Moving Forward 

I’ll admit – it hasn’t been easy for me. Moving forward has not been easy.

Whenever any one of us goes through something painful or traumatic, muddling through the aftermath can be almost just as hard as when you were going through the negative experience itself. 

I have been striving, very hard, to move forward past my traumatic experience with postpartum depression. In three months, it will be 3 years since I suffered through the horrible illness. 

They say time heals all wounds, and there is truth to this, but there are some days when the pain can hit you just as hard as if the event happened just yesterday. 

After my healing came, I was a changed person. And I strove to help others going through what I experienced. I shared my story over and over. This helped in my healing process, but it has also been very triggering at times. 

When trying to move forward, or to put the past behind you, it’s like you can take two steps forward and one step back. You make progress, and then you’re back to where you were…hurting. Remembering. And it is deeply painful. 

My journey in trying to move forward, as I said, has not been an easy one, and I’m still on the journey of putting the pain behind me. 

When we look back to the past, we can feel a multitude of emotions. Sometimes positive. Sometimes negative. 

When I look back to when I had postpartum depression, as one could imagine, there are very few happy memories. It was the darkest, most terrifying time of my life. 

I’m not a fan of the phrase or being told to “Move on.” For it’s not that easy to do so. I have also thought about the popular phrase, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” I love these words, and yet, at the same time, it irritates me. I know we do not need to dwell on the past…past mistakes, past hurts, past painful experiences; but I think we must acknowledge and give ourselves the permission to know that this experience is forever a part of us. It may get easier and WILL get easier as time goes on, but it’s a part of your story. It might have helped change the course of your history and the history of those around you. It’s natural to look back. And I think it’s important to look back sometimes…to see the positive that came from that experience. You might have to look hard to find that. There are lessons to be learned, wisdom to be earned. But I do agree that we should not wallow, or try not to wallow in misery every day of thinking about the past. 

For me, it’s been a challenge to overcome the flashbacks of the experience I went through. There are so many moments from that time that I find myself reliving from time to time as if I were literally back there again. It’s also been a huge hurdle to overcome my fear and anxiety that I get of ever having to go back to that dark place again. 

“Where’s the silver lining in this story?” You might be asking. “How are you moving forward?”

I have to move forward, first of all. We all do. We can’t stay stuck in the past. My counselor told me the other day that God doesn’t want me living this way; feeling this way. Filled with negative emotions like fear, anxiety, depression, guilt, sadness, anger, regret, jealousy and envy. God doesn’t want you living your life bound to these emotions either; imprisoned to them. 

So I must seek. I must seek and find the silver lining. I must see the beauty that came from the most painful experience of my life. 

I must look back and see, and thank God for my parents and for holding me and crying with me during those dark days. I must be thankful for the closeness and bond that was forged between the three of us because of what happened. I must see my sister, and the love and support, the empowering words she said to me.The love that I saw she had for me. For my brother-in-law and the words of comfort he gave me. I must thank God for my in-laws, who supported me and never made me feel ashamed, but who loved me as their own and who I know prayed fervently for me every day. For all of my extended family – I am so thankful for them. 

I must thank God that it CHANGED my marriage. Our marriage wasn’t sunshine and roses before I had PPD, and this experience could have made or broken the relationship between my husband, Josh, and I. He could have abandoned me or lifted up his hands in the air and said, “You’re on your own.” But I saw that man truly shine his brightest. He was an angel, a godsend, sent from above. He held up my arms when they grew weary of carrying my sword and shield. He sometimes took my sword and smote at the enemy himself. He was my hero, and I know I could not have made it through without him. We’ve both thanked God that it changed our course, I truly believe, and made our love grow indescribably closer. We have a bond. We get it. We get each other. We love and cherish one another more than ever. Our hearts have changed BECAUSE of PPD. 

I must thank God for the bird he sent my way. I must thank Him that there were crows and buzzards hanging out in the dead tree in my parent’s backyard, taunting me. I must thank Him for sending me a little wren that made a nest outside my window and sang to me every day. For the moment that bird looked in at me through the window and locked eyes with mine and I knew that it was God…his messenger sent to give me hope. I must thank God for this imagery he sent me, that he made me aware that there was a spiritual battle going on, a war between God and Satan. 

I must thank God that he saved my life. That he healed me. I must thank Him that He was near me; I felt his presence. I called in His name and clung to him. I grew closer to my Heavenly Father. 

I must thank God for my friends. For those who called, texted me, sent me letters, who prayed for me. Their prayers helped send healing my way. 

I must thank God for my beautiful daughter, Isabella. For the love that I have for her that is insurmountable. That cannot be measured. That I loved her so much from the moment I saw her, that I fought for her. I fought to stay around. I thank God for the bond we have now, and that she calls me her best friend. I must thank God that PPD did not mess with the bond between a mother and her daughter. 

I must thank God for the wisdom he gave me and the words he has given so that I have been able to relate to and help other mamas going through what I experienced. 

And I must thank God for the mamas who did not have to go through what I went through. I must thank God that they can enjoy and love on their babies those first precious moments of their life, and not be surrounded by a dark cloud. 

I must thank God that he changed me. That he opened my eyes to this life and filled me with zeal and passion. That he softened my heart in many ways. 

And I must thank God that I am here. That I am able to share my story with you. 

I am a survivor! 

Yes, I am moving forward. One step at a time. 

Confidence

If you have it — you can do anything. No one can stop you. Nothing. You can walk into the conference room with your head held up high, papers in hand, and give a presentation of a lifetime. You can hop on a plane and fly across the globe to a foreign country — where the language barrier is just one of the many odds against you. When you have it — you can climb a 14’er — summit the mountain without even thinking twice about all the dangers. When you have confidence, you can do brave things.

 

But what if you woke up one day and realized that it was gone? You didn’t have it anymore. Your confidence had left the building.

 

First, you might ask yourself and wonder, “How did that happen?” and “Where did it go?”

 

I came to a realization one day that I had indeed lost my confidence. I’m not talking about “self-confidence” in regards to how you view yourself, but the confidence you have in your ability to do things.

 

And I knew why. Why I’d lost it.

 

I’ve always been a girl who loves adventure. Who loves to do things that are brave and to be seen as brave. I wasn’t a wild daredevil, but I found exhilaration, when I was a little girl, to take my shoes off and run around barefoot — risking the chance of getting a “sticker” in my foot. Over the hot, Texas, summer days, I’d run across the street barefoot to my friend’s house — the black pavement burning my feet —but also toughening them up so they became hardened and resilient — perhaps even more resistant to getting those pesky thorns in my foot. I was a “girly-girl”, but I was also a tomboy. I loved climbing high up in the trees that grew in our backyard and sitting there feeling like I was Pocahontas and that I had a connection with the spirit of the tree.

 

As I grew up into a young woman, adventure was still on my heart and wanderlust filled my soul. I dreamed of traveling the world.

 

I met my husband Josh in December 2009. I loved this man — his passion for life and that we shared an affinity for travel. He had already traveled abroad and his stories filled my heart with a longing to see these things. But, more importantly, to see these sights with him.

