Desperately Seeking: Really Great Rest Stops

Please allow first my sincerest apologies to those of you who witnessed my fall from the face of the earth.  I’ve spent much of the year in fierce pursuit of an unshakable stir to unplug.  To which end- finally- I’m uncovering a most valuable life lesson.

It probably begins with the fact that most of my earth-bound existence I’ve been a person so burdened with my own curiosity that its near impossible for me to resist the unavoidable urges to trail off after hidden treasures just out of sight.  This applies to both pavement and life.  I can get lost for hours- even days- in a task if I give myself the space my soul craves.

It’s been a while since I’ve done that.

Until… the stir.

 

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A couple weeks ago, I went for a really long run.  I mean like ten miles long.  Now I’m not a hard-core runner.  I don’t go fast.  Not at all.  My gift is to keep going when it feels like I’m dying.  That said, I can pick up and go for a long one out of nowhere.

If I have the time.

Well it took about eight months to get there.  But finally I’ve created the space for just such a venture.  So I’m a few miles into it, and I have a revelation.   I begin to consider that while I’ve spent a lifetime veering off the path in my queries over the mysteries of life, there’s another question to ponder:  What might happen if I stayed ON the path instead?  It simply thrills me when the answer meets me right here, in the quiet of this moment.  I just might arrive somewhere.  If I stay on it long enough.  Powered by this shift in perspective, I happily trek on.  Passing by all opportunity to detour.  #Undetoured

Just color me inspired.

Before long, I’m treading into territory I haven’t yet traveled.  It’s scenic and quiet.  And far enough away to hear myself think.  Something magical indeed.  When I do in fact arrive somewhere just a little ways farther down the road, I am elated.  Somewhere being a cute little restaurant with outdoor seating and tealights.  It’s a popular setting for the locals here.  With a trail in the back that leads to a really great view of the water.

This is the soul food I desperately need.

When I look at my life, I can see that I’ve taken this road as well.  Quite neurotically.  I’ve become so fixated on a project or goal… on arriving… that I’ve been passing by all the really great rest stops on the way.  I’ve worked so hard to correct this little detouring glitch in my wiring that some time ago, something clicked in my settings.  They were altered.  I became a modified version of myself, and my default was fixed to keep going-going-going until I don’t know when.  Rest wasn’t built into my  settings anymore.  I didn’t know how.  I’m still working on that.

Let’s come back to today.  All of this thought reaches another dimension.  It’s about recognizing those forks in the road that lead to rest and when the time is right to take them.  I realize with my critical brain that there are times when rest may be available but perhaps unwise if better rest is just ahead.  That feels important to acknowledge.  It’s not saying I can’t rest.  It’s saying not here.  Somewhere nicer.  And other times, rest is necessary.  Even if conditions aren’t best.  It’s a matter of learning to survey the landscape I’m treading and discerning how best to respond to what I observe.  It’s being intentional about how I choose to nourish my soul.  A simple matter of asking myself the questions that matter.

  • Does this path lead to shelter?
  • Is it a good spot for recharging?
  • What kind of people lodge here?
  • Is there danger ahead?
  • Which way are the others going?

There’s nothing wrong with going where the herd does.  There may be a reason people flock to a certain pasture.  Neither is there anything wrong with asking what kind of people migrate one way or another.  Are they refreshed?  Are they moving toward things I want out of life?

If you’re afraid to risk intimacy with others (like I am), traveling solo has its appeal.  But you miss out on so much.  There are many benefits to sharing the journey with others.  First in my mind is that you’re less vulnerable to predators.  Second is the insight you gain from the experience of others.  I don’t have to make ALL the choices.  Where we end up isn’t on my shoulders alone.  Other people share the responsibility for arriving at our destination.  I like that.  It means I don’t have to sleep with one eye open.  Skip meals.  Or drive without breaks.  I don’t have to worry I’m missing important road signs and landmarks.  My eyes aren’t working alone anymore.  And at the end of the day, the company is just nice.  I think it’s safe to admit that.  Even if it is scary.

