When the word "critical" is used it can't be a good thing. It can be downright disastrous. Join me for this message on how to handle a critical spirit-- in ourselves and in others.
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.
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.
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A few weeks ago we were buzzing around the kitchen making lunches, unloading the dishwasher and getting breakfast. For some reason or another, completely off topic from the current task, Jaron made a comment about how destitute our country would be if a particular presidential candidate was voted into office. At times I really wonder what triggers their thoughts. Like all Americans, we have had many discussions regarding the election. Brooklyn will be able to vote in the next presidential election so this one felt more relevant to her. Nevertheless, I didn’t think any of our discussions had created a mindset of gloom and doom. I don’t know. Maybe because we weren’t super passionate about our options. There could have been some subliminal tones of negativity.
I explained to Jaron that out of the presidential elections I’ve been able to vote in, not every person I voted for won the election. While the people on the losing end feel they’re left with a result that isn’t what is best, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of life-as-we-know-it. Our hope is not in the candidate. Our hope is in the Lord. I wrapped it up with this, “Jaron, either way this election goes, I know one thing to be true. The Lord will take care of His people.”
Several months ago in my prayers for our country, I began praying one scripture. Psalm 7:9 “Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure— You, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts.” And this prayer was not dependent on whether one candidate won or another. This prayer is the cry of my heart for our country. Only the Lord knows hearts and minds, and I interceded for Him to help me see beyond the person and see who He could use. On the day after Election Day, I pray no matter what side we were on, we can continue to seek the Lord to work through our leaders.
Most of my children voted yesterday, not at a polling station but in their classrooms. And while they don’t understand the ins-and-outs of the big picture, they are learning the importance of the process. Their votes weren’t counted yesterday but they cast them nevertheless. They practiced what it is to exercise a right, a privilege and a responsibility granted to them by the sacrifices of so many before them. Again, regardless of the outcome, your vote honored our veterans.
Before we left for school this morning we had prayer for our country. This isn’t a sporting event with a winning and losing team. This is the UNITED States of America, so we interceded for unity. I think of it similar to marriage. You know when you have a fight with your spouse? (If you’ve ever fought with your spouse. I realize some of us may have more experience than others). But even if you get your point across, it doesn’t feel like you’ve won anything, because fighting brings dissension. And somewhere in the moment, we have to desire unity over being right.
My friend Jayne Patton said it so well in her Facebook post this morning,
I'm sorry - gloating just looks terrible on believers. If you truly believe God answered your prayers, then with all humility - be grateful. Don't be tempted to take credit for something you profess God did. Maintain a spirit of repentance. Look for opportunities to share the gospel. Love well and seek to build unity. And please, PLEASE continue to pray for our Nation!! The battle isn't over until Jesus comes...#sameconversationIhadwithmykids #startsinthehome
Lastly, I have to share what another friend posted, “Wouldn't it be nice if we were as vocal about our belief in Christ as we were about which candidate we wanted to win? Life is short. If you are a believer you know who wins in the end. Stop pouting and go tell your loved ones what they mean to you, hug your friends, forgive those who've hurt you, share your faith, and make a difference in the life of another. Those are the things that matter in eternity.”
That is some good stuff.
If you won- congratulations. Pray for your leaders.
If you lost- I’m sorry. Pray for your leaders.
Let’s aim for eternity and meet on the other side. God has something way better in store! In the meantime, if things get too uncomfortable maybe we should meet up in Disney. I did see a shirt that said, “friends who Disney together, stay together.”
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*please note: this post was written to speak life, love and healing. The many posts I've read have grieved my heart to see people I care about offended and hurt. Please, please let us understand how detrimental our comments can be in the lives of others and weigh them before the Lord. God does not want His people in this pain. Both my parents started experiencing a decline in vision around their mid-thirties. Understandably, I anticipated the likelihood of inheriting a genetic flaw to my sight around the same age. Accepting what I felt was an inevitable need, I made an appointment for an assessment.
