Thursday, January 5, 2017

And here we are again, another trip around the sun. I've been fairly silent as of late, turning inside, doing the work. In my work training people, I get to see the progression of their growth; from a lack of centeredness, control and strength-- to a more focused, centered confidence and power, both physically and mentally. It reminds me of how we put pencil markings on the doorway as our children grow. It is so incremental, and barely noticeable day by day. But when you step back over a month or a year and beyond-- how did that happen? Progression. Slow and steady, consistency, direction.

It is so with us as well, our growth. Mental, physical, spiritual, emotional; it is nearly impossible to measure these things moment by moment, or day by day. But when you look back on an expanse of time-- like a month, or a year-- you can see where the road twisted and turned, the choices you made or ignored. Sometimes it's these deviations from the road that are where we are truly formed and forged. In fact, I'm learning that that it's almost always the deviations that have helped me in some backhanded way-- in ways that hurt (and still do, in many ways) me, cut me to the quick. And yet without these things,  I would not be who and where I now am.

I have taken God to task for a lot of these things; I tend to take these bruises, dents and trials very personally. The 'why' question looms, and I have to quell the urge to simply quit on Him. Yelling, crying out-- sometimes raging at Him about the injustice of some of these things. In the end, I've had to surrender by default, in stages of grief or sadness. Is surrender the same thing as giving up on a thing or a person? Or is it simply handing it over to forces greater than myself and my exertions at trying to rectify wrongs done to me or those I love. Or maybe it's just stepping out of the way; out of my own way, and letting things just be.

I have never liked the idea of 'New Year's Resolutions'. It's a trap. I do however, think it's good to take stock every year-- whether it be a birthday, a change of season, job, or relationship-- to check in and see what's up, what's working, what's not. To be honest, 2016 was not a banner year for me (or many of us)-- personally and professionally, emotionally and on other deeper, more reflective levels. And yet, I feel like I did some of my deepest work on self, on surrender, humility and true seeking. The measurement or clarity around growth generally comes in hindsight, reflectively. So as this bumpy year grinds to a halt, I am grateful for many things, despite the things that are still unresolved. 

Even learning to be more grateful is a lesson that sadly, is often not learned until things we love or hold dear (or think we do) are taken away from us. It's kind of like 'backing into' gratitude. Humans are slow learners sometimes-- often in fact-- and we sometimes see only what is lacking, not what is of grace or simplicity. For me, the last year or two have been about slowly having things stripped away from me (kicking and screaming in some cases), only to come to a clearer understanding of what is real, what is true, and finally-- what really matters and is of value. Friends-- who are, and who are not, is one true lesson I've had. 

There is no 'prince' on a white horse, at least not in that idyllic way. I do believe that we are put here to be in relationship, in community, to lift up others and be loved as well. How this looks and feels is a mystery to me at this point in my life. I look around and see it happening for others; I ask God what His plan is for me in this regard. Despite all I've been through, I still believe in love, not perfection. So if he's not a prince, maybe he's a really cool frog, who gets me and me him. Or maybe not this time around, who knows. But I seem to have arrived at some kind of peace around the not knowing (not the 'not caring'), and carrying on for the right reasons. 

I hear this at church often, from people I respect. That we are not called to 'happiness' in terms of perfection and a life without pain, challenge, or hard work. We are called here to use our particular gifts, and to use our life's experiences for good. And to that end I remain committed. These things that I've weathered, that I've struggled to forgive-- these are actually the things that make me a better friend, human, woman, and daughter. I am grateful for my little home, and the peace that I am able to create here, on my own. My music, my friends, my work, my kitty. I am grateful that I have enough health to be able to paddle board, or practice yoga, the things that feed my soul. Music. God. 

In the end, that is all any of us can really do. There is no avoiding the pitfalls, the heartaches, the betrayals; there is only rising above these things, walking through them, and arriving at some other place than where we began. So I pray and hope for a better year, that the pieces I have worked on continue to come together. 

We have to fall apart, in order to fall back together. At least I have the self-awareness to be self-aware (infinite loop).

Friday, January 29, 2016

What do I want to be when I grow up?

