Coming Out of The Shadows

Change….it’s hard. There is so much to it. Overriding uncertainty and fear, being courageous, taking a step, acceptance that you may not be where you want to be, but how are you going to get there if you never begin?

I bought myself a curriculum suggetsted by my therapist called, The Artist’s Way. It is written by Julia Cameron, a screen writer, and it is somewhat of a hands-on classic for blocked artists. Cameron suggests writing three large amounts of “pages” everyday to get un stuck. It doesn’t matter if you are a writer, a musician a painter, a dancer, what ever your art form, the writing is a necessary means to a desired end.

The curriculum was suggested because I needed time to, drain my brain, as my therapist said, but it has been so encouraging to me as I have stepped out in many areas of creativity lately- I highly recommend it to anyone who is afraid to develop those deep desired aspirations.

This is what Cameron says to affirm those afraid to take themselves seriously in any realm of creativity.

“In order to move a way from the realm of the shadows into light of creativity, shadow artists must learn to take themselves seriously. With gentle, deliberate effort, they must nurture their artist child. Creativity is play, but for shadow artists, learning to allow themselves to play is hard work.”

This statement is so true of me! On one hand, I take myself way too seriously, on the other, I haven’t taken my desires, gifts and talents serious enough. On one hand, I have spent literal hours and years, alone, practicing, writing, singing, playing, taking lessons to improve, on the other hand, I have so easily hidden in my fear and have not wanted to step onto center stage using the excuse, “someone is always better than I am.”

A lot has changed in my life over the last four years. A cataclysmic event in my life, cloaked in the appearance of a “bad” thing, actually turned out to be an open door of hope and change in my life. I do not want to discount how, in many ways, it was a hurtful event, to many people because it was. But what are we supposed to do with the shadows of our life? Hide in them? Blame them? Avoid them at all costs? I don’t think so. I think we are to, as Henri Nouwen says, in so many ways, embrace the shadows and the light together. Life is full of both and both are intended to be lessons to us.

The event in my life was a glaring signal that something needed to change. Many things infact needed to change…first, me. I was living a false-self life. I had desires and dreams, but I had for years stuffed them so far down to my toes, thinking they were selfish instead of, ‘desires of my heart’, God had perhaps placed there.

Allowing myself to say, I do not want the next 25 years to be the way the first twenty-five were, was very new for me. It was liberating. I didn’t go about it all the right way, for sure. But when we take actions to grow and change, ripples occur and affect those we surround ourselves with.

I have decided I want to take positive actions that affect myself and the ones I love in a positive way- those are my perimeters after trying to change in a destructive way. It is not easy, change never is, but it doesn’t have the negative ramifications surrounding it like bad choices to change, have.

Just one aspect of this change is found in our new hobby of playing as a family band in local venues. My family has played in worship settings for years, and still continue to. But we have recently created a set list of music, that is meaningful to us as a family, and stepped out to share our love of music together with the community.

We play rock classics, pop songs, jazz and originals that give a back story of the things we have been through as a couple and a family and it has been met with encouragement and huge support. I, for many years, was a drummer for bands. Although I would still sing from, ‘behind the band’, even lead or sing my own songs, I always had the comfort of the first layer of musicians in front of me to keep me in the shadows. I couldn’t see the faces of those we were playing to very easily and that was fine with me!

Coming out of the shadows right now for me means, stepping out in the courage that I have been given something important to say and share. That my life counts, that I have a message and that there are others who need comfort from hearing it. Ultimately, Jesus continues to use my life, bring me out of the shadows and in to all that He has destined for me to be and for me to do. In the process, I am empathetic to others and can comfort others with the comfort I have received. Ultimately, that is what I think shadows were created for. When shadows are exposed to light, you see all the beauty, life and detail that was always laying quietly there all along<3

Leap After Leap in the Dark

In a new year, it is really important to step back and take inventory to see what you have to show for the 12 months you have just lived through. I relate to Agnes De Mille, especially the last year, I have been saying things like,” I am throwing everything at the wall and I am seeing what sticks.” I have been stepping out on a limb, leaping in the dark and walking by….faith.

I have really, courageously, put myself out there. I have written a book about failure and how to recover from it, and that was not with out some repercussions. I not only thought it was the right thing to do, but I thought it was what I must, absolutely do, in an effort to progress with my wholeness and help others with theirs. But because that brings with it a certain vulnerability, I have wrestled with uncertainty as to if I went about it the right way.

I have spoken at church services and events when I have been asked to, knowing that this is the direction I must ultimately blaze, and then wishing I would have said things a different way or didn’t say a particular thing.

I have come up with classes, taken them to different venues and hoped people would sign up. Many times they did. Sometimes they didn’t. I started a new forum and winced when I would walk into the room, hoping I was never the only one who showed up- I never was.

I stepped down from a few roles while picking up new ones. Seizing the opportunity with confidence in one hand and complete unbelief that I am the person speaking or the musician who was asked to play or the employee who now does intakes with patients.

It was a year of great relational tribulation piercing the very tenderest places of my heart. And it was the year that I was convinced there was no stopping now or no sitting down when there was only one way to get to the other side of my,’ living just under my potential,’ that I have put up with for far too long in my life.

I have fiercely loved when I would have rather, easily, been apathetic and I have seen the fruit that is born when you keep loving and keep forgiving.

