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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

the sign 

I had forgotten how much I take for granted thanks to modern at-your-fingertips technology until yesterday when I couldn’t use my GPS for directions because the location that I was traveling to was in the middle of Timbuktu. I literally had to rely on…SPOKEN (or in this case, TEXTED) directions. Do you know what that means? It means I had to PAY ACTUAL ATTENTION. I mean, WHO does that?

Apparently I haven’t for a long time.

So…I’m driving along. I go over the WHOLE mountain. I look for the “first road on the left after you go over the whole mountain.” I start to get nervous because there’s what looks like real roads but maybe they’re driveways? I can’t tell and I begin to think I missed the turn and my throat becomes scratchy and I feel like I need to reapply deodorant **BUT** I see a small sign along the road that said “wedding” with an arrow pointing straight ahead and I sigh. OUT. LOUD. **glee** It was perfect. I was encouraged as my sweaty self sat in the driver’s seat feeling all out of sorts because I was in the middle of actual NO WHERE (a real place. i have proof) with NO CELL SERVICE. I mean, really. How do we as a people know anything about any thing without service?

We don’t.

And then, another sign. I was almost there. SO close. The heat under my arms was letting up and I was encouraged all the more.

Those two small signs were just what I needed to assure me I was traveling on the right road and that I indeed made the RIGHT left turn because for a few minutes, I was getting kind of doubty. Those signs made me remember how important it is to pay attention to what’s going on around me and to pay attention to the details. It also made me grateful. SO grateful. I know those signs there for everyone and I know actual people put them there to help wedding guest meander their way through actual nowhere but that first sign was from God Himself. It gave me HOPE. It was ENCOURAGING.

I love it when He reveals Himself in my every day life using random people and things like wooden signs. Sometimes, it’s been a little red bird, a text from a friend or a word from someone who knows nothing about my current situation and they flutter through my day and say just the right word and it gives me that assurance again…not necessarily that I am DOING all the “right” things and that I am on the “right” path, but that He… God Himself, is WITH me.

$$THAT right there is money$$

We can’t always have cell service or GPS. We won’t always feel confident and assured. Sometimes we get a little shaky and doubt DOES try to press in. If you don’t, even just a little, I have five words for you “Get away from me Satan.” Be human. Presence in the middle of Timbuktu is vital, especially when you are feeling kind of alone and doubty, even if it’s JUST a feeling…so if you find yourself there, whatever the form, breathe. Take the heat and keep your eyes and your ears open. Anticipate His withness…however.

WHOever.

the burn

It is really hard to show up and do your part knowing you are dependent on someone else to show up and do theirs…

And they don’t.

I wish I could say that I am writing this from a “Been there, done that,”point-of-view, but I can’t. My match has been lit and I am sitting. On fire.

As I sit here, I hear all the “RIGHT THINGS” in my head. I hear, “You have the mind of Christ and these thoughts that you have in your head right now are not. Tisk Tisk.”

I scowl. “Shut up.”

Truly I say to you, unequally yoked IS NOT FAIR. This is one of the many reasons why relying ON others is difficult for me at times. I try, I swear I try, and I get let down and here I am all over again **strike**

I am trying so hard to reconcile what I feel with what I know in my head…and Jesus sits to my side and whispers, “It’s your heart. Pay attention right now to your heart. It is closing…”

Friends, there is nothing quite like having THAT reality shoved in your face…

1 hour later…

An unexpected side conversation took my time and attention off of my brew. Hindsight..this was best. Idleness just gave me too much time to roll the SAME thought through my head and I appreciate focusing on someone else other than POOR ME because that is what IT’S NOT FAIRdoes and it does it with a VENGEANCE. You entertain it ONE TIME and it takes OVER the house and YOU become the hostage.

So here is what I’ve learned in my two-hour jaunt with the burn…

***It’s people. Today wasn’t my turn but my experience tells me that perhaps tomorrow will be. I will show up disshelved and unprepared to do life and I will INCONVENIENCE another living being. They will strike THEIR match on MY heel. Made IN relationship, FOR relationship….this needs to remain the focus.

Tomorrows another day. TAG…someone else please be IT!

