Beira Brown | artist seeking life's borderless extravagance »

Bend

We spread out our picnic blanket that lived in the back of the car all summer long. We placed it over deep green grass overlooking the lake, a pint of Three Twins sea salt caramel ice cream and two spoons in hand.

We wanted to be a little higher to enjoy the sight, but it would have to do for the evening. Short people problem, perhaps, always feeling like we can’t get a good look. Or maybe it’s been an inner desire we hadn’t yet verbalized.

We talked of the view and the trees partially hiding it away. Oh this is one way many of our conversations turn–the way we can walk into a space and point out all the things we would change to maximize its strengths.

Right there on our blanket we dreamed of our dream space. And then we looked at each other and in sync we knew.

“I think we want to move somewhere new.”

We’d been ignoring this longing for so long, we had forgotten it was even in here.

 

But like embers it was still glowing inside us, ever so slowly, ever so lowly, never going out. And when we unstuffed our lives and purged all of our earthly belongings we found a fire reviving inside us, consuming all the fears that had been suffocating these embers from glowing and burning a fire in our dream.

 

We quietly breathed upon it, letting it’s flames rise inside us, waiting, observing, and wanting it to come fully alive. We never woke up with the dream faded away in the night. Instead the fire grew stronger and fiercer; we could no longer deny it.

If we don’t go on this adventure now, the flames of the fire will fall, and the embers will fade, and we will die inside.

The regret of not doing so will be far greater than the regret of taking the dream and running with it.

We have a dream and each other and a God who is with us wherever we go. There is no plan, just an adventure as we live out the unknown–the unknown that has mysteriously become our comfort zone.

We’ve already risked it all. We have nothing to lose and further full life to gain. So we will continue living freely and lightly, here, there, and everywhere. The next “there” happens to be Bend, Oregon. Yes, we are relocating!


(all images from personal iPhone of the actual day we realized we desired to relocate)

ilia m riveraMarch 8, 2016 - 12:36 pm

Oh Wow that is exciting !! Wish you guys the best . God will guide your path. Go and make your lives shine !! God bless Ilia

BeiraMarch 8, 2016 - 12:45 pm

Thank you, Ilia! We don’t have it all figured out, but just one step at a time is fine for us 🙂

BridgetMarch 8, 2016 - 6:21 pm

Why bend?

Mindy MichelleMarch 8, 2016 - 6:48 pm

SOOO exciting!! Congrats!

LaceyMarch 9, 2016 - 1:33 pm

I’m excited for you, Beira! Not just for pursuing this dream but also that you’ve picked such a great place to relocate to. I may have already told you this, but my husband has said that the only other place he’d live besides where we are right now is Bend. 🙂 It has so much to offer and I truly believe it will be a grand adventure for your family.

BeiraMarch 14, 2016 - 10:06 pm

Bend has a lot of the things that fit our lifestyle and an active artist culture. And we figured, why not! 🙂

BeiraMarch 14, 2016 - 10:06 pm

Thank you, Mindy!

BeiraMarch 14, 2016 - 10:08 pm

Thank you, Lacey! We can’t wait to get out there and explore all of the region and the state. Choosing Oregon wasn’t hard, but picking a specific area was–there are so many neat places to live in!

Borderless Extravagance

I slipped on my cozy boots and warmest coat, and exited the house to round the neighborhood as I exhaled the cares of the day and inhaled new energies to finish out the night. Instead of resetting my breathing pattern, I was met with a challenge as I cut right on Deborah Drive.

I was very wrong in believing that our stay with my parents was an in-between step to a direct path to our new house, but I was right in sensing that our stay with them would be much longer than we had planned.

I needed some space to be alone and let the stories in my head play out and quiet down. It didn’t take long for stillness to come and sit down inside my mind.

As I turned that corner, God began speaking to me, referring back to that one disrupted sleep I had before our move when I woke up with that one random thought.

“God’s extravagance is borderless. We limit what he can do in us, through us, and for us.”

