Today’s Theme is Brought to You By…

A few months ago I told a couple of people that I knew God and I were entering a new season. I felt like God was going to start speaking to me again, but totally differently than he ever has before. I was excited about it, and felt like it was just going to be this really sweet season between God and I.

Then, as if to confirm my feeling, over the last couple of months I have had several different people either pray over or speak into me about how they feel or see God doing a new thing with and within me. – Some of these people trusted and close, one stranger, and a few people who were oblivious to the inner workings of my heart.

While I was ready for a new season, and I felt like it was going to be “sweet,” I was also a bit worried about entering into a new season. Because the last time He warned me a new season was coming, it was incredibly painful and I still refer to it as having put myself in an induced emotional coma to survive it… So I was anxious, and journaled my prayers to God about it a couple of times because, I am an external processor if there ever was one!

Don’t get me wrong, I so much love and enjoy my life.
I find joy in life every day, I love my community, friends, family, ministry.. Life is rich and full to overflowing with so many blessings!… But, I also live in reality, and that means that life is sometimes hard; as in, really incredibly heavy, full of sorrow and words that cannot comfort adequately. Sometimes, life feels more like just putting your head down and trying to weather the storm with as little damage done to you and your heart as possible.

(Anyone else feel like lately the world seems to be hell-bent on pain, destruction, divisiveness and sorrow?)

I also believe life should be lived authentically, and that while our stories are intensely personal, they were never meant to be kept private. So much of God’s power and help is experienced through people’s incredibly personal stories (just read the Bible, it’s full of these stories!).

When life is hard, I think we should admit it to people who ask that actually care for an answer. We should allow people to love us and help us (ok, so I am actually not always the best at this, but truly working on it).
When life is full to overflowing with joy and happiness, that needs to also be shared. – It pushes back and fights off the darkness.

While I can confidently say that I would not describe this season with God as “sweet” in the moment, I believe that after the fact, when I look back I will be content and find joy from this season. However, IN this season, it is hard, painful, challenging, and actually re-wiring me internally. It feels like a mental, emotional, spiritual breaking down of muscles, being intensely sore, and then finding yourself slowly getting stronger in the process. It also takes intentionality, determination, and a whole heck of a lot of hard work. You can read more about the Perseverance and Grit I am also learning in this season.

My heart is changing, growing, healing, and finding a healthy balance with my head. I am finding more and more that I am first seeking our Lord in moments of questions, uncertainty, thanksgiving, frustration, or any need or emotion really… It is good, it is refreshing.

In fact, I have discovered, that when I take time lately to process, read scripture, and journal, a theme almost immediately bubbles up to the surface.

I have started referring to my day’s like it’s a Sesame Street skit: “Today’s theme is brought to you by….”

Peace.
Steadfast.
Perseverance.
Anxiety.
Renew.

These words (and others) have bubbled up, and subsequently created a place for me to dig in and find out what the Lord has said throughout scripture on these topics. It is interesting, intense, convicting, challenging and comforting all at the same time. I find that many of the passages I am aware of; some vaguely, others are common, but then, there are these little gems that I have somehow never seen before! It has begun creating anchor points in my rock foundation for me to wade through these very hard, intimate, and difficult topics… I know that one day these Sesame Street style themes will also be able to be used to help create anchors for others, but for now, they are creating a space for breaking and healing my own heart and mind.

I tend to use Biblegateway.com so that I can easily pop between a couple different translations, re-check words and other possible translations for those words, and see which translation speaks to me the most… But, I prefer to also use my physical Bible so that I can write all over it! Then, of course, I copy the passages of scripture that speaks to the theme for the day into my journal and have therefore begun to compile a list to reference as I continue through this “sweet” season.

And, of course, like any good researcher, I also google the definition for these words, and find their synonyms to expand the words I use in my journey through scripture.

What a unique season I find myself in; one with so many emotions, so much mulling and thinking through things, loads of prayers, and lots of sitting in silence… But also some processing with people.

