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.

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When Life Has You Benched

fullsizerender-3I think it’s best to start this post with a disclaimer, a little clarification, that in no way, at all, am I implying I know much about anything involving sports. This post was comprised from a few Google searches and my own personal observations of a seventh grade basketball team. I’ve learned a lot.

Our oldest son has a love for fishing, soccer and basketball. He didn’t inherit any of those passions from his mom, and only one of them he can trace back to his dad. Jaron began playing soccer when he was four and basketball at five. Actually, he has interest in pretty much any physical outdoor or sporting activity, but over the years we have watched him hone in on his favorites.

You can only imagine our excitement and enthusiasm for him to play school ball this year. Attending games with parents we’ve met throughout the years of Upwards and booster club. Sitting in the stands watching him play in the same basketball gym we cheered players when we were students. Anticipating new memories with each game on the schedule. It was going to be great!

Well… wasn’t what we thought it’d be.

Honestly, I could just stop there.

How many times are we pumped up for a season and it doesn’t unfold into what we thought it’d be?

Like showing up every single day, early, and staying late giving every ounce of effort you have without a complaint and then being passed over for the promotion. Not what you’d thought it’d be.

Like getting up and sticking to that treadmill routine, staying disciplined to the eating plan, resisting the popcorn at the movies while every single person in your group is having some, with extra butter, only to get on the scale the next week and see not one pound has been shed from the efforts.

Like doing pre-marital counseling, making a ten-year plan, praying with and for your spouse, investing in their dreams and goals by personal sacrifice of time and money, then not feeling growth but rather decline in the marriage relationship.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Sometimes things aren’t what we thought it’d be.

Kinda like seventh grade basketball for Jaron. He was eager. He was excited. He was at practice every single morning, five days a week, not missing one. He was on time, and even occasionally early when he could get his mom out the door to drive him there. He’d get home in the evening and practice free-throws, lay-ups and three pointers. He would shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot. Whether it was ten degrees or seventy, because yes, we have those temperature swings regularly in Oklahoma, he was out there working to improve.

So you can imagine how hard it was for us to watch him sit the bench. One game he didn’t play at all. Not at all.

Oh the parent inside. You know the parent inside. I wanted to give the coach some insight into my child’s hard work. I also wanted to ask him why not only my child was sitting the bench, but several other boys, who were good ball players. I saw a team of talent being overlooked. But every now and then God shows me how He’s growing me, because this communicator who feels everything can be worked out for the better with a good discussion never said one word. Not to the coach anyway. But to the Lord and my husband, I poured out my heart.

At one point this was dropped into my heart,

“Heather, you have prayed for years now that Jaron would know the difference between confidence and arrogance. Allow the opportunities to teach him.

And wow—the opportunity taught him so very much.

A couple things we talked about were….

Perseverance, Dedication & Commitment

The Lord spoke through my heart that one day Jaron may not feel appreciated or valued at his job, but he’s going to give his best because he’s personally learned what is it to have perseverance, dedication and commitment. That one day, when he experiences difficult times in his marriage, he’s going to continue giving his best because he’s learned what is it to have perseverance, dedication and commitment. And that was developed on the bench, not on the court.

Another quality developed on the bench—a mindset of service.

After one of the games I said to him, “Jaron, I couldn’t have been more proud of you if you were out there scoring every point. I watched you sit on that bench, knowing how deeply you desired to be playing, and you were cheering and encouraging your teammates. Not an ounce of the disappointment you felt kept you from staying focused on the team.”

Toward the latter part of the season, Jaron’s playing time increased quite a bit. And with it came the discussions emphasizing the mindset of service. “Serve the team well. If you have an opportunity to play, play for the team, not for yourself. That way, when you’re pulled out, it’s not about you, but about what’s best for the team.”

I get it. No one wants to sit on the bench. Here’s where my Google search got me. There were over fifty players on the rosters for the 2017 Super Bowl teams. Only eleven players from each team were on the field at a time. That’s a lot of players all dressed up to sit the bench for the most-watched television-sporting event of the year. But they’re still getting something out of it. And so do we!

“What do you mean, Heather?” I’m glad you wondered!

I’m talking about Romans 8:17 NLT “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.”

