Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Kairos Season

Winds in the east, mist coming in, / Like somethin' is brewin' and bout to begin. / Can't put me finger on what lies in store, / But I fear what's to happen all happened before.
Bert // Mary Poppins
 
I haven't slept well since Wednesday.
 
That is to say that I am either sleeping ridiculously hard or not at all.
 
Hello anxiety...my old friend.
 
*insert eye roll*
 
I texted a friend the other day that maybe I DO have the gift of prophecy...I mean how many times have I said, "This is how it works - you pray and pray and pray - worry that God doesn't hear you - then out of nowhere BAM! God shows up and does the thing you need/ask/want him to do - then you whine - Too soon God. Too soon!" We are incredible douches that way. I offer up the Israelites circa Red Sea miracle times as exhibit A, B, and C.
 
 
So hear I sit weighing out the delivery of said prayer request and wondering what the bloody hell am I supposed to do now?!?!?! {Siri's voice is now a British accent - thanks Haiti Girls - so I sometimes bounce into the accent.}
 
First, I keep praying. Praying through the fear, the anxiety, the sleepless/restless nights, and in those prayers of whining, I praise God because he is always good....he always comes through...and he is sovereign (ergo In. Control.).
 
Second, I make a list...and then another....and then another. I am a list maker. That is who I am. That is what I do. 'Make the plan; work the plan' was an off-shoot of 'Make the list; work the list..' God expects me to use my gifts; especially now.
 
Third, I write. I am going to write until my fingers bleed because THIS is the story. This is my story. This is the good stuff. I don't know who or if anyone will EVER read any of this hot mess (or the hot mess being saved in journals and hard drives; I know shocker - this is only a snippet, what I share here), but that is not the point. The point is to write. To document. I was here. I lived. I loved. I overcame. I did all of those things from the 'foot of the cross posture' because once life brought me low, I realized I needed to be there not from a point of shame, but one of praise. Documenting this journey has been part of how I have survived (and continue to survive), and how God continues to teach me. I can go through a thousand exercises, but none works more than when I sit down here and just start typing and the Holy Spirit shows up and comes out of my fingertips. I literally 'active write' so, in a nutshell, I am as surprised by what I am reading as you are....LOL
 
Fourth, I am going to remain faithful and calm even as I step out in faith. The whole point of faith is to have it even when you cannot see or touch or feel or maybe even understand it all. Mine has and will continue to be tested. I plan to honor that. I plan to ask others to hold my hands,  pray for me, encourage me, and push me when I need it. Faith is watered in community.
 
....that is a start....
 
Last night my niece wanted to watch "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days" so aunt that I am, I obliged. I love that movie too. Imagine my surprise as the movie wrapped and this song played, Weight Of The World by Chantal Kreviazuk, and I really heard the lyrics for the first time. Ever do that??? It happens to me...A. Lot. Freaks me out a little....actually.
 
I digress.
 
So...I am listening to the words and then have to go search for them. I ended up posting them on Instagram because I like to share the songs that are setting my heart free in this season. The photo though, I loved even more....see below...



  
'Unstuck: She moves gracefully from one season to the next.' Anyone else see that one above??? Well....that my friends IS a LOFTY goal for me.
 
I will say this....please pray for me....hang on....it is going to get interesting around here. I promise to share as much as I can, when I can, but a lot will read vague for awhile...BUT the undercurrents of what I am feeling, my decision-making process, and the lessons will be crystal clear. If any of that helps you in your own journey, my heart swells with blessing for you. If not, feel free to laugh along with me as I bumper-car my way through another season of transitions (yes, plural).
 
Finally, I have never asked people to post comments or enter their email address on my main blog page so that they could be notified of new blog posts when they arrive, but this morning on a writing break for more coffee....I sensed I was supposed to do both of those things....SO....in the hot mess of a life you have (and trust me I know you do), if I could ask this of you...post comments here or on my Facebook writing page - share what you are loving or hating; what you find challenging; what speaks to you OR simply say - 'press on Heather, you are going to be okay.' I anticipate the spiritual attack on me that is coming will be intense. Also, if you go to my main page, there is a place in the upper right-hand corner where you can enter your email address so that every time I publish a post, it goes right to your email. I want you to stay informed of this journey, so please take 30 seconds and enter your email address and join me for the ride. As nervous as I am, I am also giddy. As I said to my friend the other day through laughter and tears, "Only Jesus." So whatever anxiety and nervousness and long road that is ahead of me....I know why I am here and for whom. I am going to honor that with ALL that I am. My arms are no longer wide open for myself, but for others. I want to serve others the rest of my days. In whatever way God wants me to. All for him.
 
