Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Leadership and The Need for Show and Tell

This is going to be a fast one....

To know me well, as many dear friends do, is to know that when the urge hits to write, I start scribbling on whatever is handy....whip out my phone or computer....I simply MUST write.

Last night over dinner with an old, dear friend....I could feel a topic and words bubbling up so I scratched out a few words to remember....and now here I sit on my bedroom floor, dressed for work, wet hair, and I simply MUST write it down NOW.


// dinners with old friends who push you are the best //

*deep laughter*

We are surrounded by people and companies and politicians and even "leaders" that simply are terrified to actually LEAD. As a result we are being "led" by those who have no qualms to lead and/or those who have made operating in and from the status quo....well, an art form.

Once upon a time I had quite the reputation as a revolutionist. I was pretty proud of it too. I had some moments of bad*ssness, but I also had some pretty douche-filled moments. Either way, no one has ever accused me of being afraid to lead (though no one ever knew how terrified I was...and trust me, every leader has doubts).

I am continually shocked by those who are simply scared to lead. The costs too high....or the risk?!?! I simply don't know. It is an epidemic though, and if you don't believe me....look at your schools, Washington D.C., your church, your companies, and sadly....even our families.

To this I once said (oh that might have been two days ago...LOL), "Lead, follow, or get out of my way." Clearly....sometimes I still do. I get frustrated....still....sometimes easily. *deep sigh* I am trying to be more understanding...even when I see poor leadership from a distance so far I have zero influence over it.

I will say this though....we need to start conversations in our homes, our businesses, our churches, our schools....everywhere....on leadership. We need more people leading....leading well....but heck, I would take more people attempting to lead....At. All. Sure, you are not going to win a popularity contest leading. No one is going to call you their favorite or buy you gifts. You won't always be the "good guy" (male or female), but what you will be doing is breaking up the status quo and moving the ball down the field. We need great minds, innovators, pushers, big hearts, brave words, and in and amongst all of that we need leaders. Broken, flawed, transparent, vulnerable, bold leaders.

I once sought popularity. I did, and I am not proud of that.

Today?

Today, I want to change the conversation, move the ball, do the thing others say cannot be done, use my voice, know my worth, share my truth, throw out the crazy idea into a room or table full of smart people, try the unthinkable.

I hope you do too. We need more of YOU.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. It is time for more of us to step up and out, knees knocking, voice quivering, and heart exposed. Someone needs what you and me have to offer. Our gift. Our crazy idea.

Show and tell starts today.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

In Search of Beauty and Rest

This past weekend, I re-read the posts I wrote back in October 2012 when I was journeying to Captivating in Colorado for the very first time. I then read every post I have written since January 1, 2017. On the plane yesterday (I was in route from Little Rock - Dallas - Denver), I read my journal from Captivating 2012, cover to cover. Then, when I arrived in Salida, Colorado, yesterday afternoon, I got checked into my hotel and then walked straight down to the Headwaters of the Arkansas River. First. Thing.


Headwaters of Arkansas River, Salida, Colorado

Then I breathed.

My chest hurt. My eyes were moist. I felt a bubbling of joy inside.

It hurt to breathe.

So I just kept breathing.

My phone rang.

My business partner calling.

*can't a girl get a break*

We spoke...actually he spoke....and then when he finished, I advised him on the topic at hand. Then, quietly and calmly, I said this...."I love you. We have a lot of decisions to make. Strategies to consider. Right now I am worthless to you, to everyone. I have poured out of myself until I am dry. Dry. I need these next four days to get filled back up. I need to hear God. I need assurance that the words I am sharing with you, with our team, are from him and not me. I need wisdom and rest and a word from above. As nicely as I can say this, 'I need you and the children to leave me alone.'"

He responded with, "Go. Enjoy. I won't call again. We got this."

Thank you - I half said/half breathed.

My View While On The Phone

Why is it so hard for us to ask for a hot minute to rest?

Why is it so hard for those in our life to recognize that we cannot go at full throttle 24/7 without becoming dry?

