Monday, December 23, 2013

Words



Words matter.

I write all the time. All. The. Time.

I write this blog. I write social media updates. I write proposals. I write e-mails. I write invoices. I write business plans. I write thank you notes and letters. I write journals. I write.

I also speak. A. Lot.

I speak kindly. I speak in anger. I speak words of praise. I speak words of pain. I speak words sweetly. I speak words of frustration. I speak.

In a season of my life where my words matter more than they ever have....I think about my words...A. Lot.

I weigh pros and cons before sending a text. I proofread proposals until my eyes cross. I get input. I often worry I get too much input. Too many "editors" of my words. I weigh even that out...Too. Much.

I have been hurt by words. I have hurt others with my words. For those two reasons, I think about words even more than I should....some say it is because I am writer. I say it is because I am tenderhearted. Too much so of the latter.

When I am weighing my words, I tend to go quiet. Hauntingly quiet. I fear the pain my words will reveal, or the pain my words will inflict. Someone has hurt me, or I have hurt someone...and I want to be tender and hit pause to gather my thoughts...let my heart catch up with my emotions.

I learned this skill from Mama Doretha. I can't tell you the times I have watched her sit and simmer in pain...weighing her words and her emotions. Words she wanted to say....but didn't. Words she wanted to say...and did. Weighed carefully so that they might be spoken with the love that was always behind them...even when she was in pain. I don't know that she was always like this...she has told me stories that reveal she wasn't always perfect at this (though she seems pretty perfect to most everyone I know that knows her) nonetheless it is clearly something she has spent time practicing...fine-tuning...grown into...so to speak. Of all of the lessons she taught me (both actively and by example) this would be in my top two. It is a skill that I have thought of a lot this past week...due to both things happening nationally and things happening in my own little world. I have paused a lot and thought what she would do and say...how she would advise me...and I have thought how I want to be just like her when I grow up...she really is a walking marvel of wisdom, grace, and love. I am not good enough to touch her hem in this regard (or any other for that matter), but because of her example....I have hit pause (wisely) this week and weighed my words...my responses. Bless her heart for taking the time to teach me.

I digress...

In a world that is moving way too fast, I am a woman moving way too fast. I am not alone.

My Christmas Wish this year is that the whole world will hit pause on their words. Pause.

Once said, e-mailed, texted...they cannot be taken back. They are out there. Words are power. Words are love. Words are weapons. Choose wisely. Pause until you can choose wisely.

Other tips...Don't promise things you cannot deliver. Don't say yes when you mean no. Don't say no when you mean yes. Mean what you say. Think before you speak.

I am taking this entire post to heart this Christmas. I have spent a lot of time in my life apologizing for hurting with my words. I have shed a lot of tears over words spoken to me that have cut deep. This talkaholic is hitting pause. I am going to spend a lot of time just breathing...listening...loving over the next few days. Celebrating a season, a birth, a love of one whom I do not deserve. Do. Not. Deserve. I want to change the world. I want to make a difference. I need to make sure my own house is in order. Taking stock now. Today.

I am not Catholic, but on my bucket list is for one year to go to Midnight Mass. When I was in college, I stayed up all night one year and watched the televised one from Rome. Just me sitting in the dark with the television on and my twinkle lights flickering everywhere. It was breathtaking. Breathtaking. There is something just SO right about sitting there immersed in the spirit of God and Christmas and Love. I don't necessarily understand all of the words...but it doesn't matter...because I "get" the emotion.

...and Hmmmm.....

Words reflect our heart.

...and there it is.

May this Christmas our words reflect the very best of our hearts. Let our hearts be cleansed by the beauty and innocence and gift of a season of reflection and gratitude. Let us operate always from a place of love. Whatever else we are...let us be those that love.

Merry Christmas!

With All My Heart....Heather

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

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Loving Every Season...No, Really



What a day....and it is 2 p.m. *Sigh*

I had to come into the office to work after a glorious brunch with a dear friend....and I have little choice but to write what is on my heart if there is any hope of me getting the teeniest, tiniest bit accomplished this afternoon at the office.

So...what is brewing (read that as bothering) you now Heather Ruth you might be thinking....

Well...my own mortality actually. I need more time...and it is bothering me...to the point of distraction, and I am struggling with how to deal with it.

I was getting ready yesterday, and I stopped cold when I caught my reflection in the mirror and realized I looked old. I mean....OLD. Wrinkles where I had not noticed them before....my skin not as elastic as I remember it being, gray hair in new places....hair growth in new places....What. Is. It. About. Our. Aging. Bodies. God.???? His ultimate joke I think....Forced humility. I have no problem aging....and have embraced the changes over the years with a lot of laughter...until the past few months. I am wondering what has caused the shift?? Why has it gone from funny to....panicky....not because I am looking older, but because I am realizing I am actually GETTING older....and it makes me nervous. Very. Nervous.

There is this great song a friend of mine sent me a few months back called Every Season by Nichole Nordeman (click the link for a beautiful video of it on YouTube), and it just came on (my entire iPod is on shuffle while I write)...how fitting. Fitting.

I am so envious of my friends and family who take this time of year in stride....they get all of the extra stuff done, host beautiful Christmas parties, bake, wrap, shop, and all in addition to their otherwise extremely busy lives. I remember being one of those people...once upon a time. Not anymore. I am drowning. Drowning. So...add to it my mirror moment..and you have a girl in full meltdown. Oh there were tears. Puddles of tears.

I digress...

I sent my friend of e-mail....what is wrong with me???  Ending with....I just hope I look back one day and can simply say I survived this season....I mean it is the sweetest season of my life...but tired...Oh honey....I am so tired. My tired is tired....and I am supposed to do Christmas on top of everything else? Seriously?! Oh My Sweet Lord Help Me!!!

So...in the midst of my mini-nervous breakdown (aka Pity Party), I read this..."Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed." ~ Proverbs 31:8...

Well....CRAP. (...and I started laughing...)

Purpose. Sometimes God gives us purpose in the strangest ways.

Better yet....he reminds us of our purpose in even stranger ways.

...and He laughs...knowingly.

...and now I am crying...AGAIN.

I need a hug. A big, oversized, super long HUG.

Let us be kind to each other this holiday season...to those with much, to those with little, to those with nothing, to those who are stressed for reasons we do not even know, to those who appear to have it all together, to those who do not, to those that get a year-end break and are joyful, to those who do not get a break and are extra frazzled, to those who are helping those with very little to nothing, to everyone...lets be just a little extra kind....

I want to BE extra kind, and I want others to be extra kind TO me....because I too am frazzled...

I love where I am at....I love this season of my life....and I love the holidays on top of it...but that does not mean I am not 30 seconds from an emotional break. Just sayin'.

....and the touching part....is that I. Am. Not. Alone.

So....lets save the world, sip our hot chocolate, take time to pray, do our jobs, make our lists, and every once in awhile....lets remember it is okay to breathe....take some extra time to hug those in our lives when we see them. The "To Dos" aren't getting any less...no matter how hard we work at them.

Maybe our purpose isn't in checking the items off our lists, but instead in the ones we add to them....

Hmmmm....a change of perspective from "have" to "get to"...

I get to run a company, help start a non-profit, go to Haiti, plan a trip to Africa in a few months, have brunch with a friend, work in my office (when it is incredibly quiet), go Christmas shopping and sip eggnog in SoMa tonight, do laundry (a month's worth) tonight when I get home, clean my house for guests, go grocery shopping, find ways to Christmas shopping for those I love....and on and on....

Maybe I slide in last minute on a few of these....maybe I e-mail Christmas cards this year....maybe my house isn't spotless for visitors this week and they have to make their own bed....maybe I don't accomplish each of these (and all the rest) perfectly....maybe that is all okay...maybe I am okay...Just. As. I. Am.

Maybe, just maybe....You. Are. Too.

