When You Don’t Want to Wait Any Longer

It’s all so magical, the belly-warming glow of the lights juxtaposed with the sparkling winter chill, bells lingering in the air, chimed from towers and bell choirs, scheming up just the perfect gift for children and friends, imagining their faces a million times before they even open the gift: there is so much to love about Advent and the Christmas season.

I think the most reassuring part is the countdown, the knowing when Christmas and presents and family and cider and joy will finally be here. There is stress in the preparation and travel, but there is a knowing: it will be here soon, and it will all be worth it.

I am thankful for the ritual of Advent, to remind us that waiting has an end, that the thing we long for will come if we are faithful.

But I think our adorable Advent calendars with 25 little doors hiding tiny chocolates are a little misleading. Unless it is a pregnancy, a wedding, or the day of school starts or ends, there are rarely clear beginnings and endings to the biggest things in our lives.

We cannot count down until we meet our future husband or wife. We cannot schedule a date on the calendar for when we will finally be done with infertility and celebrate a pregnancy. We cannot put an end date to the painful season of unemployment when no matter how hard we try, nothing is opening. We can’t say of our estranged spouse or child, ‘Well, at least we know they will be home next year.’ Because we don’t know. We just don’t know.

Most of our lives, the crises, the hardships, the sorrows and joys promise no guarantee of beginning or end. We live day by day, just making it through, at times breath to breath, extracting every last ounce of grace to deal with the disappointment that we are not…there…yet.

This is why we need Hope so badly. We are lost without it. We give up on dreams and quit living when we lose our Hope.

The Pessimist, claiming to be a Realist, says, “Because it has not happened yet, it will probably not happen,” to which Hope replies with confidence, “Each day that passes is one day closer to the longing fulfilled.

Hope is not drunk on idealism, envisioning a perfect future and erasing the pain and ache of the waiting. No, Hope is a perspective, a lens through which to view the world.

Hope can co-exist with waiting, and when we wait in Hope and do not let the waiting jade us, then we can move through time and space toward our desire, all the while becoming the person we must become in order to receive it.

Pessimism feeds on the idea that waiting is empty, that time between now and the arrival of The Longed-For Thing is simply finger-tapping, clock-watching and gut-wrenching ache, all the while entertaining the idea of giving up on desire for fear of letdown’s freefall.

But when we choose to feed Hope and return ourselves to the truth of who we are and who God is, we grow the very thing that readies us for the blessing.

The struggle between now and the blessing we long for is the cocoon of hope and faith.

When we wrestle with our doubt and our anger, when we tenderly let ourselves feel our disappointment but keep it in check, always surrendering it beneath the tide of God’s goodness, the struggle ends with us as champion, released from the season of claustrophobic darkness into something we never knew we wanted: a kinder, bendier, more generous version of ourselves.

Sometimes it feels it takes forever, but in the end, we’ve either become the person who is ready to receive the desire-made-manifest, or in all our fighting, we realize what we thought we wanted all along wasn’t really it at all and discover a new longing to pursue. (I have seen this happen again and again with people who were smitten by someone, longing for their love returned, but as they got to know them, they realized this person was not who they thought they were at all.)

This cocoon of waiting is an essential process for our broken human hearts because imagine if we got exactly what we wanted the precise moment we wanted it? What a curse to get your every wish granted at your beck and call.

No, the waiting is full of becoming, of warring, sculpting, shaping. The edges come off, our truest priorities and values surface, our faces and hearts soften.

The waiting is not merely waiting. It is becoming.

This struggle of waiting, or let’s call it becoming now, is not as much about receiving the thing you long for as it is about engaging with the ache and letting it shape you, letting yourself grow all the stronger and wiser for having trudged this path or wrestled this giant.

So in this New Year, let us not discuss amongst ourselves or our friends what we are waiting for, but who we are becoming as a result of the waiting. Let us not move through life, mired in resentment and disappointment without allowing the wrestling between Now and Then to beautify and enrich us.

Let’s not simply wait, my friends. Let’s Become.

Happy Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Becoming.

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How To Know The Story’s Not Over

I am the most ridiculous person to watch a movie with. I get so wrapped up in the character’s lives, I don’t even know where I am. I make friends with the hero and heroine. I laugh when they laugh. I cry when they cry. Their story is mine too.

When I was 16, my friend and I went to the second Scream movie in the theater. At some point, the bad guy crashes a police car in an alleyway, and our heroes have to climb over him to get out of the car.

They were doomed. Since I was now in the story too, we were doomed. I was frozen in fear. Well, almost frozen. In fact, I had lost myself so completely in the moment, I was getting out of my seat and starting to climb over the theater seat in front of me.

Somehow I reoriented myself to the moment, and there I was, standing and clutching the seat in front of me. Because as soon as Neve Campbell’s character climbed over the seat, it was my turn. Or so I thought.

Embarrassed, I slunk down into my chair, grateful to discover plush leather beneath my behind, and no murderers in sight.

