Saturday, October 29, 2016

Don't Be Ashamed of Your Shoes.

I have to say it.
Last night I got home from work, took off my shoes, and saw this:

This is the shoe from my left foot. The foot always labeled "healthy, strong, normal". The foot without the need for surgeries. The "good" leg, not the Cerebral Palsy leg.

I had been wondering why rocks kept showing up in my shoe, this is why... the hole has been made already. 4 months in. My strong leg is tired, and I got lazy in correcting it over and over again. My fault for trying to fit in...accepting the facts is a still a daily battle...

Yesterday: I was walking down the hall, a favorite 1st grader of mine smiled SO big, waved and said "Hi Ms. Brittany"...then, as soon as I walked past, he turned to his adult aid and said "What's wrong with her? She walks really reallllyyy bad".

I clenched my teeth, and told myself to keep my head know he just doesn't know, you're not actually upset with his response, just with the idea that the effort you put forth isn't recognized right now.

But why couldn't he have asked me?

A couple days ago: I found myself at church, it was a prayer/worship rally & the seats on the bottom floor had all been taken out for standing room only. The stairs were ridiculous, and even if I used them, the seating was arranged with nowhere for me to hold onto in order to stand up.

I panicked, and found myself wisely choosing to sit on the sideline, (where everyone had laid their bags) on the one row of seats that created the boundary line for the standing area.

I cried about it, sitting down, for 15 minutes. Then I closed my eyes, got to a place of acceptance, and imagined everyone sitting in a chair with me... I never opened my eyes again... until it was required for fear of crying again.

Most people were probably thinking I was getting rocked by God...nope, I was just crying& asking Him why I couldn't stand for 2 hours too.

Why the excitement over the night felt like a daydream?...why hadn't I thought about them doing this setup and set my expectations for inclusion correctly? Why wasn't I prepared? Why couldn't I see over people's heads at least?

I eventually accepted it and got over my "right to be apart of______", but those moments still come. Less often for certain, but never gone forever.

Tuesday: A new friend told me she was going to a healthcare conference that would be talking about people with disabilities aging into adulthood. She asked me my thoughts. I replied honestly and hope-filled. But I was also shocked within be honest,  I forgot that not everyone has as many obstacles trying to stay healthy and live by themselves as I do...

Some people don't have to plan for how to get heavy mailed packages from the front door inside with 1 hand.

All of these things are normal experiences for me...the ups and downs of my reality. I realized this week that yes, I may have walked on the treadmill or did my exercises and walked to church the same day, but the truth is: I know I can't let up.

I really can't stop because if I stop doing what I must, I begin thinking too hard and say to myself:

 Why do I have to do this when____

I don't even see any difference!

I did PT for 15+ years and what do I have to show for it, nothing- because I still have so far to go.

While these thoughts aren't TRUTH, they happen.

And I think today, while I love sharing in the triumphs of my lifelong recovery and improvement plan with others, I also wanted to share in the realities. That little things like having to go through the shoe buying process/all the "CP shoe requirements" again, make me want to be ok with going to work with holes in my shoes.

The reality that sometimes being gracious to where people are at & at some level being responsible for educating people on disabilities, is really hard and unending.

Sometimes I'd like to feel like church was a place I could show up and feel like I fit in every time. Not just when I get the right seat or attend the right type of events.

This is not me bashing on my church, or first graders, or the shoe company for shoes that can't handle me. This is none of that. This is simply me acknowledging that these experiences hit a chord deep in my soul. A place in my soul  that lies dormant most days, as I continue to commit to (always) adjusting to a world that's not in agreement with my body.

This is me saying: Hi pain, hi experience, you hurt me today and you are crazy& weird... but I am not those things. I am ok. I am loved. I am an overcomer.

This is me not pacifying my feeling or disregarding them because "I need to cut these people some slack"... because I truly know none of these painful experiences were because of the people who created/spoke them...they were painful because of a body I can't control or design.
So, I will leave these experiences here in writing to validate the challenge they are, and I will move on from them now.I will close my eyes and imagine the hope I will always have, of better days ahead with my community of (willing and kind) "disability education" learners.

