Saturday, November 11, 2017

Everything Is Changing

Oh 2007....with your littles and their silly faces.

Everything is changing.
 
I thought I liked change. I have been known to boast that I excelled at change, loved it. So....have I changed or was I a liar all those years? Maybe a little of both.
 
*Deep Sigh*
 
Someone I love more than life is in failing health, and I am left to sit on the sidelines waiting for scraps of information. I made choices that I believed to be unselfish, but those choices feel foolish right now. Is my heart not worth something I am left to wonder...
 
Isn't that the crux of most of my brokenness though? Yours?
 
People made choices for us. We make choices for ourselves. All of us are left to live with them.
 
I long for a day when I don't have a moment or an hour where I don't feel the pain of regret. Maybe that is too much to ask for on this side of heaven. Truly. The older we get, the more we have to regret. The conversation(s) we did or did not have this past week. The choice we did or did not make. The person we hurt, or the hurt towards us we left unchecked. It goes on and on. Being healthy doesn't solve it all either, oh but it did....I find myself wrestling over the good choices or the good words as much if not more than the bad. Why is that? Where did all of this second-guessing, questioning, self-doubt come from? Why can't I shake it? Why can't I get healthy enough?

Why can't I get healthy enough?

Whoa.
 
Why does "getting healthy" feel like just one more thing I could fail at?
 
I just put my head in my hands....
 
My counselor asked me something this week...."Why isn't it okay to just sit in the tension, the hurt?" Ummmm....because I thought all of this time and money and energy was going to FIX THIS. FIX me.
 
I don't deserve to be in pain.
 
I have seen too much. Felt too much. I know that my life with all of its pain is not the worst story out there, and I feel guilty for feeling bad. I should be happy. I should be able to weather the storms better. Glide through the loss. Deal with the grief.
 
I don't though. The truth is that I really feel like I am FEELING everything more now than I ever have before, and lets be clear.....THAT is saying something as I am a BIG feeler. In the words of my Sis, I have ALL the feels. Sure people tease me about it, but sh*t...spend a day inside of this heart, this mind. It will take you out. It takes me out.
 
Sometimes I feel like I am just a walking sponge, absorbing the emotions of everyone in my vicinity. It is exhausting. I also struggle with how to respond appropriately....whether the person is mad/sad/glad/rude/etc. More often than not, I am left silent and slack-jawed, frozen. Some believe this is just another aspect of an INFJ (which I am), but while an unhealthy INFJ will fight....I am finding that a healthier INFJ will freeze. Why? Well, my best assessment is that I am still working on my processing skills so in an effort to not fight (bad reaction), I freeze as a "healthier" alternative. Only problem is that some really bad things have happened in my past where I froze, and I have a lot of guilt over them....why didn't I stand up for myself, yada yada....so every time I freeze, it is triggering something in me that says, "See....you are not strong....yada yada." So...I am fighting that while STILL working to healthy process whatever has happened....that leaves a very noise mind sometimes. Oh....and a broken heart.
 
So what does all of this have to do with change. Well, everything.
 
Change is a part of life, and if you are a broken hot mess, change will leave you crashing your broken self all over others, leaving destruction in your wake. I have been on both sides of this; I can testify.
 
I don't want to be that person. The person that responds from a place of pain. I am plenty tired of living with all of my past mistakes in this area....I don't want any fresh ones. That is the thing though about past mistakes...you have to live with them....all the way to the end.
 
So what to do with this bleeding heart?
 
Love it. Live from it. Treat it well. Give it away. Let it grieve when it needs to grieve.
 
This is life. This is living. This is change.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Build My Life

Lord, build my life.

I cannot get the lyrics of the song "Build My Life" out of my head...

Let me be clear. I just went up the escalator at the DFW Airport where I am scheduled to catch a flight home to Little Rock, and I caught my reflection in the glass across the way, and I DID. NOT. RECOGNIZE. MYSELF.

At. All.

God continues to rebuild my life from the inside out....the outside in....and in the steps, paths, roads that lie ahead.

I don't know myself.

I don't know my old self anymore, but I also don't really know this new self.....but I like her. I like her very much.

