Captivating Resilience

Look amongst the branches in dawn's light for inspiration in a small package.

Look amongst the branches in dawn’s light—a small inspiration.

Part Five of the Lockout Series

Moving into Freedom’s Fullness

Every morning, a sweet hummingbird greets the day from the branches of our backyard plum tree. He is faithful to protect his territory. He is elegant in his stance, high above his grounds. He never leaves his watchfulness to others. He protects his domain from predators and keeps his mate in safety. He enjoys sweet delights and plays well. He is beautiful to watch, with his bright red throat and sweeping gestures. To me, he is resilient.

It is both deeply centering and challenging to watch his dance in and out of the trees in our yard. I can draw some life lessons that I hope to emulate in my pursuit of resilience in life.

Tenacious protectiveness

This hummingbird protects his territory from birds three times its size and others. It’s even buzzed my head if I get too close. It does not exhibit fear or lack of resolve. When it comes to matters of great importance or meaning, like family, I want to be more like him. This unfailing protectiveness is his life’s calling and I hope to have that total focus.

Tremendous beauty

From atop the tree, his little neck turns left and right, as he takes in the view over the yard and neighborhood. It pleases me with flashes of the rubies he wears every day. I delight in the beauty he observes, and hope to offer a watchful presence that is pleasant in my relationships. I, too, need to feast on small points of beauty to be strengthened for my job as a writer or parent and the other roles I play in life. That beauty is an anchor when things get stormy and keeps me mindful of grace.

Terrific energy

Most would say watching the impossibly fast wing beat of a hummingbird is fascinating. The little guy moves like a sleek jet plane pausing near a gorgeous flower or defending its territory from an invader. Indeed, the hummingbird fills his space with undaunted energy and hope.

He knows when to rest and enjoy a moment.

He is fixed on his role in life.

He provides joy to others.

This is my great hope in speaking, writing, blogging, and creating tales with characters that learn about resilience, great for any age:

  • That the precious belief of new beginnings takes hold in your life and mine, too.
  • That this quest for resolve is met with endurance and renewed belief and connection.
  • That your season of heartache and baggage collection takes a back seat to high-flying adventure and joy.
  • That the locks that once kept inside what little endurance you held onto, have shaken free, and fallen to the ground, revealing a path to deepest healing.
  • That peacefulness, and secret delight punctuated with touches of the unknown, fill more of your moments each day.
  • That the undaunted belief in the unyielding truth of being loved unconditionally and known completely in your core is a bit nearer in understanding.

Now, let a new dawn begin.

It has been a pleasure to share the Lockout Series with all of you and hear how it’s helped. How has the series affected you? Please post your comments below.

Escape the Quicksand of Heartache

Avoid the traps of old heartache and find your own resilience

Avoid the traps of old heartache and find your own resilience.

What is heartache? I’d define it as that sinking feeling when a difficult topic arises with a friend. It can be connected to relationships or experiences, but it’s that quicksand of loss and hurt that surrounds you when the topic or person comes up.

So how do you transform your emotions after a season of loss? Let’s review the first three steps of this Lockout Series.

  1. First, look in your lockout, or virtual emotional storage unit, and see if there’s anything lurking in corners that needs to be dealt with. Discover your areas that need focus and attention.
  2. Second, discern whether you’ve been pushing it down, or pressing through difficult moments. If you’ve been a double agent, admit it and take that “beat” or pause to focus on lessons you’ve learned along the way.
  3. Third, lay down your old luggage. You can’t run free if you’re held back by old wounds or memories.

Which leads us to today’s thought. Give away the heartache. I’ve got three tips to share.

Tip One:

It’s easier to walk in forgiveness when you’re sprinkled with joy.

This week I encountered a person who was very difficult to deal with when one of my sons was hurt. There was a time when this person could have ripped into my memories. But I found myself walking next to her right after a moving sermon at church. My heart was overflowing, my perspective had been adjusted to the wider world, my gratitude meter was on high. So when I saw her, all I said was how lovely the message was. I walked into a forgiving moment almost automatically. Now there had been much laid down in the way of prayers for forgiveness in the past before this moment. But since I was afresh in that wider hope, it was so much easier to give grace in that time. So my first tip is to find places where joy can alight and you can be refreshed.

Tip Two:

To move from brokenness to resilience, you must find your source of hope.

