Thursday, August 27, 2015

Perfectly Incongruent



I wish I could fly, but stay on the ground;
I'm willing to dare, when guarantees can be found.

Don't tell me to stay;
I'll probably just go.

I want what I want, 
but what?  I don't know.

Give me security;
then let me run free.

I am who I am,
but who might I be?

I need time and space, to know how I feel;
just hold me too close, I need love that is real.

I may seem confusing and tough to explain;
I'd say you're just lucky you don't live in my brain.



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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

{A Broken Wing}

I honestly don't understand why these strange things happen to me.

Well, maybe I do.  I believe deep down that it is because I am loved by a very, very personal God who knows ME.  I also believe that if you ask Him to start showing His love to you in ways that are meaningful to you (and probably only you), He will absolutely do that for you.

So while sometimes it feels like my stories seem weird and childish and insignificant to others, I think that a lot of people can relate to the feeling and experience of God making Himself real to them in a way that meant a lot to them.  And maybe they felt weird and childish about their story too.

That is the purpose of sharing this...to connect a part of my story with yours and to show you how much God loves and cares for You!  (Maybe one day I will write a post about who God is to me now versus the God I grew up believing Him to be and how I almost cringe to use the word "God" to define all that is love and light and goodness and peace in this world, because of my - and potentially others - religious aversions to and definitions of God that are not true to who He really is.)  But for today...this is the story I want to share.


I would say it was about a month ago that I started noticing a lot of Monarch butterflies.  They seemed to be everywhere.  Beautifully stunning in their colors, its not surprising that they would catch someone's eye.  But it was more than that for me.

I felt this quiet yet insistent voice tell me to pay attention to those butterflies.  I noticed that voice and I heard it but I didn't really know why it spoke to me or what I was supposed to do with this little piece of information.  I didn't mention this impression to anyone else. I just kept watching for and seeing lots of Monarch butterflies and every time I noticed one I just felt this little burst of happiness and this feeling of a special little hug from God.  And then my day would go on.



Last Thursday I was just around the house here by myself.  Doing chores like laundry and bookwork and then I went outside to mow lawn and take care of the pool, etc.   I was walking in our driveway and I looked down and saw a Monarch butterfly sitting there.  Of course, it drew my attention, so I went over and looked at it more closely.  It didn't take long for me to notice that it had part of it's wing missing and it couldn't fly.  And then I glanced over and saw the rest of it's wing...lying there in the driveway.



I carefully picked up the butterfly and held it in my palm.  And then I picked up its wing part that was lying there on the ground.

It wouldn't rest in my hand or perch on my finger.  As soon as I would take my other hand off of it, it would just try to fly away.  Except that it couldn't.  When it tried, it would just fall down to the ground.

I felt something well up inside of me.  Emotion that I couldn't quite explain.  But it had to do with the connection I felt to this butterfly and it's struggle to fly with a broken wing.  The way it wasn't giving up and how beautiful it still was...even with it's obvious flaw.

I gently carried it into the house and got my phone, and then went out to the back yard with my new little friend.


Depending on how I snapped the pictures, you could barely tell that it was missing a wing.  But for anyone who cared to look close enough, it was very apparent.

I looked to see if I might be able to re-attach the wing, but that didn't seem probable.

So I just watched it struggle to fly, I watched it...so full of life and determination and fearlessness, and yet so broken.


And then after a little while I picked it up and carried it to the edge of the yard and put it in the tall grass amongst the trees and just hoped for the best.

I felt a kind of sadness as I walked away.  Can butterflies live if they can't fly?  What really is a butterfly without it's ability to fly?  Does it still have significance?  Does it matter?  Does anyone still appreciate it's beauty?


Then, honestly,  I forgot about the butterfly.  I had the pictures on my phone but I hadn't looked at them again.

Last night Jeremy and I were both at home, working on projects around here.  I decided to mow the grass.  I was coming up alongside our back deck on the riding lawn mower when I glanced ahead of me, and guess what I saw?

