Do you know ‘the way?’

Photo credit: Nick Tiemeyer

This is the third post of a series I’m doing. Links for the first two posts are at the end of this article.

Let’s take a minute to recap. There is a common something or someone that seems to be drawing us in. Like the power of a black hole, nothing can escape its pull as it draws everything into itself. What is this mysterious force pulling at us? Do we want to go where it’s taking us? Is it safe to go? How do we determine if it’s even the right force to give in to? Do we even have a choice in the matter?

Luke felt the force, so did Darth Vader. Both were forces, one good one bad. If there is a force, or multiple forces, how are we supposed to pick up on them? Or better yet, how are we to completely tune into them? I imagine it’s similar to tuning into a radio station. As we’re first learning, it’s like tuning into one of those far away stations when you’re driving through the middle of nowhere, mostly static with a faint burst of something semi discernible. As we get better at listening it will become more like tuning into one of the high-powered stations when you’re in a big city.

Tuning in is key in both examples, otherwise you’re just moving through life with your radio off. This brings up another interesting point. Radio signals are all around us. Unseen waves transmitting all sorts of information every second. These signals go completely unnoticed by you unless you have a way to catch them out of thin air and turn them into something recognizable. Sounds similar to the magnetism discussed in my last post.

Magnetism, just like radio waves, is an unseen force that is all around us every second of every day. It isn’t until you have an instrument designed to tune into these forces that you gain greater understanding of their presence. A radio receiver in the case of radio waves, and a compass in the case of magnetism. Compasses unlike radios however, are susceptible to providing false information.

By now you’ve likely caught on to the point I’m making. Each and every single person on this planet has an internal guidance system whose purpose is to lead us somewhere. This system within you is something that requires several things to work correctly. You first need to know it exists. Then you need to become familiar with using it. You need to understand what can cause it to work incorrectly. Lastly, you need to follow it.

I posed three questions in my last post and said I’d answer them myself. Hopefully you thought about them yourself. If not I encourage you go back and do so before reading my responses.

What outside influences are causing your internal compass to be off?

Pressure, mostly from myself, often from society, and very seldom from family and friends. These three influences seem to work in tandem. The pressure I place on myself finds its root in comparison. I compare my life to the life of others and to the life society says I should be living. This will be the topic of my fourth (and next) post.

What will you use to recalibrate?

Aircraft compasses can be calibrated many ways, the most common of which is something called a compass rose. It’s a trusted marker of true north and all the cardinal directions. It is something known to be true and accurate. The compass rose for my life is someone who is known to be true and accurate, God, or more specifically God, his son Jesus, and the helper who He sent to be our guide, the Holy Spirit.

Where is your destination?

This is a good question, as I’m in the middle of trying to figure it out. I know the general direction but I want to be lined up perfectly with my runway when it’s time to land this proverbial plane. I know God has filed a flight plan for me and it is a much better plan than I could ever come up with on my own. If I don’t tune in and follow my instruments I’m gong to be off course for sure.

This is a topic I am so passionate about that here and now is not enough space for me to elaborate on it. I’ll get to it in do time. Just know this, God has great plans for you and I both. When we seek to tune into His ever-present force in our lives we help ensure we’re being lined up to hit our target in life. There’s no better place to be than that.

Do you feel unsure of the direction you’re heading in life? Have any unmet desires that you’d love to see fulfilled? Are your talents and time being put to the best use possible? If you feel any of these, leave a comment and let me know. If anything, it’ll provide encouragement to others to see they are not alone in this journey called life.

Read my first two posts by clicking on the titles: Is everyone saying the same thing? and Compass deviation.

Compass Deviation

Photo credit: Cédric

The miracle of flight never ceases to amaze me. A plane can take off from Seattle, arriving in Hong Kong less than a day later. It’s not so much the speed at which it gets there, it’s the accuracy. With so many variables at play, it’s a wonder how after traveling 6,500 miles it’s able to line itself up perfectly with a runway that’s less than 200 feet wide. Incredible!

Now imagine you’re flying in the dark of night. You’ve been watching your electronic instruments intently, keeping track of your progress over the last few hours. Then something goes wrong and all of your instruments go black. Where are you? Do you remember your last location on the map? How do you find the way to your destination in the black of night?