My mental approach was pitiful. And vain. Very, very vain. Contacts are just not an option. I can take blood, puss, and even respiratory secretions over coming in contact with an eyeball any day. The thought of having to touch my own eyeball to insert a visual aid absolutely nauseated me. Then the vanity side is that, I do not look good in glasses. It seems to draw attention to my most prominent facial feature--- my nose. Definitely don’t need to add definition to that part of my face! So no, I wasn’t excited for the new world of possibilities—different colored eyes with contacts or perhaps a studious look with glasses. No. Not excited at all.
You can imagine my delight when the optometrist finished his exam and said, “Heather, if all my patients were like you, I’d be out of a job! You have textbook vision.” Textbook vision!!! That’s what he said! No contacts. No glasses. Just take the world into view with my very own God-given ability to see!
But honestly, there’s so much more I feel I can’t see than what I can.
I see trees of green, red roses too I see them bloom for me and you And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky Are also on the faces of people going by I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do They're really saying I love you.
I hear babies crying, I watch them grow They'll learn much more than I'll never know And I think to myself what a wonderful world Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world
Louis Armstrong sang of a world he wanted to see. The culture at the time was anything but beautiful. It’s a world we’re still longing to see today. But the recent event in my home state and the social media responses make it difficult to see.
I can’t see how in today’s world we can watch a video of someone die and not be completely broken by the sight. How do these images come across our feed and not cause us to lay awake at night? Our ability to see with our eyes is blinding our hearts, numbing our ability to feel.
I can’t see why opinion trumps compassion. We have limited knowledge, limited insight but we draw our conclusions with no regard for whomever it may hurt.
I can’t see why we allow the spiritual attack of division.
I can’t see where humanity is often absent in the human race. Shouldn’t they be synonymous?
Merriam-Webster defines humanity as “the quality or state of being human; the quality or state of being kind to other people or to animals; all people.”
Vocabulary.com provides this definition: “Humanity is the human race, which includes everyone on Earth. It’s also a word for the qualities that make us human, such as the ability to love and have compassion, be creative, and not be a robot or alien.” (bolding added).
I wish there were some contacts or glasses to provide a lens by which to see the world as Mr. Armstrong sang. If there were, would we use it?
I’m convinced the way to a beautiful world is found in one simple line, “I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do. They're really saying I love you.”
It comes down to you and me. It comes down to our everyday interactions, visiting with each other at the grocery store, praying with each other at church, and cheering with one another at the games.
The mainstream media nor social-media will preserve humanity in the hearts of humans. That comes down to you and me individually; speaking life, shaking a hand, giving a hug and showing love.
“She saw the world, not always as it was, but as it could be…” -Cinderella
Isaiah 26:3 NLT You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!
#peaceday #peaceeveryday #internationaldayofpeace
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“Ma’am, I’m sorry. Your driver’s license is faded and we can’t verify the security so we’ll have to screen you as if you didn’t have any identification.” “Oh, no problem. I totally understand.” Well, yeah, that’s what I said on the outside, and I really did totally understand, but it didn’t stop me from searching for any ID that may serve as verification. You won’t be surprised to hear that while TSA may entertain your efforts when you pull out your Sam’s Wholesale Club Membership card, it won’t meet the need for identity verification.
In my mind I was thinking, “Unbelievable. I knew I should’ve brought my passport.” All the while proceeding up to the body scan.
“Ma’am, are you wearing a belt or do you have anything in your pockets? “
“Okay, well we are going to have to pat you down…..” and on and on went the description of how intimate the TSA agent and I would be there in the middle of everyone shuffling out of the security check point. They are so polite and asked if I’d like a private screening room. I declined. It’d just take more time.
Again, those nonchalant words, “no problem.” Honestly, it really wasn’t. I had just experienced a thorough pat down last month when we went to El Salvador. What’s one more? Can’t say I’d like to put myself on a monthly sign-up, but I understood and appreciate the need for security.
The agent proceeds with her assessment, honing in on my right leg. As she pats and then rubs and then pats and then rubs she pauses and looks at me asking, “What is this?”
