Sunday, October 30, 2011

Engagement 10/28/11

First of all, I'm engaged!! Whoohoo! I have an amazing fiance and am so blessed :) The engagement was incredible, but I'm looking forward to marriage. I cannot wait to marry my best friend and the man my soul longs to be with. Its an amazing feeling. I remember not too long ago (actually only 6 months ago) when I was single, asking God who my husband was going to be and what God's plans were for me for the next year! All the patience and obedience has paid off. All my praise goes to the Lord for the work he has done in Mike and I to bring us to this point of engagement.

On to the engagement story...

So for the past month I've been antsy. I was trying to be patient, but hey, I'm a girl and I dream and I yes, almost every time Mike and I hung out one on one, I wondered if "this is the night he's going to propose?!"

So Friday night I had wonders if he would propose, but didn't want to get my hopes up too high. He had told me about a week and a half ago that he wanted to carve pumpkins. I started thinking about him proposing by carving out "will you marry me?" in a pumpkin. HEY, remember now, I'm a girl...AND we met 4 years ago (possibly to the day) at a pumpkin carving party. So the wheels in my head were turning.
BUT, like I said, I went into the night thinking, "Heidi, just have fun and relax."
So, Mike picked me up at 6pm. He said how hungry he was and asked if I wanted Jimmy John's. Our favorite place to eat :) At Jimmy John's he said, "How about we take it to my place? It's loud in here anyways." As we were driving away I said, "Oh, where are we going to get the pumpkins from?" And he quickly replied that he had already gotten them for us. wheels really got going.
On the way to Mike's house he suggested that we get Juice Stop. Another favorite of ours. So we took our Jimmy John's and Juice Stop and headed to Mike's house to eat. When we got there, we noticed an amazing sunset...we both REALLY love watching the sunset together :)

We then ate dinner and then Mike suggested that we carve our pumpkins. I was thinking, "oh boy, here it goes!" We decided to not show one another what we were carving until the very end. We baked some pumpkin seeds while carving, then showed each other our pumpkins. "One, two, three, go!" Haha. Mike carved a funny face, while I carved a romantic Eye Heart U. No proposal here.

Mike then suggested we go on a walk. We love taking walks together. We usually go right outside of his apartment. As we got outside, I turned to go to the bike trail and Mike said, "Actually, lets drive somewhere to go for a walk. Does that sound fun? You know me, and I like to be adventurous!" I was a little confused but decided it was better to just go with the flow. In the car I asked which park we should go to. Mike quickly responded with "How about the Big Sioux Rec Area out in Brandon?! How about we climb the hill to lookout over Brandon?!" One of our favorite parks :)
As we arrived at the park, we realized that we needed many layers of clothing and a flashlight to find the trails. It was quite the adventure finding the trails, but the stars were out and it was actually a really beautiful night...just a bit cold! As we started approaching the hill, I looked ahead. I figured if he was going to propose that there would be candles or something lit up. When I didn't see anything, I tried to put to rest my hopes of becoming a fiance Friday night. We got to the top and stood there looking out over Brandon. Suddenly Mike stated, "I'm hot. I'm going to go take off my jacket." I was a little confused as it was only 40 degrees out, but didn't ask questions. He went over behind a bench and bent over.

All of a sudden I was surrounded by Christmas lights lit up!!

Mike had bent over to plug them into the car battery he had hauled up there earlier that day!

I yelled out, "OH MY! Oh my goodness, Oh my goodness! Is this really happening? Am I dreaming? The lights are beautiful!" I jabbered on for a while as Mike pulled me to the center of the lights and got down on his knee. I couldn't believe this was ACTUALLY happening!

He then said some things about God's plan for our lives and how he brought us back together. I was so giddy and looking all around and laughing. Finally he grabbed my hands and said, "Heidi! Focus!" I was like, "OH OK!" And he said, "Heidi, I love you! Will you marry me?" I responded quickly with, "I WILL! YES! Of course! FINALLY!!" We then enjoyed the moment in each others arms. I went over to one of the Christmas lights to take a peak at what my ring looked like!

