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.

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. 

Weightless Warrior: On Fencing Well at 30,000 Feet

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!


“Be fully present. Feel your heart. And engage the next moment without an agenda.” – Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change

I’ve always considered myself an armchair fencer.

My well-loved collection of fencing manuals attest to my ongoing interest in martial history. Then there’s my multi-year, still-unfulfilled intention to take an actual historical fencing class. At least, this year I started yoga again, so I can at least get back in shape for this new level of martial commitment.

One might say my interest in fencing to date has been mostly intellectual. After all, reading a manual does not make one an actual fencer. Book knowledge alone will not win a bout. Nor does intending to take a class replace for actually taking one.

Until now, I’ve been okay with that.

Let’s face it: the armchair version of combat is pretty safe. The armchair is grounded on terra firma. My backside is flat on that seat. The stakes are low, the danger nonexistent. While it’s quite entertaining to speculate how I might parry a blow or wrestle an opponent to the ground, I do not really have to do these things.

I do not actually have to dance with Death.

In fencing, there’s a fine line between fighting and dancing. An even finer line between dancing and falling flat on your face (with a sword in your back). As long as I’m tied to the armchair, I don’t have to risk much of anything. 

It’s combat, without the very thing that makes combat so exhilarating: risk. 

Recently, I’ve realized that my approach to fencing is rather indicative of my general approach to life.

While some might call me a risk-taker, and I do have a history of unconventional choices, I know deep down that I manage my level of risk pretty heavily. I only take on projects I feel have a decent chance of succeeding, according to whatever standard I’ve set up. I don’t step out very often without a lot of pre-consideration. And whatever else I do, I make sure I’ve got good old terra firma underneath my feet. 

But that was before I read Pema Chödrön’s disarmingly bold little book Living Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change. Chodron recasts the traditional Buddhist Three Commitments—known as the Warrior Tradition—for a modern audience.

In practical terms, she argues that uncertainty is actually the only certainty in human existence. The suffering we experience is tied to our resistance to that uncertainty, not to the uncertainty itself. She renames uncertainty as groundlessness, and invites us to welcome this sense of constant shift as a welcome sign we are truly alive.

 Tallhoffer’s fechbuch is one of my favorites. Don’t these two chaps look like they’re fighting in a groundless space?

“Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet,” Chödrön writes, “to realize our dream of constant okayness . . .”

I love this mental picture of groundlessness. For me in my current stage of life, groundless often feels not just like shifting ground, but like no ground at all. When things are uncertain in my life, I feel like I’m a fencer levitating en garde at 30,000 feet. All I can feel, see and sense is the sheer lack of anything between me and the pinprick landscape below.

This, Chodron says, is exactly how things should be. And exactly how we resist them being.

She goes on to argue that groundlessness is our best training for the Warrior Tradition: the place where we really learn to live with courage, radical openness to all beings, and love that always says, “yes” to what life sends our way. In other words, for those fencing-inclined among us who are series about enlightenment, groundlessness is the perfect place to fight.

But what the heck does it really mean to fight well at 30,000 feet?

I don’t have a manual for that in my collection.

While I’m no guru on the subject, I have a few theories. To me, under these circumstances, fighting well means learning to walk on air and love the feeling. It means living each day as if you’re dancing through the clouds, knowing every lunge or pivot could break the nothingness you balance on and send you plunging to your death. 

To me, fighting well at 30,00 feet means parrying with your own mortality—and enjoy the thrill.

We can choose to see this as terrifying, or we (like Kate Winslet in Titanic) can spread our arms wide and welcome the wind.

“If we can get in touch with the sensation as sensation and open ourselves to it without labeling it good or bad,” Chodron writes, “then even when we feel the urge to draw back, we can stay present and move forward into the feeling.”

The remedy, in other words, is to stop resisting the discomfort of life at 30,000 feet. To stop looking down, and to start sitting with our anxiety, erasing the thousand storylines our brain wants to concoct about why it is “good” and “bad,” in that moment. 

The remedy, then, is to simply be.

Like warriors, we must train ourselves to fight well in any circumstances. Instead of running from the pain of uncertainty, we actually advance into those wispy clouds, blades lifted confidently, feeling the fact that we have absolutely no ground under our feet, delighting in it, and moving forward anyway.

The problem, then, is never our anxiety about uncertainty. It’s the fact that we think there’s something wrong with anxiety.

