Get to Know Me

Get to Know Me: Faith Journey

 

Baptized Catholic as a Baby

Both my mother and father's side of the family are devout Catholics. As a baby, I was raised in the very small Saint Stephens Byzantine Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona. This was an Eastern/Greek Orthodox tradition which meant the entire mass was sung (many parts in Latin), had super intoxicating incense pearmeating the building and "holy water" flung at us from the priest walking up and down the isles. There was a very strange altar, confessional booths that were dark and dreary, a cold basement that was smelly and weird, eerie stained glass windows,  and a "Pay to pray to the Saints" candlelight kneeling prayer area. The pictures of Jesus and the Saints were literally everywhere and they creeped me out. They looked like aliens throwing up gang signs with masonic type symbols everywhere. Creepy. Super creepy! These images were so jolting to my spirit as a small child. Along with the indoctrination that I was a sinner and made to believe God was mad at me and I had to perform and be perfect or be damned to hell. The Lord and I worked through this false teaching and the damage this caused during a Sozo Healing Session at age 30. {More on this later}.  

I was baptized as an infant with water being sprinked on my head over a basin and then completed my First Holy Communion at age 7 which was supposedly my declaration to accepting Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord. It's silly to think back on now. I just did what I was told, along with all my peers in my catacism class and I felt pretty special that I got to wear a pretty white dress and veil and have my whole family there to celebrate me. 

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Went to Church with Grandma

Not long after I completed my First Holy Communion, there were some changes to the doctrine. All of a sudden the bishops or cardinals (Idk, who understands Catholic heirarcy of power anyway?!) decided that they were going to wrap their 3 main faith declarations of confirmation, communion and baptism all in one. This meant that infants would be baptized, which gave them auto entry into Heaven. My family didn't agree. So my grandmother switched to subscribe to the standard, Roman Catholic doctrine. My parents pretty much checked out all together. They really didn't attend church after my little sister and brother both completed their "First Holy Communion" both around age 6-7. But my heart wanted more of God. Even though I couldn't relate to or understand anything that was said during Sunday mass and the repetitive responses seemed cultish to me and even though I was met with resistence any time I asked any questions, I still wanted to go. So for a little while my grandma would pick me up, take me to church, have brunch and take me back home. 

 

Introduced to Relationship Outside of Religion

It wasn't until I was 16 and my high school boyfriend bought me my first Bible. His family were leaders in a large local church, Phoenix First Assembly of God (now Dream City Church). This was my first church experience outside the Catholic church! I was in AWE! I couldn't believe how JOYFILLED everyone around me was! This exposure outside the Catholic religion really created a stir in my family, though. I was given strict instructions to never speak of "my religion" to my younger sister and brother or share "my Bible" with them or I would be evicted from my home. It was hard. I didn't understand it. I couldn't understand why the Bible was not welcomed when, to my understanding at the time, Catholicism was founded on it? 

I know now that one cannot support what they do not understand. 

My family were indoctrinated and some even had negative experiences with evangelicals. I was viewed as a Bible-thumper and a radical weirdo. 

 

Intrigued but not TRANSFORMED

As I mentioned in My Testimony, most of my 20's were spent being defiant and damaging to the Kingdom. At one point, my best friend in high school (who claimed to be an atheist) called me out, "Heather, you claim to be a Christian, but really I only see that you go to church every once in awhile." Whoa! She was right. I read the Bible occassionally, but I was living so apart from God. I got drunk frequently and lived promiscuiously. 

 

Church Search

For many years, I was craving a Church to call "Home." I went to many churches around the valley and none seemed to fit. And believe me, I tried. As I wrote in Welcome HOME! I tried connecting, volunteering, getting involved in groups and studies, and experience a place with vibrant worship and exemplary Christlike leadership. Nothing clicked.

 

The Radical Holy Spirit Encounter of 11.2.14

Check out my HIStory {His Story @ Work in Me} there you will find more on my journey of finding relationship outside of religion, and the radical transformation moment after a Holy Spirit encounter while crying out in despair in my bedroom. 

On November 2, 2014, I had a radical Holy Spirit encounter. I surrendered my life to Jesus not just as Savior but as LORD. From that moment on, EVERYTHING changed and I’ve never been the same since!
 