It's been awhile...There is always so much to say, but waiting for the writing muse to strike takes time. Letting things percolate or simmer has merit. Lately I've been thinking and praying on 'what I want to be when I grow up'. This sounds absurd I suppose, for a middle aged woman to say. But it's truth, and by now you know that I'm very transparent in my posts and along this journey.

I have always wanted to be 'free', I suppose. When I say that, I really mean that I have always wanted to do work that isn't proscribed in a box (e.g. crunching numbers in a cubicle), but rather, do work that serves others, that has intrinsic meaning and value. After coming to the Lord three years ago, I began to really pray on the idea of using my God-given gifts; I've always wanted that, but having God as my accountability factor just reaffirmed that my work must fulfill my need to make a difference in this world, on both a micro and macro level.

And so to be free, and use these gifts to serve ('hospitality' is my number one spiritual gift), I've always focused on mind/body work. But as I've gotten older (yes, that does seem to creep up on us all), it becomes clearer that yoga and pilates aren't the only way that there is for me to help others. The 'gift' isn't just these two modalities; the gift is my ability to touch others' lives, help them heal on a deeper level than just the physical (although that is important as well). My prayers lately are around asking God to 'show me' where He wants me to use these gifts-- where is my ministry?

I will always want to teach yoga. But it doesn't need to be about my 'career' life any longer. It feeds my soul and spirit, to serve in that way. But there are so many other ways I can help others. The path isn't always clear, is it? When we want to make a life transition, grow or move on-- how do we discern what and where that looks like? I seem to have a heart for the things that I personally have lived through or been touched by; maybe that's true for most of us. We can speak to the things that we've lived through, both good and bad. In my case, I feel a pull towards helping women, kids, and those who've been hurt or abused at some point in their lives. Helping others recover, grow and then thrive seems to be a direction that God is pointing me in. What that looks like specifically remains to be seen. Social Work? Education?

It seems too late to begin again. I think that many of us struggle with that idea-- that we must reinvent ourselves at various seasons or points in our lives. As we grow, so too do our needs in our work lives and relationships. It is not an easy thing, to feel as though I am stepping off of a cliff into I-don't-know-where. So I pray. I talk to my sisters in Christ. I journal, blog. I look at job boards, colleges. And I pray some more. Your will not mine, Lord.

The hardest piece of this for me personally is pushing INTO God, not turning my back on Him. I've been down this road before-- of the not knowing what's next, or where I'm headed. And it's white-knuckle frightening. And I want to crawl into a hole and hibernate there. But I cannot; I do not have that luxury. There is work, and there is a long term need to serve my purpose while I'm here. Sometimes these two things are not mutually served. I ask God daily, 'What is it You want me to do? Why do you have me pinned into this scary place, Lord?' I'm tired of hearing about Job, or David, or Joseph, or even Moses-- all great men who did great things, but were challenged for years on end. I accept that my road is harder than some, but does it ever get easier? Does the load ever lighten?

I want to be able to look back (or in God's presence) and know that I did the best I could with what I was given. I know that I am broken-- we all are-- but I also know that I have a big heart, and one that has been hurt more than its fair share. I want to believe with the hope of a child that people are inherently good, that love wins. Many people have come alongside me, lifted me up in prayer and support-- and for that I am grateful, and I keep a small flame of hope alive that things will ultimately be ok. Happy ending? Not sure about that. But rather than reaching for 'happy', I think that reaching for a deeper level of 'joy' or gratitude or fulfillment in serving others is a better thing to strive for.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When Old School Meets New School

I've been practicing yoga on and off since 1986. I can't  believe it's been that long. I recently wondered when my first yoga class was; many people seem to remember when theirs was, a kind of rite of passage. So I looked back at my college transcripts and found that my first 'hatha yoga' class was at San Francisco State, as a PE requirement. I don't remember very much about it, or the impression it made upon me. It was years until I took up the practice again. 

Fast forward to 15 or so years ago, when I was working in the gym world. I somehow stumbled upon the 'mind/body' aspect to wellness, and that was it for me. So many years, classes, studios. Many stories, ups and downs. Disillusionment, as well as glorious heart opening experiences, both on and off the mat; friendships made and lost. I always say the mat is like a microcosm of life-- tears, joy, pain, goofiness, loss, self-discovery, surrender, and release. It's taught me more-- as a teacher, a student, and a human-- than any other thing in my life, other than being a parent. 

