Saturday, June 28, 2014

Doing Life Together

Our girl got married yesterday.

In what can only be described as the Bohemian, Love Child Princess meets God's most perfect lush explosion of flowers and lush forest on the top of the world looking over the Blue Ridge Mountains...Our girl married her boy.

God was all over that place. God was all over them. Love, joy, tears, and laughter permeated every square inch of that mountain top. I. Have. Never.

I wept through most of the ceremony including while I was reading the passage from John and Stasi Eldredge's Captivating that Sherri had selected and asked me to read as a representation of the C7.

We ate and danced and laughed to exhaustion. One of the C7, Judy, brought her husband and three littles (the two girls are officially C7 Mini Mes (the group is always amused how I "name" things). They added a sense of joy and light to the festivities that cannot be measured.

Last night as some of us were crashing, Kacey asked, "What was your favorite part of the day?" Besides the obvious...Every. Single. has to be Sherri and Tim's dance. It was to Kari Jobe's Beloved. A song that was played at Captivating and Sherri had this wonderful dream/vision...and we have prayed that dream with in front of our eyes...God gave Sherri and Tim...their Beloved. I had one of the littles in my lap...sweet Katie....who I desperately wanted to smuggle home with me. I am weeping and smiling as Sherri and Tim dance to Beloved with Katie snuggled up in my lap wrapped up in my pink pashmina (I must send her one), and she says,"Miss Heather isn't she beautiful?" "Yes," I answer. Then she asks, "Are those happy tears?" "Yes, Katie, they are happy tears. God answered all of our prayers today...our girl is Happy and a Beloved and a Beauty." Katie snuggled in deeper and sighed a little, "Mmmm..." she sighed/whispered. God, I so love the heart of a child.

I am digressing a lot....

As I fell asleep last night and awoke far too early this morning, I couldn't get the pastor's words during the ceremony out of my head about being a couple who lives grace.....about them and us doing "life" together.

Which made me thing about a post I wrote yesterday morning that I kept as a draft so that I could give myself time to mull over it. The post is raw and real...and says maybe too much. I sit on this deck in the wee hours of the morning looking over the Blue Ridge Mountains feeling tremendously grateful, feet throbbing a bit from the dancing ;), and working through the restlessness in my head and heart over that phrase "doing life together" and all that means.

I believe with all that I am that God sent the C7 to us at the perfect time so that we could "do life together" not simply through a season, but over the breadth and depth of our lives. I don't write that a lot or say that a lot, but ever since we all chose the same table, against the wall, with the sunshine beaming in on it (the only one that did), all of us signing up for this Captivating adventure solo to go spend time on a remote mountain with 300+ women we didn't know of all backgrounds, faiths, places, etc. from all over the world...God did that. God brought us there. That moment in time. He chose us to do life together. The surreal thing, even now for me, is when we left four days later with addresses, e-mails, and phone numbers...we still had no clue about who did what, work, stay-at-home mom, spouses, religions....all things we would learn in the days, weeks, and months to come. In that four days we learned about each other's hearts, souls, fears, our search and work with God in the inner parts of who we are...we prayed together before meals...we did learn who ate what ;)...but we just learned the deep inner parts. The life...the rest of doing life together would come...later.

Even to write all of that...two years later...leaves me shaking my head, crying, and breathing differently. Who does that??? C7. God. Not necessarily in that order. :)))

I have had friendships. Family. All of us did.

Doing life though? With a group of people? I don't know that I ever had that before C7. Sadly, I know I didn't. Not because I didn't have amazing people in my life...but because I was ill-equipped to do it. *Sigh*

If I am a better sister, friend, It is because of the C7. They have taught me how to do life with people...a tribe. My conversations are deeper. My relationships more fruitful. My heart more open. There are tougher things too. I have lost friends, loved ones...not everyone wants to do life like this with others, and I completely get, respect, and honor that...because I was a slow learner too. Maybe someday. I have hope. To do life with someone is to have a deeper truth spoken to you than you ever had, but served up with a greater love and grace than you ever known. The conversations between us are not always easy...sometimes rarely so....there are seasons, but they are real, raw, grace-filled, enveloped with love...they are from safe people in a safe zone that we have created between us with God. It is magical.

