Notes to My Sisters

January 19, 2017

Spiritual sisters, career sisters, traveling sisters, biological sisters, sisters I have yet to meet . . . to the ladies I love, respect, appreciate and admire, I have a few words for you.

Deepest gratitude for the off-hours texts and just-because calls. You never cease to amaze me with your heart, your wit and your ways of knowing where my heart drifts. Every prayer and every sweet hug are fathomless in my book of life.

Never, ever, ever give anyone the power to degrade you. Your joy, your trajectory and your very breath are for you and the Lord to command. Knock down the harsh words, judgmental stares and doubting intentions that may mar your path. Sweep it away swiftly.

Embrace your roots, smile forward and be present now. The past is a lingering lesson not a tether. The future is a glimmer of hope not a destination. Now is your gift and everything it should be. Love it, celebrate it, learn it and sink into it fully.

Resist measurement. Your eyes will break you down, piece by piece. Your worries will hold you captive. Your presumed obligations and expectations will throw you off balance. Accept the glory of you and the gift of exactly how you are wired, created and forged in faith.

Laugh as much as your cheeks and belly allow. Humor is grace let out. It lightens heavy burdens. It quells arguments. It puts thoughts into perspective. When paired with compassion, childlike curiosity and bubbly effervescence, it is the answer to oogley moments.

I welcome your wisdom below in the comments. May hope, love and light be yours today!

What If We Stopped Asking Why?

September 5, 2016

Here is a guest post from the phenomenal Sherri Martin of LiveWonderstuck.com. Enjoy:

What if, just for today, we didn’t worry about why we are here? What if, just for today, we stopped asking, “God, why?” What if, just for today, we said, “I am open to Your wonder.” Then, what if, just for today, we paid attention to only what is right in front of us. What might we see, hear, and feel?

We might see how the light shines through the window like a spotlight, how it highlights the gentle curve of the couch arm. How have we never noticed this thing that we use every day? This thing that is both soft and sturdy. This thing that holds us when we are weary, that holds our loved ones.

We might see the mess of shoes by the door. Rather than fretting over tidiness, we might notice how each pair represents someone we love, how some lean on others and some laces intertwine. But isn’t that what family is? A mess of different styles, of different fits, jumbled together, being okay with showing their wear and tear.

Outside, we might see the flowers standing tall, boldly declaring their colors. And if we get closer, we will see how their petals are imperfect, asymmetric, dappled with holes, frayed at the edges, and still these flowers have the audacity to be seen. Do you?

What if, just for today, you stopped asking God why you are here and instead said, “I am here, God. Give me the audacity to see and be seen. Not at some future point when I think I am perfect and ready, but now, God, when you know that I am imperfect and that I am ready anyway.”

What might today look like?

Who Are You Again?

July 6, 2016

It’s funny interesting, not funny haha, how much changes during stressful times. And when those stressful times become a seemingly everyday occurrence, what then?

Tired. Unfocused. Overwhelmed. Drained. Numb. Those words tend to sneak in slowly, like water from a dripping faucet. They seep into your being and drip into your core. Then, when you go to summon up your energy, vitality and sunshine . . . poof, nothing left but a puddle of “this isn’t me,” “why do I feel like this?” and “how did I get here?”

I feel it. I am not immune. I hear ya. Sisters and brothers, young and old—feel the big hug I’m sending your way. More often than we give ourselves credit, we NEED solace. Life can be an epic suckfest. Don’t let my optimism, hopeful ways or inspirational writing fool you. I face down the darkness, feel the burden of this life and know that sometimes the biggest victory is to “just keep swimming.”

Consider the duality of self-reflection: mirror and meditation. Your physical body shows your stress, your angst and your brokenness through things like skin and body language. Your perspective on life also changes as you think of fewer can-dos, have more stuttering thoughts and amp up your personal criticism. Again, you are not alone.

Now is an excellent time to reset your senses and reach for help. First, check out how to Build Your Hope Mantra. Then, hop over to Psychology Today and Find a Therapist. Two steps in the right direction and one big leap for honoring your beautiful yourself.

 

Seeking Transformation

January 19, 2016

So often, we find ourselves looking for information, answers and basic yes/no confirmation. There is nothing wrong with wanting simplicity or closure but, sometimes, there is more to be learned in the seeking than the solution.

As 2016 unfolds, I find myself celebrating a blessed birthday for the first time as a shepherd to my little girl, for the first time as the final year to my third decade and for the first time as a soul completely aware that I will always be a beautiful work in progress. These firsts are blessings. These firsts generate emotions I am navigating with vulnerability. These firsts bring a mix of excitement, humility, joy and solemnity.

What I know more now than ever is that I need my faith, need to grow in my wisdom and need to welcome the transformation that God offers freely every day. Whether it is a softening of my spirit to show more tolerance or a hardening of my resolve to face the tough conversations, I am constantly and utterly transformed by powers much greater than myself.

