Toward a Cruelty-Free Christian Kitchen

Beet salad with vinegar dressing over greens, finished pine nuts and raisins + vegan potato salad

Christian and Vegan aren’t two identifiers that tend to go hand-in-hand.

Most Christians I know are happy meat-eaters who will point to the passage in Acts 10 where God showed Peter all the unclean animals Jews used to avoid eating, and told him to “eat.” The point of this passage was to demonstrate Christian liberation from the legalism of the old Covenant. And it’s a frequently-cited passage by people who think that Christian veganism is just… well … weird.

Most Vegans I know aren’t Christian–especially if they’re vegan “for the animals,” as the phrase often goes. Because let’s be honest. St. Peter and PETA wouldn’t get along real well.

If it was good enough for St. Peter, then it should be good enough for me, right?

So how on earth did I become a Christian vegan?

Before we begin, it’s important for me to say that I affirm the Acts passage and recognize that it’s not inherently wrong to eat meat.

I believe we live in a fallen world that won’t be right or beautiful again until Christ returns. Death in all its forms–for both humans and animals–is a consequence of The Fall that can’t really be avoided.

I do my best not to judge people who choose to continue consuming animal products.

But… BUT…

I’ve had to stop and ask myself the question, “Just because death is unavoidable, does that mean I want to be responsible for more of it than necessary?”

“All things are permissible for me,” St. Paul wrote. “But not all things are beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

For me, consuming animal products is not expedient any longer.

Here’s why.

First, I received a command from God to go vegan at a certain point in my life.

I had already been on a long journey with the Holy Spirit to clean up my temple and treat it properly so that I could hear Him better. When a friend challenged me to a Daniel Fast it transformed my life, and I really felt the desire to continue that commitment by remaining vegan after the fast.

Not everyone can claim God told them to go vegan. And I wouldn’t expect them to. But I have to admit, it’s done a lot for my spiritual life.

Not only has it cleaned a lot of toxins out of my system that (I believe) were blocking spiritual receptivity, but it forces me to be more disciplined about my food choices. And that’s always a healthy thing for my spiritual life.

Around that same time, I was also told to shave my head, let go of makeup and stop wearing a bra–both of which (along with going vegan) really were outward signs of my commitment to following God, and to finding my worth and beauty only in Him.

All of this radically changed my life–and I recommend that any Christian woman make these four commitments for a defined period of time at least once in their lives.

Your relationship with your hair, your makeup, your female body parts and your eating are likely some of the most wounded parts of your feminine self.

God in His infinite wisdom raised all this for healing.

In the other areas, I was led to return to “normal” living. But for some reason, veganism stuck. Perhaps for Reason #2.

Second, veganism is a beautiful, tangible way of expressing your longing for the Kingdom of God on earth.

It says in Revelation that one day there will be no more sorrow, no more death, and that even the lion will one day lie down with the lamb in harmony.

I long for this day. And my eating habits are one way I can show my deep desire for that restoration of the harmony once found in the Garden of Eden. Every time I sit down to a plant-based meal–especially if I’m in the company of meat eaters–I’m reminded of what I’m hoping for.

Basically, you’re all going to be vegan one day, yo. May as well get a jumpstart.

It might sound strange at first. But this principle has actually promoted a lot of joy for me in this life choice.

Every time I enjoy a satisfying meal that didn’t involve cruelty toward any creature–including removing the mother’s young or depriving her of bodily fluids (ie: milk) intended to nurture her young–I tell God how excited I am to inhabit that future Kingdom where the world really will be the way He intended it.

Third, there are just a lot of health benefits.

Can a vegan diet be imbalanced? Yes. Do vegans have to be careful about certain nutrients and supplements to ensure they’re getting everything they need? Yes.

But if we’re committed to eating healthy while we’re eating vegan, we’re not over-consuming fats and proteins. (Yes, protein really is the most overrated thing people talk about when they object to veganism.)

I firmly believe that all flesh carries life energy, and when we’re eating dead flesh, we’re consuming all the terror, sorrow and pain that went into the final moments of the creature’s life before their flesh was taken.

How healthy can it really be to have that junk in my body?

Leonardo da Vinci expressed it well when he said, “My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.”

All things are permissible, yes. But not all things are beneficial.

Fourth, veganism has inspired me to have all kinds of adventures with food.

I buy vegetables now I never would have before. I’ve learned all about sprouted grains. I’m constantly expanding my smoothie repertoire.

Since becoming vegan, I’ve actually enjoyed all kinds of amazing foods I would never have found had I remained in the animal-eating camp.

As an adventurer at heart, I will always choose the route of curiosity and discovery!

There’s much more I could say about veganism, but I hope this whets your appetite (pun intended). Over time, I’ll be sharing recipes, tips and insights on running a cruelty-free kitchen.

Come along with me on this exciting journey.

7 Ways to Cultivate Your God-Given Feminine Sexual Energy for Your Marriage

Happy Couple, Eastern Art Collection, Museumsinsel, Berlin

If you got married straight out of the purity culture in the modern church, you probably discovered the exact same thing I did:

Your feminine sensuality didn’t switch on like a lightbulb just because you said, “I do.”

