Posted in NaBloPoMo, NanoPoblano

Bravery Blessings

When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?

The past few months have seen me do more brave things than I’ve done in a really long time. I’m not sure why this surge of bravery, but it has without a doubt breathed new life back into my tired mind and body. For very long periods of my life, coming up with a single brave act would be challenging at best, but I find myself with the unnatural dilemma of picking just one.  WHAT?!?  I don’t even know who I am right now.  

And, since this is MY blog, I can make up the rules as I go and will therefore provide a list (in the most humble way I can) of the brave things I’ve done recently.

  • I flew without the aid of prescription sedatives (alcohol does NOT count here), for not one trip, but two. Actually, I’ve travelled by plane 3 different times since mid September alone. For most of you, this is a very regular occurrence.  It is not for me and trust me when I say this took courage….and a lot of it.
  • I poured out my heart to my church for five passionate, heartfelt minutes about a little town in Alabama that so desperately needs us to show them what it means to be children of a King. I issued a challenge and I’ll do the work to see it through, but I know that God will make it happen. We must reflect God’s love and show others how to do the same, even in the places where fear controls us.
  • I sat in a room with eight women I did not know (and one I did) and told my personal story of and through racism. The words that poured from my heart were not my own, but God’s gentle spirit telling a story of shame and ignorance. Our stories matter, even if they are not easy to tell.
  • I spoke (through recorded video) to a group of 125 women at a retreat I helped to organize and plan. God put me in a place to tell my truth so that others could tell theirs. And truth telling is how we take away shame’s hold on us.

The second part of the today’s prompt asks a simple question.  “What happened?” Had I selected a single act of bravery as the prompt suggest, this would probably be the point where I would wrap up the story with some valuable life lesson, and tie it up with a pretty bow. Instead, I’m going to tell you what didn’t happen.  

  • I didn’t let my irrational fear of flying stop me from traveling with two incredibly godly men to follow God’s call to help the people of a small town in Alabama. I didn’t let my inexperience and childlike faith stop me from speaking up in a room where every other person was so much smarter and wiser than myself. I didn’t let fear clip my wings.
  • I didn’t let my inner voice say no when the pastor asked me to speak to the church on Sunday morning following 2 weeks of mission trips. I didn’t stress when the talking points I prepared were preempted by a request to talk about just one portion of those trips. I didn’t let my knees knocking keep me from climbing the steps to the stage, or my trembling hands from taking the microphone. I didn’t let the 100’s of faces in front of me intimidate what my heart needed to say. I didn’t stop the words God told me to speak, even if I had no idea what words would come next. I didn’t let fear silence me.
  • I didn’t let myself be intimidated in a room of women who are so much further on their faith journey than me. I didn’t let the colors in the room stop me from telling a story that had never been spoken out loud. I didn’t let my own self loathing stop me from revealing a past I need to reconcile. I didn’t miss an opportunity to learn so much about unity and how our stories can help to heal a broken and damaged world. I didn’t miss making new friends and feeling accepted and loved even when I didn’t feel I deserved it. I didn’t miss an opportunity to hear the words “that was so brave” and realize how important it is to say that to others. I didn’t let fear give me a place to hide.
  • I didn’t let the fact that I had never attended a women’s retreat stop me from helping to plan one. I didn’t stop the words “I think I have a story to tell” flow from my mouth to the exact person who knew what to do with that. I didn’t let not knowing if my story would matter keep me from telling it. I didn’t allow fears of judgement and condemnation to stop me from sharing. I didn’t miss a faith filled weekend with my best friend. I didn’t hold back tears and hugs and prayers when it was their time. I didn’t miss opportunities to hear other women confess and release pain they had held far too long. I didn’t miss finding a love for my sisters in Christ that I had no idea I even wanted. I didn’t miss chances to make mistakes and to struggle to find words when there were none. I didn’t miss hearing “your story is my story” countless times. I didn’t let fear tell me my story didn’t matter.

What blessings are you missing out on today because fear is holding you back? Scripture tells us over and over to be courageous.  Let’s do that. God will use you when you least expect it.  

Be brave, Sisters.

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Thank you for reading.  Please also scoot over to my husband’s blog and check out his latest act of bravery.  Hint: it happened tonight!

