Sunday, June 21, 2015

I Am Okay (& So Are You)

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am okay. I just had my first genuine smile in two days.

*Deep Sigh*

First a disclaimer....I wish I wasn't hotwired as I am. It troubles me (not just you) that I take on the happenings and struggles around me as if they are my own. It troubles me too when my mind spins out, and I have little to no control over my thoughts. It troubles me too when the tears come from deep caverns inside my soul out of nowhere and for no apparent reason. It troubles me too when I feel myself shutting down as I turn my phone off, lock my door, turn all messages on do not disturb, dim the lights, light a candle, and curl up under a quilt. It troubles me too when even words with God become strained and inaudible. It troubles me too when I can't write, color, read, or even watch a movie because everything hurts, illicits pain of some sort. It troubles me too when Gail works on my weary muscles and I hurt worse after than before because every nerve ending is tender and on fire, and I end up contorted for hours afterwards in pain as her magic slowly works its way through my muscles. It troubles me too that even after learning and studying more about what makes me tick, that I cannot control any of this OR even predict it. It troubles me too.

I want to type that this has been a hard few weeks, but since I seem to be typing those same words EVERY week maybe I should try a new approach...clearly I am in a season that I am just now recognizing. I don't have a cute name for it (YET!). I don't know when it really started or nary a clue when it will end. I do know that it feels more brutal than any I have experienced thus far, and I am a little thrown by that as I have had some real doosies this past several years. A girl kinda wants to raise her hands and ask, "More God?! Really?!?!?!"

What I am hoping to document here today is a touchstone so that as periods come again (that look and feel like the past few days), I will recognize them and relax into them because at the end of the day....I am okay.

First, I need to remember that I am a child of God and no matter how far out of sorts my heart, mind, body, and soul feel...he is right there beside me and in it until the end.

Second, stop fighting it. I am a problem solver by day and therefore feel an intense need to be one by night. Have a problem, let Heather fix it. I like that. Hell, I love that. It is my thing. I have to face it, when I am in that "space" (lets call it a space until I can find something prettier to call it), I can't fix it. No. Matter. What. I need to simply let myself feel all of the feelings. All. The. FEELINGS. It is okay, and I will be okay.

Third, I am not a bad person because I need to be away from people for a few hours, days. I need to get over all of the GUILT I feel over it. Those who know and love me, will understand. Those who don't, what do I care?!

Fourth, some people might call what I go into a depression, it isn't, though it carries a lot of the characteristics, but who cares if they do?! I don't. I did, but now I don't. If I am or it is, I have excellent company as a lot of great hearts and minds struggle with depression in various forms. I am not ashamed that I feel depressed when the world feels heavy around me, I would be more worried if I did not as this world is hard and broken....you would have to be heartless to not internalize some/any of it.

Fifth, this is not a statement on my family, friends, or tribe as I was prone to believe for far too long. It doesn't matter if you have a great family or a dysfunctional one. Many friends or one. A faithful tribe or none. You are hotwired as you are from birth, fired like steel by your environment, and pounded like the waves by the ebbs and flows of life. The only person who can control you is YOU and God...and let me just state here that the fact that I still am challenged (and will probably be to some degree the remainder of my life) does not in any way diminish me or my God. In fact, the truth is that it is because of God's good and faithful work in me and frankly, my allowance of such work, that I am able to write about this here today. That the "spaces" last only a day or days and not longer. God is faithful to me and is teaching me more and more about who I am and how I work....and all of that helps. God has done a good work in me, and I am eternally grateful. I once believed the lies that I just felt too much and something was wrong with me, and slowly I am learning to love my oversized heart, my deep thoughts (from a shallow mind...LOL), and my BIG feelings about everything from a Hallmark ad to Haiti to an employee who is struggling....because to me it ALL matters.

Sixth, Jesus loves me. God made me. The Holy Spirit "gets" me. In the end, the trinity is all I ever really need. There is a lot of hope and peace in that for me.

Seventh, joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30 promises us that. I trust in that. I live that. I can testify to it as it happened to me...again...this morning.

@sunshinedreamstoyou

So how do I know I am okay...because last night when I could barely move due to back pain and was still completely in the midst of the "space" that I had occupied for a couple of days, I went searching for good words. I have a Pinterest board entitled Faith Begins & Ends w/My ❤️, and I have learned to go scroll through it when I feel this way...and last night I saved a few of them knowing that while there was no overt JOY in the moment then, I had faith that there would be...tomorrow or soon. One of the ones I saw, read, and saved (IN FAITH) to my phone last night was this one...


