Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Shaking Off a Foggy Heart

I am 2/3 the way through a large latte and 3/3 the way through a honey and fig scone.  It was one of those scones that got it right.  The dough was barely sweet and the figs brought that tiny granular texture....and I wish you had shared it with me.  I enjoy enjoying things!  You are one of those elements of life that I enjoy enjoying.  Know that you are enjoyed today.

Here's a question, do you know how to get to your heart?  Yesterday was day 5/5 of solo parenting while Zion was away.  Sometimes when he is gone, I am the least good at making space for my heart to surface.  Do you know what I mean?  Solo parenting is a mixed bag... there's more demand on your non-stop energy being poured out.  But there are also more gaps of space that are all yours.  The evenings for instance!  But, when he's gone it's either feast or famine for me.  Dude, I carry the main load of day-to-day parenting while he carries the load of providing financially for our family of Spencers.  BUT LET US NOT UNDERESTIMATE the impact and load lifter of Daddy coming home each night, chatting, rough housing, and the biggie: sharing bed time responsibilities with me. Reading one of them books and cuddling.  Oh, let us not underestimate that help!  So, sometimes when he's gone, I get to those moments by myself in the evening and I can't resist zoning out.

Mind you, zoning out is a KEY ELEMENT to the health and survival of motherhood.

But, zoning out breeds more zoning out for me.  Zoning out in moderate doses produces good fruit and health.  Zoning out continuously on my off-times produces a foggy heart.

What's that one....you know the one that says our heart is the source of life? Ahhhh yes there it is:

Proverbs 4:23
"Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life."

Foggy heart Abi leads to lost Abi.  Foggy heart Abi leads to 'huh? Abi.'  

And while that state of fogginess is a real feeling, it isn't really true.  The older I get, the more leery I am of living from my feelings as a trustworthy story-teller.  It's that odd paradox that avoided feelings lead to death but also, when we take our feelings to the bank as truth-tellers, well, dem lead to death too.

The foggier your heart becomes, the louder the story of your emotions becomes.  The louder the story, the easier it is to believe.

Emotions do tell us a story and by no means do I want to shut mine down.  But they can serve as an entry way back to Truth if we let ourselves become curious about them instead of being owned by them.

So, how do we get back to letting our hearts breathe?

A few ideas that we can give a shot, even on the craziest of days:

  • Think/pray to yourself: "Come back to life heart."
    • Note: reading that sentence on the screen is not the same thing as thinking it/praying it for your self.  In essence, you are saying to everything that has attached itself to your heart and clouded the way, to take a hike.  You are reconnecting with your heart and Him, by simply acknowledging it/Him. 
  • THEN, get curious and watchful.  
    • That's it.  Start listening for your heart.  It will feel things, and truth will start becoming louder.  You may not have time to deep dive into it.  So just make a note of it and come back to it, when you can.  
  • Acknowledge the things you do to avoid your heart when you do have time for it to come out and play.
    • And then commit to saying no to that avoiding thing, the next time you could say yes to it.  This is not permanently cutting out those things.  It is simply choosing your heart/Him over the thing that helps us hide in the one next opportunity you have.  
  • Think to yourself, "Being kind and intentional with my heart is important."  
    • Your heart is the wellspring of life.  It where His life pours into and out of.  It's very very important.  

Don't you wish we could sit and compare notes 48 hours from now???  If you want to send me any notes on your experiences, please DO IT!  I would love to hear!!!  

Cheers to our hearts, reader friends!

Much love,

Honest Abi






Sunday, March 12, 2017

Before You Sleep Tonight...

Ernest Hemingway: "If a writer stops observing, he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed." 

Julia Cameron: "Once writing becomes an act of listening, instead of an act of speech, a great deal of the ego goes out with it." 

Julia Cameron, in my own paraphrase: We are all writers.  

Good evening reader friend.  You are genuinely dear to me: your mind, your heart, your time, your spirit.

Let's observe for a moment.  Just take a deep breath and picture yourself slowing.  Let your brain slow.  Observing starts in the brain, moves down to the soul and then seeps into the spirit. 

