On my silence

I’ve taken somewhat of a sabbatical from blogging the last six months or so. (With the exception of posts for Rhema every now and then because I’m the student blogger.)

Writing everyday was supposed to help me find my voice. And it did a great job of developing my follow through muscles, which were disgracefully atrophied at the time. 

I am truly grateful for that sweet season. It was necessary and life-giving and a ton of fun. 

 At almost 27, though, it seems that the journey to find my voice, my path, has me in the thickest patch of woods right now. All scratched up, running into branches and scary spiderwebs (the kind you don’t see until it’s too late). 

And whenever I write, I have this habit of spinning things to show only the rosy side of life. I discovered in one of my classes this year on personality types that  this trait is quite common amongst folks with my personality type. 

It serves me well 90% of the time. I can’t help but see the good and in this dark world that’s a true gift. 

However, when your own path is dim and you can’t find your way, tripping over your own feet, it’s hard to add a positive spin. 

Not just hard but exhausting. You feel dishonest and unsure what to do with yourself and words that are rosy but not really true. 

So I took some time off. This summer I want to hop back in to more frequent  writing. 

Still not sure what it will look like but I didn’t know the first time around either! 

Thanks for sticking around and understanding. Ready for a new adventure? So am I. 

Creating Realistic Goals

I have a bad habit of setting up unrealistic goals for myself. 

There’s nothing wrong with setting goals that stretch you, but be careful to not beat yourself up during the stretching process. 

I am working on a writing project that is definitely stretching me!

The project is helping a phD candidate in an electrical engineering program turn his research into a written dissertation. 

Reading the material and translating the data takes time–which means that setting realistic goals is important. 

I’ve been working on this project less than a week and I’ve already logged in 5 hours. 

Setting realistic goals keeps you and your project collaborators on the same page. 

There’s also no shame in being honest about your limitations and potential time constraints. 

I already know that having this proposal completely finished by Friday (what we agreed upon last Saturday) will not happen. 

I am working diligently to get as much done as possible, but I have also communicated this fact to my employer, the student. 

What I am learning as I begin this journey is that you can never go wrong in planning and goal setting by telling the truth. 

Time to Get Honest

 Let me be the first to say that I’m the queen of Fine-and-Okay Land. When something’s not fine and okay, the LAST thing I want to do is talk about it. 

So I won’t–if I’m not pushed.

Sharing our stories, our struggles, is not always fun or easy. 

But I honestly believe that the reason most of us never move past the past, especially Christians, is because we never allow ourselves to be fully known, we never share our struggles.

Of course, I’m not advocating running around sharing the most intimate details of our lives with complete strangers. I’m assuming (this might be a big leap) that we all are aware that healthy boundaries are vital. 

And here’s the moment I get really honest…

Most Christians destroy any opportunity to keep a conversation going. 

Let me demonstrate:

Me: How are you doing today?

Hat Lady: I’m blessed and highly favored, the head and not the tail, above and not beneath…

Me: Oh…my day stunk.

The conversation just died right there.

Yes, Christians are all of the things Hat Lady just said. I firmly and fully believe it.

Though, how are we going to encourage an atmosphere of openness in our churches when the conversation dies in less than 5 seconds? 

If the desire of our heart is to have a church overflowing with hurting and broken people, we need to be more honest and become better listeners.

Isn’t this the cry of every church? To be filled with broken hearted people who need Jesus to rock their worlds?

Here’s what I’m not saying: Stay stuck in your past. Always talk about it and never change. 

Jesus Christ can and will redeem and restore you no matter how broken you are.

This doesn’t change the fact that broken hearts take time to heal.

What better place to heal than in a loving family of fellow believers who are committed to listening and helping each other move toward the best God has for us?

 

 

 

 

 

Hodgepodge Monday

My mind’s been all over the place, which means piecing together a normal string of thoughts is next to impossible. 
Here are 3 things I’ve been chewing on:

  • The importance of my words. 

There were several times today that I really needed to shut up. I ended up saying a few things that would’ve been better left unsaid. 

On Sunday, Bob Goff talked about transferring $500 to any person he has a critical word for because words always cost us something. 

Obviously, I can’t transfer that kind of money but Bob’s right. Our words have a high cost. 

  • Learning to be more honest with myself. 

