They Don’t Get To Decide

I don’t believe things happen by accident.  I don’t believe that people come into our lives by accident whether we want them to walk in or not.  Each person or each instance shapes our story and molds who we become. In the end, we decide how we react to it.  

It was the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.  I auditioned to tour with a christian singing group around the US and throughout Europe.  Pretty sweet right? At the time, I was dating a hmmmmm……what should we call him……..so many words but shouldn’t speak them, so we shall say, not so nice boy, ha, at the time. BUT, he had me wrapped around his finger. We’d been dating for a few years and there had been abuse there so needless to say, leaving was good for me, just didn’t see it till later. Our group stopped at my church, he came, and she came.  Yep, you know that gut feeling when a friend of yours sits down next to your boyfriend and you just know. I confronted him in the short time I had to see him and total denial. Yea, ok. I believed him because I was completely like that and toured the rest of the summer. Got home. Got dumped. Found out he was cheating on me with her the whole time I was gone. Surprise! Surprise! And why you ask? She gave him what he wanted if you know what I mean. He had to fight me to get a very small amount. I had boundaries. Was I devastated?  For sure, but man, I truly believe that was one of the biggest steps I needed to realize it was time for me to stand up for ME. That wasn’t love. I didn’t deserve what I was in but assumed that love looked like that. I needed a big slap in the face in order to see it. 

I love how this happened to me right after I had this amazing experience with my Jesus, singing all over the place.  You are never prepared to be broken but I knew I could fall back in the arms of my Father. Psalm 91:4 says, ‘He will shelter you with his wings, you will find safety under his wings. His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall.”  Situations, people, circumstances, they come, and we don’t have a choice.  Many can mess with our heads or lead us to believe we are lost or broken or walking down a wrong path but I’m here to tell you that we decide what that outcome is.  We get to decide how we react to the challenges that we didn’t ask for. Will we allow them to break us or will we rest into the arms of our Creator and be like, dude, you are gonna need to run the show cause this one through me for a loop.  He is all over it. Truth be told, He does a much better job. 

“Don’t get upset with people or situations.  Both are powerless without your reaction.”

Not Happening Alone

I was sitting next to her with tears streaming down my face.  I couldn’t control what I felt as she played. You could see it written all over her, how it felt to have her hands on those keys, and to think years ago that was me.  I knew exactly what she was feeling and it connected us. I said long ago I’d never teach my own kids piano but obviously God said, yes you will. The connection with us is growing stronger which makes me cry as I sit here. As she played, all I could think was, sweet daughter, I’m so grateful that you don’t carry the anguish I did while playing at your age.  Music can be an escape in the best way possible but torture when it reaches the depths of your soul into the pain of secrets. I’ve gotten to a place where music is freedom, she’s already there. Being the only girl in our family, I connected her with my pain from the past. I’m just gonna be real. I’ve written this before but yesterday it hit again. Every time I saw her, I saw him, I saw the abuse. I felt it.  To think that a few years ago, I could hardly look at her or touch her because of what was done to me as a little girl. It killed my heart more than a thousand swords yet healing came little by little and now I’m sitting by her, connecting with her in the most deepest way, with our soul healer…… music. 

Now to lighten the mood cause I went deep, quickly. I did tell her she needs to practice more.  As I came out of my lala land of connection, I realized she was biffing most of the song. Ha! Amazing what a song can sound like when you are all crying and mushy. 

We are not meant to be the fixers. Although you all may have some amazing super powers, you still can’t fix the gut wrenching hidden deep inside.  Ok, let me rephrase, we can’t fix anything on our own. Guys, when I look back, there’s no way I could’ve reworked my heart towards my daughter by myself. There’s no way I could’ve learned to put the knife down mid way into my skin by myself.  Here’s the thing though. In many of those situations, I wasn’t like super spiritual and all up in Jesus business. Here comes another real moment, cause you love it! There were many of those times I was not even thinking about Him. I was pissed. Mad at Him. Mad because I couldn’t understand why things weren’t better or why my circumstances were crumbling at my feet when everyone else was flying unicorns and eating rainbows. (can you eat rainbows?) I came to realize, Jesus isn’t asking us to come to him all perfect and happy.  He wants us to come always but most importantly when the crap hits the fan. Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  He works best when we are crushed because that’s when he pulls you out from the depths and the only thing you can say is, that was Jesus. Honestly, we don’t always see it at the moment.  It’s not like I always walk away being like, and Jesus just saved me. I wish I could and He does, but sometimes my blinders are on. Many, many times, because I’m a little slow, I don’t see what amazing things he has done in my life until I look back. Until I’m sitting at the piano with my daughter. 

