Every time we have completed a challenge, there seems to be a somewhat unpleasant phase that follows. This phenomenon has been no different for the Rise Up Commitment. What are the typical symptoms experienced during this phase?
The overarching symptom is an overall sense of feeling “off”. Off may be described as feeling tired, disconnected, tempted to withdraw, changing priorities and routine back to what was comfortable BEFORE, feeling “heavy”, bloated even – you know? “Off”… and uncomfortable. And it may include any combination of these individual symptoms as well as others not mentioned.
Why does this happen? I believe it has to do with being less intentionally focused, which leads to a sort of disconnect to God and our sensitivity to Holy Spirit. I too was feeling off. However, I felt it was because of a couple life events. First, I didn’t follow through on the intentional period of rest I knew I had been called to. This left me scrambling with how to fit other things in that I hadn’t planned for. Second, our 11 ½ year old, beloved black Lab, Zeppelin, was put to rest, and it left my heart and mind feeling heavy. His home going represented not only his leaving our home, a home in which he was the very fiber and fabric of, but also signified our teenage daughters leaving in just a couple short years, to live the lives they are called to. Can you say introspective much? That thought process spiraled quickly! Third, exhaustion set in like I haven’t experienced in a while. I’m still not sure if it is due to the day light savings time switch (Hello? Shouldn’t I be adapted after nearly three weeks?!) or my body rejecting the long distant running I have been trying to build up to for a half marathon in May.
I felt I had prepared for “post-commitment”, in order to dull the risk of the uncomfortable feeling. Daily devotions are just as natural as brushing my teeth now, so this area wouldn’t fall to the wayside. I had a plan in place for my nutrition for the next three months. I had a plan in place for my fitness. And I knew I was going to continue to spend more intentional time with my husband and daughters and others. As I write this, I begin to see the root. Heart connection to the Holy Spirit was already beginning to be dulled. That is what may cause many of us to feel “off”.
For me, I can see where my gaze quickly shifted from that of Jesus, and hence my uber sensitivity to His Spirit, now known as abiding in Him – according to my mind. I first began avoiding eye contact after not following through with His instruction to intentionally rest. Abide was also hindered when I began focusing on my broken heart, which snowballed to nervous anticipation about time left with my daughters. Regardless of where the exhaustion was coming from, it bothered me enough to provoke me to pray, assess and adjust to what I knew was best for this vessel.
Eat whole again, a commitment or challenge doesn’t have to be in place to eat well. Be ok with a change of plans when it comes to fitness. Get to bed on time (yes, that means some tasks will have to be left undone). Allow God to hold the tears of my sorrows, so I can let go. Trust Him to help me make the most of my daughters’ and I’s time together, rather than allowing sadness to damper when we ARE TOGETHER, TODAY. Ask forgiveness for disregarding instruction, and move on with what He’s asked. Continue moving forward, rather than looking back…
What about you? Are you feeling “off”? Be encouraged to spend some time reflecting, but be cautioned. When we feel like we “should know better” or become disappointed with how we’ve “let things go”, we have a tendency to avoid the very place we need to go most for conviction of heart, and wallow in condemnation, rather than run to the arms and throne room of the Lord. Sprint to Him the very next moment, or pile of moments, you find you have. Ask Him to reveal what is going on. Repent if need be. Ask Him to help you assess and adjust. Ask Him to show you the way to abide in Him, and stay there – day after day on this journey to becoming whole, not just during specifically intentional times. Be encouraged to be purposeful every day, for God, yourself and every single person you love and care for.
I pray this met you well, and if you found yourself feeling “off” the past couple of weeks, God has spoken to you in a tender and loving way. In His love for you and your love for HIM, I hope you allow Him to pick you up, dust you off, and get back in the vein of the vine.
Rising in Christ,
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I sat across the table from the hiring manager of what seemed like the perfect opportunity. It seemed as though God had been providing opportunity after opportunity to reflect His glory through art. A talent I had chosen to lay down five years prior, for the sake of my family.
Earlier in the year I was compelled to respond to a newspaper article in my community, related to highlighting the arts. The response inspired an in-person conversation with key folks in our community, which led to sharing my story as an artist over the past twenty years. The conversation inspired the request for me to share art for a first ever Chamber of Commerce exhibition in my community.
