Monday, July 10, 2017

People of Empathy

"Nothing is more important than empathy for another human beings suffering.
Not a career.
Not wealth.
Not intelligence.
Certainly not status.
We have to feel for one another if we're going to survive with dignity."
-Audrey Hepburn


Empathy.
The meaning, the concept, of that word has been pounding against my heart for weeks before I put the feeling to a word.
Empathy.
I've found people don't really practice empathy, and its something that's even more so lacking in the church, among those who should be the most encouraging empathetic hearts of all. I'm not writing this to bring anybody down, but because I really feel like this is an area that needs some discussion time, as so many need this more than ever.

Let's jet to the book of John for a second, to the part when Mary & Martha are deeply suffering from the death of their brother.

"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Jesus wept." (John 11:33-35)

I love that so much because it showcases perfectly Jesus' compassion and empathy, even though he knew he had a solution coming, and he knew this grief would not be lasting.
He still felt moved for them. He still wept with them over their loss, and the confusion and hurt they were experiencing, even though he KNEW it was gonna be fixed. 
He didn't depreciate them by making light of the real pain they were experiencing just because he knew they wouldn't be weeping for much longer.
Instead he engaged in it. He ached with empathy for them, knowing the importance of mourning. If he didn't think so, he would have told them right then and there the whole picture.
He was being PRESENT in their moment.
Oh he's a real gem, dontcha think?

- Such a big part of choosing + practicing empathy has to do with being present.
Sure, maybe this pain isn't gonna last forever. Maybe there's a solution right around the corner. But it hurts right now. Empathy is valuing what the process looks/feels like right now. Its not about fixing it all up with a nice pretty bow, giving the world's greatest advice or telling them it's God's plan. Its about honoring where they're at, and grieving with them, so when they do move on to the next step, they've healed from the last.
It means committing, even for just 2 minutes, on being intentional to hear, to offer a look that says more than words.

You are equipped to extend compassion. People need real, people need to feel seen, not just observed and calculated. Put down the distractions and say no to connections you don't want to make, and focus that eagle eye on someone who matters to you, and listen like you wish to be heard. Weep with them. Be angered over the injustice. Have their back. Squeeze their hand and look deeply into their eyes for a sec. Don't rush em' or ask when they'll be over it. Be PRESENT.
YOU wish to be seen, extend that gift to someone who needs it.

We need more people who are willing to show the world with their actions what the holy spirit is like.

We rarely need a sweet piece of advice. But we do need intentional hearts, people brave enough to step into someone else's hurt and minister to them. Be a friend who sees and acts. Break the mould, pursue more than the simple fake answers. Care about the behind the scenes.
It sets you apart.
And we need that kind of different.

-Lauricia

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nourishment for the Soul | Having a Healthy Mindset About Food

I'm happy to be talking about food today.
I've grown up in a home where everybody learned how to cook and be great at it.
My dad didn't know how to boil an egg when he got married, and now I like to say he has a food anointing. Everything he makes tastes like it has an extra spice, an extra flavour, a sprinkling of magic. Whenever he makes a recipe, we're all eager to try it.
My mom excels at making something out of nothing. Like, how she does it I don't know. She sees a half empty fridge of a bunch of nothings and makes something delicious. Always from scratch. Recipes in her head. Its beautiful.
I'm still getting there. Haha.

I love food. I firmly believe that it feeds the soul if not more than it does your stomach. 


