Rewriting my name

September 13, 2009

If a weekend could take human form and walk around, mine would be a haggard and shuffling old man.

As I sat on the floor and rifled through old boxes of letters and journals from my past at my parent’s house this weekend, I knew I was taking a risk. You see, my past is definitely tainted with things that bring me pain, things I won’t name here, things that still sit in boxes, waiting to be healed.

They are ugly things, some that were out of my control and some that were in it.

So I ran down memory lane instead of strolling, holding my breath and leaping over pot holes, eyes scanning the pages in a bit of shock. At one point, I tripped. I took a sharp curve and landed face down in the dirt of my own mistakes and the mistakes of others in my life.

And there on the ground, I was struck with those things I can barely remember, written on the lines of my heart and on the pages I was rifling through. The scent of aged paper mixed with regret was billowing up and overwhelming me, bringing back emotions that I’ve never fully left behind.

It wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, but I knew I needed to do it.

Then last night, after a stressful road trip, I carried our things in the house from the van while I ruminated over my figurative baggage. I was haggard and shuffling.

In the midst of all of the things from our trip, Miles immediately noticed some of the old notebooks, ones I had brought home from the wreckage of my keepsake boxes.

I had already been thinking about the irony of these particular notebooks, the kind that are barely used, the ones with only the first few lines filled with halfhearted attempts at doing something…and then…nothing. I had brought them home from my parent’s house because I knew Miles and Asher would love them, all the blank pages for drawing and practicing letters.

Miles sat down next to the stack of notebooks and started asking question after question…

First I explained that the notebooks were from many years ago, when I was younger.

When was that?

When I was a teenager and a little older than a teenager, Sweetie.

Why did you only write in part of them?

I don’t really know, I guess I just didn’t get around to using the rest.

But you wrote a lot of things in some of them.

Yes, I made good use of some of them. And others…not so much.

Of course, the irony escaped him, and he excitedly hopped up to the table then, old spiral notebook in one hand and a pen in the other. He flipped the pages open to the middle of the nearly empty book, and for the first time ever, he asked me to spell something out. He wanted me to give him one letter at a time so he could practice spelling.

He said, “Can you spell out your name?”

Ha, I thought. This just keeps getting better.

So, letter by letter, we slowly spelled out Heather. Me.

I could feel it then, something in me was turning, pulling me closer to exactly what I needed. I slowly left the past and was fully aware of the meaning in this moment filled with grace.

I stopped the unpacking of our bags and stood frozen across the room, slowly speaking each letter from my own name while waiting for the beautiful thing I knew was coming without knowing exactly what it would be.

There was my little boy, on the very day I needed it so badly, thinking of my name and bringing it to life on pages from my past, ones I hadn’t known how to fill while I searched for myself or grew scared or gave up.

I gave him the last letter and he sucked in his bottom lip, thinking hard about the shape of an R. Then he took a deep breath and seemed a bit disappointed that he couldn’t remember how an R looks. So I helped him by writing in the R for him, reassuring him that he’d get it, one day he’ll surely write the letter R all on his own.

Sometimes we can’t finish things until we know how, and sometimes we need a little help from someone who loves us.

I can’t accurately describe what moved me in that moment. It was beyond both of us, and it was good.

I looked down at our work, and I especially loved the second letter E with it’s extra lines.

Sometimes errors are simply beautiful.

I beamed with pride and ruffled his hair, the scent of it wafting up, billowing over me, bringing with it redemption.

Then he ran his finger along my name on the once empty page and said,

“Look at that! It says Mama.”

I buried my face in his hair and started to cry. Happy, overwhelmed tears.

It is hard work to overcome the past. It makes the present hard work. But I’m not done writing this story.


We are not done writing this story.