This morning my friend Sherri sent me the word 'Kairos' to which of course I went and looked it up. She is out at Bethel and one of the speakers spoke that we are in a Kairos time. So after reading the meaning, the Biblical references, and looking up to God for a bit with some sass, "Are you kidding me?" I can say here, I could not agree more. I believe we are in a Kairos season globally, and let me be clear....right here in my own little heart and world. So as I read and pray and mull over that word and the lessons there awhile longer this morning, I am praying that whatever season YOU are in, that you realize this morning that seasons come and go...but that God is constant and in control. He loves you. He is for you. There is no better cheerleader. Let me raise both hands and testify.
 
If you are looking for inspiration or love or hope or joy or rebuke or restoration, let me offer up the entire book of Isaiah (not to mention II Samuel) for your weekend reading pleasure. I could read Isaiah all day every day as it is the most beautiful, convicting words for my heart. Of all the Bible, Isaiah is the book that has been my go-to throughout these past several years. In times of stress or celebration, anxiety at my doorstep, brokenhearted, new adventures, purging of the old, and walking into new freedoms...there it is. Perfectly said. Every. Single. Time.
 
I don't know what season you find yourself in, but as my heart rate quickens with every next step in my own Kairos Season...I am going to slide up as close to God as I can get...burrow myself under his arm, next to his side, and hold on...because I know to whom I belong and who I want guiding every step, every decision, every move.
 
One more thing....if you need a soundtrack today, Brian and Jenn Johnson's new album After All These Years is AMAZING, but my song today...as I type is THIS, and the lyrics to Gravity are included on the video. You. Are. Welcome.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Speak To Me

I need a lot of grace on this post....this "thought" is not fully fleshed out, which is really saying something since my writing process IS fleshing out the thought while I type....
 
*laughing out loud nervously*

I digress.
 
This one is REALLY not fleshed out.
 
Maybe the promise is finding it in little moments within the chaos.
 
I know.
 
Crazy.
 
A year and a half ago God gave me what I lovingly call "The Promise" and I have had enough confirmations to know that God is in it, so I continue to dream about it and focus on watching God unfold it in his time. I am so patient....I never get anxious. LOL *insert eye roll*
 
In the past few months, I have been having these "Spidey Sense" moments where I almost feel like I am....wait for it...."in the promise" experiencing it in real time. How crazy do I sound??? So...the promise is about time and space and place and God (that is all I am going to share right now..."Vague much?" you are thinking). It is VERY personal and frankly, in order for it to happen, some pretty transformational things must occur in my life. Like BIG things. God-sized things.
 

So, this morning after church I am listening to THE most beautiful song (I am currently obsessed with (listen to it HERE)) and though I have heard it a dozen times already over the weekend, while it is playing this time I am thinking about The Promise and hoping for it sooner rather than later - just a small moment to HOPE. Then I feel it, BAM! I am in it....yesterday as I rested and today in church... I am in it. I am in the feeling of The Promise. What I mean by that, is that I can feel what my spirit will feel then - Good Grief - I sound insane!!!! *face in my hands*
 
Then I realize...maybe part of The Promise is the ability to find it in the little moments of the chaos of the now BEFORE I fully experience it. Maybe God is trying to teach me something here and now about the bigger story he will show me then. Maybe, just maybe, I am losing it. LOL
 
I have a lot of "secret" writing going on right now (no need to get excited), and I was working on a piece before church this morning from some notes in my journal and this line popped out, "finding and loving God in both the beautiful and the brutal" and I felt suddenly dizzy.
 
My Sis is worried about me right now. I am going through some pretty heady stuff in counseling and it is taking me back to people and places I would rather leave neatly packaged up on the shelf. I worry about me too when I think about it too long, but that is the deal you make when you reach out and claim the baton of healing. You walk boldly into the backyard where you buried all the dead bodies and you dig them all back up. You face them, you forgive them, you forgive yourself, and then you bury them properly (with all of the pop and circumstance), and then you move on - one step in front of the other - in full healing. In my case, you also document this hot mess because God told you it would help you 'get over yourself' and maybe help someone else too. I'm super duper happy about all of that too (that is sass - hear my tone as you read it). In all seriousness, if this helps someone avoid three decades of self-hatred, I say read on and claim healing for yourself. God didn't mean for you to live like that...not ever.
 
Boy....what a digression.
 
My point is that I crested a few waves this past week, instead of being crushed by them, and so even sick as a dog like I was, it was a great week for Heather's heart and soul. Yay ME! I also needed the "wins" as I am anxious to finish the work in the backyard so I can focus on the front, so to speak. Actually the analogy looks more like finish the backyard and step into a whole new neighborhood; there is a lot of open road out there. I am anxious to explore it.
 
Back to The Promise.
 
I hear you God. I see you God. Keep speaking to me. I am listening. I hang on every word you say.
 