I am not a linear thinker and lean on whimsical tangents more than most, so shaping me must take more love and grace than I can fathom. I am grateful for that effort—that unending promise to keep working on me and keep working in me.

What I share in this moment is the knowledge that you can be both “enough” and completely whole as you are and, yet, be “transformed” every second of every day. In fact, it will happen without you having an ounce of control or say in the matter. In that way, it is reassuring to know that despite the moments of exhaustion, confusion or stress, you will still be transformed.

Ah, and the true miracle happens when you seek out that transformation, graciously hoping and accepting it in your life. That, friends, unlocks deeper truth, greater joy and more profound understanding than you may have ever thought possible. I wish that for you and look forward to transforming along side you.

Praying for Marie and Paris

November 18, 2015

When 9/11 struck the States, my stomach dropped, my heart broke, my soul gasped . . . then, my being went numb. When the Paris attacks occurred last week, it was the same feeling.

After confirming close friends were safe (sighing an ounce of relief at each text or Facebook message with “Sara, I’m ok”), I reached out to colleagues in Paris to check on their well-being. Somehow, I longed to offer support. In doing, I learned that Marie, pictured below, was a victim.

Marie Lausch

(photo courtesy of Twitter @ParisVictims)

I knew her as the charming voice on the other end of email. She was the sweet woman who always included a “have a great weekend,” “kind regards” or “thank you very much” and was never inconvenienced by going above and beyond in service to others. I would have known her for two months today, as we were e-introduced on September 18 for a series of PR projects for Coty. She was just beginning a promising year with the team.

She exudes vitality and beauty here, at age 23, with Mathias Dymarski, age 22. They moved to Paris together from Metz in 2014. Mathias was an adventurous BMX rider. Both died during Le Bataclan attacks, taken in the prime of their lives.

I know I am not alone in this shock or the profound sadness that such an unspeakable tragedy generates. I also know that I stand with the light workers of this world, refusing to let the spark of hope be extinguished. Darkness will not prevail.

God bless those taken too soon. Lord watch over those who mourn. Jesus save those who seek to do harm.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

November 17, 2015

It’s so easy to focus on the deficit, the wants or the challenge. Shaking free of that debilitating mindset takes a commitment to forgiving yourself, loving others in their language, and a clarity of judgment to know which voices serve you and which do not.

Most importantly, for obstinate personalities like me, it takes an occasional trimming. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, being a mompreneur, a new parent and a new wife in a new town with two new stepkids and a new rhythm to life all added up to a hazy sense of entitlement. I sacrificed so much, I told myself. I gave birth, for heaven’s sake. I am only one person, I pleaded with the universe.

I wanted to hold on to the former, comfortable identity I had worked years to manifest. I still wanted to design my day, own every bit of my time, and put my wildly creative and random conversations at the front of the queue.

So, in mature fashion, I planted my feet, crossed my arms and, honestly, threw a big ol’ temper tantrum about how unfair everyone else’s needs were on me. I cited my limited time, my limited sleep, my limited patience. Waa, waaa, waaaa. It was honest, candid, brutal, blunt, what have you . . . in short, it was me being a hypocrite.

A few of my wants:

  • 15 minutes extra in the shower to condition my hair and reflect
  • No interruptions when working in my office
  • Zero questions that didn’t feel valid (how dare they ask “What are we having for dinner?”)
  • No staying up past the baby’s bedtime, as I clung to that precious window of sleep
  • No midday calls to check-in or share stories
  • Absolutely no taking away my Starbucks cafe time or midweek lunches
  • Two hours (scheduled at my discretion) to catch up on shows or blogs, whatever pleased me
  • Unfiltered spending on my sweet angel (fluffy lamb, it’s yours; cute shoes, let’s get ’em)

Was I hurting? Yes. Was I exhausted? Yes, still am. Was I craving intellectual stimulation? Yes. Was I trying to serve others? Yes. Was I doing it with a gracious heart? No. Ahhhh, and there’s the rub. “Service” without the smile is just obligation.

You can choose to perceive how thoughtless, selfish, demanding and flighty others are. Or, you can turn the mirror of clarity and see those very same unsightly traits in yourself. Certainly, no one is perfect. Thank the Lord for that.

It was all a cry for help and a resistance to sacrificing self. Deeper than that it was an inability to ask for help and a fear of losing self.

Funny how we tell the world how much we do, say we do it without expectation and even keep giving in productive ways to benefit others. But, the magical realization is that no gift is truly effective with strings and no one, especially me, can expect others to cater to their microcosm of wants. I had to trim back on the pity, adopt a more compassionate view of my family and set some healthy boundaries.

