When your heart overflows…

“In a person’s lifetime there may be not more than half a dozen occasions that he can look back to in the certain knowledge that right then, at that moment, there was room for nothing but happiness in his heart.” {Ernestine Gilbreth Carey} 

SSmeandcontessa

Dear precious friends,

Happiness, yes, but so much more. My heart is overflowing with many emotions. Gratitude. Love. Expectation. Contentment. Excitement. Humility. Astonishment.

I am home from She Speaks, a conference that is a lot like Disney World for writers and speakers. I met many people whom I admire and have read and followed for years. I left home bound for Charlotte with business cards, a book proposal, one sheets, and appointments to meet with important people in the publishing industry.

meandLysa meandemilyfreeman

I return home with more than I ever expected to receive. My heart swells with so many emotions today. I will process these feelings for weeks to come.

To my pleasant surprise, God has been working on a little undiscovered dream in my heart. A dream that I knew was there, but could never articulate. Being the loving and gracious Father that He is, He brought the dream to my awareness this weekend. I will never forget the exact moment and person He used to help me find a place to land that unspoken dream.

meandandrea

In the coming months, I will take action steps to help this dream fly. It is a baby bird egg sitting in a nest on a strong branch of a giant oak tree. Soon it will fly from the nest to find a place to land. My wandering soul finds rest in the amazing power of a dream discovered. Oh how He loves you and me!

Stay tuned! There will be more to come as the egg cracks and the baby bird leaps from the nest and finds a place to land after its first flight. Will you pray with me? That I am wise and patient, disciplined and focused, and most all that I am obedient to His call.

And lastly, how can I pray for you? What is your dream unfulfilled? What burns in your heart and soul that you can’t quite figure out? What would quench your thirsty soul? Let me know in the comments or private message me. I consider it an honor to pray for each of you. I want you to see your baby bird egg hatch and find a place to land, too!

 

With humility and gratitude,

Lizzie

 

 

 

 

She died…

…and I didn’t even notice she was gone. Until today, that is.

She was 36 years old. She lived much longer than she should have. Took up too much space for way too long.

She slipped away and the funny thing is, she didn’t even put up a fight. You would think that as stubborn as she was, she would have protested a little louder.

Maybe she did put up a fight and I never noticed. Maybe I was too busy to notice.

She held me captive for over 3 decades. Her voice was so loud and clear during those thirty some years that I obeyed her every command.

It’s much quieter these days. No voice in my head telling me what to do and how to do it. No one shouting between my ears things like this:

 “That’s not good enough.”

“You’ll never measure up.”

“Don’t even try that. You don’t have what it takes.”

“If you can’t do it right the first time, don’t bother.”

“When are you going to learn your lesson?”

“I told you so.”

“Loser.”

“You’re a quitter. You’ll never finish that.”

“So and so is better at that than you.”

“Your voice is not needed.”

“Nothing you say matters.”

“Who would want to listen to you?”

“You are wasting your time…they don’t care.”

“You missed your chance.”

“Somebody else has already done that better.”

“You’re not worthy.”

Yes, the broken record of perfectionism played herself right out the front door. As soon as I realized she was gone, I locked the deadbolt and took a deep breath.

I am taking ownership of the space she once occupied. It is no longer hers to occupy. She was trespassing all along, but I allowed it. Because I didn’t know how to kick her butt out once and for all.

I believed her. Every. Single. Word.

Every lie.

But, not anymore. She is not here to distract me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, she tries to come back around. She knocks on the door with her usual tunes, but I turn a deaf ear. I am choosing to listen to someone else. His voice is much calmer and relaxed. Actually, His voice was competing with her voice for over 3 decades. My whole life.

She was louder and more persistent. She would corner me with accusations and would use people who I care about to fuel the fire that raged between my ears.

This was before I hesitantly started my journey as a creator, as an artist.

