Monday, May 30, 2016

this tension

With heart pounding my fingers reached for the door. The excitement and nerves were rolling over one another, both fighting for dominance. As I walked into the room where we would be gathering and discussing and praying together I felt the familiar sting of hot tears. Always tears. No use fighting them, they leak and spill as they will. That night they were the overflow of a refreshed soul, a desire that had been unknowingly starved was finding nourishment and space to breathe again.

Each month during those Propel meetings I found myself enveloped and safe, surrounded by encouragement, love and understanding. I gleaned and absorbed as much leadership wisdom as I could, and as water being squeezed from a sponge I released all that I was learning into the daily routines at work and life.

With an increased confidence I am now less apologetic. My footing is more sure as I navigate people and conflict and problem solving. 

This season has been hard and beautiful and stretching and painful. A cocoon of sorts. I've gained knowledge and strength and allowed myself to dream those scary big dreams. Yet a cocoon was never meant to be a final stop. So, what once felt safe and comforting is beginning to suffocate and feel too tight. And I'm learning to appreciate the beauty that lives in the tension of what will be and what is right now.

I'm learning to listen and wait patiently for release. I'm learning to celebrate when others are finding their desires fulfilled while my hope is still being deferred. It's a battle of staying fully present while looking ahead with expectancy. In Simply Tuesday Emily P. Freeman refers to this tension as the multicolored life. We can be full of deep sorrow, yet still laugh at great memories at a funeral. We can be filled with such love and excitement at a graduation, yet shed tears of sadness that come with change. 

I'm struggling to stay content with the here and now while taking steps of faith towards the future, my passions. These active steps are moving me towards deep rooted desires becoming reality, yet it is still my responsibility to build into the people and work that have been placed in my hards right now. As Emily describes, I'm living with the Thank God as well as the Please God. 

This tension is refining. And although it's not something I would choose to walk through I'm finding myself relating with Paul and learning what it means to be content in all situations.

How do you handle the tension of what will be and what is? 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

for all the ladies

Whether a stature of small or maybe quite tall,
An accent from Brooklyn or a deep southern drawl.
A shape that is curvy or one that’s more slender,
A teacher, a doctor, a public defender.
Quiet and shy, maybe boisterous and loud,
What you add to this world should be praised and avowed.
You rise with the sun and stay up way past dark,
Hustling and bustling to make your own mark.
You write and you paint and you plan and prepare,
You dance and you sing and you act with such flair.
Your office is large, or maybe not quite,
You chase and chauffeur babes well in the night.
You are daring, caring, sharing and true,
A rare kind of fierce that can only be you.
Wearing the highest of heals, flats, sneakers, or boots,
Jeans, shorts, fancy dresses or the classic of suits.
You’re a gem, an original, a one of a kind,
A smashing sensation, you are a rare find.

Wishing all of you without further delay:
A wonderful and happy International Women’s Day.

Monday, February 15, 2016

moments of weight and worth

The bitter, nutty notes of the coffee flirted with my nose as I walked into the cafe, (for the love that we share, coffee and me, is not void of the romance). I'd accepted the invitation with a heart full of joy and thanksgiving--I'd been asked to a coffee date by an "older" woman. The quotation marks are completely necessary as she is a mere 50, plus I have always been an old soul and she has a young spirit so we met somewhere in the middle where conversation flows unhindered by things like age and trends and hip lingo. It was evident that small talk would not be tolerated, (praises!), as the first questions set the stage for depth in sharing and soul bearing.

The words we shared were meaningful and weighty. They didn't elicit tears, or even laughter, but rather demanded the full attention of the other. There was an unspokenness about us, an understanding that we would be connecting on a soul level and that every moment together in that place would be precious and sacred. She shared of the new chapter she is entering with her family and about all that she has learned over the years and her plans for making the most of her current season in life. I spoke of my big dreams and passions and the doors that the Lord has been opening wide. I declared that fear will no longer have the power to keep me from stepping into my destiny. She smiled as if we were sharing secrets and shook her head in agreement.

Our hearts were being knit together in those 90 minutes. We didn't talk about love lost or love found, or anything suck in-between. Those moments will come, and when they do there will be tears, I'm positive, for that is where my heart is most tender. Our time was not muddied by marital status or job title or any other label. It was a protected time and space for two women to invest and come alongside one another. Women so different, yet similar.