Why??????

I love my life.

I love my healing.

I love the firm that I co-founded and built.

I love the promises God has put in my heart.

I hate that I still pour too much of myself out before filling back up. I hate that I let myself run dry.


...soaking it all in...

Colorado takes my very breath. I mean, still on the plane, as it comes into view, my mouth whispers, "There you are Colorado all blue and brown...and beautiful." It is spring. I have never been here in spring. It is equally as beautiful, and I am equally left breathless by it.

My chest BTW...still hurting this morning as I watch the sunrise over the water. It is something about the beauty being poured back into me. I let myself get so dry that it is like putting on stretchy jeans right out of the dryer....you have to sit in them a bit before they form to your body again.

Beauty is my breath.

It is my life force.

I need it. I need to capture it in photos. I need to write about it. I need to breathe it in. I need to touch it. I absolutely need to talk about it and share it.

I need beauty.

In beauty I also find rest.

Rest.

I have been tired for so long now, I am sick of hearing myself say it. It is not an "I need a good night's rest tired." It is a, I need to sit in quiet and breathe in nature for a month tired. It is an I don't know what to do with myself when I first get a bit of quiet. Yesterday, last night....oh my....you should have seen me. Ridiculous. I simply practiced taking deep breaths in silence as I walked around Salida, as I stared into the water, as I sat in my hotel room (which is beautiful)....just me and my breath. No music or television or distractions. Just me...and....my breath.

I am suddenly laughing as I type. Who admits to such ridiculousness? Me.

So here is the deal. I am driving into Captivating later today where I will spend four days on a mountain at a women's ministry retreat that 4 1/2 years ago recalibrated my life. It was the first time I felt God speak to me. It is where I met the C7. It is where I came to love silence. It is where I began to forgive God (which as some might recall, I didn't even know I was mad at). It is where I began to forgive myself. It is where I started learning about beauty and my soul. I am in desperate need of a refresher course...especially on that last one.

I am in love with so much of this life and healing God has given me over these past four years, but there is so much I have left to learn. Like what does a life unstructured look like for me? I have lived my life on a calendar for so long....specifically on a calendar where I built my life around my work instead of my work around my life. Can I even change that? If so, how?

My first experience with John Eldredge (founder of Ransomed Heart Ministries) was a CD a co-worker made me entitled "Spirt of the Age" and it was a teaching by John on busyness. I believe that was around 2009-2010. Imagine my surprise (*aghast I am*) that I feel like God is taking me back to the beginning....back to that first lesson because maybe while all of these other lessons have been VERY important. That one, that very first one, is the one that will help me now crossover from a life twisting in my brokenness to a life operating from wholeness and healing. Maybe that is the lesson I can hear, as if for the first time, TODAY with fresh ears, a fresh heart, and a broken/contrite spirit - none of which I had back in 2009 when I was living a life full throttle by my own volition. Maybe, just maybe, this is why God moved me to come back here now.

I just took another one of those deep breaths. My eyes are still moist, but the breaths are not hurting like they were yesterday.

Downtown Salida, Colorado - Perfection

Four years ago I didn't want to live. That is the full truth of the matter. I wasn't suicidal insomuch as I just wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out. Life had taken me out behind the wood shed and spanked me but good. After the conference in 2012, I decided to drive through Salida, Colorado, so I could see the Headwaters of the Arkansas River (river buff that I am), and I remember like it was yesterday the feeling of leaning over the bridge and looking in and feeling hope for the very first time in a long, long, long time. The beauty was magnificent, and still today I get comments on the photos I took that day (no one believes they were real). I guess coming back here (a day early and six hours out of my way) was really about reminding me of that hope, how far God and I have come, remembering beauty and breathing, and in some spiritual way - reminding me of the source of my LIFE - where my heart and love and breath - comes from, who it comes from....and maybe he is showing me the 'why' for this life of mine.