All-In

In August 2015 I saw an ad on My Facebook for a Propel Women event hosted at a local church, then called City of Grace. I had never heard of that church so I looked online and saw they had 3 campuses in the valley, one of which was an old cathedral in the heart of downtown Phoenix. I called my friend Rachael and we went that weekend. Instantly we both felt at HOME! On our first or second visit, we met the campus Pastor, Ruth (who quickly became MY mentor pastor) and she invited us to come early the next week and begin serving. I was shocked! No red tape, no membership classes...just show up and join the huddle! 

The next month we hosted the Propel event at our Mesa campus and Pastor Ruth invited me to serve. She said she had a "special assignment" for me. She invited me to serve backstage. This experience changed EVERYTHING for me! {More on this to come...stay tuned!} 



I would LOVE to hear YOUR Faith Journey story!     When did you accept Jesus as YOUR personal Lord and Savior? Please share in the comments below or send me a message!
 

I am beginning a project soon about testimonies of faith and I'd LOVE to hear YOURS! 

Get to Know Me: Family Background

I am THE first born kid in all families.

And I mean THE firstborn. I came into the world at 8:00pm on April 21, 1986. Mom said I was the easiest labor among my siblings. She laughs that she practically sneezed and I popped out...and they almost didn't make it to the hospital before I wanted to enter the world. Sounds a lot like me - when my mind is made up, there's no stopping me! 

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Mom and Dad had me at a young age. Dad was finishing his last few months as a senior at Thunderbird High School and was pictured bringing me home wearing his high school football jersey! I didn't have any other cousins around so I was the highlight of everyone's attention and affection. 

There were no "kid" tables for me to dine, no children for me to play with. I sat amongst adults with adoring eyes fascinated by my every move and coo. Maybe this is what has helped me become comfortable with attention, perhaps this conditioning was purposeful as God has designed me to be an influencer and communicator. 

I like to believe every detail of our lives has an ordained purpose.

As I mentioned in Word Nerd and #FunFactFriday : How I Became a Writer, my dad played a significant role in the developmental years of my language, education and love for writing. 

But because I didn't have many children around in my formulative years... 

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I have had MANY wonderful Influences

Adults were my influences. I have a big, loving family who are all unique in their own way. Under their influences, I have come to understand many different schools of thought and ways of life. For this, I’m thankful. It’s helped me become relatively well-rounded. I can understand and value many points of view. 

I've never thought like most people my own age and at times have struggled connecting with my peers. I remember going to daycare when I was young and didn't adapt well at first. I remember just wanting to hang out with the adults during nap time so the teacher would bring me into the office and have me "help" by stuffing envelopes or stapling papers. I remember feeling more comfortable around older people than my peers. 

I enjoy the company and conversation of people that can hold deep, meaningful conversation about things that are actually important. I’m not good with surface talk and often struggle with an overactive mind which makes it difficult to shut down, relax or sleep. I'm not sure where my overly analytical mind came from...perhaps it's a trait learned or maybe it's just how God wired my brain!

 

Half Italian

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I'm sure that explains a lot about me, eh?! Growing up with Italian influence means we're wildly passionate, loud and obnoxious, talk with our hands, enjoy food, wine, and laughter. We argue relentlessly and yet are fiercely loyal. My family is wonderfully loving and forgiving and never leaves arguments holding grudges. We genuinely enjoy being together and often find excuses for something to celebrate so we can enjoy the company of our family. I've grown up in an environment where confrontation and conflict is healthy and acceptable BECAUSE above all else, our relationships matter most. The other side of my family couldn't be more different - the Czechoslovakian side is more distant, hard to understand and be close to, there's more left unsaid than what is said, and it's common to dance around issues to avoid conflict because the norm is to harbor offenses and hurt feelings. It's just been what's been permissible. Both sides of the family have taught me so much!

 

Parents Divorce

My parents divorced before I have memory of them being together. Thankfully they committed to being cordial with each other and never said a coarse word about the other. I was still very much involved with both mom and dad's sides of the family. If there were ever any drama between them, they didn't allow me to see or hear it, and for this, I'm so thankful! They split amicably and understandably. They were so young and really one of their only things in common was me. I've never felt wounded by their divorce. Everyone treated each other kindly in my eyes. And I'm blessed because...

 

The Family Expands

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My mom remarried when I was 5 and has been married to my awesome stepdad for the past 26 years! He's been one of the greatest blessings in my life. He cared for me as his own since day one. He's protected me, provided for me, encouraged me, challenged me, modeled a hard work ethic, sacrifice, bravery in entrepreneurship, and has been exemplary in modeling the importance of strong family values. 

