December 31, 2015 Throwback Thursday… Ch Ch Changes – My Plans for 2015

Note: This was my workplace newsletter contribution that ran for January 2015. It is an uplifting glimpse into my hopes for the year that lay before me and worth reflecting on today.

snowshoe“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Last year, in our debut issue of the Coco Connection I introduced you to my “Why Not” approach to life and how this approach led to some pretty dramatic changes in my life. Changes that ran the gamut from getting more involved in my church, taking my running to the races, to a complete life change by jumping on a new job, pulling up stakes, and moving to Whitefish. (You can read that article by clicking on this link)

As I shared then, my “Why Not” approach took the place of my list of New Year’s Resolutions.  I realized that the only thing that was holding me back from living life to the fullest was my approach to life in general. I was raised to be logical and pragmatic in my decisions and I approached life with caution. When faced with change or an opportunity, my modus operandi always started with the question “What If?” Unfortunately, the “what if” was always followed by all the negative outcomes that might befall me if I changed or jumped at an opportunity. The result was stifling. So, rather than making a few resolutions to jump-start my life, I changed my approach to life as a whole. Of course, changing my approach to life required, you guessed it – more change. However, I took some deep breaths and instead of following my “What if” with all the reasons I liked staying in my comfort zone of safety, I challenged my “What if?” with a “Why Not?”

I continued my “Why Not” approach throughout 2014, jumping at chances to become more involved in my new community, accepting challenges I never dreamed I could accomplish, taking life by the horns and literally saying “Why Not” to every opportunity that came my way. The results were wonderful! I have never been as involved and connected to a new community as quickly as I am now. I focused seriously on hobbies I always pushed aside as not worth pursuing (photography, taking writing classes) and worked at perfecting my craft. I joined Toastmasters (a great organization by the way!) after years of thinking about it.  I joined three choirs and sang to my heart’s content. I volunteered with the symphony and theater company. I joined two hiking groups and found myself in the mountains nearly every weekend tis summer and fall. I spent lots of time in the presence of others, maintaining relationships, and nurturing new ones. It was, in every respect a year filled with all opportunity and experiences I could ever ask for, and more!

So why, as I surveyed the year that was, did I feel like something big was still missing in my life? I like to ponder so I spent many wintry walks pondering this feeling until I could define it. I realized that all my “Why Nots” had certainly filled my life with opportunities, but also created a definite imbalance in areas of my life that in all honesty, still needed work. Boy, it is hard to admit that! After all, my life is as full and happy as I can remember… but all that activity and jubilant busy-ness are exterior trappings, my “public face” so to speak. Instead of realizing any concrete accomplishments at the end of the year, I felt internally scattered and completely unfocused.

Thank goodness I have a compass I can use to reorient my Why Not’s for 2015. The Coco Enterprises SPRIF model for living is something I have internalized as a Coco Enterprises employee from day one but I have let those tenets get buried under the busyness of life. All five tenets (Spiritual, Physical, Relational, Intellectual, and Financial) are certainly present in my life but some (Relational and Spiritual) have clearly dominated my priorities at the expense of the other three.  Moreover, even the two tenets that were priorities in my life were, in retrospect, not focused in the right direction.

While I fed my spirit with my personal relationship with God and nurtured my soul with weekly mountain wanderings, I did not extend my quest for spiritual health to the tending to the needs of others. In other words, my Spiritual focus has been rather one-sided and selfish. I have not been God’s hands in the world as I am called to be. I will work on this in 2015 by finding ways to give my time and talents to the benefit of others.

In the area of my physical health, I am out of balance in exertion and I do not get the rest and refueling I need to be as active as I want to be. I play hard and tend to believe that I can rest when I am dead. This leads to days when my mind is scattered and I cannot focus on the task at hand or mornings when not even the sound of two alarms can raise me from my slumber. I will work towards finding a positive healthy balance between work, play, exercise, nutrition, and rest in 2015. I will learn to listen to my body’s signals of distress and heed them.

In the area of Relationships, I need to remember my relationship with myself and respect it. I need to spend as much time maintaining my personal connection and not lose sight of my own goals and objectives as I do focused on making new connections and maintaining the relationships I hold dear.

I have let my Intellectual Pursuits fall to the wayside… I let the tenets of relationship, spiritual, and financial health overwhelm my time. Sure Toastmasters is a skill-developing activity that I can proudly say I have focused on in 2014, but I let other pursuits dominate time I used to spend engrossed in a book. For 2015, I am going to allot at least 2 hours per week to time spent in a book, simple as that. Not surfing my Facebook news feed, or using the newspaper as my excuse for reading material. No, I am going to get back to my love of reading and curl up with a good book!

