Being Brave: Leaving the Safe Familiar

devo_johnson“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” ~ John A. Shedd

Brave has become one of my favorite words.

My younger daughter introduced our family to the word brave. Growing up, she often processed her feelings out loud and needed a great deal of verbal encouragement. When she was little and had about worn me out one day with her worries, complaints, aches, pains, and fears, I told her that I didn’t know what else I could do for her. I had no more answers, and I was at a loss for how to help her. Whatever it was, I couldn’t fix it. She said these words to me, which have continued to be our mantra to one another:

Mom, I just need you to tell me I’m a brave soldier.

As she grew up and faced some difficult circumstances, I said those words over and over and over until she claimed them for herself. She continued to push herself forward in spite of her fears and learned to surround herself with others who will applaud and encourage her attempts at valor. For her nineteenth birthday last year, I gave her a bracelet with the words “Be Brave” etched into a silver cuff–a concrete symbol of my words to her when I am too far away to speak the reminder out loud. I wear an identical bracelet as a reminder that I, too, am capable of courage.

Some days life feels overwhelming, and the path forward is not clear. It is tempting to stay stuck in the safe and familiar, even when the familiar is less than desirable. Being brave is hard work. Stepping out of our comfort zones, risking vulnerability, trying new things, pursuing our passions, and moving forward in spite of our fears often requires all the courage and resolve we can muster. In order to be successful, we would be wise to surround ourselves with those who name us brave and remind us we are meant for lives of risk and daring.

Continue reading on The Glorious Table

Holding Space: When Listening Leads to Healing

Holding SpaceA number of years ago, I had the honor of walking closely with one of my best friends during the final months of her marriage. It was heartbreaking to watch her dreams for their life together be blown apart by his verbal and physical abuse, yet it was a privilege to witness her courage, resilience and determination.

During the months before they split for good, many people in her life pleaded with her to leave him. They were understandably horrified by the ways he treated her, yet she was not quite done fighting for her marriage and started to resent the voices pushing her to make a decision before she was ready. Although my nature is generally to try to fix problems and offer advice as well, in this case I sensed advice was not what she needed from me. Instead, in a moment of uncharacteristic clarity and self-control, I chose to simply bear witness and be with her. I (mostly) avoided giving advice or offering opinions, in spite of what seemed the obvious solution.

I simply listened.

I told her I believed in her and knew she would ultimately make the best decision for her life. I told her she was brave and I loved her. I told her she was welcome in my home whenever she needed a safe place to be.

I held space for her to listen to God and her best self- in her own time and at her own pace.

Blogger and coach Heather Plett defines holding space in this way:

Holding space means we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.

I tell the story above as an example of holding space to which I aspire. Even in a situation where I had some clarity about what was needed, I held space for my friend sloppily and imperfectly. She was hurting and I wanted to make her better. Continue reading

Hold Hands and Pray

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Grand OpeningSome of the best moments of my life have been marked by the decision to hold hands and pray.

One of the places where I have learned the most about holding hands and praying is The Lamb Center. At The Lamb Center, we hold hands and pray at least six times a day as a community. We pause, we gather, we join hands, and we bow our heads. We talk to God about what has happened so far in our day and what is coming next. We acknowledge how much we need our Heavenly Father and how much we need each other. We say thank you and we ask for help. No fancy words or rituals, just a moment to say We love you too, Lord. 

In this community, prayer is a part of the moment-by-moment rhythm of each day, as natural as breathing. If I’m honest, this kind of “praying without ceasing” is a way of living to which I have always aspired personally but have never been able to consistently maintain on my own.

Yesterday, we again held hands and prayed at The Lamb Center. Yesterday’s time of prayer marked an extremely significant milestone in the life of our LC family. Yesterday, after years and years of waiting and hoping, we celebrated our beautiful brand new building with an enormous party. Over 400 people wandered through and took tours of the place God built in answer to thousands of prayers. Community leaders spoke, we cut a red ribbon with giant scissors, and we took hundreds of pictures. It was a day brimming with joy, laughter and gratitude.

Two years ago, we set out to raise 4.5 million dollars to build a more welcoming place of respite for poor and homeless individuals in our community. When the party started yesterday, we were joyfully celebrating the fact God had already provided 4 million towards our goal through the generosity and prayers of his people, an amount beyond our wildest dreams. When the party ended yesterday, Continue reading

For the Chronic Overcommitter: How to Break the Cycle

IMG_2093Left unsupervised, I’m a zealous joiner. Every project, every committee, every study group, and every volunteer role sounds like the perfect opportunity for me to get involved and make a contribution. When I hear about a new possibility or project, my immediate reaction is to raise my hand or make a beeline for the sign-up link.

I remember the first year both of my girls were in school all day. After seven years in the trenches with babies, toddlers, and then preschoolers, what in the world was I going to do with all of this extra time? The possibilities seemed endless! What I did was sign up for far too many things; room mom for both of the girls’ classes, new responsibilities at church, and the beginnings of several projects at home. It quickly became apparent that I had overcommitted. I had overreached my personal capacity for juggling, and the balls were hitting the floor all around me.

Truth be told, I have a limited attention span. I also have limited resources in terms of time and energy. Much to my frustration, I can only be in one place at a time. I require regular food, exercise, and sleep in order to keep my motor running, and possibly even more importantly, to be nice to the people with whom I live. As much as I would like to have superhero multi-tasking abilities, I am only human.

Many of us find ourselves buying into some kind of Wonder Woman complex. Too many of us are frazzled and stressed out by the abundance of responsibilities we are attempting to manage well, while simultaneously feeling like failures because we can’t seem to keep up with how fast our world is moving.

Thanks to the hard work of the generations of women who have come before us, women today can choose to have a family and also to pursue our passions outside the home…

Read the rest of this post at The Glorious Table

The Lure of the Quick Fix

The Lure of the Quick FixI prefer a quick fix to my problems, don’t you? I am all about the prayer on the run, a Google search for remedies, a YouTube do-it-yourself video, or a pill to make me feel better in 30 minutes or less.

If I can’t find a way to fix it quick, then I assume I just haven’t looked in the right place yet. I haven’t prayed enough, tried hard enough, read enough information or asked the right people.

Yet, when I look around me, I repeatedly find few things of value or substance happen quickly. Healing almost never.

Sigh.

My mom had hip replacement surgery last week and I am in Texas right now attempting to be helpful. (Don’t worry, she is napping right now while I am writing, so I am not neglecting her.) The physical therapist was here a little while ago and reminded her several times she had many weeks, possibly months of healing ahead of her. Patience, he said, was her friend. Patience and, of course, her new walker which she absolutely must use for at least four weeks.

I needed to hear the word patience today. I have been struggling with some less daunting health challenges than a hip replacement recently and I find patience is not one of my virtues. I want to fix it and feel better NOW. As I look back over the last month or so and compare it to other times in my life I have had seasons of struggling, I see these familiar patterns:

  • Deny I am struggling
  • Admit I am struggling
  • Get angry and offended by my problem
  • Try multiple quick fixes to solve my problem, including demanding God fix it immediately
  • Spend some time feeling sorry for myself when I can’t fix the problem immediately
  • Look around and see others with much more difficult circumstances
  • Feel guilty for and embarrassed by my self-pity
  • Apologize to people close to me for struggling and being needy
  • Realize my arrogance in thinking I shouldn’t ever be the needy one
  • Do more research on potential solutions
  • Get out of my own head for a while and do something for somebody else
  • Cycle back through all of the above numerous times
  • Pray for guidance, peace and patience
  • Be still, breathe and listen
  • Embrace Plan B

Ok, the last one I am still working on.

One of my dear friends who struggles every single day with a life-threatening chronic illness introduced me to the idea of embracing Plan B. Life has thrown her some pretty significant curve balls and she has had to do some major adjusting to find a new normal. Continue reading

Insomnia Sucks: Reflections from a Sleep-Deprived Brain

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IMG_1868You know it is time to ask for help when the sleepy little Waze guy in his comfy hammock above the words Sleep Mode bring you to tears.

I am not making this up.

In case anyone other than my mother has noticed my absence here on the blog, I haven’t written much lately because I have been operating on decreased brain power. In the last few weeks, I have experienced two long stretches of sleepless nights. Four or five nights in a row of less than three hours of sleep results in subpar functioning for this already middle-aged muddled brain. Writing coherent words was not happening.

No sleep also pisses me off and makes me say more curse words than usual.

As I have lamented here before, middle age hormones have been disruptive to my much beloved sleep. Until recently, the disruption to my sleep primarily looked like a few restless nights a month and was generally well managed with strategic doses of Benadryl and Melatonin.

Recently however, I have begun to have nights where I flip and flop until the wee hours of the morning or never fall asleep at all. In recent weeks, this has turned into a nightly ritual and a gigantic pain in the ass. When I started crying at the sight of the Waze guy dozing in his hammock, I knew it was time to go see my doctor.

Here is the good news: thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, I finally slept for 9 uninterrupted hours last night. In a bed. All night. When I woke up and looked at my watch this morning, I threw my arms over my head with fist pumps of victory. I haven’t been so grateful for a decent night’s sleep since my babies first slept through the night.

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, So what. We all have problems, Kelly. Why are you telling us about this and why should we care?

I’m so glad you asked. Continue reading

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