Lost and Not Yet Found {Coffee for Your Heart}

Lose YourselfAs I often do, earlier this week I had my Pandora musical station playing in the background while I was working. I was barely paying attention to what was playing when these words floated into my consciousness. I checked in and discovered they were from the new Broadway version of the musical Aladdin. Of course they are! Lines like this one are why I love musicals so much. They will often have these lines that cause my breathe to catch in my throat.

These words, in particular, resonate so deeply with me. I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis since transitioning from my full-time job into the world of entrepreneurship. Add to that a strong sense that the Father is inviting me to explore some of the more ancient practices of my faith and I am in a space for which I have no road map to follow. I only know that I’m supposed to be here but where here is and more importantly where here will take me is completely unknown to me.

Feeling Lost

If I’m going to be truly honest, I feel a little lost right now. Not in a bad, “it’s scary and I want to run back home” way (although I have had those thoughts). More in an “I’m in really unfamiliar territory and though I know I’m supposed to be here, I still don’t know exactly where I am going”. I’m a planner and all these unknowns are a bit scary for me. I am confident in my skills, confident that I have what it takes to do this work well but as I step further and further down this road, I am having to craft a new definition of who I am.

I hear these words from the Aladdin musical and I breathe in a little bit of courage, able to rise to the challenge of CHOOSING to let myself get lost. CHOOSING to be at peace with all these unknowns. On purpose, CHOOSING to head into this adventure with no clear sense of what will come but staying open to the possibility of whatever might come. Because, as another line in the song reminds me “after a million miles or so we’ll [I’ll] find out who we are [I am]”.

Being Courageous

I love the idea of discovering new things about who I am; new things I’m capable of doing I never imagined doing; and experiencing things I never dreamed I would experience. Life is meant to be an adventure. I have one life, one wild and precious life, and I want to live that life to the fullest. If being lost for a little while is the path I have to take to unfold into my best self, then I’m willing to get lost; confident that in letting myself get lost, I’ll find out who I am.

You might be feeling lost today too. Maybe you are in a transition of some sort or maybe you’re at the start of something new and you can’t see the forest for the trees. I want to encourage you to see in this all the possibilities of what could come to you here. All the things you can learn and discover about yourself. I know feeling lost is scary but there is a promise in Isaiah that you can cling to help you hold onto your courage.

Whether you turn to the right or to the life, in your ear you will hear a voice behind you, saying “this is the way; walk in it” Isaiah 30:21 NIV  

So be strong and very courageous today my fellow lost traveler. We may be lost for awhile longer but after a million miles or so we just might find out we’re home.

From my heart to yours,

Makeda Holley-Gerth-Button-250x250This post is part of the Coffee for Your Heart link up with the lovely Holley Gerth, sharing a little bit of mid-week encouragement to help you get through the day.

Kindness and Redemption

This is the final post in my mini-series on the thread of redemption found in some of my favorite musicals. You can click here to read how it all started and here and here to read the other posts in this series. I’ve saved the best for last. Well maybe not but more than the other two the theme of redemption is easy to see in this musical.

les-miserablesI first saw Les Miserables on Broadway when I was in High School. Growing up in NYC, and being a lover of musicals, I saw my fair share of shows on Broadway. But watching Les Mis captured my heart and soul in ways I have never been able to fully articulate. It remains my all-time favorite stage musical. I have seen it more times than I can count and know the lines of every single song yet I STILL weep whenever I watch (I wept writing this post). The music is that powerful and the story that moving.

You Are NOT Just A Number

In the opening number Javert refers to Valjean simply by his prisoner number, 24601. Valjean responds by giving his full name but throughout the movie Javert sees him only as a number. He never sees the person behind the number. Valjean rightly states, a little later in the musical, that they gave him “a number and murdered Valjean”.

It’s easy to relegate someone to just a number. What size clothes does she wear? How much money does he make? We give someone a number and then judge them based on that number. But when we do, we miss out on everything about who someone truly is. The essence of a person is lost when they become nothing more than a number.

To the mom who can’t lose the weight she gained bringing life into this world, you are NOT the number on that scale. To the dad working too many long hours, missing the best parts of his children’s lives, you are MORE THAN the size of your bank account.

