Raise Your Voice

raiseyourvoice book RYV Quote 2.jpg

The words you are currently reading are about this important book, Raise Your Voice by Kathy Khang. This introduction is also about the background of my personal/ emotional/ connection and how it is all interwoven with taking back and raising my own voice. (while clumsily learning how to spend my own privilege)

Three years ago on an early Saturday morning at the beginning of May, I think it was May 9th, 2015, I walked into an unfamiliar venue alone after taking an Uber to get there when I was living in Chicago. I knew only one or two faces, and a couple names of the speakers. I had been at my new job and practicing yoga for one year, I was able to attend the event because of a generous scholarship. (These details aren’t in themselves the main point, but they were key milestones, and important to the overarching story and my freedom. I guess you never forget every little breadcrumb trail that contributes to your freedom.)

I remember hearing Kathy Khang speak that morning and eagerly following her work online afterward. I took notes, though I admit I don’t remember much, but that she was engaging, and I think the impression I recall is that she was funny and deeply thought-provoking. Recently, I enthusiastically reached out to Kathy, cheering her on as she received her yoga certification and sharing our common love for yoga, excited to read as she voiced her own yoga journey.

What was happening internally and behind the scenes in my own world at that very moment of that event in 2015 was a little bit of finding my voice when it turns out my personal agency and decision to travel to visit my sister for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend was being strongly discouraged…to the point that my abuser wouldn’t grant his blessing but threatened that I shouldn’t go. (That I would be choosing cursing instead of blessing by failing to listen to spiritual authority, blah, blah, blah. Bah humbug.)

To visit my sister. When she was pregnant. For the first time. My only sister, 8 hours away. On my long weekend holiday.

The whole thing was ridiculous and caused much unneeded emotional tension and turmoil and I was determined to go, had the means to go, and no reason not to go…so I went.

This also coincided with the beginning of the end of my abuser’s tight grip on my life. Gratefully, I lost a great deal of trust in him at this point. I was absolutely perplexed & bewildered why in the world he was making a big deal about this. As you know, I recently recorded my story, raising my voice, this literally taking back my voice and telling my story in my own words, with my own voice. Since this post isn’t about me, I won’t link to that today. You can find it on my site if you dig around. 😉

Raise Your Voice Launch Team

Upon hearing about Kathy’s new book, I jumped at the chance to be part of the launch team and help amplify this incredible book. It’s so delightfully practical, spiritual, and encouraging. Filled with enough anecdotes that give honest, real-life examples. Weaving in narratives from the Bible from her perspective. I loved the way the author described  Esther’s cross-cultural, dual identity, having two names; Esther and Hadassah, along with a time to step up and raise her voice – for such a time as this – to hear it told from Kathy’s perspective was vivid and powerful. As an MK/TCK (third culture kid) growing up outside my passport country, though very much still privileged, not economically, but because of my skin, I could identify with that in my own way as well.

This is a book I want to hand to several people in my life, in hopes that it might help them see past the binary issues of our day, and see more nuance, but also how our silence can speak loudly, and especially the need for diverse voices, and to stop the silencing story about a false kind of unity and niceties.

Kathy articulates this point wonderfully; with the verse from 1 Corinthians 12:12-20 and verse 26 about the beauty in the diversity of our gifts and how we are one body of many parts. This doesn’t detract from a holistic desire for unity, but unity isn’t about sameness, or homogenizing. Repeat after me, sameness isn’t unity. Sameness isn’t the goal. Sameness isn’t the gospel. This very point from Paul was counter-cultural, that each individual person had a part to play in their community, in their church, in Roman society, affirmed and loved uniquely by their Creator.

I was reminded of the familiar verse about every tribe, every tongue, every nation. How dare we as Christians think that is the vision of heaven and simultaneously refuse to actively live that out in our world, in our neighborhoods, and in our cities right now. Instead, despite our great intentions many are promoting or at the very least permitting racism and white supremacy, because of one or a few singular complex issues, stubbornly refusing to budge from, but are unwilling to hear and listen to the voices crying out demanding to be heard, for their own safety, for their own survival. By the way, reverse racism is not a thing, you guys. Not a thing.

What about the prayer ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ on EARTH, right now. Like Kathy says at the beginning of her book, we have a responsibility, to steward, our domain.

In Raise Your Voice, Kathy says the following:

“I believe that Christians desire and can handle more complexity. Race and reconciliation can no longer be framed solely as a justice issue but rather as core to the gospel, theologically grounded in the Imago Dei (the image of God). As Christians, if we truly believe we are all created in God’s image, and that God the Creator had a hand in developing, creating, and shaping not just our embodied souls but also the places and spaces we steward and have dominion over, then reconciliation with one another is not merely an option – it’s part of God’s mandate. It requires us to speak up and speak out.”


“When more of us from different intersections and margins raise our voices, we live a fuller picture of the good news.