Susan warmchocmilk September 13, 2009 at 2:13 pm

I can't comment on the deepness and the insight and anologies just yet…I have to think, but I do have to say WAY TO GO MILES!! That prinitng is excelent, I think he's ready for Kindergarten now. Can't he just skip pre-school this year and join Weston….he needs a friend in class…. (just sayin) :)

Deb September 13, 2009 at 2:16 pm

personally, i am quite fond of the 'A'.

heather. my goodness. i'm with susan… this one, i have to sit on for a while. i really think you might be healing my soul, one beautiful post at a time.

Nap Warden September 13, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Wow…I am loving the double E as well:) You should frame that.

Ann's Rants September 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm

I love the little hovercraft, or car–that dear little love-widget overseeing your journey.

Beautiful post.

blueviolet September 13, 2009 at 4:29 pm

It's as if you writing to me too. I feel so much of what you're feeling but I'm so terribly afraid of feeling it. This was so beautiful.

Sheryl September 13, 2009 at 4:33 pm

isn't God amazing?! how He knew just what you would need. to show you what He has done with your past through your present (and future). you are heather and you are mama!!


Growin' with it! September 13, 2009 at 4:35 pm

i seriously cringe when i look back so this (& your other post) was a beautiful reminder for me to look at myself now and be grateful for the butterfly that emerged. the struggle was/IS worth it! ♥ that beautiful heart of yours heathEr!

My Bottle's Up! September 13, 2009 at 5:02 pm

oh this has me in tears… the beauty. how fantastic where life ends up going… the turns stories take when others enter what was once our own little world.

no, you are not done writing this story… not by far. i can't wait to see what's next.

Christy September 13, 2009 at 5:23 pm

A beautifully written post Heather. And that second E made me smile! So cute!!

a Tonggu Momma September 13, 2009 at 5:27 pm

I am positive that God has us go through the teenage years so that we remember what it feels like to be Oh. So. Sure. that we are right, only to later find out that we were wrong. The topics change with age, but the tendencies remain.

Elizabeth Mahlou September 13, 2009 at 6:42 pm

The past, no matter how bad, is what makes the future so rosy.

MidnightCafe September 13, 2009 at 6:59 pm


Sabrina September 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm

That was just lovely. Beautiful and sweet.

Kazzy September 13, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Every time I pull out an old journal to read it I get misty. It's tough to rake up the ground like that.

Do you keep a hand-written journal? I hope so.

Lara September 13, 2009 at 8:00 pm

This post makes me wish I were better about keeping a (non-online) journal.

What a tender mercy you were given from the Lord. Just beautiful, and so important.

sara September 13, 2009 at 8:26 pm

I was in tears at the end of this post.

Heather, it was just beautiful!

There's a song we used to sing in church "I will change your name". It is a beautifully simple song and goes well with your post!

Sara @ Domestically Challenged September 13, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Very true. I wish I could take an eraser to my past sometimes. However, like your name, it seems to be written in permanent ink.

Anonymous September 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Wow … stunning … the glorious gift of restoration has begun!Destiny D

Em September 13, 2009 at 9:36 pm

"It says Mama."

No matter what the past, YOU are his present and his future. And he is happy.

And he is blessed.

And he is proud.

(curse your girl, you've got me crying again – beautiful, you write. Beautiful, you are.)

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog September 13, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Heather, this was lovely. I hope that you can remember this moment when the pains from the past start to drag you back down again (and they will. They always return, don't they?) Hope this moment and revelation will make pushing those pains away even easier next time…

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity September 13, 2009 at 9:59 pm

I just love the simple concept that we begin our own story and our children help us finish it. And they help us learn more about ourselves then we knew on our own. That, like you said, is symbolic of grace.

katdish September 13, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Holy Cow! Are you writing a book? Please tell me you're writing a book. So glad I finally made my way over here.

Billy Coffey September 13, 2009 at 10:19 pm

This post really hit me hard. I have trunks full of old journals that to this day I'm scared to dive into. Those are memories best left hidden in the dark. But as I recall, most of them have plenty of blank pages in the back. I'm thinking now that's a good thing. It's not too late to write that happy ending.

Nina September 13, 2009 at 10:29 pm

What a lovely post.
For me a lot of the past is healed in laughter.