“Are you feeling the edge of my pocket?” I’m internally reasoning that these are skinny jeans and you can pretty much outline every crease and crevice. Somewhat agitated, or maybe it was simply confused, she pats and rubs again firmly restating the concerned location, “No, right here.”
“Oh, you are feeling my scar tissue. I am a burn survivor and my scars are not smooth like skin.” No big deal right?
“Ma’am, I am so sorry, but I have to take you to a private screening room.”
Once more, my reply, “No problem.”
We trudged on to the private screening room. And you know what happened. I was depantsed! I’m not sure that’s even a word. Probably not since it’s underlined red on my screen, but it’s something my kids say when Gavin tries to be funny and unexpectedly jerks Caden’s pants down to his ankles. (He gets in trouble for that by the way. Gracious that boy is ornery!)
While this may or may not be an occurrence in The Meadows’ Home on any given day, I certainly never fathomed the possibility of it happening to me at the airport! And on a time I was already bummed about traveling by myself! The true irony is found in what I said for the week preceding my trip, “I just have to put my big girl britches on and go,” never imagining for a second those big girl britches would be pulled down the minute I checked in!
So maybe it kind of was a big deal. But I really do understand the caution and I appreciate it.
Today, shuffling back through the security line, I again had the whole body scan. The agent asks, “Ma’am, do you have on a belt or anything in your pockets?” I replied, “No.” She explained the need for the pat down again offering a private screening room. I told her I have metal in my body from an old burn injury and also, that when she pats me down she’d feel scar tissue. She continued, took a wipe-down sample of my hands and sent me on the way after that little machine popped up the results.
Needless to say, it’s been a very humbling airport experience, this trip.
But humility seemed to be the overall theme while attending my first writer’s and speaker’s conference here.
See, I stepped way out of my comfort zone and pitched my book idea to a publisher and agent while I was here. It’s a whole new world to me of One Sheets and Book Proposals, but it’s what the Lord has nudged me to step into. Why, oh why?
I’m so happy being wife and mom. I’m so happy being a NICU nurse. I’m so happy having the opportunities to speak for special events. And I’m so happy, tucked away with you here in my tiny, tiny spot in the massive blogging world.
But the Lord is asking me to humble myself and ask you to help me (which by the way doesn’t feel nearly as humiliating as having someone pull my pants down—it’s all perspective, right?).
You see, what is between my message of hope and healing being published, and getting into the hands and hearts of people who need it, is a number. The number publisher’s and agent’s want to see is at least 10,000 people who are already a part of my audience, who follow my blog and interact with me through it.
My words to the publisher, “I’ll never do that.” She said, “Don’t say that. You never know. You can get your numbers up and come see me next year.” I replied, “That’s just not where my heart is.” It’s not about a number to me. It’s about personal connection with people. It seems oversimplified and maybe impersonal merely trying to reach a number, but numbers are people and my heart is for people—whether it’s at the post office, folding endless loads of laundry, working as a nurse or speaking at a church.
Friends, I’m not sure exactly what this whole writing/speaking journey will look like. I just know I’m suppose to be right where God wants me to be, taking my little steps of obedience as He leads.
Today, I got to keep my pants on (praise the Lord!) but I’m humbling myself and asking you to help me build these numbers. It feels like a stretch but I remember another 10,000 number I felt was completely unattainable—and it was – in human standards. The website.
HeatherMeadows.com had a $10,000 price tag on it just a little over a year ago, and the Lord moved on the hearts of a generous, precious couple and they gave it to us for free! And became special friends of ours! Bonus! I’m thinking the Lord wants me to get something about this 10,000 number.
Thank you to those whom have given me the opportunity to come and speak for your schools, special events and churches. Your investment into me completely provided for me to come for this conference and gain development as a speaker and writer! I couldn’t have been here if it weren't for you and I can’t go on without you!
I appreciate you so much!!!!
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 NIV ~ Thank you, Lord for new things and for making a way!
