Saturday, May 28, 2016

My, My

Strolling through my favorite Labyrinth (Avondale) with the interns from CROSS Missions for leadership demo, I became distracted like I often do now. On the other side of the sacred space, I could hear my daughter cooing with a friend who had volunteered to hold her while I lead this walk. They were seated by a fountain and Noelle was entranced with the splashing water. My thoughts wandered from the physical and spiritual walk of the Labyrinth to a simple phrase, "that is my baby." 

This phrase stopped me in my tracks. It was only a few months ago that I was explaining to visitors that I felt like she was God's baby and I was her babysitter. There was just NO WAY this incredible little being came into this world because of anything I did. She was too amazing, too wonderful to be mine. She could only be God's miraculous creation. (It still seems right to think of her this way)

I stood there wondering when Noelle became MY child?  I started thinking about all the things and people that I call mine. My husband. My house. My car. My artwork. My garden. My family. My friends.  The list went on and on. Then I stopped on a phrase I have used all the time when I am referring to any of the youth I worked with during my time as a youth pastor- "My kids". I have youth who are graduating college this year who I still refer to as "my kids". 

When I literally say "my kids" my heart pangs and the faces of all my youth flash across my  mind.  I don't use the word "my" in these cases to claim anyone or anything. I am not trying to possess anyone. "My" connects directly to my heart. I love "my kids", all of them. 

I have invested time, energy, creativity, hopes and dreams into each of them because I love them. It is still a great joy for me to get to experience them growing into amazing adults. 

Isn't this how God must think of us? Can a creator ever create without putting a piece of themselves into their handiwork? I think that is impossible.God calls me his own. That possessive word lays claim over me, pointing to the one who made me and loves me. It is an arrow directing me always back to where I came from and where I am whole- the Source. 

As I call Noelle "my baby" more and more, I say it because I have fallen in love with her. I know that this love has come directly from the One who created it all, even the "my". 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Doodle by Claire Tomkinson
Spending time with my Aunt is a precious part of my life. She is a joy to be around and we share many laughs, loads of creativity, and basically, we solve all the world’s problems every time we get together. She has given me more than I could ever thank her for.

This week she gave me a new phrase that I believe is an important one to share. We were discussing boundaries and saying, “No” more often. We both have decided that we no longer want to make decisions based on what we think would make other people happier. We both are trying to practice the balance of No and Yes, and only doing things that we authentically want to do.

My Aunt finished our conversation by saying, “No is a complete sentence.”

And she is right. Saying “No” is not mean. It is not a bad thing. It isn’t going to hurt other people. “No” is simply the answer to a question. It doesn’t need to be explained because it is. Just like, Yes, is. We never question “Yes”, do we? But often, we question “No” and anchor so many emotions and fears to that word.

It is a word that is also an answer and it just means, No. And “No” is just the answer right now. It doesn’t mean it will always be the answer.

When you say, “No” to something then you are saying, “Yes” to something else like self-care.  Saying "No" can actually be a form of showing love to yourself or someone else. “No” is not personal. It is not offensive. It is just No and it is a complete sentence. Now, I just have to practice using it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How did you find Waked Up?

I have been watching my statistics and I have become aware that I have readers from all over the world. It still is an amazing reality to me that our world is so small and wonderful that I can write about something in Charlotte, North Carolina and you can read it in let’s say… Russia.

In fact, Russians seem to be among some of my most faithful readers.  Thanks, guys! 

When I see all the countries on the map that are home to Waked Up readers, I find myself trying to imagine what brought you to my blog. Was it a word? A topic? A person’s suggestion?

Finally, my curiosity has gotten the best of me, I would love to know- How did you find Waked Up?

It would bring me so much joy to hear from you and to learn a little bit more about the folks who read what I have to write. If you are interested in sharing with me, please feel free to answer this question in the comments spaces below.

Thank you, again and again, for your faithful readership!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What am I doing with my life?

I heard once that the truest form of who you are is conceived when you are around 7 years old. The things you love, the way you spend your time, and your dreams for your life are actually the clearest arrows pointing you to what will make you experience lasting joy.

