+ direction, expectation, and vision +

I have had it. Being limited by others is one thing, but self-limitation is something that we must refuse to partake in. There has been much growing under the surface for awhile now, and it’s about to sprout. It’s going to cause a scene. In my personal life, in my professional life, and everywhere in-between. I’m getting my vision back, and I’ll explain this soon, as well as what it looks like. But first, some backstory.

Direction, Expectation and Vision.

As kids, we were most likely given one of these things, and maybe two. The problem with this recipe for life is that it’s just like baking: if one ingredient is missing, it won’t rise.

The first half of my childhood was marked with direction and expectation.

By expectation, I mean hope merged with well-meaning standards. Expectancy to do well, expectantancy that I was fully equipped to succeed. Let yourself escape from the “my parents pushed me too hard” for a moment and recognize the healthy benefit of expectation. Children should never doubt that they have what it takes to be and become an amazing, fully alive, valuable human being. Complete with glittering stars and confetti.

Direction. Direction is a gift. If we were blessed with ‘involved’ parents or teachers, they pointed us in healthy directions. They laid out our schooling in a wise and effective way, with our best interests in mind. They recognized our strengths and put corrolating opportunities in our paths, encouraging us along the way. They affirmed both our interests and our bents, and showed us how to manifest our talents in real, tangible ways. They introduced structure to our creative, questioning minds and taught us how the world worked.

But vision, I lacked.

Vision. The ability to see the purpose, the meaning, the big picture. Something that resonates in the depths of your heart that fights when all odds are against you. What makes good men great. There was no ultimate goal, and no driving force that had been anchored in my heart that held me faithful to a consistent path.

Vision can go one of two ways. Vision can be implanted deep into your heart, the core of the being that is You. Or, it can become a sometimes-mocking voice that taunts you with not being enough until you accomplish enough to reach something distant and unattainable. Healthy vision is drawn out of who you are and the purpose of your life. Unhealthy vision is simply expectation on steroids. Re-read that.

I’ll cut my parents a break on this. It’s nearly impossible to give a young child true vision within
the bounds of his or her education without it seeming like expectation taken too far. Debilitating, can’t-live-up-to, never-good-enough expectancy. In order to impart vision to a child, a clean line must be drawn between school (accomplishments) and his or her personal identity. Children define themselves by their schooling – and so they should! It’s the majority of their daily life. They aren’t old enough to compartmentalize and to separate who they are from what they do and how they do it. Still, if you are influencing the life of a child, make every effort to draw that line, and plant seeds deep into their soul – let go of pruning for a bit.

Let me transition to the second half of my “education years.”

My unhealthy vision culminated when I was 14 years old. My parents were ecstatic. Finally, I cared. I was motivated, I pushed myself, and it seemed to them that I had finally found something I loved. Any outsider watching my outrageous ‘success’ would have assumed years of direction, expectation and vision had finally collided and was resulting in the type of fireworks that are every parents’ dream for their child. What they saw was me latching onto success in the political and educational realm – something “clicking” for me internally.

What was really going on was the invisible birth of a new vision. A new love. Unfortunately, it manifested itself in a way that (I believe) caused my parents to withdraw their direction. Perhaps it seemed that it wasn’t needed – direction was complete. I became obsessed with politics, teaching, traveling, staffing, speaking, debate, week-long conferences – all at the age of 14. Not because I loved the content, but because I LOVED people. Networking. Connections. Traveling. Seeing new things, feeling new things, hearing new things. I loved the necessity of attention to detail, organization – all infused with Big Ideas. A new love and a new vision was growing rapidly, but the content was all wrong.

This continued throughout high-school, literally ’til the end of the first semester of senior year when I had 43 credits and only needed 21 to graduated. I was at the end of my rope with classes on politics, American history and economics. Yes, they interested me – but so did other things. I was burned out. Two isolated, off-color incidents had pulled me out of both major high-school social networks (within the political & debate realms) and I was left with a handful of things I just didn’t care about anymore, revealing the unhealthy vision in all of it’s nakedness.

Other things – other people – were pulling on my heart strings, and I was slowly processing through this unhealthy vs healthy vision that slowly been weaving itself through my heart and mind.

I still had the expectation, and I had conflicting visions. And no direction.

So I quit. I spent the second half of senior year working, trying to deal with family issues, found that I couldn’t – and left. I dropped everything. I moved out, moved to Phoenix, and started a new life. I made some mistakes, yes – but when we’re burned out, we burn bridges. And sometimes when we reach a level of inner turmoil, we have to give ourselves forgiveness in advance, with the understanding that death precedes life. And more often than not, that pain births vision.