Yes, it’s bad. My reality testing is nil in the midst of a good suspense flick. And as you might expect, I’ve completely nixed horror from my entertainment roster.

Getting involved with the lives of movie characters is easy for me. It’s easy to fear a terrible ending, even if someone already told me how the story goes.

Sometimes I watch a movie for the second or third time, and although I know what’s coming, the suspense always gets me for a little while. But that second time, I have the upper hand. I know something the characters don’t know. I know the end of the story.

I find myself in the character’s darkest hour, and I’m scared right with them. But I hunker on down and whisper to myself how the end really goes. That this moment of betrayal and death is not the end. The end is, in fact, redemption and hope and life. And hopefully love.

In real life, it’s worse than a movie because we can’t just leave. We can’t get a refund from the theater. We can’t walk out at the scary parts. We have to stay. And God, sometimes I just want to run. Ya know?

But we can’t. We have to keep our feet on the earth and put one of those terrified feet in front of the other one and face our fears, one at a time. I don’t ever want to.

But I can because in this story of Life, just like a movie watched for a second time, I have an advantage. 

I know the end of the story.

Right now, when the darkness is dark and it feels like it’s closing in around us, coming in to choke us at the throat and snuff out our tiny lights, I’m telling you, this is not the end of the story.

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You don’t know it? Well, let me just spoil it: the good guy comes back for the girl and the bad guy dies. Dead. A bloody glorious ending. The actors: Jesus, as the good guy. The church, me and you, as the girl. And the bad guy, well, he will go uncredited.

The story we Christians tell is no fairytale. I wish it was. Between the news and the Scriptures, it’s easy to conclude creation is made more of guts and gore then glory. But he gave us a preview, a foretelling of future history. It’s right there at the end of the book, in Revelation.

Before it gets good, it gets strangely dark. Even in heaven, God’s people ask, “How long are you going to wait to act, Lord?” But he does. He moves heavens and earth. He comes down kicking in doors, Liam Neeson-style, and with expert aim, nothing will stop his reunion with his loved ones.

But some of us in the church have forgotten how the story ends. We look around and we see the grand theater of the world playing out before us, and it looks in the moment before the climax as if the bad guy is surely going to win. It looks as if the good guy is down for the count. He isn’t strong enough. He’s not in the game anymore.

Satan wants us to think he’s already won, because then we will stop praying and instead accept doom or prophesy judgment. He wants us to think that God wants it to go badly for America. And for the world. He wants us to lose hope so we will begin predicting our own downfall.

But God never wants to judge. His judgment is only for a moment but his mercy last forever. Mercy is always his preference. But it is the praying church that releases God’s mercy.

1 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray…I will turn and forgive and heal their land.” He’s not talking about all the people who don’t know him yet. He’s talking about us, his people. The ones who wear his name. His adopted kids. Me and you.

We are the ones who can pray and bring healing. It’s our humility and prayer, our turning from patterns and routines that separate us from God, that will open the door for him to respond with healing and restoration for our nation and world.

But in order to even pray first, we have to believe God still wants this healing. And in order to believe, we have to know the story. The end of the story. We have to know that redemption and restoration are not just wishes. They are future history.

We, my friends, are the lights, the Hope Bringers. We are the Salt, the preservation and flavor. 

It’s time to stop getting defeated by our bad predictions and assumptions about ourselves and God. He wants our good. He has a hope and future for us. We just have to believe we know how the story ends, and then we have to ask for the good things now. We have to turn around toward him to get the mercy we want. We have to believe he wants to give it. Because he does.

So, my friends, when it’s good and especially when it’s bad, when it’s really freaking horrible out there, and you want to give up because you just cannot go on any longer like this, that’s when you know you have to keep going. Because as long as the bad guy still looks like he’s strong, as long as the victory score is not playing loud from heaven, as long as God’s love alchemy is not stretched from sky to earth, then you can be sure: the story is not over. 

Keep praying. Keep dreaming. Keep risking. Keep adventuring. Keep hoping. I’m in it with you.

Need more inspiration and encouragement these days? Me too. I’ll be bringing it your way. Sign up here so you don’t miss it.

It’s Always Opposite Day In Hell

I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while, but hell was beating me up. Just like it’s been beating you up. I finally got ahead in the past several days, but I am tired. It is 2:00 in the morning as I write today, the first time I’ve been simultaneously awake, coherent and motivated enough to get the words out.

I want you to know what’s going on in the world, and why it feels so bad right now. Why you can barely take a breath without anxiety clutching the air out of your lungs. Why despair and depression are clouds over each of us, seeming to form one giant rain cloud none of us can escape.

For weeks I read the news – this was my first mistake – and each story of terror and fear fell around me like prison bars of horror, trapping me inside my mind. I tried to escape, but the images, the anxiety, lurked around every corner, every empty moment where my mind wandered.

But ten days ago, something shifted for me when I sneaked into an old Catholic church and read the mass of the day. God knew I was coming, and he met me there.

