Freedom in Health & Wholeness – Freedom Series part 3

If you’ve landed here and haven’t read my last two posts… please stop what you’re doing and go read them now.
This is the third in a series on Freedom… and the other two lead up to it.

Freedom. It was the word I felt whispered to me as my word of the year in January  2020. 2019 had been a year for me of re arranging life, renewing thoughts, and re doing some of the ways I did things and in all of that re shaping God had begun, I started looking at ME from the inside first… the things He was doing… and for the first time in my life I started to feel “unashamed” in many areas.
One, included my health.
I had been ashamed of this girl for so long;
I didn’t know how to see past her body, the vessel that had stored all her hard things;
But God did, and in an invitation to me to just learn more about Him, He actually taught me more about “me.” And, as I began to love Him more, I began to love me more. This was a good good body. She had done hard hard things. She had risen from many occasions that seemed unlikely to get past, and all along the way, I finally realized, she had some hard things dealt, but you know what? Through all of it, she had never quit giving love…

Except to herself.

Whoa.
I started to look harder at her. Deeper.
What had made this girl store so much bad in her good good body?
What had made her stuff down?

I have said for 3 years, “I’m in a health journey”… but last year… I realized, it wasn’t just the weight I needed to lose. I needed to lose what weighed me down. I needed to go deep, inside, before I went “hard” on the outside. No amount of physical exertion was going to heal the deepest, unfit areas inside.. that was a deep work I needed to do with Jesus. First

I needed a health journey still, yes,
but I needed to approach it from the inside first;
from the aspect of Spirit , Mind and Body … in that order. NOT Body, mind then Spirit.
I had some deep work to do with the Spirit and heal some very old wounds so that I could then, align my mind with that new way of thinking and get in agreement with it, and finally, begin to sit back and watch as my body began to come along.

Enter Revelation Wellness.
Just at the time I was coming to this deep realization myself, God had my path cross this amazing Ministry who was already commited to this way of thinking and doing and being! REV WELL began to speak into my life too… “Love God, so you can love yourself, so you can love others well” … became the order of thinking they spoke so often. Fitness was important , but a sacred fitness was needed first… and I began to go on the journey with them; reading “The Revelation Wellness” book, joining challenges and groups, following them on Instagram and all the places, downloading podcasts, and whatever else I could consume. I friended many of them and for a year, watched how they lived their life in LOVE… not just to God, and to others, but to themselves. Some have become real, dear, friends and I’m so so grateful!
And quickly, it was like a switch was thrown . I suddenly got it. I understood.
This good good body needed to be loved too.
She had done some very hard work and was doing all she could to keep me healthy,
but she needed my help.. and that “help” started with Jesus helping me see I needed to  love her.
OH, friends! Don’t hear me being a “freak” about Revelation Wellness… it’s not a cult or crazy christian fad, or some weirdo ministry… LOL
but God did, and IS, using it as a tool in my life to kick this health journey into a place that honors Him, embraces me, and loves on others. And that is so soooo good.

Enter Valentines week.
I’d decided my “word of the year”. Freedom
I’d been pondering the places I felt God was pointing me to in that freedom.
Shame. Fear. Finances. Writing. Health.
And I was ready. for. it!!! Bring on the freedom God! C’mon , lets gooooo!
First, can I just say, how kind of God to begin to give me glimpse of all these freedoms in Valentines Week!  It was as if He was speaking to me LOUDLY, “see how I love you?”

“Bring it on”… I said. LOL… boy, was He about too!
I was sitting at work just before my break, when a notification popped up on my phone.
A Revelation Wellness notification that they would be going LIVE on Facebook soon.
Perfect… I could take my break and pop it up to watch.
When I signed on , it was Alisa Keeton, founder of Revelation Wellness, saying that she was going to do the drawing for the last challenge and someone was winning a prize!
I had entered a few times for this challenge and so my interest was peaked, but I thought. “Eh… thousands and thousands did this challenge. I’ll never win anything.”
But I watched anyway.
She was calling out 10 names that were going to go into a drawing for this prize and at number 7 I had this thought, and I can’t even tell you why I was so sure, but I was…
“I was going to win this prize.”
WHATTT? My name hadn’t even been called yet! Where in the world did that thought come from?
“And number 8!” Alisa said, ” Kay Gleaves! ” and she smiled at the camera.

I screamed!!!!  Co workers poked their head around the door, asking, “Are you ok?”
Yup!  I’m fine! LOL 

She finished calling the last two names and honest folks. I started crying.
I whispered to God and said, ” You’re up to something aren’t you Jesus?”
And I felt Him say,
“Freedom”

Oh man….
The next few moments were surreal as she did indeed, pull my name from the “hat”!

“KAY GLEAVES” she exclaimed excitedly, “You’re the winner! You’ve won the retreat ‘REST and RESTORE!”

This retreat was a week with Revelation Wellness instructors and minstry, geared to slowing down and diving in- resting and restoring- and I thought, “That’s amazing! This retreat will be such a way to let Jesus just enter in and finish His good work in me and I’ll have more knowledge about what it might be like to be an actual Fitness Teacher Gospel Preacher”… because legit Friends, I had been feeling the stir to say yes to that too. A school, weeks of classes, a new approach to wholeness and wellness that started with LOVE over any fear; a pouring in and taking me new places in my own “FREEDOM” that ended with a week long retreat with Alisa and the Rev Well Instructors in Phoenix Arizona. I was secretly holding the “want” in my hands, but I hadn’t let go of the fear of my yes yet. I wasn’t “free” in that place yet… it felt too scary. Too big. Too beyond me still.

SO this? THIS prize!? Man… it was gonna lead more toward the “real yes” I wanted to give eventually, and it felt like the perfect baby steps towards it. I was soooooo excited. I was sooooo humbled and in that moment I felt soooo KNOWN by my God. He KNEW I needed this! He KNEW me … HE saw the journey to sacred fitness I had been doing and the health journey I had been on; He saw the girl that stored bad things in her good body and He was making a way where I didn’t see one!
I bawled.
More co workers came running.
“I’m fine. Still fine. Go away.”
LOL

Somehow I made it through the last part of my day and I was drained. The kind that felt like a crash of adrenaline- I was overwhelmed and overcome by LOVE.
I sat in my car to go home and before I pulled away, another notification chimed.
I glanced down.
A message.
What? A voice message?
Whoa… A voice message from Alisa Keeton herself!  Wow!
“Hi Kay! It’s Alisa! I wanted to just jump on here in person and let you know there has been a bit of a mix up.”
(My heart fell. What? A mix up?)
“I’m soooo sorrrry… You didn’t win REST and RESTORE Retreat! My brain was just so tired I miss spoke.”
(I felt the tears come up. It was ok. I was gonna get a hat or something. That’s cool. I’ll be fine.)
“YOU WON INSTRUCTOR TRAINING!!!! ALLL OF IT! THE BOOKS, THE LESSONS, THE CLASSES, THE LEARNING THE RETREAT! ALL OF IT!!!!!”

I wish I could insert an emoji or something at this point that would demonstrate the level of disbelief and joy and wonder and complete undoing that this did to me in this moment, but one doesn’t exist.
I began trembling.
I played the message again , cry-sobbing out of control.
I opened my car door and puked in the parking lot.
No kidding
Goose bumps actually hurt me, I felt them so strongly.
It was crazy.

