Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why I'm Coming Out of Hiding [Sharing My Process With Y'all]


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Well...  Happy April Fools' Day!  Any funny April Fools' jokes that you've played (or are planning, or have been victims of!) that you wanna share?  Share away!  Make me laugh! :)

So... in a NON-April Fool's spirit...

I've been thinking.

Shocking, I know. :)

In light of my recent ventures, I've been pondering the concepts of platform and circle of influence and the like.

Stuff that I'd generally rather not deal with.... hence, this blog has less than 100 official "followers."  And hence, I am not on Twitter.  And I was not, for a good while, on Facebook.

I have a dilemma though.  I'm writing a book. (<-- Click that for more info if you'd like.)

This message is burning inside me and I think I might explode if I don't keep writing it.  And I have zero desire to self-publish.  Which leaves me with traditional publishing as my obvious route to published-hood.  And when you go this route, agents and publishers and marketing teams? They want numbers. Fans.  Followers.  Circle of influence.   They want you to be able to contribute significantly to the marketing of a book if they decide to publish you. 

And my "numbers" are almost laughable. :)

I've been totally okay with that till now.... okay with writing for whoever was around and wanted to listen. I've enjoyed it.

I've also been just plain ol' resistant to the idea of working much to "promote" my blog, my core message, etc.  I've not wanted to go there.  Honestly, I've been afraid of my own heart and afraid of the opinions of people.  I'm sure I will write more about that soon, because it's something I'm processing a ton as of late.

But in the last month or so, I've had a handful of conversations with people who've been incredibly helpful to my heart in this arena.  They've said things like:
  • "But Dana, when you promote your blog, your message, you are pointing people to Jesus."
  • "You can have the most life-changing message in the world, but if no one knows it's there, no one will benefit from it."
    And God bless the beautiful Emily Freeman for her ideas on building a bench versus building a platform.  

    (PS - I highly recommend her blog.  Click her name above.  Follow her.  Buy her books if you can. You will love her heart.)

    To somewhat loosely quote Emily's thoughts as she shared them with me recently, "A platform is a stage with the spotlight on you.  A bench is a place where people can come together to discuss things.  It provides a space for community to develop.  And I may be the person starting the discussion, but I in no way want to come off like I have it all figured out.  I'm on this journey with everyone else."

    Light bulbs.  They were flashing all over the place in my head.  This is a concept I can get on board with.  This isn't arrogant or spotlight-on-me-ish.  I like that.

    And I'm coming to the realization, albeit gradually, that my resistance to "marketing" my message has had more than a little to do with false humility.  If I am passionate about this message of discerning and responding to the invitations of Jesus in the midst of life... if I genuinely believe it will change others' lives as profoundly as it is changing mine... then why would I keep it quiet?

    To quote my blog post in which I announced I'm writing a book...
    Side note: True humility = ACCURATELY viewing yourself, your gifts and abilities. Agreeing with God's perspective on yourself and what He's put inside you.  False humility = not viewing yourself accurately, diminishing what God's put inside of you, magnifying our own weaknesses over God's ability to use you, to be glorified through you.  False humility is actually pride in disguise, because it's refusing to line up with God's perspective on us.

    So...  Yes, publishers and agents want numbers. And yes, this realization was the impetus that started me pondering all these things.  But... all of this pondering (and praying and discussing) has led me to places where I honestly did not expect to end up.

    I'm coming out of hiding.

    And now... I'll just say it.  I have created a Facebook page for my blog.  I think, up till now, I may have been THE ONLY blogger in the universe without a page.  

    Here's why (the quick version, anyway):

    At least a few times per week lately, I've found myself wanting to shoot out an encouragement, a scripture, or a little blip of funny-ness or cool-ness, specifically to this community of readers.  A little blast of insight will hit me, or maybe a question for all of you who find encouragement here, and I'll think, "I wish I could shoot that out to my readers... but it's definitely not long enough to constitute a blog post."

    Oh well... too bad I don't have a Facebook page for the blog.

    No longer! :)  And even though I've walked into it reluctantly, I am now, admittedly, excited.  Excited to be able to share brief thoughts with all of you precious peeps a handful of times per week. And mostly, excited for the community that will be cultivated there, and for the way that it will enhance the community around here.

    Annnnnd... to be straight-up honest with y'all, "liking" my Facebook page (and/or following my blog via email or a reader) will help me.  It will demonstrate to publishers that there are people out there who resonate with my heart, with my writing, and who might... just maybe... purchase my book whenever it finally comes out. :)

    All of that said... my friends... could I ask you a quick favor?