“Words are powerful and can be used to free people from captivity or to sentence people into captivity. God created humans to communicate WITH one another, not so we would use words and actions to hurt and destroy one another but to be a blessing to one another. God used words to assure Moses of his identity as one beloved and known by the Creator, and then asks Moses to go out and speak up on behalf of the Israelites.” “Likewise, we are seen by God and called out of our imposter syndrome wilderness to proclaim freedom and good news to the world. God asks you to raise your voice.”


“Our unity in Christ does not erase diversity. Our unity in Christ affirms and even demands diversity for the flourishing and stewarding of this world. Our diverse voices allow God’s truth to be told in many ways.”

  • “We are all children of God, and diversity is part of that unity – not conformity or assimilation.”
  • “Knowing who you are also helps you recognize everyone else’s humanity.”

Speaking up doesn’t increase division. It brings injustice and sin to the forefront. Speaking up can be an avenue of truth and healing, which can be painful for you and your friends.”

IMG_3798.JPG

I’ll let the author’s quotes and excerpts continue to speak for themselves. This is where the practical, tangible, personal work comes in:


“Be informed and learn from people who are different than you.”

Here are some practical, tangible steps and actions that you can begin today, the following excerpt is a paragraph that I re-formatted into a list for you:

  1. “Walk away from the screen.
  2. Commit to reading books by authors of color, particularly theologians and Christian leaders of color (like this one).
  3. Commit to reading books by authors who have a different viewpoint on issues than you do or come from a different racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic experience than you do.
  4. Think about the podcasts and subjects you are most interested in and then add a few from the ‘least interested’ pile.
  5. If you are a man, listen to women preach.
  6. If you are a woman, listen to women preach.
  7. And don’t limit your consumption to Western voices. There is an entire world out there.
  8. Take a hard look at your circle of friends and be honest about the diversity reflected in your relationships. And then take your questions, along with what you are learning, back to the spaces you can influence and use your voice.”

RaiseYourVoice_02

The injustice we do not understand:

“We often stay silent and do nothing by convincing ourselves the offense isn’t actually that offensive. Sometimes we don’t speak up because the injustice doesn’t affect our daily lives. We don’t understand the impact of a law or the injustice inflicted on others because it doesn’t impact the people closest to us or it isn’t a matter of our heart or heart language.

Queen Esther may have been able to avoid getting involved if it wasn’t for the actions of her uncle Mordecai.”


“Being a Jesus-follower, trusting in God’s sovereignty, and believing in our hearts that God is in control doesn’t absolve us from taking action or speaking out against injustice. In fact, it should be a reminder for us to take the risk and speak up in our churches and communities.”


“How can we pray ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ without recognizing this is an invitation to raise our voices?”


“The reason I most often choose to stay silent is the one I don’t want to admit. If I benefit from the status quo, I have a vested interest in maintaining it. Silence is complicity. Speaking out is often labeled as rocking the boat or causing trouble, but silence is just as dangerous.”


“Speaking out against injustice isn’t about my personal feelings and opinions being prioritized over someone else’s feelings and opinions – instead, it’s about recognizing that our individual feelings and opinions about a situation are secondary in importance to the overall impact on our community and society.”


“However, I don’t consider it divisive to point out the problems as a way to work toward finding solutions. We can trust in God and still question what is happening around us. We can live out our beliefs even if the ultimate outcome isn’t changed for the better.

Mordecai understood that trusting in God doesn’t excuse us from speaking up when given an opportunity to name injustice and fight for justice….And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

RaiseYourVoice_06.jpg

Thank you Kathy, for this incredibly powerful, practical book. For in raising your voice, you encourage us (me) to raise our (my) own voice(s), listen to the voices of others, and recognize how much we need each other. I needed this book, in my journey of reclaiming my voice, in my healing and freedom from spiritual abuse, in my own anti-racism internal work and education, and in learning how to amplify the voices of others, in doing so, even if I’m clumsily flailing about or imperfectly speaking out.

The book is out today! To order your copy from Amazon or directly from the publisher: InterVarsity Press

Please follow and support Kathy Khang’s work. You can find Kathy online:
Twitter: @mskathykhang
Instagram: @mskathykhang

Advertisements

Summer of Wonder! Kids Yoga, Art, & Play Camp

summer of wonder KIDS full color

Summer of Wonder! Kids Yoga, Art, & Play Camp

Registration is now open!

