel like we have so much time, effort, love, sacrifice, and joy to spread and share with others, other days we have nothing left but an empty tank. Have you ever been caught up in the business of being busy? Of course there’s all the day-to-day necessary tasks of life and then all the fun stuff that keeps us busy too. We (especially us productive multitasking women) too often spread ourselves too thin. Warning: Avoid burnout! There’s a simple saying I’ve remembered throughout all my years of ministry and now teaching, and it goes like this “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Meaning you have to be filled, poured into, and taken care of in order to pour into, take care of, and fill up others with love and joy! A car can’t run on an empty gas tank now can it?!

When we seek, pray, worship the One who fills us, it’s so much easier to fill up others because it’s a surplus, an abundance, and excess! Joy is one of those things that will always be more than enough! A song I learned as a little girl in Sunday School (and the kids still sing it at church today) is J-O-Y, Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between.

Jesus first. Jesus is the giver of joy. Nothing or no one comes to the Father but through Jesus. (John 14:6) Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above. (James 1:17). The true source of joy is Jesus, it doesn’t come from any earthly thing that we think can fill our voids, that happiness we’ve searched for. No other person, no job, car, house, money, or material thing can give that kind of joy that the heart and soul need and long for.

Others second, when we put others before ourselves we are showing the greatest example yet most simple way that Jesus taught us. Love Thy Neighbor as yourself. The world is not just about you and what you need/want in this life. There are other people who need to know the love of Jesus. To give, to be a servant-hearted follower of Christ maybe the best Christmas gift you can give this year. Too much, we get wrapped up in the giving and receiving of gifts, what to buy for so and so, and what’s on his or her list, and what’s on sale here and there. We know it is better to give than receive…but we get too worked up about trying to get everyone something that we lose the purpose of giving, “the thought that counts”. I, myself am more of a sentimental person who would rather receive a small thoughtful gift packed with meaningful memories and sentimental value than an expensive gift. We don’t always have to give a physical gift to give someone, we can offer our help, or do something nice for something, give them our time, or be a listening ear when someone needs talk, to bake cookies or offer a meal, to make memories, and the best gift is to give them our prayers.

Yourself last, such an uncommon sentiment and concept is a world that is so self-centered. In fact, there’s a new book by Karen Ehman called “Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living In a Self-Centered World” (which is in the December She Matters Box by the way!) that talks about “listening for a heartdrop” and “random acts of kindness” that brighten others days and impact lives. Jesus taught and lived this, He is and was the most selfless man to walk the earth. He taught love and peace. He suffered and was persecuted. He gave the world the most sacrificial act of love when He gave up His life on the cross. We are to follow His example in putting others before our own needs and motives. John 15:13 says “No greater has no man than he (or she) that would lay down his (or her) life for his friends.” Giving truly is an easy thing to do when done in love.

So in the spirit of giving, remember this THE GIFT & THE GIVER. God the Father, was the Giver on that first Christmas. Jesus was the gift, but Jesus also became the Giver as He grew into a man-the gift of eternal life through the cross (John 3:16). There are many stories and parables throughout the New Testament (especially the four gospels) that Jesus speaks about “taking care of the least of these”, “it is better to give than receive”, and the parable of the rich young fool. It doesn’t take much effort to brighten someone’s day, something as simple as a smile or kind gesture. There are many ways to give: donate clothes, shoes, toys, or any other items to a family homeless shelter or orphan’s home, bake cookies for the children’s hospital or nursing home, give your time or skills and talents to teach others, make a card to cheer someone up. Donate to charities here at Christmastime and throughout the year. Below are some links to some great charities to give to. Tis the season y’all!

With Christmas love and cheer,

Heather

Here’s a list of  some great charities to give to!

St. Jude Children’s Research

Samaritan’s Purse

American Red Cross

Lighthouse For Life

She Matters

At The Cross: Ransomed, Resurrected, Redeemed.

At The Cross: Ransomed, Resurrected, Redeemed.

 

At the cross. Where pain and agony was on display. The cross, a from of execution and torture. A symbol of fate for criminals. Something so messy and dark, became a symbol of GRACE and LOVE. How can that be? Why? Simply because the death and resurrection of one man, a man named JESUS of Nazareth. Son of God. Son of Man. Healer and Miracle Maker. Prophet. Teacher. Friend. At the Cross, where grace and suffering meet.

