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Adventurously Expectant

This is a space for dream words, made up words, love words, flying words, fall down and get back up words.

A Steady Heart // Running The Second Mile

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Dearest Friend,

Last week at my 28th birthday dinner, as I looked at the people surrounding the table I knew two things to be true:

  1. They were so important to me
  2. There is no way I could have imagined I would be sitting there with them.

It settled over me that these precious people were all apart of my second mile.

Ordinary lives are lived in the first mile; extraordinary lives only happen when we are willing to go the second mile”  -Christine Caine

I am in deep in the adventure of building a vision I never could have imagine for my life. It’s filled with hard work and acutely learning how to balance vision and capacity.  No matter where life takes me, or how I evolve, refine, mature, learn, fail, celebrate…. part of me always feels like fourteen year-old Suzanna.

If you had told me at fourteen I would be living in Nashville, TN building a creative production firm alongside some of the best humans I’ve ever known, surrounded by friends that make life so rich it’s humbling – and that the few years before  — would be filled with working to end the longest running conflict in Africa.  That I would have  years  filled with deep friendships, wading the trenches of a movement, and pushing myself past every wall that said I was too tired. Years of  love and loss and grace. If you had told me that at twenty-eight , I would be recognizing my purpose and that it was calling forth things within me I didn’t know were there.

Fourteen- year old Suzanna, would have told you “ you can’t be right”  In the limited expectation of my life, and the shy but nice girl of who I was,  my greatest dream was to throwing beautiful parties, be married, own a home and to be figuring out motherhood.

But,  as I sat at the table on my 28th birthday, it settled over me — my life is none of those things.

It’s far more beautiful, unexpected and uncomfortable.

It’s in the discomfort that I’ve experienced sweet grace. In walking into the unknown —  solely in faith that I’ve encountered joy as I had only hoped for.

I believe that we are meant to live expansive, extraordinary lives. That it is God’s greatest dream for our lives. Full of adventure, love and magic. But, it doesn’t stop there. The fullness is in the hard work that calls forth endurance within yourself and others that takes your life to a different sphere of impact.

Years filled with hard work on behalf of others — the kind that changes the world.  I am starting to understand that to truly to find yourself/know your purpose —  you have to run that second mile.

When you think of your most important relationships, none of them are made true in a moment.  Its spans time, trials, restlessness, disappointment, loss, joy, hope, of saying I see you, I know you, I love you even when it’s really, really hard to.  It’s in the second mile that those relationships are made extraordinary. They become the ones that define your life and story.

It’s also when you see your dreams worthy of that same type of endurance and care that your life becomes expansive. Breaking through the slow fog that settles over you in the day to day mediocrity.

When you decide to keep moving when you’re tired, overwhelmed, or anxious of the terrain ahead.

I wish I could say I’ve been a champion at choosing to always keep moving fearlessly. But, there have too many days of choosing  not to run — because being tired was real and the effort to move wasn’t stronger than the one to rest.

But, I’ve started to see that if you start paying attention, you realize that you’ve been training for that second mile your whole life, and if you just trust — it will almost be effortless. It definitely doesn’t take away the choice to keep moving, but if you let it, it will release the pressure.

Friend, one thing I’ve also come to understand deeply, is that the second mile is made possible with community. Find your people, share your dreams, dig in and start running it together. That tribe of yours changes everything you ever thought was possible for your life. Because it becomes less about your own personal success but more about everyone encountering and living out their best dreams.

I think living well is being willing to run that second mile — and then doing it. With our relationships, purpose, faith journeys, love, self care and communities.

May we dare to find the people that will take on that second mile – over and over again – with us and challenge one another to dream daring dreams with a steady heart.

windfall of tiny miracles

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The past few weeks have been a windfall of tiny miracles. So many that I sat back not sure if I should laugh, cry or do some awkward blend of both. [it’s not cute, but it’s honest]

Tears fall easily now. Mostly, I have just been in awe, as I have been so many times since this crazy adventure of KAIO  unfolded. Seeing the way you and your community are being used for a greater design….is just…a powerful thing to witness. It’s waking up to your life.

We’re walking in the wake of glory already determined.

To give context, I’ll back up about a decade and share what led to this profound sense of wonder I’ve been experiencing.

