Waiting for Abbey and Reading The Gift of Giving Life

I am honored to have been asked to be a “posting participant” in the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.

When I first heard about The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth, I brushed it aside, simply because of the mounting list of books I wanted to read and the growing stack at my bedside collecting dust. And to be honest, I didn’t have interest in reading another watered-down, spiritually “held back”, flowery LDS book on the topic of mothering. After the third reminder, though, via friends and social media, I knew it was something I was meant to experience. The swellings and stirrings I felt from the first chapter, Heather Farrell’s We Are Each Eve, confirmed the deep, timely influence of this book on my walk as a woman and mother.

Not too many are aware that the greatest heartache of my life has been losing babies. I lost my firstborn, a beautiful baby girl, at full term – a story with so many sacred layers and levels that can’t be given justice in the context of this post. Two years after I said goodbye to my firstborn, Jeff and I had our son Noah. Two years later, we were blessed with our daughter Savannah, and two years after that, our son Sawyer. They are cherished, precious angels, each one of them. When Sawyer was two and I became pregnant again, I was glowing with assurance that this next baby was following suit with the every-two-years pattern and would be welcomed as our fourth child.

Not so. I miscarried that little gift of life and would miscarry three more times in the next 8 years. I won’t detail those losses, only to mention that they were soul-ripping. The fourth late-term miscarriage was so physically and emotionally and spiritually painful that I honestly wasn’t sure I would fully recover. Perhaps what made the final loss so intense was my dangling promise of two more children – a boy and a girl – and at 42 years, coming to the realization that my body was not going to cooperate with my spirit’s willingness to bear them.

I read The Gift of Giving Life in 2012, shortly after the miraculous private adoption of our magnificent son, Eli. I wept with the women who detailed their experiences with loss, grief and divine compensation. I felt a rising empowerment, a blazing second witness that women are in a very real partnership with The Creator of All as they sacrifice and bear down and descend. And then nobly and beautifully ascend. The Atonement of Christ is demonstrated more mightily through the sacrificial practice of mothering than through any other practice on Earth.

The Gift of Giving Life is a book about power. Woven into each chapter are stories that affirm the massive spiritual powers of wisdom, love and creation embodied in the Feminine. I love that this book addresses so many women’s experiences, from so many walks of life, who have the same underlying belief: That God knows our hearts and our needs as women and will mold a perfect plan that, through birth and rebirth, will take our souls and bodies to heights and depths we could never before fathom. I have learned that it is not just the experience of giving birth physically that empowers a woman to call herself mother. It is the praying, the losing, the weeping, the waiting. The pouring of her heart and soul into a vision and promise that only she and her Creator can hold form for.

Today I find myself back in this kind of “labor.” I know there is a girl –whom I call Abigael – that will join our home. She and Eli are pretty much a package deal, so when he showed up, I knew she would soon follow. Eli is 18 months, I am 45, and “the promise of Abbey” lives in both of us. When I start to jump to fearful what-ifs in pondering her debut, I’m reminded that time is merely a relative mortal measurement and there is a decree echoing in some corner of heaven (as it is in my heart) that she is coming. It is done.

And so I wait.

We as mothers need confirmation and validation for the dreams and impressions we hold inside for ourselves and our children. To me, that is what The Gift of Giving Life inspires. I was so moved and impressed with the depth of this book that I invited Lani Axman, one of the authors, into my home while she was in town doing book meetings last year. We sat on my couch and talked about angels and purpose and Spirit and loss, the things of which women who’ve suffered can speak the same language. I knew then, and now, that the essays contained in this book convey powerful messages every woman of faith can glean hope and insight from. I am grateful for the courage and wisdom of Felice Austin, Lani Axman, Heather Farrell, Robyn Allgood and Sheridan Ripley. These women have compiled a bold spiritual work that weaves a divine thread of hope and healing to the heart of the reader.

I add my voice to the other women on The Gift of Giving Life’s Virtual Book Tour. Visit their page to receive giveaways in the pregnancy, birth and baby departments. Most importantly, read the book! 🙂

The Power of Words

as a man thinketh so is he

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)

God said, and then there was.  Our Creator spoke life into existence.  We have the same power to speak life into our own little worlds.

We also have the capacity to destroy them.

I love words…always have.  Taught myself to read when I was 4 years old because words intrigued me so much.  I sensed their influence and significance and impact.  Words that come forth from our mouths -AND words that are formed in our minds- have the potential to injure or inspire ourselves and others.  Words have matter, force…power.

I did a short internship with Child Protective Services my 2nd year of college.  I say short, because it didn’t take me long to realize that working with the families of abused and neglected children was a little more than my 20 year-old heart could bear.  Hanging in the office of the social worker I did cases with was a poster of a little boy curled up in a corner.  It read, “Words hit harder than a fist.”

