Tuesday, July 21, 2015

6-Ten Yoga

6:10 a.m. Yoga club. Well, that’s what I’ve named us anyway. My friend Jenny (who also happens to be our child care provider, homeschool expert and all around great person) and I decided to start going to Yoga at 6 a.m. because an awesome woman in the community was offering free classes.

Okay, so they aren’t really free. They are “donation” based – but a donation is far better than paying $100 a month for the gym in the off chance I’ll get up. Plus – I feel a lot guiltier skipping out on the “free” yoga because this sweet woman is giving her time to a small group of women and doesn’t expect to be paid for it. I WANT to go so that she gets a donation. It’s a weird reasoning.

Anyway. We get up at 5:30 a.m. after probably only sleeping 4 hours (Jenny has four kids and I have two, so there isn’t a whole lot of hours to get to ourselves so going to bed early is always out!) and we drive the 15 minutes over to the lake front park to be there by 6:10.

The sky is still dark when I get into my car. It’s slate against the backdrop of palm trees and oaks spread across the horizon. As I turn the curve onto Lakeshore Blvd, the water comes into view and I start to see just a sliver of pink start to stretch across the sky.

I drive further in, park by the playground and walk the short distance down to the peninsula pavilion.  The water circles around us, lapping up on the rocks as the early morning breeze floats across the ripples.

As I lean down into child’s pose the birds start to wake up as the sun inches its way up above the shoreline. The ducks and the mocking birds chatter incessantly to one another. I imagine their dialogue like that of two old friends recounting their day before to each other over coffee – or in this case over that early morning worm.

The sun climbs ever so slightly as we contort and stretch and move our bodies to sun salutation. Hello sun. And it reminds me. Hello God.

See some people think that practicing yoga is somehow sacrilegious. I completely disagree. Yoga is a place where yes, you quiet your mind and focus on your body. It believes in quiet meditation and centering your thoughts. But for me – this fits right into what I believe about Christ. As the sun raises the thoughts of “the son” also raise into my heart.

Creation hums around me and I remember Psalms 148-- 

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!  Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!  Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.  He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.  Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.

I hear the water splash melodically across the shore – even the water and rocks cry out for God. It seems that as the sun’s light spreads out across the shadows the whole Earth begins to give praise to God.

And so I bow towards the sun and I offer up my praise as well.

Thank you Jesus for this wind sweeping across my brow. Thank you God for my body sore and stiff but able to nurture babies and grow strong. Thank you Holy Spirit for this air so fresh, clear, breathing into my lungs the spirit of God to blow out anew onto all those around me.

Today in the 6:10 Yoga Club we did a 10 minute meditation. I’ll be honest – the path of the process was a little frou-frou for my tastes but I go along with it anyway.

“Imagine your becoming one with this tree in the woods,” it whispers. “See the long branches …” which I do – I begin to imagine that I’m in this cool forest my back leaning against an old oak – when some guy starts doing pull ups off the limbs! Oh yeah, by product of 6:10 Yoga Club? 6:20 pavilion pull up guy. Without fail, he’s there.  

So it’s me, this tree, pull up guy – and finally Jesus. You see the meditation is nice and calming but it’s not what I really want to imagine. Sure there can be a tree – sure I can sit against it. But I want Jesus to be sitting beside me. I want to use those 10 minutes to talk with my savior. I want to be reminded of how I’ve taken this time for granted, and tell God I’m sorry. I want the faces of those who I have wronged and have wronged me to be pulled up before me so I can find forgiveness. I want to taste the communion of air, and sweat, and tears, and stillness and remember, as Ann Voskamp tells us in One Thousands Gifts that this Eucharist means thanksgiving and “Thanksgiving-giving thanks in everything-prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ.”

And so this time becomes a feast of thanksgiving – my body and blood reaching out to the one who poured out all of his for the salvation of a broken and hurting world. 6:10 yoga brings me back to the start of who I am – and when it’s over I leave reminded of who I want to be in Christ.

Photo Courtesy of Yoga @ The Lakefront Facebook Group
The 6:10 yoga club has no idea how it’s changing me. I guess I’ve failed to mention this is only my third time to go. Today a new friend joined us, Amee, and we all three made a pack to meet tomorrow – an off yoga day, but at 6:10 to meet the world again with friendship and a nice walk around the lake.  I can’t wait.

I know what it will be like. The sky will start out pale grey and then explode into pinks, purples and yellows and the morning sun will finally conquer the darkness.

This morning I think there was an actual sun-worshipper. I watched him in between my tree pose and mountain stance. He raised his arms up over and over. The sun pouring over him like the washing of baptismal waters and I almost cried. I don’t know if he knew the maker of that sun, but I prayed that he did. I prayed right then and there that as his arms reached forth that Christ’s love would reach out to him. And he and I, and the 6:10 Yoga Club raised our arms above our heads, and bowed to the start of a brand new day. Namaste. Amen.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Southern Oak

It’s been said that it will kill the tree - the lazy Spanish moss that drapes itself over the Southern Oak towering across the street. I walk, feeling the Florida evening air blow around me, it’s humid in it’s breath, with just a whisper of cool -- and I listen while the setting sun plays kaleidoscope as it glints through the branches.