I had put it in my phone notes and rolled back to sleep not questioning what it meant. I was too tired to ponder it then. But I had thought of it during daylight hours when I could sit in wonder. And now here He was, bringing up that random thought that was obviously not randomly placed in the middle of my sleeping brain.

“You know, Beira, my extravagance has always been borderless. You are just becoming aware of it. Do you trust me?”

At that same instant in an entirely separate part of my being I knew exactly how God was challenging me, us, to really trust him.

I gasped some of that cold air into my lungs and slowly returned it as a puff of heat.

“What about buying a house?”

 “Do you trust me?”

“What about…?”

I heard silence in response to my questioning.

Back home, John and I faced a fork in the road with one choice holding a promise. That same choice meant complete surrender of our control and an embrace of the unknown. We mustered up all our courage and every cent we had saved for years to buy a house (and to do it right) went to pay off our student loans. This is where I gulp thinking about it because it meant that we would be financially stuck for at least a few months even if we decided to go back to renting (remember, we got rid of half of our belongings).

My heart’s disposition was to trust because the One making the promise has fulfilled many promises to me before. I was full of curiosity to discover more of His borderless extravagance.

John 6:39-40 speaks about aligning ourselves with God, trusting Him, and entering real life. We accepted the challenge. We surrendered our plan and decided to trust His plan, without really knowing the outcome or even the next step.

It was easy to take the step but it has been hard to walk the journey that has followed.

Just when we thought we were about to enter through the doors of a new house for our family, we walked through waiting room doors into the unknown.

When you walk into the unknown, you lose the how. There are no answers to how.

No answer to “how will we get out of here?”

No answer to “how long will we be here?”

No answer to “how is this all going to turn out?”

No answer to “how do we make sense of this for our kids?”

No answer to “how will I make it through?”

But there is no gain in playing it safe.

 “He said, ‘That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag. Luke 19:26 MSG

I got tired of playing it safe and I found myself risking it all, including myself.

This space of uncertainty was the place where I lost myself. It has felt like death while walking around completely aware of it. It has tasted like corroded metal. It has smelled like stale air. I’ve heard myself screaming at the top of my lungs while my lips have been sealed shut. I’ve felt my insides trying to squirm out of me. I’ve shed many tears while swallowing my pride.

Yet in the same space I have found more than I could have ever imagined. (That’s just how God’s economy works.)

I have seen small glimpses of God’s borderless extravagance through the way this journey has worked inside of me and shifted my life perspective.

I have discovered how fear has been a bully in my life. I have learned how to stand up to it and tell it to shut up. I have dared to dream bigger than ever. I have shed lies that have hindered growth in me.

I have also uncovered passions and purpose that bring me completely alive, some in ways I had not experienced before.

This has all been from a trust challenge.

Sometimes we need a good trust challenge to uncover how we allow ourselves to be robbed of living fully.

We need to risk life so we can become aware of how limiting we are of God’s work in, through, and for us. Because once we gain that awareness, the answer to how to remove the limitations is clear.

It’s not too late yet to risk your life. Hang tight. Your capacity to live is going to be enlarged. Dare to trust and seek out Borderless Extravagance?

JohnMarch 3, 2016 - 8:57 pm

I am glad to be on this adventure with you. It is great to see you paint it so colorfully with words.

JohannaMarch 3, 2016 - 9:51 pm

My beautiful friend~ loved it so inspiring ~ dared to seek borderless Extravagance? Wow!!!

BeiraMarch 4, 2016 - 7:47 am

Thank you, Johanna. I hope it inspires you as much as it has for me 🙂

waiting

After John and I made ourselves available by clearing out our overcrowded schedules, I thought we had it all figured out. Our paced slowed down and our stress decreased. John had time to create his art again.  Very quickly our focus began shifting toward a joint desire to work on something together. As we dreamed about it and pictured what it would look like, we linked it to the reason why we had said no to some really good things that had been taking up space in our lives. We thought we had clarity after a short life shift that had felt like a fog had settled over our life. I wanted to find validation for the pain and grief I experienced giving up those good things we had been doing. The scabs from pulling things out of our life were still fresh and not fully healed, and I was desperate for some clarity.

