3/22/19 2:12pm EST
It just felt like time…it’s nearly the second quarter of the year, the seasons have officially changed…it just felt like time to start a new chapter of blogging. So here it is.
I just opened my email to find this video created by 1001 for Missing Peace. What an encouraging gift!
Greatly needed and appreciate the gift of this video highlighting who we are trying to be. Especially in the midst of the chaos of Spring Break. I mean, as chaos goes its relatively calm, but its been a lot of back and forth and a lot of no schedule. And that leaves me feeling a bit off kilter…this video makes me feel back on track. Clear again. Excited again. Grateful again. What a gift indeed.
3/23/19 8:29pm EST
Back in good ol ATL. Waiting on my flight back home. And once again on the high from presenting at a conference. God that feels so good. I just love talking to groups of genuinely curious people about the unique opportunity to connect with God and others through new worshiping communities. It is such an incredible gift. And, at the risk of sounding less than humble, I’m good at it. And that feels good too. Grateful for that gift.
And now I head home, high on the success of the event, and chomping at the bit to share a piece of the inevitable inspiration with my community back home.
3/25/19 5:25am EST
Spring Break is over. The kids go back to school today, and our routines can resume. I’m grateful for that! Back to sun salutations, beach walks and writing. As much joy as I had in the last week of beautiful chaos, I’m starved for the tried and true ways I hear, connect, talk to the divine. I’ve felt a bit off kilter without them…even getting to do some of the things I love most.
So I’ve been thinking about discernment a bit. And I, as well as Missing Peace, have been really focused on the listening part of discernment. Which is deeply important. And. Is not all there is to it. I think there is a second, more active part of discernment. The part where you create actionable steps. The part where you analyze what you’ve heard and figure out what to do with it. And the part after discernment where you put the ideas and to dos into action. I’m struggling to get to that part…to pull out of the dreaming and into the doing…like I want someone to do it for me or something. Hmmm…
Yesterday at Missing Peace was kind of a flop. Ugh. That hurts to say. I don’t want that to be true and I don’t want to record it. But it was. The park we met at was hosting a birthday party which was distracting. I decided to mix things up and put the game of kickball first, which was distracting. The children were all over the place, disorganized and energy-full, each one tugging on a proverbial apron string, and our childcare person was totally overwhelmed. And…all of that with only 6 adults and 8 kids present for the game. It pains me both to write and to read that, but its true.
It forces me to think, “What are we doing wrong?” and “Maybe this is just who we are, is it enough?” and “Why isn’t it working as expected?” and “What even were you expecting?” and “How can we make it better?” and “How do the others feel about it?” For me it feels a bit like I tried to throw a party and no one showed up…and if the people that did are picking up that vibe, its kinda crappy…but they keep showing up. And it has mattered to lots of people. What the hell is getting in the way?! How can we have received as much positive feedback and encouragement and excitement around this thing we do, and still only have 6 people show up?! And is there anyway for that to be enough for me…because I’m sure its enough for God.
Let go of arriving…it bubbles up from an old conversation with a friend…let go of arriving and be where you are. Deeply where you are. Pay attention to now, to who is gathered. Invest in them. Listen to them. Journey with them. Discover together. A whole bunch of but-what-abouts come up with that, but this seems the right answer for now.
3/26/19 5:15am EST
Hot tea…so good. Okay, this hot tea is so good. It’s called Sweet and Spicy and its the best tea ever. Even if you’re not a tea drinker. Just thought I’d record that fact.
I started yesterday in the pits. Like in that questioning everything and whats enough kinda place. And then I had my writing time, and an extended beach walk. I started on the beach as normal, with an amazing sun rise, but met up with a friend and ended on the river with dolphins swimming along in front of us. Who could remain in the pits after that?
These routines I have, they really do help keep me connected and sane. Its funny how we can go through life with a sense of “what’s wrong,” and “why do I feel this way.” I do a lot. We float in and out of this hazy malaise of just putting one foot in front of the other. We can’t understand why we’re not getting any direction, but we’re not stopping to listen. We can’t understand why we don’t see what’s coming, but we don’t look up. When things get busy and chaotic, we think we’re just supposed to go faster, run harder, get more efficient. But actually, I believe, we need to stop. Counter-intuitively, that’s the time to slow down, listen, and look up from the clouds around our busy feet.
I just don’t think our day-to-day business is what will stand out and be memorable in our lives. So what are you doing that will be?
3/27/19 5:21am EST
Even though it happens everyday, it’s worth recording. It is unique, and beautiful, and holds its own special magic meant for just that day. One could be tempted to think, What a waste. All this and it will be appreciated by few and gone tomorrow. Why are we so worried about “wasting” it. I have been haunted by the idea that I’m wasting all my life. Wasting energy, “Turn off the lights!” Wasting time, “There’s a more efficient way to do that.” Wasting money, “That was on sale last week.” As if there is some perfect balance where nothing gets “wasted.” It’s a struggle even in this moment to see it differently. But something inside me, some deeper truth that is not my own, says this isn’t the truth. It says that something are meant to last, and somethings aren’t. That challenging moments are learned from and formative. That the hardest things highlight love and hope most. That when something isn’t permanent, you appreciate it more. And that there’s another opportunity. The sun will come up again tomorrow.
It’s like breathing, are we wasting CO2 when we exhale? No, its just what needs to go. And you’ve got to release it to welcome what’s next.
3/28/19 5:17am EST
Yesterday was a good and spirit-filled day, even with challenges. In fact, the challenges actually helped facilitate some of the good. For example, a train got stuck on the railroad tracks blocking the main road in and out of Ormond. I was on one side, and my coffee appointment was on the other. But instead of getting anxious and frustrated, my normal go to, I looked around for things to do while I waited. And…I found a store very close by that had the raffle tickets I needed for the nights event. With a quick back track, I mailed a few things that needed to go off that day. By the time I’d completed those two tasks, I sat in traffic for only 5 minutes or so, and it was moving again. But the best part is, when I walked into the coffee shop, far later than I was originally scheduled to, a friend and fellow conspirer to make the world and people better, was also just walking in. We got to have a great talk about new ideas for cerebral engagement – Coffeehouse Conversations. And now I’m meeting with the owner of that coffee shop on Friday! What?! Thank you train that held everything up for just the right amount of time. I would have felt very differently if I was trying to get to a sick kid or something, but in this case, it was helpful to be delayed.