He’s working friend. Maybe right now you can’t see it and it seems like you are treading water, alone.  You aren’t alone. What He is gonna do in your life is far beyond what you can imagine so He needs you ready. Jesus is working behind the scenes, you just need to keep walking forward, one step at a time. 

“Sometimes God will bypass what you hope for to give you what you really need.”

Credit is Due

Picture it, I’m on stage, worshiping, singing my brains out and I totally get lost in worship and lose my place. Like, literally I had to stop singing.  For those of you that don’t know, I sing at church and lead worship. Love it. So great. I have a tendency to get wrapped up in worship and get lost ha.  We have lyrics in the back of the church for us worship peeps to see so we don’t, well, do what I just did. Like honestly, had to hold off singing for like, what felt like 5 minutes of my life, staring blankly at everyone before I could start up again at the second verse.  Back in the day I would’ve lost my poop. Would’ve crazy worried about what everyone thought and if I would do it again. Ok, so I did worry for a bit afterwards what everyone thought but then I quickly came to, ya know what, everyone makes mistakes. Hold the front door, Heather is actually processing through this quickly instead of falling into a dark hole!  There is a God, people! Jesus is real! Haha

But for real, we don’t give ourselves enough credit for actually surviving some serious events in our lives. We also don’t realize how far we have come to get where we are today.  We so quickly jump to the next thing and dismiss the amazing work that we have done to move passed some real gut wrenching pain in our lives. There are many people who already know my story but when there is someone who doesn’t and asks for the rundown of what Jesus has done in my life, I step back and I’m like, wow, God and I have really worked this stuff out.  I know that many of you could say the same thing. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the here and now of what we are sitting in but take a moment to realize how far you’ve actually come. Step back and realize the strength and power you have gained from surviving the depth that you’ve walked through. In Ephesians 3:16 it says, “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”  That’s what I’m talking about.  Deep in the gut of ourselves lies this strength and power that only He can give and we choose to grab on and run.  The more and more we hang onto that, the more and more making a mistake on stage doesn’t take over my brain, or making a mistake at work, or hurting someone we love, and the list goes on. We have the strength to look at the ugly in the face and be like, nope, not today. 

Don’t dismiss the moving forward that you have worked so hard for but also, do not beat yourself up for the times you feel like you’ve stepped backwards. Sometimes what we see as a giant mountain that can never be overcome is really just a wave that is going to fall at any moment. 

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

Get out of the Way

As I was sitting in the parking lot with my husband, I knew that my whole world was gonna change after this moment. Once I walked through those doors and spoke my truth, nothing was going to be the same again. God had opened the door to stand up for what had happened to me and I knew it was time. In the end, I couldn’t change how people responded or how they felt.  In the end, I had to accept the fact that things will never go back to how it used to be but is that a bad thing?  

I lived in bondage most of my life.  Carrying this dark secret of sexual abuse. I had to play a game of pretend……always. There were times even months I could shove it so far down that my brain would just turn it off, like it never existed, but then their would be one trigger and my world would spin.  I now got to speak what I’ve wanted for so many years and there’s this picture in your mind that everyone will rally around you, loving on you. In the end, not everyone did. I had to accept the fact that things will never go back to how it used to be but guess what, it’s ok!  If we aren’t suppose to live in our past, why are we wishing to bring it back? Things change for a reason. Although if God could just fill us in a little bit when it happens, that would be lovely. There’s always better things to come as we walk through life so if we constantly look behind us to pull those pieces back to the front, we will never see what the true blessings are in front of us. In James 1:17 it says, “Every good, every perfect gift comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all.”  Thank goodness!!!  At lease we can lean on one thing that doesn’t change!  Can I get an AMEN! 

