personal growth

Girl, Go With God: An Open Letter To The Ladies Of RISE Minneapolis

rise sign .jpg

It’s a warm night in June as I write this. All the windows in my house are open. I’m watching an episode of Friends that I’ve seen at least 12 times. Friends episodes are like white noise to me. They signal rest.

This is the first week of summer for the boys and me.  The past three months have been a whirlwind of work and projects and shuffling children to and from activities. Rest was pushed to the backburner and now, as two and a half months of no work or school commitments loom, I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. Or maybe it’s that I don’t know what to START doing…

Such is the quandary of the enneagram three, otherwise known as “The Acheiver.” Resting is difficult for us, because the question we’re always asking ourselves is “Who am I apart from the work I do?”

For over 30 years, I’ve told myself the lie that my worth depends on what and how much I accomplish. The more public those accomplishments, the better. The past 15 months have been a journey of uncovering and unraveling that lie and its stronghold on my life. This blog was the catalyst that helped me find the truth.

Curious? Let’s journey back…

In March 2018, I read Rachel Hollis’s book, Girl, Wash Your Face. In April 2018, I attended her RISE Conference in Los Angeles. People have strong opinions about Rachel these days. I have my opinions too, but for now I will simply say this: Rachel’s book and conference changed my life in ways that few things ever have. Not because her words were so eloquent or her conference so moving but because God used those things to reveal areas of my life and my identity that I needed to surrender to HIM.

In the nine months post RISE Conference, I dove headfirst into blogging and social media and all the things required to become a writer and “social influencer.” At the end of those nine months, I was exhausted, anxious and nowhere near reaching the goals I had set earlier that year. In other words, I was losing my enneagram three mind. I was doing the work, and from what I observed, I was doing it just as well, if not better, than many other people…and it was getting me nowhere.

And so, the prevailing question of my life popped back up: WHO AM I APART FROM THE WORK I DO? WHO AM I WHEN I DON’T ACCOMPLISH THE THING I SET OUT TO ACCOMPLISH?

And now, we fast-forward…

After my nine months of hustling towards Internet fame, I took a break. I scaled back. I re-evaluated what was important to me and how I wanted to show up, both online and in life. I haven’t opened Girl, Wash Your Face since early 2018. Tonight, as I’m writing this post, with the windows open, the warm breeze blowing through my house and Friends playing in the background, I crack it open.

In the book, Rachel outlines 20 lies women tell themselves that keep them from pursuing their dreams. I flip to lie number 10: I should be further along by now.

A few pages in to the chapter, Rachel writes this:

“Every single moment is preparing you for the next. But whether or not you choose to see this time as something wonderful—the time when God is stretching you and growing you or maybe forging you in fires hotter than you think you can withstand—all of it is growing you for the person you’re becoming, for a future you can’t even imagine.”

Say what you want about Rachel Hollis, but those words are TRUTH.

This weekend, thousands of women will gather in Minneapolis for Rachel’s third-annual RISE conference. Many of my friends are there, and I am praying for the things they will learn and the ways their hearts and minds will change because of what they experience.

As I look back on my own journey since last year’s RISE conference, I clearly see how God grew me through the things I learned from reading Girl, Wash Your Face, attending RISE and launching this blog. I realize that despite my writing career not being as far along as I hoped it would be, every moment of the past 15 months has been worth it. Just as Rachel said, each thing I’ve done or chosen not to do, each time I felt scared and stretched out of my comfort zone, it was really just God beckoning me to trust Him and teaching me something about myself. In a way that only God can, He used Rachel’s lies to help me exorcize my own and grow me into the person I am today.

 And just who is that person? WHO AM I APART FROM WHAT I DO? I am a wife. A mother. A friend. A teacher. A mentor. A DAUGHTER OF THE KING. The latter title makes me more worthy than anything I could achieve on my own, and I don’t have to DO anything to achieve it.

 So, to everyone attending RISE Minneapolis this weekend, know this: No amount of washing your face or apologizing or hustling will make you any more valuable than you already are.

 Take the things you hear at RISE—many of which will be GOOD THINGS—and evaluate them in light of what you know to be true, in light of Scripture and in light of WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST. And as you leave RISE, feeling motivated to conquer the world, go and try to do just that.

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big and working hard; but remember that many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).

His purpose may look different for you than it does for the girl who sat next to you in Minneapolis; but that doesn’t make it—YOU--any less valuable.

