Sunday, February 7, 2016




This is Heather's personal journal, which she began keeping when she was 14-years-old.  Until she passed away suddenly in a car accident on January 16, 2011, I had no idea she had kept this journal.  She was a writer, but she kept this part of her life secret.  What follows are her letters - written before she died.  And my responses, written after her death as part of my grief process - but saying the things I said to her in life.  It is raw, uncut and intimate.  It often deals with tough and mature topics.  Sometimes, the language is not polite.  But in an effort to retain the raw honesty of her emotions, I haven't edited it.

Parents, I encourage you to have open, honest, direct conversations with your children. 

Teens, I encourage you to be transparent with your parents.  They will love you anyway.

“The Girl Who Did Everything Wrong.”

I’m falling apart in slow motion faster than ever now.  My mind is completely covered in thoughts so I hope I can write them all down & actually make sense.  My life – it’s quite frusterating.  Everything I don’t want2 do, I do & everything I want2 do, I don’t do.  I seem2 be in trouble every sec. of everyday & no matter how much I want2 make things right, I always fail.  I don’t understand it even though I wish with all my heart that I could.  At this point in life I want 2 focus on not dying, and living right.  Sadly it feels like I’m already dying even though I’m not physically helping my death.  I’m dying inside.  And I see it all happening, like I’m standing just observing everything. 

Yes – I could cry so many tears I could drown myself but I don’t have time 2 sit & waist like that.  I imagine myself in an open field that is covered in dead grass w/ a huge thunderstorm coming my way.  All I do is sit and watch waiting 4 it 2 hit me.  I’m not sure what that’s supposed 2 mean or even if it is supposed 2 mean anything.

All I feel like doing is sleeping. I’ve lost all motivation 2 do anything about my life.  The one thing I don’t understand is why can’t I get it right?  I know I care but I still make the same crappy mistakes.  Which leaves me hopeless wondering why should I bother trying?  I feel alone in every aspect – including my own family.  I love my parents so much but I hate disappointing them.  How come this is the person I’ve become? I pray & pray 4 strength 2 keep moving on but I’m losing it.   I’m losing hope.  But I pray this won’t B 4 good.  That God will restore His hope & love in my soul. 

I wanna kill myself so I don’t have 2 deal w/ things but there goes my old self again.  Giving up bc I’m afraid of the work.  But I don’t believe killing myself is a way out.  To me I see suicide as giving up, cheating life, selfish & a disappointment 2 God.  I couldn’t do that.  And for once I wanna live this out.  I wanna be something better than the person I see when I look in the mirror. 

But what’s gonna change this time?  Maybe nothing – who knows but it never hurts 2 give it one more shot because one of these days I’ll make it.  This is so important 2 me.  It’s so strange.  My life flipped itself upside down w/out even asking me.  I wanna be a child again but come 2 think of it my child-hood wasn’t much different.  Still felt alone & everything it just took growing up 2 realize that. 

Now I’ve realized everything I need 2 know 4 a while.  So this is the time 2 change.  Ha change – the word that’s been haunting my dreams.  I pray 4 a miracle.  Some way 2 get me through this.

I will strive 2 be better,
In Christ,
Heather Lee

Dear Heather,

You express yourself with such beautiful simplicity. 

I see your struggle in the words on the page.  

I feel that you are torn. 

I’m just glad that you are writing. Ever since you wrote your first stories for me when you were six, I knew that you were gifted and that it would be therapeutic for you to write down your feelings.  That is one thing we definitely have in common.  I admire you as a fellow writer. 

You ask so many challenging questions to yourself and to God.  

I wish I had all the answers neatly packaged with pretty ribbons and step-by-step instructions.  

But I don’t.  No one does.  

Except God. 

And as much as I know you like pretty things - His package looks best in the ragged, well-worn pages of his Word. 

But you already know that.  

I saw a picture of a raggedy bible taped to the inside of your closet door along with other things that you like.  It looked worn and read and that picture tells me a lot about your thoughts.

We have spent countless hours talking through your life.  Trying to understand it.  Trying to make sense of it.  

We have cuddled in my bed until the wee hours of the morning as you told me about all your memories. 

I have tried to pass on what I have learned in my journey through life. 

We have yelled at each other as we tried to understand each other.  

We have gotten flusterated - you always combined the words frustrated and flustered and I liked the combination - at each other as we saw the same patterns repeat themselves over and over again. 

The one message that dad and I have consistently given you is that we want you to have a change of heart, not just be a good girl.  As strange as it sounds, we aren’t just interested in changing your conduct. Even though it would make our lives a little less stressful. J  We aren’t even interested in you following our rules or God just for the sake of saying you obeyed.  Why?  Because we know those changes won’t last.

