Blog move for the New Year!

Hey all!

I have been secretly plotting and preparing a new space for us to meet. You can find this new space at wattswell.com .

As of this post I will not be writing here any longer.

If you already follow this community…no need to worry you will automatically get updates in your wordpress feed.

However, if you are like me and you enjoy getting an email simply click here.  Fill in your email in the right hand column to get updates straight to your inbox.

If you have been getting emails you will no longer and will need to take the step above to keep listening in on the conversation from your inbox.

At the new space, go ahead and check out my list of fabulous reads of 2016.  I’d love for you to comment so we can hear what you loved reading this year.

I am excited to regroup with you guys at my new web home.

Blessings,

Lauren

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Candles upon cake

He does not manage us, to-do list us, or bullet-point us. He loves us. Is with us. And believing him feels impossible, until we do, like a miracle, like lukewarm water turning merlot red right there in the cup. And hope sprouts new, because God doesn’t give us a list. He invites us into the story.

-Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways

This one has felt unusual, like a comma connecting two different ideas.  It doesn’t feel monumental nor extravagant.  But it feels like a pause, a gearing up for another long stride.

It is my birthday.  My personal New Year’s day.

This morning I sat cozily under my nap blanket with a piping hot mug fitting just right in my hands.  I read the quote above by my favorite blogger.  It grabbed me and pulled me in to listen closer.

I tend to look back over my life and compartmentalize seasons.  I shove 2-3 years in a cubby, as those years threaten to come bursting out onto the floor.  Labels hang above each square, generalizing its contents.

Its a system that fails me often, as pieces do not always stay in their proper place.

In a moment of silence this morning, with coffee as my witness.  Thankfulness sprang out of my heart and washed over my head and down to my feet.  Not the kind of washing that comes from emotional hormones or warm fuzzies, yet a washing that comes from the Spirit.

And in a brief moment all of my personal history was strung together in one note.  In one sentence. And this here, this day, feels like one glorious small comma leaving room for what is yet to be written.

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Oils blend, smearing into one another, causing art to appeal to the senses.

Last year I wondered and I desired for what was to come.  All I knew was that change was coming. But this? Different job, pursuing another degree, and regaining old ground in a new way.

Yea, you can’t make this stuff up.

I hadn’t a clue. But He had laid the colors. He took his thumb rubbed it across the canvas and smeared the scene into place.

We live one continuous journey.  All our stories worth telling.

What is He creating in your life?  And are you willing to let Him blend the pieces together in His perfect way?

Days 23-25:: Prayer from the table

Traveling sometimes makes writing a bigger challenge.  I find that I do more thinking and less writing.  The writing comes after the journey.

The traveling is more about the experience.  But it is good to get sweet small moments to write in the midst of the travels.

The first part of my journey had a few of these small moments.  These were rich moments but simple.  I truly believe we need those moments to refresh our souls from the hustle.

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Here is a prayer I jotted down one morning.  I modified it just for you in case it would be a place in which you may let out a sigh and take a small moment to reflect and refresh.

Maybe you feel like there is not enough to go around.  You are worn and feel like your basket is empty.  Or maybe you are scared, scared you have nothing to give. Possibly your hungry, starving even, for more than just crumbs.

He is not a frugal God. May your heart be pleasantly surprised this weekend.

Bring me up, Lord, to where you are calling.  Put a song in me to sing.  A harmony so sweet, where you and I can meet.

Grant me today my daily bread.  Let me not forget to feed the hungry and those in need. You will supply me for the day for my needs, and the needs of others.  Help me to give away what you have entrusted to me.  Show me the truly hungry. And teach me to give how you gave.  When you gave and all was said and done there was more than enough.

May it still be true of you through me.

Amen

For seeing eyes

Who will love? Who will see? 

They do not look like you, nor do they look like me. 

Awake, o sleeper–

You’ve barricade yourself behind a wall. While those who came to feast are left out to starve. 

Give them scraps you say, from over high walls. 

How about unlock your gates, demolish the partition. 

Let the hungry come eat. Sit them on your left and on your right. 

To the least who thinks he is nothing, sit him at the head. 

Honor him as worthy. Take it in, watch love grow.

8 things noted from an out-of-sorts week

 

It has been a bit of a loner slow week, where tea and soup have been my best couch buddies. Kleenex by my side, cough drops in my pocket, and drugs scattered on the kitchen counter, I’ve let the house work go a little. I did manage to fold some laundry in a two day span. Books sit staring at me enticing me to read them, but my brain is clouded and will not focus enough to retain but a sentence.
I’ve taken the one-two-punch and I’m down for the count. Life, you will have to leave a voicemail because I’ll be out of the office for a while. I’ve been wrestling with a nasty respiratory infection this week. Though it is not the flu nor a crazy disease, its still put me out and on my butt. I’m hoping the worst is behind me even though I’m still giving my lungs the occasionally violent work out and I know what time I need to take more miracle meds.
I wanted to share a few things (8 to be exact) I’ve been gleaning out of this nasty little experience.

