Saturday, January 20, 2018

Emotional Hangovers.

This morning I have one.

What pray tell is that you might ask?!

Well an example is when you open yourself up emotionally with someone sharing a part of you or your story that you don’t share...ever...with anyone....and while all good in the moment...when you wake up the next morning, you feel pangs of anxiety and regret...did I say too much, do they still respect me, or simply OMG why in the world did I tell them all of that???!!!!?!?!

Most times you sense the hangover coming on as you lay down to sleep the night before (hello self-awareness my old friend).



I have engaged a “wellness coach” and it has been an amazing three weeks. She has guided me from exercise to eating to teaching me about Kroger ClickList (changing my LIFE)...but last night we did a mini-assessment, and talked about that three part questionnaire with the hundreds of questions (I posted about earlier this week under “how I spent my snow day." See my writing page on Facebook for more about that fun). She had questions. So did I ...there were a couple of questions in it that spun my head a bit. To the point that I discussed them in counseling this week...so of course we needed to discuss it last night.

//

We all have moments in our lives that define us. I guess I never thought about a moment defining how I view my own personal health OR the value (or lack of value in my case) that I put on it. That said, sharing that story of that season in my life felt as I know of less than 10 people in my life that are aware of it and two of those are dead now.

//

The little girl in me is growing up, but she is smarting a little this morning. She feels vulnerable. The difference today is that there is this older, wiser woman sitting with her assuring her that all is well. She is safe and strong...and those that hurt her do not define her. As if to say, look at us. Look how strong we are. We bared our soul and we are still standing. Still breathing. Our heart still beating.

//

Our stories made us but they don’t define us. It has taken a lot of God and counseling to help me understand that...and I am still learning....

//

In the past an emotional hangover would have taken me out...for a day, a week, a season. Look at me...G R O W T H  I am headed to make my healthy breakfast and then to the gym. After that I will be going through a box of items that I have avoided stealthily since the #threeyearpurgefest ended 12/31/2015. Let me repeat clearly and loudly at the top of my clear lungs....


Our stories made us but they don't define us.
Hunting season on my heart, mind, soul, and yes even my body....is over.

God tells me who I am. No one else. No horrible memory. No wound from a childhood disrupted. No imperfect human being who abandoned me. Not even those who love me well. Only God.

If I believe that God spoke the universe into existence, then I must be able to believe he can speak me back to wholeness. It simply must be so.

I believe.

{Music speaks to my heart. It is absolutely one of my love languages. If it speaks to you too...and/or this post speaks to something in your own life and/or heart....I encourage you go to HERE and listen to Hillsong United's "So Will I (100 Billion X)"...if you believe in the God of creation, then by default you must believe that he can change everything in your life....every broken, wounded, dented place or memory or circumstance....everything. Jesus changes EVERYTHING. // I have been in the church since I was in the womb, but church (and I love the church - big and little "c") is not the single answer, Jesus is. It took me the mother of all #facedown moments and a whispering Jesus in my ear for me to begin to understand the difference. Jesus then proceeded to start me on a journey that has changed everything....EVERYTHING in my life. He is leaving not one single stone or stronghold untouched. I have watched my life since January 2012 be turned upside down, sideways, and shook to the core of every molecule and fiber of my being. Because he came. Because he lived. Because he died. Because he loves me. Because of all of that and more...I have the opportunity for LIFE. It begins and ends with him though. You MUST get that part right. The relationship we have with him influences everything else....from obedience to our reading and interpretation of the Bible to how we love to how we live to how we heal. "No one gets to the Father, but through me." - Jesus // So as you wrestle with the demons in your own life know that there is freedom available to you in the form of a Savior. The enemy says it is all on us. That is a lie. It never was, and it never will be. / For your reading pleasure, I would also recommend "Beautiful Outlaw" by John Eldredge which I continue to read again and again. The month before my #facedown moment, I read it the first time (over two days) and it re-introduced me to a Jesus I knew but had gotten lost to my heart. That book pricked through the walls, and I credit it and that "prick" for being the catalyst so that when I did fall....the door was cracked for Jesus to whisper to my heart in a new way. I can't recommend that book more.}



Sunday, January 14, 2018

Two Steps Forward + One Step Back = Progress

I read the dangdest thing this week. Also, is dangdest a word? I digress. What I read was a post that said, "Two steps forward plus one step backwards still equals progress." I believe that is a direct quote, and for the life of me I cannot remember where I read it or who wrote/posted it. That in itself is not surprising because I have been in a medicine-induced walking fog since Sunday afternoon when I could deny no longer that I was under the weather and sliding further under fast.
 