May make ya wanna skip them both altogether. The glory may not be worth the suffering. Oh, but when the Lord is involved it is.

We are made into who He intended for us to be. We are developed beyond the tendencies of our nature. We are molded into more.

When life has you benched, when it feels it’s not worth the work, or the trouble, or the commitment, or the dedication, or the pain, or the suffering; remember, that in this world, all of it may very well seem worthless, but to God it’s the ingredients to produce something of great value!

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Crummy Mom

We had barely departed the experience, the fruition of obedience to God’s calling, when the clouds started rolling, the thunder started rumbling, the lightning hit and the rain poured. Our drive into Boston should have been one of elation and rejoicing, however, we quickly ran into a storm, a storm that started brewing long before we began our trip. No, I’m not speaking of a literal storm. I’m speaking figuratively. I wish we could have pulled under a bridge and wait for it to pass by. I wish we could have stepped into a closet and hid from the winds. Or even better, I wish we could have locked ourselves in our safe room and shut it out entirely. But we all know the storms of life are endured, not avoided. I read several years ago that trees send their roots down deeper due to the storms they withstand. No storms mean a shallow root system. Now I’m no arborist, but I get the illustration, and I don’t want to be shallow or weak, I want to go down deep and be strong. Nevertheless, the storms are unpleasant, unpeaceful, and at times, down right scary.

The storm’s intensity grew when I broke, exposing the darkness that surrounded us. I felt safe, I felt secure, and even more than that, I felt desperate for help. I literally broke, crying uncontrollably and sharing not only my defeat, but pronouncing my shortcomings.

For someone who lives as an open book, it’s imprisoning to hold in my burdens, to retain my brokenness. Burying and hiding are not natural for me. It takes effort. It takes determination. And while I see that sometimes it is necessary, it feels phony. We need a safety net when we are falling. Unfortunately, with the people I would have not wanted to have boundaries with, I should have had boundaries. The integrity and character of our home came under fire. And isn’t that the way the enemy attacks? So sly and creepy, using one attack to generate another.

The point is, if we lay everything out on the table, we’re providing the revelation of our failures. We all have them, and we provide for many more failures when we become parents. If you haven’t failed your children yet, wait, because you will.

You’re probably thinking something like, “Great. So glad I’m reading this today. Nothing like having someone tell me I’m going to fail at the most important role I will ever have!” Or you may be tempted to minimize those failures as you reflect back on your days of raising children. Pause with me please, and join me in asking the Lord to humble us and remove a pride He cannot honor.

Let’s remind ourselves that we all fall short. We are parenting in our humanity. And our humanity is fallen.   John and Stasi Eldredge inform us in their book Captivating, “But Adam fell, as did Eve, and the fathers and mothers most of us had continued the sad story. They did not provide the things our hearts needed in order to become lovely, vulnerable, strong, adventurous women.”

Honestly, it’s a thought that never crossed my mind when I was welcoming my precious children into the world. “I’m going to fail this perfect little person. I’m going to wound their heart.”

I was prepared to give away my heart, but not to wound theirs. Big chunks were removed with every baby born. Jaron’s birth brought about our first NICU experience. The team whisked him away from me on the eve of Christmas Eve. I was discharged the next day and felt my heart in two places, neither of which was inside my chest. I was torn to be home with my sweet little girl and to be with my new precious and sick baby boy. It was just the beginning, just the beginning of my heart existing outside my body no longer secure and protected within myself.

“You cannot be alive very long without being wounded,” the Eldredges write. “Broken hearts cannot long be avoided in this beautiful yet dangerous world we live in.” “This is not Eden. Not even close. We are not living in the world our souls were made for.”

As I was caring for my own Mom recovering from an orthopedic surgery this summer, I gave her medication to manage her pain. Some are big pills, hard to swallow. And some of these words are hard to swallow, but can manage the pain of our wounded hearts. Through her own journey, Stasi Eldredge writes, “Yes, she [her mother] failed me. All mothers fail their children to varying degrees. But she also loved me. That was what was most true.”