I had two very drastically different grandma's.
One was always counting calories, not eating healthy by far, but always talking about desserts &  anything hearty and how it would add inches to your waistline. "Should you really be eating that ice cream? Its gonna go straight to your stomach." I always felt like I was being watched and calculated when I ate around her. Wasn't a fun time. When I'd make a beautiful time consuming dessert, she'd take a crumb off the plate and say she couldn't possibly have a piece because it would make her fat. Hmm...Yeah, well, okay. Thanks a lot, Grandma.
On the other side, I had a beautiful bubbly grandma who definitely had lumps and roles, didn't eat as healthy as she should've, but she loved food. She incorporated it into all celebrations. Sleepovers were filled with whip cream sundays and hot chocolate. Bagels with cream cheese & tomatoes after lake swimming and ice cream later. She loved food and taught me subconsciously not to be afraid of it. She was so much fun. Later, because of health reasons, she had to watch what she ate more closely, but she never removed herself from the celebration of a good treat, even if she only had a piece and smiled while I had the rest.
They were polar opposites.
I constantly felt ugly and fat around my one grandma, versus beautiful and attractive when around the other. Their love for themselves came out in how they talked and did life around food. {How you view food is POWERFUL and affects those around you.}

I've heard so many people say,
"Learn to reward yourself with something other than food."
Hmm. I get the point they're trying to make with that. Don't pig out on fast food just because you worked out. Makes sense. Your body IS your temple, so take care of it. Don't feed it absolute garbage every time you do something good or healthy.
But...
Food is this glorious thing God created our bodies to NEED, desire, and want. He's creatively given us sooo many options because He wants us to enjoy it. He wants us to be fulfilled and satisfied. Food is an emotional thing. Its connected not only to our stomach, but our hearts.
Have you ever gotten home from a hard day and sat down with a bowl of your favourite meal and felt even a little bit better? Felt warm, taken care of, like goodness was still a thing? I'm not embarrassed to admit I certainly have felt that way. Its not unhealthy to admit food ministers to you. Its one of the many ways God encourages and nourishes our soul.

I was looking for a good food quote this morning for a picture of this delicious cheesecake that I'd made on the weekend, and I came away with this crooked look on my face and a mutter of disgust. Most of the quotes all ended with something about getting fat because of food, or how you should work your butt off after having a steak dinner, and I was like....WUT.
First things first: Stop eating out of fear.
Decisions made out of fear are the worst. You don't end up enjoying anything, and to top it off, worry ain't good for you. Worry's worse for your body than eating a whole pint of Haagen Dazs by yourself. So stop being afraid of what the food is gonna do to you. Stop being afraid of it giving you love handles. One unhealthy meal doesn't make you fat, just like one salad doesn't give you a six pack, got it? Balance. Eat healthy, eat quality food. Go on walks cuz they're good for you and they reset your hormones. Laughing works your stomach muscles, so do that a lot too. It makes you healthy I'm sure of it.
Celebrate full out. When you need extra soul food, do it. Go for it. Don't punish yourself for having carbs. Carbs are not the devil.
Eating is supposed to be enjoyable and fun, not stressful.

People sit down at the table to be fed. Emotionally, physically, spiritually.
To feel seen, cared for. To laugh, to enjoy community. Food brings flavour and contentment to any occasion. It soothes, it comforts. It brings back memories & creates new ones. It brings joy and feelings of happiness. Food is life. Food is not a curse, its a gift, and one God wants us to enjoy and be refreshed with.
Love your body and love the things you put into it. Enjoy the food you eat, don't eat it in fear. Don't starve yourself. Cook with butter. Use cream. Red meat is good for you, unlike what they all say. Gluten should probably be avoided, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it sometimes. Eat ice cream, but get the good kind. Be free. I like to say the food will go exactly where I want it to go. Are you in charge or is the fear? Have fun. Above all, LOVE YOURSELF. Every decision made out of love is gonna feel good, and be good for you.

Love, the girl who just made her first cheesecake in years and looooved it,
Lauricia

p.s. The media lies about fat. Not body fat but fat in foods. They're messed up. Healthy fats AIN'T bad for you, so eat up. You need them. The end. Lauricia out.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Women At Rest + Feminism

Happy Monday, ladies!
This weekend I got thinking about different women I've known + observed over the miles.
So much diversity, so much beauty and so many different strengths. The stories are countless. Some heroic, some settled, some bitter, some radiant.