***The match is going to strike. I am human. Just because I began to think and feel all this STUFF, doesn’t mean I am failing at life nor does it mean that it’s the end of the world and all is doomed. It just another freakin’ amazing opportunity to put actual feet to my faith. “What is going on inside of me?” Yeah…not good things. STILL WORK TO DO and THAT I can handle.

Commence the continuing saga of “Conversations with Jesus.” Airing daily at theater near you.

***OK so the burn hurts. It hurts my heart which is why the emotions come and the head begins to get all dizzy and flooded with thoughts. It hurt because it’s people. People I love. People I trust. It hurts to get let down. It hurts to take things seriously and see people as important and then when it goes South, it feels like “If they really cared or saw me with the same value and worth as I see them, this would not have happeneded.”

Lie.

The burn helps me realize WHO I AM. Would I still show up the same, fully me, doing MY part? YES. That is one thing I do not want to be contingent on someone else. I do it because it’s a part of me and is nonnegotiable. I think about Jesus. He is who He says He is regardless if I believe in Him, regardless if I am in relationship with Him. I think about all the times I have NOT…and He still IS. Does that strike His match?

His heart remains open to me. No matter how hot the heat…

So friends, WHEN you find yourself in disappointments seat and hurt is driving you straight into a fiery inferno…TAKE A STEP BACK. Take a small piece of your time and GAIN PERSPECTIVE. Go for a walk. Talk to the dog. Listen to someone else share about their day. Does this person really have that much control over you that they have officially RUINED YOUR LIFE becuase they didn’t live up to your expecations? If so, fine. Go right ahead and light yourself on fire and tomorrow or the day after or the month after that, WHEN IT’S YOUR TURN and YOU screw it all up and let the entire world down….

I pray that mercy, grace and unlimited amounts of love find you and tell you…

It’s time to move on. Chin up. Tomorrow is another day.

 

come close 

Chow to chow. Sunday to Sunday. It’s how my son is being encouraged to count his week, therefore it is how I will count mine. Take it one meal at a time, one week at a time and today marks one week since his journey began to Parris Island for boot camp. Twelve more to go.

I’ve been doing good which translates to…I have kept my crying and reminiscing to a minimum, letting go is hard and this is my first time with THIS kid. On Sunday I walked into church and just happened to glance to my left and saw Verne who’s a Marine…and my “I can do hard things” attitude turned into a big soppy puddle of crocodile tears.

I miss my son.

So I buckled down and just refused to look in his direction. LIKE NOT AT ALL. Looking at him brought up all these feelings and I had told myself I was good and no tears convinced me I was winning when in reality, all I wanted to do was hug the man and his wife (which I later did). At that moment, they were the closest most tangible form of my son I had.

Somewhere I have believed the lie that enough is enough. I’ve cried my tears. Now it’s time to let go and STOP. 

Moral of this sad story? It would be easy to avoid hard things right now which is exactly what I have done with most of my life. Run. Avoided. Deflected. Blamed and Hid. When things got tough, I’d rather do all of the above for a season or three rather than deal which in all reality, MAKES THINGS WORSE because it never goes away…it just gets buried somewhere deep and resurfaces at the most God-awful times on the most unsuspecting people.

My thoughts went to Jesus and I thought of all the times I have probably been THE WORST and in my head, He has had every reason in the book to avoid me at all cost because I think it must be hard to be in my presence when I’m being so difficult. But He stays. FOR THE LOVE. I am not used to that. I am used to being punished by being sent to my room in silence and forgotten about for hours NOT PURSUED. NOT HUGGED. SURELY NOT LOVED. But He draws near and close when the tears flow. When those big crocodile tears catch me being open-hearted and vulnerable, He embraces. He reminds me to keep my eyes on Him. To refocus.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. – James 4:8

So if I have any advice to give today it is this…don’t run when you WANT to stay. When you WANT to talk it out, TALK IT OUT. When you WANT to draw close…DRAW CLOSE. Come near. Abide. Knowing that you want to and then don’t because of fear (anger, hurt, offense) is tortuous. And when you DO NOT WANT to, muster every ounce of intentionality in you and take a step forward. Do not let the sun go down…THIS is the tricky one because most times, my turn-and-run feelings convince me I am justified in my avoidance and departure and a closed heart is stubborn heart…

DO. NOT. LET. YOUR. HEART. CLOSE. 

