Don’t Shrink Back {Be Brave}

Psalm 27:14God, what is my purpose?  What are you calling me to do?

When I have prayed and asked those questions, God has answered.  I know in my heart what He is calling me to do, but I have no idea how to get there.

In fact, I feel stuck sometimes.

And the voices in my head can be so loud.   “Are you sure He said??? How is it even possible? You???”

Doubt creeps in and I freeze.

I want to shrink back, hunker down. I look to the right and the left. I see others with far more skill and talent.  I read a post or a tweet that makes me cringe in fear. The bubble of doubt grows bigger and I shrink back…  smaller and smaller.  I’m little again. I’m terrified.

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personal retreat

Lead me to the cross.

I’m so excited to get away and meet with you.  The car can’t go fast enough as my heart is pounding in expectation.   I sing to you to pass the time – do you hear me?  Then it is quiet again.  Overwhelmed, I feel the tears well up and spill over into my lap.  My lips are puffy and my eyes are smeared.  I am in sweatpants and I wonder… maybe I should have dressed a little nicer?  But you never seem to notice what I am wearing, the style or the brand.  You notice my heart, my mind, and my soul.  I am safe in sweatpants with you.  I can relax, be comfortable and just breathe.  You won’t even see the Clorox splatter at the bottom, as you will be examining the spots in my heart in need of your tender care.

Lead me to the cross

Only a few more songs and I am there.  I’m so anxious to see you, and to find you in every moment. No distractions. No noise.

Just you.

Help me Lord to find you.

Help me Lord to hear you.

Help me Lord to see you.

Help me Lord to know you.

Take my hand and guide me to your quiet spot where treasure abounds.  Fill me Lord to overflow with your grace, mercy and love.

Lead me.

Love me.

Meet me.

Lead me to your heart.

It’s here that I find you with arms wide open and beauty shining bright.  I start to whisper in your ear and you nod your head in agreement.  Yes, you were in the car with me.  You heard me singing.  You were in the mess with me.  You carried me in your arms.  You were in the chaos with me.  You were my shield.

You have never left my side.

It’s here that I find you and see you because I pause the distractions, and quiet the confusion… just to be held.

Remind me Lord daily to eagerly anticipate you like this!  You are always there, waiting.  You are full of everlasting LOVE.   May I always look forward to our time together just as I have this day, when all was set aside for you my King, in all of your glory.

Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
    a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
    when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
    don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

Psalm 51:16-17 MSG

It is going to be okay. {A day at the barn}

On a particularly hard day in August, I received an email from my friend Renee inviting me to a writer’s event.   On that day, I didn’t even have it in me to reply.

The next day, new mercies arrived and I mentioned it to my husband who agreed I should go.   I went online and purchased my ticket, and when I went back in to see if more tickets were still available it said – event SOLD OUT.  I had my ticket and I was excited!  Somehow knowing I got my ticket before it sold out made me even more excited!

At the Barn

I really enjoyed Emily Freeman’s workshop, “How to Write like an Artist” at She Speaks.  One of the most helpful things I heard that weekend was Emily’s soft voice say, “Don’t think of it as a platform.  Think of it as a bench.  Benches give people a place to gather together.  Build benches that people will want to sit on.”  This image has stuck with me so much that I tend to take pictures of benches when I see them just to remember that perspective.

{Side note – I was on a field trip recently with my daughter and we came across a bench and I stopped and said, “Wait!  I want to get a picture of the bench!” and so she ran and sat down, and I took the picture and then said “ok beautiful, now let me get the bench!”}

back to the barn…

At the Barn

I had purchased A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman back in December and was excited to read it, but felt led to give it to a friend instead so I was thrilled to find out the ticket included a signed copy!  It also included a signed CD from Christa Wells, and an evening in the Nester’s beautiful barn!  While I looked forward to spending the day with Renee, I was anxious about being at a “writer’s” anything because of the shouts of doubt in my mind.

I was nervous as I approached the barn, but I walked in and exhaled a deep sigh of relief.  I can’t explain it to you and the pictures won’t even give it justice, but there was breathtaking beauty in the room.  The Barn

I was able to go in and take a seat and just take in the surroundings.

The space seemed to say “welcome, you are home.”

I found my seat and just glanced to my left and saw this beautiful reminder to rest,

Rest

and then I looked up to this beauty:

Chandelier

To my right, there was a disco ball.   That was when I first knew:  It is going to be okay.

