My Safe and Beautiful Place

photoAwhile back, my counselor suggested I find a place that is, “safe and beautiful,” and use it to gather my thoughts, pray and re-establish my footing. Par for the course, I initially thought the advice was whackadoodle. But par for the course, I heeded it anyway.  This is my place:  up against a patio pillar. On any stressful or troubling day, I will take a timeout to my place. I lean up against it. The sun is shining on me. The water is in front of me. The palm trees are on the sides of me, the hibiscus and magnolias in the horizon. Otis is usually there too. ;)  But this has become my place. It’s free, it’s safe, it’s beautiful. It’s where I know God is, and where I’ve heard him often. Audibly? Of course not. But because this place is peaceful, safe and beautiful, it affords me the chance to hear his still, strong voice in my head, or his nudge to my belly.  I hope this encourages you to find a place too. Leave a comment if you have one. Maybe together, we can give others some ideas!

Who You Are, Why You’re Here

P1000971The whole “Wondherful” concept was inspired from my fav Psalm, Psalm 139.  You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well.  You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body.  When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. Isn’t that wonderful?? That’s it! It’s all I need to know! God planned our potential before we had our first accomplishment. God scheduled our days before we started planning them on smartphones. When you wish you weren’t born, when you wonder why you are here, when you don’t want to keep going…Know this:  God didn’t have to create you, He WANTED to. He envisioned you. He used His imagination to create every aspect of your inward and outward life. He wants you here.  You are God’s sculpture, you are his image, and you should be esteemed by the notion that you are his masterpiece. You are his dream come true. Don’t let people make insecure what God has secured. And don’t let people reduce to insignificant what God has declared wonderful!

Resting is not the Same Thing as Quitting

cat-in-hammockBefore the weekend gets here, I’d like to offer a delineation: resting is not the same thing as quitting. Resting is temporary, quitting is permanent. Resting is godly, quitting (if it’s not God’s will) is not godly.  Resting keeps you from rusting. Quitting is rusting.  Resting helps you not quit! But quitting doesn’t help you not rest.  Resting is not regretful, quitting is regretful.  I think we can get deceived that resting will mean “I am quitting,” or “I am weak.” But this is a lie the devil is trying to sell you from the pit of hell.  GOD rested on the seventh day. JESUS got away in the mornings and rested in the Father.  I get a lot of things wrong. But one thing I can stand behind is I find time to rest. I was found in a bloody, psychotic mess in a parking lot, and locked up for it. That night, I told God I will do whatever HE needs to have that NEVER happen again. A LARGE part of my refusal to return to “crazy,” is my emphatic conviction to rest.  You CAN tell people no. You CAN build margin into your life. There is NO WAY God wants us to run so hard we go crazy. What good would His squad be if rendered useless because we refuse to rest? God needs us! But we need to rest so He can use us! As the weekend approaches, I hope you enjoy it…and find time to rest in it.

How to Win When You Lose

photoDJ had his first football game yesterday. They lost. Well, in points. But from my vantage point, they won. What’s my vantage point? All my life, it’s been from the bleachers. During all my years of education, K4-college, I never played one organized sport. I was always a bleacher-kid. Anywho, yesterday, the bleachers were my vantage point, but my heart saw something else. I saw a team of kids who won
the benefit of respecting their leader.
the strength to endure against odds
the maturity to cheer when benched
the agony of defeat but with joy of unity
the courage to try something new
the fun of jumping for high-fives
I look at those six things, and as someone who never got to gain them–-I’d say it was a win, even at a loss.

