Spending time preparing for my time with Hillside Alliance this coming weekend. I'm thankful for the way God continues to use one family's tragedy to encourage, inspire, and help others know there is hope and healing when we keep our eyes and hearts focused on God. The song on today's blog is one the worship team played and sang at my baptism in 2006.
A nice reminder...God will make a way.
Today's TOP's Tuesday is dedicated to sisterhood. This evening I spent time with some dear women in my life. We laughed and before putting our jackets on to return home to our families, we prayed for each other. I love these women. There is a special bond between women, often called a sisterhood.
As I thought about what to blog for this week's TOP's Tuesday, God reminded me of my friend's prayer requests tonight. Rather than post some random thought tonight, I prayed for a Bible verse to gift each of my friends with. As I read, reflected, and prayed on them again I realized something, these words might be the answer to your prayer or the encouragement you need right now. So I gift them to you too.
And we know that in all things God
works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 NIV
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast,
trusting in the LORD.
Psalm 112:7 NIV
Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 NIV
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.
1 Peter 5:7-10 NLT
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1 NIV
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 4:6-7 NIV
You never know, God might use you to offer the encouragement someone needs at that moment.
When the Waves Subside: There is Hope ~ written to encourage the grieving parent.
Lisa uses the analogy of the broken glass turned into "glass rocks" or "sea stones" to explain how the grieving parent is beaten and tossed against the waves after the loss of their child yet is stronger and more beautiful because of the tragic loss they experienced.
Lisa wrote this for her parents to illustrate to them and other parents, you are stronger than you might realize.
No More Pain: I Can Fly ~ written to encourage anyone who has lost someone "too soon".
Lisa's eighteen year old sister was kidnapped and remains missing. Her nineteen year old cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident. Another cousin survived less than a day after his birth. A friend lost her battle to cancer, leaving behind her husband, and two wonderful children. All of them, left us too soon.
I'm sure you can think of someone in your life that was taken from you before it was time. While in our mind we know all our days are numbered for us, because the Bible tells us so. In our hearts, it is too soon. Sometimes it is always too soon but when they are young, it seems to sting a little bit more, and requires more time to heal. At times, it feels like the pain will never go away.
No More Pain: I Can Fly is written to encourage the broken hearted after the loss of someone...too soon.
Thank you again for never forgetting and helping to keep the Light of Hope alive in New Haven. Heidi will always be remembered and God always answers prayer...keep praying God brings Heidi home. We can't give up.
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This past Christmas, I gifted them No More Pain: I Can Fly. A book written to encourage anyone who lost someone "too soon". Initially I intended to keep these books as something for my parents or to share with other parents of missing children/adults but then Mom started sharing her book with friends.
Something happened I never dreamed possible, these two books are helping parents who lost a child for whatever the reason, even if they were adult children when they passed. To God be the glory, only He knew how these books could encourage and help others endure one of life's toughest losses, that of one's child.
This weekend, we will extend comfort to my husband's cousin and her family. Their twenty-two year old son died during Spring Break last week. The loss and pain they are going through just breaks my heart. Although I didn't know him well, he is family. His twin brother mourns the loss of brother, best friend, and "his other half". His parents say good-bye to their son...too soon.
We could spend time asking why or we can be thankful for the moments we have. These words feel empty at a time like this yet it is the times like this that remind me to seize each day, make memories, and enjoy life.
Only God knows what tomorrow, or even five minutes from now holds. If you've lost a child or someone "too soon" ~ check out my books. I've heard from other parents, siblings, and even friends that these books helped them heal and understand how their loved one is feeling during the most difficult moments of their life. I can't promise God will use these books for instant healing yet they might provide the seed of hope someone needs at that very moment. My prayer is for all to know there is Hope, even on the most tragic and sad of days. What gives you hope?
Prayers for the parents grieving the loss of a child
and thanksgiving for the memories made to give them strength on the most difficult of days...
Have you made a memory today?
Last June I received a message from Crystal, the center's current director. We enjoyed a wonderful conversation. Initially Crystal didn't know we were "connected" because of the center's involvement with my sister's case in 1994, but before we hung up the phone, she did. We agreed it was a "God-thing" and knew He brought us together.
