6.24.2014

Stop. Reflect.

We all have those milestone date markers in our life. 
Special dates: "It's been two years since ..."
Birthdays, deaths, anniversaries. 

Yesterday marked the beginning of a season of Milestone markers for me. This was the week last year that my life literally was shaken and changed. Over this past year my faith has been tested and strengthened, challenged, discouraged, broken, and redeemed. God has been so undeniable in so many moments. 

I keep getting the slightly increasing strong "suggestion" from others that I should be documenting this. "Have you been writing all of this down?" "You probably want to journal this so you can remember when you are struggling." 

I have documented some but honestly, with everything going on, I just did not have the energy or ability to focus on the task at hand. And I was acting like a stubborn booger - stomping my foot just a little. ;)

In some aspects, I think I wanted to ignore some of the struggle and pain. And MOVE on. Funny how God uses our reflection on experience and pain and turns it into purpose.

As this week begins. 

Now "it's time."

Not ironic at all that my tattoo on my left wrist states "Selah" meaning: "to stop and reflect" "pause; wait for the next chapter" .... "just hang." You get the point. 

I am headed into a season of many of those milestone "stop.reflect." moments. 

YESTERDAY, I found myself emotionally in a space of remembrance, grief and celebration. As these moments and milestones happen, I have the desire to share each reflection as it happens. Not only will we get to celebrate together, but see the redemption that has already come about as each one arises. 

MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2013

I felt a prompting to attend a prayer and healing room. For no known reason. I even remember filling out a "why are you here?" form. I simply wrote.. "I don't know, I just felt led." God knew. 

I would head into a time of awesome prayer and I would have a word of encouragement about standing up in my faith and becoming a warrior, and that I would be sharing with thousands of people. What? Me? No, thanks. Not my comfort zone. 

NEXT, someone would slip me a paper that says "Where the spirit of The Lord is, there is Freedom." 
This person had no idea that I sing that song over my home all of the time, claiming freedom for myself and strengthening my ability to own my identity in Christ. 

That night, I dreamed that I was with my community of women that I "do life" with on a regular basis. We were in apocalyptic-like times and were under attack by wolves, spiders, hunters, t-rex.. scary things. In the dream, I went out into the world during the day to seek safety for night time and places that we should try to get to in order to be safe. In part of the dream, I was with a friend in my car and she was driving (I was lying in the back seat). It was almost as if I was sick. We were stopped by a man and he told us that we would not be free to exit the area until January 13th. My response was that could not be possible because I had to work the weekend of July 27th. At the very end of the dream a giant spider came up and stung the bottom of my left foot. And then I woke up.

Knowing that dreaming about dates is important, I made sure to note this and keep an eye out. There were also some specific details, such as looking at my friend and telling her that she was pregnant and going to have a boy. 
SPOILER ALERT: that happened.

I look forward to continuing the process of seeing more in depth revelation as each milestone passes in the season ahead.  




4.12.2014

Speak up!

In this journey of the #LoveWins being the Victory that we are choosing to claim, I have had this in my pocket for well over a couple of months. I was going to composite all of these ideas into one blog. Alas, here we are and when was the last time I posted? haha. Great intentions, right? 

So,I have decided to just post as things  pop on my heart. Forgive me, this may be a bit discombobulated, BUT I guess the walk of life is as such. Why would sharing it be so different? 

Do we know how to Love Fully?




I have been really trying to understand the fullness of Love and what it means. When the bible shares of what God intends love to look like it is so Rich. Full. & Deep. What we all ultimately long for; right?  So, when have we become so overcome with fear that we don't love or trust love fully? And why are we not SHARING it? 

As a Christian, we are told to share the good news. Why do we get scared of sharing good news? For me, its fear of what the world has often misrepresented this good news to be. But my experience of that is not the perspective I may have interpreted in my formative years. To a lot, 'the good news' brings pain, rejection, judgment, and fear. Who would want that? 

This is a picture of my precious  friend Jessica that her husband shared a sweet note just how much he loves her. What an example of GREAT LOVE!

I heard this song last night. "Read All About it". I have no idea what it is written about. But, to me it is saying Come on! We all have a story that delivers redemption, peace, acceptance, love, grace, mercy, growth, fulfillment, justice, forgiveness, and joy! WHY are you not sharing. 

