Tired Strength

It was yesterday. It started out like any other morning. Until 6:30 AM when Noah came bounding into my room. But instead of curling up with me like he normally would, he came to inform me that he had an accident in his pants. He claimed his stomach hurt, he assumed he had diarrhea and started crying because he didn’t want to die before seeing his mama (who has been out of town). I calmed him down and told him he probably was hungry and needed food in his tummy.

I got oatmeal for the kids and Juliette danced to the table and ate heartily while Noah didn’t move from the couch. I gave him some orange juice and called the kids grandparents to see whether they thought I should keep Noah from school. In all seriousness, I thought he was joking and really just wanted to skip out of school. I was informed that the kids aunt (who was over with us on Sunday) was also sick and Noah should probably stay home from school. Literally thirty seconds after hanging up the phone, Noah’s orange juice came back up.

And so our day began.

I cleaned the carpet, using 4 different cleaning solution bottles I found in the cupboard and absentmindedly tried to play with Juju while trying to figure out what to do with her. I didn’t want her to catch whatever Noah had. Thirty minutes later I managed to whisk her off to school and get Noah back home before the diarrhea kicked in again. He was a trooper through the whole thing, never once complaining. He changed into 4 different pants in about 2-3 hours. After rinsing the clothes out in the tub, I tossed the whole mess of dirty clothes, towels, a bath mat and a couch cushion into the washer.

By the time I washed my hands for the twentieth time, Noah perked up from the couch and ask “Can we play, miss Heidi?” I told him he had to rest a bit, that his body was still feeling sick. And sadly, minutes later my point was proven again. We spent most of the morning on the couch, watching movies and changing clothes. I cleaned the tub, put the dirty dishes in the dish washer to be cleaned, and called his grandma to see when I should start giving Noah food and water.

Around 11 AM, I gave him some saltine crackers with water. About thirty minutes after that he got half a banana. Still nothing came up, so I turned on a movie and after we watched, I gave him half a bagel, hoping that I wouldn’t fill his tummy up too much and have it erupt everywhere. He got to talk to his parents on the phone, I got to switch the wash to the dryer, I stripped his bed, he played games on an ipad, I put his sheets in the washer, and somehow we manged two hours without any incidents.

After 2 PM, we were in the clear. He felt much better, we got to play with cars, had a little more food, play games and we just relaxed. By that time the items I had placed in the dryer that morning were still damp. The machine was running, but the clothes were cold, not warm when I checked them. I later found out the heating unit was broken. Thankfully Lizzy has a drying rack and floor vent heaters. I brought the rack upstairs, tossed one of the bedsheets over top and left it to dry. (Dear mom and dad: While living at home I rarely used the racks in the winter to dry my clothes over the heater, I’m thankful you showed me what to do in the event there is no dryer. You are a inspiration and I look up to you both in many ways through life)

The rest of the day was much more relaxed. Aftr putting away clean dishes and clothes, I cleaned the tub again and found Noah asleep. I took the opportunity to sit for a moment and read. It was glorious. Eventually Juliette arrived home with her grandparents, we swapped stories, I played with the kids and before long it was time for bed. The kids put up their usual begging to stay up longer (especially since their mom was coming home that night) I read a small section of a bird book we got from the library and tucked them in.

I was so tired. The backs of my hands were looking red and dry from the million times I had washed my hands. The top of my head to my tailbone all ached because of the busy day we had. I was ready for bed.

As I sat with the kids in their room, waiting for them to go to sleep, I thought back through my day. It had been so hard. But it was one of those days, that despite the puke and diarrhea, despite how many loads of laundry I had to do, or how many times I had to pull out chemical bottles to clean a floor or tub or toilet, I had survived it. And I felt so good. My head hurt, I was tired, my hands felt like they were rubbing raw, I was not happy it was 9:15 pm and the kids still were not asleep. But I could see God’s hand had been with us the whole day.

I had started the day facing a giant of sickness and God brought him down before the day was over. And he protected Juliette and myself from that sickness. I was so thankful. It was gross and not something I’d like to have to go through again. But it was over. The sickness was gone and we had survived! I just sat on the kids bed, thanking God for His strength in getting through the day.

I remember when I would live at home on the farm and have to work with my dad on Saturdays. We would have to stack firewood or fix fences. We would move cows, weed gardens, stack hay bales, or other random jobs that involved a lot of physical strength. But at the end of those days, while I was so tired and ached, I felt so good. While my muscles wailed in pain, I knew I would get stronger, the work we had done had been worth it.

Yesterday felt the same way. I got to go to sleep smiling, because while my body ached, I knew what I just went through had been worth it. I learned a lot through yesterdays adventures. The more I live here in Alabama, the more I am finding the tired strength many women find in life. There’s sickness days, long hard days, dirty dishes and laundry days, no showers and feeling like a mud puddle days. There’s complaining children, hungry children, angry children and sick children days. And yet through it, somehow mothers all across the world find their way to still live life despite the tired they feel.

I am getting a small taste of that. And while in the moment I  will ask God to send me clean pants for a child because I’m nearly out and the dryer is broken, I can look forward knowing when it’s all over, I’ll be stronger. These tired days are hard. But they bring strength that is so worth it and I’m thankful for all that I have gotten to learn, feel, see and experience through them.

