Saturday, September 30, 2017

Build My Life

Lord, build my life.

I cannot get the lyrics of the song "Build My Life" out of my head...

Let me be clear. I just went up the escalator at the DFW Airport where I am scheduled to catch a flight home to Little Rock, and I caught my reflection in the glass across the way, and I DID. NOT. RECOGNIZE. MYSELF.

At. All.

God continues to rebuild my life from the inside out....the outside in....and in the steps, paths, roads that lie ahead.

I don't know myself.

I don't know my old self anymore, but I also don't really know this new self.....but I like her. I like her very much.

I like the way she jumps on planes.

I like the way she jumps into uncomfortable and unknown situations.

I like the way she laughs with (and a little at...) her friend, like a hyena in a hotel room in the wee hours, at the most RIDICULOUS thing and on the tail-end of an intense two day conference.

I like the way she doesn't sweat/panic (as much) when she sees a text or email from the office.

I like the way she doesn't respond immediately to messages as if the world ends if she doesn't get right back with someone in a split second.

I like the way she dresses.

I like the way she dresses for the airport (oh how I wish you could see me right now).

I like the way she can laugh at herself and share publically her TSA humiliations.

I like the way she talks about the future with open hands, a shoulder shrug, and a "God has it."

I like the way she is mobile with nothing but a cell phone, I.D., and a credit card. {oh and a tissue...because #noseissues}

I like the way she owns her singleness, her past sin and shame, and talks about the parts her, Jesus, and the enemy all played in the past that landed her here...now.

I like the fact that her mani/pedi game is imperfect and she doesn't care.

I like that she has learned (and continues to learn) that not every call/text/email is an emergency that she is solely responsible to address/solve.

I like that she buys a Texas t-shirt because her friend asked her what she is going to do when she moves there, and she wants to surprise her with a text message with a photo of her in the t-shirt saying....I'm there. Wherever you go, I go. You don't lose me.

I like that she keeps trying to be a better friend, sister, aunt, leader....and yet confesses daily that she falls short while picking herself up the floor to try again.

I like that she sits in a bar in an airport, in the middle of the afternoon, so she can charge her phone, write in peace, and sit in comfy chairs. Also, 3 p.m. in an airport bar shows you a side of life that is #priceless and beautiful.

I like that airports still leave her misty-eyed because this is a slice of heaven here. All of these people, from all corners of the earth, traveling for family or friends or missions or work or just because.

I have spent oodles and gobs of time and energy this past 5-7 years peeling myself back like a grape so as to inspect every single thing about myself and my life. I have let others do it to me. Hell, I paid (paying) someone to do it. I have listened to ALL the criticism that has been launched at me for everything from how I live my life to how I dress, wear my hair, do my nails, where I go/don't go, old relationships, how I lead, how I don't lead....and on and on.

Oddly enough, most of that criticism came from a fearful little girl stuck inside of her.

That little girl has grown up. She is older, wiser, and more loving....to herself.

Here is the deal....you cannot really love others well until you learn how to love yourself well. Not selfishly, well.

I think those lessons are really starting to take hold.

...and here is another thing...

Once you let go of the fear about who and what you are, the future feels...

LIKE A DEEP BREATH FROM YOUR VERY SOUL

...and you exhale, smile from somewhere deep you haven't explored yet, and you laugh.

Lord, build my life.

My future is still scary and uncertain and risky, but I simply do not care...I will not be worried about it....God has it and me....and I like the girl who looked back at me on the escalator today. I like where God is taking her, and I don't even know where that is yet.....

Imagine. That.

Happy Saturday from Gate D in Dallas.....



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Rhythm of Grace in Growth

I thought I was doing pretty well...
 
Then this morning happened....and then counseling this afternoon. Suddenly in a puddle of tears with a quivering lip, I started sobbing quietly.
 
When your counselor says, "What just happened there?" and you nonchalantly say, "What?" and she keeps digging. Good. Grief. When am I going to learn? When?
 
I had gotten defensive with my counselor.
 
"Back up the bus girl," I thought to myself trying to pull back whatever I had said or done that had alerted her something was wrong. It was too late.
 
Sh*t.
 
Right before counseling, my business partner had been a douche which set off a shame trigger which left me hyperventilating all the way to my counseling session, but as bad as that was on its own - the real zinger was that when my counselor questioned my language toward myself, I responded with, "That is the third time you have pointed that out." #defensivemuch
 
Yup I am.
 
The last several weeks have been full of interaction after interaction where I don't feel seen or heard or my feelings respected. The old Heather would have lined it all out and 'splained how the cow ate the cabbage to the offender. New Heather is wrapped up trying to process whatever the interaction triggered as I try to hide my shattered heart or broken ego. For a recovering hard ass, this leads to a pretty hot mess emotionally.
 
Combine all of that with me checking off my straggling list like a beast the past two weeks, and I am left pretty raw in this new normal of what do I do without all of these old, ill-fitting yokes on me? There is fear in freedom; that is why we like chains (though we all deny it because who wants to admit THAT?!?!?).
 
Encouragement from my friend Lesley - Just In Time
 
I think the hardest thing to do is accept ourselves when we change...even for the better.
 
The second hardest thing to do is accept ourselves as others AWKWARDLY and PAINFULLY adjust to our change....even when we and they know the change is for the better.
 
My business partner apologized when I got back, and I accepted. I also had to firm up some boundaries with him as awkward as it still makes me to use my words about them. We are learning/growing. I am proud of us.
 
I am learning to give myself permission to use my voice with others in new ways. Telling them when they hurt me, when they break a boundary, etc. I feel like everyone around me is having to re-learn Heather. I hate it for them and me, but these are necessary lessons. New Heather is happier....and really doing better (as hard as that is to acknowledge after today).
 
This morning I was reading Joshua and I got to 3:8 and read "'When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.'" How had I missed that part before...'stand still'? I was undone.
 
So I though....maybe the problem isn't that I can't get all of this right as much as I simply suck at standing still. What is happening in my life right now isn't going to unfold due to my hustle (at getting better or being better), it is going to unfold due to my stillness in and with God. I need to have faith that God is doing a good and mighty work EVEN when I am not doing a thing. That was a pretty deep thought this morning before 5 a.m., but over 10 hours later plus a counseling session - I get it.

"Heather, take the next first step and then stand still....THERE. Let your toes feel the dirt beneath them. Stay steady. I will tell you where to go next. Wait. On. Me." - Love, God.

Okay....

Where is that dang monkey of mine??? LOL

I hope you will give yourself permission to be okay - and then not okay - and then okay again. This is the rhythm of grace in the growth, and it is okay too. Just like me and you.



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Saying Good-bye To Museums and Altars

Yesterday I wrote a post on where I am at as it pertains to my "straggling list" and to be honest, I didn't see myself writing on it, or in general, again anytime soon.
 
As I sat in the floor of my guest bedroom opening box/tub, one after another, literally FEELING my way through them, I thought isn't it strange how we change.
 
Five years ago, I would say that I had a pretty enviable book collection. One that had been cultivated and added to with care over the years. In some ways my collection represented my heart, trying to recapture the past while building for a future, and numb to my present. During the my #threeyearpurgefest I left my books for last and was surprised by how many I gifted to friends and family or simply gave away. At the time, I was simply trying to finish well the purge; I had to put aside the fact that I had one pretty large asset left to sell and empty.
 
When I sold my cabin and land last year, my niece packed up my books. In hindsight, that was a pretty gnarly task. The books filled TUBS upon tubs. When I bought, designed, and built that home, I had anticipated it to not only be my singular future home (down the road) and office, but ground zero for all of my future treasures. In some ways, I see now that I was building it to be a museum.
 
