2019 – Redefine & Reshape

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A few weeks ago I met with a few of my closest friends, and we talked about 2018, the themes, struggles, process, and how it all worked together… Or totally threw us for a loop and turned out totally differently than we expected. Then, we talked about 2019. – This has become one of my favorite yearly traditions: Get together and do dinner with some of my closest friends and process and pray through the coming year (each year is a different mixture of friends because of schedules usually).

Because of the struggle of the second half of 2018, (which you can read about a little of it here) I was really unclear and unsure of 2019. If I’m being honest, I was still hurt, I was still angry at God, and a load of people. – How do you vision cast for a year to come with a heart full of hurt and anger? You don’t. But, my friends talked about where they saw me grow through 2018, and what they felt like 2019 was going to be about and bring for me. I wrote it all down feeling nothing at all.

Instead, I revisited all that they had said numerous times over the last few weeks. And, as only God can do, I also had several conversations with people who unknowingly echoed what my friends had told me.

For 2019, I have two words (a DRAMATIC reduction from the 8 for 2018!), Redefine & Reshape.
Redefine – To define again or define differently. To reexamine with the view to change. To reformulate a concept or thought.
Synonyms – Specify, Delineate, Revisit, Reinvent, Reconsider.
Antonyms – Defend, Uphold, Maintain, Assert.

Reshape – To shape something differently or shape it again. To give a new form or orientation.
Synonyms – Influence, Determine, Develop, Ripen, Mature.
Antonyms – Stagnate, Remain, Stay, Continue.

The two words are obviously remarkably similar, but also with just the slightest fraction of a difference between them.

As I have continued to process these two words, I feel very hands off and maybe a little apathetic about them. – Like these things will happen, and they will take place within my heart and mind but instead of me doing anything, it is because God will do it. My feeling is as though 2019 isn’t about me doing the changing or forcing anything, but that God will restore what has been broken because of others and because of me. Very much a shoulder shrug acceptance of what is to come with no dramatic thoughts or feelings about it one way or another… I am hoping that a year from now, I will be totally overwhelmed with all that God has done between now and then.

It seems as though I have a hint now of the avenue with which God is going to be using to Redefine and Reshape me in 2019…

For the last several months, I have been searching for a job… (Side note: Job hunting is THE. WORST. Seriously, it’s slow, frustrating, exhausting, mind-numbing, and to top it all off, it is really discouraging.) I have however been in a slow interview process that was also long, but also encouraging because they were excited about who I am and what I have to offer. However, I am now at a place financially of needing to make decisions and move forward; my timeline and theirs do not match so the door has closed. Throughout the interview process, I have been delaying building up my two business’s because I didn’t want to have either company grow beyond what I could handle with full time work.

But, in the interim, I have been paying the bills with BuilderChicks – the company I co-own with one of my best friends. This friend had her last day at her full-time job a couple weeks ago, so that she could shift to doing BuilderChicks and her personal training and fitness company Aiming 2b Fit. She has been planning this transition for a long time, well before any of my job changes took place.

At this point, with what is the closing door of the other potential job, and the timing of my friend shifting her career goals, I am shifting my focus too. I have been praying through the timing of everything, and that if things did not fall into place by certain dates that I would begin having dreams for BuilderChicks and BackIn Consulting (my other business). – Well, this week I started having fun and creative ideas that excite me.

So, I am officially switching gears and pursuing my two self-owned companies!

2019 should be an interesting year at least! I would appreciate all of the love, support, and prayers as this shift is likely to be challenging and maybe overwhelming.

God’s Credibility…

I keep mulling over this idea that the enemy of our soul, the deceiver, the evil one or Satan, whatever name you’d like to use; that he has one singular goal:

“he only comes to steal, kill, and destroy…” – John 10:10a

That’s it, all he wants to do is:
A. Steal.
B. Kill.
C. Destroy.

The end.

As I have been learning more about him, his names, and schemes against me (us), I have also been correspondingly learning about God, His character, and the Armor of God. I highly recommend Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study, it’s great!.. Although, it’s actually supposed to be done as a group study, and I’m preferring to do it on my own.

