Protection in the Storm

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael impacted my region approximately three short weeks after my last blog post. That experience had a lasting impact on me, and it has taken time to process how that disaster has affected so many, how I experienced it personally, and where God was through all of it. With the 2019 hurricane season now upon us, I want to share with you what God has been teaching me.

It all started with a dream…

Over the rolling hills, I flew. Swaths of evergreens intermingled with dots of yellow, brown, and red patches stretched as far as my eyes could see on that cool, Fall day. Below, thin strips of pavement snaking narrowly, disappeared and peeked through the surrounding green before weaving out of sight once again. Office buildings, universities, shopping centers, neighborhoods, and grocery stores poked through the natural colors in the patchwork beneath me.

“So beautiful,” I thought, gliding above, weightless and carefree. I squeezed my eyes tightly together, inhaling the air around me with tremendous happiness. I felt great pride knowing this beautiful area was my home. However, those feelings didn’t last long.

When I gazed upon the landscape below once more, I realized something was terribly wrong. Broken pine trees lay bent and bowed like crushed, thrown tinker toys. Buildings were collapsed. Roofs were torn, missing, and scattered across neighborhoods. I felt a lump in my throat and a heaviness in my heart. Destruction was everywhere.

As I floated above the more populated areas of my hometown, the devastation grew: twisted metal, fallen trees, bent fences, and broken lamp posts, snapped in half. Although, I couldn’t see the people below, I felt their sorrow as if it were my own. The deep sense of loss and pain, anxiety and depression, and utter hopelessness overtook me. In my soul, I knew what had happened — a powerful hurricane hit, and no one saw it coming. No one was ready for it.

Why weren’t they ready? I asked myself aloud, feeling utterly helpless. It wasn’t like we hadn’t experienced hurricanes before this one, but this one was…different.

I sped across the sky to my neighborhood, longing to know what had become of my neighbors and home. The long, winding road below, leading to the entrance of my street was covered in tree debris and limbs, rendering it impassible. Towering, ancient pines had destroyed many of the homes. Most of the houses had massive trees toppled across roofs, through living rooms, bedrooms, and garages. Cars in driveways were crushed, and their windshields smashed.

The scene was strangely still like a photograph. No one was standing in the roadways. No lights were on inside homes. No wind blew. No rain fell from the sky. It was as if the earth stood still. It all just looked so…lifeless. I choked back tears and covered my eyes.

“No more!” I whimpered as I felt a strange shifting sensation around me. The feeling was unfamiliar, and I felt uneasy. I held my hands tightly around my face, trembling until the sensation stopped; and although I didn’t want look, I opened my eyes.

I blinked several times, feeling disoriented at first, but quickly understood I was inside my home, standing in my bedroom. Before me, my husband and I lay asleep, unaware of the world around us. A sense of dread filled me, deep in my belly. I wanted to wake myself up, but I didn’t know how.

Wake up! I cried, but the sleeping bodies before me didn’t stir.

That’s when I heard it — a terrible cracking sound outside the bedroom window. Before I could react, the sound grew louder and was quickly followed with a tremendous thud and crashing noise inside the master bedroom. I turned away, cupping my ears to avoid the terrifying sounds.

Suddenly, it was silent again.

“No, no, no, no!” I yelled as I dropped to my knees, trembling. A seventy-five-foot pine tree had crashed through our master bedroom, straight through the center of our bed. The sight stole the breath from my body.

My eyes filled with tears as I cried, “No, Father. This can’t happen!”

Suddenly, the dream was over. I found myself awake, shaking, weeping, and extremely confused. I was in my master bed. My husband was sleeping soundly next to me. My home was intact. No tree had come through our roof or across our bed. We were safe.

There were three days left before Hurricane Michael could be at our doorstep, assuming it stayed along the same path it was threatening to take. I quickly thumbed through my smart phone to the weather app tracking the storm. No change. The storm was still heading North, but the forecast models appeared to be drifting slight West towards us.

