Friday, June 14, 2019

TGIF | The Rumble


I tend to feel like I need to apologize for how much I reference Brené Brown in conversations these days. I have now completed her fourth book, and watched her Netflix, Tedx Houston and Ted Talk videos. Her wisdom, and call to choose vulnerability over shame, is very much in my brain.

And I don't believe it's ironic, but rather God ordained, that I would begin to read Rising Strong and also start therapy at the same time. My therapist, Rachel, has been a tremendous blessing.

But this getting well thing, or this Rising Strong thing, is hard. The reckoning and rumbling with emotions is oh so hard.

“The opposite of recognizing that we’re feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.” - Brené Brown
The part of the quote I've underlined, on how we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions and allow them to own us and define us... that's me. That has been my story. And my mind and body is exhausted from this behavior.

Because I don't ever want to send a message that God isn't a part of this Rising Strong process - I need you to know I am left in awe once again of His love and faithfulness. As a dear friend texted to me yesterday, "Thank you, Lord!! He will see you through -- all the way through - all the way!!!"

There is far more to write on Rising Strong, however today I am motivated by Brené's weekly Friday "TGIF" post to join her in doing the same.

TGIF - Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration and Fun Fridays

TRUST

In all things, for me it's always, always about learning to trust God more. Lately, it's trusting that even though the reckoning and rumbling with emotions can put me back on the edge of having another meltdown, I trust I'm exactly where I need to be, where He knows I need to be. It may feel like I'm taking steps backwards at times because the awareness brings hurts. But as Brené writes, "in the absence of data, we will always make up stories." The stories I write when I don't rumble with my emotions... they need new endings.



GRATITUDE

For creating new endings. My sessions with Rachel always ends with establishing a goal for the week ahead. The goal is all about practicing new and healthier behaviors which are paving the way to better stories. Thank you, Rachel. And thank you, God, for directing my steps to Rachel.



INSPIRATION

Yesterday I made the comment to hubs, "I need a hobby." His response, "You have one." He actually expanded on his comment in a way that made me smile. But he's right. I'm inspired not to create a new hobby but to embrace the gift(s) God has given me. To not make it about perfection but to simply show up and allow myself to be seen, imperfections and all.


"The World Needs Who You Were Made To Be. Be YOU!"
- Joanna Gaines

FUN

Our family (boys, daughter-in-laws and granddaughter) are headed to Colorado tonight for a week vacation together. YIPPEE! And it's our sweet granddaughter's first birthday today. So much fun!!!


What are you trusting, grateful for, inspired by, and doing for fun? Join Brené here in sharing your TGIF every Friday, or share with me below. I love hearing from you.


 

Friday, May 31, 2019

Pursuing Authenticity

Coffee dates with girlfriends are one of my most favorite activities. Those two hours because they always tends to be at least two hours in length are such a time of blessing and encouragement. And I'd like to believe we both walk away equally encouraged, although I often fear I do too much of the talking and need to practice listening more.

The topic of writing came up at a recent coffee date. My sweet friend extended words of affirmation regarding my writing and encouraged me to be in prayer about returning to writing.

Honestly... I have discovered I have a fear of writing. Maybe not a fear of actually writing but a fear of the emotions that tend to come when I write -- a fear of returning to another place where I allow "not good enough" to reign. I also question if God is calling me to write. What if God is saying no to something I want? But what if this is something God is calling me to and I am letting fear win?

Could I put those questions aside, for now, and simply write? I raised the topic with my therapist and she asked, "could writing be an avenue towards healing, and could you write without placing any expectations on yourself and simply write for you?"

I think the question I need to answer is, could I simply be me and not allow writing to be another wrestle for worthiness?





Months ago I received two copies of the Magnolia Journal in the mail. On the front of the cover it read, "The World Needs Who You Were Made To Be." I saw God's hand in delivering two copies of this issue to my mailbox. He knows my thoughts - He knows exactly where they go -- the world needs someone else, not me.

I have read three Brené Brown books over the past seven months, and I'm currently reading #4.

Braving the Wilderness—Belonging.
The Gifts of Imperfection—Be you.
Daring Greatly—Be all in.
Rising Strong—Fall. Get up. Try again.