I went from thanking God for the baby steps He was giving me, to full on freaking FREEDOM like a parachuter out of a perfectly good airplane!

What was evvvvennn happppeningggg..
Did she just say INSTRUCTOR TRAINING?
I heard God laugh.
Like the parent who is soooo blessed their daughter loves the good goooood gift they just gave her and is watching her antics in JOY.

He was waiting.
He was sitting back with more than I could ever imagine or expect and He was ready to undo me with abundantly more.
Wow.
I still get those goosebumps.
I’m going to Revelation Wellness Instructor training.
I’m going to be a Fitness Teacher Gospel Preacher. Yes- one long run on title, not separated by commas like it’s two different things. Because it’s not. It’s one. It’s a bringing fitness through the lens of the Gospel and I . AM. HERE. FOR. IT!

There’s so much more to this story, but it’s too much for now, but let me say this:
How is this FREEDOM in Health?
God walked right up to my every day lunch hour and said,
“I see you, Kay.
You are KNOWN…
and this gift… it’s going to help you walk even more, toward a #sacredfitness
that will bring about the real physical health in your good good body.
We’re coming for her together.  You and I .
You’re free to love her right where she is, but Daughter, chains are dropping off!
FREEDOM is here”
**************

Update:
I’ll be starting my Revelation Wellness Instructor Training late summer early fall, and going to AZ in November, right before Thanksgiving. HOW TIMELY is that!!!? I’d love if you’d all pray with me as I journey toward this time too… in the meantime… be watching for more about my #sacredfitness journey!  I can’t wait to see what He does in this undoing and remaking

Freedom from Shame- Freedom Series part 2

I looked in the mirror and I felt it.
The shame my body told me to believe.

I looked at this girl and saw her.
Not the body at first,
but her.
Then I let my gaze move from head to toe and I  whispered,
“Hang on body; I”m coming for you too, Sis.”

See, “Sister Shame” had been lying to me for years.
Since I was a kid I  felt shame; believing that I was not wanted; insignificant; unimportant; unloved.
I believed something was wrong with meeee because of how the treatment of me, made me feel.
Later, I felt Shame keep whispering to me all those unworthy thoughts and I found the best way to silence them was to stuff them down… literally… with food.
I quickly learned to eat my feelings.
Hurt? cupcakes, donuts, candy…
Fear? bags of chips, dips, ridiculous amounts of buttered popcorn…
Unwanted? all the thannngsss…all of them. Didn’t matter what. Just eat. Just stuff. Just numb. Just get that “feel good hit” to my brain as fast as possible.

And I carried it with me into adulthood.
Adult me did it too.
Rejection? stuff it
Unseen? Unknown? Unwanted? stuff it
Insignificant? Unimportant? Unloved? stuff it
Broken? Messy? Misunderstood? stuff it
Divorcing? Broken homes? Ruined Dreams? Disease? stuffffff itttt…
“Stuff it” because the SHAME was too personal.
It spoke loudly and pointed mean fingers and rallied troops to get in agreement with “her”.
And like I said, for years, I thought she was truth.

“Stuff it”. Maybe that should be the title of a book I write someday because I sure became an expert.

But enter this last season I’ve been in … the one that began an inner healing in ways I didn’t see coming.
I looked in the mirror again.
I didn’t feel Shame any longer.
I could look at her, the girl in the mirror, with kindness; with love; with compassion- for all she had been through; all she was so so brave through; all she had witnessed; felt spoken over her and had stuffed down.
I saw how her body had stored it, and honestly, still felt it now as real psychical pain;
and while it was still a good good body, operating as designed to try to rid itself of dis-ease,

I saw…
it, “she”, was in crisis.

I spoke gently to her. “Shame has been chased off though, girl;
“She’s” gone… you’re free;
but hang on good body,
I’m coming for you and I’m bringing my Friend Jesus.”

He “despised the shame”.
He was carrying a cross. It was heavy.
But Hebrews 12 tells me,  He despised the shame…
The shame that tried to point to His friends abandoning Him;
The shame that tried to get Him to worry about His reputation;
The shame that tried to rub His goodness in the indignity of it all; the degradation of it all; the mockery of it all…
Shame didn’t win though… He despised it… and carried that cross, with His eyes on the Joy set before Him.

Friends.
WE were that Joy.
We ARE that Joy.

So, “SHAME off” us too.
Let’s walk in the FREEDOM we have because He endured that cross and despised the shame.

Do you have a “girl” to go after?
Do you see someone who stored up a lot of things in her good good body ?
Are you stilling hanging on to the lies of shame?
Maybe like me, you’ve learned to “stuff it down”.

Friend, Go after her. All of her… because there is JOY set before her too.

Go Gently …

She was audacious and impulsive. Not the reckless kind of wild you might imagine, but more the kind of just passionately seeking to live to her fullest and embrace every opportunity.
She saw margin as something that needed to be pushed, gently but insistently, as if life itself depended upon it.
She was determined and tenacious; steadfast and strong willed; purposeful and resolute,
yet kind and gentle; sensitive and generous; endearing and precious.
She was bold, adventurous and brave.
Hindrances were not struggles, but simply opportunities to press in, overcome or get creative.
She was so much in one tiny package and on this particular day, this tiny three year old of mine was pushing all my “non adventurous” mom buttons.
Yeah. Three. LOL

This girl has grown up into one amazing woman because all these character traits turned out to be wonderful strengths and leader qualities, but on this particular day, this particularly overwhelmed, stressed out Mama, thought this particularly beautiful 3 year old,
was maddening!

We had been out for an afternoon of errands and everywhere we went, Anna had to explore. She had to investigate and argue and sow her seeds of strong will. Grocery stores became endless possibilities of foods she wanted to try.
Office supply stores looked like creative art centers.
Shoe stores were wild explorations of style, demanding cowboy boots “53” times too big just because “Dey will fit me when me a big girl!”

The drive home was no better.
Her “pitch” began; not loud, not screaming, not a fit, but an earnest plea with the kind of whine that only 3 year old little girls know how to do.
You know that kind, don’t you Mama of baby girl toddlers… You know.
Answering every whine and pitch with replies of explanation, rationalization and argument, I tried to reason with a 3 year old.

That’s it. I’d had it!
I hit the brakes and pulled the van over.
Throwing it into park I looked in the rear view mirror and near tears, hollered “THAT’S IT Anna! I’ve had enough. I’ve asked you to behave all day!!” Immediately her little arms threw up in the air and looking to the ceiling,
she replied with equal passion, “ME JUST DON’T KNOW WHO HAAAAAAVE IS!!!!”
And with that, this precious being of mine, burst into tears herself…evidently, she’d “had it” too.
Stunned, I couldn’t even reply.
OH my gosh.
She didn’t’ know who “HAVE” was.
In my own frustration, I had been asking her to “BE- HAVE”, this unknown person, all day and she didn’t know how! She didn’t know that “person” named Have. She couldn’t understand how I’d expect her to be that when she had no idea who that was!