Read All About it (link to full song and lyrics)

You've got the words to change a nation
but you're biting your tongue
You've spent a life time stuck in silence
afraid you'll say something wrong
If no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song

So come on, come on
Come on, come on
You've got a heart as loud as lions
So why let your voice be tamed
Maybe we're a little different
there's no need to be ashamed
You've got the light to fight the shadows
so stop hiding it away

Come on, Come on
I wanna sing, I wanna shout
I wanna scream till
the words dry out
so put it in all of the papers,
I'm not afraid
they can read all about it
read all about it oh

oh-oh-oh.......Yeah we're all wonderful, wonderful people
so when did we all get so fearful?
Now we're finally finding our voices
so take a chance, come help me sing this
Yeah we're all wonderful, wonderful people
so when did we all get so fearful?
and now we're finally finding our voices
just take a chance, come help me sing this

Why are we so afraid?

I know that when I was not fully walking with God, it was not the Do's and Don'ts that brought me back around to wanting to know more about this story of redemption. It was the people that just told me that I was seen, loved, and accepted

JUST. AS. I. WAS. 
My cutie-pie niece 

I say was, because this does not mean that I stayed that way. As we all do, I think; I wanted to grow, mature and change. For me, my relationship with God did this. It was not what people told me I should and shouldn't be doing. It was coming to know the character of what walking out forgiveness, love and acceptance looks like. THAT led me to want to be a better person from the inside out. 

Transformation doesn't come easy, it is hard and ugly, and humbling. That is why my desire has been for it to be as lasting as possible. Just doing good things, wasn't enough. Getting to a place of peace and surrender with the journey we are on is a daily walk. But, first and foremost we must remember that there is a God that sees us as pure and blameless. (Phillipeans 2:15)

It breaks my heart that sometimes we get so focused on the No's, Do's, and Don'ts that we forget the message. #LOVEWINS Why do we not remember that Mercy triumphs over judgement? 

 "For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." 
James 2:13

We continue to judge ourselves and others, instead of allow Love to soak in.  


But, first we must seek to understand the fullness of love and let it permeate our being. That is the journey I am on. 

"Seek First To Understand, Then to be Understood"
Proverbs 4:7


How about you?

Here are a few people I just love to pieces and moments I felt really loved.. just because... pictures are fun to share: 











If someone came to you and shared that you were wonderful just the way you are and they delight in ALL of you. wouldn't you want to RUN TOWARDS it and share it with the world?

2.17.2014

All You Need is LOVE

video
Hey friends. I'm a little late. But I was reflecting on Valentine's day and how it can be a sore subject or a delightful subject, depending on who you talk to. 

Not having a "valentine", per say, this year. 
A lot of reflecting time on my hands. :) 
I thought about this a lot.  

I know for me leading up to, I was dreading, and grieving love lost or potential for love etc. And not just romantic love. It just makes you reflect. Thank you, Hallmark. 

So, I went to my own personal source of direction and perspective, God.  One of my readings for that day was: 


"LOVE one another deeply, from the heart." 
1 Peter  1:22

I started thinking about it and thought of all of the proof of this deep love I had seen reflected around me over the past 8 months, especially. I was either receiving it or witnessing it.  I collected some pictures together and put together this slideshow. (above)

I saw that much of this deep LOVE was represented in so many ways:


  • Serving one another
  • Laughter together 
  • Giving to someone
  • Receiving from someone
  • Making something
  • Grieving together
  • Being Silly
  • Sitting with one another
  • Praying with each other
  • Encouraging one another
  • Dancing together
  • Traveling together
  • Eating with someone
  • Teaching one another
  • Witnessing forgiveness and restoration in relationships
  • Celebrating with others
  • Singing with one another
  • Learning some tough growing lessons together


All of these representations had commonalities that you cannot deny:
Other people, a level of vulnerability, humility towards others.

I can say that its worth it. If we could grasp that this is how we are meant to live out our lives and callings, fulfillment would be ever present in so many lives that feel empty. 

If you have not experienced deep love like this, I would challenge you to take a small step towards it at whatever level is the "next step" for you.

I may be misunderstood, hurt, or scared at times. But, for just a small glimpse of deep love I have been able to witness or experience myself; I would not change it for the world.  

Personally, I am so very very very grateful for each one of you that is in my life. I am so blessed BEYOND MEASURE with relationships. I can't believe it. love you all so very much, and WHO YOU are! just the way you are!! I learn and receive  so much every day.  :) 

It's worth it.
Put yourself out there. 
YOU are Deeply loved & worth it. 



1.21.2014

Word. It's 2014 PEOPLE!

Last week I posted about how my "word" for 2013 played out. 
At the end of 2013, I asked many of you to send me your ONE WORD for 2014. I have put together a little clip of what everyone is claiming. 

How is it playing out for you so far? 

