Restless

I am supposed to be preparing my lecture for this Saturday. I SUCK at staying on task when I am doing something I rather not do. Don’t get me wrong; it’s exciting (and a little nerve-wracking) to present to a group of my peers…but the prep part and going through the research part of it is so tedious and time consuming. I’m one of those super procrastinators that waits til the last hour to finally get things done. The stress of a near deadline drives me better and I end up putting out good work.

I have to admit, overall I am not good at preparing. I usually dive right for the end result, and let the details fall where they may. (However, I am not like this at work, and am all about the details…I need somehow make this flow over to my non work life.) When I have to prepare for something and wait to see how things turn out, I get sooo restless.

Right now I am restless. I am this squirmy, fidgety, five year old stuck in a 33 year olds body who’s been waiting, and waiting…and waiting for a long time for her promises to come. As I sit and squirm, that little voice creeps in that suggests that I start to offer suggestions or try to make plans that I hope will speed up my wait.  I jump out of my little chair, walk over quietly to my Father and hand him my newest idea, my newest strategy to hurry things along.

He looks at them, considers them quietly then hands it back to me while saying,

“Sweet Pea, that’s a good idea, but I promise you that My way will be better, even if you can’t see it right now. Just sit back, relax and wait. I have everything handled.”

Those words bring instant comfort; I am reminded that everything is better when done in God’s timing, then I sit back down. For a while I am placated by those words and just enjoy not having to worry. Then restlessness returns. I can’t sit still. I fidget. I start to pace. I start thinking about the wait, wondering why things are taking so long, doubt creeps in…

And the cycle restarts.

 

I compose another plan, another strategy and rush it over to my Father. He reaches out his hand, takes it, considers it quietly for a moment and says,

“If I told you to go stand in the Jordan now, could you do it?” ( explanation below.)

“Wait, like now? Right now?”

“Yes, like right now? Could you do it? Do you feel prepared?”

“I think so. Maybe?”

He smiles and takes my hand.

“Restless does not mean ready. You must prepare.  You still have doubts and ” what ifs” about the things you are waiting for. You must get rid of all doubt, all fear, all unbelief and be ready to stand when I tell you to stand. You must be strong, fearless and unwavering. You will have your Jordan moment. I need you to prepare. Abide in me and I will prepare your way.” He pats my shoulder and sends me off with things to read to help me prepare during my wait.”

So I prepare.

So I recently went to Queen Camp and got to learn about Joshua (my FAV!!)  and crossing over the Jordan River. God has placed me back in Joshua for a while, so when I saw that this was our study for the weekend I was super excited.

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80 years old, and wipes out a nation filled with enemies? Coolest guy ever!

Having a Jordan moment is a big deal.  The Jordan represents crossing over from the old to the new. When Moses died, Joshua was responsible for leading millions to the Promise Land. To get over to Canaan and collect their land, they had to cross the Jordan river. The river was over  hundred miles long. When they crossed, it was at flood stage so it could have been almost a mile wide. Not to mention that the river could be about 150 ft deep during flood stage. That’s a lot of river to walk through.

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These guys could have gotten restless and taken the “easy” way, which could mean just jumping in and trying to swim to the other side. Or make a boat and paddle across. Or  worse…give up and not cross at all. All these things would have been in their own strength and not trusting God.

God calls them to do the “crazy” thing, to step in the river WHILE IT WAS FULL, and then and only then would He stop it so they could cross over. They had to get in, get wet, put their feet in the sticky mud and walk through it.

And even crazier? Those priests stood holding a 600 lb Arc of the Covenant for 29 DAYS.

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29 DAYS!!!! I thought it was a simple “priest step in, people cross over in a day, river goes back to normal, Yay Caanan!” Nope. Not at all that easy. 29 days, holding 600 lbs so that millions of people could cross over a space of 100 feet. Craziness! Although looking at this scene, along with what I see as just crazy, is also things that are just plain beautiful. They stood for 29 days holding 600 lbs, non stop. What great faith, courage, trust and obedience that took.

Even cooler than that, God gave them the strength to do it. There’s no way they could have done it on their own. God made them do the impossible. God took “crazy” and made it reality. It’s beautiful.