I just finished going through the last of it, and I now have ten more boxes (in addition to some I already had) to gift to others/ship out, another couple of boxes of donations, and a bag of garbage.
 
You know what else I have???
 
Closure. A sense of self-awareness. Healing.
 
I wish I could go back and un-live some stuff. I sure wish I had some money I invested back. I wish I had not lived in denial or the past for so long. I really wish my brokenness hadn't hurt so many people. I wish a lot of things, but....
 
But, the truth is that I don't live there anymore. I don't live in the past...not of who I was then or the pain I operated out of...that is not me anymore.
 
The funny thing is that it took a lot of packed up books to show me that who I am TODAY is the person who's skin I am living in, and this girl isn't into museums of my past or building altars to my future. I am swimming in the present of who and where I am today, and that is plenty for me. I am satisfied with the present.
 
Now this doesn't mean I don't dream or plan. I do. Oh do I.
 
Scarcity.
 
I wrote a lot about it during the purge; I learned a lot about how I operated from it and why. Scarcity touched on this part too....this need I had to restore what was lost and store up for the future. Those are lies the enemy sold me. That I didn't have enough. That I could get what was lost back. That I couldn't trust God. That I had to depend on myself. That I had to keep hustling and storing up or I would be left with nothing - nowhere to live, nothing to eat, and no one to take care of me. It was all on me. A life of abandonment and poverty (at times) sank those wounds deep into a child, and they took root. Every single part of me was operating from them. Every asset I acquired. Every relationship I had - friend or family, work or personal, alive or dead. Every job I took. Everything rooted in a scarcity mentality.
 
I have often said privately, that the last five years have felt a lot like a girl finding herself. Who am I really? What do I love to read? What do I love to eat? What do I like to drink? What do I like to do in my spare time? Oh and the 2016 epiphany - at what pace was I built to live my life (before brokenness)?
 
You combine all of that with a lot of growing up emotionally - #counseling - that is a lot of change for anybody, but you know what - I wouldn't change a thing. It all brought me to here.
 
Here.
 
I had a beautiful book collection, and I still do. It is more than half of what it once was though, and for that I am genuinely glad. Some people over the next few days will start receiving packages of books. Books I once read and loved. Books I have never read, simply perused. Books I have ADORED reading again and again. All amazing books, yet I no longer need them. My home is not a museum or an altar. It is simply a home. A place to rest. A place to study. A place to eat. A place to share. A place to be alone.
 
Just. A. Home.
 
I get asked a lot how in the world I downsized so much AND how can I live such a "small" life (i.e., space) now.
 
The real question is how did I survive so much for so long without drowning in so much STUFF.
 
The truth is that similar to Jonah, I got swallowed by a big fish, and one day God told the fish to vomit me up. We don't have a nice clean ending to the Jonah story in the Bible. I like to think that Jonah took about five years getting pummeled with the lessons and one day he realized what a jerk he had been and all of God's lessons took hold in new ways and he started operating from God's desires which had been placed in his own heart and story. That is taking a lot of liberty with the story, not to mention the ending, but the bottom line is that the Bible is full of slow learners - so I am pretty sure I am in good company.
 
Fort Morgan, Alabama // August 2017
 
I see you God. I see you.
 
I love you.
 
Thank you.
 
//
 
Scriptures Speaking To Me //
 
"Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert." // Isaiah 43:19
 
And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." // Revelation 21:5
 
Books //
 
All Things New by John Eldredge can be pre-ordered at http://allthingsnew.com/ with special bonuses available for pre-ordering. I am part of a team that had the honor of reading an advance copy. This book will give you HOPE in a world that seems to work daily at stripping that away from each of us, and it will point you to the promises of God.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

When The Only Way Is Through

 I am addicted to the looking back and it is keeping me from moving forward.
 
I wrote those words on January 2, 2017 of this year HERE, and I went back this evening and read them, in full. If you are interested and have the time, I highly recommend doing a search of my blog by typing "straggling list" in the search engine in the upper left-hand corner, and read the handful that come up. January (and even one in April) was rich with words from God as I wrestled out this concept about a straggling list....okay, my straggling list. 
 
I sat it down though.
 
I sat that list down HARD.
 
Then my life got insane, and first I was working hard to hold on....and then to let go....and then I was enjoying some peace...and there was Chicago and Nashville and Colorado and Haiti and Kentucky.......and in each and every place I could hear God. He was SO clear, but I would get home and the list - not the actual list but the items on it - were literally staring me in the face. When you downsize from three homes to a 900 square foot one - ummm....you SEE everything.
 
Then the beach happened....I think it was the week leading up to the beach that was the catalyst, but either way God and I did some heavy lifting together, which looks a lot like letting go, and by the end of my week there I was in motion in a new way.
 
Yet.
 
That dang straggling list.
 
Then last weekend I had an epiphany, no more waiting. I had my 'signs and wonders,' my actual audible words, the whispers, the peace, the nervousness. God could not be more clear with me if he had quite literally came down in the form of a burning bush.
 
It was time.
 
This week became a blur. I was having the scary calls, sending the unsure emails, saying the words. I was slamming open the doors God was showing me with an "I'm in." - and I am. In fact in. ALL. The. Way.
 
Yet the straggling list isn't just about the doors that are opening, but the doors that are needing to be shut. Today, I finally started addressing those.
 
I cannot GO forward until I let go completely of the past. For the most part I have done that well. There are doors though that once you shut, not even a crowbar can open them. I know about these kind of doors. I'm no first-timer, so my reluctance comes more from experience than fear. I want to be sure. I need to be sure. Am. I. Ready. for that final good-bye?
 
I. Am.
 
When you do a purge that lasts three years and downsizes you from three homes to one, two cars to one, the stuff to fill three homes to just enough to fill 900 square feet - no one can accuse you of being a slacker. Yet I am, there were things that came up during that three years that I pushed aside. I literally could not deal with them. My final home sold nine months after the purge "officially" ended and lets just say there was fun there. Good. Times. So, I was left with a few boxes that felt like kryptonite for my heart. It wasn't that I was even sure what exactly was in them, I just knew that breaking them open could undo me. So I shoved them in a corner, and I forced myself to walk by them every single day for just shy of a year.
 
I. Am. An. Idiot.
 
...or a masochist.
 
or a little of both.
 
In my last counseling session, my counselor broached the subject of the straggling list right after I shared all of my peace and action from the beach trip....and I could have melted into the floor. Why did she have to throw a wet blanket on my mojo like that?!?!?
 
....because she knows that I can't move forward, really GO, until I let go of all those things that keep me looking back over my shoulder like Lot's wife.
 
A friend of mine sent me a prayer this morning after I sent a request for prayer to my C7 tribe. Click HERE to read - St. Patrick's Breastplate - also, let me plug Ransomed Heart Ministries' website and app as they have the most beautiful collection of prayers that you can listen to audibly, read, print, etc. Just powerful stuff for both those that have a strong prayer life and those that struggle in this area. Please check it out; I promise you will love it.
 
I digress.
 
The prayer was perfect as it mirrored my heart (here is a snippet) -
 
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
 
How beautiful is that?!?!
 
The fact of the matter is that sometimes you simply have to go THROUGH something; there is no magic pill or easy button. Just you, the sh*tty task, your toolbox full of ways to process said task, and most importantly God. The best thing in my life is my Heavenly Father. He simply loves me well, he loves me best.
 
