Taste and See then Go and Tell

luddite-writing-things-out-with-pen-and-paper-600x399“Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from your heart to others.” Pastor Rick Warren

We all have a story. A story of how Jesus came into our lives and transformed us from the inside out. Our stories are unique and special and don’t think your story is not “important enough” or “spectacular enough” to share with other people. God relates to all His children in unique and individual ways. My experience of how His Son was revealed to me, how His Son made Himself known to me, and how our relationship has grown and developed, may be completely different in your life. What is important is that we tell others of our experience……….our experience of tasting and seeing the goodness of the Lord and then going and telling others. Sharing your story may give another person hope who is at the point of desperation. Sharing your story may help another person who may have feelings of worthlessness, know that they are loved beyond measure by a God who is relentlessly pursuing them. Sharing your story may bring to life a Person, Jesus Christ, that someone may think was just from Biblical times, but who is alive, active, and wants a personal relationship with you.

What I want to do is begin to share my story………..or should I say stories……….of my encounters and evolving relationship with Jesus Christ. I am going to create a category titled, Go and Tell which will feature my personal experiences/stories and hopefully they will inspire you to look deeply into your own life and see where God has been at work……….restoring you, renovating you and releasing you so that your story of transformation……of tasting and seeing the goodness of the Lord can be shared with family, friends, neighbors and all of those in your circle of influence. What is exciting, in these days and times, is that the internet gives us the ability to share our stories with people from all over the world.  What an awesome opportunity and privilege to spread the transforming power of the Gospel! I also want to add that our stories with Jesus are ongoing. It is not just a ‘once and done’ process. Perhaps we have had a conversion experience where we can give the date, time and place when we gave our heart to Jesus, when we were born again, and He became our Savior. But our relationship with Him extends beyond the conversion experience……………and how He seeks to grow us in Him, is a continual process…………….consisting of fresh encounters and on-going sanctification. I am looking forward to sharing my stories with you and if you would like, you can write me at: fromtombtobloom@gmail.com and share your stories with me………….I would love to hear from you!

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In the words of Sue Monk Kidd, “God, the sublime Storyteller, calls us into the passion of telling our tale………………In the crucible of story, there we meet God most surely.”

Namaste,

Heather

The power of story to give inspiration, comfort and hope

world“………A thousand fibers connect us to our fellow man.”   Herman Melville

In October I wrote a post titled, “The Cape” where I shared some of my experiences while being treated for breast cancer in the Fall of 1998. At the end of November I received an email from a gentleman named Cameron who responded to my blog post. He shared his wife’s journey with malignant pleural mesothelioma as well as his own experience as a caregiver during the long and arduous treatment process. After reading his testimony about his wife Heather’s initial diagnosis, and how it impacted their young family (their only child was 3 months old at the time), his story pulled at my heartstrings and I could resonate with many of the emotions he and his wife were experiencing. I remember being incredulous about my own cancer diagnosis and telling the doctor that I was “too healthy to get cancer”. I also remember telling the doctor that I was in good physical condition and that no one ever had cancer in my family so it was “impossible” for me to have this kind of diagnosis. Unfortunately, my reasoning did not change the doctor’s assessment after reviewing my ultrasound and eventual breast biopsy. The words, “you have cancer” were now part of my vocabulary and my young family’s as well.

Like an emotional tsunami, my feelings were like huge waves bombarding me at once………denial, fear, anger……….”it just wasn’t fair!”. I kept having nightmares that I wouldn’t be alive for graduations, weddings and other significant events in my children’s  lives. My young family had their own gamut of emotions as well; a spouse who wondered if he could handle the demands of being a caregiver and children whose future with their mother could be uncertain. I was reminded after reading Cameron’s story, and the emotions that he and his wife experienced, that we are all in this together. We don’t experience cancer in a vacuum but as a member of a community…………..as a global human family.