No, we can’t go back.  We can’t go back and fix something we’ve done, we can’t go back and sit in the simplicity of life before, we can’t go back to how it used to be instead we can hope in today.  How about instead, we accept where we are today so that it can open up the beauty of what this life has to bring us. Man, things never usually turn out the way you think right? Maybe there’s purpose in that.  God has His finger on all things friend and maybe just maybe, the way you saw it would’ve hurt you in the end. Maybe just maybe, your amazing future is gleaming with excitement and joy, you just need to step to the side and let Him work. 

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

I Ain’t Trash

I was sitting around a big ole table, not knowing what the response was gonna be. It was a few months after I had tried to commit suicide and that truly was my ultimate turning point.  The point where the light of truth was shining so bright that I was sprinting to it. I was offered a job as a music director yet I still needed to spill my guts to a table full of men…..elders.  It was my understanding that some felt maybe I wasn’t ready, or that maybe my baggage was too much. I unloaded. Speaking truth about the cutting, suicide attempt, and all stuff in between. I knew I was ready cause I was saved by Jesus but for those on the outside, it didn’t always look the same. I was questioned.  I was drilled a little. You could tell they really wanted to ask me, ‘so will you fall apart when the crap hits the fan?’ Ha. It’s normal. I got that a lot. People walking on eggshells around me, not knowing if I’d lose it or whip out some knives from my pocket like a ninja or something. In the end, I was hired. But I’m not gonna lie, it left a mark in my heart for sure.

Just to get my story straight, we all have baggage right? Again, it’s amazing how when your scars are visible, somehow you are far more damaged then the person sitting next to you.  Guess what, there’s more to me and you then meets the eye. People want to question or maybe judge based upon what they see yet little do they know the strength that lies within us. At the time of this meeting, my scars were definitely visible and fresh but I wasn’t hiding them anymore because you know why?  Sure you do, Christ lifted me out of the darkness and now those scars are shining lights. Those scars are war wounds of a battle I won and can tell about. Those scars are signs that show I’m not broken anymore because of sexual abuse or pain that is was ruling me inside. Those sitting around the table and many others want to see them as evidence of damaged goods. Nope! Nada! Lies! In Romans 3:10 it says, “There is no righteous person, not even one.”  There is not one person who is better than the next.  There’s not one person who hasn’t had issues, or walked a hard life, or screwed up, that is walking this earth.  Don’t think for a second that what you see on social media or the masks that some put on is truth. We all do it because sometimes it’s easier to hide but our Jesus is the only perfect, righteous, beloved soul.  

There’s so much worth that is happening inside your beautiful self.  Situations like this that have happened to me and I’m sure to you, make us realize how important it is to listen, to understand, to step back and take a minute before we go judging and stuff. We are not damaged goods, but instead we are beautifully written masterpieces that all play to a different beat.  Shoot, I think the broken pieces inside of us show the world just how killer rockstars we are. 

“She is not broken anymore, she is stronger, wiser, and more beautiful than before because God took her broken pieces and made her new again.”

Well That Stung

Words can be painful.  Gossip blows. Things spoken behind your back are like daggers coming at ya. Man, it makes you think twice about ever doing it to anyone else, doesn’t it?  The sinking, horrible feeling you get when you find out someone said something unkind about you, makes your spirit collapse. 

