Time Out

I was catching a friend up on how I’ve been spending my time recently since stepping out of full time ministry. Besides traveling the world, relaxing at exotic resorts and getting daily massages on the beach, I explained that I’ve been catching up on a whole lot of lost time with God right in the quiet of my own little Nashville home.

Although I spent the best hours of my days working in a phenomenal church for the last 16 months, my relationship with God actually felt like it was on life support. I knew He was asking me to take some time in this next season to really examine what happened to cause this, do a major heart check, and get back into spiritual working condition.

Have you ever gone through a season in life where you poured everything you had into something that just wasn’t turning out the way you though it would? I think it’s safe to say most of us have. In fact, you should read this book if you’re looking for clarity and guidance in this area, or know someone who is.

Whether it’s a job or a relationship or kids or a family issue, ever so slowly your own personal walk with God slips to 3rd or 4th place and your very identity becomes like a faded photo. One day you look in the mirror and can’t even recognize your own reflection or recall who you once were.

Regrettably, in the last year and a half, more often than I care to admit, I was like a hamster in a wheel running myself ragged and never getting anywhere. Through no one’s fault but my own I was in a position that was stifling my creativity and expecting things of me that I just wasn’t designed for. All along I allowed myself to be drawn into the thought that,

this isn’t brain surgery, just keep trying harder. You have to do this. You need to love this. You have to live up to everyone’s expectations and get this right.”

At the end of the day, whenever we try to be something we’re not, we just end up cheating ourselves and the world of something very special.

There will never be another you, so recover who you are and then be the best YOU you can be. I’ve learned it doesn’t do anyone any good to try and be the best someone else you can be.

I’m so thankful for amazing friends who surround me with love and support and who are there for me no matter what. There’s always a reason for the season’s we go through and I do not in any way consider a single moment of the last 16 months to be a waste. I learned more than I ever have about people, about God, about myself, and about love. I’m a better person having come through this experience.

I hope if you can relate to any of this, you will do two things:

  •  Remember that this too shall pass and give yourself forgiveness today. Forgiveness for whatever it is you’ve been holding onto, thinking you don’t deserve to be happy because you screwed things up so badly. You don’t need to make yourself suffer for something Jesus already died to free you from. If God doesn’t expect perfection of us, who are we to set a higher expectation of ourselves than God? Let it go and move forward into the abundant life He has for you.
  • Dream. Recover what it is about you that makes you unique. Take a personality test, do an exercise. Read a book. Allow yourself the time and the freedom to get back to who you are. You were born an original. Don’t die a copy. (I don’t know who made that up but it wasn’t me)

A Praying Mother: Priceless

My mom sent me a Christmas card this year because I wasn’t able to make it home for the holidays. Inside it she wrote the prayer she prays for me every day. I was moved to tears when I read it. Telling someone you’re praying for them is one thing. Telling them what you’re praying for them is another. I hope you might take this and make it your own prayer for someone you care for.

“May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help Evie to live her life to the fullest. God promote her and cause her to excel above her expectations. Lord help her to shine in the darkest places where it is impossible to love. May You protect her at all times and lift her up when she needs You most, letting her know when she walks with You, she will always be safe.”

This simple mother’s request has no doubt released God’s love and power in my life, impacting my journey more than I will probably ever realize this side of heaven.

Reflecting back on the last year especially, I see so many instances where God was answering this prayer on behalf of my mom who tirelessly prays for all five of her kids on a continual basis.

Thanks Mom. You’re a shining example to our entire family of what it means to be a praying mom, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. I pray God blesses your socks off in 2012, above and beyond what you could ever dream, imagine, or ask for.

Love,

Evie

Colassians 4:2  2Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving.

The Search for Significance

Have you ever tried so hard to do something and do it well, but nearly the entire time you felt as though you were fighting against the wind and climbing a mountain?

Have you ever watched someone work with such apparent ease at something they were seemingly born to do, going back and forth from various activities and responsibilities all the while energized and ready to do it again tomorrow with the same passion and zeal?

And it left you wondering what in the world was wrong with you that you were so drained of energy and passionless toward your own tasks and responsibilities?

