It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry If I Want To

(Okay…so maybe not quite my birthday…but kinda close!!! And the title for this came after writing the below…)

I’ve felt the urge to write and it’s been awhile. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m to share right now so I’m just going to keep on typing and see where this all leads…

Times have been full. Full of me, actually. And I don’t mean that in a self-centered way but in the most self-loving way (Mark 12:31). At nearly 40 years old, I’m finally discovering who I am which is who I’ve always been…but for me, it’s all new. I’m basically meeting myself in ways I never have before and I’m learning to embrace and love myself like I never have before. It feels pretty weird simply because it’s so different than what I’m used to, but it’s all soooooo good. So good.

It’s a little hard to believe that I started this blog over six years ago and six years ago, life as I knew it was so beyond anything I ever expected. And yet, it still is…and maybe it will always be…or at least until I finally let go of what I’ve expected, of all my expectations.

But that goes without saying what I’m about to share…that about two months ago, Pink’s latest and greatest song came out and it has rocked my world. I’ve listened to it REPEATEDLY since it debuted. Literally, I’ve set it on repeat and it’ll play over and over for hours and I don’t tire of it…because it resonates deep in my soul, it’s my heart’s cry…and it just so happens to be playing right now on repeat…

What about us?
What about all the times you said you had the answers?
What about us?
What about all the broken happy ever afters?
What about us?
What about all the plans that ended in disaster?
What about love? What about trust?
What about us?
Read more: Pink – What About Us Lyrics | MetroLyrics

After about two weeks of repeat, I told my best friends that these words seemed so similar to David’s…the man after God’s own heart. To me, this song is my modern-day Psalm…” The sentiments are all too familiar…

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Psalm 13

I know there’s so much going on in the world. SO MUCH. And honestly, I have always been so wrapped up in everything and everyone else going on around me that I couldn’t see my own needs. And to take it one step further, I felt shame for even having any needs with everything going on around me.

So today, at nearly 40, I have balance like never before. I grieve…I GRIEVE over the world and all that is happening, but it doesn’t consume me like it used to. But also, like never before, I feel all of my own grief…yes, dammit, I’ve had so many expectations of what I expected at this point in my life…and I know they’re all healthy, good desires…namely, for love, for intimacy…for marriage. And it just hasn’t happened. And I don’t know why, but there’s something about turning 40 in about 3 months that presses on me in a way that I have to fess up to so I can let go and be free. Again, Pink’s words couldn’t be further from my own truth…

I don’t want control, I want to let go
Are you ready? I’ll be ready
‘Cause now it’s time to let them know we are ready
What about us?
Read more: Pink – What About Us Lyrics | MetroLyrics

And by the way, I thought I was excited about this upcoming birthday until just a week ago when I found myself a weepy mess in a conversation with my best friend. I realized how fearful I was of how I could feel it [40] just coming for me and how I had now way to stop it.

So I write because, yes, I know there are big problems in the world and, yes, if there is one thing I am sure of it is that Jesus is my everything.

But then, there’s my humanity. There’s my need for affection and intimacy and sharing this life with someone in a way that is different than the most intimate relationships I have…and let me tell you, I have THE BEST FRIENDS in the world. Truly, THE BEST…the deepest of friendships I could ever ask for and I’m holding on to them for dear life now and forevermore.

And having been single for 15 years, I’ve heard it all…about God’s timing (which I’m well aware of and agree with) and that maybe it’s not God’s plan for me (which I don’t believe and will not come to agree with). I’m also not seeking pity. I guess I just want to lament like David did…and I’m pretty sure God’s absolutely comfortable with this.

In so many ways, personally…and globally, the world doesn’t make sense to me. But I’ve also learned I don’t need all the answers…I don’t need it to make sense.

So I’m not seeking answers but just to be…to be heard in my confusion and grief in all things.

Because the good news is, this no longer consumes me. While I’ve learned that these emotions will be there whether or not I choose to acknowledge them, I’ve found that when I actually feel them and face them, then I am set free.

Free to feel hope, hope that is genuine. And to express gratitude with the same authenticity…to experience true joy is everything.