We know that your self-proclaimed “bad” conduct is a symptom of much deeper problems.

When we see this conduct, we know something is going on deep inside you that is causing you to act this way.  The solution is to find out what is causing the problem and fix that.  Then the conduct will take care of itself. 

And here’s the complicated part – first we have to search deep enough to find out the real problem.    

It’s a search that may not be much fun because you may have to dredge up a bunch of garbage from your past to begin to understand what thoughts you have that lead you to make poor decisions.  

But I think the long-term results will be amazing.

We love you as you.  The imperfect blond-haired blue-eyed mischievous troubled child that God placed directly into our care so perfectly on that cold February day in a courtroom in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This is a writing journey that we can go on together. 

A dialog of the heart.  

A chance to talk openly and honestly about ourselves.  

On the surface, we don’t have a whole lot in common. 

You are beautiful and lively and spontaneous and adventurous.  

I’m plain and intellectual and organized and safe.  

We butt heads.  

I’m your mom, your disciplinarian, and your teacher.  I’m not your equal and never will be.  We can love and honor each other, but I’m not designed to be your best friend.  My job is to help you become all that God intends you to be.  

Sometimes, that makes you want to hate me.  

Honestly, I’m okay with that.  I don’t like it.  But I accept it as part of my responsibility as your mom.  I figure if you don’t hate me at some point, I am definitely not doing my job.

Don’t get me wrong.  I want you to love me.  But I also am clear that I have to be open and honest and truthful with you, even when it hurts.  I will speak truth in love.  Meaning love is my motivation – not an attempt for you to follow my will.  

I will never lie to you.  Even to make you feel good.  But I will love you through it all.  And no matter what you do or have done.  No matter what anyone else has ever done to you.  I will love you.  I will keep you. 

Do you remember the first week after we brought you home. Your six and one-half –year old eyes glared at me in the rear view mirror.  And you said, 

“I’m going to make you hate me so that you will send me away.” 

I glared right back through the rear view mirror, saying, 

“You can make me not like you.  You can make me angry.  You might even make me hate you. But you can’t make me send you away.” 

I continued my glare until I was sure that you understood me clearly.  

You weren’t going to win that battle.  I was keeping you no matter what.

That has been the key to my endurance.  Dad and I knew that God gave us to you and you to us. When we signed those papers in the courthouse we made a promise to you --just like I did with your father when we got married.  It is a commitment that can’t end because I don’t like you any more or because you are too much trouble. 

I love you. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Heather's Journal # 106: “There’s no tears left to cry at the end of the night.” September 6, 2008

“There’s no tears left to cry at the end of the night.”
September 6, 2008

Got busted for gettin drunk Friday night.  I’ve been fighting my fleshly desire for so long and to finally do it, I changed my outlook.  My parents’ disappointment in me is making me so sad… The only way I’m not emotionally destroyed right now is because I’ve had practice so many times before from picking up the pieces & starting over again.

I’m so ashamed… God shouldn’t have anything to do with me & my parents shouldn’t love me.  I deserve nothing.

The process of getting out of this mess no longer scares me.  It just makes me impatient.  I’m only scared of what people think of me… if they’ll still love me after all this & accept me for me.  There’s a battle going on in my heart & I gave up Friday… where was my strength?  I guess this is what’s gunna make me a little stronger next time.  I’ve screwed up. 

It was my choice & I got what I wanted… or what I thought I wanted.  But I’m not destroyed by the enemy.  Now I can give it all up to God.  Carry me until I am able to walk again…

I will love you.
In Christ,
Heather Lee

Dear Heather,

Yes.  You screwed up.  Again.  You did something dangerous.  Again.  You gave into your fleshly desires – knowing that it would get you no where.  Again. 

You got caught.  Again.  You have disappointed us.  Again.  There are consequences. Again. 

But you are forgiven.  Again.  You are still loved.  Again.  You are still worthy. Again. 

And because you have turned back to God, the Enemy has lost.  Again.

I love you anyway.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Heather's Journal #105: “I sit under the sun allowing the wind to kiss my cheek and he loves me forever…” 8-4-08 (placed after 9-3-08) 105 “I sit under the sun allowing the wind to kiss my cheek and he loves me forever…” 8-4-08 (placed after 9-3-08)

“I sit under the sun allowing the wind to kiss my cheek and he loves me forever…”
(Note: I present entries in the order I found them in her journal.)

