Believe

This will be quick, because it’s been late and I’ve been working for a LONG time today. I had some brainstorming happen out of the blue, and I had to put the work into it right then! So, I’ve made some {small} changes to my site, pulled {what felt like a bunch of} my hair out over things I had to figure out, and will relax for a bit now {until I fall asleep in about 90 seconds} knowing I’ve marked a few things off my to do list.

In this new journey of small biz ownership, I’m quickly realizing a few things:

– we all knowledge/skills/wisdom that are unique to us, and we can offer
– that includes me. I know I can help others launch or grow, based on the years of experience and passion I have. It’s true!

I’ve been thrilled this week to receive some encouragement and advice from a fellow business owner, hear about the personal motivations and success of another, and offer some help of my own.

I believe you have some things no one else has, or no one has your spin or experiences in. Don’t ever forget that! I’m reminding myself of the same.

 

Hello There….

My last post here was on the 9th year mark of Austin missing. We’ve now passed 10 years. 10 years. It’s unimaginable, yet here we are.

And here I haven’t been. Haven’t been writing, haven’t been doing much it seems besides surviving day to day.

But I’ve updated all the fun technical website type things I had to, I’ve renewed my domain, and I’m writing again. No promises on how often or how insightful, or how long the next break will be. I realize that making grandiose plans often don’t work. So for today, I’m saying hello and I’ve taken the needed steps to have this space back.

Hello.

And I’ve done a little bit more, with some plans very fresh and wobbly and very uncertain, about how to make this more effective. Someone I know who first walked me through setting up this space has some big things going on herself, and I loved these words she shared today. Here’s a snippet from Julie:

“I can sit here and worry about so many things and they all just don’t matter when I line up my mission and vision with what the world needs. When I stop the bustle and just focus on the one thing that I am called to do. Because if I don’t, my life may be over in a blink and I will have missed my chance.”

I’d already planned to hand over my credit card to her once again to learn some things, but that made me get moving even quicker. More to come. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m excited again about the possibilities. And for today, that’s good enough.

xo

 

More than Gold

I was asked to join a planning meeting about the women’s conference that our church was going to put on this Spring, and because the timing was SO tight (yes, we’re the crazies who planned a full day conference in about 10 weeks), I just thought of it as another thing adding things to my to-do list. But the topic was announced, and my head was spinning with ideas and takeaways that I wanted the women who gathered to believe. That I wanted to believe.

In the end, it was a day of women of incredible talent and wisdom coming together to share and it was special. For me, the best part was that I’d gotten the courage to ask for a spot in the day to talk from my heart, and I did. I wanted to share it with you too, and on this Good Friday because it’s why Christ died for us. Because, we are worth that much. We started with reading from Psalms 139, because so much about believing our worth is found there.

shirt design 1Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

 

When we believe this, we know that we’re worth more than gold. Because a God who knows us so well, who formed us and planned our days, who guides us with His hand wherever we are, would only do all that if our worth is beyond our understanding. Why else would He care so much?

So to believe those words in Psalms means that we know we are worth more than gold. And most of us do believe those words, right? I’m going to be honest and vulnerable with you, and the first part of that is saying- I believe it in my head, I do. But when it comes to my heart, I question it too often. And maybe you do too. But I tell others how valuable they are, and mean it. So I’m going to hold a magnifying glass up to my own life and a few people I love, because maybe you’ll see some similarities, and maybe it can help you.

My friend who is just 28, mom to a cutie pie 5 year old, newly engaged, in training to be a retail manager. Diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer last year, put into a trial for a new drug since traditional treatments were having no impact, and had new scans this week to confirm the belief that her tumors continue to grow. Does God not value her? Of course he does, and though I struggle with the right words through this for her, I do know that she is precious to Him.

The sweet woman I know who was cooking her son’s 23rd birthday dinner, waiting on him to arrive home from work 15 years ago, who still has no answers on his devastating disappearance. Who is raising her severely autistic grandson in place of her daighter. Who can’t speak about her missing son without being overcome with emotion and believes it means she is weak. I’ve seen her incredible strength and the way she quietly comforts others in similar situations. I know God uses her and values her, even in the midst of her pain.

