Fear and Faith

I’m seven months into this journey of starting my own business. It hasn’t been easy and most days I’m asking myself what I even think I’m doing?

It’s easy to let the doubts and the fear scare me away from my vision and goals. I confess that too often I decide to quit and then I wake up the next morning, realize I can’t quit and I keep on keeping on.

Before I decided to start this business and was discerning what I should do I talked to the different people in my life who I can always count on for wisdom and good advice.

One night specifically I called a meeting with three of my friends. I told them all of my thoughts, I shared with them my heart, dreams and ideas. I told them this was crazy and probably a terrible idea.

They didn’t pressure me one way or another, they actually told me it was a good idea and they listened and asked good questions. They held space for me. They held my hand and prayed for me and what is to come. It was one of the most holy moments I’ve ever experienced. Even thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.

Not too long after that when I decided to start this next adventure I was already ready to be done (you could say perseverance isn’t always one of my strengths) and one of those friends said this:

“Don’t uproot in fear what you have planted in faith.”

That has become my mantra. Fear is almost always why I want to quit. Fear has a way of screaming across my soul that what I want to do doesn’t matter and that I’m not the one capable of doing it. Fear has a sneaky way of planting those seeds of doubt and reminding you often of how you could fail.

I don’t love to fail. I mean most people don’t want to fail, but my whole life if I thought I would fail at something I just wouldn’t do it. It’s a terrible way to live and I’m slowly unlearning that habit. A fear of failure will shut us down and not allow us to make the mistakes and take the chances we need to in order to fully live and be who we are meant to be. We can’t listen to the fear.

Fear screams where faith whispers.

If I silence the fear and go against the urge to quit it all, I hear that still, small voice that whispers peace and reassurance across my soul.

The voice that reminds me that I didn’t come to this decision lightly. That even if my business fails, I’m not a failure because I am so much more than a business venture I decided to try. It reminds me that my value and worth doesn’t come from what I do, that’s not who I am.

And I remember that most things worth doing will make you afraid. If there’s not a little bit of fear involved, is it really even worth it?

So here’s to doing things that make us afraid - may we try them wholeheartedly and celebrate the failure as much as the success because at least we tried and there’s always something to learn.

May we use the fear to ignite our passion rather than let it smother it.

May we quiet the fear and create space for the whispers of faith.

May we never uproot in fear what we have planted in faith.

If you’re interested in learning more about my business you can find out more here. Or if you want to stay up to date and receive more blog posts like this subscribe here. Thank you for reading!

Faith Nashville TN Praying Hands

How Knowing Yourself Helps You Practice Self-Care {Podcast}

Y'all I got to cross something off my bucket list!! I was the guest on a podcast last month. I have fallen in love with the podcast medium and podcasts fill my ear buds pretty much daily so the chance to be on a podcast was something I've wanted to do.

When I heard about Our Daily Rest, I was so excited to be a part of it. Matt Heffner started Our Daily Rest to help people cultivate a life of restfulness, wellness, and balance. After learning more about him and the mission and vision behind Our Daily Rest I knew we would have a lot to talk about.

I always love talking to like-minded people about self-care and we had a great conversation. I talked about the Enneagram and how that contributes to our personal growth and can inform our self-care. I also realized after listening back that I have a loud laugh...so if you don't mind self-care and Enneagram talk with a little bit of too loud laughing you should definitely take a listen! 

You can listen to the show here. Or if you're a regular podcast listener you can look up the Our Daily Rest podcast on your favorite podcast app and find my episode. 

If you listen and you want to dive deeper into the Enneagram or need someone to walk alongside you on your journey, I would love to chat. Just drop me a note and let me know!


Know Who You Are

Recently someone who knows me well told me this - You know who you are, so you know who you're not.

It's like a truth bomb hit me and my mind exploded a little bit.

It sounds so simple and duh, right? But it's a truth that's taken me a long time to realize for myself.

If we don't know who we are, we strive and strive and strive to be who we think we should be, or who the world thinks we should be, or we let our external circumstances define us.

We don't know who we are so we say yes too much. We lead a life that doesn't allow us to live into our strengths.

We aim to please and we'll do anything to make sure everyone else is satisfied and happy.

We morph into who everyone else needs and never recognize who we really are because it's not about what we want or who we are, it's about making sure everyone else has what they need.

Let me tell you...I am an expert chameleon. I can read people and situations so well that I can morph into whoever that person I am with at the moment needs me to be.

Need me to be positive, optimistic and cheery? Got it.

Need me to be mad and upset about something? Got it.

Need me to make your life easier and make it okay for you? Got it.

None of these things technically are bad...but they are when you're so focused on morphing into who everyone else needs - you forget who you are.

That was my story for a very long time. And I'm still a recovering chameleon/people pleaser/whatever you want to call it.

