Moving Day Coming Up!

cropped-548185_514231121950377_1532914516_n.jpgSo many profound statements have now become quite cliché. In the process, we then ignore the depth of their meaning and how they may challenge and change our life. For instance, it is quite easy to find yourself going through life, swept along by the current of popular group think or tailoring your responses to be more tolerable and compliant, or even to just fit in because one may love to be loved. You walk around saying “Let’s all just love each other” or “God is in control” or some such thing which is all true in its essence, but lacks punch when said as a proverbial cliché. You then wake up one day and discover, much to your amazement, that you may not have truly lived for many years of your life. Ouch!

So what do you do then? Guilt doesn’t work. Regret? No way! You may throw caution to the wind, living with a vengeance seeking to define yourself from all the missed years. Of course, that vengeance is contrived and will burn you out. So what to do?

I woke up and decided to be me. Haha! Truly……..that may sound ridiculous but it’s easy to get tossed into the whirlpool of acceptance simply because you don’t want to rock the boat or simply because it’s a scary thing to say what you really feel, even if one does it in wisdom. I feel in the depths of my being, I am created to challenge. I did it wrong for many years. Now it’s time to do it right. Think what you will. I truly feel this way. Too many people flowing along in life not quite knowing anything beyond Twitter one-liners or Facebook likes.

Malibu WavesThere is great love to be expressed through all of us when we realize it is not some nebulous cliché tossed around like the wind. Love is profound, able to bear wrongs, to know what to say despite it being unpopular and to know when to be quiet, to bear wrongs suffered against you when you sense that you have done what is necessary, to be misunderstood. and so much more.

I turned 60 in June…….it definitely has its advantages. Haha! 50 did not bother me. 60 was a bit challenging for a few months when you realize life seems shorter in front of you then behind but today, I woke up refreshed and renewed. God has indeed touched my heart today AND we will be living in the Oxnard/Ventura area. God is so good. Will be writing more about this new move in the days ahead and how the decision transpired.

He really does love us, you know…………I wanted to be near the beach, the ocean – to write, along with great new adventures. Now, I can be at the beaches in Ventura in about 20 minutes, Malibu beaches in about 30 minutes, Santa Barbara in about 45………..something about me and water…….Love it.

In Christ,
Debra Westbrook

Creative Expression: Stop, Look, Listen

creativity-takes-courageI don’t look at the usual to find the unusual. I don’t follow the mundane to find the creative. I also stopped listening to the myriad of echoing sounds to find my voice. It’s all about being Debra, not anyone else. It is not self-indulgent to proclaim this at this time in my life. I have labored under misrepresentation for so many years that I breathe a sigh of relief when I find peace in Christ in me. My creativity is grounded in the One who knows me through and through.

The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you; therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message (Colossians 1:27 Message)

Living “out of the box” has been added to a long list of clichés that currently exist. I myself have been known to say it so many times that I often bore myself at its repetition in my life. So I have decided to turn the tables on myself and stop talking it and start walking it. It’s time to live “out of the box”. Time for me to look outside my self-imposed boundaries that have placed a lens of normality over my eyes to where I don’t even see the new opportunities. I catch a glimpse of something new, something fresh and it is tempting to retreat into the comfort of the ‘crowd’ out of fear of failure or fear of the unknown.

So what does it mean for me to be creative and think out of the box? Well, first and foremost, creativity does not exist in a vacuum but is dependent upon relationships that add dimension to my life, visual stimuli that impart creative ideas to me, or reading interesting books whose words carry the seeds of creative ideas that burst open within me. All in all, creativity is dependent on movement in my life. Moving out of the stability of what is comfortable into what is innovative and fresh. This path can and often is accompanied by internal fears but do it anyway. For me, it’s all in Christ.

We live and move in him, can’t get away from him (Acts 17:28 Message)

The LIght Goes OnA practical example for me this very day set my heart afire within me. I saw a running video in my head that had me grab my journal to write down ideas. Then I talked briefly to my young friend in Finland, Jenna (by the way, READ this gal’s blog. It’s great.) I shot ideas by her and we have determined to bring forth the manifestation of this great idea in the beginning of 2014, God willing. Timing is crucial but if not then, it will manifest soon, very soon. What matters the most is that the creative journey sparks life in me. It is who I am and it is how I stay alive and adventurous day by day.

New ideas start to come when we press past the norm. And then, the new ideas may be nebulous in form because they are so new or different that we reject them at first. But then they start to take hold and they form into purpose and then we launch out to try, to do, to make, to create. It’s a good day.