These guys had to be prepared. They had to be so full of trust, love and obedience of the Lord to make this work. They had to be courageous and not let fear or doubt get a hold of them. They had to look to God rather than to their impossible situation. They kept their eyes on Him, and they got to do something incredible. What if they rushed it? What if they doubted God for a second? It would have never happened.

So when you or I feel restless, and waiting on God seems tedious, think back to Joshua and the beautiful thing God did for the Israelites crossing the river. Remember God  is for us, His plans are way better than ours, and it when it comes time to have our Jordan moment, God will be with us.

 

 

 

Forgive

I find my voice better through writing instead of speaking. Forgiveness and loving others is currently something I am working through. It’s not been easy. Just when I think I’ve got it, I find myself stumbling again.  Here’s my random thoughts on what I’ve been working on this past year. I hope it makes some sort of sense.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love is not rude,  it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”

“Forgive.”

Keeping no records of wrongs means to forgive. To give a clean slate. To start over. Okay, I can do that. I can start over. But I can’t seem to get past verse 5 in 1 Cor 13: 4-8.

It’s the forgetting that is difficult. The reminders, the wounds not yet closed, past pains still fresh. Echos of past offenses rearing their ugly heads no matter how much I shout them down.  I rebuke the reminders that the Devil loves to dig back up and telling Him it is all on the Cross. Sometimes the shouting works. But there are times I find myself on my knees, his shouting louder than mine, crippled by past pain.

When the storm seems too rough, and the pain is too great, I want to run. I want to put on my running shoes, pack my bags, buy my ticket and bounce.  I want to rip up the roots that God has so carefully planted and take off. Vanish. Instead, I run to God, chaining myself to the Cross because if I don’t…I’ll run elsewhere.

Instead I let the waves hit and cling to the only hope I have in front of me, and remind myself :

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love is not rude,  it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”

“Forgive.”

Forgive in spite of pain, disappointments, broken trust, wrongdoings. It seems like so much, difficult for my human heart to comprehend. I want to self protect so that no pain is ever experienced again. God calls me to put down my shield, to be open, to love. To forgive. He applies His healing salve to my wounds that I thought my shield was preventing.

In those moments, I turn to the Lord and say,

“God how can I open my heart to those who have caused so much pain? How can I let them in? How can I let them get close again?

God gently reminds me,

” Baby girl (His name for me), I do that with YOU. With everyone.”

He reminds me of the Israelites, Gomer, Peter, David, Judas, Jacob, Adam, Eve…the list is truly endless. All of our names are on that list. God gives us so much grace and mercy. He could treat us like we treat Him.

I’ve  hurt my Father. I’ve turned away. I’ve put others things above Him. Yet, he waits. He’s patient and waits and when I’m ready, when my striving and wandering are done…He’s there. His arms are open; He showers me with His mercy, grace and love. He forgives.

He’s calling me to do the same.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love is not rude,  it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”

” Forgive.”

Forgive as God has forgiven me. Love like He loves me. Give clean slates to those who have hurt me.  God says that love covers a multitude of wrongs. I really hope it can. I need it to. I don’t want this to hold me back.

 

 

 

Job

I feel like Job.

I admit this is my least favorite book in the Bible.

My summary of Job (if you want the real full length story, go here): He’s one of God’s favorites. His whole life is dedicated to the Lord. He serves the Lord willingly and happily. He’s been blessed with lots of abundance and God’s favor and he’s living the good life.

One day, Satan goes to God looking to start trouble, evil, etc.

God: “Have you seen my servant Job? He’s super dedicated to me and serves me with his whole heart.”

Devil: ” Whatever. I bet if I make his life a living hell and take everything he holds dear, he’ll curse your name and no longer serve you.”

God: “You don’t know my child very well. Do your worse, and Job will still serve and love me.”

Despite the happy ending, I still struggle with this book.  The idea of God allowing the enemy to draw us closer to Him and prove our faith is hard for me to digest. I am not a fan of the refiners fire. I know there are benefits to it.  But going through it, as I feel like I am now, is not fun.

Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and say,”Ya know what? I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I have reached the end of myself, and I just can’t move forward in this season any longer. I feel lost. I feel insane. New season. Now.”

When I’ve hit that point, God comes beside me, takes my hand and says, ” I am with you. Keep your eyes on me. I walk you through this. Just continue to trust me. I know it seems dark now and everything is falling apart…but I am still here. I know how your story ends. Stay with me.”

