Be Still

Start looking in expectancy for how God is fighting for us. I think maybe we’ve been seeing things in the wrong order.

We tend to think that when we experience something great it eventually all dissipates with a bombardment of oppression and negativity.

What if it’s really the other way around? What if we are bombarded with this stuff and then as we settle into the truth of Exodus 14:14, God fights for us and brings us whatever we need as a counterattack? Clarity. Truth. Justice. Peace. Answers. Support. Encouragement. Provision. Friendships. Health. A break.

I’m experiencing this in my own world, and in fact have a decorative plate from friends with Exodus 14:14 on it which I’ve placed in full view in my living room. It stares at me every single day reminding me that I don’t need to defend myself. I don’t need to spin my wheels trying to figure it all out. “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

That trauma that threw me for a loop… support and healing.
That person who harshly judged me last week… encouragement and truth.
That person who said my abilities weren’t enough… patience, consistency, and positive coaching.
That paycheck that got shorted due to circumstances outside of my control… provision.

What about you? What crazy curveballs have come your way that if you rethink those times, you can now see the truth of what was either being extended to you to help you get through it OR if you haven’t seen it yet, are you willing to be still long enough to allow the Lord to fight for you?

A Response to Jarvis Jay on Easter

Mmhhh. Now that’s an interesting thought Jarvis Jay. So what do we do with the resurrection then? It is the resurrection that sets Christianity apart from every other religion, not His death. Roman flogging and crucifixion wasn’t an unusual death sentence. It was actually very common during Christ’s time on Earth. Every other religion that has a “savior” figure have died, but none were able to rise up from the grave, walk the earth for some time again and then ascend into Heaven. We are buried with Christ in baptism but raised to newness in life in Him. Why not celebrate that? Albeit without the bunny and eggs.

Of course with that said, I am not one to legalistically celebrate anything. If I don’t attend church regularly, I certainly won’t show up on Easter Sunday as if that were some magical day to show my love and devotion to Christ.

Likewise, if I do attend on a regular basis and happen to miss the “Easter Service,” I will not berate and chastise myself for missing the “holier” service.

His mercies are new every morning and as Christians I think living in freedom and loving God first, then our neighbor as outsleves and then sharing the good news of the Gospel is a daily celebration of His death and resurrection.

Easter, Jesus, & Women

As I ponder the morning of Jesus’ resurrection, I wonder what it must have been like for Mary Magdalene to be the very first person Jesus revealed Himself to outside of the tomb. I think of her for several reasons.

1. In a patriarchal society, Jesus choosing to appear to a woman AND a former prostitute would have been scandalous. But it shows me He loves women tenderly and dearly. He restores. He isn’t bothered with the past. He’s more interested in the future. I can’t wait to hear her story firsthand one day.

2. Jesus celebrated women. Throughout history and cultures, men have always dominated in business, religion, politics, and relationships. When Jesus arrived on the scene, He made it clear through His actions that women were to be celebrated and cared for and included in roles of discipleship, leading, ruling, judging, etc. And even before He arrived in person, the Old Testament has stories pointing to the fact. It was the widow’s jar of oil that miraculously fed the prophet and her household. It was a harlot’s red cord that saved her household when the walls of Jericho fell. It was the woman’s mite in the temple that Jesus recognized as the greater offering. It was the woman’s jar of perfume anointing His feet that he accepted above and beyond the lavish meal before him in the rich man’s house. It was two sisters he loved dearly that He raised their brother from the dead.

3. Finally, it was a woman God chose to have the Holy Spirit descend upon to plant His own seed in her womb so He could be born on the earth to enter our human experience and provide a way of restoration back to Himself. Wow! The very God who created all we see around us (and don’t see) could have chosen a million other ways to show up among us. He could have blared trumpets in the skies and split them open with His first arrival. He didn’t. Instead He chose to enter like we all do, through a mother’s womb. That tells me He is more interested in the full experience of our existence, then He is about “proving” who He is. One day He will…but not that day.

To me, Easter is about resurrection, new life, new beginnings. Easter is about a Man, the God-Man who chose to do what was necessary to give me abundant life and the ability to be with Him for all eternity.

Today I will spend time with a family that is new in my world. They invited me. To me it’s yet another picture of new life in Christ and how He always seeks new relationships for anyone who will call on His name and believe.