Somewhere somehow my feelings are at rest, compromising with the best of this world.  Somewhere I’m able to find joy in small children again and accept the love from a father once more.  I’ve forgotten what’s it’s like to be captured by such abiding innocent love that I have so carelessly tossed away.  I’ve chosen the ways of a fool with a weak heart…. When all I have to do is pray for strength from above.  Why I choose this unstable life style I cannot explain other than to say I’m ridiculously selfish.  Make my way of living life new and fresh, strong and pure, unselfish and beautiful.

In Christ
Heather Marie Lee

Dear Lord,

Thank you for opening her eyes and her heart to You.  Again. 

I love you.

Heather’s Mom

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Heather's Journal #104: “Have you ever just stood there & let the wind kiss your hair… And put your head in a lion’s mouth & didn’t feel scared…” Sep 3, 2008

“Have you ever just stood there & let the wind kiss your hair…
And put your head in a lion’s mouth & didn’t feel scared…”
Sep 3, 2008

I lay here without an ounce of regret, I walk the streets without a single emotion of shame.  This heart of mine has been covered up by the thickest blanket and underneath I believe it’s drowning in regret & shame. 

The two things my mind tells my heart I don’t feel.  What  a liar my mind has become.  I pray to God begging him to take this desperation away.  He hears me I know, but I cry myself to sleep because my desperation has not packed up and said goodbye. 

This generation looks like a buncha dead bodies walking around… any true emotions have been trashed  & a lie is the new truth.  So I stare at the many faces as I wonder what’s really going on inside.  I honestly have only  allowed God an insight to my emotions.  We’re so afraid of pain but… our hearts have already stopped beating a long time ago…

Dear Heather,

I noticed you didn’t sign your letter at all.  You have only done that a few times in all these entries.  What makes you not sign off?  Just curious.

Anyway, I think you see into others more than they see into themselves.   You see it because you recognize the feelings and emotions in yourself.  “You said this generation looks like a buncha dead bodies walking around… any true emotions have been trashed & a lie is the new truth." 

What you say is so true, but unfortunately, it has looked this way in every generation.  Like I said before, people haven't changed (or learned) all that much in the history of man!

But so few people recognize it in the personal way that you understand.

The truth is that there have always been lost people.  There have always been people that say that they believe in God and call themselves Christians, but whose lives do not reflect that belief.  There have always been believers who stray from their beliefs.  There have always been people who have no idea that there is anything wrong.  There have always been selfish people.  And greedy people.  And hopeless people. 

They all have existed since the Fall of Man.  And they will always exist. 

But for those of us who recognize it, we are disheartened because we know what is/was possible.

I love you.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Heather's Journal #103: 1 Peter 1:24. “All men are like grass and all their glory is like flowers of the field. ....” 8-29-08

1 Peter 1:24.  “All men are like grass  and all their glory is like flowers of the field.  The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.”

I never really trusted that God would be faithful in all this.. even if I hoped it w/ all my heart.  There was still a big part of me who didn’t believe He’d get back to me when I prayed that prayer.  He did and I’m honestly surprised4 some reason.  Why would I be surprised that the Lord of Lords was faithful to me?  That the owner of my heart nursed me back to health?  That my God was listening to my plea…. ? There’s so much more to God that I want to see,  but for now I wanna sit in awe of what He’s revealed to me….

I will love Him,
In Christ
Heather Lee

Dear Heather,

I don’t know exactly what he revealed.  But sit in awe as long as you need to.  You don’t even have to help me clean the kitchen. J

I love you.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Heather's Journal #102 - "I'll find a pattern of hope in us…." 8-24-08

“I’ll find a pattern of hope in us. I’ll find reason to hold on.  We could wait for redemption find a word for us other than shame.”  (source?)

The days all seem to be running together as time slips by.  Where haas been my smile for the past few days?  God get me out of this world… I just wanna be with you.

I can’t trust anybody really & not even myself anymore.  I only find safety with You.  I don’t want anyone else.  That’s all I have to say right now.

I will love you.
In Christ,
 Heather Lee           

Dear Lord,

Answer her prayers.  Again.  Give her rest.  Again.  Give her trust.  Again.  Give her safety and peace and love.  Again and again and again. 

I love you.
Heather’s Mom

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Heather's Journal #101 - NO TITLE. August 22, 2008. Heather questions what it means to Love God.

No Title
August 22, 2008

“I don’t care what they say cuz I’m in love with you.  They try to pull me away but they don’t know the truth.  My heart’s crippled by the vein that I keep closing.  You cut me open and I, keep bleeding, keep bleeding love.” (SOURCE?)

I’ve dangerously questioned myself in my thoughts for a while.  I say I’m in love with God, that I’m completely devoted to my Lord Jesus Christ but am I really?  Am I so in love with Him that  I’d sacrifise anyone or anyone for Him?  Could I stand here & say that if absolutely everything was stripped away from me that it wouldn’t matter as long as I had the love of my life guiding me from above? 