And I will remember the poem I wrote to myself in 3rd grade, during Occupational Therapy:

Handicapped, Handicapped
Is it a good thing or a bad?
It depends on how you put it, but to me it's not that bad
Sometimes it can make you very, very sad
But as long as you believe, believe, believe in yourself and your worth
Everything is going to be okay

I know, my poem is probably worth millions ;) (kidding!)
Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Your Kaleidoscopes-- More of Jesus Response, Part 1

Rather than a normal letter, this post will be one of a three part series. 

I'm in the process of crafting a prayer for what "More of Jesus" (the church's focus for the year) means for me in 2016. Asking Jesus simply what these words look like lived out through me, according to Him. I then felt led, as I'm waiting for the words of my own statement, to write what you will read below.
It  feels so much like an anthem for the Church as a whole and I really just wrote it from a place of standing in my personal convictions. Ideas came from scripture-- I only listed one reference merely for myself...there are others. They also came from what I gathered/ concepts that stood out while reading Jimmy Seibert's Passion and Purpose  and re-listening to His vision message for 2016 online from 1/17/16. 

We know that revival begins with repentance and if we want to see radical, extraordinary revival in our lives, our church, and our sphere of influence we must be willing to open up every dark place within us and relinquish the conditions we have both unknowingly and knowingly set upon your power, and your love towards us. We repent for how we have lost our desire and capacity for authenticity because of the pull of the world towards compartmentalization of our lives, our relationships, and our souls. We repent for accusing, instead of asking with expectation: “where is Jesus?”, when we know that it is not that Jesus is absent in our lives... but that He wasn’t invited to be present in every area of our life. We repent for the things we have not consecrated to our Lord because we once were misguided by selfish ambition, the distraction of our pasts, the unfulfilling pull of comfort, and the lie that what you ask us to do is still not enough for a purposeful life.

                We declare that The Church is a multicultural people who hear God and send people to the ends of the Earth so that people are added to the Heavenly Kingdom day by day (Acts 11:21-26, ch.13). We stand with resolute hearts agreeing to pray prayers with purpose and boldness, knowing that God is inviting us to do the mission of bringing THE Kingdom to earth TOGETHER WITH HIM.

We declare that we are authentic in all things, living in full abandon to engaging the world around us and bringing His love and light to every place that are feet touch. We willingly give of what is Truth, regardless of how we are feeling,  because the power of the Holy Spirit is in us and uses us in ways that can not be contained by mere flesh and bone. We seep authenticity, which includes vulnerability and empathy with action to all those around us, regardless of their backgrounds, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographical location, or their ability to repay us.

                We do not wait for someone to go before us, because we are fearless in our humble beginnings because we ask Jesus and rest in what He says about all we do. Yes indeed, the ground has already been given to us as sons and daughters. Simply obeying what He calls us to start and proceed in is our role, nothing more or less. We live like Jesus goes before us in every area that the flesh declares fear or trepidation in, because we are not guided by the world.  We don’t plan history, because with God we live it… we joyfully run to the battle, equipped in all things because of time sown in secret with the Mighty Warrior himself. We stand on your promise Father, that He who calls is faithful. Therefore, as sure as the sun will rise we fix our eyes on you pervasively and submit everything about us as a living sacrifice.

