Carla's Column: What's In Your Hand?

Carla's Column: What's In Your Hand?

This month's Carla's Column asks us the question, "What is in your hand?" What do we have available to use for the benefit of others?  How can we serve the needs of those around us?  Putting aside training, education and credentials, we all have something in our hand to be a blessing.  Consider the gifts you've been given as you read this encouraging post!

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Opinions Are Like Belly Buttons

Opinions Are Like Belly Buttons

When is expressing our own thoughts and opinions a problem?  Please join me for this post evaluating our tendency and ability to do so.  I pray it challenges all of us to look at where our words may land in the life of another.

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

GUEST POST: Mighty Marriages

GUEST POST: Mighty Marriages

Our October guest post is from Dianna and Lynn Wheeler.  They are getting real about marriage, challenging us to evaluate our motives and our expectations, and sharpening us to implement three steps in strengthening our relationships.  Take a few moments to draw inspiration, reassurance and insight from this beautiful couple sharing this valuable message.    

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Tarnished

Tarnished

I wrote this guest post for The Essential Life.  In this post I share my story and what it was to live tarnished, the realities of grief and the darkness of depression.  Thank you to The Essential Life for contacting me to contribute.  I never know how these guest pieces will unfold, but I believe these words are for those in the midst of their toughest battles desiring to know there is a hope for tomorrow.

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Big People Get Scared Too

Big People Get Scared Too

RECENTLY I THOUGHT ABOUT OUR LITTLE PERSON BEING SCARED, BECAUSE TO BE QUITE HONEST, I’VE BEEN FEELING A LITTLE SCARED MYSELF.  

Do reports of bad news sit heavily on your mind? Do current social circumstances weigh on your heart?  Do you you feel anxiety over what may happen and anticipate worst-case scenarios?  

I encourage you to read this week's post on how to overcome fears when we big people get scared too.  

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Carla's Column: It Is Time

Carla's Column: It Is Time

Our dear friend, Carla Holtz speaks into our hearts regarding the everyday ways to show love and speak into the lives of those around us.  It can even be as simple as our commitment to a daily exercise routine.  Find encouragement and inspiration exploring new purpose in those everyday events through this month's

Carla's Column!

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GUEST POST: How God Sees Our Big Mistakes

GUEST POST: How God Sees Our Big Mistakes

Ever judged someone?  Or been judged by another?  Or cast judgment on yourself?  Have you ever determined the outcome of a mistake?  This post from our guest, Jayne Patton, will bring encouragement, hope and inspiration to your heart, sharing what God sees, even in our mistakes.

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Bless My Little

Our youth pastor has this phrase he prays before we give in the offering.  “Lord, bless our little and make it much.

Bless our little and make it much. 

Do we ever feel like we have a lot to give? 

I sure don’t.  I guess that’s why this phrase really speaks to me.  Sometimes I only have such little to give that it doesn’t seem it could be used to accomplish anything significant.  And this isn’t just about money.  It’s about all of our resources.  Yes, our money, but it’s also about our time, talents and callings.  And sometimes, what the Lord challenges us to give Him may seem so small we miss our opportunity to give it.  Like I nearly did this past January. 

It was the end of service.  I can’t even tell you what our Pastor preached on that particular Sunday morning, but I can tell you what he didn’t preach on.  He did not preach on trotting yourself across to the other side of the church to pray with someone that didn’t even ask for prayer.  No.  He did not preach on that.

However, as the altar call was given and people were invited to find a place to pray, I sat back down in my seat and reverently bowed my head for a time of personal reflection and prayer.  While I can’t remember, all these months later, what the message was about, it’s my routine to let the message sit with me awhile, asking the Lord to evaluate my life and my heart in light of it.  But this particular Sunday morning the minute I sat down a thought came into my mind.  You should go pray for so-and-so. 

It was just a thought.  And I could have dismissed it, but something, or rather, Someone in my heart, made me pause to the notion that it wasn’t just a thought, but rather a nudge to go pray for this so-and-so

Obedience is in constant development for me, and I regret to tell you my initial response.  I’ll just pray for so-and-so right here.  I can intercede for her right here.  And I even began praying!  Then came an interruption to my well-intentioned intercession.  I felt the Lord speak to my heart, “If I can’t trust you to do the little things, how can I ever trust you to do the big things?” 

Oh the little things. 

The little things like this blog here.  My writings I offer out of obedience to what God has placed in my heart. 

Oh the little things. 

The little things like public speaking.  My messages I offer out of obedience to what God has placed in my heart. 

Luke 16:10 jolted me with the challenge to be obedient in what God had stirred my heart to do.  “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”

It may not have seemed like much of a challenge, but I didn’t want to come across to so-and-so as weird.  Nevertheless, I felt there was a bigger picture I could not see, but I trust that God desires to piece that picture together in my life.  A piecing together that requires me to be faithful in the little things. Like praying for someone who I had no clue would want or need my prayer.

I made it through the awkward walk across the sanctuary to this person.  She was standing, with her eyes closed and singing.  And here I was, to interrupt her and inform her God nudged me to come pray with her. 

Gently, I laid my hand on her arm.  She opened her eyes and there I was.  Can we say, “awkward?”

I started with, “So-and-so, I have no idea why, but the Lord laid you on my heart to pray for you.  I began to pray for you at my seat, but He challenged me to come to you to pray for you.  Is there anything specifically I can pray over with you?

You know her answer, don’t you?

Well, if you think it was a divine confirmation of a need she desperately desired someone to agree with about and encourage her in, then I would have to tell you that that is not how it unfolded.  No.  Not at all.  She said, “Well, I can’t think of anything, but I’m always glad to have someone pray for me.” 

Oh dear.  Did I miss the boat?  Or worse.  Did I miss God?

I proceeded to pray for her.  I prayed for her health, for her walk with the Lord that she may continue growing in a renewed passion and love, I prayed for her marriage, for her teenager, for her finances and her opportunities to minister to others.  Gracious.  I prayed for any and everything that possibly popped in my mind.  And when I finished, I hugged her and said, “maybe one day we’ll know what this was all about.”  Meaning maybe one day we would realize why I needed to walk over and pray for her for a need she didn’t even have.

I’m still not sure how it unfolded on her end, but the Lord has been so kind to connect the dots on what it meant for me on my end.

It was all about faithfulness.  It was all about giving Him my little so He can make it much.

I don’t know about you, but I know for me, it’s a little easier to be faithful when I can see and know what’s going on.  Taking blind steps forward, when things don’t quite make sense to me is a little more challenging.  But if we had all the information, it wouldn’t have anything to do with the root of that word.  FaithFaithfulness is doing what God prompts us to do, without having all the information, knowledge and understanding.  It’s getting in the car with Him in the driver seat, having no clue where He’s taking you.

And I would have never imagined Him driving me here, to a place of multiple writing projects including two children’s books, a devotional book, a cookbook and the project my heart continues to beat out with words, my memoir.  Never would I have imagined Him blessing my little in such a way that would require a change to accommodate growth.  Growth.  My little.  Growing.

This growth has presented a question.  How? 

How to cover the cost to:

·      Revamp of our website in order to offer these projects on our online home?

·      Pay for Service for our Website?

·      Print our Brochures?

·      Develop Media Material from Events?

·      Provide Education- to develop me into a better speaker and writer?

·      Buy Pens, Magnets and Chocolates for Speaker’s Table at Events?

·      Have Funds for Giveaways for our Subscribers?

·      Purchase ISBN numbers?

·      Hire an Editor?

My little. 

Again, sometimes I only have such little to give that it doesn’t seem it could be used to accomplish anything significant, or even cover the cost to grow the little.

But God just wants my little, and for me to be faithful in that little. 

So there He nudged me again, yes, to the point of feeling like a weirdo and facing the possibility of rejection.  By the way, side note: faithfulness looks a lot like getting rid of ourselves by humbling ourselves.

In order to continue on with my little, God challenged me to ask for advertisers.  I know that life is about personal connection, and that the Lord works through His people to accomplish His plans and purposes, but good grief, this was an incredibly awkward act of obedience.  I’d have rather walked across the sanctuary ten times over than to ask people to support my speaking and writing endeavors.

You know the story.  It goes right along with what happened when I was nudged to pray for so-and-so.  I wrote a letter to ask businesses to purchase an advertisement on our new website.  I kept the letter for nearly two months.  After finally printing them out and addressing them to the ten people I had on my heart to ask, I held the pile in my hand and asked the Lord to help me understand why I didn’t want to mail them out.

And it came right back down to my little.

What if? 

What if no one responded?  What if not one person would want to purchase an ad after knowing what the ad would provide for me to do? 

Would that mean what I’m doing is not important?  Would that mean what I’m doing has no value? 

And here was my biggest question.

Would I continue doing what God has called me to do, even if not one person sees value in it?

After I resolved to be faithful in the little things, regardless of the outcome of those letters, I mailed them.

Would you be surprised if I told you I mailed them on a Friday and had an ad purchased by Monday morning?  No.  You wouldn’t be surprised.  Because God simply asks us to be faithful in the little things.  Faithful.  Bless my little and make it much. 

