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.

Keeping a Promise

December 2, 2014

In January of this year, I made a promise. I committed that ALL of my earnings from sales of “The World Needs Hope” this year would be given to support a cause that, in a word, humbles me to my core. If you missed my post, you can recap by visiting “Giving It All for Hope.”

Now, as I sit here on #GivingTuesday, I approach this topic with a deeper reverence and an even more intense passion. As a mom-to-be and stepmom to two awesome kiddos, my heart aches for any parent who feels hopeless, helpless and desperate enough to leave their child on the street to the fates. No judgment, only compassion.

So, I honor Pastor Lee’s efforts and remind you (yes, with a nudge and much emotion) that you too can help. Visit kindredimage.org to learn more, to donate and to show the world that every life matters.

And yes, I’m absolutely giving every penny I make through the close of the year to this cause. If you choose to make my book a gift or pick up a copy for yourself, you’ll be supporting children and sharing hope. Here’s the link to Amazon.

Unselfie Giving Tuesday

The Ebb and Flow of Hope

September 15, 2014

Oh, how I have missed you, friends! Somehow my life had a lot (understatement) to unfold over the last five months. During that time, I took an unplanned hiatus from the blog and much of social media. So, at the risk of being self-interested, I want to share the inspiring moments of ebb and flow since April.

Ebb
Such an intriguing concept . . . the waning of certain areas or, as I like to think of it, the pulling of life from your point of comfort into an ocean of change and challenge. In late March, I chose to set my heart free. No former attachments, no lingering what-ifs and no more seeking to find a someone. It was scary, it came with a clearing of energy, and it took all my courage to let go and give it fully to God.

Around April, I started noticing a reduction in freelance work and a shift in my network to a period of pause. That pause came with a frenzy of wrapping up projects, seeking new clients and praying the Lord would provide for my needs as bills mounted. I’m sure you know the stress and pressure of such times. Can I pay my rent in a month? What cavernous maze of steps must I take with credit cards? What am I doing wrong?

Simultaneously, several friends drifted into injury, illness, loss and trial. As I closed out the final weeks of the GriefShare class I love, I shifted immediately to be present and find the sunshine needed to bolster their spirits. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I simply didn’t realize my own candle was flickering.

Flow
To flow, to let life move as it will and to be pushed toward your greater self.

In mid-April, God richly blessed and challenged me all at once. He sent me David. Someone full of the spirit, a servant at heart and a playful personality with well-disguised redhead tendencies. On Easter, we had our first date. Imagine me sitting in the car before I walked up to the restaurant, praying to God that whatever He had in store would be my path. No expectations, no void to fill, no second guessing my outfit and nothing more than an honest glimmer of hope. David and I were instantly comfortable, immediately wrapped up in conversations that flitted from superheroes and action movies, to great books and helping others . . . even a sprinkle of goofy humor about our main courses (Chicken Bryan & Chicken Marsala, which we dubbed our double date Bryan & Marsala—at least until we scarfed them up). Yes, I scarfed on a first date. Don’t judge. He murmured on about baseball after a dizzying first kiss, so we’re even.

Fast forward (literally, it went so fast) to May when I met his kiddos (Joshua and Madelynne). Within a month of meeting, we were engaged. Crazy? Yep. Perfect? Yep. Predictable? Nope. We still stand silently and stare at each other sometimes and say, “Wow, this is real. I feel like the rollercoaster is still going.”

In June, we consolidated homes, in blessed time to combine both of our temporarily diminished finances. At the same time, I became a full-time step-mom in training. What a whirlwind of emotion, routine, questions and oops-my-bad. As David started his summer university term toward his doctorate in psychology, along with work for the Army Reserve, I set about reaching out to over three dozen job openings, clients and leads. But it wasn’t the Lord’s timing.

In July, we were married. I had spoken to the pastor once via phone, emailed the photographer, never met the hairstylist, never seen the flowers, never seen the winery in person and never met David’s family until the 24 hours before. It was like jumping out of a plane, into the ocean, looking for a star to guide you and seeing a hand reaching out. I wouldn’t change one ebb for all of the flow or one stressful moment for every priceless smile.

I humbly invite you to share our wedding day . . . the blessed culmination of surprises revealed, hope fulfilled and a new journey unleashed: View Our Video (one of the fabulous creations of the talented Tamara from Every Emotion Photography).

Also that month, I was given the opportunity to work on creative projects with a couple of brands I admire and the amazing blessing to begin building a brand with some visionary friends. It has God at its core, promoting good works to the world (can’t wait to share more in the coming months).

Every day has bumps and learnings, but my hope is wrapped in a glow of immense gratitude.

Crossroads and Detours

April 12, 2014

Ok, show of hands, who feels like life is pulling you in too many directions? Everyone? Thought so.

Sure, some of you may wish that life was linear with a well-lit, clearly defined road to follow without debris, bumps or fog. Something perhaps like this:

Driving on empty towards the sun

While certain moments may go by smoothly, like cruise control on new pavement, most of life is about twists, turns and detours. And, that’s alright. It may not be your preference or even comfortable, but it affords you the chance to learn lessons, explore new directions and challenge perceptions.

However, how do you feel when the bumps keep coming, the road stops being labeled and the turns get tighter? Perhaps you can relate to these common reactions:

  1. I feel like I’m stuck in a life that is always “under construction”
  2. I feel like I’m racing through life without any rest stops
  3. I feel like I’m driving at night with dim headlights in a fog
  4. I feel like I’m always on E and stopping constantly to fuel up
  5. I feel like I’m continually at a crossroads with no clue where to turn

If you answered all of the above, don’t worry. I have honestly experienced each one of these feelings at one time or another . . . sometimes several at once. It doesn’t mean life is hopeless or that you need to pull off the road and give up.

Detours and crossroads are manageable, if you know how to navigate them. Let’s rephrase the five feelings above into more tangible (tackleable) concepts:

  1. Construction is change. Embrace that every plan, appointment and expectation may change. It can be liberating. Surrender controlling the outcome in favor of celebrating that life is not boring and you are evolving into your best self.
  2. Renewal is crucial. If you feel anxious or frenzied, set priorities for your time, whether it means trimming commitments or dedicating a day a week to true relaxation. After all, there is no way to win a race if you are too drained to reach the finish line.
  3. Fog is lack of light. This may come from an impact event like grief or it may be some degree of depression. In these moments, it helps to talk to a counselor, facilitator or friend. Often, the light is present (like sun behind blinds) but we need a helping hand to acknowledge it.
  4. Empty is depleted. The body is an electrical, chemical and physical masterpiece. Food must be rich in nutrients, full of color and fresh from nature to sustain a healthy system. When you feel empty, remember food is fuel and that fuel needs to be from quality sources.
  5. Crossroads are clarifying. They give you a chance to redefine your journey, align with your principles, embrace a new dream or shift your destiny. Yes, you may feel overwhelmed and there will likely be contemplation. Pray, journal, turn to wise friends and trust yourself.

It’s not easy, friends. It takes practice and self-awareness. Even today, I coach myself into turning detours into crossroads. I have scoured resources, like maps to others’ life experiences, to show me the quick route or the best way. Ultimately, though, my landmarks and my journey are my own.

It’s good to research and ask for input . . . but you are the driver and need to make the final decision how to proceed. Have faith, hold on to hope and buckle up for the exciting things life has in store for you.