She makes this statement that has just stuck with me, and I’ve been mulling it over for a couple of weeks now.

One of the evil one’s main goals is to deceive us and to injure God’s credibility with us.

There’s something about the idea of my faith and confidence in God, His plans, and that He is in fact who He says He is being injured to the extent that I struggle with His very credibility… Maybe not necessarily ALL areas of who He is, but maybe just one or two?

Credibility is the quality of being trusted or being trustworthy. The ability to be believed.

Ugh.

I hate admitting that there are areas of my relationship with the Lord that have been injured, and it’s my fault. I just find myself so incredibly frustrated that I have allowed the enemy to deceive me just barely enough to create this struggle within my heart to trust that God is in fact inherently trustworthy in all areas of my life. He is not just trustworthy and able in the lives or situations of those around me, but for me, myself an I, on the most intimate of levels within my heart.

God’s credibility has been injured in my heart slowly over time, and He did absolutely nothing to deserve it, in fact, He’s done everything to not deserve it.

I can look back over my life and confidently say, God has been faithful to me. The Lord has comforted and guided me in the best and worst season’s of my life. God has blessed me in ways that aren’t of the American Dream blessings type, but in eternal things and richness of relationships… And, let me tell you, I absolutely am not nice enough or gentle enough to deserve it… Sometimes I’m just a jerk, and truly truly grace, mercy and forgiveness are my saving!

So where’s the struggle and why has His credibility been injured?

Simply put, because it pretty much boils down to His timing isn’t mine.

I have slowly, little by little over the course of my life struggled with one particular area of my life, and in my own hoping, and attempt to control or be capable or whatever, I have allowed his guidance to injure my belief that He sees me, and is for me.

In June I started praying that the Lord would reveal the lies that my heart had begun believing, and to show me where I had lost hope. It was sparked because of (I think) a staff Chapel where our pastor talked about it… In July leading into Uganda, what I prayed for over myself was that the Holy Spirit would not allow me to set aside or shut down my heart in order to function and “be a good leader.” I told God that I wanted whatever He had for me in Uganda, I wanted to have connection with Him, not just facilitate Him connecting with our team. I also had begun to realize how unhealthy it is for me to lock my heart away and not consult it for days, sometimes weeks. I believe that in order to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s movements, I absolutely needed to learn how to better navigate my heart and head at the same time.

About six weeks ago, I began to find myself just overcome with the same old insecurities. All of these things that I always control and set aside in my locked heart were bubbling up; I had no control over them and there was no stopping it. I saw what was happening. The Lord was finally bringing to the surface areas of my heart where I had lost hope and believed lies about Him and myself.

His message was clear: We (you and me) are going to fix this.

So far, it has been an intensely painful process of weeding through word by word (you can read about some of those words here, here or even here) the areas that God’s credibility was in question or my insecurities about myself reigned free were linked to some of these words (and other ones I have yet to blog about).

In five weeks I plowed my way through an entire prayer journal that typically take me 4 or so months to use up.

Daily, I continue to get themes to process, mull over, read scripture on, talk about, pray through, and ultimately come to a new place in my heart on…

My biggest frustration is with myself in this process. I see what God is doing (at least in part), I see the here and now elements, I see the impact it is likely to have on me in the future, and I see the character development happening. Yet, I have very little grace with my own pace, my own struggle, and the ways that I can know (head) that something is or isn’t true, and yet find myself struggling so intensely (heart) that it feels overwhelming. I get frequently upset with myself and the way that it isn’t just as simple as see the truth and reality, and settle it within my heart and move on. Check and done.

I find myself feeling like I waffle back and forth day-to-day sometimes. One day I will be fine, I will be secure and confident in what God and I are doing, how He’s speaking to me (because let me tell you, He IS speaking to me a ton right now), and then the very next day I am riddled with a struggling, doubting, and fearful heart. – So. Annoying. I actually get tired of my own process, I cannot even begin to imagine how other’s close to me that are being subjected to my processing feel!

A few days ago I shifted my prayers as I have slowly begun to realize where my issues lay.

Lord, I believe and trust you.
Help my unbelief.

