8.01.2014

the one who keeps me anchored





he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:6 NIV


It was coming up on 9:00a.m. when I was actually leaving the house.  My hands were full, the day was packed, and I was running late--as usual.  That's when her text came through:


"Thinking of you this am.  
How are you doing with your morning quiet time 
and making sure you get it in before you leave the house?"


(cue the conviction)

I laughed a bit and thought to myself  "what quiet time?!
then responded with an honest confession of the drying up of my spiritual life.

You just can't deny your thirst to your best friend--the one who knows you, and knows your quietness just as much as your boldness.  Kristen has stood by me through the deepest darkness of my life, and here in the height of my accomplishment and celebration she knew right where to find me; the shadows.



/////
The past few months have been amazing, no doubt.  Graduation, vacation, new job, new goals, new baby on the way.  Summer nights quickly filled the calendar and everything was going great.  But there was a shifting of my own foundation that even I couldn't really notice.  I felt the consequences, alright, but the cause was beyond me.  

I was so detached I didn't even know how I had gotten there.


As I thought about it, the journey to this lonely place started to materialize.  I remembered packing for our Europe trip and opting out of taking my bible due to its size, bolstering that with the promise to read on my phone.  (But it didn't happen).  I left my journal behind for the same reason, but my goal to collect thoughts in my notepad app also fell through.  

Before I knew it, I was returning home to begin working full-time in a ministry position, and I was drained.  




/////
The morning of Kristen's text I prayed as I fixed my hair.  I was about a month in and already exhausted.  I had the audacity to ask God "why?"  Why wasn't I thriving?  Why wasn't work easier?  Why wasn't I feeling connected to Him?  I pretty much accused Him of leaving me in the dust, all while attempting to disguise it as a good ole faithful lament.

Because it's so easy to look around you and see success and celebration in everyone else's life, then immediately compare to the lack you perceive in your own.  I work with amazing people, I follow amazing people, I'm married to an amazing person, and standing next to them, whether physically or virtually, leaves me feeling inept... and even abandoned.  

But her text, after that prayer and the conviction that followed... it challenged me to accept something.



I wasn't abandoned--I was choosing not to go to Him.  
I wasn't inept--I was losing sight of who I am in Him.

The distance was created by me.  The fears grew because they were the only thing I was feeding.




/////
To discover this on your own is one thing, but to have someone point it out is something completely different.  The fact that she could get so close to what was wrong meant that she had been close enough to know what is right.  She could be bold and check me on my faith walk because she has been bold enough to ask me to do the same for her.  She is a fan of accountability.  She is a slave to persistence and obedience.

She is the one who keeps me anchored.  

Though my course has led me through different realms of life and faith, she trusts in our common compass.  Her heart is not for my comfort, but for the growth that can only come from a healthy dose of discomfort.  I've watched the Lord stretch her heart for so many people, and I'm learning right now that it stretches for me, too.  

I started this post back in April and it sat in draft for nearly four months.  Kristen has always been there for me and I was feeling the pull to speak on it.  But soon after, my blog was put on hold.  After that, I had put my morning time on hold, too.  I basically lost touch of everything that was fueling me and then wondered why I was so drained all of the time--why my ship seemed to be consistently thrown about.

Meanwhile, Kristen repeatedly told me to blog again, not even knowing that the last post I worked on was about her steady presence in my life!  She knows that writing is my happy place, and my time to process what I speak with God about.  She knew that no writing meant no reaching, no communicating.. and no praying.


/////
My time of detachment did a real number on me.  In my mind Kristen, and everyone else for that matter, were anchored.  They succeed and trust and are blessed.  I, however, float, fear and envy.  True to James' words, I doubt, and therefore I am tossed around.  There is no stability and so I fall into the comparison trap with anyone and everyone, completely losing sight of the gifts He has blessed me with.  Completely losing sight of His presence in my life.

But she is not the one that just sails by.  She grabs my hand and tows me along.  She reminds me that I, too, have a journey to complete, and my own course to follow, with my own milestones to reach.  She reminds me that, even if it's all against the wind, it's for the finish that I must continue.



so who pulls you back onto your course?

who throws your anchor back in, and aims Scripture straight at you like a heat-seeking missile?

who knows just what to say to get your heart's attention?



