Friday, January 14, 2022
The above photo is a collection of what I'm calling Connection Cards.
Connection has become exponentially important over the past two years.
Face to face chats, pen to paper communication, or a good old fashioned phone call...that's connection.
Connection is life. Without it, we wither.
About a year ago I left social media.
Here's one of my biggest take-aways:
When I was on social media, and I'd see one of my "friends" out in the real world, we had little to talk about - we'd already shared our highlights online. We'd quickly exchange small talk and go about our day. "Gee it was good to see so-and-so," I'd think.
Now, we stop and share what's going on in our lives. We catch up. I really don't know how they are and what they've been up to - and I'm curious. I'm interested. I want to know! It's a real-time face-to-face "like" - much more satisfying than a number on a screen.
Curiosity is a big piece of connection. I feel like that's been lost over the past decade. We already know the highlights, so we don't ask anything, we've lost a lot of the skills of conversation and dare I say, how to be real-time interested in another's life.
So, I present Connection Cards...available in my Etsy shop. www.artbyheather.etsy.com
They're a place to start...write a little note to someone and brighten their day. Connect.
Friday, December 24, 2021
We just returned from an early Christmas celebration with family.
There's just nothing better than having all your kids together in one place...can I get an amen?
We spent two days doing Christmassy things in North Carolina...playing, baking, laughing, eating--all the best things...it was delightful.
I adore those people. They make my heart sing.
I hope your Christmas is filled with all the best things: Love, laughter, family (if you can stand 'em), friends, good food, fun surprises, and most importantly, peace, joy, and more peace.
May you know the most valuable gift of the season: Jesus. May His perfect peace fill your heart--edging out the fear peddled by the world.
I love the words of the second verse of Joy to the World:
He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove, the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continuous feast. (NIV)
Our enemy (human and spiritual) would like nothing else than to keep us in a state of oppression—in fear—to keep the soundtrack of anxiety and anger repeating through our mind.
Why? Because it makes our days wretched, evil, miserable—keeps us in bondage.
But wise King Solomon, who asked God for wisdom and received it in abundance, gives the answer to oppression: But a cheerful heart has a continuous feast.
But, I deserve what I’m due…an apology, things made right…I deserve to be angry!
Then you’re free to stay in the first part of the verse.
But a cheerful heart,
A heart that chooses to ignore those who tell you, “You can’t,” or “You’re less than,” and a heart that rejects being lumped in with people who look like you, but aren’t you, THAT heart enjoys a continuous feast.
A heart that forgives when no one apologizes, a heart that rejects the lie that forgiveness is a pass—a heart that understands forgiveness heals the forgiver and heaps burning coals on the head of the oppressor, THAT heart is filled to overflowing.
A heart that rejects hate, even when hating feels justified—a heart that understands that hate in all of its forms is straight from the pit of hell, THAT heart is at peace.
A heart that builds, rather than tears down—that unifies, rather than divides, THAT heart is filled to overflowing with love.
A heart that rejects the world’s economy of getting what we deserve, and embraces God’s economy where wealth is found in emptying oneself for others, THAT heart will have more bounty than it can store.
It’s time for us to live in the second part of that verse. The first part is too burdensome to bear. We cannot change other people, but wise King Solomon knew that we can change our perspective, our attitude, ourselves. We can see others through the lens of God’s love, and reject the lens through which others choose to view us.
Enjoy the continuous feast, friends!
Friday, February 12, 2021
I’ve shared this story with several people and I am compelled to put it out into the ether to encourage others too.
All of the turmoil in our world started having a physical affect on me last fall.
I saw a doctor and endured a battery of tests…they could find no reason for my issues.
But I knew what it was all along.
It was stress.
With every anxious thought, my stomach clenched…I felt it real-time.
I’ve never struggled like that before.
My heart grieved and my gut responded.
This went on for a few months.
Then I had a dream.
A vivid, sensation-filled dream.
Some may consider it a nightmare.
I never did.
The dream lasted all of 10 seconds as most dreams do.