To recap from my last post, its was awesome to see what my expectation was for the year 2013 and how "BOLD" played out. It certainly wasn't in the Pretty little box, I was expecting. 

WHY was I expecting that? 
I have no idea. Apparently 32 years of nothing really showing up how I envisioned it didn't quite reach me yet. That DOES NOT mean that I have always been disappointed, by any means. :) Some of you have the same word, and I am EXCITED to see how it may unfold in different ways for you.

Someone once said to me
 "Turn your expectations into expectancy
Lemme tell you, I think I'M.GETTING.IT… finally. MAYBE. 
I know that I am standing on "FREEDOM" for 2014, but how that looks, my expectations are clearly expectancy for how God is going to work in and through me, as much as I get out of the way and allow it. 




There are two special people that sent me videos of the process of how they their word and one even chose THREE. ;) So, I couldn't cut them down. Carolyn and NeeNee, you get your very own upload. ;) 
                                                        
                                                       

Carolyn's word is "INTIMACY



NeeNee's Words are "PRESENT, CHERISH, & RELATIONSHIP"



SO, If you have not reflected on a word, what is yours? How has it played out, so far? if at all. What are your Hopes for it? And what are you open to through it? 

MY Word is FREEDOM:
Played out Already: Through this journey of Cancer I have had the FREEDOM to reconnect in relationships in TN, family and friends
Attend My younger sister's wedding in VA
Reconnect with High School Friends
Attend the Passion Conference in ATL
Spend awesome connecting time with my sister Betsey
I will get to see my Nana for her birthday this week, for the first time in years
The "freedom" to miss my community in Texas like something awful! I am seriously realizing what. a. gift. it is to have  people that truly KNOW you, love and support you, no matter what. And to know that you feel the SAME about them. :) 

While this Freedom is uncomfortable, unknown, and not what I am familiar with always; Like 2013, My expectancy for how this word will manifest is READY! I mean, look at the first couple of weeks already. 

My HOPES for 2014:
NO REGRETS
CANCER FREE
I want to SKIP
HIKE
WORKOUT
DRIVE 
OH, good ROAD TRIPS, please. 
LAUGHTER
To be FREE for God to be undeniable in my life.
Continued Healing, Growth, and restoration in relationships
VULNERABILITY

I could certainly keep making a list of my hopes.. But, all in all, I am just EXCITED for what is ahead. The realization that I am not in control of anything around me expect for my choices to live, respond, and grow through it, has really removed the pressure and created a sense of wonderment for what could possibly be ahead!

He is doing a NEW thing in all of us.

Are YOU ready?

1.09.2014

Word.

Mandi's sweet baby girls, My mom and Step-dad taking the time to hang with me in Texas. What a gift. 

A photo that Mandi took for her AWESOME Blog.

Just some silly girls taking pics with me when we all gathered for a day of sisterhood and laughs in my tiny lil room. :)

Working for Discovery! Austin in May of 2013. 
Many of my church family, Nina, Karin, Melissa, Holly and John taking BOLD steps to focus on healing. Its amazing how available we can be in others' lives once we have taken the courageous steps to work on our own.

Everyone is talking about their word or phrase for the next year. To me, it always feels like this commitment or claim over the year ahead. It feels like I’m setting an expectation and putting it in a box. So, this 2014, I decided to see how last year’s word played out. Let me tell you, it has been a doozy. BUT, looking at the meaning and the manifestation of it around me, has allowed me to see that what you take a simple word for at face value is only a smidgen of how  it can be revealed and seen around you. There is so much POWER in our words.  I have included pictures from 2013 and I wrote where I see the word bold being present. :) I used the synonyms etc in the captions to show from my perspective, what showed up for me, personally.

First, let me define Bold:
Of a person, action, or idea: showing an ability to take risks; confident & courageous
Synonyms: DARING, intrepid, brave, courageous, valiant, fearless, dauntless, audacious, daredevil
Antonyms: timid, unadventurous 
Of person or manner: 
so confident as to suggest a lack of shame or modesty. Impudent, insolent, impertinent, brazen, brash, disrespectful, presumptuous, forward
Of color or design; having a strong vivid appearance.
synonyms: striking, vivd, bright, strong, eye-catching, prominent, impactful;
Antonyms: pale
Type face having dark, heavy strokes, used esp. for emphasis
synonyms: heavy, thick, pronounced, conspicuous
antonyms: light

Because of the journey five years prior to this, I thought that this was my season of boldness in relation to going through a rough marriage and a divorce. Sort of coming into my own and being “Brooke”; unapologetically. And while that was part of it; I didn’t not even know how much more that would show up through the year. I’ve learned its not just YOU, its what you see demonstrated in others around you. when you read the word bold, you don't think of it being present among relationship lost, brain surgery, cancer diagnosis, treatment, job change, inability to drive, and loss of pretty much all independence as a 32 year old woman. Bold feels like a far cry.

