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.


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."


"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.


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).


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.


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! :) 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Glorious Ruins ~ Winging My Way Back

So...I am a slight music addict.

I'm "owning" it. :)))

Today I got to see Beci and Mama Doretha briefly while they were in Little Rock. It is always wonderful to see people who love you and feel those "love" hugs. *SMILE*

So as I drove back to the office, I found myself listening to the title track "Glorious Ruins (Live)" from the album Glorious Ruins by Hillsong Live. As I have come to expect, even though I have heard it dozens of times, this time it struck me in a new way. I can't find a version of it to link here from You Tube, but here are the lyrics...

Glorious Ruins
When the mountains fall
And the tempest roars You are with me
When creation folds
Still my soul will soar on Your mercy

I'll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I'll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace

Let the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God forever You reign

And my soul will find refuge
In the shadow of Your wings
I will love You forever
And forever I'll sing

When the world caves in
Still my hope will cling to Your promise
Where my courage ends
Let my heart find strength in Your presence

"Ruins" could stand for just about anything...something lost or abandoned, being defeated, etc. I am suddenly relating to all of them. *Sigh*

So...it sounds sad, but it isn't. It. Is. Not. Sad.

The lessons, the very brutal lessons, of the past couple of years are lost...Lost. *Phew* I don't have to repeat them...if...IF...I learn the lesson.  I think this struck me because Mama Doretha has a magical way about her that makes anyone feel...well, Glorious. When she hugs you...you know you are being HUGGED. There is no lukewarm or halfway with her. There is a lesson in that for me. Many lessons.

So I have been simmering ever since on what this song means to me...especially as I have struggled the past couple of days. Struggled with a capital "S".

I am asking for it though...lets get real for a moment. I have been asking for it for 18 months now. I hit my knees back then and said, "What do you want from me? For me? With me? Because I am completely stumped...thrown for a loop...bewildered."  Son of a gun if God didn't answer...but he knew me...he lured me like a fine fisherman...there was no bright light or booming voice for me. Nope. He spoke quietly, softly, gently, and when I least expected it...

He brought me back to life.


The truth is that he loved me back to life....and I didn't love me very much at the time...so that is saying something right there. *Sigh*

I feel like I have walked through the fire these past 18 months. I am weary, yet truly being revived...Day. By. Glorious. Day. I also know that I am getting better, clearer, and closer to true freedom...because the devil is quite literally swarming me (for those who believe in spiritual warfare...I know you understand this)...a sure sign you are headed in the right direction. ;)

I know this may come across as icky, sticky, and not very Pollyanna...but it is the raw, real, place I am at in my walk...in my life. I am not perfect or even trying to be perfect. I am just a girl working to find her way back to herself. I sold my soul to the devil for my profession, and I paid dearly for that. I lost...well, more than I care to re-visit here...tonight. I was blind believing that everything I was doing was right, and I could not have been more wrong. I succeeded by the world's standards and failed everywhere else. I live with that...Every. Day.
“Above all shadows rides the sun.” ~ J.R. Tolkien

The joy is that in so much lost, I have gained...more than I deserve...not in, or of, this world....but in friendships, in tribes, in new adventures, in a clearer focus, a deeper relationship with Christ, in family, in direction, in purpose, in more refined and deeper passions...I have gained more Life.

I think I had to dive into some serious ick these past few days to have the realization I just did in the last paragraph.

I have come so far. So much farther than I realized before just now. I saw in it Beci's beautiful blue eyes today..a knowing...leave it to someone else to reflect "you" back to yourself in a way you never could or would...*Sigh*

This is my new mantra....

The truth is...I lost my way...working to build a life...now I am working to truly live a life...My. Life.

...and it will be...

It. Is.

"...I'll walk through the fire
With my head lifted high
And my spirit revived in Your story
And I'll look to the cross
As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace..."

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

Friday, July 5, 2013

The IPod Haunting

This is the best title I could come up with...The IPod Haunting.

Succinct. To the point. Accurate.

My IPod is haunting me.

I am getting ahead of myself...

I went after work today to get a manicure...a much needed (and wanted) manicure. I am excited because I have decided to have my nails painted black again...as I did right before Haiti (the first time EVER). I loved them...but more...the kids in Haiti loved them. So now those silly, shiny, black nails will be associated with those kids rubbing on them wondering how and why this blanc's nails turned black. :)))

This beauty's name is pronounced "Was My Love"...and she stole my heart. She was also FASCINATED by my black nails. :))) 

I digress....

So right after I sit down, I suddenly realize (I am bored...manicures are boring) that the entire radio selection is the golden 80's....as I flash back to every bad high school dance I ever attended, embarrassed myself at, etc.  I was one of those that thought I could dance...I could NOT dance. I also was one of those misfits...I wasn't cool...I wasn't not cool...I just didn't fit...anywhere. That said, the memories aren't bad, as much as they are embarrassing, awkward and icky. I mean...I nearly took out the entire ozone, singlehanded, with my hairspray use....my hair was HUGE.

