Thursday, March 19

Surviving or Thriving?

We don't just want to survive these days, we want to live and thrive. Here's what I've got gathered in my head so far:

1. Get dressed in the morning, like you are going somewhere, even if you are not.

I learned this from FlyLady.  "Get dressed to the shoes," she says.  And she's right.  It's a psychological gift you give yourself that seems to say, "I matter. This day matters. Let's do this."

2. Draw/Write a schedule for your kids.

We literally draw boxes (or blocks) of time and plan our day out.  We started out doing this every day when Nash was about 4.  It was such a rescue.  He began to transition much better and even June was enjoying seeing what the day would hold.  As he grew and started kindergarten, we found he didn't need the routine drawn out every day, but on long breaks, his behavior began to escalate again. We would pull out our dry erase board, draw out the day, and it always seemed to help.

So in these times of uncertainty and extended time away from a regular rhythm of actually going to school, you better believe I have been drawing our day out in blocks of time. And no, it's not fancy, see today's >>
It's not about whether or not you have chosen to continue schooling or have a grand plan for the day.  It's simply blocks of time- playtime, lunch time, tv time, etc.

3.  Use your phone for phone calls.

Commit to turning your phone off for one hour a day.  Don't check the news all the time. Don't be on social media all the time.  You don't need to lose your soul.

Some boundaries for yourself are healthy.  I recently got an actual newspaper subscription.  As the never-ending-news bombarded me over the weekend and into this week, I decided I knew enough for now.  I didn't check the news once on Wednesday.  When the paper came Thursday, it had all the news I needed to know about the virus.  Treat your phone like an object you own, not a best friend that must be with you at all times.  Use your phone for good- play scrabble online with your elderly neighbor, call people and actually talk- not text- them.  Order a bag of coffee beans delivered to your door from your favorite local coffee shop that is losing thousands of dollars a day (I may or may not be doing this tomorrow.)

How will you put some boundaries on your phone? Or on the amount of news and social media you input everyday? Especially right now? Do you need to turn off your phone the moment you finish this post? Possibly. Should you share it first? Yes, possibly.

4. Solitude and Silence

Every entity in our world is clamoring for your attention online.  It's informative and it's destructive, it's essential and it's a distraction, it's comforting and it's stressful.  Churches are sharing anxiety-reducing prayers, educational websites are offering online lessons, businesses are calling for your support-- all online.  Not to mention the news- and we all want to keep up with the news online as it unfolds literally by the minute.  We are all told to stay home for the most part- to keep 6 feet distance, limit groups to 10, and limit travel to essential places.  No going to work, no going to the gym, plays, PTA meetings, or church.

If our time is suddenly very free- let's do something remarkable- be free.  Be free from noise and distraction and practice an hour of silence- or even just 15 minutes.  Be free from your [kids] constant companionship and go for an hour walk by yourself- without headphones! Calm the noise down in your head and your heart will thank you for it.  Your body will literally inhale deeply like you've been holding your breath without knowing it.

5. Get the One-Minute Pause App

Once a day, or even twice, pause and say, "I give everything and everyone to you God." This free app is put out by Ransomed Heart.  It is vital.

What are you doing to thrive right now? Do you have an essential soul care items you would add to this list?

-Chelsea




Monday, October 28

Rifts in the Soul (part 2)

I referred to anxiety and shame in Part 1, and how these emotions are born from forcing our souls to try to live the unknown future or live buried in the past. But the dominant emotion I did not reference was anger.  Anger is a rift in the soul born from a whirlwind of simultaneously trying to force your soul to live in the past, present, and future all at the same time. Your soul cannot handle this type of split and the emotion that comes through is anger or rage.

The feeling of anger arises from lower-level agreements of unfairness, injustice, or unmet expectations. These agreements are living inside and your soul in ping-ponging from the past to the future so fast it's hard to even nail down a way out.

When I was 17 and dating an 18-year-old Kenny Barrett, I was dealing with the increasing reality that Kenny and I were in love, but we were very different. Kenny was trying to become an independent young man, as 18-year-olds often do, and I was balancing my final year of high school and making big decisions about my future.  On my 18th birthday, I was expecting a gift from Kenny.  It came to the day, and Kenny confessed he had not purchased me a gift because he didn't have the money to do so.  I knew the week prior he had purchased an exhaust kit and dropped a few hundred dollars on his car. His precious "White Knight"- a '98 Eagle Talon with blue undercarriage lights. Cue The Fast and the Furious, a dream world Kenny wanted to live in for the better part of 2002-2005.

