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October 1st, 2012

I can’t breathe….I can’t breathe….I can’t breathe…I can’t breathe….

Oh yeah, something’s helping me, the machine is helping me breathe.   Bill said this would happen.  Just breathe.   It’s okay.   It’s okay….

“Heidi, wake up.  You’re in recovery.”

I open my eyes and see Papa, standing at the foot of the hospital bed in ICU…a smile screaming fear and happiness at the same time. 

I have a scar like him now on my chest.  He knows his granddaughter has a scar like his.  But at such a young age.

I see my mom next to him.

I look to the left and see Geoff.  Standing close.  I think he was holding my hand.  My communication with everyone is through my eyes and their reactions…

I close my eyes and with all my strength, whisper

“one….or two….?”

The sweetest words I’ve ever heard slip through Geoff’s lips. 

“One, baby.  One…”

I squeeze my eyes shut, tighter, tears rolling down my face, and I smile.


I go back to sleep.


One year ago I woke up from a 6 hour open-heart surgery that has changed my life in more ways than I deserve.  I want to be as open as I can with this story. I’ve been waiting a year to share it with you.

  I believe my surgery did not happen because I was sick and sick alone.  My surgery happened because my heart needed adjusting, big time.  It was broken, and it needed fixed.  I needed fixed.

See, I have mentioned that I have suffered with anxiety.  I also have suffered with depression.  Haven’t we all?  Depression and anxiety have been on my shoulders, on and off, since I was very young.  I can get psycho-analytical and say it stems from my parent’s divorce when I was 6.  But I am not blaming that.  It could very well be clinical-chemical. 

I suffer from depression. 

July 2012 was when this journey began.  I’ve mentioned this to Geoff and my prayer partner. I have illustrated it in my artwork.   

I wanted to drown who I was….

 and I tried.  I HATED my life. 


My life was not looking like what I had planned.  Nothing looked like I had planned.  I felt worthless, unappreciated, my creativity was lacking.  I didn’t have an identity.  I was losing myself.  And this scared me.

I prayed.  I prayed for God to open my heart.  I screamed it out loud in the bathtub.  To let Him in, to take over, to forget my plan and just have Him take care of it.

I prayed for Him to OPEN. MY. HEART. 

And He did.

 I know so many people have this surgery.  It’s not uncommon.  I’m not unique in the fact that I am young and have heart defects.  I am not special.


He had me break down to the point that opening my heart was the only option.  He had to WORK. ON. MY. HEART.  You have to go down to go up.  I was down, I was broken, beaten.  No one could help me, I was afraid, I was dying.  I woke up on the couch one afternoon thinking to myself This is it.  I’m going to be died at 27 years old.

I was down so low, my body breaking  and shutting down.  Being so close to death helped me realize how badly  I wanted to live. 

But I can’t help but believe that God heard my prayer and listened.  He REALLY listened.   He has worked on my heart.

You have to go down to go up.  You must be broken to become whole.  God beat me up!  I was put down, dependent on others for months, in pain, so much time to reflect on life. I think that was His point.  He took everything I had, my trust in others, my body, my health, everything that I idolized…and all I had left was Him.

And He put me back together.

October 1st, 2012 was my rebirth.  Life has not been easy.  People ask me all the time if I feel better, if I feel healthier than before?  To be honest, I don’t feel as healthy as I used to be.  I still suffer from anxiety.  Depression on occasion.  And that’s okay.  If we were living perfect lives then we wouldn’t need help.  I wouldn’t need Him.

I may not physically feel like I’m in the best shape.  My body doesn’t feel as healthy as it once was.  But the way I view my life, the way I love my life, has transformed.  

I LOVE my life. 

One.  One valve replaced.  October 1st.  One year ago.  One more chance.


It is such a powerful word.  I was always number one in school, the first because of my last name.  It’s always been my favorite number.  (Geoff’s birthday is August 1st…I’m an only child.  My surgery was on my best friend from childhood’s birthday).  One always shows up. 

I will never forget this miracle.  I have a sign on my chest to remind me every day.  Remind me that prayers are answered.  That my plan is worthless and His is better.  That I need to be brave.  Even my scar looks like a “1”. 

This is my story.  My favorite story.  It has been Hell.  But it has also been the most amazing, glorious, beautiful, powerful, life-changing journey.  I wouldn’t change my story for the world.

Remember, it’s okay to not be okay.  Remember that miracles DO happen.  All the time.  Maybe not the way you plan, but they’re always better.

Just breathe.  It’s okay. 

SomeOne is helping you, always.

Here’s to One year. 

And to many more.


Published inAllHeart to HeartInspire

15 comments on “One

  1. Love this story so, so much. I am so glad that you are okay, and that you have such a powerful story to tell. A story that glorifies God in each and every way. My life changed on January 1, 2012. One IS a good number :)

    • Amy :) Thank you. So happy to have met you at influence. What an experience and we got to share it together! I am excited to learn about your story, too.

  2. This is SO beautiful. I would be crying right now if I could:). Love you.

  3. Erika (@rougeandwhimsy) on said:

    what a beautiful story.

    and so many people struggle with anxiety & depression– me among them. someday i’ll share the details of my story, but for now, celebrating with you!

  4. Jessi Kolouri on said:

    Oh sweet friend, your story has touched me so, so deeply… Into the dark parts of my heart where my own pain and fear and anxiety live, the ugly stuff I don’t let anyone else see… But Jesus sees, and He wants to fix it, He wants to fix all of our hearts, doesn’t He?? Love you, beautiful friend!

  5. Michelle on said:

    Love you! This was beautiful! I’m so grateful that He saved you and that you are part of our lives. My babies adore you and do do I.

  6. Mustard on said:

    Heidi you are amazing and inspiring! It’s just so touching to see what you have been able to glean from this experience. It’s not everyone who uses the trials of life to become great, but that’s the kind of person you’ve decided to be! I’m sure God trusted you a lot to let you go through an ordeal like this, and I’m sure you have made him so very proud! I know I’m proud to be your friend!

    Btw you are an fantastic writer… you always thought I was better but I think you’ve proven yourself wrong…
    So much love to you! I miss you!

  7. I just love this post – I’ve read it several times now. It is so inspiring and beautiful! My most painful story – although different from yours – is also my most precious story, and I cherish the healing God has brought to me through it.

    • I know Heidi. Imagine how much less life would be like without a story to tell, especially one that illustrates Gods miracles.

  8. Thanks for sharing. Always difficult to be open to others!

  9. Whitney on said:

    I love your story!! I’m thirty and just found out that I have to have open heart in the next 6 months! I love hearing about your faith and trust in the Lord and know that that’s what is going to get me through it!! Thanks for sharing!!

    • I promise you, Whitney, that you’ll be okay! The recovery will be tough, but not long. And just so you know, I am 27 weeks pregnant with our first child and I’m not high risk, cardiologist says I’m perfect, and life is wonderful! God NEVER gives us more than we can handle. Keep in touch and let me know how everything goes! I’m here for you 😀

      • Anonymous on said:

        Thanks so much!! And I sure will! And thank you for replying. It’s nice to hear from someone who has been through it when I feel like no one around understands. Congratulations on the pregnancy! I have a nine year old and it’s the most wonderful thing ever!!

      • Thank you so much for writing back!! I have been having a lot of anxiety about by heart the past couple of days I prayed about it today and had a feeling that I just needed to read your story again. I’m glad I did, hearing that I’m going to be fine from someone who’s been through it helps. Congratulations on the baby!!! I have a nine year old and it’s the most wonderful thing To me a mom!

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