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, yet...here 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

CONGRATULATIONS!!

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 imagined...in 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 best...at 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 do....seek 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

We HAVE to do SOMETHING SOON


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 celebration...as 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