Many thoughts swirled through my head. We had a friend coming from Texas to stay with us for a few days while she sold her house, and it looked like the hurricane bearing down upon us would arrive the same day she would sign her paperwork. What if she got stuck in town, unable to get back home to Texas for days or weeks? Losing power and water at our house was a certainty if the storm touched us at all. Should we stay in town? Should we evacuate? Should we go to my parents’ house? Should I convince them to leave too? What about elderly family members? It was all very overwhelming as the imagery and emotions of all I had dreamed played in my head over and over again on loop. Fear tried to take hold, and all I knew to do was pray.

“Father, turn this storm another direction. Fling it into the sea away from everyone, or drive it into open fields. Move it far from our town. Protect us. Your Word says You hear the cries of your children. Please hear me.”

In response, the Holy Spirit reminded me God is in control:

Matthew 6:25-34 TPT – “This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing? Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they? So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life? And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these! So if God has clothed the meadow with hay, which is here for such a short time and then dried up and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need—even though you live with such little faith? So then, forsake your worries! Why would you say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For that is what the unbelievers chase after. Doesn’t your heavenly Father already know the things your bodies require? So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

As I continued to pray, a sort of righteous anger rose up within me. It seemed the nightmare might be the Enemy or my own imagination trying to scare me into cowering and giving up authority in the spiritual realm, but I know our words have power in Jesus when we directly speak to things that try to come against us. Therefore, I spoke directly to the storm in a forceful whisper (trying not to wake my husband): “Go away! Dissolve! You can’t come here! May you be pulled apart like Hurricane Irma! You aren’t welcome here in Jesus’ name!”

When my husband woke up, I told him about my dream, including the tree that came through our roof. Surely, if a pine tree that size crashed through our home and into our bed, it would kill us where we lay.

We believed and agreed the storm would not hurt us if we asked our Father to cover us. Why else would I dream such a horrible thing if not to intervene? So we prayed. We prayed over our bedroom, every doorway, every closet, our kitchen, and our living room. We prayed for the large pine trees in our backyard and commanded them to remain strong and rooted. All the while, the Weather Channel in the living room displayed warnings across our television that Hurricane Michael was suddenly projected to reach a Category 5; and we were still potentially in its path.

Over the next couple of days, I experienced a mixture of faith, hope, and fear. I believed God would protect us, but the human side was still afraid. I kept seeing the dream in my mind as if it had actually happened in real life the way I saw it. Every time I saw the images, I prayed for God to move the storm, not just for us but our whole community.

The next day, a Wednesday, the storm hit. It wobbled unpredictably slightly to the right and to the left before the eye of the storm made landfall. My family and I sat huddled around the television, watching the storm. I was thankful my friend had gone back to Texas and was out of harm’s way. We stayed with my parents in case we needed to help each other for the next few days if we lost power.

I felt an odd peace, knowing although we were totally unable to control of the storm, the One who could control it knew exactly what would happen and where it would go. It may be a scary next few hours, days, or weeks ahead; but He was with us. I knew we were going to be okay, despite the fear constantly pulling on the deep thoughts in the back of my mind.

The next few hours were dark and noisy. The wind blew erratically and harshly. The trees bent and cracked. Limbs fell to the ground, roof, on the backyard fence, and across the neighbor’s cars. We lost power. We lost cell phone service, but our safety was never an issue.

When it was finally safe to travel across town once the storm had mostly passed, we made our way back home. The neighborhood was a mess. There were trees and yard debris everywhere. It was exactly what I dreamed. I tried to be brave and held back tears as we drove towards our home. Were our neighbors okay? Would there be a tree through our bedroom?

As we pulled into the driveway, all looked amazingly well with our home and property. It was a surprise to be honest. I almost expected a tree through my bedroom, but God is better than my fears and expectations. Nothing had damaged our home, and our neighbors were okay.

