Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Time To Fight...For Love


I got tired.

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

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

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

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

I couldn't even write.

*Deep Breath*

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

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

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

Yikes!!!!

Now it is time to fight.

Say what?!?!?!

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

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

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

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

Stop the bus.

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

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

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

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

Damn. The tears.

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

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

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

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

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

Break time is over.

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Lost Art of Conversation

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

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

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

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

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

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

WTH?!?!

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

I forgive. I am forgiven.

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

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

Which am I?

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

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

Before you post...anywhere.

Before you say anything...anywhere.

Think.

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

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

Why?

Because of Romans 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What You'll Need...


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


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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Box

I moved again.

Dramatic pause. 

It is the final time (I hope) before I find a resting place for my soul...and my body. The story is long, and I will tell it...when I am strong enough. Too raw still. God. What a jokester.

In dramatic fashion, because I seem to roll that way much as I detest it and even more so detest admitting it...but in a matter of three and a half days, I did a 180 degree turn right....more like a 240 degree, but I digress...

So....I am still unpacking stuff...stuff I was unpacking before now co-mingled with new stuff, and I am doing all of this in the midst of the most insane 30 days of my 2015 because I think 11 days of straight travel in four cities, four planes, and one car is COMPLETELY normal only because it was preempted by five days of travel in two cities, one vehicle, and a full-on stomach bug nightmare that culminated with projectile vomiting on the side of the road while my dear friend apologized that her friend was ruining someone's beautiful (looked new before I struck) driveway on a back road in Tennessee. #bless

So....today on a two day hiatus from the crazy of this 30 day span is the day God whispered, "Open the box."

Shit.

The box is one that I have had for several years marked private. Only two people were aware of it's existence and for the past three and a half years it has been stuffed in the back of my closet in my workshop in the hollow collecting dust. It contains stuff I am not proud of, journals, letters, photos of a time I don't want to think of full of smiling faces who are strangers to me now, handwritten last wills and testament sorts of stuff. It is a classic Heather box in many ways and in others, a box of past shame. What can I say...I am a walking conundrum. When I got to the workshop a few weeks ago, I immediately went to it. Duct taped it like it was a bomb and stuffed it first into the pile of stuff to bring home. Why? Because it was time. Bon fire material? Maybe. Absolution? Confrontation? What?? I didn't know. I just knew it was time. God said.

As soon as I got home, I stuffed it on a shelf to "deal with later" I told my Sis.

Oh boy.

Later came this morning.

"Open the box Heather."

No tears. Good. This is going to be okay. I quickly filled up a trash bag of what I knew I never ever ever ever ever wanted to see again. No need to get mushy there. Over. Done. But there laid a giant ziplock bag full of goodies I neither wanted to quickly toss nor could. God wouldn't let me. 


I went and sat on my bed and opened it up...out fell photos, journals, letters, and reminders of a Heather I only vaguely remember. I cracked (literally) open the first journal and started reading...a few pages in, I was done. Opened another and another. I neither felt anything nor had any outward emotions. This wasn't good. I needed closure. Right? Right??? I looked at the pictures again...thumbing through faces that looked young...much younger...and naïve. Unbelievably naïve. Then I saw it...a letter I had written to an old love, but it wasn't a love letter...it was more of a good-bye letter. A good-bye letter I had written ironically at the beginning of the relationship and one never given to him. One can only imagine why right...back from our first date...here..all the reasons this isn't going to work.

I wish now I had given him that letter.

Sometimes we want something too much...for too long...and we simply kill it. Dead. It is over before it even starts because we just simply want it so badly it can never be what we made it up to be in our head...what others wanted it to be for us. It just simply can't be. I will never again wait. Not for a moment. To tell someone I love them. I need them. Lets be together. If they don't, can't, won't the same with/for me...then I will turn and walk away. Quickly. This. This I have learned with all of my heart and soul. Because to stay is to succumb to watching that same love die right before you like drying paint. Slowly. Dying a little more each day...and as it does, so do you.

I have loved two men in my life. Deeply. Both of them broke my heart. Shattered it in all truth. One gave me wings and the other roots. The irony is that I lost both the men, the wings, and the roots. Have I mentioned I don't do things halfway? or small?