I am hearing a lot of "GO!" lately, but before one can go - sometimes they need to revisit. I see it a little like a rubberband being stretched backward before it gets projected forward. I think this retreat is the pulling me backwards before God can project me forward in the direction he wants me to go.

...and with that sentence my heart started racing.

*Deep Breath*

I look down at the water again. Isn't it amazing how it just keeps rolling, through different cities and states, expanding as it rolls on. Then it flows into the Mississippi, merging with others to become something bigger than itself, and it rolls on into the ocean, bigger still. Breathtaking really to think that the water I am gazing into now will in time be part of the ocean. What a journey it will have had, playing its part, nourishing the land and the wildlife, leaving a mark on both, refreshing and renewing, ripple after ripple.

I want to play my part. Well.

My wish for you this morning is to step away from the every day happenings of your life and soak up some beauty. God gave us this beautiful planet and beautiful people across it, and I want more of ALL of that in my life. Maybe you do too.

Now I need to go wipe my eyes and see if I can stop grinning long enough to brush my teeth. ;) Another side effect of beauty for me - giddiness.

I am so grateful God. Truly, spectacularly grateful.

More views like this for me today as I drive up to Captivating.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Seven Days and The Next First Step

I love the number seven.

Love.

There is a lot of symbolism in it for me. I guess you might say it is my lucky number, but even more...somehow like hearts, the number seven has come up in and where I needed it....like a tap on the shoulder from God to "look up."

Seven days ago I knew I was in the midst of what some might call GO TIME{click the link for what the urban dictionary has to say about it}, and there was going to be two clear paths and no going back whichever one I chose.

I never in a million (years) thought seven days later there would be resolution (of sorts), or that it would take seven days to fully play out, or what all would result from my simple decision to 'hold fast' to what I knew to be true.

Yet....seven days later.

Joshua 6.

I recommend it.

So here is the lesson in the past seven days that seems oh so clear this morning, yet seven days ago looked simply like 'was I willing to take the first step'....in faith'?....

Sometimes when you take the first step, and the next, and the next, and the next....seven days later....the walls fall....just as God promised they would. Amazing.

I think that is the part of the Bible I forget about in the midst of the lessons in the great stories....we know how the story ends, but they, in the moment, had no idea if those walls were going to actually fall (for example). All they knew is the faith it took to take the next first step.


The next first step.

***

I got pulled away with a work emergency (I know. I know. It is Saturday. *insert eye roll*) and then had brunch plans with a friend. So....here it is hours later, and I decided to come out to the park and sit in the sunshine and write. Finish. Write and finish what God started this morning...

"Even If" by Mercy Me just started playing in my earbuds. Isn't that the truth of the matter. Even when we don't know how our story within the larger story will play out. Even IF it does not play out the way we want it to, or even how we believed God was going to map it out. Our job is to trust. Even if. We trust.

"What will I say when I am held to the flame like I am right now."

Man! That is a powerful lyric.

Seven days I had NO idea how the next steps were going to play out. I am now looking to the next step, the next steps, and I also have NO idea how they are going to play out. Yet, that is okay. God is teaching me....in the step.

Last night I ended up spending time with my business partner, his wife, and their kids. After a few weeks, a week, and certainly a day for the record books. I think there were words left to be said, and healing in the hugs of children and sidewalk chalk drawings, and in the midst of a lot of ALL that.....suddenly there was this moment where one of the littles could not draw a "2" and they stated to their mother that they could not draw it. Their mom asked if they wanted help. The child replied yes. She asked if they wanted her to "dot it out" and the child said yes. Then the mother dotted out on the page the numbers, passed the sheet back to the child, and then the child traced the numbers out on the page following the dots. I stood watching this....absolutely fascinated. I said, "I have never seen that teaching method, but it makes so much sense because you aren't doing it for them, but giving them a roadmap that they then still have to execute. Brilliant.

I told that story over brunch this morning and looked my friend dead in the eye and said, "That is EXACTLY what God is doing with me." For the past few months, I have gotten caught up with completing the lessons, the straggling list, finishing well, etc. That wasn't the point though...the process was the point.

