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“This my dear is bliss…”

*This is what came of my time with Jesus this morning. I pray you will be encouraged or at least feel inspired to steal away with Him before you rush off to your next thing.*

My husband always jokes that giving birth makes a woman more holy. (Is there scripture to back this up- I can’t remember?) I never found his statement amusing until today, because I did feel kind of holy.  🙂 After dropping him off at work this morning, it was my turn to do the school drop off with the kids. It was a typical morning, Nyomi had some diva demands that I just couldn’t seem to satisfy. Kaiden asked the same question a million different ways and I patiently answered it, even trying to use a different tone to keep things a little interesting.  After the drop off, I had planned to just go ahead into work and get started on some projects before my only meeting of the day.  That’s when I felt the beckoning of the Holy Spirit say to my heart, “come away with me…” My heart melted when I realized that Jesus wanted to spend some time alone with me before I rushed off. I love moments like this.

I said, “wait, let me grab my bible and journal from the house…” He replies, “no, you brought your laptop that’s all you need.”  Where should we go? I drive in silence for a few moments when I hear the word…”bliss…” Well, the only place I know with bliss in the name is Aroma’s. He even had the nerve to tell me the exact location, “downtown.”  #relationshipgoals  #comeonJesus 

So, here I am with my almond milk iced chai tea and vegan lemon donut with hibiscus glaze waiting for what’s to come. 

“Let’s get real,” He says. You have had some heartbreaking moments over the past year- losing a child, trying to raise a child who did not come from your body, trying to understand your strong-willed daughter, while also being a great wife and leader in your work and neighborhood. I’m so sorry that this pregnancy has been difficult- many sleepless nights, constant daily pain, medicines that you weren’t prepared to take, anemia. You have handled it well my daughter- I am very proud of you. No one can really see the depth of pain that you are enduring every day, but I appreciate that you have found moments of joy and gratitude during this time.  Thank you for being obedient to slow down when I asked you to. I know it was hard for you, your Dad is right, you are a woman on the move, a road-runner! Trust me, there will be a time when you get back to moving at that pace and even faster. I have not forgotten the glimpses of dreams that I have shown you through the years. Trust me, my timing is perfect.

Now, back to being real. I need you to continue on the track that you are on with tending to your heart. You have wounds from people that are close to you that have never healed. Partly because you keep letting them open up again. I am your ultimate healer and although you wish for a sincere apology and closure from the one who hurt you, you might never receive this from them. I apologize to you on their behalf. I am sorry that they hurt you and continue to try and hurt you. I am fully aware of their motives even before they attack. Daughter, I need you to be strong and courageous because your response to them is your weapon, your protection, your line of defense. I am not saying you will never be hurt again, but I have given you the tools that you need to not only survive the hits but THRIVE! You are no longer an “easy target”. You no longer have to live in their hurt.  Don’t change who you are because of how they are.  I need my Spirit to shine through you because there are people I have called you to. The way you live is going to help others come to me.  Daughter I see you as a flower constantly blooming in every season. Your soil is good, but you have to keep tilling the ground and cutting away what is dead. For far too long, weeds have tried to overrun your garden, but no more. I see in this year a woman who is stronger than ever, rising up in her rightful position. Change the narrative that you are telling yourself. Be in expectation of some sweet surprises this year with your family, your husband and your calling. I have not forgotten you. I know exactly what I’m doing and where I am taking you. Trust me! The next time that this person tries to hurt you, I want you to LOVE….love even when you feel uncomfortable or like they don’t deserve it. Love anyway, because you are not perfect. You also have your flaws. You too have hurt people whether you realize it or not. LOVE because you know it’s what I would do.  LOVE is what will change their hearts, and guess what, you still may never hear that apology. That is not why you’re doing this. You are loving because it pushes out fear and drives out darkness. There is much darkness surrounding them. So LOVE, everyday, every person and be on guard with your heart. Stop reliving your past in your head and focus more in the present and taking those next steps towards the glimpses I have shown you. I am creating a legacy of brave women that you will help to raise up. Will you join me in this? I want you to be a part of it because you are so unique. People don’t really know the depth of who you are, you don’t even know yet, but when you do, oh goodness daughter, it will be explosive!

