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Time With Jesus

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

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“Tell me the story again…” – Chris Rice

I clutched my phone last night in bed, reading multiple blogs, and felt like I was going to throw up. The president gave a speech in the midst of a great swirl of terror and now the blogs, forums, and timelines are flooded with fear, assumptions, and anger. My sleep came in restless turns as I drifted in and out of my thoughts. Today I woke up, bleary eyed and dark inside. Today is September 11–the day that, at the tender age of 16, I learned that safety was not something anyone on earth can promise me.  I looked at my son, asking for juice, excited about watching Arthur and tears filled my eyes. Oh God….I whispered into the dark of the room, on the dawn of this Day of Sorrows.

We dressed in the dark, and my son and I drove into the city as the sun rose over the skyline. He had a medical procedure before school, and as we drove, I answered all the questions that I could about Spiderman to the 5 year old kicking the back of my seat. Strange bits of normal creeping into my dark thoughts. During the procedure I mentioned the date to the technician to share our mutual expression of grief and even possible condolence. It always surprises me how far the fingers of The Attack have spread across the earth to countless hurting people.

“All we can do is just watch the news, and stay informed,” she said.

I’ve heard this before. Many times before, actually. I live in the Midwest, where news stations drone in an endless cycle on the tvs all day, and men shrieking on am radio stations are considered the utmost sources of information.

But not me. Not our house.

You see, I suffer from a tricky and frustrating disorder called anxiety. I can quickly spiral from feeling in control of my breath and emotions, and end up in a dark, thick pool of terror, and mental chaos. We found that information was a major trigger for me, but friends, lean in here and listen…too much information is a sin-trigger for us all. For some, it causes us to fear, and misplace our trust, sometimes losing it all together. For others, too much information becomes a kind of drug–a sense of control in the middle of chaos. Either way, we live in this information era where we are certain that we need to, and are entitled to, know everything–and we have full opportunity to do so. It’s feeding something deep in a space that we have to open up to the One whom we’ll never fully understand.

God did not give us all the information. We are asked to trust in His unknown plan and place our faith in His unlimited power. We have no IDEA what will happen in our next breath. He will give us what we need, including what we need to know, in the moment that it matters for us to know.

So here we find ourselves, relying on everything else except Him, or everything else including Him, but not only Him. Because we have become so accustomed to knowing everything, we have grown a need to know everything. Suddenly He isn’t our only sought-out source of peace, because He is not giving out what we want to know, and CNN is. But can we stop for a moment and wonder why God designed it this way? There are many reasons, and I suppose I’d have to enter seminary to even begin to dig them all up from the beautiful earth of His Word, but…in great humility, I present my own.

Love. It’s because of love. Jesus was weeping in the garden and one of the reasons for that is because He knew. He knew what would happen to Him. Moses spent his days in the desert exhausted with the task of leading God’s people, knowing so much more about the reality of God and their situation then the thousands who followed. Jeremiah wept…all the time. Presidents leave their terms looking haggard and aged well beyond their years. God does not want this intense burden to be placed on us. He wants to have life and to live it abundantly. To know is the gift to prepare, true, and, when He calls us, to do His work. But to know doesn’t alway mean the ability to change the outcome. To know is quite honestly, a burden, that He gives to men at their appointed time along with His supernatural strength to carry it.

We were saved by love, and 1 Corinthians 13 says that love bears all things. God bears the burden of knowing the entire plan.

Part of our peace comes from our eternal security in Him, but there is another part that comes from not needing to know the plan because He has it well in hand. He takes that responsibility away from us because He loves us. But we reach back in with our need to know and, in a way, reject the fullness of His love for us. There is a thin, shaky line between being informed and over-informed, and I think if we were to really look at our habits we’d know where we sit on that. The bleak side of truth here is that we as civilians have very little that we can actually do about the information currently swirling through our computer screens and tvs. But the sin of this world–all of it–is God’s battle to be won, and He’s got this, friends. He isn’t nervous, nor is He surprised. Imagine the sin of the world, from the garden until now, to be like when our parents would sit and quietly discuss finances at the table. We could tell something was wrong but they tried their best to leave us out of it and protect us from the stress. Our parents were willing to take the burden of information to protect our joy, and peace. When we needed to know, they would let us know.