The next five years was spent filtering, re-filtering, and identifying vision. Finding the direction that I lost. Turning down the expectation a few notches. Seeking wisdom and fighting to find the correct measurements of these three that will result in something that will rise.

I explain this all to you in hopes that you will somehow be able to pick out some structure points that connect with your story. In hopes that you will begin to draw the line between your expectation-on-steroids vision and your true, heart-and-soul vision. In hopes that you can grasp and appreciate the outrageous task that is parenting, and cut your parents some slack. In hopes that you will make a conscious effort to draw the line between actions and heart in your children, now or later. In hopes that you recognize the lack of direction given to you in your own life, come to terms with it, and now seek it out.

It’s never too late, and your life is still as pliable as it ever was. Truly.

Find the sources of your expectation, or lack thereof.

Find the sources of your direction, or lack thereof.

Find the sources of your vision, and your lack thereof.

Reflect, be released, choose love, and move forwards.

Vision is everything – fight for it.

I will post more on vision later; I know that not nearly enough was said about it, and I raised some internal questions that I haven’t answered yet. Until then, I will email a copy of Danielle LaPorte’s Authentic Dreaming Worksheet to anyone that would like it. Leave your email in the comments. She’s a vision addict, and an amazing asset in recovering it.

– – –

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+ love & 100 strangers project + platonic love + greater things +

I picked my Love + 100 Strangers Project back up this weekend! It’s been too long, and I want to finish it so badly. For those of you who don’t know what it is, I have been approaching strangers all across Columbus and asking their definition of love. I take their photo, and ask their first name and age. It’s amazing what you can tell about a person by their definition of love.

“Love is caring so much about someone.”
Jaylen. Age 6.

– – –

Platonic cross-sex relationships. Can they happen? This is so fascinating. A woman named Juliet writes her experience with having a best friend of the opposite sex, and gives some surprising and enlightening statistics on cross-sex relationships over the last century. Her best friend, Jeff, then writes his response; “his side” of the story. I’ve been on the front lines of this change in cultural views of cross-sex relationships and finally am justified in many of my best friend, brother-sister relationships that my family and outsiders have consistently challenged and questioned. Awesome.

– – –

This morning I got this via text from darling Katie Holley. It completely turned my day around.

“What must you face? What fears haunt you? What failures have marked you? What darkness has consumed you and stolen from you, robbed you, sucked out of your soul the dream God created you to flesh out? Maybe there’s a dream buried deep inside your soul and God is waiting to reconstruct it, to put the bones back together. If he commands you to act and you trust him, you will see all of creation move in concert to accomplish in you what you were created to do.”

Girl, I love you..

+ gifts: intimate, all-consumed, enraptured. +

Before I get into this post that accidentally turned into a book, look at these photos! As a little girl, I was captivated with water, and would sit in the tub for hours splashing, pouring and watching it. Oh love love love.

In my minds eye, I can see “a perfect relationship.” Not in terms of place, time, success, looks, or circumstance – but emotions, joy, trust, honesty and openness. Oneness. Thanks to hundreds of movies, we all have the image of a woman running at a man, full-speed, and throwing herself into his arms – ecstatic and all-consumed with the heart that is before her. Nothing else in her line of sight. Joy painted across her face. It’s almost a renewed form of innocence. Love does that.

Anyway, I was thinking about these things as I drove home late last night after hearing a teaching on marriage and oneness at JHouse (such perfect timing for me, somehow – even though I’m as single as it gets) – bouncing images off the walls of my mind. I was a mess when I had showed up at JHouse and Kelly was a doll and spent the first chunk of the service praying and crying with me in an empty hallway.

Forgive me as I piece these thoughts together poorly.

Months ago, someone gave me an image of God offering me a wedding band – he is my husband, my faithful. The whole God is my husband/boyfriend thing has always really irritated me, by the way. It wasn’t til I switched out the traditional word for what that relationship WAS to what it MEANT – what I needed and wanted in that relationship – my faithful, my rock, supporter, encourager, helper, provider, lover, companion and confidantethat I realized that yes, this is who God is for me. It gets harder still when we’re also told he is our Father, and then that Jesus sticks closer than a brother – a strange sort of family that clearly wouldn’t work in human terms. But remove the limitations of relationships defined on earth, and think about what your heart desires. That one heart to cleave to, run to, fall back on, love on and be loved by, trust wholly, to teach you, to provide for you, to listen to you, to lead you, to sit with you, and forever on. The point is that God more than fills that unrelenting need in all ways, and in ways we can’t understand.