5 Tactics for the Battle

6708a6291847944cd092f2bbc1bd868bOne thing I get asked is, “How do you get through?” I’ve given the answer lots of years of practice. Here are five things I do when I am battling my mind.  They are in no certain order–as ALL of them, combined–gave me light in a dark place…

  1. Christian Counseling. I’m not talking a one-hour-on-the-couch-thank-you-for-your-time-I’m-healed session. I’m talking a relentless resolve to go, every week to every appointment for the entire hour, UNTIL, You + God + Counselor are in agreement that your time is done. In 2000-2001, I went 52 weeks in a row.
  2. Kneel to pray. This was a powerful step for two reasons. One, it forced me to get out of bed every morning. To pray on my knees, I had to rise from my pillow. It’s that simple. Two, it gave me a chance to release my tears, anxiety, and “crazy” unto the Lord before taking on the day.
  3. Journaling. “Oh, Heather, you’re a writer, that comes easy to you.” Nope, that’s not why I journaled in my darkness. I journaled because I was lonely. I didn’t have anyone who could handle all my darkness. And I didn’t want it in me. So I dumped…journaled…to God. If I write it out, I’m not holding it in. Period.
  4. Prescription Meds. I know, I know…its controversial because Christians shouldn’t need to depend on this. I know, I know, it’s a crutch. I know, I know, there are side effects. I know, I know, not all insurance companies cover it. Putting all the dogma aside, here’s what I know, and believe for me: My brain gets sick and there are prescriptions that can help it get better. When my body got sick with a cold, I took antibiotics. When my body was recovering from surgery, I took antibiotics to avoid infection. If I had diabetes, I would take insulin. The brain is a part of the body that gets sick too. That’s all I can say.
  5. Read. And then Read. I think people get sick of me saying this, but I read like a maniac when I’m walking through a mental affliction.  For two reasons: one, reading forces me to sit, quietly, and get my mind off my mind. I can’t go crazy, I can’t freak out if I am quietly reading. It’s been a safe recreation in my dark hours. Two, there are experts who God has allowed their stories and their knowledge to be put out there for our gain. I have a vast collection of books that have been huge in helping me heal. (If you would like to know my list, email me at heather@wondHerful.com)

Remember, I’m not an expert, just a client. I hope this encourages someone today. 

#NationalSuicidePreventionWeek

Tomorrow starts #NationalSuicidePreventionWeek.
The #NationalSuicideHotline number is 1-800-273-TALK

When I was little, I recall a time when my dad’s heart was heavy and our house was somber. His best friend, Craig, had taken his life and my dad had to identify his body. Over the last decade, I’ve had two childhood friends and a cousin do the same. I have deep compassion for these families, friends and their losses, but admittedly, I don’t understand how they feel. But what I have seen is that suicide is not the answer. I am thankful my couple of attempts failed. I have lived to see the goodness of God and his miracles in our comebacks. He determined the day I would arrive and I trust his timing on the day I will depart. It’s too big of a burden to be responsible for the coming and going of one’s life. No matter how deep the valley, how dark the sky, how slimy the pit, there are people who need me (and you) in their lives. I can not be replaced by anyone else. I love this verse about the preciousness of life when Jesus promised, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Some of us may feel like our life has been stolen, but with Jesus, we can get it back. I hope this encourages someone today. If I can pray for you, please feel free to shoot me an email at heather@wondherful.com.

Can We Have Too Much Grace?

graceWhen I was in my “prodigal son” years, I didn’t expect grace and I didn’t offer it.  I was a hard-candy shell. Then a few years ago, I found myself in desperate need of grace…and it was nowhere to be found. That radically changed my thoughts on grace. Today, I’m in a place where grace abounds. Where the leadership believes in grace, letting it flow up, down and all around.  I know there are people who misunderstand grace because I’ve had conversations with them.  They perceive a blurry-line between being gracious and becoming a doormat.  So I wondered if a case could be made for too much grace? I did a little research on Jesus in the bible. I discovered Jesus didn’t have a cap on his grace. It wasn’t budgeted. It wasn’t rationed. He gave grace when it meant it wouldn’t be returned.  He gave grace when it meant He would be abused, mistreated and killed. And He hasn’t stopped giving grace to humans, since. He is the Grace-Maker. He is the Grace-Master and He sets the example for grace. So I found the answer to my question.  If He doesn’t have a case for too much grace, neither should I.

