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Don’t Stop Believing

Mark 9:23 (MEV)

“Jesus replied, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Before my daughter started High School this year, we walked through her schedule like a billion times (I know some of you can relate). Of course, it took a bit to get the locker open but when we did, we had accessories to put in. One of the days we walked through, it was just my daughter, my middle son, and me.  Kenna hung all of her goodies in her locker and Reilly, my son, was like, hold up, I need to write something. “You’ve got this! BELIEVE!” -Reilly your bro 8/15/19. I almost died. I ALMOST DIED. My heart was about to explode and tears were heading down stream but obviously I had to keep my cool. I was in a high school.  I mean, come on people. You step into one and next thing you know you are right back in it, mentally, emotionally, all of it. So instead I was like, yea, woohoo, yea, what he said, fist pumping in the air and trying to be cool. Didn’t work, but I tried. Ha. Reilly said, ‘you’ve gotta keep this up all four years.’ Now just peel me off the floor. McKenna was obviously loving it and was like, well of course. 

Do you believe?  In your gut of guts, do you believe?  Do you believe it’s gonna be ok? Do you believe that the hardship will turn to strength and blessing?  Can you walk the hallways of your life believing? I found it so interesting that Reilly put BELIEVE after ‘You’ve got this!’ He knows my daughter so well.  She will put this ‘I’m ok’ thing up all the time when deep down believing is the last thing she’s able to do. I know you are right there with her because some days, so am I. Believing is the last thing I feel like doing and throwing in the towel may be there first.  My kids have asked a few times since telling my whole story to them, how are you ok? How did you get through all of that? How did you not cut anymore or not be upset about the abuse etc? I was like, ummm, you’ve seen me upset still. I was real and honest with them. I’m not always ok.  I have days where it’s still hard BUT I slowly began to realize there’s been this strength inside of me all along and I just needed to believe and stand in it. 

We aren’t always ok friends.  It’s ok to not be ok but it’s not ok to stop believing.  Sorry not sorry. Christ is standing next to you like, stop carrying this alone. Believing that you’ve got strength to carry on is one thing, but to believe you’ve got strength through Jesus is a whole other beast to be reckoned with. When my daughter goes back to look at this sign when she’s not ok, the pain or hardship won’t disappear, but somewhere inside, she’ll pull strength to keep going. Not because she has too, but because she knows she is loved and she CHOSE to believe. Believe me when I say, you are so loved even when your not ok. Reach down and pull up that belief. It may be buried but it’s there.

“Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will.”

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Not Anymore

I Chronicles 16:11

“Trust the Lord and his mighty power. Worship him always.”

We went to my mother in laws 75th birthday party the other day. She had a table of precious ladies from their building where they live.  I mean, the kind of ladies that if you went up and sang in front of church, completely bombed it, they’d be like sweetie, that was the most beautiful Jesus sound I have ever heard.  Completely precious. They were sitting around the table by my MIL while opening gifts and telling me how much they loved me. Now, I’m sure my lovely MIL has only told the good things about me but hey, I’ll take it. Ha. They just kept going, making me feel like I was it! They were so sweet and literally wanted to take my youngest home with them.  Well, I mean, he does have the best dimples in town so………

When I was on my way home, I started thinking about how I would completely hang with them for the rest of my life.  No need for reality, just some ladies hanging out, drinking coffee, doing their thang, telling me how great I am. Then my brain kept going, of course, how many times do we end up staying at a table where we aren’t wanted. Many times it’s because we desperately want to be or we are desperately seeking their approval some how.  How many times do we sit at a table and know that they are gonna talk about us as soon as we leave. Not the uplifting, you’re amazing, she’s so great, kind of talking but the kind you know they are saying some nasty something about something behind your back. Not any more. Let’s decide together that we aren’t gonna sit at a table where we aren’t wanted or where we know when we get up, they are gonna talk ugly. We can’t change people.  I know, big news here, but it’s true. We can’t change what people think or feel or what kind of nasty thoughts are happening in their heads but WE can take charge of our own situation and not put ourselves there. So often we are trying to see the good in others or the fact that maybe this time around they will see what they are doing. Friend, that’s awesome and you should see the goodness in everyone but we can’t be conformed or be wrecked by the outcome of what they decide. We can love and accept but it needs to happen inside of us first in order to love and accept what happens around us. Sometimes we are just constantly seeking approval from others or those we think are important.  When we turn that off and look up at the approval of Jesus, you don’t even need to question it anymore. Like, approval happened before you were even born when it comes to Him. 

You, we deserve more than any words spoken after we get up from the table.  Your value rests in the beauty of your soul and no one can take that away from you.  Christ has called you His beloved child and when you are in a situation where you don’t feel loved like that, you run, and you run fast.  No one gets to take your value away, they can’t, not when it’s given by a King. 

“Don’t worry about other people’s opinions of you.  God never told you to impress people; only to love them.”

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I Don’t Think That’s You

Psalm 139:14 (CEV)

“I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me.”

I’m not meant to be on a sports team, just so you know. Ask my kids. I can encourage and scream like you know what from the side lines but actually on a field….yea no.  I’m not sporty. I can run, or dance because I’ve got rhythm, but when I’m suppose to do things with a ball and stuff, it’s where it stops. I tried when I was younger. I went to a private school so really when you tried out for things, you made it.  Whether you ended up sitting on the bench the whole time or not. It’s called acceptance through your not so good sporty self. I encompassed that. Pretty sure they had t shirts for us folk in the back that had numbers like 1 ½ , 2 ½, haha

I think sometimes we all try and be something we aren’t. Feeling like maybe we are supposed to be this or that because of the people around us or what others have said. I’ve had jobs where I’m like, what was I thinking.  Who am I kidding, just having a job in general I’m like, what am I thinking. Hahaha. Being something we aren’t gets us into trouble, quickly. I truly believe we all have different and unique purposes for this life that God has created and once we step out of that, it gets hairy. I tried for a bit to be a working mom outside of the home.  Oh heck to the no. I have NO CLUE how you wonderful moms do it. I know some of you have no choice and some of you need it in order to get away from the craziness of the home but I literally turned more crazy, if that’s possible. It’s ok though. Embracing and understanding what we can and can’t do or what we can and can’t handle allows freedom to walk in our own life.  We then don’t feel like we need to do it all because we aren’t supposed to. Being something that we aren’t will only cause us bitterness and frustration. It’s easy to assume we need to be something we aren’t because…well….’everybody’s doing it.’ Ha. Maybe having our own opinion or doing our own thing sets us apart from many. Well, so what? I just had someone definitely have their own opinion and say to me, ‘I don’t really like tattoos on people at all, but they look ok on you.’ Ummmmm……(enter thinking face) but he has his thoughts and I totally rock tattoos so we are good. If you saw what he looked like and he tried tats, we both would be like, I don’t think that fits you fine sir. 

To me, this is more than a, ‘you are unique and special’, moment.  Don’t get me wrong, you know I think you all are, BUT this is more of a, ‘you are not her/him so stop it’, moment. Be you. Figure out what that is and be it, rock it, work it, sort it out, and kill it. You will tick people off by how you think or act or feel or talk sometimes.  People may question you because you love Jesus. People may look at you funny cause you have pink hair, oh wait, that’s me! Hehe. Dude, Jesus loves it. He LOVES it. He’s so proud of what He created. He’s so so so proud of you. Rise and shine friends because it’s time to own this day! 

“Fearlessly be yourself”

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Sometimes You’re in the Way

Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”

Sometimes it’s us. Sometimes, maybe sometimes, we are the ones stopping ourselves from moving forward. I’ve been taking a deeper and more honest look lately. I love how this verse says, ‘let your eyes look directly ahead.’  Yea, I’m pretty sure my eyes look all over the flipping place. Whether it’s looking at the negative instead of positive, looking at the ‘good enough’s’ from society around us, looking way behind at the never ending list of ‘what was I thinking.’ But what’s right in front of us, what happens when we look directly ahead, it’s called hope.  It’s called a future where we get to decide what it looks like while keeping our eyes up above. When we are looking all around, we have a tendency to just keep doing the same thing over and over, thinking maybe it will work this time, or fix it this time, or make it go away this time. Dude, we’ve gotta stop that crazy. 

A few years back one of our kiddos had a real anger issue.  Straight up mean. Made me cry mean. On top of this, I understood where he was coming from.  He bottles things and then explodes. He also is my mini me and before I was diagnosed correctly and found the right meds, he saw some real scary stuff come from me.  I had moments that I turned into a monster and they experienced it so many times so he’d give it back. He didn’t know any better. It’s what he saw. We would do everything to discipline it out of him. Send him to his room, big, stern, LOUD talks with him, (if you know what I mean), take things away.  Finally one day it was bad, we took him by the shirt and dragged him to his room, he got up and was like ‘What?!’ He could have cared less. All the sudden I was like, we’ve gotta come at this with a totally different angle. We just keep doing the same thing and it’s not working. I started telling him how amazing he was, how his heart is so caring, how when he acts like that it really hurts my heart cause I know it’s not who he is. I told him, I know there’s more pain inside of you then anger. That’s when things started to change. He bawled one day saying, ‘I don’t know why I’m like this and I want to change.’ And he did, and we helped him.

I say all of this because it is so so true in our own lives.  Friends, we can’t keep getting in our own way and doing the same things over and over again.  It’s not working. Sometimes change has to happen whether we want to come out of our comfort or not. In that though, we’ve gotta be gentle, filled with grace, and compassionate with ourselves in order to turn the corner. Like with my son, we’ve gotta get to that place where we want to get off the crazy train. As parents, we saw that what we were doing wasn’t working, we had to change our approach. You know where I’m going with this.  Sometimes I think Jesus is up there like, any day now Heather. Just shift a few gears and you’ve got this. I’m hearing ya now Lord! Loud and clear! 🙂 

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

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Everyone Has A Closet

Isaiah 41:13

“For I am the Lord your God Who holds your right hand, and Who says to you, ‘Do not be afraid, I will help you.”

Guess what, no one has all their crap together.  No one. I’m reminding myself of this as we speak and thought maybe you’d like to hear it too. Somewhere in everyone’s life is a trail of yuck. Also, all people have a Monica closet (you totally know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever watched Friends.)  Whether it’s external or internal, there’s hardship and dirty laundry somewhere. Many of us grew up with the idea that we have to look like we’ve got it all together. Don’t let people see the sad face or the dirty house or ……the list goes on and on.  And now, we’ve got social media that helps us live that perceived life. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in the past but if so, it’s worth speaking it again. Quinn, my oldest, is hardly ever, like ever on social media. He thinks its stupid (he has a point). When he is, it’s on Instagram.  He says, ‘It should only be used for informational purposes. It shouldn’t be used for personal endeavors.’ He kills me! Seriously, the literal and honest nature of who he is can be so refreshing. So He will put up images of our vaca or a monument of some sort and describe it on Instagram. If we could all just me more like Quinn.  We would definitely kill it in the smarts department. 

Back in reality though, the struggle is real. Feeling like the world around you is a perfectly fit puzzle while you have missing pieces can feel down right lonely. It’s just not truth. In every person, whether close to you or someone you just meet, there is a struggle they are experiencing. Maybe with hopes and dreams that disappeared, a failing marriage, a job that was lost, depression, anxiety, the list goes on and on. We all feel the need to keep it together or don’t let it show cause I’m sure she or he doesn’t have that issue. In this present world, we carefully construct images to post or a status update that everyone will like and write something perfect that hides any pain to be seen.  How much do you want to bet that if you let out, even a bit of your struggle, they would be like, oh my gosh, I’m so with you! Now there are a handful that might look at you crazy, but those we just let Jesus love on ha! I’ve been looked at as a loony before, far too often that I have to be like, oh, so you didn’t want to get that close to me? Hahaha! 

Here’s what I’m trying to give you on this fine day. When you walk out of your four walls at some point, stand tall in the fact that everyone has a ‘thang’.  EVERYONE! There are different experiences and suffering at different times for each person but make no mistake, it’s there, in every human. Thank you Jesus we’ve got him, who is perfect, that we can be like, what does that whole, living in perfect peace feel like?  Next thing you know, he sprinkles a little of this and a little of that and Whammo, you feel loved and full of His peace. Ok, maybe it’s not that magical, but you get what I’m saying. Grab onto Him. Just shoot Him what you got so as you step out, He’s holding your hand. 

“Everyone has a story.  There’s a reason why they are the way  they are.”

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Stand Tall

Philippians 1:6 (NLV)

“I am sure that God who began the good work in you will keep on working in you until the day Jesus Christ comes again.”

Funny story, as you date, obviously you ask when their birthday is or at least it comes up at some point.  So of course when my hubby and I were dating he told me his birthday was September 2nd. Huh! Kind of funny because the day that Jesus saved me from trying to take my life was September 2nd.  Isn’t that crazy? Actually it’s super God. He works like that. 

I celebrated 19 years this year.  As I reflect on it, I realize all the amazing and beautiful things I would’ve missed out on but it’s so much more than that. I step back and see the healing that’s taken place.  I have a tendency to constantly look at the work that still needs to be done instead of celebrating the pieces that were literally laying in shambles and now are whole. Hitting the end is real. I felt it, I lived it, I tried it, and thankfully I didn’t succeed. There’s no denying the fact that the depths of pain we can feel can bring us to the point of death.  Maybe some can touch it and are able to run the other way but many out there are not able too. In that depth of darkness is where Christ sits. I know it’s crazy but man, He truly loves nothing more than to meet us where we are at. To sit with us where hell lives inside. It’s there that His ray of truth sets us free. It’s there where we meet light against the darkness. Those dark days made me stronger, or maybe that strength was always inside of me, I just needed to go through hell and back to realize it was there, that He was always there. 