God is right here with us in the every day, every moment. In the sick days stuck in bed. In the crazy times at work. In the sermon that breathes fresh life into your lungs. In the thank you notes written. In the journal pages filled with dreams, to dos, and doodles. In the song you found by accident and played over and over. In the laundry you finally got caught up on. The orange juice you are enjoying like you just discovered it for the first time. In the denim shirt you finally ordered (took four years) so you could finally throw away the one you have had for 25+ years. It is in the photos you finally went through and packed away. It is in the to do lists you finally conquered, and the trash you finally emptied. The words you finally wrote. The letter you finally sent. The sin you finally forgave yourself for committing. The friend you finally called. The person you finally forgave. The check you finally mailed. The gift you ordered. The flowers you sent. The loss you grieved. The bed you made. The food you tried. The words you gave life to. The conversation you finally had with someone you love. The dream you finally allowed yourself to have.....and on and on.
 
God is in it....all.
 
Speak to me.


When I was a little girl....
 
I loved Jesus and people. I loved singing and writing and reading. I loved playing house, church, and school. I loved snuggling and bear hugs. I loved being loved well, and I loved loving others BIG - big hugs, homemade cards and gifts, over-the-top, stand at the window for hours waiting, sign-making - ways.
 
Most of all of that....as I typed....come with pop-up memories from the age of 3-9.
 
My "before" years.
 
Before I knew real pain, real loss, and abandonment.
 
Before the enemy took my family out behind the woodshed and whipped us...but good.
 
On my bad days, even now at 45, the "before" years mark me. They mark my doubts, my emotions, my reactions, and the real crap-fest -- they mark how I see myself, how I see my very heart.
 
The core truth is though....I still love of all those things, and dammit, I want them back!!  I want my six year old heart back in my 46 year old body (46 is just a few months away)....and I want to LOVE from that sweet place of "integration" (counseling term) which comes from a place of healing and wholeness I don't have a lot of experience with....but I want it....I am fighting for it...Every. Single. Day. I want The Promise and part of that promise is no longer wandering in the desert as a brokenhearted nine year old wondering what the hell happened to my life, my family, and God forgive me...my own heart. I know what happened. Life happened. The enemy happened. Humans happened. I was collateral damage in the third act of a play I didn't sign up for....and neither I, at the age of nine, nor anyone around me, was equipped to deal with what happened to us....or what would continue to happen to us as the waves crashed on top of our family again, and again, and again, and again.....and again.
 
I met a nine year old girl at the children's home last week. I was there to volunteer....to help. Funny how that works, you go to help someone in "need" and they help you MORE. I was waiting on someone at the swing set, so I started swinging alone when a little girl walks up and sits in the swing next to me. We start talking. She is nine. Nine. I look up and take a long, slow deep breath. The kind of slow breath you take right before, and full-on knowing, God is about to teach you something. I am taking a deep breath now just trying to type this out. My heart is still raw from the encounter. This girl tells me about her dreams, what she loves to do, and about her 'hot mess of a family' story. She is as matter-of-fact and calm, cool, and collected as an 80 year old man who went to war, came back, and lived a full life. She is fully present. I am....undone and in awe. What is the difference between her and me? Ponder that because I have for a week and am still working it out.
 
Here is what I know to be true. Today.
 
Healing comes from God...in community....with others.
 
That means I have to be open and honest with others...about and with my life while also giving others the time and space to be open and honest with their lives. Daily.
 
Holy Spirit Come.
 
Speak to me.
 
Healing comes when I finally get tired enough of being broken, that I allow God to be God....In. Me.
 
Speak to me.
 
Healing comes when I believe in The Promise...every day....more than I believe in the lies I have swallowed as gospel....for years....about myself, my life, my calling, my future.
 
Speak to me.
 
Healing comes when I choose the best of me over the worst of me, and I operate from that place. Daily.
 
Speak to me.
 
Healing comes when I am no longer the Israelite needing God to part the Red Sea in order to believe, but faithfully and obediently put my foot in the Jordan River BEFORE and while the water is still rushing along, ready to sweep me along, because I KNOW God will MOVE.
 
Speak to me.
 
Healing comes when I stand before God and say, "I am 46! I am still as strong today as the day you sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that you promised me that day." {I usurped Joshua 14:10-12.}
 
Speak to me.
 
The voices in my own head and heart have been YELLING at me for over three decades. Quieting those voices, those lies, the pain that came from a result of them, and even the pain that started the spiral....is difficult. Maybe, just maybe the hardest battle yet. Maybe it is really has been the core battle all along....these past several years. Quieting them so I could hear God, and now trying to kill them so there is only God. So, imagine my surprise when a nine year old girl demonstrates for me that the trick isn't killing them, it is knowing WHAT they are and simply not letting them DEFINE me.
 