The itty bitty 16 week old, cute as can be, smiling at everyone she meets, and learning to roll over. Whose biological grandmother overdosed and died, whose biological uncle died as a child of complications from drug related birth defects, whose mom hasn’t yet changed the cycle of brokenness, but is trying. I know God has a plan for her, and even for her mom, who I know he loves.

 

You wouldn’t disagree with me on the fact that they are worth so much, even in their pain and their brokenness. We know that God loves them, that He created them with a purpose, and that He will use them for His glory.I truly believe that.

But me? Worth more than Gold? I’m not as sure if I’m honest. I’m a mess. Most people only see a fraction of the mess, because like most of you, I put a cleaned up version of myself out there. I love God, truly and wholeheartedly. I serve because of that love. But I am broken. I suffer from anxiety that comes out in odd ways, including obsessive-compulsive behaviors that are strange. I’ve battled eating issues for much of my life, and struggle more than I ever admit with the image in the mirror. I fell in love with a guy that was a mess too, and has a chronic illness that impacts every area of our life, and man does it make him question his worth. Then, after having our first baby boy and settling into life somewhat, managing it all okay it seemed, one of our biggest life changing moments happened. My brother went missing. We’ve now spent almost 8 years without answers on where he is, 8 years of searching and praying for just confirmation of his death. 8 years of telling people, and meaning it, that God knows where he is, and for now that has to be enough. And you’d think I’d be an emotional mess sometimes. But I’m not, because I just don’t deal with it. I talk about it when necessary, participate in events and interviews when it might help. But avoid it as much as possible. We have two boys that keep me so busy that it’s easy to avoid. So I keep plugging along, working full time, volunteering here, sharing our story some, and I keep waiting. Waiting for some resolution on the circumstances in our lives. Because THEN I’ll be able to really share how God worked through it all, how he brought us out on the other side. That’s the moment where I can say that God was doing a big work in our lives. Because until then, I believe it, I know it, but sometimes my heart questions if we’ve been forgotten. I wonder if we did more or prayed more or believed more if just one of these huge things in our lives would have some resolution.

And then, instead of bringing an ending to any part of our story, 3 months ago He brought another middle to struggle through in the form on that tiny baby I mentioned before. For 9 weeks, she’s been with us more than she’s been with her mom, and we don’t know the long term plan. But if I’m going to look her in her eyes as she grows, and tell her how worthy she is, how loved by God she is, despite the circumstances of her life, even when the path isn’t clear, then I have to fully believe it myself about myself.

What God continues to teach me, especially now with Sophia in our lives, is that He’s often working through us in situations we’d never choose to be in, because He values us that much. He believes that we are so worthy, that we can be used. I can speak love and hope into otherwise dark places. Not just because I’ve been there, but because I am there.

Not bringing me out of those places isn’t a sign of being forgotten. He’s there with me. It’s not a sign of not mattering enough to spend a miracle on. It’s just that the miracle probably isn’t in the happy ending. And I’m listening and learning and opening up to sharing more of His light in that darkness. Because I do believe I’m worthy of being used by Him in big ways.

So there are 4 stories, three of people I love, who intertwine with my own. Full of mess, and pain and darkness. And full of being loved by the God who made us. And if He is loving us, and caring for us, then certainly you can also believe- not just in your head, but in your heart, that you too are worthy.

 

And here’s the ENTIRE POINT of all this to me. That when we believe that we’re worth more than Gold, that we act like it. That we serve and give, and use the fires that have shaped us to bring light into the darkness for others. That’s what it’s all about.

 

Jumping Off

I almost always feel like I’m on a spinning carousel, that’s going too fast and making me a bit ill, with it’s fancy horses, bright lights, and tinny music. Every now and then I jump off, but it’s such a short time of being off, that the spinning never feels like it stopped. You know what it’s like, when you were a kid and would roller skate around a rink for hours and afterwards you still felt like walking was foreign, or when you step off a boat and still feel the waves. So I step off and before the spinning feeling stops, it’s time to get back on.

