Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Gift of Words

I have a problem with procrastination. It kills me to say it...admit it...but it is true. Let me just say that procrastination combined with my inability to say, "No." to well...ANY....request made of me is a HORRIFIC combination. Horrific.

I am getting better. I do things like focusing on tasks early in the day that I hate to get them out of the way. I am learning the word no. Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror while applying my make-up in the morning and just practice saying part of the problem is that no one ever taught me how to actually form the words. LOL #forthelove

The problem that nags and hangs around my neck still are the tasks I both can and say yes to but don't get done timely because I have a need to do them "perfectly"....Hmmm...what do you mean you might ask. Well, I have the idea for a lovely surprise or a gift for someone. I then look to carve out the time to do it...plan, purchase, execute (which might mean mailing or delivering), but then you also need the perfect card with it so you can express exactly why you wanted to do this for them...why you were thinking of them, etc. It is (rolling my eyes) crazy.

Part of my little dream Saturday today is not simply purchasing and wrapping Christmas has morphed into a day to do all of those thoughtful things I have been trying to do..All. Dang. Year. *Sigh* The notes I didn't get written. Donations I didn't get shipped or even ordered. Presents that I got ordered but never shipped. Birthday cards, anniversary cards, returned notes. I don't have FB Messenger and I usually check FB from my phone. Lets not EVEN discuss how many messages on FB I need to read and respond to...Holy. Cow. I must be the ONLY person on the planet who doesn't use Messenger. My people be writing to me....and I have been missing all of the questions/notes/messages. Whoops.

So...I tanked up on some strong coffee this morning, bundled up under a quilt, put my entire IPod on shuffle (2745 songs...surely that is enough right?!?!), and started writing.

Mother. Mary. and Joseph. (envision my fake Irish accent)

What a gift.

I have enjoyed writing these love letters to my people....more than you can imagine. It has been a lovely, tremendous reminder of a year that has been FULL and blessed beyond measure (blessed by both the trials and celebrations). I have been SO busy whining and wrestling with my own exhaustion (completely my fault), that I haven't had time for THIS. This beautiful time to say thank you to the people who have made this one of the single best years of my life.

I did one of those cheesy videos that takes snippets of your social media from a period of time and condenses it into a short clip...note to self...develop one that is longer. ;)  I was blown away when I saw it. What. A. Year. I have been allowed the gift of Haiti not once, but three times this year. I have met some 200+ new friends and tribe members through those trips. People that are brave and adventurous and love Jesus and love their lives at 100+ mph and are imperfect and growing and living life fully. I have spent time with children both in Haiti and at Camp Caudle who have NO reason for joy yet are so joy-filled, and they embrace life...FULLY. They want more from their do have more with Jesus. To learn. It is breathtaking. I have spent in sum total around 30 days at Camp Caudle this year...for two camps, weekends digging in with friends and tribes, celebrations, and even a little work. I have experienced two seasons of baseball with Sam (the spring and summer), football with Jon and Sam this past fall. I have watched all three of Sis' kids spread their wings (and two their passports) to serve God on the mission field. I got to take my Sis not once, but twice to Haiti this year and watch what has moved and changed my life begin to move and change hers. Sharing that with her is truly one of the greatest gifts God has given me this past year. I experienced Catalyst. I have celebrated the wedding of one of our C7, the birth of another C7's son, and the wedding of another C7's son. I have realized that doing life with them was the biggest gift God taught me back on that mountain in Colorado in 2012. It has been a gift I have been grateful and honored to speak about a half dozen times this past year to women of all ages as I found my voice in a new way. I have seen our little firm more than double in size this past year...and we wrestle with the will of God on the opportunities that lay ahead to double it again. I have seen God heal me of a lot of old wounds - both personally and professionally as I step out in faith in both arenas not knowing if I can handle the step ahead, but learning that radical obedience is just that...Radical. and...Obedience. I got to see IF come to fruition in February and then watch it slowly expand my tribe throughout this year. I could not be more excited by what 2015 has in store for my life just as it pertains to IF. I have seems. My travel this year has been as diverse as it has been excessive. This is the year that I admitted I have grown weary of driving...I think the 20+ years of driving so much professionally has finally taken its toll. I have lost my love for being behind the wheel; I love being a passenger on the road though....:))) The year of the purge might just be the single biggest surprise for those who have known me only for the past six years as I have leaned down my life in every, single category. My prayer is that 2015 will be the cap-off year for what I believe will be remembered as the great three year purge (years from now) as it will have taken three years to unwind a life that simply got to excessive. I cannot even imagine what I was thinking all those years. This does not of course impact my love of books. I have bought more books this year than in any single year (I think.), but I have also read more books start to finish this year than I have since 2000. That is a ratio I both love and am proud of...there are simply lots of beautiful words out there, and I want to read them all. EVEN the ones I don't understand or agree me nutty. :)))

Speaking of words....

So this post started because I am sitting here marinating in the joy of writing words to those I love. I forget how much I love to write. Blogs, articles, thank you notes, proposals....I love words.

This holiday season I may have once again waited until the last moments to do my shopping. I may for the third/fourth year in a row not have one single Christmas decoration up in my home. I may be racing into the final days of the year trying to close deals, financials, and meet all of my last minute deadlines and obligations....BUT this year, I have shared the gift of words with some of the most important people in my life. The joy is selfishly all mine because writing them has been such a gift. I am so grateful to those that CHOOSE to do life with me. There are so many in my life who over my 43 years have chosen not to do life with me for a variety of this girl will never, EVER take for granted the beauty of someone saying, "Yes. I will do life with you. The good. The bad. The ugly." These amazing people...starting with the beautiful, gifted C7....have taught me the art and the beauty of doing life with others. They have taught me how. They have been patient as I stumbled along not knowing what I was doing. I have dropped balls. Let them down. Not been ENOUGH when they needed me. Yet, YET they remain in this life with me...still trudging through...doing life with me...Every. Day. God Bless those that Love Us When We are UNLOVABLE.

I am not perfect. Never, ever has there been a bigger work-in-process than me. I am loved though more than I deserve. I have been given the gift of tribe. I have been blessed with women (and men) who love me for who I am now, but believe in who I can be. They push me deeper and more lovingly into my destiny. God gave me life for a reason. I understand that more now than I have ever had, and I am responsible for using the gifts He gave me to love others...Well. Someday I hope that I do. I hope that my legacy someday will be that I lived hard and loved well. #bless

This isn't what I planned to never is...but this is perfect because I get to say thank you for being a part of my life. A part of this glorious 2014. Thank you to my friends and family who walk this life with me. Truly...bless your hearts. To my tribe though...which includes my precious Sis...I owe you everything because I was a pile of putty in October 2012 when God sent me my first taste of tribe...and today whatever good I have done or I is because of your faithfulness in loving me well and teaching me how to do life with others. I was clueless. I hope I have honored (and continue to honor) your gift well.

I love you with my whole heart. ❤️☀️

Merry Christmas!