...and there you have it. Because the morning did bring me word of his unfailing love. My back pain was eased. I felt touches of joy. I knew the veil was lifting.

The Bible teaches us that David was a "man after God's own heart" so even though Psalms has some of the most wretched lines cross-stitched in with the most breathtakingly beautiful ones. Even though David wrestled with himself and God on a regular basis. Even though David sinned TREMENDOUSLY. Even though...God loved him. God. Loved. Him. God restored David and David loved God....with his whole, messed up, deeply flawed, slightly erratic (am I still talking about David) heart.

What does David's relationship with God teach us about our own? What does it teach me about my own?

David is a gift to me. David's words and laments and praises feel familiar and raw and honest in the face of a world that shocks me...Every. Day. A world that hurts me. Shames me. Wrecks me. Tortures my heart. David's words are a balm to my weary soul that still questions my own worthiness to a God that gave all. To a world that doesn't wholly know him. To this broken person who meets broken people in a broken world...Every. Day. A person who dreams of loving others as she has been loved by Christ. A person who fails LARGE daily. A person who loves too much. A person who feels too much. A person who finds beauty in the growth right alongside the pain in it.

God loves me. This I know.

There is a beautiful song entitled In Over My Head (Crash Over Me) by Jenn Johnson/Bethel Music, and I have provided the link {in the song title} to the video with lyrics so that you can sit somewhere quiet and let the words wash over you and deep within your soul. I want to be clear that even in the midst of a season or "space" that I play music (like this) that I am trusting is speaking to a deep place inside of me even when I am feeling NOTHING of it on the surface. This, THIS, is one of those songs. The words...PERFECTION. I think, I know, that one of my biggest challenges in life, in my walk with Christ, in my walk through this world with others...is my need for control. It is the space deep inside of me where the enemy, to be frank, has me by the proverbial nuts. To say that I am better today would be the understatement of the century, but in that same vein I must acknowledge that the wound where it originated, this need for control, is so deep and rooted that it will not and cannot be dislodged over the course of a spiritual season. It will remain my Achilles' heel for the foreseeable future. To acknowledge that, is another forward motion in growth; I am truly grateful for it too. I do know that I will conquer it as God has promised as much, as I promised him that I would continue to hit my knees and repent when I felt it coming on...again and again. ;) #bless

So....where do we/I go from here?

First, I am okay. Second, I am troubled too when THIS washes over me. Third, I feel the lessons that God is teaching me in these challenging spaces and seasons that he is seeing me through...like the good parent he is. Fourth, while I reside in a broken world, I am loved by a perfect father, and my faith is solely in him...and only him. Fifth, I know that in all of this, he is birthing a unique voice in me. I have resisted it for so long, I feel now I could/should have predicted the painful birthing process for it.

Bottom line...I am not going to be fully satisfied this side of heaven {neither will you}

...and that is okay. I am okay. {You are okay.}

God...come do whatever you want to...I am yours....as I dive into the wave that is crashing over me...Today. Tomorrow. And every day after that...this side of heaven. Amen.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Gift of Romans 5


So what does that really mean for me? for you?
 
I am wrestling with Romans 5 this morning. Hell, who are we kidding?! I am just wrestling.
 
I dream for a day when the wrestling will stop, but deep in my heart I know that day will arrive soon enough and it will be my first day in heaven...and it will be glorious. Until then, I am walking this earth, this broken world, full of broken people, inside this broken person...Wrestling. With God.
 
On a morning where you are having tough conversations with people about stuff like race, justice, giving, etc., Romans 5 can wreck you and your heart. We "rejoice in our suffering"??? Ummm...not there yet...not there on most days...during most trials.
 
We throw around words like justice and grace and reconciliation, but what do any of us really know about any of those things? Truly?
 
I am asking.
 
I am asking because I am naïve on these topics. Have I read a lot and asked a lot of questions and listened? Yes, yes, and yes. But do I know? Know?? I do not. I am just learning to understand the depths of the issues that plague or nation and our world. I am just beginning to grasp that one article, great idea, or good person is limited on the impact it can make in these causes. I am just beginning to understand the pain.
 
I still find myself wanting to be understood as I wrestle with these topics....and I hear God whisper, "Seek first to understand..." and the tears burn on my face. I am selfish. I don't understand, and I don't feel understood. "Keep going." he encourages.
 