“But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it,”Chödrön says, “when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature . . .”

She promises a sense of rest and peace, of exhilaration even, that come with cultivating this practice of acceptance.

All this sounds wonderful enough between the pages of a book, of course. But what happens when life throws you a few curveballs, as it did to me just days long after I determined to start practicing my 30K-foot fencing skills? 

I can’t say as I was thrilled to see huge challenges loom up in my face. But I was not surprised, either. This sort of thing always happens after you decide to try on a new way of being. Some of the challenges, predictably, were tied to recent life situations that are still very painful for me.

 Yes, occasionally women did get in on the fencing action in late medieval society.

In that space, huge old fears loom large despite one’s own best efforts. It’s far easier to panic than keep a clear head.

But this time, instead of resisting the panic twisting in my chest, I decided to dance with it. I shut my eyes for 90 seconds and just sat with the feelings in compassion. No judgement. No sweeping it under the emotional rug. No suppressing it. (Which, by the way, only makes the panic worse.) 

I erased my mind of stories about whether these events were good, or bad, or anything at all, and just felt the sensation of groundlessness moving through my body.

And that’s exactly what it did: move through.

To my surprise, each time the panic evaporated, after about 90 seconds of focused concentration, I was able to release it completely and feel calm again. Occasionally, I was even able to get to what Chödrön calls “blue sky”—the place where you can see beyond fear-based storylines completely to consider how the anxiety-inducing event might actually open up new horizons.

Most of all, I felt a curious tickling in my chest: an urge to throw back my head and laugh out loud in sheer joy at the insanity of it all. After all, if you’re going to dance with chaos, you’ve got be able to laugh. 

When I did manage to truly laugh out loud, I felt a rush of freedom and a sense of exhilaration I don’t think I’ve ever felt in my life. I flung open my arms and said, “Bring me whatcha got, world. Bring me the biggest brand of crazy you have. ’Cause this time, we’re going to dance.”

I cannot remember the last time I genuinely laughed in the face of my own uncertainty and pain. Not a laugh of derision, spite or anger . . . but a true laugh of joy that this beautiful, crazy groundlessness means I am no longer asleep. 

I am fully awake now. And to be awake, to me, means so much more than to be “not asleep.” It means to be alive.

In those precious moments, I knew everything would be okay. Because to laugh with joy, and welcome with open arms,the opponent you fear most, nothing to stand on, is the truest form of fighting well. It also the path to freedom.

At 30,000 feet, there may not be much ground. There’s no armchair to keep me safe, and we’re fencing on a landscape of clouds.

It’s all blue sky up here.

Life After Creative Perfectionism: Making Friends Again with Your Old Art

Me in 2012, in my Scrappy Storyteller steampunk costume


Recently, I made the decision to move my blogging back to WordPress.

This is the first platform I ever used to share my words with the world–and despite having hopped around to other platforms, I’ve come back here because it’s simple and built so well for SEO and for organic connections. In doing so, I bumped into my old art again.

Let’s rewind three and a half years. I was living in a 120ish-year-old Victorian frame house on Milwaukee’s blustery east side, just ten blocks from Lake Michigan. My husband (now ex-husband) and I had bought the house in 2012 and restored it from utter ruin to a beautiful gem on the block, and part of that restoration was turning two useless, broken-down rooms into a beautiful creative studio.

My first studio was a second-floor bedroom, which became a cozy nest for many creative endeavors, including my blogging, a 24-part serialized online fantasy novel, collaborative web series and Steampunk comic book.

In Spring 2016, I moved from that now-overflowing space into the attic, which my ex-husband had turned into a “rec room” for the buyer who would eventually allow us to flip the property. In the meantime, I made it my new, larger studio with dedicated spaces for sewing and appliqué, painting, reading, writing and running my small branding agency for women-owned businesses.

Interestingly, I have no photos of that second space. But it was about three times the size of the space above, if not more.

Our 120ish-yr-old Victorian home after fresh painting. (The third-floor window was my studio.)

At that time, I was running a blog about the improvisational creative process, called “Scrappy Storyteller.” The blog is no longer live. When I found out I was getting a divorce, I was so devastated that my creative process shut down almost instantly, and I eventually shut down the blog.

I thought I had deleted that blog. Until this month, that is.

While poking around in WordPress to get this blog up and running, I found the old Scrappy Storyteller, and with it, literally hundreds of posts that represented my creative hopes, fears, dreams, challenges and successes.