I am a recovering feelings stuffer. Not owning up to what’s happening in me and around me is what I’m naturally good at doing.

 This is not healthy, of course, which is why I have a network of trusted friends and family to help me. 

  • I can’t believe JoJo didn’t get the final rose on The Bachelor!

Yes, I watched The Bachelor this season and got sucked into the craziness of Bachelor Nation. 

And I just knew JoJo was the one…

Oh well! She’s the newest bachelorette, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens there. 

What are some things on your mind today?

Fences versus Prisons

“I’m cool with whatever. You decide.”

My friend looked at me with gracious (and patient) eyes as I sidestepped her question.

“I wish you’d tell me what you’re really thinking.”

The comment took me aback.

I am terrible at telling people what’s really going on inside of my head.

Never giving your input isn’t the ultimate form of humility and self-sacrifice.

You’re really hiding by slamming the door of trust and connection in someone’s face.

And you’re driving the people you love crazy.

I don’t care.

It doesn’t matter to me.

If that’s what you want to do.

We say these things, but deep down we do care and it does matter and you have wants.

It’s impossible to not care about everything.

(Can all of the exasperated people on the receiving end of these comments say, “Amen!“?)

I’m the world’s worst person at being an overly passive, peace loving person….

This is a real struggle for me.

My (un)natural tendency is to keep things buried deep down inside.

Another friend recently told me that standoffish nature in college held me back in many ways–and it’s true.

I kept people at arm’s length.

She expressed her thankfulness when I became a more open person. The change opened a lot of doors of opportunity that remained shut in years past.

Let me be very clear:

We all need to have boundaries and to guard our hearts. Prison bars and barbed wire fences, though, are a bit much.

Now, I’m building a nice fence that looks less like a maximum security prison and more like a simple property marker.

My challenge to you is to honestly answer the next question asked of you.

Can I get your opinion?

What do you prefer?

Is this something you want to do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional traffic jam

I’m struggling with what to talk about. 

This is one of those nights when the thoughts in my head are taking up a lot of room. 

It’s my practice to not share things that are still fresh. The emotions are too hard for me to juggle. 

Maybe that’s the safe route, the boring route, but I just can’t do it right now. 

And before you get too concerned, everything is fine. No one is hurt or dead. 

The traffic jam of thoughts has me cloudy and a bit unsure. 

Has this ever happened to you?

How do you handle emotional traffic jams?

Some bloggers know how to navigate and share accordingly. I’ve read their blogs and admire their bravery. 

Then there’s me…

The girl who spends more time talking around her feelings than about them. 

The girl whose hands get shaky sharing her thoughts on a good day. 

Sorry that you’re stuck with me for now. 

I’m a work in progress. 

The truth shall set you free, right?

Now, to publish this post before I chicken out….

The opportunities in your reality

Did you ever watch The Brady Bunch movie?

It was a spoof from the ’90s that was not that great, but made me laugh nonetheless. In it, Mike Brady gave Bobby some great advice:

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

I’ve seen this “advice” plastered all over novelty items. (I also googled the saying and found out it’s the title of a meditation book. Go figure.) What a goofy thing to say, right? We all know that…..or do we?

Recently, I was part of a conversation where a friend said, “Do you know what I could be doing?” and then went on for about 10 minutes about a job he could have.

I told this friend,  “You’re right and I agree. But here you are, so what are you going to do?”

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming or wanting to better yourself. Just remember that improvement starts right where you are. The weaknesses we possess do not magically disappear with a new opportunity.

The more I listened to my friend, the more I understood that the root of the problem was not feeling appreciated. Maybe an elevated position, a better job would do the trick. These people would appreciate me. These people see my true potential.

Once again, there’s truth in these thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with getting praised and honored for good work. Just be careful that praise and accolades aren’t the primary motivators. Applause is momentary–and it’s fickle too.

Motivation really is everything.

What are you looking to gain from an opportunity?

Be honest.

Answering this one question will show you the motivations of your heart.

Like I said earlier, the messy parts of ourselves–the things we want to leave behind–won’t disappear. You can’t just move on and not leave the new address.

Look around. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to do right, where you are now. Don’t be afraid to dream, but don’t ignore the opportunities in your current reality either.

I know where I’m going

IMG_1694Many times the Lord gives me direction through dreams. I think of it like a road map.

