WELL + PLENTY Revive

I didn’t realize how long it had been since I blogged… oops! February was a hot minute ago. Well you haven’t missed much. Everything just has been sorta normal and somewhat uneventful… I’ll fill in anything you’ve missed in a bit, but for now we need to talk about the second WELL + PLENTY Mini Retreat Revive!!!

I knew after the first retreat there were a few things I wanted to do differently, well, actually I knew I wanted a different feeling and I was going to try a few things to see if they worked. THEY DID!! After the first retreat I got the feeling everyone was a bit overwhelmed by their lives instead of at ease and hopeful. I think the hope came after a little processing but it wasn’t there when they left my house. They were more stunned. The retreats are meant to be relaxing but also introspective and soul searching to a point. I knew this was the direction I wanted to take it but first time around I didn’t leave enough… space. Enough room for the rest and relaxation. It did scare me a little, I thought I had made something worse instead of better which killed me the first few days, but once the feedback started to come I realized it did what I had prayed it would do just without the space. If that makes sense.

So for this retreat I knew I wanted to give all the space I could while still going deep and doing the soul work. To create that space I left Friday night fairly light. We had dinner and opened gifts. Did an ice breaker and a workshop that showed some deeper issues but made it clear we weren’t dealing or processing them that night but rather we would return to them the next day. I could sense the relief… Then we went into meditation and yoga and ended with coconut cream pies and laughter. Friday was amazing! The ice breaker was new, we didn’t do anything like that last time, it was one of the attendees suggestions and it made a big difference. It was a simple game that in the end show each woman how she was connected to every other person there. Which is a principle of WELL + PLENTY… You are not alone!! The obvious separation between introverts and extroverts was made very apparent here but even the quiet ones pitched in a little. What I heard from one attendee was, “I didn’t want to do it, but I’m so glad I did.” Yep, the ability to quit literally connect to each person made a difference, and the laughter that came from it made a difference as well to the overall lightness of the retreat.

The workshop was new as well. At the first retreat I took the attendees through a pretty deep meditation about discovering there is a wall between you and your soul, your authentic self. And this wall was made up of stones that needed to be named and dealt with if you were ever going to step into your true calling, to find fulfillment and contentment. This exercise was extreme. It was moving and emotional and was incredible but the depth was early in the retreat and while the women were willing, I think it drew them into themselves too quickly, the rest of the retreat was somewhat solo. Doing a light exercise to create a visual for that meditation served to be less emotional but just as revealing. We created a life map. Getting everything we do, have done, or plan on doing down on paper. Then we searched or red flags or stones! Marked them and then left them to be dealt with later. Its something they can look at and monitor where they are at and the progress they have made. Awareness is a superpower, isolation and putting your head in the sand is destruction.

We stayed up till 11:30 ish just talking and laughing and connecting. About 6 people ended up staying the night which was perfect because no one had to share a bed with someone they just met, ideal. The next morning we woke and all had sleepy faces and no makeup. More vulnerable in that moment then the whole night before. But we loved it. Breakfast was beautiful and tasty. After breakfast we crowded around the dining table and began our journey inward with the Enneagram. A personality examination that sheds light on shadows as well as the positives. This gives reason to some of the red flags from the night before. It also gives some tools, your personality isn’t just who you are it is a tool that you can sharpen and use to mend old wrongs and avoid new ones. It gives you respect for yourself and for God, that He created you the way He did. So where the conversation IS heavy, filled with lots of tears, there is so much encouragement and hope by the end of it. Its totally worth it. The women had “AH HA” moments and its a beautiful thing to watch… I had an “AH HA” moment, even the second time around. I think I will every time.

After the Enneagram, I handed out their reminder gifts that serve as something they will see everyday that reminds them of what this weekend meant to them. The progress they made and the encouragement to continue on the path they now know they are on, with purpose and motivation. They also received their print kits.  We skipped yoga because the talk went a little long. While I put lunch together the women were given a small break to read, rest, talk or look through all their gifts. This was unexpected, not planned but a wonderful break after the hard work they did during the Enneagram talk.

We ended on a high with a wonderful lunch and more lighthearted talk. It was the feeling I wanted, at least for me. I could see hope, I could see determination. I could see the personal revival that happened and I could see the shift. All I ever prayed for and God brought it to these women, I feel extremely blessed to be a part of it. I was on a high, extremely tired but so excited.

