Merry Christmas

It is the week of Christmas and I find myself filled with joy and anticipation; yet I have also found myself in a lot of conversations where people are stressed because of how this one day seems to magnify all that is unsettled. Frayed families, unraveling friendships, broken hearts, unfulfilled expectations, absence of loved ones – each reveal the pain that this season can also uncover…there is a tension inside of me to make space for both. What does it mean to hold both, to not fall so deeply into one that we cannot conceive or hold the other?

If I glance back to the first Christmas, 2,000 years ago, I have to admit the part of Mary that is rarely portrayed is showing the stress factors that her “yes” brought into her life. We turn instead to focus on the mixture of joy and excitement that obviously had to be there, after all she was carrying baby Jesus. But something within me tells me that she, like everyone else in the world, had a choice to make every step of the way to carry both joy and sorrow, stress and freedom. These choices don’t come magically, they are often day by day, moment by moment, yet they each build one upon the other.

So this morning I woke to a sense that THIS Christmas is one that I will choose to notice both the joy and the stress within me and within others. I will introduce these two strangers to each other and acknowledge that I see them both, but that they are going to have to hang out together at times. In fact this reminded me of a prayer that I turn to often by John O’Donohue in his book, To Bless the Space Between Us:

“May my mind come alive today

To the invisible geography

Sometimes you just need to make a snow angel

That invites me to new frontiers,

To break the dead shell of yesterdays,

To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today

To live the life that I would love,

To postpone my dream no longer

But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.”

I pray that as you experience Christmas you will notice what it is that arises within you and dare to be present to who you are and how God has designed you. Stress left alone will overwhelm us, but if engage with our Creator, we just may find that all the stress continues to point us towards something more.

Merry Christmas to all.

Book in Print

Had a call this morning from the publishing house, that Holy Sexuality Beginning with Questions is now at the printers. After a month of unexpected set-backs I experienced three random emotions simultaneously:

JOY….

RELIEF…

TERROR…

I think all three of these are appropriate, but it is their interchange that I find interesting. The compulsion to jump with joy can be dangerous when terror makes one want to flee – all at the same moment – potentially I could physically injure myself.

So I am going to remind myself these next seven days, as I wait to receive the first printed copy, to honor the extremes and allow them to tutor me. To pause at the threshold, “to be comfortable with uncertainty today requires courage.”

Humbled by all the experiences that have ushered this moment present. I want the emotions to recognize that I choose to frolic within gratitude as I hold them.

Will let you know when it is in stock and available for purchase.

Could make for some great  Christmas dinner conversations…

 

 

 

Sex is Good

Sex feels good!

The physicalness of sex is expressed in movies, books and internet – displayed as a powerful force pulling us toward another. Is IT (the sexual force) more than physical? Does the “sexual tension” of wanting to respond to another have something to teach us about who we are?

The chemicals in our brain that respond to physical attraction are real and reveal the interweaving engagement of mind/body.  It is the force of this chemical attraction that challenges each of us to engage with God’s design in an active and informed way.

Genesis 1:26 states that humankind is made in the image of God and specifically calls us to, “…rule over…every creeping thing that creeps on earth.” God’s view of us as men and women, is that we are capable of ruling the earth and all that is within it. We have been given an authority and are designed to do this. Might God also have given us the capacity to wrestle with our own sexual energy? How would God want us to acknowledge both the dangers and power of what is created within us?

I once saw a one-armed tiger tamer masterfully display his “rule over” a 300 pound beast as he guided him to perform exercises. Curious how he had lost his arm, he revealed it was his loss of focus in ruling the beast that resulted in the lion attacking and mauling him.

To deny the engagement of mind/body in our sexuality is to deny the power of that which “creeps on earth” and abdicate our God-given authority to rule. It is when our focus is turned from the Creator that the “created” consumes us.

What might the engagement have to teach us?

Happy Mornings

One of the most beautiful things about sleep is that it refreshes and renews the body. Like high octane fuel for a race car, sleep provides the fuel of energy to our bodies by allowing blood to course freely in and through every part of our body without restrictions of clothes, posture or tension.