Life On The Island – Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Skyline

Abu Dhabi Skyline

Here’s Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. We lived there for 4 years, loving every minute of it. Life there is – what’s the word – cushy? Convenient? Indulgent – yep, that’s it! Indulgent, the perfect word. The UAE is filled with self-indulgence. They want to be bigger, better, and more iconic than any other nation. Most people take jobs there because you are paid more to go on an overseas assignment. For a few years, you can pretend that you are rich, at least for a few. The UAE is one of the richest nations on the planet. You realize this when suddenly you stop at a traffic light and notice a brand new Ferrari, Maserati, BMW, Bentley or Jag and a young person is driving it because Daddy gave it to them for a birthday present. Oh, yes, shopping at Marina Mall – check out those ladies sauntering into Chanel and Armani just for quick shopping trip. I learned a lot.

Abu Dhabi Apartment

Abu Dhabi Apartment

The island is mostly expats from 125 nations so life is very very interesting. I guess I can spend more than one blog to talk about this but I don’t have the time, right now at least. We had a glorious apartment in the middle of Abu Dhabi, drove a Peugeot (unfamiliar to most Americans), enjoyed our official day off as being Friday and not Sunday, and endured temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit for summer months. Marvin worked on the Abu Dhabi airport for those years, so I had a lot of time to write, travel, and explore. I guess now it may pay off in writing. At least I hope so.

Abu Dhabi Apartment View

Abu Dhabi Apartment View

What did I learn there? Okay I hope, amidst the light heartedness of this blog, that I can speak some reality right now. I learned that women were second-class citizens much of the time. I learned that Filipinos along with Pakistanis and Indians were little more than slaves in this culture in the way they were treated. I also learned to live in the tension of seeing reality but unable to speak against it at that time. I learned a lot.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

To live the life of a nomad is a choice. We lived in California during the years our children were growing up, but they are now adults. Travel increased for us around 2000, making a choice to live free and clear of any entanglements that would keep us bound to one place. We do not own a home. We live very simply with few material possessions. Hmmm, I do love my used BMW – always have, always will. We don’t like to be in one place for too long. I have decided to stop fighting this and to move into the glorious reality of my life.

Abu Dhabi Beaches

Abu Dhabi Beaches

More travel is ahead of us. I know it because that is how God created me. I consistently prayed for God to give us a few places to ‘settle’ and hang our hat and then to travel out from there. It’s a lot less unpacking if you can afford it. Well, let’s see if that is a reality for us in 2014. I want California and Finland as home bases. Settling for two for the price of one – one small small apartment in Cali and one small small apartment in Finland BUT the back yard is the world to me, along with some disposable income to move out and GO. Life is beautiful to me and Jesus is the very center of my joy. I like how He created Debra. My life is not glamorous. I sacrificed a lot to live this way, but it is all worth it. It truly is.

Why Creativity?

creativityCreativity, creative expression, moving in the Spirit – these are my topics for the next ten-twelve days in the blog challenge. I want to mix it up a bit and focus on a topic that is close to my heart.

My friends know I am an avid fan of Project Runway, blogging about the lessons that I learn while watching it. I observe the extraordinary creativity that flows through the contestants. I am not as concerned about who wins, but about watching the creative process and flow.

I always try to listen to the sounds of a creative beat, so I attended an apparel design program for many years. Unfortunately, I quit the program right before I finished the last classes that were required to get the certificate. I draped, I sewed, and I sketched. I loved it. To this very day, when I look at what someone is wearing, I can take the garment apart in my own head, analyzing the pattern and structure. But, I quit. Why?

About the time I dropped out of the program was around the same time that I became a Christian. To me, the two didn’t mix in my heart or in the religious heart of the church. Fashion design seemed a bit insignificant. I sold it all – my machine, my serger, my fabric and everything else. I even used God as an excuse to people, telling them that He told me to just sell it all. You know, that suffer with Jesus routine that forms the foundation of religiosity. There is no one to blame. I made the decision. But, why?

I did the same thing in university. I wanted to go the route of the arts. My dad wanted me to do something with more substance, like teaching and nursing. So, again, because of external pressure and deep insecurity and guilt, I caved and walked into teaching. After graduation, I taught two years to discover a simple fact. I didn’t like teaching, at all.

1288452919_w30I wasted so many years, trying to be what I am not. Trying to fit in to who I am not. Then along came Rivers of Eden, our ministry. Through this ministry, I tried to do the same thing – listen to the voice of external pressure to be, fit in, conform, and follow the pack. Obviously, if you have been reading my other blogs, this definitely did not work. So, now I say “Absolutely not.”

In blogging these next ten to twelve days, I am blogging about my creative journey in Christ. Our mandate in Rivers of Eden is to BE the creative expression of Christ in the earth, today, right now; all of us diverse, unique and creative, flowing in the Holy Spirit. To this day, there are three of us on our team that are walking on a new path, creatively, outside the box and outside the walls of the institutional church. Follow me on this journey in this blog. Aren’t you sick of being templated into another person’s vision? Aren’t you tired of robotic, formed religion? I am………………..Walk this way!