Society does a hell of a job trying to convince us to measure our worth by things external to us. My challenge is that you stand up to that notion and realize that your worth cannot be found in a smaller dress size, a bigger bank account or a larger house. You are of intrinsic worth and value and nothing can or should take that away from you. You are NOT just a number

One Simple Act of Kindness

A beat down, worn out Valjean is shown kindness by a priest, who invites him into his home, feeds him a hot meal and offers him a warm place to sleep. To repay his kindness, Valjean steals from the priest. When he is caught, however, the priest tells the police that he gave the silver to Valjean. He then tells Valjean he must “use this silver to become an honest man”. Something of the hardness in Valjean breaks at the kindness of this old man and he decides to change his life.

Years later, after assuming a new identity, Valjean learns that another man is set to go to prison after being mistaken for him. He remembers the priest, remembers that “his soul belongs to God” and he reveals the truth of who he really is, despite knowing it will send him back to prison.

The kindness of the priest rescued Valjean from the life of bitterness and misery he was heading down. His life was redeemed by this one simple act of kindness and the ripple effect of his life’s transformation is seen in many of the main characters. Fantine dying in a hospital instead of on the streets. Cosette growing up knowing she is loved and not unwanted. Marius not perishing with the rest of his friends. Valjean’s redeemed life, redeems the lives of so many others in the story.

Kindness and Redemption

Kindness begets kindness. Redemption begets redemption. We can never repay the supreme act of kindness shown to us by Christ on the cross. He does not ask us to repay Him. Instead, He asks that we love our neighbors as ourselves, give a cup of water to one who is thirsty and even share our bread with our enemy. His kindness to us should beget in us kindness to others, including kindness to ourselves. May we, like Valjean, be so humbled by Another’s act of kindness, our only response is to do the same for others.

From my heart to yours,

Makeda

I hope you’ve enjoyed these posts on redemption. I’d love to hear where, in your life, have you found unexpected stories of redemption?

Holley-Gerth-Button-250x250Linking this post with Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart series.

Redemption & Rescue {Coffe for Your Heart}

For the next few posts I’m looking at the thread of redemption found in some of my favorite musicals. First up is Annie and yes, I am in fact referring to the little red-headed orphan girl Anne Marie Fudge (you’d have to be a die-hard fan to know that is her full name) And let’s be clear right from the outset, as far as I’m concerned there is only one movie version worth talking about and it’s the 1982 version. The other movie versions, including the one coming out later this year, don’t hold a candle to the original one. I mean, hello Carol Burnett as Miss Hannigan!! Enough said 🙂

annie_v2I first fell in love with Annie when I was 10 years old (yes I am that old but shoot I still look good 🙂 ). We put on the stage version for our 5th grade graduation show. The movie version had just come out and as a special treat they took us into the city so we could see the movie on the big screen. I was hooked from the opening scene and to this day, this movie instantly takes me to my happy place. I may or may not carry it around on my iPad for those days when I need immediate access to my happy place.

Annie has taught me a lot over the years. Here are just a few of the lessons to be gleaned from this amazing musical:

Dare to Dream

The opening scene of the movie shows Annie sitting on a windowsill high up in the orphanage dreaming about her parents who she believes will one day come for her. She didn’t know where they are or when they will come but she dreams of that day anyway.

But dreaming is tricky business. Getting a dream is the easy part; holding on to the belief that a dream will come true, now that’s the hard part. Dreams have a way of feeling tenuous and fragile at times. We try so desperately to hold onto them but there are days when it feels like our dreams are slipping through our fingers. Life throws some things our way and we feel as if giving up is the only option we have. But my encouragement to you today is don’t give up. Hold on to your dreams, even when it feels like it’s never going to happen because as Annie also reminds us the sun WILL come out tomorrow.

No Apologies

The thing I love most about little Ms. Annie is she never apologizes for who she is. Despite Ms. Hannigan’s relentless efforts to squash her spirit, she never let go of her enthusiasm for life. She took that enthusiasm with her when she went to stay with Mr. Warbucks and her infectious smile and wonderful spirit won over the staff. They loved her from the minute she walked in the door. It took Mr. Warbucks a little longer but he eventually got there too.

In life and in business, it’s easy for us to think we have to be like everyone else to be successful. In fact, our world seems dead set on getting us to buy into the idea that we have to look and act a certain way to be loved and approved. That’s a lie. I believe it is when we are our most honest selves that we shine the brightest and attract to us the people who are meant to be a part of our tribe. Just do you! Anyone who wants to change you, is not someone that needs to be in your world. You are wonderful just as you are.