Listen, here’s the lesson on the other side of the dirt trails.  It’s my journey.  I get to choose who I want to travel alongside.  So do you.  But I hope you’re not traveling alone.  Cause you don’t have to.  That’s a choice.

From Overwhelm to Simple Possibility

Has the overwhelm set in?  Just start somewhere.

In a way, that’s what I’m doing here.  With these words and this task.  The ideas have come and gone.  So has the energy they bring with them.  Can you relate?

Maybe you’ve had it in your head to do all these things with the shiny new year, and now that it’s here… your energy’s spent.  Sometimes all I can see is a bunch of unused intentions.  Wasted.  Then they’re gone with the wind or buried in paper.  I meant well.  But time gets away.  It all disappears in a blink.  And that’s just in time, to start over and do it all again.  Or maybe not do it, all over again.  Do you ever feel like I do?

Maybe you’re a little bit like me, and all you really want is time to recover from the last month.  Or two.  Or even three.  It’s exhausting to think of doing even one more thing, much less the grand vision I meant to be busy about.  Still, I know if I don’t do something, I’ll stay right where I am.  And that’s stuck.  If there’s any one place I know I DON’T want to be- after all that God’s done to move me forward- it’s there.  Moving is the path to not being stuck.

So I’m starting with this.  With these choppy, broken words.  I offer them up to remind you, you’re not as alone as you think.  We’re in this together.  Breaks are allowed.  Take as long as you need.  But don’t stay there.  Get your bearings.  Catch your breath.  Grab some coffee, or better yet a nap.  Take a walk.  Whatever it takes.  Fill up your tank.  Then hit the road, running.

We’ll be here when you’re ready.  We’ll be cheering you on.  Toward that shiny new year that’s stuck in your head.  One sloppy step at a time.

Whatever it takes.

I’m right there with you.  You may not think so, but I need you doing your thing as much as you need me doing mine.  We draw energy from what others share with the world.  That means you.   Really, I mean it.  We are in this, together.  The possibilities are endless.  And we know better than to go it alone.

Now tell me I’m right.  Because you know that I am.  There’s so much for you out there, and I want you to grab hold of it, friend.  It starts here.  It starts right here, this minute.  With just one visible step toward something that’s calling.  With one doable thing that you can and will do.  Do it now.  However you need to.  Whatever that looks like.

Then keep doing that.

Until finally, you’re just doing the thing.  That’s how the thing becomes your thing.  Your new thing.

Tell me, friend.  What do you imagine when you look into the window of your fresh new year?  What possibilities lie waiting for you to take note of them, and give them fresh life?  I’ll tell you what I see when I look into mine.

I see you.  Doing your thing.  Together with me.

This is me showing up for the vision.  Will you join me?  I can’t wait to see what unfolds into OUR exciting New Year!  As we adventure together.  Here’s to us!  Sharing the joy and everything else.

 

ComeWithMe.Live where we use what we have to invite others in, to all that God’s doing

Lessons From The Lipstick Saga

Lately I’ve been making an effort in ways I’d forgotten.  My friend Lorrie playfully attests that she’s nothing without her lipstick.  I didn’t get her permission to say that, but I don’t think she’ll mind.  (You can can catch Lorrie saying fun stuff like that somewhere in the land of https://www.LorrieT.com/  That’s her playground, and she loves to welcome new friends!  But don’t go there yet.  I have to tell you this story first, Girlfriend.)  Allow me to start by confessing that I have to agree.  A little color just brings a girl to life!  Wouldn’t you agree?

I’m typically pretty committed to my shade of choice, and this can get sticky.  Like it did not long ago, when the unthinkable happened.

I’d been encouraged by one of my book pals Jess Connolly to reclaim my lipstick wearing yesterdays gone by in the book Wild and Free beautifully co-written by herself and Ms. Hayley Morgan.  (“Book pals,” by the way, are people I’ve never met in real life… but after reading their books, I swear that we’re friends!)  And if you didn’t catch it, I did a Facebook Live in my slippers on a happy Slow Down, It’s Saturday! to tell you about the book- not the lipstick.  (Visit my video library in the Soul LoveAble Facebook Page to check that out and more!  If you don’t see the link on the sidebar, just look for it at the bottom of this page.)

