Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2011

new year's plans

Today is Wednesday - that means it is Compelled. I am happy about that - it is always a highlight of my week. But it also means this week is going too fast! I am really enjoying Christmas break - no school, lots of parties and friends, seeing people we haven't seen in ages! We get back to the normal on Monday, so I am already getting lesson plans done, meals planned, and the next few weeks mapped out. I am also planning some longer-term things. We have a list (and yes, your name is probably on that list) of people to send all our info about South Sudan to. We are trying to get that list in order, figuring out the trips we need to make (Georgia, Ohio/PA, Ithaca, etc.), and getting a strategy in place for the support raising we still need to do. As you plan out this new year for you and your family, be praying about how that fits into your life.

There have been many people asking why. Why would we leave this country? Why would we got to a brand new country that is just de…

a gift

One of the benefits of doing all the counseling for World Harvest this summer was the friendship we formed with our counselor. This morning we took the hour long trek to Lee, Massachusetts to spend a couple of hours hashing through things with her and taking in her wisdom. It wasn't so much that we had big issues, but more that she is a person who has "been there, done that" when it comes to living in Africa, raising funds, being in the pastorate, and just the life that we lead in general!

She reminded me that I am not a complete failure in every aspect of life, and that some of these emotional swings I have are normal. (You hear that? I AM normal!) ;)

It comes from a snowball effect with emotions. I have a bad day with the kids and I must be a horrible parent. The next day school doesn't go as well as I wanted it to, so my teaching abilities are in question. Then someone decides to leave the church, so I must be the worst pastor's wife on the planet. …

a new song

"Parenting is the composing, the performing, of music, song upon song. Musicians play one right note after the next right note after the next right note. It’s not an erratic splattering of sound, a fickle, helter-skelter banging of random notes. Music has order. It is composed. Notes are intentional, considered, deliberate.

As music has rhythm, recurring refrains, order, so does peaceful parenting. One action thoughtfully follows the next action that wisely follows the next. Days of habits, fluid and lyrical, create pleasing harmony. Lives with known rhythms, thoughtful arrangements, sing.

I have flailed and I have failed.

But there is hope. Listen. Can you hear the serenade of His Kingdom? “Behold I make all things new (Rev 21:5). I am about to do something new (Isa 43:19).” We with shapeless, jarring songs may, thankfully, choose new songs."
Ann Voskamp

I am reading her book, One thousand Gifts right now, thanks to a recommendation from my friend, Jennifer. It is kicking…

Home!

This weekend I am going home. Well, at least to the home where I grew up. In all our moving around, I am not sure where real "home" is anymore. Maybe it really is where you hang your heart, and that is not just a cheesy hallmark expression? I think perhaps I am just longing for Heaven one day when I think of home. But that's not what this post is about...

I am going to see my sisters!!! If you have a sister, you probably know that there is no other bond quite like it in this world. We have been best friends and worst enemies at times in life (More the former than the latter in these "adult" years of life!) But no matter what, I always have loved them with an intensity that is real and steady. And I know they love me the same way. And I don't get to see them nearly enough, so I am so excited that all of us (including my sister from marriage, Gina) will be there this weekend - with all our families! (well, minus Shawn, who has to stay here alone - …

back to basics

This year has been a year of God stripping me down to my core at times. It has not always been a fun year - in fact many times it was down right rough. Between some intense counseling that was required to go the next step in getting to S. Sudan, the death of a young friend, the moving of our family (again), the adjusting to not one, not two, but three jobs (counting fund raising), and the re-entrance of an old relationship that was not always healthy and easy into my life recently, I feel like I am stretched to my limit. Yet in it all I see God's fingerprints.
The counseling that felt like another hoop to jump through was a time of acquiring real health and wholeness again. I gained not only a clearer view of myself and God, but I also developed a new friendship with a Godly woman whom I trust and who "gets me." (That feels hard to come by, sometimes!) The death of one young man lead to the eternal salvation of another and the chance to tell of what the amazing c…

Creative waiting

I feel like I should be posting in something profound in this blog, because it has been a while (it's been a LONG while since I've actually posted something profound! LOL!) But the truth is, my mind is not working in that mode these days! I am simply trying to focus on the every day, each moment, and trust and enjoy. (I guess if I could actually do that it would be considered pretty profound, no?)
Today is the beginning of December so the kids and I are doing a count down to Christmas like we do every year. A couple if years ago my sister in law sent us a long string of pretty envelopes to open each day with fun activities to do. Unfortunately those envelopes were destroyed in storage (I was so sad!) so I had to come up with my own ideas this year. I wanted them to be fun things to do together, but also to have much of the focus on being generous.
Last night at Compelled we talked about being generous financially. As we are in the process of raising support to go to…

