Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Earth Still Spins & Other Lessons

I am playing hooky. On a weekday. In the middle of the afternoon.

Just when EXACTLY did hell freeze over???


So not only has January been a month of restoration, but it has also been one of trying new things. Taking a few risks (maybe a lot of risks).

One of the many things I have learned about entrepreneurship these past two years is that it IS possible for me to work even harder than I did in corporate...AND I have even more to lose. So that beast of not taking care of myself, people-pleasing, don't know how to say the word N-O, and other horrifically bad habits that I have spent 43 years of accumulating...well, they are still present...and still bad.

My business partner and I sat down at the very end/very beginning of this new year and had a really HARD discussion about taking care of ourselves, each other, and our little firm that could. We discussed what it had taken out of us to get to this point, and were brutally honest with each other what we believed it would take to get us to the goals we had for 2015. Then the negotiation began. I am older so of course I am wiser (HA!), but seriously what I do have is years of making bad choices to glean good best practices from and most importantly....a lot of the what not to do. It was difficult even for two self-aware workaholics to admit that we were risking our health and personal relationships to continue to work like we had been...something had to give.

I am not going to dive into all of the nitty gritty here, but what I will share is our commitment to each other to take an early day. Whew! It is even hard to type. How utterly RIDICULOUS is that?!?!

So we each take a different day each week to leave mid-afternoon and be gone. Like MIA gone. He to spend time with his kids, go for a bike ride, hit the gym...and me...well I am still figuring out what I want to do with mine...this is only the second one (last week's was a BUST!) and I am sitting out on a patio writing behind dark sunglasses feeling like I just broke out of jail. I might be having some issues. :))))

It is precious time for us to gain perspective on our lives, go grab coffee with a friend, do something for others, or do something for ourselves. The main thing is that it allows us time from behind our desk, conference tables, or endless meetings and calls....to simply be us.


Who am I?

That question from Catalyst last October is still stuck in my head. Who am I? Who am I without work? Without my planner/calendar? Without my business card? My social media updates? My people? My tribe? Who. Am. I.???

Let me tell you something...I haven't a clue...not really...but I have part of one. ;) I know a lot more now as I end this month of January than I did when I started it, and I am grateful to God for showing me that I needed to take this time to restore and recalibrate. It has been a simply beautiful month. I am sad to see it end.

So...I am going to sit here and enjoy this glass of wine in the middle of the afternoon. I am going to write for a little while longer (I am working on a post about what I have learned this month.). I am going to watch the clouds roll by. I am going to visit with a friend a little later before we join our tribe for Bible study at the loft. I am going to breathe. I am going to smile.

I feel like I am doing something bad, but maybe someday in the not so distant future I will see this time in its full light and value....that I am better the rest of the time because I have taken a little time for myself....for my LIFE. I am looking forward to that day...

Enjoy your day. Wherever you are today.

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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

All That We Don't Know

I write a lot about what I am learning. What I know now. Lessons.

This week I was reminded (AGAIN) of all I don't know.

Hmmm...

My IF:Tribe meets at my loft weekly and what a beautiful, complicated, challenging, loving, gifted group of women. Each week they teach me how to do life a little more....a little better....more and more lessons.

We are currently working through Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker as a group study. For some this is their (and mine) second read and others their first. The book is amazing...no doubt, but the book/study (and this is the beauty of a good one) is a catalyst for deeper discussions into what we believe, our struggles, and challenging us to dig deeper. This week there was a lively discussion about our strongholds taught to us by the church. What does that mean? Well, those of us that grew up in the church (whatever the religion) have those things we have been taught for so long and from so young, that they are simply imbedded into our DNA (or so it seems). Imagine that at some point in your adult life after say 30+ years in the church, you have a crisis which leads to a crisis of conscious/religion/faith/etc. When that happens a natural need to analyze what you believe to be true based on a stronghold and what you believe to be true because it is what you truly believe to your core begins to occur. It is often painful, can be devastating, and most often takes time and patience (with yourself and others with you) to work slog through...

I sat and listened and discussed with these amazing women our various strongholds...what we believed to be true once AND what we believe now...and then some of the things we still don't know. Ahhhh...love it when it just gets REAL.

If I had a million reams of paper and the rest of eternity, I am not sure I could list out all of the things I still don't know about...well, anything....OR the things I simply WANT to know. I am a curious girl.

Yet.

Yet...we make agreements deep inside ourselves, with others, with God...that THIS is it. THIS is what I believe...no doubt. No questions.

Really?!?!?

I am here to confess/admit/own...pick a word....that I don't know...much of anything beyond all reasonable doubt. My walk with God is fraught with stumbling, mistakes, sin, errors in judgment, crisis of conscious, flat out lies, broken commandments, questioning of him, questioning of my beliefs, questioning the Bible, deep hurt, abandonment, disownment, questioning anything and everything...

but you know what....

It is also full of deep prayer, feverish worship, face-planting the ground, weeping, gnashing of teeth, bruised and tired knees, confession, humility (a lot of times forced not beautifully offered), intense study of His. Word., sought-for counsel, immense grace, undeserved mercy, and unconditional love.

So where does leave me? You? Anyone?


This is where I am....

