My Red Sea Road Day

 

Today (May 27, 2019) is the Celebration of my Red Sea Road – Exodus day. My liberation day. My get the hell out of there day.

To know me is to know that milestones and anniversaries are a pretty big deal to me. This is one of those days.

I began putting miles between myself and my manipulating spiritual, emotional abuser.
Literally packed up a uhaul with the help my yoga teacher and some of their friends.

IMG_2597

A city that I loved, unfortunately, was too much of a reminder that I couldn’t be there any longer.

I had long run out of reasons to stay. The air I was breathing had become toxic ever since the day I arrived. Maybe the nerves I felt arriving were an early indicator that something was not right. Maybe the tears I cried every time we had a conversation were an indicator that something was not right. Maybe the tension and confusion that built up in my body because “do I listen to God or the pastor?” was making me sick.

Oh, but don’t worry they just wanted me to repent and recant for calling out spiritual abuse. The ugliest, most awful email I’ve ever read and received, was full of the very manipulation they were denying.

My physical symptoms were undeniable. The wear on my psyche, my heart, my soul, and my mind and body.

Just do what you’re told. Just be the good little church girl, your voice isn’t valued here. Your gifts as a worship leader aren’t needed, your skills, your training, and your church music degree. It was like I didn’t even exist.

You will be condescendingly criticized, belittled, betrayed, manipulated and gaslit.

So yeah, I know what it feels like to leave, and I know what it feels like to be excommunicated. Only, I never understood why they felt like they had to have the last word…

A Brief Timeline:

midori IMG_9434

*I moved to Chicago in the Summer of 2012
*I found yoga in April 2014 – yoga saved my life.

*Visited my sister on Memorial Day Weekend 2015 – This was beginning of the end of the spell I was under. I was criticized and warned against visiting my pregnant sister by my abuser. On my own long weekend, which I paid for. I mentioned this particular time further in this post.

short video clip of Apollo Chorus & Northwester students rehearsing Mahler for our Northwestern University performance, followed by a performance in Downtown Chicago on Sunday.

*I left Chicago on Memorial Day 2016, just like a Red Sea parted, God made a way for me to get out. The day after performing with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, a dream come true, and the best way to leave on a high note.  Pictured, my view from the stage, my Backstage pass wristband, and after the performance with a couple of my favorite kiddos, with the stage behind us.  The same stage where I saw Andrew Belle, the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, and Idina Menzel the previous fall. mahler choir.jpg

THAT WAS THEN, NOW I’m FREE

AND NOW, 3 years after leaving

I am free.
I am whole.
I am fully alive.
I am healing.

I am a vocal advocate against spiritual abuse.
I help women reconnect with their bodies.
I sing regularly and am a valued part of my worship team.
I am writing songs, and finding my sound. I hope to have some coffee shop gigs later this summer or early fall. I hope to one day record music for television and get paid for it. I want to compose a choral piece for my women’s choir to sing. I want to write an orchestral symphony or suite.

I celebrate and savor life, delighting in the beauty found in each new day, and practicing gratitude. I practice nonjudgment and self-compassion on hard days and allow myself to feel, and go at my own unique pace. I journal and reach out to friends. I am connecting with old friends and new and building new relationships that are rooted in wholeness, being fully myself.

I am creating art, words, music, and resources for healing, spiritual agency, and wholeness.

I am a yoga teacher, integrated soul mentor, songwriter, and auntie.

IMG_0467

Harmonizing and drawing from my background studying art, music, worship, theology, and yoga, I teach gentle yoga classes and empower women to love their bodies in the present tense.

Interwoven with my passion for social justice, peacemaking, and spiritual agency, preventing spiritual abuse and speaking truth to power, paired with my personal story of awakening, departure from, healing and recovery of spiritual trauma by employing spiritual and personal agency.

Synthesizing contemplative Christian practices to help you live an integrated faith & embodied spirituality, rooted in love, free of religious platitudes, spiritual bypass, or legalism.

