encouragment

Journey with Jen: Bailing

Journey with Jen: Bailing

Everyone has times in their lives that feel like stormy seas, times that feel like we are sinking instead of sailing. During those seasons, we may feel like there is no such thing as trying hard enough and we are consistently taking on water. This month, Journey with Jen as she learns that bailing your own boat isn’t always the answer. 

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Where Are We Going?  A Post for The New Year.

Where Are We Going?  A Post for The New Year.

Three focus points hit my heart regarding my approach to the New Year when I was recently driving in some unfamiliar territory.  I pray you take a few moments for me to share them with you and that you continue to join us in 2018.  We are so grateful for your support!   

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The Good Things

This week we had the opportunity to sit in our kitchen and visit with some fine folks from a local television show. After the microphone was tucked away, the camera packed up and the vehicle pulled out of the driveway, I got to thinking about how God doesn’t just open doors, He opens them in ways we often don’t even anticipate. The Explore Tulsa show door opened because of a thank you note. Over the summer I had written a thank you note to Video Revolution. They’re people who not only know cutting edge electronics, but they have heart too. Almost a year ago, Brandon shared with them how the Lord was calling us to share our story, and our need to video the events. They captured the vision and met the need. The least I could do was write a thank you note. Well, who would’ve known Video Revolution sponsors the Explore Tulsa show? That one note led to an email, a phone call, an interview, and soon a segment to air covering our story. God is so creative.

It’s a statement I find myself repeating over and over again. The creative plans of God are far above what we can think or imagine. I certainly would’ve never imagined how He would take such tragedy, loss and sadness and bring life, joy and abundance out of it.

One of my favorite, slightly embarrassing, but really funny stories about God’s creative plans goes back five years ago. I was in my first semester of nursing school at OU. I was in the 3pm-11pm clinical group. We had two back-to-back clinical days each week. The patient I was assigned to on day one was going into surgery the next day. As a student I desired the chance to observe the surgery. When the elderly patient asked me if I would be there, it gave me the motivation I needed to inquire of the possibility.

The next day, we’ll call surgery day, was the day the nursing students were assigned to be working a health fair for the Tulsa Run registrants. It was a late night before, and an early morning start. That may not sound like pertinent information, but it explains why I never took the time to eat. I stayed at the health fair until my clinical instructor gave me the green light to leave a little early, making it to the hospital for the patient’s surgery.

I checked in at the OR where I was escorted to change out of my nursing student scrubs and into surgical scrubs. Afterwards, a nurse accompanied me to the OR where I was encouraged to find a place out of the way, and not to draw any attention, or ask any questions, because the surgeon didn’t like students. Wow! Talk about intimidating. But I found a corner, where I assumed I’d be able to see, and I planned to be inconspicuous.

Shortly thereafter, the door swung open and a man walked right up to me and asked, “Are you the student?” I said, “Yes, I am.” Then another question, “Do you want to see something you’ll never see again in your life?” I said, “Absolutely.”

I walked with him over to view an X-Ray as he explained to me that the patient had an amyand hernia. Then this surgeon, who supposedly didn’t even like students asked, “do you want to scrub in?” WHAT?!?! No. That’s what I said on the inside, but allow me to use quotations so you’ll realize how composed I was on the outside. “What does that entail?” He said, “Come on. I’ll show ya.”

So over we went to scrub in. As I washed and washed, up to my elbows, Dr. Johnson inquired of my burn injury. The questions, “how were you injured?” and “where did you receive your care?” revealed that Dr. Johnson not only knew my surgeons, but remembered my case. It was a neat moment to say the least.

Do you feel all the nice warm fuzzies? Hang on to those. It gets better.

There I was all scrubbed in, donning the sterile gloves and sterile gown, we moseyed up to the surgical field. Dr. Johnson instructed me to put my hands right up there by his. The surgery started, the incision was made and the cauterizing began. Now is the time I should remind you I hadn’t eaten that day. As the fat was cauterized the smell overwhelmed me. I remember the voice of Ms. BDub (our nickname for our clinical instructor) ringing in my head, “Don’t let anyone take away your opportunity to learn.” I was telling myself to pull it together, not wanting to throw the opportunity out the window from my own doing.

I’ve never completely passed out, but I was on my way that day. My head was sooo light. I was trying so very hard to hold it together. I believe I took a step back, keeping my hands in position on the sterile field, I then leaned over about to go down. Dr. Johnson yelled, “Grab her.” Suddenly, someone’s arms were around my waste and everyone was asking, “what’s her name,” “what’s her name?” I answered in a barely-with-it slur, “Heeeaaattthhherrrr.”