Thanksgiving

As I sit in my in law's house smelling the turkey cooking, listening to the kids playing, and feeling content it is easy to give thanks and to genuinely feel thankful. However, just a few minutes ago I was playing the piano and I came across "Blessed Be Your Name." The songs talks about choosing to praise God and be thankful for who he is regardless of circumstances. "Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering, when there's pain in the offering, blessed be your name." It goes on to say, "You give and take away, my heart will choose to say blessed be your name." That is not me. Not naturally anyway. I can see how quickly I go from "Blessed be your name" to "woe is me!" There is no thanksgiving in the times that I am sick and in pain. No praising him when the car is not working again. No offering up thanks to God for his sovereignty and grace when the kids are struggling with their faith or feeling hurt and …

Thanksgiving dinner around the world

Tonight we have our second annual Thanksgiving Dinner for international students at Compelled. Our team in South Sudan is also having their Thanksgiving extravaganza today! I am thinking of them and praying for them as I cook one of the four 20+ pound turkeys we will be serving up tonight! In S. Sudan they are eating chicken (no turkeys to be found this year) and playing games outside. In another year or so we will celebrate our first Thanksgiving in S. Sudan, and it will be as foreign to me as tonight will be for these international students. With that in mind I look forward to welcoming them tonight, sitting and talking to them, hearing what they think about their first American Thanksgiving dinner (Surprisingly many of them were not huge fans of turkey last year - but they LOVED the pies!) Pray for this amazing outreach if you have a chance - our percentages of people who do not know Jesus yet are high at this event! And pray for the S. Sudan team as they devour chicken, play…

Highs and lows

Many of you have been asking about how things are going in our lives. With two churches, raising support for South Sudan, homeschooling 4 kids, and just plain life - I have to admit there are times when I wonder, "What are you thinking, Lord?" We have definitely had our emotional ups and downs recently. To keep it real, here are a few examples:

High - Compelled. Period. Each week I am blown away by what God is doing in this church. I LOVE the people and the honesty and the rawness of it all. I so desire to see this be a self supporting, strong beacon of light in this community. (By self supporting, I mean financially, certainly not without God!) This has been one of those areas in our lives where God proves that He really does know what is best for his kids and he is in control, even when things seem bleak. We are now stressing keeping our eyes on him and not forgetting that he brought us here, he built it, and he will sustain it if we are faithful to remember that …

Fair Trade and yummy support

Well, yummy if you like coffee - which I don't really. But I appreciate this company that allows missionaries who are raising support and families wanting to adopt to use their website and resources to raise funds! At Just Love Coffee Roasters out of Tennessee, you can buy fair trade coffee from all over, apparel, mugs, and equipment. And if you go to our store front through them to do it, we receive a portion of the proceeds to our fund at World Harvest. The store is justlovecoffee.com/shawnheather96 - check it out!

RJ's Broken Heart

Each year for the past 5 years on Halloween I remember something that took place on this day - RJ had his broken heart fixed! When he was born he had two holes in his heart - ASD and VSD. We were so thankful to be in the Cleveland area near Rainbow Hospital and one of the top heart surgeons for this type of surgery. His doctors and nurses were amazing. We lived for 6 months with the holes and the meds, but when it was clear they would not close on their own and that he was not growing the way he should, they scheduled surgery. I will not go into that day of sitting in the waiting room knowing my son's heart was only beating from a machine - I have blogged about that before! (Probably several times, since each year I remember this!) But as I was thinking about going into my usual, purposeful month of thankfulness tomorrow, I realized that this day was a wonderful start for me! I am so thankful for this this little guy that brightens our days with his smile, dimples, sparklin…

zoo day

My Anna's birthday is the end of this month. When I think about her being born in Buffalo, NY it is crazy to look at our life since then - she has been a nomadic child, that is for sure! Because the end of the month is going to be busy, and because Shawn's parents are coming for a few days then to celebrate, we decided to go today to the zoo, because that is what she wanted to do.

Yesterday I was praying that God would grant us favor with weather today, because it was calling for thunderstorms and nasty weather. In the night when I woke up it was storming, and by morning as I dragged myself out of bed in the cold, damp day I thought, "This day is going to be a bust!" But I packed lunches and we headed out in the rain. Halfway there we could see blue skies, and by the time we got to Syracuse it was a beautiful fall day! The morning rain had kept most people away, and the day ended up being gorgeous! Also, because it was not too hot, the outdoor animals were wi…

Where the Spirit of the Lord is

On Wednesday night at Compelled the Spirit moved in our small group in a way He had not yet done.  There was openness, honesty, tears, repentance, forgiveness, prayer, and confession.  There were hugs, love, acceptance, and laughter.  There was freedom.