After a lot of crying, (some yelling) I get up, take a deep breath and keep moving. The devil still shouts his lies, throws his rocks and shoves obstacles in my road…but I keep moving.

I will not run away. I will not turn my back. I will remember my promises. I will keep moving.

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I choose love

God prompted me to write. I’m studying 1:Cor 13 and this past week, I focused on verses 4-8. These are my thoughts on it. Hope it makes sense 🙂

We are no match for the gates of Hell, for the sin that resides within us and the evil that seeks to destroy us and everything we hold dear. Alone we can not overcome this darkness. We are hopelessly lost.

The only answer that gives us a fighting chance is LOVE. Jesus is love. Through Him and only Him do we ever have a chance for victory.

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Now love is not easy. It is work, y’all. It takes putting ourselves aside, admitting that we are weak and need a savior. God has revealed that love is one of his biggest weapons. Jesus saved us all with one simple act. Love. He conquered sin and death for us all.  And when we use it, we can conquer anything. We just have to learn how.

So I took a look at 1 Cor 13, because I needed to figure out this “how to really love” thing. Like I mentioned before, it’s hard. Why is it hard?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. For one, I’m human. And with that comes selfishness, pride, impatience, foot-in-mouth syndrome, and anger. And when I’m  wronged, here come vengeance, walls a ninja can’t even climb and unforgiveness. It’s a mess, but its what you default to when you are human and try to go it alone.

So lets look at 1 Cor 13: 4-8

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends

There’s a lot to love, many things this one word seems to hold. Yet, it was Jesus’ one command to us:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

I look at that command and think:

“God, I am so human. I want what I want, when I want it and how I want it. How can I possibly follow this? There are days that I remember who I am and that I serve you, but there are days where I forget (or times, like driving on the 41 on my way to work and there’s that one super slow driver….).

Whoops, rabbit trail. Ahem, back on track.

Yet, He calls us to love. It’s a scary thing because we’re human. And better yet, you want us, with all our mess, all our stuff, all our love of self, to join together with another human…with all their stuff and mess and love of self- and call it love.

Wow. Thats an even bigger command. To let worlds collide, very different worlds, and learn to love within them.

So what do we do with all of this? What is our plan?

We have to follow love. It’s the only way to win. It’s the only way to defeat the enemy. It’s like a throat punch to the devil every single time we choose to love. Every time we choose unity over separation, another throat punch.  Pretty soon the devil can’t speak anymore hate and fear into our lives because his throat is swollen shut. That’s an awesome thing.

Every time we lay ourselves down, and choose these things and choose Christ, the enemy reels back in horror. Our love for one another, our willingness to lay ourselves down  and follow Christ terrifies him. And it causes him pain. Doesn’t that just make you happy to know that every time we do this one simple act, to love, it destroys him. The devil, who steals our joy, wants us dead, destroys our families…it is wonderful to know that every time I choose love, it ruins him.

So I choose love. No matter how difficult, how scary or how painful…I choose love.

 

 

This sucks, and that’s okay.

There have been a lot of negative things going on lately: friends losing loved ones, families being torn apart, friends being hurt. I’d been feeling down about all of it and tried to stuff those feelings away until I found out that a patient of mine passed away last week. It was very sudden and unexpected. I remember smiling at him, telling him how great he looked and how awesome it was to see him up and moving around.  I waved goodbye and went on with the rest of my day.

He passed away the next night.

I kept thinking in my head, “He was just here. He was fine. How does this happen?”

It takes me a while to process feelings. When something unpleasant happens, I freeze. Or maybe I detach? Physically my body reacts, but it can take awhile (hours, days…) to express it outwardly.

For example, as I was saying good bye to my sister during my last trip to Atlanta, she starts sobbing. We hadn’t seen each other in about 4 years and hadn’t spoke for about a year. It was a great trip, with lots of healing and restoring of relationships.  She’s sobbing, telling me how much she loves me, doesn’t want me to go and I am in the front seat like:

blank stare

Now internally, this is the conversation I am having:

” This is really sad. I don’t want to leave either. I’ve really missed my family. Oh, she’s really crying. Hard. Why the heck aren’t you crying? Why won’t you just cry? Are you a robot? Don’t you feel sad? Didn’t you miss her, too? What’s wrong with you? CRY YOU ROBOT!!!”