Sad to say, it took me eight struggling years of marriage and a difficult divorce to figure out that I wasn’t actually “broken” when it came to sex. Diagnosed at age 25 with a clinical sexual dysfunction, I struggled my way through round after round of dilator therapy that failed … completely … until I discovered the secret emotional root of my physical issue:

I just had no idea how to access the natural pleasure center God had given me in my body—which is as useful for enjoying a picnic by the lake as it is for having a triple orgasm in bed. 

When you’re taught in church to cultivate your mind, your emotions and your physical strength–but not your sensuality–your natural pleasure sensors essentially act like an atrophied muscle. You can’t expect to run a marathon if you haven’t run a day in your life. And you can’t expect the rockin’ hot sex they promised you would be the reward for your purity if you haven’t prepared for sensuality.

But for years, I did not understand this. I thought I was broken. I thought that unforgettable intercourse and true joy in my body was only for thinner, fitter, less emotionally timid women than I was.

In my heart of hearts, I even wondered if sexual satisfaction was only for the women who’d had their first orgasm at an age when I didn’t even know what sex was.

But the path to freedom can’t really unfold as long we are stuck in the lies. Thank God, He began to transform my heart, my mind and my experience with this critical topic.

Not only did I beat the “incurable” sexual dysfunction to find total freedom in pleasure, but I reclaimed my feminine essence along the way and healed a lifetime of wounding around traditional femininity and the feminine “receptive” role.

Now, I know my sensuality doesn’t have to be shut down. And it isn’t meant to be, either. Timidity, frigidity, body image issues, sexual frustration and/or low libido are not your birthright.

You also don’t have to wait until you finally say “I do” to try to figure out what turns you on.

Yes, I’m here to say it because I truly believe it:

You can be both totally pure in your pre-marriage lifestyle and also totally tuned in to your sensual essence as a woman … which is gonna make it a whole lot easier for you to let go, relax and have some bonafide fun in bed when God finally sends your Boaz.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you don’t resonate with a conservative church upbringing and its (often) unintended result of frigidity. Perhaps you have a different reason to struggle with your sexuality and sensuality. Maybe you experience a sexual trauma or were the victim of a sexual crime. Maybe one or both parents shamed your body from the day you were born. Maybe you just keep ending up with guys who make you feel like you’re not good enough.

Whatever your story, I’m here to say: it’s not too late.

You can fall in love with the body God gave you and totally enjoy the experience of having your body touched, loved and, yes … even penetrated … in a relaxed, struggle-free way.

The biggest key here is that the heart of great sex really has nothing to do with virtuosic intercourse. It has everything to do with your ability to be present in the moment, feel pleasure deeply, and open yourself up to another human being. 

Let me say that again:

Your enjoyment of sex has nothing to do with virtuosic intercourse.

It has everything to do with your ability to:

  • Be present in the moment,
  • Feel pleasure deeply, and
  • Open yourself up to another human being.

When I first began to understand this … and consequently to unpack what had actually happened in my life that had caused my deep struggles with sexuality … it was mind boggling.

I began to take the journey step by step. Looking for little ways to start experiencing pleasure in my everyday life, be present and stay open to what was happening around me.

And … my relationship with my sensuality changed, too.

It’s that simple.

But let’s face it: it’s also that difficult … because as modern Western women we are hardwired to check off lists and chase success. We know more about over-achieving than we do about having an amazing orgasm.

We tend to believe anxiety and depression are the status quo. So when we get into the bedroom and are asked to just have fun? Well, we have no actual skills for this strange, new request. Sex becomes a goal to be achieved, not an experience to be savored.

It’s time to change that, baby. Are you ready?

In the following tips, I’m not asking you to do anything kinky, weird or borderline sinful.

All I’m asking you to start taking time to enjoy who you are as a woman and what God has already put in your life … which, simple as it seems, will transform your current sex life (if you’re married) or the one you hope to have (if you’re not).

Because if you cannot stop to “just be” … allow yourself to relax into the moment and experience simple sensory pleasures right now, in your daily life … you won’t be able to access it in the bedroom, either.

You can cultivate a beautiful, feminine sensuality that will allow you to drop everything you’re doing and just “be” with your husband in a relaxed, loving way. When you cultivate this skill, you will totally open up to the deepest feelings of blessed married sex. The little things you do now to cultivate “being” will pay dividends later.

Here are 7 easy ways to cultivate your God-given feminine sensuality:

1) Start eating slowly so you actually savor your food.

Pleasure 101: You cannot fully experience and enjoy what is rushed through for the sake of getting done. If you’re currently married and sex feels like a chore—yes, I know you just want him to finish. But if you’re going to get serious about YOUR pleasure … you’re going to have to slow down.

Food, like sex, is a sensory experience, so it’s a great place to practice this slowness. But heck, it’s not just food. Start slowing down in general. Pause to really touch and enjoy fabrics that feel good. Pause to smell the scent of lilacs in your neighbor’s yard. Plant your two feet on the ground and sense all the yummy and wonderful things around you.

2) Meditate daily, even if only for five minutes.

I said that sexuality is a practice of presence. Meditation is the best way I know to practice being present in your daily life. No, you’re not going to stop all the racing thoughts on day one. But over time, even a very short daily meditation practice will help you build the skill of getting outside your own head long enough to be quiet.

Very often a problem with sexuality for women is that we can’t set aside all the “stuff” that’s happening in our lives in order to be present with the other person we’re there to enjoy. Meditation will help you build that skill so you can be present with your spouse in a joyous and loving way.