So I’m in the bathroom at work refreshing my Wet ‘n’ Wild Iced Cherry when… I drop it. Right. On. The. Floor.  This is where you should hear that screeching halt Halloween noise that lets you know the appropriate response is to cringe.

I swoop it up in a hurry and do what any desperate situation calls for.  I panic.  In my moment of crisis, I scrub half the tube away with dry paper towels and actually consider whether I will ever use it again.  Ever.  Yes, I considered it.

I hope you have enough faith in my better judgment to guess where this story takes me next.  There I am, crouched down on my haunches, attempting to duplicate my color after finishing up at work in the make-up aisle at Walmart.  After settling for what seems to be the closest match, I pry through the impossible plastic in my car.  Now while this tube appears to be ordinary lipstick, it does not apply itself as such.  My thirsty lips beg to differ.  Girls, can I just tell you?  I don’t love matte.  Surely some of you know the secret, and it’s probably really great.  But it’s not my fave, and I wasn’t happy.  Round two.

Several days and probably $20 later I land on Fire and Ice by Revlon and pair it with a Cotton Candy gloss from Wet ‘n’ Wild.  Because it’s come to my attention that what I really love is shine more than shade.

As it turns out, the new combination is a huge hit.  My lips are all the buzz these days.  It’s a fun fact I never imagined would make the hot topic headlines in my news feed.  And I’m thrilled that in spite of that, it has.  Life is full of surprises!

~/~

Listen, I’m probably never going to be a girl that wears lipstick every day or fun earrings that dangle.  Most jewelry annoys me, and those days are gone.  At a genuinely happy to be pushing 40, those little things take more effort than I can afford.

But something is telling me it’s important to remember that I used to be.  I used to be a girl that cared what I looked like.  And I wanted girlfriends enough to do the hard work of connecting.  Enough to actually go places and even do things.  Just for fun.   Do you ever ask yourself, “When did I give up?”  I know I do.

That very same girl lives inside me today.  I bet she lives in you too.  She wants to come out of the cage!  That’s a lot of what my book pals Jess and Hayley have to say in their book about how we’re made for more than the expectations that keep us pinned up inside of ourselves.

Sometimes I need a little reminder to mix things up and try something different.  Maybe you do too.

When was the last time you started up a nice chat with the lady standing next to you in your favorite department store or maybe the food line while you wait- and not to complain?  Hey, invite her to Church if the window is right!  What about making some room for a person you haven’t met yet, to sit next to you?  You could even ask if she knows her way around the building if you like.  And don’t forget to offer exchanging your info if you’re hitting it off.  Let’s not be too grown-up for the making of friends.

Potential friends are everywhere we look.  It just takes a little effort to see them.  Something different and new is a good thing.  Even if it’s bumpy.  I think I’m ready for that.

Are you?

Don’t wait to drop your lipstick on the floor.  New colors are fun, and so are new friends!  Go ahead, and see for yourself.

You’ll be glad that you did!

Your First Aid Kit For Surviving Embarrassment

I wasn’t kind.  In a knee-jerk flash, the words had spilled from my mouth.  To bring them back was impossible.  I scurried and scrambled in my failings to fix what I’d fractured.  I confessed that I was worried I had embarrassed the person I spoke so carelessly to, but what’s truer is that I had embarrassed myself.  And I didn’t know how to repair it.

Have you ever been there?

I think it would be fair to say I’ve spent most of my life troubleshooting the wounds of embarrassment.

Take today, for instance.  I was putting in an order for one of my co-workers, and I literally had to ask her what her name was.  My system’s memory- or lack of it- was mine.  There was no way around it.  I had to say out loud that I didn’t remember the name of this person.  This is someone with whom I’ve shared pizza, or more accurately a nice person that’s given of her own pizza to my benefit.  She’s made a mostly happy routine of offering up polite exchanges throughout the day.  I’ve even journaled over one of our charming chats.  This someone is most certainly a someone I should have known by the group of letters she uses to identify herself.

Can I just crawl into a hole and hibernate until the rapture please?  Good Lord, have mercy!  Have you ever just wanted to hide?