><>Heidi<><

Expecting The Unexpected

This month has not gone the direction I thought it would. I had so many expectations, hopes and plans and very few to none of them came through the way I thought they would. Not that this month has been a complete mess of nothing good and all bad, but in the perspective of my expectations, it was lousy. I could write a list of all the things I expected (including not having to work on my birthday, getting to visit my best friend in Florida, spending Thanksgiving with my whole family, etc…) But it turned out that none of those happened. But on the other hand, I’m learning lessons through the dashed hopes of expectations.
I have been finding that while I’m flexible, and love spontaneous adventures, I like to plan. Let me write the date down on my calendar with the time in case I forget. I love getting together. But if it’s not planned in advance, it may never happen. I like to know what my schedule will look like for a day before it comes. If I’m honest, I would like God to tell my his future plans for my life in advance. If he could tell me what he’s got in store for me in another year or two, I would be able to plan accordingly and know what to expect.
And yet, as this past month showed me, life doesn’t always look that way. Some days there’s unexpected turns and twists that leave me frustrated because my plans and hopes for the day, week or month didn’t go the way I had hoped. Not even close. And yet again, this past month has showed me that life can still be okay, despite how messed up my plans were.
This past month I  made plans to go see my best friend who has been in Florida visiting her family. I really, really, really, really (REALLY) wanted to visit her. From where I live to where she’s staying, I’m about a 8+ hour drive away. In one day I could see her. I had told her that I would probably get to come the second week of this month. Then I was on call to work. So I told her I wouldn’t make it. The week went by and I wasn’t needed to work (I did a little bit, but not as much as I had thought) So then I thought if the next week my boss would be off, I would be able to spend a week or so with her before heading north for the holidays. I told her and we talked about what we were going to do and how much fun we would have going on our walks and talking. And then much to my sadness, I found out I was needed that whole week to watch Noah. And then I thought I would leave that weekend for a quick visit before going to my brother’s for Thanksgiving. I had another unexpected plan dropped from thin air and I had to cancel that plan to attend a funeral. In four days, this month will be over and I’ll still have no gotten to see my best friend. And it really sucks and I’m really disappointed.
The point of that story is how much I put my hope in the expectations. As I’ve been thinking about how God has given me a life to plan and hope and dream, I’ve been realizing that I should not base my hopes and dreams on the  expectations of how life is going to go. Because when I do base my hopes on those expectations, I found out that I will have a nasty internal attitude. It really makes me disappointed, sad and part of me wants to get upset with God, when he hasn’t done anything. I put it on myself. I let myself put my hope in what tomorrow would bring.
I always thought that I was pretty good at putting my hope in Christ. And I guess this is showing me that it doesn’t just mean saying it. Or that because I saying it, means I’m doing it. When my hope is grounded in the blessings that Christ can give me for the future, when my hope is based on the love that he wants to show me and the things he wants to teach me and the ways he wants to lead me, my attitude in life will be radically different. I won’t just say that he’s my hope, he will be, no matter what happens in life. I can look at the situations that I come across in life (like not getting to go to Florida, or not getting to spend Thanksgiving with my whole family) and I can either look at it and get bummed, moody, sulky and bitter. Or I can look at it and see the blessings of getting to spend more time reading books, more time with other friends, more time with two adorable children and more time thanking God for the opportunity to live for him in that moment of unexpected plans.
I want so bad to plan my life. I want to know what to expect, plan accordingly and have it happen that way. It’s like being able to walk through throne bushes without getting my wool sweater getting snagged. But that’s impossible. Life is going to snag us up and we’ll have to either pull the vines out of the way, or find another path. This month has been both for me. But mostly finding another path because the vines I was trying to walk through were getting thicker and thicker.
I’m still going to plan and be excited for those plans to happen. (I hope to come home for Christmas, hope to see my best friends while home, hope to see church family, etc…) But I know it may not happen the way I expect. I’m still probably going to hope that dreams and desires for my future will happen. (Travel the world, marry a farmer, go to Africa and love on babies, raise a family of 50+ children, grow old and die a martyr for Christ) But as the past couple years have shown me, God doesn’t always work in the way we expect. I want to get better at not allowing myself to hope in the expectations. I want to allow God to throw in his own plans and expectations for my life without me getting upset or frustrated that they are different from mine. I want to allow myself grace in the future when the unexpected comes and things get spun in directions I never saw come. I want to build a future hope on Christ, that no matter what, He will see me through the plans that never get to happen. He will be the one who is praised and worshiped in the unexpected storms that come up. He’s the one who gave me hope in the past to have hope in the present and future. It’s a day at a time. It’s not coming to me over night. But I hope to get better at this.

There is much to be thankful for, much that I have been blessed with, and much to expect for the future as this holiday season comes upon us again. But most importantly we have much to hope in Christ for all that he has done for us and through us.