God can use RISE to change your life, if you let Him. The things you do over the next few months or years post-RISE may alter the course of your future. Take Jesus along on the journey and I guarantee that wherever you end up, you’ll be exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Why It's Good to Grow Small

As I type this, there are two little boys pillow fighting in back of me. Occasionally, one screams, and I’m pretty sure another just went flying through the air ninja style in order to avoid a death blow from his brother.  When I think of life as a full-time writer and speaker—my dream career—this is not the scenario I picture. Then again, neither is taking a nearly two month hiatus from writing.

But that’s what I’ve just done…

There’s been almost two months of silence on here. We live in a world that values noise. She who speaks loudly and speaks often gets the most attention. Two months of silence gets you, well, more silence.

I didn’t write anything these past two months because I needed to be present in my current season of life: young (often sick) kids, a husband with a demanding career, and a busy teaching job of my own leave me with little time for passion projects right now. There are seasons to speak and teach and write and there are seasons to turn inwards and reflect and listen. There are seasons to push and pursue and do all the things, and there are seasons when simply showing up and taking care of your people each day are enough.

I’m learning to recognize the season I’m in and welcome rather than resist it. It’s all part of the process of life, not just of writing.

 I’ve noticed a pattern among women my age, especially those of us who engage on social media. We see other women working harder, doing something (we perceive as) better or getting more attention and we feel the need to do more and try harder ourselves. If SHE can “have it all,” why can’t we? This leads to another trend I’ve observed among women my age: BURN OUT.

We’re tired. We’re frazzled. We’re running ourselves ragged; and we’re over it. At the end of the day, we have nothing left to give but we can’t tell you what it is we’ve given everything to—or at least what we have to show for it.

Here’s a secret: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. 

Right before I had my oldest son, I read an article in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter on why women can’t have it all. Seven years later, the article still holds so much truth.

Slaughter was the first female director of policy planning at the State Department. In the article she states VERY matter-of-factly that women who have achieved high levels of success in their career and in motherhood are superhuman, rich or self-employed. She also dispels some “half-truths” that women tell themselves about success and work-life balance. These include misconceptions like: “It’s possible if you’re just committed enough” or “It’s possible if you marry the right person.”

March 2nd will mark one year since I committed to pursuing my dream of a full time writing and speaking career. In the last 12 months, I’ve given up TV and free time and sleep and social events and all manner of other things to pursue my dream. If we’re talking about commitment to dreams, I’m all in. As far as marriage is concerned, I married the exact right person. My husband is incredibly supportive of my writing endeavors. He’s never said “no” to me investing in myself. He ALWAYS agrees to stay with the boys when I need to get things done; and if he can’t do it, we have enough money to pay for babysitters.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the last year:

You cannot give 100% of yourself in every area of your life. Something will slip. You will burn out.  

This is where knowing yourself and the season you’re in is important. If you know who and what are important to you as well as what’s realistic for you to accomplish in the season of life that you’re in, then you’re more likely to say “no” to the wrong opportunities—the things that will stress you out and put a strain on other areas of your life--and “yes” to the right ones. You’re also less likely to guilt yourself over the things you’re not doing or the opportunities you’re passing up.

For those of us hard-charging, goal oriented enneagram threes and eights, let me say it this way:

There’s nothing wrong with growing slow and growing small.

 Success is never achieved overnight and success at the expense of your mental or physical health or relationships isn’t the type of success you want to achieve in the first place. Stop comparing your achievements to others and start pursuing your dreams on your own terms.

Here are five resources that have helped me grow at my own pace—both personally and professionally—over the past twelve months:

1.) Christy Wright’s Business Boutique- Whether you have one business idea or just lots of ideas and hobbies, this book will help you narrow your focus to figure out whether that dream you’ve always had is worth pursuing.

2.) Cultivate What Matters Intentional Goal Planner- You don’t have to have a career or a business or even a side hustle to get a lot out of this planner. The Cultivate What Matters Goal Planner is perfect for anyone who has a vision for what you want your life to look like in the next year and is (somewhat) motivated to stay on track to realizing that vision.

3.) Personal Capital Finance App- Admittedly, I don’t use this app as much as I should. However, my husband does and he is slowly turning me on to the awesomeness that is solid financial management and growing your bank account in a small, yet steady way.

4.) Day Designer Daily Planner- It is honestly the best daily planner I’ve ever had. The “Today’s Top Three” list helps me to focus on what’s most important that particular day, and the to-do list that sits side by side with the daily schedule helps me see where I can fit in various tasks throughout my day.

5.) Actionable Core Values Worksheet- Full disclosure: this is something I created. Knowing my core values—who I am, what I stand for and what’s important to me—has served as a basis for my decision making over the past year. Sign up for the email list below and get the core values guide sent straight to your inbox!