Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Breathing thru the HITs of life...

You know that one.... maybe others mistake it for a sigh.... but you know what it is.  It's that moment where you take that deep breath and then.... get right back to it. 

On this little 80 day journey I'm on, I've made really REALLY good friends with the deep clearing breath.  6 days a week this program kicks my booty. Some days I find it enjoyable, but there are those handful of days I DREAD!!  I know I'm going to work way harder than I think I can. When the HIT training starts my heart quickly races... and sometimes my mind even joins in the fun. That's when I have to make a choice: I can either let things continue to be out of control and eventually succumb to the belief that I really can't...which usually leads to quitting OR I can make the choice to find my deep clearing breath and keep pushing.  I inhale all the fresh oxygen my body needs and I exhale the carbon dioxide... I start to notice my heart rate starts to respond to my efforts, and it becomes more controlled. All of the sudden, things start to settle. Both my heart and mind reset and I finish strong.
 I have never regretted completing the hard workout. ever.

I've found myself using this concept in my life... long after the workout is over.  I mean, I'm a therapist... so I know the ins and outs of relaxation breathing techniques. There is a difference. This deep clearing breath takes place in the middle of the hard.  

I'm continuing in the hard, using the breath to allow me to indeed continue in the hard. 

Life is sometimes full of hard.  One might say that for some, and at times all, it is indeed High Intensity Training.  It doesn't let up.  The moment you have one thing tackled, 2 more things demand all you have.  

 Life starts to feel more like the never ending climb than that thing you dreamed of as a little girl.

The climb may not have a summit anywhere in sight...

 the weight of what you carry may feel heavier and heavier with each passing moment....

the feeling of climbing alone may have stolen your motivation to keep putting one foot in front of the other....

That is when your heart and mind say "I can't do one more hard step..."

But my dear friend... that.... that is the moment... to not fall into beliefs that have us anxious and overwhelmed....

  In the middle of life's heavy, you breath in truth... exhale lies... meanwhile moving your feet forward...  


Exhale "I can't do this..."
Inhale "I can do all things..."

Exhale "Why am I being punished?"
Inhale "All things work together for good..."

Exhale "this is too heavy for me..."
Inhale "He will strengthen me with his hand..."


Take the deep clearing breath and feel your feet keep pounding up that mountain. It's in that moment that we our chaos and feelings of being out of control come under submission of a greater truth... I mean the chaos may continue... just like the workout... but it starts to FEEL differently... perspective shifts... and we start to notice that indeed our feet can climb what it thought it couldn't.

"The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer...
 able to tread upon the heights."  Habakkuk 3:19

Sunday, November 19, 2017

I dare you to move...

It's funny.  After yesterday's post I thought, oh boy... I haven't come very far from the sounds of it. 

But I started thinking, and reflecting about this journey in its entirety.  

From the outside in, it might not look so bad.  From my inside out, it seems like a rare breed of chaos and hope swirling around.  Some days, one... some days the other. 

I realized recently that I had allowed my emotional state to be ridden with what was actually sin.  

 self loathing.... 

inaccurate guilt

self pity

loss of joy for today

lack of thanksgiving

grumbling and complaining 

isolation

irritation and frustration (not the table flippin' kind)

making excuses for my thoughts and emotions as if I had good reason

All of this.  Sin
 
What's interesting is this... since my post yesterday, I've had other women tell me they struggle with the same thought patterns BUT resulting from different circumstances.  Oh you crafty little devil. 

Our minds are powerful.  I know this because I work with people on the mind-heart connection. That's why Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy even exists. Thoughts impact behavior. Thoughts impact emotions that impact behavior. 

And so I've just left that to run wild for the sake of "processing" and in the name of "grief" ??

A sweet friend shared with me the lyrics to a song yesterday.  Several phrases struck me, but this one:

"I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor." 

Ok, ladies.  Whatever our circumstances.... maybe it's moving across the country or world... 

maybe its that opportunity that hasn't come... 

or that child that just didn't .... 

or the loss of someone that feels so unfair... 

or the loss of yourself as you raise those babies at home... 

or a body that doesn't work the way it once did... 

I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor. 

Again. Today.  And again tomorrow.  And the next day... and the next day... and the next... 

It feels exhausting to wake up and find yourself BACK ON THE FLOOR! ha. 

I can't speak for you.  But for me, my thought life has kept me there. 

 It's time for me to confess them, catch them, and take them straight to truth. 

We are in a battle.
  We get to choose our weaponry. 
 I've stunk at that more days than not.  

But Powerless should never be in us. 