The next morning, my husband and I visited our house again and stood at the back door, watching the final lingering hurricane winds gust through the trees, when we noticed something we hadn’t seen before — a seventy-five-foot pine tree at the back of our yard, the very one that fell in my dream, had pulled

up at its root system and was leaning. It had fallen uphill (our bedroom was directly downhill), away from our house. Somehow (only God), the tree was securely nestled into the branches of a neighboring tree, keeping it from hitting the ground. The only threat posed now was damage to our fence and our neighbor’s fence. I was blown away. It was a true confirmation that God was working on our behalf to protect us. It would have surely crushed our bedroom, straight through our bed. I was in shock.

The next days were hot and tiring without air conditioning, but I was thankful. We were protected through it all, and we knew it. We learned as we

gained connection back to the rest of the world that we had missed a direct hit by the terrible center of Hurricane Michael by only a few miles. The areas that were directly hit were coastal towns. Many people had lost everything they had in the storm. My heart broke for them. It was difficult to see the images of devastation without wondering why they weren’t spared, and we were. But I know God’s heart weeps with us when we hurt and cry. A tragedy to us is also one to Him.

As I reflect on Hurricane Michael, I mostly remember God’s goodness, the kindness of neighbors, and the heroism of the first responders and linemen during and after the storm. I am still processing the grief and the chaos and especially my dream, but it was a clear reminder of the One who is always in control even when things look most uncertain. I don’t have to be afraid because He is with me.

If you’re facing a life-altering event or wondering if God sees you in the middle of a storm of life, I hope this post will encourage you. He hears the cries of His children; and no matter the outcome of whatever you’re going through, you can rest assured that He has you securely held in the gentle grip of His hand.

Sincerely,

Heather
Let Love Roar

Terror, Hope, and the Faithfulness of Friends

“When Jesus saw their [active] faith [springing from confidence in Him], He said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5 AMP

“I say to you, get up, pick up your mat and go home.” Mark 2:11 AMP

You never know important a tight-knit community of faith-filled friends who love you and pray for you are until you find yourself desperately needing them. That type of bond, faith, and honor is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. Over the last several weeks, I was reminded why God says our faith tribes are an essential. We need each other (Romans 12:4-5).

About a year ago, my husband and I visited a special beach where he had proposed to me several years ago. On that location, stood a towering, old bald cypress tree. A once vibrant, majestic tree was a reminder of the many years and tropical storms that had passed through the area. The tree’s roots were exposed, tangled, and broken. The needles were gone. The branches had been ripped from the trunk from the previous year’s storm, and the tree had finally died.

Determined to keep the precious memory of our special tree alive, we snatched a piece of it and brought it home, knowing Hurricane Michael, which was just a few days away from making landfall, would ensure we’d never see it again. It was a memento, a treasure we would never forget; and I had big plans to memorialize it.

One late afternoon, I used a small electronic sander on the tough bark of the tree piece to prep it for the art project I had planned. Brown dust thickly piled on the garage floor and my feet within forty-five minutes. I probably would have continued sanding the rest of the evening if allowed; but a loud thunderstorm (thank you, Jesus!) came out of nowhere, forcing me to stop as the lightning came dangerously close to the house.

Frustrated, I turned off the electric sander, peeled off the face mask and glasses, and sat down on the garage steps leading into the house. That was when I realized something in my body didn’t feel right. The air felt heavier than I remembered before sanding. My nose felt unusually congested, and I coughed repeatedly. I decided maybe my sinuses were just a little irritated but didn’t give it much thought.

The next morning, I woke up feeling like I had the flu. My body ached. I had chills. I was running a slight fever. My nose was totally stopped up, and I had a bit of a sore throat. That’s when I realized the horrible truth: I must have unknowingly breathed in some amount of bark particles.

I was scheduled to co-lead singing for worship at church that morning. I wondered how I would sing when I sounded like I had spent the night yelling at a ball game and smoking about ten packs of cigarettes, but I managed to struggle through the service. I didn’t feel right. What was happening to me? I wondered. How much bark did I actually breathe in?