Posted in Inspired by Music, NaBloPoMo, NanoPoblano, Uncategorized

A New Way to Cope

Today is the first day of what is known around the interwebs as NaBloPoMo, or in layman terms, National Blog Posting Month.  The goal is to post on your blog everyday in the month of November.  Since I’ve been jonesing to get back to writing, I thought this would be a great time to jump in head first. Oh, and I’m dragging my husband along with me.  Well, okay,he’s joining of his own free will and I’m so grateful for that.  I have attempted some of these month long challenges before and have not stuck with them on my own, so I’m hoping having him on this journey with me will encourage me to stay the course.  It’s worked really well for both of us before so I’m hopeful it will again.  

One of the ways NaBloPoMo helps those taking part in the challenge is to provide daily prompts. I’m not sure we’ll always write to the prompt, but our goal for now is  to try.  So, without further ado, here is today’s prompt and my thoughts on said prompt.

When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?

When I’m having a bad day, you can be certain there will be music somewhere near me.  Many years ago the playlist would have consisted of 30 Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Staind, or Audioslave.  Mostly, I looked to music not to soothe the savage beast inside of me, but to give it permission to rise up.  If you happened to witness me during those periods of my life, you would have no question about where the term ‘head banging’ music came from.  Whatever emotion I was feeling would be amplified and would therefore be in no way healing for me.  If anything, my choice in dealing with a bad mood often led to an even more bad mood.

A few years ago something began to change inside of me.  It all began after attending Winter Jam.  The headliner was a band called Skillet.  This band, this worship band, rocked my face off. I turned to my husband while watching fire cannons and elevated rotating stage sets and said, “Do you have any idea how different my life would have been if I’d had this music as a teenager?!?”  

In almost an instant, I went from using songs with lyrics like “Shut up when I’m talking to you, Shut up, shut up, shut up” to calm my bad moods (what was I thinking!?!), to songs with lyrics like “Lift up your voice, Let love cut through the american noise.”  It was a shift that I so desperately needed.  I’m not saying that secular music isn’t still a part of my life, but I find that when I’m experiencing some adverse emotion, I crave something that will lift me up rather than entice a monster inside of me to rise up.  This subtle shift in what I allow to influence my thoughts (positive, Christ focused music) really does make all the difference.  Instead of enhancing the already negative emotions I may be feeling, this change in choice of music now brings light into the crevices of my thoughts where darkness was threatening to overcome.

A few years ago my husband and I did a small group study on the book Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel. One of the statements in this book has really become a mantra for me.  Groeschel says we should ask ourselves one simple question in the decisions we make, specifically when consuming current culture.  “Is what I’m doing, is what I’m looking at, is what I’m thinking honoring God?” Now, in all honesty, the answer to this question is often a resounding and shameful no.  But, I can testify now for you that since applying this question to the music I listen to, I’m happy to report I believe the answer is a big fat yes.  I firmly believe that God used something that I loved dearly and allowed it to open multiple doors (my church band, NEEDTOBREATHE, Winter Jam) that in turn opened my eyes to new ways to cope and pull myself out of a bad mental health day.  

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 5:18-20

Thank you for reading!  Please take a moment and check out my husband’s post on the same topic.

Posted in Write 31 Days

Back to the Beginning

I sat down to write tonight and had an overwhelming urging to look back at some of my older posts. I decided to start at the beginning and chuckled at myself at the first paragraph of my first ever blog post.

When I was a little girl living in a small Alabama town, I dreamed of someday leaving that existence to become a missionary doctor. I wanted to go to Africa to heal and save people. It was such a grand yet simple childhood dream, but it’s all I ever wanted and it’s all I ever talked about. It was my destiny and I knew this because God told me this was His plan for me. I had the grades and I had the faith. Why would I have ever thought this would not be my future?

I love that this was the item I chose to share with the world as I started what would become my blogging mission.

As Gil and I plan and raise funds for our first ever mission trip abroad, I can’t help but think back to the innocence and naivete in that dream.  I never had any doubt that God was telling me to do His work and spread His message. Life got in the way, as it tends to do, and I forgot He placed a mission in my heart. I’m so grateful to have found Him again and that for a few years now, He’s been recharging and refilling my heart with an unquenchable desire to tell anyone who will listen about His love, mercy, and grace.

Aspects of my younger self’s dreams have changed, but the overall picture is the same. I’ve learned my mission work does not have to be limited to some far away land to be meaningful and and impactful. I can simply show others in my everyday, ordinary life. If I can demonstrate love and mercy in the same way God grants it, I will have fulfilled that youthful dream in the smallest of ways.