LEFT: Sweet Sheere  being VALIANT and running a race in honor of a friend with cancer.  BELOW: wonderful Nicole and Sheere showing up at my house when I started to lose my hair. They were wearing shirts saying "you are not your hair; neither am I" Talk about Striking and Bold! Nicole was a few weeks away from getting married.                                         
Going to Concerts & places downtown; for me, I did not do this much from 2009-2012, living in Austin. Many of the Community around me during this season encouraged me to go out, etc.. I learned a lot from them.. especially about going to experience the city of Austin as a mature adult and not a silly college kid. :)

Above: I saw a boldness in Monique that demonstrated confidence and personality that gave me permission to not try to be anyone other than me to "fit" into where I may think I was supposed to be. Left: Melissa, Natalie, and Jamie demonstrate a daring and adventurous spirit to me in a myriad of ways. Melissa, has a steady peace about living entirely on faith in where she feels God is calling her to be. I have seen her struggle with 'shoulds' and expectations, but not shy away from pulling away to seek spiritual wisdom, discernment, and direction and standing steady with the answers. Natalie, has stepped up over the year and moved to  Austin, pursued work that she is passionate about, and surely being 'striking', 'vivid', and impactful in her pursuit to live fully and free. Her boldness and bravery has shown up in compassion, vulnerability, and even unsuccessful endeavors, BUT taking them as opportunities for growth. Jamie, her boldness has shown up in her generosity and support of those that are down. She is an encourager, supporter, advocate, vivid,  and impactful in all that she does. As much as her personality is bold and vivacious, I have seen  Jamie show up often as a someone that you may not even notice how much she is giving in her humility and willingness to just be present. Something I know will show up as a bedazzled jewel in her crown one day. ;) 

February of 2013 going out MadMen style to celebrate Monique's Birthday. I saw a group of women decide on a way to celebrate and execute.  The simplest of occasions, can be VIVID, Adventurous, shameless, and eye-catching. :) We made it an evening of petticoats, cute dresses, places like the Driskill, and fanciness.  It took an amount of boldness to dress up and just be what we wanted to be for the night. Yes, we got some looks, but it was fun, none-the-less. And I learned that It doesn't always matter what people think.



  




Left: May 2013 I  had recently bent to not take vacations, etc, because I know there are things I should be spending my money on. Monique and I had started a workout accountability and agreed that after a certain amount of time we would go to San Diego as a reward for our discipline. Here we are at the top of a sweet hiking spot in San Diego. And we also got to Hike Torrey Pines. This was risky for me financially, Bold (bc I HATE to fly) & Brave bc, I went without taking on others expectations, that I probably falsely perceived, of what I "should" be doing. Thankful to get to experience this, as it was just weeks before my seizure , when they found the tumor. Left: Here is some adventure at a local kareoke spot that Monique's uncle is basically the Godfather there.  We experienced lots of colorful "heart of the community" where he lives. I saw Monique take on her uncles "family" with excitement and openness. To me vulnerability is one of the boldest things we can do.

 This was a lunch celebrating Annabelle's Birthday, I think… I can't remember, but we were getting together for celebration. Let me tell you how Cheryl and Annabelle have GREATLY demonstrated boldness to me. When I first met Annabelle, she was timid (antonym of bold) to take actions towards where she felt strong guidance to do so. Over three years time this girl has taken such great leaps of Faith in Action, she challenges all around her to "just do it"; so to speak. And i have seen the fruit from her obedience. Annabelle is also one of the beauties that shaved her head in support and solidarity during my journey of radiation.  Cheryl, always the go getter type, has been a steady  boundary setter and not settling for less than God's best for her. This is who I have around me people! Craziness! :)

LOOK AT THESE BEAUTIES!! :)
Lynn, Rachel, Kelly, Holly, Lisa, Annabelle, Sheere, Nicole, Yvette, Jamie, Natalie, & Monique

My precious roommate, Kimberly, not only has be GRACIOUS and wonderful through this journey of Brain Cancer. She also has been so willing to take life in faith by taking leaps boldly down a path to go back to school, start a  business with passion! With wisdom and trust in Gods direction, she is touching lives and inspiring others to live with passion, no matter what. I continue to watch the Lord show up in her life in ways that are a testimony of His faithfulness to us when we trust Him. It draws others to His nature and would not be seen if she did not choose it.  #makeadifference ;)

