Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Be still, and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God.
It seems simple... But how challenging is it to take this SERIOUSLY?!?! How much do I contribute to my own suffering by getting caught up in my own goals only to have the rug pulled out from underneath me?! And then I find myself kneeling, resting on the flow of grace, doing God's work.

Being still is counter cultural. However it is consistently my path.  Be still and let the Spirit MOVE. Take action steps when necessary, but do so rested on the flow of the Creator. I might want to do any number of things (snow shoe, hike, take extra classes, go sledding, and the list goes on.....) But when I do MY WILL, my health suffers.

I dodged a bullet this week. My body appears to be OK after the ER visit a week ago. It's possible that I'm having adrenal trouble - adrenal glands can atrophy after being on Prednisone... And this can be very dangerous. But here's the blessing...The doc is NOT going to put me back on steroids thank God!  That said, Im on a short leash. I need to go slow, get lots of rest and let my adrenals heal. I'm not sure what that means in terms of what I WANT (including horse riding, school, etc)... But I'm clear that my only job at this moment is to BE STILL and get out of God's way. This is usually when the really cool ministry work emerges. And so I shall stay humble and open.

Blast from the Past

I just had the most amazing phone call from my former life! A member of the board of directors I used to serve on called me today saying they were recruiting a vice president of sales and marketing.... And they thought of me. It's been almost 6 years since the accident!  It's so strange to feel so comfortable in my current life, and then to remember what my life used to be like.

When I last spent time with this board of directors I was married, it was before the accident, and my daughter was only 8 weeks old on the first flight down there. I was nursing during session breaks, staying up all night with my screaming baby, and working all day in DC.

In my life now, I'm deeply committed to Ministry, my healing journey, my theological studies, my art and my job as a single parent... it's hard to imagine what my life used to be like. Following the call isn't an easy path. It certainly doesn't come with the glamour of my former life. But every now and then it's important for me to remember what I've done on the path to where I am now and where I'm going. It's all still me and all still a part of who I am, I just keep growing!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Awakening the Feminine: STEVIE NICKS

Awakening the Feminine...continuing to illuminate powerful female is STEVIE NICKS and the song STAND BACK.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Awakening the Feminine: Marianne Williamson

Today I'm illuminating a brilliant quote from Marianne Williamson.  I carried this with me every day of my life after it was given to me by a dear friend.  As i grow older, I'm coming to realize the power of this message.  As women, we will be told to play small, avoid offending others, speak softly, make less money, and so on....lest we offend the men in our lives.  No! We are all born to make manifest the glory of God within.  It's courageous to live into the one said it would be easy.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Awakening the Feminine: Hildegard of Bingham and VIRIDITAS

Day two of illuminating powerful feminine voices - Hildegard of Bingham and VIRIDITAS!

Here is an excerpt from a Patheos article about St. Hildegard: 
"One of the fundamental principles of Hildegard's worldview is viriditas, which means the "greening power of God." But even more than that, it refers to a lushness and fecundity in the world, a greening life force we can witness in forests and gardens and farmland. Hildegard, who lived in the valley around the river Rhine in Germany, was profoundly impacted by her witness to the profusion of greenness and how this green life energy was a sign of abundance and life. It is what sustains and animates us."

AWAKENING the Feminine: Featuring Maya Angelou, "And Still I Rise"

Until the election, I am going to post daily images of powerful women....women that I can look up to in the midst of one of the most triggering political seasons I've ever experienced. Many of these women have survived the horror of suffering, only to emerge strengthened THROUGH the vulnerability.
Today I begin with Maya Angelou, Still I Rise.

This season, I have grown tired of hearing about the masculine perspective on rape, assault, and sexual abuse...I am weary after observing the way that men and women tear each other down in the midst of disagreement. The narrative lacks feminine wisdom. As a budding theologian, a mother, an artist, and woman survivor, I am more interested in the those individuals throughout history who have risen above the suffering to forge their own path rooted in the feminine. These are the LOVING and STRONG voices that I choose to illuminate.