Before I started creating almost a year ago with acrylics and canvases, she loved to taunt me with her lies. As I grew in my confidence and identity as an artist, her voice lost its impact and it started getting more and more distant

But, He was always there. Always listening, watching, and waiting. I knew He was there and I knew what He was saying. But, I didn’t always believe Him.

Now that she and her antics are no longer welcome on center stage, His voice reminds me of who I am and to Whom I belong. He never wavers and He says things like:

 “You are Mine.”

“I created you with clear purposes in mind.”

“My love for you is not dependent on what you do.”

“You’ve got everything you need in Me.”

“I will be with you every step of the way.”

“I am always listening to you and watching you.”

“Your value can never be measured by worldly standards.”

“Press on. Lean in.”

“You measure up just by being you. You don’t have to do anything.”

“Do what you love and what brings you joy.”

“Critics will always try to distract you.”

“I have literally saved you from death more than once.”

“My will has not been fulfilled in your life.”

“I am so very proud of you.”

“Your future is secure and you don’t have to do anything to earn it.”

And with every sentence I type, every stroke I paint, and every word I speak, I am choosing to believe Him. His truth over her lies.

It is not merely by chance that the word art is the second person present indicative of the verb to be. In Scripture, it is used as “thou art”. By being who He made me to be, my life, every action, every choice, every relationship can be art. How amazing is that?

Don’t let perfectionism or anything else stop you from creating the life that you were made to live. I believe everyone’s an artist. Everyone was made to create because we are made in the image of the ultimate creator, God Himself.

The canvases of our lives can be beautiful beyond anything the mind can imagine. In the supernatural realm, battles are being won.

Your life can be an expression of the artist that He made you to be. Don’t listen to the persnickety voice of perfectionism. She will never tell you the truth.

What I learned during the first day of art class almost a year ago. What a fun year this has been!!

 

 

5 minute friday: {Rest}

Linking up today with Lisa-Jo Baker and the whole Five Minute Friday crew!

Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Oh and Ahem, if you would take pity and turn off comment verification, it would make leaving some love on your post that much easier for folks!

OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on:::

Rest…

**********************************************************************

“I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain; and never shut myself up in a numb core of nonfeeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out. To learn and think: to think and live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight, new understanding, and new love.” ~ Sylvia Plath

Yes. I say yes in one breath and no as I hold the breath in and refuse to exhale. I straddle the feeling of desire between clothespins of faith and fear.

Yet. I know the answer. It has always been the same.

Rest. In Him. For He knows what lies ahead, further down the road traveled least.

Yet. I refuse to trust His best. It might hurt. No. It will hurt. For sure.

And desire goes unmet. Chained to the wrong anchor. Avoiding rough seas that lie ahead by staying anchored to more of the same.

It is time to lift the anchor. Set sail for the deep blue. The unknown.

But, one thing I do know. He is there. Waiting for me.

I don’t need another anchor to calm my soul. He is the one where I can choose to rest my weary traveling soul. She wants to lay it all down.

Yes. I exhale and release and rest in Him.

Desire meets the desire Giver. And it feels like home.

 

 

 

For when you don’t feel like loving…

I had heard all the love stories. They began with: “you will feel love for her the instant they place her on your chest”. Well, I didn’t. And I felt guilty {for a long time} for not feeling love for her the instant she was placed in my arms.

Who can you talk to about such things without them thinking you need to be committed? How can a new mother not be madly in love with her first-born baby? It is hard enough to share it almost 8 years later. With you. With strangers who stumble upon my website through random search engines.

But, today, I choose to share my love story because I have a feeling I was not alone in my confusion and guilt.

More than anything in my life, becoming a mother changed me. Forever.

More than leaving home for college. More than getting married. More than my parent’s divorce. More than losing our first home and all of our belongings to tragedy.

Becoming a mother created imprints on my heart that nothing can ever wash away. Becoming a mother changed the way I think about everything and everybody. I will never think the same about my days, choices, actions, and relationships. Every choice I make impacts the lives of two precious and completely dependent little people.

