The Call to Wholeness

At the start of this new year, I felt God speaking the word BRAVE over my life as I thought about the previous year and what I wanted to work toward in 2015. In meditating on what it means for me to ‘be brave’ in my life, I’ve been reminded of these words from the book Daring Greatly

courage

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As I talk with other women – family, friends, co-workers, clients – I’m learning the truth of this quote. To ‘be brave’ is to be authentic and vulnerable in telling our own stories, which in turns invites others to tell theirs, allowing for connection, healing, and ultimately, opening up the path toward wholeness. I don’t exactly know where to begin today, but I have felt God urging me to write about a part of my life that I have only recently begun to share with others. My prayer is that by telling the truth of my story, it will help someone out there to know they are not alone and that it’s okay to be honest about who you are and where you are in your journey. So here I go …

I’ve mentioned before that I am, by nature, a Type-A, perfectionist. I’ve been this way my entire life. I’ve held myself to a very high standard for years, and when I do something, I do it with everything I have within me. There is no half-way. It’s all or nothing.

In some ways, these are great qualities to have as I’ve accomplished a lot in my thirty years of life and have a lot to be proud of, shown by two degrees and several medals hanging on the walls of my home and work offices, just to name a couple of things.

In other ways, these qualities have been a major stumbling block as I’m often my own worst enemy, beating myself up for “not being enough” or “being too much,” and holding myself (and others) to impossibly high standards, which causes the endless cycle of doing and going and trying and working to be the best, all of the time.

The truth: Type-A and perfectionism is exhausting, and it’s not working for me anymore.

A few months ago, this happened …

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A Monday morning meeting out-of-town turned into me driving myself to the emergency room of the closest hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack. Upon walking in, tears streaming down my face, and telling the medical receptionist what was going on, I was immediately rushed back to a private room where I was hooked up to a bunch of machines and would be evaluated for the next four hours. The diagnosis: a severe panic attack.

Let me back up …

I think it would be safe to say that I have struggled with anxiety for a very long time. Anxiety is what drives the Type-A, perfectionist personality in the work to accomplish and succeed and ensure you absolutely do not fail. Ever.

But if I had to pin-point when the symptoms of my anxiety started to manifest themselves, I would say it was the summer of 2010. At that time, my current job was at-risk of losing all of the funding that supported my position and if we lost those funds, I would be laid off. We had just moved into our new house, so the pressure was on to stay financially secure. And following a period of unemployment after grad school in 2008 due to being “overqualified” and yet “not qualified enough,” I was terrified to go back to square one and have to job search again. I couldn’t sleep, I could hardly eat, I stopped running for a short time, and I didn’t want to do anything. On one of my worst days, I came home from work at 5:30 and got into bed, in my business suit and dress shoes, and just laid there exhausted but unable to sleep.

I went to the doctor and in describing my fears and symptoms, was diagnosed with anxiety. I believe “common and manageable” were the words used to give me comfort that this too would pass and I was indeed, okay.

I did end up getting laid off, by the way, in the fall of 2010. After six months of tireless searching (including a month’s sabbatical to Florida to get my head together) I finally found another job. I was doing well, feeling great, and eager to get back to work after the time off at home. Things were good for about four months when one day at work I wasn’t feeling so well and decided to leave early to get some rest. On my drive home, I started to feel a tingling sensation all over, and then I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and then everything went black. When I ‘woke up,’ I was pulled over in my SUV on the side of the two-lane highway, with absolutely no recollection of how I had gotten there and completely freaked out at what was going on. I called my husband, not making any sense and sobbing, who came and picked me up and rushed me to my doctor, again.

This time, it wasn’t just anxiety. It was a panic attack. And it felt like death. And this girl was not okay with it. At all. But I went on living life like I always had, believing that if I could just “get it together” I would be fine.

From then until about 8 months ago, I actually had managed to keep the anxiety under control for the most part. A few minor panic attacks at times – nothing to the extent that I had before. I had what I needed to take care of it if I felt it coming on in the course of a day. Some days were good. Others not so good. Such is life.