David cried out his grievances, but he also expressed his hope…

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.
Psalm 13

At the end of the day, I too, practice gratitude. I am SO GRATEFUL. So effing grateful. Just a few things that immediately come to mind:

  1. My health
  2. My family
  3. My inner circle…that I’ve waited so long for
  4. My large circle…full of people from all over the world and I’m pretty sure I’m likely to encounter someone I know wherever I go in the greater Phoenix area…and none of this is taken for granted
  5. Doing whatever I basically feel like doing outside the hours of 8-5 M-F
  6. Wine
  7. Potato chips
  8. Chocolate
  9. Saguaros
  10. Sunrises and sunsets
  11. Warm Hugs
  12. Experiencing new places/cultures and the people I get to meet through these experiences
  13. Hiking, yoga and all kinds of physical movement
  14. Deep connections with strangers
  15. Love
  16. Peace
  17. Self-compassion and care
  18. Laughter
  19. Work I enjoy with people who are like family
  20. SO MANY PEOPLE I LOVE AND AM DEEPLY LOVED BY
  21. Everything…just everything

IMG_4388 (1)

So there you have it. Me at 39. In practicing gratitude, I know that everything around me changes. And when I couple that with acceptance, I may have just found the secret to the good life.

After all, Jesus didn’t say it would be easy…

32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
John 16

Take heart and hope, friends. I’m becoming convinced that the Hope of the world is counting on us to change our way of thinking so that we can be the Hope of the world and the change that we all seek.

xoxo

My date at 38

Sooo…big news. After six years of not having a date, it happened. I had one and it was great!!!
But not because it was love at first sight and I was swept off my feet by Mr. Right.
Hardly the case.
In fact, I just texted Mr. Not Right yesterday to let him know that I didn’t feel a connection to go on a second date.
Crazy, right? Well, let me explain.
Back in January, when I turned 38, it seemed so fitting to wish for a date. So I did. I didn’t need to worry about if this was the year that I would FINALLY meet my husband…but instead, how about a wish for just a date?
Now back track to a little over a month ago, I was in my sweet spot worshipping Jesus at a women’s conference. Hands lifted high, I was overcome by His love and delight over me that my heart’s immediate response was,
“I’m good. I. Am Good. I’m good being single for as long I will be. I’m good with just You and me.”
Now hear me, I’ve said this before and when I have it did not flow freely. All the times before were simply me “crying uncle.” You know, like forced into submission.
But this time was soooooo different. And different because when I was saying, “I am good,” I was truly aligning with the truth that I am good, and rejecting the lie that because I’m still single, something must be wrong with me. So since then, I’ve felt the shift in my heart. He has entered that space and I have no doubt is sustaining me for whatever the time it will be. There is no more pain to be felt in this area, only the hope of the promise He has for me.
So with that, two weeks ago, without much thought, and honestly, because I had taken a break from Facebook and since I don’t have television, was a little bored, I downloaded the Tinder app.
So downloaded out of boredom and I guess, just to see…see what’s out there. I’m not sure I thought a date would come out of it since I tried it for all of 24 hours about a year prior and it scared me a bit so I quickly deleted it.
So being that my Father is who He is and I’ve learned that His love knows no limits and He likes to surprise me, I began to get excited over the possibilities.
And so after some swiping, some connections were made and a few messages were exchanged…and I had a date scheduled!!
Truly, I knew next to nothing about this guy other than his first name, age and the assumption that he had served in the armed forces based on a picture he posted. And of course, I met him in a very public place.
And it ended up being the best date I could ever ask for after a six year hiatus.
God showered His love on me from start to finish. After parking and heading for the place we set to meet, I walked right past the very shop I had just been to a few months before while a close friend shopped for wedding dresses and I found myself full of so much hope as I doted over her as she did.
fullsizerender-1
My date and I met at a brewery that served kombucha on tap which I’d never had before and it was amazing!
Then I was surprised by my date’s suggestion that we move on to dinner at a Korean BBQ restaurant…say what?? Korean BBQ? I was just talking to my sister recently about finding a place in Phoenix because I LOVE Korean BBQ. Not to mention the last time I had Korean BBQ in a restaurant setting was in Seoul, Korea!!
img_6948
And then rewind to the night before the date, when I went into panic mode thinking I had nothing cute to wear for my first date in six years!!
img_7023
So if there was still any doubt, upon walking into the Korean BBQ restaurant, the hostess exclaims,
“You have THE BEST outfit on!”
I died. I knew that was God’s specific way of showing me just how much He sees me, and that He was in this with me.
And if that wasn’t enough, after our check was paid and we were getting ready to leave the restaurant, the hostess came over to our table and said to me,
“You have THE BEST laugh ever…I have so enjoyed hearing you and watching you have a great time over here…”
And with only 500 characters allowed, this is part of what I wrote about myself on my Tinder profile:
fullsizerender

I won’t go into all the details of the conversation with my date but I’ll summarize by saying we covered so much ground, and it was rich and deep…which I would have it no other way. The shallow waters are painstakingly difficult for me.