Had another great meeting that morning about partnering with a local crossfit gym to create a deeply physical expression that intentionally engages the spiritual too. I’m excited for how this collaboration will play out. But for the first time it doesn’t feel like I have an idea and then map it all out and then try to convince people to get on board….which has often left me frustrated and depleted. Instead, its a team effort, a co-conspiring to do something we think will be valuable for the world. Something that points to the depths of what humans are capable of both physically and spiritually. I can’t wait to see what happens!
3/29/19 5:20am EST
We try to love the words abstractions and creations of human culture like religion and philosophy as God…for many of us, we might need to get out of church buildings and find God in the trees and sunlight. ~Michael Gungor
That was a line from the Liturgist podcast I was listening to this morning with Richard Rohr. Afterward he says, and some of us need to graduate from that into something more structured. I appreciate the both/and-ness of it that allows people to be where they are in their journey. I appreciate how well it goes with Forest Bathing this week which is our Mindful Sunday emphasis. I appreciate that it makes space.
4/1/19 5:20am EST
Yesterday was my first Mindful Sunday. We’ve had one other, but I was traveling and busy…not very mindful. This Sunday was different, it was actually mindful. We actually engaged and enjoyed God’s creation (including each other).
Well, for the most part. Trying to get folks moving yesterday was a bit of a challenge. Like it just seems easier to sit in front of the television or just hang around, but there’s this whole world of beauty and wonder and adventure out there. It’s just the initial inertia, getting over the hump of actually getting somewhere, changing venues, and then we all really had a great time. I feel like its just numbing ourselves in our comfortable homes with our entertainment sources…and we don’t even know we’re doing it…watching other lives (not even real ones usually) happen. Versus, getting out and actually living that life. Even if its a bit risky, or doesn’t work out…the best stories are usually the ones that don’t work out.
I want my life comprised of stories and my ideas coming to life, instead of just watching other people’s.
4/2/19 5:15am EST
I can’t believe I keep doing this. I am so not a consistent person. I more get excited about the new different idea and bringing it to life. I think I want routines, but I draw them up and organize them, and pretty soon abandon them. Perhaps I will with this too, but for now on it goes.
I did not get pictures of the sunrise yesterday. It was a cold and rainy sort of day…and, I stood in line to sign my daughters up for camp. Well, daughter…the younger is a couple months shy of their cut off and they are strict about no exceptions. I did get one picture though. The girls April Fool’s joke. They were so funny; announcing their prank but then saying it wasn’t a prank. All in all, a pretty good one.
Nothing super profound today (is it ever?). Maybe some days are just light and casual. Thank God.
4/3/19 5:18am EST
Why is it that tired is so frequently the first thing on my mind/lips? I understand that I lead a full life, but I have time for a beach walk nearly every day and can most often walk my kids to and from the bus stop. I’m so spoiled by all this i can’t even imagine having a 8-5 in an office, and still have to parent and housekeep and feed everyone. Those people have a right to tired…not me.
Funny how I think I need a right to the way I feel. I think its deeply rooted in the stigma round weakness. It’s familial, but its really cultural too. Perhaps even more so for men, but increasingly for women too. We are all supposed to have endless energy and strength to handle life all on our own. But I don’t think that’s the way its meant to be…or at least it doesn’t feel like the perfected version/kingdom version of things. That version talks about vulnerability, strength in weakness, the first will be the last, that kind of thing. Ugh, that makes my white, American skin crawl.
So where is the balance. The space between frantic and lazy…ew, who wants to be either of those? My gut tells me it’s a little different for everyone. And that that is okay. I am not worthless or lazy if I’m not as belabored as my neighbor. (That is so much easier than the next line.) I’m not more valuable if I’m frantic and overly busy. How long will it take me to realize my value is not in what I produce? Perhaps a lifetime…
4/4/19 5:20am EST
I went to bed at 7:20pm last night. I had a migraine and was just feeling tired. So I got the kids to bed and went to bed myself. I’ve been thinking/feeling a lot around tired and rest lately. And the strange way I don’t trust myself when I feel tired – or feel like I shouldn’t/haven’t earned the right. In my spiritual direction yesterday, this came up too. That spiritual growth can make just as much tired as physical growth. That spiritual productivity can use up your energy just as much as physical productivity. It’s just one is harder to explain, harder to capture or justify.
And we all know the antidote to tired. It’s rest. Sounds obvious, but what does that look like. Because even sleep can be restless. And numbing myself with electronics, booze or social busyness isn’t restful either. It can sometimes be a nice break, but its not rest. And not sustainable. It makes me tired in a different way. So what is rest? What does it look like? There’s something about how you hold things…like with a lot of trust instead of a “do it all” kind of responsibility. Or great fear and trembling when you’re not. There’s something around creating space for time that is not productive…not multitasking…that is for no other purpose than being. Not being on a schedule. Not being in control or responsible for what’s happening in a space.
On Sunday I forced my kids to go to the beach. I know, bad mom, right? They wanted to be electronics zombies and just hang out, and I told them that I still get to decide what they do and I decided we are going to the beach. They fussed and whined and finally came along. Once we were there, they had a really great time. We bonded and played and just truly enjoyed ourselves. All of us. What a gift! It wasn’t their zombieness that was hard, it wasn’t playing at the beach that was hard. What was hard was the transition. That was the challenge, the leap from one to the next.
So as I begin to embrace rest. As I build in the space for it in my life. I may feel more tired at first. It makes sense when you think about it. But, these practices are helping me rest, are becoming a part of me, are shaping me more into who I am to be. And it is good.
4/8/19 5:25am EST
I learned something about myself this weekend. I have triggers. Perhaps that’s obvious, perhaps everyone has them, but I was really unaware of mine. Or because, as is a theme with me, I didn’t think I was worthy of them. I don’t have the kind of trauma in my history most often associated with triggers. I don’t have PTSD – unless that’s also the kind of thing that functions on a spectrum and we all kind of have it. I say that not to diminish PTSD, but to hold up that none of us escapes childhood unscathed. All of us learn hard lessons at tender ages, all of us are shaped by the broken world in some way or another, all of us build defenses appropriate to the perceived danger of our world.