I was mad. Really mad.  My soul was bouncing to the past, looking back at the unfairness of Kenny spending money on his car instead of me. It was reeling in the present, feeling a huge unmet expectation that I was not getting a gift. And it was being pushed to the future of unknown outcomes and questions about our relationship, and how it would be in the future, and would Kenny always struggle with money? I exploded in anger. And you know what I did? I looked out at the car with an intense hatred of it.  So I got in the White Kight, started it, and purposefully dropped the clutch to kill the engine. And I got out of the car, walked back inside and went to my room and closed the door. Did it help me feel less angry? No, and Kenny was now angry and left in the White Knight to cool off. I was so angry, and I felt so justified to be so. I can see now the rifts in my soul at that moment.  And I've had to revisit this memory and ask Jesus for healing.  I've had to forgive Kenny a few times in my spirit, and I've had to ask God how to deal with my anger many times.

I've been in counseling enough to know that the standard reason we feel anger is trying to control something out of fear. I get that. But knowing that has not changed my instinctual response to feel anger more often than I ever feel anxiety or shame. And yes, counseling has helped me control my anger (ironically enough, you learn to control your own anger which is born from trying to control something else). Side note- You may feel the opposite, and deal way more with anxiety or shame than anger- See Part 1.

It does help to know that I can't control other people, or that I can't control the outcomes.  But, it really helps to see what is happening at the soul level and how there is a fragmentation happening in my soul when I feel anger.  I'm forcing my soul to feel unfairness of what has happened in the past.  I am also forcing my soul to a future tense of unknown outcomes.  At the same time.  My soul cannot handle this. The answer for me is yes, counseling, yes, letting go of control, but also a deep healing of my soul.

I go to the past, and pray for inner healing of these memories that are creating a sense of unfairness or injustice. I stay fully present without forcing myself into the future of what could happen if I don't control.  And then my soul is finally fully present to deal with unmet expectations.  My present reality of an unmet expectation becomes the place where I turn to God to deal with the pain of living in a fallen world and a fallen culture with a fallen Enemy after me.  It's remaining fully present that allows me to see truth over lies and agreements.  Okay, now I can more clearly see what agreements God is trying to break, or what lies I have been believing. Whew, my soul suddenly takes a deep breath. Yours will too.   And I suddenly remember the deepest truth of why my expectations are not being met.

This world is not my home.  I'm made for Eden and for heaven and earth fully restored. Of course there is disappointment in the present.  Of course, because all the best this world offers is nothing compared to the future glory of being alive in the presence of God. This is what my soul is yearning for and this is why expectations often feel like they are not met.

And OF COURSE we will feel pain in this world. If I'm fully present, I've got some tools to handle feelings of pain and disappointment. The biggest tool is true hope that all I've lost will be restored 100 fold, and that all things will be made new.

This discourse on anger is a work in progress.  But if your dominant default emotion is anger, you get it. All the prayers, mantras, and deep breaths in the world have helped me control my anger, but I'm after inner healing where I don't get angry in the first place.  The biggest jump forward in this is soul healing inner prayer over the past, allowing my soul to stay fully present to this reality, not an unknown future.

I'm sure there is much more healing and growth for me in this area of anger.  But I'm not going to force my soul to the future to control that path.  Today, this is the message from the Spirit for me and I hope it's a message you needed to hear as well.

Keep Calm and Stay Present,
Chelsea

Expectation: Gardening is fun. My soul at the time: This is not fair and I'm not having fun.
circa 1996
Sorry Mom.

Sunday, October 27

Rifts in the Soul (Part 1)

The soul is very fragile and very resilient at the same time. Consider this: our soul is our truest selves in the present tense. When we experience a rift in our soul, it's when we are forcing parts of ourself to either the past or the future.

Anxiety is born we try to force our souls to live in a future tense. We are unable, physically, to live in the future and thus a rift happens in our souls and we call it anxiety. It's this split of present and future tense, with a chasm we are unable to cross.  Intense worry, stress, and anxiety are the result. You cannot cross this chasm into the future to solve all the unknown variables of the present. Try as you might, you cannot control the outcomes of what is happening today.  Besides the literal impossibility of living in the future tense, there is also a problem of our inability to see God's grace in the future.  We are only given grace for each day.  So when we imagine the future, we do not imagine our futures with sufficient grace for that day (2 Cor 12:9).  We cannot imagine how God will come through, provide, sustain us, or use our weakness as his glory.  Therefore, anxiety is the result.  Look back at your life and tell me one thing that makes you anxious that is not about the future. Once something painful has happened, our souls automatically register it past tense and now what we feel and experience is something more like loss, grief, sorrow, shame, etc. It no longer feels like anxiety if it's not in the future.