This is what I dreamed:
My hand gripped a doorknob.
My heart was filled with joy.
I was smiling inside and out – eager to burst through the door.
I never saw what was on the other side, but I know it was probably my family, friends, the people who bring me joy.
I pushed open the door, joy spilling over now, and began to take a step inside.
Someone grabbed me around the waist and propelled me backwards, away from the room I was about to enter.
I was moving so swiftly backwards that my arms and legs flailed in front of me.
Faster, faster, faster.
My only thought was: “Here we go…”
Fight or flight.
I was determined to fight to survive.
I took three quick, panting breaths and I woke slightly, but the dream continued.
As I’m moving backwards, legs and arms flapping in front of me, I was pulled through a wall.
I didn’t crash through,
I went through it as if a ghost.
It was then that I knew I was dealing with an evil spirit …a demon…the enemy—pulling me swiftly from joy (typical).
I was filled with relief. (Yes, you read that right.)
My only thought: I have Christ in me.
“NO!” My voice was firm and confident.
And the backward motion immediately stopped and I stood.
I woke up.
The reality of what happened filled me.
I was in the midst of a power struggle.
Not the power struggle that was giving me tummy trouble—witnessing the struggle of our country, our families, and our churches.
It was a power struggle within myself.
I struggle to believe I have the power of Christ in me.
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve truly believed it, nor acknowledged it until now.
All of this (the virus, the oppression, the deceit, the division, cancel culture) is a spiritual battle.
Same old battle, closer to home.
But I have Christ in me.
I am powerful.
I do not need human strength, ingenuity, or intellect to defeat the enemy.
I have all that I need.
As I lay there, processing, truth seeped into my heart.
Into my soul.
I began to pray.
I prayed differently, though.
I didn’t ask God to do this or that.
I prayed against the enemy of my soul.
As I prayed, my heart was calmed, confident.
I eventually fell back to sleep and woke the next morning, well-rested, the dream still vivid in my mind and heart.
Until that dream, I felt like a weak nobody, unable to do anything to change the brokenness, division, deceit, and the seeming surrender of believers and the church.
But I’m not weak.
I have Christ in me.
Maybe you do too.
If so, we are powerful.
Do you believe it?
How do we harness this power?
Pray against the enemy.
Pray against evil in specific ways.
Pray against fear.
Pray against confusion.
SO IMPORTANT: Pray against deceitful speech and lies.
Pray FOR our leaders, in government and in the church.
Pray FOR wisdom.
Pray FOR clarity.
Pray FOR opportunities to share God’s love and encouragement, and the courage to jump on the opportunities as they come.
Pray FOR protection from fear when reasons to avoid those opportunities present themselves as valid. When God calls, no fear (not even the fear of a virus) is valid.
Finally, pray for other believers.
The division is real, y’all.
Back to my gut.
Since my dream, my gut is calm, healthy, restored.
This truth from God’s word reminded me that my striving is useless in this war: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3,4)
When God corrected my perspective, my understanding of what was true and important, my heart healed, and my gut followed.
I’m so thankful.
I hope this encourages you to pray in a new way with new confidence—to boldly utilize the power of Christ in you.
To go and do with power—the power of Christ in you!
The enemy is no match for the omnipotence of our God, or the power of Christ in you!
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
1. My precious grandson. Beckham Arthur is a long-awaited blessing. Becoming a grandma, a nana is sweeter than I’d imagined. He fills my thoughts and my heart with joy.
2. Prayer. Access to the Almighty. The fact that the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf when we do not know how to pray is stunningly precious to me. I cannot chat with my governor or my president, but I can bend the ear of the Almighty who rules overall. He cares deeply about what we bring to Him, and I can scarcely fathom it.
3. God’s Word. A treasure trove of hope. A powerful weapon against the enemy of our souls. I’ve read it more this year than ever, but it’s still not enough. The Bible is a gift from God—a precious guide for the journey of this life.
