My church gave out necklaces with words on it, words that were meaningful to your story. Words to hold on to and words to share. I got grace, which is a story for a different day, but what I wanted was Brave. Brave was one of the first to run out. A church full of woman on Mother’s day and many were seeking bravery. I was one of the many, but why? Shortly after, I had the opportunity to hear a woman speak about peace, the middle east and how she is connecting globally with woman of all beliefs and backgrounds. Her voice crackled occasionally but she was full of passion and compassion. She told of trips she took and brave truth in love conversations. I was fascinated. This petite woman was mighty. She was brave. At the end of the talk, I stood in line to speak to her. I stepped up and jumped right in with my story about all the brave necklaces running out and why do you think that is? Why are we all searching for bravery? She almost froze. She started to reply that she does not know anything about the necklaces. She missed it. I circle back explaining that I was not looking for new necklace but that bravery was what women on Mother’s day wanted more than anything else, more that love, joy, grace etc. Woman want to be brave. She now understood but I believe she was so caught off guard, she did not have much to say. She did not see it. Before me stood a brave woman telling her story bravely and I don’t believe she knew she was brave.
I have thought back to that moment several times. Overall I am a quiet person, but I can be a bit overwhelming to people when I have something on my mind and if it is on my heart, whoa, watch out. I now recognize how I could of better approached her and pulled back, pulled back my 8-ness for all you fellow enneagram followers. More importantly, I think back to bravery. Why didn’t she recognize it? Why do we want it?
Time to dig in.
adjective: ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.”a brave soldier”
courageous, valiant, valorous, intrepid, heroic, lionhearted, bold, fearless, gallant, daring, plucky, audacious; unflinching, unshrinking, unafraid, dauntless, doughty, mettlesome, stouthearted, spirited; informal game, gutsy, gutty, spunky, skookum “they put up a brave fight”
Ready to face danger and pain? Yikes, maybe I am not looking for bravery. If I want it am I inviting danger and pain in? Brave. Brave. Brave. I like comfort and I like peace (again 8 all day) but I have been learning that I was made to do hard things. The hills and valleys of my life have taught me grit, endurance, confidence and grace. These things have prepared me or gotten me ready to face and endure danger or pain. The thing is, most days I don’t feel brave and not sure I want it. I am not even sure what the feeling of brave is anyway. When I wanted that necklace with the word brave on it, I think the thoughts of boldness, fearless and heroic were more of the words floating in my head. I wanted those titles. Strong words are appealing to me but I’m not searching for scary words like enduring pain or danger. Courage is a word that is appealing but at the same time sounds weak on a necklace. Courage. Courage. Courage is not the same as brave, similar. I need to explore it. What is courage?
noun: the ability to do something that frightens one. “she called on all her courage to face the ordeal”
◦ strength in the face of pain or grief. “he fought his illness with great courage”
bravery, courageousness, pluck, pluckiness, valor, fearlessness, intrepidity, nerve, daring, audacity, boldness, grit, true grit, hardihood, heroism, gallantry; More informal guts, spunk, moxie, cojones, balls
Interesting. With courage, one isn’t necessarily ready for the danger or pain. Ready sounds like one was prepared with intentional planning. Courage is a noun, an ability not a an adjective like brave. Courage means you are still frightened and do it anyway.
That awkward conversation taught me something about bravery and subsequently courage. The bravest actions are not from brave people. They are from people like me and like you. People who may or may not be ready to face danger and pain but instead people who say yes to the whispers from God. They are people of courage who sometimes stumble upon bravery. Whether they are ready before the yes or whether God prepares them along the way, they say yes and take a step forward. In that step, they may not see where their foot is going to land, but they have faith that God will guide it, prepare it and light the way for the next right step.
That brave woman, was no expert in bravery so didn’t claim the title. She had courage; courage to yes to God and over and over took the next right step. This is what bravery is, one who has courage and exercises courage repeatedly. She may have not felt ready but God equipped her and she said yes and has not stopped saying yes.