Would I say, "I can't do this God."

Him, "Would you like my help?"

"Yes, Lord."

Him, "Would you like me to give you the next step?"

"Yes, Lord."

Him revealing the next step and pushing it back to me, "Take it."

Me taking it, and then, "I can't do this."

....and repeat.

Again and again.

He has been teaching me to ask...teaching me submission....teaching me obedience....teach me to listen to HIM and cancel out the rest of the story...focus on his next first step.

...and the children will lead us.

I am in awe.

There is something amazing that happens when you start laying down your strongholds. I have to be honest. I had no idea how much grief and anger and trauma ruled my life, my emotions, my heart, my actions, my judgement. It did. I thought I trusted God, but I was a fraud. I trusted only whatever emotion ruled me in any given moment. I have watched myself transform from the inside out this past year, but none more than the past several weeks as attack after attack tested all of the lessons learned this past year. How would I react? How would I feel? What would I trust? Who would I trust? Would I take the next step? Would I choose what was right over what was easy? I wish I could say that it gets simpler; it doesn't. What it does get is more clarifying. What I mean by that is that as you start walking in trust, it begins to look and feel more natural. You recognize it. That doesn't mean old habits aren't around the corner, so you pray for discernment. You pray that you recognize those habits faster so you can once again correct yourself and step back into trusting God...With. Everything.

So....are those things that God gave me to do important?

Absolutely.

What is even more important though is did I learn how to listen, to trust, to apply, to step, to follow, to discern. HOW I complete the lessons is just as (if not even more) important than the completion itself. THAT is what God has been trying to teach me since the first of the year. It only took three months. LOL

Wow.

I don't even know how to end this....

I guess I want to tell you that I am exhausted. That this process is exhausting. Yet...

The work is worth it. Absolutely worth it.

I feel it. As in feel it inside my bones. Even more, I have some amazing people who have prayed me through this past five years like BOSSES and they are stepping into every single gap and encouraging me onward. They still believe in what God is doing, and will do, in me and through me. I am so grateful. I bet I could write a book on gratitude and publish just their text messages alone. I wish for everyone, for you,  a tribe of men and women who believe in you, speak truth into you, and hold you up and together when the enemy comes at you with all he has and leaves you for dead.

....and finally, the enemy is never ever going to stop. The attacks in the past seven days have been brutal, deliberate, and executed with precision - but, BUT I am still standing. Tired? Yes. Wobbly? A little. Breathing? Better than ever. Broken? Not even close. I did shed some tears yesterday.....well, some daily, but even that is progress - no more stuffing it down for me. Process! Process! Process! I also allowed myself to feel the attacks; I simply didn't allow them to take me out. My faith is growing and with it my armor. Hear me well - armor - NOT walls. Such a difference that only did I start figuring that out last Sunday. Also, sometimes armor looks ridiculously similar to a steel backbone. ;)

So....the enemy is coming. Be ready. Life goes on.

The next first step.

I am SO excited.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

For The Love of A Savior

Israel 2016
 
I had this amazing dinner last night with a new friend who I met through a mutual friend that recommended my blog to them....that last fact alone gives me grateful pause. I could not have EVER imagined people reading this thing....much less recommending it to others. So humbled.
 
We had been trying to find a mutual time to meet for coffee or dinner since New Year's Day. So #finally was flashing in our heads last night as we finally fell into our chairs at the restaurant. Nothing to see here - just two busy professional women fighting for ourselves in a world of BUSY.
 
I had just come off another week of ridiculous highs and lows with one low happening 30 minutes before our dinner, and she was headed into storms (literally) post-dinner so we were just a brewing hot mess from the word go. I had to fight all of the things I had just experienced and be fully present at a dinner I had been looking forward to for months. I thought my head was going to explode as all that was running through my head were flashes of me in the ER over the weekend with chest pains. Ridiculous, yet every woman reading this right now is relating to that feeling of let me be present right where I am while also fighting the good fight in your head of what you just walked through and/or what you are about to walk into. Women's minds are INSANE.
 