On that warm June day, neither of us knew how God planned to work in our lives. Six months later, I boarded a plane and enjoyed a weekend in Texas. Each year the Heidi Search Center hosts an evening for families of the missing, this past year, I had the privilege to be their speaker. It was a bittersweet and empowering weekend.
I hoped to meet the Seemans, who founded the center but was unable to because the same storm that made my arrival tardy, prevented them from even making it to Texas. I hoped to see Rick again, but this wasn't possible. I did meet some amazing new people. The new staff at the center, the board of directors, and some precious families of the missing. As I reflect on the twenty year anniversary of my sister's disappearance and pray we know one day where she is. I thank God for the blessing this center was because Rick's know-how combined with local determination, we know everything that could of been done to find Heidi, was done.
TOP's Tuesday is a day specifically dedicated to Heidi...this week I dedicate it to both Heidi's - Heidi Seeman and Heidi Allen. I thank God for Auntie M finding this center through her Google search in 94' and for God reconnecting us in 2013 when Crystal Googled for birthday celebration ideas for their Heidi. You never know how today's event, friend, or memory might be next year's hope. A HOPE to Help Other People Evolve.
Has something in your past helped you years later? How?
It was great to see my friends, colleagues, and the kiddos. I was tired this morning but when I saw all those smiling and fabulous faces walk through the door, all I thought about was how much they had grown in a week. It was a wonderful day. Once home, I spent a few hours outside working on a couple projects.
Before the temperature dropped I retreated inside for dinner and to work on upcoming speaking engagements. I don't know about any of you but I'm a little behind on my reading so rather than post a new blog, I've included links to the past three blogs. All were posted during Easter weekend.
In case you missed one, you can catch up by clicking on the photo. Have a great week and remember to rest up so you don't get sick.
Do you have a favorite memory from this weekend?
Back left to right: My Grandma Mary Searles, Me - sporting the rainbow sweatshirt and plaid skirt (Oh my!, lol)
Bottom left to right: My beautiful little sister, Heidi Allen and my cousin Shawnacy Searles
Pick your favorite tradition?
New Easter Outfit
Annual Easter Bonnet Contest
(or wearing an Easter bonnet if you didn't have a contest like we did) Heidi and I are in the bottom right-hand corner - I have on a red, white, and blue, striped hat and Heidi is behind me.
Easter Egg Hunts with the community
Easter Egg hunts with the family
The Easter Bunny
Annual Cross Walk
Sunrise Service on Easter Morning
The Candy - which is your favorite?
One I didn't list you would like to add
Which is your favorite and why?
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire --
may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him, you love him;
and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9
How do I know? I was one of these people. When the hurt is so deep, it's difficult to open your heart, mind, and arms to embrace something or someone so wonderful or "too good to be true." Medication is a Band-Aid. People will let us down. Material items are temporary. Thankfully, God is True. Jesus is Love. God is the Only One who can heal the
hurts deep within our hearts. So we have a choice to make today, celebrate or mourn.
There are many in this world mourning ~ whether you mourn the loss of loved one, a career, your health, or whatever it might be...remember God is right there waiting for you. In addition to dying for our sins on the cross this past Good Friday, Jesus opened a direct line to His Father, God, through the Holy Spirit. All you have to do is open your heart, lift your voice, and give all your praise, grief, and honest feelings to God. He will forgive, love, and embrace you like you've never experienced before. There is no better time than Easter, a season of forgiveness and selfless love...
Your faith and relationship with God doesn't stop the pain or remove the hurt instantly. BUT you won't spend another day alone on your journey and He'll give you the strength to get through each day, even if it's one day at a time for awhile. Never lose Hope.
Praying you are able to receive Joy today...
~ Happy Easter ~
What is the first thing you think of Easter morning?
Last year, Dr. Mary Starr, invited me over for a video interview to share with her readers and clients. We laughed, cried, and remembered Heidi. You see, Dr. Mary is more than the knowledgeable and wonderful doctor most know her as. She was a dear friend to my sister, Heidi Allen, and over the years has become a dear friend to us too. I'm thankful for her love to share hope with others, to remember her friend (and my sister), and her faith in God that guides her through each step.
