Friday, March 2, 2018

Your right now matters- in peace, on purpose.

Two months into “on purpose, in peace”, my words for 2018.
What I’ve been reminded of multiple times, not always joyfully, is that my right now matters. A couple weeks ago I found an old journal from my college days somewhere around 2009, and it was so perspective-giving to look back almost a decade (THAT can’t be right) ago—reliving college woes and triumphs, remembering the initial pangs of hearing loss adjustment, and smiling that I still write out book quotes that inspire me and client remarks that were perfectly timed, in journals, today.
But what really stuck out, was the way I hoped and prayed for things like going to grad school, going to Kenya, dreaming of what life would be like after college, what the rest of my 20’s would hold. I poured out my heart—asking for direction and clarity—and so wanting to be on the right path. I had a lot of purpose, not a lot of peace (but what college student does?).
Today, I look back at HOW those dreams happened- Kenya in 2012, Graduate school in 2013/2014. In looking at the past I had renewed peace for today—right now used to be a dream-the things I have and have done felt like miles away in 2009. But that right now, back then, mattered. It taught me patience, and perseverance—the very attributes I needed for grad school and Kenya.
This right now, matters. Not only for tomorrow’s dreams, but also because it’s the result of so many yesterdays. Who you are today is not an accident—it is the compilation of daily choices and opportunities. I can live today on purpose and in peace when I remember that I don’t have to have the dreams realized to be successful or have the man beside me to be loved. My life matters because my Savior purposed it—he plants dreams and brings them at the best time. Look back to look ahead in peace and to live today on purpose.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The blessings of brokenness-- a life's example

You’re happy with the life you have, aren’t you? My dad remarked with a smile as I sank into familiar chair. His affirmation caught me off guard, as I looked up he continued “I can see it in your countenance, and the way you talk about your work and your friends. I know there’s things you still want in life, but I can see a new acceptance and joy”.

His acknowledgment of a reality I hadn’t yet spoken aloud, freed me to write these words with confidence. The things that I went through in 2016-leaving a spiritually abusive church system, moving on my own, starting at a new job—sure felt like the end of a lot of things for me. And in many ways, that was true. I did lose familiarity and years of friendships, I lost an erroneous confidence and complacency, and a legalistic view of God and the church. In being lost, I was found.

Just last night I was reminded of the impact one life of faith can have. I didn’t remember parts of her story, ones that occurred well before our lives intersected, but as her husband eulogized her life, I couldn’t help but smile through my tears that it was her brokenness that led to her most profound impact. What we sometimes think is the end of our journey—the loss of a relationship, our health, our old views—can actually be our greatest message and the avenue by which we reach the world. This woman’s life didn’t impact others because she was perfect, always said the right thing, or was in top physical health. Her life’s impact was in her perseverance and acceptance of what was before her—ever growing faith in the midst of worsening health. She gave us permission to accept brokenness as an opportunity to be put back together in the ways that matter.

I may not currently be facing the obstacles that Dollie did, but my own story is also made beautiful through, not in spite of my brokenness. At the onset of our trials-when a diagnosis or a unilateral decision rips you from familiarity- that seems damn near impossible.  Beauty?!from THIS? We certainly think our circumstances are the exception. But, like Winston Churchill bluntly admonished “if you’re going through hell, keep going”. In the middle of our journey’s it can be hard to see the beauty in our brokenness. When everything is shattered hope seems far off and near impossible. It is in retrospect we see the beauty. Dollie’s life is an example of that; for it is in perseverance we regain strength and hope. And as we take one feeble step after another, gaining ground and strength, we too, will be able to look back in contentment at the blessings of brokenness.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Ten Years Out- Reflections on Hearing Loss

Ten years ago today, after my mother gently dragged me to a local ENT doctor, my life changed when he told me I had bilateral degenerative hearing loss. I was terrified, in shock, unbelieving-not me, disabled? At 2o?!  who will love me now? How can I finish college? What will my life look like now?—ran through my mind as the kind, yet ignorant-of-my-situation nurse who took my blood test told me “not to cry, it’s just a shot”, if only she knew.
But now, a decade later, I can’t help but reflect on how many of those questions and fears have drifted away—I finished college and went back. Disability in one area doesn’t mean you don’t have strong abilities in others. We are each more than a single label or diagnosis.

If I could go back, I would tell my twenty-year-old-self—I know you can’t see past this now. It seems to mar your life, to irrevocably screw up your plans, your dreams.  It seems to shatter every truth you knew about who you are and what you’re capable of. Later that afternoon, as you sit on the beach, pen in hand, pages rippling in the forceful wind—you will make a pivotal choice—to turn to, not away from Jesus in this day of pain and fear. You chose not to get bitter, cynical, or self-pittying—and by His grace you live that out. Sure, you have moments of agony and deep fear—but your roots are strong—to him be the glory.