We grabbed some pictures and Mike gave me a dozen red roses :) Roses...another love of mine.

At the end, Mike said, "Ok, this is the not so romantic part! We have to clean all this up!" Needless to say, Mike cleaned up while I stood there smelling the roses and looking at my ring under the flashlight.

As we made our way back down the hill, and arrived at the car, Mike's friend was there switching out the cars. I must rewind for a moment. Way back in April 2009, Mike took me out in his old Camero on our first date. While we were eating at a restaurant one of his friends came to switch out the cars. SO, it was only fitting that our first ride as an engaged couple was in his old Camero :)

SO, there ya have it! He did an amazing job and gave me a more beautiful ring than I could have dreamt of. More than that, I am so blessed to be engaged to the man that I love and will call my husband soon!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Releasing expectations

As many of you know, I recently went on another trip to Haiti! What a joy it was to be back. From the outside, perhaps the trip looked much the same from other trips: amazing team, hiked the mountains to do medical clinics, spent time with the orphans and youth, worked around the orphanage, spent time with the locals, and prayed.
However, what was VERY different was the work the Lord was doing in me...

Expectation #1: Co-lead the team, being involved in everything going on.
Lesson learned: Being reminded that I cannot be in all places at once, but God can.

Expectation #2: Become BFF's with team members.
Lesson learned: Haha...ok, maybe not best friends, but close friends. On previous trips, I was able to make some solid connections with many of the girls on the team. I was used to hearing their testimonies, sharing mine and becoming great friends. However, on previous trips, I was single. This time my boyfriend Mike was a part of the team :) I was happy he was there, but didn't realize how 'different' it would be to not be that single person that floats around and gets to know everyone. God was doing a lot of 'breaking down' within me, which caused for me to have to learn that I'm not going to become BFF's with everyone on the team. I still felt like I connected with the was just different than I had expected.

Expectation #3: My boyfriend Mike and I would have an amazing, easy-going time.
Lesson learned: Even though we said we wouldn't have expectations of one another, we did! It definitely wasn't an easy trip for us. We learned a ton about each other and ourselves...both good and bad. Thankfully, God's grace was over us and we have since been able to grow in our relationship through this experience together.

Expectation #4: The orphans and youth would be around as much as they have been on previous trips.
Lesson learned: Since the orphans moved to the new orphanage, they are not 'around' as much. I had to make special trips over to see them. I was used to them greeting me with smiles at the compound. Now I was having to seek them out. The youth was also pretty scattered. Some of them were around a fair amount, but most of the time, the compound was pretty bare. (Side note: I think its really healthy for the orphans to be in the new orphanage. They have more of a schedule and don't get disrupted as much with teams coming and going. I believe that overall this is a great move...I just had to go through some personal adjustments)

Expectation #5: We would see some spiritual craziness/awesomeness.
Lesson learned: We cannot 'make' God do anything. In his timing he will heal. In his will he will bring people to him. And perhaps we didn't 'see' anything 'crazy awesome' we still need to believe that it was happening. That all our prayers were being heard and lives were being changed. And that, is the important part. People coming to know Jesus. I was being reminded that we don't need to see to believe. P.S. please pray for this girl that is stuck in a wheelchair in the mountains.

I suppose I could call these 'bigger' expectations the Lord was breaking down within me.
There were some other expectations, however, that were met!

Expectation #6: I would get to spend time with my friend Darline.

Expectation #7: We would sweat.

Expectation #8: We would eat rice and beans...and fish with eyeballs!

Expectation #9: We would share the love of Jesus.

Expectation #10: We would be changed forever.

This boy came to one of the clinics. He probably had a simple wound, but since he didn't get medical care when it first happened, he came to us with a severely infected wound. We take our medical care for granted!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Grandma's Marathon 2011

It really happened...again. I ran another marathon! I cannot believe that it was here and gone already.

Saturday June 18, 2011 proved to be quite the day. The morning began with down-pouring rain. As I looked out the window of the hotel, my mom and I chuckled at what was to come. And really, the rain didn't end up being the issue...