But when we think we know it all, we are only a few steps short of discovering that we know nothing.

When we thought we had a clear plan and had hit the road running with our idea, we received the news that we needed to move out of the house we had rented for over 8 years. That same week our dog got sick and we had to put him down. This was not part of the plan. In a seven day window, I felt like my world had been tilted enough to give me a falling sensation and stumble over my feet.

We were a few months shy of house hunting. Without our dog to dirty up their house, my parents gave us the invitation to move in with them. It seemed silly to find an in-between place for a few months until we found a house to buy.

Perhaps this was the reason for the “wait on Me” invitation I had received just a few months prior?

It seemed like this in-between move was an in-between step to the direct path to our new house.

Moving in with my parents was the clear answer at the time. I could not believe that we were agreeing to it, but it would only be for a few months.

We got rid of half of our belongings, moved our beds and clothes in with us, and the rest went to storage.

I must tell you how not being busy in that season was the saving grace of our family. Had we continued the pace we had the year prior, our mini crisis would have been devastating and disastrous.

Dust settled a bit and so did we.

Running freely in the backyard that had suddenly become their stomping grounds, the kids’ laughter told very little of our family’s sudden move and the grief they experienced over the loss of our furry family member.

As I watched them from the kitchen window I sensed that our move was more than temporary, yet I had no idea what that meant. I had this feeling that we were going to be with my parents longer than we had planned but I couldn’t perceive why.

“Wait on Me.”

The life shift and work in our souls was only just beginning.

As the snow came down, I put on my boots and coat, grabbed my camera, and told my daughter to put on her “Sunday coat.” I had bought the coat with a vision of a snowy portrait of her two years ago. The past two winters she refused to participate. It is surprising the coat still fits her! The little lady finally cooperated last week.

As I pulled up the photos on my computer, John looking over my shoulder, I said, “I waited two years for that photo. Two years!”

“It was worth the wait, wasn’t it?” he said.

“Yes.”

If the outcome is worth it, why is it so hard and painful to wait?

In the space of waiting we are pressed, stretched, and challenged. How we respond to the wait reflects the areas of our soul that need to be purged and polished. In the wait we can clear the cobwebs off the dreams and hopes and desires that we put in storage long ago. We can rediscover the treasures we inadvertently forgot about.

What if you are guaranteed that the outcome will be worth the wait? Would you be willing to wait? Would you be willing to be still in the wait without striving to make it all happen your way in your own strength?

Getting un-busy was a lesson in giving up striving and surrendering to the belief that God can take care of me and He doesn’t want me to run ragged trying to make it happen, whatever the “it” might be. Living in waiting has been a test of that lesson I learned. Would I really stay in a surrendered heart posture and stop fabricating how to make it all work out to fit my expectations? Time will soon tell.

While our waiting season is not quite over (the few months turned into fifteen of them and counting), it is so close to being over that I could burst! Some days I’m not sure if it’s delight or distress that I feel. Delight that it’s so close, distress that it is not yet here.

The wait is still stretching and pressing in on us, but we are almost on the other side of the mountain, coming out of a dark tunnel, ready to inhale the fresh air.

Are you in a season of waiting? Are you going through a life shift and unsure of the path ahead? Is the lack of clarity making it hard to wait? Whatever it is, it’s worth the wait! Don’t settle. Make room for the best.

When I finish my unfinished story, I will answer, “yes, it was worth the wait!” You just wait and see!

Wanda StaufferFebruary 16, 2016 - 9:24 am

Precious lessons we learn in tough times. Beautifully written and gorgeous photos!

BeiraFebruary 16, 2016 - 9:30 am

Thank you so much, Wanda!

JohnFebruary 16, 2016 - 9:31 am

Your Words are as beautiful as Eliora.

BeiraFebruary 16, 2016 - 9:32 am

you make me blush, my love! 😉

LindseyFebruary 16, 2016 - 11:04 am

Your words really resonated with me this morning as I also feel “almost on the other side of the mountain, coming out of a dark tunnel, ready to inhale fresh air.” Eliora is gorgeous and the photo was certainly worth the wait.

