Tag Archive | Friendship

Blessing Reminders

Blessings are sometimes overlooked. I’m totally guilty.

A friend of mine said to me today, “blessings come very easily for you. It’s not a bad thing, you’ve been such a blessing to other people and now you’re reaping that reward.”

What? What blessings? Do you know that I’m praying for this, and this, and that? And this one thing I’ve been praying for 15 years! This other thing I’ve been praying for almost two years! I have this on my list and this and that one thing. I’m waiting for ALL of these things or at least one to pan out for me. I just need to catch a break.

Wablessed-aviciih Wah Wah Wahhhh! WAH!

I didn’t say all that. Inside my head, though, I did. Until…

I realized how right she was and how grateful I am that she called me on it.

In the recent months, I’ve been showered with blessings. Help with car repairs, birthday gifts I don’t deserve, meals at nice restaurants that I wouldn’t normally go to, even a couple trips because of the generosity of those who love me. I’ve had friends purge their closets and I’ve acquired the rewards. People have been generous and kind to my man-child.

There really are so many things! The problem is that my focus keeps being drawn to the things I’m not receiving. The things I think I *really* want/need, but aren’t coming to fruition.

Help me, God, I’m a blind, thankless woman who can’t even appreciate (beyond the immediate appreciation) the blessings that have come to me because I’m so determined to keep my eye on the blaringly obvious things that I feel are still missing.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who has done this… right? Back me up here…

So, take a few minutes… do an internal audit of the things happening around you, to you, and for you. Those, my friend, are blessings.

It’s too easy to slip into that place of “not enough” or “why not me?” Flip that focus switch, friends. Allow God to show you the work He’s doing for you, how He’s providing, and how He’s lining up His people on your behalf.

He is a good, kind, gracious, loving God. Amen!

 

The day home met me in Nebraska

She walked in the room. My eyes met hers, I can’t say who saw who first, but there we were – eyes locked and her gentle wave of acknowledgement. I jumped up from my seat and as quickly as I could, without breaking into a run (like, who am I kidding, right?!), made my way into her arms that were opened wide to draw my weary from travel soul into herself. And there, right on her pretty sweatered shoulder, my heart broke open and poured out of my eyeballs.

Like, really, who hugs someone and just cries all over her? I do. I did. And I will in the future, I’m sure of it. At that moment, she represented everything that was home to me. She was my sister, my connection, my friend, my community.

The oddest thing is that I’ve only actually been in her presence on two occasions – both of which I was a complete wreck and in the weirdest seasons of my life. In the fall of 2013, I signed up for a simulcast IF:Gathering and searched for one close to me, it was her home, in VA. Unfortunately, I ended up having to back out because of a commitment with church. However, we connected over Facebook and realized we had some common friends and lived relatively close to one another and decided to meet for coffee.

Right there, in my messiest season, in the middle of the Starbucks at Target, I blabbered and blabbered about life, church, ministry, kids, pain, joy, and anything else that came up. She received with grace on top of grace many pieces of my undoing. I’ve thought back to that time we had and know that I completely monopolized her time, her heart, and her kindness because she took the time to ask me questions and showed a desire to know me. She really was being Jesus with skin for me that day. I don’t know if she knows that…

Her story is hers to tell and I won’t share that, but I will share that all the failings I ever felt in motherhood and ministry and life were not ones I felt alone. And sometimes, no matter how connected we are or how involved we are, our failures still seem to burrow into our ears during the night when our hearts seem heaviest. Our babes will go through life in this world and succumb to the pitfalls, temptations, and veer their way right off the course we have planned for them. We will all have to figure out how to deal with those things with our family, our history, and our expectations in mind. What works for one family won’t always work for another. And she reminded me of that.

The next time we got the chance to connect was in April 2014 at the Winsome Retreat that she hosts in Pennsylvania. If you are close to there or can get there – GO! I’m telling you, just go. Do it. Be there. While we didn’t have much one-on-one time, she did speak and teach and share her passions and burdens with us.PreApproved

I know I’ll share a lot of things that happened this weekend at the Refresh my Heart conference, but for now, I want to share some things that Kim Hyland (that’s the *her* of whom I speak) spoke about over the weekend. The whole conference was about being “preapproved” by God. Being comfortable with who we are as women and accepting whom God has called each of us to be. One of the things Kim said during her session was “let’s be comfortable with our imperfections.” Right? How many times do we sit in front of the mirror only to turn on ourselves and become our very worst enemy? We would never talk to our friends the way we talk to ourselves.