Every wave and bump, even the wash outs and pot holes, messages are sent, imperfections are highlighted and wounds are created. We hurt our children and our children hurt us. Ephesians 6:12 tells us where the battle comes from, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

And as mothers, we battle. In our flesh, in our humanity, in our fallen, imperfect state, we battle.

“Women are called to join in the Greatest Battle of all time- the battle being waged for the hearts of those around us.” -Captivated

As long as I’m breathing I will go to battle for my children to have God’s best in their life. It is raw, it is real, and it is humbling to recognize our imperfections, and to encourage our children to take what we’ve given them as parents and to be better, to make improvements and be better parents for their children. No blame, no bitterness, but better. Humbling ourselves in believing and battling for God’s best.

So why would I write a post to share about being a crummy mom? Because at times, you feel crummy too. In those times, in those dark moments, and in those attacks, don’t allow the enemy to defeat you, even if he’s using people you love in the attack. Filter through. Sift it out before the Lord. Only He truly knows your heart.

I’m walking in steps of obedience to God’s calling. There is no attack that could possibly stop me than one upon my family, one upon my home. So here it is. The storm. Here I am. Not giving up. Battling the attack, because I know God will prevail. His Plan will succeed. Good will come, a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up (Galatians 6:9).

Through this storm I praise Him and I pray He uses it to encourage you.

“But we don’t wait to offer our lives until we have our acts together. We don’t get that luxury. If we did, would anyone ever feel like offering anything? God asks us to be vulnerable. He invites us to share and give in our weaknesses. He wants us to offer the beauty that He has given us even when we are keenly aware that it is not all that we wish it were. He wants us to trust him.”- Captivating

Psalm 34:5

Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

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Have you ever struggled with the feeling of not being good enough?  Has someone taken a highlighter to your shortcomings or magnified your failures?

God's design for women includes a longing for intimacy and adventure with Him, to gain an understanding of how He sees each of us, and to develop a closer relationship with Him.

Please join me, along with the women of my community as we rediscover the joy of belonging to God with a heart that is awakened and restored… a heart in full bloom.

Throughout the weekend you will experience teaching sessions, including testimonies, films, guided periods of personal reflection and worship.

This weekend is based on the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

Captivating 1


Captivating 2 Captivating 3

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A Meaningful March

A question that I was asked frequently toward the end of nursing school was, “Where are you going to work?” Some seemed surprised when I responded, “In the NICU at Saint Francis.” First of all, I was a burn survivor and second of all, I promoted Hillcrest Medical Center with my burn survivor story. But there are many stories that make up my life and who I am. One alone does not define me or guide me. Every experience contributes to the person I’ve become and the work I desire to do. As passionate as I am about burn care and the compassion, drive, sensitivity and motivation that burn care nurses provide, my eyes were opened to a whole new world in December of 2003. My first son, Jaron Michael was my biggest baby, born on December 23rd weighing 7 pounds. To our disbelief, Jaron was in respiratory distress and was taken to the NICU at St. John where he was intubated. Forty eight hours later, he was extubated and we were anticipating a quick transition to home. However, we were unaware of the common need for phototherapy and IV caffeine.  It was a heart wrenching process.


Despite every intention to avoid another visit to the NICU, that is exactly where Brandon and I found ourselves when our fourth child, our third son Gavin Lee, was born on July 13th 2009. I had a sudden encounter with some very disturbing symptoms. I lost part of my vision, had a bout with expressive aphasia followed by dysphasia, then transitioned into receptive aphasia. My husband rushed me to St. John Medical Center; I was admitted, and started on the dreaded magnesium sulfate. Once the symptoms had subsided and I was faced with the fact that my baby was going to be delivered five weeks early, I lay in bed and wept, knowing the inevitable. I prayed for the Lord to help me accept that once again my baby would be whisked away by virtual strangers and I would not be able to be with him.


These encounters developed my heart for this area of care. And today I get to do for other babies what I so desperately wanted to do for my own. I support these babies and their families through my work and my walk. For a girl who wasn’t supposed to live, and then wasn’t supposed to be able to walk, and who wasn’t supposed to be able to have children, I get to live and walk with my children for other babies and their families. And that is exactly what we did last week.