Interestingly, I cannot point to a specific event or even behavior most closely tied to my intense and not unfounded (this part is important to me) reactions. But I can tell you, when someone is picking, or seems to be picking, partying and alcohol over family…even in small one offs…it blows me right up. I get panicky, desperate, I want to do anything to make it stop. I’ll try guilt, condemning, shaming, threats…anything is on the table, and that is not part of how I normally act/fight/convince/conduct myself. Which in turn is so self defeating because then I’m not being reasonable and there is plenty of fodder for the other to call me unreasonable, overreacting, etc. It’s an ugly and vicious cycle that ends up with everyone hurt.
…out of time…this discovery obviously needs more time…
5/9/19 5:17am EST
Sunset on the west coast of Florida (Clearwater Beach)
Sunrise on the east coast of Florida (Ormond Beach)
The girls and I chased the sun over to the west coast on Thursday. We packed a quick bag and some snacks and hustled into the car, hoping that I4 traffic would be merciful. All to watch the sunset…a thing that happens everywhere, but is somehow more magical when it happens over vast bodies of water. It’s like the entirety of the heavens opens itself for your eyes. There are so many colors, and that sense of the sun appears still and yet you know its moving. Inching bit by bit closer to the water every time you look away.
It reminds me of raising my girls. In any given moment I can’t see them growing and changing but they are. I can tell when I think back a year, or look at pictures. I know how fast its going, and I can’t hold on to it, but I hope I’m wise enough to capture moments of it in memory. Each moment, so precious, and I can’t help but take them for granted in my confidence that there will be so many more. May I love them well, raise them well, and teach them well…these precious girls of mine.
4/10/19 5:18am EST
I wrote down a book title last night. It’s “Pink-Haired, Mermaid Baby Jesus.” It’s about doing faith differently, embracing church way outside the box, and in doing so inviting in a whole host of God’s children. It feels like a thing. Maybe it will be. I have a lot of writing to do actually, and need to find my happy writing place and do it. I need big chunks of time to get it all out on paper, because each time you try to pick a large work back up you kind of have to re-read what you’d said up to that point. A blog like this you can just tackle in fits and spurts.
I think that’s it for today…have just been staring off into space, and perhaps that’s because there is just no more to say for now.
4/11/19 5:14am EST
I always look at the clock when I start my blog entry. And when I’m a few minutes early like today, I start to think “why am I ahead” and “what am I forgetting?” Do you realize what that means? It means I can’t even look at the clock objectively. It means a list of judgements come to mind…just from looking at the time. Seriously?! What the hell is that?
What would it feel like, what would it look like, if I could embrace more curiosity and less judgement? What if we all could. Our world right now seems so full of these false dichotomies, forced choices, you’re in or you’re out. It’s not healthy.
I posted a meme on facebook the other day with a comment of “Wow. This brings up a lot of emotions.” It was a very vague statement…I didn’t say if I was for or against, just that it brought up a lot for me. My thinking was, if I didn’t take a side, but instead talked about a feeling, it could provoke a different engagement that the oh-so-common rallying to the “for” or “against.”
I’m not sure my little experiment worked. There’s really no way to tell fully. What I can say is that there were not many comments, no arguments started as they so often do in these cases. Perhaps that’s because it worked, or perhaps people just say, “yea, that’s what I expect from her.”
But there was one comment. It said, “If lives matter, what about babies in the womb.” Do you see what happened? A whole bunch of other judgements about other issues where assigned to me. Things that had nothing to do with this issue. Unknowingly, this commenter was sucked into the deflective, judgement-full, defensive stance of the “what abouts.” You see it all the time. From both sides. But its like we are so frenetic, and so ready to argue, so camped out in our political or religious corners, that we jump out and attack at any sign of life on the other side.
Perhaps its how entrenched I am in my own camp, I’d like to think not, but I can’t see how anyone could argue “for” incarcerating or caging up children regardless of nationality or legal status. Putting people in cages is wrong, and its not that long ago in our history that these kind of atrocities have played themselves out, we ought to know better.
As for my response to my lone commenter? “Do we have to choose one or the other? I don’t want to. Sounds like it brings up a lot of emotions for you too.” And that was the end of it. I don’t have some neat bow to tie this up in. Just a wish, hope, prayer that we can see each other, all people, as human – as neighbor. What would you do for, want for, your neighbor? Enough to eat. Clean water. Kindness. Freedom. Health. Joy. Opportunity…what would it look like if we all collectively wanted, and acted on the want of, these things for all people?
I think this is why I capture the sunrise. Each day is a new chance.
4/15/19 5:20am EST
And just like that, another weekend is past. The planner page flips over. The new week begins. What will this one hold?
I went to Collective last night. Its a great spiritual community with tasty coffee and good music, and most importantly a wise and inclusive theology. There was a time I went with regularity, but that’s been years ago. Now I’m ready to have some regularity with it again. I allowed excuses to get in the way, but now I have a buddy to go with and lots of good reasons, the greatest of which is I hear/feel/see God there.
I was standing in the Eucharist line last night, and I thought I know there are these people in Ormond Beach…these same people that are hungry for the kind of theology and relationship that Collective and Missing Peace share. And then, tears and Why am I failing to gather them. But God seemed to nudge me toward, You’re not. More tears. Then it was my turn to receive the bread and juice. More quiet, gentle tears, and a sense that it is all as it should be. That the expectations I’m not meeting are mine and not God’s. That God is doing a thing, and if I can manage to avoid desperate-panic-mode, so common in my humanity, that God’s thing will be revealed even to me.
4/16/19 5:53am EST
So I heard this great quote yesterday. And its got me thinking. No one wants to go through the darkness. No one wants to go through pain and hurt and loss. And yet, beginning on a very small scale in our youth, its the fertile ground for growth and transformation. Change is so very hard, maybe not in hindsight, but in the moment. That risky leap into a new thing, or even just stirring ourselves from bed in the morning. Its just not easy…but where did we get the idea we want easy. No strength ever came from easy.
The quote I referenced came from a sculpture named Harriet Marsh.
So in the end every major disaster every tiny error every wrong turning every fragment of discarded clay all the blood sweat and tears everything has meaning. I give it meaning. I reuse reshape recast all that goes wrong so that in the end nothing is wasted and nothing is without significance and nothing ceases to be precious to me
I have no doubt that this is in fact the way the God views creation. While we are busy worrying about what’s gone wrong or what hasn’t met our particular set of expectations, by contrast, God sees it all as precious and significant. Perhaps even our deepest failings, because they have meaning and can be reused, reshaped and recast…maybe even re-surrected.