Redemption & Rescue

It has taken me a long time to name why I love this movie so much. I recently figured out that it was the story of being rescued that won my heart all those years ago. I grew up without my father really being present in my life and the idea of this orphan being rescued by Daddy Warbucks made my heart long for something I didn’t even know how to name. As I have gotten older I have seen that it wasn’t just Warbucks that rescued Annie but she also rescued him. She rescued him from a life that was only about “money, power and capitalism”. She helped him learn to open his heart and love, which he had somehow forgotten how to do.

The thread of redemption and rescue is why this movie means so much to me. My own heart’s cry to be rescued and loved drew me to this movie when I was just a little girl and it has never let me go. I believe redemption is possible for all of us. No matter how bad your story might be, no matter how ugly parts of it might feel to you, your story can be redeemed. The idea that you have a story worth telling, a story that NEEDS telling is resonating so strongly in me right now. Don’t let anyone or anything diminish your voice or your story. Tell your story, be you and let your life shine and watch how the Father will take what feels nonredeemable and turn it into something beautiful. He’s not done with you yet!

 From my heart to yours,

Makeda Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

This post is part of the Coffee for Your Heart link up with the lovely Holley Gerth, sharing a little bit of mid-week encouragement to help you get through the day.

 P.S: If you haven’t heard already. I’m starting a new adventure and I’d love for you to tag along for the ride. You can read more about it here and sign up for updates here.

You’re Not Alone {Coffee for Your Heart}

I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a post up today because I am in the middle of an insanely busy time. But this song has been on repeat in my head and heart for the last few days. It’s not a new song but somehow I have only just found it. They lyrics are so powerful.

I want to share them with you as part of Holley Gerth’s weekly Coffee for Your Heart dose of encouragement. My prayer today is that if you are feeling alone and forgotten these words will remind you that you are never alone; there are always a second set of footprints walking with you.

Footprints In The Sand – Leona Lewis

You walked with me
Footprints in the sand
And helped me understand
Where I’m going

You walked with me
When I was all alone
With so much unknown
Along the way

I heard you say
I promise you
I’m always there
When your heart is filled with sorrow
And despair

[Chorus]
And I’ll carry you
When you need a friend
You’ll find my footprints in the sand

I see my life
Flash across the sky
So many times have I
Been so afraid
And just when I
Thought I lost my way
You gave me strength to carry on
Thats when I heard you say

I promise you
I’m always there
When your heart is filled with sorrow and despair

[Chorus]

When I’m weary
Well I know you’ll be there
And I can feel you
When you say

I promise you
I’m always there
When your heart is filled with sadness and despair

[Chorus]

[Choir]

When your heart is full of sadness and despair

[Chorus]

From my heart to yours,

Makeda  Holley-Gerth-Button-250x250

Trust Your Heart {Coffee For Your Heart}

Steve Jobs QuoteTrust is hard. It’s one of those words that are easy to write, easy to say but oh so hard to actually do. I don’t do trust well. I used to say it’s the New Yorker in me that makes me skeptic and untrusting by nature. The truth, though, is that I don’t trust because it’s safer not to. It’s safer to stay tucked in behind the 10 foot wall I have built around me, because in there I can control what happens. I get to decide who is invited behind my wall and who I will keep out.

I’m reading Daring Greatly right now. I know I’m probably the only human left on the planet who hasn’t read it yet. And the funny thing is, I have recommended the book more times than I count because I love Brene’s work so much. But it hasn’t felt right to read it until now. Now when I’m upon this season of change and living into my OneWord for this year of RISK.  As I read her words I’m reminded that vulnerability isn’t an option if I want to really experience love and belonging, something my soul craves. But how do I trust? How do I learn who deserves to come in and who doesn’t?

What I’m learning is that my heart knows. It knows who’s safe and who isn’t. My heart knows because it is grounded in truth, while my mind is festered with the lies of comparison and not enoughness. But truth lives in my heart and when I learn to quiet the voices around me, and sit in the silence and solitude, then my heart speaks. It tells me what I need to know, where I need to go and who needs to journey with me.

