Your Flesh is A Poem is an Online Course:
A Guided & Creative Journey & Integrated Spirituality
of the Body Designed to:
+ CONNECT with the FEMININE HEART of GOD
+ HEAL the RIFT BETWEEN YOUR BODY, HEART, & SPIRIT
+ UNRAVEL CENTURIES OF CONDITIONING
+ RECLAIM YOUR LIFE, YOUR VOICE,
YOUR BODY, & YOUR POWER, ALL DIVINELY GIVEN
Practical, creative, expressive & embodied. Engaging the senses, your heart & emotions, your body, your spirit, & your mind. Interwoven with some of my own personal art as well as other artists & my own journey, philosophy, & theology.
This 5-week online course is truly a creative, art-inspired journey,
including mini art assignments, art appreciation including poetry, literature, fine art, photography, sculpture & more. Journaling prompts, group sharing in a small intimate setting, spiritual practices, & embodiment practices to bring healing & wholeness & freedom, live fully alive, & love your very own body.
BEGINS JUNE 3RD. SIGN UP TODAY FOR $99*
*$24 discount available for Lori’s Letter subscribers & sliding scale available based on need.
If you’ve known me for a while, you may or may not have noticed that my language has shifted. I’ve drastically cut back on the “religious” language that I use. This is completely intentional. It is part of my healing. It is part of my attempts at sobriety from religious addiction and trauma. Our subcultures and super-sub-subcultures have got to change. We’re going around in circles talking about things we don’t even mean nor do we know how to say what we mean. We’re padding ourselves with religious bubble-wrap and cushioning, to keep ourselves safe. Hashtag blessed (hear the sarcasm?) From what exactly? From people who are different than us?
The language we use is very telling; and, very important. Pointed, jagged, sharp, loaded and painful, hurtful words can sound like this:
Here’s an example: “Your character needs to grow/change/improve.”
And slowly the word “character” digs sharper and sharper into my chest like a dagger. It sounds more like this. “We don’t like you the way you are. You need to be better. You don’t look like / operate like/ conform like us.” What is this, the survival of the fittest, most ultra spiritual person?
“You need to trust God.” or the accusatory, “You don’t trust God.”
Loaded. Bang. Bang. Do you hear it?
Oftentimes it becomes necessary and healthy to take a step back from the thorns that have entangled the true and good meaning of these words, and look again with fresh eyes at their true meaning and remove the religious stigma and legalism, and religious and spiritual addiction and spiritual manipulation, abuse and triggers.
Faith and trust can become gentle, and even trustworthy again.
A deeper listening and mindful awareness of the power of control, self-control and free will. The will to make decisions and power to consent.
Bodies and hearts are good. Intuition and wisdom are good. Paying attention, being aware and mindful of what’s going on inside your body and outside and noticing how your body is reacting or responding to various stimuli.
We don’t have to embed religious language into everything we do in order to “redeem” it. In fact, it can be quite dangerous, and unhealthy. Because you stop thinking for yourself (with your God-given brain) and you become a religious parrot, which we are not called to be. Our uniqueness and diversity is to be celebrated. You are a poem, did you know that? Our unique gifts and abilities; gifted to each one.
I dare you. Pay attention to your language. Use your thesaurus and your own words. It takes practice and it will take time. This is so important.
Not only are others desperate for this fresh, raw language, many of us on the fringes are in need of words that don’t hurt and burn and scar and wound and push us farther away.
One year ago I loaded up all my belongings from my second floor apartment into a small Uhaul squeezed in our narrow alley along with the help of some dear friends and their friends and escaped from some really toxic relationships. To this day, I still have a couple kitchen boxes packed. I drove over 400 miles in a Uhaul truck and moved in with my sister and became my nephew’s nanny; arriving at about 11pm that night. We took care of each other and I found refuge there with my family.
I’ve walked with Jesus the whole way. It was his words in Matthew (below) that signaled that it was time to go. And he’s never left my side, he’s always been with me. I may never understand how I ended up where I did, or why it got as bad as it did, but what I do know is that He was the one who rescued me. He was the One who provided a way out, along with the help my family and some very dear friends. He was the original rebel; rejecting rules and religious addicts and bad religion.(cue the Gungor song, Bad Religion)
When I found myself unable to say the words“it is well with my soul,” I knew my soul was not well. I will say it, and quote this ’til my last breath,“a healthy soul is an integrated soul.”(Dallas Willard words to John Ortberg in Soul Keeping) It is so critically important.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”(MSG)
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened[by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest[refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me[following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest(renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy[to bear] and My burden is light.”(AMP)
So I rested. and rested and rested.
28 Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.”(TLB)
And I began to recover my life. With room to breathe. Room to reconnect with who I really am, not a restrictive, distorted, lifeless, suffocated version of me.
