grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

Beloved is the Truth

2016 was definitely One Of Those Years for me.
Maybe it was One Of Those Years for you, too?
You know, the kind of year when your score on The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale puts you in the *very high risk of becoming ill in the near future* category.
//gulp//
The most hopeful thing I found to hang onto during the last six months of last year was that 2017 HAD TO BE BETTER.
The only way I could envision things going was UP…because…well…honestly…they couldn’t get much worse.
Could they?

So, on December 31, I made a poster with *2016* on it and then burned it to ash at the stroke of midnight…as the year turned, it burned.
It was a symbolic, fiery, and final end to one of the most difficult years of my life:
Separation after 27 years of marriage.
Unexpected, unplanned news from one of my four girlies.
Shocking, traumatic loss when my dad died suddenly and without warning – when we’d only just begun to reconcile our rocky relationship.
An unresolved health issue that took its toll both physically and emotionally.
And all of that happened in the last 180 days of 2016.

If I’m honest, 2017 hasn’t had quite the stellar start I’d hoped, but (so far) it has been less *stress-y*…for the most part. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when the calendar page turned, but it probably had something to do with glitter, sprinkles, sparkles, and buckets of confetti…and probably all kinds of time for frequent and deep soul rest. The kind of rest that would restore and refresh and redeem…and allow me to reclaim the life I’d thought I was supposed to be living.

You know how Scripture says that the Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray (Romans 8:26)? Well, I’m thinking He did some big fill-in-my-blanks praying in my deep need for that kind of rest because way early in 2017, I got an email about Bonnie Gray’s brand-spankin’ new book, Whispers of Rest. And I’m telling you what – if the words on those pages aren’t a direct answer to the soul-cry-level prayers the Spirit said on my behalf, I don’t know what would be.

IMG_9393

Bonnie had me – and my heart – at Hello.

‘Life has gotten noisy. My heart feels frayed.
Like a child planting a seed and forgetting where she placed it, I wonder if anything beautiful and tender can break through the soil of my heart again. I try to pray, but sometimes it’s hard to find the words.’

And then I highlighted almost. every. word. in the Introduction:

‘I struggled to sleep and felt a weariness I couldn’t shake. My heart felt restless and, tossed by a sea of critical voices, paralyzed by overanalyzing and second-guessing myself.
I lost my spark. I lost the spring in my step and the song in my heart. Peace and joy were missing. I was surviving and competent, but deep in my soul I felt tired and uninspired. I knew life was supposed to be beautiful because God loved me, but I didn’t feel like life was beautiful, even though I was thankful for everything God had done in my life.
Losing my joy made me feel ashamed, until God’s whispers of rest loved me back to life. God wasn’t ashamed of my need. God understood my longing for beauty, peace, and intimacy – and He understands your heart, too.’

Truly, even simply reading those first words – before the book actually starts – had me wondering if somehow Bonnie had snuck into my world, peeked into my soul and then recorded what she found there.

As I progressed through Part One: Being the Beloved, I found myself highlighting even more – and hoping against hope that it was possible for me to fully embrace my true identity as one named Beloved, and delighted in, by my Maker.
After the events of late-2016, I felt rubbed raw, wounded, and wrecked…feeling beloved would take a major shift in perspective.
Because, let’s be honest – when the list of Hard Things that happen to you is long and heart-rending, *victim* is what you can end up feeling way more than *beloved*.
Or is that just me?

Friend, here’s the truth each of us has to choose to face: *Victim* is easy…almost a default setting that the enemy of our souls wants us to live from.
To stay in.
If we’re stuck in *victim*, there’s not much chance we’ll be able to embrace being anyone’s *beloved*…not even God’s.
*Beloved* takes some intentionality…some purpose.
Especially when things feel hard.
Betrayal. Change. Loss.

But, friend, Beloved is the truth.
Your truth.
And mine.
No matter what last year looked like.
No matter what this year is shaping up to be.
And if, like me, you need a soul-full guide on your journey to embrace that identity, please gift yourself a copy of Whispers of Rest.
It’s a forty-day journey towards hope and healing.
Like Bonnie says, ‘A lot can happen in forty days. A new rhythm. A new heart. It’s about finding your spark again. To be the Beloved. Just as you are.’

