Change.

Change… requiring of us movement in a direction that we are not as familiar, calling upon skills we are not accustomed to using, and forcing us to stretch beyond our well established and often too small, comfort zones….can be hard.  Sometimes we do anything we possibly can to avoid it, even when it is what is best for us and everyone around us.  It can rock our foundation, threaten the equilibrium, and wreak havoc.  But, it can also rock the foundation and then give the ingredients necessary for a stronger foundation.  It can threaten the equilibrium that has been maintained for so long, but isn’t necessarily the healthiest.  It can wreak havoc as it encourages us to continue on the path of awareness and growth.  It’s crazy that we as humans would much rather cling to something toxic than step into the unknown, even though we cognitively know it holds a promise of something better.  It’s not familiar.  And we don’t know.  Another way to say that perhaps, is that we’re desperately afraid OF the unknown, the change, so we cling to something, even if it’s toxic.

I’m working to be friends with the change that is flamboyantly present in my life.   And at times it feels incredibly clumsy and extremely terrifying.  I’m learning.  Stretching, growing.  But I can’t forget my I, is a we.  The my I just referenced is actually an our.  That’s just another part of the self-discovery piece…we do not have to travel it in solitude.  No one has to navigate these things on your own.  If you are single, lean on your closest friends and family.  If you don’t use them, you’ll feel alone.  And then possibly feel incredibly distant from them, for they have no idea.  And then feel even more alone and even more hopeless about your ability to go through this with any semblance of grace.  If you are married, use your partner! Don’t leave them behind.  It’s their job to be with you, just as it is your job to with them.  Don’t ever forget that.

Picture a team of horses, pulling a wagon.  We’ve probably all caught a glimpse of this in real life, some of us an even more personal, up close experience.  Imagine all those ropes, each one with a purpose, each being vital to the operation of the entire setup.  Once fully assembled, the driver now has a clear line of communication open with both of the horses.  Imagine what would happen if the horse on the left decided he wanted to do it this way.  And the horse on the right disagreed.  What would happen?  Catastrophe.  And face it, there’s nothing the driver can do to force two +1500 pound animals to do what he wants them to do if they don’t want to do it.  He’s powerless, along for the ride.  Life doesn’t have to be that dangerous.  Look to your partner.  Talk about transitions.  Embrace the changes. 

I’m working to be present with mine.  To seek agreement between my head and my heart, between my human longings and my faith in God that my needs will be taken care of.  I’m working to do it with grace and strength.  I’m not always successful, I don’t always do as I should, I forget to practice what I preach.  But I come back to my center.  I want to embrace the changes, the gift of growth and forward movement.  I’m so thankful for my husband, my rock, my partner.  For my family and friends.  And for my church.


In-Between

Almost two full years ago, I felt a stirring for something new.  I began to connect with and understand pieces of myself in a more mature and holistic way than I ever have before.  I credit the amazing community around me, and the stirring of the Holy Spirit.

Being someone who is somewhat apprehensive about change, I went through periods of time trying to sweep the thoughts and feelings under the rug.  It’s easier to stay where we’re at, and a challenge to venture into the unknown, especially when things are so uncertain.  I tried, and failed.  The reminders kept creepingback, and God wouldn’t let me forget.  So began, the active phase of seeking.

There was a time when it seemed that every door I knocked on failed to open.  And then there was the moment, when I transitioned my thinking, from hoping someone else would accept me, to seeing myself as the one that needed to make it happen.  Perhaps the heavy doors were meant to have stayed shut.  They were rigid for a reason.  Interestingly enough, when my mind shifted gears, the doors became easier.  I fell into invigorating possibilities.  Ranging from hopes of this connection or that, to realizing my absolute dream career was just outside of town, and had been there all along, I had no idea.  Had those rigid doors been accidentally left open, it may have been some time before I literally stumbled upon this place.  So I sought to sow the seeds.  Thankfully, unlike my own garden, which I can forget to water as the summer goes on, these seeds were cared for, and tended to, and subsequently flourished.  And as the fruits became recognizably enticing, it was even clearer to me that changing my present situation was absolutely necessary.

I think I hung on to my perception of security as long as I possibly could.  It’s funny to think that what I thought I was doing was being practical, was really just being fearful.  Letting go of the rope as you swing over the bay, trusting your body to land where it’s soft, trusting the water to be there, praying it wasn’t an illusion.  I clung.  And then let go.  Since that point, I haven’t been filled with regret, despite the fact there is a great deal of uncertainty now!  I’m not certain how my material security will arrive, but I trust that God will provide.

