Saturday, January 25, 2014

Radical Obedience ~ 10K Trail Walk in Haiti

I grew up in a family where judging ourselves and each other by ridiculous standards was a sport. A. Sport. I know I am not alone in this...my tribe has taught me that...Bless them. Bless all of us. Growing up is simply...hard.

I saw this photo today on Pinterest as I drank my morning coffee...through a straw. ;) Just kidding. 

My business partner calls me a "pusher" as he jokes that nothing would get done without my pushing...action plans, checklists, and CTAs after every meeting (internal and external). I really resisted that label for the first several months, but he has finally helped me to realize that my pushiness is a positive, if not essential, to our firm...just as his skills are...

Hmmm....

I want to do things.

I want to DO things.

I don't want to judge or talk about all of the things I don't like in this world or in others or especially in myself. Reforming (emphasis on the "ing") self-hater here. I want to talk about all of the things I love. I want to DO something about the things in this world I see that are wrong. I want to make a difference. I want to love. Love. Deeply and dangerously and radically love others. Be a positive oxygen-breather in this exquisite world. 

Dirt floors or majestic skyscrapers. Designer duds or tattered hand-me-downs. Gravel roads or expressways. The beautiful sun rises and sets on both. There is beauty and love in both. There is purpose. There is joy.

I grew up believing I had to achieve and save (money) in order to be safe, loved, protected. I was such a fool. {Shaking My Head}

Two weeks ago I was walking a 10K through the back roads of Haiti. I was unprotected through the majority of it (lost my buddy...whoops), dirty, sweaty, nasty, being greeted by beautiful people and waving and greeting them with "Bonjour" as if in a parade and I was the lead float. These people were joyful, kind, often barefoot as some of them walked alongside me going to work, hoe in hand, children carrying water in buckets bigger than they were....with joy. All with joy. I was a nobody with nothing but snacks and a water pack on me. Just walking through life. Life.

I was safe, loved, and protected in that exquisite, unpredictable setting. {Deep Sigh}

I have had it all wrong. {Deeper Sigh}

I got it wrong. The last year and a half  (two years) have been a radical wake up call. The list of things I "got wrong" have been been growing exponentially...By. The. Day. None more than the list of things I believed (since age 9) I needed in order to be emotionally, physically, and spiritually safe. I am the child of a God with a radical sense of humor. When he is tired of waiting for you (read that as me) to "get it"...well, he wakes up your heart in a...well, radical...way.

As I come out of my post-Haiti fog and sort out the lessons and the joys of my latest trip...this seems to be the overarching theme...God really shook me up from a safety perspective. From the middle of the night drive to Dallas with two strangers (both men) in order to make my flights....to the 10K experience....to conversations....to risking Tacura not remembering me (bless my sweet heart that he did)....to going alone (again) and just dunking myself into the experience. I literally winged this experience...just me and God. 

...and there is the latest lesson...

Will I trust him with my personal safety? Not just emotional, not just my dreams and plans, but my physical safety...My. Life. All that it is...

Tears. {Sigh.}

I want to be around people who DO things. I want to DO things. I want to make a difference and be unsettled and be radical in my love of others...

I have no use or time for gossip, hatred, or simple ugliness towards others (or even towards me)...

I want to be too busy DOING something and LOVING others and SHARING in this wild life to have a second of time for any negative. 

Maybe I am a pusher. Maybe I am a little crazy. Maybe I am in dangerous, unchartered territory for my heart or comfort....

I like it though. I was in heaven walking that 10K. It was as if shackles were falling off. It was dangerous and crazy and beautiful and the hearts were EVERYWHERE. God was EVERYWHERE. 

My favorite song in the church hymnal growing up was one that no one ever wanted to sing...it was on the front cover and I guess it was/is hard...

Hmmm...

The song was about walking with God, in a meadow, and I had it in my head while I walked...because Heather and God had a long walk that day. A long conversation. What did he want me to see? Learn? 

Live. Breathe. Love. 

I have you. Trust me. 

Love others. Let yourself be loved. Deeply. In this new raw, unprotected space I am introducing you to...

Push. Relax. Enjoy.

It came in waves. Waves.

Funny Story....
 
