Thursday, May 25, 2017


This evening was a huge, life changing event in your life. An event that I never dreamed I'd miss, however I did not attend primarily out of respect for your special night. I will say on here, though, how proud I am of you. I started this journey with you and could not have been prouder that we would share the title of fellow alum. Watching the live stream of the 2017 Commencement exercises brought back where I sat exactly 10 years ago. I remember the mix of excitement, shock and awe, and disbelief that I had made it. My ex-husband texted me after I marched across the stage that "this is quite an accomplishment and you should be so proud." You, my children, and other friends sat in the audience, sharing the same pride.

I remember the nerves I had walking onto the campus on my first day. I had not been in school for 20 years. As a student who was old enough to be the mom of many of my classmates, not to mention the same age as some of my professors, I didn't feel I would ever fit in, much less pass enough classes to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The many late night hours of studying, of stressing, of earning more gray hairs than I care to count. The phone calls to and from my support team and fellow students as we journeyed through those university years. I remember the conversations with you, other friends, and my children about what I would do after graduation and whether or not I would march in the commencement exercises. All of you talked me into that decision....and I'm glad I listened.

Today, as I watch your class graduate, I think about your years at the place that was my home. I think about the anxiety you had, stepping onto the same campus as I did. A "returning adult student." We shared that experience, that anxiety, those crazy nerves. The late night hours of studying, writing papers, doing the dreaded group projects, meeting with professors to discuss your education and your future. While I am saddened I didn't have the opportunity to stand beside you through your years as you did for and with me, your progress never left my thoughts, my prayers, and my pride in you.

I remember the conversations we had throughout most of our adult lives about whether or not either of us needed to return to school. Now look. You have earned that Bachelor of Arts degree, graduated with honors, and marched across that stage with that smile of achievement on your face. As I watched you do that, I was no longer remembering my own journey towards graduation. My heart beamed at this accomplishment for you. For this person who has been such a huge part of my life, who continues to mean the world to me. To see your name, with the "summa cum laude" underneath and with your name listed under multiple honor societies. Not only did you earn your BA, you did it with style. That's your way and has always been. I want you to know how much I still love you and how proud I am of you. You DID IT!! Now we watch to see where you go on this journey. 
And.....for the record.... YOU are a scholar..... One who worked very hard to get to where you are.... 

Welcome to the Lute Alumni family!!

all contents (c) 2017 Laura Inglis

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 WORD of the Year

After a year of restoration, I was rather curious to find out what my word would be for this year. I mean, how do you continue on from accepting to resting to returning, then to journey, followed by restoring? I thought that journey may have ended my OneWord365 involvement and, when it wasn't, then restore must be the end, right? Again, I was surprised to receive yet another word to direct my year. Apparently my word for 2017 is looking to be "STEADFAST."  

Per The Free Dictionary, the definition of steadfast is: 
Firmly loyal or constant; unswerving
Fixed or unchanging
Fixed or unmovable
Fixed in intensity or direction; steady
Unwavering or determined in purpose, loyalty
The first Scripture verse that came my direction in regards to being steadfast was:
And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. ~ 1 Peter 5:10 NIV

This verse spoke very deeply to me. It does a great job of summing up the past few years of my life. After God brought me through a restorative year, this verse reminded me that it is now time for me to learn how to stand firm in what I have learned through 2016. After restoration, the author, Peter, assures that after God restores, He will then make us strong, firm, and steadfast. Here are several other Bible verses that address the idea of standing firm and steadfast. (New International Version)
My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. ~ Psalm 57:7
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! ~ Psalm 119:5
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. ~ Isaiah 26:3
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ~ Psalm 51:10
My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. ~ Psalm 108:1
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. ~ Psalm 112:7
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. ~ Proverbs 4:26
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:58
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. ~ 1 Corinthians 16:13
"God is mighty, but despises no one; He is mighty, and firm in His purpose." ~ Job 36:5
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him. ~ Psalm 37:23
An interesting thought I had while processing this word and what it may look like this year was a reminder of the passage that was ingrained in my head and heart throughout the past year. 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitting with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people. ~ Ephesians 6:10-18
It kind of appears that, while going through a year of restoration, God was also preparing me for the ability to be steadfast in the healing and growth we have been working towards. Armoring up will certainly be required. As the Armor of God passage appeared to follow me around last year, it has already begun to seem that the 1 Peter 5 passage from the beginning of this post is going to be the same. I am curiouser and curiouser. 

all contents (c) 2017 Laura Inglis

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Final Thoughts on a year of Restoration

Over the past year, 2016 has been a very interesting year for me in several life systems. The word I was given for this year as part of the OneWord365 program, was RESTORE. My
spiritual, emotional, and social worlds have been rocked in all sorts of ways this year. To clarify, they have been rocked in a good way. Since I have been participating in the OneWord365, I feel that God and I have been peeling back layer after layer of things that have prevented me from living as the woman God created me to be. Having been a strong and extroverted female raised in the Midwest and Southeast Bible Belt in a patriarchal and often times misogynistic society, I never felt like I fit. Sorting through layers of hurt, misconceptions, lies fed to me by the enemy, confusion about so many thoughts in my head that have led to an inability to find my true identity. An identity not defined by these deceptions that have blanketed over me through my entire life. 