><>Heidi<><

New Addition

With ever new year comes new beginnings, new challenges, new friends, new experiences and new age additions. Last week I turned another year. This will be my 24th time around the sun. That sun hasn’t changed much since the morning I was born.
But I’ve changed.
It’s funny to look back at my old birthdays. I loved turning a new age and feeling older and maturer. I loved getting to spend time with family and friends. I looked forward to my birthday with joy and excitement. And then I hit the ripe old age of 21 and cried myself to sleep. And the past three years hasn’t been the same. And part of that is my fault because I was focused on my own silly ideas of hopes and dreams and the Lord was just smiling at me saying “No daughter, its not your time yet. You have not received that gift from me to open. I still have so much more to teach you.”


And ever year, since turning 21, I’ve been taught little by little by a patient Heavenly Father that I won’t get what I want when I want it right then. And some days I find contentment in life and some days my heart is not content with where God has put me or given me. Every year I learn a little more and grow a little more and find more contentment and joy in life.
This past year was nothing like I imagined it to be. I moved all over the place, had a season of unknowns and sadness. I found new hope in the Lord as I trusted him with my future. And I found another amazing job and family to love on and help. I’ve found new books that open my mind to other parts of the world, I’ve discovered I love to be healthy, I’ve found new verses in the bible to hold on to, I’ve found friends who encourage me in mighty ways.
Every year I stand on the Lord’s promise that He will one day give me the desires of my heart. But I’ve been discovering and finding out that it’s not His desire for me yet because He’s still teaching me things. He’s teaching me to communicate. He’s teaching me healthy boundaries. He’s teaching me to love others better. He’s teaching me to be selfless. And the list goes on and on.So what are new goals for this next year? What are things that I hope to accomplish and learn and add to in this next year? Well for one thing I want to cook better. HA! I want to find new ways to serve the Lord here in Alabama. Through a church’s children ministry or somewhere I could volunteer at. I want to be more of a woman who encourages others, like through speech and action. I want to find new friendships and actually step out of my comfort zone and get to know them, not just see them in another pew and wave. I want to grow mentally and read new books to teach me more about the world around me. I want to grow physically and strengthen my muscles so I can beat my brothers arm wrestling (yeah right Heidi, dream big.) I want to grow spiritually and strengthen my faith. I want live a life that is continually growing and blossoming.
I want the additions. Maybe not the numbers, but I’ll take the new experiences. God has added so much in my life that I can’t begin to count all the numerous blessings. I may not always be content, but when I take the time to sit back and look at life, I see that he has blessed me and is still blessing me. He has added to it in ways I never would have imagined.

Also, I want to share that we have a new addition to our house, little Tiger Lily!! She’s a sweet calico, kitten who loves the children and the children love her. I’m not much of a cat or dog person, but little Tiger Lily is easy to enjoy and fun to watch play with the kids. Who knows, maybe she’ll come into my blog more often…..

Allow the Lord to add to your life and thank him for the blessings.

><>Heidi<><

The Door

Over the past year, I’ve began to look at the world around me, especially nature, and been inspired at how it applies to my life. My favorite comparison is how God can bring so much beauty through brokenness. Flowers are hit down in a storm but grow despite their circumstances. Butterflies go through this chaotic change in tight darkness but come out more beautiful. Coal under a lot of pressure turns into a diamond.
I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs in my short life. But I am so inspired by nature to keep going, to continue on despite what life has thrown at me. I may be trampled on, but I want to grow, I may go through tight darkness, but I want to come out more beautiful then before. I may be under a lot of pressure but I will be that diamond in the rough. Through Christ, I want to become something a little more then amazing.
My point is, I love nature and the beautiful world God has given me and how I can relate to so much in it. Through this past year of standing in awe of all that surrounds me, I’ve been attempting to write into words what I see around me and how it applies to me. Usually that comes by way of me taking a random picture and later realizing how inspiring it was. That is how I got this short inspiring story.
A little about this picture and short story (I don’t know what else to call it) I took the picture in May of this year while walking through Columbia University with my brother and friend. We went through this short path of a garden area and the door stood out to me. I turned around and snapped a picture and later went back and wrote up a short quote which I later posted on Instagram. It was a couple weeks later that the quote and picture were still on my heart, so I sat down and typed up more details about how this simple picture spoke to me.
Without farther bunny trails, here’s my favorite inspirational short story: The Door.

THE DOOR

The key to door was on a leather band that hung around her neck. It was tucked away, nestled close to her heart so that at all times she could feel the cold silver against her skin. She kept it hidden so that none may question about it, though some did pry when they saw the door. But she tried to keep most from the door.

She let all who enter into her life be allowed to roam the many trails that led through gardens of stories from her life of building this garden. Vibrant and breathtaking plants and rare beauties she had collected over the years were showered over her guests. She loved to love those who entered her life and she had many compliment her on the beautiful fountain of “a heart of gold” that she had.

The work she had put into this garden was 23 years and counting, but she was proud of how it looked. It was seemingly weedless, unless one stooped to look closer. She knew there were flaws in everyone’s garden, but she didn’t let it stop her from continually building her home into something more beautiful everyday.

The trails of her garden heart spoke of thriving life. She tried to share what she could with those who she walked with, sharing past choices to stop weeds, fertilize the ground or patiently waiting for the flowers to bloom. But many people who ate from the fruit trees or smelled the perfumed blossoms didn’t actually know the amount of work she had done.