I think I’d like to believe I was in love w/ God.  And I do love Him, don’t get me wrong but I think I have a heck of a lot more feet to fall in love with God. 

I wanna be so in love w/ Him that nothing else matters.  Where it hurts because it’s all I can think about.  I want to be deeply in love w/ Him. 

For so long I thought I  was but I don’t think I’m even close.  All of my bf’s Ive gone through I was just hoping someone would  catch me… I guess I was just scared or something but this time, I wanna fall fast.  And I don’t want anyone to catch me until I fall into the hands of God himself at the end of my life.  I wanna spend the rest of my life on earth falling in love with God.

i will love you.

In Christ,
Heather Lee

Dear Heather,

Love is such a powerful emotion.  You also seem to like romance, which is the idea that love is beautiful.  That is makes you feel beautiful.  It fills a space that longs for connection.  God describes love in 1 Corinthians. Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love …  But we have commercialized the concept of love so much that we have diluted its real power.  People read that verse at weddings and funerals and we imagine that it should be like that – but most of the time it feels impossible to GIVE love the same way we would like to RECEIVE love.  It’s not that we don’t want to love fully and wholeheartedly – it’s that at our core we are mostly selfish and we only tend to give love that way when we feel some benefit in return.  It is really really hard to be patient.  To be kind…. All the time. 

Seriously, we can all do it sometimes, but can you really say you or anyone you know can do it all the time?  I know that I struggle with that.  I don’t want to be that way.  But I think I am.  And I’m not sure that I will ever be able to fully overcome that until I get to Heaven and experience perfect love.

Think about it.  Life is really about conflict.

We are a people who understand stories.  We live stories.  We comprehend stories.  

Remember when I taught you history?  I told you my definition of history:  It is the study of man’s reactions to certain events over time.  

I begin the class by saying that the truth is man hasn’t really changed.  Our knowledge has.  Our technology has.  Our skills have.  But our souls and spirit have not.  Our will has not.  Our sin has not.  Man is no more or less sinful than he was in the Beginning.  

And history repeats itself because humans are human. They are selfish and greedy and hypocritical and daring and intelligent.  They are also loving and caring and committed and thoughtful.  And a whole lot more things. 

So, in the end, I say history is the study of man’s reactions to certain events because the events change – but we don’t.  We have different reactions at different times, but history offers us nothing new about humans.  Only about the events we encounter. 

People say we have to learn history so that we don’t repeat the mistakes. Which is true on an individual level.  One person or a group of people can study past mistakes and avoid future ones.  Or even copy good things.  But ultimately, humans can’t do that except through God. And as long as we have the freedom to choose – humans – as a group -  will always act out of their perceived self interest – at least some of the time. 

I feel like a philosophy teacher right now.  Some of this may be over your head, but I want you to hear it over and over again because eventually you will have an “ah ha’ moment and this will make perfect sense to you. 

And just to be clear, I’m not complaining or being negative about humans.  That would be kind of a slap in the face to God.  Afterall, he created all the possiblities!  On the contrary, I’m trying to explain to you why you might keep coming back to the same point over and over again.  The point at which you want to be different but find yourself in constant conflict with yourself and the world.  The point at which you might want to give up, but you can’t because God created in you a sense of hope that keeps you going even when you want to quit.

I was re-reading one of my favorite books called “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller.  He talks about about his faith (and sometimes lack of faith) in a real down to earth way.  He said what I say, but in different words.  He was out protesting some really important social issue of the day and suddently he realized that he had no business protesting the big issues when he wasn’t affecting change at his own church or in his own community – where he could actually do something.  Not to say that protesting was bad, just that he realized his own inadequacies while trying to tell someone else theres. 

That happens to me a lot.  Like while I’m writing to you I figure out my own problems. 

Anyway, he quotes C.S. Lewis – one of the most philosophical and down to earth thinkers of our time.  C.S. Lewis – the same guy who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia – faces his own shortcomings in this poem he wrote:

"All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through;
I want God, you , all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love – a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek –
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin."

So, I guess you are in good company.  Me.  Don Miller.  C.S. Lewis.  You.  We all are challenged by love.  We want more than we seem able to either give or receive.
And all that is true about real love.  But I think love is balanced.  

Now God offers us perfect love.  The kind described in Corinthians. But we don’t know how to receive the love he gives because we can’t really give it at the same level.  Maybe we can’t receive it because we don’t feel worthy.  I don’t know.

I love you.  As best I can.