Despite my inner “coach”, the tears don’t come. We say our goodbyes, our I love yous, and I head back to CA the next day.

As I am sitting on the tram back to my car, the tears decide to make their appearance. In front of complete strangers.  A day later.

“Ma’am are you okay?”

“Yep, something in my eye.”

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When the kiddo died, same thing happened. Same freeze up. But when I got home, I felt pretty crappy. There were a mix of emotions: anger, shock, confusion, sadness. These were all things that I did not want to feel and I wanted these feelings gone immediately.

So I prayed.

Me: “God give me something, anything so I don’t feel like this.”

God: “Read Lamentations.”

Me: “What? Why? Isn’t that entire book about a guy lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem? Wheres the happy in that?”

God: “Read Lamentations.”

Me: “It’s going to be depressing. I already feel sad. I want to feel un-sad.”

God: “Trust me. Read it. Take a look at Jeremiah 52 first, then read Lamentations.”

So I finally stop being hardheaded and start reading. So for those of you who don’t know the story, the last chapter in Jeremiah details the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon. Lamentations is basically the authors response to seeing his city destroyed. It’s pretty bad.  Mothers eating their children, people dying from disease and starvation, homes being burned to the ground, everything being reduced to rubble, nasty stuff.

if you want some perspective of what they went through, think 9/11.

As I was going over the history of Lamentations in my commentary, God leads me to one simple sentence:

“The best way to survive grief is to express it.”

Ah.

That is exactly what the author of Lamentations does throughout the book. He doesn’t hold back. He lets God know about his pain, the horror he’s experienced, the suffering, the sadness, the anger, all of it. He’s not afraid to put it all out there. He’s being so real and raw about how much it sucks to see his city, his people, his home experience so much death and destruction. I mean, how could you not say anything? How could you hold all of that in? It’s not healthy. It would kill you.

Yet I hold stuff in it all the time.

Now I do have to mention that this book isn’t all anger and despair, there’s hope. Midway through Chapter 3, the writers lamenting switches to hope:

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because of His compassion fail not. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

I love Hope. It’s listed as one of the three great things to have in 1 Corinthians 13.  Hope keeps you moving forward when you want to give up. Hope brings peace when your world is filled with turmoil. Hope is expecting something good to come out of the darkness.  Hope is knowing that everything will be okay in the end. That’s why I cling to it.

In the same token, I tend to try to shove out anger, sadness, despair, confusion and skip right to the Hope. That’s the happy place. That’s where the light is. There’s pretty flowers there, butterflies, unicorns, (in my world anyway).

Lisa Frank is not reality, no matter how much I wish it to be.

I bury the bad, pretending it’s not there and just jump right to the happy. That’s not realistic. Or healthy. I don’t give myself the chance to grieve the loss, or address the anger. Some part of me feels like I am not trusting God when I let him how much I think it sucks that this kid died, or my friend lost her husband, or that my friend was injured.  That people are being terrorized and murdered. That I don’t understand why there has to be so much loss, sickness and pain along with the joy. That I hate suffering and sometimes feel so powerless in this fallen world. That sometimes, it just plain sucks.

I have to see that God can handle all of mine, all of  our emotions good or bad. That He can take our honest feelings, in fact, that’s exactly what He wants. He isn’t offended by our questions, our anger and He doesn’t see it as a judgement of Him or who He is. He’ll still love us. He’ll still be faithful. He’s still God and in control.

It’s okay to say, “this sucks.” God will listen, open His arms, and ultimately it will be okay.

To Be Someone

(I finally unpacked all my books, and decided to spend the afternoon reading. I picked up a book, and then this happens. God said “write” So I did. Enjoy.)

It’s just a book.

A book.

A book my sisters dog chewed up on the edges that I couldn’t throw away because I loved it so much.

Thanks, Sammi
Sammi always went after things we loved. For my sister, it was her shoes. For me, my books. Thanks Sammi!

A book that has me unglued and sends a flood of memories. I picked up,

To Be Someone

and got really into the first few chapters, when I realized the last time I read this book:

My mom was alive, I was a week from moving from Sacramento to Fresno for grad school and I was excited FREAKING OUT.