  • Maybe you’ve been running a business but you you feel lifeless and unhappy and utterly stuck because you’ve put everything into something that isn’t flourishing like you expected and you think it’s too late to start dreaming again.
  • Maybe you’ve been busting your butt, determined to be the best stay at home mom ever but at night you cry yourself to sleep and fight off feelings of resentment.
  • Maybe you go back and forth to a job you just can’t get excited about no matter how hard you try, and you feel guilty because you’re not joyful for the simple fact that you have a job, still in your heart of hearts you know something is just not right.

Maybe it’s time to get out of the tree and into the water.

Maybe you’ve been judging your worth by your ability to do something you were  never designed to do.

Cut yourself some slack. You may just be a fish out of water or a monkey in the sea.

Spanx and Skin Cream

Today is my birthday. Some people, women especially, don’t like to share their age. I’m not sure why this is. 🙂 But I can take a couple guesses.
  1. Younger is better
  2. Younger is sexier
  3. Grass is greener on the younger side
  4. Opportunities are endless
  5. “Big breaks” are more likely
  6. You assume the clock is ticking but you’re too young to hear it or care
But the older we get the more we realize what truly matters. And what truly matters the older we get, has less to do with what we have and more to do with who we are.  And that scares us. So fear and doubt begin to creep in with each passing birthday throwing questions around like:
  • What have I really done with my life?
  • Who am I anyway?
  • Does what I do even matter?
  • Do I even matter to God?
  • Is God pleased with me?
  • Is there really a God, who loves me?

Now don’t get me wrong. I have my share of pity parties. The wrinkles! Under eye circles! Slowed metabolism! The struggle to hold onto muscle and not eat the same things! Not to mention the dent in my budget due to the need for spanx and skin creams, hair color and chiropractors, fancy juicers and organic produce, foot massages, back rubs, etc, etc.

 

BUT! There is hope! What I do embrace and love about the aging process is this:
  • The culmination of life experiences that bring wisdom and fruit
  • The mistakes I begin to forgive myself for
  • The grudges I release because I recognize their insignificance
  • The new lens I view others from that focuses more on what makes us the same than what makes us different
  • The lens that recognizes no one is perfect, we all have baggage, we all have scars and we all need healing
  • A greater capacity to love because of a greater understanding of Christ’s love for me.
Today I am 33 years old. I am thankful for every moment of peace and every moment of despair; every joy-filled laugh and every hopeless tear; every friend who has ever loved me and every friend who has ever hurt me; every relationship broken, every relationship restored; every difficult job, every stupid mistake; every child who has given me a glimpse into pure innocence; every high of accomplishment, every low of failure; every fear, every doubt; every flaw, every weakness; every strength, every blessing. Everything.
 
The God of the universe knows you and knew where you would be right in this very moment; even before the foundation of the earth was laid. He made you. He wired you; nothing you do or have done surprises Him or catches Him off guard. He is in awe of you, you are His priceless work of art. Every day is another opportunity to step inside His story for you and with you.

“And now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine according to His power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

Shhhhhh….

“The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. So it’s good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25

I think it’s funny that God showed me this verse today because the way I live sometimes, you would think the second half of this verse actually reads, “So it’s good to run around like a chicken with your head cut off.”

When I’m waiting on God, the images that come to mind aren’t necessarily “quiet.” I more or less picture:

  • Arms crossed, toes tapping as I nervously look up and down and all around wondering if I’ve been forgotten.
  • Clawing around in a forest at nightfall panting, searching desperately for something or someone or a way out, sure if I just tried harder I wouldn’t be waiting so long.
  • Sweating in desperation and anxiety while a clock is ticking in the background as I wait…and wait…and wait…

What struck me about this verse and gave me incredible peace about what God desires for me is that it’s okay to take a breath. Sometimes I feel guilty that I’m somehow not doing enough to pursue God and stay close to Him. But God teaches that I can expect to revel in His goodness even while I’m waiting, simply because I search for and depend on Him.

God gives us permission to remain calm in difficult circumstances. He never gives us a list of things to do, He gives us a way to be: Assured of His presence, standing in His grace, not dependent on circumstances, or a job, or a relationship, or a paycheck to satisfy us, but rather on Him alone. Now that’s something to get loud about!

I often hear people say, “God helps those who help themselves.” But that’s way too broad a statement for me to embrace. It insinuates that you have to, or God won’t.

I think God allows us to be in helpless positions so He can teach us how to wait on Him. After all, His power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)  I think helpless and hopeless are prime “God-helping” times. I think helpless is helpful. And I can wait on Him, in my helplessness, quietly.