 For me, its a direct result of choosing the wrong weapons.

In Deuteronomy 1, Moses was pointing to the Israelites that the journey through the wilderness was an 11 day journey.  Ya'll.  ELEVEN DAYS!!!!!!!!!  And yet they wondered for FOURTY YEARS!! 

Their mind and hearts were in bondage although free!! 

 Sound familiar?!? 

Good Lawd!  I don't want this to take 40 years! 

"You have dwelt long enough on this mountain...  Behold I have set a land before you; go and take possession of the land." Deuteronomy 1:6-8 

He is saying "lift yourself up off the floor... get off the mountain...I've promised you a land to take, why are you still wondering around aimlessly up here?" 

This verse gave me a quick kick in the behind.

 I DO NOT want to be the one wallowing in my own miserable head for one more second. 

The Battle is real.

 But as I told my friend last night... It's on like Donkey Kong.  Cause I'm tired of this powerless, exhausting, overwhelming, earth dwelling mindset.  

So for today... this very morning... I'm lifting myself off the floor and throwing my belt of truth on... putting on my armor (against my OWN MIND)... and praying non-stop that  moment by moment... today... I will live in His power to live in Freedom already given to me.  

 I dare you to move.... 


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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Stolen Aspirations of the soul....

"Sadness discolors everything; it leaves all objects charmless; it involves future prospects in darkness; it deprives the soul of all its aspirations, enchains all its power and produces mental paralysis." - Streams in the Dessert


I've wanted to write 1,000 times.  What to say? How to say it?  Can I share it in such a way that it doesn't evoke pity but rather a stirring in one's own soul? 

The past 18 months, I have wrestled in the pit, with enemy and with God.  My mind has become a breeding ground for emotions that would rob God of all glory within me. 
Deep grief has been at its root, with sadness- anger- and bitterness growing forth. 
There were no words, no act of kindness, no provision that could overpower. 

As I entertained these thoughts and emotions, my actions became less and less... well... like me, and certainly not like Christ.  

"This isn't the way things were supposed to be." 

"This isn't what was promised to me." 

"No one cares, no one understands, get used to it.  It is the way of this new life." 

"I can't do this." 

"Why is it so hard here in this land where dreams become a reality?" (sarcasm) 

"How can I feel more fear and anxiety now than in Africa?" 

Powerless. Once great love vibrant with color became colorless... no charm... nothing left to be desired. 

"Why is He leaving me like this?" 

"Why is there no space for me here?"

"Why do my kids have to struggle?" 

And the questions continued to swirl in my mind and eventually became second nature. 

I was angered over the injustices my eyes were watching. 

I became infuriated at what seemed to be lost years never restored as promised... just leaving gaping holes and dreams staring you down on the other side of a barred window. 

I was so acutely aware of every fault, every "not enough", that just getting out of bed seemed pointless.  My very existence. Pointless.

Too much grief.  Too much change.  Too much loss. Too much loneliness. 

I struggled to look in the mirror and not become overwhelmed with the thought of "What has happened to me?  How did I get in this place?" 

Some say I died inside the day we left Zambia.  Many days I believed this. 

When you lose what was never meant to become who you are, the process can be very ugly and painful. 

Depression.  Lost Vision.  Anger.  

That was me. 

"Are you still in that place?" you may ask.  

And my answer?  

Yes.  Some days. Some days I get lost in the anxiety of future things. 

Some days I get exhausted and really lonely because life seems to be becoming LESS settled rather than more so. 

I still get angry at what feels undone, out of reach, or honestly just TOO HARD.  

I get tempted to have self pity.  After all "Who has 7 kids, works full time, and has no family to help?" 

Often I feel that it isn't fair that I had to return to a "new" place and go through my "worst" without life-long friends or family to remind me of who I truly am. 

But I'm learning... again... for the 785,987,463 time:  

I can choose to put my mind in a place that will allow my heart to follow. Some days are successful, some days aren't.  

 "You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind." 

  I confess I have been a person overwhelmed by the negative.  It has stolen my souls aspirations. It has robbed me from joy. It has taken opportunities from me to bless others. It has placed a darkness over all things within my home. 

I want to dream again.  

I want to release guilt over not doing things "just right" or making this whole transition into a real mess.  

I want to laugh... often and hard and a lot. 

I want to steady my mind on Him. Have laser focus on what matters and let all else fall away. 

I want forgiveness from those I love the most for dragging them through this emotional war. 

I want to accept this "next place" and pour myself out for His glory. 

I want thankfulness to be at the forefront of all I do.

