Sunday, November 12, 2017

Storms and the Unknown

Do you ever have those days when you wonder what in the world is happening around you?  Times when you feel you're following God's leading, yet roadblock after roadblock pops up? Or times when your decisions cause other issues that have negative affects in your life? I recently told a group of dear friends how I feel that there's a storm brewing in my life's future. The winds of which are picking up all sorts of random situations in my life and creating some pretty significant unknowns.

During my life, I have struggled with feeling at home anywhere. I have lived in five different states, in more than 20 different homes. The first time I ever felt homesick was at 24yrs old after my firstborn was four months old and I had taken him to meet family in the state where I grew up. I had only lived in Washington for two years, yet missed it horribly while we were gone. In those two years, the Puget Sound area had become my home. Even when my best friend and I purchased our home in 2003, I realized that I did not feel this house was my home. Fast forward to the past four years since I opened my private practice in a rural part of a different county from where I live. Eventually I began realizing how much I felt at home in this city. Every time I leave for the drive home, something just feels wrong, like I'm going away from my home, not TO my home. Then when I'm driving around the rural city, something feels right. All of that to say that my family has decided to sell our home after 14-1/2yrs and relocate to the little rural city where i work. I truly never thought that I would ever move again.

When we purchased this house, I actually told my children to just bury me in the backyard,

that I never wanted to move again. HAHA!! My son says he is shocked that we are moving out of the home where he spent his teen years and where my daughter was raised. This involves much packing of oh so many boxes and boxes and boxes. Also, a question that many people have asked, is where exactly are we moving. Well..... we don't have that figured out yet. Are we going to purchase a house in this limited inventory and seller's market or are we going to rent a home for the short term until something we're interested in pops up? I have absolutely no idea. The only thing I do know is that we are hoping to put the house on the market within a week and do not anticipate it taking long to sell. SO between our realtor and mortgage broker, we may be living in a rental home or our own new home by the end of 2017. BIG change and HUGE unknown.

Another large change and unknown is the future of my practice. 
A colleague and good friend even put in hours of work to create a new logo for me. A wonderful new logo!! I love it!! I felt
very strongly that I was supposed to expand into a larger suite of four offices, a lobby, and a kitchen. This involved more than tripling my business expenses. While I do have another Christian social worker on board with me, it is taking a bit longer than anticipated for her business to take off for her to work full-time. I also thought I may have begun working with an intern or two by now. There is such a massive need for more people to provide mental health services to those in our area. SO many teens who are struggling, marriages that are on the edge of a cliff, and families that are divided in difficult ways for numerous reasons. I field many phone calls from people in the community and from insurance companies who are attempting to access care. Care that is a challenge to find due to full caseloads, high insurance deductibles or lack of enough providers that are paneled with all of the insurances. I have pretty decent boundaries, however it is horribly painful to have to turn people down due to a full caseload or the client is not a good fit for my type of therapy. You see, I don't work with children under middle school or with older adults. There is a need for my practice to expand. Yet I often wonder how I can expect to continually afford this increase in expenses.

Another endeavor has been becoming certified as a Youth Mental Health First Aid 
trainer. It cost  a great deal of money to undergo this training so we can attempt to help people know
how to work with youth. We are losing entirely too many youth to suicide. So many youth who want only to be understood. They are the future of our community. We MUST learn how to interact with them. To encourage them, mentor them. Learn how to communicate with them. I have found a strong passion for this idea. My frustration is that while a lot of people express interest in this training, it has been quite difficult to schedule enough people to take the training. I almost feel crazy because I recently registered to take the Adult Mental Health First Aid instructor training after the first of the year. Also not cheap, yet also very important for the community. I have to wonder at what point these trainings will produce the needed results, as I feel in some way that this is a large part of my ministry to the community. To love and support, to educate, and hopefully
inspire people to make a difference in the lives of people who are hurting and struggling.

These scenarios are all taking up a significant portion of my life at this current moment. 
And I have not mentioned the recent death of a good friend to cancer, at 45yrs old - FAR too young.....and the anticipated death of my best friend's 45yr old sister who is currently on hospice care due to other health issues. And then another good friend who just got the cancer diagnosis and is struggling to even find treatment due to not having health insurance.... Super scary. Since my divorce, I have often desired to find a man in my life, but to be honest, right now, I am grateful that I am not married. My mind and my life is taken up by all of this that I don't know how much I would have left for a relationship with a partner. What about the fear (valid or not, it still sits there) of the cancer returning in my body? They are taking up my time, my finances, and much of my mind power. My desire is to walk where God is calling me to walk. To go where He is leading me. Then I remember my word for the year. Being steadfast. God's steadfast love.

Steadfast - firmly fixed in place, immovable, not subject to change, firm in belief, determination, or adherence, loyal  

"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
"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" ~ Psalm 107:1

While it often feels like a storm is brewing outside of my life recently, I believe it will behoove me to keep this in mind. To keep my focus on God, on my calling, and take my days step by step. To know that God will keep His promises and never forsake me, never leave me. That if He is calling us to move to a new home, HE will work out the logistics. If HE is calling for changes to my business, then HE will take care of the conflicts. And if HE is calling me to certain purposes, then I might recognize that I have to walk the walk God has provided light on for me to walk. God is also the calmer of the storms. He can calm the storm OR He can calm me. 

all contents (c) 2017 Laura Inglis

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Getting To Biblically Know the Word "Steadfast"

I was pondering the word "steadfast" as I was reading the Bible (specifically Psalm 107) the other day and I had an idea. My word of the year is in so many places in Scripture, and if God is trying to help me get to know His steadfast love, then why don't I take a hard look at each of the places where this word is mentioned? I accepted that challenge and am starting with the first time it's mentioned (at least where I've found so far) in the Bible. I will try to do this on a fairly regular basis, dependent on my schedule and how long it takes me to process these passages. 
"Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord; and He counted (credited) it to him as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man)." ~ Genesis 15:6 (AMP)

In this passage, God and Abram are having a conversation in which God makes a covenant with Abram. The covenant that many of us have heard about through the years. One that foretold of the Israelite nation through Abram's lineage, even though Abram had no descendants.  

"He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” ~ Genesis 15:5 (NIV)
There is no reason Abram "should" have believed that he would have anyone in his bloodline in which to leave behind an inheritance. God had been promising this large inheritance from the time Abram's father, Terah, died in Haran. 
"The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land I will show you. 

I will make you a great nation,

    and I will bless you.
I will make you famous,
    and you will be a blessing to others.

I will bless those who bless you,

    and I will place a curse on those who harm you.
And all the people on earth
    will be blessed through you.”
So Abram left Haran as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. At this time Abram was 75 years old." ~ Genesis 12:1-4 (NCV)
Then again after they had arrived in Canaan.
"After Lot left, the Lord said to Abram, “Look all around you—to the north and south and east and west. All this land that you see I will give to you and your descendants forever. I will make your descendants as many as the dust of the earth. If anyone could count the dust on the earth, he could count your people. Get up! Walk through all this land because I am now giving it to you.” ~ Genesis 13:14-17 (NCV)

Have you ever felt like God made you a promise? Or told you something that you have waited for either in anticipation or in dread? Then you waited and waited and began to give up hope? Or felt that you "must have heard Him wrong"? Boy howdy. Can I relate to that? God and I have had so many conversations through the years that I "thought" I heard correctly, yet never seemed to come true. At times even, they appear to be less and less possible as time moves on. In these chapters, we see that Abram never even starts to question God's word until chapter 15. After Abram's nephew, Lot had gotten himself into some trouble and Abram had to rescue him. 
"After these things happened, the Lord spoke his word to Abram in a vision: “Abram, don’t be afraid. I will defend you, and I will give you a great reward.” But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you give me? I have no son, so my slave Eliezer from Damascus will get everything I own after I die.” Abram said, “Look, you have given me no son, so a slave born in my house will inherit everything I have.” Then the Lord spoke his word to Abram: “He will not be the one to inherit what you have. You will have a son of your own who will inherit what you have.” Then God led Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky. There are so many stars you cannot count them. Your descendants also will be too many to count.” Abram believed the Lord. And the Lord accepted Abram’s faith, and that faith made him right with God." ~ Genesis 15:1-6 (NCV)
 Abram remained so steadfast to God, that he is mentioned in the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11. 
"It was by faith Abraham obeyed God’s call to go to another place God promised to give him. He left his own country, not knowing where he was to go. It was by faith that he lived like a foreigner in the country God promised to give him. He lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who had received that same promise from God. Abraham was waiting for the city that has real foundations—the city planned and built by God.
He was too old to have children, and Sarah could not have children. It was by faith that Abraham was made able to become a father, because he trusted God to do what he had promised. This man was so old he was almost dead, but from him came as many descendants as there are stars in the sky. Like the sand on the seashore, they could not be counted." ~ Hebrews 11:8-12 (NCV)
 Apparently this definition of steadfast is related to having faith, even standing firm in our faith when things look like they could be lost. When finances are tight, seemingly because I did what I felt I was told to do in expanding my practice, donating funds to or for someone or something. When family members appear to be walking further away from God after I feel God has promised me that they will return, that they have a big job in store for them. When things feel so crazy confusing as far as my eyes can see. God has focused me on being steadfast. Believe, affirm, rely on, trust in, and remain steadfast to my Lord. To hold fast to what God has told me, even when all hope seems lost. To keep moving forward, trusting that God will carry me and direct me step by step, if I fully depend on only Him.

all contents (c) 2017 Laura Inglis

Monday, September 11, 2017

Staying Steadfast is NOT Always the Easiest Thing to Do

I realize that I have not written on here in quite a while. My reputation has become one of a "crazy busy" person. Between my business, ministry at my church, and wonderful time with my family, life can get fairly slammed.I am beginning to learn that, standing steadfast is important to prevent my chaotic life from swaying me to and fro, and is much more difficult than this very strong-willed woman can sometimes embrace.

It seems like every couple of years, my life finds it's way into extraordinary changes.This

year is no different. Earlier this year, after turning down far, far more people than I felt was acceptable, the idea of expanding my practice became increasingly real. The conflict with this is that I had already been scheduling 30 clients per week. Anymore than that, I ran a significant risk in burning myself out. That certainly wouldn't be a good idea after all of the years of education and working so hard to get to where I was. Another option was to find a larger office suite and bring other social workers under the umbrella of Serenity Hope Counseling, PLLC (SHC). A faith-based agency of social workers to provide help and support to the East Pierce County community. Fortunately, an office suite opened up in the same building I've been in for the past two years, though I still had an additional year on my lease. After a long line of help and support from some colleagues and friends, I was able to move into the four office suite. One of the dilemmas is that this suite is more than triple the cost for my work financial budget. OH.....another important piece of information? Around this same time, a wonderful clinician who I got to meet and work with when I worked at the ER reconnected with me and had been feeling led to enter this world of private practice.

Just prior to signing the lease of my suite this Spring, I was also notified of an opportunity to take a five day training to become an instructor for Youth Mental Health First Aid. For the first time in several years, the training took place in Seattle, making it very accessible for me. The issue is that most people's companies will pay for their training and they still get their paychecks. For me, I had to pay the $2000 tuition and miss a week of work. ACK!! On the other hand, there was this opportunity to be trained to teach the community of people who work with youth how to recognize and deal with mental and behavioral health. We would be trained on how to help stop the stigma of mental health. To raise up a generation of people to learn that the brain is a part of the body and mental illness is a physical illness. To help the youth that we work with realize their worth. How could I decline this chance?

AND last Fall, I felt very strongly that I needed to make some family memories 
by taking a vacation with my kids, my best friend, and my ex-husband. We started making plans to take a long awaited trip to Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. Nonrefundable tickets that were purchased as plans were made for this vacation.There will be more on this trip in another post. SO, let's look at this timing.

March - take Mental Health First Aid instructor training
May 15th - finally hired a medical billing company to handle my claims and billing
June 1st - got the key for my new office suite - painting and prepping for business ensues
June 15th - moved into the new office suite and out of previous office

June 29-July 15th - vacation
September 1st - planned start of new clinician at SHC

And these are just the highlights. Other things include ministry, including facilitating a 10 week spiritual transformation class and singing in the choir.

As I write this, there are so many things playing in my head. Financial difficulties due to so many of these decisions, as well as insurance delays, etc. The question begs to be asked, "What do I do to get myself out of this?" Do I apply to return to the ER? Will SHC make it through this transition? Did I make mistakes? Did I overstep what I believed God was calling me to do? Was I wrong? Was I not a good steward of what God has blessed me with? Finances have been the thorn in my side for many, many years. Over the past several, things had appeared to be improving, I go again. Sigh.

As I ponder all of this, I look around my personal life and my professional life. I see a minimum of six marriages of friends that are at huge risk for divorce. A couple of husbands are not living at home. I was a witness at several of their weddings. My heart is breaking for these families. A few weeks ago, I also found out that it is likely I have been manipulated and lied to by a long term client. A domestic violence situation that I missed. Words that were spoken to the wife that were the same as were spoken to me when I was still married. Actions reported by the wife brought back flashbacks of what I experienced. I often kind of pride myself in being able to identify DV in relationships. I missed this one. Does that mean I've been missing things in other situations? With other clients?

I was in a session the other day in which I was talking to the client about armoring up with the full armor of God. As I was speaking to the client, I flashed back to a conversation that God and I had a long time ago in which God asked me why I let someone have so much power over me. Reminding me that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil. That I am to buckle up with the belt of truth. As I was in the session, the words that crossed my mind were "why are you letting these issues have so much power over you?" The following question for myself was asking if I was remaining steadfast. Am I being blown and tossed about by the waves of life or standing firm with the belt of truth buckled around my waist?

What about relationships with family members? With friends? People I thought were friends who don't return calls or messages, or who walk away when I try to speak with them? "Friends" who attempt to slander my name, my reputation by choosing to make comments about my spiritual journey, my wisdom, or my ability to be a therapist? 
I have spent the past little while pondering all of these things through the perspective of being steadfast. Financial struggles, moving into a new office suite, relationships gone awry, physical health, etc.... I have recently found myself watching a few series' on Netflix that are political in theme. A phrase I hear spoken in several of them is "I serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States." That caused me to pause as I realized that I serve at the pleasure of the Lord Jesus Christ. WOW!! In all of these situations, the bottom line for me is, what would my Lord want me to do? How would my Commander in Chief (God) want me to respond? 
"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 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 5:5b-10 NIV
I am to be steadfast. I am to stand firm with the full armor of God in place. I am to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and I am to love my neighbor as myself. Be steadfast in what I know to be true. This weekend a dear friend got married. She asked me to participate in her wedding by none other than....singing a solo.... "You want me to do what?! Surely you don't want THAT?!" Though I was completely honored to be asked, I was terrified to do this. Sign a song? Sure. I can do that. But SING? I haven't sang a solo since my 21yr old was 2yrs old. It's been a long, long time. I'll spare you the details of the battle that ensued for the past 6 or so months. I'll just say that I did honor her request and an honor it was. I was quite proud of myself, actually. Not because I feel I did well, but because I let my heart sing for my friend and her husband. The affirming words from those in the wedding attendees meant a lot, however, what meant the most were the tears in my friend's eyes when she listened to the song they chose. Because I chose to be steadfast, I was able to give her the gift she most wanted from me. It wasn't about my voice. It was about my heart. Maybe this is the part that I need to embrace for the rest of the year. My prayer:
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!" ~ Psalm 51:1-2
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit." ~ Psalm 51:10-12
Did you notice what I saw in this passage? God's love is steadfast. Maybe this year has been about recognizing and embracing the love of my Father. That searching for His steadfast love will provide the healing, the validation, affirmation, and the guidance I've been seeking for so long. Something to definitely ponder.

all contents (c) 2017 Laura Inglis

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