So...I kept getting chills while I walked. It was something like 100+ degrees the day of the race. Every time I got a chill, it cooled me off, and I literally said a blessing each time, thanking God for keeping me cool. Let me remind whoever reads this that I had not trained, never done a 10K....yet here I was walking a Trail 10k in Haiti. Nuts! Gay, our medic for the race, checked in with me on my last stretch, and I told her I was great and how God was keeping me cool. She looked at me sweetly and said, "Ummm. That is not God. That is your body telling you that it is too hot and you need to drink water." Oh if all of you could have seen my face and read my thoughts....because I nodded agreement, but inside I was sure it was God. LOL 😂 

...and that is the lesson...

...in the middle of a digression....

I want to DO. I want to be brave. I want to stretch myself past my comfort zone. Why? 

Radical love and purpose reside there. I want THAT. 

Ask yourself...(I am.)....are you happy?, truly?, living in your comfort zone? Your answer might surprise you.
 
*Follow-up 1/27/14...This just might be the craziest, most rambling post I have ever written. I literally felt like I threw up on my keyboard Saturday morning when I wrote this...and today, three days later, reading it...it quite literally reads as such. *Sigh* So the perfectionist in me is tempted to delete or hide the post, but the Lord is whispering for me to keep it up...trust him with it...trust my readers with it. There is a lot going on in this post, but it is fully representative of the whole "lot going on in" my heart right now. I am searching...as a friend of mine says, "Heather you are searching for your purpose, and we get to watch...and it is wonderful." Well, that is sweet, but it is hard...for me to let everyone watch me grow. Because...like I always say, "Growth SUCKS." No one wants to tell you that when you are reading their books...Brene Brown to Eldredge to the Bible to Lean In....we skirt around the "work" part of growth. *Ugh* So...thank you for loving the posts that read beautifully and for loving me through the posts like this one that read like I am speeding down the hill without brakes. *Yikes* I truly love this tribe of mine...and I grow more and more aware of how blessed I am to have each of you...Every. Day. :))))

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Breathings of My Heart ~ Sunday Musings


Well, I am here to tell you that all of the trying and horrific things you have heard about "re-entry" are true. Very, very true.

Re-entry is what happens when you get home after a trip to say...Haiti. The beauty of travel to unknown destinations is that you have no way to fully prepare for the experience...what you/we rarely consider is how the experience(s) will change you and impact your daily life once you return home.

Haiti is intense...in just a single, solitary word...Intense. It is a country of contrasts....beauty and pain,  trash and treasure, sunlight and darkness, blue skies and dirt roads, lush fields and muddy water, breathtaking views and views that quite literally take your breath, it is where God meets satan, and love meets redemption, and when your eyes can't take in anything else...your heart is moments from bursting, your spirit soaring and sinking simultaneously, and your body spent....then, THEN Haiti hits you with the knock-out punch...Joy. Pure, unadulterated joy.

I often write about the places in my walk where God has met me. Haiti is not one of those places.

Haiti....Haiti is where God sent me and then he wrecked me...sweaty, tired, spent, weeping, aching arms from rocking and holding orphans, cheeks sore from smiling, legs rubber from walking, back aching after days of concrete and wooden benches with kids crawling all over me, head throbbing from thinking and dreaming and brainstorming, mind reeling from the sight of children fighting in line waiting for a hot dog and then splitting it into threes and fours to share it with a smaller child who never made it to the line, heart shattering as an orphan asks to see photos of my family, a man greeting me in Haitian Creole (and me the same) and walking together side-by-side...me in a 10K trail walk/run laden down with water and snacks and proper shoes...him barefoot, tattered clothes, a hoe in his hand, singing and joyful as he walked from one field to the next to continue his workday as I casually strolled through the back roads of his homeland, the little boy all of three who walked awhile with me while carrying a jug of water nearly as big as he was...grinning at me with eyes lit and a smile that could melt the sun, being remembered by a little boy all of eight who with a small pointed finger reached out toward me across a playground and melted me to my core (I would give all I have to experience that single moment of the trip again. All. I. Have.), and the little girl who totally spent crawled up on my chest...burrowing in...and as I rocked...fell asleep...right before I did the same, and the beauty of sunrise that I cannot put into words especially when it rises up over a brightly painted orphanage where children are singing, harmonizing, joyfully greeting the new day...a beautiful new day.


I am sitting cross-legged on my couch this Sunday morning....knowing I have a list of things to do a mile long. Bags still unpacked as I left again for a couple of days just 24 hours after returning at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning from Haiti. Dishes, laundry, a work week to prepare for...