Financially, I have always been conservative and lived within my means, saving when I could. Yes, this has allowed me to maintain the status quo in terms of day-to-day living but it has done nothing to advance my prosperity. I carry no debt so my focus for 2015 is going to be building my nest egg and acquiring a level of financial security that allows me to see past this year and actually have a plan for moving up, maybe into the next tax bracket!

Do any of these focus points resonate with you? Perhaps, seeing one of my thoughts on paper will help you formulate the positive steps you would like to take in your journey through life in 2015.  I can certainly make a Why Not statement out of all of them without any hesitation. Let’s take them on together! I would love to cheer you on along the way, and would welcome your feedback. Feel free to connect and join me.

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A Light in the Darkness – Christmas Eve 2015

Christmas eve 2015

“Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” ~1 Chronicles 29:11

 

Christmas Eve 2015. I sit by my window watching the snow continue to fall, as it has for days and days. Its pristine beauty and sound softening aesthetics belie the frustration it brings to my spirit. Winter laid claim to my plans for a Christmas trip home to be with my family for the first time in three years. This year more than any, I needed to embrace the warmth, understanding, and love of family. To be with my mother and father who have had a difficult time this year and a brother and sister in-law whom I have not seen enough of in 2.5 years.

For sure, this would not be a traditional Christmas for my family had I made it home. My mother, seriously ill and hospitalized in a state of confusion and despair would be our point of gathering – not around a brightly lit Christmas tree with presents galore.

For sure, my heart will not be as full of joy as in recent years, as a wonderful chapter of my life has changed course and I find myself once again, walking alone pondering my future with a tattered heart.

Around me marriages are crumbling, trusts have been broken, a child sits in jail, suicide has claimed a family’s idea of forever and always, and others treasure every moment of what may be a last Christmas with loved ones. The world around me feels distraught if not chaotic- plunged into a darkness where even acts of charity are questioned for their ultimate goals, while hunger, strife, terror, desolation, and frustration tear at our nation’s unique fabric- once held together by common beliefs and goals – now splintered across a dark abyss.

We are broken and yet, in this darkness we try to make do, engaging in the wonderful merriment of holiday festivities while others shop to the point of exhaustion, physically and budgetary. We try to make our lives more perfect for this special time of year until our perfect plans and family gatherings go awry and our high expectations for the holidays go unmet.

Tonight brings to a culmination all of our humanly efforts to be perfect hosts and perfect people in pursuit of joy – our efforts to cast away the darkness in the world. We are not ready, some will say! Some will find themselves alone, longing for home. Others will wish they were alone, longing for peace. 

And yet tonight, despite all our brokenness, turmoil, and testiness, despite our deemed lack of preparedness, despite this present darkness we are trying to cast away CHRIST, OUR SAVIOR COMES! BECAUSE of  our brokenness, turmoil, and testiness, because of our deemed lack of preparedness, because of this present darkness we are trying to cast away, tonight CHRIST, OUR SAVIOR COMES!

Christ comes to give us LIGHT! He brings light to the one who is alone longing for home and light to the one who wishes to be alone, longing for peace. What an amazing gift! What wondrous love!

Truly the the most awe inspiring gift from God is our redemption and freedom in Christ to live lives worthy of His sacrifice for us. As I relish in this truth,  I feel so blessed to be alive, my heart beating, breathing in His creation, and shining His grace into the world. Immanuel, God is with us and IN us!

Tonight as we celebrate Christ our Savior’s birth, I will be celebrating the new life each of us has each day in Him. As I sat in church, listening to the Christmas Story, hearing the sermon, I realized I was sitting with people just like me. Each of us broken and each of us a masterpiece, made in His image and given newness in Christ, Our Savior’s LIGHT. Let His light shine that beautiful reality on you. Let His light shine through you – through your outreach, your talents, your witness to the world, your love.

In my present darkness, my Lord and Savior shined His light on the people that have crossed my path and made a difference in my life and at once I felt at peace, felt heart aching joy, and I no longer felt alone!  I thank God for each of you, for in some way, God is working through you to impact my life and I pray that in some way through me I have been a light in yours. I pray that you find His peace and glory tonight, that you feel His presence in your heart, that His power guides you through your journey, and that His Love  and Light will shine brightly on you.
May this Christmas Eve have a special significance for all of us— broken people in need of a Savior, who comes to us tonight just as we are….
Let your light so shine, as His light shines in the darkness.
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!