This past summer marked a year in my new (and current) job. Those first twelve months were an up and down series of events as I learned the dynamics of not only a new position, but an entirely different culture of work and of the community in which I was serving. I was putting out fires left and right, fixing things that had gone wrong in the past, and working to establish myself as the leader of this organization and department overseeing services in three different counties. But I was doing this thing, day in and day out, giving it my all, and just keeping my nose to the grindstone, trusting that eventually things would level out and get to normal.

And things did settle down. For a little while. It was during this time that one day I woke up with a headache that started at the base of my neck and worked its way up, covering the entire top of my head, and with it came horrible bouts of anxiety. This lasted for a month. No joke. The pain, tension, and panic felt debilitating and for the first time, I can honestly say I was depressed. I was so ashamed that I was feeling this way. I couldn’t understand how I felt so out of control on the inside, and yet everything on the outside was fine. It was the worst feeling in the world and it took everything within me to get through each day.

At this point in the story, I can hear you saying, “Hannah, enough already. Get help.”  But when you’re a Type-A, perfectionist, the lie you believe is that you have to keep it together and that to admit this is an ongoing problem is to admit that you are a failure, confirming your very worst fear. And for this reason, it took me awhile to admit that I had a problem and that I needed help. I’m a Social Worker by occupation – I work with people all of the time who deal with things like this and give out the best advice and support I can – and yet, I wasn’t living by what I preach to my clients and staff – the concepts of “self-care” and “self-love.” The truth of it hit me like a terrible smack across the face. I was lying to myself. And if I wanted to get better and work on overcoming this, I was going to have to do the honest, messy, and hard thing – talk about what I was experiencing and commit to the process of transformation for the long-term.

After talking to my very loving and supportive husband (he’s a saint, truly), I made the decision to call and make an appointment with a counselor. I also went back to my doctor. I explained to both that I could not live anymore with this weight of anxiety and panic on my shoulders, never knowing when it was going to happen, and that I wanted to change. For good. I also went to God about all of this, and instead of asking Him to take away the anxiety and panic, I asked Him to work out His good in the face of these challenges. I confessed my lack of trust in Him and His control over my life and that I knew the path I was on was leading to death and not life in Him. I asked Him to come and change my heart and my life for His glory and purpose.

And since taking these steps, I haven’t looked back. The very thing I was afraid to do – own up to this issue and face it head on – has been the very best thing for me to do. It’s not like all of my problems went away. But through small steps, I’m learning to cultivate grace over perfection and love over fear. I’m feeling more at ease and more like the self I want to be – a woman who is alive and free and full of life, in whatever comes my way, the perfect and the imperfect.

These days, in 2015, I’m trying to live by this …

purpose over perfect

 :: purpose over perfect ::

I am learning to let go of things that are not important in the grand scheme of life, and put my focus on what matters each and every day. I’m working on being gentler with myself and others, and embracing the imperfections of life as opportunities for God to come through in amazing ways. It’s a changing of perspective, a process of being made new, and a refreshing way of doing life because I’m realizing I can’t be and do it all, and that if I say “No,” everything will still be okay.

I know now that I’m not alone in my struggles with anxiety, panic, and even depression. I’ve talked to enough women recently – some of whom may be reading this blog today – and have been surprised to find out that many of them have faced the feelings I have. And as we talk to each other and tell our individual stories of this issue we’re dealing with, it’s been amazing to see and feel the relief that comes from opening up this part of ourselves and the connection that is made as we share our hearts with one another.

I’m still a work in progress and have a long way to go in my journey. But me writing this today is my way of saying it’s time to throw off whatever is holding us back and follow the call to wholeness. Let’s stop playing perfect and let’s just be us. Let’s be kinder to each other and to ourselves by being honest about our lives. Let’s love like never before – right here, right now – the good and the bad. And let’s live out loud, showing the world who we really are – brave, confident, lovely, wild and free women who have purpose and are not afraid to look adversity in the face and go after the abundant life God calls us to with everything we have within us, even if it means a complete 180 degree turn from where we were before. It’s time to take our joy back and live with reckless abandon for His glory.