I may have gasped internally if not audibly, because there in front of me in the grass, was my broken-winged friend.  It was a good 50 feet from the edge of the woods where I had placed it to the back deck where it was now.  I got down off of the lawn mower and I picked it up.  Yes, definitely the same butterfly.  With the same distinctive injury.

I gently put it aside and continued with my mowing.  But that's when I knew I had to share this story! Because it is about so much more than a Monarch butterfly with a broken wing.

It is about love.  It is about redemption. It is about struggle and courage and pain.  It is about God speaking and it is about us paying attention.

Later, I Googled "Can a monarch butterfly grow a new wing?"

I found out that they can't.  Once a wing is gone, it's gone.  I also learned that Monarch's only live about 1 week so the odds of me seeing that same butterfly twice are even more amazing.

But I learned one other thing.  A broken wing can be fixed.  If I had looked it up last Thursday when I had that wing piece with me, I could have gotten a tweezers and some special glue and I could have given back to that butterfly the gift of flight.

I wish I would have taken the time to do that.  I think it would have been good for my soul.  Had I known it was possible, I probably would have.


There is a lesson in this for me.  We can't fix ourselves.  We all have "broken wings", unhealed places, things that keep us from reaching our full potential.  But there is someone who can help.  Who can heal.  Who can restore us to new.  We just need to be still and let Him do His gentle work.  Let Him touch us and put us back together.  And then we can fly!
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Monday, August 10, 2015

A Beautiful Mess

I've had what is easiest to refer to as "writer's block" for about 2 years and 4 months now.  850 days of dealing with the inability to express myself through writing.  20,400 hours in which I haven't been able to fall back on something that to me has always been therapeutic and healing.

Last Tuesday morning I had coffee with my friend Rhoda.  She inspired me to find my writing voice again.  To push through the self-doubts of "it's all been written before...what do I have to say?" along with the "what value do my words have?" type of questions.

So here I am...sitting at the computer...trying to put down on "paper" what's in my heart.

I used to write about anything and everything.  I wrote many blog posts about trivial and funny happenings in my life.  I wrote about my kids and about my clothing and I wrote blog posts inspired by a "random word of the day."  Sometimes I wrote about the serious thoughts that were happening in my heart and mind.

And then I just couldn't anymore.  Shit hit the fan in my internal world and along with my sunny outlook and my carefree attitude, my writing went out the window.  I missed it.  But I had trouble expressing myself with words, in person, much less being able to write in a way that made sense to anyone else.

After my conversation with Rhoda, I realized something.  Maybe this isn't new to you and it really isn't new to me either, but it struck me once again that there are two very effective tools that the forces for evil in this world use to keep us from succeeding in our lives and fulfilling our dreams and connecting with others.

They are both lies.

The first is that we are alone.  No one else would understand.  We are the only one who is struggling in this way.  So we had better just keep our pain and difficulty to ourselves lest we feel shame or guilt or feel misunderstood.

The second is that what we have to contribute to the world isn't valuable until we "have our shit together."  That lie that whispers in your ear when you want to help a friend by sharing your story. When you want to speak up but you know how far you still have to go and so you stay silent.



I have news for you!  Your shit is never going to be together.  You live. You learn.  Your experiences teach you valuable lessons that can help someone else. Right now.  No matter what is still "wrong" in your life and no matter what you're still dealing with or struggling through, your voice matters!  When you feel that inner prompting to speak up, just follow it and see what good things will happen.

I think for me, it is hard on my pride in some twisted way.  I don't want to put advice out there and then have someone look at my life and think "What the heck does she know?"

But vulnerability and honesty often speak louder than the "perfect" person with the "perfect" life who has it all together. So many times my life has been touched by the words of someone who was just being real with me.  Sharing a part of their beautiful mess.