I can laugh now 21 years later. LOL But then? I wasn’t laughing. I was stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated and legit – I can remember it was during a time when so much was going on in my marriage, our life, our finances… and more.
I can hear my words all day long.
“Anna, put that notebook back. Would you just BE- HAVE.”
“Anna! NO! You can’t have that bag of grapes! BE- HAVE!”
“Anna, I know you love them, but they won’t fit you until you’re Mama’s size. Now put them back. I’ve asked you twice, now just BE HAVE!”

Here’s the lesson I can bring with me though even this many years down the road and… Mama in the trenches? Yes you … I want to share it with you now.
Isaiah 40:11.
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in his arms;
He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”

Mama. Can you let that verse hug your tender heart?
It’s going to be ok.
You’re going to get frustrated.
You’re going to be overwhelmed. You’re going to do things “wrong”. You’re going to feel like you messed up and yes, those little buggers are going to push all your buttons;
but Sis,
He will carry them, He’s going to hug them to His bosom safely when you’re feeling like running to your closet and barricading yourself in there with a cell phone, candy bar and tissue box…
and maybe even what’s more to your tender, weary heart right now is this:
He will gently lead you.
He sees you in that closet, proverbial or not, and He’s not going to leave you there.
He tends to your mother’s heart just as passionately as he tends to your babies themselves.
You.
You’re precious to Him too and He sees you.
He will lead you gently, so go gently on yourself too Mama. Go Gently.

FREEDOM

I woke up to my alarm early Saturday morning and immediately thought…
“WHAT have I done?”
I needed to get up and get going fast! I had an hour drive to my third 5K of my life.
“Oh man.. seriously. What have I done?”
My mind started to contend against the excuses:
I’m in no shape to do a 5K… even walking it will set this inflammation “game” I contend against into overdrive!
It’s Saturday… literally my only day ever to sleep in and it’s been a weeeeek.
My head is throbbbbbbing.
I have so much to do anyway; I really need a full day at home.
My husband’s going to be gone all day too; the dogs will need walks.

You see my dilemma? LOL …Bottom line is, I just didn’t want to do it.
Why?
Because it was going to be hard.
(And because my bed was comfy. LOL)
It was going to be hard because I’m in a health journey against autoimmune “dis- ease” and honest, even walking gets challenging at times. My feet swell. My joints inflame. My muscles get attacked. And, well… excuses, excuses, excuses…
The exact thing that would be hard to “walk” through, was also the exact thing my body needed to overcome the hard.
Gah… that’s just like dumb math. LOL I don’t like math either … haha!

I rolled out from under the down comforter and said, “Just get up, Kay. Just get going. You’re doing this to RID your body of these things. You’re doing this to pursue wellness. You’re doing this for “Freedom.”

Truth. I was doing it for those things. In fact, after a good talking to myself and a real heart check with my Spirit a few weeks back, I actually ended up signing up for four 5K’s through the end of the year! LOL …
because “Freedom.”
Walking these 5k’s was something I knew was difficult for me. I had done two others once before, just a year ago… and I struggled with them, not even sure I could finish. The Lord convicted me of that word “Struggle”, tho, and as I looked back at those other two 5K’s, I decided right then and there that I needed to re-frame them. I needed to do another and not claim it as a struggle, but call it out as something I was contending for! I was going to do a walk to contend for FREEDOM.
What I didn’t know my “yes, Lord” was going to be though was the start of something more… the conviction that if I could contend through one more 5K, maybe I should just keep contending for freedom in doing one each month, through the rest of the year…. gulp.

And so I did. I signed up for four.
Four pushes toward moving my body in ways I knew was hard.
Four dates with myself to celebrate what my body CAN do, not get in agreement with what it finds hard to do.
Four events to “contend” for Freedom against this “dis- ease” that wrestles against me.
Four times to show up for myself.
Four times to lean into God for strength.

So, it should come as no shock that the very first one, unbeknownst to me, was actually a 5k being run to respect the first responders, to honor those who had fallen in 9-11; and to remember FREEDOM.
I stood at the starting line while the trumpets played and the flags were being flown and the emcee was reading the names of the ones from our State who had been lost in the line of duty on 9-11.
I bawled.
I mean , ugly cried…
I know people were looking at me, but I didn’t even care. I couldn’t believe that “somehow” this 5k race, that I just signed up for because it was close to home, was for “Freedom”… and I didn’t even know it.
The intention God was using this for in my life, was not lost on me.
I was contending for freedom in my own way, by participating in a race honoring freedom.
Whoa.
It still undoes me.

I wiped my face on my shirt, just as someone handed me something. I thought it was a kleenex because legit.. I was a mess.. lol. I took it and humbly mumbled “thank you.” When I looked at it though, it was not a tissue. It was a small laminated ribbon with the name of one of the first responders who had paid the ultimate price for freedom. I was to pin it to my runners bib and think of him throughout my race.
Cue the tears again.
Where was that dang kleenex? LOL .. My shirt was snotty before it was sweaty!

All through my event, I kept him, and freedom in mind and I became even more grateful with each step. Even when the police car that was supposed to be bringing up the rear of the racers, passed me… lol … I was grateful.
I was out here.
I was doing what my body could do.
I was showing up for myself.
I was walking for freedom… in more ways than one.
It didn’t have to look like anyone else’s “race”.
It was mine. And it was already doing a big work in my heart. In my mind.
Within my Spirit.

As I watched the back end of that police car, I thought about first repsonders. They race. Without hesitation…
To the call. To the danger. To the emergency. To the need. To the thing that is trying to take something down.
For freedom.
They show up.

And so will I.

My call to this freedom in my body is not small. It’s for my life. And so I must be a first responder in my own life; actually, FOR my own life. No longer can I let excuse, shame, regret, feelings of insignificance, fear, panic or anxiety be first responders on my behalf.
They are not heros.
I am.
They are not freedom fighters.
I am.

It also wasn’t lost on me that the timing of this FREEDOM race was right in line with the timing of the 21 day sugar fast I had signed up to do with Revelation Wellness. It was starting the next day for me too.
A Fast.
Not a diet.
A prayerful entering into losing what weighs me down.
Not a plan to lose weight.
A calculated step aimed at dislodging the comforts of food that I tend to go to first.
An intentional turn to God instead.
Not a restriction.
An invitation…
To Freedom.

Man, the Lord is doing a work. It’s a hard work, Sis, I’m not gonna lie. And I’m kinda resistant to it… like the drowning person is sometimes resistant to the lifeguard swimming out to save her… kinda like that.
But this I know – in the “end”, it’s going to be worth it, and my “race” toward it should be without hesitation.

What might be set free?

Me.

The Ministry of Presence

I have two very vivid “feeling” memories from childhood. Feeling memories are things tied sooo closely to what your heart needs to hear; They are not a memory of an event or an instance or even a thing. They are a memory of a feeling, and I have two that conflicted and battled for a place …. one born from longing, the other born from fear. I remember them both well, and if I’m honest, in ways even today, they war on. #ButGod

To be seen

and 

To not be seen.

Let me explain. 

All I longed for and was desperate for, was to be loved and wanted; to feel important and significant.

I longed for it; yearned for someone to be with me, see me, show me love; but my home was anything but this type of atmosphere… so, out of fear from the bad things that I knew could happen, I tried not to be seen.

It was conflicting . These were “my people”- the ones who should make me feel safe, loved, and wanted… but instead I feared them and what they did to me.

