Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Feelings on the Whole Thing...

...or Not

Since the Chik-fil-a President, Dan Cathy, came out in defense of traditional marriage, I have seen enough of people's opinions on the subject to fill the Library of Congress (twice).  I promise you this post is not my personal feelings on the matter, although I have really wanted to share my thoughts and feelings on the controversy, I can't think of a respectful way to do so.  Until I can present them in a respectful manner, I keep my feelings [mostly] quiet.  My husband said I should say something, because I do feel so strongly and he's probably tired of listening to my rants, but I just never could.  Matter of fact, I have started and surreptitiously deleted about 4 blog posts in the last few months.

Today, during one of my few [and far between] quiet moments, while I was reading on the amazing freedom that we have through Christ Jesus, I found this little nugget of scripture.  I've read the verse before, but I just love how the Word of God presents itself as new and fresh in times like these.

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor (1 Peter 2:17a)

I guess that pretty much sums it up, not my feelings on the subject of marriage equality, but my feelings on the whole controversy.  We haven't been treating each other with very much respect and I think a little respect would go a long way in helping us to (in the very least) live with our differences.

The truth of the matter is, I don't have to agree with your system of beliefs, your point of view, your political opinions or your choice of life partner...but I do have to show you respect.

Honestly, I may not respect your system of beliefs, your point of view, your political opinions or your choice of life partner...but I WILL show YOU respect.

I realized today, that what angers me the most is that we [in general] see the issue so clearly, but we neglect to see the people behind the issue.  When we spout our rhetoric, we seem to forget that there are people who are being so disrespected by our words.

My beliefs on the subject are mine, and they will stay that way until I can share them without hurting a single person.  I will vote my convictions, I will pray for my friends, my family, my neighbors and my nation, and I will show proper respect to others.  I only ask that you do the same.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lessons learned from Job

This has been one of those weeks!

I don't mean one of those weeks where a tire goes flat and you find out that your kid's dental care and the other kid's glasses are going to be way more than you can afford and you wonder where you're going to get the money, that was last week.  Last week was stressful, this week was impossible.

First, I saw the urologist and he wants to do surgery to get rid of a kidney stone, which measures about 8mm and is going to be very difficult to pass.  Surgery is scheduled for May 24th and if I'm honest, I'm very nervous.  I'm not nervous about the procedure, but I am nervous about passing the stone.  The surgeon will break it up into small pieces, those pieces have to leave my body and there is only one way for them to come out.

He put me on a sodium bicarbonate supplement to help "soften" the stone, which caused all of the fluids to back up in my system and even my nose was bloated.  Friday morning, I sneezed three times.  As soon as I did, I knew that I had hurt my neck.  I have had a tricky disk for years, where if I'm not careful it slips out of place and takes about 2 weeks, Advil and some chiropractic care to get it back in place.  Meanwhile, I can't turn my head, wash my own hair, drive a car or lift anything.  Hugging my kids is difficult, and it gets really easy to feel sorry for myself.

Tuesday is the day that this all started, but something else happened on Tuesday.  I taught the story of Job to about 40 kids on Tuesday.  The main point of our lesson was "I will follow God when everything around me is going wrong!"

The Bible tells us that Job was a righteous man, and that he was blessed by God.  One day God asked the Adversary (I love how the Common English Bible describes Satan as the Adversary) if he'd thought about Job.  What happened next, was a onslaught of attacks on Job's family and his livelihood.  In a matter of minutes his children died, his camel were stolen and his sheep were burned up in a fire.

Not for one second did Job feel sorry for himself, but he did cry and mourn his family.

Not for one second did Job blame God, instead he worshiped him and thanked him for the blessings in his life.

Half of his children were murdered and the other half were killed by a tornado but he didn't blame God or feel sorry for himself.

He worshiped God!