It truly felt like a “blast from the past.” Since I last wrote on Scrappy Storyteller, I have gotten divorced, built a business, destroyed it, lost everything in the process, traveled the world, renewed my relationship with God and wound up settling in the United Arab Emirates–where God has blessed me with a brand-new, overflowing life I could never have imagined in the old one.

Reading those old posts, I wanted to reach out and embrace the struggling, hard-working, sort-of-successful-sort-of-not woman that I was, and let her know that everything would be okay.

Yes, her worst fears were about to come true in the biggest possible way.

And yes, she would survive it all to rise from the ashes brand-new.

In other words … everything I was hoping and dreaming for in those long-ago days in my creative nest on the shores of the Great Lakes, have or are beginning to come true. I just didn’t know it would take the biggest losses of my life to unlock those good gifts.

I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude reading those old posts, as if finding them were a huge God-gift I hadn’t even expected.

You see, back when I got divorced, I went into a creative hole. Perfectionism had been my biggest enemy as a young creative–and my divorce was like the crowning proof that I was a failure, at least in my mind at that time. How could anyone want to read what I had to say when I had failed at my marriage? Partially because I was more married to my craft than my husband?

It seemed prudent to let all that writing go. So I shut down the blog and all my creative projects that were on the docket for that year, and for the three years since.

This pattern of creative rejection–and ejection–would continue over the next three years.

Trying to find my mojo again, I started other blogs and other projects, only to get halfway through and eject them, just like before. For some reason, I thought that getting rid of what I had done in the past was the only way to embrace the new.

And in those weary years of wandering, I desperately just wanted the new to come.

Now, looking back from a vantage point of time, healing and a greater understanding of God’s never-ending flow, I realize it wasn’t necessary to eject everything I had done.

Cutting off a diseased limb isn’t the way to heal the whole body (usually). For most maladies, a holistic treatment is available that preserves the limb. But amputation was the only method I knew. And in some ways, it was probably a reflection of my self-rejection, sadness and sense of failure at the time.

But now … but now … God has unexpectedly given me a new opportunity: to embrace that hurting young woman, recognize that nascent prophetic voice within her and retroactively extend healing to who she was.

After all, God lives outside of space and time. Sometimes I wonder if that Younger Me still exists concurrently with the Current Me in His vision of time. I don’t know–but I know that my own healing is tied to forgiving, deeply accepting and loving who I was in the past.

I’m excited to do that today.

Going forward, I’ll be sharing select posts from Scrappy Storyteller. I’ll denote them clearly so you know they aren’t my latest thoughts and ideas. But in making space for the Old Me in this creative space of mine, I think it will be a more fertile ground for the New Me to grow–especially as an artist.

Welcome, Old Lisa, Scrappy Storyteller. I celebrate who you were, the challenges you faced and the journey you went on.

You paved the way for Who I am today, and I bless you.

Your story is part of my story, always.

Let’s tell them together.

When EL SHADDAI Meets FOMO: Who’s really driving our pursuit of love, creativity and money

“Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything–every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do.” — 2 Corinthians 9:8 (Passion Translation)

Ever since I began intentionally cultivating my feminine energy, goal-setting has been difficult. It’s not that goals are bad, or that people (ie: women) strong in feminine energy can’t set them and knock them out. I know that’s absolutely not true. But there’s a discontentment in modern goal-setting that fuels a certain amount of pressure, and therefore, achievement.

Did you notice that every keyword in that sentence is more associated with masculine energy than feminine? Discontentment, fuel, pressure, achievement. Masculine energy pushes for something different. Feminine energy—properly channeled—has a deep, restful relationship with the present.

Masculine energy DOES. Feminine energy IS.

While you’re busy being present, it’s a whole lot harder to try to make something different in the future. Because when you’re happy and content in God now, living each moment to the fullest, the future takes care of itself. I have seen that over and over again.

Why is it that concept scares us so much? Even me, who’s done so much work to embrace “just being?”

I’m not sure, but I suspect our pursuit of what we think we lack has more to do with FOMO (fear of missing out) than it does of really wanting what we pursue.

Have you ever noticed that while FOMO may feel compelling, it doesn’t really feel very good?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that in relationship to marriage recently. Though I’ve embraced every other aspect of my life, singleness is still something I’ve worked hard to eliminate—though unsuccessfully to date. But if you look at my life, I actually spend a lot of time alone and am completely happy and totally renewed living this kind of life.

