She’s been following Jesus for a long time; she made the decision as a young girl during one day in VBS (Vacation Bible School). She had a little, red Bible that she remembers staying up late to read and highlight. Fortunately, she can hardly recall a time where she wasn’t walking with Jesus, and it’s been her strong relationship with Him that’s carried her through the crazy ups and downs she’s traversed in life.
In the Mess
It didn’t take long before Heather found herself challenged with real-life trials. Heavy trials. In her teenage years, she overcame an abusive relationship that lasted for some time. God redeemed what was broken through healthy dating with her heaven-sent husband, but she still faced deep insecurities early on after getting married.
Heather says, “I think God kind of laid that deep foundation in us early so that we could handle what was coming,” speaking of her and her husband, Brett. She held onto the truth that God is good, but it didn’t prevent more bad things from happening. (Because having a relationship with Jesus doesn’t mean we become immune to negative things, it simply means He’s always with us.) She and Brett had to painfully deal with a miscarriage twelve weeks into their first pregnancy. In the ER on one Easter weekend (after having a bad dream with unforgettable warning signs), they were told that their little one wasn’t going to make it. Not only was it a tough conversation to have, it wasn’t a “normal” miscarriage either. She contracted for two weeks after it was “all said and done” and she dealt with extreme pain, all while trying to manage an amalgam of questions that began to surface in her heart. This caused her to spiral down a bad path, as you’d expect anyone to unravel after receiving heartbreaking news.
Even in the Darkest Days
Beautifully, Heather had these specific moments deep in her darkest days, where she just felt like Jesus was undeniably with her. The pain didn’t go away over night, the struggles didn’t get any less real, but she kept letting Him in no matter how hard it got. While she was stuck in an eight-month long depression, unable to get out of bed, she found herself questioning, “Why, God? Why would this happen to me? I’ve been serving You and following you.” It didn’t make any sense. Trial after trial, the questions began to pile up, but she wasn’t afraid to ask them. Vulnerable, she found her voice through songs expressing her heart’s longing for real answers. Like a breath of fresh air, this completely changed the game for her by simply changing her perspective.
Through the Songs
Beyond the pain and with her honest questions came the most powerful, redemptive treasure—a CD titled “Songs For Healing.” Her struggle through anxiety and depression bred a tangible resource that she generously gave away at an event she hosted for parents who’ve lost children as well. These songs rose up out of her because she didn’t run from the struggles that paralyzed her. And she feels like they’re some of the best songs she’s written thus far. Now, looking back, she has such a rich story to tell that’s already had a positive impact on so many people.
The Story Isn’t Over
Even though miscarriage was one of the most tragic things she’s been through, it’s only a portion of Heather’s redemptive, miracle story. Over the years, she experienced more heartbreak and the next trials didn’t take it easy on her. She suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum, which brought her closer to Jesus and developed a fight in her that was key for the next battles she’d face. After almost losing her life while delivering her son, Trust Emmanuel, she couldn’t settle in at home. She got to a point where she felt like if she closed her eyes, she wouldn’t be able to wake up. Eventually, she went back to the hospital where she found out that she had congestive heart failure and congestive lung failure. The doctors began to have those difficult conversations with her and her family and she was literally told that if she went to sleep, she probably wouldn’t wake up.
Heather could hear the serious discussion between her parents and the doctors in the hallway outside of her room. It was at that point that she cried out, “Okay God, help me to fight right now.” He never left her side, and she miraculously pulled through. But even though she won that battle, she still left the hospital sick.
For two, long years, Heather was so sick. Struggling daily with postpartum stress and depression, she had to go to counseling. She was so troubled that she had to give up music for a while; she felt like she was in a pit of despair, like David writes about the in Psalms. Deep in her trials, she came across the powerful quote by Corrie ten Boom, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” It was like a timely gift that helped her climb up and out of the hole. Boom’s words inspired her to write the song, “Deeper Still,” with appropriate reminders of God’s character. This became the anthem she sang in the midst of her trials.