Thank you for spending time with me this morning, thank you for being obedient. I love you and I love who you are and where you’re at in this season. Remember to take it easy, enjoy this pace, and enjoy being taken care of.  This my dear is bliss…

 

Brave and Free,

Candy Z.

 

Guest Post: Tamara McMillan 

Scars are such interesting things, and oftentimes the scars that we have tell a story…

I remember when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter…

I was using the restroom at my mom’s house when I suddenly began to feel dizzy. In hindsight, I see that I should have just sat there and waited until the dizziness passed. I could have even yelled my mom’s name to let her know that I was feeling dizzy. But instead, I decided that it was a better idea to get up by myself try and go lay down on the couch. On the way to the living room, I passed out and hit my head on my little sister’s doorframe. The scar that was left behind reminds of that day…

Sometimes, however, the scars that we carry are not as visible as the scar that I have on my forehead. Yet despite their inability to be seen by the naked eye, these scars can still tell a tale, or shift our minds back to a previous moment in time…

October is domestic violence awareness month….

As I’ve been reflecting on the emotions that are connected to that period in my life, I realize that, though I have physical scars on my body that serve as a reminder of the night that I was stabbed multiple times, it’s not my physical scars that remind me of the hell that I went through…

They say that hindsight is 20/20….

And I can clearly see that we were simply two unhealthy people, with unhealthy boundaries who were tied together by this by this unhealthy version of what we called…love….

Love…

What started off as something so exciting and new….

Became a compromise here and a compromise there….

I was compromising my peace of mind while clinging on to the unfulfilled promise of “it won’t happen again”

The wounds would heal and the physical pain would fade away…

But for a while the remnant of things spoken rode around on my train of thought…

And if I could have just done “this” and “that” differently, none of this would have happened…

Somehow I had triggered you and oftentimes I felt “trigger happy” because it seemed as if my mere existence triggered your anger and, at the very least, your hateful words…

What started off as something so exciting and new….

Became a compromise here and a compromise there…

Onlookers are generally quick to say “why don’t you just leave?” Yet they fail to realize that what started off as the whispering of “sweet nothings”…slowly shifted to screams that I “meant nothing” and you wanted “nothing” to do with me…

Yet like a dangling worm I had already been hooked and was tied to you by this unhealthy version of what he called love…

And I was clinging on to the unfulfilled promise of “it won’t happen again”…

I didn’t leave until I had reached my breaking point; once I had reached the point where I had broken free from the idea that things would be any different from the way that they were.

Once removed from the situation, I went to a domestic violence shelter and one of the residents told me something that really stuck with me. She told me “the way that he treated you was not okay”.

I eventually went to counseling and am very intentional about maintaining healthy boundaries in all of my relationships; but those nine words that she spoke to me, changed my entire perspective and ensured that I would never again enter into another abusive relationship…


Meet Tamara

I’m a pretty deep thinker and also very random. I am a storyteller and I love to draw you in so that you feel like you actually experienced it. Sometimes I rehash things from a comedic point of view, but I also like to give you a deep truth to meditate on. I am very passionate about making sure that people understand that they are loved and know their worth; I really dislike seeing people being mistreated or treated unfairly. I also strongly dislike when people are viewed solely through the lens of a label or stereotype. I am a lover of Jesus, people, random adventures, and laughter.

You can find more of Tamara’s work on her blog LadyTButterfly!

What happens when we run towards the danger.

Last night I had the opportunity to hear from national best selling author Donald Miller at the Hope Center for Kids gala. His presentation was a God-wink from Heaven. The term God-wink became popular in 2002 thanks to a book called, “When God Winks.” It is basically what some people would call a coincidence or a moment of certainty.  I knew this was a God-wink because what he was sharing helped me tie together the story I had planned to share on Brave Avenue today.