I like the way she jumps on planes.

I like the way she jumps into uncomfortable and unknown situations.

I like the way she laughs with (and a little at...) her friend, like a hyena in a hotel room in the wee hours, at the most RIDICULOUS thing and on the tail-end of an intense two day conference.

I like the way she doesn't sweat/panic (as much) when she sees a text or email from the office.

I like the way she doesn't respond immediately to messages as if the world ends if she doesn't get right back with someone in a split second.

I like the way she dresses.

I like the way she dresses for the airport (oh how I wish you could see me right now).

I like the way she can laugh at herself and share publically her TSA humiliations.

I like the way she talks about the future with open hands, a shoulder shrug, and a "God has it."

I like the way she is mobile with nothing but a cell phone, I.D., and a credit card. {oh and a tissue...because #noseissues}

I like the way she owns her singleness, her past sin and shame, and talks about the parts her, Jesus, and the enemy all played in the past that landed her here...now.

I like the fact that her mani/pedi game is imperfect and she doesn't care.

I like that she has learned (and continues to learn) that not every call/text/email is an emergency that she is solely responsible to address/solve.

I like that she buys a Texas t-shirt because her friend asked her what she is going to do when she moves there, and she wants to surprise her with a text message with a photo of her in the t-shirt saying....I'm there. Wherever you go, I go. You don't lose me.

I like that she keeps trying to be a better friend, sister, aunt, leader....and yet confesses daily that she falls short while picking herself up the floor to try again.

I like that she sits in a bar in an airport, in the middle of the afternoon, so she can charge her phone, write in peace, and sit in comfy chairs. Also, 3 p.m. in an airport bar shows you a side of life that is #priceless and beautiful.

I like that airports still leave her misty-eyed because this is a slice of heaven here. All of these people, from all corners of the earth, traveling for family or friends or missions or work or just because.

I have spent oodles and gobs of time and energy this past 5-7 years peeling myself back like a grape so as to inspect every single thing about myself and my life. I have let others do it to me. Hell, I paid (paying) someone to do it. I have listened to ALL the criticism that has been launched at me for everything from how I live my life to how I dress, wear my hair, do my nails, where I go/don't go, old relationships, how I lead, how I don't lead....and on and on.

Oddly enough, most of that criticism came from a fearful little girl stuck inside of her.

That little girl has grown up. She is older, wiser, and more loving....to herself.

Here is the deal....you cannot really love others well until you learn how to love yourself well. Not selfishly, well.

I think those lessons are really starting to take hold.

...and here is another thing...

Once you let go of the fear about who and what you are, the future feels...

LIKE A DEEP BREATH FROM YOUR VERY SOUL

...and you exhale, smile from somewhere deep you haven't explored yet, and you laugh.

Lord, build my life.

My future is still scary and uncertain and risky, but I simply do not care...I will not be worried about it....God has it and me....and I like the girl who looked back at me on the escalator today. I like where God is taking her, and I don't even know where that is yet.....

Imagine. That.

Happy Saturday from Gate D in Dallas.....



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Rhythm of Grace in Growth

I thought I was doing pretty well...
 
Then this morning happened....and then counseling this afternoon. Suddenly in a puddle of tears with a quivering lip, I started sobbing quietly.
 
When your counselor says, "What just happened there?" and you nonchalantly say, "What?" and she keeps digging. Good. Grief. When am I going to learn? When?
 
I had gotten defensive with my counselor.
 
"Back up the bus girl," I thought to myself trying to pull back whatever I had said or done that had alerted her something was wrong. It was too late.
 
Sh*t.
 
Right before counseling, my business partner had been a douche which set off a shame trigger which left me hyperventilating all the way to my counseling session, but as bad as that was on its own - the real zinger was that when my counselor questioned my language toward myself, I responded with, "That is the third time you have pointed that out." #defensivemuch
 
Yup I am.
 
The last several weeks have been full of interaction after interaction where I don't feel seen or heard or my feelings respected. The old Heather would have lined it all out and 'splained how the cow ate the cabbage to the offender. New Heather is wrapped up trying to process whatever the interaction triggered as I try to hide my shattered heart or broken ego. For a recovering hard ass, this leads to a pretty hot mess emotionally.
 