(I'm just thankful that the "I want" phrase is there- Desire is half the battle)

So I'm hopeful that the coming year is better than the last.  That somehow the messes I've made will be redeemed and I will see the "why me" for this journey. 

"When you pass trough the waters, I will be with you; and the waves, they will not overcome you. When you walk through the fire; you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God." - Isaiah 43:2-3
                                                          






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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Year Gone By....

A year and 20 days ago..... 

We left. 


No words or amount of sympathy could make it better. 

The pain of leaving my people, my community, my children (because surely by now you know there's more than 7) was beyond me. 


I honestly didn't think I would have the strength to do it... or at least people on the plane would surely be convinced of my insanity. 

But He strengthened my every step. 

I believe I talked quite a bit about the pain of leaving the place where my heart beats freest... 

And if you haven't read this post, do that now.  

That stupid toenail.  
(I'd insert the photo I sent to Zambia to show them so we could laugh together but I'm thinking TMI)

What an unbelievably tangible way my Father has given to continue teaching me. 

 I know ya'll are gonna think I'm crazy (maybe its too late?) But... 

10 days after our 1 year of returning "home" .... 

my silly toenail fell off again!!

We were all a little shocked... and amused. 
(because of course the boys haven't let their dad live down the fact that he ripped it off in the first place)

But you know what I noticed?

This time... it didn't hurt as much.  

It had clearly worked hard this past year trying to look "normal."

 I even disguised it with nail polish thinking maybe this Summer it wouldn't be quite so noticeably...

 different... 

damaged... 

broken... 

But, despite our great effort

I just couldn't keep the nail on.  

It is never going to look like it did before.  

To many eyes, it is pretty ugly. And that's ok.  

I'm never going to have that perfectly pedicured foot any longer.... 

and....

 I'm kinda embracing my imperfect toe. 

It is my alter stone. 

 The remembrance. 

Of what? 

Once, there was something really beautiful... but my identity wasn't attached to it as I once thought. 

When that something beautiful was ripped off of me... the pain was more than I could bare. 

But He spoke in it.  

Yes it  looked ugly, different, and imperfect.... 

But I can't be who I was before this beautiful thing.  

I can't hide it under fake.... 
or...
empty and meaningless words... 
or... 
  "culture" norms
(Cause we all know Jesus was really good at that... ahem)

Because while the pain is nothing as it used to be,

 the reality that it's really never going to be like it was is ok.  

There's beauty in the hard... 
in the pain...  
in the imperfect.

No... I'd choose to look as if nothing had ever happened. 

 Its easier that way. 

Its more comfortable. 
(for others more than me)

Less risky. 
(because only calculated risk seems responsible  acceptable in the church)

But that's not my reality.  

My eyes can't unsee... 

My heart can't unfeel... 

My mind can't undo... 

He's shown me way too much of Himself for me to wallow in what used to be. 

So, the second year begins. 

There's really no promise that the result is going to be this beautifully, perfectly manicured life 
(or toenail)... 

But I will see God's moving. 

I will not ignore His voice. 

I will pray that His love that so generously flowed out in a land strange to so many around me, will continue to overflow to those He has placed me before now. 

He is the same... I am not. 

I don't have to be, because He is. 

So this year, I'm embracing the imperfect.  

The things that didn't quite turn out the way I'd hoped for. 

Trusting completely in the one who takes all our crazy brokenness 

and lets His light shine brightly through the cracks. 

 And in that... 
I sense the healing... 
the purpose... 

and choose to not fight against the pain anymore...
but to feel privileged to have experienced it. 

It's actually really beautiful. 


"I saw what I saw and I can't forget it.
I heard what I heard and I can't go back
I know what I know and I can't deny it

Something on the road, cut me to the soul

Your pain has changed me
your dreams inspire
your face a memory
your hope a fire
your courage asks me what I'm afraid of
and what I know of love."

                                                                  --- Sara Groves

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Friday, May 12, 2017

That time I was the Commercialized Mother... (in my dreams)

As Mother's Day has been approaching, I've been tuning my ear to all of the advertisements... they are everywhere... TV, Radio, my mailbox. 

This is my first Mother's Day in the US in 5 years.  
(Maybe I hit one on furlough once, but that doesn't count because furlough is simply your brain fried.) 

Is it just me or are these advertisements really putting on the pressure?  

It could be the fact that when I think about my mothering (not to be confused with my MOTHER), I'm in a struggling phase right now.  



It's ok.  If you have only come across the sweet messages, let me help you with some of the ones I've come across. 

"Life doesn't come with a manual, It comes with a Mother." 
(So, I guess that means I should know what I'm doing or have answers to stuff???)