So....that is the perfect title for this post which in some ways is an update 13 days in on how I am doing on my goals for 2018. Also, for whatever this is worth....I am finding that sometimes....you have to go to the source of something to understand it....


Headwaters of the Arkansas River, Salida, Colorado
 
Oddly enough my last post was about my number two goal for 2018, my health and getting healthy (holistically) meaning in all aspects. It was time to bring everything full-circle. So one week in I am feeling like a complete BEAST rocking it all and then I go down with some type of cold/flu/stomach combo that left me dragging through each day (because life and work don't stop for illness) and has landed me here this Saturday morning determined to get rested and restored so that I can get fully back on track starting tomorrow. That said, my new food choices remained intact even through illness, though I struggled to eat breakfast a few mornings due to simple loss of appetite. Bottom line, I remained steady throughout the week, and I am proud of that. I skipped the gym all week not wanting to share (or have others share their) germs, but I tried to walk to work and move physically as much as my body would allow under the conditions. My energy is still high (even with being sick), and I am shocked out how much I am getting done. So...all in all, I am feeling pretty good and have already submitted my grocery order via Kroger's ClickList this morning to pick up later today and it is full of nothing but the good stuff and some extra varieties of organic juices because I need to amp up the antioxidants and Vitamin C in me (clearly).
 
Also, it cannot be said enough that I find Kroger's ClickList the very essence of LIFE and have zero idea how I have been living without it. What a timesaver PLUS it is a lot easier to make healthy choices when you just click them and pick them up. No scanning the aisles of the store mindlessly. So....that is my ringing endorsement.
 
I have a private project that I am working on this year (it is my #3 of my top three goals for the year) and I had another setback with it this week as the project is currently being held hostage by the firm I hired to work on stage two of it. They are now delaying my partners in the project (at worst) and at best they are forcing us to now work under different timelines which might be okay, but right now we are unsure. Either way, dealing with them has become the second worst customer service experience of my life (second to the Rubicon fiasco of 2011 which some of my readers might remember). I am hoping this upcoming week they will finish the last of the work they started on for me in August 2017, but I dare hope. I know that I hate holding people up, but I also hate being taken advantage of....so I am wrestling with the whole situation and it is ugly. My goal in 2018 is not to let others actions cause me to lose my temper, and this week has certainly tested that goal to the very edge.
 
Holy Spirit Come.
 
On a happier note, I have a new financial planner that I engaged last year to help me get all of my ducks in a row (oh for the days years ago when they were) AGAIN because LIFE happens and entrepreneurship will take your finances on a tilt-a-whirl ride for sure and THEN there is the drippings everywhere post #threeyearpurgefest so last year I started working on this goal and this year is when I get it done. Promise. I need everything under one umbrella of management, organized, and a working plan in place. I am excited to finally have everything delivered to my advisor, so now we just have to finalize the plan and then it is just setting everything up on autopilot. If only all of my goals for 2018 were going to be so easy to knock out.
 
What I anticipate to being one of my favorite goals for the year is a project I am birthing nearly two years after being given the idea. The Honeycomb Podcast will be launched sometime in the next 30 days (hopefully by the end of January) if everything works out, and I am most excited about this because it will highlight the stories of those I love and admire most around the world who are saying hard yeses to God and surviving to tell the tale (so to speak). There is a lot more backstory and information to come on that....so I don't want to spoil it. Hang tight.
 