It’s a journey toward rest that’s shaking my world.
It’s a journey that’s changing me.
Restoring. Refreshing. Redeeming. Reclaiming.
I’m guessing it’s a journey your soul needs, too.

WOR just as you are.png

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RELAX :: a blog series :: four

relax adjust

{Every Tuesday this month, we’re meeting here to pull apart the word RELAX. To lean into it. To learn ways we can practice it in a very real way. And what better time than the hectic holidays to get some rubber-meets-the-road experience with it?! I’m glad you’re here…it’s so much better to work through things like this in the company of kindreds like you. It’s week four already…hard to believe, isn’t it?}

So.
The last three weeks have found us engaged in the practices of RELEASing, EMBRACing, and LAUGHing.
How are you doing?
Feeling more RELAXed yet?
(Is that a loaded question this week of Christmas?)

I’m going to be honest with you.
When I woke up this morning, I felt anything but RELAXed.
Some biggish things on my To Do List got carried over from yesterday. The things that were placed on today’s List are things I’d rather not do. And, to illustrate the point of just how far behind the 8-ball I am, let me confess here and now that my Christmas tree doesn’t have a single decoration on it. If it wouldn’t have come pre-lit, it would be a giant, dark, looming visual of my dismal scatteredness as the holidays approach.
I’m not a Grinch…I’m just a little out a balance.

And that’s why I’m grateful we’re here, looking at the A in RELAX.
Because, right now, I really, really need to practice ADJUSTing.
Maybe you do, too?

Let’s get at it…

After we’ve LAUGHed, we have to have the courage to ADJUST the things in our power that can be ADJUSTed.
If you’re anything like me, your first question is probably ‘Okay, but what are some of those things?’
Here’s my best multi-point answer…

We can ADJUST our suppositions.
Our expectations.
We really need to RELEASE them because, when we do, we make room for grace. For ourselves and for others.
Honestly, aside from practicing these pieces of RELAXing, practicing letting go of expectations has been one of the most liberating choices I’ve ever made.
I don’t know what that looks like for you, but you do.
Let. Them. Go.
And see if you don’t experience a new sense of RELAXation.

Next, we can ADJUST our schedules.
Make sure to leave some flexibility in your line items, because margin allows room for the unexpected.
And we all know that The Unexpected isn’t really all that unexpected after all, is it?
I mean, maybe the particulars of the wrenches that get thrown into our schedules vary wildly, but the fact that there are wrenches isn’t a big surprise, right?
Even the word margin magically breathes hope into my frazzled edges this morning.
And here’s a big paradigm-shifting bit of brilliance from Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com that can become an ADJUSTment mantra: ‘Choose to do less and savor life more. Busyness does not equal Godliness.’

Here’s the next area we can ADJUST — our surroundings.
We all know that clutter breeds stress and chaos.
And those things are definitely antiRELAXing.
Think about this…what is your home’s mission?
Does its condition match that mission?
One of the best books I’ve ever read on home, decor, and ADJUSTing how I approach those things is The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith.

Another key thing that brings us benefits from ADJUSTing is our stance.
Our opinion.
Oh, man. I could on for days about this one.
I’m thinking that neither you nor I have time for that today.
So let me just say this…
Not everything needs to be black and white.
Gripping our assumptions and judgements so tightly that they almost choke out is pretty much the direct opposite of RELAXing.
And it’s exhausting.
How do I know this?
Let’s just say that if there was a support group for people who are too opinionated, my weary family would have dragged me, kicking and screaming, to every meeting.
I’m happy to say I’m a recovering My Opinion is the Only Opinion addict, and I’ve found that ADJUSTing all those Black and Whites has made a lot more room for grace in my life.

Finally, let’s ADJUST our sight.
Our perspective.
Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Carry On, Warrior, introduced me to a great term that has helped me ADJUST the way I see things. She reminds us to put on our perspectacles.
You know.
Those glasses that help us see the bright side of things, people, situations that might normally cause us to clench, contract, and convict.
When ADJUST our perspectacles, we see things with new eyes, in new ways, and we can RELAX.
For real and for true.
Try it.

