skinny-dipping

I shocked my husband this past weekend, shoot, I shocked myself to be quite honest. We had an opportunity this past weekend, thanks to several wonderful people who stepped in and helped us with our girls, to escape for 3 full days. I found this beautiful bed and breakfast “off the map” tucked away on five acres of secluded, beautiful, wildlife sprinkled sanctuary in Abita Springs, LA and we escaped!  It was so good and so needed!

It takes awhile to settle in, to let the peace and nothingness of a space like that invade you. A small two story cabin tucked into the woods, huge porch swing, gravel paths, a golf cart to drive around the property and a “private” pool completed the scene. A little corner of heaven tucked away right there in Abita Springs, who knew?!

We decided to go check out the pool the second evening we were there, a small hot tub that wasn’t so hot, a rock waterfall, the sun falling behind the trees that surrounded us in the middle of this forest.  All alone, I felt brave! So I did it, I took off my bathing suit! He was shocked, you see I am not that girl! I am modest, I cover up, I barely even wear a bathing suit in front of him in public. I am a shorts and tank top sort of pool sporter, I do NOT get naked in public!

I am not sure what came over me but I felt daring and every now and again I like to shock him, heehee, it keeps him guessing and off balance in a good way!

Our relationships can become so predictable! So boring! The same old, same old! Sex in this position, with the lights off, with lots of rules that govern our hands and mouths and eyes! Romance looks like this and not that. Offering each other love the way we want it instead of the way the other needs it. Routines and ruts that bore us to tears and keep us stuck in boring relationships.

This pool scene is such a picture of the course my life is on right now – not that any of you will EVER see me physically naked, that I can promise you, I am not that brave, but living naked in so many other ways. I see myself stripping off my proverbial bathing suit as I begin to share the intimate parts of my life with you through this blog, in my classes, in my friendships.

I don’t feel like I have been hiding, if you know me and follow me at all, I am a pretty “put it out there” kind of girl – REAL is my motto because this world needs us to show up, masks off and bear ourselves so that others can heal and get free. Your story, in its unadulterated version, frees others to be ok in their own skin, in their own story. When we hear other peoples’ stories, the messes they were and see where they have come from and are now, a big sigh of relief is released as someone stops holding their breath, “Oh, ok, I’m ok, it’s going to be ok!”

We give others permission to be a mess in the middle!

But this new found “naked” freedom is really about an invitation into the quieter thoughts, the deeper things, the hidden and more private parts. I am pretty sure that a year ago I would never have taken off that bathing suit and if I had, you would never have known about it. It’s stretching to put this out there – some of you imagining the scene, me naked, oh my goodness, stop it, please just don’t – but we can’t help it, our minds go places and that’s uncomfortable to me.

I like to be seen in a “good” light and I like to control what you see about me and how you see me.

But the truth is, that is not my business and I must stop letting what I think you might think control me!

It has stunted my growth for far too long!

To be daring feels dangerous and makes me want to hold my breath!

Can I really push publish at the end of this?

Can I really put this out into the world?

Can I allow people to see and know and think whatever the hell they want?

Can I?

Do I dare?

I DO DARE! 

It’s where I am, where I am going!

Learning to be no matter what you think about it! Moving into some of what is coming is going to shock some of you, it’s going to challenge some of you, it’s going to embarrass and make the blood rise into your face as you read and hear some of what I might say. It’s going to possibly make some of you stop following, stop reading…I hope not but you might! It’s going to make some of you stand up and cheer, “Finally! It’s about time!” (you know who you are). It’s going to move some of you into your own “it’s about time” freedom. It’s going to dare you! And at the end of it all – you may be skinny dipping too! Who knows?!

Let’s stop putting rules around what it’s all supposed to look like.

Let’s start breaking down the walls we have built to keep us.

Let’s step out of the boxes we have boxed ourselves into.

It doesn’t matter what other people think, I will be telling myself that alot this season,

It doesn’t matter! 

I am good with my God. He is delighted and pleased with me. He is directing my path. He created me naked and unashamed. He gave me a husband to enjoy and a body to share. He says, “Sex is a good!” It was all His idea. He invites each of us into this freedom. The only thing that matters is what He thinks. He calls me to be daring! And to free others to be daring!dare2

So here’s a challenge –

I dare you to do the next uncomfortable thing that will begin to free you on your own

“naked and unashamed” journey.