Combine all of that with me checking off my straggling list like a beast the past two weeks, and I am left pretty raw in this new normal of what do I do without all of these old, ill-fitting yokes on me? There is fear in freedom; that is why we like chains (though we all deny it because who wants to admit THAT?!?!?).
 
Encouragement from my friend Lesley - Just In Time
 
I think the hardest thing to do is accept ourselves when we change...even for the better.
 
The second hardest thing to do is accept ourselves as others AWKWARDLY and PAINFULLY adjust to our change....even when we and they know the change is for the better.
 
My business partner apologized when I got back, and I accepted. I also had to firm up some boundaries with him as awkward as it still makes me to use my words about them. We are learning/growing. I am proud of us.
 
I am learning to give myself permission to use my voice with others in new ways. Telling them when they hurt me, when they break a boundary, etc. I feel like everyone around me is having to re-learn Heather. I hate it for them and me, but these are necessary lessons. New Heather is happier....and really doing better (as hard as that is to acknowledge after today).
 
This morning I was reading Joshua and I got to 3:8 and read "'When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'" How had I missed that part before...'stand still'? I was undone.
 
So I though....maybe the problem isn't that I can't get all of this right as much as I simply suck at standing still. What is happening in my life right now isn't going to unfold due to my hustle (at getting better or being better), it is going to unfold due to my stillness in and with God. I need to have faith that God is doing a good and mighty work EVEN when I am not doing a thing. That was a pretty deep thought this morning before 5 a.m., but over 10 hours later plus a counseling session - I get it.

"Heather, take the next first step and then stand still....THERE. Let your toes feel the dirt beneath them. Stay steady. I will tell you where to go next. Wait. On. Me." - Love, God.

Okay....

Where is that dang monkey of mine??? LOL

I hope you will give yourself permission to be okay - and then not okay - and then okay again. This is the rhythm of grace in the growth, and it is okay too. Just like me and you.



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Saying Good-bye To Museums and Altars

Yesterday I wrote a post on where I am at as it pertains to my "straggling list" and to be honest, I didn't see myself writing on it, or in general, again anytime soon.
 
As I sat in the floor of my guest bedroom opening box/tub, one after another, literally FEELING my way through them, I thought isn't it strange how we change.
 
Five years ago, I would say that I had a pretty enviable book collection. One that had been cultivated and added to with care over the years. In some ways my collection represented my heart, trying to recapture the past while building for a future, and numb to my present. During the my #threeyearpurgefest I left my books for last and was surprised by how many I gifted to friends and family or simply gave away. At the time, I was simply trying to finish well the purge; I had to put aside the fact that I had one pretty large asset left to sell and empty.
 
When I sold my cabin and land last year, my niece packed up my books. In hindsight, that was a pretty gnarly task. The books filled TUBS upon tubs. When I bought, designed, and built that home, I had anticipated it to not only be my singular future home (down the road) and office, but ground zero for all of my future treasures. In some ways, I see now that I was building it to be a museum.
 
I just finished going through the last of it, and I now have ten more boxes (in addition to some I already had) to gift to others/ship out, another couple of boxes of donations, and a bag of garbage.
 
You know what else I have???
 
Closure. A sense of self-awareness. Healing.
 
I wish I could go back and un-live some stuff. I sure wish I had some money I invested back. I wish I had not lived in denial or the past for so long. I really wish my brokenness hadn't hurt so many people. I wish a lot of things, but....
 
But, the truth is that I don't live there anymore. I don't live in the past...not of who I was then or the pain I operated out of...that is not me anymore.
 
The funny thing is that it took a lot of packed up books to show me that who I am TODAY is the person who's skin I am living in, and this girl isn't into museums of my past or building altars to my future. I am swimming in the present of who and where I am today, and that is plenty for me. I am satisfied with the present.
 
Now this doesn't mean I don't dream or plan. I do. Oh do I.
 
Scarcity.
 
