Free to Feel

JStuStudios Flash Mob Proposal

Today was another blur. I had commitments for breakfast and then again for lunch. Then I lost focus this afternoon and into the evening because my son’s surprise video proposal finally went LIVE after two long days of waiting.

I’m overwhelmed by the sweetness and love and joy of this surprise proposal.

Tonight, I am FREE to FEEL.

I feel all kinds of sappy.

I feel all kinds of happy, too.

I feel thankful.

I feel blessed.

I feel proud.

I feel emotional.

I feel overwhelmed by the sweetness of this surprise proposal.

I feel overwhelmed at the generosity of The Blanks and so many strangers who made this flash mob proposal video possible.

Watch this video and FEEL the love..

(Email subscribers, please watch the Flash Mob Proposal here . It’s about 8 minutes. It’s so sweet to see high school sweethearts get engaged after 5 years of dating.)

(For previous posts from this series, click 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

Free to Give

God So Loved the World that he Gave(day 23 of 31)

Do you consider yourself to be “giving”? I don’t. Most days I don’t consider myself to be overly generous. Maybe that’s because I know friends who give so much more than I do. They give gifts to strangers. They give money to people in need. They give to support missions. They give their talents and time.  They are just generous people.

And yes, I’m comparing. I don’t give exactly like they do, I give differently, but I still give. I give my ear to listen to a hurting friend. I give from my heart when I speak to women’s groups. I give my time when my daughter needs to talk late at night. I give up sleep to make sure everyone is home safely on the weekend. I give haircuts when my family needs them.

The ways of giving are unlimited.

I’m so thankful I am free to give in the ways I know how.

And I love knowing that God set the ultimate example of giving. God gave His only begotten son, Jesus, to save the world. He gave us love when we least deserved it. God continues to give, give and give. He gives us grace. He gives us new mercies every morning. God is the ultimate giver.

I pray that we all learn to give ourselves away, not in an unhealthy way, but in our own unique way. We all have something valuable to give..

It’s true it’s more blessed to give than to receive. So next time, I want more and more and more for me, remind me of the blessing of giving.

Remind me that True Love gives, and gives without expectation..

 

(For previous posts from this series, click 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

Free to Love

Loving Others(day 22 of 31)

Wow, what a day of waiting and waiting for me!

Tonight, my son surprised his girlfriend of 5 years with a dance mob wedding proposal in LA.

So all day I was on jets waiting to hear.

So hyper I couldn’t focus or write my blog.

I felt surges of adrenaline rush through my body like I was on a roller coaster ride..

I even woke up at 6am because I was so excited. Excited for my son. Excited for his girlfriend. Excited for the surprise. Excited to share this love with the world.

Tonight I’m extra thrilled about the word LOVE.

I can’t believe someday in the near future I’m going to have a daughter-in-love.

My heart expands.

Our family grows because of love.

And yes, I could have wrote deeper on the topic of love,

but tonight I’m free to remember what it was like to fall in love.

 I’m free to celebrate more love.

Yay to love!!

I love these two…  :-) Aren’t they precious???

JStuStudios

(I’ll post the video of the proposal dance here tomorrow. The video is coming tonight or tomorrow on my son’s YouTube prank channel. And again, this mom has to wait!)

(For previous posts from this series, click 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

Free to Choose

Making Choices (day 19 of my 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

We’re in the final stretch of our 31 day series together. Are you happy yet? :) I hope you’ve enjoyed thinking about all the freedoms we have in life. As a freedom lover, I’m loving it. Today I almost pulled out my original brainstorming “free” list because I couldn’t think of what to write about today, and then I remembered this one.

Free to Choose.

Another favorite of mine.

A topic I talk about often with my teenage daughter. Choices. The gift of being able to choose. The consequences of our daily choices. What happens when we don’t choose. The choices of others and how they affect us.

Several years I gave a talk to teenage boys and girls in a local youth jail called The Gift of Choice. I shared my poor choices as a teenager and twenty-something, and then I shared what happened when I started changing my choices. It was overwhelmingly rewarding when I finished my message that 15 kids gave their lives to Jesus.

I love being able to choose. Well, I love when I make good ones and I hate when I choose the wrong thing.

Being able to choose is a gift from God. We have freewill. We are not robots. We have the ability to think for ourselves. I can’t imagine not having this freedom and yet I know as I type this there are people who are not able to choose. They are trapped in slavery or in an abusive relationship. Oh how I hate that thought. I wish I could rescue them out of that place of no choice and into a place of freedom and choice.

Do you ever thank God for the gift of choice?

I know I often get overwhelmed by choice. We have so many choices, especially here in America. One look inside our grocery stores will tell you we have oodles of choices. Too many choices for someone like me who is frugal and yet wants to make wise and healthy choices. Goodness, save me from the shelve, better yet, save me from myself.