Something shifted again when I finally told my friends and my husband what was going on inside my head. How horrible I felt every day. I had an epiphany, just from talking, and relief swept in.

And then again, more breakthrough flooded my soul when I sought counsel and prayer from a woman who could lead me straight to God when I could no longer find him.

I want you to know what is going on so you can find the real God too. I want you to have the upper hand in the battle for your peace, your security, your hope and faith.

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First, you must know it is always Opposite Day in hell. Whatever God wants to do in heaven, Satan directly opposes by releasing the opposite. That’s because Satan cannot create anything new – he can only distort the good God has already made. Here’s what that looks and feels like in our lives:

  • When God is about to give you breakthrough, Satan throws up a wall so you feel like you will be stuck forever. You may have been fighting this fight for months or even years, but right before you’re about to crash through to the glorious other side, it will always feel hardest. The moment you want to give up most is the moment you MUST keep going.
  • If you find yourself fighting anxiety and fear all the time, or just at certain times, it’s because God wants you to walk in a divine level of peace and confidence. It is likely that you have the gift of faith that Satan wants to snuff out because he knows the effectiveness you would live with should you live with this faith.
  • The joy of the Lord is our strength, the Bible tell us, but depression renders us weak and feeble. In despair, we feel joy is a liar. But joy is contagious and brings great healing to you and to others.

The reason we don’t receive the hope, joy, peace and confidence at any given point is because when Satan gets to us first, we tend to agree with him. The despair and fear sidle up to us like trusted friends, and we grow wary of this cheerfully optimistic God. We assume he is powerless or blind to stop the pain in the world because otherwise, he would not be acting like everything is okay.

The truth is that we cannot be both hopeless and hopeful, both anxious and trusting. We cannot possess both fear and peace.

A room can only be light or dark. Darkness is the absence of light, and once light comes in, darkness is no longer there. But in our hearts, we have to hand over the darkness. We have to invite in light. Truth.

You do not have because you do not ask, Jesus said. And so we must ask. Boldly.

If you want peace, you have to hand Jesus your fear and anxiety, and ask for peace and faith.

If you want hope, you have to hand Jesus your despair and ask for hope.

The most important thing to know about hell’s Opposite Day is this: If you struggle with a certain thing, it’s because part of your calling and destiny is to release the opposite into the world. 

It doesn’t matter how bad your fear or despair, lust, loneliness or compulsion is, these are not evidence of how messed up and hopeless you are. These are actually signs of what your calling is. Your fear means you are to carry great peace. Your lust or addiction problem, which are both a form of distorted worship, means you have a calling for purity and worship.

So what’s tripping you up? Instead of asking God to just take away your addiction or your fear, thank him for your calling to release the opposite into the world. Then hand over your distorted, dark version and let him give you the beautiful torch you were meant to carry. 

If you want to get your world rocked a little more with God’s perspective, I want to introduce you to Bob Hartley, one of God’s greatest messengers of hope in our time. I resonate with him so much. Read this article about God’s hope for the United States, and other nations in the earth.

 

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{God is speaking during this wild time in our world’s history. I have more to say on this, and I will be sharing it in the next few weeks. I want you to know what is going on. Pray and let him speak to you. But also join me as we learn to live with hope and courage together.

Subscribe to the blog today, and I’ll send you two FREE eBooks to help you do just that.}

For The Days You Want To Give Up On The Dream

Every few months I hit a wall in my writing. In my dreaming. I just want to quit. I want to quit bad.

I don’t want to get up early or stay up late. I don’t want to prop up my laptop on my lap and pound out the thoughts, whatever they are.

I don’t want to keep telling you to hang on to hope with might and courage because I can’t even do it myself.

I grow discouraged and angry and tired and bored, and I start looking for other work. Something, anything to break up the monotony.

It’s a fog, a haze, and I can’t tell what starts it, or what will get me out. It seems like a lack of momentum mixed with disappointment. It’s the result of my Circumstance Assessment, looking about and surveying my life. And the cranky life Surveyors come back with the diagnosis: Your Life Sucks.

Then it elaborates: Something is not enough, you are not enough, there is not enough room out here for you. People are not waiting to hear from you. You could quit, and it wouldn’t matter that much. Just because no one is paying attention.

And I do feel like I could quit, and my not-quite-200 blog subscribers and a handful of Twitter followers would blink and miss me, but there would be someone new coming along, someone else with the verve and bits of wisdom I’ve accumulated. And maybe they wouldn’t get as burned out as I do as often as I do. So they will be the next thing.

But I can’t give up. I can’t stay given-up for long, anyway. I always get back on this stupid horse that I sort of hate today because  I can’t do anything else. I was made for this.

If no one read, I would still write. This messages, these letters making words making ideas making change, they are all trapped up in my body. And like the old prophet, Jeremiah, felt, “These words are burning a hole in my chest. I cannot keep them in.”