When we found out we were pregnant with our first-born, I was ecstatic. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to hold and nurse and cuddle with a mini-Lizzie or mini-Anthony. My entire pregnancy was filled with beautiful reminders of what was about to happen. A new little life was going to call us mama and daddy. Our then one bedroom apartment was busting at the seams with baby paraphernalia!

When we found out we were having a little princess, she already had a name. The one we had picked out when we were dating in college and talking about our “what if” future together. Her name means most beautiful oath of God. We were beyond excited.

Callie would keep us waiting longer than the normal 40 weeks of gestation. She was already displaying her stubborn personality. 10 days beyond her July due date, I started having labor pains in my lower back that were almost unbearable. And for 24 hours straight, it felt like an elephant was dancing on my lower back.

2 failed epidurals later, Callie was determined to stay in my womb just a little longer. After pushing for 3 hours and 15 minutes, we discovered the problem. Callie was positioned face up and her sweet head was getting caught on my pelvis. After my OB tried to manually turn Callie {ouch} with no success, out came the vacuum extractor, and so did Callie. Her very loud cry was the best thing I had heard all night and all day. I collapsed on the bed, bruised and torn from the birth of my first-born.

The nurses checked her out, cleaned her up, and swaddled her tight. The very moment they swaddled her, she stopped crying. She was warm again.

I, on the other hand, was exhausted and traumatized. None of those people who told me that I would “feel love for her the instant they placed her on my chest” prepared me for reality. Remember, excruciating pain for 24 hours. 2 failed epidurals. Pitocin induced contractions. Manual maneuvering in an attempt to turn Callie and all sorts of other physical ramifications left me completely worn out. More so than after completing my first marathon.

The last thing I wanted to do was nurse a baby. I wanted to go to bed for the next 24 hours.

I managed to roll over onto my back as they brought her to me. I held her. And I really wanted to make myself feel love for her. To cry tears of joy. But they didn’t come while I held her the first time. Or while we snuggled together after nursing marathons at the hospital. I KNEW I loved her. I knew I loved her more than I knew anything. But, I didn’t feel it. At all. The guilt from not feeling love for your child is something you never want to feel.

The feelings still didn’t come as we left the hospital and headed home. And for weeks to come, I didn’t have a distinct moment when the love feeling switch came on. I knew I loved her. But, I wanted to feel it. I wanted something replace the guilt I was feeling.

I wish someone had told me the truth instead of fantasy filled expectations of instantaneous love and bliss. I wish I had known the love feelings would eventually come if I kept choosing to love. 

Out of desperation or ignorance or just plain not knowing what else to do, I chose to love my daughter even when I didn’t feel it, just like I had chosen to forever love my husband on our wedding day in 1999. For better or worse. In all things. Through all things. In spite of all things.

I learned love is a choice. And as a young mother, I chose to love when I didn’t know what else to do about how I was feeling. I acted in love even when I didn’t feel like it. Who feels like waking up every 2 hours to feed a screaming baby? Who feels like changing poopy diapers more often than I can count in 24 hours?

And the feelings eventually came. The guilt was slowly replaced with feelings of love that I had never felt before for anyone. A mother’s love. And almost 8 years later, it is stronger than ever.

Love is a choice. Feelings come after choosing to love.

Who are you choosing to love today even if you don’t feel like it?

 

“Lord, help us to love you more than anyone or anything. Give us courage to choose to love others even when we don’t feel like doing so. Thank you, Father, for choosing to love us and for sending your Son to die in our place. Love requires sacrifice. Every time. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me enough to make a choice that led to your death. A choice to love that required the ultimate sacrifice. May we love like you. Undaunted, unafraid, and unashamed.”

“4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

When asking feels so hard…

The shiny foil wrappers surrounded by tiny white strips of paper with blue writing were my first clue. Who knows how long they had been deceptively placed behind the couch. I rarely sweep behind the couch, but visitors were coming for a holiday brunch. I felt extra motivated to disband the dust bunnies who live behind my comfy red couch.