It’s easy to see all the things we need to fix around us or inside of us, isn’t it?  It’s like when you clean the floor and after you are done all you can see is the one hairball from your dog you left in the corner, not the miles of clean floor you just did. We have all come so far in our journey and obviously, we are still going. Just remember that healing and growth in our lives can happen in the least expected place and sometimes in the darkness of them. Allow yourself to see the goodness and the healing that has already happened in your life. That crap we still need to fix ain’t going anywhere ha! But thankfully, neither is Jesus, so instead, stand tall on what you have accomplished, the little pieces that you’ve worked your butt of to move forward from, the constant war inside of you that you keep winning. Warrior status is in all of you, own it like a rockstar!  

“Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.”

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The Safe Zone

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLV)

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear.  He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of good mind.”

I’ve always wanted to be a background singer.  Crazy right? Everyone’s like, didn’t you want to try and become famous or something?  Notice I used past tense, evidently I’m too old for a full blown Britney Spears moment! Ha. The answer to that question though is not really.  I’ve sang/played all my life and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being onstage. I mean, who doesn’t like it all about you? Kidding, not kidding! Ok, but seriously, I don’t think I ever saw it as a tool to go make it big. As we’ve disgusted in other devos, it was more of a healer to me. It’s almost like God gave it to me in order to survive the walk through the abuse alone, the depth of depression and cutting, any hardships that came around. It’s why I gravitated toward using it for Him.  Why I decided to become a music director coming out of college. Well, after I worked at Ed Debevics in downtown Chicago. Yep, you heard me straight. Remember that place? Dancing on tables and being rude and stuff? Good Times! 

Being in the background is safe.  I think that’s what I came too. Stepping out and trying to push through people, attitudes, rejection, all of it made me want to crawl in a corner. Some people thrive off of and get revved up to go kick some serious butt and show peeps up when they are shot down.  Nope, not me. I’m like, ok cool, no worries, I’m out. So then I stepped away and took this into every day life. Safe. We stay there a lot don’t we? I do. Stepping out of the box puts me into unknown territory which makes me shake. Not right though. It’s important to step out of ‘safe’ sometimes. Try new things, maybe look at something from a different angle. If we stay in the safe zone, we don’t get to experience change or growth. There could be something we are missing when we stay in our box.  Meeting new people, getting a new job, starting a new relationship, healing an old one. If we stay in the safe zone, we will continue to ride the crazy train. Unless your safe zone has no issues which hey, fantastic! But even if you are living your best life ever there, don’t you ever wonder what you could experience it outside of it? Sometimes it’s a matter of just thinking differently on something. Sometimes it’s accepting someone that is completely different from you yet could teach you to look at life differently…….maybe better.

Jesus never played it safe.  He hung out with hookers, walked where he wanted, preached where he wanted.  Nothing stopped him because God had his back. He didn’t need to live in the safe zone when He was constantly looking up to know where to go. Shoot, if He can do it, we can do it! 

“Step so far out of your comfort zone that you forget how to get back.”

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Space is Needed

Isaiah 30:15b(NLV)

“Your strength will come by being quiet and by trusting.”

Distance.  Remember when you would have a boyfriend or girlfriend and they would  be like, I think we just need a little time apart. Maybe then we can come back together and it will be better. Yea, ok.  Or really you are just breaking up with me in a more gentler form, or so you think. Dirty Dog.(Insert eye roll please) Distance. 

 It is needed sometimes.  We’ve all been there. Whether in a relationship, in a conversation, for a few hours, a week, maybe years. There are times to my kids I’ll be like, you just ticked me off, now you need to get out of my face for a few. Can I get a ‘Right?!’  In that distance though, what are we seeking and how are we learning. What is Christ teaching us and what is His/our desire in it? Do we expect miracles that just aren’t obtainable? Are we open to our heart being able to change? Sometimes it’s meant to teach us to shut our mouths or maybe that distance is for the other person. In the end, I’m learning that it’s ok.  God does stuff in the distance. I think when we entangle ourselves in a situation too much, we ruin it. Ha. We end up seeing things only through our eyes. With so much truth coming out from my past and some not understanding or accepting or whatever, there ended up being a lot of distance. Some I didn’t choose to be there yet you know what I’m noticing? I’m growing stronger inside of me. It’s allowing me, or maybe making me, have some serious confidence in myself and who I am in Christ.  The distance allows us to loosen the rope, to realize that it’s not ours to control. It really never was. Now, this does not give you/us permission to go and hide from the world in a far far away place. Although it does sound super lovely doesn’t it? But it does give you permission, in your heart, to accept the distance. Allow it to exist. 

 We do need to be careful though that we ourselves aren’t distancing others because of fear or whatever other nasty thing that’s growing in our hearts. It’s easy to just shut down, ha, I’m typing this and I’m like, ya think Heather?  So me….on so so many levels. I always, like always, have to ask myself, am I doing this to hide or do I really need the distance? Friends, it’s all just another step in healing. Another place where Christ wants to get us to and hang out with us a little more. Sometimes He purposely creates distance so that we will listen to Him.  So that we will go to HIM instead of everyone or everything else. Shoot! I may need to reread this one a few times. He’s totally kicking me in the butt this morning with this one. Ha! 

“Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.”

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Survival Mode

James 3;17 9 (NLV)

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure.  Then it gives peace. It is gentle and willing to obey. It is full of loving-kindness and of doing good. It has no doubts and does not pretend to be something it is not.”

I was pondering this lately.  How many times do we say, I’m just trying to survive.  Right? Like, honestly, when I had 4 little people all around the same age, my survival was drive-thru McDonalds and Starucks. I at least could buckle them in and they would be in one place.  They can eat their fries and momma gets to drink her coffee. Not gonna lie, sometimes I really wished there was a wine drive thru, haha. In times like that, survival is all you can do. Shoot, many many times, survival is all we’ve got.  BUT, as things change and things around us change and we realize, just maybe, we need to look at things right in the eye balls. This survival mode doesn’t really work anymore. 

Aside from the fact that my kids needed to realize that there was other food besides fries, I needed to step a little more deeper into life head on. I realized I was building habits that weren’t helping me move forward.  Now, to be completely honest, I still haven’t broken the Starbucks habit and quite honestly, it may be worse BUT in my defense, I don’t go as often AND they know my name which we’ve talked about how much I love that soooooo.  Moving on. What I’m trying to say is this. We can get stuck and justify why choices or habits need to stay. Shoot, they could be destroying us inside but we think in order to function each day, they need to stay around. For a long time I had a perfectly sharp knife in my closet hidden. Really?  Really? I’m saying this to myself. Yes, really. It was survival mode, it was a choice/habit/security I just didn’t want to let go off. That bad boy has now left the building. Why? Because I’m on a journey to move forward. To make positive changes. Holding onto things or choices that I learned to survive at the time aren’t helping me now.  

Jesus not being tangible has always been something I’ve struggled with in my journey.  I’ve never questions my faith or belief but shoot, can’t he just come quick and give me a hug? Does He see me and my survival trying to happen? He does, and when you step back and see how far you’ve come, you know He’s real. When you look into your sweet child’s face, or the unreal sunrise, or the laughter you have with a friend, well crap, there He is.  THAT is where I want to strive to sit when it comes to my survival mode. I don’t need a lot of french fries (well…..haha) or a knife, I just need belief, truth, and good ole fashion Jesus. 

“You are not here to just survive, you are meant to thrive!”

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Cut It Loose

Isaiah 43:18 & 19a (NLV)

“Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing.  It will begin now.”

It’s ok to make mistakes.  I, maybe, just maybe, have made like 2 or 3!  Hahaha! Like, in 15 minutes, thank you very much.  It’s funny, though, how we have such a difficult time releasing and letting go of our own mistakes.  Forgiveness towards ourselves means we have to let ourselves off the hook. That’s a bit hard, right? For some reason, we think we deserve to sit in the guilt and shame while others around us can be free of it.  Why? We are just as worthy as everyone else around us to live in complete freedom. It’s not like Jesus walks around like, ummm, a few of you peeps need to carry flaws a little longer than the rest so you can know how much it really hurts.  No and no. He don’t work like that and neither should we. Many times I think we, or at least I, take the emotions that attach to what I’ve done and hang out there for a while. That guilt or shame or unworthiness hangs around my head and starts to sink a little too deep.  It’s in that place, we’ve got to step back and realize, this does not define who I am. Rather, it shapes me because I can learn and grow. The best thing is, there’s new mercy every morning. It’s a new day to start fresh and allow ourselves to move forward instead of backwards into what happened before. 

The past, whether yesterday or 10 years ago, can be a bugger.  It can really seep into that, unforgiveness towards ourselves, place. The past really is THE PAST my friends. We’ve got to learn to leave it there.  It could have been a conversation that took place, or an action that you know you should not have taken, maybe you hurt your kid or someone close, all of it, any of it, needs to be left.  Now, are there times to go and apologize in order to move forward? Well, yes, and I’m pretty sure your own gut will tell you when that’s needed. But I wonder sometimes if we need to give ourselves an apology.  Maybe we used some nasty words against ourselves that we shouldn’t have. Maybe we’ve tortured ourselves a little too much. Maybe we aren’t seeing ourselves through the lens of Christ. The beauty, kindness, depth, and strength that He sees. It’s time we do.  Let today be a fresh day for you. Let forgiveness and freedom wash over you. Stand tall in what you’ve become and who you are becoming because without making a mistake, you wouldn’t know what kind of killer warrior you really are. 

“There is no sense in punishing your future for the mistakes of your past.  Forgive yourself, grow from it, and then let it go.”

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We Make The World Go Round

Genesis 1:31 (NLV)

“God saw all that He made and it was very good.”

Cooper, my 9 year old,  came home yesterday, walk in the door, and said, ‘I’m stressed.’  Oh man, this isn’t a good sign and of course deep inside of me I was dying to say, dude, this is just the beginning of stress.  I stepped back and was like, well, that would really put a damper on a good convo I could have, so I refrained. And then I said to myself, you sound like a stinking old person saying something like that.  Now, may I remind you this was all in my head. Many voices do I have conversations with my friends, hahaha. I digress, once again, let me continue. I was like, babe, what happened. Come to find that he was picked at math to answer some questions, he didn’t know any of them, and of course everyone else did.  Math isn’t Cooper thang. Just can’t get it so nothing like getting picked to answer a question on the second day of school. Tears started, then words like, I’m never gonna get it. I just can’t do it. I’m just stupid. UGH!!!!! This reminded me so so so much of me growing up. School was NOT my thang either.  Like at all. I had to work my butt off just to get a C sometimes. Now, I’m sure there were many times I could’ve worked harder but my confidence was already shot and everyone around me assumed I couldn’t get it so I just went with it. I was, and still do, work on the creative side of my brain and that whole other side, yea, I think there may be some bats and spiders hanging from it. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized how special I was with the gifts I had. I felt super stupid up until that point.  You play it off when you are young and go with what people are saying. Play into it ya know? I turned into the funny girl to be around or the one that could sing or play etc. As I look back, it wasn’t truth and that’s what I began to tell Cooper. Just because their are things that others can get easily, and school may be one of them, doesn’t define you as stupid. It doesn’t make you any less than anyone else in this world. I know you can all relate to some degree, right? 

What God has placed inside of you and what drives you today is not on purpose.  We easily assume that something like being smart is the end all in this life. I used to tell people that I may not be book smart but I’m super street smart.  Here’s what I’m trying to say. I stepped back from this convo and considered the world we live in today. Where things are so measured. Smart or Stupid. Good or Bad. Ugly or Beautiful. They don’t get to decide. All these peeps around us, they don’t get a say.  God stepped away from His creation that He made and said, ‘This is good.’ Even the bees, spiders, ants, things that completely annoy us but are needed. It’s all good. There’s a purpose.  

We all of some unique qualities that are completely different from the next person. That doesn’t make one of us better than the next.  Instead, it totally makes this world that He created good. It makes it beautiful. It makes it work. It brings color into this amazing place we live. Now go and be creative, fun, smart…..be You. 

“Being different isn’t a bad thing.  It means you’re brave enough to be yourself.”

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Just a Little Something

Psalm 46:5 (NLV)

“God is in the center of her.  She will not be moved. God will help her when the morning comes.”

This morning, on this fine day, I’m here to tell you that we are all loved. We are all important.  We have a role to play here on this beautiful earth of ours. Jesus created us all so incredibly different for a purpose.  That purpose can only be completed by one person and one person only. That’s you. So many of you, us, have been through some deep doodoo in life to get us where we are today and look, just step back and look. You are standing tall or at least functioning at a normal level ha and killing this life thing.  

As we move into this fall season, we’ve got kids going to school,  starting new jobs, maybe new adventures await us, whatever it may be, we are gonna take it and run.  You are made whole because you are so uniquely made. There is not one person on this earth that can resemble your beauty, courage, strength, and fight.  Friends, we have a Father who is walking, running along side of us screaming…. “You’ve got this!” “I believe in you!” “Keep going!” and that’s exactly what we are all gonna do. 

I need you step back a minute and realize how valuable you are. You are enough! Let go of the fear and worry and allow Christs’ peace to walk with you as we begin another chapter. Go Team (insert fist pump)

“Worthy now.  Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute.”

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We All Do It

Matthew 6:27 (CEB)
“Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?”

Worry.  Does that touch home for you? Does it sit heavy or are you someone who is able to be like, it’s all good.  Things are gonna be fine. If so, can you please share your secret mojo with the rest of us cause that’s not me.  I used to be WAY worse but between medication and a whole lotta prayer, I seem to be on my way to a semi worrier instead of full blown, straight up, she cra cra worrier. 