See, for me, justice and reconciliation is forcing me to comprehend my own salvation through Christ on a deeper level, and let me just say it is unpleasant, at best, and horrifically terrifying at it's worst.
 
Today, I actually heard him whisper, "You still don't understand how much I love you." and I don't.
 
*Ugly Crying*
 
In the past two weeks, I have used the phrase twice that you have to understand the darkness of hell to fully appreciate the grace of heaven. I believe that...more and more every day. I believe that because I see/feel God showing me my own darkness and how destructive it has been and continues to be in my life...and on the flip side how much he loves me...how much he believes in me...the depth of his grace that he offers me...well, it is opening my heart.
 
I struggle with my own prejudices towards others and those towards me. I struggle to reconcile what is true about me versus what I have been told is true about me (i.e., what I believed was true about me).
 
So what can I learn about reconciliation (in all forms) through my own reconciliation with Christ? Well, to be frank...a lot. God and I have had a relationship since I was 13...he has known me my whole life...and certainly our relationship has deepened over the past several years, but in all of that do I really comprehend the reconciliation that is mine with God through Christ Jesus? I am ashamed to say I do not.
 
So....if that is true, than the rest of the story is that I don't fully understand reconciliation in the world's sense whether we are talking about race, warring nations, women's rights, generational poverty, etc.
 
...and with that last sentence, I felt another shackle fall from my shoulders.
 
A shackle of defensiveness and expectation that I am supposed to "get this" or "know this" because I am not.
 
Whoa.
 
These are tough times to live on this planet. There is so much good, but there is also so much bad. There is so much to do, but then there are the needs of my one little family or community or business. It is hard and overwhelming at times to know what to work on. I feel like I am caring too much and doing too little. The desire to crawl in bed and stick my head under the covers...for forever...crosses my mind more than I am comfortable admitting to. In the age of social media and 24/7 news, I/we are inundated with information and thoughts and opinions and perspectives and pain...and sometimes it is simply TOO much. Too. Much.
 
This morning, God took me to Romans 5 like the gift-giver he is and said, read this...remember this...remember me...remember you and me....remember the work we are doing in you...in your heart??? Any of this ringing a bell? I am smiling as I type the last part, but the truth is that God sasses me sometimes, and I deserve every bit of it.
 
I have BIG feelings. I love BIG. I have a deep desire to learn and do better...be better. Sometimes I get overwhelmed...my heart gets overwhelmed. Sometimes God has to bring me back to center and remind that at the end of the day, it is about me and him...and if I will just focus on that...focus on him...the rest of it...well, it tends to fall into place more easily, make more sense, and bless my heart...I find some perspective.
 
Yikes!
 
If we are "helping" the world and not going to God as our fuel source, we are going to end up weary and dry. Sometimes it is simply asking him, "God where are you in THIS?" and waiting for him to answer...because he is in THIS. He is all of this. He is with us. He is with me.
 
There is this amazing song on Hillsong United's new album Empires called "Here Now (Madness)" (click link for You Tube video). Last night driving to the airport to surprise my nephews, it came on, and I suddenly started crying. It was coming from a deep place (you know those tears), and I asked God what is this? Something new that I have to give up to him...and I suddenly remembered the prayer at the end of Chapter 2 in Tozer's book (see photo below).
  
 
 
"...I come trembling, but I do come." and "...Thou mayest enter and dwell...without a rival." Wow.
 
I do come God. I do. Trembling from head to foot. Broken. Eager. Earnest. Hopeful. Thank you for reminding me that you are here. You are here now. It makes no sense, but this is grace. This is YOUR grace. Let me lay face down at your feet and drink again from its goodness. I forget that it is there for me. I forget how great and deep my own need. I simply forget. Wash over me. Once again.
 
What do you need to give up? What is God asking of you that you are resisting? I feel him challenging me in deep and new places. Is he challenging you too? Please share. It is important for us to be a tribe here...to encourage each other. Growth sucks. No doubt. It is also the door to greater joy. Greater love.
 
Here now. Let us hear him. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

God, Tribe & Pinterest - The Trifecta for Renewed Dreams

In the past three weeks, I have gravitated between panic and elation as I had some stark realizations about my future. I am surrounded and counseled by people MUCH smarter than myself on top of which I have been gifted a tribe of people who speak real truth into me with TONS of love...truth that is both beautiful and hard.
 
The concept of tribe is real people. Get one. Find one. Cultivate one. Game. Changer.
 
I digress.
 