This has been my journey lately because of my being married to an entrepreneur for the last 2 months now. It is a daily exercise of laying down what worries me about the future every. single. day.  It's a mental checklist of what is my present reality versus what may happen tomorrow.  The only way my soul experiences joy, laughter, patience, and love is to stay fully present. Watch a child play for a while. They are great at being fully present. Their emotions are based on what is happening right now. Good and bad.  How much lighter we all might feel if we stay fully present each and every day.

Contrastly, when we force our souls to live in the past tense, we often experience shame. You see a picture of yourself 20 pounds heavier (or lighter) and you feel shame. You remember a terrible thing you did to a friend or family member, and you look down immediately as your body senses shame rising. You might recall that junior high conversation where you were totally lost and faked it to look cool- and still can sense embarrassment rising to the surface. Shame is this rift in the soul where we hate our past selves.  I see this all the time in before and after pictures on social media. "Look at how fat and ugly I was before, and look how thin and beautiful I look now." Hatred of your past self is just as damaging as hatred of your present self.  Your past and present make up who you are at your soul level, your truest self is in there somewhere. If you hate yourself, even past versions of yourself, you are creating a split in the soul that is very damaging.

When I experience shame, I will pause and try to think of where in my past this is coming from. Often a memory will come to mind that I need to ask Jesus to heal that past shame to find freedom from present shame. I gave an entire talk devoted to being obsessed with weight and numbers, but let me give an example here.  A friend asks if I want some of her dress pants that she no longer needs. I accept and they are way too small for me. Shame. I pause and ask Jesus, "What part of me is feeling shame over the size of my pants I wear now?" And I let the memories come... It's 6th grade, when I noticed my jeans were too tight and the next size didn't match what size my best friend was in. It's trying on my older sister's prom dress and I can't zip it up. It's comparing myself to my new college friends' sizes when we are shopping together.

Do you see the rifts in my soul? And now, do you sense how deep Jesus' healing can go? I pause and remember each scene, and I ask Jesus to come into the memory. I listen and receive what he says to me, the past me. He tells my 6th grade self that these jeans don't define me. That I am beautiful.  He tells me the prom dress is beautiful and brings out the green in my eyes. He shows me the life change of college and why I was eating more than normal. He blesses my body, and gently shows me where I began eating food for comfort. I repent. He's so kind when he does this type of healing, and sometimes, convicting. This is a very brief example- For more guidance on biblical healing prayer, I highly recommend this resource from Ransomed Heart Ministries. 

Healing these rifts in the soul will be unique and personal to you. But I can promise you this, integrating your past self at the soul level will provide immense relief to the present you.  Then, when you can remain more fully present, and Jesus can anchor you to the grace given for today, you will find it easier to stop trying to force your soul to the future.  Win-win-win.

Integration is the greatest depth of the healing of Jesus that I know.   Yes, we need to take the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the world, but Jesus also wants to take the Gospel to the uttermost parts of our souls.  Yes, Jesus forgives your sin so you can go to Heaven, but there is so much more restoration that is available.

Kenny and I will be facilitating a 12-week group called "Restoration of the Heart" next March.  We lead you through some teaching on integration, your story, and wholeheartedness that has been life-changing for us and many others.  I would love to talk with you about this opportunity if you are ready for more of the Gospel in more of your life.
Piran, Slovenia
A place of healing for my soul in so many ways


Read Part 2 here, where I address the third biggie emotion and rifts in the soul: anger.



Monday, February 18

Dad's Eulogy

My sister and I spoke at my father's funeral on Saturday, February 16th.  Here are the words we shared:


As I read my father’s obituary, I thought how unfortunate it was that no timeline of events or achievements could capture the essence of who my dad was. He was a man who could tell a ghost story at a campout with all the drama and intrigue of a paid playwright. He told stories of history like he had seen it himself- from the tragedy of Jonestown to the causes of the Great Depression, from George Washington to the importance of the Beatles. To me, he was the smartest man I knew, and before there was ever Wikipedia, there was my dad. But he wasn’t a nerd either. He was that dad that all my friends thought was the cool one. My mom and he hosted me and my college friends every Sunday for years. We ate all their food and often they would barbeque or play some music or lawn games. He came through for me, but he often came through for anyone I loved when they needed it. He once rented a canoe when my friend had been let go from their job and couldn’t come along on the float trip anymore. He paid for meals when he didn’t have to, stepped up to lead when others wouldn’t and he noticed people that others didn’t. The greatest stories that people tell about Dad tend to revolve around this theme. “He noticed me, he noticed I needed something, and he made it happen.” Or he noticed our community or church needed something, and he made it happen. Sometimes it was something fun, like putting on a fireworks show or a pig roast. Sometimes it was something desperately needed, like hundreds of visits to so many family members in their final years of life.

