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5 Reasons Why Building is Therapeutic for Me

I enjoy building things.  There is something in the methodical, systematic structure of it all.  Watching whatever I am working on go from utter chaos to a beautiful finished product is very rewarding.  I have to say that it becomes somewhat philosophical; while I am putting the pieces together, I find myself reflecting on how what I am doing parallels with life.  Here are five of my usual reflections:

  1. Without a solid foundation, the end result will not be pretty. Ever put together a piece of furniture only to find out several steps down that you put a piece in wrong?  To undo all of that and start over is very frustrating, but to leave it that way?  Equally as frustrating.  Same with life.  If the internal foundation is not solid, it can lead to making unwise decisions resulting in chaos and despair.  The only way to fix some of life’s issues is to dig deep and repair a faulty belief system.
  2. Hard work is not always fun, but it is rewarding. Building something is like going to the gym. At first thought, no I don’t want to do it.  If I can just drag myself to the materials though and get started, I find myself relaxing as I get into the “zone.”  There are things that are good for us that we really don’t want to do, but find they can be just what we needed when we chuck the emotion and put our foot down when it comes to our internal child.  The benefits outweigh the cost…eventually.
  3. The journey can be lonely. I had a great helper at the beginning of this most recent project.  She was excited and very helpful.  By the third day though, her interest began to wane.  She watched me from afar rather than being right there with me.  Can you relate?  You are excited about something in life; you have a few people around you cheering you on, even helping you out and then as the days and weeks pass by you find yourself by yourself…continuing on your journey.  Certain seasons in life will require you to keep rowing when everyone else has jumped ship…just keep rowing.
  4. Life can hurt, even when you think you are finally getting things together. Ever hit your finger with a hammer while trying to nail something?  No matter how much you think you have everything lined up just right…there is always that one slip or miscalculation that causes you to wake up and reconfigure a few things.
  5. The end result is worth the sweat, tears and pain. There is nothing like finishing a project and stepping back to view the beauty of all of your hard work.  There is something tangible that can account for all of the hours you put into it.  I think when we are in the process sweating, crying and aching we can forget why it is we are even putting ourselves through it!  I recently completed a semester of school and a few weeks in I was complaining that I had forgotten my “why” already.  It’s easy to do.  However, when you see the finished (fill in the blank)…you can step back and know that it was worth it.
Freedom · Life · Purpose

Time

shutterstock_137550632Time, once bound only to the confines of my mind
Now steeped in reality
I falter, choked on the sudden realization
Heartbroken at times past
Healing brings a sudden shift of things
What mattered once just doesn’t anymore
Lamenting what could have been if I had only been whole
Slightly petrified knowing that those years belong to me no more
Time, we are each given a certain measure of it
Not promised tomorrow yet generally in ignorance we sit
Oh for the enlightenment that is not bound to a screen
Or any material thing
That fear would not be the reason we stay
Brave enough to let true love have its way
Strong enough to stop and breathe
There is a grandeur in the slow and steady
Where striving outwardly ceases
Resolved to just be
Time, powerful enough to change viewpoints
Raised eyebrows and certain questions
No need to make rash decisions
Insurmountable means nothing in its shade
For in a moment your perception can change
It doesn’t alter course or go in reverse

One day you awaken and realize what it’s worth

Teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

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Hope and Strength

shutterstock_179168111She is said to be appearing on the doorstep of my life April 10, 2016 when she has already made her presence known within. Touching my heart with every movement of the dance that she is performing for her audience of One. She is the blessing, the grace that has come in the midst of choices made that were not grace-full.

I had no grace for myself when the news was revealed to me. I knew the damage that I had done, not just to myself but to those whom I dearly loved. Disappointment surrounded me in their faces as one by one they flashed across the slideshow of my mind. I had no idea how faulty the foundation was that I was standing on.

It was a statement my counselor made to me that weighed heavily on my mind. If I felt like people would be surprised by my current circumstance then I had probably not done a good job of revealing myself to them. The purpose of close relationships being that you could be honest and transparent about your weaknesses, your struggles. The accountability and trust being the safeguard to keep from going over the deep end. He was right. I had isolated myself and kept hidden the weaknesses that I didn’t want seen, or if I were completely honest, the ones I did not want to give up.

