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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Slab Cabin Sledding

I am finally settled in to a routine here in Pennsylvania! Back at work at Pure Freedom, I am beginning some amazing projects. In February and April I will be on tour with Secret Keeper Girl again! Also, I'm teaching a high school Bible class at our sister ministry, Grace Prep. Daily I am in awe of what God is doing in my life and the random ways in which He is bringing me joy. 

For the past three weeks, I have participated in a ministry-wide media fast. Did you know that the average person spends 15.5 hours each month on Facebook? What would happen if we spent those 15 hours with the Lord? A lot, I tell you! I have unplugged from Facebook and honestly haven’t missed it a bit. Before, it was the first thing I’d check in the morning and the last thing I would do before I went to bed. Now, that time has been reclaimed for Jesus. If your spiritual life is at a standstill, I dare you to unplug. At least delete the app from your phone… watch what happens!

Here in State College, it is incredibly cold. I was excited when it was 25 the other day if that tells you anything! I don’t recall seeing the ground since I got here one month ago; all this white stuff...

When the wind chill is not in the negatives, it does make for great sledding weather! My host dad, sisters and I bundled up and headed to Slab Cabin Run for sledding lessons yesterday afternoon. The girls took time to carefully explain to this desert rat how it’s done. 

The most important rule of sledding was: Stop. You see, the hills at Slab Cabin roll down into a creek. If you miss the important step of STOP, you will find yourself in the icy water. (We watched it happen!)

Because of this little fact, the girls could only go down the big hill if Dad or I went with them. As strong and fiery as one might think my five-year-old, blonde, blue-eyed sister is, she is not strong enough to stop the speeding sled before it careens into the water. This is where I, the super-experienced sledder come in.

If I am on the back of the sled, I am capable of throwing my heels into the snow to slow us down – I was also incredibly determined to not fly into the creek!  If worse came to worse and I couldn’t slow us down, I would have lovingly thrown my sister off  before we came to the water’s edge!

Truthfully, the first time Kierstin and I headed down Big Hill, I was slightly nervous! Our green saucer continued to pick up speed… I  questioned my ability to keep us both safe. But, I threw down my heels and wrapped my arms around her. We slid to a stop comfortably ten feet away from the edge of the water. The laughter of my little sister blessed my racing heart.

She was not afraid. She was completely and totally confident in my ability to protect her. To Kierstin, that was the “best ride EVER!” After she could catch her breath through the belly laughter, she looked at me and yelled, “AGAIN!!” And we marched back up the hill. (I realize I make this sound like a terrifying place to sled but it is completely normal to people here – just not to a girl who doesn’t know what a creek or snow is!)

My life has been much like Slab Cabin Run lately. Has your own life seemed like a sledding run too? Steep, cold, slippery, dangerous, moguls… Like Kierstin, going down the hill alone is an option. Just not a great one.

How much safer are we when we allow the Lord to climb into the sled with us?  We know that His plans are to give us a future and a hope – not to harm us. (Jeremiah 29:11)  He is far more capable than we are of steering the sled past obstacles, holding on to the bottom when we fly over a jump, and slowing us down when we feel like we are careening out of control toward an icy lake.
God desires us to have that child-like faith. To get on and brace for the ride of our lives. Not counting the cost, not concerned with the what-ifs. Rather, belly laughing as snow sprays our faces – playfully rolling in the snow at the bottom – ready to yell, "AGAIN!"

On the way back to the car, Alayna stumbled upon what appeared to be a down telephone pole. Snow-covered, one could barely see the nail sticking from it. Immediately my seven-year-old sister’s memory was jogged to recall Jesus – with the nails – on the cross.

He took the nails for you and for me because he wants to go sledding with us. If you find yourself discouraged, fearful, tired, weak… I might encourage you to turn around. Is He sitting there? Did you invite Him into the sled? 

Your ride will be so much more fun if you let the Protector and Giver of Life come with you! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Don't Draw on the Fireplace

I was Nanny this weekend as my host parents were out of town. The kids and I sat down for dinner. The girls ages 5 and 7 love hearing stories about when I was their age. “Hethy, tell us about when you got in trouble…” I proceeded to tell them the following story:

Heather. Age 5. A strong-willed visionary. One day, I decided that our beautiful, stone fireplace needed to be zest up a bit. I took my crayons and added my artwork to the mantle. I thought it looked amazing – however, my mother did not share the same thought. She took one look at my masterpiece and I knew I had royally made a mistake. Firmly corrected, I was given a toothbrush to scrub my Crayola off the fireplace. I cried and scrubbed for what seemed like an eternity.