I’ve had a few full-on ugly cries by how the Lord orchestrates the details and provides for needs, so personally and creatively.  He brings His people together.  And I would like to introduce you to these people who have come alongside me providing for our growth.  Their ads will run here on our website and be featured on our speaker table for a year. 

I’m so honored to have them here.  Please take a moment to read below who these people are, and why I reached out to them.  These aren’t just advertisers.  This is our online home meaning those you meet here are the type of people you would meet in our actual home.  There is a consistency in the messages you read here and the people you would choose to do business with here.

I pray each of them are blessed in their businesses for allowing the Lord to use them in blessing my little and making it much.

Be brave, humble and faithful.  He wants to do the same in you.

I pray this post spoke to you.  Would you consider supporting this site and our upcoming projects by subscribing to our blog and sharing with others? We can’t grow without you?

Meet Our Advertisers!


Chris and Marcy Leffingwell-

Sometimes I’m at a loss for words.  And when it comes to this couple, it’s just hard to summarize them into a paragraph.  Chris and Marcy have been friends of ours for over twenty years.  They have spoke into our marriage, before our marriage even began, and into our family through celebrations and loss, and now here on our online home with a message reflective of their own life.  Ducis per Ministerium.   The service leader.  I’ve observed this couple in ministry and in business.  Chris began his first business venture out of the same building where my Dad had his office.  To say they were close is an understatement.  My Dad had a strong admiration for Chris’ ambition and integrity, and he knew Chris would be successful in his endeavors because his priority for others was in place.  A true service leader.  Chris specializes in bringing technology to businesses with quality, affordability, performance, and efficiency.  His business represents his service leader principle through the courteous well-trained technicians his company values and provides.  I am deeply honored to have he and Marcy represented here on our online home.


Dr. Nathan Rapp-

Having a baby is one of the most exciting events in life.  It can also be one of the scariest.  As a couple who had four high-risk pregnancies, Brandon and I remember the uncertainty we experienced and the concern we encountered. I also remember how much confidence we had in our doctor.  The peace-of-mind knowing he had the expertise, experience, skill and demeanor to safely deliver our baby was a blessing in those years of our life.  Doctors make all the difference.  Finding the right one is a great treasure.  That’s why I’m so proud of our friend for the gift he is and has been to so many families. I love the instances I’ve been able to hear families and nurses brag on Dr. Rapp.  I feel so proud to say, “He’s a good friend of ours.”  Exactly how I feel regarding the honor of having him advertise on our online home.  In addition to knowledge and skill, Dr. Rapp brings good communication between patients and the staff involved in the patient’s care; he is compassionate, respectful and has a gentle and calm nature. He’s the type of physician families want to walk through the season of bringing their precious miracles into the world.


Trevor Randall, Farmer’s Insurance-

My Dad was an insurance agent and I remember him making comments about how we hope we never need our insurance but are glad we have it when we do.  Brandon and I have experienced that exact circumstance.  We went over sixteen years of our married life never needing to use our insurance, and then back-to-back years we had claims.  I’m sure we could probably shop around for cheaper rates, but we truly get what we pay for with Farmers.  After a severe storm hit our area, we heard numerous families at a loss for what they thought was covered but in the extremely unfortunate moment, found out so much wasn’t.  Farmers has taken care of us.  When life is in disarray because the home is, it’s a blessing having an insurance company help put it back together.  That is how we feel about Farmers.  And this agent is to thank.  Trevor is not only married to my lifelong best friend, practically counted as family himself, but he is the picture of professional.  He conducts periodic reviews of your policy to make sure you have the coverage you need.  Anyone who answers the phone in his office is going to be first and foremost friendly and informative.  Each of them knows insurance and are available to keep it as seamless and simple as possible.  They are Farmers.  (Apologies for any jingles now stuck in your head.)


Dr. Kevin Duffy-

When the topic of orthodontics came up in regard to our first child, Brooklyn, we chose to have her evaluated by someone who came recommended.  Several families in our community had seen Dr. Duffy for orthodontic treatment, and one of our dear friends even worked for him for several years.  Everyone who knew him gave him the highest compliment and the greatest recommendation.  Dr. Duffy saw Brooklyn through braces, and now Jaron too.  He’s also evaluated Caden and Gavin and advised us on the best approach for losing those baby teeth allowing for their permanent teeth to come in.  I wished we would have had Brooklyn and Jaron evaluated earlier, but I can share with you if you have an eight, nine, or ten year-old, call Dr. Duffy for a complimentary assessment.  It may not be time for orthodontics now, but monitoring with a game plan in place can be a fabulous benefit for the treatment process.  And be prepared to meet one of the nicest, most gentle people on the planet.  Dr. Duffy and his entire staff are warm and friendly throughout the entire office.


Byler Media-

There were so many reservations I had about starting this online home.  First, I questioned if anyone would ever even read the writings I had to offer.  But mostly, I hadn’t the faintest clue on how to navigate the technical side of it.  My friend Rhonda came to my house to get us up-and-running nearly five years ago, but she couldn’t hold my hand through every step, and I had a lot of steps to figure out.  It’s been on my prayer list for someone to bring their talents to the design and function of our website.  And God opened the door to Marshall.  Over the last year or so, when I came across websites I liked, I’d jot down the designer.  After having a list of names on my dry eraser board for so long, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to check into one.  I didn’t have the faintest idea what it would cost, but I figured I’d never know until I asked.  Marshall visited with me on the phone about my website, how I use it, and what I wanted to accomplish through it.  And he even offered the suggestion of advertisements.  What’s more is, a few hours after we had ended our call, he sent me an email and said he’d be the first to purchase one.  When it came time for design, I told him I would be a real easy customer, because I didn’t have a creative direction on how it needed to look.  I just knew I wanted it to be easy to navigate and look clean, not too busy.  It’s funny.  I’m sure after we got started Marshall wondered how someone with no direction could be so opinionated.  But he was the absolute best to work with.  He’s been incredibly patient through the transition of re-developing our site, spot-on with my main goal to make it clean, functional and easy to navigate.  I’m honored to have Byler Media represented here on our online home. He has the qualities of integrity, professionalism and creativity.  If you’re considering a web designer, give Marshall a call.


Joanna Ford, Coldwell Bankers-

Brandon and I built our home on family land.  The place we decided to build our home and raise our own children was where I had been raised from birth.  But right after my Dad passed away I had this basic, non-dramatic desire to move.  My husband was supportive and we decided to list our home.  We called someone recommended to us who is the picture of a go-getter, Joanna Ford.  Joanna continuously showed our home, and showed us homes.  She was committed to helping us explore where we needed to live.  After much time on the market, with some hopeful buyers that just never panned out, Brandon looked at me and said, “Babe. We keep praying for the perfect family to buy our home.”  I nodded in agreement and bewilderment as to why it wasn’t happening.  He paused and concluded this thought that rang confirmation in my heart.  He said, “I believe we are that family.” He was right.  And I’m so thankful God kept us right where He wanted us.  And I’m equally as grateful He sent Joanna to walk that season of exploration with us.  She is the link to many homes selling, but she’s not just about the sale.  She is about people.  Joanna genuinely cares about finding the right fit for your family.  If that means selling your home, or helping you buy a home, or even building a home, she has the heart of someone you’d want to walk you through it.  I love most how Joanna says it herself, “I am successful because real estate is not my work but rather it is my joy.”  

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

NICU Nursing Gifts: Letter From A Family

Everyone has a way they receive love.  Gary Chapman covers the topic thoroughly in his book The Five Love Languages.  From what I remember of the book, and from what I identify in myself, is that we receive from all of the five ways love is expressed, but each of us has a primary love language. Evidently, my primary love language is quality time.  My secondary is acts of service.

But one thing I love so very much are words.  I love written words and spoken words.  I love the bridge words create connecting one person to another.  And recently, I received the most beautiful words from a beautiful family.

This family gifted each nurse who took care of their baby with a rustic cuff and the letter below.  I've changed a bit of the letter to protect the family's privacy, but wanted to share because of the insight it provides.  Sometimes we get so focused in, we forget how much value each of the little things holds in the hearts of those we as nurses get to care for.

As I read through this letter, the following passage of scripture was stirring in my thoughts.

Matthew 25:34-40 NLT Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me."  Then these righteous ones will reply, "Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?" And the King will say, "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"      

 

NICU Nursing Gifts: Letter From A Family

Hope- a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, a feeling of trust. 

We were so excited when we finally had our son on that autumn day in 2016.  He was beautiful and sweet and just perfect.  Then two days later we were told he wasn't going home with us and that our perfect little boy wasn't medically perfect.

Our emotions leapt from total joy and excitement to fear and confusion.  The next few days are totally lost in our memories, and the following weeks were so emotional and draining.  There is nothing to prepare you for the sadness and complete helplessness you feel as a parent with a child that is sick to any degree, let alone in and ICU where we weren't sure what the problem was or what the solution would be.

The things we do remember are the people who were there to take care of our son.  Upon arrival at the NICU, a nurse had prepared our baby's bed with personal bedding and had placed the sweetest blue knit cap on his precious head.  Within the first few days, our little man had a handmade name tag on the door to his room.  A few days later, a nurse brought in an outfit and said, "Let's dress this sweet boy!"

