Tag Archives: growth

But Mostly, for Help.

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Tonight i journaled for the first time in what feels like months. And it was with a rawness that has been avoided for even longer. I processed a hard conversation I had tonight and got embarrassingly ugly on the pages of my new, pretty, gold and white hard-covered journal.

My immediate thought after journalling tonight was regarding my Ugly. I wish we could decide on the degree of Ugly we wrestle with. I’m not talking about the Ugly we all love to hate and occasionally brag about; the crooked smile, being a clean-freak, being too loyal of a friend, etc.

Crooked smiles and cleaning habits are pretend uglies that we use to try to disguise our deeper issues. Either that, or they’re our lame attempts at small talk. There is Ugly in us that we don’t even want to admit in our own quiet thoughts. Jealousy, anger, incredible impatience, insecurities, comparison, a lack of care for the needy, etc. These are the Uglies that keep us up at night. Maybe I’m only one of a few, so I’ll speak for myself.

Tonight I let some of my Ugly come out as I processed this hard conversation. I’ve always feared admitting such deep Ugly, even inside a private journal because somehow I felt giving it shape would also give it breath to come alive and start taking over my every thought and word and sooner or later it would be some self-fulfilling prophesy that I unleashed. So, I’ve usually only penned the essence of it, never truly letting it out of its dark cage. It’s been more like holding vomit in my mouth, just waiting for the urge to subside until I decide to swallow it again, ignoring the fact that it will burn and rage internally, causing deeper sickness and destruction, prolonging the inevitable purge that comes before peace while attempting to convince myself I never had the vomit so close to the edge of my lips in the first place.

But tonight I thought about shining light on the dark Ugly. Holding it inside has only gotten me stuck and stressed and it tastes bad, so why not try the exact opposite. Before I could change my mind, I admitted all of it. Ugly thoughts, Ugly feelings, Ugly admissions and Ugly accusations. I felt incredibly raw and frighteningly vulnerable. Like, walking-down-a-dark-alley-yelling-loudly-to-scare-away-potential-threats-and-running-faster-than-I-thought-possible vulnerable. But I made it through unscathed. And not only did the honesty NOT give breath to this Ugly, it actually seemed to suffocate it.

I prayed it all out, really. I trust the God who says to cast all my cares upon Him. So casting I did. In my written prayer I yelled, I didn’t hold back the emotional cocktail of anger and sadness, of disappointment and surrender. I wept and I left nothing unsaid. I opened the vaults and went down the list of scary things I always thought were not okay to admit. I remembered the saying,

if you can’t say it out loud, it owns you.

I will not be owned anymore. I laid every bit of it at the feet of Jesus and asked for His wisdom. I asked hard questions. I voiced disappointments and fears, and I acknowledged his goodness, more as a declaration of faith, if I’m keeping things honest.

My brother has clung to the hope: Beauty for the Ugly. And tonight I am clinging to it as well. I asked God to show me the beauty for all this ugly. Asking, in part, to fuel my faith that there actually will be beauty in exchange. I asked for redemption and restoration. I asked for peace in the midst of chaos, confusion and brokenness. I asked for humility where I’m prideful. I asked for breakthrough, for promises, for joy, for triumph and mostly, for help.

So, tonight I lay bare. Slightly embarrassed of the Ugly I unleashed. It’s not the brag-worthy kind of ugly people love to hate about themselves. It’s a train-wreck-why haven’t-you-gone-to-counseling-yet Ugly. But, I’m very ready to sift through it all for the sake of Beauty. My heart feels a mixture of relief and anticipation. Relief for the freedom this admission has granted, knowing I am in trustworthy and productive, kind hands, and anticipation for God to respond.

He can handle my Ugly. He isn’t shocked by it, He isn’t surprised by it and He isn’t shaken by it. I am so thankful that I, too, am not shaken like I thought I’d be. Turns out, this rock on which I stand is very solid.

Cheers to unleashing the Ugly and not letting it own us. To the beauty and hope that lies ahead, and to all the crooked smiles and clean freaks.

-Bee

“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matt. 11:28

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” 
Romans 8:26

“Cast your cares on on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

“He will give a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” Isaiah 61:3

“Call to me and I will answer you, showing you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

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I used a Word document instead.

