Wednesday, August 13, 2014

By The Grace of God Go I


I have wrestled the pen (so to speak) on stating anything via here or even a social media blip on the passing and circumstances around Robin Williams' death. The fact is part of my pause is because I am still in shock. 

I grew up with Robin Williams starting with Mork and Mindy. No generation identifies more with the breadth and depth of his career than mine...the awkward and often identity-less Gen X. For some of us "latch key" kids, who were raised more by TV than parents...he IS the parent we never had. As he aged and matured and LIVED so did we...and we watched...and LEARNED. 

So as I deal with a mourning I am surprised by (none of us REALLY thinks it is "normal" to deeply mourn a celebrity (especially one we never met)?!...I am disturbed at the look in his eyes in photo after photo that flashes on the TV or across my social media feeds. There is clearly an emptiness there. Why didn't I ever notice that before?...why didn't anyone?...why didn't anyone help?

By the grace of God go I.

That was my thought after 36 hours of mourning and tributes to Robin Williams.

Last night I had dinner with one of my #tribe, and it was amazing...thoughtful, yummy, deep, and funny. We were doing life together at that table. I was and am so grateful to people who want to do life with me to this level. Truly sharing the highs and lows...struggles and wins...questions and answers....with me and others. I have wrestled deeply since camp with what I saw and experienced, and last night was a release valve for my wrought spirit. As we shared back and forth last night, we both sensed the deepening and shift in our friendship. {Deep. Smile.}

So as I see fresh coverage on Robin Williams' suicide, I am struck by the question in my heart...Did he have a tribe? Not friends...I know he had friends. Not family...I know he has family. Not co-workers...I know he has great peers. 

Did. He. Have. A. Tribe.???

At camp, I got asked by many...fellow counselors and campers alike to explain my tribe theory. I should post those conversations, but not in this one. The point today is that people are inanately curious about tribes because I believe they sense they are missing something in their lives, just like I did when I was first reading and cultivating my own beliefs on it. 

The fact is we need people in our life who we can be fully transparent with...whatever it is....who will be an encourager to us while also being a mirror to our face holder....who will love us and pray with and for us...who will intervene spiritually for us...who will push us and hold us. People who don't expect us to have all of the answers, but openly share their knowledge and are willing to search out the answers with us that we don't know. Who will let us be vulnerable and raw without judgement or scorn. People who will walk through life with us on the superficial levels, but more importantly on the deeper levels of life.

I have no judgement towards Robin Williams for taking his own life for I know in my heart that any one of us could be at that point at any given moment. What I am realizing is that what keeps me from the darkest of places is my "tribe" relationships where I am able to share the  darkness with...and they help direct me to the light. I am not sure that makes a great deal of sense in the wee hours of the morning as the sun rises in the distance, but somehow I believe it does...and not just to me.

This morning I am more grateful than ever for my tribe...for the gift of the original C7 and their gift of the tribe lesson...for a God who knew what I needed and sent it in a beautiful lesson wrapped in a messy swampy season of my life. Without my tribe, the race before me would be too much...Too. Much.

Life is hard. Growth sucks.

Yet...God is in the roses and the thorns. 

Tribes matter. We all need a tribe to walk through this life with...and then to celebrate with on the other side. 

Rest in peace Robin Williams. May we all reach for people more in light of the lessons in your death and the beauty of your life. 

Find and build your tribe...Today. ❤️☀️

Sunday, July 27, 2014

In Every Season


In every season....

My constant friend.

You are near.

In weakness I rise.

Fully letting go.

Surrendering.

The anchor for my soul.

You will never change.

You are my Savior.

I can count on you.

Fully letting go.

Surrendered. 

Wow. No words today.

In every season...

....but oh how I love this sweet season. ❤️☀️
 
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)
 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Nirvana In A Writing Desk

Heather's Writing Desk

I was going to come home and lay down. I needed to do just one single thing first.

I sat down at my new desk I just got set up at the loft yesterday, and now here I am looking out over the Arkansas River writing and listening to the soundtrack from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. A film that took me more than a little while to feel the rhythm of....the song "Stay Alive" is AMAZING! I highly recommend checking it out.

I digress...

