Don’t miss this incredible post about SIGNIFICANCE from podcaster and photographer, Donna Harris! What an honor to have her as our featured guest this month.
This week, learn how Jenn Baxter found peace, joy and fulfillment by simplifying her life and getting rid of 80% of her belongings. After going through a string of traumatic events over the course of just a couple years, Jenn found herself emotionally and physically depleted. But instead of spiraling downward into despair, God started her on a new journey by"stripping down" and "cleaning up" her life, which allowed her to not only survive the storms, but to rise above them.
Whether or not you watched any of the 2018 Winter Olympics, there's a message here for you. I share a lesson gained from those athletes who didn't medal. I pray this speaks to you and encourages The Uncelebrated in stirring your passion and purpose.
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.**
1Walt Disney: An American Original (p.66)
When I was a little girl I used to get behind my Grandma’s lace dining room curtains, drape them across my face, grasp some flowers between my two hands and cue off the wedding march all on my own. The drapes would slowly inch up my body, rising with each step over my face and falling off the top of my head. I was enacting a dream I had. A dream to one day wear a beautiful gown, hold some beautiful flowers and have a beautiful veil cover my face. Of course, my five year-old-self hadn’t given much consideration to a major player in this dream. The groom! This dream was all about a wedding. Not a marriage.
Just a couple short years later I was lying in the burn unit. On occasion, I expressed my assumptions. I can revisit those seven year-old-thoughts like they were rolling through my mind yesterday. Who will ever love me? No one will ever want to marry me. I will never have a husband. I will never have children.
Dreams of children are often full of fantasy. I suppose mine were no different. I hadn’t lived long enough to dream of high educational goals. I hadn’t lived long enough to envision myself in a respectable career. I simply dreamed of what I saw in my Disney movies. And while I saw what my body looked like, it was my Disney movies that influenced me to believe; believe that maybe, just maybe someone would love me, with all my scars still find beauty in me and love me.
A dream is a wish your heart makes When you're fast asleep In dreams you lose your heartaches Whatever you wish for, you keep Have faith in your dreams and someday Your rainbow will come smiling through No matter how your heart is grieving If you keep on believing The dream that you wish will come true ~ Cinderella
Brandon Meadows was my fulfillment of that dream.
Hopefully you didn’t vomit a little in your mouth at that last sentence, because while this post may be a little mushy-gushy, it does have some authentic marriage reflections I pray are encouraging to you.
I would have never ever thought in a million years that I’d meet the one “for whom my soul loves” at a Driller’s baseball game in Tulsa, Oklahoma when I was only fifteen years old. Never. In a million years!
And while we didn’t “hit it off,” the introduction paved the way for interest, leading to friendship and as the fairytales would have it, growing into love. But anyone who has been married for a hot minute can agree that not every married-moment feels like a fairytale. Ours certainly hasn’t.
06.19.1999. Our wedding date. Our marriage date. The beginning of our life together. The fruition of one dream and the vision of many more.
We were 18.
18 years old.
Barely adults. Barely old enough to vote. Underage to rent a car. Underage to have a toast of champagne.
We had nothing…..EXCEPT a dream of a life together.
Dreams are created twice. The first creation is spiritual. The second creation is physical. But they always start with what if? What if you knew you couldn’t fail- what would you do? What if time or money weren’t an object- what God-sized goal would you go after? - Mark Batterson, If
Oh, we knew we could fail. Countless people pointed to the possibility.
Oh, we knew money was an object. We had a futon for our furniture and converted a barn for our house.
But here we are 18 years later. Here we are at this stage, where we’ve lived in our marriage covenant just as long as we lived before it; celebrating half our lives married in the happiest place on earth. (Because our thirty-six year-old selves still believe in dreams, fairytales and happily ever afters.)
And here are just a few things we’ve gathered-
- The two shall become one is an on-going process.