Oh dear. There was a whole need to scrub back in. Not for me. No, they found me a little stool to sit on for the duration of the surgery. Nevertheless, I was shocked when Dr. Johnson invited me in for the next case. It was nothing I could’ve ever anticipated. It was a skin graft on a burn patient.

What an incredible moment seeing for the first time what I had experienced so many, many times before. It was surreal. In my spirit I prayed for the patient, anticipating his pain upon awakening for him. Bless his heart. Skin grafts are not pleasant.

Couldn’t get much more incredible than that could it? One wouldn’t think. But with God life holds incredible moments when we least expect them.

A few weeks later I got a call from the marketing team at Hillcrest, the hospital I had received my burn care and the same hospital I was then doing my clinicals at, over twenty years later.

Dr. Johnson had suggested me for a marketing campaign they were launching.

Who would’ve ever thought? The girl who got excused early from community nursing hours to attend a surgery where the surgeon had a reputation of not even liking students, to getting an invitation to scrub in and practically blowing it by nearly fainting, to getting another invitation for a very personal experience on another surgery, to topping it off with a request to be a part of a television commercial and newspaper ads? You’ve got to be kidding!

Only God. Only God.

Every door He opens I know is His equipping of every good thing to accomplish His will.

In this post I hope you’ve had a little laughter and received a lot of hope.   The Lord uses everything. His ways are higher. His plans are creative. He wants you in the middle of it all!

Hebrews 13:21 (NLV) May God give you every good thing you need so you can do what He wants. May He do in us what pleases Him through Jesus Christ. May Christ have all the shining-greatness forever! Let it be so.

Explore Tulsa airs locally on: Saturdays Channel 19 at 6pm Sunday Channel 6 at Midnight Wednesdays Channel 47 at 10pm segments are also on their website  www.exploretulsa.com

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Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

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video from the Hillcrest Changing Lives Campaign

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfkDF46M5z4

Exlpore Tulsa- interviews December 5th 2015

Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGAKaCUpvDI

Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mZTganfOVM

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We're Moving!

I was so discouraged on March 28th when I sat down to write the blog post, It Is Time. However, I wrote it because I’m familiar with Samuel’s instruction in I Samuel 15:22. But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:

your burnt offerings and sacrifices

or your obedience to his voice?

Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,

and submission is better than offering the fat of rams."

His voice. Obedience to His voice.

Obedience to His voice was what prompted my decision to cut back on my hours working as a neonatal intensive care nurse. He spoke to my heart while I was recovering from my third surgery in the year. “It is time.” I knew exactly what it was time for. It was time to humble myself, put aside my avoidances of looking foolish and start doing what He’s been preparing me to do for over a decade.

Sure I’ve made my list of excuses. “Lord, I can’t write a book. I don’t have any professional training as a writer.” But the Word tells me He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith, Hebrews 12:2. He’s not depending on my ability to write it anyway, He’s calling me to be obedient. He equips those He calls.

I’ve composed several questions. “Who is going to have me come speak? How will we maintain our personal budget on a speaker’s fluctuating income?” But the Word tells me He sees even the sparrow, Matthew 10:29, how much more does He care for me? Our budget goes a lot further if we’re investing our resources how He is directing, that includes our time and our money. Obedience to His voice. He provides for those He calls.

scriptureWhen I wrote to share this vision, I thought there’d be an element to share that the Lord had laid on our hearts months before, but it was further away than when we started. Had we heard His voice? It was most definitely my biggest concern. Regardless, I wrote it, knowing the simple functions of my human mind are nothing in comparison to His plans. For this reason, I Corinthians 1:25 NLT was on my heart, “This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.”

Two days before, on March 26th, I had spent working a fulfilling day in the NICU. Upon checking my email that night I received an anticipated message from the broker who had been negotiating on our behalf for more than three months at that time, to purchase a domain the Lord had laid on our hearts.   His message was short, informing us he had heard from the owners and that they wanted $10,000 for the domain.

It seemed apparent that the Lord didn’t want us to simplify our blog website name.