I asked the girls what would happen to them if they ever drew on the wall. They responded with similar disciplinary actions; mom unhappy, spanking, time out, cleaning… we all drew the conclusion that it would not be a good idea to try. Ever.

 So, notice my surprise when I groggily stumbled into the bathroom (which I share with them) the next morning and artwork now decorated the side of the white cabinet…. I asked the girls if they knew anything about the “mystery artist.” Both blamed it on the 11-month-old baby.

I may not be a mom yet, but I do have some intuition, knowing the baby cannot even hold the mini crayons that were found at the scene of the crime. I asked the girls a second time if anyone would like to confess as it would be much better than telling a lie.

My older sister smugly reported that she had nothing to do with it. I looked at Little Bit… her eyes as big as saucers and filling with tears.  “Kier, do you want to tell me something?” She nodding and took my hand into the bathroom where she confessed. I asked her why she did it. “Well, it sounded like a fun idea.” “Kiki, we talked about the consequences when I told the story last night…” “I knowwww,” she whined; now starting to cry.

So yes, she was given a toothbrush and spend the next half-hour scrubbing the bathroom. She decided it wasn’t such a good idea after all. My question though is this: Why do we still do it?

In our lives, there are so many times when we watch a family member or friend go through a rough time. Maybe they make a bad choice, maybe they think the grass is greener on the other side, maybe they fall in with bad friends… in the end they admit it was a mistake – wrong thinking. Yet, we still feel the need to try it for ourselves. Why do we not learn from the experiences of others?

 1 Corinthians 10:13 says,The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

So that you can endure. Other translations say: so that you can stand up under it. You can stand up under your situation! Praise God for that! I do not know what you are struggling with. You may be trying taste what the world has to offer; a life of partying and alcohol and meaningless relationships. You may be struggling with depression and find that rejoicing in the Lord is a task too lofty for your current emotional state. You may think the grass looks greener at a different job or with a different mate…

I don’t believe in coincidences; I believe those are the instances in which God has chosen to remain anonymous. I bet the Lord has placed someone in your life who has “been there – done that.”  Am I right? No one is in your life just because. Recall that your struggles “are no different from what others experience.”

That is in scripture for a reason. Don’t play the martyr – you aren’t the only one going through your situation and you’re certainly not alone. If you feel that way, I venture to say your pride may have something to do with that. The church was designed with the purpose of helping shoulder one another’s burdens; to encourage one another; to lift each other up. Find strength from that person who has already scribbled on the fireplace and paid the price for it. Seek out those friendships that will lift you up and push you through whatever challenging season you are in. Do you really think that if you try it the outcome will be any different?

Kierstin wanted to try it too; it sounded like a fun idea to her. I promise if you asked her while she was scrubbing the bathroom cabinets, she would tell you that it wasn’t worth it. The poor thing scrubbed while tears flowed down her pink cheeks – it was hard not to laugh at the irony of the situation. <Insert big, spiritual pause for reflection here.>The outcome was the same as mine… I guess now, she has a story to tell her daughter when she is five. Hopefully she will learn rather than having to figure it out the hard way!

Don’t bother drawing on the fireplace… it’s not worth your while. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Whatever" to a New Year!

What a year 2012 was… quite honestly, I am thankful that it is over!

For the many of you praying, I did end the year finally receiving closure. I got some answers as well as a sincere apology and was able to extend forgiveness. You know that I loved him with every ounce of my being, so naturally, seeing him was like breaking my heart all over again. But, I am aware God has placed me on a new path. I was blessed to have the opportunity to face the situation and move on – it was an answer to ten months of my own fervent prayers! I appreciate your prayers as I continue to heal. 

I began 2012 as a bride; dream wedding and Mexican Riveria honeymoon. We had our dream house in central Texas and I was blessed with the most ideal teaching job ever. I couldn’t wait for my adventure to begin with the love of my life.

If you have been reading this for any period of time, you know that that’s not how the story went. Instead, I am single – enjoying a love relationship with my Savior like I have never experienced. I live in central Pennsylvania with a second set of parents, three small children and a plant. I have my true dream job – teaching was something I did because a boy told me it would be a good choice. Ministering to girls about the truths of the Lord is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done - and what I have claimed I wanted to do since I was in junior high. I wouldn’t have imagined my story would take such a climactic turn! I just like to keep things interesting.