Our dinner was a lot of Q&A about my journey, parts of our stories, how and why I had made some of my past choices, and what had (and was continuing to) shape me.
 
It was intense.
 
I loved it.
 
I would have loved it better if I had not just had to reprimand two wayward employees which was a mere 30 minutes after learning that I had permanently lost one of my longest and dearest employees. All one day after learning about the dangerous antics of yet another (now former) employee. Entrepreneurship is heartbreaking. I don't know what else to tell you.
 
I digress.
 
I am working on a piece right now entitled "Two Paths Diverged In The Woods....and you took the wrong one. Now What?" - don't judge; it is a working title. LOL
 
The funny thing is....how many of us feel that way TODAY, or have before, or will (again) someday? I would lay odds all of us. Choices are hard. Truly. AND...in a world that tells us that we need to find our passion(s), calling, or simply choose the "right" path, well now we have crossed over to the land of insanity.
 
Speaking of which, this morning I posted that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing again and again expecting different results, and that I was tired of being insane. #word 
 
So...who is with me????
 
It is time to be brave and step forward.
 
So before I dive back into some planning that I have been too busy to do, let me inject some raw honesty into the discussion around paths and callings and thoughts of "is it too late for me"............
 
The road to find your way back to you....to the relationship with God you crave....to old dreams or new dreams.....
 
It takes work.
 
It takes time.
 
You cannot look at my story and be impressed (I would be shocked if you were...first of all) without acknowledging the intense time and work that has occurred over five years. Five! I didn't fall into this place. I clawed my way here. With God. From the initial position of my body flat on the floor with my face pressed up against his feet. All of this...THIS....is the story, the journey, of someone that God is helping to rise up IN HIM. He is able to do that because I am committed to letting go....of every last bit of me - the old agreements with the enemy, the old shame, the mistakes, the sin, the angst (read that as anxiety)...and even more, I am committed that when I fall backwards, I will not wallow, but once again fall at his feet and drink from the fountain of restoration. A fountain only he fills. Only. God.
 
I'm not perfect. I am simply restored in something way bigger than my simple life - Jesus.
 
I can offer a roadmap to you - one that I only see through the rearview mirror because while living it, I surely was oblivious to what was forming. I can share guidelines, books, speakers, conferences, ideas, and the like that have helped me grow this past five years. Of all of it though, nothing has mattered more than the sheer fact that at some point over the last five years, I stopped being mad at God (which was somewhat a lot of blustering due to my intense shame), forgave him, and I fell in love with him. Madly. Deeply. Truly.
 
I don't know what the days and weeks and months and years look like for me...exactly, but what I do know is that if it is not of God, I don't want it. I am also not going to take anymore crap about my convictions, my brain, my dreams, or my emotional intuition. What makes me ME is not happenstance, God did that. He designed me, he gifted me with certain talents and skills, and I can either acknowledge and cultivate them OR deny them. You can be sure there will be no more of the latter. {Side Note: if you see me deny them, slap me silly.}
 
So here is what I have to offer you today. You drowning in the busy. You drowning in unfilled dreams. You drowning in an office full of mean boys/girls trying to create a do-over of their high school years gone wrong. You with the broken heart from the love you knew would never end.
 
Give up.
 
Get on your knees.
 
Lay. It. ALL. Down.
 
Sometimes you have to give up in order to get up.
 
Open your Bible.
 
Open your palms.
 
Enter. In.
 
The only well worth drinking from is the one Jesus made for you. All others will leave you thirsty. I know. I nearly died from thirst.
 
Kim Walker Smith has a new album coming out. There is a song entitled "Throne Room" on it that you can download immediately if you pre-order the album. Let me be clear, download the album. The words will take you out - in the best of ways.
 
I run to the throne room.
I run to the throne room.
 
