The Real Reason Mr. Right Hasn’t Shown Up Yet

Your Maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer.” – Isaiah 54:5 

Hello, Beautiful Sister, I see you there.

You have a deep desire to be married, to create a family that honors God. 

Perhaps He has even given you a word confirming this is indeed His will for your life. You’ve been working on being the best version of you, dating as the opportunity arises and always keeping your eyes peeled for the arrival of your Mr. Right. 

So why is he taking so long? I mean, Southern sweet tea cures faster in a patch of sunshine than your future man showing up. And the way things are looking right now in your love life, that’s exactly what he’s doing: either drinking his sweet tea under a tree somewhere in Alabama … or worse, still waiting for it to cure. 

Either way, you’re getting impatient. 

Where is God in all of this? Why are you still as single as a stand-alone song on iTunes? And what are you supposed to DO now to hurry this along? 

Well, beloved woman, I can’t answer all those questions. But I sure can tell you this:

Sometimes the questions we ask will reveal the answers to us naturally, if we have the ears to ear. 

The first two questions, I truly can’t answer for you. I CAN tell you that God is here, in the midst of your singleness, and that He has an answer to the WHY that He may or may not choose to share. And that’s all I can say on that front.

But that third question … the one of the “What am I supposed to do now?” variety.

Your answer to your question is right there, plain as day. That question in and of itself IS your answer to why you, the Rebekah marked out for marriage by God Himself, are still waiting for your Isaac. Or his servant with the ten camels. (Take your pick, it all ends up the same way.)

Let’s face it: you are a goal-oriented, driven woman who sees what she wants and goes after it. If someone who seems successful says, “Jump, and you’ll get my results!” Your response is always, “How high?” I bet you’ve already hired a dating or feminine energy coach, read all the books on relationships, attended every church singles event, perfected your online dating profile until it POPS on the internal search engine and pray hard every day.

Bottom line; if you could do something … anything … to make this guy show up, you’ve probably already done it.

Which is why it’s time to stop approaching this marriage process like a man, and start approaching it like a woman. 

Yes, you heard me right.

Our culture today is sooooo sneaky. As women, we have been sold a lie that in order to be successful, we have to DO more. In the process, we get taught to behave like me: to set goals, check stuff ruthlessly off of lists, sweat hard and demand results. Which, as it turns out, are all masculine ways to get things done.

Yet this is NOT how we as women are wired to relate to God, ourselves or others. And when it comes to relationships, where our feminine energy is the REAL gift God has given us to bring to the man we’re dreaming of, we are rarely if ever showing up as soft, receptive, open space. 

Instead, we show up to the party trying to drive our agenda and get the man our way.

How can God send us a real man, when we’re so busy trying to be one? 

You see, feminine energy—the essence of our womanhood that God gave us as our “superpower—is all about being OPEN. It’s about receptivity. It’s about being able to “dance with the flow” of life and trust that God will guide our steps. NO striving, no struggle, no sweat.

And it’s actually the exact opposite of our goal-driven, “girl boss” culture. A woman who is truly in her feminine essence may not be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, no. But she has most definitely learned how to stay present in her life, exactly where she is right now, loving exactly what God sends to her and immersing herself in the full sensory experience of what is on her plate right now. 

In other words, a truly feminine woman—the kind of woman a “real man” wants to date and marry—is not in fight mode, conquer mode or competition mode. She’s busy enjoying her life, and nothing is more enticing than a beautiful woman who naturally helps a man rest from his own God-made goal orientation and relax into “the flow” in her presence.. 

Plese note, dear heart: this does not mean a feminine woman cannot be a successful visionary with dreams and plans God has given her, or a woman with “a lot going on.” But it means she accomplishes all these things by grounding into her life exactly as it is right now, not by deciding in advance what’s supposed to happen and pushing her agenda.

So, you still want to know why Mr. Right hasn’t shown up yet?

Part of it is timing. God isn’t going to bring him until the exact right moment … and you can get down on your knees and thank Him for this, because His way is best. But beyond that … God won’t bring Mr. Right into your life until you are fully surrendered to where you are right now. 

You’ve got to love your life to the fullest extent, RIGHT NOW, whether or not your man is in the picture. 

“But Lisa,” you say, as your eyes fill up with tears, “You have no idea how lonely I am. I just want to be loved, to be part of a team. Is that so much to ask?”

Oh, my beautiful friend, I know how you feel. God knows the nights I cried myself to sleep wondering if I would ever experience love—both before my marriage, during it (because it was never strong), and after it unexpectedly ended in divorce. 

As I speak the truth in love to you, I speak it from a place of deep tenderness and knowledge.

I didn’t want to hear that I needed to love my life, right now, before Mr. Right showed up. But once I dried my tears and accepted this word, my life actually began to change.

You see, Mr. Right can’t be your everything. He can’t be responsible for your emotion well-being, for cheering you up every second of the day, for taking away your loneliness, for giving you a purpose, a hope and “an expected end.” 

He’s a man. Like, a real one with flaws as well as features. And he’s going to need you to minister to him as much as he ministers to you. 

