The Real Reason Mr. Right Hasn’t Shown Up Yet

Your Maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer.” – Isaiah 54:5 

Hello, Beautiful Sister, I see you there.

You have a deep desire to be married, to create a family that honors God. 

Perhaps He has even given you a word confirming this is indeed His will for your life. You’ve been working on being the best version of you, dating as the opportunity arises and always keeping your eyes peeled for the arrival of your Mr. Right. 

So why is he taking so long? I mean, Southern sweet tea cures faster in a patch of sunshine than your future man showing up. And the way things are looking right now in your love life, that’s exactly what he’s doing: either drinking his sweet tea under a tree somewhere in Alabama … or worse, still waiting for it to cure. 

Either way, you’re getting impatient. 

Where is God in all of this? Why are you still as single as a stand-alone song on iTunes? And what are you supposed to DO now to hurry this along? 

Well, beloved woman, I can’t answer all those questions. But I sure can tell you this:

Sometimes the questions we ask will reveal the answers to us naturally, if we have the ears to ear. 

The first two questions, I truly can’t answer for you. I CAN tell you that God is here, in the midst of your singleness, and that He has an answer to the WHY that He may or may not choose to share. And that’s all I can say on that front.

But that third question … the one of the “What am I supposed to do now?” variety.

Your answer to your question is right there, plain as day. That question in and of itself IS your answer to why you, the Rebekah marked out for marriage by God Himself, are still waiting for your Isaac. Or his servant with the ten camels. (Take your pick, it all ends up the same way.)

Let’s face it: you are a goal-oriented, driven woman who sees what she wants and goes after it. If someone who seems successful says, “Jump, and you’ll get my results!” Your response is always, “How high?” I bet you’ve already hired a dating or feminine energy coach, read all the books on relationships, attended every church singles event, perfected your online dating profile until it POPS on the internal search engine and pray hard every day.

Bottom line; if you could do something … anything … to make this guy show up, you’ve probably already done it.

Which is why it’s time to stop approaching this marriage process like a man, and start approaching it like a woman. 

Yes, you heard me right.

Our culture today is sooooo sneaky. As women, we have been sold a lie that in order to be successful, we have to DO more. In the process, we get taught to behave like me: to set goals, check stuff ruthlessly off of lists, sweat hard and demand results. Which, as it turns out, are all masculine ways to get things done.

Yet this is NOT how we as women are wired to relate to God, ourselves or others. And when it comes to relationships, where our feminine energy is the REAL gift God has given us to bring to the man we’re dreaming of, we are rarely if ever showing up as soft, receptive, open space. 

Instead, we show up to the party trying to drive our agenda and get the man our way.

How can God send us a real man, when we’re so busy trying to be one? 

You see, feminine energy—the essence of our womanhood that God gave us as our “superpower—is all about being OPEN. It’s about receptivity. It’s about being able to “dance with the flow” of life and trust that God will guide our steps. NO striving, no struggle, no sweat.

And it’s actually the exact opposite of our goal-driven, “girl boss” culture. A woman who is truly in her feminine essence may not be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, no. But she has most definitely learned how to stay present in her life, exactly where she is right now, loving exactly what God sends to her and immersing herself in the full sensory experience of what is on her plate right now. 

In other words, a truly feminine woman—the kind of woman a “real man” wants to date and marry—is not in fight mode, conquer mode or competition mode. She’s busy enjoying her life, and nothing is more enticing than a beautiful woman who naturally helps a man rest from his own God-made goal orientation and relax into “the flow” in her presence.. 

Plese note, dear heart: this does not mean a feminine woman cannot be a successful visionary with dreams and plans God has given her, or a woman with “a lot going on.” But it means she accomplishes all these things by grounding into her life exactly as it is right now, not by deciding in advance what’s supposed to happen and pushing her agenda.

So, you still want to know why Mr. Right hasn’t shown up yet?

Part of it is timing. God isn’t going to bring him until the exact right moment … and you can get down on your knees and thank Him for this, because His way is best. But beyond that … God won’t bring Mr. Right into your life until you are fully surrendered to where you are right now. 

You’ve got to love your life to the fullest extent, RIGHT NOW, whether or not your man is in the picture. 

“But Lisa,” you say, as your eyes fill up with tears, “You have no idea how lonely I am. I just want to be loved, to be part of a team. Is that so much to ask?”

Oh, my beautiful friend, I know how you feel. God knows the nights I cried myself to sleep wondering if I would ever experience love—both before my marriage, during it (because it was never strong), and after it unexpectedly ended in divorce. 

As I speak the truth in love to you, I speak it from a place of deep tenderness and knowledge.

I didn’t want to hear that I needed to love my life, right now, before Mr. Right showed up. But once I dried my tears and accepted this word, my life actually began to change.

You see, Mr. Right can’t be your everything. He can’t be responsible for your emotion well-being, for cheering you up every second of the day, for taking away your loneliness, for giving you a purpose, a hope and “an expected end.” 

He’s a man. Like, a real one with flaws as well as features. And he’s going to need you to minister to him as much as he ministers to you. 

The only One who can satisfy all the needs you have is God. And since He’s all you’ve got right now … right now is the perfect opportunity to change how you approach your life, so you can (ultimately) watch God change your situation. 

A feminine woman doens’t have to fight or strive for what she wants, because she knows the Lord her Maker, the Lord of Hosts, is fighting on her behalf.

Believe me, I used to think it would be IMPOSSIBLE to love my life as a single woman. Yet, when I asked God to help me ground into what He’s given me, right now, and stop treating my love life like a mountain to be conquered, He answered me by literally SHOWERING His grace, His presence, and dynamic power, right into my situation. 

I still hope to be married, yes. God has told me this is my future and has given me many specific dreams and words about it. 

But I don’t need that man to make me happy. He will only, ever, be a complement to my happiness: the cherry on top the sundae of an already-amazing life.

Your life will be what you make it, with or without a man. So start making it extraordinary now, as-is.

And while you’re doing that, my dear friend, let Mr. Right off the hook. Let hims sip his sweet tea in Alabama, or better yet … wait for it to cure just right so he can bring you a glass to share.

He’s only a man, after all. And you’ve already got the Lord of Hosts for your husband. 

Let Him be your all, and when you do, you will see how He gives you more than you ever dreamed possible …

Maybe even the man of your dreams!

Finding Freedom from Emotional Eating

For most of my life, I wouldn’t have said I had an eating disorder. 

To me, “eating disorders” were things like anorexia and bulemia: big, life-altering struggles that required the intervention of doctors, therapists and pastors. 

I never realized that every time I ran to the fridge for a snack when I felt sad, or cheated on my “vegetarian diet” (again), or couldn’t stop myself with just a few potato chips (cookies, cheese sticks, etc.) … I was essentially stuck in the same place as those women with “eating disorders” with more clinically acceptable eating disorders.

I was using food to cover up a craving inside that couldn’t actually be assuaged with sweets, salty, spicy or sour.

Today, many women comment to me that they wish they could eat vegan like I do now. “But I just can’t seem to give up the meat, eggs and dairy,” they quickly add. Others tell me they want to kick the sugar or the cola habit. Still others want to go gluten free, but the thought of no cookies or cinnamon rolls sends them running for cover. 