NOTE: This is not a political move in support on Hillary Clinton. I do not support any political candidate. This is a much bigger statement about the power of awakening the FEMININE voice. It's lacking in our culture. It's YIN in a society built upon YANG. It's the quiet of contemplation in a world focused on words. It's silence amidst the noise.

Still I Rise
Maya Angelou, 1928 - 2014
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Embodied Transformation

"In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer." Albert Schweitzer

It's easy to say that I am fascinated by transformation. It is another thing entirely to embody change.

I recently posted something by Richard Rohr that articulated my theology quite well. In it, he discussed the fact that the path of descent is necessary in order to KNOW what it means to ascend. We humans prefer to enjoy the light without having to walk through the pain of darkness. It is interesting, though, to observe that we can only come to know light by also coming to know darkness. This is the paschal mystery. It is the paradox of faith.

I have gone through many of these transformations in my life, but the last 5.5 years since I got the TBI has been filled with opportunities for rebirth. I have come to realize that like the Phoenix, this is a part of my formation for ministry. It is a terrifying walk into the unknown, with absolute trust in God every step of the way.

While i was coming off of Prednisone, I was reading Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard. He discusses the story of Abraham in the context of the present moment. More specifically, he encourages us to imagine what it would be like to walk for three days with the knowledge that he had been asked to sacrifice his own son. Looking at the story retrospectively, one might see the lesson - it was a test. However, it really isn't that simple. When viewed in the context of the present moment, it was a horrific journey into the unknown with reliance on God every step of the way (literally). In the end, Isaac lived. We know that now, but try to imagine what the days would have been like leading up to that moment?

The walk into the unknown is filled with grace, precisely because it is filled with suffering. For the first time in 5 years, I experienced the pain of becoming unrecognizable in the mirror. I've only experienced this once before, and that was in the immediate aftermath of my TBI. My husband at the time was supportive until 6 months had passed, and then time ran out. "You are not the woman I fell in love with anymore. I mean, look at you." The cruelty was shocking.

Fast forward 5 years, and I was once again looking at an unknown person in the mirror. It happened so fast, propelled by a terrible reaction to Prednisone. Once again, I had to face friends, family, and loved ones without the ability to hide the messiness of my health condition. Once again, I was terrified of being abandoned...but I wasn't. That's the point! I was given the opportunity to heal the wounds of my past by being loved THROUGH the mess. Furthermore, I discovered a power that was so far beyond me, as I struggled to carry out basic activities of daily living. I learned that it is the energy of GOD that moves me. The trick is to learn to listen to this energy in daily life, without having to be on my knees in order to pay attention.

This brings me to the pictures. It is difficult for me to look at the images of myself from this summer. However, in hindsight, I can see that the experience changed me for the better. Learning to trust LOVE again. Letting go of vanity. Empathizing with those that live outside, as they cannot hide the mess of life. Deepening my understanding of grace. Discovering that I can keep walking even in the midst of great difficulty. Resting on God.

I am still changing, but I no longer view it as "getting back" to where I was before the events of the summer. No. I have been transformed once again through the path of descent. Now I must integrate the experience into my continued journey forward. Slow and steady, continuing to self-empty so that the Call becomes that much more clear.

The first photograph is a picture of me right before I suddenly lost my hearing in July of this year. They thought it was a condition called "sudden hearing loss," so I was given large doses of Prednisone. It turned out that it was a complex migraine.

The second photograph was taken in late August, when I was swollen from excess cortisol as a side effect of Prednisone. My body couldn't handle being on the medication, but getting off of it seemed nearly impossible as I suffered from terrible withdrawl side effects. It took a special team effort between the UW Headache Clinic, my Neuro-endocrinologist, a Neuro-otologist and my Dysautonomia specialist (Neurologist) to rapidly get me off of this toxic drug. My face was a mere reflection of the chaos inside my body, with blood pressure through the roof (normally low) and a resting pulse of 115. The more I reduced the medicine, the more my blood pressure and pulse increased. I was close to being hospitalized. My neurologist said that it was the worst reaction he'd ever seen.

Just 6 weeks after stopping the Prednisone, this last picture was taken.