But few did get that chance. There was a select number that she took by the hand and lead towards her brick walks. She knew the way to the heart of her garden, though it was a maze of trails. There were few that got to go deeper then others, few that began to see how the light of the sky would dim of color, or how the bright greens would fade to black, or how this was void of pretty smells and sweet fruits.

At last, at the end of the trail would be the door. With some, she would simply stand there, hardly daring to breath. With others, she would boldly step forward though her heart beat wildly within her chest. Ever so slowly and quietly, she would take the key from her neck. She placed the silver key into the lock and slowly turn until a soft click was heard.

And slowly she opened the door to them. She allowed them into her secret garden, the one that her new garden surrounded entirely, but was blocked by a high brick wall. No one could pass over, no one could see in. Only this door, with the one key she held close to her heart, could allow anyone to see into her past, into a place that she had shut out from everyone.

Many of those who enter would see the wilted wildflowers, stepped on by people who took the key and tried to use her garden. They would see the shriveled up fountains that no longer had laughter but tears. They couldn’t even begin to count how many mistakes were made in this garden, how many weeds choked out the once growing bushes. They would read descriptions of suffering that cracked the ground and up the sides of walls. Evidence of a fire marked her walls, showing she had been burned deeply. They would see nothing beautiful in the dirt, ash and darkness of this part of her garden.

But very few would also see the beauty of her secret garden. They would see the attempt of buds on trees, they would see the area’s that were beginning to heal, the cracks that had been patched back together and painted in white. They would see the deep red roses, those they have thorns, still are eye catching. They would hear the song of small crickets or see the form of cocoons holding future butterflies. They would see the potential, the next steps and possibilities.

And some, some could see why she kept this garden. Though she had lost so much, though she had been hurt, burned, scarred, wounded and tramped upon, still she fought to live and love on. Though she had a past that was dark, mysterious and even haunting, she had made a choice to move on.

She had chosen to move beyond the mistakes and brokenness and she decided to build something beautiful with her life. She wanted to share her world with others. It had taken a long time and she wasn’t anywhere near being done. But she was one step closer then others with the very fact that she was moving on and building something beautiful from the ashes.

What she loved the most about her visitors was they never judged her for how she use to look. They never tried to hurt her already delicate heart. Instead, they rejoiced in all she had accomplished since the moment she locked up the door. They prayed and praised God with her for all the paths and new gardens He was helping her grow. And she loved that they loved her even more after she had shared her deepest secret with them.

And every time she stepped out of her secret garden. Every time she closed the door and put the key in the lock. Every time, right before she locked it tight again, she would pray that one day she could leave this part of her garden unlocked.

And one day she will open the door to all.

Daily Life in Alabama

I always seem to say in my mind “I should write a blog post about what I’m up to. But I’ve only been here for a couple weeks, and my life isn’t that interesting to write about. Of course, no one knows what you’re up to unless you write about it. On the other hand, you could wait a few more weeks till something interesting pops up. Yeah I’ll do that, procrastinate a little longer and wait. But what if nothing ever changes and I never have anything new to write about? I better write something then. But what, not much has happened that’s been that exciting…” And on and on I go.
What has been going on down here in Alabama?
Honestly, it’s been great. The first two weeks were warmer temperatures. And this week it’s dropped to sweater weather. Rainy, chilly and hot tea kind of weather. I’ve gotten to go to the Botanical Gardens, Birmingham Zoo, me and the kids have made bird feeds, gone to the library, spent HOURS playing with toy hot wheel cars. We’ve hopped and jumped miles on a trampoline, found a bunch of black walnuts, made up games, watched birds find our treats we made for them and lots more.
Finding that daily routine and rhythm hasn’t been hard. Most days I’ve gotten Noah out the door and dropped off at his school before 8. I have Juliette three days a week and drop her off at daycare twice a week. On her off days, we go to parks or play outside. I’ll let her watch shows on TV or we play her favorite game, which is the hot wheel cars. After picking Noah up from school, we’ll play games (cars, trampoline or a rare other) or they’ll watch some TV. I’ll usually make dinner (or attempt to make something) and around 7, Noah and I go over his homework, which is usually just reading, spelling words and occasional other stuff to work on. And after playing more cars, we wrap up our day after 8 and get ready for bed.
It’s been good. And not good. I still have days that are hard because the kids don’t want to go to bed, or they don’t want the dinner I made, or something else. I’ve never had kids tell me I’m mean. Or that they don’t like me. Both of these kids have done it a couple times. But in the end they are won over because they actually do like me and I’m not mean. I may not let them get their way but they realize that rules are put in place for a reason and not everything that happens is my fault. And honestly, I appreciate the way they speak their mind. They are allowed to disagree with me, and aren’t scared to tell me how they are feeling or what they’re thinking. In the end I learn a little more about them and they learn why certain things are a certain way.
On my off days (whether both kids are at school or it’s my free weekend) I’ve been reading books, biking, joining the family on their boat at the lake, cleaning the house, shopping, doing dishes, folding laundry, working out, and reading and cleaning some more. This past week I’ve had a cold hit my head (runny nose, headaches, tingling ears, etc) and so I haven’t been pushing myself to do much. I’ve been drowning myself in tea and books and sleep.
Oh church! I’ve tried 3 churches and think I may keep looking. It’s been a fun hunt and search so far though. I had one person this past Sunday (he was a car usher, not sure what else one would call them) come up after the service and ask me if I was actually from NY. I laughed because when I had pulled in, I knew the moment his eyes got wide that he had seen my license plate. When people hear that I’m from NY it does bring in all the same questions, which I don’t mind answering. But back to the churches, so far they’ve been unique and different from what I grew up in. But they’ve been great in their own ways. I just want something that I know I can grow and learn in.
All together, it’s been great. God has brought me to a beautiful state with friendly people (very friendly, overly friendly people) It’s just turning chilly, so hopefully soon we’ll will be getting our fall colors. Life is good, my tea is warm, my heart is full and I’m so thankful for this life at the end of the day.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, everyone is obsessed with college football. I found out that Alabama is the best one to root for. (After SU of course!) Roll Tide forever!