And like the old prophet, Jeremiah, felt, “These words are burning a hole in my chest. I cannot keep them in.”

Yup, that’s what it’s like Jeremiah. Carrying the hot, intense words of my life message around in my gut, spinning a storm in my head. And they must come out.

Yea, it feels like this a lot of the time. (Click for credit.)

But also, I don’t quit because we always quit too soon. And I know that.

I remember when I labored for hours and hours – and it felt days and years – for my first son. And toward the end, I didn’t know it was the end, and as I groaned and ached, I remember thinking to myself these words, “If I am not making progress, they are going to have to cut this child out of me or sedate me until Wednesday.” It was Sunday.

But the pain, the agony, the I-can’t-keep-going-like-this-anymore feeling is the feeling we get before breakthrough. It’s the moment we hit the wall. But breakthrough isn’t breakthrough unless we first hit something we have to break through. Right? So hitting a wall is actually a sign of progress.

I know this now, and I don’t give up so easy anymore. Even today. Even when it’s hard. Even when I’m discouraged and bored and all the things, I’m going to keep going because I was made for this, and because I know breakthrough of some kind is on it’s way. I can tell by the wall I’m hitting here.

What keeps you going when you’re hitting a wall? What keeps you from giving up? Share your tricks with me. I need all the help I can get. 

What Are You Doing With Your Life?

In the last year of high school, I remember the feeling that this was the season of life I would finally find myself. Cause that’s what you do in your twenties, right? Finally free of my parents’ restrictions and mandated class attendance, I’d finally be able to answer two plaguing questions: Who am I? and Why am I here?

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I didn’t really know what the path to finding myself looked like, or how I would know when I got there, but I assumed it would feel like things fit. Afraid of missing out on all the exciting careers I could spend my life in, I tried on majors like prom dresses.

There was so much pressure. How was I, a 19 year old, supposed to figure out THE ONE JOB I would do for the rest of my life? After all, that’s what a calling was, right? A job I would do until I was 80 or something? This was not something I could afford to screw up.

One afternoon in my third year of college, doubts about my purpose and calling bubbled to the surface again. At my friend’s joking suggestion, I scribbled down several majors on scrap paper, threw them in a cereal bowl and then drew them out one by one.

I must’ve picked social work because two and a half years later, I walked a university stage in a graduation gown and received my diploma: a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. To the chagrin of my parents and my bank account, it took five years, four majors and two schools to finally earn that degree.

In my last year of college, though, confusion struck again when I was offered a one-year internship in full-time ministry. Maybe ministry was my calling? I thought to myself. I raised financial support and tried out a stint as a “professional Christian”, but it didn’t resonate.

So back to social work I went. This time, I felt like I finally found my niche. I felt energized by connecting people with resources they needed and helping my clients discover their true value.

I wanted to be equipped to help people even more, so I went back for a Master’s and dove headlong into my goal of becoming a licensed therapist. I felt alive when helped people get healed and live a life full of purpose.

But then I turned 30. I realized I didn’t want to be a therapist at all. Seeing eight clients a day, back to back, trying to help them want to get better when they really weren’t ready to commit. The small amounts of therapy I did taught me I was a better coach than a therapist.

I was miserable. The past several years of my life had been focused on becoming a professional counselor, and now I wanted nothing to do with it. I was lost. It was back to the drawing board with my life mission.

Around the same time, a pastor I knew suggested I write a personal mission statement. I didn’t know how. I was terrified again, afraid to commit to those words, to confine my life and breath to one sentence.

I reached back into my history for common threads, things I knew I loved. I knew that orphans, people with no families, broke my heart. I knew I wanted to inspire people to discover their worth and value. So I wrestled and fought and finally wrote something down. In pencil, of course, just in case I never needed to change it. It went like this:

“I exist to introduce orphaned hearts to the Father and to motivate and inspire people to be who they are in God.”

Simple enough, but it gave me some direction.

About a year later, I finally owned a new dream, this time to be a writer and communicator full time. This goal fell neatly within my personal mission statement, which was a relief. I didn’t have to change it. Not yet anyway.

But I didn’t really know what to write about. So that was a problem.

A few months later, almost exactly one year ago, a book idea came. It’s called Dream or Die.

Dream or Die is designed to help people understand the value of dreams and how to recover and pursue the dreams in their own hearts. I’m still writing that book – it’s taking longer than I anticipated because during the writing process, I had to take a detour.

I learned while pursuing dreams is important, discovering and living our calling is even more important. Calling is the thread that ties the dreams together. The calling is what we do in the in-between, the gaps between the climatic dream moments in our lives.

I wrestled with God once again over how to define this strange and oft-misunderstood word: calling. Finally I got an answer: resonance.

We naturally resonate with certain people and hobbies and philosophies. We resonate with certain work, certain activities over others. Maybe there was something here.

I wanted people to know their callings, to be able to define the meaning of their lives, their purpose, with clarity and confidence. What if I could help them do that? What if it was related to resonance?