“Living in the light of the Gospel is redeeming,” she said. When we take our time to come out of our own minds, being tempted by the lies of the enemy, we can see His light and His goodness for us. We don’t have to live in the darkness and the lies and the dimming of our spirit that satan so desperately tries to drown us in. Instead, we see the Light of the Gospel and we choose to walk in it because it’s for our own good—our own redemption.

She goes on to say, “God’s wants to conform me to the image of Jesus and His plan will not be thwarted.” In other words, I can’t UNDO how God has already made me. He has created me and created you and His sole purpose was to make us in His image and for His purpose. His impression of us isn’t going to change based on how we perceive ourselves. We are His perfect design. Kim translated one version of the word abide (menó) in Greek as: to remain as one is, not to become another or different. Christ has called us to remain in Him. We are made to be who we are for the plans He has for us. Not to become like those around us or to fall into the comparison trap or to wish we were more like so and so, or had more like so and so, or were better like so and so. “We are already confirmed by God,” she says and we don’t need to look for our confirmation from any other source.

Friends, there are so many takeaways I want you to have from this post.

One, do not ever discount the impact that one little coffee, with one broken soul, might have in the big scheme of things.

Two, do not discount that friendships can and are made, grown, and will flourish because of social media, annual conferences, blogs, and speaking engagements. It’s confirmed and many of my dearest people are those I met because of virtual opportunities.

Three, you are loved.

Four, you are made by Him, for Him, and because of Him. You are not a mistake. Nothing about you is a mistake.

Five, in case you didn’t see it the first time, you.are.loved. Deeply. Wildly. Over-the-top kinda loved.

Oh, to be loved…

Valentine’s Day.

It used to be cute and fun when my man child was young and we did little valentines that I always forgot about until the last minute. Gimme a break, y’all… this was back in the days before Pinterest and I was a young, dumb, single mom… I forgot these things! So it was fun to do that “oh crap!” scramble to get it all done in time for school in the morning.

Then he grew up. It wasn’t cute and fun anymore. It became stupid. I became cynical. It was a day to honor something I’d never really been able to get my hands on and that pissed me off. Everyone had love and I didn’t! Just a little hyperbole and cynicism to make your day brighter!

One day, though, over the last couple of years and even more so this year, all that just changed.

Yes! We should be falling deeper in love every day.

Yes! We should show the person we love how important and cherished they are every day!-1572956417

Yes! We shouldn’t need a “holiday” for us to be able to express our love.

But, gosh… really? What’s so wrong about having a day to honor love? A day to express our commitment and joy to someone else? Why and how has is become a horrible thing?

We have honorarium days of all sorts. Why should love be shafted?

Also, the more and more I come to realize that I may never have “a love” with which I can spend this day; I’m reminded of all the ways and people to whom I can show love to on this day.

We don’t always understand another person’s tenderness toward this day. Someone who may have a lost love or a divorced love or a widowed love or on and on… that’s where my heart longs to be today.

So what if I don’t “have a love” per se because we all have SOMEONE to love and to whom we can show our love. Christ’s love through us.

Go love someone today. Don’t be stingy with something that was so freely given to you. Don’t be cynical and simple-minded to a day that might be nothing to you. Think about how you can be a blessing, how you can be like Jesus, with skin on, who just wants to show kindness and love to another person.

Today — I love Valentine’s Day!

P.S. I love it most because as I’m getting ready to post this, I get a message, from a sweet sister I barely know in the flesh, but have had the pleasure of knowing her family for years and getting to know her more through social media, send me a sweet encouragement – straight from her mouth, inspired by Christ’s love, and deep into my heart places. I am wildly loved. You are too.

My cup is full… and then some.

Today was beautiful with just a splash of suckiness…

Suckiness is not a real word. I made it up. It’s gonna be all right. And it was only a little “sucky” because I was sad.

