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I-Spy Jesus

I remember how my hand felt in his, and how his velvet robe brushed my heavenly skin. He looked down upon me and said the words, “There is no fear here”. The most peace I have ever felt stood in that moment. My earthly 8 year old self, hadn’t a clue who this being was, but my soul yearned to be there holding his hand. It wasn’t until years later, on earth I would learn his name: Jesus.

The field he guided me through was in vibrant colors I had never seen with my human eyes. Everything sang to him, the grass, the butterflies, the wind. It was all one, all universal, all accepting, and all loving. There was no hierarchy of beings- not of race, not of sex, not of wealth, not of religion, not of culture, not of soul. There was no space for -if you did x, y, z, -that he would love you any more than he already did, or loved the soul next to you more because they had lived a “more Christian life”. When you are in heaven, the playing field is even, and the love in abundant and sound. You are connected to everything in love.

This is exactly how I try to intentionally live my life- in abundant love. If I am going to come back to this earth, then I am going to do it right. Next time, when I get back to his hand, I am never letting go. So, living with abundant love it is, but the difference being, on earth there IS fear, and not everyone is so heavenly.

I have spent much of my life in search of heaven glimpses. Many would think this can be found in church mainly, but actually, I have seen the opposite in spaces overly marked in his honor. The holiest places I always seem to find, are the hidden gems among us. I would prefer to find him in people, places, and things that I encounter on a regular basis, that most wouldn’t seek. Like today in a bagel shop in Florida, I stood behind a very vibrant, energetic woman named Dawn. Her soul was amazing and bright. I thought to tell her this, but my human self tripped over how odd it would be to come from a stranger standing behind her in line. As my husband and I left, we turned to each other and said “wow her energy was amazing”. He had felt it too!

The best part is, this wasn’t even the only time I had a heaven glimpse today. In fact, I had my favorite one, that I literally long to do on earth, all the time. I floated in the ocean. Seems simple enough right? My daughter calls me the “master floater” because I can do it for hours on end and it weird poses. Its like yoga in the ocean! There is nothing that makes me feel more grounded, or deliever such high vibrations, than being part of its vastness. I literally feel one with the earth, which so happens to be the exact feeling I had with heaven. If you want to know what my all time favorite thing to do on this planet is- its that!

Just like that, on a simple Sunday that I never got to church, I was reminded of the hand I held in heaven, and his promises. In this simple Sunday, I saw in a soul the vibrancy that is avid in heaven, while standing in line for a bagel. I also felt the oneness in an ocean that literally binds the earth together as one.

Yesterday my heaven glimpse came to me through nature. This one comes to me often. It happens to be through cardinals. When I am about to encounter major changes, or someone close to me is pregnant, I am known to see real life cardinals in nature in an abundant amount. The day I gave my life to Christ, I had dozens and dozens in the trees in my backyard. Sometimes they literally fly into my windshield, other days they jump from bushes to bushes the entire way I am driving to work. Yesterday, I saw ten in about a five-mile stretch of road, literally sitting in the road every half mile or so. Each time we drove up to it, the bird would fly in front of the windshield. Over, and over, and over, again, they flew up. It happened so often, I asked my brother in-law to confirm I wasn’t seeing things. On my way to the airport, I was simply reminded that God is with me, that even nature sings to him, and that change is coming.

Church may be a great place for praise and worship, but when seeking for the gems of Jesus, don’t forget to look amongst your daily life. It is literally a heavenly hide and seek or I-Spy, he has developed just for you. Don’t forget to seek him and seek up! He is seeking a deeply personal relationship that begins with you grasping his hand.

 

 

 

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Whats in a name? When I started this blog I thought about the people, places, and things, that move me the most. I steadfastly always seek God in all I do, even in my frantic chosen mistakes when I get wrong in life. I always SEEK UP. This term isn’t my own, and in fact is part of a musical love story.

You may find this incredibly unrelatable, and possibly even silly, but the first time I found Jesus in music it was through Dave Matthews. When Christian’s think about worship, we confine ourselves to only the music written in the Christian genre. We rarely open ourselves up to accepting the fact that God can do amazing things through very talented and gifted human beings in contemporary music too. It is an art after all, that the almighty has created.

