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2.23.2015

Calling: I think I have found mine, what about you?


What is your “calling”?
[A.K.A. Why you're breathing.]

Merriam-Webster defines calling as:
-a stong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work
-the work that a person does or should be doing
-a strong inner pulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence
-the characteristic cry of a female cat in heat

Do you know what yours is? 
Hopefully not a crying cat.

Howard Schultz had a vision for a coffee shop on every corner where people would gather, and Starbucks was born. 

Martin Luther King had "a dream that one day this nation will rise up and 
live out the true meaning of its creed: 
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

Mother Teresa dedicated her life to 
"wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.”

Frederick Buechner says, “the place God calls you to is where your 
deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet.”

Perry Noble, Pastor of New Spring Church, says our 
primary calling is the great commission, sharing the Good News of Jesus. 
Our secondary calling is how we go about doing that.

I admire people with vision, dreams, and callings. And, I agree with Mr. Noble. But what about our secondary calling then?  


How do we know what we are living for? 

When it comes to calling....
Some people get one. 
Some get many. 
Most of us are searching. 
And few don't care.

I have always been bit envious of people that know how to activate their calling. If I'm being honest, sometimes I want to borrow or copy people's calling cause I am too afraid of failing at my own.  People who know their calling seem so confident. They appear to know who they are, and knowing yourself makes you magnetic.

It think a calling starts as a whisper, a burden, or a problem that needs solving. It usually is tied to change. And change is painful. Calling meets you right in the face of fear.  It will involve risk, vulnerability, and criticism. But something inside of you knows it is worth it. My current calling makes me cry and sweat when I start talking about it. Like I am down right scared.

And if you are one of the vast majority of people still searching, no worries. Google it and you will quickly find out you are not alone.  There are thousands of articles, tests, and steps to discover your calling.  And while those may be helpful, I think discovering it is a mixed bag of trial and error, determination, skill, who you know, and who's will you are pursuing, yours or God's.

I have written about this before, but for years I have felt a stirring in my heart and mind to share our story more publicly. Not because I am anything special, but exactly because I am not.  I'm trusting that it is currently my calling....but the truth is, I'm not quite sure. The only thing I can do is try.  Just do it.  Stop talking about it, and jump.

I have seen how God has used our story to bring people closer to Himself, encourage someone who has been struggling, move people to compassion, shape the way they interact with people who have disabilities, and help shine a light on what it's like to live and love in the midst of broken and painful circumstances.  

When I write, I feel God is giving a voice for the voiceless. Bursting open the secret, and many times misunderstood, world of disability. My blog gives readers exposure to life on Boyce Lane.  And when people read, it gives them permission to stare.  And the longer they stare, the more normal we start to become. And everybody wins. God gets the glory and people see the world a bit differently. Both of these wins bring even more purpose to Jayden’s life and Brooklyn's life, and to our journey. This is my purpose in the pain. This is why I want as many people to look as possible, even if I have to endure the stares. 

My 2015 resolution is to be "all in." To lean into this current calling.  Many people have told me I should continue to write.  A few have even said I should write a book, which is scary, and hard, and quite frankly, makes me want to puke.  I feel so inadaquate.  But I am learning it is less about talent, and all about obedience.

Why do we sabotage the voice inside of us with words like, "I can't" or "I'm not", when God whispers "you can" and "you are?"

At times, a calling is more of a burden than a blessing. It's something you have to do, not usually what you want to do.  Something bigger than yourself.  Something that freaks the crap out of you. So if God is "calling" me to write, I think I should.  And if He is proud, that’s all that matters. And if He wants to use our life to work in the world, I am honored to be a small part of what He is up to.  

Risk and all.  Sweaty pits and all.   
Terrified of putting myself out there. 
Vunerable. Messy. Naked. Afraid.

What if you never try to do the thing that God is calling you to do? 
What will the world miss?
What if you believed that voice inside of you, whispering you to take a leap?

I have been trying to sort this out in a car analogy with Justin.  Something we share from our childhood is our love for matchbox cars.  I feel like my life as it is right now is like my favorite matchbox car. I love that beautiful thing. I push it back and forth with my hand, I sleep with it, and I take it everywhere I go. Sure, it is a bit beat up and broken, but it is AWESOME.  