Easter weekend starts with loss as we reflect and remember Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He didn't just die, He was crucified...not because of anything He did wrong but for me, and for you. We mourn his death on Friday yet when Sunday comes, we celebrate His resurrection and the hope we have for eternity in Heaven through our relationship with Him. This is the grief most relate to when they think of Easter, yet there is an additional grief that revisits me each year, at least since 1994.
The day my little sister was kidnapped from the D & W Convenience Store in New Haven, New York. She remains missing twenty years later. So while I mourn the loss of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ...I also mourn the loss of my only sister and pray for her return. In hindsight, the first ten years following Heidi's kidnapping, we barely celebrated Easter because of what the day represented...loss. Thankfully, today, I can celebrate Jesus' resurrection and the joyous time of Easter and still respect my sister's memory. It's a bittersweet weekend, and day.
It is because of Easter we have hope. If you believe in prophecy, then you would love the Bible. It's full of it. You can read in the Old Testament of things to come, and sometimes even Who will be coming. Jesus' birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection were prophesized and came to be. What does this mean to you and me? It means we have Hope for eternal life, with God.
Another reason I have hope this weekend is because of one small way God continues to show His love for me, and my family. On April third, we gathered with family, friends, and community to remember Heidi. We were, and are, so thankful for the outpouring of love, encouragement, and hope we witnessed during that difficult week, day, and the days that have followed. Thank you so much for your prayers, words, and hugs. I pray you are blessed in return.
Love isn't an emotion per say, it's a verb, yet it's something surrounding me, my family, and all of you. I feel such love when I think of the sacrifice Jesus gave to accept death on the cross. Love for a God who had the ability to save His Son from death yet chose to let Him suffer so we can receive forgiveness and spend eternity with Him in heaven. Love for my sister who I miss each day. Love for my parents who never give up and exhibit strength and endurance on a daily basis, living each parent's worst nightmare...the loss of their child. Love for families as they gather for the holiday, setting aside their differences to enjoy and celebrate the gift of family. Love is in the air, it's spring!
In the days leading up to April third, I did an interview with one of Dr. Mary Starr's staff, Claudia, for an upcoming article in her Moms of Faith blog.
I was humbled when asked because Dr. Mary interviewed me last year for a video interview, so to be asked for another one, I was very touched. After I read the questions, I knew God orchestrated this interview. I have notes and ideas in notebooks, on pieces of paper, and even on scraps of papers throughout the house. One of the ideas I've been tossing around for a mini-book or blog or something was on "Fear".
As I read Claudia and Dr. Mary's questions, I smiled as God tugged at my heart, reminding me to "not fear". I prayed before responding and took longer than normal to respond. Part of the reason for the delay was due to the time of year it was and the other, I wanted to answer the way God desired. I hope you'll visit Dr. Mary's Moms of Faith to read more. Click on any of the links or photographs on this page for direct links to today's article, last year's Vimeo interview, or to Amazon to purchase your copy of Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey. If you purchase the print copy of this book, you can get the Kindle copy for only $.99
What emotions or feelings come to mind for you this Easter?
I'm glad I didn't lose any sleep because most in my area reported on Facebook that due to the cloud cover, they couldn't see the full beauty of the eclipse. I did enjoy seeing the pictures on the news and the ones people posted on Facebook but they were more enjoyable because I wasn't exhausted from staying up all night waiting to see something I couldn't see.
As I thought about this, the families of the missing wait for something to happen, knowing the odds of their loved one being found alive are slim to impossible. Life is full of choices, to believe we'll never see our loved one again OR accept their discovery/recovery are in God's timing and wait on Him to answer prayers to bring him or her home. If we give up hope ,then we might not recognize the moonlight of night ,still shines during the day time. What does this require of us...to slow down and look up. With this analogy, you'll see the moon is still visible during the day.
On a deeper and more spiritual level though, we'll see God is with us in the darkest of days and times. Each of you has something that brings you sorrow, pain, anxiety, or grief. Not everyone's life tragedy makes it on the front page of the paper. Some of you might be going through something very difficult yet to those outside your immediate family, no one knows. Whatever your struggle today, I challenge you to look up. The Light is always there, waiting for us to call on Him. God is Light.
