Posted in Authentic Freedom Academy, church

A Day of Gratitude

Yesterday I launched the Authentic Freedom Academy Sunday Service.  Today, I am overflowing with gratitude for all who have supported me in the on-going evolution of Authentic Freedom Academy in all its manifestations!  Yesterday, brought it all full circle and I feel that in many ways, the puzzle is finally complete.  THANK YOU to my family, friends, clients, students, classmates, teachers, counselors, etc. etc. etc. etc. who have believed in this crazy dream and who have participated in all they ways you have!  THANK YOU!

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If I’d known twenty-some years ago when I first responded to the “brick to the head” homily that drew me into active ministry, I might have turned and run away!  Back then, I would have been content to ride on the coat tails of our Pastor, Fr. Jeff, but when he left the priesthood to marry his soulmate, everything changed.  I was quickly dragged into the pits of a grieving community while trying to tend to my own grief.  The priest sex abuse scandal had just erupted and working on the inside, I soon became witness to the grievous sins of the institution.  The Catholic Church that I had lived and loved plummeted to its death from the pedestal on which I had placed it.  The election of Cardinal Ratzinger as pope only hastened its demise.  I soon discovered that my home was no longer a home.  Yes, I had a choice.  I could stay, comply and die the slow death of strangulation and spiritual execution, or venture out into the wilderness to see if God would make me a way.  God did, but mostly I felt like the Israelites in their 40 year journey through the desert, wondering where in the world I would find food and water and what the hell was I thinking leaving my slave drivers behind?  At least I had food on my table and a roof over my head.  In the desert, I quickly learned, you’d better be creative, learn to eat unfamiliar foods and expect to be paid in unexpected ways (or not at all!).

It’s been a slow and arduous journey, but what I also discovered is that the desert serves an important purpose – to teach us what really, really matters and how to rely on God.  Because in the desert, there is really nothing else but God and your own ability to find God where God might not otherwise be found.  I have found God in some of the most interesting places.  Student loans and credit cards first come to mind.  How else does one survive in the desert when there is no other nourishment to be found?  Not unlike the Israelites who wondered, “what the heck is this stuff on the ground you are asking us to eat?????” (which may in fact been some sort of insect….ewwwww!)  Won’t I die or at least get shunned by society for accumulating debt related to my time in the desert?  Maybe.  But it’s the choice God gave me.  That and the lesson of how to receive donations and help from family, friends, and even strangers.  “Get over your pride Lauri, and learn how to receive, and for God’s sake….quit judging.  ‘Good girls’ DO take out loans to support their businesses and your loans are nothing compared to what others have asked to receive for themselves.  Get over yourself and be grateful for the choices, however unconventional they might be!”

What else matters in the desert?  Family, friends and strangers who bear the face of God.  First of all – my children.  My children mean more to me than anything else in the world  and for them I have made many sacrificed while journeying through the desert.  They too have made sacrifices and for their willingness to do so….I am grateful.  They unconditionally believe in and support the work I do (perhaps because they know that my love for them absolutely comes first!) and if it means we still have fat TV’s….then so be it.

Family.  There are no words to express my gratitude for my family for putting up with the path on which I’ve been led.  My parents especially – for all the ways my path has challenged or confronted their own beliefs, attachments, familiar ways of knowing and understanding things.  I’m sure it hasn’t always been easy….but love has always won out in the end.  My parents are the best and I am so grateful for all their love and support!

Friends.  I could not be where I am today without my community of friends and fellow world changers….in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, of all places.  Many of us are not from here and wonder what the heck we are doing in Oshkosh and what brought us here of all places.  Yet, here we are….and we all found each other.  For those unfamiliar with Oshkosh, it is conservative, traditional, parochial and a smallish town of only 50,000 some people.  And Oshkosh is very separated – by a river, by a highway, by a railroad track, by religion, by “East Side” and “West Side.”  Oshkosh is a town full of contrasts and dualities – the last place in the world you might think to find all these “lightworkers.”  But, here we are.  Perhaps it is all this separation that drew us because the need for unification is so great?  I don’t know.  But, it’s been a great place to raise a family and my friends here just rock!  The people are reserved, but friendly and if you are patient and wait long enough, the bonds here grow very deep such that those who let you in would literally give you the shirt off their back.  And for those who have given “their shirts” to me, I am eternally grateful!