I think I might have found a new personal nirvana for me. A writing area. I mean a desk, a chair, a view, and little touches (a unique piece of pottery filled with #2 pencils (sharpened), another piece of pottery with highlighters and pens), one pile of old journals, two other piles of "critical" books to my life (either being presently read for the first or second or fifth time), thank you notes (an old habit of mine that I am renewing), a pile of IF: Gathering material, another pile of orphan information, and personal touches like a bouquet of dried peonies from Sherri's (C7) wedding in a crystal heart-shaped vase given to me by an old friend...plus a heart book "Find It In Everything" by Drew Barrymore given to me by another friend during #HogsCare week this past year.

I can't begin to express what sitting in this spot, surrounded by these things, looking at these views, and hearing this song is causing in my soul.

The tears are coming....

They are tears of pure joy. Pure. Joy.

I try to hit pause when I find these nirvana moments clearly aware that I don't know for how long they will last, or initially what all is causing them. I so love my friends and family. I love my life so very, very much right now. A part of the happy is the nesting factor. Creating a real home has brought me joy and peace I have never EVER known. I have owned homes (and still do), but I am happier in this loft than any single place I have ever, ever lived. It is hardly perfect...I could make a list, but I don't...not even in my own mind...because what it gives me is more joy than I deserve. I took no less than a half dozen naps in the past two days, and in between I purged no less than a dozen boxes...treasures, stuff, books (OH Sweet Jesus the books this girl owns!), set up my guest bed (now someone has somewhere they can actually lay their head, threw away, and made yet another pile to donate, but the biggest WOWSA was setting up my new desk. It looks like nothing I would have loved or even liked a few years ago, but I love it now. It is perfect for the space, but more it feels like me. How is that?!?!? How does that happen?!?!? A desk! Feels like ME?!?!?!

Grinning through misty-eyes.

*Sigh*

If there is one thing I have learned over the past several years, it is that I absolutely MUST operate from my heart...or walk away. Period. That was a hard lesson for this girl; one I wish that I had learned much, much younger. *Sigh*  I would play the martyr role to the hilt even as I was blissfully unaware of it. Here is a little tip...if there is a quality in someone you hate...no, despise....take a long look in the mirror because you probably demonstrate the same quality(ies). *Ugh* For years, I thought I was operating from my heart when the truth was I operated from about ten levels above it...from the safe zone I had built. Now I wasn't a bad person, but I wasn't wholehearted either. I was only half alive, operating from survival instinct, and not quite sure where or to whom I belonged...God that hurts to write.

Today, I operate from a much riskier place, but the rewards...Oh. The. Rewards.


Yesterday I was exhausted. Exhausted. I finally took a break from purging and naps to go get some fried chicken (in a sweater no less - crazy Arkansas weather - it is JULY!). Everywhere I looked...hearts...I mean in the sidewalk, oil spills on the driveway, cut into the concrete, sky, etc...I do mean everywhere I looked...there were hearts. I actually said, out loud, God I hear you...you love me...not today. I don't want to feel it today. I am tired. There was silence. I get to the jeep. Sometimes (I don't know how or why), my iPod will just start playing and shuffling my music randomly. I turn on the Bluetooth and "Let's Make It Last" by Brandon Heath plays. I smile a little. Then "Letting Go" by Bethel. At this point, I am laughing. God...I give. I hear you. What are you trying to tell me?

There is a line at the chicken place, and I have to wait...awhile. I see this quote, "For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would like complete destruction." ~ Cynthia Occelli {Note the quote was on Adam Braun's Instagram page. I am currently devouring everything he has written and done as he started a non-profit from nothing...now changing the world.)}

How many in my life see my life the past 4-5 years as having gone through complete destruction? Growth? What do I see?

I drove back to the loft. Savored my fried chicken. Got to work on my writing desk. It felt like a command. Energy came from where I do not know...except I do. God was ready for me to get busy. Once finished. I took another nap. I spent most of the rest of yesterday just staring at it. Staring.

The words coming...

When I stop struggling. I float. It is the law.
 
"I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." ~ Isaiah 46:4
 
"Nothing can tear us from the grip of his mighty love." ~ Romans 8:38-39
 
Lord I am stepping out from the comfort zone. Letting go of me, holding on to YOU.
 
"Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created." ~ Esther 4:14

We must abandon all we know to be true about ourselves, our pasts, our spiritual cornerstones, our personalities, our strengths, our weaknesses, those we love, and those we thought we were meant to love, our gifts...Who. We. Believe. We. Are.