To preface the run....
Charisse and I go way back. We met through church about 4 years ago. Ok, so maybe we don't go 'way' back, but it feels like we should :) Charisse is what I call a 'soul sister'. Ever since I met her and have gotten to know her, we've realized over the years that our spirits connect in much the same way. Not only do we see God in similar ways, but we also have similar morals and values, work in the 'baby world' together, we understand each others ways of thinking, and we have even physically, emotionally and spiritually hurt when the other person is hurting.

And over the past few years we have found out that not only do we run a similar pace in life, but also on the road.

So, as I thought about running this marathon, I didn't waste a moment asking Charisse to do it with me.

As we began our run, I felt great. The rain had stopped. We were at a good pace. Lots of excited people around us. And one of my best friends at my side. What more could a girl ask for?!

However, after only a few miles into the run, I began to sense that something was wrong with Charisse. I could tell she was having to really work to get into pace, to tell focus. She abruptly stopped running after only 2-3 miles into the run. She said she was having troubles breathing. We then tried setting a little different pace, but still had the same results. For 16 miles (!!!) we ended up doing a walk/run...more walking than running. For many of those miles I tried to encourage Charisse, pray over her, push her, walk with her, love on her, etc. But nothing was seeming to work! She tried to convince me for many miles to run on ahead without her. I was determined though to stick with her. I wasn't in this race to win it after all!

However, after many miles of us going back and forth...Charisse trying to convince me to run on without telling her I wouldn't leave her side...she won. She finally said, "Heidi, I think you might be the 'problem.' I think I feel like I'm holding you back and I need you to go on without me." When I finally had that release, I felt ok leaving her. I knew that she would be ok. I knew there were plenty of people around to take care of her if something happened.
So at mile 16 I took off.
I don't know many people who can say at mile 16 they felt awesome, but I did. I feel like it was actually a blessing from God that I hadn't extorted all my energy...that I felt so good. I felt like I was sprinting. As I ran by people I had enough energy and 'peppiness' to encourage them, cheer for them, push them to keep going. I even had some guy yell at me as I passed, "hey lady, you have WAY too much energy for mile 20." And with a big smile, I turned around at him and said, "Thanks, I KNOW! And hey, way to go. You got it. Push it to the end!!"
I was filled with so much joy in running the last 10 miles. Words just cannot explain it. I was also able to catch up to a co-worker of mine and run with her for a while. Finally at mile 25 she told me, "Heidi, you have WAY too much energy for this point. Please go on without me and push it all the way to the end." And that was just what I needed to sprint the last 1.2 miles to the finish.

Charisse ended up coming in after me only a few minutes later. She said that after she had 'released' me, that she felt so much better and was able to run without walking! Praise God.
We still don't understand why it worked out that way. But we both agree that its what needed to happen. For some reason we were both suppose to run our own races that day. We also both have great stories of people we were able to run with the last 10 miles. People that we were able to encourage. People that we probably wouldn't have encountered unless we were NOT running together.
I guess God had it all in his plan.
I also got another little blessing at the finish line. I had originally had a goal to finish the marathon in 4 hours, 45 minutes. However, when Charisse and I had those difficulties with the first 16 miles, we were projected to finish well over 5 hours. I had battled deep within myself to 'get over it' and just be a good friend. It was honestly a very tough battle that went on within me as I tried to stick it out with her. God did a lot of work in me to help me to release my expectations of finishing in that time and instead to just trust in Him.

With that said, with the energy that I had to run the last 10 miles, I was able to make up for lost time. I finished exactly in 4 hours, 45 minutes and 46 seconds!
Wow is all I could say. I'm still amazed.

I write this blog many months after running the race. I had started writing it out a few days after the race, but really couldn't find the words to say or what the race even meant to me. This race just didn't go as 'planned'. However, it wasn't a bad race in the end. If you would have asked me though (during the first 16 miles) what I thought of the race, I would have probably grumbled. However, looking back now and seeing all that God had planned for the end, just amazes me. A good reminder that when we cannot see the end in sight, we need to keep trusting that God has all things in control. And that he CAN and DOES see the end.