One of the daily themes recently was Hope, as I worked my way through the different passages on Hope, I came upon one of my life verses, and I saw it anew:

“Sustain me according to your word, that I may live;
and do not let me be ashamed of my hope.”
– Psalm 119:116

In this season, I have found that I am being sustained, and am so much better able to weather this season because of the words of our Lord. – I also know that I am struggling with hope in a particular area of my life, and have a tendency to rationalize things away rather than choosing faith and hope because it feels too risky for my heart… It feels foolish to choose hope.

So, Lord, do not let me be ashamed of my hope.

It is so interesting to connect to one of my life verses in a new way, and see it suddenly differently than I have for well over a decade. What a beautiful example of how God breathes new life into scripture and all of a sudden it has fresh life directly connected to where we are in our journey.

(Also, just for kicks and giggles, my other life verse is Colossians 1:10)

This season is hard.
This season is painful.
This season is beautiful.
This season is forever changing who I am at the very core and foundation of who God made me to be, and I am grateful beyond words.

Don’t Tell Me I’m Beautiful…

Some blog posts turn in my head for about 13 seconds before it spills out to be shared….

Other blog posts take months before I have words to share, and the bravery to back up what I allow others to see in me.

I was reminded this week of something our Pastor of Prayer says, “Fear is the opposite of love; not anger, but fear.”

It is always interesting when you discover a fear you have carried around for as long as you can remember, but never even noticed that it was there or that you were protecting it so severely.

What is my intensely guarded fear?: My Beauty.

I have been slowly processing with several very patient and diligent friends my thoughts about beauty… or more specifically my beauty. It has been a slow-moving journey to realizing the insecurities I have. But, probably more than that, it is an arduous task of recognizing the walls I have created to try to ensure my heart is not hurt or disappointed.

You see, I do not let people comment on my physical appearance. Meaning, regardless of the comment, good, bad, sweet, rude.. Whatever the comment, I disregard it and protect my heart from feeling or accepting the comment.

It was described to me that it is as though the comments are bouncing off my carefully crafted armor. I wanted to deny it, but the reality is, I am intensely and unrelentingly vigilant in the protection of that portion of my heart.

What I find particularly interesting is that, for as far back as I can remember, I have had this wall built around my heart regarding my physical attractiveness. More specifically, I have been disregarding compliments about my physical appearance my entire life (that I can remember) from everyone… As a young child, my mom and dad (who are amazing parents and people) would make comments to me about my beauty, and I would brush it aside with a laugh, eye roll, sigh or some sort of reasoning that they “had” to tell me these things.

I can point to a hundred different things that added to my reason to protect my heart in this area…

Most of my life I have been (gladly) in the company of guys as their friend and have heard hundreds of times over about how pretty or beautiful my friends are… To which, I definitely agree(d), but I carefully avoided the awkwardness or disappointment of not being seen as beautiful as well.

I have always loved how the martial arts has helped create me to be capable of protecting myself and others. I love practical things so very much, and the martial arts is so practical to me. However, the martial arts certainly added to my already not dainty, but definitely athletic physique that I have only recently begun to appreciate… However, many of the words I have spent my life hearing from men are about how the dainty, tiny, skinny is where beautiful is held.. So, to be effective like I wanted to be, it meant setting aside beautiful things in place of better things.

Then, on the flip side, the times in which men have told me that I was beautiful, I felt like they wanted something from me or worse found out later they had been lying to me and could not be trusted to tell me truth.. or in a couple of instances I felt like the guy wanted to devour me, and I was not safe in their care… So, I protected myself and my heart diligently to avoid any additional damage.

Then, of course people use scripture to point out why beauty should not be something I cared about anyway…

I mean, after all: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30 … And yet, here I am in the depths of my heart unwilling to admit that I still desire to be beautiful. I do NOT want to be vain nor deceitful, so I rationalized that it was better to tuck it all away, and prevent others from speaking into it one way or another. I have spent my life not wanting to know if people thought I was beautiful, and sidestepping every chance I could to avoid knowing.

Throughout my life, I have reasoned that there is no possible way that I am as beautiful as some people have claimed. I rationalize their comments away as purely sentiment because my life circumstances simply do not line up with their nice, sweet or well-meaning comments.

I mean, after all: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” so their perspective does not really mean it is true anyway.