When I look at Scripture (as I often do, to make sure that when God says He’s ‘been there, done that’, He really has, so then I can just RELAX about whatever has my undies in a bunch) I find that there is a pretty long list of those who have gone before me who’ve been called to ADJUST…Moses had to ADJUST to so. many. things. – being raised in a culture that wasn’t his own, being called by God to confront Pharaoh at age 80, leading Israel through the wilderness for 40 years. And more. Jonah was given a choice of ADJUSTing or being digested by a whale. Paul not only ADJUSTed his name. He ADJUSTed his entire way of life in order to walk in the calling placed on his life.
I don’t pretend to say that any of these Bible greats ADJUSTed so they could RELAX, just so we’re clear.
I just think it’s awesome to look back and see that the practice of ADJUSTing is as old as time.
There’s a certain comfort in that, don’t you think?

Now, back to that out-of-control list of mine…
I’m going to sit down with a fresh piece of paper and ADJUST it, keeping in mind the need to RELEASE expectations, find some margin in my schedule, tidy my desk, allow for other’s thoughts and feelings, and put on my perspectacles.
And then I’m going to RELAX.
And allow myself to have a Merry Christmas.

Friend, that’s my wish for you, too.
RELEASE, EMBRACE, LAUGH, and ADJUST so you can RELAX and enjoy these precious days with your precious people.
And we’ll meet back here next week to look at the X

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Fear Makes You Flaky

There are a few things in this life that I know for sure.
The number of things I have yet to figure out far outweigh them, if I’m honest.
So, when I stumble onto something that I can put in the ‘I Know This’ column, I get pretty excited.
Don’t you?

Here’s one of those things…
(and I’m none too proud that it’s taken me this long to get clear on it)

Fear makes you flaky.

Flaky, so we’re clear, is defined this way:
~forming or tending to form flakes, or thin, crisp fragments
~tending to peel off or break easily into flakes
~tending to break apart into small, thin, flat pieces

I don’t know about you, but those very literal definitions resonate with me.

When I let fear dictate my decisions (like not attending a party because I’m sure I’ll look a fool or not going to church because the ‘Let’s take a minute and shake hands and greet one another’ time makes me certain I’ll faint or not saying hello to an acquaintance when I’m out and about because I’m sure-beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt that I’ll say something stupid), I end up in thin, crisp fragments, breaking easily, and finding myself in a pile of small, thin. flat pieces.

Admitting these specific fears always garners me quizzical raised eyebrows from most of the dear souls I get brave enough to share them with.
In response, I hear such things as. ‘But you’re so good at small talk.’ ‘You seem so confident.’ ‘I would have never guessed you were scared.’

The truth is that I suffer from bouts of profuse Flop Sweat in most social situations.
I can even fog up my glasses and feel sweat rolling down my back while on a ‘normal’, ‘simple’ phone call.
It’s the weirdest thing.
And I’m doing everything I know to do to get a handle on it.

One of those ways is to acknowledge the truth that Fear Makes You Flaky.
And who, in their right mind, wants to be flaky?

Let’s dig a little deeper for a minute…
One of the definitions of ‘flaky’ at Urbandictionary.com is this:
~An unreliable person. A procrastinator. A careless or lazy person. Dishonest and doesn’t keep to their word. They’ll tell you they’re going to do one thing, and never do it. They’ll tell you that they’ll meet you somewhere, and show up an hour late or don’t show up at all.
(Just so we’re clear, I know that Urbandictionary.com is like the Wikipedia of words…with definitions provided by regular, everyday people…)

When I look at that particular definition, I see all kinds of things I don’t want to be.
But things that I know I’ve been.
And still am, some days.
Things I want to be done being.

And then I wonder, How?
How do I stop being so worried about how I’ll come off so that I can be focused on the PEOPLE around me?
How do I stop letting the voices in my head that tell me they’re sure no one likes me to crowd out the voices of the ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS telling me their stories?
How do I stop letting fear call the shots?