So, are we looking for bravery or are we truly looking for courage? The answer is yes. We need to start with courage and if we live our lives by saying yes even when we are frightened or faced with pain and grief, bravery will stumble upon us too. May we all be brave people, may we be ready and when we are not, may we be filled with the courage to take the next right step even if we don’t know where we are going to land. May we have faith like a child with are arms up in the air, looking into the face of our father instead of down at our feet.
I do not need a necklace to remind me, I have my sisters to encourage and tell me it is okay to be scared, just go do it anyway. As I remind myself, I remind you also. If you are hearing a whisper, if God is opening new doors for you, have faith, step forward scared— God has got you.
“So take me back, back to the beginning, when I was young, running through the fields with you.
Oh make us like children.”
Let it Happen by United Pursuit
Today is a day of celebration.
Fifteen years ago today, Nate C. Heick was born and our lives were forever changed.
Nate means “gift from God” and he truly is a gift. We strive to be better parents, better people every day for him.
C. was meant to be a permanent reminder of his roots and honor my grandparents. Nate has a twinkle in his eye like my grandfather and a little naughtiness that reminds me of childhood stories he used to tell. He is witty and feisty like my grandma. My prayer is that Nate would learn to love and care for people and live a life worthy of his calling like my grandparents did.
Heick. Nate will always be a Heick. These roots are God honoring, loyal and hard working. This name comes with a large network of supporters and friends we are blessed to call family. They open their doors and hearts and welcome others in. My husband and I both come from these types of families. On occasion, we all get together and an outsider watching the interaction would have a hard time picking who the actually siblings were. We are all friends. We are all family.
On his 10th birthday, my doctor called to tell me that there was NO cancer left in my body, my scans had all come back clear. Today marks 5 years C-Free! Today is a beautiful reminder that Nate is a gift from God and my life is a gift from God. My life is a miracle. I was given a second chance at this one wild adventure. It is beauty from dust.
The thing is, your life is a miracle too. You are here for a purpose. You are loved. What are you going to do with this wild adventure?
I’m still not 100% sure my purpose in this adventure so I have committed to loving God’s people, every day in whatever form it comes. Sometimes it is fun and easy and other days it is a true challenge. I am thankful for my warriors around me that rally and encourage me. I am grateful for my biggest fan, best friend and supporter, my husband. (I wouldn’t want to do this adventure with out you, Sweets.)
This portion of this song has been in my head for days….Beautiful Things by Gungor.
You make me new, You are making me new…
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us.
So, be made new friends, beauty from dust, join me on this wild adventure and celebrate with me. God is good.
I’m standing on the ball of my foot and the other is resting on my toes. I’m looking left to right, near and far assessing everything. I’m about to move. I’m ready. I keep scanning trying to determine where I am supposed to go, but I am still unsure. So, I hold this position and I wait.
This is my life right now. I know something is coming and I am doing all I know to do to prepare for this unknown next step. I prepare and hold, prepare and hold. My dog is a pro at this. She hears something, smells change and freezes in a pose that is ready to spring to action. This is me, frozen but I am tired and somedays discouraged.
What is next? Honestly, I don’t know and not knowing is okay! Even typing that is hard some days, not knowing IS okay. Truly not knowing drives me crazy at times but then I remember that the plan is good because God is in control. God knows my name, my heart and even the hairs on my head. His plan is better than I can imagine so today as I stand ready to sprint. I will wait and be patient in the waiting. It will all be worth it.
How can you be sure?, you wonder. I am sure because God has not failed me yet. I’ve had hard life lessons and came near to death and yet I am grateful for each experience. Each season of life has made me who I am today. Each season made me stronger, taught my heart to love and to find beauty everywhere. I definitely do not wish to relive the disappointments, hurts and brokenness of life but I would not erase them either. Hard seasons develop our resilience, our grit. When we have grit, we get back up, dust off and go again. When we get to the other side and begin to see where we are to go, we know it was all worth it. There is beauty in the ashes. After winter, spring always comes. When I am in the hard or waiting season I need constant reminders of the beauty in that season as well as reminders that spring is coming.