I am a seeker. I am seeking a deeper, more real, much more intimate, and a fully conversational relationship with God. I have an understanding today, more than ever, that my walk is a lifelong journey that will ebb and flow while hopefully growing and deepening as the days go by. It is a relationship that takes work. WORK. God wants my heart...and as part of that, he wants my time. A relationship is a two-way street where there is give, give some more, take, take too much, and give more than you believe you have. The truth is that I didn't grow up learning about relationship(s) and what one/those should look like...at least not a healthy one. {Note: I am referring to relationships in the global sense.} So...imagine a middle-aged woman being taught at the foot of Jesus what "relationship" truly looks like, and you might see a glimpse of what I have been working through and learning the past four years. I thought turning 40 nearly four years ago was going to be the pre-cursor to the best half of my life (because of foolishly where my head and heart were at the time), but the joke was on me....God had COMPLETELY other plans....but now four years later still learning, but near the crest of the most brutal part (I pray) of the lessons being in my rearview mirror, I see his hand all over me and my life as he directed me to what HE wanted for the "best half of my life"....and that is stunning both to imagine and to write/confess here now.


I sit here now with a MUCH shorter list (than four years ago) of what I know and believe to be true. I also more humbly acknowledge the portion of that list that I "know" that is solely based on my deep faith. Everything else, I am just a seeker and a learner. My great hope is that now knowing and understanding better that my Christianity is tied to a walk with Christ (not simply the following of  command and abiding by the rules), there is a deep hunger in me to learn and study the Bible...but just as much, there is a deep hunger for a relationship with God that entails time with just the two of us...My God and I (oddly enough one of my favorite hymns growing up and supposedly one of the hardest to sing). I crave the relationship. I know too that a year from now that relationship (if cultivated) will look different than it does today, and even more so a year after that and on and on.

From time-to-time, I get sad that I wasn't taught/didn't learn these lessons much younger...time wasted and all, but no regrets. I don't have time for that. Neither do you.

So.....there is beauty in all that we don't know. That is the lesson I have learned.

There is a great quote...


Imagine my surprise, in the reading of a book that I first read four years ago, that God reminded me just how far I have come...and how he and I have come...together.

This is not the end though....there is still so much I don't know...and I am immeasurably grateful for the journey.

I hope this is encouragement to you. Let the struggles and beauty of my own walk through the lessons of grace be a testimony that whatever challenge you are walking through...there is hope. God is near. God is sitting next to you in this very moment. You are loved by a God who is patient and loving. Tap into him today. He is waiting. 

 

Life. The Whole (Dang) Box. ❤️☀️  #lessons

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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Holiness of Restoration

I have been writing like a woman on a mission all week...not posting any of it, but writing. A. Lot. This has been a strange, challenging, deep, loss-filled week. Breathtaking.

So...as I entered this weekend...another in my month of restoration as I have nicknamed January, I was naturally concerned that I might lose my momentum, get off track, lose focus, mostly...that I would give up.

After weeping myself to sleep Friday night...simply tears of sadness..God awoke me at 5 a.m. Saturday morning. Are you kidding me??? I didn't even resist. I got up, made some coffee, and crawled in bed to read the news...I was suddenly bored...or moved (wink to God above) and started reading my Bible and talking to God...Hard. What I had resisted and failed at the night before...allowing myself to wrestle with him, mourn, cry, and get it all out....he awoke me to do with him in the morning. That is the God I am in a relationship with now. He allows the shortest of times for a pity party before he shakes me out of it. He is teaching me to deal with it. Deal. With. It. Don't allow whatever it is to fester and spread like a wildfire in my soul. I love my God so much for this...for standing in this mess of who I am and loving me through it. He loves me...Well.


By the time my normal Saturday (time) had rolled around, I was in a different space emotionally and spiritually. Renewed. Refreshed. Refocused. Yesterday ended up being relaxing, productive, restorative....all of the things I have been hoping for in this wonderful month that I set aside for myself (at the urging of God). This morning as I slipped into a very hot salt bath (a new weekly practice I am trying)...I found myself talking to God suddenly about how happy I was...happy to want to take a bath (tell me how silly that is)...happy about church coming up in just under two hours...happy that I was staying on track with the goals of restoration, purging, taking care of myself, carving out time for others...that I could feel the peace and joy being restored to the very depth of my souls...places untouched in recent years. I can literally feel long-held anger in very deep caverns being loosened. All of this came out as I laid in the tub looking up...

As embarrassing and silly as all of this is to admit to...it is part of my growth. My growth in letting go of the old ick (which encompasses EVERYTHING and every area of my life) and letting God IN. It is part of my growth...part of me learning who I am....Now....in the present.

I have spent years working towards who I was supposed to be. Who would make others happy...and finally me happy. You cannot imagine the freedom (and struggle) I am feeling learning and leaning into who I am. Who. I. Am.

What I am learning in this month of restoration is the true holiness that comes from carving out time in silence with God via prayer and mediation, but there is also a unique holiness that comes out of taking care of yourself...

There is a great line in Eat Pray Love..."God dwells within you, as you."

I have pondered that for 24 hours now, and I think that in the tub I got close to understanding what that could be like...a spontaneous prayer of thanks to God as I soak and restore myself.

Crazy?! It sounds crazy, but not as crazy as it did before experiencing it this morning...


I thought this month of restoration was about me...I am so silly....because the truth it is about me and God, our relationship, God in me, and who he made me to be. Today. It is about strengthening the truths he has been teaching me these past four years after wandering in a spiritual desert for years. It is about renewing my heart as we pass another mile marker on this journey. It is about reminding me who I am. It is about reminding me who HE is. It is about growth. Mine.