It seems like I have been working through stuff for forever....and lets be clear, five years is a very long time. I am growing though. I am learning. I am living. I am getting a little better every day. Soon I will have these last few items behind me. Free at last. Like a prisoner who has had the prison gates thrown up and yet stays huddled in their cell, I have needed time to trust again - myself and others, even God. I have needed time to learn the lessons - like this one - which is that some of these last few chains - are ones I put on myself - all by myself.
 
Time to let go.
 
God is forming me into something new.
 
Papillon Marketplace, Haiti // God says, I am the potter and you are the clay.
 
Shop Papillon Marketplace :https://papillonmarketplace.com/
 
Go to Papillon's website to see all of the beautiful work their artisans make with their own hands. Purchases from Papillon are helping to keep Haitian families together. #orphanprevention
 
Music:
 
Music is my love language, and I don't know how God does it, but he sends me music (new and old) just when I need it. Today I heard Tenth Avenue North's "Control (Somehow You Want Me)" for the first time and nearly fell out. Followed by Christy Nockels "Who Can Compare" which caused me to spontaneously go into full worship before God because that song is quite possibly the best worship song ever written.
 
Take a listen. Good stuff.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Beauty In Leaning Into My Anxiety

I have anxiety.

That sentence alone takes more courage to write than I am comfortable admitting....which is to say I don't like that I have anxiety, and I like even less admitting that I do. So...there is that.

Anxiety was something other people had....right up until the moment my counselor used the word in a session with me....to describe what was happening to me. Me?! Me.

I have mentioned it a tad here and there, more alluding to it than owning it. You might say that I looked at it as something else in my life to be managed. Some days, like anything else, I was winning the battle, and others....not so much.

My coping mechanisms for my anxiety are as varied and awkward as I am. Funny, huh?!

There is the stuffed monkey I occasionally have to sleep with....awkward.

There are the ice cold washcloths that I have to apply to my chest, and if the attack is bad....my entire body.

There are the numbing mechanisms that range from a glass of wine, a glass of scotch, a cigar, a bacon double cheeseburger, a cherry sprite with light ice from Sonic, a M&M blast no whip from Sonic, Popeye's fried chicken, or just a fried food smorgasbord.

I have spent the past year and a half adapting healthy "coping" mechanisms and limiting or wiping out my "numbing" ones. I have learned a lot about my body, my mind, and I have tried to be open that I am working to re-learn what is "comfort" and what is "numbing" - and ALL of it makes me feel like a big loser because can't I just be normal.

*insert eye roll*

I can't. Neither can you. There are crosses we all have to bear, and this is one of mine. The truth is I have had functioning anxiety probably since I was eight years old. That too is hard to admit. The truth is that in the brokenness of my life back then, anxiety manifested, and coping mechanisms were born, and some of them helped to save my life....and others led to bad habits that I am now alerted to in my 40s and working to unwind as quickly and in the most healthy manner available to me.

Here is why I am writing this....

The enemy is coming at me now, TODAY, in new fresh ways that it has taken more than a hot minute for me to catch on to. So today I am laying down a fresh line in the sand RIGHT in the throes of what can only be described as an ongoing anxiety attack that is picking up steam by the day. I am actually typing right now even as my chest is exploding and my mind is ON FIRE. I am in the middle of an act of defiance. This is me giving the enemy the bird. So to speak.

This morning I watched Sarah Wilson talking about her new book "First, We Make The Beast Beautiful" and fell out in the floor. First, let me say, I am not sure how I even got to You Tube and the video. I was on her site looking at some travel photos because we all know that I have the world's worst case of wanderlust, and I follow her because she travels and blogs and takes amazing photos. She is also known for quitting sugar, but you know I don't follow her for that - don't even play. See above paragraph regarding my numbing mechanisms. Anyway, I watch her video and find a couple of snippets from the book, and I just am tripping out. Let's be honest. Tripping. Out.

Then for some reason, I go and find this book I have been reading entitled "A Theology of the Ordinary" by Julie Canlis which I started last weekend and for whatever reason did not finish EVEN though I talked about it ALL weekend. It is a great, fast read, and I highly recommend. Check out Amazon to snag a copy.

Anyway, suddenly the conversations I have been having with "my people" (and they all know who they are) since January of this year (and really for a LOT longer than that) just started falling into place.

I have been doing this ALL wrong.

The writing.

The counseling.

The creativeness.

The consulting.

The work.

The storytelling.

The....fill-in-the-blank.

Somewhere along the line my anxiety (or the enemy - you determine for yourself) had convinced me that while all of this STUFF coming at me like a tsunami was of God, I had to somehow corral it, guide it, get fixed (i.e., counseling) for it, manage it, run it....oh and fix myself too don't forget....because the eyes were on me, or they would be. It was about me.

Jesus Wept. (here is looking at you Jon)

I am not sure how I got that all distorted and jacked up, but I did because as soon as I got done with church (great lesson out of Thessalonians) - I sat down and sent the most long-winded dissertation to two friends that I knew would stop me if what I had "heard" was too far gone. Then, because something in me said, "Don't wait one minute longer." I didn't wait for their reply - I started lining up and out what was going to be needed to launch some of this creative hot mess that has been bubbling for so very long.

ALL the while, my anxiety rumbles on. I took a hot bath....resisted the urge to go buy out Popeye's and prayed.....and it would not let up. I got out and checked my messages knowing it was too soon for a reply....I mean one of them is in France.... #forthelove ....but it wasn't. Both of them...BOTH had replied...."Keep Going" and then I posted on my writing page. If I am going to be held accountable - that group is going to do it. Ten seconds, "the text" - if you don't have a Lesley in your life, you are missing out. I could see her silly grin through the text. She knew.

So here I am in the middle of an anxiety attack that is NOT letting up, and I am crying joyful tears - writing ALL the hard words - saying just enough that I am now accountable and not too much to ruin the surprises that will be unfolding. AND I am going to be okay. Why? Because God has me...he has my heart.

*as I wrote that I just got a text message from someone who saw a heart in a tree and sent it to me*

*another text from a friend starting counseling soon; first appointment made*

I hear you God. You love them. You love me.

Breathe pretty girl.

We are all out here living out our stories, and I for one think the beauty of life is in the sharing of those stories because God is ALL in them. Every wink to every laugh to every anxiety attack. He is in the icky sticky, the messy, the beauty, the loss, and the growth.

I am done fighting this anxiety. The fight is a distraction from the cause which is new creative growth. I am done fighting against what God is putting inside of me. I am opening the floodgates come what may.
 
"The Spirit gives us gifts to add to the body of Christ, so that the whole body can be on its mission together (Eph 4:12, Rom 12:4)." {from A Theology of the Ordinary}

On mission together.

I am leaning into that promise which results in me leaning into my anxiety.

How about that?
 
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. // Genesis 50:20

I have always admired Joseph faithful perseverance, but this verse is a reminder to me that God has the final say over my life, my circumstances, and yes....even the gifts he has put inside of me.

So here is to embracing what the world says we need to fix about ourselves and letting God use it for whatever his will dictates.

I am leaning into him.

It is time for the enemy to take a seat.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Writing. An Offering.

Hello.
 
I think this is how you start a blog post when it has been two months since you publicly shared....Here.
 