...but there are other needs this Sunday morning. Church at home, alone, me and God, simmering, praying, searching, weeping, writing...unfit for human companionship right now. Yesterday I slept...All. Day. My body spent in ways I cannot even fully describe. I was a pile of jello merging as one with my couch the entire day...knowing I had things to do, but not a bit of strength or true desire in me to lift my body up. This morning as I came out of my lethargic, catatonic state...the words are coming....slowly. I feel a deep desire and responsibility to document my experiences in Haiti better this time...more. I kept a lot of my trip last year to myself...not selfishly, but because it was hard to speak of it without getting deeply emotional...and those who I trusted with it were few...and often it was simply done because they asked about my trip, and I could NOT not answer the question without emotion and passion and lots, LOTS, of hand gestures. :)

Haiti is something everyone should experience...at least once. Haiti is everything I have ever learned about Jesus personified, and it is a country that moves me somewhere deep...in a primal way. I want to drink it up like a woman who has spent a lifetime roaming the desert alone...and suddenly comes upon life. You thought I was going to say water...it isn't like that though...it isn't life sustaining...it IS life. It is life with all of its beauty and darkness and struggle and joy...it is magical, mystifying, and a puzzle I can't quite figure out.

I am a girl who loves to be needed, and Haiti is a country full of need...YET, that isn't the point. I need Haiti. I need the lessons Haiti is teaching me...about myself, about love, about God, about my work, and about life.

People keep asking me, "What is about Haiti for you?" I don't know...and I shake my head every time...I don't know. It is the intersection of nothing and everything somewhere in my heart. I understand nothing yet everything when I am there.

I don't know.

The place our soul loves often acts like a mirror reflecting back to us the core (full or empty) of who we are....if that is true, and if Haiti is that for me, then I am a walking paradox...and that my tribe, I have known for a very, very long time. In helping in Haiti, I am doing the most selfish act of my life...because it is Haiti that is teaching me, healing me, revealing to me the deep lessons God has for me..showing me the core truths of what my life is...what it can be...what it has always been meant to be.

I promise to write and share more from this last trip to Haiti. Be patient with me though....simply getting to this post has been fraught with exhaustion, tears, and revelations. Allowing a place to turn you inside and out....is a journey, not a destination, and this is a marathon, not a sprint. Just as I took my time walking the back roads of Haiti as I completed the 10K...I need to stroll through the memories and pictures I took in my mind...revealing them slowly as God uses them to teach this stubborn one yet more lessons of his heart for my heart.

Lest I forget, thank you SO much for all of the prayers and words of encouragement both before, during, and now after my trip. I have the most dearest friends....those I have known for years and those I know only through here. Each of you inspire me to push on, to be brave and write from my heart, and to share the lessons of this path to purpose I am on....many of you are much, much more eloquent than I....and the fact that you are patient with my trial and error....well, it is humbling and lovely, and I am grateful. So grateful for you.


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

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Story of Our Hearts ~ The Breaking of Mine


Heart Rock in Path at Hinche, Haiti {My June 2012 Trip}

I sit here 24 hours before leaving on my second trip to Haiti. I am neither terrified nor jumping for joy. I am suddenly very solemn. Even though there will be familiar places and people on this trip. I go alone, once again, and there are butterflies in my stomach. There are many unknowns for me on this particular trip. Unknowns that once realized, feel now like they could change my life, my path, my course...

That makes me suddenly smile.

The first time I went to Haiti, I had only heard from others how it "wrecks" you. In returning tomorrow, I am fully aware of Haiti's power over me....my heart. I go knowing full well that I will not be the same when I return home five days later. Suddenly, that singular realization makes me pause. "Am I ready?" I wonder. I shake my head defiantly...NO.

....and there is the gift....

From God.

Hmmmm...

See....the end of 2013 really messed me up. I had two weeks there where emotionally I checked out. My past crashing down on me. Pressures. Mistakes. Guilt. Shame. Loss. Perceived judgement from others. Ugh.

I embraced a new year with nary a smidgen of optimism. I crawled across the calendar pages from December 31st to January 1st like a woman crawling across the desert in search of water...relief...renewal. January 1st found me at the banks of a mirage. Misled, mistaken, and confused. 

Somehow and somewhere some new strength emerged the next day. Day 2. Symbolic? Who knows. Unfortunately, a few walls also emerged...I see them now so clearly...Sigh.

So I am sitting here this morning on the eve of Haiti...in desperate need of being broken again. Reminded that I am not defined by my past, my mistakes, my shortcomings, all I have lost. Reminded that my purpose in life is not limited by the world's perception of me or my big (tiny) dreams...but by a God who adores me. Little, broken, screwed up me. Me.