Stay in the want-to zone, even if you get a little mad.

Because in the very big scheme of this great big life, there is nothing quite worth losing a relationship over. Nothing.

the game

Do you remember that game we all played growing up called “musical chairs”? The game where there were only a certain number of seats which meant only a certain number of spaces in which to sit when the music stopped. Someone was always left out. Someone was always pushing to get ahead.

Child’s play at its finest.

Except I’ve found myself throughout my adult life still playing musical chairs like I’m a guest at a neighbors birthday party. I’ve pushed and shoved my way to a seat and felt that I was winning at life because of it and I’ve been left out, watching those who had a coveted chair smile and wave like they were in some parade.

I think some of this was perception and some of it was reality, but I’d like to add…more times than not, I’ve been one hundred percent inaccurate when it comes to the motives of other people in the game. They are NOT trying to shove. They are NOT trying to gloat. They are just as caught up AS I AM because WHO in their right mind signs up for this type of fresh hell?

So this past  year, I have been intentionally discovering HOW to remove myself from the game and WHY I ever played it because really, that is what it is. One big fat ginormous game that makes me feel like I’m a part of some three-ring circus, becoming the table talk at some dinner party on a Saturday night. It’s just something so vicious and consuming that we get caught up and swept away…

Competing.

With WHO? With YOU.

Because it’s never enough.

So what to do? Cheer. The person in front of you and the person behind are NOT your opponent so as the music plays, cheer them on. As you round another chair…tell the one in front to keep going. TO. NOT. STOP. That they have what it takes to lead and lead well. To the one behind, tell them that they can do it. Sincerely. They have on the inside of them what is needed to overcome and push ahead. TO. NOT. QUIT. Seriously, be a cheerleader for hire except your currency is NOT cash but seeing people realize and then exceed their potential.

Cheering is not a gift, a calling or some cute outfit that stands on the sidelines with big hair and a loud voice. You do not need any appointed title…you just need to SEE the one in the front and the one behind you for WHO they are because they are not the threat to your seat.

YOU are.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

sober

It’s a short distance from the recruiters office to our house but the silence heading home made it feel as if it was twice as long of a trip. We are now five days out and reality is settling in.

Sergeant Hall stood before four families and spoke in detail as to what to expect over the next few days and weeks while our boys are at boot camp. He was thorough and answered all questions with kindness and I appreciated his desire to prepare us. However, his details and tips left my imagination wander as it pleased and my brain began playing games with my heart. The next thirteen weeks? I cannot fathom what Tristan will endure. As a mother, as MY sons mother, the recruiters words were daunting because I know they will soon be a reality. I had known boot camp was one of the hardest endeavors EVER, but sitting and listening to our sons Marine recruiter share honestly and openly as to what to prepare for left a very large lump in my throat that only crying freed.

Sober. 

My Grandfather served in the Navy and my Uncle Dick, the Army. Outside of that, we have no military experience as a family except we proudly stand, we honor, we show respect and more times than not, my husband pays for an enlisted service man or woman’s meal. Our reality is pushing us far beyond prepping for summer camp and college. Those are both HARD things but this is going to be a new way living life for us all and that realization is sinking deep within my soul and I find myself grasping for something known in a world of unknowns and my hands fumble.

Sober.

Maybe it’s all just a little real because our oldest daughter also enlisted (just six days ago) and will serve in the Navy. She ships off to boot camp FIVE days after our sons graduates from his. My children are giving my heart a run for its money because we will endure twenty-two weeks of back-to-back boot camps and from there…well, I’ll think about that another time.

And maybe it’s because I haven’t slept well over the last week because I’ve allowed my brain and my heart to wonder and worry over details and tips I have no clue of and maybe, just maybe it’s because just days ago I had the honor of shaking the hand of Marine Sergeant Zachary Stinson who is a hometown hero that served our country in Afghanistan in 2010. Google him please if you want to know what honor and integrity look like. That hand shake drove it home fast and hard. This is all increasingly real because men like Zach are real. They are not just actors in some movie. They are someone’s son and at one time he showed up for boot camp, willing and ready to serve like the rest.