Being such an emotional time, I had never even thought to put clothes on my baby!

November arrived and our little turkey got to make his very own first craft!  A turkey!  Made using his little footprint.

Nurses who had taken care of him before would stop in on their shifts just to check-in on him.  We really felt as though the nurses here cared for his health and loved him as all children need to feel loved.

Although we as his parents were not the patients ourselves, we felt cared for.  The nurses here engaged in conversation with us both medically to keep us updated and socially to keep us feeling sane and a part of the world outside of that room.  Each night, a nurse brought in fresh bedding for us to sleep on and always asked if we needed anything else.  We received comfort in the form of positive words or encouragement, friendly smiles and even a few much needed hugs.

You are what gave us HOPE.  We desired for our baby's health to be taken care of and we had to trust that it would be.  In some cultures, blue is representative of hope.  The shade of blue we chose is the same shade of blue as the knit hat he received in his first night in the NICU.

When you wear this bracelet, please remember that what you do matters.  You give hope to a lot of families.  Your kindness, patience, and individual care matters.  We are forever indebted to this staff and this facility.

Love, a NICU Grad's Mom & Dad

 

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Crazy, right?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Thank You Notes

My great aunt and uncle lived in North Carolina and would come to Oklahoma once or twice a year for visits. Mostly I remember them visiting over the summer, but I also have some holiday memories tucked in my mind, visualizing a Thanksgiving one year and some Christmases too.

Although this sister and brother-in-law to my Grandma lived in North Carolina, I very much knew them. Aunt Venita and Uncle George were not the great aunt and uncle my mom forced me to hug or demanded I talk to. Actually, none of my great aunts and uncles were unfamiliar to me. I had the opportunity to build my own relationship with siblings on both my grandparents’ sides of the family. And one thing I knew about my Aunt Venita and Uncle George is that they liked Thank You Notes.

It was a pain as a kid having to write them.  Although, I did love what they’d send me for my birthday and Christmas. I even remember my seventh birthday specifically. Aunt Venita mailed a pretty pink spring dress. I opened it and could not wait to wear it.

Seriously. I know we say that as a figure of speech, but I really could not wait, made evident by what transpired a few hours after I opened it.

I’m certain I tried the dress on, although I don’t specifically remember. What I do remember is getting in bed with such excitement to wear my new dress the next day that I could hardly go to sleep.

But I did.

And then I woke up. The fact that it was still dark outside didn’t mean anything to me. It was usually dark when I got up for school.

However, the fact that my mom was still there did mean something to me. She was usually gone for work by the time we were supposed to wake up.

In the moments before I realized this, I got out of my bed, wide awake and ready for the day, put on my dress, and my shoes, and exited the room feeling dressed to the nines, because in my mind, I was. Entering into the hallway I could hear Mom’s voice. Curious as to why she was there, I walked over to my parent’s bedroom door to see my mom in her pjs! I assumed something was wrong.

Oh something was wrong. Mom wasn’t late for work. She was going to bed!

I had such anticipation of wearing that dress that I had hardly slept and woke up round about time for the ten o’clock news!

I wish I could tell you I was just as eager to write the thank you note.

I wasn’t.

Nevertheless, over the years I learned how much a simple thank you note meant to the people who received it, and I began to feel that it was the least I could do for the gift of what they gave to me.

In fact, I screen shot this Facebook post back in May. A friend wrote, “I love getting thank you cards in the mail. It makes your gift seem appreciated. It’s becoming a lost art.”

She’s right. But not in The Meadows Home.

I’ve had this post stirring in my heart, and portions of it sitting in my folder for over two years. I took pictures of Caden writing thank you notes after his 9th birthday. At nearly every age I’ve had my kids write thank you notes. From the time they only had the ability to sign their name, to copying a formatted example I provide, to getting the gift list and writing them independently, each child has been raised with value placed on expressing gratitude in a note. 

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I know a lot of people approach it differently, but here’s a couple of my personal goals when writing thank you notes.

  1. In the event the receiver didn’t physically hand me the gift, the note communicates the gift arrived whether by mail or passed along from another person. It doesn’t leave the giver wondering if I ever got it.
  2. My goal is to communicate consideration of the cost. We live on a budget in our house. And thanks to Dave Ramsey, regardless of our future earning potential, I imagine we always will. With that in mind, I envision each gift given to me coming out of a budget. That means someone chose to take money from something else to purchase something for me. Furthermore, it cost their time. To spend time working to make the money, then to spend time using that worked-for money to buy a gift for me, to spend even more time to wrap it, package it, mail it or bring it to a celebration which takes again, more time! I aim to communicate how valued I feel by acknowledging the value of what was given- time and money.

And for a little cake topper here, Thank You Notes are a keepsake. For the words person like myself, a special note can be retrieved on the difficult days, and in the trying times, to be the much-needed reminder of the goodness in life.

But there’s one more. Yep! Bonus material right here on heathermeadows.com. 

I wouldn’t have thought about it, but now I know it—Thank You Notes can open doors.

Because my routine for writing Thank You Notes was established years ago, it was natural for me to send on a note of appreciation in 2014 to Video Revolution for their help in getting us set up with a camera to record some of our speaking events. That little Thank You Note led to a connection with Stevie Fernandez who invited us to share our story for Explore Tulsa a year later, and giving me his card for InVision Media Group.

Fast forward to 2017. Stevie created an incredible speaker video from Saint Francis’ Hospital Week for me, potentially opening even more doors to share not only my story, but the messages this story has written.

I’d say Aunt Venita and Uncle George developed something of great value in me from their expectations of a Thank You Note. If they were here today, I’d write them one to thank them.

Proverbs 18:16 NLT Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people!

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

It’s All About the Heart

For over a year now my precious husband has been making a funny sound. And it’s not funny as in “LOL” but as in “bizarre.”   To make it more curious, the sound is positional, meaning it is only produced when he goes to bed at night and lies on his left side. Furthermore, I don’t like the sound.

Knowing a little bit about blood flow, I’m not envisioning good things when I hear this sound. Our heart has four rooms, or chambers as we call them. Blood visits these four rooms. Blood returning to our heart makes its first stop into our right atrium. Then flows on down to our right ventricle. After it grabs some oxygen from the lungs it enters into our left atrium and then flows into the last room of our heart, the left ventricle. From there it goes on its journey through our body delivering oxygen to our cells like FedEx delivers packages to our door. Except our blood is also kinda like the garbage truck and picks up our cells’ trash while it’s there, but that’s a more lengthy post I suppose.

So. Considering that the last room our blood visits before it’s grand journey throughout the body is the left ventricle, and considering that my hubby makes an involuntary sound when laying on his left side at night, would make any person push for a professional assessment.

It took a year. First I suggested. Then I nudged. Nudging turned into pushing. Pushing turned into nagging. And then, as I’ve been known to do a time or two, I took matters into my own hands and called myself to make a cardiology appointment.

Puzzled. That’s what I would describe the cardiologist’s response. Brandon is not what we call symptomatic. He has no SOB. (I threw that in to be funny. But really, he doesn’t. That’s what we say in healthcare for shortness of breath). He can run without any issues. While he’s not as lean as he’d prefer, it’s not like he’s really overweight. And his EKG showed no concern with his heart’s electrical activity.

But his cardiologist was again, puzzled. Therefore, we went for an echo to get a little gander of the structure of his heart.

It’s amazing really that we don’t have to have a perfect heart for it to work well and sufficiently meet our body’s need. Which at the same time is both incredible and crazy. And realizing this provides much spiritual insight.

Ever wonder why there are so many scriptures about the heart? I mean why did the psalmist not say, “I will praise you O Lord my God with all my kidney”?

Instead the Psalm says in chapter 86 verse 12 of the NKJV, “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore.”

When we think about shock it definitely makes sense.

Blood shunts toward two vital organs when one’s body goes into shock. And they are two organs we read about so much in scripture. The heart and the brain.

Patients can lose limbs out of the physiological changes a body makes to preserve the heart and the brain. Reduced peripheral perfusion means it all shunts to the core.

See, I believe the science reveals the Creator and what He is telling us. Every part of our body is significant, every organ is vital, but the heart and the mind are core to who we are, not only for our physical existence but our spiritual life as well.

And while we give much attention to public service announcements, and funds to foundations researching and saving the lives of our physical hearts and brains, it is our spiritual hearts and brains that are most vulnerable to injury.

Psalm 7:9 NLT “End the evil of those who are wicked, and defend the righteous. For You look deep within the mind and heart, O righteous God.”

The Israelites used the words “heart” and “mind” as virtual synonyms to refer to a person’s innermost center of conscious life. To ask God to look deep within the heart and mind, means we are inviting Him to examine the hidden places of our heart, and the hidden places of our thoughts. It’s asking Him to perform His own echocardiogram and get detailed with us, evaluating the structure of our character and motive.

And that is something that is not natural. It is part of our human nature to hide. I mean, do you remember when sin entered into the lives of Adam and Eve? They realized they were as naked as a jaybird and what did they do? They hid.