Think about all the choices you have in a day.

What will you eat and drink?

Will you work, rest, exercise, or play?

What will you wear? Will you shower?

What will choose to think about?

How will you treat people?

Will you pray?

Will you listen to music, watch TV, read a book, or choose silence?

What will you say when you see yourself in your mirror?

Will you be thankful or complain?

Will you look for reasons to enjoy today?

Will you focus on the regrets of yesterday?

Will you fret about tomorrow?

 

Okay you get the idea. We are free to choose. Yay! That’s a reason to celebrate, choose to live your best life today. And if that’s not enough for you, here’s another thing to remember about choice.

Jesus chose YOU.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you

so that you might go and bear fruit—

fruit that will last . . .”

John 15:16

Q4U:  What will you choose to do with this day? Please share in the comments here on my blog OR stop by my Facebook page.

(For previous posts from this series, click here: 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

Free to Pray

The Gift of Prayer (day 18 of my 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

 

I love that I am free to pray anytime, anywhere. In my car, on a plane, stuck in traffic, or in the doctor’s office. In my house. In bed. While exercising, sitting outside in the sun, walking in nature, or quietly in public places. In a coffee house with a friend. On the phone, over text, or by email. By writing prayers in my journal. There are no limits to the creative ways I can talk to God. I love that I can be ruthlessly honest with Him and that He will always be there. After all He is Emmanuel, God with us, right? So I can cry, beg, whine, vent, get mad, laugh, or celebrate life with Him. His presence is an amazingly freeing gift to my needy heart. I’m so thankful that God bends His ear to hear me. Every. Single. Time.

Father God, thank You for inviting me into relationship with You through Your Word and prayer. Thank You for putting up with me and my highs and lows. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for Your healing love.

Lord, I do believe, please help me with my unbelief. We both know what those areas are.

And Lord, please help me stop talking so much and start listening again. I can remember seasons when I sat in prayer just to listen. It was amazing. I remember the award of hearing You speak straight to me. Your voice comforted me when I needed it most. So why do I resist pausing to hear You today?

Come, Jesus, come and speak to me today. I’m listening and, as always, I need You. Amen.

 

Q4U:  Where do you usually pray? Do you have a routine? Please share in the comments here on my blog OR stop by my Facebook page.

(For all 31 days, click here: 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

Free To Forgive

Forgiving Others (day 17 of my 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

 Today I’m thinking about how much forgiveness plays a huge part in me living a free life. So instead of writing a new post,  I’m sharing one (longer than usual) that I originally wrote for Ungrind.com back in 2008. My hope is that if you’re struggling with unforgiveness that my story will encourage you to break free…

The Letter That Changed Me

 

 

I sat in front of my computer about to do something I never imagined doing: write a letter to my molester.

A few days prior, my husband casually mentioned his upcoming business trip. I felt sick and angry inside when I heard where. Attached to this city name were memories from thirty-three years ago I’d rather forget.

I never told my parents what happened to me in second grade. Shame kept me quiet until I was in high school. I have no idea why, but one day I casually told a relative what happened. Maybe I needed to be heard and understood. I felt self-conscious sharing what I remembered, like I was making things up.

Not a single tear was cried over my abuse — not during, not after, not ever. When I told a few trusted friends about my past, I emotionally separated myself and told it as a “long, long time ago this happened to me” story. My lack of tears convinced me I was OK. But deep down, I knew better. Hearing a city name awoke something inside of me I buried alive decades earlier. Pain.

I knew I needed to get to the root of my pain. After a conversation with my family, I googled this guy’s full name. I cried what I now call my “death cry” with what I uncovered.

My memories were true.

I wasn’t crazy.

My worst fears realized: This multimillionaire — a repeated sex offender — spent his entire life molesting children! Nothing stopped him. His wealth spared him. And the worst part was I wasn’t his only victim. His track record ripped through state lines like a tornado and left devastation in the hearts of many young boys and girls.

Sorrow and outrage shook me to my core. I wanted to stand up for every child he had ever hurt. I also wanted to die. Now what? Clueless, I sobbed one minute and then walked around numb the next.

For some reason I needed to know if this monster was still alive, so I paid $13.95 to search site to find out. He was! Now in his early 80′s with health issues, he violated probation only a few years prior. Still a sick, sick man!

I had to make a decision. I couldn’t ignore my past any longer. I could either go after this creep once and for all — or let him go. Torn with emotions, I prayed, journaled, and talked with family and friends.

A few days later, I sat alone with my laptop and stared at a blank word document. Time to give this guy a piece of my mind. I prayed, took deep breaths, teared up, and started typing. At first I struggled to find words. What words are strong enough to describe what he did? None. After a page of sharing with him my experience and pain, I decided it was time to say I’m done. As I continued, I asked him hard questions. I even probed into what he might be thinking now as an old man about to meet his Maker. I told him what saved me from destroying myself: my faith in Jesus.