I just sat backwards and looked up...there it is...the lesson.
 
Speak to me.
 
Those things that hurt me. They really hurt. I didn't imagine them. They didn't happen to someone else. They hurt me. They happened to me. They defined me.
 
BUT...they don't have to define me...still.
 
Speak to me.
 
I wish heaven were here. I wish that people didn't get hurt. No one got sick. Injustice was not a word, much less a reality. I wish pain were no more and death an old wive's tale.
 
Someday it will be.
 
Heaven is real. It simply isn't here...now.
 
What is here is this odd space continuum where pain and joy coexist. Where we live at war and fight for Eden. Where love and hate are spoken in the same sentence. Where God is real, but so is the enemy. Where we are challenged daily to overcome and then throw our hand back to help our neighbor do the same.
 
Speak to me.
 
I am grateful. I am siting here utterly and ridiculously grateful that God is sitting right here with me cheering me through this hot mess of healing.  I am grateful that I have a tribe, a community, a family, and strangers everywhere being used by God to hold my hand and walk with me a bit before handing me off to another "angel unaware" to go along together on the next bit of road. {I see the visual in my head...it is breathtaking. Suddenly I see that dirt road in Haiti I wrote about HERE.}
 
We are all out here...together....fighting for our own healing, fighting for other's healing, loving, learning, and grabbing joy with both hands. I hope that you are letting God speak to you....to your heart....maybe even to the parts wrapped up on a shelf or buried in the backyard. I won't lie to you and say that it easy, but it is worth it. For real. The Promise, whatever your promise might be, is real too. God has something for each of us, but no friend or foe can unearth that for you; only time with God - listening for/to him, reading the Bible, meditating and prayer, and mostly (maybe this is just me) learning to walk with him....Every. Day.
 
When I was a little girl....
 
I loved the song "My God and I"...it goes "My God and I go in the fields together...We walk and talk, as good friends should and do. We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter...."
 
I found a video of it - listen HERE....Beautiful.
 
Praying for you a beautiful Sunday full of rest, walking, talking, and listening....with God. Where is God? Right there next to you....waiting.
 
Speak to me.
 

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Moment of Reflection

This morning I am just minding my own business scrolling through Twitter and come across someone's repost of Brene Brown TED Talk on Shame, and so I go and grab another cup of coffee and settle in to watch....again. The truth is that I have not watched it in a couple of years, but this morning all I could think of (after yesterday) was the first time I watched it in early 2013. Back then, coming across Brene (who was unknown to me) and watching her (two) TED Talks was like some surreal, out of body experience. I was undone and giddy simultaneously. Now, four years later I have devoured four of her books, written and spoken on my own journey with shame and vulnerability, and after three years of that....cannonballed into counseling last year.
 
So....I am sitting here listening to this accepting how far I have come and realizing areas I still need to work on.
 
Breathtaking.
 
When she gets to this quote and reads it aloud.....

The Man in the Arena
 
 It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 
 
....I am undone.
 
So I started listening even more intently...my mind working through the visual memories of the last few years...how I am incorporated her words into my daily life....and then...
 
"If we’re going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path. And I know it’s seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself, I’m going to go in there and kick some ass when I’m bulletproof and when I’m perfect. And that is seductive. But the truth is that never happens. And even if you got as perfect as you could and as bulletproof as you could possibly muster when you got in there, that’s not what we want to see. We want you to go in. We want to be with you and across from you. And we just want, for ourselves and the people we care about and the people we work with, to dare greatly."
 
...that was me, and honestly, on my worst days (now), that still is me. It IS seductive.
 
Here is the ballgame....
 
Are you willing to leave everything at the door (or alter) and cross the threshold into unchartered territory and peel yourself layer by layer until you find your true center....and then, gasping for air, sit a spell and start operating from the very center, the heart, of Who. You. Are. ???
 
Who you REALLY are.
 
I have barreled through my life like a rocket....so yesterday morning in a meeting when I caught my own posture - relaxed in the chair, softness in my face, normal breathing, fully present - while in the middle of frankly a crap storm, I smiled all the way to my insides. When I recognize these moments in myself, they leave me breathless...even now. I know they are more frequent and some probably think it is silly to take stock of them at this point, but the truth is I hope I never ever get over the thrill of feeling peaceful. My pastor says all the time, "I hope I never ever get over being saved." Me too, but I also hope I never ever get over being healthy.
 
Yesterday someone spoke some good old fashioned truth into me about what they had seen in me over the past year; this is someone who sees me five days a week, but doesn't know my "story" (per se) so their words had an authenticity that your heart believes on a different level because they "don't have to love you" - LOL. Their encouragement on the heels of yesterday morning was refreshing to my soul.
 