Satan is good. I forget that. I forget how crafty he is. How he can destroy us with just a memory. Just. A. Memory. Let that sink in.

For a moment, I forgot who I was to God. 

Lies vs. Love

All those quotes and posters about "love always wins" really chap me when I am in the middle of a spiritual battle for my heart. They ring hollow and blatantly untrue. This is why we all need others who will fight with us. Know us. Battle for us. Love us. This is why community and connection are so important. We need life-givers in our tribe. For the world is full of life-takers....emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Speaking of...(as I was typing this post and in search of words...THIS happens)...

Last night I came home to a gift at my door. My friend Elizabeth (a world traveler and life giver in her own right) had left me a surprise...a small notebook full of handwritten (by her) poems, quotes, etc. for my journey. Are. You. Kidding. Me.??? Speechless. I devoured that book last night over a cup of strong tea. Simply breathless. This morning as I awoke...24 hours from jumping on a plane to Haiti...a mini-meltdown in my heart overtaking me....I get a text from Sherri (C7)...

"1 Peter 1:8-9 ~ You never saw him, yet you love him. You still didn't see him, yet you trust him-with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you'll get what you're looking forward to: total salvation.

1 Peter 1:18 ~ Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God.

Nevermind the details right now. Be light, be love, be present. "

....simultaneously an email from IV (who is already in Haiti) entitled "Haiti Awaits"....and just like that...the walls around my heart start crumbling...

See...unbeknownst to me (until this emotional epiphany)...when the waves crashed over me those last two weeks of December...I re-built some of those same old walls...Satan was crafty...very, very crafty. Some of what was happening, I knew....some I did not....Damn! I thought I was past a lot of this. Insert &^*$ here.

I mean...SERIOUSLY?!?!

*Ugh*

Deep breath.

"God is in the roses and the thorns." Those are the words I always hear....that beautiful line from Rosanne Cash's album Black Cadillac. They remind me...Of. My. Life.

My sweet tribe. Satan wins...the darkness wins (whatever you believe that to be)...wins....when we allow ourselves to be physically and emotionally isolated in the pain. I am violently shaking my head from side-to-side as I type. I allowed myself to forget this for a moment...okay a few weeks. I now have to pick myself up....AGAIN....dust myself off, and try again. Move forward...again.

How long would this emotional isolation have lasted if not for this trip to Haiti, C7, my tribe, my sweet friends and family who have been piercing my heart over these two weeks....and now all of them have finally broken through?!? How long?!?!

So...lets begin again.

People have hurt me. I have hurt myself. Pain exists because life exists. No amount of good in your life or by you in your life can prevent the pain from coming back...again and again. In waves. In moments. In a memory. In a call. In an action. In a text. &*$# Happens. Life Happens.

I make no bones about being a broken, sinning, child of a merciful God. That part I have down cold.

It is the beautiful, honorable, giving, and loving child of a grace and life-giving God part of who I am that I have trouble acknowledging....I have trouble believing I am a good person. The next stretch of my journey in this life is a quest to figure out why that is and fix it. There is something within me that says either I am not a good person....or is coupled with "others do not believe you are a good person." Those lies...that deficiency in my self-esteem is crippling me....and sabotaging the journey God is taking me on...it is ridiculous.

I am not interested in a blame game of others or myself. I simply want to be able to "own" the good in me as easily as I "own" the bad that also exists in me.

Does this even make sense???

Unfortunately I believe it does....

Growth SUCKS!

So...here I am...less than 24 hours from Haiti..already unraveling emotionally....my heart dislodged and in question (much as it was on the eve of my first trip to Haiti)...feeling like a screw-up on the island of misfit toys unfit for communion with others...being shown AGAIN by God and friends that my heart needs to be broken (possibly on a regular basis...dang it!...and that this living with your heart wide open and being vulnerable is extremely messy....BUT, but it is worth it. SO worth it...and Haiti is going to remind me of that in a BIG way...and that makes me nervous...and that is okay...

....and now all of my blog readers think I am five seconds from a straight jacket and the funny farm...and you are probably not to far off base....but the truth is this post (the writing of it) has helped me to work out what I have been unable to do on my own over the past two weeks....so thank you for reading, listening, and being my heart....my tribe of readers.

Bless your hearts. Seriously. :)))

...and mine.

#haitiINtwentyfourhours

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