Monday, May 23, 2011

Random Musings, Part I

It’s funny, the memories from our past that are seared into our brains, crystal clear… I remember it was the spring of my senior year of college. I was sitting with my dad in his truck outside of my house. It had been an incredibly tough year for me emotionally, and I wasn’t sure if I was more ready for it to come to an end or dreading what the future might entail. I had been working with a counselor on campus to deal with some of my struggles, and she was encouraging me to talk with my parents about some of my feelings. I finally worked up some courage, and decided to talk to my dad about some things that had hurt my feelings recently. He was the “safer” parent for me. I felt like I could tell him things and not be criticized, like with my mom. After sharing my feelings about some recent interactions and conversations, specifically about feeling unimportant to him and demeaned by my step-mother, I sat and waited for his response. In my naïve, fantasy-filled mind, I was expecting a warm fatherly response a la Mike Sever from Growing Pains  or Danny Tanner from Full House….I would have even been ok with the less deep, yet always humorous, Cliff Huxtable. (I was like the female version of the television crazed boy from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.) I wanted to share my feelings and have everything resolved in 30 minutes. Instead, my dad launched into a speech on how wrong and inaccurate I was. The last thing I remember him saying was, “Your step-mother is right, you are angry and bitter just like your mom!” He may have said more after that, but all I heard as my eyes filled with tears was “Angry…Bitter….Like your mother.” Those words cut through me and lodged deep in my shame filled heart...


Monday, May 16, 2011


Have you ever had someone tell you something and it makes you feel really shitty? Something said gently, and out of love, but it feels really "icky" because you know they are right?

That just happened to me. I hate it.

And now I'm this dam of emotion about to burst, but I can't release it because I'm at work (or I have to take care of my kids, or I'm around people I don't know or I don't have time or... whatever other reason I come up with to "push through".)

It has happened before... The words usually come from my counselor, a co-worker or a church sermon. The sermon is usually just a little uncomfortable, but its bearable because it's not a direct confrontation. With loved ones, it hits much closer to home.

The problem is my stupid shame that immediately punches me in the gut. The only slightly healthy thing I do is to not lash out at them or get defensive verbally with them. At least I realize its my own issue, right? But I also withdraw. Whether it happens in group, an email, or a face to face convo- it hurts, I feel even shittier about myself, so I try to run away and hide while thinking 15 million horrible things about myself, and still not addressing the issue. Probably because it terrifies me.

<sigh> Well, I'm searching for authenticity, right? I guess I better dig in...

Friday, May 6, 2011


Yes, this stands for Thank Goodness It's Friday (which I always associate with watching Full House, Perfect Strangers, Family Matters and etc, growing up in the 90's) but it also represents this...

So today...
I am trusting... myself to listen and to take care of myself.

I am grateful for... friends who make me laugh, make me cry, and make my day.

I am inspired by... the empowerment of yoga and seeing others step out in faith.

You Never Let Go

 I was driving to work, and falling apart. I felt like I needed a song to speak to me, but it was all just commercial-ish.. I said a prayer, "Please God. Let me hear You."

So He did. And I cried more.
Yes, I can see a light, that is coming 
for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end 

to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

-Matt Redman

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Work

At one end, a cold, dark abyss with menacing, droning music and wispy tendrils of apathy, shame, and depression wafting out like a gray mist…. Some would run, fleeing the all-encompassing darkness & negativity… If only it were that easy. For others, it’s ironically safe in the numbness of the dark.

The other end… a glimmering scene of twinkle-lights and candles; the scent of hope and authenticity glide on vanilla and almond, while the faint laughter of children and sweet, soulful music drifts in and out, like waves crashing on the shore….

I’m in the middle…with some invisible cord pulling me toward the darkness… I’m desperately trying, with painfully deliberate steps to get closer to the joy… the hope…the peace. The closer I get, the harder I’m pulled back. Inch forward, then slide back… One action, one thought, one step at a time… getting closer… 

If I   r   e     a      c       h     out…. I… can…. almost…. make it….


Yanked backward with a jolt… that brief encounter had brought peace, hope and joy… in terrifying amounts.  That one moment of fear…fear of the beautiful, unfamiliar phenomenon,  made the tiniest little fracture which sent shame, depression and anxiety stampeding up,  trampling me, and sending me soaring back to the darkness.

It’s safer here, I guess. Comforting. It’s what I know. Numb, apathetic…lonely. But, then I can’t feel the hurt… sadness… rejection… if I get numb enough, I can ignore the shame.

But numbing the bad, also numbs the good, doesn’t it? Can’t feel lonely and sad, but can’t feel joy, hope, or connectedness… Maybe that’s just how it is for me. Maybe I’m not meant for those things.

Then, I hear it. Ever so softly….

You were made for more this.
 I made you for more than this….
Steph, listen… HEAR.
You. Were. Made. For. More.

So I sigh a little, pray a little, wipe the tears,  then stand up.  And I start over.  One action, one thought, one step at a time…

Monday, May 2, 2011


On Easter Sunday, we started a new series (Out of the Dust, Into the Divine) at my church. The first two weeks have been incredibly powerful, and "surprisingly" they have been connected with many things I'm supposed to be working on. Imagine that :-)

This weeks message was centered on Belief, and more specifically, what it means "to believe that you are what God says you are in Him right NOW, even when the fullness of that reality is not yet visible."  The analogy of "seeds" was used often. At the end of the message, Pastor Dave gave us some time of silent prayer to talk with God about what seeds within us, we want to develop- with His guidance; what issues about ourselves are getting in the way of that belief that we are what God says we are...

For me, I want to "grow" worthiness, vulnerability, courage, and joy.

What seeds to you want to plant?


I have been working on finding things that bring me joy, bring me peace, and are ways I truly enjoy spending my time.

I've found it....


I've tried vinyasa and ashtanga. My favorite at this point is Hot Yoga, which is vinyasa yoga in a room heated to 90 degrees.

As silly as it sounds, I think its changing my life. After a time of yoga practice, I feel empowered, confident and joyful. Those are not feelings I frequently associate with. In Brené's book, she describes joy as being a "spiritual way of engaging with the world that's connected to practicing gratitude (p. 79)." She goes on to share a Methodist pastor's explanation of the Greek root for joy. The Greek word for joy is chairo, which is "the culminating of being" and the "good mood of the soul." (p.81) I want to open up to vulnerability and find a "joyful life made up of joyful moments strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith (p. 82)"

The quiet meditation at the end of each session helps me relax, still my mind, and connect with myself and God. I have heard that some Christians are against yoga because they feel it is anti-Christian. Maybe some practices of yoga are, but for me it is actually a way to help me "Be Still" and get in touch with God. My  hope is to memorize some salutations or routines, and to practice yoga at home, while exploring bible verses and talking with God.

So, thanks to my dear friend Elissa, and the encouragement of another dear friend, Susanna, I have quickly become a yoga junkie (in a completely emotionally healthy way, of course!)