The only One who can satisfy all the needs you have is God. And since He’s all you’ve got right now … right now is the perfect opportunity to change how you approach your life, so you can (ultimately) watch God change your situation. 

A feminine woman doens’t have to fight or strive for what she wants, because she knows the Lord her Maker, the Lord of Hosts, is fighting on her behalf.

Believe me, I used to think it would be IMPOSSIBLE to love my life as a single woman. Yet, when I asked God to help me ground into what He’s given me, right now, and stop treating my love life like a mountain to be conquered, He answered me by literally SHOWERING His grace, His presence, and dynamic power, right into my situation. 

I still hope to be married, yes. God has told me this is my future and has given me many specific dreams and words about it. 

But I don’t need that man to make me happy. He will only, ever, be a complement to my happiness: the cherry on top the sundae of an already-amazing life.

Your life will be what you make it, with or without a man. So start making it extraordinary now, as-is.

And while you’re doing that, my dear friend, let Mr. Right off the hook. Let hims sip his sweet tea in Alabama, or better yet … wait for it to cure just right so he can bring you a glass to share.

He’s only a man, after all. And you’ve already got the Lord of Hosts for your husband. 

Let Him be your all, and when you do, you will see how He gives you more than you ever dreamed possible …

Maybe even the man of your dreams!

Finding Freedom from Emotional Eating

For most of my life, I wouldn’t have said I had an eating disorder. 

To me, “eating disorders” were things like anorexia and bulemia: big, life-altering struggles that required the intervention of doctors, therapists and pastors. 

I never realized that every time I ran to the fridge for a snack when I felt sad, or cheated on my “vegetarian diet” (again), or couldn’t stop myself with just a few potato chips (cookies, cheese sticks, etc.) … I was essentially stuck in the same place as those women with “eating disorders” with more clinically acceptable eating disorders.

I was using food to cover up a craving inside that couldn’t actually be assuaged with sweets, salty, spicy or sour.

Today, many women comment to me that they wish they could eat vegan like I do now. “But I just can’t seem to give up the meat, eggs and dairy,” they quickly add. Others tell me they want to kick the sugar or the cola habit. Still others want to go gluten free, but the thought of no cookies or cinnamon rolls sends them running for cover. 

If any of those describe you, I’m hear to hug you and say, “It’s okay.”

I was there, too. 

The first biggest step I had to take to be free of my constant need for food, was to realize that I was in bondage in the first place. 

After my powerful full-body opening in July 2017, at which time the Holy Spirit began to speak me more directly, I began to realize all the ways I was carrying trauma and hurt in body. I also began to see how that trauma was driving me to hold on to weight I no longer needed.

Because I needed to feel safe, my brain was keeping me overweight—essentially—“hiding” me under layers of fat. And the easiest way to do that was with an addiction to animal-based, processed and refined foods. Did the drive to eat every time I felt sad, or to overindulge at every opportunity, disappear overnight? 

No, not in the least. Not by half. 

But awareness is the beginning of freedom. 

Once I knew what was going on, I could take steps to change my thinking, which changed my dominant emotional state and enabled me to finally change my behaviors around the fridge. 

So if you’re reading this today, and you know that you eat according to your mood, not according to your nutritional need … first, you are not alone. And second, the fact that you have acknowledged this pattern is a HUGE step toward breaking free. 

Because the truth is: 

  • You CAN stop equating food with emotional comfort, in the deepest level of your mind. 
  • You CAN come to a place where you no longer desire food except when your body is actually hungry.
  • You CAN adopt a vegetarian, vegan, raw foods or other alternative diet—once you are in a mental and emotional place where the first two points are already true.

And that’s the real issue here. 

Most women I know who want to change their eating are trying to do so without first shifting their dominant thought patterns and their everyday emotions. 

Adopting that new diet, losing weight or taking up more exercise simply won’t be successful if you try to “power through it” or make it “one more item on your to-do list.” 

Heart change and mind change must happen first. You won’t be able to shift your thoughts or emotions overnight. It WILL require that you confess your addiction to God and ask Him to heal you. It WILL take work to discipline your mind and body. But when you learn how to do that, and learn how to relax into receiving a smaller body, fewer cravings, and healthier food … it can happen.

Many of my my friends and mentees have experienced shifts in their eating as a natural byproduct of clearing their thoughts and emotions.

That’s how it happened for me, ultimately, as well. 

I didn’t totally set out to change my eating. My freedom from emotional eating patterns came as a byproduct of shift my thoughts to focus on God and His love, and learn how to live at the high, even emotional state that He desires for each of us. 

Eating can be a FLOW, just like love, money and creativity.

Release the struggle, and step into ease.

7 Ways to Cultivate Your God-Given Feminine Sexual Energy for Your Marriage

Happy Couple, Eastern Art Collection, Museumsinsel, Berlin

If you got married straight out of the purity culture in the modern church, you probably discovered the exact same thing I did:

Your feminine sensuality didn’t switch on like a lightbulb just because you said, “I do.”