We must lay it all down at the foot of the cross...and Give. It. Up.

Radical obedience means doing all of this and so much more, but as He re-builds the puzzle and quilt of your heart, soul, and mind in to who you always dreamed you could be...who you always were (albeit somewhere hidden)...He shows you true nirvana...and it comes in the strangest forms, places, and ways....not as you "believe" it should, but as He knows it needs to be. His will; not mine.

Friday night and early Saturday morning I could feel the panic and disappointment in myself easing upon me like a wave creeping up on the shore. The to do lists too long. Fear of disappointing people. Not enough of me to go around. Not. Enough. Yet....I didn't save me. Rebuke. Nothing. God stepped in. He stood between me and all of my old crap and said, "Not today. Not my girl. Not this time." He walked me through yesterday and today like the Master he is...and it has been a beautiful, productive, relaxing, loving, NIRVANA, two days.

Do I have everything done? No. Did I have to make some decisions that disappoint me in myself or others? Yes. Am I any less? Absolutely not.

Tonight, Mugs Café had a special dinner/party to celebrate their one year anniversary. There was great food, fellowship, laughter, and games...plus a few awards. I would like to say that my reward for "cheering them on" was my favorite because if you know me, you know I want "Encourager" on my tombstone...it is my new mantra second only to "Make the plan; work the plan." :))) I digress. ;) Yet...my favorite was winning the (First Edition) Queen of Mugs Café (there was also a King). I mean...first, I don't win anything...so it was pretty sweet. The thing is though that the whole crown, queen thing felt like it was coming more from God than Mugs...Yes, I know exactly how that sounds...but it did/does. I am not really the queen of anything...ever. Yet, I was reminded this weekend, to whom I belong, and to Him....I am a queen.

Where is the nirvana in your life? Is it right there? Are you missing it?

Note: Today I watched the film "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and downloaded the soundtrack. The film took me a moment, but it is one I will watch again to make sure I am "getting" it. I haven't been able to get it out of my head since the closing credits. There is something there...I am sure if I figure it out, I will write about it. ;) :)))

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Permission To Dream

Permission.

I have both loved and loathed that word.

In October 2013, part of the C7 returned to Colorado for the Advanced Captivating Women's Ministry Retreat. One of us had gone through a considerable amount to get there and while sitting in a comfy chair in front of a roaring fire during a break she told the tale. Suddenly I heard "permission" and asked her to say that part again. She said, "My mother gave me permission to attend." Say what?!?! A grown woman, wife, mother, and her mother GAVE her permission. Yes. Gave. Offered. Freely. Her grandfather was dying and no one knew when and her mother said, "Go. God wants you to go. It is what your grandfather would want." *Sigh*

I have never forgot that story, her face when she told it, or my dropped jaw reaction to it. I doubt I ever will.

That day in what was the safest of safe zones, she taught me "permission" and what it really meant.

I only wish I had a nickel for every time I have used that story (paraphrasing and with no names) to make a point with someone of the importance of giving others permission to....fill-in-the-blanks here.


When was the last time you gave someone "permission" to do something opposite of what you wanted, social norms, expectations, or just because??? Yeah...before that day...me neither...I had not. Not.

I am a girl born and raised on you make your bed, lie in it. You put that on your plate, eat it. Not to mention any other number of nonsensical approaches to life.

*Yeah...I just used the word nonsensical in a sentence. :)))) Shoot. Me.*

Today I was given permission to dream, to stay as long as I want in my third place that is currently packed and write, to skip a meeting for another meeting, to send something "when I could," and any number of other permissions I am given on a daily basis....that before October of last year...I did not realize them for the gift that they were....

Today I gave permission to others....to be late to work, to be late to a meeting, to cut a meeting short, to bring me the wrong order, to leave early, to be a douche canoe (yes I said it, and yes I gave someone permission to act like one (for a hot minute)), to just be...Who. They. Are.

No one needs our permission (most of the time) and no needs to give us permission (most of the time), but what does that mean when someone says, "Go. It is okay." or any other forms of "permission" that we give each other on any given day? What does it mean to be purposeful in the offering of that permission? To look someone in the eye and say, "Go. It. Is. Okay."?