And man! Has it ever been a process! There have been many a moments we didn’t mesh like one. But those moments have become fewer and farther in between. God created us individually with our own giftings, personalities and strengths, but He called us to be one. Years ago our small group leaders, Larry & Joan, gave us some valuable insight: When you get married you’re not sprinkled with magic oneness dust. Now that we could relate to. Wouldn’t it be nice if Tinker Bell could flitter around every marriage ceremony with a little bit of oneness dust?! But getting married in Disney won’t even guarantee that. It’s an every day, sometimes moment-by-moment decision (especially in the heated ones) to desire unity above anything else. Amazingly, even people with as different personalities as Brandon and me, eventually start thinking like one another, even finishing each other’s sentences! (That one really creeps the kids out by the way!)
- Sacrificial love didn’t look like what we thought it would.
Has anyone seen Disney’s Inside Out? Joy multiplies the manufacturing of Riley’s imaginary boyfriend. You know, the boyfriend we all imagined as teenagers? He continuously says, “I would die for Riley.” But living for someone can be way more sacrificial. Like saying, “I’m sorry.” I don’t know about you but that one is SUPER HARD after some intense disagreements. And like protecting and defending your spouse even at the expense of other relationships. Or like declining a job transfer that would take you away from your spouse, even if it may mean losing your job. Can’t say when we made that commitment we pictured the potential of having to consider the reality of possibly taking a pay cut or a position below qualifications. Thankfully, when we said, “no” for our marriage, God opened a door for an even better career change. But we would’ve never known had we not had the mindset of sacrificial love.
- We’re hinged on choice.
With sacrifice comes vulnerability. Standing before God and witnesses, vowing our life to our spouse, forsaking our self and all others as long as we both shall live puts us in a pretty vulnerable place. Forever. Brandon and I are seeing 18 years married, simply because he has chosen me and I have chosen him each day since June 19, 1999. We can love each other but keeping this union going means we each have to choose. And knowing that at any point one person may choose otherwise can be freakishly vulnerable. We’re geared to self protect, but that doesn’t jive with sacrificial love. So we go all in, abandoning ourselves and trusting God. Trusting God to help us forgive, trusting God to help us face the sin and shortcomings (because as hard as it is to face our own sin and shortcomings, it’s even more challenging to have to deal with our spouse’s). And even if a choice is made to abandon the covenant, still trusting God.
So here we are, thanking God for the yesterdays and trusting Him for our tomorrows. Not always picturesque. Not always perfect. But grateful for sharing it together.
Colossians 1:17 He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.
I pray this post spoke to you.
Did you know I’m writing a book about persevering through life’s painful places? 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.
I 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…..it 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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*a special post from a special guest* So I want to start off by introducing myself and saying what an honor it is to share my story with everyone.
My name is Sean Westley, I am a husband to my beautiful wife Jasmine Westley.
My wife is an Aerospace Engineer and I am a Project Superintendent for a construction company. We have been married for almost 5 years and I am a father to 6 amazing children. We have 3 boys and 3 girls, so I guess you could say we are the modern age Brady Bunch. Those who know us, our friends and family, refer to our family as “Team W”. “Team W” because half of our family carries the last name of Westley and the other half last name Woody. Everyone having a last name starting with “W” is just one of God’s many winks for us. Go “Team W”!
Most importantly, I am a child of God! However, this isn’t what my life has always looked like. Matter of fact, it has looked vastly different from this beautiful picture I have painted.
I would like to start from the beginning. My life started out with a lot of hurt and pain. During my formative years there were several men brought into my life that, well let’s just say, were not very nice to me. Two of the men were sexually abusive and put much fear into me. Another was very physically and mentally abusive. When I was about 14 or 15 years old, my mom married the man she is married to today. Although he was an amazing dad, damage had already been done; all I knew to do, was distance myself from him and the rest of the family. At this point I started my own self destruction.
I quit school when I was 15 and started running around with the wrong crowd. I started smoking pot and drinking. I would sneak out at night and really just do whatever I wanted to do. In no time at all I found myself being arrested. I was completely out of control. I started doing meth and whatever I could to support that habit such as stealing from my mom and dad. It went so far that I started using stolen credit cards and that is when it all came to a head. I was arrested and ended up being charged and going to the penitentiary. The State charged me with 5 counts of credit card fraud and forgery for over $250,000 which carried a sentence of 20 to life on each count.