I am loving this season...I keep saying it to people (and myself) as I pinch myself....but that doesn't mean I have mastered a perfect life or that I am perfect or that I am even attempting to be perfect (if you know me, you know I gave up on that YEARS ago)....but that doesn't mean that life and the world doesn't push those perfection expectations down on us...All. The. Time. So maybe today it was good for me to remember that perfect is not who I am; that it is not even in my vocabulary....and that NO one who truly knows me OR truly loves me wants a "Perfect Heather" anyway....what fun is that?!?! :))))

So.....here is to shattering that perfection expectation. Hell, we are all getting older....God has big plans for our lives....we all have too much to do....Why?

We woke up this morning. Period.

Savor the season...the seasons of your life...the seasons on the calendar...each are important. To you. To someone you love. To someone you will never meet. It. All. Matters.

Love. ❤️☀️

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The View


My view. 

Hmmm...

I have seen this view a lot in the past year. 

This view has watched me..

Grow. Cry. Write. Run numbers. Write business plans. Write blog posts. Write papers.  It has seen me on blind dates. Business meetings. Bad days. Worse nights. It has seen me celebrate. Commiserate. It has seen me...Live.

What is your view?

How has your view changed in 2013?

How will it change in the new year?

Yesterday I realized it was two weeks until Christmas. Two weeks!!!! Where has this year gone? 

This view knows...

I sit here starving, exhausted, blissfully happy, and nervous. 

What I am most though is blessed. 

Today at 42 I know who I am. Who I am not. My non-negotiables. My sins. My strengths. My passions. My friends. My family. My heart.

Mostly I know my God. My center. My compass.

I am a girl. I am a sinner. I am grace.

My heart hurts. My heart loves. My heart lives.

Someone said to me last night, "Heather you are trying to save the world." I threw by head back in nervous laughter...

....and I knew....I guess I am. 

I simply want to show there is grace and a chance....simply a chance...to change your world as you have been led to believe it is limited to be. 

The limits are the great lie of this world. They are spoken in dark places of our souls that we are unworthy, undeserving, and not enough. I want to squelch that lie. It is not true. Not. True.

I end this year with hope and joy for the coming year. Pure. Joy.

I can't wait to see what this view sees in the year to come...

For all of us.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful. ❤️☀️


Thankful.

Absolutely thankful.

I am sitting here surrounded by some of my favorite people, pjs on, an amazing Thanksgiving dinner cooking (the aromas are intoxicating), the parade and now football blaring, laughter, prayers for a little girl and her family whom we will be taking dinner to in a few hours (in our pjs) as they spend their Thanksgiving in a hospital with surgeries and worries and prayers, and I am....Thankful.

When I was a little girl I had what I have often joked was a Norman Rockwell life...before I lost it. I spent thirty years trying to get it back. I failed. I have spent the last few years healing from not only the first loss, but the second...#brutal


Somewhere between the text messages from friends and family near and far, the breathing and snoring throughout my home, and a hot cup of coffee this morning....I realized what God had blessed me with was more of the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving variety...and that the key word was...Blessed....and that I was beyond grateful...and I was suddenly humbled.

There are many items on my life goal list that I will never have....but what of the hundreds of blessings I have been given...those that at nine I would not have dared to dream???

...and that is the lesson....

Our lives are not a list. My life is not a list...checked off or unchecked. It is life. Life.

Here is to the misfits and those that fit in beautifully....to the lonely and those surrounded in love and fellowship....to the sick and to those at the healthiest time of their lives....to those that are rich and those that are in the darkest of poverty. 

Let us love...more.

Be thankful...more.

Say thank you...more.

Be grateful...more.

Life is the path we make once we realize we are lost.

I am embracing being lost in the grace that fuels my life.

Happy Thanksgiving! ❤️☀️

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Magic and Fire ❤️☀️


I absolutely love this quote. Love.

I am not sure if it means "mad" crazy or "mad" just not going to take it anymore, but I am good with either. ;)

Women so often get deemed with this as a "slight" because we are "angry women" and such nonsense. My belief is we should embrace it...double down as it were. I am "mad" about making a difference, changing the world, being better (not bitter), spreading love not hate, finding where we agree instead of belaboring where we don't. 

You can't hate someone into your belief system (politics, church, life), but you can love them there. Build people up and they will listen to what you have to say. Tear them down, and they will run...Run from you...and your words...and your beliefs.

So....this Saturday morning as I rest from a week of "madness" before another week of more "madness"...I am laughing knowingly....clearly a fire has been placed in me that cannot be extinguished, and I know from whom....and my job is not to defend it or rail against it...it is simply to love and learn and grow and Be. 

It took a few hours of rejuvenation and joy from a Sis that loves me and inspires me and pushes me and disagrees with me and IS equally "mad"....and I am grateful and renewed. 

Women. We can either build each other up or tear each other down. Our choice. Our individual choice. I believe we can join with good men and change the world. 

In fact, I am counting on it.

Magic. 

Love it. ❤️

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Becoming Myself...Taking The Long Road (Brace. Yourself.)





Oh how true this is....and oh how long it took for me to figure out what mine was...

Okay...I haven't figured it all out yet, but I am getting closer. Breathtakingly closer...:)))

and....*Breathe*

It has been a long winding road to get to this day....this moment....this season of my life. I am so grateful to finally be HERE. It feels so lovely. So good. So meaningful. So frightening. So purposeful. So vulnerable.

I am SO happy...to be Right. Where. I. Am.

I nearly allowed myself to get taken out...with career, family, lies, heartbreak, disappointments, goals that were not aligned with my heart, rules....I nearly "controlled" my life right over a cliff. I lost my voice. I lost my way. I lost my purpose. I lost myself.

I sit here today....with less of what the world values....but with a joy and soul tank overflowing...on the brink of explosion.  I am happy....In. My. Own. Skin.

*Breathe*

I just let out the deepest exhale....that came from somewhere...cavernous in my soul. *Tears*

This weekend I spoke at a campus student ministry's girl's weekend retreat. I headed up there Friday with two bags of materials that have CHANGED MY LIFE these past couple of years, a prayer in my heart, and a whole lot of trust that Jesus would show up and give me the right words....heck...any words...so that I might be of value to these amazing young women.

Having picked up Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey (a book just released that I have had on pre-order for some seven months from Barnes & Noble), I have to admit I was a little concerned that I would spew "Heatherisms" and not "Jesus" if left to my own devices. Not only did I not have anything to fear, but I ended up reading a bit of the book to the young women...because it fit so beautifully. Beautifully.

See....we are all women....women with large hearts....lots of love and emotions. Women searching. Searching for more. Searching for meaning....for purpose...for direction....for love. Love to give and love to receive....and love in all forms.

We are women.

....and Jesus loves every last one of us.....

....and Jesus loves me. Little ole' me. Screwed up, flawed, beautiful, driven, big hearted, potty mouth, sinner, lovely, striving, tenderhearted, orphaned, control freak, loving, heartbroken, lonely, hugger me. Me.

If someone had only told me that at 18, 19, 20, 21, or 22.

Becoming myself isn't about me. It is about releasing Me. Allowing my life to be led by my heart, by trust, by love, by giving, by being....instead of being the perfect this or that....the perfect friend, daughter, Christian, volunteer, worker, Aunt, etc....

In order to release myself, I have had to embrace my shame....embrace my vulnerability. It has been difficult, terrifying, and humbling. I am extremely vulnerable....guess what, I am okay with that...and admitting that I am not strong as an ox emotionally is not life-ending. *Shocking*

Being the "strong one" sucks and I am moving closer and closer to a day where the urge to BE that....doesn't motivate my daily life.

Life. Life...with all of its glorious ick...is not ALL of MY responsibility. *Sigh*

I have taken the long, hard, winding road to Becoming Myself, and it has been an arduous journey (one that is far from over) this past couple of years, but I know every moment of the journey has been necessary....Necessary. *Sigh*

I am grateful to the women in my life....with their arms wide open, their hearts wide open, their beliefs ALL over the map....who have LOVED me through this....Who are loving me through this even now. I am grateful to every man and woman who has believed in me, encouraged me, loved me....EVEN as I was searching...even as I continue to search now. Being loved...by a tribe of women, of men, of people who "get" you is the greatest gift. A gift I have never experienced prior to the past few years....and it has been breathtaking and lovely and the gift of my life.

