Thursday, November 21, 2013


I recently talked to a man that I respect about an issue I think a lot of people are dealing with- being overweight. This guy has struggled with his weight his whole life and finally, in his 50's, has lost a bunch of it. Loosing weight has been a game changer for his health, a complete turn around. As we talked about it, he detailed the shame that is attached to weight gain and eating. 

I've felt this shame and I haven't ever been told I am overweight for my height and size. My guess is that you have too. Feeling shame around your body isn't just something overweight folks feel.

Our culture created a home for shame when it comes to our bodies. If we can be ashamed of how we look and how we feel about eating then we will do whatever it takes to make that shame go away. Perhaps, we try expensive fad diets or buy gym passes. Maybe, we go shopping until we fill a little better about ourselves. Then there are expensive cosmetic surgeries and operations. However it plays out, usually shame wrapped around your body image ends up causing you to spend some money to solve the problem. 

I can't say that I think our culture is so corrupt that we created this phenomenon to make more money but sometimes I wonder about it. 

I don't have to explain that our models and movie stars do not represent normal human beings and truly should not even be the ideal for what a normal human should look like. With the money they have they can look however they want. I will always be proud of an interview that Madonna gave about her body. The interviewer asked what a normal person could do to have her look and she said they couldn't. She owned the fact that she has a nutritionist, personal assistant, personal trainer and a doctor who makes her look the way she does and no normal person could pay for what she has or spend the amount of time she invests in her body. Thanks for being honest!

Besides those rare glimpses into the facade that is our standard for "looking good" there is this other thing...our brains.

In my experience, maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy body comes down to how you think and the behaviors you choose. Remember, changing behaviors is one of the hardest things in the world but it can be done and done well if you commit to practicing the behavior you desire. It is never too late to be transformed.

When I was talking with my friend he verbalized two revelations that he had that week surrounding his weight and I think they are worth sharing with you.

1) It is OK to be hungry.
2) Choose a weight that is just at the max weight you are willing to be and don't ever go over it.

I was so dumbfounded by the simplicity of each statement mainly because he verbalised a couple ideas that I have unconsciously been practicing for a long time. 

First, what our three-meals-a-day culture says is not so much abundance based as it is fear based. "Clean your plate! There are starving children in the world!" Anything that makes you feel that you should keep eating when you are full is probably wrapped up in guilt. Guilt is not a good motivator, it will always get you into trouble.

Then you have the statements that are so casually made in our first world experience; "I'm hungry!" or "I'm starving!" when the truth is that none of us have any freaking clue what either of those statements really mean.

When I was 23 I hosted the Presbytery's 30 Hour Famine which was created for middle and high school youth. At the time, I as an utter purest and I thought if we were asking the youth to fast for 30 hours then there is no way that I am taking advantage of the "leader room" that had snacks and pizza in it even if I was in charge. We had over 200 kids on campus, keeping them busy learning about world hungry and water issues for that 30 hours. The youth could choose and were given the responsibility to maintain their fast. The options were a total fast where you ate or drank nothing, a water fast where you could only drink water, a juice fast where you would only drink grape juice, or a bread and water fast where you would only eat a little bread when you needed it and drink water, or a bread and juice fast. I let my kids choose but I encouraged them to challenge themselves. I chose a water fast. 

30 hours directing an event of this size and eating nothing was an incredible test of my physical strength. What was most surprising to me is that God provided just what I needed in the moment when I needed it the entire time so that I could make it the whole 30 hours. Right when I thought I had to given in and eat some bread something would encourage me to keep going and I did. For someone who had been told I have a sensitivity to not eating for a few hours this was a real eye opener. At hour 29 I was feeling so weak and nauseous that I actually had to leave a activity to go dry heave in the bathroom. I remember sitting there thinking about how bad I felt and then all the faces of the real starving children we were supporting came to mind. I felt like shit but I still had no idea what that meant.

We broke our fast with communion and I can tell you that was the best Christ's body and blood that I've ever put in my mouth. The famine was an incredible experience for me. It was the first time I realized that I could go without several meals in a row and still live. The crazy part was that I could still live very well.

In my own weight journey, I have always remembered this. When I have gained a few too many pounds and didn't get to eat dinner for some reason it is a lot easier to look at the clock flashing 9:30pm and decide that I will just wait until breakfast. It isn't worth sleeping on a full stomach. I know that I can make it through the night, no problem.