//
 
In January 2017 I wrote about my straggling list. You can read about it HERE, and there are additional links embedded in that post you can click on and read. There is also something to be said for just doing a search of my blog under "straggling list" to see multiples posts I have written, especially in 2017, about my challenge with it. They certainly have defined my life in many ways the past two years since completing the #threeyearpurgefest AND I am a little over it. To say the least.
 
I cannot begin to express here my deep desire for tying up these loose ends and straggling items that have held me hostage for so very long. There is freedom on the other side, and maybe for the very first time, I can taste a sampling of that freedom. Like a drop of water being placed on the end of the tongue of dying man. You can still feel that LIFE and all it represents...for just the briefest of moments. Not to add more drama to that visualization, but there is a beautiful song As It Is (In Heaven) by Hillsong Worship that puts me in a full state of worship every single time I hear it. My heart starts to float up as the bridge begins. It is breathtaking.
 
//
 
I sat my laptop down yesterday after finishing the above....I cannot remember what exactly happened that initially distracted me, but I never picked it back up (until this morning). I got another five boxes shipped out yesterday...donations and items that I needed to return to people from projects long ago. I then decided to take myself to the movies. I have to admit that at 46, I believe that might be the first time I have ever gone to the movies alone (except when I worked in a theater in college). It was fine. The movie was good. I then went to the gym and killed a couple of miles before sitting in the sauna for 20 minutes (in an attempt to finish sweating out this ick) and then to pick up my groceries (again...ClickList by Kroger is a gamechanger for my life). A day full of normal activities, but lets be clear....normal always feels anything but to me.
 
//
 
I am working on content, but yet still trying to take baby steps into this year of living differently from the inside out. Everything feels a little off. Not bad, just off.
 
I think the point for all of us is that adjusting to a new normal is just that...an adjustment. Don't beat yourself up that for every two steps forward, you take one back (or more). What is important is that you do the work every day...you quite simply KEEP. DOING. THE. WORK....you keep trying. I have always said that it takes 27 days to break or create a habit (so six weeks if it is a business/work habit as there are only 20 business days in a month). The truth is that it is more like 18 - 254 days (depending). 254!?!?!?! Well, that changes everything for me. EVERYTHING. I need to pace myself. Be kind to myself. Patience.
 
Maybe you do too.
 
So....every day. One foot in front of the other. All we need to focus on is the next first step...when we get to 9 months (also the time it takes to grow a baby)...lets assess what habits we have kicked and what new healthy habits we have made our own.
 
#thenextfirststep
 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Health.

I am the healthiest sick person you will ever meet. Promise.
 
My doctor or my Sis coined that little diddy, and I have worn it like a badge of honor for years. Until now.
 
A friend of mine is starting a wellness company, and I am going to be their guinea pig. Word is that I am the poster child for their target market. *insert nervous laughter* Call it God or circumstance or whatever trips your trigger, but a few weeks ago while she was dreaming (out loud) about starting this company and her husband was "shaming" me for the chicken fried rice I had consumed for lunch while I was still reeling from a harrowing 40+ hours trying to get home from France which resulted in me hustling through multiple airports like a packmule and four layers of sweat-soaked clothes... #forthelove ...I guess I hit the proverbial wall.

NOT me running through the airport // 96. The age of this awesomeness.

When I sat down a week ago to start seriously dreaming about 2018, it wasn't the actual dreams that scared me the most (though they are all scary enough), it was that there were so many of them. Everyone close to me knows that the firm I co-founded five years ago has taken everything I had physically + mentally (and then some). The past 18-20 months as I started working on some additional dreams, I finally had to sit them each down one-by-one because I just couldn't do it all. I had the heart, but not the energy (mental or physical). So how do you balance all that you believe God is pouring into your hands?
 
You don't.
 
You simply don't.
 
//
 
First, you just have to lay it all down. Every dream, goal, idea...just lay them all down at the foot of the cross and ask, "Which one do you want me to pick up?" When he answers ALL of them, THAT is when you panic. I have spent a solid year (plus) panicking. I have pushed off all of these ideas for so long that even I wonder sometimes if they were ever truly for me.
 