What I love most...the VERY most is those in my life whose beliefs about Jesus, God, religion differ dramatically from my own....and yet who have LOVED me with a love unlike any other....been my friend...my cheerleader....my warrior....to say, "I don't get this, but I love you, and I love to watch what is happening in your life." What LOVE that is....what unconditional, accepting, beautiful love that is....and I have NEVER been worthy of it, but I am immensely grateful. They read this crazy blog, and they know who they are, and I love you. Each of you. With my WHOLE heart.

Life is a journey my friends and tribe...it is a journey that takes us down winding roads with twists and turns. There are enemies (seen and unseen). There are friends, and some of them in the most unusual of places. There are lessons. Oh MY! There are lessons. There is love. There is redemption. There is healing. There is joy. There is LOVE.

If I die tonight, I die with a heart full of love and joy....knowing that what two years ago I thought impossible has happened...my heart is healed...renewed...full. It comes not from anything this world has to offer or has given to me, but instead it comes from Jesus....not the Jesus of my childhood, but the one who was there on that cold pine floor that day I thought my life was over....when I fell to my knees and said, "I am done. Everything I believed true is a lie. I am done."

In my early 20s I wrote songs (don't laugh), and in one I wrote the lyrics, "...sometimes God has to break us to build us up again...". Those words were prophetic. Because he did and he did.

My life has been one of control, goals, protection.

I sit here now...having willingly given up control, different goals, and no protection. It is a world, a "Heather World" gone mad. 

I have NEVER been happier. Sitting here alone in an Irish pub with a bun-less burger (dipping my toe into Paleo (Thank.You.My.Liver.)), a laptop, tears in my eyes, and a happy heart...I swear I have never been happier.

....and that is how Jesus works...In. My. Life.

Perspective; it is nice to see you. Welcome.

*I just re-read this post, and I am bawling. In my booth. In a pub. Well played God. Well played.

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beauty & Resilience...A Tribe



So I have this tribe thingy...it is strange, growing, diverse. Some of the women know each other...most do not. They blow my mind. They build me up. They hold me accountable...to...My Life.

So....I have this tribe.

*Sigh*

I have had the worst "re-entry" pangs since returning from Colorado. I am spinning. Spinning. I want to go back to Colorado. I needed more time in that fishbowl. I am unhappy that I am having to balance all I experienced (read that as learned) with the crashing reality of my life. A very demanding life. I just want to hit pause for a brief moment. I need more of THAT.

*Sigh*

I am so grateful that God has sent me these wonderful, warrior women who genuinely care about me. They don't necessarily always understand me or what I am going through, but they are such encouragers to me. They genuinely believe in me. They push me down paths that I don't believe I am ready for....read that as PUSH....they are, at times, forcing my growth. I am uncomfortable more than I am comfortable. There are times that they push me into a new space, and it takes me two days on the other side of it to re-gather my bearings. Is this what having a tribe looks like? I believe it is. I also believe that this crazy tribe developing around me is my holy grail.

This girl is growing up.

So much for thinking I had...a long while ago. *Nervous Laughter*

I had a message from one of my "tribe" this morning...a relatively new member of this growing phenomenon I am experiencing, and she was asking me questions, but the final question struck me (and caused me to finally break my writers block post Colorado). They asked, "Is this okay? This bouncing with you?"

Why Holy H*^* YES!! (First. Thought.)

Wow. (Second. Thought.)

She is helping me more than she believes I am helping her. (Shaking Head...Third. Thought.)

We women are strange creatures. We don't want to "bother" anyone. That worry of ours isolates us from each other. Not physically necessarily, but emotionally....in the deep, dark places. Those places we really need to share and be known. Where our deepest healing lies...because our deepest pain is stored there.




There is so much beauty and resilience in a tribe. In being known. It is like coming home. A home you have never known. The funny thing....I am only at the tip of the iceberg of what this could be...

Men "tribe" naturally...beautifully really. Women need to take a lesson from men...here. We need a tribe. We need a diverse, beautiful, pushy, loving, encouraging tribe. The women in my life inspire and amaze me. They give me strength, hope....love.

Our lives begin and end with connection. The key is...we have to allow ourselves to connect with others....and be connected with....and that is the beautiful story that encircles the moments of my life these days. I am SO blessed. Exhausted, making mistakes (I made a specific one last week....a silly one actually that made me cringe...*Ugh*), scared, flawed....etc....BUT blessed....living with greater purpose.

To the women who love me and believe in me...even when I give you no reason. Thank you....you complete me. :))))

To those women who need love and someone to believe in them. Welcome to the Tribe. Show love. Believe in others. It gives others courage to show you love; to believe in you. THAT....is how it works. That is the foundation of a tribe. Love. Belief. Courage. Resilience. Perseverance. Faith. Empowerment. Connection. Love.

The whole world begins and ends with love...with connection...with our hearts. Learning to operate solely from there will, I pray, be the legacy of my life. It is absolutely the CHALLENGE of my life. I am scared....Every. Day. I am also inspired.

I sure hope we all keep asking questions, opening up, and encouraging each other....because true JOY resides in lifting each other up.

Encourage someone today, and you will find your joy...There.

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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Here I Go Again ~ Kissing the Waves


So....here I go again....:)

I am flying to Colorado tomorrow morning for Captivating...Advanced. ❤️

For those that remember my eight day journey for Captivating last October, this year should equal that intensity times ten. Wowsa!

I feel myself on the edge, arms spread wide open, huge grin on my face, misty-eyed, a joyful heart, and ready....Ready. I need this. I need this time with my heart. I need the long covenants of silence. I need to commune with nature. I need the meditation...the adventure...C7....but mostly....I need Jesus to show up in a big way. I need to cover some old ground with him, some new ground, and I need to listen. I need to L.I.S.T.E.N. in a big, BIG way.

My life is a circus, and I am still trying to be the ring leader. I need wisdom on how to give that up. I have made progress; I am not satisfied with it.

I need a reminder of the joy in my every day life, and I need to fill up my joy tank. I need a reminder that every day I am given the opportunity to put in and to take out....of my own and of other's...and I need a reminder of how to do just that. 

I need more joy and less striving in my life.

Joy! :)))

More Joy = Less Striving*

*I suspect.

"You show me the path to life." ~ Psalm 16:11 

Every. Time. ❤️

I am proud of the lessons learned and survived this past year. My heart has been healed. I am probably at my healthiest (physically) in three years. Prayer is a part of my work, as well as my life. I have cultivated a tribe of women who love me, who know me (or I am working to be known by/learning bravery in vulnerability). God has given me answers to some of the biggest, burning questions of my life, and though I  haven't agreed with all of them, I am blessed to be hearing him in a new way....as I learn a new and deeper way to walk with him. I have work in my life that matters (as well as pays the bills)...a blend of my gifts, my heart, and my passion to be a helper. I also have new adventures with women, children, orphans, Haiti, connections, mentoring, scholarships, and writing....that I could not have imagined 22 months ago...or even 12 months ago. I have family and friends and mentors. I am blessed. God has blessed my heart. He has shown me joy. He has healed me. And yet...

I want more. I need more. 

More JOY.

They say the more you give away, the more you get back...and that is so true...yet too...the more you feel joy...oh how much more you want...and you have the urge to get it, feel it, and share it.  Joy is the cat's meow (so to speak).

So....I am off to pray, to learn, to mediate, to journal, to praise, to push myself in an adventure(s), to give hugs, to listen, to love others, and to fill up my joy tank....and to help others fill theirs.

"I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the rock of ages." ~ Charles Spurgeon

Yes...Yes I have....❤️☀️

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Tapestry of Grace



I know it has been awhile...

I am sorry.

I have been working through some stuff...and sometimes writing isn't always how I do that...oddly enough.

Friday night I wrote a post on a private blog that my C7 women have together. I was raw, open, embarrassed, troubled, searching, and spent.

They responded.

I am here today to write that I am a woman who is becoming truly known...

I started writing more and deleted it. I want to let that statement simmer in me...and in whatever readers I have....