I absolutely, confidently believe the Lord can and will change me, He is walking me through this season and towards another with confidence, a purpose, and creating and molding me into the woman He desires me to be. I see the process, I even see the progress, and I very much so feel the changes happening within me. – Yet, even still, at almost 33 years old, I am learning to reset how God and I talk, how we communicate, and how I let Him lead me. It is scary. Necessary, but still scary in the depths of my heart.

When I realized that so much of this struggle stems from a deception sown in my heart years upon years ago and continued repeatedly that “maybe God isn’t credible and reliable in this one area…” – Ugh. So frustrating and upsetting.

Yet, here I am, three months into the process, six weeks of intensive care from the Lord, and He has been nothing but patient and extending so much assistance and aid to me. He has helped me learn His voice better in the last six weeks. He is guiding me daily through scripture, He is giving me dreams when I ask for them, and prayers from other people when I can’t find clarity. He’s given me pictures spoken over me from people who know my situation and season, and other’s that are clueless. Literally at this stage, within one day I will have an answer to whatever I’ve been struggling with…. It is of course never as simple as “yes or no.” Instead, it’s a new theme or a synonym of an old theme spoken to me like, “God said for me to tell you ‘Keep going.'” (I *may* have fallen to the floor in dramatics when I was told that lol)

I think in my head I want this clear audible voice that I cannot refute with a specific answer.

Instead, God is not subject to my need for control in the form of a clearly audible voice. He doesn’t cater to my timeline, nor would I want Him to be ultimately… So, rather, He is teaching me along the way that He is in fact credible. He is trustworthy enough for me to believe and follow without pause or worry. His timing matters more than the insecurity and lack of patience in my own timing. He has been clear, not only am I able to understand what He is doing, but I will also be prepared when the time is right.

So good.
So hard and scary.

This season, it is about learning His voice, renewing what was broken and lost, it is about obeying what He is telling me. I will forever be changed after this season. My faith in God for everything, at every step, at every pace, and in all ways is being restored as if it was never broken or damaged.

God’s credibility is being restored deep within my heart.

 

Heavy Days…

The Wounded Healer implies that grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and heartbroken by life. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve.” – Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child

Some days are just heavy days, full of frustration, heart hurt, aggravation, not being enough, and being helpless to fix it (whatever all the “its” are). Heavy days for me becomes an exercise of sheer will in order to be kind and fully invested in those who are not a part of my heavy day.

I have found that I cope mostly through praying… or rather, I slip away as much as I can and allow my thoughts the chance to let go of the clutter, which creates space for prayers to float their way through my head. I also spend a lot of time intentionally focusing on setting aside feelings and engaging well in my day.

Heavy days are some of the worst days for my heart because I have no solutions, no ways to make things better, so my heart just hurts, my head cannot seem to orient, and my body hurts more on heavy days. Yet, despite the struggle, I find heavy days good for me because they are the days that my heart is the most open to communication with my Savior.

On heavy days the Holy Spirit speaks to me differently, His voice is sweeter, softer with much more tenderness… and on heavy days, those are the days I feel God’s affection towards me. On most days tenderness is not particularly an attribute of God that I identify with (nor communicate to those around me), but on heavy days I feel the calming presence of His tender presence.

I never wonder why God allows heavy days or bad days, because those are the days that I do not have such carefully constructed walls around my heart and He and I communicate better.

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.’” – Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child

Online Dating Help for Men…

So, I guess with this post I have to finally admit to more than just a few people that I am online dating… Or rather, I’m “online looking” since I have unfortunately been on very few actual dates.

Let me start by saying, obviously not all men need help… but, from what I have experienced, so. many. do need help. To be clear, I also cannot comment on whether women need similar help (or the same advice) since I am looking at only men’s profiles.

This post is meant to be humorous… However, every. single. point. made. comes from one (or a plethora) of men, and therefore everything below is factual.

Let’s start with, you do need to actually be single.

If you are separated, seeing someone, married or anything of the sort…
Then, hell no, I am not talking to you. No, we are not going to be friends because I won’t be the one helping you to be a cheating husband… Move along.

Safety First.