So far, I’ve been listening to His guidance.  This is all His doing.  The doors, the grace, the community, I can’t even begin to explain it any other way.  They keep saying, this is the time of greatest growth…you’ve let go of your fear and put your trust in Him…He has led you this far, and you feel the peace, it HAS to work Anna.  So I find myself here, in the space of quiet, in-between.  And comforted by the knowledge that I am not in control.  “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.   It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit”  (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

Why question?  I know, I believe, I feel.  My roots, foundation, is being fed and watered by the Giver of Life.  My roots are my faith, my family, my health, and my self.  When struggle comes, I will persevere.  At the wire, I can make do with very little, and am very open to the conclusion that I have way more than I need.  And when I feel this, I will, because I have been, and believe I will be, blessed.

I’m thankful for the journey, even though it was hard at times, for it led me to where I’m at.  I’m ready.


Learning to Let Go

You know what those are right?  Those hollow tubes of woven paper, with a hole on each end.  You’re supposed to stick a finger in each end and figure out the trick to getting them out.  I haven’t heard a personal story regarding anyone whose been trapped for any significant amount of time, but I suppose some folks have spent a decent amount of time stuck, probably the wee ones.  Anyway, the key to the release is to relax, and your fingers are no longer stuck.

I like to know what’s going to happen and when it will happen.  I don’t think I’m alone.  Two years ago I enrolled in the most effective educational program known to man.  Personal experience.  I’ve learned so much, about myself and others.  I’ve fine-tuned my voice, nearly perfected my congruency radar, experienced support like never before, but most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of giving up control and mindfully and faithfully riding the wave.  No matter how much you try and muscle your way through some sort of life lesson, get others to push with you, or better yet, get something else to help push, it doesn’t work. In the end, you’re wiped out and exhausted.  Depleted, spent, with no fight left.

I truly believe, with all my heart, that God’s time is perfect.  That being open and receptive to His guidance, energized by the Holy Spirit, is the only way.  The battles will still be there, but I’ll have a voice and won’t expend unnecessary energy.  Save it for what matters.

Incredibly open, and totally receptive to God’s guidance while working hard to be patient and mindful, all the while reveling in the beauty and goodness around me,  Anna


Community

I had the pleasure today to be a “Part of the Beginning.”  Around 100 professionals in our area gathered with community members to make a public stand against child abuse.  The Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center coordinated this beautiful Zero Tolerance day, and it was an honor to be a part of it.  I’m no good at numbers, but I would guess at least a couple hundred people gathered in our State Theater…listened to people speak, watched some amazing young dancers, and walked the streets of downtown in support of maintaining a safe environment for the next generation to grow.

Anyway, around 10 or so of the PEACE Ranch crew gathered together for the celebration.  As I sat there with them, and Payton pointed out that we all had the same shirts on! –I thought that it’s has been a long time since I’ve felt like such an important part of a work community, a long time.  The Executive Director breathes welcome, the volunteers exemplify servitude, and the environment is then incredibly open and safe.  I am honored.  Blessed.  And so happy to be going in a direction that feels so right.

When you’re doing what you are called to do, you’ll know it.  Every square inch of your soul will feel at peace, will be energized, and you will be certain.  No questions.  Thank you God for blessing me with the past 3.5 years of my career so I could be the person I am today, and also for leading me so clearly in my professional journey.  Your time is truly perfect.


Growth

I had one of those experiences this week that leads to incredible self-growth but you wouldn’t ever want to go through again.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it’s not quite over.  As with anything in life, there’s got to be a gem in here somewhere.  Something with a tag on it that reads priceless.  Those are the best gifts aren’t they…the ones that lead to an enrichment of your self…?  I’ll look back and be thankful.  In this moment, I’m looking forward to finding the way out.  In the meantime, I’m really glad that I know who I am.  I’m glad I have a support system…that there are people in my life who believe in me…that I can come home to a stable, loving, and healthy family.

