Wednesday, October 28, 2015

35 Days

Someone told me once that I think way too much about death....the frailty of life...good-byes.

Ummmm....totally and completely true.

This morning I found out that someone I knew and worked with passed away...35 days.

Yup....36 days ago they worked a full day....35 days ago they went to the doctor complaining about trouble digesting food/loss of appetite. This morning they passed away.

35 days.

I can almost hear God whisper...."Listen Heather, beloved daughter I love. Stop wasting time."

I am sitting here typing this at my desk looking down at piles and piles of STUFF that demands my time and in the center of the madness is a post-it note with 10 Bible verses about joy listed out one-by-one.

...and I shake my head.

*Pause*

I got pulled away...a package came for me just now....no kidding...it is a planner I ordered for 2016. It is unique....."The Dream Job Business Planner"....

I hear you God.

What are you not doing that you know you should....would....could....BUT....???


Life is about choices. Every single day...tons of little and big choices.
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:21
My treasure is my time. What is your treasure?

Deep thoughts on a cold, rainy fall morning, but loss is a time to remember...to pause...to reflect. God is pulling me close and whispering in my ear...I am working to shut out the noise and just lean in and listen to his voice.

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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Awwww....There YOU Are

Two years ago I skipped (yeah...I am pretty sure I skipped) down to the front of the intimate auditorium, stood in line, and when it was finally my turn to introduce myself....I started crying (just a little), grinning like the cat that ate the canary, and gushing about the first time I read Beautiful Outlaw (two years prior) to its author John Eldredge. He stood there grinning, and when I said to him that while reading that book I said, "Awww...there you are Jesus." as if I was meeting Jesus for the very first time (age 40) having been saved at like 13...John replied, "I love your enthusiasm of that!"

October 2013 - Me & John Eldredge (I am the GRINNING one!)
This morning before church I watched that session from the conference two years ago and it was like a time machine back to that day. That glorious day (day two of the conference) when John Eldredge spoke about Loving Jesus (though at the time I had no idea that was what he had named the session), and I was captivated because it was a lesson on/from Beautiful Outlaw....and so this morning, I suddenly realized that while I became a Christian in my early teens, I had not fallen in love with Jesus until I was 40....and the lesson that day two years later was the gift from God reminded me of what it felt like that December when I DID. When. I. Did.

...a little worn...

The truth is that up until that book, I read scriptures different...I saw church differently...I saw God differently...I honestly didn't really know Jesus (like I thought I did)....and I was more LOST than the day I gave my life to him and got baptized by my beloved youth pastor, at night, in a dimly lit sanctuary, with only four other people there - two to small to understand and two who (to be completely frank) didn't really care, but they were all my people...and when you are saved and baptized you are "supposed" to be surrounded by "your people" and those were mine....and wow I am suddenly starting to have run-on sentences in my head that sound like the close of a Louie Giglio teaching. :)

If my love for Jesus is a love story....and I think all of us have a love story with Jesus....then mine has certainly been a love story for the ages. Filled with young love and adoration....then obedience...then disobedience and distance...then denial....then begging for forgiveness....and restoration.

The truth of the matter is that on that December day when I had that thought reading Beautiful Outlaw of "There you are Jesus," lets be clear....Jesus was probably chuckling a bit thinking, I have been here all along....lets talk about where YOU have been....and the further truth is that I probably knew all of that on that day which is why I didn't go running into his waiting arms.

It would be another month.

Do you remember the day you fell in love with Jesus?

Let me tell you....God has been reminding me of our courtship together for a couple of weeks now, and I am GRATEFUL for it. I am grateful that he knows that my spirit has gotten weary and dry. I am grateful that he is sending me sign after sign, circumstance after circumstance, reminder after reminder, word after word, awe and wonder, and it keeps coming....I feel God PURSUING my heart, and let me be clear....

I. Know. How. Crazy. This. Sounds.

...but it is true. He keeps coming and coming and coming....

and the HEALING.

Do. Not. Get. Me. Started.

I go to bed joyful and I wake up joyful....and here is the further crazy part....The STRESS is ALL still HERE! I still am overwhelmed, too much to do, too little of me to go around, demands, etc. BUT in the midst of all of it, I just continue to hear his voice. I mean I. HEAR. His. Voice.

Don't worry...I'm good....Fine to talk amongst yourselves for a bit....

My friend Sherri and I were at Catalyst week before last, and the two of us needed to lose sleep like we needed holes in our head, but what did we do....stay up most of the nights the entire time talking and sharing and DOING LIFE TOGETHER because we needed to share and connect and explore with someone else all that God was doing (or not doing) in our lives....and between that time with her and the lessons at Catalyst and dinner with our dear friend Ines (who we met via Haiti) who let me just be clear breathes JOY...I mean literally BREATHES JOY.....my joy tank must have somehow multiplied or something (I am really not quite sure what) because I cannot stop feeling the JOY even in the CRAPPINESS of a day or moment....So I ask you....what do you call THIS????