Then I hear the words.  “You are like that tree. “ Five minutes earlier I was talking on the phone with my best friend and teasing that my cell phone would die soon. “Oh, no,” I said.  “I’m about to be alone with my thoughts, this is an extroverts worst nightmare!” But, I know it needed to happen. I knew it was time to hear.

You are like that tree.

Southern. Stout. Proud. Strong. Firm Foundation. When the wind blows you easily sway, never rocked at the roots. You are like that tree.

However, Life -- Life is the Spanish moss.

Wrapped around your limbs, pulling at the branches. Growing, stretching, and yes, sometimes even sucking the very essence of being out of its host.

Spanish moss only grows in trees that have an abundance of leaves. It doesn’t cling to trees that grow only straight up. It’s needs a reach that’s long, and wide, and able to bring in all the nutrients it needs to live. Spanish Moss is about survival.

It’s a parasite – leeching off another to grow. Swinging from branch to branch, sprawling itself out like your sister-in-laws ex-boyfriend on your sofa that time you let him live with you.

It doesn’t take no for an answer – the tree has no choice but to entertain the moss there, pushing aside its place in the sun so that the moss has full access to the warmth.

Yes. You are like that tree.

You don’t need the moss to live. But, the moss needs you.

The oldest boy wakes up for the hundredth time tonight. Clinging to you, wrapping his skinny arms around your neck and holding on for dear life. “Mommy, I need you to warm me up,” he says.

The e-mails stack up one by one. They beckon an answer -- begging you to breath life into the work you’ve been given.

A life of opportunity – foliage in full bloom. Husband, kids, ministry, travel, and more – the leaves grow and grow and grow. And the moss works its web through the boughs, filling in the gaps and spaces until some days you can’t even bend for all the burden.

But, you are like the tree. And the tree – Oh my God, is it beautiful.

If, for one moment, you removed the long, flowing, moss from the branches all that would be left would be twigs and sprigs – a half full tree.

But – it’s the moss – the way it lingers and lounges across the full breadth of the oak that brings the real beauty. It’s the deep crevices covered with wisps of jade braided through the boughs that makes people stop, stare, and admire the tree for all its abundant worth.

It’s the way the sun, as it sets on the day, winks through the leafy chaos – to reveal the majesty of a life well lived.

Yes. You.

You Are Like That Tree.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Am From

I am from old quilts, from Gone with the Wind, and toy trucks. 
I am from the Saint Cloud Manor of home is whenever I’m with you. 

I am from the splintered oaks and the lush pecans, 

Whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own. 

I’m from Pentecostal revival and Baptist guilt from Joan Estelle and Irish roots. 

I’m from strong will and soft grace, 
and from maybe a little too much liquor to wash it all down. 

I’m from worthless and worthy.  
And  “Just a little talk with Jesus.” 

I am from voicing the voiceless, loving the unlovable and seeking God first. 
From best friend husband and Mother of two boys. 

I’m from Christmas presents on Christmas Eve’s eve. 

I’m from Arkadelphia and Scotland/England/Ireland mutts. 
From gravy steaks and fried potatoes. 

I’m from Mary Sue in the 1950s -- Fun and fancy free in the city. 
Black and white snapshots of hidden hot springs and late nights.   

Stashed away in a box, lost in the clutter.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Why blog?

It's hard to figure out why I want to blog. Is it to work on my writing skills? Is it to share my stories? Or is it just because I want to write a book some day and all the good bloggers have book deals?

But what makes a good blog? What's so special about the blogs you read? Why do you keep coming back?

I realize this is a short post and sort of a cop out for my seven day challenge. But, I'm really interested ... What do you think makes a blog successful?

Maybe the answer is in posting photos like this?

Yeah. Probably not.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Breathing (On nine years of marriage)

* Today my dear husband and I celebrate nine years of marriage. I’ve written in the past what our life and love looks like, and today I do the same.


The other night we had a friend over, and she wanted to know, “How do you know he’s the one.” I listened and you listened and it was like we were both swirling the thought around in our heads. How did we know? What was the THING that made us know that this love was one meant to last a lifetime? Then I just went ahead and said what I was thinking out loud, I said:

“Because you can’t breath without him.”

And that’s the truth. There is no special thing you do. It’s not flowers or gifts, or even that you make me laugh or that you never make me cry. It’s that when I wake up each morning and you are there beside me. I can breath.

When I grow babies and nurse them and teach them and God knows you change diapers and do more than help but actually parent, I can breath.

When I have to go to work at the job that’s a calling but so conflicting with my calling to be your wife and a mother. You support me, stand by me, push me to be the best. It helps me breath.

When I’m overwhelmed and exhausted and don’t think I can do ONE MORE DAY. You tell me to breath … and I do.

There’s no magic formula, there’s no secret code. There may not even be such a thing as soul mates or “made for one another.” But, you, my dear husband, are my life support.