I have been on a self-imposed hiatus from teaching/training since last November. I was teaching up to 20 classes a week, which is altogether too much, in terms of quality, balance, and passion. Somewhere along the line, my own practice went away completely; that is where the wheels fell off for me creatively. 

Since January, I have been practicing again, almost everyday, sometimes days off, sometimes twice a day. I've met some young, inspiring teachers. I am reminded of what my passion for this art felt like when I began my own journey down this road. It's rather like taking your own small children to Disneyland, and seeing it again for the first time, through their eyes. I can see what this practice means to these newer teachers. Their curiosity, their enthusiasm, their passion for learning and sharing this gift. I remember that feeling, as jaded and 'old' as I am, in this profession. 

In the wellness industry, youth is everything. Older instructors and trainers are largely put out to pasture; they lose their relevance somehow, as age is not valued in our culture. And this is true in the yoga community as well, although I do think there is a place for teachers of my stature, age and experience. I may not be able to throw down to the degree physically that I did 10 or 15 years ago, but I bring something else to the table that newer teachers may not: wisdom, grace, and insight. I know my limitations, and this informs my teaching and my personal practice in a way that being young, aggressive and fearless never did. It's a depth that only comes with time and an understanding of nuance, of subtle body energy. 

What I'm realizing is that it's all important and relevant. In my attempt to stay humble in a world fraught with egos and rockstar mentalities, I want to remain in awe of this ancient art (as Americanized as it is, here), and be inspired by those younger than myself, while at the same time, valuing the history and legacy of yoga in its purest form-- observation, listening and feeling. I am inspired by, and learning from those less experienced than me; hopefully, I can bring some wisdom, respect and inspiration to those who are coming up behind me. In many vocations or art forms, the idea of the 'student/mentor/teacher' paradigm is a thing of intangible value. Books may be one way to pass along knowledge, but in yoga (or tattooing, for example), learning the trade from those older and more experienced than you, is still how things are transmitted. 

The market is saturated. Everyone wants a piece of the action, their 15 minutes of fame. The dark undercurrent of that is a reality. Where we each fall into the spectrum of talent or ability is nebulous at best. Teacher Training programs are churning out 'wannabe' teachers at an alarming rate; where do all these potential teachers end up? Teaching poses is one thing; talent is another thing altogether. The 'It' factor is as important and elusive in yoga as it is in theater or music, or any of the creative arts. 'Guiding' a class with skill, heart, and authenticity is not something that is easily learned.

My own teacher taught me this, and the idea is counter-intuitive. She said, 'We teach for ourselves, we practice for our students.' I had to wrestle with this concept initially. But she is right; if I am not practicing, I have nothing to offer my own students. And if I am not teaching, then the reciprocity of giving and receiving is absent; therein lies the delicate dance of both. I hope to be teaching again soon, in a more balanced way. I have gifts and I need to use them, in whatever capacity I may. And that includes being inspired by others, humbly and with an open heart, both on and off the mat. 

Shanti

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Do You Decide?


How do you make decisions? From the heart? Intuition? Head? Gut? Prayer? I've been kind of asking this question for awhile, and a lot more lately. If we are meant to pray for clarity, and there is SILENCE, then what? If the guidance we are hearing is OUR thoughts and desires, and not His, how do you discern? 

Big questions, huh? Add to this, the ongoing humanistic convo's with my 16 year old son about how WE are responsible for our choices and decisions (wait, isn't this supposed to be the other way around?), not God's. So. Silence; what do we do with that? Is it the proverbial 'wandering in the dessert for 40 years'? And we are to stay faithful to that, no matter what? 

But 40 years won't cut it. Choices that can impact me, my kids and our future need to be made. So for lack of clear direction, I suppose we keep moving forward, continually asking along the way, 'Is this where You want me headed?', and if there is NO answer, then do we wait for a door to close (rather than open), or do we just keep rolling along, praying for the best possible outcome for all?

I've been paddling around on this, talking, singing, crying, praying, yelling, LISTENING, all summer. Here's what I keep coming up with: I want to teach yoga and train clients; it's where my heart lives, serving others. I want to paddle and teach others to paddle, because of how much joy and peace it brings to my soul. I want to do these things not because I'm entitled to, or because it feeds my ego, but because I truly believe these are gifts that I was endowed with, to share. My gifts, aligned with my wants; what's so hard about that?