Today’s Unexpected Hit-n-Run

photoMy day didn’t go the way I planned. I ran into a store to pick up something, and when I got to my car, there were people waiting. In short, “Ma’am, I just saw a car hit your car and take off. I got the license plate and make/model. But I also saw her park far-off in the distance, and go into the store.” As this lady spoke, her passenger weighed in, and then an onlooker approached, giving her opinion too. I took a breather and called Raul. He said, “Call the police.” As I waited for the police, I conversed with the group that had formed, and prayed. Timeout #1: God can hear your heart. As you pray in your heart, you can be talking with your mouth. It’s an amazing gift He gives.  The officer finally arrived, and reprimanded me for not getting the eyewitness contact info. (#notetoself). Then he instructed me to drive over to the suspect-vehicle and park in front it; he would park behind it, blocking them in. Waiting…. waiting…. Finally, 2 women sheepishly approached the car. And confessed.  As the officer completed his protocol, I sat in my truck. Unpredictably, my frustration melted as the temperature of compassion in my body started to rise. It was clear this woman (8 months pregnant with 3 little kids) was of modest means and overwhelmed.  In my truck, I had invite-cards to our #SampleRd campus, where we house the Kids Kloset, a free thrift-shop for families. I took 2 of the invites, got out of my car, approached the women, introduced myself as a pastor’s wife and invited them to CBG-Sample and our Kids Kloset. (Meanwhile, the cop looking from his patrol car, like I was nuts.) I’m leaving out alot of details. But I’ll close with Timeout #3:  As Pastor Dan would say, “Don’t be impressed with me cause I’m not impressed with me and I have to live with me!” and Timeout #4: on our watch, accidents are accidents; but on God’s watch, they may also be opportunities for providence.

Mental Struggle is not an Excuse to Hurt People With It

W3jlf45459252sBefore I get started, one disclaimer: I am not a certified counselor or professional in mental health.  Just a pastor’s wife living with it.
One thing I’ve been guilty of doing, tempted TO do and observed others doing is using mental struggles as an excuse for hurting others. I don’t like that I have done this. And when I bounced my behavior off God’s word, I don’t think God likes this in me, either. In the bible, Paul wrote, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” (2 Cor. 12:7-8) From this text, I learn that Paul was tormented. Like Paul, some of us are mentally tormented. However, what I glean from the subtext, is that PAUL says HE has a thorn.  He owns it. He embraces it. He gives it to God. What Paul does not say is that his “thorn” is mine, your’s, ours.  It’s HIS thorn. And as the text continues, God used it to display His grace and power (2 Cor. 12:9). Sometimes, I’ve been tempted to say, “But I can’t help it. It’s just the way my mind works.”  But that doesn’t line up with God’s word. The bible says that we take our thoughts captive.  That means, my thoughts are not my master if Jesus is my Savior.  The bible also says the greatest commandment is to,  “love your neighbors and your enemies.” Love does not mean using my “thorn” to hurt others with it.  I hope you know my heart:  that I know this struggle is real. I live with it every day. But I also hope this honesty encourages someone today.

“Choose Love” Book Giveaway

9780736958974_centered_283x437I started reading Stormie Omartian‘s books in 2000 when my counselor recommended “The Power of the Praying Wife.” Since then, I’ve read almost all of them: “Power of the Praying Parent,” “Lord I Want to Be Whole,” “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On,” “The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage,” and Raul read, “The Power of the Praying Husband.” Stormie just released yet ANOTHER book and it is GOOOOOD. It’s called, “Choosing Love.” Stormie says, “One of the many ways we can show our love to God is to deliberately choose to show love to others and in every situation…This book is about making that sometimes difficult choice and the rewards that follow.”  If you had a screwed-up past like I did, you might find it hard to love like I did.  I am so grateful for this book. I know this book is going to free people up to love, even though it’s seems impossible in their eyes.  I’m giving away three copies of this book today. The first three who email me at heather@wondHerful.com will receive a copy.  If you don’t win, but you want this book, you may get it HERE.