Earlier this week I finally just came unwound with one of my tribe about the panic and elation I was feeling and how I felt like it was suffocating me, and she proceeded to tell me about this concept she had been studying....how humans are always what if this or that but mostly worrying and thinking only the worst...what if we converted that to what if God provides this or opens this door? The idea is why are we giving all of this what if power to the devil instead of to God? Why do we believe the bad before the good? The worst before the best?
 
Well.....
 
The concept has proceeded to BLOW. My. Mind.
 
So since that conversation a handful of days ago, I have spent the hours that I can't sleep (UGH! Insomnia!) playing the what if game with God. When the days have gotten hard at work, I have found myself daydreaming. This morning, as I sat in bed with a cup of coffee at 6 a.m. (on a Saturday for the love...why can't I sleep???), worrying about stuff that happened last week and what is coming up next week...suddenly I went out to Pinterest (I gravitated there last night to create some new boards ;)) and started dreaming again...What if God?
 
It is the most amazing thing!!!
 
Then it hit me, I had stopped dreaming.
 
*Deep Sigh*
 
I mean deep dreams....not the dreams like I hope the company hits $ this year...or I hope the cabin sells...or I hope my doctor check-up goes well this time...or I hope I finish this purge goal by the end of the year....or I hope I get my to do list done today/week/month/quarter/year....
 
Dreams!


I cannot stop laughing and crying typing this out.
 
Dear Lord, how long have I been dead inside?
 
Thank you Pinterest.
 
In the age of Pinterest, you can create boards and pin ideas and likes and loves and dream electronically and go back to it and learn about stuff you once loved or have never loved before or just see what is possible out there...in the big, BIG world.
 
I don't think my happiness in this moment is as much about any one particular new/old dream, as much as it is simply the fact that something deep inside of me is being unearthed...something old, something new....an idea that there is a moment in my future where and when a door will open, and I can do ANYTHING. God will be there as the ultimate wing man, and there is going to be an adventure. The one I always dreamed I would have, but life with all of its responsibilities and bills and brokenness and ick got in the way.
 
What if God...?
 
I am not a very good blogger because I don't challenge people or engage people the way I hear/read that I "should" with this format, but today...I am. I beg of you if you are reading this to ask yourself, "What if God provided this? Gave me this? Opened this door? Showed me this? Healed this? Fixed this? What. If.???
 
Give your heart permission to dream again. The deep, good stuff.
 
God is waiting for you there. Right. There.
 
For help with this concept, check out this book...Living from the Unseen by Wendy Backlund paying particular attention to the chapter "Fix Your Eye" which starts with 2 Corinthians 4:18 "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
 
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Day I Found My Life

Hillsong United's latest album Empires dropped today. Do yourself a huge favor...buy it....Now.
 
I had pre-ordered so I woke up to an alert this morning on my phone saying it had been downloaded to my phone. Fist bump to God; thank you.
 
So I spent six hours of windshield time today listening to this album...over...and over...and over. The only song I had heard was "Touch the Sky" and it remains my favorite on the album (so far) along with a song entitled "Here Now (Madness)" which is just breathtaking.
 
I digress...
 
If you have been reading my blog lately you know that I have had a bit of a writing slump the past couple of weeks due to some wrestling happening between me and God which is most definitely a result of some work he is doing in me. The catalyst was a dinner a couple of weeks ago that basically set a timer on something in my life that I was not equipped for....I will write more about that later.

 
The main point of this post is to say that we can't shy away from the work that God is doing in our lives. Good, deep, precious work. I had a six hour conversation with a young woman this past weekend, and I was stunned again at how the young believe that a Christian walk is a cake walk or should be or they must be doing it wrong if it isn't?!?! That is a lie. The same one that I bought into at that age (and for two decades after that), and it has to stop. I was driving home tonight talking with one of my tribe and we were just speaking deep truths into each other...the battles we are in spiritually....the lies we are rebuking....the promises we are learning to believe...and the whole thing top to bottom, the full breadth and depth of our conversation was just so dang HOPEFUL. Thank you GOD!
 
That hope-filled coversation literally drove me home.
 
When we hung up the phone, "Touch the Sky" started playing as I was running to the bathroom and before I could get my hands dry, I was racing to my laptop placing the song on repeat....because of one line..."...I found my life...when I laid it down..." and the tears and laughter that erupted simultaneously from me....
 