I lost them and their gifts to me because God needed the time and space to restore my heart and to give me those gifts anew...from him. There is something to be said for the Phoenix that rises from the ashes as I can remember not believing I could recover from either loss both bookending my adulthood and leaving such vast wounds, but I did...I have. God is good that way.

Time doesn't heal wounds. God does.

Just sayin'.

The truth is that I have spent most of my adulthood trying to fill the gaping wounds left from a devastating childhood spent reeling after a divorce I could not understand and responsibilities thrust upon me I was not mature enough for at 9, 10 years of age. I simply was ill-equipped for the life my parents gave me and once an adult, I was so wounded and angry and confused...well, I was a mess. A walking hot mess that projected anything but that to the world around me. Whenever anyone did get close enough to sniff it out on me...I ran or they ran...somebody was running. Fast.

I have spent the past three and a half years working HARD with God to unwind the walking wound that is Heather. It hasn't been easy or pretty. There have been setbacks. Major ones. God has face-planted himself on more than one occasion, and I think there is a pretty good chance that if awards are given out in heaven (which they won't be), I am definitely in the running for giving God the biggest headache. I mean...what a mess I am. Just when he thinks he has made progress with me, I disappoint...not a little, but a LOT. I am hard to love. Even for God. Thing is...he does. More than anything, and it is that unconditional love by an ever-present God that has helped me make it through to today. To this bed looking through memories of a time in my life I just knew would last forever, was the culmination of all of my hard work and pain, was my happily ever after...Finally. Douche. I landed in those years broken and slammed up against others as broken, if not more so, as me. Wow. That was a truth-moment.

Two broken people don't make a whole one, they just cut each other to pieces. I have cut a lot of people in my life's journey. I turn 44 next week. I am only truly proud of about 12 of those years. That is as hard to write as you might think it is. But today...today, I am proud of who God is making me into. The person I was meant to be all of those years ago before everyone in my life "dropped their baskets" and then I followed suit and dropped my own.

You cannot love others until you truly love yourself.

You cannot give grace until you truly know grace for yourself.

You cannot give hope until you know hope.

You cannot live your truth when you are hiding from others...yourself....God...lies.

You cannot show people God when you don't know God...in you. As you.

Saying good-bye is the one thing I hate most in this world. It brings out all of my old hurts from a childhood full of important people always saying good-bye never to return. In the last few years I have lost some of the most important people in my life as my growth forced me to make decisions about who was healthy for me and who wasn't. Others left on their own, and I understood. So much so. You can forgive people, but that doesn't mean that can stay in your life. That took me over 40 years to understand. Today, I am going to burn a box of memories and say good-bye. I am not alone though because God is sitting with me even now as I type. He is watching me glance over at photos, wiping away the occasional tear, and reminding me that I am his beloved. His beauty.


Allow me a digression...

I am in my final year of a three year purge....and let me say that as hard the act of purging is...giving things away, throwing stuff away, selling, or whatever it is...you cannot move forward as long as you have shackles of the past hanging around your neck, latched around your ankles, clasped on your wrists...or even piercing your heart. I truly believe God is walking me through this purge in preparation for something of which I do not know, but what I do know is that if I don't do it...I am going to miss out on something amazing, but also, I am not going to ever experience full healing from the messy childhood, confusing 20s, and finally my driven 30s. I am determined that my 40s will be different. Whether God is preparing me for someone or something, I want to finally be able to say yes with my whole, healthy heart....arms free to grasp them or it....legs free to walk, no run to them or it. I have hurt people. People have hurt me. I don't want either of those truths to be my legacy. I am fighting for my heart. Fighting to give it 100% to God to do with or give to whatever or whomever he wants...His turn. I'm done fighting for my way. His way or nothing.

Sorry.

I digress from time to time...

Today I am not saying good-bye easily, but I do say it peacefully. The woman in those photos and those pages was searching for answers in all of the wrong people and places. I don't need these reminders...the health scares, the loneliness, the efforts to claim a do-over that was doomed from the start, the dreams...all the good stuff is in my heart and the rest I gave up a long time ago. The truth is that I am not really saying good-bye to all of that (I already have awhile ago...maybe that is why no tears today). What I am really saying good-bye to is my need to go back to 9 years old and start again. I spent literally years trying to do that. I just squished up and rubbed my face really, really hard.