The Sixteenth Day of Advent

Courtesy: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” ~Matthew 25:40

I have never considered myself to be one of “the least” and yet, in a time of great turmoil I was nourished with food and love, in a time of great wandering my thirst for hope was quenched, and now, as I make my way through a new wilderness, I have felt the love of God in the warm welcome of new friends who have reached out to me as beacons of light in this solitary journey. Not just once, but several wonderful tear-welling, throat-aching, breath-halting times of late, someone has walked along side me, whether they knew it or not – and lifted me from very unfamiliar depths.

Frankly, it feels a bit odd to be on the receiving end of such signs of His gracious love. I have always fancied myself as the “Welcome-wagon-Erika-go-lightly-with-a-smile-on- her-face-and-a-skip-in-her-step” shining as or trying to be, a beacon of light for others. I never thought to look for a beacon of light in someone else.

Tonight, I sit here in the light of my tiny Christmas Sprig, glowing garland, and warm candlelight, contemplating in wonderment, how, if we open our hearts, let ourselves be vulnerable, take some risks and let others in –  Christ our Savior does amazing things.

As if on cue with my blessed realization, the jubilant strains of Vivaldi’s “Winter Concerto” sing out from my computer keyboard as my fingers dance and record my thoughts on the same. Yes, I did say dance. My heart is at once lighter and my thoughts brighter.

I am learning a valuable lesson this Advent season of preparation and patient wondering. Truly, I tell you, the Holy Spirit walks with us on this earth. I have experienced His power through the hands and hearts of others.

Thank you to the angels among us, who see the broken and reach out to them, who feed the hungry and poor of spirit with the bread of life, who quench the thirst of the lonely with compassion and friendship, and shine His light into the hearts of others. You are righteous in the eyes of God and beloved by those you have blessed.

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Let your light so shine, just as His light shines in the darkness.

The Twelfth and Thirteenth Days of Advent

Courtesy: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Courtesy: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The past two days I have felt anything BUT peaceful and as my luck would have it, PEACE would be what God intended for me to reflect and write on. I struggled to find the words to express a meaningful sense of  Peace, of Love, of Strength – the three essences of life prayed for in the blessing for Day 12. They seemed intangible to me. Rather, I am consumed by feelings of unrest, of separation, and uncertainty. Perhaps it is due to my seemingly non-stop busyness of late. I have not been able to escape to the mountains to refresh my senses and get away from the noise of life. But I sense it is more than that.

The world seems more broken than normal (what a sad state of affairs!) – humanity is at odds with humanity. The glimmers of hope, charity, and love  I see extended to our fellow man is quickly dimmed by the realities of fear, greed, and superiority. Finding peace in this world? Not an easy notion unless you seek the aesthetic peace of mountain sanctuaries. And shoot, we can’t even agree as a state, country or world on how best to preserve the one tangible place of peace we have – our natural environment!   If ever there was a time, at least based on my meager existence and experience, that we needed a Messiah, it is now.

Despite the implicit traditions, merriment, and festive nature of the weeks leading up to the celebration day of Christmas on December 25, this holy season of Advent is a time of longing, of waiting, wondering, and preparing. He is allowing me time to prepare. Time to wrestle with with the intangible so that I might come to know again the depth of his peace – a peace “not of this world”, not even in the mountains.

Our greatest gift is coming. It is time to prepare our hearts for the mighty Prince of Peace.  In the meantime, I can be assured of His grace washing over me — in my less than peaceful times.

Let your light so shine, even the darkness… for Peace is coming.

The Eleventh Day of Advent

Courtesy: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Courtesy: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Bible is the revelation of God’s love. To love one another is the greatest commandment given to us and yet in our fallen world it seems we cannot. As human beings we seek to find love and give love but we want to choose who we love and we want to tell others how they can love. God calls us to love everyone as he loved us, including those who hate us and those who are different from us.

We strive for perfection – in order to be loved, to know love, and to give love. And we will fail, because there is only one perfect love,  God. God is love and only God loves perfectly. He does not measure if we are worthy, there is nothing we can do to merit His love aside from loving others. Once we have received God’s love he expects us to love.”Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” ( 1 John 4:8 ).

Let you light so shine as His Light shines in the darkness revealing his perfect love.