 

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I love to write. I know I can’t be the only one who discovers how I actually feel only after reading what I write. I pour out my messy heart to my journal or my, in this case, Word document. Then I read it. Then I hear myself. Then I understand a little bit more whats been making all that racket inside. I don’t start with it all figured out. But I don’t finish with it figured out either. But I do, in the process figure something out. Even if its how to get some relief. Writing is a kind of unique balm that soothes wounds until they can get some proper attention. It even helps show me where the proper attention should come from. It helps me make sense of my mess. It helps me understand how to label my emotions instead of letting them run wild, nameless and unguided. And I can’t say I’m alone in my writing. It’s always been the clearest way I’ve heard God speak to me. I think that’s why I adore keeping journals. Its like a getaway with me and God.

Writing is also a place where I can be brave. I’m learning to be brave, really. I’m not fully there yet. Here’s some background on that…

I used to keep negative things out of my journal and go straight to the hope and a prayer. If I was blaming anyone in my journaling it was probably myself. But even then, I knew that how I was seeing myself in that low moment was not in alignment with the perfect love my God had and still has for me and that my identity was in Him and not in my mistakes and falling short. So self-hatred never had a chance to shine for too long before my Defender came to my rescue and reminded me who I was and even still, who I am. This fear of writing negativity down didn’t come from a fear you may assume…I didn’t fear that someone would find the gossip between my pages and me, read it and be offended or mad at me…I feared that if I let a negative comment be confessed even in the privacy of my locked pages, that I would start to believe it and give a nasty life and power to its existence. And existence that I allowed. Lies are woven in and out of negativity. Lies about people’s worth, about their strengths and gifts.  Lies about their own hurt and their motives behind their actions that cause me pain. Those are lies I am not willing to believe. About myself or others I do life with. At least, I try not to believe. Sometimes I am deceived.

I have known the power of the tongue since a young age. I have clung tightly to writing kindness and truth and declaring God’s promises that are true instead of hashing out gossip and hatred in my secret written confessions. I’ve not done this perfectly, but since I was young I have been convicted to be cautious with what I write down. I have certainly spoken negatively about others….I will be the first to plead guilty of not thinking before I speak and hurting others in the process. But to me, as irrational as it may seem, there has been something more forever about documenting harshness in a journal. It seems more decided. Like an engraving on a stone. I don’t want to record any kind of bashing of another person whom I should be uplifting and praying for. What if archeologists find my journal hundreds of years from now and all I offer them about the identity of so-and-so is how they always failed me and were incompetent and immature and mean or ________?? I see the double-standard here. I see the inconsistency. Writing vs. Speaking…whats the difference. really? I still don’t have it figured out.

But about bravery. I see that in my habit of not writing negatively, I’ve confused it with not writing honestly. And when I don’t write honestly, I don’t get better. And I want to get better at handling hardship and struggle. I’m talking about the hard stuff. Not just the hard stuff within myself, but with others. I am starting to confess the emotions I’ve always been scared to admit in fear that I’d become some kind of anger-monster that only survives off of entitlement and bitterness. But the ironic thing is that I still have the negative things in my head and they have been eating me alive! They are still working to destroy me. I’m still somehow feeding them and they are growing. They’ve gatta go.

I’ve started to be more raw and real in my writing. They outcome is odd. I don’t always feel better about it; whatever the it is at the time. But I do feel like I take steps forward. I start realizing which aches are from which hurts and the pride I have inside wreaking chaos. And in writing honestly about the hurts caused by other people, I’m challenged with loving them in spite of their behavior…I’m confronted with loving them in the midst of their own chaos and it’s manifestations. Yikes. That gets hard. This is my starting point to healing and to abundant relationships. It’s my starting point to understanding more deeply how the Love of the Father stretched out to me when I too was guilty and offensive and in great need of grace. I need grace everyday. I need to realize these things in order to get better. In order to really love someone else from the purest, healthiest place I can. Being brave and admitting the ugly stuff is hard sometimes. I have to submit my emotions to my God and allow Him to discipline me to not dive into a rant-session, but to surrender my aches and frustrations so I don’t have to be weighed down by them anymore. It’s a fine line in journaling between being upset about something and still move towards health and crushing somebody for their responsibility or involvement in an offense which would be a big step backwards. Crushing people is never a step forward. For anyone.