So I had the opportunity for deep, meaningful conversation which I got to be transparently me.
And honestly, I’m not so sure I’m going to abide by the cultural norms of what you shouldn’t talk about on a first date moving forward. Because I’m so grateful we talked about all we did.
There was some heatedness over taboo topics, but in then end, it was all discussed with maturity and respect. And what more could I ask for?
Not to mention, go me for speaking my voice and stating my opinion!! That’s a big win!!
So all this said, it was clear to me that our difference in opinion and values helped make me realize that there was no potential for a second date. And how awesome to be able to recognize that and respond in the healthiest and most gracious of ways?
So thank you, Jesus. This was more than I could have ever asked for on my date at 38..of course, not what I imagined…but as always, so much better!
And to recognize the presence of my Good Good Father in the midst of this epic night and experience His deep love for me is all that matters when all is said and done.
If you’re wondering, I’m still on Tinder and in my short time, I’ve had some negative experiences, including a horrible and offensive conversation with one guy. And another guy who I was super excited to meet and was super bummed when he cancelled and has yet to reschedule…but through it all, I’m learning and growing.  It’s a constant journey of replacing the bad with the good of my Father who cares for me.
And being true to my word, I’m believeing more and more that I’m good in the depths of me. I am so good just as I am. My Father’s delight and care for me is all I ever need.
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
        reflecting our nature…”
God looked over everything he had made;
        it was so good, so very good! Genesis 1:26-31 The Message

Holy Ground…it’s all around.

Here we go…I write because I know no better way to fully process and record my life and everything that is going on in it.

It’s ongoing and it’s beautiful and there has been oh so much since the last time I wrote.

Life hasn’t been the same without Olaf, and it never will be…but I’m grateful for memories and all his saved photos in my phone, which I often return to.

Plus, the last video I captured of him.

This was holy ground.

And I continue to learn that all ground is holy. There is no divide between the sacred and the secular, like I once believed.

Jesus is living in me…breathing the very breath I breathe so nothing is ordinary. It’s all magnificent and extraordinary.

Case in point: Coldplay concert. Soldier Field – Chicago. Reunion with a beautiful friend I made and hadn’t seen since four years ago in Pemba, Mozambique.

img_4712

img_4778

Sometimes, you just have to follow your heart and the need for adventure and trust your Good Father’s provision when you splurge on a flight for less than 48 hours in another place.

Because every penny spent proves to be worth its weight in gold when you find yourself in one of the most worshipful experiences you’ve ever had as you’re jumping up and down in the pouring rain while Coldplay sings, “A Sky Full of Stars.”

With every sense awakened, you find that your only response is, “YEEEEEEES, LOOOORD.”

img_4805

Not to mention the words that your precious friend places on the experience that you found so hard to articulate but when she says it it resonates deep in your bones…”Don’t you get the sense that that is just like what heaven will be like?”

Me: “Ummm…yes, that is exactly what heaven will be like!”

But also, heaven experienced now…the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

This was holy ground.

Or there is the instance that you are connected with the most beautiful soul who starts to spend time with you and listen to your meandering thoughts with all compassion and love and reflects back to you what your heart already knows deep within, but your mind and body need reminded of.

img_4375

So because she is truly hearing and seeing your heart, she suggests, “you should check out this thing I recently watched on YouTube…about a hummingbird…because you’re a hummingbird.”

So you go home and watch that thing, with tears streaming down your face because for so long you have been searching for this one thing, but you can finally let go of that thing, and embrace everything…because you know you are a hummingbird and this is your journey…

elizabeth-gilbert-quote-about-life-clues

This was holy ground.

And then there is the date at 38 you asked for. It’s been 6 years since you’ve had one…you truly want to be married, but you lower the stakes and say, “I’ll take a date, God. If you could just bring that my way, I’d be so happy.”

So you’re six months in and there’s still no prospects and you can’t bring yourself to force it…but in all honesty, you do try the latest and greatest dating apps for all of 2 seconds…

But it’s just not your thing…and suddenly, you connect with a guy in the stairwell you walk up and down for work every day.

img_4367

And you’re thrilled when he formally introduces himself when you have your third run-in and hands you his business card, and as you accept it, you say, “we should have coffee sometime!”

