Category Archives: Jesus

What Fills Your Soul? (#5 Wisdom Along the Way)

 

What Fills Your Soul?

Have you considered this question lately? Ever?

It could also be asked, what makes your heart sing?

Why is this even important?

Because, Dear One, You and Your Soul matter!

Sometimes I have needed permission to be good to myself. It has been easy for me to keep a hectic pace, do ‘good’ things for everyone and just be busy.

And some of this ‘serving others’ does fill my soul.

However, only when my soul is already in a filled up, healthy place, to begin with.

I am not saying you shouldn’t serve others if you are not filled up first. If you are human, you probably serve others in some way.

If you are female, you do serve others, usually a lot.

I am saying to sustain serving others requires that you recharge. And even if you don’t think you are in a ‘serving others’ place, we are all required to serve ourselves with good self care.

The best way I know how to do this is a Soul Filling Session!

What is a Soul Filling Session? I actually just made that up… but let’s delve a little deeper.

We all recharge in our own unique ways. When I am talking about Soul Filling, I am not only talking about physically rested, well nourished and healthy. I am talking something spiritual, sacred and soulful.

Whatever your belief system, most of us believe in a higher power, God, Jesus, Source etc…

I belong to a group of believers that agree our souls arrived here in this lifetime pure, perfect and unhindered. I also know that the journey of life has added struggle, lies and light dampening experience to every soul I have ever encountered.

The process of Soul Filling, for me, means to check out of my daily ‘to do’ list and check in to my sacred inner and outer space of being.

I am most Soul Present in:

Nature

Solitude

Beauty and

Quiet

This can look like being anywhere in nature, going for a walk outside, journaling in a peaceful setting, reading the Bible or a soul filling book, doing art in a room with a view, being anywhere in a natural setting  or even being home in a quiet, lovely space I have created for prayer or meditation. These places are where I check in with my soul.

These places may look very different for you. And that is perfectly incredible and awesome that you have found your own Soul Filling experience!

Questions I may ask myself:

  1. How am I?
  2. Am I operating from love? Or am I operating from duty, fear, people pleasing, need for approval, obligation or guilt?
  3. Am I believing a lie (or lies)? What is the truth?
  4. How does my body feel? Healthy, energized, rested and well? Or am I tense, sick, in pain, tired or stressed?
  5. Is my life currently aligned mostly with love, joy, peace or not? What about my relationships? My work? My home?

The answers to these questions give me clues. Even if I am in good places, but depleted, I know I need some Soul Filling.

My personal criteria for Soul Filling time/activities are:

  1. I end up feeling more love, more joy and more peace.
  2. I feel very connected to Jesus or my Source.
  3. My shoulders relax and my breathing becomes deep and unhindered.
  4. Hope increases.
  5. Strife leaves.

I urge you to spend some time thinking about what a personal Soul Filling Session might look like for you? Maybe even consider a few different scenarios. What if you only had 15 minutes? Or an hour? Maybe you can carve a weekend or a week to delve deep into filling your very precious Soul with what it most needs and desires.

What do you hear, see, feel when you ask, “What does a Soul Filling Session look like for me? What does my Soul most need?”

Sometimes my Soul desires solitude and nature. Other times my Soul needs to feel heard and understood by me or even someone near and dear to me. Frequently my Soul wants to check out of the daily routine and create, adventure or explore.

There is no right or wrong path to Soul Filling. The only wrong way would be to not do it at all.

This week for my Soul Filling I was able to intentionally carve out a number of time slots and various experiences. They ranged from five minutes to five hours. Here they are:

  1. I walked and prayed down a beautiful country road, lined with trees turning colors of Autumn with golden sunshine dripping through the canopy cover.
  2. I pondered the leaves gently falling from their Mother Tree to the Forest Floor.
  3. I lit a candle – earthy and herbal, turned on some quiet Jazz music and read Richard Rohr’s daily email meditation.
  4. I opened up my journal, did a free flowing – no judgement – cleanse of my thoughts, feelings, or observations – writing session. (I may have been bratty, bitchy, even ugly here – but I got it out from the inside of me).
  5. I practiced daily gratitude journaling.
  6. I lost myself in the creative practice of making art.
  7. I played with my dogs – outside, pondered the beauty of crisp fall days and smelled the flowers (literally).
  8. I escaped into a beautiful story wrapped in the pages of a book.
  9. I spent relational connection time with my wonderful husband.
  10. I chatted, at length, with some God girlfriends who fill my Soul.