Posted in Uncategorized, Write 31 Days

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

If the title of this post seems confusing, I apologize. I’m just practicing my next mission.  Let me explain.

I’ve taken a few days off from writing in order to spend time with very dear friends and attend the Women of Faith Conference in Orlando. It was the second year I’ve attended and once again it did not disappoint. For three hours on Friday night and 8 hours on Saturday, we laughed, we cried, we worshiped, we prayed, we questioned, and we praised. There were special moments that shook my soul to the core and lifted my heart toward God.  I loved being there and I loved listening to these beautiful women (and Matthew West) bring their personal stories to life so that we could all find ways to relate to them on what felt like an intimate setting surrounded by thousands of other women. My heart and my reading list were very full when we left there.

I would highly recommend checking out every one of this year’s speaker and artists. Here’s a quick run-down for you. There was some wonderful content and messages that came from each of these and I hope to incorporate something from each speaker into this month of missions I’m on.

There was one message that really stood out for me during the weekend.  Lysa TerKeurst spoke about how we should say yes to God’s assignment each morning.  One of her quotes really jolted my heart because I will be the first to admit that prayer time and conversations with God are not first on my mind when I wake up. Lysa says we should “exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world.”  WHOA!  Talk about a Godsmack statement! b36cbaec6e103d0ba2fcba3c9f67be6a

Patsy Clairmont says that saying yes to God daily keeps you open and supple to things like gratitude and mercy. Mercy is an area in which I struggle daily. Between my commute and what can only be described as an extremely frustrating work environment, I completely ignore God’s opportunities to extend mercy. I have to more consciously acknowledge these moments and say yes to Him, yes to his assignment to invest mercy in other people.

I’m now on a mission to begin each day with “Yes, God, I’ll do whatever you want me to do”. Whatever the assignment He has for me, I will say yes to it.  I know in my heart the words in this image are true and I hope that by succeeding in this mission, I will experience joy in more areas of my life.

Posted in Write 31 Days

A Call to Arms

The first time I noticed the beauty of a woman’s arms was watching Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got To Do With It. I watched that movie over and over thinking how I wanted to look like that. I envied how cut, toned,  and strong she looked.  She was exceptionally fit,  but for me,  it was all about her arms.

Now, fast forward 21 years. My arms were no closer to looking like Angela’s than they were in 1993. The reason for this is because I had done nothing other than wish my arms were strong and toned.  Well, guess what? Wishing for something without taking action to make those dreams a reality is about as useless as an ashtray on a motorcycle.

My husband and I made a decision 10 months ago it was time to stop wishing and start doing. We simply changed the foods we ate and the pounds started melting away. Before we knew it, we were down 50 pounds between the two of us, and we did this with virtually no change to our activity level. We were skinnier, but still pretty soft and squishy around the middle.

We knew we had to do something if we wanted to really make a change to our bodies.  Six weeks ago we joined a gym. We made a commitment to each other to work out each morning before work.  It has not been easy. And I’m not talking about the workouts themselves,  I’m talking about getting out of bed,  getting in the car,  and making the 10 minute drive to the gym. No one ever said it would be easy, but we keep going morning after morning.

Last week I grabbed something slightly heavy from a shelf and noticed something amazing.  It took me by such surprise that I couldn’t stop looking at my arms.  I stood there in my kitchen flexing my arms,  first the right arm,  then the left arm,  then the right again just to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing.  Then I showed my husband and he confirmed  it. What I was seeing were several defined cuts in the muscles of my arm. I was seeing definition and toned,  lean muscles.  I was not seeing flabby,  saggy skin.  My mind immediately went back to those memories of longing to have arms like Angela Bassett.  I began to realize that by doing instead of dreaming,  I was making those wishes a reality.

20141009_163849Now I’m on a mission to build on what I’ve started. I can see the beginnings of making a long forgotten dream come true. I’m on a mission to make my arms something I don’t plan my wardrobe around hiding.  I can wear that tank top and sleeveless dress and not be ashamed of the batwings flapping in the breeze. Before last week,  my time at the gym was just a workout.  Now it’s my mission to turn it up a notch because I’ve gotten a sneak peek of what I can accomplish.