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Here are some fabulous sites to check out of some fabulous women I met at She Speaks. I feel deeply privileged to have learned and grown alongside them these last few days.
Jacob's Hope by Dr. Laura Sparks
We don’t have much of a schedule during the summertime. And we aren’t too concerned with the forecast. Since it’s most likely gonna be hot our wardrobe doesn’t venture too far from our swim attire. With that being said, we’ve been delayed in hearing of recent events. It wasn’t until surfing social media that I realized of the events in Dallas. Honestly, as we were enjoying our British family’s visit, I wasn’t even aware of the situations in Louisiana and Minnesota.
To see my friends post concerns like “will my children be safe growing up in this country,” and others pointing to the realities of officers being shot yet we still share our plans of going to the lake or out to dinner, made me reconsider my intentions for this post.
When 9/11 happened I laid in bed and cried, more accurately bawled. My heart was so grieved. Brandon tried to understand my emotion. “Babe. I understand this was horrific, but you didn’t know any of those people.” I shared with him, “But I know loss. I know tragedy. And I’m devastated that so many people are hurting and will hurt for their rest of their lives from this evil.”
We protect our hearts when we resist the pain around us. Who wants to let the loss soak in? Who wants to attempt processing the senseless? Who wants to confront the reality of evil? Who wants to sign up for walking the long steps to healing if you’re not the one who was wounded? The truth is, if it doesn’t affect us directly, we rather avoid it entirely.
This post was intended to be the last one in my reflections of El Salvador. I’ve hesitated writing it, but the message it was to contain, while in light of current conditions, is still an appropriate one.
In our time there, we heard testimonies, over and over again, of people who had withstood unimaginable hardship. The message God spoke to my heart through each of them was His faithfulness. I’ve had the opportunity to hear many stories and I’ve had the opportunity to share my own many times, and it is the thread of His faithfulness that is sewn through them all. In El Salvador, in the United States, in the churches, in the families, and in our own personal lives, God is faithful. He will provide.
Another word that came to mind in reflecting on the week was “service”. From the moment we rose to the time we went to sleep our focus was on serving others. And it was our teenagers who illustrated this so beautifully.
So many times in our home Brandon and I have to point out when our children are being driven by selfishness. You know, when they keep score or demand justice. After correction and redirection we typically hear something along the lines, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” Of course they didn’t. We understand that they are developmentally, appropriately selfish. There’s nothing wrong with them. It’s just where they’re at developmentally. We are born only concerned about our own needs. How many babies care that they’re waking you up in the middle of the night or perhaps never let you go to sleep to begin with? This drive to survive sets the path for looking out for number one. As we grow and mature we realize it is so much more fulfilling to live a life beyond ourselves, to love and serve others. We’ve had a lot of help gaining that understanding and our kids need the same.
But this wasn't an issue in El Salvador. Nineteen teenagers went on our trip and I never one time heard complaining! Nor any arguing! These young people had the mindset of Christ- to serve others. It was beautiful and something to be encouraged by for this next generation.
Finally, I saw unity. The missionary overseeing our construction team was under the impression that our construction group was a team who worked together at home. The group consisting of eight men, two women and four teenagers demonstrated such unity that their work was smooth and efficient. The team accomplished far more than what was projected. It’s amazing what God can accomplish when His people are united!
By the end of the week, I had it in my heart to ask each member on our team three words they would use to describe their week. The only condition was they couldn’t use the words awesome, amazing or incredible. We all agreed those were given.
When we came home I sent the words to my precious friend, Sara, who is the talent behind all the graphic design work for our website and print material. She took the words and placed them in the shape of the country of El Salvador.
I invite you to read over them.
And as we leave today, I ask you join me in praying for our country. I pray our desire for unity withstands any evil attack of division. I pray we can be strong enough to allow the pain of others to enter our hearts and fuel our passion for healing. I pray we trust the Lord for His faithful Hand. I pray we see beyond headlines and see people, to see the soul God created and loves. I pray for His guidance, direction, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and insight to flood the hearts and minds of our leaders and the citizens of this great nation.
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 NIV
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