I Will Have Enough
Comfort To Comfort

I imagine that akin to a car running on a tank of gas, we have a comfort-tank we run on.  Mine has never been so close to running on fumes than when I became a mom.  It wasn’t that long ago that I was jockeying between a newborn who needed comfort for feedings and sleep, and a toddler who needed comfort for boo-boo’s and thunderstorms. Back then, I’d tap into that comfort-tank twenty times a day—a discouraging cycle because of the looming “what if I don’t have any left for the next day?” Until I stumbled across (yet another) unbreakable promise from God! In Isaiah 66:13, God promises, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”   These days I’m not comforting babies, I comforting my teenage boys, addicts, a family member with cancer and the mentally ill. And true to His promise, God is keeping that tank full. But indulge me, let’s return to the car analogy for an important note. If I am the car, the gas-tank is my comfort-tank…the driver is God. If God is not the driver driving my life, my home, my heart, then I CAN run out of comfort. I can become a stalled out car on the side of the road unable to comfort others, my kids, even myself.  Whether we need to comfort our kids, spouses, friends, patients, whoever… if God’s the driver, we will not run out of comfort for others, because God will not run out of comfort for us.  Whether we have that “one” who requires gallons of comfort, or that group who require a pint each, God promises to keep filling the tank.  I had a long day today, as I write this, I feel depleted.  But I will go to sleep tonight knowing God works through the night—filling our tanks with comfort because He knows tomorrow He will need us to give some more. He’s the great Comforter, Provider…and Driver.

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Things I Know Now
I Wish I Hadn’t Learned the Hard Way

Recently I posted: It took the first half of my life to figure out who I am. Now I’ll spend the rest of my life being her. But what if we put this mantra under a microscope?  Under the scope, it’d reveal tiny-detailed mysteries that make up this mantra. Molecules of things I know now, I wish I hadn’t learned the hard way. There’s no going back, so I hope to use these to help another. Without further ado…
  1. I don’t understand God, but I trust God.
    Hebrews 10:23 says, “for God can be trusted,” and Isaiah 55:8 says, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts.”  I can’t figure out God for the life of me, Lit. & Fig.!  Yet that’s never stopped me from trusting Him. I’ve trusted Him since I was 4. And decades have shown me God is trustworthy. I don’t typically stick with people I can’t trust. But I’ve stuck with God for a longgggg time…more importantly, He has stuck with me!
  2. Earth is my timeshare, Heaven is my home.
    2 Corinthians 5:1 says, “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God…”  Over the years, this has helped me understand intermittent suicidal thoughts.  God put me in my “tent,” on my birthdate so He’ll take me out of my “tent” on my deathdate. In between those dates, I do my best in this temporary timeshare…and I can because I know it’s not forever!
  3. My mind can endure a thousand storms if God is the anchor of my soul.
    Jonah 2 says, “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me…But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!”  If you are anchored to the life-saver-Savior, you WILL be in storms but you can be rescued. For me, those storms are mental. But that’s not the point. The point is, you can endure any storm if Jesus is your captain.  If you don’t know for sure, ask Him.
  4. I’d rather be in a 1000 pieces at His feet, than a 1000 miles from His presence.
    Psalm 34 says, “The Lord is *NEAR* to the brokenhearted.”  I’ve had my heart broken in a thousand pieces. So have you. But God was…wait, get this…IN EVERY PIECE OF IT. When you invite Jesus into your life, He moves into your heart. So when it gets broke, He’s in every piece of it as He puts it back together.  It’s a slow and arduous process, but the Master Surgeon wants every piece to be precisely back in place, because He dwells there. You can’t get nearer than that. Thank you, Jesus.
I hope you’re a little encouraged from these. I have a few more so this may be a part-1 to a part-2 in the near future. Lord be with you.

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Am I Too Concerned With Something?

