Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pursuit of Purpose Workshop: Session 1

Hey girls.

Are you ready to start digging in?

All day long, this post has been playing on my mind. What can I share? Where should I start?

And then tonight, I get together with a friend deep in the throes of grief. She asks if I will meet her at Starbucks and help her write her baby's obituary.

We meet, and she shares all the precious photos she has of her sweet Hannah. My tears drip. I think I cried more than she did. And then we write -- well, she speaks, I try to keep up with my clumsy, frozen cold fingers on my iPhone.

And then we trim, trim, trim and reword.

And then it's done. 500 characters to sum up an entire life.

It just doesn't seem like enough does it? It would never be enough.

And so my head and heart are now in that beautiful place that is brokenness. Tonight's brokenness was not my own, but I was allowed in to that sacred place with her. Where time was not enough. Where time has both stood still -- and yet mercilessly still charges on.

And so tonight, I want us to start with our stories. I'm going to share in later posts why this is so important. And why we are starting with brokenness instead of with optimism or success tips and tricks. Trust me, eventually this will make sense.

I'd like you to pick 3 events of brokenness in your life that have shaped you or molded you in some fashion.

Here's how mine looks -- and how I want to you to fashion your events on paper. If you have more than 3 key events, feel free to add more. I stuck with my top 4.

Tomorrow, we'll talk this through.  But as you write your key events out, as you think about them over the course of the next 24 hours, I want you to really think about how these events have shaped your life. Shaped who you are. How you think. What you do. Or maybe what you DON'T do.

Ok, do you have them? Good. Now publish that blog post, close that journal, and get a good night's rest. We'll meet up again tomorrow.

Click here for Pursuit of Purpose Session 2

Pursuit of Purpose Workshop : Session 2

This is me. Looks fun right? I look happy? Yep. I was happy. And freaking terrified.
Right after this picture was taken, the people in the backgound started shaking the bridge.
 I ran (I mean RAN) off that bridge. Want to know why?

(I had hoped to get this post up yesterday, except I fell asleep writing it. Oops. Better done than perfect, right??)

So ... How was the last 48 hours, thinking about your big events?

If you're like me ... Those events often cross my mind, but often in subtle ways that I'm not 100% aware of. How was it to think of how you've changed as a result of your experiences?

Before I delve deeper into the significance we attach to the events in our lives, I want to address one small (MAJOR) thing.

And that is fear.

The moment we set out to accomplish anything outside our comfort zone, fear sets in.

Maybe you've already felt it starting this workshop. I know I have. It sounded like a great idea in my brain. Until I wrote out the first post.

And then doubt crept it ....

What if no one reads it? What if I'm the only person who does the activities? What if there are no comments, and every one can see that I'm just a fake when it comes to leadership and mentoring? 

Worse, what if I turn people away from my blog? What if they need someone to grieve with them -- and not someone to cheerlead? What if I don't have the right words to make an impact?

It all sounds kinda irrational right now. But the fear was real. Paralyzing even. It made me not want to hit publish. And then when I DID hit publish, I regretted it and wanted to take it back to draft.

But I didn't. Sometimes, all you need is 20 seconds of bravery.

20 seconds could change everything . . .

Fear has a purpose... To keep us safe, healthy, and otherwise free of unnecessary risks.

But a major problem with fear is that it is not the best judge of our actions or choices.

You see, it's meant to keep us stuck inside our comfort zone, where we feel happy and healthy. So we fear things like jumping into an ocean full of sharks ... Or walking alone down a dark alleyway in the city ... Or climbing to the top of a cliff without any safety ropes. Those are all legitimate fears.

But fear has a bad habit of turning everything into something we should be afraid of ... Something that will be risky or will cost us. 

Fear tells us that speaking in front of an audience is as risky as swimming with sharks. Fear tells us that putting our ego out on the line is just as risky as climbing a cliff. Fear tells us that rejection is life or death.

And the problem with this is that:

#1 There is no reward where there is no risk. Fear minimizes risk, therefore minimizes reward.

#2 You cannot grow unless you are stretched. You cannot stretch unless you are out of your comfort zone. And you cannot get outside of your comfort zone if you base your decisions on fear. Because fear is designed to KEEP YOU COMFORTABLE.

#3 Fear keeps you average. Which is fine if you want an average life. But if you want more? Then you have to learn to control your fear, instead of letting fear control you.

Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.

It will make our palms sweat, our hearts race, our adrenaline flow. It has the power to paralyze. Fear doesn't take reality into consideration. It's based almost entirely on emotion. We fear sharks (well, maybe just I do) while watching Shark Week -- even though we are comfortably seated in our living room, just about as far away from a tropical beach as one could get.