Let that sink in….. I’m 20 years old, facing spending the rest of my life in prison.
That’s when Grace stepped in. I received 5 consecutive 5 year sentences. All said and done, I served 5 years in an Oklahoma prison. What I overcame there in that place is yet another story. Let’s just say it was a very scary time in my life.
After getting out I started working and walking the straight path, but that didn’t last long. I started running around and fell into old habits. During this period of my life I met the mother of my kids. We were married for 13 years and we had 3 children in 3 years. That didn’t keep addiction at bay and I became addicted to several drugs. My main drug of choice was crack cocaine. I remember a time when I sold everything we owned to support my habit. Looking back it was a very low time in my life. The good news is that I made the decision to walk away from that life style. Although I wanted something else, my kid’s mom wasn’t ready to do that, so I made the decision to divorce her and fight for my kids.
And that is when Grace came to me again. Can you believe that? Me. After all I have done I was given Grace once again. The same judge that sentenced me to prison is the same judge that gave me full custody of my children. Now you are thinking, “Wow, he has overcome so much”, and yes, I would say you're right, but that is when my toughest battle to date would come.
After getting custody of my kids I fell back into the drug scene. I also fell into a depression. Let me tell you, those two things do not go together well, at all, not at all. And that’s when it happened, ROCK BOTTOM. Yep, bottom of the barrel into the pit right where Satan wanted me. There I was lost and broken with all this responsibility and nowhere to turn. But, you guessed it, that’s when Grace entered in once again. Grace found me when I was on top of a 6 foot ladder with a noose around my neck. That is the moment when I heard God's voice. Right then, God spoke to me and told me to get down. He said that He had a different plan for me.
In Isaiah 28: 23 NIV it says, "Listen and hear My voice; pay attention and hear what I say." You see, right in scripture, God the Father, tells us that He has given us the ability to hear His voice.
What I have come to understand is that we are too busy and too loud in our own heads to hear. I am a testimony that God speaks to the broken and on that day, I heard the audible voice of the Good Shepherd.
I hear people say that they have never heard the audible voice of God. My question is this: how do you know? If you don’t know what His voice sounds like, how do you know that you haven’t heard it?
Well, here is my opinion on that…..we might not hear a voice out loud, vocally, where it tickles our ear drums; however, I wonder if you have ever felt strongly that God, the Creator of the Universe, spoke directly to your inner most being. Isn’t that hearing Gods voice?
Well, on that day, when that happened for me, everything changed. That is the day that I gave my life to follow Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. That day is what I call, the first day of my life. My real life, my true life, the one that God had purposed me for. That day is when I started living in God’s will. God delivered me from all my addictions and planted me firmly on the rock. On that day, I chose to be ALL in not just half in. I was all in! Every time the church doors were open my kids and I were there. Now you’re thinking “end of story,” right? Not so fast, although life got a lot better for my children and I, I had a lot of growing to do.
At this point I want to mention how extremely important our amazing church family was for my little family. By God’s leading, not out of convenience, we became family to an amazing church family at Coweta Assembly of God. In all my mess and all my failures this body of believers never once judged me, or looked down on me. They received us with open arms and have always loved on us from the very first second we walked in the doors. This was crucially important in my walk. They showed us the true definition of the love of Christ. After attending the church for about a year and going strong, my kids told me that they wanted me to be happy. “Happy?” I asked, I had never been so happy. “No dad, we want you to start dating again” they said. I told them that when it was time, God would send someone. This was when I started praying and asking God for direction, expressing that when He was ready, I was ready. We need to be very specific in our prayers and believe me I was.
I described to God what I would like to have in someone. Someone that would love my kids as her own. Someone that loved God with all her heart. Someone that would love me unconditionally and that didn’t need to depend on me to fulfill all her needs. Someone who could stand on her own two feet. Let me tell you, God loves us and he hears our prayers and it wasn’t but a short time later that I met Jasmine.