I think that's what God sees when He looks at us.  We're a mess.  He knows it.  But to Him...it's beautiful.  Because we are His children and He feels this immense and all-encompassing and amazing LOVE for us.  So He looks down on me in my struggle and He sees my issues and I just picture Him sitting down right there beside me and putting His arm around me and just looking over at me with SO much love in His eyes and then kind of getting a twinkle in His eye and saying to me "Girl, I'm proud of you.  So proud of you.  Because you're a fighter.  You really care.  I see you trying and I know you're life is a mess, but it's a beautiful mess.  And we're just going to just keep working on this together. One day at a time. It's gonna be OK."



So here are a few pieces of advice that I think I can put into words.  These are things that I am learning through the struggle of the past few years.  Take them for what they might be worth.

**You are not alone.  If you will have the courage to open up your heart and bare your soul, you'll find others who say "Me too" and will walk alongside you.  Not everyone will, so choose carefully and pay attention to your instincts, but those friends are definitely out there.

**Advice will come from unexpected sources.  Take it anyway.  If it rings true with you, don't worry about who said it and why they might be unqualified.

**Our thoughts are extremely powerful.  We create the life we really want by the ways we think. But changing your thoughts about yourself and about life is a long and ardous process and there really are no short-cuts.  Slow and steady wins the race.

**Everyone's story is important.  Many are heart-breakingly beautiful.  When someone trusts you enough to let you in and tell you a part of their story, treat that as the beautiful treasure that it is.

**A lot of days it is going to feel like you're going 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  That's ok.  Give yourself a break.  Cut yourself some slack.  And get up the next day and do the next right thing. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress.


**The sun will keep on shining even when you can't see it.  It will be there on the day when you can finally raise your eyes towards the sky.  Your perception didn't change the reality.

**Surrender is a mystery I don't understand but I know it to be truer than true.  When you surrender a thing in your life that you've been holding on to and you let go of the grasp for control, miracles happen. Sometimes instantly.  Sometimes in a while. But they always happen.  I've seen it too many times in my own life to believe otherwise.  So take that leap.  Surrender that thing you just can't seem to let go of.

**Gratitude is hugely important.  Be grateful for the teachers that life sends your way.  Be grateful for what isn't "wrong" in your life.  Be grateful for little things that you tend to take for granted. Write things down.  Gratitude has the ability to transform your perception of your life.

Be encouraged, my friends!  Hope is always there.  Love and be loved, even in the midst of your mess.  You have a beautiful soul...let it shine!
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Thursday, August 6, 2015

40 is the New 716

This is a story that only a few people in my life know.  And now I'm sharing it with all of you. Which feels very vulnerable but also powerful.

It started more than two years ago and I began the see the connections with both increasing alarm and clarity.

The number was everywhere.  This number that represented awful choices I'd made, people that I'd hurt, and insecurities and fears that dwelt so deep inside of me that the light of truth hadn't even yet shone on a lot of them.

It did not strike me as coincidence that I was seeing this number at a time when I was about to repeat some of my same mistakes and make more choices that would hurt those I professed to love. Still on that search to artificially heal what was so deeply broken and lacking inside of me.  That lack of coincidence helped me to see this appearance of the number as a warning sign from God.  A flashing red light that He brought into my path time and again.  Which I ignored. Time and again.

First it was that casual glance at the clock soon after I'd woke up in the morning and there it would be.  7:16    Bold and red.  I dare you to look away.

Then it was the last three digits of an invoice I was entering at work.  Or on the back of a semi trailer I was following down the highway.  It was on license plates and road signs and price tags.

And the clock.  Always the clock.  I wouldn't glance at the clock for hours and then I would check the time and, as if my attention had been pulled by some mysterious force, there it was.  7:16

I remember the time that I was flying out for a girl's weekend.  I was on the phone with a man who was not my husband and I walked up to the kiosk to get my boarding pass printed out.  I remember looking at the time down in the bottom right hand corner and sending a picture of it to the man who was not my husband and saying "Notice the time down in the corner?"  I had told him the story and the significance of the number to me.

Sometimes I would actual startle when I would see the number.  It would be in red, or black, white or green.  Unexpectedly.  That was how it almost always showed up.