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


Monday, December 15, 2014

Broken Crayons Still Color

A friend of mine prayed for and over me Sunday afternoon as we both sat on my couch. I had just finished praying for each member of our little IF tribe and said, "Amen," and she said, "Now it is your turn." I had forgotten about myself. She remembered me. Her prayer was breathtaking.
I forgot myself.
Deep. Sigh.
As a a single woman...I spend a lot of time worrying that I am selfish...that I do not do enough for others. The truth is I have selfish moments or bouts of time, but that makes me no different than the average grown adult. What all of that shame and insecurity has done is fester into a healthy dose of worry that I am not enough until guess what....I'm not enough.
There are not enough hours in a day to do, be, see, talk to, e-mail, write, text, call, speak, approve, advise, cheer, clean, and on and on and on....all of the things that I need to do in a given day, week, month, or year. Not. Enough.
The art of self-sabotage.
I am sitting here at the end of another year...reflecting on the year that was and trying to find hope for the year that is around the corner...and I am sad and mad at myself BEYOND words. I have done it again. Dammit. I have worked and scheduled myself into the abyss of exhaustion, self-loathing, and despair of not being enough. Again. AGAIN!
When am I going to learn this lesson???? #forthelove
Last week I sent a private text to the wrong person/group. I beat myself up for about 24 hours. Way to spoil the surprise Heather. Douche.
I spent three hours today combining no less than six full legal pads of to do lists into two new ones - the things that MUST be done this week, and the things that MUST be done by year-end. Both have hidden meanings...something bad is going to happen if the lists don't get done in those timeframes. Ugh. Everything else is being put in a file marked 2015. I can barely contain my joy in anticipating opening that file on 1/1/2015 (can you hear the sarcasm?). :)))
Tonight I read a post by Jen Hatmaker on parenting kids who sabotage big days, and I swear it was written for me...Ummmm, no surprise when several adults started posting that they were as guilty of it as their children. We all have stories. Stories of scarcity and shame. Boy how it manifests itself in the quilt of our days. I have so much still to learn about myself and why I do the things I do. Breathtaking.
I am tired of living and operating from the pain of BIG DAYS past. The what might have beens steal the joy of the here and now. The joy of a woman opening herself up to you on your couch on a Sunday afternoon because she feels safe with her feelings and pain. The joy of a friend who sees you drowning and offers a hand. The joy of a child who wants to play with crafts with YOU...take a hike with YOU. The joy of being needed and being able to be PRESENT and AVAILABLE to them.
I read this article called The Disease of Being Too Busy, and I saved it (too busy to read it when I saw it), and I cried reading it. While I have been very "intentional" in 2014 on trying to not use the phrase "I'm busy." or "I'm so busy."...yet alas it somewhere morphed into "I am EXHAUSTED!" emphasis added. ‪#‎bless‬
I am not alone. I have watched some of the people I love and admire most in this world run themselves clean ragged this year...and for what?? Purpose, calling, family, church, school, etc. Yeah...all of the "good stuff" so where are we all going wrong??? We have to cut out some of the "good stuff" and it is heartbreaking...especially for many of us who feel like we are finally doing "good work" finding our "people" and our "calling" and on and on. But there can be too much of a "good" thing, and although I am not some expert over here having figured it all out...I am realizing that I have too much "good stuff" in my life right now, and I need to lean it down some. Not only for the sake of my sanity and my health, but for the sake of the truly good work and ultimate thing God is asking of me in this life. This one single life I have to live.
If you are somewhere near, or right in the middle of, this with me...this read might be for you. Pour a cup of tea and take a minute....the link is in the title above.
"We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.
W. B. Yeats once wrote:
“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”"
"We want to be truly human." Wow. I don't know about you, but that strikes a powerful cord with me. The overwhelming guilt in the past few weeks is that I haven't been there in the bigger/deeper ways for some of the people in my life. I have been thinking...I need more time to write a card, cook a pie, or just go visit someone. I know I did that well once. What happened? When did my life get in the way of me just being human?
My friend last night..."Heather your soul craves time alone, time to read, time to write. You are not feeding your soul."...Tears. Flowing.
I cannot get her words out of my heart. I know she is right. I know so deep in my soul that it has been aching (real live pain) since she uttered the words. It is as if my soul is pushing through the skin...listen it cries. Listen.
The beauty of these past few years has been the work...reading, writing, and time alone with God....that is where the hard work has been done and the beauty from the ashes (as another friend would say) has arisen. There is more work to be done, but even more I can't step away from the very things that help me find LIFE. As I wrote that, I remembered a line John Eldredge said in one of his studies about once you taste healing or success...then it becomes the most dangerous time of your life...because you start replacing the things that help you get there with STUFF and RUNNING. That is exactly what I am starting to do, and I am SO stupid because I know better. I know SO much better than to do that.
The art of self-sabotage. I should write a book.
It is past my bedtime so I have to close...not because there are not still words, but because I need to rest on all of these words already left on the paper. Maybe you are fighting all of this too...spread too thin, fear of not being enough, self-sabotage, or just a feeling of despair. You are not alone, but more than the tribe that walks these paths with you is the love of a God who never leaves your side. Through thick and thin, feast and famine, the highs and lows...our God loves us deeply and fights for us fiercely. It has taken me many, many years to realize the deep abiding love of God for me...and I have just barely scratched the surface.
I sit here tonight. Exhausted. No. Doubt.
I also sit here tonight being restored by the prayers of others, the words of others, and my beautiful God. I am a broken mess...even after so much lost and learned....I hit my knees again asking for forgiveness and restoration at the foot of the cross. Come for me and my heart sweet Lord.

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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Intersection Point

Sometimes two loves in our life intersect. When that happens, it is magic. Today I experienced the magic of that when my firm spent the day at Camp Caudle completing energy assessments throughout the camp in the hopes of finding ways to save the non-profit camp money on their utility bills which as you can imagine are expensive. 

It was a great experience. 

What I didn't expect was the frustration I felt when it was over. 


Certainly a case can be made that after weeks (started 9/30) of running at a breakneck pace with zero time to catch my breath or even do appropriate follow-up from the trips, conferences, new friends met, etc...I am clearly running on fumes. Heart worn and torn.

Life tells you that you are supposed to be glowing and happy with so many great experiences in the books, heart tank full from Haiti, professional wins, and good stuff. 

No one wants to discuss the rest of the story....piles of laundry, bags from some trips still laying piled up unpacked or worse the ones that were unpacked by dumping on the floor so you could fill them up for a different trip, the dust bunnies that have procreated to an extent that they are now bunny villages, the trash (Do. Not. Even.), your bedroom side table that still holds the remains from a two week winter cold that would NOT let go, gifts that remain in piles still needing to be mailed, and this is just a snippet of home. My office is worse. The amount of paperwork is obscene. I swear it multiplies overnight. It all feels like TOO MUCH. 


It. Is.

I know this should only be a season. A period of eight weeks I planned for and knew was coming, but still it more than I bargained for...more than I want...more than I need...

Last night as I doped myself on NyQuil and snuggled up under a quilt watching the final three episodes of West Wing on Netflix (one of my all time favorite shows I have been re-watching as I fall asleep for the past few months)...I got to the next to last episode (Season 7, Episode 21) and watched one of the characters wrestle with choices about their life after working in the White House for eight years. She was a single working woman asking the question, "Have I lost my window..." for a regular life that isn't controlled by a cell phone, work demands, etc.? 

I started crying.

I worry all the time if I have lost my window. Of course these days, I look to God begging him to give me another window (different metaphor) than the one I am looking through...but still...point made.

The answer is of course no, but right now it doesn't feel that way. It feels like I am running and striving again and while the goals are better today than in the past...more worthy (dare I say) doesn't negate that I continue to wrestle with depleted (or scarce) resources (sleep, energy, time) and the burning this all there is for my life? Am I spending my resources appropriately? Am I running the right race? Should I focus on one of my "loves" instead of a baker's dozen? Mostly....God where are you in THIS? All of this? I am so grateful, but holy cow there is SO much of this! 😳

I am reading through Nehemiah...again!...and I continue to be struck by how in the end...he kept asking God to "remember" and "remember me" and after all he did for God and the kingdom he wrestled with "remember" and I share...

Sorry...crying and typing in a full restaurant and had to wipe my eyes as the owner walked up...