As many ancient texts have also noted, sexuality is also a form of meditation. But that’s another topic for another day … For now, if you’re interested, I recommend The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity by Dan Reid, a noted expert on Asian medicinal practices.

3) Keep a “pleasure journal.”

By now you might be saying, “Lisa, I’m not even sure what I love, or what makes me feel good. I’m so out of tune with my God-given pleasure sensors that I feel stuck even starting.” Okay, great; this is an awesome realization. Yes, I was there too. But the best way I know how to get past this big hump is to simply start trying stuff and noticing what works for you.

Try new kinds of coffee. Try on new styles of dresses. Go to a new restaurant. A new exercise class. Try a new dance. Each time you try something new, record how it made you feel and what you liked and didn’t like about it. Over time, you will begin to find the things that make you feel good, that you really like. Bonus: some of them, you might be able to bring into the bedroom.

4) Pamper your body with baths, self-massages & oil.

This is big, especially if you don’t like your body very much. You have to start acting as if you loved your body so that you eventually will actually feel that love. I promise, it works this way … and only this way. If you wait for the feelings of self-love to come first, in order to pamper yourself, it’s never gonna happen.

So why is this so critical for your sex life?

Your man will feel about your body exactly the way you train him to feel. (I’ve tried this principle out multiple times; it’s completely predictable.) If you want your man to love love love your body … exactly as it looks right now … don’t make the poor man constantly build up your self esteem. Loving yourself as God loves is your responsibility first. Commit to love love love your body first, and watch what a difference it makes in your relationship. When you remove that pressure from Mr. Right, you’ll be surprised what happens!

Whatever self-care or body nourishment routine works for you, do that. For myself personally, I find that loving, gentle body self-massage was an amazing tool. I have to put my hands on my own skin and touch it in a way that felt good. This was revolutionary at first for a girl raised like I was.

5) Shut door, crank up the music and MOVE.

Nothing puts in your feminine, sensual energy like dance. Yes, I was born with two left feet. Yes, for years I was desperately afraid for anybody to see me do anything like dance. But then I discovered I could shut my door at home, draw the blinds, get naked and put on music I loved. And WOW, did I ever discover I loved to dance!

Dancing got me moving my body in a way that felt good (Hello, that’s necessary for hot sex …) And coming from a background where dance was basically forbidden, dancing at home alone got me past the mental hurdle of being afraid to move my body. Now I’ll happily do it in public … and I still dance every day at home to help me stay in my best, most aligned emotional groove.

For extra credit, dance naked in front of a mirror. (Yes, I hear you Baptist girls out there cringing!) If I can do this, you can do this. And trust me, your husband will thank you later.

6) Take up yoga once or twice a week.

Yoga is hands-down one of the best ways I know to get in tune with your sensual energy. No, the goal here is not to get yourself twisted up like a pretzel or perform the most contorted sex position you possibly can. It’s to learn how to feel what’s actually going on in your body. And to put those feelings into words.

When I started yoga, I had NO idea how to answer the instructor’s question, “Does this pose feel good in your body?” Literally, it was a foreign language to me. In the churches I grew up in, the body was deliberately divorced from public conversation (other than for topics regarding sports and “acceptable” medical procedures). I had to learn a form of sensation and conversation I had not innately learned as a child.

Over time, taking yoga not only helped me build strength and confidence. It helped me actually feel more of what was going on in my body and have words to describe it. Which you are going to need, eventually, when a certain gentleman asks you what feels good … in bed.

7) Burn your to-do list and do something you love.

Really, if we’re being honest, our Superwoman culture in America (which is as prevalent in the church as outside) is very often at the heart of our struggles in the bedroom. Because, as I said earlier, you can’t treat sex like a to-do list. It’s a living, shifting, expanding experience with another human being. Yes, it is an experience. 

Most of the women I’ve counselled and coached for sexual challenges share one trait in common: they’re laser-focused on goals and achievement. Breaking yourself of your addiction to box-checking–and letting yourself drop into blissful flow–is one of the best ways I know to open yourself up to a less goal-driven interaction. Burn your to-do lists and try letting your intuition guide you to which tasks really need accomplishing, and eliminate which ones are just Superwoman Busywork.

Do things you love. Let yourself have pleasurable experiences more often, whether that’s a picnic at the park, a Friday night manicure or a day out with girlfriends. Eventually you’ll find that this newfound enjoyment of experience—surprisingly enough—follows you straight into the bedroom.

You’ll be able to go from stressed out to blissed out … you know, like the 0 to 60 in 6 seconds flat “WOW, BABY, CAN YOU DO THAT AGAIN????” kind of blissed out … and neither you nor your husband will be quite sure how it happened.

Okay, just kidding.

You’ll know exactly how it happened. And you’ll feel …. AMAZING. 😉

Are You as a Woman Really Ready to Start Your Own Business?

Rockin’ the solo-preneur lifestyle with my cat Jack in my home office in Milwaukee, WI, early 2017

I was 30 years old when I walked out of the highest-paying job I ever hoped to hold.  

In the preceding months, I had done everything I could to ensure my success. I hired a business coach. Got a business plan together. And even started getting beta clients for my new business’s first service package, so I could pitch it with testimonials. 