Later that evening I met back up with a few attendees and we went the Edmond Life.Church Campus together and then headed out for dinner. We recounted the highs of the weekend and just got to know each other even more. By the end of the night all I could do if fall into bed smiling. I got to catch my husband up on the whole thing, speaking about a mile a minute and then I crashed. I think I slept for three days after that, still had to keep my kids alive but I rested so much.

It was a wonderful weekend, if the rest of the retreats were just like that one I’d be over the moon. If you are interested in attending a retreat but you have questions please email me. God wants this experience for you and if it can happen with me I’d be honored.

To those who attended: Thank you, thank you for trusting me, for being brave enough to show up. For opening your fragile hearts to the women around you and diving deep to the root of who you are. For continuing, or for some, starting the process of pulling the authentic you to the surface. You all blessed me, encouraged me and aided in my own healing. Thank you, I love each and every one of you!

God Bless!

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Mental Addictions

This is not a phrase I have used, ever. However, when I asked God to show me my sin a couple weeks ago this is what eventually came up. My sin is mostly controlled on the outside, minus a lost temper or the occasional s-word. I do my best to treat people well and my family better, but I’m not perfect. The main and most frustrating sin happens inside my brain in the form of negative thoughts. What I am calling addictions, which are…

the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. 

… causes severe trauma. What is trauma? According to Psychology Today:

Psychological trauma may set in after a distressing or life-threatening event. Sufferers may develop extreme anxiety or PTSD, or they may have ongoing problems with relationships and self-esteem. But many overcome trauma, offering inspiration to others who have had life-altering negative experiences.

So putting these definitions to work to explain Mental Addictions would look a little like this:

Being enslaved by a mental habit to the extent that there is trauma, a distressing time in which sufferers developed anxiety or other mental side effects that create problems within their own worlds, self-esteems and/or in the reality around them.

A Mental Addiction are comparison, self-deprecating thoughts, assumptions/judgements, worry, doubt, fear, anxiety, bitterness, resentment, manipulation or other mental games. These thoughts embed themselves, with the help of our subconscious into our minds through events both reality and the artificial reality we create. Our minds switch to autopilot and the well-worn pathways are chosen out of habit… addiction, enslaving us and eventually causing great damage. Left unattended these thoughts lead us to depression, panic attacks, withdraw or simply to a place of self-loathing. They effect our lives whether we like to admit it or not. They effect how we see ourselves, others and thus how we let others see us and treat us. They effect our family dynamic and our work experience. They never cease therefore they are linked to every area of our lives.

I find myself daily battling my mental addictions. Mainly comparison which stems from Satan’s lies of not being good enough and not doing enough. If I see anyone with three kids and killing the game of life, I sulk. By the way, ALL the mental addictions stem from Satan’s lies. I guess the goal should be to replace all the lies and negative thoughts with God’s truths and positive thoughts. Once I started to see these thoughts for what they really were, addictions, it changed their hold on me. It changed my awareness of them. All of the sudden I could see them, clear as day. It was like my autopilot became inoperable and I was paying attention to all the thoughts filtering through my mind. I posted one day, “If its good, It’s GOD!” This is where it came from. If the thought inside you head is innately good then it is from God. I tried to focus on the good and not give time or energy to the bad. Slowly I could feel things start to shift.

There was fear too. Lots of fear. That I wasn’t going to understand or be able to implement or hold on to good practices/habits and that eventually the bad would take over again. Or even worse, that my girls, my precious, innocent girls would take on my negative thinking without even trying. Because it is so embedded in me, I knew they would pick up on it. The voice inside my head about how I viewed myself both internally and physically would become the same voice in their heads. NOOOO!!!! I couldn’t let that happen. I want them to grow up with just the right amount of confidence but I have no idea how to do that because I don’t have any myself. Thats where I need to start. Where do I put my confidence? In CHRIST ALONE. Knowing that I am becoming the person he has created me to be, that I am trying my hardest to only live from that place and knowing that I am saying yes to Him and what he is asking of me gives me confidence. Then I have to use willpower and prayer to cancel out and not listen to anything that comes against that.