As I said in the beginning, it is easy to say that I am fascinated by transformation. It is another thing to embody it. Each time I walk this road, however, I come back better and stronger with a deeper understanding of what it means to walk with God.

"Speak God, thy humble servant is listening." - Samuel 3:10

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Integrating the "OLD" Me

New Blog Post
Today I did something new (well, new for my life post TBI). I stepped outside of my comfort zone into a leadership role in group process, which placed me back in the old shoes of my former CEO life…yet it was fundamentally different because I am different now.

Over my last few years of my theological program at Seattle University - Masters of Divinity - I have known that I would be eventually returning to a leadership role in the form of ministry. That said, I have been frightened to step out in "front" because I feel a strong sense of humility in walking "alongside" others in their journeys – especially those that are in the midst of suffering. I generally prefer to stay on the margins, alongside the unseen.

Taking that a step further, I often struggle to find the words necessary to communicate the complexity of my thinking in the moment. This has gotten easier with time, and I felt that today was an opportunity to step back into the role of facilitator, with humility and the faith that the words will come if/when needed.

In preparation, I painted, wrote poetry, meditated on the material, and spent a great deal of time contemplating the mind-scrambling musings of Kierkegaard in both Repetition and Fear and Trembling. Truthfully, however, this is what I do every time I read the original writings of great theologians. The rabbit holes that my brain went down in response to Kierkegaard often felt challenging to communicate, therefore the art work gave me an image that was both experiential (in creating it) and visual in preparation for class.

While my perfectionistic tendencies were lurking in the background, I allowed myself to just relax into the role. Truthfully, this was my biggest accomplishment today - an imperfect willingness to step into the role of imperfect facilitator…and in this sense…reintegrating a part of myself that I have not been able to access for quite some time.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Dare to be REAL

The following is an excerpt from a fantastic blog entry! Click below to read the entire piece titled: "Showing Up Whole, Despite all the Risks."

"In Elizabeth Lesser’s new memoir, Marrow, she writes, “Human beings learn in strange and broken ways.” Ironically, our wholeness is a product of that broken learning. Without sharing the part of us that has been shattered, or is unpopular, or invisible, we lose out on our potential to teach just by being who we are."

View complete blog post - OnBeing

Monday, August 29, 2016

My Honest Struggle

I'm off the prednisone. Major accomplishment.. Today i went for a horse walk and achieved my fitbit step goal of 7000 steps.  I'm slowly increasing it.  I also had energy for the first time since stopping...and slept through the night for the first time last night.  All progress! 

But here's my honest struggle.  i had it happen again where i didn't recognize myself in the mirror.  No idea why i was more swollen today than yesterday....and on top of it, i have some clogged eye pore thing that makes my eye look weird.  Awesome.  Thankfully i caught it early.

Truthfully... i thought I'd get off the prednisone and return to normal overnight. That sounds silly to say, but it's kind of true. I mean...the swelling happened overnight!

But now I'm putting the journey into perspective and attempting to ask the bigger questions.  How am i to LOVE myself through this part of the journey?  How am i to let others LOVE me when all I want to do is hide. 

I talk about being body positive....but this is badass.

If you don't know about prednisone and weight, here's a good synopsis about changes to ones appearance:

"Steroids affect your metabolism and how your body deposits fat. This can lead to weight gain, and in particular lead to extra deposits of fat in your abdomen (and face). Don't let weight gain damage your self-esteem. Know that the weight will come off - and your stomach return to its normal size - relatively easily in the six months to a year after you discontinue steroids."

Awesome. So the journey continues. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016


"A woman cannot make the culture more aware by saying 'Change' but she can change her own attitude towards herself thereby causing devaluing projections to glance off. She does this by taking back her body. By not forsaking the joy of her natural body. By not purchasing the popular illusion that happiness is only bestowed on those of a certain configuration of age, by not waiting or holding back to do anything, and by taking back her real life and living it full bore, all stops out. The dynamic self acceptance and self-esteem are what begins to change attitudes and culture."

