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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. 🌴

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.

“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.

#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


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.

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.

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.

Pain and Healing:2 Different Schedules

I’ve been forthright about my teen/college years in that I was one heck of a rebellious, prodigal daughter.  I’m thankful I lived to tell about it.  Several years ago, I was hurt by a group of good people.  I’m thankful I made it through that as well.  What I want to share is what I learned from those: pain and healing are not always on the same schedules.  It took eleven years to screw up my teen/college years, but it took two decades to work through the consequences of them.  It took a few months for that group of people to hurt me and fracture my marriage, but it took eight years to heal from it.  Whether we cause the pain to ourselves or the pain is inflicted by others, days of healing are not always proportionate to the days of pain.  Sometimes, the healing can take longer.  Sometimes, the healing will be never-ending.  My point? Be patient.  Don’t trust the clock, trust the Time Keeper.  The bible says in Romans 8:28, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Here, God doesn’t promise a time frame. He promises He’ll work it out for your good. He WILL nurse, tend-to and triage the residual aches, scars, side-effects, fears, hesitations, anger, depression, grief, regret and consequence. We must never think God was absent in the pain–but we must never think He will forget about us in the healing. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He was withe me in my pains of yesterday, and He is with me in the today’s and tomorrow’s of my healing.  I can’t control time, but when I trust the One who does, I don’t have to. I hope this encourages someone today. <3

My Mental Battle Isn’t An ExcuseTo Hurt Others With It

disclaimer: I am not a certified counselor or professional in mental health; just a pastor’s wife living with bipolarity.
One thing I’ve been guilty of doing, tempted TO do and observed others doing is using mental illness as an excuse to hurt 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 wants this for 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 or 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 the struggle is real. I live with it every day. But I also hope this raw conviction about it encourages someone.

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