BeiraFebruary 16, 2016 - 3:48 pm

Knowing that the words here resonated with you makes my day, Lindsey. I pray you and I will both have strength to persevere.

CarriFebruary 17, 2016 - 1:35 pm

My friend, thank you for this! We too have been in what seems like an endless waiting period. The eagerness & restlessness I know all too well! And yet God says to me, “be still & know that I am God.”
It’s hard waiting and yet I know His plan is perfect far beyond what we can even imagine!

BeiraFebruary 17, 2016 - 1:55 pm

You’re welcome, Carri. It’s that wrestling between the eagerness and restlessness that stirs all kinds of ideas to get ahead of God. But “be still”; it always puts me back at rest.

Breaking Busy

This past November I received an email invitation to participate in a book launch just after I had decided to drown out some distractions (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, and reading) so I could focus on creating daily. I told myself I could not participate since I had just made the decision to not read for the month and I didn’t want to sabotage my goal and/or not fulfill the commitment for the book launch team. However, I couldn’t ignore the book title: Breaking Busy. If you read my last post, you understand why I simply could not ignore it.

 

I had never heard of the author, Alli Worthington (which I should have since I’m a big fan of Propel Women), but it didn’t take very long to feel like I was listening to an old chatty friend telling me about her journey in breaking the cycle of busy in her life.

I found myself laughing at her mishaps as she described her crazy busy life (her before), and I also nodded in agreement as I went through each chapter, because although not the same, her journey reads VERY similar to mine. It gave me a bit of relief, like “Good! I know I’m not crazy but if I am, so is Alli. Haha.”

It’s funny how we find comfort in knowing there’s someone else out there that knows our struggle at some capacity and we aren’t at it alone.

 

While I’ve already broken my busy cycle and I’m available to live life freely and lightly, Alli is further along in the journey and has seen the fruit of her obedience to breaking busy at a higher level than I have (so far; I’ll get there soon enough!).

The honesty and rawness she uses to share about her struggles spoke deeply into my soul, yet her sense of humor brings a lightheartedness to the topic.

Breaking Busy covers many of the areas that can be a hindrance in breaking the busy cycle, areas I personally had to tackle in order to stop being so busy:

  • confronting destructive thoughts
  • cutting things out of my life
  • understanding the false beliefs leading me to say yes to the wrong things or getting me stuck in the “I should” mode.
  • and more

I wish this book had been available in 2014. It would have served as the perfect guide to making the hard decisions of saying no to good things to be available for the best, disappointing people, and understanding what was actually happening to me (no, I was not having a mid-life crisis and losing my mind). It’s hard explaining yourself when you’ve cut things out of your life without really having a plan for the “so, what next?” that well-meaning people ask.

 

When you make edits (as Alli refers to cutting things out of your life), it can feel very drastic and crazy and a bit scary entering the unknown. It’s easy to start believing that this season of entering into a new rhythm will not last. Dread can easily overtake your thoughts. It slowly crept into mine without realizing it until I read Breaking Busy.

Without spoiling the beauty of it, in chapter 5 Alli goes through Psalm 23 in such a refreshing way. It was exactly the words I needed to read at the right time because I had been living with an underlying sense of dread about the unknown of my journey ahead. I honestly think my hair was falling out because of it!

After I read that chapter I felt something click on the inside and I have been able to put away those fearful thoughts before they have a chance to make themselves at home in my mind.

I did not regret a minute spent reading Breaking Busy, despite my initial plan to not read. It also didn’t disrupt my daily creative time 😉

If you want to be fruitful, focused, and available to live out your destiny, you need this book. If you are overwhelmed with your pace of life, lacking peace because you’re crazy busy, or going through a transition like I’ve been, pre-order this book. You’ll thank me later.

Order before January 26th, 2016 and you’ll receive a copy of the Breaking Busy Guide. There’s nothing in it for me; I sincerely hope to see other women who are living like I was break out of that life-killing cycle and come out to learn how to really live, fully and freely and lightly.