Ten years from now you will be thankful for this day—you won’t wish it away, dread waking up and putting your aids in, live in constant fear of losing the rest of your hearing or not having batteries for your aids. You won’t hide your aids under your hair—you’ll again experience the freedom of wearing your hair up—exposing those ears, knowing that the people who can’t see past them don’t deserve your energy anyway. Ten years out, you will be so grateful for loss—for you have gained so much-perspective, empathy, compassion for the hurting—that far outweighs any loss of your physical hearing. You’ll smile to think how this was made for you—chosen in love to strengthen, EQUIP—not hinder, the life you live. Your eyes will glimmer as your mind fills with pictures of how this loss is gain—from relating to many scared parents with a fresh Autism diagnosis, to the way your niece gently pulls back your hair and in awe and joy exclaims “you got my ears too!”

Ten years from now you will read scriptures like “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126) and your heart will smile with an understanding and joy—fulfilling this verse and knowing its truth. Ten years from now, the once overwhelmingly painful anniversary will have faded to one of bittersweet gratitude—for now you have those sheaves—the harvest of suffering that reminds you pain in this life is birth pains. Trembling 20-year-old-self—this diagnosis you think is ending your life—is actually the greatest beginning. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

merry manifesto

I want to write with abandon and vigor. Boldly penning words of hope, truth and joy. Words that snap, crackle, and pop as they fly across the page. Words that lead to action. Words like pugnacious, tenacious—opulent grace-filled pages of truth and hope. Words that inspire. Words that convict. Words that rip into the calloused flesh of patriarchal scars while rending to mend. For it is in our brokenness we can be healed. Cracks are how the light gets in—how the festering wound is cleansed as the infection below the surface oozes and is exposed. People may be repulsed—and they should be.
Oppression bends and breaks when the hunched backs begin to straighten. When the burdened cry-ENOUGH, when the marginalized come together. When the silenced shout. When every solitary person finds their “me too”.
For this is what Christmas brings—Christ’s coming signals a revolution—a baby threatened the king, a man—the empire, and yet, all of this was Emmanuel—God with us. My favorite Christmas song reminds us that “His law is love and his Gospel is peace”. Law is loving—boundaries are beneficial—they don’t limit life-they enhance it. Peace isn’t a cease fire-it’s a person—a man who entered into our wounded world. These are the words I want to write- words that may offend and pierce—a mere echo of God who was pierced FOR us.

I don’t know what this process will look like—I’m sure that it will be line any other journey. That my ideas and perceptions as I pen the first words will be a distant memory when I finish. I don’t know where this spark will lead me—but I know this new joy and new freedom will grow—one word, one post, one day at a time.

Monday, October 23, 2017

reflections on anxiety- august 10, 2016

**this is an old journal entry from 2016, I felt compelled to share it now, over a year later**

“be anxious for nothing”—this verse rings in my ears, echoing as I begin a new day almost taunting me. Its repetition a dagger pointing at my failures. “be anxious for nothing”—that’s the problem, I wake up anxious about nothing. Yet my heart is quenched for peace, my mind tries to rationalize the pangs away. Thinking of “others less fortunate” only heaps guilt on the smoldering anxious fire, threatening to bring it all aflame again.
            Then I remember the second half of that verse, “pray about everything”. Pray through the anxiety, write through the anxiety, take up the sword and fight back, So my frightened heart feebly prays, “God, I’m embarrassed that I am quite literally anxious about nothing. I still can’t shake this wall of dread that attempts to crush my heart, quench my dreams, quiet my voice”. This year has been hard, brought so much change—loss of my aunt Marla, moving-twice, quitting a job and starting a new one, and relational strife as I process leaving an abusive church. I can barely count all the changes on one hand. It’s no wonder I don’t know where to start to pray or process—or which on the list I’m anxious about today.
            So I start where I can—one honest word at a time. The one who created my mind and heart doesn’t tell me to “get over it”. He grabs my hand and whispers, “get into it. Let’s look at this together. I knit you and I know you—even your anxious thoughts before you think them”. He walks with me in the fire and the flood.
I won’t let those leaders silence my voice. I take a deep breath and know that he’s with me. He’s not embarrassed by my anxiety. He sweat blood over a life-ending choice—He knows. He understands my frail heart and mind—and loves me anyway. He entered into this world’s pain and brokenness and is with me in my own.
“and the peace of God will guard your heart”—He will strengthen as I pray. He will probe my heart and mind. He provides His word—and sometimes professional help. His Holy Spirit strengthens and encourages. I fight for faith and pray for peace. He’s begun THIS good work—yes, even this battle with anxiety is ultimately a good thing. He will see me through. His grace has carried me safely through this year so far, and His grace will lead me home.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The perspiration of inspiration

The reaction to  my posts about my 30 by 30 goals have been surprising. I’ve been so encouraged by people who have reached out to tell me that my list inspired them—people from all different seasons of my life have taken the time to reply to my posts.
 And yet, that ugly voice of insecurity has reared its head this week, attempting to steal the joy of impacting others. While the comments were a celebration, my insecure heart saw them as an expectation—a weight to carry.   I felt the weight of the gift of impacting others, and suddenly I understood why the men in the parable buried the talent/money given to them—they let the expectation paralyze instead of propelling them to action. They saw it as a load to protect instead of a foundation to build on; forgetting that the talent given to them was a gift of grace.