That night I had terrible dreams, like I did for many nights to follow, about drowning. The following days weren’t much better than the nights. The flu symptoms died down; but within a few short days, I found myself gasping for air randomly throughout the day, stuck in a waking nightmare. It felt like an elephant climbed upon my chest and sat on me.

From that day through the many weeks to follow, I found myself at urgent care and the doctor’s office. They gave me inhalers and steroids and allergy medications. All the medicine helped me cope with the worst of the symptoms, but it didn’t stop them. I suffered continuous allergic asthmatic attacks, some of which lasted hours at a time. The worst days were filled with asthma-induced panic attacks and the long nights of dreaming about shadows chasing or strangling me (and a protective figure standing between me and my oppressors — was it Jesus?). My body was under attack and so was my now very weary spirit. To call those days and nights “hellish” would be too nice a word.

It’s in the moments like what I describe above, you find yourself thankful for the ones in your life who don’t give up and fight for you when you can’t fight for yourself. My husband spent many days and nights holding me and praying for me through the attacks and all the tears. Each time, when I said it was too much to go on, and I felt like I was not strong enough to fight for the next breath, he prayed. He asked God to bring peace and order to my body; and each time, the raging physical, emotional, and spiritual storm within me quieted. My tears stopped, and I rested.

I also have a small but mighty group of friends interceding and praying for me. I had dinner with one of my closest friends on a particularly rough evening. She saw my slumped posture and the sullen expression on my face (I was so tired of fighting for air) and declared health and wholeness for my body while we sat in the restaurant booth. She gripped my hands and prayed fervently, commanding the sickness to leave, not caring who was watching. Again like before with my husband, my body obeyed. The lung spasms stopped, and we had good dinner conversation that night. For several hours, I felt relief and peace.

The battle raged for a couple of weeks longer, and it appeared I was actually getting sicker instead of recovering. But the funny thing is, that’s often when God shows up — when things look most hopeless. I sat on the edge of my bed, late into a Tuesday night, wondering if I needed to go to the emergency room because I might die in my sleep. The next morning, I cried all the way to work. I was so tired. I couldn’t fight anymore, but the One who hears our cries and the prayers of faithful friends was fighting for me. And my friends were still interceding and praying for me daily.

That night, I stayed home from our monthly church dinner to rest. At the same moment I was praying Mark 2:5-11 over myself that evening, unbeknownst to me, my husband and my friends were praying the same scripture over me. I knew I couldn’t fight anymore. I couldn’t let fear control me either. I just simply prayed, “Lord, let me be restored because of the faith of my friends.”

Suddenly, it was like that bully-of-an-elephant moved from my chest. I began breathing deeply without even realizing it. Then it hit me — I didn’t need to fight for each breath! I was breathing without giving it a second thought! Something had changed. And I knew my friends had prayed, and Father God had answered that prayer for wholeness in my body.

When my husband returned home, it was confirmed: I had prayed for the faith of my friends to heal me, and my friends had prayed the same prayer. I was blown away. But was it true? Was I getting better?

Six days have passed, and I continue to improve with impressive speed. I no longer need the inhalers. I’m still on a low dose steroid per my doctor’s orders; but honestly, I don’t feel like I need it. I can laugh again. I can breathe again. I see hope again. And it’s all because of the God who hears the cries of His children and a small, but powerful group of faithful friends.

Be that kind of friend and change someone else’s life like they changed mine. I am forever grateful.

Love,

Heather

Comfort for Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

It has been seventeen years since the terrible day of 9/11. It is a day I will never forget.

There was nothing special about the day of 9/11 initially. In fact, I would consider it an extraordinarily ordinary

day. I was in the third month of my new career and busy sorting through stacks of printed manuals. I had the monotonous job of separating and rubber banding the manuals by hand. It wasn’t the most exciting task, but I did it with the enthusiasm of a college kid entering the workforce for the first time (because I was).