Six years after successfully overcoming breast cancer, I wanted to find a way to “give back”………..to find a venue where I could share my story with individuals and families experiencing a cancer diagnosis. One spring afternoon in 2004 I remember walking over to our mailbox and finding a brochure from the Wellness Community (now named the Cancer Support Community) located in my home town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The organization was looking for volunteers and one particular position caught my eye. They were looking for cancer survivors who would participate in their “Newcomers Orientation” program. As part of this “orientation” process, survivors welcomed newly diagnosed cancer patients, their caregivers and loved ones to the center. Here was my golden opportunity to “give back”! I ran back into the house, called the number on the brochure  and ‘signed up’ to become a “Newcomers” volunteer. The staff provided me with training sessions so I would know how to fulfill my role as mentor and guide. Once I started volunteering it was so rewarding to tell my story and become a ‘beacon of hope’ for those caught up in storm-tossed seas. It was a wonderful way for me to connect to others that were in such desperate need to see and hear someone who had navigated those unfamiliar and unexpected waters. Our stories connect us with our fellow man and weave a tapestry of inspiration, comfort and hope for those whose lives have been turned upside down by a cancer diagnosis.

As survivors and caregivers, many of us have a desire to share our experiences and journeys through cancer. When you are in the midst of this terrifying diagnosis, sometimes the only people who really understand are those who have had cancer touch their lives and are willing to share their stories. I had one such person come into my life when the doctor told me I had cancer and the inspiration, comfort and hope she imparted to me was invaluable. The internet also provides opportunities for survivors and caregivers to share their stories with people from all over the world. These testimonies can be a welcomed shelter when the storm is closing in on you.  I want to invite you to visit a website that Cameron included in his email to me: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron and read about the cancer journey of this young family of three: Heather the patient, Cameron the caregiver and Lily, their daughter. Heather and Cameron write with transparency and have opened the door to their personal lives, sharing their story, so people around the world can find the comfort, courage and the hope needed to navigate their own particular cancer journeys.

I think no matter where we live in the world or what language we speak, when a doctor says the words, “you have cancer” it evokes a universal response. We are all part of one human family and a “thousand fibers connect us to our fellow man”. By sharing our stories, I believe we can make a difference in an individual’s or family’s life. Prayerfully, by hearing or reading our stories, lives can be touched and perhaps they can make the difference between someone giving up and persevering another day. Although my breast cancer and Heather’s malignant pleural mesothelioma created unexpected and tumultuous journeys for us and our families, in the end they were a gift. A gift to be shared with others through story……………a powerful story of inspiration, comfort and hope.

Namaste,

Heather

The Cape

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. Psalm 91:4 NLT

I’ll never forget that day…..Monday, September 28, 1998. The surgeon called me with the results of my biopsy. “You have carcinoma of the left breast.” His words pierced me and shot straight for my soul. Cancer. How could that be? I’m too healthy to get cancer! Suddenly, the DVD of my life went from ‘fast forward’ to ‘pause’. I went full force into the present moment. I was so used to thinking ahead. Don’t we all do that? We’re so busy  making plans, focusing on the future, that we miss the present.  Now I wasn’t so sure about my future anymore. Did I even have a future? What I had taken for granted would become extremely precious: my life.

The next day, I was in the oncologist’s office. I remember telling him about all the activities I had planned on participating in………..field trips, parties, various school events (my children were in elementary and middle school at the time). Would all of these things be possible for me now? He held me as I wept.

On October 1, 1998, the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I underwent a left partial mastectomy. Two weeks later, my husband and I met with the oncologist to discuss the next phase: chemotherapy. As a healthcare provider, I was well aware of the side effects and complications of chemo drugs. I remembered administering these kinds of drugs to patients, but now it was my turn to be receiving them!  I was nervous and scared. So many “what if” scenarios rolled over and over in my mind like rocks in a tumbler.