I don’t know your story. I don’t know what you are facing right now but I imagine at least one person reading these words is wondering how they’re going to make it. How in the world, can you know what to do? What’s the right decision? Who are the right people? To you I say, trust your heart. It knows! Your heart knows what you need and if you can still the voices of the naysayers around you, your heart will guide you where you need to go.

Your mind wants to control but your heart wants to guide. Trust your heart because it already knows. It might not make sense in your head but if it feels right in your heart then step boldly into that unknown place, take the risk and watch what happens. I have a feeling you might be surprised by what you find.

Once upon a time, my friend Lisa-Jo found her heart tugging in a direction that surprised her. After having declared that being a mom was not the path she was meant to walk, she heard her heart saying something different.  She didn’t know what to make of it but she listened and found herself surprised by motherhood. She has crafted a beautifully written story of her journey to momhood and in her own unique way, she celebrates the superheros that are Moms.

In honor of Mother’s Day next weekend, I’m giving away a copy of her book, Surprised by Motherhood. Click here to view the trailer. To be entered all you have to do is share in the comments one of the biggest surprises you found when you took a risk and trusted your heart. The contest will stay open until Monday May 5 at 11:59 PM EST. I will choose someone on Tuesday morning and ship you a brand new copy of the book, with a special surprise from Lisa-Jo herself. Even if you don’t win, I strongly recommend picking up a copy of this book for yourself or a mother in your life. Her words are like honey to  your soul and will soothe the aching tired parts of your being.

Praying today that we all learn how to trust a little more easily.

From my heart to yours,

Makeda Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

This post is part of the Coffee for Your Heart link up with the lovely Holley Gerth, sharing a little bit of mid-week encouragement to help you get through the day.

4 Tips for Fighting Fear {Coffee for Your Heart}

Fear Quote - Charles StanleyFear is a pretty universal emotion. All of us have that little voice in our head, telling us what we should or shouldn’t do based on fear of what someone else might think; or how someone might respond; or how things might change based on our decision. If not dealt with, fear can take the strongest, most competent woman’s legs out from under her. I want to share 4 ways you can fight fear, using the acronym F.E.A.R.

F = Feel It and Do It Anyway

Feel the fear and do it anyway – from my Life Manifesto

In our bodies, fear is  protective response designed to keep us out of harm’s way. As such, it isn’t always a bad thing to feel fear. There are times, however, when fear misreads a situation and thinking it needs to protect you, it causes you to avoid something that you really need to step into. In those moment, you have to make friends with your fear. Get curious about what’s really going on. Spend some time trying to figure out what’s behind your fear and then decide if what your fear is telling you is legit. If it’s not, then do your thing because fear is not serving you, it is only holding you back.

There are times, however, when what your fear is saying is valid but deep down you know you still have to make a move. For those times when you can’t get rid of the fear, you have to take it with you. Do what you have to do despite the fear and in the doing you just might discover that what you feared is not really as big of a deal as you thought it would be.

E = Embrace Failure

“Failure is an event not a person.” John Wooten

I believe failure is the thing most people fear the most. It is often seen as a negative thing but the truth is if you are not failing, then you are not trying. If you are not trying, then you are not really living life to the fullest. Failing doesn’t mean you are a failure, it means you have been taking risks and stepping outside what is familiar and known and there is nothing bad about those actions.

Learn to be comfortable with failure. See failure as a stepping stone on your way to your goals. Don’t allow your failures to cause you to step back, instead march forward more confidently because of them. As John Maxwell encourages, learn to fail forward. See failure as a friend and the voice of fear will not be quite so loud.

A = Acknowledge What Is True

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”Mark Twain

When fear is screaming in your head it can be hard to know what’s true and what’s a lie. You feel like you’re in a dense fog, unable to see anything around you. When that happens the best thing you can do is silence fear’s screaming voice with truth. Truth acts like a light piercing through the darkness of your fears. Remind yourself of what is true and right.

When I find myself in this place, I make a list. On one side are the things my fear is telling me, on the other are all the things I know to be true. This simple exercise has helped me move through more moments of fear than I can count. Know what’s true. The devil is a liar but God is truth. Hold onto truth at all cost because it WILL clear the fog eventually.

R = Remember You’re Not Alone

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” Donna Robert

Fear isolates, it keeps us nestled in a cocoon too afraid to break out. Reaching out to your support team helps remind you that you are not alone. Name the cheerleaders in your life. Find the friends or family members who can help you remember who you are when your fears cause you to forget.