If any of those describe you, I’m hear to hug you and say, “It’s okay.”

I was there, too. 

The first biggest step I had to take to be free of my constant need for food, was to realize that I was in bondage in the first place. 

After my powerful full-body opening in July 2017, at which time the Holy Spirit began to speak me more directly, I began to realize all the ways I was carrying trauma and hurt in body. I also began to see how that trauma was driving me to hold on to weight I no longer needed.

Because I needed to feel safe, my brain was keeping me overweight—essentially—“hiding” me under layers of fat. And the easiest way to do that was with an addiction to animal-based, processed and refined foods. Did the drive to eat every time I felt sad, or to overindulge at every opportunity, disappear overnight? 

No, not in the least. Not by half. 

But awareness is the beginning of freedom. 

Once I knew what was going on, I could take steps to change my thinking, which changed my dominant emotional state and enabled me to finally change my behaviors around the fridge. 

So if you’re reading this today, and you know that you eat according to your mood, not according to your nutritional need … first, you are not alone. And second, the fact that you have acknowledged this pattern is a HUGE step toward breaking free. 

Because the truth is: 

  • You CAN stop equating food with emotional comfort, in the deepest level of your mind. 
  • You CAN come to a place where you no longer desire food except when your body is actually hungry.
  • You CAN adopt a vegetarian, vegan, raw foods or other alternative diet—once you are in a mental and emotional place where the first two points are already true.

And that’s the real issue here. 

Most women I know who want to change their eating are trying to do so without first shifting their dominant thought patterns and their everyday emotions. 

Adopting that new diet, losing weight or taking up more exercise simply won’t be successful if you try to “power through it” or make it “one more item on your to-do list.” 

Heart change and mind change must happen first. You won’t be able to shift your thoughts or emotions overnight. It WILL require that you confess your addiction to God and ask Him to heal you. It WILL take work to discipline your mind and body. But when you learn how to do that, and learn how to relax into receiving a smaller body, fewer cravings, and healthier food … it can happen.

Many of my my friends and mentees have experienced shifts in their eating as a natural byproduct of clearing their thoughts and emotions.

That’s how it happened for me, ultimately, as well. 

I didn’t totally set out to change my eating. My freedom from emotional eating patterns came as a byproduct of shift my thoughts to focus on God and His love, and learn how to live at the high, even emotional state that He desires for each of us. 

Eating can be a FLOW, just like love, money and creativity.

Release the struggle, and step into ease.

What to Do When Your Creative Muse Goes AWOL

I wish my muse was better behaved. I really do. But like me, she’s a free spirit—and sometimes she takes the day off without letting me know. 

In the past, if I’m honest, she’s taken more than a day or two. Once, she even took off a whole decade. (That’s another story for another day…) But even when my Muse IS on the job, the “fits of genius” come sporadically at best. So much of the time, showing up for my art or my passion project feels like plain old work.  

What’s a creative woman to do when her deepest creative self seems to run on fumes … and she really just wants to get back in the FLOW?

First, don’t panic. 

Everyone experiences dry spells. It could even be that you are coming back to your creativity after a long dry season, or a busy season serving others, and you wonder if it’s even possible to muster up that mojo again. 

I’ve been in both scenarios, and I can say for sure that it IS indeed possible to get that mojo back. But not by trying so so so hard to make it all happen. 

I like to think about creativity like a small child, or a small animal. She only comes out when she truly feels safe. 

Rush your Muse, pressure her, or make demands—and she’ll likely run the other direction. But if you can create a relaxed, fun environment that invites her to come close without forcing it, you might be surprised how fast the ideas spring up again. 

So perhaps the best advice I can give you is to …

Relax. 

Yes, I know, woman of action: that might not come easily to you. It seems more valuable to just keep piling on the action, trying to get more done, putting yourself under and even bigger load. But the more you sweat and strive, the less far you’ll actually get. 

So put on some music that makes you feel happy. 

Take that overdue bubble bath. 

Have a glass of wine or herbal tea.

Take a hike or do some serious yoga. 

Indulge in the nap you’re craving. 

Have dinner with a friend who makes you laugh. 

Finger paint with your kids for awhile. 

Or maybe … just maybe … pull the covers over your head and try again tomorrow. 

Doing this once or twice isn’t going to change everything, either. You’re going to have to make a new habit of just … having fun. 

Because the more you allow yourself to feel pleasure and joy, the more the ideas will flow.

By releasing the “pressure valve” on your inner need to perform, you will actually create space for your muse to whisper in your ear—and actually be heard. 

All of this, though, points to something much deeper than finding the last lyric for that song or the right color for the last stroke of that painting. 

It’s about learning how to fully and deeply open up to what is happening in the present moment. 

Perhaps what your Muse needs more than anything else is simply for you to accept that feeling “blocked” is where you are right now. 

This iS what is. And it is okay. 

You don’t have to have the idea right now. It can take a little more time to make itself clear. 

Sometimes the best way to get the answer is simply to release the pressure of needing to have it. 

Because after all, your Muse has a mind of her own. Let her be who she is, and you might be surprised what she gives you in return. 

Your creativity may feel AWOL right now. But maybe it’s just around the corner, waiting for you to breathe deeply, loosen your shoulders and dance. 

In the middle of the dance, you’ll know what to do. 

 

 

The Water Is Within: Why Everything You’re Looking for, You Already Have

“If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone. They are a great fountain of energy and beauty spurting up at the very centre of reality. If you are close to it, the spray will wet you: if you are not, you will remain dry.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The high-rises of Dubai Marina (my neighborhood), as reflected in the Arabian Gulf

Have you ever looked really hard for something you were sure must be available, only to give up your search? Perhaps it was a last-minute Christmas gift when all the racks are picked over. Or the perfect dress you needed—but couldn’t find—for an upcoming gala. Nothing’s worse than a search undertaken under pressure. The clock is ticking. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, it will soon be too late.

Life can feel like that sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I am often in a frantic search for purpose, significance, creative inspiration and (yes, let’s be honest) more money. I’m keeping my eyes peeled everywhere I go for that one “magic thing” I want. My search for a marriage partner was like this for many years. Can you relate?

It’s like keeping your eyes peeled for an oasis on a torturous trek through the desert.

If only we can find that thing “out there,” we’ll survive the heat.

Or so we think.

Lately I’ve come to realize more than ever that the search for all of this is never outside of ourselves. It’s always within. The next book, the next course, the next man, even the next gathering at church—all these are good things that can become our own personal definition of a mirage because they won’t slake the thirst we feel.

What if you’re wasting your time wandering around like that, looking for something you’re never going to find outside yourself? If you are a believer, God has already provided everything you need to feel significant, purposeful, loved, creative and financially free. And what if, as a believer in Jesus, you already have all that inside you through the Holy Spirit?

It would be a shame to keep searching for the mirage, growing fainter by the moment, when you’ve got a freely-flowing fountain deep within (Psalm 36:8-9).