I know I am not that old, but I have spent more years of my life ignoring my inner 7-year-old than listening to her. It wasn’t until last year that I began to hear her whispers and found myself leaning in to hear what she had to say.

When I was 7 I wanted to become an artist. I wanted to live on a farm, I wanted to be outside, and I wanted to influence people to do things that made them happier. It was so simple.

I have taken a lot of round-about paths to get here, but now I am starting to see that the Creator was always guiding me to the place where I was made to thrive. I chose 9 years ago to allow God to dictate my path and I am closer than ever to living the way my inner child dreamed of.

I have recently started my own business called, “Waked Up Studio”. Waked Up started here with this blog, as a space created for me to share practices that have changed my life for the better. As the years have passed, it became obvious that Waked Up was going to become more than just a blog spot.

Waked Up Studio is Waked Up Blog come to life. I know that I am called to teach and lead in person. I am creating classes, workshops and retreats to share these life practices in real time and in the physical community. I am developing curriculum and devotions, meditations and contemplations, and teaching faith practices from around the world to help make space for physical gestures that will bring about spiritual growth that can be shared in person and in a community. I am contracting myself to small groups, churches, schools and private groups to continue to effectively share these transformational gifts.

Waked Up Studio is also a space where I can meet with people one-on-one and practice Spiritual Direction. Spiritual Direction allows me to labor alongside a fellow seeker as they discover the ways that the Sacred is being revealed in their own lives. This is a space of holy listening, present contemplation, and mindful awareness, listening to the true Spirit’s presence in the moment. I am available to meet with directees and see folks in my own home or at various quiet and comfortable locations in town.

Waked Up Studio allows me to create and sell my artwork. My daily prayer practice is painting and creating art and this is the foundation that holds this business together. In order for me to teach, share and lead, I must be diligent about spending time with the Creator. This is something I do from my art table. Each painting I paint is a prayer, a meditation and an intention for the world, an idea or a person. I am creating all the time, for me, for friends, for people I don’t even know yet. I am also taking commissions for people and I pray for them or their loved ones as I paint. Each painting I create will have the prayer or intention written in a colorful envelope on the back, marrying image and intention.

For the moment, Waked Up Studio is being operated out of my home. I am being hired to come into schools, churches and homes to lead and teach. I am taking commissions and mailing them or delivering them as they are completed from my art table in our living room. Joyfully, the future is already calling. We have inherited my grandparents’ home which has an extra living room that is the perfect size for a classroom studio where I can teach and paint. It even has an outside entrance so that my workshops won’t disturb life in the rest of my house. This home is on several acres of land with woods and fields, a creek and a barn. We can have small livestock, a huge garden, and I have visions of building a Labyrinth and community gathering spaces as time goes on so that I can host a variety of workshops and topics.

Eventually, I would love to be able to host my own workshops and retreats right out of my studio and retreat rental spaces in NC. My hope is that folks would enjoy and benefit from what I can share so much that they would like to come to me. Then in time, I would like to start and run a Spiritual Retreat Center.

More immediately, I would like to start developing online workshops and tutorials that can be downloaded and watched as videos. I would love to have folks sign up for weekly classes and be able to share and teach people all over the world at the same time.
I have a lot of hope and my dreams are big. For now, I am taking one step at a time and living the way most small business owners do when they begin- in Faith.

I want you to know what I am dreaming and working towards because I could not have done this without your support and encouragement. And truly, I cannot move forward without your support and encouragement either. Thank you a million times over for all the ways that YOU, Waked Up readers, have inspired me. You have been a great breeze under my wings as I have finally had the courage to stretch them out and soar.

I have a long ways to go, but I go there dancing. Thank you for believing in me and continuing to journey with me as Waked Up Studio continues to evolve and grow. 


Friends, Waked Up is 910 views away from 50,000!

I want to celebrate this achievement by celebrating the people who have made it possible- you guys!

Thank you so much for your faithful readership. Thank you for your comments, encouragement and guest writings. You all have inspired and encouraged me to make the leaps necessary to create Waked Up Studio and bring this blog space to life! The journey of living is one that we take together and it is in this community that the Spirit transforms our lives. I know none of this could happen without you and I am deeply grateful. 