Posted in Write 31 Days

Restful Mission

As I sit here trying to force my brain to stay awake long enough to get this post out there, I realize it’s a losing battle. I’m tired. No, actually I’m exhausted. The last five days have been a whirlwind of activity that started when my husband and I attended WordCamp Tampa last Saturday and Sunday. We’ve been going nonstop ever since. Between going to the gym, my day job, leading  Small Group at church on Tuesday night, attending a small group this morning at 6:00 A.M., work again, working out again, I’m beat!  Oh, and I accomplished a couple of administrative tasks I do for the church and cranked out a few blog posts. I’m physically and mentally whipped.  So, I have declared tonight my “I’m on a mission to get 8 hours of sleep”. If I go to bed RIGHT NOW, I may actually succeed in this mission.

I have a big and exciting weekend ahead of me. We’ll be spending several days with very dear friends we don’t see nearly enough, and I’ll be attending the Women of Faith Conference with my friend Lindsey. I’m looking forward to the next 3.5 days so much. And I know my body. I need to recharge. So please forgive the short post and come back tomorrow when I hope that my brain has had a chance to reset and I can tell you all about my next mission or mission related ideas.

Even my kitty Peppy says it’s bedtime.  Have a great evening and I’ll see you all tomorrow.

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~~~~~~~~~~UPDATE~~~~~~~~~~

Mission Accomplished – God had his hand all over this one!
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The read out on my Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit Sleep Tracker on Friday morning.

 

 

 

Posted in Write 31 Days

Which Mission Are You Talking About?

I found out about the Write 31 Days challenge late on the evening of October 4th. By the time I talked myself out of not doing it, it was already after 10:00 on the night of October 5th, five days into the challenge, and five days late. Sometimes you just have to say “so what” and just do the thing you want to do, even if it breaks or bends the rules.

I was able to post my first blog for the challenge with only minutes left to get in with the other 1200 bloggers taking part. Whew…it was a close one.  As a result of my limited time, I only touched on my purpose in this challenge at a very high level. Then yesterday for my second post, I didn’t get started writing until late again. To break what appears to be a pattern, I’m going to take the time today to write about what I’m going to write about. How’s that for filling space with words?

Since I’m writing about the word mission and all the things it means to me, I decided to see what Dictionary.com says it means to them. Here are all the different meanings of the word mission as a noun:

  • a group or committee of persons sent to a foreign country to conduct negotiations, establish relations, provide scientific and technical assistance, or the like.
  • the business with which such a group is charged.
  • any important task or duty that is assigned, allotted, or self-imposed.
  • an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction
  • a calling or vocation.
  • a sending or being sent for some duty or purpose.
  • those sent.

During the next month, I will write about our upcoming mission trip to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic with our church. We are partnering with SCORE International and will work in many different areas while we are there. I’m very excited about not only sharing how we are fundraising and preparing for this trip, but also my personal hopes and dreams for our work there.

I will also share about the personal path my husband and I have taken with regards to our health and wellness. We’ve been more conscious about the food we put into our bodies for the past 10 months and I would love to share some of the lessons we’ve learned and rewards we’ve reaped on this journey.

For several years now I’ve struggled with figuring out what my spiritual gift is. I plan to continue exploring this until I find that one thing God has placed on my life so that I may better serve Him. I may never fully realize this, but it won’t stop me from continually trying to better myself for His glory. This next month will be a chance for me to dig into that a little deeper and share what I’m learning through my blog.

The final mission I plan to share with you are those little things that nag at me, my never ending want-to-do list. These include learning spanish, photoshop, and learning how to code for WordPress.  I have a pretty long list and will write about some of them. I’ll let you know my progress, setbacks, and successes during the month. So far, my mission to write every day for the past 3 days has been successful. I’ll take that win!

When I told my husband about my topic of On a Mission and what I planned to write about, he asked “Aren’t you just listing goals you want to accomplish?”  I thought about that for a minute and conceded that he was absolutely correct in his assessment of my plan. However, I believe simply listing a group of goals is a passive thing. By saying “I’m on a mission to…”, I feel that I’m being more active with my intentions. I’m not expressing a desire to do something. Instead I’m telling you I’m doing it.  If I  say “I have a goal to drink 100 ounces of water tomorrow”, it feels different than “I’m on a mission to drink 100 ounces of water”. In my mind, the “I’m on a mission” phrase evokes more passion and desire, which fuels me to ‘git er done’.

So, there it is. These are the stories I’m on a mission to share with you. I hope you will come back and see what I have to say as I blog my 31 Days On A Mission.
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