It. Means. Everything.

Tonight I am sitting in one of my favorite "third places" typing up a concept paper for a non-profit who today gave me/our firm permission to dream and now I have to put those dreams on paper. At one point in the writing, I converted to bullet points because the dreams were coming quicker than I could type, and I was frankly afraid I would lose some of them. *Nerd. Alert.*

I am near tears sitting here in a public place typing dreams in a word document. Who. Does. That.?!?!

*Deepest of Sighs*

Okay...I just cried a little...waiter signaled from across the way with thumbs up and mouthed, "Okay?"...Good. Grief. My thumb goes up and awkward smile.

*Sigh*

While sighing and drifting off, just now, I gazed awkwardly out the window and saw a homeless man walking down the sidewalk. When he came upon a group of people, he moved to the side without hesitation, allowing them to pass before continuing on. Not a one of them even acknowledged him. WTH?!?!

Who gives him permission to do anything at any point in his day?

Well, I completely went off the rails for a moment. My apologies. Dreams and heart just collided for a hot minute.

Today my partner and I took a moment at the end of our day to weigh out the highs and lows, wins and losses, and assess. At the end of it, we came to the conclusion that we were placing expectations on some of our team that were unfair...meaning we were expecting our drive in them. Not. Possible. It led to a very interesting discussion about people's drive, highest and best use of people's time, expectations, etc. We are making some changes starting tomorrow. We hope the changes will lead to the magic bullet. We are willing to risk it. Why? Because we have good people and we want to give them permission to be their highest and best...not just for our firm, but in life. That is a tall order, but a worthy one to strive for...and we are willing to invest the time to figure it out. We also are deeply invested in giving ourselves and others "permission" in work, and in life.

So....I digressed.

When was the last time you gave someone permission? When was the last time you were given permission?

Allow me.

I give you permission to dream.


What do you want to be when you grow up? What makes your heart flutter? What brings tears to your eyes when you think about doing/saying/being it? Where do you want to go? Live? Who do you want to love you? Who do you want to love? What hobby do you want to pick up? What buried dream or desire needs to be unearthed?

Permission.

Isn't it beautiful?

I have completely changed my tune about the word. I see it for all of its possibility, but mostly for the gift that it is to someone else...or just ourselves...to Be.

Beautiful.

Tomorrow I challenge you to be purposeful in giving yourself and others permission. Trust me on this.

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

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Roots and Wings Quilted With God's Love


The call of the unknown is SO strong in some that they must feed the wanderlust in their soul...Daily.

Today sweet Nora Gunn (one of my adoptees) heads out on a new adventure. I have many different emotions about this next leg of her life's journey. Mostly, I am proud that she was brave enough to try something new despite her own fears (and others). I have never regretted the adventures I took...only the ones I did not.

I feel this cross-tug of fear and adventure pulling at others in my life (especially another college girl in my life). I know how debilitating it can be and so I struggle to share too much "preachy" advice (though I am sure the youngins' in my life would say I don't restrain myself enough ;) ), and I work to pray more for each of them.

My Sis and I were talking about this yesterday and how difficult it is to both give children wings and a foundational heart. She and I spend time second-guessing ourselves I am sure based upon our own troubled childhood. That said, I admire both her and David's ability to do both with their three, and I am partial, but I believe they are doing an excellent job. As an adoring aunt (to both natural and adopted nieces and nephews), I am not sure I am as adept at it. *Sigh*

Sometimes it is hard to remember that we have all lived (or are living) our lives, adventures, and dreams (whatever all of those are)....and that we have to let our children do that too. I see parents try to keep their children in the same town, the same career, the same church, the same adventures as they did...as a way to protect them or keep them...close. That breaks my heart. I don't (personally) believe we were meant to be carbon copies of our parents. Sure, I wish I could spend 24/7 with many members of my family (including several extended), but that is simply not possible and live the life God meant for me. *Deep Breath*

Well....this just became less about two young women and a lot about me. *Pause*

The C7 Group Text is on FIRE this morning...:))))....Sherri just sent this to us..."The House of God is the picture of God's intention for your life and for everything you do. He wants a house where He will dwell, where angels ascend and descend on assignment and the heavens are open over a people who abide in Him meaning they stay connected in their affection and love for Him. God wants so much to invade this world with the reality of what was purchased on Calvary. But He waits for a people who will live the normal Christian life, putting themselves at risk, constantly tapping into the invisible resources of heaven that have been standing idle. That is how we function as the house of God."