Big Kid Wendy says, 'Well, you can't do that, it doesn't pay the bills', while the spirit that is supposed to be living breathing and serving what I was Put Here To Do, says, 'why CAN'T you do that?' And therein lies the rub. As a long-time yoga teacher, my job is to tell, teach and show others that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE...or is that only what sounds good on paper? If this is true, then why isn't that true for ME, as well as those I'm blessed to serve? 

Independent wealth notwithstanding, how is this dream doable for others and not for me? I tried to live that dream for over 10 years and it just didn't materialize. It's not a luxury I can afford, as a 'hobby' job while my husband 'works'. It's my passion and my skill; it's my voice and my heart. It's what I was put here to do. But 'if' I'm a teacher, then does it need to be limited to the studio? Aren't I a teacher regardless of where, or whom I'm teaching to?

So I applied for grad school this week. Nerves: is this what You want? Or are You leaving this big decision up to me alone? There's no spouse to consult or support me in this; no parents or siblings. I have consulted with friends both in and out of the Faith; prayed; weighed it out. We'll see where this road turns next. That's all I can do. I think I've done everything I'm supposed to be doing-- job hunting, teaching, raising kids, being a good friend and person, a godly woman. Isn't this enough? And the old fears, the 'what ifs' creep in.

So you see, I'm left here with as many questions as before I began this entry. It seems that some people are truly blessed with luck, more than others. Or do we create our luck? Or do we keep praying? And praying. And listening. But it has really challenged me, this praying, and silence, and waiting. 
Wendy on Lake Clem

Now what?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Year in the Life

As seems to be customary with me, these entries are way too few and far between. It's like taking photos on vacation: if you are constantly BEHIND the camera capturing all of the amazing things in front of you, then you aren't really present INSIDE of the moments that make up the experience. And such is journaling or blogging for me. Time seems to speed up, then slow down ('A watched pot never boils', comes to mind). And so it goes.

The awe and excitement of a new car or a new THING wears after a time, to the mundane, the 'normal'; the 'new car smell' invariably disappears into the daily detritus of kids, sweat, orange peels, and life. So my blogs of the last year have been on that same 'night-before-Christmas' track, amped and almost surreal with the newness of this life in God that I now find myself living. 

And then 'BAM', floating back down to life, its routines and disappointments; its supreme God moments, and trivialities. It's all there, as it was before...Before. BC. 

What's different then? Another year, a new job working with special needs kids. More legal wrangling and (hopefully) outcomes for the positive. Humility, tears, worry, and successes-- it's all there, as before. Just different somehow.

They keep telling me (who is 'they'? pastors, peers, friends in Christ) that life will NOT be easier merely because of this wonderment of new found faith. Indeed, quite the opposite seems to be true. Challenges exist, life continues. What's changed seems to be the filter I'm putting it all through. Less reacting, more prayer. Less (although some) fear, more prayer. A (possibly naive?) faith that He will provide-- not just materially, but faithfully. He will guide me/us through these trials and seasons with a reassurance of His divine will. I know this could sound cheesy as all get out to my non-believer (I don't even like THAT word anymore, as it places a line of separation between myself and my brothers and sisters who simply believe other than I do, and I'm not willing to cast OUT others in order to glorify ME) friends. 

At the outset I will go as far as to apologize for any words or views that might sound polarizing. But IF we were meant to 'walk and live as He did', then I believe that my personal walk is being directed by His grace, EVEN when it means saying the hard things that some folks don't want to, or aren't ready to hear. If it's said from love and not anger, then it's all good. 

Even BC, Before Christ, I tended to have a polarizing effect on people in terms of stating my belief in equality-- in civil issues of course-- but even deeper, that we are ALL one under the heavens. Having a yoga room as a pulpit (not a self-righteous pedestal) has given me a voice over the years, to speak out for peace, freedom and equality; for LOVE, COMPASSION, AND TOLERANCE. And most people can agree with this in theory-- it sure sounds great on paper, doesn't it? But when the rubber hits the road, can you tell yourself that you stand and walk with this in your heart, and THEN actively use those qualities-- not because they altruistic-- but because it's what Jesus did in his life and ministry? If we are being really honest, are we not ALL sinners who fall short of grace on any given day? It behooves us to cast the first stone, doesn't it?