I used to get so stressed out when people from my different circles would get together at things like my birthday and I never knew why. I always laughed it off and just thought it was because I wanted to make sure everyone had someone they knew and no one felt left out...which is partly true.

But then I was listening to a podcast (The Road Back to You) about type 2s on the Enneagram (The Enneagram is a personality typing system that explains how we're wired and what motivates us) and it made sense. They said that type 2's so deeply want to belong that we can morph to be whoever it takes in order to belong to the group we're with. This makes it hard when groups overlap because we don't know which group to belong to. 

I didn't like when my different circles overlapped because I didn't know who I was supposed to be to them...if I was one way with these friends over here but then I felt like these people over here needed a different Abby...who am I supposed to be when they come together? 

I would literally make myself sick with anxiety about it.

I don't necessarily feel like I was totally inauthentic, but depending who I was with I was more opinionated or I made sure not to talk about certain things or I affirmed everything this person said or wouldn't get too talkative with this person...I just shifted to be the best person for that particular friend.

And it was killing me. I didn't know how to be my true self. I didn't really know I could be my true self. I was terrified that if I was just myself and no one felt like they were getting anything from me I wouldn't be worth knowing and I wouldn't belong anymore. 

I had to ask myself who am I really? I went through a rediscovery process of getting to know my true self.

I literally had to ask myself - do I even like this or did I just say I did because the people I was with liked it?

I spent time looking inward at my authentic self - recognizing who I truly am, acknowledging and accepting that I am exactly who God created me to be and that trying to be anything else was a waste of time. 

Sometimes when I think about all of this I am filled with shame, I berate myself and think about how weak I was that I allowed who I was to be dictated by other people and how easily I lost touch with myself. 

But then I remember to show myself grace. I remember that we're always in process. 

I felt like I was becoming who I am and unbecoming who I am not all at the same time. 

I let go of the shoulds and shed my chameleon skin. 

I realized that it takes courage to grow up to become who you really are like e.e. cummings says. 

I let go of the stigma that seeking help isn't okay and am proud of the hard work I've done through counseling.

I embraced tools like the Enneagram and practices like self-care to continue to cultivate my personal growth and self-awareness.

It's not easy and it's a continual process that I'm still engaged in, but it's so worth it.

Because one of the bravest things we can do is be who we are, so we know who we're not.

So today...

May you be reminded today to be who you are.

Because who you are is beautiful, strong, courageous and enough.

May you remember that you are who you are and that is enough.

You are enough because you were created to be loved and to love. 

May you say no to the shoulds and to the temptation to cover up your truth. 

May you take care of yourself and show yourself grace.

May you not back down from the rewarding journey of being your authentic, whole, true self.

May you rest in your God-breathed worth and know you are one who is dearly loved. 

{I mentioned the Enneagram and the transformational power it has had on my life. The Enneagram is a dynamic personality typing system that helps us recognize self-defeating patterns so we can be our true selves. I'm an Enneagram Coach and if you're interest in learning more I would love to journey alongside you toward wholeness and self-awareness. If you're interested contact me here.}

What I've Learned {Winter Edition}

Each season Emily P. Freeman does a link up about what we learned that season. It's a great practice that forces me to pay attention to things I may not notice if I wasn't being intentional. 

A lot has happened over the last few months of my life, it's been a time of change and transition. There have been lots of good adventures and I've learned a lot. 

Here are 10 things I've learned this winter:

1. I have too many books. I decided to switch my office and bedroom so that I had a more dedicated space to work. I have loved it, but it meant moving a lot of things including a ton of books. I didn't realize how many we had! I tried to get rid of some, but I Marie Kondo"ed" them all and they basically all bring me joy so I kept most of them. 

2. I can put a desk together. This was also a result of switching my office and my bedroom. I'm not great at reading directions so assembling anything is usually not a good idea for me. I usually just look to see where I think things should go and go with that. You can imagine how that ends. Even though I really tried to read every step I still did it wrong. So I guess I should be honest and say I can put a desk together with the help of Jenn...who is way better at following directions.

3. Talking about shame lessens its power over you. When you actually acknowledge the way shame is affecting you it makes you feel freedom. It makes you feel less alone. It's like letting go of secret you didn't really know you were keeping. I recently recognized I was feeling a lot of shame about something that I don't easily talk about. I started talking about it for the first time and I have experienced so much freedom. I feel like I can breathe easier, but I didn't know I was holding my breath.

4. When we're silent about issues that matter we're still saying something. There's a lot going on in our country right now...obviously. The easiest option may be to say or do nothing, but when we do that, we're saying something. Our silence communicates that we're okay with what's going on. We must speak out against hate, against anything that dehumanizes others, anything that oppresses people or pushes anyone to the margins - which is what is happening right now. I was lucky enough to attend the Women's March on Washington to say something about how I feel about the rhetoric that our President and others are spitting out. It was encouraging to see so many people refuse to be silent.