But something isn't settled in my soul.  I feel like God keeps tapping me on the shoulder.  He keeps whispering, like a great Dad would, "I am so proud of you." "Thank you for loving the life I have given you." "Stefanie, I will love you and be proud of you either way. But, if you trust me, and give me your matchbox car, I have something waiting for you just around the corner." And, I am so scared to give him my little life.  I am so scared to trust Him.  But, I sense that behind that corner is a real car. Not a matchbox one but a real, get in it and drive kind of car.  I feel like I am holding onto this safe, familiar life I love, but God wants me to surrender it so I can share in even greater gifts He has for my life.

So this is me putting myself out there. If there is ever a blog you read that resonates with you or you think people need to read, I would be honored if you would share it.  The easiest way to do this is find a post you like, open it, and share it on your favorite social media site, like Facebook or Twitter. Click here if you don't know how to do that. 

When you like the blog post, the link appears more frequently in people's newsfeed. 

If you comment, the exposure goes up even more. 

If you click "share" AND write a personal comment about why you like it or why your friends should read it, Facebook notices it and it gets the most exposure on people's new feeds. 

This is with anything you share, not just my blog. You can also sign up to get my blog posts right into email and forward them to friends of you are not on social media a lot. 

I am also excited to announce that I will be launching a website with an easier .com to remember in the next month.  I am even opening myself up to speaking engagements.

Trust me, most of me would like to hide! 
I would love to avoid exposing my heart, my tears, and my weakness. 
I would love to avoid sifting through the pain and the lessons altogether.
I would love to keep it all to myself. 

But, I don't think that is what God is asking me to do right now.  At least not yet.

And as far as calling goes....
I know who I am and who I am becoming.
I am a writer.
I can share my story in front of an audience. Which makes me a story teller.
I am a lot of other things too.
I have a message.
His message of love, and pain, and death, and renewal. A story of courage, hope, and tension.


I am called to share it.


2.16.2015

past the wishing


Have you ever been surprised?

Maybe it was a birthday party, a wonderful gift, or special honor.

I typically don't like surprises. I think is a "type A" control issue. They make me vulnerable and nervous.  Well, I like them when they're over, just not when my friends are giggling and grinning, and I have no idea why.

Anyway, a few years ago, I got a surprise.  My dear friend, Kelly Hubert, nominated me for GIVE LOVE.  It is a special blessing for a woman who is at a low point, who is in the process of overcoming impossible odds, or who has stepped out to do something brave. 

Isn't that so nice?!

So a few of my girlfriends kidnapped me for what I thought was going to be a fun sleepover with a mani/pedi day, but turned into a life-changing moment on a stage.  I'll be honest, I was a little suspect when we pulled up to Rockford First and there was a women's conference happening.  This wasn't a nail salon! And as we sat in the audience, the lights dimmed, the video began to play, and the tears began.

The Original Conference stole my heart that day. Not because they gave me something, but because they were looking to give. So this year, I just had to make sure you got your official invitation. I know I am so excited to be going this year because the theme, past the wishing, is right where I am.

Who's with me?!




Jen writes:


Hello Beautiful!

It was a warm, sunny day last May when a small group of girls and I gathered around a table at our local Starbucks for what we thought would be a light-hearted meeting to look at design ideas for the 2015 Original Conference. As every girl gathering goes, we began with small talk as we sipped our coffee, laughed, and shared comical stories of how our crazy morning routines had unfolded. As our meeting went on, we began to speak to the content and message of this invitation, and what ensued was an incredibly divine moment which set the course for a journey that would profoundly impact each of our lives. 

In the course of discovering what we wanted the conference to be about, we were finding out what we as individuals wanted to be about. One by one we ended up sharing how there were dreams, goals, aspirations, and ideas that each of us had for our relationships, families, careers, callings — many of which were just wishes at the time. Nothing, or very little, was being done about them. In the busyness and craziness of our lives, we were each left with a mounting, muddled list of goals, regrets, wants, and needs that were just sitting on the back burner of an already full life. 

Sound familiar?

As we continued to share with deep honesty, the hustle and bustle of the coffee shop seemed to become muted background noise to an oh-so- important place in time. We all leaned in to listen intently to one another and huddled close for this holy moment, which included a few tears, napkins as tissue, and the occasional giggle as we realized this was all happening in the most unlikely of places at the most unlikely time, and isn’t that just like our God.