We start Easter weekend today, with the Maudy Thursday services. Tomorrow is Good Friday. On Sunday, Christians will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. I spent more than a decade avoiding Easter and the joyous aspects of it. Instead of thanking God for sacrificing His Son for my sins, I falsely blamed Him for taking my sister. Twenty years later, I am able to enjoy the Easter season with more joy and hope than in the past. It's still difficult at times yet now I know the truth, this is a weekend of hope and truth.
As we thank God for the hope and eternal life we're guaranteed through our relationship with Jesus, we have to remember something - acceptance doesn't take away the hurt or prevent further pain BUT it does provide us with someone to lean on, call to, and rely on when the darkest hours come.
Look up...the Light never goes away. We just tend to look away. Life is full of choices...I choose to look up and seek His face, what is your choice?
"Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!"
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior."
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord."
"Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
calling each by its name. Because of his great power
and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing."
Will you give God whatever is weighing on your heart today?
Ed and I held hands (because we could), laughed, teased, and simply enjoyed a couple hours alone. I did post to Facebook a couple times to share the fun, but for the most part...it was just us and the families enjoying nature.
The first thing I noticed was this bright red bench on top of a small hill overlooking a pond. It was brilliant and jumped out at us. I started taking pictures. Ed's laughter, the precursor to "Let me guess, a blog?" I gave him my, Who me? look and started snapping away. I'll be honest, I love the look of a brightly painted park bench yet to see its brilliance in the midst of such brown gloom, reminded me of the hope and sacrifice found in Jesus. Something as simple as a bench alone on the hill reminded me of the Savior, alone on the cross. Both bearing our weight with one offering eternal rest.
Look at the birds of the air:
they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?
Matthew 6:26 ESV
Anyone who believes in me
may come and drink!
For the Scriptures declare,
'Rivers of living water
will flow from his heart.'"
John 7:38 NLT
Here is another illustration Jesus used:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like
a mustard seed planted in a field.
It is the smallest of all seeds,
but it becomes the largest of garden plants;
it grows into a tree, and birds
come and make nests in its branches.”
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
What brilliance of color gives you hope in the days leading to Easter? Will you share at least one?
Eileen's quiet and soft spirit relax you within moments are starting a conversation with her. As our dinner started, there were moments of quiet but this didn't last too long. Within moments, adults and teens alike were enjoying each other's company. By the time dinner arrived, the teen giggles had us all smiling. At this gathering were Aimee Quonce and her daughter, Alyshia Hull, and her Mom, Mary and I, and Eileen. One thing I admire in teenagers, is their ease in making friends and how quickly they become comfortable with each other. Our dinner time was no exception.
I enjoyed listening and watching the interactions, my cheeks hurt from laughing, and we were still talking about how enjoyable the evening was the entire ride home. Mary shared a question she's been trying to have answered with the group, the kids laughed and I only could shake my head. I've prayed and asked God, "How do I answer this in a way she'll receive the answer?" God is faithful and answers all our prayers, thank you Eileen for being an answer to prayer. I can't wait for Mary to read your blog.
To learn what Mary's question is and how God used Eileen to answer Mary's question, and my prayer...click on the photo above or the link below to read Eileen's beautiful and heartfelt blog.
"Eileen is a Christian speaker and author. She has had a passion for writing since her youth, winning the Newspapers in Education Award for Writing in the Augusta Chronicle in high school.
Eileen attended Augusta State University, majoring in Communications and
Creative Writing. Since then, her work has appeared in the Good Newspaper
in Syracuse, NY as well as various local Christian publications and newsletters.
Her first novel, The First Rose of Summer, published by Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson, was released in December 2011. It is her desire to share God’s Word through her writing.
In addition to her writing, Eileen is an inspirational speaker, sharing her experiences in life – the painful as well as the joyful – to help others break through the barriers they face in life and discover the freedom that can be achieved through the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Her topics range from healing after a heartrending loss and overcoming fear, to delighting in the joys and blessings
in life. It is her desire to bring God’s hope and healing to others." (Taken from Eileen's website)
Thankful for good friends and answered prayer.