Asking the Lord to examine our heart and mind is the most significant thing we can do in our pursuit of a growing relationship with Him, because it may be hard to work on the hidden places He uncovers. Maybe we like some of the stuff we’ve got tucked away in the rooms of our heart. Maybe we find some enjoyment in those secret thoughts we revisit here and there. Maybe we’re wanting all the goodness of God but we’re not quite sure about cleaning out and throwing away what we’ve got in those rooms.

But if we are to have a healthy spiritual life, we have to protect our core.

We can’t fill our mind with garbage and pollute our heart with impurity and still experience true living. No. That kind of living is a crisis-mode life. It’s living in a constant state of shock.

And God did not call us to live in critical condition. He called us to live abundantly and victoriously.

So how?

Well here is a scripture from Psalm 51:10 to post on your wall, mirror, fridge or car and wholeheartedly pray,

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

Friends! We have to be renewed! Daily! We are just people. We’re not living as supernatural beings. We’re flesh and we need to continually draw near to the Lord to be renewed and strengthened.

Then ask Him to change the way we think. Talk about a new mindset. Setting our thoughts on things above has some major influence on taking us from a critical state to a powerful state. Romans 12:2 in the NLT says “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” If you want to have a healthy mind, ask the Lord to change the way you think. It’ll be different from the norm, but it will guide you to such goodness. It’s a kind of goodness that sticks with you even in the midst of difficulty.

Last one. Anticipate your mouth to follow. When you set your mind on things above, you think differently. And when you think differently, you sound differently. I’m not talking about the bizarre, out-of-the ordinary sound my husband makes when lying on his left side. No. I’m talking about what Jesus tells us about our hearts in Luke 6:45. “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

Remember, we don’t have to have a perfect heart for it to work well. We simply need to allow it to be examined and treated by the hand of our loving Father.

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

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GUEST POST: The Untouched Gift

*a special post from special guest Michele Lee*

Picture this:
You spend much time, thought, and your resources in getting the perfect gift. You put so much of your mind on it that “the gift” becomes a personal and real place in your heart. You go to the celebration with great expectations in watching the person open the gift with as much passion as you put into the process only to see them smile and politely say thank you and set it aside……BIG SIGH….Letdown.

Or maybe they show great appreciation but you see that they never use the gift….. disappointment!

The greatest pleasure and gift given me is to both teach and pastor. And yes, I can preach too! I have in one hand the ability to take information and clearly present it with novelty, but also depth.  And in my other hand, I have a great need to guide, love, train, and be a safe place for people to gather—gifts that were given by our Lord Himself with the sole purpose to give Him glory in order to bring others to Him. Which is really the definition to a purpose-filled life.

But sadly, I was that person, like many, who was given this beautiful box with the most elaborate decorations that obviously showed the time and attention given to it. I opened these gifts one day, only to set them aside.

I was using one gift but not to its fullest.  It was like having this piece of technology with a million cool things, and I used only one feature.  Instead of using the whole gift, I smiled with a polite thank you and set it aside.

I allowed insecurities, inadequate feelings, and fear to stop me from real and genuine fulfillment.

I cannot set back and watch others make this mistake.

If I were to guess, there are people reading this right now that your gift is just sitting there, either unopened or collecting dust.

I can say this with certainty because I have observed much of this my 25 years in ministry and in private and public education. I’ve seen students and adults have so much potential, and use none.  They find themselves aimlessly walking in circles to find purpose and success, and yet still feel so unfulfilled. I’ve watched people use the gift, but quickly set it aside because they feel “uncomfortable ” with it. I mean who gets a gift and is a master the first time with it? Not even the most technologically gifted people can say that.
I’ve heard many people tell me they showed up late to the party and did not receive a gift.

What?!

In God’s family everyone gets a gift! He’s just generous like that.

On the other end, I have watched someone so insecure, so unsure and so hesitant have courage to use the gift and become “beyond what they ever thought or imagined.”

Gifts are unlimited with our limitless God but here are a few to get your mind thinking :

The gift:

  • of hospitality
  • of encouragement
  • of compassion
  • of serving
  • of leadership
  • of prayer
  • of generosity
  • of creativity
  • of listening
  • of writing
  • of speaking
  • of organizing
  • of planning
  • of music
  • of connecting
  • of teaching
  • of preaching
  • of filling in the gap where needed

This is just to name a few, but please don’t believe that all of these can’t be in your life, because they can. A gift just means you’re really strong in that area or areas. And the gifts aren’t limited to one place. Your gifts are for every area of your world—home, work, church, leisure, and even strange, as in, not-part-of-your-normal-routine places.

Most people have allowed unfortunate circumstances or a bump in the road with people to decide whether they will use the gift. And I am here today…. writing this post…. to encourage you to use the gift(s). Trust me…. I had prepared another post and God took me here.

Three things happen when you use the gift:

1. God is glorified. Everything that good happens is from God. Matthew 5:16 tells us people will see your good works and glorify your God. If it ever becomes about you, it’s not from God and you will quickly fall short and be empty.

2. You are blessed. We were created with a void that only God can fill. When it’s filled with Him we are fulfilled. He meets emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, and tangible needs. John 10 says God has come to give you life MORE abundantly.

3. Others are blessed through your gift.  You often are the game changer in someone’s life or circumstances. We don’t have to think BIG to bless people. It often is the daily moments we say “yes” to obedience that we bless others. Why else would Proverbs close its book with this beautiful description of a woman: “her children will rise and call her blessed”? Why? Because SHE blessed them! She said “yes” to using her God gifts.

When I made a deliberate effort to use the gifts daily ….. not every once in a while …. not when I felt good…. not when it was convenient, but daily use the gift and be passionate about it, things changed. All the excuses I made, He had a reply and the solution. He was just waiting for me to say, “Yes! I’m as excited to use the gift as You were to give it to me!”

Thank you God, that You love us generously. That You give to us generously. That You equip us generously. That You see each of us as your unique gift!

Happy to receive and use the gift,
The Mrs. Pastor

A Little Thought From Heather:
If I were to list out some individuals who helped me discover and develop the gift God gave to me, Michele would be right there at the top.  She and Steve have not only ministered to my life for 23 years but they have mentored me, something I wrote about in a former a couple years ago called InspiringInfluence. Much of who God grew me to be is from their generous investment into my life.  I’m overjoyed to have Michele share with us and challenge our hearts on our online home and I invite you to take some time to visit her at her online home, The Mrs. Pastor Blog.  I’m certain you’ll be sharpened and inspired in your time reading around there.   Heather

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About Little Bit About Michele

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My name is Michele and my husband Steve and I have three beautiful girls.  Morgan, my oldest is married and works hard at whatever her hands set out to do. Lauren is an Elementary Education major at Oklahoma State University (our alma mater) and Kinsey just graduated High School and will be with sister at OSU seeking to major in Sports Media.  We are a Disney family….its our happy place.  It was a childhood memory of mine and I wanted it to be for my girls as well.  I also am a second grade teacher and have the awesome opportunity to make the classroom another ministry opportunity.

I am the “Mrs. Pastor”.  A dear friend gave me that nickname, and it just stuck with me.  I never wanted to have the label as “pastor’s wife” (even though I love my husband and am proud to stand beside him!).  I have my own identity, callings, giftings, and voice.  When I finally realized this, I had purpose.

We have served in ministry for 25 years.  We started off volunteering in college and were soon called to Coweta Assembly and have been here ever since.  We served as the youth pastors for 15 years, associate pastor for 2 years, and have been the lead pastors for 7 years.

We have been blessed to have so many people we consider family.  We have been blessed to havementored teenagers and then watch them grow into strong adults, couples, and parents.  We have been blessed that our children have been a part of one community their entire school years.

My giftings: teaching and prayer

My greatest improvement: confident leadership

My favorite involvement: praying over the people

My biggest hangup: talking during service

My enjoyment: reading (the word and novels)

My favorite woman speaker: It’s a tie….Pricilla Shirer and Joyce Meyer

My saddest memory: When my husband, Steve, was burned

My greatest wish: to leave the greatest spiritual legacy to my girls….and they do the same for their children

My vision: to see a growing, thriving, loving, prospering, spirit-led, hungry-for-the-things-of-God, joyful, positive group of people who are prayed up and excited to be in God’s house each time the door is open.

My dream: to work side by side with my husband full time

My love language: I think I have two: acts of service and time

I’d love to hear from you.

The Mrs. Pastor

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Summer Done Possibilities Begun

I remember years ago listening to parents comment on this time of year. Statements like, “I cannot WAIT for school to start” or “It can’t come fast enough” just made me a little sad inside.

I wondered, “How could anyone ever feel that way about their children? Their precious babies. Their little miracles from Heaven.”

Well, let’s just say, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under Heaven.” And for the parents in this house, school is an activity under Heaven we are so grateful to have. That Solomon sure knew what he was talking about!

There was a season of my life that I couldn’t even imagine receiving delight from the first day of school. I’ve even written about the emotional challenges of our little ducklings setting sail into a new school year. But that season is o-ha-ver-er! Yep. Just imagine it like Jim Carrey saying it, making over into a four-syllable word.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my children. And so did all those parents I’d listen to years ago and wonder where, in their heart, could they want their children to leave them for hours each day of the week.