Something your best friends have been prodding you to do when the opportunity presents itself but you’ve felt too insecure and old-fashioned…but now, with all fears aside and in full confidence, you follow through!

Sadly, your hopes are a little dashed because this guy is a bit more flakey or something (you’re trying not to judge) than you thought…

img_4711

BUUUUT…but!! You got over that hump…you conquered your fear of asking and rejection…and the even deeper insecurity of believing the lie that there is something majorly wrong with you, which explains why you’re still single at 38.

Suddenly, confidence is rising and you’re walking so much taller than ever before.

So much so that you make eye contact with the hottie in a business suit that you would have considered way out of your league and never in a million years even looked his way, but now you do as you walk past him and down the aisle to board your seat on a recent flight. 

There was no wink. No smile. Just eye contact. And that’s huge. That is a win in my book and I’m taking it.

This is holy ground.

So A LOT. A lot has happened. And I haven’t even touched on the leaps and bounds and healing happening in my workplace and in my physical body. I’ll save that for next time. I promise.

For now, I’m taking off my shoes and basking on the holy ground I’m standing on.

With every opportunity, I get to experience His presence with me, in me, and the promise of life lived more free and abundantly.

Nothing is ordinary. Everything is extraordinary.

Nothing simple. Everything sacred.

And this makes life so much worth living on earth as it is in heaven.

“…put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground..” Exodus 3:5

The Tale of Olaf George

There once lived three sisters whose parents decided it was time to call it quits. So they did what they always said they would do and called it an early retirement moving back to the land from which they came…which happened to be a tiny island a 24+ hour trip via plane and boat away.

During this time, the oldest sister lived in NYC, the middle called Phoenix home…and the little was in a small town in Ohio.

Growing up the three sisters had to always rely on each other because Dad’s work would take them all over the place. Transition was the norm and friends would come and go with each move, but they always had each other.

So when their parents left, they decided to do what they only knew to do during big transitions, stick together.

They met up in Ohio, and proceeded on to the long road trip across the country with a shady motel thrown in for good measure along the way.

From the Midwest to the Southwest, they would settle into a beautiful home in sunny Scottsdale.

-2

A month after buying their humble abode, they did the next natural thing by adding the sweetest addition to their family. They adopted a Golden Retriever named Olaf…and based on his curious nature, he was endearingly given the middle name of George.

-3

Nine months or so later, the big sister would realize Scottsdale wasn’t a good fit and move on to L.A.

Olaf George would make visits to see her there.

76662_132652393458884_2912111_n

And go everywhere he could…LGO was his favorite hot spot.

IMG_7695

After seven years, they would sell their cozy home and the two sisters that remained would go separate ways…and Olaf would reside with the middle sister…only for the three to be together again a year later.

And then, the middle sister would move to Colorado with the plan to get settled and come back for Olaf. So as heart-wrenching as the good-bye was, she knew they’d be back together again…

img_0028

But instead, a year and a half later, Olaf and the little sister were seeing the middle sister off as she hopped on a plan to move to Japan indefinitely…
IMG_4126So FaceTime became the greatest thing…IMG_4913And on a visit home from afar, Olaf would be the first one ready and waiting to greet the middle sister upon her arrival…IMG_7643What a gift technology was to allow for the middle sister to be a part of moments like this upon returning to Japan…IMG_9274

The middle sister knew Olaf was getting old in age and would pray to not bear the weight of his loss while abroad…and much to her surprise, she returned to the desert.

Nearly four years later and just three months ago, the middle, little and Olaf  were reunited under one roof again…and within two months, Olaf moved on…

Words escape me to fully articulate what a gift Olaf was. I’m so grateful for his presence and love in my life all these years. I’m so grateful for how he became a precious bond between three sisters.

I asked God to let me be alongside him in his final days and they were really good days together…so for this I’m especially grateful.

Yet, loss is hard. I’ve wept more than I can handle. And when I can’t handle it, potato chips, chocolate, and endless scrolling through Facebook and Instagram help me cope.

I know there is so much grace in the grief.

I also know that the loss is causing unresolved grief to surface, and the emptiness felt is also attaching itself to other things, namely my singleness.

But it’s all good because it’s all part of the process. And I’m in it wholeheartedly like never before.

Last night, I spent four hours and a few glasses of wine in a most beautiful conversation with my best friend chatting about everything under the sun in our crazy, wild, beautiful and painful lives as we know them.