On the way to my desk that morning, I visited three of my coworkers in the second floor conference room. They were preparing a plan for coordinating communications with South Florida offices for a tropical storm that was projected to hit Cape Coral, Florida. A small, old television on a cart was displaying the latest news cast, as they hoped to get an update on the storm.

A little over an hour later, David, one of the three coworkers from the conference room, peeked around my cubicle wall. “Would you like to take a breakfast break and watch some news with us? We have some donuts and juice in the conference room.”

I shook my head, “No, thanks. I have twenty more of these manuals to go.”

David nodded and disappeared back into the upstairs conference room.

A few minutes passed, and I suddenly heard the hallway along my cubicle become strangely silent. There had been plenty of the usual busyness and movement just a few moments ago. The stillness caused me to get up from my chair and walk the length of the empty hall.

Where did everyone go? I wondered, peering into the empty offices.

Sensing it had something to do with the TV, I ran up the stairs to the conference room where my coworkers were watching the news. To my surprise, several coworkers from my floor were crammed into the relatively small conference room. When I approached the doorway, I was met with stares of shock and disbelief.

“A plane just hit the World Trade Center,” one of my coworkers said, trembling. For a moment, I had trouble comprehending what she said. The words seemed off. Something didn’t feel right.

Everyone in the room was now facing the television, and I suddenly began to understand. Heavy smoke billowed from the side of the North Tower where a commercial plane had hit it only moments before. The news reporters were scrambling to figure out what had happened — was it an accident? It must have been an accident.

As the live camera feed on the World Trade Center towers was focused on the damage done to the first tower, another commercial plane struck the South Tower. A collective gasp and sudden stunned silence filled the room. It was suddenly painfully obvious: this was no accident.

Without warning, the towers began collapsing. People were jumping to their deaths. It was the most horrific event unfolding before my eyes that I’ve ever witnessed. My shock and terror only deepened as I heard later that morning a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, partially destroying the building. And I felt those emotions again as I heard about the courageous lives lost when a fourth commercial plane was hijacked. The passengers on that plane refused to allow the evil men to reach the destination of Washington D.C. and crashed the plane in a field in Pennsylvania.

I don’t remember much else from that particular day. I cried off and on. Offices and businesses closed. Schools and colleges shut down for the day. For a few days, it seemed the world stood still. My young, barely 18-year-old mind could hardly comprehend what happened.

A few days later, school resumed; and I was in a math class. But it was no ordinary school day. It felt like no day would be normal ever again as a young woman sat beside me, sobbing uncontrollably. She kept apologizing for the inability to control her tears and explained that she was a stewardess who was assigned to one of the flights that was hijacked. She wasn’t feeling well that day and switched shifts with another stewardess who ended up dying on one of the planes. Other students tried to comfort her, as another student talked about a missing uncle for whom first responders were still looking under the piles of rubble at the site of the World Trade Center.

My family was spared. No one close to me was impacted, but as I learned in the days and weeks that followed, many other people in my social circles had people dear to them or close to their families who lost their lives. As a result, I was thankful, but also felt guilt. I felt numb. I felt anger. I felt helplessness. I was traumatized. But I’m sure the grief and trauma I experienced paled in comparison to those whom were affected that day. I can’t even imagine what they must have felt and still feel.

Every year is a reminder of those who were lost, and the lives they touched that day. My heart mourns for those who still experience painful memories and for those who lost friends and family close to them. However, I am also reminded God reigns and is sovereign during terrible events like 9/11 (Romans 8:28), and I can be a light to others in the midst of tragedy as I allow Him to fill the broken and confused parts of me and heal and, in turn, help others through the healing process.

