Lean In

I wrote this last summer. A song on my playlist kept whispering to me as I was out running on my trail. The thoughts and connections wouldn’t stop, so I did. I stopped along the trail, attempted to catch my breath in a million different ways, and started writing in the notes app on my phone.

I’m sure I looked crazy: swaying back and forth, smiling, nodding at the thoughts, watching the water and other runners pass by, letting the words flow through me. Crazy as I may have looked, I know all my words are for a purpose. So, while they have sat in my phone for months, they needed to gently remind me today… Lean in.

I pray that you are blessed by this today, wherever you are in life.


 

When it all hurts and you want to curl up or just run far, don’t. Don’t. Lean in. As hard and as contrary as that sounds, lean in a little bit more.

You don’t have to lean in so far you lose your way. And you don’t have to lean in so far you forget where you started. And don’t lean in so far you lose yourself.

But sit.

Quietly.

Gently leaning closer. Closer to the problem. Closer to the uncomfortable. Closer to the anxiety. Closer to the fear.

Come closer, let me whisper this to you gently my dear one. It’s some sort of fear that’s making you want to run. Some sort of misunderstanding. Some sort of uneasy. Maybe some sort of hurt you’ve caused. I get it. Fear is anxiety producing. Fear is scary. Fear is hurt. Fear makes us want to run.

But don’t run. It will only chase you harder. I know you want to escape it. I know you want to pretend it’s not there. I know some days you want to pretend you’re stronger than the fear. But it will always creep back in until you learn to sit with it. Until you make friends with it. Until you learn to sit in the deep dark with it and understand each other.

Be cautious in this space too. It’s not okay to spill your hurt on other people. Yes, share it with them. Let them in. Hurting people can hurt other people. Don’t mistreat those close to you out of your pain, but let them in to see it.

It’s okay to show up and be vulnerable. I know that’s scary too. Let safe people in to help you. To hold you. To see you. There is something magical when people see you as you really are.

Some days you may feel hollow. Incapable. Trust those days too. They are for a purpose. The hollow is God emptying out the uncertainty. It’s Him emptying out the demands life has placed on you. It’s Him emptying out the doubts others have filled you with.

Empty it all out.

Let it all go.

Let him take it all.

Be hollow.

So that, the divine can fill you with Himself. He is he absence of fear. And when you’re filled with Him, you’ll have the strength to lean into the fear. You’ll have His strength. His power.

Trust this.

And if you don’t know Him and that light, ask Him to show you. Ask Him to show up for you and be vulnerable with you. Ask Him to be all around you, reminding you, revealing Himself to you, comforting you.

Then watch.

Listen.

Hollow.

Be filled. Lean in. Get comfortable with the fear. Let Him work in the fear. Let Him pour in the love until it fills you up and runs over.

Just let go and lean in.

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Love Always Wins

My heart hurts for our nation today. Not because I voted one way or another. Or because you voted one way or another. I hurt because I see hatred and division running unchecked. Because I see people clinging to their view only and lacking any sort of tolerance. Because I see people holding so tight to fear that it’s driving their actions and reactions.

That’s what scares me the most right now. People are living and acting out of their fear without regard to what they’re doing or who else they may be hurting.

Friends, it’s okay to feel some fear. Yes, it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to be angry. Anger is God’s intended warning light in your life. Pay attention to it. Rest with your anger for a moment. But just a moment. Because you can’t live there. You can’t live your life based on fear and anger. And how you choose to react to your anger can have very real consequences.

Whichever side of the country you feel you want to sit with, I know where I stand. I stand with the one who made me, the one who made everything, the one who is in control. But that can’t be the standard answer to all of my friends; to just trust God and it will all be okay. I know God was in control before the election, is in control today, and will be in control tomorrow. But just saying those words to many, many of my friends who don’t yet know Him, well, that feels confusing and hurtful. Because so many of my friends have been hurt by the religiosity of this day. And just knowing He’s in control doesn’t remove the pain or the hurt and it doesn’t automatically heal the divides that have been created.