When you’re weighed down by loss, and dealing with the pain and fear of brokenness, even simple responsibilities become overwhelming. Time does help with healing, but I’ve found a nugget that is critical in moving on from heartache.

My joy can’t be performance-based.

It’s a small but incredibly transforming realization. It leads to great questions, such as: What’s immovable and unshakable in your life? What must you do before you die? What is your life’s greatest purpose? To leave your heartache behind, or shift your focus away from it, connect with these answers and you’ll find unspeakable strength. Strength that comes from hope that will fill again and again with refreshment for your journey.

Tip Three:

It takes a supernatural touch to find the deepest healing.

I’m not talking about Moses on the mountain here. I’m talking about a field of readily available moments that are worth finding. I feel the supernatural in holding a child’s hand, and hugs and snuggles with dear ones. I feel refreshment with gentle spring breezes and taking five minutes to be filled with quiet beauty outdoors. Sometimes that wider perspective comes from exploring a new city or topic. Whatever in your life is quiet, deep, filling, and sustaining might originate from something larger that your own existence. Once I’ve been filled with simple joy straight from the original source, I can give away the hurt and exchange it for a morsel of beauty and faith.

Finally, it’s all right to ask for help. From others, or from the One who created you. Think of it this way, if you were going to cook a new dish, you’d use a recipe, right? How is this any different? Let go of the past and ask to be filled. You might be surprised with new joy and resilience.

Photo courtesy of survivethat.com.

Lay Down Old Luggage

Old luggage weighing you down? Drop it, and run free!

Old luggage weighing you down? Drop it, and run free!

Part Three of the Lockout Series

It’s spring so perhaps you’ve been tidying up as we have in the corners that grow stacks like bunnies and need a fresh approach. It’s a continual struggle for me, this rearming, refocusing, and getting rid of things. I’ve spent time recently sorting out, yet more to go, but I don’t want to miss an opportunity because I’m holding onto something it’s time to part with, and hopefully help someone else along the way.

I once heard a speaker talking about the best ways to help others. He described how impossible it is to run fast in a race when holding bulky luggage. That image has remained and been so true in our lives.

People will tell you when you lose everything as we did after the wildfires swept through, that it’s just “stuff.” And indeed, things are not as important as people. We were grateful to escape the flames without harm. But some of the things we lost that day represented special memories with family, or a talented Aunt who painted, or years of history wrapped in a book or piece of silver. To me things lost represented a precious moment and it took time to heal from having those ripped away. Yet in losing everything, I became more open to receiving a new gift of not making things quite so important.

It made me strive for living a bit lighter, in every sense.

How to live open-handed

That same speaker who discussed not being able to run holding heavy luggage, asked us to open our hands, palm up. Then to pray and give things up that we shouldn’t be holding any longer, that were holding us back. It’s a powerful image, the open hand. It means living with heart’s hope first rather than stuff first. By heart’s hope, I mean determining to focus on how you wish to live and goals you want to achieve rather than continually wading through either old memories or old things that keep you from running free.

What does it take to run free?

When we were in Hawaii this Christmas, we visited an end-of-the-road beach where there were perhaps 30 parking places and miles of beach beneath green forested mountainous terrain. The wind whipped my hair as we hiked around a corner and as far as I could see, it was clear blue waves. No one else was there except us. For a brief moment, I found wild beauty in front of me. I felt so uninhibited and reveled in the pure magnificence. It was difficult to describe for a while, too. Unfettered beauty does that.

But we had no chairs or bulky equipment. We certainly had no luggage with us there. It was just us digging in the sand and walking along watching huge waves crash against the volcanic rocks and golden sand.

That moment sums up how I long to live. Unfettered. Released. In freedom.

It’s a struggle here at home, away from the island. But I encourage you to look in the scary closets teetering with fullness, both in reality and in any damaged corners of your heart, and ask for wisdom about cleaning out to make room for unfettered joy and beauty.

Know that you are not alone, and certainly, it is worth the endeavor to lay it down and walk into greater freedom this day.

Photo by Witthaya Phonsawat courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net.

Are You A Double Agent?

Are you secretly undercover in your own life? Find a better path here.

Are you secretly undercover in your own life? Find a better path here.

Part Two of the Lockout Series

When I say the word “undercover” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For me, it’s secret agents, or double agents. I like spy movies and intrigue.

But here’s a tricky thought: are you your own double agent when it comes to dealing with trials? Are you improving over time or remaining paralyzed in pain?

If you stuff down rather than press through, you may have secretly, stealthily been hampering your own progress.

How’d a double agent get here?

When you’re going through a rough time, sometimes you and your loved ones are in survival mode, just tending to basics to get by. You’re being strong for your family or someone you care about. But with time, eventually you are out of survival and into coping. It’s at that critical point that a writing tool I learned about in crafting good fiction can be so helpful.

It’s called a beat.

Not quite a drumbeat. In writing, it’s the moment your character has a big aha and pauses to absorb it. In any story that’s impacted your life, whether gritty fiction or gripping suspense, if the characters touched your heartstrings they had a telling moment or two where some great lesson was perceived. It felt like you experienced that lesson alongside them, too.

How does a beat feel in real life?

A beat feels like pausing to watch the sunset after a hectic day driving around for errands. The cares of the day melt away and you connect with a lasting moment.

It’s where eternity and value in the now intersect.

It’s like having your family seated around the dinner table and they’re as eager to share kind thoughts as they are to eat. It’s like planting a new garden bed and watering it in at the end of a hard day of work, breathing in the fresh earthy scents, full of promise.

Setting aside a determined moment to focus on lessons learned can be so hard. It requires self-awareness and the ability and desire to process the feelings now, both good and bad, behind pivotal moments in life. But it prevents emotionally volcanic disruptions at later times if you work at it close in to the challenging times.

My hardest one was when my son almost died right after birth. We survived, and he was miraculously healed, but had other complications that kept us on the razor’s edge for over a year on monitors and frequent medical care. The day he got off the monitor, another critical emergency arrived. We weren’t out of the woods. Then another one, all huge emergencies. It was really months later that we began going to the beach more often and taking time outdoors as a family. Delving into a healing moment after so much pain wasn’t only refreshing, it was life giving. Like the first breath of spring on the wind, or exiting an overheated room to the fresh outdoors. Finding time to process along the way, and allowing yourself to do so while giving yourself grace, is really the key to moving forward in life.

It works with good times, too! I’m finishing my proposal soon. We’re hoping for more dates and time with friends. But first, were cleaning out the garage, updating records, and catching up on practical things that need attention. It’s an outward sign mixed with a deeper need to pause and breathe. I want to be ready to take in the delight of finishing this step before making the next one and create room for success along the way.

If I could give you one gift, it’s taking your own beat, or special time this week, to pause and give thanks or grieve if necessary after a difficult time. Cry out over your needs and be grateful for the blessings, too. In the process, you’ll expose any undercover agents lurking in your front yard and disable their control over you.

 

Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Resilience Or Lockout?

Are your difficulties stuck in storage or giving you new freedom?

Are your difficulties stuck in storage or giving you new freedom?

How do you reinvent your trials by fire?

I’ve been polishing my proposal for the manuscript now that the novel is complete and needed something to keep the super book I’m reading open. I reached in the desk drawer and saw this heavy lock. I laid it down with a loud, THUNK! Without realizing it, I’d put possibly the hardest iconic item right on my future dreams—the lock from our storage unit after the fires. EEK!

What a word picture.

This one object protected the photos and items the fire fighters grabbed as our home was in flames. We were so grateful to have any small remnant and some day I’ll tell you the whole story. Suffice is to say, this lock represents the “line in the sand” between our past and the future we stepped into as we left behind what was lost and reached forward into what was to come.

I’ve put some of the struggles we’ve had into my protagonist’s struggle as she lost her hearing in a wildfire. In fact, my great hope is that children will be able to watch Lauren Goldray as she copes with difficulties, and has great adventures, and overcomes the evil Overlord. That they won’t be so unprotected and will find good resources to deal with issues that cause heartache.

So the question for you is this:

How are you using your heartache?

Is it still locked away or have you allowed yourself to be transformed?

If you have, bravo! Please share your insights here.

But if you’re struggling with how to be transformed, stay tuned for the Lockout Series where I’ll discuss tips to:

  • Process what’s still under cover
  • Lay down luggage holding you back
  • Give away the heartache
  • Resolve to be resilient, and walk in freedom

Don’t let your past define your future! Share this link with someone who’s having a rough season in life, too.