Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Long Walk of Faith

I have individuals all over this great state that I am proud to mentor.  I mentor some professionally.  I mentors others personally.  Some just think I am mentoring them while really they are mentoring me. 

If I have accomplished anything in my 41 years, it is because I was taken in by people who loved me, mentored me, pushed me, believed in me...even when they could (and maybe should) have NOT.  Bless them.  Bless their hearts.  I work hard to make myself available to others as so many have made themselves available to me.  I continue to get the better end of the deal.  All the way around. :)

So, I find it strange as I wind down parts of my life and wind up other parts of my life...so too, are many of these mentorees. :)  All of that said, as I am learning to better walk in faith...I get the distinct pleasure of watching them do the same.  It is a long, hard walk.  It is even harder and more exhilarating to watch someone go through then even to experience on my own.  Color me surprised by that.


I am proud to be watching people put themselves out there...romantically, professionally, new ventures, new ideas, new processes, new cities, new....New.

What bravery it takes to step out and try something new...whatever that "new" is.  We should applaud people that try...not necessarily that win, but simply try...because the reality is that so many simply do not. 

Reach out to someone and show them a little love for stepping out there.  Encourage someone that is afraid to try.  Give your own self a pep talk...reminding yourself that you are still here, therefore YOU still have purpose. 

The long walk of faith is not for the faint of the heart....but it is worth the effort.  Beyond every cloud is the sun.  Beyond every storm is the sun.  Beyond every night...is the sun.  Sunshine.  Gotta love it. :)
 
"For we live by faith, not by sight." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You're Beautiful

How many times do you say this to another woman...another person?  How many times do you say this to a child?  How many times do you say this to yourself?

I have been downloading songs from the Captivating Retreat and creating a play list on my IPod so that whenever I need a pick-me-up, I can just go directly to the play list...and be transported. :)  They gave us a list of all the music played during the retreat, and as I have been downloading them, I have been struck by how many are titled "Beautiful" or have it in the title, or it is simply a focus of the lyrics. 

Hmmmm...

Okay....I got distracted.  My Twitter and FB feeds are blowing up with the debate (I am clearly not watching it.), and something about binders must have been said. *Sigh*

That actually feeds into my original train of thought...women.  We are beautiful.  God made us beautiful.  He made us in his image.  We don't always treat ourselves beautifully.  We don't always treat each other beautifully.  We don't always appreciate God's beauty.

October is "Stop Bullying Month"...that makes me SO sad.  What does that say that we have to devote a month to something that should just end....never happen in the first place?  What is happening to us?  We tear down instead of build up. :(

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."~ Albert Einstein

The above is one of the most powerful quotes.  I believe it to my core.  I have been bullied (in the last month actually), and I know how awful it felt...I am an adult.  Imagine a child?!  I have also witnessed evil and not confronted it.  Shame on me!

Enough.

We have to "own" our actions.  "Own" our words.  We have to stand up to evil when we see it....When we are bearing the brunt of it.  We must take the time to build each other up.  To tell the children around us how truly beautiful they are.  To tell the adults in our lives how beautiful they are...how much they mean to us.  How much we love them. 


I saw this picture on my way back from Colorado, and I thought...Yes. This.

Just love yourself...love each other.  Lets start a Love Revolution and see if that can catch on as fast as "Binders Full of Women" did on FB (32,000 in 51 minutes according to a friend of mine). 

Here are a few songs to inspire you on your quest to think of "Beautiful" things....

You're Beautiful by Phil Wickham
 
Beautiful by Kari Jobe
 
Overcome by Jeremy Camp

Love.  Just Love. :)))

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

God Met Me There

I must say that I am not particularly excited to get up and go this morning.  It is the final leg of a trip that started early last Wednesday morning, and it will come to an end this evening when I arrive at The Workshop.

I have had the loveliest, most amazing time...both traveling alone on the road trip portion and at the women's retreat in Colorado.  I see myself and my life in a different way.  I have a sense of peace regarding my future.  My body is resting in a deeper way than it has been...well, in months, maybe in years. 