Kids are beginning to start school again and so this topic totally hits home in our household.  Pretty sure I handed down my anxiety and worry to all children, well maybe not the 9 year old who is still in his own world but definitely the other 3.  We’ve literally walk the schools with their schedules about 1500 times to make sure they know exactly where they are going and what they need to carry and where their locker will be etc. This is even before the actual school walk through ha!  See, totally handed it down. My kids will all need therapy which I’ve fully come to accept. I have 2 high school kids and for the first time I’m like, college is coming. No. You can’t leave me. No one can leave me. I’m cool enough for you to stay around.  Especially my special needs boy. UGH! God’s gonna do big things with that kiddo and totally protect him but this momma’s heart might explode with worry about him being on his own. I’ve been by his side since he was diagnosed and watched him jump through fire to get to where he is today.  Wowza, here I am crying already. Hot Mess people! But then I step back, breath, maybe take a sip of wine, and realize, what good does this do anyone or anything by me worrying. If anything, worrying just makes our insides suffer over and over again while the rest of the world just keeps on trucking along.  It’s easy to get stuck in the cycle of worry and spin until we are at the depths of darkness. Believing nothing but the worst. We need to break away, take a deep breath, and realize where our truth lies. Christ knows every hair on your head, knows every hair on your kiddos head, and he knows our comings and goings before they even happen.  If you think about it, we are worrying about things that have already been taken care of by our great big Father so what the heck are we doing besides getting ulcers and headaches. 

I used to worry that I’d never survive.  Honestly, that I’d never see all the way through til the end of my life.  That I’d never see what life would have offered me because I’d never be able to get out of the darkness.  But that worry itself was keeping me IN the darkness. Hello Heather! It took me a bit to realize that I was actually making it worse.  Friend, you are an amazing person, mother, friend, co worker, father, teacher, lover, and warrior. He has created you perfect and wants to walk alongside you, holding your hand and telling you, I’ve got this, you just keep on walking. 

“Worrying is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

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Soaring on Strength

Isaiah 40:31

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.”

Strength. Big word. A lot in there. Can I just tell you the strength that my oldest has? Ridiculous. Pretty sure I’ve brought this up before in other devos but here is comes again. The boy has some serious physical strength which is very common in special needs kids.  He has punched holes in walls, shattered an ipad with his own fist, flipped a bicycle rack at school, I mean, don’t mess with Quinn. Ha. Isn’t it interesting that this massive physical strength comes out when he is scared, frustrated, and angry. He has a heart the size of a giant teddy bear.  Ask anyone who knows him. So when this kind of strength comes out, it’s almost like an out of body experience, a numbing thing. He feels HORRIBLE when he realizes what just happened. When he steps away from the situation and comes back to the present, he can’t believe it. This is how I explained to him my cutting when I opened up to my kiddos.  He struggles with emotions but he could relate to the place you come to when you are just numb. Where something comes over you that you can’t control anymore because it’s almost like your existence is altered. Then he got it. 

Where does your strength come from? When I wrestle with this word I realize it could come from a good or bad place, right?  I mean, we assume it’s so important to have strength and be strong, which it is, but are we coming at it from a numbing place?  A place where we are shoving everything down to survive and we think its important to just hold it all together and that’s strength. I don’t believe that’s truth. Yes, there comes a time where some of us don’t have a choice.  We are in situation’s where it calls for it but when strength comes from the right place, when it comes from our soul, from the place where Jesus lives, that strength actually turns into peacefulness. That’s when you know it’s coming from the right place. You see, I think we rely on our own strength so much that we lose sight of what it really means to be strong.  Being strong and having strength actually means to give it all away. It’s about hope. Strength is telling yourself that you are brave enough, worth enough, good enough to fight the good fight. Not by flipping bike racks or taking a knife to your arm but by truly digging internally and touching into the depths of some of the pain AND healing from past experiences that take you to where you are now. 

When it talks about renewing our strength by mounting up with wings of eagles in scripture, that is so so spot on.  Eagles are so incredibly powerful on so many levels yet when they are flying with their strong wings, they are floating with ease.  They become soft, hopeful, peaceful, yet the foundation of that is built on the power of their strength. That is us. That is Christ. Now we just need to put it all together and fly.  

“She was brave and strong and broken all at once.”

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And You Too….

Psalm 55:6 (CEB)

“I say to myself, I wish I had wings like a dove!  I’d fly away and rest!”

You deserve the best too. We all are allowed to desire good things for ourselves. Stop feeling guilty for that! I think many of us want what is best for others and in others but in turn, we push ourselves aside and somehow make it ok to push down our own deep desire or needs.  Nope, not ok. We have worth. We are just as important as our children, husbands, wives, or the man on the street. We allow guilt, which is not of Jesus, to creep into the internal work of our minds and next thing you know, we are pushing aside anything that has to do with us first.  Even if it’s taking a nap, hey, it’s needed at times! 

I’m guilty, in the most unhealthy way, with this.  I almost think I do it because thinking of myself feels scary and like unknown territory. I don’t think I even realized the deep desire I had and needed to have in order to heal to the core from the abuse, cutting, and so much more.  I assumed you just carry the ugly and focus on what’s around you. Well, then we hit this numbing of ourselves and shifting all focus onto others. It’s natural and feels good to do things for others, but when it’s all we focus is on, we sink.  We aren’t really good for anyone because we’ve got nothing left. I know us, because, well, I have a friendship with all of you and you just didn’t know it, ha. We think that we are serving others by constantly putting them first which, do not get me wrong, it is important.  We can’t be all walking around letting people fall into the street or not change our kids diaper and stuff. No bueno. Friend, you are a priority too. Allow that to sink in. Your rockstar worthy self needs to be filled with what drives you and also needs a time of rest. When we don’t give ourselves time, our stress level goes up, we stop taking care of us, maybe we stop going to therapy, or stop exercising, or stop going to coffee with a friend, we aren’t journaling anymore, we are losing sight of Christ, we are just too plain exhausted to even think. Even our sweet Lord needed and CHOSE to have a day of rest and He did that so we could see also, it’s important. We need time to step back and find out what makes our hearts tick too.  Not just everyone else’s. 

If you could have one day that you had no responsibilities at all, what would you do? What is one thing you could do to add to your day that would be just for you? Take some time and listen.  Listen to what your heart needs, to what your body needs, and to what Jesus is telling your soul.

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.”

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Yesterday

Isaiah 41:13 (CEB)

“I am the Lord your God, who grasps your strong hand, who says to you, Don’t fear; I will help you.”

I came across this quote and I’m just chewing on it. “Yesterday is heavy.  Put it down.” Simple yet so so profound. I had it swirl in my brain all day. Actually, I was slightly excited to go to bed so I could wake up the next day just to put the day “down” ha. How many of those do we have that we need to release and walk away from yet we end up carrying with us.  We think about the day over and over again. Maybe how we should’ve done it better, how we hurt so bad that day, how this person treated us, how we ate that piece of cake. Maybe our one yesterday adds up to 100 yesterdays that we need to put down. Ugh! Maybe our yesterday really is years ago that we need to put down. Sometimes, maybe sometimes, we voluntarily carry too much. We know that we can put it down but for a variety of reasons, we choose to let it sit on our backs while we sink to the ground each day. I’m gonna go with, that’s gonna hurt after a while and it’s time. 

If we keep dragging our yesterday’s with us, how are we going to be present for our today or tomorrow. Yesterday is gonna eat away at us, right? This is the crazy part, by not putting it down, it really will only effect us and no one else so why the heck are we still carrying it.  AND we are able to go even a step further, we’ve got a great Big Daddy who will carry all of our yesterday and tomorrow’s till the end of time! Thank goodness cause Lord knows I’m gonna need it. WARNING: Real Time with Heather Follett is coming: There are still times every now and then, that I question if coming out with my sexual abuse about 2 years ago was the right choice.  It flipped relationships upside down like you wouldn’t believe and has made me put so many yesterday’s down that I may have to hand in my punch card. Ha. BUT here’s the kicker, we aren’t meant to carry anyone else’s yesterday or need to decide when they are supposed to put theirs down. That was, and still is, a hard one for me to learn. Speaking my truth was a HUGE and a heavy yesterday that needed to be buried and it’s not my job to set theirs down. We are to learn and grow in our yesterday and today’s in Christ and leave the rest to Him. 

“Yesterday is heavy, put it down.” Let that sink in today. Pray it through. Allow it to be a healing in your heart. Allow it to lighten you, to bring peace inside your soul.

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Stop the Noise

John 8:32 (CEB)

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Seriously people, I have issues.  Maybe you can relate. Like, honestly, tell the noise to get out of my head. Do you feel like sometimes it just runs you over? Things like this, ‘Oh man, that was a stupid answer’ or, ‘You totally should’ve have said that.’ Now you go and write a 10 paragraph text explaining why you are apologizing for something she/he probably doesn’t even remember.  And NOW you fret over the fact that they think you are crazy for even bringing it up. Please Lord tell me I’m not alone in this hahaha. Just give a little ‘Amen.’ while you are reading and I’ll fist pump you in the air.

I recently came to find, after talking with a few friends, that not everyone has this noise happening in their head which just floors me. I can’t remember a day in my life where I didn’t have a critical thought going through at some point about something. It very easily can swallow me up and leave me to feel alone and secluded because I start to believe what it’s telling me. This will surprise so many, I know.  On the outside, I have a very happy go lucky nature which don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a happy go lucky time and that IS me all laughing with you and stuff but internally, there’s a constant war taking place. I’ve really like REALLY had to speak into it and allow Christ to literally scream into it. I’m sure you’ve been there because you’ll have something like this in your head…… ‘I so shouldn’t have cut my hair, so stupid.’ and not two seconds later will someone come up to you and be like….oh, you cut your hair (Insert blank face!) SEE, my head voice was right!  Ha! And we think about it for forever until our hair grows back. Ok, maybe not that long. Probably until the next crazy thought takes over. This all being said, there is hope my friends!! I repeat, there is hope! I’m sure as heck not perfect at it all the time but what I’m trying to do more and more is look at the facts. Set aside the emotions for a second and truly look at the facts. Is what is happening inside my head really truth from God. Does is make me feel peaceful and whole? Or does it make me feel sad, guilty, nasty……If what we are thinking aren’t thoughts that make us want to get up each day and live life to the fullest, then we need to run those suckers to the ground and fast!  

It literally comes down to, what are we going to believe. What are we grounded to. Are we going to define ourselves by truth that will set our hearts free or by lies that will sink us and weigh us down. Our minds are a powerful thing but in the end, we choose where that power sits. 

“Never underestimate the power of God.”

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Are You Watching?

Isaiah 43:10 (CEB)

“Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing, Now it will spring forth;  Will you not be aware of it? I will even put a road in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

He’s doing something.  Can you see it or are your eyes blinded by the juggling of life?  Not that we aren’t all juggling some crazy stuff but in that, are we missing what He’s trying to do in our lives?  He is creating masterpieces in you and I but sometimes we are looking on the back side of the canvas. We need to get out of the way and see the beautiful colors He is painting.  We desperately want this amazing art work to come to life that we pray for yet sometimes it’s happening, just not exactly how we think. Our assumption then is he must be busy with someone else and I’ll just keep trucking along till he comes back around to me. Ummmm…..no, that’s not how he works. 

 I could not for the life of me understand what He was doing in the men department. First of all, I picked the cream of the crop, let me tell you. (insert eye roll) Unfortunately though, I had no respect for myself or my body and had no clue….NO CLUE what it meant to stand on my own two feet. What it meant to say ‘NO!’. Because of the abuse, I thought the only way to be loved or to feel love was to give them what they wanted and they used that so it’s definitely what I attracted. Not only could I not see the masterpiece Christ was trying to put together, I couldn’t see the masterpiece right in front of me in the mirror.  I could not value or respect who I was because it was completely demolished at the age of 5. BUT, slowly I kept peeking around the front of the canvas, allowing the colors He was using to penetrate through the stale white from behind. He’s working, even through the midst of pain, or trouble, or questionable circumstances, He’s molding us. When I look back, I never ever would’ve met my husband if I hadn’t gone through the other abusive relationships first. AND I would’ve NEVER understood what real love was either. Each circumstance that happened with each relationship placed me a step closer to my husband. I kicked and screamed along the way at God like you wouldn’t believe.  Pretty sure I punched a hole or two in the canvas too ha but hey, he still painted around the holes. 

The trust thing can be real hard for many of us, I totally get it, but just don’t let go of Him. As crazy and mind blowing as it is, He has His hand on everyone’s paintbrush, all at the same time. It’s kind of why You don’t mess with Jesus, I mean…….He’s got skills. He’s got you, He’s doing something amazing. Don’t let go. Keep peeking around the canvas.  He’s gonna surprise you. 

“How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too.”

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Dark…..but Light

Deuteronomy 31:8 (CEB)

“But the Lord is the one who is marching before you! He is the one who will be with you! He won’t let you down. He won’t abandon you. So don’t be afraid or scared!”

The depths of the darkness could not even be touched by drugs. They tried, but they weren’t getting it right.  Depression is just ugly and so so dark. I know many of you can relate. It comes in many shapes and sizes. Many different colors. Although as each year went on in my life there were levels of healing, there was also this deep inner despair that I couldn’t shake.  It started to form different layers also. Obviously anxiety started to rear its ugly head but there was more. Thoughts in my head wouldn’t stop. Anger. Bad. So bad I would scare my children. They were really little. They would hide behind the curtains (gosh it brings me to tears to write that..ugh).  Yet then the next day, I could freaking be the life of the party. I felt like I was losing my mind. It wasn’t until a long time friend from years ago had stopped by and I lost my you know what. I just completely unloaded. She’s like, dude, you have Bipolar 2. I’m like, what the heck are you talking about. She’s like, look it up, it fits you to a tee. 

Needless to say, my first thought was, it’s not like I’m going to the extreme and jumping off buildings or running the streets with no clothes on. Not that it didn’t sound slightly appealing ha. But that’s kind of what we think of when we think bipolar. Long story short (well not really) I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 years ago and on the right medication and just have been a joy to be around ever since.  Hahaha. 