I digress.

I share Nehemiah's broken heart to help and do more and feeling inadequate and wonder myself...will I be remembered by God?

How is my life adding to the kingdom or to the betterment of the world? Do I do less in order to do more? Do I do more and stop whining? 

Today the heart rock reminded me that God loves me and sees me and I was where he that moment. What about tomorrow? Where does he want me tomorrow?

My calendar is full. Is it full of the right stuff?

I am wrestling tonight. Hard. It feels like my window is closing, and I am afraid I am going to miss it. 

Praying for reassurance tonight. Kneeling at the point of intersection. The cross. ❤️☀️

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Lessons In Closing Doors Behind You

Let me tell you just how bad growth sucks...and how eating crow sucks more.


I feel like it is both a sign of how much I have grown that I can so quickly and sincerely apologize to someone, but then on the hundredth time something is brought up...I finally say, You know I am sorry for past sins, but I cannot keep apologizing for something that happened in the past that I have already acknowledged, apologized for, and changed from...I don't want this brought up again between us...I can't keep having this conversation. How do we move forward?


Thank you Jesus!

Old Heather could neither have owned the mistake, nor apologized, and/or not allowed myself to be beat up again and again for it into eternity.

Growth. Where have you been all my life?

I remember leaning over the bridge looking at the Arkansas River here in Colorado (on my way back to Arkansas in 2012)  knowing that some things and people would move forward with me...and others I would have to say good-bye too. It was a breathtaking moment.
Here is the side of growth that no one writes about...where someone uses your past sin as a baseball bat to beat you with into infinitum. It is a thing. It is a serious thing for those of us who are easily prey to martyrdom.


Double Ouch.

So let me lay it out there and hopefully someone will learn from my willingness to look the idiot here...

You have made mistakes. Some of those mistakes are critical errors. You have a God who forgives you. You have a God who has an expectation that you will forgive yourself. You have a God who has an expectation that you will forgive others. You cannot control others as it comes to accept forgiveness or offering it.

I had you right up until the last part.

You cannot control who will forgive you. You cannot control who will truly accept your forgiveness. It is just that simple and just that difficult.

I have made some mistakes that when they cross my mind, I shudder. Yeah...that bad. The truth is that whether it is a cross word spoken to murder...when your conscious takes hold and you are convicted about doesn't matter WHAT it is because it ALL matters in your heart with God. Suddenly that little white lie to a viscous argument to whatever is the BIGGEST thing in the world. Guess all matters and yet is also all forgivable to your God, but it doesn't always work that easily to those we have hurt with our sins.

So many of us have used forgiveness as a weapon in our lives. Well you have to forgive me, or you have to be okay because I asked forgiveness, or I forgave you why are you so weird toward me??? I mean how many of us have spoken or had those spoken to us in our lives.

Yeah...that is what I thought.

I have worked really hard to forgive others and then keep moving forward with no expectation on them or our relationship. True forgiveness comes from asking for or receiving without expectation. That is truly hard, but for your have to learn it.

Back to the beginning of the post. I have "repented" again and again about something with someone, but they are just "hung up" on it and can't move forward. At some point, I have to be okay that we might not be able to get back to where we were. That hurts...both sides...but it is our reality and one that we have to be willing to consider for our individual health and well being. No one wants to have a yoke on their shoulder every day trudging through trying to make a relationship okay when it is NOT okay.

I the end. That is who I am, but what I am learning is that sometimes it is worth the "fight" but not solvable on this side of matter what. At this point, I am learning the painful lesson of knowing when, "I can't keep having THIS fight/discussion/etc."

One of my parents gave me a book years ago on Boundaries that was startling if you know my parental history. I am a girl with no boundaries on my heart, and they knew that. That book is good, but it took me a long time before I read it. I have, and I am learning. I was raised and always believed that you should take the hit, trudge through, no matter what. I am learning the fallacy of that. It is not easy or perfect or for everyone, but for this is a critical point of my growth to be able to say to someone in a soft tone, "I can't keep having this discussion/fight/argument. We may need to make a change." How I say this, as much as the words, has opened up discussions and depth between me and others I would have never known otherwise....on the flip side, it has given both sides permission to close doors...sometimes between each other. 

It is a risk that must be taken...Every. Time. It is also always a last resort for me...but one that I am at least finally willing to consider before it is too late.

This is a hard post for me to write...and one that I really need to be read knowing that I am writing it from and with a heart of is simply me sharing the struggle in some of the lessons God is teaching me. I don't necessarily enjoy these lessons...this being one of my least favorites thus far, but it is one that I know I needed...I am either too hard on people or too hard on myself or both....and the truth is that we teach people how to treat us. It has taken me a long time to learn how to treat myself and my own comes the hard lessons in teaching others who have not always treated me well. It is also challenging for those that I have not treated well to forgive me and move on. Lots of landmines in this lesson. Have I mentioned lately how much #growthsucks??!?!?! :)))

Here is to hoping this helps you consider your own boundaries or lack of them. How are you treating forgiveness of yourself? Forgiveness of others? Are there people in your past, your life that you need to work to restore? Walk away from? And in all of this, ask God...where are you in THIS? What would you have me to do? I don't make decisions these days without asking and waiting on God to direct me? And then to ask the second and third questions? Thank you John Eldredge.

Here is to healthy relationships. May we all work to have more of them...Every. Day.

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Gift of Tribe

The C7, Captivating, October 2012 ~ At Our Table :)

When I remember my life pre-2012, I struggle. I tend to get sweaty palms (sometimes I sweat through multiple layers of clothes), there are a lot of accusations (99% of those are directed at myself), my head tends to lower, my voice changes....lets be honest....everything about my state of being in those moment changes.

Even after all of the growth and healing of these past few years (nearly three), it doesn't take much for my mood to shift. The shift happens a lot less often today then yesterday, but it still happens...and when it does, it feels JUST LIKE the hissing whisper of a snake in the garden years ago.

Eve still lives in me. She always will.

The difference between then and now is not simply God, but the warriors he sent to ride next to me into battle. I call them my tribe.

To say I knew God, loved God, and wanted to be "good" for all of those meanings would be an understatement. The problem is prior to 2012, I didn't really trust God so the knowing of God was really more in my mind instead of true actuality. That is hard for me to admit as a card-carrying Christian and church-goer for all of my life, but the truth will set you free...and to know me is to better understand my story, and at the heart of my own personal story is an honest assessment that I didn't trust God as far as I could throw him and because of that....I neither knew him nor myself.


Of all of the things God has worked through with me, one of the hardest to date is my deep mistrust of both him and others. I simply have not ever believed that anyone really loved me or had my best interest at heart. My story told me that everyone has ulterior motives, and I believed it.

When God sent me to Captivating in October 2012, I was in search of I knew not what, but he did, and as I worked through...well, lets just say,  A LOT on that mountain...I had no idea that the most lasting lesson was being interwoven every day, three times a day, at a simple table next to a window, in the sunshine.

I have often written about how the C7 met all clamoring for the same table in the sunshine at that first meal, and how we each came back again and again. What I haven't spoken a lot about is how we never talked about jobs or titles or what we did back home. We stuck to Jesus, our spiritual life, our spiritual battles, and what we were doing on that mountain. Bless. Us. When we said our good-byes four days later, and I walked up the mountain to my jeep, it hit me like a soft feather...they don't know what I do, have a business card, they don't know me...BUT yet...They. Did.

It would be nearly six months later on a farm in Kentucky before I admitted to the group what that simple not knowing had meant to me standing alone on the mountain that day. Right, wrong, or indifferent...what I knew to be true in my heart was that what I could do for others was not only my strongest quality, but more often than not all I really had to offer.

