Walk, Not Run (The Struggle of Being OK with Less)

4/3/18

I went on a walk today. I had a little time to myself and decided a good dose of Vitamin D was in order to make up for all the depressing, cold, rainy days we’ve had of late.

Walking is hard for me. Walking is an all out struggle. It goes against everything in me to be ok with walking. My natural preset is run. Push. Challenge. Perform. Improve. Learn. Grow. Learn some more. And then do it again. Do. Do. Do.

I’m self-aware enough to know this about myself and realize that sometimes our natural presets work against the very progress we seek, so as I shut the front door, I stepped out on the porch and said a little prayer, Lord, just help me be. And walk with me.

 This is a concept He’s been driving home with me ever since Leif passed away–that action is a comfort zone for me. Action keeps me focused on what’s ahead—always working towards the next ____________…living in anticipation and being underwhelmed with the present. If I can just get to the next spot in the road—the next highpoint—the next whatever…and yet…I can’t finish that sentence because I don’t know what I’m even running towards. I don’t know what happens “if” I get there…I just figure it’ll be better than what I’m dealing with right now. I’ll be better than who I am right now.

It’s interesting how an introspective person has a problem staying who they are…where they are. Has a problem just walking. It’s interesting how I keep coming to the Lord asking him to change me. To grow me. To help me evolve into who He created me to be and yet…never being truly satisfied with who that is. The best version of me is never who I am right now.

Herein lies my ephiphany: Breauna, if you’re just doing all the time—crossing things off a list, living by checkpoints, constantly challenging yourself to be better, faster, stronger, more this, more that, are you ever truly being?

And so we come back to the walking. Walking requires me to just be. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to get my mindset right. I don’t have to perform because walking doesn’t require anything of me. It’s mindless. And yet…my mind runs rampant as it clears. The gravel crunches under my feet, still mush from the rain. The wind rushes through the pines in a hollow. It sounds like a roaring creek and He knows it soothes me. A warm breeze softly caresses my face. Angel breath.  Just be. With Me.

I talked. I talked a lot. He knows my heart. He knows my motivations are pure. I listened. What better insight can one gain than from the One who made them? From the Father who knows what He wants each of His children to be? He created me this way. He created this driven, disciplined, high-energy woman, but the real challenge—the rewarding journey that leads to satisfaction—is not becoming more of that. It consists of learning how to temper it. Tempering my own intensity. It serves me and my personal growth, but it doesn’t necessarily serve others. And He desires that I—that we all–serve others. And in serving others, we have to learn how to walk. We come alongside…and we walk. We slow down. We be present. And we be open and aware to His promptings. Being “busy” with productivity and efficiency leave little space for impact. And impact is my heart’s greatest yearning.

It’s always interesting to me that even in the smallest of ways, God has to get me outside of my comfort zone to do exactly what I’m asking Him to do. On a measly, mindless walk with a long list of things I should be doing, the Almighty Runner—the Ultimate Doer– comes alongside me…and He walks. And He shows me—yet again—that’s it’s ok to be less sometimes. Because, for a personality like mine, that is where the growth is. That is the evolving. Evolving into less. Because less is more. Not for me, but for Him.

 

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Say Yes

I’ve been reflecting today a lot on the last 6 months—how we’ve loved and lost, how we’ve come up against obstacles, how fast change has been enacted in our lives, how doors have opened, how others have closed, how one chapter has ended while a new one is beginning, how prayers we’ve been praying for so long occur in a moment, a blink of an eye and we got what we asked for. A blink of an eye and we’re on a new path. A blink of an eye and suddenly we see so much clearer things we’ve never seen before. Or maybe we’ve seen them, but retreated in fear. No more.

A new path could be worrisome because we’re not really fans of unpredictability, but we embrace it because we trust the Trailguide. He promises adventure.

There’s a quote that says, “It doesn’t matter where you’re going. It’s who you have beside you.” True…A new path doesn’t seem daunting when you embrace it with the one you love. When the team is solid. United. And working toward a common goal together. But, I think it’s better said, “It doesn’t matter where you’re going when you know Who’s in front of you, Who’s beside you, and Who’s behind you. Just say yes.”

I praise You, God, for moving our mountain! I praise You for giving Leslee and I the grace and power to please You through Jesus! I praise You for giving us Your strength in our struggles so we’re more solid than ever in our love for each other and our faith in You! And I praise You for everything else You’re about to do even though I can’t see it. I simply say yes. Let it be, Lord. Let it be.28378910_10156444720881435_1641743548690420011_n

The Best Parts of January

At the end of 2017, I decided I was going to keep a detailed log of all the good things that happened in 2018 no matter how small they might be. A log, so to speak, of every gratitude point and blessing. I want to look back and possibly be able to connect some dots in hindsight of where and how He helped us make a comeback. So, this is kind of a numbered, light-hearted update on us.