I wince a little, sometimes, when I look at the things scrawled in notebooks and things taken so seriously once and nowadays mostly it's funny.

I'm glad you got such a nice reminder about things from your son.

Jamie September 13, 2009 at 11:20 pm

This post had me a little teary-eyed. I too have some stuff in my past that I haven't wanted to face.

And the second E…it's my favorite too!

Megan@SortaCrunchy September 13, 2009 at 11:30 pm

When he picked up the notebook, my heart cried REDEMPTION! I look for it everywhere, always. It's always there, but sometimes it has an extra line and you have to do a double-take. But it's there. Redemption.

Lee of MWOB September 14, 2009 at 2:00 am

Oh Heather. This post. This beautiful post today. Tonight. With the tears a' streaming. How our children heal us – it's unbelievable. And again I am amazed at our own soul connection for the post I just finished for tomorrow morning is a healing moment of my own. Given to me. By my child.

In this post, you are so the Heather I feel I know. Love you lady…


Debbie September 14, 2009 at 7:32 am

Good mercy, girlfriend. You are such the gifted writer. And mother.

PsychMamma September 14, 2009 at 8:37 am

Simply beautiful. Wonderful. I felt the magic in that moment, and somehow know exactly what you're talking about, even though I can't describe it with words either. Thank you.

Sara@i.Sass September 14, 2009 at 9:13 am

I loved loved LOVED this post Heather. I have my own stack of half used notebooks filled will heartache and tears, laughter and question. Simple as a child writing your name on a notebook. Simply beautiful. The way HE works in us, around us, through us is AMAZING. AH, I just loved this post. ((hugs))

deb September 14, 2009 at 9:15 am

I am without words, with tears and a seized heart.
You know don't you.
Keep giving to your little hearts and they will shine it back to you. Beautiful you.
And in that you share it with others for whatever purpose .. gives me shivers. Keep Him alongside you , writing it out for us always. You are gifted. Truly.

Doug Spurling September 14, 2009 at 9:33 am

Heather, Thank you for an extraordinary post. I found you thanks to a facebook plug by Billy Coffey. Thanks Billy.

Lots of Heather's out there but only one HEATHER/MAMMA to those precious children.

My past, ouch makes me cringe. But somehow, it makes us who we are today when placed in the Potters Hands.
If I can figure out where the "follow" button is I'll follow you. You're a great writer, mamma and Heather.

"To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name Revelation" 2:17

Elaine A. September 14, 2009 at 9:34 am

It's just amazing to me what our innocent children can provide for us emotionally.

You are such a beautiful writer Heather…

minnesotamom September 14, 2009 at 9:39 am

Seeing God take us beyond those angst-filled trials and into new, more adult trials isn't always the easiest thing, but what grace to get us through! And the conduit of your little boy…

Jen September 14, 2009 at 9:45 am

what a beautiful way to make those old books me something more, something better.

Janet September 14, 2009 at 11:19 am

Sometimes when I read one of your posts, I think it's exactly what I would have written, if I were a writer. I carry the exact same baggage. I let it affect me. I'm not that person anymore, I'm totally different, and I do think I've forgiven my past, but I don't think I could hug her yet. I'll work on that.
Thanks for both posts. Simply beautiful.

Sarah September 14, 2009 at 11:26 am

This is beautiful. Children are such blessings. I absolutely love the "Momma" line. :)

Kathy B! September 14, 2009 at 11:43 am

This is such a beautiful and well written post on so many levels I just don't even know where to begin!! Instead I'll just say thanks for sharing.

Kimberly September 14, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Oh how that "we" makes all the difference. Beautiful post, hun.

robin September 14, 2009 at 12:34 pm

your blog really doesn't like to let me comment. whenever i try to do it w openid and my wordpress addy it rejects me. and then i get all dejected and can't bother to type the whole thing up again. but this time i plan to persevere!

i've been reading here a lot. and trying to comment a lot :) sometimes i feel little pieces of me what you say. which is a nice thing.

i know all about the past.