What are you thankful for today?
My husband, Ed, is a sports fan, and if I can brag, a great athlete himself. More so, "back in the day", lol. My hobbies and interests as a child were more theatrical in nature, with the exception of softball. This sport I enjoyed, but for the most part - riding my bike, swimming, or walking were just fun to do - not a necessity.
My favorite memories in the middle school are doing the annual play. As a fifth and sixth grader I was part of the chorus scenes - an Oompa Loompa and and a begger on the street. In seventh and eighth grade I graduated to Oliver Twist's aunt and an orphan. Our directors invested time, energy, and a love for the arts into each member of the production.
Although our daughter doesn't share her father's love for sports, she is a natural on stage. Ed and I spent today watching six different groups of kids perform, six cry different plays. Each school or community group had thirty minutes to shine and share. We laughed, cried, and were left speechless.
After each performance the kiddos were encouraged by the judging panel with kudos and areas they could expand on. Between the morning and afternoon sessions, the kids participated in break-out sessions to enhance or explore skills needed to work, act, or be a part of a theatrical performance.
This evening they enjoyed dinner with their new friends, then the awards banquet. Ed and enjoyed this day fir many reasons. First and foremost, we spent it supporting our daughter as she competed and learned new things. And the added benefit, we enjoyed walking on the nature trail while the kiddos attended their break out sessions.
Children arrived quiet and nervous, sticking with their own groups. Over dinner and prior to the awards ceremony, there is much jubilation, sharing friend requests, and making new friends.
What do you think...is there really only one winner? I don't think so either.
A wonderful day to say the least. We are thankful to be a part of it.
As I worked on yesterday's blog, God spoke to me. I wrote the words and then paused to think about their meaning. I'll be honest, I almost didn't share it on the blog because I wasn't sure how its message would be received. Before I could finish this debate process with myself, God gently reminded me, it was His message to share, not mine. This is a thought and view point I hadn't thought of prior to last night.
Something many don't know is Heidi's dreams after college. During her internship for college, she worked at one of the local elementary schools with a program called Banana Splits. At times, her heart was heavy after meeting with the kiddos yet each one was worth it to her. She understood at a young age, the privilege it is to work with children. Heidi was on schedule to graduate with honors from college in May 94'. The time spent doing her internship spurred her goals for a lifetime of helping children.
Little did she know that a little more than a month prior to graduation, her dreams and desires would dissolve into the unattainable. I remember cleaning out her closet months later and finding the dress she bought the week before her abduction. It was our last "sister day" at the mall, and the last time we talked about her dreams. She never had the opportunity to wear this dress to an interview, it remained in the plastic Chappels placed it in for her to bring it home. Each time I looked at this dress, I cried at the loss it represented. I could only see the children she never helped. An idea, and on some levels, truth, the enemy used against me for years.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:8-10
When I meet some of her Banana Split kiddos, or their parents, I leave our conversation with mixed emotions. First and foremost, I thank God for the number of lives she touched in her short eighteen years with us but then as I return home, I'm saddened to think of the difference she might have made in the lives of so many other children and their families.
This is where God opened my eyes to a different perspective on this very subject. Was Heidi kidnapped and prevented from accepting a career working with, and helping, children? Yes. BUT, was her desire and dream to help children stopped? NO!
Think about it, each year, Heidi's beautiful face and information about her kidnapping are shared with hundreds of cyclists participating in the Ride for Missing Children across New York. These cyclists spend months visiting schools to raise awareness of child abduction and exploitation. Thanks to our community, Heidi is never forgotten and hundreds, if not more, parents changed their parenting because of her kidnapping.
I've received notes, messages, and had conversations with adults who were young children at the time of Heidi's abduction. They share how Heidi's disappearance changed the things they were allowed to do overnight and even the way their parents interacted with them. Parent-child relationships were enhanced, improved, and developed. Two generations of families, thus far, show evidence of lifestyles and relationship changes...for the better. Children created new bonds and opportunities, ones they transferred to their own parenting.
