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A Story Yet to Be Written – Heather’s Story of Hope

We talk a lot about stories at Beautifully Flawed Foundation. It is often because we know the power a story has to change a life. Maybe it’s a story heard that inspires hope in a time that feels bleak, or a story told that brings purpose to a suffering that otherwise might seem senseless. We have had the privilege of helping many find the words to tell their story and truly find purpose and healing in doing so. Shine Forth is an event we host that often coincides with our retreats. It’s a free community event for our attendees to share their inspiring stories, which then offers hope to others to overcome. While we haven’t hosted one since before COVID-19, the impact of our past events has been far reaching.

A Night of Inspiration

On October 8th, 2018, Heather and her husband Matthew, attended our Shine Forth event held in San Diego, Ca. They remembered coming primarily to hear Bethany, but found themselves moved far beyond just her story. One of the stories they found themselves talking about with their 9-year-old daughter Hailey as they drove home that evening was that of Callie Colwick, a wife and mother who lost both her legs and part of her left hand due to sepsis. They could not understand how she shared from a place of peace, and hope after losing so much. It had truly left them in awe.

Callie Colwick, her husband Kevin, and Sarah Hill on stage at the 2018 Shine Forth.

Heather recalls Callie introducing her “hot husband” to the stage, something that got the entire audience to chuckle at. As Keven came on stage, you could feel their strong bond and love throughout the building. A love so pure and gentle that it immolates that unchanging love God has for us.

Matthew remembers thinking as a husband, “How do you process that magnitude of loss? How does one process life will never look like it once did, or find the strength to keep going?” He was inspired by Keven’s strength as a husband, and remembers feeling a sense of relief that this wasn’t his story.

As they drove home that night they shared about how that was their first experience with the limb loss community. They wondered how they could use what they experienced that night in the future? Inspired and hopeful, they felt it was a night well spent as a family.

A Fight for Life

Just over a month later, on November 19th, Heather was admitted into the hospital with pneumonia. She has long battled lung disease and lupus, that at times has landed her in the hospital, so this was not something new for their family. After returning home to continue her healing, she just could not get better. She remembers feeling sick in a way she had never felt before and on January 7th, 2019 she was admitted back into the hospital, this time with the diagnosis of septic shock.

Matthew, Heather, and their daughter Hailey in December 2018 between Heather’s two hospital stays.

As the doctors prepared to intubate her, she remembers telling her husband that if they did that she feared she would never wake up again. Matthew, desperate to see his wife get better, agreed with the doctors, knowing her body was tired from fighting for so long, and needed the help to rest and heal.

After the first few days Heather was intubated, the doctors told Matt it was time to prepare the family to come and say their goodbyes. He remembers desperately pleading with the Lord, no matter what physical toll there was on Heather, to please spare her heart, mind and spirit so that she could continue to be a wife to me and mother to the daughter she adores. No complications that would come mattered more than her life. He remembered praying the Lord’s prayer over and over again until God intervened.

Miraculously, Heather pulled through and began her slow recovery. She was in the hospital for months after trying to stabilize and recover from her decreased lung function and increased damage, her feet slowly dying from the treatment given for septic shock.

A Fight for Faith

After great strides to try to save her limbs, they were forced to accept the only option left was amputation. On March 22, 2019 Heather underwent bilateral below the knee amputations. As she came to and realized her new reality she really struggled to make sense of it all. At that moment her faith was not great and she really struggled with all that she was facing. It was a fight for her to keep her faith.

Heather remembers the moment her faith took a turn as she thought back to the stories she encountered months earlier, where she heard the stories of others who found purpose, hope, and a strength to move forward after their immense suffering. In that moment she really felt the Lord showed her that she was going to be okay. Her life had a future and He was still writing her story. Through the prayers of her nurses, support of friends and family, the encouragement of her husband, and the longing to be the one to raise her daughter, Heather chose to trust the unknown to the Lord, and to get up and walk.

For Heather, it was the verse Joshua 1:9 that kept her strong:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

“I kept repeating it over and over again some of my darkest hours. It helped me push myself and know that the Lord is always with me.”

After getting fitted with her new legs, her and her family walked a 5k together for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Crossing that finish line as a family was such an incredible victory to all they had overcome.

Heather, Matthew, and their daughter Hailey after finishing their first 5K with Heather’s prosthetics.

Footprints in the Sand

Shine Forth and the stories shared on that platform painstakingly prepared their family for a story not yet written. One that would bring them to life as they knew it, only to find a hope they never imagined possible. The courage and love Callie and Keven displayed in some ways paved the road for Heather and Matt.

I will never forget the impact Heather, Matt, and their daughter Hailey made on me as they attended our Charity Luau fundraiser in April. They came not only to support the work we do, but to share the impact Beautifully Flawed has made on their lives. As Heather and her family walked up to me wearing high heels with her prosthetic legs (yes, she’s that fabulous), I was forever impacted by them. Sometimes it can be a lot keeping everything in motion and remembering the “why” to the hard work. That night God reminded me of the impact we are making and a smile to my soul. Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

Matthew, Hailey, and Heather at our April 2023 Charity Fundraiser.

Matt shared these last words with me after we all talked:

“One thing that I have been thinking about lately is the Footprints in the Sand poem, where the author looking back on her walk with God in her life, saw two sets of footprints in the sand except at her lowest points where she saw only one set. She thought that God had abandoned her at those times, but He replied that He was carrying her. That poem has taken on a new dimension of meaning for me now as a spouse of someone who lost both of her feet. I absolutely felt God’s hand in preparing us for this situation, including attending Shine Forth just before this happened, and bringing people into my life during this crisis who offered just the right encouragement.”

Heather with her daughter Hailey, not letting her limb difference hold her back.

The Power of a Story

Knowing the power of a story and creating community for those stories to impact others is where we often find our greatest strength. I believe when we find purpose in the pain, we can then see a platform to inspire others. This is what motivates us to keep this work going as an organization. It is not a work we can do alone. We are a small organization, and our team is motivated by our mission of helping others in finding hope to overcome. It can be tireless work, and many of our hours are donated hours so we can make sure to do all we feel called to do.

This work is also only possible because of our amazing community. You have all done so much to keep us going, and because of that, have directly helped stories like these become possible. This year we are hosting three retreats (we have two coming up in the fall), and that is a huge undertaking. Our fall fundraiser host we were counting on needed to postpone for a further date. Therefore we are needing to think creatively on how to raise funds. We are looking for someone who might have a community they would like to host a fundraising dinner highlighting our organization. Or to creatively partner with someone to host a fundraiser.

We are reaching out to see if there is someone who might want to help in that way. We are a team who can help make it possible, but we are in need of a host. I wanted to make the need known in the hopes there is interest. If you are interested you can email us at info@beautifullyflawedfoundation.com.

We thank you all again for all your love and support. It truly is changing lives!

Aloha,

Sarah Hill
Executive Director
Beautifully Flawed Foundation

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