Meet Sue, she grew up in the church. Charismatic, holy spirit living, harvest party attending, mission trip serving, “us and them” environment Church was her center and was filled with good people.  She was every bit the dutiful and kind Christian girl, never rocking the boat and signing every contract of good behavior possible. (yes contracts in youth group are a real thing)  If there was a service, mission trip or youth event, she was there. If there was a trip her single mother couldn’t afford, she did whatever it took to be an active part. The fear of being seen as less than, or not wanted in the community such a profound weight that it caused her to not know how to fully own her story. To let people see the pieces, or the very broken young women that stood in the crowd worshiping among them.

Sue, feels like a lifetime ago. But she is me, and I am her. But I barely recognize that girl, and oh have I learned so much from her.

At seventeen my world fell apart, but that’s a story for another time. I’d love to sit with you over coffee and share it with you one day. [it has to be good coffee, though]

What’s most significant about that time is that it marks the abandonment of my faith. I threw up my hands in despair late one night walking the shore of Ft. Myers Beach, tears flowing, screaming at the sky, If this is what it means to love You, count me out. The brokenness of people, the very real disillusionment of the church and simply a broken heart caused me to storm away from the only constant I had ever known. But, what I couldn’t see and didn’t understand then was that I even had a constant.  

For seven years I was complacent to my Jesus.

Seven years of storming, searching and always knowing there was more. But, you see, I have this fiercely stubborn streak that has saved me many times. It also, for many years made it impossible for me to sit in the depths of my pain. To let light in, to love my pieces.

But 2 ½ years ago I experienced the greatest personal loss to date and it rocked me.

That great pain was a catalyst for the most honest journey of redemption. For when I encountered my deepest and darkest pain, something so much greater than my brokenness met me there.  

For seventeen years I grew up in the church,  and for the first time I had truly encountered Jesus.

It changed everything.

Sometimes I still struggle sitting in a church service, what was once so familiar now feels like a piece of clothing that doesn’t fit right, it’s ill fitting and uncomfortable. Some of the most precious people I know lead in churches, they serve and love them. I believe in God’s vision for the church and He has been so gracious to bring me into several church communities that have been so loving, authentic, and brave. But, still I believe there is much work to be done before those of us that claim the church as ours are truly living in the ways Jesus called us to. I want to be part of that restoration. To be love in real ways.   

In the past few years of falling in love with the one who I believe Created me, I continually stand in wonder.

Because I’ve come to realize there is no depth He will not go, no pain He cannot heal and no distance you can run that He will not be in pursuit of your heart.

That truth has changed my whole life.

There is something to be said for encountering  and surviving great pain.  Not only surviving —  but then coming back to life. What leaves me close to tears at even typing this, is that in coming back to life I have encountered the woman of whom I was always intended to be. [still figuring that out]

I look at the many journals I keep, the books that I am drawn to, the friends that have graced my life and  know this is only the beginning of a lifetime in pursuit of wonder. A life of courage and showing up. Of surrendering all of the ways I feel inadequate or broken and knowing I am always loved. Doesn’t mean it won’t be an active choice to not spiral into doubt or questions. When you learn great truth, it’s nearly impossible to allow yourself to not be moved.

Believing that I am beloved has set deep parts of my heart free.

It is that freedom that I hope my life evokes for others. Whether through sitting over coffee and hearing your story, or the dreams of your heart. Or digging into the raw and real struggle.

 I know you may not identify with this Jesus I love, and that’s ok. I get it. My truth is based in knowing that my life has been covered in grace and for me it was an encounter with the One who made me.

KAIO has thus far been a wild adventure of being really, really uncomfortable, discovering what courage means for me, and experiencing what saying yes can do.  It is this encounter with Jesus, and community that is obliterating every cynical thought I ever had about what’s possible. I am learning to just wake up everyday expecting the impossible. Because,  life really is that beautiful when you show up.

Oh my, am I ever so thankful for a continual windfall of tiny miracles.

Let us not be on the sidelines of history

I was so tempted to spend the entire evening yesterday checked out watching old seasons of Friday Night Lights. Take a beat from the heaviness that’s descended my heart the past few weeks with the pain inflicting our world. The events unfolding in Ferguson over the killing of Mike Brown have taking the forefront though. It’s felt as though darkness and war have taken a foot hold and a tidal wave has hit.

