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Journaling our Life

I’m a writer. I write for myself, I write for other people and I even contribute over at Mind Full Collective. I love the process, and have been been filling pages with everything from short stories to my own journals since I could hold a pen.

I haven’t always written. It actually comes in these great bursts followed by long gaps of silence…sometimes years…where not a word came from my pen.

Writing is a strange form of art actually. It’s one of the only ones where there is typically some sort of conclusion that paints a completed picture of the event or emotion. Some of the best pieces come from reflecting over journals and penning a sort of “hindsight” piece. We present a problem and offer a conclusion.

So I’ve had gaps….long, achy, dark gaps….where I had no conclusion. I had no wisdom to give. I had no answers as I was, myself, trudging in a great sea of uncertainty. People read to learn, to know, and to understand…and I had not a crumb to place at the table. Who would want to read anything that had nothing to offer except a picture of my heart in the moment?

And then yesterday happened….and I realized that my heart should never be hidden. Authenticity requires me to paint the picture of my heart every day….unfinised, unsettled…and un-everything else.

I was offered the humbling opportunity to step into my friend’s secret space, where she hides away to paint. T53A0188t

She asked me to take some pictures for her artist profile on her upcoming website, and as I stepped gingerly onto her hallowed ground, she began scooping things up to take somewhere “better” for pictures.

“No,” I said, putting them back. “Let’s do this right here….leave the mess. This is you. It’s so sacred here.” She leaned back against a shelf and looked around, tears in her eyes. “It is, isn’t it?” she said.

T53A0203tHere is where I learned that we don’t always know how sacred our gifts are until someone treats them that way. Here’s where I saw someone shift into a perhaps forgotten notion that they mattered, and that their voice was significant. Artists struggle with this, in a deep visceral way. We all do.

It was a quiet, serene time, photographing this woman in the midst of her mess.

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And it really was in the middle. There were half finished projects scattered about, experimentation, and ideas long forgotten, buried beneath a pile of brushes.

The paintings that were completed dealt mostly in circles. There were circles everywhere.

T53A0244t“You may not understand this, but I feel stuck most of the time.”

I did understand.

“I feel like I don’t know what’s happening but I just kind of cycle through my life in these circular phases…..” she trailed off, but I finished her sentence.

“But when all of our circles come together….it’s really a beautiful mess of….middle spaces.”

And we just kind of sat in silence together, staring at her blue painting with a series of circles converging in the center.

“I don’t always have something to say when I go to paint, but express who I am…” she said. I could have heard that said as an apology, if it weren’t for her quiet strength. Here is where I realized how much we feel that we need to have a conclusion to all of our moments to make them valuable. But sometimes things just don’t ever make sense. We may never understand the deep tragic things that fall into our incapable hands.

Her art speaks the honesty that we all possess in the deep trembling spaces: I’m in the middle, I have little wisdom, but I am seeking it. I have only myself and I am growing, being changed. My voice is small, but it bears great truth of the middle spaces…that there is still great value in the voice of the not-knowing. There is beauty in the growing process as much as there is in the bloom. As I seek wisdom, I shed the light on example…to draw toward those that know, to the One that knows, and paint a trail behind myself for others to follow in their own unique colorful way.

T53A0276tWe both have young children, and we both are in that digging process…finding who we were before and dusting that off again. We’re discovering that it now has a different shape, and a new form…we’re getting to know that person. This new mother, with a new life…forever altered.

She is undeniably brave. She is brave to paint a picture of life that doesn’t come to conclusion, when you don’t feel “finished,” as a person. It’s a fierce notion to place your heart on a canvas when you feel it has no lasting significance. It’s a wild thing to do….to tell a story when you’re still in the middle of it, and not allow it to look like anyone else’s but your own.

And that’s what makes it priceless. To do what the rest of us are terrified of doing.

She sits in front of a painting and we laugh because I say it looks sensual and she thought it was dark. Isn’t it funny how our process will provide the words and the meaning needed to whomever stumbles across it? Authenticity is being silent, and living in complete honesty…your actions are your words. Your words are your love toward others. The Spirit provides the words for them. We just love.

But we cannot hide. We are called and appointed to be bear truth and love. We can’t wait until we feel “finished,” or less messy to be livers of love in this world.

T53A0252tI have rarely been so moved, and am deeply thankful for this invitation.