So, with that said, I was finally able to finish writing my thoughts on the race. I have many more, but this will do. I'm also able to see the bigger picture (perhaps) of what the Lord has been teaching me this summer. I feel like God is trying to ween out of me some expectations that I've set up of myself and others. And I think this marathon was just the beginning of breaking through expectations that I have on this race called 'life' :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mother Teresa

I think most people know about Mother Teresa. An Albanian born in 1910, she felt the Lord’s calling to serve Him at the age of 12. After becoming a nun, she felt a strong pulling to serve the poor in India. Mother Teresa’s ministry focused a lot on love and compassion, genuine love and heartfelt compassion. I recently read her book “No Greater Love.” Many of her words touched me and moved me into prayer.

“Souls of prayer are souls of great silence…Listen to silence, because if your heart is full of other things you cannot hear the voice of God. But when you have listened to the voice of God in the stillness of your heart, then your heart is filled with God.” Lord, help me to be still. I want to hear your voice clearly.

“There are many medicines and cures for all kinds of sicknesses. But unless kind hands are given in service and generous hearts are given in love, I do not think there can ever be a cure for the terrible sickness of feeling unloved.” Lord, as a nurse, it is so easy to give medications or ‘quick fixes’ for pain and sickness. Help me to be reminded to always love on my patients. With kind words, healing hands and a selfless heart. All we need is love.

“If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed, you won’t be discouraged; if anyone calls you a saint, you won’t put yourself on a pedestal. If you are a saint, thank God; if you are a sinner, don’t remain one.” I pray for a humble heart O Lord.

“Once, someone asked me, “Why do you go abroad? Don’t you have enough poor in India?” So I answered, “Jesus told us to go and preach to all the nations,” That is why we go all over the world to preach his love and compassion.” Lord, I pray I never forget your people all over the world. Their sufferings. Their hunger. Their hearts. May your love be shown today, especially to those in Haiti.

“Whatever you do, even if you help somebody cross the road, you do it to Jesus. Even giving somebody a glass of water, you do it to Jesus.” Lord, I want to have a heart that would give everything up to just have you. Remind me in the small things I do, that I do it for you.

“However beautiful the work is, be detached from it, even ready to give it up. The work is not yours. The talents God has given you are not yours; they have been given to you for your use, for the glory of God.” Lord, I pray that I’m not attached to my job, my community, my status, my materialism. I pray that I’m attached to you alone. I’m willing to give everything else up. But not you. I pray the things you have given me would be used for your glory.

“Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self.” Create in me a selfless heart O God.

“Suffering will never be completely absent from our lives. So don’t be afraid of suffering.” Lord protect and guide me through times of suffering.

“A vocation is a gift of Christ. He has said, ‘I have chosen you.’ Every vocation must really belong to Christ. The work that we are called to accomplish is just a means to give concrete substance to our love for God.” I pray that each and every gift you’ve given to me, God, is turned back to you in praise, honor and glory!

“We all have been called by God. As missionaries we must be carriers of God’s love, ready to go in haste, like Mary, in search of souls; burning lights that give light to all men; the salt of the earth; souls consumed with one desire: Jesus.” All for you, Jesus. In everything I do, I pray I do it for you. I love you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unpacking my thoughts

I recently moved (again!). Moving always makes me think about what’s important. As I pack and unpack items, I think to myself, ‘Do I really need this?’ ‘Why have I held on to that?’ ‘If I haven’t used it/worn it since the last move, then perhaps it needs to go!’
As many of you know, I went to Haiti in January for two weeks and then back again for a week in February. I haven’t blogged since. I just haven’t been able get my thoughts to come together to write. I still have troubles thinking about what to share. There is just so much. Where do I start?? These are many of the same feelings I had when I needed to start packing to move. Where in the world do I even begin?
I started my packing process by sorting through items that should be packaged together. Perhaps that’s where I can start this blog-sorting through.