I have an inner child that needs healing.  All of us do.  We’ve been hurt by others’ words, and most of us are still listening to the scripts – the “tapes” – in our heads that downplay our magnificence.  We are continuously bombarded by the Adversary with mental/spiritual attacks in the form of injurious words regarding our worth and performance.

I really want to move past downplaying my worth and potential, and that of others.  I’ve often thought how amazing it would be to master beautiful, life-affirming speech in this life…speaking with the tongue of angels.  As in, nothing that comes out of my mouth does anything but build and heal.  Including the conversations I have with myself.

I’m reading Kevin Hall’s book, Aspire, and am loving it.  It’s all about the power of words.  He introduces the word, “Genshai“, which means that you should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small.  “If I were to talk by a beggar in the street and casually toss him a coin, I would not be practicing Genshai.  But if I knelt down on my knees and looked him in the eye when I placed that coin in his hand, that coin became love.  Then and only then, after I had exhibited pure, unconditional brotherly love, would I become a true practitioner of Genshai.”

I think we should practice Genshai on ourselves.  We should use the power of words to create personal beauty and meaning and love and greatness.

In my coaching business, I have women list their fears and inadequacies (negative thoughts about themselves).  Then, I have them list the antithesis to those fears and turn them into positive, life-affirming statements.  I have them carry the statements on notecards and hang them up in various spots in their home or car as reminders:  “I am stepping into supreme confidence and beauty”  “I have a deep understanding of who I am”  “I was born to shine” “I speak with power, truth and intelligence ”  “My eye is single to God and therefore my whole body is full of light”  “My mind is clear and focused”  “The Glory of GOD is manifest in ME”  “Angels attend my children and sentinels stand in my home”  “I am an ambassador for Christ”  “My body is fit and strong”  “I am powerful”  “I am on the Lord’s errand and am doing away with the fear of man”  “My gifts are being magnified”  “I am a woman of Faith and I only answer to my Father and my Savior” and my personal favorite,  “Just as Queen Esther, I WAS BORN FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS.”

I used to read these over and over again, every day – for months – and it was amazing how my internal dialogue shifted.  It was wonderful how people began to respond to me differently; see me in a different light.  I’ve gotten away from this practice, and it’s time to come back.  Words literally have the power to rewire your mind – your DNA – to regard youself as intelligent and beautiful and queenly and precious.

Let there be Light.

Get Rich Quick with the Truth of Who You Are

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A scriptorian friend sent this quote along a few days ago:

“When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons [and daughters!] of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty.”   (The Gospel of Thomas, The Nag Hammadi Library, James M. Robinsoon, General Editor, Harper & Row, 1977, p. 118)       Is that not amazing?  The Nag Hammadi texts were found in Egypt in the 1940’s and are said to be writings of ancient apostles and other spiritual leaders.  I feel they contain much Truth, and I love perusing them.  The aforementioned is from the Gospel of Thomas.       Think about what this is saying – it’s really not reinventing the wheel or anything.  It’s just saying that as we move towards understanding our authentic natures, we move towards becoming known.  We start to “get” everything as we start to “get” ourselves.  There is no confusion about life when there is no confusion about our personal worth.  And that personal worth can only be defined through the lens of Heaven…through the Father in whose image we were created.        Further, when we fail to recognize our status as Children of the Most High, we live in “poverty.”  That’s really not talking about the lack of material wealth as much as it is talking about lack of spiritual riches.  Soul wealth.  Abundance of spirit.        “…it is you who are that poverty.”  Yikes!  When we ignore the inner wisdom that guides us to the Truth of our divine natures, we exist in a state of destitution.  Beggars who are going everywhere but to the real Source to solicit a state of wellbeing will continue to wallow in impoverished LACK.  Such is no way to live, regardless of numbers in a bank account or lavish surroundings.       There’s only one way to feel rich….and to get rich QUICK (like, at the speed of Light).  Start network marketing via the spiritual pipeline route.  Choose Jesus Christ as your direct upline 🙂  He guides you to the abundant wealth of who you really are.       “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”  (2 Cor. 8:9)

Who is the Hardest Person for You to Love?

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Each of us has someone in our life that triggers everything weak within us…makes us want to shake some good solid sense into them…fight them down.  Yet, that person is usually placed on our path as our greatest Teacher.  They point us to the grand earthly struggle towards Charity.

The following is a letter that I wrote someone close to me – a female- about someone else close to me -a male- a few years ago.  Everyone in his circle was beyond what you would call frustrated, which opened the door for honest dialogue and a reflection into our personal abilities to love unconditionally.