  • WHAT: Summer of Wonder! Kids Yoga, Art, & Play Camp
  • WHO FOR: KIDS aged 3 – 12. *3-5yo parents will need to stay to supervise. *Kids 5 & up can be dropped off. Family Discounts available. 
  • OLDER KIDS 12 & up are welcome to come as Yogi Helpers at a discount. Contact me if interested.
  • WHEN: Monday, July 16th — Friday, July 20th 
  • TIME: Mornings, 9am – Noon (M-F) (Drop off by 9am and pickup at Noon)
  • WHERE: Arlington Heights Sports Park, Riverside, CA

summer of wonder KIDS 9am

INCLUDES:

  • Yoga, Mindfulness, Calming Breathing Practices
  • Creative Arts Activities, Painting, Drawing, Collage
  • Interactive Story Time & Movement
  • Lots of interactive, developmentally appropriate, silly, fun, and wonder!
  • Some dancing and maybe even a little bit of music.
  • Gratitude Practice
  • Sensory Activities
  • A New Theme Every Day!

What to Bring:

  • Yoga Mat
  • Beach Towel
  • Water Bottle
  • Sun Protection

What to Wear:

  • Wear comfy clothes that you feel good moving your body in. Comfortable, weather appropriate clothes to move, explore, and play in. Dresses are fine as long as they’re weather appropriate and have shorts on. (Think Downward Facing Dog, and Tree Pose) The more comfortable you are the less you’ll have to worry about. There will be art projects too, that might get a little messy.
  • Shoes won’t be needed except for getting home or walking to the bathroom. Flip flops are perfect.

Suggested:

  • Folding chairs for grown-ups
  • Allergy friendly snacks if required

Not Included: Summer of Wonder T-shirts Hopefully! In Progress! (More details to come, including deadline to order before camp!) ** Registrants will be contacted by email with updates or any pertinent information. You can also check the Event Page on Facebook for updates.

eben smile

Are you ready to sign up?

  1. Register here:  (link takes you to google form)

  2.  Pay here: $125 for 5 days, or $35/day one-day-wonder. (link takes you to my Square Shop)
  3. Please email me with any questions you may have, for family discounts, or if you need a sliding scale based on need. Every child is welcome. I’d love to help make that happen!
  4. If you’d like to donate to offset the cost for a family so that a child can attend that would be amazing! Contact me or go directly to step 2 and leave a note as you are checking out. Thank you!

Who is Lori?

Hi! That’s me, Lori Joanne Quick, this is my website, and I believe play is the best way to learn and experience the wonder of life! I don’t talk about kids much here, but I spend (and have spent) a lot of my time nurturing some of the sweetest humans on the planet. Kids bring me great joy and delight, and am excited to bring them some great experiences and some healthy tools and lots of fun this summer!

18892924_10100777016804460_6559700394074156656_n

My Credentials:

  • Certified Yoga Instructor (R-HYI 225hr)
  • BA Music, (Developed and directed Kids Music Program as part of my internship)
  • Two Summers as a Camp Counselor in 2003, and 2006 (Elementary – High School)  and with Youth Groups.
  • Childcare since 1998-2000, 2006-2018 (and counting)
  • Chicago Arts Preschool Administrative Assistant & Baby Holder, Assisted Preschool Teachers & Yoga Class (2013-2014)
  • Currently BAE (best auntie ever, and I have the mug to prove it 😉 )to my almost 3-yo nephew) and Nanny of 2 years.
  • My favorite princesses are Merida from Brave & Moana. My nephew & I love to watch Cars (1 &3) and Finding Nemo & Finding Dory! I can’t wait to take him to see the new Incredibles 2!
  • My favorite recently seen movie is Wrinkle in Time!

My Kid-Philosophy:

  • Let them be little, let them play, let them grow.
  • Feelings matter. Expressing and communicating how they feel is healthy.
  • Seeing the world through a child’s eyes is the best, and checking in with them at their eye level.
  • Explore, observe, and share.
  • Nurture. Gentle. Kindness.
  • Be silly.
  • Healthy boundaries. “No, thank you”

*This is a non-religious event, open to all. To make a donation to offset the cost for a family see above.

Integrated Soul Podcast Ep. 2 & 3 Shownotes

“What Happened” & “The Beginning of the End” Shownotes

In Parts 2 & 3, I continue my story about what happened.  I’m using my own voice to tell my story with the hopes that it will empower someone else to be free from the toxic, shame-based counterfeit religion and indoctrination that’s out there. (It can happen anywhere, not just in certain denominations. Anywhere there are people in power, there can be abuse of power.)

LISTEN HERE: anchor.fm/integratedsoulpod 

You can listen via the web app at that link or download the app to your smartphone to listen. If you use the Anchor app, you can even send messages or record a voice message for me that I can use in a future episode. I’m planning to keep it here in one place at the moment, though I am open to requests to distribute to iTunes. Leave a comment and let me know you’re listening! 🙂 If you have any technical difficulties let me know, I’m happy to help.


Quotes referenced on the show:

Life is never made unbearable by circumstances,
but only by lack of meaning and purpose.