There is hope. And it really will be okay.

Girls Day Out 2015

The winter days here in Michigan can be awfully blustery, bone-chilling cold, dark, and long. For those of us who have lived here our entire lives, we’re used to it, and manage to get through it knowing that our beloved state will eventually grace us with her majestic spring and summer seasons. But there are days. Days when it feels like the sun will never shine again and this season will never come to an end.

The cure for days like these?

Break out of the routine, get with your people, and have some fun!

For three years now, my best friend, Emily, and I have hosted a “My Favorite Things / Girls Day Out” party – inviting the wonderful women in our lives out to the ranch for an afternoon of food, fun, fellowship, and favorites! Each year it’s grown in attendance, and this event has become something all of us look forward to as a way to connect and be reminded of the good things in life!

This year, we hosted our party on Valentine’s Day! There were thirteen of us ladies who each brought four of our very favorite thing(s) – food, drink, health and beauty product, etc. After each woman described her favorite item, we wrote our names on a slips of paper and drew names until every woman had four new favorite items to take home with her! (What’s better than coming to a party with gifts and leaving with gifts too?!?)

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This year was by far our BEST Girls Day Out yet! Fabulous women, a variety of items to choose from, and delicious food to munch on (i.e. Emily’s famous homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza … YUM!) made our afternoon a huge success, and we’re already thinking ahead to what we’ll do next year!

Hosting and planning this afternoon was just the thing to cure the winter blues and break up the monotony of the season. I’m so grateful for all the women who drove out to the country on such a cold, windy day to enjoy this time together and share in some fun!

If you’re looking for something different to do – something to bring others together and learn about new things – this is a great way to do it! There’s no doubt you will all have a wonderful time and be blessed by the experience!

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A Prayer for Valentine’s Day

forever love

On this day, and every day, I pray you would know love.

The love of God,

who accepts you just as you are, right where you are, today and always.

The love of others;

who encourage, help, and inspire you to be your best each and every day.

And the love of self;

treating yourself to things that light your soul on fire and make you feel alive.

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I pray you would know how beautiful and unique you are, inside and out,

and how much you make this world a better place just by being in it.

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May you be blessed richly in the love today, friends.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

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A Return to Running

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When I began running in the spring of 2010, I had no idea of the future impact it would have on my life. At that time, I was determined to eat well, exercise, and drink tons of water in efforts to lose the weight I had put on through undergrad, the first two years of marriage, and grad school. I ran cross country for a few years in middle and high school, but had lost my fervor for it once I became involved with choir, musical theater and professional voice lessons my freshman year. So, getting back into running for me over 10 years later wasn’t exactly easy, but I was intent to keep at it because I knew it would help me shed the pounds and that I’d feel great just running any length of time and distance.

As I began running that spring, I lost an average of one pound per week, and was feeling confident and better about how I looked and felt, inside and out. From January to October 2010, I succeeded in losing a total of 40 pounds. Typing that (and saying that out-loud) even now sounds so weird. That’s the weight of a child. Crazy and amazing at the same time.

Running for me became so much more than an activity for the purpose of losing weight. It became a way to maintain health and wellness, and ultimately a therapeutic passion. Running on the open road, whether alone or with fellow runners, in the city and out in the country, made me feel empowered, invincible, and strong – like if I could run this long distance, then I could do anything. The sky was the limit. Nothing was impossible.

From 2010 to the spring of 2013, I worked my way up to running well over 20 miles per week and had managed to run numerous 5Ks, a 7K, 10Ks, and five half-marathons, accumulating various medals and achieving personal records I never thought possible – like winning a 5K and running 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 47 minutes. (If you would have told me I’d ever do these things in my life when I first began this journey, I would have laughed in your face. Seriously.)