*Pause*

I literally just laughed, smiled, cried, and relaxed my shoulders...all at the same time.

You know when you think you know how much something means to you, and then you learn how very much something means to you...and it is MORE?!

Yup.

Let me just say that the family that I have....the friends that I have....the church that I have (and that does NOT mean a building)....the community that I have (and that is not geography)....the tribe that has been created around me (that means tribe ;) ).....the work that I feel a calling for (never, ever, EVER had that before).....the causes I feel drawn to and the "community" they each bring with them....the people, strangers, that are becoming my allies (and that means champions of my heart)....all of these....All.....are helping me to let go and allow myself to be known. Known.

We are all such frauds in our lives. I put myself out there as having been a huge one. We hide from who we are, what we believe, who we love, who we don't love, our standards, our sins, our strengths, our wins, our gifts, and on and on. We are frauds because we don't want to get hurt....because we have already been hurt, and we don't want to feel that EVER again. We are frauds because we have built marriages, families, careers, and social media profiles around who we believe we are supposed to be. Who are parents told us to be. Who are church told us to be. Who are friends told us to be. Who are employers told us to be. Who do we think we are supposed to be???

I lied to myself for years that everything in my life was completely dependent upon me. I was then consistently surprised when things did not work out. I was also consistently surprised when they did. Hmmmm....

I had this encounter Friday night that shook me to my core. Who I once was met who I am becoming, and I felt shame. Had I done anything wrong? No. Sinned? No. Lied? No. Changed. Yes.

Huh?!

We are not allowed to change.

*Whoa.*

....and now it just got real....

We don't give ourselves the permission to change.

Now sometimes others don't either, but the shock for me Friday night??? Was that I hadn't allowed myself permission to change. I struggle desperately to be comfortable in my own skin. It is a huge failing in my own eyes. So when someone says something to me that is an observation (positive or negative) on something that is distinctly "Heather"...I tell you....I freak. Don't worry...only on the inside. ;)  I am so...SO....much better today than I have probably ever been (ask my Sis...even she has noticed), but I have miles....I tell you honestly...miles before I am where I need to be. It is a battle for me. Truly.

So.....to be "known" for someone like me....is beyond difficult. The difference today is that I realize that I have to fix my own issues with being comfortable in my own skin before I will ever be in a place where I can be truly known by others. That has been a year's journey in the making...I am actually coming up on my anniversary of that a-ha moment. (just realized that as I was writing :)).

So what caused me to start writing this....well it has taken me two days to become brave enough to sit down and write in my "regular" blog...this is me being BRAVE. Writing has saved me these past few years, and it is here, writing, that I sort out the rumblings in my head, my heart, and my spirit. I also know that I am not the only one out here battling....not the world, not God, not society....but battling ourselves. The demon within.

....and *Sigh*....

I fly to Colorado this Thursday for a four day Advanced Captivating Women's Ministry Retreat. It is the "advanced" version of the one I went to last October. This is the first "advanced" one Ransomed Heart has done...I know, I know...First Edition. ;) :)  I am equal parts terrified and beyond ecstatic. Five of my C7 will be there, and just the thought of the hugs we will share, the connection, the joy, the safety of being with five people who "know" me and love me and encourage me and allow me to do and be all of that for them....Well, it is breathtaking.

In just one year, my whole life has changed....from the inside out.

It hasn't, and isn't, always comfortable for me. It isn't easy. It has been lonely at times. It is a journey that I don't want to ever repeat. I don't see that I ever will...my tribe would not allow that. ;)

Allowing ourselves to be real, to be known...is to be vulnerable, to stand up to shame and regret...it is SO worth confronting all of that ick. The journey is worth it. The work is worth it.

I am not where I want or need to be...I am a work-in-process if ever there was one, but I am putting in the work. Change is not for the faint of heart...

I'm just Heather. Nothing more. Nothing less. I am a crazy, jigsaw quilt, a beautiful tapestry.

Friday night I was searching for something to soothe my spirit. I was rattled. I tripped over (read that as God sent) this song Tapestry by Hillsong United, and it did just that...as it rocked me...because in letting go of what I believe other's expect of me...in work, in life, in church, in friendships....it means I have to stop striving....and I can't give up one type of striving for another....because then I am just switching out addictions. My name is Heather, and I am a striver. Bless my heart. I want to be good. I want to be liked. I want to be loved. I want to be the best at my job. The best friend. The best daughter. The best sister. The best aunt. The best Christian. The best organizer. The best at sculling. The best facilitator. The best board member. The best partner. The best at being vulnerable (dang you Brene Brown). The best...the best...the best.

I am exhausted.

Friday night the women I have allowed in my dark places met me there when I cried out....I am not the best. Sh*t. Now what do I do??

Now...now, you live.



I am a recovering striver.

I battle it every day. Every. Day.

What would our day look like if we weren't all "striving"....if our churches didn't strive, our businesses, our government, our world...what if we just lived? Relaxing in the goodness of a moment, a day, a lifetime? What would that look like?

I have no idea. {Laughing here. Nervously.} I really don't, but I know that I want to know what my life would like if I wasn't striving to be so stinking (not really the word in my head) perfect all the damn time.

Our lives are tapestries of grace...Grace. No matter your beliefs, lives, shortcomings, or a multitude of other caveats...it doesn't matter. Your life...my life....our lives are tapestries of grace. We have to learn how to show it to each other more and ever more each day, but my lesson...THE lesson....is that if you don't learn to show grace to yourself...in the moments, in the days, in the years of your life. You will not...you will not EVER be able to show grace to others. You cannot offer others what you do not offer yourself.

....and now I need to lay down....because that just took me out.

*Sigh*

Maybe I am growing...maybe I am learning to believe in grace for myself...Whoa.


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

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Connection, Myths, Ordinary People, & Our Hearts


Truth.

There are no ordinary people. Period.

Why do any of us want to be ordinary anyway? Fit in?

Yesterday, I gave a speech/presentation/training on Connection ~ Being A Connector. Wowsa! It is the first time I have ever spoken in a group setting about my theory/passion regarding connection. Now I have spoken a lot about it one-on-one, but this was terrifying....what if they laughed OR worse...were bored.

Well, I am pretty animated, speaking with my hands, big arms, big voice, big smile....I was figuring at the worst, it would be an hour of comedy.

Oh...and they were filming it. Kill. Me. Now.

So, I am in a coffee shop a few weeks back, and my theory on connection comes up...which is why I even had the wild idea about using it in the presentation yesterday....I mean, it wasn't what the group putting it on were planning for or expecting....but this new "connection" said, you should talk about this idea of yours. Huh? Really? Nah.

Hmmmm.....

So I did.

I have another gig to talk about it again to a different group next month.

Hmmmm.....

I. Have. Lost. My. Mind.

Lost. It.

So, I am sitting here on this absolutely beautiful morning, wrapped up in a shawl, my third cup of coffee, on my deck, laptop, highlighters, books, journals, newspaper, food wrappers, converse, pens, sunglasses, and lip gloss surrounding me.....

Yeah...I am not sure about that lip gloss thing either; I am addicted to it. I can't wear lipstick. I like to look pretty for myself? Pick one. :))))

I digress....

So, I am sitting out here reading, writing, and highlighting (not in any particular order), and I am buried in shame, vulnerability, and wholeheartedness....and I am sighing (loudly) wondering if I am ever going to be able to get away from this stuff?! Why is it haunting me? Okay...it isn't haunting me (it just feels like it is), but it is unnerving me and rocking every area of my life. Read that as Every. Area. Of. My. Life.

Suddenly it hits me....maybe it was something that came out of my mouth yesterday....or something I read this morning, but suddenly I realize.....connection and shame/vulnerability are completely inter-connected. Completely.

Why don't we connect more, better, period? Yup....don't worry....it took me a minute too.

So when I saw the picture above, I said (to myself) that is it. That's it!!!!  Until we embrace the fact that there are no ordinary people (including us....especially US), and that we don't want to be "normal" anyway...and we start looking at people's hearts which is where you see their inner-amazingness...which is so often hidden by the guardedness, shame, stress, etc....well, we won't have true connection.