To A Chick, By A Chick

Taking a step in someone else’s healing process will always result in a step towards your own.

When I was in second grade my teacher called my mom and said, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a student give me the cold shoulder. What’s up with your daughter?”

When I was in high school it was brought to my attention by friends that every time they talked to me I was constantly looking around, distracted, and seemingly only half listening, half caring.

Growing up I was forced to work at my dad’s restaurant from a young age. He fired me every other week for being rude and inconsiderate to the customers.

In college, girls told me that before they got to know me they thought I was totally stuck up and full of myself.

When the guy who would become my first serious boyfriend was first “inquiring” about me, he was told, “Don’t even try, she’s got an attitude, her guard is up, she’ll tear you to shreds.”

After hearing this sort of thing enough, I decided to get to the root of the issue.  I no longer wanted to be known as the girl with the attitude who didn’t need anyone or care about anyone. Because the truth was, that wasn’t true. 

The process took years, but once God started softening my heart towards people, and women in particular, I started making some intentional changes that would eventually become a part of my own healing process.

1)  Seek to make people feel heard and seen. At the end of the day, we all want to be respected and understood. Hold eye contact. Listen intently. Pray the name of Jesus in your mind to keep him involved in every conversation.

2)  Intentionally reach out to women. Take an interest in who they are beneath the surface.

When I moved to Nashville almost 10 years ago knowing no one, I realized if I wanted to make any girlfriends I was going to have to be kind, honest and real. (New concept)  A lot of us girls can seem guarded and jealous and it can mask who we truly are on the inside. I wanted to make women feel the way I never felt.  And every time I did, not only did I make some great friends, I also felt a little more whole and beautiful myself.

Most, if not all women are insecure about something. Their appearance, their history, their heart, etc. “We all need healing,” as my boss likes to say.

When we, as women, go out of our way to make another woman feel beautiful, loved and respected, the world becomes a more precious place, it really does.  Even women you think are so stinkin gorgeous and confident they can’t possibly need a conversation initiated, or a genuine compliment, I’ve seen these women time and time again break down over how much they can’t bear to look at themselves in the mirror or how they wish they had closer female friendships.

I would just like to say to any chick reading this.

“You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important.”  🙂

Getting Away

Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation.  To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgment.  Go some distance away, because work will be in perspective and a lack of harmony is more readily seen.   – Leonardo DaVinci

I think we all know intuitively that rest is good. 

It Replenishes

It Revitalizes

It Restores and Redeems places inside us we’ve let get choked by the weeds of life circumstances, mistakes, or just plain stupidity.

And if we think about it we can all agree that distance, removing ourselves from a situation for a period of time, is definitely wise.

It brings Perspective

It Shines a Light

It Breathes Life

It Calms a Weary Soul where once anxiety ruled and near-sightedness stole our big picture view.

We may know these things.  It may sound nice to hear because it justifies and validates our longing for a time-out.  

But knowing it and doing it are two very different things.

Delaying distance and refusing rest can be costly and dangerous.

Every time I’ve ignored my need to to retreat and replenish, I’ve suffered.

These days, as I try to navigate my way through some heavy transitions and spiritual battles, I find I’m constantly on the defense in my mind, just trying to shield myself from negative thoughts, looming deadlines, a haunting past, and a shaky future.

Because Jesus is my prime go-to person when I’m lost and losing it, (and a ticket to the beach doesn’t look too promising), I’m taking His lead and studying what He did.  Lord knows what I’m dealing with is nothing compared to the trials he endured, but I know He cares deeply about every tear that falls from my eyes and every fear and doubt that clouds my judgement.

A very wise and godly mentor is helping me see the pattern Jesus practiced, time and time again.  What I’m trying to imitate is this process:

Retreat.  Meet.  And Kneel.

This is the distance and rest I need right now.  To quiet the world in all its noise and clutter and just be with the Father.  Daily.  Hourly. Whatever it takes.

It can seem awkward at first.  To be still and quiet.  Especially to kneel.  But sometimes we get too accustomed to seeing God as an arm around our shoulder.  He is, but we also need to physically submit to His holiness and rightful place as King and Lord of our lives. Something deeper happens when we physically kneel before Him, and stay there.

I hope you’ll make time to retreat, meet and kneel as well.  I hope it becomes a habit we cultivate as we seek after Him; not what He can give us,  just Him.