And yet, that’s what we do with God. We forget the Holy Spirit is always with us, ready to guide us into all truth, if we’ll just ask (John 16:13). It’s so much easier, after all, to focus on what’s in front of our faces. And if we’re being honest, searching for the answer is addictive in itself.

You can be so hooked on searching that deep down, you’ll do anything to keep yourself from really, truly finding. So what if you bought one less course, went on one less date and cancelled, yes, even that church bowling event—just so you could spend time drinking at the well that is already within you?

In my own search to assuage the pain inside and make sense of the chaos of my life, the running only stopped when I decided to stand still.

The less I did to solve my problems, the more God presented the solutions I needed.

The less I chased people or opportunities, the more God put the right ones in front of me.

The more time I spent with God, the better my experiences became in the outside world, and the more creative I began to feel.

When my inside “woke up” to the reality of the authority, power and provision God had already planted deep within me by His Spirit, my outer world began to take care of itself.

This was most evident in my search for love following my divorce, which was really a three-year journey to heal my own love wounds from childhood through adulthood, and become a clean channel, able to receive the full flow of God’s love to me and give it back to others. (Still a work in progress, but I’m happy to say I’ve come a very long way!)

In this journey, I was convinced once I had successfully created another union with healthier patterns than the last one, I would arrive at the oasis. As a girlfriend, fiancée or wife again, I would have a chance to rewrite my story and change the future for myself, my new husband and my eventual children.

But you know what?

None of those efforts worked out.

No matter how much I changed myself, refined my thoughts and behaviors or stepped outside my comfort zone to embrace healing … all of which was amazing and helpful, by the way … I still didn’t get the results I was looking for.

Then one day, I realized: there was nothing to fix. Jesus took the penalty for all my mistakes on the cross. And He would carry the wounds from my childhood if I asked, so I didn’t have to anymore. I was already loved unconditionally, accepted fully in the beloved; I just wasn’t living my life as a loved, accepted woman (Ephesians 1:6).

And the real reason none of those relationships (including my marriage, I believe) lasted?

Because God loved me so much, He did whatever it took to bring me to the point where I was dependent on Him for love, and not on another human being. Even if it meant allowing the dissolution of relationships I had cherished—even ones that are supposed to last a lifetime.

What felt like pain was really the most amazing form of “tough love” designed to bring me into greater levels of life. The day I recognized my true worth, and the level of love and acceptance God already has for me, was the day I found my freedom from the past and finally stepped beyond the limits of my own need for companionship. My three-year journey to learn how to love culminated in the reality that I was loved already. There was nothing to find, improve or create (Psalm 136:26).

Would I still love to be in an amazing partnership? Absolutely. I still pray and believe for this outcome in my future. But I don’t “need” to be in a relationship to slake the thirst inside, or to heal my past love wounds.

I am God’s amazing daughter, and I walk right now in more radical love, acceptance and provision than any human could deliver me. And I always will, from now until the end of time.

I’m not waiting for the oasis to show up on the horizon.

The fountain lies within.

“You are not my Bargain Bin Daughter” and Other Radical Things God Said to Me about Money and Shopping

IMG_4432From the time I was born, I’ve been a bargain shopper.

Yes, like literally, I think my mom and grandma took me out bargain-hunting in a stroller.

They raised me “good and frugal.” When it came to clothes shopping, deals were our best friend. If it wasn’t on sale, we didn’t buy it. Living large for us meant buying something on sale without an additional coupon. Money was often tight in our house, and I remember Mom counting cash carefully to make sure everything was covered.

I carried those behaviors with me into my clothes shopping as an adult—even after I got married and my material resources radically increased. Queen of the Coupon-Clipping Discount After-Market Rack? Yo girl, that was me. I may not have always loved what was in my closet, and sometimes it was five or ten years out of fashion, but darn it all, I was proud of what it cost. (Or didn’t.)

I genuinely thought cheapness was next to godliness. That is, until God decided to rewrite my whole money story.

It all started in January 2016, when God randomly-not randomly crash-landed inside my safe little cheapskate box and happily blow it up, along with every other mental box I had. (We could talk about all the boxes. But hey, one story at a time, right?)

Don’t get me wrong. I still like my deals … but I’ve since discovered that my God is not the God of the bargain bin. He’s the God of endless wealth, prosperity and abundant life in Jesus Christ. As I’ve since learned, when frugality becomes an obsession in my life, instead of a helpful aspect of stewardship, then I’m not reflecting Who my Father really is.

Can I say that again, because I can never say it enough?

My God is not the God of the bargain bin. And I am not His bargain bin daughter.

Let that sink in for a minute. If you have an allergic reaction to that statement, you’re not alone. I did too the first time I heard Him say it.

I’ll never forget the day in January 2016 when God dealt with me about my stupid crazy fear-based adversarial relationship with money.

It had been a horrible quarter in my business, and I was fed up with struggling for cash. A friend sent me a link to a free online mini-course by a financial coach, which I clicked on. Somehow, God used this poorly-produced online video about money—something I would never normally have watched—to nail the heart of my beliefs about prosperity.

On the video, a financial coach was talking about the reasons why people remain poor, or behave like they are poor, even when they truly do have means, or at least have opportunities to change their financial situation. She stated that the real reason for poverty (or perceived poverty) is complex, of course. But it starts with our beliefs about ourselves, what we’re worth, what we are “good enough” to have, and how that translates into our earning and spending habits. (Or even the kinds of financial opportunities we are brave enough to go after.)

She listed out several core beliefs people have about money that keep them from stepping into true financial freedom. The first two reasons didn’t resonate with me. But the third hit me between the eyes:

“You secretly believe that people who have money or get rich just use their money to hurt other people, and you don’t want to be someone who hurts people.

Wow. She had described my life philosophy in a nutshell.

As a Christian and an artist, I associated with people who were (at best) very committed to “not being about the money.” At worst, they constantly critiqued or criticized wealthy people—yet constantly spoke about their own lack of resources.

I myself had turned down multiple high-paying jobs because I was afraid they would own my life, and that having a really comfortable life was somehow at odds with my spiritual growth. If I got money, I instantly gave every penny away. At that very moment, I was running a business that deliberately served clients who were running struggling businesses themselves … and could not afford to pay.

Was it really, truly possible that my attitudes about money were at the root of my struggles?

Deep in my spirit, I knew immediately that it was true.

I had been waiting so long for God to send me a windfall of cash out of Heaven so I could stop shopping bargains, but how could He give it to me when I immersed myself in the belief that it wasn’t okay to receive such a gift at all?

My financial life, and specifically my shopping choices, did not change overnight, but this one “ah ha” moment did set off a chain reaction of events that propelled me into almost three years of making friends with money. I made a ton of money in the process, lost a ton more and then learned how to trust God for every single dollar through an intense period of “Nothing.” The whole time, I knew all of this was preparation to step into the abundance He had destined for me before the foundation of the world.

You see, I had to finally realize that much of my early training in frugality had nothing to do with God and everything to do with anxiety. Many of us grow up with people in our lives all around us who are struggling with limited resources themselves, and a deep sense of unworthiness. They have not truly stepped into their identity in Christ (even if they are believers), or into the flow of God’s financial favor. Often, they haven’t even been taught that He desires to bless us with more abundance and prosperity than we can even imagine.