 

We married in the Spring of 2011.

 

I had confidence back then. Oh yes, I had my doubts and my fears, yes — that is only natural for all of us. But I knew I could do things. I had a mindset, perhaps a bit of pride, that I could do anything.

 

And so, within the first few months of marrying, my husband and I quit our jobs, sold almost everything, packed our bags, said our goodbyes to family, and we moved across the world — from Texas to New Zealand.

 

This was brave indeed and it took a huge amount of confidence in oneself to be able to do this. With our working holiday visa, we were able to live in New Zealand for a year. And, along the way, I got to climb trees again! Well, not technically, but climbed a ladder and picked apples from the trees. It was like being a kid again. Wild and free. Yet working. So, I’ll admit, I didn’t like apple-thinning too much. I hated it. Josh heard me moan and groan a lot. It took only four days to figure out that Lindsey wasn’t meant for manual labor. But I had had my hand at apple-picking. I had tried it.

 

While in New Zealand, Josh and I hiked several trails — that’s one of my favorite activities in life to do is hike. Our greatest accomplishment was hiking the 19.4 kilometer Tongariro Alpine Crossing. I had confidence enough to do this treacherous day-long hike and to climb across volcanoes.

 

And, in New Zealand, I finally overcame my fear of driving on the opposite side of the road, and, after trying it, my heart swelled with pride and confidence. As the saying by Eleanor Roosevelt goes, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

 

I had a nickname growing up, given to me by my youth minister who later became my brother-in-law. It was “Linzena – Warrior Princess.”

 

New Zealand was a time when I truly felt like I was a warrior princess.

 

We eventually had to move back to the States, and our next destination became Colorado — so that we could continue to breathe in mountain air and revel in God’s creation. I “bagged” (the term used in Colorado when you accomplish summiting a peak) three “14’er”s as they are called in Colorado — meaning mountain peaks where the summit is over 14,000 feet.

 

To climb a mountain, it takes courage and bravery. It requires confidence in yourself.

 

Little did I know I was about to climb the biggest mountain — the most rugged, treacherous, dangerous one I would ever have to attempt to conquer. And I’m not talking about Long’s Peak.

 

I’m talking about postpartum depression.

 

Our first daughter, Isabella, was born to us on a sunny October day while we were still living in Colorado. It was one of the happiest days of my life. A flood of tears poured from my eyes when I saw her for the first time and heard her first cry. Everything was good — despite the anxiety that I felt intensely every day from the moment she was born.

 

A month after she was born — my mountain appeared. Postpartum depression hit me full force as I woke up on a Monday morning and had my first of what would soon be countless panic attacks.

 

I couldn’t take care of myself. I couldn’t take care of my baby. I was a wreck. The depression and anxiety debilitated me to the point where I could barely eat or drink, and I had thoughts of just wanting to end it all.

 

That is when it happened. Postpartum depression grabbed my confidence, my dignity, my pride, and it ripped it away from me.

 

I had no confidence that the “mountain climbing, world-traveler, Linzena Warrior Princess” could “bag” this foreboding summit that towered above me. That laughed at me. That made me say things like, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t!”

 

It made me feel weak. I couldn’t do anything. And I needed someone to be by my side 24/7, because I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of the scary thoughts in my head.

 

But, amazingly, after four months of inching my way up this mountain towards recovery, I finally reached the summit! I conquered that which tried to take my life. I won. Postpartum depression and anxiety had been defeated.

 

When I found healing, you can imagine how my life changed. I was on fire! So thankful to be alive. Thank you, God! I had a deep appreciation for life again; for my life. A deep appreciation for my family. A bond that grew between my husband and I as we weathered this storm together. As we, like all the real mountains we climbed together before, this time, my husband carried me on his back many times along the way. I know he did. Our love for each other grew tenfold. I started connecting with my baby daughter again and not feeling so scared of her. It was all so beautiful.

 

It’s in the aftermath, after a battle as intense as the one I went through, that I realized I had suffered many wounds. One of those being, that I lost my confidence. There were ways in which I actually gained confidence after going through that. But, I felt robbed — like something was missing that I once had.

 

Even after recovery, I doubted myself.

 

That’s one of the worst feelings. And it keeps you from doing things. From doing what you used to be able to do.

 

Fear and anxiety still remain with me, even after recovery, and I struggle with anxiety to this day.

 

They say that, after falling off a horse, you have to get right back on. Shake the dust off and keep on.

 

And I have to do the same.

 

And so that is what I do. I “do the things you think you cannot do”. It’s not easy, and I’m still struggling to get a better hold of my anxiety, so that it doesn’t control my life. It’s not easy. But I’m trying.

 

I will continue to climb those beautiful mountains. I will do it with confidence —despite my fears and anxieties. I will and have continued to board those planes to foreign places that light my heart on fire.

 

And I will, despite the wounds I carry, live my life with courage and adventure. I will regain my confidence and, with hardened, tough feet — I will carry on as Linzena Warrior Princess, living out my life Wild and Free.

The Stillness

I used to love the quiet. Always being an introspective person, I would often sit with my thoughts and reflect on them and why I was thinking those things. And it was in the quiet that I felt myself connected and close to God. That I could feel his presence. In college, one of my favorite pastimes was to sit on one of the swings they had scattered throughout the campus. I would swing away. I’d look up at the clouds and talk to God. I’d see the flowers around me and hear the birds singing and knew that God was near. I felt happy. Content. Close to Him. I’d journal my thoughts instead of studying for my next exam. But this was something I loved to do. 

Life and circumstances have changed since those college days, back when life was more simple and carefree. 

There came a time when I was sick after the birth of my daughter. I had postpartum depression and anxiety and oh, how things changed! I did not want to sit with my thoughts anymore. I didn’t want to hear my thoughts or have the thoughts I had. They scared me. I did not want to be alone. 

But things have a way of coming full circle sometimes. Despite not wanting to be alone for a second while I was sick, there were times when I would take the courageous step outside of my parent’s house (who were taking care of me and my baby at that time) and I would walk out into their backyard. It was beautiful out there. It overlooked a quiet, peaceful, still lake. And, there was a wooden swing. Waiting for me; calling out to me to come sit on its bench and do what I’d done long before. Talk to God. 

And I would swing away. In desperation, this time, I pleaded with the Lord to please take this away from me; to please, please heal me. Heal me for myself, but more importantly, to heal me for my family. They needed me and I was so sick I could barely take care of myself. I remember crying out to the Lord with tears in my eyes, “My God, My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” 

God heard me. He even saw me hit a tree with a very large stick…with great force, I might add. I was so angry. Why was this happening to me? 

But it was in the stillness, out on that wooden swing, that I knew in my heart of hearts that God was listening to me. I could feel his presence, not strongly, but I knew or hoped that He would have pity on me. 
And he did pity me. My Father loved me. He sent birds my way that made a nest outside my window and they would sing to me loudly every morning. 

