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Friday, March 15, 2019

WHEN GOD TELLS YOU TO GIVE GRACE INSTEAD OF SALT #blesseddammit



It seems to me that every where I turn,
in every relationship I'm a part of,
God is asking me to step outside my normal and do something new.
My natural inclination is to be a protector, 
a person who stands in the gap to protect others, 
to take action if necessary to ensure equality and stability,
to get to the truth by any means possible and then take all of us there.
In general, God is behind these efforts of mine, 
encouraging me to speak out, to show up, to be brave and big.
Lately when I check in with God though, there's a shift in direction.
Give grace.
Save space.
Count the breaths between contractions and lean into the pain.
Stretch little one.
This is what God is saying.
I can't say I'm pleased with this response- 
is #blesseddammit a preexisting hashtag?
It's way easier to be salty than to be graceful IMHO.
Why is God always asking us to do hard things?

There are a hundred tantrums happening around me daily.
Grown people lashing out in response to their discomfort
or having their beliefs challenged.
The status quo is shifting and there are so many people who just can't even.
So they don't.
God is asking me to look at each of those tantrums
and become someone who genuinely experiences
these tantrums through a lens of compassion.
To look at my brother or sister
and see their pain at facing something unexpected.

In my church family, there are some who
are using language and repeating behaviors 
that have and continue to cause harm to marginalized communities.  
Specifically, LGBTQ+ clergy and parishioners who want 
to be allowed to commit to one another publicly.  
In those tantruming, there's an almost constant refrain of 
'I'm not hating the sinner, I'm just hating the sin.'
As if every time one of us walked through the church doors 
someone pointing out the multitude of sins personally committed this week
wouldn't be a personal attack.
Have some envy this week George?  
Engage in some gossip last week Cindy?
How about that pornography or unclean thought that passed Fred?
The socially acceptable or invisible sinners can stand-
the ones who sin in other ways appear to be worthy of contempt.
The hypocrisy makes my head want to explode with fury.
I touch base with God and God says-
Be my hands and feet.
Give them grace.
Turn the cheek (and hug the oppressed).
So I am doing that.

In my work community, 
I am daily reminded that change is hard for everyone
and doesn't always bring out the best in people.
We have almost daily a ridiculous scenario 
that could have been avoided
if we just knew each other better, 
had more trust and vulnerability.
Everything is topsy turvy though as we move to form a new company
 that will be bigger, more expansive than either of the old companies.
It feels like being a newborn all over again-
I've worked within this space for twenty years but everything 
is new and bright and much harder than any of us expected it to be.
I can end up feeling defeated and demoralized.
I touch base with God and God says-
everyone is different and precious and beautiful.
Be still and remember your worth.
Find your center and eventually you will stabilize into a new thing.


In my family, my children are both in new arenas that 
are expected rights of passage.
The thing about rights of passage though is that no one 
makes it out of them unscathed or untouched.
There are challenges that mark you-
it's terrifying for a mama to watch and know that 
she is just a spectator in much of her children's lives.  
Not actually in the arena for this match or most of the future ones.
I touch base with God and God says-
there are seasons for everything
and all the seasons have goodness and growth within them.
Speak to these children of their potential and watch them grow into it.
Enjoy this season little one-it's glorious.

Politics are another hot button.
I've got a couple of 'friends' who repeatedly post 
inaccurate, rascist or harmful information on social media.  
I could spend my entire day correcting their factual inaccuracies.
God says....think about why this resonates.
What is the underlying fear that drives this information's persistance?
How inadequate would you need to feel to post something 
that was a lie so that you could feel better for just one minute?
What kind of rage or shame must you be fighting to sling 
such hatred around without discernment?
This is a disease little one-
a disease that needs healing.
Give grace for their pain.