I was so scared and uncertain of my future. Why Fresno? Why did I just leave my job that I was crazy good at to move to a city I’d never dreamed of living in? Also, counseling? REALLY? And finally, college students? I’m supposed to manage a bunch of college students? I’m able to plan groups for 100 psych patients but watch over 600 COLLEGE STUDENTS?! Am I INSANE?! I hate confrontation and to manage people…what on earth was I thinking?!

On top of all this, my mom was still dealing with the after effects of cancer treatment, and here I was, leaving.

Was this really the best time to leave? REALLY?

I remember bawling in my room, my dog Roxci standing by the door watching me cautiously as I sat on my bed. I wanted to get up and tell my mom she was right: Fresno was scary, that I was just going to stay, complete my degree at Sacramento State and turn down the Resident Director job in Fresno.

Yet God had opened every single door imaginable to get me to leave…and I knew I had to go. I’d never had doors open that easily before. EVER. I sat on my bed holding,

To Be Someone

knowing that if I shut this door my life would change drastically. If I gave into my fears now, I’d make a serious mistake. If I let the idea of comfort and the “known” keep me back, I’d have a lot of regrets.

I took a deep breath, wiped my tears and returned to my book. Roxci hopped on my bed after a while, convinced that I no longer had my running shoes on.

It’s amazing what things you are able to recall from something as simple as picking up an old chewed up book. And for the record, despite all that has happened, I am so glad I left.

I remember buying the book,

To Be Someone

on a whim while browsing the discount section at Borders one afternoon. It was 7 bucks, had a girl on the cover with headphones on her ears (practically me everyday) and after a skim of the back cover, I had to buy it. I remember the anticipation and joy of getting home just so I could dive into my new adventure. I loved and still love books. Especially the feel and smell of a brand new book, someone should bottle this and sell it.

Without giving too much away (it’s a great read and wouldn’t want to spoil it in case you decide to pick it up) the story circles around a friendship (Helena and Sam) that was ended by cancer and how the main character, Helena, tries to move on. She makes plans, she goes a little crazy, and she almost gives up.

When I bought this, I had no idea cancer would be the subject of the book. I remember reading

To Be Someone

and facing my own fears about losing my mother.  What would it be like to possibly live on without her? Would I go nuts too? Would I give up?

A month after I moved to Fresno, my mom got the all clear from her doctors that the cancer was gone. I was excited and so relieved. I wouldn’t have to experience the pain of losing someone you loved. I wouldn’t be Helena. My mom, my best friend, my Sam, would be fine. She’d watch me walk at my graduation, she’d walk me down the aisle… she’d be here.

That was my plan.

Clearly plans change, and the unexpected happens. Life takes you down roads you wish you’d never have to go.

As I look down at this book

To Be Someone

I think of the road my life has taken these past seven years. As my road changed unexpectedly, sometimes I would run in fear and often in the wrong direction. It’s amazing how fast you can run when you are scared and when the unknown is way too scary in your mind to face. You remember the cracks and ditches that loss has left in your road and you do everything in your power to avoid getting any more.

After a while, you get tired of running away. You realize that you can’t control everything; roads warp and change with time. You can only avoid so much and you have to start trusting that one who created your road will always be there, no matter how many cracks and ditches form. He’ll fill them.

You learn to walk down your road despite fear and pain, and that I’ve learned, is called courage.

cour·age
ˈkərij/
noun
the ability to do something that frightens one.
“she called on all her courage to face the ordeal”

strength in the face of pain or grief.
“she fought her illness with great courage”

synonyms: bravery, courageousness, pluck, pluckiness, valor, fearlessness, intrepidity, nerve, daring, audacity, boldness, grit, true grit, hardihood, heroism, gallantry; informal: guts, spunk, moxie*, cojones, balls.

*I’ve always loved the word moxie. I want to be a woman with moxie. Tons of it.” 

This past year or so I’ve worked to be someone that holds these traits. To be someone that sees the Jordan ahead of me and can step out into the river knowing that the water will stop. To be someone that feels this:

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but remember this:

joshua

so that I do this:

leapoffaith

To leap and enjoy the unknown. To do it afraid. To be someone, with moxie.

I’m getting there.

Where feet may fail

It’s been a rough month emotionally. I just needed a break from the crap swarming in my head. So, on Friday night after an eight hour Doctor Who binge (sad, I know), I asked the Lord if I could I take an introvert day to the beach. He allowed it.