4. My husband. My guy who loves to travel and be out-and-about has been stuck at home with me most of the year. I’ve rather enjoyed the time alone with him. We’ve found new ways to get away and a new rhythm. I’m so thankful for how hard he works for us every day.
5. My kids. All five of ‘em. The pride I feel when I think of each of my kids is overwhelming. They’re smart, kind, funny, and I love them all immensely. Every moment I’m blessed to spend with them is a joy and privilege.
6. Fellowship. In a world where human interaction is considered risky, fellowship is in short supply. For those who need it (me), it’s been a joy to gather in divine appointments—encouraging others, being encouraged, easing the burden of fear and isolation.
7. Freedom. It’s something we take for granted until it’s threatened or lost. We lost a lot of freedom this year. I am more grateful than ever for the freedoms I’ve enjoyed all of my life. I pray that freedom will continue for my children and grandchildren.
8. My best friend. I haven’t seen her for almost a year, but she has been an ever-present friend—a perspective-giver—a non-judgmental reader of rants. And she needs me back, which is just as important as her being there for me. Love you, Lora.
9. Friends. It’s been a rough friend year. I haven’t seen so many of them for ages. Others get together often. I’m thankful for all of my friends, most especially those who pray. Lifting you up and being lifted in prayer is such a blessing.
10. The Grace Writers—also friends. I love you, ladies. You are a joy. I appreciate your faith, your stories, your creativity, and your encouragement. It’s been over six years of fun, and I hope we meet for 60 more…(or less).
11. Making do. This spring, the shut-down kept us mostly home. I had to re-learn how to make do. I expanded my cooking repertoire and redecorated my house almost solely with spray paint. It was actually fun, and oh, so creative. I strive to continue that mindset.
12. Truth. Not my truth or your truth, THE truth. I appreciate constructive conversation and debate where the desired end is truth, no matter who is right or wrong. I honestly don’t mind being proven wrong when the truth is discovered like a hidden treasure.
13. My home. I’ve been stuck in it more this year than I ever have, and I am thankful. Before 2020, its deficiencies annoyed me more often. This year, I appreciate every nook and cranny. It’s been a haven—a safe, clean place to invite others to fellowship.
14. Travel. I did travel a bit this year—flying only to visit my precious grandbaby and kids. I canceled more trips than I took, but I am thankful for the times we got away and explored the world a bit closer to home. I’ll never take for granted the blessing of travel.
15. Boldness. It wasn’t until my 40s that I allowed myself to be bold. A circumstance called for it, and boldness came forth. 2020 called forth more boldness from me, and I find I’m hungry for it in others. I want a decisive boldness. It’s time. It’s out there, and I am constantly seeking it.
16. Vintage photos. I love the peek into the past, the stories they bear, the humor, and even a profound truth. Back in the day, people only took photos of things they cherished, memories, places, people. Now we photograph every moment, missing them in the process. Old photos speak volumes. I try to listen.
17. Time. I don’t know how much I have. No one does. But in a year when we were pummeled by the fear of death, the preciousness of time has come to the fore. I’m not afraid of death, but I do fear squandering the time I have. Since we never know the length of our days, Lord, help me use them for Your glory!
18. Health. I was waiting in line at the pharmacy at Costco. The old, sickly woman in front of me had a loud voice and, when asked, gave her date of birth. She was one month older than me. I was shocked and grateful. Yes, I have the aches and pains of a half-century of life, but I’m thankful for the health I have, aches and all.
19. The Church. I used to think I went to church...this year, I’ve learned what it means to be the church. I’ve scarcely stepped foot inside a church building, but the church is more important than ever. I used to be the donut lady, I miss that, but now I see how important it is to be the church to people who need people. To provide fellowship, to encourage, to keep in touch when you can’t actually touch.
20. Treasure hunts. We spent a lot of time at the beach this year. We discovered the joy of hunting for agates. They’re beautiful, mysterious, colorful, and sometimes hard to find. The joy of searching is almost as fun as the finding. That’s true of so much in life…the ultimate treasure hunt. May we never stop seeking the good in every year…especially the challenging ones.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
When I was a little girl, I liked to go to my friend’s houses, but I loved my home.