Jesus.....Awww...There YOU are.

In the story of Noah, he sends out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. This happened three times...the first time nothing, the second time an olive leaf, and the third time the dove did not return.

What in the world does this story have to do with me today?

God is faithful.

I have persevered.

God is still faithful.

If I could, would I go back to me that day in December 2011 reading Beautiful Outlaw and say, "I know you think this is BIG, but guess what...it is BIGGER. It is time to MOVE. Literally and figuratively. This is a sign. God wants your heart. You are about to enter a new season. This season is going to be BRUTAL. You are going to walk away from the career you have known since 1998. You are going to have your heart broken. You are going to lose MORE family. You are going to start a company with a stranger doing something you know NOTHING about. You are going to move four times. You are going to sell or give away most of your possessions. You are going to go to Haiti FIVE times in two years. You are going to purge and touch and re-distribute and remember every single "treasure" you have ever possessed/bought/been given. You are going to lose old friends you love. You are going to make new friends you love. You are going to learn about "tribe" and what that can really mean for your heart. You are going to teach and counsel and love. You are going to FAIL. You are going to RISE. You are going to feel pain and loss and grief and heartbreak and shame. You are going to find restoration in relationships. You are going to forgive. You are going to be forgiven. You are going to READ and WRITE and SPEAK....and it is going to leave you RAW and VULNERABLE....yet you are going to feel more ALIVE than you have ever felt. You are going to lose all comfort and faith in your abilities around income and money, and then there will be restoration....even there except restoration looks VERY different than before because now the neediness and dependency and striving is gone. There is going to be copious amounts of joy; such that you are going to FEEL everything and yet still you will be joyful. Oh...and God. Well God is going to come for you again and again....you are going to battle with him like a lioness throughout the bulk of the process....and he is going to keep coming for you anyway...because He. Loves. You.

Yeah....I am not sure that if I had known what would transpire over the next four years on that snowy day in December 2011 when I held that book that literally helped me fall in love with Jesus all over again, directed me back to the Bible I had used and read but not PASSIONATELY loved in years and known that one month later God would quite literally come for me by WRECKING my life in all the ways that mattered most at that time and keep unraveling it for this "season"....well, I might have done something altogether....different. I am quite sure though that I would not have believed it...for I was pretty confident I had it all together and knew what I was doing and was exactly where I was supposed to be....

Awww...self-delusion. Isn't it grand.

The truth is that in December 2011 I fell in love with Jesus and then he proceeded to let my life unravel, and yet I continued falling more and more in love with him (because I am crazy that way)....and today I was reminded of that beautiful memory when I first realized I was truly in love with him (October 2013) and yet even then he kept unraveling my life....and here I sit almost a full two and four years later (respectively) grateful to him for every single part of the journey.

In my twenties I wrote a song with a line in it "sometimes he has to break us to build us up again" and yes is was a Christian song....and yes it was about God....and yes I have always been a bit "dramatic" about...well....everything. What I didn't realize in my twenties (it would take 20 more years) was that I was the one who needed to be broken....and not in the ways I thought at the time.

People think I am nuts about this #threeyearpurgefest but the truth is that only here at the end of it is it even make sense to me...and I am the one doing it. Sometimes God has to take us through everything (sometimes literally) like touchstones (I have written about that before...CLICK HERE) to remind us of where we have been...show us where we are going....sometimes just to show us that something that has had "a hold of us" for forever (it seems) no longer does....let that sink in...I had to....;)

I see the end of this season...and not just because the dates are on a calendar, but because I truly see God preparing to turn the page for me. He is also sending in reinforcements to encourage me on because he recognizes how tired I am....how often in a day I simply want to give up...how my back hurts...how there are moments if I had a can of kerosene, a lighter, and no fear of prison...I would torch everything I possess....how he sends people to me who need and want what I have got and he whispers...GIVE it to them. Give. It. Away.

Ugh. That last one hurt.

*Dang It*

That last line was personal and he knew it and now I know it....God you are a jokester. ;)

*Tears*

The truth is that somewhere inside of me that December (2011) I did know....my heart knew before the rest of me that it was tired and ready for something different....my heart needed more...some people have mid-life crises when they turn 40; I had a heart crisis. I had treated (and/or allowed) my heart (to be treated) like crap for 40 years while God waited for me to get tired of it. He waited patiently for 40 long years; it wasn't his first time waiting that long. ;) I almost made him wait 41. I can be a stubborn douche (it is okay to laugh...just being honest here).

Why do we make him wait? Why did I?

