This past week, I have been working intently to finish up details for publishing the Lovely Traces of Hope book. I had one of those moments as I sat late into the night reading/ editing/ proofing yet again through my own story.
For the umpteenth time, I was reading through Chapter 14, Turning East, which I have sent to many of you already. (Click here if you haven’t read it yet.) In that chapter, I share excerpts of Jerry Sittser’s book called A Grace Disguised. Jerry literally led me through much of my grief through the sharing of his own story.
Several months ago as I was reworking that chapter for the book, I sent Jerry a letter to thank him for being bold enough to share his story because of the influence it has had in mine.
Here was his reply…
I was sittting at the Arby’s across from the mall in the area that is all window. People watching at its best. The sky was clear with the exception of a few, very small, very white clouds slowly drifting by. What a beautiful day!
Every thing about this moment was life-giving. Even the woman Continue reading A Book to Proof
So what do you think? Does the Bible teach us to be sensuous women? Some of you are thinking Kathy’s talking about sex again. Maybe! But maybe not!
I have had some interesting dialog with women who desire to be all that God has created them to be. But they are not sure what to do with issues of sexuality/ sensuality when they are single and longing to honor the Lord.
I have heard one woman after another share that much of the pain in their life has to do with wrestling with issues related to sexual or sensual issues. There is God’s view to reckon with which has been confusing to women on so many levels. There is the world’s view which seems to indicate to just ‘be free’ sexually. However much of the ache these women now feel is because those behaviors don’t feel free like it does in the movies.
So can we be single and sexual? What does God want from us if he created us to be sexual beings, whether we are married or single, while the Bible teaches that sex is reserved for marriage.
Dr. Juli Slattery of AuthenticIntimacy.com hits the mark as she addresses this topic in her 2 minute Thought called Can I Be Single and Sexual? Juli reminds us that our sexuality is not compartmentalized waiting for marriage, it is integrated into all the aspects of who you are; intellectual, relational and spiritual.
We are geared to immediately associate sexuality with sexual pleasure. But it actually serves a much greater purpose. Juli goes on to say that sexuality is about intimacy and relationship. The core aspect of our sexuality is the yearning to be known and share intimately with another person, which is expressed fully in marriage. My sexuality as a woman deeply impacts how I relate to others- outside the bedroom.
As I pondered how we might experience intimacy that was not sexual, especially for the single woman, I dug a little further with a word study on the word SENSUOUS which is defined as “anything that is pleasing to the senses”. In other words, anything that we touch, taste, see, smell and hear. There are many ways we can experience intimacy in
- a furry kitten resting calmly in our hands
- a delicious meal shared with friends
- a beautiful sunset filling our sight
- a pie baking in the oven smelling so good, tasting even better
- an incredible symphony
These are examples of sensuous things make our senses happy, but they also nurture us and allow us to know a deep joy and possibly meaningful intimacy with relationships of family and friends.
I understand that many times the effects of past encounters, or abuse related to sexual activity can taint the purity of a sensation. Certain senses can become triggers for memories or behaviors that you are desperately trying to avoid.
So often, rather than risk something “unpleasant” (though it might be much more damaging than that word denotes), we end up closing ourselves off to everything that might stir our senses.
But remember, God is a redeeming God. He created you to be sexual. He gave you your senses to live fully alive. Yes, there is pain! Yes, there is pain that needs healing, and your senses maybe part of that.
But each of our senses are faithful, loving reminders that God is breaking into our world everyday to speak his words of love to us.
What is it that God is inviting you into as you consider how to live sensuously as a sexual being? Maybe you have some questions about what that would look like. I know some women who are making it work. Let’s have that discussion together.
In the mean time, Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
Before this weekend, I would have told you:
- I never wanted to be a writer
- I started writing about 6 months ago.
- I am still struggling to find my voice.
- I accepted the title of writer about 8 weeks ago.
But after the weekend at the first ever TRIBEWRITER’s Conference, (hence #tribeconf) I came to own I have been on this journey of writing most of my life.
Jeff Goins, founder and host of the TribeWriter Conference, (Superman in another life) spoke directly to me (though he doesn’t know it) on the very first session.
He challenged us to:
- Let go: of expectations, of fear, of shame (feeling that we Should Have Always Mastered Everything). Here we go again. First thing he says and I’m already having to open my hands to what God might be wanting to do here.
- Embrace the mess: How did he know I woke up in the middle of the night in a sweat, wondering if I was going to show up and be shown up for the mess that I was? He asked us to partner with the community regarding the issues we have. I did! I found great encouragement and accountability in the process.