For seven years, I’ve been held tight by an organization that molded me. Changed me. Loved me. Cherished me.

My heart feels full within those walls.

Today was beautiful because I had the opportunity to feel loved by so many of my coworkers. I’m not just talking about “there, there, darling” sort of love. I mean soul permeating love.

Love that floods my spirit. Fills my empty places. Pours over me. Envelopes.

I’ve spent most of my life not knowing how to receive love. This season of my life has been about learning exactly how to do that. I’ve had the very finest teachers and examples around me. I’ve had people who shine God’s love, so brightly, surround me for seven years.

I’ve witnessed men love their wives. Their babes. Others. Jesus. I’ve seen women turn to one another in prayer. I’ve been privileged to walk with young people while they get their feet wet in the “real world” for the first time. I’ve seen divorce up close. I’ve watched countless women become moms. I’ve held babies and babies and more babies. I’ve seen people I love fall apart and be knitted back together. I’ve had a front row seat to watch Godly leadership in full force. I’ve watched people come and others go. I’ve grown. I’ve changed.

I’m better still. He planted me in that place. For that time. For His purpose.

In this season, I’ve learned that God…

… is *the* redeemermy cup overflows pyp 001

… is my only hope

… goes before me

… loves with a relentless love

… has grace without limit

… shows mercy that washes my soul

… sees me as beautiful

… gives me community

… has a purpose for me that I’ve only just begun to see fully

… desires all of me

Most of all, I’ve learned that God loves me in so many ways. He loves me as His daughter and His beloved, for sure. But He also loves me in a physical way that is only understandable because of how I know Him. He has provided me with a group of cherished friends. A collection of confidants. A gathering of His people. This is what HE gave ME for no reason at all. Surely not because I deserved it. Not because I earned it or worked for it… but as His gift to me. He looked into my heart and knew who to place in those gaps and fractures.

He knew who would love me best.

He did that for me.

He saw beyond my filthy rags and saw the woman I’m meant to be.

This door has closed. He is paving the way into my unknown.

Surrender. Fully. Trust. Completely.

I am His and He is mine.

Around the world… err… states!

Still.

I need that right now.

In the last few months, I’ve been globetrotting. In my desire to do as much as possible before leaving, it’s meant… you know, doing as much as possible before leaving!

I’m thankful. So thankful.

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In February, I was in North Carolina meeting

with some friends for the first time.


 

 

 

Winsome happened in Pennsylvania at the beginning of April.

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Me and my favorite guy in New York City.

 

 

 

 

 

 We hit a day trip to New York City in mid-late April.

 

 

 

 

 

In early May, I went to Texas for work and took an extra couple of days to search for an apartment.

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Texas, baby!

 

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The beautiful Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica mountains

 

 

 

 

At the end of May, we were in California for work and sun poisoning… though, that last bit was a surprise! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Tennessee trip with all my friends!

 

 

 

 

Then, finally, last weekend I was able to visit the friends I met in NC, in Tennessee.

 

 

 

I’ve been blessed. Over and over and over again.

On Monday, I’ll be starting to wrap up my final two weeks at work. I’m grateful that I get to be around for one more summer picnic, happening next week.  I’m not looking forward to packing my office! I didn’t know I’d ever leave – I gots lots of stuff there!

While I need my still, it isn’t yet time for that. It will be. My still will come soon enough. For now, I beg patience while I just deal with life.

To be known…

616b14fcc847f233ae469b6d53c2e0a0This weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to tuck away at a charming retreat center, in a wee bit of a town, in Pennsylvania. I’ve been writing about forty-seven blog posts in my head every time I had a free moment. Just bits and pieces of things I wanted to be sure to share.

If you’ve gone to retreats, you know that sometimes you need time to work through and process what happened during that time away. It’s true. While I’ve been thinking about what to share, I know it’s important, for now, to sit in it – process – and learn. Then, when God has had time to cement these truths in my heart, I’ll be able to share them in a way that’s much more cohesive and a lot less scattered heart emotions. So, be on the lookout for those updates and news about the wonderful women and mission of the hostess. Also, about some of the organizations I was able to learn about a little more.

In the meantime, I had some quiet time on the way home and it allowed me to spend some time with my God. With my heart. With my head.