I think the answers to those questions lie in Simple Things…
Get to know – really know – what God says about me.
Embrace – really embrace – who He says I am.
Rest – really rest – in His love.

For so many years, I’ve known those answers.
Known them in my head.
I’ve just had the hardest time integrating them into my life, my heart, my being.
It’s a process, though, I’m sure.
And, like all processes, there will be steps forward and steps back.
Hopefully the forward motion exceeds the backward over time.

As I’m stumbling toward practicing those answers, there are a few practical things I’ve thought of that may just help…
~Show up, no matter how much Flop Sweat is happening.
~Ask good questions, then listen. Really listen.
~Get out of my head, where the Fear lives.
~Accept that not everyone is going to like me.
~Trust the unfolding of any given situation.
~Relax about having to ‘perform.’
~Know that others may be feeling just as nervous.
~Focus attention on the people around me.

I’d like to tell you that I can instantly recall all of those things in the heat of a social situation.
And that they always make a dent in the Fear.
But I’d be lying.

I can tell you, though, that I have hope in this, despite the quaking of my knees…
As I re-record with Truth the tapes that have played loudly in my head for most of my life, I believe the fear will dissipate.

And, in time, I’ll be less flaky.

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When Your Face Goes Numb

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been anxious.
I’ve lived most of my life in a state of fight-or-flight.

I learned not long ago, in a counseling session, that in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder lingo, this state of being, of interacting with the world, has a name: Hypervigilance.

I am a seasoned Hypervigilante.
(Yes, I just made up that word…*smile)

For a long, long time, I managed to be a fairly high-functioning Hypervigilante…

  • I stepped into a leadership role in our local Mothers of Preschoolers group when my four girls were 6, 4, 2, and 5 months.
  • I was an uber-volunteer at their school when the oldest hit elementary age.
  • I coached their volleyball and basketball teams through the middle school years.
  • I owned and operated a small, home-based business.

During those years, I also battled a host of health challenges and fought to keep my head, and heart, above water while the Riptide of Crazy that came with being married to an abusive addict** threatened daily to pull me under.

I sincerely believed it was my job to do everything in my power to make sure all of it looked bright, shiny, and normal…to everyone on the outside, at least.

And, I did that job well.

Until I couldn’t anymore.

I can’t tell you when I hit that wall…when I stopped being so successful at playing the High-Functioning Hypervigilante…when all the tightly-bottled-up anxiety refused to be contained a minute longer.

I just know it happened.
I found myself forced to admit that all my attempts at keeping the panic at bay were ultimately failures.

The most recent evidence of this vain attempt has been numbness.
Specifically, numbness that started in my lips and tongue and has since spread to my whole face.
It comes and goes as the levels of anxiety and panic ebb and flow.

The first time I experienced it, the numbness scared me a little. I wondered, ‘What new health challenge is presenting itself now?’

In fact, I was so worried about what I might find, I asked the Mister to look it up for me…and made him promise not to tell me if it was Something Really Bad. I just couldn’t take the thought of facing another Something Really Bad.

So, he looked it up and let me know that it, the numbness, was likely linked to anxiety.
My anxiety.

I was relieved and frustrated at the same time.
Relieved that it wasn’t Something Really Bad.
Frustrated that it was something I hadn’t been able to master…my tendency toward anxiety…my Hypervigilantism…my horrible record when it came to managing stress.

And, I know I would’ve felt totally hopeless…helpless…if I hadn’t found a kindred soul who’s actually written a book about anxiety, panic, PTSD…a book about finding spiritual whitespace…soul rest.

Bonnie Gray and her brand new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, arrived on scene just before the first Numb Lip Incident.

Divinely timed.

There are no words to convey how very grateful I am for her bravery, her words, her invitation.

Because when your face goes numb, you need some solid ground to stand on.
Because when your face goes numb, you need some compassion and empathy and encouragement.
Because when your face goes numb, you need some dear soul to point the way to Rest.

Reading Bonnie’s book does all of that and more.

Even as I’m tapping these keys to form these words, my face is numb.
But it doesn’t scare me anymore.
It simply brings home to me that being a Hypervigilante can no longer be my gig.