Easter is in a few days. And the overlay of this quote and that holy day is stirring to my heart. This is the reason that death and hardship and all the rest don’t win. Not by squashing them or preventing them from over happening, but by renaming them and resurrecting them and making them something new.
4/18/19 5:13am EST
Jeff had a business trip in Chicago this week, so we decided to see if we could get a little parental help with the kids and I could tag along. Low and behold, it worked out! So I dipped into my sky miles for a free ticket and headed off for 18 hours in America’s third largest city, the home of the sky scraper, and the home of my dear friend Davin Youngs. What a good human Davin is…not because he’s “figured it all out” or something like that, but just that he’s so faithfully committed to journey and discovery and becoming. I think that’s our main job, bing devoted to becoming who each of us uniquely is, where our greatest gifts and the worlds greatest needs intersect…wherever that falls on the graph.
I think where we get into trouble is the “whatabouts.” Recently the world witnessed as one of its oldest and most beautiful cathedrals, Notre Dame, burned horrendously. The fire blazed for 9 hours while crews struggled against the firey blaze. It was tragic, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. And then there was the follow up…reports of nearly half a billion dollars raised in a matter of hours to help restore it. Initially received as a beautiful outpouring to save, restore, resurrect this beautiful cathedral for the benefit of all. But then, began the rants, the “whatabouts.” The sarcastic jabs at givers because they gave their money this way instead of to starving people, or other churches that burned, etc etc etc. Their giving was criticized because in the eyes of whatever critic it wasn’t good enough. No!! Jesus himself is reported to have said, “you’ll always have the poor among you, but not always me.” Meaning, I believe, that some times are for things other than serving the poor, but all times are for following your calling and living into it. Following your deepest calling, which I believe is God given in your creation, may not always look like what the world tells you good people are supposed to do, but there will always be those things. Are you taking the time to turn inward and discover who you are supposed to be?
And these “whatabouts” just serve to stall and distract from what was a good and helpful and hopeful notion a person felt called to. Please, do share your other causes, lovely, but spare us the condemnation of how another chooses to give. Perhaps you’re own calling is to give to those churches, but their’s is to help build a beacon of hope for the whole world. And my hunch is, most of the people sharing that didn’t give to those churches either. You’re not inspiring with your shame and condemnation, you’re only paralyzing people who wanted to do some good and now question their decision.
And so I will be my weird form of writer/preacher/mystic that I am still discovering. And Davin will be his unique form of healer/musician/teacher that he is still discovering. And billionaires can help rebuild mighty cathedrals (who else?), and “whatabout”-ers can support the cause that is meaningful to them. Because that is my and Davin and billionaires and whatabouters callings to do that. Great! But don’t shame and condemn any one of us as we do good along the way of discovering what their/your/our calling is.
4/19/19 5:19am EST
I’m kinda in love with how these beach pictures turn out. I’d say #nofilter, but I’m not even sure what a filter means…this is just my puny phone attempting to catch a little magic. And, often, it does.
4/22/19 5:17am EST
We made it. And honestly, it did feel like a resurrection of sorts. More than one person said that special something was back. A feeling that had been missing from Missing Peace for a while. “It just worked, the flow was there.” Another said, “It truly was all I’ve been missing about our gatherings.” And perhaps my favorite, “I haven’t celebrated Easter in 5 years, and this was great. I loved being here with you all.” (that one is paraphrased) It was everything it should have and could have been. God showed up in the most resurrection-y form, and it was good.
So now what? Now we move into Easter Monday, and are we changed? Are we made new some how? How will resurrected life be different?
The core of my MP crew will gather Tuesday Night to decide some of that for the group. I will wait, hope, and prepare.
4/24/19 5:15am EST
These people. Wow. Almost two years ago now I was invited to be part of CRAVE – a dynamic effort to encourage leaders doing good in the world and nurture the divine in them and their work. These people gathered regularly, encouraged each other, and nurtured each other through discovering and building their unique containers for spiritual formation. It was a good process, and great people, but being the only one from the beach (the rest are from Orlando) I always felt a little outside. Also being the only pastor felt a little outside too. But I still enjoyed journeying with these folks for a time. The above picture represents an alumni dinner of sorts. Pretty casual, but also continuing to connect us and consider how we want to remain connected.
Where they wowed me in a very personal way was last night, the night after the dinner pictured above, when I hosted a dinner of my own. A Missing Peace dinner on “the way forward.” How do we want to do this thing together and differently than we have in the past. These are the texts I got from my CRAVErs during that meal…
“Thinking of you!”
“You’re incredible and I’m excited you’ve been seeing value in letting go of pieces of missing peace.”
“Breathe big babe. Know that everything is simply a lesson and that you are supported.”
“Praying for you now – Holy Source of Divine Flow – carry Katy and Missing Peace down your river. Help her to let go, hear You in the voices of others, and rest in the assurance of your love. Amen.”
I had been so anxious about this for some reason. It felt heavy and I felt underprepared. I was swirling into the vortex of its all up to me and I’ve failed. I had convinced myself I was alone in this work, and knew that it meant failure. But none of that was true. There were people pulling for me half way across the state. There were people pulling for me around the table. There was the Holy Spirit right there in the middle of it. I’m not alone. God nor the participants nor the supporters have left this divine experiment. We will go forward differently, beautifully, and hopefully.
I wish I had a picture of the people around the table last night. What an awesome group they are. Committed and connected and growing. Wow. These people. So many people to be grateful for.
4/25/19 5:13am EST
Not a cloud in the sky yesterday, and I have the sunburn to prove it. But it was perfect out, warm and sunny with a cooling breeze just when you needed it. Awesome. And now we start today, with whatever it shall bring.
“And that’s all I got to say about that.”
4/29/19 5:16am EST
So this happened…
Camp Winona offers a Spring Weekend Camp, sort of a trial run for kiddos who are interested in the camp scene. Both my girls, even the snuggle bug, enthusiastically embraced this adventure. They roasted hot dogs on an open fire, showered in a bath house, tried archery and rifelry, and did lakeside activities. And they loved it. Meanwhile hubs and I had a weekend to ourselves that was connectional, and loving, and fun. These girls are growing up right under our noses. What an amazing thing to behold!
4/30/19 5:17am EST
I saw two of these majestic crane/heron type birds on my walk yesterday. I’ve not seen them before, or at a minimum its been a long time. Both let me get rather close. I know is silly, but sometimes I think the beach ecosystem is accepting me as one of its own. Like the birds don’t fly away as often from me. Like I’m not a threat. Like I belong there.