It was a chance to cradle the dreams of another with tenderness and understanding, linking arms, rubbing shoulders. It was a chance to remind each other that we are meant for big things and settling is not an option. It was a chance to remember that we are a people meant for community, for pouring out and receiving. Together we are better and stronger and can help fill in the gaps where life is messy and hard, and rejoice in the moments of beauty and victory.

Differences do not have to complicate relationships, friends. Differences can actually be the very glue that binds us to another. Take a risk: extend or accept an offer to meet over coffee or take the kids to the park or go for a run. Stop comparing your life with her perfect social media world and stop being intimidated by her gifts and talents. Have an actual face-to-face conversation with her. You might make a new friend for life or you might have a new acquaintance that you once had a conversation with and got to spur on in her journey. Either way, you win. She wins. We all win.

There is nothing like sharing in the mystery of deep, spiritual friendship. Give it a try.

Friday, January 29, 2016

the power of presence

It takes discernment and wherewithal to understand the specific needs of a situation, and requires love to act accordingly. There is something powerful about having someone truly present - physically, emotionally, mentally. More than just a warm body, a warm body willing to make the investment of time and self.

Where schedules are full and busyness is celebrated, there is real sacrifice in slowing down and taking notice of all the small and easily unnoticed happenings of the day-to-day. Moments are fleeting and can slip through fingers like water. The future is exciting and mysterious and gives us hope to dream big dreams. But, without the faithfulness to invest in the present moments a dream will always be...a dream. 

I am realizing more and more that it's less about what will be and more about what is happening now. The moments of today are gifts for tomorrow.

The thing is being aware to all that's going on today and recognizing our part may just open a door and create an opportunity that will put those dreams into motion. And even if an opportunity is simply experienced for the smile and the brightening of another's day, it's worth the effort.

While we cannot say yes to everything, with wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit we will recognize the moments that need our yes. Our obedience and wise yeses have the ability to reach the deep places of the soul, blessing others and changing our own lives in turn.

Because in the end it is not about the stuff attained or accolades received..

but the individuals, lives, souls reached and changed for eternity's sake.

Take notice and be present. There is so much to come, but right now all you have in this moment.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

looking ahead

Picture from IF: Gathering

There's something about a year's end that causes one to reflect on what has been and dream about all that will be. To exhale a sigh of release, and inhale deep, inviting hope for a brand new year.

In reality, the hurts, mess and un-forgiveness we refuse to address will follow us over the new year's threshold. January 1 is not the great eraser of all the bad of a past year, nor is it the magic wand that grants every wish and whim in the future. I spent much of 2015 hanging on to hurts from 2014. I thought I'd forgiven everyone, but in looking back I realize that I didn't let go of the guilt and shame that plagued me; instead, I clung to it like a security blanket. I don't even know what I felt guilty about, but lies have a way of creeping in and becoming their own reality.

It wasn't until around October that I'd had enough and decided to release. The words of that prayer echoed in the dark and the tangible peace in that place gave me the confidence to release everything. My biggest dreams. My deepest desires. My knuckles had been white long enough and in a whispered breath I placed in his hands that which should have been left there all along.

The very next day the Lord began to put some of my wildest dreams into motion. The very next day. I have said yes to some exciting opportunities and walked through doors that were not previously in sight. And as I look ahead and think about a new year the word that has been impressed upon my heat and mind is expectant. This year I want to be expectant.
Expectant that He hears my prayers.
Expectant that His promises are true always.
Expectant that He specifically placed each desire upon my heart.
Expectant that He is working out all things.
Expectant that He is able to do far more that I can even imagine.
Expectant that He will continue to guide me in my purpose.
Expectant. In. Him. Only.
This new year will be full of ups and downs, joys and tears. And through it all I want to be more audacious and bold and expectant than ever before, starting with my posture, my prayers. I want this year to be marked by the victories won on my knees, my attentiveness to his word and my obedience to his voice. I am saying good-bye to 2015 with a deep peace and fond memories and lessons learned. I am looking ahead at 2016 with confidence and an expectant hope and joy for all that is to come.

Will you join me?

The best is yet to come.

Welcome, 2016!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

empower her

Dear marvelous you,

You are beautiful. You are smart and creative and have something so uniquely special to offer. Your presence is not only requested, it's required. We see you. We need you.