Donald Miller spoke eloquently on how we have the choice to wake up everyday and write the story that we want to live. He likened our lives to the process of writing a movie. Movie writing is basically a recycled story-line that can be told with four different perspectives.

  1. Victim- this character does not change or evolve, their part is very small and not memorable.
  2. Villain- villains are characters who do not process their pain and as a result they are constantly seeking revenge on the people who hurt them.
  3. Hero- this character is usually broken, filled with self-doubt, and not sure if they can get the job done. They also learn from their pain.
  4. Guide -this is the most important role! This character has already won the challenge and their mission is to help others transition from victim to hero to guide.

As I reflected on Donald’s talk, I thought of my kids favorite character from the movie, “Home.” It is a little alien named OH.  In the movie you get to see how OH was taught to not care for others and to run away from danger. Essentially, he lives like a victim until he meets a brave little girl named, Gratuity Tucci. I have watched this movie a trillion times yet I always cry when OH has an ‘ah ha’ moment about his life and chooses to do something that instantly changes his story.

…..he runs towards the danger.

When you choose to run towards danger (emotional pain, tragedy, uncomfortable situations, etc., you are showing your willingness to confront pain or situations head on. This takes a great deal of risk, but the good waiting on the other side of the pain is worth defending the process. When you look back months, weeks, even years you will see that the pressure from enduring the process was so small in comparison to what you actually received. This is something God continues to show me through the healing process of my miscarriage. I am in awe to still be learning so much from the experience months later. God knew losing my baby would hurt me, but He has been so faithful to me in the process as I intentionally run towards the danger (pain). I know that as I continue running, I will be able to help other women who endure the same pain.

As we go into the last quarter of this year, I encourage you think about the story you are writing for your life. Do you want people to know you as a victim or someone who sees the setup for their pain as a way to help others rise up?  I am choosing to be a guide in my story!

What story are you writing for your life today-are you the victim, the villain, hero or the guide?

 

What if we were real?

We all love to share stories of our good news. We tweet, snapchat, and update our statuses with good news everyday. This is especially true for pregnancy announcements. We search on Pinterest for the best way to share the good news- Prego bottles, ultrasound pics, family photo (that’s what I did). On the flip side, bad news is not always easy or fun to share. I didn’t search Pinterest to figure out the best DIY craft to announce our miscarriage. In fact, I was too ashamed to go back and tell everyone after posting our good news. But, what if we were real?

I remember lying on the exam table waiting expectantly while the ultrasound tech prepared to show us our next little Zollicoffer. I was so excited to have another baby and it appeared to be the perfect timing. We decided after our daughter was born that waiting two years would be ideal for our next child. My husband and I watched the screen as the tech moved the tool all over my growing belly. “Let’s try another way.” She prepared the other option to view our baby and then silence….”I’m sorry but I think you may have miscarried.” My heart sank. I didn’t prepare to hear bad news. Her words remained with me for the next four days after I was told to come back the following week to check again, maybe it was too early to tell. Needless to say that was the longest week of my life. The firefighter term ” hurry up and wait” fit perfectly with what I was experiencing.

Have you ever been excited about something and then told you have to wait for it? It’s like when your friend tells you, “Ooo remind me to tell you something later.” You’re just left thinking, okay why did you even bring it up?? [GUILTY]

The next four days were difficult. I cried a lot but remained hopeful that everything was okay. When I woke up the day before our scheduled appointment, I immediately noticed that I wasn’t nauseous and the sharp cramping was no longer there. At that moment, I knew that Baby Zollicoffer would not be joining us in December. I heard the Lord whisper “restore” and that was it. I woke up my husband and cried the rest of the day.