One week before my first chemo treatment, I was in church with my family. After the Mass was over, my children left with my husband to get the car. As I was walking down the aisle, I felt something on my shoulders, as though someone had placed a sweater over me. I looked behind me and no one said anything……………….and there was nothing on my shoulders…………but something was there…………I felt it.  As I passed through the vestibule, to the outside, I was overcome by a sense of empowerment, strength and courage.  It was as if the ‘sweater’ on my shoulders had become a cape of royal blue………with a large letter “S” emblazoned on it……………for ‘superwoman’! I knew at that moment I was “back to the future”. I was going to get through this challenge and come out on the other side victorious……….and I did!

About one year after my journey through cancer, I would enter into a season of my life that I had never experienced before. I did not know what was wrong with me, but I had lost all zest for life. Depression enveloped me like a shroud. It was as if I had been ushered into a barren interior wasteland. Days melted into months………which melted into years. I was going through the motions of my life like a robot: mechanical, methodical, devoid of passion. On a crisp fall day in late September of 2003, I remember walking through our apple orchard with the dog. The sun was shining brightly, the leaves were beginning their transition from the green hues of summer to fall’s red-golden foliage. Birds were singing and squirrels were busy burying acorns in anticipation of winter. Life was bustling everywhere around me but not within me. As I paused among the apple trees, I felt something on my shoulders………..as if someone had placed a sweater over me. Could one of the tree boughs touched me? As I looked around me and above me, none of the branches could have brushed up against my shoulders because they were too high in the air! But something was there……………I felt it. The ‘cape’ was back! Waves of hope poured over me. Like a withering plant receiving life-giving water, I knew at that moment I was beginning a new life from within. It took time, but slowly and surely, the seedlings of a new life broke through the parched surface. The barren landscape would eventually be filled with blooms of hope  and promise.

Several years later, I would cross paths with a woman who loved to share spiritual stories from her Native American roots…………stories that would leave me filled with wonderment and awe. One afternoon I felt compelled to share my cape experiences with her. After listening to my story, she said, “Heather, don’t you see? The cape you felt were the hands of God on your shoulders. That was His way of telling you that He had you covered. He would protect you, sustain you, and be with you during those difficult trials.”  Tears rolled down my cheeks. So God had been there all along with me……………….and I didn’t even know it!

In his book, Spiritual Rhythm- Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul, Mark Buchanan describes Jesus as our Companion in and through the darkest moments of our lives. Buchanan writes, “There is no darkness in which He hasn’t gone. There’s no darkness He won’t meet you in. There’s no darkness that can hide Him. There’s no darkness He won’t, in time, lead you out of. He’s your good companion. Your closest friend.”

Whatever physical trial you may be going through, whatever emotional hardships you may be experiencing, whatever doubt, fears or uncertainties you may have about the future, know that your Heavenly Father is covering you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge from the storm.

Namaste,

Heather

Unleashing your potential

My day began with quiet reflection in the book of Mark. I was reading the passage where Jesus healed the man with evil spirits. After the man was healed, he asked Jesus if he could follow Him. Jesus denied his request and instead told him to “go and tell what the Lord had done for him”. So the man went out and told his story to the amazement of the people. (Mark 5:18-20 my paraphrase). After reading that passage, Jesus’ words, “Go and tell” kept reverberating in my mind. Later that day, while out driving, I passed a church marquis that read, “Go and tell”. My eyes widened and my heart skipped a beat and I said out loud, “Lord, do You want me to ‘go and tell’ what You have done for me? I’m willing. I’m able. Just send me!”  From within my heart I heard, “I want you to tell your story in a book.”  Suddenly waves of dread washed over me. I reminded the Lord that it has always been a challenge for me to express myself through the written word. I also reminded the Lord about my experiences with English teachers in the past. How time and time again my compositions would be returned filled with red marks. “So why would You want me to write a book?”, I shouted. From deep within my depths, I heard a response, “Do you think I would ask you to do something that came easily for you? You have all the power and potential within you to meet this challenge. I will bring just the right people into your life to make this dream a reality.”

