Introducing HeART Journaling

signpost1aTime moves so quickly it seems.  Days slip into months and months slip into years.  I want to make the most of each and every moment.  Savor the very marrow of life.

Journaling, especially creative journaling  helps me do this.  It is a space I can still, slow and celebrate while learning and becoming more of who I am created to be.  Over the last few years as I have been on this journey myself, I’ve noticed repeated themes that function like different pathways leading into greater authenticity and understanding.

HeART Journaling is creative journaling that engages 1 or more of 8 different pathways leading towards a more authentic, WHOLEheARTed life. The ART in HeART Journaling is a commitment to honest story-telling (even when we are simply telling stories to ourselves) told from a place of Authentic Raw Transparency™, where masks are shed and we bravely embrace our own story lines.

{Find out about these 8 creative pathways & keep reading this post over on WHOLEheARTed here}.

Why I’m Giving Up

40focus-webToday marks the day of the year that the Church turns her vision from the cradle to the cross and begins the 40 day journey toward Jerusalem and Golgotha and the empty tomb.

It feels like my January evaporated and February is slipping quickly into March.  I grew up in a church tradition that celebrates the next forty days as the season of lent.  A time to slow and remember these days and hours are indeed “lent” to us to steward.  They are not our own. How will we live this one life well?

I decided this year I’m giving up distraction, with the secret hope that these 40 days will spill forward into all that lies beyond them.  My lenten season has been tagged #40DaysofFocus. If you want in on this journey you are most welcome.

Since moving back stateside I feel like I am in a never ending battle with clutter and not just in my art studio.  In my head.  Advertising bombardment.  Media overload.  Social networking absurdity.  Attention bleeds and leaks and takes intentionality with it.  Some days it feels like the world has gone mad.  Can anyone relate?

But I don’t have to be bombarded or overloaded or distracted by entertainment or status updates or the media frenzy that has overwhelmed our culture.  I don’t.  And neither do you.

What do you find to be your number one distraction in our über connected world?  How can you unplug from it, even partially, allowing space for greater focus?  Tweet it out using #40daysoffocus or reply to this post on my Facebook page’s wall. See you there!

Why 50 Shades of Grey Is Really Black & White

Laptop or notebook with cup of coffee and origami heart on old wooden table toned with a retro vintI remember growing up reading stories of prince charmings whisking princesses away to their happily-ever-afters and dreaming of real-life fairy tales.  What little girl doesn’t dream of finding her very own prince charming?

I’m not normally a cultural commentator.  It’s just not my thing. I prefer to write authentically about my own journey rather than analyze and debate the topics that are lighting up social media. But this is one something I just can’t stay silent about.

Maybe it is because my journey has crossed paths with many Anastasia Steeles over the years:

The young girl so abused she acquiesces to prostitution because at least she will get paid for the trauma that way.  The wife who sticks it out with her abusive husband out of a belief she can reform him.  The girlfriend who tolerates her overly-possessive stalker-like boyfriend and his controlling behavior because her self-worth is wrapped up in his approval. Women who have been told by the church to honor their sadistic husbands and submit to physical, emotional and sexual violence in a twisted rendering of New Testament passages.

No, I have not read 50 Shades of Grey.  Nor do I intend to.  Subject matter aside, the few passages I’ve run across online reveal quite possibly the most atrociously written vulgar prose I have ever seen.  I’ve known 12 year olds who could write more coherently.  And then there is the subject matter that flies in the face of everything I believe as a woman, let alone a follower of Jesus.

I have not read the books or seen the movie.  I don’t need to.  I have researched the phenomenon because I believe 50 Shades’ popular success is an alarming snapshot of our society’s underlying views on women and violence. How else does a critically ridiculed book series almost universally agreed upon as reprehensible in both content and style stay on the New York Times Bestseller list for 30+ weeks?  Not to mention a record setting opening weekend for the movie version heralded as equally bad.

Anything that promotes sexual violence and degradation as normative or glamorous is dangerous.  This is not a love story.  This is thinly veiled pornography that sends a message to men and women alike that domination and manipulation are relationally acceptable constructs.

I have been stalked.  Twice.  There is nothing romantic about it.  I’ve worked with victims of sexual violence and seen the shards that rip hard at their souls.  Ladies, if a man wants to tie you up, control your choices, blindfold and beat you: that is called abuse, not foreplay.

Ephesians tells men to love their wives as Christ loves the church.  Jesus came to set us free not to shackle us.  Jesus took our pain and shame when He was whipped, flogged, beaten, abused and put into bondage so we would never have to be.