So....what is normal???

I have had several conversations with Nora and others about the world's lies (and sometimes our own) on what is normal and what is not. I wanted normal once. I wanted it so badly I could taste it. The journey to acceptance of myself as anything but....not to mention my life, my walk, my core...My. Heart....well it has led to many conversations with my own "kids" and transparency of where Aunt Heather was and where she is now...and what that means. Even more, the lessons that I have learned through the process. Just this weekend in a rather intense conversation with Jon, he said to me, "Aunt Heather it isn't that you were bad." Bless him. *Gentle Tears* I softly replied, "No honey, but my heart was not well. It and my soul were broken, and I neither knew or had the tools to do anything about it. Sometimes life breaks us when we are little and the years only compound the brokenness. Not everyone has perfect childhoods or lives, and even those that look as they do...don't really. Only God can heal the brokenness deep inside of us. Only He can make us whole. That said, we have to let him. The journey of the past several years is in letting God be God in my heart...not just my life. That is the difference."

Bless these kids that think Aunt Heather has words to offer. They will be the death of me. Take. Me. Out. {...and in the middle of Wal-Mart no less...}

So....sweet Nora...and all of the others who are searching for adventure, love, wholeness, their happy, and the many others things that feel they are missing....and sometimes actually missing. Go have your adventures....sieze the day....travel the world....open your minds and your hearts....but in the midst of all of that do not forget to whom you belong for God is always there with you. Don't forget your roots and the foundation of family (natural or adopted) that loves you...unconditionally. Feet firmly on the foundation of roots and wings that soar on the wind of the dreams in the air around you. Be. You.

I am a little weepy today. It has been a weekend for my heart.

I love you Nora. My arms are always here to hold you. My ears here to listen. My mouth to give you words of encouragement. Adventure on pretty girl.


Adventure Sunday! God is moving....in my heart. Bless Him. :))))

"God's most memorable times with us are when we're speechless before Him." ~ Love Does, Bob Goff

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Falling In Love...Again

Clearly enraptured with Judy's girls dancing on the lawn at Sherri's wedding.
We all go through seasons of life...highs, lows, trials, bliss...and we all make it through them. One way or another.

I find myself tonight...sitting in what is becoming my second favorite "third place" (think Mugs Café by day and this gem by night ;) )....sipping a glass of wine (I can walk home from here), laptop fully charged, greetings having met me at the door, and a big smile on my face. It isn't just the location or the familiarity tonight though...it is more....

I am entering a new season.

I just grinned from ear-to-ear. The people at the table next to me suddenly gave me an odd stare. :)))

I digress...

It just hit me this afternoon...Wow.

I have been tracking my "seasons" for a few years now. A lesson I learned in one or some of the many books I have devoured since late 2011/early 2012. I feel like I have been on quite the journey. This past weekend one of the C7 asked me about something in my life I have spoken of so little I can count the times on one hand minus fingers. It was an innocent enough question, but it opened a Pandora's box. There sitting outside having breakfast looking out on the Blue Ridge Mountains...as my breakfast went from hot to cold...I shared. I didn't cry or get angry. I just shared. And then I breathed. Deeply.

I think I knew then that something was clicking in some dark cavern, but the weight of the discussion coupled by the need to stay on schedule didn't allow me the time to mull on it. Until now...sitting alone at my favorite table nibbling on a yummy dinner and exhaling from the third day in a row of roller coaster madness in my life...professional and personal....which have quilted together so beautifully these past nearly two years. I love God so much for that.

I digress...