To celebrate 50,000 views, I am offering a choice of one of my brand new pieces of art to be given away in a drawing. You will be entered in the raffle by subscribing to my website and "following" Waked Up Blog. I will draw the winner's name on June 1. 

The winner can choose from these four pieces:

Thank you for your support and love! I hope to share more special offers, gifts, and posts in the future. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Why "Waked Up?"

Folks have been asking me lately where I got the name “Waked Up Studio” for my new business. The name goes back to 2013 when I decided I would start this blog. I wanted to create a space where I could share transformational life and spiritual practices that have made my life better. It seemed like a waste to me to keep all these transformational tools to myself! There are so many practices that I have been exposed to in the last 9 years that really have brought so much growth and healing to my life. I long to tell the story and hope that others will be touched and inspired as I have been.

Thinking about the words “Spirituality, Awakenings, Transformation, and Joy” brought me, with really no question, to the phrase “Waked Up”.

Both of my grandparents used this phrase regularly when they described moments from their days and nights that brought them new awareness. Often the phrase was used to tell a narrative about something truly amazing that happened to one of them. I remember once that my grandfather told me he was “Waked up in the night and saw and angel hovering over my sleeping grandmother”. It was stories like that which made the phrase so magical and wonderful to me.

“Waked Up” is also a familiar and comforting part of my childhood. Both my grandparents were born and raised in the South and this very Southern way of talking about being woken up is just one of many “isms” that lull me into the warm memories that blanket me from childhood. Our Southern way of speaking is more than a drawl, it is a way of talking about things that a lot of folks wouldn’t totally understand unless they have spent some time in the South, particularly around our older people. I adore the way my grandparents saw the world and talked about it. This phrase commemorates just one of many “isms” that make my heart sing with love for them and the place where I was born and raised.

For me, the phrase “Waked Up” is a way of living. It implies present-mindedness, intention, and awareness. In two words it describes a way of being that is alive, open and right now. In scripture, in the story where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead he describes Lazarus’s death as “sleeping”. He says that he needs to go and wake him up. I believe there was a time when I was spiritually sleeping too. The Creator has brought me back to life and awakened me to visions of His self-revelation in the world.

I believe being spiritually awake is the key to joy. For me, Waked Up was the obvious choice for the name that would represent everything that I hope to share with people and the world. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Growing Horizontally

In an attempt to retreat from the wild nature of our everyday existence and to celebrate our 6 year wedding anniversary, Joel and I ventured, with Noelle, to my favorite place in the world- our family cabin.

Napping, eating, sipping all manner of drinks on the porch seemed to revitalize our weary souls until we felt our feet grow restless once more. So, we wandered down the hill to the base of our property where a spring-fed pond trickled into Brush Creek below.

My mom warned us that beavers had come to Cedar Rood and were destroying many of her favorite trees. We could not tell what they were planning to create but every new visitor had the chore of unblocking the stream from the pond that fed into the river due to their persistent efforts.  

Wandering towards this part of the land, we noticed the two large trees that the beavers had been chewing. One had been eaten totally through until it fell to the woodland floor, and the other was only being held up by a small portion of its truck. The fallen tree plummeted to the ground before Thanksgiving and had blocked our path to the pond. At some point, my mom moved it off the path so that it was out of the way and could become a home to some critter who took a liking to it.

To our surprise, as we checked out these two beaver victims, we realized that the fallen birch was still alive. Glancing over its stump, scraped and cut with large teeth marks, we saw that there was a small, splintered piece of trunk still attached to the stump. The piece could only have been about one-inch-thick which seemed an unlikely source of support for this 30-foot beauty.

But, Lo! The entire tree was living and every single branch was sporting bright, budding leaves.

Joel and I marveled at this sight and felt our hearts grow encouraged.
Perhaps, this is how life is. We just expect that because it is a tree that it will only thrive when it is growing vertically. But here, this Birch was growing horizontally. It was still living, still beautiful and still a tree.

Our lives have felt a little chewed and raw lately. In the midst of the mad rush it was a wonderful reminder from the ol’ Earth-Mother that sometimes if we don’t push against it, we can grow in unexpected directions. Just because life says we are chopped down, doesn’t mean we are dead. And not only could we still live this way, we can choose to thrive.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Eat your Prayers

During my years as a youth minister, I once knew a boy who would change how I view preparing and eating food for the rest of my life. This boy explored the traditions of many faiths practices from Rasta to Native American Rites of Passage. He was extremely well versed for someone so young but yet, he spoke like an age-old soul. During one of his spiritual dabbling’s, he told me he was learning more about food.

He said he stumbled upon a belief system that spoke of pouring your own energy into the food you create. Your energy is something you spread around, whether intentionally or not, so it is best to be totally aware of what you are manifesting because you will surely experience it coming to life. He said that when he prepares food now, he makes sure he is pouring out energy with good intentions. He prays love and growth, community and healing into the food that he makes.

He recounted one meal with his family that he spent time preparing. As it is his practice, he meditated on pouring good energy into the meal he was making. When his family sat down to eat it, he said he watched as the days struggles began to melt away and their faces became light. The conversation turned to laughter and there seemed to be a cloud of delight holding them in the moment. What would normally have been a mad dash to eat as much as possible before returning to their work became a long meal, lingering, full of warmth and good conversation. He attributed this all to the love he poured into the food that he made.

Of course, you can take this even further, especially if you are the gardener who maintains the foods that you will eventually eat.

Remembering this conversation, I offered a class on allowing the mundane and normal spaces of your day to become intentional encounters with God. In other words, all the normal gestures of your day are actually prayers. In this class, I took the time to pray into a recipe I created for chocolate-chip scones and I shared them with the attendees. I asked everyone to eat very slowly and truly savor the scone. Taste all the flavors. Feel the texture of it in your mouth. Allow your mind to open and your heart to wander to places and memories that began to bubble up. This is how I have experienced the Holy Spirit sharing truth with me, in the bubbling of memories, songs, verses and thoughts from within. I told them that eating the scone would be our closing prayer.

To my surprise, we ran over time. It took each of us over ten minutes to eat those scones. I looked around the room and saw eyes closed, slow moving mouths and occasional smiles stretch across those faces. It was like a scene from Chocolat where the pace of the meal begins to crawl and conversation vanish, in the midst of the delicious foods being neatly plopped into the participants mouths. A strange and wonderful joy comes from truly taking the time to savor your meal and all the moments that come from that savoring.

I found that my own thoughts began to wander to meals with my grandparents. In the debriefing, I was shocked that a class member was having similar memories. In discussing it, we both realized that it was not the scones that brought back these memories but the pace of our eating.

I don’t have a single recollection of rushed meal with my grandparents. Eating together was set aside, sacred time for savoring both the food and people you ate with. My grandmother would spend countless hours preparing meals with great love and we would become nourished with something so much more than nutrients and flavors.

Most of us don’t even taste the food we eat, really taste it. We all have to prepare food and eat every single day but this often feels more like a chore than a gift.

What if we all set the intention to spend time preparing food as prayer. That every ingredient you add is a prayer for someone you love or a word of affirmation. What if, while you sauté your vegetables, you imagine a golden energy of love pouring over each piece and coating the food before you like the butter? What if, while you ate you slowed down. You chewed with purpose and felt the foods moving around your mouth. What if you tasted the flavors and allowed memories to bubble up that take you to new levels of understanding and wisdom?

I believe that if we spent just a few moments making our daily need for meal prep and eating something intentional and prayerful, that our lives would transform immediately for the better. The truth is, our lives would not just spiritually transform. It has been shown that when people take the time to live into this prayer practice their bodies actually absorb more nutrients than people who don’t. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When you slow down, you decrease stress and when you decrease stress your body can operate at an optimum level.

However you view your eating habits, I am sure there is room for improvement. What if three times a day you prepared prayers and ate meditations? 

