Raised to Life from Prison

photoI’ve kept this photo for awhile, just taking it in because it really chokes me up. But now I want to share it with you and write about it.  This was taken by Tiffani Dhooge, it is Pastor Kory Cassell baptizing girls at our CBG Correctional Facility.  If you look closely, you’ll see a bandage on her wrist.  That is because she tried to take her life.  You can deduce from this picture that she is young, and in prison.  And for reasons none of us may never know, she didn’t want to live anymore.  But she didn’t succeed in taking her life, and now, she has been raised to life! Does that choke anyone else up but me??  She is STILL waking up with breath!! She can still make a comeback!! There are still pages that get to be written in her God-story by God, Himself! We don’t know this girl, but He does! And He loves her!  And she didn’t let her setback keep her from a comeback!  Today, we all need to keep going, and pause to celebrate the fact that she did.

Be Interrupted

As Jesus hung on the cross, He allowed the last minutes of his life to be interrupted because the person hanging on the cross next to Him, needed Him. The authorities called this person a criminal. God would call this person his child. And since God sent his Jesus to seek and save lost children, the last moments of His life were interrupted to save one more, on a cross next to Him. On the cross, Jesus was in physical, mental and spiritual hell–-understandable, his focus could have been on himself. But it wasn’t. We have the opportunity to be interrupted every day. We run errands and pass a homeless person. We order coffee and stand by others waiting for theirs. We accept a package from the UPS guy who we could invite to church. We’re on our iPhone and our child wants to climb in our lap. So much to do every day, and in that, so much opportunity for interruption. The bible says we are made in the image of Christ–so we are like Him when we allow interruptions. If I get annoyed about being interrupted, I need only to remember Jesus was interrupted in Heaven, to be born on Earth. And He would have done it for me, if I were the only one on Earth to do it for.

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The Story of Marriage

3d_mock_som One year after Raul and I were married, was when I went certifiably crazy and wanted out.  It was a double-whammy for Raul. With great courage and faith, Raul stayed committed and God got us through that scary storm.  I talk to people often who are struggling in their marriages, and I feel for them, because I’ve been there. One thing I try to do for them (in addition to pointing them to Christian counseling) is point them to resources.  Because Raul and I needed BOTH during that storm.  John and LisaBevere have come out with a GREAT resource for marriage!!!! And they should! Because they have been committed to theirs for over 3 decades!  Today, I am giving away 4 copies of their latest book, “The Story of Marriage.” They write, “How did we lose touch with this profound love story? In The Story of Marriage, we invite you to rediscover God’s original plan. Whether you’re married, single, or engaged, your story is a part of His.”  The first 4 people who email me at Heather@WondHerful.com will receive this book. God’s best to you…and your marriage!

Dream a Dream

Dreams are interesting to me. I’ve chased dreams–-I chased a dream guy for six years, only to learn he would never let me catch him. Throughout high school, I dreamed of getting nominated to homecoming court, I never was. These were things I dreamed about…day and night. Even prayed for! But they never came true. I think it’s good (& biblical!) to dream. But we can’t live there. There’s got to be balance. If we live on a dream and it doesn’t come to pass, does that mean we die with it too? I don’t want to be a Debbie-downer about dreams, but I don’t want to be a fairy on a unicorn either. I’ve learned to capture it this way: dream as high as the sky, and keep my toes in the Earth of reality.

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How to Travel With God

photoToday, Raul and I took Andy to school.  As Raul drove, I took this pic and hashtagged it #PreciousCargo. In my weird head it got me thinking of that old bumper sticker, “God is my co-pilot.”  You know, He really isn’t.  God is THEE pilot because God is all we need. When Raul is Andy’s proverbial pilot, Andy trusts Raul implicitly from  the backseat. As a child, Andy doesn’t pull annoying “back seat driver demands,’ why would he? He’s not the driver and he knows it!  As a child, Andy only wants to know one thing, “Are we there yet?”  I didn’t realize how much we could be like Andy in the backseat when it comes to living our lives; but because of our adultness, we don’t. We tell the Driver what to do.  We get mad when He doesn’t.  We aren’t very good at being kids in the backseat of God’s car, but we’re great at being the experts. They say, “Life’s a journey.” I agree with that. But I think the journey is best when we let God be THEE driver, as we maintain our childlikeness from the backseat: comfortable, trusting and just wondering once in awhile, “Father, are we there yet?” :)

LeadHership Lost, WondHerful Gained

heatherIt was a big violation. After years of amassing a generous network on Twitter and Facebook; after five years of blogging 1-minute posts…it was all gone. In one big hacking maneuver, someone succeeded in eliminating my presence on social media and my personal blog. For a week, at the expense of forsaking family, sleep, and eating, I grieved, obsessed and fought to get it back.  But it would not be.  It was gone. And unretrievable.  But the insanity it was costing me had to stop.  I started having serious prayer time with God. Not for everything to be restored. Not for justice to be served. Not for my perpetrator to come forward. Nope. I got down on my knees and prayed for one thing…”peace.” And God heard. And God helped. He slowly turned all this toxin in my body into His good. After that peace filled me, I was able to peacefully let go of what was rightfully His. Yep, I realized that too: my former “LeadHership” online presence was never mine to begin with. The Lord giveth..and the Lord taketh away. So that’s why you are here at “wondHerful.” Because after I learned to let go of one thing and give God everything, He gave me something. He’s good like that. And thank you for joining me here.

Life Can Break You, the Word Can Carry You

So I carry around this small dollar-store notepad filled with bible verses that carried me through a tough time several years ago. I wanted to crack it open and share some of what’s inside. Maybe what is on these pages that carried me back then, may help one of you if you need to be carried too.
I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
-Philippians 4:11
God is the lifter of my head.
-Psalm 3:3
And trust yourselves to the God who made you, for He will NEVER fail you.
-1 Peter 4:19b

He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the almighty.
-Psalm 91:1
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he saved them from their distress.
-Psalm 107:13-14
The Lord says, “let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”
-Psalm 107:2

But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you.
-Matthew 10:26

I prayed to the Lord and he answered me, freeing me from ALL my fears.
-Psalm 34:4

I refuse to be sad because the joy of the Lord IS MY STRENGTH.
-Nehemiah 8:10

I CHOOSE to stay in your presence and I am full of your joy.
-Psalm 16:11

I have PERFECT PEACE because my mind trusts God, His word and His promises.
-Isaiah 26:3

I give Jesus all my griefs and sorrows; I refuse to carry them anymore.
-Isaiah 53:4

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me,
-Psalm 138:8

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.