- Become a more true version of yourself:
- Be you! Not someone else, even if you admire them.
- Believe in yourself. Action follows belief.
- Try something new this weekend. That was easy! Everything had some newness to it.
While the weekend was full of excellent speakers with very practical resources and action steps for us, I probably could have left after the first speaker and felt like I got what I needed.
I have struggled ever since Leisha died feeling like I need to write to finish her book, but have been in a battle to rediscover who I am really not just as a writer, but as a woman. All I thought about myself had been put into question when my daughter died. I blogged a bit about this during the weekend. You can catch it here.
But Ally Vesterfelt, of Author Launch really spoke to this as she shared her father’s story as he was near death. As a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor, he had worked with all kinds of people. But his first article as he fought to live was “Dying is easy, Life is hard to do!” Yes it is! I can attest to that! I never considered that Leisha had the easy road in dying. The rest of us had to fight to live.
Ally was just getting started with her challenge to me. Her next thoughts made me know I was going the right direction.
- We find our voices when we are most likely losing them.
- One of the most painful things is to lose the sound of your own voice.
- FIGHT for the truth, the rawness, and the realness of your own voice.
- Finding your voice starts with finding yourself.
Wow! For her to speak directly to the battle I mentioned earlier means she is familiar with the pain of it. I have been there for the last 9 years. Finding my voice by finding myself. I can identify that it must be truth, it will be raw, and it must feel real or it feels disingenuous to the process of healing.
“More than likely you will find your voice on a path you least wanted to go down. Sometimes the sufferings, not the healings, are the source of greatest transformation of our life.”
She was right! I knew she was!
I was being changed through the sufferings. I didn’t want to suffer. I tried to avoid the suffering, but I knew it when I embraced the ache and walked into the darkness that the greatest transformation occurred.
As I work to finish Leisha’s book, I reconnect with many layers of grief in order to share what I have learned from the last 9 years. That has been part of the mess I have felt recently. But I wouldn’t change the process. I am much more aware of who I am and what I was meant to say!
I understand that I must find my own voice before I can truly help someone else find theirs. While I hope that the book will be used to change one person’s life in an effort to change the world, I know that writing this book has and is changing me.
The story I’m getting ready to present to the world in a few months has been in process for most of my life.
I’m a writer! I have been a writer! I need to write if just to change me!
How’s your story coming?
P.S. Thanks Jeff Goins! For letting go, embracing the mess and becoming a more true version of yourself. You have modeled for me and given me courage to do that same.
Thank you Ally Vesterfelt! For sharing out of the raw, real, truth of your own story. I am one who is changed because of it.
Just because I didn’t write life lessons from all the other speakers doesn’t mean I couldn’t have. I am still just processing the first one. Thanks to all of you for your time, availability and genuine support.
I’m already signed up for TribeWriter 2016. Join me?
I was challenged by my story partner friend to take Kate Motaung’s challenge to write a letter to grief. Since it ties in with my recent series on Living Open Handed, I choose to share this here also.
I don’t think I want to talk to you!
I’ve spent so many years struggling to survive your choke hold on my life!
I’ve crawled through your tunnel
Filled with muck- dark and slimy
So deep that with each step I sunk farther
Until it began to paralyze my legs
Then my torso and my arms
Finally my face
Silencing my voice
Blind folding my sight
Dulling my ability to hear as you filled my ears with your lies.
I could barely find my next breath
let alone move.
This is the third in a series on LIVING OPEN HANDED. If you missed them, it might be helpful to go back so you understand how we got to this post.
1. LIVING OPEN HANDED: Do Not Fear
Today I made two visits that I knew I would make one year ago. One with Sarah’s mom and the other to Sarah’s husband.
I met Sarah when I was ‘the youth pastor’s wife’ and Sarah was one of the youth. She was quiet, but when she smiled, you felt like smiling with her.
Several years later she became the ‘youth pastor’s wife’ and my husband was the lead. Her personality remained reserved, but her smile was now matched by an incredible passion for the Lord that oozed out of her and sweetly touched the lives of the young people of our church.
But this day a woman I barely knew sat across the table in my leaders huddle. She spoke, hesitant of sharing such an intimate story with a group of strangers. Her parents had both died in an accident when she was young. Life had been hard. But now, so many years later she heard God saying to her, “I want to make you whole again.”
In my heart I whispered, “I’ll never be whole. I’ll always live broken.” Leisha’s death left me broken- heart is too ripped, too many pieces have been lost. Some Doctors say I can’t be healed. I can’t be fixed.
But the rest of the day those words rumbled around in my brain. Continue reading Broken… to Whole