Let us preach like Paul once did, shouting that we know the “unknown” God, and let us not shrink back by the response we receive. No, let us be willing to stand alone for the sake of declaring HIM. Knowing that every moment we take breathe is a moment that we let go of our idols and lay hold of Jesus more than anything or anyone else.
We lay aside all the extra weight, the things that are un-needed and unbeneficial in our run so that we can give space for what we are called by Your own words to do. We declare that 2016 is about more of Jesus. It’s about making Jesus the foundation not the additive. 2016 is about believing and seeing the power of breaking sin and staying free come in to life in all cracks, crevasses, and hidden places of ourselves, our church, and our community. We live out day to day, the knowledge that tweaking our lives will not prepare us to run this new race towards more of Jesus--radical change in every area will. We won’t let our strength be robbed because we viciously stand in our place of meeting with the Lord and wait for Him to speak so that we can follow. No other name is worthy. We rightly align ourselves with our Father because we need our strength back forever, not just for a fleeting kick. We’ve had enough of the sin and shame and will do anything He asks us to break its back because we know where to run when the stronghold is broken… and we fill the empty space with the good of the Gospel, the good of Jesus. You are our friend, our savior, our best Marvelous Comrade. You win so many battles we don’t see and we proclaim that today you will win the battle for our mind and our actions. Today you mark upon our hearts-More of Jesus. Even more than we could ask or imagine.
We surrender asking in our hearts for you to do more than prepare, but also give, because we want you to take your rightful place. Help us live authentically, even if it kills our image, destroys our fleshly desires, and makes us to be more like little Christ’s because the truth is those things really do scare us…but we want it anyway. Because courageously taking the MORE you will give us today, is worth the fleshly pain of our surrender. 
All glory to You, 
Your Kaleidoscopes. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Delicate, Tender, Softly-Unstoppable Power.

Dear Mom,
After basically throwing back this book in less than a day-- these words keep me chewing: 

“You don’t feel your own power right now and I understand…yours is not the kind that wants to announce itself. It is slow... and quiet...and tucks in behind things-- waiting to be discovered. Some people have power that is thick and neon-colored, and races around the room making sure everyone pays attention to it… it's fascinating, but it's not yours. You are learning how to hold yourself up and believe in the strength of your own conviction. That is not an easy thing to do and you are doing the best you can. Keep going. I am very proud of you. "-Sara Bareilles, Sounds Like Me.

These recent months I've found myself in unfamiliar territory...funny how surrender seems to do that to a soul...drawing us to depth we never could see until we collapsed into it. 

Today was basically a "deja vu" of yesterday. I found myself planted in a Starbucks for three hours around the stroke of two... with merely my journal, Bible, and a pen. Chewing on all that God's been inviting me to. 

So what exactly is that? Well it's all a blur to me right now, but one thing is clear... 

--He's calling me to accept bigger plans for my life than I thought was available to me. 

The more I read Isaiah 61, the more I realized all conversations have really led to the opportunity to accept the MORE, to believe the MORE is possible, that perhaps I'm even being prepared for it, like it's happening in my midst and I didn't even see it? 

My power may not be as exuberant or flashy as the others I see, but that is not a disqualification. The power God has set in me, He's inviting me to discover. To agree with what I find. It's been a journey to accept the call. My mind has known it all along,the words of Isaiah 61 ring true, but discovering it for my heart has been a slow uncovering. A peeling back...similar to the moment as a child where you peel off your fruit roll-up. You know it's worth it, but man is it a pain to find a corner you can start with (on a practical level)! 

God is revealing that the leader, the woman, He's made me to be needs to stand steady on the convictions that He places within me. To fight tooth and nail in courage and obedience for the fulfillment of what He's marked me with, the dreams He's planted, the restoration and radiance He's called me to walk in TODAY. He's promised so many good things of nations and rebuilding and spiritual work and beauty instead of ashes. He calls me to the announcement of the mission, the restoration and the new covenant that comes in walking the mission out, the rejoicing and the promises of blessedness for the church and it's people to be's all too much to swallow. 
It gives me butterflies... of shock and joyful see Him bring it forth.

It's so gentle and kind that He reveals Is. 61 as part of the core of Is. 58. The one movie that triggered a catalytic reaction towards surrendering my life to God in its entirety for the orphan, the poor, for people...whatever His work and way. 

Yesterday and today were days of delicate holding. My heart feels tender towards all that is swirling within, the things that have yet to be confined to the meaning of words. I'm learning my heartbreak and my tears can be reminders of my soft, yet unstoppable power with Christ. The power to love far deeper than the world finds comfortable. The power to speak up, to claim the good in the room. The power to draw out the thankfulness... as we remember the monuments created from eternal celebration and victory of our collective past. The power to be completely me. The leader of a thousand unseen battles waged in words of prayer, hope, love and unshakable faith for details often overlooked. 