The penis is packed with blood vessels and it is common for men to wake with an erection, if they are experiencing healthy blood flow throughout the rest of their body. This does not mean that they woke thinking about sex, yet from a place of relaxation and rest they “wake” and become aware of their body.

I have found it common that both men and women misunderstand this natural part of the male anatomy and it can often lead to shame. There is a beauty in recognizing that part of how men’s physical health is observed is through how they have an erection. One of the leading causes of erectile dysfunction is stress and is something that men need to pay attention to and work with a doctor, if it persists.

Designed by God’s hand, and from within the truest essence of our identity, this strong and gentle reminder can free us to “see with new eyes” the wonder of the male body.

The Brain In Orgasm

Recently at a conference I was commenting on the scientific differences that have been recorded through PET scans on men/women’s brain during orgasm. While there is still much to study in this area, the overall findings surprise the scientist in that the exact opposite areas of the male/female brain light up during an orgasm.

The major area of a woman’s brain that becomes activated is the cerebellum. One of the most surprising elements was  the overall deactivation in the other regions of the brain like the amygdala which process emotions.

For men there is increased activation in the overall brain including the amygdala, but a deactivation in the cerebellum.

Gert Holstege of the University of Groningen findings are a fascinating initial look into some of the intricate ways that the male/female brain functions during this very intimate and vulnerable act of orgasm.

It continues to remind me that our Creator’s creativity is limitless and literally beyond definition.

Stretch Marks…

When my children were small and asked about the stretch marks on my belly, I would take their little fingers and tracing the lines speak of the evidence pregnancy left on my body. Each one knew the specific lines their precious growth brought to my body. The scars of remembrance belonged to us both. Each one would eventually ask the same question, “Does it still hurt, mommy?”

Funny I don’t remember the stretch marks hurting when they appeared, but I do remember the pressure of the skin stretching and my wondering if my body could expand any more.

As my children have grown, I find that the ‘stretch marks’ on my heart begin with a similar pressure…something being expanded, a mystery an aching sensation that asks, “What is growing inside?”

I woke this morning to one of many days that will leave yet another ‘stretch mark’  both of our daughters now live halfway around the world. Both are carving out their lives–new experiences, new relationships… the choice before me is can I accept and honor what is growing within? That being their mother is about not clutching and hanging on, but letting go, yet again, and allowing this new ‘stertch mark’ upon my heart…

This is not a new vulnerability nor a new sensation for me to experience, as a mother, it is felt each time I release their small grasp and encourage them to live facing the future. Believe it or not God did not created me as a mother – I was created as a woman, I became a mother. It is this “letting go” that continues to tutor me in how to lean into a love that is molding all of our hearts.

This slow band-aid ripping ache, reveals a vulnerable heart that feels a bit like pizza dough being thrown into the air…and needing to be caught. So with purpose I choose to engage with both the joy and grief of this season, knowing that both are precious gifts that my children continue to give me AND that as I grow my mother’s heart continues to be stretched and formed in new ways.  I just want the hands that are flipping this heart in the air to be God’s….

Miles cannot separate hearts that are interwoven...

 

Dinner with Sanctuary

Went to dinner last night with three beautiful women. We talked of life and the things that are current challenges we face. I left feeling gratitude for the ability to find words that can free the things that ache within us to be discovered and defined.

We each held our own stories in a place of valuing where God is leading us, but each not knowing what that fully means.

Can we live passionately, without knowing fully the destination we will arrive at?

Can we hold dreams, of what we long for, in a way that they do not choke us?

Can we share the words of each other, honoring the space needed to “explore” their meanings?

Dinner was amazing and artistic, creatively feeding our senses and passion for beauty. The words crafted their own beauty, making spaces within that are held for future moments that will continue to reveal more as we engage with one another and hold the sacred questions we each uniquely carry of our own season in life.

The company, the words and the questions fulfilled the restaurant’s name Sanctuary.

