Saturday, February 25, 2012

Feels Like Home

For the past 4 or 5 months I've been studying some of the major religions of the world outside of Christianity, trying to understand where the Universe was leading me, and trusting the Divine to guide me to my personal truth. To be honest, most of them left me dissatisfied. I could agree with some of their beliefs, but others just didn't sit well with me for one reason or another. 

Then I found meditation and zen practice. I love the refreshment of sitting down, quieting my mind, and breathing deeply while listening to chants that speak of love for the Divine. I love living with the understanding that the Divine is in all people and things, and so all should be treated with respect and love. I love trusting that the Universe knows what should happen and that everything is as it should be.

It allowed me to leave behind the fear that had ruled my life when I was a Christian and replaced it with a peace I'd never experienced before. I could trust the Universe with myself and my family. I could love everyone unconditionally. I no longer felt that I was expected to judge everyone, because heaven and hell are here on earth, as we make them through our choices, and each person's path is his or her own. What freedom!

But I still felt like there was more for me. 

When I was a Christian I was taught that witches and anything having to do with them were evil and that I should keep myself as far away from them and their doings as possible. But somehow that didn't include novels, and any time I happened upon a novel about witches and witchcraft I was enchanted by all I read. I felt a draw, a kinship, with the "good" witches - those who were portrayed as being in tune with Nature and seeking to help those around them. I felt this so strongly that I even told some of my close friends that if my family hadn't "gotten saved" I probably would have been a witch. 

So when zen practices left me feeling not quite complete, I remembered the Path I had been drawn to when I was young, when I still knew how to listen to my heart. Meditating was great, and practicing mindfulness in everything I do is a wonderful practice, but I knew there was something more, and this time I had the resources to learn about it. I started reading about Wicca and Paganism, and I knew. 

Have you ever walked into somewhere you've never been before and immediately felt like it's where you belonged? That's how I've been feeling since I started studying Wicca, and every new thing I learn about it confirms that feeling.  

THIS is me. This is who I've always been. This is my Path. 

I'm Home.

I'm just beginning, and have so much to learn, and I'm still not sure where I'll end up. But the joy is in the journey, after all. And I believe combining some of the zen principles with Wicca will make me the kind of witch I'm meant to be.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Fork in the Road

It's official. *takes a deep breath*

I no longer consider myself a member of the Christian faith.

There. I said it.


It's been a whirlwind of a journey to this place, with a lot of personal challenges and grieving the loss of my image of myself on the way. Little bits of what I would call my "fundamentalist Christian beliefs" have been changing for a while. Bits of things that just didn't make sense to me anymore. Eventually, it became impossible for me to reconcile the small-minded hatefulness for "other" that I continued to see displayed by the Christian church with the loving Creator that I know. And it was that hatefulness that caused me to seriously start questioning other aspects of my faith.

For a while, I grasped tightly to at least the basics of what I'd been taught:
  • God created the Universe 
  • The Bible was God's Word 
  • Jesus was God's Son who came to earth as a sacrifice for the sins of the world
  • If one didn't acknowledge this gift and receive it (changing one's life in the process), that person would spend eternity in hell being punished for their lack of faith 
And then after quite a lot of seeking and research, I just realized I didn't believe it all anymore. 

I still believe that some form of Divinity is here in the Universe. "Here" meaning all around us and in us. But I can no longer believe the idea that a loving God would send people to hell simply because they picked the wrong name to call Him, or worshipped Him the wrong way, or didn't believe that Jesus was His Son. 

A few months after I rejected the ideas of hell and the need for a savior, I was talking to God as I had always previously done (as a Christian). It had been a while, because I was struggling with trying to figure out what I believed and what that meant. At first, I thought that since I wasn't a Christian anymore, maybe I shouldn't try to talk to Him the same way. But then I just reached out the way I had always done. And my questions were, "What now? How do I talk with you? Do I need to make changes in the way I pray? What does all this change mean?"

Now, when I say "pray" what I really mean is "have a conversation" with God. We've always had a pretty informal relationship. I never felt that I needed to kneel or close my eyes to talk with God. He was always just "there" whenever I reached out, even from my earliest memories.

I really wasn't sure what to do now. Everything had changed - my whole view of the Universe. So I asked, "How do we do this now that everything has changed?" And waited. Very clearly, the Voice that has always been God to me responded, "I haven't changed at all. Only your understanding of me has changed." And behind those words was the most peaceful feeling, and a smile. My mind was blown.

God hadn't changed at all! And He hadn't refused me entrance or chastised me in any way. At that point I finally felt like I understood. Whether I choose to call Him "Divine Spirit", "the Universe", "Krishna", or "Allah" - the Creator is still the same.

The Truth is One; the wise call it by many names. ~the Vedas
I now believe that we all are seeking God, we just learn (or choose) to worship in many different ways. I still believe that Jesus had an understanding of the Universe that few people (if any) in history had. Maybe Buddha did too. Maybe the Dalai Lama does. I'm not really sure about that part. But I think we can all learn much from Jesus and the many other wise men that have gone before us and are with us now.