-Victor Frankl


Books_SpiritualAbusecover

In the book, What’s The Big Deal About Spiritual Abuse, Dale Fincher, President of Soulation defines spiritual abuse as (mis)using God’s name in vain:

“Misusing God’s name means claiming the intentions and character of God are behind the thing that men and women are wrongly doing. This is spiritual abuse. Whenever anyone is dehumanized, it is abuse. Whenever anyone is dehumanized in the name of God, it is spiritual abuse.”

The life-saving course on Spiritual Health that I referenced is by Soulation, with Dale & Jonalyn Fincher and is available, be sure to check out their books and their work as it is supremely valuable. (linked to Soulation.org)

dark nights new dawns.jpg

In Brian Zahnd’s most recent message The End is the Beginning from Dark Nights and New Dawns he describes deconstructing as a House Remodel/Renovation. Instagram: @brianzanhd Podcast: iTunes link Twitter: @BrianZahnd


healing spiritual abuse
Healing Spiritual Abuse and Religious Addiction by the Linns

On Scripture & Spiritual Abuse:

Scripture is still often interpreted in ways that are abusive to women.

For example, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me”, “he must deny himself’ is a prideful refusal to surrender ourselves. However, […], for a woman sin is not pride, the exaltation of self, but a refusal to claim the self God has given.

Developmentally, if a woman or man has not yet been affirmed in her right to claim and assert herself, she should not be pressured to deny the self she does not yet possess. In our culture women are taught to be codependent. i.e. to deny their reality and their needs and scripture has often been used to reinforce this.

OB cover


Danielle Shroyer, on dignity in her book Original Blessing says:

“Targeting self-esteem is an easy way to get power over someone.”

“God never asks us to reject our human dignity. God calls us to live into it.”


Kathy Escobar on dignity & voice in her video Holding onto Power (it’s only 5 minutes, highly recommend watching.)

“the kind of power that Jesus was talking about is a path of humility but is also stepping into our dignity and our voice. Systems aren’t the greatest at helping people doing that. If people’s creativity and gifts and passions and all those things are set free, lookout! It will breakout, it is unleashed. Spirit unleashed, power unleashed.”


In the book, Healing Spiritual Abuse and Religious Addiction by the Linns,

“St. Ignatius understood that it is abusive to try to control another person’s spiritual journey.

“St. Ignatius understood that it is abusive to try to control another person’s spiritual journey. Unlike Ignatius, abusive parents or religious leaders use children or followers to meet their own needs for control and self esteem, rather than nurturing the spiritual development of those who look up to them.”

“Jesus never meant for us to use him or any other religious thing as an escape from the truth of our lives.”

“Christianity was not meant first of all to teach us doctrines, but rather how to process life.”


a healthy soul is an integrated soul.”

quote by Dallas Willard, in Soul Keeping by John Ortberg


depth of the healing.jpg

“The depth of the healing has to be equal to the depth of the wound.” by Jo Ann Bauer (Graphic from Stephanie Moors @stephaniemmoors)

IMG_1112

Bearing witness to the truth is rarely easy, especially when we’re alone in the wilderness. Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness

(Brene’s acronym BRAVING of which Vault is one of them, referenced at the beginning of episode 2 are also from this important book)

IMG_1069

“Tell the story of the mountain you climbed.
Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide.”

morgan harper nichols tell the story

words and graphic by Morgan Harper Nichols


Music: Sung by Lori

  • My Tribute by Andrae Crouch
  • Liability by Lorde
  • Someday (original tune) by Lori Joanne Quick

integrated soul podcast2

Links & Where to find me:

Thank you so much for listening, it means a lot to me! If you’d like you can leave a voice message or contact me if you’re interested in having a conversation on the podcast sometime!

LISTEN HERE: anchor.fm/integratedsoulpod 

The Integrated Soul Podcast Episode 1 Shownotes

“Something Is Not Right” Show Notes

In the first couple of episodes, I begin to share my story of taking my voice back after spiritual trauma and how that led me here. I’m using my own voice to tell my story with the hopes that it will empower someone else to be free from the toxic, shame-based religion and indoctrination that’s out there.

fleshing out what it means to have a healthy soul

Some of us find freedom and find new ways to connect to our faith and spirituality. This is my story.

LISTEN HERE: anchor.fm/integratedsoulpod 

You can listen via the web app at that link or download the app to your smartphone to listen. If you use the Anchor app, you can even send messages or record a voice message for me that I can use on a future episode. I’m planning to keep it here in one place at the moment, though I am open to requests to distribute to iTunes. Leave a comment and let me know you’re listening! 🙂 If you have any technical difficulties let me know, I’m happy to help.

integrated soul podcast2

You’ll hear as I mention some of the symptoms I was experiencing that were caused by spiritual abuse and trauma.


Quotes referenced on the show:

re-examine all you have been told
at school or church or in any book,
dismiss whatever insults your own soul

~Walt Whitman

Version 2

(artist, unknown; poem by Walt Whitman)

He brought me out to a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

~Psalm 18:19


Music Appreciation

Excerpts from Brooke Fraser’s song, Therapy, helping me sound kinda cool. Here’s her official lyric video: Therapy.