><>Heidi<><

Living Fearlessly

The word fearless has been roaming my mind for a couple weeks now. It’s a word that strikes me with awe and actual fear. To be fearless, to fear less, is such a rare thing to see in people and is not common among the world.
The way this word came around was when I was talking to a friend who shared that he was called to countries where there were little, to no Christians. I’ve got another friend who has the same calling on her heart. The more I let their calling sink in, the more I tried to picture myself in their shoes. To live in a country where I would be one of a handful of Christians was an overwhelming thought.
And that’s when I realized, these friends of mine are so fearless. They don’t fear (or show the fear) the unknown of living without Christian friends. They don’t fear the unknown of how God will provide for them. They are fearlessly in pursuit of their calling and passions, not letting the unknowns stop them from following the Lord in all that he leads them through.
And as I thought through this, I wondered what was holding me back. Why was I letting unknowns and fears stop me from pursuing my dreams and passions in that same way. Maybe I’m not heading to Morocco to witness to Muslims, but what about the other big dreams that I have that I haven’t stepped into fearlessly? Why was I limiting myself to the comfortable when I could have the crazy yet courageous life of freedom and less fear?
On the other hand, I am living a bit of a crazy, fearless life. I’m living with a family I met for one week. I’ve uprooted my life again, moved away from family and friends and into a state I never dreamed of moving to. I’m also fearlessly cooking. (Maybe frantically and panicking while cooking.) On a stove. (Barely) With food I don’t know how to prepare. (I mean, who doesn’t know how to boil an egg? *raising my hand* That would be me, I don’t know how to do that. But I learned via cookbook!) I’m fearlessly learning how to help a child do homework and then guessing which folder in the binder the paper goes in.
I’m slowly seeing that sometimes, living more fearlessly is to take small steps. It doesn’t have to be a big calling to head overseas and live among tribes who live in the stone age. It doesn’t have to be living in a country that will kill anyone who claims to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes fearless means turning to a stranger in church and introducing yourself. It’s going outside the normal and comfortable and finding your passion and purpose in a new, exciting, less fearful way.
And honestly, there will be fears. There will be worry. But we can still go into something, despite how the enemy or our feelings get in the way. We can walk to our neighbors and share the gospel, we can love that cashier we’d rather avoid, we can move away from home to pursue Christ and his kingdom in small or big ways. And we can move to countries that need Christ as much as America.
And the great thing is, being fearless doesn’t mean that one has to change their lives in a radical way. I can look at my friends with this crazy, awesome, fearless, calling to other countries and then turn and look at my life and say “Wow Heidi, you are living your life in such a comfortable way. Look at the big, soft bed you sleep on, and the electricity. Look at the cute car you drive and the adorable boots you can wear. You need to get a bigger dream. You need to stop spoiling yourself and start living more uncomfortable.” I’m not saying that we should do that. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that being comfortable is wrong. God has blessed his children and we need to be content in those blessings, but to enjoy them.
My point is that I personally want to live a life that is comfortable in the fear that life can throw at me. I want to be fearless in the uncomfortable. And I’m still working through that. At church on Sunday the greeter said to find someone who was new and introduce themselves. Guess who was new and got a lot of greeting?? And guess who didn’t go up and introduce themselves?? That’s right, me and me. I don’t like introducing myself to people. I don’t like making new friends. I don’t like meeting new people when I don’t have anyone to hid behind. But I know that it is something I want to be fearless in. Maybe not right away will I overcome it. But eventually, I want to look back and be able to say, “Wow Heidi, you were fearless in that situation and look how far you’ve come since then! You’ve learned so much and God has blessed you through it, and you can enjoy that comfort. You can be thankful for that.”
Being bold, courageous and fearlessly is hard. But in the end, looking back at all that you accomplished and all that you worked through, walked through and overcame, that will be when you see it was worth it. Whether it’s smiling at a stranger or smuggling bibles into countries. Being fearless through Christ will always be worth it.

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Unknown
“She is fearless because He is faithful.” – ktscanuases
“The fears we don’t face become our limits.” – Robin Sharma
“Be truthful, gentle, and fearless.” – Gandhi
“Once you become fearless life becomes limitless.” – Unknown
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” – Proverbs 31:25

Be Fearless!