    If you're a regular reader here, or simply someone who finds encouragement here on occasion, would you go to my new Facebook page..... click that "like" button, share a comment if you feel so inclined, and then.... <<gulp>>.... would you invite a few friends?  If you have friends who love Jesus, and if you feel they would find encouragement here, would you share Moments and Invitations with them?  I would be so excited... :-D... 

    If you DO feel inclined to share a comment (either here on this post or on the Facebook page)... would you consider answering this question:
    How can I serve you, individually and as a community of readers?
    Are there specific topics that you'd like to see me address here?
    Are there questions you'd like me to try to answer?
    (I can't promise I'll have answers, but I can sure give it a shot. :) )

    Okay, so that was 3 questions.  I got going and couldn't stop myself.  See?  Told ya I had questions for y'all!

    Last thing--- I promise.  THANK YOU for being here.  For reading and receiving.  For sharing your hearts when you do so.  For your trust.  It blesses and humbles me.

    Y'all are dearly loved by your Father, and deeply appreciated by me. 
    HEY GUYS!  Just an update to this post - stay tuned for details on Moments and Invitations' first official... giveaway... which we will host here on the blog IF WE REACH 120 "likes" by 10:55 this evening (Monday 4/1).  This is NOT an April Fools' joke! :)

    The prize?  The Emily Freeman book of your choice.  (Click the link to check out her books - she is awesome.) 

    Linking up today with The Better Mom...

    Saturday, March 30, 2013

    Zoning In On Easter [We Who Once Were Far Away Have Been Brought Near...]

    Hello friends!  Happy Easter weekend to y'all!

    I have to admit, this year I have not been as focused on "Holy Week," these days leading up to Easter, as I normally am.  My mind has been preoccupied with other things.  

    But I'm taking this writing course online (I'll tell you more about it soon), and I had a writing assignment to do today... and this is what came out.  I think my heart just needed to zone in on Easter... on the victory that was accomplished for us on the cross. 

    It's brief... but I wanted to share this with you all today.  May it bless you.... and may the full revelation of the finished work of the cross and the freedom that was won for us make your heart burn inside of you this Easter.

    Easter.  It comes around every year.  The calendar, and hopefully the weather, say “springtime!” ...and Easter arrives, hand-in-hand with warmer temperatures and tulips popping their heads through the soil in my flower beds.  

    It comes with such regularity that sometimes, I forget to notice it.  To pause.  To ponder. 

    And today…Saturday… is a day for pondering.  Friday, Jesus died.  Sunday, He arose victorious.

    But Saturday?  Saturday, death had conquered. Or so it seemed. The Lord of the universe was in the tomb, sealed by a giant stone and guarded by soldiers. 

    Those who loved Him were devastated.  Those who’d killed him?  Pretty sure they were squirming on the inside over what they’d done: “Surely this man was the Son of God.”  (Mark 15:39)

    The disciples huddled together, shoulders shaking with grief, hearts shattered, hopes dashed and dreams crushed.

    They’d forgotten what He’d said.  Or simply not understood.  “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in 3 days.”

    Darkness seemed to have won.  The sting of death hung thick in the air… thick in the hearts.

    All the world waited.

    The hours ticked by. 

    Night... and tears... fell.

    And then… then, came a Sunday morning sunrise like none other, before or since.  A sunrise accompanied by the trembling of the earth as the Son of God rose, life restored, divine power pulsing, surging through His glorified body.

    And those women, trudging to the tomb that morning, hearts and feet heavy with sorrow?  NOTHING could have prepared them to hear one of the most victory-infused, power-laden declarations ever spoken: 

    “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!”

    He is RISEN! 

    We say it every Easter – “He is risen.”  And the response: “He is risen indeed.”

    But do we really consider the implications of that first Easter morning, its practical impact on our lives? 

    Death is swallowed up in victory, and we who once were far away have been brought near!! NEAR!!  Near to the heart of God, near to the throne of grace, invited into intimate friendship with the Holy One!  

    All because He is risen.  Because the power of sin and death over us has been SHATTERED. Because by His death and resurrection, Jesus CRUSHED the head of our enemy.

    Because He loves us.  Because we were the joy set before Him, His motivation to endure the cross.  Your heart… and mine.

    He is risen… and we have been brought near… and set wildly free... and brought to life on the inside.

    And I am so… beyond… thankful.

