40 Days Deeper – Day 1: Grounded

Hi! In case this is your first time checking out the StepIn2Purpose blog, let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Andrea, and I am many things – a wife, mom, professor, seminary student, early stage business owner, child of God, sister, daughter, and of course – a writer. At the very start 2017, after a very rough ending to 2016, I wrote the book 40 Days Lighter: A Devotional Journey for Women Determined to Live Free.

Inspired by a Lenten-season challenge called “40 Bags in 40 Days”, I went on a mission to declutter my closet, and ended up on a very personal soul-searching journey. What I discovered over the course of that 40 days, was that the physical weight and clutter I was working so diligently to remove, were merely symptoms of the mental, emotional and spiritual weight I had been lugging around for years. I decided to blog and share this journey, and as I did, I realized that I was not alone – there were others who had unknowingly been carrying unwanted and unnecessary “invisible” weight for a very long time.

For me, taking the time to carefully examine the memories and emotions I was carrying revealed spaces of disappointment, resentment, and a boatload of fear I didn’t even know was there. I can remember sitting down one day to write, and suddenly a near-drowning experience I had as a five year old, suddenly came flooding back to me (pun intended). I felt as though, in some ways, I was that little girl, unable to catch my breath, or find anything to hold onto in my adult life.

(You can check out the FREE download of the first 5 days of the devotional when you click HERE and subscribe!)

As that 40 day journey came to a close (though I was very clear in the last day’s devotion, that day 40 was not the end), I was lighter, inside and out!

Which brings us to today…

Not too long after that journey ended, my book was published and released in early 2018, and I spent time expressing my gratitude to God for all of the changes that had taken place, I realized that I faced a new challenge – staying free.

Over the last year, I’ve learned that it’s one thing to declutter, learn new habits, lose weight, or simply take the leap into pursuing purpose, and another thing to create and develop sustainable and personalized systems that help you live free – long term. I realized that without the necessary structure in place – in my heart and in my home, in my work and in my studies – I would simply fall back into some old patterns of thinking.

If there is one thing I know for sure, for a tree to grow and remain for many years, its roots must grow deep before it grows tall – otherwise, what will sustain it as it begins to bud and bear fruit? Without deep roots, parts of the tree would dry up, or a strong wind may uproot it all together.

I get how that tree feels.

So today, I begin a new journey – I’m going deeper. I’m committed to being fully grounded – in my faith, my family, my friendships, and my future.

Won’t you join me as we go 40 days deeper?

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:17-19, ESV

40 Days Lighter – Day 18: Room for Improvement

I had a humbling experience today.

Today was the start of my on ground seminary course for the spring semester, and I will tell you in no uncertain terms – I was NOT happy about having to take it. An Introductory course focused mostly on writing and research (at least that’s what I gathered from the description), was redundant for me at this point. I have an MBA, I write all the time, I know how to do research, and I’m pretty good in the editing department. 

I know – it sounds so arrogant – but in truth, this was my attitude going into the class.

I sat down, ready to “endure” 6 hours of what I  was sure would be a repeat of everything I’ve learned in my college career about writing.

I should have known better. 

Since starting my seminary journey last fall, I haven’t had a single course, no matter the subject, that hasn’t challenged me to my core. Every. Single. Class. Has lead to some “Aha!” moment about who I am, where I’m going in life, what I believe, and what on earth I should be doing with these gifts of mine.

I would soon find out, today’s class would be no different. 

Everything seemed to line up with my initial assessment of the course, until the professor spoke these words that bypassed my pride, sidestepped my assumptions, leaped over my intellect, and slammed straight into spirit.

“You are the people who will be publishing to share the Christian faith. And I have to prepare you for it!”

Arrested by this revelation of the deeper purpose of our time together, and yanked from my self-appointed pedestal, I had no other choice but to assume the posture of the eager student – humble and hungry to learn what I did not know.

In that moment, I let go of my “expertise”, my “experience”, and my “credentials” to free myself to receive new transformational insight on writing well. 

And the floodgates opened. 

As I opted to move from spectator to eager note taker, I found such profound truth in the simplicity of what was being taught – seeing the mechanics of academic writing with new eyes.

How many times have we been in the place to receive something new, something of great value to our purpose and call, yet because it appears simplistic and familiar, we treat it with disdain, missing the possibility of a transformational moment?

It is my sincere prayer that I won’t make this mistake again. I aim to see the world around me with new eyes, fresh perspective, understanding that even in the simple things, God is working His greater purpose out in my life.

This time, I needed to let go of “me”, so that I could receive more from Him!

 

40 Days Lighter – Day 17: Is It in the Right Pile?

Hangers

In my efforts to declutter my closet and dresser, I have repeatedly come across items that I was, at first, either sure I wanted to keep, or I was seriously considering throwing out. This internal wrestling with myself became cumbersome, so I followed the instructions of decluttering expert Marie Kondo, and simply pulled everything out into the open, covering my bed in clothes and accessories.

Now, with all of my belongings in one heap, I was able to form 2 more accurate piles: what I loved and would keep, what I no longer needed/wanted and would remove. That second pile was then split into two more piles – items in excellent condition to be donated, and a “straight to the trash” pile. I would never have guessed the amount of will power it actually takes to  properly prioritize one’s clothing.

I had jeans that I haven’t worn in years – whether it was because I was too big, or they were too small, no need to point the finger – but I still struggled to put them in the donate or trash pile! I wish that I could say that they were only a size or two away, but I found a pair of jeans that were upwards of 3 sizes from my being wearable, so even with my recent weight loss adventure, it would be quite a while before I could even squeeze a leg in them!

I asked myself why it was so difficult to part with items that I was not using, and simply did not need. I came up with a variety of answers – one pair was the most comfortable jeans I had ever owned; another was a design and color that just have not seen anywhere recently. I had tops that – if I’m being painfully transparent – were a style that I liked…on other people… but I probably wore once… or would never actually get around to wearing. Because sometimes, we wish we could embrace someone else’s sense of style…right?

As I thought about my reasons for hesitation with my clothes, I realized that these were often the same excuses that sometimes keep us from making transformative decisions in life. This particular role, or way of living is so comfortable. That’s just my style, just the way I am. Or the opposite – I want to try doing it like “So and so”, because they did it that way and they were successful – not realizing that another person’s style or life will never be the “right fit” for us. 

Some of us are afraid to make the difficult decision to let relationships, jobs, downright messy and unhealthy situations go – because we’re afraid we will never find another one like it. Even though that person isn’t helping us grow, even though that job is clearly dead end, even if our very future is in jeopardy, we simply can’t let it go because it’s familiar.

Tonight, I am challenging myself, as I encourage you, to make sure that we are properly – and prayerfully – prioritizing our life, so that we can be positioned to fulfill our purpose!