The moment the music moved me, I was in my later twenties living in NYC. My first concert I went to was a benefit concert they were giving at Central Park. I paid $8 to go see them, steps away from my upper east side home. I  went with my boss at the time that was a die-hard fan and traveled all over the world to see them. We left early from our jobs at a drug rehabilitation center in Brooklyn to make it in time. We were a thousand percent sober. This is important to state as often this band is often matched with highly inebriated college students, and adults that were once highly inebriated college students that used to listen to Dave. The moment I heard him start to sing “Don’t drink the water”, I literally cried. His voice had so much emotion and vibration, I could feel it on a spiritual level. This is exactly what birthed the mega fan I became.

Seek Up is a song that I literally want to disintegrate into the earth too. The words are highly charged, and the raw emotion sung behind them pivotal. Before I became a Christian, this was my “church song”. It bled truths of our existence. To me, it was the very solid rock of human existence. Live life to the fullest, and no matter what we choose in life, we all end up in the same spot: dead. That may seem completely morbid to read- but it is actually said with joy when written from someone who has been to heaven. Which is why, when naming my blog, I thought about what IS life after death? How exactly should it be lived? And the answer was: Seek Up.

So many songs written by the gifted band has delivered, birthed, and transformed me. They have been anthems to my life story. “Grey Street” has carried me through some of my darkest days. “Everyday” is literally the theme song to how I live through a very challenging job (“I push up love, love everyday”), and very intentionally love on the world. Then the love songs, Lord – how he delivers them in hold your breath moments like “Crash” and “Say Goodbye”.

I have told so many my favorite moments in life are those that I find glimmers of the afterlife. For me, listening to this band live delivers that. You may find it in a different place, space, or person. For me- it is a coming home that I look forward to every single year.

The best part is- Tonight is the night! I, unlike most, will be stone cold sober as I ALWAYS am, at their shows. Mainly because the core of my being, can not afford to miss a moment of their gift, and the beauty of it being delivered.

Yes my friends. Even in music, Jesus exists. Seek it. Seek Him. Seek Up.

seekiup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Great

A wise soul said something earth shattering to me the other day, when I asked about her recent changes in her life. She said “I didn’t want to just live a good life. I wanted to live a great one.” She also mentioned the importance of her daughters watching and the way she had hoped they would live their lives. Vibrantly ALIVE.

This got me thinking about all the things we settle for and the culture in which we create. Once you are at a certain age you are expected to “lay in the bed you made”.  You are expected to live a good life and not a great one. Go on living it because it is what you chose, and you no longer have another choice – or do you?

We are so driven by fear that we snuff out the dreams we are silently seeking to awake our sullen souls. We are afraid to hurt feelings, adjust the norm, seem selfish, and most of all – fail! We are told over and over again that the grass isn’t always greener on the otherside, but how do we know this is we never dipped a toe onto that other field? What if it was exactly what you were meant for, and it sets your soul on fire?

How often have you found yourself in a career that is no longer fulfilling but you you stay because of the thousands of dollars you spent on that degree? Or stayed in a friendship just because you have been friends since you were children, and wouldn’t that be horrible if you chose it no longer served you? Or a relationship you are stable in but don’t feel whole? Or a town you desperately want to  move from but don’t because it’s to late to meet new people at this stage of your life? And the list goes on and on and on …

What if you chose to no longer let fear lead you, but faith? The stir in your belly that has you yearning for more of something different. What if we listened to that more and less of what our cultures expectation of the hamster wheel mentality?

We look at those who are living vibrantly alive, as immature, unsettlers, that just can’t get their stuff together. What if they are really the only ones really living? While the rest of us sleep walk through life until we die with a eulogy of “he had a good life”. What about GREAT? What about great?

I’m personally, slowly, learning that nothing is impossible if you dare to go beyond dreams and others expectations. I am learning to trust in the process of what is meant for me, while daring to do things afraid. Pushing the boarders that life continues to create the longer we are alive.