The week following my fifth half-marathon in the spring of 2013, I went out before work on a routine training run, four miles around our country block. I was in the home-stretch when all of a sudden I felt this terrible sharp, stinging pain in my left ankle. I literally shouted out in pain and stopped. And with no cell phone on me of course, I limped the last mile home, the whole time cursing under my breath at the pain and stupidity of this, not understanding what was going on. Never before had I had anything like this happen, and I certainly was not going to let anything stop me from doing what I love. (Yea, I know, I may or may not be a little stubborn and bull-headed when it comes to my priorities.)

Later that week, I was seeing a doctor explaining my issue and getting X-rays, which revealed nothing. He diagnosed me with a bad case of tendonitis, a common problem resulting from overuse and told me to not run for six weeks, come back following the break, and then we would go from there. So I took his advice and didn’t run, and remarkably, started feeling much better. Six weeks later, I was back in the office with no symptoms, and he told me I was free to run again, easing back into it of course, and listening to my body if I experienced any discomfort.

It wasn’t long before I was running just a couple of miles, working my way back up, when the pain came on again, but this time even more severe. I felt sick to my stomach. I knew in my gut that something was not right, and I had to stop running for good and get back into the doctor immediately. So, there I was again, this time with an MRI being ordered. And lo and behold, the results showed I had a very clear stress fracture stretching the entire diagonal length of my heel on the left side. Lovely. The plan? Wear a big boot for eight weeks, don’t walk or run, and go back to see the doctor.

So I did just that. And the pain was still present after eight weeks. Sigh.

So the last plan of action was a full cast and crutches for another eight weeks. I made it about six weeks in the cast, when on my birthday of all days, it got wet in the shower from my cast protector getting a hole in it and had to come off early. (That was a fun day. NOT.)

Even after taking all of that time to rest my foot, it was still in horrible pain. To stand and walk felt like I had stepped on a nail and it was stuck in the bottom of my foot. I was devastated at the time that I had spent trying to get healed and feeling like it had all been for nothing. At that point I was no longer interested in this particular doctor’s treatment ideas, and therefore sought out a new doctor, this time an Orthopedic Surgeon. Let’s just say, this was the best decision I ever made. I wish I had gone to him sooner.

I’ve been with him since the late fall of 2013 and although it’s been a long journey, he has by far been the best person to work with on this issue. He explained to me how challenging stress fractures are on their own, but that the heel poses another issue because of the hardness and denseness of the bone. It takes a long time to heal and is known for getting better, then feeling worse, getting better, then feeling worse. Part of the healing and strengthening process will involve going hard followed by periods of rest. Not something us runners like to do, but a necessary something if we want to overcome this injury.

It’s now February 2015 and although I am still very much in recovery, I am beginning to work my way back to regular running. It feels incredible! To get on the treadmill at the gym, after months of riding a bike and lifting weights, is a breath of fresh air. I start slow, a walk at first. And then I gradually increase my speed until I get into my sweet spot and I go for as long as I can; and at the feeling or sense of any tenderness or soreness, I then back off to a walking pace. Following this, I stretch, hydrate, and then rest and tell myself, “You did it. Good job.” And then I do it again. Three times per week. Two short workouts on the Tuesday and Thursday, and a long workout on Saturday.

For the first time in a long time, I’m feeling excited about the sport I love and have missed so much. I feel hopeful that I will indeed run again and get back to training and racing again in the future. And I feel grateful for the ability to even run a mile or two (versus the four to six I would do on an average training run). Right now, it’s all about appreciating this physical gift God has given me and enjoying every opportunity I have to get out there and do it.

There is no doubt that running very much became an idol to me. As great as the sport is and as much as I love it, I often put this above anything else and made it my god versus giving God the proper place in my life. In not being able to run, I’ve had to find other ways of getting my exercise in, and I have come to really enjoy spinning, yoga, and more recently this contraption called the ARC trainer which will kick your butt and make you sweat like you wouldn’t even believe. Using that machine makes me hurt all over, but in a good way. LOL.