For every challenging interaction right now-
God says....try and see them the way I do.
They are struggling and growing and this is how you people do that.
By having tantrums.
By wrestling with the pain and discomfort.
And then by getting still so you can rise.
This season of chaos will end and in it's place will be something else.
Breathe until the next contraction.
Ground yourself in God's acceptance and love
so that you can listen and hold space for others.
Nothing will be born until you wade through the water.
Let people thrash around, and use your energy
to notice when they're right at the line of exhaustion-
worn out and ready to sink, accepting that this will go on forever.
That's the time where you people can bring forth a new thing-
when the old thing is dead and tired.
So give grace.
Hold space.
The time for my fighting is not now.
The time for holding holy ground is now.
I'm going to do my best to hold the ground friends.
Not because that's what I want to do-
if I'm honest, I'd love a good tantrum myself on most days.
But because I can and because God says.
If you need to tantrum, lean on me.
No matter what the tantrum is about-I'm going to hold some space for you.

source:  InspiredtoGive.org



Friday, March 01, 2019

THE WAY FORWARD



Most weekday mornings, I get up an hour before the rest of my house.
I open my journal and write 5 things I'm grateful for and then
my goals for the next 10 years.
One of these goals says:
I listen to God and do what God tells me.
Today is the first morning that I've written these words in a week.
I've been afraid of what God would tell me.
My little church is affiliated with a denomination that just caused
 a lot of harm by denying full inclusion to LGBTQ+ people.
Instead of welcoming all, serving, all, loving all...
the delegates to the conference decided we need to make sure that
 the person leading the service is the right kind of sinner.  
It's such a human perspective and behavior to
separate the good from the bad, 
exclude the ones that make you a little nervous or 
don't stay within the lines.
That's the human way.
It is not the God way-God says open up,
break your heart, get messy-whatever it takes to see
that you are ALL in.
The good news is that it is already decided-
we don't have to earn our place.
All the debt is already paid,
grace is given in GOD sized amounts
to all of God's people
(which is all the people).

This decision didn't come out of the blue-
the denomination has been struggling with just this thing since 1972.  
The church created a special commission whose job was to discern 
the path that would keep us united while moving through this specific issue.
We are an international body so what is simple can become complex.
I've been keenly aware of the storm brewing on the horizon
but since it was far away and remote-I tried not to pick at it.
Instead, I have been trying hard to lean into the love and friendship
 that surrounds me with my little church family.
I've tried not to think about the possibility 
that I will one day not be here in this place 
and just enjoy being here now.
General conference rocked me though.
The injustice and pettiness should not surprise me-
we are all just human after all.
And yet..my heart cracked as hearts do when pushed past their limits.

I have been saying a lot of prayer this week
but I've kept the prayer channel one-sided.
Pushing my mess towards God but being deaf to what God wants to say back.
Here's a prayer I say when I am on the verge of exceeding my mandate:
It is not mine to get, it is God's to give.
It is God's to control, it is mine to receive.
I say it because I know my instinct is to control
instead of to relax.
I said this prayer a lot this week.
I just didn't relax enough to hear the response.

I didn't write down my goal for several days
and I definitely didn't try to listen to God.
I wanted to sit with the possibilities, 
to imagine what I thought God would say to me.
One thing that God might say to me is:
It's time to move churches.
It's time to use your energy and gifts in a different community.
You've had a beautiful time with My little church
and now it's time to go back into the wilderness.
You were made to do hard things so go and do them.
Alone.
I am a warrior for God and I do what God tells me.
That is the authority I recognize and that alone.
Except....sometimes I go hiding in the bushes and try not to listen.

The thought of losing this community takes my breath 
and makes my heart squeeze into a tiny little seed.
I have never experienced the kind of whole-hearted love and grace
the way I have experienced it through my current little church.
I showed up like an awkward, half-drowned rat
and have been treated as a beloved, precious daughter.
Which has allowed me to treat others as precious sons and daughters.
No one asked about the quality of my marriage,
whether I was worthy enough to use my gifts,
whether or not I was hearing God correctly.
Everyone just opened the door and let me get to work.
That is the work of the church-to offer healing love through 
face to face relationship based on acceptance instead of judgement.
My little church gets that resoundingly right on most days.
I love each of us so much-even the ones that 
I don't know well or wouldn't agree on politics with.
We show up for each other and there is so much magic
present in our simple acceptance of each other.

Thinking about going back into the wilderness,
moving through the world without a community of
other God warriors feels like death.
The tension within me kept scattering my thoughts like swallows chasing flies-
crash together, break apart, swirl this way and then wide swing that way.
I could not make myself get still.
And yet...I listen to God and do what God tells me to do.