~/~

At least that’s an honest mistake.  You can most likely identify with that.  But the kind of embarrassing that comes from when I haven’t been kind?  That’s different.

The truth is I didn’t mean to be unkind.  And I should probably cut myself some slack.  It’s not the first, and won’t likely be the last time, that I mess up and need some serious grace.  The good news is, God has plenty.

If I choose to see things from that viewpoint, I can assess that the reason it bothers me is because I do care about this person.  That’s not such a bad place to start from.  It’s all about the position I take toward this person and toward God.  It’s my giving God the space to meet me there, where I need Him.  Conviction is a beautiful thing.  It means God is moving and stirring.

I can live with that.  The situation itself becomes a messenger from God that reminds me there’s hope for me yet.  He’s not finished with me.

~/~

Sometimes I want to hibernate until He is finished, but I’m starting to realize that’s when I miss out.  God wants me to see Him show up.  He’s a redeemer, and it’s me He’s redeeming.  He’s given me a front row seat to watch Him work and see how it’s done.  From the inside out.  All I have to do is show up for the process and stay present.

While He does the work.

He’s not finished with me.  Praise God!  I take comfort in that.

Can I tell you a secret, my friend?  If you’re still breathing air, there’s hope for you too.  His work isn’t through.  And that’s very good news!

It’s safe to come out now.  You don’t want to miss what He’s doing next.

In you.

“Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name.”  Psalm 74:21

How To Find Your People

Do you have people?

This question matters, and I’ll tell you why.  It’s for times like this.

The last couple weeks, I haven’t had it in me to do a lot of showing up.  But I haven’t had to.  My people did the showing up for me.  The relationships God has been building, before I knew I’d need them, have been there to support me in my moment of lack.  I was covered in prayer.  I was given space and grace to be absent until I’d recovered enough to return to the land of the living.  Prayers came from everywhere to encourage me in my spirit, when my faith was growing quite weak.

It wasn’t always this way.  I used to struggle alone.  I battled, alone.  And when I returned to the land of the living, no one would even know that I’d struggled.  I’d leave the people out of getting to show up for me when I was in need.  I was pretending I could do it all on my own.  I was fooling myself.  Inside, I was crumbling.  I just didn’t know it.

When the storms came on strong, I didn’t know where to look for help.  I’d weather them as best I could.  I would try to stay strong.  It never occurred to me that there might be another way.  This was the only way I knew.

But something has changed, and it’s changing me.  It’s the people.  God’s people.  It’s letting them in.

I’m getting to see God show up in ways I’d never imagined.  In a mighty way, through them.  Their faith-filled prayers go up when mine are weak.  The collective prayers of many gain strength from my weakness.  It’s tragic that I used to settle for my own defeated prayers in the face of doing battle.  And it’s an enemy tactic.  Our enemy has us convinced that it’s better to hide, and to posture.  We wait it out until we feel stronger.  We want to maintain an appearance of having it together.  How fooled we have been!  The community is for the times when we’re weak.  We show up spent and defeated, and the brethren steps in.  The sisterhood.  They hold up our arms, like Aaron and Hur did for Moses.  They pray prayers we can’t summon over promises that sound more like fiction than truth.  And God hears them.

Community remembers who we are, when we can’t.  And it matters.  Trust me, it matters.  In ways that reach farther than even meets the eye.

These words I write now are a picture of that.  When I feel like I have to say important things about uncertain times, I don’t have it in me to show up.  But when I come as I am, God meets me here.  He always does.  It’s a quiet confidence.

It doesn’t happen overnight.   It’s a practice.  It’s over and over again, and getting it wrong all the way to getting it right when you finally do.  Only to discover there is no right or wrong in this thing.  It’s showing up to figure it out.  And people to do it with, even when you can’t.

Are you tired bearing your burdens alone?  Are you too exhausted to posture, and say the right things?  There’s a cure for all that, and it’s a great place to start.  Healthy confession is good for the soul.  If it sounds super scary, start small.  See how it feels.  And build on that.  Let the people doing life alongside you begin to really see you.