Of course, I was still scared out of my wits. But I was ready, right? I mean, as ready as I was going to be…

Sometimes I think it’s a blessing that God doesn’t tell us what’s going to happen in advance. Over the next three years, I learned how ready I really wasn’t to have my own business. And the business I did build was full of stress and struggle. Oh, I worked hard. So, so hard. But that’s just it: I did it all in my own strength. And I didn’t realize that while I had put the external foundation of the business into place, I hadn’t put the internal foundation there. 

Owning a business that served entrepreneurs and freelancing for many corporate clients forced me to come face-to-face with what was really going on inside me. 

Now, I tell women entrepreneurs: the external details of the business are important—what you are going to sell, who you will serve, what you will charge, etc. But if you are not truly strong enough inside (yet) to handle what you are stepping into … you will fail. 

Bottom line: you can’t do this business thing in your own strength. And God will use this situation to teach you that, like nothing else. 

So how can you ensure that you are truly ready internally to take this entrepreneurship journey with God?

You’re ready when … 

1) You’ve faced your fear of money.

Owning a business will show you, like nothing else, how terrified you are of money: both of not having enough, and of having “too much.” God had to break me of my “money fears” before I could stop putting limits on myself with my earning potential. I secretly believed that people who had a lot of money hurt other people. (NOTE: This presupposition is rampant in the artistic, social good and educational communities, which many women entrepreneurs identify with.) To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to get absolutely clear on the sufficiency of God to provide for you, and be willing to break through every block you have around money that will hold you back. 

2) You’ve faced your fear of self-promotion.

Oh sure, you want to have a business. But let’s talk about promoting your services, sharing your expertise and allowing your real, gifted self to be SEEN in the real and online worlds. Many women entrepreneurs I know describe themselves as “shy,” “not good in the spotlight,” and “wishing someone else would market the business.” I’m here to tell you, Sister. It does not work that way. God wants you to stand on your talents in HIM. He wants you to stand firm and tall and proclaim who He has made you to be, so the people who need you can find you. Very often this means confronting issues of self-worth and self-doubt that plague all of us. (It did for me!) If you are not ready to face these things, you are not ready for this business. 

3) You’ve faced your fear of success. 

Scraping by is okay. Having enough and a little extra is probably fine, too. But wild, over-the-top, runaway success that silences all the haters and causes people to stare in wonder? Um, yeah, that’s getting a little uncomfortable now, isn’t it? As Christians, we are so often taught that God is not interested in our success or happiness—yet I believe He is deeply interested in both. Yes, both of these may have to bow to His will for us to experience sorrow and loss for a season (believe me, I have been there!). But I believe far more often we fail to experience His best because we simply open to the fact that it IS possible. And (see Point #2) we’re not sure we deserve it. This entrepreneurial journey will challenge all of these thoughts. If you are not ready to accept success, don’t bother shooting for it. 

Owning a business as a woman—the kind of business that truly does good for others while honorably supporting you—is a noble goal. It IS possible to create these income streams. It IS possible to get out of the corporate rat race and experience the freedom and joy of owning your time and serving people you truly appreciate and want to help. 

But even these beautiful goals come at a price.

You will not be able to carry your sense of poverty, sense of self-loathing or self-doubt into this process. And if you try … well, I can say from my own experience that God has ways of knocking it all out of you. In the kindest (but most serious) way possible. 

Are you really ready to start your business? Well, you’ll never fully be ready. You might just have to take the leap. In fact, you probably will. But if you spend time really working on these three areas, you will be better positioned for success. 

I don’t regret walking out that door at age 30. I don’t miss the salary. bonus or cushy travel allowance I had—because in exchange, I was a slave in golden handcuffs. But I also, today, recognize how much I had not prepared myself internally for this new journey. 

Hard work will only get you so far. It can’t make up for the deficits you secretly believe you have inside. 

What the “Touch of Jesus” Really Means for Healing

Kochi Beach, India. Photo courtesy of Glynson Bivera

Recently while reading my Bible, I came across the story of a woman’s healing that really gripped me. I’ve read it before, many times, but I never saw it the way I did this time around. It gave me a brand-new way to understand emotional healing that freed me to a whole new level … and I hope it blesses you, too.

“As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.” – Luke 8:42-42 (ESV)

If you’re read the Gospels, you may recognize this as the story of the woman who had “an issue of blood.” Basically, this means she was plagued with some kind of perpetual bleeding for twelve years that could not be treated effectively by the medical wisdom of that day.

This story appears in three of the four Gospels: Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:24-34, and Luke 8:42-48. Two of three of the writers note that this woman had spent every penny she had on physicians, but nothing seemed to help. In other words: she was desperate.

Immediately I recognized myself in this text—even though I don’t have that woman’s same physical problem, for many years, I was plagued by emotional challenges that never really seemed to improve. I also thought a lot of other women might share my discovery by recognizing themselves in this story, too.

The “issue of blood” doesn’t have to be physical. Think about it in terms of any ongoing physical or emotional condition you may be experiencing: migraines, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal issues, eating disorders, negative self-talk, self-doubt, a tormenting lack of confidence: any condition that has robbed you of time, life and (of course) money going to rounds and rounds of doctors’ or therapists’ visits that never seem to heal to the real issue.

That’s what’s made this story suddenly so compelling for me: its complete hopelessness at the outset. This woman had gone out to experts, seeking solutions for a dozen years, and she’d never been able to get them.