Just like his younger brother is now…with my son.

Sober. 

I realize the lump in my throat that only crying frees has been the same lump I’ve had when I rise to my feet and summon my heart to stand at attention before our great flag and the men and women who represent it. It’s the realization that many have paid the tab for me and have never forwarded me the bill and for that, I’m indebted. It is sobering knowing they showed up scared but brave and gave their all and here I sit, in my house, seemingly unaffected with relatively no clue of the cost. But today I realize the cost, even if in minuscule ways. Maybe all mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and loved ones understand the cost a bit more as they prepare to say good-bye…I know I do and I haven’t even begun to cross the threshold that most have.

My sobriety brings with it a large range of emotions and I know that’s ok. I am letting them come and go and I tarry on. I am proud most minutes, but I would be the world’s biggest liar if I said I haven’t been found in the kitchen crying over small things because the big things feel too great to bear. It’s loves great weight and it’s heavy. Period. Sobriety brings with it the knowledge that though love is heavy and hard, it also bears ALL things, believes ALL things, hopes ALL things, and endures ALL thing. It is where I choose to live from. Everything we encounter in life…every person and every situation is an opportunity to be both a teacher and student…learning WHO love is, being WHO love is and the great thing is, we don’t necessarily GET TO CHOOSE which we will be. Teacher or Student? We become what is needed.

Sober.

My great commisssion is this: Live and love today, as fully and purposefully as you can. Letting go in life is continual and I don’t believe it ever gets easy. If there is anything I could tell young mama’s in the thick of raising up littles, it is this: Don’t waste your time away wishing they’d grow up so you can have some semblence of the life you knew before kids back. Being a parent is one of the greatest gifts God has given so pour into your kids when they are small and then step back as they grow, mature and independently think and act. Give them room to become WHO they were created to be. Give them freedom to make mistakes and victoriously march ahead and cheer them on as loud as you can during BOTH with every ounce of LOVE in you.

Becuase there is so much love in you and leting go is what we’re to do.

Love covers all, this I will hold onto and you should too no matter what stage of life you are in. Love will cover my son and his friends. Love will remain with me and go with them and will teach us ALL in between our time together how to let go, stand back proud and cheer loud, FOR one another.

It is what Love does. Love abides in us, for us, through us TO them. It’s the great circle of life and I choose gratitude in each and every season.

 

leave them better

Every year our family vacations at the beach over the week of July 4th and it’s one of THE most anticipated weeks of our year. This year was no different. We lucked into renting a private home for the last eleven of the twelve years we’ve been traipsing our family to Rehoboth, the only thing we had to do when it was time to leave was CLEAN the home (no maid service) and make sure ALL was back in order.

ALL means ALL. 

It was a lot of work but we’d wake up on Sundays and begin. Linen off all the beds, luggage packed and out, laundry started, bathrooms cleaned, floors swept and mopped, etc. But THIS year was different. The private home was no longer available (owners had the gull to permanently MOVE there themselves) so we were forced to relocate, and we did. Lovely location, just perfect. AND MAID SERVICE (with the exception that we brought our own linens). WHAT A WIN. 

No more cleaning for hours before we left.

Well, I was wrong.

I found myself finding the sweeper, wiping down the bathrooms and the dressers in each room and made sure it was all in order and neat. One of our kids said, “WHY are you cleaning like this?”

My response, “Like this? Like WHAT?”

“Why?” That I knew immediately.

I think my husband and I both grew up with parents who taught us well, in fact, I KNOW they have. They might not had to always TEACH us, as in go over what it was they wanted us to do, but THEIR actions spoke to us loud and clear. There’s a certain standard that you don’t just TRY to live up to but that IS you. For both of our mothers, I guarantee you that standard is “YOU PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF. YOU LEAVE THAT HOUSE BETTER THAN WHEN YOU CAME. EVEN IF THERE IS MAID SERVICE.” 

It’s standard that doesn’t ask to be noticed or recognized and sure as heck doesn’t need a reward. It IS because you ARE.

