At the beginning of this year, I was invited to a new meeting, new for me anyway.
The name of the group is “Raw and Real”.
(That should tell you something!)
My husband asked me before I went what it was all about.
I seriously did not know, and I told him so.
“So why did I agree to go?” was his next query; because I 100% trust the friend who invited me.
Turns out, it is a growing group of woman from many different walks of life, just sitting for a couple of hours and sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I was dubious, because I dislike the small talk involved with meeting new people.
I love the DEEP talk – just not always the small talk of getting there.
But did I mention I trust my friend?
This group was all women with a similar world view, even though their life histories were very different.
It was actually quite a joy to hear some of their stories, and heartbreaking to hear some others.
Let me tell you folks, no matter how bad you had it – someone always had it worse.
You can never tell by looking at them, just how difficult their journey has been.
I won’t share their stories, but I can sure tell you what happened in my mind while I was there.
I did not share my story there, but as I listened I was reminded, and considered my own journey.
Sometimes when you have walked thru so much, over such a long period of time –
You know where you’ve walked, but some of the steps get forgotten.
What I’d like to do here, is share the BIG steps that I remembered during this meeting, and then in subsequent posts, share some of the little steps that were involved in becoming the free woman that I am today.
So here is the list I made while listening – many of their steps reminded me of my own!
1. Toxic turmoil
3. Quiet (pjs)
5. Little girl – 6 weeks – 6 months
8. Too much process
During the process of writing this out, I am positive that even more will be revealed and remembered.
Over the years I have come to “Love the process”.
It always takes me to new places, with further vistas, and hopefully, you can realize some new freedoms too, just by following along.
As many people do, at the beginning of the year, I’ve been considering the year just finished, and digging deep to find how the year I’m entering can be better; more productive, more quiet, more adventurous, more of whatever it is supposed to be.
Like a hastily taken photograph, there has been a lot of noise in this picture.
I have been able to narrow that noise down to three top priorities.
In short, they are; 1. Use my writing to help others to heal from their trauma. 2. Take my photography to a higher level to show God’s magnificence and 3. To help people in a more person to person sort of way.
All of these simply mean that I need to stop making excuses, and carve out more time to work on each of these things.
All this past month or so, a different kind of thought has been surfacing around me.
It manifests in different ways and places, but it means the same thing.
I simply MUST take more time to be quiet.
I don’t mean just idle, we all know how to do that.
What I mean is taking that time to quiet the noise inside, so that I can think more clearly.
If you know me, you know that I am a big proponent of “Quietude”, even to the point of making little YouTube spots to help in the process.
Truth time; For the past six months or so, I haven’t been making those spots, or even using them for what they are created for.
Life takes a turn sometimes and gets crazy.
When the crazy comes to an end, it takes some time to get back to where we (read I) need to be so we can gain some strength back – mentally, physically or spiritually.
Enter oversleeping, overeating, over social media-ing, binge watching TV.
This isn’t all bad; the trick is to know when that time is here to stop it, and then do something about it!
One of the ways that it is being made clear to me that it’s time is through a little daily devotion that I read.
Over the last little while, it keeps talking about time, and how it’s been difficult, busy, frustrating and somewhat stagnant.
It also has been encouraging in regards to priorities, entering a new phase of life, knowing I’m not the only one, and resisting the urge (or the habit) of staying hidden away.
These devotions have talked about the significant (I like that word!) changes that have taken place during this time; and now it is time to accomplish what these changes are bringing to pass.
Coming out of this place of retreat, can seem overwhelming.
The habits that help us to be calm, take time to bring to the surface again;
The New and Improved Model!
It seems slow, even one step ahead is always preferred.
But it all makes me want to run forward.
Then today two things came in front of me almost simultaneously;
I heard a friend speak (on Facebook Live) that I hadn’t heard in a while. He was talking about “Zoning out”. His word for “Quietude”. And how he must do this every day, to quiet the noise, to turn off the world we live in, so he can think; the silence speaks volumes. The “Mind of Christ” becomes clearer to him at these times.
Today’s devotion was this; January 14, 2020: Take a breath and settle down, says the Lord. I know your sense of urgency and impatience to get a move on, but right now I need you to be tolerant and long-suffering. Otherwise, you will remove yourself from the flow of divine destiny. Keep yourself in My Spirit and take life as it comes with the grace I will provide. Romans 16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Oh my goodness.
Gently and kindly I’ve been being pushed in this direction – and then today……
It didn’t seem very gentle.
It seemed very firm and deliberate.
Take the time.
I used to teach people that even if you start with five minutes, it could help.
Then you can move the time out as your grow in strength.
But God can work with ANY time that we give Him.
How did this get left off of my priority list?
Well its back on there folks.
The results will be amazing!
I’ve experienced them before, those “Quietude” moments.
So. Last week, I was able to have breakfast with my cousin.
When we were growing up, we saw each other a lot, practically every weekend; sometimes until the wee hours of the morning.
I miss the games of Monopoly, and LIFE, playing hide and seek in the tall grass field next door until well after dark, the camp fires, and the times when we watched the vacation photos off those slides, on that funny little screen.
There’s a funny thing about cousins.
They get you when no one else does, because they were there when no one else was.
This cousin in particular, was a soft place for me to land when I was a high schooler – her being SO GROWN UP with her age being five years beyond mine.
As a young mom with two littles, a lot of time was spent around her kitchen table, making sense of how things were, how they could be.
We learned together how to trust God, and how to allow Him to lead and guide us through some really rough times.
We both had them, but we held on tight.
Somewhere when our kids became full of school activities, and life got crazy – we lost each other.
Well, not really.
Our hearts have been joined all these years none the less.
We just couldn’t get together as much as we liked.
But you know what?
Being together again last week, seemed to begin closing that gap again.
We are still so much alike, maybe even more now, and we know that we can still benefit each other by just spending time together, telling our stories.
Another thing that we know is that we can help some outside of our family as well.
There are, near as I can tell, only a few other relationships in our lives that can compare to the cousin relationship, and they would be a sibling, a spouse, or if you’re lucky enough a BFF.
These are the ones who can help soothe your soul, hide your crazy, or talk you off the ledge.
All this being said, what my cousin, what my siblings, what my Spouse and what my BFF all know for sure –
Even we will fail.
Humans are not infallible.
We can say we want to help, and truly mean it, but for whatever reason there is a disconnect.
We can strive for that perfection, but will not really ever reach it, at least not here on earth.
So even with all of these human fail safes in place, there still is only ONE who can foot the bill – Perfectly – Forever.
His name is Jesus.
I read this article, 7 Ways Jesus is the Best Friend You Could Ever Have.
I was impressed by the simplicity with which the author describes what an authentic friendship with Jesus looks like.
She begins by stating that ” Christians think of Jesus as their Lord, Savior, King and Master. However, believers rarely think of Jesus as being a close friend. Though that might sound strange to you at first, Jesus actually wants us to think this way.”
Clicking on the link above will take you to the complete article.
Let me end by saying that I hope you have those in your life who will give you the boost you need, or even the kick in the pants if you are stalled out somewhere.
A cousin, a sibling, a BFF, or a spouse, even a blogger friend; but even in the absence of one of those, you can always give Jesus a try.
I would welcome your dialog if you need some help getting started.