And here’s the thing, I want back on. Those lights! That music! It’s so much fun! Before it makes me dizzy and sick again.

A few weeks ago the spinning was too much, and I decided to make one small change for a week. I was going to stay off Facebook.

As I write this, it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been on Facebook.

The spinning from my interactions on Facebook had been too much and I’d gotten lost in waves of dizziness. Caring too much about what others thought, about what they said and how they hurt me, about if I was liked enough or good enough or whatever enough.  And I jumped off. But mostly I was hiding out, catching my breath and praying that when I got back on I’d be able to keep out of the fray. I decided it was easier, less messy and maybe necessary that I just stay away for good.

But I had these few hours just last night that reminded me of some things…. what it feels like to laugh hysterically, what it feels like to truly listen when someone is pouring out their heart, but mostly the need to create these spaces to do that. So no, Facebook isn’t perfect, but it’s a tool to connect when used right. Not a place to get likes on your photos, or find funny videos, or get your news (I mean seriously, who thinks that’s a reliable source?). It can be so much more when we use it right.

So I’m jumping back on Facebook… as soon as I post this. And I’m trying to do it differently. Spend less time on it, not let it replace true interaction, and make my own music. And I emphasize trying because I know I’ll get dizzy again and struggle with all that again…. because that’s what I do.

See you there.

Things that Matter

I get overwhelmed with this writing thing often. A few years ago, when I started, I didn’t have any real goals but to share my heart and search for Hope with you all. I got lost in trying to find my audience and caring if you showed up and read my words and wondering where this would go and learning how to make a better site and questioning if it mattered and comparing my words to others, my story to others.

I’m not getting anywhere I want to go fast enough. Or maybe at all.

And then I get overwhelmed with all the things I want to say, all the things that need to get done, the feelings of it not mattering anyway, and so I don’t. And that’s why it’s been too long since I’ve shared here. Cause my life and my thoughts and my feelings are messy.

But I’m here.

Because it does matter. Not because I’m of any significant importance- but because we all are, and because the stories of all of us matter. And I want to keep hearing yours.

Oh, and the revelation of the day for me? (And yes, this is one of those that I think God keeps revealing to me over and over and must frustrate Him sometimes.) There is no fast enough, there is no timeline. There is today, and what I can do with that. He’s got plenty of time to use me and love me, and let me do the same for others.

Today I’ll beat myself up a bit less over my time away and release the pressure valve that says I’m not getting “there” fast enough, and just hang out with you here. Because really, there is no “there”- it’s just simply “here now.”

Do you believe any of these crazy lies, like that your voice doesn’t need to be heard? It does my friend, it does.

StoriesthatMatter

 

3 Years & 167 Posts

I just realized that I recently passed the 3 year mark of writing and sharing here.

It was a crazy idea at first, one I toyed with for some time. Who would care to read what I said? Did I have enough to say to bother? Was I brave enough to share?

It turns out that some of you do read and care, I have a lot to say, and no- I’m not that brave and have to push through a lot of fears as I write. But it’s been good. Really good.

I think about shutting it down a lot, or letting it fade into oblivion. But tonight, there’s this kid, sitting beside me working on a speech that he’s to give to his class tomorrow. And he’s sharing about his Uncle. He didn’t have to choose that, and he’s fought through some emotions as he dug into the details and thought through what he wanted to say.

But he wants to tell about Austin, and said it’s okay that it’s hard.

It’s okay for things to be hard.

It’s okay to slow down and take breaks, but eventually I come back. Because it’s hard, but because it’s good. Good to be here, good to share here, good to be with you.

Over time, this has become more about our family, and as Michael’s health has worsened, it’s had a lot more focus there than I thought it would. But the intent is still the same- to share our world and our challenges, to show you where we find Hope, so that no matter what darkness you go through, you can find it too.

Not much has changed, yet quite a lot has in 3 years and 167 posts.

 

3 years & 167 posts