We cannot change the past, but we are not helpless as lovers of Jesus. We can encourage those are struggling. We can pray for them and over them for peace. We can hold their hands as they go to counseling and therapy sessions. For

those who are tormented by memories, we can speak to the spirit of trauma and cast it out in the name of Jesus (yes, Child of God, you can pray for deliverance for the oppressed). We can intercede and agree for the Lord to bring strength and inner healing to the suffering. We can lead others to an encounter with the Lord by asking them to pray and ask Jesus where He was in the middle of the painful event. The peace and comfort people experience through this sort of encounter is often transformational by understanding that He experienced the event with them. They were never alone (Joshua 1:9).

And, heaven forbid, should another event like 9/11 come in the future, we can and must be the hands and feet of Christ. We must not be paralyzed.

“He heals the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

Who Does God Say You Are?

What lies are you believing that are holding you back from becoming who you really are? People who know Whose they are and who they are powerfully impact the world around

them in lasting, life altering ways (i.e. aiding in freedom from addictions, fears, relationship issues, lack of life purpose, self-worth struggles, etc.). Conversely, lies and half-truths we believe about ourselves can muddy the degree of our power and influence.

For years, I jokingly called myself “Peter the Doubter.” Yes, I know — the Bible never calls him by that name. I called Peter the “Doubter” because I identified with his character flaws. He could be fearful, insecure, and impulsive at times. He was the guy who sank when he stepped out of the boat because he took his eyes off Jesus while attempting the impossible. He also denied Jesus three times out of fear. Ouch! I can’t believe I declared those things over myself!

An interesting side note about Peter, although he was very flawed at times, he was a close disciple of Jesus and part of the inner circle. He was a natural leader. Jesus honored him and positioned him as the cornerstone of the Church, and he was given special tasks. Peter was the first of the disciples to receive divine revelation that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God. If only I could have seen those positive Peter character traits in myself instead of all of his flaws!

One day as I was sitting in a Sunday morning worship service at church, God got my attention about the lies I was believing. He tugged on my heart and asked me to sit quietly with Him. I heard Him clearly in my spirit. The room around me was alive with songs, people, and movement; but suddenly, it was just the Lord and I.

“Why do you call yourself ‘Peter the Doubter’?” Jesus asked.

Stunned, I sat there for a moment, unsure how to answer because it wasn’t something I had thought about in a while, and I was uncomfortably aware of how convicted I felt. Names are important to the Lord. The Bible is full of examples of names being used as prophetic declarations or revealing the nature of whatever is given its name. It knew the negative name was something God would never call me.

“I call myself Peter because I want to follow You, but I mess up a lot. You say to have no fear, to not doubt, and be full of faith. I doubt and second-guess everything. I can’t seem to stop myself from doing it no matter how many times I try or promise that I’ll do better. So, I guess I’m like Peter. I try to get out of the boat, but I sink.” I finally answered Him.

“You are not ‘Peter the Doubter’. You are ‘David the Warrior’.” Jesus declared firmly in my spirit. “Do not call yourself Peter anymore. That’s not your name.”

“David?” I repeated incredulously as tears filled my eyes. “He was the giant slayer and a mighty warrior. He was fearless. He was a great king of Israel. His bloodlines carried the promise of the Messiah.”

“Yes.”

“He made plenty of mistakes.”

“Yes.”

“But You called him ‘a man after your heart’.”

“Yes.”

I was overwhelmed and thankful for the tissue box underneath the church chairs. God just wrecked me.

“Write the ‘David’ inside the cover of your Bible so you will see it every time you open it. It will remind you who you are,” He instructed.

I grabbed the pen from purse and wrote “You are David, the Warrior. Love, God.” on the inside of my Bible.

That conversion with God has left a lasting effect. When I face trials or scary moments in life, I am reminded of David’s courage and love for the Lord. I’m reminded to stand firm and be bold. It’s the reason why my blog is now called “Love Roars.”

So, I’ll ask again — what lies are you believing about yourself? Do you speak harshly to yourself? Do you condemn yourself? Do you call yourself by the wrong name? If the answer is yes, find a quiet space and spend time with the Lord. Ask Him who/what He calls you. It will change your life.