“I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,” ~David, the 131st Psalm.  In the bible, King David ticked and tocked like the rest of us as we navigate this thing called life. But one of his unique get-it-factors is David didn’t get hung up on matters “too great” for him. I don’t know what the cultural trends and stigmas were for David’s generation, but one in ours is the pressure to be overstimulated, over-processed and overly-concerned with matters. We take matters into our own hands through smartphones, addictions, vices and social media, and the matter becomes an insatiable, unavoidable concern. Maybe even an obsession. As I marinated on this verse like a chicken in Mojo sauce, it begged the question: to what expense am I willing to be overly-concerned? The cost of my sanity? health? relationships? time? purpose? I also marinated on this verse, in light of my faith. Yes, it’s true we can “move mountains” when we have faith. But I have been guilty of great faith, and little trust. No sooner do I leave the matter at the proverbial Cross by faith, then I pick it back up again and carry it away because I trust me better with it. Yikes. We are Hu-mans, not Super–mans. When our concerns go beyond our humanness, it is fruitless to be in control. It is God’s job to concern himself with matters within our humanness and beyond our humanness. It is because of God, that my matters can be in my natural world but in His supernatural sphere! That’s why He’s God and I’m not! Is there something you and I are too concerned with? First step is admission! Next step is to begin to hand it over to the Hands that can handle it.

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Like a Palm 🌴

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree” (Psalm 92:12) I took this pic today because I remembered this verse. To me, palm trees + Psalm 92:12 preach an amazing message: 1) this verse says the “righteous” flourish. Not the self-declared perfect, not the perfect-wannabes, not the judgers of others’ imperfections. But the righteous. What’s “righteous” mean? When I looked it up, it said: morally right. But how do I define “morally-right?” I can’t define it by people because no person is morally-perfect to define it. If Raul would define “morally right,” what happens when he messes up? If my counselor defines it, what happens when she messes up? If my parents define it, what happens when they mess up? Jesus Christ is perfect, and when He came to Earth as a person, He did in a morally right & perfect way. Then He was crucified for my (& all of our) immoral unrighteousness. He rose from His grave, and ascended back to where He came from. No one else has done this—furthermore, there’s empirical proof He did. So He, and His Book, define “morally right” to me. HE defines my righteousness.

2) Why did the psalmist ascribe a palm tree to this verse? Well maybe for a couple reasons. One, palm trees don’t grow away from storms. Two, palm trees don’t break in storms. Palm trees can bend to the point where they are horizontal to the ground! Palm trees endure storms, bend into them, stand up again when they pass.

3) “The righteous will flourish like palm trees.” To me, it preaches a message that if Jesus is my righteousness, then in my storms, I will flourish. The amazing irony!!! I won’t grow out from the storms, run away from the storms or break from the storms. When they come, I’ll bend into them & stand up again. I’ll flourish! I hope this encourages a fellow palm in a storm today. 🌴

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Down and Out? Find the Sun

“And God made the two great lights–the greater light (the sun) to rule the day,” Genesis 1:16. The sun has incomprehensible statistics: it is approximately 330,000 times bigger than our home planet; its surface temperature is 10,000 degrees; it’s like 93 million miles away from your living room recliner. But as incomprehensible as the sun is, it still has an approachable-ness to it, because God made it. Do you know how big and mighty God must be since HE made the sun? It’s probably like a ping pong ball in His hand. I love it when God’s sun shines on me. First, it reminds me of His promise in Numbers 6:14-25, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.” Secondly, though I don’t see God face to face or hear God on my cell, I can step outside and feel his presence on my face. Who, but God, can take a bright, shining star and have it greet you with its radiant aura? Recently, on a walk, I had burdens and stresses on my mind. But I could not escape the fact that every street I walked, every corner I turned, I could feel the sun. The sun went with me everywhere, as if God summoned it to remind me that He IS everywhere. If you are discouraged or burdened, I say find the sun. Even if it briefly peeks through the clouds and casts itself onto your windshield–be assured, God is near. The sun is not a cosmic mystery. God made it, and God made us. And though we worship God only, the sun is a daily reminder of His proximity, perfection and power to you and to me.