Next year, in March (2016), I am going to a conference in Colorado to hear John Eldredge teach. If I have the opportunity to speak with him, I am going to take it...and once again...I will probably cry as I simply say, "Thank you. Thank you for being a voice in the noise and the wilderness reminding me of who Jesus was and is....and reminding me of who I was meant to be." I will also probably tell him that in heaven when I finally hear God's voice, I am going to be a little surprised if it doesn't sound just a wee bit like him (John E.) because...ya know. ;) BUT...but what I hope I have the simple opportunity to tell him (briefly) is my own story of restoration...and how it took four years to crash, burn, restore, crash and burn a few more times, and restore again and again....but that while restoration is a lifelong journey, I have successfully cleared THAT wilderness I was knee-deep in when he and I spoke in 2013....and thank you him for allowing God to use him as one of my many guides through it.

...and while I am thinking about that, let me say this to anyone reading this....Thank YOU. I never, ever, ever intended to peel myself like a grape to anybody and everybody who clicked on this website/blog. I would have NEVER EVER said yes to that willingly and knowingly, but somewhere along this journey being raw and transparent here just became....well, it became okay. I became okay with it. God said share here...this...here, and I said, "Yes Sir." Obedience comes in many forms.

Awww....There you are Jesus...in the growth, in the sadness, in the real life at every turn, in the healing, and in the JOY. I see you. I know you. Even better...I know you see me, and I know (without a shadow of a doubt) that you KNOW me. This whole walking through the (fields of) life thing we are doing is the sweetest gift I have ever known, and I am on my knees...face to the ground....arms outstretched grateful to you for wrestling hell for my heart. I love you Jesus.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." - Hebrews 12: 1-3

Amen. Again and AGAIN...Amen.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Only Hope



How many times I have sat down to write in the past several days and weeks and just....STOP.

I can't even.

My can't even...can't even.

I am not dry. I am simply...overwhelmed. By. My. Own. Thoughts.

Allow me a digression.

I have lost my favorite turquoise earrings. This isn't the first time I have lost them...I lost one in my original set causing me to order a completely new set giving me three....just in case this happened again. And it did. Only this time, I have lost a whole set, leaving me with one, and the company no longer sells them...and I have looked EVERYWHERE....and so I was sitting here tonight accepting defeat.

They are GONE.

Suddenly I started laughing....God sometimes does some purging for us. :) ;)

Why would God want to purge a pair of earrings for me? Well....I can think of a few lessons in there for me...

....like the fact that I have hit a purging wall...AGAIN...and need the motivation once again that this is all just STUFF...including some of my favorite things...which are still just STUFF.

....like the fact that how much time have I spent in the last several days looking for a pair of earrings? Earrings. #forthelove  So...may I once again reference the last point...just STUFF.

....like the fact that I bought those earrings from a chain...and although beautiful....I now have access to beautiful artisans whom if I provided a photo would make me an even more beautiful and unique pair...with their hands...and I would be giving my money to someone who is providing creativity and jobs for people.

...did I mention they are earrings.

Ugh.

*Deep Sigh*

I heard this song at Catalyst last week called Only Hope. Jon Foreman actually performed it live...him (on guitar) and a cellist, and although I had heard it before (and it was on my iPhone (music)), it was as if I was hearing it for the very first time. It makes me wonder....but first let me share the words...

Only Hope by Jon Foreman
 
There's a song that's inside of my soul
It's the one that I've tried to write over and over again
I'm awake in the infinite cold
But You sing to me over and over and over again
So I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray to be only Yours
I pray to be only Yours
I know now You're my only hope
Sing to me of the song of the stars
Of Your galaxy dancing and laughing and laughing again
When it feels like my dreams are so far
Sing to me of the plans that You have for me over again
And I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray to be only Yours
I pray to be only Yours
I know now You're my only hope
I give You my destiny, I'm giving You all of me
I want Your symphony singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs I'm giving it back
So I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray to be only Yours
I pray to be only Yours, I pray to be only Yours
I know now You're my only hope
 
Here is also a LINK to a video of Only Hope performed by Jon Foreman (disclaimer...not the one from Catalyst last week).

I wish I had a nickel for the number of times since January 2012 that I have crawled in bed and lifted my hands to the heavens and prayed to God with all that I have...to just take it all. Every single last bit of it. Most of those times, I was referring to my heart, lets be clear. So...I am slightly amused at how I sit here nearly four years later, and after lots of ups and downs, spiritual battles, personal battles, professional battles...I find myself just literally giving it (as in the physical) all away because suddenly even the things that were priceless to me just a few years ago have zero meaning or value to me. Let me tell you that there are no words to explain that feeling. None.

My friend Sherri sent me a text this morning with a photo and a note...."read the whole section on Matthew..."....and the photo she sent me is below...