Hmmmm....

I believe we live in a world craving connection. We have a connection deficit.  In fact, the social media generation (young-ins (is that a word?)) are actually better connected than some of the rest of us...they are all "hooked" up, and are at least reaching out (I found myself defending teenagers yesterday...Yikes!). The truth is that we exchange business cards and digits, but are we exchanging our hearts? I just started shaking my head as I typed that...No...we are NOT.

Brene Brown writes that we cannot show others what we do not show ourselves...

*Ouch*

Nobody took my joy. I gave it away. Did you give yours?

You are not going to be able to truly connect and be a connector if you don't give a damn about people....and to give a damn about others, you first have to give a damn about yourself.

Let that sink in.

This morning I slipped on a pair of pants I haven't had on in three years. In fact, my wardrobe that has been hanging in my closet patiently waiting on me to take care of myself again, is now giddy as they see my eyes and hands headed towards them once again....after a long winter.

If we give everything we have, everything we are, without personal regard to ourselves or our own needs, we will wither and die...or blow up like a balloon, suddenly have major health issues, lose our joy, piss away our money, hibernate in a cave, lose relationships we treasure, lose the relationship we treasure with ourselves. A reservoir or a canal. How are you choosing to live your life??? Really ask the question.

Connection is all about heart. Connection starts with your own heart. Connection is the invisible red string of yarn that connects all of our hearts.

Yesterday as I criss-crossed the state, I had my entire iPod on shuffle. Suddenly Francesca Battistelli's Beautiful, Beautiful came on....and before I realized it, I was singing it at the top of my lungs. I hit reply...twice.  I was going to quote them, but here are all of the lyrics....


"Beautiful, Beautiful"

Don't know how it is you looked at me
and saw the person that I could be
Awakening my heart
Breaking throughout the dark
Suddenly your grace

Like sunlight burning at midnight
making my life something so
Beautiful, Beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All I need
you are so
Beautiful, Beautiful

Now there's a joy inside I can't contain
But even perfect days can end in rain
And though it's pouring down
I'll see you through clouds
Shining on my face

Like sunlight burning at midnight
making my life something so
Beautiful, Beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All I need
you are so
Beautiful, Beautiful

I have come undone
But I have just begun
Changing by your grace

Like sunlight burning at midnight
making my life something so
Beautiful, Beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All I need
you are so
Beautiful, Beautiful

Like sunlight burning at midnight
making my life something so
Beautiful, Beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All I need
you are so
Beautiful, Beautiful

"...Like sunlight burning at midnight making my life something so Beautiful, Beautiful..." There are no ordinary people...we are all amazing, we all have something amazing about us, in us. Believe that. Live that. Love that. About. Yourself. Then, then...you can find true connection with others....because you have truly connected who you ARE with the truest thing about you....your heart.

I love this life. It is so nice to be finding my joy again. I smile knowingly...it was with me all along...and if you have lost yours...know it is waiting for you giddy, awaiting your return...to yourself.
 
"Authenticity is having the courage to let others see you as you really are." ~ Charlie Efford

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What Cancer Has Taught Me About Love

 



My friend has cancer.

It sucks.

You know what else sucks? Feeling helpless.

This isn't about that though....it is about those times when the cancer patient is acting a little...well, unlovable....and you love them anyway...and maybe even more....because dadgum...they are facing cancer, straight up, and fighting...For. Their. Life.

Love.

So here is what I have discovered about loving someone as they face (for the fourth time) the evil that is cancer.

When they are tense....you learn to pray through the moment, relax your shoulders (maybe your eyes), take a deep breath, and see their heart...not their tone (or even their words sometime), but look at...Their. Heart.

You chuckle through their pensive text messages when you know that making dinner plans with you is not the "fun" that it once was...in fact, it is probably down right annoying to them, but they do it...for you and them....because they need to spend time with you as much as you do them...and getting out of the house is more "necessary" than fun.

When you try and help, and it is not needed or wanted, you hurt for a moment, but then you put yourself in their shoes...and you are grateful once again...that so many love them and are also trying to help....and realize them not needing you THIS time...is okay. Oh...and it isn't all about you. Note to self. They are the one with cancer. Duh.

You learn that your daily drama, while important, can't be compared to what they are facing...and so you find other outlets with which to share, knowing that a day will come when you will mesh back in sync sharing all of the silly dramas of the day...today isn't that day....and that is okay....because they are fighting for their very life, and that is where you want their efforts to be...so that the silly days with them can be there in the future.

You learn that the depth of your love has no real end...you get misty-eyed just talking about your brave friend...and you realize that a glimpse of them at there worst is worth it because they are fighting to be here. Here.

Sometimes friendship is lopsided.....and that is okay. I have learned more about what true love, real love, everlasting love looks like from my friend's battle with cancer than I learned from an entire childhood. She is strong, brave, and beautiful...and that doesn't begin to note the half of it.

I have also learned more about myself...my weaknesses and my strengths.

I am selfish. I am impatient. I am needy. I have a short temper.

I have learned that I can change. I have learned that my capacity for patience is greater than I imagined. I am learning that in loving others, you learn unselfishness....you create a greater capacity for empathy in your heart...I have learned that your temper can evaporate almost instantaneously when you look at someone through the lens of your heart versus the lens of your pride. I have learned that love hurts, but that it also provides the greatest joy you can imagine...and the latter makes the former worth it. Worth. It.

Cancer sucks.

I pray for my friend and healing Every. Day. I also pray for the will of God...not just for her, but for myself that through her trials, I will learn, grow, and Be a true helper to her and others.

So...it isn't about me, but it is changing me. I hope for the better.

*I find it striking that this post came out of me on September 11th. A day that has deep meaning for me for a variety of very private reasons. There are moments in all of our lives where switches flip on (or off) due to a shift in the universe. I am learning, the older I get, that the stories that make up our lives change us, mold us, and give depth to the very choices we make...Every. Day. Should I live to be an old woman, I imagine I will sit around and share the stories that made up the quilt of my life. I will note with deep love and admiration, E's valiant battle against cancer...a battle I can only imagine will have shaped all of us that love her nearly as much as it shaped her. I will note the shift in her universe and mine that came with that very first diagnosis...and every one since...and I will talk about the growth like a proud mother displays the height markings of her children on a kitchen wall. I will note how my view of health care, women's rights, patient rights, unconditional love in a marriage, and a myriad of beliefs changed/shifted/grew out of observing her battle.  It matters. Our stories matter. That is the lesson. Sharing our stories is dangerous, scary, and yet the most important thing each of us will ever do. The truth to who we are and what we believe is weaved into the very stories of our lives. We are no longer a name or a number to others, we are a face and a heart...and that my sweet, loving, tribe of readers....is where the rubber meets the road. Our heart must lead us....and to allow that to be so is to sign up for the most dangerous ride of our life. I have bought my ticket, with trembling hands, and I am jumping on...for now that I know better...I must change how I see the world and those that live in it...they are hearts...millions of them...and they beat...just like mine.

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

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Marinating In The Mystery



What a way to make a girl feel loved....thank you to everyone who messaged me, texted, e-mailed me, etc. after my last post. So...a few of you read this....Wow. I am not sure if I feel more embarrassment or joy. The joy came as so many said....you put words to what I am feeling....but joy also came because so many of you said...you put words to what I am feeling...which made me feel less alone. Ahhh...one of the perks of showing our vulnerability.

Thank you.

I heard this song in the midst of the craziness of this week...and like so many other songs when they come...it came as a lifeline to all that I know to be true...yet misplace in the busyness and onslaught of my life. I found a raw video attached here..Fall Afresh by Bethel Music...I hope you enjoy it. I hope it restores your spirit as it did mine, as it does mine. When I close my eyes and listen to it...I nearly feel transported (don't call the funny farm). Meditation has become a huge part of my healing and has enhanced my prayer life...while also causing me to feel even more odd in a world where sometimes I don't fit as my beliefs sound half hippie, half-Christian, a lot crazy. :)

I told someone that I felt God was putting a book on my heart...about being single in the church...at my age. I am resisting that urge. Nobody wants to read that. Nobody. Talk about disruption and ick. They wouldn't know where to put it in the bookstore...I mean come on....it MUST go in the humor section. Is there a classification for Single, Christian Humor in Barnes & Noble?