In all of this I am finding more and more that I am in desperate need of my Jesus. He proves himself faithful again and again and again and again and dares me to draw nearer. I can’t figure out life in the big or the small without his guidance and patience and kindness that pulls me into a safe place; without His mighty love that turns my ashes into beauty and my defeated heart into a something strong and courageous. And whole.

 

Perhaps this post is just as messy as my at times nameless and unguided emotions, but perhaps that’s the appropriate layout.

Messy.

  Austin&Britnie-81{{photos via}}

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28, NIV

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” -James 1:2-5, NIV

bee

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When being wrong is better

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I thought today was Thursday instead of Wednesday. Literally all day. I based my decisions off of the “fact” that it was Thursday and yesterday was Wednesday and tomorrow is Friday. But this worked out in my favor, HA! Now, I am well-prepared for Friday’s events AND I still have Real Thursday to finish what I couldn’t finish in Fake Thursday! Bonus!

Today {Wednesday}, I picked up Oz from work early because he has been feeling sick the past couple of days. Sick enough to feel like he can’t teach his class. This is not the norm. The flu is double-gnarly this season so when he said he felt achy I cancelled my afternoon agenda, headed straight for the store and stocked up on anything fresh, filled with vitamin C, green, red and orange, along with some ginger, meds and Airborne. No flu for this house, nuh-uh!

Something I’m learning in all of this? I love taking care of my husband. Not just because it feels good to take care of someone else, its deeper than that. There has been something in me today that has a drive to care for him and tend to his needs. I’ve been working in a gear I didn’t know I had access to. There has been a new layer of thinking to plan out what he needs tomorrow, to think to draw him a bath filled with Epsom salt, to watch what he eats, to remember when I last gave him his cold & flu pills, his airborne, to make sure he doesn’t take his NyQuil to late. And I am not exhausted from it.

I am energized and refreshed. And no, my husband is not incapable of taking care of himself. And I know I’m not the controlling type to have to do everything for him…trust me. No, today I sensed the grace of God to give me a compassion beyond my depths and ability to nurture my husband in the way he needed me today. Beyond my natural selfish ways, something clicked in me and my goal was to be available to him and go out of my way, although it was no inconvenience, to love him.  Now, my heart is full. Not as in a pat on my own back, but in the giving today, I received the blessing. I got to invest in his life in the unique way it called for today. It was also the grace of God that allowed Oz to receive it. And because of that, there has been a great, intimate and fulfilling exchange. Sometimes its hard to receive help, or care from people. But really that’s just our pride. It’s also our pride that keeps us from sacrificing for others. But we miss out. Pride cheats us of blessing. From intimacy. Relationship. Experience**. It is a stagnant and stinky place to be.

Today I thought about what it must be like to care for my children one day. How much more they need to be nurtured… And although I won’t understand the exhaustion that I hear comes with motherhood until I myself am there, I bet that same motivation and without-question kind of response to care for them will kick in by the grace of God.

Today is a great day to appreciate my husband. Without him and without our marriage, albeit difficult at times, I would definitely be missing out on some amazing revelations and blessings. God is amazing the way he works in all things. He is ever-present and always active in our lives. I suppose this post is my way of pausing to recognize Him and the sweet way he weaves through my daily little happenings in quite profound ways. His love is great, mighty and unfathomably deep.

I am so grateful for where we are in life. It is nowhere near perfect, but that is not our goal. We are where He wants us to be and He is with us. In Him there is peace, refuge and rest.

Heres to another day, my second Thursday. May it be as lively and satisfying as the first.

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Zulu.

*Oz wasn’t smoking while sick…that would be a giant no-no. Nor was I knitting tonight…although that would be acceptable. Both photos were taken at an earlier time.

**Please check out Beth Moore’s poem My Name is Pride, It has been ministering to me for years. Here is a link for you to read it for yourself.

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Excited & Blessed

Happy 2013! I love celebrating the new year. Especially the last 2…This year has already proved to be an incredible one. There is just a sense in the air that this is a good year. Lots of favor, blessing, joy and peace. There is a happy rest in my heart. One that I have been longing for for some time now. There is already a fresh squeeze of creativity and motivation to dive into projects, independently and collectively with Oz and friends. I am beyond excited for this year. Beyond. We are settling into our new apartment in the community that we adore. What a sweet gift to live next to great friends.