In her book Rising Strong as she writes about how one of the "truisms" for living wholeheartedly, she say,“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” ~ Brené Brown

Friends, I need to be done with the hustle for worthiness. For me that comes with being authentic about the struggle (depression, anxiety and an eating disorder) but also having the courage to show up and simply be who God made me to be. As Brené also says, "to let go of who I think I'm supposed to be and embrace who I am."


But to embrace who I am - who God created me to be - I know that involves getting to know my deepest, most authentic self, and doing the hard work of engaging (or reckoning and rumbling) with my emotions. There are so many layers to break through. At the core though, as Michelle DeRusha writes in her book True You, "my identity as a child of God is everything. I know without that, I have nothing; without that, I am nothing."

Our church recently did a sermon series on 2 Corinthians. In the first chapter of 2 Corinthians we see the God of All Comfort in the first several versus. We see how suffering is an opportunity for God to work through us - that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

But we have a choice to make - will our principle identity be found in God or in our suffering? For me, I've allowed my identify to be placed in not-enough. But God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and that I am more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31). Faith is believing Him - trusting in Him. I am who He says I am!

There is a connection in all this that I am trying to make. If only the words would pour out more clearly. Maybe it's in what I said to my pastor following his sermon, "The enemy is attacking me from every angle but he will not win. Though I may be stumbling, I know God will not let me fall. He continues to uphold me. I know in this season of suffering (where the lies are louder than the truth) He is doing something in and through me. I know and trust He will do a new thing. For I know our God is good and He is faithful to all that He promises.

I feel like much is left unsaid when I make the attempt to express myself. I tend to think I'm not making sense but I have been told my perception in that thinking is not accurate. Oh how I'm working on trusting -- trusting in Him -- trusting He will do more than I can ask or imagine with this offering.

Can I end with this? Words from the beautiful Ann Voskamp -- "God is good and you are always loved."

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Raise a Hallelujah


In my last post I shared with you a few verses to a song I've been singing over and over. Because my one word this year is SING, and I am singing friends. I think just maybe I will sing a little more with you.

Toward the end of the song the lead singer speaks out these words as the melody of the song continues to play:

"Begin to raise your own Hallelujah
There's a song written on your heart that only you can sing
When you sing enemies flee
When you sing prison walls come falling down
When you sing heaven invades the earth
Raise it like a banner
Raise it like a flag
Raise it in the middle of the storm
Let it rise
Like a symphony to the King
Sing a little louder!"
Raise a Hallelujah


Those words are on repeat in my mind. Mainly the lines about singing and enemies fleeing and prison walls falling down and heaven invading the earth. Why? Friends, when I begin to sing - to give Him all my praise and worship - I witness those very things take place.

Maybe it's only in my mind but as I sing I experience the battle being won. I'm reminded that victory is sure.

And I need this reminder as the battle of lies versus truth plays out in my mind. I know we are not to give our enemy too much power, but we also cannot minimize his realness and the fact that he is high bent on stealing our joy. As my dear friend wrote in an email - the enemy is trying to get me from every angle.

My continual response now is to sing, and to sing louder and louder.



There are times when the singing isn't literal singing, but it takes the form of speaking out the truth of who He is - the truth of His goodness, love, grace and mercy. And the truth that even though the world may seem like it's spinning out of control, we are not without hope. He reigns! He is a promise-keeper. The promises He makes throughout the Bible are promises we can bank on.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20

I had coffee yesterday with two women who are part of a small group I have the privileged of leading. In the two and half hours we spent together we covered a range of topics.

We talked about King David and how even though he was a man after God's own heart, he stumbled often but God did not let him fall - though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand (Psalm 37:24). There's such encouragement in that for us.

We talked about how our heart aches for family and friends who do not know God, or who have turned away from Him. Yet, we proclaimed the reckless love of our God and the hope we have that He will chase them down. I know it's a hope I must cling to.

We shared our testimonies and marveled at the undeniable truth of God. When you hear our stories what other explanation can there be? But God and Only God!

We spoke of our shared desires to be bolder in our faith. To have a greater fear of God, rather than a fear of how another may respond to the truth we speak. But please God, help us speak the truth in love.