The first and most important thing to start doing is paying attention. Shut off the autopilot and think about what you are thinking about. When life happens what is your first response? “I could have handled that better! Why was I so stupid? I’m the worst! Life is out to get me! They must hate me! How does she do it all? There must me something wrong with me! Why can’t I just stay focused on what really matters!” On and on and on. You need to see them for what they really are! You need to see them as self-abusive mental addictions. Your inner dialog should sound a little more like this… “I did my best. I handled that well. Even in frustrations I can still find something to be thankful for. God is with me, He never leaves me. The victory is already mine through Christ. He works everything for good for those who love Him. She is a beautiful mom, doing a great job, but we are different so our lives will look different, I have no idea what she is going through on the inside.”

The second thing to do and the hardest part is getting accountability. If you don’t say anything, no one knows and you are all on your own. If you don’t open up to someone and say you are struggling with negative thoughts like x, y, and z then no one will know and no one will help. And when it comes to addictions we usually like them right where they are, in secret. We know, though, in secret is where things fester, in the dark is where things mold. We cannot stay in this place for long, eventually it will take its toll.

Once you hear yourself think something negative try to snap into what the positive at least would be, in the beginning you may not believe it to be true but saying it is taking up brain energy leaving no room to think about the opposite. Writing out the truths or saying them out loud. Spending time with someone willing to open up about their mental addictions so you can encourage each other. There is light, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and that light is Jesus, its never been anything but Jesus.

I pray you become aware, I pray you want to change, I pray you allow yourself to love yourself enough to do something about the self-abusive mental addictions. I pray you let someone in. I pray you address every last lie Satan has embedded into your brain and I pray you reach deep inside, deep into your soul and find who God intended you to be, be her, love her and don’t let any negative thought slow you down from what God is asking you to do!!

Here are some scriptures to help.

Romans 12:2– Do not be conformed to the patterns of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Psalms 119:107– I am greatly afflicted; renew and revive me [giving me life] O Lord, according to your word.

Psalms 51:10– Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right and steadfast spirit within me.

2 Timothy 1:7– For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear but of power and of love and of sound judgement and personal discipline [abilities that result in a well-balanced mind and self-control].

 

W+P Revive Mini Retreat

If you came to the first retreat you might be wondering how this one will be different. I have made a couple shifts in the agenda, the workshop will be different, and if you are returning, I don’t think you need another WELL + PLENTY bar necklace… YES! NEW gifts!! Don’t fret, if it is your first time the necklace will be awaiting you. This will serve as a small incentive to come to all of the retreats, to collect all the amazing gifts! YAY!!

Revive is all about resurrection. Coming ALIVE again with new breath, new perspective and new priorities. We will rest from responsibility, from todo’s, and anything else awaiting you at home or work. This is a time just for you! We need to find the positive definition of selfishness. The time we need to spend on ourselves to stay motivated for what matters, to stay WELL, and to live the abundant… PLENTY life God wants for us.

              EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION $200 FEBRUARY 15-28th!!!!

$250 from MARCH 1-15th.

ENROLLMENT CLOSES MARCH 15th OR WHEN FULL.

ONLY 12 SPOTS AVAILABLE!!

>>$50 deposit needed to reserve your spot, payment needed in full by March 15th. <<

Friday April 13th: Location @ M’leas Home in Edmond

  • 6pm: Arrive for Dinner + Gifts
  • 7pm: Ice Breaker + Workshop
  • 8:30: Restorative Holy Yoga + Meditation
  • 10pm: Dessert + Dismiss

Saturday April 14th:

  • 8am: Arrive for Breakfast
  • 9am: Enneagram + Soul Talk
  • 11: Holy Yoga + Meditation
  • 12:30 Lunch
  • 2pm: Dismiss

Optional but Highly Recommended:

  • 4pm: Life.Church Service at the Edmond Campus
  • 5:30: Dinner At Cafe 501 Edmond (not included in price)

 

Thank you for your interest, thank you for your belief in WELL + PLENTY. Thank you for taking the time to check it all out. I pray, if you feel led to this event, email me and let me know. mleacole.com  

February Self-Care Challenge

There are a couple ways you can do this challenge. If you feel pressed for time, choose one thing from day 1 to do. If you feel as though you are starving for self-care and need as much as you can get do two or all three things each day. The goal is not to overwhelm you but to show yourself love. So if you start to feel overwhelmed, take a day off or pick an easier thing to do that day. Feel free to swap or move days around according to the freedom you have in your schedule and day. You will need a few things to be able to do every thing on each day. They are as follows

  • Journal
  • Colors: crayons, pens, markers, pencils
  • Blank paper
  • Bible
  • Bible app
  • Internet
  • Ingredients for a green smoothing on day 11.
  • Green tea
  • Bright(er) Lipstick

There will be a few that are somewhat vague, that is on purpose. I want you to use your own interpretation, there is no right or wrong way to do these things. If it doesn’t include a length of time, example: turn off your phone, then choose an appropriate time frame you can successfully stick to but also feel the break from. I will probably look over the next days prompts the night before, since they are spread out over the different categories and decide then how I will address them and make a mental note of what is needed.