My first trip was January 4-19. I went with 3 other people. None of us knew each other. We all met in the hotel in Miami. In fact Rachel’s flight had arrived really late and so I met her in the morning by rolling over in bed to introduce myself! We still laugh about it. We were each going to Haiti for different amounts of time. Sue (a nurse from Sioux Falls) was going indefinitely to work in the clinic by the orphanage. Richard (a retired wood-shop teacher from Milford, IA) was going for 6 weeks to do carpentry work. Rachel (a student from Washington) was going for 4 weeks. And I was going for two weeks!
Arriving back in Haiti was a spectacular moment. As we drove down the main road into the village, a couple of the youth I had met in July were following us on their motorcycle. Also, some kids jumped up on the top of our truck and road up to the orphanage with us. When a team comes, it seems that almost everyone from the village makes their way out to the road with waves and smiles to see who is coming!

I was so excited to see all the orphan kids again. They greeted me with hugs and smiles. My heart melted. It was also so fun to see Cory and Lynn Grimm and their kids. They are from SD/IA area, but moved down to Haiti in November to do full time missionary work. I knew Cory from my trip in July, and had briefly met his family, but was anxious to see where the Lord would lead our friendship in the weeks to come. Many of the youth also came to the orphanage to see who was on the team. One priceless moment sticks out in my head. The night we arrived, I was sitting around with a bunch of the kids chatting when a few more showed up. It had gotten quite dark out, but I still was able to recognize Junior from my trip in July. I shouted out, “Hey Junior, do you remember me?!” His darkened face looked puzzled, and he replied, “I cannot see who is saying that!” One of the other youth kids shined his flashlight onto my face and immediately Junior smiled, jumped up and ran over to me with a big hug. I guess he remembered me!
The two weeks were filled. Most days were spent working at the clinic with Sue, Rachel and Adrien (a Haitian/American man who helps run the clinic). We saw anything from common colds to broken arms to charred toes to open wounds (many from motorcycle accidents) to crazy high blood pressures, etc. Rachel and I also spent a lot of time with the youth, translators, orphan kids and the Grimm family. We learned Creole, laughed about our language mishaps, went hiking, did house visits, prayed together, swam in the ocean, played with the kids, held tea parties, watched Richard work hard(!!), talked with Cory and Lynn and so much more! The second week we were there, a team from 1st Reformed Church in Sioux Center, IA joined us. Incredible people, with incredible hearts. We joined up together to do vacation Bible school, projects around the orphanage, working in the clinic, praying with people, worshiping with the youth, hiking the mountains, etc. I really enjoyed my time with them and hope our friendships continue in the future!

I better keep moving on…no pun intended.

I went back again to Haiti from February 7-14th. This time I went with three others from my church (The Crossing): Jenna and Kyle Hoff and Michelle Beemer. We joined up with a team of 8 others from Alcester, SD.
This arrival was again so fun. We had plans to do projects around the orphanage, clinics, vacation Bible school, leading youth group, and playing with the orphans. So much to be accomplished in such little time.