We dove into politics and social issues - topics we are trained as leaders to divert from. But there we were discussing these things. At one point, even though everything we said pointed back to God and the truth of His word, and how that truth includes we are to love despite our differences, I made us pause to admit we had crossed over to topics I should not allow. I took a moment to ensure there were no hurt feelings. I knew ultimately we each approached these topics with a desire for Him to help us to love like Christ. That even when it's hard, when our differences scare us, may we show up regardless and love.

Why do I tell you about this coffee date? I believe it's because in those two and a half hours the three of us each raised our own Hallelujah. We sang the songs of our hearts - the realness of hard seasons but the truth that God is who He says He is. It was our symphony to our King.

I drove home to that song - Raise a Hallelujah - and once again marveled at the awesomeness of our God. When we sing, heaven really does invade the earth. And isn't that because He dwells in us so as we raise our Hallelujah's we do our part in bringing heaven to earth?


When you walk into our home I have these words on a frame: Love deeply, welcome gladly, serve faithfully, so that in all things God may be praised. This is taken from 1 Peter 4:8-11. This is where I will end today - in all things may God be praised! May we raise our Hallelujah's to Him and then watch the enemy - our real enemy - flee. Watch strongholds be broken, relationships restored, the blind see, and so much more. Watch God do more than we can ask or imagine.

And then sing a little louder!

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

My One Word :: Sing

Hello friends. 

Being here seems foreign to me. The last time I sat down to write a post (or to write for that matter) was April 2018. It took me several attempts to even login this morning. Why am I here now? I honestly do not know other than to say I do give thought to this space on occasion and wonder if I could return to sharing here on a more frequent basis. I never seem to come to a sureness.

Yet, here I am. I think it may have something to do with it being a new year. And not only a new year, but a year of new beginnings.


My employer recently moved from one town to another (closer to home). We are in a completely new space (new everything!), and I also enter my tenth year with this company. A new year and new space is allowing for a new beginning, or a fresh start, which I have discovered I desperately need.

I also turn 50 this year. I close out a decade and begin a new one.

So yes, a new year with new beginnings! Why not begin writing again? Yes? No?

I am not sure where to begin though. I have always asked God to make the act of writing flow more naturally. I dislike the constant hardness of transferring thoughts from my mind to the written form. I seek perfection or the ability to write more like her (her being a long list of others who do this better). If I cannot be perfect or like her than why bother?

I know, such wrong thinking. I remain so very good at the wrong thinking. But God! New year, new beginning. He's at work in my mind and in my heart.

As I leave one decade and begin another, this is the clarity He has given me... I have given the enemy too much occupancy in my mind for far too long.

Not pretty enough.
Not thin enough.
Not smart enough.
Not enough.

And the not enough's give way to feelings of not-belonging. I see how much the not-enough's and not-belonging have impacted the extent to which I withdraw from connection. I have stopped showing up, unless if feels safe to do so.

In addition to the wrong thinking and it's effects, military life and far too much time apart from my husband is having it's own effects. We are pushing through and even though I don't understand or quite know how to explain all the emotions and hardness of this season, what I do know is our God is faithful and trustworthy one hundred percent of the time.

And though I feel like I am constantly stumbling in all my different roles, I believe His promise in Psalm 37:24 so very much, "though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." Psalm 37:24

As I rest in His sovereignty and goodness, the hardness doesn't magically disappears but each day I experience His faithfulness to provide all that I need to make it through another day.

What does all this have to do with my one word -- the title of this post?


I sat with a dear friend recently - one who shows up regardless of how many times I tell her I remain in this place of believing I am not good enough. In a place of wishing He created me to be someone else - anyone but me. But if all He has created, and He created us in His image, is good, doesn't that apply to me too? I even went as far to say that I had begun to question if I was really a Christ follower.

As I said those words out loud to her the flood gates opened. The enormity of the lies... for I know I love the LORD our God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength (Deut. 6:5).

And then gradually through worship songs He led me to my one word. I saw how I needed to SING louder than my unbelief. And oh how I have been singing....

"I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me."
Raise a Hallelujah

"And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God"
Goodness of God

There's a song in my soul
And I feel it stirring in me
This I know for sure
That Your love is like a flood
And Your mercy never ending
I give my song to You
Song in my Soul

So friends, I'm going to sing in the middle of this hardness. I'm going to sing louder and louder of His goodness and love. "Louder and louder you're going to hear my praises roar."

Let's sing a little louder together, shall we?