Highlights of 2012 include: Finishing my student teaching. Graduating Summa Cum Laude from Lubbock Christian University and receiving the Dean’s Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Education. Skydiving. Top 10 at Miss New Mexico. Moving to PA. White water rafting. Speaking at the True Woman Conference.


While this has been the most challenging and painful year of my life, I have learned so much – rather than write the longest blog in the world, I decided to present them as Heather’s life Proverbs:

Cinderella would have never become a Princess if she went back for her slipper.

Sometimes no matter how many times you kiss it, a frog is a frog.

One’s true friends are revealed through tragedy and trials.

When you truly fight for someone, surrender is not an option.

You do not fall out of love; either you never did or you always will.

When you walk in faith with God, there is no such thing as a comfort zone.

It is a gigantic waste of time to have an enemy that's not an enemy of God.

Crying is not a sign of weakness; quite the contrary. 

The rear-view mirror is smaller for a reason.

There is nothing meaner than a coward.

Great faith warrants great blessings.

A few Thank You’s:

Mom, Dad, Ky and Dev – I have an amazing family; words hardly do justice to how I feel about you all. Thank you for keeping my arms up when I was too tired to fight anymore. 

Mama, thank you for making me go to work; for keeping me going and letting me cry in your arms when I was couldn't keep it in anymore. You have handled my mood swings and break downs and have been amazingly patient and understanding.

Daddy, thank you for my ring and the beautiful letter. I will cherish them both forever. Thank you for keeping your cool, calm and collected strength through this year; for just getting a trash bag; for holding me when I finally got the phone call. There is no need for any “rebound boy” when I have your arms to cuddle in and your constant affirmation.

Ky, thank you for not letting me go out the door that morning. I pray your confidence and faith in love continues to be renewed. I am so sorry this has hurt you so badly as well. I love you. Dev, thank you for being there; for holding me that cold February night and for keeping the peace in our home those last two months.

Gerry and Rebecca, thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty; for the roses from my heavenly Bridegroom and the hours of prayer you have poured over me. You both have blessed me beyond belief.

The Ohlson Family – Thank you for adopting me as one of your own. I couldn’t have dreamed or imagined a more perfect fit or a place 2,000 miles away that feels more like home. Ry and Mel, you are able to be my friends but also parents when necessary. Alayna, Kierstin, and Judah… I love you three with all of my heart and pray we will always be close.

Other PA family – Bob & Dannah, Eileen & Russ, Kim, Blake, Grace Prep Staff… Thank you all for making this transition so much smoother than I could have ever imagined. You all have blessed me beyond belief with opportunities and prayers. Wow. May God return to you all the blessed favors you have bestowed upon me.

Shelly Coll – I wish you were here to see this, but I know your front row seat from Heaven is so much better. Thank you for being obedient and leading a study though And The Bride Wore White when I was a freshman in high school. I made it! You saved my life by helping me commit to a lifestyle of purity. I would have never known who Dannah Gresh was if it were not for you – now she is my boss. Thank you for pouring into my life and for the one and only “come to Jesus” meeting I needed.

Haley – I started the year with six bridesmaids…we know how that sentence ends! For 20 years you have never left my side. You have pulled me through some dark nights and long days. Thank you for staying with me, cooking me dinner, bringing me cookie dough and watching countless hours of I Love Lucy. Thank you for teaching me to pray for my future husband rather than dwell on the past. You are my best friend and I couldn’t dream of my life without you. I love you so much dear sister.

JW – You have been a faithful friend for 10 years – we have walked some nasty roads with one another. Thank you for believing in me and teaching me not to build my walls so high that I block others out. You keep reminding me what it is to be a feather. I don’t know where this life will take the two of us but I promise to do what I said. I love you dearly.

Megan and Simone – I am so sorry that you both have experienced the same pain, but I am thankful that you are there to help me walk this journey out with faith. God heals and restores what the enemy took away. He is saving us for something so much better!

My support system – while I have many of you, I would like to especially thank the Bates, Brock’s, Cassels, Hanagan’s, Huddle’s, Langford’s, Loverin’s, Moody’s, Teen CBS Crew… You all have gone above and beyond to extend love, encouragement, prayers, letters, and so much more. I am humbled and blessed to have people like you in my life.

Here is to a new year and a fresh start. My motto is: WHATEVER!

Not in a flippant or complacent kind of way, but in an “Ok, God – let’s do this” kind of way. I have learned that things go so much smoother if you don’t argue with Him and just cooperate. So, whatever you ask me to do, whatever opportunities you present me, wherever you ask me to go… I’m your girl.

Love you all! Happy New Year!