I don't have to be strong through this either...a truth he reminded me Saturday morning. I have been strong, the "strong one" all of my life. I don't have to be that anymore...with God...with myself...with anyone. I am just Heather. I didn't want to cry to God Friday night...yet again. I felt weak. Saturday he reminded me that my tears are not a sign of weakness, but of the depth of the pain...and he is in the pain with me as much as he is with me in the joy. It is okay to feel that. Awww....the lessons in vulnerability still astound me. The truth is that he has, is, and will continue to heal me. In that specific pain and loss....and in all of the others too. Loss is a part of life. Growth is a part of life. God is in all of it. With me. With us.

I am finding God in this month of restoration. I am finding holiness in him and with him here.

I am in awe.

Happy Sunday!

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

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Art of Crafting A Year - Hello 2015


Sometimes I wonder....

Do I live well?

Do I love well?

This week I took care of a lot of people. I hope I did it well.

There are a lot of others I did not take care of...well, or at all.

A year ago I was starting the year off in Haiti...taking care of myself and others. Loving others. Selfishly wanting to see if a little boy missed me. Wanting to learn how to love well and live well. Knowing something was missing...a lot of things were missing.

A year later there is no Haiti trip to kick off the year. In its place is a month of restoration for me. Though life often gets in the ways of my plans...10 days in there has already been birth, two lives at risk, new ventures, a shattered relationship, broken plans, changes, new dreams, new schedules, restoration, and again...we are just 10 days in.

The. Scale.

The one I use to determine if my life is out of balance again...or still. *Deep Breath*

It got out of whack in 2014...again. I wouldn't change a thing though....I loved 2014. LOVED. I needed to learn that the things I love can get out of balance just like the things I loathe. Good lesson for this girl. (Shhh....I am a slow learner sometimes.)


Some in my tribe have asked that I write about the way I am planning out my 2015. It is a combination of things I have done since the age of 9 (some of which were done as self-preservation) and others I have learned through multiple time management courses (love me some Franklin Covey) and still others I simply stole. No ego here. Swiped. Them.

So because I am still a very private person (hard to tell that here huh?!?! :))), I am not going to take pictures of my journal pages and post here. Sorry. I am not that brave. LOL :)))

I will though walk you through my process and share some examples...for my planaholic friends...Enjoy.

First things first....Environment.

Do not attempt to start a process like this at a crowded office or house or anywhere that has distractions that would keep YOU from focusing on the task at hand. For me, the perfect environment changes from year-to-year and for some reason this year it ended up in a little place I love to have brunch at every now and then...it was noisy, but I was in my own little world...a great meal, a great atmosphere, a little booth (this girls loves her a good booth) comfy clothes, a mimosa, a bag of different colored Paper Mates, and a Moleskine....I had a moment(s).

Now the work...

I start with one page titled Goals - This is simply a brain-dump of whatever comes to mind. I tend to sit there and let my mind/heart/soul go crazy and just write everything that comes to the surface. Sometimes it is crazy stuff, but most of the time it is worries/stressors...things that are really weighing on me...that is the good stuff. Those are the things you want to get out there and figure out a way to address (Hint: sip the mimosa while you write.). I ended up with only one page this year (unusual) and only four items on the list. I found that extremely telling for me....especially when one of them came completely out of left field and another (which I will share)...finish my purge (this will be year three) and get it done this year once and for all...spoke to one of my last, great worries/stressors that only a handful know about so it is a silent stress (those are the worst). It was the first on my list too (somebody has been really worrying about this one...Clearly.).

I then break out my Months - {I know. I know. You are thinking this is really brilliant; she should write a book! (Don't be sassy.)} I list them out with spaces between each month and then I whip out my calendar (if I don't have it memorized) and look at what I have for the year. These are the biggies. The non-negotiable calendar items that I will plan my life around for the next 12 months. This is seriously the BIGGEST takeaway for me from 2014. I packed 12 months worth of activities into a 6-8 week span in the fall of 2014 and it quite literally nearly took me out (I loved every second of it, but yes, it left me SPENT). So...in honor of my new best friend Lysa TerKeurst and her latest book "The Best Yes" (link to website), I am committed to acknowledging that there are many truly GOOD things to say yes too in this world, BUT that does not mean that I should say yes to all of them. Holy. Cow. (my eyes just rolled back in my head) So...I am committing in 2015 to only be out of town (meaning major trip involving a plane or car trip for over 2-5 hours) once a month. I am also committed to being in my own home two weekends a month for the entire year with one exception (my nephew's senior football season). Every weekend in September through December 2015 is blocked out "Sam" so unless I can get to anywhere in the state of Arkansas where football is being played before kick-off (meaning I am singing the Start Spangled Banner before the game with my Sis), then don't ask me...my answer is no. NO. I have a couple of trips already planned so those go down (i.e., IF:Austin). Then I have what my Sis and I call...if this doesn't happen this year we won't make it items....a trip to the beach and a trip to the mountains. I put those down. Those MUST happen so nothing else "major" will be happening in those two months. ;) I then write down a list of wants...a girls weekend with my friend Jenn (we have been lax on this), a trip to Nashville to visit with friends (I have been sorely lax here), another Girls Weekend with some of the girls from Camp Caudle, Haiti, and the real stretch (Ireland, Italy, Bali...one I have been to and the other two I have boxes full of dreams about...someday. *Sigh*).