Which gets me back to yesterday....the wedding of our girl. If there is a way to start your life together...they nailed it. I have been to a lot of beautiful weddings...magical ones even, but theirs felt different....there was an air of peacefulness and joy and love that could not be quantified. I really felt like if I stepped outside of the rock walls surrounding us, I would find myself on a cloud floating above the earth. It did not feel of this world. It absolutely felt like we were experiencing a bit of heaven. Sherri's joyful laughter crackling in the air throughout the day. She was the most joyful bride I have ever seen. Ever.

So this is what it means to do life with people...I have been missing out, doing it wrong, and I am sorry for that...for myself, but more for those in my life. I hope I have gotten better, but I know that I have more lessons to learn from my sweet C7 on doing life with others. I am blessed that so many are loving me through it.

Yesterday Katie looked up at me out of the blue and said, "I am so glad I met you." Me too Katie. Me too.

Sending love and light to everyone from the incredibly gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. My joy tank runneth over. My heart is full. The tears are falling like rain. They are happy tears (Yes Katie!). Yes they are. :)))

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When Your "Growth" Goes Viral

It is slightly surreal to read your "growth" in print, but that is just what two friends gave me the opportunity to do when they asked if they could interview me for their blog. When a friend asks you to do something, you rarely get all of the details before saying yes. Clearly, I did not. Their questions took me a great deal of time to answer, and even then...I am not sure I realized afterwards that they would be sharing them to their readership and would want me to share them with mine. Sometimes I am a little naïve. Wowsa!

After the shock and awe of the moment I opened up their e-mail yesterday and saw this link PlanForComfort: An Introduction To Heather Nelson, I sent it to those I trusted most with a message "...THIS just happened..." like what do I do now?!?! :))) Due to the fact that I have the single most awesome tribe EVER...they said, this rocks (in not so many words) and own it.

So humbly...I am.

I am the most blessed girl on the planet. I have experienced the trough as well as the mountain top. I know loss. I also know immeasurable joy. I have survived all of them to live another day. None of this by my own ability, but because of a loving God who has more faith in me than I do myself. He has (and continues) to wait patiently while I sort my mind, body, heart, and soul out after years of putting the good and bad of my days away in little boxes on shelves...stored away, protected, hidden, and me or anyone. I realize a little more every day as he reveals more of me to me that I have spent a lifetime not truly knowing who I am as I tried to be all things to all people. I was hiding from everybody, including God, but mostly I was hiding from myself.

I don't know that today when I wake up I am more me than ever before as much as I am more honest about the me that I am. If I have slept poorly, wrestling with decisions (of any variety)...I no longer stuff that away...I reach God in prayer, to my tribe...I share...this is what I am wrestling me, pray with or for me, give me a hug. It is a life lived transparently that I am going for, and let me tell is a life that is not for the faint of heart. It is though...Worth. It.

"...A tribe. Connection. Passion. Building space in our lives for those three things…well, they changed my life…and I believe they can change the world..." I am not sure I have ever summed up anything (LOL), but I know that these three things have changed my life for the better...and that whatever God holds for what is left of my life...these three things are the foundation on which he will launch all of it.

I hope you enjoy the piece. Please check out Stephen and Debbie's other blog posts, website, and firm information. They are doing great things at Northington Investment Group and in their community. It is an honor to call them friends and have them in my #tribe. :)

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Path ~ He is (Re) Making Me

My mind woke me up at 4:45 a.m. this morning. My bladder soon there was nothing else to do than get up, pee, start the coffee, and sit down and start writing....thoughts, to dos, concerns, dreams...and somewhere in all of that the sun came up...which is surprising on multiple counts as Arkansas is currently experiencing monsoon season. ;)

I had an 8:30 a.m. breakfast meeting with a friend (our firms are strategic partners). In fact, his firm was one of the first I knew we would need when launching ours.

I digress...

The one hour meeting ended up lasting over two, and while the original purpose was business, our personal lives...and ultimately our spiritual walks soon overtook the conversation. It was breathtaking.