Sad to say, it took me eight struggling years of marriage and a difficult divorce to figure out that I wasn’t actually “broken” when it came to sex. Diagnosed at age 25 with a clinical sexual dysfunction, I struggled my way through round after round of dilator therapy that failed … completely … until I discovered the secret emotional root of my physical issue:

I just had no idea how to access the natural pleasure center God had given me in my body—which is as useful for enjoying a picnic by the lake as it is for having a triple orgasm in bed. 

When you’re taught in church to cultivate your mind, your emotions and your physical strength–but not your sensuality–your natural pleasure sensors essentially act like an atrophied muscle. You can’t expect to run a marathon if you haven’t run a day in your life. And you can’t expect the rockin’ hot sex they promised you would be the reward for your purity if you haven’t prepared for sensuality.

But for years, I did not understand this. I thought I was broken. I thought that unforgettable intercourse and true joy in my body was only for thinner, fitter, less emotionally timid women than I was.

In my heart of hearts, I even wondered if sexual satisfaction was only for the women who’d had their first orgasm at an age when I didn’t even know what sex was.

But the path to freedom can’t really unfold as long we are stuck in the lies. Thank God, He began to transform my heart, my mind and my experience with this critical topic.

Not only did I beat the “incurable” sexual dysfunction to find total freedom in pleasure, but I reclaimed my feminine essence along the way and healed a lifetime of wounding around traditional femininity and the feminine “receptive” role.

Now, I know my sensuality doesn’t have to be shut down. And it isn’t meant to be, either. Timidity, frigidity, body image issues, sexual frustration and/or low libido are not your birthright.

You also don’t have to wait until you finally say “I do” to try to figure out what turns you on.

Yes, I’m here to say it because I truly believe it:

You can be both totally pure in your pre-marriage lifestyle and also totally tuned in to your sensual essence as a woman … which is gonna make it a whole lot easier for you to let go, relax and have some bonafide fun in bed when God finally sends your Boaz.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you don’t resonate with a conservative church upbringing and its (often) unintended result of frigidity. Perhaps you have a different reason to struggle with your sexuality and sensuality. Maybe you experience a sexual trauma or were the victim of a sexual crime. Maybe one or both parents shamed your body from the day you were born. Maybe you just keep ending up with guys who make you feel like you’re not good enough.

Whatever your story, I’m here to say: it’s not too late.

You can fall in love with the body God gave you and totally enjoy the experience of having your body touched, loved and, yes … even penetrated … in a relaxed, struggle-free way.

The biggest key here is that the heart of great sex really has nothing to do with virtuosic intercourse. It has everything to do with your ability to be present in the moment, feel pleasure deeply, and open yourself up to another human being. 

Let me say that again:

Your enjoyment of sex has nothing to do with virtuosic intercourse.

It has everything to do with your ability to:

  • Be present in the moment,
  • Feel pleasure deeply, and
  • Open yourself up to another human being.

When I first began to understand this … and consequently to unpack what had actually happened in my life that had caused my deep struggles with sexuality … it was mind boggling.

I began to take the journey step by step. Looking for little ways to start experiencing pleasure in my everyday life, be present and stay open to what was happening around me.

And … my relationship with my sensuality changed, too.

It’s that simple.

But let’s face it: it’s also that difficult … because as modern Western women we are hardwired to check off lists and chase success. We know more about over-achieving than we do about having an amazing orgasm.

We tend to believe anxiety and depression are the status quo. So when we get into the bedroom and are asked to just have fun? Well, we have no actual skills for this strange, new request. Sex becomes a goal to be achieved, not an experience to be savored.

It’s time to change that, baby. Are you ready?

In the following tips, I’m not asking you to do anything kinky, weird or borderline sinful.

All I’m asking you to start taking time to enjoy who you are as a woman and what God has already put in your life … which, simple as it seems, will transform your current sex life (if you’re married) or the one you hope to have (if you’re not).

Because if you cannot stop to “just be” … allow yourself to relax into the moment and experience simple sensory pleasures right now, in your daily life … you won’t be able to access it in the bedroom, either.

You can cultivate a beautiful, feminine sensuality that will allow you to drop everything you’re doing and just “be” with your husband in a relaxed, loving way. When you cultivate this skill, you will totally open up to the deepest feelings of blessed married sex. The little things you do now to cultivate “being” will pay dividends later.

Here are 7 easy ways to cultivate your God-given feminine sensuality:

1) Start eating slowly so you actually savor your food.

Pleasure 101: You cannot fully experience and enjoy what is rushed through for the sake of getting done. If you’re currently married and sex feels like a chore—yes, I know you just want him to finish. But if you’re going to get serious about YOUR pleasure … you’re going to have to slow down.

Food, like sex, is a sensory experience, so it’s a great place to practice this slowness. But heck, it’s not just food. Start slowing down in general. Pause to really touch and enjoy fabrics that feel good. Pause to smell the scent of lilacs in your neighbor’s yard. Plant your two feet on the ground and sense all the yummy and wonderful things around you.

2) Meditate daily, even if only for five minutes.

I said that sexuality is a practice of presence. Meditation is the best way I know to practice being present in your daily life. No, you’re not going to stop all the racing thoughts on day one. But over time, even a very short daily meditation practice will help you build the skill of getting outside your own head long enough to be quiet.