When I say spirit, you have one.  Everyone does.  Having a spirit has nothing to do with whether or not you are a person of faith.  It is a part of who you are.  It's the layer and the place beneath your soul - and the soul is where emotion lives.  If the soul is where emotion lives, the spirit is where truth lives.  Where the truth of who you are lives.  If you are a person of faith, this is where the Teller of All Truth resides.  Indeed, that sounds bizarre.  But, faith does lead us beyond reason.  It leads us beyond.  

Take a few cleansing breaths.  And now listen. What's in the depth of you?  What does the deep feel? If it feels uncomfortable, it's normal.  Just stay there.  If you're not feeling anything, it's okay.  Ask God to help you connect.  

If you're like me, I get to that deep place and I look at her and observe both as her and as one outside of her.  I see her wrestle, I see her true joys, I see her questions, I see her weakness, I see her beauty.  I ask Him to help me see what He sees when He looks at her.  You can do the same.   Keep taking the deep breaths and will yourself not to run.  And now I say, come Lord Jesus.  You don't have to claim Christianity to try those words out.  What do we have to lose? Come Lord Jesus.  Come Truth. Come.  
And this is the place, the rooted place of depth, where the Truth is that 

You are protected.

You are loved.

You are known.

You are seen.

You are covered.

You are intricate on purpose.

There is a Helper.

He has the way forward.

It's okay to feel stuck.  You're not really stuck...but it's okay to feel it.

I am praying for you this evening.  Asking Him to touch the deep part of who you are.  The truest part of who you are - regardless of whether or not you know that part of yourself.  He does!  Asking Him to speak to the truest part of you...to let you hear the truth right now.  

Sleep in peace, my reader friend.  

Much love,

Honest Abi

Psalm 42:7 
Deep calls to deep at the [thundering] sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Question We Can All Ask

How's your day going??

I'll tell ya, I had no vision of sitting and writing this afternoon.  I am frankly on day five of a child with the flu, restless within the walls of this house, not looking cute or clean, and tempted to eat my way through anything chocolate available to me: Nutella hot chocolate, Ghirardelli chocolate chips by the handful, my husband's French Silk birthday pie in the fridge, the kids leftover Valentine's chocolates, oh the damage I am tempted to do when I'm in Nurse Mommy mode for more than 24 hours.  

But, out of nowhere, my heart burns for you today.  My theology is forming to re-articulate that as His heart is burning for you today.  

Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, let us stop.  

Stop the thoughts.  Stop the distractions.  Stop the mental to-doing.  Stop the voice of fear.  Stop the self-obsessed thoughts.  Stop it all for a moment.

And know this: 

You can have more.

More of what? Things? Power? Achievement? Approval? Acceptance?

Maybe.  No.  Yes.  

You can have more of the Living God.  

And, I don't think that there's much more to life than that when all is stripped away.  So many of us nod in our hearts - echoing agreement.  But, if that is true, then each of us should be stopped right where we are with the earth shattering reality of it.  

Pretend you haven't heard truth all your life.  Pretend this is the lightbulb moment, and you are hearing and believing for the first time ever that this is truth.  He is alive, He is at work and He is near and you can dive deep into life in Christ.  

But then, maybe this is the first time that the possibility of that feels real.  I wish I could look you straight in the eyes right now and tell you with every bit of energy that I have that you aren't crazy and this is real.

I don't care if you've been around the block one million times.  I don't care if you've sauntered around the block three quarters of one full time.  I don't care if you've only ever watched as others circled the darn block.  We can have more of the Living God.  

And how do we do that???

We ask Him.  

And that is the first step towards belief - to believe even enough to ask.  It sounds so simple and so inane.  And it sounds like something we all do, all of the time.  But when was the last time you were alone in a room and you said out loud, with your own voice, 'God, I want more of you.' 

The moment of vulnerability for many of us is His reply.  Will He give a lofty theological answer? Will we feel anything? Is He distant? Will everyone but me experience something?  Or worse - will it be silent?