5. I'm not the best at claiming I'm starting my own business. When people ask me what I do now I don't always remember to mention my business...I know, I know it's problematic. I'm working on it. Awareness is the first time, right?

6. You can't smile or have your hair over your shoulders in passport photos. I renewed my passport and went to get my mugshot...I mean my picture taken to send in with it. Let's just say there's a reason the picture is not included in this post.

7. My sister's backyard is beautiful. While I was out there for Leah and Josh's wedding, I spent some time at their house for the first time and it's a breathtaking view...water, pine trees, mountains. Basically heaven on earth. 

8. Saying yes to things that scare you is worth it. I've been on this crazy journey of starting a business for a couple months now. I'm still not 100% sure it's the right thing or that I've really made any progress, but the things I've learned, the people I've met and the things I've experienced during this time have been transformational. Also, I said yes to sponsoring a Trevecca trip to Croatia in May and even though it scares me a bit, I know it'll be worth it! 

9. A is for Activist is a great children's book. Em got Jonah this and I read it to him lots while I was in Seattle. If you're looking for a gift that not only teaches the ABC's but teaches about caring for others, standing up for justice and reminds us that "an injury to one is an injury to all" this is perfect. 

10. Lauryn Hill can show up to a concert on time. Ms. Lauryn Hill does not have the best record of showing up to concerts on time, if at all, so I was so happy she decided to for her Nashville show! It's been on my bucket list to see her live and she did not disappoint. One of the best shows I've ever been to - even if we had to wait it would have been worth it!

Winter was a great season (even though it was basically spring/summer in Nashville this winter - where were the snow days!?!?). Tomorrow I begin the practice again of paying attention to what I'm learning so that I don't miss out on the big, small, silly, practical or sentimental things that are hiding in my every day.

I would love to know something you've learned this winter - leave me a comment and let me know!

28 Things

I can’t believe it's that time again. Another year, another birthday. I have to say...28 was a pretty great year. It definitely wasn’t easy and I learned a lot, but it was good. Way better than 27. Every year when I sit down to do my annual birthday post, I always wonder if I’ll be able to come up with enough things, but I always do. It’s crazy that I started this tradition when I turned 23 and it’s continued every year since. It's like my own digital scrapbook over the years.

I always look back on the other years to see what’s changed and realize there are some similar themes that carry through like traveling, friends, family, books and music. I guess those are good indicators that no matter how much older I get those are constants in my life.

So since each year the lists keep getting longer (obviously)...here are 28 things from my 28th year of life.

1. I read 57 books. I decided to keep track of the number of books I read this year and 50 was my goal so I was happy to meet it! A few of my favorites: Learning to Walk in the DarkRoadmap to ReconciliationThe Royal We and The Year of YesMy goal for year 29? 65.

2. I've found the types of exercising I actually like. Kickboxing and yoga are my favorite. You don't have to wear shoes for either - which I love. Kickboxing makes my brain shut off for an hour, yoga calms me down for an hour.

3. I did a lot of traveling and fun things. Jenn and I took a trip out west where we road tripped from San Francisco up to Seattle and we went to NYC (I still can't believe we saw Jimmy Fallon!). I also went to LA, Charlotte and Asheville for the first time, went to a music festival in Missouri and took some trips to Florida and Michigan. Lots of fun times!

4. I had to do a lot of things this year that I wasn't good at it. I wish I could say I handled it all with grace and ease, but not so much. It's hard for me to do things I'm not good at, I usually quit or I just don't do them in the first place. That wasn't an option this year and I can say that it's character building and good for you to do things you're not good at.

5. I attended the hope*writers workshop. It's one of the best decisions I made this year. hope*writers is a writing community I'm a part of and their workshop was the catalyst that helped me decide to...

6. I decided to start my own business. Maybe this should be #1 because it's kinda a big deal, but if I think about it too much I freak out a little because it terrifies me. I'll be starting a Personal Growth Coaching business where I'll offer individual coaching, workshops and retreats with the goal of walking with individuals, groups and organizations toward wholeness. (If you're interested in hearing more sign up for my e-letter here!) I want to help people live into who they were created to be in the healthiest way.

7. I made the decision to shut down my blog Just a Lump of Clay.  I didn't realize how this would impact me until I bought my new domain name for my business. I've been writing under the Just a Lump of Clay name for 11 years. Crazy! I'll still be writing, just over on my new website!

8. Sometimes I eat popcorn for dinner and I'm not sorry about it. Also, homemade popcorn on the stove made with coconut oil and melted butter and honey sprinkled on is the best.

