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.

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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.”

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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…

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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

 

 

 

 

Desert Life

I can hardly believe that this time last year I was kicking off my final month in Japan, nursing a sprained ankle over a missed step because I was so overcome with tears all while wearing a beautiful kimono (a memory I’ll never forget marked by my deep emotions and His deep love)!!!!

**See my friend's arm holding the ice to my ankle!!!! Also, see the puffy eyes from the bawling that just went down.
**See my friend’s arm holding the ice to my ankle!!!! Also, see the puffy eyes from the bawling that just went down.

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And now, I’m back in the desert with much CONTENTMENT. Ah yes, I unwrapped this precious gift a couple months ago shortly before this selfie was taken.

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My Father surprised me with this one. In fact, when He gave it to me on top of this mountain, I wasn’t even sure what I was receiving but I responded with tears of joy hidden behind those big sunglasses! I’m so grateful that He knows exactly what I need.

And apart from His love, this could be the second greatest gift I’ve received.

Being back in Arizona has been nothing short of amazing…simply because when you have received the gift of contentment and circumstances would try to dictate otherwise, you cling to it with all that you have and amazing is all you receive in return.

So that being said, the last few months have had its struggles…

My job challenges my mind and emotions on every front. I deal with people at a level like never before. The financial need I tend to wears on me bringing out some ickiness within…and the ickiness I have to face in others can bring me to tears like nobody’s business…effectively dealing with mean people is a skill I’m cultivating in my new line of work!

And last month, I said good-bye to the very best of friends here. She moved on to a beautiful and exciting adventure, which took her and her husband to another state…

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I decided to give e-harmony [another] go round. My three-month membership expires this Friday and in the last three months I have had no dates and am still single…that’s the short and sweet update on that!

So on the heels of my last post, with all sincerity, I can say that I am full of so much joy and peace because these are the gifts that contentment brings…

Sidebar: Except when I’m on social media…HA! Without getting into too many details but enough to keep things real here…between all that is going on in the world (since sadly, this is mainly how I know what is going on in the world)…and all that is going on in the lives of others (which of course always seems to be moving along in such a more desirable way than my own), social media can really overwhelm me with questions, and pain…and comparison and envy…and just lots of icky things…

But I’m not giving up on social media because He never gives up on me. And all those icky things surfacing through my many circumstances are working themselves out because my Father is the Giver of Grace and I am Grace’s greatest receiver.

He has given me new eyes to see the beauty of the desert like never before. What used to be dry and desolate now represents much beauty and life.

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A most remarkable friend so sweetly encouraged me that “some beautiful things only bloom in this place…the cacti (so prickly) bloom too” and shortly thereafter shared this spectacular picture posted by our mutual friend on Facebook (another reason to not give it up…there is good to be had there!).

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And I rest in the hope of that…that in the ickiness and prickliness within and around, beauty blooms…

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of helping a new friend launch her summer line of clothing for her amazing business…in which another incredibly talented new friend captured this…

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There is so much life in the desert. There is so much joy found in contentment. I’m beyond grateful.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. -Hebrews 12:1-2

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?!

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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.

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

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I had the most precious reunion with my family.

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And oodles of quality time with my nephew.

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

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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.

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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

Don’t mean to get all flowery…

I’m so overwhelmed with my new home. In such a good way.

Who knew I would love public transportation so much? It’s one of my new favorites in life.

And whenever I get on the train, I look out the window and reflect and get so stinking emotional over my life. I cannot believe I’m living in Japan. Three weeks in and still having to pinch myself.

But on that note, the transition hasn’t been easy so those emotions are definitely a mixed bag. I just barely made a turn. Culture shock definitely had me. There is little to no English anywhere. I have had to play the guessing game right down to the basics… it looks like salt… it smells like salt…Image

But is it salt??? Sidenote: And I can’t even believe I felt sorry for myself. Why should there be English anywhere? They don’t speak English here!!

And I’ve never lived in the city and I’ve moved to the third largest one here with 2.5 million people residing in it so this has been a big adjustment.

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Needless to say, I have been incredibly humbled. I have never felt like such a little girl in such a big world as I do now.

And yes, the world is big. BUT, I have an even bigger God.

And in my smallness, it’s all the more humbling that to my Father God, I’m His world and that’s what’s keeping me from getting completely swallowed up. He’s so amazing and beyond what I can wrap my brain around, but I know that I mean the world to Him.

And I marvel at His hand in my life…

The last 24 hours were spent with my super smart and sweet and amazing friend, Isabella. She’s German. We met about three years ago in Phoenix. At that time, she was living in Freiburg, Germany and I was in Scottsdale, Arizona. But now, she lives far from home in San Diego, California and I just moved to Osaka, Japan.

And she just happened to be presenting some of her research (like I said, she’s super smart) at the 11th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry that just happened to be held at the Kyoto International Conference Center, which just happens to be about a 45 minute train/subway ride away from me… and did I mention I’m loving public transportation?

So a train ride and a transfer to the subway with another transfer later…

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And for me, Kyoto was a sushi restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale where I’m not even sure I fully remember my last time there because I drank a little too much sake!!

But now?

Kyoto is a beautiful city and one of the most visited by tourists in the new country I’m living, where I met up with my brilliant friend while she was meeting with brilliant people from around the world.

And I have a confession: I ate some sandwiches at the conference provided by the sponsoring pharmaceutical companies. And since I wasn’t an official conference attendee I probably shouldn’t have helped myself to the sandwiches even though it was Isabella’s prompting.

And not to split hairs, but, ten years ago, I was working for a pharmaceutical company handing out free food… so I’ll choose to view today as reaping what I had sown… free food benefits!!

Oh my… I’m chuckling at my new life.

That couldn’t be more appropriate actually. I am reaping what I’ve sown.

My life is blossoming like never before and I couldn’t be more grateful.

In fact, Isabella was staying at the Hana Hotel in Kyoto.Image

Hana = flower, and the room came with a tiny, beautiful origami flower.Image

And the Kyoto Botanical Gardens just happened to be next to the conference center so we decided to spend our day there.Image

So flowers was our theme. Totally unplanned by us. But totally the day our Father had planned all along. He’s so kind.

And I’ll take this because why not?

My life is rich beyond words. It is colorful and precious and intricate and fragrant…Image

And so beyond anything I could have imagined…

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What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? John 3:10