Passive. Doubtful. Faithless. Rebellious. Idolatrous. Desiring my own way. Super spiritual in theory but with a very real void in practical application. There is a verse in scripture that talks about how those who lose their lives will find them, but I did not truly want to lose my life. I wanted to cling to things that were not healthy for me. So much so that I sacrificed much on that hill – a hill that was truly just a facade.

In the aftermath I was left with total and complete despair. I still had a huge misunderstanding of God’s love for me. I spent months battling depression, shame and guilt. I questioned how God could even use me now. He had spoken so many sweet promises to me in the months prior, I questioned if they were true anymore. There had been so many peak experiences how could I have sunk so low? Once I had the courage to share, I found a support system that truly surprised me. Where I thought to receive what I felt was owed to me I found encouragement, unity and solidarity in walking forward. When I felt like God could not meet me here in this place, I was presented with Psalm 139 which says that even if I make my bed in hell He is there with me. I was not the sin that I had committed, but I was a person who had sinned. For the first time I saw the very real distinction between the two.

Philip Yancey wrote in The Jesus I Never Knew that “… [Jesus] brings to the surface repressed sin, yet forgives any freely acknowledged sin.” As the true condition of my heart was revealed, I found I could see more clearly.

There is no way to make it pretty. The reality was that I knew in my heart I was missing the mark but I decided to set my security on what I knew rather than to hold out in faith on what God had promised. I had a rocky foundation, a house built on sand, and when the storm came my house blew down. I do not say that flippantly but with the retrospect that only pain lived through can bring. Within this revelation came amazing blessings. My rocky foundation had been exposed in a way that could not be swept under a rug or ignored. This most gracious act I cannot fully express in words as I am living out this awesome growth and change in my heart day by day. I serve a God who is far more concerned with my soul than He is with my reputation. And sometimes a reputation tainted which reveals the nature of a soul can bring true and lasting salvation. I do not say this to mean that I doubted my salvation, but that there were areas of my life that I refused to give up control.

I debated on how, when and where to share or even if I really needed to. This post is for those who like me truly have a heart for God, who desire to break through to the other side. When Jesus addressed the adulteress woman in the bible, He told her to go and sin no more. This grace comes with a cost. Moving forward means making real and lasting changes to make sure that happens. Growing in our identity in Him and making sure that our future choices align with that identity. The road ahead is not promised to be easy, and every choice brings with it a consequence. We serve a God who corrects our folly with wisdom and helps us to navigate the consequences of our choices with grace. He alone is our hope, our peace and our strength.

“You delight in showing mercy…and mercy triumphs over judgment…”

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Like a child…

IMG_3018I have a dream. A dream that I know is within reach but still scares the living daylights out of me. I have a prayer – for God to use me. Not only to use me but to have the time in my schedule for Him to use me. And now I have unlimited time on my hands due to a lay-off at the small boutique law firm I worked for. I wasn’t surprised when I received news of the lay-off as God had prepared me weeks before that a change was coming, but here, almost 2 ½ months later I struggle seriously with self-doubt, worry and fear of what the heck I am doing.

It is easy to have all of the right words to say and to rely on the scriptures you learn until it is time to put them to the test and lean on them in real life situations. The dream that I have is to not return to the corporate work world. I am putting it out there. I do not know how I am going to accomplish this. What I do know is that God heard my prayer and God gave me an opportunity. I would have never left the comfort of my job and steady paycheck on my own. I would not have believed in myself enough to know that I had a choice to make my life exactly what I wanted it to be, or I could continue to live it as others have told me it should be.

This week I have been out-of-town for a small trip to celebrate my daughter’s 14th birthday and I have subconsciously stressed and fretted every day on what to do when I get back home. How can I “make” something happen? How will I cover all of my bills? Trying to put the pieces together and coming up short on my own. I would put the computer away just as unsettled as I was when I pulled it out. God has been so gracious to me in this time to remind me that He is with me. I wonder at times if He is sitting and sighing at me while I continue to flagellate myself for not having 100% of the answers 100% of the time. I am a solid work in progress but He is faithful to finish the good work that He started in me.