At the very beginning, Emily shared a blessing by John O’Donohue.   The words spoke to very deep places, and I was able to jot down three lines:

“You have traveled too fast over false ground.

Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Gradually you will return to yourself.”

Emily and Christa started a conversation, and they allowed us into that intimate space of hope.

They were transparent and brave, and it was deep soul encouragement for me.  They talked about their frustrations and challenges, and they shared ideas and stories.  We were smiling, laughing, and nodding our heads in agreement.

As I sat there, I thought… maybe (just maybe) I am a writer.  Maybe.

I gazed at the pieces of furniture and decor in that beautiful barn and I reflected on my own home.

I appreciated every crack in my walls, and the rip in my couch… evidence of life, and evidence of love.  It made me smile.  It’s not perfect.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  But it is beautiful.  It is going to be okay.

When Christa started to sing, her voice and her lyrics ripped my heart.  Every song was powerful, but one song in particular {Come Close Now} rocked my world.  She prefaced it by saying she had written the song about someone who had experienced the grief of a stillborn baby.   A dear friend of mine has experienced this unimaginable sorrow recently, and if I have ever been at a complete loss for words in my life it has been in these circumstances.  She has called me crying to meet her in a parking lot and I have sat with her in the car with the AC blowing on fresh tears for hours.  I leave thinking I am completely inadequate to help, but then Christa sings about the fire and there in the melody of her beautiful voice, I know… it’s going to be okay.

carry on

All I can tell you is that a heaviness of peace landed on me in that chair sitting in the middle of that beautiful barn.  A peace that said, it’s going to be okay.  If I write in a notebook, or on a blog, or even a book – God is with me.  He’s guiding me and He is with me.  If it’s only two people on a bench reading what I write, it’s going to be okay.  I am not alone.   He is with me.  If all I ever do is meet my friend in a parking lot and sit with no words, it’s going to be okay.  She is not alone.  He is there.

Writing is the very thing that can make me feel very alive and really alone at the same time.   But when I sit in a beautiful barn lit up in the dark blue sky, and I look into the bright eyes of other writer’s, I discover their hearts also beat to the words on a page.  They inhale and exhale words on napkins, in their phones, on their shower walls.  They get it.  I’m not so alone after all.  It is going to be okay.

Soul

I am so thankful I was able to spend a day at the barn.  In the quiet of the country at a beautiful barn filled with writers, I sat still and listened.  Spiritual Whitespace.  My soul rested, and I worshipped.  My mind was quiet, and my heart heard the small still voice whisper…”it is going to be okay.”

It was exactly what I needed.  A day of soulrest.  I didn’t leave with a list of things to do, or a checklist of the next steps.  I left with peace.  I left knowing, it’s going to be okay.  I left with a signed book, a signed CD, and a whole new concept of what is beautiful in my imperfect home, and what is beautiful in my far from perfect life.  I bought a bracelet to remind me of this day, to remind me to shine…. it’s going to be okay.

Shine
“Shine”  by Christa Wells (Click to listen)

It’s going to be okay.

Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Take a moment to pause and rest in Him.

Listen to “A Thousand Things” by Christa Wells, and be blessed!

 

Spiritual Whitespace Linkup

Begin

How long will you wait before you begin?  (Joshua 18:3) 

The recipe that you are wanting to try, begin with the first ingredient.

The friend that you haven’t talked to in years, begin with hello.

The letter you need to write, begin with Dear______,

The time you’ve missed with your children, begin with a kiss on their forehead right now.

The place that you’ve longed to visit, begin with a picture on the fridge.

The person that is mad at you, begin with I’m sorry.

The person you are mad at, begin with an honest prayer.

The husband that is not even sure who you are anymore, begin with holding his hand.

The job you’ve wanted all your life, begin with your name on the application.

The picture you’ve wanted to paint, begin with getting the tip of that yellow paintbrush wet.

The book you’ve wanted to write, begin with one word.

The exercise you need, begin with any movement.

The appointment you need to make, begin with a phone call.

The marathon you want to run, begin with one step in new shoes.

The healing that you need for your heart, begin with a whisper of truth.

Begin, today.   One Step.  One breath.  One Heart.

Sometimes, what holds us back is needing to have it all figured out…

to know the plan, be equipped, and know what awaits us on the other side.

He awaits you.

He is on the other side.

He is with you as you go.

He is with you as you begin.

Begin today.

Begin now.

How long will you wait before you begin?  (Joshua 18:3)

Have I not commanded you?

Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

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