Deep Breath.

That's it. I am saying good-bye to the dream of a do-over life. I don't need to start all the way over. I just need to start from here. It isn't about a different family. A different home. Different choices. It is simply about today. What am I choosing today?

Thursday of last week I was asked to speak at a luncheon to a group of amazing women about negotiating as a women and as I like to say, how I have seen both sides now (as the Joni Mitchell song goes) of being a woman in business and leadership. A woman I have known for over 10 years came up and hugged me after and said, "I loved the old Heather, but I really really love this new Heather." and I squeezed her tight and whispered back in her ear, "Thank you so much. Me too."

The truth is that I didn't like myself awwww.....for about 32 years of my life (9ish to 40-41), and I spent a considerable amount of energy disguising that fact. The bigger truth is that I really didn't know who I was so you can't like what don't even know. Now can you.

I may have 40 more years on this earth or 40 minutes, but as long as God gives me breath, I am going to spend my time learning and being true to myself while also honoring the truths of those around me. I am so tired of looking backwards...there is absolutely nothing left for me there. My truth lies in front of me...the life I live, the people I love, the breaths I take, the experiences I savor, the books I have to read, places to see, joy to spread, change to help create, strangers to make friends, friends to make tribe, but mostly a God to learn more about and love more deeply a little more each day. Where I have been has brought me to here. It is no road less traveled, it is a road well worn, full of regrets and shame, mistakes, lessons, love - gained and lost, experiences, beauty, ugliness, mean people, a little girl, a confused and angry young woman, a driven woman, a poser, a friend, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a sinner, and a beauty.

You haven't walked in my moccasins nor I yours, but trust that just like yours...my journey to get to here has been somethan.

That it has.

Thank you Jesus.


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

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Beauty and Lessons In Touchstones

Within the past few weeks, I have consciously felt God bringing me back to touchstones from my past 43 years of life. Places, things, people, and when it happens (like a Deja vu feeling), something (or someone) will happen where I know that God is there in that moment and he wants me to remember. Every. Single. Time.

The past two days, my friend Jen and I have been in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee, for our annual girl's trip. It is a different trip for us as it is longer than we have done in the past and bleeding into our work week (couple of workaholics here). The whole trip was planned around Diana Krall's show in Nashville as we both fell in love with Diana Krall's music around the same time and still love it. Her music is a relaxation point for two people who move at full throttle. The setting also happens to be where I spent a year of my life, Nashville, and the house we are renting is in the quaint little hideaway of Leiper's Fork which is everything a small town should be, and in your dreams, is...and as it is protected by certain Tennessee laws, it literally has not changed in the 15 years since I lived in Nashville and spent weekends roaming this area.




So...Nashville, Leiper's Fork, friendships (many whom I won't even get to see this trip to my dismay), and my journey/life post-Nashville are all being laid out bare for me (and I am about 24 hours in).

God. I see you.

I see you in the redbud tree with the heart-shaped leaves blooming right in front of me even as I type. I see you in the rolling hills of bright green grass (we seriously landed here on the most perfect weekend in the area all year). I see you in the faces of those that remember me and the ones who don't, but hug me like they do as they are pure sweetness. I see you in the birds whose chirping has not ceased for one single second since we arrive. It is a symphony. I see you in the new life that has been born in my absence. Miss V is simply a dream. I also see you in the pain that I have missed. I see you in the old dreams that once ran strong for me here...a front porch just like this where I would swing and write and breathe. I see you in my friend as we squeeze a year's worth of happenings into this few days. I see you in the changes in us...spiritually and physically. You are working in her, and it is so clear to me as I have seen that look in my own reflection when you were in the throws of something with my own heart. I see you in the breeze that has blown for 24 hours straight that feels like you are bringing fresh life into my lungs. What are you up to? I am wondering. My heart is fluttering a bit. I saw you on the drive to pick up Jen as songs from an old playlist that I hadn't touched in three years played and you gave me fresh ears for the words and melodies. What are you up to? I wonder again.

When you feel God moving, stop...look...listen. He is up to something. I am siting here very still on this old porch swing grinning because something is coming...there is a bird that won't shut up...another sign. I am breathing deeply.

Peace.

I can feel a fresh peace washing over my heart.

Maybe it is just the beauty and serenity of a couple of days away in a beautiful place.

