2017: The Year of the ROAR

When I thought about what to title this blog, my first thought was: 2016, You SUCKED: Thank You for Being Over.

Have you seen the video meme floating around the internet of Chris Farley’s non-stop tumble down a steep hill? Well, that’s a perfect depiction of what 2016 felt like to me. Especially the first half of the year.

Yes, no doubt, 2016 was the worst year of my life, but upon further reflection, 2016 was also the best year of my life…

Yes, I moved away from home, but I fell in love with Austin, Texas.
Yes, I left my family and friends, but God gave me new family and amazing friends.
Yes, I had my heart broken, but God renewed my hope that I can and will love again.
Yes, I lost my mom to cancer, but I feel her with me and know she would be proud of me.
Yes, I battled depression, but God won the battle in me before he won it for me.

Because the first six months sucked so badly, I decided to redeem the last six months… So, I did… And, boy, I LIVED IT UP.

I went to as many concerts as my budget could afford: The Lumineers, Taylor Swift, American Authors, The Fray, NeedtoBreathe, Phil Wickam and the Outcry Tour featuring Elevation Worship, Hillsong Young and Free, Rend Collective and Kari Jobe.

I went to Formula1 even though I had NO idea what the heck it was. (In case you don’t know what it is, F1 is the highest class of single-seat auto racing that is sanctioned by the Federation International Automobile.)

I started (very-casually) dating again and even two-stepped with a guy at a country bar.

I explored breathtakingly beautiful Texas hiking trails and swimming holes.

I took ballet classes.

I took up running.

I had real days off that I took full advantage of.

I got completely out of debt.

I read 18 books in 8 months.

I attended the BRAVE Conference and heard my favorite author, Annie F. Downs, speak.

I went to the Dallas vs. Washington game at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving day all by myself.

I went to my first Texas high school football game and I watched the UT Longhorns get pulverized by TCU.

I went to Magnolia Market and the Silos in Waco, Texas, with Nicole.

I was a part of a successful campus church plant at the legendary Austin City Limits venue.

I produced LifeAustin’s Christmas production after I thought I’d NEVER produce a church production ever again.

I was a part of an amazing team that hosted over 6,000 people for Christmas Eve services.

I downsized over half my belongings and couldn’t feel better about it.

I finally feel like I am living. Really living. Authentically. And, it feels so good.

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My word for 2016 was BRAVE. Which is the exact word I needed to go through what I did and come out on the other side the person God’s shaping me to be.

My word for 2017 is: ROAR (Cue the Katy Perry song, please!)

Did you know lions not only roar to proclaim territory but also to rally straying members of the pride? That’s what I feel God wants me to do in 2017 and he’s confirmed it over and over… Reclaim the territory He gave me and rally my heart, mind and resources around my dream and calling.

After a year of feeling like I was face down in the arena, this year is about the comeback. My worst fears have already come true, so it’s going to take A LOT to scare me now. It’s amazing what you’ll risk when you feel like you have nothing to lose.

This year, I will be bold as a lion. I will chase my dream. I will pursue my calling, and, you’re gonna hear me ROAR. Ar! Ar! Ar! Ar! Arrrr! (Thank you, Katy Perry.)

2017, let’s go.

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The Calm Before the Storm

It happened a year ago today. The door bell rang and my life, as I knew it, was never the same. It was the warning of the storm headed straight my way. And, it wasn’t just any storm – it was the perfect storm. I never saw it coming either. I’m thankful someone else did and loved me enough to wake me up, both figuratively and literally, to warn me. I still get anxiety when I hear door bells ring.

Living on the East Coast my whole life, I’ve been through a few hurricanes. There’s always the eery calm before the storm. You’ve been warned. You know it’s coming. You’ve stocked up on water, flash lights, batteries, generators, and bread. Now all you can do is batten down the hatches, wait and worry. You wait and worry about who and what will survive. You pray the storm will pass and everything in your life will be in tact when it’s over – including you.

That’s how that day and the next 47 days felt. Wait, worry, repeat.

As I sat in the eery silence of the calm before the storm, I heard God’s still, small voice whisper:

I’ve got you.

In that moment I knew no matter what devastation the storm caused, I was going to survive. Not without feeling like I was going to die first though…

The perfect storm destroyed everything in its’ path. My dreams. My identity. My self-worth. My relationship with the church I worked at for 12 years and gave 33 years of my life to. Not to mention the people I thought were grace-filled friends and leaders.

But, through that storm and the next two storms, God kept His promise to me. He was with me through them all. Even after the storms passed and I sat in the wreckage of my sin – He never left me.

It’s ironic the day after the hurricane seems like the most beautiful day God’s ever created. The sun is shining brighter than ever and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Interesting. But, yet – there’s devastation all around. It’s a mess – yet it’s beautiful. A beautiful mess. And, only God can take our mess and make it our message, or shall we say, our story. He makes it a beautiful message. A beautiful story of His grace.

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It’s taken almost a year to pick myself up out of the beautiful mess. And, by God’s beautiful grace, I haven’t just survived – I’ve thrived. In fact…

I’m dreaming again.
I’m believing the best is yet to come.
I’m rejecting the lie of being disqualified.
I’m confident and have clarity of my calling now more than ever.
I’m owning my story.
I’m not allowing a couple scenes to define my story.
I’m chasing the lion. (This will make sense in a later blog)

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned, never underestimate what God can do in a year. When that door bell rang, I never imagined I’d be thriving and most of all, dreaming again – just 365 days later. I never imagined He could take the wreckage of my sin and make it into something beautiful. If he can do that in 365 days, I can’t imagine what life will be like 365 days from now. Knowing God, it’s gonna be good – no matter what.