Eight months later, on December 1, 2011, I had the good fortune to meet Renato Amarena. He had just released his book, The Success Factor, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet with him. I told him about my dream of writing a book. He asked me if I had taken any steps toward making this dream a reality. I said “no” and proceeded to give him all the reasons why. I listed one obstacle after another. I told him about the trials I had with English teachers in the past and that I eventually convinced myself that I had no writing ability. After listening to my self-defeating words, Renato asked me, ” I want to know more about this book you want to write. Tell me your thoughts.”  Like a horn of plenty, my ideas spilled forth. I told him that I wanted to write a book about my faith journey and personal transformation. I shared ideas I had for the title and that the book would be organized around four central themes. I explained that the cover illustration would feature hot air balloons because I think they are a perfect metaphor for the spiritual life. After I finished speaking, Renato shared his thoughts about my situation.

It turned out that Renato’s perspective was the complete opposite of mine! I was focused on my weaknesses, but Renato saw my passion and creativity. I was dwelling on my limitations, but Renato saw my potential. I was content to stay in my comfort zone, but Renato was intent on launching me into a new realm of possibility. By the end of the session, he had helped me formulate an action plan. He suggested that creating a blog would be a good starting place for me to begin my adventure into the world of writing. The blogging experience would help me gain confidence in my writing abilities, without the fear of seeing “red marks” all over my compositions. He also gave me a copy of his book, The Success Factor. After scanning the table of contents, I realized that his book spoke personally to my situation and could serve as a kind of “map quest” for me as I ventured into this ‘new world’.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my daughter was working on setting up a blog page for me on WordPress as a Christmas gift. Her challenge was how to get my input for the blog’s title without giving away the surprise. She cleverly discovered a way around this dilemma. She knew that I was interested in offering spiritual retreats and so she asked me what I would  print on a ‘business card’ that would reflect this passion. I spent several days reflecting on her query and then told her that the card would feature a hot air balloon and the words, “From Tomb to Bloom: Creating a Life of Possibility”.

Two weeks later, on Christmas Day, my daughter handed me her laptop along with a web address. I typed in the words and received the surprise of my life! On the screen was a colorful hot air balloon and in bold print, “From Tomb to Bloom: Creating a Life of Possibility”. Further down on the home page, was a personal note from my children that read, “Merry Christmas, Mom. You have your own blog now!” Tears of joy, wonder and awe filled my eyes. Who would have believed this? Who would have believed any of this?! I published my first post on December 28, 2011 and now, almost 9 months later, I can say that I write with confidence and passion. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my story of transformation with people from all over the world. And, by the way, I just finished writing the prologue to my book!

Proverbs 20:5 reads, A person’s thoughts are like a water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out. (Today’s English Version) Renato Amarena has been a ‘person of insight’ for me. He saw my deep well of creativity, passion and potential and drew them out. Thanks to Renato, I have ventured outside my comfort zone and I’m now alive and well in a universe of possibility. I invite you to visit his website: http://www.SuccessFactor4U.com to learn more about Renato and his dedication to helping people achieve their personal and professional goals.

In the words of Isaiah, Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already……you can see it now!  Isaiah 43:18-19 (Today’s English Version)

Namaste,

Heather

Callings

I was a lost sheep, a prodigal daughter, who spent over 20 years running from God. I went to church every Sunday, but a person can still be a prodigal and sit in a pew week after week. In His perfect timing, God began calling me back to His fold. I didn’t realize what was happening at the time, but now that I look back at this incredible love story, I see how God drew me to Himself, and through that relationship, revealed my Divine purpose.

What I have learned in my walk with God is that the “experience” always precedes the “knowing”. When God told Abram in Genesis 12:1 to “go to a land which I will show you”, notice the “go” (action/experience) came first and the “I will show you” (direction/purpose) was revealed later. That is what happened to me. My experiences, like individual threads woven in and out of a piece of fabric, would eventually reveal a tapestry of transformation. God called this prodigal daughter, this lost sheep, back to the fold and then revealed her calling, her part in His kingdom plans.

I’m going to tell this story the way it unfolded in my life………….month by month, ‘thread by thread’. I think as you read, you’ll begin to see the tapestry taking shape.