When we were young, my mom ran the ship at home. Dad was gone often, climbing the corporate ladder. But something shifted externally and internally for him, and we found ourselves in Aurora, Missouri. This is where most of my memories begin. I remember a father who was neither distant nor detached. My dad was funny, spontaneous, generous, and engaging. He loved music and would play it loudly as we cleaned or cooked or rearranged the furniture (which he was fond of doing). His spontaneity gave us a little extra something in our family. An impromptu trip to Sonic for slushies or adding an extra night to a camping trip, he liked to plan, but he was flexible. In fact, I think he thrived on problem-solving. He was generous, and while I may have leaned on the side of being spoiled, I felt so loved. He took us so many places, so many adventures. He was who you wanted as your shopping partner because he would always buy more than you came for. An unspoken shoe shopping rule of his was “If there is a buy one get on half off shoe sale, you always pick out two pair.” If he were here he would say, “Well, of course.” He was generous with his time- playing kick the can with us as long as daylight would allow. He was generous with affection- sneaking kisses with my mom, caressing my hair, giving good foot rubs. He was engaging. When we would talk about faith or politics, he never shied from sharing his feelings or struggles. I remember the struggle of acceptance Kenny and I felt during our dating years, and it was my dad who softened first and led the way for others to embrace our engagement to be married. That love and acceptance was life-changing at the time.

We were his girls. My mom, Addie, and me. He protected us and loved us, he told all of his girls how beautiful we are and how strong we could be. My dad asked Kenny one thing when we wanted to marry, “How will you help Chelsea be her own woman?”

The greatest gift my dad gave me is a bit hard to describe. The greatest gift my dad gave me was a beautiful and loving example of how God the Father views us. My dad’s imprint on me paved the way for my faith to in God. To know God as a loving Father began with experiencing my own father’s love toward me. What joy it has been to imagine that now, my dad gets to fully experience life with God and fully feel the love of God the Father toward him. We talked of faith often, and some of the things he said are so special they are left in the sacred spaces of my heart. But I will say that he said experiencing the Spirit of Christ was very real and something that he could not deny, and that believing in Jesus was what he chose, and he said he thought everyone didn’t have to, but he did.

We love you Dad, we wait to see you again. I know without a doubt you are proud of me, because you told me many times. We will continue to make you proud. We will travel the world with fabulous itineraries. We will play music, loudly, and will pride ourselves on a finding a fantastic camping spot. We will be spontaneous, generous, and engaging. We will listen. We will speak up. We will continue to make you proud, not by what we do, but by the way we see ourselves. We will we see ourselves as beautiful and strong and capable as you declared over and over.

-Chelsea



_______

My dad’s legacy is bigger than he was. Literally. At 5’3”, 5’4” on a good day, he was a small guy, but he carried himself as though he were the tallest, richest man in the room. And he was rich.

The day he married my mom, 46 years and 4 months before he died, he won the only lottery that mattered. He found a partner with whom he could build a life of love, service and adventure. They fanned each other’s flames and spent the next 10 years falling even deeper in love with each other as a vast circle of friends, many of whom you see here today. That’s when my dad grew tall. With every challenge, he grew stronger and more assured of his purpose. He learned how to forge ahead and forgive. When he found out the family secret, that he’d been raised by his grandmother and his sister was his biological mother, he grieved but leaned into the pain, and embraced the new iteration of his family, including his brother and sister, Leesa and Tom, who are here with us today.

My parents waited 10 years to start a family, and then they struck gold a second time: two daughters they could shower with love and bring along on the adventure that was well underway by the time we arrived.

We were happy campers, and he was the happiest cooking breakfast over a campfire with a cup of French press coffee and a newspaper nearby. We knew our dad was special. We knew not every dad could balance being a city councilman and a basketball coach and a caregiver to his elderly aunts and uncles who, one by one, moved to the Aurora Nursing Home during their final years. We knew not every dad could speak the words, “I love you and I’m proud of you,” with such regularity.

We all knew Dan as a community leader and a businessman with the ethics of Jesus, as I’ve heard a few of you say, but his legacy. His legacy, my friends, is how he loved my mother. They married on a lark when they were teens and had only known each other a few weeks. They became the envy of every lovesick romantic they ever met. They counseled their couple friends about how to be better listeners. They showed the world what it meant to be partners who didn’t always agree but knew the importance of compromise, forgiveness, passion, trust and unyielding faith in their commitments to themselves and each other. They had full lives outside their marriage, but those careers, friendships, hobbies and spiritual lives wouldn’t have existed without the foundation of what they built between them. He couldn’t have been the Dan that you all knew without being the Dan he was for my mom.