The excitement of a new place wore off quickly, and I was left with a pit in my stomach.
I was homesick.
Homesickness is that empty ache that only stepping through your familiar front door can assuage.
I feel that ache now, in my living room, fire in the fireplace, rain pattering on my window.
I look outside to the windy world, and rather than feel secure in my warm house,
I am anxious.
The storm is angry. Rain pummels the roof. Trees bend in the gales.
A branch flies through the air.
It’s dangerous out there.
My gaze recedes to my reflection.
I see worry as water pounds the glass.
On my face, a familiar, persistent, empty ache.
I’m in my home, safe and sound.
Are you? He asks.
Are you home?
It’s not the storm that makes me anxious.
Our world is changing.
Lord, our world is changing.
I know, child.
Then I recognize that pit in my stomach.
It’s not the angst of my world spinning out of control, as I think it is.
I’ve clung too tightly to this place.
I associated heaven with death, not home.
Suddenly I remember,
This is not my home.
Home is where my father is and where my Father is.
Home is a place prepared especially for me.
When I was a little girl, heart longing for home,
A kind grown-up would let me call my mother.
We’d talk, and I’d feel a bit better.
“Make the most of your time with your friend,” she’d say.
“You’ll be home soon.”
My Father in Heaven says the same thing.
Your journey isn’t finished, dear child.
Share your gifts until I bring you home.
I remember the feeling of crossing the threshold of my home after a long weekend at camp or a sleepover at a friend's house.
I had fun with my friends,
But there was joy in returning home.
I feel it as an adult too.
I cherish visits with my children and now my grandson,
And journeys to new places.
But the satisfaction of dropping my bags on my floor, in my house,
And the comfort of breathing in the familiar scent,
tearing off my coat and plopping onto the sofa--well, there's nothing like it.
What will it feel like to cross the threshold of my eternal Home?
It's a thought too wonderful to imagine.
My citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).
For now, the ache will persist,
But the promise of Home is comfort.
Lord, help me to embrace the ache.
Use my gifts for Your glory all the days of my life,
Until I’m finally Home.
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
It took me a while to jump onto Facebook.
I wasn't completely sold on the whole social media thing.
But when I finally did, about five years after all of my friends, I found the connection to people I'd lost touch with over the years was a great thing. But I fell into all the typical social media nonsense. The frequent posting, the collection of fake friends, the updating of my goings-on. Why?
It took a few years to begin to see the drawbacks.
I deactivated my account and haven't looked back.
I don't miss it one little bit.
Here's why I left:
1. It's a time-waster.
I didn't spend hours and hours at a time on Facebook. I spent pockets of time scurrying down rabbit holes--time I should have spent on other things. I wasted time doing absolutely nothing with no reward whatsoever. If I could get that time back over all the years I was a Facebook user, who knows what I could accomplish!
2. It's toxic.
The relative anonymity of Facebook is fraught with the license to insult, malign, and judge. I found myself typing hurried reactions to news stories...and for what? I deleted almost as many comments. Did I really think my comment could change an opinion? It's a silly release of frustration that amounts to nothing. I was a courteous commenter...other comments I read were utterly malicious and truly horrid. We're all entitled to our opinions, but I realized I don't need to type them for strangers.
3. Friends are not friends.
Not at all. I realized that I am not a person who needs hundreds of friends and Facebook really brought that home for me. Friend is not just a word for me. If you're my friend, I really care about you. I was uncomfortable having hundreds of "friends" who really didn't know me from a stranger on the street. It was disingenuous. The number of friends one had on Facebook seemed to be a badge of honor and I just didn't buy that.
4. It's informative...and not in a good way.
I love my friends, but I don't want to know every detail of their lives. For some, Facebook is a "person to talk to"...it is assumed that everyone will want to know an exorbitant amount of daily information. Yes, I unfollowed them, but even that doesn't stop all the chatter. It was exhausting. When 2020 ramped up it became even more tiring. I was convicted that my opinions are different from some of my friends. I didn't want to risk the real relationships by posting controversy. It's just not worth it.