Design vs. Defined

Sitting talking with a friend about the unique qualities of each individual and the beauty of how God designed vs. defined people. There are so many ways that culture would seek to define us as having one way of showing beauty, but if we listen to this voice we miss out on the possibilities of created beauty and how that beauty reflects and has the potential to call forth a unique aspect of the beauty of God.

All we have to do is look at nature and all the creativity that calls us to remember that beauty is more than something defined, it is completely designed and something that we are meant to discover.

Personalities

– Sallie Adams –

The leaves in the air, collect in conversation
like tissue-skinned executives in a steam-bath
Carrying their weight to lament.
Birds hawk, and the dry ground
Is scalier than their alienated notes soaring
Their nest in the jem-colored maples.
In the autumn everything is suppressed.
Even the sun’s yellow appearance.
Field-corn turns to pith
And the bug-heaped haystacks are reduced to slums;
Reminding us all identities are contradictions in
The seasonal world the foreign world where empathy is the only tourist
Who can temper a number of magnanimous forces can honor each for its own uniqueness.

 

Thank you Sallie…your words help me to remember to look for beauty in every face I see.

Breathing In And Out

I held a tiny baby, warm and innocent in my arms. It was mesmerizing to look into these fresh clear eyes. Only hours before, I was working with a man and woman who no longer love each other, their love for each other, “…has expired and dried up,” they are drowning in how life has chiseled away at their love and can barely breath the same air in the room together.

Holding this little guy I wonder what kind of world he is entering where culture has defined love as a feeling that has a mysterious, undefinable expiration date? How has the word commitment become an option like delete on the computer? I want to protect him, I want to promise him something more that he can hope for and yet looking into these fresh eyes, I realize he holds a purer picture of love – one day you are breathing underwater and the next your lungs jump start you into breathing in and breathing out. The very basis for love is trust.

It would be lovely to have these two random worlds collide, letting this little gift of life tutor this couple in remembering what love looks like before it is fractured and chiseled by life. Could he teach them how to breath in and breath out, without holding all the pain in life so close that it chokes them?

As I hold both ends of the spectrum, there is a longing for words and images that will invite both young and old, to taste of the expansive love of God that is calling us all to remember – love is a choice, more than a feeling and yes sometimes the only clear picture is to close our eyes and remember that we all began by breathing underwater – impossible, but real.

Maybe that is part of why Jesus said, “You are absolutely right, take if from me, Unless a person is born from above, it is not possible to see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (Message)

 

 

 

 

About Holy Sexuality

SEXUALITY IS A SUBJECT THAT IS EASILY, AND OFTEN, DISTORTED.

Many outlets bombard us with the physical and chemical realities of passion, and call it sexuality—overlooking any influence our minds and souls may have. Fairytale endings entice us to dream that great sex is sustained by emotional attachment or hearts a-flutter. And some religious communities reduce sex to a mechanical act of procreation, chastely downplaying the physical pleasure that is part of its original design.

RECLAIMING THE TRUTH OF WHO WE ARE.

The truth is, we are more than just bodies spontaneously reacting to physical and emotional urges, and we are more than minds merely choosing to reproduce. We are vibrant beings designed in the wild and wonderful image of a loving creator.

WE ARE CREATED FOR SEX, AND SEX IS CREATED FOR US.

Sexuality is a part of our very being, and it impacts every relationship we have, including our relationship with God. When we acknowledge that sex is not separate or hidden from God—that it is actually a mysterious and sacred gift to us—it can become a more beautiful and authentic part of our lives. And when we invite God into our struggles, our sexuality can become a powerful place of personal transformation.

WHERE SEXUALITY CAN TAKE US.

It’s no secret that sex is both a beautiful and dangerous part of our physical being. It can bring us to the heights of pleasure and to the depths of pain—and, when it is reduced to a mere physical act, it can leave us almost numb, far from the exquisite fulfillment that holy sexuality was designed to provide.

Truessence invites you into a divine partnership between you and your creator, as you venture beyond your limited views of sexuality and into new expanses of possibility. True joy and deep riches await.