Very often a problem with sexuality for women is that we can’t set aside all the “stuff” that’s happening in our lives in order to be present with the other person we’re there to enjoy. Meditation will help you build that skill so you can be present with your spouse in a joyous and loving way.

As many ancient texts have also noted, sexuality is also a form of meditation. But that’s another topic for another day … For now, if you’re interested, I recommend The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity by Dan Reid, a noted expert on Asian medicinal practices.

3) Keep a “pleasure journal.”

By now you might be saying, “Lisa, I’m not even sure what I love, or what makes me feel good. I’m so out of tune with my God-given pleasure sensors that I feel stuck even starting.” Okay, great; this is an awesome realization. Yes, I was there too. But the best way I know how to get past this big hump is to simply start trying stuff and noticing what works for you.

Try new kinds of coffee. Try on new styles of dresses. Go to a new restaurant. A new exercise class. Try a new dance. Each time you try something new, record how it made you feel and what you liked and didn’t like about it. Over time, you will begin to find the things that make you feel good, that you really like. Bonus: some of them, you might be able to bring into the bedroom.

4) Pamper your body with baths, self-massages & oil.

This is big, especially if you don’t like your body very much. You have to start acting as if you loved your body so that you eventually will actually feel that love. I promise, it works this way … and only this way. If you wait for the feelings of self-love to come first, in order to pamper yourself, it’s never gonna happen.

So why is this so critical for your sex life?

Your man will feel about your body exactly the way you train him to feel. (I’ve tried this principle out multiple times; it’s completely predictable.) If you want your man to love love love your body … exactly as it looks right now … don’t make the poor man constantly build up your self esteem. Loving yourself as God loves is your responsibility first. Commit to love love love your body first, and watch what a difference it makes in your relationship. When you remove that pressure from Mr. Right, you’ll be surprised what happens!

Whatever self-care or body nourishment routine works for you, do that. For myself personally, I find that loving, gentle body self-massage was an amazing tool. I have to put my hands on my own skin and touch it in a way that felt good. This was revolutionary at first for a girl raised like I was.

5) Shut door, crank up the music and MOVE.

Nothing puts in your feminine, sensual energy like dance. Yes, I was born with two left feet. Yes, for years I was desperately afraid for anybody to see me do anything like dance. But then I discovered I could shut my door at home, draw the blinds, get naked and put on music I loved. And WOW, did I ever discover I loved to dance!

Dancing got me moving my body in a way that felt good (Hello, that’s necessary for hot sex …) And coming from a background where dance was basically forbidden, dancing at home alone got me past the mental hurdle of being afraid to move my body. Now I’ll happily do it in public … and I still dance every day at home to help me stay in my best, most aligned emotional groove.

For extra credit, dance naked in front of a mirror. (Yes, I hear you Baptist girls out there cringing!) If I can do this, you can do this. And trust me, your husband will thank you later.

6) Take up yoga once or twice a week.

Yoga is hands-down one of the best ways I know to get in tune with your sensual energy. No, the goal here is not to get yourself twisted up like a pretzel or perform the most contorted sex position you possibly can. It’s to learn how to feel what’s actually going on in your body. And to put those feelings into words.

When I started yoga, I had NO idea how to answer the instructor’s question, “Does this pose feel good in your body?” Literally, it was a foreign language to me. In the churches I grew up in, the body was deliberately divorced from public conversation (other than for topics regarding sports and “acceptable” medical procedures). I had to learn a form of sensation and conversation I had not innately learned as a child.

Over time, taking yoga not only helped me build strength and confidence. It helped me actually feel more of what was going on in my body and have words to describe it. Which you are going to need, eventually, when a certain gentleman asks you what feels good … in bed.

7) Burn your to-do list and do something you love.

Really, if we’re being honest, our Superwoman culture in America (which is as prevalent in the church as outside) is very often at the heart of our struggles in the bedroom. Because, as I said earlier, you can’t treat sex like a to-do list. It’s a living, shifting, expanding experience with another human being. Yes, it is an experience. 

Most of the women I’ve counselled and coached for sexual challenges share one trait in common: they’re laser-focused on goals and achievement. Breaking yourself of your addiction to box-checking–and letting yourself drop into blissful flow–is one of the best ways I know to open yourself up to a less goal-driven interaction. Burn your to-do lists and try letting your intuition guide you to which tasks really need accomplishing, and eliminate which ones are just Superwoman Busywork.

Do things you love. Let yourself have pleasurable experiences more often, whether that’s a picnic at the park, a Friday night manicure or a day out with girlfriends. Eventually you’ll find that this newfound enjoyment of experience—surprisingly enough—follows you straight into the bedroom.

You’ll be able to go from stressed out to blissed out … you know, like the 0 to 60 in 6 seconds flat “WOW, BABY, CAN YOU DO THAT AGAIN????” kind of blissed out … and neither you nor your husband will be quite sure how it happened.

Okay, just kidding.

You’ll know exactly how it happened. And you’ll feel …. AMAZING. 😉

That Time Spring Hit the Colorado Rockies (And My Life)

I didn’t plan on spending five or six weeks of my spring 2018 in the mountains of Colorado. Not that I’m complaining, mind you: spring in Colorado is gorgeous. Witnessings the transformation into spring is even more of a marvel. But it wasn’t on my plan. (Hello, that’s why I call myself a “recovering control freak.” Because sometimes the control thing still peeks out. 