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“Are You There God? It’s Me Again.”

Romans 8:38 says, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” We can get on each other’s nerves and want space from each other. But God wants to be where we are. God never gets sick of us. And you never get on his nerves. As a rebellious teen, I can remember thinking, “I don’t want God to be where I am, then I won’t be able to do what I want to do!” What foolish talk. It’s only when we’re doing things we shouldn’t be doing we wish God wasn’t there. But then when we need a miracle, an answer, a hope, we want Him as close as possible! Thankfully, God doesn’t listen to us. Thankfully God’s never said to me, “Are you here, Heather? It’s me, God.” Cause God has always been there and God has never left. When I invited Jesus into my heart at 4 years old on Green Road in Haskins, Ohio, I invited His protective-peaceful-presence into my life, forever. And NOTHING can separate it. After almost 4 decades of *never* being out of his eyesight, away from his reach or off his radar—I boldly testify—it’s a journey I’m glad I’m on.

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#MSDStrong: one thing I know,
one thing I don’t know

From the difficult days that ensued February 14, one thing I know is how God was in his church. Our church is 6 miles from the school.  I saw God in a way I had never seen God before–because I had never been through something like this before. I saw God in Pastor David and Lisa, who found themselves abruptly leaving a conference in another state, only to land and immediately start meeting with victims’ families, making hospital visits, attend vigils, funerals and viewings, rally our teams to do whatever it takes; all the while, David crafting personalized, poignant funeral messages for each funeral.  I saw God in volunteers, who took off work, missed class, rescheduled vacations so they could serve. And not just serve in “sexy” ways like host state governors and handle media, but in unnoticed ways like make sure there were enough Kleenex boxes at the seats of every victims’ family. I saw God in my kids who reached out to their best bud (an MSD freshman), having him over the day after, to give him a refuge. I saw God in our church-attendees, who attended the funerals not because they knew the victims, but to support their families – even if they sat, unnoticed, in the most remote seat. I saw God in the worship – how do you worship at a time like this? Let God lay the music on your heart, voice and instrument…then do it.  I saw God in unprecedented hugs and tears and touches. Three things our society (and me) have moved away from in this cyber-virtual-technological era.  You can’t “text” real hugs, tears or touches. You have them in you, and when God needs you to show up with them and give them, you do.  I learned that when there are no intangibles like words, there are still tangibles like tears, hugs and touches.  When Jesus got word that his friend had died, I don’t think he wept because he died (Jesus knew he was about to do a miracle). I think he cried becaue his friends were sad, and his compassion meant joining them in their tears.  One thing I know is God was in his Church, using his imperfect people.  There’s also one thing I don’t know. Why did this bad man do this?  I think alot. Arguably, too much. I’ve tried to get in his head and fill in the blank, “why,” but it’s only rendered empty space in its’ fill-in. In Pastor David’s Easter message, he said, “You can have faith and still have doubts.” I’m finding a lot of comfort in that. It actually gave me a temporary place to park “why” in my head until I get to Heaven and can have God’s ear. In closing, I want to say that if you’re still hurting, we’re still praying. Let us know if you need specific prayer….or…a hug. #msdstrong

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HeadAches

No matter our leadership role, when the stress of it is high, so is the probability for a headache.  When my son DJ was 4 years old, he got his first headache. You can see by the photo, he conjured up his own remedy: strap on a tight, tinted pair of goggles. When I asked if it helped, he looked at me with his Cuban sass and said, “My headache’s already gone!” So there you have it. Seriously though, back to our calling as leaders—positionally, it can manifest itself, physically. Fast forwrd to a couple years ago, DJ came home from school complaining of an acute headache. The kind where you need silence, darkness and prayer.  This time it wasn’t because of too much candy or rough-housin.’ It was triggered by the calling of his young leadership. Ever since my boys asked God to be their personal Lord and Savior, I have told them they are leaders. Because in God’s economy, wherever we are, whenever we can, we are to lead others to Him.  Daily, at school drop-off’s, my parting words to DJ and Andy are: I love you. Be a leader among your peers. Be a servant among your leaders. Back to DJ…during this particular instance, DJ was being pressured by his peers.  The positional pressure of what to do and not to do, was manifesting itself physically, as a headache. I’m reminded of David the psalmist, who penned: “But you, O Lord…are my glory, the one who holds my head high.”  (Psalm‬ ‭3:3‬) If headaches are a possible part of leadership, I’m comforted by these God-appointed and God-anointed words. I gave DJ a couple of Advil (not goggles), put him in a dark, quiet room and prayed for him. Today, I still pray for him, and Andy. That as they grow in their roles as leaders (and OUTgrow their need for mom) they know the Lord will ALWAYS hold their heads high, as they hold God high.