So why, exactly, am I so eager to change this estate that I’m in? Is it because I’m really called to be married—and I sense that deep down I’m supposed to contend for that gift—or is it because I’m 35, never experienced a happy marriage, and worry that if I don’t find it, I’ll miss out on one of life’s fundamental experiences.

The reality is, every woman of God I know well right now is experiencing deep trials in her marriage. I’m praying, counseling and contending with them all for breakthrough. All the while wondering where my Boaz is and all the while wondering, in addition, why on earth I would want the trials my friends are experiencing.

Because the visions of marriage I see in my head don’t include a spouse’s spiritual problems, radical shifts of perspective that happen after marriage, children with health problems or financial difficulties. And I’m sure they didn’t for my girlfriends, either, when they married the husband they have now, all of whom love God, but are deeply flawed human beings.

Funny how saying that changes see.

When I see marriage, I see victory and triumph—not the struggle that comes along with it. Which is what I already have in my single life, just in a different form. Yet when I think about being single, I fear that deep-down, I’m selfishly just passing time for myself and missing out on the “more” God might have for me.

We’re so terribly afraid of missing out on the more. So terribly afraid of settling. And so terribly afraid that our current reality is less than God intended for us.

Or is it just me who feels that way?

Last May, in the middle of a church service invitation, God spoke to me about Isaiah 43, in which He declares that He, the “God-of-Angel-Armies” as Isaiah often calls Him, is Israel’s husband and will care for them as such. The sermon was about the Book of Acts. It had absolutely nothing to do with God as a husband or the prophet Isaiah, yet God brought that passage to my mind and asked me a question so clear and startling, I looked around to see if anyone else might have heard it.

“Am I not Enough for you?”

He asked it several times, and in doing so, brought to mind all the ways He’s cared for me, cherished me and loved me as a good husband would. Does He have skin and a body, to hold me close and pleasure me in bed? No. But in almost every other way, He’s been a far superior husband than any human man would have been. (And I can say that as a woman who’s been in a deeply broken and unsatisfying marriage!)

Yesterday I was reminded of this again, as I pondered how much I love living alone, and wondering if, in embracing this path, I am closing myself off to the relationship God might still intend to send … which is not something I want to do.

But this blog is all about receiving God’s good gifts … so I want you to know, the struggle is real! I’m not always sure where contentment ends and settling begins, or where we’re so happy with what we have that we don’t contend and believe for more.

I can’t answer that question. But I do know last night as I was praying, I heard God say, “I AM ENOUGH.”

It was as clear and forceful as the day He asked, “Am I not Enough for you?” As if, nine months later, He had quit asking the question and was answering it for me, in case I hadn’t noticed.

Doug Addison, the noted Christian prophet, once said that prophecies often take nine months to birth, just like a human being. (I’ve always suspected that prophetic gifting, which flows and responds to the working of the Spirit in the moment, is heavily associated with feminine energy … but that’s another topic for another day.)

Anyway, if what Doug says is true, then this is the ninth-month birthing of that word God gave me nine months ago, even if it came in the form of a question. Interestingly, last August, a lady prophet in my church spoke the same over me before I left for Dubai, saying this would be the place I came to truly understand God as my husband.

She wrote the Scripture reference “Song of Solomon 2:8-17” on a coffee sleeve and handed it me before I left the church that night, the very last night I’d ever spend with my church family at Mercy Hill.

It’s hanging on my fridge right now. I look at it every day and ponder the meaning.

And yet I still secretly wonder if I’ve missed out on God’s best by “settling” for singleness.

Which leads me to suggest …. perhaps my focus is the problem. If the God-of-Angel-Armies is my Husband, and He is also Jehovah Jireh (Provider) and El Shaddai (sometimes translated “Enough,” could there ever be FOMO?

FOMO is me distrusting my own ability to know what’s best for me, and choose it.

ENOUGH is me trusting the God who gives everything to give me what’s best from His overflowing storehouse of provision.

What if I gave myself permission to enjoy my enjoyment of singleness, not fight it or stress about it, and trust that the God-of-Angel-Armies will change the situation when, and if, He chooses? After all, not much could possibly withstand an onslaught of Angels! 🙂

It’s important to caveat, of course, that a person can just be shut down and unreceptive to love—and this is at the root of many of our relationship problems and our sense of isolation or alienation. It’s important to suss out those blockages so we can allow God to clean them out and bless us with a flood of His love, peace and provision.