I thought about certain actions I resonated most with, and how those verbs always found their way into my education and work: connecting, educating, inspiring, communicating, nurturing. Then I took a big leap and made a statement of those words, my own personal mission statement:

“I am a woman who connects people to one another, communicates through writing and speaking to educate and inspire, and who seeks to nurture the dreams, gifts and callings in those around me.”
 

This felt right, true. And it passed the calling test: this statement was something I could do any time, anywhere, in any role. My roles and assignments will change often, but this was the part of me that wouldn’t change.

Relief.

I crafted Called To Come Alive as a workbook with this theory of resonance in mind. I sent the book to a few people in my circle of influence to see if they had the clarifying experience that I had. They wrote back that they did.

The book was ready. Ready for you.

And here it is.

So today, Friday, July 11, the book is available for free download right here – no subscription necessary. I only ask that you share it with a friend. Think you can do that?

After today, Called To Come Alive will be a free gift for subscribers for the month of July. Starting in August, it will be available for purchase for $9.97.

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CLICK THE BOOK FOR YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD. OFFER ONLY AVAILABLE JULY 11, 2014.

 

Click the book image above, and it will take you right to the book for your downloading and reading pleasure. 🙂

Book details:

  • Called To Come Alive is free today, July 11 – no subscription or payment necessary. If you would like to subscribe, you get Called To Come Alive free, as well as my inspirational eBook, My Birthright For Soup.
  • Called To Come Alive is an interactive eBook, which basically means you will get more out of it if you answer the questions and have fun with the activities.
  • This eBook is in PDF format, and you can read as a PDF or you can open it in Kindle and read it that way, if it’s easier. (That’s what I like to do.)
  • Right now the book is only available in digital format, but based on demand, I may offer paper copes later.
  • If you want to write in the book, the best way to do that is to print it out on your home computer and get yourself a paper copy.
  • This book can be done individually or in a group setting.
    • Some people are already using this book in a small group format. If you do that and need additional help or materials, such as a facilitator guide, please let me know so I can work on developing that.
  • Visit the book’s page for more information.

Did you pick up a copy of Called To Come Alive today? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to say hello and give you a big THANKS!

Let’s Talk About Your Calling

Let’s talk about your calling. Let’s talk about the fact that you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. You go through your life, and you wonder if this is it, or that, but you don’t know for sure.

Or maybe you do know what you’re supposed to be doing, a dream or a divine assignment, but you’re running. You’re heading 100 miles an hour in the opposite direction of the thing because you’re scared. Of rejection. Of failure. Of getting it wrong. 

You are so scared of getting it wrong. Because then you’ll be on The Wrong Path and how will you ever get yourself back? Maybe you’ll miss everything: your future partner and your life’s work, and you’ll end up homeless in a ditch somewhere. Or maybe not in a ditch but worse, in a grocery store deli on your lunch break from your cubicle universe.

As long as you never follow what might be your calling, you’ll never be wrong, not really. But this life without risk is boring.

And you are so bored. Because coloring inside the lines fear draws for you is safe, but it’s not what you were made for. You know that, don’t you?

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When you were younger, you thought life would have more highs, more energy, more meaning. And now you are just paying bills and driving around and showing up at work.

When you hear Jon Foreman sing his old song, “You were meant to live for so much more,” you cry or your heart sinks because you know it’s true. If only you knew what it was. If only you weren’t so bored and scared and angry.

You tell yourself it’s not fear. It’s other people. It’s all these obligations you have going on right now. You can’t just quit your life.

You tell yourself you will follow the dream, later, when the kids are grown, when you have more education and more time and more money.

For now, you console yourself, you have to sacrifice. You have to pay your dues. Your parents told you it would be hard, it wouldn’t be fun. It is hard and it isn’t fun. But you have to put your Big Kid Pants on. You just wish you didn’t feel like you were dying while you did it.

But what if you could come alive now? What if the things you were made to do were right there in front of you, and you could do them now? What if you didn’t have to wait?

What if you could define your calling, really own it, and stop waiting to live?

A little over a year ago, this was me, bored, scared and angry, blaming everyone but myself for my misery. Then I asked myself two hard questions, and it boiled down to this:

1. What do you want to do before you die? 

2. Why aren’t you doing it? 

The answers were painful, but they led me on a journey of digging myself out of regret and blaming other people for my condition. And so I started the journey off the island of self-pity toward owning my life and taking responsibility for my calling and dreams, realizing they were gifts from God to be nurtured, not ignored.

As I started to write about dreams and how to get them back, I realized there was a more pressing question plaguing each of us: Why am I here? 

I fought with this question because I knew we all wrestle with it. If I had this problem, I figured others did.

Here’s what I learned about calling over the past year:

1. Your calling is the answer to the question, ‘Why am I here?‘.

2. Living according to your design, in your calling, will make you come alive.

3. You can live your calling in every day life. You don’t have to wait.

I wanted to give you the clarity I gained for myself as I struggled with this so I created this simple, interactive eBook, Called To Come Alive.

Do you know the answer to the question, Why am I here? I want to help you find that answer.

So I have a crazy idea: what if you could bravely distill your entire existence down to a single statement? What if you could create an elevator pitch for yourself, something to motivate and remind yourself about your design and what makes you come alive? And what if you knew how to live that out in your daily life?

That’s what Called To Come Alive is all about. This eBook is designed to take you through a process that will help you uncover what most energizes and inspires you. Even if you start the book completely confused about your calling, in just an hour or so, you will:CTCA3dCover3

        • Discover what you’re already doing in your life that makes you come alive
        • Develop a personal mission statement
        • Define how to live out your design and mission in your everyday life.

I am releasing this book only to subscribers, people who want to join with me in committing to living with courage and intention, fully alive. If that’s you, this is your community. We are your people. 

Called To Come Alive will be officially released on Friday, July 11. If you want in, if you want to discover your purpose and live alive, this book is for you. 

Sign up right here. You can’t buy Called To Come Alive yet, and right now, you don’t have to. I want to give it to you as a gift.

So come join me. Let’s live with purpose, on purpose. Energized, inspired. Let’s live life alive. 

Sometimes We Forget This Is The Life We Wanted

A dream fulfilled is a tree of life, they say. But they forgot to mention it can be a burden too.

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I am pregnant with a dream fulfilled. A little boy, our second child. There are three and a half years between our kids, but we didn’t plan it that way. I expected our second to come sooner, but it didn’t happen like that.

Waiting and praying for the first child used up all my hope vitamins. I wrestled with faith and cynicism for nearly a year, but it wasn’t one year. It was ten months, ten disappointments before we saw two lines.

By the time we wanted our second child, I didn’t have the energy for hope. I prayed a few prayers. Tried to care. Tried not to care. But the longing from our first child traumatized me. I was afraid to dream, afraid to hope, even though I came out here and said brave things sometimes. But I was never brave.

Then in the midst of my half-hope, half-doubt, we found out we were expecting. I didn’t do anything fancy to get this kid, not like the last one. I didn’t pray as much, cry as much, yell as much. He just came, a surprise, and I felt like I didn’t deserve him.

A few weeks into the pregnancy, I thought we were going to lose him. But we didn’t. For whatever reason, life hung on and grew inside me. There was sickness in the early days, but there was always joy. And gratitude. And then the second trimester, when symptoms subsided and the pregnancy was enjoyable.

Now I am days from delivering, or at least days from the due date, and I am wide and cranky and tired. I have chubby feet and a separating midsection. I feel awkward and uncomfortable in my skin, and I know there will be much rehabilitation for this body to return to normal post-birth.

All the discomfort was enough to make me forget how overwhelmed with joy I felt when we first learned of this second child. I couldn’t believe my body could do it, had done it, again. My son would have a sibling. There would be four of us. Finally.

I longed with barely any bravery for this child, and when he first came into existence, I reveled at the news. But the past few weeks, carrying this long-awaited dream feels burdensome, like I just want this part to be over. Today, I remembered how I prayed with fear and doubt for him before he was even a dividing cell, how we fought for him when we thought he might be slipping away early in the pregnancy.

Today I reminded myself, despite the aching body, extra wobbly bits and a waddling gait, I fought for this. I wanted this. I knew all this discomfort was part of the deal, and I wanted it anyway. I wanted to carry this dream with my body, to make this exact sacrifice.

So here’s what I’ll be telling myself: no more whining. Put the kibosh on the complaints. Your life is growing another life, right inside you, and this is exactly what you wanted. You are growing and nourishing the dream, this time a human, and even though it feels burdensome today, there will be plenty of joy to go around any day now.

Have you longed for something for a season, only to feel burdened by its arrival later? Share your experience in the Comments below.

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 If you’re not a subscriber yet, click here to subscribe, and I will send you my free inspirational eBook, My Birthright For Soup, as well as Called To Come Alive as soon as it comes out. Thank you for reading!}

 

 

Do You Know What Makes You Come Alive?

I used to believe the moment my dreams came true, life would switch into a special filter. I could see the footage play in my mind, complete with a soundtrack and appropriately-timed slow motion. My own personal Chariots of Fire beach scene. 

My dream sequence [Click for photo credit]
My dream sequence [Click for photo credit]
But I was only setting myself up for a giant letdown.

It turns out, dreams don’t happen on pretty film. They happen in rugged real life. 

Maybe the realization of your dream will impact you and the world in a cosmic way. For the better. On behalf of the rest of us, I certainly hope so. But that picture in your mind of the dream “coming true”, the moment you know you can stop pinching yourself, yea, that’s just a moment in time. It’s a split-second snapshot. And real life is waiting all around you. 

A few years ago, my friend, another aspiring author, shared her dream with me about moving to Portland. She pictured herself cozy in a window seat, staring out into the rainy fog. A cup of coffee sat perched near her while she easily, dreamily wrote her book. 

I could relate to that moment, and I’d had a similar one myself. But instead of heartwarming encouragement, something else came out of my mouth. I told her that was just a picture of her life at that time, but what she couldn’t see was the real life all around her, the rent she was late on or the fact that maybe, her car wouldn’t start that morning. 

It’s not that her dream was bad, or she should abandon it, but a dream realized is rarely the moment in which our problems cease. We are not whisked from real life from that point forward. But we expect to be, and this leads to devastating disappointment for most of us.   

What’s the powerful image that’s captured your imagination, your dream? Maybe it’s the ground-breaking ceremony for a new orphanage or the moment you get your credit card statement containing only zeroes in the balance. Maybe it’s cuddling your newborn for the first time after years of infertility. It might be hoisting the trophy above your head after winning the state championship or after hundreds of publisher rejections, finally seeing your name in print on a book. 

You can see, taste, smell, feel the moments, can’t you? The emotion is all there. It’s a climactic moment of your life, as author Donald Miller refers to it in his book, Storyline, a pinnacle in your story. You should absolutely aspire to it. 

But the dream moment is not an end in itself. If you stay alive after it happens, and I hope you do, the dream is only part of the story, one of many climactic moments in a series. 

Donald Miller described his first year after being a published author as one of the most depressing in his life. He didn’t know what to do after one of his life’s greatest dreams struck reality. He knew his dream, but he didn’t know his calling. What made him come alive.

That’s the problem – most of us don’t.

After we break ground on a dream, we don’t have new dreams to pursue because we don’t know our callings. We don’t know why we are here. We live for the big moments and when they pass, we discover we’ve never known why we exist. 

It turns out, right after the biggest moment of our lives, after the ribbon-cutting at the new building or tucking in our long-awaited baby, we will still need to clean the dishes, pay the gas and electric and show up for work. 

Dreams don’t make us super-human or fulfill our deepest longings in the way we hope they will. Published authors and Super Bowl winners all need to wake up and brush their teeth. Because after the climax, comes the normal, the mundane. And in these times, those who know their calling will relish the win while knowing there is more to them than one, spectacular moment – because they know who they are. But for those who confuse a dream with a calling, they’re in for a letdown.

Do you know your calling, your “What Makes Me Come Alive” statement? Do you know why you get up every day in between the climactic moments?  If not, or you’re not sure, I want to help you figure it out. I’m finishing a short, interactive eBook, Called To Come Alive, to help you discover and define your personal calling, and I will release it for FREE to subscribers in the next two weeks. I’m so excited about this book because it’s short but powerful, and I believe it will help you be able to clearly identify what makes you come alive in your every day life.

Click here for your FREE eBook
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{If you’re already a subscriber, don’t change a thing. I will send you a link for Called To Come Alive as soon as it goes out. If you’re not a subscriber yet, click here to subscribe, and today I will send you my free inspirational eBook, My Birthright For Soup, as well as Called To Come Alive as soon as it comes out. Thank you for reading!}

Your Lent Is My Advent

When Bourbon Street woke up Wednesday morning, awash in color and liquor, it was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The day we were supposed to begin our preparations for Easter.

Everyone had something to say about Lent, about what we should give up, trade in, or add to our routines. But this year, I couldn’t think of a thing to say about Lent. So I said nothing.

Until I figured out that this Lent doesn’t feel like Lent at all because I am preparing for a coming. This Lent feels like Advent.

During Advent, we quiet down and clear our schedules to observe the waiting days before Jesus’ birth. My son’s birth won’t land during the church calendar’s Advent, but it feels this way nonetheless. The slowing, the quieting, the waiting.

But it’s not all quiet here, and it sure wasn’t as Mary and Joseph prepared for Jesus. There was no painting a nursery. No baby showers. No registries. Just one long, bumpy ride out of her hometown with her future husband to a town they barely knew. (The Bible doesn’t exactly say she rode a donkey, although that’s the tradition. But let’s say she didn’t. That would mean she walked, right? Whether by donkey or on foot, that Mary was hardcore. But we Mamas do what we gotta do.)

So technically the Bible doesn’t say she rode a donkey… [click photo for credit]

 I am not riding a donkey, walking hundreds of miles or taking any sort of long trip with a full-term baby. If I compare myself to Mary, I’ve got it easy. But here in my Advent, there are plenty of obstacles to pass through and obsess over. Between a few health risks, baby currently in breech position and all the headstands I’m doing to turn him, writing regularly and finishing the book, plus coordinating finances and care for our kiddos once our family of three turns into four, there is plenty to agonize over.

And yet, I just don’t have the energy for it. I go to work every day, I take on one project or event at night, and early evening finds me horizontal, unable to prop up my eyelids any longer.

I know my to-do list is a mile long, and if I wanted, I could fret about the big and the small finishing touches I want on my life before #2 arrives. But what I would rather do is slow down, sleep more, enjoy my family just as it is. I want to treasure the last few moments where my John is the only child, where his antics and laughter are the only sounds made by children in my home.

I want him to know I love him like crazy, and I want to take him in. Just as he is, with his still-chubby fingers and his sweet voice and his mispronounced words, his karate chops and bed-jumping and careening down the hall, fists out in front, his Superman cape waving behind. 

I will never again have this time to pay full attention to his three-year old self, to enjoy him and soak him up. And I want to be there for all of it.

It turns out that waiting for something is not just a countdown, an empty space between two points. The waiting is a thing in itself. A season longing for acknowledgement, capable of being loved and appreciated for what it offers, with its own events and rituals.

Waiting is rich indeed.

So if this year, your Lent is really an Advent, or something else entirely, don’t worry about matching your life to the church calendar. Instead, be fully present wherever you are, with whomever is with you. Love them well. Let God love you through them. And live grateful that so much goodness found its way into your life. Isn’t that the point anyway?

My eBook, My Birthright For Soup, is all about choosing hope instead of fear while we wait. And I’m giving it away FREE to subscribers. Click here to join the movement of wildly hopeful people who every day live with dreams and purpose.

We Don’t Need More Reasons To Be Afraid

I don’t watch scary movies. I don’t need to. My life has enough fear and drama. I don’t feel afraid for my safety or anything, but there is plenty of unpredictability and anxiety to go around – I don’t need someone else’s imagined fear adding to it.

For example, two weeks ago, I went to a routine OB appointment. Everything was fine, except I was measuring small. The doctor sent me to ultrasound for another look. Baby looked good during the ultrasound, and the doctor said she wouldn’t call unless there was a problem.

But the next day she called. I braced myself. “His kidneys were dilated…we want to get you seen by a specialist.” My doctor calmly explained the risk factors associated with dilated kidneys, and I scanned her tone to determine how anxious I should get. Then I did my own Google search, which is usually a terrible idea because you know you’re going to find out you’re terminal. But this time it brought me helpful news.

As I browsed the reputable-looking sites, I sought nourishment for the anxiety. But all I found were a handful of risk factors and low probability of catastrophe. Anxiety squelched.

As my appointment with the specialist approached, I knew there was nothing to worry about. My imagination, while quite the thespian, cannot be relied on for any sort of accuracy.

“It’s probably nothing,” I assured myself. “His kidneys are probably normal. I’m sure it was a fluke.”

But at the ultrasound Tuesday, his kidneys had not changed. It was not a fluke. And although he was in head-down position two weeks ago, he was now breech.

I tried to be one of those really calm moms who doesn’t worry too much about things, but I suck at it. I lay there on the ultrasound bed, my chest and muscles tight. The ultrasound tech asked if I was going to be sick. I wasn’t, but I sure failed at giving the “I’m chill” vibe.

The specialist told me his current symptoms did not warrant any changes to the delivery process. They just need to keep an eye on his parts before and after birth. Then she had to go and undo the peace she planted with words like possibility of “reflux”, “blockage”, “infection” and “increased risk of Down Syndrome”, tempered by, “We see these symptoms a lot in little boys.”

So can someone please tell me if I should panic here? 

When we left, I sat in the lobby with Josh and cried giant tears. He handed me his handkerchief, and I forgot to ask if maybe he was scared too. It felt like the doctor just told us our child would be disabled with life-long kidney problems. I figured I would survive it all, but I wouldn’t like it.

The more I thought about it, I discovered new reasons to hold onto peace. After all, risk factors can’t determine future history. They only give an indication of what could be.

And we are all well-acquainted with risk.

[Click photo for credit]
Every day we live on the wire, running risks of car accidents or plane crashes, risks of losing our jobs or health in a matter of seconds. Every night when we go to sleep, we risk our homes being broken into. When we start a new friendship or relationship, we risk our hearts being broken.

Yet we still fly and drive and sleep and date and play.

Why? Because risk is not a predictor. Risk is not fact. If it was, we would all stay home and wait for our own personal apocalypses. We all know risk doesn’t mean a diagnosis, but sometimes it feels like it does. Especially when you’re lying on the table in the doctor’s office. When the news is new, and we feel helpless. That’s when risk can feel like destiny.

Ah, but it’s only risk. It’s possibility. Potential. An educated guess at likelihood. And in my case, although the potential for health issues with my son increased from what I knew a few weeks ago, the risk is still low.

There is no diagnosis. No stamp of doom. Only risk.

In the face of these health risks and the real-life anxiety accompanying it, I am learning to tell myself the truth:

There is still a high risk that my son will be perfectly healthy.

My son is at risk for normal kidney function and a life without disability.

My son is at risk of changing positions from breech to vertex in preparation for a normal delivery.

I am at risk for being a delighted mother to a second baby boy who is perfect in every way.

Those are the biggest, most real risks at stake. And all I can do is celebrate them.

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