In Memory of Natalie

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dear Franklin Graham,

Around the world, atrocities are occurring daily.

Children are starving.

Sex trafficking is happening right under our noses.

There are kids being molested... kids being bullied... kids being neglected...

Marriages are crumbling due to everything from pride to pornography.

Wars are being fought.

I could go on. This list could be so long no one would ever finish reading it.

So much horror. So much sadness. So much hopelessness.

So, no, Mr. Graham, I will not get my panties in a wad over gender labels at Target.

You are welcome to your opinion. I am welcome to mine.

Mine is that there are bigger fish to fry.

I stood on a mountain top in Honduras this summer, a hammer hanging from my belt loop and a baby on my hip. I watched hope being built by the hands of people who love Jesus. And I simply cannot bring myself to care about toy aisles.

You, Mr. Graham, have the luxury of outrage. It is your privilege to take the time to care about stuff like gender labels in a department store, because you don't HAVE to worry about feeding yourself and your family. You have choices about where to shop and no worries about a roof over your head in a rainstorm.

I'm in your boat too, actually. I have the luxury of writing this blog post, of taking the time to give a flip what the American Church is in a tizzy over. When I was in Honduras, I didn't care what everyone here in the States was pitching a fit about.

It didn't matter.

It still doesn't.

Someone who believes Jesus wouldn't have wasted His time blasting Target when religious organizations are still so full of Pharisees.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Manifesto on Middle Places

Twice today, once in a book and once in conversation, being “real” as a pastor’s wife has come up.

I’m told people expect certain things of a pastor’s wife. Me? I’ve been a youth minister’s wife for 13 years and now I’m a church planter’s wife, so maybe I’ve had a different experience. I suppose, people sometimes expected me to volunteer for VBS but I have a couple of kids so I think I’d have been expected to participate regardless of who my husband was.

I wonder, what expectations do other pastor’s spouses feel? What pressures are hanging over your heads?

And to the rest of you, what do you expect from your pastor’s spouse?

The stereotypical pastor’s wife teaches Sunday School, volunteers in the children’s ministry, and sings in the choir. At least, that is what I have always been told she does. I don’t know if it’s true.


Because I have yet to meet a stereotypical pastor’s wife.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pitch Wars: Successful Query

With Pitch Wars dancing on the horizon and mentor bios going live this week, there's lots of talk on Twitter. Pitch Wars helped match me with my wonderful agent, Pete, so I absolutely encourage you to participate (if you have a finished manuscript and are willing to work your tail off).

One of this year's mentee-hopefuls asked me to post my query from last year, and I decided to do so. The title of the book is different now, and probably I'd write the query a tiny bit differently at this point. But it is still a pretty good idea of my novel and it got me a 100% Pitch Wars request rate.

Chrissy Corbett reapplied her lipstick and shot her teacher in the heart. Then she sprayed bullets down the hallway of Iniwa High, injuring multiple students.  Now she sits in the county jail, invoking her right to remain silent. She’s certain she did the right thing and equally certain she will die for it.

Chrissy’s best friend, Priscilla Watson, returns from a study abroad program determined to find answers. Chrissy may have turned herself in, but Priscilla can’t believe her anti-gun activist friend committed murder without good reason.

With only a cryptic voice mail and a book of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry to guide her, Priscilla launches her own investigation. She must succeed or Chrissy will face the death penalty.

Having made an amicable break with my previous agency, I am pursuing representation for this new project. Complete at 84,000 words, Renascence is a Contemporary Young Adult novel that might appeal to fans of Jennifer Brown, Colleen Clayton, and Jay Asher. My previous credits include poems, essays, and articles in publications such as Jackson Free Press, Group, and The Mom Egg.

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my submission.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Some Thoughts on "Voluntourism"

I’ve seen a few articles on “voluntourism” going around Facebook. Having just returned from Honduras, I feel the need to step up and defend mission trips, but the truth is… a lot of what these articles have to say is right. I thought this one had fair things to share from both sides.

In my opinion, the real difference is relationships.

Our previous church has been building a relationship with the people of a village in Honduras. As a church body, they have sent people twice a year to build houses and distribute food, yes, but they have done more than that. They have built school buildings and worked to get the kids of the village into school.

I love giving people things they need, like food and clothes and shelter. Those are crazy important things. But you know what I love more? Giving kids the ability to read and the desire to learn. They won’t outgrow reading. Reading won’t wear out or burn down or be taken away from them. If they can read, and they want to learn, they always have options.

The trips like the one I took this summer are also good for us. And I know some will cite that as a bad thing, but it’s not. Or, it doesn’t have to be. If you go to a third world country and return saying, “I have learned to appreciate what I have,” then, I’m sorry, but I don’t think you got it. At the very least, that is just step one, and a good documentary could have produced the same result.