Thread #1-December 16, 2007. It all began with a license plate. I was driving home after teaching my first class as a catechist, and while pausing for a stop sign, a license plate on a parked car caught my eye. The seven letters on the plate were COUNSEL. I was thinking that maybe the owner of that car might be an attorney. Hmmm. (I passed that same car every Sunday for a year!)

Thread #2-January 2008. I was home visiting my parents on Long Island and found a book titled, Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy. Hmmm.

Thread #3-February 2008. I rented a video titled, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, featuring Deepak Chopra. As I was watching the previews, one in particular caught my attention. It was about a man who heard God’s voice and he started writing their dialogue on a notepad. The movie was titled, “Conversations with God”. The next day I found the DVD and rented it. The film had a profound affect on me and I was wondering who I could possibly talk to about it. Only one person came to mind and I gave him a call. I asked my close friend if he had ever heard of that  film and he said it was based on a book written in 1996! Where had I been that I had never heard of that bestselling book? I then asked him if he thought it was possible to hear from God. He answered with a resounding “yes” and proceeded to tell me about his dialogues with the Divine over the years. Hmmmm.

Thread #4-March 2008. I was watching a Christian television program, “Marcus and Lisa” and their guest for the evening was John Eldredge. He was discussing his new book, Walking with God. Talk to Him. Hear from Him. Really. Later the same month I attended a diocesan conference and there was a local bookseller on the premises. It seemed that the prevailing theme of all the books was centered around “coming home” and “returning to God”. Hmmm.

Thread #5-April 2008. I was in the Christian Inspiration section of Barnes and Noble looking for books written by Bruce Wilkinson. While running my finger along the spines of the “W’s” I came across a book written by Dallas Willard titled, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God.  Hmmm.

Thread #6-May 2008. Once again I was at a bookstore and I found a devotional book written by Dallas Willard titled, Hearing God Through the Year. I Providentially opened the book to the entry, ‘Learning to Recognize the Voice’. The scriptural reference was 1 Samuel 3:8-9.  The story of how Eli helped Samuel recognize the voice of God. Hmmm.

Thread #7-June 2008. I found a devotional book written by Anita Donihue titled, Here I am, Lord. Once again, I Providentially opened to a page where 1Samuel 3:10 was the featured scripture. It is when Samuel tells the Lord to speak as His servant is listening. Hmmm.

Thread #8-July 2008. I walked into a local bookseller to pick up an order. As I was heading for the customer service counter, I caught a glimpse of a ‘yellow-orange ball’ in my peripheral vision. I looked to the right and about 10 feet away was a book featuring a brilliant sunset on the cover. The title of the book was, How to Hear the Voice of God by Susan Shumsky. Hmmm.

Thread #9-October 2008. I attended a diocesan conference at a local high school and during the break I went to the gym to check out the vendors. In the middle of the gymnasium there was a display featuring a radio station that was looking to set up in the Lehigh Valley. The station was “Hearing God’s Call Radio”. Hmmmm.

Thread #10-November 2008.  In the middle of the month, I received the December issue of In Touch magazine, a publication of Charles Stanley’s ministry. The cover featured a night-time scene of a home with its porch light on and a lit Christmas tree in the front yard. The prevailing theme of that issue was bringing the prodigals home. Hmmm.

As I look back on 2008, I call it my ‘homecoming year’. God was calling my name, wooing me back to Himself, restoring the connection my soul so desperately needed. It was through this intimate connection that He eventually revealed my Divine purpose.

January of 2009 would ‘herald’ my passion and the calling that God would place upon my heart. Again, as before, let me share my ‘thread by thread’ experiences with you.