Women who run with the wolves. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Original art by Heather Thompson Blue Phoenix Art
I Am Human

Mixed Media on Woodboard

Migraine Slides and Book Recommendation

For those interested in learning more about how the brain behaves after a concussive incident, or for those that deal with chronic conditions like fibromayalgia, etc....This is the book I was told to get. You can download it onto a Kindle. Title: "Stahl's Illustrated Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia"

And, here are the slides that I was shown yesterday at the UW headache clinic.

It's a fascinating issue of "brain energy" and having the right "stuff" to manage body systems. It's remarkable that the entire body is affected by the brain - yet, in medicine, we treat them all as separate. FINALLY someone is putting the pieces together. Note that I did an art piece on this and donated it to Harborview a while back. I suppose my journey is now finally catching up to the intuitive wisdom I had back then.

Letting Go, Self Emptying, Kenosis

Letting go of perfectionism and other people's opinions is badass....but necessary as a part of the self-emptying required for ministry - also known as Kenosis.

"Kenosis" is derived from the Greek word "kenoo" which means "to empty."

What God wants is not always the same as what I think I want and what other humans might want from me. I learned this when I finally had the courage to say "NO" and it effectively ended my marriage. I continue to learn to become empty in the context of my physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual journey. Just like painting, becoming a vessel requires letting go and allowing myself to follow the gentle nudges. My will/ego/desires often gets in the way. It's only when I am willing to totally let go - even if it means "destroying a painting" - that I can notice the Spirit move. And as many great theologians have stated, it is often the chaos and mess that precedes the breakthrough. One must allow it to happen.

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Phil. 2:5-8).
Note that the painting below went through MANY layers of total chaos before it finally emerged completed. It's the only one I have ever done like it....
"Transformation: Inside the Rainbow Chrysalis"
36 x 36 Acrylic on Stretched Canvas

Friday, August 19, 2016

Let the Migraine Healing Begin!

I have written recently about the episode of sudden hearing loss (and prednisone treatment) that has consumed much of my summer with health challenges. Today, I learned that my original hearing loss was a migraine. And that once again, I am suffering from chronic migraines. And the best part is - I can turn this around. Let the healing journey begin!

I was fortunate enough (I still don't know how it happened) to be able to meet with one of the few headache specialists in a 6-state area. Literally, I got in the next day (most people wait months). I suppose they were concerned about my symptoms!

Here's lesson number 1: Many say that they specialize in migraines, but this woman is the ONLY doctor actually educated specifically to manage them. Here is her information:

The UW Headache Clinic engages in holistic care. Having worked in care coordination for my entire career prior to the TBI 5 years ago, I must say that I was beyond impressed. At the same time, I felt sad that I didn't know about this resource. In fact, I thought that I was seeing a headache/migraine specialist for the last few years - although he knew headaches, and he did good work for me, he wasn't specialized in headache medicine.

That's the first "aha" I wanted to write about - not all neurologists are created equal. In neurology, they have their specialties. I have one Neuro-endocrinologist, a Neurotologist, a Neurologist that is nationally recognized for Dysautonomia (the only one on the West Coast) and now a Neurologist specializing in Migraines. All of these docs know each other and work together - and it's essential that they each weigh in because all of the conditions are inter-related!

So here's Lesson #2: It turns out that the brain suffers a massive "loss of energy" after a concussion. People start to experience chronic headaches along with the symptoms of dysautonomia. I will write more about what I learn on this journey after I read the book that was suggested. Needless to say, it's complicated and I am getting a crash course in some complex neurology.

In the mean time, I will share this - migraines and dysautonomia can be turned around. The problem is that so few doctors know what to do about it! I feel compelled to write about my experience on this road so that others can learn....because not everyone has access to this information. Note that this is only my experience - it's not medical take what you like and leave the rest!

OK, here's the last Lesson from today...
Lesson #3: Feverfew! OMG this is so simple! I woke up with a migraine. Even with vicoden and valium, it didn't totally relieve the symptoms. The headache doc said I needed to start taking Feverfew and Magnesium three times a day. Within a couple of hours of taking the first dose today, the migraine was GONE. I don't mean slightly gone, I mean clarity like what I would get after taking an immitrex (which is not an option for me right now due to co-occurring heart rate issues from dysautonomia). You can purchase Feverfew on Amazon or at the local nutrition store. Amazing. Easy. Worth it.