I personally, want the world to remember I lived my life vibrantly alive, always seeking what set my soul on fire. Dancing on all the fields of grass, knowing, I dared to not only dream it, but brave it!

We are made for greatness. Don’t settle for good. Be brave- and let go of fear.

Be Great.

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Willing To Adjust

7F5702C0-2706-4628-99BD-7D735D6FD684I read a quote recently that was one of those feel good, picker uppers. Usually this is 100% my forte. However this particular quote I wanted to yell at and scream “ LIAR”.

It was “be you, the world will adjust”.

The pain staking truth is the world won’t adjust when you are different or hurting – you must adjust to the world. It will not stop when you are in despair, nor will it give you grace when you are at your very last nerve.

Almost twelve years ago this day, I had no idea the day I gave birth for the first time, that this beautiful baby boy, would gift me some of the very hardest lessons of my life. I was focused on my heart exploding, that I couldn’t even dream he would ever be my  greatest adjustment.

I have received some of the most judgemental and colorful “advice” over the years: “he is fine, you just spoil him”, “you over diagnosis because of what you do”, “you created this monster by giving him the world”, “if I was his mom I would ——-(insert ridgid judgement that is delivered as “help”)”. And then I have had the most support from the most unexpected sources with: “I see you”, “It’s so hard”, or they do something amazing and listen. All of which- the good, bad, and the ugly, have birthed my own adjustment into this world, and I would continue to support his.

To the outside world I may be that loud mom that has been advocating for her kid for years. People that don’t know me may wonder why I am so vocal, or such a pain in the butt. They may wonder why I don’t follow through at bringing him to appointments  or activities, when I make a stink about how his individualized educational plan is written. They may think when I mention I have a son with Autism, I’m trying to get their sympathy or manipulate the system. They haven’t lived a day in my shoes but will assume they could.

The truth is when I held my baby for the first time, I could not imagine the warrior he would make me, or the level of resilience I would have to face. I had already been a social worker and a elementary school teacher, and I thought I knew Autism. I also believed then that the world would adjust.

Listen closely – seriously all the way in: You have NO clue about Autism until you LIVE Autism.

And our greatest job as parents is to reach our children the tools to maneuver through life because the world will NOT adjust. This is a daunting task for our Autistic population.

When I am laying on the floor restraining my son who is cursing me out because he didn’t get his way over some minor thing,I remind myself, I will adjust.

When I am in public and he is making loud noises, or flapping, or cursing, and the world stares. I remind myself, eventhrough embarrassment, I will adjust.

When he gets older, more aware, not getting invited to certain things, wanting things in his own terms more, and pain stakingly stands out in a group, through worry and pain, I will adjust.

And the greatest gift I can award him is to know- he will adjust to. In his own way and on his own time. The world will not adjust for him.

I imagine these moments so hard for me to persevere and come out the other side, how it is for my son whose brain doesn’t function quite the same. What it will be like for him? Who will he become? What will move him to be a resilient warrior of life too?

Although I wouldn’t have chosen this life for him twelve years ago, I can’t imagine it any other way – simply because it was God intended.

Not all things perfectly made by the almighty is easy or for the faint of heart. In fact, some of our greatest accomplishments come from our biggest adjustments.

I will adjust.

So will he.

We both have God on our side.

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I am seasoned in this area. I have diagnosed it and helped people through it. And still I have struggled.

I have everything going for me. A deep faith, an amazing family, friends that love me, a job that I feel needs me, and so much more. I am well educated, insanely positive, a damn good therapist, and live my life to love deeply. And still I struggle.

The ugly monster and his tricks. The days I can barely get out of bed, or the moments I wonder “would anyone really care?”. The pain unbearable. Silent and behind closed doors. Alone. The devils whispers nobody cares nor understands.

Even I had a hard time- a seasoned mental health professional- in going to my doctor when post- pardum depression had me thinking sucicial thoughts. Even I had a hard time telling my primary care physician I was so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed most days but knew I had too.