I received some news today while I was at the beach that something I had been expecting was not going to come through. Weeks of pent-up fear came pouring out of me in waves of tears. My daughter walked up to me before I could gain composure and she sat with me a few minutes encouraging me not to give up. That if God had brought me to this place and time then He would provide for me. That she was sure He wouldn’t want me to give up either.

Later that evening as the sun set over the water, I watched a young girl kicking and splashing the shallow water just off the edge of the beach.  I was reminded that little children do not fret and worry about how they are going to get what they need for the next day. They wake up in full expectation that whatever they need will be provided for them. How I have lost that blind faith in the midst of the cares of adulthood and how much I know right now I need to get back to just that. Every day is an opportunity for me to allow God to show up in my life and be God. My job is to get about doing exactly what it is that I prayed for – being available.

Poetry

To Know And Be Known

Relationships have an ebb and a flow.  There is constant room for growth, whether it be a relationship with your Creator or with other faulty creatures.  This was inspired in that my relationship with my Creator is growing as I fully allow myself to know, and be known.

IMG_2017My eyes filled with tears
As you reached for me, I yanked away
I could not see into your heart
I just saw my pain
Never one to stay true to myself
This lesson has cut deep
Not fully aware how on the surface I was
Until the surface of things just wasn’t enough
Wrapped in the clothing of my own perception
I finally broke
The chasm that had always been deep within
Filled with the cries of what could have been
I finally let myself in
Like a child learning for the first time
I saw myself outside of the lies
Outside of what I had been told whether by people of old
Or by myself
Realizing succinctly I had put myself on the shelf
Then walked away
Deciding then and there to let fear have its way
No one would stay
That is what I told myself
Self-fulfilled prophecy shrouded in cries for help
Yet there You were
In my dreams – behind closed eyes
You were everything
Reminding me not to forget
Forearm to forearm, forever found in Your grip
Presenting me, graciously
Finding me beautiful
Magnifying in the inner chambers of my heart
That You would forever be faithful
Praying for the strength to believe
I found You again as You spoke peace
To my beating heart
Deciding then I always want to be where You are
No longer pushing away
This time standing face to face
Eye to eye, no more shame – no lies
I’m not fooled thinking it will be easy
Removing my cover
Inviting you in to see the ugly
Naked and unashamed
Timid but no longer afraid

– Jamie

Faith · Freedom · Life · Purpose

Programs, Perceptions and Expanding My Capacity for Love

10678654_736117529757256_1131955418681575132_nThere are seasons in life when God rapidly advances our growth so much so that if we blink an eye we will miss something. This is where I currently am. It all started with an intensive weekend personal mastery session where I learned to recognize “sunglasses” I was wearing–that is sub-conscious belief systems that I was carrying around within, which were basically making my decisions for me. Hence the never – ending cycle of “why does this always happen to me” scenarios.   Now I know.   Not one to stop at just head knowledge, I moved on to the next level intensive where we were trained to break those sub-conscious belief systems and embrace new ones – ones that served us better and actually would catapult us into the futures we desired.

Having come home from this intensive, I have been able to recognize when my “programs” are running. That level of thinking that I have gathered over the years that usually runs something like victim thinking, the blame game or just flat out apathy. There is a verse in the bible that says to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) Although I have known this verse for a very long time, because of my twisted root way of thinking – I was powerless to actually put this into play. I captured the thoughts – but I was not in a position to toss them out and replace them with truth. The thing about replacing a lie with the truth is that you have to believe the truth. My old way of thinking had yet to line up with God’s truth over me. There had been something keeping me from making it my own.

I had a wrong perception of what my role was in my life. I felt like life happened to me, that I did not have a choice in a lot of instances.  I was steeped in a very reactionary way of thinking. Make it day to day; just get to payday – one chaotic moment to another. It never occurred to me that with every choice I made, I was creating the life I was experiencing. Light bulb. We have choice. How did I miss this? Even God, the almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth respects the fact that He gave me a choice and free will and yet I am walking around as if I have no say in what goes on in my day to day. What? We are 100%, totally responsible for the lives that we have – whatever that life may be. If I want a different life, time to make difference choices. And bam! A new perspective is born.