I know better.

It is that....and oh so much more. I simply can't hear him until I stop for a hot New York minute.

Last night in the shower as the water fell over me, I thought of all of the places I lived...the people I have had the blessing to meet...the lives who have touched mine...the adventures. The journey isn't over, but the ride to here has not been all bad or even half bad. I would like a couple of do-overs, but if I got those, I would have missed so much. If I had stayed in Nashville, I wouldn't have met Jen.  What a HUGE loss for my life. Her friendship has been such a blessing.

The roads not taken.

Sometimes I hope that there is a day when God will bring me to a little house surrounded by green grass and water, a porch with a beautiful swing, and neighbors who I know deeply and truly and who know me the same. I want for that and long for that, but the ride continues...I need to come to grips with these touchstones of my past. Remember the roads I have taken. Experience the gratitude. Make some peace with past choices and mistakes.

The next door is ahead of me...I can see it in the distance. I just have some things to do before he lets me go through it.

This feels good though....smiling with pure joy at the touchstones of my past. Saying a little prayer over each of them as I pass. Giving them back to God for what they were. There is a reason for these moments he is giving me...


This post feels so unfinished...funny how right now that feels okay too.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Art of Vulnerability


Tonight as I was on the phone with one of my C7 just baring our poor, sweet souls...it hit me....there is a true art to vulnerability.

The thing is...it is that type of art that looks like a Sherwin Williams store exploded in a room. Exploded.

I think I am so sick and tired of us all trying to get shame and vulnerability "right." I mean really??!!! Hell, it took most of us 40 years (ummm...just me?? :)) to succumb to the act of even showing vulnerability...now we have to do it "right"...Just. Right.

I don't think so.

Look.

It is hard. It is ugly or at a minimum not Instagram-cute. It is raw and messy and dirty.

I have been trying for two weeks to write about the simple fact that I had misplaced my joy, and I simply couldn't do it. I couldn't write about it. I was terrified that people would go there it is...she has lost it or she is depressed or whatever...so I suffered in silence. Silence.

....and that is how the enemy got me. Bam!

So he sent a big hornet's to my front door yesterday in the form of a friend and then a foe, and God waited...and in the midst of those two situations he reminded me that HE was in control. HE was there. HE heard me. AND...my joy literally bubbled up inside of me and came out as giggles in the most inopportune moment. That is how my God works. #bless

Guess what?

I don't have this figured out.

Don't worry. I know you don't have it figured out either. None of you. Whether you are Jennie Allen or my Sis or Jen Hatmaker or one of my C7 or a complete stranger. None of you have it figured out.

AND....that is the dadgum point. You can't do this. I can't do this. ONLY he can do this. We are but a vessel. Whether it is in having the right words for a friend. Handling a touchy situation. Finding your joy. Making a career decision. Whatever it is, it is HIS to handle. The big lie is that free will means he is giving us wisdom and control...and he is, but it is so we will choose him...give it up to him...love him. NOT so we will do it all; have it all; be it all.

I mean really?!?!

Are you with me?

Have you fed this lie to yourself...like DAILY...that it is on your shoulders to "get it" right?

Yesterday when my friend needed me and e-mailed me, my first thought after reading her e-mail was, "I don't know what to do with that. I got nothing." and closed my e-mail. Next. A few seconds later, God had me re-open it, read it again, hit reply, and start typing...not my words, but his. Because I, in my wise, human self had NOTHING to offer her, but I was only needed to be the vessel for God to speak to her. Not my words; his words.

I confessed all of this to her tonight as she died laughing through tears on the other end of the phone.

The further truth is that she knew the answer before she even e-mailed, but she needed confirmation...and God gave it to her.

...and the circle continues.

We don't need each other to say the right things or do the right things or be the right things. We need each other to operate as conduits for God's heart and voice to come through for each other.

Being vulnerable...really vulnerable...means walking into that space completely open - open arms, open hearted, open minded...and just letting God show himself...through you...to others.

That is terrifying.