In the days after Captivating when the group text messages started, e-mails, writings....the shock and awe for me turned to an openness with others I had rarely experienced. These women knew my fears nearly as quickly as I did...they prayed for me....they listened...they encouraged....and all without judgment. I was in a GREAT battle for my heart that even they did not know, and frankly I was too beaten down emotionally at that point to realize there was a battle...I already felt it had been lost.

There have been hundreds of text messages since then, and I do mean hundreds...I can walk out of a meeting and have 32 (In. 30. Minutes.). There have been visits, phone calls, e-mails, private blogging back and forth, dinners, trips, etc., but mainly there has been the knowledge that they are there...Every. Minute. Every. Day. They for me and me for them. It is a safety net for my heart that I note as, "Oh my C7," but the truth is I should state it more as, "Thank God for my C7!" because I do thank God for them...Every. Single. Day.

One of the C7 went to Haiti with me this past month. An act of faith and trust in both me and God that I admire more than she knows. She loved on Haiti....Like. A. Boss., and Haiti loved her right back. On the final night of reflections, I gave her a risk bead for stepping out of her comfort zone and taking the journey. I  then lost my mind and my heart and thanked her, on behalf of the entire C7, for saving me on that mountain two years ago. As I type this, I am weeping (in a restaurant no less...thank goodness everyone is watching some game) both at the memory and the truth of that moment that rings today in my heart. The truth is that God sent them to save me, and they were already doing it before I even had the sense to catch on. #bless

That. That, is my God. That is how my God works.

Maybe because I am a tough nut. Maybe because he is just that good.

This past weekend I was asked a lot about the how of living from your differently. Every time. Every. Single. Time. I explained tribe to them. I simply don't know that one can live this life well without one. I think you can survive and even have a good life, but for some of us...

Allow a digression....

For some of us that weren't raised with solid families, stability, etc. For those, tribe means so much more than I can explain. A lot of people learn how to do life with others in their families growing up. I was not one of those. Clearly. It took a tribe, my God-given tribe, to teach me that, and frankly, the lessons continue.

So....tribe is important, and for some of us, it is EVERYTHING.

There are hard days ahead for me. God is calling me deeper into hard things, hard decisions, scary stuff. I have been resisting a lot of it...okay, most of it, but this past weekend reminded me to both whom I belong and who he sent to be my wing women. It was pretty epic. I was pretty humbled by the whole string of moments he had orchestrated for me. Have I mentioned I am a bit stubborn? ;) :)))

Who are you? What breaks your heart? Who is standing next to you...pushing you deeper into God's will for your life? Who is pushing you toward God not away from him? Who is asking you the hard questions, not agreeing with you when you whine that life is hard? Who is pulling out your best, versus catering to your worst?

These are hard questions. The answers often suck. Some of this hurts. Diving in and finding, saving, restoring, and growing your BEST self is hard work. Read that as #growth sucks because it really, really does...right up until it doesn't. I saw a glimpse of when it doesn't this past weekend when one of the C7 not only sent me scripture and prayers, but heard me/restored me/lifted me with a couple of sentences in a text and then he sent confirmation via another C7 who happen to be in the audience. I nearly emotionally crumbled under the awe of recognizing the beauty of the moment.

I have spent a lifetime running from my heart, crafting my life to what I thought was wanted by others, and working to please and fill a hole inside of me that was always too vast to be filled by anything of this earth. Only through hard work, a tribe, and a God who offered me grace and restoration...In. The. Same. Breath. have I learned differently. I am not done yet, the growth continues, but it is time to more actively help others, newbies in my tribe, to find the same hope that I did...two years ago on a mountain in Colorado.

You can't do this life alone. If you hear nothing else, hear that. The good news is that God never expected us to go this alone...that was always the lie. Always. Don't believe it.

Ask God to show you your tribe, and then hold on to them, fight for them, love them, and pray for them every they do you.

This post...albeit incomplete this side of dedicated to my C7, my original tribe. I tell you I love you nearly every day, but in case you ever forget, let this post be a love letter from my heart to yours. I couldn't have made it to this point without each of you, and I cannot imagine the remaining days of my life without you in them. Each of you is a warrior, a priest, a preacher, a beauty, a mother, and my heart. I love you.

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Foot of The Cross

Ozark Conference Center, Solgohachia, Arkansas

...and I thought re-entry from Haiti was bad...

A dear friend of mine hosted/put together/organized/spearheaded/launched the first ever Captivating Arkansas event this past weekend at the Ozark Conference Center in Solgohachia, Arkansas. She is AMAZING! It was EPIC!

I think for me the big surprise was when she asked me to teach a couple of sessions. Really?!?!?! I wanted to explain how I was in this weird spot of trying to figure out my gifts, purpose, and calling among a litany of other excuses...of which I had ample supply of worthy ones (Come. On.), but I agreed...without pause.

Say What????

*Deep Breath*

My to do list is pretty full on the easy days, and I haven't seen an easy day....well, it has been, I am SERIOUSLY in this weird place of questioning with God. Think "Walking With God" by John Eldredge without the fancy chapters and grammer.
He sent them JUST when I needed them.

These are hard days for my heart.

No. Excuses.

I headed up to the mountain after work Thursday with a packed car (mostly dirty my last post), a heart full of words, and a lot of peace. This was my friend's show. I was a small bit player in a sea of talent for Jesus. No pressure. I was going to be an encourager and wallflower.

What. A. Douche. I. Am.

I was taken aback by how easily I cruised into the camp. Caterers were late so I was on time. My friend blew it out of the water the first night. My teaching lesson came to me on the drive up (I am thanking God for not waiting until the last minute to give it to me), and I am organizing it in under an hour after the Thursday night session ended. I go to bed (early considering I expected an all-nighter), and I am sleeping like a log. I wake up early...before the sunrise...make coffee, snuggle up on the back porch in my quilt, and feel utterly peaceful considering I teach at 9 a.m. An hour or so later, I take a shower, more coffee, a bit of fruit, get dressed, have my favorite outfit and jewelry on (think cargos, t-shirt, sweater, and Haiti jewelry), and I am relaxed and at ease back on the back porch rocking in a rocking chair at 20 till 9. Then 7 mins till 9 happens. My business partner calls my cell (I am thinking he has called to pray over me as I reminded as I leaved the day before...speaking at 9 a.m....say a prayer), and I am thinking he remembered and is being extra sweet. Nope. Long story short. Very bad news at the office. He is losing his noodle. Everyone is losing their noodle and after 2 mins of listening to the noodle-losing, I lose my own. The enemy pulled the trigger and the bullet hit its target. Damn.

The story doesn't end there though because quickly I regained my noodle reminding him where I was and what I was about to other partner, sensing the moment, prayed for me. Simultaneously one of the men who was with us had seen/heard through the wall...and was headed for me to do the same.

I don't know how, other than God, that I pulled my head out and taught that session, but I did...solely because of God. It was such a stark reminder of the battle I am in...Every. Day. for my very heart. It is SO very easy for me to be pulled in....scratch that...SUCKED IN to the cray-cray (Sorry Sydney) of the day...heck of the moment. I can go from perfect calm and peace of Mother Teresa to Jesus throwing a fit in the temple so fast that it even scares me. Where. Does. That. Come. From.???

The enemy.