 

 

when busy almost broke me

When people ask you how you are, does “I’m so busy” roll off your tongue without second thought? Have you ever felt like there’s simply not enough time in the day to accomplish all of your tasks? Have you had a feeling of defeat at the end of a long, hard day when you didn’t get it all done? Have you experienced it for an extended period of time? This was my reality for a long time.

At the end of a busy fall portrait season, I found myself feeling very run down and exhausted. The thought that I would get to do it again left me feeling a bit suffocated. I asked myself, “Is this really what I get to do with my life?”

I felt worse as doubt crept in and I started questioning if I could keep up with the demands of my life. I tried shrugging it off since this is the “norm”, I thought, but I continued to wrestle with this. I can’t pinpoint exactly when, but I felt a Heavenly thought deposited into my mind encouraging me to rest.

I never gave myself permission to rest by the choices I made and priorities I set for my life. I was always on. Between homeschooling my children, maintaining my home, volunteering at church, and running a part-time business, I never got to rest. If I did get to sit and rest physically, my mind was racing down the to-do list and all the things I could be accomplishing instead of sitting. Or I would indulge and later in the evening beat myself up for not getting x-y-z done.

I had no time to rest. I was too busy to rest. I had to be available to the endless list of to-do’s in my life.

Rest was not part of my vocabulary, but I figured it would not hurt to rest a bit as a reward for my hard work. I thought allowing myself to sleep until 6 am for a month would silence the thought.

After a month of sleeping in, I was ready to jump back to my normal early wake ups, but I couldn’t do it. This was unusual given that I was up like clockwork every morning.

The message continued like a nagging, yet gentle, parent: rest, nurture, slow down, be available, stop striving.

I had no idea how much striving was consuming my life.

I halfheartedly surrendered because the encouragement to rest was popping up everywhere and I couldn’t ignore it.

The slowdown I experienced was confusing but the further I allowed myself to sink into it, the greater the peace I experienced within myself.

Just like winter doesn’t skip over the trees dropping their leaves, I was not skipping back to work until I dropped some harmful patterns.

Around that same time I came across this passage:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do t. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

It was like someone gave me a nice cold drink on a hot summer day. I felt something melt away in me and the other half of my heart caved. The invitation to live freely and lightly was so appealing!

But then I had to do the work–evaluating my life along with everything I had stuffed into it, dumping it all out, and picking up the things that fit back in with plenty of room to breathe. I wrote a bit on the GT Church Blog about my inner struggle and the work as well as not being busy.

While it’s been well over a year since it all clicked and I started making the necessary changes. I have never loved my life more than the one I am living right now. It feels amazing having time for the things that I want to do, the people that I love, and the life I am meant to live. Busy didn’t break me.

I know there’s many of you who are so busy and wish you weren’t.

Are you going to bed satisfied with your rhythm of life? Are you tired and worn out? Are you running out of time to do the things you enjoy and love, the activities that fulfill you? Are you so busy taking care of everyone else that you end up neglecting yourself? Does living a life “freely and lightly” appeal to you?

It is possible that this is your year to give your life a new rhythm. In my next post, I’ll be sharing about the pain of letting go and the reward of doing so.

 

KimJanuary 15, 2016 - 10:30 am

Yes….yes….yes!!! Loved this Beira and I have felt that way, too. I am also being the process of letting go, so I can be more intentional with my time on the things and people that I love and hold most dear. Thank you friend for being the example in my life. I have seen the change in you…and may I say it has been wonderful to watch from the outside. Much love, Kim

[…] This past November I received an email invitation to participate in a book launch just after I had decided to drown out some distractions (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, and reading) so I could focus on creating daily. I told myself I could not participate since I had just made the decision to not read for the month and I didn’t want to sabotage my goal and/or not fulfill the commitment for the book launch team. However, I couldn’t ignore the book title: Breaking Busy. If you read my last post, you understand why I simply could not ignore it. […]