Yesterday morning I realized that I wasn't writing these words.
And that it was a choice not to write them.
The awareness weighed on me all day.
Thursdays are a really busy day for me right now as 
I'm leading a class in my little church.
I'm usually slamming right from work to church.
I need to get the room setup,
make sure I have notes and materials 
and most importantly make sure I have time to pray before I lead.
As twilight landed, I bowed my head apologetically and met my Maker.
As I settled and submitted, a peace washed over me-
shoved into my heart really.
God was there, waiting for me to remember to be still.
The message was pretty clear.
Today is not the day that I need to change churches.
My little church is still the place for me to work
-in spite of the grief and the disagreement.
Maybe because of it.
This is still the right spot, the right time, the right place.


I still have no idea what the future holds...I never have.
It's is not mine to get, it is God's to give.
But...at least for today, I am to remain in the United Methodist Church.
There are hurting hearts to protect and I get to stay to help in their care.
I am so relieved.
And also...embarassed and ashamed at my irritating control-freak tendencies that make me want to check the numbers before I listen to the Spirit.
To all my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters-
you are seen and heard and beloved by the people of the church.
The margin was slim that voted to keep you out.
I have never seen so many casserole toting grandmas
and easy-going golfers get so incensed over a point of clergy law.
They are growling and it is beautiful.
You are already IN.
That's the good news that we're hear to share
and no faceless entity will take that.

Friday, February 08, 2019

PURGING (I LOVE THE SHIT OUT OF YOU)



What is left to say in this forum before I can flush this season?
I have written and rewritten over long years of swirling and sifting.
Erased the whole thing and then come back to start a fresh draft.
I have spent my rage and heartache in a thousand sprees-
sobbing through a sewer of lost understanding,
seeing old images in new frames as they float by.
You tipped the balance, spilt the milk,
stepped on a crack and broke my life's back.

Long flashy earrings sparkle-
they're good in a pinch
until they start to itch.
Eventually they end up in a drawer or a ditch
outmoded, outworn or split.
You might need a cream for that or a script.
Fake it so you can take it
is the ambition that you spit.

Outside the lines was your modus vivendi.
You bought other people's lives on stolen plastic.
Your fault or your responsibility?
Meaningless concepts to one so sick.
The wounds that led us all down this impossibility
so septic that any interest counted as destiny.
Jealousy and pettiness,
resentment and sneakiness,
smothering avarice steeped in lust
-it's all so unjust.

It's just...
apologies were never issued.
Does that mean that you're not sorry
or that formal closure requires censure?
Do you scuttle in shame or bloat with pride?
Are you capable of empathy or will you always
be consumed with tone deaf self sympathy?
Are you redeemed or reborn or just reused?
Should I be enraged?
Indignant?
Bemused?

I don't know if the hurricane shattered you or 
buffered you into someone stronger.
I don't know if you bled out
or hid out or sprouted.
Did you learn to love yourself?
Did anything finally make you matter?
I don't know anything about you really.
Counterfeit people can't be cashed in for gold.
There is no decoder ring that will unlock the mystery.
It's past time to let you go.

What do I need to say to the person who you were then
so I can move through to now?
The heaves have subsided and I have found temperance.
Clarity with fragile impermanence and dimensional grace.
What I've been searching for all along-these words
that I've buried and shredded and taped back together.
Thank you for the lesson.
It was worth learning.
I've got me.
Finally.













Wednesday, January 30, 2019

JUST DESSERTS AND OTHER THOUGHTS ON WORTHINESS



Warning....this post is chock full of beautiful pictures of dessert.
Continue reading at your own risk.

We've recently upended our house to replace the downstairs flooring.
In addition to the flooring facelift, we took time to purge and reorganize.
There were things in our house that just didn't work for 
who we are anymore (wine fridge),
and things that were broken or fragmented (snaggle tooth puzzles, lone gloves).
There were also items that needed to be rearranged for more functionality
 like the kiddos drop off station for their backpacks and lunch boxes.
We let go of at least 2 car loads of 'stuff' and 
what remains is needed and loved.

It looks beautiful.
It's the best our house has ever looked.
Everything that made it back into the house has a spot,
every room is laid out to maximize the way we live,
there is no extra pile sitting in a room waiting for 
me to spend 3 hours sorting it.
I've been stating for years that this needed to happen
and we finally made it happen.
I should feel great right?
Smug, accomplished, full of myself.
WRONG.