I encourage YOU, Dear Heart, to discover and regularly visit Your Own Soul Filling Sessions.

And I would love to hear what they are!

The True You ( #4 Wisdom Along the Way)

 

You have just come across the most enchanting child.

This child is innocent, playful, curious and filled with joy. You are invited to join this child for a wondrous journey of exploration.

You clasp hands, feeling honored that this pure and bright little person trusts you and wants your companionship.

As you walk through a tall and misty forest you notice sounds and smells that you have forgotten to appreciate. The breeze is gently rustling through branches, birds are cavorting overhead and the earth smells fresh and musky at the same time. You breathe deeply. You are completely present and in the moment. Calm washes over you.

The child bends down and grabs a fallen feather, bright blue, glossy black and white. A small hand pulls you down to share this new found treasure. Your eyes meet.

Your gaze locks with this precious little one and you see your own eyes staring back at you.

This. Can’t. Be. You.

But it is.

Hot tears gather in your eyes. Your throat gets tight making it hard to swallow past the lump. Your chest painfully constricts. A tear escapes.

When did everything change? When did this innocence leave? When did you decide to put on masks to fit in? When did you squelch your dreams to meet other’s expectations? When did you adopt hard coping mechanisms to self protect?

When did you lose the Joyous Freedom of being the True You?

Do you know?

Somewhere along the path of life it seems we decide that there is a better way to be ourselves. Or circumstances dictate we retreat. We decide the True Me needs to hide, be protected, change, disappear, be quiet/louder/better… etc. But what if this is a Lie?

What if it is the True You that is the answer you have been longing for?

God only made one You.

One in 7.5 billion people.

This expression of YOU is unique and glorious because it is YOU!

So much of what we are called to do in our life time comes out of knowing our True self. Everyone seems to want to know their purpose. Everyone deeply wants to know they are okay.

“When you get your, ‘Who am I?’, question right, all of your, ‘What should I do?’ questions tend to take care of themselves.” -Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

When you ask the question, “Who am I?”, what is your answer?

Do you hear the voices of others, describing what you do in their lives? Do you hear tapes from your past, labeling you? Does your inner critic trump the loving voice of your spirit or of God?

Do you know what you truly like? Do you know what your love languages are? Do you know what you are good at? Do you know what your life’s purpose is? Do you know why your relationships work or don’t work? Do you know how others perceive you? Are you comfortable with yourself? Do you know what your strengths are? Do you know what your personality types are? Do you know if you are introverted or extroverted? Do you know your coping mechanisms? Do you know your conflict resolution style? Do you know how incredibly amazing YOU are?

If no one has ever encouraged you to go on this adventure, let me!

That cherished child we visited has gifts and talents and desires that are crying out to be set free and shared.

What if we take this on as an assignment?

There are SO many places to start. Taking the time for self exploration may be one of the most important things we ever do, whether alone; reading, praying, journaling or in in groups; intensives, retreats, counseling.

There are a load of free on line assessments to get you started. Some of my favorites are:

  • StrengthsFinder
  • DISC
  • Myers-Briggs
  • Enneagram
  • Love Languages
  • The 4 Tendencies

Look at the results. Buy the books. Sit with them. Journal about them. Do the assessments with a trusted friend. Pray about them. Ask your safe loved ones how they experience you. Be open to the answers you hear and the answers y0u discover.

Some clues for me that something is important for my soul include: physical responses like deeper breathing, shoulders relaxing or heart beating faster, sweaty palms. Sometimes, colors or words or smells stand out in a unique way. Other times a theme will start recurring in my life (I will see it everywhere!), like a certain phrase or Bible verse. 

Pay attention Dear Heart, God is always talking to us – through our bodies, through nature, through our experiences and through others.

This getting to the True You is a lifetime process. There are seasons and situations that cause us to dig deeper and others where we are more reflective or engaged in different areas of our life. They are both to be expected and embraced.

Just don’t ever quit becoming the TRUE YOU.

 

Photo Credit: danielle-cohen.com

YOU ARE A FREAKING MIRACLE! (#2 Wisdom Along the Way)

Dear Precious YOU,

Sometimes we forget who really are.

Or, maybe we never really knew.

Too much has happened.

We don’t have what it takes.

We’ve done too much harm.

We aren’t good enough.

We will never measure up.