Today, I read a blog about Sisterhood and that we need each other. I almost stood on my chair and yelled AMEN. I needed this reminder. Today, I got a phone call from a sister to encourage me to write, keep writing. I needed this reminder. Today, a sister reached out to grow me in my faith. I need this reminder today. Today, I read a FB post of friend coming out of a long winter and discovering her spring again. I needed this reminder. Today, my sis texted me to say “keep at it, those ideas are good.” I needed this reminder. So, TODAY, may I remind you that spring is on its way. Be patient in the waiting, stay ready- your time is coming. Keep seeking God and your path will be clear.
You’ve got this because the plan is good. Now reach out and be the reminder that someone else needs today. It’s time to rally sisters, tell everyone spring is coming.
May you know this grace and grit love. Ari H.
words by: ari heick
I am a runner. (Pause…I too am picturing that fit pony tail bobbing friend all Nikeed up, please stop lest I disappoint. I am not THAT kind of runner. Friends, you can stop giggling now.)
I have a tendency to run to keep my schedule full, to be everything to everyone, to make my mark. I am a YES girl. I want to do it all. I am a runner.
Almost 5 years ago, I was forced to stop running. It was not a gradual slow down. Life came to a halt. I was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. (If you, like me at the time, don’t know what IV means, there ain’t no V.) Instead of running and filling life with more, more activities, more volunteering, more social events, more I had to cut everything that was not necessary to live and be still. My days were spent in quiet times with my family and finding laughter and tears in crazy things like shaving my head, daily shots and strange taste buds. I stopped running and learned to be still, to be present, to enjoy every moment instead of rushing through and racing to the next. I spent many hours weekly in doctors’ offices and surgery rooms but the hours were treasured.
On Saturdays I didn’t miss a football game. I bundled up and slowly inched out to my watch son’s football game. Win or loose he was always full of life and energy after a game. His joy filled my heart. My littles snuggled up and would spill hot chocolate so we all smelled delicious. They cheered on their big bro by dancing around my chair, creating forts and an occasional shout out to the field.
On Sundays, I sat in the balcony at church surrounded by my people. It seemed as though every message and every song was for me. It was a time of encouragement and reassurance that my family was going to be fine. Early on in this season, a preacher said, “God has got this!” and I knew He did. I did not worry, most days anyway. I did not know the outcome but I had a peace that only God could give.
Mondays I rested because the few activities of the weekend would wipe me out. Occasionally, my mom and sisters would take me for a lap at Costco. The community around me had rallied and provided months of meals, so I didn’t need much in the way of groceries, I think it was more of getting out in the community and trying to feel normal.
Tuesdays were “Ty Tuesdays”. Three precious friends, picked up my kindergartner at 9am every Tuesday. They loved him and spoiled him as their own before dropping him off to his “dream team” afternoon class with Mrs. Carney. There is no greater gift to a mom than loving her children. To this day, we will drive by a nice restaurant and he will comment that he “hasn’t been there in awhile”. My heart warms and I smile thinking of these friends that chose to love my family by loving my Ty Guy.
Wednesday through Fridays were filled with afternoon naps with my newborn niece sleeping on my chest, short visits from family and friends bearing food, flowers and gifts along with an encouraging word or hug and rest. I spent many hours in silence and in prayer. I had thought I would Netflix binge but I quickly discovered that I had little tolerance for noise and for wasting time. I want to truly live the moments I had with all that I had. I refused to miss out. The best evenings were snuggling with my kids and reading stories. In that season, we all knew the value of time, there were little tears, little fighting and arguing or maybe I just let those memories go. I remember the sweetness. I remember my family, young and old taking care of me with small and large acts of kindness. Everyone slowed down, everyone stopped running.
I am coming up on 5 years cancer free in a few months. That season taught me many lessons; Prayer works, Miracles do still happen, Community is important, Love hard and Stop Running. I am more protective of my time. A wise friend taught me the Covey “Good, better, best” method of valuing my time. I am choosing more wisely these days. I am more present. I am more grateful for all that life brings me. I am fully aware that God will get me through any trial that comes my way.