You are thinking, Heather, why are you telling me all this?  Or maybe not but I’m gonna answer the question anyways. There were many who wanted to speak into what was happening in my life. Whether they felt that God could heal what was happening and I didn’t need medication, or maybe the diagnosis was wrong, or whatever.  Friend, NO ONE should EVER like EVER live in utter darkness and complete isolation of sorrow. Hopelessness IS NOT of Jesus. He is a God of peace, love, joy and he wants that for you, for us. He brings people into our lives, into this world, in order to help us. He wants you to be the best version of you that you can be with or without drugs. I need them, ask my husband! 🙂 Getting help is important.  Finding people to talk to IS important. Reaching out IS important. Shoot, my little black book consists of mainly therapists and shrinks so if you’re in need, let me know! Ha! Don’t think for a second that you aren’t worth it cause you so are! You are a child of the KING! 

“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”

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My Kind of Peeps

Proverbs 13:20 (CEB)

“Walk with the wise people and become wise; befriend fools and get in trouble.”

Ok, seriously!  There is just something so delightfully wonderful about the fact that I pull up to the Starbucks window and I’m like, “Good Morning!” and they are like, “HEATHER!!! WHAT’S UP!” and totally rattle off my drink.  Then I proceed to the window and talk to them like I’m a total rockstar cause, well, I’m a stay at home mom so I need to feel like I’m totally rockstar to someone! hahaha. You all totally are right there with me and know exactly what I’m talking about.  BUT……I think there’s more to it. I was pulling away from Starbucks one day, feeling really good about myself and all, thinking, shoot, if they really only understood the real Heather, you think they’d still be like, HEATHER, WHAT’S UP? Or more like HEATHER……can you use the back door to get your drink?

Isn’t it true though?  I think some of the freedom of having surface peeps or acquaintance peeps in our lives that are hands distance away is that they don’t know everything.  They don’t know the nitty gritty of the depths or the deep corners of our souls because that can get exhausting. I actually think its super freeing to have people like that in our lives. Yes, it’s important to have those closer around us to keep us in check emotionally and can speak into our lives on a deeper level but man, sometimes I just need someone to be like, dude, your tattoo is rad. The End. Right? Jesus had that.  He was surrounded by His disciples constantly and ummmm…..they could be a real handful at times. I think hanging with those on the streets filled Jesus soul. Real people. Down to earth, speak it like it is. Those are my kind of people. Bar people! Yes! I was just with some this past week and come on now. Kind. Compassionate. Loving. I mean, you kind of need to be like, dude, I’ve got 4 kids and married so back up the truck, but then, they really just want someone to listen ya know. They just want us to be Jesus. 

Best part of these wonderful people is they just want to feel loved, even on the surface level. Many of them don’t even have a deep connection with anyone so just your ‘Good Morning!’ or ‘How are you?’ makes them feel like they can keep going for the rest of the day. And guess what, it kind of fills something for you too doesn’t it? Maybe, just maybe, you are planting a little Jesus seed in there without even knowing it. BAM!

“You are somebody’s reason to smile.”

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Dig In

Psalm 147:3 (CEB)

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”

There was a time when I could not look at my daughter. I could hardly even touch her.  It was horrible. Shoot, horrible doesn’t even slightly describe the depth of pain. She was about 5 or 6, the exact age I was sexually abused.  I had no idea what was hitting me. I knew when I looked at her I had so much pain rise up inside of me and obviously not seconds later the most overwhelming amount of guilt because I was her stinking mom, what the heck. Gosh, just writing this, I’m in tears right now.  It was hell. You see, through much therapy and processing, I started to understand that I was seeing myself in her as a little girl but the problem was, I hadn’t gotten to a place where I loved and accepted me as a little girl. I needed to go deep inside and allow myself to love that little girl. I needed to tell her that it was ok that she was so scared.  I needed to tell her that I’m sorry no one saved her and no one was there for her. I needed to tell her that she is so so loved. I needed to do these things because she is still a part of me. Every piece of our lives is a part of our story that we need to make sure has its place. Whether it was hell on earth or the happiest day ever, it makes who we are and it identifies our being.  It creates our future and writes our story. If we don’t fully connect to every chapter we’ve walked through then each character that comes into our life doesn’t get all of us. How can God use us then? How can we really move on or move forward?

Needless to say this took a lot of work, like everything does right? (eye roll) BUT now my relationship with my daughter ,who is 14, is amazeballs. I mean, our personalities are like the sun and the moon but we make work.  Because I learned to have compassion and love towards myself as a little girl but also toward myself as an adult, I was able to soften so much of my heart towards her and also towards all of my kids. There are things back there my friend, isn’t there?  Back in that past of yours, there are things that you may need to allow to come up. Lay it out, cry over it, scream over it, pray over it, pour Jesus over it, and then learn to love and accept it so that it can become a piece of you in a healthy way. And now move on to the next chapter. You’ve got this! 

‘Be brave enough to heal yourself even when it hurts”

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Press the Restart Button

Isaiah 43:19 (CEB)

“Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness.”

There comes a time when you just have to call it.  You can’t constantly live on the crazy train for forever ya know? Whether it’s in a relationship or a stupid habit or anything in life that just annoys you ha, sometimes you’ve gotta step back and say, I’m just gonna restart.  Gosh, there have been so many, like so so many times I have used the phrase ‘crazy train’. I mean, I can get away with it cause I’m literally on the crazy train with mental illness ha. (It’s ok, you can laugh at that. If you know me at all by now, I’m pretty real with all that. I mean, I joke about the fact that all knives in my house are dull. haha) Any who….. We are all on it at some point.  Doing the same crap over and over thinking it will work at some point when really, it’s making it worse. And what’s funny is in the middle of running in circles, we are praying to Jesus to fix it while still running the same track. Seriously, we’re crazy! 

Maybe it’s time we stop and decide to hit the restart button.  Maybe it’s time we shut everything down and reboot. Maybe it’s time to actually lose all the info that we’ve stored up so far thinking that it was gonna help us and start fresh.  Maybe it’s time we look at it with new eyes, The way that we’ve handled situations in the past isn’t working. Maybe the habit that you formed to cope like I did, is only getting worse.  Each day you wake up thinking, I’m gonna kick this today, when an hour later you are in the closet, knife in hand, or at the toilet, or screaming at the ones you love. It’s time to hit the restart button and it’s time to let Jesus hit it for you. It’s scary to let Him come into it cause you don’t know what His track for your train will look like right?  We like the control in our hands cause at least we can see where it’s going. BUT, it hasn’t gone so well so far so…..maybe just maybe it’s time to get off. 

How amazing is it that we have a Father that just hangs out waiting for us to just get off the train and run to Him.  He doesn’t shake His head or pull us off like, hey idiot, get off the train already! No! He’s patient, kind, and loves us right where we are at with no judgement whatsoever!  I’m thinking we need to trust him with our trains. What’s it gonna hurt? 

“When you let go you create space for better things to enter you life.”

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What If?

James 4:14 (CEB)

“You don’t really know about tomorrow.  What is your life? You are a mist that appears for only a short while before it vanishes.”

What if tomorrow wasn’t an option?  How would we live today? How would we treat people?  How would we look at them? Would things matter the same as they do right now? Tough one isn’t it? I was spending time with my close gal pal and after we unloaded about all of our crap in life, she shared a situation that just happened where a loved one she knew was talking with a friend of theirs not 8 hours ago and next thing you know, they found out, they passed away. Well crap, that put everything into perspective. Now listen, I’m not all about guilt.  It’s not like we sat there and were like, well, I guess we should just suck it up and pretend we’ve got no issues. No! What this does is make you take a step back and be like, ok, what’s really important here. 

As I pondered this the rest of the day, I totally kept coming back to this deep emotion I felt years ago. This almost airy yet strong feeling. Like nothing mattered. The flowers looked different.  The world around me was brighter. Grace fell like rain upon every situation. Nothing could touch me or tear at me or hinder me or escape me or knock at me. It was right after I tried to take my life and a second chance was given. Gosh, I wish I could’ve bottled that up and as the years went on, drank a little bit of it as needed.  I totally would’ve shared it with you all, just so you know. I’m nice like that. 

So what do we do with this friends?  You know what we are gonna do? We are gonna live today to it’s complete and utter fullest. We are gonna love deeper.  We are gonna sing louder. We are gonna hug harder (but don’t hurt anyone). We are gonna raise our hands higher in worship.  We are gonna speak kindly about ourselves. We are gonna trust deeper even though it’s scary. We are gonna punch fear in the face as if we wouldn’t have another chance.  We are gonna dance in freedom because you know why? Each day we get a new beginning, we get a new start. That’s a gift. Not everyday will feel like it’s one ha, but we can try and live each day as if it’s our last. 

“Life is a gift, wake up every day and realize that.”

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Anyone?

Psalm 10:1

“Why do you stand so far away, Lord, hiding yourself in troubling times?”

Why didn’t anybody save me?  I was so young and so scared.  How could no one know what was going on? Was I not enough?  Did they know and no one said anything? These were some of the thoughts that constantly went through in my head as a little girl. And if Jesus was real, why wasn’t he stopping this? But the way that we grew up was to keep quiet about things like this.  You kind of, shove it under the rug and it will fix itself. Mistakes and wrong decisions made you feel like an outcast. Although this was not my mistake, I felt like it was all growing up. Like I must have done something wrong. If everyone thinks this person was so great, then it must be me.  Man, it was hell to untangle so much of this yet so so worth it. I’m still untangling but I’m pretty sure that’s where all of us are at with a lot of stuff, right?!  

Am I enough? This is a question I struggled with constantly.  Because I was brought up in a Christian home, I had such a difficult time separating what happened to me and Jesus love. I mean, if this is what love looked like then I want nothing to do with it ya know? I coincided him not saving me with he must not love me and I’m not enough. This thinking is what really led me down an ugly path.  As I move forward, there are a million times I’ve asked him, why the heck are you not pulling me out of this ugly mess? Am I not enough for you? Yes I am and so are you. We are enough. We base our ‘enough’ on feelings instead of standing on truth. Friends, please know that I’m completely and utterly preaching to myself here. Because we believe in a God who is greater than all the ugly and all the pain, we can stand with confidence to say, I AM ENOUGH! We have to fill our minds with the honest truth that is right before us. Whether we truly believe it or not really at the moment, we need to speak it out.  If I chose to stay in my past and in the horrible wreckage, my life would look a lot different today or I wouldn’t be here at all. My ‘enough’ needed to come from a deep rooted place in my soul that was planted by my Jesus. I had and still need to quiet the nasty voices that constantly wreak havoc. Those around us are not meant to make us feel enough. They are not fully capable and we can’t expect it of them. Between you and Christ, that’s where your ‘enough’ sits. The power that is living inside of you is a gift and we need to use that to push aside the idiotic crap that floods our minds. 

I WAS saved.  It didn’t look like I thought it would but in the end, I was saved. I know I’ve touched on this in devos before but gosh darn, we need to keep hearing it!  At least I do! You Are Enough!! We Are Enough! We are worth more than gold! And in the end, our worth is not defined by our mistakes or the mistakes of others but by the unique beauty that radiates out of you.  No one, NO ONE has what you have. Now go kill it out there! 

“You are worth finding, worth knowing, worth loving. You and all your one million layers.”

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Not Their Job

I Peter 2:9 (CEB)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God’s own possession.  You have become this people so that you may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light.”

We can’t always depend on others to build us up.  We can’t hang on every word that is spoken in order for us to be better people.  Do you remember growing up and if a boy or girl would say something nice to you, that was it, you could die and go to heaven cause life was good. It’s so natural and we all do it.  We want to feel that acceptance and love. It’s not wrong but it can get a little scary. The problem is, what if those peeps around us tell us something not kind or a little more abrupt, then what?  We kind of spiral downwards. Maybe they are speaking some truth in a situation but maybe they are also speaking out of their own pain. Then we get tangled in the belief of what they said and it just gets nasty. 

We are all human and we all do it. Many times we try and have good intentions to go with our words but unfortunately we live in reality where the perfect words that can speak into our lives can and should only come from Jesus. I think we all go through periods in our lives when our self esteem can just be shot.  What we think of ourselves is just not pretty so we end up trying to get fed from others. The actions and the words from around become our safe zone. But one wrong slip up from the outside and we are caught in the belief of what they said. When we believe in a Father who fearfully and wonderfully designed us, we get to block out what’s around us. I’m gonna get real a sec (surprise, surprise), there was a time a few years back where I starved myself.  Probably ate about 5 pretzels a day and a few vegetables. Wouldn’t even drink water because it would make the scale move. People around me had no idea, obviously, of what was really going on so they were trying to be nice. Telling me how amazing I looked because of all the weight I lost. I LOVED it yet it pushed me farther and farther. I thrived off of all those words because I wanted to feel loved. My body was stolen from me when I was so young that as I continued to grow up, I didn’t know how to love me. I depended on others to fill that. Not good. I say all of this because we have a beautiful and lovely Daddy who needs to fill our souls and hearts with all the amazing words that really describe who we are. Ultimately, no one else should matter and truth be told, that can be incredibly freeing! 

You are exceptional and not because I think so but because Christ thinks so. Who you are and what you do in this life makes a difference no matter who is speaking at you.  Know that He made you so uniquely that really no one can speak into the depths of your soul like He can. Spend time with Him today. Let Him fill you with the truth. You kick some serious you-know-what.  I promise that’s what He’s gonna say (wink, wink)

“You are beautiful I know because I made you! -God”

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You Feel Me?

Matthew 11:28

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened and I will give you rest.”

Picture it…..Spring Break, millions of people, water park, 4 kids, the end! I’m gonna be real here too, hubby and I already are in a not so awesome spot in life so let’s just add that to this amazing trip that’s about to go down. Bottom line, we got there on day 1 and left on day 2. The plan was to stay 3 days but that wasn’t happening.  Words went down, feelings were hurt, it affected our kids in a way they didn’t realize, and I was just done. We packed up from the resort and were out but everyone was hungry so we stopped at a restaurant before hitting the road. I was pretty hurt and sat in silence. This time around I just couldn’t put a game face on for them. Even it I did, they would see through it. Needless to say, when mom is silent, everyone is silent (eye roll here). The waitress even said how we all looked really down and tired. Ugh! 