But, what feels like issues so much bigger than anything I am capable of changing , I was reminded of a huge victory in the battle for justice.  Just this past Tuesday reports surfaced that 46 women and children were freed from Joseph Kony’s rebel army, the LRA in Central Africa, and it was a humbling reminder of what this generation is capable of.

An example of what happens when light shows up. When people show up. When a generation shows up.

Because those 46 women and children were freed from captivity because tens of thousands of people over the past decade have fought for it. With their lives, voices, resources, and tenacity. Bills have been passed, a viral campaign unfolded, and a movement has sustained all to bring an end to the longest running war in Africa. It isn’t just a war we’re fighting on the other side of the world, the child soldiers and affected communities are as important as our neighbors. They still are, and we’re still fighting.

This renegade band of millennial’s knew there was no other option than to answer the call, and so they did. In every way they knew how: in the imperfection of a young movement, sleepless nights, too many cups of coffee,  to the stages they spoke from to hundreds of thousands of people on behalf of Invisible Children. We learned that when united in common purpose, grounded in grace, and a relentless work ethic the darkness starts to recede.

There is for no greater belief that this band of renegades exists other than that every human life matters. That no matter where you live: you have value, are inherently worthy of love and protection.

So, as I went to hunker down and get lost in mindlessness, a great conviction took hold of me. Because I know that not taking a side in the fight for justice, means that you choose the side of the oppressor – even if it’s not your intent.

There can’t be another day wasted waiting for a leader to arrive on the scene to guide us towards justice.

This generation may not have our own Martin Luther King Jr.  in the trenches,  perhaps because he paved the way for us to rise up. We have the resources, connectivity, and accessibility more so than any generation before.  It’s proven to be one of our greatest set backs when it should be our most extraordinary strength. I believe what’s missing is our collective courage and willingness to get uncomfortable.

Thank you to the students at Howard University who orchestrated this powerful moment,  I deeply hope it’s all we need to spur a movement of justice.  I hope we rise up for the young men who are losing their lives to prejudice and careless authority in our country, and to the men, women and children around the world who need us more than ever.

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I pray we show up and get uncomfortable. I hope that we don’t spend another day on the sidelines of history. Let’s get in the game.

“And pray. Pray. Pray. With your voice, when your spirit, with groans and tears, with your hands and your ears, with your mind and your feet. Let justice roll down.” –Sarah Bessey

This One Wild & Precious Life

This last weekend, my best friend and partner in KAIO Productions encouraged me to write my personal manifesto, as she was going to do the same. From that we would work on the one for KAIO. Taking time to sit down and put down in words how you intend to live this one life of yours, is both humbling and revealing. It feels as though there is now a force holding me accountable to every word–daring me to rise to the occasion.

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Personal Manifesto 

I intend to live in the pursuit of loving others —  expansively and extravagantly. Because the breadth of love liberates and heals. It’s the most divine form of our souls coming alive. Through every painful experience, sense of despair, doubt or fear the power of loving has proven to be able to draw our light from the darkness.

It is more than a pursuit of love, but of being Him here. The Jesus I call Friend and Father is honest, brave, intentional, and the embodiment of heavenly love. In journeying with Him, you have the opportunity to experience a light that fills you from the very depths of your humanity. That very light and grace has changed my entire molecular composition.

In this lifetime my intent is to pursue seeing others capacity and claiming truth over their lives. To find ways to give safety and permission to dig deep into themselves and ask the most important questions. Of what they long for, hope for and dare to be. All the while challenging myself to ask those same questions.  Not only creating the space but to be an active participant in the building of environments that become catalysts for their purpose to become reality.

To live an uncomfortable life. Challenging myself to always step outside of the boundaries I draw for myself, or ones others will project onto me.

Creating experiences that meet people in the divine, every moment crafted to speak of His intention. To have the courage to always go where He leads me, deeper than my feet would ever wander on their own.