Thread #11-January 2009. It all began with a quote from Einstein, “No problem can be solved with the same consciousness that created it”. That profound observation turned my world upside down. It made me realize that we have to change the way we think to get humanity headed in the right direction. Throughout the month, God was sending me “threads”, signposts, guiding me toward my passion and calling. The guideposts appeared on billboards, bumper stickers, brochures, magazines, books and in music. What were the prevailing themes? Unity, oneness, connection, building bridges and shifting our perspective from “me” to the collective “we”. What changed in my thought life? That together we are ONE. Seeking unity not uniformity. Dissolving distinction not diversity. At the end of January I found a book titled, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, MD. As I was reading, I came across a word that I did not recognize. The word was ‘cathexis’. It is a noun that means an investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object or idea.  Little did I know at the time that the word ‘cathexis’ would come back into my vocabulary in a life-changing way.

Thread #12-February 2009. On February 4th I was taking the last class of a 4-week course on the History of the Church, a requirement for catechists. At the end of the last lesson, I learned that Jesus had a final prayer to the Father and it is found in John 17. It was after the Last Supper while Jesus was still with His disciples that He prayed this special prayer. I never knew that!  When I got home, I read John 17 and five times Jesus prays that “they all may be one”. When Jesus repeats anything I pay close attention. After reading John 17 several times that night, I realized that oneness was something that Jesus was very passionate about. That scripture had a profound affect on me. It was as if the verses leaped off the pages of my Bible and landed in my heart and took root in my soul. The very next day, February 5th, I was scheduled for a four-hour shift at a local department store as part of a ‘community day’ fundraiser for the Cancer Support Community. On my way to the store, I got behind a car that had a seven letter word on its license plate: CATHEXS.  The only reason I knew what that word meant was because I had looked it up the month before. Hmmm. While I was setting up my display, I heard music playing overhead and started singing along. The lyrics were, “C’mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together try to love one another right now.” Hmmm.   As I placed the discount shopping coupons on my table, I noticed that the words “CommUNITY Day” was written on each one. Hmmm. Taking my seat, I prayed quietly, “Lord, I get your message loud and clear! There is a white-hot passion, a cathexis, burning in my heart about unity, connection and ‘becoming ONE’. I feel a sense of overwhelming peace and joy pouring over me. Amen”. The seedling of a calling was taking root.

Thread #13-May 2009. On May 23rd, in the middle of the afternoon,  I was sitting in my serenity garden and I asked the Lord out loud, “What can I do while I’m still on this earth to make Your Son’s final prayer come true?” From deep within my heart I ‘heard’ the answer: “I want you to create a place, a sanctuary, where people can come to rest and reconnect with God, themselves and others.” That same day, I went to the 5:15PM Mass and guess which gospel was the scriptural basis for the homily? John 17!!!!!  I looked heavenward and smiled broadly. The calling that had taken root in my heart and soul was beginning to bloom.

Thread #14-July 2009. After attending an organizational meeting for “Hearing God’s Call Radio”, I was driving home and passed a billboard that caught my eye. In large letters was written, “Listening is just the beginning.” It was a new slogan for Lafayette Ambassador Bank. Hmmm.

Take a moment now to stand back and look at all these threads from a distance. Can you see the tapestry of a transformed life taking shape? Can you see the Divine Thread that is woven throughout? It is a story of redemption and grace. It is a life filled with passion, purpose and possibility. It is a partnership, co-laboring with God, to fulfill His mission in the world.

So what am I doing now to answer God’s call on my life?  My blog is a way that I can share my experiences and walk with God with people from all over the world. I am also excited about launching my new program, “A Sanctuary Experience: Come to rest and reconnect with God, yourself and others”  at my parish this October. It will coincide with Pope Benedict XVI’s ‘Year of Faith’ which will open on October 11th and run through November 24, 2013. The ‘Year of Faith’ is aimed at reconnecting Catholics with their faith and bringing people closer to Jesus.

God still speaks. He calls us into a relationship with Him. He invites us to draw close and listen as He reveals Himself. Then He invites us to join Him where He is at work in the world. No matter how long you have been running from God, no matter where you are in your life right now, He is calling your name. He wants an intimate and personal relationship with you. As you spend time with Him, and your relationship grows and matures, you will eventually discover your calling, God’s Divine purpose for your life.