><>Heidi<><

Into the Heart of Dixie

Well folks, I’m back at it, heading out of State and into the wilds of another place. Alabama is a beautiful state full of trees, hills and mountains and is on the coast which boasts of beautiful beaches (or so I’ve heard) There’s hummingbirds, fruit trees, a cute, small city lined with trees and many southern people who are happy to put the groceries in the back of your trunk and ask you how your life is like they are an old friend.

How did I come upon such a job down in the southern state of Alabama? Here’s a crazy, fun story for you:

Since July I have been applying, interviewing, meeting people, asking around for jobs, showing my resume, giving out contact info, praying, seeking, knocking and finding nothing. Oh, I found plenty of jobs but I none of them sat right. They were too easy, the people didn’t want me, I didn’t like the family or situation, they weren’t going to pay me enough, the list goes on.

In August I went to Belize to be a nanny for a week for a family I knew. While there, I was asked if I would pray about being a nanny for a family down in Alabama. I had just began to sit on the idea of living in NY for awhile. I was getting tired of moving. I wanted to be with my friends and family. But hey, I needed a job and I was willing to pray about.

Fast forward to about two weeks later when I got home. I got a text message from a couple (grandparents of the kids that need a nanny) They asked if I would be willing to have a phone conversation with them to discuss the situation. I had a few job leads, but said I would be willing to talk about it. It was a few days later and we had a lovely conversation, I got to tell them about myself and they got to share their heart and why they were helping their daughter find a nanny for her two children.

I was a little skeptical about the whole thing. I had just gotten use to the idea of settling down at home, that I wouldn’t have to move around again. And yet, here I was suddenly day dreaming of packing up and moving to a state and place where I knew no one and nothing. Crazy. It was so crazy. Thankfully I had a handful of friends that were helping me process it and let me talk it out and had me backed in prayer.

After talking with the mother of the children about what life in Alabama looked like and learning more about her children, I began to realize that maybe it wasn’t time for me to settle down home just yet. I had a few jobs that I was looking at getting and when they fell through I gave the couple a call and let them know that I wanted to fly down to meet their family and see about being a nanny for them.

When I arrived I found this mama, strong, independent and single, raising two beautiful children. She’s so patient, free spirited and loving. She loves to laugh and has such a beautiful soul. She works on film and movie sets and is working 12-14 hours a day. While she’s doing that, her parents are helping drop/pick up the kids from school, make meals, have them spend the night at their house if Mama is at work and other.

I got to see the worst case situation which was mama being gone for a couple nights. This meant I had to take the kids to school, stay at home all day with the girl (or drop her off at school where she goes twice a week) And then pick them up, make meals, and put them to bed. Morning, noon and evening we had fun. We played with cars, pretended to be a family, played tag or hide-and-seek. I taught them how to play go-fish and we ran around outside or chilled in front of the T.V.

And then bedtime rolled around. My first night was awful. I tried to put them to bed (the boy went to sleep just fine) but the girl missed her mother and would not settle down. After nearly an hour, I finally gave up and called the grandparents who happened to be down the road at that time. Nana came over and sat the little girl down and talked to her before putting her to bed. While she was in there, I sobbed. I told God that if it was always going to be this emotional and hard, that if she didn’t go to bed for me, I couldn’t take it. After Nana came out we talked and after she left, I went to bed, exhausted from the evening.

But you know what, God is faithful and good and loving. For the next three nights after that, I didn’t have an issue. Sure, they put a fight (“It’s not bed time!” or “I miss mama!”) But they settled right down and were asleep within the next twenty-thirty minutes. I was over the moon in happiness! After that first night, I thought I wouldn’t survive. But God came through and helped me get through it and let those kids fall asleep easy.

Nights weren’t always easy. The kids would come into my room at night and I would miss a couple hours of sleep. Or I tossed and turned for an hour or two before barefeet padded into my room and tried to join me in my bed and I had to try to fall asleep with a child next to me. I didn’t mind until I was yawning the next day from the lack of sleep.

The days weren’t bad either. The grandparents would stop in and see me, visit or bring cousins to play with the younger ones. They showed me Birmingham, parks and hiking/biking trails. I got to see the grandparents house and explore their cute little village with their daughter on a golf cart (that reminded me of Belize.) I didn’t get to take them to the zoo, but that and the science center are within 20-30 minute drives from the house.

Through it all, it was a great experience. The family trusts me with their children, they have asked the kids if they like me and I got a vote of yes from both. Upon returning home, I gave myself a couple of days to think and pray but had peace the whole time. I’m going! I’m going to Alabama, a state and place where I know no one apart from this family but am so exciting! I have peace and know that this is the direction that God is calling me. It’s so crazy, but it’s so exciting. I’m praying that God will teach me a lot through this time. That I’ll gain confidence in new ways, that I’ll step out and make friends and that I’ll find through the hard times there will be growth of flowers and fruit through Christ.