I had to opportunity to travel to Haiti in April of 2013. This was not something that I particularly felt excited about, I just knew I was supposed to go. I saw the team of others that had been before willing to step out to speak with others and walk the streets in Haiti with encouragement and willing to offer themselves up for prayer, support, or resources. Sometimes struggling with not being able to "fix" it for others; I have sometimes be timid to step into whatever I can offer without shame of not being able to solve the entire problem. With the consistency, dedication, and boldness, I saw my friends Mike, Nicole, Jess, Holly, Ben, Jim,  Joseph,  & Billy step into that so beautifully. It inspired me to be more willing to be confident offering what I had to offer. 

These Two: Nicole & Jess, first meeting them through Discovery!; Second, going with them to Haiti. Third, just getting to see them take steps to honor God fully with their relationship and grow. This picture, taken in August, was when Jess proposed to Nicole and set up a surprise celebration for all of use to be there afterward. These two walk with such willingness to serve, be vulnerable, compassionate, and encourage those around them. Two people I wouldn't mind being like when I grow up.  They were married this past December. 
Left: This is Jennifer, I met her at the Brain Power 5K. She then asked if she could follow my journey to raise awareness for Brain Cancer. She is not afraid to ask. That is something that I have grown through. Walking in fear afraid to ask, bc I was afraid to be rejected. I admire her boldness in seeing no harm in just asking. :)
These women above. have all shown me such boldness over the year. This particular night in September, we were celebrating Ames decision to not continue in unhealthy relational patterns. each of these women are all fierce and challenge me to be so brave. Megan, has shown such willingness to grow in her vulnerability. Danna,since I met her, has had a spirit that you just want to connect with. in that, there is a steadiness that takes confidence that I think women especially desire to exude. Christi, always demonstrates passion and powerfulness with everything that she does. But, in 2013, I have seen a quiet strength and openness arise in her that takes so much trust and willingness it has inspired me to do the same. Susannah, is another one of those that is not afraid to ask. I have witnessed and been challenged by her honesty, loyalty,  and committment to those in her life. It is a way that I think we don't value as a culture as much as we should. I feel like we are getting back around to that as a culture and I look forward to unapologetically being less of a people pleaser. 
This is just a tiny touch on the POWER of my church community. I moved to Austin in January of 2009. When I got connected into a small group, I met these sweet girls to the left. Here; 3 years later, we are celebrating the wedding of one of those precious women. Below is the small group that birthed out of the original one from 2009. It is wonderful to watch the story for His glory unfold through these small groups. we all have boldly been vulnerable, REAL, and support one another where we are at.  We have been meeting for over three years!
This large group picture is at our Pastors 50th Birthday party few months ago. Look at that huge community of people  that showed up to celebrate him. It clearly shows the love, bravery, and transparency it has taken to build this church community of 4,000 + people.  

I can't even touch on the amount of BRAVE, BOLD, VIBRANT people that I have witnessed in my life over the years and especially looking back over 2013. Here is a list of more pictures. Mandi, starting a blog that is is inspiring to to others, the celebration of Sara wedding through their boldness of being fully who God created them to be. Baptisms, 5k to raise money for Brain Cancer; Celebrating birthdays, nieces and nephews, Grand parents, college friends, High school Friends, Documentary viewings, & My family being vulnerable and bold in so sacrificially setting aside important things in their lives to be supportive and helpful. My coworkers and small group ladies showing up to help in any way. Lisa, using her gifts to organize SOOO much along the way, through this. the list continues on and on… 













What much of it boiled down to, for me, as I reflected is Much of the 
"BOLDNESS" that I witness and experience stems from vulnerability, asking questions, and trust in things beyond ourselves. Through all of this I have experienced and witnessed restoration in many relationships; Visions become realities, Dreams birthed, communities built, connections made, and many take action and make a difference in the lives around them. So when you feel like you may be being called to make a BOLD move. DO IT. you never know the trickle effect and joy that it may bring to those that witness.
KISSING 2013 GOODBYE
1- 2013 has been a hoot 2- looking over my shoulder, it looks like Victory is around the corner 3 - the future is so bright; I gotta wear my shades.  4  there is no reason, just silliness. ;)

I encourage you to take hold of a word or phrase for 2014 and watch how it unfolds.. in many ways that you probably wouldn't expect in your little box. to 2014 I say BRING IT ON! check back in for the words of  2014! in the next post.



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