Living in my calling

As our move back to the northern homeland begins to loom larger in the forefront of our minds, it is natural for those around us to be curious what I will do while my sweet husband begins to work in ministry.  I have been asked quite a bit lately about what I want to do when we move back to Minnesota.

When I think about what my dreams are, I have never hesitated to let people know my plans to return to working in the field of massage therapy. Yes, I am out of practice. Yes, my hands are weak now, since I rarely give massages, and never more than one in a day. Yes, I need to review my anatomy and kinesiology books to brush up on technical terms, along with the insertion and origin of muscles. Yes, I have no idea where we will be living, or what type of environment we will be in, or whether or not massage therapy will be an accepted practice in the town we go to.

But yes, that is my calling.

And I plan on living in my calling, and utilizing my gifts, even if it isn’t profitable, or accepted, or, well…whatever.

I am passionate about the work that I do in the field of massage. It is not just about helping someone to relax, or to work out a few kinks in their muscles.

No, it is so much more.

It is a healing art.  It is beautiful work, and it stirs me to the depth of my soul.  I ache to provide a safe space, free of judgement, free of condemnation.  I pray that it is a space where a person’s condemnation and judgement on their own body can cease, at least for a time.  A place where every person’s body is accepted, where they can attune their mind with their body, where they can connect the physical to the emotional and the spiritual.

We live in a world of disconnect. We are taught from a young age to control our emotions, to hold our tongue, that there are acceptable times and places to emote, to speak, to be honest, and to be vulnerable. We are taught to “manage” our feelings…and what we essentially do is stuff them down, cover them up, and disengage with them.

But our bodies know the truth.

Our bodies hold memories, hold emotion, hold truth. When we do not release these, our bodies can suffer. It can cause us illness or pain.  Emotions not expressed can result in our physical bodies breaking down.  The more research that is done on the mind-body connection, the more we understand how our emotional health manifests in our physical health.  It is beautiful, really, how we have been designed and created to integrate our bodies with our spirits, and how they reflect one another.

I love the human body. I believe that we are a miracle, a beautiful work of art.  The way the muscles curve and bend, the way the skin highlights every angle, the loveliness of the fingers, the length of the limbs.  We are intricate creations, made in the image of God, and we are beautiful and unique. This is probably why I loved life drawing class in college. The body amazes me now, and it amazed me then.

We are created to crave touch, to connect through touch. There is so much research on the benefit of touch therapy, beginning in infancy and extending through the adult years of our lives. Babies thrive when given touch, in weight gain and physical development. Seniors suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s have less behavioral and wandering issues when given regular massage. Those of us in the middle years of our lives have better general health when touch therapy is utilized. It is beautiful how we are created to flourish through healthy touch, in every decade of our lives. And it is wonderful that there is now research being done to help confirm this fact.

And the work that I love? This work that is my calling, the work of massage therapy that doesn’t feel like work?

I am blessed to know what my calling is. I am blessed to help connect the disconnected, to use the power of touch to center and ground another.  I am blessed to use touch to help heal the wounded, give connection, and to be able to use the gifts that I have been given .  I am excited to return to this field that I love, in this new season of my life.  I have an even greater appreciation of these beautiful creatures that we are, and the miracle of healing.

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Metamorphosis

Whenever I see a butterfly, it delights my soul.  Something about a butterfly, flitting about in a gentle breeze, alighting upon flowers, its bright colors, it all stirs within me a sense of wonder and amazement.  And I know I’m not the only one. Have you ever watched a child when they see a butterfly? Almost instantaneously they feel the need to try to capture the butterfly, and will chase after it, giggling and delighted by the hunt, captivated by this lovely little insect.

butterfly picture, butterfly pictures

Butterflies go through four life stages. They begin life as an egg, laid on the type of leaf that they will enjoy eating. Once born, they are a caterpillar, and spend that life cycle eating, and eating, growing, and eating some more. Eating and growing in preparation of the next stage are the sole purposes of this cycle of their life. Then they become a pupa, protected in a chrysalis, going through metamorphosis, and transforming themselves into the final stage–that of a butterfly.

As a pupa, this is really where the miracle of their little lives happen.  Safe in the silky cocoon, the caterpillar digests itself, essentially becoming caterpillar soup.  There is nothing recognizable in this goo, nothing that resembles the previous life of the caterpillar.  This primordial ooze reconfigures itself, realigns, and regrows, formed into a new creation. This rebirth as a new life form, so completely different from its original state, is an amazing transformation, a tiny little miracle wrapped up in a chrysalis.

Over the past few years, since moving to this quiet little town in Kentucky, I have been blessed to be part of a healing ministry. It is through this ministry that I have grown, been shaped, and transformed. I am journeying through my own metamorphosis.

butterfly pictures, butterflies picture

Had you mentioned the word “healing” to me before, especially in the setting of church ministry, I would have scoffed. My mental picture of healing was part Steve Martin (from the movie “Leap of Faith”) and part T.V. evangelist, shouting at someone, proclaiming healing, and an “instantaneous” healing, the person getting up from a wheelchair, walking.

It all seemed fake. An artificially created stage show, made for the purpose of entertainment or coercing the audience into belief.

The abundant healings within the Bible all seemed so distant, just a part of Christianity’s past, but not a part of current culture. And yet…

Healing is part of the command that Jesus gave his disciples.  Matthew 10:1 states that Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them the authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (NIV, emphasis mine). In Luke 9:2, and again in Luke 10:9, he sends them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  Part of the gifts within the body of Christ, as stated in 1 Corinthians 12:28, is healing, along with miracles, teaching, preaching and tongues. It is sad, really, that healing is not a gift that is cultivated or emphasized within our Christian culture, especially since Christ sent his followers out with a command to not just preach the gospel message, but to heal in His name.