“Audra, this is where you are headed.”

With a dream, though, comes the knowledge that staying stuck is not possible. You cannot decide to camp out on the side of the road when you need to be moving forward.

I find myself facing some situations where running away would be so easy. (I think by now my vulnerability issues are well known.)

During these tough times, I yell–I mean, pray–to the Lord.

He’s given me permission to be 100% honest with him. His exact words were, “I know your heart anyway, so stop hiding.”

God has seen the angelic side of me and the grumpy side of me. My prayer is that as I follow Him, Angel Audra shows up more and more. (Think halo not being held up by horns.)

Do you know where He takes me at the end of each conversation?

My dreams.

Remember, Audra, where you are going. Don’t settle for anything less than where I am sending you.

All of my tantrums are ruined by God.

I am pouting and angry and God just laughs. And HIs laughter is like a whack from a belt.

Then I remember my dream.

I’m such a hard headed brat……..

When God shows you something don’t let go. Take it and run. Let that hope be an anchor for your soul. Nothing will motivate you more than a glimpse of where God’s taking you.  

And no worries if you find yourself camping out either. God will help you pack back up and keep moving.

Perfectionism is a choice

IMG_1566If perfection is unattainable, why do we keep striving for it?

Nothing will ever be perfect. The sooner you and I realize this simple truth, the sooner you and I can enjoy our beautiful, yet messy, lives.

Social media is filled with “inspirational” quotes and pictures about how no one is perfect. Thank you, Captain Obvious, this is not news.

Or is it?

Our obsession with warning others about the trap of perfectionism is an indication that many of our friends and family really believe it’s an obtainable goal.

And this is coming from a girl who knows its a trap and frequently makes the insane choice to walk right in it….

Notice, though, what I said: I know it’s a trap and I choose to step in it.

It’s time to get honest.

We all know that perfection is unobtainable, but continue to chase after it.

Maybe what we need is for our friends and family to say, “Stop it!” instead of hearing another inspirational message about embracing the messiness of life.

So, my sweet friends, I think it’s time for us to make a few changes. In order to do that, though, we’ll need to acknowledge the facts:

  1. You will never be perfect.
  2. Life can be hard and unfair.

Now, let’s look at those facts from the gospel’s perspective:

  1. Perfection was never an option. If we could be perfect, we wouldn’t need a Savior. Jesus lived the perfect life and then gave us all the wonderful benefits that go along with it.
  2. Even though life is not fair, we have God’s promises on our side. Everything–both fair and unfair–must work together for our good. Those are some great odds when faced with a challenge.

If you struggle with perfectionism, know that I understand your struggle because it’s my own.

My only request is that you be proactive in your efforts to avoid the trap. In the end, it’s your responsibility to make the necessary changes.

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All I need is a cup of coffee and a little perspective

I used to be a chipper morning person. My grumpier self told her to get lost.

My younger siblings do not care.

They are loud and boisterous and excited about the day–even if they don’t know what day it is.

“Audra, what day is it?” Caleb asks.

“It’s Tuesday,” I reply.

His response is normally something like:

“Yay! That means we get to ________” or “What are we going to do today?”

Maybe us grumpy adults should be more easily excitable.

We tend to see each day from a more practical, soul sucking point of view. I don’t think we mean to, though, but it’s easy to fall in line with our work hating, wish-it-was-the-weekend culture.

Last night my little brother–in his childlike wisdom–prayed the most beautiful blessing over our dinner.

“Dear God,

Thanks for having us today.

Thank you for dinner and this time with my family.”

Amen.”

Caleb thanked God for letting us live.

And the thunderbolt of conviction struck my heart….

IMG_1692Every breath, every day comes from God. Begrudging my life and all the things I “have to do” is a slap in God’s face.

I understand that we all have hardships and bad days, but our worst day–especially if you live in the West–is someone else’s best day.

The minor inconveniences of our life will not affect whether we live or die. With that in mind, you and I have very little to complain about.

This is not meant to be a guilt trip.

Just call it a good, old fashioned reality check.

Sure, you’re not a morning person but you can be a thankful–yet quiet–non-morning person.

Sure, money is tight but you have food, water, and shelter. A cancelled Netflix account or a month without cable will not kill you.

Perspective has a way of making us honest.