Open Season

Open:

  • parrēsia: boldness, confidence
  • having the interior immediately accessible
  • without covering, especially a protective covering ; unprotected;exposed

As the year comes to a  bittersweet close and you mentally jot down your resolutions, goals, dreams that you want to fulfill (and that you actually fulfill them), my prayer for you this upcoming year is:

That you let your arms shoot up in sweet surrender of trying to take control of everything out of fear.

That you bring forth boldness in the new things.

That you are void of what has held you back for way too long.

That in your openness, you encounter authenticity with God and others and that you find your identity in new relationships and your time with the Savior.

That your confidence in the God who knows your future, outweighs your “what-if” moments.

And finally…

That you wake up immediately  accessible to transparency, vulnerability and God given authority.

Happy New Year, my friend and welcome to your Open Season.

Permission to Desire

de·sire
dəˈzī(ə)r/

a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

It’s in the strangest places that God nudges you to look up words to show you what you are lacking. Or maybe just what you choose to not acknowledge.

I’m probably the only one that has been feeling like society has set the standard for women. That we should be independent, strong and without the need (or desire) of a man. Or that we should be wives, bare foot and pregnant making 3 meals a day for our families, cleaning up the house, clothes perfectly intact with a smile on our face. But we can’t be both.

There is no such thing as having both.

In my eyes, the first standard punched the latter in the face and I never dared myself to desire it. Yes, I may talk about it every once in a while, but in my alone time, I never gave myself the green light to truly desire it.

To hope

to dream

to pray on it.

Inadequacies, flawed men and broken hearts kept me from wanting what most girls desired. Love. Marriage. A baby carriage.

So I dreamed to take on the world, without a man and without a child. Because I believed in the lie that it wasn’t for me, it was for her, her and her.

Because independent women didn’t need anyone and should be so goal oriented that they don’t have time to want anything else than setting the world of fire.

It was in the hotel room of Orlando, Florida that God showed me different.

In my pursuit to desire God and know his heart is where I find the very desires he has for me. Being in close relationship with the King means to share the same vision.

Desires from God are good, pure, and purposeful. And he showed me that the desires that I was beginning to experience were from the good soils of his heart. Kingdom minded. Fulfilling. Perfectly Okay.

I had to give myself permission to D E S I R E

To hear wedding bells and slay giants

To be barefoot and pregnant and help bare thirsty, dry bones to the King of fulfilling waters

To immerse my heart in one of a child and in Christ-centered agendas.

Because it’s all perfectly okay.

I’m learning now that the heart of God is calling for women to grow in the identity that he desires for them.

To be beautiful, resilient world changers, world thinkers, loving wives and nurturing mothers. That the delicate, bold and beautiful design of a woman is something to embrace, enjoy and cultivate. Not ignore or suppress.

Why? Because it comes from Him and it’s perfectly okay.

Beyond the Shores

It’s 1:21 am and I’m wide awake (thanks to the coffee drink I made at the cafe tonight. You the real MVP, iced peppermint white mocha). All 4 or 5 of the boxes from my ALC apartment are unpacked and put away and my room looks fantastical. I’ve sat on my bed or paced my newly vacuumed carpet praying from both my lips and my heart and it finally hit me. A week into being back home everything I learned about Jesus, myself and others has finally clicked.

I’ve glanced at these tokens, letters and pictures neatly organized in various places in my room and I finally understand why God pushed me to go to Atlanta Leadership College and why I most likely won’t be going back.

Before ALC I depended too much on myself and my own abilities. If you asked me beforehand if I trusted God with all the major and minor details that happened this school year, I’d lie to your face and say yes. The big “aha” moment boils down to this: He placed me in a season where I had no other choice but to seek and trust Him. He put amazing people in my path that spoke life into me and also shined a light on what I didn’t want to see. He showed me how he sees me and that he is a good good Father if I allow myself to think and act as His daughter. And he gave me hope in my future in that Father/Daughter relationship.

I’ve entered small pruning seasons in my life before but I’m a firm believer that this past season was the biggest one of all. In a place where change is more like a microwave, I kind of slow roasted my way through. I’m not fully cooked but all the raw parts of me are becoming more than perfect; the God flavors are coming to the surface.