Take it from me.  The day will come that you’ll be really glad you did.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  Proverbs 17:17

Doctor’s Orders For The Busy Soul

Do you feel too reliant on other people’s ideas to have great ideas of your own?  I know I do.  Listen.  I’m a Jesus-loving, self-denying, proud-to-be-available for all the others aunt.  And sister.  And daughter.  And friend.  I love all that.  I really do.  But all of that keeps me really busy.  And sometimes I get just a little bit lost in all of that.  Does that happen to you?

I get tired.  And I get- dare I say it- uninspired.  Sunday is a perfect example.  Church is great.  It’s awesome really.  The message is all about God’s pursuit of the lost.  Our pastor talks about the celebration in heaven over even just one lost soul when they’re finally brought home- even if that someone is me.  To mark the occasion my new nephew- 5 days old- makes his debut on the Church scene.  He already has lots of fans waiting in line to make his acquaintance.  It all feels really connected that day.  The mingling with other believers is full of energy and life.  It’s great.

I work late on Saturday night.  I don’t get much sleep.  While Sunday is my absolute favorite day of the week, by the time I’m finished with all the activities, I’m usually quite tired.  That’s just in time for the very best part of the day when I get to relax and take it all in with my family.  This day is no exception.

After Church, I eagerly come home excited to share our thoughts on the sermon and rehash the highlights.  Mom thinks it’s funny because the pastor used the celebration over finding a lost phone as part of his illustration.  She wonders if my own recent experience inspired this in some way.  I too think this is curious.  You’re more than welcome to read about my lost device in “Can A Stolen Phone Be A Gift From God?”  Check out my recent posts for the story.

I take my mom to work not long after, and we have a nice chat about some of the ways God is moving in our home.  It’s great.  I love these little chats.  They’re uninterrupted and free of distraction.  Car chats are maybe my favorite.  By the time I make it back home, I’m melting.  I do a few routine things winding down and consider maybe doing some reading.  Or perhaps the unthinkable, a nap.

About this time, the dog gets out for the bazillionth time.  My niece needs me to go fetch him.  The neighbors have an impenetrable defensive fence surrounding their castle.  Well, it’s impenetrable to me, but not to our dog.   This is a trying event that I’m all too familiar with.  I stress to my niece the importance of watching herself on her way out the door.  Because I’m not going to keep doing this.  The cranky is starting.

Only a moment later, we’re having this discussion again.  And I see that look.  You know the one.  The I don’t care what you say, I’m going to do what I want look.  It comes with a smirk.  I’m ticked.  You might appreciate that my instinct is to use a different word here.  I’ll spare you that detail.  This is where I’m harsh with her.  It’s not the extreme kind of harsh where you question whether or not I’m fit to be left alone with children.  But it’s harsh for my taste.  I’m lacking in patience, and I haven’t been kind.  I don’t like it.

This niece of mine is seven years old, and she requires ample portions of patience which I just don’t have in me.  I know it.  I stand down.  My back hurts, and I don’t have it in me.  I go inside to do something mindless.  I want to distract myself from what I am feeling.  I think about what a lovely day it has been and what an awful contribution I just made to it.  The guilt is setting in.  I want to make it right with her.  But I’m too tired to be nice.  I just know it.  She’s going to try my patience again.  There’s no doubt about it.  I don’t have it in me to practice the good things I want to.  I need a nap.

Now brace yourself for this, friend.

I take one.  Right in the midst of this feeling like I should most definitely be doing something better than napping, I take one anyway.  My step-dad is outside.  I know the kids are fine.  So I nap.  For the good of humanity, I let myself nap.

I awake soon after much more refreshed, and I instantly remember the dire state of the seven-year-old I abandoned in my fit of distress.  I have to find her.  I have to fix it.  I go outside.  She isn’t there.  The car is gone, and I’m told that they left with their dad, she and her sister.  I look around, and right there I pray in my heart.  I recognize in the presence of Jesus that I wasn’t a reflection of His heart toward her, and I ask Him to forgive me.

That’s precisely when she pops out into my visage onto the street, an answer to my prayer.  She sees me, and her eyes light up the entire block.  She screams gleefully my name, and runs toward me full with joy.  My spirit whispers a grateful thank you as I lift her into my arms.  Her sister is gone, but she has stayed behind to play with her friends just down the road from us.