A couple years later, I wanted to test my body because the thought occurred to me that I might not need three meals a day especially if I wasn't working out. If I am sitting at my desk most of the time then why do I need to obsess over eating three meals a day when I am not hungry and not burning it off? It turns out that I probably am good with two meals a day with that life style. I'd usually go for a hearty breakfast and end with a veggie meal for dinner. That left me feeling satisfied and full each day. 

I think what my friend was getting at in his weight walk is genius. It is OK to be hungry. In fact, I would venture that we very rarely are hungry. My doctor once told me that 70% of the time when our stomach growls or we feel "hungry" we actually are thirsty and need to drink water. I think it is important to chug a bunch of H20 before deciding you need a snack. Hungry is a word we use a little too much now-a-days. 

As for number two, it works. I know for those of you that are struggling with serious weight problems this number system that I have is going to sound irrelevant but I have a theory that it can apply to anyone. 

Over the years of gaining weight and loosing weight, serious exercise and serious diets, I have come to know my body well. I have learned that when I exercise everyday for at least an hour and watch my food intake closely then I can maintain a weight of about 117lbs. However, that requires much more work and attention than I am willing to give as a 28 year old professional. I have learned that if I run every couple of days, don't eat seconds and stick to non-processed foods then I can maintain a weight of about 122lbs which is my favorite weight to be. If I don't run and I just watch what I eat then I can maintain about 125. If I don't give a crap about what I eat, when I eat or how I eat and don't exercise at all then I will hop to 130 in a blink of an eye. Usually, I will maintain at 130 for several months of eating poorly before my body begins to bulge to 133 and then 135. At 5'2 135 is the absolute most I can weight and still look good which is a tad bit of a stretch.

Watching my body like this and monitoring it's ups and downs, I've unconsciously (now consciously) realized that I keep 130 pounds as my guide for life. It is most definitely on the high end of my weight scale but I can maintain there for a while. Anytime I realize that I have gone over 130 pounds I usually kick start a diet of eating lots of grain and veggies while cutting out anything processed, cooling it on eating out, and usually I fast from alcohol for a few weeks. It is surprising how quickly your weight will drop off when you do that. 130 has become my hall monitor. Often, when I hit 130 I jump into a really healthy routine that usually bumps me back down to 125 or 122 if I am committed for a few months. It only takes a few weeks, maybe a month.

Talking to my friend about weight made me realize that finally, after years of feeling shame around my body that this little system has started to lift that weight off me. Giving myself small goals like staying under 130 or being OK with hunger from time to time, has helped me maintain a healthy body weight even in seasons of high stress. 

Those two points were brand new ideas to him and I believe they are going to change his life. It made me wonder how many people could be in the same boat. These little revelations might also be life changers for you too. I am not saying that I have it all figured out. I certainly do not have a red carpet body. I have my fair share of jiggles and cellulite but I can say that by getting to know my body, giving myself some grace, and following those two rules, I have not ever jumped out of an unhealthy weight range even at my most heavy moments. 

I know it to be true that guilt and shame are not healthy motivators and their fruits do not breed beauty and peace. Beauty and peace come within and they start with a little grace and practice. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we looked in the mirror and saw beauty and felt peace? I think it starts in our heads not our bellies.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


The rhythmic reverberations of the citar and water dropping drums have been the background noise of this month. My mom is training to become a holy yoga instructor for children and in doing so has been resourced with some amazing music. Aradhna is by far one of my new favorite groups. The harmonies and subtle joy that builds in each song pours into you. Folks who come over when I am playing it immediately start to relax and some who are really in tune will ask "What are they saying?"

Those few know these are worship songs. Aradhna takes lots of ancient poetry glorifying God and puts it to pulsating music. The Sanskrit poems are praising the creator of the cosmos and even though I don't speak the language, my soul dances inside at the sound of my creators name. I love moments like that where you just know in your spirit that something is good, Old Testament good. 