God has freed me in my life and  I have sensed this year that he wants me to really start sharing this freedom with others.  There was a time in my life when I couldn't stay alone without going into panic attacks.  For many years I was so terrified of the dark that I slept with the TV or some other source of light on.  I feared things in the spiritual realm in ways that were unhealthy because I believed a bunch of lies.

God has set me free of those things!  The last year I have felt that God was impressing on me the idea of steadfastness and perseverance.  Recently the word that comes to mind when I am talking with people, praying, or meditating on his word is freedom.

Do you know how many people I come across each day that are in …

Team work!

I have been so blessed this week to have our dear friends Althea and Carl from South Africa here this week!  Althea is a missionary to Malawi, and was basically a lifeline for us while we were there.  When we were dropped in the middle of Africa with no team on the ground, few earthly possessions, and no clue about life there, she was the person that took charge.  After about 5 weeks on the ground and feeling like we were banging our heads against the wall with work permits, building permits, and orphanage legalities  (not to mention just adjusting to life unlike anything we had experienced before) Shawn finally said to one of our pastors, "Take me to a mzungnu!"  (White person!)  They went to the place where Althea was, and our life started to fall into place a little bit from that point on!  With no vehicle, she took us to the stores.  With no idea of what good prices were, she helped us bargain.  She helped in choosing trustworthy people to work in our house and on our pr…

Just the facts, please!

Ok...so here are the facts!
Shawn and I have been accepted as missionaries with World Harvest Mission (whm.org - look it up!) This is the mission that we have been working with for the last year and a half.  When we went to Sudan and Uganda last year, it was for the purpose of envisioning ourselves there, as part of a team doing God's work.  We loved both places and teams, but felt the fit with Sudan was perfect.  So we attended Assessment and Orientation.  Well, we attended Assessment.  It turns out that we needed to work through a few things still in counseling.  Not one big thing, but a lot of little things.  At first we were taken back by the whole thing...we felt a little humiliated and our pride was wounded.  Yet in it all God proved that he is good.  (Why do we always question that?)  The counseling was amazing and it came at a time that it was definitely needed for us - as we worked through our friend Anthony's death.  Counseling aside we did the MMPI test again and, a…

seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God

You know how you go back to placed where you have spent some time, and there is a distinct feeling that goes along with that place?  We have moved around and visited a lot of places - each of those places hold a place in my thoughts and emotions.  Some wonderful and some that have pain involved - but all are a part of making me who I am.
When Shawn and I were first married we lived in the Philly area.  Shawn had lived there before he met me, and then moved back there for a few months before we were married.  We loved living there!  We were young newly weds, and we spent any free time we had exploring the area - both the touristy spots and the spots that only the locals can tell you about.  It's funny - for being one of the oldest places in the country, it represents new beginnings and fresh starts to me!
And now there is another layer to that.  We are back in the area this week to attend orientation at World Harvest to start preparing to head (hopefully) to South Sudan.  I am no…

MMPI - the results are in! ;)

Yep...Shawn and I had to take that wonderful test again recently.  The results are in...and Shawn had results this time!  :)  When we went over then with the counselor I had to laugh.  Being a psychology major in college I think I have done every personality and psychological test there is.  Many times I think we read into them what we want to see, and I am not so sure how much stock to put in them.  But this one...well, the results were scarily accurate!

The counselor says, "So Heather, your results all came back within the normal range [really?!?!] but it does show that you are prone to outbursts of anger and can have an addictive personality.  What do you think of that?"  What do I think of that?  Pass the chocolate and get on with it,  Mr. Shrink!  (OK...so I didn't quite respond that way!)

These last few weeks  I have struggled with numerous outbursts of insecurity, anger, pride, impatience, and selfishness.  There is no real reason for this other than the simple fa…

This little piggy went to...Compelled

Last night was our Pig Roast for Compelled. We named the night "Beat the Rush" because our hope was to literally beat rush starting on RPI campus, but we didn't manage to do that!  We still had a tremendous turnout and a lot of fun.
Compelled has proven to be quite different from any other ministry we have done before.  We have a conglomeration of people from different backgrounds, churches, places in the world, and personalities - yet it seems to come together well.  Last night was only possible with help from most of the people involved in Compelled and Green Hills, many from out church in Schenectady - Carman Road, a few musicians and friends from Pineview and Oaks of Righteousness, and some people who helped out (and let us borrow a tent and sound system) from Hope UMC!  I love watching the body come together for the purpose of getting HIS love out there instead of focusing on our own things.
Shawn stayed at the church the night before along with two of our kids and …

being swayed

(Word of warning:  This is a very fragmented blog today as I write down my thoughts without any real concrete answers and no worries of the writing.  Feel free to comment to me and let me know your thoughts!)