So I’m going through the rooms of this house and I realize, the very same standard that I’m applying to cleaning this home applies to every single person that I meet. If I can come into a nice beach house and actually leave it believing I left it better than when I came (AND WE DID. WE WORKED HARD AND TOGETHER) than the very same principle can apply to EVERY PERSON THAT I ENCOUNTER. Right? Because standards are not just a FOR THIS or FOR THAT, at least not when you talk about the standard of someone’s identity…their character, integrity etc.

Whatever you touch is left better, whoever you encounter, the same.

It’s the standard, the principle…the spirit of Jesus. You leave the entire world; beach house, gas station attendant, the waitress taking your order and bringing out your food…BETTER. It’s up to you how you do it so don’t you dare think for one hot second it needs to look like me. It needs to look like YOU. Enjoy figuring that one out my friend. You have your own unique way of infusing love, kindenss, encouragement, genorisoty and compassion into every ENCOUNTER…so get your head out of your phone for a moment and look the person in front of you in the eye and SEE them. BAM…already better.

Just do it. Leave them for the better because we will ALL be better for it.

 

Breathe 

It was 1985 and I was 12. I don’t remember much of my early teens but I remember enough to say, I can stand before God and testify with sincerity and truth that my family was going through a mid-life crisis of sorts in that particular year. It is with a heavy-laden heart I admit, our family was into wrestling. And not just any wrestling but WWF…

It was nice to know you. Best of luck. Good-bye.

It was a week night and I vaguely remember sitting in front of the television because positioning was important. Not only was I a kid, I was also the remote control…some of you will relate. Our families favorite wrestler came on the screen, Hulk Hogan, and I about died. He had this hair and these muscles and I cannot be held responsible for I was young and impressionable and put faith and trust blindly in MY PARENTS. As the show continued, I sat in disbelief when the Hulk placed a real sleeper hold on prime time talk show host Richard Belzer of “Hot Properties.” I knew enough to know wrestling was dramatic and mainly for show, like a circus or how I feel at church some mornings when I am not being honest, but THIS was a real-time pass out and that moment will stick with me for life.

Someone, light a candle for me and say a prayer.

Flash forward three decades. I recently went through an intensively stressful season largely in part to work. I had  headaches, sleepless nights and before I knew it, back pain. All of my “physical symptoms” where manifestations of my inability to manage high-levels of “stress” appropriately and when I say appropriately, I mean this…I was quite capable of handling what was before me. The problem was, I chose NOT to.

Here’s the thing; stress is a byproduct of fear and in my life during that intensely stressful season was a giant and every time I stood before it, I held my breath…AFRAID. I was also angry, offended, bitter, resentful and prideful. And just a FYI…if you hold your breath long enough, YOU become your own worst enemy. You put yourself in a sleep hold much like Hulk Hogan did that night to Richard Belzer and oxygen deprivation to the brain shuts your system down fast and you fall “asleep.” You don’t even know it’s happening.

I’ve realized since that “sleeping” is one of the most dangerous threats to my identity. It is something that I do to myself. All by myself. My opponent never even needs to touch me let alone wrap their arms around my throat. I hold my breath because I lose my focus. I see the problem instead of the solution and my little ole legs quiver and I wonder how I am going to fix it. I brace myself for impact and HOLD. MY. BREATH. 

ME. MYSELF. I. 

I know that God created me fully capable to handle such seasons. I was created in His image so I believe that everything on the inside of me can handle anything on the outside of me because of the Spirit of Jesus and if He can, so can I. BAM. It’s the finished work of the cross and it is SCRIPTURAL, but it’s also a balancing act. It’s actually an unlearning of everything innate to my flesh and learned from experience. It’s trying to understand when He wants me to step up ON MY OWN because it’s time and He wants me to discover more of what’s He’s placed on the inside of me and when He wants to partner WITH me so I can discover more of what’s on the inside of Him so I can learn. It’s like a parent teaching their child to ride a bike. We can’t nor should have training wheels forever plus it would be slightly awkward as an adult having Dad still hold our bike seat so we don’t fall. Agree?

Maturing is all about learning when to hold on and when to let go.