No. They loved their children. Just as much as I loved and love mine. They were just speaking from a different season.

For example, a season like the one we’re in. You know. Two teenagers in the house. TWO!!! One of them being a female! The cry of my heart day-in and day-out, “Dear Jesus, help us!” But let’s not put it all on the teens. Oh no, no. The others. Those other two gave me a nice illustration just this past Sunday for how very timely the school year starting was for our home.

Standing at the ironing board for over four hours was not the ideal way to spend my Sunday afternoon. However, it is my own fault.  If I didn’t despise the task so much I wouldn’t have to spend such large chunks of time. Guess it’s part of that whole a stitch in time saves nine thing. But I don’t do stitching either so, carrying on.

Here I am at the ironing board with a boatload of wrinkled clothes draped across the couch awaiting the steam, when Caden comes down stairs half smiling in an attempt to avert his need to cry.

He said, “Mom, Gavin bit me.”

Puzzled, I replied with a question, “He bit you?

Caden raises the leg of his shorts to reveal a bite on the inside of his thigh! The inside of his thigh! Wow! Talk about pain! And problems. Wooie! Gavin was in trouble! Yep. Say that one with at least three syllables to get the intensity of the moment.

While I’ve never been a biter, I do get that even the best of circumstances lose thrill and passion.

I mean I’ve seen the Disney traveling families who have had so many magical moments they are over it! Over. It.

I also remember back to those days having my very, very best friend in the whole entire world, over to stay the night. One night wasn’t enough. So we’d ask for another night. Then that night wasn’t enough so we’d ask ,pretty please, for just one more! You know the story. After a week we were so sick of each other that every little thing brought aggravation and annoyance. It was like, “When is she going home?!

Point is. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. And too much of summer break, too much of staying home together in the same general area can end up turning something good into something not so good.

And another point. Enjoy the season. Soak it up.

My Mom has been the best example to me in that. So many times we say, “I can’t wait till this” or “I just wish I could go back to that.”

You’ll never hear my Mom carrying on about how she wished she could go back to soak up more moments. And the reason this is so significant is because my Mom only had nine years of her life to spend with her baby boy. We’d all understand wanting to live in the past when the past is the only place you have with one you love. But that is why we make the most of today, because we never know what tomorrow holds.

My Mom truly makes the most of every opportunity. She lives in the here and now. Life is happening today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Today.

Which brings me to my most favorite back-to-school post I saw, and last focus point to share. It said, “180 days of opportunities to make a difference.”

Wow!

Or as Junie B. Jones would say, “Wowie! Wow! Wow!

Each day is an opportunity to make a difference. Our kids walking the halls of their school. Our kids sitting at their lunch table. Our kids playing at recess. Our big kids pulling into the parking lots, sitting in their concurrent-enrollment courses and working at their part-time jobs. From taking tests to simple interactions with teachers and peers, our kids have an opportunity every single day to make a difference.  How in the world could we hoard that?!

And each day they head out the door and each night we tuck ‘em into bed, we echo the prayer of this back-to-school post,

Praying for a productive year filled with physical, mental and spiritual growth. New friends. New memories. And lots of fun!

Happy Back to School!!!!

Go make it awesome!

Colossians 4:5-6 NLT Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

Brooklyn ~ 11th —- Jaron ~ 8th —- Caden ~ 5th —- Gavin ~ 2nd *if Brooklyn wasn’t wearing heels she’d be eye-to-eye with her oldest little brother

Brooklyn ~ 11th —- Jaron ~ 8th —- Caden ~ 5th —- Gavin ~ 2nd *if Brooklyn wasn’t wearing heels she’d be eye-to-eye with her oldest little brother

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I Can't Breathe

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? I mean literally. Have you ever been met with such force that you lost your breath and momentarily lost the ability to take in another one?

There are a few things I think about when I imagine taking a breath. It has to do with tidal volume and vital capacity and respiratory nursing world technicalities. But before I learned about all of that terminology and mechanics of lung function, I learned what it felt like.

I remember back to my seven-year-old days being mechanically ventilated. Being intubated. Some call it life support.

I remember coming out from sedation.

Sedation. Those drugs that make you sleep; time passing without ever even knowing its existence.

I remember having moments of wakefulness and feeling that tube in my throat and thinking, I can’t breathe. It’s a scary feeling.

In a more common experience, I remember having the breath literally knocked out of me when I was about ten. My best friend Brad lived just down the road. Brad and Jon were the same age and after Jon died, Brad stepped in, giving his best to provide all the big-brother experiences he knew Jon would have given me. Like taking me fishing. Which included him fishing my hook out of his own hand on more than one occasion. Obviously, fishing wasn’t my knack. But Brad insisted I go nevertheless.

He’d call and scream into the answering machine on the early summer-break mornings, telling me to get my butt out of bed. If that didn’t work, he’d make his way down to the house to pester me awake. And we joined up for a decent amount of mischief, as Jon would have wanted, including throwing eggs off structures that I’m pretty sure people get arrested for. Brad was a gift of God’s grace in the tragedy of losing Jon. They were best friends, so having him was like getting to keep a piece of Jon.

However, I’m not sure I was thinking that the day he body slammed me over the couch. Don’t get me wrong- I deserved it. I had wrestled with the boys from my earliest beginnings. That’s what happens when you’re the only girl and the baby. If ya wanna be included, you got to run with the big boys. Who knows? Maybe it’s what developed my toughness for the road of recovery I faced.

But that day I hit the edge of the couch and fell off to the floor on my back, I looked at the ceiling and could not breathe. It was momentary, but no breath was to be caught. It scared me. And I think it scared Brad a little too.

I haven’t had the breath knocked out of me since that day. As I grew into a lady, I stopped wrestling with my big-brother figure and I played it safe going into vocal performance rather than high-impact activities.   But life has knocked the breath out of me many times over.

I remember having a dear friend, whom I loved very much, say something completely untrue about me. Our friendship shattered.   It took my breath away.

I remember sitting on an exam table and my obstetrician compassionately apologizing for our miscarried pregnancy. The feeling of emptiness took my breath away.

I remember being back in the burn unit recovering from skin grafts and Brandon walking in to my bedside telling me my Dad had passed away. I was in the same place I was when I found out my brother was dead seventeen years earlier. It took my breath away.

I remember my child making poor choices and receiving text messages from someone I loved and trusted telling me the behavior was linked to the way I had made my child feel. I was on the floor of parenting despair and that took my breath away.

I remember Brandon calling to tell me he had good news and bad news. Good news he was coming home and would get to spend the day with us. Bad news was he had lost his job in a highly unanticipated layoff. It took my breath away.

I could continue to trace back some moments where I felt someone had just knocked the wind right out of me, but the more important part is sharing how I got the breath to carry on.

There’s a worship song by All Sons and Daughters called, Great Are You, Lord. Here are some of the lyrics—

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

There are some key points to grab onto right there. When there is no breath left in you, He is your breath. God is breathing into our lungs. He is breathing in His life. His love. His light. His hope. We come up empty. We come up with darkness. We come up with brokenness. We come up apneic—that’s nursing terminology meaning not breathing. And He provides. Add this one to your playlist and sing it out when life’s trials, challenges and circumstances have knocked the wind right out of you. Praising Him in the storm restores and strengthens in supernatural ways we can’t even imagine.

So there’s one way—worship Him.

Here’s another—read, recall and repeat His Word. Psalm 34 is below with some bolded truths that I cling to. Remember—read, recall, repeat. There’s power in His Word! There’s breath for our life!

And finally, communicate to Him and His people. If you can’t breathe, you need intervention. I realized this when Jaron was born. Poor little fella couldn’t breathe—here’s that apnea word again, and retractions and all the things that go along with respiratory distress syndrome. It was more than a little skin-to-skin with mom could cure. Jaron Michael needed help. Specifically he needed some mechanical ventilation, but point is, when we need a breath, God is there to give it, but we need to reach out to Him and the people He longs to use to help us.

When life has knocked the wind right out of you, when there’s an internal anxiety and despair for air; let His peace, His presence and His breath fill your lungs as you walk in trust and rest. God is holding on to you.

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

Psalm 34 NIV
I will extol the Lord at all times;
    His praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt His name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and He answered me;
    He delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to Him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    He saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
    and He delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and His ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    He delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 He protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue His servants;
no one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.

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Personal Connection is More Important Than Pretty Pot Pies

I am a girl who likes to eat, but doesn't cook.  In other words, I cook to eat. Kind of ironic that I have a cookbook I’ll be offering for purchase soon. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll love this cookbook. Zero intimidation for those just needing to fix some food.

Some people get real creative in the kitchen.  The ideas start flowing as they get out bowls and ingredients, pots and pans, spatulas, spoons and rolling pins. Not me.  I have the stuff.  I just don't have the passion.

What I do have passion for is people.  And I love when people come to our home, sit around our table, or out on our patio, and eat with us.  Which is what happened just a couple weeks ago when my friend from work was coming for dinner and a visit with her hubby and three kiddos.