One small baby step,

I dare you! 

And I would love to hear about it

IF YOU DARE!!!

being an adult

My mom is the queen of folding clothes. I love when I am not home and she drops by to see my girls or bring me coupons she has been saving and there just happens to be a load of laundry beckoning her to be folded. She is the best folder ever! Creased and neat, even your panties feel prettier after she is done folding them!! And fitted sheets, she could put anyone to shame. Too bad there isn’t a “best folded fitted sheet” contest – she would win hands down! I’m just saying…my mom is better than your mom, especially when it comes to folding fitted sheets!

I, on the other hand, suck at it! I just stuff my panties in the top the drawer and that cursed sheet, well, I attempt but it just looks like a crumpled up wad of material when I am finished! A waste of my time in the attempting!

Adulting is hard! Some days I do it better than others but it can be so hard sometimes!

Marc and I have been on the crazy train lately. Not a full-time passenger but on and off, on and off, like a hobo moving from one city to another! We ride for awhile and jump off only to find ourselves boarding again in the madness.

I don’t tend to be one of those that finds a devil behind every door – it aggravates me, really, how people blame the devil for their own stupidity! It’s irresponsible in my opinion. Easier to say, “The devil did it” than to be accountable to our own soul hurts and the damage we do in the process of protecting, retaliating, withdrawing. Do I believe the devil is the slick motivator behind the scenes? YES! But I don’t believe its “demons” doing your dirty work all the time. For most of us the devil showed up early on…laid down some pretty big lies, destroyed your heart and then left you to yourself…you don’t need a demon to torment, you do a pretty good job on yourself and others in your life without any help from a demonic prodder.

But their are times in our lives when I believe his satanic movement is heightened and spinning us out of control. Marc and I have been kneaded, like Playdoh in his hands, this last month. Just stuck in old stuff, both feeling misunderstood and paralyzed in our own pain to reach out and comfort the other. Old stuff has a way of doing that. Flooded with painful memories we can get pressed into a corner erecting a brick fortress to wall us “safe” in an effort to guard our bleeding hearts!

I hate that dance! Back and forth – embrace, push away!

Move in close, spin out to distance.

So as we lay in bed last night, defeated and lost to one another I prayed for the compassion to reach for my husband, to comfort him, to reassure him, to be there for him. It didn’t come immediately, the paralysis didn’t end as quickly as I would have liked, I fell asleep licking my own wounds, as close to the edge of my side of the bed as possible creating that 7 inch space between us that may as well be a mile to bridge. Rigid, Hard, Impenetrable!

But God heard my prayer and spoke to me with a dream!

A scary dream at first!

In the dream we are laying in bed, there is a baby bed in the room. We are praying and as we are praying a soft light is coming from the baby bed and I can see a shadow of a baby moving in the bed. We get up to go look at it and it’s a beautiful baby boy with dark hair like Marc’s and deep chocolate eyes like most of our children’s eyes. He is precious. Then suddenly I realize he is a demon and we must kill it (sorry this gets scary, remember I told you that a second ago). Marc begins to strangle it and as he does its eyes turn black and it morphs into a creepy demon thing then turns to ash. (SCARY!)

In the dream I feel scared and fighting the panic within. Dreaming about demons is scary business. Then is comes back to life, it is back in our room on the floor, a small child about 4 years old. At first I feel fearful then something rises up in me and fear is gone. We must kill it! I don’t remember how we accomplish that task but we get the job done. Then its back – a 10 year old this time – but not as beautiful and innocent this time – its true form peeking through the exterior. Rotten, spaced out teeth reveal its true nature. I also notice that she has bright blue mascara on – maybe a tactic to hide, to appear more beautiful, that we might not see it for what it is. Instead of killing it this time I take it by the hand, I bring it to my children explaining to them that this is a demon, a demon that has caused them to feel rejected, insulted, betrayed and that they are to treat her the way she has invited others to treat them…it disappeared when I spoke this.

Beat the devil at his own game.

We must see the game, take it by the hand and call its bluff!

The next part of the dream Marc and I are in an attic and we are united, ready to fight together. He turns to me and says, ” I need you! I need you to help me find my words!” I nod and then I woke up!

WOW!

But it wasn’t over yet…I heard God speaking to my heart, His soft, gentle voice prompting, prodding, nudging…”Put your arm around your husband, embrace him.”