Then, to make an intensely personal and private struggle more complicated, I want to be seen in so many ways… I desire to be dynamic and unique. Full of life and adventure, leaving a trail of joy spilling out everywhere I go, seen as capable, intelligent, knowledgeable, loving, graceful, giving, welcoming, compassionate, and full of kindness.. And always reflecting Christ. I desire these things more than beauty, so I have spent my life focusing on these rather than the “vain beauty.”

But, if I am being totally honest, I want beautiful to be included in the list of things I am seen as too… Yet, even typing that, I feel it sounds vain and conceded. The struggle is very real in my heart.

I also know that sometimes your personality and character add to or detract from your attractiveness. I have long thought that I have the type of personality that makes me more attractive… but that it is sort of like a lens in which you see someone; the perspective is changed because of it, but the object itself has not changed.

Even as I process these thoughts and heart feels out with people, I often set up the rule that they too are not allowed to tell me how they see my physical appearance. It is safer to not know… But, I also do not want fake words, nor do I want reactionary comments.

To be clear, I do not want to be seen as more beautiful than someone else. I want to be my own stunningly beautiful woman that requires no one else to be less.

Because I am not yet beyond these struggles, I am once again going to ask you not to share your reactionary comments about how you see my physical appearance.

Please do not leave a comment out of a desire to make it better, that is not what this blog post is for.

His Beloved…

“How are you?”

That has been the most difficult question to answer as of late. I am good because I can look around and see the great things, people, situations, etc.. that leave my heart to fill with hope. And yet, I am not so good at the same time. I find that my heart is really not ok at my core, but not because of any one thing in particular.

The best way I can describe how I feel is, it seems like God and I are working on and through things that are leaving my heart in a difficult and vulnerable place in order to truly heal and move forward from here.

I am not the biggest fan of feeling vulnerable in general, but this time I also am allowing myself to sit in the emotions that God is bringing up instead of just pushing them aside.

After a few conversations with my bff about how I am doing, she recommended that we should read Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning together. At just a few chapters in, Abba’s Child has been distinctly different from most books I have read (especially recently) in terms of the impact it is having on my heart. As I read, I feel my heart stirring, and at times, I find myself so overwhelmed with emotions that, I have to actually put the book (or computer since I’m reading it on my Kindle app) down and walk away to take a breather.

I am quickly accumulating a ridiculously large file of typed notes, and highlighting the book like crazy.

You see, most days, I feel confident, secure in who I am, whose I am, and I tend to be fully aware of my strengths, weaknesses, gifts, and flaws. Then there are other times where I just feel entirely insecure, inadequate, like I will never be enough, like I am or need too much, and as though I am pulled apart at the seams on the inside.

Lately, I have felt mostly the latter sense of self.

I believe there are a few key things playing into the state of my heart right now…
1. Satan loves to whisper into insecurities, and unfortunately, I think I have been giving him too much room to play.
B. Sometimes, timing for things can be awesome… Other times, it can be the absolute worst timing to have to deal with things and it just adds to the weight.
iii. God knows it is time to burn away the chaff and scars in order to heal and move forward more solidly in His grasp… But, that requires allowing my heart to be molded anew, and that is just not an easy place to be.

I am a little scared to say, that despite the state of my heart, I am actually looking forward to this growth process.. It will likely be fairly painful, but hopefully in the good sense of pain.

I am looking forward to finally having the refreshing feeling of being closer to my sweet savior once again. From the very center of my being, I desire to rediscover my identity in Christ. I hope that in this process I can re-find myself, my strengths, weaknesses, identity, and that both my hope and faith will come out on the other side remade.

Because maybe the best way to communicate the rest of what my heart is working through is to share some (only a select few) of the quotes I have kept.
I am only a few chapters in, but these quotes are a great reflection of my thoughts and feelings from Abba’s Child (not necessarily in order of placement in the book):

“It takes a profound conversion to accept that God is relentlessly tender and compassionate toward us just as we are— not in spite of our sins and faults (that would not be total acceptance), but with them… He anguishes over our self-absorption and self-sufficiency.”

“God loves who we really are— whether we like it or not.”

“We learn to be gentle with ourselves by experiencing the intimate, heartfelt compassion of Jesus.”