Reflect - Take this moment of uncomfortableness and use it for good. Look at your 2014 calendar side-by-side with your one page list of months for 2015 you just did above (which only includes the non-negotiable and biggies....we haven't begun to add the every day details, kids' activities, etc.). Now on a new page write, Loved, Both, Loathed side-by-side at the top of the sheet. Now look at 2014 and categorize the ways you spent your 2014 from trips, volunteer work, church, your job, activities, to general stuff (one of mine under loathed was driving (suddenly I no longer enjoy something I once dearly loved...age? Who knows. On the list.). Catalyst was in my loved category, and as you might (or maybe not) have guessed...I had quite a few things under "Both" as I had mixed feelings about a lot this past year.

I have to be honest. I wept and then prayed after this part. It was hard. I had to acknowledge (and this is just to myself) that there were things that I spent time on in 2014 that I didn't enjoy. Worse, I loathed them. It was also difficult to admit that there were things that I both loved and loathed so I needed to decide whether to scrap or try and hit refresh. Absolutely the toughest was the loathe though because there are conversations with others that have to take place...meaning I have to say, I can't do that again to someone I love/respect/admire. There are also a few hard conversations with myself that did/need to happen....like I have to do better at this...it is causing me pain elsewhere OR I have to adjust my lifestyle because I am unhealthy or I don't need to drive at night because I don't feel safe (just to overshare....I scare myself driving at night now....the headlights and road work lights and darkness. I hate it. I loathe it. It scares me. I don't feel safe. That means (here is one example) I have to leave my Sis' house (2 (give or take) hours away) earlier than I want so I can get home before dark. It also means no more late night driving/road trips which I was sad about at first, but got over quickly. In the scheme of things...not that big of a deal.). This reflect portion is the hardest part of the whole thing, but it tees my heart and mind up perfectly before digging into the next steps. You are in a better space with which to make deeper choices. Again, we are talking about being deliberate about your LIFE here...one spin on the merry-go-round and all of that. We all want to Make. It. Count.

Now it starts getting serious.

The Categories - I have used this process for YEARS where you break out the biggies: Physical, Financial, Spiritual, Relational, but Lysa adds Emotional, and then an Other. Well...ummmm....emotional might be a good one for someone like me (Gasp.) So, I write those out with the major sub-categories -

Physical: food, exercise, rest, medical care
Financial: earnings, giving, savings, spending, debt, margin
Emotional: contentment, healing, peace of mind
Spiritual: putting God first, time alone with God, prayer, study,
Relational: Sis, kids, extended family, friends, colleagues, neighbors
Other:

I personalize these (as you might have noticed), but I have a few more on mine, but did not include for privacy sake. This is the time though in your private journal to let it all hang out. Be intentional here.

So this is about the time that I start telling myself that I don't do resolutions, these are goals, a lifestyle. I have to then get out of my head (and subsequently out of my own way).

Now break those categories out (one to a page) and dig into each of those sub-categories. What are the specifics you want to do/accomplish/be on these? Again, be specific. What you will often find in this part is that you will start adding sub-categories (this is good; specific is good). I also find that if I put this down and come back to it in a couple of days (this year was about a week because I started it on December 20th and then went back to it on New Years Eve (yes on the cusp of a new year...I had a busy race to the finish and this was the earliest to pick it back up). It worked out SO well. When I go back, I always write in a different color which helps me to differentiate between what were my first thoughts and then what came after reflection (I am a nerd; I like this kind of thing.).

The Breather - This comes when you need to write, take a walk, or simply catch your breath. Planning is hard. To plan well, you must self-reflect, analyze, dream, and face some things about yourself. It is not for the faint of heart, and anyone that says it is easy is frankly not doing it well. Be mad at me; I am speaking the truth. Make the plan; work the plan.

The Calendar - This is when it really gets down to the truth of the matter, or where the rubber meets the road. Can this be done? I find that if I build all (or as much as humanly possible) of this into my calendar (that thing that tells me where to be and who to be with and for how long....Every. Day. Of. My. Life.) it will be done. If not in there, then it is nothing more than a children's fairy tale...and just as likely to become reality (at least for me). Also, once in there, when someone asks me to do something I am staring at a lot of good reasons why I must decline OR must say YES!  I also find that if I build time (read that as block it out on my calendar (I love me the "Private" button as I use my work calendar for EVERYTHING. I do not believe in using more than one calendar. Nobody has time for that.) that makes it real and more likely to get done (such as exercise, writing, spa day, brunch, small group, birthday weekends with the kids, pay bills, etc.). As insane as it might sound (and I know it does) it is as important for me to block out the small stuff as the big stuff because really to me, it is all big stuff. This is the quilt of my life, how I spend my days, and if I don't quilt it together myself....it will come together on its own (and that is when I over-commit myself and forget the "little" things that keep me healthy, balanced, etc.). I need this structure so that I can live my life unstructured. What do I mean by that? I can really relax when I am with family or at work and be more in the moment because I know that when I am here, there is already time to be there, so no guilt. Now....I am not perfect at this, but I am getting better. I spent five days over Christmas without e-mail this past year. Miracle. It is also telling those I am with that I am "all in" with them and focused on them or the task at hand. I see where I have let technology and a need to please everyone and be everywhere or always "available" to keep me from ever really BEING anywhere. Lessons I learned more and more with every trip to Haiti. I give that country all of the credit for helping me re-discover the beautiful simplicity of simply being in the moment.


So.....