Initially, it didn’t seem to fit, but then it did. Time was arranged enough to allow the creation of several new pieces, while also tending the souls in my home, working, creating new devotional content, and continuing to support and encourage others. When opening exhibition day arrived, I was elated at the pieces God had inspired me to create: Jesus as the center piece, my daughters and marriage secondary and tertiary, my community fourth. The exhibit, along with pieces from twenty years before and in between, captured the evolution, or transformation of my heart and perspective over the years.
From this newly inspired art collection, followed the selection of one piece. The piece was chosen for the cover of a women’s magazine in a surrounding area. Again, I was elated at the opportunity to share my love for God and the fact that all my inspiration comes from Him! The passion spark for art that was flamed from both these events inspired the creation of this website, with a thought I might be one day providing creative services for others, in a new capacity. The intent of the site was to showcase creative capability and function as a portfolio of sorts.
And then some interesting events took shape…
On October 18th 2017, God shared the Rise Up Commitment idea with me (in my mind somewhat flippantly so), and I shared the same day (which I rarely ever do) with a gal I love very much. She pretty much said, “DO IT!”
October 20th 2017, Glo Magazine released the November copy featuring the chosen piece to newsstands. My heart was happy!
October 25th 2017 (seven days after the Lord planted the Rise Up Commitment seed), I discovered a job opportunity as a Graphic Designer. Following the inquiry and discussion with the hiring manager, an initial interview was set up.
October 26th 2017, I emailed about a space to host the Rise Up Commitment. I sensed God needed this commitment to be VERY different from challenges past. A very distinct curriculum was formulating, details of the flow and location. All coming together in a clear vision, but I needed to know it was from Him, rather than my over creative mind.
November 1st 2017, I had an interview with the hiring manager. He had sent me the details of the position and the expectations. Was it God’s hand? Everything I had taken upon myself to learn throughout the development and creation of this new ministry, was exactly what he was looking for. Had God been preparing me for THIS?
The punch came just as swift as the opportunity and interview had. My stomach felt hot, my heart began to race, I felt a bit woozy and my entire demeanor morphed three quarters of the way through the initial interview, from poised and confident, to not so much. I could tell the hiring manager picked up on the shift as well. In an instant, I realized that if I took on this position (which was seemingly a guarantee based on the way the conversation had gone to this point) all other areas, including my home, family and the ministry God had entrusted me with, may fall to the way side or I would burn out trying to make everything "work".
You see, I have a tendency to operate with tunnel vision when learning something new and trying to do my very best. I knew God didn’t want me operating in a tunnel for someone else’s vision with a talent I held dear to my heart. I knew He was calling me to operate out and about with the spiritual gifts He had been making known and blessing me with.
I left the meeting knowing THIS was not what God was preparing me for. The next day, the entire curriculum for the Rise Up Commitment was formulated and captured via Word. The space I had inquired about, was also approved for use throughout the ten week program (I'm told this is somewhat rare). God was confirming. Five days passed. I prayed. I spoke with my husband. On the fourth day I shared with my husband I believed if I pursued the opportunity, I knew it would only be self-serving. Yes, it was perfect for me. Yes, it would help me feel like my talent was being put to use. Yes, I might get a new office. Yes, I might get a new salary. Do you see the theme there? Me – I – myself. I knew it would fulfill a hope I had, but it would essentially cause me to lose or diminish focus on others and ultimately God’s heart.
I had been given a mission right here in my community. This new role, I believed, would not help but hinder this mission. All this I shared with the hiring manager who called me the fifth day to gauge where I was regarding the position and next steps. He had in fact noticed the shift in my body language. He also arrived at the same conclusion, but for different reasons, once I shared my heart. This opportunity was not for me, and it was confirmed.
And I have to say, praise God! He in fact provided everything needed, regardless of my concerns and insecurities regarding capabilities, for the Rise Up Commitment. He added sustenance and cohesiveness to the curriculum. He provided me with the ability to create everything needed before and during the commitment, when the support I once had was no longer there. He showed up week after week in the space He laid on my heart to pursue - for every gal participating. He transformed hearts and minds in a very short period of time, and created a Sisterhood. He brought clarity and certainty to my mind as a result of my participation in the commitment, as to what my spiritual gifts are, and how to serve others with them. He provided vision as to what is next. He continues to move.