So...that makes me think of the fact that Krysta and I are "entertaining" Nora this weekend on the eve of her launch into all things adulthood...college. That just made me smile. :)

What do you tell a beautiful young woman as you send her off at 18 to a new city, new school, new life...a new adventure? What do I wish someone had told me at 18? Well...that would be a digression of novel proportions so let us now venture there. :)  Seriously though, I do want to give her pearls of wisdom, sage advice, tips....good grief I sound lame and old.

So as I sit here this morning reading...watching Nora curled up on my couch reading like the bookworm she is...knowing that she has no clue to how truly beautiful she is...and I think of my Jordan about to start her second year of college...still questioning her deep beauty....and I am wondering what are we missing? What are we not teaching these girls, these young women, ourselves? Why so many questions, doubts, despair? Why??? And then I feel the anger and frustration building because I know we don't protect each other enough...women do not protect each other enough. Satan defeats us THERE.

My biggest angst (read that as attacks) this week have come from other women...now the "Woo Hoo" is that my biggest hurrahs have also come from other women...so we are not winning the war yet, but the battles are getting more competitive...:)

Women are NOT men. We internalize what people say to us, around us, about us. We "own" those arrows somewhere down deep whether deserved or undeserved. We marinate in them...for the Rest. Of. Our. Lives. *Ugh*

Every time you feel yourself about to say something, write something...even think something...towards a fellow woman/girl that does not come from a place of pure love...Stop. Hit the pause button. Ask yourself where that is coming from? Ask yourself to think of yourself in that person's shoes whom you are seconds away from emasculating (even if on a small scale...knowing that with emasculating there is truly no "small scale") and have compassion for where they might be at...going through...dealing with...

*Sigh*

Breathtaking isn't it?!

...and the tears flow...

I have been so hurt and angry this week. Bitter even. How dare she or he or they? Questioning where God is in all of it? I thought you were supposed to be HERE...NOW?! Wondering where my warrior was...who is protecting my heart for the love of Pete????? I am hurting here! What a whiny baby I have been...All. Week. I am pretty sure God is put out with me...YET he isn't. He isn't at all. He is holding me...even in THIS lesson. *Sigh*

*Sigh*

...and there is the lesson...

....and is what I want to teach, show, impart, love with Nora, with Jordan, with all of the beautiful girls and boys in my life (both young and old)...

I am reminded of Ethan...that simple little lesson walking back from the swimming hole at Camp Caudle. "Where is God Ethan?" Right here. Right HERE.

....more tears...

I can't protect Nora, or Jordan, or even myself....I cannot protect anyone. I can love them. I can teach them that God loves them. I can help them to see....to believe...to know...that God is there...with them...Every. Day....Every. Moment....

THAT is a hard lesson even for me....and I taught Ethan...who really taught me....because God was using him...and that is what God does...and that is what I call beautiful and breathtaking and boy is this growth thingy hard....and who knew being a giant, beautiful, vulnerable, icky, giving it all up mess would be OH. SO. HARD?!

The other day on FB one of my friends posted about their cat being nine kinds of upset in the carrier on the way to the vet to get their female parts rearranged (so to speak) and feeling sorry for whoever opened that cage...and I tell you I laughed until I cried...and then I read it to Nora this morning and laughed all over again...until I cried....and right now, in this moment of sudden clarity, I realize why it hit me so...because bless my poor, disrupted heart...I am that damn cat. Yup, I said it. God bless the people who have opened the cage door with me this week....*Shaking My Head*....

I digress....I might have some apology notes to write suddenly...

Whoa.

I am now laughing....At. My. Self.

God is so gentle with me...Bless. His. Heart.

God is rearranging my female parts....and I am not happy about it. I am angry, pissy, perturbed, disturbed, scared, terrified, giddy,...okay maybe giddy is too much :)....I am really just frightened beyond words. If I don't control the whole damn world, I am not sure WHO I am...and that was just a snippet of raw honesty.

I don't want to control...anything...anymore....but while my heart is willing...my body and mind are weak...and they are holding on for dear life...and bless them...it is time for them to give it up...because I am tired and my head hurts (I disobeyed the doctor and took two Tylenol last night...three day straight w/a migraine/headache...don't judge.)...I need relief. I need my body and mind to relent...this isn't a phase....this isn't a trial basis...this is me....truly, humbly, honestly, purely...Giving. It. Up.

So...if I have been crabby this past week with you...please forgive me. I have calmed down now. ;) :)))



I read this earlier this week...
 
"You will never find what you are looking for until you find yourself first." ~ Unknown

Well my tribe....here is to finding myself, ourselves...a little more...Every. Day. :))))

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

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Woman Disrupted ~ Another Beautiful Layer In My Story


Let me tell you about waiting....

It sucks.

In the moment I could care less that there is something better coming...that I am getting a little better every day...a little stronger...that my faith in others, myself, God is getting stronger...Every. Day. I could care less about any of that...becomes I am waiting (read that as stuck) in the weeds. Sinking. Emotionally...Every. Day. (not really...but it feels like that on some days)

*Sigh*

*Breathe*

In times of great change...whether emotional, physical, or spiritual...our lives in chaos, under attack, disrupted. Disrupted.

*Sigh*

I am about to digress....

I love to write...I NEED to write so much these days...that I actually write in multiple places, multiple journals, it is a slight obsession coupled with there is a lot of STUFF rattling around in all of the places of my being...heart, mind, soul...So when I started feeling this latest disruption happening (read that as feeling stuck) this past Tuesday morning, my eyes were wide open...I knew what was happening...YET....

I couldn't stop it.

Yesterday I went back in some of my private writings...searching...then I found it...I found this from June (post Haiti)...

"I am a woman disrupted. My heart is disrupted. My life is disrupted.

I don’t know what the next days, weeks, and Lord willing, years of my life will look like. I don’t know what God has in store for me. I don’t know what joys or despair I will experience. What I do know is this…..God met me on that mountain in Colorado last October. He met me, he knocked, and after 41 years I stopped cracking o...pen the door….I swung it open. Ours is not a perfect relationship (I am still me and human.), but it is one that is growing, evolving, and deepening. He wants to save me, and I want to be saved. He is teaching me how to trust him, and I am learning to trust. He is showing me new loves, and I am once again learning how to love and be loved. He is showing me grace, and I am learning to show myself and others grace. His mercy is enveloping me, and I am granting more mercy to others. He is revealing to me my sins and shortcomings, my brokenness…and I am not turning away….instead facing it with him, and allowing those to be healed and changed. He loves me…Me…this big pile of brokenness and ick….and I am learning to trust in that love." ~ Heather {A Private Post, mid-June 2013}

 
I needed this reminder this week...maybe someone else does too...someone who has disruption as part of their story. I absolutely have disruption in my story right now. Lots and lots of disruption.
 
I am waiting...I am becoming.
 
I know this is true. I absolutely KNOW this is true. Yet...it is SO hard...so, so hard.
 
"When the exhaustive exegesis of God's Word doesn't create people transformed into the image of Jesus, we have missed the forest for the trees." ~ Jen Hatmaker
 
This week I have felt under attack. Attack. Some of it is real, some of it is just learning to live in this place of vulnerability, completely in tune with my feminine heart. I think Brene Brown should have written warning labels for the front of her books..."...dangerous for your life...dangerous for your heart..."....like I would have NOT jumped in, head first, in the deep end...but still...consider yourself forewarned.
 
I am on my third cup of Sumatra (Starbucks via Keurig) for the morning....bear with me. :)))
 
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." ~ Ephesians 6:12

When I talk to most friends...they absolutely get where I am at...whether they are religious/spiritual/neither...some...well, some look at me strange...and bless them, it is the same look I have every morning staring back at me while I am brushing my teeth. :)

I am convinced every other moment that I have quite literally....Lost. My. Mind. :)))

Not too long ago I considered myself fearless, bold, brave...now I realize, laughing as I type this, that I had nary a clue what those words meant for me and my life. Being controlling in and of your life is the least brave thing we do..you do...I do. I had convinced myself otherwise. Ha! Giving up control...being vulnerable...being open with others about my vulnerability...Whoa! Now that is bravery. I feel like I am in a foreign land, learning a new language on the fly...It is scary and ugly and icky and awesome and amazing and lovely and weird.
 
"Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free." ~ Jim Morrison

I love this quote...almost as much as I love Jim Morrison and The Doors. Miss him...I digress. The truth is that everything I am studying and reading proves this out...but I will tell you this...exposing yourself (read that as all of the stuff you have spent a lifetime hiding from people) feels like streaking naked in Times Square at New Years...NOT good. :))))

You have to actually grow though to find growth. Funny how that works....:)

When God asked me last November..."Are you ready now?"...I thought I knew what that meant...but sitting here now with tears in my eyes...I recognize that I didn't have a clue....it meant so much more...on so many levels....you don't know what you don't know. :)))

What does disruption feel like for you? How do you handle it?

I applaud you for being brave as you survive your own disruption...it is not for the faint of heart. :)))

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Awake My Sleeping Heart

Let me tell you a little story...

There once was a little girl who had it all...then nothing...then all again (or so she thought)...and then nothing...and then, and only then, did she hear a voice saying, "Are you ready now? Now?" and knowing in her heart whose voice it was...and being so tired...weary really...she said, "Yes."

I think one of the reasons I love stories so much is that my own life has been such a good read...Really. It will make you laugh, cry, there are heroes and villains, a fairy godmother, suspense, danger, romance, and mystery. It is a page-turner.

I digress...

The reason, truly, I love stories is surely because I come from a long line of storytellers though ironically not from my immediate bloodline, but they are back there. I had a killer imagination when I was little...I mean it was something else. I was alone (all day) with my mother until age four, and then I had two little baby dolls (my twin brother and sister) to play with and mother for a full year before I headed off to Kindergarten. Those first five years were the best years of my life (and the immediate four after those)....until now.

That said, I would make up stories. Dress up. Play teacher, doctor, preacher (along with all of the other church roles I knew), and mother. I even made a game out of cleaning my room...zoom, zoom...as I recall. I could imagine so much more outside of what I could see with my own eyes. I find that such a gift. Mostly a genetic gift...but I also have no memory of anyone ever hampering or stifling my imagination those first blessed years of my life. I see that now as the gift it was....I wish it had always remained that way, but I remain blessed for what I had...and today, that is enough.

The more I learn and come to understand my own brokenness...its depth, its source, and its healing...I recognize more and more that God...my God...the one I have kept at arm's length, close, but arm's length...for 24 years (easy), but possibly since age 9. That God, my God, has always been here..right next to me...waiting.

Patiently.

God's love for us is endless...

The Captivating 7 (my tribe that met in Colorado last year) have a private place where just the seven of us can write to each other, share, sort through issues, pray together, complain together, and gain strength together. After several weeks of sketchiness on my part....Haiti...starting a women's group at my house weekly...Camp Caudle....my liver biopsy/drama/apparent healing...I have had my plate full and just didn't want to sit down until I could really sit down and write...unload...debrief with all of them. So tonight....I did. Did I ever. Wow. It was a 100K feet debrief. Help us all if I find the time and energy to dig into the weeds. :)))

I digress...

Tonight as I typed...my heart came unwound...unglued. UN. (and not the United Nations :))

I was actually describing my hopefulness at the time...how I know "I am on the right path...headed in the right direction...deeply loved by God...and he is moving...in me, around me, through me..."...and then it broke..."but it is like when you stand up and your foot is asleep and it hurts and tingly and numb all at the same time...that is how my heart feels...and it overwhelms me."

...I am going to just let that sit for a moment...

...and BREATHE...

I have not treated my heart kindly. I have not treated my heart kindly...for years...33 to be exact. I have either given it away to those who did not have a clue what to do with it, or I have kept it hidden behind walls of reinforced steel. I have sacrificed it for security (financial, career, and otherwise). I convinced myself that I was tough, strong, self-sufficient, and all knowing when it came to what Heather wanted/needed/did. This is not to say that I am not tough, that I am not strong, or that I am not self-sufficient. It is also not to say that I am not wholly and deeply proud of my life, my accomplishments, my friends, my family, etc. What it IS...is to say that all of those things are neither WHO I am or WHAT/WHO I want to be. My career is what I do; it is not who I am. My walls, while having proven to be successful, have not helped to protect me...they have imprisoned me. I saw someone the other day, and they said "There is My Heather."....I am becoming a little more Me every day...not just external....INTERNAL. It is breathtaking...for me, but really for the experience of seeing myself through other's eyes...people who have loved me through...well...they have loved me through A LOT. They have seen other's hurt me. They have seen me allow myself to be hurt. They have seen me hurt myself. They have loved me through it all. Those people...those are the ones that when they see me and say, "There is My Heather." to me...a phrase I have never heard uttered before from their lips...that is the voice of God coming through them to me...urging me on...reminding me that this incredibly hard work....painful work to find my way to me (not backwards mind you), but ever forward...to me. IT IS HARD. Don't let anyone ever feed you BS that growth is easy...growth is good...growth is yada yada yada. Growth sucks. There I said it.

Haiti broke my heart. Haiti was the most beautiful thing to happen to me and my heart in a long, long time. Breaking my heart was the best thing it could have done. Why? Because I left on a plane to Haiti not knowing what I had to give...not knowing if my heart would even work....was my heart in there....somewhere? Anywhere? I sincerely did. not. know. When I say that I found my heart in Haiti. I am not kidding...not even a little...and when my sweet friend suggested I give an example (prodding my heart) to a group of women who are searching...just like me...and I told the story (cliff notes) of my heart...and Haiti...I wept. I wept. Like a child. In front of a group of women I barely know...in front of a group of women I did not want to tell that too..weep in front of..open up to like that...and that is how God works. My God works.

If I give and give of myself, my heart like this...will I have enough...will I run out? Will it be like before where I gave of my heart and my life until it hurt...until my well was drying, the ground dry and cracked beneath me.

He says no. I heard him tonight say, "No."

These aren't loaves and fishes I said...and he laughed as did I (though mine more nervously).

He said, "You won't run dry. Keep going."

Okay...

"It isn't YOU this time. It is ME. I will provide. I will give. I am in control. Remember...remember that talk we had..?"

Ahhh...yes, and I smile.


My sleeping heart is waking up...finally...it is waking up. Not because of anything I have done, but because of what He is doing in me, through me....FOR me.

If you know me any at all and read this...you know that obedience is NOT my strong suit. It will be though....I am going to break the yoke I allowed to go on my neck. I will not be confined by the past. I will not let the past dictate my future. I will keep discovering my own story, sharing my story, learning other's stories, and building them up.

What a journey I am on...(shaking my head)
 
 "I once believed my life had nothing to offer the world - and I know better now." ~
Brian Beckman

Yes I do...and I am learning every day...Every. Day. :)))

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

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Lessons In A Friend's Heart

I bet I have 28 writing ideas written down in my journal...double that if you go back to my recent Haiti trip...yet as I sat down to write tonight after a few weeks of non-stop frenzy....all I wanted to write was the story of my friend's hearts.

As I work through knowing, learning from, and owning the story of my own life...I am mystified (to say that I am saddened) to realize how many stories I have been missing...beside my own...of the amazing men and women that make up, glide in for an instance or for years, in the beautiful little life I lead. I know I didn't miss everything, but I missed WAY too much.

What is the story of the man walking home from the grocery store? That man without a shirt on that is standing in the middle of a parking lot in downtown Little Rock on a Sunday evening....does he have somewhere to go? Is that an Icee he is eating? Is that all he has had today? Do E&G have enough of anything....books, help, prayer, love, hugs, gas, etc. to get back to MD Anderson in Houston tomorrow? Does another friend truly know how beautiful she is...inside and out? Do I tell my friends that enough? Do I tell myself that enough? Do I love people enough? Can I do more? I must do more.