Love,
Heather

Testimonies: Heart Palpitations Gone

Our God is still in the healing business! I’ve had heart palpitations and nerve ending issues since 2012. I was told I’d probably have it the rest of my life.

Since then, many close friends have prayed for my heart. About five weeks ago, the symptoms disappeared. I had been experiencing palpitations every

few minutes, every hour, every day. Suddenly, they were gone. The nerve ending issues also disappeared. It went from burning, tingling hands and feet and random sharp pains to none at all. I’ve been able to stop taking supplements to help with the misfiring nerve issues.

I went to the doctor on Friday and had an EKG done like I do every year. No heart palpitations were evident, and my heart showed “normal for my age range”! The nurse looked stunned and seemed genuinely shocked!

Nothing has changed with my medications for these improvements to occur. I just started getting better. I’m praising God for this miracle! He is so good to me.

I hope this encourages you if you’re waiting for your own miracle. ♡

– Heather

Finding the Gold

Starting a Journey
Over the last few years, the Lord has taught me about the importance of being a leader in different capacities of life. Honestly, it’s not a role I ever

aspired to become or wanted. Maybe that’s why He continuously draws me to do it? The role of a leader is a continuation of a theme in my life to become more engaged with a community of believers, understand the value of getting involved in messy relationships, and embody the call to build each other up. The goal of sharing my journey is to inspire you, fellow future and current leaders, to “find the gold” (recognize and encourage the strengths of others around you within your sphere(s) of influence).

About five years ago, I was living within my fairly comfortable bubble of shy introversion. I had the same small group of friends and the same familiar routines of life; but, as is often the case, God had other plans. That was about the same timeframe I began going to a new church and shortly after God had intervened in very real way in my life. God was setting me up for growth and self-discovery in ways that I could have never imagined.

Becoming a Spiritual Mother

My new church became home for me. It’s my family. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It’s where I first encountered other people who are sensitive to the voice and move of the Presence of God and obediently respond. It was also where I was first called a “spiritual mother” (the first role of leadership that God would quickly instill and develop within me). The person who gave me that informal title was a young leader within my church; but, when he said the words to me — “God is growing you as a ‘spiritual mother’ and your husband as a ‘spiritual father'” — I laughed. I thought at the time he was mistaken. I told myself I didn’t have the personality to raise up other people, nor did I want to do it. I was not a mentor or a coach. But God was speaking truth to me through that church leader that day. His words spoke to the deepest parts of my heart, and he was absolutely right. God was about to show me the awakening of my true identity.

Awaking the Passion of Discipleship

The same year I joined my new church, I had the amazing honor of mentoring a close friend who was a new follower of Jesus. I had no idea where to even begin growing someone else in their spiritual walk, but the more I asked the Lord to guide our daily interactions, the more He provided opportunities. As a result, we both grew; and I discovered a passion for teaching about the Word of God and discipling others.

Shepherding and Coaching

A year later, I became a supervisor in a new career. Supervision wasn’t something I looked for, but it was something that found me at the right time. I agreed to do it, knowing it was

going to challenge me in uncomfortable ways. I had to be assertive and confident. It demanded the best qualities from me: grace and mercy; tenderness; modeling the right attitudes and responses to difficult situations; dealing with conflict; working alongside my employees and serving their needs; but, most importantly, shepherding and coaching.

In the moments when I felt like I was failing, God used my manager who hired me to push me further. She saw the gold within me and knew what I could become. Over the next three years, I grew into the role until finally one day, I felt like I was beginning to understand the most basic levels what being a leader actually meant.

Leading Others through Worship

The past two years have rapidly accelerated the growing process for becoming a leader. I left my supervisor job for a different role that no longer required the management of people. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved. Supervising people can be tough! But if I thought I was done with leading, I was

mistaken. Again, God had other plans.
I joined the temporary choir we had a church for about a year (our praise band took a temporary hiatus). I never sang in front of other people before that point. A few months later, I was asked to lead worship for a few songs. The act of leading worship radically shifted my perception of how to guide others into an encounter with the living God through words and songs.