I will write more as I discover more. But today begins a journey that feels almost like a new birth. I am swollen from the prednisone and weaning off of it. The side effects are terrible as I attempt to peel away the steroid from a system that already struggles to find balance (that's dysautonomia). But, I always come back stronger. I already do acupuncture, cranial sacral, horse therapy, art therapy, and meditation (all while studying theology) to manage all of this. Now, though, I have a new perspective...and I am thrilled to integrate it into my picture of wellness. Ultimately, everything I do is in service of God, helping those living outside, and finding my theological voice in the wake of the injury that changed my life.

Stay tuned for more information about the healing journey, along with art, theology, and all of the other things that I enjoy writing about!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Today's journey

Today's journey....quite simple really....quit coffee and drop the prednisone by another 5mg.  Note that every 5mg drop is the equivalent of an entire human replacement dose of steroid for people without functioning adrenals. 

The good news is that my BP is coming down.  My heart rate is a runaway train tho...and we are watching it. And I'm still swollen like the blueberry girl on Willy Wonka....that'll go down soon.  But this is the mess of transformation.  Through this experience, i have learned to be REAL in ways i never thought possible.  And I've learned to rely on the movement of God to power my ministry, instead of the driving will that taps into my life force- that was my old way as a CEO.  And I've learned that even in the midst of their own suffering, my homeless friends want to make sure that I'm ok....think about that for a moment.....such GRACE.  i may not always like the way i learn...but I'm willing....because this is the Call.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

THIS - It's KENOSIS - SUFFERING THE DIVINE - Pouring forth one's own will to experience the will of God.
"There is a teaching that says that behind all hardening and tightening and rigidity of the heart, there’s always fear. But if you touch fear, behind fear there is a soft spot. And if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky. You find that which is ineffable, ungraspable, and unbiased, that which can support and awaken us at any time." - Pema Chadron

Art - Rising Courage 2

Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art

VIDEO - Creativity is Divine

Facing Homelessness - LOVE TRANSFORMS

Today, thanks to the generosity of this new community, I had the pleasure of dropping off much needed supplies to Les. As soon as I saw him, I wanted to just reach out and hug him (and I did)!!! He was vibrant - with a fresh hair cut and new clothes and a glimmer in his eyes. He told me how wonderful the people have been coming to visit and bring food/water. He expressed incredible joy at finally feeling like he has a path to move forward - he said he felt HOPE. I could see it in his eyes!
That's when I handed him the gas cards he needed, along with a grocery card. And because of the generosity of all of you, I told him to let me know when he needs more...and I can provide it for him. I also gave him a full hygiene kit for both Les and Mary Ann including soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary pads, shampoo and razors. A meal was included, along with cliff bars and an entire package of bottled water. His reaction was one of leaping joy! He told me that his phone is all connected, and he is making progress on the situation that involves the former landlord.
It's amazing what LOVE can do. Thank you to everyone who contributed!! I will keep you all informed.
Read the full story below - and please LIKE this page! LOVE Matters.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Finished! I prepared this for my course work focused on God and the Sacred. This is my latest compilation video documenting the theological exploration of EMERGENCE through art. Enjoy!

The Antidote is the Venom

I was given the gift of this Rumi poem today in an incredibly POWERFUL cranial sacral session.

"The antidote is in the venom." -Rumi

Prednisone.  Learning. Swelling. Transforming. True self.  Not hiding even as my body feels poisoned and swollen from the steroids.  It's all badass courage preparing me for the Call.

The Root of the Root of Your Self

Don’t go away, come near.
Don’t be faithless, be faithful.
Find the antidote in the venom.
Come to the root of the root of yourself.