I hope and pray this challenge creates a new need and love for caring for yourself.

WELL + PLENTY Self-Care Challenge

Physical + Social Self-Care

  • Day 1: Wear your favorite outfit
  • Day 2: Go for a walk outside
  • Day 3: Take a bath
  • Day 4: Get 8 hrs of sleep tonight
  • Day 5: Dance to your fav song
  • Day 6: Laugh https://www.pinterest.com/pin/AZ-HOfQRrMuUvw64XIq2M5rH_V6-A_QPe1yINl0PxbAaKfm4q6ccCyM/
  • Day 7: Try to drink half your weight in ounces of water today.
  • Day 8: Take the time to stretch
  • Day 9: Groom, the WHOLE body
  • Day 10: Try a new physical activity
  • Day 11: Try a green smoothie
  • Day 12: Take in 5 deep breaths
  • Day 13: Declutter or Organize one area of your home.
  • Day 14: Wear bright(er) lipstick.
  • Day 15: Go to bed early tonight
  • Day 16: Light a candle
  • Day 17: Make a fort, just do it.
  • Day 18: Invite a friend over.
  • Day 19: Call someone you love
  • Day 20: Start your day with the hardest task, getting it out of the way can make the rest of the day so much better.
  • Day 21: Clean out your closet
  • Day 22: Buy some flowers
  • Day 23: Draw or doodle
  • Day 24: Wake up at sunrise
  • Day 25: Enjoy some green tea today
  • Day 26: Have coffee with a friend.
  • Day 27: Find your spot in your house, look up Hygge
  • Day 28: Write down your fav ways for Physical Self-Care.

 

Emotional + Mental Self-Care

  • Day 1: Write down 3 fears, counter them with truth.
  • Day 2: Meditate
  • Day 3: Say “I love you” in the mirror: morning, noon and night.
  • Day 4: Send someone some encouragement.
  • Day 5: Attach emotions to color, fill a page.
  • Day 6: Journal
  • Day 7: Read/start a book
  • Day 8: Write yourself a note, filled with sweet wishes for yourself, place it in the console of your car to find later.
  • Day 9: Write down some of your achievements
  • Day 10: Ask 3 people, one word that describes you.
  • Day 11: Watch your favorite Rom/Com. Cry a little or a lot.
  • Day 12: Fill a page w/ gratitude.
  • Day 13: Turn your phone off.
  • Day 14: Find an album with no words that speaks to your soul.
  • Day 15: Give yourself grace
  • Day 16: Find your love language
  • Day 17: Do something that brings you joy.
  • Day 18: Write a love letter
  • Day 19: Draw a family tree, using color to signify level of joy/tension
  • Day 20: Forgive yourself
  • Day 21: Think like an optimist
  • Day 22: Thank someone
  • Day 23: Thank yourself
  • Day 24: Create a playlist
  • Day 25: Listen to your heartbeat
  • Day 26: Find a struggle, take an action step.
  • Day 27: For every 3 hours have 10 minutes of prayer.
  • Day 28:Write down your fav ways for  Emotional/Mental Self-Care.

 

Spiritual Self-Care

  • Day 1: Write down what you actually believe about God, not out of obligation.
  • Day 2: Write down why.
  • Day 3: Memorize 2 Chron. 20:15
  • Day 4: Pray for comfort
  • Day 5: Start the In_Securities Bible Plan.
  • Day 6: Thank God for the outcome of something still unknown.
  • Day 7: Write out your prayers
  • Day 8: Send someone a note, tell them why and how you are praying for them.
  • Day 9: Repeat “I receive God’s love” throughout the day.
  • Day 10: Random act of kindness.
  • Day 11: Listen to a spiritual Podcast.
  • Day 12: Memorize Jerem. 29:11
  • Day 13: Ask for forgiveness
  • Day 14: Pray for wisdom
  • Day 15: Pray for your husband or future husband
  • Day 16: Write out the lyrics to “What a Beautiful Name”
  • Day 17: Call out lies you believe
  • Day 18: Repent from believing those lies.
  • Day 19: Choose joy today
  • Day 20: Volunteer for something
  • Day 21: Give
  • Day 22: Describe yourself from God’s point of view.
  • Day 23: Pray for your (future) kids
  • Day 24: Pray for health
  • Day 25: Memorize Rom. 15:13
  • Day 26: Thank God for what you don’t have yet.
  • Day 27: Write out truth about God’s character
  • Day 28: Write down your fav ways for Spiritual self-care.