 

Many years ago the world saw the darkest day in history unfold…a day we call “good” seemed to feel anything but “good”. 11 men-the disciples (minus Judas the betrayer) and many other friends and followers saw their teacher, mentor and someone they loved…arrested, wrongfully accused, interrogated, beaten, stripped, whipped, spit on, and nailed to wooden cross beams to bleed and suffocate to death…how devastating and agonizing. But darkness fell over the earth when Jesus breathed His last, the veil that separated humanity from the Holy of Holies…God dwelling in the temple had been torn in two…no longer separated from God. Reconciliation came in the form of sacrifice and ransom. Friday was dark, dreadful and full of despair…Saturday it still weighed on their hearts. Shock and grief. Who would they put their trust in now that He was gone?
Have you ever felt lost in dark despair? Like rain and clouds covered your soul?HANG ON…THERE’S A “SUNDAY” (or as I like to say “SONday”) IS COMING!

 

Death is often thought of as sad and filled with sorrow, despair and grief. Friday came. Friday went. Saturday came. Saturday went. Sunday is here. And trust me, a lot could happen in three days. Those quiet tear filled days of mourning over Jesus were what was seen by human eyes on earth. But what was going on was something far more intense…the spiritual warfare that human eyes can’t see! The enemy, Satan thought he had won when Jesus drew His final breath and cried “It is finished!” Satan thought it was done and over when they put His lifeless body in the tomb. But when He cried It is finished! He meant devil you’re finished because I’m coming for you! Shots fired the battle was hot. Jesus defeated Death, Hell and the Grave by His own death. Something that only the power of God could possibly do! Love came down and laid down its life. SONday was the day the Son rose and darkness fled and brought forth a new day, light. What death had attempted to steal had been RESURRECTED!!! Death could NOT hold Jesus down.
The story itself is miraculous. But the reason why is even more amazing…the reason is YOU. The reason is ME. The reason is all of us. Jesus died and came to life was so we can be forgiven. To live in eternity with Him once we leave this world. To have a relationship with God, the reason we live.

 

Today, are you facing a storm? Maybe you struggle with an addiction to drugs and alcohol that has you feeling bound by chains? Like your substance is the only way to cope or numb the pain. Or maybe you’re the insecure shy teenager who feels so alone and outcast? Maybe you’re the single mom struggling to do the best she can for her kids who need her love and attention but also need a roof over their head and food in their tummies. Maybe you’re the scared, pregnant, unwed mother to be who doesn’t know the first thing about pregnancy? You feel alone. Maybe you’re the wife whose husband doesn’t pay her attention or affection anymore? You feel abandoned and neglected. Maybe you’re the elderly lady who is widowed, whose kids and grand kids rarely visit? Alone. Or maybe you’re the person who feels shaming stares and judgmental looks when you step into church? You are not alone. The thing is, every heart has a story. Everyone has been bought and paid for by the sacrifice Jesus paid AT THE CROSS.

 

YOU HAVE BEEN SET FREE, but you have to take that KEY to unlock your locked chains that have kept you bound and trapped so long. The sun will always come out and The SON will always shine- through the storms and after the storms; after all He is the Light of The World. Happy Resurrection y’all!!! Easter may have been yesterday, but we have reason to celebrate EVERYDAY! Reflect on the RANSOM (He paid for you), the RESURRECTION (the power of God on display for the world to see), and REDEMPTION (the freedom you now have through JESUS CHRIST!) At the Cross, where love came down to earth and changed the world.
Have you decided to follow Jesus today?

-with grace and humility,
Your sister in Christ, Heather

 

Love: A Daily Reminder by Heather H.

What is love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up. Love does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in truth, bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

I want to take this time to say Happy Valentine’s Day to everybody in my wonderful & beautiful family and amazing awesome friends. To all of y’all who have a “significant other” (boyfriend or husband) I am very happy for you & wish you a wonderful day filled with love, laughter, and time together.You don’t need a special holiday to show someone you love them, do it everyday!  Don’t ever take each other for granted.

To all my single friends & family (including me) don’t let all this love talk and valentine commercialism make you hate being single or negative…it’s not that bad. We have all heard it called “SAD” (aka Singles Awareness Day). God is preparing a perfect man or just for you, they won’t be perfect, neither are you, we all have flaws its what makes us unique. When you find the right person who accepts you for who you are it will be worth the wait. So why not spend time praying for your future spouse as well. Don’t focus so much on finding the right one, but becoming the one that He created you to be. Or maybe God has called you to lifelong singleness, not everyone gets married in their life! There are many single people who have lived a full life, but that doesn’t mean you don’t give and receive love.

Back to our Scripture passage:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “LOVE suffers long and is kind; LOVE does not envy; LOVE does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. LOVE never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”

Okay so here’s the thing, each time you see the word “LOVE” when reading this passage, replace it with GOD (example: God never fails) then the second time you read it, replace the word LOVE with JESUS (Jesus is long-suffering/patient…) then the third is the hardest to do because its a reality check..since we are supposed to follow Christ’s example, replace the word LOVE with YOUR name…Are you patient? Are you kind? Do you not get jealous, or become puffed up and self-seeking? Do you rejoice in the truth? Just a little awesome reminder of LOVE, becoming more like HIM.

