Deuces 2016!

Closing out another year begs reflection—I don’t know if that’s because we can say, “yay, we made it!” when we didn’t think we would or just the simple fact that as something ends, something else naturally begins.

In all respects, 2016 was a good year for me (which is probably my positivity in strength finders speaking) but it was not without its lows. I dealt with issues of identity, fear, loneliness, and worth—among others. I continue to wrestle some of these bears, along with putting out my hands to God of what the future holds both internally as well as externally.

But as I think about this last year I am amazed at all that happened and the strength that has come as a result of not letting past demons, current set backs, or other people overshadow my own voice and God’s leading. I’m grateful for the mulligan in life that I’ve been given even though it came through an immense amount of pain and difficulty.

So what do I want for the future—be that just tomorrow or a whole other year? I guess you could say these are my resolutions because I am resolved to making these things happen, but it’s more than that. It’s the anthem of my heart, the leading of my passions, and the desires God has given me that carry me forward day in and day out. So what are they?jlk_8978

It all goes back to my mission in life: to live authentically, love fearlessly, and to connect deeper to God and to people so we each embody who we were made to be.

Live Authentically

Like most people, I can often hide from my mistakes and the uglier parts of who I am because I want to be liked and to seem like I have all my stuff together when in reality I’m so far from perfect. In 2017, there’s more raw ugliness that I need to shed in order to let go of the past, being open to the present, in order to step into the future. So the New Year will indeed be another opportunity for a new me—one closer to who I was made to be, which excites me, scares me, and I pray, encourages others.

Love Fearlessly

My ministry is one of love. If you know me, the real me, you know that I am a lover of people. I like to see the souls of people and encourage the truth of who they are. Loving people is hard because you can’t put up walls or guards. You have to be open and vulnerable and that means you’re an easy target for wounding. And as ridiculous, dangerous, and awful as it may sound, that is where I want to live. On the front lines of loving people and relying on God to be my strength as I take the beatings both from my own battles, but also picking up others who have been hurt and reminding them that they are so loved. I guess in some respects—once a combat medic, always a combat medic!

Connect Deeper to God & to People

In case there was a doubt—I love Jesus and I’m committed to following after God. I am the first to admit that I don’t do that perfectly or in some cases well (especially while driving). But I do, I love God and 2016 has taught me that when I release control and reorient my perspective, what God brings is so much better both in life and in relationship. In his book, True Community, Jerry Bridges says, “the vertical aspect of fellowship (union and communion with God) provides both the foundation and the pattern for the horizontal aspect (fellowship among believers). A community relationship among believers presupposes a living relationship with God and is, in fact, dependent on it.” The bottom line is that while some days I’m not a good Christian, I pray to God that I can be a better human. Furthering my relationship with God is the life that I’m about.

I had a friend ask me today what my word of intention is for 2017. So I thought about how I would summarize my mission statement into one word for the year ahead. At first I thought it would be “war” because I’m fighting to keep progressing in these areas that are messy, raw, and personal. But as I continued to think on it, I don’t want to be a person at war. I don’t want my life to feel like a fight—been there, done that.

So my word of intention is actually the opposite of fight, it’s surrender. I want to surrender myself to the joys and sorrows that this next year will bring knowing that as I surrender myself to God in the areas of authentic living, fearless loving and deep connection, only blessing will follow.

I don’t know how your year has been or where this next year will take you. But I do know that you are loved more than you’ll ever know, worth more than you give yourself credit for, and stronger than your circumstances. Grace and peace to you my friend!

Until next time and next year…Live as a Masterpiece!

 

In 2017, I will be embarking on the journey of raising financial support as I finish up my internship. If you would like to partner with me in prayer and financial giving this next year in life and ministry, you can give online (it’s tax-deductible):

https://www.mogiv.com/themovement/studentminitiresintern

More info regarding my ministry to come!

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Lessons From The Playground in The School of Hard Knocks (Part 2)

First off I want to thank you for helping me celebrate my 6-month Blog-iversary!!! Sometimes me and the blog don’t always spend the necessary time together that we need to, but we are still very much in love as the first day we connected and excited for what’s ahead. With that said, don’t forget to share, like and follow to be entered into the drawing where TWO people will win free blog swag. One entry per media for each share or like on Insta, Facebook, Twitter, & WordPress. Winners announced next week!

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Last post, I talked about the burdens and joys in Masterpiece living that came to mind as I went on a play date to the park with one of my mom friends and her kids. Again, the whole experience was not all bad but I wanted to save the best for last as I thought about what that experience taught me. To summarize last post (even though you should really take the time to read it…but I’m biased) it was evident to me that from a young age we learn about this unspoken pecking order that we have to navigate through, find our place in, and usually to the detriment of others, maintain our position in.

My encouragement last post was that we recapture “competition” and take hold of the idea that we discover and experience the best in ourselves in the context of relationship with others, not in competition but working alongside each other well and even, dare I say, helping one another.

But, going further into my playground experience, there was so much that warmed my heart as I saw these kids interact. The first, and isn’t this always the case with kids, is the idea of play. That kids when given freedom to entertain themselves with a few simple items and an unfettered imagination can make up their own reality turning the ordinary into extraordinary.

So often there is this shift as we grow up where we forgo play and trade it in for The Grind. To be an adult we need to get rid of the imagination, dreams, and the element of fun that kids have in spades. Much of our day-to-day, even aspects of our faith, is met with the things I can’t or shouldn’t do versus the freedom to swingthink or act outside of the box and the encouragement to push past the norms of what we know.

These kids grouping together after a simple introductions, making up storylines, playing characters with heroic attributes, avoiding lava and rescuing each other from imaginary foes beautifully reminds me that we are able to fashion our world any way we want. That we are given liberty and allowance for our lives to encapsulate beauty, creativity, and even irregularity from the norm. We can choose or not choose to exist under the rules (real or imaginary) and our lives don’t have to always make sense to others.

I started to ask where the sense of play went. I think I have become so tethered to the rules around me—what I should or shouldn’t do and the voice of the others, that play falls to the wayside. But why? And I think that in part this comes from the reaction that every time I become excited about something, it’s more often than not met with defeat, caution, negative lines of questioning or personal opinion by those around me. Do you ever go through that?

When I say that I’m thinking about going skydiving—I don’t think that’s safe. When I say that I’m thinking about moving—are you sure you should do that, what about your family and friends here? When I talk about new people I’ve met—maybe you need to be less social because you can only handle so many people? When I talk about what God is leading me through—maybe you should continue to pray about that. The ringing in my ears of the others comments makes me tow the line of what popular opinion for my life of what I should or shouldn’t do. Granted in every situation I value that others want to speak into my life, but I’m trying to find the balance of where others can tell me their heart and where I just have to say, “no, it’s my life to lead.”

Elle Luna in her book, “The Crossroads of Should and Must,” talks about how the “should” in our lives (expectations, obligations, roles we are supposed to be, what is put on us from the outside) which compete with the must’s (who we are, the things in our lives that bring us to life and ultimately bring us the most joy). The “should” in some ways are must’s in training, but it is important to discern how we feel about these “should’s” and their place in our lives. But also to realize that at some point, “should’s” outgrow their use. We are not bound by them and therefore cannot continue to let them rule our lives and disrupt who we are becoming—who inevitably we NEED to be for our souls to live fully.

This brings me to my other exciting playground insight. Kids, for the most part are fearless. The little sister (from the monkey bars in last post) came up to me, introduced herself, started telling me about her family, her likes, the new dog she recently got and had no fear that I would judge her, not accept her, or that I would say who she was is wrong. It reminded me who I am, while not perfect, is accepted. I am accepted not because some person said I was, but because of whom God says I am. He calls me His child, loved, a part of His family, and worthy to die for.

Elle Luna goes on to talk about how the “should’s” we take on can be results of painful shame experiences. So we react to shame with the idea that we need to change ourselves because at one point the person we were was not accepted. So here’s the sick cycle. We come out in all of our splendor and experience not being accepted. So we put on how we “should” act and then when that person isn’t accepted either, we don’t know what to do, so we continue putting on the different “should” personalities seeing which one will be accepted. Those “should” personalities are hemmed in by the rules and boxes of their respective environments, which in turn confine us to an unspoken set of rules that limit all that we could be. Do you follow me? You can either choose to be a crazy person adapting yourself to the different environments, or you can attempt be yourself and cope with the fact that not everyone is going to like you, your actions, your lifestyle, your opinions, or your thought processes.

My encouragement to myself and also to you is that we look at the “should’s” in our lives that have taken captive the little dreamers inside us. The rules and roles that we have bound ourselves to that do not bring us into a fuller picture of who we are. Where did they come from? Are those “should’s” still true for me and who I am today? Do I choose to keep holding on to them or can I release them to step into a fuller picture of who I am or who I am becoming? The sassy part of me wants to tell people to take their “should” and shove it where the sun don’t shine, but that’s not very productive, now is it?

As cliché and juvenile as it sounamanda-8932ds, let’s get back to being those crazy kids we were before, the ones who were fearless—driven by imagination and heart, unstoppable as to what the possibility of tomorrow held. I always tell people who talk about their age that today is the youngest that you’re ever going to be for the rest of your life, so live it up. I give each of us permission to play a little today, letting the should go, and living into the fullness of who we are.

Until next time…Live as a Masterpiece!