I learned that you see what you look for.  The number 716 is not an easy number to see.  But when it has significance to you and especially a significance that you would rather ignore, you somehow see it everywhere.  The universe can be persistant like that.

And then I had the dream.  Which was as real to me as anything has ever been.  I was away for a few days of alone time.  October 2013.  I had been reading and praying and just being in silence and then I felt tired and I lay down for a little nap.

I would up with such a start that it was as if a gun had gone off in my room.  I sat up in the bed and I only had one thought in my mind.  The dream I had just been startled awake from.  In this dream, God showed me that I would know that I had conquered my long standing issues surrounding the belief that there is someone out there that would make me happy...when I started seeing the number 40 instead of the number 716.

Does this sound crazy?  Yes.  Is it true as true can be?  Yes.  And I knew it. Without a shadow of a doubt.

One would think, using powers of logic, that the number 40 would be much easier to see than the number 716.  One obvious reason is the number of digits that need to be present.  Another is the fact that 40 is a round number of even ten's and 716 is a very random number somewhere between 500 and 1,000.

But could I ever see the number 40?  No.  Never.

Until about exactly a year later.  When I again went away for what is now becoming my annual couple of days of solitude.  I spent time praying. I spent time in silence.  I read. God miraculously (different story for another time) brought a book into my path that I read during my time alone in that big vacation house.  I cried.  I marveled.

And on my drive home, I passed through a town that had not one, not two, but three huge 40 mile per hour speed limit signs.  I laughed. I cried. I praised.

For the next day or two, I saw the number 40 a few more times. I thought "This is it.  This is my sign." And then it stopped.  Just like that.  I didn't know how to change what I was seeing and I figured it just meant I wasn't far enough along on my journey yet.  But that there was hope.

Fast forward to early June of this year.  The kids and I set out on our amazing road trip adventure.  A lot had been changing in me in the past year or two.  I knew that.  But we are always hardest on ourselves and sometimes until something makes us take a step back, we can't see the distance between point A and point B. It can feel like all we've been doing is climbing, and when we look up, the top of the mountain is still just as far away and obscured by clouds.

It started with one speed limit sign.  40 MPH.  Isn't it usually 45?  But no, here was a 40 MPH sign. And then there was another.  And another.  Down through Iowa and into that small town in Missouri that we wound our way through.  Slow down.  40 MPH.

I smiled to myself as I kept seeing the number 40. I texted my friend from back home and said "I think this trip is going to go well.  I keep seeing the number 40."  She was happy for me.

That's been 2 months ago and it hasn't stopped!  I see this number everywhere.  In the time on the clock when I glance over and it reads 9:40.  In the calories I've burned on the eliptical at the gym. In speed limit signs.  On license plates and road signs and price tags.  On invoices I enter when I'm doing bookwork.

It's a miracle.  It's my miracle!  It doesn't have to make sense to anyone else.  It doesn't have to match anyone else's story.  But that's the power of our experiences.  They are ours alone and the telling of those stories and what they mean to us is powerful. The way our life has been shaped by those stories and the driving force (God) behind them is powerful.

Have I conquered my demons, as my dream had indicated?  Some days it certainly doesn't feel like it. The struggle is still there.  The insecuries and fears and old ways of thinking die hard.

Once this spring when I was alone at the cabin where I sought solitude, I cried out to my loving Father God and I said "Show me what you see when you look at me!!"  Please.  I sat there with tears running down my face.  Tears fueled by long years of seeing myself through a very distorted and negative lens.  You know the kind of thoughts? Those demeaning and defeating words we speak to ourselves?  The kind of words we would be appalled to have another person say to us.

God so firmly and gently and lovingly spoke this to me, and I wrote it down in my little red, leather diary.

Audrey, you are...

Faithful

Honest (because He knows me)

Sane (because He made me)

Pure

All of these words represented things I doubted about myself.  Things I wondered if I would ever be. I have thought of this encounter with God so often since then in moments of self-doubt and self-hatred.