Namaste,

Heather

Celestial Guidance

I always believed that it was possible to know God. We could learn about Him through the Bible, going to church and listening to homilies and sermons, as well as reading spiritual literature. I did not know that it was possible to experience Him. That would all change on Ash Wednesday, February 25, 2009. I was at the noon Mass and the priest read a letter written by the bishop of our diocese about how, through suffering, we can experience God.  He wrote that when we are carrying our crosses, Jesus is right along side of us sharing our burden. It is in that sacred moment, when we dialogue with Jesus, that our union with God grows. It is in that sacred moment where we experience God.

After the Mass was over, I sat in the pew and reflected on the bishop’s message. Of all the years I’ve been going to church, I’ve never heard anyone speak about experiencing God. I wondered if I had ever experienced Him. Later that same day, I was finishing some shopping when I decided to stop in at a nearby Barnes and Noble bookstore to see if there was anything interesting in the Christian inspiration section. Sipping a hot chocolate,  I was looking at the various book covers when one in particular caught my eye. It was a picture of a bearded older man holding a staff and the one side of his face was bright yellow-orange. His face was reflecting a light, but from what? And who was this mysterious man?  It wasn’t until I flipped the book over that I noticed a picture of the burning bush. That’s when it all ‘clicked’. The man was Moses and the burning bush was where he encountered God. And guess what the title of the book was…………………Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby! I opened the book and read the preface. I want to share a part of what Henry Blackaby wrote with you:

” At one point the publisher suggested we call my work, “Knowing God”, but I said absolutely not. My concern was that God’s people were already immersed in Bible studies and Christian books that gave them an enormous amount of information about God. As a result, sincere Christians were coming to church every week learning more and more about God, but they were not experiencing Him…………..They needed to know that He is a Person with whom Christians can enjoy an intimate, growing, loving fellowship.”

After looking over the table of contents, I became intrigued by the book and decided to purchase it. What did all of this mean? Talk about Divine synchronicity!  I thought to myself, “Lord, I know You are sending me a message here. Is there more to our relationship than I think is possible? Can I really experience You?”  About one year later, May of 2010, these questions would begin to be answered. I was in my quiet time with the Lord when I was thinking back on some very difficult trials I had been through. I took a piece of paper, and with my pencil, starting drawing the topography of my life.  I made several valleys, drew crosses over them and wrote the corresponding dates. After several moments of reflection, I received a ‘fresh revelation from God’. In the still, small voice, He spoke to my heart, “Draw an ‘x’ in the middle of each of your crosses. That is the place, the intersection, where kairos intersected with chronos, where I broke through into your life. The place where you experienced Me.”  I thought to myself, “So it was during the toughest trials of my life that I experienced You?”   “Yes!

I picked up the pencil once again, and drew an ‘x’ in the middle of each cross on the sheet. God was right there in the middle of each of those crises. He saw me through every one of those trials and brought me out to the other side. I was experiencing God and never knew it! All of a sudden, a new picture emerged on the paper. Instead of crosses there were now stars! The crosses in our lives can be the place where we experience God and those encounters can become ‘stars’, a celestial navigation system, by which we can guide others to Him. Stars burn and illuminate and the burning  passion of our experience of God will light up our faces and lives. It isn’t just our testimony but the glow of new life in our eyes that will radiate transformation. I remember when people began telling me that I looked ‘different’, I had a ‘glow’ about me and they wanted to know what it was that made the difference. I told them that it wasn’t what I had but Who I had and I couldn’t wait to tell them about Him!

Take a moment and look at the picture at the top of this page. Notice the large star on the right-hand side. If you look closely, you can see that it is also a cross with an ‘x’ in the middle of it. Notice how bright it is. When we experience God, our countenance glows and people’s lives can change as a result of our story. A wonderful example of this is the woman at the well in John 4. She experienced God, received new life, and I’m certain that her face glowed “like a star” as she told everyone about her encounter. And as a result, many believed and wanted to experience Him too.