I learned that so-called holy words were twisted and forced on me and used against me. My entire being, my spirit was torn down, there was no building up. I wasn’t enough for them. I was too much for them. I wasn’t accepted for who I was and for who and how God designed me.
This is the face of freedom, just a few days after my move:
Lorde(the artist/singer/songwriter)sings a haunting song that resonates with me. It is one of the things that was said to me, almost verbatim. She sings:
‘They say,“You’re a little much for me
You’re a liability
You’re a little much for me”
So they pull back, make other plans
I understand, I’m a liability
Get you wild, make you leave
I’m a little much for
Since that day, I have moved again, this time flying back to California with my nephew and a much lighter load, in more than one sense of the word. Just one year on with four years of trauma behind me and I still have a long road of recovery. It’s been a hard, lonely road; pursuing a healthy soul is no easy road but it is a spacious road of freedom.
If you’ve experienced spiritual trauma and been hurt by the church, you are welcome here. I hope to offer spiritual sobriety here, soul care, and compassion, both for ourselves, and for each other. That is my commitment to you. Your story, your voice, your feelings are valid and you’re invited here, whether you join me on your mat in a class or online. And I’m always down for a latte and a conversation. Not everything is appropriate or ready for public consumption, and only you will know when you’re ready to tell your story, and how.
“Remember who you were when you first arrived and reclaim the gift of true self.” – Parker J. Palmer
I have some good books to share with you. I’m obsessed with the website Goodreads. Have you heard of it? It’s a fun and helpful way to catalog books you’ve read, are currently reading, and curate a want-to-read list (and follow friends, too!). I think there is something for everyone here, with books on Women & Spirituality, books on the Soul, and finally books on Purpose & Meaning.
I’m currently actively reading about 6 books including Original Blessing, which is majorly giving me LIFE right now, finishing Artisan Soul and also Echo of the Soul; whichis tucked away waiting in the wings. Can’t wait to share more about those books soon.
Alongside the books I’ve been assigned to read for instructor training, I’ve been nerding out and digging into some extra-curricular studying along with a desire to continue nourishing my soul and reading things that are life-giving, spark my imagination and educate. (This is what happens when you’re a life-long student! And I am pretty sure it’s in my genes, with both my parents holding graduate degrees and my dad holding a PhD! Someday…someday…Masters someday!) I’ve been updating the various lists or “shelves” as they’re referred to on the site and through the app.
Here are my top 7 Non-Fiction Books for Nurturing a Healthy Soul* *Amazon Affiliate links are included for each book, 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 read this treasure of a book at a pivotal time in my life. Growing up without a healthy embodied spirituality left me filled with a massive burden of unnecessary shame, and what turned out to be an unhealthy body image. The shame of being a woman. A physical, embodied woman. The author, Barger, takes us on a chronological journey back to Eve, the mother of all humanity, and through church history which was dictated primarily by men or priests, often, unmarried men. This left a huge gap in the history of the church and the way the body was viewed in relation to spirituality. She gently and critically looks back and weaves this incredibly redemptive picture of the founding ladies of our faith. She draws the holy connection between Eve and Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is no critique of Eve. She invites us into a holy embodied spirituality that makes room for our bodies, not one that disconnects or over spiritualizes. It is both eloquent and incredibly insightful. I will forever recommend this book to every woman I ever meet as it is a healing book, and I’m grateful for finding it through Jonalyn Fincher, her book is below.
Carolyn Custis James is one of my top favorite authors and theologians. Her unique insight and idea of the Blessed Alliance is incredibly redemptive and rich and full. This is not empty. (I highly recommend any of her books. I’ve read 3 of them, and have 2 more to catch up on, with Half the Churchand Malestrom next on my list.)
This is a sparkly book that is more than meets the eye. Jonalyn has incredible depth. Hers was the first book I read that didn’t leave me with the empty feeling that something was missing, as many other women’s books often do. There is no empty stereotype or generalization of women or roles. Instead, she invites us to remove the suffocating, restricting corsets of these stereotypes about femininity. She gives a rich well of information and educates us on the soul, and explains that there is no one picture of femininity, and empowers and frees you up to be your true self.
In his delightfully simple but profound way, Ortberg shares about his journey towards this idea of Soul Keeping. He tells about visiting with Dallas Willard and sitting with his wisdom, the incredibly profound insight that he offers. I love the way Ortberg unwraps the layers of the soul and demonstrates how intricate it is and the great, many needs of the soul. Needs like rest, freedom, and blessing.
“Your soul is not just something that lives on after your body dies. It’s the most important thing about you. It is your life.”
“The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self. The soul is the life center of human beings.”
This book is not quite as intense or condescending as the subtitle may sound. It’s about a holistic spirituality that includes rather than excludes our emotions – heart, mind, and body. I listened to this via audiobook and found it very bolstering and holistic. He begins by talking about ten things that make for an unhealthy spirituality, like some of the following: 2. Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear. 3. Dying to the wrong things. 9. Living without limits. Under his second point he explains why feelings matter:
“To feel is to be human. To minimize or deny what we feel is a distortion of what it means to be image bearers of our personal God. To the degree that we are unable to express our emotions, we remain impaired in our ability to love God, others, and ourselves.”