Special thanks to a hand full of friends who have the same kind of crazy dreams as I do and who have believed in and supported my crazy dreams (as I have supported theirs), especially when I have been tempted to stop believing myself!  And thank you to my online family at TWYH!  Your words and journeys have sometimes been the only thing keeping me afloat.

So, here I am looking out into the promised land.  My journey has come full circle with the original vision still intact – the vision to bring forth a new/original way of being Priest(ess) and Church in the world.  And the funny thing is that while the Institutional Church might not see it this way, what I am doing is One with the mission of the church.  So while I thought I was leaving the Church behind, I find that I never left at all.  (more on that later this week!)  God is funny that way!

Posted in Being Human, Faith, God

Virtual Church – “Why all the Grumbling?”

This week’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service is LIVE!  Click here:  http://yourspiritualtruth.com/virtual-church/weekly-service/  to find the 18 minute service.  The theme this week is “grumbling” – all the ways we are tempted to lose our faith in God.  We explore this theme through the experience of the Israelite’s journey through the desert in their search for the promised land.

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Faith, God, Spiritual Practices, the bible, Virtual Church

Virtual Church – Spiritual Practices

Below is a copy of the Agape’ Meditation Newsletter which is a supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church worship service.  If you would like to subscribe and receive this newsletter in your email every week, please click on the Constant Contact icon below. 

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

Scripture Reading:

MoseswaterrockIn those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?
Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?” So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? a little more and they will stone me!” The LORD answered Moses, “Go over there in front of the people,  along with some of the elders of Israel, holding in your hand, as you go, the staff with which you struck the river. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb. Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink.” This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel. The place was called Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled there and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

Exodus 17: 3-7

 

Additional Readings:

Ps 95: 1-2, 6-9

Rom 5: 1-2, 5-819, 20, 22

Jn 4: 5-42

Hindsight is 20/20

As Paul said in his letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is the realization of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen.” (Heb 11:1)

Sometimes in order to have belief, or to strengthen a weakened belief, it is helpful to look back over our life experiences for evidence of the Presence and Action of God.  Taking the time to recall all the places in our life where we can see the loving action of God helps to strengthen us in times of struggle and gives us appreciation for all the ways in which God has been present to us throughout our lives.

 

Spiritual Practices:

On a blank sheet of paper, draw a horizontal line.  At one end of the line, put the number zero.  At the other end of the line, write your current age.  Between zero and your current age, mark along the line, significant events of your life.  Choose one of those events and place yourself back into the experience, using your imagination to recollect the details of the event.  Allow yourself to once again experience the emotions and feelings associated with the event.  Allow the story to unfold in your mind until it comes to its natural conclusion. Then reflect on the following questions:

1)       How are you now aware of the Presence and Action of God in the course of that event?  Some examples might be – significant people who accompanied you in the experience, or showed up as examples of love and support.  Other examples might be related to solutions to problems, guidance and support that seemed to come in a miraculous or startling way.

2)      How has that event continued to influence your life?  How has God continued to be present to you as you life unfolded from that event?

Authentic Freedom

In this week’s reading, the Hebrews were confronted with the very real fear that they would die of thirst in the desert.  From the perspective of Authentic Freedom, the fear that arose in them was the fear that there is not enough. This fear caused them to doubt the decision they had made to leave behind the life of slavery they had known in Egypt and follow Moses to the “promised land.”  Their grumbling and the remedy to their grumbling is a reminder for us as well – when we are afraid that there is not enough, to turn toward God.

How are you aware of the fear “there is not enough” as operating in your life?

Where are you tempted to doubt that God will provide for all of your needs?

How are you being invited to turn toward God when you are afraid?

Posted in Lessons

Exiting the Desert

Today’s blog explores the desert stage of the spiritual journey and the process through which we are invited to exit the desert and enter into a new life.