This brings me to the next time I heard God’s voice. After only dating Jasmine for a month, I was standing on my parent's porch and God spoke to me again. I heard, “Sean, you prayed and asked Me to send her to you and I sent her. What are you waiting for?”
"Are you kidding me, Lord? There is no way. I can’t do that………"
You know-- that argument we have with the Lord when He asks us to trust Him.
After losing the argument, I reached into my pocket grabbed my phone, YES MY PHONE, and I called Jasmine. When she answered the phone the call went a little like this, “Jasmine, this is going to sound really strange and I am so sorry for doing this to you on the phone, but Jasmine, I am supposed to ask you to marry me.”
Without any hesitation Jasmine said yes!
You see that doesn’t just happen BUT GOD, He had a better plan.
I have stood on the scripture Jerimiah 29:11 from the first day I got saved, because a dear friend of mine was obedient to God’s voice. He approached me and told me that God told him to give me this scripture, "'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 a future.'"
Needless to say, one month later Jasmine and I got married. Now, it hasn’t been a cake walk. We had a lot to figure out such as bringing two families together and everything that comes with that. Wow, what a ride it has been let me tell you. Just when the story should say, "happily ever after," it happened... another test.
I fell into a state of depression again. Yep, that’s right, yet another test, and it almost broke us. But, remember we serve a big God. He says that whatever He brings together let no man separate. This test lasted on for two years and it completely consumed me. I thank the Lord for a wife that prays for her husband and that will stand on God’s Word. That’s exactly what she did.
I will never forget the day that I was set free from the grip of depression. My wife came to me and said, “This family and I are not doing this anymore with you. I refuse to allow you to bring us into the pit with you. It is time for you seek God and rise up and be the MAN that God has called you to be and lead our family as God has instructed you to do.”
That’s when it happened, I started seeking God and He spoke to me saying, "This season has come to an end to never return. You are an overcomer and you are My child and I love you." 2 Timothy 1:9 NIV says this, "He has saved us and called us to a Holy life not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time."
Wow! Did you hear that?! Before the beginning of time, our Father in Heaven purposed our lives! Your life!!! Wow! I’m happy to say, God is true to His word. I have never had a season like that since.
Matter a fact, we are in a great season, and life is good. God is doing so much in our family. I went to Haiti a few years back on a mission trip and this year we as a family went to El Salvador with our church including Heather Meadows and her family. Today, my wife and I are serving our church by leading a marriage class.
I truly believe that God gives His toughest battles to His strongest soldiers. Each of the battles that we face is the exact test we need to make us stronger. It grows us so we can share it with someone to help them along in their struggles.
There is so much more to the story. I gave you the short version. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I hope it blesses you. If there are any of you that would like to contact me so I can pray with you, I welcome you contacting me. Or, if you are in a season that just seems never ending and need someone to talk to, my wife and I are always available.
Thank you for the pleasure of sharing with you.
May God bless you and keep you, Sean Westley-- a child of God! (click on Sean's name to contact him through Facebook)
A Little Thought from Heather: I met Sean sitting in my seat at church, listening, as he bravely stood at the pulpit sharing his testimony. We've attended church together with our families for over six years. I've observed Sean Westley. I've watched him worship, with abandonment, holding nothing back. To meet Sean is to know him. He is transparent, genuine and authentic and the gratitude he has for his life restored overflows in his everyday interactions. I'm honored to know this man and his beautiful family. We've all been through some mud and mire. Allowing the Lord to shine through it is a powerful testimony to our world. May you and yours be blessed and encouraged this Christmas season by Sean's story. A story illustrating The Gift we celebrate this time of year-- Jesus wrapped up His hope, His love, His grace to transform our lives when He came to this earth, born in a manger, loving us to the cross and giving us victory in His resurrection. Merry Christmas! Much love, Heather ❤️
****Three ways to help grow this website—share, comment, subscribe.**** Connect with Heather! Click Here to Subscribe Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event? Click here to contact Heather Meadows! Choose this link to see a video of Heather Meadows' story
When my friend Sara and I were revamping the website from heathersblessedjourney.com to heathermeadows.com we also reworked the tag line. Changing the name of the website was going to lose the emphasis placed on the “RN” in jouRNey, but it was still my hope to reflect my work as a nurse somewhere in the new tag line.