I was a kid who always liked to have the last word.  I still do, at times.  My son and I sometimes wage war over the right to that title.  Then I have to remind myself that I’m the grown up.  I’m fighting the urge to have the last word right now.  I don’t like people thinking things about me that are not true.  Especially when those things are not pretty.  There’s a part of me that wants to shout, that’s not it, you have it all wrong! And at times, I have.  But something I’ve had to learn (and by the way, even if someone advises me on something, at times, I just have to learn on my own) is that no matter what you say sometimes, there are some people who will not hear it.  They hear through their filter.  They take it in, change the message slightly based upon their perspective, their life experience, their assumptions, and there’s not a darn thing you can do about it.  About them that is.  But there is something I can do.  I can learn to walk with my head held high.  I can learn when I’m in the midst of dysfunctionality, and respectfully remove myself.  There is a feeling that goes along with that, with being a part of a dysfunctional system.  I feel it deep in my gut, I feel it in my heart, and then I feel it in my thoughts.  You start to wonder is it me? Here’s when my healthy family, that I get to come home to every day, plays an incredibly important role.  They ground me, remind me of who I am, and who I’m not.

So there’s a couple lessons in here for me, number one is that my family rocks.  They’re crucial.  Everyone’s family is.  For they know you (hopefully) and stick with you (ideally) through thick and thin…give you energy and perspective…love and acceptance.  The second is, I know who I am…I know who I’m not…and I know who I belong to…and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

So for now, I’ll cling to that.  And remain open…and grounded.  These experiences are gifts…even if I don’t see them as that until far after…they are…gifts.  With that as my perspective, I am so incredibly excited for the next chapter.


Compilation

At the suggestion of a friend, I reached out.  She said, talk to your friends, to the people that know you.  I did.  See what they have to say.  What I received in return from that reaching out was beautiful.  So beautiful that I feel compelled to create a collage so to speak of the wisdom.  Here it is:

“I remember my spiritual director telling me that there are moments where you walk out into the fog?/unknown. Sometimes in life you just have to take that risk. You step out, not knowing what is there, but those are most often the most beautiful and rewarding steps to take. I have taken some of those, and she’s right…No matter what, we love you and support you…You know what you need to do already, don’t you?? ♥…You need to follow your heart. The rest will fall into place…’From now on if you listen obediently to the commandments that I am commanding you today, love God, your God, and serve him with everything you have within you, he’ll take charge of sending the rain at the right time.’ Deut. 11:13-14…When you’re doing what you love to do, no one has to motivate you, or challenge you, or check up on you. You do it for the sheer enjoyment . You don’t need rewards, or applause, or to be paid well, because you love serving in this way…Figure out what you love to do – that which God gave you a heart for – and then do it for his glory!..It’s my heart, and it’s not a chore to do this, because I love it! It’s slow-going, but I know that once it takes off, there will be a next step and another next step that God will ask me to take…That old definition of faith, “Going forth, not knowing”, is so true….One thing is for sure, you are in the middle of a paradigm shift and things are unclear. You are going somewhere good here and the direction is foggy. That’s ok, just keep your big-picture perspective within it, and keep your eyes and heart out for possibilities, for doors…You’re on to something here, feeling the movement and knowing its going somewhere, pay attention to that. Doors opening, doors closing, all of it will guide you…God will give us direction always according to His plan for us in His perfect time…speak TRUTH, have PEACE, say what you ARE, and LOVE…”God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the Courage to change the things I can; and the Wisdom to know the difference.”…God’s time is oft’ not quite ours but always Perfect…you are loved & you will be fine… Trust where your heart keeps leading you… God is w/you in that space & place…Oh Lord God,who hast called us thy servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending by paths as yet untrodden & through perils unknown, give us courage to go out, not knowing whither we goest but only that thy hand is leading us and thy love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen……You are in my prayers, I believe you can do whatever God calls you to do.

May this help you too, in decisions you are contemplating.  It has helped me.  Thank you friends, and to the authors some referenced (Rick Warren, the Bible…).  Horses…art…homes…ministry…FAITH.


Just when you feel you got it…

…something else pops up and taunts you with an offer.  And then my self-doubts hit…”what will so and so think?  What do you think this person would do? What should I do?  Am I capable?  Can I do it all?  Is this too much?  Is this what God wants?  ETC….”

I’m praying for peace in figuring a decision that glorifies God and honors the gifts He has given me.  Also praying for peace, trust…guidance and wisdom.

How do you discern God’s call?  How do you know that THIS is what you are supposed to do?  How do you get there?