Last night I posted the lyrics to Hopeless Wanderer...I have literally and figuratively come out of the woods.  I am wondering how I am going to be able to explain to those I love what happened during those four days at the retreat.  I called my Sis late yesterday afternoon and then Mama when I got to the hotel, and I could not find words to describe...other than simply repeating, "It was awesome!" over and over again. :)))

I remember a line in one of John Eldredge's book, or on one of his podcasts, where he talked about going away and just communing with nature, alone, over a few days.  Just him and God.  He paused briefly when recounting the story, and then says, "...and God met me there." in the softest, delicate of tones.  It was a simple statement, and it was beautiful.  I have absolutely felt God with me in my life, but not like what I heard in John's voice, his tone in the re-telling of his trip.  I felt it completely over the four days.  Completely.

During the retreat, we were given numerous times during the day for absolute quiet (no talking to others, etc.).  It was a time to journal, to reflect, to pray, to meditate, to sleep...whatever you needed to do.  Below is a picture of "my spot" where I spent those quiet times.  This is the final picture I took before leaving yesterday.

My Spot.

...and God met me there.

*Exhale*

I don't know what else to say or how else to explain it.  {Though my journals would be KA-POW WOW. :) }

I left a lot of old baggage, dead weight, tears, mistakes, sins, regrets, fears, torments, anger, pain, and angst on that mountain.  Whew!  I feel lighter...literally and figuratively. :)))

I have a long road ahead of me...a lifelong baggage carrier cannot be completely cured in four days, but I am further along than I have ever been before.  Mainly because I see where the baggage comes from, my own role and responsibility in "packing and carrying" it, and how to get rid of it when it starts sneaking up on me again.

We all have "stuff" that we carry around with us...Every. Day.  Whether we want to admit it or not, this "baggage" impacts our relationships, our work, our play, our friends, our families, our church, our decisions...Everything. 

I forgave myself for a lot of sh*%, and I was reminded by God that he had no recollection of ANY of it because he had forgiven me long ago.  How I love myself...Every. Day. is a reflection of how I love others. *Ouch*  It is also a reflection of how I allow God to love me. *Sigh*

I met some tremendous, glorious, wonderful, warrior women in Colorado.  I am not alone in this journey.  We all have a long road.  We must build each other up.  Support one another.  Love one another.  I love them.  Big (((HUGS)))!!

Well...as much as I don't want to...it is time to pack up the Jeep one more time and head East.  I am not alone though...I am not afraid.  He is here.  Still.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. " ~ Proverbs 4:23

Everything I am. Everything I will ever be.  It all begins and ends with my heart. :)

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hopeless Wanderer

For all of you hopeless wanderers out there...
 
 
You heard my voice I came out of the woods by choice
Shelter also gave their shade
But in the dark I have no name

So leave that click in my head
And I will remember the words that you said
Left a clouded mind and a heavy heart
But I was sure we could see a new start

So when your hope's on fire
But you know your desire
Don't hold a glass over the flame
Don't let your heart grow cold
I will call you by name
I will share your road

But hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer
And hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer

I wrestled long with my youth
We tried so hard to live in the truth
But do not tell me all is fine
When I lose my head, I lose my spine

So leave that click in my head
And I won't remember the words that you said
You brought me out from the cold
Now, how I long, how I long to grow old

So when your hope's on fire
But you know your desire
Don't hold a glass over the flame
Don't let your heart grow cold
I will call you by name
I will share your road

But hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer
And hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer
I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I'm under
I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I'm under
The skies I'm under
 
~ Mumford & Sons

This song played as I was leaving the retreat today...it spoke to me on a whole new level.  I had to smile and then laugh out loud; I wanted to share it.  There is a link (click on song title at the top of the post) to the video.

Enjoy. :)))

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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fire In The Sky


Sometimes you simply know deep down inside to your core that you are not alone.  For me, this was one of those moments as I captured this sunset shot in Kansas last night.

...and not because when you travel alone you talk (and answer) yourself...:)  I hope the people passing me think I am singing. :))) 

I made the conscious decision to drive instead of fly to Colorado.  It is working beautifully.  I can feel my mind clearing, the tightening in my shoulders starting to ease, my heart is opening, and I feel more peaceful...dare I say calmer.  The anxieties of my life that have become so prevalent in my high stress, fast charging, massive volume of intake of information, decisions to make, people, deadlines and demands of life...are melting away as the miles pass.

In 12.5 hours yesterday, I covered 652.7 miles...that is a lot of melting...:)

A friend of mine gave me a CD of songs...on it was Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes, and I got the point of the song (and my friend's reason for including it on the CD) immediately.  Immediately.

Let me digress...