In taking my focus off of running, God also has enabled me to develop in my other gifts and passions – like revamping this beloved blog space, writing / publishing my eBook, and connecting with other creatives who share my heart for faith, inspiration, leadership, and serving. I’m so thankful for the Influence Network and the women I have been introduced to who spur me on to go after my dreams and accomplish the mission and purpose God has for my life.

I can now look back at the past 20 months of dealing with this challenge, and see God’s hand over all of the ups and downs that come with both the injury itself and the recovery process. While I believe God will allow me to run again, my heart toward the sport has changed. I still love it. It’s still a passion of mine and fires me up. But it’s not my everything. It’s simply a means to living a balanced, fit, healthy, and whole life in Him. It’s truly a gift. And for the time that He has given me to do this, no matter how short or long the distance, or how slow or fast the speed, I am going to honor Him in this and praise Him for it all.

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Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV

On Travel, Real Life, and Where It’s At

Good Saturday morning, friends! I hope all of you are doing well at the start of this weekend. It’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote, as the hubby and I were on vacation the past two weekends. Today I thought I’d share a little bit about our trip and catch up on life here in the blogosphere!

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Overall, our trip was a wonderful time away, filled with adventure, new sights, and beautiful, warm weather. We flew to Las Vegas on Saturday, January 17 and stayed there until the following Thursday morning. This portion of the trip included my husband’s six college students being with us as they presented in the NAHB International Builders’ Show Residential Construction Management Competition and attended the show itself for that period of time. While they practiced and prepared for their big moment, I took advantage of the downtime to workout, sit by the pool and read, swim, and nap in our giant king-size bed that felt like a cloud!  Once the work was done (and I was refreshed from my beauty sleep), we headed out to enjoy our evenings on the strip, revisiting some of our favorite places and venturing into a couple of new ones for dinner and even some dancing this time around. It was great fun and the students were an absolute hoot to be around. I’m glad I got to meet them after hearing so much about them from my hubby over the course of the previous semester.

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When the students left Thursday morning, the hubby and I road-tripped our way through the desert to Southern California to take in some different sites. We made our way to the Pacific Ocean, visiting Dana Point Harbor where we caught the most incredible sunset. Pink and purple. Gold and Amber. Blue and then black. It was MAJESTIC. I was in absolute awe and wonder as I watched the sun gradually descend upon the huge expanse of sea. It’s definitely something I will never forget and will always cherish sharing with my man.

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From Dana Point, we then drove down the coast just a few miles to San Clemente where we treated ourselves to a fantastic fresh fish dinner on the pier. Again, incredible! To be on the ocean in January … PRICELESS! Loved every minute of our time seaside.

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Our last full free day was Friday, January 23 and we decided to cross Disneyland off of our bucket list. We’ve seen every park in Florida (more than once), but had yet to visit the parks in California, so we made sure to fit this in so we could finally say, “We’ve seen all of the U.S. Disney Parks!” LOL! As expected, it was magical and brought out the kid in us as we rode rides and walked to the beat of those cheerful tunes playing throughout the three parks. We were both so tired after a full day on our feet, but it was worth every minute of it. After all, who can resist a chance to visit “the happiest place on earth?”

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We woke early the morning of Saturday, January 24 and drove back through the desert to Las Vegas, where we got on our plane and flew directly back to our home state of Michigan, still basking in all of the excitement of the past week.

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This trip was definitely busy with activity and driving, but it was so good for us. It was a great way to begin the new year. Getting away together in the dead of winter and taking in the sunshine and warm air was refreshing and uplifting in and of itself. Being in the car just the two of us, talking and laughing over things together, was also a blessing. The time I spent by the pool reading Make It Happen and working on my 2015 Power Sheets over Starbucks each morning was also one of my favorite aspects of the trip because it gave me time and space to really dive into what’s on my heart for this coming year and put my focus on what matters. Processing my dreams and goals and vision for the months to come in this time away made me realize how distracted I can get when I’m at home, and even at work; how easy it is to get off track, make mountains out of mole hills, and forget my purpose entirely. And for this new year, I’m really praying to be intentional with how I spend my time and my days so that I can truly be in tune with God and have all that I do, say, think, feel flow from a place of resting in Him.

