Singing A New Song

One year ago… today…  I drove away from home. It’s the second time in my life when all my possessions were tucked away into a truck to be hauled miles and miles away from the place I called home.

When I left Michigan, it was hard, but it was for work. I didn’t have a lot of options and that seemed like the best one. When I left the eastern panhandle of West Virginia/northern Virginia area, it was a totally different move.

A kicking and screaming move.

An exciting move.

A “I’m scared to death to do this” move.

A “I have peace, but no understanding” move.

A fully surrendered move.

Now, here I sit, one year later, and I’ve gained no more understanding than I had a year ago. I almost wrote this post with the intent to write about all the things I miss. The people I love. The job I left. The church that welcomed me into her arms every week and the hugs that embraced me – tightly and with a depth of love I long for today.

I can’t go there, though. It isn’t healthy for me and that isn’t where God is calling me to focus. He doesn’t want us looking back and living in the place He no longer has for us. When Christ calls us to Him, it’s important to keep our attention on the road ahead, no matter how frustrated we are with the process. No matter how foggy or dimly lit that road might be.

So, as you can imagine, I’ve been pouring over different scriptures to walk me along this path, looking for ways to intentionally seek after God’s direction, and turn into myself to see how He’s trying to transform me through this process.

Here are some things I’ve had to cling to during this process:

Connect. With God. With people.

Be useful. To God. To others.

Learn. More about God. More about others.

Love. Intentionally and completely.

No matter where we are in life, the road less travelled or often travelled, those things listed above will always be important. When things might not make sense to us or our world is confusing, those things above will always remain. They allow us the chance to step outside our own self and look at the bigger picture. The fullness of Him and His purpose.

It’s easy to sit in our puddle, pool, or pit of self-pity or doubt or funk. The truth is, though, that we need to be running harder and faster after Him. We need to have a circle of people surrounding us. I have a small group of ladies that I’m constantly throwing out prayer requests to because I trust them and love them. I know they feel the same about me. We all have the same goal when we’re living in community together – even if it’s 1,000+ miles apart. We’re called to walk life with others, be prayerful for others, and help those God puts in our life to know Jesus a little better every day.

Tonight, I will be hosting my first book study here in the great state of Texas, with a small group of women I’ve come to know. While I did not schedule it to begin on this day because of the whole “one year ago today” thing… this morning I’m sorta sitting here in awe at how God works out these little confirmations and reminders for us to hold onto.

He is good. All the tinewsongme. All the time. He is good.

***

You’ve brought me to the end of myself
This has been the longest road
Just when my hallelujah was tired
You gave me a new song

I’m letting go
I’m letting go
I’m letting go
Falling into You

I confess I still get scared sometimes
But perfect love comes rushing in
And all the lies screamed inside go silent
The moment You begin

I’m letting go
I’m letting go
I’m letting go

Falling into You

You remind me
Of things forgotten
You unwind me
Until I’m totally undone
And with Your arms around me
Fear was no match for Your love
Now You’ve won me

And if I lived a thousand lifetimes
And wrote a song for every day
Still there would be no way to say
How You have loved me

Oh, how You love me
And that’s how You’ve won me

 

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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.

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?

Stuck Study – delayed!

So, I realized that maybe I didn’t give enough time between Christmas, New Years, and the beginning of this study. We are going to start it on the 13th instead of the 6th. I hope that many of you can make it. If you need more information about the study, please see my earlier post on it.

I have the Facebook page created, but it’s a secret page, so we will need a personal invite to the page. I am really excited about this study and I hope that we can all learn something from it!

Hey, I’ll see y’all there!

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Stuck! – Coming soon!

stuck__92419.1369317995.386.513   Do you ever feel Stuck?

Beginning January 6th, Unfolding Lovely will be hosting this study online. I will create a Facebook page, specifically for us to work through this book together. It will be a secret board, so we won’t have to worry about being intruded on. My desire it to make it as much like a small group experience as possible, but for women I know ALL over the place!

If you’d like more information about the study, please go here to see Jennie’s video. If you would like to participate, please purchase the participant’s book at Amazon. I’m not sure, yet, how long the study will take us, I’m still thinking through the details. I wanted the information to get out as soon as possible, though.

There are short session videos which will be posted on the Facebook page for us to watch as we work through the series together. Since the page will be secret, you’ll have to let me know if you’re interested so I can add you to the page, once it’s created.

I’m SO excited about this opportunity! I hope that you’re able to join me.