Names have been changed.

Dear Taryn,

After you and I talked about Justin the other day, I was left with unclear feelings.  I was wanting to be mad and issue forth justice (have him see the errors of his ways, once and for all) but wondered if it’s best to come from a place of mercy?  At the risk of sounding overly self-righteous and trite, I pondered what Christ would do in the case of our brother Justin.  After all, Justin is Christ’s brother too, and that thought hit me pretty powerfully (especially after I talked this over with my husband Jeff, whom as of late seems to have been hit with the “wisdom of Solomon” stick).

Anyway, I think we all agree Justin is a lost soul.  His actions are frustrating, triggering most of us to anger.  His heart is hardened and he is disillusioned with life and relationships, but I do not believe he is past feeling.  He is still a little lost boy who is looking for love – manipulation style – as this is the only survival method HE believes can work for him.

Mercy is not about being a doormat, tolerating abuse or condoning another’s actions.  It’s just about love.  That person’s level of darkness and disillusionment will be a stark contrast to what you issue forth as you “vibrate” to this charitable way of being towards them.  This is what awakens them to want to live at a higher level or see things differently, not hissing forth ultimatums or lecturing.  THEY know when they are acting out of integrity.  THEY still have the Light of Christ and know that they are hurting themselves and others.  Unless they ask us to point things out for them and seek our counsel, it is not our right to place our will upon theirs.  Enlightenment is a very personal process and when contention is stirred, this gift cannot be called forth within those who are vulnerable and lost.  Love and light are the only healers, the only true messengers of the “mighty change of heart.”

“With what measure he judge, ye shall be judged.” (Matt 7:2)

Coming from me this must sound like the most hypocritical advice ever issued on the planet!!!  I have normally been the one to alert everyone to the error of their ways and offer the most “brilliant” of solutions (which oftentimes ended up being the most ignorant of solutions).  Especially with Shawna while she was still with us.   Lately though, I have been feeling that the real solution to every problem is simply to LOVE.  It’s the entire reason we’ve incarnated into this fallen world in the first place.  To learn to love!  The Lord (and Shawna too, most assuredly) have all but shouted this at me at various junctures and I keep looking for other solutions to fix people and situations.  But when it comes to Justin and a little handful of others who consistently push my buttons, I realize I am being offered teaching moments in this great lesson of loving unconditionally.

Are we to release Justin if he lacks the ability to “perform” to our level of expectations in relationship reciprocity?  I think that is a little harsh.  Perhaps the higher path is loving him IN our resentment…and releasing the resentment itself?  He clearly loves us and wants a relationship with us, just doesn’t know how to achieve it.  If we are always on the “defensive” with him, reading the very worst into his every behavior, how will he have the freedom to discover a relationship with us?  And more importantly, with God?

Granted: the crap Justin is pulling, and has pulled time and again over the years, is at a different and RELENTLESS level.  But does that really matter?  We are told to forgive those who trespass against us “70 times 7.”  Unless we have stewardship with or for another human, we are not to judge or issue forth justice.  And even with the stewardship, it is disciplining “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost…and afterwards showing an INCREASE OF LOVE.”  Our job is simply to love (simply…ha!…as IF it were easy!).

My dear Taryn, as you and I explored on the phone, Justin may never “get it” in this life.  Sometimes the measure of one’s creation is to test others around them (like Jeff’s brother w/ Down Syndrome).  Justin doesn’t yet know how to love, but we do, or we can.  I wholeheartedly believe that those who are the hardest for us to love are the ones carefully placed smack-dab on our paths.  It is NO accident Justin was placed before us here on Earth.  Because he is not at the level of accountability we are (has had light and truth taken from him through his disobedience), how can we expect him to demonstrate healthy love for us before he can have a place in our lives?  I am coming to believe that our interaction with this son of God is not necessarily his test (to “get” it) as much as it is OURS.

He is not one of the “90 and 9” but is one of the lost sheep in Christ’s parable.  Such include those who are the energy sucks, the takers, the manipulators…most of the time just behavioral fronts for being hurt and lost.  Those are the ones Christ sought out while He walked the Earth.  Everyone is worthy of our love.

I hope that this message doesn’t seem like lecturing or holier-than-thou or anything like that.  It’s just a little “call” I’ve been feeling for awhile. I have many regrets for the way I have treated people, talked behind their backs, and judged.  This is something I know I really need to work on, and so more than for you, this message I just wrote is for me.

I love you,
Cherie

Join me on this journey :-)

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This is going to be the year of healing my food issues.  I feel it – I know it.  It’s gonna happen.

