Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Things I Know

So, I'm in a time of transition … blah, blah, blah. I'm tired of talking about it (and writing about it) which means you are probably WELL past being tired of hearing about it. I've been a little doom and gloom and mournful over all of this loss and change - which, to a certain extent, in normal. But in the midst of all of the good-byes, I've kind of lost sight of who I am and what is important to me.

I am still a writer. I write everyday. Sometimes its a few words about the end of Friday Night Lights via Netflix (every time I watch that series on Netflix I mourn the final episode like it's the first time) on Twitter. Other times its a note in my kids' lunchbox or a text to a friend who comes to mind. But most days I journal as I read the Bible and sometimes I share those tidbits on Instagram or Facebook. And I am still plugging away on my next book. Writing is important to me. It keeps my mind sharp and curious.  It feeds my soul and awakens my heart.

I am still a wife and a mom. Mr. Awesome rocks my world. I love his humour, his heart for justice and his focus on family. He is my best friend and a gift in more ways than I can say. I get to be his partner and helpmate, as he is mine. Together we get to lead this ragtag band of hooligans known as The Forbes Five. We get to dream, laugh, teach, play and live together. How awesome is that?!

I am still a church-girl. I love church. I love all the crazy, messy, lovely people who gather each week to learn more and love better. I love that I am accepted, that I am one of the crazy, messy lovely people. I love that church gives me lots of opportunity to learn and practice grace, to serve others and to take huge heart risks. I love that I don't have to be perfect to show up. I love that church is family.

I still love people.  People are the most amazing, resilient, bizarre creatures on the planet. I love how every person has a story to tell, that we can learn from each other. I am intrigued by what makes others tick, what awakens their deepest heart dreams and what disappointments they have weathered. I love connecting with folks and hearing their crazy because I have some crazy, too. I love that every soul as a secret place of gentleness and a deep place of untapped possibilities. I love that we are all so unique yet crave sameness in each other. I love that you can know someone for your whole life and still they are a mystery - a beautiful, familiar mystery.

I am a Jesus-girl. I am found. I am free. I am chosen. Some of you readers don't get this, and that's cool, but in this relationship with Jesus I found the deepest sense of peace, belonging and purpose. I know thatHe loves me unconditionally and I trust Him with my everything. Life bites sometimes but I am never, ever alone. I can feel the comfort and strength of Jesus near me even in my darkest times. It is His hope that keeps me moving forward in the midst of loss and heart ache. It is also His joy that swirls around me like a force of nature and causes me to laugh into the stormy winds of life. I am just Jesus' type of girl.

I feel life our life has been tossed up in the air and now we are stuck in a Matrix moment where everything is suspended and we aren't quite sure where everything will land. And although that freaks me out a bit, I know that my feet are firmly placed in my trust in Jesus, I am surrounded by people who love and are willing to be loved, my heart is full of my family and I have words, lots and lots of words, to share.

If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
 — Thomas Alva Edison

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Uniquely Beautiful Together

My mom has several awards of recognition from her professional life. They are these hand blown glass tear-drop things. And she has four. To look at them as individuals they all look the same. Clear, pear-shaped with little air bubbles trapped in their core. But when you line them up, side by side, you can see the inconsistencies.

One is tall and almost a perfect tear-drop but it has more air bubbles than the shorter one beside it that leans slightly. The shortest one is bottom heavy but has the most interesting shaped air bubble right at its core and the fourth one is a perfect cross section of the other three but with three bubbles stacked neatly on top of each other. Individually they all looked the same but lined up together you can see the unique beauty in each of these ornaments.

We are just like these wee drops of glass.

A couple of weeks ago, I stepped out on a limb and applied to be part of my 'friend' Jen Hatmaker's launch team. She has a new book coming out in August (For the Love) and she invited her blog followers to apply to be one of 500 lucky gals who would receive an advance copy of her new book so that they might use their social media presence to promote the pants of her book. I, sadly, was not chosen … and neither were 4500 other Lovelies.

It was disappointing but not earth shatteringly so. I received my consolation prize of four (FABULOUS) sample chapters and was prepared to move on. But then this thing happened. The Unchosen took to twitter and began tweeting with the hashtag #The4500. And then they created a Facebook group. And then more than 400 of the 4500 joined the group. And then we got to know one another. We shared snippets of our own life stories, we shared blogs, we shared our love for Jen. It was awesome!

And then something wanky started to happen. We were all their, beautiful in our own individuality, yet now lined up side by side. The comparison thing started to happen. A few Lovelies felt 'less than' for not being chosen as one of the 500, a few felt "not a funny" as others … not as popular, not as experienced, not as deep. Some felt messy, chaotic and undeserving. Others elevated Jen to an impossible-to-maintain position of greatness (don't get me wrong, love me some Jen Hatmaker but she IS just a regular gal after all).While there was much love in this wee band of Jen fans there was also a lot of insecurity beginning to surface. And just when I was feeling uncomfortable and contemplating stepping out of the group our gal-pal, Jen stepped in.