There you have it. For those of you going no way....Yes. Way. :))))

I will say that the calendar portion takes me the longest.....like a week. I give myself the first week of the year to get all of this stuff built into my calendar or in side notes (I also put some of it on post it notes on my bathroom mirror; my guests LOVE that.). I am also needing to counsel with others...business partner, Sis, friends....as incorporating this takes coordinating with their schedules. It is NOT all about me. I am now giving myself until next weekend (January 17th) to complete this as this past week was not the "week of my dreams" though I am proud to say 75% of this is built and in my calendar. Take your time...you want to get this right...remember though that if you get to February 1st and you don't have it done you are falling into a slippery slope....where the other people there are those that turn their Christmas tree into an Easter tree because they don't want to put the effort into taking it down (yeah...yeah...it is beautiful and you love it...that is what we all say...;))

I hope this helps you as you close out 2014 and start this new year. I now have the urge to take a nap...WHICH...is on my list for 2015...incorporate more naps. I love them. :)))



I love these words...

I remain grateful for the gift of continuing to learn to be who I want to be, to live a life I am proud of, and to continue to start over when the path I am on no longer works for me or where I ultimately need to be. God is truly good as he has guided me through this difficult lesson. I remain a work-in-process...and lucky for me there is no age limit on that. ;)

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." ~ I Corinthians 2:9

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Life...In The Balance ~ Growth Unfolding

I don't appreciate my life enough.

I know this because I am the middle of  a season of loss...all around me...I have friends entering hospice, I have friends of friends entering hospice, I have friends scheduling major surgeries, I have friends losing uncles and wives and children, I have babies being born via a funnel of risk, I have mothers and babies living in a web of risk as they go through their day, I know marriages struggling, friendships dying, professional relationships damaged, and I, as is privy to my personality type, feel it....All.

I also feel the joy in a deeper way. I feel the joy of new life entering right when the atmosphere gives a five minute snow, winter's version of fireworks to celebrate the birth of a baby. I feel the joy of hope...however small....that God is in control of not one life, but two. I feel the joy of friendships holding on...digging in for the long haul. I feel the joy of employees who are learning and growing...their self-esteem building...every day. I feel the joy of new dreams springing up in 2015 where old dreams were laid to rest in years past. I feel it...All.

There was a time I didn't want to feel so much. Life felt heavy and too much. I still can feel that way from time-to-time, but when I do...I see it more as an urge....a burning need....to write. I am not a person who needs to keep things bottled up inside. If (or should I say when) I do, I tend to blow...Big. Tears. Big. Anger. Lets just say I can display....ALL of the emotions granted a human. I have BIG feelings, and I know how to express them.

Yesterday as I simultaneously watched one of my dear employees and my dear business partner, watching one out of each eye, tears falling out of each of them (and theirs)...go through the emotions of a lot of shockingly bad health news...I just prayed to God for control over my own BIG feelings in the moments and begged for the words and actions to take care of two dear people. God showed up...for them, for me. He just swooped in and showed up. Our God the great comforter...and he is.

Me. Last night. After I had crawled into bed and pulled the covers up to my chin. prayed, given thanks, and for a few seconds wished I was 4 years old again and life were simple.

A friend of a friend of mine wrote this post the other day entitled By Degrees - Living and Dying. Her name is Kara Tippett and I met her friend in Haiti in 2014 which is also when I heard Kara's story and started following her blog (i.e., stalking her). I hope my friends say a tenth of the lovely descriptions of me that Kara's friend shared of her. I didn't doubt any of it. Then I read Kara's blog. I suddenly questioned my friend's honesty...she had held back...Kara was even MORE amazing than she had described. So while I have been genuinely and literally undone since reading Kara's blog on the 29th...I hesitated to write about it...then Ann Voskamp wrote THIS yesterday. Well...basically I didn't have anything to add to the awesomeness of her words.

Until now.

An ambulance just drove past the window, lights and sirens on....

Life...In. The. Balance.

Do I live my life like it is in the balance?

I. Do. Not.

I live my life like I have nothing but time...and I don't. No one does.

I think some who know me and my past health issues would question don't I already know this lesson...well. I do, I mean I did, I mean...what I learned was to run faster, harder, get it all in....what the past year and these past weeks especially have taught me is that maybe the lesson isn't run faster, but slow the heck down. Slow. Down. Savor it. Every single moment. This requires, after the lobotomy, me to breathe...deeply...in....and....out. This is hard stuff.

I am four days into a 30 day experiment (okay challenge) by my IF:Tribe to spend 90 minutes (one 30/one 60 (am/pm)) in silence/prayer/meditation. Think daily covenant of silence. No music, television, computer, etc. during the time. I have been wrestling with doing this for four years. I am both excited and nervous. This is insane. INSANE.

So what has happened in four days? I am completely hooked. I feel like I have been let in on a giant secret that everyone else knew that I didn't.

My journal this morning (bear in mind all that yesterday brought)...

"Submission (to this time with God in quiet) = Preparation = Thriveability which looks more like living a life with Jesus and less like surviving a life and then pleading and crying to Jesus in the middle of the crisis, "Why?!?!?""

So is it really this simple?!?! I consecrate and sacrifice and give him my time daily and he gives me the tools for my toolbox to survive whatever comes at me which now looks like, "Hey God this is all yours (giving it up and my control with it) and then he shows up (and that looks like what he wants not necessarily a full healing, etc.) and then I praise him for it and we do it all over again the next day.

#mindblown

I sat in my bed this morning reading my journal since Sunday and the chapters and verses in Psalms where I had felt drawn Sunday and Monday night...and then reviewed again in my mind all that had occurred yesterday...and then last night as I was pulled back in again to read again those same verses in Psalms....and I am wondering has this been the lesson all along? Did I just find some sort of secret society/national treasure code and break it?!?! I wanted to cry, but all I could do was laugh at the enormity of my new knowledge..in all of its simplicity.