Next month, I head back to the 2012 catalyst for me, Captivating. God has mapped out a beautiful pit-stop on the way followed by four days of me and him in one of the most beautiful places in the United States. I am trying to not have expectations for the trip and time there, but God keeps opening things up like flowers in the spring so that with each passing day I get a little more giddy about it all. I believe in going back, but not like I once did that was so unhealthy. Touchstones. It is all about the touchstones. In 2012, I landed at Captivating a broken, hot mess unsure of everything. Next month, I return healthier, restored, grateful, dare I say whole......and with deeply rooted anticipation for his promises. His promises. Not mine, not others....His.
 
He goes before me.
 
He stands behind me.
 
The Well.
 
It is time to drink up.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Fire

We are at two OR seven....I have lost count....but God is sending people to speak into me an idea so fundamentally crazy it is brilliant.....and I am sitting here in the lobby of the Omni Hotel in Nashville in between sessions at my conference, a roaring fire to my left and beautiful sunshine pouring into the windows across the lobby to my right....and I am breathless.

For the second time this morning.

Breathless.

Part of me is wondering why I never thought of it before, and the other part can hear my friend Rachel (when talking about her own dream), "I wasn't ready."

Yup.

....and that is why we need God.

Why we need tribe.

Why we need to grieve and purge and unshackle ourselves from the yokes that are not our own, that might never have been ours, but most certainly not ours TODAY. We need room to dream, to hear God, to hear those God is sending to us IRL to speak truth into us, to feel joy, and frankly....to have a clear head.

I have shared with both my friend Sherri and my counselor over the last several weeks that I felt like creativeness was POURING out of every pore of my body. I didn't understand what was happening, but I was trying to capture as much in Moleskine journals as I could...and now I have a pile of them. This morning I am sitting here realizing that there is a theme to what has been coming out of me...and I think God is leaving or has left me a trail of breadcrumbs. So a few minutes ago I wrote in my Moleskine (after writing out six pages of ideas), "God what would/could this look like?"

See....here is the deal. This is the WHOLE ballgame.

I don't want ANY of it. None. Unless it is of God and from God. Period.

I have hustled and achieved everything I (as in I) thought I wanted and none of it has served me. Then I proceeded to take three years to unyoke myself from what it took me 20 years to acquire (external focused). I have now spent an entire year doing the same thing to the inside (with more to go I know) of me (internal focused). So here I sit as "unyoked" as I have EVER EVER been, and I can feel the earthly desires nipping at my heels and whispering in my ears, and I am all HELL NO (sorry if that offends you). I have NOT done all of this work, come oh so far, only to get yoked up again to a bunch of stuff that does not serve me....but even more, stuff that is not of God.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

So....I am praying for discernment because the dreams are flooding once again, and I am going to let them flood. BUT, but so are opportunities. God will show me which one(s) he wants me to ride out.

When I was a little girl, I used to have these crazy inventions/ideas. I designed an enclosed bike that you could ride in the rain (we had a long walk to the mailbox). I developed a "system" for cleaning and organizing my room and playroom. I ran my own church, school, and hospital. I had the most saved, educated, and healthy stuffed animal and doll collection In. The. World. LOL I had dreams. Lots and lots of dreams.

I have never ever lost all of that, but what I did lose is the faith in myself to ACT on them.

Here is what strikes me this morning.

I have a good nose (thinking of Miss V right there). I can sniff out a good idea. Whether mine or someone else's, I am really good at discerning what "has something" and what does not. As such, I have become the ultimate encourager as I find people are a lot like me and while they might still dream, they are too scared to ACT. Enter Heather and her A+ pushing skills. ;)

God what would/could this look like?


God just gave me the title of this post.

I have packed in a month with my friend Rachel and her family in the past 36 hours. They have been precious and beautiful and EVERYTHING for two friends who have seen a lot of miles in the past 17 years.

When she talks about her daughter she discusses "the fire" in her.

Yup.

I hear you.

God, I am trusting you wholly to light me up inside. Light me UP.