The layers removed by the OneWord process have involved learning to ACCEPT (2012), REST (2013), RETURN (2014), take a JOURNEY through my progress (2015), and now to be RESTORED (2016). The past five years have required entirely more self reflection and analyzing than I ever desired. It has been quite the challenge, at times very painful, and incredibly enlightening. As I examine these aspects and apply what I am learning to my life, I find myself growing in ways I could never have my work, my relationships, my spiritual life, and my physical life. 

Part of this year of restoration has placed me back at the foot of God's throne, empty handed and surrendering to Him every aspect of me. My self-worth has essentially been in alignment with the culture in which I was raised. Making a decision to engage in an unhealthy marriage at 18 years old sure did not help build that self-worth. Remembering to put myself at the foot of my Lord, and not to be defined by people and situations around me, has been something I have begun working towards. Part of restoring my self-worth has been reminding me to approach God in all things. Be much more intentional in my prayer life and armor up with the FULL armor of God. This leads to the realization that my self-worth is directly correlated to my spiritual life. If I was created at the pleasure of the creator of the universe, then apparently He considered me worthy of whatever purpose He had in mind. Before this
process of removing each of these layers, I would have argued this whole concept with you. The idea of my worth being related to someone so absolutely magnificent, was far too overwhelming to me and did not seem anywhere close to being possible.

Often times these changes have involved the loss of several relationships that were ever so important to me, a part of my very inner core. As I worked through the loss of these folks to death, to life changes, and to decisions that I was no longer necessary in their lives, I have grieved, had to come to terms with the idea that I had lost relationships that I depended on, relationships in which I loved with all that I am, relationships that helped define the woman I have become. Part of the restoration this year has involved making peace with this, rather than taking on ownership of some of these losses and allowing them to define me. One of these people I have grieved, stated that "loyalty is not always a virtue" in regards to a comment I made about myself being loyal to a fault. Another person stated that I was no longer family, even though this person is unable to 100% cut off
full communication. On the flip side, I get to celebrate and enjoy the start of a reconciliation with another family member who was previously convinced to stay away from me. Perhaps this will be restored in full some day. All of this makes things all that more confusing for me, a person who loves with all she is. Through many tears, heartbreak, evaluation and acceptance, I have begun the journey of acceptance, resting, returning these relationships back to the God who gives and takes away. 

This year also found me making new and different movements in my career. This is an area that remains in flux. Part of restoration has been the acceptance of myself as a professional business owner and learning how to step out of the boat and do things I historically would not necessarily have previously tried. Speaking with confidence that I am a skilled mental health professional, being willing to speak with authority from a stage in front of hundreds of people, and entertaining the idea of supervising people who are working towards their licensure. While 2015 ended with some sense of anxiety at supporting myself 100% independently, 2016 found me actually enjoying self-employment and having no desire to change that. To the contrary actually, there are movements towards expanding my agency in the next 1-2 years. Only time will tell how that will play out.

This year of restoration has included a renewed focus on my health. Over the past few years, I have often felt a bit of anxiety over whether or not the cancer may return. Hearing of

more and more people dying from appendix cancer, I would often wonder if I would hear the horrifying news that some of the mucin had been left and multiplied in my abdomen. Earlier this year, I decided to take a break from the annualy CT scans and doctor's visits as a way to focus more on living the life I have, rather than the "Scanxiety" (anxiety from my annual CT scans) that I endure every year.  In the midst of restoration, I remembered what my doctor told me after my surgery, "This thing has taken enough of your life. Start living life and moving on." If God decides it is time for me to go home to heaven, then that is part of His plan for my life. My job here will have been done. If it does not return, then I keep living life and moving forward. My focus on living the life that I have has been restored. I am eating healthy, trying to find time to exercise (not very easy at all). I am not sure if that is part of restoration or turning 50. HAHAHA!! Maybe both things. I am learning to make the most of the next years of my life, enjoying traveling, taking walks and drives through nature, photographing much of what I am seeing, and spending time with the people who choose to spend time with me. 