 We had friends here who first introduced us to the gentle, sweet, tender way of healing.  A way of inviting the Holy Spirit in, and allowing God to reveal the hurts, the broken places of our souls.  The healing ministry that we have been taught here is not loud, it is not abrupt, it is not forced. What we do is bear witness to the power and the redemption found in Christ.  We claim healing in Jesus’ name, but we know that God heals in His own, unique way and in His own time. We may ask for physical healing, but what God may first work on is the emotional wounds causing the physical pain. The layers of hurt, emotional, psychological and physical, all manifest themselves within people differently, and God wants every level, every layer, restored and redeemed. He wants us to be whole.

His greatest longing for us is to be made new, in Christ. He brings healing, He brings restoration. As prayer ministers, we listen, we love, and we pray. That is the essence of healing ministry. We intercede, we ask, we anoint, we cover with blessings and we wait on the Lord.  We are not trying to counsel, but we are inviting them to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to be open and vulnerable, confessing and repenting if needed.

There is beauty in the community that can be broken together and that offers grace to one another. There is joy found in a community that trusts God can heal, and intercedes for each other.  There is rest and renewal in being present with the other in waiting on the Lord.

butterfly pictures, butterflies picture

 This is the joy I have found in my journey.  I came to this place, alive and well, but not living into the life I was created for. I came here a caterpillar.  Through the past years, I have settled into my cocoon, and I have allowed the deep, hard work of transformation to begin.  My time of metamorphosis may take the rest of my days upon this earth. It is not easy work. It takes effort and energy to expose that which is wounded, or flawed, or broken within me. It takes leaning in to the loving arms of the Father, as well as those around me, to succumb to the knitting together of the frayed edges of my life. It takes a willing spirit to lay down my pride, to dissolve into a puddle of tears in front of others and allow the inner work to happen.

The more I heal, the more I realize how much more needs to be healed. And it isn’t just for my benefit. It is healing my family. My children and my husband benefit. Our relationships are stronger.  I am more gentle in the way I love and care for them. Friendships are deepened.  The way I interact with the world is different. I am less quick to judge, less likely to condemn.

But my work is not done.

I am not yet perfected, not yet ready to break free of the chrysalis.  There is still work and growth to be done.

And when the time comes, it will not be me, but my Creator, who breaks open the cocoon.  He who knit me together in my mother’s womb will complete the work He began in me. I will be freed from the constraints of sin and brokenness.

I will fly.

 

 

 

 

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

**all photographs are courtesy of www.butterflypictures.net

 

Living in the In-Between

It is less than three months until my dear husband graduates from school.  74 days to be exact. 74 days until he walks across the stage and collects his Masters of Divinity degree.  74 days until the completion of this step, and 75 days until we step forward, in faith, into the future.

And the scary part? We don’t know, don’t have a clue, of what life will look like in 75 days.

In 75 days, our lives will change.

And we don’t know what that change will entail.

For the next 74 days, we can continue living life in the same basic pattern that we have lived for the last 3 years. He will go to class, write papers, give presentations, and help me with the kids and the household. I will work part-time, go to Healing Academy trainings and coaching days, and take care of the kids and the household. It will be the same pattern as every semester, and yet, so very different.

Because we are living now in the in-between. A time of looking forward to the future, but not knowing what the future holds. A bittersweet time of reflecting on the growth and transformation within our lives over the past 3 years, beginning to grieve even when we haven’t yet left, and aren’t quite ready to leave this place.

The hope, the desire of our hearts, is to end up back in Minnesota, near once again to family and friends. The goal is for dear husband to be appointed to pastor a church somewhere within that great state. It has been the focus of schooling for the past years, the reason we uprooted to come to Kentucky, to learn, to grow, and to return to our roots and true home. That, friends, is the reason we are here, so that he could follow the call that was placed on his heart. And my calling in all of that? To support, to encourage, and to love him through every moment, listen to him practice every sermon, and read and edit a lot of papers.

There are several steps between now and then, though. He still needs to traverse through several interviews, with different committees and people who will evaluate and judge his desires and intentions.

We are journeying through this process in faith and with hope for the future. It is hard to speak about the future, about pastoring a church, about being in ministry with one another when there are so many unknowns, the biggest of which is….will he be appointed to a church? The where, the who, the tangible parts of living and working in a place, these are all questions that we wonder, but they are the least of the questions.  Only until we know the answer to the big question of appointment will we start to think upon the rest. All things hinge on that one answer.

We are living in a time of limbo, of the already here, and the not-quite-yet.

If this was one year ago, I would be in freak-out mode at this point. Heck, had this even been six months ago, I would be a bit more worried. But now? Now I have peace. I have a sense that we are coming to the end of a long journey and will be shown the future that awaits just over the horizon.

I have peace, not because I am sure of what the answers will be, but because I know who holds all the answers.

No matter what day 75 may look like, I have peace. I do know that it is only due to the work of transformation and healing that has taken place upon my soul, the willingness to be broken wide open and allow the God of the universe to bind me back together, and the deep, beautiful, raw hope that I place in Him.  This is the reason that there is any semblance of stillness in my heart, and a peace in my soul.

We are jumping out in faith, into the wide unknown future.

But until then, we live in the in-between.