I want to say that I have stopped running but the world creeps in and the pace quickens and I find myself running again. The difference now is that I recognize it. I know that I am not my best self, best wife, best mother, friend, sister, daughter when I am running. I have learned to stop and slow down, breathe deep and
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted.” Psalm 46:10 (New American Standard)
“The LORD will fight for you while you keep still.” Exodus 14:14
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5-6
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
The Healing at the Pool
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie— the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
John 5:1-9 (NIV)
The exchange with the sick man and Jesus is quick but interesting. The man has been lying next to a known healing pool for years, even decades. If he could make it a bit further, he would be healed like the many others he has watched go by. We don’t know why he can not make it to the pool, there are many possibilities. Maybe he has no friends nor family to carry him the rest of the way; maybe because of death but maybe he has burnt all his bridges. Maybe people are frightened by him or maybe he is a jerk or maybe it is an aggressive scene and he just doesn’t have it in him to fight anymore. We don’t know why but we know he can not make it to the healing pool. All of this is interesting to ponder but what is truly curious is what Jesus asks him and asks of him.
Jesus asks, “Do you want to get well?”
What? The man has not been able to walk for 38 years and Jesus ask if he wants to get well. We know the heart of Jesus and we know he means what he says, so let’s explore this. Do you want to get well? Do I want to get well? The quick response in my head is a sassy, “ummm, yah”. But in these situations I have learned that Jesus has something to teach me. I must pause, surrender, slow down and ask Jesus to speak to my sassy hardened heart.
Do I want to get well? The initial response is a screaming YES, of course I want to be well and then a little thought begins to sprout in my mind. In 2010 I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, which is a whole story or 12 in itself, and I was given an oral chemo to continue with indefinitely. The medication has some crummy side effects. My body has mostly adjusted to it but I still have days of pain. The best way to describe this is when you get the flu and your body aches and you don’t want to move. This is the pain. There are other medication options out there but with this one, I know the pain of side effects and know I can deal with it. I fear the unknown. I’d rather deal with this pain then start with a new medication and whatever it’s side effects are. I fear the unknown so I stay in pain. I think we do this in life. We stay stuck even though the situation is not ideal because we fear the unknown. We would rather manage the trouble we have instead our facing fears or doing the hard work to get out of it.
Do you want to get well? The question carries a heaviness.
Of course everyone wants to be healed, right?
The bestie of fear is worry. When we do not know what to expect or what the future holds (which is actually always) and anxiousness takes over and begins ruling the show. Decisions are made or not made because of the “what ifs”. Somehow we think worrying is doing something when we are uneasy or unsure. Over and over the Bible tells us not to worry, that it is a waste of time. (Mt 6:25-34, 11:28-30, Phil 4:6-7, Lk 12:24-34, John 14:27) Instead of worry, we are to pray, trust and have faith in God’s promises. Worry is a distraction that keeps us from the best version of ourselves. It is not helpful nor productive but our minds deceive us into thinking it is what we are supposed to do when in actuality it is not doing anything and even destructive. The world has taught that worry is a way of showing you care. Jesus teaches instead of worrying, surrender it in prayer. I have had situations in my life where this surrender took place every day, several times a day. When I begin to worry, I stop and pray and ask for God’s will be done and for the peace that only God can give. I have felt this peace and have been given miracles, pray works. Do you want to get well? Read your Bible. Learn God’s promises. Pray, surrender the worry and repeat.
I think back at early times in my marriage when I would get angry at something my man did and I could not let it go. I pouted, maybe even stomped a bit but for sure I was going to let him know he was wrong by staying angry. Later in life I heard anger described as “false control.” It is a reaction to something you have no control over and you retaliate with anger in order punish the other person. (If you’ve never heard that before, think and pray on that. It is eye and heart opening.) Anyway, I was angry. I chose anger and I chose to hold on to anger for the remainder of the day. Do you want to get well? Honestly, my answer would have been no. My anger was a choice and I wanted to be angry. I did not want to be well or healed or anything that would have stopped the punishment. Fortunately, I have grown by leaps and bounds in this area and rarely get angry at my man. Maybe I still get angry but I am able to let it go so quickly that I do not remember the times I do get angry. My eyes were opened and I was able to see that I was punishing myself more than I was punishing him. I ruined my own day and decided that life is too short to hold on to anger. How about you? Are you holding on to anger? Do you want to get well?
I think of those who struggle with addictions. Do they want to get well? Yes, but… there is often a but. Family and friends around them are crying and praying for the Yes but it doesn’t come. At times it even appears as if the answer were yes, but the change would be too hard. Life would have to change, friends would have to change. Admitting there was a problem and the guilt and shame that surrounds it are overwhelming. The price is high. If only they could see the other side of it, they would never go back.
This seemingly crazy question, “Do you want to be well?” is not so crazy at all. Surprisingly, we answer no all to often to this question.
What IF we always responded yes?
The paralyzed man in the story could have worried about all the changes to come— no more hand outs, where would he go from here, life would change drastically. But with little hesitation, he said yes. He wanted to be healed but did not have the help to do so. Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” The man did so and was instantly cured.
What if we always responded yes? The man said yes, did the action that was required of him and was healed. What if it were all that simple?
Jesus invites us to be healed every day, all day. It is a standing invitation that is waiting for our acceptance. We must say yes. After the yes, we must do the action or the work required of us. When we do this, we will be healed. We will get well.
Oh friends, let’s get well together. Let us throw away our fears, give up our anger or worry, surrender our addictions and answer yes with out hesitation then get to work. Our healing is waiting. Life abundant is waiting.
Do you want to get well? Let’s go.
Learning to love.
I love many things.
I love sunsets, the sand between my toes, laughter, mountains views and the sound of waves crashing, to name a few.
I always thought that love was instinctive, everyone just knew how, like loving chocolate. It was that funny feeling in your gut, wanting more or the desire to be near someone
I love people. Actually, I am learning that I am learning to love people. Love is action. Love is complicated. Love is a sacrifice. Love hurts.
Love is not instinctive, maybe parts of love or the initial connection, but true love must be learned. It is a discipline that must be learned and practiced. It is much easier to learn if you have love modeled to you as a child. But, we are all broken so we tend to learn the broken model of love that surrounded us. We were made to love. It is our purpose, with out it we are nothing. So, we must journey to learn love.
I learn mostly by trial and error and error and error so my love journey may be longer than most. Also, I tend to dive into the deep end then get creative quick to figure out what I have gotten into. I am not sure if it is courageous or craziness, maybe a healthy bit of both. Either way, it has taken me many places and I have figured out that I can do a lot of things and yet when it comes to love I am reserved. I am neither courageous nor crazy. I guard my heart with a fortress. I know many people and even enjoy many people, but my tendency is to keep a little distance and my little is probably a lot to most. There is a constant small voice telling me how fragile my heart is and to protect it at all costs.
When our first baby came home from the hospital, we were so gentile and careful as if we were carrying around an egg, one wrong move and we were pretty sure we would destroy him. The day of his first bump and he didn’t crack was the day I could stop holding my breath. Resiliency, babies are resilient. I have lived much of my life like my heart is this fragile egg, afraid to love, afraid to let anyone in because it will bump and crack. I am learning that love is more like my tough babies, determinedly resilient.
1 Corinthians 13
New International Version (NIV)
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Like many weddings, the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13) this was read at my wedding. I wanted a love with my husband that always trusts, hopes and perseveres. He remains my best friend because of this foundation. Friendships have taught me that love does not envy, boast or is proud. My children taught me over and over that love is patient and kind at all hours of the day and night. As I battle the world for my children, I know that love always protects.
My dog reminds me that love never fails (you may need to own a labrador to understand the level of loyalty here). With each chapter of life, I learn new lessons on love.
Recently, I am understanding that when you love fully, it will hurt and it is okay to hurt because the healing will follow the hurt. Bones and muscles grow and strengthen under pressure and weaken when not used. My heart, my love needs pressure to grow and strengthen. When love is easy it weakens. With out love I am nothing. I am working on crumbling the fortress around my heart. I am learning to fully love people everywhere.
I am taking steps to dive into the deep end of love whether it be courage or just crazy.