I’d come home from school and go straight to my room, trying to escape before I was even noticed. If I was out of sight, I was out of mind, and if I was out of mind, bad things couldn’t happen to me. So on one hand, I longed for what I hoped I’d receive, but on the other, I feared what might actually happen, so I tried to become invisible. 

It was tormenting. And I was just a child. I didn’t understand or have any real frame of reference to expect things to be different. This is what I knew. I just also somehow knew there was supposed to be “more.”

 

From the late 60’s to the early 70s, this fear was what I knew. Loneliness was what I knew. Neglect was what I knew. Abuse was what I knew. But even in my child’s mind, I KNEW there must be more… I was sure of it.

“Kevin Hatfield” was proof. He was my next-door neighbor and when his mom got wind of me being home alone every night, she started sending Kevin over to ask me to come play. It was amazing. I loved walking in their house. I can remember so much about it…the dark wood floor in the entry; to the right the golden staircase banister that went up to the second floor; and to the left, a large living room with a fireplace and a big framed picture over it; a round, red braided rug on the floor and cozy pillows on a well-worn brown couch. I remember the bright, cheery kitchen in the back of the house, with wheat stalks on the wall paper, and a huge window that looked over a pretty wooded area and had a sweet dog that loves to play catch. I remember Kevin’s mom always in there getting dinner ready for her family. 
It’s crazy my vivid memory of this home, because if you ask me about my own, there is much I’ve blocked out. There is much I can’t remember. I can tell you the lay out, but nothing personal within. I can tell you the door to the stairway was dark panel and the basement itself always had a smell of something I could only then only describe as damp wood, skunks and flowers that had somehow rotted and developed their own kind of body odor. I now know, that smell was a damp dark basement mingling with pot and patchouli and various whiskeys. And I remember the door because fear struck me every time I had to use it.

I can tell you where the Christmas tree always stood because I actually met Santa at that tree one year. Late one Christmas eve I heard this horn , like that of an ahooga horn on an old time car. I ran to the window to look at the driveway, and sitting there was this old fashioned car, complete with a large red bag in the rumble seat and a large “red” man with a huge white beard sitting in the front. He waved and I ran to the front door and threw it open! Yes. It was in the dead of a Michigan winter and it was freezing, but folks, I was home alone on Christmas eve and SANTA just arrived!!!!  He came in and brought MEEE cookies, and then proceeded to place all kinds of gifts under the tree for just MEEEE !  I got hugged by the man in the red suit and I remember him crying…. And for a split second… I felt seen.  And very very loved.

I still don’t’ know who that man was. My Mom was in the hospital and who knows where dear ol’ step dad and the boys were, but this man… He somehow knew I was alone and he told me he had to drive his car this Christmas and not bring his reindeer because reindeer could only fly if it was snowing. It wasn’t snowing, so in my child’s mind it all made sense and I believed him. He told me to wait for morning and then open all my gifts. I did… and while I’m sure someone was there to have Christmas with me, I can’t remember them, I only remember getting the best gift ever: My Easy Bake oven. I didn’t even know it was a toy. I just know it is what I used to make dinners for myself. A lot of bologna went through that oven! Lol… And sometimes Graham crackers. Sometimes white bread and mayo sandwiches…. Whatever I could find to feed myself. This I know, Santa… real life Santa himself…saw me. Knew me. Knew what I needed and gave it to me. And I felt loved. 

Back to Kevin’s house. I can even remember the worn path in the grass of my back yard where I walked to his house, crossed the dead end street, and joined the sidewalk that led up to the “Hatfield’s” porch. I remember a black lantern post at the edge of the sidewalk and I knew if that lantern was coming on, I needed to be getting home to grab what I could find in the kitchen and get to my own room before anyone who lived at my house came home. Remember, I needed to be unseen.

Here’s where I’m going with all this. 

PRESENCE

There is ministry in presence. 

Santa ministered to me.

Kevin’s mom ministered to me.

Both ministered to me, just by making me feel seen and by entering into my aloneness and make me matter. Oh my goodness… those two people alone, in fleeting moments, were what I drew hope from, strength from, good from, in many times during those young years. 

Santa’s presence made a difference in less than an hour. He knew just a moment in my life, mattered. He saw a once in a lifetime difference making opportunity, and he took it. I’m sure it was inconvenient. I mean, the man went to sommmme lengths to pull off this “moment.” But because he did, for a good few years, I got to eat “hot” meals. I got to remember “that one time” Santa came just for me. I got to recall feeling seen and loved and like I mattered . I mean, let’s be real, Santa can’t stop and bring cookies and show little girls how to use an easy bake oven at every stop! Right? That meant I was special! And I hung on to that with my life.

Kevin’s mom’s presence made a difference every couple of days. Just by seeing a little girl with a need, and inviting her in to her own everyday she changed the fear of aloneness in my week. She didn’t have to talk to me or feed me or do anything for me… she just let me be with her… and that was enough.

She entered in; “Santa” entered in; and I’m telling you friends, it gave me strength for all the in-between times. It gave me hope for all the other “unseen” times. It instilled in me a spark of hope and it created a space in my heart for down the road when “faith” would make an appearance. 

Wow. 

Read that again. “It created a space in my heart for down the road when ‘faith’ would make an appearance.” 

The ministry of presence. 

Just “being there”… sometimes with a gift, a conversation, an act of kindness, or even, moments of silence… your presence into someone’s hard space, is more of a gift than you’ll ever know.

The ministry of presence.
It’s seed planting. 

I didn’t know faith. I didn’t know God. I didn’t even have a good example of people in my life that I wanted to grow up to be like someday. I only knew what I knew…a desperate longing and a paralyzing fear: to be seen and unseen. It was torment. 

Enter, two humans who were kind. Who came into my space and made a place, if even for a moment. 

Who invited me to their table.

Who made room to have room for me. 

Who saw a need and filled it. 

Who did a little thing that changed my whole world.  

Who tucked into a cranny of my heart, the possibility of hope and a seed that would nestle down into the depths of me to be remembered when the time came, that I first heard about a God who loved me. 

The Ministry of Presence. “We will never be able to effectively tell them a God story, if we are not leaning with compassion into their human story.”  (~Homesteader Kay)

It’s a lesson well learned. 

When we take time to hear, to listen, to dwell, to reach out, to minister, to feed, to have compassion, to understand, to meet a need, to sit with in silence, to hold a hand, deliver a meal, send a handwritten letter, call with a real life voice… to seeeeeee with unbridled compassion the human story people are living, we open doors to plant seeds for a God story so much bigger than we ever dreamed!

I WISH I knew “SANTA” now. I WISH I knew Kevin’s mom’s name. I wish I could find these two “presence Minsters” and tell them:

“LOOK!”  LOOK where lil Kay landed in life! LOOK at her happy! LOOK at her SEEN. LOOK at  her loved. LOOK at her in this GOD STORY she never imagined possible! 

A seed.

A ministry of presence. 

Made a way. 

Friends. Don’t discount the value in seeing humankind, and then

being “Human Kind”.

It may promote you to “Minister of Presence.”

It may mean more than you ever dreamed to the one longing and fearing in the same breath.

Above all, it may just be the beginning of someone’s God story.

Difference making doesn’t have to be extravagant… it just has to be intentional and from a heart of love.

The ministry of presence. A small seed with a mighty purpose.