And now, after Christ, how has this message sunk in, and where does it put me on the spectrum of 'hard right' or 'lefty liberal' (more labels I reject)? I have witnessed and observed just enough to be a hazard to myself, perhaps. I pray on this daily: "Father God, please use me to reach out to the disenfranchised, the youth, the alternative living, the marginalized and judged. Are we ALL not children of God? Then why is this so hard to in fact exercise in our daily lives, with our interactions with friends, family and co-workers? 

I have posted several somewhat controversial things this year about issues that I perceive as UN-Christian like bigotry. Am I popularizing myself for it? NO. When Jesus himself hung out with the poor, sick, or sinners-- did it endear him to the Pharisees? We all know the answer to that question. So it seems self-evident that we would do well to follow His example. Again, easier said than done. But why is it so hard? Is it FEAR? Fear of what we don't understand, or agree with. I surely don't agree with what I perceive to be a farther right political bent at my church, but it doesn't make me stop going; i LOVE those people. We are all different-- thankfully-- so why do we keep creating MORE (not less) divide amongst ourselves? Life is hard enough, can we not support each other despite our differences?

Context: what is valid in terms of honoring the bible, living a 'God-honoring life', versus 'picking and choosing' things to serve my own beliefs? Or inserting our beliefs rather than His? We ALL do that, to a degree in some regard. The huge gap in the Christian community alone illustrates the disparity between ultra-conservative legalists, and say, the more progressive purists who believe that Jesus' ministry-- and in fact ALL faiths-- supports love, compassion and tolerance. I'm not here to convince anyone that they are 'wrong' and I'm 'right'; those kinds of debates are counterproductive and not serving the dialogue. I just got off the phone with a life-long friend, a very academic and devout man of the Jewish faith. The conversation was lively and open, not righteous and dogmatic. There is something interesting that I noticed: we were in agreement about many KEY points having to do with our mutual love for God. Yes, the differences are glaring and obvious. But in the end, we pretty much agreed that God is about LOVE. That seems pretty basic to me. Is it that hard to live out?

Nevertheless, I maintain that, and have had much re-affirmation on this point-- His ministry served ALL people who came to Him. And I believe He is using me as a bridge for understanding to BOTH sides of this debate. As Bob Goff so eloquently reminded us at the Thrive Conference this weekend, "Love on people, that is how to walk and live as He did". There is no condition on WHOM we are setting the example of this for; believer, non-believer, Jewish folks, Buddhists, atheists. If we are truly engaged in our communities and our faith, then we are asked to go out and BE the light, not just 'be the light on people we agree with politically or biblically, and rebuke the rest.'

I know that this position makes some uncomfortable; that's ok. So did He. This leadership conference reminded me that IF we want to effectively grow our churches (and faith), then we had better get on board with the message, IN THE CONTEXT of where we are living NOW. So for me, that means being teachable AND standing out on faith and having the hard conversations, the ones that dare to stand up and say that I have, for example gay friends who are Christian (or not) and where does that leave them? God loves them, he loves us ALL, and we are all sinners. Who am I, or you, to judge that? We do not have to agree or even condone a lifestyle choice, in order to simply love on that person. I am removed from making that judgment call. It is merely my job to stand for them, speak for them, love them, accept them. 

And if the church, I believe, is doing its job in attracting new believers, then it would do us ALL well, to open our minds and hearts to not merely 'tolerate' (that implies a kind of tolerating of bad behavior, as with an errant child), but 'acceptance'. Do I think that everyone will agree with this, particularly the more conservative factions in the church? Not particularly. But it still needs to be said, and perhaps there needs to be a ministry (as we do with ALL care ministries) that serves ALL who feel that they do not have a 'place to call home' in God's kingdom here on earth. 

So back to my 'Year in the Life'. No, it has not been easier with the Lord. My parents are still gone (as before), I have serious work challenges and need to resolve my career/educational path. I pray ceaselessly for clarity on this: what is HIS will for me, not mine? How do I discern between these two things? 