I decided a nice chicken-pot pie would be a good fit for the evening; I could prepare it ahead and it would be easy clean up.  Win.  And win!

So there I was before dawn that Tuesday morning.  I got my chicken going in the pressure cooker and started on my piecrust.  I rolled it out, transferred it to my 9x13 dish, put the remaining crust in a zip-lock bag and placed it in the fridge to use for the top later.  Check. Check and check.  I was feeling quite productive, as the sun still had not even begun to rise.

The morning was going to be a full one, and so was the rest of the day, so it felt oh so good to get this dinner prepared in advance.

Let's fast-forward to an hour and a half before our guests are scheduled to arrive.

Feeling like I've done pretty much all the work already, I come into the kitchen, get out my chicken I have already deboned and shredded, remove my already pie-crust-assembled 9x13 dish from the fridge, along with the zip-lock bag of the crust I was using for the top of my pot pie.  I stirred together all my remaining ingredients in a bowl with my chicken, added seasoning to my liking, hoping it's what my guests will like too, and then pour the contents into the awaiting casserole dish.  Oh this feeling is so good!  I'm just going to roll out the top, toss it on, throw the dish in the oven and get my shower in plenty of time to spare.

At this point I'm feeling quite good at my early arising, thinking that this is what Proverbs 31 women are made of.

The feeling shifted.

Quickly.

I floured my surface and began to roll out the remaining piecrust.  I'm sure everyone who loves to make pies would have a plethora of suggestions and most certainly corrections for what was taking place.  Let's just say, I was having some challenges getting my piecrust rolled out as smoothly as I did earlier that day.  I got to thinking that maybe I'd just have to start over and make an entire batch of crust again, but before I did, as time was ticking away and it seemed I was now on the verge of possibly needing to rush, I took that crust in my hands and said, "Lord, You make all things good.  Please make this pie crust good."

Yes.  I prayed over my piecrust.  We've shared this blogging journey long enough now for you to know that I lean heavily on the Lord's intervention over my daily activities.  I'm just a mess.  In so many ways.  But I know He cares about these little things too.

So there I go with a renewed confidence that the piecrust will be easier to work with.  And guess what?  It was!  I rolled that puppy out with ease.  I delicately rolled it up, grabbed two spatulas, came at it, inserting a spatula on each side, and I held my breath as I slowly and carefully transferred it over to the top of the chicken pot pie.  I laid it down ever so easily, and feeling like the hardest part was behind me, I let out a sigh of relief and began unrolling it, covering the top of the pie.

So…… the Lord made it good.

I just didn't make it long enough!!! 

I think I said out loud, "you have got to be kidding me?!?!"

The rush was on.  Without a doubt I needed to make another batch of piecrust.  And I did.  In record time.  Not in record time for those cooking shows, but in record time for me.

As I'm sifting the flour, adding in some crisco, and topping it with a beaten egg, vinegar and water, I'm asking myself, "Why do you do this?  Why do you want to cook for people?"  And while the question was a thought, the answer was a verbal statement.

"People don't come for the perfect meal but for the personal connection.”

Yep. That’s what I said out loud for my ears to hear and to get my mind focused on the bigger picture of this let’s-get-together-for-dinner idea.

The thing is, I’ve been in some homes where I’ve eaten some amazing food, but didn’t receive a sprinkle of hospitality. And honestly, I’d rather have a ham sandwich with a side of hospitality than a filet minion with none.

With that thought, I quickly added some additional crust to the bare part of my chicken-pot pie. I wish now that’d I’d have taken a picture, but at the moment I was working through everything I could to stay focused on the people and not the pot pie. But let me just tell you. My chicken-pot pie looked like it had a diaper! My original crust that wasn’t long enough, met with my additional crust and it pretty much looked like a diaper. But you know what? Our company loved it! And what they loved more was the time we were able to spend together.

We sat around our kitchen table for nearly 3 hours visiting, laughing and telling stories. We watched pool-soaked kiddos pop in and out of the house with giggles of goodness, a toddler make the most fun of a box of tissues, and Ruby even got to enjoy her favorite past time with our sweet friends, a few rounds of some intense tug-of-war.

And to think I could’ve let an imperfect pot-pie make me feel inadequate for such an experience. I would’ve missed so much.

Luke 10:38-42 NLT As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

By the way—come to find out, there’s a reason I’ve always felt frustrated with my chicken-pot pie. I’ve been working with half the dough. Through a conversation with my Mom about the ordeal it was revealed that I’ve been trying to make half as much go twice as far! Good grief! Now THAT is a completely different lesson, maybe we’ll revisit in a future post someday.

Until next time…. Reach out. Love and be loved. Be hospitable. Make connection. Soak up the opportunities. Whether it’s china or chinet, whether it’s roasted lamb or a diapered pot pie—personal connection is the goal!

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog, sharing with your friends and family, or making a purchase below? We can’t grow with out you.

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GUEST POST: God Multiplies Goodness

*a special post from special guest Kim Couch*Ten.  Ten Years. Ten years ago, I was finishing my first year of teaching, trying to figure out how to be a mom to my 18 month-old son, and building a new house with my husband. It was a time in my life when I was in a good place.  It was also ten years ago that I found a lump in my breast.  So, at that point when I felt everything was coming together--everything came to a halt.  In June of 2007, at the age of 28,  I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. The only previous experience I’d had with breast cancer was the loss of my high school friend’s mom due to the disease.  So, that was it.  The only person I’d known with cancer had lost her battle about ten years prior to my diagnosis.  It was at that very moment when I felt like I had been given a death sentence

Little did I know, while I was trying to grasp my new reality, God had already lined up numerous people in my life who would have an impact on the journey my family was about to start. Our family friends had resources that led me to Cancer Treatment Centers of America with the most amazing doctors and medical team.  Our pastor’s wife was a breast cancer survivor, so she was able to be an encouragement to me along the way.  Once I got set up with my medical team and had a plan, I was ready to go into battle.  I had decided that my attitude would be a major impact in my ability to beat this disease!  So right then and there, I decided that I would be positive and try to show God’s light to those around me.  I had a bilateral mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and 30 rounds of radiation.  I started in July 2007 and finished my treatments in April 2008.  

One of the first things I remember asking my doctor was, “Does breast cancer mean I can’t have any more children?

His response was, “Not now, but I’m not saying never.”  As time passed, I would ask him the same question.  Ultimately, the answer was the same.

There were many things on the journey that were hard, but looking back, the two hardest things for me were losing my hair and not knowing if I would ever have more children.  As I progressed on my treatment plan, my hair began to grow back, but I was still left with the pain of not having more children. There were points during this journey when I would imagine having another baby; however, while I obviously wasn’t pregnant, several of my friends were preparing for babies in their lives.  Although I was excited for them, it was truly a difficult time.  Please understand, I was grateful for my family of three and wasn’t willing to jeopardize my health, but I was still mourning the plans I had for my family.  My husband and I talked about and were open to the idea of adoption, but nothing seemed to work out for us.  I learned our plans are not always God’s plans.  

Finally, after about four years, my oncologist began to discuss the possibility of becoming pregnant.  Whoa!  When I was given that news, I panicked and questioned if it was something I really wanted. I felt like I had gone through the mourning process and had come to terms with my reality.  After about a year of praying and processing the idea, I had a sense of peace about the situation.  My husband and I decided we were ready to explore the idea.  We agreed that if I didn’t get pregnant then it wasn’t meant to be, and we would not seek fertility options.

In September of 2012, our first month after making the decision to try, we became pregnant!  A month later when we went in for our first ultrasound, the doctor said she saw something interesting.  I immediately thought the worst and asked if something was wrong.  She smiled and said, “Not necessarily.  You’re having twins!” 

I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to get pregnant, let alone getting pregnant in the first month of trying, and to top it off, pregnant with twins!!  

On May 8, 2013 we welcomed Karlee Jo and Kynslee Jane to our family.

I’m a planner.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but I’m so thankful God’s plan was bigger and better.  I’m a stronger person because of my experience with cancer, and I’ve learned to trust God...even in the ugly, scary times.  Although we may not see it at the time, God is always working things out for our best.  It took longer than I wanted to see what God’s plan was, but the wait was so worth it.  He turned my ugly and scary  into something beautiful!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.” Jeremiah 29:11

God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

A Little Thought from Heather:I met Karlee and Kynslee on the day of their birth, and I'll never forget their big brother trying to catch a glimpse of his brand new baby sisters as they were being rolled down the hallway.  A brief stop to let him gaze upon the miracle of their lives and God's goodness beamed from the light of his little eyes.

Goodness.  Goodness is what I think of when I think of this amazing family.  So many times we see a diagnosis, but God sees a platform to display a mighty work of His hand-- a work that can only be accomplished by His supernatural intervention.

Kim's story gives hope to all.  Believing for a healing?  She did much more.  She believed for a healing without resolving to a sacrifice.  Did she desire to be healed from breast cancer?  Absolutely.  Did she forfeit her desire for more children?  Not at all.  She believed and held on, standing in faith for BOTH!  

