November 24, 2009

Little baby Hope

Posted in waiting at 9:04 am by LadySophie

I am by nature a hard driving, fast moving, ambitious person. I do not wait well. But I find that sometimes it has been the only path ahead of me. I make a list and want to accomplish everything on it…in one day. So far, my wedding planning is moving at that pace. My dissertation checklist is not moving quite as fast though.

If I move too fast, then I miss so much around me. Waiting forces my mind to slow down, my eyes to focus on the world and other people. If I had my way, I would have been married at age 18. I thought I was ready and felt so impatient in the waiting. I tried hard to “make it happen” along the way but I couldn’t. As I look back at the last ten years of waiting in particular, I would not trade a minute of what I have experienced. I was dating a guy that seemed like a good match and was just ready to be done dating. I resigned myself to being with him and felt hope die inside me.

As long as we are waiting, hope is alive. Hope for something we desire, we dream of. When I settle, I feel a part of my soul being silenced. How different it is now that what I hoped for has come. I feel an even greater sense of hope for the future. My soul is expanding and not shrinking.

My friend says you cannot kill hope. It keeps rising to the surface. Somehow, hope grew in the waiting – like an expectant mother feeling her baby growing inside.

November 11, 2009

Different is Good

Posted in interfaith experiences, Relationships at 1:45 am by LadySophie

Is there anything more difficult than meshing two differing worldviews? I want to approach our weekly topic from a different direction. Can you be sincere, heart friends with someone who differs with you in deep, meaningful ways? They are liberal and you are conservative. Can you be close friends with someone who has a core religious belief that is directly in contrast to your own? They believe in God and you do not. I always have people in my circles that are quite different from who I am. I love the diversity and the richness of it all.

This romantic relationship in my life has helped me think about meshing two different lives. We are both used to being single and have some deep rooted ideas about how things “should” be done. He is used to being a parent, I am not. He is about to start professional school, I am just finishing. He is Filipino, I am Texan/ Californian. He is a careful saver of money, I am a skilled spender of money. We are talking about merging our lives and it is easy to focus on differences.

The same is true for interfaith conversations. Do we focus on similarities or differences?

He loves to learn and so do I. He keeps his faith at the center of his life and so do I. We have no idea where our lives are headed, but that doesn’t seem to bother either one of us too much. We keep circling back to those things and finding common ground.

Can we apply the same strategy to interfaith relationships? To friendships with political opposites? I think we can. I have some kind of tireless hope that people can overcome differences and arrive at sincere, meaningful relationships. 101_0109

October 27, 2009

9 Months Later…

Posted in birthing, mothering, Parent, Relationships tagged , , at 5:04 am by LadySophie

As a 34 year old woman, I realized recently that my “clock is ticking” for birthing children. I have always liked kids and imagined I would have my own. I do not have that burning desire that I see in so many of my friends – the deep need to be a mom. I always figured that I could adopt if I marry too late. Should I feel so ambivalent about something so important?

The closest experience I have had with my own children is the birth of my nieces. They are twin girls (one has my name!) and they are about to turn 8. I remember the night they were born. I was driving to Dallas for a conference when I got the call. I diverged from my path and drove to Austin instead. After a few hours and surgery, we had twin girls. Right then and there – my life changed.

Driving on to Dallas later, I knew that my life would be worthwhile if I could influence and be a part of their lives. No other great thing in life would matter, as long as I could have that role in their lives. I wept the whole way to Dallas. I love them with a passion and would do anything for them. If they just call me Tia – they can have almost anything they ask.

I have done lots of birthing in ministry. An Asian youth camp grew from 100 to 300 in four years. Timid middle school students became capable leaders as a result of concentrated effort and time. Right now, I am birthing a dissertation. I have a 9-month plan on my wall – ironic it would be exactly 9 months.

I am serious about a man with a 9 year old son. What would it look like for me to be a step-mom? It seems like the perfect plan for this ambivalent woman. I don’t think I have missed the boat. I am not worried about the “clock”. What I have learned is that there are so many people in need of love and I have it to give. That will be my impact. That will be the result of my life’s work – the love I have to give.

October 13, 2009

Tales from real life

Posted in God, images of God, names of God at 7:21 am by LadySophie

I cannot count the images of God in my life. Since the time I became a Christian at age 7, God has been personal and real. Images have changed depending on what has happened along the way.

God was my hope when…

I broke off my engagement

I thought my life was over

I saw no way out of a horrible work environment

Someone I love died

I gave up on hope

This I know…no matter what the image, God was there…

Present  Loving   Compassionate   Provider   Sustainer    Light    Peace  Hope    Comfort    Grace    Friend   Refuge   Savior   Spirit   Intimate   Transformer    Faithful   Creator   Life-giver

As I come to know this God more intimately, I learn about who I am. I learn about how much of God there is to know. God is not male or female for me. For all the names of God in the Bible, why should I only pray to “Father” God? What about “Keeper of the Stars” or “Creator of Light”?  I know that this God is the source of my life and the hope for my future.

September 29, 2009

Trouble with a capital “T”

Posted in Relationships, sexuality at 8:52 am by LadySophie

Our topic this week is body image, relationships and something else…all I can think about these days is my new relationship. I had to remind myself that I am still a PhD student yesterday – seems to slip my mind. The  newness and intensity of those first dates is something worth focusing on. I had just declared to a friend that I was “done with relationships, done with men” and then I met one hot Asian boy the next day. Trouble.