Instead, even in church, most of us have been taught (subconsciously) that money is dirty and people who have it are probably heartless and shallow, deep down.

If this isn’t said directly, it’s implied in a thousand small ways.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but really listen money you hear in your circle of family and friends. Is the conversation full of their joy, gratefulness to God and excitement to invest that money in blessing others, and also in enjoying the fullness of life God intends for them personally? Or is it full of worry, stress, arguments about every how every penny is spent, complaints about people who “have it easy,” and where the next sale is going to be?

I don’t say this to look down on anyone or criticize—not at all. But observe natural behaviors, and you’ll start to notice that we’re all trapped in some scary financial boxes that God never intended. This should cause to want to jail-break our families into mental and emotional freedom, not judge them!

For me personally, recognizing and untangling all of these generational chains helped me step into a new level of financial freedom—even when I had no money at all. I learned to let go of worry about how much money I did or didn’t have because God ALWAYS provided. Often, He provided far more (or far nicer) than I technically “needed,” when I trusted him.

Since moving to Dubai, I’ve entered a new chapter of life where God has sent many financial resources rushing back to me again. I’ve been able to step into this abundance because of what He taught me, starting with that video almost three years ago.

But sometimes, when you up-level up out of one mindset, you find yourself confronted with a host of new ones. “New levels, new devils,” as they say. Though I stepped into a new level of financial favor after coming to Dubai, the rubber really “hit the road” when it came time to not shop for clothes.

For a long time, I’ve been aware of the principle that you dress for where you want to go, not where you are. Clothes aren’t just a covering. They’re symbols of who we aspire to be and believe we can become. Clothes can be an act of faith or a revelation of our financial fears. It’s all about where our hearts are at.

Will we stand out in Christ-like confidence or hide in shame over who He has made us to be?

Our shopping choices reveal our answer to this and many more questions—and I knew it was time to change my answers.

I had been wrestling with this line of thinking for days, because as much as I wanted to step into my destiny and reflect more of who I am becoming through my clothing choices, I also have other things I believe God wants me to do with the financial resources He has entrusted to me. I was feeling the old stress about money again. I was praying for sales and deals, scanning the Dubai headlines for where the next big sale was going to be, and when the annual shopping festival is going to start.

While I was busy dithering, the Holy Spirit pressure to “get going” with my shopping began to escalate. I started bargaining with God about “maybe next month,” or “some other time,” or “when You send me an epic sale, THEN I’ll obey what I believe You’re saying about reflecting my destiny in my clothing choices.”

Finally, in answer, I heard a simple, urgent answer bubble up from Holy Spirit:

“Have you forgotten? You are not my bargain-bin daughter.”

Stop obsessing about getting the best sales and just go shopping, trusting Me to send you what you need.”

In that one thought, God re-shattered the old default programming of frugality that had popped up again and was running me hard.

The truth is: I didn’t need anything more than what He had already given me to go shopping. My Father is the God of the Universe. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. If He chooses to extend my current abundance by using a sale to bless me with more, so be it. But He already had provided enough for me to shop. If I was honest, I knew the budget I had set in my head to spend wasn’t actually His instruction to me. It was a mental box (limit) I had created on what I believed was possible.

“What if I asked you to walk into the most expensive mall in Dubai and buy what you wanted right off the rack … no sale, deal and no coupons …. would be okay?”

I found myself struggling for an answer.

“What’s gonna happen when it’s time for you to dress in Gucci and Prada?” Holy Spirit pressed. “You’re not going to wear a discount dress to stand before the kings of the earth and testify of Me. If you fight me on buying the 100 AED dress today, you’ll fight Me when I want to give you the 1000 AED dress, and the 10000 AED dress after that.”

Eventually, after enough of this, my defenses broke. And I felt so convicted.

I thought about how many times I had secretly judged well-dressed women on the street corner who who obviously had spent time and money on shopping for the outfit they were wearing.

I had judged these women because of my own insecurity and my beliefs about money and wealth. It had never once occurred to me some of those women might be sweet, dear sisters of God who were giving liberally of their means to help others—and also walking out God’s call to be a visible demonstration of His abundance in their own lives.

Was it possible, that in my penny-pinching, deal-shopping, bargain-hunting default attitude, I was missing out on the beauty, richness and joy of the decadent shopping experience God wanted me to have?

Please understand, I’m not suggesting you blow your rent money on new clothes or put a fancy dress on your credit card. (For the record, I shop with cash and cash only.) But what if … what if … God asked you to walk into a store you’ve always dreamed of shopping in, and buy something beautiful you really want … at full price?

(Newsflash: When He begins reinventing your relationship with money, you’ll probably have to do that, at some point. Just saying.)

Do you really deep-down believe you’re worth that brand-new dress with the full-price tag? Because that’s the real question here.

At the end of the day, most of our super-spiritual “frugality” isn’t truly driven by a holy desire to steward our money wisely. It’s driven by the limits of our self-worth, ingrained by generations of people before us who believed that money is scarce, wealthy is hard to get, and it’s not meant for people “like us.”

Most of us come from a heritage of women secretly don’t believe they’re worth more than the bargain rack. They never expected more in their lives or took steps to claim it spiritually for themselves. Which is why they … and we … still restrict ourselves to the bargain rack.

I truly believe this mindset not only saddens but also offends God, because it goes entirely against who He said we are. He paid the ultimate price for us. Why should we act like we’re worth nothing? Spending money wisely is absolutely commendable. But shopping from a secret mindset of poverty, lack and “not-enough-ness” is about as anti-God as it gets.

Do you see the difference?

I’d submit that about 99 times out of every 100, what we think is “wise shopping” is actually fueled by a secret belief that resources are finite, prosperity isn’t biblical, and people who have resources to spend on things like brand-new clothes are, somehow, sinning.

Don’t believe me? Try buying something you truly want, but don’t technically “need,” and isn’t on sale. Let me know how easy it is for you to open your purse for that. If you have a bona five heart-attack in the checkout line and break out in a cold sweat just getting out your wallet … you’ll know where your heart is at. (I can say that because I’ve been there!)

You can be the change in your family lineage regarding prosperity—but you’ve got to start by opening up your concept of money to God and asking Him to blow it wide open.

In the end, I decided I am not God’s bargain-bin daughter, and I will no longer dress like less than who I am.

So I went out shopping just like God said, to the exact shopping centers where He told me to go. (Listening to Him is critical in this whole process, by the way.) And let’s just say … it wasn’t the Discount Mart.

Did I get some killer deals? By God’s grace, you bet I did. And I also buy some things I really wanted right off the rack, full price—because He said to? Yep.

I’m joyful and delighted by everything God gave me. It feels so incredibly good to walk out the door stretching myself to represent who I truly believe I am in Christ—not who my own puny mental limits think I can be. I am in love with how creative He is, and how fabulously impractical He can be.

“You want those silly platform shoes with the tassels? Buy them, Daughter.” I heard Him say. “Delight in my good gift to you, which is completely unnecessary but brings you much joy. I am so abundant, I delight to send you the unnecessary.