I’m having an internal struggle lately about my external and internal life matching. My values are not well represented in how my life looks. We live in a large home near the beach, are members of a country club, drive a luxury car, and none of that is what I expected for my life. None of that matches up with my primary goals around raising a wholesome family, being a good human in the divine image, helping people know how loved they are and that they have value and purpose in this world. But just as I’m writing it, I guess these things don’t exactly conflict. I mean, sometimes behaviors associated with this lifestyle conflict, but not the trappings themselves. Its just, the more we have, the more I feel trapped by it. Conversely, it helps my spouse feel a sense of accomplishment and good provision for his family. And that’s important too. Either way, without some dramatic, and likely traumatic changes, this is the life we have right now, and we will live it as well as we can.
May all that I have be used to make the world better, people better. May they further connect with the source of all creation, and see that image in each other. Surely no one could hurt or kill or otherwise cause pain or destruction to another if they could see the divine in each other. Help us see it. Help us see how we each fit and how the other fits in active restoration of the world with deep grace, gratitude, and patience.
5/1/19 5:16am EST
So Crossfit last Sunday. Very good experience for everyone. Beautiful and a real example of worshiping with all our strength…the most undervalued (IMHO) piece of the first commandment. And for the first couple of days after, the soreness I felt was a reminder of that time together, calling me back to the experience in an uncomfortable yet happy-feeling kind of way. But now, waking up again with my triceps screaming every time I itch my nose or scratch my head…its getting a bit old. Does this mean I pushed too hard? I hear that happens at crossfit. Worse, does it mean I’m weak?
In the gathering on Sunday, we talked about perseverance. We talked about it in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense. Meaning drawing on a well deeper than your own, one that never runs dry. I’m wondering if the physical to spiritual metaphor holds up even in the following soreness. I persevered alright, and really felt that I drew on strength beyond my own, but now…I’m feeling really worn down from the pain in my muscles since then. Where’s that well now? Does the drawing out of the metaphor indicate that I can drink from the well of living water, but then deal with the fall out afterwards alone?
My gut tells me that’s not how it works. Either I’m misinterpreting or theres just a point where the metaphor breaks down. That said, maybe pushing too hard in any area leads to some soreness. Maybe the way that muscles breakdown and have to heal to be built stronger is kind of the way it works spiritually and intellectually too. I don’t know…just know I’m sore and tired of being so. Perhaps its the difference of slow and steady progress versus big leaps that often lead to a fall backward?
5/2/19 5:14am EST
For posterity I’ll mention, I’m still sore. But its getting better. I think. It has to, right?
Shifting gears, during my spiritual direction yesterday, a beautiful blessing was shared with me.
Friends, huge trees, waterfalls, and more amazing sunsets. Plus, lots of time to write, good food, and plenty of rest. They call this opportunity a sabbath retreat. And it really has been. And we still have two more days (including today). What an incredible. gift.
5/9/19 7:02am PST
I can already feel the adjustment back to EST coming…looming ahead. Its going to be a rough one.
Getting to hear a lot of stories here. Learning a lot. My inclusivity and social justice understandings are being pushed and stretched. How do we walk into these things well? How do we discern just how much we or our communities are called to social justice? Well, I guess it starts with listening. So my commitment is to listen to people back home, those already working on these things and to God. Oh wow. This feels like the beginning of a journey.
5/10/19 6:27pm EST
Long travel day. Wearing on me. Were there tears? Maybe. Had to be up at 4am on one side of the country. Won’t get home til 9pm on the other. Cross country travel is for the birds. Then, realized I scheduled a trip over my kiddos dance recital. Doh! I would be totally critical of that had it been someone else. Ugh. I’ll find a solution, but geez that sucks. I have a vivid memory of NOT clicking the trip insurance button. Dawgonnit! (And other less appropriate words too.) I have a friends who, when making these types of mistakes, calls it “tuition.” Meaning, the cost is less painful if you learn from it. Ugh again. Lots to learn, hope its not all that expensive!
So Mother’s Day is in a couple days. I’m preaching twice. I’m actually feeling really good about what I’ve prepared (thank you Holy Spirit!). Here’s a snippet, a poem, that really influenced my writing this week. Looking forward to sharing.
To be a Mother is to suffer;
To travail in the dark,
stretched and torn,
exposed in half-naked humiliation,
subjected to indignities
for the sake of new life.
To be a Mother is to say,
“This is my body, broken for you,”
And, in the next instant, in response to the created’s primal hunger,
“This is my body, take and eat.”
To be a Mother is to self-empty,
To neither slumber nor sleep,
so attuned You are to cries in the night—
Offering the comfort of Yourself,
and assurances of “I’m here.”
To be a Mother is to weep
over the fighting and exclusions and wounds
your children inflict on one another;
To long for reconciliation and brotherly love
and—when all is said and done—
To gather all parties, the offender and the offended,
into the folds of your embrace
and to whisper in their ears
that they are Beloved.
To be a mother is to be vulnerable—
To be misunderstood,
For the heartaches of the bewildered children
who don’t know where else to cast
the angst they feel
over their own existence
in this perplexing universe
To be a mother is to hoist onto your hips those on whom your image is imprinted,
bearing the burden of their weight,
rejoicing in their returned affection,
delighting in their wonder,
bleeding in the presence of their pain.
To be a mother is to be accused of sentimentality one moment,
And injustice the next.
To be the Receiver of endless demands,
Absorber of perpetual complaints,
Reckoner of bottomless needs.
To be a mother is to be an artist;
A keeper of memories past,
Weaver of stories untold,
Visionary of lives looming ahead.
To be a mother is to be the first voice listened to,
And the first disregarded;
To be a Mender of broken creations,
And Comforter of the distraught children
whose hands wrought them.
To be a mother is to be a Touchstone
and the Source,
Bestower of names,
Influencer of identities;
-atw, 9.28.17 (Allison Woodard)
5/13/19 5:15am EST
Okay. Back to real life. This is a tough transition, but I’m grateful I had the weekend to soften the blow. Last night, I went to bed super early. It wasn’t hard after preaching twice in two different cities, with familial responsibility in between and capped off by a grocery run. I was toast. But for some strange reason, around midnight, my brain just woke up. My eyes weren’t ready, but my mind just started working. I thought maybe it was close to 5, so I rolled over and pried my eyes open. And nope. Midnight. Ugh. I’m not sure how long it took me to convince my brain it was still sleep time and not analyze your entire life time, but eventually I got back to sleep.
In some ways I’m looking forward to dropping back in to routines. Yoga, tea, writing, beach walk. All good stuff for me. All helps me be and do the other things I want to be and do. Though, I do want to carve more time out in my schedule to write. Who knows if it will ever go anywhere, but I’m working on a book. It’s about finding God in unexpected places, especially in the messes. We shall see. Your will be done.
5/14/19 5:16am EST
A new and beautiful expression every time. Each day holds its own unique wonder. Wow.
So its mid May. The kids have about 13 days of school left, and then into the wildness of summer. A whole different animal. And I’m feeling unsettled. Very out of my routines and connection points. My listening practices. Being away for a week was a lovely and gracious gift I joyfully received. And reentry is difficult. In walking this really different path, one that tries to pay deep attention to creator, one that tries not to get ahead of itself, one that feels counter to my nature in a lot of ways, it is hard to drop back in to life and not have the handholds of productivity, and over scheduled, and plans of stone. A part of me desires the detailed calendars and organized closets that helped paint my illusions of control.
I had a dream last night that I was going to preach in a large traditional church, that was largely empty. My Dad was there, and running late which made me very anxious. Jeff was there, but was dropping me off to go do something else. And I realized, I didn’t have my words. I asked Jeff to go get them, and he decided to stop at a bar instead, but eventually reluctantly agreed. But of course there would be no time. The kids refused to go up for the children sermon, and continually walked on the pews. The people were gracious, which made it worse because I was so unprepared. And it was time for the sermon I had no words for. I hit my head on the pulpit. I made a joke. I invited them to a breathing exercise. And when there was no more stalling I could do, I was about to start ad libbing when my alarm went off. Perhaps that qualifies as a nightmare?
When I’m feeling nervous/scared/off kilter like this, for its not the first time and surely won’t be the last, I will sometimes get this visual image. I’m in water with only my arms and head visible. And I’m splashing around wildly in fear, certain I will drown. And then the image pans out a bit, and there’s God standing next to me. Telling me I’m fine, the water is actually shallow, and when I’m ready I can stand up. (Inhale, exhale).
Today I will prioritize my listening time so that I might hear the voice of truth telling me I’m not drowning. Or to stand up. Or throwing me a preserver. Or whatever way I will receive direction and assurance. God hasn’t gone anywhere, and could no more leave me than I could leave my little girls. Or even more accurately, could no more leave me than I could leave myself. (inhale, exhale)
5/15/19 5:18am EST
The beach was potent yesterday. Almost overwhelmingly so. The temperature was perfect, the sky was amazing…little holes in the clouds would let through these long beams of light, sometimes reflecting off the ocean…the water was so calm – a series of small waves gently rolling in and breaking politely on the shore. Really incredible. What a way to start the day.
My writing energy is elsewhere, and this venue is more become a record of days than of revelations. Though I did have a pretty intense impression of God on my walk yesterday. During a feeling of unsureness about next steps, I felt a clear sense of certainty around the next foot fall. Like the literal next step. My heard in my minds ear, “that’s the right next step, now that, now that,” echoing each time I made another three foot span of sandy journey. I interpreted this as, I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. That beach walk, that moment, that was it. And the rest would be just as clear in its own time.
5/16/19 5:17am EST
I don’t know if the beach strikes anyone else the way it does me, but I find it so incredibly beautiful each day. And different in its beauty each day too. While admiring the beauty of this place, my husband mused, “How can I be more grateful?” It didn’t occur to me in the moment, but I think the question is, “Why do you need to be?” Is it because the gratitude isn’t equal to the gift? If so, that’s not really the point I think. Our gratitude doesn’t somehow pay for the gift. Then it wouldn’t be a gift at all, it’d be a transaction. Perhaps the question then is “What do I do with this sense of abundance?” And that answer is clear to me, share it.
I participated in a social experiment game where we were divided into 3 teams. Each team was given a class: poor, middle class, and rich. There were various challenges, like if we wanted to go somewhere we had to pay a travel fee, so the poor folks (my team) mostly sat around trying to get creative about how to work the system (even sneaking outside the rules). But the really telling moment was lunch. The poor folks got some bread and peanut butter, the middle class got pizza, and the rich got a steak dinner with sides. The pizza ended up getting shared with the poor, but the rich decided they didn’t want the poor and middle class to be jealous of their good fortune and closed the doors of their area to try and hide what they had. They were “protecting” the poor from feeling worse about their fortune by hiding their own. It didn’t work. We felt excluded, and frustrated that they didn’t share. We were all the same after all, just our group got assigned a different team.
Obviously the game is very rich in metaphor. And I think points to a clear way we should engage our abundance. Not by hiding it, but by sharing it. The problem seems to be, we think we’ve earned what we have – whether its money or the beautiful place we live or whatever – and so we deserve it. This implies that someone who doesn’t have these things then doesn’t deserve it. How very short sited…”We were all the same after all, just our group got assigned a different team.”
5/17/19 5:21am EST
So much more to say about the experiment outline above. Especially after driving through Daytona Beach and seeing the poverty. And what we see is only a small piece of it. And also realizing how people hide from it…I said to Jeff yesterday, “Do you know why there are know homelessness services in Ormond?” And wisely he answered, “Because we don’t want to see them there.” It was a hard truth, but no less true for its difficulty. We can “close the doors” and pretend the problem doesn’t exist. But just because we hide from it down’t mean its not there.
And that doesn’t even begin to talk about the racial divide so prevalent here. There is an HBCU here in town that is rumored to be in danger of closing. The university backs up to an underserved neighborhood with a high percentage of people of color. If that university closes, I worry deeply for that neighborhood. Many of those folks go there or want to go there or work there or are otherwise in relationship with Bethune Cookman. It is a beacon of hope in a neighborhood that struggles with drugs and crime and poverty and the hamster wheel cycles of those things. It is a few miles and a whole world from where my family and I live cozy and comfortable as if all is well.
Noticing is one thing, knowing what to do is another. It also feels like the problems are too big, or that I don’t have the answers. And, I felt a bubbling up of “use your gifts.” Communication. Connection. Have the conversation. Little by little let answers reveal themselves. Who could you have a coffee with that knows some of these answers? Maybe just do that. It’s a step.