Links & Where to find me:

Thank you so much for listening, it means a lot to me! If you’d like you can leave a voice message or contact me if you’re interested in having a conversation on the podcast sometime!

LISTEN HERE: anchor.fm/integratedsoulpod 

Surprise, it’s a Podcast!

Surprise,
it’s a….
….podcast!
🍾🎉🎈🎊💖💛👶🏼😇👼🏼🤰🍼🎀🎐📝📚🎨🎙

I keep calling my Podcast ‘my baby’ and here are some reasons why: 👶🏼

While the podcast itself was a surprise…everything that went on before and behind it was not. And that’s why it all made sense when it showed up as an idea at midnight on Sunday night.📝

It was a labor of love that developed into a podcast. 🎨

Everything behind it has been in the womb, so to speak.🤰

Nurturing and writing and creating and expressing and finding new ways and unearthing the words and unraveling and reinterpreting and I know the baby / pregnancy metaphor isn’t perfect…I’ve never been good at metaphors (lol)…but it makes sense in as close to words as I have for this.

 

integrated soul podcast2

📝
It is my labor of love.
It is the fruit and creative expression of the inner work of healing and recovery.
🎀
And somehow it turned into a podcast.
🎉
I guess I thought it would be something else…a video series or a something else.
🖼
I had begun writing, on my blog over the past year+ and some of that same material will be included in the podcast.
📚

I’ve been in support groups and I’ve been telling my story in person and refining the words and the way I tell it for a broader audience. For the purpose of simply…telling my story in my own words. And with the desire that my story would set others free.

🎙

So if you’d like to listen, episode one is available and I may get episode two done this weekend. I’ll keep you posted. After the first 2-3 episodes I hope to release it once a week or 2-3x a month. And once I tell this part of my story I hope to shift a bit and share more discussions on practical ways to nurture an integrated & embodied soul, and even begin to have some conversations with you. @anchor.fm allows listeners to record a short message or question. So let’s do this thing together! Thank you so much for listening!! 🎧

Podcast Shownotes:

Direct link to all episodes:

anchor.fm/integratedsoulpod

Please use the hashtag #integratedsoulpod on Twitter & Instagram

 

A Masterpiece & A Work in Progress, Simultaneously

As much as I want to not care what people think…sometimes I do worry what people think….maybe because I worry they’ll misunderstand my process. Not because I feel like I have to…but because I want to make sure I’ve explained it clearly. I hate being misunderstood. It’s something I face all the time.

I am not someone who puts my best face forward all the time. I do sometimes and enjoy it. I also want to show the hard days and the in-between days. I posted a glimpse from a hard moment that was about a trigger I had on my personal facebook page yesterday and am so grateful it was handled with care and well received and supported.

But…I wonder about the after effects, not just about that post…but overall. How will I be perceived now? I guess it’s a little bit of a vulnerability hangover.  These questions arise:

Will people think I’m too broken to take me seriously and will this put people off from following my work?

But the truth is I don’t believe that I’m broken if I am grounded in inner wholeness and know that I am aligned with Original Blessing. I fully acknowledge that I am a work in progress AND a masterpiece. Simultaneously.

masterpiece work in progress sophia bush

This quote gives me life. It’s so honest and so true. 

And then I go back to the zone of not caring what people think. The little boost I need to remind me that it’s okay. I’ve used my voice and said what I needed to say and it is what it is. What people think is not my responsibility.

There are so many instances of both/and. We can be walking contradictions. We can be both perfect and imperfect. We can be soft and strong. Fierce and tender.  Maybe they’re not so much contradictions as contrasts or variations on a spectrum. I am the fierce mama bear I need for myself, and I am also tender and nurturing. It can feel confusing if you let other people tell you that you’re only one thing. But last time I checked rainbows come with more than one color. Multifaceted, prisms of light, rays of sunshine. Different timbres. Celebrating our unique differences and honoring the light that is in all of us. Sameness was never the goal. Resonance is.

“…we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little–however little–native luminosity?

-C.S. Lewis

Being a masterpiece and embracing our inner wholeness doesn’t mean we have our head in the clouds, but that we’re choosing to embrace every part…all our paradoxes. Holding joy in one hand and grief in the other. The light & the dark. “Darkness is as light to you…”

You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes.
    For You the night is just as bright as the day.
    Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes.

Psalm 139:12 VOICE

“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring: these are a few of the paradoxes we must hold as human beings.” 

Parker Palmer

So here we are…walking each other home. Being kind with each other in each of our masterpiece-in-progress selves.

IMG_8366

 

Bedtime Meditations for Kids

I wanted to do a bedtime meditation last night but I couldn’t find any prayers that I liked for littles. Silly me, I got this. I didn’t need to search for ideas outside, when I had everything I need within. So tonight I just did what I do and we breathed and prayed together.