“‘Quit keeping score altogether and surrender yourself with all your sinfulness to God who sees neither the score nor the scorekeeper but only his child redeemed by Christ.’”

“We are made for God, and nothing less will really satisfy us.”

“As we come to grips with our own selfishness and stupidity, we make friends with the impostor and accept that we are impoverished and broken and realize that, if we were not, we would be God. The art of gentleness toward ourselves leads to being gentle with others— and is a natural prerequisite for our presence to God in prayer.”

“When we accept the truth of what we really are and surrender it to Jesus Christ, we are enveloped in peace, whether or not we feel ourselves to be at peace. By that I mean the peace that passes understanding is not a subjective sensation of peace; if we are in Christ, we are in peace even when we feel no peace.”

“I continually felt the need to apologize, to run from my weaknesses, to deny who I was and concentrate on what I should be. I was broken, yes, but I was continually trying never to be broken again— or at least to get to the place where I was very seldom broken….”

“He is the Savior who saves us from ourselves.”

“‘…to make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.'”

“We give glory to God simply by being ourselves…. Living in awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the Christian life revolves. Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence.”

“All I want to say to you is, ‘You are the Beloved,’ and
all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold.
My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being—
‘ You are the Beloved.
’”

Decisions to Be Made…

IMG_0624My heart has been anxious, scattered, and felt unnerved lately… And, unfortunately, this may be a little bit of a jumbled post as I try to iron out some of the scattered thoughts…

Last night while I slept, it felt as though instead of sleeping and dreaming, I wrestled with questions and struggled to find my footing again. I am not sure if God and I were wrestling, or if I was just stressing…

For the first time in a long time, I find myself struggling through a plethora of insecurities… Am I good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, loving enough, caring enough?.. Basically my insecurities have boiled down to, “Am I enough?” Sometimes it feels as though my insecurities come in waves, disappearing entirely for a while, and then crashing down on me once again. I love the seasons when they are gone because I feel uninhibited and free to dance in who I am.

I am in this weird place where I have total peace and no doubts about moving forward with my consulting work… I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I mean, it is definitely hard work, and requiring a lot of hours from me, but I love watching it unfold, and I truly enjoy the consulting itself.. but mostly, I love the people who I get to help.

It seems interesting and quite frustrating to finally feel like I have direction in one area of my life, and feel as though satan is attacking (or maybe merely just whispering to) my doubts and insecurities.

The best way I can describe it is, my inner layers are growing weary; that I desire stability and certainty, but instead what I find is doubt and uncertainty… almost across the board too, which is just aggravating. When I stop and survey all the aspects of things in my life, all of the decisions to be made, the stressors and of course all the uncertainties, I find my heart just being tired… No overwhelming emotion, just fatigue. I know that while I have a huge support system, I am ultimately alone in making decisions, and just feel exhausted at my center for at having to make them all.

I also think some of the weariness is due to trying to work towards healing wounds and insecurities, and realizing that I am probably more fragile than I care to admit or show…

True to my nature though, I tend towards being an all or nothing type person. Now that I have financial and professional direction, I want to work as hard as I can to get the other areas of my life to fall together and heading in the same direction as well.

I mean, I am certain that Jesus is my provider, and I have no doubt that He is also my sustainer. But, I would like to also feel secure and safe for a little while. There is a huge difference between knowing and feeling.

I really am thankful and amazed at all of the ways God has taken care of me, over the last year especially. Words really do not accurately describe the emotions that I feel when I think of all of the people who have stood in the gap… Because, regardless of your view of me, I really am not worthy of the amount of love and support that I have received.

On the other hand, I have felt for years, and even more so over the last year that no matter how many people love and support me, I am ultimately responsible for taking care of myself. My sense of responsibility for taking care of myself does not come from a prideful place, and certainly not from the viewpoint of not needing help, and I have no desire to do this because of an “I am woman hear me roar” attitude. However, my feeling of responsibility is more from the practical sense that, if I do not do it, there is no one else walking this journey with me, so it must be me.

I think now is a good time to pause and say that this “by myself” perspective is not at all directed at my lack of need for Christ or the Holy Spirit’s guidance.. Nor is it directed at feeling as though I do not need help.. cause I without doubt do need help. But, I am certain that my need does not inherently mean it is anyone else’s obligation to step in and help.