I don’t want to do that Lord! I am still mad at him, He doesn’t deserve my love, haven’t you seen how he has hurt me for so long all these years. My flesh wars with God making her case!

But God…it’s not fair, don’t ask me to do that!

And in the same moment my spirit reaches in obedience, I turn and pull him close.

I hear the Lord say, “Seduce your husband. Seduce your husband.” He presses me to embrace vulnerability, to offer myself and push past the fear of rejection, to move in with compassion and passion. My head argues, my body surrenders – the war between the flesh and the spirit!

The walls come crumbling down, grace wins everytime!

holding 2

As we lay embracing I hear God whispering to me, “Tell him..I hear his prayers, He matters to Me, He is important to Me, He is My son, He brings Me great joy, I like hanging out with Him, He makes Me happy, I have not forgotten him.”

So I whisper these sweet nothings into my husband’s ear, his tears leak, wetting my face.

(A little need to know: 5 minutes before I woke up to embrace Marc he was awake praying for God to help him…he could tell I was dreaming as he lay there praying.) – Pretty cool huh? God heard his prayer and sent me – his Ezer Kenegdo – to help!

Ezer Kenegdo is the Hebrew word God used to describe Eve when He created her. In Scripture the word ezer is used 24 times, once to describe Eve and the other 23 times to describe the Holy Spirit.

 “Ezer is used twenty four times in the Old Testament. Only twice does it refer to Eve. Sixteen times it refers to God as a “helper” when a savior or protector is needed against an enemy. For example, Exodus 18:4 states “…for the God of my father, [was] mine ezer and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh.”  In this case, the LORD killed Pharaoh.  Again in Deuteronomy 33:7 ezer is used: “Hear, O LORD, the cry of Judah…be his ezer against his foes.” The writer is beseeching the LORD to come through with might and power. Deuteronomy 33:29 reads “…the LORD…is your shield and ezer and your glorious sword. Your enemies cower before you.”
http://drwalterbramson.com/what-is-an-azer/

Pretty powerful thought?! We were created to save, to protect against the enemy.

Marc asked me what I thought the baby represented in the dream – I think its a symbol of how the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. A small offense, innocent, not meant to cause much harm, seemingly insignificant – it passes over our hearts, we dismiss it, make light of it, it’s tiny at first but it gets lodged in our hearts and it grows. We fight it back, kill it, if you will, but never really address it, take its hand and give it the attention it needs to move past it, so it gets bigger until its smack dab in the middle of you pushing you to the edge of your side of the bed.

We have to turn into, fight together, reach for one another, help the other find their “words” – we need each other – we were created to “save” and “protect” – God made you woman – strong and powerful, a mighty warrior readied for battle –

you literally scare the hell out of your relationships.

sword

The devil does not want you to know the power you wield – you are his greatest adversary. Get up off your belly and stop crawling around letting him step on your neck! You were created to crush his head with your heel! STAND UP! God calls you Ezer Kenegdo, He thinks so very highly of you! He likens you to His Holy Spirit – what an amazing compliment.

He whispers sweet nothings to you today:

“I hear your prayers,

abbaYou matter to Me,

You are important to Me,

You are My daughter, My beloved,

You bring Me great joy,

I like hanging out with You,

You make Me happy,

I have not forgotten You.”

 

What are the dreams dancing in your heart?

Have you forgotten what it is that you love? What you were passionate about? Who you are?

We do that…we forget!

And it’s important to remember!

I have been encouraging some of my clients to get back in touch with this part of their hearts by creating dream boards. A few friends of mine recently did this and shared them with me, I had forgotten how powerful this exercise is! They had pictures and words that illustrated lost dreams buried in the busyness that this life brings. Images that tickled the passions deep in their soul that have laid dormant, quietly waiting to be invited to dance. Words that resonated from a deep yearning clawing to rise to the surface.

dream boardIt’s a powerful thing to find yourself again! To see the real you stand up and take center stage can be scary but when the spotlight blinds you to audience of onlookers, you are left alone to dance in the moment with the authentic, vulnerable, courageous you!