Second...you go back to the well, the drawing board, and you ask, "How God? How do I do ALL of this?" In the past several months, he started showing me how by making me more and more frustrated with my lack of energy. I have to get healthy...physically. No more playing around. My problem is not a lack of dreams or a lack of faith, it is a lack of energy. Period.
 
Third, who doesn't want to be "fit" and wear one size smaller in clothes and all of the things we think about (especially women), but when I really started thinking about this goal and why I wanted/needed to make it a priority, I listed out all of the outcomes. More energy was the number one outcome I desired out of this, so while there are multiple VERY good reasons to make my health a priority (and I have them all listed in my planner), I am going to zero in every day on just one...Energy. Whatever the sacrifice, the output is I will have more energy to do ALL the things I feel called to do...dream of doing...frankly WANT to do. The desires of my heart take energy. Period. Full stop.
 
//
 
So...starting today my priorities are....
  1. God.
  2. Health.
  3. Everything else....
I am giving my friend free reign to revamp my eating, my grocery shopping (you should see what she did via my cell phone last night), my physical activity, everything that touches my health is 'on the table' and while I should be scared out of my mind, I am not. THIS is the only way. It is this or permanently set down everything else on my goal list for 2018. Not to mention that I simply do NOT treat my body well. I Band-Aid it with some super nice and cool things...take it for a walk every now and again....eat "relatively" healthy (or so I thought), but day in and day out I use it and abuse it as if it is disposable.....and eventually it will truly be disposed of, but until then, it is the one I got.
 
I am also going to let her guide me on what she wants me to share about this process as we go along because this is her own pretty cool dream to launch and help others with....but let me be clear....she has her hands full. I eat like a 16 year old boy who plays four sports. I skip all the important meals and then load up at the worst time of day. I don't work out consistently. I have forgotten more about nutrition than I know today, in this moment, at the age of 46. I don't understand nutrition labels, and to her horror - I don't read them. I am a creature of habit, eating the same thing over and over and over again - which again to her horror - is not the "best" things. I put my body and health dead last in the laundry list of things I care about...except when I have (had) a health crisis and it rears itself to the top of the heap.
 
The good news is that I like structure and am a creature of habit so if she can implement structure and help me (truly) create (permanent) habits, there is hope for me in all of this. Also, those newfound boundaries are going to serve me well as I implement some around putting the gym and a good breakfast above being the first in/last out in our office. Say what?!?!?! The truth is my team is getting leftovers now, this ensures that I am offering up my very best when I am there - mentally even more than physically. Just ALL good things can come of this priority-shift. *insert all the praise hands*
 
So....after seasons of changing my external environment, my mental and emotional health...now we tackle my physical health.
 
...and hand to heaven, I am giddy about it. {I see lot more airports in my future, and I NEVER EVER want to feel like I did this last trip. UGH!}
 
So that is my BIGGIE. Of all of the goals on your list for 2018, what is THE BIG ONE?
 
Let's do this.
 
#Hello2018


Update // The Art of Crafting a Year - Hello 2018

Back in January 2015, I wrote a pretty extensive blog post about my planning process that you can read HERE. I had been asked for years to document it, but I did not....because frankly it is a work-in-process (much like it's author). Of course, no sooner had I finally pushed that post out, I wanted to delete it - worried it was incomplete or too much. Since then, I have taught others from it, spoke on the topic, and continued to tweak my own process. It still feels incomplete and undone, but I am pushing through to write an update here and share. I believe I have learned a lot over the past three years since that original post; I guess you could say I have new words on the subject I want to share.
 

So....without further ado...

Planning is an art, not a science. I promise. If you are not looking at is as something you study faithfully and then make your own, you are going to fail before you start. We are all hot-wired differently and to try and all follow the same exact process is an act of futility. Case in point, my business partner has a once in a generation mind, but he couldn't follow my planning process if his life depended on it (and lets be clear, sometimes it has...;) because I thought I would kill him for not being prepared for this or that). I have learned over five years to let him find his own way (also called a lesson in patience #blessme). So, I BEG you dear reader to read this, click and read the links I am imbedding throughout, and then sit down with water/coffee/wine/etc., and take the time to figure out what your optimum planning process looks like. Don't be a child (like I myself often am) and just throw your hands up; do the work. It is worth it; I promise.
 