So...first, I need to say thank you to the C7 (two of them were with me at the time) for obeying the instinct that said ask and the further one that said listen and the last one that said love her...anyway. *Tears*

That table is definitely staring now....;)

I am fully in love with my life....and that is the season I am in. I know it will get better...and worse...in the days and months to come, but this overarching season may very well be my favorite so far in all of my life. I cannot ever remember feeling this peaceful, content, excited, needed, wanted, loved, accepted...I don't ever remember allowing myself to "do life" like this. My post the day after the wedding Doing Life Together generated a lot of buzz for me. The reality is...none more than in my own spirit. One of my oldest friends, a 20 year friendship, did not respond well to it. The conversation that transpired was difficult for us both. They are not "doing life" and they were none to happy that I was....the whys and wherefores are not nearly as important as the love between us accepting and closing a door with each other that our friendship was long past a healthy place. We love and respect each other deeply, but the door is now closed. *Deepest of Sighs*

I have learned to give others permission to say good-bye to me, and now I am learning the painful lesson of saying good-bye to others. I deeply hope to not have too many of these; it is brutal. On. My. Heart. God is all in it though. God knows that only he can be all things to someone. I have to trust him to do that and be that....and trust that he knows what is best for me. *Gentle Tears*

Have I mentioned growth sucks lately?!? :)))

It does.

It is also the damndest thing...because it is growth. GROWTH. My heart is expanding. My mind is open. My soul is free. My body...bless it...is healthy. God is right here with me, and he is cheering me on...loudly. Even more loudly than the C7. He knows every inch of where I have been and even more...every inch of where I will go. I am grateful for his patience. I have not been an easy pupil, and I am not conceding that I will be a gem from this day forward...but I am better. Better. *Broad Smile* ;)

So I am in love. You heard it here first. ;)

I am in love with my life. :))))

I am entering a season of peace, and I am loving the way that this feels. I don't know that I have had this sensation before...I wish I were kidding. I feel like a kid.

I am going to do a post soon about some of my favorite things right now...that just came to me...take that Oprah. Maybe no one cares, but I am suddenly tickled to death to write about some of the songs, books, third places, events, etc. that are tripping my trigger.

I will give you a sneak peak....Nehemiah. I am devouring that book like it is a Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake. Between my Sis' church series and a book I found at Lifeway, I have fallen in love with this book of the Old Testament. I also have fallen in love for the second time with Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. Don't judge the book (or do) by its title. It is loving, thoughtful, thought provoking, sweet, and full of beautiful words...by Sarah and quotes you have loved for years and new ones you will fall in love with....I read it for the second time on the plane on the way home from North Carolina, and I was dancing in my seat. It moves me in some special place in my spirit. I highly recommend. I am listening to a lot of Indigo Girls and Hillsong's new album No Other Name. There is a lot of GREAT music out there. I am watching a lot of great baseball this summer. My nephew is on FIRE! I am sending a lot of notes and cards. I had gone dark for awhile, but my grateful heart is making time for expressing my deepest gratitude to others. Things like that matter, and I am loving hearing from people who receive one. To give is SO much better than to receive. Finally, I am doing better with calls and messages. Making time to call someone out of the blue...Lee Henson....and check in. It means more to me than they know, and I need to do that more. I have hidden behind the word "busy" far too long. Busy is a choice. I did more business in the airport on Thursday flying to NC than anywhere. I can get a lot done in a short amount of time. So I can also carve time out to be present with others. Working to do that more. Be better. I told my team this week....we need to be more deliberate in our speech and actions...I was talking to me more than them.

Katie and I laughing at Sherri's Wedding
So....I am in love...with this latest season of my life where God has blessed me with peace...deep down in my being. I am savoring every last bit of it...by relaxing in it.

I am committed to "doing life" with those in my life. The blessings of just that simple shift in my heart is worth....Everything.

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

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Doing Life Together

Our girl got married yesterday.

In what can only be described as the Bohemian, Love Child Princess meets God's most perfect lush explosion of flowers and lush forest on the top of the world looking over the Blue Ridge Mountains...Our girl married her boy.

God was all over that place. God was all over them. Love, joy, tears, and laughter permeated every square inch of that mountain top. I. Have. Never.

I wept through most of the ceremony including while I was reading the passage from John and Stasi Eldredge's Captivating that Sherri had selected and asked me to read as a representation of the C7.

We ate and danced and laughed to exhaustion. One of the C7, Judy, brought her husband and three littles (the two girls are officially C7 Mini Mes (the group is always amused how I "name" things). They added a sense of joy and light to the festivities that cannot be measured.