I believe deeply that we are not powerless. My desire is that you would feel less broken, more empowered, and discover your own inner wholeness. Loving our bodies is a vital element of a healthy, integrated soul.

IMG_0196

I am just getting started. I have risen from the ashes, and will not be silent.

My sacred calling is to create, nurture, and heal. Making space for other women to embody and integrate their faith, find healing, and embrace the sacredness that is within.

Will you celebrate with me? 

Advertisements

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 

One Year Ago | A Uhaul & Unforced Rhythms

IMG_2599

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.

IMG_2797

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)

IMG_2630

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)

IMG_2715.JPG

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)

image1-2.JPG
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:

IMG_2816

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
E-a-na-na-na, everyone’

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.
 
IMG_0788.PNG

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.

Loved Back to Life: Redemption

n56905082_32011958_7475

I studied music with a calling to lead worship. I was honored to have space to do this for several years. But I was restless. I attempted to get work at churches unsuccessfully for a countless number of years. Countless number of resumes and interviews, just to get my foot in the door. I was willing to settle for anything at that point.

apu angel
Seeking, I spent a year long process applying and joined cru in 2011. While I loved our training, I crashed and burned and still felt out of place as far as gifts and interests went. Support raising was impossible. Broken and hungry for purpose and new direction I moved to chicago on a “mission.”

IMG_1693

My voice was taken away from me. (And I don’t mean my vocal chords). I lost all meaning and purpose in my life. For months I described my state as feeling like an empty carcass. Yeah. I felt like shit. Eventually, my body began speaking to me through anxiety. As we learned this week at retreat, “listen to your body for it knows before you do!” This has been so true in my experience.

lori and sarah W IMG_9433

I found refuge in Greatly Gracious in Chicago. Experiential worship through movement and prayer in stillness and listening. I was loved back to life as I attended weekly classes with Sarah at Greatly Gracious.

I believe the reason God led me to Chicago was to find my way to Sarah’s class that first night and to be rescued. I came back every single week, for two years. That was three years ago. The same year I attended HY Touch training with Jonnie and a month later attended the Soul Care retreat in St Louis with Jill, Laura, and Whitney. That was just the beginning.
IMG_9792
Every single encounter, every person I have met in this Yoga family has spoken LIFE to me.

IMG_0027
LOVED BACK TO LIFE.
img_0008.jpg
Redemption. Are you ready for this?

I have found myself in a worship ministry. A ministry of healing and soul care and holistic ministry. I will speak LIFE and hold space for others.

Quick Christmas (115 of 7)

How’s that for redemption?

I’m still amazed. I can’t wait for the rest. As I dream and step into this next season in great anticipation and HOPE.

18199376_10100756240485370_2765031062018236633_n

Pictured here with some of my LIFEgroup gals who have been just that: LIFE for the past 4 months.

Loved Back to Life

Wild thing IMG_8995
My love for yoga ignited almost immediately. This was taken about a month after I began attending Yoga classes. 

I am celebrating that this past week in April was my Yogiversary!  I began my yoga journey and going to weekly classes three years ago!

YIMG_9435
Early morning yoga, coffee, bonding, and prayer.

midori IMG_9434

The best yoga teachers a girl could dream of, Sarah & Midori.


Greatly Gracious Yoga became my lifeline and place of refuge, my sanctuary. I learned so much about what I was capable physically and became stronger in that way, but also spiritually and emotionally and mentally. I learned to trust my intuition and listen to my body. I experienced the love of God in ways I never had before. I learned to listen in stillness. I became empowered and reclaimed my voice. My view of worship expanded as I observed my yoga teachers leading us in times of worship, with our heart, mind, soul, and strength. In prayer and in devotion. In love and encouragement. In experiencing peace, rest, and hope. In being refreshed and revived. I was loved back to life in that space. For that, I am forever grateful, to Sarah and Midori, Greatly Gracious women. ❤

 

 

lori and sarah W IMG_9433
My Yoga Teacher, Sarah Wheeler of Greatly Gracious Yoga studio in Wicker Park. Big hugs before I moved. 