The wrappers could have been there for weeks. No kidding. But, I was more concerned with who put them there than how long they had been there.

Both of my kids love chocolate. I prefer chips. My hubby could eat my share and his share of chocolate every day. Since he does not have to ask my permission to raid the pantry, I knew that I had two potential Hershey Kisses thieves on my short list of suspects. In my gut, I knew who hid the evidence…but the curious mom in me took the time to process the evidence and “interview” all the suspects.

I started with the oldest on my list. Sean was at preschool and I wanted to speak to each of them in private:

“Callie bug, is there something you need to tell me? Did you hide something behind the couch?”

“What are you talking about, mom?”

I showed her the evidence in question…shiny, empty wrappers.

“No, mom! You know I didn’t do that! I bet Sean did it. You know how much he loves candy.”

Callie was busting at the seams to convict Sean of theft without delay. No innocence until proven guilty. Guilty, right now! “Boy, he is in BIG trouble,” she said. I encouraged her to let me handle it. My justice-loving girl reluctantly agreed.

I don’t know how, but Callie managed to keep a secret all day long. After we prayed as a family at bedtime, Callie left Sean’s room to go to her bed. She knew that I was going to talk to Sean as I laid down with him before he drifted off to sleep. She winked at me as she left and turned off his lamp.

Sean is a very loving and sensitive little boy. I knew this conversation would be tough for him (and me).

“Buddy, is there something you want to talk to me about?”

“No, mom. What do you mean?”

“Well, I found something today, behind the couch.”

He was facing away from me, my arm draped across him. I could feel his little body tense up. My heart ached for him.

“Which couch, mom?”

“The red one. Downstairs.”

“Oh…what did you find?” His little body was almost rigid at this point.

“Sean, will you look at me?”

Silence…

He managed to shake his head, no. By this point, his little body was shaking and tears were flowing.

“Sean, you’re not in trouble. I just want to talk to you about the Hershey’s Kisses. What made you take them and then hide the papers behind the couch?”

Through tears and sobs, I managed to make out what his little conscience had been hiding for probably weeks:

“I knew…..if I asked you…….that you……..would say……..no……….so I took them. I didn’t………….think………….you would……..find out.”

I held him until the sobbing stopped. His body softened.

“Sean, I love you very much. I want you to know that you can always ask me for whatever your little heart desires. I may say no, but please don’t let that stop you from asking. You may be surprised. I might say yes!”

“But we only get one surprise each day and I had already had my desert that day.” My kids get one treat each day, unless it is a special day or I am feeling extra sweet or they look at me with those big blue eyes and make me feel guilty.

“Yes, you are correct. But please don’t let that stop you from asking. Don’t hide the desires of your heart from me and daddy. We love you very much and want to be able to give you all good things. Too much chocolate is not good, but know that you don’t have to sneak around and hide your desires. Ask me. Always ask me.”

“Okay, mommy…I am sorry. I love you very much.”

“I love you very much and what you want is very important to me, okay?”

“Okay…you’re not mad?”

“No, I glad that we talked about what happened and that you don’t have to hide it anymore.”

“Me, too. I will ask next time.”

All the while, God was working on me. I am talking to Sean, trying to help him understand how important it is to ask his mom and dad for things instead of hiding his desires. And God is talking to me….

“Ask me, Lizzie. All you have to do is ask. I want to give you all the desires of your heart. All of them. Even if you think I may say no, ask anyway. You might be surprised….”

What are the desires of your heart? What is God saying to you?

Ask and release the outcome to Him. Ask and surrender. Fellowship with and enjoy the Giver of all good things. When we enjoy the Giver, His gifts make so much more sense. Even when we don’t get what we desire when we want it….which may be a gift all its own.

Ask Him and release, friends. Always ask…

 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

The Power of Story

 

Story. What do you think of when you hear the word story?

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.” Maya Angelou

For me, it conjures up faces. Faces of so many precious people. Strangers, family, friends, writers, children, neighbors, and waitresses.