We often tell God what we’re going to do with our lives. We create our vision boards, and write our goals for the year, which are all good things and have their purpose. In our planning, I believe we forget that the process to obtain what we desire is not always as easy and exciting as it looks in the picture or the words we write down. Yet, the wonderful thing about process is that God prepares us for it. Oftentimes we don’t recognize His preparation until after it happens. On May 23rd, my doctor told us that we officially miscarried. On the same day, a former mentor shared a Facebook memory about her first child who was born on May 23rd. She had an eptopic pregnancy. This year her son would have been in the 6th grade! To date, she’s had eight pregnancies total with three of those children still living. I gained so much hope and strength from her story as I endured 11 hours of intense labor pains to deliver my baby at home.

I am no expert when it comes to loss but I have learned a few things with this experience that I hope will encourage you.

1. Lean into the pain.

“Pain is a growth opportunity. Lean into pain, that’s where bravery lies.” Navy Seal Denver Rourke.

At LeaderCast 2015 Denver shared the inspiring story of his wife delivering their baby. She wanted to delivery naturally without pain medication. As you can imagine this was very painful, but it’s what she wanted. In order to see that precious baby she had to lean into the pain.  We often set up our lives to avoid pain, but pain is absolutely necessary for growth.
2. Seek out support. 

“I am on your team, be on mine.” Emily Lanphier, Lanphiers Remember

We have to remember that women are powerful when we come together. We need each other . When I started sharing with other women, I discovered that so many women in my circle had experienced loss during their pregnancies and wanted to support me. It helped a great deal to know that I wasn’t alone in this. I had a team.

3. Let go and embrace hope. The word “quah” is Hebrew for hope and means “To look eagerly for, to lie in wait for.” Oftentimes when disappointment shows up, my first response is to figure out why it happened. Sometimes God’s answers come swiftly, and other times I’m wondering did He even hear me. Trust me-He hears us and in time He will reveal what we need to know. In order to embrace hope we have to eagerly apply patience.

4. Choose JOY! Laughter was sooo good for me this week! It allowed me to be present and reminded me that God is present with me. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says “So be truly glad.[a] There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

So, what if we were real?? What if we stopped hiding our pain and invited each other in?  We truly have nothing to lose and so much to gain when we let go. Where do you need to release the power of shame in your life? Find someone you can connect with this week. I believe our stories of brokenness will be used just as powerfully as our stories of joy.

Just Do Something

Just read something.

The voice echoed in my head as I rolled over in bed, contemplating what or IF I should read my Bible that morning. Why had this grown to be my morning routine? After weeks of busy, non stop days from early morning to almost midnight most days, my body, mind, and heart was growing accustomed to shutting down and going on autopilot. This day was different however. As I lay there and told God my reasons why I couldn’t grab the Bible right next to me and read. Eventually, he won with that simple “read something”-anything really, just read. Something is better than nothing he seemed to whisper.

Something is better than nothing.

Often we seem to lack the motivation not because we don’t want to do the thing, but because we want to do it well and end up not starting at all out of fear that it won’t go perfectly as planned. For me, that can manifest in several ways: a homework assignment, a tough conversation, or getting up and doing the thing I desired and determined to do just the day before.

With my theme of choosing the Hard Way this year, I’ve realized that in order to get the most out of life and to GIVE the most to my future self, I just have to do something no matter how imperfect or lackluster I think it may be. I have to be able to take a risk in order for any real change to occur.

Indecision is a decision not to decide.

It is still a choice when you choose “not to choose”. There is still risk involved, and it is the risk of not knowing what would have happened had you actually made a real decision. Either way you risk.

That’s kinda what this is all about. That word none of us like but all of us will encounter at some point in our journey. RISK. Which is greater? The risk of making the wrong decision, or the risk of making no decision at all?

When I finally made the decision to just read something that morning, I was blessed and encouraged, something that would not have happened had I chosen to get a few more minutes of sleep. It wasn’t a perfect devotional and journal and prayer time, or even super in depth. It was simple and sweet, and just what I needed. While it wasn’t much of a risk, it was the first step-among many-on the journey to conquering fear. One small victory over indecision, one more step towards a braver me.