Discover this person and tell them.  Tell them what it's done for you, to have a companion who knows where to find you when you don't want to be found.  Thank God right now for sending them--a messenger whom He knows possesses the power to help you turn back to Him.. and keep you anchored through the storms.


4.10.2014

a white flag moment




It's been said, and I've been offended by it -- 
that snarky jab by people saying: 

"Jesus is a crutch."

while I've barked back and stood firm on what strong faith I have -- such an oh-so-righteous and unshakeable faith -- I realized, maybe He is.  


Maybe He is something I lean on, and carry around in order to keep me steady.  

Maybe He is a name I call on when I don't have the answer.  


Maybe He is a tool I use to appear like I have it all together.  



///// 

I'm accepting this revelation, but rather than thinking that I've been just been leaning on a Savior, I actually feel like I haven't been doing His Grace any justice at all.  

Because, if we're gonna go there and say my Lord is a crutch, then let's go all the way there.



/////
Using this logic, I must accept that He's my stretcher, too.  The vessel by which my broken body and warped spirit are carried away and given first response.

And then He's my IV.  A slow drip of truth and grace delivering continuous healing, hope and rejuvenation into the devastated places of my mind and heart.  Take this away and it's only a matter of time before I'm right back to the infections of cheap thrills, a know-it-all attitude and subtle hate.. dehydrated by empty words like "that's just who I am."

He's my surgeon, for real--a mighty hand which slowly, lovingly and creatively carves away pride, judgment, and pain.  With a double-edged sword He divides the bits of my being, scrapping the worldly thoughts, insecurities, simple consciousness and anything else that leaves me appearing "familiar."

People, He's my lifelong prescription-taken on an empty stomach, revealing just how quickly He can alter my comfort when nothing else is in the way.  It's a medicine which clears the poison and makes room for life.



/////
I can't tell you how many times I laughed at Christians while I was an atheist, saying they were the weakest people on earth, completely crazy--


sheeple.  

I couldn't understand how they could just follow ritual for a make-believe God and place their trust in that same entity.

Now, I can't even begin to summon these past emotions enough to efficiently speak on them, because that girl is completely altered, folks.  That mindset was "mine" but it is being dissolved.

And the truth is, I don't want to remember what that was like.  I don't want to go back there, even if only for the sake of an accurate retelling.  I don't want to put myself back in that place where I thought I knew it all and could single-handedly fulfill my every need.

All I want is to know that the fear, anxiety and insecurity that once consumed me is on its way out, but I'm not equipped to perform such deep heart work.  I'm not selfless enough, compassionate enough or even strong enough.


But, Jesus.. 
/////
Just as I watched the people in my life change after they received Christ, I too began to change.  Some saw it, some didn't want to see it.  For the most part, however, there was a newness in my life.  I broke old habits.  I formed new ones.  I found healing.  I had comfort.  I knew hope.

I ultimately became the most strong I've ever been by simply laying down everything 

and accepting the weakness of my flesh.  





My white flag is still flying.  

My Savior is my crutch.  



Thank God He is.


3.20.2014

i quit my job today


'tis true.

After more than twenty years of hard work in the same field I have decided it is time to close that chapter of my life and move forward.  It’s a chapter I’ve truly invested in, whether with time, energy or emotion.  It’s a place where I’ve found comfort and consistency, but also pain and instability.  I’ve worked tens of thousands of hours to succeed, and have not once been celebrated for my achievements.  

And I’m beginning to understand why.


/////
You see, for the past twenty years or so I have worked as a sort of Image-Management Specialist.  Though this is a title I have made up, it’s actually a very common job.

My duties have included:

  • Being overly aware of the emotions around me and striving to single-handedly manage those emotions.
  • Aiming to conform to whatever group I was part of, in order to “fit in” or “people please.”
  • Switching on my few Type A abilities in order to appear that I “have it all together.”
  • Managing distances between people in order to control just how much they knew about me, and ultimately eliminating the need to be vulnerable with everyone.
  • Numbing myself to my true feelings and just “going along with everything.”
  • Shaming myself into believing that whatever pain I felt was self-induced and my “karma.”
  • Obsessively controlling things like my diet, medical decisions, theologies and practices so that I could somehow claim certainty in an unexplainable world.
  • Hiding my emptiness behind a “carefree” attitude.
  • Hiding my sadness behind an “independent” facade.