I am not ready. Not by a longshot. YET/BUT.....that is perfect. I don't want to be ready. I want this to be YOU. All YOU. I want to throw my arms out and cry out to you to make the way, put the ground underneath my feet right before they step...the words in my mouth just as I open it....orchestrate the people, the time, the places. You. Do. It. ALL. I just want to obey. I just want to be your hands and feet. Just me and you God. You. And. Me.

I love you.

There is about to be a mess here at the Omni as this woman is typing 90+ words a minute and crying and there is this fire....and #scene.

The Fire.

Holy Ground just started playing in my ears. Let me tell you what I know to be true, in this moment, it is ALL Holy Ground. Everywhere God is placing my feet has become Holy Ground. I am undone.
 
Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
In wonder and surrender we fall down
Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
Let every burning heart be holy ground

The Fire.

Game. On.

What is God stirring up in you? Sit with him. Ask questions. Wait for him to answer. He will. In his time.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Open Arms

I'm sitting here listening to Journey's Open Arms.
 
Grief is a funny thing. It sits on a shelf. Right where you put it. And it waits.
 
And waits.
 
And waits.
 
Until one day you go digging for it, remove it from the shelf, brush away the dust, shake it, and then ever so slowly open it. If you are smart, you have someone with you. If you are really smart, you have a professional with you. If you are neither really smart or even a little smart....you don't go digging for it insomuch as it gets tripped (like a live wire on a bomb) and then it goes BOOM.
 
I am neither version of smart, but I am lucky...because my BOOMS came across like a string of bottle rockets slowly lit over time....except for that whole part about 'no one (including me) knew what was going to be the thing that lit them.' Bless.
 
This afternoon I sat with a professional (getting smarter) and we detonated (in a controlled setting) one of those grief bombs.
 
....and it did in fact....go....BOOM.
 
 
I brain-dumped in a text to my "people" a snippet of the hour (counselor's orders), and their reactions were enough to give me further pause....."Was/Am I doing the right thing?"
 
I believe I am.
 
The truth is on any given day, I am a normal, happy, well-adjusted woman. I have a GREAT life. I am immensely happy and fulfilled. I have worked hard and certainly had more opportunity than one person deserves. I have opportunities to serve and give to others. I have great family and friendships. I am in a great place with God and our relationship. I feel...good.
 
....it is the days that I don't that concern me. The days when I struggle to separate the reality of my little world and circumstances connected to the anxiety that brews beneath the surface of my mind. Do I deserve to be happy? Should I handle that differently? I'm uncomfortable, unworthy, or simply too much. What is that nagging sense that the other shoe is going to fall? Why can't I do enough? Everybody needs me OR nobody needs me.
 
Those days zap every bit of hope or energy from me, and I struggle. Deeply.
 
I'm tired.
 
The truth is that I have been tired for a very long time, but I numbed my life so well with work, alcohol, food, drama-filled relationships, volunteer activities, treasures, houses, responsibilities upon responsibilities, taking care of well everybody....that I could easily blame my being tired on....well all of THOSE things. Not me. *aghast I am* Of course it wasn't something with ME...inside of ME.
 
Here I am with a fully detonated grief bomb in my lap, and let me be clear....it is all about what I have been holding inside of me. It ain't pretty. I am relieved to have this disgusting hot mess out of me.
 
Now what do I do???
 
Now I process.
 
Now I start forgiving....me, others, God....and I invite God into the BIG hole inside of my heart where this crap once was stored....and I let him fill it back up....with something better...
 
Love.
 
"So now I come to you with open arms....."
 
God can even use Journey to heal.
 
You know "Open Arms" feels a lot like my relationship with God. Just keeping it real here.
 
One of these days....I am not going to be tired. Not like this. The truth is that I had convinced myself that the tired was ALL the "other" things, but the truth is that the tired is purely emotional (don't hold me to that....I am working this out while I type). I have a hamster wheel spinning in my head ALL the time. I'm all leaned in (shoutout to my friend E.U. on that reference), and really I need to relax, let go, and lean back. It is time for me to not be "on" ALL the dang time. I'm not Wonder Woman. No one is going to die if I set my cuffs down on the dresser for a minute...or forever.
 