 

 

 

Rebuilding

_DSC0511 copy_YogaPics

Today was therapy Tuesday & I got some helpful affirmation & insight in our session. Afterward, I made it a point to practice on my mat this evening and flowed on the porch while the sky was painted in bright, vivid colors, the most beautiful pink and gold. I usually just practice for a little bit and very rarely get a savasana in, and I made a point of it considering our material this week was forward folds and relaxation poses. (Savasana included). I didn’t have a lot on my mind as I was practicing and focused on thinking about the muscles and alignment and breathing and counting. (A Sesame Street counting song was in my head, let’s be honest.)

After I finished my practice I realized that I felt so much more open and receptive.  I was astonished because I didn’t realize just how closed I’ve been. It’s one thing to have smart, healthy boundaries and privacy, it’s another thing to be / feel closed. Wow, I knew there was a lot going on headed into therapy today, but this was a new reveal that came after therapy.

IMG_8050blog

I’m not sure where this is going but..it’s going. Most people don’t know that I’m rebuilding my life and that has meant ending a lot of things. After crashing and burning and escaping a very bad situation, and spending the past year practicing spiritual sobriety, and giving myself permission to put a stop to the people and things that were wounding my soul, insulting my soul, and who I was; who I am.

My body & mental health took a huge toll and sent some major warning signals to my brain. It took months to uncover and awaken to the issues that were causing my meltdown, like crashing down from space, meteor status. And just like that, the scales came out of my eyes.

The damage is slow to undo. But my determination to live with hope and get to be myself and pursue the things that light me up, rather than those that for so long weighed me down, suffocating me.

This difficult journey has found me to be a bit spiritually homeless, an outsider, and going through faith shifts and deconstructing and rebuilding and identifying what I believe and what’s truly important to me. Spiritual addiction paired with spiritual and emotional trauma is no joke. I can no longer walk into just any old church and feel safe or at ease. I’m constantly on high alert, & always skeptical. But here I am, rebuilding.

rebuilding2

There are aspects that I still love and connect with, but feel a great amount of tension regarding what the hell to do with it. Music is important and essential part of my life and I’m at a loss for what it could look like to sing again. I think I need to write, but I get so stuck with my less than stellar instrument skills that I feel like there is a missing piece, a collaborator or partner or fellow musician. I don’t know where to sing. I would love to branch out and sing jazz or blues or show tunes, or rock a Sara Bareilles cover band. Being part of the Apollo Choir last year was such an affirmation and reminder that music is such a huge part of what makes me tick.

One thing that I have been able to connect with is theology and studying and pretending I’m in seminary and stuff that I’m reading and beginning to write about on my blog. (So many drafts, you guys.)

Yoga instructor training has been like diving back into church. It’s been challenging material and yet even when I’m kinda iffy about this whole thing I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be and this is my path: Jesus+Yoga.  Tomorrow is my last class before retreat in May and I’m so excited to continue this journey of yoga, and soon teaching yoga, as it’s been such an important part of my own healing journey and getting free. So there ya go, something you didn’t know about me.

IMG_8601blog

 

An Odyssey Moment

 

image2

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.


 

11312982_10100507162833980_1513218690443143256_o
my view from the stage for our first of two performances, with the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra in front of us, in the beautiful University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel

 

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.

Woah.

Like, woooooah.

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.

My Second Yoga Class

1013589_10100178169738780_3998450206976674679_n

April 2014

“I am so amazed that I hear his love so loud and clear during these times. Today he told me he was proud of me. If you even knew…that means pretty much everything. He sings love over me. He delights in me. He is proud of me. oh what an honor to love him back and pursue such love.”

My First Yoga Class

10150799_10100175227534980_1971434339_n

April 2014

“This is my (covert train selfie) and I’m-so-happy-and-relaxed from my first time taking a Greatly Gracious Yoga class – it was a beautiful experience. It was tender and devotional and so kind. [insert pigeon pose here, lol] I love using movement to connect with Jesus. And oh, the sweet reminders of his Love for me. Sarah was wonderful!”