Is that what I did?  When I found out that I was going to have surgery?  When I injured my back?  When my husband wouldn't let me go hang out with the kids I teach the Word to 4 days a week?  When I missed church this weekend because sitting up for longer than about 20 minutes causes me pain?  When I missed an event Sunday night that I really wanted to attend?  When I couldn't take an Advil because it could cause complications with my surgery?

Did I worship God?

Unfortunately, no I didn't!  I cried like a baby that I couldn't hang out with the Dream Center kids on Friday!  I cried all morning on Saturday, that I missed the worship service that we hold at the Dream Center on Saturdays!  I felt sorry for myself when my family went at church without me, and I got really angry when I realized that the one thing that could get the swelling to go down in my back is on the preop "Do Not Take" list.

Then I got a wake up from the Holy Spirit!

My kids are healthy!

The kids that come to the Dream Center, have a lot of other people who step up and minister to them!
I have access to the best medical care in the world!

Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!"

Thank you Job, for setting such an amazing example!

Thank you Jesus, for taking my failures to the Cross!

Tonight, I worship my Savior!

Tonight, I take my eyes off of my circumstance and fix them firmly on the One who holds my future!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Operation 2012: The Best Sermon I've Ever Heard!

That statement sounds a bit hyperbolic, doesn't it?  I know what you're thinking, "Really, the BEST sermon you've EVER heard?  Seriously?"  But yes, and I've heard a lot of sermons.  I was born the daughter of a Southern Baptist Preacher, and for the first 21 years of my life I never missed a service and there were usually 3 a week (21 x 52 x 3=3276) and for the last 3 1/2 years, I've been a one sermon a week girl (52 x 3.5=182).  If you add in revivals, mission trips, conferences and the odd weekends, during the rebellious years, when I would go to church occasionally, I've definitely heard close to 4000 sermons in my short 37 years on this planet.  Honestly, some of those sermons were God-breathed just for me and some of them went in one ear and out the other.  But, this one, was amazing!  So amazing that I listened to it 3 times and plan on listening to it again.

What made it so special?

For starters it felt like it was only for me, but I realize it might not have been so I decided (in case someone else struggles with spiritual identity) to share my notes and some commentary (and a nice little link for the sermon, so you can listen too).

On what you think:

1) The thing you think about most, the thing that has your focus, has dominion over your life.

2) Focusing on what you don't want or what you want to change will bring about more of what you don't want.

3)  Seek first His kingdom and the power of His kingdom has dominion over your life.

That, my friends, is straight from Matthew 6:33!  So, instead of focusing on what needs to be "cleaned out" of your life, focus on Jesus first and let him straighten it all out.

On who you are:

Your parents did not think you up and bring you into existence, God did.  He came that you may have the life that He gave you in the beginning.

Your birthright and DNA determine who you are:

...and not the trauma of your birth circumstance

Did you hear that?  Even if you were the product of rape, an unplanned pregnancy when your mother was 14, dropped off at an ER and raised in an orphanage, etc.  You are not determined by that, your DNA is what it is, and it's not BIOLOGICAL (thank God)!  It's who God created you to be!  God conceived you, your biological parents were just the vessel!!!

For me, personally, this IS HUGE!  My mother is amazing!  I love her more than life itself, and credit the woman I am in large part to the strength that she has displayed throughout my whole life.  My father, on the other hand, was abusive, hypercritical, demented and evil when I was growing up (and he was a Pastor, so he made me good and angry at God).  I have been told, my whole life, that "he made me what I am, so I should be grateful to him and show him respect."  To be reminded today that GOD made me who I am, and not my biological parents, was SO healing and it may be for some of you too.

...and not the family that raised you

Did you grow up in a dysfunctional home?  Did you feel like you didn't belong?  Were you told that you would never be good enough?

Doesn't matter, that doesn't make you who you are!  God made you who you are, and that can't change!

