While we were on staff retreat last week we did two different times of quiet time with God to ask two questions – what’s setting in your life and what’s rising?
The first question I had almost an immediate answer to, it came so quickly I almost doubted it was from God. But I knew it was because it has been stirring in my soul ever since I went to the Belong Tour. Listening to those women for those two days, I felt a clear message to my heart – it’s time to let go.
It’s time to let go of your insecurity.
It’s time to let go of your old ways.
It’s time to let go of the moving around.
Those days I was feeling this stirring in me. I think it was uneasiness. Since June of 2007 I have changed states 5 times. In those years I have lived in twice as many houses. I never stayed anywhere for more than 18 months. Everything I took with me fit into my Camry.
I’ve now been in my apartment for over 2 years. If I were to move again I would need movers. I started to feel this itch in me, time to go somewhere else.
But the thing that I was struggling with was that I loved my life. I love my church. I love the people I get to do ministry with. I wasn’t feeling a stirring to leave my church. I was just craving change. I think I had become drawn to the constant change. The uncertainty that my future always held. I’d always had an end date, in internships, in places I’ve lived. There was always a goal I was working towards and once I hit that goal it was time to move on.
So naturally I started looking at moving. I had gotten into my head that what I needed was a change of scenery – a new apartment, maybe a townhouse. I need deeper roots here in this place I’m in. If I’m here for the long haul so of course what’s next is a different place to live – moving is what I do.
But standing on the shores of Lake Michigan, I realized the thing I needed to change wasn’t my physical surroundings. It was much deeper than that. It was time to finally realize that God was at work in me, stirring up something. But before that something could come to fruition, something needed to die. My old ways. My old insecurity. My need for the approval of others. The sun was setting on the older version of myself.
The second time we took on the shores of Lake Michigan, we were listening for what was rising. What new thing is God doing in your life that you need to lean into.
I stared out at the waves breaking, I breathed deeply the crisp fall air. But I heard nothing. I don’t know what’s rising in me, what the new thing is God’s trying to do in me.
So I guess I’ll do what my favorite seminary professor would tell me to do – Be faithful. I’ll just keep walking and see what he brings for me.
I’m currently sitting in the car driving back from a staff retreat in Michigan. It’s been an amazing couple of days as we’ve celebrated, processed and enjoyed the company of each other.
We started off this retreat with a spiritual practice on the shores of Lake Michigan, listening to God and reflecting on what is setting in our lives. Like the sun sets, what in our lives is it time to let go of in order for new things to rise.
I realized that for most of my adult Christian life, this Lake has been where I see God. Where he has revealed himself to me in so many ways. And how many times I almost missed what he had for me. So as I join in on this week’s link up at Mrs. Discple, I’m continuing to process this. So here we go –
#FridayFive: Blessings I almost missed out on
When I first moved to MI in 2007, I barely knew anyone. It was my first experience away from my family. I was also in the midst of a particularly challenging season where it felt like I was constantly running away. One day I went to the beach of Lake Michigan with my head phones and iPod, ready to spend time with God through my music. Only I got to the beach and my iPod was dead. I remember being so mad. How am I supposed to hear from God without my music?? But I sat down in the sand anyway. I had never been still before God. Silent before God.
In those moments I felt God in a new and powerful way. It started me down a path of healing. I’ve always struggled with being alone- I’m an extrovert. But I’ve come to a point now where I can be alone and not feel lonely. There are so many times in my life I wish I could go back to and tell younger me to be okay by herself.
Paying my dues
When I’m in a healthy place I understand my own limitations. There was a time in my early ministry days when I was offered a job I was not ready for. I turned it down because of it. But there was another time of my life that I wasn’t offered a job I thought I was ready for. Instead I was offered an opportunity to be mentored and grow. I was really disappointed. But I took the opportunity given to me and now I know that God still had things to do with me.
The year that followed that hard decision was an unbelievable blessing. My ministry has benefited from that year of refining and growing. But I almost missed it because I thought I was ready before my time.
Influence of deep friendships
I am a 2 on the Enneagram – I’m called the loving one. The way I function in relationship is to always be looking to care for people. Sometimes that opens me up to being used and taken advantage of, I put others needs before my own. I went through a season of life where I was constantly giving of myself but not getting much back. It closed me off to having meaningful relationships. I always felt that no one could give me what I needed and I was constantly giving others whatever they needed.
I had a friend come into my life that was also a 2. Frequent readers know her as my Roomsmate. She entered my life in a time when I needed someone to care for me. To ask me how I was doing. Through her love and friendship I was able to open up more. Process why I felt the way I felt because she felt it too. I wasn’t alone.
Through that blessing of a relationship, I was able to quantify what I needed in friendship. So now, I can see relationships for what they are and choose my investment level. I understand more now what I need in my closest friends in order to feel filled.
I might just be writing this one because I’m the last month I’ve been to three of our denomination’s camps. But let’s just talk about camp.
I did not grow up going to camp. I went camping a ton and I went to sleep away Girl Scout camp. But I did not do camp the way that most of my colleagues did camp. To be really honest, I never understood the appeal. I didn’t get why people talked about it all the time. It seemed a bit like a cult classic movie I’d never seen.
But then I discovered camp. As an adult I’ve fallen in love with camp. Mostly because the three camps near us are really spectacular but also because I’m starting to see it through their eyes. The beauty of life at camp is something that tugs on my heart. I love my job and I love getting to do ministry in this church so don’t worry friends- I’m not leaving. But I’ll be glad to drive up to camp any day.
Trying new things
I can be a bit of an nay sayer. I’m sure we can talk about my psychological development and get to the root of it. But simply put, I’m not super into trying new things. I’m set in my ways, just a bit. But recently I’ve found myself trying to do more out of my comfort zone. Challenging myself to shake off my insecurities and just live my life. Suddenly I’m thinking, what have I been doing all these years?
When we let our insecurities stop us from living, we are being robbed of a blessing. We may hate the new things, but what if those new things let us understand God or others in a new way.
More on this to come because I’m still processing. But I’ve almost missed out on a lot of blessings and moving forward I want to keep my eyes open for more of God and less of the lies that hold me still.
I’m in both a career and a life stage where I am surrounded by moms. I serve as a Pastor to Youth, Kids and their families. And all my friends are having babies… okay not all my friends, but a lot of them. So while I don’t have kids of my own, I recognize the struggles that come along with being a mama to little ones. I see them in the eyes of my friends, of the women I do ministry with, of random women I see at the grocery store and at Target.
So today’s prompt for the #FridayFive over at Mrs. Disciple hits me right in the heart. My version of this prompt will be things I want all my young mom friends to know. Five things from me to you, things I want to know in your heart of hearts. Think of it as a little love letter from me to you.
#FridayFive: Five statements to my Mama to Littles friends
I see you.
I know it’s easy to get lost in the fray of small children. I’ve seen it time and time again when we’re out. People address your kids more than you. OR WORSE – they critique your parenting choices from a 10 second observation in the aisle of a store. You are a beautiful mama and yes your kids are SUPER cute and that’s why people coo over them, but you are amazing too. You are their mama – those cuties are your cuties. So I want you to know that I see you – doing your best, keeping your kids fed, clean and happy. I see all the hard work that goes into it, even when it feels like no one sees you.
Your child’s crying doesn’t bother me
I don’t know when it became socially unacceptable for kids to cry. They have very little control over their little bodies and their big emotions. To mamas I don’t know in the stores – I wish you didn’t need to feel the need to apologize for your child’s crying. You can’t control it and chances are that they can’t either. I know you’re doing all that you can, sometimes kids cry and it’s okay. You just do you and I promise I’m not judging.
I’m sorry when I say stupid things
I know they’re going to come out. No matter my experience with kids or my own nieces, chances are I’m going to say something that I don’t mean. It may come out as judgmental or like I’m telling you what to do. Or I may accidentally be braggy about sleeping in until 9 a.m. on a Saturday. I don’t have kids – I don’t fully understand. I know that, you know that – but I’m human and I’m going to slip up sometimes. I’m also sorry for all the times other people have said mean things or given you advice that makes you feel like a bad mom. You’re not a bad mom. They don’t have your kids or your situation. You need to do what’s right for your family, so you do you. Always remember Amy Poehler says we’re allowed to say, “Good for you, not for me.”
I’m so proud of you
I seriously have some of the greatest mama friends. I see them fighting for, loving, protecting, playing with, comforting their kids every day. They’ve each seen struggles in their journeys and they have triumphed in amazing ways. They get up every morning and do what needs to be done for their kids. I’ll never get over how cool it is that they get to be moms to some of the most amazing kiddos I know. How great they each were created to be exactly what those kids need. God has shown up in amazing ways in their lives and I’m so proud that I get to call them my friends.
Thank you for letting me be a part of your kids lives.
I don’t say this enough – but thank you. Your kids are a delight to know. I know it is an honor to be able to be a part of their lives. To be an extra Auntie, to be their Pastor, to be a Miss Alicia, to be a presence in their lives. You’ve trusted me with one (or more) of your most precious possessions and I am honored. I love knowing your kids. That first time they say my name, the first time they choose to come to me to tell me about their day, those days they ask if I can come to lunch with you, the sadness when they finally learn to say all the letters in my name – I treasure it all. I will never get sick of hearing their stories, of reading the same books over and over again, of pushing them on a swing, of retelling them all my bee stories.
To all my mama friends – I love you all. You’re doing great and I’m on your side.