Finally my daughter asked, are you guys ok? I was like, nope, not ok. We openly talked through it as a family and were able to drive home with no awkward silence ha!  You’ve totally been there right? 

I bring this story up because there are many of us that are the feelers of the room. I’m one of them and my daughter is too.  You can walk into a room or situation and know exactly who is having a bad day, what group is totally too cool for school, who is feeling super depressed, and just overall heaviness or lightness that is in the air. The tendency though, being a feeler, is to take on everyone’s emotions.  We feel like we need to fix or help all the bad mojo that’s floating in the room. Nope. Not our job. I’m giving you permission to stand in the room with a big tent around you. You may be the ‘go to’ person for everyone which is beautiful. It means your heart and soul are comforting and you allow peace to flow through you, BUT, you need to make sure that peace is still connected to you and therefore you enjoy it as well. Don’t allow it to be sucked dry and next thing you know you are left with the heavy weight of others. This is the reason we have a great big God.  We can love and listen but we don’t need to carry. We need to release it so that the heaviness for you and them is completely handed over to Christ. We think that fixing for others is a good thing….well…..not so much. One, it enables them and they will be back for more. Two, we can’t play God. It just isn’t our role. 

Now, don’t be going around with your fingers in your ear saying, ‘lalalala’, ignoring life around you.  Ha! We are called to have empathy for one another and deep compassion. Those around us, for the most part, are not asking us to take on their pain, they just want someone to listen. I’m constantly teaching my daughter this as she continues to build relationships. Sit with them, listen, pray, love, and then release it. 

“I may not be able to solve all of your problems, but I promise you won’t have to face them alone.”

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Pick Your Poison

Isaiah 55:8 (AMP)

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.”

I read this verse and I’m like, thank goodness.  We would be in some serious trouble if my thoughts were Jesus thoughts.  This world would be one heaping hot mess of crazy. But that second part, ‘nor are your ways My ways.’  Hmmmm……got me thinking a bit. What ‘way’ are we going that maybe isn’t His way. AND, is there something special up His sleeve that I’m not seeing?  Maybe I keep on truckin my way because it’s the smooth path. I would be taking a huge leap of faith if I really dug into what His way is. It’s a bit scary, isn’t it?  Yet it could totally change your life. 

This ‘way’ that Jesus may have for your life could be a million different things.  Does it have to do with a relationship? A job situation? Maybe setting up some boundaries where needed? Moving? Speaking up? What has been tugging on your heart that you are like, I know I should be heading that direction but I think I’m gonna pee in my pants if I do.  That’s the way Jesus wants you to go then. He has an extra pair of underwear when you start walking His path. Ha! Can I be real? Sure I can cause you aren’t here to stop me anyways. (wink) I like to stay in my ugly path. I’ve mentioned this before but I don’t have an issue with change unless its inside of me. I like to think I know how to figure it out my way.  Yea, hasn’t gone real well so far! Between cutting, trying to commit suicide, and the list goes on, I’m thinking he’s trying to show me something. We don’t get to pick and choose which way of His we like and will do and which one we won’t. He’s the Chief and in total and complete honesty, His way is best. How many times have we started walking down our path and we get bombarded by nasty bugs and mean critters. 

Here’s what’s crazy and how we know we are on the right path.  Inside of you, there’s this peace and stillness. Although the road He has for us seem ridiculously mind-blowing, as soon as you step foot on it, your heart changes.  Everything begins to fall into place. You love different, speak different, enjoy life more, it just works. Why do we question it? Because we have issues. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  Although if we didn’t, I wouldn’t have anything to write about! ANYWAYS, back to the point. Follow the yellow brick road Jesus has planned out for you. Just go and ask Him if you are on the right one.  Promise you, He will make it crystal clear. He wants what’s best for you. He has amazing things in store for your life. It’s time to grab that extra pair of underwear and start your journey. 

“Just because God’s path isn’t always understandable, doesn’t mean it’s not the right path.”

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Honest to Gosh Truth

Proverbs 11:3 (CEV)

“If you do the right thing, honesty will be your guide.  But if you are crooked, you will be trapped by your own dishonesty.”

Being truthful, honest, and real about life and our emotions is huge for me in our household.  Hiding emotions or shoving them in is not happening, I don’t care if the house gets torn apart with anger, it needs to come out.  It’s interesting through the years to watch Quinn, my high functioning autistic boy, learn emotions. There are some he just can’t handle or understand. He hates…HATES when anyone is crying or sad.  Like literally gets angry. It’s an emotion that he just can’t quite wrap is mind around so his ‘go to’ is always anger and frustration. Hence why we’ve had holes in the walls and a shattered iPad.  The boy is strong! So needless to say, I’ve had to approach emotions with each child differently yet with the same truth. 

Before my podcast game out, telling my full story, I wanted to make sure I sat the kids down and told them…….everything. There was no way in God’s green earth they were gonna hear it from someone else’s lips. They knew bits and pieces but didn’t know about the sexual abuse or the trying to commit suicide piece.  The cutting….i think they knew or they said they were wondering about the scars on my arms after I shared it all with them. I mean, when your momma just keeps going back for more tattoos, maybe you start to think somethings up. Ha! Or that she really loves them, which is also true. 

I sat my 3 oldest down, knowing that my 4th wasn’t ready for it, and began from the beginning until today. They were amazing. Had great questions.  Asking about sexual abuse in general, cutting and why, understanding how I got so low that I didn’t want to be here anymore, things like that. My one boy was funny, he’s like, did you ever use a machete?  Ummmm…..no kiddo cause then I’d have no limbs. Love it! In the end, one said, this really DID bring you closer to God, didn’t it? Can I get an AMEN!!! They get it! My story is about the healing Christ has done in my life.  And because I’ve been so real and honest with them, they see the struggles and will see the struggles of life but will know, God wins in the end! 

Honesty is so so powerful! The realness of what life is right now is just truth.  The more we embrace and sit in the honesty of where we are at brings about freedom. The more we come before God with where we are at with him, or a truth that needs to be spoken in a relationship, or maybe it’s honesty about ourselves, the more real the truth of Christ can sit inside of us. Fear can play a huge role in not allowing truth to set us free. Fear is a liar. It will destroy. Be real, be honest, be truthful to yourself and with those close to you. Your heart will then be open to another deep level of healing and restoration in your life.

“Truth and honesty will set you free.”

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It’s Deep

John 16:33 (ESV)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 

Dealing with the sexual abuse piece of my life has been nothing short of gut wrenching yet complete with freedom and a new found strength.  It steals the essence of what your soul and heart should be centered on. It makes you question the worth you even have in this world. It rips the courage out of your hand to believe you are beautiful. 

I held this secret for about 35 years of my life.  Well, I held it from those that would be closely connected.  I had a circle of peeps that knew. Needless to say, I sat in the ugly for a long, long period of time.  Going to therapy, of course, and trying to rebuild what I had lost was an ongoing process. I also had to live a second life so to speak. Protecting everyone close meant I had to constantly disconnect from myself and live in a lie. Dude, my head was pretty messed up.  I’m not gonna lie. 

I don’t speak these things for everyone to feel bad for me cause seriously, we have ALL or are still dealing with some pretty nasty……poop (Wink). I say these things because I’m still breathing and so are you.  We are still getting up in the morning, well, maybe barely on some days but hey, we are! I’m trying to process through what happiness looks like in the middle of the sh**. I know I had glimpses of it when thing were at it’s lowest. Is it weird? Is it possible? Is it normal? I think it’s a real thing. Christ talks about how he has overcome the world.  He has overcome our pain, so although it will continue to exist, a peace or happiness can still flow through us BUT we need to choose it. We need to understand that our happiness is not mounted on our circumstances and not defined by the roller coaster that our emotions are going through. Our happiness is grounded on the pure love and pureness of our Jesus. It’s grounded in the fact that He’s not gonna let us go. We have to sit, and breath, and allow is holy presence to fill the deep wounds that we carry. This may not mean you are gonna start running around the house, ripping off your clothes, laughing and singing.  (not sure why I decided you would need to rip of your clothes but each to his own ha) What it means is we are allowing ourselves to release the power that our circumstances or emotions have and are standing in the deep rooted security we have within ourselves and with Christ. 

Take some time today to really sit in His presence.  Really allow him to feel and understand where you sit with life right now.  Allow Him to just overcome you with His goodness and utter hope.

“True happiness is deep within your heart.”

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Dear Younger Me

1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)

“Let know one despise you because your youth but set the believers and example through in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”

So farting was happening in my house the other day cause, you know, that’s how we roll over here. No holding back emotions and I guess farting too, ha. Of course, we then talked about how my husband farted on our first date.  They still think it’s hysterical. Seriously, full blown ripped it walking down the street in Chicago. I was like, I guess this is real then. I had another story pop in my head that I hadn’t thought of in years. I was in high school and we were all hanging out in the gym.  I was laying on the floor while girls and guys were sitting around me. One guy decided it would be funny to step on my stomach……you can totally see where this is going. Yep, totally farted! In front of EVERYONE! HORRIFYING!!!! I still can relive that feeling of laughing on the outside and dying on the inside.  In that stage of life, you cared so much about what people thought ESPECIALLY guys. It was rough.

I thought to myself, what would I tell that girl today?  What would I want to say to her now that she didn’t realize then?  First, to choose not to wear half the shirts that were in her closet!  I mean, do you look back sometimes and are like, what was I thinking? Obviously, the time of life was different, but still. Get it together! But really, I’d tell her to stand tall. To walk those hallways as if you owned them. Everyone is feeling and thinking the same thing you are, they are just hiding behind their own mask. The confusion or the lost feeling inside of you isn’t truth and does not define you. You are amazingly beautiful and they just can’t see it yet. God don’t make no mistakes sister so stop judging your hair, or your zits, or if your stomach is flat, or if you have the best clothes (although we could’ve done better, hehe) You are a warrior! 

Hmmmm, interesting that these are still things I should and need to be telling myself today. So then I’ll be sure to tell her, none of this goes away so just embrace it, right?  One last thing I’d tell her; God is real and alive. Although He is constantly talked about around you, He truly does live inside of you. Lean into His truth instead of the truth you want to believe around you. In the end, the beauty and love He has for you will never compare to what you think you’ll get from anyone else. 

Your turn! What would you tell your high school self today? What do you think he/she would need to hear in order to handle a gymnasium farting situation? Are some of these truths something you also need to hear? Today? In the end, we tell them to embrace the awkward, smile, laugh, love Jesus, and be free!  Sounds like something we need to do now! 

‘Dear younger self, you are perfect exactly as you are.’

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It Ain’t Done Yet

Philippians 1:6

“I’m sure about this; the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus.”

Your story isn’t over yet and neither is mine.  One of my tattoos is an arrow with ‘Warrior’ in it.  The ‘I’ is dotted with a semicolon. A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentences, but they didn’t. The semicolon has now been used as a symbol in the mental illness community or anyone that supports it. It is a reminder that we are the author and the sentence is our life but the best part is, we have an even bigger Author of our story. 

Something that I’ve been processing through lately is that although I know I’m not defined by my past, I’m also not allowing it to be a part of my story. I don’t allow each chapter to be used in order to make my super incredible ending which it will be, you just watch.  I’m a work in progress so patience is much needed. And I’m stubborn so that doesn’t help. Ha. Enough about my issues, well actually, I guess they are allowed to play a part in my devo today because that’s exactly what I’m trying to say. There are pieces to every story that maybe you’d like to skip through.  Maybe there’s something in your life that you are like, if people read that chapter, they’d burn the book. OR maybe those things that are amazing about you or that people have seen and gravitated towards, you’ve put an excuse on them. Handing them off as if they were someone else’s. You say something like, I’m like that because it’s what we were taught growing up.  Or I’m super talented because I had a slave driver teacher. Ummmm….don’t do that! You are super amazing at things because it’s you! It’s a part of you and you are writing chapters in your life that will be good and bad but it won’t have an ending if each piece isn’t in it. It won’t have a kick butt finish if we don’t learn to center all things back to deepest parts of our soul, back to God’s amazing creation inside of us.  In order for our book to be complete, we need to be whole and everyone’s ‘whole’ will look different. (I made a funny right there but I’ll just keep going!) I tried to put an ending to my book but God was like, nope, not done yet and forever I will be grateful. Not because it’s been super easy, but because I took my sentence and began writing a period where a semicolon should have been. Semicolons, in my eyes, are freedom. They allow me to keep writing, keep fixing, keep accepting, keep loving me and allow me to continuously seek the love of Christ. 

As your story enfolds, look at yourself and realize each part has a purpose and it’s beautiful but more importantly each piece makes you whole. Your heart is still beating and loving because each section fits exactly where it’s supposed too.  You are not defined by your story, you are made worthy and valuable because of your story! Keep on writing. 

“God is still writing your story.”

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Well That’s Different

Isaiah 64:8

“But now, Lord, you are our Father.  We are the clay, and you are our potter.  All of us are the work of your hand.”

My son loves spaghetti for breakfast.  I know, a little wacky and my other kiddos are like, seriously?  Where did you come from? And not just leftovers, like, I had to cook up spaghetti at 7am.  Isn’t it funny how some people will eat whatever meal at whatever time and some have to do exactly like it’s taught?  So I once again had to pull out the whole, ‘we are all created differently and we will all like and do different things in life’ speech. I get an eye roll of course, so then I’m like, you want me to pull out all the crazy you do?  Ok, now it sinks in for them.. ha! 