I was 7 years old when my little sister was born, and 9 when my baby brother came along. This big gap in our ages proved to be a big help to my mom. I was a responsible, dependable aid and babysitter. It's hard to believe my little sister just turned 25 and my little brother (nearly 23) is married with two babies of his own now!  

 

Nana

My Nana is one of the greatest influences in my life. I could truly write a book about her...actually I'm not sure I could condense my words in one book to contain the bond we have, the love we share, my appreciation and admiration for her. I was the first girl born in all families since she was born. She has nurtured me, prayed for me, cared for me and been the matriarch of our Italian family. Her love is fierce, her food is delicious, and she's the most gracious hostess I've ever known as I wrote about in "Preparing the Table." Our bond is sacred, special and eternal. 

 

Family Matters

I thank GOD for the family I have been blessed with! I appreciate the uniqueness, complexity, differences, and personalities of them all. We're by no means a "perfect" family...because there's no such thing...after all, even Jesus experienced family drama! But it's mine and I love every one of them and I wouldn't change a thing for the world. Every grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, parent, and sibling adds TREMENDOUS value to my life! They all have helped to mold and shape me into who I am today. I'm blessed to have so much love.

Most of my family don't understand my relationship with Jesus. Some are even freaked out by it! I didn't grow up with a lineage of pastors or ministry leaders. No one in my family (past or present) are ministry active. I was not taught the Bible as a child, but I did grow up with an understanding that God is real and Jesus is the Savior of the world and my family brought me up with Biblical values (even though they don't really know it). 

More on this to come! Stay tuned for "Get to Know Me: Faith Journey" releasing next Tuesday February 27. 2018! 


Upon reflection of your family background, tell me, who has been your greatest influence? 

 

 

Get to Know Me: Personality

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During my Life Coaching Certification Course many years ago, we were asked to do an exercise where we wrote our own obituaries. Sounds a bit morbid, I know, but it was an impactful experience. We prepared a message we would like to hear read over our lives, our accomplishments, etc. Then in class we were asked to lay on a table under a blanket with our eyes closed as a peer student read it to us. It forced us to really dig deep and think about what we want to be said of our life this side of Heaven. 

 

My writing has evolved these past few years and has become the space where I express my love for Jesus through scripture teaching, revelation, prophetic encouragement, exhortation of my fellow sisters in Christ, etc. I've been determined to keep the main focus on JESUS and NOT myself. {More on this in HeatherFerroni.com...REALLY?!}

As I've mentioned before, I've been blogging for about 15 years. It started off more as a personal journal and therapeutic release of processing life, creative expression through poems, a documentation of life through my eyes. One of my first blogs was titled "The Intertwined Workings of My Underestimated Mind". {Can you tell I'm an analyst?!} 

 

But lately, God has put it on my heart to revert back to showing the world who I really am through my writing. I have about 30 fully written journals and something in my spirit tells me some of this content will be produced publicly after I transition from this earth to Heaven. So, instead of waiting for you to learn about me through those private writings or through the interpretation of who I am through my remaining friends and family at my funeral, I thought I'd take some time to share my heart with you. Is that alright?

The truth is, I've been a massively misunderstood person my whole life. {Even by my own family}.  It used to discourage me, upset me and make me feel rejected, defensive and unloved. But honestly, when I made Jesus my LORD (On November 2, 2014 - more on this to come), EVERYTHING changed. Including my addiction to the perception of perfection, people pleasing, acceptance, etc. Why? Because at that moment, I knew my life was not my own, I was FULLY surrendered to God and with that WILL come opposition, rejection, and attack. 

The closer I grow to Him, the easier it becomes to embrace this reality and cling onto the truth of who I am in Him, the purpose with which He created me and the promises He has for me.

So I'll begin with sharing the foundations of my personality. Next I'll share:

  • Family Background................Tue 2.20.18
  • Faith Journey..........................Tue 2.27.18
  • Greatest Influencers.............Tue 3.6.18
  • Leadership Development.....Tue3.13.18
  • Work Experience....................Tue 3.20.18
  • Relationship History..............Tue 3.27.18
  • Values........................................Tue 4.3.18

 

 

Since as long as I can remember, I've been absolutely fascinated by the human experience. I absolutely LOVE people and am intrigued by human behavior, motivations, biological factors and sociological elements that help shape and develop people into who they are, what they believe and how they behave. 

