Coming Out of The Shadows

Change….it’s hard. There is so much to it. Overriding uncertainty and fear, being courageous, taking a step, acceptance that you may not be where you want to be, but how are you going to get there if you never begin?

I bought myself a curriculum suggetsted by my therapist called, The Artist’s Way. It is written by Julia Cameron, a screen writer, and it is somewhat of a hands-on classic for blocked artists. Cameron suggests writing three large amounts of “pages” everyday to get un stuck. It doesn’t matter if you are a writer, a musician a painter, a dancer, what ever your art form, the writing is a necessary means to a desired end.

The curriculum was suggested because I needed time to, drain my brain, as my therapist said, but it has been so encouraging to me as I have stepped out in many areas of creativity lately- I highly recommend it to anyone who is afraid to develop those deep desired aspirations.

This is what Cameron says to affirm those afraid to take themselves seriously in any realm of creativity.

“In order to move a way from the realm of the shadows into light of creativity, shadow artists must learn to take themselves seriously. With gentle, deliberate effort, they must nurture their artist child. Creativity is play, but for shadow artists, learning to allow themselves to play is hard work.”

This statement is so true of me! On one hand, I take myself way too seriously, on the other, I haven’t taken my desires, gifts and talents serious enough. On one hand, I have spent literal hours and years, alone, practicing, writing, singing, playing, taking lessons to improve, on the other hand, I have so easily hidden in my fear and have not wanted to step onto center stage using the excuse, “someone is always better than I am.”

A lot has changed in my life over the last four years. A cataclysmic event in my life, cloaked in the appearance of a “bad” thing, actually turned out to be an open door of hope and change in my life. I do not want to discount how, in many ways, it was a hurtful event, to many people because it was. But what are we supposed to do with the shadows of our life? Hide in them? Blame them? Avoid them at all costs? I don’t think so. I think we are to, as Henri Nouwen says, in so many ways, embrace the shadows and the light together. Life is full of both and both are intended to be lessons to us.

The event in my life was a glaring signal that something needed to change. Many things infact needed to change…first, me. I was living a false-self life. I had desires and dreams, but I had for years stuffed them so far down to my toes, thinking they were selfish instead of, ‘desires of my heart’, God had perhaps placed there.

Allowing myself to say, I do not want the next 25 years to be the way the first twenty-five were, was very new for me. It was liberating. I didn’t go about it all the right way, for sure. But when we take actions to grow and change, ripples occur and affect those we surround ourselves with.

I have decided I want to take positive actions that affect myself and the ones I love in a positive way- those are my perimeters after trying to change in a destructive way. It is not easy, change never is, but it doesn’t have the negative ramifications surrounding it like bad choices to change, have.

Just one aspect of this change is found in our new hobby of playing as a family band in local venues. My family has played in worship settings for years, and still continue to. But we have recently created a set list of music, that is meaningful to us as a family, and stepped out to share our love of music together with the community.

We play rock classics, pop songs, jazz and originals that give a back story of the things we have been through as a couple and a family and it has been met with encouragement and huge support. I, for many years, was a drummer for bands. Although I would still sing from, ‘behind the band’, even lead or sing my own songs, I always had the comfort of the first layer of musicians in front of me to keep me in the shadows. I couldn’t see the faces of those we were playing to very easily and that was fine with me!

Coming out of the shadows right now for me means, stepping out in the courage that I have been given something important to say and share. That my life counts, that I have a message and that there are others who need comfort from hearing it. Ultimately, Jesus continues to use my life, bring me out of the shadows and in to all that He has destined for me to be and for me to do. In the process, I am empathetic to others and can comfort others with the comfort I have received. Ultimately, that is what I think shadows were created for. When shadows are exposed to light, you see all the beauty, life and detail that was always laying quietly there all along<3

A Beautiful Heart in 2020

I am re-posting this Valentine’s Day blog from two years ago. My husband and I have been on such a transparent journey of restoration, independently and together, over the last four years.

What I didn’t write in the original blog was that any card exchanging, in the last four years, has been very difficult thing. Card writers are getting much better at creating messages that are more true to real life relationships than the super sugary words that were the norm, and that helps a lot. If you have struggled in your relationship with your significant other or if you if you haven’t- I hope you find truth and encouragement from what I have written<3 Happy Valentine’s Day 2020.

My husband gave me a card today, inside it said,  you have a beautiful heart. If I read that on a great day, being in a euphoric state of mind, it would have been humbling. But I read it today. Today which came after last night, in which we had quite a spirited argument.  I woke up just as angry as I went to sleep, even though we both take “do not let the sun go down on your anger” quite literally!

My heart wasn’t beautiful! I had a card for my husband, but I couldn’t bring myself to give it to him. When I write something or give a card, I have to be in complete agreement with it- if I am not, it would be a false representation. But he not only left this card for me to read, he wrote in it one of the most expressive notes I have ever received from him! It was extremely real, loving, kind and humbling. No one knows me better than him and no one sees the whole package like he does….and yet, he calls it beautiful.

We took time to pray before we went to work today, we prayed through, until all of the misunderstandings had subsided and the peace that surpasses all understanding guarded our hearts and minds once again. This is new for us. We didn’t used to allow work to wait before and we allowed other matters to have preeminence over our relationship. This was the right thing to do! Ask for forgiveness- Go to God and say we are weak, our wisdom lacks and He is the answer!

To tell you the truth, the card and my husband’s expression reminded me so much of Jesus. He thinks my heart is beautiful too no matter what! He doesn’t look on the outward appearance, but He looks at my heart. That is solid and mature and I am not always there. This Valentines day, is such a great reminder of that other-worldly love. A love that dies to self so others can live. A love, not always sexy and romantic the way we think of love, but solid, mature, and always there no matter what. It’s rare and I am humbled to have such beautiful hearts hold mine<3

Redeeming Kahle Lake

Is it important to redeem something that has been lost? I suppose there are some qualifiers to that question.

If the redeeming process would bring some kind of harm to another, it would have to be well thought out and caution would be in order.

But what if certain places or certain locations, were keeping you in a bit of anxiety or turmoil when you went near them or when you thought about them?

I have been intentional about facing those very types of situations in recent years. Because of difficult situations that were going on in my life, and the choices I made during those particular times in specific locations, even the thought of the area would bring me a certain amount of stress and I would want to avoid.

Since I have been on a journey of health and wholeness, alarms go off in my mind when I feel resistance like, avoidance, toward anyone, anything, or any place. I have learned to stop and ask myself what is going on inside of me. Many times, it would be so much easier to override the pricks in my consciousness and stay busy. But I believe, as we take the courage to face “the giants” in our lives, we will find they are not giants at all just really loud naysayers who want to keep us from walking in courage and truth. Even if those naysayers come in the form of our own thoughts.

So, in that spirit, I made peace with a particular lake this week. Let me explain. I have been working on taking care of myself, giving myself what I need to create a peace reservoir. I have been taking three large pieces of paper a day to write…just so I write. I have been indulging in little things that make me happy like, a container of raspberries or a massage or a new, fun pair of socks!

So there was this particular lake that I needed to make peace with and redeem for this new chapter of my life. It is a beautiful area and I do not want the beauty to be avoided or be mingled with a residue from the past. So, just as I would prepare to have a date with my husband by making breakfast, making a carafe of coffee and a tote of applicable accessories; as well as a journal, book and Bible and head to a beautiful scenic area (okay, maybe our dates are a little different than most:), so I did, by myself, to this memorable lake.

I had so many thoughts on the way and an excitement about how God would meet me there. I was there for a good hour and half alone, writing away, enjoying my yogurt topped with berries and almonds drinking my coffee. when the first ice fisherman appeared

I know that many in our area ice fish, but I never saw the process….I actually never did see the whole process. The man dressed in Camo emerged and opened the gate of his pick -up truck to grab his auger and hammer and head down to the ice. He walked out onto the ice cautiously kind of shaking each leg as he moved slowly forward. He pulled out his auger and began to corkscrew the ice close to where he was standing. He stopped, took a thoughtful look around and realizing that the ice was too thin so he moved on. Two other sets of ice fisherman did the same thing. I guess the ice was just too thin for safe fish retrieval, good call.

Each time the fishermen would come, I would watch them for a bit and return to my writing. I wrote all kinds of things. The feelings I was having as I took in all that was going on around me. The gratefulness of being able to drive there and spend hours alone. The recognition that I was not the same person who was there years before.

While I was there, I got a text from a friend who encouraged me to listen to a podcast from Zig Ziglar on the importance of telling your story and encouraged me to continue to tell my story to help others who may find hope in it. I took the next hour to listen to that podcast and was inspired to write this very blog because of it.

So the question looms, why should we redeem? Well, I personally feel that it is a travesty to compartmentalize segments of your life as, off limits, because you abdicated something or had something taken from you. It probably stems from the spiritual foundation that God is all about redeeming.

For example, when there is a devastating forest fire and all seems lost, with in just a few years, there is a return of lush woodland and new life. Beauty from ashes.

We happen to live in an area where oil was first discovered. During the Oil Boon the creeks and streams were so polluted that it exterminated the wild life and threatened the welfare of towns who purposely built along those very waterways. The once flourishing towns became ghost villages almost overnight and the water was poisonous for years. But after years passed, the once unsafe water has become safe and crystal clean brimming with new life.

Jesus came to redeem us to God. God so loved us that He sent His son to buy us back, to recover us, to exchange His life for ours, and to convert us into His image. No matter how broken or messy our lives had become, He wants to create new life out of them, a life that matters, a life that positively affects other lives…He wants to redeem.

No area, thing, or relationship is beyond redemption. I believe, because I have seen it over and over in my life, that if I have an open mind and a willing heart, things once lost can be recovered and used for good. Just as ashes can produce life to new seedlings, broken pieces of our lives can create a whole new marvelous mosaic.

Kahle Lake was really a small redemption for me in the scheme of things but it already has a new set of memories and enthusiasm tied to it. It may take many days, months, or even years, but everything has the ability to be redeemed, used for a new purpose and bring new life.