...and not the forces set against you

Let's face it, Satan is the enemy of all that is Holy and he is DEAD SET against you fulfilling your destiny and becoming who you were created to be.  He sets forces against you, every day, especially if you're seeking God's will.

Doesn't change a thing!

...and not the hurt that has been inflicted on you

Bullied at school? Raped by a friend or family member?  Abused as a child?

Doesn't change one thing about who you are!

...and not the turnings of your heart or the leanings of your soul

Turned your back on God? Decided that he doesn't exist? Chasing false gods?

Doesn't change your DNA, doesn't make your birthright as His son or daughter any less real!

On discovering who you are:

Instead of working to learn everything you should know, become who you are.

The more time you look into your Heavenly Father's face, the more you will see your true self in His reflection. Remember you were made in His image!

That's it!  There is no list of rules to follow or steps to take, just spend time with your Father.  Worship Him, talk to Him, seek Him!  You don't have to know everything, you don't have to do everything.  Seek Him first, and all the rest...

...He'll add it, over and abundantly above what you could ever dream of asking!

In case you want to hear this AMAZING sermon for yourself, I've included the link!

Because God works in each of us differently, after you watch it, come back and tell me what it meant to you!  What did you learn?  What little nugget spoke directly to something that you have been facing?  I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Is War Worth the Cost?