Last night as some of us were crashing, Kacey asked, "What was your favorite part of the day?" Besides the obvious...Every. Single. Part....it has to be Sherri and Tim's dance. It was to Kari Jobe's Beloved. A song that was played at Captivating and Sherri had this wonderful dream/vision...and we have prayed that dream with her...today...right in front of our eyes...God gave Sherri and Tim...their Beloved. I had one of the littles in my lap...sweet Katie....who I desperately wanted to smuggle home with me. I am weeping and smiling as Sherri and Tim dance to Beloved with Katie snuggled up in my lap wrapped up in my pink pashmina (I must send her one), and she says,"Miss Heather isn't she beautiful?" "Yes," I answer. Then she asks, "Are those happy tears?" "Yes, Katie, they are happy tears. God answered all of our prayers today...our girl is Happy and a Beloved and a Beauty." Katie snuggled in deeper and sighed a little, "Mmmm..." she sighed/whispered. God, I so love the heart of a child.

I am digressing a lot....

As I fell asleep last night and awoke far too early this morning, I couldn't get the pastor's words during the ceremony out of my head about being a couple who lives grace.....about them and us doing "life" together.

Which made me thing about a post I wrote yesterday morning that I kept as a draft so that I could give myself time to mull over it. The post is raw and real...and says maybe too much.

So...here I sit on this deck in the wee hours of the morning looking over the Blue Ridge Mountains feeling tremendously grateful, feet throbbing a bit from the dancing ;), and working through the restlessness in my head and heart over that phrase "doing life together" and all that means.

I believe with all that I am that God sent the C7 to us at the perfect time so that we could "do life together" not simply through a season, but over the breadth and depth of our lives. I don't write that a lot or say that a lot, but ever since we all chose the same table, against the wall, with the sunshine beaming in on it (the only one that did), all of us signing up for this Captivating adventure solo to go spend time on a remote mountain with 300+ women we didn't know of all backgrounds, faiths, places, etc. from all over the world...God did that. God brought us there. That moment in time. He chose us to do life together. The surreal thing, even now for me, is when we left four days later with addresses, e-mails, and phone numbers...we still had no clue about who did what, work, stay-at-home mom, spouses, religions....all things we would learn in the days, weeks, and months to come. In that four days we learned about each other's hearts, souls, fears, our search and work with God in the inner parts of who we are...we prayed together before meals...we did learn who ate what ;)...but we just learned the deep inner parts. The life...the rest of doing life together would come...later.

Even to write all of that...two years later...leaves me shaking my head, crying, and breathing differently. Who does that??? C7. God. Not necessarily in that order. :)))

I have had friendships. Family. All of us did.

Doing life though? With a group of people? I don't know that I ever had that before C7. Sadly, I know I didn't. Not because I didn't have amazing people in my life...but because I was ill-equipped to do it. *Sigh*

If I am a better sister, friend, whatever...today. It is because of the C7. They have taught me how to do life with people...a tribe. My conversations are deeper. My relationships more fruitful. My heart more open. There are tougher things too. I have lost friends, loved ones...not everyone wants to do life like this with others, and I completely get, respect, and honor that...because I was a slow learner too. Maybe someday. I have hope. To do life with someone is to have a deeper truth spoken to you than you ever had, but served up with a greater love and grace than you ever known. The conversations between us are not always easy...sometimes rarely so....there are seasons, but they are real, raw, grace-filled, enveloped with love...they are from safe people in a safe zone that we have created between us with God. It is magical.

Which gets me back to yesterday....the wedding of our girl. If there is a way to start your life together...they nailed it. I have been to a lot of beautiful weddings...magical ones even, but theirs felt different....there was an air of peacefulness and joy and love that could not be quantified. I really felt like if I stepped outside of the rock walls surrounding us, I would find myself on a cloud floating above the earth. It did not feel of this world. It absolutely felt like we were experiencing a bit of heaven. Sherri's joyful laughter crackling in the air throughout the day. She was the most joyful bride I have ever seen. Ever.

So this is what it means to do life with people...I have been missing out, doing it wrong, and I am sorry for that...for myself, but more for those in my life. I hope I have gotten better, but I know that I have more lessons to learn from my sweet C7 on doing life with others. I am blessed that so many are loving me through it.

Yesterday Katie looked up at me out of the blue and said, "I am so glad I met you." Me too Katie. Me too.

Sending love and light to everyone from the incredibly gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. My joy tank runneth over. My heart is full. The tears are falling like rain. They are happy tears (Yes Katie!). Yes they are. :)))



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