Okay Ladies, as promised, here is my inspirational speech I gave to the MOPS group. It's long and I hope you get to digest it and Im sure the gals at the meeting were hoping for that too as I spoke a bit too fast. Also I'd like to dedicate this to Angela, and my Jesus who has guided me through everything.
2 Corrinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
Good Morning Ladies.
I want to first introduce myself, most of you already know me or have heard of me. My name is Heather Riggleman and I’m the publicist for the evening MOPS group and have been attending Mops for 3 years now. I have three children. Cheyenne is 9, Elijah is 2 and the most recent addition took her time getting here, after two inductions and weighing in at over 10 pounds, Victoria Grace arrived at the end of November.
I recently celebrated my 5-year anniversary in Christ. I have grown so much in my faith to become the woman God wants me to be so I can fulfill the plans He intended for me. My journey in life has been centered on struggling out of one cocoon after another as God shapes me for the dreams planted within my heart. And that’s what I am here to share with you today as we exit the gate in our MOPS Journey in Adventures in Motherhood.
As each of you stands in line to exit the gate from our year in Adventures in Motherhood and head out into summer, Im sure many of you are in the same boat I was in. You’re thinking Motherhood is great, it’s a lot like an amusement park, with the thrills of the rides and it’s ups and downs. But it seems as if your world has suddenly begun to revolve around wiping dirty faces, and tushies and the exit gate from motherhood isn’t about to be found anytime soon! Its potty training, laundry, dishes, sleepless nights and more.. And for many of you, you also have to balance the demands of being in the workplace. Somewhere along the way you seemed to have lost yourself. You’ve lost your dream, your passion, your sense of adventure or you don’t know what your dream was in the first place. I would like to share with you my Journey of Discovery of those very things with you today.
Being a mother wasn’t my dream due to raising my 5 brothers and sisters and being told at a very young age that I would never have children. However, I became a mom, graduated high school and got married at 17 and wanted to have the American Dream being a successful woman. At that time, my daughter was just a responsibility that I had to deal with.. I came from a violent and broken home that told me each day of my life, I was nothing, I was worthless and white trash. When my husband and I moved to Nebraska from Wyoming, I grabbed at the chance to become successful by earning a college degree and to somehow erase where I came from and who I thought I was. My dream was to have a career, to be highly respected, to be significant, important. I wanted to do it all, I wanted to prove everyone wrong! After a series of events, I had a mental break down while working over 40 hours a week, taking over 18 credits every semester, partying at the bars, and still trying to be a mom and wife, that at the time was just a burden getting in the way of my goals.
During the time, I heard God calling to me as I struggled to continue my grueling schedule but another tragic event caused me to lose what little grip I had left on reality and landed me in Richard Young. I was diagnosed with several disorders, and placed on medication, and spent two years in counseling before I stopped wrestling with God and gave Him my life. Shortly after receiving Christ, He healed me of my disorders and hurts of the past. I still dreamed of having a career but He gave me a love and desire of being a GOOD wife and mother to my family. As I finished up my last semester in college I began cry to God for what I thought would make my life complete!
I dreamed for another child, of completing my family,
I dreamed of my husband in coming to know Christ,
I dreamed of getting out of the debt,
I dreamed of buying another home (because at the time, we were renting)
I dreamed of being accepted at my church for who I was.
I dreamed of having relationships with other women.
I dreamed of seeing my brothers and sisters restored in Christ.
I dreamed of going back to school
I dreamed of being important.
Of the many dreams I had, having a son haunted me the most. Deep down I believed that another baby would bring it all into place. I struggled with this for months til one evening my girlfriend whom led me to Christ told me about God’s will and God’s desires for our lives and shared with me the Psalms 37:4
Trust yourself in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart
Commit your way to the Lord and trust in Him that He will do this.
She taught me about dying to my selfish desires of “I want, I want I want!” and rooting myself in Christ. I wanted so many things and was running in so many directions that I forgot to ask God, what was His desire was for my life. She had me picture a barren tree. The tree has hundreds of branches reaching in all directions, some not even providing life or shade…And as you focus on this tree, you will see that it has two or three main branches that support all these other little branches, these little branches were my dreams, wants and desires. In order for these branches to bring life, shade, and bear fruit, the main branches needed tending to. These main branches were:
My focus on Christ,
My relationship with Him
And Loving my Husband as God intended.