There are days that I feel like maybe I seek out and rely on others too much because I definitely seek out other people to talk things over with (sometimes ad nauseam) to help me figure out what and how to do all of this well. I am so, so thankful for the friendship, patience, and support of my sounding boards. But, when I climb into bed at night thinking over my day, I mull over and pray for the things that I did not do so well, the choices that need to be made the following day, and the situations that I am uncertain about, and I am reminded that this journey is between God and I.

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” – Psalm 55:22

Excitement and Nervousness…

It has been 51 weeks since I have had full-time job. For the last year, I have put almost all of my effort towards finding a new job and moving forward. In the course of the last year I have dabbled in my consulting work, and really just used it to help cover the basic financial needs that I had.

Throughout the course of job-hunting, I have been struggling with frustration, timing, and desperately trying to hold onto any bits of hope I could find. And then, recently I have started to realize that maybe God is just telling me “no”… But, then what if he was saying “wait” instead.. And then, concern and frustrating would grow deeper because I could not get a clear grasp of the situation or direction.

Within the last few weeks, three more job possibilities fell through, and at the same time I had several people (separately) start encouraging me to really think about and pursue my consulting work… After all, I was already building a client list that includes people in several states, another country, and a vast array of industries… Technically, I was already “succeeding” even though I had not stopped to look at it in that way.

Initially, I dismissed the notion of working to survive off of my consulting work. After all, the level of income I would need means my number of clients would be absolutely ridiculous.. and, I was fairly confident I would not be able to pull it off without killing myself.

Yet, after a couple of weeks of someone mentioning it almost daily, I began to really consider the possibility, but found myself truly struggling with fear of failing. –Which was a unique experience since fear is not often a factor that inhibits my decision-making.

I was plagued with hundreds of “what ifs” and overwhelmed with the possibility of trying and failing, then frustrated all over again that those two things were impacting me to such a degree that I was refusing to move.

So, several weeks later, dozens of conversations with a whole lot of different people, thinking, praying, and really processing what would need to happen in order for me to survive off of my consulting work.. All of which I am fairly confident drove my friends and family crazy (thanks for the patience), I have finally settled with some excitement and trepidation on a decision:

I am going to pursue consulting as a full-time/main source of income.

I may upon occasion still apply to full-time jobs that strike me as particularly exciting or interesting, however, I am no longer going to mainly focus on applying for jobs. If God opens a door for me to walk through that seems right, then I will, but until then, consulting work seems to be the only door open.

Which of course leaves the question, what am I consulting on?

Marketing,
Communications,
Advertising,
Social and Digital Media,
Content and Copy Writing,
Branding,
Strategic Planning,
Business Development,
Leadership Training,
Change Management,
Among a few other closely related items…

I mean after all, I already have a large portion of the up front work done:
www.backinconsulting.com
Facebook

I have been slowly gaining clients through freelance sites online, but I have been amazed by the word of mouth clients that have come along unexpectedly. I am also excited that I have found an interesting niche in consulting for smaller churches.

I really do love and enjoy both the field of marketing and when I get to do consulting work, I like getting to know new people and researching their industries. However, I think what I enjoy the most is using something that is relatively “useless” in the grand scheme of things, and getting to impact people’s lives in a significant and meaningful to them way.

Along the way, some of my biggest hold ups have been that it was not in my plan to switch to consulting work as my main career focus… My plan was to do consulting work if I ever got married and needed to follow my husband, and/or needed to stay at home with kids… But, as a single woman, I never really considered it to be a real possibility… Yet here I am not only considering it, but working towards it diligently every day. Yikes!

A small part of me almost expects a full-time job to come around now that I have shifted my focus, but I am building my clientele slowly enough that I would be able to have both a full-time job and maintain my clients. Plus, I am trusting that God is using this change in direction to restore, rebuild me, and shape my future entirely differently than I had anticipated and planned for.

It is all both exciting and makes me really nervous.

Please pray for me and that I am able to build my clients to a decent level, but also, that I can move forward without fear motivating me one way or another.

Also, I would appreciate you keeping me in mind as you hear of people/companies/churches that may need help!