I don't know what you'll feel.  I don't know where you've been.  I don't know your story.  But I am confident in what His heart is towards you.  Confident.  

This is the truth:

  • He longs to be known.  He aches to share Himself with you.  He wants you to know Him.
    • Jeremiah 9:24 "but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
  • He loves you. 
    • Romans 8:37-39 "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
He wants you to know Him.  If you already know Him, He wants you to know more of Him.  He longs for it.  

What if it's true? There's more.  

Message me on facebook if this resonates with you. 

Always,

Honest Abi

Monday, February 20, 2017

When Your Heart Says It's Tired

How are you today? Feeling good? Feeling 'I don't know?' Feeling rocked a bit?  All of that is normal. Isn't that nice to hear? Sometimes, all you need is to hear a voice other than your own say, 'you're normal.'  And it's true.  Whether you are flying high or you are walking through the shadows, it's a normal part of being alive and breathing.

The other day, I was walking and praying.  Praying is conversation/interaction with God... simple, with no rules.  On this particular day, conversations that I had been having with myself (can you relate?!) deep down finally busted up to my conscious thoughts.  Whoa! It's always a mix of shock and relief when those moments hit.  Honesty came tumbling out as I walked back and forth between my kitchen and living room.  The more the honesty came, the quicker my steps became.

I found myself saying rather loudly to Him, "I cannot do this.  My heart cannot do this.  My heart doesn't want to do this.  My heart is tired."

In one swift moment, Truth rushed to my heart and ears.  "Oh, yes you can."

I stopped talking, ears perked.

Quiet now.

There was a firmness to the truth.  A strong hand to it.  Not harsh, but strong.  As if His tone was to say, 'Feelings are indicators but they are not truth. Hear the truth now and run, little girl.  Run.'

And the truth kept tumbling out:

"Oh yes, Abi, yes you can keep going.  Because your heart doesn't have to be strong.... I AM YOUR HEART.  I am the life within your heart.  Do not say, my heart cannot do this because you are right. Your heart absolutely cannot do this and it doesn't have to.  My heart is your heart.  You are IN CHRIST.  A new creation.  You are new.  You are not you.  I am you.  You are me.  I am your heart muscle.  I am the blood pumping through it.  I am the strength of your heart.  I am life.  I am not fatigued.  I am alive and I am the strong heart that carries every bit of weariness you feel in your heart.  I swallow your weariness in my strength.  I AM NOT WEARY.  And this, my heart, is yours. So it is yours to claim.  Yours to wear.  Yours to believe.  Yours to feel.  Yours."

Put your name where mine is.  Take it for your own!

Immediately Psalm 73:26 started rolling through my mind, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. "  HE is the strength of my heart!  

What else can I possibly add to that?!  

He has a strong heart, and He gave it and keeps giving it to us.  Dang.  If that doesn't change the lighting in the room, I don't know what does!

Carry on my strong friends!  

Sincerely,

Honest and Strong Hearted Abi

.....who got tired of trying to take a selfie making my face look like I would if we were sitting face to face and talking about this.  Executing that was above my pay grade :).  I would probably smile at some point, so here's a smile today - from me straight to your heart.  




Sunday, February 12, 2017

Truth Telling at Valentine's

Hello, you.

Happy Sunday evening to you....and if you're reading later, by all means, happy this very moment to you.  And happy almost Valentine's Day!

I happen to love heart day.  But, I don't really care who you are, this holiday is fraught with opportunity for the blues.  Whether you are the in love up to your eyeballs type, the 'what love?' type, the bye bye social media 'till it's over type, or the 'meh' type, Valentine's Day can give anyone heartburn.

It just happens to be a time when a slew of messages are hurled at you and before you know it, out of nowhere, you're in a funk.

So, let's practice some truth telling.  Get ahead of the storm and focus on truths instead of traps.  Try focusing here instead of on the lack - whether it's a lack of a person, the lack of performance on a person's part, or anything else we can come up with.  There's really only one love that is perfect. Every other version is human and therefore flawed. Here's the truth:


  • I am loved beyond anything I can even imagine.
    • Luke 22:19 "And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is GIVEN for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.' "

  • I am seen and known.
    • Jeremiah 1:5 "...Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...."

  • His love for me is the MOST dependable thing in my world.
    • Psalm 139:11 "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him."

  • I don't have to be perfect to be loved.
    • 2 Corinthians 12:9 "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' "

  • I am protected 
    • Psalm 91:14 "Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name."

  • I am loved
    • Isaiah 43:2 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through water you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you."

  • I am loved
    • Romans 5:8 "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

  • I am loved
    • Psalm 103:8 "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love."

And that's just the beginning of telling ourselves the truth instead of falling into traps.  You know what we can do with lists like these?  Print them off and go a little crazy-town and start walking around your house or room and saying the statements and Scriptures over yourself.  Go to war a little! Because the truth is that you are loved beyond your wildest imagination.  You are known beyond your ability to know.  You are safe beyond any capacity you have to protect yourself.  Oh man, oh man...this can be a great week if we know the truth.  

Love y'all,

Honest Abi

P.S. This is my 'go a little crazy-town' and start telling yourself the truth face.  Can't you feel it? :)


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Here's What I think You Should Do

I've been pursuing audacity.  I think that title is fairly audacious, don't you?  I am reticent to say big, bold words that express one directive...but I guess here I am doing just that.  Progress.

Side note: I am listening to the free 48-hour stream of Brian and Jenn Johnson's new album After All These Years......oh boy.  Worth the purchase when it's available.

But here we are, you and me.  I like to think of these moments as sacred because I believe He can be with us together even if we are on different sides of a screen.  The words I let my eyes read are sacred.  I try not to read too much 'you should' stuff unless I feel momentum behind it.  Otherwise we are all scrambling and frantic in the head with our internal lists of must-do-self-improvements: senseless noise.

But I do have one thing I think you should do:

Find out who you are.

If you have chosen to believe that the Gospel is real and it is for you, then you are His.  First answer layer of the answer.  But there is more.

Most of us believe that there are things we were created to do.  Roles we were created to fill.  Art we were create to create.  Work we were created to put our hands to.  And it is possible to do the top layers of those things without truly having an answer to the question 'who are you?'.

So, Christian isn't enough.  Mom isn't enough.  Wife isn't enough.  Accountant isn't enough.  Doctor isn't enough.  Teacher isn't enough.  They are all worthy but they are all facets of what He calls you to.  They do not answer - who are you.

What I am saying is that He is THE CREATOR.  THE Creator.  The Author of all creation.  I believe that.  So don't dumb down His creation in you by simplifying it.

Have you heard people say, 'what you do is not who you are.'?  Me too.  One of my pet peeves is big concept phrases with no discussion about the gritty of how.  It's a concept that rings true....but dangit if that isn't a tough one to apply.

The truth is that when we have even beginning answers to who we were created to be, the way we do the work in front of us changes.  Whether it be a sole focus on raising children, leading an organization, teaching a group of people, spinning pottery, writing words for others to read, or giving medical care to those who come to the E.R., pursue the answer my friends.  Who are you?

I can't give you a step-by-step path to walk.  OH HOW I WISH I COULD!  Could someone send that my way?!

But what I can tell you is what I do know: it requires an uncomfortable amount of quietness.  If you want to start the pursuit of the Answer, start pushing noise out of your soul.  Because who you are and who you are meant to be - it's an answer that's already been woven into you.  The answer isn't going to be created, it already exists.  The words have already been spoken.  You can probably sense its presence.  It's a matter of being quiet enough to see it and hear it.

So, what is between your big conscious thoughts and the Truth that is woven into the deepest part of you?

Noise.

And what is the biggest source of noise between the head and the heart?

Fear.

So, quietness in a place that allows layers of fear, doubt, other's voices and paths that you are nearly addicted to comparing yourself to, untruths you believe to be peeled back and off.  He does very good work.  He knows exactly where the answer is and He knows how to get you there.

You are art.  You are intricate.  You are woven together wonderfully.  You are a creation.  You're not more special than any other creation....but you're certainly not simple.