This year has been quite productive. It can sometimes be difficult to allow restoration, when I have become so accustomed to living as insecure, feeling "less than" and "not good enough," and that I must always trudge forward. As I have ended this year of focusing on restoring the woman God created me to be, I am finding that there is some worth there. That those who have chosen to remain part of my life are fortunate, as I am a good friend, a
worthwhile family member, and someone who can add to these relationships. I have discovered that my world needs not be defined by my history, my mistakes, my faults, or anything else that I deem unnecessary. What has been restored is the little girl who was born to a young married couple so long ago. A bouncy blue-eyed, sandy blonde, curly haired girl who loved to laugh. Throughout her life, she never met a stranger. Her reputation was that she was loyal, approachable, dedicated, persistent (read stubborn), caring, loving, positive, affirming, and encouraging. These are things that have been spoken over me by folks who have known me for a very long time and, my self-worth has more often been so low that I would push these words back, as I could not believe they were true. After this year of restoration? I believe I can accept these words as who I am.

After all of this, I sure wonder what 2017 holds for me. Each year has built upon the previous, which leads me to wonder what in the world can follow this year. 

all contents (c) 2016 Laura Inglis

Sunday, December 18, 2016

I Am in AWE!!

This weekend was our annual Christmas presentation at our church. I have been part of the choir for the past several years and have the privilege of singing with a wonderful group of folks whom I have grown to love incredibly. For the past couple of months, we have been rehearsing the music for this weekend's services. It is amazing to me, after singing these songs so many times, how all of a sudden, the lyrics can bring me to tears. Music is often the way that God gets through my hard head. Somehow my heart becomes vulnerable and perhaps the defensive wall becomes more penetrable in music.

"You didn't want heaven without us so Jesus You brought heaven down. My sin was great, Your love was greater. What could separate us now?" ~ Hillsong - What a Beautiful Name

As we were singing, these words truly spoke to me during this, my year of restoration. I have no doubt that I have heard these words previously in my life, however after a year of removing layers upon layers of insecurity and feeling "less than," these lyrics were able to make their way straight into my heart. I have been reading Scripture throughout these past few years, encouraging me to pull closer to my Lord and Savior, to focus more on living the life God has planned for me. To recognize that God has and will continue to do a good work in my life, if only I offer my free will for His use. To realize that the Holy Spirit has been sealed inside of me.
"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." ~ Ephesians 4:29-32
To recognize and embrace that Christ sent the Holy Spirit to be with us when He returned to heaven so we were not left alone. 
"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all the things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." ~ John 14:26-27

 Another of the songs we sang was this one:

Sometimes life is very hard, we feel hurt, overwhelmed, confused. This prayer is one I have prayed many times over the past few years so to hear it in music form, really struck hard.
"I'm so confused. I know I heard you loud and clear so I followed through. Somehow I ended up here. I don't wanna think. I may never understand that my broken heart is a part of your plan. When I try to pray, all I've got is hurt and these four words. Thy will be done.
I know you're good, but this don't feel good right now. And I know you think of things I could never think about. It's hard to count it all joy, distracted by the noise. Just trying to make sense of all your promises. Sometimes I gotta stop, remember that you're God and I am not, so thy will be done." ~ Hilary Scott - Thy Will
This puts in amazing words what I feel so often. I feel confused. I feel uncertain about myself, my life. I feel afraid of screwing up, of hurting others. What if I don't hear God right? What if those who have issue with me are right? How about this part of the song (prayer)? Yep. Pretty well sums it up.

"I know you see me. I know you hear me, Lord. Your plans are for me. Goodness you have in store. So thy will be done." 
As this year of restoration winds down, this is definitely my prayer. Thank you Father God for this reminder. I. AM. IN. AWE....

all contents (c) 2016 Laura Inglis

Friday, December 9, 2016

Daily & Sufficient Grace

This morning I was on my way to a coffee date with a friend when a particular song played on my radio. I own this album and have listened to it probably a thousand times (not even counting the time I believe she sang it when we saw her in concert a few years ago), however this morning it just struck a major chord inside of me. I listened to it over and over, nearly becoming teary-eyed at the message. There wasn't a part of the song that did not speak so clearly to me. Here is a video to the song, followed by the lyrics.... 

Here are the lyrics

My heart is so proud. My mind is so unfocused.I see the things You do through me as great things I have done.And now You gently break me, then lovingly You take meAnd hold me as my father and mold me as my maker.

I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up,When I keep on letting you down?And each time I will fall short of Your glory,How far will forgiveness abound?"And You answer: " My child, I love you.And as long as you're seeking My face,You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."

At times I may grow weak and feel a bit discouraged,Knowing that someone, somewhere could do a better job.For who am I to serve You? I know I don't deserve You.And that's the part that burns in my heart and keeps me hanging on.

I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up,When I keep on letting you down?And each time I will fall short of Your glory,How far will forgiveness abound?"And You answer: " My child, I love you.And as long as you're seeking My face,You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."