Sometimes fear makes sense. And sometimes it doesn't. Like the fear of success? Why is it we fear EXACTLY what we are working toward? And then the opposite, the fear of failure.

But here's where we need an injection of truth.

Fear has killed more dreams than failure could ever touch.

What dreams has fear killed for you?

So let's journal or blog . . .

What has living by fear cost you? What has your living by fear cost others around you? What fears do you have that make sense? And which ones are False Evidence Appearing Real?

Here's that bridge again. Guess what's beneath it?

This 9-foot-long hammerhead shark. And his friend. Just to make things extra terrifying.
Can you guess that sharks just might be one of my biggest fears??

By the way, I'd just like to add that I actually did this water slide.
The one that slowly meanders through a shark tank. I also did the one that does a death drop
through a shark tank. That one was TERRIFYING. But I'm still proud I did it. And believe it or not -- I lived!

Click here for Pursuit of Purpose Session 1

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pursuit of Purpose Workshop commences!

Recently, I published a few posts about purpose. (You can find them here, here , here and here.)

And as I have explored what makes me tick, I've come to realize that helping others find their purpose and their stories are just as important to me.

And so I want to know if you want to join me on this journey to discovering what we are meant for, who we were created to become, and how we can fulfill our callings.

While this is not the blind leading the blind -- it is the learner leading the learner.

I am not an expert on purpose, but I am passionate about it, I'm learning about it, and I'm pursuing my own. Instead of just doing this myself, I want to create a community around me of people who are looking for and wanting MORE.

So here's my proposition -- I'm going to be posting a few articles/thought prompts/homework assignments each week for the next few weeks. If you want to join me in this blogging workshop, just comment that you're in.

If you blog, I recommend adding in your blog address in your comment so we can all follow each other. Feel free to "do" your homework on your own blog if you'd like, and comment back on each of my posts with your permalink.

If you don't blog, simply keep your own purpose journal where you can write down your answers and chronicle your journey. (I just gave you an excuse to get yourself to B&N's and grab a darling new journal. You may as well grab a cup of Joe while you're there.) ;) To be apart of the community, feel free to add your answers/thoughts/homework completion in the comment section of each post.

I want us all to learn from each other, and grow better together.

And if I may add -- while I hope hope hope that my posts will help inspire you and lead you in the right direction -- it will take EFFORT on your part to actually discover and develop your purpose and calling. I promise, it isn't hard and it won't take forever. But it will take some intentional effort and focus on your part.

So here it is girls! The Pursuit of Purpose Workshop.

Homework #1: Comment below if you are in (and add a blog link if you are a blogger. And if you're not a blogger, go grab a journal.)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Urgent prayer request

My friend Kristin deserves a baby more than just about anyone I know.

Her story resembles mine: HELLP syndrome, which for her resulted in a micro-preemie at 28 weeks, multiple miscarriages, and infertility.

And now today they found out their beautiful daughter, their longed-for and hoped-for rainbow baby has died at 24 weeks.

I cannot wrap my brain right now around the unfairness of it all. I'm crying, but I know that my hurting for them isn't even a drop in the bucket to the sorrow and devastation they feel. 

Why? Why, God? You are good ... But why? 

Kristin will have to deliver their daughter, and I ask that you would take a moment and surround this family with your prayers. 

And pray for those around her ... That her friends and family will know how to show the love and compassion and support they need. 

I wish I could say something Christiany... But I'm honestly so angry that death has won this timr here on earth. I am angry my friend has to say good-bye before hello. I am not understanding why. 

And you know what? I think God is just as angry at death, and sin, and Satan for robbing this baby of her life here on Earth. Even as He has prepared heaven for her, I have to believe that he too is mourning right now as well.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

In pursuit of purpose

Hi friends,

so this post just might be really garbled and flow of consciousness. So forgive me. And bear with me while I dig in.

A few weeks ago, I asked if any of you felt that you were meant for something more.

I am feeling that so much, every day, pressing on my heart.




Purpose. Purpose. Purpose.

Every day, I feel in the trenches. I'm working through old fears, and old tapes playing in my head, and fighting a war with lethargy and comfort.

I'm daring to break the boundaries I've put on myself.

I'm trying to believe and trust in a God that's bigger than me and bigger than my giants.

God is using so many people and circumstances and trainings and books to just pour into me. I feel the clay of my life under his potter's hands. And at times, I just want to fight it. 