We are all different aren’t we? Aside from color or size or physical appearance, we all handle things differently. We tend to look at people in a different light when they don’t respond the way we would, or react to situation different that we think they should. We get stuck in our assumption that the way we do things is really the only right way or at least maybe I just think these things.  In relationships, this can be really difficult. Trying to understand how they act or respond is not about trying to hurt you but really maybe it’s all they know. This is challenging but I think that it’s why some of the kindness in this world is slowly fading. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it all day long if I need too, we have no idea what’s going on behind someone’s eyes. Even when they are doing the most hurtful things ever or just eating spaghetti for breakfast, that’s what they know. It’s not our job to change them or make them see how our way is so much better.  Maybe instead we are suppose to see things from their eyes a little. I try to do this with my kids constantly. They are all so different and I want to better understand how I can help them in this crazy life instead of changing them to be more like me. (Well, if I’m being honest, it would totally make the world a better place but……. Joking!)

What I’m trying to say is that when people say; see them through the eyes of Jesus, I think they are onto something.  Just say’n. Our beautiful Jesus loves us exactly where we are at every day all day. I want people to look at me that way because sometimes I need to feel what Jesus says tangibly. In turn, we need to look at others that way too. 

You are amazingly wonderful and kick butt on so many levels. Let’s spread our kindness today. Let’s allow our eyes to be open to what’s beyond just the outside of those we come in contact with today. 

‘Life is not being rich, being popular, being highly educated or being perfect. It is about being real, being humble and being kind.’

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A Wall is Needed

Psalm 74:17 (CEB)

“You set all the boundaries of the earth in place. Summer and winter? You made them

Boundaries are needed.  The End. I had not understood the extreme importance of them until after I had spoken my truth about the sexual abuse that happened to me as a little girl. I spoke in a previous devo about the loneliness that came after speaking out that really surprised me. Man, my heart just kept getting ripped up by how people were responding or what they thought I should do or say etc.  The other day, I was surrounded by some, and left reeling with pain and in tears all the way home and you know what my kids said as they are hugging and loving on me? ‘Mom, if they make you feel that way, then we just shouldn’t be around them.’ Well crap! There ya go. My kids get it so why the heck am I not standing on my boundaries when needed. 

See, boundaries exist to protect our hearts. It’s also to protect the relationship of those you need to put a gate around. So when I came across this verse I was like, see, God even made boundaries for the earth.  I mean, He told the ocean to only go so far so that the land could be seen. He made the Seasons, stopping them at some point so the next one could start. Although, I think in Chicago, he made Spring and Fall a bit too short or maybe we just didn’t get the memo. Ha. You see where I’m going with this though. If the God of the Universe understood and really made the idea of boundaries, it’s ok that we choose to set them up too. We are fearful of hurting the other person, or afraid everyone will walk away once we place a few lines in the sand but it’s not truth. And honestly, I’m speaking to myself here too cause this one is hard, if they can’t respect them and aren’t able to still love you through them, they shouldn’t be in your life. There are moments of pain and negative actions that come from others and radiated onto us.  It’s not necessarily their fault cause we do it too but that’s why the idea of having a boundary is so real and needed. We can’t heal and move forward in life if we are constantly brought back down. This also doesn’t mean that these boundaries will be up forever. Maybe it’s just for a time, but in the end, you need to love and respect yourself enough to set up a divide between yourself and that which is damaging your heart and soul. In the end, Jesus will protect the hearts of all that are involved. 

Ask yourself, what do I need?  Do I feel supported and loved? Am I supported in my faith and beliefs? Do I feel responsible for someone else’s happiness? Really sit back and pray, evaluate where you are right now emotionally. You deserve just as much blessing and happiness as the next person. Boundaries are healthy and you are a Rock star. And scene…….

“Having healthy boundaries is a form of self-love and self-respect.”

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Loosen Your Grip

Psalm 16:5,6 (CEV)

“You, Lord, are all I want! You are my choice, and you keep me safe. You make my life pleasant, and my future is bright.”

So I have a new table in my family room.  Don’t get too excited for me yet. My 9 year old decided he wanted to make a table, ya know, out of wood because I have no other tables here? (Bring in my pondering face) Funny thing is, he even measured a table that already exists that he could use but just didn’t suffice. I said, Cooper, let’s put it up in the playroom (so that mom’s ocd doesn’t kick into high gear).  Nope, this bad boy needs to be seen by the world and with the rest of the furniture that he feels it belongs with. Alright, I take a deep breath and I’m like, how about for a few days and then we will find it the real home it deserves. That seemed to work until he decided he wants to stain it aqua blue and thinks it would fit perfectly. My heart is now palpating and the table will be re positioned in the middle of the night. 

So for the past few years, I’ve really tried to walk away from the idea that my home needs to be perfect, that everything needs to have its place ALL the time.  Friends, I used to be sooooo bad. Like, when my kids were young, I’d walk behind them while they were playing and immediately clean up as soon as they were done.  Yea, issues, me, right there. Let’s just say, I have a control issue. As I step back from my table situation, I realized that because of my lovely issue, my response could be really hurting my kiddos’ heart. I mean, he wants to show off his hard work. AND THEN, I stepped back even further and was like, hmmmmm, that’s kind of what happens when I try to control my own shenanigans. I think things should look a certain way and turn out a certain way and…..well it goes on and on. When I do, I just end up hurting myself in the long run. Man, I’m doing a lot of hurt’n around here. Sometimes, ok maybe all the time, God’s like, girl, I know what I’m doing, just let go of the wheel a second and let me do my thang. Why do we think we always know better? We are up against The King of the Universe who is perfect! Like, seriously? When I look at it that way, I’m like, shoot, I’m sure you’ve got a WAY better plan then what I’m thinking. Let me just chill with my cup of coffee over here and allow you to ‘clean up’ where it’s needed. Control is a bugger. As we know, it’s really hard to understand sometimes what God is doing BUT when we look back at our lives, could you imagine where we would be if he DIDN’T take control? As difficult as it is for me, I’m gonna leave the table. At least long enough to make it painful for me when someone comes over! HAHAHA Honestly though, it will remind me to just release the feelings that don’t belong there. It will make me look at the situation differently. It will help me remember to release the control in many areas of my life. 

Do you need my table for a reminder? No honestly, I’ll share ha! Let’s get real though, there’s a piece in your life that you need to give away.  There’s a situation or decision or just life all together that you need to give over to our Big Guy. Do it, what’s it gonna hurt. 

“These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.”

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I’ll Meet You There

Proverbs 18:24 (AMP)

“The man of too many friends will be broken in pieces and come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

It was my darkest time with cutting. It’s all I thought about and the only thing I wanted to do.  Yet, that was the time I saw everyone disappear. The time that I needed people the most but didn’t know how to express it correctly, obviously, the world had ran away. They got scared.  Didn’t know how to handle what was happening. I can see that. I get it but guess what, that alone probably killed my heart more than any crap that I was sitting in at the time. So I’m here to tell you, don’t do that, and I can’t either.  

Pain is hard and it comes in a million different forms and dealt with in a million different ways but we cannot be fearful of it.  We need to sit in it with each other. No one is asking us to play Jesus and make it all go away but they are asking us to BE Jesus. We’ve all had times in our lives when we are hurting so incredibly and aren’t reaching out. We have this assumption that no one wants to deal with us or be with us when life kicks us down.  We need to change that. Those are the times when each of us need someone more than ever. There doesn’t need to be words, but man, don’t walk away when people are in need the most even when you are beyond understanding of what to do. I know with me, people couldn’t grasp the fact that I would slice my arms or legs etc. They couldn’t understand why that would do me any good.  (That’s for another devo though cause the questions people ask or things they say, super mind blowing!) Because of that not understanding piece, they walked away. I didn’t ask anyone to understand nor did I really care if they did. What was happening was real and was gonna continue whether they stayed or left BUT maybe if they stayed, I would have one less scar on my arm today or one less sleepless night back then. Sitting with someone in their pain isn’t about you, it’s about them. Jesus says, “Never will I leave you, and never will forsake you.” I’m so so grateful for that but guess what, we are here to also live that out for others.  We are here so that others can tangibly feel that ‘never leave you’ love. Lots of things made me question my faith back in the day but I can vividly remember this situation being a huge eye opener for me. You know why? Those who walked away from me were supposedly Christians. 

Don’t be afraid of someone else’s pain or the way they handle that pain.  You aren’t there to fix it but you are there to love, hug, sit, cry, and just be WITH THEM. There’s no greater showing of love than a friend who stands inside the pain of the other. 

“A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t they lay down beside you and listen.”

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Get Behind Thee

Philippians 3:13 (AMP)

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”

Oh friends of Jesus, this one is a hard one for me but I’m bringing it out anyways cause I mean, I’m really writing these to kick my butt. I’m sure you’ve got it all together! Wink! 

Put your flip’n past behind you, would you already?!?!?! Totally yelling at myself. Here’s the thing and this is what I’m slowly learning. My past is not gonna disappear, I know, shocker. It takes me a while to get things, ha. Also, if I continuously let it control me, I can’t move forward into a brighter future, which is really what we all want, right? Ok, that’s it.  Devo done. Just do it. Joking! When have you EVER known me to not at least write like 500 words because I always have more deep thoughts by Heather Follett.

Here’s where I’m at with it.  It’s not going anywhere and honestly, it will keep coming up because different triggers in life will cause emotions from those wounds to rear their ugly head but it’s what you do with it.  Do you decide to dive in and see where it’s coming from, how to shift it to a healing place? OR do you decide, I’m just gonna stir in this icky place and play victim. That is SO HARD for me to type. I’m such a, stand up, brush off the dirt, and let’s move forward, EXCEPT when it comes to my past sometimes. Yes, we are victims of whatever pain or dark situations that have happened back then but that does not have to define us and we should not stay there.  We have the freedom in Christ to heal the wounds and allow our past to stay where it should, in the past. If we hold onto the wounds or negative emotions that the past stirs, it stops us from opening up the doors in our hearts and lives to move forward. I so so get the fact that honestly, it’s comfortable right? This pain that we have experienced for so long seems to almost be a blanket. It keeps us safe and warm yet guess what, when it starts pouring rain and you have this ‘blanket’ on, it gets a bit heavy doesn’t it.  Doesn’t feel so nice and warm anymore. It’s time to live free of the weight and give permission to ourselves to move forward. The sweet presence of beautiful days await us.

One thing that helps me is constantly speaking out loud or writing down what I need to untangle from my emotions of my past when they come up.  Speak it, write it down, do something to get those thoughts out of your head. Release it so that Jesus can come in and start doin’ His thang. 

 “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.”

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Not Gonna Happen

Hebrews 12:2

“(Looking away from all that will distract us) focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So, big shocker, but I’m here to tell you that you can’t change people! I know, you’re shocked but here’s what’s funny, we still try and do it. First of all, we think that  everyone should be like us. I mean, come on, totally makes sense. Second, we assume they can see it or know how to change when maybe they honestly can’t.

It’s been about a 1 ½ since I’ve spoken my truth about being sexually abused as a child.  All in all, the support is off the charts. A few were on this journey with me and already knew and a few weren’t surprised because they’ve seen me or knew of the more difficult path I’ve walked throughout life. There are one or two that have, in the past, consumed my inner being. Their reaction or where they are at now is, let’s just say, different.  I couldn’t grasp some of the words, or thoughts, or action that came from them and I took it to heart. BUT I’m here to tell you that I’m slowly releasing them. When their names come up now, I don’t immediately have my heart race or want to go hide in a corner. I now know that I can’t change or fix them. It’s not my job. It’s Gods. This is my story and this is my truth AND this is MY HEALING.  Guess what, it’s yours too.

You have the choice to decide if you are going to allow those around you, that may not be in your corner, to control you or just ‘be’.  You have a story. You have a healing journey that you are on and you’ve gotta realize that many, many aren’t gonna understand or see it through your eyes.  They don’t have too. That was difficult for me to grasp. Shouldn’t they understand what I went through? Shouldn’t they see how I need to move forward and heal?  Unfortunately no, they don’t. We can’t expect them too either. God puts all of us on our own journey with Him, first and foremost. Those around us are also on their own journey. It’s not our job to get them to see that ours is better, or harder, or different. We’ve gotta stay on our path, eyes fixed on Jesus.  I’ve gotten to a place where I’m asking myself, is it worth it? Is it really worth all my beautiful, God-given energy to try to fix them or get them to see it? Nope. Negative. Nada. It doesn’t help me move forward and it won’t help you either.

Today, you are gonna release one or two or maybe a handful of people that you are holding onto.  Those who you are holding out hope for that have hurt you, or don’t understand you, or plain out suck.  You can’t fix them, it’s too much and too big. That’s why we’ve got a great big Daddy who takes those jobs over.  Let him have it. Allow yourself the freedom to move forward.

“Sometimes you have to let go of people.  Not because you don’t care, but because your peace is more important.”

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You Gotta Use It

I Peter 4:10

“And serve each other according to the gift each person has received, as good managers of God’s diverse gifts.”

So my hidden talent is, I can sound like the lion from The Wizard of Oz.  I’m gonna go with that when God talks about using our gifts. Joking! As I’ve mentioned before, music is the gift that God blessed me with but I had a moment of real struggle. Like, is that it?  Do I have any other gifts? Do we only get one and go with it? Do I like anything else? That feeling of, there’s more and maybe I’m missing it. My gift was used at different points of my life which made me turn around and not want it anymore or use it. I had to sit back and really figure out what it meant to me. Was I using music to constantly please others or was I using it to fulfill my heart and God’s direction for me?