 

#whatdoesyourheartneedtohear? YOU WERE BUILT FOR THIS!

What does your heart need to hear?

YOU WERE BUILT FOR THIS.

I was blessed enough to be able to go to RISE conference in Minnesota this year. Rachel Hollis is a wild fire and man, that girl can speak to your heart and make you get honest and intentional with yourself in ways many can’t. And she does it from a place of faith, un-apologetically and raw. And I learned so much…About myself. About my why. About purpose. And about love … however, it was something that her husband Dave Hollis said that hit me deep. I actually went into this conference with a prayer that it would grow me in ways that would draw me deeper to Jesus and his purpose for me. And it did.

Insert Dave Hollis’s speech, and this quote he used:

“A ship is safe at harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.”

It struck a chord. And the chord sounded off key at first. Like one that doesn’t get played often. Like one that has a part of it out of tune. Like one that needed some attention.
So, I gave it attention. The spirit within me kept pointing to it… and I haven’t been able to let go of it.

It’s music is starting to sound sweeter. But it didn’t at first.

Mannnn…

At first.

And for awhile…

It was awful

and unpleasant

and I was afraid it would never sound sweet…

I started playing it more tho. “It” being that truth that Dave’s speech hit. The Truth that… gulp… I liked the harbor. The truth that I was made for more, but had come to love the safety of an anchor and a sea wall and the company of other “ships”, who embraced with me, the comfort zone of harbor.

That was the chord.

It’s called “I’ve settled”.

It’s called , “I’m comfortable”.

It’s called, “Lukewarm”.

It’s called , “Afraid to pursue”.

It’s called, “I don’t believe in myself”.

It’s called, “FEAR”.

And I didn’t like it.

That truth sounded like a terrible tune but I forced myself to lean into it.
If you don’t like a truth about yourself, if you don’t like the tune of a chord, if the music of your life isn’t sounding pretty…

Change it.

Decide that’s not the song you want playing in your head!!!
As I leaned in to try to hear it’s true tune, with each strum, it whispered more and more loudly, the real.. underlying truth I needed to hear. I needed to remember:

Girl. FEAR is keeping you in the harbor… But you’re built for more.

Believe– YOUUUUuuuuu were built for “THIS”!

Write it down, speak it out loud, place it in all the places you look … but also… HEAR it.

Every time you read it, every time you speak it, every time you see it… HEAR it and believe it.

This call, this dream, this goal, this purpose, is placed in you by your Creator and He equips you for it!

Stay in the harbor and be safe. Play off key and out of tune.

Or

Leave the safety of the sea walls and go to the deep and hear a symphony.

C’mon girl. You were “built” for this.

Like I said, my goodness how I’ve been revisiting this thought over and over since conference. It’s a hard truth I’ve had to make myself face. I’m a ship. Built for more but anchored at harbor.

Let’s dive into that.. it’s raw. But I think some of you may relate, so here I go with some transparency.

I’m afraid.

I like the harbor.

The other pretty ships and vessels bob and sway and stay safe at anchor, close by, like good friends who are gonna be there… even tho they are there because they are afraid too.

And hey, you know what, even if a storm does arise, you’re so close to shore, you can abandon ship and get to the safety of land, right?  I mean abandoning ship is finnnnne if it looks like it’s in danger of sinking, right?

 

Ugh. I don’t like admitting this. I don’t like confessing the “off tune chord” of, I like the comfort of “LOOKING” like a seaworthy vessel but am too afraid to sail. I can’t stand that I’m saying out loud that this “harbor life” is a comfort zone I don’t want to leave.  I don’t like disclosing that truth that I’m afraid of the deep. I’m anxious over sailing into a calling that is over my head, away from my security of shore and company of “likeminded” ships and that perhaps scary things may arise out there that look a lot like circling sharks, big waves and fierce storms I can’t handle. I hate that music.

 

Yuck.
I don’t like that girl. I don’t like that song.

That’s the girl that believes the lie. That’s the girl that gets in agreement with who she used to be. That’s the girl that looks at a past that tried to define her, and instead of believing for more… she believes what was. That’s the girl that lets all the fear that poured into her from childhood, keep her anchored to the thing that weighs her down. Thats the girl that lets the enemy storm the battlefield that her God has already won.
So , I’m not playing that tune anymore. I refuse. I’m not staying in harbor any longer than I have to. I’m sailing into deep waters… with my Creator

Because:
I was built for this.
I was made for more.

I was created on purpose for purpose

and, girl… so where you.

Here’s where we decide. Here’s where we don’t just AGREE, but rather, GET IN AGREEMENT with this truth: What you were made for… you are equipped for.

If you’re as ship, baby, you’re made to sail.
You might feel like hiding in safety. You may like the comfort of harbor. You may not mind an off key chord now and again… but the truth is, if you’re not walking in your calling. If you don’t sail into the deep, you’re only keeping yourself anchored to things that weigh you down. Things like your past, friends who are going nowhere too, opinions of other people, those attempts you made that failed, that insignificance you feel, that debt that whispers unworthy, that mistake that seems like a brand, that voice that says you’re incapable, ill equipped and not “sea worthy”… Those things are in the harbor and they feel “safe” because we know them. They feel safe because we know what to expect with them. They feel safe because we know how to drift with them. But they really… just have you anchored. Weighed down. Unable to sail into your purpose and dream.  That anchored is tied to an enemy of your soul who is bound and determined to keep you anchored.

Cut yourself loose.

Hoist anchor

Set your eyes to the Sea…  go deep. There are scary things there, but also, there are some of the most amazing and beautiful things waiting for you there too because that’s what you were built for… navigating those things to get to the deep and beautiful things you can’t find or give, in harbor.

You were made for more friend. You are built for more. And so was I.
What does your heart need to hear?

I think it needs to hear that you are built for this.
“This” dream you have. This goal you set. This purpose you see. This idea you develop. This plan that looks promising. This desire you crave…
Was set in you before the beginning of time by your Creator and you were MADE FOR “This”!
It’s not just in you to want it, it’s OK to want it. And that makes it more than ok to “sail” after it.
You were built for it.

 

Write it down.

Tell our hearts to believe

I had a conversation with a friend recently over #whatdoesyourheartneedtohear?
“Seriously”, I asked her, “What DOES it need to hear?”

She said: “It needs to hear that trusting Him …

Is safe.”

She went on to say she knows that it is Truth… she’s sure.

God IS Trustworthy. Her head knowledge told her so.

But, walking in it? Believing with her “heart knowledge”… giving Him all the places that she felt she needed to keep her hand on…  That was harder. That felt risky, even though the TRUTH, echoed to her it was not. Hearts take longer to convince and she admitted, that was scary. Feelings get in the way. But she desperately wanted to believe with her heart, that trusting God, was safe.

 

Wow. Admitting that…saying that out loud…

That’s vulnerable

That’s humbling

That’s real

And man, I get that.

I was so proud of her.

It’s so difficult to admit the hard truths to ourselves sometimes, let alone, speak them out loud, isn’t it?

That’s a whole ‘nother level of Trust.

Whew…Can we park there for a minute? ON Trust.. Because,lets’ just say it- sometimes – it’s scary.