I have missed this...yet THIS seems to terrify me these days. Do I share EVERYTHING (or close to it) that is rumbling around in my heart, my brain, my soul? Do I work to keep things private, tucked close?....read that as safe. So, instead I have done nothing. Micro-blogging here and there...on Instagram and my Facebook writing page. Mainly I have been writing privately - journals, notebooks, my computer, and even in notes on my phone (imagine typing over a thousand words in one single note?! I. Did. That. There is something different though about writing here...in this sacred space where long ago I started writing.....just because...for me.
 
Who knew?
 
So here I am.
 
These days I am equally terrified and joyful of the steps ahead of me, but this living in the present is not for the faint of heart. At least not like this.....healthy.
 
Healthy. Who knew I would ever use that word to describe myself. I am though. Truly. I am as healthy as I have ever been, and no one is more truly surprised than me. Healthy has its own troubles though....as I am learning. I am struggling through those as artfully as I did unhealthy, which is to say that I am ALL the awkward and like a giraffe fresh from the womb wondering what in the world these four sticks are underneath me.
 
*deep breath*
 
The truth of the matter, and I didn't realize it until I left counseling, drove to my favorite park, spit out a little micro blog post on Instagram, and then took a breath. It was if just peeling it back a little wasn't enough today. So I started a list of ALL the things we had discussed in counseling....was something there unsettling me...still?
 
Then I started writing....
 
"....if I am honest -
 
I don't want to do anything. I am tired - literally. And living on purpose, healthy, and intentional in all ways is exhausting.
 
When can I sleep without a giant to do list over my shoulders?"
 
 
...and now we are getting somewhere....the heart of the matter.
 
....and here is the rest of it.
 
I am doing too much.
 
....and if you are really honest....so are you.
 
Why are we doing too much? I don't know EXACTLY as I am sure it is a little different for everybody, but I started reading this little quick read this weekend called "A Theology of the Ordinary" by Julie Canlis, and it is freaking. me. out. in all of the best ways.
 
There is a part I read aloud to a friend this weekend....in talking about Moses post the big Red Sea moment it reads....
 
"Moses must have been fairly disappointed upon realizing that, after leading a people out of Egypt, his work had only just begun."
 
{I want to pause and let that sentence sink in....}
 
"For four hundred years they had been steeped in the cosmology of the Egyptian gods and goddesses. Without doubt they were God's people - but which story would seem to reflect reality? the one about humans being made in God's image? or the one they were living - that humans were created by the gods as slaves?
 
{Whoa.}
 
"So Moses was faced with a monumental task: not only to free the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh, but from Pharaoh's story. His task was to re-story* their understanding of who they were, who God was, and what the world was meant to be."
 
{*emphasis added by me.}
 
Pick. Me. Up. Off. The. Floor.
 
Where had I heard that before? I went searching. Of course a favorite author of mine, Mary DeMuth, has written about it....and after reading through her new website, I knew she was ahead of me on this path learning about the power of re-story, but I digress.....
 
So....I am relating with Moses in new ways....both on a professional level as I see a lot of this in my work, and most certainly in my private life as I am beginning to realize I am having to re-learn who I am anew....who am I healthy? so to speak....
 
So who am I? Who are you?
 
Well....sometimes God takes us to our knees, then he strips us down to the foundation and the studs....and then - and sometimes only then - does he begin to grow us back up. What that looks like for each of us is COMPLETELY different. Our God is nothing if not personal in how he relates to us.
 
So here I am being completely honest....God took me to my knees, we definitely found the foundation and the studs, and he has even started growing me back up....but there....well, I guess just like the Israelites, I am weak, and I have unfinished business to attend to. I have a few gold idols stuffed away in an overnight bag that I need to dispose of....and they are some biggies. Like the BIG ones. The ones I just couldn't bring myself to deal with....because.....I am weak, and it is okay to admit that.
 
So....for all of my growth, healing, and blessings upon blessings....I am still undone by the things I haven't let go of....EVEN though I know in the depths of my heart, I will be happier and more free on the other side of laying them down/giving them up.
 
So here is the funny thing, and yes, it is okay to laugh in the midst of deep growth.....If I wasn't continuing to grow, I wouldn't even notice the fact that the idols are still in my bag. The truth is I keep noticing them because they are keeping one leg in the past. I don't get that leg, unless I let go. There is no shaking it off. I have to cut it off and Let. Go.
 
My counselor asked me today, "What keeps you from being fully present with both legs right where you are?"
 
Hmmm.....I had to have her repeat it. Not once, but three times.
 
My heart knew what she was REALLY asking, but my mind was feverishly trying to figure out how to dodge the question.
 
*How is that for truth?*
 
The end.
 
The end keeps me from being fully present. I cannot say "The End" to those items, people, places, etc. that have made me who I am today - for better or worse - for I know that to lay an idol DOWN....truly means I will not ever take it back up. Can I let those idols go? Even more, can I forgive myself for the role I played in the life of those idols?
 
Deep thoughts for a shallow mind fresh out of a counseling session.
 
Important thoughts though.....for God has given me a taste of healing, and I want more. Do I want it more than I want the other? Isn't that the real question we all have to ask ourselves? Isn't that where the rubber meets the road? We want God, Jesus, healing, restoration......but just as long as we don't have to give up TOO much or change TOO much. I am guilty of those thoughts, the late night negotiations with God. I am also guilty of holding back these final slivers of trust that I have secretly (in my mind) withheld from God....can I trust him with these deep wounds, these specific wounds that have become idols all unto themselves? Those wounds that will break wide open when I lay them down. Will they be my undoing? My heart's undoing?
 
....and so who am I to judge the Israelites? After 430 years in slavery, maybe we can have a little empathy that being re-storied took a hot minute. Maybe we can have a little empathy for Moses in leading them through the process. Finally, our God is patient and loving....and he knows us. The gifting and the idols. He loves us and he is gracious in how he waits....and waits. While we keep running....
 
So, the final a-ha of the night.
 
Writing is a part of my worship. I just finished that last paragraph and "Broken Things" by Matthew West was playing, and I opened up my arms, palms up, and I offered up ALL of these words to God. I did all of that without pause or thought....because these words, these words are from him, coming through me, and I lay them down to him as an offering.
 
Heart Rocks, Haiti // Hearts...My Love Language w/God
 
Thank you God for giving me this outlet to process ALL that is happening inside of me. I am humbled if it helps just one. I am equally humbled if it helps none. It is his to use as he wishes. Where you go I will go. That is the promise.
 
SO.....this is ALL the words. So. Many. Words.
 
It feels good though....it feels good to write. Here.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Adventure // Keep Making Me

One of my new favorite places to write is the airport. I arrive early so I can get all of the logistics taken care of (to know me well is to know that TSA has a fondness for spending extra time with me #bless ) before my flight.

I settle in at the gate with all of my stuff around me, everything charging, put on my earbuds, and just like that a song finds me like a gift from God (because IT is), and the words come....like magic...God-type magic.

Today I arrived at the airport extra early - even with a detour to pick up something for my friend Amy who lives full-time in Haiti - with the hopes of catching the Sutherlin Family before they boarded their first of a few flights to France. That is right....after months and weeks of intense prayer, spiritual warfare like I have NEVER seen, and a rollercoaster with real estate closings and Visas.....the Sutherlin Family is GOING back to France permanently. How about that!?!?!?! {I missed them due to a parking snafu.}

My friend Sherri and I already have our plans mapped out (for the most part) to join them for a spell in late September/first of October for their Open House event to kick off the Restored & Renewed Ministry officially this October. I am going to be sharing, writing, and documenting their work and the subsequent journey because many of you will be inclined to USE their FREE services as you serve overseas in the mission field via a church and/or NGO. Others may want to help support their ministry with a donation. Finally, some of you may want to simply plan a visit to them while you are in France. All of those things are AWESOME, and I want you to have all of the details so you can pray and GO as you feel led.