See, I don’t want to just teach him yoga, I want him to be equipped to handle big emotions with deep breaths, but also teach a more mindful approach to prayer and not a weird creepy version of toxic or over spiritualized Christianity.

A faith that empowers him and is liberating, not ill-fitting.
Unforced rhythms.
Freely and lightly.
Soft and tender.
Age appropriate.
And would be natural based on how we interact already and who I am.


26804344_1953298908221027_8237792996059362627_n

This bedtime meditation prayer was magic.

✨🙏✨
Get settled. Seated with little one on your lap so they can feel your inhales and exhales. Begin with a couple inhales and exhales.

I decided to do an embodied prayer of thanks.

Beginning with our hearts, and touching on topics and body parts he’s familiar with, I merely said thank you for our heartbeats and our breath, pausing here to inhale and exhale again.

Then I went to the five senses. Thank you for eyes so we can see, ears to hear, noses to smell and breathe (inhale audibly with nose) or make sniffing sound.

For hands and touch, as I gently caressed his upper back and tops of his shoulders.
For mouths and tongue that can taste the yummy Mac and cheese. (his dinner) This was a fun one.
🙏
Then I went back to our hearts and the hearts of all those he loves, by name.
Lots of thank you’s.
🙏
Then, thank you for always being with us, for taking care of us, and those we love. Thank you for your angels and watching over us and being together with us and in every breath we take.
🙏
I then named a few big prayer requests and let Eben hear my heart prayers, some pretty big ones. His little heart was so affirming, such a tender moment to share some of my deepest prayers and desires, to speak them aloud in the presence of a fellow human.
🙏
We prayed for restful, peaceful sleep. For happy dreams about puppies and Nemo and Dory. He liked that idea.
🙏
He really seemed to enjoy it and slept soundly and it helped him sleep restfully all night. And if it’s something you would like to try, just go for it.

Forget what you think it “should” be and do what feels natural, age appropriate and don’t be afraid of speaking your own heart prayers aloud. (Unless you don’t want them repeating anything to strangers lol) I think there was a special moment between us when I shared honestly. Tonight thank you’s felt welcome, and gave us ways of looking back at our day and some of the highlights, in a kind of examen sort of way, now that I think about it.

Would you like to see more of these bedtime meditations for tinies? Let me know.

I’m definitely adding this to our nightly routine. 🙏

The Cult of Following

mike-wilson-263700

https://unsplash.com/@mkwlsn (image credit) 

I read something today that brought on sadness, frustration, a mini-migraine, and a bit of a mini-crisis. Just a few raw thoughts follow today.

It reminded me of how easy it is to find yourself somewhere you never meant to end up.

How do intelligent people get caught in cults or manipulative or abusive groups? Here’s a hint. It has nothing to do with intelligence.

We see this in marketing too. (And keep in mind marketers use psychology…so there’s that..) *Side note: Reason #1009 why I love Tad Hargrave from Marketing for Hippies. I also have a mini crush on him.*

There are two large competing essential oil companies and there are people I know, love and respect in both. And I have my own personal oil stash primarily from one…but I also have some from the other so I have oils from both. My sister likes one, I like the other…but I use both now. There was a time that I wanted to pursue additional training to help build my own Oily Business with the “upline’s” in the group I joined (not my sponsor who was very laid back and open handed about the process)…but some of the pre-training material language was immediately off-putting and manipulative or coercive, in addition to cherry picking a Bible verse to “prove” her point (which was completely out of context). (And this was just the sign-up process…which demanded you would make “no excuses” during the business “bootcamp” training period. Gross.

Then there are the food groups/diets/eating plans/lifestyles. The enthusiasm and benefits are touted. And I suppose it would only be fair to say this about yoga too. And cross-fit…so I’ve heard…lol.

I guess it’s not that word-of-mouth is wrong…but remember your experience is rarely duplicated. What “works” for one person, may not be the best _____(fill in the blank)____ for your friend.

Each creates a sort of cult following.

Churches promote small groups and attendance by enticing friendships and the overused and under-explained “community,” or worse, by calling it “family.” The peer pressure. The overspiritualized language. The bait of “belonging.” Formulas: do this “x” and get that “y.”

Imperfect people create imperfect organizations and companies.

But when is enough, enough? When do you draw the line in the sand or burn the bridge? When do you blow the whistle and call them out and demand accountability?

There is a big difference between imperfect and toxic; between imperfect and abusive; imperfect and manipulative.

Where do we go from here? More awareness. More freedom. Room for healthy skepticism and questions. Not fear.  Pursuing wholeness and freedom and spiritual health is a wholistic/holistic journey. No more shame throwing. No more judgment throwing or dualism. Permission to ask hard questions. Space and room to ask those questions and have them asked of you…and without being defensive or exclusive.