My writing has changed. I realized that I don’t have to have conclusion…not all the time. I am actually quite messily un-concluded at the moment. I know that all the great Christian women bloggers have some sort of conclusion or a devotional that resolves at the end with a great big slice of hope. I read those blogs with humility and much respect.

But I don’t have to do that in my own pieces, nor do I possess those answers right now. I write to paint that picture of my present. Authenticity requires that I write what I know, and live, in faith, on what I’ve learned, not what I hope to know.

Life has no certain conclusion until death, so I suppose my writing should reflect that great mystery that beats in all of our souls…

…the mystery that is God.

May I come to know Him all the more…and may my middle spaces still cry out His name. May I rejoice in being forever unfinished, until glory.

~Katie-Did

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Here we go. Because I don’t know how to start (who really does?), I’m going to dive right in.

Last summer, I weighed 100 pounds. I ate very, very healthy. Only whole foods, fruits and veggies, no sugar, minimal grains. I even found a “plan” that made me even skinnier. At first I was just consuming green smoothies with one paleo meal a day, but then I found this plan. So I dove in prepared to follow the militant restrictions. I kept my fats and carbs away from one another and spaced my meals every 3 hours like instructed. I never ate carrots (frowned on for carbs), and replaced my potatoes with radishes. I ate only sweet potatoes, on rare occasion and when I did…would watch my carbs the rest of the day.

I was eating very healthy foods.

But this is what I looked like.

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Meet me with grace here, in this post. I have tears as I post these pictures because, until just a few weeks ago, I longingly have gone back to these pictures. I’ve stood in front of the mirror and situated myself in these exact positions to see how close I am to this size. I’ve cried over these pictures. I’ve shut the computer after viewing these pictures and let my hands travel down to my thighs to feel how much bigger they are now.

I was a disordered eater, a disordered thinker and a disordered feeler. I was completely in disarray. But God is not a God of chaos, and because this space was truly chaotic, it meant I had given Him no invitation into this space.

Sometimes disordered eating doesn’t necessarily come in the form of starvation or over-eating….but in the form of mental/spiritual starvation and over-thinking. I found that I can eat all the whole and healthy foods that I want…but if I’m not eating them with the same freedom that I was given at the cross, i was not truly feeding my body. Nor was I truly grateful. I can worship in my eating, and should…but only when it’s done with the same abandon and freedom that I was given.

My path for healing didn’t begin until I began to feed myself. Not just eat.

I gave my big, heavy book about “the plan” away and sat down to refocus. Everything in my diet was good, whole, and healthy. Everything was from the earth and natural. I was supposed to have the best immune system in the WORLD according to my diet but I was sick almost every week. My adrenals were tanked. My organs weren’t even fully functioning.

What was missing?

I was eating whole healthy foods….but my whole self was starving.

The reason I write this post? Because in this fire of self-hatred….Dwell:Practicing Whole Wellness was forged. God led me to a Christian yoga instructor and as I began training I had never felt so thin….I felt spiritually thin. I felt emotionally thin. I felt mentally frail. My body wasn’t thin solely because of my lack of eating; my body was thin because I have learned that what I eat or don’t eat directly reflects what I’m feeding my heart, mind and soul–my heart was starved. 

So I made a commitment, starting at Lent. I was going to gain unbridled, unmeasured, un-time-intervaled weight. Not physical weight…spiritual weight. I decided it was time to spend all the tv time, the journaling & food journaling time (where I just poured out the frailties of my slender little heart), and my reading time ALL in the Word. I deleted my excel sheets of “the plan,” and all the complicated baking recipes. I hid the Facebook group from my feed. I poured myself onto the mat and the postures of my body- the sticky places- truly reflected the postures of my heart. I gave myself no spiritual restrictions and everything I didn’t understand I decided to go to the brave spaces, even the “non-theological” spaces for answers. Wherever I found Jesus…is where I went. I stopped looking at everything through the lens of how it effect me, and instead looked through the lens of Jesus….what does every situation and every word in the Bible say about HIM? Not about me. I embraced freedom and ate His Word in big, hungry bites. And the more I ate, the more hungry I realized I was. I didn’t even know it….but I was completely malnourished and starving in my soul space. I went through a beautiful process of learning my blessed inheritance and position as a daughter of the KING.