It doesn’t have to be a lot of people either. Jesus had the twelve disciples but only three of them were witness to His heart being sorrowful to the point of death. You don’t need a large inner circle, and actually I would recommend that it be small. But know who belongs there and then reach out to them when fear comes knocking.

Fear doesn’t have to be the enemy nor does it have to take you out. You can stand up to it and you can win the fight. Put one of these tips to use the next fear starts talking and watch it retreat in your head and heart.

From my heart to yours,

MakedaCoffee-for-Your-Heart-150This post is part of the Coffee for Your Heart link up with the lovely Holley Gerth, sharing a little bit of mid-week encouragement to help you get through the day.

Dare to Tell A Different Story {Coffee For Your Heart}

playing a roleThere was a High School Musical marathon on the other day and being that I love all things musical (even the cheesy ones), not watching the movies was not an option. I loved them when they first came out and was pleasantly surprised to find that I still enjoyed them. What struck me as I watched them was the journey the main character, Troy Bolton, went on to embrace a story different than the one others had written for him.

Troy’s family and friends all had expectations of who he would become. Throughout the three movies, Troy struggles between being who he is supposed to be and who he might want to be.  In the end, he doesn’t choose either/or but he decides both/and is what is right for him. It wasn’t easy but ultimately he dared to rise into the story that was best for him.

For those of you who feel like you’re in a similar struggle, you have this story about who you are that you’ve been writing for a long time but lately something has been stirring in your heart telling you there’s more. Today, I want to encourage you that you can reclaim the narrative of your life and dare to write a different story.

Letting Go of Other People’s Expectations

“I just want my future to be my future” Troy Bolton

I’ve written before about how hard it can be to get out from under the weight of other people’s expectations. Well meaning family and friends tell you who they think you should be and for awhile you agree with them. But gradually over time it stops feeling right. The identity you’ve worn for so long doesn’t fit anymore and you’re soul is desperate for something to change. At the same time, changing feels nearly impossible.

But I need to tell you today that you have to dare to claim your own dreams. You have been given unique gifts, some of which may be only just beginning to come to the surface. You owe it to yourself and to the world to lean in and really discover who you are supposed to be. The One who is authoring your story just might have a plan for you that is bigger than you or your loved ones can imagine {hint: He usually does and by usually I mean always 🙂 }. Dare to believe that and then embrace the courage to step into what feels new and different.

There’s More In You Than You Know

“It takes courage to trust one’s instinct” Ms. Darbus

In the third movie, Ms. Darbus submits an application for Troy to go to Julliard. She saw more in Troy than just the boy who played basketball. He was defined by what he had always done but she saw the more in him that was hiding and she dared him to own that part of him too.

There is so much more in you than you know. So much more that you are capable of becoming and thing is, you know it. Deep down inside of you, where the truth of who really you are lives, you have the sense that you are more than you have become. I know it feels scary to look into those hidden places of your heart, full of the cobwebs of dreams long ago laid down. But if you can breathe in courage, take a deep breathe of the assurance that He who has begun a good work in you will see it finished, then what you find, as you look, just might surprise you. Trust that thing in you that’s telling you this is right. Lean in and discover the more that is lying dormant in you.

Don’t Be Afraid of Breaking the Status Quo

“East High is a place…that taught us to break the status quo and define ourselves as we choose.” Troy Bolton

All the really great stories out there, the ones we read or watch over and over again involve the main character going against what was expected. He faces a challenge that feels so much bigger than him but in that adversity he learns how to rise to the challenge. It is that rising to meet the challenge that turns an ordinary story into a truly extraordinary one.

Dare to challenge the status quo. Dare to decide that you will not live anything less than the very best life you are capable of living. Dare to believe that you can rise to the challenge of disappointing other people, if it means you don’t disappoint yourself and more importantly you don’t disappoint the Father.

I don’t for one second believe that what I am saying is easy. But I do believe in the end it will be worth it.

Will you take the dare? Will you dare to let go of other people’s expectations? Dare to embrace the more that is in you? Dare to break the status quo? Will you dare to rise into a better story? I know you can do it!

From my heart to yours,

Makeda Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150This post is part of the Coffee for Your Heart link up with the lovely Holley Gerth, sharing a little bit of mid-week encouragement to help you get through the day.