I pleaded with Jesus on behalf of her, and she pleaded for me…with full hearts, we expressed our gratitude and with the same breath, our confusion…

When life is not your own, it’s beautiful but it can definitely be confusing. And I’m learning more and more to be good with that…I don’t want it all figured out…

His ways are so much higher. I mean seriously, who am I to know the ways of the Creator of the Universe?

And while I may not understand His ways and strive to stop trying to…I know His Heart and it is good. It’s so so good. 

In my confusion, He meets me and covers me with His Love. I know that without a shadow of doubt because I experience it over and over and over again.

His Love is everything to me.

For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them. Isaiah 61:7

 

 

 

 

Heart work is the hardest work

WOW. It’s been awhile since my last post so obviously a lot has happened.

We’re a month into 2016 and I’ve moved back in with my sister and Olaf, resigned from my job, and just got a new one yesterday.

And I also ran myself into the ground. AGAIN.

I vowed to never let this happen after the first time nearly ten years ago…but I know better than to never say never.

So this week, I find myself experiencing the aftermath of pushing myself beyond my limits. I feel exhausted, vulnerable, anxious, and a bit defeated.

Oh I also celebrated my 38th birthday which always comes with a check-in of life.

Still singlecheck.

Still figuring out what to do with my lifecheck.

With each day, I’m getting closer to each of these, though, right??

Given the first check-in above, it’s been so long since I’ve been in a relationship, so I find myself in relationships with the circumstances of my life. There was the one with medical school where I tried so hard, only to be rejected…

And this most recent relationship, with a job that I knew from day one would be a challenge, ended up just not working out no matter how hard I tried. I was fully committed, all in…and probably should’ve broken up with it months ago…but its redeeming qualities seemed to outweigh the bad…I felt supported by and loved my manager, and the same goes for all my  colleagues…but the job itself was killing me.

So on my final day I walked out the doors of the building and to my car with tears streaming down my face…and by the time I got into my car, I was full on bawling and nearly got hit by a big white truck before I even got out of the parking lot due to my tears!!

I hesitated to make eye contact with the other driver certain that he would have some curse words for me…instead, upon making eye contact, it was clear he noticed my distress and I could read his lips asking, “are you okay?”

To which, I nodded with even more tears, and pulled out  in front of him as he signaled me to go ahead.

The stress of the job took such a toll on me that you’d think I would feel such relief, but instead I was heartbroken…and to the very end, I needed the assurance that it was okay to leave…and not only was it okay to leave but I was loved all the same.

Oh and one other moment to note, after telling my manager of my official plans to resign, I ended our meeting with, “can I have a hug?” To which she kindly obliged.

So here I am…at 38…resigning from jobs and hugging it out after I do…definitely not what I imagined!!!

But it’s so my life…

And while the emotional and mental toll was more than I could bear, HIS GRACE…it was sufficient. It’s always sufficient.

When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end. Romans 5:20-21 MSG

And without going into all the details, God gave me a new opportunity that I’m thrilled about and while it will have its challenges, I’m confident that based on our first couple of dates and what I learned from my previous relationship, we’re a good match.

My desire is for a long-term relationship…in more ways than one!!!

So the journey continues but also the journey of embracing the journey. This is my story…mine all mine, and it’s a really great one. Perfect, actually.

And when it comes to work, I’m becoming convinced that my greatest accomplishments are the work that is being done in my heart…and the source of my job satisfaction are the relationships I get to have.

And I’ve learned that when the going gets tough, the tough require lots of hugs and assurance to keep going…

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
 Philippians 3:14

Pressing on…xo

 

 

Failure, F-bombs and Freedom

I’ve been waiting for the time to sit down and write…and I’ve been pondering the things I would write about given all that I’ve experienced recently. A lot has been going on. I actually wrote something yesterday but just wasn’t feeling real led to share it…

So I’m sitting back down again because I know that I know that I know how good writing is for my soul. For me, it’s like working out, I never look back thinking it was a waste of time. I feel really good after I write.

And right now I just want to say that life feels really hard…and I constantly feel so dang needy.

I’m not looking for a pity party…I’m just keeping it real. My insecurities overwhelm me. And I want them to disappear but it doesn’t happen like that…or does it?

You tell me…because I’ve done my fair share of work…and yet it seems constant…there is always more.

Oftentimes, the process of healing is likened to an onion, layer by layer, we heal…so I’m pretty sure I’m the most layered onion there ever was and if onions also make themselves cry…then I’m that onion.