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I thought I would have a hard time jumping back into real life following such a wild and free time away from the constraints of home and work, not to mention the three-hour time difference (oh, and the 50 degrees warmer temperature, just saying), but it’s been quite the opposite. This trip gave me a renewed passion and zest for the every day, mundane, real life stuff. Having the opportunity to be away reminded me of all the good things going on all around me, at home and in my workplace, and with my family and friends. Stepping away from the demands, giving myself the grace and permission to rest and unwind, trying new things (like dancing the night away at a fancy Vegas venue), and letting my inner child come out at Disneyland showed me that life is happening RIGHT NOW. This is it. The time is NOW. To let go. To say “YES” to the adventure God has in store for me this coming year. To make my IT happen.

There is no better day than today. And every day that I have here on this big beautiful planet is the day to live bold, brave, wild and free.

Before I close, let me say this: I absolutely ADORE travel. Traveling is one of my love languages. I need it like I need air. It’s a very important part of my life … BUT here’s something I also know and believe with all of my heart …

Real life is where it’s at, friends.

Your real life, wherever you are, in whatever season you may be in. Right here, right now. This is where it’s at.

Our real life is the good life. 

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As I get back into the swing of things post-vacation, I’m keeping these revelations in mind and moving forward with intent to follow hard after God and go for ‘life to the full’ with everything that I have inside of me. I want every day to be a grand adventure, an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself, and a chance to shed light wherever I go.

This is what real life is to me. This is what ‘living the good life’ means to me. And this is where it’s at for me.

Making Things Happen in 2015

Good morning, friends! I mentioned in my post last week that I had begun participating in Lara Casey’s #2015GoalSetting series. This process is one I so looked forward to after jumping into it for the first time last year. In working through my PowerSheets, I’m here today to share what I came up with to make things happen in 2015!

2015 Goal Setting

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Step 1: What worked in 2014? What am I grateful for and what good things happened in 2014?

  • You can check out all the good things from last year in my 2014 Year in Review post.
  • I’m grateful for beginning to learn the rhythms of grace and rest, and putting them into practice, as I journeyed through 2014.

Step 2: What didn’t work in 2014?

  • Letting circumstances (and often people) getting the best of me and stealing my joy.
  • Not letting go of control and trying to force change where change is not welcomed, at least at this time.
  • Playing small. Not always being true to myself and who God calls me to be.
  • Anxiety and tension that resulted from built up frustration and lack of emotional and mental self-care.

Step 3: Get Visual

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:: my 2015 vision board ::

Step 4: What I Learned from What Worked

  • God provides a way for us to learn the lessons and truths we are not able to learn on our own. I feel that God has taken away some things from me (for a time) in order to make it possible for me to develop and grow in other areas, and trust Him through the process. It doesn’t always feel like He’s with us when we’re going through the challenges that come with loss and things being stripped away, but as I look back, I see just how far He’s brought me and what amazing things He accomplished in and through me this past year.
  • Life is happening all around me. God is working good every day, all of the time. Making the choice to look for Him and be still and present opens the way to joy and peace.
  • It’s okay to say, “I need help,” and take time to work on me (practice self-care). I’m not perfect and I can’t do it all. I have limits and I need to take care of myself on all levels – mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Being honest with myself and others about my limitations and vulnerabilities opens the door to connection, healing, and ultimately wholeness.
  • I need to do more of what fires me up and makes me happy. These are the things that give me energy and restore my zest my life. They keep me focused on what matters and give fuel to my heart, mind, and soul.

Step 5: What I Learned from What Didn’t Work

  • God calls me to surrender to Him and trust in Him. For ALL the things. When I am not looking to Him or walking with Him, I stumble and fall. Life doesn’t work when I am not abiding and remaining in Him.
  • God calls me “Redeemed” and to be BRAVE. No more playing small. I need to live as the woman He calls me to be.
  • It’s okay to “take a day.” A random day here and there to rest and regroup is just plain good for the soul and prevents burnout.
  • The time to go after my dreams is RIGHT NOW. Life is not slowing down. God has a plan for my life and has given me glimpses and desires to pursue in His name. It’s time to chase hard after Him and what He has in store for me now and into the future.

