Grace…In Honesty.

There is opportunity for incredible grace…in honesty. Let me share with you a recent experience I was able to share with a group of extraordinary humans.

SA10I volunteer with Colorado Youth at Risk, a non-profit here in Colorado mission minded pair young people with mentors in a grander mission to help them reach for what is possible in their lives.  I am a Group Leader in this beautiful community we call Steps Ahead 10.  In other words, I mentor mentors and help with coaching to mentors and young people working together, building relationships. Each “community” starts our year long journey with a weekend excursion to AU in Buena Vista, Colorado.  Often, it’s a first “trip” to the mountains, or “trip” of any sort for the young people we serve.

We spend a great deal of time in a course room, learning tools we can use in our SA10 community, and hopefully take with us in to our lives.  I can share more of that later.

We also spend some time outdoors doing a “ropes course.”  This course includes a Freedom Fall in to the arms of your small group as well as many other height challenging, obstacles — all designed to take us one step beyond where the comfort level lives.

Friday night — we learned and used a tool we call “emptying the cup.” Just as it sounds, it’s kind of like word vomit — just emptying the what’s bothering you to a group of people who aren’t here to judge, we’re HERE to HEAR.  Enter grace. I shared with my small group this year is my third year of doing the Launch Course, and that I had successfully finished two of the three never having done the freedom fall.  I have this tremendous mean girl, you know the one that lives inside your head, tells you that you’re probably too fat to do this thing — what if they drop you?  You can’t look at yourself in the mirror because how — just how did you end up THIS WAY? It felt good to let go of my dirty little secret that is the freedom fall.

On Saturday morning we started our ropes course…with… yep… the Freedom Fall.  Each of my respective mentors and young people hopped up on to the back end of the truck we perched from — faced their fear, what was necessary to let go of to get where we want to go… took some coaching and Trust Fallfell in to the arms of our community ready to catch them, support them, and as we put it… “have your back.”

And so we were done with that element.  Or so I thought.  Peter, one of my mentors called me out.  It was my turn.  Me. ME.  Now mind you, I think I narc’d on myself for some desire to finally let go and do this thing… but there it is looking me dead in the eye.  Me and the mean girl.   What if they drop me? What if I am too fat?  What if I just can’t do this?

What if…..?

So the mean girl and I had a conversation.  I am tired of whatever self shaming I have going on for what my body looks like today.  I am tired of avoiding a mirror, because I don’t like what I see.  I am on a journey to reclaim my health, my confidence, knowing that I am good enough just as I am today — and the possibility I have in tomorrow. And so I gave the command…

Me:  “Team Ready?”

Them: “Ready Team!”

Me: “Liz Falling.”

Them: “Fall on Liz.”

And nothing… 

Okay… reset and try again.

Me: “Team Ready?”

Them:  “Ready Team!”

Me: “Liz Falling”

Them:  “Fall on Liz!”

And back I went.

And…They caught me. And… then they lifted me… up above their heads.  And… I didn’t fall, they didn’t drop me.  Liz Freedom FallAnd when I was lowered, all I had was tears, lots of them.  There aren’t words I can find for the gratitude I felt, for these people, these, the ones who said they’d have my back.  And. DID. I’m grateful for the grace, I could show to the mean girl, and the scared girl, and the sometimes not so strong girl, and for the girl who was strong enough, to let them all exist and still come out on top.

#SA10 #WierdosRock

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Grace… and the Mean Girl.

Grace… and the mean girl.  She’s back. Meaner than ever, she’s managed to keep me in tears nearly all freaking day.

The art of self-kindness is hard.  Really really hard.  Today is no exception.  I’ve been working on trying to be kinder to myself, to give myself more grace, to give those around me more grace and it’s been tough.  mean girl poster

Often, I don’t or won’t ask for help, simply because if something is going to fail or mess up, I’d rather it be on me, than me allowing someone else in to my groove and creating even the chance of something going amiss. Professionally, personally, it just shows up.  I struggle with my weight, I’ll make NO bones about it, and this morning, it was called out by the inner mean girl occupying way too much real estate in my head. She’s downright mean about where I am with my weight. “Why can’t I just fix it? Just stop this, don’t do that — do more of this.” So. Much. Noise.  My all out defiance to ask for help also bit me professionally this week.  It. Just. Sucks. I’m sitting in the same space as the mean girl and today she’s winning. Overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start — what’s the first step? Presuming I take the first… do I know where the second is? What the second is? I paralyze myself.  There is zero grace in a self-imposed paralytic state.

Rock bottom, however, is the place many Christians try desperately to avoid. It’s the antithesis of the American Dream. Ironically, however, everyone who lives long enough knows suffering, or rock bottom, is inevitable. Everyone eventually meets that one situation beyond their control or capability. In this moment, you find the answer to the most important question of your life, “Will you try harder or look higher?”

Suffering isn’t failure. It can be a gift, an opportunity to see God’s grace, maybe for the first time. Suffering takes away our control, along with our talents, good works, and fool-proof plans. But it’s here, with nothing left, that we might just be desperate enough to seek God.

I was asked this weekend what I do? How do I stop the mean girl from rearing her head and opening her mouth? Rarely, do I catch her before the words escape, in fact, most often, I catch her after the damage is done, so is the case today. So again, let’s chalk one up to the mean girl, she’s won another battle, for a moment. The war rages on.

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Build A Bridge…

Build a bridge… and get over it.

Grappling with grace is a full-time job.  Truly.  There are days when it’s easy peasy and then there are those other days.  You know the ones.  I woke up late.  The dog just puked on the floor, oh great ten emails and it’s only 6:30 am you say?  Yes, that’s how life goes.  At least my life. Often, and usually in the midst of a huge pity party, I’ve declared a day a total waste, washed up, gone, toast, you know — busted.

I am convicted.  In these moments, relishing in my dysfunction, believing I alone live in circumstance mired in pain and trouble. Seriously Liz, just start building that bridge. NOW. Don’t wait!Bamboo bridge

Blessings are as much a part of my life, even more so, than any curse I am capable of fathoming. I want for little, have an amazing support system in my life and often, even with all of the support that I have can wallow with the best of them.

Someone pass the hammer.

Truths. We are gifted with one life. That’s it…. just one.  What I choose to do with it is my own and as painful as it is to admit, hours maybe even days are spent far from grace supporting ideas, things, feelings which really don’t do much good at the end of it all.

Build the bridge carefully, make your supports grace.  Use care and good thoughts to support the structure. If prayer is a part of your support system, lean on it. Heavily.  Maybe the universe is your source of temperance, or meditation, whatever it is, go to that place, often, even when you don’t believe you need it. Especially then. We do.  I do.

 

  • Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)

    Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

 

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Words I’ve been meaning to share…

It’s almost been two months. I believe that we miss her as much today as we did on February 1st.  My heart is not aching as much as it had been, maybe just resorting to the dull pain and awareness of not being able to just pick up the phone. There are words I’ve been meaning to share… of Sandy and it just seems right. Today.

I am seldom at a loss for words.  Well, Sunday and “the big game” and just how to tell my Sandy story being the exceptions.

How do I tell you the story of this woman?  I need to share enough with you to understand the struggle of our relationship to help you understand the sheer beauty of it in our final months together.

And then… I woke up at 4:30.

Earlier last week I wrote in my blog as we walked with Sandy through her last steps.  I had commented to the Chaplin, that this experience, Sandy’s end-of-life seemed to me to be every bit the miracle that the birth of a child is, the other side of the same coin. That moment was probably the most helpful determination of this process.

calling heaven  I blogged that we often conceptualize “miracles” with the BIG and MIGHTY things we may expect.  Loaves and fishes, turning water into the finest wine, resurrecting on the third day….  And then I thought, death, perhaps fits right in with those miracles.

I woke up this morning with a to-do list that really needed to be to-done, before we arrived this morning, and, grateful that I had found my words.

My relationship with Sandy is one of my own little miracles.  We started in a pretty traditional way, I was just never going to be good enough, to be the woman that would marry her son.  In fact, until just hours ish before our wedding in May of 2011, Sandy was determined that she’d have no part of what was about to happen.  As it happened, Sandy had a last minute change of heart, and my brother Vito went on a mission for what I think is the first of a series of miracles in our relationship, and picked-up Sandy to attend the marriage of her son, to me… the girl she just didn’t think was good enough.calling heaven

I shared earlier this week that at our wedding Eric and I shared photos of our relationship as centerpieces.  A photo of he, a photo of me, and a photo of we.  We also had boxed truffles set as table gifts.  After the pleasantries of the reception, one of our guests, I think it was LeAnn… had commented to me that Sandy had been traveling from table to table availing herself of the photos of Eric, the remaining truffles…. Leaving me and we behind.  I share this, because more than five years later, I still find it hysterical.

It was after our wedding, that the miracle of Sandy and I really started.  She stopped introducing me as the maid, Lord knows I’m not….and Eric says so too. But I was able to spend time with Sandy on a different level, one of acceptance and as the days progressed, fondness.

In the past several months of Sandy’s life, I noticed, I think we all noticed a change in Sandy’s demeanor.  She became softer and kinder – traits I believe she always had, but was perhaps guarded in sharing having had a life that often included heartbreak or disappointment, and I had moved from being the maid, to being sweetie or honey… a hand hold here, and a hug there.

While Eric was traveling late last year, it offered the opportunity for Sandy and I to enjoy a girls day out for lunch and shopping…. it’s a gift to me, because it wasn’t a have-to-do, but a want-to-do and so we enjoyed a lunch at Chili’s and Christmas shopping.  I have to believe that she enjoyed the afternoon just as much as I did. I know, without a doubt, she enjoyed the chips and guacamole.

And in her last days… I was able to just be with Sandy and Eric through this.  Mostly holding her hand, reading to her, listening to Barry Manilow, and reflecting with her at just how far we’d come.

Our relationship… is my little miracle and Sandy’s gift to me.

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Heavenly Father…

Jacob at breakfast… “Heavenly Father, thank you for my mommy, daddy, my food, and my sins. Amen”  Jacob, is the youngest son of my HS classmate and his beautiful wife.  They, in the past few years have adopted three children into their family, having raised two of their own, and completing their tribe.

Thank you for my sins. Profound words from a small child.  It goes that way doesn’t it?  We often seek knowledge in all of the places we expect, and often overlook the places we’re likely to find but…. never think to look.long road

In my pursuit of grace I am finding myself more aware of myself, and those around me.  There have been days where I’ve been tickled at my ability to walk in that place, where grace is freely received and freely given, and I’ve also found myself walking in the space where my grace hasn’t been seen for miles.

All of this brings me back to the simple prayer of a young child, “Heavenly Father, thank you for my sins.”  You see…. without being aware of my sin, how would I know, and grow from the grace of the ONE who has given me NOTHING I deserve and EVERYTHING I don’t?

Well played Jacob…

That’s how it goes with grace.  A long road, a very long road with twists and turns.  Places of feeling perfectly at home and places where I couldn’t feel more lost. I will keep on the road, I know the destination is where I want to be, I will arrive, if only by the grace of God.

20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. — Romans 3:20-24
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Everyday….isn’t Perfect!!!

Quit allowing negative thoughts and negative people to keep you down. Today, let go of all things negative. With Love, Dr. K. L. Author of “Everyday Isn’t Perfect”: http://amzn.com/B01GNLNQ28.

via Let Go! — The Ninth Life

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When you don’t want to…

What happens? When you don’t want to give grace? Let’s be honest, but I’m guessing we’ve all been there.  Right. There. 

I am. Right. There.  It’s Monday and it started with a bang.  Every flavor of traffic difficulty imaginable, I think just to make my drive suck.  Production meeting at work and it just seems like there is a collective funk in the air and bad mood, seeping like a water spill from place to place and person to person.  So much for today…simplicity_pulling_my_hair_out_by_fullofsecrets

In our production meeting my phone was blown up by call after from my young man.  Of course he needs this and he needs that and he needs this.  And… how dare I be working and NOT available to take care of every little whim. Right. Now.  

So it’s gone from bad to worse and today I just don’t want to give grace anywhere…  It’s the kind of day where the entire planet is a part of some greater conspiratorial plan to see just where my break point is.

Borrowed from a blog I just read… and thank you Kristen, publisher of #chasingblueskies, because Lord knows that at least ten times today, at least ten…I was going to move right on past these suggestions.

1. Sit on the sarcasm. Snarkiness of any kind is just pride in a cute skirt. (Note to self.) If you’re like me, sitting on sarcasm sometimes means not saying anything at all. Biting my lip and even walking out of a room altogether.

2. Savor validation found in truth, not telling-off. Your true identity is seen by the God who sees everything. It is not our job to set everyone straight, but rather let him set each situation straight. No lasting worth ever came from getting the last word. (My parents would be thrilled to know I am finally understanding this!) While defensive positions and speaking up have their place, I can’t manage everyone’s opinion of me, especially at the cost of grace.

3. Stick to the blessing. Slow down. Let yourself embrace restraint because like we see in the example of Abraham in the Bible,  restraint comes with blessing. God met Abraham (Abram) right where he was and gave him a choice. Abram chose to obey God and when He did, he received the blessing. When we choose to obey God by showing grace rather than airing our grouses, we receive a blessing, too.

So this is hard… today, it feels near impossible.  So I think that for the rest of today, I will pray and meditate.  I’ll probably work on #1, a lot.  So like Abraham… perhaps today is a test.  I think it is.  If you’re in to such things… today I need prayers.  Prayers to find the elusive grace hiding from me today.

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