    Friday, March 29, 2013

    Lizard Skillz: Part 3 [Some Practicals... and How to Be Authentic Without Sharing Everything]

    No comments:
     It is impossible to offer genuine presence to others if I am simply an assortment of roles.  Often we wear our personas like masks, each for the correct occasion.  The performance is so well-rehearsed that we fail to be aware that it is a performance.  But it is.    
    -David Benner, Sacred Companions

    Hey friends, today I just wanted to offer a few brief practicals on this whole subject of dropping the chameleon super powers and laying down our masks.  If you missed parts 1 and 2 of this mini-series, here ya go:

    I Have Lizard Skills: Part 1 [On Authenticity and Heart-Safety in Jesus]

    I Have Lizard Skillz: Part 2 [How to Give the Greatest Gift Possible]

    So... in the spirit of practicality... here are some ways that I feel the Lord has given me to "check myself" when I'm in any kind of a social situation where I might be tempted to whip out my ol' stand-by chameleon super powers.  These may or may not be applicable to you, so please just take them as examples.

    • I'm smiling right now.  Is it genuine?  Fake?  Forced?
    • I'm nodding my head, maybe saying, "Uh-huh" as this person is talking to me. Am I present?  Engaged?  Or is my brain somewhere else?  Am I going through the motions, or genuinely listening?
    • Am I sharing my authentic, honest heart with this person?  Or holding back because I want to be seen as "having it all together?"
    • Am I secure in this moment?  Confident in who I am in Jesus?  Or am I looking for ways to prove myself as I'm in conversation with others?
    • Am I acting out of obligation?  Or out of security and genuine love toward those around me?
    • Am I comparing myself to those around me?  Or confidently okay with being exactly who I am?

    Again, your personal "chameleon warning signs" may differ from mine.  The key here is to ask the Lord to highlight to you your own symptoms that you've donned a mask, to be aware of what the red flags look like for you, and then continue to ask Him to heighten your awareness, in the moment, of when you start to slip into chameleon mode as you're in conversation with others.

    When in-authenticity creeps up on me in the midst of a social situation and I become aware of it, I find myself needing to hit my mental reset button: I need to remind myself of who I am, and Whose opinion of me really matters, anyway.

    I often mentally withdraw from a conversation for a few seconds, or even take a couple of minutes and get into a corner (or bathroom!) by myself to re-center my heart on the truth, to ask Jesus to help me settle back down inside, into Him and into my true self.  He's faithful in those moments to step in and bring a peace and settled-ness to my heart... like a breath of fresh air that enables me to confidently, peacefully, and authentically reengage in whatever conversation or situation I had previously been involved in.

    When I walk into a situation where I know I'm going to be tempted to don my mask(s) (a.k.a. any situation where I feel insecure or out of my comfort zone), I often pray beforehand, something like this:

    Father, help me to deeply abide in You in as I navigate this [meeting, event, social gathering, church service.... you fill in the blank].  Make me aware of moments that I slip into not fully being myself, being some other version of me.  Continually whisper to my heart, reminding me that You have accepted me and called me Your own, that I don't need to be anyone other than myself because I need no one's approval but Yours.  God, expand Yourself inside of me even now.  I want to fully surrender to You, to being who You created me to be, in this moment, in these interactions with others.  I want to be settled in You and comfortable in my own skin.  Teach me, Father.  

    Help me rest in You, and help me love those that you put before me not out of a place of needing approval, but out of a place of confidence and security in my identity in You.

    On a slightly different subject, I've struggled in the past (and still do at times) with not knowing how to be authentic and drop the lizard skillz, while at the same time using discretion in exactly what personal information is shared, and with whom.  And I just want to say this to you all:

    Being genuine and sharing the gift of your honest heart, your true self, with those around you does not equate to never withholding any information, or sharing everything that's happening in your personal life or your heart.  
    We should feel completely free to use discretion and discernment in what information we share, and with whom.

    I absolutely love how David Benner explains this truth:

    "Being genuinely me means being genuine.  This means that what I say, I mean and believe.  It also means that what I show, I feel.  It means not pretending.  Being genuine does not mean communicating everything I feel or think.  But it does mean that what I do communicate, I genuinely feel, believe, and think."  [From Sacred Companions; emphasis added.]

    We can trust Jesus to guide us in learning how to be our genuine selves, how to give the gift of our honest heart at all times, while using discretion in when we totally bare our souls, and when we don't.

    He is the ultimate Protector of our hearts, and I just have to say it again - it is He who holds our hearts gently and puts our broken pieces back together when we share our authentic selves and our hearts are not handled well by our human, fallible brothers and sisters.  He is trustworthy, and our true identity is wrapped up in Him... and it's out of this place of knowing who we are in Him, and trusting Him as our source of true heart-safety, that we can live free, wildly alive, and one hundred per cent engaged and real with those He puts before us.  We can only live well, and love well, when we live from this place of freedom.

    And, like I said before, this is a journey.  Not somewhere we can arrive... but a continual process of surrender and transformation.  I am so committed to this adventure with Him, and the incredible thing is that He's more committed to this process inside of me than I am!