Fast forward...still reeling from Friday morning (and multiple calls with the office Friday afternoon did not help, but before you judge, I am an owner in the firm, and it isn't just saying no), I cruise into Saturday morning in a daze. I have nothing to teach Saturday, so it feels like a day to just be in the moment. There are breaks (3 hours) in between lunch and the first early evening session. I felt compelled to head out to the edge of the mountain where there are three crosses, some wooden pews, some rocks, and a view that takes your breath. I laid out a blanket, my Bible, books, notebooks, pens, and my cell phone planning to take some cell phone was dead...God said, "You can't hear me with that music playing."


My spot for three hours Saturday

For the next three hours, I laid there and prayed, slept, prayed, listened, listened some more, read my Bible, took notes, and BREATHED. Somewhere in the middle of it, I knew it was one of those "special days" and I tried to make it last....but eventually I had to pack up for the next session.
I love Isaiah 62 where he promises a new name.

But...not before God gave me a new name, 'splained a few things to me, and reminded me powerfully...and then gently....who I was to HIM.

Standing on a rock, on a mountain, wondering where he is going to take these feet of mine next.

I don't spend enough time LISTENING to God. I spend too much time reading about him, talking to him, running (I do a lot of running), and zoning out (whenever I can find some free moments). He and I need more time together, and I can't go where he is calling me unless we do. I think I have been avoiding the quiet with him because I am scared of what he is going to tell me. I didn't feel ready. He reminded me that he was already taking me there, ready or not, and I was so busy being afraid of it...I hadn't realized I was already DOING it.


A lot of people let my heart down on Friday. That day was BRUTAL to my heart.


In the end, it was just me and God.

Peggy took this photo of me praying Saturday; I will treasure it always.
The clock struck 9 a.m., and I walked into a room of women and opened my mouth...and God came out. Truly God. It was beautiful. I have spoken a lot but not like was different...peaceful...full of community (if that makes any sense)...I am crying just remembering and typing this out. I. Was. In. Love. With God, with those women, and with the story God was weaving in my words. I didn't want it to end.

...and the HUGS. These women HUGGED me like I was a life raft. I felt more loved and needed by those women. If only they had known how they were healing me, restoring me, and reminding me...of who I am.

Life is surprising.

I don't know where I go from here.

What I do know is that I more excited than ever for the Girls Weekend I am doing in a few weeks. A whole bunch of 13-20 year olds who want to spend a weekend with me so we can all discuss Jesus and the hard stuff. God that is so good. Because Jesus is easy, but the rest of it...the rest of this life, in this HARD.

I told those women this weekend that I wouldn't lie to them about how radically obeying God was easy and awesome. How once you make that decision, everything falls into place. How the questions are suddenly all answered. I told them of all of my sins, lying wasn't one of them, and that I would be the one (maybe the only one) to tell them straight up ~ #growthsucks ~ because it does, but...BUT it is worth it. 

Some mornings, days, or evenings sitting here in a sushi bar typing up a blog post while listening to men lose their noodle over a football game...I wonder where on earth God is taking me, but then I think of how far he has brought me from that heartbroken, broken-spirited woman back in 2012 to today, and I shrug my shoulders and say, "Whatever." because I trust him.

I completely trust God.

I love the women from this weekend, but God gets ALL the credit for how AMAZING it all was...I hope they realize the teachers were being taught God...and by them.

It. Was. Beautiful. ❤️☀️

I love this shot captured by accident Saturday.

***So much more to write, but my heart is processing this SO slowly...need a little time. Special thinks to my new #tribe members, but extra special thank yous to my #C7 tribe who propped me up with and in prayer throughout the weekend and sent me words of encouragement. I could not have made it through what God was leading me through this weekend without each of you...your actions, your heart made ALL the difference. Thank you from the deepest parts of my heart.

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Struggle Is Real ~ So Are The Lessons

I am a hashtag addict, and I admit it.

A few months back I saw a hashtag #thestruggleisreal, and I laughed out loud. Isn't that the truth I thought...

My Back. I am sitting in bed for the fifth night in a row as I struggle to be still/limit my motion/etc. to give my back some time to heal from a nasty wrenching in Haiti a week ago this past Sunday. I am actually being forced to ask people for help...lift stuff, etc. #thestruggleisreal

Captivating Arkansas/Adventures In Teaching. I am working through material for this upcoming weekend when I am set to teach two sessions at Captivating Arkansas. I know two things, no matter how much I prepare, God is going to give me the words on his schedule not mine (lest I remind myself of the 1:47 a.m. timing this past summer God had for a lesson I was scheduled to give less than 8 hours later at 9 a.m.). Good. Grief. #thestruggleisreal

Haiti. I got more than a few calls and text messages yesterday and today all centered around Haiti...questions, concerns, and I am worn out. I love people. I love the dialogue, but it is hard sometimes for people to realize that I am working through my own thoughts (so close to getting back). I don't have all of the answers (not by a long shot), and I am struggling with my own heart...decisions on what to do next..where I am needed....some/most want quick, concise responses (you have to wonder if they even know me...LOL...I can barely spell concise much less be concise...especially on any topic I am passionate about...LOL). Haiti is not black and is multiple shades of enigma wrapped with a bow of is beautiful and raw and nothing like you expect. Haiti surprises you...Every. Time. Every. Single. Time. I feel no allegiance except to God and where he directs me, and though it is difficult for me...I am trying very hard to be patient and move at the pace and in the direction that he nudges me. It is the only way I know I will do the right thing. Radical obedience; toughest thing I have ever done. #thestruggleisreal

Business Partners. Awww....the joy and the curse. Having never been married, sometimes I am convinced that God sent my business partner to teach me all of the beautiful lessons of having a partner since I have never had that professionally...and am a walking disaster at it personally. My business partner has a strong walk and faith, and because of that...God is healing me of many old wounds. That said, no partner, business or otherwise, is perfect. Having a healthy relationship only means when the wounds show themselves, you take the time to clean them out and invite God in to heal them. That takes time and patience. I have neither. can imagine the struggle, but my God has the patience I lack...and He waits. #thestruggleisreal

Laundry. Don't even. I have been out of town 13 of the last 22 days. I leave Thursday for another four days. I can't begin to explain what is happening with my laundry or my loft in general. It looks like a boys college dormitory exploded in my home. One of the funniest things I have heard recently is one of my #iflocaltribe expressed Sunday how much she loved my home this made her feel homey or happy. Not sure which. Oh. My. I thought. If you can imagine, I arrive home long enough, to dump one suitcase out and re-pack another because the trips differ so much that even my luggage is changing nearly every time. I stole coffee and toilet paper from my own office (good thing I am an owner) tonight because I don't have time to get to the store. I am hand washing some clothing items. I am too embarrassed to continue this...It is bad. #thestruggleisreal

Tribe. I have the best. I don't want to blubber so I am going to leave it at that. If there is a way and place where the enemy works to thwart my life or my heart it is with my tribe, but I find myself fighting like a warrior for them and for us, as doing this life with each of them is the joy of my days. In return, they fight for me. It is a dynamic and a depth of connection and relationship I have never had and continue to work to understand. More than anything it is simply a gift I work to honor every day as they teach me to be a better person, a better friend, a better business partner, a better boss, a better sister, a better aunt, and a better member of the human race. Better. #thestruggleisreal

Books. I have purchased no less than 30 books since 9/30/2014. 30!!! I read/finished two in Haiti which means I have finished about 5 in October. I miss lazy Saturdays full of reading, a quilt, and hot tea. I am not complaining because the slowness of my calendar (travel-wise) in December will soon be here...and I will have just that, but I do miss it. I know I will appreciate it and have plenty of reading material piled up to savor. #thestruggleisreal

Sis/Aunt. I have missed more football games this fall than planned due to flight delays and thrown backs, but my nephews still love me, and I eagerly await a long weekend with them soon. I miss them more than they know. It was a thrill having my Sis and niece in Haiti, but it will be sweeter still to have all of them (my little chicks as Sis would say) together under one roof. I like when I can see them all in one space. They are my heart. #thestruggleisreal

I could go on, but the tears are coming, and I have a pile of reading to finish before bedtime which will be on time with an early wake-up call and hitting the road for Mississippi at dawn. I think I needed to write all of this out so that I could laugh at myself. I knew that the seven weeks starting 9/30 were going to be brutal but pure BLISS, and they are every bit of both...I needed a reminder that #thestruggleisreal, and my life, while crazy, is full...just the way I love it to be. I need to get on the river and row, take a nap, do some laundry, remember to breathe, but all of that will come around due time. Right is this moment, these moments, and I will not feel guilty (that is the old Heather) but only grateful that I am given more than I deserve...Every. Day.

