The Beauty in Bravery & Answered Prayers

I am part of this Wednesday night Women's Bible Study Group, and tonight was...well, something happened, and I nearly ran a red light trying to get home so I could start writing...not even knowing what was going to come out, but my fingers were tingling. :)))

This is a wonderfully diverse group of women, each with their personal walks with Christ, personal stories and trials, and personalities...Wow!...the personalities; I love it.

Tonight I saw a side of bravery in these women, that I hadn't seen before tonight. Now...I believed them all to be brave (I believe ALL women are brave (and men)...this is a hard world)....but tonight I saw something more...something deeper.

I have been praying fervently for something to happen in my life that will take me out of the story (with its lousy ending) that I have been in, and transport me to some place new, different...somewhere I am needed, wanted, and frankly feel loved...again.  Tonight I saw a glimpse of whatever it is...and I was moved to tears (I am crying as I type.) knowing that when I look at my own calendar for the next several weeks/two months....I am headed for places and events and people that I know love me, need me, know that I need them, know that I am broken and imperfect (and don't care, and I know they don't care), and....

...they will be from the East to the West....and yes, I started playing the song (East to West by Casting Crowns) when I jumped in the jeep...and it is still playing now...on repeat....:)))

The weekend after Memorial Day, I will be with seven amazing women, strangers before last October, that I met in Colorado at the Captivating Retreat by Ransomed Heart Ministries. We have all stayed in touch, and knew we needed to reunite and build each other up. We will spend three days on some farm in Kentucky...immersed. Beautifully.

The following Monday, our Women's Bible Study Group is going to start Captivating, the small group video series...and this is a dedicated group because we are going to, all together, read the book, complete the journal, and complete the participant guide along with the DVD each week...for 10 weeks.

That same week, I am finally set to head to Haiti for five days to be immersed in...only Jesus knows...and I am SO excited.

In the middle of the ten weeks of Captivating...several out of that same group will be counseling at Livingstones Week.

I guess my prayers are being answered. :)

I am strong, brave women...and I am honored that they are brave enough to tell their stories....share their themselves up even with their own fears of judgement and criticism....

I wanted God to answer the question for me...just how far is the East to the West...and he is doing just that...

I am a long way from truly forgiving myself for not being perfect....from forgiving myself for the shame I feel...from allowing myself to not only Be vulnerable, but to show my vulnerability.  The women in my life are teaching me...they are showing me the way....the devil only wins if we buy into the theory that we have to live with our shame, our sin, our vulnerability, our shortcomings like a yoke around our neck. I am not going to continue to give him that power over me. I am determined to not only overcome it....but to help others do the same.....even if that means I have to carve myself up like a Halloween pumpkin revealing all the sticky, icky, stringy messiness inside. My perfectionist-driven streak is of the devil, and I am more convinced of that than I have EVER been before in my life.

"may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea." ~ e.e. cummings

Whatever your religion or spiritual human beings...we MUST stop operating from a place of shame...our own and the shame we want to project onto others. That isn't kindness. That isn't love. That isn't the point.

Last night I got righteously annoyed by the reaction to the Jolie story regarding her decision to be gene tested and then the medical decisions she made as a result. I don't discuss my past health issues...not even here and certainly not in social media, but last night I just took a stand...I have no idea why that...why now...but I thought of Doretha and something she taught me years and years ago....and it is that everyone has a story; you have a story. For a moment I wondered, maybe it is time for us to give up commentary 24/7 and get back to storytelling.

I want desperately to know the stories of the women I am studying with...I want to know their battles...their strengths...their weaknesses...because that is how we win...that is how we change the world...we really start caring again about others and focus on building them up. We start giving a damn about their hearts....and stop commenting on what the status of their heart might be...Really?!

I see this same thing both in and out of and out of and out of my community work. I see it everywhere. We simply have to get back to "heart" and to do that we are all going to have to tear down our walls of fear, shame, and protection....and be real.

*I felt my grandfather with me tonight at class, and as I sit here I can't shake the feeling that he is right here with me...coaching me forward....I wish I could get to the cemetery and sit by his headstone with my legs crossed, face in my hands, and just have a conversation. I misss that.  I'd tell him that personal growth sucks, but that I am doing the work...and I want to Be. better....Do. better...and I hope I am making him proud....

*A breeze just blew through as I wrote that. {Chills.}

"When our internal desires, passions, and intentions align with how this manifests in the world, each moment, 'there' becomes 'here'." ~ Kristin S. Kaufman

I am working to be here....present...accountable...full of love...full of spirit heart once again open.  I am doing it for that I in turn can help better by others.

It is work. Hard work. It is worth it.

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