Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Share Your Story : Heather

Today's story comes from one of my sweet friends Heather.  I have known Heather since I was little and we grew up going to the same church and youth group.  She has the most beautiful family and I am so blessed to know all of them.  Heather is full of courage and strength and despite the many trials she has faced she has an incredibly positive outlook on life.  She's a great mom and encourager and I can't wait for her to share her story with all of you!!

Tell us a little about yourself!  I was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and no matter where I've moved throughout my life, I've always ended up back here. My parents were high school sweethearts and even though they had their ups and downs, they taught me that when you make a commitment, you keep it. I have a younger sister who is married and they are the Godparents to my children (that's how much we love them!) Growing up was difficult, I was diagnosed with severe idiopathic scoliosis at 12 years old and put into a very uncomfortable and embarrassing back brace for 7 years. We made the best of it and I learned that if you want something bad enough, no matter what challenges you face, you can do anything you want to do with hard work, positivity and prayer. I LOVE to write, sing, design jewelry, laugh! I have so many hobbies, it's tough to list them all!! God and my dad have truly given me the mind of an entrepreneur. That gift, paired with my mom's non-stop positive attitude makes for an exhausting and productive combination! I LOVE being a mommy. I never knew how amazing it would be to actually have a child of my own and watch them grow and learn and become a...person! It is an incredible blessing and honor to know that God selected this child just for you. 

When was your first encounter with God and How did you become a christian? Who was influential in your salvation?  I grew up in church and my mom was the one who always took us. I remember singing in church all of the time and just adoring my youth group and the support and unconditional love I received from the people around me. After I was put into a back brace, I really started to worry about life, death and began searching for answers to the tough questions of WHY did God let this happen to me?!? I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior when I was 12 and was baptized at Salem Baptist Church. Somewhat out of fear, but I made the decision to follow Christ and since that time have learned that becoming a Christian is more about love than fear.  My mom was probably the most influential person when it came to my salvation. She “lived” her walk and that was the biggest influence to me when I see the person I've become today.
Tell us about a tough time/decision that you have faced- You know, it would have to be two things, the first would undoubtedly be my back brace years. I was in so much pain and people around me had no idea. I was picked on ALL of the time. It was just an awkward age anyway, but throw a big, bulky back brace into the mix - on top of that, I had to wear my mom's clothes because we couldn't afford to go buy a new wardrobe and those just are not the “best years” of a girl's life! But I learned SO much. I lost friends, because they were worried about what I had being “contagious” and it was different. But my mom would come back with “You are so lucky! Now you know who your REAL friends are and most people don't ever know that!” She was so right.  My “OMG Moment” had to be one particular day which had been extremely rough at school. I went into my room, cried and cried and threw my Bible on the bed asking God “why are You doing this to me?!” When I picked up my Bible, it was literally at the page that read “Who can straighten what God has made crooked?” I never questioned Him again. He knows what He is doing and faith is all about trust. Even though I still have moments of uncertainty, I always put my faith in God.

The second most difficult moment of my life was losing my mom. She only wanted two things in life: to go to Heaven and to be a grandmother. She got both in the same day. We had watched her go through a very painful cancer for 3 years. Night after night spent in the ER holding her hair as she threw up and waiting for help. It was just something no one should ever have to go through. To watch this woman who had taken care of us
and to feel so helpless as her child was unbelievably heart wrenching. Three years came and went and we had never left her side, not even for our 10 year anniversary. This was OUR battle and even if it was just a check up, we were ALWAYS with her at every appointment. The ONE night in 3 years my sister and I went to the beach to surprise our friends who just so happened to ALL be in town at the same time and share the news that I was pregnant, turned wrong over night. My husband and I were going to tell our family the news that weekend when I returned and mom was doing great, so we went. The next morning, we raced back home as my mom started to bleed out. I'll never, ever forget riding with my sister and two of my best friends as we flew back to the hospital, screaming into the phone as the nurse held it up to my mom's ear, “Mama, please don't go, you are going to be a grandma and I need you here!” Seconds later, my husband beeped in and told me that she had passed. As we pulled up to the hospital, I saw all of our friends and family lined up out front with arms opened wide and as I tearfully got into my dad's car, I looked at him and told him that I was pregnant. He had lost his wife and gained a grandson all in the same hour. It was so bittersweet.