And one day, healing finally found me. 
Now, after surviving such a battle, I have been on the mend. But I still struggle. 
As a stay at home mom with a two and a half year old daughter, I now find the silence to be like a double edged sword. Perhaps other moms can relate. Some moments, after being constantly needed and followed around all day (let’s admit – having your space invaded all day!) and then when it’s nap time, I welcome the stillness and quiet with open arms. I turn off the tv, and even leave the music off. I’ll just sit there, and revel in the peace where I can finally breathe again. 

But, on the other hand, there are times when the silence is truly deafening. Even frightening again at times. Our thoughts can consume us…thoughts of worry and “what if’s”, contemplating our purpose and all the deep questions you can think of can arise in just a few moments time of sitting there alone with your thoughts. Isn’t this why we are so busy all the time? Why we’re always on the go, leaving no idle time? That’s why we’re on our phones, scrolling pointlessly through our Facebook feed, wasting time, but it keeps us, or maybe even “saves” us from thinking. 

But God, he is beckoning us to come to the stillness. To find that wooden swing to sit on and just talk and pray to Him. For that is where we will truly find our peace. We find our peace in the stillness. We talk to Him and lay our burdens at his feet. 

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. To know that we have a Father who cares for us should bring great comfort to our souls. 

In my prayer/writing room, I have this sign hanging above my desk; “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. It is a reminder that I need to see daily. It may be intimidating and overwhelming to think of being still, for you, like me, may be afraid of your thoughts and where all they can lead you. But God is powerful. 

Satan is powerful, too, yes, and he wants your mind to dwell in the dark places. That is why we must remember the verse: “…we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5. Give your thoughts to God…tell Him. He already knows your every thought, but we grow close to Him in releasing that to Him. Our thoughts might be scary and overwhelming, but surrendering those to Him can leave us with a sense of freedom. Peace. He has the power to calm the anxiety within us; we just have to hand it over. 

Be still, and you might just find the God your heart has been searching for. 

Purple Heart

I wear it 
Proudly.

Sometimes I take it off, 

Place it in a box

Pushing it far into the back of the drawer

Away from my mind

And away from all memory. 

It signifies that I am a soldier.

That I fought in a battle. 

Bravery.

Courage. 

Resilience.

I received a Purple Heart

For I was wounded in battle.

And I will never be the same. 

I want the world to see my badge.

To know that I fought a battle.

And that I won. 

Yet, there is shame. 

Shame that I had to fight this battle. 

And so, I am torn. 

Should I show the world my Purple Heart?

Or keep it locked away? 

The Bird

[Backstory. I wrote this poem about a dark time in my life, when I suffered through postpartum depression. This is very personal to share, and a word of warning that it can be triggering and intense, but the ending of the poem offers Hope. I have felt the need to share this in hopes that it might help someone know that healing will come. Do not give up!]
 

 

I still hear the crows.

I still hear the buzzards.

I still see them.

They circle the skies above me,

Still,

From time to time.

 

And they remind.

They taunt . . . “Remember? Remember?

Remember your pain. Remember your fear.

I will always be here to remind you,”

Their screeching, ugly voices tell me.

 

I often wonder how they found me.

I’d seen them using their evil powers

In those I loved

From the time I was a little girl.

I always deeply feared them.

That one day they would search me out

And find me.

That their midnight black darkness

Would encircle me and choke out the world.

That those birds would steal my joy,

My happiness,

And replace it with tears.

 

I never knew Fear until they found where I was hiding.

I’d seen it and felt it before

But I never truly knew Fear until the birds came.

 

I brought Life into this world.

She was Beauty.

Heaven came down and Love

Came flowing from my eyes,

When I saw her for the first time

And she breathed her first breath;

When her first cries were heard

by her Mother and Father.

Yes, Heaven came down in those moments.

 

My eyes beheld Beauty

And my arms held her.

 

And then, in a moment,

Suddenly,

I thought I was losing my Beauty,

The life I’d just brought into this world.

Something went wrong with my child,

And for tortuously long moments

That will forever be immeasurable,

She was taken away from me.

 

And I was left alone.

Alone.

Alone I cried,

Alone I wondered if I’d see

The Beauty again.

I wondered if I had seen her for the last time.

I wondered if I would hear her beautiful cry,

If I’d ever hold her again.

 

My beloved husband

Returned to me,

As I lay there waiting.

There was hope in my heart again

When he whispered, “She is okay.”

That our little Beauty we’d created

Had held onto his finger tightly.

We then knew,

Our Beauty was a Fighter.

 

When I saw her again

She was under a glass container;

The artificial oxygen filling the air

To help her breathe.

But I saw a little baby,

My baby,

Struggling, crying, fighting.

Fighting for her life.

Frantically and Fearfully

I watched the numbers

And felt helpless,

As they were not where they were supposed to be.

 

I was scared.

Scared I was still going to lose her.

“Don’t grow attached,

Don’t grow attached,”

Something told me.

 

When she was finally returned to us,

Relief filled our hearts.

But something held me back —

I couldn’t believe that she was back in my arms.

Hyper vigilance set in.

Anxiety took over my entire being.

I was so thankful,

But I was stunned.

I was traumatized by thinking

That my Beauty was dying in my arms,

In those seconds when something went wrong with her.

I was traumatized —

Believing she was still going to be taken away from me.

 

“Hold on . . .

But don’t on too close.

Love her . . .

But don’t love her too much.”

Were words that echoed in my mind.

Nightmares haunted me of losing her.

 

A month after the Beauty debuted her appearance,

All was well with her.

But not so with her Mother.

For that was when they came.

 

The crows.

The buzzards.

The birds.

The darkness.

The thing I’d always feared . . .

Finally found me.

 

I watched the leaves fall from the trees,

And I watched my world turn grey.

In an instant the darkness

Surrounded me.

I watched the sky cry tears

And the sun hid its face from me,

In my darkest and loneliest hours.

 

I wanted to die.

The buzzards hovered overhead

And flew in circles above me.

Waiting for me.

“We want you,”

Their beady eyes looked down and I knew their deadly thoughts.

 

A dead tree overshadowed

And towered above our home —

And the tree became the crows and buzzards’ battle position

Sent forth from the enemy.

They wanted me to die.

They were a constant reminder

of Death.

 

I battled the thoughts —

The war that waged within

Of wanting to take my own life

And yet . . .

Fighting,

Fighting desperately for my life.

 

This battle lasted for months.

Months that should have been beautiful.

That should have been blissful.

That should have been Heaven,

Not Hell.

That should have been what they were not.

 

I was robbed.

We were all robbed.

The thief had come in the night

Stealing my joy,

And, thus, stealing all of our joy.

I suffered,

And those who loved me suffered immensely.

 

I remember the day.

The day I stood outside

Staring up at that dead tree,

Feeling defeated and completely hopeless.

I remember seeing the parting of the clouds

And seeing and feeling the ray of the sun

Finally break through the clouds

And show its face to me again.

I heard the crows and saw them.

They were so loud.

 

But then,

I saw the jay clothed in blue.

I saw the sparrow,

The robin,

And I saw the red cardinal.