One young, aspiring, and motivated teenager's kidnapping has changed the lives of hundreds, if not more. The enemy seeks to devour yet God used the greatest of tragedies, the loss of a child, to magnify this young woman's goals to help children to a number she could never of imagined.
This brings me much comfort. Rather than focusing on the children she wasn't able to work with or help, I need to keep my eyes focused on how God is using one girl's tragic abduction to change the lives of more than anyone could ever pray to reach. God is good.
The enemy might prowl but when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and in the Word of God, we will see how God is working for good...even when the pain might make it difficult to see. I'm thankful that twenty years later, God continues to show me His love.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us,
to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
Can you think of a time you were able to see a situation or thought in a different light...after reflection and/or prayer?
Many might blink when they drive through New Haven, New York. You may not even realize you've left Mexico and entered Scriba yet to those who live here, this tiny community is evidence that neighbors still look out for, and support each other. Actually, our "community" extends into the neighboring towns and isn't determined by the invisible lines on the map. Ask anyone who is new to the area, one of their first comments is usually about how friendly and helpful everyone is.
Twenty years ago, Heidi's kidnapping brought fear, anxiety, and loss into our once quiet town. We had a choice to make. We could either succumb to the kidnappers attempt to steal both our beautiful Heidi M Allen, or we could join together. Last week's Gathering of Hope for Heidi M Allen reminded me of the determination, heart, fight, strength, and love nestled in our community. Tragedy came to town but it didn't rob us of our everything ~ we hold out hope, hope for Heidi.
The kidnappers may have taken Heidi and hold the answers to everyone's question, "Where's Heidi?" yet they don't have control over our town or family. God is in control and on the throne. His love, comfort, strength, and guidance were with us in 1994 when the Heidi Allen Command Post formed and He is still here, twenty years later.
There is something special about Thursdays to me so when I realized the twentieth anniversary of Heidi's kidnapping was on a Thursday, I smiled. You see, Thursdays were "Sister Day", so to remember Heidi with some of the people who remember Heidi each year and throughout the year...priceless. Today is "National Sister Day", did you know that? My original plan was to simply reflect on our awesome community yet with it being "Sister Day", on a Thursday none the less.
Let me share my best recollection, paraphrase, of the question asked. It may not be exact but you'll get the gist.
"How old is Heidi to you, in your mind?"
I had to think a minute yet I knew the answer but wasn't sure how to explain it . In one sense, Heidi "would be 38", yet she is eighteen. Last year, when Diana Trepkov updated her age progression, I was able to see Heidi as a thirty-eight year old woman but most of the time, Heidi is forever eighteen years old in my mind. When I see her friends posting picture of their kids going to kindergarten, receiving an athletic award, school pictures, or celebrating birthdays, I am reminded that Heidi "would of been", or that "she would be".
Do I know Heidi's physical age is four years younger than myself? Yes. Can I visualize her as this grown woman, not so much. The only reason I have a slight image is thanks to Diana Trepkov's skilled drawing. For the most part, Heidi is still the energized, motivated, beautiful, and determined eighteen year old looking forward to her college graduation in May 94'. She didn't graduate from college.
She didn't reach the goals she set when our high school decided to close its doors the year before her graduation. She didn't start her career and help children like she hoped to BUT...maybe she has, in a way only God could see. Be sure to read tomorrow's blog to learn more about this thought...
Thank you for remembering Heidi.
How has Heidi's abduction changed your life?
Thank you all for remembering her and our family during this challenging time and throughout the years.
Mar 26, 2014
People still remember disappearance of
Heidi Allen after 20 years
Debbie Groom / Featured Stories, Oswego News
The Valley News
Community Gathering of Hope for
Heidi M. Allen tonight in New Haven
April 3, 2014
The Valley News
Sister of missing Heidi Allen speaks about hope at Heidi Search Center in Texas
Where's Heidi Allen? The biggest mystery in Oswego County turns 20 years old
Players from the Heidi Allen mystery: Where are they now?
Posted by Slamdunk on Monday, March 24, 2014
On the morning of April 3, 1994, eighteen-year-old Heidi Allen was working alone at the D & W Convenience Store in New Haven, NY.
Thank you for remembering Heidi and our family...
