Everyday I feel like I sing the words of David Crowder’s song ‘Here’s my Heart’. (If you don’t know it, look it up.)  But all you need to know is this part: ‘Here’s my heart, Lord/Speak what is true’. 

This is why: 

Because every day I am confident that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Because every moment I say ‘This. This, Lord, is my heart. This house. This ministry. These little faces. This is where my heart is.’ My heart is daily laid out for all to see. Those children. That’s my heart. Their memories, their spiritual life, their development, their happiness, their sadness, their health, their grades, their hygiene, their entertainment, their tantrums, their hugs and kisses. It is so evident to me that children, specifically our children, are simply people passing through that I have the honor of raising for the time being. Their life is my life. So, everything I do in Bryan Mac cottage, I say with my actions and in my mind, ‘Here’s my heart, Lord’.

. . .And ‘speak what is true’? That’s the redeeming part! I can present my heart, life, desires, and children to the Lord everyday. But I cannot speak Truth without Him. There’s not much more I desire for our kids than to speak Truth into their lives, for them to see the one and only Truth, for them to experience and believe it, for His Truth to combat every lie they believe. Everything I do as a mother for our kids must be inundated  with His Truth. From waking them up in the morning to doing bed checks after they’ve all fallen asleep, I must use every moment to speak God’s Truth into their lives. It is the only thing that can change their anxiety, cause them to see their true identity, shift their view of the past and the future. God’s voice of Truth is what changes our children’s fear, distrust, self esteem, confusion, everything! They need His Truth to fill their little lives in order to move forward, and they don’t even know it. That’s why it’s my job to speak it and to live it. His Truth. 

There are rarely moments when I don’t see the privilege it is to be a mom to this house of boys. Like every other parent, some moments make it easier than others. When your kids are being sweet or following instructions or wanting to be close, it’s in the moments that make you proud that you think about how honored you feel to parent your children. And then there’s the struggles – the timeouts, their yelling, when they lock your keys in the car, the poop in the tub, the bad conference reports, the lack of sleep. The elements of parenthood that make it challenging and test your patience, even in those circumstances, I can see clearly the trauma and hurts that cause them. Those trying times cause me to see the world from their point of view, and it leaves me feeling privileged in a different way. Those memories they hold, the hell they’ve lived in, the past they need to forget, they entrust to me. Sometimes it’s through words and other times through their actions. No adult may have ever cared for their feelings or opinions or even just cared at all for that child. But they feel safe enough to misbehave because they know I won’t beat them or they know I’ll be a voice for them about the abuse they’ve held in for a long time. It is a privilege to be their voice, to be trusted with their past, to be influential in their steps to freedom, to speak Truth into their lives. 

That’s what motherhood is to me. Having the honor of raising anxious, loving, hurting, most times chaotic children. Making sure, that no matter what, every boy I tuck into bed knows that they are safe, loved, and will be forever cared for when Momma Heidi is with them. 

It’s interesting to see the connection the boys make with feeling safe. I always say they should call me Ms Heidi, and most do. But many times after I’ve done a bed time or 2 with them, and I give them the speech I give every night, something like ‘You’re safe here. I love you. I’m sorry you have to be here, but I’m so glad I met you. I will never hurt you. Jesus loves you so I love you’. It only takes once or twice and our little ones will ask ‘so you’re my mom? I’m gonna call you Mom’. Even with their 4 year old minds they know how they should feel when a Mom is being a Mom. 

It’s not a self-made title, but I’ll take it anyday of the week: Momma Heidi. It helps me know that I’m completing the overwhelming, but wonderful task of motherhood. 


The Emotional One

So, I’m a crier. This should not be news to anyone who knows me, and it’s mostly thanks to my mom’s genes. But it’s undeniable, I cry a lot. This job, working with hurting children, hardly seems to be a great place for such an emotional person.¬† Yet, here I am.

I’ve told many stories about the kids in our home, and too many of them involve me crying or explaining how hard I cried in the moment. Tears fill my eyes often as I hear personal accounts of abuse and neglect. The kids we care for are experiencing something that God never intended for them. Many days, as I struggle to keep my emotions in check, it’s hard not to see them as a weakness. It’s very common for me to come back from bedtime prayers to ask my husband through my tears, “Jonathon, why is it so hard? Why do I just cry? I just bawled my eyes out with them.” While a personal struggle with depression along with genetics can put my emotions close to the surface, I always wonder why it’s so hard to control the tears. One day, God opened my eyes and answered my questions.

As I was cleaning that big ‘ol, beautiful house we live in, I was thinking and praying for the kids that were currently in our care. It is very busy and chaotic when there are 8-10 children in one place, as you can imagine. So, while I would like to think that I use each interaction to be a spiritual presence or to impart wisdom or listen to every thought, I learned from week one that it’s nearly impossible! I’ve learned to be reflective and prayerful as I clean, without the children around. As I check their rooms, finish their forgotten laundry, and wipe their darling handprints from EVERYTHING, I think of how precious each life is that runs through the hallway with their dirty shoes on. It’s in those moments I pray for God to bring them peace and understanding, for Him to calm their anxious thoughts, and to keep them safe from the toxic memories they hold. One particular day, I was praying and crying (obviously). I had a moment of annoyance for my tears, but God brought to mind a prayer I have prayed, written, and sang many times over: “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.’ He silenced me. Right there. Boom. He has answered my prayer. He has called me to it. He provided such a humbling job to live it. My heart breaks for each life under our roof, and I follow my human nature to be aggravated by the inconvenience of my emotions. I see my gift of empathy as a fault. I complain about my uncomfortability. But why? I care for God’s own children that have been overlooked and abandoned and mistreated. THAT BREAKS GOD’S HEART. The injustice, the drugs, the strangers, the poverty, the trauma that these kids have endured truly is heartbreaking. He wants to rescue them from the hell that they live in. He wants to bring them to a safe place. He wants to show them what redemption looks like. So He starts with me. God begins by opening my eyes to see what He sees. From what I know of God, there is no doubt He weeps when He sees what my kids have lived through.

Since we began our time at Thornwell, Jonathon and I have both felt honored that God would place us in such a position to practically and daily be His hands and feet. Why then do I let my insecurity of easily triggered emotions and empathy interfere with the job God has clearly called me to? Before I realized, yet again, that God knew what He was doing when He placed us as Family Teachers, my emotions were an insecurity. It only took 7 months for me to finally see that His heart is at the core of my tears. He has allowed my heart to break, chosen me to carry His burden for the voiceless.

Since I have embraced my empathetic tendencies and tears, I have seen His healing power work through me. He has shown me how helpful it can be to kids who are so scared in a new place and so overwhelmed to be away from familiar surroundings to have someone cry with them. I can give comfort through my hugs and tears as they struggle with thoughts like ‘I just wanna see Mom’ or ‘Can’t I just talk to my mom? Does she know where I am?’ or ‘Do I have to go to another new school? I don’t want to meet more new people.’ I easily picture myself in their situation, and then I’m gone. I cry for the things they don’t understand and the things they do. I cry about the loss they feel and for the changes they’re about to experience. I weep for them because God is weeping. I am humbled that God would call me to nurture, cry with, and mother kids that need it most.

To God be the Glory.