If you ask me on a date that is  me taking the metro to a far away stop, where you will pick me up for our fabulous date…
Then, I’m left to assume you are the Craigslist killer and I can’t let myself go and get into your car… That’s how people die.

Eyes. Men, eyes are important.

If in every single one of your pictures, you have sunglasses on or they are from behind or far away…
Then, I’m left to assume you have crazy serial killer eyes.

Abs are so great. Face is better.

If you have a plethora of pictures of your fantastically sculpted body, but none of your face…
Then, while I love me some great abs, unfortunately I’m left to assume your face it is horribly disfigured or your compensating. Your face matters.

Please, for the love, take photography lessons.

If your best angle is to put your phone in your lap, thus creating a triple chin and a clear look up your nose…
Then, you are definitely not catching my attention for the good. Maybe google selfie angles.

No one wants to be that close.

If your phone is so close that I can see the pores on your nose and your eyes are slightly crossed…
Then, maybe you have nugget arms or your phone should back up an inch or 15.

Everyone has a type they are attracted to…

If I decline to go out with you…
Then, maybe I’m just not attracted or interested in you, everyone has a type (or types) they find attractive, it’s not personal if you are not that type…

Please don’t make me explain why I’m not interested.

If I declined to go out with you…
Then, I’m probably not interested, don’t ask me why, and make me tell you potentially hurtful things because I won’t lie to you.

Height does matter.

If you get offended by my questions inquiring about your height…
Then, you are probably too short for me to feel comfortable with you… Don’t worry, another woman won’t care like I do. I’m a heightist, it’s a real thing for me I’ve stopped apologizing.

Which one are you?

If every single one of your pictures is a group picture…
Then, I’m hoping you are the attractive one. You are never the attractive one.

You do actually need to have friends though.

If every single one of your pictures was taken from a weird angle in your car, the bathroom, or the gym…
Then, I must assume you have no friends, which makes you either socially awkward or a narcissist. Neither of which am I interested in.

Let’s be clear, just don’t with the stupid confusing opening lines. Just. Don’t.

If your opening line is even remotely similar to (real openers):

“You’re a marvelous chocolate chip pancake in a sea of burnt waffles.”
“Hey, I feel you appear attractive and consequently would like to explore the possibility of exposing you to my awesomeness.”
“I’ve never gone out with a virgin before, but I’d be up for that experience.”
“Boo!”
“Beautiful! And they said I couldn’t find beauty and class online!”
“What is love to you?”

Then, you are certainly not getting any sort of response. Figure your life out.

I didn’t ask for a picture.

If I didn’t ask for a picture of you half-dressed (or less) and your two little chicken nugget abs…
Then, stop embarrassing yourself by sending them. There isn’t going to be a return picture.

You can figure out how to see what I look like currently…

If you ask for an updated picture and I say no..
Then, maybe try asking me on a date to see what I look like currently. I look way better in person than in one of my ridiculous selfies I send to friends… Trust.

But for real, it’s called “online dating”, let’s actually try going on dates.

If you message and text me for days and I’m responding well…
Then, let’s actually try a date, laugh, talk, flirt, and enjoy getting to know someone new. I don’t want a digital pen-pal.

And because I feel like I have done enough directed at the men, I will leave you with this hilarious meme sent to me by a girlfriend. (sorry for the swear word)

(sorry for the swear word, but this is hilariously appropriate for this post)

(sorry for the swear word, but this is hilariously appropriate for this post)

Seasons of Healing…

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I typically love seasons of healing, there is life and death taking place together in the process. I am entirely guilty of wanting to rush the process, but I never regret the time it took on the other side… This particular season of healing has proved more difficult than I anticipated. Which, I suppose no matter the injury, healing always takes longer than we think or hope for in the beginning.

One of the things that has struck me about this particular season of healing is how little the Christian community addresses what seasons of healing look like. And then, in the absence of clarity, I have found myself feeling a bit crazy in the process of what I have recently realized is actually pretty normal..
Should I feel this way?
Should I think like this?
Should I be this emotional?
Does this show my lack of faith?
Is this normal to feel this way?
Why can’t I seem to shake this off?
Am I depressed?
Is it normal to be so tired all the time?
Have I always been this stressed?
Have my muscles always been so tight?
If I love my life so much, why am I still feeling anxious?
And on and on and on….