Keeping my eyes fixed on my Jesus, knowing that within my own will exists vast insufficiency.  Knowing that if I am brave enough to follow where He leads me that life is destined to be more beautiful, wonder-filled, and full-filling than any dream I could ever design. Even in the hardships that will inevitably find their way into the narrative.

I promise to warrior. For the forgotten, stifled, hopeless, unloved, ashamed, and fearful. Through written word, experience and everyday life–showing up for the important and mundane. To be steadfast in the battle, unwavering in the relentless effort of supporting our generation finding their purpose and coming fully alive. Sharing the parts of me that believe in each person’s beauty and loving them wholly right where they are. To sit in the silence when its right, and dance when it’s both heavy and light.

To fight the darkness in whatever form it chooses to take—rooting myself in the truth of my existence and purpose. Even when that darkness comes from my own self. Giving, creating, loving from my healed places and not of the broken ones.

Thoughtfully crafting hospitality and inviting others into my life. Instilling a sense of home and building community that’s roots go deeper than bloodlines. Giving for the sake of blessing and never for strategy or ego.

Always making the time to sit in wonder at the colored filled sky,  rise early to lean into the sacred quiet places, and always – always look for magic.

Acknowledging The Quietness

 

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Today we get the opportunity to celebrate fathers and the love they have shared, and work they’ve put into providing over the years. Honoring the legacies they have and are building. The day overflowing in gratitude and profile pictures of daughters dancing with their daddy’s on their wedding day.

There are so many wonderful men in this world, who have risen to the occasion of being a dad. I was blessed to have an uncle who loved me like a daughter and have paid witness to men in my life love their children beautifully.

But, like me, there are countless sons and daughters today that won’t call their dad. We didn’t purchase a card or creative gift and every post, instagram or blog update about Fathers Day slightly slams our hearts a bit. Please don’t misunderstand me, that is not bitterness speaking towards people who get to celebrate the gift they have. I am thankful for every person who can claim a father they adore. I approach this day in respect of those who have lost him too soon, and are working to honor the life he lived.

Today there are those of us who aren’t participants in the celebration. That instead of getting to honor the man in our life who has been a rock, we remember all of the ways he was, is or will be absent.

The son or daughter piece of your heart doesn’t know where you fit today and part of you gets a little quieter.

I wish there was a way to rewrite my father/daughter story, but my truth is the man who helped bring me into the world hasn’t been my rock.

It’s been nearly four years since I have had a real conversation with my father. Closing that door was one of the hardest, wisest and most profound decisions I have made. There are days where I miss the man that taught me there is adventure to be had, and birthdays should be celebrated for a month. [I took that to heart #sorrymom] The man who laughed easy, believed Disneyworld was full of wonder worthy of countless trips, and Christmas is made of real magic. I’ve come to understand it’s ok to remember and celebrate the good parts you love about someone, without letting the more overpowering darkness in them be part of your life.

In the absence of that grounding force, I like so many others have searched for my foundation. When you come to understand the most organic one isn’t possible, you set off on a journey, that in my case has expanded my heart and granted me the ability to revel in true fatherhood when seen.

Through the most extraordinary of gifts, my Jesus has sprinkled fathers along my journey. In my uncle, who taught me more than words, in mentors, friends and friends parents — men who have shared through the story of their life what it means to portray character, integrity and love. Quietly and honorably displaying what fatherhood represents and is capable of.

Today, I celebrate those of you who have risen to the occasion of fatherhood. Love them so well today.

Today, I remember with those of you who have had to say goodbye to soon. You get to carry his light.

Today, I see those of you who are a little quieter than normal. Reminding you that we are so loved and that the choices of our fathers don’t have to author the story of our lives. That it’s more full of goodness than you can imagine and to always leave a space for restoration and grace.

 

[This short film by Rob Bell from years ago, always reminds me of the love God has for us] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koutUz0Im48]

**Photo by Taylor Adam Swift Photography

Adventure & Blue Cocktails | A Story Of Sisters

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There is this woman I know who defines adventure, perseverance, passion and the courage to live the life of your dreams. At four I watched every move she made, because I was completely enamored with her startling green eyes and long curly hair. She defined cool, even at fourteen and I knew it.