Ending the FOMO

I’ve had several opportunities to be brave in my life. We all have, haven’t we? Speaking your mind, taking chances, and even talking to a stranger can be exercises in bravery. Recently, my biggest opportunity to be brave involved my post-graduation plans. After studying abroad and interning in New York within a year, all I wanted to be was home. New York was stressful and scary and hectic—and it terrified me. I wanted to spend time with friends and family, and be in a cozy little apartment where I had full control of my life and my environment.

After a summer off, my priority was finding a job. Unfortunately, opportunities seemed plentiful in the place from which I had come RUNNING back to Texas at the end of my internship—New York City. I decided to do one of the things that scared me most and move back. I had some contacts and went in hopes of getting a job within a month or so. The interviews were intimidating. Walking into the corporate offices of companies like Ralph Lauren and Estee Lauder was unnerving to me, but I went anyway. Believe it or not, I was even making my peace with the city. Six weeks and a dozen interviews later, nothing was working out.

Frustrated with the NYC job market, I began to toy with searching in Dallas. Going home might seem like a no-brainer, but I worried what people would think. I didn’t want to be that girl who went to New York with a big dream only to give up. I was embarrassed. I was also afraid of missing an opportunity. In millennial terms, the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was real.

The flaw in my thought process? FOMO is irrational. No matter where we are, we’re always “missing out” on something else. We can’t be everywhere at once, and that’s okay. It was time to let it go and be honest with myself about my real goal: to find a job. As soon as I deemed FOMO for what it is—(silly)—God opened a door. Within a week of applying for jobs in Texas, I got something.

Stop being crippled by the fear of missing out. Fear-based mentalities won’t help you achieve your goals. (Tweet it!) Instead, channel bravery in your everyday life. You will find the possibilities are endless!”

You can follow Rachel’s adventures

If you would like to share a brave story along your journey, fill out a contact form here!

When the Hard Way Gets Hard

“I was wrong.

I was weak.

I am sorry.

I chose what was comfortable instead of the Hard Way this time.”

This year, the theme that I chose is “The Hard Way.” After reading a book on entitlement and experiencing a hard year in 2015, I knew that living the hard way now would set me up for greater success in my future and a way to live easier in the long run. Creating disciplines and habits now would be hard, but this had the potential to set me up for the rest of my life.

Like any new endeavor, it started off well, and though it was hard, it seemed that it would pay off because I had that vision of the long term in mind. Fast forward a couple months and a week with little sleep and I thought it could get easier soon. However, after a few more weeks with lack of sleep, I started to fade, and the desire to seek comfort grew.

As a result, I chose the easy way, I dumped responsibilities that were mine onto a friend and made her stressed and confused in the process. I chose to have the attitude of entitlement, that for some reason, because I had a “busy schedule” or “lack of sleep,” I had an excuse to not handle my fair share of the responsibility. Anti-entitlement (choosing the hard way) thinks of others first, and understands how personal actions impact other people. (Tweet that!)

By me not choosing the hard way, I made it harder for other people.

My lawyer neighbor while I was growing up had this saying on his wall and every time we would go into his office we would read: “Poor planning on your part, does not constitute for an emergency on my part.”

Yet so often, as entitled people, we think the opposite is true. We say, “Because I didn’t plan well, you will do the work for me.” We push our own responsibilities onto others.

After realizing the hurt and stress I had caused my friend, I knew what I needed to do.

Sometimes bravery is admitting we were in the wrong, exposing our vulnerabilities or weaknesses and asking for forgiveness from those we hurt. I had not chosen bravery. I had chosen comfort and what I thought seemed to be easiest at the time, yet it ended up wounding the relationship with my friend, causing the need for some repairs.

Thankfully, she forgave as soon as I apologized, and we are on good terms, but I can’t help but think what it could have been had I chosen the Hard Way to begin with.

It’s YOUR turn!
When did you choose comfort over “the hard way”?

How have your actions of entitlement affected other people?