I wrote a lot about it during the purge; I learned a lot about how I operated from it and why. Scarcity touched on this part too....this need I had to restore what was lost and store up for the future. Those are lies the enemy sold me. That I didn't have enough. That I could get what was lost back. That I couldn't trust God. That I had to depend on myself. That I had to keep hustling and storing up or I would be left with nothing - nowhere to live, nothing to eat, and no one to take care of me. It was all on me. A life of abandonment and poverty (at times) sank those wounds deep into a child, and they took root. Every single part of me was operating from them. Every asset I acquired. Every relationship I had - friend or family, work or personal, alive or dead. Every job I took. Everything rooted in a scarcity mentality.
 
I have often said privately, that the last five years have felt a lot like a girl finding herself. Who am I really? What do I love to read? What do I love to eat? What do I like to drink? What do I like to do in my spare time? Oh and the 2016 epiphany - at what pace was I built to live my life (before brokenness)?
 
You combine all of that with a lot of growing up emotionally - #counseling - that is a lot of change for anybody, but you know what - I wouldn't change a thing. It all brought me to here.
 
Here.
 
I had a beautiful book collection, and I still do. It is more than half of what it once was though, and for that I am genuinely glad. Some people over the next few days will start receiving packages of books. Books I once read and loved. Books I have never read, simply perused. Books I have ADORED reading again and again. All amazing books, yet I no longer need them. My home is not a museum or an altar. It is simply a home. A place to rest. A place to study. A place to eat. A place to share. A place to be alone.
 
Just. A. Home.
 
I get asked a lot how in the world I downsized so much AND how can I live such a "small" life (i.e., space) now.
 
The real question is how did I survive so much for so long without drowning in so much STUFF.
 
The truth is that similar to Jonah, I got swallowed by a big fish, and one day God told the fish to vomit me up. We don't have a nice clean ending to the Jonah story in the Bible. I like to think that Jonah took about five years getting pummeled with the lessons and one day he realized what a jerk he had been and all of God's lessons took hold in new ways and he started operating from God's desires which had been placed in his own heart and story. That is taking a lot of liberty with the story, not to mention the ending, but the bottom line is that the Bible is full of slow learners - so I am pretty sure I am in good company.
 
Fort Morgan, Alabama // August 2017
 
I see you God. I see you.
 
I love you.
 
Thank you.
 
//
 
Scriptures Speaking To Me //
 
"Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert." // Isaiah 43:19
 
And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." // Revelation 21:5
 
Books //
 
All Things New by John Eldredge can be pre-ordered at http://allthingsnew.com/ with special bonuses available for pre-ordering. I am part of a team that had the honor of reading an advance copy. This book will give you HOPE in a world that seems to work daily at stripping that away from each of us, and it will point you to the promises of God.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

When The Only Way Is Through

 I am addicted to the looking back and it is keeping me from moving forward.
 
I wrote those words on January 2, 2017 of this year HERE, and I went back this evening and read them, in full. If you are interested and have the time, I highly recommend doing a search of my blog by typing "straggling list" in the search engine in the upper left-hand corner, and read the handful that come up. January (and even one in April) was rich with words from God as I wrestled out this concept about a straggling list....okay, my straggling list. 
 
I sat it down though.
 
I sat that list down HARD.
 
Then my life got insane, and first I was working hard to hold on....and then to let go....and then I was enjoying some peace...and there was Chicago and Nashville and Colorado and Haiti and Kentucky.......and in each and every place I could hear God. He was SO clear, but I would get home and the list - not the actual list but the items on it - were literally staring me in the face. When you downsize from three homes to a 900 square foot one - ummm....you SEE everything.
 
Then the beach happened....I think it was the week leading up to the beach that was the catalyst, but either way God and I did some heavy lifting together, which looks a lot like letting go, and by the end of my week there I was in motion in a new way.
 
Yet.
 
That dang straggling list.
 
Then last weekend I had an epiphany, no more waiting. I had my 'signs and wonders,' my actual audible words, the whispers, the peace, the nervousness. God could not be more clear with me if he had quite literally came down in the form of a burning bush.
 
It was time.
 