Sis and Dan. Dan and Sis. Yaya and Papa.

My mom was whispering sweet nothings in his ear until the moment he died. Holding his hand. Kissing his forehead. Making sure he was comfortable and maybe even laughing. “We did it together,” she told him on one of his last nights. She was talking about helping him take his pain medicine, but she was talking about so much more.

God brought my parents together, and they brought all of you into their lives, and today, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I learned many things over the years from my dad, but two things stand out today: That grief and gratitude go hand in hand, and that if you really love something, you’ve got to be willing to let it go. In the days, months and years ahead, it might seem like we’re carrying on without Dan, but in truth, we’ll be carrying him with us, wherever we go. So go make the most of us.

The day my dad died was also the day that the great poet Mary Oliver left this Earth. I wanted to conclude with part of her poem, “In Blackwater Woods.”

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.


-Addie

Saturday, February 9

An African Sunrise

Roosters crow. Birds tweet and sing.  A lazy haze of fog and smoke dim the view of morning in the hills of Rwanda.  A woman begins sweeping her dusty porch with a bundle of short twigs.  She bends over at the hip and rhythmically sweeps back and forth, back and forth-  Shoo, shoo, shoo, shoo.  The birds are both loud and quiet, EERR! EERR! EERR! tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet. These are the cacophony of sounds that fill an African sunrise.
The lightning and rain of last night have left many clouds lingering this morning. But a pink hue begins to break through. Then yellow, brighter and brighter. The clouds shift slightly and suddenly an intense orange arc rises above the horizon.  You can look right at it.  You can almost see the earth rotate toward the brilliant sphere. As the sun continues to rise in the sky, you have to look away. It's too bright now. It's as if the sun was rising just for you, but now it must go on its way and illuminate the rest of the city.  We will greet each other again tomorrow.
One bird's voice calls louder now, "Whoo Whoo Whoo Whoo Whoo Whoo!" as if it's cheering for the break of day.  I agree, little bird.  I agree.

Wednesday, October 17

Beauty in Death

Things are quiet around here.  Recently I had a friend ask "How are you?? Busy these days I'm sure..." (This kind of banter about being busy seems to have taken over as a general greeting).

But no, I'm not all that busy. On Saturday I sat on a bench and stared at a beautiful orange and red tree, in all its fall glory. I thought of Jim Gaffigan's sketch about foliage and chuckled to myself.  He jokes about how our favorite season is fall- watching leaves die.

Death.  I forgot about it for a moment.  Thinking about death is hard. There are days of grief, but sometimes just moments.  My dad's cancer is spreading faster than the doctors can keep up, and it's been a relief to him to make the choice to begin hospice care instead of more chemo.  He's losing weight, upping pain meds, and is low on energy all the time.  Our family has been in connection daily, assuring him of our support, our love, and saying all the things you want to say to a loved one.  This little season is a gift of time.  No one thinks they want to die slowly, but what happens if you do?

You get to see beauty unfold.

The beauty of Kenny making sure he tells my dad what a good father he has been to me.

The beauty of asking my dad about his faith, and him giving me assurance of his eternity with Jesus.

The beauty of reminiscing with pictures and memories of days long gone by.

The beauty of foot rubs and shoulder rubs- a Broyles family favorite pastime.

The beauty of unselfish love unfolding before my very eyes- my mother's love for my father.

The beauty of my dad expressing his love for his girls.

Our nuclear family has been together several times this last year.  What a gift. I wish my dad wasn't suffering with pain and nausea, but I wouldn't wish our time away- ever.

"Joy is not happiness on steroids.  It's the unyielding belief that sorrow and loss do not have the final say." -Stasi Eldredge, Defiant Joy

You are so right, Stasi. Sorrow and loss do not have the final say in this family.  Cancer does not have the final say in this family.  We shall overcome.  One day, Jesus will come to restore all that has been lost, all that we grieve now will be restored a hundredfold.  This is the hope that is the anchor for true joy, even when death comes nearer and nearer.

-Chelsea


Fall 2016




Thursday, August 23

Numbers


Often numbers consume our thinking as women. What I would like to offer here is a talk I gave to a group of women last May about our culture of shame about body size, and how God can speak to our hearts about our beauty.

Click here to listen.

For more on this topic, check out Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge.
The prayer exercise at the end comes from Cheri Snyder with Ransomed Heart Ministries.  You can check out her talk here.

May you have eyes to see your own beauty,
Chelsea