As a follower of Jesus, the “BDSM lifestyle” is a perverse mockery of the cross and all that Jesus endured so He could give me the gift of a relationship with Him built on true intimacy.  50 Shades of Grey is, simply put, every shade of wrong.

There is a hunger inside each of us for a real love story.  Deep down we know we are created for something more.  Deep down we all desire to be loved and accepted and cherished.  Because we are created for Love by Love through Love.  

This Love is patient, gentle and kind.  Love doesn’t demand, subjugate or dominate.  It is not jealous or arrogant.  And it is anything but grey.

I am so excite to announce WHOLEheARTed went live on February 14th.  Please take a peek over there and join in this new and growing community as we journey on creative pathways to living and loving more authentically with our whole hearts. See you there!

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A More Authentic Life

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 5.58.55 AMI am SO excited to offer you a sneak peek into one of the things I am most excited about unrolling this year!

I was just talking with a friend the other day and she reminded me that the endings of old things, old assignments, old patterns are the only possible platform for something new to be born.  And the things that most rip and tear at our hearts, that embolden our being and fill our gut with passion’s fire, the things that make us heartsick with a longing to bring change, THESE things may be the very core of our calling.

Living wholehearted is one of these things for me.  To see a people fully alive to God and WHOLEheARTedly bravely becoming exactly who they are created to be. Loved. Authentic. Creative. Free.  In some ways this new online community is an extension of the heart I share here but in a bit more of an interactive format.  WHOLEheARTed isn’t a blog as much as it is an online creative community.  One in which I would absolutely have you be a part.

It is my prayer and hope here to create a safe place where together we can explore creative pathways to a more authentic life rooted in a deeper walk with Him.

Get Healthy 2015

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{Blueberry infused green tea + crushed fresh blueberries + a little honey = super healthy super fruit afternoon pick me up}

The latter part of 2014 I sort of just gave up.  Barring a miracle, no one seemed to be able to figure out what has been going on with me health wise.  I got nebulous catch all diagnoses that basically mean “I don’t know so I’ll call it something”.  I got straight up diagnoses of “I really have no idea” like “Fever of Unknown Origin” and told it would probably eventually just fix itself.

But it didn’t.  It was getting worse and every time I ate, even on an extremely restricted diet I felt terrible.  I barely ate anything and yet I was gaining weight from breathing it seemed.  At 4’9″ 2-3 lbs is a dress size.  I’m heavier now than I’ve ever been and I hate it.  I avoid mirrors at all costs. If I can’t avoid them, I try to ignore them and watch a wallpaper spot instead.  My clothes no longer fit and my body feels like it is at war with itself.

I eat and my fever spikes and I flip into a immune/inflammatory response. My chest breaks out in hives or rashes.  I don’t eat and well you can only “not eat” for so long.  It has messed with my adrenals, my metabolism, my ability to sleep, my energy and caused widespread chronic pain and fatigue on top of pain levels I normally deal with.

But yesterday hope of getting some kind of answers began to grow as I explained all these things to my new nutritionist.

My hunch that it was gut and inflammation related was confirmed.  I’m getting tested for parasites and retested to confirm food sensitivities/intolerances.  Apparently my gut has been leaking undigested food particles into my bloodstream again {or still} triggering yes, an immune/inflammation response.  AKA the fever of unknown origin is easily explained by this.  And the same leaky gut isn’t allowing my body to absorb the nutrients I need- hence abysmal Vit D scores even after taking vitamins at crazy concentrations.

It isn’t a quick fix.  It isn’t a band-aid or a few pills.  It is a whole lifestyle reset.  But it is worth it to get my life back.

So bye-bye to most forms of sugar, no gluten, no maize/corn, no GMOs, no processed food.  Hello to finding vitamins I can process, to doing what I need to kill any parasites they find, to eating super clean mostly from scratch, to learning to cook accordingly, to doing whatever is needed to sleep at night, to taking walks even if they start out at only a few feet, to making time to really become the healthiest version of who I’m created to be.

There will be trade-offs and it will involve saying no a lot. But I’m no stranger to impossible challenges.  I lived in a war zone for 7 years after all.  I just didn’t know the next assignment would be the war zone in my own body.  But it is.  And I am 100% invested in the journey.

I’ll be sharing about what I’m learning from time to time here.  Maybe, just maybe it might be helpful for some of you. ;-)  The bravest journeys of all really do start inside us. Let’s get healthy in 2015 together.