Out of the Woods
Step by step, Heather clung to Jesus. Faithful as He is, He led her straight “Out of the Woods,” which became the next CD to pour out of her heart. At this point in her walk with Jesus, she kicked anxiety in its rear and she was well on her way to real freedom. There was a significant moment where she switched from depression to saying, “Okay, God, I’m ready to live this life that You’ve given me. I don’t want to live asleep anymore. I’ve been living kind of just, like, sleeping through life because of the things that’ve happened to me, but I want to live fully awake to what You have for me.”
Just like Heather fought to stay awake when she almost lost her life for the second time, she fought to stay awake spiritually. Tired of living a life that was settling for less than God’s brilliant plans for her, she began to seriously pursue His heart in ways like she never had before. Aware of His truth, no longer bound by the chains of her past, she dove head-first into surrender. It was in these moments that she welcomed unexpected breakthrough.
Right after she gave up and let go of all the terrible pains she held onto regarding pregnancy, she got news she wasn’t quite expecting. She wasn’t supposed to have kids anymore—so she thought. A week after surrendering the things that weighed her down, she found out she was pregnant for the third time. The next nine months proved to be as difficult as her previous pregnancy. She had hyperemesis again. But since she held a different mindset, she knew that since God got her through before, He’d surely do it again. Instead of letting fear cripple her and defeat her, she stood on truth that saved her. She sang Elevation Worship’s, “Do It Again,” over herself and her situation and surely enough, she experienced His great faithfulness.
As such a redemptive experience, Heather had a pretty seamless delivery. Story Joy was born after only five hours of labor with no complications. It’s quite the testimony. Even though her struggle was the same, her outcome was different, solely because she had a different perspective going into it.
Uprooted and Planted for Growth
Five months later, Heather and her family packed up and left the comfort of Ohio. God directly planted her into healthy community at Jesus Culture Sacramento and she began to thrive in many different ways. Over time, she found herself missing the music scene that she had to give up yet again. Just as a release from the stresses of “mom-life,” she wrote more songs, not knowing whether or not anyone would ever hear them. And she kept staying faithful to what was in front of her, with her heavy passion for music resting on the back burner.
Heather’s dreams were on hold for a while. She collected them in her dream journal, and learned to trust God on a deeper level. In a season of waiting and cultivating patience, she learned that “it’s not that He didn’t want her to go after her dream, it’s just that He cares more about her and her growth than He does about the dream.” He spoke to her heart that He cares more about who she is, where she’s at and her growth in Him.
Dreams Coming to Life
Since then, Heather’s found herself stunningly living her dreams. What was once words on paper is now her reality. All it took was her realizing who she really is in Christ. In the past few months, God’s been solidifying her identity in Him and that’s been the launching pad to her bright future. It started with a prophetic word that hit deep. A friend of hers spoke into her life saying, “You see yourself as small, but He sees you as enough.” From that point forward, Heather’s been speaking this truth over herself. Her personal reminder has been, “I’m a lion and not a mouse. Know who you are.” And she says, “When I realize that, certain doors start flying open. He wanted me to know who I was before stepping into bigger things.”
Truthfully, it’s all about our walks with Jesus through everything in our lives, not about being perfect. As we see laid out in Heather’s life through her powerful story, God loves being with us and He redeems the things that want to keep us tied up with limits. Because she never gave up when she had every reason to, she finds herself right where she always longed to be. Through it all, she’s experienced crazy provision, favor and so much blessing and joy that she can’t help but share it with the people in her community. And with her songs, she’s able to tell the amazing story that God’s been writing with her life and obedience. Today, you can find her leading the Sacramento Songwriter Circle, podcasting with fellow musicians and artists, playing shows regularly and thriving in every area of her life. She is living proof that no matter what, life with Jesus is better and walking with Him will always lead to dreams becoming reality, far better than we can ever ask or think.