Yesterday Jeff and I took our son Noah to a chiropractic neurologist in Idaho.  That dr. is convinced that most of Noah’s sensory integration issues stem from an autoimmune disorder…largely exacerbated by his diet.  He spent a great deal of time explaining to us the physiological implications of gluten/dairy/soy on his compromised “gut blood barrier.”  Lots of scientific terms, but the bottom line was that his system is way sensitive to these foods and that taking them out of his diet could initiate a major turnaround in his condition.  I remember researching gluten-free diets and how impactful they are behaviorally on children with Autism and developmental/sensory  issues.  We did it with Noah for awhile and caved.

Our “caving” has initiated a downturn in his condition.  Which has kinda got me thinking about how I have “caved” in the nutrition department… initiating a downturn in my own well-being.

The drive to eat foods that aren’t for our highest good is HUGE in most all of us. We often crave both what we need and what could eventually kill us.  If we listen to our body’s built-in feedback system, we’re good.  We eat what’s right for us and thrive because we have trained ourselves to listen to how certain foods sit with us afterwards.  But when we turn off that switch – and numb our feedback system, the body suffers.  On so many levels.

Including spiritually….because excessive weight is most definitely a spiritual burden.

What we put in our mouths has a major impact on how we feel.  How can we expect to accomplish our life missions with power and clarity when we don’t feel good?  C’est impossible.

We all want to feel good, and we know eating “right” will assist with that in a major way…so why don’t we just DO it?

The prompting I had to begin the 12 Week “Spiritual Eating” Challenge has been pretty overwhelming.  I wanted to create something with LASTING results.  Not some quick fix diet plan or “rah-rah” motivational regime.  I wanted it to be spiritually based, as that is the only way to achieve deep and complete healing.  I have designed it as a completely online program — that you can read and listen to and work into your own schedule.

It is NOT a diet…although I will offer sensible eating guidelines and a structured nutrition plan that will produce noticeable weight loss.  Weight loss is not the ultimate goal on this plan.  The ultimate goal is to “cure” your unhealthy attachment to foods that harm you.  We’re talking freedom from emotional eating forever.

Consider joining me.  The first group starts Jan 17, but after that first week, you can hop on anytime.  Meaning, I am keeping this program going on this site so that any Monday after Jan 17 you feel ready to start, you can begin the 12 week journey.  I feel this is such a huge issue for almost all women, and needs to be an ongoing thing on this site.

So, if you join me, what you can expect is:

  • Permanent weight loss (physical and emotional)
  • Freedom from food obsession
  • Receiving the confidence to claim healing on all levels from your food issues
  • A solid lifestyle shift into radiant health
  • Loving yourself into changing your body (not forcing or coercing yourself through guilt and shame)
  • Nourishing yourself on ALL levels – emotionally, physically, spiritually as a new HABIT

Take this intensive – yet gentle – challenge and join me.  You can sign up right on this site.  What are you waiting for?  Delaying change out of fear will only keep adding layers of protection to your body.  I have found that the only way out is THROUGH.  Make this your year of healing your food issues…right along with me, cuz THAT is where I am headed!

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I Couldn’t Save Her

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Today she would be 40.  I was going to visit her grave – about 15 minutes from my house – and got too busy.  Or maybe I’m just avoiding.  I don’t know…

I do know that five and a half years after my sister’s suicide, I’m still feeling the stinging pain of her loss.  I’ve already been through the anger phase in the grief cycle.  It’s run its course to the extent that about all I can feel angry about anymore is the fact that she’ll never get wrinkles.  So unfair…

I remember spending some time with a mutual friend of ours – a friend Shawna and I spent a lot of time with in our college years – about a year after Shawna’s passing.  We reminisced about times with Shawna… laughed til we cried and cried til we laughed.  My sister knew how to have fun, and she lit up every room she walked into.  Authentic Shawna was about as sweet and hilarious and amazing as they come.  I admitted to my friend that I deeply regretted putting so much energy into trying to “fix” Shawna and not enough energy into just embracing her.  Right after I dropped off our friend, a certain song came on the radio.

I don’t know how it works on the other side with loved ones reading your feelings, but I swear, Shawna knew my heart perfectly that night – beyond what I’d shared with our friend.  And I don’t know how it works on the other side with tweaking radio stations and prompting dj’s to play certain things at JUST the right time, but…this was most definitely divine timing:

Seems like it was yesterday when I saw your face You told me how proud you were but I walked away If only I knew what I know today I would hold you in my arms I would take the pain away Thank you for all you’ve done Forgive all your mistakes There’s nothing I wouldn’t do To hear your voice again Sometimes I want to call you but I know you won’t be there I’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do And I’ve hurt myself by hurting you Some days I feel broke inside but I won’t admit Sometimes I just want to hide ’cause it’s you I miss You know it’s so hard to say goodbye when it comes to this Would you tell me I was wrong? Would you help me understand? Are you looking down upon me? Are you proud of who I am? There’s nothing I wouldn’t do To have just one more chance To look into your eyes and see you looking back I’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do And I’ve hurt myself If I had just one more day, I would tell you how much that I’ve missed you since you’ve been away Oh, it’s dangerous It’s so out of line to try to turn back timeI’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do And I’ve hurt myself By hurting you

-Hurt, Christina Aguilera

That song launched a sea-storm of emotions in my heart that I’d bottled up since hearing she’d taken her life in that lonely hotel room one year previous.  This has never happened before or since, but I began to hyperventilate.  I let the emotions out and labeled them as they unleashed…. “I ccccouldn’t ssssaaaaaaave you!”  “I am ssssoooooo ssssssorrrry!!!”   “Whyyyyy didn’t I see?”  …and on and on.  I felt her there, sharing in the sadness and remorse.  And love.

Thank heavens there is One who could – and did – and HAS…saved her.  I know this with everything that I am.  She is okay.  More than okay.  She’s Authentic Shawna again.

This knowledge doesn’t take away the human moments that I crave her presence.    Yet – I feel incredibly blessed that her death taught me the most important lesson of my life.  And that is…that being a source of Love and Acceptance is our only job.  It’s why we’re here, and it’s the only way to see anyone through anything.

So Happy Birthday, my beloved sis.  And thank you.

It was Rachmaninoff, and I cried…

miss america crown

I often get asked what my perspective on pageants are, now that it’s been almost 7 years since I held a title…

SUCH a loaded question.

Looking back, I see my pageantry path as one of Divine Tutoring.  Really.  It held amazing value in learning about beauty, articulation, carriage and refinement.  I have been able to meet incredible women of all ages whom I’ve had the opportunity to coach and mentor, “judge” and direct – women who have taught me priceless lessons about Life and myself.  Hard lessons.

Pageants taught me that all women have an innate need – not just desire, but need – to have our beauty and voices honored and celebrated.

It also taught me that we should not judge anyone else’s journey to wholeness.  If I had a dollar for every raised-eyebrowed woman who nonverbally communicated her disapproval of my choice to compete in pageants – displacing the upstanding Christian wife and mother they once believed me to be – I could probably retire.

I learned that when you get the go-ahead from God, that is all that matters.  The voices of others simply must be drowned out when you embark on the True Path He has placed before you.

Even if that “True Path” involves throwing on a swimsuit and a pair of heels and marching out on stage.   Such CAN be a spiritual journey for a woman of Christ…

Would I do it again?  No point.  As a 30-something, it was my divinely orchestrated course.  As a 40-something, it’s not.  I continue to do pageant coaching, but ONLY for those ladies who have gotten that go-ahead from the Heavens…and are doing it for the right reasons.

That worldly crown, I have discovered, is a total illusion

Too often I have seen beautiful and spiritually regal women walk away from a pageant competition feeling less-than, lacking and falling short…simply because they didn’t bring home some manmade, rhinestone-clustered $50 tiara.  I see others searching for a worldly crown to somehow validate their worth.  Or to garner the attention from those they can’t seem to get it from.  Tragic.

My feeling is that God would have all of His daughters discern the priceless, eternal, invisible crowns that adorn our war-torn heads.  By continuing to just look up.

All hell and a tornado broke loose the year I had the crown – it definitely wasn’t stacked with roses and parades.  My husband lost his job, my son was diagnosed with Aspergers, my sister entered a rehab while I cared for two of her children, and then…that same sister took her life 3 weeks before I passed on my crown.  So yes, the earthly crown is an illusion.

We all have spiritual titles that will never get validated through earthly competitions.

My almost 12-year-old daughter Savannah just started taking piano lessons from 2009’s Miss Utah, Whitney Merrifield.  Whitney did a living room concert for Savannah and I – in an attempt, I think, to give my Savannie a glimpse of what is possible.  It was the piece she played at Miss America – the Miss America Pageant she “lost.”

It was Rachmaninoff, and I cried.

I cried because my sister loved Rachmaninoff when she was alive and I cried because my daughter was sitting next to me with wide-open eyes and a wide-open future and I cried because I love music and I love beauty…and I am moved beyond words by seeing both displayed through the willing hands of a gifted and lovely daughter of God.

Last Monday afternoon, Whitney was our Miss America.

The take-home gift I received from my time as Mrs. Utah is best described in an excerpt from “My Kingdom” by Louisa May Alcott.

I do not ask for any crown But that which all may win Nor seek to conquer any world Except the one within.