Ok. Legit- most times it’s scary! Scary because we perceive it from our human angle of it having been failed over and over and over again in our lives. Right? I mean, trusting when that trust has been abused and beaten up by others, is hard to hang on to, even when it’s God we’re talking about.

Abused pathways of ruined trust have formed ruts and established warning signs and then, when the “Unknown” bounces echos off the canyon walls of “DOUBT” , they deceptively reverberate back to us like Truth…
and
we believe it…
or at least …
hearken to it for a hot minute, because it’s a voice we’ve grown used to listening to. The voice of “Unknown” and “Doubt” can be sooo loud. And so familiar.
I mean. Right?
Idk… maybe it’s just me;
Well, me and this friend I was talking to.
Maybe it’s just us,
but it feels like… maybe,
it’s not.
Can you relate #sisterfriend?
Is the Unknown and Doubt so loud in your head and heart that those two “sister echos” then demand “Understanding” to show up long before Trust?
If I’m honest, my hand is in the air. I often want to understand before I offer my trust.
My reply to her was this… (and believe me- I’m making it a #notetoself as well) :
“Awe, friend, when we get in these places where the voices of Doubt and Unknown
echo to us, we begin to turn the definition of TRUST into the
the same definition as Understanding.
We think we have to understand,  in order to trust.
You see,  Understanding?
She wants answers in order to chase off “Doubt”.
She wants sureties to drive off the “Unknowns”.
Understanding?
She wants all the things aligned in her vision, before heading off in annny risky directions. Basically , She wants to knoooooow. Allllll. Theeee. Thinggggs.
I personally love “Understanding” .. LOL .. she’s my bud. I dig her.
But, that’s not Trust.
Not at all.
Yet, isn’t it how we choose to define “Trust”?
“If I can know this ___  X. Y. and Z. in detail…
then,
I can Trust this ______________ to the full extent”
We want to “understand” the path… before we Trust it’s safe.
We want to “understand” the way… before we Trust it’s secure.
We want to “understand” the methods… before we Trust they are not risky.
But God says, “Trust me.”
Just that.
Just: “Trust me” :
With the path
With the way
With the method
You don’t need to understand…
you just need to believe in the reliability, truth, faithfulness, ability, knowledge and strength of ME.
Understand those things alone. What you see in ME.
Then lean in;
then, lean on …
I’ve got you. I”m safe” 
Sometimes “Trust” looks nothing like we hoped it would.
Because we are wrapped in flesh, we use different senses to try to pick up Trust’s “safeness”.
We try to listen for it in all the echos, because we can’t really put visible eyes on it.
We try to feel it in the pits of our stomachs because we can’t tangibly touch it.
We hoped it would be wrapped in upfront assurance, obvious guarantees and affirmative securities…
It’s not.
But it is wrapped in Love.
It’s wrapped in the truths we have about a God whose whole purpose is love.
And even though we may not physically feel assured, or guaranteed the results we want or hope for,
because we cannot SEEE …
we do know the ONE who does.
It’s time to believe Him for His sight.
It’s time to believe Him for who we know Him to be.
He knows the end game…
We can just park there…
removed from all our own senses, and tuned in to His,
where we just have to decide that the God we “know”,
isssss the God, we know God to be…

Read that again. It’s powerful.

We have to let go of our senses and tune in to HIS,

where we just have to decide that the God we “know”,

isssss the God, we know God to be.

He IS the God, you KNOW Him to be. Tell your heart to believe it.

Therein is Truth…
Therein is TRUST…

Therein is a SAFE PLACE.

“Some” might even call it a Refuge. ( oh don’t get me started on Psalm 91!)
Even in  our “even if’s”,
“even when’s”, and all the “I don’t understand’s”…
Even from a place of questioning what we cannot see…
We can know 
He is safe.

And news flash #sisterfriend…

Even if you can’t get there- to that decisive place of “the God you “know” is the God, you know God to be”…

He still is …

and

He’s still safe.

 

The Mask of “Fine”

Hey #sisterfriends. I’m talkin to you today.

Specifically,
You.
The one who’s “fine.”

“I’m so glad we can be “fine” together.

And by “fine”…

I mean “un-fine”. It’s what our hearts need to hear, I think.

It’s a thing, you know…

this being un-fine.

It’s is a courageous deep breathe to continue on,
among the hard things,
through the unfair things,
in the in-between messy things,
and amidst all the hurtful, betraying things.

Those things.
Those very real, very icky things.

It’s is a nod to the vulnerability that the messiest of messes leave you feeling. Yeah.”I got this”.. when really. You just sorta do.

You recognize it.
Acknowledge it. Are aware of it. Of All the UN “ness” of it.

But,

You refuse to allow that “UN-ness” full access. Full access is shut down, and it’s not where we go when we’re “FINE”.

Instead, it’s a straightening of the will, a beckoning to the spirit, a resonating voice of power that keeps you from succumbing, and a conviction that you are stronger than you realize.

It’s a warrior thing.

It is.

It’s the brave pursuit, when the exhaustion has set in and the weariness is real.

It’s the heroic resolve to weather a storm and walk wounded.

It’s a neatly packaged story, full of very untidy pieces of ourselves that have been tumbled and turned and have been fired in the sacred furnace of “even if”.

It’s often a gaping and bleeding place, raw and seeping, but you can rest assured, no one will see through the perfect covering you’ve adorned.
It’s like an invisibility cloak, and the only ones who can even see the one you wear, are the others, who also, bravely wear one.

I see you my “fine” friend. Our “Un-fine- “ness” is bonding. My cloak has connected with yours and there is no need for conversation beyond that one word speaking volumes with no other uttered syllables…

“Fine.”

I get it.

And I just want you to know …
You’re in “good” company.
In fact, you’re in a safe place,
a sisterhood that embraces all the things NOT SAID with an understanding and compassion of a fellow soldier.

I’m blessed to be “un-fine” with you.

This “un fine” is not weakness… it’s tenacious, steady, determined and unmistakably powerful.

And friends,

I promise you…

When I see your cloak coming off in my presence,

I will always be authentic too.

I will always be present and feel with you, understanding even when I don’t exxxxaccctly understand… and I’ll make you know that you’re valued.
And I promise,
I will not rushed to leave your hurt. So many people do that, don’t they? It’s stripping and leaves me feeling unwanted and undervalued in soo many ways. I’ll make your hurt matter to me. Because it does. And hey… If I miss it? Because lets be real.. I can miss things sometimes…Let me know? K? I’ll humbly say sorry and rush back to help you heal.
But mostly.. I’ll try not to miss it. Promis.

I will be encouraging, not trying to “fix” anything or give you answers,until you want them or need them – but simply enter in to a posture that enlivens you, comforts you, supports you and empowers you, embraces all your “UN – ness” – because I have all those dwelling alcoves my “UN ness” likes to take up residence in too.

Above all…

I will be planted in Christ and help you remember that HE is where your roots are too.

We’re fine. REALLY.
We’re fine.
You know what I mean.
I know what you mean too.

So,
I see you “warrior”.
I hear the hurt.
I recognize the effort. Mannnn , it’s effort. I know.

And Sister…
Let me just say,
I’m proud of you.
I’m proud of you for taking those things you keep inside and let them not become the things that break you , even when they weary you.