This past weekend at Allume, I was showered with dozens of stories from other fascinating bloggers. And I am still overflowing with compassion and admiration for all of them.

What makes them different from you? One thing. They write/type/blog the stories of their lives and in doing so are able to help so many others who have turned similar pages in life.

What’s your story? What have you experienced that makes you who you are today?

We all have a story, actually many stories. And all of these stories compiled together reflect our lives. One of the most amazing and humbling gifts that God gives me often is the privilege of listening to other people’s stories.

If you know someone’s story, all prejudices and presumptions and judgments fall by the wayside. It is really, really hard to hate or dislike someone who is very similar to you. Someone who has also turned some of the same pages in her or his book of life. You and the story-teller soon realize that you have common themes and that you may have even played the same character during a very similar time in your life.

You see, sharing our stories is what connects us. Binds our hearts together and bridges differences of opinion. Instead of judging someone for who they are going to vote for in a few weeks, ask them what led them to make their decision. Instead of presuming you know why your neighbor’s son was kicked out of school, ask your neighbor if she needs anything or if you can pray with her.

Don’t build walls. Build into other people. Choose grace instead of concrete. Love instead of fear. I heard this very theme stated in so many different dialects and passions this past weekend.

On our way home from the Allume Conference in Harrisburg, PA, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast.

Our waitress was a precious lady. So sweet and generous with Callie and Sean. She asked how old they were and after I told her we had the following conversation:

“You are so kind to my children. You must have children and grandchildren of your own,” I shared.

“Yes, I have 6 children,” she responded.

“No way! You look amazing!” I exclaimed.

She looked down at the coffee laden tray in her hands and stopped for a moment. I didn’t know if she was bashful and not able to accept the compliment that spewed forth from my mouth or if she was pondering what to say. Probably both.

“Well, thank you, but I have not always looked this way,” she shared shyly.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“I used to weigh 310 pounds.”

I put my hand over my mouth as tears formed in the corners of my eyes waiting for me to blink so they could be released.

“Wow. You have worked so very hard,” I finally responded. Having been overweight and weighing over 210 pounds myself, I could instantly feel her shame and pride all at the same time.

“I had gastric bypass 5 years ago and lost 185 pounds. I weigh around 125 pounds now.”

Everything in me wanted to jump up from the table and hug her as my tears found freedom. I had a hard time containing myself because I knew part of her story. I knew it deep in the core of my being.

But, I refrained. And complimented her again with, “I am so proud of you. You have indeed worked hard.”

“Well, it wasn’t easy and I was very sick for the first 6 months, but I knew I had to do it for me. I was in a very abusive marriage and the only thing I could control in my life was the food I put in my mouth. So I put a lot of food in my mouth!”

We shared a chuckle and she asked if I needed more coffee. Our conversation ended, but I knew that we had been knitted together in a way that only the Author of our stories, our lives could possibly do.

When she came back to the table in a few minutes, we continued talking:

“I am curious. What was the most difficult part of the journey for you?”

She replied with, “To be honest, being treated differently now that I am thin. People are so mean and they treat fat people with so much prejudice and hatred. I am treated so much better as a thin woman than I was as a fat woman. And the sad part is that I am the same woman on the inside at 125 pounds as I was at 310 pounds. The only thing that changed was my appearance. It hurts and angers me that people can be so harsh. I see it here at work. People stare at the overweight guests like they shouldn’t be eating at all. It is really sad. I want other people to know that fat people are just like them on the inside.”

“I know what you mean. I used to be overweight, too. I lost over 70 pounds about 15 years ago. And, you are so right. People do treat you differently when you are overweight,” I said with a heavy heart. I did know exactly what she meant. Again our stories blended into one.

Anthony and the kids went to pay and I lingered near the kitchen door. I asked one of the waiters if he would get our waitress for me. He did and when she came around the corner, I smiled and she returned my smile with grace.

“May I give you a hug?” I asked.

