Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Providence Calling

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back.  Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." ~ Goethe (though there is debate)

Isn't that just one of the most powerful and terrifying things you have ever read?!?!

Today I had lunch with a dear friend (it started as business) who by the end of lunch was pulling out her IPhone to find me this quote (it ended as personal:)).  I nearly fell out reading it.  One...because I needed to hear this. Period.  Second...because this is the second time in less than three weeks that someone out of the blue, completely random, started talking to me about "providence".  Do you remember the slogan, "Avon Calling"?....you get the title now...:)

Do you ever have one of those moments where you look around to make sure you are not on Candid Camera?  I'm with you. :) 

I digress...

I have to say that I just love it when the entire universe is on the same script and screaming at me. :)))

Have you ever just Googled a word, or a set of words, and then clicked on image.  Try it...very, very interesting. :)))

I digress. :)

This is one of the many images you get when you Google providence + love....hmmm...:)

I heard this song on the way home this weekend called Beauty Divine, and it was if I was hearing it for the first time.  I thought of one my wonderful, dear mentors when the line "...just breathe..." came on.  Isn't it simply wonderful to be known by one person, by a handful, by anyone whether it is knowing all of you or simply a small part of you.  It is all wonderful.

I digress...:)

I have to admit...I am waffling in my commitment to move forward in a direction that nearly borders on insanity to my rational, safe, planaholic, simple mind.  I am waffling every day...Every. Day.  Then...as if on cue...I get a phone call, a lunch/mtg., a text, a message, an e-mail, etc. from someone who encourages me (sometimes unknowingly) to keep moving (yes Lee, I was listening), and trust.

"Chance is the providence of adventurers.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
I am going to have to embrace the "crazy" in all of this, and just be.  Just breathe.  Just keep moving. 

I am not sure what I believe about "providence" for me, or in my life, but I have a funny feeling I am about to figure it out. :)

Doors and windows open and shut in our lives every day throughout our lives. The question is not will they shut or will they open?  The question is...which one will you walk through, walk away from, crawl in, or crawl out of...hmmmm?

Lately it seems like they are flapping open and shut like the nursery scene (where they are cleaning it up) in Mary Poppins.  The kids can't handle the "magic"....and I wonder if I am any more capable than them.  That just made me smile.  I am being a child about all of this...but then I am in uncharted territory so that is probably to be expected. :)  I digress....again. :)))

So what is the lesson in all of this?

Breathe. Listen. Be. Be still. Just be.

The rest will come...

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

Monday, July 30, 2012

Renewal Calling

Finding renewal for your mind, body, and soul is so very important.  I am really struggling to relax and allow myself to renew right now.  I have so very much to do, but part of the doing (this time) is in finding some inner peace for myself.  *Sigh*

Renewal is Everywhere

This past weekend, I had the opportunity and invitation to get away and renew with my sister and her family.  It was just what I needed...when I needed, and the funny thing is I didn't really know how much until the weekend was nearly over.  I have got to give up my timing...God is so much better at it than me. :)

Sometimes the need for renewal screams at us...you get sick, you lose a big deal at work, you have one of those 'Calgon take me away' days (or weeks).  Sometimes the need for renewal comes as a whisper...sit down, breathe, take a nap...

I have zero idea what the week ahead will bring (outside of the normal 100+ to do list), but I know that I am better equipped to handle it because I come at it relaxed, with more inner peace, and dare I say renewed.

When was the last time you heard the call for renewal?  When was the last time you answered?

Note to Self ~ Stop and listen.  You will be glad you did. :)

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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Plan or Peace

I wonder if one of the reasons I am such a control freak is because I have so little patience.


I have gone from tremendous peace to unbridled anxiety to solemn indifference...and that was just in the last 30 mins.  *Sigh*

Honestly, I am paralyzed by fear right now.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel...I know what the end game is, but for the life of me...I cannot figure out how God is going to get me from here to there.  I am being forced to decide between making a plan or resting in peace (i.e., trust).  Don't help me...I believe I might know the right choice. :) 

Frankly, I am not good at peace, patience or trust.  I am a planaholic.  On my tombstone it is going to read "Make the Plan ~ Work the Plan"...I am not kidding. :)

The truth of the matter is that none of us are really "good" at patience.  Some of us simply hide our lack of patience better than others.  I am transparent...brutally so.  I also know that I have to get this right this time.  I have been here before.  I have gotten within ten yards and choked.  That is hard to admit, much less write.  Free will really sucks for the most part.  You can take that religiously or not, it makes no difference to me because the bottom line is the same....having to make decisions for yourself, by yourself...just plain stinks.  Giving it up...to others, to God, to whoever...well, a root canal would be more pleasant.

Whether to make and follow my plan or give up a decision(s) to God is my overriding challenge right now.  Can I do it? 

I don't know.


In the spring of 2011, I did one of those photo challenges on FB where each day you have to select a photo to represent/answer the question for that day.  I had forgotten about it until a sweet friend commented on the album tonight, and it made me go back and look through each of them.  A lot of smiles...thank you Whitney. :)

On Day 18, the challenge was "A picture of your biggest insecurity."  I posted the photo above and wrote the following:  " Am I enough??  I never had this concern prior to my parent's split, but afterwards it became my greatest insecurity, and it doesn't matter how many degrees, great love, great friends, great job, awards, etc. you earn...on some level, this will always be there poking at you. I am grateful that God has a bigger stick. ;)"

I now want to send this picture to every kid I met last week at CC.  They need it; I need it.

Do we plan out our days, our years, our lives because we don't believe we are enough, and if we keep the wheel turning then no one will realize that we don't have it all together/figured out?  Does the planning come from our insecurity about trusting God or because we simply don't trust ourselves?  Does true peace only come when you finally unclench from your death grip on controlling your life...your destiny?  Is part of owning my story, owning up to the fact that I have made decisions based on fear?

These are all things I need and want to figure out....for myself.  Am I the only one?

I believe in second chances...and thirds and fourths...for others.  Now I have to give myself a second chance at learning how to choose peace over plan.  This is NOT going to be easy, but I am trying to be brave. :)  Bravery is a beautiful thing, and we all have it within us...sometimes we just need to dig around for it for a little while....before we finally find it. :)

Note:  Planning is a wonderful skill set, and one I am proud that I have....that said, what I am talking about here is obsessive planning and plate spinning (for those who like anaologies) in order to dodge something deeper.

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

Monday, July 23, 2012

Love Never Fails

Little Leon's Popcorn Heart
This past week at Camp Caudle (and yeah...I am going to being posting a lot about CC for awhile...:)), "love" was a big "theme".  I was quite convicted about it because the fact of the matter is that there are several people in my life (directly or indirectly) that I don't "love like God loves me"...so to speak.  I am not proud of this fact; I am simply being honest.

There is a swing set at CC that I spent a lot of nights swinging in all by myself (I had forgotten how much I love swinging.) while the camp was dark and quiet.  Let me say the night sky at CC all week was spectacular. :)  Sometimes various thoughts raced through my mind, and other nights...I simply swung...and cried softly.  My heart hurt.  I didn't always know exactly why...

I digress. :)))

The truth of the matter is that love has failed me...often...in various types of relationships ~ parental, romantic, friendships, pastors, mentors ~ it has failed most, if not all, of us.  God's love...has NEVER failed a one of us.  Ever.  I have struggled to remember that, and have been consumed with the worldly version of "love" and not the one love that matters most...and the example of love that I need to be imitating.  *Ouch*

I have spent way too much time protecting my heart...instead of releasing my heart. 

Give that a minute to sink in...I need to release my heart...

I was introduced to Brandon Heath by someone I met at CC, and I have now downloaded every album to my IPod.  This song (click here to see video) spoke (no screamed) at me...

Love Never Fails

Love is not proud
Love does not boast
Love after all
Matters the most

Love does not run
Love does not hide
Love does not keep
Locked inside

Love is the river that flows through
Love never fails you

Love will sustain
Love will provide
Love will not cease
At the end of time

Love will protect
Love always hopes
Love still believes
When you don't

Love is the arms that are holding you
Love never fails you

When my heart won't make a sound
When I can't turn back around
When the sky is falling down
Nothing is greater than this
Greater than this

Love is right here
Love is alive
Love is the way
The truth the life

Love is the river than flows through
Love is the arms that are holding you
Love is the place you will fly to
Love never fails you

A couple of girls in my cabin one night asked me, "Miss Heather how do you view God?"  *Big Exhale*  After a clarification question, I replied....part of my answer described the best hug you have ever had (as I demonstrated on one of the girls' pillows...great pillow by the way), and I told them that God is holding us that tightly when we do good...when we do bad...he never releases us from the pure sweetness and tightness of that embrace.  He loves us...no matter what...the ultimate unconditional love. 

If we could ever learn to love each other the way God loves us...what a world...no judgement, no bullying, no discrimination, no name calling, no....the list goes on to infinity.  The problem starts with us though...the one in the mirror...we (the majority) don't love ourselves unconditionally.  We judge ourselves....we bully ourselves...we discriminate against ourselves...we name call ourselves....ourselves.  WE are our own worst enemy.  Then we turn all of that on others. *Sigh*

We need to spread love in this world...and...we need to start with the one in the mirror.

Love never fails me...Love never fails you.  Thank God for that...:)

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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Letting Go...Learning What IT Really Means

I have written a lot about letting go over the past couple of years.  I believe those were "fine" posts.  I still believe that we/I need to "let go" of a lot of stuff.  That said, I learned this past week that I have been holding on to something tighter than any "junk" I might have had in the past.  I have been trying to do God's will...wait for it...on my own terms...wait for it...directing and controlling the process.  *Big Sigh* :)

Giving up control on anything and everything else was a piece of cake compared to this...I'm just sayin'.  :)

This past week I realized (all too well) that I cannot in good conscious advise kids to let go and have faith in God's will for their life and NOT have it shame me into checking my control freak nature at the door.  I love the song I'm Letting Go by Francesca Battistelli (and yes...I know I am obsessed with her.) :)))

One of the (many) shockers for me this past week was realizing that one of my stumbling blocks in letting go of this was a fear that God would put me in a place where my heart was exposed.  Whoa.  That was scary simply to write.  If I control the process...I can protect my heart along the way.  That was my unspoken plan.  The Camp Caudle kids busted that plan wide open.  My heart is hurting right now.  I miss them, and I love them...BUT I wouldn't give up the experience in lieu of not having the pain. {Big pause for me as I write this...}

Today is "Auntie Day" and believe me when I say that I have been and am one super proud "Auntie" to three specific ones that have changed my life from day one to eternity and beyond, AND to so many that simply call me "Aunt Heather" as a term of endearment.  I love them all.  That love...that need...that I get from them...I have tried to contain and control. *Sigh* 

I digress...:)))

Sometimes the scariest thing is the ONE thing you need to let go and embrace...

"The best way out is always through." ~ Robert Frost

I am sad that it has taken me SO long to bust through this fear.  It is time for me to lose control of my destiny....I am terrified, but I am more terrified that if I don't...I am going to miss something amazing that God has planned for me.

What does letting go mean to you?  What scares you the most?  There is no better time than today to dive in and find out. :)  You will be glad you did...:)))

*To all of the "Aunties" out there....Happy Auntie Day!! :)))

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

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Motion of Mercy...A Lesson from Camp Caudle :)

"We are more broken than we know, which means grace is bigger than we imagined." ~ Wade Poe (he may have stolen it :))

My final day at Camp Caudle, I saw this from my friend Wade.  He was not at Camp Caudle, but he could have been based on this quote alone...and the timing.

I could post every day for the next month, and I am not sure I could cover all of the lessons I learned in the past eight days at Camp Caudle.  I may have been a counselor, but I believe it was I who was being counseled. :)

As I drove the long road home, I listened to my sweet Jordan's favorite, Francesca Battistelli, and the song Motion of Mercy came on, and I knew...

If there is a song that captures this past week (for me), this is it.  Lee and Brent did a great job with Spiritual Warfare and making the point that God IS love.  Period.  End of discussion.  I have so much to write on that alone.  We have to do more.  We have to love more.  We have to show more grace.  We have to preach more love...more grace.

I digress....:)

The kids this week humbled me.  They reminded me of my own unworthiness.  My own personal struggles.  My own challenges in remembering that we are all broken in some way, and that God's grace reaches each of us...wherever we are...ALL the time.  Our world PUMMELS these kids.  Our world pummeled this (me) kid when I was their age (okay...even now).  I saw the most beautiful, talented, loving, big-hearted kids SO full of insecurities and doubts.  I shook my head in disbelief at the damage Satan (i.e., the world) has done to their spirits...to their hearts.  They were thanking me for believing in them, and I was saying no...it is I who needs to thank YOU....each of you. 

I have been at peace with a decision that I have been challenged with for over six months now, but this past week...that peace solidified.  I don't know how...but it did, and I am sitting here (still without a bubble bath I desperately need...I smell SO bad! :)) in awe.  I thought I knew the path God was putting me on, but I believe God just threw in a curve ball I was not prepared for...he is SO funny that way. :)  God wants more from me...*Sigh*...:)))

I remain only vaguely aware of what the next months and years hold for me, and yet there is SO much more that I am unaware of....I only know that it will require me to give MORE of my heart.  {Oooh....my body just twitched.  My vulnerability five bell alarm just went off.  I am going to have to get over it.}  A bunch of kids, angels sent from God, showed me that this past week.  They think I taught them something, but they taught me....and I have a sinking suspicion they have a few more lessons for "us" (them and me) in the months and years to come.  Someone warned me that Camp Caudle's Livingstone's week would change me; they were all too right. :)))

So....my prayer for each of the kids I met this past week is that they will not only run THEIR race, but that they will run the race that GOD intended for them.  For some of them...we may be running it together. ;)

"More than three thousand years ago a man named Job complained to God about all his troubles and the Bible tells us that God answered. Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paused fiercely, rejoicing in his strength and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing, He does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground. He cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds." ~ Penny Chenery, Secretariat

God IS love....and that is the Motion of Mercy. The lesson has begun...:)

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

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Search of Changing the World

I have this funny theory that all of us wish in some small way, in some deep dark place inside of us...that we could actually change the world. 

Maybe I want to believe this because I have that wish, and because it doesn't seem to be staying in the deep dark place it always has been...I am a girl in a state of flux.  Who are we kidding...I live in a constant state of flux. :)

I often wonder what my little life would be like if so many people had not stepped in at various times to "save" me, love me, carry me, listen to me, support me, cheer me, pray for me, give of themselves TO me.  I shudder to imagine.


I have been packing like a woman on a mission for the past couple of hours.  I am headed to church camp...as a counselor....give it a minute to settle in your mind. :)  As I was packing up my toilitries eariler, I suddenly stopped, and I sat down and prayed.  I prayed that God would give me big ears to listen, big arms to hug, big smiles to encourage, and the right words when necessary.  I prayed that he would take all of the "me" out this week and put all of "him" in so that all of the humanity of me wouldn't influence these kids...but that the love of him would permeate their hearts if even in a small way.  I prayed for his wisdom...not mine.

I live a life that is all about me...maybe some of you that read this can relate.  I'm not speaking of pure selfishness, but I am speaking in a way that you do your job...you run your family...you do the things you should...Every. Day. 

Part of my current state of flux is that the life I lead is not satisfying me in the way it always has in the past.  The past six months and a half months I have been questioning the "safety" of my life.  I do and I do, but what I have to show for it no longer holds the same value (in my heart) that it once did...maybe I never listened to my heart before in these matters.  I simply don't know. 

This upcoming week has been on my calendar for over a year.  It is a commitment that I made to two very special people this time last year when I couldn't do it then...because of career commitments.  Who could have predicted that this week was coming at such a pivotal point in my journey.  A journey not for riches or glory, but a journey for my heart.

I have no doubt that I will get more out of this week than the kids I am being sent to be a "counselor" (lets all use that word loosely :)) to.  I have no illusions that I am going to be a catalyst to change the whole world this week.  All I am hoping is that I can act as a pebble being tossed across a pond.  Just a tiny ripple will do, and if I never know the effects of that ripple...I am okay with that, and that my friends...is a first for this girl.

"Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee, and do not try to make the universe a blind alley." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I head south in a few hours, and I am told there will be limited to zero cell or Internet service.  That means no posts for awhile...I am not one of those crazy bloggers who writes ahead...I write in the moment.  Sorry. :)

Please pray for me...for those I will impact...and lets all pray that my impact is positive. :) 

Someone told me yesterday that I was going to have lots of jewels in my crown (after learning of this week).  I immediately laughed.  Nope, I am simply trying to offset all of my many sins.  I can't even see the crown yet.  Maybe that is seen by some as negative, but I believe it is me seeking humility that allows me to see myself as a sinner in need of a Savior...Every. Day.  I don't see myself as good or bad.  I see myself as a child of God, and a work-in-progress.  That is just fine by me.  If it isn't by you, that is okay too.  :)))

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Art of Listening

Sometimes we all just need someone to listen to us.

Period.  End of post.

Just kidding. :)

Actually, there is a lot to that one sentence.  A lot more that I just learned today through two events.

First, I am watching Morning Joe and they start discussing the new cover of Newsweek that concerns technology, kids, etc.  One of the things brought up is how we are raising a whole generation of kids who don't know how to hold eye contact.  Now you are probably smiling, but think about it....look around at any small or large group of kids and they are all looking down reading or typing texts, e-mails, etc.  It got me to thinking....so much I brought it up in one of my meetings today to get other's input.  We had a fascinating discussion about it.

The second event happened after work when I went by to visit my dad and step-mother.  My father is still recuperating from his triple bypass ("triple bypass plus" as I call it...he had some extra :)).  He is doing well, but not up running to the mailbox or mowing the lawn yet.  My visit lasted three hours, and I am pretty confident that I talked the majority of the time.  We discussed everything from personal to professional to church to church camp to a crazy FB post to a friend who is sick to...on and on.  I can only imagine how selfish this sounds....but I have to be honest....I went to visit him, but I needed the visit more...much, much more.  I had no idea I had that much built up on my heart and mind.  Wow!

All of this got me to thinking....

Disclaimer...I type about 90 words a minute.  I probably talk twice as fast.  I text...a lot.  If what I am about to say sounds preachy...relax....I am preaching to ME. 

I wonder if we have forgotten how to listen to each other.  We are so busy.  So very busy.  We are running and doing and planning and doing and going and doing.  When do we ever have time to breathe....to stop and listen?  I dare say we don't.  On top of this, we do so much electronically which further limits our face time with other humans...whether it is texting or e-mailing instead of calling.  Doing our banking online, mobile, or at the ATM instead of going into the bank.  We don't pick up the phone to ask questions of company x, y or z....we e-mail them.  We don't call our family and friends to see how they are...we text them.  We make a lot of excuses like we don't want to bother them, etc., but is it more?

I don't know the answer...for me or for you.

What I do know is that I needed someone to listen to me, and by accident (or divine intervention) I got it.  It took me three hours to unload about three days of built up "stuff".  I don't know about you, but that says something to me.  Something in addition to the fact that I need my dad stuck in a recliner more often. ;)  Just kidding. :)))

I need to listen more.  I need someone to listen to me. 

I need to slow down.  I need to take a few deep breaths every now and again and simply breathe. 

I need to pick up the phone more and e-mail less.

I need to pick up the phone more and text less.

I need to visit people in person....sit down and just talk...and listen.

There is an art to listening.  I am going to give you the secret...it is turn off the phones, the laptops, the television and simply sit with someone(s) and have a conversation.  Yup...it really is that simple.

I am going to be counseling at a church camp next week with little to no cell phone coverage, and I know this is going to be shocking for most friends and family...BUT wait for it....I absolutely cannot wait.  I cannot wait!  I need to go off the grid....for myself, for the kids that are coming to the camp, and for the other counselors.  I need to BE in the moment, in all of the moments, next week. 

It just hit me...maybe today's lesson was to prep me for next week.  I am a little slow...:)

Whatever the point...I enjoyed and needed tonight so much.  I am so grateful that God always sends people into my life right when I need them.  He is so very good that way.

So...go off the grid for a few hours, a day, a weekend, a week.  Try it out.  See what you think.  I think you will be glad you did.  I will let you know how next week goes..off the grid. :)))

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

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Life Unexpected

Anybody out there remember that film titled "Life Interrupted"?  I remember the title, yet I have no recollection of the film at all.  No need.  The title makes you think...right? 

My life right now is made up of hundreds of unexpected things...events, people, opportunities, dreams, worries, prayers, loves, old pain, new pain, great joy...and that was just this past weekend.  :)

I digress. :)))

The point is that life is rarely made up of the expected.  Life, in all of its wonders, is made up of the unexpected.  Right?  Right.

At church we have had some wild discussions about predestination...whether we are or aren't...the discussions are nothing short of fascinating.  Whatever you believe, and that is not for me to judge, it is a wonder that so much of our lives is about controlling our lives.  We work to control our schedules, our careers, our families, our kids, our parents, our churches, our schools...and on and on.  We like control.  We are human.

I wonder, and this is from a certified Type A/OCD, if my life would somehow be less stressful if I would just learn how to better ride the waves.  I re-watched Parenthood (the movie) last week, and the last scene spoke to me (sadly) as the grandmother described how she loved roller coasters and how some just liked the merry-go-rounds.  Hmmmm....

I want the roller coaster (though don't get me wrong...who doesn't like the merry-go-round from time-to-time), but I have to learn to accept that with the roller coaster comes the unexpected...and oh my, things I cannot control...*Ouch*.

I'm learning.  I promise.  I am learning to ride the waves of the unexpected.  I am not a pro...yet ;)....but I am learning to accept better the things I cannot control...and the things that I can. 

Embracing...no thriving...in the unexpected (see how I threw in a little positive reinforcement/personal cheerleading for myself :)).  Just another sign this girl is growing up.  I guess it is about time. :)

When something unexpected (good or bad) happens to you this week...try sitting back and riding the wave instead of trying to control it, fret over it, or analyze it.  Just be.  Be. (and breathe...).

Let me know how it works out for you. 

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