Me and Tacura, October 2014 ~ He is teaching me to breathe. :)))

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Songe ~ Remember

A lone boat in a pond just outside Marmalade, Haiti
The "feel good" portion of the program is now over.
These are the words I hear in my heart this morning after scrolling through photos of my latest trip to Haiti and re-reading the words I wrote here the night before I left...Over.

I know instantly what that means. I have made four trips to Haiti in just under 15 months. I have seen, smelled, tasted, listened, felt, questioned....I have learned SO much; I have SO much still to learn. Yet...


Caleb asked me some tough questions, via Dodo our translator, as we sat on a table inside the orphanage walls where he lives 24/7. He asked me about marriage, family, children, loneliness, opportunity, why I come to Haiti, and my dreams. I asked him about his own family, dreams, what he wants most, and learning English. It was tough. Caleb and I have grown close over the past visits, and it was if he had saved up the questions for me...anticipating the time and place to ask them. A painful exchange between us the day before that led to a colossal misunderstanding over a gift he tried to give me...and my enlisting Dodo to help me understand Caleb's mood change the next day was the opening Caleb needed....and he took it. What it led to was a very raw and candid conversation between the three of us, because Dodo weighed in beautifully, and I understand more clearly now some of the things rolling around in Caleb's head while he lays on that metal bunk bed at night inside four concrete walls. I also feel like in some way it was God confirming for me things I have wondered about since that very first day in Haiti.

What if he is calling me to more...for more?

Allow me a digression...

I am sitting in the warehouse of our office while a floor crew cleans and waxes the concrete floors in our office. It has been pushed off since we moved in at the end of April, but it can be pushed off no longer. I scheduled it weeks here I sit with a very tender back (I pulled/wrenched it this past Sunday morning while in Haiti trying to get a great photo, and even after 90+ minutes with Gail last night after is still not 100%), listening to my Haiti Playlist on my iPod, and mulling over a note left for me last night by an employee whose last day was yesterday.

I feel emotionally and physically raw.

I sense that is about to come out here.

Buckle. Up.

So....when I am away from our firm, my business partner doesn't always handle it well. We started this and have grown this together...virtually in lock-step. The truth is neither of us do well apart, but we need to get away from here and find our balance so we work on letting the other step away. This last trip to Haiti was an #epicfail on his part in letting me step away. In fact, I drafted more than a couple ultimatum letters in my head just so I could break the soul ties and move on from my frustration and continue to be "in the moment" in Haiti. It was tough.

I came back into the office Thursday physically wiped, emotionally a mess, and overall frustrated with my partner and my lot in life. What was I doing here??? Friday we had an important energy conference, and I had been asked to speak on a panel discussion about our firm's role in the overall industry...who we are, who we want to be, and our overall observations of our industry....I was nervous. What no one knows is that since Monday (while still in Haiti), I had been praying for God to restore my passion for my company and my industry OR open the door for me to sell my part and walk away. All of this came out of frustration in being sucked back into my job responsibilities while in Haiti, being in Haiti in general, and seeing firsthand some real needs that I believed I could fix...if only I had the time and opportunity. So, back to the panel discussion...I did my thing, and my business partner slips me a note, "Please don't ever leave me." with a heart next to it. So...I guess I nailed it. ;) The day was wonderful. I felt re-engaged and re-energized in my firm, my partnership, and my what is the problem?

The note.

"....You glow with the grace of God when you speak about Haiti. God put it on your heart for a reason, and I hope you never ignore that..."

Written by a young employee who I have struggled with leading for several months...I mean pull my hair out, don't know what to do with them/me with them kind of thing...

*Deep Sigh*

Then I saw the one written to my business partner...talking about his dream, etc....

I often joke that I serve at the pleasure of the president because our firm is a manifestation of my partner's dream, not mine. Now I did always dream of running my own firm or someone else' a twofer out of this one on that, but nonetheless...this is his dream, not mine. I love our firm. I love what we do. I love our purpose, mission, and vision....but....BUT... is still not my dream.

So what is?

I have built relationships with a lot of these children and adults in Haiti. I am honored by that...and humbled. The children trust me when I say, "I will be back." and give them a specific month. I don't promise, but tell them when I plan to be back...I tell them I am working on this or that...I want them to know I am, but I also don't want to promise what I cannot deliver.

Calling and purpose.

What is mine?

I have had the stupidest questions since returning from Haiti....about Ebola and where in Africa is Haiti...did you wear a mask in the Dallas airport. *Ugh* I read yesterday of a group going to Africa from Arkansas that is being harassed and threatened. Seriously?! Let me tell you...we all have our callings and purposes on this earth. Some are called to the homeless, some to Africa, some to Haiti, some to their office...I mean what if I told my friends in the Peace Corps...come home and help the homeless here. I hope they would say, "Why don't you?" Because first, why don't I? Second, who is to say that is their calling? Me? Good. Grief.

When did we all get so damn mean and scared and holier than thou? When did I? I am not perfect...I can be mean, scared, and holier than thou with the best of them. What is wrong with me?

I am not walking in my calling or my purpose. That is what is wrong.

I have been studying Nehemiah back and forth and sideways since mid-summer. It started with a sermon series at my sister's church, then I bought a bible study, and then it got referenced again and again over the course of some books I was reading...and it just sits with me like a grandmother at my bedside while I lay sick. It is quiet and every once in awhile it reaches over to check my temperature and my breathing.

The final chapter has been knawing at me for several weeks prior to Haiti...Chapter 13 references "Remember" four times including the final sentence..."Remember me with favor, O my God." Nehemiah's motive throughout his ministry was to please and to serve his divine Sovereign. The same man that in Nehemiah 1:11 stated, "I was cupbearer top the king."

When I walked into Papillon in Haiti on our first full day of the trip, there hanging on the wall at the entrance was an over the shoulder burlap bag that my eyes caught first. It has letters all the way around it, "Songe." I asked someone what that meant, and it is Haitian Creole for "Remember."

You. Don't. Say.

Front of Burlap Bag from Papillon
Back of Burlap Bag from Papillon
In Christine Caine's book "Undaunted" she writes of "the challenge" starting on p. 193. I have p. 195 virtually 100% highlighted and the book has been folded at that page and stuffed into the final chapter of Nehemiah (Ch.13) this past month. I carried and toted my Bible around Haiti like that....and as I sit here today in the warehouse looking around at walls and shelves and inventory and a company I helped build...staring at those pages, a former employees' note, Caleb and Tacura's faces, and hearing "Up to the Mountain" by Patty Griffin....I am reeling. 

Undaunted, page 195, by Christine Caine
"He means for us to walk into the gap where he's thrown down the cross, to walk like him, to walk with him." ~ Christine Caine {Undaunted}

I am not doing that. I. Am. Not. Doing. That.

I come closer to doing it in Haiti than anywhere else in my life, but I am not doing that.