I still don’t know when I’m leaving, but it I’m hoping to be down in AL before the end of the month. I’ll be driving down with my little car with some boxes of stuff. Right now I’m planning on giving myself a year. We’ll see where the Lord leads or if he tells me to stay. But right now, here and now, I’m content to see where what the Lord can do with me and how, through me stepping in to help this family, he in turn can use the family to farther his kingdom.

Until next time,

><>Heidi<><

The Curve of a Path

I always say I’m going to write more. And I do, I come up with great beginnings, have crazy tales and stories that fill pages of my blog and conclude it all with a cute postage stamp of endings. And no one but my brain ever gets to see them.
This one has been roaming my brain for awhile now. It’s been two months since I moved back to my NY home. Sometimes it feels like it’s been longer. Other days I miss FL so much it’s like I left yesterday. Since being home, I’ve done a lot of babysitting, I’ve applied to 7-10 full time jobs, I’ve looked on nanny website’s and applied to 30 or more. I’ve driven to about 5-7 interviews, meeting men and women looking for someone to join their team or family. I’ve made phone calls, talking myself up to make people believe that I have more then 10 years of experience, even though I have one year of college education. I’ve built up hope and then gotten to meet people or seen the daily environment and felt it all deflate because I didn’t feel comfortable or the job was too easy.
And through these past two weeks I constantly am taking pictures of nature and God’s beautiful creation that we get to enjoy. While babysitting and strolling through the zoo or in the woods of park paths. While walking with a friend on a hike or driving down the road (Don’t try that, it’s not safe!) I constantly have been having these pictures appear on my phone, these pictures of paths right before they disappear around a corner. Or they continue straight until I can’t see them in the distance. Or they are full of overgrown weeds and shrub and can barely be made out.
And that’s how I’ve been viewing life as God has been leading me. He takes me by the hand and we go down a path so straight I can’t see the end. Then it comes to a bend, a surprise on the other side. He helps me plow through a path that hasn’t been cleared in a long time, a hard trail but an adventure like the rest. We come to creeks and streams, wading through cold water or hopping over rocks to keep our shoes dry. But there’s always bends and curves in the path. There are always a corner on the path of life that brings unknowns.
And that’s where I’ve been for the past couples weeks and months. Since returning from Belize, most of the jobs I’ve thought were in the future have fallen through. I turn around the bend in the road and there’s more jobs to apply to, more people to meet, more time that felt like it was spent in pursuing the wrong dream. Thankfully none of it has been a waste. I’ve met a lot of great people, made some connections and found people who want me if I ever went back to those jobs. But that job that God has said, “This this,” hasn’t appeared yet. Instead I just trudge on around corner after corner, thinking there’s a huge surprise and instead, there’s more disappointment and deep breaths to keep myself calm and not blow up.
I’ve recently come down to two nanny jobs. I’ve been praying and praying about which way to go. Do I take the left job or right job. (We all know it needs to be right! HA!) But seriously, if I take one, it’s fun and I get to thrive in new ways. If I take the second, it’s crazy and I get to learn to be confident in new ways. Both are blessing people, both are tugging my heart strings and with children I can never decide.
I have this love/hate feeling with choices. They are great to have, and I’m thankful for them but I don’t like having to choose. And so I’m sitting in the middle of a road, praying about which direction. God can bless us where ever we go. But he always has a direction and adventure that he wants to share with us and we need to learn to listen to his voice and follow that path that he wants to take us on.
In all, I’m enjoying life. Being home with family is great, I love having friends close by and NY state is beautiful to nature (and many paths!) I have jobs galore that pull me everywhere and many positive dreams for the future. I just have choices I don’t want to make yet, and am unsure about.
Thankfully, through all of the craziness, God is constant. He’s our rock, a strong foundations. When life gets weedy, he’s always right there, helping plant flowers of color. He shows us where to build our house so when these rains comes we can withstand the storms through him. He’s always protecting and loving, and leading his children. He knows what challenges are ahead and he’s always ready to take us by the hand and take us around the corner, to that one surprise and new adventure that will change our lives forever.
Knowing what that new adventure is, I’m not sure, but I’m excited to see where he leads me next.

><>Heidi<><

Same Island, New Home

For the past few days I have been in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye Island. While in the previous two years I have stayed at Youth With A Mission: Destination Paradise (YWAM DP) that base is sadly no longer on the island. The Esquivel family have since moved to a house in town, about 15 min from where the base was located.
This house is such an adorable place. It stands next to a river that little motor boats come down on, and is off the main road, giving less traffic and people. It’s less then a 5 minute walk to the ocean, but it does involve crossing the main road. At the end of the drive is Casa Pandulce Bakery, full of delightful smells and temptations.
Getting to see the children and family in their new environment, and ministry has been a great blessing, as I’ve been a little out of how they do life now that they have switched to the ministry Shine (See here for more details: http://shinebelize.org/  Side note, they are also in the process of making a new website)
While Alyssa has been called at this time for the ministry of her family and being a full time mom to her kids (Not to say she never was, but compared to where she use to have me as a nanny) She still does weekly women’s bible studies, encourages the workers at Shine, and helping to coordinate meetings and try new ideas.
Israel has been meeting up daily with men to counsel and mentor them. Getting to go to the RTF training (Restoring The Foundations) has been a blessing as he continues getting with other men of the island.
Watching the Esquivel’s in this new place and new ministry, I think has been good. They seem to be thriving so well. Where at YWAM they were constantly on the go, here they are more relaxed and can spend more family time together. With their old ministry, they had to be up early and sometimes out late. Here, Alyssa can be with the kids most mornings, but other mornings Israel can let her sleep in and watch the kids until he has to leave in the morning. They have their own yard they can play with the kids in, a house that is their own to paint, decorate and build in the way they dream, and probably much more.
I don’t want it to sound like they weren’t thriving while at their old ministry. They had a lot that the base offered (unlike a house bill) They were able to go out to the beach, right outside their house (unlike walking 5 min down the road to a sea-grass covered sand and no dock to jump off) But seeing them in a new space, with more family time, there is a new sense of freedom, love and adventure that flows through this family.
I love watching the devotion this family has for each other, Christ, their new ministry and house. It’s such a beautiful thing and I’m super thankful to get to see this side of their family life, in ways I never have before.