But happiness in your current estate is not a blockage to more happiness. And you’ll know when you’re truly contented in your estate—with a contentment from God—because there will be absolutely no anxiety around it.

FOMO is an awfully heavy burden to carry around everywhere. It’s fueled by fear, not by a healthy belief that God has more for me. And FOMO is not, by definition ENOUGH. In fact, it’s the very definition of lack. And lack is the enemy of feminine energy because when you live in a place of lack, you cannot, by definition, enjoy the present.

That’s not what I believe, or who I am.

If the God Who is called “ENOUGH” is my God, then the present is more than I need. And if that changes, He will change it for me.

That’s the essence of feminine energy. It’s the heartbeat of receptivity. And, unlike FOMO, it feels … good.

On Emigrating in the 21st Century

Me, my first week in Dubai — August 2018

At the turn of the 20th century, a young Polish woman got on a boat bound for America. She was a land-owner’s daughter, likely accustomed to some amount of privilege, and even possibly to an ancient title of minor nobility. Yet she left it all behind to join her sister—who was already settled in a far-off place called Ohio.

The reason? An intolerable home situation. Her mother had passed away, and when her father remarried, he chose a woman not much older than his younger daughter. The two women, it turns out, didn’t get along so well.

I think I’d get a boat for the same reason. Probably more so because I’m related to that young Polish woman—as her great-great granddaughter.

Fast-forward one hundred years, and I got on a plane in Chicago this past August with the same intention my ancestor had when she said goodbye to her native land. Except that instead of going to the “land of promise,” as America was then known, I flew east, past Great-Great Grandma’s native land to a place that, back when she lived, hadn’t even yet met Lawrence of Arabia.

I doubt Great-Great Grandma ever thought much about Arabia, except perhaps to see an old lithograph or two in a Polish geography book in school. But here I am, also an emigre, just for different reasons.

Perhaps some things really do “run in the family.”

I should probably clarify at this point that no one really immigrates to the United Arab Emirates. You come here to work. Or you come with someone who’s been hired to work. And when you don’t work anymore—or your sponsor doesn’t—you leave. Period. This country doesn’t give permanent residence visas, unless you’re a property investor or a retiree with more than $300,000 US in the bank that you strictly don’t touch.

Still, every day, this dusty jungle of sand and steel welcomes the world’s misfits, from West and East alike, with open arms. And we embrace this once-forgotten, now-flourishing desert as our own, for as long as the strength of our hands and the economy will allow. Or in my case, as long as God chooses to keep me here.

I’ve thought a lot about Great-Great Grandma since I arrived here. I honestly don’t know her name, other than that her last name was (oddly enough) “Organic.” Probably a butchering of some beautiful Polish name an Ellis Island officer couldn’t spell, yo. But I now understand with much more empathy how much courage she must have had, and the dreams she must have entertained coming to the U.S.

My mother has a few memories of her great-grandmother, caring for my mom when she (mom) was very very young, at her Ohio home. Great-great Grandma married and built a life for herself in the U.S., yes. But she never learned much English. To this day, occasionally my mom uses a Polish word (like “yaitsa” for “egg”) which she learned at Great-Great Grandma’s house.

I, by contrast, landed in a country that favors Arabic as a political policy, but where in practice English is the national language. I could talk to almost anyone upon arrival. (Of course, understanding their accents has been another exercise in itself.)

Like Great-Great Grandma, however, I rub shoulders every day with people who came from vastly different places than me. And we’re all here for one reason only:

Opportunity.

(Or for some of us oddballs, the call of God. But that’s another story for another day.)

It’s a strange day in the world when a girl with an American passport leaves home to seek opportunities elsewhere. I’m sure Great-Great Grandma never thought she’d see such a day come when America was not the only real center of opportunity. For many it still is, but for me, in God’s good plan for my life, it was a worn-out door swinging shut on rusty hinges.

I don’t regret coming to the United Arab Emirates at all. The pace of life in Dubai is insane—let’s just get that out there—but it’s also an amazing place. I’ve made incredible friends from all over the world, traveled easily to places that take forever to reach from America, and been blessed with a new measure of financial stability after several years of relying solely, like Elijah, on the ravens of God for food.