That said, I have written so much this past 6-9 months about my personal struggle with #envy as I have watched dear friend after dear friend step out in faith, in ministry, in love to GO and do and serve and walk wherever God leads. I am in awe of my friends across the miles, cities, states, countries, globe that are doing the HARD things....but more, the faithful things. Living a life submissive to the will of God is hard, and I am deeply honored to lift them up in prayer, write and share their work with others, give financial support, or simply cheer them wildly from the stands. Let me pass from this world and others remember me as an encourager and a door holder for others; my daily prayer.


So....the Sutherlins are flying back to France today, and I am flying to Haiti via an overnight detour in Miami because #logistics and I am in awe of God - you are AMAZING and true and dear and faithful. Six months ago Heather S. and I were wondering if she would ever get back to France and I was bemoaning if I would ever make it back to Haiti. To see us today, you would never know the tears and prayers and shouting at God (or for that matter, whoever was in shouting distance) that has gone on with us two. I mean #seriously - God loves us and is beyond faithful; more than either of us deserves.

So....that was a MAJOR digression, but we are a couple of women who back in June 2012 wondered what in the world could or would God ever do with us.....and these days, well....WOW.

The song.

I am in the car on the way to the airport with SiriusXM radio on and "Keep Making Me" by Sidewalk Prophets comes on; I know this because suddenly it hit me that I was singing it at the top of my lungs. Around the final verse I knew that this was THE song for the trip. Have I ever mentioned my Haiti Playlist on my iPod? Maybe not in awhile because Apple erased it during one of their upgrades, and I am still bitter (clearly). Well the playlist was all of the songs that God gave me on or during my Haiti trips so that when I came home, I could meet Him....THERE in worship. So I had wondered what song he would give me this trip, and he didn't even wait for me to get to the airport. Listen to the song and let the words wash over you.

Keep Making Me

 
Make me broken
So I can be healed
‘Cause I’m so calloused
And now I can’t feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken
 
Make me empty
So I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding
Onto my will
And I’m completed
When you are with me
Make me empty
 
‘Til you are my one desire
‘Til you are my one true love
‘Til you are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me
 
Make me lonely
So I can be yours
‘Til I want no one
More than You, lord
‘Cause in the darkness
I know you will hold me
Make me lonely
 
‘Til you are my one desire
‘Til you are my one true love
‘Til you are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me
 
‘Til you are my one desire
‘Til you are my one true love
‘Til you are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making
I know you keep making
Lord, please keep making me
 
Songwriters: SAM MIZELL, DAVID FREY, BEN MCDONALD
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., MUSIC SERVICES, INC.
 
 
Let me tell you that I have lived every word of this song. I have lived EVERY word. I have prayed every word to God. I have felt the heartbreak that comes from living these words out. I still hold the desire to LIVE them out.
 
While I was in Israel last Oct/Nov 2016, I purchased a ring in Jerusalem that on the outside has "where you go I will go" in Hebrew, and on the inside I had engraved the date I was (re)baptized in the Jordan River and the words "Jesus + Heather" because I felt called in my heart to do it. I have worn it every day since. There is a lot more to that story, but....fast forward to my flight to Colorado in April for Captivating...I am re-reading my Captivating 2012 journal and I stop cold when I read the words I heard God say to me that final day "....where you go I will go....." and with that, I die (in a good way) inside. You have to remember that this was before I had ever heard of Global Orphan Project, Haiti, Israel, or any of the number of adventures he has taken me on since 2012. I could NOT have imagined what God had in store for me when I heard those words. NOT by any stretch of the imagination.
 
To hear those words today....."....'til you are my one desire, 'til you are my one true love, 'til you are my breath, my everything, Lord, please keep making me..." causes chills to run COMPLETELY over me.
 
THAT is the adventure I have been on since 2012. That is the heart of all of the letting go, taking up, purging (#threeyearpurgefest ), adventures in foreign lands to foreign circumstances next door, counseling, entrepreneurship, writing, IF, Captivating, and on and on.
 
Lord, please keep making me.
 
....until you are my one desire.
 
I don't know why I had a run of bad luck in getting back to Haiti this past two years. I don't know why it worked out THIS time. The timing odd as it is the four year anniversary of my first trip to Haiti. I don't know why God has blessed me with work that I love (though it makes me INSANE at times). I don't know why he has given me so many heart adventures these past four years or has rolled out so many for the upcoming months. I don't know why any of the challenges, blessings, or adventures have come to me and my one life.....BUT I do know that I want to live out my one true desire, and I want that one true desire to be God. I want to trust him with my everything - whatever everything might be. I want to leave it all on the field so that when I take my last breath, I know that I did all I could for him....and that on the other side of that breath I will be standing before him. I say that ironically sitting here on a hard chair in the airport with my back suddenly aching, and I can almost hear God ask, "Even if there is pain?" *pause* "Yes Lord. Even if there is pain."
 
Phew.
 
I needed to take a minute and let that sink in. That last few sentences took my breath.
 
*deep breath*
 
There it is.
 
Whatever IT is....I need to be willing to give THAT up.
 
Am I? Are you?
 
What I know....keep making the next first step and trusting God with it and everything that comes as a result.
 
The next first step.
 
Haiti here I come.
 
*Four years ago yesterday I flew to Haiti for the first time. It came after a year of being prodded by two different friends; I finally relented and three reschedules later I hopped on a plane. The rest is history. Of all of the things that have changed me this past 4-5 years, Haiti is in the top three, if not the top; difficult choice. Someday there is going to be a book and in that book there will be a chapter about Haiti because it has changed my relationship with God, with people, my work, and mostly it changed my heart. In the same way people talk about the change after a heart-bypass surgery, I talk about Haiti. In counseling, as part of prep for doing EMDR, your counselor will discover your "happy place" so that when things go askew, they can "normalize" (not the official term) you/bring you back to center. My happy place: the third story balcony overlooking the next door orphanage at sunrise (the most spectacular vision you have ever witnessed....the sun softly rising behind the mountains and then as the sun crests it becomes a FIREBALL in the sky) listening to the kids singing as they rise and get ready for the day. OMG.....you cannot EVEN imagine it. Tears come as I even TYPE the words; time machine it is. Friday morning at sunrise I will be in my happy place, and I am breathless even typing the words. There are places and people that embed so deeply into you that they become part of your very DNA. I am here to tell you that Haiti is that for me. It is in my very DNA. I love it with a passion I don't even understand myself. I add this footnote because somewhere out there a place like this exists for each and every one of us, and when you find it - whatever age or reason or circumstance - God will use it to make you or remake you - and you will never be the same....and don't worry about it.....it isn't about anybody but you and God...so relax and let God keeping making you....and enjoy the ADVENTURE.
 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Haiti. My Heart Breaks A Little More.

My heart has a HUGE capacity for love.

I know that.

Now. Certainly now. More than ever.

It is still guarded though....and easily confused or caused to flutter....it still can mislead me....and sometimes it goes MIA for awhile. My heart is a strange thing, and I am still learning how to understand it, let it be, and protect it...in a healthy, not harmful, way.

With Haiti, all bets are off for my heart. The closer I get to my trip, the more undone I feel. Let me correct myself...how undone my heart feels. I almost afraid, I am going to step off that plane in Port-au-Prince, smell the air, and start weeping. My emotions are just THAT close to the surface.