As I let the old life and old world fall away, I spent more time in God’s grace, in his word. My life became that of a tree whose roots were once rooted in a false belief system of fear, rebellion, resentment, and un-forgiveness to being rooted into freedom, acceptance, submission, and forgiveness in a True Belief System. God used this time to prune off many of the branches that were hindering my life, He continued to challenge me in my walk with Him, with my obedience, and loving my husband. During this time of focusing on God, it was truly walking into a death. And at the same time a walk into freedom, a walk into total restoration, of God sifting me out the ashes. He began healing and restoring my life one day at a time, one battle at a time. As time went on, I didn’t feel the need to fill my life with things of my past like drinking, partying, or harming myself to take away the pain of my broken past.
On Feb 4 2006, I found out I was expecting my second child. In July, we bought a new home, and in September, my husband gave his life to God. On October 6th, our son was born. God had granted the desires of my heart.
Life was great or so I thought, I was struggling with being open with other women, being a stay at home mom, and finding my place at church and among other moms. At the time, the scars from cutting and tattoos I carried told a story that other moms didn’t accept or weren’t comfortable around. I was never invited to get together’s. I felt shunned, and was given the fake “Hi, How are you”, when I desperately wanted acceptance. It pushed me even more to have seek some sort of significance, and because I was being pressured by my husband’s side of the family to be a working mom, so I applied for every job in the corporate world that held a respectable title. Even then, the idea of being a working mom carried a heavy weight with the guilt that I felt leaving my children at daycare. My children weren’t adjusting well either… Elijah had even learned that if he screamed long enough, he would get sent home! I was finally fired from that job because I would not to perform certain tasks because it crossed a HUGE line in my faith. A career woman hadn’t changed my status or who I was, nor did I feel that I fit in any better. I didn’t even know who I was at that point.
Due to my “forced” return to the home and need for more income, I began providing daycare and felt even more lost, even more disconnected from my heart, from other women, from my dreams, and didn’t even know what to dream. At the same time, when someone would take the time to get to know me, they would comment what an incredible story I had and that I needed to share it more often. Each time someone made such a comment, it tugged at my heart. I wanted to run and hide, even though I knew in my heart that I was to use my story to counsel others with what God had changed in my life. So I decided it was time to go back to college and get my Masters in Counseling. That door was closed after receiving a rejection letter due to my low grades from having a mental breakdown in college. I then accepted that home was where I was supposed to be at the moment… It was awesome that God had restored all other aspects of my life. My husband was changed, I being was restored to wholeness, I was healed of my mental illnesses’, and I had the child I longed for; but something was missing. I continued to run in any direction that looked like it would fill this missing piece of feeling important, of being accepted.
In the silence I would cry out to God, this isn’t ALL you created me to be. Who am I to you? I began to use naptime to chase God, my heart knew that He alone was the key! Beth Moore states in her book Total Surrender that
Heart’s entirely surrendered to God can ordinarily be trusted. Psalm 37 states that if we delight ourselves in the lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Hearts not surrendered to God can seldom be trusted. Until we surrender our hopes and dreams to Christ, we really have very little way of knowing what would fulfill us. Each of us has dreams and if we trust Christ with all our hearts, nothing can disable God from surpassing our childhood dreams with His Divine Reality”
‘So if a woman’s heart is ENTIRELY surrendered to God, she would desire what God wanted for her life, instead of what she wants…until I came to that realization, my heart could not be trusted. Each of us was created with His Will and His Goal in mind. During my search for the perfect life, I came up empty. Over time, I found that it’s God’s obligation to keep us dissatisfied until we come to Him for COMPLETE SATISFACTION’ (Paraphrased from Total Surrender, by Beth Moore).
So again I looked back at all He had brought me from and began to pray for God’s Desires, not my own as my daily prayer…sometimes minute by minute. Slowly over these few years of being the leader of my own three-ring circus at home, little changes started taking place. I grew more content being home, I began to love it. I realized that God was using me to further His Kingdom by ministering to my family about His love and cares in the small things, in the everyday things.
And I heard Him whisper the words of Psalms 66 to me:
'Come and listen to me all who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me
I cried out to him with my mouth, his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the lord would not have listened, but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.'