So then I sent eight text messages to my C7 detailing the past four days and closed with, "What do you think? Have I finally lost my mind?!?!"

I wish I wasn't so selfish...but I am....so I will not share their beautiful, hysterical text messages. Those are for us, and they are priceless to me.

They didn't think I had lost it. In a nutshell, they see it as...Growth. #bless

One said, it is like watching "growth unfolding" to which I wept right after I laughed.

On my bathroom there is a post-it note with four words from Psalms 51: pure heart, renew, joy, willing spirit which I put on my mirror Tuesday morning (before Tuesday's storm)....last night as I was re-reading Psalms 51 and Psalms 7:17, God was reminding me that praise must follow deliverance as surely as prayer springs from need...I do a lot of the praying, but do I follow it with the praising...yesterday I got the follow-up/word problem in the lesson of a lifetime. I am just hoping I was praising enough...

So what does all of this mean???

There is this place that you and I reside between life and death. It is filled with seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and if we are given it...years. There are many ways to live it....but lets narrow it to two: one that has you reacting to every change in the wind direction and reacting in short-order, or a second that has you resting in the knowledge that someone bigger and more powerful than you has control over everything and if you give it up to him, it might not come out exactly as you want, but it will come out and you will learn lessons, live fully, love well, and see things in this world that only someone who is looking at this world....this life...not through their eyes, but through their heart. The place where Jesus truly abides in us.

The truth is that I don't want to see my terrified employee with a health crisis through my eyes which are clouded with selfish concerns and questions. I want to see my terrified employee with a health crisis through the eyes of Jesus. My reaction, shocker of all shockers, is completely different depending on the lens I choose (his or mine).

I choose his.

Mine are getting weak and short-sighted anyway...and even the glasses to help don't fit right. ;)

I choose Jesus.

I need his wisdom...discernment...grace...for others...and then #bless for me.

I am growing..no doubt. God has sent me a tribe that is challenging every "comfort" I have making me dig in the uncomfortable and the results are leaving me breathless. What God is also doing is teaching me how to live life in the balance. A place that has been more like a fairy tale or something I read about...not necessarily something I have actually experienced or know anything about really (#blessmyheart). I thought I knew...but running this race...well lets say running is not the speed or method with which I was meant to live. Imagine...it only took me 43 1/2 years to figure it out. *Deep Sigh*

So here I go diving into this new pool of knowledge. Balance.

I am grateful that God gave me the years needed to learn these lessons. I may be the slowest learning still taking up oxygen on this planet.

So...I ask you....are you living life in the balance? You tithe or give money to church or charities....but what are you tithing of your time to God? A tribe member asked me that Sunday and I was too ashamed to answer. If you want him to lead you, how can you be led if you spend no time with him? Make the time. I am looking at the time I spend with my team at the office. Individually. As a group. What is my individual investment in them as it pertains to time? The answer for me was sobering. God is in our relationships. What are you bringing to the table...the one with him, the one with family and friends, or the ones at work. Who are you doing life with? What are you investing in those lives? Your life? This isn't to shame you. It is to ask the deeper question. As John Eldredge would say, "...the next question."

....and just in case you were wondering #growth sucks

It is also the most wonderful gift I have ever been given.

BTW...thanks and praise to God for that. I appreciate the time given me.

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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Gift of Words

I have a problem with procrastination. It kills me to say it...admit it...but it is true. Let me just say that procrastination combined with my inability to say, "No." to well...ANY....request made of me is a HORRIFIC combination. Horrific.

I am getting better. I do things like focusing on tasks early in the day that I hate to get them out of the way. I am learning the word no. Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror while applying my make-up in the morning and just practice saying it...like part of the problem is that no one ever taught me how to actually form the words. LOL #forthelove

The problem that nags and hangs around my neck still are the tasks I both can and say yes to but don't get done timely because I have a need to do them "perfectly"....Hmmm...what do you mean you might ask. Well, I have the idea for a lovely surprise or a gift for someone. I then look to carve out the time to do it...plan, purchase, execute (which might mean mailing or delivering), but then you also need the perfect card with it so you can express exactly why you wanted to do this for them...why you were thinking of them, etc. It is (rolling my eyes) crazy.

Part of my little dream Saturday today is not simply purchasing and wrapping Christmas gifts...it has morphed into a day to do all of those thoughtful things I have been trying to do..All. Dang. Year. *Sigh* The notes I didn't get written. Donations I didn't get shipped or even ordered. Presents that I got ordered but never shipped. Birthday cards, anniversary cards, returned notes. I don't have FB Messenger and I usually check FB from my phone. Lets not EVEN discuss how many messages on FB I need to read and respond to...Holy. Cow. I must be the ONLY person on the planet who doesn't use Messenger. My people be writing to me....and I have been missing all of the questions/notes/messages. Whoops.


So...I tanked up on some strong coffee this morning, bundled up under a quilt, put my entire IPod on shuffle (2745 songs...surely that is enough right?!?!), and started writing.

Mother. Mary. and Joseph. (envision my fake Irish accent)

What a gift.

I have enjoyed writing these love letters to my tribe...my people....more than you can imagine. It has been a lovely, tremendous reminder of a year that has been FULL and blessed beyond measure (blessed by both the trials and celebrations). I have been SO busy whining and wrestling with my own exhaustion (completely my fault), that I haven't had time for THIS. This beautiful time to say thank you to the people who have made this one of the single best years of my life.