I think it is finally time to start regrowing.

IMG_1699“My Tree”, you can read more about the story behind this tree here.

 

I Am Capable…

IMG_1699I have been thinking, praying, mulling over, stressing over, and distracting myself from putting this blog post up for a while now. Something changes when you not only admit the problems you are facing, but when you invite others to peer into your heart and see them too… there is always the chance that it will come back to haunt you later…I have discovered the haunting part the hard way several times in the last year.

Yet, here I am, writing and sharing again anyway because I firmly believe that it is important for my story, although intensely personal, to never be private.

I do ask one thing from you however, this will be a long post, please read all of it or stop reading now. Half of the story or skimming simply will not work this time…

I have always viewed myself as capable.

But, not long ago, I realized that I am broken.

Not a cute or blasé broken, but a deep down all the way to center of who I am. I am a broken person.

Kind of a funny revelation as I think back through my life, and while really I have known my brokenness all along, this time it is distinctly different. It is not as though I have lived a sheltered life, a glamorous life, or even one void of pain and heartache. However, the current result of brokenness aches in places that have never hurt before… It is a solid soaking through brokenness. But, I think it is also important to point out that I purposefully did not say the “end result” is brokenness, because this is far from the end; I am certain of that fact.

Yet, broken is certainly where I sit tonight.

The problem is that I am capable.

For as long as I can remember, being capable is the largest perspective I have of myself apart from my identity in Christ.

Christ is definitely first, and through my relationship with him I view myself and the world. The problem is when I pull away, and stop focusing on Christ, capable is my automatic fallback to place. Capable is my “old man” struggle when I am not focused on pushing into Jesus, and while it definitely causes me to teeter close to pride often, the difference is rooted in my ability thus far to handle whatever comes my way.

I have always been able to handle the good and bad of life. While I definitely cannot claim to have experienced things even close to “the worst” like so many friends have, I can point to my fair share of awful things. Most of my life I have been strong because I know who I am, but also because I must be strong. Sometimes I get through simply by grit my teeth and forcing my way through whatever I am facing. But, as an adult single woman, if I am not strong and capable, who will be for me? Thankfully I can say that I am secure because of God’s Truth, regardless of what I am facing, I just often struggle with the plan (or really the lack of knowing the plan). I would also be remiss if I did not also admit that I am able to press forward and through often because of the support and love of those around me. It is also helpful that while stress affects me a great deal in certain aspect, it has never been an immobilizer…So, I am capable even in stress.

However, a little over a week ago, my stress level collided full force into an immovable object, which shattered the last remaining fragile belief I had in my capability to get through this season and these struggles.

Suddenly, it felt like this was never going to end, I had no way out, and I am trapped here until it all overtakes me.

Over and over recently, I have faced problems and issues that were not my doing, but am forced to deal with anyway. Some of the problems come down to bad luck, others a clash of world views, or still other instances are simply life just dealing out some craptasticness. Yet, regardless each of them must be worked through…

The problem is that so far, to date, I have been able to sidestep most of them, oftentimes thanks to someone coming to my rescue and helping me, other times it has been things just working out exactly perfectly in the nick of time, or just flat-out gritting my teeth and doing whatever I need to in order to deal and move on.

But, this time there is no easy fix, but worse than that, there is no end in sight. There is no hope that if I hold out long enough this will soon be over… This really could go on forever (not logically of course, but from what I can see, it has no reason to end either..).

So, I found myself sitting there flipping through options in my head, and not seeing any possible way to get through the problems before the allotted time I have. I felt my chest tighten, my throat close, my jaw clench, and my eyes begin to burn with the need to cry… only, I was in a place where crying was not really an option… So, I did what I typically do, I took a few deep breaths, swallowed, and forced myself to control my emotions enough to prevent crying. I would deal with the flood later.

However, the reality is that this time, the problem could not go away, nor be forgotten about, so the tightness in my throat did not go away either. In fact, that constricting feeling you get in your throat from swallowing the desire to cry stayed for days… No one could see or feel it, but, it was a constant little personal reminder with no evidence outwardly of my constricted throat. I could talk, eat, laugh, and even sing totally normally, but inwardly nothing I did would get rid of the feeling or emotions.