Women have been a big topic as of late. (I mean, we always are, buuuut..... ;)
With a new president, whom is not female, though it could've been, plus the women's march, plus the feminism topic rising in popularity, there's been a lot of focus on women, equal rights, our worthiness, our strength, etc.
I wanted to talk with y'all about rest, and feminism, and standing for things. These are just some of my thoughts on the matter. We all have different perspectives to offer to the table, and this is mine...
Let'z chat it up, gurl.

First I feel its important to address where I stand on women, so nobody's confused.
We rock.
I stand for women. I stand for men. We are equal. We are both needed and immensely important.
Women should be able to have a voice just as men do.
Women are not beneath men, neither is it the other way around.
Women are not less.
As for women in the church, "where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom."
There should not be limits in what is acceptable for a women in the church simply because she is female.
Women preach. Women teach. Women minister. Women lead. AMEN.

Alright, now that that's been settled...

I've been thinking about women at rest.
Honestly, you don't see it too much when you look around, but when you do see it, you really see it.

If you're still with me, don't fall off your horse just yet, we're gonna talk about an underwear model as an example ;)
Her name is Ashley Graham.
When I first stumbled across an interview with her, I was blown away.
Not only did she not possess that popular hollow vacancy most models seem to have, but she truly shone. She was radiant. And what really got me, was that it was true, without a doubt, that she adored who she was. She'd been labelled a plus size model, that she was "pretty for a big girl" and hated on for leading a bad example by being so "big." But there she sat. She knew who she was and every last inch of her, cellulite, bumps lumps and curves, she really loved.
And I felt beautiful just looking at her. Because she was at REST. And it was spilling out on everybody who looked on.

You'll find women at rest don't have to try to push a point. People often start following along simply because it felt so freeing to live life thinking & doing like that rested woman did.
I've watched this happen to others and to myself.

I follow a truly amazing woman on Instagram called Terrica. She has completely transformed my mindset about rest, and I've found myself getting lost in her writings, not because she stands at the pulpit and preaches her guts out, commanding everybody feel as she does, but because she just is, and to witness that is peaceful. So I continue on following her because her peace is addictive.
Like I said, proving a point isn't necessary to changing the world to think like you. People are attracted to someone confident enough in their beliefs that they rest in them.
*Being at rest is not the same as being passive. Let them not be confused as the same thing.

Maybe you're asking, what about standing for things? Speaking up?
Being at rest doesn't mean you don't speak, it means you speak from a different position.
Women like Lisa Bevere, Christa Black (!!!!) and Abi Stumvoll are some great examples of fiery women who PREACH IT with zest and passion. They are raw. They are honest. But it doesn't feel harsh, and it doesn't feel like a rally to "join their opinion." It feels like peace. It feels empowering. It feels like love wrapping around you for the first time. It feels like the true strength & beauty of women finally being revealed in all its glory. Its not sparkles and rainbows, but it is beautiful.

Right now a lot of women are angry. And for many reasons, I'm sure for a lot of them they have valid reasons. The frustration of not being valued equally because you are female, is positively infuriating.
And its not wrong to be upset about that. Its not wrong to be upset about wrongdoing. In-fact, its healthy.

A lot of us are wound up and ready to blow over the constant pressure to prove ourselves and be heard, that having a voice about problems can become harsh and "believe what I believe or else" with the world at gunpoint.
And before you know it you've got an army of angry women ready to level anything and anyone that remotely sounds like its against and or different, than their way of thinking.

Hear me out, its not wrong to be angry. As you might remember, the bible talked about righteous anger, and if anyone understands being angry, I really do.
There's just three important things to remember when you're madder than a hornet & ready to flatten:
1. Not every battle is meant to be won on social media.
Its not an issue of tip-toeing around subjects or people, its just basic wisdom.
2. If its a public issue, political or otherwise, make sure the information you're being fed is truthful. Snapchat articles don't count. The belief that a popular celebrity has about it shouldn't be your confirmation that the information is credible. Facebook's trending section shouldn't solidify your suspicions. Would you trust this source to talk honestly about you? No? Than don't allow their "fake news" to be the truth you base your beliefs upon.
3. Not much can go wrong when 1, you speak with honor, and 2, you stick to what you say you stand for. If you believe women need to come together and be strong, stop bringing down your fellow woman and speaking smack. WALK the TALK. Being the "voice for women" comes with great responsibility. With class, ladies, with class.