Instead of stressing out over the little things along the way, we need to embrace the opportunity to work alongside those we love to make whatever the occasion is all the more special and memorable, for whomever is being honored, or in our case...remembered. Last year, on the 19th anniversary of Heidi's kidnapping I released my book, Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey. To release my story of how Heidi's kidnapping affected my life and faith on the anniversary date of her kidnapping was my way of honoring Heidi's memory and sharing hope with others.
This year, the 20th anniversary of Heidi's kidnapping, we wanted to do something to remember Heidi, her kidnapping, and show appreciation to our community at the same time. Mags and I had a few ideas of how to make this a memorable and uplifting time yet wanted it to be a family affair.
Between emails, messages, table talk, and phone calls between my parents, family, and friends...the gathering and vigil came to be. It was during this time of preparation that we shared memories of 1994, ones some of us didn't remember. After scanning the pictures, we realized there were things we'd forgotten until seeing the pictures, and this sparked great conversation. This memory making could of been lost if we were too busy to slow down and enjoy the preparation.
They hauled everything into the fire barn and helped set up for the gathering. There was much laughter and teasing. You see, I tend to me a bit OCD with my organization. I had sticky notes on the table cloths designating their location. I made a color-coded diagram of the room in case a surplus of people showed up to help. Each box, laundry basket, and bag was labeled with its general purpose. My goal was to make the set p as pain free and relaxing as possible. I think the fun and loving teasing is evidence, this was a success.
With new black and orange balloons lifting to the sky, the old Where's Heidi? balloons were taped to the tables as part of the decorations. Down the center the of the tables were new buttons. Half were made last year with my website and the phrase started in April, twenty years ago, Where's Heidi?. The others were newly made buttons portraying the same photo of Heidi from her missing person's flyer with a new phrase..."Always Hope". The old and the new meet.
Fire halls are renovated all the time but does the community appreciate the care taken to keep their volunteer fire department current? Sometimes. The gathering was an evening to remember Heidi and also share the new and improved hall with some new to the area and others, that hadn't visited since they searched for Heidi. One woman said, "I haven't been here since I searched for your sister. They've done a lot of work. It looks great. One thing is the same, they (New Haven Fire men, women, and auxiliary) sill care for their community." I couldn't of said it better myself.
If I would of focused on the lists and things to do, I might of missed opportunities to reflect on how life in our small town has not only changed, but improved. I could of missed a chance to laugh with my husband, daughter, and family during one of the most difficult weeks of each year. It was in the planning and preparation I prayed for my family and community. I prayed many would believe and leave encouraged and inspired. While the tragedy of Heidi's disappearance and kidnapping continues to tear at the hearts of many, God's love, hope, grace, and mercy are new every morning and available to us all.
Rather than rush through the planning and preparation, remember to slow down and pray the one you plan to honor and the ones you plan to invite. You never know how God might use you. Encouragement is found is the smallest of things, not always the big things.
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Do you let the stress of planning interrupt the joy of preparation? Will you in the future?
One thing we have learned over the past two decades is to take time for ourselves so the stress of the anniversary doesn't swallow us whole. This might not make sense to everyone but if you've experienced tragedy or loss, you will most likely relate. There were mixed times of teary eye all week so we made sure to enjoy moments of laughter in the midst. Some of the poses and photos will never be shared publically yet here are a few.
Thursday, April 3, 2014, the 20th anniversary of Heidi's kidnapping was a difficult day. The days leading up to it, and the days to follow hold much emotion. We are so grateful for all of you. Your love, support, and remembrance of Heidi and our family is such a blessing to the entire family. Heidi M Allen will never be forgotten, this we know. Thank you.
I plan to share more this week with pictures form the community gathering and vigil. Too much to squeeze in to one or two blogs. My hope for TOP's Tuesday, is to link the news articles about the 20th anniversary. The rest of the week, I'll share a snip-its of how this double-decade anniversary had its ups and downs.
Thanks for remembering Heidi and encouraging us!
At a loss for words...
Thursday was the 20th anniversary of Heidi's kidnapping.
Is there something that stands out to you
as you reflect back at the different articles you read,
the newscasts you watched, or something you did
to remember Heidi? Will you share?
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