Molded of clay, yet kneaded
from the substance of certainty,
a guard at the Treasury of Holy Light —
come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

Once you get hold of selflessness,
You’ll be dragged from your ego
and freed from many traps.
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

You are born from the children of God’s creation,
but you have fixed your sight too low.
How can you be happy?
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

You were born from a ray of God’s majesty
and have the blessings of a good star.
Why suffer at the hands of things that don’t exist?
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

You are a ruby embedded in granite.
How long will you pretend it’s not true?
We can see it in your eyes.
Come to the root of the root of your Self.

You came here from the presence of that fine Friend,
a little drunk, but gentle, stealing our hearts
with that look so full of fire; so,
come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

Our master and host, Shamsi Tabrizi,
has put the eternal cup before you.
Glory be to God, what a rare wine!
So come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

The Badass Journey of Self LOVE

There is a scene in the movie "What about Bob" that captures my seminary journey. In it, Bob experiences "death therapy." He is exposed to his deepest fear, and he moves beyond it. Theologically, we call this "non-being" and "facing finitude."

So, I think about this scene often, and especially in the last couple of weeks. I have written about the fact that I have been struggling with health issues this summer. Sudden hearing loss. Dysautonomia. Now weaning off of prednisone. I haven't struggled this much since I had the traumatic brain injury in 2011. Yet, it has been balanced by the most incredible gifts. I have continued to walk through school even in the midst of discomfort. I have allowed other people to see me going through the challenge - no hiding. And my work in ministry continues to THRIVE - perhaps now more than ever before.

But the transformation comes with it's own version of "death therapy" - in other words, the things that make me feel like I am standing on scary ground.

OK, sounds silly, but I might get my first B since i was a freshman in college (Calculus). And before that it was 7th grade (Shop). I could end up getting a C this quarter. I have no clue. It could be an A when all of my final projects are in. The truth is...I have no idea. NON-BEING! HA!

But seriously... grades have been a source of compulsion for me for much of my life only to be replaced by the "gold stars" that come with high work performance. Don't even get me started on how i went through my last two years as an undergrad....just to hear the computer say "congratulations". only heard "STARman" (University of Washington) say CONGRATULATIONS when you got a 4.0. Confession - I got addicted to it.

I know it seems silly, but we all have our things. Grades are one of the big ones. The other is my body. I have talked about having an eating disorder before on this blog. It started so simple - a comment by my boyfriend at the time that he didn't like my body. He said it in a way that was cruel, angry, and devastating. Truthfully, he was having his own body issues - a muscled guy eating 1200 calories a day to lose weight rapidly because he was dissatisfied with his appearance. At the time, I weighed 126 pounds. I was healthy, but I was turning into a woman. I didn't look 16 any more.

When we got married, we lived under the paradigm that I needed to lose weight. Note that my wedding dress had a 26.5 inch waist. Shortly after the wedding, we signed up with a top personal trainer and nutritionist. My trainer was a former Marine Drill Sergeant. He taught me how to train for hours and hours in the gym bootcamp style. I kept my calories restricted. I dropped to 14% body fat. It took me years to finally learn what was happening - Anorexia. Exercise Bulimia. Orthorexia. In total, I spent 15 years like this.

Throughout the entire process, I received the external validation that I craved. People constantly told me how amazing I looked...yet it wasn't REAL. My health was deteriorating. I had to get my gall bladder out due to rapid weight loss. I developed hypoglycemia. My metabolism was shot. I had chronic neck and back injuries from over-training...and more....

But then I got an injury to my brain. This is the kind of injury that brings veterans and professional athletes to their knees. I went up to 200 pounds after the injury because my hypothalamus was affected, and there was NOTHING I could do about it. The intellect that I relied upon for external validation in the form of grades (and subsequently work performance) was no longer the same. No one knew when I would be "better" or even if I would ever recover. No one is prepared for that kind of walk into the unknown. Talk about "death therapy." This is facing NON BEING at it's finest.

After a few months, my husband told me he didn't love me any more and that our marriage was fundamentally broken. Rock bottom. But that was where the truth emerged. I am lovable - fundamentally, completely, lovable just existing on this planet. There is absolutely nothing about me that needs to be a "certain way." I found my anchor. It was no longer about other people's opinions or external validation - it was about God. As a child of God, I have inherent value. And if I have that value, so do others - even and especially those on the margins. Thus began my walk into the Call of God - and I have since learned that my walk is with people undergoing transformation...people in the mess of life...people experiencing great suffering....people that don't want to be SEEN in it, but there is nothing they can do about it.

Letting go of the idolotry of other people's opinions is a badass journey. It's easy to just say that I just don't care about what other people think. But it's not a switch that can be turned off. Just like every other part of me, I just love the part of myself that yearns for acceptance, LOVE, appreciation, validation. It is in that yearning and in the unmet needs that God pours out God's grace. It's like Augustine said - "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, Oh God."

Being so willing to relentlessly follow the Call of God that I am willing to let go of EVERYTHING is where my happiness resides now. This is the concept of self-emptying, and it allows me to follow the nudges of the Spirit when it moves.

Thus, I am going through another transformation. I will be honest - It is frightening to me. My body is swollen from prednisone and I don't recognize myself when I look in the mirror. My intellect is also rewiring also, as I develop new ways of thinking and processing theological information. My ability to perform academically has been challenged for sure. Yet, this is how I am called to walk through the world at the moment - exposed - for everyone to see.

This is my "What About Bob" moment. And the question is...Am I willing to let go of external validation and allow God to work?

I say Yes to God.

We all have a path to walk. This is mine. And I finally have the courage to post some photos from these times in my life. Shining a light for everyone to see is a part of my ministry. It is with an abundance of courage that I shine a light on this.

Photo taken last week reaching out to some homeless friends.
Following GOD's CALL now.
These are my people. This is my CHURCH.
In the midst of my eating disorder.
Back then, I thought I still needed to
lose weight.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Contemplation - Life is Movement

I have been contemplating that Life is Movement as we move forward through (or exist within as some might think) the kenosis (or self-emptying) of God. This was beautifully captured by the above video showing the vortex of the solar system moving through space. And it got me thinking - how much of human suffering and pain is caused by our lack of willingness to allow the energy to move? Of course, this doesn't account for EVIL in the world (that's a different ballgame), but there is a great deal of pain (I know I experience it) that comes from failing to LET that the movement can continue.

This brings me to a quote by Tillich that is among my favorites - 
"Therefore, everything finite is innately anxious that its substance will be lost. This anxiety refers to continuous change as well as to the final loss of substance. Every change reveals the relative nonbeing of that which changes....Anxiety about change is anxiety about the THREAT of non-being implied in change. It is manifest in all great changes of personal and social life, which produce a kind of individual or social dizziness, a feeling that the ground on which the person or group has stood is being taken away, that self-identity or group identity is being destroyed" (Tillich Systematic Theology Volume One Page 107)

From a place of personal reflection, the health issues I am going through at the moment are a part of learning to be fluid. That fluidity requires allowing others to SEE me in the midst of it, as I let go of my tendency to want to HIDE my discomfort for the benefit of others. It is humbling, uncomfortable, counter cultural and ultimately exposed to allow oneself to be noticed by others in the midst of the mess of transformation. Interestingly, though, it is through this very process of allowing myself to be SEEN that I am developing an even deeper understanding of what it means to be among the most vulnerable on the margins of society – and those are the people that I walk with in ministry.

Over time, I have come to see myself as a Neoplatonic thinker. Although I have eyes that look at the world (Aristotle), I see God in everything – this is the “seeing through” of Neoplatonism and even Celtic Christianity, where the tree, the stars, the single atom, is all a reflection of the God of Mystery – or the God beyond the God of our understanding. This was address in a book I was reading where the author quoted Ilia Delio (one of my favorites): “…Christianity must take into account that in this second Axial Period we are moving into a world that is globally conscious, ecologically sensitive, communal, and mindful of the evolution of the whole cosmos” (Vincie 69). This quote captures the change to a new phase in our human journey, one that I believe revisits the Neoplatonism of the ancient world while integrating our scientific understanding gained through the Aristotelian period of theology. To best capture my thinking on this topic, I have included an original poem (by me) below: 

If God is in the Mountain
If God is in ME
The Mountain is ALSO in me.