ending and beginning.

Have you ever had that sense, deep within, that a soft, yet strong wind is beginning to blow in a different direction? It’s like there’s a feeling inside of you that something is shifting, getting ready to alter your path. Not a full 180 turn, just a slight right, pointing your focus and intent and passion to its new course, its new place to grow and give and serve.

For me, that shift began in April at the ETC Conference. I had this gut conviction and invitation to live differently, both in my home and in my world outside of my home. At first, I knew this was mostly about my daughter – about being with her and for her, mentoring her, enjoying her. Not because I hadn’t been, but because I wanted to…more. See, she starts Kindergarten in one month, which means life as I know it with her, with my first born, will come to a close. I want to end the “at home” years with a bang, with gratitude, with presence. And so, we will make an extravagant bucket list for the month of August, one that I know will consist of all things girl-y and princess-y and eating out and silliness and feeling special and everything-we-can’t-do-with-a-toddler-brother. We’re both pretty pumped.

This swirling inside me kept moving and evolving. There was more to come, to change. And then there was this moment when my spirit felt this release, this permission, to take a pause from working for a while. A break that would allow my spirit to rest and refresh from “giving” as a counselor. And in that moment, I just knew that this was part of the next curve, the addition to the next season. And it felt right. Perfectly right.

As a counselor, you offer yourself, your entire presence, to others, for others. (Hmmm…maybe I should write a book on this!) For the past 10 years, the counseling space has taught me how to listen to the voice and story and heart of others in a way that allows people to feel heard and seen and known. I’ve loved this. I’ve felt so honored to “hold” the stories and tension and conflict and deep hearts of people, with them, and then speak truth into the vulnerable places and remind them of who they are. It’s taught me how to receive someone’s trust. It’s taught me how to trust…to believe in another person’s capability, in their goodness. What a profound gift! Yet, as a mom of two little ones spending my days giving, giving, giving, at times it has felt weighty, almost like I’m giving too much to too many people, and there’s only so much one can give before they lose their best self and then those closest to them suffer. And so, it feels like the right time to let go of serving people, in this way, at least for now. It feels like I’ve received an invitation from above to let go and release my role in that protected and special space. It’s a hard decision. It’s hard to step away from offering myself in this way, and to be totally honest, to relinquish being needed and valued in this way. (It always feels good to be needed and valued, right?) But as my story has historically written itself out, the hardest decisions have always become the best decisions – for me, for those close to me – and in some mysterious and profound way, has drawn me closer to God’s heart. Actually, I think it’s always been about the process of listening and discerning and trusting more than the actual decision. Grateful for these opportunities to grow and transform and lean…on Him.

So today, I’ll enter that sacred space one more time, offering who I am, listening to the human heart, inviting it to become familiar with the voice within, the voice above, inviting it to believe in what it was created for…more wholeness, more freedom, more hope, more life…and then what it means and looks like to offer that kind of self to the relationships around them. And, like every other week, I’ll walk away feeling blown away and humbled by how God uses that space…for them, for me, for Him.

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And then I’ll play…with her.

And then I’ll write…and offer my words and heart and story in new ways.

And then I’ll speak…and offer my voice to a different world, a different set of ears.

And then I’ll trust…that He who began a good work in me will continue to guide me and use me and change me and blanket me with his love and protection and grace.

Here we go. Can. Not. Wait.

to create.

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There are a few things I love, a few things I get really pumped and passionate and even precise about: people, words, food, the human heart. I love to indulge in all of these, and had for many years, left it up to others to bring these essential things to my life.

Until I needed them.

Until I was desperate for them.

Until the belief in myself that I could actually find and create and cultivate these things in my life was birthed.

I’m still discovering my capability, but I’m learning, I’m leaning…into all of these things. And it’s good. So, so, good. My ability to love and write and cook and listen…they’re growing. Some of it comes from looking deep within at the soulful places, some of it comes from allowing my heart to soar and shine.

We were created to create, to express God’s beauty and glory and heart to the world. It’s one of the ways that we image him. That thing we create, that stunningly beautiful and needed thing is something unique and distinct that rises out from the core of our being.

But, we have to find it. We have to tap into it. We have to feel it. We have to believe in it.

No…we don’t have to. We get to.

We get to express who we are, what we find meaningful and moving and valuable…and find a way to express that to the world – as a gift, not out of duty or obligation. It’s then when we can offer that thing without needing approval or acceptance or praise. It’s then when we know that we were created for something more than meeting other people’s expectations. It’s then when it becomes a free expression of the work God has done in us, and called out of us. It’s then when the sacrifice that goes into creating that thing becomes an act of love.

For the past 10 years, the place that I’ve had the opportunity to “create” has been in a counseling space. Me sitting with one or two other people for an hour at a time. It’s sacred. It’s healing. For them. For me. I’ve had this profound invitation to step into other people’s lives and join them right where they’re at…in their ache and disappointment and fragility and fear, in their questions and doubts and despair and longing, in their learning and stretching and moving and becoming…more of who they are, more of who they were created to be. It’s taken a lot of practice to learn how to listen, really listen, to not only their words and ideas and assumptions and hurt, but to their heart. And then, together, navigate through the murky, hidden, unknown and shameful places…and find light, truth, clarity, healing, freedom…Jesus. Ahhhh! It blows me away that this is my job. It blows me away how God initiates and restores and reconciles and redeems in that space, and how I get to play a role in the process. It’s holy ground and I’m so, so grateful to serve the men and women I meet with in this unique way.

It just so happens that my “artistic form” has been creating a space for the human heart to be heard and affirmed and expressed. But, isn’t that what all art does? Invite the human heart to feel and show itself and tell its story? Well then, can’t we all be artists? Aren’t we all capable of inviting out the very place that true art comes from? So maybe, the process of creating our own unique art, and allowing others and ourselves to become a part of it, could actually transform each person – the maker and the consumer.

May you know how good and valuable and capable and loveable you are, your heart is. And then, find ways to splash and scatter and swipe and mold and paste and sing and strum what’s inside you…to the world.

NOTE: Photograph by Sarah Carter, a true creator and artist. You can find her unique work here. She was a guest on this blog back in November during National Adoption Month, sharing about her “waiting heart.”