What is your passion?  What is your gift? There can be more than one but you’ve gotta use it.  It could be music, cooking, something businessy (yea, I can’t even describe what that would be cause I don’t function well on that side of my brain.), hospitality, encouragement, fitness, health, leadership, being a mom,  I mean, the list can go on forever but you need to find what makes you tick. It’s our calling to do so but even more than that, you won’t feel fulfilled. It’s easy to sit in the mundane of life and not jump into the excitement of where our passion and drive could take us. This doesn’t mean if you don’t go and run a company or make an album you’re the biggest loser on the street.  So far from that. You may be amazing at encouraging those who are down or bringing meals to families that are struggling. I can’t even cook so no one would want my meals. Ha! The idea is that with that gift, you are blessing others and in return, God will bless the pants off of you. It’s about using your gift to gift someone else. We all have something special that He’s given us so don’t be so quick to compare your gift to someone else’s that may look bigger on the outside. You can have so much impact on someone’s life without anyone even knowing. God sees, the rest of the world doesn’t need too. Remember, digging into your soul and finding what moves you is a gift to yourself and will touch the hearts of those around you.

Take some time and write out the things you love, the things that drive you, what makes your heart jump.  That’s your passion. That’s your gift. Now go out and kick butt with it!

“Finding out our gifts in life is part of our journey to becoming enlightened human beings.”

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I Thought I Fixed You

Mark 10:27 (Amplified)

“Looking at them, Jesus said, ‘With people, it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’”

Why does it keep coming around?  Do you ever have a thing that you swear you conquered and it rears its’ ugly head yet again…..and again….and again?  Like what the heck? I don’t even have enough fingers or toes to start counting. There are times when I’m like, I’m 42 years old and why in the world do I still struggle with the longing for sharp objects or why do I want to hide in a corner all day cause my hair didn’t work out right? I mean, we’ve all experienced moments when we had complete freedom for like, 2 minutes, ha, then bam, the negativity starts again. I think, am I gonna have this problem forever? Am I always gonna be angry with my body, or want to cut when things hit the fan, or have a sharp tongue?

The answer might be yes.  I mean, whether these lovely issues keep rearing their head or new ones start to emerge, we are gonna have things to fix.  Ones that will feel like they are taking over our lives and others that are just a sliver we need to pull. Here’s the thing though, we believe in a God that can do the impossible.  Especially when we feel like these are all completely impossible to overcome. Now, the typical line here would be, just give it over to God. I’m not saying that this isn’t true, you should, but I don’t feel like it’s not that easy and also, it looks different than just giving it over to him. It’s not really giving it to him, it’s surrendering it.  It’s waving the white flag and being like, I need to not own this anymore and I need for You to take it. See, we want to hold onto it for some reason, whether it’s a control thing, or a ‘dude, I got it’ thing but that’s gotten us nowhere, right? It doesn’t mean that surrendering the ‘thing’ makes it disappear. It does though open the door for him to show you a new way to ‘fix’ it. We need to get out of our heads and allow Christ to do the impossible.  It’s scary, cause we have a way we think that it should be fixed and His way may be different but again, friend, it’s still coming around. Pretty sure you and I are sucking at fixing it and we need to wave the flag. Now, it doesn’t mean that you surrender and this magical moment happens where it’s gone forever BUT you begin to feel like you aren’t alone. Jesus has this way of entering into the crap and putting his hug around your heart. That’s peace.  We need that in order to release the control.

“You fill find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.”

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Psalm 139:14 (AMP)

“I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”

We are on vacation, right, and we walk into our condo which is ridiculously beautiful BUT it has mirrors EVERYWHERE!  Like, I’m talking everywhere. I’m watching TV and you can see like 15 TV’s. I mean, choose your corner and you can watch. My daughter comes out of the bathroom and was like, ‘Seriously? I’m watching myself go pee.’  I’m not joking folks. Totally get the whole, put mirrors in cause it makes the place look bigger but dude, there’s a line. So imagine going and getting my bathing suit on, because of course the kids want to swim before we even unpack, and I walk out and want to die. Now it’s time for a moo moo. Ha. I really really had to pray through that first day. I thought, I cannot allow this to ruin the rest of my trip and then I got to thinking. What do I see in my reflection and do I believe truth or the lies?

Back in the day I would’ve never been able to get back on my feet from something like that. I would’ve sunk into a deep hole and worn shorts and a shirt to the pool. But this time, I was able to see my reflection for what it truly is, not for what the lies of satan wanted me to believe. When your reflection in the mirror comes back at you, do you think, man, that is a fighter right there.  That is a beautiful, bad arse women who is loving on Jesus to make it through this journey. Or do you see the distorted version of what we think is coming back at you. We have so many warped versions of what our reflection in the mirror speaks. We look at the worn down bags under our eyes or the stomach hanging out a little too far, or the side handles hanging over shorts. We are so much more than that. Those bags under your eyes are from sleepless nights with babies or waiting for our kiddos to get home.  That amazing stomach of yours held your loves. Guys, I quickly came to find how much I truly judge myself. We are so quick to look at our reflection and believe the ugly lies that our minds play on us. When in reality, we are so much more. When I look at my reflection, I want to get to a point where I think I’m amazing. Where what I see is what others see and I believe it. Where what I see is how God sees me.

I challenge you for the next time you look at yourself in the mirror to really take a minute and reflect on how you see yourself. Are you giving into the lies or are you allowing yourself to rest in your natural beauty, inside and out. Don’t you dare walk away without saying one good thing about yourself. Xoxo

“Yes, you are the fairest of them all”

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Pass or Fail, Black or White

Jeremiah 6:16 (CEB)

“The Lord proclaims; Stop at the crossroads and look around; ask for the ancient paths.  Where is the good way? Then walk in it and find a resting pace for yourself”

Black or white, pass or fail.  I’m sorry, did you say there’s a middle ground?  Yea, I suck at that. That grey area, that place where you are supposed to allow yourself to maybe pause a bit or think deeply or maybe there’s actually not an answer; nope don’t know where that is, BUT I should and I’m working on it.

I have a tendency to try something or maybe better myself in a certain area and then as soon as I make one little mistake, BAM, I’m out, I failed. I made a mistake and now I look at myself as one.  The world has officially come to an end until I get out of my funk. It doesn’t help that we are in a society where it’s all or nothing, skinny or fat, rich or poor, I mean the list goes on forever. Embracing who we are with flaws is not a normal thing in this world.  Normally there is this constant pressure to ‘get better’ at whatever is holding us back.

That all being said, take a deep breath and know, it’s ok to be just ok. It’s ok to have days where you are just floating through.  Nothing too major. Actually, it’s kind of refreshing. Now, I’ve only had one or two of these moments in my 42 years of existence (ha) but when I did, they were alright, I survived. I ping pong constantly through life and I’m weary of it and you may be too.  When things are ‘white’, we are good, happy, content. But then things can head ‘black’ quickly and we’ve officially hit the rock bottom. Lately, I’ve been pondering this and nature. God created darkness and deep stormy skies. He also created beautiful sunny skies with big fluffy white clouds. It’s all his beautiful creation. WE are His beautiful creation and He doesn’t want us living in this crazy mind game. Yes, there are things that are right and wrong. Don’t end this devo and be like, well, Heather said to live in the grey so today I’m not making any decisions. (Although, your kids would love me!) Truth be told, that sounds good sometimes right?  Reality is, grey area can be rejuvenating, peaceful, and ok to be in. I find I allow second chances in the grey, I’m more patient,, the expectations of life aren’t so heavy. We always think we’ve gotta fix something, fix someone, fix ourselves, and when it doesn’t go according to plan, blackness sets in and ugly rears its head.

So my challenge for you is to allow yourself to sit in the grey. Speak it out loud today at some point. Maybe you start to get worked up about a situation or a challenge headed your way, you say, I’m gonna hang in the grey. I’m gonna rest in Him.  Allow yourself to come down from the game and breath.

“Don’t define your world in balck and white because there is so much hiding amongst the greys”

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Who’s in Your Circle

Ecclesiastes 4:9 & 10 (Amplified)

“Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up.”

Ok, seriously, I was not a big fan of women.  I couldn’t stand getting in groups of them, bible studies with them, going to dinner with them.  I know, I sound like a horrible person but I know some of you can feel me. I hated the petty place it went too.  I couldn’t stand the feeling of fake, or wondering who is judging me even though they are talking super sweet to me.  Is what they are saying really true or are they just trying to be nice, eventually turning to their bff and spilling what they really feel.  Just so much, right? Wasn’t worth it. Easier to shut it off and run!

I had a few friends who wouldn’t allow me to stay in that place. They knew my struggle but just kept at me, chipping away a little at a time until I saw the beauty in having true, authentic relationships. I know my struggle had so much more to do with fear of the unknown.  I’m really good at prejudging things. You know, when you decide what someone is thinking or gonna do before anything even takes place? You’ve already set yourself up for the worst, so then you just get the ‘you know what’ outta there. Now when I see how far all of this has come, there’s no way in God’s green earth I’d still be breathing without some amazing and beautiful women in my life.  As scary as it is, we have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable at some point in order to know who’s in our corner. I just had so much baggage, so much crap that has gone down in my life so you assume when you start talking, they will look at you like you’ve got 15 eyeballs. There may be some that do, and at that point I give you full permission to run and run fast. You need your peeps to sit in the dirt with you and don’t even flinch when you tell them, yea, I slipped up. And for the record, your whole list of Facebook friends DO NOT need to be your bff’s. Take that pressure off right now. God will show your those few who need to know the depths of your soul.   I realized real quickly that although we may be on different playing fields in life, you can find peeps that totally fill up your team.

You are a gift and a treasure.  You deserve beautiful people around you that make you feel that way.  Let the wall down, allow yourself to be real. We all need our tribe. Sometimes they become our true family.

“When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of ‘me too!’ be sure to cherish them.  Because those weirdos are your tribe”

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Do I Have Too?

Proverbs 29:22 & 23 (CEV)

“Angry people stir up conflict; hotheads cause much offense.  Pride lays people low, but those of humble spirit gain honor.”

My son walked into my room one night and ask, “Do you always use your computer in the morning?” Random, but I answered, “Yep.”  and he walked out. The next morning as I open my computer, there was a note and a Target gift card. Friends, I can’t even. He’s been a bit, lets just say, not so nice with his mouth lately and in that note he says, ‘I am sorry for all the times I hurt your feelings, love you.’ AND left me the gift card he got from his grandma for his awards at school.  Like, what? Now, don’t even think for a second I’m teaching my kids good things like this haha! I swear to you, if Jesus wasn’t flowing in their hearts we’d be a hot mess over here. Or at least more than we are already. Needless to say, I wrote like a book back to him because, well, as mom, you’ve got a lot of things you want to say back to that and lord knows he ain’t looking for a hug.  You’d be pushed across the room from a 12 yr old. Honestly, my heart was so full that if he were awake right now, I would immediately buy him a car. Just say’n.

So then I step back and I’m like, hmmmmm, how many times have I walked away from a convo and not realized how I’ve maybe really hurt them. How maybe my pride is getting in the way one too many times. How maybe I didn’t take a ‘humble spirit’ and instead I wanted to win. I wanted to make sure they knew they hurt me whether through the silent treatment, my own one liner digs, whatever it may be.  In the end, my son really convicted my heart. How we treat others shows what’s really happening in our heart right? Like, if I’m having ‘a day’ the world will know cause daggers will come fly’n at your face. It’s in that place though, we’ve gotta be careful. In that place is where we hurt the ones we love the most. Ugh! Even typing this I’m like, geez, sucking at this one. BUT, just like my son, it only takes a quick letter or a quick hug or a smile to undo some of the ‘oops I did it again’ moments. (You are totally singing Brittany right now he he)

We’ve all been there so it’s not like any of us are alone. We can work on it though, right? It starts with who or what annoys us, haha, just kidding.  It’s starts with looking internally at our own hearts, praying for Christ to soften them so we can go and lighten the load of someone else. Who could that be for you today?

‘Do your little bit of good where you are;  it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelms the world.’

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So….He Likes Me?

Acts 15:11

“But we believe that we are saved through the (precious, undeserved) grace of the Lord Jesus (which makes us free of the guilt of sin and grants us eternal life), in just the same way as they are.”

Grace. It’s a crazy thing in this relationship with Jesus.  It was a hard one for me to wrap my mind around. So, what you are saying is that God loves me so much that He gives me this thing called grace? I don’t have to like jump through any hoops, or do these 10 things in order to receive this gift? And through this grace, I get to live in peace and joy because He is resting inside of me, directing me, loving me, and encouraging me?

Ok, so hold the phone. It’s just not normal. That’s what I was saying years ago, trying to get my mind around what this was all about. I grew up in a Christian home, but I would say through the deep steps of life, that’s where I really came to know Christ more personally. My issue was, as I was going through difficult times, so many would be like; ‘just lean into the grace of Jesus.’ What?! Are you speaking English?  So I needed to do a little soul searching on this one and you know what I came up with? Yes, God loves me but more importantly, God LIKES me. Hang tight, let me explain. You can love someone and totally not like them. You can love someone and be like, I’ll look at you from afar cause there ain’t no way I can put up with you right now. But when you really like someone, you want to hang with them, you can’t wait to see their face, to have a conversation, to learn more about them.  They bring you happiness and joy so you want to give it back to them. THIS is how Christ sees us and the relationship we have with Him. He totally digs us. He wants to hang out, hear our thoughts, have coffee, listen to us swear when we are pissed, laugh with us. Because of this kind of relationship, he wants to give us the gift of grace so that the relationship can just keep on growing and we can also know Him more. I mean, that’s some deep, good stuff right there.

Grace is meant to live inside of you while you walk this crazy thing called life. The reality of it is, faith and grace are gonna be your ‘go to’ when it comes to walking this road.  We need to keep believing through our faith and keep grace at the forefront. We screw up, ok, I screw up, cause maybe you are perfect ha but because he gives us this gift, we are able to move forward in love towards ourselves and others.  Instead of beating ourselves up over the stupid crap we do, right?

He really does like you, He really does LOVE you. Can you accept that today?  Can you really allow yourself to be loved like that? Cause you are worth it!