This week became a blur. I was having the scary calls, sending the unsure emails, saying the words. I was slamming open the doors God was showing me with an "I'm in." - and I am. In fact in. ALL. The. Way.
 
Yet the straggling list isn't just about the doors that are opening, but the doors that are needing to be shut. Today, I finally started addressing those.
 
I cannot GO forward until I let go completely of the past. For the most part I have done that well. There are doors though that once you shut, not even a crowbar can open them. I know about these kind of doors. I'm no first-timer, so my reluctance comes more from experience than fear. I want to be sure. I need to be sure. Am. I. Ready. for that final good-bye?
 
I. Am.
 
When you do a purge that lasts three years and downsizes you from three homes to one, two cars to one, the stuff to fill three homes to just enough to fill 900 square feet - no one can accuse you of being a slacker. Yet I am, there were things that came up during that three years that I pushed aside. I literally could not deal with them. My final home sold nine months after the purge "officially" ended and lets just say there was fun there. Good. Times. So, I was left with a few boxes that felt like kryptonite for my heart. It wasn't that I was even sure what exactly was in them, I just knew that breaking them open could undo me. So I shoved them in a corner, and I forced myself to walk by them every single day for just shy of a year.
 
I. Am. An. Idiot.
 
...or a masochist.
 
or a little of both.
 
In my last counseling session, my counselor broached the subject of the straggling list right after I shared all of my peace and action from the beach trip....and I could have melted into the floor. Why did she have to throw a wet blanket on my mojo like that?!?!?
 
....because she knows that I can't move forward, really GO, until I let go of all those things that keep me looking back over my shoulder like Lot's wife.
 
A friend of mine sent me a prayer this morning after I sent a request for prayer to my C7 tribe. Click HERE to read - St. Patrick's Breastplate - also, let me plug Ransomed Heart Ministries' website and app as they have the most beautiful collection of prayers that you can listen to audibly, read, print, etc. Just powerful stuff for both those that have a strong prayer life and those that struggle in this area. Please check it out; I promise you will love it.
 
I digress.
 
The prayer was perfect as it mirrored my heart (here is a snippet) -
 
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
 
How beautiful is that?!?!
 
The fact of the matter is that sometimes you simply have to go THROUGH something; there is no magic pill or easy button. Just you, the sh*tty task, your toolbox full of ways to process said task, and most importantly God. The best thing in my life is my Heavenly Father. He simply loves me well, he loves me best.
 
It seems like I have been working through stuff for forever....and lets be clear, five years is a very long time. I am growing though. I am learning. I am living. I am getting a little better every day. Soon I will have these last few items behind me. Free at last. Like a prisoner who has had the prison gates thrown up and yet stays huddled in their cell, I have needed time to trust again - myself and others, even God. I have needed time to learn the lessons - like this one - which is that some of these last few chains - are ones I put on myself - all by myself.
 
Time to let go.
 
God is forming me into something new.
 
Papillon Marketplace, Haiti // God says, I am the potter and you are the clay.
 
Shop Papillon Marketplace :https://papillonmarketplace.com/
 
Go to Papillon's website to see all of the beautiful work their artisans make with their own hands. Purchases from Papillon are helping to keep Haitian families together. #orphanprevention
 
Music:
 
Music is my love language, and I don't know how God does it, but he sends me music (new and old) just when I need it. Today I heard Tenth Avenue North's "Control (Somehow You Want Me)" for the first time and nearly fell out. Followed by Christy Nockels "Who Can Compare" which caused me to spontaneously go into full worship before God because that song is quite possibly the best worship song ever written.
 
Take a listen. Good stuff.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Beauty In Leaning Into My Anxiety

I have anxiety.

That sentence alone takes more courage to write than I am comfortable admitting....which is to say I don't like that I have anxiety, and I like even less admitting that I do. So...there is that.

Anxiety was something other people had....right up until the moment my counselor used the word in a session with me....to describe what was happening to me. Me?! Me.

I have mentioned it a tad here and there, more alluding to it than owning it. You might say that I looked at it as something else in my life to be managed. Some days, like anything else, I was winning the battle, and others....not so much.