Let me be the first to admit...the past four years have been BRUTAL. When I share the beginnings of my story from four years ago, it starts with the day I hit my knees and then laid flat out on the floor...for a long, long time. So when you hear the line, "I touched the sky when my knees hit the ground," let me be clear...I only can witness in hindsight that I did exactly that on that Sunday afternoon. Sometimes we have to lose our life to find it, and the finding doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. God heals you and reveals to you in the days and years, in the seconds and hours...in his time. He is healing me today...this instance....with the words and truths he sends to me via others. Truths that show me who he is, how he sees me, my purpose, and yes even work we have left to do together.
 
The past two weeks I have just limped along emotionally and physically unraveled by a simple truth that I am on the cusp of living without a plan...and then that there are promises being revealed to me that are REAL....and that strongholds in my life of doubt, my lack of value, shame, etc. are being not broken, but oblitherated.
 
If God is real, then what???
 
The question that has haunts me (in a good way) is still being asked and answered as I lean into a deeper healing than I have ever known. I am 44 years old, and the truth is that I have never, ever, EVER been this healthy - emotionally (or frankly physically). My relationship with God that remains a work-in-process has never been more secure, and I say that humbly as he and I just completed a tiny drought where we didn't talk for several days.....I say that because I recognize and acknowledge him as 100% soverieign in my life. Period. My goal is to operate my life with God as 100% soverign, and that is quite the task. I am just humbled and grateful to be at a place where I can be raw with him, and frankly others, about it. There are more days than not where I question my value, if I am making any progress....but the days where he gives me confirmation that I am on the right path are getting more and more frequent.
 
The truth is that I really didn't have a life four years ago. I didn't know who I really was or what I really wanted or what I needed...I was a mess. The best thing God ever did was allowing the rug to be yanked out from under me....the truth is I might never have dropped to my knees on my own; I was pretty good as a half-ass Christian. Today...I don't recognize this life of mine on most days...some days (like one that happened this weekend) shock me so that it takes another whole day to recover and wrap my head around it...and then God sends me an angel (like yesterday morning) who holds my hand and says, "I have never (in over 20 years) seen you like this...Amazing." and it is like a kiss from God on my cheek to say, "See baby girl...you are okay...it is okay...we are doing good work...I have you. I. Have. You. Keep going." and I do...somehow, I just keep going...trusting...in a God I can't see, but that I feel all around me, in me...loving me.
 
The truth is the song is right..."...I found my life the day I laid it down..." and I am simply never going to be the same....and the work continues....and it is hard....and it is worth it. I wouldn't give up the work of my heart and soul for anything...I told someone this weekend, if your relationship with God is off...everything else in your life is going to be a mess. That was certainly true for me, and every day now is about the work of nurturing that relationship with the God who made me, who saved me, and who resides in me. I found my life when I finally laid it at his feet.
 
The real mystery lies though in the not knowing how my life will unravel...
 
Life without a plan. Who knew?!?!?!

A book my friend read passages from...to me...while I drove home tonight. Check it out. Good. Stuff.
 
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Time To Fight...For Love


I got tired.

As I am prone to do, I committed to a LOT of stuff including three weeks straight of consecutive travel. Yikes! Though I wouldn't trade any of the experiences for anything in the world, I was reminded these past two weeks home that when I do stuff like that...there are repercussions.

The past two weeks back in the office have been brutal. First, there was a pile of messages, e-mails (yes! even when you check them constantly daily from the road), mail, reports, to dos, employees that needed some face time with the boss (read that as mommy), follow-up from the travels, and the list goes on.

There were the piles at home...luggage to unpack from four different adventures, laundry, mail to go through, bills to pay, a refrigerator to clean out (nothing left in there worth anything), grocery store, errands, a new home that is still being organized, oh and don't forget the continuing saga of my three year purge that confronts me head-on every time I open my front door. Yikes!

So for the past two weeks I have begrudgingly gone into the office every day in full-on survival mode to make it through the daily barrage of whatever fire exploded that day. I would come home at night (most after 8 p.m.) and proceed to pass out. Cold. Though the sleep nightly was restless (not good). My past two weekends you ask? I played those well - hermit-style - as by the time I made it to Friday night, all I wanted was my PJs, my bed, and Netflix (not necessarily in that order).

I couldn't even write.

*Deep Breath*

I have packed up my laptop every night for two weeks and sat it next to me on the couch or in bed and gravitated between staring at it blankly and averting my eyes from it in shame. I had nothing or too much. Who knows? Who can tell?

