Monthly Archives: April 2013

we stood on our cages and roared

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Six weeks ago I called fear’s bluff. It has been six weeks since I started My Intangible Cage series. I had discovered that I lived in a cage of fear that was choking the life out of me and keeping me from living the life God intended. I unpacked the lie that fear is responsible. I chose to run instead of hide. I talked about my shame regarding who I am and the fear of failure that so often holds me back. Thanks Chris Brown for that one.

A truly beautiful thing happened. You started to come out of your cages with me. To say that I have been moved by your stories over this series would be an understatement. People dealing with fear of getting cancer, shame regarding their personalities, and others shut down by personal tragedies… to name a few. But, you are peeking out of your cages realizing that isn’t what you were made for. I’ve been inspired by your courage and resolve.

Fear couldn’t keep us down or box us in. It tried. Fear lied , manipulated and tricked us. Fear made a strong case for all the ways our cages are good. It said the bars weren’t to keep us in, but to keep all the scary things “out there” far away from us. In our cages we were untouchable and safe… or so we were led to believe.  Fear spoke to us in the quite moments of night before we fell asleep and in the early shadows of morning. Fear told us we are not and we cannot. But, God interrupted and told us something entirely different. 

Fear told me to keep my eyes down, it is about to get ugly.

God told me to look up. The best is yet to come.

Fear told me that I am not enough and I will never be enough.

God told me that I don’t have to be enough because ‘ I AM ‘ covers all my lack.

Fear handed me pounds of worry to weigh me down. Anxiety and stress regarding all of the “what ifs”. 

God told me to cast my cares on Him…and He will give me rest.

I have learned that an amazing thing happens when I walk out of my cage. I begin to feel life flowing through my veins again. Dreams swirl and expectation rise. A deep sensation swells within my belly and works its way up. Soon, I hear a whisper of truth come from my lips.

It is faint at first. A declaration of hope and future. Soon the whisper turns into a roar that my once timid lips cannot hold back. When we are free, we offer the world a manifesto of hope and freedom that we never even knew was within us. 

We become ourselves again outside of our cage.

So, here is to courage friends. A life lived full of faith and destiny. Fear did not defeat us. It no longer owns us. 

These past few weeks we have come out from behind our intangible restrictions. We have embraced the truth that we were created to run and live full of calling. Loved by Freedom itself we became brave – fiercely brave. We stood on our cages and roared: 

Fear we have a destiny, and you will not keep us from it.

We are free. There is nothing left to wait for because our Deliverance has come and He remains. The series is over, but the journey isn’t. It’s time to stand on your cage and say something. That thing that has been in your heart to say all along. The unique expression of God in you that is coming to the surface.

Go ahead. What will you ROAR???

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Filed under Faith, Fire, My Intangible Cage

the book every family should read

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via Amazon

This has been one of the most useful books I have read in a long time. Patrick Lencioni is a business consultant who translates business organization tools into the way we organize and run our personal lives. The book  is geared to families with children but could be applied to any type of family unit. Plus, it is a super easy read since he explains things in a narrative style.

The 3 questions are:

  1. What makes your family unique? If you don’t know what differentiates your family from others, you won’t have a basis for making decisions, and you’ll try to be all things to all people.

2. What is your family’s top priority-rallying cry- right now? You need to know what the single most important objective is for your family over the next two to six months. Without a top priority, everything becomes important and you end up reacting to whatever issues seem urgent that day.

3. How do you talk about and use the answers to these questions? If you answer the first two questions but don’t use those answers in daily, weekly, and monthly decision-making, it will yield no benefits “

Instead of rushing and being pulled in a thousand directions, he encourages families to rally around one big thing at a time. My favorite part is that it isn’t a bunch of theory but practical help in how to figure out what your family should be focusing on.

I read it last summer and plan on reading it again this summer. I suggest you join me. You can get it here. Happy reading!

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what chris brown taught me

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To say that I’ve had some big failures in my life is an understatement. I knew that I couldn’t do a series about fear without discussing that. My Intangible Cage started 4 weeks ago and will finish next week. It has been a time of talking about the fears that hold us back from who we were made to be. Believe me, I have quite a few of those fears.

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Just about a year ago when my blog was starting to see some significant growth, I did something stupid. Really stupid. I wrote a post that was very personal and perhaps a bit controversial. I got a comment from an “anonymous” reader. It was bashing my point of view and accusing me of being arrogant. ( It has been deleted, so no need to scour the archives to see it) At least, that is what I thought it was.

In all my wisdom I tweeted ” Got my first hater on the blog today”.  Right. So, turns out that “anonymous” was not so anonymous. It was a friend whom I had known from childhood. Who follows  followed me on social media. My stomach sank as I read her email.