It is very easy for us to speak and theorize about faith, but God often casts us into crucibles to try our gold, and to separate it from the dross and alloy.  Oh, happy are we if the hurricanes that ripple life's unquiet sea have the effect of making Jesus more precious.  Better the storm with Christ than smooth waters without him."  (Madcuff)


This was the devotion for yesterday from "Streams in the Desert."  I had to think through that last line as I was reading last night and spending some time trying to quiet my heart from the day.  During the actual day while the hurricane was hitting did not cause anxiety.  I rather enjoyed the day of watching the winds and rain. We lost power and (after adjusting our minds to no technology) we enjoyed each other and had a …

Inclining my ear

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.  Isaiah 55:3
Last week my kids were at Cousin Camp (a week of fun that Shawn's parents put on for their grandchildren) and so it was Shawn and I here all alone all week.  The year before during CC I had made plans with a ton of people that I figured I could get together with easily without kids.  This year my life has changed so drastically with John being able to stay home with the other kids that I didn't feel the need to use all my "kid-less" time catching up and meeting with people.  I didn't even honestly feel starved for a "Date night" because we are able to have a lot more alone time now - though we did go out a few times with each other and with friends.  My one desire as I was looking at a week away from the responsibilities that come from being mom to four was the chance to sit and read my bibl…

Closer to 40

So, tomorrow I turn 37.  Age is a funny thing.  People have been reminding me that 37 is closer to 40 than I was before (thank you for the lesson in OBVIOUS!)  As far as I can tell, I like getting older better than the alternative, so I will take it.  It has been fun to be in the two churches we are in.  At Compelled in Troy I would be considered one of the "older" people, where as when I walked into Schenectady last week one of the women said, "Hello there, young lady!"  (And she meant it!)  I was thinking about it all this week as I get ready to "move closer to the 40 mark" tomorrow and I had to smile.

Turning 30 was rough for me - I felt like I was hitting a time in my life when I should have done some things that I was dreaming about, but hadn't gotten to a lot of them.  Life had gone from college time to marriage to babies and diapers and all the chaos that is comes with that.  When I look over the last decade (when I was turning 27 and hitting t…

Sweet reminders

Shawn and I have had family and friends here for the past couple of weeks and I have been soaking it in!  My sister and her three kids are here right now - they leave tomorrow and we have had a really fun time!  It has been good for the kids to spend some time with cousins that they see far too little and to just enjoy some of the blessings that we have and forget about.  We have been swimming at Rosina's and remembered that wonderful gift of friendship and her unselfish gift of opening her house up to us all the time!  We have been to the Pinebush Nature Center, and I was reminded that this is a beautiful place to live and explore (despite the snow that is going to far far too soon!)  We spent the morning at the Schenectady Church and I was reminded of what a wonderful new church family we have inherited in this place.  We have spent the last several days running in the sprinkler, sleeping all over the house in forts and tents, eating many chaotic meals in the dining room, and do…

Beautiful Things

"All this pain -I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth - Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around - Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You"
-Michael Gungor

I love this song.  It so expresses many of the ideas I have been thinking through recently.  Shawn and I have been going through some counseling as we look at going back down to Philly to meet with WHM again for missions stuff.  I thought it was another hoop to jump through - I mean how often can one talk about their past and the way it affects them today?  However, as I have wandered through my history in my mind and in talking with Barbara I have seen exactly how much God takes old, broken, dry ground and is making a beautiful thing out it. …

joy and pain

Birth of a new nation!