Without you -- I drown. Without you -- I suffocate. And it’s hard to realize this because I AM a strong woman. But, I don’t want to have to see what I would be like without you. Because I think I’m a strong woman, because of you.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for helping me breath. Thank you for breathing Holy Spirit air into my lungs when my faith is weak and my heart is heavy.

 This is how I know you are the one:

Because without you … I can’t breath.

Happy Anniversary!

*This is part of Conversion Dairy's seven blogs in seven days challenge.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hey Jude ... It's You!

Hey Jude,

Hi. It’s me. Your Mom. You turned three in May and because I’ve been so busy, I’m writing this in July. Hey … listen, you get two kids, a full time job and all kinds of other things and then give me a hard time okay?

And, you are probably the type of kid who is going to give me a hard time. Let’s be honest, I believe you’ve inherited your mother’s personality. It seems we have a bit in common when it comes to making sure we get exactly what we want. You have the eye on the prize at all times, and if motivated enough I believe you could probably go ahead and move mountains. I love that about you.

In the last year I’ve been amazed at how much you’ve grown. You’ve gone from toddler to full-out little BOY! And boy -- are you all boy! You pretty much love to be outside at all times. You love to take your dog for walks and play in the backyard. Living in Florida we love to sit outside in the spring and fall, but you get annoyed with us when it’s too hot in the summer months.

You love pirates. For your birthday this year we had a pirate birthday party. We met three of your closest friends at Disney World and had birthday cake at one of the restaurants (a pirate Mickey cake) and then only rode the rides you wanted to ride. You LOVED it! I think your friends had a good time too.

You are always learning and doing new things. You can pretty much count to 10 now (sometimes you skip 7 and 8) and you can sing your ABCs. You know all your colors and shapes and can memorize most books that we read to you (we found this out because you have started “reading” sometimes to your little brother). You went to Co-Op last year and learned most of these things, and in a few weeks you will start PreK-3. I can’t believe how grown up you are becoming! You are also doing SO much better about sleeping through the night. We are THRILLED with that development milestone!

Some other great things you about you is that you love wrestling with your Dad. Your favorite pretend games include playing pirates, super heroes, dinosaurs, and doctor. You’ve got a BIG imagination. You love for us to read to you and to tell you made up stories. You also love to jump from the coffee table to the couch (and even though I don’t like you doing it … I still let you). Another amazing thing about you, is that you now know all the words to “Hey Jude” and you love to sing it … especially the Na Na Na’s.

I am just as in love with you as the first day I met you. Your dad and I are so proud of you and love having conversations with you. Some days are hard, we won’t lie, but at the end we always remind ourselves of what a sweet, smart, loving, amazing little boy you are. We are lucky to be your parents.

So, Jude. Happy third birthday baby boy. This year was a big change with you becoming a big brother. But, I know, when you look back, you will mark it as one of the best years of your life. Mom and Dad love you and we can’t wait to see how much you will grow in the next year!


This is part of Conversion Dairy's seven blogs in seven days challenge.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Life Goes On ...

No better time but the present to sing the words of Obli-de, Obli-da ... Yes the story of Molly and Desmond and their anthem of "Life goes on," is pretty much where we are with this blog, dear friends.

It's been a whirlwind of a year or so. I got pregnant, opened up The Community Hope Center (a nonprofit working to provide services to homeless families in Osceola County), and then had a baby.

Life is/was crazy. So, in an effort to join Jen over at Conversion Dairy I'm doing the seven blogs in seven days challenge and using this opportunity to start this blog back up. So I will be writing for the next seven days to do just that.

Today serves as your one year recap.

On my 30th birthday about a year ago, I was a Mom of one amazing little boy who has a little over 2 years old. I was also *just* pregnant with my second child. Being pregnant in the middle of trying to open up a county-wide initiative to help homeless families while continuing to provide ministry within the church setting was challenging but pretty amazing. As my due date approached, the grand opening of the Center kept getting closer and closer. We had the grand opening of The Hope Center on April 12th. Three hundred and fifty people attended the event, and although it went amazing ... it put me into labor.

Luckily, the doctors were able to stop the contractions ... but our little Desmond Luke Downey was born 10 days later on April 22, 2013.

Can I just say he is the BEST BABY EVER! Those who followed my blog know that with Jude we had a pretty tough go at it. He was sick a lot, never slept, and we dealt with A LOT of feeding issues. With Luke, the only small issue we had was he had some major reflux that caused us a small scare, but once we got it under control he's been awesome.

Amazing things about Luke include the fact that he pretty much already sleeps through the night. He hardly ever cries, and he's the calmest, most smiley, baby ever. He's a pure joy (not that Jude wasn't, it's just really really different).

So, today Luke turned 3 months and I went back to work. The Center was under great leadership with my awesome staff and I had a great maternity leave. I've got lots of goals that I want to achieve as a mom, as a person, and as an executive director. So, I plan on using the next seven days to update you on several things and writing several milestone letters that I haven't gotten around to posting.

So stay tuned.