Be thou my guide until I find, Led by a tender hand, Thy happy kingdom in myself And dare to take command.

Every Woman’s Pain

Ok, so it’s been over a MONTH since I’ve posted.  So sorry…have detached from writing to heed other calls.  Pleasantly surprised to note that there were almost 500 reads on my last post, “Those Who Hunger.” 🙂  Please keep reading, friends!

Yesterday – Saturday – was one of the most powerful and rewarding days of my “life mission” work ever…   I have been in Arizona all weekend, teaching at my friend Sarah’s home in Gilbert.  I conducted an essential oils and “self nurturing/empowerment for women” workshop on Fri night and offered coaching sessions to anyone who was interested that next day, since I knew I had it open before the workshop would resume that evening.  Little did I know what Saturday (yesterday) would yield.

From 7:30 am to 6:30 pm, I planted myself on a couch, stuck a Kleenex box on the coffee table, and had a series of one hour coaching sessions with about 10 different women.  Here is a sampling of the struggles that these brave and amazing females shared with me (BTW, we fully utilized the Kleenex):

  • “Emma’s” twin baby boys died shortly after birth.  She had a 2 year-old boy at the time, and has since had another baby boy.  She’s trying to be an emotionally brave and engaging mother to the two boys still living, afraid to let the grief surface for the two she has lost.
  • “Kelly” – about 35 years old – struggles with panic and anxiety, wanting to give everything and all that is in her to her children.  Fear of not being enough, of messing them up.  Her 4 year-old daughter is so stricken with anxiety that she will use the bathroom up to 100 times per day.  Another young daughter also suffering with crippling anxiety.
  • “Jane’s” son, who is in his 30’s and lives in her home, writhes in mental/emotional torment, has drug dependency issues and cannot hold a job.  Her heart breaks for his choices, his emotional “hell”…feels responsible for his issues, feels her “inadequate” mothering in his younger years must have created his current reality.
  • “Suzy” – a 30 year-old mother of 3 young children, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, persistent self-defeating thoughts.
  • “Carly”, in recovery for prescription drug dependence…3 children, about the ages of mine.  At one of her low points, consumed a gallon of vodka a day, while simultaneously serving in a high Church position.  Beautiful, vibrant lady…recently relapsed, still plugging along with 4+ recovery meetings a week.  Is resolved to endure to the end and see this addiction through.
  • “Gina” feels resentment, even contempt, for her husband of 20 years as he ignores, rejects, insults with his silence.  Weight is slowly layering itself on her body as she insulates herself against the pain.
  • “Laura” is searching for expression of her feminine gifts (beauty, passion, mission) in the midst of homeschooling 10 children.  Looking for expansion of her role as Woman outside her role as Mother.
  • “Amanda” is a put together 30-something with 2 children and joints that are falling apart.  Arthritis forming.  Trying to detach from her mother that she recently discovered has a toxic influence on her.  Is on a journey of physical/emotional healing and self-exploration.

I saw myself -at various stages of my life – in every one of them.  After those 11 hours, I taught a 3 hour workshop, then stayed up talking to my friend Jen (whom I’d brought with me from Utah to sing and share) until 2 am.  Jen, I might mention, has alcoholic parents, a sister who is homosexual, a sister who is a drug addict and a brother on death row.

How INSPIRED I am by all of the women who live with pain, disease, trauma, rejection…and wholeheartedly desire to create a higher state of being and becoming in the midst of it.  Every woman of Truth holds immense pain in parts of her body.  But IN that Truth, she opens her soul to incredible Sources of strength and resiliency.  She stares adversity down and keeps hope alive in her heart.  Our points of pain are our points of power.  Breakdowns can be deep and meaningful spiritual awakenings.

It was back-to-back, non-stop looking into the eyes of beautiful, struggling souls for 19 hours straight.  I have never had a day like yesterday.  I was immersed – suspended – in a total state of love and awe and inspiration and Truth.  There was no room for fatigue, though I expected it to hit any moment.  I was fueled and fed on so many levels.

And then on the plane this morning, feeling exhausted, worn out in a good way, and still marveling at my yesterday…  I get wedged between 2 huge college football players.   I’m feeling protective and intimidated and who knows what, but then a little voice inside me says, “Your weekend ministry’s not finished.”  There are no accidents in where we are placed – and with whom – when we resolve to be one of His disciples.

I listened to one of these guys talk about his grandmother who’d died 3 days previous, saw the pain in his eyes, and discerned God was far from his heart.  His friend to my right, likewise.  I think if I hadn’t had such a beatuiful yesterday – a rare Earth day that was consumed in Light and Truth – I wouldn’t have been as energized to release the fear and go to the “love” with such intimidating-looking creatures.  All I could see were wounded little boys in big ol’ bumbling bodies.

