CHRIST IS IN EVERY STEP

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I don’t think that we can strive our way to God. I think we can only rest and trust our way to him. In a culture that is obsessed with work, doing, achieving and debating, it seems counterintuitive to rest and trust, to be still, to step away from everything. But to live a contemplative, God-centered life, it is so needed.

This doesn’t mean that we should never do anything. What it does mean is that from this resting and trust, there comes a sense of peace that permeates everything else we do. Washing the dishes becomes meditative insofar as one approaches it as such. It isn’t just a chore to be hurried through. It is an act of awareness of divine Presence in the common and ordinary things. In those acts, one realizes that there are no ordinary moments, no ordinary things. All of life is extraordinary and drenched through with the marvelous.

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The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh who was a good friend and ally of Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote a book called Peace is Every Step, which is full of lovely, calming thoughts. My spin on the title is that Christ is in every step and that is how there can be peace in every step. Not only in the sense of being accompanied, but in the sense of the wonder that surrounds us if we are attentive to it. Everywhere, everywhere we look, there is something to behold if we would only stop running, striving and overcommitting long enough to notice.

May he be in your every step…

Monique

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ON PERSISTENT PRAYER & NEVER BEING ALONE-PODCAST

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Hi friends…

Sunday before last was my birthday and I thought the best way for me to celebrate it and give thanks for my life would be to put myself in a position for God to speak through me. So since our pastor is on vacation and we needed someone to fill in to prepare and share a sermon, I said, “Hey, I’ll do it.”

I’m seeing more and more why Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet,” and I’ve realized I may never be able to speak to a group of people about God without crying. I think I’m okay with that. It’s just hard to talk through tears is all.

Someone asked me afterwards what made me start crying. I later thought, “Well, that’s a pretty intimate question!” At the time, I wasn’t sure how to answer, but after thinking about it more, I realized it’s partly because when I look out into the faces of people, I can see in their eyes the pain they are carrying. For some, it may not be on a conscious level. For others, it’s very much on the surface. In any case, be it a blessing or something else, I’ve always been able to pick up on things going on beneath the surface when I walk into a room. It can be overwhelming at times, but it is a gift in that it gives me the ability to tune into what people are not saying and be sensitive to it. I suppose this is part of what made me cry.

Also because as I prepared this message, I thought mostly of my dear brother and his affliction, so he too was there in that sea of faces even if I couldn’t see him with my eyes.

I know people who have suffered, or are currently suffering–people I care deeply about–who think that God has abandoned them. And I want so much for them to know that it’s not true. Despite all outward appearances, he has not abandoned them. Or if you’re reading this, he has not abandoned you. Your spouse may have, your friends may have, your family may have, but God has not and it is a tragedy to confuse the two.

As for me, I can attest that it is God, and God alone, who has patiently carried me through every darkness, every pain and every trial and never left me. And that is perhaps why I cry when I speak about him. Because I so much want others to be free from suffering and just as much, I want them to know that when they are suffering, God is there suffering with them.

I hope this message will encourage you. Feel free to share with anyone you think might need to hear it.

To schedule an appointment for life coaching or spiritual guidance, please click this link.

Blessings,
Monique

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My Story of Healing from Eating Disorders (Podcast)

This will be part 1 of my story because there has been healing in so many areas of my life that each would require a separate talk. So I’m sure there will be more parts that I share on this topic in the future. But for now, I wanted to post the story I shared at church here in Berlin recently and my hope, as always, is that something I said might give hope and encouragement to someone listening.

There were moments of technical difficulty during my sharing…and a bit of nervousness…and a bit of crying. Our stories can be messy, so it’s no surprise that the telling of them can be too.

Click here to hear it.

It tells a bit about how I went from this:

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To this:

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I hope that if you, or someone you know, struggles with an eating disorder, or any kind of self-destructive behavior, that hearing my story will help you to not give up and to keep praying, keep hoping and keep knowing that God loves you no matter what’s going on and that healing and good things are possible.

Your life matters and you are needed here on this planet.

Blessings & peace,

Monique

p.s. If you need coaching and/or spiritual guidance, please click here to schedule an appointment for an introductory call with me.

 

 

Being Turned into Gentleness

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I’ve been reading Streams in the Desert for over 20 years and still, the readings are as fresh each time as if it was the first time. I’ve met others through the years that have attested to a similar experience.

Here’s the reading from today. I’m sure some will identify.

“So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness, and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self, which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.

There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction…and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God.

But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from an empty tomb.”                       —G. D. W.

 

If you desire to deepen your spiritual and/or creative life, please feel free to schedule a 30 minute discovery coaching call by clicking here.

Blessings,

Monique

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A BEAUTIFUL QUOTE BY FLAUBERT

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Hi friends…

Today I just wanted to share with you a beautiful passage I re-read today when I pulled my copy of Gustave Flaubert’s novella A Simple Heart off the shelf for no particular reason, except to see how many pages his novella has. I was struck again by the beauty of these words. I hope it will bless you too…

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“…Then she wept at the story of the Passion. Why had they crucified Him when He loved the children, fed the multitudes, healed the blind, and had willed, in His meekness, to be born among the poor, on the dungheap of a stable? The sowings, harvests, wine-presses, all the familiar things the Gospel speaks of, were a part of her life. They had been made holy by God’s passing; and she loved the lambs more tenderly for her love of the Lamb, and the doves because of the Holy Ghost.