“God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of His.” C.S.Lewis

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Dude, Don’t Judge and Stuff

Matthew 7:1-5

“Do not judge and criticize and condemn, so that you will not be judged.  For just as you judge others, so will you be judged; and in accordance with your standard of measure, judgement will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first get the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.’

SNAP! That’s what I say to this verse. Like, Word!!!! I could go off on a crazy tangent with this topic so I’ll try to reel it in as much as possible or maybe not, ha.

Funny story, my daughter was in class the other day and a girl sitting next to her must have known we love Jesus and was like, ‘Your Jesus-loving mom probably wears like pink dresses and her hair like all in a bun.’  McKenna is like, actually, my mom has pink hair and tattoos! Peace out!

Why, why are we so judgmental?  Why are we so quick to point flaws and ugly pieces of people? Please know, I’m totally asking myself these questions too.  I am so guilty of this yet I’m desperately trying to step back and be more aware. It kills the soul of not only the other person but it poisons us too.  I’m not your typical looking mom so my kids notice when other moms look at me a little like, hmmmm, what’s this girl all about. I’ve come to a place where I’m like, dude, I’ve got a Jesus story behind it all so if you want to ask, you better sit down for a while!  For my kids, they get upset. Especially because the oldest ones know my story.

Years ago, when we would try and go out with Quinn, my oldest on the spectrum, he never, like ever, did well.  Everything was over stimulating for him and his frustration level went from 1 to 100 in a matter of seconds. The looks we would get from people killed my momma heart. Made me feel like I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, which I already felt. I was really close to getting Quinn one of those shirts that said, ‘I have autism, what’s your problem!’

I say these things because we’ve all been on the other side of judgement.  We have ALL felt the sting from it. It paralyses you. Yet it’s so easy…..SO EASY to sit back and be like, look at her hair…… look at her kids…… are they gay?…… are they smoking?….. I so wouldn’t do it that way. THAT IS NOT THE LOVE OF JESUS!!!!!! Sure, there are things in this world that He’s not the biggest fan of BUT it is not our place to decide.  Our place is to LOVE….the end.

One more thing, stop judging yourself.  Like stop! Like now! Loving you is the most important thing ever. Loving and accepting yourself, leads to a life full of freedom.  We are probably most quick to judge ourselves more than any other human being on the planet, just no one ever sees or hears it. It’s all stuck in our head.  We start believing those lies and head down an ugly, dark path. Not Today Satan! Today, let’s step out in truth. We are rock stars! Everyone around us is a rock star or at least cool enough to be in our band.

Start seeing yourself and others through the eyes of Jesus. I know it sounds cheesy, but seriously, He sees nothing wrong, no flaws, or saggy skin, or bags under our eyes. He finds the good.  He hangs out there and so should we.

“Do not judge others.  We are all fighting different kinds of battles.’

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Dang Dog

Jeremiah 31:3

‘The Lord appeared to me from ages past saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.’

I was listening to the radio the other day and they had someone email in.  This woman said her husband had given her an ultimatum, either him or the dog.  She’s like, the dog. I’m like, yea the dog! They had a bunch of people call in to answer the question, you can guess what the majority of them said. I’m pretty sure my husband is just too fearful to ask that question. Ha!

There’s something about the unconditional love of a pet. Maybe some of you aren’t all animal lovers out there so you’ll just have to bear with me then. When I was dating my husband, we got a chocolate lab. She was my healthy replacement for cutting. She was such a gift to me.  I could do no wrong in her eyes. Instead of reaching for sharp objects, I turned to her softness and love. She passed away 2 years ago (can’t go there emotionally so let’s move on) and we got a white lab named Ivy. Pure joy and full of love. For us humans, I feel like there’s always conditions no matter if we mean to put them there or not. I mean, it’s reality right? If we say the wrong thing to someone, we get daggers back.  If someone treats us unkindly, we sometimes use harsh words in return. I mean, we ain’t Jesus that’s for sure, which brings me to my point. Aside from our puppies and animals of all kinds, we’ve got unconditional love in Jesus. Truth, I have a difficult time accepting it. Not necessarily because I think I’m such a horrible person, don’t get me wrong, I’ve done some stupid stuff, but more because it’s slightly unfathomable.

We live in such a broken world where emotions are constantly running high.  We get slapped around by hurt feelings and people who walk away. It’s crazy to think that we have this amazing Father that will never treat us like that.  Instead, He is all about filling us up with truth and peace. How often do we sit back and say, I just can’t do it anymore. It’s times like that when my Ivy comes flying up for some serious cuddles.  It’s times like that when my Jesus swoops in. We need to learn to sit in the stillness of His love. We need to allow it to completely wash over us so that when we do go outside of our four walls, we know and can stand in the truth. Truth that no matter what comes at us out there, we ARE loved unconditionally. It’s easy to feel like we can never live up to the love of others or give enough in order to receive that love. With Christ, you don’t have to do a darn thing.  He is freaking crazy about you just the way you are.

Take some time today to really sit in His love.  Hang with Him and allow it to just wash over you.

“The unconditional love of God leads to a life of freedom and transforms each day into a potentially wild adventure.”

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Fear

2 Timothy 1:7 (amplified)

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear but of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline.”

Fear is so powerful and not really in a good sense. It can destroy relationships and cause our lives to be put on hold. It freezes us. My third kiddo has a total fear of bridges.  When we drive over any bridge, he buries himself in his lap and we have to tell him when it’s over. Fear is paralyzing. It causes us to hide until it’s over. It takes over our minds and we begin to believe lies. When my anxiety was at its worst, I truly believed that my apartment was gonna burn down. I had a few plugs that were plugged into one outlet and by a curtain.  I had this whole picture in my head of what was gonna happen. It took over me for a long time and I didn’t sleep for days. Fear can take over us.

So now that I’ve totally depressed you, let’s turn this around a bit.  How do we deal with this? It’s not like fear is gonna go away any time soon.  It’s gonna rear its ugly head on a regular basis so what now. Well my solution is to just start taking meds so…….Just kidding! Well, not about me taking meds but obviously that’s not the end all of solutions. You’ve gotta deal with the fear head on. Friends, we cannot be afraid of what comes at us when we have the power over it in Jesus.  You also cannot decide that you will plow through it, shove it down, and not deal with it when it comes back around. Has that ever worked? Yea, no. Trust me! I’ve hid behind my bubbly, funny nature for way too long that it ate me alive inside. You need to show fear that you are better than it. You’ve gotta step outside of what’s going on and set your feet on truth. You’ve gotta get your head in the Word of Jesus. You gotta speak right at it. If we let fear keep controlling us, we will never be able to live to the fullest. Fear will NEVER be stronger than our faith or belief. Don’t give it that power. You know by this point in our blog relationship, that I’m ALL about the power that lives inside of us. You have it!!  You need to own it and tell fear to shove off! (trying to use nice words here) Stand tall and strong my friend because we have THE POWER!!!!!

Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.”

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I’ll Keep Holding On

Ecclesiastes 3:6

“A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away”

You know you are singing the song right now……’I’ll Keep Holding On….’ Now it it will be stuck in your head today.  You’re welcome

I love Ecclesiastes 3.  The whole chapter speaks about a time for everything.  If you get a chance, go and read it. It shows the realness of God.  He knows and sees that things change. Good or bad, life happens but He is in it.

This verse in particular hit a chord for me.  I’m super, like probably too good, at throwing things away. I can’t stand leftovers.  Well, unless it’s cold pizza from Aurelio’s, right? Like I’m one of those when you come to my house, you’ll look one minute and there’s your cup, then you look two seconds later (because I decided it’s time to clean) and it be gone. Peace. It does come in handy though cause clutter is not my friend.  I’m good at change and moving on from things, physical things that is. Then there is this emotional or mental piece of life that maybe I tend to hold onto. Holding on to past hurts or grudges, I’m totally guilty of. There can be times, precious moments, to hold onto but there are many things we need to throw away.  Like, peace out and stop bringing it back up, throw away. We ALL have things in our past. So are we moving forward and healing or are we constantly holding onto those feelings as a security blanket that we don’t want to let go of?

I think it’s beautiful how both of these phrases in this verse go hand in hand. I believe we should always be searching, growing in our faith and walk but sometimes what we are searching for is not truth or even touchable. Maybe we are searching for our life to look a specific way or for someone to be something they are not or for something you once had.  Maybe we are searching for something to fill a longing in our hearts when really only Christ can fill it. We gotta let that go and count it as lost. There’s a time to search and hold onto things that fill your soul, people that stand by you but there’s also a time to give away and let go. Only you can decide what’s right for you. Christ allows us the freedom to step out and decide while we continue to seek His guidance. We just gotta be careful that we aren’t holding onto something or someone that could destroy our hearts in the end.

Reach out to Him, talk to Him, ask Him what is in your life that maybe you gotta let go of. Maybe there’s something that you are searching, longing for that He’s like, No, that’s not gonna fill your soul.  What can you throw away or count as lost?

‘Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.’

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Loneliness Can Creep In

Hebrews 13:5b & 6 (The Message)

God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote,

God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?

A while back,  God decided for me to reveal and very, very large deep rooted painful secret of my past.  Do you like how I said ‘God decided’? Pretty much because I would have held it probably forever yet he had a different plan. As I’ve mentioned in other devo’s, I had been sexual abused as a child and been holding onto that pain and struggle for the majority of my life, feeling the need to protect everyone around me. God opened the door one day for this to come to light, which only He could’ve done but the response from those closely effected had sent me on an emotional roller coaster to say the least. There had been anger, denial, tears, love, hate, bitterness, encouragement, support, and the list goes on.  In the end, the most difficult one I felt was loneliness.

I’ve had to grieve the loss and change of relationships, blood relationships, relationships that I thought for sure, after the truth was spoken, would completely change and be made whole.  Untying and releasing them had caused me to feel left alone when I was the one who spoke the truth. Truth that was suppose to set me free. Please don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change speaking the truth for anything.  I now can live with no secrets, no heaviness, complete and total release of carrying the consequences of others, and use it to help others. Yet the lonely part surprised me. I’m surrounded by a mass of Godly women who have known and loved me through.  I have a husband and kiddos that would die for me so what on earth? Yet I kept feeling like, wasn’t I the one who was suppose to walk away feeling empowered and strong. A ‘Can’t touch this’, type of feel. (You’re singing the song! hehe)

Ok, so at this point I’m like, Heather, step back a minute, and start speaking some REAL truth here. So many around us are going to feel and believe, the most life altering, difficult situations, out of their pain and wounds. In my situation and in situations that you will face, those around us may not respond the way we thought or hoped.  BUT our Father will NEVER walk away and will NEVER leave me or YOU!!! WE ARE FEARLESS because of that!!!! We do not have to walk in the lonely part of our hearts but instead in the strength of a warrior! NO ONE can get to us! I need to keep using big letters cause I’m screaming at myself while I’m writing this to you! We need to hear this today! Over and over again!  It’s another one of those things where what you thought the ending would be, is not what God had the ending be. One of those times where you are like, God, my ending totally rocked, why didn’t you use it. Because no matter what, even if I don’t see it all right now, His ending is better and for my own good. Loneliness is not from Him. So that ugly guy needs to be prayed about, worked through, and tossed out. He never walks away! WE ARE FEARLESS! And scene…… 🙂

Who has let you down?  Who has walked away in your life that has hurt you beyond belief, enough to make you question if God will also walk away? He see, He hears, He Knows.

“Be fearless in a pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. For you are a mighty warrior, a child of God.”

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God, Are You Mad?

Zephaniah 3:17 (Amplified)

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a Warrior who saves.

He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”

I’ve struggle with this lately which is crazy to me because I know the truth.  I know that God is a God of love, kindness, peace, and pure beauty yet my mind goes there. I know that some may see Him as this big man upstairs pointing the finger at all we do wrong etc but that’s not what I struggle with.  For the record, that is not truth. If He were really like that, His finger would fall off from shaking it so much with the craziness of this world. Just say’n. I struggle more with, like, God, I know I’m not perfect but I’m sitting in some heavy poop and I just need you to throw me a bone. It’s when you feel like He’s silent.  That’s when I start to think, maybe He’s mad at me. I mean, I’ve done some not so great things in life, but that’s not it either. Here’s what it is. If He’s suppose to be crazy in love with me, wouldn’t he immediately pull me out of the fire? Those times when I was as a little girl, frozen, not understanding what is happening….why didn’t He stop it? I’m sure each of you right now can think of a time or maybe even you’re living it, where you questions, why? If you love me so much then why aren’t you saving me? Did I tick you off, God?

I don’t have a perfect answer but I can tell you this. If God would have rescued me from those horrible situations or situations where I thought I should be rescued, I wouldn’t be here today writing. I wouldn’t have 4 beautiful kiddos, or a husband who stands along side of me. I wouldn’t know what is was like to be truly loved, or to have amazing friends, or to even have confidence, or to be able to love others back. If he would have rescued me in those situations when I immediately asked, I would be a selfish brat right now, living a shallow life.  Think about it. If we would give our kids everything they asked for, they would love and appreciate nothing. They wouldn’t know how to have feelings. There’s something inside of us that changes when we have to look the darkness head on. We have a choice which I believe God allows us to have. We either fight and take him with us, or we cry and whine cause we want it our way. Now, I’ve done both, I’ll be real here, and definitely never got it my way. In the end, I still needed to take the deep crap head on and cling onto His arms. Because of it, I’m better, stronger, more powerful, thicker skinned, and ready to kick this world in the you know what, in the name of Jesus of course. When we allow ourselves to feel the pain and let go of what we think should happen, we start seeing what He’s doing. Please understand, I’m totally not minimizing whatever you have or are going through, but friend, it’s time we take this head on. He’s not mad at us at all. He hates that we are having to endure any of it BUT He’s waiting for us to take His hand in it. Let’s do ,t together.

“God’s love is like an ocean, you see it’s beginning, but not it’s end.”