I think I've come to an understanding with myself that power IS slow and quiet, because it's not my power anyway. 
I'm not a flashy sort of person, but that doesn't mean that there is nothing to see--See God. 
See the slow, quiet, delicate, soft ways He's moving among us. His transformation happens in the gentle touch of His fingertip...His power can come in a controlled manner just as easily as a voiceterous way. He's waiting to be discovered in the tender, exquisite, graceful unveiling sort of ways of His power too. 
There are many ways of power, and I'm learning to embrace the journey of learning mine. 

We're an unstoppable force--a delightful pairing-- if I do say so myself, God and I. 
Thanks for already knowing that Mom. 

Love Always and Forever, 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hungry for Light.

Dear Mom,
I've attempted to write something 3 times since moving here, and somehow it just hasn't happened...funny how that is.

Yet something has been stirring in me these last few weeks and I just have to get it out on paper. Mom, I'm hungry and I'm thankful.

A re-occuring theme of our ADS class is that we are marked by hunger for more of God.  Staff and speakers alike have spoke it into existence and boy have we been living it out as a class! Yet with all this hunger there can come a complacency. A complacency that the enemy brings. The idea that tries to root when a people group is on the cusp of EVEN MORE...the idea that everybody already knows we're hungry so we don't need to do anything more...we don't need to surrender more, or claim any more victory, give over even more of our day to worship,  or fight anymore battles because the enemy convinced us that what we've given is already enough. BUT God wants more. He calls us to not be complacent in our hunger now, but to hunger more. To identify the walls we have. Walls that stand as the extent of how much we feel we're capable of dreaming with God, the representation of our fears, the limitation of what we think is all we can have in God.
The truth is though, there is so much more freedom to be had when we empty ourselves to the fullest extent, when we come to Him as broken vessels in every area. So much more to freedom when we decide to identify our brick walls, and then we punch holes in them. We let the light flood through. We give others standing on the side of the wall with us an "out"...a path to follow. By those holes we proclaim freedom and victory, and a desire to be even less so that He can be even more. 

When we identify the walls in our lives and then actively punch through them we are hungering for more, We are getting even closer to the feet of Jesus by the power of His blood and the word of our testimony. He gives us the strength and the opportunity to punch through the wall. It's not by ourselves. It's by our humility and our surrender. It's by our hunger and our action that follows. It's by GOD and submitting our piece of The Church to Him daily to be changed, molding, and directed by Him.

This is NO call to be perfect. This is NO call to not struggle. THIS IS A CALL to be broken, to be emptied, to embrace vulnerability and to walk forward (despite fear or inadequacy) with confidence that the Lord called you to give Him more of yourself. With confidence that the Lord called you to be beautifully broken every day.  To live out your messy-ness for all to see, so that they know the goodness in you is not you, but Him.

I'm convinced that my wholeness in Christ will not be found in perfection, or in legalism, but in relationship that invites me to thankfully and graciously accept God's call to be broken every day for His glory. To be humbled and transformed in every area, no matter the challenge or cost, so that I may join The Church in changing the giving Him my entire being and serving Him by nothing of my doing or creating, but everything by God's power, courage, and utmost our relationship.  And it is because of this that I know brokenness isn't always bad or less than.

It's a messy process that won't end, but it's worth all I have to let Him take my life over... of that much I am certain.

Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter, 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Finding Place in Coffee Cups, Suitcases, and Household Floors

Dear Mom,
For the last three months every morning has started with a warm cup of coffee, contained in the same silver cup. I find such comfort in this little exchange of ours. Something about the consistency of it all just warms my little, relational heart. Such a simple exchange it is to pass off a cup of coffee, but yet it tells me so much about the person on the other end.