In the past, I have been ALL about finding a quiet place to start, but this year I got a little excited (like my niece's new puppy) and just dug in between meetings at the office. I squeezed in the tasks throughout the days, over dinner, and then curled up in bed before going to sleep. Yesterday, I knocked out the next to last - really the hardest part when you start pulling it all together (hence the link above to my detailed post), and then today I am making sure I have everything in my new 2018 planner. It is a WHOLE THING I can tell you that.
 
 
Here are things I have added:
 
  • Click HERE and sign up for The Well Studio Dreamers + Doers emails and get access to their FREE "Reflect + Refocus 2018 Worksheets" which compliment well...
 
  • ....the End of Year Reflection pages at the back of your Passion Planner which I have promoted for over three years; I love mine. The monthly and yearly reflections are amazing, but the real GIFT is the front "Passion Roadmap" pages which I can testify actually works as I just finished late yesterday my 2017 reflections and was SHOCKED at how much I had accomplished in a year where I was sure I had come up short. Joke is on me. It matters...this act of WRITING it all down.
 
  • If you use a Passion Planner and the "Passion Roadmap," I add a step highlighting those items that are carryovers from a previous year. I like to know what I am STILL working on.
 
  • I ordered my word for 2018 (see post about that HERE) on a Giving Key (link in the post) so that I would have it with me throughout the year to remind me. Also JEWELRY! Also job creation. Triple WIN.
 
  • I put post-it notes on my mirror (not new) with my word for 2018 (new) and reasons for it (also new) and my top three BIG goals for 2018 (also new) as a daily reminder while I get ready in the morning of what this year is about for me + God.
 
  • I started two additional "journals" for 2018. One for JUST the business I co-run day-to-day, and the other for EVERYTHING else (personal projects, ideas, dreams, writing, etc.). I have tried doing just one Moleskine for everything, but that just gets TOO hard...and confusing.
 
  • Going back to my planner, I go ahead and map out the first month and week in it. I really want to wake up that first day of the new year/first work day of the new year with a plan in place. It truly helps me.
 
  • I write out an "optimum" daily schedule, Sunday - Saturday, in the back blank pages of my planner. I write it in pencil. It is an optimum, but it also is apt to change.
 
  • I also added this year a list of "selfish" wants for the year. I have done a lot of gleaning over the past 5-6 years so this year I wanted to acknowledge that there are some things I don't really need, but I do really want in my life...and that is okay. Manicures and pedicures were at the very top of the list. I am such a girl (and proud of it). The list is made up of stuff I want weekly/monthly or even simply ongoing. An example from the ongoing list is that I really want to hire a virtual assistant. I mean FOR REAL. I have a lot of "pet projects" and board stuff I am involved with, and it is not optimum for me to be doing certain items tied to any of it. I need some tangible help. Also, lets be clear, there is a lot of stuff I am simply not very good at, and I am giving up trying to focus on getting better at it. I would rather focus on stuff I enjoy, need to improve on, or that I am good at and want to get even better at. Another ongoing is one I am really excited about tied to my HEALTH, but I am not leaking that one yet because I am going to be a guinea pig (a very willing one) so that will have to be shared in time.
These are the big changes, and I would add that one thing I am committed to this year is looking at this planner every single day, even if just for a couple of minutes. I invest a lot of time in prepping for the year and too often in the past, I sit my planner aside and get consumed in the hustle and bustle of the year. The whole point of doing all of this is to use it as a guide ALL year, EVERY day. Not hit it and quit it. I challenge you to do the same. Get one that is small enough (or big enough) to carry in your purse or briefcase. Keep it with you (like your cell phone or wallet). There is solid gold material in there - treat it as such.
 
Now...go find a place to sit and dream for a spell.
 
Wishing each and every one of you a wonderful new year.
 
Here is to 2018.
 