...................................................................

God is so into powerful women. He's so into us being leaders and teachers and world changers. He wants our voices to be heard because he knows we have something so important to offer the world. So shine on. The permission you need has been given from the moment He breathed life into you. Rest easy. You don't need to wrestle your way in to be seen as important and equal. You already are. Be kind. Lead with class. You don't have to do it like a dude, ladies. Be at rest with yourself and your worth, and what you say and do will leave the world speechless.

-Lauricia

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Commitment, Trauma & Toxic Relationships

"Keep trying."
"Don't give up on them."
"This is the beginning. It's just starting today."
I heard it all said many times this past weekend.
Commitment is quite something. It's something I'm deeply deeply passionate about. Pursuing people. Not walking out on the relationship when its hard.
See, so many people don't value commitment. They haven't learned the importance of sticking it out with people. For many, friends are disposable. If the price is too high, they can let it all go and find a replacement in no time.
I am not that person. I've had enough relationships where values were not matched and I was on the receiving end of "sorry, you're not worth the effort. #movingon"
It's no fun stuff.
Loyalty was one of my biggest values when I was younger. I knew I was that friend.
The one you could count on. The one who was always there. The one who didn't make you feel stupid when you were low. The one who invested whole-heartedly.



But, on the other side of things, there's unhealthy commitment. (AKA, codependency.)
Where the relationship is abusive. Toxic. There's no healthy compromises, no communication, double standards. When effort is one-sided. When there's no willingness to grow, change, learn, apologize and do better.
And when that's the case, oh man, lemme tell you, God does not require you to stay where you are being abused.

But a lot of people in the church don't understand that, and so they circulate the same message, over and over again,
"Don't give up on them, you need to stay and keep trying."
Ever heard the saying, "Don't prune a dead tree."? Exactly.

There are times to stick it out. Times when circumstances are hard and less than ideal, but you're called to that person at that time.
And as we have the courage and the grace for those times, there are also times to sever ties, to move on, because its unproductive & destructive, and God does not call us to relationships that will continually damage us and are incapable of bearing fruit.


I'm reminded of Moses, when he came back to Egypt to get his people free. He didn't go in all guns blazing, saying he was gonna level Egypt and all its people. He went in friendship, he went with honour, he went in peace. And he tried again and again. But Pharaoh would not listen, so much so to the point where God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and destroyed a whole bunch of Egypt and it's people because they would not learn or listen. The relationship could not progress. God freed Moses of having to participate in that crap show any longer.


There are gonna be people who come in and out of our lives, Christian and non-Christian alike, who have come from abusive relationships. Toxic situations where they have experienced the worst with either their family or their friends. People who have trauma from unspeakable circumstances with those who should've loved, cherished, and been safe connections.
We can't look at these situations with the same religious messages most of us have been taught from the pulpit.

To someone whose been through terrible abuse, emotional, physical or spiritual, the last thing they need from you, someone they are trusting as a safe haven, is to hear that they need to go back into the boxing ring. To try harder. To patch things up. To love harder.
Nothing will make them feel less safe with you than to know you heard everything that was done to them, and you're telling them to go right back into it.
I'm sorry, but that is not Christ-like, no matter how you slice it.
To the broken hearted we are supposed to be a representation of Jesus, heart broken and overcome with grief over how you've been treated, for that is what Jesus would do.
He would stand in the gap. He would stand for you. He would have your back. He would be thinking of your heart. He would want your healing. He would validate your need for agreement, that indeed, it was all so wrong and unjust.
He doesn't need any "mission" done at the expense of your heart. That is not how He operates.
God is great with new beginnings, but He also does endings, because He deeply values us and doesn't require us to stay in toxic waters, to be constantly scorned and abused.

-Lauricia