But I still can’t help feeling a pang of homesickness every now and then. The people, the places, the food. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a vivid vision of some place in Milwaukee—the verdant slopes of South Shore Park, for example, on the beach of Lake Michigan—that I deeply love. The last summer I spent in Milwaukee was a glorious finale to ten years of loving that place very deeply and experiencing the very best of it.

Then, one day it was gone. I took off on a plane and, three planes later, got off in Ellis Island, which for me was the glittering marble and chrome of Dubai International Airport, where I was suddenly in line behind Indian women in colorful kurtas and Arab women, their whole bodies covered in black.

Life is strange, isn’t it?

Perhaps wanderlust is just in the family genes. Or perhaps God really does allow us to play out experiences of our ancestors, all over again, redeeming them for His purposes. I don’t know anything about my great-great grandmother’s spiritual life or beliefs. I don’t know if there were any other God-fearing prophetic women in my lineage.

But out of their experiences, God birthed me. And though I traveled here for Him—and not as an escape for an intolerable home situation—I still send love and respect to the memory of Great-Great Grandma.

Her courage was an example for me, long before I knew I’d even need that same courage myself.

Turn of the 20th century. Turn of the 21st …

The cycles of life continue.

A Tale of Two Sunsets … and Two Seasons of Life

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Think things won’t change?

Give God a year and see what happens.

I love a lot of things about the new home God has sent me in Dubai. But perhaps the thing I love most, besides the people He has placed in my life, are the sunsets. Last night, I got to enjoy this amazing edition (above) with a friend as we strolled around a local market perched on the edge of the Arabian Gulf. There’s no filter on this photo, other than the little “enhancement” button my iPhone has.

But as awesome as this sunset was, as it happened, it wasn’t the only sunset I saw today. Facebook also reminded me of a memory and sent me another sunset photo—of the one I saw exactly one year ago to the day, in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Could those two sunsets be any more different? Ah, now there’s the story.

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Dream Trip? Um yeah, no ….

Going to Iceland may sound exotic, not to mention the extreme opposite from a sunset in the Middle East!! For me it was definitely a bucket-list dream—but I wouldn’t have picked to go in the nadir of the year: those cold, dark, seemingly-“dead” weeks before the winter solstice. I also wouldn’t have picked to do it with about $40 USD in the bank. This translates to about 5,000 Icelandic krona.

If you know anything about Iceland, you know it’s expensive to do anything there, from taking a taxi to eating lunch. Five thousand krona might get you one meal. Maybe two if you shop deals hard for, like, two hours in advance of each meal. (Who has time for that, yo?) I don’t know, it might even cost you 5,000 krona to eat at McDonald’s. Not that I did … but my point is: it’s freaky expensive to survive.

Frankly, when I arrived and saw what I was really dealing with price-wise, I wasn’t sure I was going to survive at all.

I had money set aside for this trip. Not a lot, but definitely more than $40 USD. And then … as always seemed to happen during this “Nothing” phase of my life … the money had to get reallocated for other purposes. Last-minute financial crises always seemed to hit when I was about to take a trip I had felt led to schedule in the first-place.

Iceland was no exception.

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Last Ray of Hope (or So It Seemed)

I remember that sunset well. December 2 2017. I was pounding the cobblestone pavement of old-town Reykjavik, peeking in windows and snapping photos of the adorable cats and dogs that seemed to grow three extra layers of fur against the biting Atlantic wind. I wasn’t going in many places, because what’s the point when you don’t have money to spend? Stepping inside a restaurant  to get warm and read the menu gets really awkward after awhile when you don’t ask for a table!

There’s only about three hours of sun in Reykjavik any given day at that time of year, and since the rest of my stay in Iceland was totally cloudy, it’s a good thing I snapped this photo before the sun went down that day. Right at the top of the hill in front of Reykjavik Cathedral, the national church known for its distinctive bell tower (among other architectural features).

I couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful than that last ray of light amid the grimness.

After I took the photo, I remember deciding to blow 2000 of my non-existent krona on a bowl of lamb stew—the absolute rock-bottom cheapest local food I could find—so I could at least say I had eaten a “traditional local meal” whilst on the island. I walked around for a few more hours before heading back to the silent, empty women’s dormitory of the hostel where I rented a bed. More a hostel for ghosts, it would seem. I never saw another human soul there the whole time I stayed.