The trials in our lives can be filled with anguish and the weight of our crosses may be beyond our ability to bear. But there is hope, for God is there with you in your suffering. I invite you now to get a piece of paper and pencil. Draw your valleys and crosses, then place an ‘x’ in the middle of each one of them because it is in that sacred intersection where you experience God. And as your union with Him grows, you will learn His will for your life, be filled with purpose and have a passion to proclaim Him to others.  As St. Paul wrote, “You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life.” Philippians 2:15-16 (Today’s English Version).

Be a star and guide others to the Lord just like the star that led the wise men to the baby Jesus so many ages ago……………..

Namaste,

Heather

The blessings of living in Christ’s yoke

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.  Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

A yoke is a wooden beam or frame by which two draft animals are joined at the head or neck for working together. It allows a load to be carried in two equal portions. By being yoked together, the animals can work in union and be in step with each other. From a Biblical perspective, the yoke is a symbol of submission. In Jeremiah 27, the prophet Jeremiah is told by the Lord to make a yoke out of leather straps and wooden crossbars and to put it on his neck. The message that Jeremiah was sent to proclaim to the people was one of submission.

I stepped into Christ’s yoke on July 5, 2008 in the middle of the afternoon. I affectionately call it my “declaration of dependence” day. I had finally come to the end of myself. All my plans had turned to ashes and living life ‘my way’ was not working anymore. So, I gave up, gave in and gave way. I surrendered my life to Christ and accepted His invitation to take His yoke upon me. My life has been blessed in so many ways since then and I want to share these blessings with you.

Rest and Renewal- My ‘plate’ was full and my ‘tank’ was empty for so many years. It was as if my soul was withering away and in dire need of spiritual nourishment. Now, in Christ’s yoke, I have found rest in Him and a life-sustaining connection.

A Lightened Load- I used to be heavy laden and struggled to carry my burdens alone. Now, yoked to each other, He and I carry my burdens together and I am using His strength and mine to keep moving forward.

Freedom and Peace- When I surrendered my life to Christ, I let go of a life of self-sufficiency and independence. Upon releasing my life into His hands, and taking His yoke upon me, I experienced a deep peace and a sense of freedom that I had never known before. In a transfer of trust, God was now in charge of my life. He has become the ‘pilot’ and I am now the ‘passenger’……………wherever He goes, I go.

A Sense of Balance- My life was always filled with activity and busyness. Wanting to please others, and be all things to all people, I over-extended myself. In Christ’s yoke, I have learned about balancing action with solitude. He has taught me how to balance my availability to others with resting and connecting with Him.

A Mentor for Life- In Christ’s yoke, I am His apprentice and we are travelling companions. I walk with Him, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, in step with God. We look at the road ahead together, and He shares His perspective on my life and circumstances. I have learned that when difficult trials and dark valleys come my way, He accompanies me into and through those experiences. I have learned that when I am in my desert times, and God is silent, that I’m not alone………..He is always walking beside me. And I have learned that when I’m on the mountaintops, looking back from whence I came, that walking with God is about trust and enduring faith.

Personal Transformation and Discovery of Divine Destiny- In His yoke, I have been transformed by the renovation of my heart and the renewal of my mind. I know now that when you’re in step with God, yoked together, aligned with the Divine, you have positioned yourself for the miracle of life change: my ‘old self’ passed away and a ‘new self’ has emerged. As my will submitted to His will, His passion became my passion, and my Divine destiny was revealed to me. I have been called to be a ‘bridge’, helping people to reconnect with God and each other.

Empowered from on High-I have learned and experienced that a life of surrender in Christ’s yoke is the channel through which God’s power flows. It is a power that opens supernatural doors, provides supernatural opportunities and infuses you with Divine ingenuity. I am discovering that when you’re in partnership with the Divine, empowered from above, all things are possible.

When Jesus offered me His yoke, His intention was not to crush me further and add even more burden to my life. It was an invitation for personal transformation and an opportunity to co-labor with God in His Divine plan for the world. When you take Christ’s yoke upon you, it will bless your life in ways you would never have imagined!

Namaste,

Heather