The last five weeks of my job have been devoted to studying for the Series 7 and 66 Financial Licensing exams. And studying just isn’t my thing, and when it consists of content like what I was studying…it makes things REALLY hard…and then when you throw in the need to achieve in me…that’s just a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.

But as I write this…there was NO EXPLOSION.

Oh me oh my. Now that’s some serious business.

It’s rare that I don’t tear up when I think back to the call I made years ago to my poor Momma and Daddy in the Philippines, who were completely helpless upon answering the phone and without any explanation had to listen to my wails of devastation over my rejection to medical school.

That journey taught me so much, and I was sure there were no more lessons to be learned…but turns out, Paul knew what he was talking about when he said:

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

And gosh, I hesitate to call it lessons. I don’t subscribe to the notion that God’s heart is for hard times so I can be taught hard lessons. That’s just icky and I don’t want to think of it in that regard.

What I am certain of is this: I want freedom…and He knows better than anyone this desire. And freedom comes with a price.

It’s why Jesus went to the Cross. For my freedom He has set me free.

And I confess to you right now…what I know gets in the way of my freedom is my worry over finances and my people-pleasing…and my fear of failure and rejection…

For me, early on in life, my identity became attached to my academic and athletic achievements…success, really.

The possibility of rejection and failure paralyzed me for so long. And my journey to medical school really helped me move beyond that.

Having basically everything I could ever want and then losing it all also helped to redefine success and make me dependent on Him as my financial source like never before, which I still struggle with daily.

I’ve definitely tasted freedom from the things which have bound me but it’s easy to get triggered when you’ve measured yourself for so long according to test scores, and then you’ve gone on to work in settings that rank you weekly based on your performance…not to even mention the measures that exist in your mind…like, I’m 37 and still single…what else do I need to do to make the grade??

So at some point, enough is enough. And on Saturday evening, I had enough…

As I was wrapping up studying for my final test…I melted into a puddle on my floor asking God to take away the fear of failure in me.

IMG_0717

And wouldn’t you know…for as long as I have been full on pursuing Him, out of that, I realized that that fear was in the way of truly believing in the depths of my heart that His plans for me are for good.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So in my weepy mess I told Him that I wanted to believe, I wanted to wholeheartedly believe that.

And if there was any ticking time bomb set off, it was the anger that rose up in me against the enemy of my soul…I don’t like to direct any attention there, but let’s face it, he stops at nothing to steal and kill and destroy…and in response to that, the words spewed out of me…

F*#& you, satan. F$(#. You.

Sigh.

Anger is hard for me to express and that was so needed…so so needed and in my heart, I just knew I was taking a stand like never before.

So the next morning when I took my test, I had nothing more than your old run-of-the-mill test anxiety, and deep confidence in the One who was with me.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

So when I walked out with a “Fail” and no earth-shattering sense of failure. That was the greatest victory.

IMG_0735

Failure, nor success defines me.

I’m His. And that’s all I need to be.

I continue to laugh at my current role in the financial services industry. I still have no idea what I’m doing there and I’ll need to retake this test and pass to stay…

That said, when I look around at others doing amazing things so in line with their passion and talents…I have my weak moments of doubt and envy…

But I know that He knows and I’m learning more and more just how deeply He cares for my heart.

Because the reality is I’m in this world that now comes with social media…I’m also working in Corporate America. And neither are terrible, but both offer much opportunity for comparison and rankings and measurements.

So as much as I want to avoid everything that’s hard for me and hide in a hole and never come out…He wants the most abundant life for me and FREEDOM is my gateway.

He called me back to the desert. He’s shown me the beauty in it. He’s promised to make all things new. And I do believe that.

So after my sweet victory yesterday, I went to the desert to celebrate and officially take my stand against the measuring stick that I’ve been working way too long and hard at measuring up to.

IMG_0730

And yes, I’m needy. So so needy…and I’m pretty sure that will never ever go away…and I’m okay with that because it gives me opportunity after opportunity to fall into immeasurable depths of LOVE, MERCY and GRACE.

FullSizeRender

Lord, I pray…may I never ignore the call of Freedom.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

Philippians 1:6, Jeremiah 29:11, Zephaniah 3:17, John 10:10, Isaiah 43:19, Ephesians 3:20, Galatians 5:1

The Hard Truth

Nearly three years ago, I did some incredible healing work through the most loving and caring couple and am so grateful I did. It uncovered many lies that I had lived most my life believing. And I was aware of them, but not aware of how I had taken hold of them in a way that was hindering me…for all intents and purposes, allow me to share one specific lie that was exposed:

I am not a skinny blonde with blue eyes, so I’ll never be good enough.