I believe Kim is an example to all of us for how to believe.  Don't believe for sufficient, believe for abundance; believe for fulfillment; believe for icing-on-the-cake; and in Kim's case, believe for multiplication!

May you be blessed and encouraged today to continue standing confident in God's goodness in the plans He has for your life!  ❤ Heather

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Gaining Hope in Difficult Days

In our home, we have this approach to bad days: go to bed early.  Our thought is, “the earlier we go to bed the sooner the day will be over, getting us to tomorrow, a brand-new day with brand-new beginnings.” Lynn Anderson was onto something when she sang, “I never promised you a rose garden.”  Bad days are as much a part of life as the good ones.  Thankfully, however, the good ones do overall outweigh the bad.  But sometimes the bad are more than bad.  They’re horrific.  And those are the seasons a simple turning-in-for-the-night won’t fix.  We wake up to the nightmare we long to escape.

..........Read The Rest of The Story at JaynePatton.com

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Dare to Dream

I read about a man who had a failed business venture and didn’t even have enough money to buy a railroad ticket to leave the scene of his failure. As the story goes he went door to door photographing babies, then sold his camera and bought a one-way ticket to California. Here’s my favorite part:

He left Kansas City in July, wearing a checkered coat and un-matching pants. He had $40 cash, and his imitation-leather suitcase contained only a shirt, two undershorts, two pairs of socks and some drawing material. But when he paid his fare for the trip to California, he bought a first-class ticket.1

A first-class ticket?!?!

It seems foolish for a guy who had just begged and borrowed for his failed business to spend money on a first-class ticket. Seems frivolous. A misprioritization of funds. But this man had a first-class dream only fitting for a first-class ticket.

The man was Walt Disney.

Walt had first–class vision and considering he left Missouri on the heels of defeat, I’d say he had first-class ambition. In reading his biography by Bob Thomas, Walt Disney: An American Original, I learned many things about Walt. Much was unknown to me, but for the parts I knew, I gained a deeper understanding. For instance, Walt didn’t face just this one obstacle of failure. He faced several. But one of the reasons I find him to be so inspiring is his relentless determination to hold on to his dream.

Stories like Walt’s inspire me to pursue God’s callings even though I have no guarantee of success and to keep trucking even if I’m met with some obstacles of failure.

First-class vision. First-class ambition.

Maybe you don’t have a Walt Disney sized dream. I mean, seriously, who would’ve ever imagined? But the potential for what God wants to produce from your dream will never be known unless you keep trying. Maybe it won’t look like what you thought it would. Maybe it will be more than you could have ever thought or imagined.

Ephesians 3:19-21 TLB Now glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.

There are some visions in my heart that just seem downright crazy. One I shared with my pharmacology instructor in nursing school. As I was speaking it out I thought, “I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud. She probably thinks I’m nuts.” But something must have resounded in her, because she, to this day, is one of my biggest encouragers and supporters to keep moving toward that vision.

Here are some questions to consider…

Would you pursue your goal even if others doubted your ability?

If you failed at something you desired would you try again?

Do you look for new possibilities when you get rerouted from the original goal?

These were my thoughts last year when approaching my test to get my national certification in neonatal nursing. The reality of failure was thick. I mean I’d walk out with a paper that either said, PASS or FAIL.

I had studied and studied still yet, felt like I hadn’t studied enough. I married my book for a good two weeks. I went through all online practice questions, looking at not only the right answer, but also all three of the wrong answers per question, making notes as to the rationale for each one.

It was pouring down rain the day I went to take the test and on my way there I got a call that my daughter’s school was on lockdown for a reported gun on campus! Seriously! Talk about being rattled when you’re already rattled! At the reassurance of my husband, I proceeded on to the testing center thankful for him to be making decisions regarding the safety of our child.

The few items I took into the testing center were zipped in a bag and locked away. I lifted my pants for an evaluation that I wasn’t stowing any cheat sheets in my socks. Cameras were recording every moment, and I was suppose to relax, focus and think. Did I mention I have testing anxiety? I kept thinking, “Why do I do this to myself?!” Then it came time for the photo. I knew this photo would either have a pass or fail beside it when I left, but I chose to smile anyway.

This was my goal. This was my personal desire. I knew I needed to smile because no matter the outcome I was going to give my best, and I was going to keep trying. No one or nothing could influence my motivation more than my own desire.

I guess God has hard wired that approach in me by this point. I mean, considering this blog, I consistently overcome questions of my own doubt and it’s value to others when I write. Then there’s the book, the memoir I’m writing. How many times I’ve asked myself, “What if no one reads it?” To add to it are the speaking commitments. It’s awesome being asked to speak at an event, but what’s the point if no one shows up to hear it, or if it’s not relevant to them in their life?

I suppose what makes a dream a dream, is the possibility of failure or of it never becoming a reality. Without the latter, it’s not really a dream at all.

But who wants to fail? Who wants to invest their heart, thoughts and efforts into something that may never come to fruition?

No one, I would think. But wouldn’t we miss something of great value if we didn’t go for it? And even if it doesn’t pan out, we know that we’re becoming something in the process, more of who God wants us to be.

Well, we’ll never know if we quit, or never even try.

It’s why we do what we do unto the Lord and not unto people (Colossians 3:23), because God will get us where He wants us to be. He will make us into more of who He wants us to be through the process, but we have to stay the course, focused on Him.

Walt Disney buying that first-class ticket shows me that failure is more of a mindset than a reality. As Walt said, “Around here however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Nothing holds a candle to God’s creative work in our lives. But we play a part. We have to dare to dream.

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog, sharing with your friends and family, or making a purchase below? We can’t grow with out you.

**If you are considering testing for your RNC, I invite you to purchase my study notes.  Your purchase will help us generate funds needed for website redevelopment and editing our book for publishing! The notes are compromised from the book Core Curriculum for Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing Fourth Edition by M. Terese Verklan and Marlene Walden. My study notes include all lab values as listed in the book, and the online practice questions, also from the workbook Certification and Core Review for Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing Fourth Edition by Robin L. Watson. Also included is the information I needed to apply for the test.  After your purchase is complete, the study notes will be emailed to your address provided at checkout.**

Click Here to Purchase RNC Study Guide

1Walt Disney: An American Original (p.66)

 

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Happy 4th of July, Brave Fighter!

Seasons change in life. Things change and shift, reflecting different pictures.

For a season of my life The Star Spangled Banner was one of my most favorite songs to sing. Today, I don’t do too much singing publicly, but I still sing. God bless my children and my hubby for all my singing they listen to around the house and in the car!

I remember singing this song for the first time in 8th grade choir. And then, my sophomore year of high school I was asked to sing this song at a basketball game.

Like I always did, I showed up with my accompaniment track, on a cassette tape in those days, and I sang the National Anthem at my first high school basketball game. Afterward, a coach encouraged me to do it next time without the music!

What?!

I could never sing without the music! That felt so naked!

The next few times I still brought my accompaniment, but then one random time I put on my big girl panties, pun totally intended, and I belted it out acapella.

I sang this song so often that one particular time I got finished, walked over to the student section where I planned to eat the hot dog waiting for me that I purchased right before I sang, and my friends said, “What happened? “ I had no idea what they were getting at. I mean, I would remember for sure if I cracked or flubbed. I’ve done that more times than I can count. But this instance I felt it went rather smoothly. Then one of them said, “You skipped straight to the bombs!” How funny! I didn’t even realize until that point that I had missed an entire stanza!

Time has changed very much. In the video you’ll notice my sweet Ruby Sue on the floor behind me and the kids’ cats moseying around, but as different as the picture looks, this is still one of my most favorites.

There is something about “the fight.” Something about a “perilous fight” and “our flag” still there that stirs my heart and my spirit.

We all face fights. We face unimaginable moments of hardship and difficulty, but we come from a people who are fighters.

I am so proud to be an American. Not just today on Independence Day. I am grateful I was born in this United States of America and have inherited the history of this country and my family.

We are a young country. We have many flaws in our past and our present. Something I can relate to and identify with personally.

But we are fighters. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Brave.

Brave is a word that has more definition, meaning and value to me than I can expand on in this post which I intended to be short and sweet.

But brave is something I connect with.

Brave is what the nurses called me in the burn unit during bandage changes.

Brave is what I tell myself when I’m standing on the brink of what I feel like I most certainly will fail at in my own ability.

Brave is what I tap into when I write posts, write this book in the making, show up to take care of NICU babies, step out on a limb to pray with someone I don’t know, parent my children each day, because honestly people, sometimes they scare me, and to record this song to share with you. Gracious that took lots of brave for me.

But just as we come from fighters. We come from so much more. Brave fighters.

I Timothy 6:12 NLT Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.

Psalm 27:14 NLT Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Happy 4th of July, Brave Fighter!

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HYIifp9cjk&feature=em-upload_owner[/embed]

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Guest Post: Lindsay's Heart

The month of June, what does it mean to you? Is it the remembrance of the D-Day Invasion in Normandy on June 6, Flag Day on June 14 or even the day we honor our fathers on the third Sunday in June? For me, June 20-22 is etched in my memory forever. June 20, 1997 was the last time I heard my daughter Lindsay tell me “I love you” and the last time I got a hug from her. It was the last time I saw her blue-green eyes and her beautiful smile. Little did I know, 3 hours after telling her bye, she would be involved in a horrific car accident that would take her life.