Every year we set a $500 March of Dimes fundraising goal; a hundred dollars for each baby. You see, we have five babies in our hearts. We had Brooklyn, and then miscarried our second baby, we had Jaron, our first NICU baby, then Caden, and then came Gavin, our second NICU baby. There is a personal drive to support moms in growing healthy babies, and in helping sick babies get well. It’s all pretty simple, but intricate too.

Our fundraising for 2013 came to $585! Thank you to all who gave support. Every donation, big and small, makes a difference. It made a difference for our family and it makes a difference to this nurse.

How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7 NLT


Thank you to our sponsors! Allison Bacon, Mindy Beasley, Stephanie Bennett, Betty Bermudez, Misty Berryhill, Natalie and Donnie Clyma, Susan Cochrane, Court and Lisa Dooley, Margaret Edmonson, Rob and Amanda Emery, Gayle Foster, Sherry and Tim Kelley, Robin and Kirby Meadows, Renda and Nathan Rapp, Emily Forth, Lezlie Glass, Elizabeth Herber, Lori Kelly, Jammie Kern, Megan Lindsey, Kayla and Felipe Martinez, Julia Morrison, Kristy and Greg Morrison, Brandon and Athena Rainbolt, Trevor and Amber Randall, Ray and Emile Tucker, Channing Wedel , Teddy and Denise Wyatt.

March of Dimes Mission

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Proud Emotion

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to say that I’m a crier.  But it’s not all inclusive.  I’m not one to shed tears at Hallmark commercials.  I'm not a big fan of tear-jerker movies, and I don’t lose it at every wedding or funeral.  However, when it comes down to classifying, I have to be put in that category.  I’m just an emotional person and when something touches my heart or comes from my heart, I frequently get choked up. The assumption could be made that since I’m aware of this that I’d be prepared for it or that I’d embrace it, but I’m not and I don’t.  I seem to never have tissues in my pocket or purse, and when I begin to get that lump in my throat, when my nose starts to burn and my eyes start to water, I tend to try and contain it, to hold it back.  I can’t even imagine the faces I make in my attempts.  Why I even try?  I don’t know.

This past Thursday I had “A Mom Moment.”  I was so overcome with pride that those tears were uncontainable.  Our school system has a Student of the Month program.  Two students from the highest grade at each school, elementary through high school, are chosen for this recognition.  The two students’ names are on the marque for their particular school throughout the month, the students have a place to display items that represent them in a case at their school, are recognized in an assembly, featured in the newspaper and treated to lunch with their principal and superintendent, among others.

Our second child, our oldest son, has always been what I would describe as very intuitive.  We’ve been told countless times from his teachers that he is very bright and quite intelligent.  He’s always felt comfortable mingling with adults and expressing his thoughts.  He wants to know the “why” and “how” of things.  He is diligent, competitive, and confident.  We’ve had several discussions with him about showing respect, because when he thinks he is right, he has been known to try and correct his teachers during lessons.

With this strong personality also comes a very sensitive and compassionate nature.  Our son never has a problem speaking his mind or expressing his deep emotion.  He gives and receives love with a kiss, a hug, a pat on the back.  Finding his balance between his intellectual ability and acceptable behavior has been the challenge.  Therefore, when we received the letter that said our child was chosen for Central Elementary Student of The Month, we were ecstatic.  And he was honored with the award this past Thursday.

During the luncheon, our son’s principal read a little bit about him.  His favorite subject, his favorite book, his favorite activity were among the topics, but what gripped my heart was what he wanted to be when he grew up.  Mrs. Dotson said, “Jaron says he wants to be an engineer when he grows up because his Dad is an engineer.”

I should have just let the tears fall, but I tried to contain myself.  So many times we tuck our kiddos into bed and feel like we just got through another day.  They got to school in clean clothes, hopefully with their teeth brushed, we got the homework finished, dinner on the table, practice or games completed, showers, laundry, dishes, shoes collected, school notes signed, and kisses goodnight.  We don’t always stop to think that our children might just want to be like us when they grow up.

The pride I had over my son was immense.  He had achieved not only the academic acknowledgement but the recognition of his character.  And in his moment, I was reminded of Titus 2:7, “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.”

In our everyday in and out lives, we are preaching the greatest message to the greatest generation- our children.


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