Part of my process with this most wonderful couple was to reveal the following truth:

I have been created in God’s image and as I walk in my healing, I choose to accept that He has created every aspect of my being for His pleasure; my skin color, my hair, my almond-shaped eyes, my body type…they are all beautiful and lovely in His sight.

Fortunately, this is the hard truth!

On the other hand, truth can be difficult to accept when you’ve believed a lie for so long…so I have been walking out my healing around this for the last few years. But let me tell you that the fact that I’m still single can attach itself to this lie. Also, the fact that I’ve moved back to the States after living in Asia for a year, to live in a city well known for the beauty of its women who share attributes of the lie I have believed can make it difficult to believe the truth.

So all this being said, I reached out to a most beautiful and incredibly talented friend who brings healing in a unique way through Freedom Sessions. As we drove up to the spot picked out for our session, we had the most enlightening conversation about the plight of women when it comes to comparison…by the way, this friend is also so stinking wise…I loved when she told me that we need to be women who “wave the banner of freedom” over what culture deems beauty.

I also loved when she pointed out that if we’re really tuned in to what we envy in other women, we’ll likely find that it’s not the beauty we seek, it is their confidence. That was so telling…

Because my ongoing prayer has been to fully embrace me…to be confident in who He has created me to be…to stop questioning if I’m too much or not enough…to stop shrinking back, but also, to stop being prideful when I find myself feeling I have one up on another (because I do that, too!)…dangit…I just want it all to stop.

So this is what He showed me this morning…and if I can start to embrace this truth…then I can be confident like never before, and all that comparing and shaming and ickiness can start to go away.

First, I must share scenes from my session of freedom…

10830830_907682809294184_8679176650042107697_o

10373132_907682782627520_6771071717601012412_o

11148797_907682669294198_8692759341770916382_o

Okay, so you can’t argue with the fact that my friend is crazy amazing talented with her gift in natural light photography. And okay, we can’t deny that creation clearly declares His glory (Psalm 19:1).

So often we need to allow the awe and wonder of nature to remind us of His Presence…I needed it a few weeks ago so went on a road trip for this…

photo-1

The Grand Canyon is a sight to behold. Breathtaking, indeed.

Yet this is the truth:

When He was creating all things…it wasn’t until He came to us that He spoke, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” -Genesis 1:26

So if we should be most in awe and wonder of His beauty and handiwork, it should be in light of exactly as He created us to be.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27

In all of its wonder, beauty and majesty, the Grand Canyon wasn’t created in His image…but little ol’ me was.

Now that is some hard truth, and I’m so humbled by that but also embracing more and more that there is much to be glorified in that…

Father, may I wave a banner of beauty over others…may I be overwhelmed by the awe and wonder in every person I meet…first, starting with little ol’ me.

Amen.

Whine and Cheese

I’m really good at whining. And it’s something I’ve decided I want to not be so good at. After all, nobody likes whiners…I mean, who on earth enjoys listening to complaining that comes in the tone of a whine?

And sometimes I find myself share my gripe, but end it on a positive note…not sure why but it’s what I do.

Case in point…

Friend: How’s work?

Me: So hard, so much information…I’m in a call center…tied to a headset…but, I’m super grateful for a job with great benefits!

It’s my very own version of whine and cheese! A whine ended with some cheesy, half-hearted sentiment.

But just in case you are wondering about my new job, work in a call center is very structured and efficient. I have two scheduled 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute lunch each day. I actually like structure and strive to be efficient, but the job in and of itself is pretty tough and the people I speak with aren’t always pleasant…not to mention, I believe I interact better in person than on the phone…

BUT, I get to rely on Jesus in a new way for wisdom and strength. And for the most part, those precious breaks and lunch are quality time with Him.

I’ve been reading the sweetest little devotional that often points to Jesus’ suffering and I know it sounds super dramatic to compare my current work struggles. But the fact of the matter is, He’s not apart from it.

And I have no doubt He’s led me into this role, but I guess I expected it to be pretty effortless and a little more fulfilling. Instead, I’ve found out how much more I need Him and am reminded all the more that nothing will ever fulfill me as He does.