But in all this seeking, and sorting and sifting of 'what I believe', or how He wants my gifts best served, this other thing keeps rising to the top. Whether it's job-related or not, my ministry seems to be emerging, as a voice for change-- as Jim Daly said, 'tone' is a huge factor in how people see us, meet with us, and HEAR us. So regardless of our personal views, let this be about Him, and honoring what we promised to do when we took up our crosses: walk in the mud and muck; speak out for tolerance and love, then DO something about it. Get uncomfortable, don't just stay in your box of routine around your faith: bible study with your group, your Sunday service, your service work-- step OUT and practice what He preached. 

1 Cor. 13:13, 'And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.'

Go live  I double dog dare you. And i dare ME. Then step back and observe what happens. 

peace,
wendy

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Postmortem Leftovers

Ahhh, the day AFTER a holiday; always that letdown kind of feeling-- 'I ate too much', 'I spent too much', etc. I love the day after things; it's always a good time to reflect and renew; take stock and wipe the slate clean (and to stay in one's pajamas). With Thanksgiving, it's self-evident that we are meant to acknowledge the things we are grateful for, as we should. But there is that other piece, the piece that we don't really want to look too deeply at: what are the things we are NOT thankful for? We had the glorious feast, but what were the scraps that noone wanted?

This week as I was preparing to teach a Thanksgiving morning yoga class, I sat quietly and prayed on this. What are the things that have challenged me the most this year, the things that I thought were insurmountable? What were the circumstances that threw me sideways-- that still push on me-- and more importantly, how have I reacted to these things? In the past I might have reacted in pride, anger, frustration, depression, sadness. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from perfect, on my walk with The Lord. It's not a 'free pass' to walk with Him. Daily I am making mistakes and asking forgiveness, and starting over. There are still people working against me; the Enemy incognito. I guess the difference now is my awareness of these things, and learning to use the tools I now have to 'armor' up and fight for what is right IN THE RIGHT WAY. 


2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,a whenever you face trials of many kinds,3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:20)

So how do we find grace in the hardest circumstances? Pray, read, fellowship with others who we trust and love. Rather than being a victim to these things that happen, how do we put on a different filter and see difficulties as blessings? This is really one of the hardest things to do, in my opinion. Everyone I know has had challenges of some sort this year, and that is nothing new. There is a new underlying strength there for me, iron-clad foundation of stability that gives me some mooring as I navigate through some troubled waters. He has this, He has me covered. I am tethered to something, someone, who gives us these challenges in order to pull us CLOSER to him in faith, trust and love, rather than turning away in fear, sorrow and defeat.

Earlier in the week my son and I were talking about 'If there is an all-loving God, then how can He just allow evil things/people to exist (like the holocaust, mass murder of children etc)? While I don't have all the answers, I am trying to hold strong to faith, because even (or especially) without faith, questions like these still cannot be answered-- all that's left then is disillusionment, mistrust, fear, and a kind of meandering faithlessness that goes nowhere. I am becoming acutely aware that there is something so much bigger than me, than you, than all of us-- orchestrated by a god so big that we can only catch glimpses of how He is working in our lives. Yes, we have free will, but how can we possibly have an overview of ALL things, and live with that overwhelming knowledge every single day? It's simply too unfathomable. And so, in learning to trust, I have to hand it over to Him, and not try to use my limited logic and knowledge of 'why' things go wrong, or get taken away, or any other thing that APPEARS to be hopeless. Using my mind or logic isn't really the way to walk through these things; it's not enough. 


"Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes." (Is. 30:20, NLT)

When I shift my filter from 'why me' to 'what can I learn from this?', it invariably draws me closer to Him, to things having a purpose, EVEN the seemingly impossible things. "But i don't WANT to learn from that, it's too hard, there is too much at stake", often runs through my mind in harder times. Learning to let go of what I want, and in MY time, is important. 

As I reflect on this year, it has truly been not only one of the most painful, but one of the most uplifting; how is this even possible? Loss, forgiveness, financial challenges, career change, self-examination, humility, friendship-- the myriad of all of it, laid out as a glorious tapestry of 'the good, the bad, and the ugly'. And looking back (hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?), it all seems so clear to me from where I now sit: everything plays out as it is meant to. whether we accept it or fight it tooth and nail. Surrender to the process of loss and redemption isn't the same thing as 'giving up'; we sill have to get up every day and do the best we can. We have to be His hands and feet. 