The Tenth Day of Advent

Courtesy: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

I tend to wander off the beaten neighborhood path on my runs or evening walks-  venturing out east of town where the night sky opens up. Here I feel like I am back on the familiar Eastern MT plains but with the shadow of the mountains I love beckoning me instead of an endless horizon.  Here I can breath again, away from the drone of traffic except for the occasional rushing of a train passing a short distance away. Yes it is dark, but I also feel free – free from the confines of buildings and life. Alive.

One can’t help to feel a bit vulnerable and alone in the countryside especially in the dark, but then I feel that way in life at times, despite my strength, independent streak, and general joie de vivre.  And so it was one recent dark night, that I felt an odd kinship with a single pine tree that stood alone in a blaze of light… okay she merely twinkled… but to my eyes she was a glorious light in the darkness, standing tall and beaming brightly – alone.  In that moment, my stride lightened, as if my heart was literally being lifted out of a temporary but very real solitary funk.

I wish I knew who to thank for dressing that singular sensation in white – a few birds trimming their shelter perhaps?  Their gift of light in the darkness reminded me that although I feel very alone at times that doesn’t mean I can’t shine, perhaps even brightly. God did not place me or you on this earth to be a dim bulb.

Let your light so shine as His light shines in the darkness.

The Ninth Day of Advent

Courtesy: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

We live in a time of great division, of competing interests, and divergent views on everything from the direction our country must take in her leadership to whether our health care should be mandated or a personal choice. The nations of the world are at odds over religion, climate change, economic ideals, boundary lines, and battle readiness. Threats to our national security and the best way to defend our freedoms pit gun control and  2nd Amendment proponents against each other. Disagreements over property rights and taxation divide neighbors. Even the protection of the very land we walk on is fair game for heated rhetoric.

All this fighting creates an immutable noise that wears on our spirits. Add to this cacophony of discord strife within our most intimate relationships and one might just want to run for the hills, or join a choir.

Singing in a choir is the perfect antidote for spiritual discordance.  No matter how diverse in belief,  political persuasion, or ethnicity the people are, each distinct voice is blended into harmony – sometimes perfect harmony – sometimes a little off key- but together they come as ONE voice to make a melodious sound. A sound so encompassing it drowns out the dissonance of the world around us.

God gave a very diverse world a very beautiful and powerful gift in music. When we sing with one voice  we create a community  of melody – a choir of harmony and maybe, just maybe, a hint of what peace can be.

Let your light so shine, as His light shines in the darkness.

 

 

Great Expectations of Joy -The Eighth Day of Advent

Erika Stereo (002)

 

I love Christmas, have from my earliest memory. I readily admit to getting wrapped up (pun intended) in the spirit of the season, merry-making galore.Erika Christmas 1

Before moving to the Flathead, during the months of November and December I would spend days adorning my parent’s house with lights, so much so that when I flipped the switch the rest of the neighborhood dimmed.382117_512993682058568_1687365558_n

From there I moved indoors adding more lights to the pre-lit Christmas tree and dressing our mantels and banisters and doorways with pre-lit garlands. I truly believe we are God’s light in this world and this was my most visible way to shine that message brightly.

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Always alive in me was the real reason for the season, the coming celebration of the birth of my Lord and Savior. My parents made sure that Christ was in CHRISTmas long before that became a popular seasonal saying. The merriment of the season however just reinforced the goodness that was to come. As a child, Santa always had a special place in our family – and he still does. I will never forget the time Santa (supposedly, a co-worker of my Dad’s) stopped by our house when I was about four. Somehow he knew about the temper tantrum I had thrown over not picking up my building blocks. From that night on I made certain my room was always clean (still do!)

Erika Santa 2

My family has a strong Scandinavian heritage and I learned at a very young age the art and technique of making lefse and krumkake, traditional holiday food offerings found in any Norwegian home. I was rolling perfect rounds of lefse by the time I was five and have been eating it with delight ever since – a fact of which my grandmother would be immensely proud.

Our home was always filled with music,piano, guitar, and good old fashioned records! I started Christmas caroling and singing in choirs in my teenage years -I loved bringing the message of good news in song to the hearts of people I would never otherwise know. Never much of a party thrower or goer, my Christmas goodwill was focused on spreading cheer to those far and near, through gifts, acts, words, and music.

Erika Barn

I can remember being ever so excited when the Sears and Roebuck’s Christmas catalog arrived in the mail.As youngster living in the high and wild town of Rock Springs , WY the nearest department store of any magnitude was in Salt Lake City – a good days drive away. Catalogs were king!  I would spend hours dreaming over Lego playsets, race car tracks (I was a bit of a tom-boy),  the Fisher Price  barn that mooed when the doors opened, the house, and the city parking garage with car elevator which when added to my barn set up made no sense then or now but was sure cool! The latest board games like Candy Land and Life (I never did get Connect Four or Battleship) and the first electronic games –  Lite Brite, Merlin, the Simon Memory game, and who can forget Superfection, all came to life in the catalog! I rarely received most of what I asked Santa for, and when I did get something like those games, their impact would have to suffice for two or three Christmases. While I delight in a bit of nostalgia as I look at these games from 30 plus years ago, these relics of my childhood Christmas wish lists are not what I remember most fondly.

Picture2In truth, what I savor most are memories of sitting in the quiet by the fire with just the Christmas tree lights on after Christmas Eve services; the Life Saver Sweet Story book that Santa placed in my stocking every year along with an apple, an orange, and a note telling me what a good girl I had been and how proud he was of my hard work in school; the old fashioned cinnamon striped ribbon candy and Brach’s Royal  candies that sparkled in the candy dish; lighting the angel chime canErika Stereo (002)dles before every dinner; and my delight in putting out the Nativity scene on top of the console stereo while singing along with Arthur Fiedler’s Boston Pops Christmas records.

I remember sitting  at the kitchen counter on the gold upholstered barstool coloring in my Santa and Friends coloring book or cutting snowflakes while Christmas carols were sung by Lawrence Welk as Mom cooked dinner. I remember sitting by the fire cracking mixed nuts with Dad. I have a treasured collection of Snoopy Christmas ornaments for every year of my life since they started making them. It is an entertaining walk down memory lane as I hang the 40 some ornaments on the tree each year. I remember every red or green or red and green velvet Christmas dress and the ordeal my Mom went through in sewing or later buying them for me. I knew I was grown up when I finally got to wear black velvet on Christmas Eve and I still feel that way to this day!

My dogs  were always a source of Christmas calamity and hilarity – from eating the pre-lit Christmas tree to getting more gifts from my co-workers one year than I did!

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Looking back, I long for what now seems like such a simple but wonderful way of celebrating the holidays. I long for my childhood wonder and acceptance of the way we did things, because that is how we did things. I don’t recall my parents being as stressed out around the holidays as we allow ourselves to become today.

These days we have become a very expectant society when it comes to celebrating the holiday’s. Social media posts of families gathering to beam at the camera remind us that this is a happy time of year; of dressed up snowmen in front yards reminding us of how old we have gotten; of sumptuous recipe after recipe appearing in our friend’s Pinterest lineups making our Pillsbury sugar cookies, green bean casserole, and sage stuffing look positively blah; of group shopping parties and kitchens a bustle with cookie baking fests.

Advertisements tell us we are going to “Win the holiday” by patronizing such and such retailer; “You got this!” they exclaim as a family stands back and admires perfection personified in Christmas lights. Who doesn’t want to “win the holiday” but in reality, who can?  For the longest time, I tried but I always ended up feeling defeated and depleted.

All these images of happy traditions have a way of coloring our own expectations of happiness around the holidays. It is indeed a wonderful time of year in which we focus on making and spreading joy, a time I cherish and look forward to. But I have also experienced the emptiness inside after too much money is spent, all the presents are given, and life just goes on the next day. I have felt my heart break when my high expectations of the perfect family gathering go up in the smoke of a blazing argument or are dampened by the stress of over-extending and over-committing my life to every activity that comes my way. I have felt the cold sting of loneliness at a time when love sparkles in the lives of all those around me. I have felt the let down when my own celebrations don’t measure up to the grand gatherings of friends and acquaintances.

These are the dual realities of the holidays that approach. A time when both joy and sadness, quiet and commotion compete for a presence in our lives. My own experiences with both the light and dark aspects of the holidays have heightened my emotional sensitivities and my empathy for others who struggle at his time of year.

Perhaps that is the truth God wanted me to see after all the years I spent wrapped up in the busy-ness of the season. The true joys of the season are not found under trees or in shopping carts or even along glowing roof-lines. In this joy-filled yet broken world filled with traditions and terror, caring and competition, winning and whining, the joy we seek can only be found in our hearts and the hearts of others. When we share God’s light and love with those of every walk we encounter, be it the hungry at the shelter or the stressed out Mom in line behind us, that is where we find joy. When you hold the door to the post office open for a package laden distressed style maven and they sputter their surprised gratefulness, that is joy. When your landlord offers to pay half your heat bill out of the blue for the months of December and January, that is joy multiplied.  By releasing ourselves from celebration expectations we can find joy in actively and expectantly waiting for the One who is coming whose true light will shine in the darkness and bring peace to our hearts.