We haven’t done enough.

In our mind we are broken, bad or beat down by the circumstances or choices of our lives.

I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.

It is never too late to search for and accept a hand up, to dust off your knees, wipe the tears from your cheeks and discover the incredible creation that is YOU.

I am not talking false platitudes here.

You are a living, breathing, supernatural phenomenon!

Look at what YOU have been through.

Look at what YOU have survived!

You are still here.

That is NO accident.

Cloaking the hurt or shame with silence, anger, sarcasm or numbing may feel like the only safe option.

That is simply not true.

There is not a soul walking this planet who doesn’t have a tragedy in their story that would crack our hearts wide open. If we listened.

No one gets a free pass. No one has this thing called life all figured out. It may look that way from the outside, but trust me, beneath the surface we are all more alike than different.

This life walk were are on;

YOU can do it.

This knee buckling, heart breaking catastrophe;

YOU will get through it.

This dead end – brick wall – glass ceiling – mountain in front of you,

there is a WAY around or through it.

This thing called LIFE, we were never meant to do it alone.

Take this journey to YOU. Don’t stop. Get help. Don’t stop. Find a friend, a group, a church, a counselor. RELENTLESSLY search for those who lift you up, NOT those who commiserate with You.

The WORLD only gets ONE YOU.

I see the spark still burning in your eye, in your heart. Fan that flame!

I know it’s scary. Because I did it and I do it.

The BRAVEST thing I ever did was find a good counselor (it was my third attempt by the way), share my truth, share the shame and the hurts and the story that had been my life. This was not a one week or a one month process. This took YEARS of work and tears and digging to resurrect HOPE in my life. AND every single day of the painful journey, I would do again, to get to this Peace-full, Hope-full and Joy-full place I now live.

The WISEST thing I ever did was ask Jesus to help me. I still do this everyday.

These steps began a 16 year healing journey, that I am still on.

Do whatever it takes!

YOU are worth WHATEVER IT TAKES! You are worth the sacrifice, pushing through the fear, taking the time, showing up, spending the money and making the effort!

YOU are More than OKAY!

YOU are More than ENOUGH!

YOU ARE A FREAKING MIRACLE!

I PROMISE!

 

 RESOURCES:

  • Celebrate Recovery (for hurts, habits and hang-ups/ not only addiction)
  • 12 Step Programs
  • New Life Ministries  newlife.com (counselor network and intensives)
  • Your Local Church
  • Your School’s Counseling Office
  • braveliving.com Soul Restoration
  • Your friend with the kind eyes and a big heart
  • Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr
  • The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
  • You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
  • Captivating or Wild at Heart, by Stasi and John Eldredge

Photo Credit: danielle-cohen.com

Finding Faith (#1 Wisdom along the Way)

 

Faith, like a flower, starts with a seed.

A simple whisper at the beginning of time blossoms into surety and confidence in that which we know for sure.

It is not a stationary or stagnant arrival, but an unfurling along the pathways of our life.

Faith, as intangible as it may seem, becomes the sinew that holds us together on our journey.

This mystical, magical, supernatural gift of a soul to unwavering knowing, believing and being, seems to happen in a myriad of ways. For me, it’s been a journey.

Often we grow up listening to our parent’s or elder’s beliefs, faith or religion. Frequently these same things we subconsciously adopt or reject. But have we took them off the shelf of our mind and moved them into the personal realm of our heart and soul, as our own?

My Faith Journey has been gloriously messy.

In my late teens and early twenties I was very positive of my faith. I would have told you I was a Christian. I would have told you a hundred things I would never do. I would have told you a set of hard and fast rules I lived by. I had faith in myself and really, nothing else.

Then my first child was born. I took one look at that miraculous little human and truly knew for the first time in my life that God was absolutely real. With that realization a chain reaction began in my life. This new thing I now knew: that without a doubt there was God. What else did I truly, gut wrenchingly know?

I found out I didn’t know, as in really have Faith, regarding that many things or people or principles in my life.

I could parrot a lot of what I had been taught. But I didn’t own, at a soul level, many of my ‘for sures.’ Like, ‘for sure,’ I would never: divorce, lie, cheat, have an affair, declare bankruptcy, drink too much, over eat, let someone see me cry, hit my child, be depressed, scream in public, go out without make up on, go to the grocery store in pajamas, be homeless, not pay my bills, become overweight…Then there were my ‘rules’ such as: Perception is everything…We work hard and play hard…etc… Were these my faith?