My coping mechanisms for my anxiety are as varied and awkward as I am. Funny, huh?!

There is the stuffed monkey I occasionally have to sleep with....awkward.

There are the ice cold washcloths that I have to apply to my chest, and if the attack is bad....my entire body.

There are the numbing mechanisms that range from a glass of wine, a glass of scotch, a cigar, a bacon double cheeseburger, a cherry sprite with light ice from Sonic, a M&M blast no whip from Sonic, Popeye's fried chicken, or just a fried food smorgasbord.

I have spent the past year and a half adapting healthy "coping" mechanisms and limiting or wiping out my "numbing" ones. I have learned a lot about my body, my mind, and I have tried to be open that I am working to re-learn what is "comfort" and what is "numbing" - and ALL of it makes me feel like a big loser because can't I just be normal.

*insert eye roll*

I can't. Neither can you. There are crosses we all have to bear, and this is one of mine. The truth is I have had functioning anxiety probably since I was eight years old. That too is hard to admit. The truth is that in the brokenness of my life back then, anxiety manifested, and coping mechanisms were born, and some of them helped to save my life....and others led to bad habits that I am now alerted to in my 40s and working to unwind as quickly and in the most healthy manner available to me.

Here is why I am writing this....

The enemy is coming at me now, TODAY, in new fresh ways that it has taken more than a hot minute for me to catch on to. So today I am laying down a fresh line in the sand RIGHT in the throes of what can only be described as an ongoing anxiety attack that is picking up steam by the day. I am actually typing right now even as my chest is exploding and my mind is ON FIRE. I am in the middle of an act of defiance. This is me giving the enemy the bird. So to speak.

This morning I watched Sarah Wilson talking about her new book "First, We Make The Beast Beautiful" and fell out in the floor. First, let me say, I am not sure how I even got to You Tube and the video. I was on her site looking at some travel photos because we all know that I have the world's worst case of wanderlust, and I follow her because she travels and blogs and takes amazing photos. She is also known for quitting sugar, but you know I don't follow her for that - don't even play. See above paragraph regarding my numbing mechanisms. Anyway, I watch her video and find a couple of snippets from the book, and I just am tripping out. Let's be honest. Tripping. Out.

Then for some reason, I go and find this book I have been reading entitled "A Theology of the Ordinary" by Julie Canlis which I started last weekend and for whatever reason did not finish EVEN though I talked about it ALL weekend. It is a great, fast read, and I highly recommend. Check out Amazon to snag a copy.

Anyway, suddenly the conversations I have been having with "my people" (and they all know who they are) since January of this year (and really for a LOT longer than that) just started falling into place.

I have been doing this ALL wrong.

The writing.

The counseling.

The creativeness.

The consulting.

The work.

The storytelling.

The....fill-in-the-blank.

Somewhere along the line my anxiety (or the enemy - you determine for yourself) had convinced me that while all of this STUFF coming at me like a tsunami was of God, I had to somehow corral it, guide it, get fixed (i.e., counseling) for it, manage it, run it....oh and fix myself too don't forget....because the eyes were on me, or they would be. It was about me.

Jesus Wept. (here is looking at you Jon)

I am not sure how I got that all distorted and jacked up, but I did because as soon as I got done with church (great lesson out of Thessalonians) - I sat down and sent the most long-winded dissertation to two friends that I knew would stop me if what I had "heard" was too far gone. Then, because something in me said, "Don't wait one minute longer." I didn't wait for their reply - I started lining up and out what was going to be needed to launch some of this creative hot mess that has been bubbling for so very long.

ALL the while, my anxiety rumbles on. I took a hot bath....resisted the urge to go buy out Popeye's and prayed.....and it would not let up. I got out and checked my messages knowing it was too soon for a reply....I mean one of them is in France.... #forthelove ....but it wasn't. Both of them...BOTH had replied...."Keep Going" and then I posted on my writing page. If I am going to be held accountable - that group is going to do it. Ten seconds, "the text" - if you don't have a Lesley in your life, you are missing out. I could see her silly grin through the text. She knew.