So can I say I have arrived in my journey because I now see the number 40?  Probably not.  But you know what it means to me these days?  It represents hope.  It represents strength that is greater than my own. It represents a power that I have access to...within me.  It represents a journey and the promise that while I'll never "have it together", I will always have the tool necessary to make the right choices.  It flashes in front of my eyes when I feel unable.  It literally has shown up seconds after I've had discouraging thoughts about where I am on my journey.  It encourages me.  Daily.  And He knows ALL of that.  He knows ME.

God has seldom shown up in my life in ways that I have expected.  But He has always shown up in ways that were meaningful to me when I have opened my eyes and surrendered my heart.  What they say about perception is true. We really do see what we look for!
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

{A New Chapter}

A lot of changes have happened in my life lately.  Big changes. 

I quit a job that I've had for the past 6 1/2 years...doing bookkeeping for the pellet mill in town.  Along with that was a lot of letting go...relationship and work wise.

An honest and wise friend told me lately that she thinks I have a hard time letting go of things.  Relationships. Jobs. The easy and comfortable.  I know she's right.  Part of the issue for me is knowing when to hang on and try harder and when to let go.



I was feeling anxious about the changes in my life.  What if, without a job, I was too bored and drove myself crazy? After all, I'm {mostly} unemployed for the first time in 20 years.

This is only the second week of my "retirement" and I have to say...I am loving it so far!  Not that I plan to never work again, I know myself too well to think that will work out, but for now, it's been great.  I am realizing that sometimes life just gets you in a rut and when you step back, you realize you aren't even doing what you want to be doing and you're just going along on auto pilot.  Fulfilling commitments and obligations and just getting swept along with the current.  I realize that most people don't have the chance or the luxury of being able to hit the "pause" button and re-evaluate what they really want to be doing with the hours in their day, but I think we can all do that on a smaller scale if we take the time to consider it.



Anyway, one of my goals for the months of April and May was to spend a day a week in solitude. I cannot tell you the reason for this or what will come of it, only that I have known intuitively that this was somehow very important in my process of healing and growth.  I have been praying since last fall to find a cabin close by to be able to use for this purpose.  A peaceful place in the woods where I could just get away from it all and find clarity and direction.

God totally answered that prayer through a friend of mine whose brother in law owns a cabin that is un-used these days.  Granted, I wanted it to be by a lake, but there is even a lesson in that for me:  Don't allow your expectations of what something is going to look like prevent you from seeing the amazing blessings that are right in front of you!

                                                      (My little hide-away in the pines)

Yesterday found me there again and it was the most amazing, gorgeous spring weather!  Sunny and 66 degrees.  I took a walk, sat and read, talked to God, listened and observed, and then I sat down in the sun on this little bench and got out my "writing promps" book to see if I could get some inspiration to write.


The very first page I opened up to had the writing prompt of "Write a new chapter in your life right now".  I didn't have to look much further.  I knew that writing about this made total sense right now.

I am sharing with you what I wrote yesterday and I hope that it inspires you in some way.

"The new chapter in my life starts now.  Granted, it probably started a long time ago because life is a journey, more circular in nature than a straight path and I've noticed that life's lessons keep circling around until you're ready to find a seat, plant your ass in that chair and actually pay attention to what the teacher is saying.

So when I say the new chapter starts now, it is also inferred that tomorrow morning the new chapter starts again. And the morning after that.

The person we believe we are and the choices that we make out of that belief are not one time decisions. We make them over and over and over again.  One good choice begets another.  You cannot believe in yourself and your positive affirmations and your thoughts about where your identity lies if you are consistently making choices that do not back that up.  You will feel fractured and splintered, restless and lacking peace.  Trust me.  I fuckin' know.