 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

lyon kè // lionheart

I have spent a week researching and praying and even discussing it with my counselor. More than any other year in recent memory, I am feeling ridiculously intentional and serious about "my word" for 2018.



A little background....

I believe in naming your years, but the last several years it has felt like the names chose me and my year instead of me choosing them. So interesting enough, the day after Christmas I read this HERE, a piece by Claire Diaz-Ortiz who in many ways is my mentor (besides the teeny tiny issue that she has no clue who I am). In it (and the embedded links to previous writings that she shares in it), she describes her process of choosing a word for her year; I became inspired. Pages and pages of notes, multiple internet searches, and then some translating apps later....I land the plane on lionheart and in Haitian Creole it is translated to lyon kè. Then I spent the rest of the week mulling and praying over the word. Each day through scripture and circumstance, I could feel the word becoming my own.



As I look up to the heavens now I whisper, "Thank you God."

I want to say to you reading this now, before it gets to deep, read the posts I have linked and pray about a word for your year. It is a very healthy exercise that has been fruitful in ALL of the seasons of my life.

So....I could stop here. You have my word. I have documented it. Moving on....

BUT...I am not going to do that. ;)

After reading Claire's post, I thought about 2017 and looked at the year ahead and really asked myself what did I want for 2018. Really want?

The truth is that the past 5-6 years have been FULL of lots of changes and soul-searching and purging and laying down of idols and building up of dreams and travel and growth and loss. When I really started looking at the words since 2012, the seasons I have survived....God revealed to me the pattern. {prepare yourself for one gigantic run-on sentence}

The piercing of my heart in December 2011, the facedown moment (i.e., the crash) in January of 2012, the brutal wilderness that followed throughout 2012, the #threeyearpurgefest of 2013-2015 where I tore my life down to the foundation, 2016 or the year of the excavation (i.e., brutal was the word that year) where my newfound simplified life helped me see that my foundation was not stable....AT ALL, and I began to dismantle ALL of the things that I (had) felt confident of prior (i.e., thank you counseling)....which left me in 2017 still reeling from some of the truths discovered in 2016 as I embraced "peace" (my word for 2017) and spent the year making peace with all I found under the rubble...who I had been, who I was, and I went on a journey of touchstones where God just walked me through my life (generally saved for the #lifepassingbeforemyeyes end of life scene in movies). I went back to Colorado to Haiti to all of the former "homes" to old dreams....and I just laid them all down, one by one...again. Then....God took more from me...loss and grief have dominated the past 45 days plus, and I have found myself #facedown once again at the feet of Jesus' wailing, "Why?!?!" only to be met with silence....and then JOY. I am smiling as I type because I love Jesus more today than ever in my life, and I know that I haven't even gotten to the good stuff yet. ;)

All of this brought me to here....December 31, 2017.

What in the bless-ed world?!?!?!

I sat on my bed cross-legged and asked God to make sense of ALL of this journey we had been on and give me direction for 2018. In the midst of my speech to him, I told him that I wanted to be more brave. Looking back, I realize now that all of my past "bravery" had really been bravado, false, and superficial. I wanted a bravery that came from him. I didn't want to be a "poser" (in the words of John Eldredge), but I wanted to be brave with my whole heart...from a place of reliance on God and God alone. Not me. Him. Only him.

A funny thing happens when you Google the definition of a word and it brings up every variation of it. There are a lot of variations of brave, but when I saw "lionheart" I knew...somewhere deep I knew. Lionheart is the adjective (meaning the attribute of the noun it describes). I want THIS word to speak to others of my life. Who are we kidding?!?! I want it to speak to ME about my life.

I look at a life built on self-reliance that while from the world's standards has served me well, it has never served my heart well. I never again want to be described as self-reliant. If my life does not SCREAM God-centered and God-reliant, then I have failed. Truly.

I started a board on Pinterest which you can see HERE to save images I could use to remind myself throughout 2018 of my word and my goal. I also ordered a necklace from The Giving Keys with my word on it (in Haitian Creole). Learn more about them HERE. I chose my word in English and Haitian Creole for two reasons...I love Haiti and the translation is shorter (hence able to be put on a key). Also, the story behind The Giving Keys is in the giving them away (I have given two of my necklaces to others over the years) when the word needs to be shared with someone else. Their story is beautiful, and I recommend reading their story on their website at the link shared above; it will touch your heart. I also have post-it notes up in my bathroom with my word on them, Bible verses, and a few of my other top goals for 2018.

I share all of this because I want you to know that I am just as prone as you are to forgetting and becoming distracted as the year gets away from me, so this year I am putting some action items in place BEFORE the year even starts to remind me of who I am, to whom I belong, and what this year is about for me. It doesn't simply stop with figuring out your word...it is how do you hang onto that word? Even when the fear creeps in...


So....back to my word. I really see 2018 as the year I take this new foundation out for a spin and see what God wants me to do with this one life of mine. That doesn't mean I don't have more to purge, or more to unpack in counseling, or that there will not be thousands of more lessons for my heart....but it does mean that we (me + God) have done the work....the good, good work, and it is time to set aside the old and walk boldly into the new.


I am finishing up my goal planning for 2018 today. I have spent hours and now days on it, and I have never been more content at where I am in the process the last day of the year. I really just want to bawl, not in sadness, but in pure unadulterated JOY. This is going to be a GREAT year. Not because I am going to accomplish everything I want or do everything I want to do or have success upon success, but because it isn't my year, it is God's. Truly, only God's. I am just the door holder for the King. My work, my money, my possessions, my talents, my weaknesses, my story...my one LIFE here on earth. All his, all for him, and I am the better for it today...and on all the days to come.

While In Israel last year (2016), I had a ring custom-made for me with "Where you go, I will go" (from the book of Ruth) engraved in Hebrew on the outside, and on the inside I had them engrave "Heather Ruth + Jesus" along with the date of my re-baptism in the Jordan River the day before (you can read that incredible and precious story HERE which ironically I used to kick-off my word for 2016 (laughing out loud now). I wear that ring on my right hand (a girl can still dream about her prince coming someday) every single day as a outward covenant of my commitment to Christ.

In 2018, I know that he will be telling me to GO in new ways (and GO doesn't always mean travel, as much as this #wanderlust addict wished that it did), and I am sitting here staring at my ring and committing to him once again...I am all in God. My "yes" is yours. Where you go, I will go. Always.

I believe that is the most we can ever dream for a new year...where you go, I will go.

Maybe that is just this girl. Either way, my heart is at peace in new, fresh ways, and after all that I have walked through....the only way that is possible is because of God. In him and him alone do I find my true desired rest.

So...here is to 2018 and I am offering up a new heart, one fortified and strengthened by God, not me. One that is brave and valiant, gutsy and spirited, daring and bold, unflinching and unshrinking.

I love you God, Holy Spirit, and Jesus. The Holy Trinity. You are my king, and I am your lionheart.

For all that was, all that is, and all that is to come. ("All That Is To Come" by Christy Nockels)

//

*Also, "Starlight (Live)" album by Bethel Music was the perfect soundtrack to finish this post out. So grateful for music...my love language with God.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

State of A Soul. Full or Hungry?

I have written a lot about grief over the course of counseling as it has been one of my greatest surprises during the process. Of all of the things I thought I knew, grief certainly would have been near the top of the list, but that is the rub - one can experience grief, but processing it is a whole other thing.
 
A. Whole. Other. Thing.
 
For me, a good-bye in any form from "see you later" to a season shift to death all trigger a level of grief that I am just now, 20 months into regular counseling, beginning to understand how to handle, process, yet even more....simply understand what is happening inside of my mind...body...heart. I would describe it as a random pile of fireworks and grief is the match that is lit on the end of just one....and then it is off to the races on setting off a random system of intense explosions inside of me.
 
My business partner describes my instincts as a 'holy superpower,' for which I am learning to listen, respect, and act on. That said, there is certainly pain in anticipating a season...when that season is loss and grief. Months ago before any of the loss I have experienced in the past 30 days, I felt it coming on. I talked about it in counseling. I wrote about it in my journals. The wind was shifting, and I felt it down to my bones.
 