It was a year of joy, tears, wrestling with myself and God, surrender, struggle, surrender again and fruition.

A year of leaping in the dark, getting bruised and leaping again. My mouth is quieter. My ears listen better. My feeble knees are getting stronger and my thigh muscles are becoming more defined. And, despite the dark, I am seeing more acutely and have made friends with, not completely knowing.

Thank you for reading. Blessings to you today and in your new year.

Many Emotions Can Emerge At Christmas

Understanding that Christmas-time can bring a host of conflicting emotions, we pray this over each of you today.

Jesus said, I am the Light of the World, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life.

Blessings to each of you, in His Mighty Name, by the Power He gives in His Spirit. Merry Christmas from Honest Aromas.

A Letter Written To A Student With Cancer and The Meaning of Christmas.

The other day I got a call from the teacher’s aide in my son’s English class. Mrs. Allman, this is a good call, she began. Whew, I said! After several years in a formal school setting, we have had our share of bad calls concerning our autistic son.

She proceeded with the intent of her call which was to read me a letter our son wrote that day in class. The class was given the assignment of writing letters to a local student who has terminal cancer and whose Christmas wish it was to receive letters from other students. She told me how our son eagerly grabbed his paper and pencil and began writing away, when other students were at a loss for where to begin.

The above image is a sampling of that letter. After I sat listening and crying, I thanked the aide for the call and encouragement that she said she gave to our son. Our son, who struggles with his relationship with God, who struggles with, “why doesn’t God always answer my prayers?” Who struggles with the unseen and intangibles. This son, wrote a letter of faith and hope to another young man, about an unseen God who heals and cares, exposing his own tender heart in the process.

His faith, as faltering as I have witnessed it to be, is still extended as hope to one who is in need of it. I guess my son and I are more alike than I was aware and I see myself in this recent scenario.

This is the true meaning of Christmas even if we cannot understand it fully. Jesus was born, God’s gift to humanity, extending the light of the world to dark places and broken people.

“Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior, yes, the Messiah, the Lord- has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace to people on earth” Luke 2:10,14

It is the now and not yet kingdom that God set up on the shoulders of Jesus Christ. We bear witness to some of it while we live this life, but we wait with expectancy for the day when He will reign and rule with loving kindness and justice. We look for the day when light will over power the darkness, when broken things will all be made whole and when sickness and cancer will be forgotten terms.

Until then, we extend hope and faith to ourselves and others even when we fail to see the witness of it. No fear, good news, great joy, glory and peace to you all today, amen.

What Is Your Drug Of Choice?

fall acorns

Photo by Gabrielle Allman

I am so thankful, on this fall morning, for the peace and freedom that I am experiencing right now! I have been writing a book and have a deadline for the end of December. It is my story of recovering from an addictive, life altering event.

I have written my journey, in part, on this forum for over three years now. But in the wake of this particular event of my life, I took months off of life, to spend time with The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I needed to emotionally heal and I am grateful to my family that I was able to do that. My wish and prayer is that every person could have that space of time to recover from what ever trauma they have experienced and I would love to be a facilitator of that in the future, in a greater way than I am presently.

During that time I wrote out scriptures, some quite artistically, and literally plastered my home with them. They would be in front of my face and I would read them, speak them and meditate on them all day. Yesterday, I had the privilege of reacquainting with a woman who had been at my home during the time of my renewal.  She said she will never forget seeing  those scriptures attached to my walls. She said that she used the bathroom while she was at my home and spent time just reading the verses that were attached to the mirror in there. She too had been entangled in something and God was using the means of renewing my mind, to shed light into her darkness as well. This is the ultimate power that is greater than any other pull of the world, but we have to apprehend it.

Our mind is a magnificent created universe with tremendous pathways that can be re directed. I had built unhealthy ruts in my mind through addictive behaviors and they needed to be rewired and healed.

Romans 12:2  says; Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.

I had conformed to the pattern of the world and it was downright painful to pull out all of that construction and rebuild, but God had encouraged me on with every Word that He spoke through His Word to me. Jesus became very real and tangible. During that time He pulled down the strongholds of caring what others thought about me, he delivered me from depression and He showed me, so intimately, who I am in Him.

Another scripture that I wrote down in addition to Romans 12:2, was 1 Peter 1:13.

Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

This passage speaks of doing what ever it takes to focus our thoughts on those things that allow us to serve God successfully, all the while eliminating any thoughts that would trip us up. The Hebrew idea was, to pull up long robes and tie them around the waist so that quick and freeing movement could be made.

Are there things that are tripping you up? Do you feel as if you can never get free from the things that bind you and set you back? Do you have dark corners of your heart that you hide from everyone in the world? I did too. God knows, He sees, and His response is always love. No one loves or cares about you more than Him. His plan is for you to reflect His glory and be His light to others in the darkness of the world. Jesus offers Himself to you right now. He is the way, the truth and the life. I did not only say that, He said that about Himself. (John 14:6) Whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life. (John 8:12) It is the most freeing, spiritual and adventurous journey you can ever take.

He cares about your life, your soul, your spirit  and your eternity and so do I.  He is here for you right this minute, again, no matter how many times you have tried and failed. Ask Him to forgive you and renew your mind and set all of your hope on His grace to you. Make Him your obsession and aim. I am right here with you walking this path of wholeness and I am so thankful for the opportunity.