So starting now...  I am not who I was.  I am more than the sum of my past mistakes.  I am a woman of courage.  I am honest, even when it scares me or causes conflict.  I am faithful and loyal.  I am positive and hopeful.  I am habitually grateful.  I am sane and I have much wisdom inside of me.  I am secure in who I am and I am not afraid of how other's perceive me.  I know that I am strong and that no matter what happens, I will get through it and come out having learned something that I can put in my life's toolbox.  This is the new chapter in my life and it starts NOW."


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Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Girl I Used to Be

Is it possible that you brain forgets how to do something it once knew how to do with hardly a thought?  I used to write a blog post every day.  I called it the "RWOTD" post -- it stood for "Random Word of the Day".  I would literally use a website to generate a random word for me and then I would write about it.  Just like that.


Now, I sit down to write one single blog post and I find myself frozen and fearful.  I know what I want to say but I'm not sure if I still have that ability to write.  To express myself effortlessly.  Surely I haven't thrown away the key in the midst of my (sometimes frantic) internal house cleaning?


The fear blocks my way.  What if I can't write any more? Writing has always been a way for me to figure out what I am feeling.  From the time I was a little girl, I kept journals and diaries.  Piles of them are still in a tote in my storage room.  Even in recent years, from time to time, I will pull out a notebook and write a letter that I may or may not ever send or give, or just pour out my thoughts in a written prayer to a God who I know is there but who probably can't hear my small, strangled voice.  Who knows?  Maybe He can make some sense out of my horrible handwriting.


I just read today that living Fearlessly really isn't a goal to reach for.  The goal is to learn to live with your fears, invite them along on the trip, know that they are bound to show up alongside courage and creativity, but don't allow them to make the decisions or drive the car on this road trip of life.  Reading that gave me the courage to sit down here and try to write out something that I've been thinking about.


I've been trying for years to find my way back to the girl I used to be.  The one who could write a blog post every day, no sweat.  The girl who was blithely happy and easy to be around.  The girl who always stepped outside and saw sunshine in the sky, even when it was cloudy.  The girl who, in retrospect, seems perfect to me and larger than life. 


Around the time I turned 30, that girl started to disappear.  Not all of a sudden, it was more subtle and quiet than that.  There wasn't any kicking or screaming, it was more of a slow melting into a pool of despair and sadness.  I'd spent my 20's getting married, having babies, working part time, and most of all, being FINE.  Always fine.  Emotionally, I was strong.  I could handle it all.  How do you do it?  people would ask.  I don't know, I'd say.  I just do. 


I wanted to please everyone around me, so I was a good wife, a good mother, a good bookkeeper.  If something I felt made someone else uncomfortable or unhappy, then guess what?  I could change. I didn't need to have needs.  Being heard is overrated and listening to your own inner guidance even more unnecessary.  Just do the next thing.  Feed the baby.  Smile. Make dinner. Smile. Fold the laundry. Smile.  Stuff the negative feelings.  Smile.  You're FINE.  Don't be weak.  Don't cause drama. Smile.


But the crack had started to give way to a gaping hole and my emotional duct tape and hot glue wasn't holding anymore.  All that emotion I'd been holding back?  It showed up in the form of despair and grey skies and detachment and personality change and chronic mind racing.  I felt desperate to figure out where that happy girl had gone.  And who had she dropped off in her place?  I felt like I didn't even know myself.  Who is this imposter who took over my life and my relationships and my emotions?  And how do I get rid of her?


One of the truths of life is that the way out is often through, not up or down or around.  So I trudged on.  Holding on to hope that eventually I would circle back around to where that girl was waiting and she'd say "Oh, there you are!  I've been looking for you!  So glad to so you.  Here, let me take over now" and everything would be FINE again.  I'd be happy.  I would see sunshine even when it was cloudy.


But that never happened. And I grew more and more frustrated in my journey of getting back to who I had been.  This was the ideal that I was chasing.


Here's the thing about life.  You don't go back.  You can't walk through the wilderness and come out the same.  You can't face your fears and look them in the eye and expect to be the same person after that encounter. You can't reach the end of yourself and not find someone bigger than you waiting to help you.  You can't learn to face your emotions instead of running from them and then expect not to feel anything but happiness.  You can't go through such difficult times that nurture qualities in you like grace and empathy and forgiveness and expect to go back to the land of judgment and having it all together and "what the heck is wrong with that person"?