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Instead of living from a place of fear, what if we were to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly? Together? What if instead of holding so tight to our preconceived notions and living divided by differences we chose to extend mercy to those around us? What if we were compassionate and kind towards those who offend us? To those who are different than us? What if we react out of love, not fear? And when we see others not being treated fairly, especially if the unfairness comes based on the color of their skin or country of birth, what if we stood up for them? Or gave them a step up? Instead of just speaking for them and what we think they want to say, what if we just let them speak freely? And we listen.

As we listen, love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly, what if we also ask ourselves what is the next right step for me? What choices do I have (we always have several) but what is the next right step for me in my life right now? And how does that step help those around me? How do I step away from fear and closer to love? How do I step out of the divisions around me, and closer to love? How can we be a bit kinder to those around us rather than arguing party lines and further dividing our country?

I pray that you sit with this for a bit. Then I pray the step you choose leads you closer to others. Closer to understanding. Closer to kindness. Closer to forgiveness. Closer to love. Because love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I pray that love always wins. In your life, and in mine.

Be blessed, my friends.

nancy


 

Here’s a song that’s inspired me the last few days. I hope it helps you to care a little more too.

“Forgiveness is the only real revenge…

Keep yourself open…

Peace and love aren’t so far…”

 

Experiencing the Joy Filled Life

I have been continually reminded lately at how fast life moves. Projects and plans that seemed months away are now rapidly approaching. I’ve already passed some huge milestones in my career that I had been anticipating for months. What felt like the never-ending winter is giving way to spring. My daughter’s 16th birthday is only two more months away. Right after that both of my boys graduate, one from high school and the other from college. Life is full. It is good.

There have been some hard moments too. There was a day in January when I was looking at all that was coming towards me on the calendar. It completely overwhelmed me and I ended up sitting on the kitchen counter in tears. There have been moments where all I could do was survive the day, hoping it would pass quickly because of the sadness I felt. I don’t like those days so much.

I’ve had a couple a-ha moments in the past few weeks that have caused me to slow down and look at where I’m finding joy. I have been slowly reading a book with other staff members and one paragraph in our current chapter keeps jumping out at me. Peter Scazzero, in The Emotionally Healthy Leader, talks about paying attention to our emotions of the day in order to listen to God. He says this:

Consolations are those experiences that fill us with joy, life, energy, and peace. Desolations are those that drain us and feel like death. Consolations connect us more deeply with God, ourselves, and others. Desolations disconnect us.

This made me really think about what brings me joy, what fills me with peace, and how do those moments and experiences connect me to God. Then I considered those things that just drain me and fill me with anxiety. Those moments that leave me feeling incredibly disconnected not only from God, but also from those around me that I long to be connected with. I don’t want to live in anxiety and fear. I don’t want to be rushing through moments or withholding my time and presence because of fear. I want to make room in my life for more joy. I want to smile and enjoy each moment that He brings me, rather than rushing to the next thing, situation, or person. I want to be present.

The next a-ha moment came during a recent dinner with friends. One person said they really try to never use the word “busy” or “tired”. Wow. Both of those could describe my last several months. Life is full, but I don’t want to be so busy that I miss out on the blessings and joy right in front of me. I don’t want to rush through everything so fast just to arrive completely worn out on the other end, missing all of the good along the way. Missing the people God has placed in my life.

I don’t have all of this figured out yet, because there are really full seasons of life. And as a single mama to two teens at home, well, we’re always going a lot of directions. I don’t want to trade it and I don’t want to rush through it, because they’ll be gone before too long. I don’t want to miss these moments with them because I was too busy and then too tired. I also don’t want to miss moments with friends or not be included in activities because I’m perceived as too busy. Busy is not an honor badge. Busy is not what I want my life to reflect.

I’m working to pause, consider all that is being asked of me, then discern the best use of my time. I’m paying attention to what brings me joy, makes me smile and laugh, and makes me feel alive. Those moments that God brings, I want to hold them close and be incredibly present in them. Life is full and moving fast, but right now, I’m feeling a great sense of peace and joy. I want to be present with people and bring joy to them as well.

I pray that for you too. Consider the moments in your day and how you’re experiencing them. Are there things you need to let go of? Ideas, attitudes, friendships, distractions that pull you deeper into fear, drain you of life, and keep you too busy? Or are you present in this moment, breathing in deeply and sensing peace and joy that can be yours? May you find renewed energy and life as you seek and experience deep joy in your own life and with others.

Spring Table