Anyway, when I arrived in Colorado it didn’t look much like spring at all. In fact as late as April 20th, winter was still in full effect. Consider this photo from my first weekend in Colorado Springs, where I stayed with longtime friends on the Air Force Academy base: 

Yeah, not much spring to be seen there. I despaired that God had brought me out of monochromatically gray Milwaukee, only to drop me into another monochromatic winter landscape. Everyone had been telling me how beautiful the sun would be. How plentiful the wild flowers. Yet I still couldn’t see it, even though May 1st was just around the corner. 

This lingering winter seemed to be a metaphor for my own life. I had believed God for breakthrough: a serious shift in my circumstances that would allow me to quit traveling from place to place and go back home to Milwaukee to settle. I loved traveling, yes. The Holy Spirit had told me to ‘take no money, take no luggage, and go into whatever house will receive you.’ And I had obeyed. 

But I was tired now. Sick of endless weeks on the road with no real purpose or activities to shape my day. Sick of always looking to the horizon for something—anything—to happen. Sick (if we’re being honest) of praying and seeing … absolutely nothing.  

I started taking my friends’ dog, Buddy, for twice daily walks. Every day I kept my eyes peeled for the famous Colorado wildflowers, even while I prayed to Heaven for a glimpse of a single petal pushing above ground in my own life. 

For awhile, it continued to look like this: sunny, but barren. The weather warmed. And yet nothing pushed above the soil.

By the time I left for Milwaukee to lay hold of the place God had given me there, the slopes of the Rockies were carpeted with God’s most beautiful flowers.  

It took a lot longer than I would have wished, yes. But the season of flowering did come in God’s time. 

Be patient through the late springs snows, and continue to watch daily for the first signs of color amid the grass. Your time of breakthrough will come if you do not grow weary. 

I believe the real test of our faith is not what happens in seasons of victory and activity, but what we do in seasons of silence and barrenness.

Those six weeks of silence, during which I saw almost no flowers pop up on those daily walks, was one of the longest and hardest I have endured. My patience and stamina were nearly at an end. I napped a lot—because there was little else to do.

Still no flowers. Anywhere.

And yet, somehow in the absence of the physical evidence I craved, Spring came. During that time I really re-committed my life to do exactly what God wanted. I heard the call to begin speaking His Name and His Word more intentionally in my relationships. Things that had been “out of order” in my life got placed back into order—none of which would have been possible had I been distracted by other things. 

God even sent me a few rainbows and beautiful sunsets to encourage me that His promises were true, and in the acceptable time, He would shift my circumstances.

There’s a funny thing about praying for God’s “acceptable time,” just as it says in Psalm 69. God’s acceptable time is very rarely ours. His time for flowering often does not match ours. We are impatient. He has infinite patience. We want to run ahead though we can only see in the moment. He sees what’s coming, and acts accordingly.

In God’s acceptable time, breakthrough did come. I got a huge tax refund—several months late—that enabled me to return to Milwaukee and pay the avalanche of bills that were coming due in June. I let go of the last of my old life and got on board with God’s program.  

And yes, the wildflowers did come out. By the time Buddy and I finished our daily routine of walks, the hills were abloom with Colorado’s finest. 

By the time I left for Milwaukee to lay hold of the place God had given me there, the slopes of the Rockies were carpeted with God’s most beautiful flowers.  

It took a lot longer than I would have wished, yes. But the season of flowering did come in God’s time. 

Be patient through the late springs snows, and continue to watch daily for the first signs of color amid the grass. Your time of breakthrough will come if you do not grow weary. 

Are You as a Woman Really Ready to Start Your Own Business?

Rockin’ the solo-preneur lifestyle with my cat Jack in my home office in Milwaukee, WI, early 2017

I was 30 years old when I walked out of the highest-paying job I ever hoped to hold.  

In the preceding months, I had done everything I could to ensure my success. I hired a business coach. Got a business plan together. And even started getting beta clients for my new business’s first service package, so I could pitch it with testimonials. 

Of course, I was still scared out of my wits. But I was ready, right? I mean, as ready as I was going to be…

Sometimes I think it’s a blessing that God doesn’t tell us what’s going to happen in advance. Over the next three years, I learned how ready I really wasn’t to have my own business. And the business I did build was full of stress and struggle. Oh, I worked hard. So, so hard. But that’s just it: I did it all in my own strength. And I didn’t realize that while I had put the external foundation of the business into place, I hadn’t put the internal foundation there. 

Owning a business that served entrepreneurs and freelancing for many corporate clients forced me to come face-to-face with what was really going on inside me. 

Now, I tell women entrepreneurs: the external details of the business are important—what you are going to sell, who you will serve, what you will charge, etc. But if you are not truly strong enough inside (yet) to handle what you are stepping into … you will fail. 

Bottom line: you can’t do this business thing in your own strength. And God will use this situation to teach you that, like nothing else. 

So how can you ensure that you are truly ready internally to take this entrepreneurship journey with God?

You’re ready when … 

1) You’ve faced your fear of money.

Owning a business will show you, like nothing else, how terrified you are of money: both of not having enough, and of having “too much.” God had to break me of my “money fears” before I could stop putting limits on myself with my earning potential. I secretly believed that people who had a lot of money hurt other people. (NOTE: This presupposition is rampant in the artistic, social good and educational communities, which many women entrepreneurs identify with.) To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to get absolutely clear on the sufficiency of God to provide for you, and be willing to break through every block you have around money that will hold you back. 

2) You’ve faced your fear of self-promotion.

Oh sure, you want to have a business. But let’s talk about promoting your services, sharing your expertise and allowing your real, gifted self to be SEEN in the real and online worlds. Many women entrepreneurs I know describe themselves as “shy,” “not good in the spotlight,” and “wishing someone else would market the business.” I’m here to tell you, Sister. It does not work that way. God wants you to stand on your talents in HIM. He wants you to stand firm and tall and proclaim who He has made you to be, so the people who need you can find you. Very often this means confronting issues of self-worth and self-doubt that plague all of us. (It did for me!) If you are not ready to face these things, you are not ready for this business. 

3) You’ve faced your fear of success. 

Scraping by is okay. Having enough and a little extra is probably fine, too. But wild, over-the-top, runaway success that silences all the haters and causes people to stare in wonder? Um, yeah, that’s getting a little uncomfortable now, isn’t it? As Christians, we are so often taught that God is not interested in our success or happiness—yet I believe He is deeply interested in both. Yes, both of these may have to bow to His will for us to experience sorrow and loss for a season (believe me, I have been there!). But I believe far more often we fail to experience His best because we simply open to the fact that it IS possible. And (see Point #2) we’re not sure we deserve it. This entrepreneurial journey will challenge all of these thoughts. If you are not ready to accept success, don’t bother shooting for it. 

Owning a business as a woman—the kind of business that truly does good for others while honorably supporting you—is a noble goal. It IS possible to create these income streams. It IS possible to get out of the corporate rat race and experience the freedom and joy of owning your time and serving people you truly appreciate and want to help. 

But even these beautiful goals come at a price.

You will not be able to carry your sense of poverty, sense of self-loathing or self-doubt into this process. And if you try … well, I can say from my own experience that God has ways of knocking it all out of you. In the kindest (but most serious) way possible. 

Are you really ready to start your business? Well, you’ll never fully be ready. You might just have to take the leap. In fact, you probably will. But if you spend time really working on these three areas, you will be better positioned for success. 

I don’t regret walking out that door at age 30. I don’t miss the salary. bonus or cushy travel allowance I had—because in exchange, I was a slave in golden handcuffs. But I also, today, recognize how much I had not prepared myself internally for this new journey. 

Hard work will only get you so far. It can’t make up for the deficits you secretly believe you have inside. 

What to Do When Your Creative Muse Goes AWOL

I wish my muse was better behaved. I really do. But like me, she’s a free spirit—and sometimes she takes the day off without letting me know. 

In the past, if I’m honest, she’s taken more than a day or two. Once, she even took off a whole decade. (That’s another story for another day…) But even when my Muse IS on the job, the “fits of genius” come sporadically at best. So much of the time, showing up for my art or my passion project feels like plain old work.  

What’s a creative woman to do when her deepest creative self seems to run on fumes … and she really just wants to get back in the FLOW?

First, don’t panic. 

Everyone experiences dry spells. It could even be that you are coming back to your creativity after a long dry season, or a busy season serving others, and you wonder if it’s even possible to muster up that mojo again. 

I’ve been in both scenarios, and I can say for sure that it IS indeed possible to get that mojo back. But not by trying so so so hard to make it all happen. 

I like to think about creativity like a small child, or a small animal. She only comes out when she truly feels safe. 

Rush your Muse, pressure her, or make demands—and she’ll likely run the other direction. But if you can create a relaxed, fun environment that invites her to come close without forcing it, you might be surprised how fast the ideas spring up again. 

So perhaps the best advice I can give you is to …

Relax. 

Yes, I know, woman of action: that might not come easily to you. It seems more valuable to just keep piling on the action, trying to get more done, putting yourself under and even bigger load. But the more you sweat and strive, the less far you’ll actually get. 

So put on some music that makes you feel happy. 

Take that overdue bubble bath. 

Have a glass of wine or herbal tea.

Take a hike or do some serious yoga. 

Indulge in the nap you’re craving. 

Have dinner with a friend who makes you laugh. 

Finger paint with your kids for awhile. 

Or maybe … just maybe … pull the covers over your head and try again tomorrow. 

Doing this once or twice isn’t going to change everything, either. You’re going to have to make a new habit of just … having fun. 

Because the more you allow yourself to feel pleasure and joy, the more the ideas will flow.

By releasing the “pressure valve” on your inner need to perform, you will actually create space for your muse to whisper in your ear—and actually be heard. 

All of this, though, points to something much deeper than finding the last lyric for that song or the right color for the last stroke of that painting. 

It’s about learning how to fully and deeply open up to what is happening in the present moment. 