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My happy place

I decided to go to San Simeon for the day. One of my patients told me that it’s a great beach to visit, not too crowed and that I’d love it there. So I went. On my way there, I was just talking to the Lord and said:

I’d like to go sea kayaking. Maybe someday

When I usually take my introvert time, I just sit at the beach for hours and read. I love it. It’s my happy place. I’ll frolic in the waves for just a bit, get soaked because I went in too far and got slammed by a wave.  Then I sit down, usually covered in sea water and sand, and read for a while.

Perfect reading spot.
Perfect reading spot.

But, I’ve always wanted to go out farther. Go deeper in. Swim with a dolphin or two and really interact with the ocean. For me, I guess my representation of God is the ocean. It’s huge. It’s beautiful and peaceful. Yet very  powerful and could really take you out, all of us really, if it wanted too. There is so much of it yet to be explored, so much beyond my understanding.  Kinda how I view the Lord.  I feel closest to God when I am there, so I go monthly if I can.

Anyway…

As I am driving along the 1, I come across tons of beaches. Instant joy. Usually I give into that joy, stop and enjoy whatever beach I come across. God kept pushing…

“Don’t stop. You’ll like where you’re headed. Keep going.”

So I kept going. I drove past so many beaches, fighting the urge to stop each time. I pass this pier and it takes everything in me not to stop, get out and skip down it.

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God pushes,

“Keep going Alexis, you’ll like this.”

I finally get to San Simeon, pull into the town and see cute old buildings, horses, beautiful view. There’s gorgeous trees and flowers everywhere. I like it, but I can’t see the beach.

Cute town.
Welcome to San Simeon

“Lord, this awesome and all, and I am grateful because I really had to pee, but where’s the beach?”

“Walk.”

I walk down this stretch of road, dodge a few cars and then come across this view:

Ahh, there it is.
Ahh, there it is.

Unfortunately a large gate separates me from enjoying the ocean. I can’t trespass onto the land that would easily allow me access, so I get into my car, drive farther down and find coastal access. I hop out of my car look down the road and see this:

Sea Kayaks! Ahhh!!! Yes please!!!
Sea Kayaks! Ahhh!!! Yes please!!!

“Are you ready, Alexis? Let’s go kayaking.”

I admit, I was scared. This is something I’d really wanted to do for a really long time. I’d come across it, give into my fear or the idea of something happening to me and I’d talk myself out of it. I mean it’s the ocean. There is stuff in the ocean that can take you out. The OCEAN can take you out. One wrong move and I’ve got myself an early trip to Heaven. Yet God had taken me to a beach I’d never explored before and there were sea kayaks there. I had to try this, but I was afraid.

Finally I convince myself to go.

“Okay Lord, let’s do this. I’ll go to rental place and sign up.”

I get there and the sales person is out.

“See God, they’re gone. Maybe it’s not meant to be today. Maybe next time.”

“No. Wait.”

So I did. I wandered around the beach a bit, snapped some photos and waited.

A few minutes later, I see a guy running up the hill. I knew that it was my kayak guy. I hunt him down, and tell him I want to try kayaking.

“By yourself?”

“Yep.”

“Okay. Let’s get you started.”

I signed some waiver  that informed me that this activity could result in my death, changed into a wet suit and followed the guy down to the beach to grab my kayak.

“Have you ever kayaked before?”

“Once. In a reservoir. That’s similar right?”

He laughed.

“Not really. So you’re going to need help getting into the water. “

I nod.

He gives me a mini lesson on how to enter the ocean.

“The key is getting started is going in after the waves break. You have to stay straight. If you move too much to the side, the waves will knock you over. You have to hit the water head on. Once you pass the wave break, stay to the right. The water is calmer there and that wall over there is beautiful. When you get tired, go left so the current can pull you back. Got it?”

“Okay.”

“When I say, get in, I’ll give you a push and you have to paddle like crazy. How good of a paddler are you?”

“Decent.” If you count the rowing machine at the gym.

” When I say, start paddling. Toe to butt as strong as you can. Got it?”

“I got it.”

“You ready?”

Not at all. I CAN’T believe I am doing this. I’m thrilled and terrified all at the same time.

“I’m ready.”

