Vulnerability: a Great Reblog Read

Kia Stephens is one of my LIT sisters–a woman who attended the LIT conference put on by Living Proof Ministries last February. I have the honor of introducing her to you in a guest post today. I love her heart–turning those who have been hurt by their fathers to the Good Father Himself. I hope […]

via Three Ways Being Vulnerable Might Change Your Life: A Guest Post by Kia Stephens — Glimpses of Jesus

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Connections

We spent a few wonderful days with our Wisconsin friends. Our story is an amazing one of adoption and reunion. Our boys spent time together in an orphanage overseas. Their friendship started as little tots. A phone call led to a planned meeting at a Goodwill store in Wisconsin as we drove home from a trip out West. The boys touched each other in amazement that first reconnection encounter as though wondering if the moment was truly real. We spent several days together after that initial reconnection and made a commitment to get together yearly for our sons.

The truth is, we enjoy each other’s company just as much as we delight in seeing our boys reunited and interacting. There is no day to day drama to deal with. They simply enjoy their time together. As parents, we share our adoption stories and parenting struggles, but we laugh, too, and for a few days, just do life together.

We laugh, joking…you know, we could have thought you guys were crazy!! It is our joke but also our expression of gratitude for this friendship between boys, between parents, between families.

God has used our son’s adoption to bless us in so many ways. This gift of connection is a gift of friendship. It a special story of hope, answered prayers, and dreams fulfilled. 

Our boys…the connection to bridge our life stories. 

God is an amazing God of connection.

Exposed

I am on vacation. So, why, oh why does my body insist on me being awake at 6:30? 🤔 And to add to this, there is a time change so it was really just 5:30 when I popped out of bed, mind already racing with thoughts.

We are staying in a restored farmhouse tucked away in the woods. Our friends whose son is also from the same orphanage as our son are here with us. It is a great time of fellowship with family and friends.

I find that I best disconnect from my day to day life in places like this. I need to be in the nature, away from the noises of the world. 

This morning, sleep is eluding me so I have escaped to the basement. Here, it is quiet…just me and my thoughts.

Down here, I look up at the ceiling. Everything is exposed. Nothing is hidden.

Have you ever felt like this? My friend and I have talked about feeling as though our lives are being peeled away layer by layer much like an onion. As I pray to grow closer to God, things about myself, areas in my life, suddenly feel very exposed.

The definition of expose is to make something visible. When things and areas in our lives become exposed even if just to our own awareness, it can leave us feeling vulnerable. Typically, I think most people would agree, this doesn’t feel good. When we feel emotions of guilt, shame, anxiety, weakness…it doesn’t feel very comforting. 

I came across this passage in the Psalms…

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24

The psalmist was inviting God to search his thoughts, to expose anything of offense. Why would he ask this knowing God already knows? I believe when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, when we willingly invite God to examine our hearts and lives, I believe He will expose areas in our lives that may feel much like layers of an onion being peeled back.

I look up at the open ceiling again. I can see the light bulb. I see wires, a nail, a cobweb. Nothing is hidden from my sight. 

Are we willing to be this transparent with God? With others whom we trust who can help us grow? 

Feeling exposed isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is what we do with these feelings that makes all the difference in our lives. When we understand how our behaviors and feelings impact our motivations and actions, then we can understand and begin to make changes.

For example, being told I second guess myself by someone initially upset me, but as I prayed and reflected over it, I have been able to see and understand the reasons I have second guessed myself and to now change my thinking.

Being brave enough to confront our areas of exposure in our lives can open doors to some exciting opportunities for personal, professional, emotional, and spiritual growth. Keeping a prayer journal, having a prayer partner, and spending time with God in spaces where you can disconnect from the flow of life even if just for a few minutes, will help funnel exposure into growth.

Are you willing to invite God to search your heart and thoughts? You don’t have to walk this journey alone.

Solitude

Solitude. 

Sometimes, I just need stillness.

Silence. Do you find it comforting or does it make you uncomfortable?

At my writing group the other day, my friend captured the essence of why I must write.

She said… I find writing a time of solitude to connect with my inner self.

Sometimes,  I feel as though I will emotionally burst if I do not write. I keep a prayer journal. I write poetry. I blog. I write devotionals.

Writing is sweet release. It is also my sacred time of quiet solitude.

As my friends and I talked about solitude and silence, one of them made the comment that some people can’t handle long commutes because of the solitude. I look forward to the quiet of my commute. I pray. I listen to music. I think. I calm my thoughts.

Connection with others is a great thing, but sometimes you need solitude to reconnect with yourself first. In these quiet moments, I can pray. I can calmly breathe. I can put things in perspective. I remember Who is in control. 

This morning as I prepare for a whirlwind of a day, I take these few moments of solitude to refocus. Everything will be okay.

In what ways do you find your own place of solitude?

A Road Less Traveled

A bridge construction project blocked off a major road forcing me to choose an alternative route along a path seldom traveled. As I drove, rows of purple and yellow flowers classified as weeds by many lined the road. As the sun shone and illuminated their colors, and they swayed in the gentle wind, I reflected on the beauty in perspective. 

Often times those things in life which are difficult create beautiful growth in our lives. It’s all a matter of perspective. 

I had coffee with someone this morning who I had met while working in a difficult job situation. God allowed our paths to cross and continues to use our connection for His good. This country drive with the rural flowers was on my way to a funeral visitation. While there, God reminded me that He is using me to touch lives.

My stomach issues…the reason I started this blog…have been used to connect me to others in my life.

Even my anxiety has been used for His good as I continue to grow and work through things in my life.

Sometimes, life doesn’t always take us the way we intended, but a road less traveled may have blessings along the way.

The Sign Lady

There is a sign that I passed every day on the way to work, and on this sign are names of people and their birthdays and  anniversaries. It’s in a rural area. I don’t even know if you can call it a town. It’s a small area with a Catholic school, a meat market, a huge cemetery, a carry out and a few small businesses but nothing much more. 

I met this sign lady who changes the sign every morning at a musical event at the nursing home where I worked. After that, sometimes I would see her in the morning changing her sign. She highlights people’s everyday events…their birthdays and anniversaries. These are things that matter to people. She cares enough to remember their important dates of their life stories.

 I think sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget that everyday moments matter. Facebook is a great way to connect with people but it’s also easy to get lost in other people’s lives. We forget that Facebook is a reel of the highlights of their life. It captures their special moments, the good stuff in their life. There are some people who put their dirty laundry on Facebook, but the majority of people like to put pictures of kids, vacations, and the special events. Most people don’t put the areas in their life where they are hurting or struggling. I think we all need reminded that our lives are unique and matter. The ordinary every day stuff matters.

I took a different way home tonight after my chiropractic appointment, and I passed the sign. I haven’t seen that sign in quite a while since I changed jobs. I smiled as I passed the sign. The sign reminded me that everyday moments matter, and this woman is still changing her sign everyday. 

Connections are everything. Without each other life just isn’t as easy. God gives us one another to lean on in the toughest of times and to share everyday moments. Sometimes simply to be with one another is what we need.

This sign lady definitely has a unique ministry. Each of us have the opportunity to touch lives every day.