            I saw a bumper sticker once, and I will never forget it because at the time my husband was in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom and as his wife I needed to believe in what he was doing or the 12 months that he was supposed to be in Iraq would have been impossible to bear.  The bumper sticker said, “Except for ending slavery, fascism, Nazism, and Communism war has never solved anything.”  I appreciated the sentiment and it really helped me to be a supportive wife but my husband came home and my thoughts on war changed as the true cost of war became a reality in our home.  My belief that we should not allow tyranny when people have a right to be free will forever battle with my desire for no family to have to go through what we have.
            My husband deployed to Iraq in March of 2004.  On his first day in Iraq his convoy was ambushed and his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device.  His head hit the windshield and he bounced into the passenger side window.  He was diagnosed in the field with a concussion, given a cold pack for his head and he continued on his way.  His vehicle was repeatedly hit with explosives during the convoy from Kuwait to just north of Baghdad.  For several days, Michael was disoriented and dizzy, but when he requested further treatment he was told that he was overreacting and was sent back to duty.  He remained in Iraq a total of eleven months and twenty-eight days.
            When he came home, I was so excited and ready to get on with our lives.  Our first weekend together was supposed to be a second honeymoon; I got us a hotel room and sent the kids to a friend’s house.  When I first saw him I ran to him, kissed him and hugged him.  I noticed when we hugged that he winced and only hugged me with one arm.  I knew that something was wrong but I wanted to enjoy our weekend and figured we could deal with whatever it was later.  The weekend was more like a getaway with my friends than a romantic weekend with my husband.  We went shopping, ate in restaurants, talked, took walks together and drove around the city for a little while.  When we got to the hotel room he would sit on the end of the bed watching old sitcoms until the alarm would wake me.  Any time I reached to touch him; he would recoil like my touch burned his skin.  I spoke with several other Veterans’ wives and they all said that he just needed time to decompress from being in a high alert environment and that he would be fine once he got into a normal routine.
            I spent the next couple of years trying to keep things as normal as possible, with a husband who was withdrawn, angry, depressed, and in physical pain.  He was diagnosed by a counselor at the Veteran’s Hospital with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and was taking medication for anxiety which helped some but he was having problems that seemed more cognitive in nature.  In 2007, he was administering a brain function screening to Soldiers who were getting ready to deploy.  They absolutely hated it and to see what they were complaining about, he took the screening himself.  The results were consistent with a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.  His cognitive function, memory and processing speed were greatly diminished.  He sought treatment at the Air Force Hospital, the Veteran’s Hospital and at local civilian hospitals.  When we finally knocked on enough doors that the Veteran’s Hospital agreed to do a full neurological work-up, the psychologist dismissed most of his symptoms as Post Traumatic Stress and signed him up for group therapy.  In the one phone conversation we had with the Psychologist, she told us that she didn’t believe that he had any brain damage at all and that the inconsistencies in his evaluation led her to believe that he was manipulating the system to get a higher disability rating.
The more he struggled with day to day life and the more we tried to find help, the more frustrated he became and one afternoon, he lost his temper and went too far.  He says that he reached to put his hand over my mouth because I wouldn’t be quiet, but what he did was place his hand around my neck.  He finally realized what he was doing when our children started screaming and he ran out of our house.  When we talk about it now; he says that he thought for a moment that he had killed me.  He drove himself to the Veteran’s Hospital and they admitted him on psychiatric watch.  He was taking too much of his medication, and had eight times the prescribed dosage of his anti-anxiety medication in his system.  Once all the extra medication was out of his system they sent him home with no further treatment.  We started seeking counseling from a private psychologist instead of the Veteran’s Hospital and he started showing some improvements but his cognitive ability was on the same level as an eight year old.
We never stopped looking for help and in the summer of 2010, more than six years after his vehicle was hit with an explosive device, we found a treatment center that would take him as an inpatient.  The center is located in Virginia and we live in Arkansas, which meant that he would have to leave his wife and children to fight another battle, the battle to regain his ability to function as an adult.  I am happy to report that my husband has made a miraculous recovery but he will never be the man he once was.  Every single day is a struggle.  Things that we take for granted, like reading and writing, are no longer a simple task.  He takes on every challenge and works as hard as he can to set goals and obtain them.  He truly is an inspiration, but his life after deployment was much harder than it should have been.
Looking back on the last eight years, it’s easy to see where the Army, the Veteran’s Hospital and the Air Force Hospital did not provide proper treatment to my husband.  Sadly, he isn’t the only Veteran that has received insufficient care.  In the article, Invisible Wounds of War, RAND Corporation estimates that in October of 2007 there were 320,000 veterans with probable Traumatic Brain Injury.  At the same time, the Defense Medical Surveillance System had only identified 113,816 Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries.  The Department of Defense has gotten much better at screening the brain function of Soldiers before and after deployment and the diagnosis numbers drastically increased after 2007 but there are a lot of Veterans from the first 5 years of conflict who, like my husband, are struggling through life with no idea what is wrong with them.  There are many spouses who don’t know why their Soldier is a completely different person and many children who don’t understand why daddy can’t read to them anymore.
I asked my husband if he would do it all over again, if he would go to Iraq knowing that his vehicle would get hit and that it would change everything about him.  He said he would do it again every single time.  He gets frustrated sometimes that there were so many missteps, that diagnosis and treatment took so long.  However, he was in Iraq when the 2005 elections were held, and saw all the people walking around proudly with ink stained fingers and he says that memory is worth all the struggles of the last 7 years.  He has seen true tyranny, and he acknowledges that the cost of war is high, but the cost of tyranny is even higher.
I think of our story and I struggle with whether or not war is worth the very high cost.  People should have religious freedom, little girls should be allowed to go to school and we should all be free to choose our own way of life, but is a single life lost or irreparably altered worth those freedoms?   I think the question should be not whether war is worth the cost, but whether or not we’re willing to pay the high price of freedom and provide our Veterans with proper care when they return home.


Tanielian, Terri L., and Lisa Jaycox. Invisible wounds of war: psychological and cognitive injuries, their consequences, and services to assist recovery. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2008. Print.

" DVBIC - TBI Numbers." DVBIC - Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2012. .

Operation: Telling Our Story

I'm going to publish a paper that I wrote for my Literature class.  My teacher asked our opinion of war and whether or not it was worth the cost.  I wrote the paper as academic as possible, so there are some parts to our story missing but you'll get the general idea.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Operation 2012: Go ye therefore...

Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Tonight, we had our annual missions meeting at our Church.  We talked about where we do missions and why, and how blessed we are to be part of a Church that has so many opportunities to go on missions trips.  We currently have 19 trips scheduled, and more are sure to arise as the year unfolds (they almost always do).  We are sending teams to war torn Rwanda, earthquake ravaged Haiti, tsunami affected Japan, among other places.  Orphans, High School students, Widows and the like, will not only be taken the Good News of Jesus Christ, but will learn that people all over the world love them and pray for them.

Last year, I had the opportunity to go to Haiti twice, and both trips were a blessing.  My husband Michael went with me on the trip in July and we got to help in the Church of Hope's Vacation Bible School or "BBS" as the Haitian kids called it.  We had an average of 450 kids per day who got to hear a Bible Story, do a craft, play some fun games and get a hot meal.  In November, I went with a team of women from our Church, and we spent our days cleaning houses in the villages surrounding the Mission of Hope and our evenings having a Women's Conference similar to ones I have been to in the US.

My first love when it comes to missions, is and always will be Haiti.  The people of Haiti have so much joy and a true desire to know Jesus.  Worshiping and serving with the Haitians is so rewarding.  I hope to return there this year, and take my 10 year old daughter with me.  She has such a servant's heart and truly loves being with children.  I can't wait for her to meet Micherline, Pierre, and all the other orphans at Mission of Hope, that I have grown to love.

This year, another country has really stolen a piece of my heart and Michael and I feel called to go to Rwanda.  A couple of years ago, The Watoto Choir came to our church to perform.  Even though Watoto is in Uganda, a video they showed was of a boy who had been a Soldier in Rwanda and is now a refugee in Uganda.  Like Michael, the boy suffered from PTSD and struggled with a past that included him killing innocent people.  Since we saw that video, my husband has gone through treatment for PTSD and sought spiritual counseling for resolution of the guilt that comes from taking another man's life.  This boy's story, much like Michael's, was a story of redemption and renewal and as we sat in the missions meeting tonight it felt like Rwanda was calling for us to come.

The trip leader talked to us about how the former barracks for the Soldiers of Rwanda was given to the Diocese to build a school that would train new pastors, and I got tears in my eyes.  What a beautiful picture of redemption, and it is so similar to Michael's.  He was once a Soldier, and felt like God couldn't love him because of his taking other lives, and now he has surrendered his life to the Ministry and is going to school to learn to be a pastor.  Much like those buildings in Rwanda, Michael has been re-purposed for the Kingdom of God.  I scribbled a note to him on the back of our information sheet, "Rwanda's Story of Redemption = Michael's Story!"  We must've looked like a couple of fools, crying and holding hands in the middle of a meeting but we both knew at that moment, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rwanda is where God wants us to go this year.

We got home and did the math, and we need to raise $10,000 dollars to go on both mission trips.  That seems like an enormous sum of money but with God, all things are possible.  We ask you to join us in praying that God provides the funds, like he has so many times before, for us to live out his calling on our lives.  We'll be setting up an Etsy page and putting handmade items up for sale and doing some other fundraisers.  We just know that God will make a way.

If you're interested in supporting us financially, please let me know.   Send us an e-mail at

In His Name,


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Some people can, and some people...

My 11th grade English teacher told me to never take up writing as even a hobby that "Some people can and some people can't!"  I think I hear those words in my head whenever I sit to write a paper, a blog post, almost anything.

And I started thinking, about all the times I let those words, "Some people can and some people can't," hinder me along the way.  Every time I start to write a sweet note to my husband, kids, a friend.  I struggle for words, thinking I sound silly or inappropriate.  When I go to pray for a friend, I stop and say, "I'm praying for you," and keep all the wonderful things that I want to say to her to myself because I don't want to sound like a "babbling brook."  That was his "special" commentary on a speech I gave once, that I sounded "like a babbling brook in that I made a lot of useless noise that would put any sane person to sleep."