I both read and listened to this book. I began with the audiobook and found the material so compelling and rich that I wanted to see the words for myself. It was recommended to me and it was soothing and full of incredible insight, relatable anecdotes with a bit of his personal vocational story. This Quaker insight includes concepts like “when way closes” which he describes the insight found in learning what paths aren’t working.
“For a good man to realize that it is better to be whole than to be good is to enter on a straight and narrow path compared to which his previous rectitude was flowery license.” John Middleton Murray as quoted by Parker J. Palmer
This beautiful, tender, book offers fresh language and insight into our unique way of BEing and helpful questions to help you work through your unique way of DOING that expresses your unique way of BEing, without burnout, without sacrificing your self, your nature, who you were created to be. The authors talk about Sealed Orders: personalized instructions each one of us is imparted with emphasizing the Dignity and unique meaning of each person’s life. And talk about Doings that express our unique way of BEing. The particular way the light of God shines within us. I don’t know what else to say except to point you in this direction if this piques your interest or might help the search for meaning you are looking for. For me, it’s been such a helpful, healing place to start and move forward, in finding my own voice again.
*My caveat for you is that if reading is not a helpful way that fills you up or you don’t find to be life-giving, and if you’ve already tried audio books, then prioritize those things that are helpful, life-giving, not depleting sources. If you prefer stories, then find good books that tell good stories, watch good movies that tell good stories. Whatever works for you. You are uniquely made, and what brings me life may not be the same thing that brings you life. Whatever is good for YOUR soul. Do that.
*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 use myself.*
My life came to a halt four years ago when I was stopped from pursuing worship leadership. I thought it was over. I had nothing else to live for, the life was zapped from me, and I felt limp and lifeless. Then, almost 3 years ago, I started going to a weekly yoga class that was essentially a worship experience. I learned to listen in prayer, to listen in the stillness as we stretched our bodies and rested in child’s pose or savasana, laying on your back, relaxed, it’s a resting pose.
Five months later, I attended a one-day workshop where I learned some Thai Touch techniques and yoga massage. That experience solidified my desire to teach yoga as I witnessed what looked to me as our instructors leading us in worship. It was a huge moment of epiphany. They were worship leaders. It expanded my view of what I already felt was a broad and diverse understanding of worship, but with music feeling like such a deep wound, it gave me a renewed vision and renewed hope for my life.
One year ago I auditioned and was accepted into the incredible historic choir in Chicago, The Apollo Chorus and dove into the deep end with a difficult, classical, oratorio, musical work by the name of Elijah, by Felix Mendelsohn from the 18th century; 172 years ago. Intense, emotional, difficult and deeply moving. It is an epic musical work. A part of my brain that had been dormant for 3 years or more came alive and I began composing and writing again.
After I left, I began practicing Spiritual Sobriety and right now I can’t even imagine what going back into doing music in a church setting will look like. Music, hell yes, but leading worship again…it’s still so painful, and a tender wound.
And then, back to today, I remember that I’m about to begin my Yoga Instructor training, in two weeks from today and it feels almost full circle as I unwrapped two of my books from today’s mail. A name in the foreword of one of the books almost took my breath away. It was a name I came across at least a few times doing research for my undergrad studies in church music (before they began calling it worship leadership). And it didn’t scare me, it didn’t hurt.
It hit me like such a gentle “woah” moment, quiet, and gentle and like the gentlest tap on your shoulder, almost like a surprise, long awaited embrace, relief, and a coming home.
This epic odyssey continues but the coming home parts keep “woah-ing” me away.
Breathless, silent, woah. I don’t know if I’m ready, but I’m so ready for this.
I’m about to be studying worship once again, the subject that I have put so much time and energy and schooling towards. And I didn’t even realize it until this moment. Today. And after much time awaiting and wanting to go through Yoga Instructor Training, it’s finally here. Beginning officially in two weeks, and I could not be more excited!
My educational and career journey aren’t just a collection of random mismatched, aimless jobs.
I have a BA music degree, studied and completed a semester of graduate Masters in Worship studies with a 4.0, and am adding certified Yoga Instructor to my artist’s palette, or tool belt. It is slowly, gently, beginning makes sense, now. The puzzle pieces *do* go together.
Planning and arranging set-lists and putting together playlists and learning how to sequence a yoga flow…actually goes together.
Learning about design and furniture and research about how a space, room, or environment makes you feel…
Teaching a women’s workout at a gym and encouraging healthy habits.
Taking care of kids fits in there somewhere too. I love kids yoga.
Waiting tables and making espresso, fits in there too.
Learning about entrepreneurship back in 2009.
Technology and social media marketing, totally fits.