Breathing deep.
Finding rest.
Creating whitespace.
Living as the Beloved.

Those are all part of my new gig.
And I believe that as I lean into each of those inviting but unfamiliar things, the numbness will wear off…like it does after a novacaine-filled dentist appointment.
Gradually.
With some odd tingling.
I’m okay with that.

**The Mister and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary this winter. He is in recovery and is actively pursuing tools and strategies that can enable him to be more healthfully engaged while taking responsibility and making amends for the damage his addiction and abuse caused.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace
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Don’t Hold Your Breath

Sweet friend,

You with the tight shoulders…
You with the clenched jaw…
You with the fitful, too-short sleep…
You with the pit in your stomach…
You with the shallow breathing…

I can see your stress.
I can feel your worry.
I can understand your fear.
I can relate to your feeling hopeless.
I can imagine your overwhelm.

But…

…please relax.
…please release.
…please rest.
…please reframe.
…please respire.

Please don’t hold your breath.

I want to help you reclaim that phrase.
For too long it has meant the same as ‘Don’t get your hopes up.’

I want you to hear it instead as permission to fully live in the moment
…whatever the moment looks like.
I want you to hear it instead as permission to have hope, to dream, to embrace it all
…whatever all looks like.

Breath, my friend, is life.
So, breathing…fully, deeply breathing…is living.

And I want you to live.

God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!” ~Ezekiel 37:5,6 (The Message)

{Breathing deep with gratitude to be linking up with Holley Gerth today. Head on over to her site for more sweet encouragement.}

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A Letter to Six-Year-Old Me…

Two-Year-Old Me

Two-Year-Old Me

Sweet six-year-old Laura ~

I want you to know, as you sit crying on that hard, cold piano bench, that you are going to be okay. It doesn’t feel like it right now, but you are much stronger and more resilient than you could ever imagine. I promise you.

When your daddy took that picture of your sorrow and forced you to look at it, while telling you how Ugly you are when you cry, you had no idea those words would become lodged in your heart for most of your life. Jammed deep. Buried under other wounds inflicted by words. Under some wounds delivered wordless.

Yes, you took those words and swallowed them whole. Gulped them down, along with the tears you believed made you Ugly.

You made a deal with yourself, in a place so hidden you didn’t even know it was there, that you would do everything in your power to never be Ugly like that again. You would never mar what was apparently so tenuous and false (your beauty) that wet, salt-water drops falling from your big blue innocent eyes could reveal an Ugly so revolting that even your daddy couldn’t contain his loathing.

But, that deal you made, dear Laura…that deal was made with currency more false than Monopoly money.
That sealed-with-dry-eyes deal, sweet girl, is invalid.
Null.
Void.
Nonbinding.

The walls you erected – the fortress you built to contain The Ugly…I want you to know they’re not necessary any more.

I know there was a l-o-n-g time when you spent your days with your heart barricaded behind those walls, trying to ensure no Ugly would accidentally escape. (And, if I’m honest, there are still many days your energy is spent shoring up areas of the fortress where a brick or two has slipped out of place – just to make sure the integrity of those walls is intact.)

There have been years when you told yourself – and your fragile heart – that behind those walls, you were safe.
Dry-eyed-brave safe.

But, sweet child, I’m here to tell you that while those walls – that holding-in-the-Ugly fortress – served their purpose of protection at times when you didn’t have access to the strength, the stamina, the truth necessary to allow them to be dismantled, to come out from behind them…
It. Is. Safe. Now.

You are safe.
You are seen.
Your tears matter.
Your cries are heard.
Your beauty is intact.
(…because it’s not just a meaningless cliche that beauty comes from within…because that’s where your beauty originates…from within your remarkable heart…)

And there is One who catches each of those diamond-value tears of yours and saves them in a bottle, records them in His ledger.
Not one tear falls unnoticed or disregarded or scorned or misunderstood.
Not one.

The Tear Catcher loves you, Little Girl.

And even though you haven’t always sensed His presence,
He has always been near.
Nearer than your muffled-behind-the-walls heart cry.