That was good, Holy Spirit. Let me say what You said again:

“I am so abundant, I delight to send you the unnecessary.”

Yeah, those platform heels were unnecessary. But I’m rockin’ them as I write this post. And did I mention I happened to get them for a killer 90% off … even though I was willing by faith to pay the full price?

God blessed me with a sale that did extend my material resources—but only after I changed my attitude about who I am and what I deserve.

In the end, it’s all about mindset, isn’t it? My Daddy is the God of the Universe, King of Everything. I’m His dear daughter, His beloved Princess, and He delights to shower me with good gifts.

Every dime (or dirham) I have is a gift from Him, whether I have 1 in the bank or 1 million. Abundance is my attitude, no matter what my external circumstances look like. Elevation is my destiny, no matter whether my “faith shopping” leads me to the Dubai Mall or the local Discount Mart.

If my financial and shopping choices announce where I’m heading in life, I intend to always head UPWARD, in prayerful partnernship with Holy Spirit. Who, apparently, approves of my outlandish taste in shoes …

7 Things That Happen When You Get Emotionally Free of your Past

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Sometimes, on the healing journey, it can feel impossible to believe that you will ever be free of what happened to you. You’re a goal-oriented woman, and you love to have a target to aim your arrows toward, or a finish line to run for. But when it comes to your emotions and healing from your past, that target, that line, always seems to move.

Some days are okay. Some days are terrible. You’ve been told it will “get better,” but what does that even look like? How will you KNOW when you’ve reached a place of freedom?

At one level, freedom is a lifelong event, and it’s entirely personal. Each day, we can make choices that take us closer to God and closer to total surrender and joy in Him, which will naturally break off the bonds that have held us back. That exact path may look different for each woman, of course. But the process is the same.

However at another level, I can testify from my own experience: you WILL know, that you know, that you know, when you become emotionally free. You WILL start waking up each day with the significant conviction that you are no longer moved by what happened to you: that your life is blank slate now, not a museum to the past.

Believe me, it’s the best feeling in the world.

“But wait,” you say. “I feel like a one-woman triage unit every day of the week, and that still doesn’t give me a lot of help.”

I totally understand. I did too, when I first started this process. Here are seven (concrete) things that you can also expect to happen when you break away from the pain of the past and allow yourself to be totally renewed. If you haven’t experienced these, don’t feel bad. Rejoice that this is what you can look forward to, and keep walking forward on your healing process.

1) You have no desire anymore to talk about “what happened.”

The biggest hallmark of emotional bondage is the fact that your pain will always come spilling out of your mouth—not matter how hard you try “not to talk about it.” Ask your girlfriends; if they are honest women, they will tell you if every coffee or wine date devolves into your personal trauma session. When I was in the worst of my pain, I instinctively looked anywhere I could to get relief. (Anywhere, that is, except to God!)

Stopping yourself from speaking when you are dying inside is not what I’m talking about. When you are in the midst of your pain, you must speak about it long and freely to whomever will listen. But the MARK of having received full healing is when your past wounds no longer define your present reality.

When you get to the place where you are truly no longer moved by what happened to you, and you rest in total peace that God has transformed your pain for good, you won’t even remember to talk about it. People will bring it up, and you’ll be thinking, “Wait, what? Oh right, that thing …” You might even be startled when people bring it up, because your former pain no holds you in a vice-grip deep in your soul.

Please note: I am not referring to activism on behalf of abuse victims, giving your personal testimony, or other types of important “speaking out;” I am referring to the obsessive need to share your pain with others in order to somehow get healing “from” their attention. The attention can’t heal you; only God can!

2) When you think of the people who wronged you, you feel only compassion.

Yes, what happened to you was terrible. Perhaps it was a collection of “somethings” that happened and there’s a parade of perpetrators a mile long: at home, at church, at school, in the community, etc. You may struggle to believe it will ever be possible not to feel the rage and grief that rise up every time their name or face flashes before your mind. But believe me, beautiful woman, it is.

You will know God has healed you emotionally when you can remember these people in your life or walk past something that triggers their memory and yet feel nothing but compassion for them—because you recognize that their own tremendous pain drove them to what they inflicted on you.

3) Your IBS, upset stomach, digestive issues and anxiety heal themselves.

Please keep in mind I am not a doctor and cannot give you medical advice. However, I can offer the laywoman’s observations: in my own life, and those of other women I watch heal emotionally from the darkest, most painful events you can think of, I have witnessed physical symptoms completely break off of those women as they reach healing.

In my own life, when I was in the worst of my emotional pain and disempowerment, I struggled with stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, digestive issues and unstoppable anxiety. As I submitted to the healing process by opening up to God’s love, taking control of my thought patterns, shifting my diet, incorporating gentle yoga, praying daily, etc. I began to notice a drastic reduction in symptoms. Ultimately, this resulted in several miraculous healing experiences. Today, I am symptom-free … without the aid of doctors, surgery or expensive drugs.

4) You naturally stop self-medicating with TV, greasy food, social media or shopping.

Many women tell me they admire my choice to eat meat-light and wish they could do the same—but they say they can’t keep themselves from “cheating” with junk food. If staying consistent with healthier eating choices, managing your spending, limiting your TV and social media time is hard … then you can mark it down, you are still in emotional bondage.

Each of these “indulgences” is perfectly okay and enjoyable in moderation but can quickly become an excuse to get our good feelings from somewhere other than God and ourselves. Needing anything outside of ourselves, exactly who God made us to be, to feel good is by definition a form of bondage.

When you are emotionally free, you won’t “need” these things any more and/or can enjoy them in moderation. Or choose to give them up altogether and not feel deprived at all.

5) You reclaim “painful places” and create new memories in them.

How did I know I had fully healed from the pain of my divorce? When I sat for two hours in the very same coffee shop where I had my last private conversation with my ex-husband … and didn’t even remember that event for about two hours of sitting there. I was SO in the moment, enjoying my work, the coffee and the space, that I did not even recall that my marriage had essentially dissolved in that space. This was not an act of disrespect to my marriage or that conversation; it was a marker that I had finally move on to create new memories in that space.

That is what it truly means to reclaim a space for your own after trauma has marked it. When I came back to my hometown, Milwaukee, after nine months of traveling, I felt that my emotional “set point” had been reset, because I could walk into places that preciously were emotionally loaded from my marriage and divorce, and feel totally free to “own” them again and make new memories that aren’t mixed up with what happened before.

6) Other people’s poor choices no longer affect your joy.

This is a fairly simple one, but wow is it powerful! When you become emotionally free, you reach a place where you realize that YOU are the only person you are responsible for. Yes, you can pray for others. You can seek to be a positive influence. You can give of yourself. But at the end of the day, you are the ONLY person you can truly change.

When you relax into that space where you are no longer responsible for everyone else’s well-being, you can truly release your emotional bondage and your attachment to the idea that other people need to change … which is nothing more than a distraction from how YOU need to change.

7) You feel genuinely happy for no reason.