I was talking with a friend who went through a similar experience, and her response was, “I’m sorry, I should have told you that you were going to feel all of these things for much longer than you would expect to.”

We then talked through all of the random feelings, all of the irrational emotions, the physical effects of everything… and how the season of healing on the other side of a dessert season is often forgotten about by those who have gone through them. I can see why though, I do not want to “stay” stuck in the past, so even I do not want to talk through my own situation… I just want to push forward.

I cannot possibly blame someone else for not thinking to tell me that this season of life sucks almost as much as the last. However, it is of utmost importance to work through and not barrel through this season. I must feel, sit in, deal with and process each step; then and only then will complete healing take place.

True growth and learning must happen in the midst of the whirlwind that feels like this season has been.

I am so thankful and beyond grateful for the plethora of people who have encouraged, challenged, given undeserved grace, shared wisdom or a listening ear, and for all of those who have prayed for me throughout.

So. Grateful.

On the other side of all of this God will make my ashes into beautiful art.

All of The Emotions in a Rainbow…

Sometimes, I find myself with (lots of) things to say, but a lack of desire to dig deep and flesh out the thoughts and feelings. I think that has been my biggest reason behind the almost two month absence from blogging. I have so many things I want to say and share, but a pretty distinct lack of willingness to dig it out for others to partake in. Despite the fact that I truly enjoy blogging and allowing others to see things that I am working through in my life, sometimes I want to avoid it in order to not actually have to work through them myself.

Then, a person particularly close to my heart, mentioned that they were journaling, and I was reminded of how much I do actually love blogging and sharing my thoughts.

So, here I am, blogging again.
Unfortunately, there is a swirling chaos of thoughts and emotions, so this post is a smattering of it all:

I got a full-time job!
It will take me back to DC soon, and I am stoked. As in, beyond excited because I absolutely love the place I will be working. I am so excited to get started, and to move back, but I am working not to be frustrated at the slower pace of the hiring process… Especially due to the holidays. (For those that have been asking, no, I do not have an official start date yet.)

Also, people have been asking about my consulting work. I still love consulting work! I will continue to do it even after I start my full-time job. I weighed it all out, and realized that I truly love consulting work, and I enjoy working with the clients I have right now. Plus, what I am doing now is entirely manageable with a full-time job. So, true to form, I am doing both.. And, could not be more excited about it!

I am however pretty stressed because of money and figuring out how to make the move work… Going for little or no income for a year and a half to moving is a pretty big feat. But, I find myself constantly pushing back to focusing on how God has carried me through, and is taking me back to a place I love.. How could He abandon me now? He will not.. It will however add to my crazy story thus far.

Whenever I find myself faced with some exciting possibility, I also have to struggle to not temper my feelings “just in case it all falls through.” I hate it, but I do not want to let myself be too disappointed, so I find it safer to reserve some of my excitement… While at the same time trying to seem appropriately excited. I have had to take control of my wandering mind and re-orient it, reminding myself that God has carried me through, and despite the feeling that “things could always go wrong”, the risk is worth it all. I know that on the other side, I will feel the familiar rush of relief that everything went through and it all happened exactly as it was supposed to… But, until then, prayer is where I am turning for relief.

I find myself really struggling to restrain the antsy feelings. It is a bit like trying to control muscle spasms.. I want to be done with the holding pattern that has been the last year and a half. I want to be busy, because I flourish most when I have more things to accomplish than I have time for… The less I have to do, the more I slip into laziness and apathy; I despise those two things about myself.

My sister and I are writing a book series together, and I am really enjoying the whole process with her. She is so much fun and we find ourselves laughing all the time! Talking through the various aspects of our story, the characters, progression, writing scenes, brainstorming, adding random hints and bits of humor… The whole process has been so much fun!

IMG_0502Also, on an entirely different note, I colored my hair for the first time since my birthday (10 months ago). I am back to red/fuchsia, and I love it, feels like me to have ridiculous hair again.

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