I did one of those cheesy videos that takes snippets of your social media from a period of time and condenses it into a short clip...note to self...develop one that is longer. ;)  I was blown away when I saw it. What. A. Year. I have been allowed the gift of Haiti not once, but three times this year. I have met some 200+ new friends and tribe members through those trips. People that are brave and adventurous and love Jesus and love their lives at 100+ mph and are imperfect and growing and living life fully. I have spent time with children both in Haiti and at Camp Caudle who have NO reason for joy yet are so joy-filled, and they embrace life...FULLY. They want more from their lives....to do more....to have more with Jesus. To learn. It is breathtaking. I have spent in sum total around 30 days at Camp Caudle this year...for two camps, weekends digging in with friends and tribes, celebrations, and even a little work. I have experienced two seasons of baseball with Sam (the spring and summer), football with Jon and Sam this past fall. I have watched all three of Sis' kids spread their wings (and two their passports) to serve God on the mission field. I got to take my Sis not once, but twice to Haiti this year and watch what has moved and changed my life begin to move and change hers. Sharing that with her is truly one of the greatest gifts God has given me this past year. I experienced Catalyst. I have celebrated the wedding of one of our C7, the birth of another C7's son, and the wedding of another C7's son. I have realized that doing life with them was the biggest gift God taught me back on that mountain in Colorado in 2012. It has been a gift I have been grateful and honored to speak about a half dozen times this past year to women of all ages as I found my voice in a new way. I have seen our little firm more than double in size this past year...and we wrestle with the will of God on the opportunities that lay ahead to double it again. I have seen God heal me of a lot of old wounds - both personally and professionally as I step out in faith in both arenas not knowing if I can handle the step ahead, but learning that radical obedience is just that...Radical. and...Obedience. I got to see IF come to fruition in February and then watch it slowly expand my tribe throughout this year. I could not be more excited by what 2015 has in store for my life just as it pertains to IF. I have flown...everywhere...it seems. My travel this year has been as diverse as it has been excessive. This is the year that I admitted I have grown weary of driving...I think the 20+ years of driving so much professionally has finally taken its toll. I have lost my love for being behind the wheel; I love being a passenger on the road though....:))) The year of the purge might just be the single biggest surprise for those who have known me only for the past six years as I have leaned down my life in every, single category. My prayer is that 2015 will be the cap-off year for what I believe will be remembered as the great three year purge (years from now) as it will have taken three years to unwind a life that simply got to excessive. I cannot even imagine what I was thinking all those years. This does not of course impact my love of books. I have bought more books this year than in any single year (I think.), but I have also read more books start to finish this year than I have since 2000. That is a ratio I both love and am proud of...there are simply lots of beautiful words out there, and I want to read them all. EVEN the ones I don't understand or agree with...call me nutty. :)))

Speaking of words....

So this post started because I am sitting here marinating in the joy of writing words to those I love. I forget how much I love to write. Blogs, articles, thank you notes, proposals....I love words.

This holiday season I may have once again waited until the last moments to do my shopping. I may for the third/fourth year in a row not have one single Christmas decoration up in my home. I may be racing into the final days of the year trying to close deals, financials, and meet all of my last minute deadlines and obligations....BUT this year, I have shared the gift of words with some of the most important people in my life. The joy is selfishly all mine because writing them has been such a gift. I am so grateful to those that CHOOSE to do life with me. There are so many in my life who over my 43 years have chosen not to do life with me for a variety of reasons...so this girl will never, EVER take for granted the beauty of someone saying, "Yes. I will do life with you. The good. The bad. The ugly." These amazing people...starting with the beautiful, gifted C7....have taught me the art and the beauty of doing life with others. They have taught me how. They have been patient as I stumbled along not knowing what I was doing. I have dropped balls. Let them down. Not been ENOUGH when they needed me. Yet, YET they remain in this life with me...still trudging through...doing life with me...Every. Day. God Bless those that Love Us When We are UNLOVABLE.

I am not perfect. Never, ever has there been a bigger work-in-process than me. I am loved though more than I deserve. I have been given the gift of tribe. I have been blessed with women (and men) who love me for who I am now, but believe in who I can be. They push me deeper and more lovingly into my destiny. God gave me life for a reason. I understand that more now than I have ever had, and I am responsible for using the gifts He gave me to love others...Well. Someday I hope that I do. I hope that my legacy someday will be that I lived hard and loved well. #bless

This isn't what I planned to write...it never is...but this is perfect because I get to say thank you for being a part of my life. A part of this glorious 2014. Thank you to my friends and family who walk this life with me. Truly...bless your hearts. To my tribe though...which includes my precious Sis...I owe you everything because I was a pile of putty in October 2012 when God sent me my first taste of tribe...and today whatever good I have done or I am...it is because of your faithfulness in loving me well and teaching me how to do life with others. I was clueless. I hope I have honored (and continue to honor) your gift well.

I love you with my whole heart. ❤️☀️

Merry Christmas!

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

 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Broken Crayons Still Color

A friend of mine prayed for and over me Sunday afternoon as we both sat on my couch. I had just finished praying for each member of our little IF tribe and said, "Amen," and she said, "Now it is your turn." I had forgotten about myself. She remembered me. Her prayer was breathtaking.
 
I forgot myself.
 
Deep. Sigh.
 
