Posted in Inspired by Music, Uncategorized

Crossroads

A week ago Gil and I headed down to St. Petersburg to see one of our favorite bands perform at The Hideaway Café. It’s such a great venue and the perfect spot to catch Sarah Mac Band when they’re in town. Of course, with any favorite band there must be favorite songs. Here are my Top 5 SMB songs, in no particular order:

Baptised
Crossroads
Gloryland
Satisfied
I’m Not Scared

In looking at these 5 songs, I realize there are very distinct reason why each one is special to me. Satisfied, because…well, just because. I’ll leave it at that for now. Gloryland is precious to me because of the memories surrounding the first time we heard it live, and it is now at the top of my list of funeral songs.  And of course I can’t hear it without crying, although it’s not the only one in the list above that leaves me in tears. Crossroads is a song that wrecks me every.single.time. I can’t help it. It’s spontaneous crying, kind of like when I’m in church during worship and my soul starts overflowing out of my tear ducts.

When I hear Crossroads I find myself transported back to certain moments and events in my life. I think it’s human nature to think about all the crossroads you’ve faced and what your life would be like if you went left instead of right, north instead of south, straight ahead instead of taking the detour.

“It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads”

Memories of the choices I made as a child often slip up out of nowhere to haunt me. If I had run faster for help, could my grandfather have been saved?  If I had not wrestled the gun away, would we have survived in the wake of suicide? If I hadn’t gotten into the truck with my crush, would my innocence have lasted a few years more?

“Spent so much time thinking about how it might have been
How my life could’ve turned out
It’s long gone and part of history now
No turning back and no regrets
No room for doubt, no holding debt
‘Cause from here on out, I’m gonna just forge ahead
It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads”

As my teenager years drew to a close, my wrong turns were numerous and with abundant  regrets.  I was a strong willed teenager who had a weakness for the boys. I didn’t go to art school because of a boy. I did start junior college because of a boy. I left a boy and embarked on a solitary journey that led me toward too much alcohol, sexual promiscuity, irresponsibility, bankruptcy, and one of the deepest depressions I had ever faced.

“In the dark, all alone, I tripped on a dead seal washed up on the shore
The smell was on my hands when I handed in my visa at the border the next morning
Left behind, something died, washed to Asia by the pull of the Pacific that night
But it made room for something new and it brought me to you”

When I hear these lyrics, I can’t help but think of where I am today. I have a job, a home, a car, and a healthy family. I have a husband who takes care of me and loves me without reservation. I am blessed. My life is blessed. Had I taken the straight path instead of staying on the winding one, any one of these blessings might not have happened.

“…But it made room for something new and it brought me to You”

Even though I could easily apply these words to my relationship with Gil, it’s often not him that I think about when hearing this song.  I think mostly about how my bad decisions, stupid mistakes, careless behavior, and sinful transgressions have all allowed me to experience God’s grace and love. God was at every crossroad I’ve encountered, and He allowed me to choose my own direction. While I wandered aimlessly, He held on and He loved me.  When I took the path that led me away from Him, he would just wait at the next crossroad, ready to show me which direction to take. For so long, I just turned away from Him seeking acceptance and love from other sources.

There was a point several years ago that I realized how tired I was from all the years of running down roads that never seemed to go anywhere. And sure enough, when I stood at that crossroad, my God was faithfully waiting for me, just as he had been my whole life.

I hope one day I don’t look back at my journey through a lifetime of crossroads and feel regret and shame. I hope that I will someday cherish my wrong turns and know they were not wrong at all. Each of them was preparing me for the greater God has planned for me as I serve His kingdom here on earth. I try to look at my trials and tribulations as blessings, because with each one I have come to know grace and forgiveness in ways I never thought possible.

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Posted in Uncategorized

From Reeling to Reborn

2013; It’s been quite a year. A year filled with heartbreak and disappointment. A year filled with love, family and friends. 2013 was a year that brought me to my knees in desperation, and in gratitude.

As I reflected on 2013 for this blog post, I thought about skipping over the bad stuff. However, the single most important thing I want to do with this blog is to be authentic in who I am and who I want to be. And skipping the bad wouldn’t be true to that. However, upon further reflection, I could think of only one bad thing worthy enough to even write about. It was a single heartbreak, although it’s probably not the kind of heartbreak you would think. It wasn’t a person, per sé, that broke my heart. No, it was a company. Specifically, my employer.