Her response was in a universal language that all of us understand. A bear hug. She didn’t have to say yes, because she knew that we both knew and understood.

When you invest in others’ lives, there is often little applause. But the payment I received today in the exchange of a hug and mutual understanding was worth far more than any applause.

 

This STORY is the first in a series of posts about stories. I believe that everyone has a story, multiple stories. And I want to help them share their stories in a way that honors them by maintaining their confidentiality, yet sets them free from the agony that results when you don’t share your story. Not everyone is a writer, but everyone has a story. And I am inspired to help those people share it right here on my blog. Lastly, I want to extend a warm invite to YOU. If you have a story you want to share, please let me know. I would be honored to share your story in a future blog post and the life lesson you would want to share with others. Your name would never be mentioned in the blog post and your confidentiality would be certain. If you are interested, please email me at branch626@aol.com. 

 

 

Being Known

In the deepest part of me, there is a desire. A real desire to be known. To share my soul with another. To give and receive fully without reservation. But, there also lies in the deepest part of  me real fear. Real and raw and palpable fear. The type of fear that paralyzes me and destroys relationships and community. Fear that keeps me living very, very small.

Oh my soul. It hits me like the headlights on an oncoming car in my lane at midnight. They are intricately woven together. So enmeshed that they can’t possibly be separated.

My deepest fear is being known. Really known. The kind of knowing that would leave my soul naked, uncovered from the inside out. 

So she hides. She has perfected it. Just keep asking questions. Divert. Provide them with lots of things to talk about. Ask them about their lives.

Turn away when he approaches you. Pretend that you have something else to do. Don’t make eye contact. And never give him any room to hurt you. Don’t extend your hand. Harden your heart. Then he can’t hurt you.

Why is it so hard to be known? To be loved? To be understood? What causes us to build walls like Fort Knox? Who are we fooling when we become one of the shadows and dart away?

No one. Not even myself.

I know. And I want to be known. To share my desires, dreams, and fears with others. Selected others. My small community that God has given me. But, it is SO very hard. Because if I don’t protect myself, then no one else will. And we all know that relationships are messy. They hurt. It is a fact. If you are in relationship with someone, you will hurt her and she will hurt you if you continue to be in relationship.

Except one. Only one Person that you are in relationship with will never hurt you without a greater purpose being fulfilled. And even though it may hurt in the moment, I know that God has and will always have my best in mind when He allows pain in my life.

As CS Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Ouch. But in a good way.

And I know that the only way to be known is to be known by Him first. To let Him in my life. To give Him my heart, desires, and future. Yes, there will be pain, but for a greater purpose. For my best.

I will be attending the Allume Conference this weekend. Here is the Allume mission:

The Allume conference exists to offer a gathering place for kindred spirits to connect, learn, grow, and be refreshed so they can persevere in being a people who bring hope to the world through the social media medium. We want to reflect His Light in all our spheres of influence. Our goal is to go beyond the surface into intentional blogging and real life living, all to the glory of God. Allume is a one-of-a-kind conference that seeks to engage women by teaching blogging techniques and social media skill while also urging and encouraging women to live fully integrated lives with their faith and family.

I will fight every urge to hide in my room and not be known. I will probably ask way too many questions and divert when the attention is on me. So knowing that this is my tendency, may I ask you to pray for me? That I will be open to whatever He wants for my life, my writing, and my family?

Grateful for you. Humbled by your generous gift of time as you take the time to read my thoughts.

And, praying for you as you open your heart to Him.

What to do When Life is Hard to Navigate

I do believe that more than anything else, what holds us back the most takes up residence between our ears.

The voice that tells you that you could never do that thing:

“You will always be this way.”

“No one would want to read anything you write.”

“Don’t even think about signing up for that marathon…you can’t even run a 5k.”

“You don’t deserve any better. Look where you came from.”

“You have the wrong last name.”

“You don’t even have a college degree.”

“You are from small town nowhere.”

“You don’t know the right people.”