The north wind whistled around that traditionally-built wooden house. And even though I knew it had been built generations ago to withstand exactly this kind of weather, I still shuddered every time I heard a board creak.

It was as if the wind intended to splinter not only the house, but what was left of my life.

End of One Life, Beginning of the Next

That sunset has stuck in my mind ever since. Mostly because it reminded me that there was still light, still hope. That even though my life seemed completely out of control, traveling to Europe alone simply because God said to, with no money and no plan, at the ugliest/darkest/most depressing time of year … well, even in the middle of that mental and emotional landscape (which happened to feel as barren as Iceland!), there was still a sun behind the clouds.

Fast-forward 365 days, I was sitting on the pier at a market in Dubai, eating a beautiful meal with a friend whom I didn’t even know last year. There was food in my belly, cash in my wallet, and even a bank card with more where that came from, if I should happen to need it. I was enjoying a holiday from an amazing job, wearing a new dress I’d picked out myself, and was carrying a card in my purse that entitled me to resident benefits and services from the UAE, a country I never even once thought of while I was penny-pinching my way through Europe.

And then there was that sunset, the one I posted at the top of this post. One of the most breathtaking sunsets I have ever seen in my life, right there over my head, God’s banner of love painted in watercolors across the sky.

I couldn’t help noticing that everything about it was extravagant: the scope, the size, the layers, the intensity of color. All of it was triple or quadruple (maybe more!) of those same features in the Icelandic sunset.

Between Dec 2 2017 and Dec 2 2018, it’s like someone took the saturation tool in Photoshop and jacked it up to maximum.

My life, too, feels like it’s been jacked up since that now long-ago day.

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Change is the Only Constant

There’s no greater lie than the one we all like to tell ourselves when we’re most in distress: “Things will never change. Because in the walk of faith, I’ve noticed, change is the only constant. Sometimes, as in the tale of two sunsets, you just gotta wait 365 days to really see the full effect.

If I could go back to that girl I was last year, floundering in life, questioning why she couldn’t seem to settle down, and why nothing was working out, and why she was traveling in Europe when she just wanted to be home with people she loved … except that the more she chased home, the more it seemed to evade her … I would hug her and tell her it’s going to be okay.

Yeah, even when you’ve landed in a country where it’s 20 degrees Fahrenheit in December and there’s 20 hours of darkness every single day.

Seasons come, yes. But they also go. There’s no guarantee that next year’s sunset on December 2nd will be anything like this year’s. If you’re smart (and you know how God works), you know better than to say, “Nothing’s ever gonna change” out loud. Or in your heart. Or even in your deepest, darkest thoughts.

Because words have power. Expectations are the fence we try to build around what God can or will do next. You have no idea what’s coming next in your life, even if it seems as bleak and dead as a frozen island in the middle of the North Atlantic.

So don’t build a box for God that you don’t want to live in.

For every dead twig, salt-soaked rock and gust of killing wind I felt in Iceland last year on this same day …. I’ve been repaid a hundred-fold in flowering trees, warm Gulf waves between my toes and endless sunshine. Not to mention amazing friends who feel like family, a steady income and the prospect of once more trading my suitcase for an address.

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Are you really ready for your big shift?

Honestly, I’m kind of glad no one told me about the Dec 2 2018 sunset back on Dec 2 2017. Because no matter how much they would have tried to encourage me with it, I wouldn’t have been ready to believe it was possible, or even receive it into my life.

Maybe you’re not ready, either, for what God wants to send you in the way of prosperity, love, community, ministry and purpose by this time next year.  Maybe He knows it’s gonna take a WHOLE year of wandering to prepare you for your blessing.

Don’t fight how He chooses to work—even if He sends you on what seems like a fool’s errand.

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One year later, at a market on the Arabian Gulf!

What if I had to be in Iceland last year at this time, and snap that one precious sunset photo, because He knew it was the only way I would fully appreciate and worship Him for the shifts in my life?

That’s probably not the only reason … but even if it were, the “fool’s errand” is starting to look quite a bit less foolish.

Waiting for your big shift? In the meantime, trust the process. Watch the sunsets. Guard your heart, your mind and your words against thinking change will never happen. Thank God in advance that you’ll be seeing next year’s edition from a whole different vantage point.

Oh yeah … and don’t forget to take a lot of photos. You never know when God might use Facebook memories to help you remember!

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