And even though you haven’t always trusted that His Love, His Truth, His Rescue, His Grace, His Favor, His Mercy have been for you – believing that they were only for everyone else – the True Truth is that ALL of those things of His are YOURS.

YOURS to inhabit.
YOURS to drink in.
YOURS to lean on.
YOURS to rest under.

He calls you Beautiful, love.
For you are His beloved child.
He is nothing at all like the broken, untrustworthy, shattered man who took that crying picture of you, waving it in your face, trying to get you to share the load of his own shame.
He is everything that man – any man – cannot be.
True.
Faithful.
Grace-filled.
Merciful.
Tireless.
He is Love.

Even as I write this to you, today, from the place where I stand 40 years down your road, I know the trepidation that thumps in your chest – the pterodactyl-sized butterflies that start dive-bombing your gut – when you try to accept that it truly is okay to cry.
That, sometimes, it’s necessary to cry.
That, often, it’s a healthful thing to cry.
And that it’s never Ugly to cry.

Do your best to ignore the thumping in your chest, the humongous butterflies rattling your insides, and make a different deal with yourself.
For today.
And for as many days as you need to.
Make a deal with your priceless heart to do the work you need to do to accept the truth that tears do not equal Ugly.
Reach out. Ask for help.

Because, dear little one, you don’t have to worry about trying to cage The Ugly anymore.

Ugly wasn’t the truth then.
Ugly isn’t the truth now.

Love is.

Working with you to believe in the Beauty,
Your older self

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book. ~Psalm 56:8

{this post is a result of Bonnie Gray‘s life-changing book – and her 21 Days of Rest…click on through, grab yourself a copy of her book here, and find the soul-rest, the #spiritualwhitespace your weary spirit craves.}

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace
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Rest: A 4-Letter Word

{This post is part of the “Finding Spiritual Whitespace Blog Tour” which I am a part of, along with a group of soulful, journeying kindreds. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!}

There’s a 4-Letter Word I really struggle with.

It’s one that causes my throat to constrict, my palms to get sweaty, my heart pound, and my stomach to feel sucker-punched.

There are probably a variety of 4-Letter Words going through your mind just now – you may even feel confident in venturing a guess or two as to exactly what word it is that causes such an intense physical reaction…but my guess is you’d get it wrong.

Because it’s not a ‘typical’ 4-Letter Word.
It is socially acceptable to say in any setting.
It is not something one would say to elicit shock.
It is even an inviting, sweet word to some ears.

But, to my ears, it is anything but inviting and sweet.

The word in question?
REST.

And, as I’m reading Bonnie Gray’s *brand new book* Finding Spiritual Whitespace, I am starting to understand that my violent reaction to Rest is a coping mechanism that has deep roots in my life. Roots that make sense when examined from the perspective of the 5-year-old little girl that I was, but roots that seem to call out for a treatment or two of Holy Root Killer when viewed from where I stand today.

Rest, it turns out, is something for which my heart, my mind, my spirit, my body is crying out…
Rest, I’m learning, is something that has been calling to me for weeks, months, years, decades…

The thing is, it’s hard to hear anything calling to me when I’m running hard and fast in the opposite direction…cramming my days, jamming my schedule, packing my calendar so full that all the things jostling for my attention actually make enough noise bumping into each other that they drown out the whispers that Bonnie writes of in the pages of her life-changing book:

Rest, Jesus is whispering to you and to me.
Come.
Let me be with you.
As is.’

When I look at that little 5-year-old version of me, it breaks my heart to see her with her eyes squinched shut, her fingers stopping her ears, her tiny shoulders tensed, and her little mouth shouting, ‘La la la la la la laaaa…I can’t hear you!’ in response to any invitation to Rest.

She knew even then the panic that the thought of Rest wells up in a soul unable to sense safety…like stockinged-feet on a slick, moving surface that aren’t able to find a stable place.

Now, as I think of her – of me – it’s hard to fight the lump in my throat that’s working overtime to hold back the frightened, lonely, overwhelmed tears. In coming face-to-face with just how long this lack of safety, this scarcity of a stable place has been A Thing in my life, it’s really no surprise that Rest sparks within me the response it does.