She found it hard to imagine Him in person for He was not merely a bird, but a flame as well, and a breath at other times. It may be His light she thought, which flits at night about the edge of the marshes, His breathing which drives on the clouds, His voice which gives harmony to the bells; and she would sit rapt in adoration, enjoying the cool walls and quiet of the church.”

…Gustave Flaubert

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** Image credits: all artwork by Christian Schloe

 

 

 

A DEEPER COMPASSION: ENTERING THE TRANSGENDER DISCUSSION

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Now that Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has blown the door wide open on the transgender discussion, and having witnessed the horrors of judgmentalism being thrown in that general direction, it’s my turn to enter the conversation. I’m not entering the discussion to debate the moral implications of a person being transgender. I’m not entering it to take sides either way. The reason I am entering it is a bit more complex.

First, I’d like to point out that both the ultra conservatives who are screaming through their keyboards about sin and repentance and those, such as psychologists on the other side who push for sexual reassignment surgery on those who are questioning their gender, seem to be missing something. And that something is a whole demographic of people who are not wanting breasts in place of a flat chest or vice versa. They are simply confused—confused about why they want to dress like a woman if they’re a man or why they have so many male tendencies and characteristics if they’re a woman.

There are many transvestites who have no desire to change their anatomy. They just like to wear the clothes of the opposite sex. George Sand, the French writer who was romantically involved with Chopin and a host of other men, dressed in suits and men’s clothes. “George” was a woman, by the way, but had to use a pseudonym because female writers weren’t taken seriously in her day. In her day, dressing like a man was controversial. Now women are expected to wear men’s clothes and “power suits” in certain office settings, especially in managerial roles. Now it’s the norm. But George Sand wasn’t confused and wanting to be a man. She just decided she liked men’s clothes and that they were cheaper and that was the end of it. Nowadays, in Western cultures especially, women are so used to wearing men’s clothes that they don’t give it a second thought.

Another thing that needs clarification and is often misconstrued by ill-informed people is: just because a person likes to cross-dress or identifies as a transvestite, it has nothing to do with their sexual orientation. There are many transvestites (some famous ones) who are happily married to the opposite sex. Some are homosexual. Some are not. But being transgender does not automatically mean someone is gay.

I digress.

Both sides of the debate seem to have silenced, or ignored, this whole other group of people—those who are gender dysphoric. The conservatives have silenced them with one kind of shame. The liberals have silenced them with another kind. It is as if, on the liberal side, there is an assumption made that those with gender dysphoria need or want a movement to speak for them. Many with gender dysphoria don’t want or need that. They just want to figure themselves out without drawing any more attention to themselves than they already do for their perceived awkwardness and eccentricity. What they want is acceptance, and most often the acceptance they are most in need of is self-acceptance. And that is a deep and lifelong work for any human being. But it isn’t helped by exclusion and ridicule.

The main reason I am writing this, and the reason I can write about this, is because someone I know and care about very deeply struggles with just that—gender confusion. To protect this person’s anonymity, I won’t say whether the person is male or female or who they are. But I will say that I have seen firsthand the pain, confusion and mental torment this person lives with on a daily basis. They are not wanting to join the LGBT movement. They just want to have peace in their mind and heart about who they are. Lest someone from the Church start with the “They just need to seek God,” thing—they do. But they’re still confused. Lest the LGBT crowd say, “They just need to embrace their sexuality and examine whether they might need reassignment surgery.” Please. They’ve been down that road and had the discussion with psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. It doesn’t go away. And no, they don’t want to “reassign.”

So instead of entering into a debate about what’s up with Caitlyn Jenner and why she looks better in a tight dress than most women, I would rather open up a different kind of conversation, one that reaches out to those who are thoroughly confused as to who they are, including what gender to identify with. I want to open up to both sides—the conservatives and the LGBT community—an invitation to a deeper compassion, a compassion that looks not just at those getting the headlines, not at the street marches and movements, but toward individual people who may be living through their own private hell while the two sides of the debate waste time throwing mud at each other.

Consider this: the transgender community has an attempted suicide rate of 40%.

Now for just a few moments, please take yourself out of whichever side of self-righteousness you are on, and imagine living just one day tormented with a confusion so great that it makes you want to take your own life. Stay with that image for a bit and if it starts to bring you to tears, stay there a little longer. Then imagine that this is what every single day is like, hour after hour, minute after minute, for a person with gender dysphoria. And often, with that confusion goes a lot of dissociating from a possibly abusive and brutal past—sometimes physical and sexual abuse, and more often than not, psychological abuse.

There is a way other than the “live and let live” mentality or the “repent” mentality. That way is compassion. That way is connection. That way provides a safe space for someone to wrestle with their confusion in an atmosphere of love. Please: create a space of welcome, of acceptance, of belonging, because that is what all of us need most. And someone’s life could depend on it.

– MVA

* Image credit: Gustav Klimt, Bronze Autumn