Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What "Fearless" Did to Me in 2013

Out of my 18th floor apartment, against the night sky, a thousand square window lights glow back at me.  It strikes me on this night.  It's one of those, “Is this really my life?” moments.  And I have to chuckle.

Because sometimes the very thing you fear becomes that which you love. 

This past year was my year of “Fearless.”  I stepped into 2013 with fears riding on my shoulders.  So I chose the word fearless as my One Word, as a way to battle those fears. 

I feared the stress and change that our global move would cost our family.

I feared that my nature-loving, Colorado soul would wither living in the big beast of a city called Beijing. 

After two years of amazing Southern California weather, I feared/dreaded the bitter cold kiss of winter.              

I feared that this dream that burned in my heart would perhaps not grow real. 

I feared that I wouldn’t have the time or talent to make this dream actually happen.

But as 2013 unfolded, and as I came head on with each of these fears, here’s what I learned:

Fearless is not the absence of fear.  It’s moving forward in the face of fear.  One step and then the next. 

I simply kept doing the next thing, gripping the hand of the One leading me.  I never once felt fearless.  But somehow moving head on into those fears, step by fearful step, allows me to look back on those fears now and marvel. 

Because we made it through the global move.  And it was every bit as hard or harder than I imagined it would be, but it was through that heart-stripping time of transition that God drew me to his heart, and to the heart work he wanted to do in me. 

And now, nestled in the heart of Beijing, I am finding that I (shocker!) LOVE this big city.  I love the pulsating life.  I love the depth of the history, the opportunities, the influence, the draw that has brought millions here.

And I love that we have memories in this place.  Memories of arriving here as a fresh, young and clueless couple.  I love driving by the store where we bought our first pregnancy test.  I love pointing out to our daughter where her first home was.  I love telling my son, this is the man who drove us to the hospital.  You were almost born in the back of his car.  

And now here in the full-blown frigidness of winter, I’m finding that, no, I don’t love the cold, never will, but really it’s not THAT bad.  Because look!  Long johns (two pair!), and ear muffs, and scarves, and gloves, and a big puffy coat, and furry chaps, and bike mittens, and a bike blanket!  They make a difference.  And I’m not even embarrassed to be seen like this.  Call for a fashion intervention, please!  And yes, this is what I actually drive...and I love it.

And then there’s my dream that became real.  I wasn’t really, truly afraid that this dream would fail, because it had been so ordained, so clearly meant to be.  But partway into our launch fund last summer, when our funds sat frozen for days and days, fear began to creep in.  I began to think about the fact that if it did fail, it would be an incredibly public failure for me.  Because I had told literally EVERYONE I’ve ever known about Velvet Ashes. 

That’s when I realized that the pain of not realizing this dream would be greater than the pain of failure.

I told my husband that as we were driving down a California freeway.  And I was surprised at the quiver in my voice, the tears that sprang to my eyes.  I knew how deeply this dream had been planted in my heart. 

When I looked failure in the eye and said, “I’d rather have you than to not try at all,” then suddenly fear lost its grip.  I was free to move forward.  Free to watch the gift of it all happen. 

And it is happening.  Women serving in corners around the globe are coming to Velvet Ashes and saying, “I’m so glad to know I’m not alone.”  Women are clearing their timid throats, they’re finding their brave voices, and they’re offering up their hearts.  I am one of them. 

Here’s to living Fearless. 

Coming soon, my One Word for 2014.  Happy New Year, friends!  How was 2013 for YOU?

Photo credit: x72.xanga.com

Friday, December 20, 2013

Expectation - The Real Joy-Killer?

They say curiosity killed the cat.  But I think not.

No, “expectation” - that’s the real killer.  The killer of joy, the thief of peace, the weight upon my back that can drag me down heavy and slow.  

When I expect results in my work…

When I expect my Christmas day to look and taste and feel just like it did back on the other side of the world…

When I expect my children to be the model TCKs, friendly, flexible, gracious, and generous in all situations…

When I expect there to be butter on the shelf at the store …

When I expect my teammates to be my BFFs…

When I expect to sleep on a plane…

When I expect my marriage to be Hollywood romance

When I expect everyone to understand my choice to live in a land far away…

When I expect hot water…

When I expect the plumber to show up with tools, not just a flashlight…

You really have no idea how much you expect until you step into a world where your expectations fall flat, one after the other. 

Read more over at Velvet Ashes...