So, one night I laid in bed and began strategizing and trying to think of ways to get out of my situation. I mean, surely there is something that I can do to fix this mess in my life despite the fact that I did not cause this one.. or the last few. But, as I thought through everything, the more I realized, I have no way to save myself… and on top of that, the real crushing blow was realizing that this had broken me; it shattered the last little bit of belief I have in my capability to handle whatever came my way.

As I laid there, all I felt was fear and failure.

A typical mental exercise I go through to calm myself down is to think back through each situation or thing systematically because it forces me to focus outside of my emotions. So, this time, I started with the most recent problem and worked my way backwards through each difficult thing that has happened over the last couple of years. With each situation, I realized that things have been piling up consistently for a very long time, and as hard as I have tried, worked, smiled, prayed or laid in silence trying to listen to God, nothing was going to force things to change or get better.

And, things would certainly not happen the way I had constructed in my head as the amazing way God was going to save me. He is going to do this His way, His timing, and.. despite what I know to be true, from my vantage point it seems as painfully as possible in the process.

How is it possible that someone as stubborn as I am, as dedicated, hard-working, experienced, educated, and willing to go wherever I need to is incapable of fixing my situation? I am supposed to be capable.

Yet, here I sit, totally, completely, and utterly incapable and broken.

So, in that moment I replaced capable with devastated. Devastation is how I feel.

I was created to be capable. How is this helpful for God to take everything away from me?.. (And, if you cite Job to me, I may throat punch you.)

If one of the key ways I view myself has been forced out of me, slowly over a long period of time, no amount of nice or words or kind things said from others trying to encourage and lift me up can help the shards of brokenness that surrounds me. No attempt at distraction can remove the looming realization that I am not capable and in actuality, I am totally broken and helpless.

I mean, I can function, I have no option. But, aside from the days upon days of constricted throat to remind me, I am surrounded by deadlines, bills, work, problems, much of which I do not share with others… And the looming thought:

If I am not capable, then who and what am I?

Where do I go from here? How do I begin to pick up the pieces when my circumstances have not really changed? I know that it is ok for me to not be ok… but I also know that it is not ok for me to stay this way. I simply cannot stay here in my brokenness, but I am not sure how to move forward knowing that I am incapable of fixing this immovable object before me.

What an interesting place for me to land. After all this time, and all these years to be whittled down to wondering who I am without the key way in which I view myself.

……..

The only thing I know for sure is, despite how I feel, and regardless of what is right in front of me,

I waited patiently for the LordAnd He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction,
out of the miry clay,
a
nd He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord
You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me,
so that I am not able to see; 
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.

Psalm 40:1-3, 11-13

Tonight, I do not see the dawn, I cannot see the blessings, I struggle to remember the harvest, and I work very hard to prevent bitterness from taking hold. But, no matter how my heart feels or my emotions sway, my head knows that I will not and cannot be left here forever.

Despite the fact that the pain makes it hard to focus on much else, I can recognize and be thankful for the compassion that is being born in me. The reshaping who I am at the very center. I realize how much I am learning to accept love and help.. and even ask for help upon occasion. I am blown away by the love and support of those who around me, and they way others have stepped in to fill the gap. When all is said and done, and on the other side, I will be amazed at the way my faith was grown.. even in my unbelief. I will marvel at the this journey and proudly carry these scars I have gained…

But, tonight is not the other side, and I realize that I must go through the pain in order to get there.

This post was written, edited, re-written, re-edited, left for a day, and now I have finally decided to share it with you. Please know that this post is one snapshot into my heart, I am not in fact full of despair, this is all just a part of my life that I must work through and figure out how to blend capable with broken in the hands of my Savior.
Also, this post is not one shared because I am in need of nice words of encouragement, I would much rather your prayers.

29 Things While Being 29…

Venice Lunch.2I do a year-end review each December, which is probably my favorite post annually, but, my second is a looking ahead to the coming year.

This year’s post however, is a different version of my typical looking ahead/New Years post.

I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about this upcoming year, and I have realized a few things:
First, I have no idea what this year holds. Sometimes, I have a sense, an idea of what to expect, a feeling that God is going to head in a particular direction… this year, nothing. No idea.