How did God move through this situation?
  - Oh our God is a great and mysterious God! I have NEVER felt like more of a Christian than when I lost my mom. Heaven had become even more real and I could literally FEEL that “peace that passes all understanding” fight my human sadness! It was an amazing experience. Although going through a pregnancy and the realization of not having my mom to call and help me through a time in a girl's life when she needs her mom the most, I have become stronger and have grown into my role as a mother (on the job training!) I know where my mom is and I know I will see her again. There are moments when I am with my family and I get overwhelmingly sad because I feel like she is missing out on her grandkids and they will never know what an amazing grandma they had. But it all comes down to this: if God came to me and said “Ok, Heather, you can either have your mom back or leave her in Heaven” I honestly, would have to leave her where God needed her to be because He is all knowing. 

Through all of these trials and valleys I would write. My mom was a writer and taught me so much. But after having my first child, I went through a very low period and the realization that my mom was not coming back. Each day, I would write about the emotion I felt from resentment to hopelessness to regret, I was shocked at these feelings and that no one told me that I would go through this myriad of emotions! So, as I would find verses and prayers to comfort me, I realized that I had written a book. I slowly put it all together and started looking for a publisher. It got picked up and “The First 30 Days as Mommy” was released this year. I dedicated to my mom, of course, who taught me everything I know about being a mom. I pray that it helps other mothers through the toughest and most wonderful experience of their life!  Without going through these tough times, I would have never been able to share God's word with others who need it and that is what we are here for. 

Do you have any advice for someone going through a similar situation/circumstance? -
“Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5,6. That just says it all. No if's, and's or but's. Just trust plain and simple. We can beat ourselves silly trying to figure out the “why's” of life, but we never will. So don't waste your time asking why, spend your time seeking God's will and let Him handle the rest. You WILL have moments of anger and sadness and that's ok. Pray your way through it and repeat to yourself that you put your trust in Him. He will never forsake You.

Do you have any spiritual role models in your life? - ALL of my youth group leaders! Seriously. The Pressley's, The Andrew's, The McGeeHee's, The Cotten's, The Winstead's, The Jone's, The Hunter's, (oh gosh, if I leave anyone out, I will feel terrible!) But these people helped shape me into who I am today. I am AMAZED at the fact, especially after having kids and being so busy, that these self-less followers of Christ opened their hearts and homes to dozens of crazy teens without complaining or giving up on us. That is TRUE service to the Lord. 

What would be the one piece of advice you would give other young women? - I stayed a virgin until I was married and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Marriage is such a sacred and beautiful thing created by God, and He really does know what the best path is for us. Saving myself for marriage has created a bond with my husband that is ordained by God and so special that you really can only experience it if it you wait. It is SO worth i
t (difficult at times) but such a wonderful gift when you do!

What are some of your most favorite pieces of scripture and why?- Definitely Proverbs 3: 5,6 mentioned earlier. But I LOVE the verses in Isaiah, one in particular that my youth leader, Mark Pressley taught us “God sits above the circle of the earth”. Think about that. We didn't discover that the earth was round until 1492, but it was right there in the Bible the entire time!

“Be still and know that I am God” is another favorite that I try to practice daily! Just sitting, breathing and trusting in the Lord is amazingly comforting.

Thank you so much Heather for pouring out your heart with us today.  You are such a blessing to so many and I see so much of your loving and sweet mom in you.  Thanks for sharing your story!

If any of you are expecting or know a new mom, Heather's book - "The First 30 days As Mommy" is such a great book.  I know personally those first several weeks are definitely the toughest and I love how encouraging and totally relatable her book is.  Check it out here!!

Check in each Wednesday for a new story!!

No comments:

Post a Comment