What is my motive? Who am I pleasing? Who am I serving?

I need God to remember me...all the while he is imploring...Remember. Me.

I am worrying (Every. Time.) will the children...will Tacura and Caleb..remember me. Each and every time I worry. All the while, they are looking into every bus for a familiar face, maybe even my face...they are wondering if I will...Remember. Them.

They are asking do they change their destiny.

I can't beg some here to live up to their clean up a conference a report correctly...answer a phone....

Yet I have stared into the eyes of men and women who need jobs and children growing up way too fast who are five years from having to have a job and are already worrying about how they will find one...what will they will they will they help support their family...a family that had to give them up and put them in an orphanage because THEY could not afford to keep them.

How do I reconcile that? How. Do. I.??

My work here matters. I know that. I am frustrated at times, but I would be frustrated at times anywhere...even Haiti...even more in Haiti I am sure. What are the lessons though that we can learn from Haiti and implement here? What bigger question(s) is God asking me to consider about my own purpose and calling? Who am I? What breaks my heart? What are my gifts?

I am being called into more....different. I don't know what that means or looks like, but I know that God's expectations for me and my life are changing. He has opened my eyes and heart, but now he expects me to act on what I now know. Unafraid. Unflinching. Unstoppable.

I lost my noodle on our last night in Haiti trying to express how the message of something was being missed. Lost. My. Noodle. I know that these are big issues. Complicated issues. Orphan care. Orphan prevention. Sustainability. Family preservation. I get it. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. I have read all of the history books. Reviewed the stats. Seen the film. I. Get. It. That doesn't prevent us from being able to be a force of change....of hope...of love...dream builders. Haiti is a country of strong men and women. Haiti's children are stronger (in backbone and will) than many adults I know...than myself. I am not willing to walk away and give in that the battle is too hard...the wall too tall....and I cannot bear to hear, "...this is the way it has always been..." anymore. I can't bear that in my own firm's industry, and I can't bear it in Haiti. How it has always been is a sure-fire death to the same old same old. We need new ideas, fresh minds, renewed people at the table. We need them at the tables dealing with Haiti just like we need them at the table dealing with energy in Arkansas. We need them at EVERY table.


Our motivator cannot be solely profits and statistics, but the individual beating heart of the people impacted by our good and bad decisions. The people who pay ridiculous utility bills in Arkansas and the people who are struggling to find work in Haiti. The common denominator is that these are people. It is time to stop paying Russian Roulette with people's lives....with Caleb and Tacura's future.

Tacura looked me as I peeled myself away from him, and said, "I love you." so simply and quietly that I could not bear it. I can't bear it now. These children...this not asking me to save them...they are asking me to love them, play with them, laugh with them, and give them hope...for a better day.

They give me courage and hope for that better day...Every. Day. 

Photo Bomb ~ Haiti Style, Source de la Grace East, Croix des Bouquets {Note: me, Tacura, and Caleb are all standing in fire ants...right after this shot, the kids started imitating me jumping around on one leg. LOL}

Who gives you courage? Hope?

For more information on the organizations I am working with in Haiti and how you can help, please check out the following websites:

All of them are all over social medias where you will find additional links to projects they also support or work with, the individual orphanages around the world that The Global Orphan Project works with, etc. I implore you to approach all of this with an open mind knowing that these are individuals in unimaginable situations and sometimes locations working to make a difference. If there is anything I have learned in the past couple of years as I prepared for, made, and now have made multiple trips to Haiti and learned more about orphan is that knowing what to do, how to do it, and with whom to align, is like navigating a field of land mines. It is impossible. You must be willing to fail, correct yourself, change your stance on something, look like an idiot, learn...You. Must. Learn.

I say all of this with the great hope that you will dive into orphan care, your local foster care, homeless, or anyone who is in need (or as Jesus states in Matthew 21:45 "one of the least of these")....knowing that in helping them you are closer to Jesus and his will than at any other moment of your day/walk. It is in helping the #leastofthese in my state and in Haiti, that I have come to recognize the deep void in my own life. They have helped me more than any help I have provided to them. Through them, God has healed many broken places deep inside of me. He continues to heal me still.

I write this with deep love and hugs for whatever journey you are on, and to humbly ask for your prayers as I continue the journey God has started in my own life. We are all called to different walks, but we are all called...Each. And. Every. One. ❤️☀️

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Haiti ~ The Next Adventure For My Heart

I am getting faster...I was packed for Haiti in an hour this time. Of course, I have a ridiculous number of bags as I am bringing a lot of stuff to leave down actually even more impressive. ;)

I have four people flying out of Little Rock tomorrow with me so they will soon arrive at the loft to crash for a few hours before we leave here at 3:30 a.m. for the airport. Yikes!!! I sit here alone looking around at the after-effects of packing (think tornado), I am left to dream about Haiti.

Just a few more hours, three flights, and I will be there.

On holy ground. Sacred ground.

As I sit here, I am left thinking of my dear mentor and friend who lost his wife unexpectedly this week. I am reading all of the text messages, private messages, and e-mails that are coming in from excited parents who are sending their children on this trip; friends sending me their thoughts and prayers, and it is humbling. It is also a reminder that I never go to Haiti alone; I always am taking a lot of people's hearts with me. I am reminded that there is loss everywhere. I am reminded that life is fleeting and we must seize the day...every precious moment.

Caleb and Tacura
There is so much I cannot wait to see and experience, but nothing more than getting to check on these two boys and see how they are doing and growing up. It has been far too long since I have seen them. I also wonder if they are okay....will they remember me? They always surprise me.

This trip is extra special because I am co-leading it with my dear friend who got me into this Haiti-love affair- mess to being with...:))) It is an honor to co-lead this trip with him (bless him for training me so someday I can lead trips for The Global Orphan Project on my own). We have a group of 18 going for five days and seven of them coming with me personally; only one has been before. Those stats alone are mind-boggling. I am also going to get to stay an additional two days to help/watch some work The Global Orphan Project's Go Exchange Team is working on. #mindblown

I get to see my niece experience her first mission/overseas trip, and that breaks my heart all at once. I get to experience it with some of my dearest friends who are experiencing it for the first along with her 11 year old daughter who has been persistent since March of this year when she saw a Flipagram of me and a little girl named Emily in Haiti, and she "had to go" to Haiti. Bless that sweet, joyful heart. the way THIS is Emily...

Isn't she just a MESS?!?! I am sad I won't get to see her this trip, but hopefully next time.

My phone is really blowing up now, and I am so grateful to everyone who takes the time to not only send me love, hugs, and prayers....BUT for our entire team. WOWSA! My heart is full!

There are a lot of people in my life that are watching this trip actually makes me grin to type that because there have been a lot of "special" words and prayers sent to me and prayed over me. It is funny and lovely to have a #tribe doing life with you, speaking truth into your heart and mind, and be such encouragers for I am headed down to Haiti full of anticipation, arms and heart wide open, and simply expecting God to show up in some BIG and small ways. I love watching Jesus work in Haiti. It is like nothing I have ever seen or experienced before or since.

So I am looking for God to SHOW UP, and there is nothing better than when you let God be God. I like to think, that as I am on the cusp of year three of my journey into radical obedience, that it is easier for me to let go and let God do his thing. LOL *Sigh* What Haiti does is teach me how to do that...more and more....because in Haiti, I have NO other choice than to let go. My Sis says that I look different, sound different, am just DIFFERENT in Haiti. I can breathe there. No one has to remind me. What a blessing that is...just to breathe. *Deep Sigh*

So to The Global Orphan Project and IV for trusting me, encouraging me, and giving my heart space to change and grow...THANK YOU! To our TEAM, this is going to be EPIC. To my family and friends and TRIBE that love me and encourage me and pray for me...There are no words, but a lot of tears, for what you mean to my heart. Thank you.