With those actions in motion, I started to feel liberated from guilt and wanted to enhance that freeing feeling by lightening my body to match my spirit. So, I turned to an organization I have supported before: Locks of Love.

I went to see the talented, charming Demi at Halo Hair Studio. I told her I wanted to donate at least the minimum 10 inches. And here’s what happened . . .

Hair to My Waist

Hair to My Waist

Over 12 Inches Trimmed

Over 12 Inches Trimmed

Donation to Locks of Love

Donation to Locks of Love

Final Style

Final Style

As I got my haircut, I thought about my behavior, burdens and desires. My behavior needed to be improved for both my loved ones and my own well-being. My burdens were self-chosen and could fall to the salon floor. My desires should be honored and voiced respectfully, not by clinging to a sense of entitlement.

By the time I left the chair, I felt lighter, invigorated and more my vibrant self. The lesson is in listening to the voices that serve you and silencing the ones that cause you distress.

I was lucky enough to be able to send my locks along to a little girl, whom I hope feels my love and the swirly curly joy each strand possesses.

When God Calls, It’s Not a Misdial

August 26, 2015

So, I took an e-hiatus for the birth of my baby girl, Calia, who entered the world in early June. She is an immense blessing and a humbling gift.

My recent transformation into momhood came with delivery trauma, breastfeeding woes, postpartum anxiety and a surge of can-never-do-enough motherly guilt. Every new mom seems socially compelled to blanketly say, “All worth it,” to avoid judgment over their humanity and a feeling of, “I’m doing this wrong if I don’t feel blissful.”

I love my daughter endlessly. In fact, I was inspired to invent our own little ILY testimony: “Do you know how much momma loves you? Around the whole wide universe and back + the space in between (opening arms to demonstrate this space and welcome her in for cuddles).” I soak in the precious coos, big baby stretches, expressive faces, simultaneous hand-feet motions and new capabilities (this week was blowing raspberries and folding hands in a prayer-like pose). I’m all in with my baby girl.

However, I would not be a truth teller if I didn’t admit that the last three months came with lots of tears, sleepless nights, painful body aches and a feeling of being adrift. I prayed a lot. Micro prayers, help me cries, gratitude shout outs, watch-over-my-sweet-baby pleas and lots of show-me-the-way requests. Those prayers showed me that, as a mom and an individual, my knees was the best place to show up.

At times, I felt like the Lord was sitting quietly in wait for me to suck it up or rise to the occasion of motherhood. I felt moments of distance from God in a time that I was sure would bring me closer to Him. I even wondered if I was just so fractured from giving birth that I was no longer worthy of hearing the Spirit. The deceiver knows how to plant doubts and foster fear in times of weakness.

The key for me was to remember that I can call on Him at all times but that does not necessarily mean I will get more than His voicemail, until He is ready to reveal Himself or His plan. What God was doing for me—although I was too exhausted to see it at the moment—was remind me that He was in charge, that my well-being needed nurturing too and that His gift of my daughter was “enough” for that period of time. He was there in her. He was there in me. He was there in my husband’s support. He was there in my friends. He was there in each new dawn. He was there when I kneeled. He was there when I broke down in tears. He was there listening and loving through it all.

As I returned to work last month, my hybrid life of new mom and bold freelancer collided into an internal conflict of where to focus and how to function. Again, I called out to the Lord, asked for clarity and direction, begged for wisdom and hoped beyond hope that I would do right by my daughter. I waited for an answer. I waited some more. I checked my spiritual inbox and felt like all I was hearing was silence. I felt depleted and uncertain how to achieve the dream I had envisioned—holding my baby as she drifted peacefully off for long naps, as I typed in a sunlit room and streamed classical music to enhance her learning slumber . . . or taking calls as I played on the floor with her, immersing her in shapes, colors, textures and smiles. Instead, my intuitive little girl stirs for every call, has food intolerances that trigger gassy distress and bats away technology with her knowing little hands. She’s smart, quirky and perfect exactly as she is. And, as God often works, she is helping me paint an entirely new reality, where I optimize my 2-5 a.m. work time, put away technology while I’m breastfeeding or playing with her, and set boundaries. This allows me to show her that momma works, momma cooks, momma talks to others . . . but, most of all, momma is there to comfort, feed and laugh when I need her.

With the threads of enlightenment slowly emerging and some small pattern in place for now, I took time to reflect on my purpose and path. My giftings (hope, wisdom, mercy and faith) were stirring in new ways, calling me out to do more. But how could I do more if I was already struggling to parent, work and sleep? Ah, but in that vulnerability, God called. I was sure for a moment that it was a wrong number, that He was pranking me or that I just imagined it. Nope. When God calls, it’s not a misdial.