Early childhood was spent watching Oprah episodes beside her, and trips to the corner market for Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream. When we were asked to perform a duet in church together, we practiced on her bed, hairbrush and hairspray bottle in hand singing at the top of our lungs. The real performance was much more “church appropriate”, but that afternoon of practice is still one of my sweetest memories.

There is this woman I know who was on her own at seventeen, due to many harsh realities far outside of her control. Who came from chaos and was able to find her way. With no support, and mountains to climb proved that you can persevere through focus and hard work. Blazing trails while she earned her Bachelors and Masters from the University of Washington, worked alongside Doctors Without Borders in Uganda and became a major advocate for Partners In Health — all in the pursuit of living the life she dreamed of and impacting the world for good.

Jules, has always called the Pacific Northwest home, but has traveled the world over. Witnessing culture and wonder from Spain to China, India to Uganda, Thailand to Antarctica. Showing my sisters and I that the world is expansive, intricate and welcoming.

ImageThere is this woman I know who taught me to color outside of the lines, and on my “adult” solo trip to Seattle, snagged me a fancy blue cocktail at a luau my first night. I at sixteen, her very modest,19th Century loving, rather religious sister behaved scandalously and drank it, believing I might be committing some great sin. Oh, but that cocktail was the beginning of knowing life was meant to be lived daringly.

She moves through life with passion and generosity. For tea, her family, friends, fuzzy animals, education, healthcare, adventure, community, good cheese and wine. Sacrificing many times over in resources to give us time with her and experiences to broaden our world. She shows up– both for others and for her life.

I am honored to call this woman, sister . Someone who possesses some kind of magic and has taught me to be brave. Proving my life could be a story greater than my circumstances and setbacks. She is a teacher and has by example shown us how to keep moving and always keep dreaming.

So many times I am still that four year old watching every move she makes — totally enamored by her grace, courage, and intelligence. As we have become women with full lives and different journeys, I still sit back in wonder at this sister of mine who climbs (ed) both literal and figurative mountains. In awe of her courage and ability to live the story she dreamed of.

She has taught me that life is too beautiful and full of adventure to not have the blue cocktail, always challenging me to color outside of the lines.

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Pieces Of A Full Moon | A Story of Sisters

Pieces Of A Full Moon | A Story of Sisters.

Pieces Of A Full Moon | A Story of Sisters

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 They told me one day that the pieces of the moon that hung in the sky on the days we were born, seven years apart, make a full one. Of which I took a deep breath and knew to be true, because we are part of one another.

I knew the moment she entered the world and fell in love within the span of a heartbeat.

The days following her birth were touch and go. Her heart the size of your big toe, with a hole in it the size of your pinkie one. A lot of prayer and a very brave doctor, brought her through the first of several open heart surgeries.

Doctors implanted a stint in that little heart and gave her the ability to live, and thrive.

She entered the world a warrior.

On September 11th, 2001 she underwent another major open heart surgery in Tampa, FL. My mom wouldn’t let me join the trip because the odds of her making it out of surgery were so limited.  Years later I am still so humbled by my single mother’s bravery to face that day on her own,  protecting the rest of us from what may meet us at the end it.

That day unfolded in tragedy for our country, and as I sat in my 2nd period class and watched the second plane hit the Twin Towers, I could barely breathe. I just kept saying, “Jesus, please let her live”. Shock of what had just happened in NYC and the hours spent anxiously waiting to hear if she would spend more life with us, are still some of the hardest I can remember.

But, Gina warrior-ed.

I still believe she was a gift of light to us on that day of great loss. Odds not in her favor, but the world needed her, and so her heart kept beating.

So, I talk about her alot, and something radiates like the sun when I speak of her. This is why:

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She is joy. She is light and goodness and the embodiment of love. She is so many parts of my heart I hope live fully alive.

Gina recaps every day as “The Best Day Ever” and thinks you’re “smart, beautiful, and funny”—and have the best eyes” If you have brown eyes like hers, it will remind her of our sweet, but long gone shelty named Cookie, and if you have green eyes like our sisters, then you will remind her of mom’s kitty, Bailey.

We’ve watched My Best Friends Wedding, Mighty Joe Young, High School Musical, Ever After and now Twilight, so many times, we can nearly recite the entire script and soundtracks for all of them.