The year before I joined the choir, I had a dream about singing and leading worship at church in the setting of a worship team. I truly believe the Lord was using that dream to prepare my heart and teach me boldness for the next step — co-leading worship as part of our newly revived praise band. What an immense blessing it is to see other people connecting with God in their own ways as they sing with us. It will mess you up in all sorts of good ways to see people singing their hearts out, crying, and praying during worship. It’s all for the glory of God, and has very little to do with me. I would not consider my singing particularly remarkable. I just have to be obedient, and God will use it.

Putting it All Together

Most recently, God provided opportunities to lead other young leaders within a small group and within my other spheres of influence.

The Lord is using the skills of leadership He’s been honing within me for the benefit of the Kingdom of God and the building of leaders. He’s showing me how to find the other “king makers” (leaders who raise up leaders) and to recognize the gold hidden within others and draw it out. I am a spiritual mother. I am a mentor. I am a shepherd. I am a worship leader.

Is God speaking to you about fulfilling the role of leadership? I challenge you to look for the gold in people in your life. Ask the Lord how you can encourage or disciple someone He highlights in your life.

Powerful, godly leaders leave a lasting influence and legacy on others the people around them. May you leave an imprint on others that lasts for generations even if no one remembers your name.

Love,
Heather

Find Your Tribe

God has taught me a lot lately about the value of “finding your tribe.” The word “tribe” in this sense is a tight-knit group of 

Friendspeople that are trustworthy, safe, share similar spiritual goals, and hold each other accountable. 

My personality type allows me to dangerously get too comfortable with being self-(in)sufficient — alone with my thoughts, alone with my goals, and lazy about my dreams. Although I have a few close friends from high school and college, my recent years as a young, married professional have been a barrage of busyness and distraction. There’s so much to do and seemly not enough time to get it all done. It’s so easy to disconnect if you don’t actively cultivate the friendships around you. Unfortunately, disconnection usually means slow or little spiritual growth and maturity.

The past year and a half was certainly full of changes in my life. I changed jobs during the summer of 2016 and greatly missed the daily interactions with a few close friends that I had in my previous workplace. My social circles at church also radically changed as many of the people my age moved away or left our church. None of these changes were necessarily bad. It just left my husband and me with a bit of a social-spiritual deficit, and we suddenly found ourselves craving a community of people looking for the same godly growth and interests we were. We felt an acute awareness that we needed more — more relationships with a body of believers outside of ourselves, more deep meaningful conversations about what the Lord is doing, and more stretching in all the healthy ways we were lacking.

Before I changed jobs, I was surrounded by daily interactions with fellow believers. It was a true blessing that I’m sure is very rare unless you work in some sort of ministry environment. I asked God to help me find 

Friends having funsimilar friendships in my new workplace — not to replace my other friends, but to grow my social circle and continue the daily interactions I realized I was craving so deeply. Our wonderful, giving Father God heard my prayer and placed me in a group of fellow believers; and the friend I interacted with the most became a reliable, trustworthy friend who embodies honor, leadership, spiritual discernment, and exhortation. 

In my church life, God introduced my husband and me to a powerful group of believers with similar Holy Spirit-given giftings and slightly different strengths. These people have become family. They are safe. They listen. They are prayer warriors. They are encouragers. They are challengers when you need to be pushed to reach higher. They are mentors. In addition, God is teaching me to see the same qualities within myself that I never knew existed. 

I challenge you, friend, to cultivate the friendships in your life. Find a community of people who see the gold in you and hold you accountable. Engage with people that are going after God because those are the people who will ensure your fire for God will never be snuffed out from the troubles of this life, and you’ll have opportunities to do the same for them.

Your Sister in Christ,

Heather