I now know that those are not ‘things’ for me to have faith in. Plus I failed at most of them! My behaviors and personal rules have very little to do with my faith and everything to do with the outcome of what my faith is. But they are not my faith.

Faith is so much deeper than something I said about myself or something I did or did not do.

So I went on a Faith exploration mission.

Faith, for me, had to do with God. At least that was where I was grabbed. I had this deep seated, organic, earthy, ethereal, wondrous nagging to know more. Faith might grab your attention at a sunrise, or a tragedy or a symphony. Really, there is no telling where you may first hear the whisper of Faith, calling you.

I do believe that Faith does keep whispering until we hear. And when we do hear, Faith sings a siren’s song pulling us deeply into the quest for more.

Because my Faith quest had to do with God, I began reading the Bible (or at least trying to). It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, so I found a church that taught the Bible. Both were good. But they weren’t this Faith thing calling me. I visited other churches. I went on spiritual retreats all over the country. I began to hear the voice of God through the teachers and pastors and books and wind and rushing water and waves and silent misty mornings. I began to see God on mission trips, in the faces of homeless people and the faces of CEOs, in the beautiful deeds of selfless people and in the ravages of war torn countries, and in the rebirth of the land every Spring and every morning in the sunrise.

I met Jesus of Nazareth. Not only in doctrine and theology. Not only in church and the Bible. Not only in other people. Not only in the beauty of creation. Not only in my own family. But also in the quiet still small voice that whispered through my soul. In my dark places. In my pain and in my grief. In my wonder and in my joy. In the mystery of not being able to clearly define, describe or logically explain this divine presence that had overtook my life.

I had found Faith. My Faith lies in Jesus. I have Faith that Love is the answer.

My call to you is not a call to Jesus. That is not my job.

Instead, I encourage you to listen to the whispers calling you. Seek that which draws your soul into a larger story. Unearth the delight, comfort and joy of Faith on your journey.

Call of My Wild Soul

Sometimes, when you least expect it, and think it can’t possibly happen this BIG, this WAY, ever again – our Hearts are Cracked Wide Open.

God has been this way for me for many years now, and I am pretty sure, I will never get used to or expect the expansive goodness that comes from our Creator.

For me, my filter is Jesus. And no, I am not saying He must be yours. I simply ache to share my experience.

This last week I was at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico for an art retreat titled: Call of the Wild Soul. It was incredible.

First and foremost, I admit, I cry every time I see the Rocky Mountains. I am a Midwesterner whose heart and soul lives in the mountain forests and streams. My husband loves the Caribbean, so we have compromised and I also love the island of Captiva. But, I HEAR GOD in the mountains. And I hear the whisper of creation through the mountains, valley, cedars, water and rocks of this rugged land.

Call of the Wild Soul is an art retreat. So you think: artists making or teaching art. Right? But this was So Much More.

First, Ghost Ranch has a rich and creative history. It is where Georgia O’Keeffe sequestered herself and painted many of her famous paintings. It is a land rich with a checkered past of artists, outlaws, natives, entrepreneurs and religious icons. Second, it is a thin place. Ghost Ranch and its 21,000 acres are one of those places where heaven and earth intermingle. You simply cannot walk on its land and not feel a connection to something larger than yourself. There is even a labyrinth set up for whatever religious practice you prefer. Currently the Ranch is owned by the Presbyterian Church, and there are many beautiful and stunning places to worship.

Next, imagine a place where visual artists, Bluegrass artists, bird watchers, travelers, cowboys and truth seekers all meet up to experience what the wildness of the land has to offer. Pure serendipity happens. All meld together. It Is Magical.

While I was at this amazing retreat I experienced new art technique, new ways to connect to nature, camaraderie with an amazing sisterhood, and brotherhood, and at one-ness with the land and nature. My cup is full and overflowing!

At the same time all this was happening I did some growing up. As much as I loved all the classes and teachers, I was able to follow my own compass. When a time came to follow my own heart and joy versus curriculum, I chose me. This was a huge and transformative experience for me. As much as I would like to say I am no longer a people pleaser, I still like to go with the flow to not rock the boat or hurt people’s feelings. I was presented with the opportunity to conform to a class that wasn’t resonating with me. I chose not to attend the second day and instead attend to the joy of following my heart. And I Did. It was like breaking free from a self imposed cage!