So let’s take a closer look at some more verses that point to what true love really is:

John 3:16 “For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but eternal life.” {He loved us so much that He sacrificed His beloved Son. True love is sacrifice. True love is eternal.}

1 John 3:16 “This is how we know what LOVE is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our life for our brothers and sisters.” {He loved us unto death and into eternity He still loves us! Love is something we must give away. Once again, love is sacrifice.}

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” {Before we even knew Him, while we were out being natural born sinners ignoring His love and affection for us. Even before we existed He loved us.}

1 Corinthians 16:14 “Do everything in love.” {Well if that ain’t plain and simple itself. Everything you do: all of your thoughts, words, deeds, actions…do it in love.}

1 John 4:9 “We love because He first loved us.” {Love must be given away, not selfishly gripped in our own needs and wants. It must be freely given like His unconditional love for us.}

John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” {Jesus’ love note to you, abide in MY love He says}

1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply  because love covers a multitude of sins.” {Deep love is rooted in forgiveness. Love covers sin. It did at the cross and it does still today.}

Hebrews 13:1 “Let brotherly love continue.” {Simply put: Love others}

Don’t forget to spend time with the one who gave you life, the breath you’re breathing right now, the heart that’s beating in your chest, GOD. He loved us before we even existed. He created to love and be loved. The one who knows you better than anyone even better than you know yourself.

I’ll leave you with this: celebrate with random acts of kindness. Or better yet if you are still searching for love; look no further. Love doesn’t come in a heart shaped box, it’s at the cross. True unconditional love, came with blood, sweat and tears and the words written in red are proven love letters. Let your heart be captivated by the One who created it. Love is at its finest moment when its given away, one kind word or act of kindness can change someone’s day or even save a life. Give love away. One more thing…I LOVE YOU with the love of Christ 🙂

The Real Story of St. Valentine {Martyr} Check out the history of how we got Valentine’s Day. He was a Christian who stood up for his faith and defended marriage.

-Happy Valentine’s Day

your sister, Heather

 

 

“Grudges vs. Grace: How One Holds You Back & The Other Sets You Free” By Heather H.

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Revenge is sweet they say. When someone does us dirty the first thing we want to do is pay them back, or give ‘em a dose of their own medicine! The “Golden Rule” is one that we all know “Treat others as you want to be treated.” That one rule we are taught as kids in school, along with the “If you can’t say anything nice, be quiet.” Too often as kids we’ll pitch a full blown hissy-fit if we don’t get our way, or even as adults we fly off the handle when we get offended. Well, we are human…meaning we are flawed, imperfect, and sinful. It’s the spirit vs. flesh daily battle. Grudges vs. Grace. One of these can slowly eat away your joy, tarnishing your soul, a bitter poison that only hurts you more than the one who hurt you. One of these sets you free, lifts that unmistakeable weight off your shoulders, your heart is free to feel joy, and to live and love without fear of hurt again. If we look at others the way God sees them and really the way He sees us as well, then we experience grace in a different. It really lays on a foundation of one core element, a life changing element; a gift-FORGIVENESS. There’s an old saying that goes like this “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Forgiveness can be tough thing to do, just like ripping off a bandaid or getting a shot in the arm. Forgiveness can be an easy thing to do when you love someone. But either way, forgiveness is necessary. Scripture itself says “For if you forgive others their trepasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trepasses, neither will your Father forgive your trepasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV). If we look past the hurt and try to figure out why someone may have acted out or hurt us? We may begin to understand each other. If we look in the mirror and see our own flaws, we can also begin to understand each other also. Dishing out anger and vengence fixes nothing. Forgiving is one thing, but forgetting is alot harder. I always say “Forget the past but not what it has taught you.” The best to do is move on and let it go (not to sound all cheesy like Elsa but hey the icy Disney Princess has got a point!) When you hold onto to unforgiveness, you build a prison cell for yourself while the guilty walks free. The hardest apology to give is to the one who thinks they did nothing wrong. However you do it, whether face to face reconciliation, a phone call, a letter, a peace offering or extending a little bit of extra kindness their way, or maybe even just simply forgiving them in your heart and moving on…forgiveness is vital. It can save your life, and theirs. Grace upon grace is what He has lavished upon us, how can we call ourselves followers of Him if we don’t extend that same grace to others on a daily basis? The bottom line, we all need grace sufficient enough for each day. The past is covered in grace. Your present is sitting in grace. Your future extends grace. So go and give a lil bit today.

In His grace,
your sister Heather

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