So meet the new Jamie – the personally responsible Jamie; the confident and committed Jamie; the open and abundant Jamie; the Jamie that is no longer powerless, but powerful.   No doubt – these are serious growing pains. It is hard to grow up! And I don’t want to play adult sometimes. I do want my heart’s desires though – I do want my hopes and dreams. I do want to create a legacy. So grow up I will. What does this look like you might be wondering? It requires allowing myself to fully realize and admit what is going on within me; the good, the bad, and the ugly – and highlighting that rather than stuffing it down and pretending it isn’t there.   Once highlighted, I can then choose to throw out that old way of thinking and replace it with what I know to be true and what I know would serve me and serve others – to create win/win situations. As the saying goes – we benefit no one by playing small. And so I choose to jump in to this game of life and play big!

And I would be remiss to leave out just how this all is expanding my capacity for love. Prior to putting myself through this work, these intensives, I had a very unhealthy view of love – and I was very unkind to myself regarding love. Learning how to expand my capacity to love myself and love others has significantly changed my life. We make decisions from one of two places – decisions based out of fear or decisions based out of love. I have made most of my decisions up to this point of my life out of fear – and almost every single time, I knocked myself out of the running and accepted status quo. Learning to make decisions based from a place a love and abundance has been the most exhilarating and liberating experience. And the best part is that this is just the beginning.

Stay tuned…big things are coming.

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The Fault In My Stars

IMG_1284I sat watching this movie with my daughter one night. I cried, I laughed, and then I cried some more – such a poignant movie about fear, love and loss.

I watched this budding romance between Augustus and Hazel and could not help but to be envious of the way Augustus did not tell Hazel she was beautiful because of how she looked, or what she was wearing. Augustus saw Hazel, really saw into her being – and then called her beautiful. And the resounding thought in my mind was that I wanted that. I want to be esteemed beautiful in someone’s eyes for what is on the inside of me – the full me. In reality, this is the cry of everyone’s heart.

I could not help but to equate the struggle of cancer in their lives with the struggle of unbelief in my own. Although one is a sickness of the body and the other a sickness of the heart – they are both very deadly.

Even in the face of my unbelief, Jesus had been wooing me. In spite of me, He laid out the red carpet, sent me roses and set up candlelight dinners – only to have me turn on my heels and run in the other direction. Time after time He would sing over me – “If you only knew how much I loved you” to which I would respond with “Why?!” If you know any of my story, you understand my struggle. One particular day though I finally got it. I had a particularly interesting weekend and on the way to church a few things transpired that hurt my feelings and I just turned my face towards heaven with my whole heart and told Him that He was the only one that never hurt me – to which He responded “And I never will.”

I wish I could say that my relationship with Jesus has taken away all of my fears and allowed me to walk out this life with confidence. I would be lying. If anything, the more that He showers me with love, the more that I see what doesn’t belong, what needs to be shaken – what has to go. Currently – that would be unbelief. Which is basically a lack of trust.  Over and over again He tells me to trust Him and I think I do, but my actions say that I don’t.  In this particular instance, my unbelief is not that I will never meet someone who I want to marry – it is that I won’t allow myself to. It is that I will let my fears, past failures and current circumstances continue to give me enough reasons and excuses to hide behind life’s demands while watching carefully crafted romance movies that set me up for unreasonable expectations.

Although my matter is personal to me, I see this same fear taking place in the hearts of a generation crying out for connection, community and real acceptance. We seek love in all the wrong places, crying out in unbelief that we will ever receive it, all the while the greatest relationship we will ever know is just beyond our excuses, doubts and fears. The fault in our stars is not that we are dying from a physical illness, but we are dying from a spiritual one. A slow death that we unfortunately either do not become aware of until it is too late, or we are painfully aware of it and do nothing because of the fear of what we might have to give up.

Everyday we get bogged down in life’s demands and we can choose to stay there, to stay in our emotions and feelings.  Ever so often though, something within my mind’s eye shifts, something within my actual vision and it is like I can truly see.  The sky becomes bluer, the pigment of flowers deeper.  The fog lifts and I have a momentary taste of life without unbelief, life without fear of the unknown.  It is there, I know it is, just beyond my self-limiting beliefs.  I am praying for a generation that has this type of vision.  Praying for a generation that will choose belief over unbelief, that will choose a way of living not based on the status quo or on just what they have seen.  I am praying for a generation that truly knows the love of God on a personal level and is not afraid to share that love in the face of seeming insurmountable obstacles.

Jamie