Today, my college professor says: "I enjoyed reading your paper!  You are an excellent writer!"

What?  I'm an excellent writer?

To my 11th grade English teacher I say this, "Some people can, and some people are full of it!"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Operation 2012: Honoring God with Our Time

I saw this on a friend's Facebook post the other day:

Have you PRAYED about it, 

As much as you've TALKED about it?

Replace the time you spend talking about your problems, with time spent praying about your problems.  That will honor God, and He'll definitely show up in a big way!

Jeremiah 17:5-8

5 This is what the LORD says:
   “Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
   who draws strength from mere flesh
   and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
   they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
   in a salt land where no one lives.
 7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
   whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
   that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
   its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
   and never fails to bear fruit.”

Monday, January 2, 2012

Operation 2012: Honoring God with Our Bodies

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 

When I was growing up, this verse was used often to try and get me not to write on my hands and to "teach me" that tattoos were a sin (and worse a permanent sin).  Seriously, I'm not sure that's what Paul meant.  I mean tattooing "Jesus Lives" on your chest would, in my opinion, honor God but that's superficial and in the light of eternity may not mean a whole lot.

Honoring God with our bodies had more to do with what we do with our bodies, how we take care of our bodies and what we put into them.  Consuming a whole pizza with a six pack of beer and a half gallon of ice cream on the side isn't honoring God.  Sitting on the couch, day after day, becoming more lazy, more overweight and less active isn't honoring God.  Starving yourself and depriving your body of what it needs to function properly is not honoring God.

Step one of 2012, for the Heisler family, is eating better.  Cleaning up our diet is going to take some work and isn't going to happen overnight.  Michael has a sweet tooth and eats when he's bored and I have a tendency to binge on raw cookie dough in the middle of the night.  My kids LOVE candy and sodas as much as any other kids, and watching the disappointment on their faces when I tell them they get applesauce instead of Skittles breaks my heart.

We can clean up our diet though, we have to, Michael and I aren't getting any younger, and we're starting to notice the signs that we haven't been taking good care of ourselves.  Bigger waistlines and slower moving bodies aside, we're also having trouble with blood pressure levels and keeping our blood sugar stable.  For the first three months of 2012, Michael and I are doing the BodyByVi Challenge and if you're want to lower your calorie intake, increase your lean muscle mass, and getting those pesky pounds off the challenge is a great way to do it.  I'm sure the challenge, plus cleaning up the pantry and fridge and hitting the drive through a little less will get us moving in the right direction. 

Speaking of moving, that's Step 2!  We have got to get our bodies moving.  Michael and I are really bad about exercise, both of us have injured body parts and back problems that give us an easy excuse to stay seated on the couch.  We're starting slow...ten to twenty minutes on the Wii as not to burn ourselves out, and we'll gradually increase intensity and time.

So come on and join us!  What are you waiting for?  Remember, we were bought at a VERY HIGH PRICE!

Don't forget to come back and check our progress, I'll be posting it here starting next Monday.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Operation 2012---It's all about Jesus

It's not a New Year's Resolution, per se, but it is definitely this years meme.  The Heisler family is dedicating 2012 to making the name above all names, Jesus, famous.  Through our lives, our actions, our giving, our service, everything we do to the glory of His name.

We started off 2012 in a HUGE way, sharing our testimony and the Word of God in a small local church this morning.  I don't know how well we did, but I do know how God showed up.

The founding Pastor's widow said to me as we were leaving, "You brought us a revival today!"

I can't wait to see how God uses this small congregation, but what she doesn't know is that the revival that started today was my very own personal revival.  Finally, I am fulfilling the call that I answered when I was 11 years old, the call to ministry.  Who would have known then that my future husband would receive the same call 26 years later and that his obedience would bring me to obedience as well?

God knew, that's who!

I can't wait to see what he has for us in 2012, nor can I wait to see what he has for all of you.