We met the goal with two words: “little doses.” It’s a subtle hint most may not even see. But here’s the story behind it. As a NICU nurse, the amount of medication I administer to my tiny, tiny patients is quite small. Too much is harmful, but those itty-bitty doses achieve great things in their bodies.
That is what I wanted this place to be. A place where you can pop in for a few minutes and grab a little dose of something good. My heartbeat was to inject small amounts of inspiration, joy, strength and encouragement from my life moments into yours.
This last week I received more than a “little dose” from a life moment with my daughter.
Let me give a short back-story.
There was a mother and daughter who had a beautiful relationship. But then, something changed. It started with an “H” and ended with “ormones”! It was NOT pretty! This change brought out the worst, most ugly, dark sides of both the mother and daughter. If it had been a marriage, I’m most certain divorce court would have been considered, but parent/child relationships face the good, the bad and the ugly and sometimes have to just hang on for dear life.
Yes. That’s our story. That’s Brooklyn and me. I’ll share more about the season in the book I’m writing, but for now, I want to share with you one of the scriptures I stood on in those dark moments.
Galatians 6:9 NLT So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
I’m not proclaiming there won’t be any more bumps in the road, but I am sharing that when everything hit the fan, when doors were slamming, drinks were tossing, and voices yelling, I’d stand on this scripture as if on a mountain and quote it at the top of my lungs. We got tired. We were wore out. We got discouraged. We were disheartened, disappointed and dismayed at times, but—we would not give up.
“…..a harvest of blessing IF we don’t give up.”
The day the Lord so faithfully brought our baby girl into this world, He had every intention of her life being a blessing. Not just for her parents, but for herself and for Him. We weren’t giving up on that.
And what a blessing she was to me this last week. Watching Galatians 6:9 at work in her own personal life injected an incredibly special dose of inspiration, joy, strength and encouragement into my heart.
Brooklyn’s half birthday fell on Sunday, September 4th. Labor Day on Monday pushed Brooklyn back in being able to test for her driver’s permit to Tuesday. She wanted to be the first in line when they opened. We got up on Tuesday at 5am, left the house at 6am and pulled in the parking lot at 6:33am to line up for the 7am opening. Brooklyn was seventh in line.
I stood, waiting excitedly for her to complete her test knowing that she’d get her paper signed and off to the tag agency we’d go for her permit. Well, she didn’t pass.
A bit taken aback, she declared that we aren’t the type of people who quit in the face of failure and that she wanted to try again the next day. Super proud parent moment.
So. There you have it. We got up Wednesday morning, a smidge bit earlier at 4:30am, left the house at 5:30am, and we arrived an hour before opening, putting us third in line. We checked in and the agent asked Brooklyn, “Did they tell you about the skip button?” Brooklyn said, “No.” The agent informed, “If you don’t know the answer to a question, you can hit ‘skip’. If it’s a question you need it will come back around, but it may not come back at all.” Awesome!
I took a seat over by the door on the bench. Brooklyn completed the test and walked around the corner. I whispered, “How’d it go?” She shook her head. I responded quietly and compassionately, “What?”
We’re doing a parent-taught driving course, so I knew she knew the information to pass the test. We got in the car and before I could ask a question the floodgates opened. Whoa! Emotion! Hold the phone!
In borderline hysteria she proceeded to express all the inadequacies attached to that test. I was sifting through my mental rolodex of encouraging words, when she revealed, “And when I checked back in with the lady, she asked me why I didn’t skip any of the questions but I just thought I could answer them without having to!!!”
“Wait. What?” I couldn’t believe she didn’t take the lady’s advice and skip the questions. Not one! This shifted our conversation from the topic of intellect to the issue of pride. Was she too prideful to humble herself in admitting that she possibly didn’t have all the answers to every question? Hmm.