I know, dear heart. I know it’s hard to imagine this when you are in so much pain right now. But the day will come when all those “weights” on your heart will come lifting off, and you will float down the street, truly in love with you life, no matter what is going on in your material, lived experience.

This will be possible because you will know, that you know, that you know, that your Redeemer lives, and that you are being held by the Everlasting Arms, in the grip of the Everlasting God who never faints or grows weary. The ancient yogis spoke of BLISS, and I believe this is it: the ability to dance your way through life, amid sunshine and rain, because what is happening inside you is no longer contingent upon what is happening outside.

Reading this list and feeling like you could never scale this impossible mountain of emotional healing? Wondering how to let go of the weights that are holding you back — so you can enjoy these seven signs of emotional freedom?

More on that another day.

Telling Your Story Is Great, But Which One are You Telling?

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Apparently wanting to shoot your alarm clock (or your iPhone) when it goes off isn’t a 21st century experience? 😉 Photo taken at Museumsinsel (Museum Island) in Berlin.

It takes a great deal of courage to tell your story.

In my old life, before Nothing, the suitcase and cross-continental moves, I used to do a lot of coaching for women. Telling your story was something I preached and taught. And to a certain extent, I lived it.

But I did not understand then what I have come to see since: that telling the story you have lived is so much easier than telling the story you are living.

When we start out on this journey, with God toward greater intimacy and vulnerability with others, it feels like a “big thing” to finally talk about the parts of our story we may have kept hidden for years.

I personally found it revolutionary to speak of the night God spoke to me in Tuscany, of my healing journey with sexual dysfunction and many other aspects of my story. Receiving love from others and knowing that they still cared for me despite what I had been through was revolutionary for me, given where I had come from.

Yes, vulnerability comes in layers. And telling the story of the past is one layer. If we are not willing to start there, we will never find any other form of intimacy in our lives.

There’s a leap that must be taken, and the leap from the past is perhaps the most accessible.

But telling the story of the present is another kind of leap entirely.

Intimacy with others—the healthy kind, where we feel truly seen and known and loved in spite of what has happened in our lives, and also because of it—is a such a rare gift. And it prepares us to get braver, say more and let others see more of us, too.

Though sharing the story of our past is indeed one powerful form of intimacy, it still allows us to stay hidden. We can craft a narrative of transformation and change which may be genuinely true … but enables us somehow to still avoid speaking about the mess we are currently facing.

The story of our past transformation, if we are not careful, can become a beautiful image that unlocks for us admiration, not connection.

There is a powerful difference between those two which I cannot overstate. But it’s taken me years to recognize it.

Admiration is an external quality. People stand beside or around us and gaze at us, loving the qualities which we have carefully put in front of them for their review. It’s a good healthy start to something more in a relationship … but it’s also just that. Only the start.

If our relationships never get past admiration—and that’s very easy, by the way, for those of us “good girls” who know how to placate everyone by doing what they want and need—they will perpetually leave us unsatisfied. Because admiration does not require true understanding, or a sense of  empathy. It only requires awe.

Awe is so much easier to manufacture than understanding. Just ask any of the world’s dictators. Or celebrities…

Connection, on the other hand, is a much messier proposition. It requires a great deal more courage, because to speak of the mess that absorbed today, is a heck of a lot more challenging than to speak of the mess tha absorbed the last decade. Or even the last week.

As a writer, it’s easy for me to write about last week’s or last year’s or last decade’s mess. But to write about the tears I shed last night (yes, I actually did) over the love of my life I lost fifteen years ago? And the aching realization that I never …. really never …. got over that relationship?

And that at age 35, I have somehow only just realized I still desperately need the healing of Jesus for a huge mistake (which I could be so bold as to call it a “massive fuck-up”) that happened at age 20?

Dear God, save me from having to admit that to anyone.

And yet … I need to. And I did.

Because the story I lived is just my narrative. The story I am living now is my battleground. And wars are rarely won alone.

So maybe it’s time we stopped. Trying to win them alone, I mean.

Maybe it’s time that the story we lived becomes a platform for telling the story we are living. And that we recognize that all the wounds we drag ourselves back home with, and all the wounds that have never healed properly, whether from the actions of others or from all those “massive fuck-ups” of our own, are the very stuff of which real relationships are made.

When we refuse to share the story we are living, we cut ourselves off from having a warm hand in ours, and feeling the safety of a human hug, and the sweet relief of a voice that says, “Me too. I’m there also.”

At the end of the day, the only person who can deny us this sweet relief is … us.

The stories we choose to tell will determine how connected we feel. But perhaps the biggest mistake of all is not to realize that you can tell your story, and still stay completely hidden.

Maybe it’s time we came out from hiding behind our stories of triumph.

The unfinished, unedited next chapter is so much more powerful.

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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:

Dancing in the Footsteps of St. Hildegard, Part 1

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Names matter.

I’ve always loved asking people about their names, and what they mean. People, too, often ask me where the name for this blog–“That Fiery Dance”–came from.

For me, “That Fiery Dance” has many meanings. And I’m sure it may have some totally different for you.

First, for me it’s a nod to freedom. (Because what do I do when I’m totally free in body, mind and spirit? I dance!) It’s also a nod to the Holy Spirit. (Listening and following His Voice is a dance all its own.)

But mostly, it’s a nod to the woman and the prophet whose memory has inspired my own journey over the past few years: St. Hildegard of Bingen. Here’s her whole quote:

“I will tell you a secret about that divine light, about creative fire.
The more you nourish it in your heart, the more it radiates out from you.
The more you release it through your words, your deeds, of wisdom, of
loving compassion, the brighter the flame burns … and in that fiery dance,
you will find that you are, as I myself discovered, no longer aware of your years.”
St. Hildegard of Bingen

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Freedom transforms us.

It causes barriers to fall away. It lifts off our masks. It gives us the courage to get up off the sidelines and dance under all the lights where everyone can see us–and we don’t care anymore what they think.

Freedom gives us the courage to go after the dreams God has put in our hearts. To own our gifts. To stand up and let His power flow through us however He wills it to… and not to fear the outcome.

Above all, the freedom of God takes away the weight of years–literally–from our hearts, minds and bodies. It provides us a continual wellspring of Living Water within that renews and refreshes us.

No matter how dry the desert she dwells in, a truly Free Woman is young in spirit, and spry enough to dance, because she drinks from the water of eternal life.

St. Hildegard is, to me, the picture of that kind of Freedom.

Almost a year ago, I got to walk in her footsteps.

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I first learned about St. Hildegard’s life when I was researching medieval convents for a writing project about five years ago.

Even though she was born almost 900 years before me, I resonated immediately with her isolated upbringing, her love of books and learning, and the creative determination that defines her story.

In a time when more men than women made headlines, St. Hildegard became an advisor to kings and the pope, a preacher who toured Europe, the first recorded female to found a spiritual community for women in Europe and an icon of her generation.

Armed with the courage that marked her 70-some years, Hildegard became one of the first practitioners of modern medicine, a gifted herbalist who contributed treatments for women’s sexuality and health issues, a dietitian who saw the relationship between food and health in an era when many did not make that connection–and a composer whose music is still performed today.