As a woman...as a single woman...I spend a lot of time worrying that I am selfish...that I do not do enough for others. The truth is I have selfish moments or bouts of time, but that makes me no different than the average grown adult. What all of that shame and insecurity has done is fester into a healthy dose of worry that I am not enough until guess what....I'm not enough.
 
There are not enough hours in a day to do, be, see, talk to, e-mail, write, text, call, speak, approve, advise, cheer, clean, and on and on and on....all of the things that I need to do in a given day, week, month, or year. Not. Enough.
 
The art of self-sabotage.
 
I am sitting here at the end of another year...reflecting on the year that was and trying to find hope for the year that is around the corner...and I am sad and mad at myself BEYOND words. I have done it again. Dammit. I have worked and scheduled myself into the abyss of exhaustion, self-loathing, and despair of not being enough. Again. AGAIN!
 
When am I going to learn this lesson???? #forthelove
 
Last week I sent a private text to the wrong person/group. I beat myself up for about 24 hours. Way to spoil the surprise Heather. Douche.
 
I spent three hours today combining no less than six full legal pads of to do lists into two new ones - the things that MUST be done this week, and the things that MUST be done by year-end. Both have hidden meanings...something bad is going to happen if the lists don't get done in those timeframes. Ugh. Everything else is being put in a file marked 2015. I can barely contain my joy in anticipating opening that file on 1/1/2015 (can you hear the sarcasm?). :)))
 
Tonight I read a post by Jen Hatmaker on parenting kids who sabotage big days, and I swear it was written for me...Ummmm, no surprise when several adults started posting that they were as guilty of it as their children. We all have stories. Stories of scarcity and shame. Boy how it manifests itself in the quilt of our days. I have so much still to learn about myself and why I do the things I do. Breathtaking.
 
I am tired of living and operating from the pain of BIG DAYS past. The what might have beens steal the joy of the here and now. The joy of a woman opening herself up to you on your couch on a Sunday afternoon because she feels safe with her feelings and pain. The joy of a friend who sees you drowning and offers a hand. The joy of a child who wants to play with YOU...do crafts with YOU...take a hike with YOU. The joy of being needed and being able to be PRESENT and AVAILABLE to them.
 
I read this article called The Disease of Being Too Busy, and I saved it (too busy to read it when I saw it), and I cried reading it. While I have been very "intentional" in 2014 on trying to not use the phrase "I'm busy." or "I'm so busy."...yet alas it somewhere morphed into "I am EXHAUSTED!" emphasis added. ‪#‎bless‬
 
I am not alone. I have watched some of the people I love and admire most in this world run themselves clean ragged this year...and for what?? Purpose, calling, family, church, school, etc. Yeah...all of the "good stuff" so where are we all going wrong??? We have to cut out some of the "good stuff" and it is heartbreaking...especially for many of us who feel like we are finally doing "good work" finding our "people" and our "calling" and on and on. But there can be too much of a "good" thing, and although I am not some expert over here having figured it all out...I am realizing that I have too much "good stuff" in my life right now, and I need to lean it down some. Not only for the sake of my sanity and my health, but for the sake of the truly good work and ultimate thing God is asking of me in this life. This one single life I have to live.
 
If you are somewhere near, or right in the middle of, this with me...this read might be for you. Pour a cup of tea and take a minute....the link is in the title above.
 
Excerpt....
 
"We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.
 
W. B. Yeats once wrote:
 
“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”"
 
"We want to be truly human." Wow. I don't know about you, but that strikes a powerful cord with me. The overwhelming guilt in the past few weeks is that I haven't been there in the bigger/deeper ways for some of the people in my life. I have been thinking...I need more time to write a card, cook a pie, or just go visit someone. I know I did that well once. What happened? When did my life get in the way of me just being human?
 
My friend last night..."Heather your soul craves time alone, time to read, time to write. You are not feeding your soul."...Tears. Flowing.
 
I cannot get her words out of my heart. I know she is right. I know so deep in my soul that it has been aching (real live pain) since she uttered the words. It is as if my soul is pushing through the skin...listen it cries. Listen.
 
The beauty of these past few years has been the work...reading, writing, and time alone with God....that is where the hard work has been done and the beauty from the ashes (as another friend would say) has arisen. There is more work to be done, but even more I can't step away from the very things that help me find LIFE. As I wrote that, I remembered a line John Eldredge said in one of his studies about once you taste healing or success...then it becomes the most dangerous time of your life...because you start replacing the things that help you get there with STUFF and RUNNING. That is exactly what I am starting to do, and I am SO stupid because I know better. I know SO much better than to do that.
 
The art of self-sabotage. I should write a book.
 
Ugh.
 
It is past my bedtime so I have to close...not because there are not still words, but because I need to rest on all of these words already left on the paper. Maybe you are fighting all of this too...spread too thin, fear of not being enough, self-sabotage, or just a feeling of despair. You are not alone, but more than the tribe that walks these paths with you is the love of a God who never leaves your side. Through thick and thin, feast and famine, the highs and lows...our God loves us deeply and fights for us fiercely. It has taken me many, many years to realize the deep abiding love of God for me...and I have just barely scratched the surface.
 
I sit here tonight. Exhausted. No. Doubt.
 
I also sit here tonight being restored by the prayers of others, the words of others, and my beautiful God. I am a broken mess...even after so much lost and learned....I hit my knees again asking for forgiveness and restoration at the foot of the cross. Come for me and my heart sweet Lord.
 
 

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