-robin (

Heather of the EO September 14, 2009 at 1:10 pm


That stinks! I don't know why it won't work well for you. Maybe more people (with wordpress) have that trouble? I don't know. Wish I could say more than "I don't know." ;)

Anonymous September 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm

"Sometimes errors are simply beautiful" … yes. Yes. This weekend a glimpse of beauty sprung out of the ashes of heartbreak in my own past. How can yesterday's pain hold onto us like it does? I'm still, like you, waiting for redemption – waiting to understand the rest of the story. As I do, I'll be praying for your own heart to heal.

Corinne September 14, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I've been mulling this one over since yesterday.

Recently I actually threw out old journals. I can't believe I did it, but it was too much to bear to look at them. Some were fine, the ones when I was 10 or 11, but the ones that carried me through later high school and college were filled with pain I can't remember. But need to.

Thank you for the reminder.

Nanny Goats In Panties September 14, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Oh my goodness, that was just…beautiful.

laura @ peacoat September 14, 2009 at 6:36 pm

i get it.

this is so beautiful…that's all i can say.

Christy M. September 14, 2009 at 8:01 pm

So beautiful and poignant. Wow. You brought tears to my eyes. I think the fact Miles will now fill your mostly empty journals with his own words is so apropos. And his handwriting? Amazing. What a super-sweet and wicked smaht boy you have.

Love to you, my friend.

Motherboard September 14, 2009 at 8:29 pm

simply beautiful!

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters September 14, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Wonderful opening line, well crafted, insightful story, beautiful message of redemption…

Angie L. September 14, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Beautiful~amazing~I will need to read this one again and again. Mama~Mom~Ma~my favorite words~they always bring me joy!! I loved this, thanks for helping me continue my personal journey!

april September 14, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Oh, how I love this post. I can so relate. I have half written journals myself.

And, oh how I love you!

Boy Crazy September 14, 2009 at 10:03 pm

I see your name all over the blogosphere (we must read a lot of the same blogs), and I finally came by to check out your blog.


This post is beautiful and you are a wonderful writer. I'm so glad I came by. I'll be back! :)

Aubrey September 14, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Others have said it, but it is true. The words were beautiful, and sharing the experience was beautiful. Thank you!

charrette September 15, 2009 at 1:55 am

Oh my goodness, Heather, this is extraordinarily beautiful! You so artfully expressed all the pain and heartache of a troubled past, couple with the beauty of the present and hope for the future.

I especially loved this line: "Sometimes errors are simply beautiful. "

Yes, because they seem to represent a form of grace, much like Navajo weavers deliberately include an error in every rug, to remind us that only God is perfect.

You are so lovely, and so very loved!

charrette September 15, 2009 at 1:56 am

p.s. I read this three times today, and felt your goodness and His grace every single time I came back to it.

Dave September 15, 2009 at 12:13 pm

first of all, Billy Coffee commented on your blog….OMG how awseome is that?

kk, so

Heather = mama

do you even remember the things that seemed important before you had kids?
cause, i may remember some of them, but i sure can't figure out why i thought they were important.

Mike September 15, 2009 at 12:17 pm

That's why I hesitate unpackaging old stuff from the garage. I've very emotional.

Of course my wife say I'm lazy.

Twitter: AboutParenting

L.T. Elliot September 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Oh, Heather. Can I possibly say what this means to me? To see, in your words, the fluidity of my name. To read and find myself. To know that my past has evolved. Thank you for this.

Eowyn September 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm

I think there is some redemption in knowing that who we were is not who we are now.

Beautiful post and one that I will be thinking about for a long time.

ZDub September 15, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Such a beautiful post. Hugs.

Mammatalk September 15, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Wonderful! So wonderful!

And, my daughter makes the same kind of "E's"!

Kristen@nosmallthing September 16, 2009 at 4:25 am

What a wonderful lesson…I love those moments where you can feel it happening. They don't come around that often, but when they do, they're just unbelievable.