I remember a time not so long ago when I could count on fingers how many people I had cried in front of, but those days are long, long gone. I get misty-eyed in business meetings even more than with friends. I spend a great deal of time apologizing for it while simultaneously cursing Brene Brown and her dang vulnerability lessons. :)

So even though to be so raw and trusting and vulnerable with those I love and trust...and especially those I don't (though this morning most certainly falls into the first category), it still leaves me breathless when I take a moment to recognize where I am emotionally in contrast to where I was...just a few short years ago. Breathtaking.

When God takes someone on a journey, he doesn't usually give them directions or a guide. He is a God of mystery...especially when the lesson is radical obedience. Of this...I am most sure.

So...I have this playlist on my iPod titled "Haiti" which I save for songs that moved me on my trips, travels, and/or were sent to me from others to "help" me. Since returning in March from my last trip, I have come across some songs that remind me of challenges I am having in light of Haiti or remind me of I have added them. No other song describes my walk right now better than Sidewalk Prophets' Keep Making Me, and it came to me this morning after my meeting as I felt my head spinning a little...not to mention my heart.

I was one of "those" Christians who thought I had it together...thought I was living a good life...thought I was keeping it between the ditches...thought I was enough. The key in all of those is "I' as I was living in the world of denial that what I did mattered. Silly girl.

I spent a lifetime in the church without a clue what I was doing there.

That sentence takes my breath. It also makes me simply weep. The tears just flow.

Deep. Breath.

For all I am learning, the lessons I have yet to learn...yet to master...are endless, and I guess that is why I hear the words of this song, and I think....fill me up...empty me and fill me up...don't give up on me God....don't lose faith in me...I can do this...but you see, I can't. I. Can't.


I wouldn't take anything for the life that God has me in right now. Sure there are things I dream of, wish for, want, but the lessons....the awakening....the spiritual awakening that I am undergoing is so rich...and even on the tough days...yesterday, this morning...God ever so gently reminds me...and I smile through the exhausted tears.

Some of my #tribe is reading various book recommendations I have made this past few years...and the text messages and e-mails I get from them as they walk their own path are priceless beyond measure. It is a reminder that we are all walking this life together. That is such a sweet reminder for this girl. So tender sweet.

So for all of my #tribe that is struggling with the lessons from the books...vulnerability, radical obedience, trust, bravery, grace, mercy, empathy....keep going, push through, and know that you will survive. It does get better. The lessons matter. The healing from all of those old wounds matters. You are loved, cherished, and known by a God who knows every hair on your head, every sin, every shortcoming....and loves you immensely because he also knows your every gift, your heart, and every single hair on your head. Growth doesn't mean that you stop feeling pain or you stop making mistakes. It means your truth lies in something and someone infinitely bigger and more important than any individual in your life, any mistake, or award won.

Once upon a time I judged myself solely on how others judged me (or my perception of how they did) this girl sees herself more and more each day through the eyes of a grace-filled, loving, and strong God. Just him. That, my beautiful loving tribe, is progress.

So to my dear friend and partner-in-crime (so to speak), thank you for the lovely meeting this morning...I hope I didn't do any permanent damage ;)....thank you for giving me the space to be me...all of, driven, broken, vulnerable, defensive, loving, weepy. More than that, thank you for being a strong man who showed all of those same things. For a moment we achieved business nirvana...just two smart, driven individuals trying to change the world and grow in God. It doesn't get much better than that.

Growth is hard, but it is SO worth it. Let my beautiful, patchwork quilt life be a testament to that.

Please say a special prayer for my two nephews who are on mission trips this in Nicaragua and one in South Texas. Also, my sweet precious niece who at 20 showed such bravery in publicly acknowledging (and there was video to boot) that she wasn't sure she "got it" before, but she did now and wanted to give her life to God and be baptized. She left me breathless. So for this perceived "fearless" babies are showing me up teaching me bravery and grace, and I could not be prouder. God has them...and I hope they walk in his truth...his love...and I ask that you pray for them and all of these young ones who are being cast out into the world this summer to learn and be changed...and hopefully to leave a little of themselves along the way too. Bless. Their. Hearts.

"Until you are my one desire, my one true love, my breath, my everything...Lord, please keep making me..."

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