1. Water…water…must find water.
Mom was not joking when she told me as a kid to drink up.  I’ve drank more water the past week than I normally do in two weeks.
I could learn from this and make water the first thing I reach for on a normal morning basis. The coffee can wait. My brain and body needs water to wake up and do its thing (like get rid of all this yucky stuff in my chest).

2. The active concern from others is a sweet blessing to my heart.
When you do not make your own hours nor have sick days at your job, guess what…you still have to go to work. So I took the meds and put a handful of coffee drops in my pocket.
In my industry, Im not going to announce I feel like shit to my customers. But a favorite fun loving boisterous regular of ours stopped in and noticed my voice sounded funny. A few minutes later she came back in the store with some essential oils for me. I thought oh she’s just going to hand it to me. Oh no! Being the mom to all God’s children she is… she called me over and lathered me up with this stuff, on my heart, on my neck, on my face. My district manager looked on with bewilderment. I smelt like a hippie for the next few hours.  But it blessed me. I giggled, “I’m anointed”.

3. It read, “Don’t let unexpected situations ‘throw’ you”.
Yep, that was the fortune cookie I got a couple weeks ago and hung on to. And the last two weeks there have been several unexpecteds…mostly what I would not say are favorable. Holy Spirit can use fortune cookies right? I mean He is God afterall. image

I’ve been reminded that circumstances do not have to dictate my attitude. I kept saying yea I am good, I’m just not feeling well and neither is my car (car was out of commission this week too).
I’m reminded of a quote from the book Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird :

A mountain does not determine what sort of weather is happening but witnesses all the weather that comes and goes…

My core, where I am united and hidden in Christ is stronger.  These things (sickness, etc.) are just the storms around.

4. Mom!!!!
Need I say more? Even though she is most likely the one I got this plague from, shes still the one I call with drug questions. Its times like these I am thankful that I live back in the same city as my family. Because after all when you do not feel well the main person you want is your momma.
Also there must be something innately wired in mom’s that when their kids aren’t feeling well their text game is amped up 😉

5. I love to sing, but do not know how to sing when on mute.
Music is a big part of my week. Id say more than half the showers I take are accompanied with some kind of music. Not to mentioned I’ve gotten into the habit of going to a service mid week where worship through singing is main part of the meeting time.
I’ve been challenged this week when Ive wanted to sing or pray out loud. (I can do these things freely and as loud as I want because I live in the middle of nowhere.) How do you sing when you have no voice? I’m still not sure.  imageOne evening I sat on the dock with a cup of tea, closed my eyes and let my soul dance to music with the one my heart loves.
I’m thankful for a voice and a song. But even when I do not feel I have either, its good to be reminded that my soul is in an eternal dance.  In that place I can rest.

6. You are what you eat.
Let me tell you how many times I googled how to get better faster…actually I lost count. Here’s what has helped me the most when it comes to what I put in my body:
– Soup…progresso will be super successful this month (chicken brooth is good for you)
-Fresh Juices (New discovery: Carrot, tumeric, banana, ginger, coconut water)
-Tea (Bergamot in Earl Grey tea is supposedly good for you)
-Honey (my favorite any way)
-Cinnamon (it has inflammatory properties)

7. Crankiness is not just found in babes, its in me too.
Found myself way irritable one day. I had to pause for a minute and evaluate why I was getting angry. Realized it was because I had no control over the fact that I was sick. And because I was sick my performance at work and life just was not happening. Hmmm….a good dose of grace goes a long way. Do I have any other high-performing recovering perfectionists out there that can relate??

8. When discouragement comes a creepin’, powerful words push back.
You’ve probably seen my posts about the book I am reading.  What an awesome privilege I had to help spread the word post-launch. The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud is an absolute gem.
With the “unexpecteds” of my week the power of the other has been well…powerful. A friend to hash out the deep things. A random text from someone telling me how special I am. Finding out that someone had been praying for me all weekend. Someone I respect looking me in the eyes and telling me to feel better, and knowing she is declaring it over my life not just saying well wishes.  A willing brother to go for all in by praying for healing over me.
Dude…we need each other. Unless you prefer staying in the pits, but my guess is sooner or later you’ll want out. I’m thankful for, and craving for more corner 4 connections in my life. #poweroftheother
May your week be filled with encouragement rather than the lies of defeat. And for those feeling under the weather may you be renewed and refreshed, healed and strenghtened.

Heard Prayer

You know my struggles in lone oneness.

You know my desires both holy and detracting.

Save me oh Lord, speak tenderly to my soul.

In need of some relief from the ebbing ache within.

Do not let me merely brush away rather help me stay.

Stay with you, I am seen.  You fill all in All.

Stay, with my heart in gentle hands. It’s bled much, beats ever strong.

Credit to Grace to remain loving, and Mercy for covering my wandering.

Be true Father for this little growing girl needs you.

Direct and reveal, sure. Above all keep me sitting, enjoying daily bread before me.

Peace of yours be mine, it is thine daughter’s inheritance.

Joy and Gratitude abounding at the table with you.

Speak dearly Lord Jesus, I will lean in to hear the only purely beating heart.

 

2/28/16image

Fresh wind in my sails

I saw Him standing before me with a tender smile upon his face. He approached. Before I knew what had taken place there was this big part of what I believed to be me in his hands. It appeared to be a solid stone birthed from the soil of the earth. A common pebble only a child would find significance in. On this stone was written a word I had not thought of in a long while: victim-less. It was hard to decipher; was this one word or two?

I realized I could not raise my right arm for long, as if my strength had failed. Not only so, I feared my chest would collapse if I held my hand in the air at length. I looked and found the place from which the stone really came. A hole straight through my body just below my right shoulder spanning mid-way down my torso was left in place of the earthen stone. The gapping hole looked weak, unsupported, softly vulnerable.

Then I saw as if the zoom lens had been spun, him working in the hole of emptiness. His hands moved as a skilled mason, creating walls of support. Smoothly cementing the walls of my chest hole so that the tissue around would be held up and not cave in. Already I felt life flow returning to the muscles of my arm.

But he left the hole and giggled in joy as he did. He had no intention of sealing it up with cement. I could feel wind blowing through me. I saw him rather proudly full of laughter reach his arm through the cement lined hole and out the other side of me. It brought him a ridiculous amount of pleasure.

Then I saw something so out of place it made me glance twice. Out of the cement through the tiniest of cracks peaked greenery on all sides. My mind befuddled, I thought, “I haven’t even soil in me to grow such lush green”. So there I stood gapping in amazement at the hole in my chest filing with green life. Things that appeared as trees grew.

I looked at him as he delightfully smiled back at me. His eyes were soft yet full of adventure. And he said, “Do you wanna see?”. Before I could answer I could see through his perspective, as if in his very body. I was starring, from his eyes, through the hole in the bodily form of me. I did not see the wall behind where my body stood. But instead beyond the thick bright brush I saw a world bigger and brighter than I had ever seen. A stream wrapped down the rich landscape with rolling mountains to one side and a beautiful colorful sun dancing its light upon the clouds on the far side.

I returned to my body, but as I did I heard him expectantly believing. He said, “Show them eternity, Lauren Elizabeth.”

  

     He is waiting to speak over you. It is you who are more than enough through the Son. More than a conquerer, you are being made brave. He removes what does not bare fruit that lasts because he excitedly desires the finest of foods for you. Filthy rich in mercy is this jovial king. Rest assured your mind will be blown; he does not dissapoint. He reaches from earth into eternity. Why not through you? He will show you things you cannot imagine, grow things you never thought could bare life. Come Lord stand before us, we want to see.

Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!

Leaving 15, Entering 16

The general feeling I have leaving 2015 and entering into 2016 is that of leaving the city streets and getting on the highway. There is a feeling of slowly increasing speed to join the accelerated pace of the three laned traffic.

Sitting outside just a couple winter nights ago, huddled around a fire with three other women, we spoke of things on our hearts. We even sang songs that would not escape our minds. As we sat there one of them spoke up saying that for so many 2015 was a hard year, but 2014 wasn’t much better. She spoke of how ’16 held so much more promise for many. She said that she had been encouraged that ’15 was a buffer year between the turmoil of ’14 and the promise of ’16. My spirit leapt at this! Yes, yes!

We need buffers. We need acceleration lanes. We need fall in order to transition from summer to winter. We need engagement before marriage. I think there is something to be said for the period between. Psychologically we do not do well with drastic sudden change as humans. Many traumas people are faced with overcoming come from an instance of drastic life altering sudden change. Not to say sudden change is horrific but there is something to be valued in transition or in the processing.

What grace there was in ’15 for me personally. The year before was rough. I had found myself partially numb, disoriented, struggling, and feeling unloved. Im sure I walked around with bags under my eyes most days, with a feeble attempt of searching for some relief. Tormented by discouragement and a nagging feeling of being sidetracked filled my everyday. I had been joyfully riding a train at full speed, only to then find myself on the side of the tracks walking as if a hobo with no home. 

I had a wake up call at some point realizing I had completely lost myself. I did not know how to dream anymore. I did not even know what I stood for. And there in that epiphanic moment is when it was birthed. Desire came to life in me again. Desire to find myself again. I broke away from what held me hostage and…I felt very alone.

  Enter year ’15. Slow learning of how I should be treated again. I should be loved, treasured. I was beautiful…who knew? I wasn’t disqualified. I was a leader. I had dreams. Taking care of myself was not selfish. I was a daughter close to home again. People wanted to be my friend when I had none. I was an artist. I was an adventurer. I was heartbroken and in need of a healer. I could feel again. I possibly had purpose again.

 And for sure I saw I served a very jealous God with a destiny built for me to fit in and create. ’15 was a rebuilding and a detoxing time for me. I found grace to bookend my failures. And hope to start a new chapter.

Here I am at the beginning of ’16, knowing I needed ’15 to carry me away from ’14. I feel back on the tracks. Though now I know what it is to be a hobo wandering along, having lost sight of almost everything. But let me tell you if you are in that place, do not sweat it.  Cry, fight, wrestle, and pray. Pray simply “God, help because I just don’t know”.  God is not worried. He has more than enough grace to carry you back to your path where you were dancing in joy and purpose. Nothing is ever wasted. And most times we need to have a transition time to prepare us for the promise to come. So may your journey be sweet no matter what and may you been given the grace to not give up.

Cheers to what this year holds!

10 Things I Learned in August

Reflecting and regrouping the past few rainy days. Therefore I find it only fitting to link up to Emily Freeman’s blog and share my 10 things I learned in August.

Here’s to September! You came rather quickly. But Ill ride your wave of pumpkin everything and cooler mornings.

1. I enjoy my morning coffee more when I am coherent.
It helps me to take a shower as the coffee brews. Or do the lingering dishes in my sink from the night before as those succulent drops of brown-golden goodness make it to the pot. Doing something before sitting to have my coffee ensures i enjoy those sitting moments rather than hoping I don’t fall back asleep while sipping the miracle wake up drug. And subsequently I’ve had really nice morning moments of late.

2. I have a destiny and purpose.
I knew this, but I needed reminding. In the midst of finding my niche here, finding heartache, surviving, and working, I had forgotten that this isn’t my home. There is an eternal reality and this is the beginning. And I am an overcomer.


3. Shrimping is super easy and cleaning/cooking shrimp isn’t as hard as I thought.
I have learned the technique of throwing out a cast net without “pancaking”. And I have been pleasantly surprised as I have actually caught things in my net. I finally caught on that if I go out on my dock at low tide I can get a small but reasonable size catch of shrimp. So of course I had to learn that all it takes to clean and store my catch is to simply pop the heads off, wash, and freeze in a container with water in it. This girl is becoming more lowcountry by the minute.


4. Heartbreak is hard, and confession brings relief.
If heartbreak wasn’t hard maybe we would be trying on relationships like clothes in a store. But the reality is that loving someone is risky and vulnerable. And oh yes Tennyson was right “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” But sometimes in those relationships we find ourselves grieving, we made mistakes. Confessing to another person the good, the rough, and the things I’d do differently brought me some relief. But this lesson is continuing into September as I work through confessing to myself and possibly close friends the reasons things got messy.

5. Community is good, but being with like-minded individuals is even better.
I think these two things may just be the same. A friend moved down here about 20 minutes from me. The couple times we have spent together, I have walked away refreshed remembering who I truly am, the values that I hold to that somehow get drowned out in the midst of a 40hr work week. I need time with people who are on the same page or at least a couple pages over from me because it inspires me to keep moving forward in the convictions I have and to not let go of those things.

6. I thrive by focusing on people not data.
If I find myself ridiculously frustrated at work, I probably haven’t made time to have a conversation with my partners or my customers. One of my managers called me out on my lack of enthusiasm and kindly pointed out this observation. Hit the nail on the head. “Keep it personal”, she said. Her words reminded me to see the one in front of me.

7. I love singing!
I like finding music I can sing along to. I love badass women with deep soulful voices. Feel free to give recommendations! But even if I don’t have lyrics to sing to…I just make something up.

8. I’m much more of a dreamer than a detail person.
This tests me very much. I can get the vision but when it comes to executing Im having to come against many faulty or unnatural ways in me. However its only stretching me in the best of ways. On the flip side I give myself space to dream. I have a dream box on the shelf I slip little pieces of paper in for this purpose.

9. Beets are good to eat before working out.
Have yet to try out this theory, but yesterday I bought a bundle of beets to give it a go. Apparently they open up the cardiovascular systems to make oxygen travel in your body easier. And I’ll take all the help I can get!

10. Blueberry bushes like companionship.
Wish I would have known this a few years back when I was given one that I excitedly planted and it anticlimactically shriveled up. One bush needs another to pollinate each other so they can bare fruit. Huh…sounds like people needing one another so we can bare good fruit. I proudly bought a self-pollinating blueberry bush a week ago. Hopefully this babe will live.


Thanks for reading. Would love to hear what you are learning too. Leave a comment with a thing or two or ten :). Or even better, link up to Emily Freeman’s blog to share your 10 with an online network.