Pull out the noise makers and the party hats...you have an excuse for birthday cake and ice cream!  On Saturday, July 9th South Sudan becomes the 196th nation of our world!  Instead of repeating all the info that has already been said much better than I can say it, please read some of the blogs highlighted on the side bar of my blog - they will give you much information and an introduction to some really amazing people!

music and nature

Our family is finding a couple of hobbies this summer that we can do together and all enjoy - music and nature!  It has been a fun summer for me because all of our kids are finally old enough to go on real hikes and not complain (too much) or need to be carried!  We have done a lot of exploring this new area we live in and are finding a ton of cool, beautiful, fun places.  We haven't done anything too extreme, but getting in a couple of hours in the woods, playing in the streams on the way, finding crayfish, watching animals, and looking at different things in nature has been a wonderful time for us.  And we are all getting good exercise without thinking too much about it.  That is one of my goals for this family - good habits to keep our minds and hearts healthy and active! 
This summer has also been a time of discovering a love for musical things!  I play the keyboard and love it. But I have to admit - now that I am planning and playing at two worship services a week, much of th…

fragrant

I am sitting here smelling the delicious scent of Cornell BBQ chicken wafting through the sliding glass doors as my hubby is slaving away over the grill! ;)  It reminds of our theme this year for Alliance Women which is "Simply Fragrant!"  I was thinking about smells I like and why I like them.  Some of them are just simply enjoyable smells - the chicken (or anything on the grill!) for example!  I love the smell of Dove soap because it takes me back to my great-grandmother's house where I always felt loved and safe.  The smell of chocolate is a happy smell...I think living near the Hershey Chocolate World would be a fantastic thing!  I love the smell of the body mist I get from Bath and Body- and Shawn loves that smell on me!  The smell of freshly cut grass alludes to beautiful summer days.  And sometimes I will even put sunblock on in the middle of the winter just to close my eyes and pretend it is nice out! 
Other smells are not necessarily "good" smells, bu…

NED AWM of CMA love our IW's TCKs! ;)

This weekend I spent time with some wonderful women in the Northeastern District (NED) learning how to be a better leader in women's ministry.  The denomination that we are in is the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA for short) and the women's ministry is called Alliance Women Ministry (AWM to make things easier).  I am the new district chair for Third Culture Kids (TCKs-well, you know) which means I help match up the kids of our international workers (IWs -we like acronyms, what can I say?) with churches here in this district to be "adopted" and cared and loved on while they are part of a ministry family overseas.  As the new chair of the TCK ministry, I get to be a part of something that I understand from both sides.  When we were overseas it was such a blessing when people remembered my kids in special ways.  Whether it was stickers in a card, a picture or a big package at the holiday time or just to say "I love you" it was always an occasion t…

Five Rivers

This afternoon, in the heat of the day, we went hiking again at Five Rivers Park.  We also went to the visitors center and learned that the name is somewhat deceiving - it comes from the five major rivers in the AREA, not the park!  (I won't try to name them!)   The park itself only has two streams running through it, and several little ponds.  But it is still a wonderful place! Last night we went in the evening and walked around the Beaver Tree Trail.  We went back today with a couple of backpacks full of sunblock, bug spray, waster bottles, and snacks.  (The important things in life!) 
It was such a fun day.  We hiked the trails, saw many animals, waded in the stream, and had a lot of fun just sitting and watching as the kids played.  It was nice not to feel rushed or to feel like I needed to "keep moving!"  I often have a hard time letting the kids explore because I want to get to the next thing - whatever that may be.  Kinda like life for me, I guess.  I am learning …

how's it going?

It's been a while, so I feel like I should write something - but honestly I am not sure what!  :)  Things are going well in this new life that we are living.  It has been wonderful to get to know our new church family.  Today Shawn baptized a young woman who has started attending the church with her kids.  RJ and Andrew have taken a special liking to her son, who is about RJ's age - and it is wonderful to see RJ wanting to hang out with his new friend!  (He is just getting to that age where he is even interested in that!) This week I took Anna over to someone's house and we played Chinese Checkers and went for a walk to break up the monotony of living in an assisted living place for her.  Next week Anna is going to help another older woman weed her rock garden.  John and Anna have both been helping out in Children's Church and they are doing an amazing job!  It is so much fun to see them involved in people's lives and enjoying doing ministry.  Tonight they headed o…

Schenectady = heaven? ;)

So it's May 22 and we are still here.  Not that I thought it would be different, though it is wise to remember that day will come sometime! In that spirit the kids and I had a fun talk at breakfast yesterday.
They have been around and heard people talking about the end of the world - at church, with friends, etc.  So I asked them, "If Jesus were to come back today, how does that make you feel?"  I got a couple of nervous smirks and a giggly "I don't know."  So I encouraged them to be honest because there can be no wrong answers when you ask someone how they feel about something.  Eventually we got around to talking about being nervous because we don't really know what heaven will be like.  We had some fun discussions on that one:  No, we will NOT turn into angels, they are created beings and we have the ability to choose to love and serve God where as they don't; We will be "caught up together with them in the clouds" (1 Thessalonians 4:17…