Other times, I embrace it as a long-lost wanderer through the desert might embrace a fresh-water well.

Embracing truth brings to light the ugly in my heart. I see the selfishness, the pride (oh pride. Oh. Oh. Oh.) I see how I let infertility and loss just ROB me of my confidence, my belief that I AM WORTH IT, and my hope in the future.

One of the purposes I feel called to is to be a writer and a speaker. I have loved writing ever since I learned how to put a pencil in my hand and scrawl out illegible letters. I developed a creative voice in middle school. I took on a job as a proofer, only with the intent to move to a copywriter (which I did.)

But in spite of my passion, and my blog, FEAR (and how big that fear is) has kept me from starting my book.

Can I share with you why I am so afraid?

I am afraid to revisit pain. Truth is that I have spent so long trying to survive, that now that I'm on the other side, and in many ways thriving . . . I feel like I can't touch that pain with a 10-foot pole. Let alone write about it. Let alone let myself REMEMBER what it feels like to lose a child in pregnancy. What if I go back, and I can't get back out again? What if I get lost in the murkiness of anxiety, depression, grief, sadness?

What if I've healed to much that I'm no longer relevant? Maybe I revisit that pain, and I'm found lacking.  What if my words don't carry the weight that they once did? What if I have lost my voice?

What if you don't like it? What if no one buys it? What if (worse) no one even publishes it?

And it really just comes down to the age-old fear that I have let RUN (completely run and ruin in many ways) my life . . .

What if I am just NOT ENOUGH???
As long as my book stays in my imagination, it's safe. I can be a speaker and a writer within the confines of my dreams. There is no rejection. People will buy my book in swarms. And I'll be a legitimate author.
Writing and speaking aren't my only dream. I also am working toward getting to the top of my network company.
I am making major strides this month in leadership, in learning, in personal development, and goal-setting. Every day, I'm working with intentionality and focus. And I'm moving forward, trusting in something so much bigger than me.
And yet, those old tapes in my brains sometimes play:
"Who are YOU, little old Rachel, to think you could accomplish THAT?"
"Who would follow you?"
And of course, the big one. Oh the big one.
What if I am just NOT ENOUGH???
You know what. Here's truth.
I'm not enough.
My blog isn't good enough. I desperately want it to look cuter, but I have no idea how to do that. I want better buttons so you can share on Social Media easier. Yep, no clue how to do that. I don't write as often as I should. I'm on Blogger when I should have started on WordPress.
But you know what, my voice isn't enough. My blog isn't __________ enough. But my GOD is enough. He can take my humble beginnings, my blog template that EVERYONE has, my fingers that falter and my courage that fails at times -- He can take it all and still inspire someone. Inspire you. Maybe bring you closer to Him. Or maybe help you feel not so (God-forsakingly) alone. He can take it.
You know what else? I'm not good enough in my business. Would you believe that yesterday I went to a makeup party without any makeup? I mean, that's all fine and dandy when I'm the guest. But when I'm the consultant?? Yeah. That was me.
I still get nervous before every party. I sell skincare and I still get breakouts. (Nothing to do with product, everything to do with my lovely genes.) I don't have the perfect story. Ya'll, I have been at this business for 7 years. I have had ups and downs. Teams come and teams quit. Nothing I have gone through has been a waste -- and yet I don't yet have all the "stuff" of success. (Except that because of Arbonne, I can stay home with my kids. That one is pretty darn awesome.)
But I know that my God doesn't need me to be the most beautiful, the most put-together, the most perfect consultant in order to succeed.
And that's the point. He doesn't need me. Not for any of this, other than to just be humbled and submitted to Him. As long as I just humble myself to His leading, then I AM enough. Because my identity is wrapped up solely around Him.

And so here I am to you, my friends. My dear readers who I cherish so very much. You who have cheered me on, cried tears with me, prayed for me, emailed me, and loved on me -- even when I don't deserve it.
Here, I promise to you. I will write that book. I will. And not someday -- but this year. At the end of this year, my manuscript will be in someone's hands. Hopefullly that someone will choose to publish.