However, this trip was so very different than the trips before. The trip was very hard spiritually. I remember upon arriving to the orphanage, Pam stated, “Team, we need to be in prayer a lot this week…there is something heavy around here.” And boy was she right.
The first to get sick was Kyle. He actually got sick in the airport before arriving into Haiti. We think he probably had strep throat or something to that manner. When we got to the orphanage, we soon learned that Cory was under the weather and was enjoying his trips to the latrine. As we were getting settled, Pam soon revealed she was suffering with a UTI. We also learned that Junior (one of the youth) was sick at home. As the week went on, Nestli (one of the orphan boys) had bad stomach pains and fevers, Richard got shingles in his mouth, Jenna had a stomach ache, one little boy got his fingers smashed in the gate of the orphanage and also, I spent about 24 hours in bed with weakness and vomiting.
It was pretty clear to me that Satan did not want us there. And I was so happy to be disturbing his plans!
One of things that had been on my heart before leaving for Haiti was praying for ‘big things.’ I just feel that it’s so easy to put God into a box. And just as it’s easier, when moving, to carry a box rather than other awkward items, sometimes the things we need the most don’t fit into boxes.
Back in November, before I even really knew Lynn, I had felt the Spirit moving me to pray with her to walk(as she is in a wheelchair). As I headed back to Haiti again, I couldn't get her out of my mind. But now, she wasn’t just this woman in a wheelchair. Having deepened our friendship in January, I now considered her a close friend and a woman I admired so much. I didn’t want to force anything on her or bring on any disappointment. I decided to just pray that God would open up an opportunity to pray.
For youth group one night, there were some Haitians that had wanted to lead. This meant it was going to be on ‘Haitian time’ AND go however long they wanted it to go! I was ‘preparing myself’ for an all nighter.
The worship and service was all in Creole. They sang many hymns and had a few speakers. I’m not sure what they talked about, but it was clear that they loved “Jezi” Jesus :)
After I thought they were about done, they invited Starlon up for prayer. She is a 12 year old girl that we had been praying over many times before. She was supposedly ‘demon-possessed’. We had prayed over her when I was there in January, but hadn't seen any demon manifest itself.
Many people gathered around to pray over Starlon. It seemed like we prayed forever and weren’t getting anywhere. I had just closed my eyes when “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” was shouted out before me. I quickly opened my eyes to see Starlon being thrown all over the place. She was soon rolling on the hard, dirty cement floor, screaming, and clearly possessed.
Lord, forgive me for my doubt.
We continued to pray for the demon to be bound in the name of Jesus. There came a point when she stopped and the guy that had been leading the prayer time went up to her and asked her what her name was. With a grimaced face and a growl, we quickly knew we needed to keep praying. As we started up again she again started screaming and flailing herself all over the place. I’m not sure how long we prayed again before she came to another halt. This time she got up, looked around the room and went to sit down in her chair. Her face spoke loud enough to have said “What in the world just happened? And why am I covered in dirt?” The man that was leading prayer again approached her and said, “Who are you?” In her normal voice, she responded “Starlon.”
The man then invited Lynn to come up for prayer. My mouth probably dropped a little. Was Lynn really coming up to be prayed over?! Lynn wheeled up for prayer and we all surrounded her. I looked around as we started praying. Many team members surrounded her. Also, some of the youth. But not just any youth. Some of the vital parts of the youth group were praying with all their hearts. Many of the orphan kids gathered around Lynn's feet. Their big brown eyes staring up at Lynn with wonder and hope as they prayed. Lynn’s husband Cory stood behind Lynn, along with their daughter DD. I thought to myself how special it was to have him in that position. No matter what happened that night, he was standing behind his wife with prayer and trusting in the Lord’s provision for their lives.
Then there was Lynn in the middle. Her head bowed, tears rolling down her cheeks, and her hands open to receive from the Lord whatever He had for her.
As we prayed a couple of people shared thoughts, visions, and words they were receiving from the Lord. I think this all brought us a lot of hope…at least it did for me. We never did see Lynn walk that night, but I felt a certainty on my spirit that Lynn was going to walk. I didn’t know when. I didn’t know how. But there was a reassurance.

I feel somewhat hesitant to leave those words on this blog. Even to type them was somewhat difficult. I’m not sure who will read this or what they will think. However, I remember what I felt that night. I remember KNOWING that the Spirit of God was surrounding us. And as I said before, it’s been on my heart to pray for ‘big things’ and to let God out of this box I try to keep Him in. So I continue to pray for Lynn’s deliverance from the wheelchair. And until she walks, I won’t stop praying for it.

I’ve been able to unpack many thoughts on here. Thanks for reading. Whether or not you are in line with what I’ve said, I pray that you would open up the box you’ve been keeping the Lord in, and allow him to show you even bigger things. Maybe it’s time we all clean out our spiritual closets, invite the Holy Spirit in to fill the gaps, and then just sit back to watch Jesus move.