You are so patient with me, Lord.As I walk with You, I'm learning what Your grace really means.The price that I could never pay was paid at Calvary.So, instead of trying to repay You, I'm learning to simply obey YouBy giving up my life to you For all that You've given to me.

I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up,When I keep on letting you down?And each time I will fall short of Your glory,How far will forgiveness abound?"And You answer: " My child, I love you.And as long as you're seeking My face,You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."
In this year of restoration, part of becoming the woman God created me to be is learning to accept God's grace. BUT, before I can accept it, I have to learn what it is, what it looks like and how to recognize it, as well as allow myself to embrace it. 

I do mess up. I do experience pain. I so often feel unworthy. I fall down...a lot. I will at times allow my empathetic nature to affect my life when my heart breaks while I hear of another person who is hurting. When people walk away from me; when people criticize my looks, my personality, my feelings, my opinions/perspectives; when clients say that my type of counseling is not a good fit; when clients attempt suicide even after we have a safety plan in place; when marriages end even after many counseling sessions; when my children don't embrace the relationship with me that I desire; when my family chooses to not engage in relationship with me; when my pain is minimized and when I am undervalued.....I feel unworthy. I feel not good enough. I wonder how God can really love me when I feel so unlovable. Then, when I realize that I'm in the dark place, that I "allowed" myself to go there...again, I find myself asking God the questions that Laura Story so eloquently sings in this song.

You see, it's okay for me to feel down, feel pain, feel like a screw-up. It's okay that I feel hurt from others, that I sometimes feel insecure about my work even though it's my calling from 
God. It's okay that I question my walk and wonder if I'm following the right path. I was raised to strive for perfection and to be the best. When I realized that I am never going to be the anything, then my heart wonders why I should even try because I'll never measure up. Part of this restoration is realizing that, my job is not to be the best. It is to be the woman God created me to be. To follow along the path He has lit for me. To embrace and love on those He puts in my path. To allow those who He is taking away from me to leave. To love unconditionally. To patiently wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to those who have shut Him down in their lives. To speak truth. To listen to the Holy Spirit's direction and compassion in my soul. To learn. To draw closer to God. To listen when God says (as Laura so wonderful sings) "My child, I love you. And as long as you're seeking My face, You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace." That is ALL I need to His face. (Enter warm heart at that thought)

I am SO grateful for people who have the gift of writing and singing music. I am grateful that God uses music to speak to my heart. I am grateful that God is providing healing and guidance to those of us who, while we are screw-ups, we're still His children and He still desires relationship with us. 

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
 "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." ~ Hebrews 4:16

"Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." ~ John 1:16-17 
"And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." ~ 1 Peter 5:10
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." ~ Romans 5:1-2 

all contents (c) 2016 Laura Inglis

Friday, December 2, 2016


The state of our society right this moment incredibly saddens me.

- The situation in North Dakota where there are two sides of the story (of which I don't feel I know enough to make a stand, BUT.... shooting people with water cannons in the middle of winter in North Dakota sure doesn't sound like a wise idea to me.... and causes me significant concern for folks on both sides as this escalates)

- The various police officers around our country who are targeted by simply writing tickets or sitting in a coffee shop on their break or....

- The officers who try to keep people safe in their own homes and are shot and killed

- The families of those who have lost so much sense of themselves and allow themselves to get so out of control that they pull guns and use their young children as shields

- The families and friends of those who have to now deal with the inexplicable grief - both from the officers as well as the shooter (it's not the fault of the families)

- The officers who have to stand on the roof of a hospital to try to safely remove someone who's mental illness is out of control...and try to get him the much needed help before he or someone else is harmed

- The children who watched their dad kill a police officer yesterday, be held hostage by their dad, see hundreds of first responders around their house and know that their dad won't let them leave, then watch their dad get killed many hours later (early this morning) by other officers in Tacoma

- The children in Burien, who went to school today, only to go into lockdown and hear the bang, bang of bean bags being shot at the man on the hospital roof...just hours after hearing about the situation last night in Tacoma

- Or the first responders and hospital personnel who were/are on the front lines with all of this. The ones who still kept working because there were other lives to be saved.

- Or the domestic violence victims who are now terrified to call for help out of fear that this could happen to their family and/or other officers as well.

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?! My heart aches. It grieves. As a clinical social worker who has worked and still works in the mental health world as a career....who has worked closely with many first responders, with domestic violence victims and perpetrators, worked in a prison with someone who was deemed too dangerous to be released.... As a friend to family members of police officers, who works with officers and other first responders on a regular basis....As a friend to teachers who have to try to instill some calm to their students.... I see both sides. I honestly do.... What I also see is that WE. ARE. OUT. OF CONTROL!! It has been said that Black Lives Matter. It has been said that Blue Lives Matter. It has been said that this person is a victim or that person is a victim. YOU KNOW WHAT?! We're all victims in this. However...we can ALL have control. We can ALL show love and support and encouragement. We can ALL show gratitude. We can ALL own our own attitudes and behaviors. WE ALL MATTER!!

And, for the record, I don't want anyone to be pointing fingers at this year's election. This has been an escalating issue for several years now, which means it is not a political issue. It's a heart issue inside of our society.

How about we start a movement to be encouraging and loving to one another? How about we go up to a stranger and let them know they matter? How about we let a first responder know that we sure appreciate them? Here's one... How about, when we hear someone bashing another person, or a politician, or the police, or or or...that we ask them of what they think can happen to fix it? Then let them know that's a great idea and encourage them to take the steps to let their lawmakers or other policy makers know. Instead of building up the animosity, how about we try to be positive, encouraging, uplifting and try to make a peaceful difference? It CAN work.. We can become much less violent. Honest. Let's try..... PLEASE!??!?!

all contents (c) 2016 Laura Inglis

Sunday, November 27, 2016

More on Restoration

Casting Crowns concern 10/2016
This year has been quite interesting for me. Looking back over the year, I feel like there have been so many changes inside of me. Several realizations have begun penetrating through this thick head of mine and turning on some light bulbs. Every time I hear the word restore, often in song lyrics, but in other places as well, it causes me to pause and evaluate my life at that moment. I ask if God is trying to speak to me, like restore is a "code word" (I know. Pretty funny, right? Like God needs a code word? HAHA!!) or ask myself if there is something in my life that continues to remain stuck. I have kind of practiced that through previous words (OneWord 365), yet this year feels a bit more intentional. The changes have a deeper feel inside of them. I feel some of this deep down in my spirit. There have been many changes in my life this year, much more direction. One might call it the end of a section in the Book of Laura's Life, with some teasers remaining about the upcoming chapters.

Panorama of The Cove at Palisades Park in Culver, OR

View of Mt. Jefferson from Culver, OR
This year I was called to step way out of my box by accepting requests to do public speaking and training about faith and mental health. This was not anything I ever thought I would be asked to do, much less accept the call. I found that I actually enjoyed speaking to groups of people, making use of many years of experience and training in how to relate to and try to engage an audience. Apparently my passion for people, to help them realize that they're not alone and that there is help, comes through very clearly in this format. I have been told that my method of speaking and willingness to share my story openly allows the audience to feel connected to me and let their guards down somewhat. What is being restored here? The realization and reminder that God never wastes a step. That my experiences, both positive and negative, were allowed to serve a purpose and I have been allowed a glimpse into God's plan. I am humbled that God would consider using me in this manner.

Herd of deer in Culver, OR
This year, my business has continued to grow. My caseload has remained full most of the year, to the point that I have had to turn down well over 100 people who have contacted me for help. While folks say that this "is a good problem to have," it breaks my heart every time I have to say no. This is hard because it can take a lot of time, energy, and strength to make that call requesting help and, to be told there's no room, can be very discouraging. Often to the point of giving up on trying to find help. I became a social worker to help people, not make things harder, so saying no is discouraging even to me. Historically I may have just accepted that this is the way it is and moved forward, or kicked myself for not being able to do more, or even lowered my boundaries and taken on more clients (to my own detriment). Part of restoration in this arena? I have begun looking forward to the future of my business, anticipating the opportunity to expand and become an actual agency, not a private practice. Working with interns and externs, as well as contracting with other licensed clinicians. My point is, instead of accepting my current limitations, I am looking forward to expanding to meet the needs of the community in which I work, as well as working to help train other people with the same heart and desire that I have. And to think that only three years ago I purchased my business license. That's a huge change.

A flock of ducks & a lone goose at Cline Falls State Park in Redmond, OR
There have been several other situations in personal relationships in my life over the past few years that have left pain inside of me (and possibly them, but I can only speak to myself). As I have journeyed through this year of restoration, God chose to shine a light on these relationships to show me a few reasons why they may have been removed. I am an extremely loyal person. I don't leave people. It's just not in my DNA to walk away. I love with all that I am. In some scenarios, I am learning that this persistance can at times be to my detriment. Part of the restoration happening this year is the realization and acceptance that these people have been removed to allow me to grow in a different way than I would have had they been active in my life. These people are on their own journeys that are likely different than they would be with me involved as well. Will there be reconciliation at some point in the future? I sure hope so, but at the same time I have to let them go and allow God to do the work He chooses to do inside of them and inside of me. 

Most of the friends/family at my surprise 50th birthday party
In my adult years, my birthday has been extremely painful to me. This year was my 50th birthday (perhaps the purpose of my book analogy from earlier in the post - I am now into the second half of my life) and God's work on restoring my life included my birthday. I wrote about my birthday struggle several years ago "Birthdays - To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate". My best friend has literally fought me for many years about the pain this has caused to me. This year, God spoke to me very quietly one night, telling me that, as part of restoration this year, perhaps He was trying to restore my birthday as well. That I had to let Him do that work. My best friend had gotten together with my community over the past year to decide they were going to attempt to throw me a surprise party for my 50th. After much internal struggle and the conversation with God about it, I decided to go to my friend and give my "permission" for the celebration. I had to step out of the boat and trust. What I did not know at that time was that a dear friend had offered her home for this party and people from various aspects of my life attended. There were 31 of my friends and family who came to show their love for me, even going around the room and speaking affirming words to me one by one. My words of afirmation heart was overflowing. The love I felt from this group of my community was incredible. I continue to process this experience. I was informed by them that my birthday was being restored and my birthday was going to be celebrated from now on. 

A tangled log that reminds me of some relationships (Sisters, OR)
Three Tree Point, Burien, WA (Mt. Rainier in the distance)
During this summer, my family came together to celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. It was a fun two weeks of family, fun, and well as getting to visit with family I have not had a chance to visit with in a very long time. The interpersonal dynamics was very interesting and more enlightening to me. There were some clarifications from various family members as to why decisions are made that I was unaware of. More realization of the differences in our personalities. Reconciliation in a relationship with a niece who was taken away during a previous family conflict. That she attended the celebration meant so much to me, and that she allowed relationship to occur again even more so. God is restoring my place in my family to where He wanted it to be when I was created, not in the way it has occured through the years. I just have to allow Him to do the work and stay out of His way. To allow myself to be shaped instead of fighting to be included and accepted. My feelings matter. My personality may be different. That does not mean it's wrong. I may be different than my family and that is okay. I just have to find my foundation and stand strong on it. 

Cline Falls State Park, Redmond, OR
Cline Falls, Redmond, OR
Tumalo Falls State Park, Bend, OR
Over the past few years, my best friend and I (and my daughter on occasion) have chosen to do quite a bit more traveling. We have been taking road trips all over the Pacific Northwest (SUCH AWESOME VIEWS), going hiking (on less occasions than I'd like, but it still occurs), and taking photos of nature. I realized that one of my coping skils is not only going on drives and hikes, but to take photos of nature. Taking snapshots of beautiful clouds, mountains, water, and all sorts of nature is so healing to my heart. Going back to the photos later helps me remember our Creator and how He makes all things new and beautiful. God is restoring a love for nature that never truly developed before now. I was raised in a competitve home and, since several friends, my ex-husband, and both of my children are all amazing photographers, I have been hesitant to acknowledge my love for taking pictures. Now I am at the place where I can say I love taking photos, even purchased my first DSLR (I know. RIGHT?!) and will continue using it as my emotional outlet. Definitely a restoration because I would not have made that big of a step before (even agonized over making the purchase of such a big camera). 

Blue Star Memorial Rest Area, Chemult, OR
Lest we believe that the restoration is complete, there are still so many things that God is working on restoring inside of me. It's definitely an interesting journey for sure. Learning how to identify boundaries where I feel they need to be, allowing myself to be the woman God created without comparing myself or competing with others, and stepping out of the boat trusting that God will carry me and allow me to walk on whatever terrain He chooses for me to walk on. As the final weeks of 2016 bring this year to a close, I wonder what God has in store for 2017. I have already become curious as to what next year's word is since each word builds on the previous one. ACCEPT, REST, RETURN, JOURNEY, RESTORE. Hmmm... 

Casting Crowns concert, 10/2016

all contents (c) 2016 Laura Inglis

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Am I Focusing on the Negative or....?

Someone has mentioned that it appears I tend to focus on the negatives of my life in my blog. That I make accusations towards others rather than focus on my healing. I decided to address those views in this format as well and hopefully clear the air. 

Yes, I was raised in an authoritarian home and then later experienced domestic violence in my 17 year marriage. There have been many experiences in my life that have been really hard and hurtful. The loss of several relationships and communities that were not my choice. One of these communities was a church family that caused the term "friendly fire" to be used, as gossip spread throughout, and I had to patiently wait for God's assurance that "the truth will be revealed" to come to fruition. The loss of two pregnancies to miscarriage. A cancer diagnosis that is hopefully in my past. And many other stories..... All of that to say that yes, these things have happened. And yes, they hurt. And there are times that grief continues to occur.

About 14 years ago, I attended a workshop at a women's retreat. This particular workshop was addressing domestic violence and was taught by an expert in the domestic violence field. In this workshop, the speaker did an exercise that involved the telling of a story of a fictional woman and her life. This was the story of her life that led to her becoming a victim of domestic violence and then her subsequent healing through many years. With each experience of violence, criticism, invalidation, etc, someone in the audience placed a sheet over a volunteer sitting in the front of the room. At a certain point, the sheets began being removed one-by-one, until they were all taken off and the woman was "healed" from the pain and hurt.  As I sat in the audience, witnessing this exercise, I related to this story more than I ever cared to admit and sobbed throughout the workshop. 

On my OneWord365 journey over the past five years, God has been doing a great deal of healing in my life, my heart, my spirit. I guess you could say that the sheets are being removed, one by one as I have worked on accepting, resting, returning, continuing on this journey, and being restored. Some of the sheets have been removed very carefully, while some of the sheets have been ripped off, very painfully. As these "sheets" are removed, the situations that caused the hurt are looked over and, being an analytical type of person, I find myself looking over so many aspects of the experiences, at the people involved, at my role in each situation. I very often attempt to see what of my actions or words could have been different, Did I do something that escalated anything? What could I have said or done differently? 

When I write about my pain, these experiences, or the relationships that I miss and grieve, it is not to be hurtful or pass blame on those people I mention. It is, instead to recognize that this particular sheet is from that pain. It is looking it over and over to ask if I could have done something different. People who have experienced abuse, often blame themselves for the pain. "It's my fault because I'm unworthy and I deserved it." That idea. It is to continue learning to identify what is my responsibility and what was someone else's choice. I did not choose to be abused. My abusers chose to hit verbally, physically, emotionally, etc.... I did not choose to have my life gossiped about so my reputation was horribly slandered. Those people who chose to speak of what they did not have intimate knowledge chose that. I did not choose to end the relationships that are still so painful. The other people did, at times despite my attempts to request and encourage that we sit down and talk about what happened. Primarily to clear up any conflict in the communication, especially on my part, because I must be misunderstanding something. These relationships mean more to me than these people must believe. I love deeply. I love with all I am. I am more loyal than many choose to acknowledge. And I grieve over the possible deaths of these relationships that were part of my very inner core. Situations may change in our lives. We may change inside, however these bonds and love for one another only change if that is our decision. We choose. I did not choose to release those relationships. They were removed from me and coming to terms with that is difficult to say the least, hence the grief.

You see, it is easier, to some degree, to release the experiences of my miscarriages or the cancer, as neither were my fault. Easier to release some of the sheets, than others. These blog posts that I write about are a) to work through the inspection of the experiences, as I am a verbal processor and rather than talk this stuff out with people who may not want to hear it again and again (since I can be a slow processor for some things), I choose to write it out; b) to travel my journey to healing and grow in my relationship with my Lord; and c) to share on here in case my experiences may possibly help someone else know that they are not alone and may relate to my story. 

I believe that, if my story and experiences can help someone else travel through their life, then my experiences were not for naught. This desire to help others with my story has been validated by people, including one dear friend who recently stated "Thank you for sharing. You may not know this side of heaven who you've impacted by processing out loud. Thank you!!" If this is true, then my experiences served a purpose. I have to hold onto that as I travel the peaks and the valleys. Another friend encouraged me to "keep writing," while another wise woman advised me to "keep talking" about my pain and not shut it down. If you are one of the people who is upset at my verbal processing and believe I focus only on the negative aspects of my life, then I apologize that this is the focus you see and encourage you to perhaps process your own experiences in a way that works for you or perhaps discontinue reading my blog. I do not recall ever accusing anyone of being "a crappy person," as was mentioned by someone after reading one of my last posts. I would never do that. I am more likely to ask what I did to cause them to end the friendship.... and inspect the experience thoroughly. As I walk this journey to healing, I am more likely to identify where I needed to have placed my boundaries. 

As God is restoring me to become the person He created me to be, I will continue processing my experiences and various aspects of my journey. At some point, all of the "sheets" will be removed and I will be a survivor that no longer struggles with my self-image, self-worth, and fear of losing people I love. I will be able to place my trust 100% in my Lord and my Savior as He lights my path and I move forward step by step.

If you are one of the people who my journey is helping, I encourage you to keep moving forward and recognize that the "sheets" do indeed come off and the journey to healing is worth it, even if it takes a while. Please feel free to contact me if you need an ear.... I will listen as we travel this journey called life together. Until then, I'll keep writing and working through this pile of "sheets" placed on me through the years. Sorting through the laundry and throwing out what doesn't belong and keeping the lessons learned. 

all contents (c) 2016 Laura Inglis

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Five Year Anniversary of Life Changing News

  • "They found a really big mass. You need to get your life in order because this will be a significant surgery to remove it."
  • "It doesn't look like cancer. The bloodwork doesn't show anything indicating cancer, but we won't know until we get in there to remove it and see what we're dealing with."
  • "The surgery should only be about 1-1/2 to 2 hours."
  • "Plan on an overnight stay at the hospital, but shouldn't be more than a day or so."

Today is October 19, 2016. That means it was five years ago today that this surgery took place. A surgery to remove a "large mass." A mass that my co-workers lovingly referred to as Cyrano. I looked as though I was 6-7 months pregnant with this "mass" inside of me so they decided it needed a name. I think it helped everyone make some sense of what was going on with my body and sometimes humor is the best coping mechanism. Either laugh or cry, right?

What wound up happening is that, once they opened my abdomen, they immediately found the unexpected and something the doctors did not understand. A very rare form of cancer. The "mass" was not a mass at all. Cyrano turned out to be one of my ovaries that had become massive inside due to a large quantity of mucin from a tumor on my appendix. They initially believed it to be ovarian cancer, scaring my best friends and family horribly. Then it was identified as appendix cancer. One of many quite rare cancers that doctors don't even know about. That began the last five years of my life. And the lives of those close to me.

The 90 minute surgery turned into five hours and the overnight hospital stay wound up being a five night stay on the cancer floor. Many phone calls. Many hospital visitors. Friends saying that they really needed to lay eyeballs on me after hearing the unbelievable news. Doctors trying to come up with a treatment plan for something they had no idea what it was. My best friend trying to figure out how to tell my family. My ex-husband. My kids. How do you tell these people that their mom, ex-wife, daughter, sister, friend was just diagnosed with cancer? Prognosis? No idea. We don't even know exactly what this is. My daughter was 15 years old and taking her driver's education class when the news came to my friends. My son was a young 20 years old and had just moved back home after living for 14 months on his own in Arizona.

Thus began the cancer journey. CT scans. Chemo or not chemo? Doctor appointment after doctor appointment. Lab after lab for this test or that test. Many barium drinks. The crinkled brows of many doctors when they hear of cancer. "Appendix cancer? I've never heard of that. How did they treat that?" "Are you in remission now?" The hearing of other people with this cancer journey. Getting to know a young couple online as the husband was diagnosed a couple of months before me. Journeying with them as his body succumbed to it a few short years later, leaving behind a beautiful young wife and nine month old baby girl. (** side note ** One of the positive things from this journey has been the friendship with his wife. Alyssa is an absolutely incredible young woman who I have grown to care about very much.... definitely a gift in my life) An interesting realization I had today was that my son is now the same age as Nick was during his struggle with this horrible illness. What a reality check that was.

I look back at the past five years and I remember so much. I think about the aspects of my life that have changed. The work God has done in me and through me. The changes in my relationships that I thought for sure were permanent. That I had faith in. The bond that has grown deeper with others, including with my kids, my best friend, and even my ex-husband (even though we will never be "together" again, we both sure love and appreciate the ability to remain family). My relationship with myself. My desire to live life to the full. To make memories. To travel. To fulfill my purpose. To love.  To try not to embrace the negative parts that Satan tries to blanket my life with.

Five years. It's hard to believe it's been that long, while at the same time it's hard to believe it's only been five years. Sometimes it seems so long ago. I'd like to end this post with one of the biggest things I have learned over the past five years. Gratitude. I've learned to focus more on what I'm grateful for than what is wrong with my life, with society, with this, that, and everything else.

I am grateful for:
  • A healthy life
  • A warm home
  • The medical world and people who have gone before me who paved the way that allowed me to remain healthy.
  • My amazing children
  • My soulmate/best friend
  • Relationships 
  • My beautiful nieces and nephews - blood related as well as adopted 
  • Humor
  • A calling from God that allows me to use my passion towards walking with people on their journeys towards healing and just loving on them
  • The ability to drive freely where I choose with a capable vehicle to get me where I desire to go
  • My church family and leadership whom I love and respect in so many ways
  • Affirmations from unexpected places
  • The ability to watch my children grow and become adults I can be proud of
  • The opportunity to live in a free country that allows us the ability to speak freely, worship how we choose, stand for what we feel is important, and travel openly where we choose
  • First responders who are waiting to help us when we call
  • The AWESOME artwork of God that we too often take for granted in the Pacific Northwest
  • Technology - internet, cell phones, computers, and on and on
  • SO many more things that I could be here all day listing. 
MOST of all, I am grateful for the love of a Heavenly Father who granted me healing and allows me to remain here on this earth to hopefully bless people as much as they have blessed me. And to show people God's love so they know they have someone who cares, even in the darkest of places. 

all contents (c) 2016 Laura Inglis