Desert Time

I’m back…..or so it seems!  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers of support as I tended to my parents during and post-surgery.  (my father had both kidneys removed on April 19th).  Even before taking this medical hiatus, I had been invited into the spiritual desert.  I had moved out of the home I had shared with my husband (soon to be ex) and children for the past 13 years and into a friend’s basement.  My business came to a screeching halt.  My book was put on what seemed like eternal hold.  I was forced to enter into the desert where I would be forced to let go of everything I thought I knew about myself, about my life path, about my hopes, dreams, desires, professional aspirations, etc.  I was forced into the desert seemingly without financial resources or security, etc.  and had nothing to hang onto except my faith in God and trust in the loving support of family and friends.  I knew the desert was where I was being sent when in frustration I shook my fist at God and said, “Ok, now what am I supposed to do?  And the answer I received, “Forty days in the desert.”

Desert Lessons

So, here is what I learned in the desert:

  • Be wary of temptation – temptation to indulge my compulsions, my fears, my ego.  In the desert (as Jesus discovered)….is where temptation lives.  I came face to face with all my unhealed wounds, fears, false-perceptions, attachments….even those I thought were good attachments, like the desire to buy a house and to stay in Oshkosh for the rest of my life.  HHHMMM
  • Live in the moment – in the desert, you have NO CHOICE but to live ONE MOMENT at a time!  No plans, no agenda, no itinerary, no schedules allowed in the desert.  In this way, we are forced to listen to our inner guide and make choices in the moment.
  • All needs will be met….in abundance.  I know, crazy, right?  But true.  During my time in the desert, I saw very few clients, taught no classes.  All my regular sources of income had dried up to close to nothing.  But what happened?  Money came to me literally out of NOWHERE!  An unexpected royalty for a class I developed that was being taught by a colleague and an unexpected tax refund.  In the end, God provides!
  • Be open to surprises.  In the desert, God startles us out of our complacency, our personal agendas and hidden plans and changes all the rules.  God’s startling revelations, I find, are WAY better than anything I could ever have imagined myself!

Exiting the Desert

As my fortieth day in the desert approached (which was ironically, Easter Sunday), an awareness settled upon me that my time in the desert had been served and that the road out was now set before me.  I’m still not sure where this new road will be leading, but I am trusting, waiting and watching….and most importantly, not stepping until I am sure it is time to step….not speaking until I’m sure I’m called to speak, not sharing until I’m sure I’m called to share.  What I do know is that the road out seems to be leading to a new life….a life unexpected….a new direction but one that feels VERY VERY familiar.  And, when I know exactly what that is….you will be the first to know!

Where have you experienced the spiritual desert in your own life?

What were your lessons in the desert?

What was the new life that you found on the other side of the desert?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com


Posted in Surrender

Radical Surrender

Today I explore the invitation while in the spiritual desert to embrace radical surrender – a challenging task for anyone, most especially those like me who revel in order and routine.

 


Thriving on Routine

I have a confession to make.  I am a “J”.  Now, let me explain what that means.  In the Jungian inspired personality profile, The Meyers-Briggs, there are sixteen basic personality types.  When I take the assessment, I score as an INFJ.  The “J” is the “judge” in the assessment and while I can certainly be judgmental and opinionated, the “judge” on the Meyers-Briggs has nothing to do with judgment.  Instead, it means that I thrive on and find comfort in routine, order and predictability.   Alternatively, spontaneity, lack of routine and disorder cause me anxiety and stress.  I am such a “J” in fact, that when I take the assessment, I answer EVERY question in this category appropriate to the “J”.

No Room for a “J” in the Desert

So, how do you think my “J” is faring during this time of spiritual desertness?  NOT VERY WELL!!!!!   Every single ounce of predictability, order, routine has been pulled out from under my feet.  AAARRRGGGHHHHH!  My inner “J” wants to run screaming in terror from this time of disorder.  Fortunately, through years of spiritual practice and working in environments where my “J” has been forced to relax a bit so that I could learn to embrace a little flexibility in my life, I’m not as anxious as I once might have been.  And it is a good thing because there is no room for a “J” in the spiritual desert.