Months before my dear friend, Sara who designed the Heather’s Blessed JouRNey logo a few years ago, jumped on board with our vision to have some brochures made. In this culture of technology, people still love to have information in hand. I’m one of those people. I’ll hit “print” just to be able to touch the material and put my yellow highlighter to use. So Sara put her creativity and talent to work and designed a brochure for us. When we got together to tweak it, I told her we were hoping to move the blog to a new domain. She selected the line, hit delete, and entered, “heathermeadows.com”. I quickly explained that we hadn’t got it yet. Sara, in her laid back, nonchalant personality said, “That’s okay. When you do, we’ll edit. But we have a place marker for it now.” Little did I know how the Lord would use that design to grow me.

My assurance teetered back and forth in the weeks to follow. I went from feeling confident in His calling to doubting my discernment of His voice. In that time, a reoccurring theme inundated my spirit. Trust. As the Lord spoke “rest” into my heart for 2014, see New Year, Same Life, “trust” is His message to me for 2015. Understanding that the way He grows our patience is to give us more opportunities to be patient, so is the process for us to grow in trust. And those opportunities have been presented in effective ways the last few months.

A lunch with a co-worker and friend on March 3rd informed me of a nurse turned nurse practitioner who had read one of my favorite books, The Circle Maker and how she put that book to use in her need regarding employment in her new role. It's such an encouraging story that she shared on her blog, visit http://www.wanderlove.co/drawing-circles-part-ii/ to read it.  I first read The Circle Maker a few years ago, in the spring of 2012, on a flight to Washington DC. Ironic that I first learned of Mark Batterson when flying to the city where he Pastors? No. Not when I consider the creative wonders of my Maker. That lunch on March 3rd stirred the text, which took root in my heart three years ago, and inspired me to come home and print out the rough draft brochure. I wrote Zechariah 4:6 NLT “…It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” I circled heathermeadows.com and I hung it in our bathroom on our safe room door.

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In the weeks to follow, I prayed the Word over that domain. “Lord, You don’t need a domain to accomplish Your purposes. But if this is Your will, it has to happen by Your Spirit. It is not by force. I can’t force this to happen. It is not by the sheer determination of my personality, but completely by You.”

Oh that prayer. I circled the domain. But honestly, I considered abandoning it numerous times. “Lay out a fleece before the Lord.” I’m familiar with the Biblical practice found in Judges 6. I’d resort in my mind, “if it’s not by such and such date, we’ll go ahead and print the brochures with Heather’s Blessed JouRNey.com”. Nevertheless, each date that came, it didn’t feel right. So when you don’t know what to do, you wait and you continue seeking God.

Sounds very encouraging doesn’t it? But allow me to remind you of what followed; the email on March 26th. $10,000. Wow! Now that would appear to be our answer. “Let it go.” But neither Brandon nor I could do that. We were stumped. Why had this been so heavy on our hearts, so important if it wasn’t going to happen?

Still yet, two days later, the Lord led me to write about the vision He’s laid on our hearts and to share the photo Mallory Hall Photography took for these endeavors of me by the ditch where I was injured. All I can say is God’s timing is perfect. Of all the different things I’ve written about it, it was instrumental that that post be the first one seen at the top of the blog at that time.

Discouragement still loomed. The next day Brandon stayed home from church to study for an upcoming certification, so he wasn’t with us in service that day. The boys went to their classes and Brooklyn and I were in service together. It was Palm Sunday, March 29th. Our Pastor concluded the message and invited attendees to the altars. Brooklyn and I bowed our heads and began our personal prayers. The Holy Spirit nudged me to the altar. I seriously thought, “Lord, I can’t go down to the altar to pray about a domain. You don’t even need the domain to accomplish Your purposes. You're greater.” Then I started to consider some of those in the altar, like a woman in our church who is battling bone cancer, and our Pastor who was most likely seeking the Lord for the lost who would be coming the next week for Easter. As if God couldn’t handle all of us at the same time. As if He weighs out importance of needs. As if we have to qualify to take something to the altar.

Obedience. Obedience to His voice.

I went to the altar. I kneeled down and I literally patted the altar with my two hands, as if laying a tangible item down. I said, “Lord, here it is. I give this to you. Accomplish Your will. By Your Spirit. Not by force, but by Your Spirit. If You want that domain, I believe You will provide for it, and if You don’t, please speak to my heart to know. Lord, may You be glorified. It’s all for You.”

The next day, I felt like it was a long shot, but I wrote a letter to the owner of heathermeadows.com. I shared my heart, our vision and the Heather’s Blessed JouRNey blog. How foolish it seemed. I remember writing without a pause or a hesitation. It flowed by His Spirit. But as I sent it on to our broker asking him to forward it to the owners, a sense of embarrassment was upon me. However, even though I felt like we were in way over our heads, obedience and trust was before me, and I desired to walk in both. I hit send that Monday, March 30th morning.

The following Thursday, April 2nd, I was pulling out of the Wal-Mart parking lot after getting items to make my assigned dishes for Easter lunch, when I prayed that prayer again, “Lord, I pray you speak to the owners of the domain. It has to be by Your Spirit. Not forced, but by Your Spirit.”

It was about forty-five minutes before school was to let out. I decided to wait, not wanting to drive home and then back again since I usually have my bag with me, to work on something while I wait. I parked, got out my computer, opened my email and read the following message:

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I was overcome. If anyone had seen me in that parking spot, they very well may have assumed someone had died. What an answer to prayer! I knew then that the Lord worked on our behalf.  It wasn't anything we could do on our own and the entire time God simply wanted us to reach out personally. I emailed back confirming that I was who I said I was.  From there we anticipated the next steps of making some type of agreement. Who would’ve thought?

Honesty, I was a little obsessed with checking my email the next day. Can you imagine? We were going to work something out!!! I couldn’t imagine what it would be! However, by about eleven, I knew I needed to be patient and wait. Brandon was off that Good Friday, and I really wanted us to enjoy our day without incessant email checking. We had to run a few errands before taking Gavin for his afternoon Pre-K class. There’s no better way to disengage than leaving your phone at home when you leave, so that’s what I did. We came back home while the kids were at school and watched a movie together.

Just before we left to pick them up, Brandon took our new puppy, Ruby for a little break outside. I decided it wouldn’t hurt to load my email real quick. Well, I did and I received this message (feel free to click on the center of the image to enlarge it):

You may imagine my heart sinking at those words, "So I won't sell you the domain.  I would never be able to sleep at night."  But it didn't.  When I read those words I thought, "Okay, Lord.  This is Your answer."  So of course I didn't foresee the remaining to fold out like it did!!!  I didn't make it much further.  "I will give you the domain for a promise."  That's the sentence that grabbed my gut, twisted it, and pulled me to my knees.  I barely got out the door. Brandon thought someone had died when I ran out screaming to him.  Actually, he recalls that even though he was the person who informed me of my Dad's passing, I didn't have a hysterical reaction as one would anticipate.  But this day, this Good FridayApril 3rd, I was nothing close to composed.  I'm an emotional girl, but not typically as emotional as I was that day.

Brandon kept reading.  With every word I was overcome by the presence of God.  See, I've read several Mark Batterson books.  I've read the story of the crack house turned coffee shop Batterson and his church circled in prayer, that God made Himself known through His provision for it.  But I never imagined having and Ebenezers-type moment in my life.  I was brought to my knees, overcome, overwhelmed, by His presence.  This was my burning bush (Exodus 3).  #1, I knew this was Holy Ground for the presence of God had moved right before me.  It was only "by His Spirit" that this could happen and His Spirit was nearly tangible to me that day.  #2 I was in awe of His Glory, reminding myself how mighty and powerful He is, reminding myself Who He is.  #3 I knew this was a sign from God reaffirming everything He had spoke into my heart months before, everything I wavered in when it didn't appear like I thought it would, I knew this was the Lord telling me He is the One sending me and He is with me.

It's now been over two months, and I can't refrain from crying when I revisit it.  What would we have missed if we we had hushed the Small Voice leading us to reach out personally with our story?  What would we have missed if we would have given in merely because a date we set rolled around on the calendar instead of the Spirit of God? It's more than my mind can think or conceive.  Ephesians 3:20 NLT  "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

The following Sunday, on Easter, I looked at my husband and whispered in his ear at the conclusion of service.  I needed to pass by, "I have to say 'thank you.'"  Brandon wasn't sure what I meant.  He smiled gently and let me pass through.  I made my way to the altar, knelt down and simply said, "thank you, Lord."  Oh, there were many more words to follow, and I eventually felt the strong hand of my husband grasp mine, and at that altar I laid down all of my planning and thanked Him for the creativity and love of His perfect plans.

Obedience.  Obedience to His voice.

 

Please visit us at our new online home, on our 16th Wedding Anniversary, this Friday June 19th!  Feel free to invite a friend!

We'd love to hear your Circled Prayer story too!  We invite you to comment below and share it to encourage others.

We look forward to sharing a little more of this story with you, and many more to come!

VISIT  www.heathermeadows.com  JUNE 19th 2015

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Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com

 

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