Even though aircraft electronics are highly reliable and often have backup systems, pilots still use traditional compasses in the event something goes wrong. As reliable as magnetic compasses are, they too are still susceptible to error. Did you know for instance that compasses need to be routinely calibrated? It’s true, compasses can lose their accuracy due to outside influences, most notably induced magnetic fields from nearby objects. This outside influence is called deviation.

When you look up the definition of deviation, you’ll see something like the following: The action of departing from an established course or accepted standard: deviation from a norm. Here lies the crux of the matter. We’re all on our own individual journeys, each of us having an intended destination, you do know where you’re going, right?, and experience numerous things that affect our internal compass. What effect does this have on our lives?

Deviation – The action of departing from an established course or accepted standard: deviation from a norm.

While “flying” towards your destination, there are a few things that will certainly pull you off course. There’s the wind, specifically cross-winds. There’s magnetic variation which is the changing of the Earth’s magnetic fields. Then there’s deviation, outside factors that cause your compass to be a few degrees off. A few degrees isn’t much when you’re traveling several feet; you’ll still be within arms reach of your target. A few degrees off at the beginning of a 6,500 mile trip however, can put you in an entirely different country than where you intended to land. To put things into perspective, just one degree off course while traveling from Seattle to Hong Kong would put you 133 miles away from your runway!

If you’re like me you desire to live a long and fulfilling life. If that’s the case, our journey is not going to be a short one. Having a destination in mind is a topic for a whole different article, yet whether you know where you’re going or not, you’re going somewhere day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year. Hopefully you’re excited about your journey, maybe you’re scared, either way, how can we head toward our destination and remain on target?

There are three things I haven’t even addressed yet and will do over my next few articles. I leave you with them here to get you thinking about how you’d answer them right here where you are.

1. What outside influences are causing your internal compass to be off?

2. What will you use to recalibrate?

3. Where is your destination?

I’ll answer these myself, for all of you to read next week. Until then, enjoy the process of answering those questions for yourself.

If you liked this article, let me now in the comments below. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Unmet Expectations

Expectations can be such a driving force in my life. I paint a picture in my mind of how things should go and often times reality comes out in a very different way. When we bought our van I expected we would be hitting the road, off on adventures and exploring the world right away. Turns out we spent the first two months of our adventure parked mostly at my parents place. Don’t feel sorry for me, my parents live in a little piece of paradise. A house right on the lake, and not just any spot on the lake but I dare say it is the most beautiful spot. Complete with beach access, a private bay for swimming, paddle boards, kayaks and stunning views. I grew up here every summer and might take it for granted sometimes.

It has been amazing spending time with family, sharing delicious meals, and taking time to modify things in our van. It is kind of like buying a new house and having to  renovate to make things right for your family. I know what you are thinking, how much work can you actually do on a little van? You would be surprised!! Solar panels, curtains, pantry drawers, new kitchen backsplash, and the list goes on. All part of the process that comes with making a space your own.

I also expected Lee’s job to flow seamlessly into remote work and we would just slide right into this new lifestyle. Well that didn’t play out as I expected either. Instead we spent weekends painting houses with my sisters company. In the midst of unmet expectations I am learning we have a choice to make. How will we respond to the situation?

I will admit I tried the road of discouragement. This path definitely left me wanting. It led to me focusing on all the things I thought I lacked while crafting negative life statements. Anyone else do this? Mine went something like “What in the world are we doing? I’m in my forties, living at my parents, no career, no family, no future, haven’t accomplished anything, look at all the other successful people, I am a loser.” How often does this kind of voice rule in your own mind? I was giving it far too much air time. I knew we needed to try a different road.

I loved the Circle Maker book by Mark Batterson, and I remember some friends saying they had the 40 day prayer challenge that supplemented that book.  We bought the book, launched in and prayed into what God has for us in this van, this new lifestyle, and Cultivate Connection. He slowed us down long enough to have to look at the motivations on our hearts. To come back to trusting Him and to remember He is in this with us, and to stop listening to the lies.

We crafted a new statement to come back to when the negative voices of discouragement try to come in. To daily remind ourselves of who we are and what God has called us to:

“We facilitate space for people to connect with God, receive His love and truth, to be transformed and released in the creative expression of worship and purpose they are created for.”