I have a part. It’s called, guarding my heart. Sometimes I allow my thoughts and feelings about the giant in front of me overcome my faith in God that’s with me and I linger a little too long till my thoughts and feelings are driving the car. Slowly but surely, if I don’t guard my heart, I go all rogue. The Spirit of Jesus gets tied up and placed in the back of the trunk and I find myself behind the wheel ALONE, RECKLESSHAPHAZARD, and OXYGEN DEPRIVED as the original me that God thoughtfully and intentionally created is asleep driving off some cliff.

I wish I could say it’s easy to wake up and remember WHO you are. I wish I could say that you just snap your fingers and instantly awaken out of the groggy slumber that has lulled you like baby and but again…ME. MYSELF. I. rarely works. More time than not, we don’t wake till impact strikes and by then, the damage is immense. But have hope, help is on the scene. Since we were created IN relationship FOR relationship, others are often a HUGE part of our reentry into the atmosphere we are created to live from.

So if you are finding yourself before a giant…BREATHE. Stand up. Remember where your roots come from and focus.

RIDE. THAT. BIKE.

JESUS. TAKE. THE. WHEEL.

OPEN. THAT. TRUNK.

PRAY.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Grab someone’s hand. Remember that you are NOT alone. Allow the Father’s love to strengthen and sustain you. And no, it’s not as easy as it sounds…there is no step one, step two with Christ. What there is though is grace…mounds and mounds of grace so keep getting up from your mat and opening your eyes (and with it your heart) and listen for your name. HE IS CALLING. He will pursue you to YOUR GRAVE if that is what it takes…

Wake up friend, you’ve been sleeping long enough.

 

go slow

It’s really easy to rush in an make an assumption about what someone says or does, what they are thinking and why, etc. and as assumptions go, they are never likely to be in your corner. You know? Think about it.

I got a text the other day from an unknown number. The person sending it identified themselves as the Director of a camp I am preparing to speak at the beginning of August. All they said in their text was: “When you have a moment, can you call me?” and they gave their name. That was all it took. My mind took over from there.

WHY are they wanting me to call them? WHAT did I do?” IT WAS A NEGATIVE FEELING and negative feelings lead to negative thoughts and as back stories go, there was one. “I’ve probably pushed the envelope too far and they now don’t want me to speak.” Real thought.

So I called and they answered. Polite. It was nothing at all to do with my topic or my speaking or my qualifications or if I was the RIGHT one for the part. They wanted to ask me about the SERVICE DOGS THAT I RAISE. NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH SPEAKING or TOPICS or ENVELOPE PUSHING. See…

I have allowed a few people’s verbal opinions of what and how I share/teach taint an amazing opportunity I have with this camp to the point that my lens has been a little skewed. I have been quick to assume I won’t be welcomed because with them, I have not FELT welcomed.  All of that sounds legit but really, it’s just a way for me to blame my own insecurities on someone else. Truth is: I have believed the lie that I am not good enough, or knowledgeable enough or ANYTHING enough to step up tho that size platform when in reality, I KNOW that is why God has given me the opportunity. I need to just show up me. Which I can do.

Because really, we tend to make it about THIS and Jesus tends to make it about THAT…

Our hearts are His focus and consumption.

So lesson of the day…don’t assume. Do your very best not to let your mind wander and form opinions that grip you with fear or worry and as far as the back story goes…remember WHO you are. Different is good. You are not to look or sound like anyone else nor are you to have the same thoughts. Part of WHO I AM as a perspective shifter is to bring a new thought to the table that gets people to have THEIR OWN CONVERSATION WITH JESUS. Seriously, we have all been W-A-Y over-fed by others. I have never been one to ingest and be done because all that does is create a lazy and fat Church and I am not fat nor lazy. Seriously, if you aren’t being challenged and if you aren’t just a little squeemish …why would you ever forge for your own food? If I would have just remembered WHY I was invited, I would not have allowed the back story breed fear into that text which made my mind go to the very worst.

Behind every assumption is a lie lurking in the corner. If you want to walk free; freedom from fear, stress and worry; freedom to be WHO you were created to be…go after the lie and expose it for what it is. Go slow and go for the root. Sometimes we just want the fix so we can be done, and when we do…we hurry and miss the back story. A back story that is missed or goes unseen will make its way around again on a different day, in a different situation. GUARANTEED. It is worth the time it takes to sort.