My time in this field of "image work" has been fascinating.  I've learned to frame messages, craft excuses, control my tone and even eliminate my entire belief system from an encounter, if needed.  

I did this in order to help the other people in that encounter be as comfortable as possible.  In my mind, I was doing right.  I was delivering the message best suited for them, accommodating their emotions, and even breaking a commitment without appearing rude or disinterested.  I spoke gently though I raged inside.  I agreed while my heart told me otherwise.

And while I walked away from some encounters knowing I had done what was right, more times than not I realized I had just sold one more irretrievable piece of my spirit.  

Before I was 25 I had worn away any softness I once carried and wrestled with more physical and emotional struggles than a young girl should have. (and lost the better part of them)  This, of course, further hardened my heart and I had a decision to make:  break it open and work it out, or continue to live this way.  


Well, emotional work takes vulnerability and authenticity;
a couple things I wasn't ready to embrace.

So I decided that I could survive.. 
as long as I never let anyone on to how I was really feeling.  


/////
Imagine living like that.  Constantly aiming to conform and subdue the self in order to best be “happy.”  Imagine putting your own thoughts and feelings on hold because you are convinced they are just too much for other people, or simply not enough, for that matter.  This is where I have lived for too long.  

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am crazy blessed to have the life I have.  But more days than not I find myself impeding my own joy and wondering when it will all come crashing down.  When I chose to survive, I also chose to believe things like “I deserve pain, not happiness” or “I’ve messed up too much to experience joy” or “I have only been given this joy in order to have it taken away.”  It's the very voice of pain.  I still didn't want to do the work to release it so I learned to manage it.  

For example, when we are getting ready to go out of town, or out-of-towners are coming in, I prepare and organize and plan, but not for the benefit of the experience.. I do this in order to survive the experience.   

Years of image-work has left me feeling inadequate, lacking, low and defeated.  Before a moment even arrives I'm already filled with anxiety because rather than live and enjoy the moment, I must work through it.  While I put on a happy face and meet the experience with pleasance, behind that is a girl who is screaming to just be loved and accepted for the mess that she truly is.  

Maybe I am, but decades of living on defense leaves little room to see that possibility.  


/////
My decision was to keep up and never let anyone see me break.  Well, all that “keeping up” will fall apart soon, and I am just strong enough to admit that I’m not strong enough to handle a collapse like that.  

So I quit.  

I quit trying to make others believe I’m ok when I’m not.  I quit trying to speak and act and appear just right in order to please the people around me.  I quit attempting perfection.  I quit wishing I was better, or prettier, or smarter or more cultured.  

If I stop it all right now and just turn in the completely opposite direction, I can live.  

Live from my heart, my emotion, my loved places.  Live for my family, my beliefs and my  own goodness.  Live for who I am, not to become what anyone else wants me to be. 

If I quit now I can discover talents and gifts that I possess, talents and gifts that couldn’t surface while I wore masks.  

If I quit now, I can just be the only person I was ever supposed to be; myself.


/////
It is a dangerous walk down a thin line between “practicing etiquette” and eroding the self, and I didn't discover which side I was on until it was close to too late.

If you happened to resonate with any of my “duties”, take it as a sign that perhaps, you and I have worked in the same department and just never met until now.  Take this as my call to you to let your mask down and claim freedom.  

Take this opportunity to reach out to someone you know is stuck in such a cycle and remind them that you believe in who they are and what they have to offer this world.  The sooner we begin to embrace our deepest identity, imperfections and all, the sooner we can embrace humanity in general.  




I quit... 
and if you come with me, 
this will be the moment of something new, and fun, 
and inspiring.. 

And we will do it together. 

So... who's coming with me?