So tonight I took a deeper look and realized that Inspiration has many meanings such as:
1.  the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative: "the history of fashion has provided designers with invaluable inspiration" with synonyms like : creativity · inventiveness · innovation · ingenuity · genius · imagination · and :originality · artistry · insight · vision · finesse · flair a person or thing that inspires:  synonyms: guiding light · example · model · muse · motivation ·

2. the drawing in of breath; inhalation.

The irony in all of this is that I wanted my list to inspire others, because life has meaning when we spend it with and for others-using our God-given gifts in the world around us.  Even in completing the list I didn’t do it alone—people shared their need for financial support, went on the underground tour, all over New York City, and ran a 5K with me. The encouragement from you has been grace—a God-given gift reminding me of his love for me by the love shown by others. I want my life to show others’ God’s love for them.

"then I had an inspiration"
synonyms: bright idea · revelation · flash · brainwave · brainstorm ·
[more]eureka moment

For me personally, the 30 by 30 list was more of the second definition-a drawing in of breath and life into my heart, mind, and soul that had been so wounded and silenced by spiritual abuse. It was an opportunity for me to re-engage with life and the community around me. This list brought new joy and life—helping me to focus my time and energy on others, as well as regain spiritual, mental and emotional health. Looking back, I am so thankful for the goals that guided me the last six months. Before I wrote the list I prayed FOR inspiration—that each of the 30 would be intentional and life-giving for myself and others—a way for me to step out in faith again. Inspiration is contagious.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Reflections on my 29th year

Reflections on my 29th year.
              Tonight as I baked and cleaned, checked off my to-do list, I began to reflect on my 29th trip around the sun. Each birthday year, August to August I take time to pray and think of a theme phrase or words for the next year. Last years’ were “trust boldly”, which, to be honest, were the last two things I wanted to do. I had just lived through the hell of spiritual abuse, skeptical and timid were more like it.
But today, almost 365 days later, I can’t help but sigh with a sheepish smirk that those two words were exactly what this year of life was about. On my birthday last year I started my job at a new company which has been one of the greatest joys of this year. I didn’t even know how much the stress of barely having enough clients and hours as well as driving all over the city was affecting my quality of life until they were no longer a part of it. My current company has been a prime example of one that is proactive about taking care of employees and seeking to deal with problems instead of hiding them. I have grown much in my practice as I have learned from others around me, and I’m so grateful.
Another way I learned to trust boldly was by beginning to attend a new church. Every brunch and bible study I either sulked in like an emo teenager, or tried to quiet my racing heart. Everything in me told me to run, to shut them out before I could get hurt. But one genuine conversation at a time my heart began to hope, then trust that this place could be different. I’ve made new friends that embody weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice. I’m allowed to be where I am, because everyone else is responsible for themselves—we are alone together—responsible for our choices yet sharing our troubles. These new friends have enabled me to trust boldly.
Today, I trust boldly that I am where I’m supposed to be—my life is not in limbo because I’m single, it’s not less or “cute”—it is purposed and full. I can’t believe I ever felt that way.  In both my work and church I am equipped and trusted to use my knowledge and gifts for others. My career isn’t seen as a hindrance but a gift. I can trust BOLDLY that I have been called to this vocation and it is my joy.
Lastly, around mid-february, with 6 months left in my 20’s, I started a crazy list of 30 goals by 30—they were divided into categories-head & heart, hope, and health. Some were one time things like funding an adoption, buying a stranger’s meal at a restaurant; others took more planning and time-hiking, reading 10 new books, completing the whole 30. (check the facebook page 30by30 for more details). With days left, I’ve completed around 25 of the 30 but I’m content with my progress. I’ve been humbled by others who have helped me in the process—going on the underground tour, cousins spending the day with me in NYC, and so many others have encouraged me along the way. 30 by 30 has taught me to pace myself and enjoy the process. Because the goals weren’t about completing—they were about becoming. Becoming the woman that is intentional with eating and exercising, taking time to be with others and using my resources for them. It was about becoming who I want to BE in my 30s-mindful, balanced, and intentional with my time, talents, and present in the lives and community around me.

So, as I look ahead to the next decade, I want to have peace in the process. I am not responsible for the choices leaders and others make. I want to have peace in the in-between—tangible grace to be imperfect and humble, working to improve where I can and accepting my limitations. I want to have peace in the process of dating, working with my clients, equipping teachers to educate children with disabilities. I CAN have peace in the process as I trust God boldly-one thing at a time. Thirty and Thriving, indeed.