Perhaps what your Muse needs more than anything else is simply for you to accept that feeling “blocked” is where you are right now. 

This iS what is. And it is okay. 

You don’t have to have the idea right now. It can take a little more time to make itself clear. 

Sometimes the best way to get the answer is simply to release the pressure of needing to have it. 

Because after all, your Muse has a mind of her own. Let her be who she is, and you might be surprised what she gives you in return. 

Your creativity may feel AWOL right now. But maybe it’s just around the corner, waiting for you to breathe deeply, loosen your shoulders and dance. 

In the middle of the dance, you’ll know what to do. 

 

 

Get Your Story Straight, and the Rest Will Follow

NOTE: The following is a featured post from 2016 which first appeared on my former creative blog, Scrappy Storyteller. I’m sharing this as a way of embracing my past creative self and sharing ideas she had that, well, still matter today. Enjoy!


Every year I have great plans for February. And every year, they get totally derailed.

Like it or not, for me February seems to be the month when I’m called to hibernate in my own soul, mulling things over. I feel like that bear in a cave, slowly burning off the fat of her last intellectual meal so that when she awakes, she can stretch and crawl out of her cave in search of a good trout and a handful of berries.

The reward for my hibernation, however, is rarely a sense of well-restedness. (I actually slept terribly this month.) 

It’s a sense of renewed understanding and purpose.

As I explored in my last post, there are apparently phases to this thing called the creative life. The early phases are so exciting! You watch concepts you heard and read about unfold before your very eyes. 

But once the excitement and glitter are past, you’ve got a long road of hard work ahead of you.

And as it turns out, that is where our storytelling skills most come in handy.

You see, in the middle of all my intellectual machinations and internal questioning this month, it occurred to me that our storytelling skills really are so much more important than we think. And not just for the creative endeavors we might be pursuing.

They’re critical to the living of this thing called life.

This month it occurred to me—possibly for the first time ever—that the story truly must come first in any endeavor, not just in art but also in life.

So often we want to rush into action, or see change happen, without getting the story straight first.

Every day, every hour, I’m shaping a narrative inside my own head about how my life is going, whether I’m the hero of a comedy or tragedy, or how close I am to achieving my goals.

The most important story I’ve been telling all of my life isn’t one of my many specific fictional tales. It’s the story I’ve been telling to myself about my life. 

I am my own first (captive) audience. I am also perhaps my own most important audience.

And like the reader of a choose-your-own-adventure novel, I will ultimately decide how the story turns out.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting I have ultimate power over my own life, or some kind of omnipotent edge that can merely think away obstacles and fly to the moon. But I am suggesting that I do have the power over how I react to, respond to or view what happens to me.

That internal narrative is just as important—maybe even more so—than any external one I’ll ever write.

So, yes. 

As I was lying awake many nights this month, thinking over many things, or letting my mind wander as I doodled in my art journal . . . I realized that the creative life really is not about being in the “right place” with the “right people” or the “right work.” 

It’s about telling yourself the right story about yourself, your place, your people and your work.

This is not to say that we should never make changes to our external environment, or pursue new opportunities, or perhaps finally lay that languishing project to rest. But perhaps we’re just too quick to look around us, expecting the change to happen.

We look to the details of the story to change magically on their own, rather than asking the Storyteller to change the plot.

I am the Storyteller. So are you. If we don’t like the story . . . all we have to do is change it.

After all, isn’t that the beauty of a story? It’s not completely random? There IS a Teller out there somewhere, shaping our understand of what’s happening, and helping us to make meaning of the events as they unfold.

In the case of life, we rely on ourselves to make meaning of what’s happening to us. It’s one of the sacred tasks we’ve been given.

So I’ll ask you the question I had to ask myself:

Do you like how you’re shaping the story of your own life?

If not, you always have an opportunity to shift the narrative inside your own head, and in doing so, to transform your reality.

That’s what stories are all about, anyway: the power of transformation. The transmuting of a soul from one state of being to another—whether literally in the physical realm or figuratively in the metaphoric one.

(I didn’t tell you we’d be delving into alchemy today, now did I? Well, every good story has got to have a plot twist anyway . . .)

A story starts off in one place and must alway end up in another. If there’s no shift or movement, there has been no story.

The bottom line for us is: transformation is possible. And it starts in our own heads.

So as we enjoy this unusual extra day in February, and prepare for March (already?!), I hope you’ll remember with me that we really, truly are the story that we tell ourselves. 

If we don’t like the story we’re living, the problem isn’t usually in the story. It’s all about the telling. 

This is why movies go south. Novels flounder. Graphic novels fall flat.

The telling of the story just wasn’t as grand as the original idea.

Our own less-than-effective telling is why the story of our life sometimes turns out as less than we’d hoped, too.

But the problem is never the story itself.

The narrative we spin inside our own heads, about our own lives, is quite possibly the most important narrative we’ll ever write. 

It’s about time we got absolutely clear on who we are, what’s happened to us, and why it matters.

Because when we get our story straight, the rest (of life) will always follow.

From “Resolutions” to “Intentions:” Toward a More Easeful, Natural Way of Setting Goals

Writer’s Note: This is the 3rd in a 3-part series of embracing the natural, astrological or agricultural calendar that starts on the spring equinox, as a more easeful way of working for women. In Part 1, we looked at why biorhythms are so powerful, and women’s bodies natural want to follow them. In Part 2, we looked at how the natural calendar actually works throughout the year, and what it looks like to follow it. Today, we’ll look at a less-stressful way of setting “goals” for the year that incorporates a lot of potential for harmony, balance and flow.

The Spring Equinox just passed, and with it, my celebration of New Year. I’ve been running my personal life (and my business, when I was an entrepreneur) by the natural calendar for several years.

Switching from a January New Year to a March New Year is a tiny shift that has brought me so much less stress and so much more joy. I don’t feel anymore like I’m pushing my body to try to “be productive” at times it really doesn’t want to be. I ride the energy of the year up and then back down again. It’s like having the energetic wind at your back.

But as with any new year, it’s time to take stock of where things are at. So a few weeks ago, right before the new year itself, I dedicated a Friday morning–my most laid-back off day–to setting my “goals” (which I prefer to call intentions) for the new year.

I made it fun for myself by going to the beach, which is about ten minutes from my home in Dubai Marina. To get there, I have to cross this bridge. We’re having really gorgeous, balmy weather right now, and I couldn’t have been happier about how this day turned out!

Perhaps it’s worthwhile for me to stop here and talk about goals versus intentions. Goal-setting is a very masculine activity. It’s about developing fixed plans, with pre-determined destinations, which you will then strive to reach by sweat, blood and tears. Men love this. It’s what gives them their sense of accomplishment and speaks to their inner “conquering” urge that is part of their nature.

But this is not “me.” I am not a conqueror, I’m a nurturer. I’m not a striver. I’m into flow. In short, I’m a woman. And I like to chart my course like one, thank you very much.

This is where intentions come in. The idea of an intention is that it gives focus and aim to the direction I’m heading. But it’s not a fixed point. An intention allows me to let the unfolding journey guide the exact point I reach, rather than predetermining where I have to get to, exactly. Intentions allow me to love myself and discover new things through the journey of the year that will then impact my direction .

Goals own me. I own intentions. And if one of my intentions wanders into entirely new territory by the year’s end, so be it.

Last year didn’t turn out anything like I expected (mostly because, hello, I moved to Dubai on short notice!!) but I feel incredibly accomplished all the same.

One of the biggest ways we can release ourselves as women from the false guilt we carry around constantly is to let go of these hard-lined, masculine decision-making and planning structures that don’t really work for us–for our natural rhythms or our bodies.

So there I was, at the JBR Beach in Dubai Marina. I found myself a gorgeous upstairs spot at a Turkish restaurant overlooking the Arabian Gulf, where lazy brunchers were finishing off the last of their feasts, or were slouched over their shisha, scrolling their phones amid a cloud of smoke. And after I ordered by Turkish coffee, I got to writing.

For this year, I divided my life into seven areas:

  • God
  • Home
  • Ministry
  • Provision (my term for finances)
  • Love
  • Health
  • Travel

These are the major areas of my life. And then I just spent time noodling and dreaming around what this year could look like. What are things it’s been in my heart to do? What are deep, deep desires I want to partner with God to bring to pass?

I came up with things like, “Tour Dubai like a proper tourist” (which I haven’t done, almost seven months into living here). And “Get a queen-size bed for my apartment.” And “Blog every week” and “Make my yoga a consistent, daily practice that feels good.”

None of these are fixed points. They’re more about embodied ways of life. Practices I want to make a consistent, joyful way of living, rather than some fixed point I have to hit in order to feel good about myself or achieve an arbitrary goal.

I admit, along the way in this process, I might have ordered a thoroughly non-vegan, cheese-loaded veggie pide, a delicious Turkish bread dish. But oh my!!! It was so good!!And it gave me “brain food”–fuel for my work.

My idea as I worked on intentions for my seven areas is that each week, as I prepare for the week, I’ll pray over my intentions and ask God for one “next step” to take on them, or a small way to embody them in that week.

Where could I go on my day off to explore something new in Dubai? Should I allot an hour or so one day to research bed prices and options? Or troll Dubizzle (our Craig’s List) for used options? How about committing to seven days of just 15 min of sun salutations to get myself back into the groove with yoga.

These are simple steps. They aren’t rocket science and don’t require me to be a genius, climb a tall building with my bare hands, or jump off a cliff.

I’l just be weaving these activities into my daily life.

In the end, this is what I created after I journaled out all my ideas. The intentions on my wheel are super open-ended, but they represent specific paths I want to run down. I put my wheel where I can see it every day, and as I said, every week, I’ll be praying over how to manifest those intentions in that week. And the same for every month, planning for the month ahead.

I’m so excited about this new year. God has done exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think here in Dubai. I know He has good things around the corner. And it’s up to me to dream big and follow Him.

I can do this best when I create intentions that partner with His heart, as I feel the beat of it now, but don’t dictate outcomes.

With intentions, there’s still room for creativity, joy and discovery on your path throughout the year.

Happy New Year, everyone!