She was also a prophet, theologian and writer who recorded original visions from God that are still not entirely understood today. And she became the spiritual mother of several convents full of women. Together, these women defied the church’s tradition for nuns to dress in plain habits and ugly veils  by donning red dresses, letting their hair down and decking themselves with pearls–because, as Hildegard insisted, they were the bride of Christ, and ought to look like it.

Along the way, Hildegard escaped being buried alive in an anchorite’s cell and almost losing her life because of her prophetic gifts. When she left that cell, after almost thirty years trapped inside it, she never looked back. Instead of letting her long confinement break her, she made it a stepping-stone to full freedom.

She also felt extremely misunderstood and, for long periods of her life, was shut away from most of society.

I was enchanted with Hildegard’s story right away. While I could not relate to her many achievements, I aspired to them. But I could connect with her experience of feeling isolated and misunderstood in my creative gifts. At that time in my life, God had not yet begun to speak to me. But as I read books about her and watched Vision, a recent German film based on St. Hildegard’s life, I wrestled with whether or not I thought this strange but magnetic woman really could have heard from God.

Foreshadowing doesn’t just happen in stories; it happens in real life. I believe God used these experiences, bumping up against St. Hildegard’s amazing story, to prepare me for the beginning of my own.

After my divorce, when God began speaking directly into my day-to-day life, St. Hildegard’s experiences didn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.  And One day, He spoke to me about her directly. When I was in Italy in September 2017, God told me to go to Germany that December, after the solstice, and retrace St. Hildegard’s steps through her home town.

And so it was, December 26, 2017, I found myself both homeless and penniless, riding a train from Frankfurt, Germany, to tiny Bingen am Rhein, Hildegard’s hometown.

I had just enough money for the hotel and food for the next three days. The German countryside was blurred with endless sheets of rain, and my soul felt just as grey. Here was the nadir of the year. I had been in Germany for almost four soul-crushing weeks. I was struggling with horrible digestive issues, not to mention a heart-wrenching lack of purpose. I had never felt less ready to make such a pilgrimage.

Though I had dreamed of visiting St. Hildegard for years, I never wanted to do it under such duress. Here I was fulfilling a life dream of following her footsteps, which had been a direct command from the Voice of God Himself. And yet I felt so beaten down. So unsure of what my own future held.

When the train pulled in to Bingen, I dragged my little red suitcase and a bag of food the 1/4 mile walk to the hotel I had booked. I remember having hot tea, prunes and a bath for my digestive condition, and going straight to bed.

I should have been excited about what was going to happen the next day. Yet I was feeling so unwell, I could hardly even think about it.

But then morning came: Wednesday, December 27, 2017.

I woke up to find that my digestive issue had been miraculously healed during the night. And I remembered one of those large facts in life that one tends to forget when they come associated with so much pain: December 27th, 2017, was also my 9th wedding anniversary.

Or would have been, anyway, had I not been divorced exactly 14 months to the day prior.

I laid there, listening to the rain on the hotel roof, remembering the hopeful young girl who had donned her wedding dress–still not entirely sure she wanted to be married, but putting on a brave face and doing what had to be done. A thousand thoughts and feelings flooded through my body at that recollection. And at all that had happened since.

Seven-and-a-half years of a life that had been aborted without warning. The roller-coaster ride that came after, including the first time of hearing God’s voice. Hildegard’s writings had carried me through that maelstrom of personal reinvention.

In many ways, I felt that, like Hildegard, I had found the key to my own cell and stepped out of it, as I began to hear the Voice of God and follow it.

And that obedience had led me here: broke, alone and empty-handed, to the womb of earth that had birthed my spiritual.

In that moment, I heard God say to me, “It’s your wedding day once again.”

I knew instantly that I had come to another kind of wedding: not the wedding of myself to someone else, but my own wedding to the vision He had given me. Coming to visit Hildegard wasn’t just another act of obedience. It was the beginning of a whole new life.

This date, which had been loaded with so much sorrow, was now reborn. December 27th will forever be “the day I visited Hildegard,” and I intend to celebrate it as such each year. Because why allow our past and our pain dictate what a day means?

Encouraged, I tramped across the rain-soaked cobblestones of Bingen, trying to imagine what it was like to be here in Hildegard’s day. Of course the town was much smaller then. And there was no railroad, nor any ferry across the Rhine River to Rudesheim, a town that also existed in Hildegard’s day, and is now dominated by a hilltop abbey of which she was abbess for many years.

I started my visit by stopping in at the permanent Hildegard installation at the Bingen City Museum, where I was able to see many artefacts I had only ever seen photos of: original paintings from Hildegard’s visions, letters she wrote to various kings and the Holy Roman Emperor, mockups of the now-destroyed monastery and various abbeys where she lived, and other documents.

Perhaps what I admire most about St. Hildegard was her willingness to be exactly who God had told her to be and speak exactly what God had told her to speak. This was her true freedom. Even as I read letter after letter where she delivered His words to popes and kings as honestly as possible … I was in awe of the authority she moved in.

“Even in a world that’s being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong,” Hildegard wrote. For many years, she herself gave testimony that fear had bound her and kept her caged in that tiny cell. But when she decided to let go of fear, she stepped into her voice and her power.

In her willingness to be exactly whom God made her, and be completely transparent about it, she made an impact that is still felt 900 years later.

In late morning, I walked up the side of a steep hill, through “downtown” Bingen, to the famous St. Rochus Chapel where a shrine stands to Hildegard’s memory.

Along the way I walked through a “garden of saints”–statues representing all of Jesus’ disciples, the Apostle Paul and others–and found my way through a muddy forest to the chapel road.

The door to St. Rochus was open, but no one was there. I stepped into a dank, chill medieval stone sanctuary, where a row of benches and a locked set of iron bars separated me from the priceless relics in the church itself. The famous icon of St. Hildegard was lit by single lightbulb on a timer; I had to keep flicking the switch to get a good look at her from afar, behind the bars that separated us.

But I was okay with the distance and the darkness, mostly. It gave me time to sit in silence, to contemplate all that had passed in the previous years and what coming to this place really meant. I felt pricked in my conscience that God was saying something me here, in this place.

Something, perhaps, about coming out of hiding myself.

Though I had not been locked up in a stone cell like Hildegard was for many early years of her life, I had been locked up in more invisible prisons than I could count. I had found the key when I had begun to find my voice, and (more importantly) the voice of God within me. But there was still a part of me that was silent and hiding.

Sitting here in the darkness, with St. Hildegard on the other side of the bars, I came face to face with that. I knew I wanted to be free to dance again–maybe for the first time in my life–and like St. Hildegard, help free other women to dance themselves.

After leaving St. Rochus, I visited the nearby nunnery, where I enjoyed a lunch cooked by the nuns from Hildegard’s original recipe, complete with wine from grapes grown on the property.

Side note: I’m in love with Dornfelder wines now, but I’ve never been able to find them in the U.S. (And good luck finding any particular kind of wine in Dubai.)

As I enjoyed this meal, I thought about St. Hildegard’s work as a healer. I myself had seen first-hand how my body had reacted to the tremendous sadness and stress I underwent during my divorce. I had enjoyed good health up to that point but found myself at the . mercy of terrible digestive issues that continued up to this day.