Step 6: What Fires Me Up?

  • So many things light a fire in my soul, but I’ll name just a few here: early morning workouts, coffee, quiet time with God, bible journaling, spending time with my hubby, family, and friends, dancing, laughing until I cry, traveling, photography, blogging, writing, reading great books, watching good chick flicks, listening to music, dreaming BIG, social and community change, sparkles, bright colors, and inspiring / serving / helping others.
  • To see more things that fire me up, check out my Pinterest board here.

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Step 7: What is my 2015 Vision?

My word for 2015 is BRAVE.

I will be BRAVE in the pursuit of God and the plan and purpose He has for my life. I will be BRAVE in saying “Yes” to the adventure that God has in store for me. I will be BRAVE in prayer, asking God for the deepest desires of my heart, for myself and others. I will be BRAVE in becoming the woman God desires me to be in every area of my life: marriage, family, friendships, career, hobbies, etc. I will be BRAVE in standing up for the things of God and being a light to the world around me. I will be BRAVE in loving and serving others well, sharing the Good News through my actions, prayers, and speech. I will be BRAVE in not settling for anything less than God’s absolute best for my life. I will be BRAVE in trusting God and surrendering myself to His power and authority, relinquishing control and no longer doing things in my own strength. I will be BRAVE in saying “No” to anxiety, fear, and worry.

My vision for 2015 is to be a BRAVE, warrior-princess, daughter of the King who loves God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength and allows all that I do to flow from this place.

I pray to be BRAVE in all things, living a good, free, and full life, influencing and inspiring others for His glory throughout the journey.

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Step 8: What Am I Saying “No” to in 2015?

  • Playing small and standing on the sidelines of life.
  • Settling for less than God’s best for my life.
  • Anxiety. Tension. Depression. Letting stress get the best of me.
  • Perfection.
  • Burnout.
  • Fear and doubt.
  • Taking on things that I cannot do and that are others’ responsibilities.

Step 9: What Am I Saying “Yes” to in 2015?

  • Saying “YES” to God.
  • Self-care, on all fronts.
  • Grace and rest. Without guilt and shame.
  • Being present.
  • More whimsy.
  • Making time for the things that fire me up and that I crave doing.
  • Collaboration, dreaming, networking, planning, researching, and vision-casting for the next phase of my career.

Step 10: Plant Seeds and Create Legacy

  • Be a woman of influence and inspiration in every area of my life.
  • Use social media (blogging, Facebook, and Instagram) to speak life and truth to others.
  • Serve others well using my education, gifts, talents, and skills.
  • Invite others to participate in the adventure of this thing called life alongside me.
  • Take bold risks for His glory and live to tell about it.

Step 11: Define my ‘radical’

This year, I very much want to start working toward the next phase of my career. I believe I’m being called to the place where my education, work experience, knowledge, and skills intersects with my passions of creating / writing and encouraging, empowering, and inspiring others. So my “radical” is to take the steps needed to become a full-time consultant and blogger / writer to help others “live the good life” – whether it’s in their personal or professional spheres.

I love goal-setting, dreaming big, and seeing others come alive as they do the things that fire them up and create positive change for their lives. This is, indeed, what I most love about social work – the opportunity to serve people and show them that change, and the “more” they are looking for in life, is possible.

I plan to engage with and learn from others who do this work independently and take those steps to make this dream career a reality for myself.

2015

Step 12: Sing Loud!

My song for 2015 is “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music featuring Amanda Cook, as the lyrics fit my heart for this year perfectly …

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
Your grace

You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made

brave

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Step 13 + 14: Review + Set Good Goals

Spiritual: More of Jesus – His presence, power, vision, voice, and Word – in EVERY area of my life. Praying bold and BRAVE prayers – lifting all things up to Him – no matter how big or how small. Connection – worship, fellowship, church, participation with The Influence Network and through other forms of social media, and Bible studies. Speaking life and truth – and LIVING it out – for His glory.