All my life I have sought an understanding of God and a relationship with God, and that search has brought me here - to love. I choose love.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Change in Perspective

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common – this is my symphony.” ~William Emery Channing
I feel as though my whole life has shifted in the past 8 months. I have set myself on a quest for love, and to understand what it truly means to love everyone, without exception. It seems the closer I get to learning how to love everyone, the more I realize that what Paul said in First Corinthians Chapter 13 is so very true. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." 
So how do I put this into practice? That has been my question. I see the embodiment of this as loving everyone who I have considered "other" than me. It's easy to love people who are like me, in thought, action or deed. I believe the first step is to love those who are different from me, and who I have been taught to hate, despise, or consider "less than" for some reason.

I see (or hear of) Christians every day who are filled with hate for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) brothers and sisters. Christians who hate the followers of other religions (or other denominations), simply because they don't agree on the "way" to worship God. And there are many arguments that these Christians feel are valid to back up their hate and fear. But, isn't all that just a clanging cymbal or a sounding gong? 
Love. Choose love. Love first. Once you've learned to love, then see what God is saying to you about those "other" people. Because if you're seeking God through a mist of hate, it may be difficult to hear Him. 
After all, God IS Love.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Home is Where the People You Love Are

In my last post, exactly 6 months ago, I wrote, "...when you're loved unconditionally, it [home] doesn't have to be perfect." That thought is true. I have since learned that unconditional love must be accompanied by acceptance. Not agreement. Just acceptance. Without it, love is conditional.

When we moved from PA back to TX, we were invited to stay at Cheo's parents' house with them, my SIL and her 5yo daughter. We'd lived with them before, in Hawaii, so we figured we had a good idea of how it would be. But there was a new variable involved that we didn't realize would be a HUGE player in how we were treated. We had recently adopted and implemented a new parenting style, natural learning (aka unschooling,) that was frowned upon by Cheo's parents and sis. Add to that a breakdown in communication and understanding, and we were again in an untenable situation, living with others who simply didn't want us there, unless we changed to meet their expectations. 

Cheo and I spent quite a lot of time doing research and hammering out exactly what we feel is the right approach to parenting Zoe, and we weren't/aren't willing to compromise in that area. Once we realized that we were no longer welcome if we continued to disagree with traditional school and parenting approaches, we moved out as soon as was possible.

The way we've chosen to live is unconventional and non-traditional, but we didn't set out for it to be that way. After much research, observation and soul-searching, we have come to the conclusion that learning is a natural process of living, and that as we partner with Zoe to follow her interests, she will learn what she needs in order to live a full and happy life. We are also choosing peaceful (or mindful) parenting practices, which extend the idea that children will learn and do the things they need AS they need them to everyday life. This means that they will sleep when tired, eat when hungry, and will naturally learn to be a contributing member of the household/society without needing to be coerced or punished. 

We feel that modeling the behaviors and principles we find helpful and kind is the best way to instill those in our daughter. I think the following quote by Carolyn Coats demonstrates our feelings quite well, "Children have more need of models than of critics."

It seems that most people (including our families) have a really hard time seeing natural learning and peaceful parenting as viable options to school and traditional parenting. That doesn't mean that they AREN'T viable options; just that people don't see them as such.


More and more people are taking this approach to raising their children, and I expect that we will see many more adopting it in the future as it is proven successful at producing happy, well-adjusted adults.

Only time will tell. In the meantime, we are enjoying our wonderful life together - just the 3 of us.
Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. ~Aristotle

Sunday, January 9, 2011


We're back in Texas. This is home. And I cried today, thankful that we are back in a place where people love and accept us. A place where the people are actually happy that we are who we are - faults and all. 

Zoe's attitude and behavior have already improved tremendously. If anyone ever tells you that spending time with kids who don't have your values won't change the way your child acts, DON'T believe them. It may not change EVERY kid's behavior, but it changed mine. It will still take some time for her to adjust to the loving atmosphere we find ourselves in here. No yelling and little anger. What a welcome change. Don't get me wrong, it's not that everything's perfect here, that's impossible. But when you're loved unconditionally, it doesn't have to be perfect.

They say "Home is where the heart is." Well, my heart must be in Texas. <3 

Friday, December 17, 2010


Things seem to be getting better. There have been some apologies all around and it appears that everyone is trying to keep things friendly from this point forward. It doesn't change the fact that we need to move or that we have vastly different parenting styles. But it's nice to feel like we can get along again.

Really, we have a lot in common. But parenting can be a real deal-breaker.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Leaving Pennsylvania

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting."
~Mother Theresa

We're moving up the date of our move back to Texas. Originally it was the end of February. Now we're leaving at the beginning of January. Our hosts seem relieved that we are leaving sooner, as are we. The experiment of our two families living together has failed, I think. I would even say miserably.

I admit that some of the difficulties we experienced probably were entirely my fault. I'm not always the most tactful person. I really try to be diplomatic, but sometimes I fail. I'm sure they felt judged. I was definitely judging them. (I know this is bad, but am having a really difficult time NOT doing it.) I understand that they're doing what they think is best for their children. They're doing it the way they were taught. They definitely don't see things from my perspective. And they don't WANT to see it the way I do.

What do you do when you feel that someone else's kids are a bad influence on your child, or a parent's behavior is a bad model for ALL children? Typically, I would leave that play date (or whatever) and try not to spend much time with them in the future. But what if you live with them? What do you do then?  I think we found the answer. You move. You get away from that influence as fast as you can and pray that you can repair the damage that has been done to your child.

We'll live here for about 33 more days. My goal is to walk in love and kindness, and I hope that any break in our relationships will be mended by the time we leave. I'm praying for an understanding of how to walk in grace. That's all I can do. I hope it's enough.