Cultivate Connection

As I write this we are actually on our first trip in the van. We’re in Moses Lake, Washington, parked less than eight feet from the lakes shore with a breeze coming through the window. It is peaceful and my heart is filled with joy. I love this space, our home on wheels. I am encouraged and hopeful that God is unfolding the treasures He has for us to find. It wasn’t what I expected, but I am learning that sometimes when things don’t go the way we want, it is an opportunity for God to reveal something new. 

Do you have unmet expectations? Is God inviting you into something new? What kind of life statements keep running through your head? It is time to craft something new? Would love to hear from you and would love to hear your life statement if you have one.

Is everyone saying the same thing?

A podcast microphone
Photo credit: Kelly

I’m going to plant a seed in your mind; one that asks why and will forever change the way you think about professional development. Are you ready?

Over the past 15 years or so I’ve been passionate about personal development. This is ironic because I feel like I’m nowhere near as personally developed as I would expect to be given all the books, podcasts, and videos consumed over nearly two decades. Reminds me of a quote I’ve tweeted: “If more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” – Derek Sivers.

Other than the irony of my own personal development (or lack thereof) another thing I find amusing is just about every personal development book, podcast, or video I’ve read, listened to, or watched all seem to be saying the same thing. Or maybe I should say, all pointing to the same something. The number of people who’ve created successful platforms based off this genre alone is stunning.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not making a case to limit the number of speakers for a topic just as I wouldn’t petition for a limit on the number of restaurants that can serve hamburgers. Different speakers each bring their own unique perspective to a subject. You might find yourself enjoying one more than the other while someone else may be completely opposite. Same holds true for restaurants. I digress.

I do have a theory though. Just as we all hunger for food, and thus the multitude of restaurants, we all hunger for something else whether we’re aware of it or not. There’s an appetite deep down within each of us and it has a hunger for something other than food. 

I’ve consumed enough information to easily spot the common thread that runs through just about every single topic on personal development. Once you spot this it’s fascinating to watch how the different authors dance around the subject. Christian authors use words like destiny, calling, identity, gifting, and anointing. Secular authors use words like mastery, being in the flow, fulfilling your purpose, etc.

“If more information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

Derek Sivers

So many of us seem to have an insatiable appetite for this type of information. Take a look at the self-help section of your local bookstore or library and admire how large a selection it contains. For bonus points, spend time reading the titles and see if you catch a theme. What is it in you and me that drives us to desire personal development information so much that Market Research predicts it’ll be a $13.2 billion dollar industry by 2022? In case you missed it, that was billion with a “b” and if you’re still curious as to what a billion dollars looks like, check out this handy reference.

There’s a need out there that’s so big and seemingly so hard to satisfy that dozens upon dozens of people (think Tony Robbins) have authored books and created their own personal platforms helping people fill this void in their life.

Motivational speakers aren’t the only ones captializing off our need for something more. There’s the long list of popular personality profile assessments such as Myers-Briggs, Birkman, DISC, NBI, and Enneagram. Many promising to help us gain a better understanding of who we are and how to tap into our greatest potential.

Whether it’s popular speakers or elaborate personality tests, all are helping to fill a void in our lives. I want to take a look at this void and ask questions like What is it? Why does it exist? How do we fill it? What does it look like once we do? and How do we even know when it’s filled?

My theory is all paths lead to the same destination; more specifically to the same someone. Personal development just seems to be the particular topic I’ve stumbled into for researching this. I hope you’ll join me as I explore how deep this rabbit hole goes.

Next time we’re going to learn about airplanes, compasses, and crabbing. You might be wondering what the heck does any of that have to do with personal development. Well, I guess you’ll have to stick around to find out. So follow along and be sure to leave comments or questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Pursuing Your Dream

April 2 2018, it was Easter Monday and we were driving from Creston back to Abbotsford, British Columbia. While listening to an audio book along that drive, something awakened inside of us. A dream turned reality can be traced back to a seed planted that day. We didn’t know it at the time, but in 82 days our lives would look very different. 

Photo credit: Weirs Furniture

Maybe you have heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines. Lee and I have never met them, but their book The Magnolia Story impacted our lives in a significant way. In it, the HGTV stars share their journey together, including all the ups and downs leading up to their hit TV show The Fixer Upper. The thing that really resonated with us was Chip and Joanna’s desire to work together. This has been a strong desire of mine and Lee’s for many years, but for whatever reason we talked more about that dream than actually pursuing it. 

Inspired by the story of a couple who took risks and trusted God I thought “why can’t we do that?” Instead of feeling sorry for myself, that I don’t have what they have, something stirred in me to say, “why can’t we have that?” If God will do it for them, why not for us? It was the beginning of a new prayer focus in our lives. It was in that moment I realized instead of pursuing the dreams our hearts, we were treating them more like wishes. Taking no action to make them happen, not even praying into them, we were just wishing they’d magically come true.

We like to talk about our dreams of working together, what would that look like, and how we could pursue them. Having recently read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson (a brilliant book on prayer) we knew we needed to start by taking our dreams seriously; beginning to circle them in prayer. Circling them until they happen.

Before arriving back home to Abbotsford we determined one of our dreams was to live in an RV. To be able to travel and work together. Here is the crazy thing, even though this (traveling) was a long-time dream of ours we had never actually stepped foot in an RV let alone visited a dealership. We didn’t know anything about them. We had not pursued this dream in any fashion. It remained an impossible idea. I am beginning to learn that dreams are meant to be pursued. 

“If you don’t get out of the boat, you’ll never walk on water.”

Mark Batterson

We started to pray daily, circling this dream. We matched those prayers with action. On our 9 year wedding anniversary we found ourselves at our first RV dealership. We began to learn what we liked and didn’t like. We had no money to buy an RV. We weren’t sure what “working together” looked like once we moved into the RV or how much money we would make doing so. We were just pursuing a dream. One step at a time. 

82 days after we prayed our first prayer we were about to pick up our Winnebago Travato. In a big, scary, and exciting step of faith Lee gave notice at his job; we told our landlord’s we were moving out; and we sold more than half of what we owned. There were points along the way where we didn’t think it would happen such as when financing fell through.

It’s a vulnerable place to step out and follow a dream. Wondering if God is really in it when things don’t work out the way I think they should. But in less than 3 months the unexpected happened because we decided to pursue a dream. “If you don’t get out of the boat, you’ll never walk on water.” – Mark Batterson

We are not sure how things will unfold, but we are sure of one thing, God is for us! Just as we learned to trust Him in the first step, in the midst of unknowns we will continue to trust and see where He takes us, one step at a time. 

Are their dreams in your life that God is reminding you of? How can you begin to pursue those dreams? Are there seeds being planted in your life to cause you to grow into theses dreams? Pay attention to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. How does he want to partner with you in these dreams? 

Keep following to see where our van adventures take us. 

More than enough

Lately I’ve noticed I spend a lot of time disqualifying myself from the very things that are in my heart to do. I have compiled a long list in my head a of “not enough.” I am not good enough for this. I don’t have enough money for that. These are the comfortable excuses I used to shut down things before they even start. What happens when this list gets long? I start to forget the dreams in my heart all together. I tend to hide. Hide the struggle, get lost in busyness, binge watch Netflix, or find comfort in food. Choosing activities that numb and in doing so lose connection to myself in the process. Letting my dreams and possibilities fade into the background.

Even in the middle of numbing out, God is relentless in His pursuit of us. He goes to great lengths just to win over our hearts once again. To remind us of who we are; to draw us back to Him and to our true selves. He is extravagant, elaborate, and sneaky!! Haha, and I am glad He is. No one writes a better story than God and I’m humbled to know He wants to write a story with me.

A few months ago I was in Arizona helping at a yoga training retreat. I had the privilege of taking photos which is one of my favourite things to do. (I offer photos sessions to new instructors) God was already scheming something although I didn’t know it at the time.

Weeks prior to my trip I saw an Instagram post of a woman I recently met. “She would be fun to take photos of” was the first thought that crossed my mind. A few days later she emailed me to see if I still had room to book a photoshoot. When coincidences like this happen I should really learn to pay attention; perhaps Papa God is up to something! I was fully booked for the week but I thought, “why can’t we do it after the training, and for that matter why not somewhere beautiful?” We decided on Sedona, Arizona and that Friday morning were on our way.

On the drive she wanted to hear my story so we talked about broken relationships, my struggles with low energy, and how that has led to less and less time outdoors. Once upon a time in my life there was a season where I pretty much lived outside full-time. I lived in a van and thrived. I loved it! We continued our drive, arriving in Sedona where my new friend feels the need to go and hike the Devil’s Bridge. I am finding this ironic because I’ve been to Sedona only once before and I hiked only one hike, the Devil’s Bridge. My first thought is really? Out of all the hikes in Sedona this is the one she wants to do? She was pretty adamant about it, feeling God was directing us there. I figured, ok, why not. I will trust The Holy Spirit in her.

I forgot to also mention I had been pretty sick most of the week. When we arrived at the trailhead this woman who is small in stature but strong, insists on carrying my pack with all my camera gear and she is not taking no for an answer. I pride myself in being strong so this was humbling.

Half way into the hike we sit and have a water break. That is when it happened, right there sitting on a log, the God setup! Turning to me she says “I really feel like I need to say this. God has been talking to me the whole time.” She tells me she feels God has brought me here to heal me. To set me free in my body, soul, and spirit. That I’m supposed to hike up the rest of this hike alone with God. When I get to the top and cross the Devil’s Bridge it is going to become God’s Bridge, and the areas of my life that have been stolen God is going to restore. The broken heart, the low energy, the disconnection. All of it. At this point I am crying. She tells me that she will be hiking behind me, staying back but praying. She encourages me to take as long as I need, to not worry about the photos. The real reason God brought me here is to heal me.

First of all I was completely overwhelmed by the love and care coming from this woman I barely knew. She was nurturing, yet strong, the sweetest thing you have ever met, and yet firm. I knew I couldn’t say no. So off I went, step by step and tear by tear. Just me and God hiking alone, if you don’t count the  hundreds of other hikers. I’m sure they wondered about the crying girl hiking by herself. But in that broken space God spoke to me. He reminded me of my love for the outdoors and the connection I find with Him there.

I was surrounded on every side with mountains and God reminded me how He has surrounded me on all sides. The tears brought a cleansing to my heart. When I looked back I would see the tiny frame of the angel God sent disappear behind a tree or rock, wearing my pack. Knowing the whole time she was praying for me.

I made it to the top and felt the need to remove my shoes. Under the hot sun I crossed that bridge, spectators watching, wondering why I didn’t stop for the much coveted photo opportunity.  I simply crossed over and went to the other side to sit with God. It was peaceful. It was healing. I was grateful for relentless love. 

As I joined back up with my friend we were content to hike out and call it a day. She totally believed we were there just for me and didn’t care if we skipped her photo shoot. As we rounded the corner on the way down I stopped her, knowing I needed to get the camera out. It was stunning. The view, the light, everything. As if I hadn’t been given enough already, here was another gift; the amazing opportunity to photograph the angel God had sent to me that day.

Everything was not instantly healed in that moment but God touched me with His heart to heal. I still feel the temptation to numb out sometimes, but not as often. Although I am still on a journey of overcoming low energy I know God healed something in my heart that day. He reminded me of the dreams He has placed on the inside. (More to come on those dreams in future blogs!!)

Oh, He is relentless. All of the details that He had to put together to culminate in that holy afternoon. He did it all for me. He can’t help it. He loves each of us that much. God is always at work in our lives whether we sense Him or not. Remembering our God stories keeps us focused on what He has for us. 

Wherever I disqualify myself, He qualifies me. Whenever I say I’m not enough, He says I’m more than enough. When I numb out and hide, He comes and finds me. There’s nothing I can do to diminish His love for me. He will stop at nothing until I am made perfect, in this life or the next.

Do you have a story of how God has shown His relentless love towards you? I’d love to hear about it.

Warning! You may be sabotaging your life and not even know it.

How to cultivate seeds that bear fruit, not thorns.

Cultivate

By definition cultivate is to prepare, get ready, begin, or tend to. The breaking up of soil to prepare earth for planting or sowing. It also means to acquire or develop a quality, sentiment or skill. To foster growth, to improve, care, study, refine, or elevate.

Connection 

Connection can be defined as a relationship in which a person, thing or idea is linked with something else. To become joined.

Continue reading “Warning! You may be sabotaging your life and not even know it.”

What’s in a seed?

Three years ago today Cultivate Connection found it’s genesis. As I look back now, and if I am honest there really wasn’t any forethought to start a guided bible based meditation podcast. In fact, I stumbled my way into this. It is still a little surreal that once a week I record myself meditating on scripture and hanging out with Jesus and then post it online for people I have never met to listen to. That is normal, right? So if I didn’t dream it up how did we get from there to here?

Continue reading “What’s in a seed?”