Marriage / Family / Friends / Home: Increasing connection time with my husband – making time to date and be present with one another and experiencing new things together – keeping the spark of fun and romance and team-work alive and vibrant. Making more time for loved ones – visiting friends and family, hosting gatherings at our home and at our up north abode, getting out of our comfort zone and trying new things and going new places with others. Finishing the home projects on our list to make our space the best place it can be and a sanctuary for us to enjoy to the fullest in every season.

Health: Practicing self-care on all levels. Making room for things that are life-giving and soul-inspiring. Allowing myself more grace, time, and space to take breaks when needed. Recovering fully from injury and being able to run, stand, and walk again without pain.

Financial: Continuing on the path of being smart and savvy with our finances – not spending unnecessary money on things that don’t matter and building and saving for the things that do matter. Paying down student loans, if not getting rid of them entirely. Discuss our long-term financial investments and plans on a regular basis to keep our dreams a priority.

Professional: Finishing the process required to apply for and obtain my LMSW (by the end of April). Serving the community and developing my skills in a new capacity by participating on a Board of Directors. Continuing to pursue my long-term goal of having my own business through the accomplishment of full-licensure, networking, engaging in new endeavors, taking classes and continuing education, and enhancing my leadership and management skills.

Fun / Social: Blogging. Writing. Photography. Traveling. Coffee and Tea Dates. Laughing. Playing. Creating. Exploring. Believing. Serving. Inspiring. Dreaming.

purpose

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So, there you have it, friends – my heart and soul poured out in words for what it will take for me to make things happen in 2015!

I’d love to hear about your goals and dreams for this year. What are you doing to make things happen in 2015?

As Lara Casey says, “Purpose over perfect.” Let’s enjoy the journey over the next twelve months and give ourselves grace to be present and trust the process as He works His good and glory out in our lives. Amazing things await … I can feel it!

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This will be my last post for the next two weeks as I’m going on a little vacation with the hubby!

See you when I return, friends!

Happy New Year!

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Hooray! 2015 is HERE! Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope all of you celebrated a fabulous end to 2014 and welcomed 2015 in with much gladness and joy!

I’ve mentioned on here before how much I LOVE fresh starts and new beginnings. Really any day can be the start of something great, and I tend to look at life like that, seeing the beginning of an ordinary week or the beginning of a month as an opportunity for new adventures and possibilities.

But the start of a new year, for me, is always a very special time. I dedicate this holiday to spending quiet time with God dreaming, praying, thinking, and vision-casting for the days and months ahead. I don’t set resolutions, but rather, goals that fit with what I sense God is wanting to work out in my heart and life at this present time and into the future. And while I aim to accomplish those goals throughout the year, and hold myself accountable to them by sharing them on here or in my journal and with family and friends, I also accept that God has a specific plan and purpose for my life, and that what I dream for myself is but merely the tip of the iceberg of what He dreams for me. In looking back at previous years (the goals I set and where I ended up), I see how good and faithful God is to taking me beyond what I ever dreamed for myself, and that fuels my fire to dream bigger and pray more bold and risky prayers for the next year.

So, that’s where this first weekend of 2015 finds me. I’m diving into my 2015 PowerSheets and have started the #2015GoalSetting process with the fabulous Lara Casey. I’ve made a vision board to hang in my walk-in closet where I can see it every day to keep my perspective on what truly matters, and I am continuing to put together a Making Things Happen in 2015 Pinterest Board. In future posts, I’ll be sharing what God has revealed to me through this intentional process for the coming year!

How are you preparing for the next twelve months, and what things are you dreaming of for 2015?

Cheers to making it the best year yet, friends!

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P.S. Here’s a post from the amazing Jess Connolly that may inspire you too! Enjoy!

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“For I know the plans I have for you,”

declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV