The Paradigm Shift

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“Change is the essence of life.  Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.”  – Unknown

The Paradigm shift.  A change.   A change in the way of thinking.  A change in the way of living.  The shift in my spirit tells me that I am no longer living in guilt and I no longer have to pretend to be something I’m not.

Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven. – Isaiah 6:7

The walls of protection have come down.  My God-like masks of self-sufficiency, independence, and perfection have been removed.  The puppet once controlled by the strings of fear, guilt, shame, and co-dependency is now free to dangle from the strings of love, protection, and my Christ centered identity.

I started keeping a freedom journal as I am still in disbelief myself.

9.21.11 – I spent too much money at dinner last night and my checking account is suffering, but it will be fine.  – So freeing not to beat myself up over silly things like this.

9.23.11 – Last night I told an embarrassing story to my girlfriends and wasn’t afraid of the negative reactions that I got.  – How freeing not to be consumed by others’ reactions to me!

Everyday I am going to capture these thoughts to remind me where I’ve come from and where I’m going.

“If you want to embrace the reality of who God is and who God has made you to be, you first have to release the life of who you always thought you were.” – Emily Freeman – Grace for the Good Girl

It is so easy to hide behind the masks we have created for ourselves – masks of responsibility, good performance, and strength; masks of feeling indifferent and taking the “I’m fine” approach to life.  They are comfortable, familiar, and keep us feeling safe.

While the masks gives us a sense of protection, they keep us from living in freedom.

Maybe you don’t relate to the masks I once wore, but you have some of your own.  And at some point, they all have to be removed to ever walk in freedom.

Two Feet on the Ground

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“Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top.  Then you will see how low it was.” – Dag Hammarskjold

I was delighted to find out that my annual women’s retreat in Gatlinburg would fall on the weekend of my 36th birthday.  I love celebrating birthdays as it is great reminder that I have made it another year, had another year of success, and another year of blessings.

In an effort to celebrate, I wanted to do something fun and daring.  Yes, I could have ridden a go-cart to satisfy the thrill I was seeking, but that was not what I had in mind.  I decided to face my fear of heights and ride the sky lift.   The fact that a cable suspended in the sky would hold a chairlift let alone the weight of me and my friend was not comforting nor reassuring.

I did it anyway.

As I stepped into the chairlift, I immediately gripped on for dear life.  I tried not to look down, but it was hard to resist.   As I was looking down, I noticed that the earth below me was not that far away.  It was almost as if I had two feet on the ground.

I began to realize that this ride up the beautiful Smokey Mountain would be safe and I could release my grip and let the bar breathe again.

And we climbed and we climbed.  With the city far below.

It reminded me of the symbolic journey up the mountain I took a couple of weeks ago.  It was frightening and overwhelming at first, coming to terms with my life and the sacrifice I had been making.  But once I journeyed up top, the view was breathtaking and freedom was waiting for me.

Even though my feet were not touching the side of the mountain, there was a sense of safety in the midst of the danger.  It’s like our relationship with God, we may not be able to touch Him or feel His presence, but really He is there right below us – acting as our safety net.

And I am reminded, yet again, that I don’t have to complete this journey alone.

Choose Joy

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“Joy does not simply happen to us.  We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” – Henri Nouwen

With a heavy heart, I write today to give honor to a woman who inspired, challenged and changed so many.  I never met her, but I got to know her through the words on a page. The latest post I read said she was heading home to be with the Lord. 

Even though her body was failing her, she always found a way to choose joy.   I never understood why God did not heal her from this failing disease, and I guess I will never know.  But what I do know is that I will never be the same and for that I am truly grateful.

So, in honor of her beautiful and inspiring life, I say…

 

 

 

 

 

 

today and always.

On the Other Side

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“Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.” – Marilyn Ferguson

Back to back days, I heard the same message – A Ram is on the Way.  I am very familiar with the story of Abraham and the sacrifice of his son – the one he waited for many years.  So on this particular Sunday, I must have tuned the Preacher out as I am not a man, climbing up a mountain, who is going to sacrifice is only son.

I guess God needed to make Himself clear and followed up with the same message in my Monday morning devotional.  He’s clever that way!

My plan was to skim through the message; again, I’m very familiar with this story, but I did not.  I obeyed the prompting I felt and went ahead and read it again, only this time, it was portrayed in a different light.  The details were a bit different.

All Abraham saw that day was his solitary journey of pain. As he got closer to the top of the mountain, his dread must have increased. I wonder if he asked himself any questions. I would have. I would have wondered why hadn’t God intervened? Why hadn’t God stopped this testing? Couldn’t God see that Abraham was a man of faith? Why test him in this way?

His solitary journey of pain – one day to Him – a lifetime for me.  I too have asked the same questions. “Why didn’t God intervene?”  “Why didn’t he stop all of this pain?”

After reading this, pondering the information, and sharing my thoughts with family, I have come to the revelation as this:

I am a woman who is climbing up the mountain of my past, sacrificing my life, my joy, my inheritance by living in fear, condemnation, guilt, and shame.

For every step Abraham took, a ram on the other side of the mountain took a step.

From what I have been told and must believe is that my ram, my healing, is on the other side of the mountain.  When I am ready to lay down what was lost and what I cannot change, is the moment God steps in.

And in this moment, new life begins.

“God creates out of nothing.  Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.”  -Martin Luther King

The Same Direction

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“Living the past is a dull and lonely business; looking back strains the neck muscles, causing you to bump into people not going your way.” – Edna Ferber

I had the opportunity to watch University of Kentucky take on Western Kentucky in the opening season of college football. During half time, I was headed to meet some friends, and there he was.  That guy from my past, the one who broke my heart, and left me hanging with no answers.  The whirlwind of a romance that had an ending that totally took me by surprise.

As I walked past him, I couldn’t help but go back to that place.  That place in time where a girl stood there pleading for answers and wanting a different ending.  But then there right in that very moment, I realized that he was never going to go with me; he was never going to go in the direction of my dreams or desires.  He couldn’t for reasons of his own.

One of my greatest hurdles is letting go of the past and in this particular chapter of my life, God is leading me to do just that.  This random encounter, no coincidence I assure you, was a gentle reminder of where I have come from and most importantly, where I am going.  For that, I am truly grateful that my God cares so much.

“Blessed is the person who finds out which way God is moving, and then gets moving in the same direction.” – Unknown

Maybe your story is not about a man who broke your heart, but whatever or whomever keeps you in the past, I hope you catch a glimpse of what could be and get in the same direction of where God is taking you.

The Art of Catering

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“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.
If you have that awareness, you have good manners,
no matter what fork you use.” Emily Post

For years, my family had a catering business.  First, they simply catered events, but as the business grew, they opened up a little cafe and served lunch.   I think their love for cooking and baking and their love for serving others, blended nicely together for a dish that did more than just satisfy hunger.  As the business grew, they had to adapt and expand their menu to meet the needs of their customers.

In business, we supply what is desired or required to satisfy a customer, so wouldn’t this remain true in our relationships?  How do we remain true to ourselves, but also cater to the needs and the sensitivity of others?

  • To the friend who is still single, do we share the news of a budding relationship with a great man?
  • To the one who struggles financially, do we share our blessings that come from being financially stable and living in abundance?
  • To the one who is unemployed, do we share the news of a promotion?

This list could go on and on, but these are a few of the things I have witnessed or have experienced myself.

When do we draw the line at the information we share in our relationships and truly being ourselves?  For some, sharing comes off as boasting, even if it was intentional or not.  So, if we don’t share for the risk of boasting, do we risk losing the beauty of fellowship?

I have been on the receiving end of others’ words hurting my feelings and have learned that my words have caused others the same.  We will always be sensitive in some area of our life or engage with those that can be sensitive.  So I guess no matter how you slice it, good manners should always present themselves no matter at what table you land.

I part with a prayer I read today from a post from (In) Courage.

Jesus, we praise you for the provision to create each of us as distinct, precious, holy images of you and we ask your blessing over this sweet fellowship of sisters. That we would love each other well, encourage to the heights, listen until there are no more words, chasten only when mandated, appreciate all things unique, and most of all, thank you for the mighty work You are doing in each one of us…every single day.