Why is He calling me now? Well, that’s oddly simple. He wanted me to be at a humble place, ready for His direction. He knew I needed to truly be hungry for His guidance. He had to show me that at no time in life within this fractured world will everything move out of the way to fall comfortably into place. He had to let it sink in that Calia is His child first. He helped me to see, by calling me now, that His grace is sufficient. The Spirit is always there breathing and pushing me toward His greater purpose, not based on my calls or timeline but His.

What is He calling me to do? Well, that’s between us. But I can say that it’s not so much do as embrace. I hear the call to be a light worker, to find new ways to share hope, to help the grieving to heal and to share Spirit-driven insight. Like any good parent, He’s calling me to be still and truly listen . . . because He said so and knows best.

Bumps on the Journey

April 14, 2015

Every road in life, at some unknown juncture, has the potential for bumps. As I sit here literally bumping from pregnancy on the morn of my 33rd week, I can honestly say that life has given me a bunch of blessings and a few more bumps in the last year than I saw coming.

Now, I love cliffhangers, surprise twists and new experiences, so it’s safe to say that God loads me up on such things. I also know that being Scottish, tinged with reddish locks and an eldest makes my approach to life direct, independent and often feisty. Admissions aside, I’m finding that calm, spiritualism, support, understanding and joy are far more of what I seek to cultivate now than anything else.

I look at all the ways I express love to others—cooking, long listening sessions, playful banter, coffee or wine delivery, little notes of encouragement, concierge style question answering at odd hours, funny faces, virtual hugs, supportive advice (when requested), prayers, and trying every day to be a better me who is more Christ like.

This ride is not easy, nor is it filled with ticker tape parades, bouquets of flowers or constant attagirls. It’s rough, messy, painful and often draining . . . but it’s a gift. I need to chant that to myself every night and every morning, through marriage struggles, distance from loved ones and the physical trials of pregnancy.

Humbly, as you face your bumps, remember the following:

  1. What you say, do, show and share sets the tone for what you get back
  2. Starting from a place of love always leads to a better destination
  3. Hurtful words are often a cry for support from others, but don’t accept abuse
  4. You deserve a break, a quiet bath, a coffee escape, a movie or a moment away
  5. Surround yourself with those tuned to God, to love and to hope

I’m bumping with you, friends. For me, finding solid ground is as much about looking up in surrender as planting my feet firmly down.

Anchor Yourself in Light

February 13, 2015

One afternoon last week, I found myself exhausted and foggy. As sometimes happens, I had let my energetic tank dip past E. So, I decided that a bath would be necessary to unwind and try to salvage the remaining productivity of the day.

If you have a bustling existence, like mine, then you know that doing anything in the self-love category often comes with a time trade-off. Somehow, I managed to get the kids situated and leave my husband to his studies long enough to sneak into our master bathroom. I adjusted the blinds to let the outside, natural, soothing light stream in and started drawing a bath.

As I waited for it to fill, I recalled that I had a lovely bag of lively colored bath bombs from a local artisan. When I dropped half of the crumbly ball into the tub, something magical happened . . . I smiled like a little child playing with paints.

Bath Bomb Rainbow

In true “bomb” fashion, it was a fizzy explosion of color and scent. I watched it morph and glow and take over the tub. As I slid my foot in, I even tried not to disturb the rainbow dancing on the surface. However, my glee overcame me and I began using the bubbles as clown hair, funny shapes and towers of color.

Sinking into the warm water, I angled my head to look up and out the window above the tub. There, more magic unveiled itself. For a moment, I was this beautifully majestic tree swaying in the breeze and flirting with the sunlight. It seemed to be draped in a halo of calming, bright hope.

Sunlight Through Branches

What all of the bubbles and beaming reminded me is that we must (you and me) make time to anchor ourselves in light. The light never fades, moves or abandons us. We simply must reach for it, bathe in it and remember that it has the power to cleanse our spirits.

Burn No More

December 3, 2014

I’m heartbroken over the senseless and unending “news” coverage about Ferguson. Shame on you media mongers for hiding behind free speech with your contempt, malicious ways and ill motives. May God have mercy on you.

I’m heartbroken for the grieving family who tragically lost their son, for the officer and his family, for the townspeople who lost homes and businesses to a wave of fiery rage, for the staggeringly high intraracial violence that occurs every day, and for those who would let perceived injustice fuel the flames of hatred and looting and pain and hurt on others.

1 John 2:9-11 NIV
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

Burn no more in your souls. Burn no more with words that act like accelerants. Burn no more into the cameras or crowds to cultivate harm. Burn no more for attention’s sake. Burn no more with selfish anger. Burn no more into the hearts of impressionable children. Burn no more to feed the gangs and thieves.

May healing begin. May grace fall on every spirit. May wisdom prevail. May compassion take root. May we all learn how to love again.

John 16:33 NIV
“‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'”

I pray this, Jesus. Amen.