5/20/19 5:17am EST
What a full and rich weekend. Davin Youngs has been with us for the weekend, and what a gift he is. So very glad to know him. The vocal experiences of the weekend were powerful, but just conversation was such a gift. Last night, I took Davin over to the riverside to watch the sunset, then we wandered over to the beach and watched the moon rise. It was truly spectacular.
The moon rise really couldn’t be captured by our puny cell phone cameras, but it was beautiful. There was this one, tall cumulus looking cloud that was obstructing our view and so we waited and waited. Then we could just start to make out the outline of the large cloud as a bright orange light began to shine behind it. The profile lit up, and almost appeared to be a child of puffy white, orange tinged cotton balls. She appeared to be facing away from us and cradling something beautiful and bright we couldn’t quite see ourselves. And then the bright orange tip of a fantastic full moon picked just over the cloud girls arms and we began to see the wonder she had tried to keep all her own. We watched as Moon raised herself up out of the arms of the cloud girl and shared her glory with all of us, and it was magnificent. A deep and proud shade of orange, but electric in a way orange doesn’t know how to be on earth. Her craters, the bumps and bruises of a life long past, showed prominently on her bright orange surface, and she proudly displayed them…they are part of who she is. Her light, almost like a smile, pouring down over the ocean and being reflected back, almost as if she were sun and ocean were moon, happily sharing, reflecting and enjoying light.
*Deep Breath* Awe.
5/21/19 5:17am EST
I had some conversations recently around healing. Around pain and sickness. Around what our bodies are telling us through these experiences. I kinda think I’m terrible at listening to my body. I’m not aware I’m ignoring it or not connecting the dots. I don’t mean to. I’m just not very sensitive to that language. But I’m working on it.
I’ve been struggling with chronic lower back pain for several months now. Its not debilitating, but there are a number of things I can’t do easily…like bending over to grab something…without lighting bolts going through my back. And then theres the dull ache, hovering at the edge of my consciousness, threatening. As if someone with a knife is standing next to me, and if I make the wrong move I’ll be stabbed in my back. Don’t go fast, don’t get distracted, don’t bend or pull or lift. Get out of the car just right. Don’t stay on your feet too long. Don’t sit too long. Or else.
It’s exhausting to say the least. And frustrating because I can’t do all the things I want to do. I walk around in the pain/fear combo, and still want to be me. And scared/hurt/tired isn’t me.
I’ve been in chiropractic care for a few months. Finally had an MRI. There’s not a whole lot there. A bit of a buldge around some disks, some small tears. It didn’t seem like the doctors were impressed. Which makes me feel as if I’m weak or a complainer. Though my Chiro is a sweet heart and super supportive and never suggested anything like that.
So what are you trying to tell me back? What is it you need me to know through this pain? What is happening psychologically, socially, chemically, emotionally, physically, whatever that is resulting in this long stretch of discomfort? Please tell me! I almost can’t take it! What do you need?
I need more support. I need some give, some let go. I need some rest. Not just sometimes, all the time. You don’t have to push as hard as you do, its not you that will effect real change. You are the instrument, not the wind or the music.
What does that mean? I feel like I do rest. I can definitely work on my support systems. I’ll do that. I guess I’ll have to give some time and more thought and more conversation to the rest of the pieces.
5/22/19 5:15am EST
I learned something about engaging in disagreements…okay, I’m trying to make it sound nice. Fighting. Particularly with loved ones. Usually couples have the same fight over and over, just with a different incident or different details. Its because, in part, you come from two different familial cultures and are trying to merge them into one. Habits around cleanliness, maternal and paternal roles and expectations, how you handle finances, how children should be raised – all of these are great fodder for a fight because each of us has a way we think it should be done. And, if we could all calmly discuss them objectively, we would likely not have a whole lot of fighting going on, but these items are attached to our identity. And when our identity feels attacked we go into fight mode. As time goes by in a relationship, we teach each other what works in a fight. If you make this kind of threat, I respond in this way. If you cuss, I escalate. If you cry, I deescalate. etc. And so we enter the couples hamster wheel of fighting over the same things in the same ways with the same result…over, and over, and over.
But here are the new tools I’ve learned. 1. When one of our hot button topics comes up – kids and technology for example – and there is an urgency to end the conversation due to busyness or other responsibilities or work, whatever. I then name what is happening. “I understand that you are busy and I believe you that you are busy, but the reason you are telling me that now is to avoid talking about technology.” There may come back something, and I restate. 2. Also, I name my emotional state. “I’m not mad, but this is what’s going on, you are avoiding talking about technology and the kids.”
These tools allow me to name what’s “really going on” that I would normally react to without naming. And instead of dropping into habits of defensiveness and frustration and for me, often a self-righteous stance, I can now be a little less reactive and more communicative. Its disruptive to an unhelpful cycle. This is good, because we can go in a new direction without going back to old ammunition stores of every fight ever. And its challenging, because it is going to create some real discomfort in the short term.
After having used these tools and seeing how they allowed me to stay out of old habits dominated by anger, defensiveness, criticism, and general ugliness from a self-righteous perch, I think they are going to be really helpful. And I hope my spouse will use them too. I think it will help me become more aware of my own battle tactics and replace them with peace making.
5/23/19 5:14am EST
I started reading a book called “Healing Back Pain” by Dr. Sarno. I’m only a little ways into it, but it seems that he’s setting up the argument that in the majority cases back pain is not the result of purely physical injuries and anomalies. He instead says, that the primary causality belongs more with stress and tension filled lives. Now many doctors would probably say that stress and tension prevent healing, or play a role in things like weight gain and heart issues, but Dr. Sarno seems to be arguing that its much more than that. That our physical and psycho/social selves are much more integrated than is usually accepted. I would also argue our spiritual selves in there too.
I haven’t gotten to the part about what you do about, and the above is what I’ve taken from it versus what he’s actually said. But I think the next steps are around how we begin to discover what stresses and tensions are creating our pain and resolve them.
I’m curious to see what kind of adventure of discovery this takes me on.
Quick aside: Difference between mental/emotional self and spiritual self? Your spiritual self is your deep essence and identity. Your mental self can grow with knowledge and psychological encouragement and your emotional self goes through regular shifts that come and go. Spirit is the deeper.
