40 Years In…My Purpose & Pain

There is so much I could say, in the blank space, with cursor blinking, waiting to be filled. I’ve sat here many times before today, staring, with thoughts racing, too much to begin.img_5872I was honestly surprised…and not…to see the tab at the top of this page stating in all caps that I have 87 Drafts. Eighty-Seven works in progress. How silly. Knowing that each time I release my truth from the inside out, it unlocks a new aspect of freedom that I didn’t know was there. And yet, if I think about it too long, I won’t hit “Publish” on this one either.

jcp-2016-croppedSo…For today, let’s dive in before I convince myself to “Draft” it.

In the weeks leading up to my 40th birthday, I’ve thought a lot, maybe too much, about the purpose and pain through my first 40 years on this earth. While I genuinely hope this helps someone reading, it is as much for my own benefit as for anyone else’s.

My journey has not been one of ease, though it has been better than many, and more privileged than most.

The List…jcp-2016-5869

  1. Trust can take years to build and moments to destroy.
  2. Happiness can be bought (temporarily) and then lost, while true joy is internal and untouchable by outside forces.
  3. Grace is one of the most priceless and underserved gifts. Though freely given, we must receive and embrace it before it can manifest in our lives.
  4. Intuition is absolutely real and divinely instilled.
  5. The ability to forgive is key to authentic beautyNothing will age you faster than resentment.
  6. A steller hairstylist is a must. Once you find said stylist, tip well.
  7. Anger rots your inner being before ever showing up at surface level.
  8. Fear only leads to greater fear.
  9. Prayer works.
  10. When searching for an answer, love almost always fills the gap.
  11. It’s about “who” not “what” you know. (This applies to everything.)
  12. Baby wipes are essential for life. They remove crayon from a painted surface, that unidentified sticky residue just beneath a child’s car seat that’s been there for God only knows how long, mascara, lip stain, mud on wedges…etc., etc.
  13. Smiling more will inevitably lift one’s own spirit while providing warmth to the stranger passing by.
  14. It’s true, you cannot out-exercise your fork.
  15. We never see our true-self clearer, nor exert our need for a Savior more, than during times of trial.
  16. Failure is not optional, it’s necessary.
  17. Lessons will either shape you or break you.
  18. People do not control your destiny.
  19. God is not mad at you.
  20. Sunscreen actually is important.
  21. If you have one true friend you can trust with your weirdness, you are richly blessed.
  22. There is a deep human longing in us all to be fully known and accepted anyway.
  23. Death is not the end. It’s the transition.
  24. Grief is unpredictable.
  25. No matter the color of our skin, just below that thin layer, we all look the same.
  26. Generosity is key to contentment.
  27. Everything (really is) going to be okay (eventually).
  28. We don’t have to share the same DNA to be family.
  29. Miracles still happen.
  30. Everything we say and do begin with a thought.
  31. Being an adult can be really hard.
  32. We can decide, at any given moment, to change direction.
  33. There is no excuse to be unkind (to anyone) (ever).
  34. Gratitude changes things.
  35. We remember moments.
  36. God created each one of us with great intention and purpose.
  37. The most sacred space of witness is during birth and death.
  38. If we could truly grasp our worth, nothing would have the ability to intimidate or have a stronghold in our lives.
  39. Don’t put earthly limits on a heavenly God.
  40. Time goes by so quickly.

1. We don’t have to be afraid.
2. Everyone is important to someone.
3. Labels were never meant for people.
4. Sex doesn’t have to be a dirty word.
5. Right and wrong is relative.

So there ya go. With hundreds more to be added at another time. As I live out this first year in my 4th decade of life, what would you add?