    And I can lean back and rest in His commitment to me, knowing that I don't have to figure myself out or make transformation happen in my own strength.  He who began a good work in me will absolutely be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6)

    I get to put one foot in front of the other, hand-in-hand with Him, and partner with Him as I learn to lay down my chameleon super powers.  There is nothing more freeing than learning to live this way!

    Be blessed, friends, to know Jesus intimately as your Source of heart-safety, to be deeply rooted in your identity in Him, and to live free and love confidently out of that place in Him.  

    AND... on this Good Friday, may you find your worth, your value, in the blood of Jesus, shed for you, that is continually speaking a better word over you (Heb.12:24) .  You are His, bought with a price.  And we who once were far away have been brought near...  praise Him!! (Eph. 2:13)

    Thank you, friends, for your trust and your presence here.  They bless my heart.

    As always, any thoughts you'd like to share are more than welcome!  
    What insights is the Lord giving you into your own masks and chameleon super powers?  

    (To those of you who've tried to comment in the last couple of days and had issues, I apologize.  I tried to install Disqus on this site and it ended up causing more trouble than it was worth, so I'm back to the regular old Blogger comment platform, which isn't the greatest either.  Suggestions of other ideas for comment moderation, anyone?)  

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    I Have Lizard Skillz, Part 2 [How To Give the Greatest Gift Possible]

    Hi Friends!  Welcome to all, including those who are new-ish around here.  I am so, so happy to have you here!

    Getting back on track today..... After Monday's totally unexpected pouring out of my deepest guts....  (And about that... I have to say - THANK YOU to all of you who commented, both here and on Facebook, expressing your sorrow and compassion.  I am moved and blessed by your prayers and support - for real.  Feelin' the love, guys... big time.)

    Thanks for tracking with me through the somewhat-intense waters of my most recent circumstances and my need to process.  Means so much to me.  

    And now... back to your regularly scheduled NON-program....


    So here's the thing about this whole chameleonskillz/wearing-of-masks-in-order-to-be-accepted issue:

    We think we're doing what we need to do in order to please people, to ensure that they'll like us.


    ...when we do this, we deprive people of the greatest gift we could ever give them: our true selves.  Our hearts.  

    Have you ever walked away from a conversation with someone and had this subtle [or not-so-subtle?] sense that they weren't really listening?  Like they were going through the motions of listening but their brain, or their heart, was somewhere else?  

    If we're perceptive at all, we notice when someone is not being truly present to us.

    Conversely... have you ever come away from a conversation with someone and felt seen?  Heard?  Valued? Validated?  Known? That person was giving you the gift of their genuine, authentic presence.  They were also, by default, giving you the gift of themselves.  Their honest attention.  Their true heart.  No masks.

    There’s nothing sweeter or more life-giving than the exchange of our honest hearts, of our true selves.

    Whenever we whip out our chameleon super powers, whenever we're even a little bit inauthentic, we are always at some level focused on who we think we need to be in a given situation instead of being totally focused on the person to whom we're trying to be present.  

    When we wear masks, we withhold our genuine presence.  Our focus.  Our wholehearted listening and engaging and our holding well of their hearts and stories.  

    We also deprive them of the honest sharing of our own hearts.  We hold back.  We double and triple check things before we say them, afraid of offending people or being misunderstood.  

    We aren't truly ourselves, because at a deep level, we aren't trusting the Lord to protect our hearts.

    And we aren't able to love those God puts before us well.

    The journey toward genuine authenticity is just that: A JOURNEY.  It's not a concrete place where we can "arrive."  It's a continual growth process.  It’s a road that God invites us to walk, hand-in-hand with Him as He reveals to us our own hearts, our masks, and the areas in which He's drawing us into a deeper place of trust and surrender.

    I say all of that to say this:  Please don't be hard on yourself as you notice your masks.  Don't allow the enemy to come in and bring condemnation.  We all have masks.  I still have them.  I still default to wearing them if I'm not careful.  

    God doesn't reveal to us our lack of authenticity because He's upset or disappointed with us... but because He's inviting us into deeper trust, and into a deeper settling-in to who He's made us to be.  

    He's drawing us into a place of accepting at a deeper level what HE says about us, resting in the truth of who He says we are.

    It's only when we are defined by Him, settled in who and how He's made us, rooted and grounded in His love and delight over us in our core, that we can begin to authentically live out of that place... mask-free.  

    No more chameleon skillz necessary.  

    Aren't those chameleon moves exhausting to try to keep pulling off anyway?  Isn't it so stinkin' FREEING to just... lay... them... down?!

    Workin' on making this daily, hourly, minute-ly choice to lay them down right along side you, friend....

    (Also workin' on Part 3 to this lil' series... hopefully will post on Friday. :) )

    Blessings to you all... really.  May you know His nearness, sense His protection over your heart, and live wildly alive and free... out of that place of trust in His love.