"A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them."
(Unless you are a teenager and then you fear her arms... )

"The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother." 
(So, my heart is HIS greatest masterpiece. eish... I'm thinking it's pretty messy. Ok, yeah, maybe once upon a time.)

"Most mothers are instinctive Philosophers." 
(Great, now I have to be intelligent)

"Moms are like buttons- They hold everything together." 
(Well, that explains why everything is a mess)

"Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There's no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving." 
(It's ok moms... who aren't having this blissful experience... )

"God could not be everywhere, and therefore he created mothers." 
(Oh Good, now I'm a substitute for God Himself.) 

Anyone else feeling the pressure?

That loving, kind, mother making that yummy favorite all the time and greeting you with goodness.  

Sigh. 

I"m not that.  



Maybe instead of celebrating some falsehood, I'll simply celebrate the reality.... 

 that we actually MADE it through the year and we are all still TOGETHER.  

I dream of those fantastic commercials actually reflecting my reality. 

I want to be that... eventually. 

But for all of those mother's that don't fit into the commercial version of Mother's Day... You're not alone.  (Plus I keep telling myself that its only a facade. If people actually think they are that good, they need a dose of insight I'm sure. hahahahaha) 

Much love and Happy Mother's Day 
to the tired, worn out, 
can't find a dang thing, 
grumpy, 
trying as hard as she can mother, 
or aunt, or grandmother, or foster mother... or whatever title you find yourself under. 
(because sometimes just that is a mystery, too)   

(And don't soak into the lies, the great thing is that for the children who love you as the mother... you really are like a dream to them)

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Oh deceiver...

Oh deceiver... you are good at what you do. 



You run thoughts & replay words through the mind ...

creating... 

doubt

insecurity

frustration

isolation

the second guess

the not enough

Yes, you are the author of all of these things.  

And Oh.. deceiver... how you use the ones we love the most to wreck havoc on the pieces of a broken heart. 

Yes, you are good at what you do. 

But you see.  I see you for what you are.  

You have always been the liar.

The doubt causer.

The one who isolates his prey in hopes for a kill

Just to capture one down trodden soul on their journey

Oh deceiver, I know your plan.  

You've been using it since the beginning.  

And yet, somehow, power is given over to your stupid little lies. 

But you see, deceiver, I know The Truth.  

And that... that is what will set me Free. 

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Growing roots....

Well, it looks like I didn't forget how to write after all.  Ya'll, there is SO.MUCH. to say and process, but the time simply isn't right to share with the world.  You know, sometimes you need to walk through things without the world watching.... or knowing... but just pondering them in your own heart and with a few close friends. 

But... That's not the point of this post... so blah blah blah on that.  (looks like someone hasn't lost her sassy).  

It's been 9 short and long months since leaving Zambia.  It feels like yesterday and it feels like forever.  As we went through the debriefing process, they spent a lot of time talking about viewing your transplant like an actual plant.  The uprooting process .... the transplanting... and then the security of making your roots strong in the dirt where God has placed you.  
Over the past 9 months, I've *tried* to put some roots down.... I'll give myself a C+.
During this time, some things have become more clear for the hubs and I.  

1. We aren't really subdivision people anymore. (I never was for the record)

2. We want more space to grow, not just our children, but stuff... like food and maybe a pig (and chickens) 

3. We see value in small town living, and hope to find community there. 

We realize that our life seems like a ball of chaos.  That's not our goal.  

But our goal is to never be so tied to what we have that we can't hear God's voice and have the courage to let go and follow. 

 I am so tempted to have this dream that this will be "it."  That this will be the home where our children come home to, and bring their children to, and where we grow old together.  

But then there's this other side.  

I never want my roots to grow deeper in a PLACE than they are IN HIM.  

I want my roots, and my children's roots to be in HIM.  

Everything else is an illusion. 
 
There is no security in a place. 
 
There is no guaranteed forever in a home.
  
Not in things. 

Not in neighbors. 

Not in a job. 

The only secure place we can put our roots down is in Him.  

I always want to remain willing to take my roots in Him and GO anywhere He leads.  
There is security in that.  
Our children can find security in that.  
We are TOGETHER in Him.  

So, as we look forward to what this next stage brings of building a home on a little farm, and taking our roots and placing them in a small town... we hold this verse in hand:

"Let your ROOTS grow down into HIM.  
And Let your Lives be built on HIM.  
Then your FAITH will grow STRONG in the TRUTH you were taught... 
and you will OVERFLOW with THANKFULNESS." Colossians 2:7
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