1.Taegan realized that she liked broccoli. MAJOR breakthrough for my picky, picky eater. I was eating some with my breakfast and she came to my plate and looked at it curiously. I saw an opportunity and went for it. “When I was a kid,” I said, “I used to pretend I was a giant eating tiny trees.” She gave me a skeptical grin, but I could tell it piqued her interest. “You want to try it? It’s kinda fun!” She hesitantly said yes, but only if she could dip it in Ranch. (Ranch makes just about anything edible for Taegan). Next thing I know, I’ve got a little giant eating tiny trees.

2. Luxe had told me through all of 2017 that she was “neva, eva, going on da potty…neva.” I thought Taegan was strong-willed and bull-headed. Folks, let me introduce you to my daughter, Luxe. It’s a good thing she’s charming and adorable cuz good night, Irene…heavens to Betsy…and help me, Rhonda. This. Child. Well, one day Aunt Tanna mentioned to Luxe that if she went on the potty, she’d have a pizza party at Pizza Hut for her. If only all of us had known that’s all it would take! Pizza is Luxe’s love language. However, not only that, but now Luxe’s big sister and her older cousin, Kalyssa, have a very vested interest in making sure this potty training happens because they stand to gain, as well. It was pure genius really! Luxe potty trained in a week and everyone went out for pizza…the added bonus that Marty and Linda got to join us. (Good things on top of good things)

3. I’m kicking my tail in my workouts and it feels good even though I hurt. In my 20s, I worked out because I wanted to look just so. In my 30s, it’s less about that and more about breaking my own barriers. Having a challenge and overcoming it. Proving to myself that I can do hard things in spite of having neck/shoulder issues. Seeing what once was tough—maybe even impossible in my eyes—become easy. This principle has so many applications on so many levels. Mindset matters maybe more than anything. But, January was a rewarding month as far as health and fitness goals are concerned. So, I’m thankful for that and look forward to pushing myself even more.

4. Taegan branched out even more and decided olives could go on her ever expanding list of foods, as well.

5. Luxe started dance class in November. One of my favorite things about being a parent is figuring out the places a burgeoning talent lies in my children and helping them maximize those strengths. Luxe may only be 3, but she’s got some talent. She loses herself in her own little world when she’s dancing and she just creates…and what she creates is good! Dancing brings Luxe joy and it brings us joy to watch her. We’re uncertain if the child can sing. Jury’s still out on that one. But, we see potential in her creativity and desire with dance. So, I started taking her to dance classes. It didn’t go so well for a couple months. Basically, she was a thumb-sucking, frowny observer who never spoke and only shook or nodded her head with a grunt from time to time. If she did happen to be seen participating, she would stop as soon as her instructor told her what a great job she was doing. Just a real pleasure to be around, ya know? A delightful social butterfly, to be sure! I knew she liked it because she would come home and repeat every move and flourish to a T, but she wasn’t going to let her instructor see that…until the end of January when she had “her best day yet!” YAY! Dance, baby, dance…even if it is baby steps.

6. Taegan’s basketball skills and grit drastically improved over the summer! Basketball is Taegan’s jam. She absolutely loves it, but after last year, I worried that she might not have what it takes to be coachable. She had no desire to guard and flat out refused. (It’s that whole stubborn thing again…my girls have it in spades). She was timid with the ball. She melted into a hysterical puddle of tears when a male coach called her out on a mistake in the middle of a game last season and couldn’t pull herself together enough to be put back in. Yes, she was 6, but wowza, that was embarrassing and a little tough to handle for two competitive parents. She showed some real promise even then for athleticism, but I feared she didn’t have the emotional fortitude. (Taegan is an interesting, hard to explain mix of tough and sensitive.) She also didn’t seem to care too much about winning and when you’re playing sports, ya kiiiinda gotta have that desire to be any good. Well, I believe it was just a little too much for her at that particular time because this time around, we’re seeing a different Taegan on the court. She’s trying to get her teammates attention for passes. She’s shooting and scoring points. She’s dribbling up and down the court. She’s guarding and starting to understand that we can be friends off the court and still play to win. And, low and behold, they lost the other night and she went home miffed…stayed that way for the rest of the evening. I’ll admit being secretly pleased that it bothered her so much. That’s what I’m talking about, sister! Sometimes it takes getting angry and frustrated to grow and improve unless you let it discourage you to the point of quitting. And quitters never win. I asked her if she did her best that night. Her answer? “NO!” How refreshing! Thank you for your honesty! I think we may have found what we needed a year ago. It’s been a pleasure watching her find her stride and I look forward to seeing what else she’s got up her sleeve as she grows.