And she’d bankrupted herself in the process.

There’s nothing more frustrating or disempowering than having a problem—any kind of physical or emotional pain—that turns into an endless prison you can never get free from. You go to “expert” after “expert,” walking away from each hopeful appointment with a progressively lighter wallet and heavier heart.

Can you relate? Does this resonate with you? It certainly does with me.

When I was struggling with the worst of my physical, emotional and spiritual pain following my divorce—which was really just the crescendo that woke me up to a lifetime of un-addressed trauma—I felt like all I did was try solutions that didn’t solve anything. I lost a ton of money in the process. And though I now walk now in total financial victory and freedom with God as my Provider, part of what He’s providing for right now is for me to pay off some residual debt associated with all those rounds of “treatment.”

In this state of poverty and hopelessness, the woman finally came to see Jesus.

“She came up behind [Jesus] and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.” – Luke 8:44 (ESV)

Such a simple recounting of a monumental event! The Mark version says, “She felt in her body that she was healed of the disease.” Our woman friend came to see Jesus. She touched nothing more than His garment. And instantly, she was whole.

Can you imagine? Actually sensing with your physical body the moment of release from your prison of pain?

Here we have this woman, who experienced the two-thousand-years-ago version of our modern treatment marathon. The text doesn’t say what her emotional state was, but she must have been desperate, because the Matthew version records her saying to herself, “If I can just get to Jesus, and touch the hem of his garment, I will be healed.”

If that’s not desperation, I don’t know what is. Other versions record that there was a huge crowd thronging Jesus the day He passed by the woman. She had to fight with the noise and the press of bodies. I doubt she was the strongest woman there that day, especially given her health issues, and yet, somehow, her desperation gave her determination. She strong-armed her way through the crowd and made it to the place where she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment as He passed by.

Think about that for a second.

She must have crouched down and reached between the ankles of people at the front of the crowd, just to touch a few threads of Jesus’ garment as he passed. Maybe it had a fringe, or tassels or some other kind of embroidery at the hem. Maybe that’s all her straining fingers could manage to brush.

Yet somehow, she made contact. And that single instant of contact changed her future.

Desperation also led her to take the most efficient action. She didn’t have money this time for more treatments. She wasn’t looking for a physical or psychological explanation for her pain. She just wanted the healing. Straight-up wellness, with no more hooplah, no more ten-step plans and no more excuses.

She just wanted to be well. And it shows … in the desperate measures she took to reach the last person she thought could help her.

I think that’s fascinating, actually, because I noticed in my own healing journey that there were times when I wasn’t really ready for 100% healing. I was ready for an explanation of my pain. I was ready for a treatment plan. I was ready to “do the work.” But I wasn’t really, truly, ready to be completely RELEASED of the weight I had been carrying around. Mostly because I had no idea what life would look like on the other side of my pain.

You might say, “Lisa, that’s crazy. I just want to be free of what I’m suffering in my body, mind and heart.”

I get that. But do you want it, really? Are you fully prepared for what your life will be like when you actually get free?

Sometimes the reason pain prolongs in our lives is because we’re holding on to it. We “get” something out of remaining in the situation we’re in. For me, I “got” a sense of comfort and identity from my pain. I got a twisted sense of safety. It was all I knew.

Inside my pain, somehow, I felt in control of my circumstances. The cage was comfortable and know-able. Everything on the other side was not.

The idea of living in total victory on the other side of anxiety, shame, low self-confidence, gastrointestinal disorders, weight fluctuation and everything else sounded good, yes. But in reality I was terribly afraid of a world where I didn’t face these things. It was the only world I knew.

The rounds and rounds and rounds of treatment—whether provided by a professional or undertaken by me in the form of self-help courses, support groups and hours of experimentation—kept me busy and feeling like I was moving forward. But in reality, they weren’t fixing the issue.

Can you relate?

“And Jesus said, ‘Who was it that touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.’” – Luke 8:45-46 (ESV)

So our woman friend is desperate. She goes to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and somehow succeeds. The text says, “And Jesus perceived that power had gone out of Him.” Some of the versions also say that He looked around and asked, “Who touched Me?”

His disciples thought He was crazy—because so many people were touching Him in the throng that day. How could it possibly be clear, who had touched the hem of His garment?

This desperate woman finally abandoned all the treatment plans and went straight to the Source of physical, emotional and spiritually healing. And Jesus, the Son of God, knew immediately when she had tapped into His power.

He was busy, but not too busy to notice her need and deliver the answer she sought.

Wow. That really hit me hard.

When we abandon our reliance on “treatment plans” and go straight to the Source of healing, He will know. Instantly. He’s not too busy to notice we’ve reached out to touch the hem of His garment. And today, with “instant access” to Jesus through prayer, we don’t have to push through a crowd to do it.

Please understand, I’m not saying you quit your doctor-approved treatment or stop going to your support group. I repeat: I am not encouraging you to go cold-turkey on your healing activities. I believe 100% in many healing practices, share them here and practice then myself.

But I am asking you to examine your heart and question whether, deep down, you truly believe that Jesus can free you from everything you’re facing, to the point that you will no longer need those healing practices or treatment plans in your life at some point? And whether you’re ready to let go of that pain so your hand is empty enough to reach out and touch Him?