I’m going from memory..but I think in the book Families where Grace is in Place it talks about how unhealthy families that keep secrets become very defensive, reactive, and will quickly reject anyone who is not going to play along and turn them into an outsider, excommunicating, banishing or ostracizing them rather than sending them on with grace and understanding. (And unhealthy families aren’t just about your biological families, but can relate to other groups as well, including churches and religious groups or clubs even).

This is not to say that defensive is always a negative reaction…but it can be symptomatic, and being made an outsider…well that is a gross feeling, even when you have chosen to leave…to be told you’re kicked out…even after you have already left is a very strange, icky feeling.

Is it enough to just say that not everything is for everyone? Or that abuse of power can happen slowly, subtly and creep up on you, just like the frog who dies a slow death while cooked at a low temperature rather than a fast boil.

Does this resonate? Where have you noticed the cult of following?

Feminine Wholeness Includes Sexuality | My Favorite Resources

Back in August I posted this on Instagram,
bw sexy selfie

So I’ve been thinking about some recent conversations I’ve had and wondering if any of you beauties would be interested in reading some of my favorite resources for breaking free from repressed sexuality and harmful purify culture? Embracing the skin you’re in and shedding shame? That last one was a huge game changer for me. I’ve got books, my favorite teachers and mentors and amazing online havens. It will probably take a week or so to put together so let me know if you want to see it! 💘💌🍇🌺🐯👑

And it was met enthusiastically. So I am excited to finally share the following resources: books, links, Instagram accounts, teachers and guides that have been helpful on my journey, and continued journey of Feminine Wholeness and Embodied Faith.

Why?

Do you really need to ask why this is important? casual selfie SHE

The short answer is really simple. We are embodied spiritual beings and humans. I am a soul and I have a body, to borrow words from C.S. Lewis.  I am also a woman. As a woman and a person of faith, it is important to me to understand what it means to live in this skin, this flesh, this body, which just so happens to be female. I was never satisfied to live a life that was purely “spiritual.” After all, we’re not just spirit beings.  And we aren’t meant to be either. I grew up in purity culture, that icky sub-culture; cloaked in shame and unconscious body shame, under the guise of “modesty.” Guess what, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, modesty is just another word for shame. Not in its intent, or even original meaning, but in its impact. And impact must be looked at.

I am tired of being in groups with young women who feel compelled to confess their shame because they falsely believe they are committing sin. I was one of those young women. Until I read Ruby Slippers, Eve’s Revenge and Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers blog, and any thread or question of shame was completely erased when I began reading and following the Feminine Wholeness work of Morgan Day Cecil. (All of these lovely people and resources are listed below.)

legs

It’s actually possible to carry shame even if you’ve never crossed any physical boundaries. Surprised?

My jaw dropped as I began reading the blog of Dr. Tina Sellers and her research on purity culture and the negative impacts it has left behind. One fact astounded me most of all. One of her blog articles talked about the impact and symptoms of repressed sexuality in a marriage were similar to those of sexual abuse. Two extremes. One more traumatic, while the other was not healthy. It’s both completely mind-boggling and revealing. I believe it points to the fact that we are sexual beings and repressing that fact does no one any favors.

This is a Good Body

Here’s a bit more of my own words from a few years ago during a really important challenge on instagram.

August 4th, 2015
I snagged a pic from over a year ago when I had just begun yoga. I chose this picture because of the caption. “I wouldn’t be caught dead posting a pic of my middle but this pose somehow elongated it, so I was okay with it” When I look at this photo now, I love it, it’s beautiful, it’s Wild Thing, it’s strength + freedom.

thisisagoodbody

I have only just begun uncovering the lies + shame that I carry in my body – the weight of being a woman.  My healing journey began 2 years ago when I read an incredibly healing book called Eve’s Revenge: Women & a Spirituality of the Body by Lilian Calles Barger. She walks through the ways that religion + the church have taken poor directions both for women and the human body. Instead of a wholistic perspective, as it was created to be, it became separate. The human body became divorced from spirituality + has created an avalanche of hurts and problems. We were not created to be separate.

I always felt that I was a pretty confident, positive self-esteemed, kind-a gal. But the negative voices came from too close to home & lodged themselves like cheap shots – well intentioned but absolutely harmful. My dad thought it was funny to tell me to “get some abs”. It struck a chord as I already wished my stomach was smaller & flatter than it was. I have gone face to face with the lie of “not good enough” my entire life & this just amplified that.

What I’ve discovered over the past 2 years is just how much shame I’ve carried in my body.  The shame of Not-Good-Enough. Somewhere along the road I actually believed I was larger or “fatter” than I really was, when I looked in the mirror, my perception was barely tolerable, eh, it was okay.  I uncovered these lies & areas of shame at the same time that I began practicing yoga & seeing myself for who I really was in that moment. I saw my body grow stronger, & suddenly, for the first time I believed that I was beautiful, not just acceptable or pretty enough, or a pretty face or nice legs, but all of me, the whole me was beautiful. I began experiencing God’s love FOR me, all of me.