The girl made it back before school started and I anticipated the possibility that she may just want to push it off for a few days to review. Maybe she’d want to go ahead and miss school for an afternoon testing time. Some of us just can’t think when the sun is barely up.
Nevertheless, I wasn’t surprised when I picked her up from school and she decided to go back on Thursday, for the third day in a row, before the crack of dawn to try again. Nope. I wasn’t shocked. Galatians 6:9 was at work within her. She was gonna reap a blessing cause she wasn’t gonna give up!
So up we were again, in the dark of the morning, headed in for round three reviewing the blessing of the “skip” button! In the true ironies of life, I got pulled over for doing around or about 75 in a 65. Let me tell you about grace. The Lord must have sprinkled our car with the pixie dust of His favor because that officer gave me a warning on no account of my own. Although I’m a talker, I don’t say too much when flashing lights, a uniform and handcuffs accompany the individual. What a story for Brooklyn to tell her kids one day.
Brooklyn checked in, was humble, raw and transparent with the agent and confirmed what she needed to know to approach this test. “Ma’am, this is my third time here.” (Which honestly, the lady already knew. By this point we felt maybe we should add the two Department of Public Safety agents to our Christmas card list). Brooklyn expressed her understanding of the skip button wanting to make sure it would not penalize her for the number of times she hit it. Then Brooklyn went over to take her test. At this point I headed out to the car, where she and I had agreed to meet.
I sat in the car with a small view of Brooklyn standing at the voting-booth-style computer. I prayed for her. “Lord, You created her innermost being. You stitched her together. I pray You speak Your peace, calmness and confidence from the top of her head to the sole of her feet. Let her know You have equipped her for success. Give her assurance.” And on and on I prayed.
I watched as she walked back over to the lady, had an exchange that I couldn’t see and proceeded out to the car. I got out of the car and there she did it—a thumbs up! I may have gotten overly excited. Oh, who am I kidding?! I totally got overly excited and she and I hugged and jumped like giddy girls in the parking lot of the DPS!
Brooklyn said that when she went back to the agent to get her paper signed, the lady exclaimed, for all to hear, “You passed!!!” And she only skipped two questions, not missing any! The agent was so happy for Brooklyn!
“…..a harvest of blessing IF we don’t give up.”
I know Brooklyn contemplated canning the whole idea. I know because in her despair of failing the second time she expressed those very thoughts. But we all know that’s not even a logical option. She’d have to pass it at some point in her life.
The question for us to consider though is: How many blessings have we missed out on because we gave up?
I can’t recall how many times I’ve said, “Just forget it!” or “I’m done!” or “I quit!” Sometimes our emotions make us completely illogical. Exactly the reason we don’t make important decisions when we’re super emotional. In those times, this Voice inside me says, “Heather, don’t give up. I have good things in store for you. Believe. Persevere. Press in.”
The Lord whispers that truth to all of us. Our challenges may look a little different but we’ve all got them, and there is a blessing tucked inside each and every one we overcome!
Thank you for spending some time allowing me to share this life moment with you! Please take it for the little dose of inspiration, joy, strength and encouragement it has tucked into it.
*side note- thankful my girl wanted me to share this story for whomever it could encourage.
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Persistence. Tenacity. Determination. Staying power. All are synonyms for perseverance. Perseverance defined as, “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.” When Gavin was three, in his first year of preschool, he received the character award for perseverance. The definition he learned? Never ever give up!
I wasn’t surprised at all that this last child of mine would get the perseverance award. Some may call it stubbornness. I actually have thought it numerous times. But it’s a character quality that pushes us through in life’s difficult circumstances. Perseverance. Never give up. Yes, maybe some naturally born hard-headedness, but something we all need in order to do and become what God has called us.
Oh, it can be difficult raising a child with such strong will power. However, stick around and you can see how the Lord can use it for His glory. It’s inspiring. Inspiring, as is the story of my friend Heather and her husband Sam.
I met Heather shortly after my little Gavin was born. When he was six weeks old I started one of my last two prerequisites for nursing school. I sat down beside a girl who would become one of my dearest friends. That girl from Massachusetts who called the water fountain “a bubbler,” and who could test over anatomy, but couldn’t stomach dissecting a cat.
In those beginnings, we never realized we were on the same track, both planning to attend nursing school at OU. Our friendship blossomed in those years together. We juggled schedules, laundry, clinicals, grocery shopping, studying, cooking, and only the necessary spot cleaning. Heather introduced me to her great love of Starbucks. She spoke wisdom into the simplest of moments. She shared her heart, her history and her faith. Through it all, I also got to know the love of her life, Sam.
Heather lights up when she speaks of her husband. Her admiration is as deep as her love. And it’s not hard to see why. Sam was that stubborn little boy. Although a bit difficult to raise, his strong will was and is an attribute that brings glory to God.
Sam was born and raised in Nigeria. Like Paul writes in Philippians 4:12, Sam knows what it is to be in need and what it is to have plenty. Life was good when he was young. His family did pretty well, being the only ones in the neighborhood with the latest technological gadget, a video cassette recorder. But Sam watched those items go to the wayside when his dad lost his job and sold that VCR, along with other things, in order for his children to continue on in their education.
“My mother was a school teacher, so education was always very important to us,” Sam recalls. His father eventually moved to Italy to work crops, sending money to Nigeria for the family. That hardheaded kid gained an opportunity when he moved in with his uncle to attend a better school. Despite being eight hours away from his family, he improved his English and sharpened his intellect.
The family moved to Italy to be with their father for a time, but when they went back to Nigeria, Sam stayed with a brother, working, learning Italian, and allowing God to use him in ministry. His next step was to come to Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend Rhema Bible College. But first he had to have $16,000 saved to live on while he attended school. How in the world could he get that money?
Having the goal before him, he went to work. Riding a bike one hour each way, working twelve hour shifts in a factory, five days a week, Sam saved that money. And when it came time to get his Visa to come to America, he didn’t allow a denial to deter him from the plan God placed in his heart. God granted him favor when his call to the Embassy resulted in another appointment. Regardless that he got the slim chance of meeting with the same agent, the conversation went a little differently, Sam telling him, “I just want an opportunity.”
Sam’s desire for an opportunity got him to America with a brown paper sack containing $16,032.78 cash in tote. God provided for Sam. He provided for someone to get him to a bus after his flight from Italy to Oklahoma City. And He’s provided for every need since, as Sam has been obedient to Him.
When I met Heather and Sam, they were Bible College graduates, Sam was in pharmacy school at OU and they had two beautiful children, Ryan and Olivia. It was a challenging season for them to tackle those lofty goals. I watched completely impressed. Then along came 2011. I became even more impressed. Not because of what they did, but because of their confidence in what God could do.
After Sam graduated with his doctorate in pharmacy in the spring of 2011, he and Heather welcomed their third baby, Toby. She was in her last year of nursing school. Meanwhile, Sam studied for boards while awaiting that needed promotion from intern to pharmacist. Sam did not pass. He rescheduled, took the test again. Unfortunately, he did not pass the second time. Because of the results, he not only missed his promotion, but he was let go.
I’m not merely painting a picture of discouragement. I’m hoping you see where the opportunity lies for fear to creep in. Let’s talk about the house payment, the car payment, the utilities, or the school loans. This family was under pressure.
In their faith, they anointed their lawn, their house, and their vehicles, laying claim in Jesus name.
Not wanting to keep doing the same thing expecting different results, Sam desired to take a prep course. But where would the money come from? While some of us may question and ask, Sam believed. And God provided. One of his instructors from OU paid for him to take the course!
Third time to test, Sam passed!!!!
There is so much more to Sam and Heather Falana than a blog post could contain. But what I hope you receive from these words here today is NEVER EVER GIVE UP!
This family is an illustration of perseverance.
They motivate me to press on in those times of unanswered questions. They inspire me to believe beyond what I can see.
I pray their real life journey helps you to redefine those challenges on your journey as opportunities for God to move.
“Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
James 1:2-4 NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
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