I am today – nothing short of exhausted.  Glad to be back home, back to a sweet husband who kept the house clean and children whom I believe were watched over by an extra team of angels so I could be about my Father’s business.  I think what I hold in my heart tonight is relief that I am not alone in my pain and my grief and my inadequacy and my regrets. Every person walking this lonely planet holds all of the above.

And the relief is not just about my not being the only one who feels those burdens…my relief is that I do not have to carry them.  I hope that I was able to communicate to each of those women, and in some small way to those two young men, that there is One who waits to take their burdens on Himself.  Showing up to communicate this to them has gracefully reaffirmed it to my own soul…

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.   For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

-Matt 11:28-30

Those Who Hunger

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A couple of weeks ago, I went to pick something up from my friend Jen’s house, thinking I’d be in and out of there and on my merry way – and ended up in an engrossing conversation on her couch for almost 2 hours.  About eating.  Jen’s one of those friends who can speak Truth with courage and frankness, magically helping a mass of emotion to form in my throat by pinpointing exactly what I need to hear.

But somehow resist wanting to.

We hadn’t had a real talk for awhile, and I wanted to hear all about how she’d released 75 pounds from her body in recent months.  This led to her helping me process why I’d added 25 pounds to mine.

“This isn’t you,” she said, motioning to my physical frame.  Oddly, I wasn’t offended, just relieved that someone had voiced the obvious.  (Even my husband won’t go there)…

“I know, Jen!” I wailed.  “Why is food such a looming issue for me…and for every woman I know?  What IS it about food?!?”

Food, we reckoned together, is not the issue.  Neither is eating.  The more relevant question to ask is, “What am I really hungry for?”

She helped me understand that sometimes we need to sit with the hunger before we reach for a counterfeit means to fill our souls.  Most of us are hungry for connection, attachment, security.  Being hungry scares us; incites panic.  Food creates the illusion of emotional attachment when in reality it is designed to meet our physical needs.  We often reach for food in an act of desperation, to fill that “hole” in our lives, wanting immediate relief and satiation.  Eating to avoid feeling – or thinking -puts a veil over our surfacing painful emotions and buries them further inside our bodies.

As to why I eat unconsciously…well, you know you’re getting close to the why when it makes you cry.  Hence, the nearer my dear friend got to my “why”, the larger that mass of emotion swelled in my throat.

Ah, the lies we tell ourselves without really knowing it.  Here are some subconscious emotional programs that my friend helped me realize I’ve been running:

  • “It’s not safe to be a beautiful woman.”  If I go back to the size I was when I held my Mrs. beauty pageant title 7 years ago, I will attract inappropriate attention to myself (most particularly, from men).  That pageant body wasn’t safe – I need to create a barrier (extra weight) between my beauty and the wandering eyes of the male species.
  • “Women won’t be able to relate to me if I’m thinner.”  I’ll just go ahead and place a physical block (extra weight) between myself and freedom from the voices of others.  I need to please other people.  The women I teach need to relate to me, no matter the cost.  No matter how inauthentic I may feel in an expanding body and compromised energy level.
  • “I need protection from my grief.”  I’ll eat to dull the searing disappointment of losing 4 babies.  To nourish a phantom pregnancy.  To feed the empty space.

These a-ha’s (aka lies) were nearly overwhelming to discover.  I knew that God had sent me to Jen’s door that day, and we’ve since had deep conversations about food and eating.  She has collaborated on an album called Recovery and is coming to sing and speak at my Breakthrough Conference for women on the 16th, which I’m thrilled about.  The women I’ve gathered to speak at this event – Jen Marco Handy included- have incredible stories and insights to share.

Though I’m organizing it and am one of the speakers, I’m looking for some more little Breakthroughs of my own that day.  I’m sure I have more “whys” that are awaiting discovery.  All I know is that in this mortal sphere, the body and spirit are married.  When one suffers – when one is not fed – the other will starve.

What keeps knawing at me is that word, HUNGER.  Do we focus on curbing it, feeding it…or just allowing it to be what it is?  The tendency, physically and spiritually, is to FEED it.  What I’m discovering is that little ol’ me lacks the ability to truly feed myself appropriately.  I can’t satiate my own hunger; heal my own grief; unveil my own authenticity.

If we’re all just hungry for peace and connection and attachment and safety, there is really only one Source that has it all under one roof.  Food is the illusion.  Jesus Christ is the reality.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. – John 6:35

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. – Matt 5:6

How Could He Love Them as I Do?