Time for launch
Time for launch

“Good. I’ll send you out after this last wave. Okay now! Get in! Paddle! TOE TO BUTT!!!”

I paddle like my life depends on it. A swell hits and I paddle through it. Another swell, and I keep going. Finally I remember to go right and the water calms. I did it. I’m out in the ocean!

I literally shook for the first 10 minutes from excitement and fear. I have never been that far out from the shore. It was really unnerving yet AWESOME to be out in the sea. I head towards the wall. The guy was right; it’s a beautiful wall, with trees and several large caves in it.

I love caves!
I love caves!

I stay really close to the wall at first. Then I get bold and explore a bit. Then I get scared and rush back to my wall. Then I get a little bolder and go out a little farther. Then I rush back to my wall again. Then I swallow my fear and just start exploring. I spent the next hour and a half exploring caves, paddling around the sea and just enjoying my time with God.

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There was so much peace out in the sea. It was really beautiful. The sound of the water is soothing and calming. I knew I was safe. I had a life jacket, a paddle and if I got into any trouble I could just paddle away.  God had brought me here and I would be okay.  And if something did happen, I’d enter the gates of Heaven with a huge smile on my face because I would have died doing something I really loved.

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There was a lot of sea life around me, birds, fish mammals. There was a HUGE elephant seal chilling on the shore.

Meet Bill. Bill is not a rock.
Meet Bill. Bill is not a rock.

Something kept grabbing birds out of the the sky from the water off in the distance. I wanted to check it out but got the sense that it just wasn’t a good idea. Something swam underneath my kayak and it was the coolest feeling ever. The sun made the water sparkle and felt so good on my face and arms.  Every now and then I’d get a little bolder and want to go out really far.

It's not THAT far...
It’s not THAT far…

 

I listened to the Lord

“The farther out you go, the longer it will take you to get back.  You don’t want to do too much at once and burn out. This won’t be the last time.”

and let him guide me along the sea.

So much peace.
So much peace.

At one point, I looked around me and said:

“This is what Peter must have felt like, out on the water like this. This is amazing.”

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I could have stayed out there all day, but I got tired. Grateful that I listened and didn’t go out super far, I turned my boat to the left and let the current take me in. As I got closer to the shore, the current got stronger. I had to work to against the current and the waves to get to shore without tipping over. I dipped my hand in the water for a bit earlier on in my adventure while I was floating. That water was ice cold, my hair was straight and I had no desire of being tossed in the sea. I decided I needed some help.

“God, okay. You control the ocean and all, how about you bring about a nice wave and I just coast the rest of the way to shore? I’m tired.”

“Um no. This is good life lesson for you right now…”

“Oh come on, not now…”

“Alexis this is what you do. You get tired, give up too soon and you want me to do the work for you. That’s not how this works. You have to keep going, even when you are tired. You have  to work. You are so close to the shore in so many areas in your life right now, but you want to give in. You have to go strong all the way to the end. And when you need that push, that final push, I’ll be there. So start paddling, girl.”

I groaned and kept paddling. It was hard work. I started cramping but I kept going.  Finally my wave came and I got my huge push. I squealed with joy as I was shoved onto shore. Best ride ever.

I raised my paddle in triumph. “Woohoo! I made it!”

During my little victory dance, I forgot my kayak was still in the water and had to run back so the waves wouldn’t take it back out to sea. Once I retrieved my vessel, I flagged down the first person I saw and got a photo.

Happy girl.
Happy girl.

Awesome day.

God, I thank you for knowing your kid and what she needs. For speaking to me in a way that I understand. Through this trip, I got put to action what I’ve learned this year about conquering fear, and plowing on when my flesh says to stop. Man my flesh is loud; but You are getting louder.

I thank you for caring enough for me that you wake me up at midnight, 1 am, 2 am, sometimes 3am to talk, because you know I am not distracted.  You know I’ll just listen. I may not always appreciate it when it’s happening, but afterward I’m thankful for those moments.

I thank you for being super patient with me, even when I am at my most unlovable.  I thank you for teaching me about love and how to love.

I thank you for holding on tight, even when I push away.

I thank you for helping me take down my walls with others. It may be a slow process, but brick by brick, that wall is coming down.

I thank you for the journey you’ve taken me on this year.  I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for me.

Thank you for teaching me how to paddle. I’m ready to come to shore.