So here I am in the middle of an anxiety attack that is NOT letting up, and I am crying joyful tears - writing ALL the hard words - saying just enough that I am now accountable and not too much to ruin the surprises that will be unfolding. AND I am going to be okay. Why? Because God has me...he has my heart.

*as I wrote that I just got a text message from someone who saw a heart in a tree and sent it to me*

*another text from a friend starting counseling soon; first appointment made*

I hear you God. You love them. You love me.

Breathe pretty girl.

We are all out here living out our stories, and I for one think the beauty of life is in the sharing of those stories because God is ALL in them. Every wink to every laugh to every anxiety attack. He is in the icky sticky, the messy, the beauty, the loss, and the growth.

I am done fighting this anxiety. The fight is a distraction from the cause which is new creative growth. I am done fighting against what God is putting inside of me. I am opening the floodgates come what may.
 
"The Spirit gives us gifts to add to the body of Christ, so that the whole body can be on its mission together (Eph 4:12, Rom 12:4)." {from A Theology of the Ordinary}

On mission together.

I am leaning into that promise which results in me leaning into my anxiety.

How about that?
 
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. // Genesis 50:20

I have always admired Joseph faithful perseverance, but this verse is a reminder to me that God has the final say over my life, my circumstances, and yes....even the gifts he has put inside of me.

So here is to embracing what the world says we need to fix about ourselves and letting God use it for whatever his will dictates.

I am leaning into him.

It is time for the enemy to take a seat.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Writing. An Offering.

Hello.
 
I think this is how you start a blog post when it has been two months since you publicly shared....Here.
 
I have missed this...yet THIS seems to terrify me these days. Do I share EVERYTHING (or close to it) that is rumbling around in my heart, my brain, my soul? Do I work to keep things private, tucked close?....read that as safe. So, instead I have done nothing. Micro-blogging here and there...on Instagram and my Facebook writing page. Mainly I have been writing privately - journals, notebooks, my computer, and even in notes on my phone (imagine typing over a thousand words in one single note?! I. Did. That. There is something different though about writing here...in this sacred space where long ago I started writing.....just because...for me.
 
Who knew?
 
So here I am.
 
These days I am equally terrified and joyful of the steps ahead of me, but this living in the present is not for the faint of heart. At least not like this.....healthy.
 
Healthy. Who knew I would ever use that word to describe myself. I am though. Truly. I am as healthy as I have ever been, and no one is more truly surprised than me. Healthy has its own troubles though....as I am learning. I am struggling through those as artfully as I did unhealthy, which is to say that I am ALL the awkward and like a giraffe fresh from the womb wondering what in the world these four sticks are underneath me.
 
*deep breath*
 
The truth of the matter, and I didn't realize it until I left counseling, drove to my favorite park, spit out a little micro blog post on Instagram, and then took a breath. It was if just peeling it back a little wasn't enough today. So I started a list of ALL the things we had discussed in counseling....was something there unsettling me...still?
 
Then I started writing....
 
"....if I am honest -
 
I don't want to do anything. I am tired - literally. And living on purpose, healthy, and intentional in all ways is exhausting.
 
When can I sleep without a giant to do list over my shoulders?"
 
 
...and now we are getting somewhere....the heart of the matter.
 
....and here is the rest of it.
 
I am doing too much.
 
....and if you are really honest....so are you.
 
Why are we doing too much? I don't know EXACTLY as I am sure it is a little different for everybody, but I started reading this little quick read this weekend called "A Theology of the Ordinary" by Julie Canlis, and it is freaking. me. out. in all of the best ways.
 
There is a part I read aloud to a friend this weekend....in talking about Moses post the big Red Sea moment it reads....
 
"Moses must have been fairly disappointed upon realizing that, after leading a people out of Egypt, his work had only just begun."
 
{I want to pause and let that sentence sink in....}
 
"For four hundred years they had been steeped in the cosmology of the Egyptian gods and goddesses. Without doubt they were God's people - but which story would seem to reflect reality? the one about humans being made in God's image? or the one they were living - that humans were created by the gods as slaves?
 