So on this day AFTER a day of thanks, ask yourself, 'what am i NOT thankful for, and what is the lesson there, how can it refine and define me further? Where is God leading me, and what are my gifts and strengths?' It is trial by fire that truly brings us face to face with who we are, what we are made of, and where we belong. Try to find grace and thanks for the hard stuff this year; by contrast you can see ALL of it illuminated, not just the good stuff, as gifts. 




Monday, November 11, 2013

The Year that Changed Everything

It's still in the 70's and sunny outside, as we approach mid-November here. It shouldn't surprise me, yet it always does; the raging summer kind of butts up into fall, then suddenly it's cold and wintery. But this year in particular has flown by, for so many reasons, and I find myself looking Christmas in the face. Not ready for that. Or am I?

As i came onto Bayside's campus (standing at the crosses) last weekend to serve, I paused to see the Big Tent was up-- the enormous tent that stands in the ready for the holiday activities about to come. It's just a tent, so what? So what is that I came onto that campus nearly a year ago, seeking 'only to hear some good music' and what ensued was a radical, life transforming event that Changed Everything. 

Most of the people close to me have by now heard my testimony. Most have been following my journey as I've more or less used Facebook this last year as an ersatz open journal documenting all of it. But as I stood there looking at that tent, it hit me like a ton of bricks, where I've been this year, from the depths of a self-imposed h*ll, to stepping boldly into this new life with the Lord. That tent was a refuge in, literally and metaphorically, the midst of a storm. I came into Bayside that day last December, little to hang on to, or so it seemed at the time.

    Tyler De Young

I came, with two of my children, to hear Tyler, a friend and student, play. That was the pretext; music, my passion. He (God) found the crack in my well-constructed armor.  I stood there, in the third row, with his parents, and watched in awe as the worship team that I have grown to love, and heard him, WITNESSED him moving the Holy Spirit, right to me, through me. I felt it, like nothing I've ever felt, and the tears began to roll down my face. I tried to stop it but it was in vain; his mother reached out for my hand, and I was Home. 

And it all went from there, a blur. I've not missed one weekend since. I have a family now. People who walk with me daily, moment by moment at times. I am theirs and they are mine. And we are His. 
Ragtag Crew, my family

How did this happen? Many years of teaching, of practicing, of being 'spiritual, not religious', and here I stand, with a story to tell, and a past that no longer has to define me as a noose of mistakes and missteps around my neck. I am free; not perfect, but free. I have a foundation that wasn't there before, something I've always sought but never found. And just like that, I stand on solid firmament. All I had to do was Believe. In Him. And say so out loud to my family and friends, to God. 'You are mine and I am Yours'. 
            April 13, 2013

So what has changed, besides saying these things out loud? I am accountable now in a way that I have never been. I am humbled from things like pride and ego, and letting my work define my importance, of who I thought I was. I am more full now in a way that I never was, but always wanted to be. I filled myself and my life up with yoga (nothing inherently wrong with yoga); with self-glorification in the guise of serving others. I now serve no other. And in surrendering all of these things, I came to myself, to who I am and who I am becoming. I released people and ideas that do NOT serve me any longer; and in doing so found an entirely new family that loves me. Not for what I say or do, but for who I am, nothing more. 

And I am flawed, so flawed. And I've made mistakes, poor judgement calls that cost me big. All I can do now is try to rectify these things, for the greater good. Try to be the mother I want to be, the daughter I want to be, the woman I want to be.  That's all I can do, and forgiving myself. For I am given grace now, and room to be forgiven.
Ellie my angel, and me at Breakaway

So I stood there at those crosses where I was baptized last April, staring at that tent, and it all flashed before me, jolted me back to now. To where I now stand. And there are still some things up ahead on the horizon that I must contend with. But strangely, I'm ok, it's going to be ok. It's going to be exactly as it should be, and all the pain, all the mistakes, all the growth, the lessons I learn daily; it's all for good. "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the Enemy's schemes." (Eph. 6) There will always be trials, we are human and there are struggles every single day. Keep those you love close to you, take nothing for granted. And draw near to Him, especially when things get hard. I have felt so alone in this world, without parents or family or roots under me. And all that's changed, in this year that Changed Everything. 

Peace.