I have to commit that I won’t get nervous until God gets nervous…and am promised that just isn’t going to happen.

This is God, in His holy place, telling us that He has never stepped off of this throne. He has a sword firmly on His side and He is well prepared to use it. He has had a plan since we left His presence in the garden and it was finished when His Son breathed His last breath for us. He wants us to have rest that He miraculously provides in the midst of this–that we may have joy and have it more abundantly. He want us to not be anxious about anything but in everything, make our requests known to HIM, and our hearts vulnerable to HIM…talk to GOD FIRST. Talk to Him. Not to Google.

I will say that have been hugging my children tighter, and have been more grateful for the times of peace we may or may not have left. But should this be what is required for us to do that? Does information dictate our behavior? Every breath is a gift…not just because terror possibly approaches. We were in the same amount of sin and darkness when Adam’s feet first hit the sand outside the garden, as we were in right now.

If ISIS shows up at my door to systematically kill my family today, I won’t be helped by having stayed up late reading the countless stories about them in the news. The information won’t posture the state of my heart in the moment when the knife is to my throat, nor will the heated debates or conversations gain me strength in that moment. So I don’t want to know those stories…

…I want to know “The Story.” I want to know it so well that I breathe it. I want to know, every moment of the day, the story about the man and the woman who sinned and left perfection. I want to know the story about the Love that came down, in the midst of violent murder, rape and abuse and set it right with a bloody crucifixion. I want to read more about that love, that doesn’t judge according to our sins, but saves us…even Christian killers, and turns them around, blinds them and points them toward eyes that see glory. I want to know about the Love that doesn’t care if the country is successful, poverty stricken, worships Him, or worships Allah…but sweeps through with a rush of glory to save all who seek His glorious face. I want to know about a Love so great that people would die brutal deaths for it. I want to read the story about thousands of slaves set free by a series of plagues, and sent out through the center of a sea split into two. I want to read the story about the Enemy who had victory over us because there was NO WAY we could settle the debt. I want to know the story about how, when he thought we were in his grip forever, that this same Love that set thousands free came down and yanked everyone out of this enemy’s hand. I want to know the story about Jesus when He said it was finished, and be reminded that it really truly is….finished. I want to know that this certain present danger is nothing different than any other terror that fell upon our shoulders when we walked away from perfection in the garden. I want to know the story that says this place is not my home, and read the story that describes my home.

I want to tell myself “The Story,” in every inhale and tell the world “The Story” in every exhale. Again, and again, and again. This Story is the only story that bears life. And none of this story is in the news.

We’ve read the back of the Book. The enemy loses, He did lose, It’s not over till the KING says it’s OVER. And He did…with His dying breath–the breath that gave us life beyond this dark and terrible place.

I had a wise instructor once tell me that when my heart is fearful and lying to me, to preach to my heart. Because, friends, we have The Story in our heads. We know these things. We have to tell it to our heart again, and again, and again. Water those dry and aching roots with the only piece of information that will ever revive our dry bones. We can’t escape death. We can’t. But we’ve been given life beyond it…and true life in the midst of it.

“When I’m held in the arms of this waking fear…

…can You find me here?” – Lucy Schwartz

So, today, on September 11, 2014, I remember with great and heavy sadness, all of the lives that were lost, leaving a wake of a broken hearts, and shattered dreams. My prayer is that our God who restores can be seen restoring us in the land of the living, not just in glory. That we see His work on the earth now…not when the plan is fulfilled to completion. His presence has not left us…not for one single moment. May we sense His presence today, and see His hand. Romans 12:19 says to “cling to the good.” So turn off the news, and open the good, rich, nourishing Word of life. Jesus is good, His plan of salvation is good, the Word is good, love is good, our children giggling in the covers is good, the miracle of first and last breaths…is good. Cling to the good today. The bad, the terrible, the horrifying, and destructive are in His hands. All of the plans that are being made in response to terrible things going on outside our doors….are not THE Plan. They’re A plan. THE Plan is already underway and that one WILL succeed.

He has a sword at His side, and HIs right arm is holding back His justice. When the time is right–He will say the Word, and He WILL come down to set it all right, delivering justice for the evil that has effected us all and broken our hearts.

When He does….He will have YOU on His mind, dear loved one. He will have YOU on His mind.

All my love on this difficult day,

~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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