But why do I believe that I won’t be returning for a second year, you ask? Because in order for me to chase after what he wants me to do for His kingdom, I had to be in a place where hindrances were exposed and removed so that I can move forward. If going back for a second year is part of it, then I will obey and go, but I don’t think I need to. At first I was afraid to acknowledge the possibility of not going back and I cried like a baby. I shrunk back into that fear of the unknown again. God caught me before I could go back too far and revealed to me a couple of things.

1. He showed me the end of this year and how he was going to provide for it. But that it was just for this year, not for the next. I believe that he knew I’d plan too far ahead and try doing the next year without Him and we all know that could turn out badly.

2. I also believe that he revealed what he wants me to do next and I’m seriously excited about it. So excited, that the thought of a second year seemed less than thrilling.

Do I want to return and be with the best AC family ever? Yes. Do I want to continue being trained in a Godly environment? Yes. But do I need to continue with ALC to do it? Nope. And it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world or the end of this journey.

I’m beyond grateful for God luring me from the warm sand beneath my toes and into the salty waves. The water is only a bit past my knee caps, but I want to go deeper until I can’t feel the sand underneath me and simply let Him carry me further out. He’s not going to let me drown and to have that kind of confidence in that statement brings so much indescribable peace in my heart that I’m smiling.

I’m ready for the waves to pull me further from the shores of false security.

It is well…

Can you believe that 2014 is coming to a close? I absolutely want to jump out of my skin at the thought of the year that Jesus and I have conquered.

I love Christmas and all, but New Year’s Eve is hands down my favorite time of the year. There is never enough time to reflect really in my life, because I simply do not take enough time to do so, other than today. So as I laid on my couch this morning, in the moment where I’m usually so quick to get this year over with and ready to move on into the next, I actually smiled and embraced the adventure that I embarked on.

Like most, this year had its own theme, mine was all about risks. Daring to shake things up, stepping deeper into the deep end and waiting with great expectation for God’s waves to hit me. I can’t say that every wave was easy, but it was worth learning to endure and simply dive in to. I left behind my comfort zone, got my insecurities and pride shattered and watched as God lovingly, patiently and gently began to reshape me. I met amazing people and learned through them what I was capable of doing when I stopped looking behind me. I knew that me turning 25 this year would be my turning point and that there was no need to go return to old things. I don’t believe that I’ve had as good year like this in a long time.

Although I stopped making resolutions for a while now, I will say that I want to strive at taking risks and having that childlike wonder for the next thing God has in store for me, trusting him in every little move that I make.

So this is for the next big adventure that 2015 WILL be. Creating new and refreshing moments that leave me in awe and showing the very presence of Jesus in them all

Happy New Year, my friends❤

#406

“What’s on your mind 406?”

Do you really want to know, Mr. Samuel Lee aka Adam Hulme? I got woken up twice by the cries of a baby on someone’s laptop in the wee hours of the night. I slept on a gym floor. I got woken up for the final time and it was still dark outside. You guys served us cold (flavorless) oatmeal with no utensils and it tasted like paste. I’m cold and you have me running an obstacle course from the pit of hell SEVERAL TIMES today, along with going into a sketchy looking pond and an ice bath if I fail to memorize 8 verses and a mission statement.

But none of these were what really bothered me, because quite honestly I could do it all again without complaining (but not anytime soon)

The problem wasn’t that I was teamed up with some amazing people who kept telling me that I was doing great and that they are so proud of me, it was that deep down I felt like I was constantly failing them. I had driven myself to the point of tears because I wanted to sound that air horn and leave the event early, but not when it felt like I was leaving them to do this on their own. They were my team, my friends and my support and I didn’t know how to take in all their words of encouragement and reassurance because of my own insecurity. I saw those horns around the leaders necks as failure to complete the assignments given to me and I wasn’t going to walk out looking weak to my classmates. Their [false] thoughts of me as an individual would haunt me for the duration of the school year and I wasn’t sure if I could handle that.

But now that I’m home and it’s just me and my thoughts in this living room, I realize that I was staying so long because of false assumptions that I believed was set in people’s minds about me.

One, I shouldn’t have viewed the success of my day based on what other people thought of me. But how do you change something that you have done for the last 25 years?

Two, I shouldn’t have thought of myself so highly that I saw people’s success of their day based on whether or not I was there.