I have watched an obscene amount of Jane Austin type films and BBC re-makes. Let me just say that at some point that stuff messes with your head. I have seen at least two seasons of Friends which has perfectly satisfied any lingering doubt that I am getting old. Thanks Netflix! I have caught up on all three of the shows I care anything about two of which are officially over this season so my television-obsessed hours continue to dwindle (that is a good thing). I have read more articles (not books) than I can list...I seem to be on Inc. and Entrepreneur overload, not to mention the blog articles I have been reading. It is like my brain is starved and wants more and more. This all doesn't seem too bad, but it is...because my brain has been overstimulated for 16 hours a day. I know this because it is not my first rodeo, but we lie to ourselves and say this is good stuff we are gorging ourselves on. Yup!, but too much of anything will kill you...even water.

So for the recap....I had three AMAZING weeks of new experiences, learning, travel, friends, work, etc. I crammed them all within the shortest span possible. I came home and compounded my exhaustion by over stimulating myself for a couple of weeks while going about my daily packed routine. I got further behind in my daily chores (read life). That lands me to a three day holiday weekend. Everybody caught up?

Yikes!!!!

Now it is time to fight.

Say what?!?!?!

I could feel it coming on yesterday, but last night sealed it....It is time to hit the brakes and re-group. Enough. I have a LOVELY routine that I developed in January of this year #restorationJanuary that did/was working beautifully. I had a glorious plan. I was implementing that plan. It was working. It is time to whip it back out, dust it off (along with the rest of my home), and get back on it. I am looking at this three day weekend as an opportunity to set the reset button. Sure! I would rather be hanging out with family and friends, going to the lake/river/creek, cooking out, etc., but I would MUCH rather get my daily LIFE back on track so that I can return to being a highly-functioning (oh who are we kidding...a functioning) member of society.

I am a creature of habit. I love routine. I highly dislike dysfunction (the irony of it in my life is laughable...go ahead and laugh heartily here). I like schedules, planners, and to do lists. I like a clean, organized home. I like music, books, and writing...and I need a little bit of all three every day. I like it when God and I are in our conversation zone....meaning I talk while he listens and then I get very quiet (yes it is possible) and my space gets very quiet (read that as no stimuli) and I listen...for him...to instruct me, love me, remind me...of who he is and who I am...in him and him in me. I like breakfast...every day. I like brunch on Sundays. I like need eight hours of sleep. Good sleep. Not the kind of sleep where I fall asleep to Netflix on my phone next to my head (oh good grief I hope confession is good for the soul). I like my Bible to be the first and last thing I read every day (not text messages that tell me of the latest catastrophe in my little world and our big one) or FB posts or the number of e-mails that came in overnight.  I love being present and available to my friends, my family, and my tribe. I love simply being present.

I woke up this morning after the craziest night of dreams EVER because former President Bush (41) at dinner with all of his grandkids in an Alice In Wonderland type house is just about the wackiest experience...and I might need to cut back on the sleep-aid. That said, I woke up determined to reclaim the life and routine of my life that I love so much....that allows me to be present in my life...Every. Day.

I love that people ask me all the time, "How do you do it all?!" I don't. I shuffle stuff. I hideout in my own home to catch up on sleep. I break appointments. I miss appointments. I reschedule appointments. I don't return e-mails/text messages/VMs timely. I let laundry build up meaning sometimes I wear dirty clothes. Dust bunnies take up residence and then reproduce...rapidly...in my home. I forget or simply don't send thank you cards or birthday cards or any kind of cards. I pile up things at my front door that need to be returned, mailed, gifted, donated. I let people down....all the time. I let down myself...all the time. I feel guilty a lot for all of the things I just listed. I am human. It is the hardest thing about me and my life. I am human.

Stop the bus.

So...as I wrote that last part, Lauren Daigle's How Can It Be came on my iPod. (I have imbedded the link to her YouTube video. Enjoy.) The timing of God is perfect, and he certainly gave me this song just now to remind me as I am completely laying out my shame in this post that he has already and continues to plead my cause. Whatever that cause is. Whatever. It. Is.