Embracing Radical Surrender

Instead, I find that I am invited to embrace RADICAL SURRENDER.  OUCH!  Radical surrender means just that – no order, no routine, no predictability, thereby no safety and no security.  OUCH AGAIN!  Embracing radical surrender means that I have absolutely NO CHOICE but to live IN THE MOMENT.  I have to take each moment as it comes and deal with what is presented.  No planning.  No anticipating.  No organizing.  No strategizing.  And let me tell you, THIS IS A LEAP.  But, apparently in the time of spiritual desert, there is no other choice.  So, this is what I am trying to do. 

The Benefit of Radical Surrender

While my inner “J” recoils at the idea of surrender, I am finding there are benefits.  Strange, but true.  I am finding that as I relax into this time of radical surrender, there is a peacefulness that comes in not planning, not anticipating, not strategizing.  Strangely, radical surrender cuts way down on the worry factor…because in truth, there is nothing to worry about if you don’t know what is coming next.  Radical surrender also allows me to take things simply as they come without falling into judgment.  Surrender allows me to be more of an observer in my life rather than the judge and jury.  Surrender also allows me to see more clearly the gifts that present themselves when I allow myself to let go and let God.  So, perhaps there is something to be learned by my inner “J” as I move through this desert experience.  It does not mean, however, that I don’t look forward to the day that I might again have some sort of routine in my life.  AAAAHHHHH

Where have you been invited to embrace radical surrender?

What are the tools that have helped you move through that state?

What were the benefits?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Lessons, Surrender

40 Days in the Desert

Today’s blog explores the process of divorce in the journey of spiritual growth and the invitation to enter into the spiritual desert.

Moving through this transition of divorce has brought up surprise after surprise after surprise.  On March 15th (I know, “Beware the ides of March”), I moved from my home of 12 years into a new temporary living situation.  Making this transition has presented many unexpected surprises and unanticipated challenges.  On Sunday, March 20th while contemplating these unexpected challenges during yoga class, I heard the following words:

“40 days in the desert.”

HHHMMM….hearing these words immediately brought to mind the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert.  The story, as it is told in the Christian scripture, is that Jesus, when confronted with his Divine call, fled to the desert for a time of personal retreat, fasting, prayer and that during this time he was tempted by the inner obstacles to his spiritual freedom and to his ministry (as represented by the figure of “Satan” – which means obstacle or adversary).

 

So, I guess I have entered into my own desert time.  So, what comes with being in the desert?

  • Discomfort.
  • A Change in routine.
  • A foreign environment and atmosphere.
  • An end to what we have known and thought we knew.
  • Potential dangers
  • An opportunity to come face to face with fears, illusions, false perceptions
  • An opportunity to explore your truth and to face the temptations to doubt your truth
  • A feeling of being lost and without direction
  • A lack of landmarks
  • Exposure to the elements
  • An invitation to be cautious of the environment, the potential dangers, etc.
  • An invitation to be watchful but also to trust

 

I image that these are the same struggles Jesus faced during this time in the desert and are the same struggles we all face when we are invited (or seemingly forced) into our own desert time.  In the desert, we are really without the usual supports, securities, etc. that we are used to and are tempted to think that we are alone in this time of desert solitude.  If we look to scripture, however, we are reminded that during his time in the desert, Jesus was not alone.  Scripture tells us that he was ministered to by the angels.  I find comfort in this as I face my own desert time.  In this, I am being invited to trust in Divine providence and to trust that even in this God is here, ministering to me.  I also find comfort in the knowledge that the desert does not last forever.  If the words of the Divine that spoke to me in yoga are to be taken as truth, then my time in the desert will be but 40 days.  And the coolest thing??   40 days from the ides of March is EASTER SUNDAY!   How appropriate!

 

When have you been called to enter into your own desert experience?

Where did you find strength and comfort?

What was the new life you found on the other side of the desert?

 

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com