So...as I sit there having flashback after flashback, I suddenly have the thought of how music operates like a time machine for me.

...and I simmer on that while Gena works on my nails...

...and she did an AMAZING job...black is NOT easy...

Later as I get in the car....dying for a Black Iced Tea and my IPod (the music selection never got better), I opted to put it on shuffle. The whole IPod. I have 2,160 songs on my IPod (and yes I checked ;)). As the songs played one-by-one, I was struck again...the time machine....every song on there takes me back to an old love, a new love, an old job, a road trip, the streets of Dublin, the hills of Haiti, a mountain in Colorado, the paths around Cong, Ireland, a farm in Kentucky, deaths and subsequent grief, a birthday party, the kitchen at The Farm, the beach at Panama, overlooking the creek at The Workshop, walking the streets of Nashville for a Krispy Kreme with Rachel (now there is a memory...we should be dead...it is a miracle), Sam playing baseball, the lobby of the Inn at Carnall Hall, Jordan's prom, Jon's birth, a favorite film, a favorite place, and on and on....

Isn't that simply amazing?!?!

I am in awe.

Rosanne Cash's "Dreams Are Not My Home" is one that came on...that entire album "Black Cadillac" helped me survive a couple of really trying times in my life, and is beyond amazing. Tonight this particular song took on new meaning....dreams are not my home....let that sink in. If you have read my blog since the beginning, you know that there is a huge part of this girl trying to get "home" (or #home as I have started hash-tagging those things that feel like home to me) to whatever that is...I really believe I am on the verge of cracking the code (so to speak) on what "home" is for me. Please pray.  That said, if my dreams are not my home...well, that is going to either crack the whole thing wide open OR shatter it...Completely.

So...I simmered on the drive home...playing the song over and over...internalizing the words...did I already know the answer?? 

The one on the left I got in Haiti, and you can see it if you look close, there is a spot on the top bead (right above the yellow one)in the picture shaped like..you guessed it...a heart. The second one is made of river rocks (from the Buffalo National River area) that a supremely talented friend of mine Kate Baer (Kate Baer Fossils) in Ponca made. Both are treasures of #home


So if the dreams I have spent a lifetime...well, dreaming...aren't my home???...then I wonder...

Could it be that easy???

I took about 15 minutes to just think about what I was suddenly recognizing as my own truth. I have been clamoring after the wrong damn home...All. These. Years.

Well CRAP.

In this moment I am smiling convinced that God did in fact create me to be the very gypsy I am...that I fought against...that I am once again. Good grief.

When you have an empty place inside of you (or more than one empty place), it is very easy...natural even...to seek to fill it. To grasp onto those things, places, people that you think can fill it. I have done ALL of those things. I have been blind.

I have even sabotaged a few things for myself...yup, I said it.

I have been at the helm of my own ship for so long...too long...so long that there are some in my life that truly (with love, not ugliness) doubt I can give it all up. Be truly obedient. I'm with them. I say, "Me too." with both hands raised....High. No ego here.

Here is the catch though...all the other times, it was my control and therefore dependent on my skill. Not this time. I'm out. I really want to let him steer this ship; this time is all him.


I am all of the things you believe me to be....stubborn, driven, Type A, borderline OCD possibly, opinionated, a planaholic, list maker, list checker, list writer of lists to make...


I am weary.

For the most part, since the age of nine, I have directed my life. God sat me on my butt last November helping me to recognize that he had given me all of my heart desires (prey one, but even it was close), and I was STILL not happy. Was I finally, willing and able, ready to do it his way?

I was.

I am.

God is meeting me where I am...Every. Day. Let me tell you....he has a job in that too...because where I am, where my heart is...is changing...Every. Day.

That is how God works...for me. That is how he will work...for anyone. Anyone.

I am proof positive of that itsy bitsy fact.

All of this....from music...from shuffle on my IPod. Well...he has used far less for more...I will take it. ;)

If I ever get really, really brave....I mean BRAVE...I will write about what it is like to be a single woman in the "church" today. I am nowhere near that brave, but I know in my heart that I cannot, and am not, the only single Christian woman out there who is struggling at the crossroads of giving it all over and still trying to make their own way....and not finding any real help or guidance out there. Sometimes I feel like an animal at the zoo with people staring through the glass at the anomaly that appears before them. *Sigh*

...and that made me LOL...

Life is a journey. Life is a struggle. Life is a gift.

The glad game is He is always there...Waiting. Listening. Patient.

Scandal of Grace by Hillsong United


Note: #home to me will always be a patchwork quilt of the people and places who have made me who I am, loved me when I was unlovable, taught me, and the lesson is that they all remain with me in my #heart...I take each and every one of them with me where I am led to next...wherever I go. It only took me 42 years to learn that one to my core. :)))

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