The stigma surrounding depression is much like mass shootings in this country. We hear another life lost to suicide and share on our social media feeds our thoughts and prayers. Yet silently, those of us in the muck of it- muddle through because our society demands us too. They expect us to figure it out and just “get happy”. Or … why don’t you just seek help or take medication? Or my favorite – you have such faith and love God – how could you feel this way?

I’m telling you world- as a woman with a great life, well loved, and in the mental health profession- it was incredibly hard for me. Imagine what you are asking of those that don’t have this background! You wouldn’t be telling someone with cancer to just get well already! You would have compassion and empathy. You’d hold their hand through chemo, and hug them tight.

I do not lie when I say I live and love life vibrantly and hard. However, I experience the pain of exsistence just as hard, and sometimes it swallows me whole. It doesn’t make me weak- it makes me a warrior.

Mediaction doesn’t work for me. I graduated therapy for now. I own my own tool box of coping skills (like writing, reiki, and prayer). I am healthy. I love the fresh air of the morning, and the sun shining on my face.

But I still struggle.

I don’t need your well wishes, I just need your compassion.

Love those around you- they may be silently struggling and needing you to be present with all of who you are. I am not talking your social media well wishes and a post of the sucicide hotline number pleas. They need YOU. Love them! Love them HARD. Iglnowledge the struggle! Say the I love you’s! As we have learned in the past week in the headlines- tomorrow is never promised- but this VERY moment IS and can make ALL of the difference in someone’s life.

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Keep Pouring

D29E0D7E-7643-477D-AB4C-552E3437A6AE.jpegI am light. A hand crafted vessel purposely made for this earth. No other like me. I bring forth what the almighty has filled in me, offering it to you. I am not made of perfection, in fact I was perfectly made to be imperfect. Although you may see some of the most beautiful colors that line my core, you will also see the cracks that have made me human. The hardships of life that have seized their dark ways through my beautiful lining. I can either become the dark, or I can insist the light I was crafted with, take flight into these fractures. The best parts of me are grown from the dark I worked so hard to turn light.

It is the same for you. Our interaction with the world often tells us we are not made for what we wish, that we aren’t really good at anything, and never enough. The truth is it is easier to believe what the dark feeds us. It is easy to sit stagnant, and be comfortable in the ragged clothes we wear of “I can’t”. However, it is the biggest lie ever to be told my friend.

You see, you were made with kit gloves. Purposely crafted for a precise reason to be executed for light and change of the greater good. You were made to be enough because your creator IS the enough. How often can we sit and list what we are great at? Rarely. I dare you to try. However, if I asked you what you weren’t great at, I am sure you could provide me with a thesis. You need to flip the switch on this. You need to toss the ragged clothes of “I can’t”, and re-dress yourself with the beautiful, vibrant colors He originally dressed you with. When you were born in this world, and people coo’ed and ahh’ed at you- all they could imagine were the endless possibilities. You still got it! ALL the possibilities just waiting for you to believe that YOU CAN!

When you settle for all that you are not, you give up all that you are made to be. You become stagnant. The darkness loves nothing more than to steady you in your comfortable grey rags of fear and anxiety. There is no space for the light to flow. The vessel can’t move when it is completely filled up with dull lit oil. You must ignite what is meant to be given and pour it out. Pour out your rainbows of vibrant colors onto this world. We are all waiting.

On the days we have done our very best, and it seems like it wasn’t enough, we crack open feeling as if we failed. It is there, in our moments of hardship, we must choose to keep pouring. The energy must flow, we must keep giving, so that we can continue to be an open vessel to the one who fills our soul. So that the stranger standing next to you in line, or the kid you are trying to teach, (and so on and so forth), is SO enamored by your being, they are forever changed as a result of it. Yes. That my dear is the power in which you were made.

Our God. He needs you to keep pouring. No matter how broken your vessel may be, He has made you in this very space for a very intentional reason. Be willing to move. The world is waiting for you to arrive. Allow it to flow. Search for the beautiful linings you were made of, and treasure them. You weren’t made for spiritual rags, but spiritual riches.

You are more than enough. Which is why, my beauty, you MUST keep pouring!