Something amazing happened as I kept writing.

I wrote words I never dreamed of writing. Words about forgiveness and love and the hope of heaven. The strangest feeling came over me as wrote out a salvation prayer and invited him to know my Healer. My heart soared with peace and joy. I felt more alive and full of God’s love than ever before. The weight of unforgiveness after all those years finally lifted.

The next day I sent the letter unsigned with no return address. It was finished. I was free! Who knew I could actually pen words of love and forgiveness to one of the most evil of men?

God did. He gets all the credit.

That day I witnessed a real miracle — a miracle in my heart. The healing power of forgiveness. God in action.

This experience taught me a couple truths I hope I never forget.

  1. Never hold onto unforgiveness. It’s not worth it. Unforgiveness is a heavy yoke.
  2. Forgiveness is hard to do — and sometimes takes decades (in my case) — but it brings freedom. Freedom to heal. Freedom to love.

No matter how bad the offense feels, I’m learning the best path is straight towards forgiveness. Lewis B. Smedes’s quote says it best: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

For over thirty years, I was held captive by unforgiveness. Today I feel the difference. I’m lighter — not physically — but mentally and emotionally and spiritually.

Since this letter, I’ve thought over and over again about Jesus’ words as He hung dying on the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). How could Jesus just let these offenders of the hook after all they did to Him? His words make no sense. Did Jesus know something they didn’t? Did His heart soar with peace and joy as He spoke forgiveness? Even as Christ was dying, did He feel completely alive and full of love by releasing His offenders? I bet He did.

God is love! His ways are not our ways.

I also think about how Christ treated the criminal hanging next to Him. Jesus did not say, “It’s too late, buddy. Die without hope.” Instead He said, “See you in paradise.” Not a cold shoulder, but a warm embrace.

Jesus showed us a different way of living. He lived out forgiveness in action. It’s taken me decades to really grasp the benefit of true forgiveness.

I’m thankful for the freedom I now feel with my childhood sexual abuse. I no longer hold unforgiveness in the dark corners of my heart. I no longer cringe inside when I heard that city name. Sure, that city will always have an ugly memory attached to it, but now it has been topped with God’s healing love. I choose to focus on that.

It’s true with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). The letter I wrote is proof of that to me.

 

Q4U: Is there someone you need to forgive today? Maybe even yourself?

Find my Facebook page.

(If you missed any of  this series, find them here: 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

 

Free To Remember

Remember (day 16 of my 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

Today I’m taking time to remember just how far I’ve come and how much God has done in my life thus far. Do you know how many journals I have? Records of prayers? Pages of my joys, my sorrows and my dreams? Photos of God moments? Do you know how much of a mess I was when God grabbed my heart? And even though I’m not where I want to be, I have come a long, long way. I wish I could share my long list of breakthroughs with you tonight, but I’m tired. Today was one of those days. Not a bad kind of day, but an unplanned kind of day. My daughter stayed home because she was feeling lousy, so instead of my regularly scheduled morning meeting, I took life as it came. And I ended up on a brainstorming phone call with a friend. We laughed and laughed until we cried. So tonight I remember how good a belly laugh is. I remember how important friends are to me.

 

God, please help me always remember what matters.

People, people and more people.

Grace, grace and more grace.

And Your amazing love.

Q4U: Do you take time to remember how far you’ve come and what God has done? Please share in the comments here on my blog OR stop by my Facebook page.

(If you missed any of 31 days Live Free series, find them all listed here: 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

 

Free to Fail

It's okay to fail

 (This is day 15 of my 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

 Fifteen days into this 31 day series and I sense huge changes in my heart. For one, I see so many lies I’ve believed. Oh my goodness. And I see how I’ve been deeply affected by perfectionism, fear and people pleasing. I see what really matters to me like wonder and learning. And here we are today, on day fifteen, talking about failure. Gulp.

I don’t know where this issue started for me, but for some reason, I’m not okay with my own failures. You can fail and I’ll give you grace in a heartbeat. I’ll encourage you to get back up and try again. But for me, nope, I’m not that nice to myself. When I fail, I feel like I Am A Failure. It’s shame-based thinking and it’s not true.

I can remember being in elementary school and hating gym class for two reasons. One, because I was one of the last ones picked when we broke off into teams. I felt like a leftover. Two, I felt a false sense of responsibility if I missed the ball and our team lost, like it was ALL my fault. Who can stand under that kind of pressure? No one. For some reason I gave myself the weight of responsibility for whether the team won or lost. Really? Yep. Crazy I know.

Even today, I wrestle with failure. I can easily see things I suck at, like administration stuff. I often hear myself thinking, “I’m a failure.” But again is this truth? No. It’s a lie I am choosing to believe and it’s gotta go.