When Peter stepped out of the boat to get to Jesus waving from the shore (after the resurrection) he walked...for just a moment, but he walked on water...until he remembered who he was and forgot who Jesus was...he didn't lose his enthusiasm though...but he had already forgotten the lessons...so Jesus reminded Peter, and all of them, of the point. You are vessels to share my story, my death, my resurrection...for the breadth and depth of your life. Peter was worried about Jesus' love, his own death, the death of others...I mean that poor man took forever to get it (sounds familiar). None of that matters, for you Peter are just a vessel for me.

I am reading and studying Peter a lot right now via Sunday church and Bible Studies...and it just tears me up...I weep and laugh because Peter is so relatable to me and so many of us. He is just the example of all of our so-human struggles. Bless him. I just love Peter, and I didn't always...learning true grace and what that means has led me to love Peter more...as I am learning to love myself more. Funny how that works.

So lets all make a pact that we are not going to worry about getting all of this newfound vulnerability just right. Instead we are just going to encourage each other to continue to live their truth with not only others, but for the love of all that is good and holy...live their truth with themselves. With. Myself.

I got my joy back yesterday. I am still a teary mess (can cry at a drop of a hat). I am still struggling with some wounds (old and new). I am still terrified from time-to-time. I still want more of what I don't have in relationships and work and tribe. I am still growing and struggling. God reminded me that this is messy though...and even in the messy he is there and I can laugh there too (not simply cry) and that is okay. I'm okay.

Thank you for those that come to this space and laugh and cry and pray with me. Growth sucks; no doubt. Growth is also awesome, and I am tickled pink to be at this place in my walk and in my life. It has been hard-fought and worth everything. I hope you feel the same about your own.

We are just holding hands and walking each other home.


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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My Heart Spilled Over


Sometimes my heart is simply TOO full.

Full of emotions and junk and questions. 

Sometimes my heart is too full to talk to God. 

*Ouch*

I simply don't know how to talk or express or explain or lean into him. 

Those are hard days. 

Isn't that simply ridiculous???

What is worse is when you feel guilty for it...like these are "good" days and so you don't have permission to claim they feel hard.

Good. Grief.

I am there.

Right there.

I am post-Lent. I should be ecstatic. Ecstatic. I'm not though. I am stressed and worried and unsettled and questioning and everything feels HARD right now. Not in the Lent way, but in a LIFE way.

I know. I know. Deep. :/

We don't talk enough about these days or seasons where life isn't joyous or full of drama, it is simply bleh. No one wants to talk about the bleh. 

I miss God in these moments...these days. I have been trying to find reassurance for these BIG feelings in my tribe or Sis or my business partner, but their assurances are falling short...because they are not God. 

I need God.

It took just a colossal ick situation at the office today for me to slide down a wall to the floor and head in my hands, cry out to Jesus. I simply have to have Jesus in me, with me, surrounding me, and immersing me 24/7. I have spent a week post-Lent disillusioned because somehow I made it about my ability to "snap back" and be "okay" after Lent. Go back to before, but you can't..I can't. It doesn't work that way. The point is to be completely dependent upon Jesus always. Like as in ALWAYS. The point is to sacrifice with the addition and subtraction of worldly numbing agents every day as we walk closer and closer to him.

He is my joy. 

I left him outside the tomb Easter Sunday. I forgot to have breakfast with him on the beach. Isn't that why Jesus did that...wasn't it those visits post-resurrection to the men and women who would spread his word that he used to remind them this isn't the end but the beginning. I'm not here, but yet I am with you always. Don't go back to your old jobs, you have new jobs. 

I feel pretty foolish right now. Eyes red from tears that fall as a result of my short-sightedness.

The cross and resurrection were the confirmation of the old story, the old law, the prophecy. Breakfast on the beach was the promise of a future with him...the work to be done...and a promise that they would be called to sacrifice too. It was the future. I was so busy celebrating the conclusion of Lent and the gift of the cross and resurrection, that I forgot my part. I have a part. He is still here. In. Me. 

A friend today emailed a prayer request. I responded back with what God immediately put on my heart and typed without thought. Not my words; his words. He is in me. God is with us; within us. 

I love Lent and Easter, but the best part is the promise and the breakfast and the charge to us. Spread the word, do my will, abide with me in you, sacrifice, and remember...Me.

I'm sorry, but it simply doesn't get any better than that....and I nearly missed it...again. 

My heart spilled over today...God has been waiting for it...and for me. Finally.*

*Disclaimer: I cause God to faceplant a lot.