Which leads me to this point....
 
We need to spend more time encouraging each other.
 
We need to encourage the person who looks like they have it all together....the one obviously struggling....the person who we see trying to do better....the person we love....the person we struggle with.....friends....family....co-workers....the stranger across from us at Starbucks....the person taking our money in the parking garage....anywhere, with everyone, All. The. Time.
 
We need to be encouragers.
 
We need it.
 
They need it.
 
Sure I am better. Sure I was having a decent day. Sure I am getting over a respiratory infection so healing is coming. Sure, sure, sure.
 
I still needed those encouraging words. They still pierced my heart.
 
 
The enemy wants me to believe I am not improving OR when I do acknowledge improvement, the enemy whispers to me about how long it is taking and "are we not there yet?" kind of nonsense. Imagine a person who never admitted weakness turning into me - writing about all of their weaknesses. There is, in essence, a bulls-eye on my back for the enemy. Sometimes his lies are deafening as they ring in my ears.
 
So....don't let the time it takes scare you....or the mountains still ahead deter you. Accept the encouragement when it is offered. Sit a spell, catch your breath, and then...keep moving forward. One step at a time.
 
Growth is hard....the waves crashing against and over you so when you crest one - savor it.
 
Savor. It.
 
Yesterday I crested the waves so I threw open my arms, leaned back, looked up, felt the sunshine on my face, and whispered "Holy Spirit come".....if even for a moment. It was the best.
 
Now...who can I encourage today???
 
Who can you???

Holy Spirit come. Again and again and again. Come.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Yoke : Freedom // Gravity // Perspective

It isn't the yoke, it is what is attached to the yoke.

It isn't the load, but the way you carry it.

 
Is that true??? Are either of those true???
 
I don't know, but it is something I have wrestled with for years now as I tried to figure out how to do more, faster...and even better. Clearly I was doing it wrong I would tell myself not knowing exactly what IT was but convinced it held the secrets to my personal productivity and success.
 
Many watched me wrestle for three years through a purge of my life - possessions, yokes, pain - nothing was off limits during that season, and by nothing - I truly mean NOTHING. Then last year, thinking I had been exploded out of a giant cake into the promised land, I found myself one year ago today sitting in a pile of tears and anger dumbfounded by why my "posture" was still "off" - read that jewel of honesty HERE. Sadly, even after writing all of that (and I reread it again this morning), I would wrestle for another month before someone in my tribe said (ever so gently), "Have you thought about finding a counselor?" So started the excavation of my insides throughout 2016 (and it continues...because that is what happens when you open yourself up to healing, you find that you need more of it than you know....).
 
When I was a little girl....
 
Last night I sat at dinner staring out the window as that phrase rolled through my head in waves. That little line has been running through my head for weeks now. Out of the blue, I will hear, "When I was a little girl..." and then nothing - BLANK. What is that???? *insert shaking head* I have NO idea.
 
This is what disruption looks like people. It looks like crazy. Certifiable crazy. I am also hear to say, it feels like crazy too. *insert nervous laughter*
 
My counselor is not too fond of the words I use to describe myself. My internal narrative is definitely not PC...or as it turns out...kind...as in kind To. Me. *Ugh*
 
Everybody raise both hands because I am betting your internal narrative isn't kind either. We suck. *LOL* Adding levity here...laugh or cry.
 
You know why our world is unkind...because we are unkind to ourselves which in some deep, dark, sick way gives us permission to be unkind to others. Then every once and awhile, we pull our head out and something truly awful pierces our heart, and we feel empathy and compassion...once again...and then we overreact out of guilt.
 
Just me????
 
The secret may just be.....how do we train ourselves to be truly kind...to everyone....Every. Single. Day.????
 
This isn't rhetorical.
 
How?
 
Kindness Matters.
 
When I was a little girl....
 
When you have trauma at a young age...and stuff (oh yeah the word in my head was different) happens...and coping mechanisms are shaped...and life goes on....whatever innocence you had gets buried or simply packed away on a shelf in a neatly wrapped box with a bow. One day....many years from way back when, you open the door to a room (lets call it a maze (or city dump (I will write about that visual someday)) as my room looks more like that) and as the cracked door lets in the light you see shelves for days filled with tiny wrapped packages with perfect little red bows.
 
counseling = cracked door into dark room full of shelves with boxes
 
....anybody catching on to the visual God just gave me?
 
Well, I did. As. I. Wrote. It.
 
I have been writing about "straggling items" this year/month - HERE and HERE. I am wrestling through my list, but I have completed more than I had hoped/dreamed...still so much more to do in these final few days of January.
 
There is freedom on the other side of that door, those boxes, and even that list of straggling items. I am realizing that I am terrified of not what is on the other side of the door, but what is on the other side of dealing with what is on the other side of the door.
 
