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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Filed under Faith, My Intangible Cage

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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Filed under Beauty, Faith, Sunday Kind Of Love, Whimsy

Your Shoes Are Too Small

I am sick today. ( I will accept get well gifts in the form of Starbucks lattes & cupcakes FYI) So, I am reposting this. One of my Lark & Bloom favorites.
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You have probably heard about foot binding. Its an ancient Chinese practice which involved wrapping a young girls feet so tightly that they were prevented from growing. It wasn’t uncommon for the bones in the feet to break in the process. Often times severe deformities resulted, infections set in and sometimes girls died in the process. The confines of the shoe and bandages created an handicap that women had to live with for the rest of their lives.

So, why am I telling you that your shoes are too small? You are most likely not Chinese & there is a 50/50 chance that you aren’t a woman either. But, I bet your shoes are too small too. How do I know? Because we have big shoes to fill.

Just like little kids feet, we need room to grow. Or we get distorted and walk with a limp. Why are your shoes too small? Because your dreams are meant to grow bigger. God’s calling for your life is meant to increase and the fruit you produce is meant to be abundant. As followers of Jesus, it is our destiny to grow.

If we live in the limitations, fears, and comfortable places of a previous stage then we begin to get ingrown. We believe a lie that we don’t have anywhere important to go anyway. So, who cares what shoes we wear? Our dreams press against our capacity and we feel inverted and confused. We need new shoes for new seasons.

I need to be regularly putting on larger shoes. Making sure that I have room to wiggle my toes and grow into them as God increases in my life. After walking with Him for a while, there won’t be room anymore. On with another pair. More room for dreaming & advancing. More capacity to run in roomy shoes.

We bind our own feet too often. We are afraid to get bigger.

“What if I walk this road alone? I’d rather just wait in this place and grow into these shoes when I get married.”
 “If I walk out, no one will follow me. They won’t trust what I bring to the table.”
“I just got comfortable here. I don’t want anything to change.”
or the ever popular:
“I’m not gifted. I don’t have anything to grow at all. I’m just meant to watch other people do the cool stuff. I observe, others participate.”

Except a funny thing happens. The tissues and fibers of who we are keep expanding anyway. Even when we try and stay in the same old shoes. It begins to get uncomfortable. Following Jesus is irritating because we get blisters. Eventually we just sit down and stop going anywhere. It hurts too bad. The longer we sit the greater our disfunction grows.

And that is where a lot of us are. Sitting on a curb waiting for our feet to stop hurting. Dreams, calling, destiny, capacity…they are all pushing against the boundary begging to be let loose. Risking again on love. Risking again on pain. Risking again to breathe.

And then a fabulous thing happens. When we are rubbing our stubby toes wondering what happened to our lives, Jesus comes. Tells us to stop being so scared. Stop being so comfortable. Stop thinking we can’t walk any further. He puts these enormous shoes before us. The shoes of Heaven that contain limitless power, hope, and destiny. We are terrified to put them on because we know we can’t fill them. Not only that, but our little feet are tiny and tangled.

We forget that Jesus is a healer. He touches the deformities and they straighten. The skin and bones go back into place and the painful sores go away. He puts the too-good-to-be-true shoes on. The kind we dreamed of wearing when we were little children.

Jesus takes our hand and gently walks with us. Helping us as we go. Little feet tripping along in big shoes. Before we know it, our feet begin to grow again. The shoes aren’t so big anymore. Then we begin to run. We remember how fabulous it feels to run. How could we have forgotten the sensation of taking new ground?

Maybe your new shoes look like a relationship. Maybe they look like a new business venture. A move to a distant land. The revival of a dream that has nearly expired. Could be letting go of a fear that has held you back and controlled you. Leaving behind an old identity for a new one…

All of us have new shoes waiting to be worn into fresh ground. Remember, we are meant to be a Church that says ” On earth as it is in Heaven!”. To do that we need Kingdom shoes. Will you risk putting them on?

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Filed under Beauty, Faith, Fire, My Life Thus Far

too much & not enough

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Welcome back to My Intangible Cage series. I really can’t tell you how much I love hearing your feedback from last week’s post. We are on week 3 of this fear series. And today I’m gonna get real vulnerable. Ray LaMontagne is in the background ( well not him, but his music) and that always helps. This whole series has actually been vulnerable, but this particular fear is especially embarrassing for me. It is a fear I have dealt with almost all my adult life. I am afraid of being too much & not enough.

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I am afraid I am too much to handle. I am afraid I am overbearing and my laugh may be annoying. I am afraid I will talk too much or make a joke at the wrong time. I am afraid my issues will be too heavy or my friends will get tired of my problems. What if people grow weary of dealing with my insecurities? I am afraid that my ambitions will be too big and my personality overwhelming. Sometimes I get off the phone and cringe at how strong I came across. What if people  smile and are nice, but are secretly relieved when I walk away? I wish that I could be cute & sweet. But I’m not very good at that. I always end up being intense. I am afraid that people will get tired of me.

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I am afraid that I am not enough. I am afraid that I will disappoint people or be a dud. What if people expect something amazing and I don’t deliver? What if I am the wallflower at the party and get written off as boring? What if I have nothing to add to a conversation & offer no value to an idea? Sometimes I leave a meeting thinking through the things I wish I had said but was too scared to. I am afraid that I will be underwhelming. The girl everyone likes but no one needs. I am afraid that there is nothing significant or memorable about me.

And so, I binge back & forth between “too much” and “not enough”. When I feel overwhelming, I gear down. Soon I am afraid I have backed off too much. Time to jump back in the game. I evaluate my environment to see where I am on the pendulum. I am constantly battling this tension…back & forth I go. Overcompensating for my percieved “too muchness” or “not enoughness”. Can’t come across too strong or too weak…because I am afraid of who I am. 

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The truth is I will never get it just right. Because I am not supposed to. I have flaws. Sometimes I am too much for some people and sometimes I am not enough for others. But so what? Fear robs me of truly sharing my life with others. My friends & family do want to walk with me even through my “too much” days. And they never look at me and see “not enough”. Your friends & family don’t either.

Most importantly, God says we are just right. We are fearfully & wonderfully made. Designed with a specific purpose and a divine composition to accomplish that purpose. He isn’t annoyed with our dreams, hopes, insecurities and weaknesses.

It is time to stop being afraid of who we are & who we are not. I’m going to try to embrace who I am and stop worrying about being intimidating. It is time to silence the voices & lies that accuse us of being “too much” and “not enough”. Time to be bold in the way we accept ourselves. Are you in???

 We won’t be perfect, but we will be honest. God can handle us. He can handle all of us.

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Sunday Kind of Love : Rend Collective

If you love Jesus. If you love Mumford. Then you will love this Irish worship band.

13 Comments

April 7, 2013 · 12:42 pm