Can we just make that “UN-fine” pact right now? The one that says even when our conversations want to halt and we put FINE at the end of them like a period…
even when we usher in all the feelings that feel like the beginning of nothing or
the start of no good thing…
that we at least agree with each other
that we can let each other in.
It can be quietly.
It can be just a toe in the crack of a doorway trying to slam shut… but let it be a toe.
At least.
Let’s keep each other “in”.

We need each other.
Warriors don’t fight alone- we fight side by side.
And if by some chance a sister does start to fade into the background, disappear from the front, get quiet in the fray… we go looking for her.
Let’s not let our fellow warriors go missing.
FINE doesn’t get to do that to us when we pay attention to one another. Keep you a few of those people , those sisters, who find you when you go missing… because those gals? They understand FINE too.

right?

RIGHT?

Let’s re-define FINE!
Let’s give it a medal. Let’s set it on a mantel. Let’s parade it down main street. Let’s not let it become lost in no man’s land of “UN- Fine.”
We earn this in hard ways.
Let’s decide it’s a badge of valor!

Unmask it. Wear it with courage. And #sisterfriend, help “her” wear hers too.

K?

Okra

My heart was hurting

It was plainly obvious she didn’t like me.
Worse…
She couldn’t stand to be around me.

Geesh.
All the rush of all my childhood insignificance, unimportance and unwanted ”nesssss”… flooded my soul again.

And man, for the love of all things yummy (because that’s a big biggg category in my life) … I didn’t know exactly why.
I mean, if I back up the story, it started at the start. Like all stories do…At the beginning of our “relationship”… of our getting to know one another.
It started then.
Back when I hadn’t “done anything” yet.
I say yet, because let’s be honest. I’ve “done” things since.
I’ve gotten mouthy back. I’ve yanked when she pulled. I’ve watered the soil of “comparison”, fertilizing my side more. Grumbling to her moods and letting them set my own.
I’m not proud of this. But it happened.
I responded back with all the ferocity I felt she was giving me… and, I decided it was ok.
It wasn’t.
I mean, it really, really wasn’t. Like, Jesus was very unhappy about it and the Spirit, well , He left me pretty unsettled and the Father? Yeah… He was giving me all the prods.
That kind of “wasn’t”.
And because it wasn’t, I knew what I had to do. I didn’t like it either. I squirmed. I held my breathe. I said I was sorry in prayer. I stomped my proverbial toddler foot and crossed my arms and pouted.
What I had to do, was grow up in this scenario and do the right thing.
That meant, I had to march my prideful self into her presence and humble myself before this woman who I KNEW, would take it and use it as a weapon against me…oh, she was going to revel in my humility. But I had to. I had to tell her I was sorry. To please forgive me because that was not how I should have responded. It wasn’t how Jesus wanted me to respond.
Dang it.
It tasted bad. But not as bad as the grit I felt in my heart.

Ok Jesus.
Let’s do this.
I knew her response wouldn’t be grace.
But I had to do my part anyway. I had to act justly. I had to love mercy. I had to walk humbly with my God. And I had to extend grace.

Truth is, sometimes you have to say you’re sorry to people who don’t care.
Sometimes you have to ask for forgiveness from a person who isn’t even sorry themselves.
Truth is, it sucks to suck it up like that…
Least… until you see it from the perspective of gardening.

What?
Gardening?

Yep. Gardening.

***************
It’s spring and on this homestead, it’s my favorite time of year… except for fall and harvest… LOL… That’s my favorite too! 😊 But Spring… gosh. It’s like shedding winter and putting on something new. It’s shaking off the dreary and the cold and the brittle and the bitter … and it’s getting a warm hug of sunshine, a bloom of life, a fresh wind of … Allergies? LOL … Whatever. It’s new life coming back to the land and with that, also comes the planning and planting the garden.
I adore our garden! Unlike most people, who select a patch of land, out of the way, and off to the side to till up and plot, we tuck our garden right up next to our porch. You have to walk through it to get to our front door and it welcomes you in with all it’s bumbles and pops of color and heirloom “fruits”… and lets be real, as well as with it’s imperfect overgrowth and pesky weeds. It’s a gathering of raised beds, all made from cedar, and surrounded with hardwood mulch paths that we try to tuck herbs and strawberries and marigolds into. I say “we” and “our” because the tending to it is happily split between my husband and I. When he has a moment to steal out of the shop for a breather or a relaxing of his mind from some heavy and weighty task at hand, he can walk out the door of the shop, stroll over to the garden just a few feet away, and spend a few minutes getting out of his head.
I can drive up after a long day at work, park next to it and spend the next 20 minutes slowly moving through it to my front door. Letting go of the office and coming “home”. Pulling a weed here, looking for a tomato horned worm there (the ravenous hateful critters) and gather what ever is ripe for the picking as I go… often planning our evening meals side dish around what I’ve gathered.

It’s a welcome respite. Not a chore. (well. Ok. On 100 degree days, when I’ve let some weeds go wild, it’s a chore… but mostly. It’s not.)
Rather,
It’s a tending.
It’s a caring.
It’s a nursing and a bent towards giving.
It’s a cultivating and a nurturing and a giant… giant.. Hoping.
There are stages of planning and managing and preparing and fertilizing and propagating and plowing and hoeing and laboring and ripening and harvesting and …

ok. It’s work. LOL

But it’s beautiful, worthy and rewarding work. And it grows fruit … not just that I can eat, but “fruit” that mends my soul.

************
Re enter, “her”.

I had to pull some weeds in my own heart, choking out the good fruit that wanted to grow.
I had to do some pruning back of my own retaliation and manage my own mouth.
And I had to fertilize the soil I had let get completely depleted of any nutrients, with my “sorry”.
Let’s be real. Nothing good was going to grow there.

I’ll call her “Okra”. Haha… sorry. It’s funny. I don’t like Okra. It’s yucky. It’s sticky and spiny and slimy and tastes like hay rolled in dirt. (just me?)

She, Okra, has edges too, that are spiny and sticky and she can be downright slimy if not dusted in “flour” and seasoned in all the right ways. Know what I’m saying? But friends…

She’s a part of my garden. And I need to tend to her and propagate and spread good seed around her.

Let’s be real tho, I don’t need to welcome Okra onto my plate… but I do need to make sure I’m not leaving that area of my garden untended. I need to be working my garden to the best of my ability, regardless of whether or not I like what’s planted there.

whew.

Let me say that again.
I need to be caring for my garden to the best of my ability, regardless of whether I like what’s planted there, or not.

MY tending, could just help produce , HER fruit.

whoa.

Can you imagine if I just neglected an area so close to my porch, the area others have to walk right up through to get to my front door, all because I was annoyed by something planted there?
It wouldn’t make for a very welcoming entrance or a very pleasing path to my home.

And, it doesn’t make for a very pretty or pleasing entrance to “me” either.

Let me tell you something about “Okra”.
Every time she reacted to me in a negative way, I decided I was going to turn that on her and plant a seed of grace.
She belittled something I did… I congratulated her on something else.
She found a wound to pick at, I let it bleed grace.
She scoffed at a story I shared, I shared one about her that I could find a sweetness too.
I wasn’t always perfect at this… there are days… but I found myself trying more and more, because
she’s in my “garden”.
And I know this…
EVERY time, you partner with Grace, you partner with GOD.
And He walks through my garden too… I need to remember that.