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When He calls

aimeesaratoga.jpgGod isn’t always where you expect. Nor is His calling for you ever stagnant. You want to know what your “true calling” is? Its growth. Spiritual, connectedness, growth, that you continue to evolve until you have reached your maximum potential in this life. Clearly, when I was eight and died, I had not reached mine. So here I am at forty-one pressing on my friends.

After a particularly hard week a few weeks ago, I went to my hometown church in hopes of finding solace. Instead I found a familiar and typical pull, that I am to seek Him elsewhere. This frustrates those I love around me, since we often get settled into a church community, and then I am moved by the holy spirit, to go some where new. It usually starts with a slight hint, which I have had for about a year now. Then, when I try to ignore the gentle pull, its a very clear urge of obedience. And I go. This happens not only with church, but people, places, and things. When it is no longer serving my purpose, I leave.

I entered into another difficult week following this. I was discouraged because I was not only in a difficult season of my life (anyone working in a school system can agree that the end of the year is always the hardest), but now my church home was no longer my calling. Luckily this was leading into a long weekend, which my husband and I planned to go away. My initial pull was to be in nature and connect with the universe. So that is exactly what we did, and headed to Saratoga Springs, NY.

On Sunday, I had planned to find Jesus near a waterfall, but it was pouring rain. Discouraged, I healed my soul with a tasty brunch. On our way back to the hotel, a few very friendly men greeted us with good mornings as they stood on the side walk by a sign. As we returned our greetings, we noticed a familiar sound coming out of the comedy club, it was worship music. I’d like you to know, on my way to brunch I had a moment when I noticed the comedy clubs door open, and thought who in God’s name is practicing stand up comedy at 9am on Sunday morning. I’ll tell you who my friends- Jesus is! So I kept walking. And walking. And saying to my husband things like, “Do you want to go to church since its raining?”, “Do you think they are Christians like us down there or some type of crazy comedy club cult?”. Finally my husband demanded we turn around and go back.

I preface this with, as a social worker, I hate to socialize in new places. I was anxious. I let my husband who is completely opposite, take the lead. I followed him into the comedy club and met Next Level Church. It was small and intimate. The pastor that day delivered to me exactly what I felt the Lord has been calling me to do. You see, it isn’t only church I have been feeling the tipping point about- its over many facets of my life. One being a yearning, and great desire to share the Jesus I know and love through my written word. The Pastor pointed out, if it is Jesus calling you to do something, you are either to rest in it, or to work at it. Resting in hopes Jesus will write my story isn’t going to happen. Working and making the time to write, I can do, and He can make the rest happen. His desire, his timing. Not only for what we know we are made for, but even in the small things of our daily life, as simple as church in a comedy club while on vacation.

Jesus is a wonderful comedian. The great reminder that it isn’t about the four walls I worship Him in, but about the relationship I align myself with. This can be done in my home, in my car, amongst friends over wine, at a hike in the forest, or by golly, in a comedy club.

He is also very serious. Humans don’t enjoy the word obedience. It is as if we are giving up our control and freedom when leaning into the word. However, even when I have had the lump in my throat of “MY GOD I don’t want to do this”, if Jesus is behind it, it always, ALWAYS, delivers exactly what I need.

So as you may have guessed the rain stopped after church. I went for that hike. I heard God speak to me while I walked up the river to the waterfall. I repeated a line that set my heart ablaze years ago, over and over in my head. It was: “set a fire down in my soul that I can contain, and I can’t control, I want more of you God, I want more of you God”. Warning- do not say this unless you mean it- because Jesus will absolutely do this. This is the sweet spot my friends. When you have no idea what our almighty God is up to for you, but it is always in your favor when you go blindly in faith.

When your core yearns for you to go, you go. When your have a knowing that a friendship or relationship no longer is serving you, let it end. When you no longer feel something is meant for you, it is not. Pray on it. Either wait or work. You must not only invite Him to move in your life, you must allow Him too. Even if this means a comedy club in a random town. He made that inner compass of yours, don’t second guess it.

As always, give yourself grace knowing He has made you perfectly as is. He loves you as so. He will wait until you get it right.

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