He Stirs

In the stillness of the early morning
He stirs my heart
Before the alarm, the sun, the controlled chaos
He awakens my senses

I will wait for Him to speak
I will wait for Him to move
I will wait for His guidance
It is in the waiting that I am acutely aware of His presence

I invite Him in to this day
Into my plans
Into the goings on that will not come as a surprise to Him
I ask that He make Himself known in a tangible way

Be still my soul
and listen
Bathe in His goodness
Has He not been faithful up to now
Remember all the times that He has shown up
Trust, Relinquish control, Abide

Breathe Him in like the air that He provides
Exhaling His truth to others like a gentle breeze
Allow His promises to be a soothing balm
Covering and healing that which is exposed

More of Him
Less of me
My Jesus

Prayer: It’s not what it used to be

DeadEndI make no secret of the fact that I go through seasons in the desert with my prayer life. There are times when all I can seem to utter is, “God, please help me.”

I am reading this book; “Still ~ Notes on a mid-faith crisis.” It has been difficult to put it down. So much of what the author, Lauren Winner writes, resonates with me.

The following is written word for word from her book.

“‘Without prayer,’ Catherine Doherty once wrote, ‘the life of the Christian dies.’ Her words scare me; I have edged closer to them than I like to admit. The problem is that your Christian life gets sick before it dies, and it is hard to keep praying when you are sick.

I can paint my walls with slogans about staying faithful to the spiritual disciplines, about formation and habits to carry you through, about how wonderful it is that we Episcopalians have this great incomparable liturgy that keeps us tethered to prayer when our own heart’s a-wandering, but the simple truth is when you don’t know what you believe and don’t know where you are or you think you’ve been deluded or abandoned or you’ve glutted yourself with busyness and you are hiding from yourself or the day has just been too long – if that is who and how you are, prayer sounds like a barefoot hike from Asheville to Paris: it would be nice if you got there, you are sure there is a nice glass of wine and a nice slice of brie waiting for you at some cafe somewhere, but there is really no way you can imagine actually making the walk.

In those instances it can be hard even to put your body in the posture of prayer…

Because it is easier to read about prayer than to pray, I have shelves of books: meditations on the Lord’s Prayer by a dozen different authors; scholarly accounts of prayer in the twelfth century, the eighteenth century; Hasidic wisdom on prayer; manuals for knitting a prayer rug, a prayer shawl, a prayer blanket, a prayer tree. (I don’t alas, know how to knit.) Sometimes I think that all this reading gets in the way, that the books become excuses, something to do in lieu of praying. Other days, I know that to read about prayer is at least to indulge my desire, to acknowledge that I want this thing, that I long for it…

…I can participate in prayer (or not), show up to pray (or not), but I am not the author of my prayers; when they come, they come from God.”

* Excerpts were taken from pages 67, 75 and 77.
To listen to the series on “Red-Letter Prayers,” click here

Five Minute Friday: Welcome

I’ve been awake since four and when I finally decided to get up the first thought that came to mind was, “It’s been nine years.” I snuck downstairs and opened my laptop to see what the FMF prompt would be and how it might relate to this anniversary. This is what I found.

I’m a big definitions girl. I like to see a word dissected into smaller words and explained in black and white. When reading the definition of welcome this part caught my eye; used to indicate that one is relieved to be relinquishing the control or possession of something to another. Today, if you ask me what I think of this word as it relates to my relationship with the #1 man in my life, this is what I would say…

Nine years ago today, the man of my dreams vowed to love me forever.
To support me in mind, body and spirit.
To walk with me down whatever path we were led.
To love my daughter as his own.
He welcomed me in a way that no one ever had.
He knew all most of the good, the bad and the ugly.
He saw something that even I could not see.
Maybe I didn’t see it then, but I have gladly relinquished control of my heart into his keeping.
Looking back, I am humbled and delighted at where God has brought us over the last 10 years.
We now have these incredible children. Two of which are boys.
I love seeing Chris with our boys! They try to fill his size 13 footprint, but they are still learning and growing, striving and reaching.
Chris welcomes the challenge of being an exemplary father to our sons.
It is not always easy, but he knows that their feet are quickly catching up to his and one day they will welcome a family of their own.
We welcome this time in our journey when we can watch our children explore and discover.
We welcome another anniversary signaling God’s presence in our lives throughout another year.