I saw them flying from bush to bush,

From tree to tree,

Right in front of my very eyes,

And I heard their melodic singing.

 

And I faintly heard the song

Of a bird in the forest.

Just a tiny sound at first,

That slowly crescendoed into a loud chorus.

That would not be the last time

I’d hear that little bird in the forest.

That day, his song was too powerful

And I watched in wonder as the crows flew away

And I could no longer hear their lies.

It was a moment my heart had hungered for.

 

That tiny bird had flown from far, far away,

And had found me at last.

 

He found me one day sitting by the window

Feeling in despair again.

He sat on a red chair and looked in at me.

His eyes looked into mine

And he didn’t look away.

“Get better! Get better!” He told me.

I felt the very presence of God

And that He was sitting in the red rocking chair,

Whispering,

“I am here. You are not alone.”

 

That tiny bird had the loudest song

Of any bird I’d ever heard.

And the most beautiful.

He stayed around our house from that day on —

The days that I was still sick.

He was a Carolina Wren,

A bird known for being shy —

And yet, he stayed so close,

In the moments when I needed to hear

His song the most.

 

The mornings were my darkest, scariest hours,

When the panic would set in,

And when I’d usually been awakened by crows.

But now, that same wren had found his home.

He made a nest right outside my window,

And he sang for me.

I’d look out my window

And he’d be there looking at me,

Watching over me.

 

Time had taken its time,

But with it,

Came my healing.

The sickness, the darkness finally left me.

The crows, the buzzards, those preying birds

Finally flew away.

They had learned that I wouldn’t

Be taken by them.

I would not be their victim.

They saw that I was a Fighter.

That I had a Beauty and a Beloved

To live for.

 

To this day,

I still hear the crows.

I still hear the buzzards.

I still see them.

They circle the skies above me,

Still,

From time to time.

 

But, I still see my wren,

I hear my wren,

Still,

From time to time.

And he says, “Remember? Remember?

Remember your healing. Remember Hope.

I will always be here to remind you.”

 

He is a constant reminder

of Life.

 

 

 

 

God Spoke to Job 

I’ve always been fascinated by Job. 

This story in the Bible, of how a man had EVERYTHING, and then, just like that, it was all gone. Taken away from him within just a few moments. 

There is so much to learn from him. For me, by the end of the story, when he stays faithful to God throughout his great loss and suffering, I’m just in awe of his faith. In the end, he praises God, his faith and belief in Him is stronger than ever, and then he is blessed by God beyond measure. (“After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10). 

But it’s the middle of the story that I can’t forget. 

Job didn’t just mourn for a day and move on. 

He lost everything. He lost the ones he loved. He grieved. He mourned. Job even cursed the day he was born. 

I wonder why this story is in the Bible? For me, Job seems so real. He seems like you and I. He has feelings and emotions. He does what I think we all would do if faced with his situation. Or if we have in fact been there ourselves…faced with loss or pain and suffering. 

Job seeks counsel from his friends, and they accuse Job of doing evil – that perhaps this is why tragedy struck his household. God later reprimands his friends, by the way. 

What I see, though, is a man who is doing what is only natural. 

He’s asking “Why?”.

He is seeking comfort from his friends, and perhaps answers. Isn’t that what we do? “Why did this happen to me?” “Why did this have to happen?” 

Or, “this should never have happened.” 

“Why, God…why?”

Have you ever asked this? I know I have. I’ve looked up to the skies above and asked Him why, about many things that have happened in my life. 

And when I’ve asked God this question, I have not heard a reply. The heavens have not opened up in that moment and a voice called down from me and given me the answer and I then say, “Oh, okay! That’s why God. Thanks! Now I know!” 

I get goosebumps when God does speak to Job: “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.”Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” Job 38:1-7. 

I don’t know about you, but just reading those verses and imagining that scene and God speaking to ME, I shudder. It puts me in my place. And it puts God in his rightful place. The Mighty One. The Creator of the Universe. The One who created me and gave me breath. Who gave me everything. 

God speaks to Job for a long time. He uses Nature to show his power and that He is in control. That He runs the show. Not us. 

I think it’s interesting that there isn’t necessarily a “why” answer from God. Yes, he shows Job who He is and that he maybe shouldn’t be questioning Him. But God doesn’t say, “Hey, here’s why I took your family from you.” Here’s why you experienced that heartache. That rejection. That suffering. That loss. 

Sometimes I don’t think there’s a why for everything that happens. 

Or perhaps we are not meant to know the why. Not in this lifetime. 

That’s a hard pill to swallow. Hard to fathom. Hard to accept. 

But, what are we going to do with knowing that? Does it mean that we aren’t going to wrestle with God and ask Him and wonder the reasons? Does it mean we put ashes on our face for a day, and then carry on and never look back? 

I don’t think so. 

Just look at Job. He did what is only natural, and probably what God expected would happen of Him. He mourned. He was sorrowful. He sought counsel and comfort from the world. He was left with questions and doubt. 

But He turned to God. He had his time of this inner wrestling, yes, but He did not turn his back on God. One of the most powerful verses says, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:22

It’s easy to want to blame God. To blame someone. Anyone. To blame ourselves. 

Though I think it’s natural to think and feel all these things, I don’t think we should stay stuck there. It’s easy to get stuck. To dwell. To turn away from God when bad things happen.

We can’t stay there. Can’t stay there forever. In that place of anger. Of doubt. Of questioning. Satan wants us to stay there. He wants us to turn our backs on God. 

Sometimes there just isn’t as the saying goes, “a reason for everything.”

But there is a, what am I going to do now?How am I going to live the rest of my life? After the pain and hurt has happened, and you’re now living in the aftermath. 

“There is a time for everything . . . a time to weep AND a time to laugh, a time to mourn AND a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4). I believe in this so strongly. There IS a time to mourn. We have to grieve and mourn what we lost; to grieve over what should have been. And that is a process. Sometimes a very, very, very long journey. 

But, there is a time to laugh. To dance. To be happy. To move forward. I don’t like the phrase, “move on,” because it sometimes can sound and seem insensitive. Though we may not want to look back, I think we are still going to. We aren’t not going to come out of those painful times without scars and wounds that are triggered now and again, but, we have to keep walking on. We eventually have to move forward. If we’re always looking back, we are held prisoner, and we are missing out on the beauty that does lie in our future. The blessings that will come upon us again -even if we can’t see it now. If we keep looking back, we can’t see where we are going. We can’t see the present and be thankful for it. We’ll just see the darkness behind us, and miss out on the light in front of us. 

In the end, Job ends up praising God. Despite everything, this is what he does. May we strive to draw closer to God during times of trial. To bring our questions to God. But may we never turn our backs on Him or curse His name. 

After all, where was I, or, where were you, when He laid the earth’s foundation? 

Am I Enough? 

I felt it. I felt it strongly today. 

Walking across the parking lot after dropping my daughter off at pre-school, I saw another mom walking my direction. Her hair and makeup were perfect. She looked cool, calm, and collected. She held the hands of her two children, who looked just as fashionable as their mother. She walked with confidence. She was gorgeous. 