Going to a third world country and making connections, building relationships, will do more than make you grateful for your own life and your own blessings. It will get in your belly and not let go. You will agonize over “Why me?” Because, really, why was I born in America with money and education and options and this child in my lap was born here with nothing or very little? And, instead of being grateful for what I have, I am burdened by it. Because what am I doing with it? Am I making the world a better place for God’s people or am I just saying thank you and building up my own storehouses a little bit more.

My trip to Honduras has brought me good stories and wonderful photographs, but if all of the pictures were lost and I could never tell you a word about the trip, the trip would still have been worth it. I met some amazing people. We have friends who live in Honduras and we listen to their wisdom in how best to help the people there. Throwing money and stuff at poverty is not the answer. Education and relationship… connection. Those are answers. Or they are the beginning of answers.

My favorite part of our trip (aside from building the house for Nattie) was Mi Esperanza. They don’t just sell ethical fashion items. They teach women skills. You can find all kinds of success stories on their website. They offer micro-loans and they pour their profits back into the community. I have my heart set on doing an internship there one summer. Because a week was not enough time in Honduras. My heart longs for more.

The way things have lined up for my Honduran experience to even happen? It is so God that I cannot begin to deny I was supposed to go there. I was supposed to meet the people I met and be changed by them. Call that “voluntourism” if you wish, but don’t dismiss it too easily. Read the articles and consider the angles and be careful about where you invest your money. Don’t rush to dismiss what someone else feels led to do. When you want to do good, you should do good. When you feel God leading, trust God’s wisdom.

I promise I will be blogging about building the Nattie house soon. I want the post to be perfect and that has kept me from writing anything. But, it’s coming, pictures and all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Hallmark of this Home

 photo Why3_zpscf6593ff.gif

The above gif comes from my favorite scene from Parenthood. The cancer storyline on that show took me back in time. It walked me through losing Natalie all over again. By the end of the season, I sobbed and didn't know what I wanted to happen. If Christina died, it would be so unfair. I didn't want her to die. But if she lived... it would make me angry. Angry because if my friend didn't get to live, why should this fake person on TV?

I don't claim to be logical where death is involved.

So, when Christina lost her friend to cancer and gave this amazing speech, I was right there with her. I got it. And I cried with her. 

Tomorrow, Corey and I will board a flight to Honduras, and I will help build a house in Natalie's memory. So many of you helped make this whole thing possible. Thank you for helping me honor my  friend. 

It will never make sense to me... the random selection of death. Why did Natalie have to die and I am still alive? I don't know. But I do know I can do something with his life of mine, however long I am going to have it.

And I am going to sign off now before I get overly sappy. 

Prayers over our trip are appreciated. Specifically, please pray for the family that will have a home with Natalie's name on the wall. Pray the hope and gratitude that marked my friend's life will become a hallmark of this home as well.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Currently: June Trembled Like a Butterfly

Current Books: I am halfway through Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. It is a comforting read. I am listening to the audio for My True Love Gave To Me. It is a collection of holiday short stories by some wonderful YA authors. I just finished listening to An Uncommon Reader... a fun little romp about the Queen of England becoming addicted to books.

Current Playlist: Audio books while I pack and clean and pack and clean and pack and clean... and sometimes while I pack... and clean.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I'm still in my PJs.

Current Color: Bright blue

Current Food: Haydn made me crave a hot dog last night, so I went to Sonic.

Current Drink: Since I was at Sonic... cherry limeade.

Current Favorite Favorite: The creative team I was a part of at FUMC gave me a check as a thank you, and that means I got new books. I love book shopping.

Current Wishlist: To visit my family in Kentucky

Current Needs: Peace

Current Triumph: I raised enough money (thanks to all of you) to build a house in Natalie's memory while we are in Honduras this coming week.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Adjusting to bifocals and living in limbo

Current Indulgence: Eating our because my kitchen is packed

Current Mood: Mostly good, but also homesick and tired

Current Outfit: plaid Hershey Kisses pants and a long-sleeved TUPELO t-shirt

Current #1 Blessing: People. So many people who love us...

Current Quote: “Life is so extraordinary. Wonderful surprises are just around the most unexpected corners.” ― Rosamunde Pilcher, Winter Solstice

Current Photo:

Title taken from: “Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.” ― Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Being Myself: On Middle Places

In high school, I adored the stage. I was never one of those people who said, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Nope. I liked the spotlight, thankyouverymuch. If I couldn’t play a big role, I may as well just work backstage. 

I’m not saying I had the right attitude about that. And I did play many smaller roles, but I craved center stage and I got it often enough to fuel further ambition. I will never forget the joy of playing Ophelia and having a nervous breakdown on stage in front of all those people. I was Lucy with Dracula leaning near my neck. I was a suspected murderess with Sherlock Holmes hot on my heels. 

I was happy. 

Flash forward to grown-up Heather.



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