A Knowing.

There is an element of connecting to one’s self that is a tell-tell sign if we have arrived. As a mother it is so easy to loose yourself, in your kids, in your home, in your husband or in your work. Taking care of other people becomes so closely intertwined with your identity that you can barely separate the two, or maybe you can’t. Maybe its what you always wanted and there is so much joy given there that you wouldn’t want to separate them, the idea of having to be more than that is terrifying. Or.. maybe.. like me.. you never saw yourself as a mom. It wasn’t really on your radar, then BAM! I was swept up into motherhood and even hearing that it wasn’t all I was meant to be, I couldn’t see that I had completely given myself over to it. It was easier than admitting there was more in me, or that there could be more. Its a hard line to walk. Motherhood is the highest honor, if you recognize it as so. What could possibly compete. What could possibly be prioritized beside or above motherhood? “I shouldn’t even try to find my passion, motherhood should be my passion” Guilt soon follows, if motherhood hasn’t been 100% fulfilling for you.

Seven years into motherhood I sat with myself, a hollow shell. This was the outcome for me, of trying to make motherhood all I needed. It wasn’t and I needed to see that it was ok to do more, to add to the role. Stephen looked at me and just saw sadness. I tried so hard to make motherhood all I needed and in the midst of it I had completely lost sight, not only of myself but of God. If I did venture, mentally to the space where I admitted there was a hole, I tried to fill it with what made sense to me. Make money, be an Interior Designer. I thought I was thinking outside of the box but that was the box. I never thought about doing something that didn’t make money and I never thought of doing anything that didn’t include I.D. I didn’t think about connecting to my soul and listening to it. But that is exactly what I needed to do.

As a Christian we are made aware of promptings. The Holy Spirit stepping in to our conscience to press on our hearts an action. Something we should do that could greatly impact someone else. There is another kind of prompting we desire. I like to call them urges. Urges are strong impulses or desires. They can be positive or negative. They can be buried in the flesh or embedded within our souls, our most authentic selves. The latter are the ones I want to talk about. The urges, wishes, needs, longings, yearnings, cravings deep within our souls. The largest most prominent would be our need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, our need to believe in God. Then they diminish in size all the way down to the need to use a pencil instead of a pen. Those tiny little urges are so important though. Let me explain.

Those urges, the tiny ones, the ones embedded in our truest most authentic selves are our connection to ourselves. When we loose our identity in other things, when we wake up and don’t know who we are, I bet its because we stopped listening to our urges somewhere along the way. For me I let fear in. Unimaginable fear. Fear of everything; embarrassment, being a fraud, not knowing my place, disappointment, etc. This fear was a lie that I let into my head, thinking it was reality. This fear kept my mind so occupied that I didn’t have any room or energy left for anything else. I forgot about the urges and soon couldn’t hear or recognize them at all. I couldn’t think for myself, this was an extreme loss of urges. You can go a long time not even noticing that you stopped asking yourself what you wanted, what you wished for, dreamed of, longed for, or simply something that would bring a smile to your face or satisfaction to your soul.

When you see sand, you want to walk through it or sift it through your fingers. When you see an old book you want to smell it. When you see silk you want to run your hands over it or bring it to your cheek. We have a tendency to use these urges to clean or fix but I want you to think of them as completely pointless other than the fact that they bring you a small sense of joy. When was the last time you chose to do something for the love of it rather than the fear of something else. Making a decision to avoid something is fueling fear not generating joy. Sharpen a pencil, dig in dirt with a stick, walk on grass barefoot, let the sun shine warm your face with your eyes closed. Missing these moments are the first signs of missing yourself yet on the flip side noticing these moments are the beginning of a deeper relationship with yourself.

After the urges, comes passions and dreams and drive and hustle and determination to stay true to yourself and never loose sight again. These urges are the tiniest first step to the marathon of life and they are at the gateway of the right path for you. They are your signal that you are on YOUR path not someone else’s. You might think I’m crazy and that they are not that important but I believe they are, so tragically important. Denying them is denying you. Staying blind to the fact that we are loosing ourselves to make others happy, there will be a day when nothing is left. That life is good for no one. Not one we would advise to a friend, a spouse or a child… so why would we be okay with it for ourselves.

The scariest, hardest thing might be to take a couple minutes, breath and ask yourself what YOU want to do, what YOU want to wear, what YOU want to eat, what YOU want to sing, what YOU want to believe about yourself. Once you are able to tap in to this connection, you will feel a knowing, a true understanding of who you are and where you are going. This is a rare and necessary knowing.

Renew Review

Immediately after the retreat there was a flood of text messages, “How did it go???” I wanted so badly to say, “Perfect!” But there was something holding me back. We did not end on a lighthearted note, did we girls?? It was heavier than I anticipated but I knew I stayed with God the whole time so I have to, over and over, tell myself, it was what He wanted it to be. We strayed from my itinerary slightly but just enough to make me question myself and thats pretty much what I did all Sunday. It was a battle that I had opened myself up to willingly but naively. I thought I would feel differently at the end but instead I was carrying weight. That weight, I now understand was me picking up pieces, or trying to, for other women, to help carry their burden. I pray they felt lighter, as hard as it is, I am honored to be allowed close enough to help.

I didn’t think any of it went wrong. It WAS perfect but not my perfect. I am okay with that now and can think of only slight adjustments to make the next retreat even better. I am drained, sick even. It took everything out of me to get through the weekend. I sit here today, Monday, in my bathrobe at 10:21, exhausted. I have never felt that much resistance, like something was physically holding me back and taking my voice.

I mentioned earlier that I felt naive. I know this was Gods plan, if I had known all the hard that would come with all the good, I might have shied away from portions or maybe even the whole retreat. I might not have ever taken a step. So I am thankful for my inability to foresee the hardness. I am thankful for all the encouragement I received before the retreat, thinking back on all of it helps me realize that I was being completely obedient and there’s not many times in my life that I can say that.

I am proud of this retreat. I am proud of the women who bravely came and stayed and opened up and acknowledge their walls and their stones and the life they crave on the other side and I pray so hard that they feel encouraged enough to get through all the crap to the abundant life God has waiting for them. If you came, and you at any point feel discouraged, know this weekend was a seed planted and the fruit is coming. The triumph is yours through Gods promise and it is coming.

If you are thinking about coming to a retreat, this may not be the marketing tool you were looking for, huh? Our lives are riddled with pain, and hard things, and fear. You can’t go around it, you can’t avoid it, you have to go through it and then, all of the sudden gray becomes color, shadows become sources of light, and we are empowered to do something about it, to never let the WELL + PLENTY life go again.

The non-emotional side of the retreat: The food was amazing, I impressed myself, which is really hard to do. It was healthy but so tasty and you could eat as much as you wanted without feeling guilty, that is the WELL + PLENTY mentality towards food. It served its purpose well there. My house morphed into they most beautiful of retreat centers. It was warm and inviting, cozy and well laid out, not to brag on myself but on the home that GOD KNEW THIS IS WHAT IT WOULD BE USED FOR. He knew!! My mind is blown how perfect this house is for this use. The women loved being loved on and I was on cloud 9 to get to do that. I needed nothing in return. Yoga was relaxing and beautiful. So yes the retreat was perfect, and I believe everyone enjoyed their time. Ministry is hard, changing is hard, being an advocate for change is hard, but loving on people isn’t. I enjoyed all of it, I’m thankful for the hard parts, it makes me feel like something changed for the women, they are different now then when they came, there was a shift for each one and that is what I prayed for. I may never know the full impact but that is ok, it rests securely in God’s hands and that is the best place for it.

To the women who came: Thank you, thank you, thank you. You inspire me, to step out of my comfort zone and do something good, hard but good, I have the motivation I need to get to the second retreat and the third and so on. This path is not lined with rainbows and tulips but thats ok, I don’t want it to be. I would rather it be lined with the action of change.

Where’s Jesus

Below the clothes

Below the trends

Below the pressure

Below the seemingly perfect

Below the blame

Below the shame

Below the guilt

Below the skin

Below the mind

Below faking it

Below the heart

Below the knowledge

Below the avoidance

Below the striving

Below the running

Below the comparison

Behind the walls

In the hurting

In the waiting

In the asking

In the being

In the connecting

In the ability to be vulnerable

In the ability to be discovered

In the ability to be known

In the ability to be loved

In the ability to be saved

In the ability to feel joy regardless

To the place of knowing with and without feeling, “My God is good.”