I began to wonder though…How was I supposed to tell others about what He has done when I’m surrounded by babies and 4 walls and have a hard time socializing? Working isn’t an option, neither was going back to school and I felt like such an outsider talking to others…That’s when I heard it, “What did you like to do when you were little, Heather? What was your gift that I gave you? What helped you escape your sorrows? What was your joy?” My eyes then landed on my journals that were piled up in the top of the closet collecting dust. I used to write stories, give poems to friends, and won national awards for my writing, and wrote down everything that happened to me day in and day out as a little girl. However, One of my journals were confiscated by law enforcement and used as evidence against a family member because of what He has done to me. Because of the events that unfolded solely from my writing, I too ashamed to write again. My words had literally torn my family apart and I was told over and over that it was all my fault… I asked God and myself “how could I possibly write again?” That’s when I was given another verse, ISAIAH 43:18-19:
DO NOT CLING TO THE EVENTS OF THE PAST
OR DWELL ON WHAT HAPPENED LONG AGO.
WATCH FOR THIS NEW THING I AM GOING TO DO.
IT IS ALREADY HAPPENING, YOU CAN SEE IT NOW!
I WILL MAKE A NEW ROAD THROUGH THE WILDERNESS
AND GIVE YOU STREAMS OF WATER THERE.
At first I was like NO WAY God, NO WAY! This is like asking me to move to Africa and be a missionary, I don’t want to write again…But wanting to be obedient to His will and find my dreams-- I took a risk and clung to these words like a wet rag. Within days of having my blog page set up, I was hearing stories of how my words were touching others. A friend whose sister was on the fence about Christ and was an alcoholic is now looking for a church family and surrendered her life to Christ. Another woman is facing the demons of her past because she can now see what victory looks like on the other side.
With my single act of obedience, God had filled my heart with joy, and wholeness. He showed me my purpose, my voice, my passion. I was suddenly counseling others with my words, with God’s words. This is where I was meant to be. I am now able to connect with others at church, in bible studies, at the mall because I chose to obey God’s command and be transparent. They not only see me, but they see God’s heart and His hand…And because of my obedience, God has given me the opportunity to attend my first writers conference in Colorado, I have two articles recently published and am working on my manuscript about my journey to Christ. I don’t know if it will ever get published or what God’s intentions are with it. He may only use it to teach me more about him. Either way I am being obedient to His will and pursuing my dream, my very heart’s cry.
So you may be asking yourself what does all of my ramblings have to do with you as you head out into summer? If you are like myself, you have found that you too have lost your passion, your purpose in life and feel that God doesn’t know you exist and perhaps meeting deadlines and changing diapers is all you were meant for. I had to get really lost to understand that God never loses track of us, not for a moment and to know that no matter how much I made a mess of things, He could orchestrate it all for his glory. He could use our wanderings to testify to the hearts of others, to further His Kingdom. As a mother, you may be thinking, :
· who am I to dream
· dreams are selfish
· I don’t have time to dream
· Were forced to put their dreams on hold
· And many are too afraid to dream.
· And have given up on their dreams
· Cant afford to dream because you have to help support your family…
Still many of you think you have taken a wrong turn somewhere and got lost. Well you are not lost at all. God knows right were you are and is ready to meet you right where you are. If you are ready to completely surrender your heart, you will find the dreams He intended for you. God has a dream and a purpose for each and everyone of us. It may not be as glamorous as Beth Moore or as important as Billy Graham, but its still just as important in building His Kingdom. My dream now is to be the encourager, to counsel others all the while praising Him for his miraculous overhaul of sifting me out of the ashes. So I ask you…What is your dream? What did He intend for you,. Questions you can ask yourself as you press into God are:
What did you enjoy in your childhood? Did you play house, teacher, or did you cuddle your baby dolls?
Did you imagine captivating audiences with your voice, your actions?
Did you get a rush in being able to help others when they got hurt?
Were you the compassionate one always being a friend to others?
Did you imagine you were the top athlete in your sport?
What is the passion, the dream sitting abandoned in your heart? Are you ready to bring it to life for God’s glory? So as you exit the gate from our Adventures in Motherhood this year, you can take this summer to dream right along with your children about what God has in store for you. Are you ready for the next adventure in pursing God’s heart for your life? I believe God has a dream for your life that is far greater that you could have ever imagined. Its up to you to ask Him to Help you find it.