Every aspect of the meal I was eat was designed to heal the body. Though St. Hildegard had incomplete medical information, and not all of her medieval ideas were medically factual, she had indeed made a lot of sound conclusions. And she understood the root cause of such issues: the connection between mind, spirit and body.

What happens in the body affects the mind and the heart. And Hildegard had not been afraid to treat them together.

I have seen in my own journey how working with these three elements together brought me incredible freedom. And I want to pass that freedom on.

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As I completed my first day in Bingen, I felt that same tug in my heart that had drawn me to the city in the first place from more than 5000 miles away.

It was the tug to step into a life bigger, more courageous and more authentic than anything I had previously lived.

And just as it had begun for St Hildegard with owning her voice, her gifts and the visions God had given her … I knew it would begin there for me. This blog is the beginning of that journey. It has now been almost a year since I walked with St. Hildegard in Bingen … and God has brought me to settle in a new country and given me an entirely new life.

But have I truly stepped into my voice and my gifts? Have I really acknowledged who I am, and owned it to the whole world, regardless of what anyone thinks?

That’s a level of transparency hardly any of us reach. But this transparency is exactly the reason Hildegard’s life shines so brightly almost 900 years later.

Today, I resonate with St. Hildegard’s story more than ever. I understand now that my first attraction to her story was really God’s way of drawing me deeper toward my own calling. Like her, I hear from Him. Like her, I write down what He says–though I often am too afraid to share it. When people ask me for advice, I tell them exactly what I heard God saying to me about their situation.

I have stories to write, visions to paint, dreams to turn into dance. Not everything I have to say will be popular, or even appreciated. And I hope my life can shine brightly for some other woman who needs hope that God can transform her.

You can’t make an impact when you are sitting in silence behind prison bars. And I can’t make an impact while I’m silent, either.

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Like St. Hildegard, I found the key to my prison, and it’s time I leave it behind–and don’t look back.

The last almost three years were my first lessons in what it’s like to live without prison walls and without limits. What remains now is for me to pick up my pen, open my mouth, step into the work God has given me as His daughter and His prophet.

Because it is not in silence that we reclaim our lives. It is only in transparency can the light radiate out from us. It is only in the midst of THAT FIERY DANCE with God’s Holy Spirit and with the life that He has given us do we find that we are no longer aware of our years.

I’ve told you parts of the story but I haven’t told you the whole story. That begins here, today, in this space dedicated to speaking freely.

“I will tell you a secret about that divine light, about creative fire,” St. Hildegard once wrote. “The more you nourish it in your heart, the more it radiates out from you. The more you release it through your words, your deeds, of wisdom, of  loving compassion, the brighter the flame burns … and in that fiery dance, you will find that you are, as I myself discovered, no longer aware of your years.”  

May this blog be my sacrifice of praise and my platform of transparency.

It’s time to dance.

Want to reach me directly? Send me a message!

What Really Happens When You Buzz Your Hair in the Middle of a Nebraska Blizzard

On Saturday, the 14th of April 2018, I buzzed off all of my hair. 

My journey toward this moment began more than a decade ago, in Tibet, where I was frustrated by the intermittent showers I could get in that harsh, wild landscape. Sometimes a week went by between real showers, and my greasy hair was suffering. I told some other people in my travel group that I “just wanted to buzz it off.” They all thought it was a great idea, a smart solution, but ultimately I chickened out. 

Why? 

Simple.

I was afraid of what other people would think. 

Fast-forward a decade and a half. I had just come out of a rich, full romantic relationship that did not last as long as I had hoped it would. But in that breakup, God gave me the tremendous gift of revealing to me, through my now ex-boyfriend’s wise observations, all the ways in which I was not honest on my exterior about who I really inside.

I sat with his words and recognized the truth in tI knew I needed to make certain changes to be more authentic. And I had a feeling my hair was one of those changes. 

My friend Snowe and I started praying about what I should do. And you know what God said? 

His response was to show me an image of myself, vowing to buzz my hair back in Tibet. 

I knew immediately that the meaning was clear: this actually was the real me. But my fear had gotten in the way, and it was time to let that fear go. After all, it was fear that had kept me from fully being the real me in my dating relationship, which was a large shared of my contribution to its ultimate demise. 

I had learned my lesson. There was no going back. 

I promised God I would buzz it all off as soon as I got to Colorado, where I was going to visit a friend. 

God has a sense of humor, of course. 

I had a gut feeling that He wanted me to buzz my hair on 4/14, which back home in Milwaukee is known as “Milwaukee Day,” since our primary area code is 414. But as it turned out, I never made it to Colorado for 4/14. Instead, I got stuck in the biggest, nastiest blizzard I have ever witnessed. On 4/14 I was stuck in a roadside hotel in tiny Paxton, NE.

After paying for the unexpected hotel bill, I had $14 left to my name. (Ironic, no? $14 on 4/14? God has such a sense of humor!) But I was undaunted. I went to the hotel clerk and asked who in town could buzz my hair for $14. Keep in mind this was the day after a mammoth blizzard, when the I-80 highway was still completely shut down from Lincoln, NE, to the Colorado border!

He sent me into town to find the only beauty parlor, which was located in a house. Long story short, I almost missed the stylist, but by some miracle, she actually did come in to work that day. She buzzed my hair for $10 and I gave her the remaining $4 in tip. 

I walked out the door feeling completely liberated of every fear I have ever had about “looking good” in order to be accepted by others. 

The funny thing is, too, that the response of other people has been far different from what I anticipated. I thought I might get shunned, or get a lot of negative comments from people. (After all, where I come from in Milwaukee, you don’t see a lot of shave-headed women running around like you might in some more fashion-forward towns.) 

But I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Shaving my head has shown me who my true friends are. And I discovered, in fact, that more people were ready to applaud me for revealing the Real Me than were ready to ridicule me. 

People come up to me all the time now and ask about why I shaved my head. Women tell me they wish they had “that much courage,” and I encourage them to step out and do what their heart is leading them to. 

Perhaps I have been most surprised by the number of men who come up to me in stores or restaurants and compliment my hair—not in an uncomfortable or suggestive way, but with an energy of genuine appreciation for someone choosing to be different. 

People tell me all the time that my buzzed hair looks good on me, but here’s the dirty little secret about that: 

I had no idea if it were going to look good, or not, when I decided to do it. 

I simply went with God’s leading, and with the absolute conviction that I NEVER wanted to get into a relationship again where someone was unclear about who I really am. 

My buzzed head said “rebel.” It says, “free spirit.” It says, “artist.” Funnily enough, more cool people who also fit that description are showing up in my world every week now. 

Why? 

I think it’s because I chose to step out first, in the middle of a blizzard, when I didn’t know what the outcome would be. Following what God has for us, and creating the life He has given us a vision for, is all about faith. 

Sometimes you gotta take a pair of clippers to your head before you can really see who you are under all the layers of social conditioning, people-pleasing and unconscious choices you have been making all your life. 

Let it all fall away, and find out who you were meant to be.