Having the privilege of being part of the Finding Spiritual Whitespace launch team is, in my estimation, a divinely-timed assignment. One of those ‘for such a time as this’ things.

And I am making a promise to 5-year-old me because of it.

We – she and I – are going to take back that word…Rest.
We’re going to redeem it.
We are going to lean into it and, with Jesus’ help, turn it into one that sounds like, feels like another 4-Letter Word: Love.

Because, this…
‘Jesus is prompting me to step out to rest in a new way with him. It’s so much easier to take care of everyone, to tend to problems and everything else. It’s easier to be strong and not need or feel.
We’ve been taught our feelings are not reliable, so we throw them to the wayside. Trouble is, there is a part of ourselves we throw to the side too. Sometimes the harder path to rest is following your heart and holding on to nothing but Jesus.
Let’s not take the easier path. Let’s take the harder path to rest, paved by new ways of faith. Let’s take those feelings to Jesus and speak to him as friend to friend. Let’s listen to Jesus speak to us in a different way –
in the voice of intimate confidante,
where he takes our tears and shows us where they lead,
so we can whisper all we’ve never dared to share.
This is the harder path of faith I’m learning. Putting our hearts first – letting Jesus love us – is a new way of resting with him.’ ~Bonnie Gray, Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Bonnie’s book is available now – and it’s changing lives already.

I’m so grateful mine is one of them.

Bonnie Gray is the writer behind Faith Barista.com who wrote a book about her inspiring, heart-breaking journey to find rest, which garnered Publisher’s Weekly starred review. I’m taking the journey to find rest through this guidebook and invite you to read it too. You can get a copy HERE.

{While you’re here, friend, give this sweet, hope-filled book trailer a view…}

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

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Surviving’s Easy – Rest Comes Hard

#spiritualwhitespaceI’m good at surviving.

After all, I’ve survived a chaotic, broken childhood that fueled destructive choices during my teens and early twenties, many serious health challenges (including a rare esophageal disease, more than a dozen surgeries, autoimmune thyroid disease, a very aggressive form of breast cancer and the reconstruction that came along with with it), an abusive addict husband (who is currently in recovery and with whom I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage this year), raising four spirited daughters, difficult and broken family relationships, and the sudden, confusing loss of friendships I held dear for a decade.

Survival. Resilience.
I’ve got that part down.
Looking at that list, it’s obvious I’ve had lots of practice.
(And the help of some amazing mental health professionals over the years. *smile)

What I’m NOT good at is rest.
Historically, rest has not felt safe.
Rest has left me vulnerable.

Enter the breathtakingly amazing timing of an opportunity to be part of the launch team for Bonnie Gray’s new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest.

And this line from the book: ‘I am very good at surviving. I am an expert at figuring out how to do things right and do them well. I am not afraid of working hard, swallowing whatever might get me down, and pushing through.’

{I actually put a box around that whole passage instead of just underlining it because it resonated so deeply in my soul as I read it. For the record, though, I have underlined, double-underlined, starred, asterisked, and exclamation-pointed close to 90% of what I’ve read so far. It’s. That. Good.}

To be honest, though, rest – even the thought of it – causes panic to well up inside of me…squeezes my chest with anxiety…blasts at full volume the voices that try to convince me that rest is not for me. That rest is not a thing I am worthy of. That rest is a sign of weakness. (Huh – maybe the contradiction woven in those voices should be the first clue that they’re lying?)

It’s no accident that the concept of Spiritual Whitespace has entered my life during this season…

I have one baby left at home (and at 17, she’s not much of a baby anymore).
I’m near the anniversary of the fourth year since that cancer was found.
As Baby’s boyfriend informed me a few weeks ago, I’m only three years away from turning 50.
And, as I work to discover what God has for me to do in my Second Act, I know He’s calling me to rest. In Him.

As Bonnie so beautifully, invitingly puts it, ‘Finding whitespace is daring to discover the places in your heart that are virgin, tender, soft, untraveled, wounded, or broken – so Jesus can make those places yours and his.’

I’m going to be looking for whitespace over the next few weeks and will share what I find with you here, friend.

And I hope someday soon to be able to say ‘I’m good at resting.’

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com
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