To my friends in Haiti, and especially the children who keep teaching me lessons only they can...and especially to Tacura whose own personal loss and need cracked open my will always have my heart....I love you, and I cannot wait to hug, laugh, cry, play, sing, dance, write, color, draw, and practice Haitian Creole with you.

Safe travels to our entire team. Prayers asked for and sent up for God's will.

June 2013 - Me and Tacura
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Ongoing Journey ~ Am I Enough?

I just spent three days in Atlanta at my first Catalyst event. My mind/body/soul are somewhere between physically spent, soul on fire, and mind blown...and not necessarily in that order. It is all blurry now what I saw on Catalyst that made me click on their website, but I said yes. The truth is that I couldn't figure out why in the world that God would want me to go to Catalyst. I say God because I don't make big decisions without God these days, and I always give him the credit when they cross my blind path (as this one had). I am working on looking to him for the small ones too, but that is another blog post....probably.

The truth is that if you look at my calendar NOW for the next eight weeks...the why that God would want me to attend a conference like this is glaringly obvious. What I am reminded of today is that none of this was on my calendar when I said yes back in May/June. None. Of. It. Not co-leading a Haiti trip, not speaking at Captivating Arkansas, not leading a young women's retreat...None. Of. It.

The lesson...and the reminder...God. Knew.

I heard God urge me to ask my friend Sherri (#C7) to go with me. I had no idea if she could, would, if he were calling her too...but I asked, she prayed, and she heard go too. Wow!

Sherri was the perfect, and I do mean perfect...partner for this journey which found me with audible gasps, tears, pulling my hair, rejoicing, praising, singing, skipping, introducing myself to those I admire, watching her do the same, and filling up yet another Moleskine with pages and pages of words I needed to hear...and that I need to share. It was a three day adventure for our souls. It was perfect.

I am sitting here in the Atlanta airport waiting on my flight...delayed, and I am struck by the humanity all around me. The man I ended up at a table with while I grabbed some dinner. He sells refrigeration equipment and solar panels all over Central America including Haiti. We had a fascinating conversation about energy and kwh and nerdy stuff that some days I wish I could forget, but it is all up there now...and it matters. Haitians pay on average over 36 cents/kwh for electricity. By comparison take a look at your electric pay 6-12 cents/kwh on average. Think. About. It. He was telling me of some other neighboring countries that pay over 40 cents/kwh. I felt ill. He has only been to Haiti once...he sends others on his team....once was enough. My jaw on the table...once! Go back! They need you! I actually said a little of that out loud, but hopefully not with the pleading and urgency that resonated in my heart. I love Haiti. I can't imagine my life not full of going back again and again.

I digress....

One of the final questions asked of the attendees of Catalyst was one they wanted us to ask God, "What do I need to change/give up/do/release in my life in order to be a change agent in my my community?" {No sweat there huh?!?! *Sigh*}

I am sitting here thinking of all I have had taken away from me, given away, walked away from, run away from, changed, corrected, asked for forgiveness for, repented of, lost, changed, done...and yet I sit here knowing it is not is NOT even the tip of the iceberg of what is going to be asked of me. What is being asked of me. I hear him. I hear HIM. I simply have been ignoring some of the urgings. I was afraid. I am afraid.

What would you do if you were not afraid?
  • Just 15 months ago I would have said no to Haiti, and now Haiti is one of the richest aspects of my life.
  • Speak to a group of girls/women about my three year journey; now I am about to do that for the third and fourth time this calendar year....WHAT?!?!
  • Start a business/be an entrepreneur; now I am about to enter year three and I need stronger seat belts for the rollercoaster.
  • Lead a small group; now I am way beyond that, and it is still terrifying, but one of the best parts of my week...EVERY week.
  • Blog about the anyone to see and read. Yup. *Sigh*
When I write just those out, I am humbled and in tears....partly because each of those listed still scary me nearly Every. Day. I still fight the feelings of inadequacy, skill, knowledge, etc. Am I enough? Am. I. Enough.?

Can I help make the world better? Change the world?

Can I help lead others through some of the same mistakes, failings, pitfalls, sin that I found myself falling prey too and in some case marching into boldly because I was too broken to have the sense God gave a goat? Can I be brave and share those journeys?

Stasi Eldredge posted this photo after I wrote all of the above...and I thought back to two years ago and Captivating in Colorado that first time. Has it really been just two years? It feels like ten. The broken, hot mess, that sped to that mountain top two years ago....I don't even know her least not most of her. Thank you Jesus for that.  If someone had told me then that I would someday go to Haiti, or Catalyst, or lead a small group, or downsize my career, my life, or any of the big and small things that God has done in my small life in two years...I would have laughed...OUT. LOUD.
Tonight my IF:Local group spoke a whole lot of truth into me that I am struggling both to believe and digest. Somewhere on the back roads of Haiti later this week...their words are going to fully sink in...that I know now.
What if what breaks my heart is part of a divine design?
What scares me to death? I used to say my life not what scares me is going through life knowing that my life ABSOLUTELY DOES MATTER and not doing anything with it. My heart is burdened, yet what am I doing about it? What are any of us doing about the things that break our heart?
In Nehemiah, he said, "I am just a cup bearer to a king." Ahhh..."just"....
We are all called to do things in our life....change some cases a lot of somethings. I spent a lot of years like a caged animal imprisoned behind walls I helped build to keep everyone at a safe distance from anything going on even a millimeter beneath the surface. I was lonely, unsure, angry, and terrified. What can God do with all of that mess? A. Lot. This afternoon I was reminded that he can do A LOT with all that He has healed, restored, and that he continues to work with me to heal. I am not where I was two/three years ago, but there is still work to do. There will always be work to do.
Yesterday I had an encounter with a homeless man...and when I say homeless man, I mean Jesus. He walked up to my rolled-down window stating he did not mean to hurt me that he was hungry. I was never scared or nervous and grateful that I had cash (which I never do) in my coin purse from Catalyst trip. I handed him a twenty. He seemed genuinely stunned, reached in, grabbed both of my dimpled-cheeks in his hands and said, "I love you SO much." eyes twinkling and then walked away. I was sitting in the drive-thru lane at Popeye's mouth wide open.
Christine Caine spoke at Catalyst (and by spoke, I mean #killedit) and said sometimes our hearts are right, but our soul is damaged; we lock God out of the places He needs to go in us - the dark, infected places. We have to be willing to embrace the pain of recovery.
I have spent the better part of my life with clinched fists. I am done with that. My hands are open, palms up...ready to give and ready to matter the matter the matter the cost. My heart was shattered many times over many years. God has healed me; God heals me still. My soul was wadded up and tossed aside on the side of my life right where I had left it over so many years. God has restored it; God restores it still. What I helped to destroy, God is making whole. No one is more blown away by this than I am, and no one is more grateful.
My life has not been picture-perfect. I have not always made good decisions. I have lost more than most in human capital, and most of that I will never be able to recover. I am not meant to go back and re-claim Egypt. The promise land is ahead of me, not behind. It is time for me to face that....there will be no recovering former lands for this girl.
Catalyst slayed me, but it was only a precursor for what God is planning for me in just a few days. Haiti always holds fresh lessons and deeper restoration. He has something special planned this time, and I await with hands wide open. I am just a cup bearer...for the King.
Tacura & Me, January 2014 {I can't wait to see him!}
...take me deeper than my feet could ever faith made the presence of my Savior. {Oceans by Hillsong United}
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)