Created for Good Works

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Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”

As millions pause around the world to consider their faith and enter a day of rest today (or perhaps you did this yesterday), this verse is a great reminder of what exactly we were created for. As a career consultant, I hear the question “why am I here” all the time and regardless of what your spiritual beliefs are, I think this is a verse everyone can resonate with. We are created to do good things during our lifetime.

What exactly can “good works” look like? I’m sure it’s the medical professionals putting in countless, tiring hours to ensure their patients are well cared for. Legal professionals who fight to ensure their clients are represented well as they look for justice and peace. Parents who work hard to provide for their children. Spiritual teachers who do their best to rightly divide the myriad of soul issues we all struggle with. Business professionals who do a myriad of good work to bring market awareness, to coach and train, to keep our economy running smoothly. And yes, even our politicians (they happen to be human beings as well) who have a huge responsibility to figure out how to maintain law and order (don’t judge them until you’re ready to put your opinions and words into action).

And what about those who try to do good by their friends and partners and spouses? Good works can abound in our relationships with each other.

It can also be the cashiers in our stores and food establishments who often put up with our hurried impatience and self-righteous attitudes at times (don’t act like you’ve never done it) or the waiters who endure our bad tipping habits after church on Sunday (preach!).

You see, everyone has the capacity to decide to do the right thing no matter what their profession, religion, and circumstances are.

What GOOD are you doing in your corner of the world these days?

 

We Fall Apart: Tragically Beautiful Tribe

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One of my favorite songs is “We Fall Apart” by We as Human. The song is so melodic and hauntingly beautiful as it weaves the story of our human condition stating,

“But isn’t it beautiful
The way we fall apart
It’s magical and tragic all the ways we break our hearts…”

As I spent the entire afternoon yesterday with one my tribal partners, Whitney (we are both lovers of the written word, and both agree “tribe” is what describes certain friendships best), I was elated to hear her refer to our grief journey as “tragically beautiful.”

Some of you know parts of my story and know I’ve talked about the “healing tribe” God has surrounded me with over the last few years. So it should come as no surprise that the tribe is ever expanding and is starting to bring me even greater joy and solace as I begin to settle into the reality of what my life is now.

Laura and I had a vision to provide expanded services to our community in a way that would address the whole person, and I intend to see that vision become reality in the form of The Laura Berrier Foundation as well as a for-profit center that will address the need we both saw in our city. Laura brought a unique perspective because she had been gone for 25 years and came back with fresh eyes and experience in multi-cultural settings. I don’t know what it all looks like yet, but there are pieces that are coming together so quickly I find myself a little overwhelmed.

So when Whitney said this process of grieving was tragically beautiful, I had to agree because I have been reminded of some of the most amazing people that I have the privilege of knowing, and I have been reminded that I am certainly not alone. Grief does have its own beauty because it’s in the grief that sometimes we see the best of the people around us as they genuinely want to help and want to connect, even when/if they don’t know exactly what to say or do.

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The irony of tragically beautiful is so profound, it leaves one wondering if it’s even ok to notice the beauty around you at the exact same time you weep the loss of your beloved. The things they loved seem to jump out at every corner and turn, and you find yourself wanting to experience a bit more of “that” even if it wasn’t your own personal favorite. The lesson I think is, experience the things they love now while you have them just because it brings them joy. In doing so you get to see your person in their happy state and that alone is a beautiful moment you get to share with them. Laura and I were good at that…finding moments to try new things, to try things the other person enjoyed, to say we at least tried something once.

It’s precisely why we experienced the monstrous rush of Niagara Falls and the serene, colorful Vermont countryside… a New York Broadway and the stretched out ocean on the Outer Banks. We both received great joy from watching the first blooms of daffodils in the yard and the delight of Laura’s eyes dancing when a tiny tree frog landed on her shirt. From crashing waves to the faintest meow of a kitten wanting love, we both found these moments incredibly beautiful.

Today I’m going to meet yet another business person in the community whom I’ve never met before. He does acquisitions and mergers and loves working with entrepreneurs and small businesses. I’m saddened because he probably could have provided insight for Laura and been someone she would have referred to over time, but I’m also excited as I get to lean in and hear his story and perhaps find a way to connect him. Laura and I shared this passion…hearing people’s stories and figuring out a way to weave them into other people’s stories. I am sad that I can’t introduce him to her, but I know she would be cheering me on as I find ways to bring him into my own tragically beautiful life.

