This week’s Share Saturday is a very tender story from one of our alumni, Heather. Heather has been such a joy to know better and I love to be in her lively presence! This post is a great introduction to the idea of how God can really use the physical world around us to show us His great and healing love for us. Heather has called these things called “love notes from God”, and I think that’s a perfect description.
Here’s Heather’s story:
I know that I was meant to be at retreat last year and I know God inspired my friend to share it with me by inviting me to come. At retreat I learned a lot, but the two things that touched my spirit and really had a profound influence on me were learning about God’s love notes and learning about keeping the eyes of my heart open. I didn’t realize just how profound until a few months ago.
Let me start at the beginning. Throughout the retreat last year I found heart shaped rock everywhere I looked. When I returned home I felt impressed to teach my children that finding heart shaped rocks meant that God loved them. My children also found tons of heart shaped rocks. They would bring them to me tell me, “look mom God loves me and He loves you too.” I had no idea how much this would bear me up in the coming months. Back then I had a hard time believing that God truly loved me. But as time went by and as I kept my heart open, I began to believe that He genuinely loved me. I didn’t understand just how much I would need that understanding, but I was to learn. I continued regularly finding heart shaped rocks. I found them in abundance, everywhere.
In May my world was turned upside down. At 20 weeks pregnant I became very sick. Extreme stomach pains sent me to the doctor, who then had me admitted to the hospital. During the night my fever shot to 105 and the next morning my blood work came back that I was septic. I was rushed into emergency exploratory surgery. They took out my appendix hoping that was the problem. But as I came out of the anesthesia, the pains were sharper and stronger than ever. I remember everyone rushing around and all I kept saying was “I don’t want to lose my baby, I don’t want to lose my baby.” A friend who was there looked so sad as she said to me, “I don’t think that’s an option.” All I could do was cry. Heart wrenching sobs racked my body as I gave birth just one hour after surgery. My brave little boy, my little Liam fought for 45 minutes. He forced his heart to beat with no lung function, to the amazement of the doctors, until he was given a name and a special prayer. Then he peacefully went back to live with God. The next few days were so hard and I began to doubt God and His love for me. How could he let this happen?! How could he let my son die?! I contemplated these questions as I fought for my life. You see, my grief consumed me and I didn’t understand that my life was in serious danger. Spirituality, I was lost.
A few days later after Liam’s memorial service my best friend took me for an outing up the canyon to get me out of my house. When we arrived, I just wandered around staring at the ground my heart numb with grief. I remember I was still confused and asking God “Why? Why me? Why did my son have to die?” When I looked up my eyes were drawn to one specific rock among thousands of rocks on the side of the mountain. Near the bottom of the pile there was a perfect heart shaped rock resting on two points with the third pointing toward the heavens. In that moment I knew I didn’t understand the “WHY”, but God was telling me that He still loved and cherished me! I was filled with His love and warmth washed over me from head to toe with that realization.
Since then, I see the heart shaped rocks less and less. And now not so much at all. I know that He gave them to me in abundance so that in my darkest hour I would believe Him when He told me how much He loved me. I am okay seeing the heart shaped rocks less and less as God called to my remembrance something Celeste said to me at the last Heart of a Woman retreat. She told me that she hadn’t found any heart shaped rocks that retreat. She said that God witnessed to her that it’s okay not to find them, sometimes you do and sometimes you won’t and that’s okay too. She was right. I’m ok now too. I now know God loves me unconditionally and I don’t always have to have an outward reminder of His love. But I take great comfort in knowing that when trials and hardships come all I have to do is look for God’s love notes, for they will be all around me as long as I keep the eyes of my heart open to receive them.