A couple of days ago Jen popped into the group and tok in some of the threads. Like I said, much of what is one this page is funny, kind, uplifting and community building but there were also some very disappointed folks (me included, I may or may not have consumed more Jolly Ranchers than necessary following the Unchosen email) who were questioning their worth. This is what Jen had to say …

"Morning, friends! We are almost at the 400 member mark! All the feels.
You know what? Let me tell you what you are NOT: You are not the "B Team" or "Junior Varsity" or "the rejects." And you don't have to declare that "you will be heard." You already ARE heard! You are already amazing in your place. Your influence is as strong and powerful as it ever was.
The whole message of For the Love says there is not a better than or less than in our community. WE ARE ALL IN. Honestly? For me, there is really no "launch team" and "the rest of us." We are all on the same team. We really are. We are ALL for grace and community and courage and love. We are all reading parts or all of the book in advance. We are all IN THIS TOGETHER. This is not a tribe of scarcity. There is enough to go around, and every last one of us is ENOUGH.
So no more B Team talk. You are my A TEAM. I adore you! I adore this sweet community forming! I am so grateful for every encouraging, kind, funny thing you have said to me and each other. What a joy you are! Let's stand up together and take our place...love you, sisters!"

And this is why I love her! This is the message of her heart … and it is the message of mine as well.

We have been designed as individuals and the purpose in coming together is not to point out our flaws or short comings but to highlight how uniquely beautiful we each are. Alone we may appear 'just like everyone else' but it's in Together that we see how our individuality compliments the uniqueness in others. We are in this together … we are in Together. Together.

Uniquely beautiful together!

Let’s just say amongst ourselves that we will silence the bossy, mean voice telling us to BE MORE AWESOME and instead we will obey the other nudges, the ones that lead us to love and life and peace and generosity and God and people and rest and gratitude.
~Jen Hatmaker

Monday, March 9, 2015

Empty Spaces

So we've moved … sort of.

We are back in our hometown - at least our bodies and our clothes are. Everything else is still in our house an hour and a half away. We have loose ends all over the place that makes it tough to be settled but we are trying our best. We are awkwardly stumbling through our new routine and making a niche, each of us where we are. In truth, some of us are having an easier time of this than others.

The kids, so far, have hit the ground running. They love their new school. They have each made friends, have joined a variety of extra-curriculars (yes, I am literally living in my van these days!) and are genuinely happy to be here.

Mr. Awesome loves his new job but this new job won't be his for much longer. Last week he was offered a promotion that will take him away from some of the most dangerous parts of his job (yay!) and into the office most of the time. He starts his training in a couple of weeks and he couldn't be happier.

I, on the other hand, have absolutely no plans, no routine and no sense of what I am doing here. I had taken a term position with a not-for-profit but that didn't work out. The job description changed drastically after I started and became something that I didn't enjoy and didn't really have the skill set for. It was disappointing but the director and I parted as friends and I still whole heartedly believe in what they are doing as a foundation. So, that being said, I am here … with nothing to do.

That's not entirely true. I have laundry and bathroom cleaning and kid driving and meal making and coffee drinking but I have no occupation. I have an empty space where my job used to be. I miss writing curriculum, planning object lessons and meeting with my team. I miss teaching my Buddies on Sunday morning and high-fiving my volunteers as the last kidlet walked out the door. I miss that life. I miss having no empty spaces, no moments to spare. I miss the feeling of a full life.

Last Thursday, as I was laundering and coffeing I was also praying, reading my Bible and listening to podcasts. I was looking for answers for The Big Question: What's next? I hadn't been sleeping well and frankly, I was not very pleasant to live with. The not-for-profit job was not going well and I knew I'd have to have a chat with the director soon. I was also having trouble finding my rhythm with the new book I was working on. The outline and concept had come so easily but I had completely stalled out. I was stalled and panicking. And cranky.

This is where I was when I decided to lock myself away in my room, fold mountains of laundry and listen to some Sisterhood podcasts. As I folded and prayed and listened I realized that I was afraid. I was afraid of not having a job description, a title and a purpose. I was afraid that I had thrown away my one chance of being relevant. And then I realized I was being a ridiculous control freak.

The message I teach more than any other is that God sees us, knows us and loves us. His thoughts are always towards us therefore we will never be forgotten. I teach this, I write about this (see my previous blog post) and I do believe this. It's just that I am human and prone to dramatic over reactions in times of uncertainty. I sometimes forget the very truth that God has engraved on my heart. He created me, he chose me for a life with Him and He calls me His very own. He's got this.

So as I stood in my bedroom, folding clothes and weeping, I prayed the prayer that is my mantra, "Lord, make me uncomfortable. Keep me from settling for a life less than your best. Not my will but yours - however that looks." It's a scary prayer, its a humbling prayer and its a prayer of surrender. It's the prayer that reminds me that I'm not in control and, in fact, it's better this way.

I have a lot of empty spaces in my life right now. A lot of holes where busyness and purpose used to fill. Where commitments and obligations fought for top spot. These empty spaces aren't really empty, though. God has reserved them for The Next Thing. He is readying these spaces, and my heart, for whatever comes next and in the mean time I have to remind myself to surrender and to allow God to fill these empty spaces in His way and in His time. I have inklings of what this might be but The How and The When are complete mysteries … and I am choosing, moment by moment, to be okay with that.

But for now and for always I pray ...

Lord, make me uncomfortable.
Keep me from settling for a life less than Your best.
Not my will but yours - however that looks.
Thanks for loving me always.
You are so very good.


Pray prayers that scare what's scared inside you.
~Lisa Bevere