The calling EVERYONE has on their life.

Yes, you should love everyone and yes, you should be Jesus to people who have no one else stepping into that role but something needs to come first. You loving you. Someone told me to love God with my past, present and future. “How?” was my response. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. I could see why it was a good idea but couldn’t wrap my head around it, even if I could say the words, how could I ever truly believe them.

December 18th, I was on my way to the store to get stuff for my kids Christmas parties. I was talking out loud, like I usually do, to keep my thoughts straight and focused. I began a mental, emotional, spiritual exercise that I knew was given to me by God. An exercise that I will relay for the rest of my life. Mind truly blown.

I’m going to walk you through it. But it may not mean to you what it meant to me, it my not be the process that clicks with you but it changed me. It changed the way I saw myself and God and others. It was a total game changer in my relationship with God.

You see, my relationship with God has been surface level my whole life. I had made the decision to live as a believer when I was young, to bet all my chips that He was real and that my life lived for Him was better than not. However, there was a wall. I sometimes would question His existence in my head, sometimes I would feel Him with my heart but the wall was right below that, about where my diaphragm is. Right before I reached my soul. I am a visual person so for me the visual helps. I would periodically bump into the wall and it either scared me and I’d run away or it would be so painful I wouldn’t have the strength to address it. But 2017 showed me I needed to, I had to get passed the wall. It felt like life or death. Life on this side of the wall was grey, gloomy and purposeless. I imagined life passed the wall to be vibrant, joyful, and fulfilling.

Each stone in the wall was made up of a past experience, little bits of self-loathing and self-doubt, God-doubt, relationships gone south, every time I felt inadequate or incapable. I began naming the stones that made up this wall, the wall between me and God but also between me and my soul, my true self, the self God was preparing me to become, the self He had always intended me to be. As I named them I could feel them weakening, shifting. Through counseling, through prayer, through struggle, through Instagram, through Facebook, through podcasts, through books, through the bible, through moments, through feelings, through promptings, through talks, through sharing, through this blog I slowly began pulling and tugging. Until I began to see a small light shining through.

So this is your first step, name your stones. Name your wall. Heres some of mine.

Failure, college, loosing virginity, demolished friendships, drinking, anger, Mother, not feeling good enough to be a wife or a mother, feeling like a fraud, not making my degree work, saying too much, not saying enough, saying the wrong things, comparing, laziness, hopelessness, daily pain and chronic migraines, believing all the lies, manipulation, playing games, questioning God, self-loathing, assuming negatively, hating my looks, hating my weight, being out of control.

I began to see God teaching me, guiding me, threading me. Because a lot of what happened in my life that I wasn’t happy about, I did to myself, I carried so much blame and guilt. There are a lot of these I didn’t name until this year, I couldn’t, I didn’t know how but God was good enough to show me, to guide me to the places where I could see, to put people in my path that wouldn’t judge including my husband.

 

 

 

 

Second step: I apologized to myself, forgave myself, and accepted all of me. This doesn’t mean it was my fault or I am accepting blame, I am doing this for healing and healing alone. Take if further by dividing yourself up into Mind, Body, Heart, Soul. Take on each part as you apologize to another part, ask for forgiveness, extend love to each part. The more detailed you are ie “My mind apologized to my heart for not protecting it, for rushing past and dominating.” the better. Dig. Break wide open. Bare your mind, body, heart and soul and see them for what they truly are… Beautiful parts of you that have endured so much and are trying to do their best.

Steph 3: Live from here. From the place of forgiveness and love not the place of blame and shame. Choose, remind yourself of this place and come back as often as you need to. Done openly and honestly it is powerful.

***If you do this exercise, let me know in the comments what if did for you.

Emotions

Is it a bad word to you? What baggage it comes with, right? When our emotions get the best of us, or we are overwhelmed with emotion, we rarely think, “Well, that was great!” We are embarrassed, we regret it. We think we are loosing our minds or going crazy. We try to shut them down. Why?

Our emotions show us what we love, hate, what we are passionate about. Our emotions can be a tool. Maybe the most important tool next to the bible. Let me explain.