This is the light that dawned for me and what I want to tell you all.  You can't go back, but you can accept that you can't go back.  You can't go back, but you can look back on your journey and see the good in it.  You can see ways that you have grown.  Strengths that have come from the difficulty.  And you can see the GOOD in that.


There is such a freedom in realizing that life is a journey of learning.  You don't travel the same path twice.  There are twists and turns and new experiences and challenges around every corner.  Sometimes the path is smooth and the day is clear and sunny, and other times the path is rocky and steep and full of dangers and scary monsters.  But the only choice is to keep on walking.  Otherwise, you die.


I needed to give up on the idea of  "getting back to how I used to feel" and know that maybe I've lost some of that blithe innocence of my twenties, but I've gained a lot of other things along the way.  I may never feel the way I used to feel back when I didn't let myself feel.  I may have more sadness in my eyes on days, but I also have more experience and more graciousness and more kindness.  I am not flawed.  I am not broken.  I do not need to strive to "go back" to what seemed to be a better place and time.


It's ok that I'm here.  That I am 36 years old and irrevocably altered by life. 


Come to think of it, I'm not sure I would want to go back if I could.  I'd rather move forward with more wisdom and grace and compassion for myself and for others. 


And honestly?  I think that girl from my twenties would approve.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

What If...

I had barely hit the send button on the invites to my book project when I felt completely overwhelmed by emotion.

I found myself going to the kitchen and getting a slice of pizza and then a bowl of ice cream. Comfort foods, I guess.  We can learn so much about ourselves if we are conscious and observe the way we respond in situations and how we handle emotions.  In this case, turning to food for comfort. Yay! Another "issue" to be aware of.  I'm always happy when I discover those.  (italics is my sarcasm font)

I took my ice cream and went and sat outside on the porch swing in the warm September sun.  I wanted to cry.  Mostly because I am afraid.  Very afraid.

I've observed this...I may think that I don't have fears until I actually am in a situation where I have to face them.

You can talk for years about how you are not afraid of the dark if you always make sure to stay inside after dark with all the lights in the house turned on.  But you step outside that front door and actually face the darkness, you'll find those fears coming right to the surface.

Of what am I afraid, you might ask?

Here are some fears that I can verbalize in relation to this project I am embarking upon.

What if no one responds to my invite?  (This one was obviously an unnecessary fear and I was overhwhelmed and grateful for the response that I received from people yesterday. Thank you!)

What if the interviews are awkward and I ask all the wrong questions and people don't open up?

What if I fail at this whole thing and it just flops and nothing comes of it?  The biggest fear in this is that I will let myself down and confirm my fears that I am not meant for anything out of the ordinary.

What if I don't have the skills needed to pull this thing together?

What if I get into an interview and there is a lot of emotion and I say the wrong thing or come across as insensitive?

What if this project causes me to look into things in my own life that I'm not ready to deal with?

Something (God) prompted me to study the words "What If".  Could they spell something else backwards? (Not anything that made sense.)  But when I looked more closely, the words "what if", when re-arranged, spell "Faith" (with a leftover w - just to mess with my OCD tendencies).  Who knew??

That's the trade off I need to make.  Let go of all the "what if's" and have Faith.  I have no idea what all that looks like but I know that what it doesn't look like is certainty. 

Or, how about turning those "What if's" into positives instead of negatives?

What if someone's life is helped or healed in some way through sharing their story, maybe for the first time?

What if the book is published one day and it impacts even one life or helps one person to realize they are not alone?

What if this is the beginning of a great part of my journey and process towards wholeness and healing?

What if God is in all of this in a bigger way than I can imagine?

What if one other person is inspired to step out and pursue a dream that they've had in their heart?

What If versus Faith.   Like so very many things in life, its just a matter of perspective!
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