Yesterday, my mom sent me this video of Adradhna. They are playing a song that they will eventually sing in English. It is the Lord's Prayer. Their music is a blessing. This blessing is one I would like to share with you. I hope you refuel as I have with this amazing group. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rain means Change

I hope everyone has had the chance to take a "Film as Literature" course somewhere along the line in their educational journey. I happened to take it when I was a senior in high school. That class was one of my favorites for a couple of reasons. First, I love movies. Second, I love signs and symbolism.
 Throughout the course we watched a variety of films like "Wizard of Oz", "Cider House Rules", and "Castaway". What made the class so interesting  was the fact that we were learning literary symbolism as we experienced the films. All the shots, angles, colors, sounds, lightening, costumes were entirely intentional or at least that is what Mrs. Lindenburger wanted us to think. We all joked that it was impossible to watch a movie anymore because the meaning was too overwhelming once you knew all the symbolism. Sometimes we would have moments of doubt as are pages would fill with observed symbols while we watched a movie. That nagging thought would creep up saying "There is not way any screen writer or director took the time to make all of these symbols on purpose."

Whether it was intentional or not, the symbolism was there in every single movie I saw that year and every year after. This symbolism is exactly the stuff that Carl Jung was talking about. As human beings we all carry this awareness of the collective unconscious that guides us constantly through the daily symbolism of our lives. Strangely, even when we can't articulate it because of age, awareness or language barriers, we all unconscoiusly know the symbols that dictate truths in our journeys.

These symbols even relate to Asian medicines as people choose colors unconsciously that channel energy from certain chakras in the body. If you watch closely in a movie you will see the honest Alice in Wonderland wearing a blue dress to symbolize the truth she holds in her voice. Meanwhile, blue is the color of the throat chakra. Then you might notice that a fem fatal character throws on a red dress and suddenly you know she is about to use her sex appeal anyway she needs to. I've been fascinated by the unconscious color choices our our days. Just observe them because it happens in real time too.

This all brings me to the symbolism of weather. In film, everything is connected. We accept that so easily in movies. I really believe people love movies because they can emulate the world as we wish it was. Well, guess what, I think everything in real time is connected too, even the weather.

In film when the weather changes it means that something in the story is about to change. For example, I was watching "Cold Mountian" all caught up in the anticipation of the lovers FINALLY having time together and then Jude Law starts riding out in the snow. I knew as soon as I saw the snow that he was going to die. Snow in film means death. So prepare yourself next time you enjoy a wintery film there will be a death of somesort featured. 

This brings me to the topic of today- Rain. 

Rain means change. Plain and simple. Anytime it rained the plot was about to shift, a kid was going to grow up, an experienced was going to transform. Rain is change. 

Sitting in class my classmates and I would chuckle when those drops would start falling and we'd whisper "oh, rain means change." This started to trickle into my daily life as I'd walk down the street and notice some gray clouds building up in the distance. Like I said, everything is connected and I would wonder what was changing in my life.

Last month, I woke up exhausted in a stupor of worry and fear of the unknown. Spending more time avoiding my daily practices than practicing them, I sat out on my porch and just looked at the sky. All I could think of was that I needed it to rain. I needed to be washed clean. I needed change. The funny thing was that right after making that silentplea to the heavens I came inside and pulled an animal medicine card- Frog

38 - Frog: Cleansing
Frog sings the songs that bring the rain and make the road dirt more bearable.
Frog medicine is akin to water energy, and the South on the medicine wheel. Frog
teaches us to honor our tears, for they cleanse the soul. All water rites belong to Frog,
including all initiations by water.
Water prepares and cleanses the body for sacred ceremony. It is the element we
understand best in the womb. Frog, like ourselves, is a pollywog in the fetal waters, and
only learns to hop after it experiences the world of fluidity.
The transformation into adulthood prepares Frog for its power to call in the waters
of the skies: the rain. In knowing the element of water, Frog can sing the song that calls
the rain to Earth. When the ponds are dry, Frog calls upon the Thunder Beings to cleanse
and replenish the Earth with water. Like Frog, we are asked to know when it is time to
refresh, purify, and refill the coffers of the soul.
If Frog hopped into your cards you chose today, its "ribet" may be calling in the
cleansing you need. If you were to look at where you are today, would you use and of the
following words to describe your condition: tired, overloaded, harried, frustrated, guilty,
itchy, nervous, at a loss, empty, or weakened

 There is no one who can tell me that all of this isn't connected. It rained about 30 minutes later. 

Saturday, Joel and I recieved a couple of emails that lead us to believe that more change is coming in our lives. There have been some substaintile shifts in our jobs, home life, churches and families. Saturday it rained all day. Joel smiled at me and said "Rain means change."