We decide to take a nice walk, just the two of us.  There are no distractions.  No interruptions.  We have a nice chat about all sorts of fun things I don’t quite remember now.  She wants to spit out her gum.  I tell her to wait until we pass a trash can.  She does.  It’s pure joy, this walk with my formerly unruly niece.  There are teachable moments, and I have it in me to teach when they come.  There’s no hurry.  The first trash can we encounter is in front of the corner store, and she doesn’t even press me to go inside.  She’s a dream.  Or maybe, I am.  We continue to enjoy our walking chat.

Sometimes I just need a nap, and that’s okay.

Today, if you’re feeling like you just don’t have it in you, can I charge you in love to just take a nap?  Or fill in the blank, whatever makes you happy.  Can I take that license, and just commission you to rest?  Feed your soul.  Your people will thank you, even if they don’t.

Trust me.  You’re better for others when you take care of you.  Sometimes we just need to be inspired.

I hope today, you’re feeling inspired.

Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Would You Dream A Little Dream With Me?

You stand at the threshold of your life in action.  It’s already in motion.

We’ve been talking about the invitations, and we’ve identified some factors that prevent us from showing up for them.  These factors in all their forms are shaped by fear in some way.  I hope we’ve discovered by now that fear is powerless over something far better.  That something is love.

Now I’d like to talk about that.  The love.  If you’ll indulge me, I’d love nothing more than to take you by the hand and escort you into something grand.  It’s a vision for hope in your very own story.  Your story gets to come as it is.  It starts today.  And you get to be in it.

I dream of the life I’d write for myself if I had my way about it.  If no questions asked, I could truly be who I please and live how I wish.  I imagine, if money and time were not an issue, the kind of dream I’d get to craft.

Honestly, if I give myself to this dream, it’s all about the people that get to be in it.  It has little to do with how I support them or myself or even the dream.  It’s about the joy.  What do you dream about, if you dare?

I’m guessing you don’t dream about the long hours of education in mastering a craft or all the restless nights in the dark spent cultivating the relationships that reflect your deepest bonds.  You think of the finish.  The fruit of your labor.  You think of the fun.  I know I do.

So why on earth do we end up leaving the fun- the joy- out of our good work?  What happens to our dream, the reason we do all the work?  We get stuck.  Don’t we?

I wrestle through all the labor thinking that one day I’ll arrive at the fruit, and it will finally be fun.  Do you do that?  But what if the fun is meant to be harvested while we’re still on the way?  If we don’t stop to welcome it en route, could we miss it altogether?

Do these kinds of questions change anything?  Do they change me?

I’m guessing they might.

What might it look like for you to seek that kind of fruit in your very own life?  What if you did it today?

In my world, today was baby day.  It was my brother’s first.  This happens to be my routine writing day as well.  I had a piece in mind I’d planned to construct.  But I lacked the time or the will to put it together.

Instead, I wrote this.  That seemed better.  I’ll save my deeper dive for next week.  It isn’t going anywhere.  And my heart will be in it.  Meanwhile, I’m okay with this.  Just this.

Today, I was present where I truly belonged.  Isn’t that what counts?  Isn’t that the dream?  When I let love lead my way, my heart gets to follow in its steps.  Life in action greets me today.  Every day, I get to choose if I will return that greeting.  So do you.

I hope you’ll choose the path that makes you feel like life’s a little more worth living.  I think the whole world will be a better place, because your fuller joy will spill into it.  You get to participate in your very own God-given life.  It’s a blessing.  And it’s already happening.  You’re already invited.  There’s not a better script in the world for you to perform than the one that’s been written for YOU.

Love comes to life when you do, my friend.  Come to life.  In your very own God-given corner of the world.  It’s a place that can’t wait to see what kind of place it might be with you really in it.  As you are, and where you are.  Today.

What do you see in that kind of world?  Why don’t you show us?

…”for (we) will take nothing with (us) when (we) die, (our) splendor will not descend with (us).”  Psalm 49:17 NIV {personalized for effect}

We can’t wait to see it with you!