Friday, May 20, 2016

5 Minutes

Artwork by Claire Tomkinson

I remember when Joel was still in college, he once told me of an experience he had during exam week. He told me that he had said, “yes” to too much and still had a final paper to write for one of his classes. It was 1am and he was still agonizing over this paper that was coming together much too slowly for its deadline the same morning (just a few hours later). He was beginning to feel stressed and overwhelmed when he saw his Bible on the corner of his desk. He grabbed it, opened it randomly and began to read. He said the words were comforting to him and he spent about 5 minutes reading. Even as he read, he recalled thinking he should get back to writing his paper, but he couldn’t pull himself out of the Word.

When he finished the passage he closed his Bible and returned to writing his paper. But this time, it was a different experience. Suddenly, the words began to flow and he began to type in a flurry. It all came together and within an hour his paper was printed and he was climbing into bed.

Joel might not remember this story he told me, but I have never forgotten it. For me, it was a little nugget of an experience that revealed a great truth.

I have always believed that when we make time for God, we will be blessed for it. That just a few moments intentionally dedicated to connecting to the Source of all Life seems to create what you need most. Maybe it is patience or peace. Maybe it is wisdom and understanding. Somehow, as I have remembered Joel’s experience, I have found that God blesses even my most feeble attempts at being with Him. And even more astounding than that…when I have had the discipline to make time for God when my time is what seems scarcest, it never fails that what I find in return is more time. I can’t even begin to explain how this happens.

The point is, create some time for God. It is something you will never regret doing and it is something that doesn’t take hours or even extended minutes in your day. Joel’s story reminds me that even 5 minutes in the wee hours of the morning during exam week can change the outcome of your night.

God blesses our feeble attempts. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

If my Body were God

Photo by Matt Frizzle

A medical intuitive once told me that she believes the Divine is living in every single atom in the universe. That God is living in all of the cells in your body.

This blew my mind away.

All my life, I have imagined my body as a human suit that my soul had to wear during my time on planet Earth. There was the possibility, that as they told me in Sunday School, God lives in this suit with me.

If I were to accept that God, the creator of the universe, has put a piece of Himself in all of his creations, then I was going to have to look and live in my body differently.
When I fuel this body, I would have to think of the fuel as something worthy to give to God. When I look in the mirror at this body, I could not stand there and critique it with phrases of “not good enough”. When I exercised, it would be to honor the Creator in this body with good care and great love.

I could never look at myself and think ill thoughts about my appearance because each thought would suddenly become a prayer, a literal response to the Divine. I would never tell God in that she was not enough, not pretty, too fat. I would stand before God in awe and honor her with all I am.

If I took on the belief that God is living in all my cells, then I would have to also believe that when I prayed, I could look within. I could no longer imagine myself talking on my holy God-phone and hanging up and walking away when the conversation had come to a close. I would have to accept and live into the fact that I would ALWAYS be in conversation with God because She is me and I am Him. We would be entangled and graphed to one another. I could do, think or become nothing away from Him...Her.

If I were to accept this belief then, suddenly, everything Jesus said would make sense. Paul’s words declaring my body as a temple for God would ring true. David’s Psalms would truly be prayerful responses to the Divine within and I would have to change my life forever.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

For the Hopeless

It still leaves me baffled that the world does not stop when someone you love dies.

When my Dad passed away, I remember pulling my hand out of the grip of his yellow palm and rushing out of my house. I didn’t think about where I was going but intuitively felt drawn across the street to our church where he had served as Pastor. Flopping down on the front steps of the Sanctuary building I wailed. I felt like I had died, like everything inside me was being ripped out of my chest at once. As far as I was concerned, the world had ended.

I sat there weeping until I realized that my sister had also stepped out of our house and was sitting on the front stoop in plain sight. I was sure she could hear me, so I attempted to pull myself together. I wiped my eyes and took a couple deep breaths, feeling a little embarrassed.

Looking around me to be sure that no one else had overheard the sounds of my weary anguish, I became aware that the morning that had engulfed me was perfection. It was late May and everything was in bloom. The trees were tall and glorious. The sun was just coming up streaming warm, golden light between the leaves above me. I could smell the scent of honeysuckle in the air. The day around me was beginning to reverberate with newness and possibility…the exact opposite of how I felt.