So much of our physical pain has a root cause in our dis-ease of mind, emotions and spirit. As we allow Jesus to heal those root causes, many, many physical symptoms will ease or disappear completely. It happened to me, and it’s happened to many other women I know!

It might not happen instantly as it did for this woman. But by reaching out for the touch of Jesus, we ignite something powerful that will ultimately result in our healing if we submit to the process. And eventually we’ll feel the healing that’s happened deep inside.

That’s what happened to our friend, the woman. She felt that the disease (or dis-ease, as I prefer!) had gone out of her body.

Think about that.

Rarely in the Bible is it recorded that someone felt the healing. We hear that they got up and walked. Or that they could suddenly see. Or they could speak and praised God. But the feeling level is not often recorded. Not in the way it is here. As women we are so much more attuned to our feelings, and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that this woman’s story is one of the few in Scripture where we read that she felt the healing.

Jesus felt the power go out of His body. The woman felt the healing come into hers. And it was that feeling, that sense, that encounter-from-a-distance that finally brought them face to face.

“And when the woman perceived that she was not hidden, she came trebling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And [Jesus] said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’” – Luke 8 :47-48 (ESV)

The Scripture records that Jesus stopped and asked who had touched him. In this environment, the woman was quickly forced to come out of hiding in the crowd and fall down at Jesus’ feet and confess what she had done. To me, the way the text is written, it suggests that the woman wanted to remain hiddden. Perhaps she was ashamed of her condition, or she was fearful He might reprimand or punish her for “stealing” a bit of His power.

Ultimately, however, she could not remain hidden. She had to ‘fess up in front of everyone. And when she does, Jesus treats her with compassion and even honor. Instead of reprimanding or embarrassing her, He blesses her for her faith.

“Go in peace, Daughter, your faith has made you whole.”

Your faith has made you whole.

Interestingly, Jesus never says, “My power made you whole.” Or “Your faith and my power, working together, made you whole.” He says, “Your faith has made you whole.”

What if the only thing standing between us and the healing we seek—for our minds, our emotions, our spirits and our bodies—is the faith to believe it’s truly possible?

What if we’re going everywhere else for answer, because deep down, we don’t really believe Jesus can provide the healing that we seek? And direct us to the exact people and resources that can help us heal?

I didn’t truly believe that for a long time. I intellectually knew Jesus as Healer. But I ran everywhere else for the treatment I needed instead of going straight to Him. This is strange, because there’s no crowd between me and Jesus, as there was for the woman. I can go directly to Him. And yet I didn’t.

I let all the other “healing stuff” stand the way–not as tools to be used by Jesus in my life, but as substitutes for Him as the Source.

As I said, today I believe wholeheartedly in many different methods of healing, and I teach them here on my blog and in my private counseling and coaching. But if it isn’t all coming from Jesus as the Source … it’s just not going to have long-term transformative effective.

This spring, even as I’ve experienced a tremendous season of shedding in my life, I’ve also taken huge leaps forward. I’ve opened my heart back up to life and to really, truly, fully living in a place beyond fear. And this story means more than ever to me now.

Despite the continual uncertainties I live with as a single expat woman in an expensive Gulf country, where I’m dependent on my employer for my visa and have a lot of needs to meet with one paycheck each month, and a lot of other challenging circumstances in my life … I have total peace.

Why? Because Jesus is my Source. It’s touching His garment in faith that delivers everything I need …. physical, emotional and spiritual.

So ask yourself today, “Where is my dependence?”

Is it in the doctors and the treatment plan? Or the next ten-step healing program? Have you gotten so caught up in healing modalities and all the things you need to “do” to heal, that you’ve forgotten to go straight to the One Who wants to heal you from the inside-out, with complete victory and no residual “side effects?”

Perhaps at the most basic level, do you really, truly believe you can be healed at all?

That’s perhaps the most powerful thing about the woman’s story. Despite everything she had been through with doctors and treatment-induced poverty, she still believed it was possible to live completely free of the condition that was literally leeching her life source–her blood–out of her.

If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have gone through all that trouble to get to Jesus.

Healing from any condition only becomes possible on the day we take the limits off. And we do that by having faith in the Only One who truly Iives beyond the limits of this world.

When you do, you may not experience instaneous healing in your body, but you will begin an amazing process of healing that will lead you, step by step into a life beyond your “label” and a calling that overpowers your “condition.”

Touch the garment of Jesus. Let Him call out to you face-to-face, and you most certainly will find more freedom in your body, mind and emotions than you ever thought possible.

I know, because it happened to me.

When I let go of all he treatment plans, and decided I did really want to live beyond my condition, and that I believed Jesus could do it … things changed. Radically. My flow of pain became a flow of healing and power.

So can yours. The flow of blood …. or negative thoughts, or gastrointestinal pain, or emotional heartache … or whatever “issue” is robbing you of your life force today …. can become a flow of health, healing and purpose beyond your wildest dreams.

Jesus is passing by today, beautiful woman. Will you reach out to Him?

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Expressing my spiritual journey through cut, color and length

I’m in a struggle with my hair right now. The kind of struggle only a prophet goes through, I suppose, as she’s figuring out how to walk out her spiritual journey in her dress and hair choices.

I do believe as a daughter of God, I’m supposed to be distinctive. He loves me, He has chosen me out for a special purpose, and I ought to light up every room I walk into with His grace, joy and yes, even beauty.