And then, something CRAZY happened: I gained weight. I gained probably 15-18 pounds. In 9 weeks of training. The crazier thing? I hadn’t realized it. That’s peace that passes all understanding…when I don’t notice my weight changing. That’s eyes glued to Jesus not my thighs. How did this weight gain happen? I truly lived. I had begun eating the cookies with the boys when we baked them together. Little Small Fry kissed the chocolate off of my cheek. Strawberries were on sale, and, one day when Nugget couldn’t fall asleep during nap time, we snuck into the kitchen and snacked on them together. He told me about how he wanted to be a chef that was also a fireman when he grew up and suddenly we realized that we’d eaten almost the whole container. I sat on the hood of the car with my hubs and dug into a crate of fresh peaches brought back from Michigan. We talked about everything from grace to Small Fry’s hilarious booty shake dance. When I got to retreat at the end of my training the girls would laugh at my full-to-the-brim plate. But I was really truly that hungry. I was so, so, hungry. If only you girls could have seen what my plate would have looked like before. You know–maybe it wouldn’t have looked that different as I ate the same healthy foods before. The foods I ate then and eat now didn’t change that much…but my heart when I ate them, and HOW I ate them….that transformed. So I take that back. If only you girls could have seen the girl holding the plate before. 

Here’s one of the most beautiful parts of my weight gain: it stopped. I haven’t budged since then. When God brought me back to balance…He replaced what I had lost. All of my broken things, and empty spaces were filled and I was balanced again. My body needed those extra 18 pounds to be at my healthy weight and Jesus gave them back to me. It’s where my body’s healthy balance is. He does this with us. He gives back what we’ve lost…what we’ve thrown out…what we’ve rejected because it’s hurt us in the past. He puts the pieces back into the confusing puzzle of our hearts and suddenly we see the picture we forgot that we made when we’re wholly living.

This is me now…in the same spot as last year. 18 pounds and 1 million inches of grace and mercy later….

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Where I realized that I am not well when I’m eating perfectly with portioned ratios. I am not well when I’m exercising 60 minutes a day. I’m not well when I’m practicing yoga 5 times a week. I’m not well when I achieve a handstand.

I am only well when it is well with my soul.

Now I’m not the girl afraid to do anything. I go SUP boarding.

And I do crazy things…things that could hurt me & heal me.

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IMG_9071I laugh. I laugh so much…with the one that I love.

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And I truly….for the first time, FEEL that love. I accept it.

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When I forget…when my heart is screaming lies and my mind is overwhelmed, not knowing how to process, I just go upside down, knowing that I, without Jesus, am disordered. He sets me right when I don’t lean on my own understanding, let go, and invert myself…bowing to His plan.

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I’m just not skinny anymore. I am strong.

T53A8807tI will always struggled with disordered thinking and wanting to eat with disorder as well. But I do not have to BE disordered.

Because I’m free.

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So, my heart for you, friends is that when we look at ourselves, we don’t see the overweight, the underweight, because we know it’s ALL under the blood.  This means that, when we give our hearts over to Him and let Him feed THAT space you will find yourself in the best place for your body as well as your life. He will guide you…and when it’s time, you will shed what needs to be shed, and He will fill what needs to be filled. He restores our souls and restores balance. That’s HIs character.

I have learned that I should never pick up the fork without picking up the cross. Picking up His grace. Picking up His mercy.

Friends, my prayer for you today is that you have joy and have it more abundantly. That you eat peaches, carrots, onions, and brownies. That balance is found in your healing. That freedom is found in your faithfulness to just try.

That you know that He desires to make it WHOLLY well with your soul.

Feed friends….feed on His grace, feed on His fruit of the spirit, and then….feed on the fruit of the earth.

All of my love,

~Kate

**All archived posts are still on lockdown as we break things down for the new site. All new posts will be visible and available here for now! Enjoy, friends…

In my home, we fight sometimes, and in my home, I fail in the midst of this. We fight against each other, for each other and with each other. I fight for my son, and here I write, for the first time about a real struggle in our home, and it’s not an easy space to enter.

My eldest son struggles with mild sensory processing disorder and his main symptom lies in an intense concern and precision over his environment. Today we were on a bike ride, and a few of his leaves that he had collected fell from his bike basket. He stopped, in the middle of the road, cars flying around him to pick them all up. I was waiting for traffic to allow me to get to him, flagging cars, and yelling at him to leave them.

But when life happens, and chips away at his world, his sensory blinders go up and all he has is the broken bits of perfection in his hands. He melts away from us, a pool of intention to fix the pieces. And here he was–blinders up–in the middle of the road. I finally physically drug him and his bike and headed toward the side of the road. But his backpack, strategically hung on his handlebars, came loose, falling to the ground. He collapsed, hunched over his bag and ripped it open beginning to arrange and rearrange all of the pieces inside. The cars–who were preparing to finally move again, had to halt once more.

My son flinched at every honk, his hands moving faster and more frantic within his bag. I lurched him and his things to the side. He looked up at me, and his face completely changed to something I couldn’t quite recognize. “I’M SORRY!!!! I BREAK YOUR HEART!!!” He shrieked.

That’s when I realized I was crying.

I opened my mouth to respond when I heard a little bell chiming at the top of the street. My 3 year old, unaware of the situation, had continued zipping up the road toward home. I yelled for him to come back but he couldn’t hear me, though so I took off running after him.

I don’t know what was louder: the sound of my eldest son’s loud weeping of abandonment in my ears, or the shatter of his heart in my own.

This was probably the hardest piece I’ve ever written. I never write about this part of my eldest’s life, not even in my journals. My inability to fix or sometimes prevent the constant destruction of his heart, and hopes aches in a space I didn’t know existed inside of me…and sometimes I can’t speak it. Like it won’t come into existence.

My hands have never felt so small, and so incapable. Because of the way his world appears to him, I do not ever love enough for him to feel loved completely. This is the breaking of that aching space.

But here, friends…here is where the balm comes into my soul. And it’s in the action of love. It’s in the training that I’ve received and the Word that I cling to.

No matter what happens in our day…be it bike rides or abandonment. This is where we are, every night, an hour before bedtime.

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 I turn on the essential oil diffuser. Tonight I wished that I had “Forgive” oil blend. But I went with Cedarwood and Lavendar. To calm and to heal.

I bring the towel into the room and my boys instantly remove their socks and lift their little legs for me to place the towel under their feet.

I take great care to bring the oils and massage oil on a little tray over to them, along with a damp Norwex rag.

And then…I wash their feet.

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They are dirty, and wear the remains of the day. I wash them clean.

I pump massage oil into my hands and work their calves, toes and arches. They tell me to avoid scratches and bruises, and I find out about places they’d been and trees they climbed that I must have missed. Answering emails, or cleaning.

They tell me where it feels good, and I press into those spaces.

Then I get the Thieves blend. I place one drop in my hand and do one foot at a time. Thieves cleanses, restores, removes impurities and detoxifies. We’re removing the bad, the sinful, the sarcastic, the slanderous, the sullen, and the sorrowfuls.

And I’m saying that I’m sorry.

And I’m saying that this, boys, is how I really feel about you. If I haven’t shown it today…I’m showing it now. I haven’t been an active part in your healing process, your coping process. I’ve aided in your stress, and I’ve even caused you hurt. Here I am, at your feet, moving in the action of loving you. Moving in the action of working with you not against you…with your healing, not aiding your hurting.

It’s an abrupt turn from the space we were in, from the path we were on, from where we would have ended our day. It’s a time that I’m grateful for…to assume the ultimate position of humility, gratitude, and love. The practice of oving my children is holy, humble work.

Truth I’ve learned: Being in the ministry of healing and wholeness, we yoga instructors spend a lot of time at people’s feet. We hold ourselves in positions of servitude, leading our friends into a space of healing and rest. I’m new to the field, and I haven’t taught a whole host of classes, and I haven’t any wisdom to give. But at the end of my first teaching session, shaking and exhausted from the complete emotional, physical and spiritual drain that I’d experienced, hands still resting on the student’s feet, I realized…this is holy, humble work.

Our lives are not separate compartments, insulated from one another…or at least they don’t have to be. We can remove those walls and allow it all to mix into a great pool of love and service within our giftedness and callings. But the breaking of the walls is the hardest part. It’s the part I’ve experienced…when my real has mixed with my reality.

Friends, this is my space today & everyday.

I am honored to work at your feet. For the rest of my days.

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