What Are You Dreaming About?

Indy is a mix of slush and spring days.  And in the midst of this almost-spring-season, I’m beginning to dream, to wonder what spring might be about.

I’ve been a little nostalgic lately as one year ago I was diagnosed, and about two years ago I moved to Indy.  To heal and rebuild.  I thought I might move from Indy to Pittsburgh.  I thought I might quit teaching.  I had no idea what was next.  I didn’t know many people.

I’m able to see some of the blessings of the journey as I spend time reminiscing.  I entered into the question, “Will I quit teaching?” fully.  I tried to make teaching work in a classroom two more times, but the answer is “No.”  And so I’m learning to be content in a small cubicle at the Dyslexia Institute’s office, tutoring one-on-one, and it turns out that I actually love my job.  It’s perfect for me.  I’m learning little pieces from this “way closing” behind me.

I have enough flexibility now for all my doctor’s appointments.  I can still work.  I have a manageable work environment, that keeps me from feeling overwhelmed easily.  I can grocery shop in all my little places, and recreate a favorite burger at home for dinner. I can take a walk on a trail behind the apartment as the sun is coming up.  I have friends here who are an eclectic mix and I love that.  I’m digging deep in more dyslexia reading training and finishing up the spiritual direction cohort in May.  I’m entering into life, slower, more reflective and yet I’m still living a purposeful and meaningful life in the midst of healing.

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In March, I’m looking forward to finishing my dyslexia training coursework (grad level stuff!), a steak dinner with my roommate, seeing a local production of The Importance of Being Earnest that my friend is in, a spiritual direction cohort weekend, a half day Holy Week retreat, March Madness, a Penny and Sparrow concert, Easter, greater clarity medically after an important blood draw, hosting some meals for friends, participating in a March 4th party my friend has yearly.  A full month!

My mundane, everyday living is a much better reflection of the person I actually am–and there’s space to grow, mature, and continually become more of who I really am.  In spiritual direction, we call this “true self.”

So, what am I dreaming about?

I’m dreaming about stability, and forming even deeper roots in this city and with people.

I’m dreaming about continuing to offer spiritual direction in my home over this next year.

I’m dreaming about health coaching, and discerning the right timing to pursue a certification.

I’m dreaming about feeling well enough to travel more than I do now.

I’m dreaming about lunches and dinners with my food allergy friends–and even those who don’t prefer red meat.

I’m dreaming about writing poetry more, and cultivating enough courage to call myself a writer.

I’m dreaming about knowing the stories of church people through Tuesday nights at the barn.

I’m dreaming of working in a single location longer than a year.

I’m dreaming of reading more theology works and talking about what I’m reading.

What are you dreaming about as spring approaches?  Why?

 

Parker Palmer: Spring

I will wax romantic about spring and its splendors in a moment, but first there is a hard truth to be told: before spring becomes beautiful, it is plug ugly, nothing but mud and muck.  I have walked in the early spring through fields that will suck your boots off, a world so wet and woeful it makes you yearn for the return of ice.  But in that muddy mess, the conditions for rebirth are being created.

-Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

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When There Aren’t Any Questions…

I noticed this past weekend that my body and my thoughts just needed more space, to move to breathe.

My deepest longing was that I wanted spring to come.

I was feeling cramped by long dark days and bitter winds, and the color gray.

So I got up early on Friday, when it was already 45 degrees, bundled up, and drove up Lafayette Road (what a quick, quiet drive in the morning!) to Eagle Creek Park.

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My thoughts stilled in nature.  I could just walk on the muddy paths, hear the geese continuously squawking, glad that they were enjoying the warmer weather too.

Memories flowed as I thought back to other times in the park: a Memorial Day picnic with my sister, a silent walking retreat this fall, a welcome-to-Indy walk with Chels.

I was just glad for a taste of spring.  I wasn’t thinking of anything deeply or asking any questions.

Nature calls forth our desire to be still, to observe and enjoy what it around us.  

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Nature reminds us to honor our bodies, to move through the woods on its winding path as quickly or as slowly as we need.  But nature asks us to pay attention.

What are you paying attention to currently?  

I Wonder

Today I’m responding to my own question from Monday:

What am I wondering about? 

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  • I wonder if I’ve curled up this winter and been more sedentary in order to remember how much I love to read a whole book in a day.
  • I wonder if I’m creating a more quiet, open space in my own life but also my apartment that lends itself to hospitality and deeper conversations.
  • I wonder if I’m giving myself space to accept my past, see it more clearly, and know that I’ve been loved in every phase of my life.
  • I wonder if I’ve re-discovered my love of theology by more reading and conversations and energy to engage in deeper dialogue.
  • I wonder if solitude and accepting my limitations has allowed me to be “free from being needed” more than ever in my life. (Accepting that my worth doesn’t come from being needed).
  • I wonder if I’m allowing myself to be more myself–more introverted and nerdy–than I often present myself as.

Lent is helping me to remember that I’m loved in my mess, and the mess is often discovered when I slow down and am in a posture to see slow workings of God.

A Place for Wondering in Lent

He is like a tree planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

-Psalm 1:3

 

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This verse came back to me last week as I watered my windowsill herb garden.  It’s been an interesting experience trying to keep these herbs alive in the middle of winter, when the sun sometimes decides not to shine.

These herbs are not in a season of yielding fruit.  They are barely making it!  But they are a perfect example to me of “and its leaf does not wither.”

And so I thought to myself,

“What is God doing in the hidden spaces this winter season?”  

Perhaps that question is best answered in spring in summer, in reflecting back upon the waiting and barren season of winter.  It’s appropriate to realize the waiting in the midst of abundance.  And yet how do I understand my waiting days today?

Instead of answering this question in a black and white sort of way, this question lends itself to wondering.

I wonder how the Lord is pruning me.

I wonder what in me is staying alive that almost died.

I wonder what I’m being prepared for.

I wonder what I will continue to learn in my silence and solitude.

I wonder if my writing voice is being simplified in the environment of my quiet apartment.

I wonder if my imagination is being enlivened as I trade in a life of busyness for a life of simplicity.

I wonder what I’m being reminded of.

I wonder if I’m growing in acceptance and in letting go.

I wonder if I feel more out-of-step with 20-somethings for a specific reason.

 

I may never have specific answers as to what the Lord was really up to in the winter of 2016,

but I can wonder.

I can remember that my leaf does not wither-even on days when it feels like it.

Lent is like a “detox” season, as my pastor put it on Ash Wednesday.  Lent is the harsh winter that we are to embrace.

It’s a time to accept the Lord’s pruning work, knowing that we are sustained.  

We can face self-examination because we know how much we are loved.  

Dare to wonder this Lenten season, who the Lord is making you to be.  Let Him speak loving words into your ear. Let Him lovingly strip away all that isn’t necessary, all that isn’t healing or helpful.  He desires to partner with us as we yield fruit in its season.

On Friday, I will post more specifics about my wonderings…

What do you want to spend time wondering about this Lenten season?

 

A Woman’s Confession

In this month of love, I’m committing to reading books on friendship and hospitality.  One of the books I’m reading is called Rediscovering Friendship: Awakening to the promise and power of women’s friendships.  

It’s an empowering and thought-provoking book for me.  The author, Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel is a feminist theologian from Germany.  In the chapter where the quote below is taken from she is writing about how being declared righteous in God’s sight does not reach the level of forgiveness, healing, and trust, including the ability to love oneself.  What we truly desire is wholeness and healing.

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Below is a confession from a Swedish woman who has come to believe that her primary sin is self-contempt, and she does not see this sin confessed in churches.

 

Are there not sometimes other sins

to confess than these

which we have talked people into having?

Christ, I confess before you

that I have had no faith in my own potential.

That I have shown contempt for myself and my ability

in thought, word and deed.

I have not loved myself as much as others,

my body, my appearance,

my talents or my way of being myself.

I have let others guide my life.

I have let myself be scorned and mistreated.

I have relied more on the verdict of others

than on my own,

and I have allowed people to be indifferent

and malicious to me,

without telling them to stop.

I confess

that I have not developed to the fullest measure of my

capacities,

that I have been too cowardly

to venture to argue for a just cause;

that I have wounded myself

in order to avoid controversies.

I confess

that I have not dared to show

how competent I am,

have not dared to be as competent

as I really can be.

God, our Father and Creator,

Jesus, my Brother and Redeemer,

Spririt, our Mother and Comforter,

forgive me my self-contempt,

raise me up, give me faith in myself

and love of myself.

 

As I continue to heal physically, I want my sickness to mark me.  I want to be a strong advocate for others, but I first must be one for myself.  I want to encourage others in their giftings but I first must accept and utilize my own.  I want to encourage others to pursue health and healing, but I must pursue these first myself.

When I read this confession, I see me in it.  But I also see a bright little glimpse of lessons I learn and keep learning in sickness.

No one can want me well more than myself.  And until I desire my healing more than anyone else, I truly cannot help others.  

I’ve had to let go of friendships, take care of myself in private, say no to parties and trips, dive into writing when I would rather stay in the comfort of the teaching profession, even when my gifts aren’t acknowledged.  I had to advocate for myself and find a doctor who believed me.  I had to find friends who believed what I said.

As I read this confession my eyes fill with tears, and yet I’m joyful.  I don’t have to be everything to everyone.  I just need to be me, and know that I am loved.

What emotions do you feel as you read this confession?

In which lines of the confession do you see yourself clearly?

In Preparation for Lent

Two years ago, I attended my first Ash Wednesday service at an Anglican church.

The words still echo in my mind this time of year:

“For he knows our frame, and he remembers that we are but dust.”

A special silence lingered as people proceeded up the middle aisle and the pastor placed the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead.

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While I didn’t quite know what all the symbolism meant, I could recognize these patterns.

Giving up for the sake of drawing nearer to God.

Recognizing my mortal state, and that Christ joins my humanity.

There is a solemnity in suffering that is lost in our modern culture.

That the ash on my forehead must be some type of symbol that I’m Christ’s and joined to his suffering.

If I truly believe my baptism, that I died and am raised with Christ, then I must actually travel to the cross with Christ.

Repentance and receiving Christ’s forgiveness must fuel the long, lonely journey to the cross that we take with Him.

None of us truly know what journeying to the cross with Christ will look like any given year.  He reveals Himself to us anew.  But maybe start here:  Embrace the solemnness of the season. Realize that you live in the Easter hope, yet linger in emotions other than joy.

Lent is more than the question, “What are you giving up?”

A deeper question is, “With whom are you journeying? Can you bear to see Christ as the Suffering Servant?”

Sweet Potato Fries

My January staple snack turned into sweet potato fries very quickly!  In the cold months, I want something warm and comforting-something with a bit of a kick!  Soup is hearty-but it’s a meal and a meal I often have for breakfast in the winter.  I needed something else, and sweet potato fries did the trick.

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Simply cut 1-2 sweet potatoes into strips or wedges.

In a bowl, pour plenty of olive oil to coat the fries.  Stir in cumin, garlic powder and cayenne.

Sautee the potatoes in olive oil for 10-12 minutes, flipping often.

*If you desire a sweet kick, instead of cumin, garlic, and cayenne, mix in maple syrup and cinnamon.

Chocolate Shake!

We’ve asked and thought up deep questions to start off our year!  Occasionally, I’m going to take breaks and just post some recipes of the past month or so.

I will be the first to admit that I’m not a shake meal replacement kinda girl.  I like food, not all chopped up and blended together.  I want to sit down to a plate full of food.

And yet some mornings are just busy!  And there’s still healthy ways to eat on the run.  I didn’t find myself busy when I made this shake, but I just wanted something different for breakfast.  Whatever, your reason, here’s to a yummy breakfast shake!

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1 cup coconut milk

ice if you want it really cold!

1/2 an avocado

1 ripe banana

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 pitted dates or 1 Tbsp honey

1 tsp. flax seed

If you’re not allergic to nuts, add 2 tsp almond butter