    Monday, March 25, 2013

    So I Had A Miscarriage... And Our Adoptive Family Profile Is Being Presented Today.

    (So I have another piece, kind of a "part 2" to the last piece I wrote re. Lizard Skillz.  I was going to post it today.  But... I'm feeling the need to wait on that one and bring you this today instead.  Hang with me friends?)
    Image Credit
    10 days ago, I had a miscarriage.

    I didn't write about it.  I kept quiet not because I felt the need to keep our loss a secret, but because I honestly just didn't know what to say about it.  I felt numb.  

    I wondered where my emotions were.  Had they died?  Had my ability to grieve been permanently seared by the number of losses I've experienced?

    1 baby, 2 babies, now 3 babies... Not to mention our former foster daughters - both of them.  

    That's kind of a lot of loss crammed into 5-going-on-6 years.  A lot of nightmares.  A lot of heart-wrenching, agony-filled cries to the Lord.

    A lot of unanswered "WHY?"s.

    And this time, this last loss, I just didn't quite know how to process.  If you talked with me during that week that I miscarried, I probably sounded weirdly okay.  Or rather, simply out of touch.  I was genuinely okay on one level... I wasn't putting up an "okay" front.  Under the surface though, I knew I needed to feel more. 

    But since I couldn't at the time, I let it go, handed my heart and my emotions and my grief process over to the Lord, trusting Him with the process and the timing.  I put one foot in front of the other and kept walking.

    Fast forward to today.  I sat down to write a blog post about something completely different.  Something that will now have to wait for another time.  Because when I glanced at my email, I had a link to Ann Voskamp's blog in my inbox... and since I can rarely resist her writing, I hopped on over to her place.  

    This was her post for today.

    And that Laura Story song?  It used to make me mad.  For real.  That doesn't happen to me often.  I used to turn off K-Love whenever it would come on.  I could write a whole 'nother post about the reasons for my heart response to her song.  Suffice it to say, it was wrong.  I was wrong.

    So I watched that video today.  Watched Laura sing it.  I glued my little bottom to the couch and I set my heart before the Lord and I listened.  I'd heard the story before, of her husband's brain cancer.  At least pieces of it.  

    But with a reminder of that story combined with my current life circumstances as the backdrop... this song wrecked my heart today.  In a very good way.  It was a "wrecking" that needed to happen.

    And... the second after I clicked "play" on the video of this song, I glanced at the time: 1:02 pm.  And I realized... our profile is being shown right. now.  As we speak.  A birth mom will, in the next hour or two, be making a decision between our family and a few others as possible adoptive families for her baby girl.

    Deciding that the timing of this was not coincidental, I leaned into the Lord.  And I mean, I leaned hard.  Trusting, trusting, trusting....surrendering more deeply.

    When friends betray us
    When darkness seems to win
    We know that pain reminds this heart
    That this is not, this is not our home
    It's not our home

    'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
    What if Your healing comes through tears
    And what if a thousand sleepless nights
    Are what it takes to know You're near

    What if my greatest disappointments
    Or the achings of this life
    Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
    And what if trials of this life
    The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
    Are Your mercies in disguise
    (Laura Story - Blessings. This only the last half of the song.)

    If my "greatest disappointments and the achings of this life" come in the form of loss, in the form of my family not looking the way I've dreamed it would, and possibly in the form of our family not being chosen for a baby yet again.... can I press in and trust Him?  Trust His heart toward me?  Trust that the trials of this life are His mercies in disguise?

    I wept.  Sitting here on my couch, the tears finally came.  Over this miscarriage...and over all of it.  The babies that are now in Heaven... over "our" sweet girls who are no longer ours... the long wait for this adoption.

    And it dawned on my heart all over again: "the rain, the storms, the hardest nights" - these are mercies in disguise because in it all, He invites us to know Him.  In it all, He is working for our good (Rom. 8:28)... and our greatest good is nothing but to know His heart and surrender to His love.

    Someone once said that it's only here on Earth that we'll have these opportunities, these invitations, to know the Lord in the midst of suffering.  In Heaven, for eternity, we will know Him in joy and radiance and splendor and beauty and the absence of pain.  

    But it's only here and now, only for this blink-of-an-eye life, that He gives us these opportunities, these invitations to encounter Him intimately in the midst of our pain.  Our grief.  Our losses.

    I want to know Christ, sharing with Him in the fellowship of His suffering.

    When I get to Heaven, I want to know Him like that.  

    This is my chance to cultivate that kind of intimacy with Him.  Right now.  I want to respond to Him well while I can... while I'm here.  