In order to protect myself just a little bit, I’ll forego the down and dirty details, but I can assure you that my heart was metaphorically ripped out, put in a blender, and turned into mincemeat. I had bounced back from the previous year’s disappointment, and even began to thrive and enjoy my role in the company. Then, in late January, some news came down that changed everything. I was given a new role, a new boss, new employees, and new responsibilities.  Ironically, I was given almost everything I wanted the year before, but in the worst possible way it could have been done. I know we all experience professional disappointments from time to time, but this was the kind of ongoing mental beat down that makes you want stay down. It’s the kind that breaks most people.

But, you know what? It has not broken me. I’m hurt and disappointed by what’s been done to me, but I know in my heart that what I’m going through is all part of God’s perfect plan for me. If there is one thing that’s come from this experience, it’s that I find myself growing closer to God. In 2013, my soul exploded with His love. I’ve read more books, listened to more music, and received more messages of God’s Word than ever before. I’ve found that in my very darkest times, God continues to fan the flame in my heart. That flame was bigger and brighter than ever on August 4 when I was baptized for a second time. There’s something about making that decision and commitment as an adult that means so much more than my childhood decision thirty-five years ago. It was the #1 moment of the year, made even more special when Gil surprised me by taking my hand and joining me in a commitment to live out this faith journey together, side by side.

2013 could also be summarized by the “F” word. Well, three little “F” words actually: faith, family, friends. I know it is cliché, but this was the year that those three words began to morph into the same entity. I cannot speak about one without talking about the others. My faith brought so many incredible friends into my life, friends that are now as important as any family member could be. And speaking of family, the most important person in my life, my husband, is also my best friend and a guiding source of God inspired love and service. I’ve seen Gil’s faith really grow this year, and I am so proud of him and so blessed to be his wife.

If I had to pick one word to describe 2013, it would be metamorphosis. This was my, “Year of the Butterfly”. I found my happy place right in my own back yard during the late summer months. Over and over again I watched something ugly become something beautiful. Sometimes it was in the birth of a pinhead sized caterpillar, or a bee sucking nectar from an alien looking passionflower bloom.  Sometimes it was in the sparkling sunlight reflecting off drops of rain on a vibrant, orange flower. Mostly, it was in the moments glorious new life emerged from an ugly, hardened chrysalis. These were the moments that took my breath away. These were the moments in which I remembered God’s grace. While the voices in my head wreaked havoc on my thoughts, I found moments of beauty and stillness in those fluttering, beautiful insects. The beauty would take my breath away and silence the demons in my mind. In those moments, I was reminded that God will make beautiful things out of all of us. I felt a kind of rebirth, very much like the moment of my baptism.

Metamorphosis is defined as a major change in the appearance or character of someone or something. My metamorphosis is happening. I can feel it from the inside, in very much the same way that the caterpillar transforms into the butterfly inside a chrysalis. You can’t see it happening, but you watch, and you wait with giddy anticipation. With hope. With faith that something beautiful is coming. I believe God gave me those experiences last year to remind me that He’s not finished with me. I believe I needed to see that the ugly doesn’t last. I needed to feel that special kind of hope.

So, it’s with giddy anticipation I enter 2014 filled with hope that God’s hand and His grace will continue to transform me into the person He wants me to be.

Posted in New Day Resolutions

Goals or Wishes

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I have started jotting down a general list of things I want to accomplish. Some of these are things I want to do daily. Some are weekly. Some are short term. Some are long term. Some are one time things I need to do. Some are ongoing. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to track my progress. I’ve downloaded a few apps but haven’t had time to really try any of them yet. Do you have any favorite methods? And now a quick update on my New Day Resolutions for week 1. The only 2 daily goals that I’ve been 100% on is that I haven’t eaten any meat and I’ve written every day. I missed my bible reading and daily photo goal on Friday. My Christmas decorations are still up and my closet is still a hoarder’s nightmare, but I was spending some much needed quality time with my husband, some new friends, and some friends that are really family. I’m okay with my misses this first week. I know I will get better and it’s okay if I do it in baby steps. Did you make any resolutions? How are you doing?

Posted in New Day Resolutions, Post A Day Challenge

A New Goal or Two

As I started this blog hours earlier this evening, I had a different direction in mind. I had actually planned to choose a topic from one of my Soulful Journal series books to write about. I didn’t want to bore you again with updates on my New Day Resolutions.  However, after an unexpected art/love project, this is what you’re getting. Sorry about that.

I didn’t set any new goals today but I managed to accomplish all of my current daily goals. I drank more water. I maintained a vegetarian diet. Again I missed the mark only slightly for having a complete vegan day because of my coffee creamer and the cheese in my leftover nachos from dinner last night. I have tried a couple of different vegan creamers and I’m having a hard time making that jump. I’ll keep trying though. I think if I can ever jump that particular hurdle, everything else will be cake!