Anybody still with me???
 
I just paused for a moment to reflect....
 
The truth is I am still afraid of what is on the other side of that door. I am not enjoying EMDR or what comes out of it...At. All.....but the truth is that at least I know how to be broken.
 
Oh. Shit.
 
*Tears.*
 
...at least I know how to be broken.
 
Did I just write that?
 
Dear Lord.
 
*Deep Breath*
 
Being broken is like sitting on the fence....you don't have to commit because well...you are a HOT MESS. I mean everybody knows it...they just don't say it to your face....well some do....but those people LOVE you and pray for your healing every single day (side note - those are YOUR PEOPLE and you need to hold them dear and close and praise God for them Every Single Day Of Life). I hate the fence, but I know the fence....so remaining there looks really appealing right now. Being broken also means I don't have to really get involved in other people's messy...because you know I have my own hot mess so I don't really have time for your hot mess. Anybody tracking with me? Someone raise their hand please - feeling alone out here.
 
My name is Heather Nelson, and part of me is terrified to get healthy.
 
...not because healthy isn't appealing....oh how appealing it is....but because I don't know or understand it. I mean I have my face pressed against the glass like a caged animal at the zoo looking at all of the people out there walking around unyoked....and I see that little girl with a sucker in her mouth waving at me wildly...loving me without knowing me....and I want to get out and play with her, but there is safety in the cage. There is safety in the cage.
 
...I am going to let all of that marinate for a bit. I am having a Maya Angelou awakening moment. (going to be rereading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings again tonight)
 
So...what have we learned today boys and girls?
 
How we see ourselves is the same filter with which we use to see the world? If we want people to change the way they see the world, we first have to help them change their own internal filter. {now before you rail that is NOT true of ALL people...I will concede to only this...maybe, maybe not}
 
I have lived scared a good deal of my life, and I have hid that fact behind a lot of bravado. In the ripping away of the bravado, I am not liking (me no likie) dealing with the source of all of that fear. Some of that fear is trauma-based due to a lot of what happened TO me, and some of that is based in what I did to myself. I need to be honest and always clarify that point (for me and for anyone looking in at my walk).
 
When I was a little girl...
 
I don't know exactly why that phrase continues to haunt (and yes it feels haunting) my mind, but I am working to be brave to face it head on. I have come a long way these past several years, and I am proud of myself for being brave and vulnerable...and doing The. Work. I have still more work to do, but I think the counselor is right....it is time to stop looking at each week as "the hardest week ever" and find more positive words to describe myself, my days, my weeks, and my life. Growth still sucks, don't get me wrong.....BUT it also feels like FREEDOM....scary, purposeful, beautiful, terrifying, intentional, God-infused....
 
F R E E D O M
 
When I was a little girl....
 
On this beautiful winter morning, be brave and peek around the door, then past the room full of your brokenness, and take a gander even further past that at the freedom that awaits you.
 
...and while you do, you might listen to this new song from this new album...G R A V I TY (video) by Brian and Jenn Johnson (Bethel).
 
Perspective.
 
Perspective is a beautiful thing.
 
Lake Michigan, Chicago, January 2017
 


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Lesson In The Meltdown

Have you ever just melted down right in front of someone?

I do it a lot lately...just words rolling out of my mouth on top of words....like a tsunami of words and none of them making two bits of sense.

It is embarrassing.

What I have come to learn about myself is that I do this (more often than not) when the subject matter is too tender to me.....when I am fearful of my own vulnerability so I simply ramble...and ramble....and oh Lord stop me....ramble.

A couple of years ago I walked through a painful season with some work I did as a volunteer. I lost some friends over it....some friendships got stronger in the storm...and others survived like a little safety raft floating along, a little worse for wear, but over time the normal between us returned.

Those seasons always take my breath because I am not truly equipped for chaos and disruption. I was in the wrong line when those skills were handed out. My soul simply shuts down, hides, and suffers through an internal battle of name calling from 'you are stupid' to 'you care too much' and everything in between. My counselor has had their work cut out for them in helping me learn new language for (and with) myself.

All kidding aside, when I say not equipped, I just did not learn those skills - for a lot of reasons - so here I sit at 45 learning stuff the rest of you cats learned in grade school. Yippee! *insert eye roll*


Here is the PSA for today....

Just because you are healing and making tons of progress....those embarrassing times still happen...and they still make you feel like the smallest, stupidest person that ever walked the face of the earth.

BUT....then you share with a friend - HONESTLY - about how you feel...and then you sit here late at night and pour that embarrassment out in a post to your faithful readers who might have had the EXACT same day in their neck of the woods.

Anybody????

Is this thing on????