..."but for Matthew there was no turning back."

I told Sherri last week at Catalyst that there were parts of this three year purge that felt like I was closing a door on ever going back to a job, career, town, position, house, building, lifestyle, relationships, etc. So of course she reads this last night and sends it to me....because WOW.

I don't think my story or journey this past 3-4 years is for everybody. Why? Because most people out there are not as stubborn as me...listen better...don't need Thor's hammer to come down on their head....but I digress...

I do think there is a lot to learn from our personal journeys...and from other's. I know that I have gained a lot of strength learning from others this past several years. It has been a refuge in the storm to know that I am not alone in the questions, the wilderness, the season of searching for...more. That said, for as much as I have shared my journey this past several years, there are parts of my story that I have not written...well, written...here. I am not sure if that is going to change or not, but I am thrilled that for the first time in my 44 years, I am not scared to share my story...the good and the bad....to feel my heart lighten at the thought is nearly miraculous, but you would have to be in my skin to fully understand that. I get it.

I have placed my hope, and often my only hope, in everything and in everyone...including myself...for the majority of my life. It is breathtaking to feel that truly changing...not simply the words of a woman searching, but the words of a woman found. A woman who knows to whom she belongs...and that everything outside of that single fact is well...just details.

A woman found.

*Tears*

In Matthew 9, the Pharisees question Jesus on why he eats with "tax collectors and sinners" to which he replies, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

..."but go and learn what this means"....

"I desire mercy, not sacrifice."

I feel like I have been on the journey to learn what it means...mercy vs. sacrifice....and not all days, and maybe not tomorrow...but tonight, I feel closer to understanding....and the truth is that mercy starts with the person in the mirror...and whatever sacrifices I now find myself making do not feel like sacrifices AT ALL as they are made from a heart that longs for a relationship with Jesus that makes him my one and only hope. That feels fundamentally different than any relationship he and I have had previously....and feels like HEALTH personified as I trust in a God that loves me unconditionally above everything and everyone else in my life.

There are some shifts coming....I can feel it.

There are purging moments ahead of me that are going to break my heart. There are choices to be made. Conversations to be had with old friends. Corners to be turned. Yokes to be dropped from my shoulders. I have such peace about it though...and my eyes are full of tears...but not of sadness, of joy. Pure unadulterated joy.

I have these littles watching me (though they are hardly littles anymore), and I stood at Catalyst last week with my arms wide open (literally) and after God, I thought of them...what have I taught them, what am I teaching them, what are the lessons....and more than anything else, above lessons on loving, forgiveness, entrepreneurship, photography, Haiti, football, Monopoly, etc., I pray that I am teaching them that you can fall down, crawl through the wilderness....on your hands and knees...be forgiven, and learn to walk again...with God....side-by-side....again. Again. Knowing too that he never left their side. Ever. I pray that they learn to give mercy freely as they need/will need mercy. I pray that they will learn that sacrifice can come from a willing heart that is head over heels in love with Jesus. I pray that they learn that whatever plans this world has for them, God's plans are better...more better (inside joke).

God, thank you. You have loved me SO well. "...at the top of my lungs I am giving it back..."

"Follow me, he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him." No questions. No discussion.

Lord, I pray for obedience in my heart like Matthew.

You are my only hope.

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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 5



I am using an October Blogging Challenge to get back in the habit of writing daily. It is HARD. I have a lot of writing assignments coming up so I need to step up my "A" game. Plus, lets be honest...I need to write like I need to breathe; it is therapeutic. Truly.

Today I am feverishly working to get my office in order as I head out to Catalyst tomorrow. I can hardly believe it. Last year was my first Catalyst experience, and I highly recommend reading my entries around then...crazy, life-changing stuff. Check it out HERE.

So...when you are going to be gone this long, it is a matter of what MUST be done today and what can wait a WEEK. Grief. Some tough calls happening, but what can I say. #priorities

My business partner has some RIDICULSOULY challenging things happening in his personal life and today I offered to cancel my trip, and his face..."No WAY!" he quickly replied, "You need this!"

....and yes I do.

Catalyst is the best leadership, entrepreneurship, Jesus-centered, beautifully restorative conference I have ever attended, and I am over the moon to get to go back this year.

...and I need it.

Did I say that already?

I am tired. My nerves are frayed. I am overwhelmed. I am torn. I am deeply in need of recalibration.

What are you in need of today? When you get really quiet, what can you hear your soul whisper to you that it needs?

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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day Four

Some days I have these crazy thoughts like what if I believe God is 1000% real, the Bible is 1000% true, and maybe as far as I believe God has already radically shifted my life....He is thinking lets go a little bit...more.

I am going to let this hang out here today....

Anybody else???

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