And I also promise that I'm going to do everything on my part to grow my business -- and even more so, focus on growing into the person I need to be in order to lead.
I am so thankful that as I pursue my purpose, as I submit to God, I'm not alone.
Thank you for being with me every step of the way. Un-cute blog and all.
I'll leave you with this challenge  . . . And I hope you all will think about your OWN purpose. Your own fears that are holding you back. I hope you, too, find that God is big enough for all of it. That you are enough. Because He is enough.
Did you know that there are people waiting for you to show up? Not at an event, but at this thing called life. They are looking for you to be brave so that it gives them the courage to be brave. When you are successful , it inspires them to believe they can do it too. When you open up about weakness, they can be honest about their struggles and weakness.
So often, we act as though our decisions only affect us. But we aren't an island. Others are always always impacted by how we choose to live.
So today, own up. Be brave. Be honest and open. Pursue your dream. Don't apologize for being too great or too humble. Simply live with integrity, passion and love.
You never know who might be counting on you to show up TODAY.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cravings lie, hunger thrives

Ryan and I just finished 28 Days of clean eating. Ryan lost 16 pounds, I lost 4. But I was more interested in how much inflammation and bloating I could lose. 

Before ...

After ... 

In spite of all that I learned, there was something so much deeper in all of it. It turns out it's not just about disciplining yourself to saying no to the bad food and yes to the good.

I learned that in my life, I'm either being controlled by a true hunger ... Or by cravings. 

Cravings are sneaky little liars. They tell us that if we will just indulge, we will feel so much better. And if we just cave to them, our craving will be satisfied and will leave us alone. 

(Except, they never do leave us alone, do they?)

Cravings are so accessible. If you feel the slightest hunger pain, or are bored, or are stressed/sad/emotional ... They are right around every corner calling to you. Panera, Starbucks, McDonalds, Chick-Fil-A (ok, I'll admit ... I WISH a Chick-Fil-A were right around the corner) ... All so ready for your indulgence.

Cravings leave you sabatoged. You go from one to another for years until you look back and see that your body doesn't look like what you want it to. It doesn't fit into the wardrobe you spent a mini fortune on. It gets sick, and tired, and just wants to rest all the time. 

Cravings are horribly addictive. You want coffee, so you grab a hazelnut mocha with extra whip. And then your brain acts like you just fed it crack, and wants some more. The more you have, the more you need it to get through the day/wake up/fold the laundry/sit by the pool/take your kids to the park/read a good book/have a conversation with a friend/take a nap. (I mean, is there really any function that could not be made better with a delicious cup of joe?)

And yet ...

True hunger, the way God made it before we fed our bodies all this crap ... True hunger is very different.

True hunger is looking for building blocks of life. It wants the healthy fats, and protein, and complex carbs, and fiber, and vitamins, and phytonutrients. 

True hunger is God-given to make sure our bodies function. Thrive even.

True hunger is often not easily satisfied like cravings are. When you offer true hunger a donut, it knows that there is something it wants more than a quick spike in blood sugar. And when true hunger is met ... When you push your body to climb a mountain, and then you feed your worn out self a full, savory, delicious meal... Ahhh. Life is good.

True hunger leads you to fulfillment. Your body acts and looks like it is supposed to. 

True hunger is also addictive. But in a good way. When you realize how good your body was designed to feel ... You just keep wanting more of the good stuff. 

Now .... before you think I'm preaching  a mini sermon on nutrition (I did, by the way, take two semesters of hermeneutics in Bible College) ... Or maybe before you hit up Starbucks to see if extra whip is even a "thing" ... You should know this is all really about my life and your life. Not just about food.

You and me? Either we are going about our days chasing our cravings.

Or we're seeking to fulfill that for which we truly hunger. 

Life cravings, like bad food, are all around. It's as though we are walking through a pinball machine, and lights are blinking everywhere, our ball is pinging from one thing to the next, and bells and buzzers create a cacophony of chaos. (Ok. I just have to point out that I'm pretty proud of that little alitteration. Second-grade writing --- you have paid off.)

We are so dizzy going from one distraction to another we forget that there is something MORE.

Cravings look like watching TV all night to space out of real life. Like staying in our comfort zone, instead of stretching outside of it. Cravings tell us to procrastinate on anything that might cause discomfort, or make waves. "You deserve to feel good NOW," they say. "Discipline yourself later."

I don't know about you, but I crave distraction (hello FB newsfeed!), time to zone out, excuses to not clean my house, or pursue my business, or write that proposal. I crave attention from others (yes, I was a middle child) when it would be better to spend time with God. (Oh. And I crave coffee. And pastries. Especially coffee and pastries together.)

And of course the problem with all this is that the more I procrastinate, the more I distract myself, the more I zone out ... The more I NEED these things to cope when life's little demands pop up.

When we go from craving to craving, distraction to distraction, our life just kinda happens. We bounce along in that life-sized pinball machine until we had no idea what it was that we want anymore. 