“People don’t care about you so why do you care about them.”

Any of those sound vaguely familiar? We shoot ourselves in the foot before we ever take the first step. Because we listen. To that voice. The voice that wants us to fail. Miserably.

Maybe that’s why most of us never change. We settle.

Because change is hard. And we might make a mistake or fail miserably. But, we just might succeed. And that might just be more frightening than failing. At least we are used to failing. Succeeding is a whole different story.

Life is hard right now. I feel like a pencil in a pencil sharpener. I know God is up to good stuff, but this whole refinement business sucks. The refining fire is hot. I feel like a small child that is being drug out of Wal-Mart because her mama won’t let her have what she wants. Seriously. I know it sounds funny, but it doesn’t feel very funny to that small child who wants her way right now.

God is refining me. Changing me. Molding me. And I am not a willing participant some days.

A lot of transformational change is happening in our lives. Not overwhelming change, but foundational, epic change. The sort of stuff that causes the path of your life to move in a different direction. Like moving from the deep south to New York City.

Our rudder is being moved. And our kayak is charting a different course than the one we had previously navigated. A very good course, but different none the less. Homeschool is a part of the new course, but God is revealing more of His amazing and freakishly scary plan. Remember, I am no friend of change or its brothers and sisters. It is time to turn the ownership of the kayak over to One who knows the future and trust Him with my tomorrows.

What are you most afraid of failing at? What would you be willing to risk if you knew success was the only outcome?

Taking the first step and facing your fear of failure is success.

Are you willing to step into the future with me? Success is our only outcome. May we leap into the abyss of future grace together!

 

raw, unedited people

I love ’em. Really, deep down love ’em. I don’t  have to “read” them to figure out where I stand with them either.

I also love them because they don’t really care what people think about them. At all.

They’re passionate even if you think they’re wrong. And you never have to guess what they’re thinking or what’s on their mind. They will tell you with sincerity of heart and no duality of focus.

They never have wedgies because they don’t ride the fence. Either they fall off into the deep lush green grass only to discover they landed face first in a pile of *&%# or they land on both feet, running to tell the next person what they think.

I would much rather listen to someone who tells it like it is as opposed to someone whose words are slippery. So slippery they slither away before you can run and get the hoe from the shed.

And I wonder why the words slither away like a snake? Do they know that duplicity will never win in the end? Maybe they know that the truth would really set them free to be raw and unedited. So they run. Because they are afraid to be true to themselves because of what other people might think or say. People pleasers constantly prop people up only to later realize that their props were made of cardboard:

“For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. You need not look at that only in a negative way. You wanted to give your heart to others, and you did so quickly and easily. But now you are being asked to let go of all these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you. You must stop being a pleaser and reclaim your identity as a free self.” Henri Nouwen

It is easier to live in hiding, double minded in all your ways than it is to look in the mirror and face the truth. A double minded man is unstable in ALL his ways (James 1:8). Double minded means saying one thing today and doing another thing tomorrow. When you live one way in front of certain friends and another way with another set of friends.

What I want to tell you is that you can stop hiding. You will never be good enough. And you will never please everybody. We need you to be YOU. Warts, wrinkles, bad breath and all.

And I pray that you choose to stop propping people up. Stop hiding behind all the right clichés and bleached white teeth. Be real with yourself. Reclaim your true identity in Him and start living full and free.

But most of all, I pray that you fall face forward off the fence into a massive pile of GRACE!! Unlimited, unmerited, pure as snow: grace. Come one, come all kind of grace. Grace that can’t be propped up or outsinned. You can never, ever do anything to keep grace and mercy from pursuing you. I don’t care how fast or far you run.

And, my friend, you can be raw and unedited with God. I encourage you to start there, stay there with Him. He is big enough for you and all that comes with you. And ask Him to show you who you can be your real self with as you try it on for size. Not the self that has to dodge hand grenades and water balloons. Not the self that has to avoid certain people. Your free self. The one who has a wedgie and would really like to get off the fence.