Then it did.
 
Then. It. Did.
 
As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, hands clasped, I am weak from grief.
 
So....I go searching scripture and land on John 16. Jesus spoke plainly about grief and references Proverbs 14 so beautifully. There is a time for grief, but there will be joy again. Joy again. I think I have never fully respected the process of grief as I should, but then again who would or does? It is painful and icky, but I have seen others grieve well. I want to learn to grieve well. Out of true grief springs joy. I have seen it. I know it to be true. But....
 
We want the sweet without the bitter.
 
Proverbs 27:7...
"A full soul loathes a honeycomb; but to a hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet."
I wonder if the lesson isn't that inside the bitter IS sweet.
 
Someone I loved had tremendous grief in their life, yet they had the deepest vat of joy. They poured it out to everyone and everywhere. It was not of this world. They passed away last month, and I have been pondering the lessons of their life as I have experienced more raw grief with their passing than ever before in my life. Could the secret to their joy lie in the deepness of their grief? Could they have figured out some formula for converting grief to joy?
 
A full soul loathes a honeycomb, BUT to a HUNGRY soul, every bitter thing is sweet. Is my soul full or hungry?
 
What are you showing me God?
 
When Jesus was put up on the cross, it is said that he experienced the slowest death possible, literally bleeding out slowly. He was poured out. While in Israel last year, we were able to see the tomb where Jesus was taken (and rose from). In a little garden area nearby we worshiped and took communion. I am not sure why that memory came up just now, but I am struck that where his physical body briefly lay emptied out, we ate and drank of him....in remembrance.
 
Jesus poured out to fill us up. Unless I am emptied, I cannot be filled. If I am full (of whatever), there is no room for a "yes" to God for I am self-sufficient.
 
Yet....
 
If I am emptied out again and again, there is room for Jesus to pour into me, fill me up.
 
IF...I make room....for him.
 
If I never truly grieve the losses, storing them up in little kraft-paper boxes with red bows on the shelves, then there is only room for my grief, the pain, the loss - however neatly packaged and stored - the bottom line is that there is no room...at the inn...for Jesus.
 
To grieve is to pour out.
 
To love is to pour out.
 
To give is to pour out.
 
Last night, after a brutal yet beautiful day of saying good-bye to Gail, my friend and massage therapist of 18 years (she retired yesterday), and in some ways surrogate mother....I went to the store for some basics as I knew that today, my Sabbath, Sunday....would be a day to rest, grieve, write, etc. As I entered the store, there was a man with a sign. I had seen him when I pulled in, and I thought...I will run in with just my phone and credit card, no cash to offer, and I did. As I passed him, he asked and I indicated I had no cash, and he wished me a Merry Christmas. Inside I couldn't shake him, and while checking out inquired about getting cash back. I could, but the checkout person was inept and I had to leave with no cash. I passed him again walking to my car with bags of food, essentials, and a clump of fresh roses I instinctively bought for myself. He wished me Merry Christmas again. I got in my car and checked for my bigger wallet that I had not used since returning from France and inside there was $8.00 cash (I never have cash.), and without hesitation I snatched it out, folded it. I pulled out and around next to the front of the store, jumped out, and walked up to the man and handed him the money. He looked at me and then grabbed me in a big bear hug saying, "Thank you," and I whispered, "Merry Christmas to you too." I cried all the way home.
 
...but to a hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.
 
I don't know the state of your soul. I do know that, from my sole experience, to love and be loved by God is not perfect or easy. It is deep, messy, beautiful, and brutal. It shakes you to your core unwinding everything the world works to convince you is true and says, "This is MY heart for you." Being loved by God is personal and intentional.
 
In this season of grief I am walking through, I am learning the state of a soul. The state of my soul. Strangely enough, I am finding myself desperately hungry for more...and all that is to come.
 

In the midst of a brutal season of grief, there was this...pure JOY. {Dijon, France // December 2017}

 


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.