I digress....

My friend spent her precious girl's weekend that she does annually...something just for her....no kids or husband or responsibilities...besides reading, resting, eating, shopping, etc....this year she spent it working on new recipes, buying new foods, researching, listening to a local expert, shopping, searching....all for her family who was recently told they needed to go not only gluten-free but rice flour free...and I hear that is a big deal...and no, I don't know...because I have never had to worry about such. Bless my heart. She also squeezed in time to give me a lesson on words and my own poor eating....and she delivered both messages in and with LOVE.

I have another friend who is headed back to MD Anderson in Houston for radiation treatment (her third cancer diagnosis in less than three years) as she fights to get it into remission so that she is able to go through another stem cell transplant. I get to spend part of a day with her as she got a brief respite home for just a few days before heading back....and what does she hand me tonight?....coloring tablets and crayons for my next trip to Haiti which could happen while she is still in Houston. Seriously?!

The heart of my friends....breaks mine...and beautifully so...

...and they teach me THIS....








Our hearts matter...our souls matter...

The more I learn, the more I find I need to learn, and I am okay with that. I love that my friends love and trust me enough to share their stories with me....and that they love me enough to share in mine.


I have been thinking and writing a lot about tribe building, and this photo made me smile. Love. :)

My friends continue to leave me in awe. Awe. Their growth challenges my own. Their hearts teach my own. Their souls help to renew my own.

Sometimes I feel like I am waking up from a long dream....as I realize things I missed, things I took for granted, and learn new joys that make my heart flutter.

I love my friends. I am so blessed...so grateful.

I have so much more to write about and share....but for tonight, I just want to marinate in a weekend of lessons and love....:)))

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

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Gift of Listening to Your Soul



...and that would just about sum up my day.

*Sigh*

You know you have put too much expectation on something when you walk into a hair salon you have never entered...introduced yourself to a stylist you have never met...and promptly announce..."I believe I might throw up."....and "Hello. So nice to meet you too. The code to the bathroom is #$^%."

I am a "wonder" at first impressions. :)))

Let me digress...

I am a reformed banker which is to say that I have spent the bulk of my career in banking and finance, and now that I am not...well, I feel "reformed"...read that as FREE. :)  So...to say that I took the appearance part of being in a very conservative (read that as stiff and boring) profession seriously would be a gross understatement. I mean, I wore full pantyhose until my final day. Yup...I am the one woman on the planet that still buys pantyhose. :))) I never felt that I could get away with (not forbidden...simply frowned upon...possibly only in my head) painted nails, crazy hairstyles, crazy dress.

As Jon would say, "Aunt Heather you ARE a hippie."....and he has always known that, but now I reflect it externally. :)

It has been a gradual progression into finding my way back to me. And who the hell might I be? I have been asking myself for the past seven months. I have been in the same career for nearly two decades. I have acted responsible....reasonably so....made relatively "safe" choices. Relatively. I am average, normal, bland (read that as responsible and BORING).

Right?!

As you begin to peel back, tear down, unhinge the reinforced, triple-ply walls around your heart...a funny thing starts happening...you start seeing yourself through different eyes. New eyes. It is liberating.

My work wardrobe is so dramatically different these days that it quite simply...Takes. My. Breath. I have NEVER been so happy about clothing. Which is saying something since I am NOT a fashionista...by even a small stretch. During the winter months of January and February this year, I wore cowboy boots Every. Day. to work. Every. Day. *Aaaahhhh*  Right before Haiti, I went deeper...I got my nails (hands and feet) painted black. #63 Black Onyx by Opi (Shellac) to be exact, and I don't know who was grinning bigger...me, as they put it on....or the girl applying it who I believe was using that color for the first time and really didn't think it was going to look good. It did...at least I think so. I love it. LOVE it. The kids in Haiti loved it too. They were fascinated on how and why this blanc's fingers were black. Last week, I went back and had them do it again. As I said to my Sis, I may never go back to Opi Bubble Bath on my nails (my staple for every bit of 20 years). *Sigh*

So back to this morning....I had been pondering on it for awhile...maybe it was time to do something extreme with my hair. I had been pinning ombre pics for over a year. Could I do it? Would I do it? I threw out some smoke signals...and I got a nibble....an ombre expert here in Little Rock. Hmmm.....I was intrigued. I made some calls, set up an appt., sent some pics I had been pinning, and then I waited. The last couple of weeks have dragged by as I waited for my appt this morning....lots of giddy anticipation. So much so that by the time I arrived at the salon this morning, I had quite literally resisted tweeting about the whole experience...recognizing that I had quite literally lost my marbles....and just get in there and sit down FOR THE LOVE OF PETE.

So what happened?

Well, I didn't get sick. I talked the girl's ear off about me trying to be brave and do new things and not be such a stiff...yada yada yada. I only hope I tipped enough to compensate her for my therapy session she threw in for free. *Sigh*

So...who has figured out that this isn't about my clothes, my nails, or my hair?

Yeah....it took me a moment too. *Sigh*

We get lost in this world. We get lost trying to be what we think we want. Trying to be who we think others want. Some of us think about what God wants, but too often if it doesn't reconcile with what we or others want....we shove that aside....and him.

We are so busy doing the right thing. We lose sight of what the right thing is. We lose sight of our hearts...of the essence of who we are....who we could be....who we were intended be.

I have done all of these things...in spades.

I have been so lost at times in other's expectations that it wasn't simply that my own got lost for a time...Mine got buried, destroyed, obliterated. There are a whole slew of wounds that come from others.  None of those can compare with the wounds we give ourselves. We are numb. I am numb.

Who am I?

Does anybody else struggle when they have to write the brief bios for social media sites??? Who am I? Give me an easier question...I beg of you. :)

More accurate would be, "This is who I want to be when I grow up." :)

I digress....

It is quite the journey moving from who you thought you were supposed to be...to who you want to be...to who God wants you to be. I spent a lot of time in the beginning trying to find the overlap, the safe spots, what I could understand (read that as control). I am slowly working into the "I don't give a flying fig."..as long as it is what God wants. Let me just say this in full honesty...He and I are at battle over it. Battle. To the point that black nail polish, ombre hair, and wearing converse sneakers w/a maxi skirt at the office feel DANGEROUS....to my heart. And yes I understand how ridiculous that sounds....and yes I know I need help. :)))  He is using everything to teach me the lessons I so desperately need to learn...and he isn't above or below using nail polish and hair color to make his point.

*Sigh*

I need a respite after that...*Sigh*

Quote by Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection (very highly recommend!) and Daring Greatly.







I have stressed this to my niece and nephews for years...yet here I am learning this very lesson anew. E.E. Cummings nailed it, and then Brene Brown perfected it. I am working very hard to "own" my story. Who are we kidding??? I am trying to figure out my story...write my story (read that as document the battles)...and Be more me than I have ever been. It isn't easy. It isn't pretty. It isn't necessarily fun. It is though..necessary, worth it (Lord please say it is.), and my personal journey to true honest-to-goodness deep, fulfilling happiness.

I have a friend who is working through similar battles and we spend time weekly encouraging each other in this journey. Over some Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken this week, I described to her how I feel like my life has been a giant waffle where the areas of my life fit neatly in their own individual square and who I am in each square changes depending on the area of my life it represents. (Say that ten times fast.) No wonder I am exhausted?!?! :))) So what I explained to her was that I am trying to merge all of those squares into one beautiful patchwork quilt (envision my fingers coming together in front of me and then lacing...because if you know me, you know I talk with my hands). :)) I want to Be. One. Person. All. The. Time. I kid you not, she looked at me with tears in her eyes, and said, "I want that too."

We are not alone my mighty tribe. There are a multitude of us out there who have lost our way. We are weary. Our story got jumbled, lost, hijacked. It is time to own our stories. Own who we are. What we are. Be. Ourselves.

I don't know what any of this looks or feels like to anyone else, but my goal is to be real, authentic, and brutally honest with my journey from no mans land to myself. So far it has been equal parts funny, sad, and bewildering. Yup...that sounds about right. :))) It is a journey.


I'm listening...

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