Second thing, this year, I will have my “golden birthday” I will be turning 29 on the 29th of January. I do not really think a “golden” birthday holds any particular luck or added blessings, but, since I love birthdays, this gives me a reason to focus on fun things instead of just talking about the year to come.

So, I wanted to share my 29 things to do while being 29 bucket list (in place of a New Years Resolution). And, I would like to highlight real quickly that, most “30 before 30” lists or “29 while I’m 29” lists are fairly lame.

(Trust, I did a lot of google searches for ideas) The lists I looked at for ideas were mostly along the lines of:
fall in love (because we can decide these things),
get married (rude),
learn to cook a meal (who doesn’t know how to at 30?!),
have a kid (are you crazy?),
forgive (ok, a good idea, but why does it need to be on a list of things to do before you’re 30?)…
Mine are much more active and intentional…

Please join me by either making your own 2014 list, participating with me on any of my items, or checking up on and praying for me throughout this year to accomplish these goals!

(I would love for them all to be numbered 29.. but that’s just not realistic so only a few of them are aptly numbered)

So, 29 things that I would like to do or accomplish while being 29 (in no particular order):

  1. Travel out of the country at least once in 2014.
  2. Visit 5 places in-country this year that are not where I live (will live or have lived also do not count).
  3. Take a road trip. – A legit “get in the car and go” trip with a few friends.
  4. Pay an additional $2,900 this year above my regular student loans payment.
  5. Build a solid savings.
  6. Go to the beach (any beach) 29 times. – What can I say, I’m a water and sun baby!
  7. See the sun rise or set at each beach I go to (weather permitting).
  8. Re-adjust 20lbs of my body from fat (yes it is there) to muscle – Although probably cliché, I’m not saying I want to lose 20lbs, just re-adjust/build it.
  9. Run a half marathon.
  10. Finish the first draft of the book with my dad.
  11. Revise and add to my Life Goals bucket list.
  12. Check 29 things off my Life Goals bucket list.
  13. Read 12 new books this year (at least).
  14. Do at least one thing (spontaneously) that I’m a little (or a lot) afraid of. – This will remain open-ended cause I feel like pre-planning it would defeat the purpose.
  15. Be open to dating. – This one sounds odd I suppose, but I want to be intentional about being open to dating… instead of killing it in my head before it even starts.
  16. Learn West Coast Swing. – This one was added for me by a friend haha
  17. Go Salsa dancing regularly. – Unlike learning a new type of dance, this one is more just going and dancing frequently since I love it.
  18. Create a list of 29 things to pray for, and then pray for them regularly all year-long. – Feel free to send me things you would like me to add (this is on top of my 3×5 cards).
  19. Memorize 29 new scriptures. – I just feel like this is something I tend to neglect, and I do not think that is an ok thing to let continue.
  20. Finish reading the entire Bible. – I started last year and have only gotten half way through.
  21. Take 29 days this year and fast. – Likely a fruits and veggie fast since my body does well with those.
  22. Snail-Mail 29 hand written letters/cards this year. – Who doesn’t love getting notes in the mail?!
  23. Send 6 care packages. – I just really feel like I need to focus on being intentional about loving others better in ways such as this one.
  24. Draw or Paint a large piece of art to hang in my place. – I have neglected painting and drawing for years and miss it terribly.
  25. Go camping or backpack for a weekend with friends. – I don’t think my friends realize how many things they’re gonna have to do this year with me!
  26. Throw a themed house party. – I have always loved the Murder Mystery parties… So, maybe something similar to that.. or just a fun themed party!
  27. Pay for a stranger’s order 29 times throughout the year. – This will probably get difficult to keep track of, but I like the idea of having to consciously think of this type of stuff repeatedly.
  28. Make my t-shirt quilt. – I have been intending to do this for more than 5 years!
  29. Collect a daily note of something I’m thankful for/memorable moment and collect them in a jar all year. – I got this idea from my sister-in-law and loved the idea.

I am excited to do all 29 of these things on this list in 2014! Please join me in any (or all) of these items. At the very least, I hope that you get inspired to make your own list of things to do in 2013.

Let the fun commence for the year I’m 29!