5. It's fake.
It is a rare person who posts photos of their failures, their struggles, or their flaws. And when they do, it's typically for a reaction of some sort. Why? Those are things real friends know all about. The fake culture of "my life is so perfect" is a source of despair for some with anxiety and depression. Teens are especially influenced in a harmful way by all the fake perfection. I just couldn't be a part of that anymore.
Did I care about likes? Honestly, yes. No one admits that, but there it is. There was a time when I was bummed if I had a low amount of likes for something I posted. (ugh) In the last year or two, that need waned. I realized it was a shallow search for approval. It doesn't matter what people think of what I post. It doesn't. Best realization ever. What matters is real relationships. What matters is what God thinks of my social media behavior. What God thinks of everything I do in my day.
I watched a movie recently (after I left Facebook). It's called "The Social Dilemma." It was quite an eye-opener. I encourage you to watch it if you are a Facebook user...any social media user, actually. It really confirmed my conviction that I do not belong on Facebook. The misinformation and the manipulation of information Facebook feeds you, is shocking. I do my own research now...I seek to understand and inform myself rather than trust social media to do so.
Are there good things about Facebook? Sure. But I think it's important to weigh the good with the harmful--to examine how our life is influenced and how our use of social media influences others, for good and for harm.
As believers, we must consider how we're using our time and talent within social media to point others to the Gospel. Facebook was an effective platform for my writing, but I felt such a strong tug of the Lord to leave, I know He will provide another way. He doesn't need Facebook, and neither do I.
I left Facebook a couple of months ago. My biggest concern was the loss of connection with old friends, people I didn't want to lose touch with. I found that I haven't lost touch with anyone. Those real friends are readily within reach via text or email, and since I simply deactivated my account, I can still reach people on Messenger. I will eventually delete it, my messenger activity is less and less. Another concern was all the photos and some messages I didn't want to lose. You can download everything in a file. Easy peasy!
I can honestly say that I am utterly relieved to be free of Facebook. I'm not trying to convince anyone to leave, but if you're on the fence about leaving, I encourage you to take the leap into freedom.
Free is the best word to describe how I feel.
*I still use Instagram...very sparingly. It's easier for me to scroll past photos. Instagram also tells me when I'm all caught up so the rabbit hole syndrome is solved. I changed all of my settings to make my profile private, but I connect to other writers there, and that's been a positive benefit. For now, I'll stay there but who knows what the future holds.
Thursday, September 3, 2020
Monday, August 24, 2020
The transformation is complete.
I knew I was about to be transformed, but I thought it would happen with intention and awareness.
Ever since I found out I would be a grandma, I knew my heart was turning to mush.
I anticipated the feelings of overwhelming love.
I thought the transformation would happen when I held my grandchild.
It didn’t take that long…
I sat at outdoor church with my friend, her baby, and three-year-old.
I held the baby and watched her daughter play.
Her daughter found a pile of that soft, cool dirt that feels so nice on your feet.
She’d taken her shoes off and was running her toes through that wonderful dirt.
I encouraged her, “Is it soft? Doesn’t dirt feel good on your feet?”
Her mother wasn’t happy.
I was a little surprised when her parents whisked her away to clean her feet and hands.
I wasn’t surprised they’d do that, but it didn’t occur to me in the moment.
Then she was back in the dirt again, and I smiled, then caught myself.
What am I doing?
They just cleaned her up!
It was at that moment, I realized.
The transformation is complete.
There is nothing a little one can do that isn’t adorable.
They’re precious - especially when they’re covered in dirt when they shouldn’t be.
I didn’t mind.
I’m not mom.
It was a little taste of grandma-life—a spectacular freedom—undeterred by time or decorum or rules imposed by parentals.
The house my kids grew up in, fraught with rules and schedules, and “no,” is now grandma’s house.
The land of “Yes.”
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