How was this happening? Didn’t the rest of creation know that my Dad was dead?

The world had not ended. I would have to live. This realization is what bothered me most. Somehow I would have to endure living with this giant hole of missing.

It has been 9 years this month since I first felt that gut-wrenching sensation of loss. And now this month will commemorate another death and another great man in my life. On Mother’s Day, my grandfather died in his sleep. I used to dread the day I would receive this news. I would often wonder how I could endure the loss of another formative pillar in my life. But as days do, they came and went just like the first. However, this time, it felt different.

I don’t think the difference was that Paw-Paw was “90 years old and had lived a full life” as everyone has repeated. I think the difference was me. This time, I knew that the world would not end and that I would GET to live. I miss Paw-Paw and I will miss him every day, just like I do my Dad, but there is more here. When Daddy died, I felt like a great pit had formed in my life. As the years have passed, I have discovered that there is nothing that will ever fill this pit in. There will always be a hole where my Dad had been. 

However, my life doesn’t just stop with the hole. God has been filling up my days in new ways, with unimaginable blessings all building up over time. Surrounding this pit of sadness are mountains of hope. Each mountain is a new joy, a new dream and a way of living that has filled my life to fullness even with the presence of the pit.

I am still sad, but I live today knowing that God will continue to shape mountains around my wounds that stand taller than my sadness can ever run deep. From the depths, I can see how vast and sensational the blessings of life have been and in faith, I know there will be more mountains to explore and more joys to be had even while I miss my Paw-Paw.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Mustard Seed Moments

Synchronicity is the name of the game when it comes to the movements of the Spirit. In this season of my life where it is far too easy to get bogged down in the big picture and find myself fretting about the future, the Spirit delivered, yet, another message. It isn't a new message and I have heard it many times before, but the delivery is always timely. The difference, yesterday, was that I actually became the message. I didn't only hear it and finally, I think I see how this works. 

I visited an old friend who purchased a painting yesterday. Sitting in her living room, I was talking about my journey starting Waked Up Studio and how I have been in a practice of letting God lead for months now (even when it is really hard to do that). I was retelling the piece of my last blog post where I imagined myself walking through the woods with a flashlight at night when my friend stopped me. 

She told me that the longer she is alive the more she realizes that God is most interested in the mustard-seed-moments. The part of life that is transformative and that matters, TRULY matters, is literally the moment at hand. The small gestures within that moment become the big answers to prayer. She believes God works moment to moment but often, we get lost in moments that aren't even happening which is ultimately our downfall. 

I know this is true. I have experienced the wholeness and fulfillment of being present to the simple, fully provided for moments the Spirit has led me into. I have also felt the fear and discontent of the moments I have rushed myself into or dreaded. Does God prefer the mustard seed moments? It seems that way. 

I immediately got to test out this life practice only minutes later when I left her house. I was not five minutes down the road when my 4-month-old began to squall (she had done so well all day, but her morning of shots were beginning to wear on her). Just as she began to cry, large black clouds rolled in and traffic began to build on the very busy main stretch of road I was traveling on. Then, my car began to shutter harder and harder. Moments later, I was parked in a Jimmy Johns, waiting on Joel to come rescue us because our AAA was out of date. 

It was all too much really. I couldn't even let myself think about everything that is going on because my mind would start to race to all the big-ticket, epic life things we have on our plates right now and it would just consume me. 

So instead, I grabbed Noelle, all the stuff that comes with an infant, my purse, and my phone. We stepped into the Jimmy Johns to wait out the rain and wait for Joel and I paused. 

A deep breath just found me and I walked up to the counter and ordered a sandwich.  For the next 30 minutes, I fed myself and Noelle and thought about nothing. I watched the clouds rolling in and watched my baby fall asleep. When Joel arrived he was calm and soaked. He swapped out the car seat and told me to follow him home. We drove slowly back to Charlotte hoping the car would make it. The lights changed just in time the whole way. The traffic was strangely minimal for the 5 o'clock hour. 