LOL (laugh or cry)

I don't know if I will ever hear again from those two poor souls who witnessed my verbal meltdown OR if my rambling apologies squelched the damage done to my reputation....BUT I am not sitting here tonight worried about all of that (okay....maybe a little)...

I am sitting here realizing that while growth is hard...it is working. Working! I am learning that while I have been an emotional hot mess for much of my life, I don't have to stay that way. I can learn my triggers, why I do what I do, and even have some empathy for myself. I didn't ramble today because I am stupid; I rambled because I am still hurt over a hard situation that I am not sure I handled well back then....and am not sure I am in a place yet to handle today.

....and that is okay.

Smile, nod, then ignore those who want you to stay the same. “Growth is the only evidence of life.” John Henry Newman
 
There are probably hundreds of people that I owe apologies to....people that I hurt because I was hurt or I hurt because I didn't know any better or I simply hurt because broken people hurt people.

The truth is that I have been broken a lot longer than I have been whole (healing), and Lord willing I am going to end this life having reversed that.
 
So....as we end this week tomorrow, I would just ask that you give yourself some grace....for all the things you know you did wrong....and maybe even more for those things you simply believe you did wrong.
 
Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean ALL the times) we are harder on ourselves than anyone else ever would be....even at THEIR worst.
 
Maybe tomorrow don't worry about giving others grace.....maybe simply start with giving yourself grace....because...
 
A good man says good things. These come from the good that is stored up in his heart. An evil man says evil things. These come from the evil that is stored up in his heart. A person’s mouth says everything that is in their heart.
Luke 6:45 
 
This truth of this verse pierces my heart...

If Luke were sitting on my bed in front of me right now, I would tell him #micdrop (shrugging my shoulders)...I really would...

I am learning to love this hot mess of a heart of mine. Bless it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Only One Man Changes Everything

Walking in Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle....water into wine. This path...

I have to be honest.

I have mixed emotions about tomorrow. I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum and the truth is none of them appear happy. Then there is the rest...blissfully indifferent.

Then there is me.

....and the, I am sure, thousands upon thousands like me.

We are uncomfortable, but we have faith in something....more.

Tonight I couldn't help but watch some of the C-SPAN coverage from the past few days of hearings and the like...and suddenly I am laughing. It is all just....RIDICULOUS. Really, truly ridiculous.

Our country is being run by children with no respect for themselves or anyone else....and you simply must laugh....or you will cry.

Speaking of which....

I cried a lot today. A. Lot.

There are some people in my sphere for which drama is LIFE for them....like water...or breathing. I hate them. Not like the I dislike them and I hate their actions, but I really HATE them. For which I am upset with myself because I don't want to hate anybody....yet this week I have had a lot of HATE bubble up and I am realizing tonight that I might be mixing some of my emotions across people, space, and time.

...because that is what we do...

Under. Stress.

or in my case....

Anxiety.

The four letter word I learned to loathe in 2016.

Anxiety has reared up in a very ugly way this week - disrupting my counseling session, my sleep, and today anxiety nearly took me out...to the point I hid out in our firm's bathroom so I could catch my breath and double down on my requests for the Holy Spirit to watch over me, my business partner, and our firm. I was so angry I was nearly comatose. Do you ever get that way? There are stages of anger for me....and the worst is when I go silent. Let me be clear, that is a sane person's sign to run. Fast. I can count on both hands minus fingers how many times I have gotten in that head space in my 45 years of breath. No lie - I scare me when I go there.

So today in the midst of my comatose state, in walks one of my dearest friends to surprise me with a hug, a smile, and a gift. After a quick exchange of hugs and somewhat inaudible words, she left and I sank in the chair in my office and opened a card she had also brought....and then I wept. Like a small child. Similar to what I am doing now. Just buckets.

....because the cure for anxiety is vulnerability acknowledged with an offering of kindness from another.

So back to C-SPAN...no single man or woman in power changes the things that matter most to me. The only man who has the power to change me and my life in any way that matters is Jesus. Period. Full stop.

Only one man changes everything.

So....I am sitting here tonight watching others lose their minds across social media while I try and process through this past week with all of its anxiety-inducing lessons...I can hear God whisper, "Only Me." followed by some Sinatra-sounding voice of "It is just you and me kid..." and then I lose it again...because I need to let him into these places that need healing...places where the hate has been "screwed, blued, and tattooed" before being buried 12 feet under.

People hurt us. That is a part of life.

Now I need to learn how to let it go....because until I do...they just keep hurting me again and again and again. No matter how many years it has been or how old I am or how much I read my Bible or pray or beg for the grace to forgive.....until I grieve it and let God have it, those wounds and/or those people have me in an emotional stronghold (I was thinking of different verbiage....but edited myself a bit there). I am tired of being held hostage.

Only one man changes everything.