I became suddenly aware of myself. Aware of my hair, that was just thrown up in a messy bun that I tried to make look somewhat pretty this morning. Aware of my outfit. Aware of my own daughter’s clothes; aware that she was not wearing Uggs or whatever the latest, most popular fashion is at the moment. 

I wanted to run and hide. 

You see, before I had walked out the door of my house that morning, I thought I had looked pretty; that even though I hadn’t washed my hair that morning and it wasn’t styled, that at least my face looked good. My face covered in makeup. 
But, now, standing there in the parking lot, I felt something entirely different than I had a few minutes before. I felt it. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. 

I felt like I wasn’t pretty enough. 

I was comparing myself to this other woman; this complete stranger, and debasing my own value and outward beauty based on what I saw looking at her. 

Call it insecurity, call it low self-confidence, call it shallowness…whatever it was in that moment, I did not like it. I did not like that feeling at all. 

It reminded me back to high school. There was a courtyard area at my school that was known as “The Bricks.” The bricks is where all the “preps”, as they were called, congregated after lunch, and where they waited and hung out before the school bell would ring. There were hundreds of them. I wasn’t in this group in high school. I didn’t hang with the popular crowd. Some days, I hated that I wasn’t in that group, but I had my own group of friends whom I loved and cared about deeply. I always found myself searching out the “outcasts”…,the “loners” and befriending them. The quote “weird” ones. Not all of my friends were this way, but I did have quite a few of the ones who were a little different. I found that the “outcasts” shouldn’t have been cast out. They were amazing people. Friendly. Genuine. Funny. Unique. Creative. Deep, caring souls. 

But I remembered today what it felt like to hold your breath as you have to walk through the group of people who you see, and who probably themselves believe and see themselves as better than you. To just want to get past them, so you don’t have to feel that feeling of not belonging. Of not being good enough. 

It made me think about myself and where I’m at now. Life is a journey, and so is the journey of loving ourselves. There have been the days and years where my confidence and love for myself was as high as Mount Kilimanjaro. I loved myself – inside and out. I was proud of who I was. I think those times, I had a place of belonging. My senior year in high school, because of the amazing friends I had in my church youth group. Because I was a leader that year, and my friends and peers looked up to me. In college, because I found another place and group of people where I felt I belonged. Who told me and showed me that there was every reason in the world to see myself as awesome. Also, my parents and sister have always shown me so much love and given me words of affirmation to know how truly special I am. And then, I met a boy in 2009, a boy named Josh, (who later became my husband) who sent my self-confidence all the way up to the moon! 

I think during those times, too, my walk with God was close. We were “tight.” I talked to Him often. I felt my worth from others, but most importantly, from Him. I knew He loved me and was proud of me. I had my days of doubt, yes, but overall, I was secure. 

Where am I at now? It’s a journey, as I said, and there are events and things that take place in our lives that forever change us. 

Over two years ago, I went through an event like this. Going through postpartum depression forever changed me. 

In many ways, as one can imagine or if one has gone through something such as this, you can see the ways it has impacted you negatively. I could make a list of how it did so for me, but that’s not the point or what I want to focus on with these words I am writing. 

In my deepest and darkest time of my life, I turned to God. I clung to Him. I talked to Him and prayed to Him more than I ever had. Almost every minute of every day. Pleading with him to heal me. 

And He did. 

And from that day onward, after winning the battle, I have changed. I have changed for the better in so many ways. 
I have risen. I have blossomed and flourished. When you go through something like that, your heart opens up to life more than it ever has. For me, I was so thankful. I decided to help others. I had a confidence in myself, because I had beat something that had tried to take my life. And I had, with God’s help, beaten Satan. 

And I wanted to LIVE. To truly live. To take advantage of this healing that had come to me. To take advantage of this body of mine that God created and breathed life into. I didn’t want to sit on my rear and be a stagnant waste of space. I have stepped out of my comfort zone in so many ways that I would have never dreamed of. 

For the past two years since getting better, I would say and others around me too, I think would say, they have seen the positive changes in myself. 

My self-confidence, however, has taken its ups and downs during this time period. One of those things I blame that on is PPD. When I have been in my low of lows, it’s then that I know or start to realize that Satan has gotten in the way between me and God. I haven’t been talking to God as much as I should. I haven’t been in his Word. 

Instead, I’ve been in the world. 

I’ve been seeking my worth from the world. From people. From their words. From my friendships. From my relationship with my husband. From family. 

I’ve been seeking what only God can give me. My beauty is not found on the label on my clothes. It is not found in how perfect I can try and make my hair look. It is not found in the bright pink lipstick that I sometimes wear. 

Yes, God did make me beautiful on the outside, which I need to strive constantly to see and believe this. But, my beauty should be ultimately found from within. That my heart and soul and spirit be beautiful. That my thoughts be pure and glorifying to God. 

And my worth should come not from others, but from Him, the Lord God above;  “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

In God’s eyes, I belong. I belong to Him. I am his daughter. The daughter of a King. And in his eyes, I am enough. I am MORE than enough. And I am loved. I am loved and cherished by Him. 

I should live my life every day with a grateful heart and where I can say, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

And my hope is that the next time I see that woman or someone who in my eyes looks perfect to me – that I can say to myself, “She is beautiful . . . 
And so am I.”

Blossom

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
-Anaïs Nin

Flowers long to see the sun. They long for the spring. Flowers were meant to bloom forth from the earth. And when they do blossom after the cold and harsh winter, they shine with brilliant colors. They radiate. They stand tall and proud, for they know they are beautiful. The flowers know that being confined and imprisoned in a cage is not their fate. Not their destiny nor their purpose.

 

And so it is with us.

 

We were not put on this earth to remain tightly closed in a bud. Imprisoned. Not meant to be bound by fear. By self-doubt. By self-limitations. By anxiety. You name it…we all know what keeps each of us bound in chains.

 

We were meant to flourish.

 

I know what it’s like to remain tight in a bud. And I don’t like being there. And then there have been the times when I did not, could not, and would not remain there. But I found myself blossoming. Opening my arms to adventure. To trying new things. To stepping outside of my comfort zone. To looking outside of myself and helping others. There have been times I have seen myself truly blossom, and it has been beautiful.

 

I’ve seen myself bloom the most since my daughter was born two years ago. I fought a battle the first few months of her life, an illness called postpartum depression. I fought that battle with every fiber of my being. I still have scars and I am wounded from that battle. That was a season. A season that I will call my dark winter.

 

That season of my life occurred during the fall and winter months. I remember we had an early spring that year, and my healing coincided with the sun coming out from behind the clouds. My healing came when the rain stopped falling from the sky. It came as the flowers rejoiced with me that the darkness had passed.

 

It was a season. A temporary season that did not last forever. At the time, every day felt like a lifetime. But the point is, that the winter passed. And the spring came.

 

I was healed. I had survived.

 

And, so then, I blossomed.

 

I seized the day. I thanked God for the breath in my body. For vanquishing away all the dark and scary thoughts. For taking my tears away. I thanked Him for my beating heart.