Is there someone in your life that you need to make amends with today?

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser

In a previous post I talked about how 2016 will be the year of “This is Me”. My hope is to finally see myself the way God sees me and unashamedly live my life out loud. My turning point came after being pressed to look back at one of the most uncertain times of my life: My parents’ divorce when I was 10 years old.

The divorce shook my world. When you come out of a divorce as complex and volatile as my parents’, it’s natural to find ways to cope. In the aftermath, I felt it was my job to keep everyone happy.  I used to work hard to please both of my parents. When I couldn’t, I focused on pleasing one. Approval seeking became a way of life. If I didn’t get it from one place, I somehow sought it from another.

I had become a people pleaser.

I had become a people pleaser. It was the only way I knew how to navigate in a world that had become unrecognizable. People pleasers have a way of living in the open yet remain hidden at the same time. I never wanted to let others down and tended to hide my true feelings to keep the peace. It was a deep-rooted mentality that subconsciously ruled my life.

For a long time, I’ve sought the approval of certain individuals despite my desire to seek only Gods’. Now I can see the many times I’ve said ‘yes’ when I should have said ‘no’ out of fear of disappointing others or being perceived as uncaring. I know that I am capable of incredible things yet I have doubted my ability to be successful at them.  I’ve feared that I won’t live up to the vision that God has given me.

people pleasing quote

It’s difficult to break out of a mindset you’ve lived out of for decades. Despite the sense of familiarity and safety in it, I decided to make a choice and allow God to challenge my thinking. To search my heart and reveal what has held me back from truly living out loud.

I’ve never felt freer than I do today. I value myself and choose to no longer play down my gifts. I understand now that my ‘no’ is just as powerful as my ‘yes”. I recognize what has been within me: bravery. I want to shout from a mountaintop “I get it now”! As a recovering people-pleaser, I invite you to break away from the approval seeking that comes from self-doubt. Allow God to bring truth and balance to your world. When you set your heart on what pleases God, everybody wins including you.

“I’m not good enough.”

“I don’t think I can do this.”

These thoughts have often run through my mind when I come across a new opportunity. I see something that aligns with the desires of my heart and often instead of running towards it, I turn the other way.

On my journey to pursue trust, I have to consciously choose to follow through on the opportunities that scare me. This has opened my eyes to some insecurities that have chipped away at my confidence for years. The biggest insecurity is the idea that I am not good enough. This lie has created a pattern that causes me to take myself out of the game before it even starts. I remember the first time I did this. I was encouraged to join the track team in 9th grade. I was a quick runner but had never raced anyone other than street races against my cousins and siblings. The school’s first race day arrived and I was ready! My team was cheering me on as I ran and I just knew I was going to win. Sadly, I finished the race in last place.  I was devastated, embarrassed, and felt like a failure as I thought,  “You are not good enough to be on this team.” On the ride back home I decided that was the end of my track “career.” Nineteen years later this idea of not being good enough still makes me want to quit. That was how I felt after returning home from worship practice last week.

I told my husband “I’m going to quit, this is too hard.” As soon as I said it, something shifted. This time saying it out loud not only sounded lame but it immediately felt lame. To quit now meant that I was saying yes to LAME– Living a Mediocre Experience. I couldn’t do it! If I am to continue my pursuit of trusting God, that means saying yes to BRAVE- Be Resilient and Value Experience.

“Experience is a grindstone; and it is lucky for us, if we can get brightened by it, and not ground.” Josh Billings

Your experiences are not always fun, but they are valuable because they help to maximize your potential and inspires others to live more brave. Today and everyday I will keep saying yes to BRAVE. 

Your turn. How can you avoid being LAME and say yes to BRAVE?

1. Think about your last bad experience how can it lead you to phenomenal success?

2. Ask someone that you trust to share areas where they see you being LAME. Trust me-people can see it and those that love you will call you out.

3. Celebrate! When you’re afraid, it’s a sign to let you know this opportunity is going to produce a powerful outcome.

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