*deep breath*

Tacura // May 2017 {photo by Amy}

Last week my friend Amy in Haiti posted a photo of Tacura and tagged me with a "this is for you" and I am just staring at it - her thoughtfulness touches my heart and then there is this beautiful boy staring at me, this boy who is growing up, and I am missing it. My heart breaks a little more.

I am at a luncheon this week and I see an old love across the room and I am surprised, yet not, and last time we spoke was all wonky because he got weird, and then I got weird....and I am learning to love someone and yet let them go. Counseling and God have (and continue) to teach me how to "go"...and how to "let go." My heart breaks a little more.

We had a partner meeting last night and my heart came undone, and I wasn't sure why. It had gotten all weird in the discussions, and I got weird...and change makes us all a little wonky. My heart breaks a little more.

I am scrolling along on a social media app and see someone that once loved me so deeply that their love changed me AND changed how I love others, but time moves on as only time can and circumstances and geography change....and it all gets weird. My heart breaks a little more.

....and I could keep going.

My heart breaks a little more...and a little more....and a little more. What I am learning though is that all pain is not catastrophic, and that to love BIG is not the end of the world. In some respects, my big heart is my superpower. *insert laughter* Just like any superpower, you have to learn how to wield it....and also what is it's "kryptonite," and so it goes.

I didn't realize this as I was planning this trip to Haiti, but it is going to land four years to the week of my very first trip four years ago. Let me tell you those posts before and after that June 2013 trip are worth the read (you can search on the right hand side of my blog). My heart was contracting and stretching so much, I am surprised I didn't have an actual heart attack. Our bodies are AMAZING!

Here is what I know now that I didn't know then.....I was never ever going to recover from experiencing Haiti. I was going to meet people there who would change how I see the world, myself, God, family....everything. That God's plans for our lives - the things he wants us to experience with him - are so much grander than our minds can imagine. Mostly, that even when I couldn't breathe from crying so hard and thought I would surely die - that I would breathe normally again...and that what God broke open that day was a canyon worth of scar tissue on my heart...and it was ALL for my own good. He loved me enough to let me hurt.

Think about that.

My heart breaks a little more.

God is ridiculously good to us...and for us. Even in the dark days. Even.

Here is what I want for you....find the thing that you cannot imagine....and do that. THAT. God is in the BIG things, the little things, the scary things, and the beauty.

Hang on Haiti. I am coming. So...my heart can break a little more.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Leadership and The Need for Show and Tell

This is going to be a fast one....

To know me well, as many dear friends do, is to know that when the urge hits to write, I start scribbling on whatever is handy....whip out my phone or computer....I simply MUST write.

Last night over dinner with an old, dear friend....I could feel a topic and words bubbling up so I scratched out a few words to remember....and now here I sit on my bedroom floor, dressed for work, wet hair, and I simply MUST write it down NOW.


// dinners with old friends who push you are the best //

*deep laughter*

We are surrounded by people and companies and politicians and even "leaders" that simply are terrified to actually LEAD. As a result we are being "led" by those who have no qualms to lead and/or those who have made operating in and from the status quo....well, an art form.

Once upon a time I had quite the reputation as a revolutionist. I was pretty proud of it too. I had some moments of bad*ssness, but I also had some pretty douche-filled moments. Either way, no one has ever accused me of being afraid to lead (though no one ever knew how terrified I was...and trust me, every leader has doubts).

I am continually shocked by those who are simply scared to lead. The costs too high....or the risk?!?! I simply don't know. It is an epidemic though, and if you don't believe me....look at your schools, Washington D.C., your church, your companies, and sadly....even our families.

To this I once said (oh that might have been two days ago...LOL), "Lead, follow, or get out of my way." Clearly....sometimes I still do. I get frustrated....still....sometimes easily. *deep sigh* I am trying to be more understanding...even when I see poor leadership from a distance so far I have zero influence over it.

I will say this though....we need to start conversations in our homes, our businesses, our churches, our schools....everywhere....on leadership. We need more people leading....leading well....but heck, I would take more people attempting to lead....At. All. Sure, you are not going to win a popularity contest leading. No one is going to call you their favorite or buy you gifts. You won't always be the "good guy" (male or female), but what you will be doing is breaking up the status quo and moving the ball down the field. We need great minds, innovators, pushers, big hearts, brave words, and in and amongst all of that we need leaders. Broken, flawed, transparent, vulnerable, bold leaders.

I once sought popularity. I did, and I am not proud of that.

Today?

Today, I want to change the conversation, move the ball, do the thing others say cannot be done, use my voice, know my worth, share my truth, throw out the crazy idea into a room or table full of smart people, try the unthinkable.

I hope you do too. We need more of YOU.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way. It is time for more of us to step up and out, knees knocking, voice quivering, and heart exposed. Someone needs what you and me have to offer. Our gift. Our crazy idea.

Show and tell starts today.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

In Search of Beauty and Rest

This past weekend, I re-read the posts I wrote back in October 2012 when I was journeying to Captivating in Colorado for the very first time. I then read every post I have written since January 1, 2017. On the plane yesterday (I was in route from Little Rock - Dallas - Denver), I read my journal from Captivating 2012, cover to cover. Then, when I arrived in Salida, Colorado, yesterday afternoon, I got checked into my hotel and then walked straight down to the Headwaters of the Arkansas River. First. Thing.


Headwaters of Arkansas River, Salida, Colorado

Then I breathed.

My chest hurt. My eyes were moist. I felt a bubbling of joy inside.

It hurt to breathe.

So I just kept breathing.

My phone rang.

My business partner calling.

*can't a girl get a break*

We spoke...actually he spoke....and then when he finished, I advised him on the topic at hand. Then, quietly and calmly, I said this...."I love you. We have a lot of decisions to make. Strategies to consider. Right now I am worthless to you, to everyone. I have poured out of myself until I am dry. Dry. I need these next four days to get filled back up. I need to hear God. I need assurance that the words I am sharing with you, with our team, are from him and not me. I need wisdom and rest and a word from above. As nicely as I can say this, 'I need you and the children to leave me alone.'"

He responded with, "Go. Enjoy. I won't call again. We got this."

Thank you - I half said/half breathed.

My View While On The Phone

Why is it so hard for us to ask for a hot minute to rest?

Why is it so hard for those in our life to recognize that we cannot go at full throttle 24/7 without becoming dry?

Why??????

I love my life.

I love my healing.

I love the firm that I co-founded and built.

I love the promises God has put in my heart.

I hate that I still pour too much of myself out before filling back up. I hate that I let myself run dry.


...soaking it all in...

Colorado takes my very breath. I mean, still on the plane, as it comes into view, my mouth whispers, "There you are Colorado all blue and brown...and beautiful." It is spring. I have never been here in spring. It is equally as beautiful, and I am equally left breathless by it.

My chest BTW...still hurting this morning as I watch the sunrise over the water. It is something about the beauty being poured back into me. I let myself get so dry that it is like putting on stretchy jeans right out of the dryer....you have to sit in them a bit before they form to your body again.

Beauty is my breath.

It is my life force.

I need it. I need to capture it in photos. I need to write about it. I need to breathe it in. I need to touch it. I absolutely need to talk about it and share it.

I need beauty.

In beauty I also find rest.

Rest.

I have been tired for so long now, I am sick of hearing myself say it. It is not an "I need a good night's rest tired." It is a, I need to sit in quiet and breathe in nature for a month tired. It is an I don't know what to do with myself when I first get a bit of quiet. Yesterday, last night....oh my....you should have seen me. Ridiculous. I simply practiced taking deep breaths in silence as I walked around Salida, as I stared into the water, as I sat in my hotel room (which is beautiful)....just me and my breath. No music or television or distractions. Just me...and....my breath.

I am suddenly laughing as I type. Who admits to such ridiculousness? Me.

So here is the deal. I am driving into Captivating later today where I will spend four days on a mountain at a women's ministry retreat that 4 1/2 years ago recalibrated my life. It was the first time I felt God speak to me. It is where I met the C7. It is where I came to love silence. It is where I began to forgive God (which as some might recall, I didn't even know I was mad at). It is where I began to forgive myself. It is where I started learning about beauty and my soul. I am in desperate need of a refresher course...especially on that last one.

I am in love with so much of this life and healing God has given me over these past four years, but there is so much I have left to learn. Like what does a life unstructured look like for me? I have lived my life on a calendar for so long....specifically on a calendar where I built my life around my work instead of my work around my life. Can I even change that? If so, how?

My first experience with John Eldredge (founder of Ransomed Heart Ministries) was a CD a co-worker made me entitled "Spirt of the Age" and it was a teaching by John on busyness. I believe that was around 2009-2010. Imagine my surprise (*aghast I am*) that I feel like God is taking me back to the beginning....back to that first lesson because maybe while all of these other lessons have been VERY important. That one, that very first one, is the one that will help me now crossover from a life twisting in my brokenness to a life operating from wholeness and healing. Maybe that is the lesson I can hear, as if for the first time, TODAY with fresh ears, a fresh heart, and a broken/contrite spirit - none of which I had back in 2009 when I was living a life full throttle by my own volition. Maybe, just maybe, this is why God moved me to come back here now.

I just took another one of those deep breaths. My eyes are still moist, but the breaths are not hurting like they were yesterday.

Downtown Salida, Colorado - Perfection

Four years ago I didn't want to live. That is the full truth of the matter. I wasn't suicidal insomuch as I just wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out. Life had taken me out behind the wood shed and spanked me but good. After the conference in 2012, I decided to drive through Salida, Colorado, so I could see the Headwaters of the Arkansas River (river buff that I am), and I remember like it was yesterday the feeling of leaning over the bridge and looking in and feeling hope for the very first time in a long, long, long time. The beauty was magnificent, and still today I get comments on the photos I took that day (no one believes they were real). I guess coming back here (a day early and six hours out of my way) was really about reminding me of that hope, how far God and I have come, remembering beauty and breathing, and in some spiritual way - reminding me of the source of my LIFE - where my heart and love and breath - comes from, who it comes from....and maybe he is showing me the 'why' for this life of mine.

I am hearing a lot of "GO!" lately, but before one can go - sometimes they need to revisit. I see it a little like a rubberband being stretched backward before it gets projected forward. I think this retreat is the pulling me backwards before God can project me forward in the direction he wants me to go.

...and with that sentence my heart started racing.

*Deep Breath*

I look down at the water again. Isn't it amazing how it just keeps rolling, through different cities and states, expanding as it rolls on. Then it flows into the Mississippi, merging with others to become something bigger than itself, and it rolls on into the ocean, bigger still. Breathtaking really to think that the water I am gazing into now will in time be part of the ocean. What a journey it will have had, playing its part, nourishing the land and the wildlife, leaving a mark on both, refreshing and renewing, ripple after ripple.

I want to play my part. Well.

My wish for you this morning is to step away from the every day happenings of your life and soak up some beauty. God gave us this beautiful planet and beautiful people across it, and I want more of ALL of that in my life. Maybe you do too.

Now I need to go wipe my eyes and see if I can stop grinning long enough to brush my teeth. ;) Another side effect of beauty for me - giddiness.

I am so grateful God. Truly, spectacularly grateful.

More views like this for me today as I drive up to Captivating.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Seven Days and The Next First Step

I love the number seven.

Love.

There is a lot of symbolism in it for me. I guess you might say it is my lucky number, but even more...somehow like hearts, the number seven has come up in and where I needed it....like a tap on the shoulder from God to "look up."

Seven days ago I knew I was in the midst of what some might call GO TIME{click the link for what the urban dictionary has to say about it}, and there was going to be two clear paths and no going back whichever one I chose.

I never in a million (years) thought seven days later there would be resolution (of sorts), or that it would take seven days to fully play out, or what all would result from my simple decision to 'hold fast' to what I knew to be true.

Yet....seven days later.

Joshua 6.

I recommend it.

So here is the lesson in the past seven days that seems oh so clear this morning, yet seven days ago looked simply like 'was I willing to take the first step'....in faith'?....

Sometimes when you take the first step, and the next, and the next, and the next....seven days later....the walls fall....just as God promised they would. Amazing.

I think that is the part of the Bible I forget about in the midst of the lessons in the great stories....we know how the story ends, but they, in the moment, had no idea if those walls were going to actually fall (for example). All they knew is the faith it took to take the next first step.


The next first step.

***

I got pulled away with a work emergency (I know. I know. It is Saturday. *insert eye roll*) and then had brunch plans with a friend. So....here it is hours later, and I decided to come out to the park and sit in the sunshine and write. Finish. Write and finish what God started this morning...

"Even If" by Mercy Me just started playing in my earbuds. Isn't that the truth of the matter. Even when we don't know how our story within the larger story will play out. Even IF it does not play out the way we want it to, or even how we believed God was going to map it out. Our job is to trust. Even if. We trust.

"What will I say when I am held to the flame like I am right now."

Man! That is a powerful lyric.

Seven days I had NO idea how the next steps were going to play out. I am now looking to the next step, the next steps, and I also have NO idea how they are going to play out. Yet, that is okay. God is teaching me....in the step.

Last night I ended up spending time with my business partner, his wife, and their kids. After a few weeks, a week, and certainly a day for the record books. I think there were words left to be said, and healing in the hugs of children and sidewalk chalk drawings, and in the midst of a lot of ALL that.....suddenly there was this moment where one of the littles could not draw a "2" and they stated to their mother that they could not draw it. Their mom asked if they wanted help. The child replied yes. She asked if they wanted her to "dot it out" and the child said yes. Then the mother dotted out on the page the numbers, passed the sheet back to the child, and then the child traced the numbers out on the page following the dots. I stood watching this....absolutely fascinated. I said, "I have never seen that teaching method, but it makes so much sense because you aren't doing it for them, but giving them a roadmap that they then still have to execute. Brilliant.

I told that story over brunch this morning and looked my friend dead in the eye and said, "That is EXACTLY what God is doing with me." For the past few months, I have gotten caught up with completing the lessons, the straggling list, finishing well, etc. That wasn't the point though...the process was the point.

Would I say, "I can't do this God."

Him, "Would you like my help?"

"Yes, Lord."

Him, "Would you like me to give you the next step?"

"Yes, Lord."

Him revealing the next step and pushing it back to me, "Take it."

Me taking it, and then, "I can't do this."

....and repeat.

Again and again.

He has been teaching me to ask...teaching me submission....teaching me obedience....teach me to listen to HIM and cancel out the rest of the story...focus on his next first step.

...and the children will lead us.

I am in awe.