Be encouraged today, wherever you are, to always seek God when standing at a crossroads. Seek HIM FIRST and all will be added to you. You may be a fairly new wife wondering how on earth you can nurture a marriage, when you might feel your needs/wants aren’t being met. Seek God. You may be a stay at home mom questioning how on earth you are going to love the children God has blessed you with, while also maintaining your personal identity and sanity. Seek God in the little moments and downtime. You may be a successful female professional or working mother wondering how you are going to do everything you are called to do or even how to figure out your calling, when there is never enough time for you. Seek God in the day to day tasks of life and consider praying for a way to rearrange the day for more deliberate time with Him. You may be a mamma whose not-so-little birds have left the nest way sooner than you ever thought possible, leaving you feeling a sorrow and sadness for days gone, but also yearning for a stirring in the heart to serve God in a new way. Seek God.
He will provide the vision for what is next. He will equip, empower and enable the vision to become reality in His time and way. He will provide support through others. He will, if we are willing to seek Him first and press in. Be encouraged to do both.
In Christ WE Rise,
There were no selfies. No video was taken to post to YouTube. There weren’t even blog posts to update the blog world and a handful of readers, what each week brought. No hashtags to tweet, follow or add.
It was perfect. Intimate. Personal. Powerful. And IN PERSON.
Twelve women, including myself, have an extremely difficult time putting into words exactly the experience we have had the past (almost) ten weeks. Part of me wanted to utilize the word encounter right there, rather than experience, because that is also what our time together became. We encountered one another. We encountered God. We experienced something so divine, words fail to appropriately and amply describe.
Yet we tried.
“The Holy Spirit was THICK tonight!!”, is how one described it.
Another expressed one of our gatherings as an, “AHH-MAZING Spirit filled night!!”
Rich, is the word I found myself using when attempting to describe it.
From the first night gathered, to the last, the Lord blessed us with His presence in amazing ways. And indeed, the atmosphere was plentiful, abundant, luxuriant, exuberant, and rich. His presence, and the fullness to which He made Himself uniquely known to each of us, certainly was astonishing, astounding, surprising and breathtaking! In my mind, I envision Heaven causing the same effect.
Many nights many of us would walk through the double doors bringing more luggage from the week than our backs or shoulders should have been able to bear. By the time we left, it was as if we’d spent eight ours at the spa with every pampering offering we could afford. Our cost? A willingness to arrive with an open mind, softened heart, readiness to pray, and adaptability to move as the Holy Spirit of the living God would lead.
Lead and move He did! On the night of our kick-off, He was seemingly able to alleviate many feelings of discomfort and awkwardness. He led us in a night of healing. He also brought to mind the importance of His Holy Spirit actively operating in our lives as the Bible describes – with no omissions. He compelled us to press in to becoming a truly peculiar people, and to be prepared for the persecution and praise that may result. He began to lay the foundation and magnify what VISION is, from His perspective. He then equipped us with the ability to build according to His vision. We sensed He was abiding with us this past Monday while we joyfully received communion together and humbled ourselves to wash feet.
Even in the resistance He was there. We had to cancel one evening, due to winter weather that made it unsafe for travel. He watched over His daughters and kept each of us safe. We had to cancel another evening, when flu hit me and tore through like a storm in our community. Again, He protected each of us, while compelling us to lift one another in prayer.
God established connection and community, while compelling us to draw closer to Him and others.
He changed lives. He provided clarity. He restored hope. He provided vision. He renewed. He provided contentment. He was with us.
He saw us where we were and met us there.
Now He is moving us.
We know He has only just begun. He’s calling for so much more. Yes, He increased our sensitivity to His Spirit as we incorporated devotions, whole foods, exercise, and focus on our relationships - the goal of the commitment. Yes, He oriented our lives towards Kingdom direction for 2018, another goal of the commitment. Yet, He is also calling us to RISE UP MORE.
More as Wives. More as Mothers. More in our homes. More in our places of professions.
More in our COMMUNITY.
Not only is He calling each of us to more, but we fully believe He is calling us to grow. In the days, weeks, and months to come, there will be opportunities for you to encounter God right where you are, as well as connect with the RISE UP movement, and become part of the Rise Up Community. We are praying for you already.
Please stay tuned. There’s much on the horizon, He’s only just begun…
The Rise Up Commitment is a ten week program designed to help women grow closer to, and increase awareness of, God. Participants read the same Scripture each day, eat whole foods, exercise, focus on relationships with family and others, and engage with a community of other like-minded women.
If you would like to learn more, please CLICK HERE - or - leave a comment for Shanon, below.