Deep breath in and out.  There is tension in this isn't it?  It is beautiful but it is tense.  This pursuit of truth requires you to acknowledge layers between the head and the heart that are easier left tucked away.  Who, in their right mind, wants to sit in the same (small) room with their fears? Only those who are ready enough to let them come up so that freedom and healing can come.

He is much much better and getting you to the place of answers than I am.

But, here are some questions that you can ask that will at least help you climb the ladder....walk to the edge and feel your toes curl over the end of the diving board.  He alone can lure you off the board and into the water.

Questions:

  • Do I know how to be quiet with myself and with you?
  • Can you show me practical ways to be quiet with you?
  • What things are creating noise that distract my ears? (It's often not big bad things, but good things)
  • Would you lead me in this?  Would You show me who I am?  Show me how to pursue.  
I'm in it with you!  My heart soars at the thought of you and me opening up to Him in brand new ways!  

And so, that's what I think you should do.  I really do.

Much love,




















Honest Abi and my just-do-it-face




Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Note for January 1

The week between Christmas and New Year is one of my very favorites of the year.  Sometimes the 26th....or even about 3pm on the 25th...brings a little slump as the gifts have been unwrapped, the prime rib has been engulfed, and the candles on the cake have been blown out and the delicious Italian Cream Cake underneath those candles has been devoured, and well - it's simply over.  Over.  The over-ness slump has become a shorter and shorter one for me over the years.  Because something else starts stirring!  I'm reading a book right now that is so so so dang good and here's one little line that couldn't be more true: "...here's the thing about despair: It overtakes the place meant for hope.  It steals the belief that healing is possible." (Rebekah Lyons, You Are Free)

And hope is what starts stirring as January 1 inches closer to our present instead of our future.

Hope for what may come.  Hope for what is happening.  Hope for the wonder of beginning to see what the next chapter will hold.  Hope for Him.  It's exciting.

It's exciting even when we feel like we are limping over the finish line of 2016.  That's how I feel this year.  I feel like He's turned my world upside down and he's bringing healing to things that, frankly, I didn't see as areas that needed that much attention.  Ha!  Ain't that a kicker!

I rather like leaping and bounding over the finish line of one year and into the race track of the next. I went through a few years of loving to run.  My longest races were two half marathons and, by far, my favorite part about running was the end of the race.  When your muscles are fatigued and worn and every little voice screams 'this is too much' as your near the finish line..... and you contemplate walking instead of running over that dang line.  But then.  Something rises over all of that.  My eyes would lock in on that line and from somewhere a sprint would take over my legs and my arms would pump harder pulling my body to run faster than I had the entire race.  Now that's good.

This year, I'm definitely walking rather than sprinting over the line.  But even typing those words, brings a smile because it is okay to just get over the line!  Sometimes, weakness is a gift. Sometimes, it realigns perspective.  Sometimes, it reminds me that success in life and in Him is not born from my feelings of strength.  Feelings of strength are often mistaken for strength.  Strength is deeper than what feelings tell us.

To me, the connection between strength and hope is undeniable.

And that makes me wonder, do you feel hope?

It's okay to be honest about feeling despair.  It's important to be honest about what we feel.  It's the starting point, after all!  But keep this in mind....despair and hope contend for the same spot.  The same spot!  And there are times that hope feels out of reach.  It feels like having hope would require more faith than is available to us at the moment.  My friend, that's a good time to ask Him for help to hope.  A simple plea, a simple call for rescue.

So know that I'm thinking over you as we approach January 1 and the beginning of new.  The cold and clear air a picture to us that He really does make all things new.  He is the changer.  He is the One who moves swiftly when the time is right.  He is the holder of everything that we need.  He is trustworthy.

As you read today, may you be filled with hope.  May you be filled with hope.  It doesn't matter if we are leaping and bounding or if we are slowly walking over the line of one year into the next....He is hope.  My prayer is that all despair loses its grip and that hope floods in, in its place.

Much much love and happy New Year!

Honest Abi and her honest chin...and its honest companion, The Christmas Cold Sore