Therapist to Midwife

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I talked with a friend last night who has had two dreams of Laura this week. In the dream my friend knows Laura is in the next world. She is no longer a “counselor” but instead is getting her bags packed headed to her new role as a midwife.

My friend believes Laura “birthed” so much in this world, and we have yet to see the final outcome of the great work she started. Laura left a lot of her knowledge and wishes with a few of us, and I believe we will see her dream become reality.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the last two career assessments I’ve done in the past week were both focused on the very things Laura talked about and so now we are starting conversations about what this could look like for the future.

Laura, you were my family, my nearest and dearest friend, and although I’m having a hard time right now with all the what ifs and whys and flashbacks and memories, as Vince Gill sings, “I know your time on earth was trouble…” I know you had many challenges and pain that you never spoke of to most people. I know you were so very tired. I know you took on more than your fair share at work because you wanted to reach as many people as you could – and you did!

I’m still getting phone calls and messages from your patients who want to connect with me and perhaps work towards developing a friendship with me because you taught them they needed healthy people in their lives. I promise to try to be that voice of reason and that healthy soul they can trust.

This week is very hard for me. I am grieving. I am mourning. I see you everywhere. My mind won’t stop. I could easily slip into dark patterns of escape, but all I hear is you and my therapist say, “Ginger, allow yourself to settle into the pain. Allow yourself to feel it in that moment. Push through because it WILL pass.”

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That’s one thing you taught me about conquering addiction of any kind – if you sit with it long enough and choose to do nothing but sit – the craving will pass. And it does. I’ve considered what it would be like to escape, but instead of jumping, I sit and sit and pray and think of you, and it passes.

I have so many questions in my head. There is so much uncertainty that continues to swirl around me as I begin to think through how I fit into the old and new spaces. I won’t let your early death be for naught. I won’t let your legacy slowly slip away. It can’t because there are too many of us that carry you in our hearts. There are too many of us that were forever changed. There are too many of us who knew you were on our side fighting for our souls even if no one else cared to. And there are too many of us who felt such grace wash over us when we couldn’t see light and were beating ourselves up for our humanity. You always had a way of extending your arms of love and pulling us out of our pits of despair and self-hatred. You taught us our actions didn’t define us – we were more than our bad choices – and we had opportunities to move forward with good choices.

I concur with Vince Gill – “Go rest high on that mountain because your time on earth is done.” I also concur with my friend – Your midwife bags are packed, and I imagine Jesus is allowing you to somehow orchestrate the outcome in accordance with His Word which tells us, “His will be done on earth AS IT IS in Heaven.”

Matthew 18:18 says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” I know this speaks of the Father’s will and the Kingdom in terms of people coming to the Father and being forgiven for their sins, but I also believe it speaks to building the Kingdom of God right here on earth. Laura’s vision lines up with kingdom building because it sets captives free and restores relationships.

All in His time. Until then, please continue to pray for my broken heart and for provision and peace.

 

Be Alone Versus Am Alone

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This is something Laura and I believed in and actually did well “together.” To be our own individual selves before God and then to join each other in travel and laughter and the mundane chores of daily living.

These days I probably am not practicing the “be alone” very well simply because I’m still trying to process the shock of her sudden death. I still wake up in the middle of the night and expect to see her sleeping silhouette as I pass by her doorway or to awaken to the smell of coffee she’s just brewed in the mornings.

There’s a difference between the practice of “be alone” versus “am alone.” The first is intentional with the goal of entering back into someone’s space refreshed and present. The latter is often forced upon you without your permission and you have to figure out how to push through. Oftentimes you have to remind yourself you must interact with other human beings if you’re going to heal and thrive in the life you’ve been handed.

I didn’t ask for the life I now find myself in, what Sheryl Sandberg refers to as “option b.” I’m trying to figure out what my option b is going to look like from what activities I will immerse myself in to who I will choose to spend time with to what my life’s work will fully entail.

I have no desire to fill my life with meaningless activity just to stay distracted, but for now there are a lot of moments I give myself permission to do just that simply because it is the only way I can cope.