I was blessed years ago to attend John and Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating Retreat in Colorado with an amazing group of women. The beautiful setting, the rich messages, the time in prayer was soul breathed. The day started with breakfast and then a couple of morning sessions, break for lunch and time to relax. During one of those lazy afternoon breaks we sat around the lodge having coffee and visiting. The leader of our group asked the question to us, “If you could do, see, go anywhere, what would it be?” She went around the circle, each lady sharing her dream. When she got to me I was at a loss! I really had no idea and it triggered me! My heart had lost the capacity to dream…Proverbs 13:12 reminds us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick…”  There had been dreams in my heart that hadn’t been realized and over the years I quit wishing for them to come true. I stopped dreaming because it felt too painful in the waiting. I hadn’t realized this until I was asked that question in that circle.

After lunch, we met in small groups for a time of pray for one another. This prayer time was powerful, each woman took no more than 10 minutes to share a part of her story and then we would sit in silence and wait on the Holy Spirit to speak to us with a word or through an image for that woman. So when it was my turn I shared that fresh experience of forgetting how to dream, realizing that in my dissapointment I had actually cut off my heart from the passion and desire that was housed there. And then we waited for the Holy Spirit to breathe…

Each woman in that circle imparted a gift into to me that day, a holy, inspired word specifically spoken to them for me. It was powerful! The last one to speak shared this…”I am not sure what this means but I see you dressed in a ballerina tutu spinning.” I had no idea what that meant, I never took dancing as a little girl, I was a gymnast for awhile, but not a dancer. It made no sense to me but ok I received it knowing God would reveal in His timing, which coincidentally was just a few hours away.

After that small group time we reconvened with everyone for dinner and then attended an evening session. Stasi Eldredge took the stage and began talking about DREAMING! It was bizarre, everything I had shared with the group, she spoke to. I felt like she had been standing outside the door of our room listening to my heart’s cry during our small group time. I was blown away, this session was specifically for me…it’s as if I could hear God whispering, ” I hear you, I know your disappointments, I remember the dreams that danced in your heart, I have not forgotten you.” I was overwhelmed.

And if that wasn’t enough…He just showed off in this next moment.

Stasi asked us to take out our journals and begin to make a “Dreams List” that included any and every dream we have or might have. Anything lofty like traveling the world or simple like growing strawberries in a pot on a back porch. Nothing was too big or too small to include. After her instructions she said, “I am going to put on some dreamy music for you to journal to.” And this beautiful music box sound filled the room.

ballerinaDo you remember those treasured jewelry boxes we all had as little girls, you know the ones that you wind up and that tinker music chimed as the little plastic ballerina spun round and round while her dance song played? That was the music that filled the space and overwhelmed my heart! I looked at my friend that had shared that beautiful vision of me dressed in a tutu dancing and we both burst into tears…WOW! JUST WOW!  (you can hear that sweet little music box yourself from the “I Have Danced WIth A King” link below)

I felt so heard, so cared for! God in His detailed, intimate way showed up and showed off for me in that sweet, heart-opening moment to beckon my heart to dream again! Even the name of the song was specifically chosen for me…that day I danced with the King of Kings and He held my heart, full of dreams, in His hands and handed it back to me!

So my friend, it is time to dream again! He knows the dreams dancing in your heart, He holds them close to His and He knows how and when He will make those dreams come true. Don’t let disappointment keep you from dreaming.

follow_your_heart

Make a dream board– find images and words from magazines that answer these questions:

  • What things do I love?
  • What things am I innately drawn to and passionate about?
  • What things would I like to see in my future?
  • When and how has God shown up for me in the past?
  • What things are on my bucket list to do in my lifetime?

No dream/desire is too big!

No dream/desire is too small!

Let the words and images that pop out at you touch the deep, hidden, forgotten places in your heart! Let them find you again! Let them remind you! REMEMBER!!

heart dream

Remember who you are, what you loved, what you are passionate about!

Open your heart to dream again!

Let Cinderella’s words spin in your heart  –

A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling through
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true
A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re feeling small
Alone, in the night you whisper
Thinking no one can hear you at all
You wake with the morning sunlight
To find fortune that is smiling on you
Don’t let your heart be filled with sorrow
For all you know tomorrow
The dream that you wish will come true
A dream is a wish your heart makes
A dream is a wish your heart makes
You wake with the morning sunlight
To find fortune that is smiling on you
Don’t let your heart be filled with sorrow
For all you know tomorrow
The dream that you wish will come true
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true

dream

 

Dance with the King today and let Him hand you your dreamy heart back.

He’s been holding on to it for you until you were ready to hold it again yourself!