Here’s how we closed out twenty-twelve:

Oz & Movember met again. However, they stay together pretty much all year long. And I support it.

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We kissed at a friends wedding:

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He finally got his tattoo that goes with mine. One year-ish later.  And best part, my brother got to do the honors. This all went down in this fabulous shop.

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My first Black Friday experience with these gems:

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Sunday Fundays with #ghlg:

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Seaport Village is always stocked with beautiful views, sunsets, people watching and great chai lattes from Upstart Crow

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Christmas sailing with my family!

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Seems San Diego’s great weather is also her greatest fault…no wind in our sails. However it was quite a great day. And we all counted our blessings that we could be together out on the water for Christmas.

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Oz serenading us with some Yann Tiersen on Christmas Eve:IMG_2155

Our New years and 2 years at midnight!

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Oz and I have a goal for this year (well, we have a few goals for this year, but I’m not talking about those right now). Each month we want to venture out as local tourists in southern California. I hope to document our local travels so if you one day find your self in this sunny corner of the country, you get some good ideas of where to go and what to do. This year is going to be such a blast. I will say it again and again. I am greatly looking forward to it and am ready to embrace each season and everyday.

Excited & blessed,

Zulu

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A Couple Days to Recover

To recap my last few days in a way that would satisfy my need to include every single detail of emotion would mean that this post would require your attention for an amount of time no one in their right mind should be willing to dedicate.  With that said, I am going to try to jot down the things that really stick out to me…and I’ll just have to be okay with leaving out some details. You’re welcome, in advance.

I will start by saying that it has taken me a couple of days to move on from the fact that after over an hour of writing out the perfect blog post, I mindlessly closed out of the tab without saving it. If you’ve ever been proud of a post only to lose it, you understand the depth of my ache after realizing what I had ruined. Maybe I’m still a bit peeved. Healing is a process, right? Right.

Officially moving on…A few days ago I had to confess (after it was brought to my attention) that I – a (for the most part) easy-going traveler with a somewhat wide range of experience with other countries – was experiencing culture shock. After over a month in this country without having faced this I was convinced I had escaped my chance of ever having it. That probably played into my denial of it. However, I must say that after a day of crying, insecurity and an overwhelming sense of feeling lost and confused (to name a few), it was probably the best thing that could of happened to me. In an extreme nutshell, it brought me to my end. A very much needed and humbling end. Father knew exactly where I was and what I needed too. Immediately after recognizing that anything ‘foreign’ felt so insulting to me, Papa sent a lovely woman our way. She is originally from Michigan and has lived here for over fifteen years. I’m not talking living in a city in China that has been so westernized you feel like you’re actually in Chinatown, Los Angeles. I’m talking living in a village hours away from electricity and running water. Where they don’t speak Mandarin as their first language, but rather their own minority dialect. The girl is hardcore. Its funny because other foreigners (white or non-Chinese people living in China) say that she has been here so long she is now more Chinese than she is American.

Anyway, she ate lunch with us and was cuing me in on some cultural differences that I should know about before I make any offensive mistakes. Mind you, this conversation is taking place right after I tell Oz about how I am feeling and really anything that is honest can and will make me cry.

Eggshells.

She has no idea how fragile the eggshells she’s walking on are.

The G0d-send of a question came out after about ten minutes of our chat.

“So, why are you here in Lij1ang?”

I could feel the tears ready to relocate to the outside of my lids so I quickly diverted the answering to my husband.

Didn’t work.

“I know he can answer, that’s why I specifically asked you, Bee.”

This is the point where I know she is here for a reason, eating lunch with us. Father doesn’t let us suffer in isolation. He sends us community. Even when it’s the last thing we want. He knows when we need to ache with someone else. He knows when we need comfort in a tangible form through someone who has been in our shoes. (In these moments, He is comfort manifested through someone else.) He is faithful in that way. I think its funny (well, not actually funny) that when we are so caught up in our very real heartaches, all that is clear to us is how badly we hurt and how far from ease we are when really, those can be the times where we experience the deepest kind of soothing and place of refuge. I think that to the intensity that our pain is, He matches with a custom-made peace. Perfectly.