I can get sidetracked by all the drama in this world - real, imagined, and created - OR I can keep my eyes forward or up, palms up or hands lifted - whether in the car or on the floor or hiding out in the bathroom or in bed in the middle of the night when a nightmare jerks me awake - I simply need to LOOK. UP.

Look. Up.

Only one man changes everything.

...in the words of that old hymn...

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
Only one man changes everything. Jesus.

Footnote: I get it. Truly. You are reading this as an over-simplification by me of our political environment, the life and death decisions at the hands of both parties, and on and on. I hear you. I respect you. I get it. MY reality though is one where I have seen and lived through enough to know that eight years ago the earth did not stop rotating on its axis when a Democrat held the White House and it won't with a Republican. What matters to me, you, and the other few million of people on this planet...what matters dare I say MORE...is how we treat each other IRL in our every day lives. What am I offering up to those I love, to strangers, to whoever, whenever, and wherever?!?!  My story is about how I can get healthy so that what I have to offer of myself is more than me slamming my brokenness onto every person I meet. The only person who can heal me is Jesus. Full stop. Disclaimer....he is engaging a few IRL angels in the work too. ;) So please read this as MY story - not THE story. I appreciate your compassion as I walk this out.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Flying Away

I'm flying to Chicago this afternoon for a couple of days sabbatical via my counselor's stern and direct orders.

#longstory

...but Heather is losing it a little....that said, my dear C7 friend Sherri was gracious enough to take me in and love on me for a few days to resuscitate my grieving heart that is buckling a bit under so much healing/grieving this past nine months of counseling...so much pending in 2017...and some people in my professional life that I continue to struggle with emotional boundaries with (so basically my heart is being crushed daily).

As I said to the C7 this morning, I need this sabbatical like an alcoholic needs alcohol....or any addiction for that matter.

Desperately.

So...of course we get our first snow of the winter season overnight here in Arkansas. Our offices are closed with some stragglers in and out so with my day jacked up TOTALLY....I was at the airport 2 1/2 hours early because 1) that is who I am (I overheard my business partner tell his daughter today as they drove me to said airport), and 2) I am going to Chicago; got it?!?!?

LOL

Me. A funny hat. My laptop.  - Writing @ Airport

So...I am sitting here at the airport having just finished all the work I brought with me and I am staring out the window so very hopeful for these days away. I have been strong for as long as I can. My give a damn is busted. I am wilting under the stress and strain of my life.

In the past four years, I have "run away" like this exactly zero times. ZERO. This is a new act of bravery for me....simply running away for a bit to get rested and restored for the next rounds of battle. I would not have done it if my counselor had not been so firm, so for that I am grateful.

There is a song called Take Heart by Hillsong United - check it out HERE. Some of you might remember my addiction to that song that grew out of my Haiti trip in January 2014 when I ended up (due to weather) in a rental car with two people I did not know driving to Dallas throughout the night so we could all make our first flights out. This song came on during the drive and I ended up hearing it on repeat that entire trip like an anthem.

I used to have a Haiti playlist on my iPod of all the songs that had hit me like that and during one of the many iPhone "patches" my playlists got zapped. Ugh.

I digress.

As I started writing this post, I felt this song on my heart so even as I type here at this little table in the airport next to a frost covered window, it is blasting in my ears. Oh these words.
 
"...So take heart
Let His love lead us through the night
Hold on to hope
And take courage again..."

Who else needs those words washing over them today???

I need to "take courage again" for the next leg of my journey. Faking courage is no longer working for me. At. All. I need that immersion...like the Jordan River...where I can feel the Holy Spirit so full inside of me that it is oozing out my pores. I need THAT. Today. Again. I need restoration.

My counselor says I need to grieve and let go of some stuff in order to make room.

I believe them.

About 3:30 in the song, it starts this refrain that is so powerful. You simply nearly weep listening to it. I encourage you to do so...even with that disclaimer.

Sorry...digression. This song takes me somewhere...else.

I think it is hard for a lot of us to raise our hand and admit that we need to step away for a hot minute and collect ourselves. I hope this gives you hope and strength to do just that if you too are here on the edge of falling over.

I am grateful for many many things but in this moment I am most grateful to a God who is guiding my path even where I do NOT want to follow....and for friends that step into the gap when called and say, "Come. Let me be your safe space to meltdown." #bless

The humor in some of this is that I left the hot mess of my business. The hot mess of my home (grateful no one can see it). The hot mess of "projects" with deadlines that have zoomed by me....and I am SO uncomfortable in the leaving, but what is a girl to do?!?!

I have to go.

I have to fly.

Take heart. God is right here in this scary hot mess you find yourself in....and if you listen, he is whispering to you love and wisdom. You alone can act on it.

Be brave. Fly away.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31