Enough about the family that I love so much. I’m loving their new place. The showers are cold, but toilets are behind closed doors, not curtains (Thank you Jesus) My bedroom has A/C and I don’t have to share with five other people. There are fresh banana’s, amazing tortillas that Alyssa makes and lemonade, cold from the fridge. There’s a balcony/porch outside, which is shaded in the afternoon, and recently has been having a refreshing breeze.
I got to town the other day to catch up with another friend, who happened to be in my school and Casita when I was in the Discipleship Training School at YWAM DP. It was so nice to catch up on life and hear all that she’s doing to serve the Lord here. God has blessed her with perseverance and love and courage and she has always inspired me and still does.
Before I met up with her, I took a 10-15 minute walk through town to the Artisan where there are many vendors selling homemade touristy items (bags, blankets, shawls, jewelry, wood carvings and more) I was looking around for some necklaces for my sisters and I to share. The creativity these people have in their booths kept making me gasp. So many beautiful items and only so much money. But it was fun learning different kinds of stones, seeds and wood that are used to make the different items.
While I have been helping in small ways to watch the kids since arriving on the island, I’ve had a lot of down time and have been using that to scroll through social media, reading books, playing with the kids and talking to Alyssa. It’s been nice to relax after a long week of nannying.
While I’m looking forward to returning home, I’m thankful for this time with this beautiful family. Being a nanny, watching relationships grow and flourish, getting to explore this beautiful island and country, it’s all been a blessing from the Lord. I’m so grateful for the opportunities that God has given me over the past few years. And to be a blessing, that brings Glory to Him, that’s the greatest opportunity of all.

><>Heidi<><

Nannying at Machaca

Here’s a blog of pictures, and me trying to explain the set up of how my week looked. Hopefully between my last blog post and these pictures, something will make sense!

This was my cabin. There’s a set of stairs on each side and my bedroom (that had 5 bunk-beds) is all the way to the top left. The first door on the bottom left is where the toilets were located, and the second door was where the showers were. Right in front of it are two sinks.
This is what the bathroom looked like, just a row of toilets hidden behind shower curtains. I was a little more or less shocked.
The showers. There are three others on the other side. They were not a great shock. But seeing the lizard one night (6 inches or longer) kinda spooked me.
This is the pipe which the ‘shower’ came out of. They are on a well system, which means the water (unless used in the middle of the day when the sun had warmed it) was usually always ice cold. The first couple nights it was refreshing. the last night it was quite cold. P.S: This was my favorite shower HA!

The best part about the whole base was the playground they had imported from USA. We spent hours there and the kids enjoyed themselves so much!

Faith leading us to the playground. It was a huge blessing. I was asked by someone what I would have done if it wasn’t there. The only thing I could think of was exploring more of the grounds and jungle.
The kids loved the challenge of climbing up the slides. This day it had just rained, so it made climbing extra harder and more giggles.
On some days when it was a little more hot, we took a coloring book and crayons out to the playground, to enjoy the outside, but have something to do in the shade for awhile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was harder to get pictures of baby Ben because as soon as I set him down in the rock covered playground, he would try and put them in his mouth. But when he wasn’t sleeping or eating, he was usually right outside with us. Or sitting in his crib so my arms could have a break from all the carrying.

Apart from when he was tired or hungry, this guy was so happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here are a lot of random pictures of Machaca camp. The jungle may be intense at times, but it’s such a beautiful place and the beauty has captured my heart so much. Some of the trees remind me of ones on the island of San Pedro. (Beware, there is a spider picture below!)

Signs to where everything was.
Their sign at the highway. It’s another mile or so into the jungle before one gets to the base

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not a great picture, but this little guy was incredible. He spun his web, and that night we had an awful rain storm. The next morning he was gone, but by that evening, he had spun his web again. This happened one more time! I pointed him out to one of the other ladies and she went up and touched him with her finger, showing me he was not dangerous.

While I didn’t take many pictures, I hope that you have enjoyed the few I have. It was such a fun experience, getting to drive to Punta Gorda and nannying at the Machaca base. I love these precious children and family and beautiful country that God has placed in my life.

 

Until next time!

><>Heidi<><