Anyway, I’ve accepted that he is the other half in this all-encompassing relationship for me, but in no way has it matched up with that first “perfect, beautiful relationship” I described at the beginning of this post. Some days I’ve felt let down. Disappointed. On bad days I beg him to show me where that relationship is. Eventually, I think we all get to the place where we decide it’s not worth it. If being in a relationship with God is just for the sake of being in one, and having that relationship spot filled, then meh. We could just do without. I could always come back. Oh, that line. (Would we ever want to leave someone that fits that ‘perfect relationship’ description? Would we ever want to leave when we are crazy-in-love? Food for thought.)

As I was thinking through what Kelly had prayed over me and what we had both heard from God, I got stuck trying to complete this image of God being one who watched over my heart at every minute of the day, and showed up with gifts for me just when he knew I needed them. Why does this not satisfy? Why do I not see the gifts as real gifts? Why do I swallow them down as either “I deserve this,” and give him no thanks, or “I don’t deserve this, let me work harder,” again, with no true thanks. I kept fighting through to try to mesh the image of God’s love and provision with my ‘perfect relationship’ image, and finally I found yet another wall my heart had still standing. It has no name, and a cause unique to no one. It’s what develops as a result of flawed relationships with the people in our lives that give to us, added onto the fact that we ourselves have flawed hearts and minds.

This wall – more like chains, or a mask – has kept me from being myself with God when he gives to me. It’s kept me from being a woman in love. This mask has kept me from understanding why gifts are given to me and what my response should be, making them not gifts at all. (Isn’t that just how the deceiver works? Taking something beautiful and making it into something that it’s not?) One of the greatest lies we can ever believe about God is that he doesn’t really give gifts.

Gift: something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone; something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.

Let me put it this way. When a man brings a gift to his beautiful woman that he knows she will love – what is his greatest reward in giving it to her? What does he expect in return? He expects no *thing* in return – this is what defines it as a GIFT. But it is given with a hope – a hope of joy, ecstasy, love, thankfulness, and total satisfaction with him. The hope of that ‘perfect relationship’ manifesting itself in all of its glory. I finally meshed the images together.

When God gives me a gift, he desires nothing from me – but that I throw myself into his arms and tell him a dozen times over how much I love it, how happy it makes me, how much I love him, and how treasured and loved I feel.

Any man reading this, I am sure, will agree with me. That when he brings his girl any gift, there is no greater reward than to see her eyes light up and be completely enraptured with what he gave, and her repeated thanks – attested by the joy on her face. That it pales in comparison to her giving an expected thank you and offering to do something for him tomorrow in return. Yes, men?

Women (and men), if you feel you don’t deserve a gift, know that you’ve already forgotten what a gift is. Begin to learn to be crazy in love with Him. Be ecstatic when you receive your gifts. Because that is why they are given to you.

I hope this made sense.

This is my prayer – that we learn to be the woman enraptured with our gifts. That we learn to abandon the lie that tells us we have to make up for and repay our gifts, and by doing so, disappoint the giver and devalue the gift. Because don’t you know that the gift is given because he wants to watch us be delighted?

I have no theological evidence to support this, but I would humbly submit that perhaps the more often we respond to our gifts in this way, the more he will love to give to us.

– – –
You will be made rich in every way
so that you can be generous on every occasion,
and through us your generosity
will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

If you, then, though you are evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts
to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:10.

+ nirrimi + crave +

It’s not very often that I fall in love with an entire photoset. One or two that catch my eye or pull on my heart, yes. But Nirrimi tends to be different. This week has been a week for growing up by growing down. Pushing my emotions further and not allowing myself to say, “I don’t know why _____.” Anyway, Nirrimi caught and trapped my emotions in this set and I wanted to share.

A reminder to shoot truth and not perfection. I am still so far from where I wish I was.

i crave all these things from my past. icy water slipping over uncertain toes molding to the pebbles on the creek floor. sitting and trying to see as far into the woods as i can. mashing slate and painting faces. making dishes from mud and circling my kitchen cave with them. falling. being hurt. watching bits of green push up from the dirt. hiding snakes from mom. keeping baby mice alive. stripping in a hot bath tub. clover bracelets. pressing flowers. pulling weeds. catching fish with bare hands. making homemade bread. tulips as big as my face. country bike rides. falling asleep by the fireplace. bleaching socks. sledding and frostbite. the sun setting on the city. mountains. deserts. being small.


+ make the heart swell +

Sometimes I think I need someone in my life to take photos of me so that I can remind myself I know how to dress. I am horrible at seeing myself objectively. Hah.

I have a binge-relationship with Tumblr. I’ve abandoned it lately, and today I remedied that. Over-remedied.

Sometimes I feel like this blog is my mind and my Tumblr is my heart. Or perhaps this blog is my left brain and my Tumblr is my right.

Anyway. Things I love today.