 

I was more thankful for life than I had ever been. I lived with zeal and had a newfound energy. A desire to get all I can out of this life, and to give. I helped others who were fighting the battle I had fought. I had new eyes. A new perspective. More compassion and understanding in my heart for those who stood where I had stood.

 

I created a support group. I was a leader. I did public speaking within my support group; something completely out of my comfort zone. But I had to. I had to help others. I wanted to. I shared my story. Over and over.

 

I did things I never dreamed of doing. Like going to boot camp. We’re talking about a girl here who took a bowling class as her athletic/P.E. course in high school! Who just simply doesn’t run. Not ever.

 

And I started doing yoga . . . something which I had previously always just rolled my eyes at.

 

Was I intimidated? I can say with a resounding “YES!”, I was. But I did it anyway. And I found out it wasn’t so bad. In fact, I found myself loving both boot camp AND yoga. I began finding that trying new things was kind of exhilarating. That I was filled with a newfound confidence that I was able to overcome my hesitations, doubts, and fears.

 

I don’t ever want to remain tight in a bud. I want to blossom. Every day. I want to encourage and inspire others to blossom. There is a world of opportunity out there, of adventures, just waiting for you. The possibilities for your life are endless. I love the saying, “Bloom where you are planted”. Go. Seek. Find. Right where you are now. Make the most of every day.

 

Be like the wildflowers in the valley surrounded by the mountains. They see the harshest and coldest of winters. Perhaps you are in that place right now. But when spring and summer come, the valley is covered in a rainbow of every color imaginable. Each flower is unique. They stand tall and proud. And they dance.

 

They dance in the wind. They dance for they know what it was like to be hidden away from the sun. To know only cold and darkness. And so, they rejoice with all their hearts to see the sun again.

 

May we be like the wildflowers.

 

May we dance in the wind.

 

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“In a field full of roses, she is a wildflower.” ~ Anonymous

 

 

The Beauty and Struggle of Being Vulnerable

I’m so tired of all the fake.

 

I’m so tired of all the masks.

 

You know what I’m talking about. In this day and age that we live in—it’s so easy to get caught up in the game. To get caught up in the race. The competition of life. To want to have our makeup looking flawless, our hair always done or to be proud that we can pull off looking like a “hot mess”. To be wearing the best and most fashionable clothes. To be making more money than our neighbor. To have a better-looking marriage or relationship than the next one. To have a profile picture that will make others envious. To have traveled to more places than “you.” To have more friends and followers on Facebook than we even know what to do with. To be eating more healthy and to be a better cook—wife, mother, woman, and all the above, because we have an Instagram-worthy, over-filtered picture to prove it.

 

To have more “Likes” and “Hearts” on our posts on Facebook than you. That will sure boost your ego, or the lack of them leave you feeling down in the dumps.

 

And the list goes on.

 

Man, do we appear to have it all together! Just look at our Facebook or our Instagram and you’ll think, “They’ve got it made! Made in the shade!”

 

I’ve been there. I do it. I try not to, but, oh yes, I still do it. I’ve found myself in the competition and the endless, fruitless, vain, and disappointing trap of comparison. I’ve wanted my life to look all good. “I’m okay! I’m okay! My pictures are here to prove it!” But that is not always the truth.

 

Go to church and you’ll see us sitting in our pews. Smiling loudly and singing enthusiastically for all to hear, when that’s really the last place we want to be that day because we’re hurting. We’re hurting and we feel like all around us is perfection. That can be discouraging. We feel as if we could never bare our souls and our wounds in the place where we need to be most vulnerable. The front pew is always empty every Sunday. Why aren’t we going forward? Why am I not going forward? Why aren’t we confessing our struggles? Why aren’t we being vulnerable? I see more vulnerability outside the church than I do within. That is a shame. There is a movement, a conversation in our society about being vulnerable. It’s all around us. If you haven’t seen it yet, look around harder. Books are even being written about the topic.

 

There is a hunger in our hearts. A longing to see others rise up. To rise up from their pew, from behind their computer, from behind their photo-shopped photographs and to take off their masks. To not only rise up, but to speak up, and to be real.

 

This world is broken.
We are broken.
We are wounded.
We are hurting.
We have scars that we hide.
And we need help.

 

Where does this help come from? I believe it comes or should come from different places. First, and always, we need God.

 

But we also need each other.

 

This is where vulnerability comes in.

 

One of the definitions for the word “vulnerable” found on the website http://www.dictionary.com is, “capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon.”

 

Woah. That will stop you in your tracks. And it might make you want to run for the hills. The risk that is involved with being vulnerable is what makes it so beautiful. It is knowing that, by baring your soul, you can get wounded in the process, but you still have the bravery and willingness to do so. And you don’t do it for yourself, you do it for others. That is one of the bravest things I could imagine anyone to do. Vulnerability is a soldier going to battle with no armor on.

 

Darts might be thrown you way—judgment, looks, whispers behind your back or words spoken to your face, but you must stay the course. Stand your ground. For you never know the power your vulnerability has—the change that it can create in the person next to you and in this world.

 

In Brene Brown’s book, “Rising Strong,” she discusses vulnerability and says that, “…hiding out, pretending, and armoring up against vulnerability are killing us: killing our spirits, our hopes, our potential, our creativity, our ability to lead, our love, our faith, and our joy.” She is exactly right. When we are vulnerable, it can create a chain reaction. We begin to understand one another better—we begin to really see them, and we are able to be seen. And, by stepping out in battle without any armor on, we can learn to love others more fully. We can empathize.

 

I’ve found that, through personal experience, it’s in the aftermath of sharing our stories and struggles to others that we can be hit with conflicted feelings. We want to sometimes reach out and grab the pieces of our masks that we’ve taken off and we want to desperately grab each piece and bring it back to us and cling those pieces close to our sides. We feel the need to put the pieces back together and put our mask back on again.

 

I envision the scene from the musical film “Phantom of the Opera” with Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum. It’s a powerful scene. Emmy’s character, Christine, desperately wants to see what the Phantom is hiding and what lies behind his mask. She catches him off guard and can’t help herself and removes the mask from his face. We, the audience, then see what he has hidden. A face full of scars. Memories and pain associated with those scars. He’s never wanted anyone to see that side of him. He becomes enraged at her and rips his mask back from her hands and instantly puts it back on his face.  It is heartbreaking. Your heart feels pain for the Phantom and you find yourself desperately wanting to help him, just as Christine does. When you learn the story behind how he got those scars, your heart aches even more.

 

When we do take off our masks, we can then have several thoughts:

 

“I overshared.”

 

“Oh my goodness, what are they all thinking about me?” And you can dwell there for a very long time and imagine all the thoughts people might be having about you.

 

“I regret letting others see me.”

 

“I want to hide back in my safe cocoon. I want to become a hermit and hide myself from the world.”