In the past, when I was mired in the worst of my trauma and pain, I wanted to hide in the corner and not be noticed. And I dressed to make sure that happened. Deep inside I wanted to stand out and light up the room, but I was terrified of the power of God inside of me, and of my own radiance. It took a few years of sorting through that to really heal those fears, but I’m happy to say that I have. Now, I want to stand up and stand out—and I’m becoming bolder in my fashion choices.

But there’s the matter of my hair.

Current hair, after several months of growth

As some of you may know, in July of 2017, God told me that “Everything you want will come out of Nothing.” This began a systematic season of shedding and loss in my like that took me down to a suitcase and led me to wander the world as a vagabond for awhile. (You can read about it here.) In the process I kept letting more and more and more things go from my life, until basically only one thing remained: my hair and hairstyle I’d had for several years.

Back in April 2018, God told me to let my hair go, too, as a final symbol of letting go fully of my old life and identity. So I did, in the middle of a Nebraska snowstorm, no less, which I have detailed elsewhere on this blog if you want to read the story. I kept it shaved the entire summer. And then, once I had arrived in Dubai and gotten my job, I felt like He was saying to grow my hair out again—mostly because the season of “Nothing” was over and the season of “Everything” was now at hand.

You might say that hair, for me, has always been a barometer of where I was at in my life. Years ago I wore a cut that looked more like a boy’s, because secretly I had serious issues with being feminine. Subconsciously, I wanted to be a boy, so I wore hair like a boy’s and clothes and hats, too, that were inspired by men’s fashion.

The boy years ….

In more recent years since my divorce and the first time the Holy Spirit spoke to me in 2016, I’ve been on a journey to re-embrace my feminine identity and really own who I am as a woman. And part of that journey is making peace with my hair.

Did I mention I hate my hair? It’s plentiful but very fine, meaning it has no volume, none of the beautiful fullness and thickness other women’s hair has. So yeah, it pretty much just “lays there” when I grow it out. It’s also super oily—which means I do a lot of washing of it.

At one point I bleached it and dyed it purple. And while this wasn’t ideal for my hair’s health, it did help with the grease problem …

Wow, that really was purple!

Keeping that frustrating part of my body shaved off entirely was pretty much a dream come true for me. I loved my buzz cut, and by all accounts from the compliments I got, it loved me back. But this is a new season. This is not the season of Nothing. It’s the season of Everything according God—and having a shaved head, I suppose is not a symbol of Everything. Having really long hair is.

So, as of November I began growing my hair out. It’s entering that awkward stage now, from which it will not emerge for, like, maybe years?

Part of me has an urge every day to run to the nearest beauty parlor and ask them to shave it off again, because I don’t have my electric razor anymore!

But I’m not sure that’s what I’m supposed to do.

The big shave, April 2018

Hair, clothing and makeup are all symbols of how we see ourselves and who we think we are. What is my hair supposed to say about myself in this new season of abundance?

I’m not entirely sure, but one thing I do know …. it’s not my decision to make entirely. I am God’s mouthpiece, and therefore everything about me belongs to Him. He’s the one who gets to decide what I look like and how I present myself to the world.

I do know that I’m supposed to embrace an even more radical Bohemian style of dress. And it is true that most Bohemian fashion is traditionally associated with long flowing hair: something I haven’t had since I was like 13 years old.

I was a bald beauty on my first day in the UAE!

Funny about that—when I think back to my childhood ideal, I wanted to have really long, flowing hair “down to my butt,” as my mom always said. As a very young girl, I embraced the deep, archetypally feminine persona as my destiny. But I lost that mojo later when my femininity was attacked, through traumas I experienced as a young woman.

Cutting my hair short was the beginning of my de-association with the feminine—a rift it took me another 20 years to begin healing. Not that every woman needs to express her femininity with long hair. I’m not saying that. But I do believe our childhood desires are a key to who we really are. And for me, long hair had been an ideal I wanted to reach.

So am I really sure what I’m supposed to do with my hair now? Not entirely.

But I have an uncomfortable suspicion I’ll be growing it out.

There’s always an electric razor if I get fed up …

9 Ways to Love Your Body When You Don’t Really Like It

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“Don’t you you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that His spirit dwells in your midst?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16

You know deep inside if you don’t love your body. It’s hard to admit aloud, perhaps, but not hard to know in your soul. You hate mirrors. You don’t want to have your picture taken. And nothing you put on your body, clothes-wise, actually feels good.

There was a time in my life where I didn’t just dislike my body. I loathed it. I dreaded taking showers or baths because I’d have to undress in front of the bathroom mirror—and stare at all the lumps and bumps I had that I didn’t think were in the “places they were supposed to be.”

Many of my friends might have been surprised to learn how I felt about myself, because some of them considered me “slender” and “fit.” It took a lot of effort and ingenuity to make my body look different than it was, not to mention a lot of time and money. I bought the best bras I could afford. Shapewear, makeup and expensive haircuts were my best friend.

Yet, despite all this, I didn’t feel good in my own skin. And I certainly didn’t love it or what was inside of it.

It took me years to realize that my feelings weren’t magically going to change overnight. Yes, I did want to feel differently about my body, but spiritually (and neurologically) speaking, there are only two ways to change your feelings about yourself.