Arriving home, we unloaded the cars and quietly fixed ourselves a bourbon drink each and spent the rest of the evening sitting on the porch playing and talking with our baby. My mom showed up with dinner and we had two gifts arrive for us in the mail. Noelle laughed and cooed, and so did we. 

This is not how we typically handle stress. In times past, this car trouble would have filled me with anxiety and would have enraged Joel. We would have been short with each other, frustrated and exhausted by another thing being added to the to-do list, exasperated by another ball dropped in an already complicated season. 

These feelings are there still, but we chose to be in the moment last night. We didn't talk about it, we were just led into it. At one point, Joel made a comment on how many gifts we received just since we arrived home. It was true. I went to bed feeling blessed and full with only a small nagging that there will be needs tomorrow and chores to accomplish. But the voice seemed to sing me a lullaby reminding me that those things would be the work of tomorrow, not the worrying of right now.

God works in the mustard seed moments. The RIGHT NOW moments. The present moment. This is where love is. This is where the Source allows us to tap into the fullness of all life. There can be steadfast joy even in a season of frustrating delays and burdens. We continue to work hard. We have to remain focused and dutiful but what I have realized in this season is that we can still be joyful people, blessed people, and faithful people. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Trusting in YES

Mary was just a teenager when she said, "Yes". At least that is how the story goes. It seems too simple the way 2,000 years has bundled up the conception of Christ into a one paragraph segment of Mary's life. I like to say that I leap into "Yes", like she did, when the Spirit leads, but the truth is, the Spirit works on me for a long time before I go flying off the cliff of the unknown will of God. 

It starts with a tiny nagging in a place that I can only describe as my heart. It is like being in a class in high school when the teacher walks out of the room. Everyone starts talking at the same time really loudly, but someone in the back of the room is calling my name. I don't want to be interrupted because I am talking to someone else, so I ignore them. "Claire...Claire...Claire..." It's a small disturbance that leaves me feeling a little unsettled and I don't know why.

So, soon the voice starts to come in louder, a little clearer too. The message begins to push through the cacophony of routine and comfort, and I start to feel uncomfortable for no reason. Once I say out loud that I am feeling this voice or doubting my daily choice to ignore it, then the layering begins to happen. 

The synchronicity of messages begins to find me. Layer after layer, voice after voice repeats the message in every possible form from every possible and unlikely source until it is obvious that I am not going to be able to shake it off. 

Then the thinking happens. I start to imagine what it would be like if I gave into this voice, this idea that is starting to take hold inside me. I envision my life living as it demands and imaging all the steps it would take to complete it's mission. The more I imagine it, the more I want it.

Once that happens, it is action time. I start to DO what it has requested. I prepare the way and to my surprise, the doors swing open (not always quickly) and the doors that need shutting slam closed. It is like the way was all actually prepared for me...

This is when I begin to talk to the voice. I pray, I meditate on it's message. I try to focus on the path it seems to be revealing for me to follow. 

Then it is like walking through the woods at night. I have my flashlight down by my feet so that I don't trip on a root or rock and I step along carefully so that I won't fall. Every so often, I will flick my light up and forward to see where it is I am going. I will see a tree in the distance, maybe a cabin or a tent. My goal will be in view or close to it, and then I have to flick my light back down by my feet so that I won't stumble.

This is what "Yes" feels like. It's that tromping through the woods, faithfully following a light that keeps you from missing your step. It is also that glimpse of where you are headed so that you are encouraged to keep making the journey even if it turns out to be a long one.

I am currently on a "Yes" journey. This whole recipe for a new sense of call has happened to me over the last two and a half years and I am still getting glimpses of the goals ahead while I continue to take one step at a time. Sometimes, I get impatient and I try to take too many steps forward and have to go back. Sometimes, I forget what the goal looked like that I am aiming for and have to pause and remember. However, all the time, I focus on that light around my feet and pray for the right doors to open and for the wrong doors to close so that all I have to do is keep moving forward, trusting in the "yes" to guide me.