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.

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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.