Five Minute Friday: Grasp

When seeing the prompt from Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Friday post, these verses from Ephesians 3 are the first thing that came to mind. Please know that when it comes to memorizing scripture, or anything for that matter, I am just about the worst there is. I have been praying this for my children and Chris as well as close friends for more than a year and there are times when I still have to look it up to get the exact wording right.

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I love these verses. The main word in the midst of the rest is grasp.

What better way to attempt describing the word and it’s meaning than with the beach? You have the water…as far as the eye can see. The sand…too many grains to count. The sky…bigger than life.

So when I tell my boys, “Look left and look right…look up and out as far as your eyes can see. Do you see an end?” They respond quickly with their answer, “No.” I take the opportunity to explain God’s love in the best and most simple way I can, “Right. It’s like the love of the Father for each of us. Never-ending.”

When I realize the validity of this illustration, it is too much, even for me to grasp and I stand, drenched in the grace that is now my reality because of it.

Go, go, gadget time machine

My friend Chinua Hawk posed a question on facebook this morning that has proven to be quite the conversation starter.

He asked, “If you had the ability to go back 20 years or so and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?”

What a poignant question! While typing the first thing that came to mind, it really got me thinking. 20 years ago I was 16. SO much happened between the years of 16-18 and then an entirely new level of life happened from 18-21. So what would I tell myself?

I was 16 when I met Chris. I was angry and confused by the current circumstances of my life. I had a warped perception of love, God, myself and the future. I would have told myself to wait. “Wait for this man who loves you. Even though you don’t fully understand what love is, one day it will be the very thing that helps you find your way back to God. This man will play a pivotal role in that.”

I talked about this very thing in the post A Letter to Myself. But it was more about what I would tell my Bella. This is a little different. In the past I have avoided looking back and asking, “What would I have done differently?” Maybe because there is just too much to sift through and I spent 6 months working step 4 of 12 in Alcoholics Anonymous wading through all of the garbage that was behind me in order to move forward. Truth be told, It must be a continual “cleaning out” of self. Mind, body and spirit. It’s not a one time deal. Chinua reminded me that I don’t have to regret everything when answering this question. I can respond in an open and honest way that will hopefully help someone else, maybe even my own children.

He also asked what one thing you would tell yourself if you could go back 10 years. I cannot believe I haven’t thought of this question sooner! October 19, by the grace of God, I will have lived 10 years without the use of alcohol or illegal substances to aid me in my efforts to avoid all feelings and circumstances. When I realize that an entire decade has passed for this girl who couldn’t go more than a couple of hours without a drink, I am both humbled and so incredibly grateful.

I am also reminded that this life is meant to be lived on a day-to-day basis, not 1 year, 5 years or 10 years into the future. When we try to live so far in the future, we ultimately fail…every time. So if I could tell my 10 year younger self one thing it would be, “Just keep breathing in and out. Today is filled with uncertainty and the unknown is scary, but everything will come together. There is beauty in this life that you cannot even begin to imagine right now, but you will. There are many tears, I know. Maybe you could look at them as a purging of sorts? A cleansing from emotions that have held you hostage for years. They no longer bind you. You are free. Soon you will look back on this day as the moment that you made the difficult and necessary choice to change your life for the better and begin living your purpose. The journey is long, but you can do it! And, you will never walk the road alone.

A little more about the man who inspired the post.

Chinua is an insanely talented artist. His voice is intoxicating. I have never heard its equal. The really cool thing is that he has a heart as big as his voice. He is a genuinely wonderful human being and his smile is contagious. When he is on stage, you cannot help but be captivated by his presence and inspired by his lyrics. You can learn more about him and hear a sample of his music by clicking here 

Want to know where he is on social media? You are only a click away…
His Facebook Page
Visit Him on Myspace
Watch Him On YouTube
Download His Music @ ITunes
Buy His CDs at CD Baby
Encore Artists (His management Company)

Watching the rain

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
~ Umberto Eco