I never thought that this would be the blog I would write.
But it is. And I am still coming to grips with that.
You see, I had a plan. Me - Vanessa Shepherd - self proclaimed dreamer and founder of "living head over heels" (this thing that I have held on to now for nearly a decade), and I prided myself on it. It was attached to me, almost as a part of my identity.
Well, not almost, it was part of my identity because I made it so.
I loved being known as a woman passionate about teen girl's ministry, and I loved dreaming new things and bigger dreams. I loved pushing myself to the limit with how much I was able to juggle and accomplish more than even I imagined. I loved obsessing over every intricate detail and watching them all unfold, and even be mimicked across multiple platforms. It was purposefully -satisfying. And I grew too attached.
I made this ministry an extension of who I am and when God started speaking to me about closing the chapter, walking away, I turned a deaf ear. Surely He couldn't ask me to do this. I can't do this. It was the dream and I was far from over dreaming it. It was a part of me.
I wanted to yell and scream and cry. Didn't God know what I was giving up? Why did He ask me to start this journey to begin with if He wouldn't let me see it through? Was it all just a waste of time? Did anything of lasting value come from all of the struggle and heartache?
About the time I had voiced all of my frustrations is when, as God often does, He gently tugged at my heart again. This time I knew what I had to do. This time I stopped fighting it. I couldn't be disobedient anymore. And with a fist clenched and tear-filled eyes, I finally relented. Frozen in anxiety and sadness I sat still long enough to hear what God was trying to say to me all along.
I listened to His heart for me pouring out from the scriptures. For me. Not for the ministry that I would do. But for me. Youth Pastor or not. Founder of some ministry or not. Speaker to tens (or hundreds) or not.
And I let Him speak new life and new trust into me as this next road is uncertain and seemingly "plain". Nothing glamorous. Nothing outrageously trail-blazing. I would be walking away from a ministry to teen girls where I had some sort of respect and notoriety, walk away from having extra hours in the week to help pastor the church God has led us to, walk away from even having opportunity to volunteer for others in all the ways I have given of myself to further their ministries... to work an eight to five.
It is the season we are in. It is the door God has opened. And I will learn to rejoice.
I would love to say that I kept obnoxiously optimistic the whole time God was shifting my "normal" around. This past year has been anything but "Obnoxiously Optimistic". This past year has been a walk of faith and trust and new beginnings... and even harder endings.
And I wouldn't trade it for one more day doing what I had grown so comfortable doing.
I may not be floating on rainbows and butterflies but I can tell you one thing - I have found through the journey and sacrifice, the good in goodbye.
Living Head Over Heels has offered more beautiful memories of tear stained altars and genuine friendship than I have ever known. It has changed strangers into sisters and multi-use rooms into life-changing ones. It has connected more dots than I would have known needed connecting while breaking more chains than I would have known even existed. It has broken down walls and placed girls at the starting line of a new life with a loving God.
It has been one wild ride of photo-taking, fun-making, dream-building, faith-wielding, laughter-filled, coffee-spilled, blog-writing, enemy-fighting, problem-solving, chain-dissolving, team-planning, country-spanning, nail-biters and all-nighters... and I couldn't be more thankful.
To have even had the memories granted me by the many who have surrounded this vision by attending events, supporting the cause, or teaming up with me - it is truly astounding.
And it makes saying goodbye that much more difficult because of all of the good I have found in it.
But there's more to my story than I imagined. My life took a sharp left turn into being a working wife, mom, and pastor and I could take that as a step down or a step away from who I am called to be as a spiritual mentor and pastor and counselor, but that's not my God. My God leads us through the wildernesses and the valleys and the pits, to connect all of the dots we might have otherwise missed.
LHOH will rest here, in 2017, but I (Vanessa Shepherd) will be who God has always called me to be... wherever He asks me to be it, for as long as He allows me to be.
Before life just moves on as we all know it will, let me say this... It was beautiful. You all made it so beautiful. And I am forever grateful for what God allowed us to be a part of.
So buy the shirt before it's too late and we are out, there won't be anymore coming. And tell us about your favorite blog (we will keep the blogs up for you to read over and over again) or memory with LHOH, we would love to hear. And say a prayer as we embark into new territory unlike anything we've known. Something the world may call plain but we know is right where we are supposed to be.
As it has been said, "we have not been cheated, we have been chosen" (thank you Priscilla Shirer) because our purposes don't reside in our places or our positions. Something we have shouted from the rooftops for years and now have to live out in a greater way. But we're not disappointed. I'm not disappointed.
It was great.
God has greater things in mind - even if in the natural it doesn't look like much. Because the supernatural rarely looks natural (i.e. praising God in a prison, mustard seed faith moving mountains, being the servant of all, and on and on).
So the good in goodbye? The reason we are able to smile through the tears and hold on to hope through the closing of something so special... it's you, friends, it's you.
You have made every late night and marathon sprint worth it. I wouldn't have wanted to share my heart and life with anyone else, doing anything else for the last ten years.
Thank you. For all of it.
Until we meet again,
XOXO, your friend, Ness
Philippians 4:4-13 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.