Wild Flower

We were in her living room, “watching” Moana (more like scrolling through our social media accounts) and the urge to plan and do something random hit me.

These moments seem to happen more frequently and the thrill soaked my bones, making me feel alive; pushing me to live beyond the mediocrity of the life I created.

“We should go to Hawaii for our birthdays next year!” I said eyes glued to the screen, heart pumping.

Lynnise being Lynnise looked at me, some excitement in her eyes and agreed. She started asking questions like “How much is the flight?”, “How long are we staying?”, “How long is the flight?” I answered her after every google search, my excitement growing and her seemingly fading.

“I’ll pass,” She said. I looked at her with disappointment and began to think of something else we could plan together for my 30th and her 23rd birthday. But it was too late, the longing for water, the beach, mountain air and anything away from Georgia already had my mind away from the present moment.

“Fine. I’ll go without you.” And so I proceeded to calculate the cost of such a trip, to celebrate my entrance into the 30’s, alone.

My 29th birthday will be here in 7 short days, and something that I have learned in this chapter of my life is that everything that I would like to do, as much as I would like to do it with others, I may have to do it alone. I’m a single women, with no kids and no serious obligations besides school and work. There isn’t too much holding me back from living the life that I want to live. Looking back on my life now, I’ve always waited for others to say “yes” to the things going on in my head and heart. I sought approval for my hearts desires and didn’t always make a move. I chiseld and molded myself to what I believed was eveyone elses design for me, that in the midst of it all, my identity became blurred and desires silence and shrivled.

I may not know everything about me in this present moment (mostly because this Zquil is starting to kick in) but I know one thing is true: I will live wildly.

With and with out borders.
With good intentions.
With a crown.
With a sword.
With wild flowers.
With a good mug of coffee.
With passion and vibrancy.
With the Spirit that lives in me and the God who created me.
With love and tenderness.
With loud music and quiet moments.
With wild curls or messy buns.

But without your permission to do so.

I have lived safe and small and scared, waiting for people to approve what God has always given me a green light on. If I have to brave getting a new tattoo alone, eating alone, making the long drive to the beach, start a business, experiencing a new coffee shop or anything that would make me happy (that’s good and from God), I will.

And I will not wait for you.
I will not wait for your plans or your comfortability, I’m going to live.

I have to live.

I was not created for a box.
I was not created to be small and safe.

My bones can no longer be cramped inside small minds, small spaces or timid hearts.

 

Fall nights.

Hello there,

I know, it’s been a while since I last let my heart spill on blank pages. But here I am.
I just wanted to let you know that I was thinking of YOU. I was thinking of US. And I was letting my heart break for those of us that have felt like we’ve been drowning in muckiness this year. Like we were smothered by the weight of our mistakes, circumstances, inward battles and deep wounds that have been cut open all over again.

I know the feeling. My entire being experiences it sometimes but the feelings have come far and few between.

I want to give you this moment, as you take in my words on this page, to go outside and look up. It’s October now and the air just feels right. There’s a coolness around us now: the sky is a bit clearer, the stars a bit more visible and though we may forget it sometimes, we are looking into the same sky that many great men and women have looked up to years ago. We are counted along with them in the twinkling, dark mass.

I came home from work this evening, windows down and sunroof open and I sensed something was cracking in my spirit. Everything used for my fortress around me has no longer been able to keep it together. The Living God has been knocking on it and the weight of His Glory is making progress because I have been slowly allowing it. Behind this fortress that I had built for myself there is nothing left for me at the table I chose to sit at. But I’ve had multiple occasions where I would peak over the walls and find a feast and The Father waiting for me. I glanced longingly at the deliciousness of His love and grace, forgiveness dripped like honey, hope looked refreshing to my dying soul and the smell of sweet peace for the future slipped under my nostrils. My mouth watered for such a fulfilling delicacy but the dirt and grime that accumulated shouted for me sit back down in my cracking, unstable chair. And so, I sat, but something deep down inside of me whispered that I would no longer be accustomed to the chair of a pauper for much longer. I’ve seen too much but I have yet to taste it.

As the cracking and Holy demolition continues, I am charged to tell you simply this:

The season in the physical is changing, but so is the spirit. The air is getting colder, leaves are turning, dying and falling and so will the chains.

They have rusted.
They are breaking.
And they will fall around your feet.

The weight, feelings of drowning and our dirt covered selves will be no more and the tears will no longer be from sadness and condemnation, but of joy and liberation. Fall will bring out the most beautiful death in us because there will be room for the harvest. Winter will come shortly and its bone-chilling air will push us into the warm arms of Abba. Seeds of something beautiful will be planted in our hearts and new life will begin again.

But we must allow death to take its course.
Beautiful things cannot take place amongst dying soil and sick roots.

Take in this beautiful, uncomfortable part of life, my friend. Let every stronghold, evil thought, mistake, and problem die, and fall at the Cross. Don’t long to hold onto it, don’t crave the bitter, foul and unsatisfactory taste. Cry in your broken, human nature if you must. And then rise up, push past the rubble of your fallen fortress and take your permanent place at the table and feast underneath the stars that shine for you.

Steep in this season.
Steep in these fall nights.

10 Years

It was a normal work day. I was on my lunch break when I opened my Facebook app to see a group invite. Normally, I ignore them, but this was different. It was a group for planning my 10 year class reunion. I almost squealed with excitement. I got excited see all the familiar names and faces of people I spent 4 or more years of my life with, people who I walked the stage with celebrating the end of another season.

As classmates proclaimed their excitement for the reunion, I did what any responsible 27-year-old would do at a time like this…. I shamelessly Facebook stalked as far as their privacy settings would allow. Pictures of college graduations, engagement and baby announcements, job promotions and world travels filled my screen; their lives played like highlight reels and I became increasingly jealous as I looked on every page. This continued for the whole weekend, taking up all of my free time. My heart and mind became convinced that I spent these years poorly and that there was nothing that I could bring to show my life has had some value when reunion day arrived. I have no college degree, nor a corporate America job that could magically make people love and admire me when they ask what happened after graduation. I’m not married or even have a boyfriend and I’m childless.

During one of my lunch breaks this past weekend, I expressed my feelings of failure to a close friend from ALC. My eyes filled with tears and my heart cried bitterly to God for my wasted years (bloopers) and even briefly  believed that he was upset with me as well. I replayed the year my parents divorced and how I spent so much time being emotionally effected by it. I replayed the night I prayed for deliverance from an addiction, experiencing the freedom that came afterwards by just simply walking away from it daily, only to crawl back and lock myself up to it months later. I replayed the rejection of young men my heart longed for and how I had looked at myself feeling like I wasn’t enough to experience love. I replayed the two semesters of college that I attended and flunked because of my inability of caring or even believing that I was smart enough to pass any of my classes. I stepped away from success and became comfortable working thankless jobs that were unable to see my worth and I laid in bed with the dreams of being something better only to wake up with not reaching for them the next day.

My phones ringtone pulled me out of my cloud of shame, my friend had responded back:

“Even though it’s not where you want to be or the “ideal” life for your age, doesn’t mean you’re failing. You are just waiting on God, that’s all that matters.”

I read her response over and over again letting it marinate for hours. I sought the Lord on my day off, and though my heart wanted those words to ring true throughout my entire being,  it wasn’t doing it as quickly as I would like. But slowly, I had to raise my hand and heart in surrender to the truth that was being whispered to me in my idle moments.

My parents may have divorced but God brought me to a place where I no longer feared a beautiful marriage for myself in the future. I may have been disgusted with my appearance but He showed me how beautiful each curl of my hair was and there was nothing wrong with my glorious thunder thighs. I may have struggled with pornography but He displayed purity and placed it in my heart to long for that. I may have not graduated from college but my work places became my classrooms of learning and growth, even when I hated them sometimes. I shied away from pain, rejection and insecurity but He continuously pushed me to not hold my heart so close but rather keep it out no matter how many times it was beaten and bruised.

I traveled to China and smuggled Bibles and ate with other parts of the Church. I learned to fly a plane, went on hikes with some amazing people, gained skills and a passion for serving others, got two tattoos and a piercing despite my distaste for needles, sat under amazing leaders, gained a natural gift of writing and speaking. I boldly speak about my struggles, opening the door for women to be transparent about theirs and finally, but certainly not the least important, I got back with Jesus. My success may not look like much to everyone else but I spent these years preparing myself for the things that could possibly wreck the glorious kingdom plans God has for me. Falling victim to comparison may have brought me to a low point but My God reminded me that all these years were not wasted. I’m healing, I’m becoming whole, I’m being prepared for the best that has yet to come.

I am the double-edged sword sporting a flowing dress because I am a weapon that is embracing her beauty, I only spent these years being sharpened and shined. I am not the plastic weapon wearing rag dresses that I always believed. My blade-smith took special care in making me the person that I am today. What tried to keep me dull,ordinary and rusty like others around me has long been defeated, I need only to remind myself daily of what has been won.

I am for certain that when I walk into the room next year and surround myself with my past peers, their accomplishments will not push me into a shadow of regret, but rather on the bleachers cheering them on. Because during this week, I have learned the hard way that comparison is a weapon to destroy the truth that was already engraved in me, but so am I to the lies that tried to destroy me.

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.