I know, your dreams feel big and scary and impossible. You are filled with all the reasons and doubts of why you should give up on the passion that is embedded into your very being. The thing that just won't quit you.

And you see her, the one doing that which you have wrapped your hopes and dreams around and your precious heart breaks and spills it's pieces as the lies of doubt root themselves a little deeper.

But, here's what you should know.

Her success does not take from your portion. You have not been disqualified, nor do you have to take the left overs. In kingdom work there is room enough for us all. And while there are a million somebodies, we have only one you.

So, will you be brave? Will you rejoice with her even if your season is one of waiting? Gratitude has this ability to turn stone to flesh, and that which has become stagnant to flowing, living water. And as your tender bruises begin to heal and turn into opportunities, please don't forget to look around and notice the her that is struggling to find her way. Please empower and encourage that precious soul, for we only have one her as well.
Sophia Nelson says it beautifully, we need to lift other women as we climb.
As you begin to find your place, your seat, remember that the heavenly table is never full. The women that you see are not your competitors, they are your comrades. They have experience and resources to share, and so do you. And, you know what? They need to be encouraged too. Often the strengths that others see are the very insecurities that they struggle with every day. We need a strong force of women standing together, encouraging and challenging one another to step up and be the courageous warriors that this world needs. There is too much at stake; this is too important.

Don't hold out on us, we need you.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

the middle seat

Air travel is exciting, often exhausting and boasts of some of the best people watching around. I have met some of the grouchiest, funniest and most interesting people while sitting in airports or flying high above the ground's safety. Strangers becoming friends is one of life's grandest mysteries and greatest gifts. And while I have experienced such encounters, the shared words of this post carry a different message.
Matt Wertz is on my flight right now!!! I avoided eye contact and didn't sit in the available seat beside him...
The text was sent through shaking fingers to a handful of my dearest friends last week. Their responses were full of exclaimations and encouragements to be bold and questioning my life choices. In some small way I imagine they were sharing in my jitters and hoping that the character, (me), would do something that would awe audiences for years to come. But, let's back up.

My fate had been sealed, I was going to be sitting in a middle seat. Now, perhaps this day was going to be filled with smart choices, but once I recognized the person in the black KC hat the day was as good as gone. The seat next to him was empty and full of a million reasons why I should avoid it, plus I was wearing the wrong shoes. As often happens when I am nervous I became acutely aware of my hands and I did my best to walk as a composed adult down the aisle, resisting the urge to climb over, knock down or tackle the passengers in front of me in order to find safety in some less assuming middle seat. As I passed by him my bag either brushed his shoulder or knocked his head so hard that he got whiplash, I cannot be sure, but an excuse me or I'm sorry was out of the question since I had completely forgotten how to form sounds and make words.

The regret had already set in as I sent the text to the masses.

Had I chosen the seat beside him, there is a high probability that I would have been awkward and nervous and spoken complete gibberish. But, maybe after a couple of deep breaths I would have introduced myself and thanked him for using his gifts and talents to bless others. Maybe I would have mentioned how when I moved to Colorado five years ago I danced around my house to Everything Will Be Alright almost every night, or when I went through a tough situation with a church I Will Not Take My Love Away acted as a consistent reminder to a weary soul. And, maybe I would have mentioned that I first heard him at WorkPlay with some friends and we titled our evening: Three Andreas, Two Birds, One Stone. Maybe we would have chatted and laughed together as old friends for the entire flight, or maybe after the introductions we would have both gone about our airplane business. Maybe..
But I passed up an opportunity to encourage someone that I appreciate; and although we have never met, he has blessed my life through his words, his music, his creativity. I had the opportunity to do this in person, shoulder to shoulder, looking him in his eyes and calling out his gifts.
The could haves are the things that steal mind space. And really, as much as I wish I would have sat in that middle seat, it's so much more than that. I wonder what middle seats I'm avoiding right now. The ones that I know have potential for good, but I'm letting my insecurities call the shots. Where am I saying yes to fear? The middle seat may not always be the most appealing, but it might just have a view that is able to both surprise and excite. It's one thing to risk failure, that's hard and stretching and refining. But, what about risking success? It carries the same weight.

And maybe it starts as small as saying hello and taking that middle seat.