I am learning to love this good body he gave me. This is a good body.

 SHE_selfie

Important distinctions and verbiage:

“Our Western Christian tradition often has given the impression, and at times explicitly taught, that this tension is primarily between the soul and the body. • The result has been a denigration of the human body and a distrust of our deepest physical energies. The biblical term ‘the flesh’, which refers to the sinful tendency in us to disregard our inmost self, incorrectly has been equated with ‘the body’.

‘The flesh’ and ‘the body’ in the New Testament are *different concepts.* The consequences of the confusion has been disastrous.

We have ended up obscuring the truth that our bodies are made in the image of God. When St. Paul teaches that we are to live ‘according to the spiritRATHER than ‘according to the flesh‘, he is NOT suggesting that 👉 we should NOT live according to the body.

(an importance distinction❗️)

It is precisely IN our bodies that we are to live according to the spirit, rather than allowing ourselves, including our bodies, to be dictated to by what is opposed to our inmost being.

The invitation is to be liberated, to be reconciled to what is deepest in us instead of being held in bondage to what is false in us.”

excerpt from Echo of the Soul: The Sacredness of the Human Body by J. Philip Newell

attitude

Books

Kind of in order that I went through them. Oh, and I’ve mentioned some of these before (they’re that good, and they’ve been that helpful so I may borrow a few of my previous words, again.) This is really just a starting place, not comprehensive by any means, and not including books I read years ago that I don’t necessarily agree with, anymore, or ever. (I’m looking at you, Captivating. *eye roll) There are some good titles out there…and some awful titles too. If you’re looking for help navigating who to trust…pay attention to the author’s worldview and theological bent. Believe me, everyone has an agenda. And I’m no longer willing to entertain the bent that says women need to submit to men. Jesus never asks that of me, so I shan’t.

Eve’s Revenge: Women & A Spirituality of the Body
by Lilian Calles Barger

1169902

To read my description of this important book go here:

Ruby Slippers by Jonalyn Fincher

51bf58mvrl-_sx342_bo1204203200_

Heart Made Whole

by Christa Black Gifford

Heart_Made_Whole

Other more spiritual / faith / theological / books about / for and from women that are solid and not ill-fitting: Any and everything by Carolyn Custis James, Sarah Bessey, Kathy Escobar, Danielle Shroyer. You won’t find any corsets here.

Additional Books I recommend but haven’t actually read in full or am still in the middle of, but based on their previous work, blog posts etc, I am eager to read and are on my list. 

Echo of the Soul: The Sacredness of the Human Body by J. Philip Newell
Sex, God, & the Conservative Church by Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers
Be sure to also check out her blog and facebook page:

erase sexual shame

Blogs:

MOST IMPORTANTLY:

Morgan Day Cecil: Feminine Wholeness: 

Basically, everything you need is here–there. So please go follow her, check out her site, sign up for her emails, read her blog posts and take a yoga class on her youtube channel. You won’t regret it. She also has an excellent organized book list by topic. So check it out! 🙂

 

Instagram Accounts:

Morgan Day Cecil: Feminine Wholeness
@morgandaycecil

Romance & Adventure:  The Cecils
@romanceandadventure

This Is A Good Body Stories Archive
#thisisagoodbody

Christa Black Gifford
@christablackgifford

Final thoughts. 

The best advice I’ve been given by my amazing Feminine Wholeness Coach is (in my own words)

  • No more shame.
  • It’s a good idea not to use sex as an escape. But don’t be afraid of pleasure. 😉

Be free, dear sisters, whether you’re single and unattached or otherwise entangled. Be free of your shame. Here’s a parting poem to encourage and embolden you:

walt whitman - dismis whatever insults your own soul

*Amazon Affiliate links have been added for each book listed, should you decide to purchase a book, following my link simply means that I can receive a small commission that helps support my work. I only link to things that I wholeheartedly recommend and/or use myself.*

Begin Again

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God’s heart;
they have never left [God].

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

new year begin again

I can begin again.
Life can begin again.
Today I begin again.
A new year to love myself.
A new year to love those around me.
A new year to shed the weight of expectations.
A new year to embrace all of me.
A new year to be fully present.
A new year to step forward, one step at a time, inch by inch.
A new year to say yes to all the good things.

A new year to embrace all of who I am. Body, heart, mind, & soul.
A new year to take flight & take up my space.
A new year to hope again, believe again, & reconstructing.
A new year to be equipped, empowered, enlightened and embodied.
A new year to be rooted and grounded in Love Divine.
A new year of freedom.
A new year to teach what I know.
A new year to be unapologetically, wonderfully me.
A year of wholeness.