• April Newsletter: Chest Pains and Heart Attack

    When we last touched base at the end of March, I promised to start sending a newsletter each month, beginning in April. I had every intention of sending one out on April 15th (yeah, tax day!).

    Well, a lot of life has happened between then and now and that last blog post feels like a lifetime ago. This newsletter is going to be very different from the one I had envisioned.

    On April 6th, one of my daughters started to experience excruciating pain in her chest along with distressing GI symptoms. Three doctors, two emergency rooms, multiple tests, and several medications later and we still have no answers or relief.

    Having a suffering child and not being able to do anything about it is one of the most frustrating things a parent can experience. We want answers, but at the same time we are scared of what the diagnosis might be.

    We have more testing this week that will hopefully give the doctors an idea on how they can provide relief and healing to my precious little girl.

    And then on the morning of April 18th, I received a phone call from my husband’s co-worker that has forever changed the course of my life.

    Expecting my husband to be on the other end of the line, I was surprised to hear a woman’s voice asking if this was Mrs. Ablondi. She quickly told me that my husband, who I had just chatted with 15 minutes prior, wasn’t feeling well and was rushed to the hospital.

    I stumbled to the backyard, so my children wouldn’t see me, and collapsed to my knees in prayer for my beloved. The rest seems like a blur–frantic phone calls to friends and family, driving an hour north in rush hour traffic, receiving a call from a nurse uttering unbelievable terms like catheterization and stent.

    My very physically fit 49-year-old husband, who eats well, doesn’t smoke, and only drinks occasionally suffered a complete blockage of his left anterior descending artery. I have since learned they call this particular artery the “widow maker.”

    What are you doing, God?

    I wish I could tell you that I had complete trust in God and His plan throughout this trial. The truth is that I questioned God and why He would allow something like this to happen. I felt abandoned and alone.

    As time has gone on, I am starting to be able to look back and see His merciful hand of protection on my husband throughout this ordeal. Steve was at the perfect place when the heart attack began–a government office building with a nursing staff. He wasn’t on the highway, traveling out of the country for work, running through the woods near our home, or any of the other places he could have been.

    The closest hospital to his office is one of the best in the country. The care he received was stellar. From the onset of the attack to the time the stent was in place was less than two hours, allowing for minimal damage to his heart.

    The outpouring of love we have received from our church family has been incredible. Their prayers have sustained us. They have literally been the hands and feet of Jesus in the practical ways they have helped.

    Steve spent last week recovering at home and has started back to work part-time as of yesterday. Looking at him, you would never know that he suffered a major heart attack less than two weeks ago. His follow up appointments have gone well and all of the doctors are very optimistic about his future.

    I have no idea why God allowed Steve to have a heart attack, but I am so thankful that He protected him and gave him more time on this earth to be the husband and father we need him to be.

    It is my prayer that God will be glorified and that this experience will not be wasted in our lives. Let Him use it to further His kingdom and to bring hope to a lost and hurting world.

    I am still processing all that has taken place and am sure I will have many thoughts to share in the future. In the meantime, will you keep our family in your prayers? Our emotional and spiritual healing will most likely take far longer than Steve’s physical recovery.

    Camp Willow Springs

    Months ago, I excitedly accepted an invitation to speak at a mother-daughter weekend camp in NC from May 3-5th and then again May 17-19th. With the events of the past few weeks, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep that commitment.

    Thankfully, some wonderful friends offered to come and spend the weekend with my husband and kids, allowing me the peace of mind to minister to these precious moms and their daughters.

    It should be a fun weekend! I will be using my experience competing in the Miss America Pageant to illustrate spiritual lessons God has taught me over the years. I will even be pulling out my old wardrobe and rhinestones!

    April Free Lance-Star Columns

    April 5, 2019: The power of doing the impossible

    April 19, 2019: Hope and healing can be found in Jesus (I wrote these words 45 minutes before receiving word that my husband had had a heart attack.)

    Thank you for your prayers and please let me know how I can be in prayer for you. I look forward to chatting with you again in May (hopefully life will not be as eventful between now and then!).

  • What Exactly is an HBBQ?

    Back when I was competing in the Miss America Pageant, I joked that once I had “aged-out” (the pageant term for being too old to compete), I was going to start a club for fellow former competitors called Has Been Beauty Queens or HBBQs so we could share our experiences and support each other through pageant withdrawal.

    I loved this white dress! I used to say that I was going to be married and buried in it.

    I never did start that club, but I have come to realize that the lessons I learned while competing are applicable to life in general. We all deal with self-image issues, friendships, comparison, sticking to goals, failure, questions of faith, doubt, disappointment, and broken dreams. I just happened to struggle with my issues before a live audience.

    There was a time in my life where I tried to hide my pageant background for fear that I wouldn’t be taken seriously. I believed that I needed to present myself a certain way on this blog and in my presentations in order to be seen as a “real” Bible teacher.

    But I learned that you can take the girl out of pageants, but you can’t take the pageant out of the girl. In trying to hide this part of my life, I have suppressed who I really am and have short-changed my audience from being able to benefit from the unique perspective on life, faith, and service that my competition years have given me.

    And so, I have decided to wholly embrace my HBBQness by renaming my blog Confessions of a Has Been Beauty Queen. I am excited about this new direction and the freedom it will lend me to be more transparent and genuine in my writing.

    Don’t worry. This will still be a place where I talk about faith and God and all the wonderful things He has taught me and the miracles He has performed in my life. It just might not be so formal. In fact, I have some stories that are downright hilarious! I hope you will be able to relate to the experiences that I share and that you might see yourself reflected in them.

    Ultimately, my goal is for this to be a place where we journey together to discover God’s character, explore our identity in Him, and learn to live out that identity with abandon.

    Starting in April, I will be sending out a monthly newsletter that will include personal musings and helpful links from around the Internet. I will also continue to share links to my bi-weekly religion column every other Saturday morning. I do post more frequently on Instagram and would love to interact with you there! You can find me at @heathermablondi.

    I am excited to be working on two new projects that you will be hearing more about in the future. First, I am writing a daily devotional based on a blog series I did several years ago called 31 Days of Knowing God. This series looked at the Hebrew names of God and how they help us to understand God’s character. This devotional will be available as a free PDF download to all subscribers.

    The second project is a compilation of Saying Grace (my column in the Free Lance-Star) pieces called 100 Days of Saying Grace. This will be available in paperwork and e-book formats. I hope to launch that in time for Christmas!

    Thank you for inviting me into your inbox. I know that your time is precious and it is my goal to provide something you will find valuable in your everyday life.

    In Him . . .

    Heather

  • What the Admissions Scandal Taught Me about Parenting

    I hope you have been enjoying your weekend so far. I had a wonderful coffee date with a friend from church this morning. It reminded me how important it is for us to take time out for ourselves and how nice it is to talk to someone face to face instead of through a screen.

    Look how beautiful this coffee shop is! I cannot believe that it sat as storage for over a decade before being restored into this amazing art cafe. I am looking forward to spending time there working on some exciting upcoming projects. And after not having any sugar for a month (more on that another time), I was also reminded how much I like a good mocha!

    In this week’s Free Lance-Star Saying Grace column, I shared my thoughts on the college admissions bribery scandal. When I sat down to write that piece, my intention was to focus on how things done in the dark always get brought into the light. But then I realized that I am much more like those parents than I care to admit and that theirs is a cautionary tale for us all. You can read that column here.

    Until next time . . .

    Heather

  • 2 Important Questions to Ask Before It’s Too Late

    Hi Friends! It has been almost two weeks since this column was published in the Free Lance-Star, but what a busy two weeks it has been!

    My husband was out of town and it seemed like I just couldn’t find a few moments to sit down with my computer to type this post. But I didn’t want to skip sharing this one with you because I believe it is an important message that we all need to hear (I know I need to be reminded of these truths again and again and again).

    The death of actor Luke Perry caused me to examine the path I am on in my own life and ask if that path will lead me to where I ultimately want to be. You can read that Saying Grace column here.

    Luke Perry gained fame for his role of Dylan McKay on the hit 1990s show Beverly Hills 90210.

    You can expect another post from me this Saturday morning. And then next week I have some exciting announcements to share with you! Well, I think they are exciting! Hopefully, you will too.

    Until then . . .

    Heather

  • Breaking the Generational Curse

    In this week’s Saying Grace column in Fredericksburg’s Free Lance-Star, I shared my heart in regards to the death of my great uncle, a man I was never given the chance to know because of the life choices of my grandfather, Kenneth, also a man I never knew.

    You can read that column here.

    My grandfather, Kenneth, was essentially absent from my father’s life by the time he met my mother and was completely gone by the time I was born. In a sense, I am glad I never knew him because he wasn’t much of a man.

    Kenneth Metzger, my grandfather

    But that doesn’t change the fact that I feel an incredible sense of loss when I think of what might have been. The lives of so many people would be different today if one man had chosen to follow the path of righteousness instead of the path of destruction.

    I pray that this fact always serves as a reminder that we are not an island. The choices we make ripple out like waves when a pebble is dropped in the still waters of a pond for generations to come.

    That is why I daily declare, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”