Happy Unpacking-

August

Now what? 

Have you ever been in two places at the same time? The place where you are physically in one place and the other half of you is somewhere else meandering around in your mind or in your heart. I have. Yesterday I was in a car for s-e-v-e-n hours total traveling with my family…fielding questions, singing, laughing and at the same time, I was sitting with Jesus somewhere in the midst of the bustle asking, “Where do I go from here?” I know I haven’t been in the “best” place, but still…not all lost because regardless of what it has looked and felt like, I still have been in SOME place.

Seven hours later, I really hadn’t receive a response that gave a finite answer. I think I’m the type-of-girl who thinks she wants step 1 ——> step 2 = step 3, but really I’m not all about that one bit. Top pretty. Too packaged. The only thing I know is my heart intuition saysto keep taking steps when steps are needed and to keep taking steps WITH Him. “Keep doing what you are doing now.” My family, chaos, car rides and me living in two-worlds with the person of the Lord…check.

I mentioned in my last post “honest” that I asked several leaders from our church to pray for me on Sunday, and not just walk away and “pray for me” or add me to some prayer chain, but “Grab my hands right now, look me in the eyes and stampede the throne room with me.” A tenderhearted man who I don’t know well named Steve Burris grabbed my hand. He asked me to do him a favor, and though I have never really spent any amount of time with him, I know enough to take what he says seriously. He asked me to take a really deep breath.

Because I have been holding mine.

And the tears began to flow becuase THAT hit home.

For months I have been holding my breath, trying to get through with both fist clenched tight. “If I can just make it through the day.”

Me. Myself. and I.

The very breath of life, Holy Spirit Himself, I shut out.

“I can do this on my own. I can get by. I can fix.” 

Pain tempts you to think the most awfulest of things. It makes you feel isolated and alone. It makes you think you are in a great battle instead of trusting that the war has already been won and that you can rest in what has been done. 

I held my breath and gave back my rest. I am sorry Jesus.

So I stood Sunday in the parking lot breathing in and breathing out FOR REAL as my church family stood with me. I don’t think I needed to explain much of the situation, it’s obvious I have been deficient of oxygen as my thinking has been affected by my poor brain, but as I stood…my lungs and my pores began opening up as I felt His/their love as we stood in the middle of a vacant parking lot. Who cared who saw. Who care anything. I was believing lies and wanted to be free. ***Once more…invite people into your pain. If you still haven’t done so and are doing it alone, don’t. Reach out to just one person. Then reach out to two. It’s the best thing I’ve done since Sunday. Perhaps it’s just the best thing I have done.***

LIE: “You have been a Christian for 10 years. You have proclaimed to walk intimately with Jesus. You have… IF you are WHO you say you are…YOU. WOULD’T BE HERE stuck in the middle of the parking lot needing prayer.” This is the lie I STILL hear in my head. It is perhaps the #1 way we get attacked. IF. YOU. ARE. **a good mom**a good wife**a good person**caring**honest**loving**merciful**grace-filled** Sounds an awful like how Jesus was questioned in Matthew 4. Go read it. Once we give into the lie that our identity is anything LESS THAN the truth = BONDAGE. 

Don’t let your pain or your pride stop you from going after what you know you want or need.

*SO* In the car driving, somewhere resting with Jesus…no easy answers, no ah-hah revelation except the simple knowing, my heart intuition, that if I keep sitting with Him long enough, if I keep breathing-in this life, this ABUNDANT, AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL life and keep stepping, HE WILL GUIDE ME INTO WHAT’S NEXT.

I don’t have to have it figured out. I have an overwhelming understanding, despite my perceived lack of it, that it’s OK to hurt at times. It is OK to have just walked through a really hard season and say “GEESH. THAT ALL JUST SUCKED.” It’s when I believe the lie that it’s better to do it on my own that I stop breathing because the heavy responsibility of it all falls back on me and my chest feels crushed, lungs and all, by the weight.

Breathing WITH Him. Step one.

Further ahead today than yesterday. Two steps further then the day before. Leaning in more than I have in a long time.

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