Heather is a pinkish/purple-y flowering plant that survives, and even thrives in difficult circumstances. Fittingly, this is something that others have said about me, as well.
Life has quite often felt desolate and lonely, yet, this is where God has planted me. In the barren plains of life, The Lord has called me to come alongside others in their loneliness and pain, and offer beauty and relationship, two of the most important ingredients in healing a soul.
I love words, and I love using them through writing or deep conversation, to help bring healing to people's lives, because that's where He's brought (and is still bringing) healing in my own life.
My life verse comes from the Message translation of Isaiah 58: 10-12 "Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight, I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places - firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again." I long for this restoration, inwardly and outwardly, to journey with people through empty places, to walk through the rebuilding process as they find healing and wholeness in Jesus.
A bit about my life...
I grew up on a modest 40-acre farm in Iowa. An only child, I had my parents' full attention and all their love. Home was safe. School was not. I was one of the oldest girls in my class, and also one of the biggest. I wasn't fat when I was little, but I certainly wasn't thin. I was teased, I had to wear the "Pretty Plus" sizes from Sears, which was mortifying. Being an only child meant my social skills weren't exactly....stellar. Let's just say, I wasn't one of the popular girls.
That was devastating to my tender heart, which wanted to be liked by all. I easily became a musician, excelling at piano and French horn, which brought me hours of solace in a whirlwind of heavy emotions and feelings of rejection from my peers. I never felt like I fit in. I'm not sure I would say I was a depressed child, but most certainly melancholy.
During those early years of wandering around our farmland, exploring the barnyard and every nook and cranny I was allowed in for a 1-mile radius from my house, I met the Lord in nature. I didn't know it then, but He was revealing Himself to me through the beauty of His creation, beauty that would later be balm for a wounded and broken soul.
I met Jesus my freshman year of college.
I was a music major at the University of Northern Iowa with big plans of world travel and fame (as much fame as a French Hornist can have, I suppose). I was also engaged when I went to college. I'd begun dating a young man from my hometown the summer before my senior year of high school. I hadn't really wanted to, but my mom and my best friend both said, "Just go on a date with him....you don't have to marry him."
Little did they know that three years later we would be walking down the aisle, saying our vows. After a rocky engagement and much doubt, I married a man I didn't want to marry, because I didn't know how to stop a wedding. I was all of 20 years old, a sophomore in college. We were divorced a few months before my 24th birthday.
I was still a baby Christian at that point. But I had started seminary to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. There was no one who ever truly mentored me in the faith. So here I was, a 24-year-old seminary student, and a Christian for barely 5 years.
Those were some of the best years of my life. I had my freedom, my friends, my coursework, and my whole future ahead of me. I was going to right the wrongs of my past. However, for the first time, during the second quarter of my second year of graduate school, I fell into a depression that nearly side-lined me.
I wanted to be dating, but wasn't. I thought that being a Christian was going to be easier. I thought things would work out. I thought this was going to be simple and straight forward because I thought I heard God call me to helping people through counseling and wouldn't He just pave the road ahead of me with opportunity and open doors?
That wasn't how it worked. At all. In fact, it was much the opposite.
I married again, two months after I graduated with my Master's Degree. Chris was a fellow seminarian who was studying Youth Leadership. I thought he was good for me: I was tightly wound, he was laid-back. I was an worrier, a performer. He was relaxed, and didn't worry about grades. He watched me run in and out of the apartment building where we both lived on campus, always going to the next thing. He hit golf balls in the parking lot with Frank Sinatra blaring from his rusted-out Nissan Pathfinder.
We'll be celebrating our 13th anniversary in a few months. I can't tell you how close we've come to not making it to this point. We've had so much to deal with in 13 short years.... terrible job struggles (early on we were unable to find good jobs), infertility, postpartum depression, job loss (Chris) and near financial ruin, sleep apnea and depression (also Chris), raging anxiety, anger, a second round of postpartum depression, and shall we just say more depression and anxiety (me) than I ever care to think about??
When Chris and I were planning our wedding back in 2004, me with my previous divorce, and he with some intense family issues, we agreed wholeheartedly that we wished for our marriage to be used by God as a testimony to what He is capable of doing in a couple's life. We were so naive. Even now, as I type these words, I'm stunned at all He's taken us through, and what all there is yet to come. Because I know more now than I did 13 years ago, I know that God can only show His power through broken vessels in need of His healing power, His grace, His restoration...not vessels who think they've got it all together.
God has pursued me relentlessly.
As I type these words, I feel it even more intensely. He has never let go. For as hard as I've tried to make my life work the way I've wanted, He's met me at every turn, thwarting me, in His mercy, in order to bring me to Him. He won't relent. He's freaking unstoppable. It's sort of overwhelming, to be honest. He won't leave me to my own devices. Apparently, He must think I'm worth pursuing.
Through the pain, the most important lesson I've learned is that my home is not here. Nothing here is as it should be, and the ache I feel to the very core of my being is sometimes more than I think I can handle. In recent months, my dear mentor has pointed out some Scripture that has quickly become something I return to daily:
"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:13-16.
As we walk one another Home, my hope is that this little corner of the internet and of my heart is a soft place for you to land on days when it feels like nothing is as it should be....nothing in your heart, in your life, in your head. Pull up a chair, I've got time to linger with you.
I pray that my words help your soul find it's Song.