Naturally, I broke down. And she let me. Her hand on the side of my face was the permission I needed to be human. I am so grateful for the freedom I felt in that moment. I knew that outburst of raw emotion was my first step towards the maturity and healing that this process would lead me to. It didn’t take away the confusion or aching, not quite yet. But I sensed His presence with me and He is so good at what He does. As I think of it now I’m brought to tears again. Not of sorrow, but of pure thankfulness. And of relief, too. I can feel Him again, even now, with a hug that says I am never leaving you.

My guard soon dropped and I was more open to receiving her advice. The practical and the spiritual. She reminded me that He speaks to us every single day. He knew Oz and I would be here. He knew that that day I was going to be a downright mess. He knew what I needed and He knew what He was doing.

I think in all of this I am learning how much I need to depend on Him. I really wanted to depend on Oz that day. I demanded impossible things from him. But he wasn’t supposed to be my absolute rock that day. J e s u s was. In my moment of absolute weakness and desperation, J e s u s is my only solid foundation. He is steady through trials. He is constant during change. He is familiar in the midst of foreignness. And now I am (still) learning that when I run to Him, he directs me through my maze of confusion and leads me perfectly to victory.

I would not change that day for anything. Since then, my connections with people are more exciting. I am not scared to make mistakes while speaking this complex language. I am getting more out of my experiences and I am more open to new things. I am seeing people more like the Father does and I know that He is growing in me a genuine love for these people and this experience that could not have ever existed in me while pride and judgment where my filters through which I understood my surroundings.

This is a day-by-day kind of deal. I have itsy-bitsy moments where I have to refocus my attitude. “Take every thought captive” is a biggy right now. It is such perfect design that everything I read and come across intertwines with what Pops is teaching me. Even in marriage. Oz and I are learning how to more authentically walk in love towards each other. I must say he is doing quite the swell job – I am inspired and challenged by him daily and am so blessed by how much I see Father moving in his heart. It deepens my  own hunger for transformation in my life. We have been reading a book on communication and have been really enjoying our evenings when we read it together. My favorite part though is when I notice us applying what we’re learning in our outings together. Whoa, this stuff actually works! There has been a renewed and even deeper-than-ever-before connection of laughter, enjoyment and support for each other. Interesting, when I stop nit-picking (mom, you know I hate strongly-dislike that phrase!) at what I wish was different about our marriage (we can all find something, I’m sure) and instead focus on what the L0rd has called me to be, and how excited He is to lead us into that kind of maturity and healthiness, the relationships (Oz + Bee & J.C. + Bee) become so much more fulfilling and fruitful. Shocking, right?

What a concept.

Anyway, there are 4 billion things going on in my head that I’d love to sit down with you and chat about, but I think I’ll give it a rest for now.

Wait! A bit of a recap from today – it was a good day.

We went to our friends’ house (who right now are out of town) to do laundry, and their key didn’t work! Soooo, we ended up hanging out with their neighbor and stayed at her house the entire afternoon and well into the nighttime. She made us Pu’Er Cha (tea) and we had a great afternoon together. We ate dinner there with her friends (Oz and I helped fold the dumplings – so fun) and then enjoyed more cha together. She has a cinnamon colored poodle that actually redeemed the breed for us. That pup is such a babe and super sweet. It was a wonderful day to soak up language and develop new friendships. I’m pretty sure it was the better plan to get locked out of our friends’ house today. {However, we still need to pick up our laundry and figure out how our friends will get back into their house when they get home…but what would China be without a little bit of ma fan? (Ah, that’s a good one to know…’ma fan’ means troublesome, or inconvenience – along those lines. I may be throwing that one around quite a bit.)}

I hope this ramble was more cohesive than I feel it was. Thank you for your continued pr@yers and love. We adore getting emails from you so don’t be shy!

ImageOur new Home Sweet Home.

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Happy belated 4th of July!

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The restaurant with my favorite dessert.

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My favorite dessert.

{Xi Mi Lu}

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Ke Le – the poodle-redeeming pup.

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Lij1ang Old Town during traffic hour.

 

 

Happy mid-July to you all,

Bee

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