During this same time period, I opened to a different way of knowing and experiencing creation. It was world changing for me. I have always been drawn to nature and animals AND almost felt guilty or persecuted for my love of the same. Here, at Call of the Wild Soul, I was released to be a complete lover of nature, animals and ALL creation. It was Soul Affirming. This happened because of the organizer, Erin Faith Allen; the setting, Ghost Ranch and the class Environmental Self Portraiture led by Melody Ross and Pixie Lighthorse.

Gratitude and abundant thanks to all who made this possible.

Gesso + Jesus

IMG_6508

Let me tell you about gesso. First it is pronounced, “jess-o.” It took me a couple adult years doing art to realize this proper pronunciation, marking me a novice in the art field. I am okay with that, because I have embraced being a novice (most of the time).

Gesso is a base coat or primer for many art substrates, including canvas, wood or paper. Gesso changes how art medium interacts with the substrate. It can seal a surface, make a material more absorbent or give it more, “tooth.” Gesso can also be used to cover mistakes and start over.

I love gesso. It reminds me of Jesus.

I really enjoy working with canvas, board or paper primed with gesso. It allows me certain assumptions. I know the next layer of paint or graphite or pastel will react a certain way. I also know my canvas will be easier to work with.

People are like that. Myself included. I am WAY easier to work with, with Jesus. I wont go into a long story here, or doctrine or theology. What I will say is this: My life before following Jesus was completely different than my life is now. I live wrapped in the security blanket of God Love that marks even my worst days with a spark of joy and peace.

Back to gesso… It can also cover an art mistake like nothing else! Wonky eye? Gesso (see photo). Missed perspective? Gesso. Out of proportion body? Gesso. You get the idea. Not only does gesso cover the mistake, it gives you a brand new base to start over from.

I know! Just like Jesus!

Walking with Jesus has given me a clean canvas to create on, daily. I have embraced the Jesus gesso of being forgiven and set free (from addiction, depression, shame, anger, hopelessness). Just like in art, and with gesso, I continue to work through each day. Neither Jesus or gesso are a magic wand. But they are pretty darn close! Jesus truly can take all our mistakes and make beautiful art from them.

As I am growing, journeying, as a human and an artist – I see life’s lessons mirrored in art. I know my art can always improve with the help of gesso. And my life continues to expand with a Jesus walk.

Showing Up and Sharing

I recently have had the honor of being asked to participate in a  project sharing stories of ‘FamilyPreneurs.’ I know it’s not a real word…YET! I want to share here. Following is our short BIO for the project:

Nicholson-79

Our story is a Faith story. Jeff and I will celebrate 27 years of marriage this year, by the grace of God. Our family includes three wonderful sons, two daughters-in-love and a very precious grand baby. We also own and partner in four companies that employ approximately 400 people.

Entrepreneurship has afforded our family more benefits than a simple biography could encapsulate. But I’ll try: Income, outrageous ability to be generous, time and education flexibility, travel, homes, cars, etc… It has also cost us: time, flexibility, relationships, travel, homes, cars etc… And it almost cost us our marriage.

Jeff and I were not raised in homes that followed Jesus, so we truly didn’t know there was a better way to do life, relationships and business. We were honest, hardworking, struggling, hard people. We were trying to do everything ‘right’ and the way we were ‘taught.’ You know – work our asses off, educate our children in a traditional setting with emphasis on performance and grades, make everything on the outside ‘look perfect.’ On the inside we were dying. Our marriage was in shambles. I was clinically depressed while on depression medication. Our children had diagnosis of ADHD, dyslexia and ADD. We survived embezzlement – just barely – and had deep mistrust issues with everyone. What a ride!

Discovering and surrendering to a relationship with our Creator changed everything. I started contemplating and seeking Jesus during a two year stint of therapy. Don’t get me wrong, it was (and still is) a process! Jesus made us realize we are never alone, we always have a helper and we might want to step out of some of our old ways of thinking.

Just some of the benefits: no more depression or depression meds, the best marriage in the world – we have led countless marriage groups, the options of homeschool and alternative education opportunities, financial investment in our children’s businesses as opposed to college education, a family that isn’t perfect but IS for each other, businesses that grew during the economic downturn of 2008+, new opportunities daily, and for me the courage to pursue my love of art and writing. Truly we are blessed beyond measure and live a life of unspeakable joy. The hardships no longer take us out, they make us stronger.