(yes.. a wee bit of Jerry Maguire's monologue up there ;)

3.12.2014

baby, i'ts cold outside... again!


snowday number whatever

but yesterday I had the sunroof open

it's midwest living at its finest

i'm earning my stripes, that's for sure





this is a picture from our backyard, which i snagged in late summer after we moved in.
once these beauties and their friends are free, i'd like to know how what to do with them.

we have a lot of lovely landscaping to care for,
so i plan to be googling "gardening, after the thaw" today.




what's your plan for the day at home?

2.23.2014

adventures in bookbinding



at the end of December I was desperate for a project.

my sewing machine is still buried from the move,
and my knitting needles kind of broke in the middle of a sweater, 
slowing down that project.

so i googled "bookbinding"
and set to work on creating this.

my 2014 journal


  
i used whatever i had on hand to begin:
computer paper
cardboard
hammer and nail
crafter's glue
old fabric
quilting thread

i only purchased a bone folder (to ensure a beautiful crease) 
and the inside cover paper.

i've never been a big chevron person,
but this paper just screamed at me


my binding was pretty solid, 
though I failed to add the key piece of fabric 
that allows the pages to open flat


so it looks like this


and hand-sewing all those signatures 
was a pain in the place-we-do-not-speak-of


so my edges look like this


but i did nail the cover, which i was most concerned with.
i covered the cardboard with posterboard to "erase" the ripples,
then wrapped and glued the fabric.

and with a bit of extra fuss over what seemed like a lost cause,
i managed to get that groove down the spine..
the groove that made this thing look like a real book

i kind of love her :)



have you ever tried bookbinding?  
what did you find was most difficult, or worth doing differently the next time around?  


2.17.2014

is it april, yet?


the morning sky is lovely, yes, but i'm beginning to fall apart inside of this house, under layers of clothing.

anyone else?

i just want iced tea and an open window.  i've started cooking summer-like dinners and trying to wear more color.  but it's been a struggle to just keep thinking this way, let alone act like it.  

what are you doing to survive the last leg of winter?


2.11.2014

eli's birth story, part 2 -- Happy Birthday Eli!!!

Since I'd been laboring so long I was immediately a cautionary patient.  My water hadn't broken and so they did that for me to get things moving.  They also hooked me up to some Pitocin.  All things I didn't want but this was such a long labor that they were worried about the stress on him.  Understandable, considering the last 48 hours.  Amanda also said that she felt it was necessary so I was happy to accept the interventions.  After all, we had seriously done Everything to get him to move around and get labor going.



Well into the few hours of labor in the hospital, his heart-rate started to decelerate, which did not make the staff happy.  I'd be in the middle of a contraction and they would tell me to move this way or that way to stabilize his heart-rate and I couldn't get up and move quickly because of the pain.  So I opted for the lowest dose of an epidural to be able to move on demand, and also keep the pains of the Pitocin contractions down so I could get some sleep before pushing.  I no sooner than dozed off when the docs were in for the first time because of a major deceleration.  I moved as directed to take the pressure off the cord or move him in such a way that it would increase again.  But they continued as the contractions grew stronger, and he was still presenting himself in a posterior, almost transverse way on my cervix.  After the collective hours which added up to days of labor, we all agreed that his body just wasn't strong enough to handle the contractions needed to continue with a natural delivery.  I was sad, of course, but more worried of going further.  So surgery happened, and luckily I did not need complete anesthesia since the epidural was in place.  They just turned it up and proceeded and I got to wheel back to my room with him in my arms.  We got hooked up to our antibiotics, met our nurse, and then he latched on and ate like a champ *smile*


The rest is pretty self-explanatory..






During surgery I lost around two pints of blood, so that was a freak out moment.  Thomas held Eli next to me and kept me calm as I shook profusely from the shock of losing that much blood.  The medical conclusion was that the long labor put so much strain on me that I had developed and infection.  I developed a high temperature during surgery, as well as experienced the blood loss, and so we camped out for a few nights.  But by the time we got back to the apartment, it was a very easy transition from bright lights and a lumpy bed to the warm glow of home sweet home.










Ok, and since I love you all so much, I guess I'll leave you with the glorious belly shots;  The belly shots.  I was wearing approximately 51 pounds in these pictures.  My final weigh in came in at 52lbs and that was 9 days after these pictures were taken.




He was one hefty little prince, 
and a heck of a workout to get him here, 
but worth every bit of it.

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