She let me know that her comment was simply a different opinion and since when did I get so arrogant to publicly mock someone for attempting civil discourse? She had changed to a different faith around college and I was pretty much her only tie to her Christian past. But now she wanted to cut ties completely. She blocked my calls, emails and de-friended me on social media. She hasn’t talked to me since.

Fail. Epic, sweeping, keep me up at night failure. It made me seriously consider stopping blogging all together. I could not get over how immature I had been. I should not be trusted with a blog.

But, I learned something about fear & failure from an unlikely source.

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photo: Jonathan Alcom

Please stop cringing. I know that Chris Brown is not the standard go-to example for things. Remember when he was arrested for beating Rihanna in 2009? I can think of few things that are bigger failures. To not simply disappoint people, but commit a terrible act. Maybe one of the worst in my opinion.

The news was ruthless and the public slammed him. Which, you know, he deserved. If I were him, I would have moved to some obscure village in the Himalayas and tweeted continual apologies. But, he didn’t retreat to a rural mountain village. Chris Brown apologized, got help and then came back.

Back on the red carpet, back in the news, back onto the music scene & even got back together with Rihanna. I’m sure you have an opinion on their whole dating situation, but I’d prefer you tell Perez Hilton and not me. The point is that he didn’t stay down.

Everyone knew he did something terrible. Chris Brown failed. Not just failed but was flat-out awful. He was mocked. He was guilty.

I am not excusing what he did & I genuinely hope that he has changed.  Like him or not, he came back. Hate me for saying it, but I admire his courage. Chris Brown showed me that just because I failed doesn’t mean I have to remain a failure.

There are days where I totally hate what I do. Embarrassment crashes down and I chastise myself with unforgiving thoughts. A self-inflicted punishment sends me back into my intangible cage. I don’t deserve to be let out. I will only mess up and be humiliated again. That is the thinking of someone with no Savior. And that isn’t me.

I have a Savior. One who isn’t intimidated by my brokeness and my sin. Failure no longer remains a fear.

No need to keep my head down when I don’t measure up. The days I say and do stupid things do not have to define me. My lack does not dictate my future. Your lack does not dictate your future. God is bigger. He covers us, forgives us, and makes all things new.

We will fail but we will not remain failures. Our lack & weakness will be overrun by endless Grace & Mercy. 

It is week 5 of our series. The week we stop exiling ourselves to our cages. The week we stop glaring at our shame and look our Savior in the eyes instead.

Goodbye fear of failure.

Hello courage to risk & try again.

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my hometown

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Every Sunday I share something I discovered during the week that  I love. This time I am sharing my Saturday morning experience. I am a big city girl at heart, but I come from a mid-size Texas town. I was born and bred in Waco, Texas. I spent yesterday morning at the local farmers market. Moments like these remind me how charming my town is and how grateful I am to be from here.

Fresh veggies, local artisans, hipster baristas, and delicious bahn mi sandwiches made from the cutest little Vietnamese man you ever did see. Sophie ran into her friend Naraiah and they played for a bit by the river. I snapped a few pics that I’m sharing today. Happy Sunday!

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So, what do you love about YOUR hometown?

I’d love to know.

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Filed under My Life Thus Far, Sunday Kind Of Love, Whimsy

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I absolutely hate that I am writing this post. I think we are all still stunned from the Boston bombings on Monday. At least I know I am. Then last night happened. A factory in the town of West, TX exploded. I am sure you have seen it all over the news by now. I live in Waco which is about 15 minutes south of West. This happened to my community.

I sat last night watching images of the mushroom cloud, listening to the evacuation centers be listed  and seeing tragedy in my  own community. Ironic how I talked about running in my own backyard a few days ago. Footage of injured and debris were crossing the screen, my phone was ringing, and my Facebook feed was littered with posts of people I know trying to contact friends and relatives near the blast sight. Didn’t this just happen a few days ago in Boston? Dear God. The entire world seems to be on fire.

I have had that feeling several times in my life.

The world was on fire when I was in 5th grade and the tragedy happened at the Branch Davidian compound outside of Waco. Again in my own back yard.

The world was on fire when I was in high school and the Columbine shooting happened. It seems like that fire is still going…

The world was on fire on September 11th when I was a sophomore in college and the whole world shook. My dad was on the border of Pakistan and Afganistan when it happened. He was there for 11 weeks providing pastoral support for those involved with the issue of two American women imprisoned by the Taliban.

The world was on fire with disasters like the tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti to name a few.

The world was on fire when I dropped my daughter off at kindergarden and came home to see the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook.

The world was on fire this past Monday with the events in Boston.