So we stay in that job, is stay in that rut, or stay in an unhealthy relationship because it has become our comfort zone.

Real hunger. Oh. Real hunger is so amazingly different.

Just like God designed us to hunger after  food that would cause us to thrive, God has designed a life hunger in each of us. None of our hungers are identical. But they are all intentionally placed there by God. And we are meant to thrive in His purpose. 

We each have a purpose, or a calling. Something that tugs on our heart, that tells us "if I had enough time/money/confidence, THIS is who I would become or what I would do."

Hunger yearns to be fed with the stuff that will nourish our soul. That will make us thrive. The stuff that creates the building blocks of an amazing life.

True hunger is not easily satisfied by all the bling-blinging that surrounds us each day. When you are living intentionally in your calling, it demands that you give it your attention. And until you do, things like watching reality shows on TV, or taking a nap, or procrastinating until next (fill-in-the-blank), don't really satisfy. They come up short. Or maybe, they lose their appeal altogether.

Living life by hunger means living life intentionally. It means saying adios to comfort zones, and pointless distractions, and just getting by. 

It calls to us that there is more. We are made for more. 

And years later, after we have lived out our days with purpose and focus, we realize that we are exactly where we are meant to be.

I hope, dear friends, that you each know your life's hunger ... Your purpose. 

Many of us on this blog know all-too-well what it is to hunger for something (or someone), we can't have. 

But God is not done with us. He can take even the longings that remain unfulfilled and use them for our good and His glory. 

So I really want to encourage you to spend some time with God this week. Ask Him to reveal your hunger, and to equip you to achieve it.

What do you crave? And what is it that makes you so hungry for life?

 If cravings lead to regret, and true hunger leads to fulfillment ... Which path are you on?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Microblog Monday: Childhood dreams

Do you remember dreaming as a kid?

I remember my real dreams (as in nightmares). One was of my twirling my finger in a barrel of water that had mini sharks in it.

Another --- and the bane of my imagination for many years -- was the recurrent dream about an orange crocodile. 

He slowly was crawling out of the ocean and onto the beach that I was standing on. Every effort to move was in vain. My legs, frozen in fear, refused my urging to run. Slowly, as if in slow-mo, the beast drew closer and closer. Until it was too late ... And I awoke to my heart beating out of my chest. 

Even as the dream now sounds kinda ridiculous (really? Neon orange?) --- the fear I felt remains a strong, visceral memory.

And then there were the day dreams. Mostly ones revolving around pregnancy. 

Many nights, I creeped out of the bunk bed I shared with my sister, to search for the perfect belly bump . . . My popple.

Up my nightgown it went, as I waddled in circles with my hands on my hip.
This obsession with pregnancy thing? Not so new to me. 

I can still remember watching the doctor on Star Trek give birth on an elevator on the starship. 

Fast forward to today ... And I now have my own little girl full of dreams. 

Thankfully she doesn't to suffer from intense nightmares of a neon reptilian as I did.

But she does mention pregnancy quite a bit. When I speak of my love for her, she reminds me every once in awhile that she came from my belly.

I think this is something she is proud of as she is the only child in this family who can boast of such a beginning. 

Tonight she tells me (naturally, of course, after reminding me of her origin) that she wants to have more babies than me.

"Mom," she declares emphatically,  "I want more kids than you. I want 10. In my house, I want a sign on the door that says 'Bring Kids Here.'"

And what can I/should I say to this?

"If you want 10 kids Maddy, then you should have 10 kids."

Maybe this is the wrong answer.

I, of course, know all too well that childhood dreams don't always come true. I know that family planning is too often out of our control. And that there are so many more factors than she can imagine as to how many kids she'll end up with one day.

But the part I especially love about her dream? The part about hanging a sign up on her door that kids are welcome to live with her. 

I decide that I will encourage her in her dream. I hope beyond hope that my daughter is spared from suffering through loss or infertility. I hope she has all the kids she wants. I hope that she does not inherit whatever caused my HELLP syndrome or unexplained miscarriages. 

And even as I hope for her ... It has occurred to me that this infertility/pregnancy loss thing will not be over when my own family is complete.

It's going to affect me just as much in 2 decades from now, when she is ready to start having her own family. 

If she gets pregnant, I feel that I will also be walking around on pins and needles the whole time. If she struggles to get pregnant, I'll be able to relate that much more.

I guess until tonight, I assumed that my infertility and losses just affected me now. And that in so many years, I'll be "over" it. And maybe I will be for me. But when it comes down to my daughters ... I think all those feelings will be right there, tucked away.

Just in case.