Sunday, November 17, 2013

The best artist in the cosmos!

It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe when you see something like this your mind is just blown. Blown!

I hate to even admit it but when I saw these photos my gut reaction was simply "this is not real" but the longer I looked the more awestruck I became.

When I see the perfection, pattern and detail of each of these snowflakes I just shake my head in awesome wonder as I realize that we have a creator who does this each time it snows. Each flake is so different and they are all equally amazing. The intentionality and precession in each one is stunning to me.

Looking closely at one tiny snow flake has given me so much hope for this world. If that much intentionality went into one little piece of frozen water, imagine what I can become. Thank you, God. Click here to see snowflakes

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Discovering the amazing PBS remixes of my favorite childhood TV programs has been a delightful treat this week. Something about these voices- Lamar, Bob, Mr. Rogers takes me back to a place of comfort and innocence. Ah, childhood, so safe and certain. Hearing these remixes help me realize some of the messages that I've lived into all my life. Imagination, Travel, Believe in yourself, express yourself, you can become anything and the list goes on. What a difference it makes. Even as an adult when I hear these guys telling me to believe in myself...I do. Thanks PBS for rooting my inner child in self-worth.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Eyes Wide Open

On my high school graduation invitations there was a quote from Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell."

There is so much world, so much adventure, so much color, sights and sounds that every part of my being wants to experience. How can I be fully present in the gift of life that I have here in Charlotte and live fully engrossed in the experience of traveling the world?

When I see posts like this it is really hard to stay present to the moment I am in right now. My soul starts flying...

Sea of Stars on Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bob Ross

If this man didn't make you happy then, perhaps this remix will remind you why his legacy still contributes to joy today. If this doesn't inspire you to smile, man, I don't know what will. I love Bob Ross.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another tiny dot

Here is a visual representation of the tiny dot that Carl Sagan describes.
"to live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die."- Carl Sagan

Thursday, November 7, 2013


You know that old saying… Ignorance is bliss? Never understood it. I mean theoretically I get the concept, but it never made sense to me how people could really think this was bliss. The dictionary defines bliss as “perfect happiness.” Maybe it is because my parents have always put a strong emphasis on education, but I just cannot fathom how perfect happiness could ever equate to being uninformed and/or misinformed. I prefer my bliss to be deeply immersed in knowing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I know everything about anything. But what I’m trying to get at is that bliss-to me, at least-can be found in the quest for knowledge. And this knowledge is not limited to formal education. In fact, I believe that some of the most blissful times are when you are searching for knowledge of self rather than knowledge of scholars. To me, bliss is finding new adventures to embark on, but also falling back in love with the familiar. Bliss is diving head first into a new book and also reading one of your favorites so many times that you can nearly recite the entire thing.

My Granny has always told me growing up “Ya learn something new every day.” THIS is bliss. Perfect happiness can be achieved by learning. And you thought school was useless… ;)

But learning isn’t the only way to bliss. Although it is true that it usually sparks some blissful situations, learning is only half the battle. Appreciation is another puzzle piece. After all, you can embark on a new adventure, but get so caught up over planning and making sure you stay on schedule that you forget to do what you went there to do… Enjoy it! Or you can delve into a new and exciting novel, but have so much white noise occurring in your mind that you can’t even concentrate enough to let it bring you happiness. With knowledge, there must be an appreciation for that knowledge in order to be blissful.