When Benny Hinn was a hit, she used to lay her hands on Andrea, Sarah and I mumbling fervently til we “fell out in the Holy Ghost” . She would then lay a towel across our lower half, as to provide modesty, and continue on to the next sister, evidently feeling very accomplished. [ It took us a few weeks of her standing with her hand on our foreheads mumbling to realize she was praying for us]

Gina, loves you. Truly, wholly, purely. She sees you. If you have more darkness than light, she knows that too and immediately won’t want to spend very much time in your presence. She is the best gauge of character and truth.

She dances to the music she hears, most often not any that’s playing. Let me tell you, that girl can dance, and the ultimate dream is to be a rockstar. My sister has a gift for creating mini-dramas in our world where everyone is heartbroken, broken up with, in love with someone else etc……in her defense it’s a family of six dynamic women, and she grew up with soap operas playing in the background. [ mostly, my fault]

Her world has very few filters and she moves through life the way we all wish we could. With easy trust, boundless joy, appreciation for the simple yet sincere, and telling people how we truly feel about them.  I long to see the world through her eyes– she challenges me to slow down and listen.

If you’re handsome, she’ll tell you. If you’re being a bad daughter, she won’t mince words. Forgot your friends birthday? Offensive. Want to grab a cheeseburger w/ french fries – you’re her favorite person. Remembered her birthday that’s coming in 9 months—well, that’s a cause for celebration!

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She also possesses a strong knack for re-gifting your own things that she somehow managed to sneak away. But! –Just for safekeeping so it can be re-gifted to you later. She loves, love more than anyone I know and on the daily wants to discuss my lack of current boyfriend — she says “Sue, you have zero boyfriend, but hey, you have me!”. Yes, sweet girl I do.

Loving, kind, sassy and brave Gina is my hero. Always has been, always will be. My sisters and I have such a special gift in this sweet girl of ours. The ultimate reality check and measure of kindness.

She is an angel, warrior, sassy dancer, wanna-be rockstar and one of the greatest gifts of my life. Last year she took two solo trips on an airplane to visit me in San Diego, absolutely out of her comfort zone and safety net. All in the pursuit of quality time with her best buddy and being “A Free Woman”, because, people, she is an adult.

I hope your life is graced with a Gina. There is no one like her, but I hope that you get to experience a light like hers for it carries on, endlessly. You will never be the same.

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Dear Darling: Let The Stars Back In

Call this the year of letting the stars back in, the year of no mistakes -Anis Mojgani


ImageThis year has been one of the unexpected. Every thing that could pull me out of my comfort zone is high on the activity list these days.

I feel this constant state of anticipation, fear, gratefulness and doubt. Some days one or all of those emotions weight heavy, and I am thankful for all of them because I believe it means I am living.

Living in a way I never imagined.

Whether it is the pursuit of building a vision, planting roots or simply learning to live life fully alive, this season has been the most challenging, because I’ve stepped into the tension.

The tension that we so often steer clear of, or try to find a million other ways to ease or distract our self from. I know for most of my life I avoided it, until I realized that if I was to encounter my life, that stepping into the uncomfortable was vital. Trusting God enough to lean into that pull of your soul that is beckoning toward your purpose, and the life you were created for. The unknown so very real, and filled with a strange sort of joy and fear.

Choosing to live in the tension has exposed the beauty of what it means to simply exist. A humbling experience as I’ve learned of my strength, and deep inadequacy– but most importantly the effort it takes to show up for your life.

I’ve been researching the tension [compressional stress] that occurs in the earth right before an earthquake. It’s that tension that causes the ground to shake. Although, many of the everyday ‘compressional stressors’ are testing my grit, it has started to build this beautiful expectation of what is to come within me. A daily reminder to lean into the tension.

This last week the belief that we’re are all made of stars, so in essence are stardust, has come through music, spoken word and artistry. That stars are infinite and light carries on, endlessly.

What wonder, to think that we are part of that.

So, darling, I say we let the stars back in. Into our stories, and in our everyday. Because when you pursue the light and allow yourself to be changed by it, you can only be pulled deeper into the adventure of your life. Fully alive.

The process isn’t comfortable, but it’s important and I believe so very worth it.

 

 

 

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