I am learning that in order to truly feel, I have to be in touch with my emotions. However the switch is heavy and not easily moved from on to off and back again. They are either going or not. If I can give them space though, to do what they do best, connect me with my authentic self, then maybe they wouldn’t be spewing out of me in the least convenient times. But really, who cares if they do?!

Also I read the most intimate quote the other day, it changed my perspective on emotions. It made me want to feel, want to cry tears of joy and sadness equally. It made me want to share and share some more, to really connect. To let my emotions out, to be seen in all their glory.

What? Emotions have glory? Well, yes, once you read the quote you will understand.

“But what if emotion, or something similar that is even deeper, wilder, and more real, is an essential element of who God is? What if emotion, as we understand it, is a reflection of what God experiences in his heart.” Curt Thompson, Anatomy of the Soul

He goes on to add that ours is a less intense version… Sometimes my emotions are so intense I think I might burst, but what we are feeling is barely scratching the surface of Gods experiences. So, do you see? Our emotions are a connection, it connects us to our souls, our true selves and that is the dwelling place of Christ, His home. But also, they are a glimpse into what God feels as He experiences us.

If we are made in His image then why would we ever think God doesn’t have emotions?

Now, there is a fine line between feelings and emotions. It is said they are the two sides of the same coin. Connected but very different. They even happen in two different parts of the brain. Emotions effect your physical state, they create behavior that keeps you out of danger and helps you survive. Feelings are reactions to emotions which because they are effected by our past experiences and situations can be false or irrational guesses on reality. Just like our actions, our feelings can come from a sinful place, so our decisions and choices should be based on God, our knowledge of him and his character. Our emotions however, can be a part of that relationship with God, it should be an emotional relationship. It is for Him.

So connect, don’t be afraid of the journey inward. I haven’t arrived yet and I’m not sure I have will fully but its already blown my mind a couple times.

Something to unlearn…

There is a common thread in a lot of type images and quotes on mugs, social media, teeshirts, etc. The concept of “do what you love”. Don’t stay stuck in a job you hate, quit, and follow your dreams.

I hate this concept. Yup “HATE”

I think it leaves people feeling raw and hopeless. I think it kills joy and happiness and contentment. Because how on earth could you love being a trash collector in January? Or a grave digger? Or how can you find your purpose in being a bank teller or working retail? Heres the deal. We need these people. We need people to work those jobs. In the grand scheme of things there aren’t very many jobs that are joy perpetuating. Most jobs are that, jobs. Work. Repetitive, redundant, boring jobs. The quotes should say, “Love what you do.” “Find purpose in the mundane” The truth is we need each and every person and not everyone is going to be a Rockstar, movie star, or cutsie small business owner that walks to work, passing the flower shop and cafe on their way.

I’ve been brainwashed to believe that if I’m not being energized and finding joy in what I do then I’m not doing the “right” things.

When what I’ve been doing is what I was suppose to be doing all along. I’ve been learning and growing everyday. And god-forbid if we feel less than for being a stay-at-home mom. Like theres something more important than that. Like I’m going to regret my years spent at home. Unfortunately, I felt like that, feel some days.

I felt like I needed to do more, contribute more. Use my gifts, help people, get paid. But the truth is I need to use my gifts at home, help my girls and get paid in kisses and hugs and the contentment that this is where I’m meant to be.

Don’t hear that I think working moms aren’t suppose to be working. I am for both. But I’ve been called to stay home and I didn’t like that calling for 7 years. 7. Because I thought I should be or do more, because I believed the lie that I wasn’t enough.

I guess you could say this is a bit of a soap box. I was going to tell you that before you quit you should talk to God but I think you already know you just aren’t ok with it. If you quite and nothing happens, nothing works out thats an answer. Or you apply yourself and wrack your brain for a job or way to get out of the home and none of them work… thats an answer too, that was my answer.

Okay, God, I except. I’ll only be a stay-at-home mom for a little bit longer and I can make the most of it by excepting it first and learning to love it more every day. But if I’m only thinking about how much I don’t like it, or how I’m not very good at it, or how it steels my sanity then, yeah, I’m not going to progress.

Then, theres also the thought that I’ve had that if I’m not content with this I won’t be content in anything. Its like thinking you need just a little more money and everything will be ok, but if you have terrible spending habits then more money only means more problems. Start taking care of whats on your plate, and either your plate will grow or you will learn to love the plate you have, just the way it is.

You can turn joy on and off. Not with the switch of a job but with the switch of your heart.