 

You will have those days. The anxiety that comes with opening up is real. It’s natural and it’s okay. It’s okay to feel all those things. It’s normal to feel a delayed reaction of shame about all that you exposed about yourself, whether that be to a group of people, or to one individual. It’s a process. It’s a learning experience; you’re going to find out some people will, unfortunately, shun you or judge you, but, more importantly, you will find your tribe. Your tribe that will encourage you and support you and bring light to your life. Cling, cling, cling to those people. Find them. Find those who can love and accept you for your story and for what you have to say.

 

By never showing any vulnerability, we are hurting not only our own hearts, but the hearts of those around us.

 

We hurt our own hearts by living a lie. By parading ourselves around like our life is perfect—like we are perfect—when we know what the truth is when we go home and when we look in the mirror. We begin to love the lie that we are living and the walls of silence that we build around us to guard us. But the hurt is in that we know the truth. We know we are being deceitful. And that eats at us. We feel a twinge of guilt when someone beside us falls down, and, we may be there to pick them up, but, in the process, we don’t get down in the dirt with them. We don’t dare say, “hey, I’ve been there,” or, “hey, I AM there,” or reveal any part of us. We keep our walls of protection up. We keep silent.

 

We hurt the hearts of those around us by never showing any vulnerability. By never revealing any weaknesses or imperfections to others, our actions, or rather, our inaction, can lead those who are watching us down a path of despair. They may already feel in despair, or “broken beyond all repair” and then when they see your world of perfection that you’ve created, they then see their own and they hang their head in shame.

 

Your vulnerability can help someone not feel so alone. That feeling that you are alone or having the thought that you are all alone can cause you to isolate yourself further away from the world. That is not healthy for the heart, mind, soul, or spirit. We need each other.

 

Even though I have found myself being more vulnerable with those around me as of late, I’m still scared. I’m scared to be vulnerable with others—it’s not easy and I’m not sure it ever will be. Why? Because it IS scary. As I said before, I think one of the biggest fears about being vulnerable is saying to ourselves, “What are they going to think of me?” It’s hard because there is risk involved.

 

I’m scared to write. I’m scared to write what I’m writing about right now. I’ve been scared to tell others my story. To open up and admit to someone, “hey, I’m struggling.” Scared, scared, scared. Yes, that word—that feeling is there—but you know what? You do it anyway. You open your heart out. You be real. You be bold. You start showing others what makes you you and why you’re you. You show them you.

 

And when you start showing you, who you really are to those around you, I believe that you will see a whole new world start opening up right in front of you. That world—the world where you’re being vulnerable—is not going to always look pretty. In fact, it will, some days, look and feel messy—you will feel messy. But, I also believe that it will be a world that you will delight in and that will fill you with wonder and awe. For it will bring you freedom. It will open your eyes. It will open doors and bring people into your life. It will open your heart. It will bring freedom to others. It will bring peace. Your courage to be vulnerable has the power to loosen someone else’s chains. It can help bring them healing.

 

It can bring them Life.

 

But, we’ve got to take off our masks.

The Nomadic Dreamer

What keeps us from going? What keeps us from doing? Going where we want to go, doing what we want to do? What keeps us from pursuing our dream job, from traveling to our dream place? What keeps us from pursuing our dreams, or something that is calling to us, but we are afraid to answer that call?

 

For those of you who know my husband Josh and I pretty well, in our first year of marriage, we did something pretty crazy. We did something most people don’t do. We followed our dreams. We went for it! I had always dreamed of just VISITING the country of New Zealand after watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy and being a huge nerd fan, but we decided visiting wasn’t going to be good enough for us. Why not LIVE there?

 

So, we quit our jobs, sold most of our belongings, including my bright red Mustang that I loved, got a working holiday visa, said goodbye to our families, and moved across the world. 7,639 miles away from home, to be exact. In our first year of marriage, which is supposed to be the hardest year (and which was, by the way, haha), we went to a foreign country when we were still in foreign territory as newlyweds and getting used to married life. But, we did it. And, it was AMAZING. “It’s just you and me, kid.”, is what it felt like. We met some wonderful people through the church and some who have become our lifelong friends who we can’t wait to return and see them again. But, for part of the time, it was just me and him, traveling through the rolling hills in a little red car, driving on the opposite side of the road, and just vagabonding from one destination to the next. I usually like to have a plan, but it didn’t quite work like that…we did have potential jobs lined up, working at backpacker type places, but everything was up in the air pretty much. At that time, it was a little scary and intimidating. But, it was also fun! And looking back now, I’d say it was actually pretty awesome just following the road or following your nose to the next destination. We passed up on a lot of potential jobs mainly due to the accommodation setup, but there were some jobs that fell into our laps by just driving around.

 

If I hadn’t followed my dream, I could never say that I went apple-picking before, in a foreign country! I wouldn’t be able to say that I climbed on top of a volcano, and that I hiked an active volcano, which did erupt just a couple months after we climbed it. A 19 kilometer day long hike, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, that truly tested your endurance and your mental strength. I wouldn’t be able to say that I got to feel like a hobbit as I walked through the real life Shire from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies. I also wouldn’t be able to say that I got to TRY OUT to be an extra FOR The Hobbit trilogy. I wouldn’t be able to say that I’ve visited the Maori village of Te Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao. This crazy and complex sounding name is a geothermal Maori village located in Rotorua, where we got to see what the a day in the life of a Maori looks like; how they cook their food underground from the heat of its setting and watch them perform and sing their traditional songs and dances. During their song and dance, they make their eyes get really big and then stick their tongues out at you, which I found to be quite amusing. Oh, and the village has a wonderful smell of rotten eggs due to the sulphur emissions. Furthermore, If I hadn’t followed my dream, I wouldn’t be able to say that I witnessed my husband zorbing (globe-riding is the recreation or sport of rolling downhill inside of an orb). You get the point . . .

 

Josh and I relied solely on each other, and on God, of course, who guided us along our journey and then found us a perfect job for Josh, just when our options and money were about to run out, He provided for us. He found a job working in the capital city of Wellington, working at the Earthquake Commission, helping thousands of people who had lost their homes and livelihood due to the devastating earthquakes that had struck the city of Christchurch a few months earlier. I was able to be free, and not have to work. I got to do what I love, which is write, and I blogged about our travels while living there. We lived in a flat that overlooked the bay, and that was at the very southern point of the North Island, so I was a witness to all the ferry ships coming in from the South Island, and the airplanes flying into the airport. I got to see people coming and going, perhaps following their dreams, too, of visiting the magnificent landscape that New Zealand has to offer. As newlyweds, Josh and I clung to each other; it was such an adventure, and we grew closer faster, I think, than if we had just stayed at home. I got to live my dream, and now, I can’t wait to go back.

 

Why am I talking about our living abroad in New Zealand? To brag? No, well, maybe just to say that I am so proud of us for doing that, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I also say it to encourage others who are considering doing something that sounds “crazy” or unrealistic. It may seem overwhelming and intangible at first, whether because of money or just the flat out practicality of it. But, it can be done, just take the small steps, step by step, and GO FOR IT!