Again, not to sound dramatic, but Paul rejoiced in prison…and let’s just say that being tied to a headset is a bit confining!! So I want to be like Paul and choose joy over whining.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. Acts 16:25

While I’m struggling in this position, the good news is I’m not jumping ship, which is where my struggles would have taken me in the past. I’m sticking with this simply because I know He’s in it with me…and I’m certain it’s where He wants me. And believe you me, after the adventures I’ve had as of recently…a cubicle in corporate America complete with a headset is of an entirely new kind that I’m trying to embrace as much as the others.

headset

I know I’m still on the steep part of the learning curve and trust that things will level out. And while this position offers constant challenge and the opportunity to help people, I’m not sure that you’ll hear me raving about my passion on a headset.

That’s some hard, but good truth for me!

And my hope is that moving forward, there’s less of a whine in my tone and a passion that stems from being with the One I love wherever that may be.

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:3

Life as I know it

I’ve been back in the States for four months and in Arizona living with my most gracious friends and being part of their family for the last two…but who’s counting?!

bowling

I don’t want life to be measured in that way. Instead of counting days, I want to be fully present breathing in every moment. I want to be focused on my journey today and not what it could or couldn’t be tomorrow…because let’s face it, I’ve mastered that.

Oh that my mind would fully rest…

But instead, it has the gift of going and going. And my wide open heart of feeling and feeling.

Taking me to this very moment and the need to put words to all this going and feeling. To write. To process. But most importantly, to stop and REMEMBER. Remember that nothing is apart from Him. Every moment is extraordinary because He is in it.

He’s called me back to the beautiful desert and I’m marveling at its beauty like never before.

desert beauty

I’ve been reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.

jules and t

I had the most precious reunion with my family.

family

And oodles of quality time with my nephew.

snuggley Conrad

I’ve done some babysitting, dogsitting, and lots of school pick-ups and homework.

kids pick up

This past week, I got back into the interviewing mode, which is definitely not one of my favorite things. Anytime I’m putting myself in a position to be rejected just isn’t ideal for sensitive little me. But it’s all good because my perception of rejection is changing…slowly, but surely!

And my interviewing preparation is also changing. Instead of focusing on my qualifications, I’m prepping by focusing on His.

interview

He’s good. He’s so good. And while my circumstances try to fool me, my heart gets me back on solid ground.

I’m back in the desert, but this is not a desert season. As I write this, I’m careful to define any of it. My mind would like to do that, but my heart knows so much better.

The last few weeks have had their share of whining and moaning, and that’s all bound to still happen in the coming, but at the end of the day, my heart overflows.

My life is beautiful beyond reason and He is more beautiful with each moment.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
 who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
 who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
 who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5

Working the Plan

Like many, I’ve clung to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 through life’s ups and downs. But yesterday, the stakes just got so much higher.

jeremiah

Phoenix marks the place of a lot of loss for me. And when I got the green light to leave here, I never imagined coming back. But I also never imagined going to all the places and nations where I’ve been since I left.

Wanderlust has definitely left a mark on me, so there has been a little resistance to live here again. Not to mention, my biggest fear in leaving Japan was that I would lose the complete dependency I became accustomed to and truth be told, comes much easier in a foreign land.

But perfect love casts out all fear and complete dependence is just the life He intended for me to live no matter where I am.

And trust me, I need Him now like never before. I may be back where I was, but I’m not who I was. And everything I had then, I don’t have now.

Suffice to say, had I known I’d be back, I would have planned a little better. But my plans never went as planned, anyway.

But His?

Well, let’s just say when I left Arizona, I didn’t plan for any of this…

Hiking so many different spots in Colorado and basking in all the beauty of that place with old and new friends.

colorado

Making deep connections in Pemba, Mozambique where language was often a barrier, but love and kindness were always exchanged.

pacheco

Hanging out and meeting new friends on a street of the Nana Red Light District in Bangkok, Thailand.

IMG_3408

IMG_3410 IMG_3407 IMG_3409

Being dressed in a most beautiful kimono one special afternoon in Japan by one of the most precious women I’ve ever met.

chichan

kimono

This life. It takes my breath away.

And it’s not that I didn’t have such beautiful experiences before this, but life lived with such a deep awareness of the love of the One who made it is so much richer.

And though I’m back in Arizona, I know that the adventure doesn’t end here.

Because when you have no plans, everything is an adventure.

And when the Master Planner is your Everlasting Father, and you’re His favorite girl, you can trust that it’s only going to get better.

For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. -Jeremiah 29:11