The truth is I am NOT a failure, but I will continue to fail.

Because failure is part of life.

So to live free, I must learn to embrace the idea of trying and sometimes failing. Instead of feeling like I AM a failure. I need to rethink this whole issue and say, “I failed, so what can I learn from this?” It’s that whole idea behind the book Failing Forward by by John C Maxwell, which I own and love. And yes, I probably need to reread this book. :)

Even if I consider all the failures of God’s people in Bible, I can see that failure is normal. So am I not normal? Am I the exception to the everyone-fails-rule? No.

To not fail in life is not to live at all. And who wants a lifeless life? Not me.

So I’m testing new waters lately. Behind the scenes I’m preparing for the next season of my  life. I’m creating a new website. Writing content. Brainstorming. Taking a course and more. I’m excited because I really sense this next chapter of my life is actually me being the MOST me I can be.

It’s me listening to God and saying, “Okay, I will try this. I’m scared to death. I’m afraid of being judged and not liked. I’m afraid to fail. So God, if I fail, which I know I will from time to time, please let me fall forward into your arms of grace. Because, God, I really have no choice anymore. It’s either live or die. And I’m so tired of feeling dead. I’m ready to live again. And I finally believe I have something valuable to offer this world. Because I have the gifts YOU gave me.”

Isn’t that reason enough to try?

 

 

Q4U: Do you wrestle with failure?  Please share in the comments here on my blog OR stop by my Facebook page.

(If you missed any of 31 days Live Free series, find them all listed here: 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

 

 

Free To Learn

Love Learning (This is day 14 of my 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

For me, life is a classroom. Almost every day I learn something new and I love it.  You might call me addicted to learning, but to me it’s good stuff. I need to keep using my brain. And I love to challenge my thinking and expand my knowledge about life. Whether it’s learning about exercise, nutrition or juicing, photography, gardening, painting or organizing, life coaching, social media, blogging, speaking, writing, leadership, human behavior, shame, faith, or Jesus. I love reading books or articles or blogs. Most days you will find me at home moving from room to room (doing something) with my laptop, listening to something motivational, inspirational, educational, or spiritual. I listen to audio books from the library or sermons online. I watch YouTube videos, which is still mostly just listening for me since I’m usually wandering around..I rarely watch TV. I can’t pay attention to most sitcoms and I often fall asleep during movies.

Sometimes I wonder if I should be a teacher because I love, love, love learning. I get excited when I can share what I’m learning with others who are interested. But I usually keep my mouth shut because I don’t want to drive people crazy with the latest tidbits of knowledge.

I don’t understand people who don’t care about learning. I don’t understand people who are okay with being the same person they were when they were young. To me, there is always hope for someone who is stuck in the same ole stuff. They can learn and they can grow and change.

And as much as I am silly and quirky, I am also very serious about education. Learning is a huge part of my life.

I love that we all can learn the things we are interested in. There are no limits. And I love the diversity of people’s interests. I have a friend who loves the names of God and, boy, does she know a lot about them.  I have a friend who will be soon starting her interior design business. She’s amazing! I have a friend who makes dolls and and another one who paints, and both have been recognized for their artistic talents.

What do you love? What are your interests? Are you learning all you can about those topics? Are you taking the necessary time to learn? If not, why? No time? If so, I have a hard time believing time is the real issue because we all have the same amount of time. And we all make time for what we value. Do you value learning? If so, make a way to learn. Squeeze it in. Use your drive time, replace your TV time with 30 minutes of learning. Check out books from your local library. Do whatever it takes to learn what you love. Do not wait.

One thing I know about learning:

I have NO regrets for all the time I’ve spent learning. I’m so glad I am free to learn whatever interests me at the moment. And I’m free to keep learning.

If I could encourage the whole world to love learning, I would. And here’s where I might start:

Learn all you can about yourself and learn to love that person.

Learn all you can about what about what you love (your interests/gifts/talents) and do those things.

Learn all you can about those you love and love them anyway.

Learn all you can about the great God who loves you.

Q4U: What do you love to learn about? Please share in the comments on my blog OR stop by my Facebook page.

(If you missed any of 31 days Live Free series, find them all listed here: 31 day blog series: Live Free.  )  

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(To find out more about the over 1,400 bloggers writing this month of October. Visit The Nester. I guarantee someone is writing on a topic that interests you! The variety is amazing!! And if you’re on Twitter, look for us by the hashtag #31days.)

PS I offer life coaching for women who want more wonder out of life. Please visit my “coaching” tab and contact me so we can talk about your wonder-full life.. I’m willing to help if you’re ready to invest in you. I specialize in helping you discover what you value most in life so that you can live with joy today. No more waiting for something or someone around you to change. You can change today.. Every small change matters because you matter.