Instead, I've spent the better part of a month feeling anxious
and bingeing on baked goods-
which generally means I'm avoiding a feeling.
Pro tip:  There has never been a pie
that was so good that I needed to eat the whole thing.
If I am mindlessly grazing, I am trying to numb myself from something.
It is ALWAYS a sign that I am uncomfortably up in my feelings,
that I am avoiding something,
that my anxiety is up and I really want to check out.
You might use alcohol, or sex, work or instagram.
I use high quality good gluten free baked goods.
The behavior is the symptom that something is off-
but it's not always clear to me what is causing me to feel like this.



Most days I get up before everyone else in my house 
and spend that time focusing on something just for me.
Some days I write, some days I meditate or do something creative.
For a few days I decided to focus on this behavior of mine-
Why am I anxious?
Why am I suddenly eating in spite of not feeling hungry?
What hole am I trying to fill with food?
What was lurking just past the edges of my consciousness?

Turns out the culprit is an old frenemy that 
I will deal with periodically for the rest of my life.
Each time I pull it up by the roots, 
it tries to find some other ground to land in.
Who is this frenemy?
It's my own self-worth.
As I sat and thought about what could be making me anxious
these thoughts rose to the surface:
People like me don't deserve to have beautiful, 
organized places that greet them with joy.
People like me deserve chaos and layers of dysfunction
 that I have to fight through for crumbs of joy.
People like me have to earn acceptance and peace-
it's not something I give myself.
This house felt too nice for someone like me.
I don't belong here.
Wow.
Bless my heart.


This is of course not true-at least not true in the factual sense.
The floor redo is bought and paid for-
with cash that was earned through hard work.
The house reflects a vision that I worked to create 
and it fits the life I live beautifully.
My name is on the deed and I get mail regularly at this address.
It's my home and it reflects my family and our choices throughout.
I definitely belong here by all realistic measures.
The legacy of childhood neglect and trauma though...
that sucker will continue to invite me into conversations 
like this for a good long time.


I am not unique in that a lot of my childhood was spent
 in an ecosystem filled with chaotic energy.
Household organization wasn't a tool in the arsenal 
of things my mother used to maneuver in life.
Things happened in our household via a series of 
haphazard behavior that no one quite understood.
There was food because someone inevitably got 
hungry and ran around screaming for someone else
to put a meal together.
There were clean clothes because we ran out of them 
and someone grudgingly threw a load in the wash,
and it eventually made it to the dryer, 
and then sat in a hamper until DANG!  
all the clothes were dirty again.
There were police at our house because
someone stopped for beer on the way home
and then things quickly escalated.
Very little that sustained life in our house happened
 on purpose or according to a plan.
Most of it appeared to be the result of magical formula
that no adult was able to understand.

On my rare glimpses of other people's lives, 
I would see clean floors,
organized kitchens, bedrooms that contained dressers 
and no visible piles of clothing.
There was peace in other people's houses, 
there was laughter and joy and stability.
I know these things aren't necessarily equated
but I don't think they're wholly unrelated either.
Those other houses had a quality within their lives that was valuable.
I knew that I wanted that domestic tranquility for myself.
I took mental snapshots and created future based life goals
 that included a house the lifted me up when I walked in the door.

At the same time, I cherish my ability to surf chaos.
I have made a fairly successful living at seeing a giant mess
 and understanding on a fundamental level what makes it move.
I can find the lever that is causing systems to fall apart repeatedly
or the thread of a good idea woven inside of the tangle.
I can go around rules and in between expectations
because I don't usually see them until after the fact.
I am less limited in my thinking sometimes than other people.
I can create order out of chaos because on some level I am at home in chaos.
It feels right.
It feels like what I deserve.


That word 'deserve' is an interesting mind twister.
The formal definition of deserve is 
If I deserve something, it's because I
or someone else else has judged me and found me worthy of it.
Who makes the rules determining what I deserve?
I'm a privileged white woman living in middle class America.
Even though there are certainly social expectations,
I am more free than ever to decide whose opinions matter.
I can literally take my ball and go home if I don't like something.
And yet....I am the person who limits myself time and again.