    Oh God....Your heart toward me is good - I believe it.  I do.  

    Let me know You intimately here, now... in the midst of these mercies in disguise.
    PS.  Though I rarely intentionally invite comments these days, please know that your hearts and thoughts are always so very welcome here, friends.  And that YOU are always welcome here, comments or not.

    PPS. I have just (tonight, Tuesday, 3/26) enabled Disqus on this site.  It'll upgrade the level of community happening around here by letting you know when I, or someone else, responds to a comment that you leave.  That said... it is taking a bit to sync with my blog... so to those of you who've left a comment here, please be assured - it'll come back!  All comments should reappear by tomorrow.  Along with my replies. :)  In the meantime - y'all are welcome to leave comments.  They should show up just fine.  Thanks, everyone. Really.  Y'all are so loved.

    Friday, March 22, 2013

    I Have Lizard Skillz. [On Authenticity and Heart-Safety in Jesus]

    Do you see him?
    image credit:
    Hey friends,

    Do you ever end up in a social situation - small or big - get into interacting and bantering and small-talking and a little while later realize that you haven't let yourself or your current heart-climate be known at all?  That in your interactions with people in that setting, you haven't been authentically yourself?

    I confess: I do this.  I think all of us are capable of it.  More and more lately, when I fall into this wearing of masks, I'm noticing it.  The Lord is bringing to my attention at a deeper level lately my ability to don a certain persona in order to "fit in" within whatever setting I'm currently in.

    I have chameleon super powers. I don't like this about myself.

    There's this idea that's been tapping on my heart for months now and I don't feel like I've dug quite deep enough into it yet... at least, not as deep as I feel drawn to go.  But I want to share it here today, in its incomplete form, in hopes that as I share it with you some of the branches and brush in my heart will be cut back and I'll be able to move deeper into this idea.... of settling down into Him and into who He made me to be.

    This is the invitation I feel from Him these days... when life stretches my patience and coping skills thin... and when I find my fears and insecurities popping their ugly heads up yet again [sigh...].

    "Will you let Me settle down inside of you even more in this situation?  Let me expand your heart?  Let Me create more of a home for Myself inside of you? Will you settle down even more into who you are in Me?  Learn to be more comfortable with the ways that I've made you?  With your sense of humor and your body and your ways of being and doing and processing and sharing who you are?  Will you let Me into the places where you've worn masks in order to protect your own heart?  Will you let Me do the heart-protecting instead, and just freely be who you are in Me?  And be okay with it?.... And ENJOY it?"
    Letting Him create more of a home for Himself inside of me looks like me coming to a place of peace and rest in the ways He has made me and the things He's put inside me.  It looks like me resting in Him and being comfortable and content with who I am.  Not necessarily content with where I am (we all have room for growth, and lemme tell ya - I want that!), but who I am.  

    Allowing Him to settle down and expand Himself more within me results in this sweet, raw, genuine authenticity that grows and overtakes me from the inside out.  Authenticity before Him.  Honesty with myself.  Authentic living before those He's placed in my life.

    Y'all, I SO long to be genuinely myself, all the time, in every circumstance and situation.  If that makes me stick out like a sore thumb, so be it.  But I think the more likely possibility is that it will draw others out of their own self-protective shells as well... that it will challenge and encourage others to learn to be okay with who they are, to let the Lord protect and define them instead of hiding behind all of these masks we've all learned to wear in order to be what we've thought we needed to be in order to be accepted.....?

    There's only one way to achieve this true authenticity, to lose the chamelean skillz, to learn to live it out all the time, even in the most [formerly, and possibly even still] intimidating situations.  It's to be settled in Him, deep in the core of who we are.  Deeply at rest in the fact that He knows the depths of our hearts and not only accepts us, but delights in us, in all of the unique, quirky things about the way He made us.  At rest in the fact that HE is the protector of our hearts, and our masks are no longer necessary... finding peace in the truth that He is the One who tenderly holds our hearts and puts our broken pieces back together in those unfortunate but inevitable moments when we share our authentic selves and our vulnerability isn't handled well by our fallible brothers and sisters.

    God... I want to be comfortable and at peace in being who I am, no matter the circumstance or situation in which I find myself.  I want to be settled in You, deep within.  Hidden in You so that I don't have to hide myself.  Enveloped in Your protection, not self-protecting - not using these chameleon super powers, trying to blend in.

    Teach me Father.  Show me how.  Show me when I'm hiding, when I'm wearing masks... and show me how to be free.

    image credit:

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    Part 2: The Wreck and the Aftermath

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    Today I went over to the dealership where we left my minivan with its possibly-going-flat front left tire.  I photographed the damage... $4,350 worth, as I mentioned in Part 1 of this story.