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Ordinary Like Mary

In Luke 1:38, Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.” In and of itself, this seems like a typical, biblical response. But when you study its context, you see how profound and unusual Mary’s response is. Mary said this after an angel told her she would become pregnant; and Jesus–God with skin on–would be her son. Mary was a poor, virgin teenager. The odds were stacked against her–she could have replied, “Sorry, I can’t.” See, Mary is an ordinary person like you and me, with extraordinary faith that we could have—if we choose it. Mary’s faith was extraordinary because she believed God’s message, though she could not see God. She accepted the impossible, though it wasn’t sensible. And by that faith, Mary would witness the miracle-birth of her son; and witness the death and resurrection of her Savior. My personal challenge from Mary’s response came in the form of a question: Heather, who are you faithful to? The gifts: your sons, your husband, your life? Or the Giver of your gifts: Jesus Christ. If you were me, how would you answer this? There were 32 years between the miracle of her son’s birth and the brutality of her Savior’s death. Imagine how much her faith was tested when she saw bad things happen to her good (and perfect) Son? But Mary remained resolutely faithful. In life, we all need something to cling to in faith. Proverbially, when life has us in a pit, we need a rope; when life has us over a cliff, we need a strong hand; when life has us in a fierce storm, we need an anchor. If Mary would have held onto her boy, if Mary would have protested his death, if Mary would have paid off the Roman governor, if Mary would have told her Son, “No, you can’t sacrifice your life for the world,” Mary wouldn’t have clung to her faith, but her circumstances. We are blessed to know the whole story of Mary’s faith. It ends VERY well! But her story is our story. I’m Mary—an ordinary person choosing to take daily steps into a deeper dimension of my faith. My circumstances won’t get me to the end of my eternal-triumphant-glorious story (as the bible teaches); my faith that will! And by faith, I pray your story will end that way too. I hope you know Him.

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Stained Glass vs Shattered Glass

In Romans 8, the bible says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God.”  Before meeting my sexy Cuban Raul, I looked at life through the lens of shattered-glass. I saw myself, circumstances, and others through broken prisms. The cup wasn’t half-empty, it was almost gone. The grass wasn’t greener on the other side, it was brown. The bowl wasn’t full of cherries, rather, rotten apples.  But when I met Raul, I noticed that he didn’t see through the same lens as I did. Even though we could be looking at the same unfortunate event, he’d see it differently than me. Instead of seeing the world through shattered glass, Raul saw things through stained glass. Stained glass is stunning. If you’ve ever seen historical cathedrals, the stained glass in them will take your breath away. Why does Raul see things through stained glass eyes? Because at the beginning of his faith, he took Romans 8:28, literally! He truly believed (and still believes) that God works all things together for those who love him. Raul has taught me that if God is in it, we can look for the good in it. Not just in some things, but in all things. God is not an exaggerator. He’s not an embellisher. When he said “all things” in Romans 8, He meant it. When we become a Christ-follower, we become a new creature (Ephesians 4:24) and with that, comes a new set of eyes. Raul embraced his new eyes right away! For some like me, it takes more time accept their promising view. I know we all have eyes, but I hope we see through the stained glass of God’s promises. Life looks different, and I’m glad Raul showed me.

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