I just had this happen to me.  I was up tossing and turning about it, not understanding why anyone would say hurtful words about me, especially when it’s someone so close.  I was being there for a friend. They had reached out to me. She’s going through a transition in life and finding which direction this crazy world is taking her. It’s hard. It’s new, scary, exciting, frustrating, and we make mistakes sometimes so i wanted to make sure I was there to listen, to love. Someone close to both of us responded with, “She’s the last person you should be reaching out too!”  Ouch! Now, if you know me, and pretty much all of you who haven’t met me personally know my guts from these devo’s so, you know me and could semi see I’m not a villain, or some crazy lady. Well, I guess some could fight me on that ha. But I am real, and I do allow emotions to be had without guilt and shame.  I’ve spent too much of my life shoving reality down and putting on this mask. I’ve spent too much of my life not being real with what I’ve been through out of guilt and shame so I’m not gonna sit and make anyone do that or feel that. First of all, those two nasty words are not from Jesus and second, they will kill and destroy you if you stay in them.  Ummmm…..so why would I allow someone else to sit in that. Nope. In the end, my heart hurts. I’m absolutely positive you have all been through a situation like this. Someone has judged you behind your back not even knowing the truth, you were talked about, made fun of, or thrown under the bus and you sit there lost, hurt.

I came to Jeremiah 17:7 which says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.”  My/our eyes need to be taken off of what was done to me or said about me and put back where they belong.   Somewhere in my gut of guts I need to trust and believe that God knows what’s going on and that He will take care of it.  I don’t need to get my big ole tatted up muscles out and get all defensive. Instead, I need to give it up to Him and ask him to do His will. Everyone has pain and at times, speaks out of their pain. It’s not ours to carry but His. My hope needs to come from Him, not from false words out of a humans mouth. I/WE need to believe and stand firm on how Christ thinks of us not others. Super crazy hard yet when we get to that place, nothing can hit our souls so deep again.  

“Hope………Sometimes that’s all you have when you have nothing else.  If you have it, you have everything.”

This Bod

Our bodies are incredible. I missed the memo on that for a long time.  I still struggle with accepting and letting every word sink in but we take it a day at a time. When we look around at social media and this world in general, it’s difficult to see that our bodies are incredible no matter what color, shape, or size. Truth, it pisses me off. It kills any self confidence that we have in ourselves.  Lord knows many of us don’t come equipped with too much so throw us a bone world! Instead we have to constantly see these ads for diets or workout regimens or anything to lose weight. Don’t get me wrong, being healthy is important but it’s gonna look different for every individual. 

I ran a 10k a few weeks back.  For some, this may seem like nothing, but for me, it was huge. My goal was to just run the whole thing and not worry about the time etc. Really it was to run the whole thing and not die haha! Well, I did run the whole thing and beat my minute time. I was so proud the rest of that day. I saw my body completely different for at least an hour! I mean, let’s be honest, negativity creeps in pretty darn quick so an hour is good. I’m average. My body is average in shape. Is average ok? Well, I want to tell you yes, cause that is truth but difficult to swallow at times.  I’ve fluctuated a million times in my weight throughout the years. I get sucked into every trend, every diet, every self help whatever. In the end, I just end up feeling worse about myself because at some point I fail. Why you ask? Because I’m not loving who I am, where I am. I’m not grasping the amazing beauty that God has created.  Dude, I’ve birthed four children, ran a 10k, overcome a few things in life, and the list goes on. Maybe, just maybe, this body is pretty ok. Maybe, just maybe, so is yours! 

In Psalm 139:14 it says, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Ummmm….giving thanks to God for my body sure is a hard one. Because of so many deep, dark wounds, an eating disorder crept up on me pretty quickly in life. I couldn’t, and it’s still difficult, to understand how God can see us so unconditionally beautiful.  Like, with no strings attached. He doesn’t say, when your thighs get a little smaller Heather, then my love for you will start flowing. Nope! Why do we look to others to decide our beauty? Why do we allow others to dictate our worth? I think we should be done with that. I’m just say’n. Now, I speak all of this solely because God is constantly stirring me to fully heal in this area.  You might be like, girl, I’m all walking around naked owning the joint! For that, I applaud you and ask you to deliver some of that goodness my way, with clothes on though. 

I don’t care if you are male or female, black or white, big or small, short or tall, you have an incredible body that can do incredible things.  Sometimes it wants donuts and sometimes it wants kale but either way, those things do not define you. We are defined and built from the hands of perfection.  He molded and created us exactly how he wanted. Walk out of your house today like nothing can stop you because the truth is, nothing really can. Own it! 

“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”