Recently I had a situation in which when relaying to this friend, I wistfully joked that I needed a "vice for times like these...".  He just smiled....knowingly.  The joke was on me, and I just got the punchline.  I do have a vice...it is called stress and busyness.  I knew this already.  Why do I have to keep learning this lesson??? *Sigh*

The fear for any of us in this world is not that someone takes the brightness from our eyes, but that we allow it to be sucked out of us.  We allow.  Whether we allow someone else to take it, or we toss it aside casually like a worn out bag.  The point is it is our joy.  Our choice.

A person's life is in their eyes...love, joy, sadness, anger, hatred.  What do your eyes say about you?  Did someone steal your joy?  Did you let them?  Did you simply give it away?

One ticket for the roller coaster.  One life. 

At the wedding this past weekend, Ethan and I laughed, searched for various nuts, cracked open every nut we found, oohed and ahhed, ate cake (well he ate cake...and lots of it), and crawled up (in my lap) and took a nap.  I want to live my life more like a child.  A child squeezes the life out of every moment and then takes a nap.  How beautiful is that?

I have been giving my joy away....not all the time, but more often than I would care to admit.  I allow individuals, businesses, situations, etc. to suck the brightness from my life.  I allow.  I am a willing participant...and there is the lesson. 

"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." ~ Psalm 16:11  

My life is going to be changing...A LOT...over the next three months, but whatever it looks like on the other side of this, there has to be more space built into my life by me for JOY and less for JOY SUCKERS.  I am consciously aware, more than ever, that it is my responsibility to both build the space in for it...and to not allow it to be stolen.

I always cherished the nickname Sunshine...consider myself reminded that I need to live up to the name....once again tap into that little girl who plastered smiley faces all over the interior of a church bus in the parking lot before getting caught by my great uncle.  That kid knew and lived joy...it was in her eyes, her smile, and came out in strange ways because she was just that happy.  Her and Ethan would have gotten along swimmingly. :)))

Fire in the sky...I am off to chase the sun again today. ;)

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Colorado Bound

I had a rough time Sunday night....I knew almost instantly that it was a "sign" from God.  The week leading up to this Colorado trip has been one of the strangest of my life, and it only took three specific strange things before I figured out what was going on (if only they had stopped at three)....I am a dense one sometimes.

*Sigh*

I have been planning for this trip for nearly a year.  I entered a lottery system in July and found out a week later that I had won a spot.  The spot was for a women's ministry retreat in Colorado.  I will post more details later, but needless to say I had a heads up from a friend of mine who did the men's ministry retreat through the same place that it was a life changer....in ways I wouldn't fully understand until I went through it.  I got hit with some of it this past week....and I know without a doubt it was prep for the retreat.  I simply KNOW it.

If there is one thing I have learned the past two years, it is to be more aware of the "signs" around me.  I believe everything happens for a reason...even if it simply due to our own stupidity.  Life is made up of our choices...Every. Day.

Back to the start of this....after Sunday night, I woke up Monday in a dreamy fog of anticipation over what the next two days could have in store for me...I mean thinking of the week prior...anything could happen at this point.  Right?!  Right!

Pinned Image

Well, what happened was that God swung open a couple of doors...WIDE.  Leaving me simply...breathless.

I am still breathless...

I got home tonight (late)...I still have to unpack and re-pack a little (most of my packing I did a week ago....I am just a teeny bit excited about this trip), do some last minute work e-mails, check my schedule (I am driving the whole way in the Rubicon...by myself...VERY excited...alone time is precious gearing up for this and then decompressing on the way home afterwards), e-mail some emergency contact information to a few people, etc...and finally....try to get some sleep (good luck with that).

I set out tomorrow, and I swear I feel 18 years old.  Isn't that funny???  Especially since I am ABSOLUTELY sure I never felt like this at 18; I was way too serious to feel like this...