{Whoa.}
 
"So Moses was faced with a monumental task: not only to free the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh, but from Pharaoh's story. His task was to re-story* their understanding of who they were, who God was, and what the world was meant to be."
 
{*emphasis added by me.}
 
Pick. Me. Up. Off. The. Floor.
 
Where had I heard that before? I went searching. Of course a favorite author of mine, Mary DeMuth, has written about it....and after reading through her new website, I knew she was ahead of me on this path learning about the power of re-story, but I digress.....
 
So....I am relating with Moses in new ways....both on a professional level as I see a lot of this in my work, and most certainly in my private life as I am beginning to realize I am having to re-learn who I am anew....who am I healthy? so to speak....
 
So who am I? Who are you?
 
Well....sometimes God takes us to our knees, then he strips us down to the foundation and the studs....and then - and sometimes only then - does he begin to grow us back up. What that looks like for each of us is COMPLETELY different. Our God is nothing if not personal in how he relates to us.
 
So here I am being completely honest....God took me to my knees, we definitely found the foundation and the studs, and he has even started growing me back up....but there....well, I guess just like the Israelites, I am weak, and I have unfinished business to attend to. I have a few gold idols stuffed away in an overnight bag that I need to dispose of....and they are some biggies. Like the BIG ones. The ones I just couldn't bring myself to deal with....because.....I am weak, and it is okay to admit that.
 
So....for all of my growth, healing, and blessings upon blessings....I am still undone by the things I haven't let go of....EVEN though I know in the depths of my heart, I will be happier and more free on the other side of laying them down/giving them up.
 
So here is the funny thing, and yes, it is okay to laugh in the midst of deep growth.....If I wasn't continuing to grow, I wouldn't even notice the fact that the idols are still in my bag. The truth is I keep noticing them because they are keeping one leg in the past. I don't get that leg, unless I let go. There is no shaking it off. I have to cut it off and Let. Go.
 
My counselor asked me today, "What keeps you from being fully present with both legs right where you are?"
 
Hmmm.....I had to have her repeat it. Not once, but three times.
 
My heart knew what she was REALLY asking, but my mind was feverishly trying to figure out how to dodge the question.
 
*How is that for truth?*
 
The end.
 
The end keeps me from being fully present. I cannot say "The End" to those items, people, places, etc. that have made me who I am today - for better or worse - for I know that to lay an idol DOWN....truly means I will not ever take it back up. Can I let those idols go? Even more, can I forgive myself for the role I played in the life of those idols?
 
Deep thoughts for a shallow mind fresh out of a counseling session.
 
Important thoughts though.....for God has given me a taste of healing, and I want more. Do I want it more than I want the other? Isn't that the real question we all have to ask ourselves? Isn't that where the rubber meets the road? We want God, Jesus, healing, restoration......but just as long as we don't have to give up TOO much or change TOO much. I am guilty of those thoughts, the late night negotiations with God. I am also guilty of holding back these final slivers of trust that I have secretly (in my mind) withheld from God....can I trust him with these deep wounds, these specific wounds that have become idols all unto themselves? Those wounds that will break wide open when I lay them down. Will they be my undoing? My heart's undoing?
 
....and so who am I to judge the Israelites? After 430 years in slavery, maybe we can have a little empathy that being re-storied took a hot minute. Maybe we can have a little empathy for Moses in leading them through the process. Finally, our God is patient and loving....and he knows us. The gifting and the idols. He loves us and he is gracious in how he waits....and waits. While we keep running....
 
So, the final a-ha of the night.
 
Writing is a part of my worship. I just finished that last paragraph and "Broken Things" by Matthew West was playing, and I opened up my arms, palms up, and I offered up ALL of these words to God. I did all of that without pause or thought....because these words, these words are from him, coming through me, and I lay them down to him as an offering.
 
Heart Rocks, Haiti // Hearts...My Love Language w/God
 
Thank you God for giving me this outlet to process ALL that is happening inside of me. I am humbled if it helps just one. I am equally humbled if it helps none. It is his to use as he wishes. Where you go I will go. That is the promise.
 
SO.....this is ALL the words. So. Many. Words.
 
It feels good though....it feels good to write. Here.