At the end of our time together, we knew that this was just the beginning. This wasn’t just going to be a nice, emotional conversation that took place between girlfriends that would be chalked up as a sweet memory. We were ready to do something. We all committed to jump on the journey of intentional living together and just see where it would take us. We decided to move past the wishing.

This, my friend, is the backdrop of this year’s conference. I have seen God so beautifully weave together a profound, life-changing message that He wants to communicate to us this year. A message that has deeply changed this small group of girls and will extend to all who attend conference this year. I couldn’t be any more excited about all God is going to do! Please don’t miss out!

I encourage you to do everything you can to get your cute self to Rockford this April 23-25, 2015.  You will not regret it. Something powerful and amazing happens when we take time to separate ourselves from the everyday normal and focus on Christ. Jeremiah 29:13,14 is a promise that is true for us today – “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD.

So, invite your girlfriends, mom, daughters and sisters and plan to attend Original Conference 2015 as we venture Past The Wishing… For details or to register, visit: www.originalconference.com.

See you in April!

Love, Jen DeWeerdt
xoxo

2.06.2015

transitions, graduations, and change

Volunteering at Laremont School PTO Fundraiser


Change can be scary. 
Messy.
And not conducive to a type A personality like me.

So needless to say, I have been wrestling with my emotions as I transition at work. For the past decade, I have had the honor of walking through countless transitions with students.  And in a few weeks, I am finally "graduating."  In the midst of my personal transition, I have been thinking about all the lives that have intersected mine.

Goes kinda like this. We get a batch of freshman in.  They are so little. The boys have baby faces and skinny limbs. I can look them in the eye.  The girls are deathly insecure in their own skin, but come off as overly confident.  They run in pairs or packs like little puppies.

They are cautious. With me. With one another.
But we spend time together anyway.
We share a conversation or two, some laughs and a campfire.
And then slowly, it happens.
I am their leader. They are my students.

I fall in love with this awkward, gangly group of misfits.
I watch them make a host of mistakes that they could have avoided if they just would have listened…..
But that isn’t how we learn, is it?
So, I love them anyway.  
Watch them grow and mature.  
Cry a bit when they disappear. 
Cry a bit when they come back. 
Celebrate wins, grieve failures. 
Together.
And then slowly, it happens.
Friendship.

They discover where the line is, and stand right on it.
Some cross over it.
Some dangle on the edge of it.
Apologize their way back to the right side of it.

They ask questions. Good questions. Deep questions.
I try to point them to Jesus.
I meet their parents. 
And really like them. We realize we are on the same team.

Boys now tower over me in men’s bodies.
Girls are beginning to understand the power of theirs.

They love. They serve. They give.
They eat my food. Play with my kids. And TP my house.
And then slowly, it happens.
We become a little family.

They complain. They act too cool. They break down.
They endure pain.  Real pain.
They get their first battle wound from the world.
And their second and third.
So I sit with them. I walk with them. In the silence.
I speak light into the dark corners, cause they can’t quite see past it, yet.
They are busy constructing their first alter.
They decide if God is who He says He is. 
Even when they don’t feel it.
And then slowly, it happens.
They are my sons and daughters.

They keep me young.
I help them grow up.
I laugh with them.
I am challenged to be better from them.
I mess with them.
I cry with them.
I hold them.
I punch them.
I call them out.
I thank them.
I tell them who I see them becoming.
And then before I know it, it happens.
I graduate them.

It’s hard loving teenagers. 
It’s hard letting them go.
And then, it happens. 
I get a new bunch of misfits.  

The last four years, this particular group of misfits have stolen my heart.  These men and women have given me more stress and more joy than I can express.  I think the WORLD of them. They are not the next generation of leadership. They ARE leaders.  They are world changers.

I am going to miss them.
But before I know it, it happens.
They come back.  

They are young adults. 
College students. 
Married adults.
Parents.
And youth leaders.
And I am still, watching them grow and mature.

Transitions are messy. 
Oh, but there is such beauty in messy things.

March 1 will be my official last day.  Transition day, actually. I have the opportunity to stay at Immanuel in a new position that I am so excited about.  Thank you to Josh, for believing in me and giving me opportunities to grow in this position.  Thank you to all the leaders over the years, I love you all like family. You all teach me so much about servant leadership.  And, to my decade of misfits, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your story. I am humbled and honored.
And before you know it, 
transition happens. 

-STEFANIE


What transitions or changes are you facing in your life? 


I would love to hear about them! Post them here or on Facebook!
#transitionsonboycelane