There has been a lot of great coming together (Ann Voskamp's ISIS post and challenge via Preemptive Love and IF) and great shredding (Duggar Story) amongst just the "Church" not to mention those that view themselves as outside of the Church this week in the media. So I think it is a good reminder for me this morning...as one who tends to "over feel" whatever is happening "out there" in the world, that whatever the highs and lows, whatever the ickyness, whatever the pain...God has already overcome this broken, messy world, and he stands firmly with me, with you, with the person who doesn't even believe in him, with the member of ISIS that is killing people who claim and love God, with the person who sinned 12 years ago, with the person who was sinned against, with the sinner from today, and the one who will sin tomorrow, to the one who appears to never sin (but does as we all do). God stands with and for each of us. Why? Because he loves us. Because he has hope that each of us will turn from hate to love. Because he craves community and conversation with us. My sin of ignoring and putting God in a box for two weeks while I tried to recover from my over-indulgence by myself was and is no greater sin to him than anything else I have done or anyone else has done. I turned from him, if even for a moment, as I tried to "handle" it on my own. Like. An. Idiot. I change ALL the time. Like the wind. My God. Our God NEVER EVER CHANGES. I can run my race and wear myself out and throw myself on the ground in exhaustion, but I am never alone. I am never truly so far outside of God's reach that he cannot restore me. I am struggling with this week. I am nothing if not opinionated. I have LOTS of opinions, but I feel God wrestling deep within me. See this through my eyes. Not yours. *Ouch*

So here in the throws of my own sin against God as I have put him in a box...and yet to fully repent of that I might add...he has used this week of angst in the "world" to teach me, humble me, and help me to break free from the grasp of my own selfish mind to see him...and others more clearly.

"Stay in your own lane pretty girl." - he whispers to me.

Damn. The tears.

There is so much happening in our little lives and in the much bigger world. We...I...cannot operate (read that as function) well in either without the ever-present grace and wisdom of Jesus. Without him, I over-think and over-react to both the big and small stuff. I get caught up in my own head (read that as often my ego). I get lost in the "what might have beens" and "what could be" and forget the blessed beauty in and of the moment. I judge. I. Judge. Myself, others, and yes even God. Forgive me.

This morning I lay it all down at the foot of the cross of Jesus...once again....and I repent...and I stand up...and I fight. I fight for God...however that looks in the moment...whether for myself, others, the underdog, the sinner, or for God himself. I fight for the balance I need in my daily life. I fight for the love I so desperately need to keep in my heart AND in the center of my life. Where there is love, judgment has no breath.

My tribe calls this my "Wonderwoman" bracelet; it was a gift from an artisan in Haiti.

There is a time to catch our breaths. There is a time to fight.

I woke up this morning reminded that my time to fight (again) has come.

Break time is over.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Lost Art of Conversation

My major disclaimer to this post is how much I thoroughly enjoy the Internet and Social Media. I have learned so much...stayed connected to friends and colleagues around the globe. I love it for all of the many wonderful ways it adds to my daily life.

There are ways though that it harms both me and you...Every. Day.

We have lost the art of conversation. The art of debate. The art of dialogue. The art of disagreement. We have the lost the ability to have conversations that amount to much more than 140 characters. I know this because I see it every day. I see it in my employees. I see it in my peer group. I see it in my family and friends. Mostly I see it in myself. As one who ADORES the art of conversation, I struggle with it...and more now than I once did. Hmmmm.....

I don't want social media to go away, and what a naïve thought that is anyway....but, BUT I do want to see more of us...and that starts with me....working harder at conversation in our lives. Conversation means face-to-face dialogue. What it doesn't mean is e-mail, IM, texts, VMs, Twitter, PMs on any number of social media....it means talking...with a human. In person. It also means discussing tough stuff. Stop focusing on the easy, glossy, pretty, non-confrontational stuff. Dig in. Like our grandparents did....remember them?? I cannot imagine my Pa Pa condensing all of his stories and lessons into a text.

There has been a lot going on in the world this week - the big one and the small one in my backyard. I have watched people I know obliterate each other via social media. To the point that I was crying. A friend messaged me this morning about someone we knew and if they were okay because of a post they had done, and I said, "Well it is probably the headline last night. Go on Twitter and type this and you will see people we know (famous and non-famous) in a war. It was pretty brutal." I went on to mention one feed in particular and noted, "Their feed feels like when my parents became the first couple to divorce in our church/world...and I was this scared 9-10 year old in the corner wondering why my friends wouldn't sit with me in church anymore. I mean. BRUTAL."

...and that is when I had an a-ha moment.

WTH?!?!

What are we doing to each other in the name of the church? In the name of Jesus?

I forgive. I am forgiven.

I work to not judge. I do not want to be judge.

Beyond that...there is discussion for the betterment of both sides, and there is the throwing of gasoline on an out of control fire.

Which am I?

I can remember not to long ago...probably yesterday...when I threw gas on the fire...First. Bless. Me.

I can't/won't/work very very hard NOT to be that person anymore. I have been the one caught in the inferno. It is painful.

Before you post...anywhere.

Before you say anything...anywhere.

Think.

Would you say it to the person you are talking about if they were sitting with you in the coffee shop? Would you say it in that tone? Would you say it at all?

I am praying and giving money and sharing information about what ISIS is doing to Christians on the other side of the world...Every. Day. You know what else I am doing?? Praying for ISIS every day that they will becoming convicted in their heart one-by-one and cease the brutality.

Why?

Because of Romans 5.

"...For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; [d]though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified [e]by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [f]by His life. 11 And not only this, [g]but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation...."

See...God didn't die for my righteous behind.

He died for me...the SINNER. He died for the UNGODLY.

So while we are all weeping for victims and persecutors, lives scarred, survivors, and even as some are being forced to re-live any number of sins done against them in the past or done by them in the past...we are all weeping...somewhere...inside or outside. We are weeping. It manifests itself in anger or depression or yes, even OUTRAGEOUS posts on social media. We are broken people operating in a broken world and this part SUCKS.

So....here is my challenge...to myself and to you.

Call someone up that you haven't spoken with in awhile who maybe you don't always see eye-to-eye on things with and invite them to coffee/tea or lunch or dinner or something...meet them, hug them, have a conversation with them. Love them. Let them love you. Show your humanity with each other.

If we all would simply tear off the boxing gloves and be HUMAN with each other...we would be a better people on this beautiful planet made for us by a loving God who died for US...God who even in our brokenness HE whispers to us...after every single failure big and small, "...stand up...try again."

To all of those crippled by the news of this past week, whatever news crippled you, whatever side you are on...I am praying for your spirit. I am praying that you can hear God whisper...stand up, try again.



We are all...ALL...walking each other home.

I think it is time for us all (me first!) to remember that....

Blessings for a beautiful holiday weekend full of deep conversation with family, friends, and strangers.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What You'll Need...


I saw this photo on Instagram earlier this week, and all I can think now is...I should have known.
 
I should have known that there was a reason my eyes hung on it a little longer than normal. I should have known there was a reason I took a quick photo of it with my phone. I simply should have known.
 
Maybe everyone else learned this little nugget and never forgot it, but we need other people.
 
I think the hardest adjustment I have had to make on this journey of the past few years is the fact that I had to lose people in order to learn how much I needed people. Who the heck knew?!?!
 
God.
 
Wednesday night I might have had a teensy, weensy meltdown. It was around 8:30 p.m. I had just arrived home from one of the hardest days we have had in awhile coupled by a long, albeit important, business meeting that went past 8. It was a full, hard day. That wasn't the cause of the meltdown though...my sudden realization that the journey I had been on for about three years would have an end date and then what? It was if for the first time in three years, I was clearheaded enough to realize that this "season" would not go on forever and that at the end of this season there was no plan...no expectations...no big next thing. I. Freaked. Out. I mean...lost my sh*t.
 
I was smart enough to curl up and simply go God what the heck? Which reminds me of this great song I am becoming addicted to called "First" by Lauren Daigle which is such a great reminder of my desire to go to God first. That said, I must have been in quite the state because God did not take long to make my phone ring with an old friend on the other end. A friend who let God speak through them and right into the caverns of my lost mind, completely pulling me back to my heart. It took two hours. TWO.
 
The even more beautiful part is how they took me back over 20 years and literally spoke truths into the timeline of my adult life revealing where God had me and I will never forget these words, "Heather stand still and let the truth of who you are and your destiny wash over you. This has always been. Step into it." Whoa.
 
Let me tell you what you will need in this day-by-day journey called life...a Truthteller.
 
The enemy HATES us; therefore, we must LOVE each other even more fiercely.
 
I can't say it any more plainly than that.
 
The day after my cry for help, I met a friend for lunch and they needed a little truthtelling. I could not help but smile and tell them about the night before and said, "Let me repay the favor and remind you who you are in God." I am not sure if it was lunch or church, but it was a gift for us both. Great friends. True friends. Your tribe is like that. Just. Like. That.
 
To live wholeheartedly is the hardest thing...TRULY...but I have never felt more known by so many...by anyone...as I am now, and I would not trade the experience of being truly known for all the money or success or this or that. It is the very BEST feeling ever.
 
Surround yourself with the things you love, but don't forget to take your tribe with you wherever you go. You need them. You need to let God use them in your life.


Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)