It means something to have a morning routine. It's an opportunity to show concern and care, even in the simplest of ways. It's an opportunity to show love and gratitude. It's an opportunity to show that you desire those people in your life because in all reality, it may at times be easier to do such acts yourself. But that's not the point. Sometimes independence cuts out an opportunity for patience, smiles and the every day surprise.

In the matter of two weeks I know this routine of mine will disappear once again, for a little while, and so I'm soaking up every second of that every day joy. I sure am thankful for that cup of coffee. I sure am thankful for the every day surprise that it is. I never want to be lazy of course, but that morning gift is just that...a gift. It meets me where I am.

I'm just about to start the process of packing and minimizing yet again...waiting and preparing to meet whatever adventure is lurking around the Waco airport in late August. This whole process of attending Training School and pursuing a more missional lifestyle has been a huge leap of faith thus far...and I don't see that leap touching down anytime soon.

It's been amazing to see the peace that is in my heart about the whole thing though. The logistics, and the idea of leaving the support system I have here temporarily, is daunting and at times totally fear-inducing. Yet, almost simultaneously, the anticipation to see what happens when I continue to keep giving this back to God (since everyone knows I can't figure this all out) is exciting!

So all I can really do now is plan to pick up my suitcases, start packing, keep minimizing...and pressing forward!
...And if after all that I still feel uneasy, I know all I have to do is sit down on the floor...because when you're already on the floor, there is no where else to go but up!
Love Always and Forever
your daughter,

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Water-filled Sneakers.

I'm feeling alive and aware... even with so much awareness of brokenness and lack of_____.

My shoes have been full of water all day. And no, this is not just metaphor-they literally have been filled with water all day. 

Since January 2014, Rain has brought with it the need for bravery. To abandon the fear of falling; crutches losing grip and balance lost. 

You think I've never had a "bad word" slip out? Walk with me in the rain and watch my lips come undone, even if just on the rare occasions. Sorry God, my bad.  

The only word I can think of to describe it is traumatizing, Sounds silly, but when your body teaches you not to trust it, falling in the same section of walkway every. single. time. trauma is the only description. 

Maybe this is why my children's book series has "rainboots" in the title--it's a call to bravery.

Mom, even with the awareness of what I lack...the standards I'm not meeting as an almost college graduate (May 2nd!!)...and the loss of control--I feel alive and aware. 

Alive. Heart beating. Life changing. Morphing into who I've always seen myself becoming with God. 
Aware. Aware that such change and morphing is painstakingly slow, often confusing and internal before external. 

Mom, I'm beginning to celebrate the success of transformation taking root in my life and my heart in the last year and a half. I'm not the person I was January 2014, I'm not the person I was January 8th 2015. Some say you can see the changes via text message, but no the real stuff is seen when standing face to face. Take some time to stop making assumptions and see with clear vision the hard work it took to get here. The struggles, The support had and needed. The confusion. The loss in so many small ways. The gains.

I see more courage, More trust, More repentance, More hope. More clarity.

Less shame. Less hiding. Less possessions. Less unrealistic expectation. Less time wasted, Less doubt. Less of my selfishness.

More love received and given. More friendships strengthened. More adventures. More sacrifice. More storytelling. More redemption.

The same hard work. The same prayers. The same focus. The same forgiveness. The same God. The same desire to show others they matter more. The same appreciation of tenacity.  The same heart for Haiti. 

More singing. More dancing. More silliness. More public speaking. More prayers. 
So much more to learn, to change, to grow in, to release. 

OH DO I PRAY I TAKE MORE STEPS IN WATER-FILLED SHOES. Water-filled shoes remind me to relinquish, to be brave, to continue on and to remember from where I came. To remain alive and aware. 
Love always
Your Daughter,

Friday, March 6, 2015

For the Love of Haiti


Haiti is home. 
It was there that I met my teachers.
Teachers who, like I, find joy in the circumstances God gives us...even though others might label such circumstances as "suffering".

Until I have time to really bleed on paper, just know my life is changing...but my heart for orphan care is not...thanks to Haiti.

Love Always and Forever
Your Daughter,