Nourish Your Soul: How We Heal & Other Lessons from a Chick Flick

san salvatore

Pausing from our typical “food blog” today, I want to share some nourishing thoughts with you that have awakened something new and good in me.

Yesterday I attended a fascinating workshop on a method for “parenting children in hard places” called TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention based on the book, The Connected Child by Karen Purvis).  I cannot stop thinking about some of the insights gained, lessons taught, stories of hope shared — and  applying them to everything I know about spirituality, relationships and healing. All night and even as I woke this morning, I’ve been having the sort of “A-ha!” moments that feel like mini-explosions in my mind, miracle shifts in understanding. 

The main theme that my friend Amanda Purvis (one of the teachers of the workshop) shared, from a deep heart level (sometimes with tears),  is that everyone needs to feel their “preciousness” … in the same way that a mother gazes adoringly at her baby in the crook of her arms; or as adults, I imagine this is the way my husband Greg looks at me, his sure blue eyes willing my oft-insecure brown ones of his steady delight, his forever love.  As if I am the only woman who exists for him in all the earth.

 Dr. Dan Siegal, in his insightful  book  The Whole Brain Child, alludes to emotional health as helping ourselves and our children live in a “river of well-being.” This sort of balanced existence begins with knowing we are, in the deepest center of our being, “The Beloved.”  (Borrowing from the classic by Henri Nouwan.) Children who do not have this sense of “preciousness” grow into adults who do not know this, so at some level, in bad ways and good, they search for this feeling of belonging and being cherished all their lives.

All of us have some trauma, big and small, and each one affects our brain chemistry at the moment. To be bereft of comfort or love after trauma, however, sears our brains with pain; the way we view our world can become skewed and harsh and fearful. But God’s heart is to never leave us “comfortless” and we can heal when we are truly seen, heard, allowed our voice and treated with respect by someone willing to be a loving vessel for God’s love.

In other words, we heal as we see ourselves “precious in His sight” ….. then, in time,  we become Wounded Healers (borrowing again from the language of Nouwan),  as we allow ourselves to see the “preciousness” in others. We can stand in the gap for El Roi, “The God Who Sees Me” … as we look deeper at one another, and point out the beauty we find there.

Last night Greg and I watched one of my all-time favorite films, Enchanted April.  I saw its redemptive themes in fresh light, having just come from a class on how helping wounded children to see their “belovedness” heals  and brings them new life.  In short, the movie is about four women from the 1920’s who, each longing for  an escape from their lives, pool their money together to rent an Italian Villa by the sea, “San Salvatore”.  (I realized that even the name of the villa, “Savior”, foreshadowed what was to come.)   

san sal 2

Lottie, the discontented but lovable wife –who was the most anxious to flee her life for a month — is the first to wake to lost joy as she allows the beauty of sea, flowers and hills to melt and soften her heart. Then,  as she soaks in this balm, feels herself wholly Beloved, she meanders in and out of the other characters’ lives.  She says to each person, in her own way , no matter how cranky, or disconnected, vain, or insensitive they are (in the midst of their brokenness and ugliness),  “I see inside you, I see the real you. And you are unbelievably precious. In time, you’ll see it too.”  She is what some might  call a “Christ-figure” in the movie, touching every character and leaving them with a feeling of having been truly seen, messiness and all, and found worthy of love and tenderness.  In time, thus loved by a human friend and rocked in the lap of nature, each woman awakens to love and beauty, and one by one, each experiences their own unique April of soul. 

four women better

The women of Enchanted April. “Lottie” is the tallest in this picture.

At the end of a movie a formerly bitter old lady, now feeling youthfully alive, leaves behind her walking stick, jamming it into the dirt. We see, through high speed film, that it blossoms into a flowering tree.  An old walking cane, returned to its original purpose, to be the trunk from which flowers draw their nourishment.  A symbol of how the warmth of love can re-purpose our old wounds, bringing us back to Eden and the way life was originally intended to be. When one woman heals, says an old proverb, she heals seven generations.  I do not know if this is true, but I know when one woman deeply realizes her belovedness, her very presence is healing to others.

May you feel your “preciousness” today, as you imagine God holding you, rocking you, gazing at you, delighting in you… His forever beloved child.   And may you pass this on to your children and your children’s children and all who come in contact with you in the present.

rach and jackson

A moment I captured as my daughter Rachel adoringly gazed into her son’s eyes (as he returned the gaze with equal delight). This is how God loves you.

“Yahweh, your God, is in the midst of you, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will calm you in his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:7         (World English Bible)


Is This Child For Real?

Note from Becky about this  blog:  Tricia Williford does an amazing daily blog at http://www.tricialottwilliford.wordpress.com.  Follow her blog to get updates about her upcoming memoir and tell her I sent you.

Just a few short years ago, my darling, beautiful, brilliant friend Tricia Williford lost her husband suddenly, two days before Christmas. He was at home and with complications of a flu-like illness, died in front of her eyes. Her gorgeous, honest memoir, And Life Comes Back, debuts in February. (She will also be speaking at Donald Miller’s Storytelling Conference that month. Here’s  a link to her fabulous blog about how THAT came about, titled The Night Donald Miller Changed My Life”

Anyway, her blog today so gripped my heart, I had to share it with you all.   When Tricia’s husband died,  her two adorable, freckle-faced innocent red-headed boys were just pre-school ages. Last week when one of the boys told a friend at school  that his Daddy died around Christmas,  the little friend didn’t believe it.  Likely because what child can believe that something like that can really happen? Who loses a Daddy? And of all times, at Christmas? My admiration for Tricia as a writer is only eclipsed by my admiration for her a single mother, a too-young widow whose faith has gone through the valley of agony and come out shining, like a Christmas star.  Every year I stay on the watch for a story or blog that pulls my heart into the essence of Christmas. This year, this is it.

tricialottwilliford

I heard some movement in my bedroom last night. I stirred and sat up to find Tyler kneeling next to my bed, his head rested on his folded hands.

“It’s okay, Mommy. I’m just praying for you.”

“You are?”

“Yes. I am asking God to give you good rest and a good night and so many good dreams.”

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Nourish Your Soul: Life is Like a Lazy Susan

lazy susan

It’s Nourish Your Soul Day! 

(Mama Becky)

Rachel and I have decided to begin expanding our blog to include more than just recipes to nourish your bodies.   We want to share thoughts, things, quotes, ideas, and more that nourish our souls.  We come hungry each day for more than daily bread; we long for joy, peace, calm, wisdom, laughter, new ideas, interesting things, clarity, space and meaning.  In fact, this will be the name of our next book… Nourished. (Due out Jan. 2015, with Zondervan.)

Greg and I are in a particularly challenging time of letting go of things, communities, and people who have, for one reason or another, moved on or out of our lives for now. I believe we’re in transition — between trapezes if you will — coming out of one season and now being “swept clean” as we wait for a new arrival or two.  We do not know what or who God is bringing to our attention and our lives next, but we anticipate the coming, we’re readying our nests for whatever, or whoever it may be.  Just as the leaves have to fall from the trees to make room for fresh growth, we are being called to let go of tasks that are no longer ours, to make room for fresh sprouts, new leaves.  ‘”Behold, I am doing a new thing.”

As I pondered this, the following word picture came to mind, and has been a comfort.  Perhaps it might also comfort and nourish you, today.

I think life is a little like bunch of bowls on a Lazy Susan in the middle of a table.  God turns the Lazy Susan and our job is to focus on the bowl he’s put in front of us that day. The other bowls — the ones currently out of reach – are being tended to by others (on the other sides of God’s big table) and are not part of our particular “job” or “focus” for this day. Give us this day our daily bowl.  Tomorrow we wake to a new bowl. Each day God gives us our portion and our lot, our manna, our daily bread… our bowl. To reach beyond that, across the table, to bowls that aren’t meant to be in our frame of concerns, tends to make a big mess.

What bowl has God put in front of you today?  What few things are yours, and yours alone to tend to, just for the hours between now and sleep?  Can you trust Him to use others to tend to bowls that are, for today, out of your reach?  If so, serenity is yours.