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.

How To Deal With Anxiety….and Everything Else!

Yesterday I had the privilege of working a long side (my husband, pictured here:), but also, another very gifted and intellectual man, Dr. John Neyman. The seminar was held at Cornerstone Church of Clarion who warmly and authentically welcomed us to share. John wrote a book called; “The Neyman Strategy”, out of his life long career of counseling people with various issues, namely, anxiety. He shared the information from that book and more, in his seminar, “A Day Of Grace”.

If you get the chance to schedule this doctor of Theology, Psychology and Behavioral Specialist in a town near you, which I highly recommend, my husband and I will most likely be supplying the music for the event and sharing a bit about our story.

Dr. Neyman’s over arching theme is; change your thinking, change your life. His passion comes from his own life journey, where he walked in dark trenches himself and met God there. That led him on a path of faith and a voracious desire to become educated in every way so that he could grow and help others.

He shared many stories of the transformations that happened in seemingly hopeless cases. He once asked the City Of Pittsburgh to give him their most difficult behavioral case, and they did! It didn’t happen over night, but freedom eventually came to the tormented person who others would have written off.

God says in His Word in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Science backs up God’s Word for this! In recent years, the neuroscience field has proven that new neural pathways can be created when we meditate on positive, life giving thoughts and subsequent actions.

One of the strategies that Dr. John teaches in his book and at his seminar is, meditating on scripture for 7 minutes a day in 1-minute increments.

We are given second, third, forth, chances when we apprehend this tool! How am I so certain? Well, God did this very thing for me after I came through a great challenge and subsequent failure. I could have been left in depression and in the bondage of guilt and shame, but God lead me by His grace into His path of light and life. I wrote about this journey in my book; That’s Not Who You Are.

The very method of renewal that Dr. John spoke about for hours yesterday, is the same method I used to recover from failure. I spent hours and days, studying scripture, meditation on it, writing it down, writing songs and blogs about it, speaking it, memorizing it, trusting it, and trusting God- not my circumstances. It transformed me. It didn’t happen in a minute, it wasn’t the microwaved, drive-through version, it was deep, wide and continues to sustain me.

I was able to share a bit about that at yesterday’s seminar and connect with people who have been touched by the pain of hopelessness. I share how God is a God of hope, second chances and new life! I share how God made Himself so real and intimate to me in such a dark time of my life. How He brought others to surround me along the way as I surrendered my control to Him.

If that is not the God you know, I invite you to rediscover Him again, through His son, Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and He does not disappoint! No matter what you are going through, addiction, depression, anxiety, loneliness, failure…He has every answer and has given us the tools to illuminate our lives. There is nothing that you could have ever done or do, that He will not welcome you with open arms when you come to Him for help. He delights in mercy.

It is to Him, I am grateful to have the privilege and the honor to work with and along side so many amazing people<3

To inquire about a Dr. John Neyman event, call: 724-712-9449

Autism, Birthdays, Mistakes and Inhalers

20181107_081310.jpg

My son is autistic. It has been one heck of a ride! Mostly the ride has been within myself, learning to accept, be flexible and be open to a new normal. It has taken almost fourteen years and I have by no means arrived.

 Having a birthday party for him was something I swore off a few years ago…and Oh Buddy, how I did swear!! One does not always know what is going on in that beautiful mind and if you go left when he wants to go right, watch out!  I couldn’t take any more tantrums in front of friends, leaving his friends sitting at the table because they ate their cake before he had the first bite or rude comments about the presents he didn’t like and the list is endless.  It is just too stressful….for me. Does that sound selfish? Maybe it is but I think I have a better grasp on my humanity and what I am able handle peacefully.

He started planning his party 2 months ago. I see him maturing in many ways. He has no problem communicating his need for more freedom and less parental control. I didn’t handle that very well when our oldest son communicated the same things to us at the same age, but I see my error in that now. I want to help raise confident, think for your self, respectful and God fearing men-so I can appreciate his hormones and intrinsic make up better than I used to appreciate his brothers’!

No person on earth has more tested, tried, exasperated or challenged this writer, than this particular son. He makes me want to hit the escape button on my emotional hand held and I sometimes  ponder if space from each other would’n’t be a good idea. I don’t know the answer to that but I do know, he is exposing many things within myself.

As I grow deeper in union with Christ, I have found this to be true. That the people and the situations in our lives that are cataclysmic to us in someway, are the very doors of hope that God has purposed. That can look a lot of ways, can’t it? It can look like the accident,the unplanned pregnancy, the lost dreams, the divorce, the illicit relationship, the addiction or the communication break down, just to name a few. God is standing there, purposing good through it, what ever it is. His hope and future for our good, in the pressure, in the refining and in the heat.  When you are aware of it, your eyes are opened! He wants to do something in us and through us. Ultimately, He wants us to so know how loved, accepted, forgiven and pleasing we are to Him- so that knowledge is given freely to others no matter how they behave, acknowledge or appreciate us.

I am getting ready for a big Aromatherapy event this weekend and in my busyness,  I made a mistake while blending some inhalers. I see that I am maturing a bit too. I just looked at the cartridges and asked, what shall I do with you now? Ginger, Lavender, Frankincense and Bergamot…. the blend lent itself to calming anxiety and reducing stress…perfect! I will give one to each of the special boys who are coming to the birthday party tonight and give one to my son and myself! A mistake turned into a blessing! That is what they are all intended to be. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone who surrounds us as well.

Thank you for reading, I really do appreciate it. I am right here walking this path of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today.

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.

 

 

Meet Me In A Forgotten Corner Of My Heart

20180929_150043.jpg

Be Still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I love you…that I hold you in the palm of my hand…that I have counted the hairs on your head…that you are the apple of my eye…that your name is written in my heart…”Do not be afraid it is I.”

There is nothing in us that needs to be hidden from God’s love. Our guilt …our shame…our fear…our sins…He wants to see it, touch it, hear it…and make Himself known. There is no other God than the Lord of Love.

Be still and know that I am God. God is not in the storm, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the still, small voice , the gentle breeze, and the sheer silence…

Be still and know that I am God. Take these words with you in the week to come…let them be like a little seed planted in the good soil of your heart and let it grow…

Be still and know that I am God.                                                                  – Henri Nouwen

There Was A Traveler

forest-road

There was a traveler who at first saw nothing of the light that was shining in the wood

After a while the thought moved softly-“I am with you all the days and all the day long”.

But just as a flower never presses it’s sweetness upon anyone but freely gives to him who desires it, and to him as often as he will,

So that thought of peace did not force itself upon the traveler,

and yet it did offer to his lips a cup of healing.

And then, but how it came to be so has never yet been told,

the gloom of the darkness was gone,

the light in the wood shone forth,

and the glory thereof.                                                                                       – Amy Carmichael