Let your light so shine just as His light shines in the darkness.

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Courtesy: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

 

The Seventh Day of Advent

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Courtesy: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

There are times when I know I have met God. I have found him beside me on a mountaintop, rejoicing with His spirit at one with mine. Other times I have seen him in the actions of another, God at work in the world. He has lain beside me deep into the night and wiped tears from eyes as I fell asleep, God being near as I prayed.

A father with such magnitude and might … one would think we would see Him crowned in the glory we sing of and we would surely be dressed in our Sunday best if not better. I am sure he was there when my parents presented me for baptism in my white baptismal gown – that was likely the only time I met Him when I was worthy of meeting Him. But in His almighty grace, God prefers to meet us where we are at. He seeks us out in our roughest moments and He joins us in delight when we make it to the summit. We don’t have to be anything more than we are for God to open His arms to us. How should we greet Him? Just as we are – with our hearts open to his love.

Let your light so shine  – just as His light shines in the darkness.

The Sixth Day of Advent

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Courtesy : Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

So much peace of mind has come my way while reflecting on these words. I remember the summer I moved to Whitefish I spent weeks searching my soul and trying to divine my future, seeking out God’s will and trying to do what I thought best when it came to turning my settled life on the Eastern Montana plains upside down and heading west to climb mountains and live in paradise. I endured numerous sleepless nights filled with prayer, took countless contemplative walks trying to discern the right course to follow, and queried those I trusted for objective reason in the direction I was taking my life. Finally feeling strong and sure enough in what I was doing I took the leap that had at the time seemed so right, so bold, and so full of faith.

I accepted a job offer and stepped out of the safety nest I had known  for my entire adult life and…..  then I found the bottom of my boldness. I felt like I was choking and my world was spinning out of control. Somehow the decision I made was causing everything in my life to cloud over and I could not understand why. And then the road blocks came. 

The path I had been following in faith suddenly dealt me twists and turns I wasn’t ready for. Instead of feeling excitement for the adventure that lay ahead I felt exhaustion, even dread at what would come next. I was consumed with confusion over the conflicting feelings I was experiencing. Why was this happening? Why was I feeling so anxious and uncertain and why couldn’t I find solace anywhere? It seemed I would be damned if I stayed the course and even more damned if I didn’t. I couldn’t find a place to live. The finances that seemed so clear before weren’t penciling out. I started doubting the strength of the relationship I was moving to grow and my own personal strength.

And then, much faster than it took for the door to my new life to open before me, it slammed shut. Meanwhile, the wonderful happy life I had come to know and take for granted  now seemed to collapse in and smother me.

The utter despair that comes when you think you have life all lined up only to have those nicely laid plans blown away  left me coasting without direction and feeling powerless. I felt I had not only let myself down but those who supported me and cheered me on. I despaired that by somehow not trusting blindly in my faith that everything would turn out alright I had failed in fear. I let fear take away the opportunity to soar as God intended me to. I had disappointed not only my friends and family but God, for not stepping out in faith and taking a risk because of something inside that was telling me to stop what I was doing and stay in place.

It was a feeling I had never felt before. Not only lost but hopeless. I felt trapped by something I did not understand because I could not hear what my mind and my heart were telling me over the din of what I thought I should be doing in my desire to live boldly.

I was lost in this hopeless state of mind until I realized that a state of harmony was revealing itself to my head and heart. Indeed it was a sense of certainty very much unlike the incongruous state I was in as I endeavored to divine my future. I realized that the pain and sadness I initially felt over MY plans not coming to fruition were turning into peace.

“And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

 I accepted that the difficult road I was on was the one God wanted me to take in order that I would have a deeper understanding of who I am and what I needed on this journey of life. Most importantly, I knew that without Him I was nothing and with Him I could do anything that was His will.

2 months later, I ended up following through on my grand adventure. The road blocks that were in my way initially had some construction work done on them and ceased to be a problem. The job offer was extended to me again, a higher salary was negotiated, and I found a wonderful place to live!

I stepped out boldly in faith and haven’t stopped climbing mountains since. I am no longer afraid. I have peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”