So what’s bliss to me? I’ll tell you. My husband and I had been wanting to check out this place in our city that was on the show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” on The Food Network. The episode featured what looked like the best fish tacos we had ever seen and we love trying new places… especially little hole-in-the-walls. So one day when Delano was off and I was done with class, we finally went, after months and months of talking about it. You would think we were anticipating the best seats in the dining room of a five-star restaurant with the Queen of England as our host, as excited as we were. It is almost completely the opposite. It is a little shack on a busy street in Tampa. Everything is to go, but they have tables and chairs set up outside if you want to hang out. There is fake grass on the sidewalk in front of the window where you order and an enthusiastic man hanging out of said window ready to help you make your decision on which tasty treat you want from the menu. The d├ęcor is old and worn, desperately in need of an update. There is an eclectic, but chill mix-tape of music playing featuring the likes of Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley. The baby fell asleep on the way and since we were five feet away from the car, we decided to let him sleep while we hung out and enjoyed our dinner. The fish tacos were $3.49 a piece, but they were the most delicious ones that I’ve ever had in my entire life. Fresh, local grouper fried to order, with fresh cabbage, tomato, cheese, sour cream all on a tortilla that was still warm. 
In my eyes, that moment in time was pure bliss! It was me and my husband having a moment to ourselves, which since Kai has been born have been few and far between. It was us exploring something new together, savoring every single bite, hanging onto every word that the other person was saying. It was a time for him to reminisce about his Jamaican roots because our food had some similar flavors and the breeze was perfectly Caribbean that day, all tied up with the tunes playing over the out-of-date speaker system. It would seem to others to be such an ordinary moment. Isn’t it funny how circumstances and perception can define one’s experience? Ordinary to some, but absolute BLISS for us! It makes me wonder… are there other seemingly ordinary moments that I could be finding more bliss in? What about you? What are some of your most blissful moments? Do they stem from knowing, appreciation, and presence too, or do you have a different experience? Have a blissful week, everyone!



Saturday, November 2, 2013

How the Church is not church.

When I say the word "Church" what immediately pops into your mind?

Something like this:

Or maybe something like this:

 Or perhaps, something like this:

According to Websters you are not too far off. Church is:

"A building for public, especially Christian, worship."

In our dictionary and in the life of our culture, the church is a place where people meet. It is a building where people worship God. It is those walls, stones, pews, and golden crosses that make this building a sacred place to the point that when I say "Church" you think about a building.

However, I don't know how many of you have read the Bible recently (which is after all, where we even got the idea for churches) but Jesus doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to the buildings that we worship in.

There was that time he threw the tables across the temple when folks were selling things inside the holy space. He also talks about the temple being destroyed at the end of time. He makes sure you know that everything of this world will be destroyed except his words which will always live on. Even when Jesus sends his disciples out during the Great Commission he still doesn't give them any instructions about building places of worship or how to use that space. The Apostle Paul maintains that our bodies are the temple of God.So where does this leave us as church-going, building-loving, supposed Jesus followers?

If the word "Christian" is literally birthed from the name "Christ" then we are obviously saying that we follow the words of Jesus Christ written down in this Bible, right? Isn't this what the church maintains is the foundation of those walls and spires, Jesus' own words?

How have we gotten so far off course?

Our churches have too long been fighting over wood, steel, stone and brick. Too long have pews, stained glass windows, gold crosses, lecterns and hymnals been sources of contention that break communities and congregations. 

Since when did Jesus say one lick about what sorts of chairs we have to sit in to worship him? When did he recommend that only certain types of flowers or candles be placed in the sanctuary? Did he ever specify if he appreciated scripture being projected on screens?

He just didn't, guys. He didn't. 

As soon as you put the Church in a building then you have created a country club. The early church collected offering to serve the poor and keep the widows and children out of destitution while meeting in people's homes or wherever it was safe to gather for a few hours. How many of our churches today take up offering to maintain the space we meet in? Of course these same churches give to the poor and use their space for the betterment of the community, but how often do those churches bend to the demands of their members? How often do members site the amounts of money they have given over the years, the gifts that have brought great things to the building, the powerful voice they SHOULD have because they are third generation supporters of this place? The entitlement that is given authority as soon as you construct a wall around a Church is what makes a church just another club for members only.

The Church that Jesus talked about was not a building and it will never, ever, ever be a building, the Church is a living breathing organism. It is you. It is me. It is in me and in you. It is highly protable. We are the church.

Remember this?

We don't even teach it right to the kiddos. The Church is all those fingers, it is the people! It is us! It is really dangerous to believe that the Church is an inanimate building. That space is empty and meaningless without the lives that inhabit it. 

When we gather as the Church and choose to passionately fight for items in our building over living, breathing temples of God's own soul, then we are no longer the Christians that we claim to be. We actually are not the Church at all.

That building can get torn down, that curtain can rip, that window can break but the Church will never die as long as we know that it resides in the people. This is what Jesus said. This is what I believe. I am the Church and my Church is always with me. This is the Church that attracts people. This is the church that fuels, heals, teaches and loves. The Church we should fight for is alive right now and it looks something like this:

Or this:

Or perhaps this:

Or maybe this: