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.