There is something amazing that happens when you start laying down your strongholds. I have to be honest. I had no idea how much grief and anger and trauma ruled my life, my emotions, my heart, my actions, my judgement. It did. I thought I trusted God, but I was a fraud. I trusted only whatever emotion ruled me in any given moment. I have watched myself transform from the inside out this past year, but none more than the past several weeks as attack after attack tested all of the lessons learned this past year. How would I react? How would I feel? What would I trust? Who would I trust? Would I take the next step? Would I choose what was right over what was easy? I wish I could say that it gets simpler; it doesn't. What it does get is more clarifying. What I mean by that is that as you start walking in trust, it begins to look and feel more natural. You recognize it. That doesn't mean old habits aren't around the corner, so you pray for discernment. You pray that you recognize those habits faster so you can once again correct yourself and step back into trusting God...With. Everything.

So....are those things that God gave me to do important?

Absolutely.

What is even more important though is did I learn how to listen, to trust, to apply, to step, to follow, to discern. HOW I complete the lessons is just as (if not even more) important than the completion itself. THAT is what God has been trying to teach me since the first of the year. It only took three months. LOL

Wow.

I don't even know how to end this....

I guess I want to tell you that I am exhausted. That this process is exhausting. Yet...

The work is worth it. Absolutely worth it.

I feel it. As in feel it inside my bones. Even more, I have some amazing people who have prayed me through this past five years like BOSSES and they are stepping into every single gap and encouraging me onward. They still believe in what God is doing, and will do, in me and through me. I am so grateful. I bet I could write a book on gratitude and publish just their text messages alone. I wish for everyone, for you,  a tribe of men and women who believe in you, speak truth into you, and hold you up and together when the enemy comes at you with all he has and leaves you for dead.

....and finally, the enemy is never ever going to stop. The attacks in the past seven days have been brutal, deliberate, and executed with precision - but, BUT I am still standing. Tired? Yes. Wobbly? A little. Breathing? Better than ever. Broken? Not even close. I did shed some tears yesterday.....well, some daily, but even that is progress - no more stuffing it down for me. Process! Process! Process! I also allowed myself to feel the attacks; I simply didn't allow them to take me out. My faith is growing and with it my armor. Hear me well - armor - NOT walls. Such a difference that only did I start figuring that out last Sunday. Also, sometimes armor looks ridiculously similar to a steel backbone. ;)

So....the enemy is coming. Be ready. Life goes on.

The next first step.

I am SO excited.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

For The Love of A Savior

Israel 2016
 
I had this amazing dinner last night with a new friend who I met through a mutual friend that recommended my blog to them....that last fact alone gives me grateful pause. I could not have EVER imagined people reading this thing....much less recommending it to others. So humbled.
 
We had been trying to find a mutual time to meet for coffee or dinner since New Year's Day. So #finally was flashing in our heads last night as we finally fell into our chairs at the restaurant. Nothing to see here - just two busy professional women fighting for ourselves in a world of BUSY.
 
I had just come off another week of ridiculous highs and lows with one low happening 30 minutes before our dinner, and she was headed into storms (literally) post-dinner so we were just a brewing hot mess from the word go. I had to fight all of the things I had just experienced and be fully present at a dinner I had been looking forward to for months. I thought my head was going to explode as all that was running through my head were flashes of me in the ER over the weekend with chest pains. Ridiculous, yet every woman reading this right now is relating to that feeling of let me be present right where I am while also fighting the good fight in your head of what you just walked through and/or what you are about to walk into. Women's minds are INSANE.
 
Our dinner was a lot of Q&A about my journey, parts of our stories, how and why I had made some of my past choices, and what had (and was continuing to) shape me.
 
It was intense.
 
I loved it.
 
I would have loved it better if I had not just had to reprimand two wayward employees which was a mere 30 minutes after learning that I had permanently lost one of my longest and dearest employees. All one day after learning about the dangerous antics of yet another (now former) employee. Entrepreneurship is heartbreaking. I don't know what else to tell you.
 
I digress.
 
I am working on a piece right now entitled "Two Paths Diverged In The Woods....and you took the wrong one. Now What?" - don't judge; it is a working title. LOL
 
The funny thing is....how many of us feel that way TODAY, or have before, or will (again) someday? I would lay odds all of us. Choices are hard. Truly. AND...in a world that tells us that we need to find our passion(s), calling, or simply choose the "right" path, well now we have crossed over to the land of insanity.
 
Speaking of which, this morning I posted that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing again and again expecting different results, and that I was tired of being insane. #word 
 
So...who is with me????
 
It is time to be brave and step forward.
 
So before I dive back into some planning that I have been too busy to do, let me inject some raw honesty into the discussion around paths and callings and thoughts of "is it too late for me"............
 
The road to find your way back to you....to the relationship with God you crave....to old dreams or new dreams.....
 
It takes work.
 
It takes time.
 
You cannot look at my story and be impressed (I would be shocked if you were...first of all) without acknowledging the intense time and work that has occurred over five years. Five! I didn't fall into this place. I clawed my way here. With God. From the initial position of my body flat on the floor with my face pressed up against his feet. All of this...THIS....is the story, the journey, of someone that God is helping to rise up IN HIM. He is able to do that because I am committed to letting go....of every last bit of me - the old agreements with the enemy, the old shame, the mistakes, the sin, the angst (read that as anxiety)...and even more, I am committed that when I fall backwards, I will not wallow, but once again fall at his feet and drink from the fountain of restoration. A fountain only he fills. Only. God.
 
I'm not perfect. I am simply restored in something way bigger than my simple life - Jesus.
 
I can offer a roadmap to you - one that I only see through the rearview mirror because while living it, I surely was oblivious to what was forming. I can share guidelines, books, speakers, conferences, ideas, and the like that have helped me grow this past five years. Of all of it though, nothing has mattered more than the sheer fact that at some point over the last five years, I stopped being mad at God (which was somewhat a lot of blustering due to my intense shame), forgave him, and I fell in love with him. Madly. Deeply. Truly.
 
I don't know what the days and weeks and months and years look like for me...exactly, but what I do know is that if it is not of God, I don't want it. I am also not going to take anymore crap about my convictions, my brain, my dreams, or my emotional intuition. What makes me ME is not happenstance, God did that. He designed me, he gifted me with certain talents and skills, and I can either acknowledge and cultivate them OR deny them. You can be sure there will be no more of the latter. {Side Note: if you see me deny them, slap me silly.}
 
So here is what I have to offer you today. You drowning in the busy. You drowning in unfilled dreams. You drowning in an office full of mean boys/girls trying to create a do-over of their high school years gone wrong. You with the broken heart from the love you knew would never end.
 
Give up.
 
Get on your knees.
 
Lay. It. ALL. Down.
 
Sometimes you have to give up in order to get up.
 
Open your Bible.
 
Open your palms.
 
Enter. In.
 
The only well worth drinking from is the one Jesus made for you. All others will leave you thirsty. I know. I nearly died from thirst.
 
Kim Walker Smith has a new album coming out. There is a song entitled "Throne Room" on it that you can download immediately if you pre-order the album. Let me be clear, download the album. The words will take you out - in the best of ways.
 
I run to the throne room.
I run to the throne room.
 
Next month, I head back to the 2012 catalyst for me, Captivating. God has mapped out a beautiful pit-stop on the way followed by four days of me and him in one of the most beautiful places in the United States. I am trying to not have expectations for the trip and time there, but God keeps opening things up like flowers in the spring so that with each passing day I get a little more giddy about it all. I believe in going back, but not like I once did that was so unhealthy. Touchstones. It is all about the touchstones. In 2012, I landed at Captivating a broken, hot mess unsure of everything. Next month, I return healthier, restored, grateful, dare I say whole......and with deeply rooted anticipation for his promises. His promises. Not mine, not others....His.
 
He goes before me.
 
He stands behind me.
 
The Well.
 
It is time to drink up.