I have had a lot of experience with singleness. I have even taught workshops on it – yikes. People were frustrated that I didn’t have a lot of answers for them. I have been a Christian single, devoted to waiting until marriage for sex. That adds a whole new layer to the mix. I have had significant relationships and even been engaged. But mostly, life is pretty great as a single. I make my own decisions, I choose how I spend my time and money, I have lots of time for my girlfriends. I am the strong, independent woman – because how else would I be?

So this new…thing…is shaking up my world a little. There are things that I have looked for before and not really found. But then I met him. I am not saying this is IT or that he is the mystical ONE – but I have been shocked by my reactions so far. The power of the voices in my head.

“You are too old to get what you want” is the phrase that bothered me the most. My friend calls it an “error of scarcity” and I believe it. Deep down I believe there is not enough love for me. Not enough of me that is worth loving. That I am too much or too little of what I should be. I live under these lies at times and it keeps me from giving a lot of people a chance. This new relationship has reminded me of the truth – that there is an abundant, loving God that never intended that I live a scarce life.

So why is new boy trouble with a capital “T”? He takes care of me even though I am independent. He tells me I am beautiful even though I am too tall. He gives freely even though I expect so little. He does not fit my previous self-destructive patterns. One hot Asian boy can shake things up and make for a LOT of interesting days.  Trouble.

September 21, 2009

Spirituality in Images and Art

Posted in Art, SoCal, Soul, Spirituality at 4:46 pm by LadySophie

When I was in 8th grade, I took at art class and felt I was destined to be an artist. I loved to paint, work with charcoals, and sketch. It’s funny to me now because I am such a verbal person – everything I do in life right now revolves around words. But what I found in art, was a way to express myself even beyond words.

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I led retreats off and on in my last ministry – and I learned about art cards at a conference. They are sets of postcards you can buy that have fine art printed on them in small form. I used them as an introduction exercise. I.e. “everyone choose a card that represents who you are and share it with the group.” It was a way to take us deeper as a group more quickly. You would be amazed at the depth of meaning people found in art.

Since I have been in SoCal, one of my fav places to visit is the Getty. My profile pic is actually the floating labyrinth in the garden there. I’ll attach a few more pics here for you to see. The Getty is such a fulfilling experience. One room is my favorite. It is a room of women. One scene is a wedding in Greece with women dancers. Another frame has a portrait of a regally dressed woman by the beach. Another is a haunting portrait of what looks like a sad wife. I am always stirred in that room.

Not only do I find meaning in images others have created, but I find images inside as well. If I stop and listen, images come to mind of what I am feeling or desiring. In my journaling, I could imagine the place where my soul could rest, could be myself, could be restored. It is a beach house (of course). Huge windows that face the ocean. Crisp white couches – the comfortable kind that you can nap on. A beautiful kitchen. Rooms for different things I enjoy. Only peace lives there. I can walk around without my shoes on. No one else can go there unless they are invited. That image has stayed with me this year in a powerful way.

Even if you are not an art person or a journaling person – try both one time. Go to a local art museum. Sit down for 10 minutes and be still. See what images come to mind. What a gift – that we have this ability to connect our soul to the world around us. Art and images help me see what is inside my own heart spiritually  – and express it in a way words never could.

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September 3, 2009

One day…

Posted in feminism, feminist theology, hurt, sexism in the church at 5:37 am by LadySophie

there was this one day in seminary…

i was in some class that had a lot of men, but some women

the topic was women in ministry and some idiot in my class was railing against women – i was the only one that spoke up

i responded with a lot of emotion, but got my points across

i remember going back to the dorm after class and going to the prayer room

i just fell on my face and wept for like an hour – breaks my heart over and over and over for women

thought about the countless women that were denied in the church, abused, put down over the years

their pain still felt real to me, that it was still happening

cried for all of those women

when will it stop?

when will i look around and not have to cry anymore because it is over?

August 30, 2009

What feeds your soul?

Posted in feminine soul, Goddess, images of the Goddess, Spiritual Renewal at 2:39 am by LadySophie

I have finished coursework in Leadership Studies, but feel like I could use another three years to read all the additional leadership literature out there. I took comps two weeks ago and now get to wait…for the results. I had prepared my mind before I headed back for my test. I knew it would be hard to switch gears – having nothing to really study anymore. But it has been harder than I thought.

For a few days, I was restless and irritated. I tried to study for lit review but was not productive. All I felt was exhausted. I napped everyday and still wanted to sleep at night. I realized I could use the time to minister to my own soul. My feminine soul to be more specific.

I had a glimpse of her in my mind. She was a runner in a race and was worn out. She had kept up for the race, but she was done. Her head was down and she needed to rest. She was toned and in good shape – she had been a faithful companion. But now she needed something from me. Could I just sit and listen? When was the last time I did something that fed my soul?

What feeds your soul? I thought about lots of things that feed my feminine soul. A visit to the Getty museum, exploring the coast for unexpected beauty, a massage, dancing…chocolate ice cream. So that is what I will do…while I wait.

Interestingly, I had another image of my feminine soul almost a year ago. She was a slave, in chains, at the mercy of the task master. She was malnourished, neglected and in torment. I was struck by the contrast of the two images. Now, she may be tired, but she is powerful and strong. She grew from a slave to a powerful running partner. Lady Wisdom says “I am understanding, power is mine” (Prov 8:14). Find out what feeds your feminine soul – find that deep understanding and power. I would love to hear your comments about what you discover.

For more about the feminine soul – see Janet Davis’ book, The Feminine Soul: Surprising Ways the Bible Speaks to Women (2006).