9. Betsy got married! It was so fun to celebrate Betsy and Ryan and spend time with my whole family in Florida.

10. I did Whole 30. I wrote more about my experience here (it has been my most popular blog post!). It was really hard, but I'm glad I did it.

11. I learned how to accept love and help better this year. I've realized how I'm not great at accepting help or I feel a lot of shame if I'm not pouring out to others as much as I feel they're pouring into me. Being a "taker" is not something I do well. Sometimes we need to be poured into and accept that love or help so that we can pour out more later. (Basically self-care 101)

12.  GIFs are my love language. Anything can be made better with a well-placed GIF.

13. I fell in love with the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a personality typing system that has been the most influential tool I've ever used for personal growth. I'm actually taking a course now to become an Enneagram coach and will be integrating that in my business. If you want to know more about the Enneagram and how you can use it in your own personal growth - let's talk!

14. I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids. Also, another great decision I made this year. Of course, I wrote about my experience, and it was a rollercoaster of emotions.

15. Let me tell you, I have the greatest friends. I could talk all day about how the people I get to do life with. I got closer to an incredible groups of ladies who are deeply authentic and have become like family. I went on Friendcation Part II with Michigan friends reminding me that no matter the distance or time that separates us we can always pick up where we left off. I've had friends come visit from near and far and I've seen relationships go deeper. The people I get to do life with really are the best and they make me better.

16. I learned I need a good balance between traveling and being home. I think I found my sweet spot that if I stay in Nashville for more than six weeks I start getting the itch to go somewhere. On the reverse side, I was only home 4 weekends from September to December and it was rough. I'm too much of a homebody for that.

17. I started using an electronic toothbrush. I HATED it at first. Then I got used to it after about a week and now I'm convinced for the last 28 years my teeth were never really that clean.

18. Podcasts. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE podcasts. A few new ones I started listening to this year: The Road Back to You, Smartest Person in the Room, Code Switch and Off Camera.

19. I still love being an aunt. I maybe love it more than I thought I did last year. With Leah's wedding coming up I'll "officially" add three more kiddos to the list.

20. I learned a lot at my new jobs. I went into my new jobs not sure what I was doing. Luckily I was blessed with two great bosses who were patient through my fumbling and who I've learned a lot from.

21. I started using the Cash app. Do you use this? If you don't, you should. I'm probably many years behind on this one.

22. Music. This year consisted of some incredible live shows - ADELE (!!!!), Johnnyswim and Ingrid Michaelson and David Ryan Harris were some of my favorites. Also, people I've had on repeat/my soundtrack from the year would include: The Avett Brothers, Chance the Rapper, Andra Day, Adele, David Ryan Harris, Ingrid Michaelson and...

23. HAMILTON. I probably definitely am obsessed with all things Hamilton.  For those of you that don't know (in case you live under a rock) Hamilton is a Broadway Musical about Alexander Hamilton's life. It's creative and brilliant. The Hamilton Mix-tape also released this year and I've had that on repeat. I'm actually going to see Hamilton in May and I CANNOT WAIT!

24. As I made this list I realized so many were about food. So I consolidated them: I've started eating oatmeal for breakfast almost every morning. Chicken stir fry and curry are my favorite go-to meals that are easy and delicious. I don't mind mayonnaise as much as I used to. I stopped eating dairy this year and it was another best decision of the year decision.

25. The election happened. The lowest point of the year. Honestly, I still have a hard time articulating the grief and pain that I've felt following it. And it's not because of being a "sore loser", but rather the whole - a misogynist, racist, liar, reality TV star, bully who also throws temper tantrums like a toddler and makes his opinion known over tweets that don't even make sense is about to be the president.

26. Dreams come true. A few years ago I started dreaming about hosting a retreat where people are able to get away from their every day lives and engage in life-giving and reflective activities. Almost two years after I wrote that desire down in my journal, I was leading a retreat for 6 ladies at the same place I wrote that idea down. And now I'm building a whole business around this idea. Surreal.

27. Renewing my library card and buying a Kindle on sale was another good decision. Checking out ebooks to my Kindle from the library has been great and has made me read so much more.

28. There is peace in the hovering. In Spiritual Direction at one point this last year I asked God what is this season of life about? I very clearly saw a picture of me just kinda hovering over life. It wasn't a direct answer, but a very clear feeling that while I may feel uncertain of what's next or what exactly I was doing, it was exactly where I needed to me. I was meant to be still and stay present right where I was, while at the same time hovering over this space knowing that I would set down on the next thing when it was time. 28 was about hovering waiting for what's next and 29 is about settling down and doing the work.

28 was a really good year. I grew a lot and feel like my life became richer and deeper. If I could pick two words to summarize 28 they would be Fun and Growth. The last year really laid the groundwork for what's ahead.

Here's to year #29!