    Front driver's side wheel - where we got shoved into the curb.
    ...and took a few pics at the scene of the accident:

    Leftover debris on the side of the road - this was from the front of the car that hit us.
    The curb on the wrong side of the road we had been turning onto
    with marks from our impact.
    Where we were when we got hit - just about to turn right here.  Those are the trees where we would have ended up if I hadn't found the stinkin' brake pedal.... We ended up over there next to them facing the wrong way on the left side of that road.  For anyone familiar with Greensboro, this is at Eagle Road and (almost) Bridford Parkway... over off of West Wendover.

    One final pic: this is the dealership where I had been headed to get an oil change... in the parking lot of which sits my crippled minivan, awaiting the insurance adjuster.  This is a Hendrick dealership - there are hundreds of them around the country.  The fact that we bought our minivan from  a Hendrick-owned Nissan dealership in Kansas City last year meant a rolled-out red carpet for us at this Hendrick-owned Chevy dealership here in Greensboro.  Super thankful - these guys are great and incredibly helpful.
    (Note the Carolina Blue sky... Nowhere like here.)


    Today we have felt okay.  Isaac is acting normal - pretty sure he's fine.  We had a BLAST at the Greensboro children's museum today and I might not be able to resist posting pictures from our visit there at some point in the near future.

    Jerusha and I have been a bit sore today.  Interesting fact: We hadn't been certain, though Jerusha was fairly sure she remembered correctly, that we had in fact turned and looked at each other briefly in shock when the initial impact occurred.  Today, the left side of my neck is sore (I would have turned to my right to look at her) and the right side of her neck is sore (she would have obviously turned her head left to look at me).  We laughed today about the location of our muscle soreness being proof of the fact that we did indeed make some kind of momentary stunned, terrified eye contact with each other before it occurred to me to put my foot on the brake. :)

    A cool thing that happened that I don't want to forget:

    When my dad and I finally got home from leaving my van at the dealership after the accident, it was time for Isaac to go down for his nap.  I changed his diaper and got him all snuggled up under his blankets... and then lay down next to him.  I wanted to give him a chance to process what had happened.  

    Our conversation went something like this:

    Mommy: "Isaac, remember when we were driving in our car and then BANG, that car crashed into our car?  And then we stopped really fast and you were crying?  That was scary, huh?"

    Isaac: "Bang!  Crash!  Our car was breaking!  Really broken!"  He whimpered and snuggled closer to me.

    Mommy: "I know buddy, that was scary... That car crashed into our car and our car IS broken... but Jesus kept us safe, Isaac!  Jesus kept Isaac safe, and Mommy safe, and Jerusha safe!  And the mechanics will fix our car so it will be all better."  (He's been learning about mechanics lately - he's fascinated by them.)

    Isaac: "Crash!  Jesus kept safe!  Mechanics!  Tow trucks!"  No longer whimpering.

    Mommy: "Yep, we're all safe, bud.  Isaac and Mommy and Jerusha - Jesus kept us all safe!  We can pray and tell Him thank you.... Thank you Jesus for keeping us safe!"

    Isaac: "Isaac safe.  Thank You Jesus keeping us safe!"

    I finished tucking him in and he rolled over...fell asleep in complete peace.  I loved it.  I loved that he got to process the emotions around the wreck with me.  I had been concerned for him because he'd been "whisked away" to go back to Gigi and Grandpa's house so quickly after it had happened and I hadn't had the opportunity to help him process.... but then I was so thankful that a couple of hours later he was able to talk with me about it, to remember it and feel it with his emotions and then to realize that Jesus took care of us and thank Him for that.  

    What an incredible gift and responsibility God has given us as parents, eh?  This charge to shepherd and steward and guard our kiddos' hearts before Him?  There is nothing more challenging... or more fulfilling or exhilarating. 

    To all of you who've prayed for us in the wake of the crash, thank you.  I've had a few moments of fear as I've been riding and/or driving in the last 24 hours, as this was by far the most intense wreck I've ever experienced.... but Jesus is faithful and His grace is more than enough.  Still, it's kind of hard not to be sitting at a stop sign or traffic light and be bracing myself to be hit again.  Interesting.  I didn't expect to experience this.  I'm sure it'll pass.

    In the meantime... I'm meeting tomorrow morning with the insurance adjuster who will be checking out the damage to my car.  Praying that AllState quickly accepts liability for the accident and QUICKLY releases me to begin having repairs that we can MAYBE get back to KC by the end of this week.  (The original plan was to leave NC this coming Thursday morning.  That is looking unlikely.)

    We'll see.   All's well.  We're just thankful over here.


    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Part 1: How Getting A North Carolina Oil Change Turned... Well... Interesting.