Oh, and those E's with the extra lines…priceless. I love those.

Blessed September 16, 2009 at 7:36 am

I have a past like that and some notebooks like that too. I've burned a few of them – but the rest are still here haunting my present.

I needed this today. Oh and I love it that "Heather" is "Mama" to Miles – that was precious – and it really is grace, abundant grace bringing healing to all that hurt.

Cynthia September 16, 2009 at 10:16 am

What a beautiful post! It has helped me feel more forgiving toward someone who has a sketchy past and hurt someone I love. I'm sure she's sought forgiveness but the pain she left him with will always be there. And I've had to clean up after her messes and live with some of the consequences. And I've hated her for it. Hated that she has moved on with her life, holding herself up (in my unrighteous judgement) to be this wonderful person when I KNOW the truth.

And yet, how stupid is that of me? The truth is she may well have become a better person for all the things she's been through- both voluntary and involuntarily. And the man I love is also a better person as a result of his struggles. It's totally WRONG of me to hold this grudge and I'm tired of carrying the weight. So thank you. I don't have anything in my past that haunts me, which is fortunate, but I'm extra dumb for letting someone else's past weigh me down unecessarily. This person doesn't need my forgiveness as they didn't wrong me personally but I need to find a way to let go of my own unrighteous judgements. This post helped so thank you!

Kelly @ Love Well September 16, 2009 at 11:26 am

You've gotten so many splashing-over-with-grace cups of mercy on this post already.

But it deserves even more.

I think we can all relate to the journals. To the past ugliness, whatever its name.

But as Miles so beautifully proved, the story isn't over. Every single one of those hurts, every single regret can be REDEEMED if given to God.

My heart could almost burst with that thought.

Adventures In Babywearing September 16, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I have been saving up your posts for one sitting (which I am impatiently waiting for as tonight is supposed to be my leave the house to go to Panera night but I haven't had the chance to leave yet) but I just had to check in… you know I know this. So I'll just say tears burn my eyes and my heart longs to hug yours.


Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting September 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm

I could see you at the table, with him, and my heart hurts envisioning your tears spilling into his hair, clinging to him over this drawing, these books, your memories. I love you honey, and as much as this pained you to write and as beautiful and painful as it was to read, I love it. I love every pained, emotion-filled word in it. And you.

Jaden's Mom October 3, 2009 at 8:48 am

What an amazing post! Unpacking the dusty boxes of our past can be absolutely gut-wrenching, and it is a place that only the brave dare go. I admire your courage to face the past that hurts you so, and to invite your son for part of the journey.

Your tears, far from being tears of pain, seem as though they are tears of liberation. Cleansing tears. Beautiful tears.

Keep going…you're heading to greater wholeness.

♥georgie♥ October 3, 2009 at 11:04 am

Heather-if I am ever half the writer you are…that was just beautiful-and I am sure painful..
you write with such eloquence and Grace…i am in awe


AmericanTribal October 17, 2009 at 7:59 am

This is such an absolutely beautiful post… I really can't say more than that because I'm just blown away by the emotions it stirs up… but it is truly beautiful.

Happy Saturday SITS Sharefest.

5thsister October 17, 2009 at 8:04 am

Found you over at SITS Sharefest and must say that I am very thoroughly intrigued. I grew up in a dysfunctional home, suffered abuses by both family and from those whom I sought love. I suffered the effects (depression/anorexia/bulimia) What you wrote was so beautifully executed and with a grace and style that is rare in the blogosphere. Thank you.

Laura February 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm

And then I found this one.

I am fully in tears. what an eloquent and insightful description and recounting of grace. simply beautiful.

thank you so much for sharing this. I have some old pain in my past that I don't even know how to deal with in some ways, and I just wanted to say how your words resonate with me, with my spirit. and bring me some healing through them –
so thank you.

Thank you.
and bless you. You are perfectly perfect.

Yes, you are.


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