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Life is an adventure, and I am thrilled to once again feel that thrill of the unknown...what is around the next corner...I have absolutely NO idea, and I could not care less.  What I do know is that it is well with my soul.  Where there has been pain, God has brought sudden overwhelming joy.  Where there has been doubt, he has brought peace.  I imagine (if my friend is to be believed)...this is only the beginning of changes for me over the next week. *Phew*

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For everything there is a season...I can tell the seasons have changed in my life...quite literally. :)))

I will post when and as I can...please send up thoughts and prayers for a safe journey and for me to learn all the lessons that God has in store for me...:)))

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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Beauty In Walking Away

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I just got off the phone with one of my oldest and dearest friends, and his wise counsel gave me pause.  It wasn't really counsel actually...he was teasing me that he and I needed a helper...actually, I told him he needed a nurse which led to us both deciding that we didn't know no better than to get ourselves in trouble from time-to-time...(working outside when it is freezing and we have a sinus infection to trying to lift a table by ourselves (we were the kids that played in old refrigerators out behind the barn...everyone is nodding knowingly now because you either were one or knew one of those kids)...and we were in desperate need of a "keeper"...:)))

Maybe you had to be there...

The thing is that I have had to deal with a business for over a year, and it has not been a good experience...At. All.  They have been rude to me, disrespectful, condescending, sexist...on top of which they can't seem to actually DO the job they are being paid to do, and they don't seem to like me holding them accountable for the job I have paid good, hard earned money for.  Well, I lost it yesterday.  I mean LOST it.  I hit the wall as they came back a fifth time in a month, third time in a week, with a mistake.  *Ugh*  They took no responsibility for the continued mess up, had no solution, and then appeared dumbfounded when I looked at them incredulously and said I have had enough and walked out.  I actually might have yelled that last part.

Long story short...I am going to have to deal with them at least one more time because they have messed up the original problem so much that it is actually worse than before so I am almost hostage to them until they can get it (at a minimum) back to the original problem.  *Double Sigh*

By the time I got home, I was still shaking...and suddenly crying.  At them?  Oh no...do you not know me....I was crying because I was mad at myself for losing my cool.....for lowering myself to their level.  *Triple Sigh*

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Oh it sucks completely to be me sometimes.

I have to say that I told Lee part of the story this morning, and he laughed out loud...he had just had this discussion with someone else about how women feel bad after getting upset or standing up for themselves...and I was NOT offended because he was absolutely right.  Absolutely.  First, it is hard as women to stand up for ourselves. Second, if we can rustle up our gumption and actually do it, too often we are made to feel unladylike, *itchy, etc.  Third, whether we are made to feel that way or not, we inevitably ALWAYS feel guilty for being unladylike, etc.  It is a viscous cycle.  I am a living example of that cycle. 

Sometimes it is better to simply walk away. 

I say that, but I must add that you really should not spend your money, your time, your efforts on people, businesses, etc. that are not respectful and kind towards you...whether you be man, woman, or child.  We can speak volumes with our pocketbooks and our choices.  This is something I am working hard to remember.  It is never okay for me (personally...not preaching) to lower myself to their level because with my personality, I always feel worse on the other side (even though I might have been fully justified).  For me, it is better for me to simply walk away and give my business to people who are customer-centric, to people around me who genuinely care, and to things that give me joy (not frustration beyond belief).

This whole experience is causing me to do a self-audit.  What businesses do I give my money to that are not good (in general or specifically)?  What people are in my life and sucking the joy out of it...and out of me?  Where do I need to stop beating my head against the wall and quite simply and quietly walk away?

Bless my heart.  I want to save the world and right the wrongs, but I can't save everybody nor right all wrongs.  I must...must learn to be okay with this.

"I am with you always." ~ Matthew 28:20 (even when I don't deserve it)

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

Afterthoughts...

Often once I write, publish, post something...I come back to it later wishing I had said something a little differently...not misspelled so many words...wish I had added a certain quote or photo...tonight for me it was wishing I had added a song to this particular post.  Diana Krall's latest album Glad Rag Doll came out this week.  My nearest and dearest know that I am a HUGE Diana Krall fan, and I tribute her music for helping me to survive 80 hour work weeks combined with nightly MBA classes for many years.  That said, she has a song on the album entitled Wide River to Cross, and I must say that it feels autobiographical for the way I view my life...but in particular how I have viewed my life this whole year, and ironically the things I continue to learn about myself on a daily basis (like this post's topic).  I consider myself an imperfect, work-in-process, a sinner not a saint, a girl at heart, a woman to my core, tenderhearted, driven, a refugee, saved by grace, a gypsy, and loved.  That last one is a kicker...at my best or at my worst, I am loved.  I know that.  I forget it...a lot, but I usually remember in time.   I hope you know that you are loved.  I pray that I learn to show more love, more grace, and more understanding...for all of us have a long, hard road in this life...and a wide river to cross.