This time alone, with nothing special waiting for me – I wasn’t on my way to work, to meet anyone, to do anything… it was just time in the car. God and me. And it was so good. He reveals Himself to me in the car so often. I find myself surrendering to Him in that time, too. Who knew a car could become a sanctuary? =]

I have a huge heart for people. I have a natural bend toward the young people and the women, but men aren’t excluded either. I love to love. I’m in love with love. I love grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. Healing. Everything that spouts from love, I love.

I want to have relationship with people. I want to know, love, heal, carry burdens, work through problems, teach, learn, and walk through life with people I meet. I want to be a helper and a giver.

Gosh, those are all good things to be! Some may say that it’s pretty exceptional that I have a desire to be those things for other people.

And, maybe, if there were some balance to it, it would be exceptional.

I’ve got no balance. Or very little balance. Therefore, it’s not all that exceptional. It’s pretty selfish on my part.

I want to *know* you, but I want to build solid walls around myself so that you can’t know me in return.

For those who knew about my move to Texas while away this weekend, it was nice to say, when they would ask why I was going there, “because that’s where God wants me!” It’s true; of course… that IS where God wants me.

But…

That has also become my safe answer. The one that sits on the surface. The one that doesn’t really dig into why I’m going. The one that has walls around my heart so that no one can get close enough to *know* me.

I came away from this weekend getting to know so many women. I was able to pray with some. Eat with many. Learn about trials and triumphs. I am so grateful for those who shared a piece of their heart with me.

What scares me, just a little bit, is that I may have just come off as a woman with a crazy sense of adventure and a lot of faith. While both of those are true, in the bigger picture, I was a coward and didn’t allow anyone to see into my own heart. I kept it locked away in its safe place. I kept it private. I kept it all to myself. I didn’t allow myself to be known.

When I choose to jump into relationship with people, I’m all in. All vulnerabilities are set on the table. I leave myself wide open. Sometimes… I get hurt. Sometimes… it’s too wonderful to describe. I tend to be all in or all out. This weekend, I kept my heart all tucked away. I’m already feeling sad about that choice and I know it’ll have its own consequences. I’ll have to deal with those when I face them. I’ve felt a little heart trampled lately and, unfortunately, this type of self-preservation was how I chose to protect myself. It was wrong. I was wrong.

The good news is this… Our God is big, merciful, and almighty! Isn’t that the very best thing? When He reveals to us ways in which we failed or didn’t follow through, we know that He is on our side to make it right. He will work with us to bring us revelation and redemption.

One of the things I most love to teach about is how to build good, solid, healthy relationships. How to be transparent and authentic. How to be open, approachable, and reachable. How to be vulnerable. How to be available. How to be willing and intentional. Those are all things I strive to be. And, sometimes, I’m just not.

I’m a work in progress. He’s not done with me yet. Amen?

What’s Kept Me Going This Week

Here is a list of things I’ve been reading, listening to, sitting in, resting upon, being filled with, and fiercely crying about over the last week.

Of course, most obviously, is the news I shared in my previous post. The news I’ve been sitting on for months, that has been making me physically sick trying to keep it secret, has finally been let out of the bag. I’m grateful. Aside from all the tears, my tummy hasn’t felt better in a long time. =]

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From Donald Miller: “I’ll cling to Jesus and try my best.” Yes. Thank you. That’s all I got. I will cling and cling. And I’ll still make mistakes. I’m flesh. He’s God. I’m clingin, y’all!

This blog post, from Jamie The Very Worst Missionary, broke me the other day. And filled me right back up.

Bruxy Cavey, a pastor and author from Canada, gave me (well, okay, all of us!) this 15 minute message on the Gospel in  1, 3, and 30 words. It was beautiful. And I loved it. I love him. He speaks to me! Check it out!

My precious time getting my butt kicked at the gym, followed by a 1300 calorie salad, with one of my most cherished friends. A lunch date with another cherished friend, along with an upcoming movie date. Heart-to-hearts with my co-workers. I’m glad I have 4 months to say goodbye. I’m going to need it.

This song. On repeat. All week. “I’m standing with the faith of a miracle maker.”