I know someone whose house was destroyed in the blast last night. My friend Melissa is a chaplin at a local hospital and worked providing care and support to victims and their families. Several other friends of mine are ER nurses in area hospitals helping treat the wounded. So many people came out to help they had to be turned away. I love this community. We are all in this together.

Our church opened up it’s doors along with many others to house those whose homes are gone. We have been serving coffee and breakfast to those in the hospital waiting rooms and those who are on the ground in West. Churches are gathering together to provide shelter , practical needs, and support for our community. The Church serves because we are all in this together.

Baylor students are putting together care packages with toiletries and other necessitites. Hardware stores in our area opened up last night in case anyone needed building materials or supplies. Restaurants are donating food to responders.They rallied because we are all in this together.

A man I saw interviewed had pulled 16 people from a nursing home destroyed from the blast. Many of them elderly who were unable to leave their beds and were covered with debris and fallen ceiling materials. He was one of many who ran into the danger to help. He ran because we are all in this together.

Despite the danger and heartache, we are all in this together. The world may be on fire, but we are all doing our part to help. To everyone in the Waco area who has been up all night trying to find survivors and help victims, thank you. To everyone who has been praying around the world, thank you.

The world is full of chaos. Tragedy, disaster, loss and unthinkable violence sometimes. But in the middle of it all is a God who can hold the mess together and comfort those who have suffered unimaginable loss.

So, maybe you are sitting here like me. Watching the world burn in front of you. Maybe you are wondering as I am exactly how things like this can keep happening. Wildfires of violence, natural disaster and political unrest.

What do we do when the world is on fire? We help put it out together. And we pray for Rain.

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and so I ran

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Welcome to week 4 of my series on fear. I had no idea when I started My Intangible Cage series a few weeks ago all the fearful things that would be going on these past few weeks. North Korea threatening nuclear war, numerous shootings, and discovering that the mother of a girl in my daughter’s kindergarten class has cancer. Then yesterday there were bombings at the Boston Marathon.

What do you do with that kind of news? Most of my day yesterday was spent thinking about the situation in Boston. One of my good friends ran the marathon last year and several others were there watching this year.

I was preparing dinner and struggling with a heavy heart. The news was reporting stories of marathoners who finished the race and ran to the hospital to give blood. Other doctors were sharing about amputating the legs of runners who were still wearing their numbers from the marathon. And then the news of the 8 year old boy who died waiting for his dad to cross the finish line.

I choked back the tears, but not tears of fearful distress. Tears of determination. A determination that I won’t be shut down & humanity will not live in defeat. We will be sad and we will grieve, but we will not live in fear.

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I’m not sure why I felt the urge so strongly, but I felt the need to run. I am NOT a runner, but I tossed dinner in the oven and went to the back yard where my kids were playing. As silly as it sounds, I began to run around the yard. Perhaps it was an act of solidarity & a way to honor those who had been victimized during the race earlier. I am not sure why, but I just ran. And ran. And ran.

My kids asked why I was running like a mad woman. I told them I am running because I am alive and I can. Soon we were all three running through the backyard.

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And so I ran. 

I ran for the people of North Korea who live under a oppresive government and can not move freely as I can.

I ran for the mother of Sophie’s classmate who can not run with her kids in the backyard because she is  recovering from a brain surgery to attempt to remove her cancer. 

I ran for the victims of the Boston marathon bombings.

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This week has not been what I expected and this is not the post I had scheduled to write. However, the discoveries I have made about fear this week have been significant. North Korea, the mother’s cancer, and the bombings have taught me this:

I want to embrace the gifts I have been given and stop fearing what could be taken.

These are not days to spend sulking in our intangible cages and living within bars that are shadows of limitaions. We  cannot believe the lie that our confinement keeps us safe. We can not believe that fear is the responsible response.  Fear is never safe. These aren’t days to remain paralyzed by fear.

These are days to run.

Run the races that God  has marked out for us. Run because life is worth living. Run and have fun taking new ground. Run with determination that we will not be held back. Run with hope that what we are chasing is better than what we are leaving.

Run because you are alive and able. Why do you run?

Fear, I have a destiny & you will not keep me from it. ~ My Intangible Cage motto

 

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sunday kind of love : this vow

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Sunday. The day I share my favorite thing from the past week.

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 Spring is upon us and that can only mean one thing. WEDDINGS. This weekend kicked off the start of wedding season. Last night we were at, you guessed it, a wedding!  The bride and groom wrote their own vows & I was deeply moved by what the bride said.

” I dedicate my life to being an advantage to you…”

How powerful is that concept? What if we all approached our relationships with that goal? To be an advantage to another. I know I’ll be thinking about how to apply this nugget to my nearest & dearest.

Do you love that vow as much as I do???

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