You have to change your THINKING and your ACTIONS.

No, your feelings won’t change overnight. But as you start prayerfully 1) doing things that genuinely nourish your body (rather than simply covering it up) and 2) redirecting every self-negative thought into one that honors God’s perspective … you will see change.

One day you will wake up, like I did, realizing that your body is pretty amazing exactly as it is. And that, in fact, you aren’t quite sure why you hated it so much or wanted to change it so badly. I know this might sound like an alternate universe, but it is possible.

Here are 9 ways to start nudging your inner “Negative Nancy” voice in the direction of genuine self-appreciation and praise to God for how you were made:

1. Ask God to change your heart toward yourself by showing you HIS radical love for you.

God says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14). He loves you to the core of your being. Every time you cut yourself down, you are essentially blaspheming Him by speaking against something that He has called good. God knows where you are at; He is ready and willing to extend mercy to you and even help you have a “new heart” in regards to yourself. All you have to do is ask. Sure, the way you FEEL about yourself might not change overnight. But you will receive the transformation if you persist in prayer and in choosing to THINK thoughts that reflect what HE says about you, not what your inner “Negative Nancy” is telling you.

2. Choose to feel good, rather than look good.

This is a simple but profound shift. If you’ve been buying tight clothes, Spanx or other shapewear that drives your skin insane but molds your silhouette into something you think is “acceptable,” now is the time to change that. By contrast, perhaps you wear “tent dresses” to hide your shape but secretly feel unkempt or slobby in them, what does that say? Either way, it’s time for change. Go to a favorite thrift shop or department store–your choice–and give yourself a whole afternoon to try on all kinds of outfits. Notice which fabrics feel good, which waistbands feel good, which clothes make you relax versus tense up. Once you find what makes you FEEL good, stick with that. And only that. By prioritizing your own good feels, you are de-prioritizing how others perceive you.

3. Nourish your skin inside and out.

At a certain point in my healing journey, I had a choice to make. I could continue spending tons of money on face/body products that promised miracle results, plus cosmetics that over my lifetime, would cost as much as a sports car. Or I could focus on having really great skin, and making sure I took care of its health so that I glowed from the inside out. I chose the latter. And I can say that that choice actually changed everything about loving myself and my body. My secrets for glow-glam skin that doesn’t even need makeup include:

  • Drink half your body weight in water each day.
  • Dry-brush before you shower, every time.
  • Use a natural charcoal exfoliating sponge on your face twice per week.
  • Make your own face scrub (it’s easy and fast!).
  • Swap commercial “moisturizers” for a gentle natural oil. (I use argan or jojoba.)
  • Shave your face with an eyebrow razor (yes, all those fine hairs everywhere!); it’s a powerful exfoliant and makes skin glow.
  • Try a vegan, vegetarian or meat- and dairy-lite diet. You’ll be shocked at how your skin responds.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying them all at once. Pick one technique and see what it does for you! Then try adding another.

4. Find a self-care practice that works for you.

For some women, baths make them feel great. For others it’s lounging in pretty lingerie while they read a book by candlelight. Maybe your jam is a monthly massage or two yoga classes a week. Whatever it is … and you might have to experiment to find it … prioritize that. For many years, because I hated my body so much, I didn’t want to spend time or money nourishing it. Once I began allocating resources to feeling good, guess what? The feelings followed. So find your jam and stick with it. And if you “fall off the bandwagon,” simply get on again. That’s why self-care is a journey and not an destination.

5. Do mirror work daily.

If you’re not familiar, mirror work is a practice in which you choose several affirming statements about your body, tape them up to the mirror where you get ready each day, and say them to yourself directly in the mirror as you dress. It might sound or feel “cheesy” at first, but WOW is this practice powerful! You see, our brains respond to verbal input. If your verbal input toward yourself is always negative, nothing is going to change. The combination of looking into your own eyes in the mirror, plus speaking “words of life” over yourself, can change so much. Some of my favorite mirror work affirmations include:

  • I love you exactly how God made you.
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made because God said so.
  • You are becoming more beautiful each day, [insert name].
  • Who’s that gorgeous woman in the mirror? Oh, it’s me!

6. Move your body, just for fun.

When I began my healing journey, I was incredibly self-conscious about dancing and had been all my life. But something happened as I began to DO and THINK love toward my body. I would shut my door, turn up the music, and dance just for me. This was new. It felt strange and even silly at first. But then it began to feel REALLY GOOD. There’s a power in great music, and a power in dance. It will life your spirits like nothing else. Even if all you can do is move back and forth, wave your arms and turn in circles … baby girl, crank up those TUNES. The key too is to choose positive music—praise and worship, or at least songs that share a positive, uplifting message about the world and about you. You’ll be amazed at how your posture and your self-confidence begin to change in public as you do this work in private.

7. Practice standing tall.

Posture is a funny thing. It actually does make a difference in how people perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. Coming from a conservative church background in the ‘80s, I had those hilarious posture lessons with a hymn book balanced on my head … and it did nothing for me. This is partly because those lessons were focused on me looking “lady-like,” which is ALL about how other people perceive us. That is a lie from the pit of hell. Later, during my healing journey, I learned how to stand tall in yoga because it felt good and it made me feel powerful. Because when you show up and stand tall, people react differently to you, innately. And you also react differently to yourself. If you want to learn more, here is: