16 October 2017

It is about the journey, not just the finish line.

I was into my 15th mile yesterday morning when a woman one the sideline had a cardboard poster board that read, "Today you will finish a marathon!"

She cheered and yelled louder for folks in the green bibs (me!) as it was their first time running Detroit or first marathon ever.

When I ran by here we made eye contact and she hollered at me, "GIRL. You are gonna finish a marathon today!"

That is when it hit me. 
I am going to finish and I started to cry.
It hit me in that moment (no matter the weather!) I was going to finish my first marathon.

I have spent more than half of my life not feeling comfortable in my own skin, wishing I was someone else. Don't even get me started how I felt about my own body.

I spent most of my 20's comparing myself to others and believing lies about me from the time I was a little girl.

I was horribly insecure and hid it well behind a big smile and loud mouth personality.

I have told myself for many years "I can't do that, it's too hard."

And when faced with the hardest situation of my life I knew I was going to not just survive but I was going to thrive.

Running has become a very emotionally and spiritually healing tool in my life. 

Yesterday was about so much more than just crossing the finish line.

It was about the journey that brought me there. 

And I would not trade that journey for anything in my life.

I am certainly not grateful it all happened. But I am 100% grateful for what it has taught me about myself as a woman.

I carried and prayed for so many people and situations yesterday on the road: my godchildren, my immediate family, personal situations, my aunt battling cancer again, all my Blessed Is She sisters (especially the BIS Team!!), friends, and my own future.

When I turned the corner and saw the 25 mile marker I started choking up again. 

I ripped those earbuds out and soaked up every step of that tiring final mile.
I recalled the faces and names I most carried in my heart and thanked God for this opportunity.

After I crossed the finish line, I leaned over and just started weeping. 

Sure I was grateful to be done running, but even more grateful what this journey represents to me in a new phase of life.

We can do hard things in life.

We are not responsible for what happens to us, but we are responsible for how we choose to respond to it.

My first 26.2 is not just about a medal.

It represents a change of heart, a change in how I look at life and myself.

Your finish line may look different than mine. But the journey is still the same.

Because all of us can do hard things in this life.
post signature

02 October 2017

Why Hugh Hefner is an Important Lesson in Praying for the Dead

Since the death of Hugh Hefner went public last week the Internet has been abuzz with obituaries and commentaries.

Some people are hailing Hefner for his outspoken support of civil rights or liberating American culture from a puritanical sexual morality.

Some people (even in the Christian world) are filled with hate and wishing him eternal damnation in Hell.

I look at the death of Hugh Hefner as an opportunity to practice one of the most difficult tenets of Christianity. 

Specifically, praying for people who hurt you.

I obviously did not know Mr. Hefner personally and he had no idea who I was. 

But my life has been deeply affected by the addictive, manipulative empire he stood for and in Playboy.

Sexual addiction and pornography are the reasons I am no longer married. 

I find myself both angry and truly heartbroken for the millions of little boys whose innocence was robbed and taken from them in what Playboy represented. Little boys who were confused by what they saw which hurt their own sexual development and identity.

I am angry how Playboy laid the groundwork to the gateway drug of pornography affecting millions of men, young boys, and women. 

I am angry and disgusted that a woman's body has been treated as an object; a mere image of sexual pleasure and fantasy for a man to "get off" on.
I am sad for so many women who have been used, abused, and treated as a man's plaything.

Sexual freedom never comes from the using of another person. And Playboy has used up women for such a long time.

Playboy and pornography are gateways to other deeply addictive ways of acting sexually: adultery, masturbation, sexual abuse and violence, prostitution, lust, contraception, abortion...the list just goes on.
The sexual sins that Playboy represents spits upon all that is good and true about our bodies and sexuality. 

While I hate what this man did and represented, I do not wish Hugh Hefner to burn in Hell. 

Last week I was finding it very difficult to pray this man.

I read in a magazine article that as young boy Hefner felt very disconnected emotionally from his mother and was not shown much love. When we lack in experiencing real love in our lives, often we are propelled to seek it out and chase after it...even if those ways are damaging to the mind and soul.

But I did pray for him. 

Since then I have prayed those words Saint Faustian left us in the Chaplet oF Divine Mercy, "Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world." 

Jesus, show him mercy. 

I hate with every fiber of my being the evil he supported and represented, but mercy Jesus, only Your mercy.

It is hard to do that. 

Like really hard; especially when its so easy to think of the millions of families, marriages, and lives that have been destroyed by all that Playboy is.

The death of Hugh Hefner presents the Church with an opportunity to speak up and into the destruction the pornography epidemic is having on marriages, families, and relationships.

So Church show up and step up!
I am begging you.

May his death be an opportunity to speak truth and hope to many people who have been deeply impacted by what he and Playboy represent.

But more importantly, let this be an opportunity to pray for the dead. 

Let us call out the mercy of Jesus, not condemnation or due justice.

Jesus have mercy on Hugh Hefner, on all of us, and upon the whole world.

post signature

26 September 2017

The Wounded Healer (and why that is each of us)

I was in college when I first heard of Henri Nouwen. It wasn't until the beginning of graduate school that I actually began to read some his writings. 

His Life of the the Beloved is one my favorite spiritual books during this season of life.

As I started working in ministry, a friend had suggested I read Nouwen's The Wounded Healer. He said he thought this was required reading folks working in ministry. Years later as I reflect on my life so far, I see how right he was.

The premise of the book is that in our own woundedness, we can become a source of life and healing for other people. When we acknowledge and work through our brokenness and wounds, we become more compassionate, empathetic ministers.

I find myself re-reading the book and drawing on certain themes as I am taking a class on Theophostic Prayer Ministry and eventually working towards certification

TPM is an inner healing ministry that seeks to deal with inner emotional pain. It is a type of prayer designed to help people identify the lies they are holding onto that are causing them emotional pain and disrupting their walk with Christ.

People are asked to identify an emotion from a painful memory and expose the lie-based thinking that is causing them emotional pain. Then you hold up the exposed lie to Jesus to receive truth from His perspective.

We all have some lie-based thinking we are carrying around, some of which we may not even be aware of. But when we expose lies to the light of Jesus then truth can undo the power of lies we previously believed.

When I was married, my husband and I had several individual prayer sessions and I found it helpful. Since the experience, I knew I wanted to learn more and experience it for myself so maybe someday I could help other people too.

While there is much more wholeness and freedom in my life, there is always more that God desires to give.

The more we face our lie-based thinking and wounds from life, the more we experience greater freedom.

I think that is what makes a wounded healer.

A willingness and courage to face the inner pain in our heart and mind. The difficult things we experience in life will do one of two things: they will either break us or make us stronger.

I will never have it all together. I still need more healing in my own life, even though I am more whole than I've ever been in my life.

After the experience of marriage/divorce/annulment, I saw really clearly things that kept me trapped emotionally and spiritually. And as I experience deeper freedom, I just desire to learn more so I can help other people.

The principles of things like TPM or Unbound are gifts to the Church and the world today.

Each of us has wounds from this life. 

But these wounds (once processed and worked through) can be a way Jesus desires us to bring His healing and restoration to His people. 

Each of us is a wounded healer.

As I begin this class, I am so grateful for the healing I have experienced in my life so far. But it also brings to awareness healing is a life-time journey...we need to constantly be open and receptive for the MORE that God wants to give us.

The places God calls you to bring hope and healing will probably be different than mine. 

But right in your own relationships, family, job, and community there is a need only you can fill.

Be open. 

Listen to the Holy Spirit (and your heart).

Ask the Lord where has He put you to bring His healing light.

And then step out in faith and take a risk.

P.S. Check out a copy of The Wounded Healer
I promise you will not be disappointed. 

post signature
09 10