5/24/19 5:20am EST
Saw these two scary fellas on the beach last night. Portuguese Man o War. Apparently there are certain seasons they lurk near our beaches, and if its windy (as it was last night) they blow up on to the beach. People are more afraid of them than is probably necessary, but I sure don’t want to meet one in the ocean.
In other news, I’m tired of feeling tired. I just get these waves of tired and want to spend a lot of time laying down. I blame my back quite a bit, but I’m also not sure that’s the whole story. In fact, i’m increasingly sure its not the whole story. So what’s going on in here?
I think we take it for granted that we know when we are carrying around anger or sadness or tension or whatever it is. But I’m becoming more aware of the way our mind “protects” us from some of these things that then manifest in the body. It can sound a bit hokey, but it also makes sense. Certain biological chemicals get released under certain conditions, and then can get stored up or trapped in particular areas of the body.
Where I’m not to yet, is what to do about it. I feel like I take pretty good care of myself…I yoga and walk the beach and journal almost daily. Diet could use a little work, but its not awful. Life is pretty damn good. So what’s going on in there body??
5/28/19 5:14am EST
Ugh. Two bad dreams last night.
In the first one, I was a child going to bed. Off to my right was a window. The curtains moved a bit and someone was trying to come through. I tried to scream, but it was this weird sleep/scream that wouldn’t come our loudly or clearly. The offender retreated. Slowly, I moved over to the window, and as I peaked through the gap in the curtain, I made eye contact with a man in a white mask with hideous pink circles on the cheeks. He hadn’t retreated entirely, just pulled back a bit. I run back from the window just as he starts to place large equipment on the sill and make his way in.
That’s where I woke up with a gasp. Awful. Only 11:30pm. Must go back to sleep.
The next one, we were getting ready for With All Your Strengths on Sunday. I was at the gym and folks were arriving, but no Melissa (gym owner, work out leader). More people are gathering, “o good, nice crowd.” Still no Melissa. 8 Minutes after we were supposed to start, she shows up and so do several more people. Phew. But wait, I realize I don’t have the words for the order of gathering this week. I don’t have any liturgy or sermon or anything. Fear sets in like a rock in my gut. I’m totally unprepared! More people gather and I try to figure out what I’m going to say, but the people are so distracted by their children. There’s no childcare either!
I’m tense and a bit nauseated thinking about it. It was a long weekend, which was fun, but I find often makes me a bit anxious about the week ahead. And this week in particular, I have a newsletter, 2 sermons, a 6 hour workshop, a chapter to finish, and I’d really love to work on my book too! No wonder it was a sweaty, nightmarish kind of night. Here’s to a productive day, Lord willing!
Speaking of fun weekend though…
5/29/19 5:24am EST
The sun is too bright and too hot to take pictures of it on my morning walk. So I took a picture of something that looked cool instead. Dew drops on spider webs…so delicate, miraculous in its own way…
I’ve mentioned before that I’m in Enneagram 1. (just suddenly had the feeling I was claiming that like an alcoholic might claim their alcoholism…like a confession.) In general, for me, that means I like structure and organization. I’m always trying to find the perfect system to keep things in a delicate balance – which implies I somehow control that, right? It means I need to feel like I’m doing my part, and a tendency to overestimate how large that part is…or at least how specific and particular and necessary it is.
But I’ve been on a different journey for a few months. This blog is part of it. That has a lot less organizers and to do lists. A lot less vision for 6 months out, and a lot more for right now. An effort to trust God and others more fully, and peel back my white-knuckled grasp one little finger at a time. Its hard work. And may be having some physical complications for me as well…I’m not sure.
All of it leaves me feeling a bit scared, out of control, lost even. See the paradigm I’d functioned under (and repeatedly burned out under) told me a story of displaying my competence and capability through taking on more and more and more. That I should jump in head first and give it everything I got. That I needed to be squared away, have a plan, be clear – and i need the people around me to be also. And this way is different. Its so not in control. Its feels like it leaves a lot open and vulnerable. It’s like standing in a circle where folks are supposed to share, and not going first but trusting that someone will. And that may not sound gut wrenching to everyone, but to this gal it makes me a little nauseated even now.
I continue to wrestle with can and should (just because you can doesn’t mean you should.) I continue to listen each day and ask God, am I doing okay? What’s the next step? Are you sure? I continue to trust that things are going to work out, and little by little I hope am releasing my anxiety and guilt and shame around whether I did enough to make it happen.
This journey…its going somewhere, I just barely have the sent of it…and I won’t be able to say I wo-manhandled it into existence either. Nor will it be just a floating along. But instead active and joyful and tuned in and a bit scary and without a clear set of steps and doing the next right thing and breathing deep and trusting. And if that doesn’t kill me, it will transform me…or maybe it will do both. Maybe it already has. Maybe it will even more.
5/31/19 5:22am EST
Last day of May. How did that happen? It’s getting wicked hot, cause Florida. And its the last day of the kids school year. The summer is sure to be a different rhythm, but I don’t know what it will be. I primarily get up so early to beat the rush, if ya get me. Kids get up around 6 or 630 in the school year, so I get up at 5 to have some centering time. In the summer, they start activities an hour later, but are still likely to get up early. So while I should have an extra hour in theory, there is absolutely no guarantee I’d still get an hour in if I got up later.
And my beloved beach walks. I’m missing them, ya know. It’s just so damn hot at 730 when I usually go. Already the sun has risen high and beats down relentlessly. It’s not fun. I don’t appreciate it. I’m just sweaty and really HOT!
Probably have to move things around. Get up around sunrise and walk then. Blog after the kids get shuffled off to activities. Something like that. Maybe. Or, also possible, a break. I was talking to my spiritual director yesterday about systems and organization, and how much I have like them. And then, how I get frustrated when they no longer fit and have to be adjusted. It’s like I feel that I’ve handled that, and shouldn’t have to mess with it again. But life is dynamic, and systems must be too. We don’t get to buy our kids a shoe and go, “cool, that’s taken care of for their lifetime.” Things that are growing, and I sure want to be, need changing systems.
But change is also disruptive. And I get this uncomfortable feeling in my belly that when I abandon a system its because I’m quitting. It’s because I’ve failed. It’s because I don’t have “stick-to-it-ness.” Yuck. I really don’t like that idea. So what does an intentionally dynamic system look like? Because I don’t have to abandon system all together (which is what I felt was happening/supposed to happen maybe), but I don’t have to worship system either.
More needed on this…