Somewhere along the line the enemy convinced me that everything bad that happened in my life was somehow my fault. If I had been more, done more, loved better, been a better kid, a better daughter, a better sister, a better granddaughter, a better friend...a better fill-in-the-blank....then ALL the bad things that happened and set the dominoes in motion could have been prevented. When that train of lies stopped working so well....then it was go back, fix it - you can get a do-over, begin again. Lie. BIG lie.
 
For five years I have gone to the altar....again and again and again, but still...STILL....I could not shake the demons. Not all of them.
 
Today I realized....the demon was me....IN me.
 
A burr...that had latched to my insides.
 
...and it looked like little brown craft-paper wrapped boxes with red bows sitting neatly in rows on shelf after shelf after shelf....inside my heart....and inside them....GRIEF. Unresolved grief. Just sitting there.
 
Wow.
 
I'm sitting here just staring at my words. I wish I didn't have to write them. In many ways, I wish this wasn't my life...my story. No one wants to look back at their life and admit that they are an orphan. That people who once loved them no longer do. No one wants to admit that time marches on, that there are no do-overs, that choices have consequences and as such must be dealt with and then you must move on. The nine year old in me is panicking. Just pure PANIC. If I heal, if I move past this and on, what happens to her?
 
I can hear my counselor in my head....."...she comes with you. She is finally able to grow up."
 
After intense sobbing for a bit, I just said a prayer asking God to tell me what he sees in me, and I heard, "You are lovely."
 
"Really?" I questioned.
 
"Really."
 
So....there is that.
 
Here is the deal...I know that I am not the only one out here who has a giant hole in their heart where life did its damnedest and then the enemy took up residence in the gap. I guess I am siting out here planting a flag not only for myself, but for anyone else reading this going, "I am tired of feeling wrung out by my life."
 
Also, there isn't any magic potion or pill. I am just NOW here....and it took me five years to get to this little island of healing, and I have more work ahead of me.
 
BUT
 
I am here.
 
I made it.
 
I have crawled and clawed and worked and wrestled and put one step in front of the other....I made it to here. I am going to sit here for a moment and let the joy wash over me. I keep thinking this process of healing is going to kill me....and for a bit it does, but then I cry and grieve and write and worship God....and I feel my strength return. Also, today there is this ridiculous monkey sitting here in my lap while I type (that is a story for another day)...and he smells like lavender which reminds me of a promise. The promise.
 
So what is the point?
 
Life goes on.
 
As ridiculous and cliché as that sounds to me in this moment (and that is saying something because again...there is a monkey in my lap), it is so very true.
 
In the past two weeks, God has given me CONFUSION on some big things in my life, and yet perfect clarity and direction on others. The clarity on one is ALL about the future. All about a new dream that has a red string back to an old dream that I could have never imagined would really come true. It involves my favorite people. It is proof positive that God absolutely can restore all things, but in his own way and time. It feels so sacred and holy, it will be a long long time before I ever put words to it...if I ever do. It may simply become my own secret garden and something I keep private...for now. In a life that I have opened up and made so transparent, it feels good to have something sacred for myself. The truth is God made so clear that this dream was from him, and I never doubted...but after today, I know that was a gift to me, for my heart...he knew today was going to shatter me into millions of shards of glass....but that gift....out there waiting for me...is an example of how he loves me, he loves my people, and he (again) makes all things new. I can't hold that new gift though until I empty my hands of the old - the old pain, old dreams, old wounds, and simply having my feet in 2017 and my heart in 1980. All of me needs to be here...in 2017.  
 
2017.
 
I turn 46 this year. I am 46 with the heart of a nine year old.
 
*shaking my head*

...one step in front of the other...
 
Jesus, you never gave up on me....even when I gave up on you for a bit. I am forever grateful. I am forever grateful for your open arms.
 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Kairos Season

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



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