Personality Profiling methods are so fun to me! According to the Myers-Briggs personality Profiling method, I'm an ENFJ. To get a pretty spot-on description of my personality characteristics, click HERE

From 16Personalities Report of the ENFJ Personality Type, here are some things that stuck out most to me: 

  • ENFJs are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. Forming around two percent of the population, they are oftentimes our politicians, our coaches and our teachers, reaching out and inspiring others to achieve and to do good in the world.
  • The interest ENFJs have in others is genuine, almost to a fault – when they believe in someone, they can become too involved in the other person’s problems, place too much trust in them.
  • Strengths: Tolerant, Reliable, Charismatic, Altruistic, Natural Leader
  • Weaknesses: Overly idealistic, too selfless, too sensitive, fluctuating self-esteem, struggle to make tough decisions.
  • The joy ENFJs take in moving things forward means that there is always a sense of purpose behind their friendships, creating bonds that are not easily shaken.
  • People with the ENFJ personality type are always up for a good challenge – and nothing thrills them quite like helping others. But while willing to train the necessary skills, ENFJs will always show an underlying preference for the sort of help that draws a positive long-term trend, that effects change that really sticks.
  • Quick learners and excellent multitaskers, people with the ENFJ personality type are able to take on multiple responsibilities with competence and good cheer. ENFJs are hardworking, reliable and eager to help – but this can all be a double-edged sword, as some managers will take advantage of ENFJs’ excellent quality of character by making too many requests and overburdening their ENFJ subordinates with extra work.
  • While perfectly capable as subordinates and colleagues, ENFJs’ true calling, where their capacity for insightful and inspiring communication and sensitivity to the needs of others really shows, is in managing teams.

 

To sum it up in my own words, here's what you should know about me: 

 

1.  I value communication 

Growing up with Italian influence means family values such as loyalty and fierce protection run in my veins. I don’t shy away from confrontation. Conflict doesn’t scare me. To me, it affords all parties an opportunity for greater understanding and growth. 

I'm not good with being told what to do. I like to know the “why” behind the “what”.  

 

2. I'm ridiculously honest

Accusations and assumptions infuriate me because I’m a ridiculously honest person and will always tell the truth (even if it’s incriminating). I remember ratting myself out the first time I ditched a class in high school because I felt so guilty and was afraid of getting in trouble. 

I’m an outgoing introvert

3. I absolutely LOVE humans!

Around people I give all my energy and often feel depleted and want to retreat to recharge.  

 

I'm an external processor so I’ve found that writing is my best outlet. I’m a talker and love feedback, reading and studying people.  

 

 

 

 

Random Pieces of Semi-useless Information:

  • I was the only girl to play coed soccer around age 11.
  • I have a freckle on the bottom on my foot in the same place my dad has one.
  • I won 2nd place {sheesh} in a beauty pageant at age 5. {I did win "Miss Personality" though...go figure!}
  • I see eating as a social experience 
  • I've never had stitches
  • I'm 5'0". I'm 31 years old and people often mistake me for being younger.
 

Have you taken the Myers-Briggs personality profile quiz? Share your personality type in the comments below! 

Who I Once Was

Ohhhh memories. Let me introduce you to the old Heather. In 2010 after selling/throwing away/giving away nearly everything she owned she packed up her car and had just moved back to AZ after living two (wonderful) years in Denver, CO. With big dreams and goals in her heart she quickly realized things didn't quite work out as she planned. Sleeping on a futon in her friends home office she struggled to find rewarding work and ended up serving as a waitress in a sports bar. Exposed in a world of drinking away sorrrows, she pretended to have it all together but inside her spirit was withering. Sure she knew Jesus as Savior, but He was not her Lord. She spent every night drinking her tips; drinking her rent, staying awake until the sun came up, sleeping all day and working all night. She was known to make out with random people on the patios of central Phoenix bars, destroying friendships and being the quintessential mean girl to innocent souls just to make herself feel powerful. All while claiming to be a Christian, she did damage to the Kingdom with her destructive behavior. BUT GOD....

By His grace, He rescued her from that place. Gave her a promotion, rebuilt her confidence over the following few years.

 

Don't judge a person's story by the chapter you walk in on. People do change. Love them where they are, speak blessings into their lives. Stand and watch the hand of God work in their lives. 

 

It's not worth living a lie, with one foot on each side of the teeter totter, wavering between two branches. I don't miss this old life. I have a better one now. I don't have to rely on my own confidence now that I've got GODfidence.

This is only ONE chapter of my crazy story...there's more where that came from! 


I'd love for you to share your story of grace!

I will soon be featuring others' testimonies on the blog & YouTube. Let's partner together to share God's grace with those desperately searching for it!