Thirteen – almost 14 – years ago, my entire existence did a complete 360.  Since 1996, I have been consumed – yes consumed is the perfect word here – with feelings I didn’t know I possessed.  Feelings that seemed to burst right out of me, spontaneously.  Naturally.  I’m talking about raw, instinctual, powerful emotions.  Pure love.  Overwhelming joy.  Pure frustration.  Overwhelming fear.

In 1996, I became a Mother.

My Noah, my “firstborn in the wilderness”…10 days overdue, 40 hours of labor (12 of it excruciating enough to propel me to pray to die), 3 hours of pushing out all 9 pounds of him.  He took his time; his wise, sweet-natured, steady time, as I pained and cried and questioned and panicked.

At almost 14, Noah’s still my teacher in this regard.  On waiting on God.  Trusting in His time.  Trusting in His natural, all-consuming, powerful, instinctual, pure love.

As a mother, you want to feel like your children are high up on the priority list in heaven.  Like the angels have charge concerning them.  That God has their backs.

Your 27 -year-old psyche doesn’t grasp, as you hold a soft, precious baby in your arms – your baby – how a remote and mysterious Father could possibly love this little one half as much as you.

And then your 29 year-old self is bursting through an emergency room door, cradling a toddler in a blanket, who’s been so badly burned you and your husband couldn’t wait for the ambulance.  Why are your eyes so desperate while your toddler son’s hold such peace?  Husband lays his hands on your little one in the hospital, calling down a miracle…acting as proxy for the Father who physically couldn’t be there.  No scars remain, no permanent damage done.

Forgetting the miracle, the 36-year-old you is falling to her knees.  Begging for heavenly aid to reach your 9 year-old son.  The son sitting in a corner, hands on his head, rocking back and forth and banging his skull into the wall like he wants to climb right out of his skin, right out of this world.

“Have you forgotten my Noah, Father?” I wail.

“Our Noah,” was the reply, “And no, I have not.”

No, He had not.  3 days later, I had answers.  Aspergers (a high-functioning form of Autism).  What some would term a disorder, but what the Spirit would teach, over the years, is a gift.  Other-worldly.  A protection.   A teacher.

You’d THINK – wouldn’t you – that your 41 year-old self would have gotten it by now?  But she struggles.  She struggles to watch her wise and steady son go through a move, start junior high, and pull his hair out.  Literally.  He does not want to pull his hair out, he explains to you and the psychologist, but he cannot stop.  He is losing his hair and his faith and his hope.  Now, the desperation’s in his eyes. And he searches to find peace in mine.

My Noah, my messenger, my firstborn in the wilderness.  The emotional barometer in our home.  The one who alerts our spirits to impending seasons of healing.  Sacred Stations.

Never have my pleas for another soul been as blazing and urgent.  It was a dark afternoon, not more than 6 weeks ago, that I pulled into the parking lot of a nearby temple, faced eastward and expelled every fear-based emotion my body was holding for my son.  The core of my maternal heart was shattering for my 13 year-old, and I lifted my eyes to the pinnacle of the temple, sobbing, petitioning, begging, pleading…entreating the assistance of heaven once again.  For our Noah.

Perhaps because the 27 or the 29 or the 36 year-old me may not have gotten the lesson of the Father’s love for my son quite strongly enough, I needed to witness another miracle.  I needed to be reminded that the boy I am raising was already raised in the light of perfected parenting, eons before he was stationed in my care.  I needed to not just be reminded, but to feel, that Noah is known, loved, cherished…every whit.

The miracle commenced when loved ones – healers – showed up immediately to comfort me and ground Noah, acting as the Savior’s hands and feet.  It was not two mornings later when, upon waking, I downloaded a new treatment plan.  The supplements, the essential oils, the diet, the routines, the practitioners…all of it.   A month later, a psychologist is scratching his head and Noah and I are smiling and locking arms, walking out of Dr. B’s parking lot.  Spiritually victorious, basking in the light of another miracle.

Noah says he does not mind me sharing this, because a great shift is taking place.  We know we are not out of the woods, and that there will be more lessons in store for his noble soul as he matures.  But I had to write about this tonight, as my mother’s heart is bursting with gratitude.  Yesterday he returned from a week at Scout Camp, and he seemed so…grown.  Tanned and taller, his eyes more blue, his gait more sure. His smile more fixed.

I looked upon him yesterday with the same intensity as the times I’ve looked upon my other children in those intensely emotional mothering moments, completely absorbed with pure, permeating love for them.  And my fleeting thought is always, How could He love them as I do?  I had the impression that when my mother’s heart is feeling this pure love, it originates from Him.  I am feeling HIS love for my child in those consuming moments.  I am literally being filled with His love for my child.

Our Noah.

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Noah and me in 2004…Noah, age 7-going-on-20, and my 35 year-old self