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    Isaac passionately loves to crash his cars, trucks, airplanes, helicopters... whatever... into each other.  Or into walls or tables or floors or any other hard surface you can imagine.

    This morning (Monday, 3/18) he experienced his first real crash.

    Let me say it now: we are all okay.

    Isaac and I, along with our housemate Jerusha, are in North Carolina visiting my family.  Stan wasn't able to come because of his work schedule (sad!!) so Jerusha agreed to take some time off of work and wrangle this 17-and-a-half hour road trip with Isaac and me.  Yup, that's us.  The road trip wranglers.  We drove from Kansas City straight through to NC.  No, we won't be driving it straight on the way back.  Just for the record.  HOLY COW it was long.

    The (grubby) Road Trip Wranglers: Cheesin' it up outside 
    Cracker Barrel in Frankfort, KY.

    So somewhere in the middle of Kentucky or West Virginia, my "oil change" light came on. Yes, I feel kinda dumb for not getting an oil change before we left town... but we decided to press on through and get the oil changed here in Greensboro.  So... this morning I was finally on my way to do that.  Isaac and Jerusha were in the car with me.

    It was overcast and sprinkling outside.  We drove not even 5 minutes up the road from my parents' house and prepared to turn right to go toward the parking lot of the dealership... and....

    The crash was deafening.  We were hit from behind and everything that happened next occurred in slow motion. 

    I gasped, stunned.  I remember Jerusha crying out in shock. Jerusha says she remembers us looking wide-eyed at each other for a split second as our car careened forward, out of control.  Both of our heads snapped forward and a quick moment of severe pain shot through them, then subsided completely.  

    My right foot moved in slow motion, searching.  I have to find the brake pedal or we'll end up in those trees... Have to stop the car...........

    Finally found it and pressed down as hard and fast as I ever have.  We came to a quick stop, slamming hard into the curb on the wrong side of the road we'd been in the process of turning onto.  I remember being so thankful we hadn't jumped the curb and ended up in the trees.

    The entire event happened within probably 3 seconds.  They were the longest 3 seconds of my life.

    "Thank you Jesus that we're okay."  I think I said it out loud.

    Isaac was screaming, crying, shocked and terrified.

    I stumbled out of the car, opened his door, unbuckled him from his car seat with shaky hands.  Never have I been more profoundly thankful for a car seat.  Ever.

    I pulled him out of the car and held and comforted him and he began to calm down.

    I hope his little spine is okay....

    The guy who hit me came over, asked if we were alright, told us he'd tried to stop but lost traction on the wet road.  I asked Jerusha to call 911 and let them know we needed a cop.  I called my parents, who arrived within 5 minutes.  We loaded Isaac's car seat into their car, and they took Isaac and Jerusha back to their house while I waited on the officer to fill out his crash report.

    Nearly two hours later, my dad (who'd dropped the others off at home and then come back to meet me) and I arrived back at my parents' place.  Minus my un-driveable 2012 minivan. :( It's a little sad - I'm not gonna lie.  

    Got an estimate from the body shop at the dealership where I had been planning to get an oil change:  $4,350 worth of damage.  

    Entire rear body/underneath needs replaced.  Front driver's side tire/wheel/rim/possible suspension/steering damage... from slamming into the curb.

    I am so thankful it wasn't my fault.  And that the other guy's insurance policy is legit so we won't have to pay a penny.  And again, that we're all okay.  

    Years ago I lost traction on wet roads and rear-ended someone - so I felt bad for him.  And he was apologetic.  A good guy.  Just a bummer.

    Definitely wondering if we'll wake up with sore necks/backs tomorrow from the insane whiplash moment we experienced.  Really praying Isaac's okay.  He seems to be - he's his normal wild, fun, dancing self. :)

    We have to wait until Wednesday morning for the other guy's insurance adjuster to come out and do their whole estimate thing....for AllState to accept liability for the accident and approve getting the damage fixed.  7 days worth of repairs need to be made on my car, according to the guy at the body shop.  IF we end up needing to get all the work done in North Carolina, that puts us arriving back home in KC probably a full WEEK later than we'd planned.  Eesh.  And that wouldn't be such a big deal except for the fact that my little guy is SERIOUSLY missing his daddy. :(  As am I!  

    There's a chance we'll be able to only get my front left tire/wheel situation fixed here and then drive it back to KC and have the rest of the work done there.  Hoping and praying that that works out.

    All of that said, I don't know that I have anything super profound to say tonight, except just that, despite all the inconvenience and hassle of this whole ordeal, I see the hand of God woven through all of it.  He's good and faithful, and He protects and provides and gives grace for every moment, every circumstance.

    Stay tuned for Part 2 of the story within the next couple of days.

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