I read my Soul Detox plan and wasn’t quite as moved as yesterday. As a matter of fact, I actually had an almost repulsive feeling after reading Jeremiah 12:1-4. But thinking back on it now, I guess I see the reason for this selection since the underlying topic is toxic thoughts (DUH…sorry, the light just turned on for me). I’m going to spend some time reflecting on these questions asked in the introduction and I guess that’s kind of the point here huh? Here are the questions that I plan to ponder for a few days.

  • Which types of toxic thoughts do you experience most often?
  • What are some examples of your toxic thoughts?

One daily goal I haven’t written about here yet is my desire to be creative each day. I’ve sort of taken the easy way out on this by counting my writing and my photo a day on Instagram as the check off on this one. Today I get to check off the box because I actually got creative with a special project we did with the kids. I used crayons (like the art kit kind), paper, pencils,  and markers to MAKE something. It felt really good and now I’m even more motivated than ever to do more things like this. I’m going to probably add this to my goals list for maybe three times a week or something like that.

Speaking of goals, I’m still working though how I want to track these. I watched a great video tonight that talked about categorizing your goals and I like this idea. The categories suggested were Family, Personal Development, Social, Health, Financial, Work, Home, Fun, Spiritual, and Community. I think I can work with this. Here’s a link to the video if you want to check it out.

Now, I want to leave you with one thing that completely blew me away today. I was trying to catch up on some of my recorded episodes of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday while I ate my dinner. In the episode Oprah was asking some big questions to many of the great thinkers of our day. The questions were mostly about spirituality and God and this one question and response from Iyanla VanZant left me awestruck. I have been a huge fan of hers since about 2000 and now I love her even more. Oprah asked her, “What is the difference between religion and spirituality?”  Here’s her response.

Religion is the rules, regulations, ceremonies and rituals developed by man to create conformity and uniformity in the approach to God. Spirituality is God’s call in your soul.

Whew…that one gave me goosies!

Posted in New Day Resolutions

Winging It

Day Two of my New Day Resolution project is almost over and I had about the same success as yesterday.  I set basically the same goals for myself today, but with a couple of changes.

I was able to stick to a vegetarian diet today fairly easy, even when Gil cooked beef for the kid’s tacos this evening. How awesome was he to make us a tofu alternative?  I couldn’t resist the queso and shredded cheese though, so no vegan for me today. Besides, I had already blown that with the non-dairy creamer (which contains milk products????) in my morning coffee. It’s a good thing I didn’t set a goal for a vegan day.

I read day two of the Soul Detox bible reading plan and loved the passage today from Ephesians 6:10-20 regarding the armor of God. It is slowly becoming one of my favorite.  It will never get old to me how God speaks to us in ways we’ll never understand, at times we need it the most. Today’s message was about battling toxic thoughts and how you must identify and reject them. I think the hardest thing for me is to reject these thoughts when they appear. I have a horrible weakness in which I allow the thoughts to consume and overwhelm me. It’s almost as if I find myself enjoying the evil and destructive ideas that fill my mental being at times. I must find a better way to arm myself.  I must allow God to fight this spiritual battle for me. I must suit up in God’s armor so that I can resist the evil thoughts  and “stop the fiery arrows of the devil”. I think I’ll keep today’s reading plan handy for quick reference each day.

The only other goal I wrote down for today was to take down the Christmas decorations. I came home from work with every intention to do just that. However, things didn’t go exactly as planned. Gil and the kids were preparing the aforementioned taco dinner when I came in so we all ate and then cleaned up afterwards. Then there was a quick trip to Home Depot to get storage boxes which turned out to be not so quick. We did pick up a storage cube for Natalie’s room makeover that we’ve been promising for months. After Home Depot we stopped into CherryBerry for some yummy desert. I am in love with their Watermelon Sorbet (gluten free, dairy free, fat free). I got it in a waffle cup and topped it with fresh kiwi, strawberries, and pineapple. It was delish!

I’ve decided a need a better way to track my goals so I’m experimenting with a couple of online and mobile apps to help me with that. I’m hoping that by this time next week, I’ll have a much better outline of some regular short and long term goals I want to accomplish. I’m so much better at things when I have a box to check off or something to actually track. For now, though, I’m just going to wing it and see where each day takes me.

Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

306/365 Naturally Me

We spent an unexpected night on our friend’s boat last night. This resulted in us being awake for the beautiful sunrise this morning, which would have NEVER happened otherwise. After snapping way too many shots of that sunrise, I decided to turn the camera on myself and take advantage of the really awesome natural light. Yeah, I have no makeup, some crazy ‘been slept on’ hair, and I’m still in the clothes had had worn to work the day before, but it’s fun to just be silly with the camera sometimes.