 

And now, there are things in my life that are calling to me. There are things that have always called to me, some from the time I was a little girl. One dream I always had was to go to Africa, yes, the very cliche mission land to go to, and visit an orphanage. Not only that, but to write a children’s book, and then read my book as the little children sit around me in a circle and listen to my story. And to have the proceeds go to that particular orphanage or other orphanages in the area as well. And in reality, I might have an opportunity to do that, very soon, in fact. Not to Africa, but an opportunity has presented itself to go visit orphans, like I have always dreamed of, in Costa Rica. I am undecided on it at this point, 85% sure I want to and need to go, but something is holding me back. I’m not sure what. And maybe that’s the question that holds us all back. That 15 %. Such a small number compared to 85, but, man, is it loud!

 

That 15% is all the reasons why I SHOULDN’T go. Why I can’t. Why I am incapable. Why it’s not practical. We can all relate. It doesn’t have to be my scenario, necessarily, but pretty much any situation where you are passionate about something or have dreamed about it, and you’re about to take that leap of faith, you’re almost close, so close actually, at the very edge and about to step off that ledge and leap, hoping you fly. We come so close to that point, but, more often than not, we close our eyes in shame, and turn back around, living in regret and wondering whether or not we would have flown if we had taken that leap. So, we turn around, and we go back to what’s safe. To what we know. To what we’ve always known. And that, my friend, is called an opportunity lost. A dream left to float in the wind.

 

Another dream I’ve had is to open up a Bed and Breakfast in France or Italy. If you haven’t learned by now, I LOVE to travel. I get bored being in one place for too long, because I know there is so much out there, so much to see! So many people to meet, different kinds of food to taste, different stories to hear, and to come back and to have a tale to tell yourself. I dream of one day hiking the Inca Trail all the way up to the sacred mountain of Machu Picchu. I dream of spending a week or two hiking from hut to hut in the Swiss Alps. I want to climb to the rooftop of Africa, and stand on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. My dreams that have been dormant because of a stupid illness called postpartum depression are coming back alive, and coming back with a vengeance. The fire is strong. With my healing that has really seemed to be happening more so within these past couple of months, I am finding myself again. The dreamer. But not only the dreamer, the do-er. Josh and I are people of action; we’re not just all talk. I am finding my gypsy soul again; my passion for life, for traveling, for helping other people. I think a quote that definitely describes me in a nutshell is by Isabelle Eberhardt, “A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.”

 

And I will travel to those distant and uncharted places. I will not let anything stand in my way. Sometimes it’s money, but so far, we have found out that God always provides. If you want to go, GO. Yes, it may take time, and you may have to cut out on things and have a tight budget, but if you want to travel somewhere that you have always dreamed of, then, why not? “Well, I have kids”, or, “Well, my job”. Guess what? More times than not, it will work out. You will get the money. You will find someone to take care of the kids, if you don’t end up actually wanting to take them with you. It won’t be the end of the world to your job if you take a few days to yourself and pursue your dreams.

 

One of my favorite quotes is by Saint Augustine. He says, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I wholeheartedly agree with his thoughts, and I know I have so many more pages myself to discover, that I can’t wait to discover. But, I don’t want this to be just about traveling. That quote can apply to life. It’s not just about not traveling. It’s about not living, truly living life. You miss out on the world, not necessarily by not traveling, but by not being and doing. By living only for yourself. By not getting out of your comfortable chair, from your comfortable house in your comfortable neighborhood, and spending your time or your comfortable paycheck on yourself. There are so many grand experiences waiting for us in this life, sometimes opportunities that are SCREAMING at us, but we just ignore them and say, “not now,” or “that’s not for me.”

 

And you know that 15% of doubt that we have? I imagine sometimes that’s what screams to us, instead of the 85% telling us we should do it, or should go. We overlook all the reasons we should do something, or CAN do something, and we listen to that voice of self-doubt, or the negative voice in our heads. Call it Satan, call it reason, call it whatever you want, but I think it’s pretty dang annoying whatever it is! I imagine a tiny little chihuahua. They are so little, but they make the most obnoxious, loud, yelps that can drive a person crazy and wake up an entire neighborhood. They are so headstrong and defiant, and they demand their presence to be known, and man, do you notice their presence, though tiny they be. That’s the 15%. Now imagine; a beautiful, quiet, snow-filled forest. Not a sound as your eyes gaze across this picturesque scene; but then, your eyes see a huge, majestic and magnificent wolf, just staring at you. It doesn’t say anything…doesn’t bark, begging for your attention, but it just stares at you, its eyes piercing your soul. That’s the 85%.

 

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure,” writes Paulo Coelho, in his novel, The Alchemist. Oh yes. And all the “what if’s” that come with that. “What if it doesn’t work out?” Sometimes, it’s not just the obvious circumstances such as finances that stand in the way of something, but it is that we doubt ourselves. We doubt our capabilities. It’s human nature to do so. To use a biblical example, Moses even doubts himself. First of all, we see his fear.

“Then Moses answered, ‘But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ The Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A staff.’ And he said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it (emphasis added). But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Put out your hand and catch it by the tail’—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—‘that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.’” [Exodus 4:1-5]

Often times, we run from what we think is a snake, instead of seeing that what God has given us is a staff. A staff to lead. You don’t have have to part the Red Sea to be a leader, and the staff doesn’t even necessarily have to represent being a leader, but just something that God has given us that we can use. Our talents, our dreams, our ideas.

Furthermore, the story goes on with the dialogue between Moses and God and Moses says to God, “‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’’ [Exodus 4:10]. Moses is coming up with reasons why he can’t go lead the people. Self-doubt. “I am NOT”, he says. He is being negative and saying why he is incapable of doing what God asks of him. He’s listening to that loud 15% inside of his head, instead of the 85% of why he should and why he IS capable. For one, God is on His side and asking him to do this! But it’s human nature to come up with all the reasons of why not to go, why not to be, why not to follow your dream. In fact, he even goes on to say, “‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.’” [Exodus 4:13.] When we read further, we learn that God then became angry with Moses. If I were God, I would be too! Not only is Moses doubting himself, which I’m sure God doesn’t like, he is doubting GOD.

On the other hand, there is a biblical example of someone who was willing and who trusted the Lord wholeheartedly and gave no indication that he doubted himself or God. Isaiah 6:8 reads, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’” Wow! The use of the exclamation mark in the context really emphasizes, I think, Isaiah’s pure enthusiasm and excitement to go! No questions asked. “God, I’m here!” How we should all be like that! Instead of making a list of all the reasons not to go, or not to do this or that, we should be eager to say yes. We have to be practical to a point, of course. This can apply to so many instances in our lives. Not just necessarily going on a mission trip like I’m considering, or going for my dream job one day of working in real estate or eventually being our own boss and owning a B & B in a foreign country. You all have things….dreams, hopes, ideas, desires, that have been placed on your hearts, some of you for as long as you can remember. There may be a very logical and valid reason why you have not pursued that, and that’s okay. But for most of us, it’s time to toss the list in the trash and kick the obnoxious chihuahua in our heads to the curb. It’s time to GO. It’s time to DO.

And then, you may very well find the words of Paulo Coelho to be true:

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”