And three, I need to believe and understand that just because I don’t think so highly of myself in certain areas doesn’t mean that everyone will or is already believing it too.

It’s crazy how I’ve swam in the ocean of pride without realizing it. I’ve always thought of myself as a somewhat humble person when it reality I’ve long since dipped my toes in the water; I’m practically down at the bottom with the Titanic just chilling.

It’s emotionally and physically exhausting to be this way and I can’t express to you enough how much I wanted to crawl back to my team while I was walking away from them at 5:08 pm Monday evening. But I don’t want to live another 25 years and beyond living up to false expectations of my friends and family.

I want to live the next couple of decades of my life perfecting the art of going to bed every night knowing that I gave my 100% without thinking about everyone else.

Because in the end, my greatness shouldn’t be determined on whether you care enough about me and your greatness shouldn’t be determined if I’m there or not.

I Am Onion

great

I’m here. In Atlanta Leadership College. And I absolutely love it. It feels good to be here, it feels right. But it feels even more amazing that I get to rush my fingers across this keyboard and tell you just a snippet of what I’ve experienced.

I miss blogging.

Orientation week was a rough one for me. I met all the staff for the school, met a few of the staff at my church (because I knew pretty much everyone else) and met all of the ladies in the school and went to the Capitol youth service. Very overwhelming for someone who is naturally an introvert. By the second week (last week) it wasn’t as overwhelming. We started getting into the groove of things and it’s not that horrible.

After hugging and shaking hands with staff members at the meet and greet over donuts and coffee, we all began to part ways. I wanted to get my hands on a cup of coffee before heading into orientation, so I walked over to one of the tables and started making myself a cup. I said “hello” to the husband of wonderful woman in the church and he said hello back with a confused look on his face. Once he realized who I was, we talked about me being at ALC and how he already thought I had done the program, given my age, and that I was on staff. I clarified that I was not on staff with the church but I had always wanted to be and he said that he would love to have me there. That, ladies and gents, made me smile. He began to ask me why I never bothered to work at the church and I simply told him that I had applied several times before, but I never got an interview. He then asked me what I had been doing in the mean time  and I told him that I was involved with Celebrate Recovery for the past couple of years and that I was on the prayer team at Fusion and occasionally volunteered for events. This man nodded at my words, stirring his coffee and when I was done, he responded.

“Let me give you some advice. If you want to be here, don’t play the background. Don’t do all these little things behind the curtains. Get out there and show yourself and be excellent at it. Don’t be afraid to be great.

If my face were ice, it would have been melted off the bones by his words. I kept what he said in my heart and it wasn’t until last night during my time with the first year girls that I really unpacked them.

Being great. What does that even look like in my life? I had no clue because I realized that the things that I could be great in, I fled from. I fled from doing music in college because I couldn’t sight-read. I fled from ministering to people in the streets because I didn’t think my words would be enough. I fled from trying out for the dance team at Fusion because I felt that I couldn’t dance as well as most of the girls that were probably there. I fled from making good grades in school because I didn’t think I was smart,  so I didn’t bother to try in high school or in college. And this past Friday, I feared auditioning for the worship team for ALC, so I spent the majority of my time listening to all my new friends audition outside of the doors.

Insecurities and self-doubt lied to me and told me that I couldn’t and shouldn’t do it because there were people who were way better than me and that I can’t make a fool of myself and do what I desired. And I listened. And I missed out. So I’ve been playing the background, letting everyone step out ahead of me. I became content in it because I believed that being in the shadows was where I belonged. And over the summer, before starting school, I heard God tell me to not get comfortable being in the background, and my dear friends, that scared me. But now, it makes sense. And last night, I cried thinking back on the years where I feared stepping out to sing and dance and speak because I felt so small and not gifted enough.

I think this is why I am here. Or at least one of the reasons why I am here. This is only the third week and God is already peeling off the things that I’ve allowed to cover me, to reveal who he has created me to be. I can’t lie to you right now, I’m slightly afraid but excited. For a while now, I’ve only wanted to live my life in excellence for God and myself and now that I know what’s been holding me back all this time I’m curious as to what the future will hold now. But God is so in it and I thank him for opening my eyes to more things.

Let the peeling continue!