Oh, some days I let the weeds grow up in the “Okra” patch… and I get a little tired of the constant over growth and heavy, sweaty work … but more often now, I’ve found myself looking at it, at her, in a new way.
I’ve decided I may not like the taste of Okra, but friends…
have you ever seen an Okra plant blossom? It’s gorgeous. It’s so lovely.
There is beauty that is beyond the other flowers on my vegetable plants. It’s crazy. That spiny, sticky, pokey, slimy fruit… has beauty that far exceeds many other blooms in the garden.

So, I’m tending the flower. The fruit it produces is not my favorite, but it has a beauty that is unique, and I’m looking at that now and doing that thing that all gardeners do so well…

Hope.

Do you have an “Okra” in your life? Most of us do. There has been or there is someone… so, let me encourage you.
Tend to her like she’s the most beautiful flower in your garden and see what harvests.
I promise, even if “Okra” doesn’t change for you, your view of her
will change you.

The Freak Out Dance

It was August 2012.

Weird that I remember that.
I mean. I can’t remember where I left my car keys most days, or my glasses each morning, or even what I had for dinner two nights ago… Ok. Just Kidding. I remember that one. LOL . I always remember food! But seriously. My mind is a weird mess of what sticks and what goes, and this story.. lol … Well, it’s a prime example.
Some would believe that this is nutso, that I remember this particiular “event” was in August of 2012… but I swear to you, for whatever reason, I do.

Well. Actually I know the reason.

It was a spider.
A big black hairy spider that tried to suck the life out of me.

You don’t forget those things. You just don’t.
They stick with you and become the stories in your life that you tell your grandchildren. They tend to get a little more grandiose with time, hahaha, soooo.. let’s see…
It’s 2019 … seven years. “Grandiose” shoouuld be amped up pretty good by now.
🙂

********************************

It was hot.
Dang hot.
Sweating before you get out of bed, take a cool shower because you’re going to spend the rest of your day in 100 degree weather kind of hot.

We’re homesteaders. And well, that means parts of the homestead aren’t quite finished. And back in 2012, even more of those “parts” weren’t finished… Including decent air conditioning.
So many mornings started with a cool shower.
This one did.

I had already exited the shower on this day, feeling quite refreshed and ready to start my day, when the “incident of August 2012”, happened.
That’s what I like to call it now.
The Incident.

Of August.

2012.

Remember, I said it was a scorcher of a day, so I had chosen a pair of white crop pants for my day. I slid them on, just as I always do, one leg at a time…
I was in mid balance – one leg on floor, one leg lifting to begin the entry process into the first pant leg.
You know this balancing act. I know you do. It’s that precarious state you find yourself when you’re just a littttle bit chubby and the shifting of weight sometimes enacts gravity’s pull and you weeble and wobble and pray you don’t fall down!
That was me at this point.
Trying to resist gravity, stay upright, and shoot my chubby leg through a pant leg hole all at the same time.

That’s when I saw “it”.
A glimpse of darkness on the shin of my “non shooting through the pant leg, leg”. LOL Let’s call it the foundational leg, because.. well, at this point, all my weight was on this leg and it was the only thing keeping me grounded in my struggle to remain upright in this weebling balancing act.

I’m sure you can picture it.
If not. Take a minute, because it’s hilarious.

In a split second, nine hundred and one thoughts ran thru my head:
Is that a spider? It IS a spider! How did I not feel it on my leg???
HOW did it GET on my leg?? Where did it come from???
OMGOSHHHHH…WHERE has it already BEEN?
Did it just BITE Me?
It JUST BIT me!!!! OH my gosh. It bit me! (Crying now) It bitttttt meeee…
Is it poisonous? OMGOOOSHHHH my heart rate is going to race it’s poison through my body!!! My eyes are bulging.
OMGOSSH Do eyes bulge when poisonous spiders bite you? How fast do you die from a poisonous spider bite!?
Am I sweating? Dang it… I’m SWEATING.
Is that a poisonous spider bite reaction?
Oh, no. I’m falling. Gravity and spider are winning… I’m going to crack my head on something and die from a head injury and be found as a swollen unidentifiable body ….

legit.
Nine hundred and one thoughts. (I’m an enneagram 6. Some of you will know what that means. LOL)

What ensues is a crazy one legged dance and tangling of pant legs, followed by shrieks of horror, wounded tears of perpetuating death and doom, ripping of cloth, swatting at the intruder while trying to continue to hold pants, and a freak out scramble to stay upright …
alllllll while keeping an eye on the deadly beast so he doesn’t run off to some area of the house to wait in prey for another member of my family.

Finally falling to the floor, in my final moments on earth, I panicked about one last thing. What if this thing was caught in the folds of my pant leg? And as I fall, I trap it, and in it’s own freak out dance to escape, it bites me a bajillon more times, leaving only a blown up, swollen, mess for my husband to find.
I mean. Could happen.

And with that finally thought, I hit the floor…
and realize…

This deadly spider that has now just cost me my life, is actually a giant clump of husky/shepherd hair, courtesy of Molly, my sweet giant furbaby, who sheds like it’s nobody’s business.

Today, she made it my business.

Laying on the floor in a crumpled, sweaty, weakened mess…

I’m pretttty confident…

I’ve had a stroke.

**************************

See why I remember this day?

And do you see what can happen when we allow ourselves to get allll worked up over something that never really “was”, to begin with? ( that’s a horrible sentence structure, but go with me. You know what I”m saying )

We perceive something to be true, when we don’t have all the details.
We allow ourselves to get all worked up, when we don’t have the facts.
We think we know what’s going to happen, when we don’t even have the whole story.

And so, we fret, worry, become anxious, and do this whole freak out dance, when really, #sisterfriend…
We’ve conjured a lot of the problem up ourselves!

Whoa.

Can we just take a step back from that pant leg dance for a minute?

1. Our freak out … puts us in a place where we do no one any good. Not you. Not the spider. Not the husband who is gonna find you. No one wins.
And we want to be in the Kingdom business of making sure we’re pointing people in the direction of the Kingdom, right? LOL .. and no one is going to believe your own pursuit is real, if you’re constantly in freak out mode. Just sayin #notetoself
And
2. Our freak out … shows we don’t believe that God is in control. We (ok, I) just gave waaaaay to much credit to a spider.. aka: hairy clump of dog floof.
It was going to make me die. I went from refreshed, cool shower, to
I’m dead and dying on my bathroom floor by way of swelling till I pop.
Or something like that…

Instantly… from peace to death in a pant leg dance.
Boy, that makes our enemy rejoice. When something drops into our life unexpectedly and we go from zero to sixty on the freak out peg, he knows, we just bypassed our exit ramp to Trusting Jesus.

I don’t want to pass that ramp anymore kids. I don’t. Freaking out is exhausting. Isn’t there just so much more peace when we look at things, in the FIRST PLACE, through God’s lens?
When we don’t misconstrue.
When we don’t disfigure through perception.
When we don’t guess at what might be.
But instead…
When we trust. When we know. When we take the ramp to Trusting Jesus, our freak out dance turns to a worship dance.
And what others see in us, is Him.

And
what we know,

is that He is in control.

Freak out derailed. Peace pursuit intact. Kingdom building on point.

No spider in sight.