Lindsay was my first daughter, the second of my three children. She was born May 22, 1981. She was a little sister to Ryan and a big sister to Rachel. She was a beautiful young lady. She was spunky and full of life. She lived life to its fullest. She wasn’t perfect and sometimes found trouble if it didn’t find her first. 

Just 4 years earlier, my kid’s father tragically died in a work related accident while working out of state. Lindsay struggled with the death of her dad. She stated on many occasions that she just wanted to be with her dad. Three weeks before her death, she told my friend that she wasn’t going to live to see the age of 25. The night before the accident, I remember her sitting on the couch crying. I asked her what was wrong and she just shook her head and said she didn’t know. Before she went to bed that night, she told my nephew and her brother that she knew she wasn’t going to live much longer. She knew before we did that her life on this earth was going to end.

Lindsay and my nephew were headed to Dallas to spend the weekend with my cousin. Their trip ended just south of Caddo, Oklahoma. For unknown reasons, the car ended up crossing the center median and they were hit by a semi going 70 mph. The impact of the semi hitting the car caused the car to split in half. The seat’s belt broke and Lindsay was found just 3 feet behind the car. My nephew was thrown 65 feet. He had asphalt burns to his face, hand and leg. He had a broken hand and a large horseshoe cut on the back of his head. Thankfully, he lived, but lives with survivor’s guilt.

There were two off-duty EMT’s who drove upon the accident and immediately started CPR on Lindsay. Her heart stopped twice on the way to the hospital in Durant, Oklahoma. We did not find out about the accident until 3:30 pm. The doctor informed my husband that Lindsay had no brain activity and they wanted to transfer to a hospital in Sherman, Texas because they had a trauma unit. Before they transferred her to Sherman, they performed surgery to repair a tear in her liver. That trip to Sherman was the longest trip of my life. I knew things weren’t good, but I prayed and prayed. I asked God to watch over Lindsay and to help me make decisions that I knew I was going to have to make.

It was 9:00 pm when we finally arrived. The moment I walked in the room to see Lindsay, I saw that she was at peace. She was on life support and they had shaved part of her hair in order to insert a probe to measure the pressure on her brain. As the ICU nurse began to explain all the numbers on the monitor, it showed the pressure on her brain was 110 and was rising. I asked what was normal and with a hesitation in her voice and tears in her eyes, she said 8-10. Once again, I knew things were not good. I continued to pray and as the night wore on, the pressure continued to rise to 150. To look at Lindsay, you would think she was just sleeping. Visibly, you could see a bruise on her cheek, a puncture wound on her hand and one of her toes had been severed, but it had been repaired.   We talked to her and prayed for her through the night.

The next day they ran a series of test to see if she could breathe on her own. She could not. They checked to see if there was any blood flow to her brain. There was not.

We knew then that the Lindsay we knew and loved so much was already with our Lord and Savior. At that time, we talked with her doctor and made the decision to donate her organs. Southwest Transplant Alliance in Dallas was contacted. Two nurses made the trip to Sherman to discuss with us the process of organ donation. We chose to donate her heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and liver.

I had never felt so much peace, feeling of the arms of Jesus wrapped around me, as I did when I found out that there was nothing more they could do.  I remember talking to our pastor on the phone and telling him I had peace, because I knew where she was.

On Sunday morning, June 22, everyone went in to tell Lindsay how much she was loved and we would see her when we get to Heaven. I was left in the room by myself with Lindsay. I talked to her, prayed for her and then began to sing to her a Point of Grace song, “God Loves People More Than Anything”, except I sang “God Loves Lindsay More Than Anything”. I sang it over and over again just so she would know how much God really loved her and He was taking her away from all the heartache she was enduring in her earthly life. My husband told me I wasn’t really saying goodbye, but “I’ll see you later”, because we will see her again in Heaven. 

When I walked out of her room, the nurses were crying with me. I went back to the waiting room. One of the nurses came out to tell us that they pronounced her brain death at 9:45am and that is when they began harvesting her organs. We started our journey back to Coweta without our Lindsay.

We knew God had a plan from the very beginning. We believe God placed the off duty EMT’s in the exact spot on Highway 69 at the time Lindsay needed them to keep her alive. We know a 30 year-old woman received both of Lindsay’s lungs. Her transplant was needed because of a heart defect. Lindsay’s liver went to a 49 year-old man who had been disabled for eight years because of an unknown reason as to why he was in liver failure. Lindsay’s pancreas and one kidney went to a 46 year-old woman with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Lindsay’s other kidney went to a 32 year-old woman who had kidney failure due to hardening of the tiny vessels in her kidneys.

The most precious gift given was Lindsay’s heart. Her heart went to Wayne Battles. At the time of the heart transplant, Wayne was 55 and he had a birthday a month after his transplant. Wayne will be 76 in July!

Wayne’s story began 4 years prior to his transplant. That is when the doctors told him that he would need a new heart. He and his wife starting praying for their donor and their family if God’s plan included a new heart. 4 years prior for our family was when we were given the heartbreaking news that the father of my children had died. Wayne went into the hospital April 29, 1997. Through all of our visits, we found out that Wayne had gotten so bad they took him off the transplant list. But, on May 21, his numbers started improving and he was put back on the transplant list on May 22, Lindsay’s birthday.

In the beginning, all of the correspondence was anonymous and went through Southwest Transplant Alliance. It took me quite a bit of time to write back to them after receiving the very first letter, but finally completed a letter and a small photo album of Lindsay to send to them. When we received another letter after they celebrated his 1 year anniversary with his new heart, I could tell they never received my letter. After seeing a partial phone number and a church name, we could tell they lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. My sister started her own investigation and finally found Sharon. After a brief conversation with her, she called me and told me she found Lindsay’s heart recipient and to be expecting a call. Many tears were shed when we talked. We discovered that my letter and photo album were sent to the transplant hospital. Sharon made a trip to the hospital to retrieve them and then she gave Wayne the letter and album that evening.

They made a trip to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on September 19, 1998 so we could meet for the first time. I remember laying my hand upon his chest to feel Lindsay’s heartbeat. On August 13, 2014 was a monumental day for us. They surprised us by opening up a box which held a stethoscope. I was able to hear Lindsay’s heartbeat for the first time. 

Many tears were shed that evening. I have been able to listen each time we have met since then. We continue to see each other at least once a year. We have received letters and cards on every holiday from Wayne and Sharon for 20 years. The bond we have developed is unbreakable. Although, we have never heard from any of other the other recipients, I pray each one is doing well after their transplants.

In all of this,I am so thankful that God has given me the strength and courage to live beyond the accident. I know that because Lindsay believed in God and was saved by His grace, she has her place in Heaven. I am looking forward to the day when I am reunited with her in Heaven. I am thankful for the support I have received over the last 20 years from my husband, my son and daughter and their families, my parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and the rest of my extended family.

"Don’t take your organs to Heaven…Heaven knows we need them here.

-Sherri Valder

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NIV

A Little Thought from Heather:

Back in November we had the honor of having Courtney Allen share the beautiful story of her brave little boy’s journey to a heart transplant, in Guest Post: A Thankful Heart. When I asked Courtney to write our guest post about Caysen, I had great hope of Sherri sharing Lindsay’s story, the story of a donor family.

This story is close to my own heart. For one, as long as I can remember I’ve personally understood the importance of organ donation. I would not be alive today if it weren’t for tissue donation. Families made the decision to donate their loved one’s tissue, the largest organ of our body and because of cadaver skin, and the donation of countless blood donors, I had the chance to live.

But Lindsay’s story is more than a story to me. I knew Lindsay.

School had not been pleasant for me after our accident. I experienced challenges in finding acceptance and security in returning to school. All of my elementary school years were spent bobbling back-and-forth between surgeries, doctor’s appointments and physical therapy. I just never settled back with my peers.

I was so scared, but I finally took a leap and changed schools in the 8th grade.

There was this girl in my English class. She had naturally curly blond hair, like me. She was outgoing. She lit up a room. Everyone was drawn to her personality. Her smile was more than a facial expression. It beamed from her heart. And this girl WELCOMED ME from the get-go. And to top it off, we shared the same middle name. Lindsay Renee and Heather Renee.

The song her mama sat at her bed and sang to her, “God Loves People More than Anything,” her family blessed me with the honor of singing at her memorial service. Even today, twenty years after her passing, I carry such gratitude for being able to do that little something for her, because what she did for me played a part of shifting my intimidated, insecure teenage world looking for acceptance to one filled with enthusiasm and joy each time I walked into a class we shared.

Lindsay had a gift of making other people feel valued. And I find it to be completely reflective of her life that she gave such insurmountable value even in her death.

When you think of organ donation, when you consider the commitment to give, think of precious Caysen who has a life today because of a donor, and think of Lindsay who continues to touch others, from those of us who knew and loved her, to those who never even met her. Twenty years later, her life is touching lives.  

*I pray this post spoke to you. Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.*

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