Every time I remember this truth,
I swear a little because it's so mortifying that I am able to forget it.
I will create the world or the life that reflects 
what I believe I am worthy of having.
Also, if I don't think I'm worthy of something, 
then I will destroy it or leave it or ignore it or avoid it.
Do I deserve my job?
What about my relationships?
My body, my health, my life?
The car I drive or the clothes I wear?
What about joy?  Or laughter?
Do I deserve these things?
There is no verbal answer that will show the truth here-
my actions and my choices will tell the story.



I'm grateful that I know that I often play a part within
 my own life to determine how my life functions and manifests.
I'm also frustrated and embarrassed by it.
It doesn't matter how hard I work or how much energy 
I expend to climb that mountain.
If I don't think I deserve reaching the vista,
I'll keep finding reasons to sit down on the side of the mountain.
Like my desire to be loved exactly as I am, 
completely and whole-heartedly which is
sabotaged every time I refuse to be my whole-hearted 
vulnerable self with people close to me.
Or the busyness that keeps me from writing on days 
that I've targeted a specifically hard topic to discuss.
Or my desire to thrive physically that can start drifting sideways 
because I'm not sure I deserve to live in a nice house.
I am the biggest impediment to the life that I want to live
and it's often because I don't think I deserve that life.

I have not eradicated the anxious eating from my current life.
It settles for a day or two and then it sneaks in again.
It takes a while for what I know in my brain to seep 
into my body or my practice.
I deserve to live without chaos, to be surrounded by beauty.
I know this intellectually but it may take months for my body 
and heart to believe it too.
I've done this dance with myself before, 
I'm committed to loving myself through this change 
no matter how long it takes to believe that I deserve my dreams.
It's not a one and done,
I have not failed if I've eaten a cookie or a piece of cake.
Or two or three.
I've just proved that I've got opportunity to love myself more.
It took me a long time to realize that health is something
 you cultivate and not something
that magically happens to you.
What do you believe you deserve?
Don't answer out loud-
look at the story of your actions,
your choices.
It's in there.




Thursday, January 10, 2019

THRIVE-INTENTIONS FOR THE NEXT ROUND


It's the time of year where it's easy to take stock of life.
The days are short, the darkness feels everlasting.
It's a natural time of reflection and preparation before the sun comes back.
I've been ruminating about what I want from the coming months and one word keeps rising up.
Thrive.
I want to thrive.
I am a born survivor, I excel at perseverance,  and I have learned to rest.
Thriving though...that implies joie de vivre, dancing and laughing, health and vigor, rest and relaxation, a natural push and pull with a little zip in the motion.
I don't actually know how to do that.
I mean, not for REAL.
I know how to pretend that for a while but consistently living with zest is a mystery to me.
What does it mean to be thrilled to take on a new challenge, open to the gifts that life
sends your way and taking up the whole space available to do that turn around the dance floor?
I am captivated by the idea that I could flourish instead of subsist.
Mostly though, I'm carrying around the understanding that this is what I WANT.
Not what someone else wants for me, 
not what the world told me I should be,
or what my neighbor has.
It's been a long time since I let desire lead me.
I want to thrive more than I wanted a 
cabbage patch doll the Christmas of 1986.
My desire to thrive is a light glowing in the fog, 
a birdhouse in my soul, 
the opening beats to a Queen song.

Setting intentions is good, useful, even great.
It's also proven insufficient in my life.
Hope is not a plan and not much in my life has happened accidentally..
I'm actively taking steps to do do what I understand 'thrive' to mean.
I've invested some time in the formal schedule-
to make sure there's fun but also
to ensure spaces where growing, living, and possibility can happen.
I've got a couple of constant reminders that this is my focus 
I'm doing my best to be deliberate about my physical health-
scheduling gym sessions, eating real food.
My connection with God and myself is growing
and has a morning space set aside just for this purpose.
This intention has lots of support and space within my actual life.
It's going to be an amazing next few months as it unfolds.
I have lived enough to be aware that what you look for, you find-
but not always in the way you imagined finding it.
Thriving may not look like I imagine it.
I want it anyway.
However this plays out in my life, it's going to be worth it.
What are your words or dreams for the next few months or years?
The next round has a lot of possibility.
Get after it.