I have a lot to share about our new adventure because that was probably the biggest good thing (hopefully) in January, but we’re not quite ready for me to share that publicly yet. Stay tuned!

 

The Winds of Change

The winds of change swirl overhead. They move the clouds fast. Powerful. I feel it. His power. Our way of life crumbles around us as if dynamite blasts KA-BOOM. And yet…the fall out is blessing. This storm is not about destruction. It’s new road demolition. “I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?…” He says. (Isaiah 43:19)

Yes, Father! Yes, I see it. Help me see more. 

Leslee and I are in the middle of a huge life change at the moment. Recent events along with years of prayer and struggle have convicted us both to step out in faith. It is a 100% united step that involves selling our cows and saying goodbye to my husband’s dairy dream. It’s been tough for him to deal with even though he knows it’s the right move. In a way, dairy farming is a comfort zone for him (even though farming period is anything but safe). It’s hard for a farmer to look at everything he’s tried to do and build and not feel like a failure because no matter what, it just isn’t working. It requires too much. There are too many trade-offs he doesn’t want to trade. Too many fires to constantly put out that keep him from those things he deems essential: God, family, and a little fun from time to time.

However, I don’t look at this ending as a failure. At all. The dairy sustained our family for a season, but I think it was only the means to a journey. WE were the journey. I can’t express in words how much spiritual growth and progress has happened between the two of us since we had Taegan and embarked on a crazy road to a dairy farm in the middle of nowhere. That was the point. The kind of progress God wants. I don’t need much hindsight to see that. Sometimes the Lord needs to take us out to the wilderness to address the arid, dry places of our hearts…take us away from the system that distracts us from Him. I’m thankful for that because we were distracted. We simply didn’t realize it. The word “failure” doesn’t even enter my mind. Then again, maybe failure and progress go hand in hand more than we think.

I believe God is honoring our willingness to do this afraid. His tightly-wound, risk- managing, cautious son and daughter are open. They might be crazy throwing caution to the wind, but we feel like God is doing a proud, slow clap of approval. Nodding with a big grin–just like I would when one of my children finally “got it.” Obstacles have been removed. Opportunities have arisen. Good things have literally landed right in our laps. And we’re believing that He’ll take care of the things that still need taken care of (finding a buyer for our cows being our next hurdle). Do I know we’ll encounter road blocks? Sure. But, things fall into place with no drama when the Lord is making way and that’s how things have been of late.

All in all, the quote that convicted Leslee that this decision weighing heavy was the right one was this: “You’re not a failure when you can’t make things work. You’re only a failure when you stay in and continue to do what doesn’t work.” (The irony being that he read the quote in a dairy magazine. Coincidence? I think not. God is resourceful when it comes to confirmation of what He’s putting on your heart).

So, my resourceful, intelligent, hard-working husband has come to the end of himself and his resources without putting our family in dire straits we can’t dig out of. I’m thankful for that. And we look up for new direction, while keeping our heads down, focused,  both of us believing for a better season ahead.

He’s doing a new thing. The older I get, the more I feel like I’m just along for the ride. But, that’s ok, Lord. Take us where you want us to go. 

“…I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

Oh, how we long to see it.

 

Growth and Gratitude in the Worst Year of My Life

1/1/2018

A new year. I enter it markedly different. I suppose we all do, but after a year like 2017, I feel like I’ve been carved into a very different person. The worst year of your life will do that to you. It hadn’t just been awful since the end of August. No…January began and train wreck after train wreck. Storm after storm. (In April, literally.) Challenge after challenge. There were so many prayers answered “yes.” One big one answered “no.” And so many still up in the air. It occurs to me to be thankful that I have so many things to pray for and about. The ones that He quickly answers give me hope for the ones He’s silent on. The answered ones keep me going when He says no. And even His big no was only a “Not right now…” A painful, deferred yes that I both ache for and anticipate with great joy.

I spent a LOT of time on my knees in 2017 praying for change—and the thing that changed the most was me. God worked some miracles for me and He also brought me to the end of myself so many times I can’t even count. Every strength wasn’t strong enough. Every weakness seemed to be laid bare. Every place in which I relied on myself—even unconsciously—was no longer reliable. Distractions no longer distracted. My efforts to plant dreams or make plans were completely uprooted to the point where I felt paralyzed to even dream or make plans. There was literally nothing I could control.

And I think that was the point. I AM is God of your life, Breauna, not you. I heard that loud and clear.

So, I spent a lot of time also asking God, “What do you want from me? What am I not seeing here? I’m begging you for blessing, Father, and I trust you, so I know there’s a reason You’re not honoring my requests. What do you want from me?” Not in a frustrated way…in a willing one.

“You. I want you,” is what I started to understand. “I want you to seek Me because you just want to be where I am. I want you to seek me simply to draw close. To understand and know Me. You remember how you were when you were a child? In some ways, you need to go back. Let go of control. Let go of thinking you are in any way in charge of your life. Let go of expectation. Let go of your own ideas of what you think a blessed life is and be present in the blessed life I’ve placed you in. I want your gratitude.”

“But you have it, Lord! I am grateful!”

Not when I bless you and then you’re on to your next request. Achieve one, move to the next. Open your eyes, daughter. I AM everywhere. I want you to see My favor in your life in spite of the challenges, storms, and disappointments. An easy, comfortable life does not equal a blessed one. An easy, comfortable life does not mean you have My favor. When you were a child, it was just you and Me. You had dreams, but no expectations. No comparisons. No notions of what a “happy” life was supposed to be like. You just lived. My pleasure in you and love for you was not based on my action. It was simply based on your belief that I AM what I say I AM.

Trust Me.”

As water poured out of my eyes in my closet, living water was carving riverbeds in my soul. 2017 was an exponential growth year. I grew…because I shrunk. The paradox of moving forward on my journey was all in the setbacks. I needed to revert to mature. I needed to decrease so He could increase. It’s ironic to me that my whole mantra since moving to a little dairy out in the middle of nowhere was “Bloom where you are planted.” I now see God’s motive was “Make a whole new flower.” Your struggles, challenges, setbacks, etc. are not the pain of the executioner’s whip, my daughter. My no’s and my silence are not punishment. Nor are they you somehow missing the road signs or messing up My plans. You, dearheart, are not that powerful. You’re simply impatient. In the meantime, I’m  using my scalpel to fix a few things. I’ve got Your life in my hands. You’ve seen Me in action on your behalf enough to know that. Trust me with it.

I do, Father. I am trusting You. And thank You.

It took me 11 months to stop praying for the things I wanted and start simply asking God to bless me with the things He wanted me to have. To open my eyes to those things when they came. To open my eyes to Him everywhere. To feel Him. To see Him. To experience Him. To be completely fulfilled in all things Him. I sat down with my Bible simply to read—with full faith that if He wanted to me to know something specific, I would end up there at the perfect time. And I told Him I would try my best not to bring my own requests for material or physical blessing, but simply humbly accept what He saw fit to give and cherish with gratitude everything I had. Not because it’s wrong to ask for those things, but because I wanted to put my trust into action. It’s been tough! I’ve had to overhaul some habits and do some major mindset work—or maybe I can’t even take credit for that as my own strength. All good that I do is Him.

Last month, a friend gave me an idea that I prayed about weeks. A word. I simply wanted a word. Something to hang onto as I entered 2018. I prayed for it. Waiting. Watching. A day or two later—the word “prepare” was jumping off book pages. It was everywhere I looked. It was a broken record in my head. I looked up. Is that you, Lord? Is that Your word? I timidly asked because it had a positive feeling with it, a hopeful connotation, and I’ll admit to being afraid I was intercepting it wrong. Afraid of getting my hopes up.  Things expectations are made of. And yet, this word would not leave me alone. Prepare.

Weeks went by. I kept my eye out for a different word. A different message. I’ll admit I’m still doing it. I just don’t want to get it wrong. And yet, this pesky prepare is still here.

Prepare…prepare for what?

I’m not sure…the only thing I can be sure of is that change is always certain.

Prepare for change? Is that it? At this point, I feel like I’m prepared for anything. Having no expectations will do that to a person. Anything can happen. I simply have to roll with it, which completely goes against pride and my own self-accomplishment.

There’s a sense, for me, that prepare was an apt word for 2017. Brace yourself, Breauna. This is going to be a long, dark, bumpy ride. Major growing pains around the next bin.

And yet, here we are in 2018, with this positive, hopeful “prepare.” What was He preparing me for in 2017? And not just me…but Leslee, as well? I’m reminded of Jacob after wrestling with God. Leslee and I can relate to walking with a limp. We come limping into 2018, but with newfound strength, as well. And  humble, grateful hands wide open for whatever the Lord wants to give.

And the word is… “prepare.”