Becca’s 2018 Advent Reflection: Stop & Wait
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Becca’s 2018 Advent Reflection: Stop & Wait
On the eve of midterm elections I thought it might be nice this week to focus on some helpful hints to keep us centered and grounded on our spiritual path. Enjoy.
Grateful to Guideposts for this great three-minute interview. Look for us in the November issue and feel free to share with your friends.
Kristin McWilliams, a talented organizer, leader, wife and mom, reflects in the following blog on her first year as an Executive Assistant to me at Thistle Farms. Read on to learn about why she sees it as a gift and how the work on the #thistleroad helps save lives.
This is my speech for the commencement at the Seminary of the Southwest.
We will always be busy, but if we have our eyes on the long-term goal of being faithful and the short-term goal of making time for God, everything else will fall into place.
Love Heals, Chapter 13
I was recently given the assignment to interview one of the amazing survivor leaders at Thistle Farms, and I am so grateful to be able to help share her words here on the Boss' blog. I know you'll love Ty as much as I/we do. #loveheals
"My favorite Thistle Farms product has always been the candle, and it will always be the candle. Everyday in the Circle, we light the candle for the woman who's still out there suffering in hope that they would find their way home. And I know now that someone lit the candle for me, for years before I ever made it to Thistle Farms."
--Ty, 2015 Graduate & Survivor Leader
If you've ever met Ty, you know her choosing something that provides light as her favorite product isn't a surprise. Her smile and kind spirit brighten the day for everyone she encounters. Employed as a Manufacturing Manager, her tasks range from inventorying products and assigning projects based on needs for the day to different team members, training new women, and getting in the mix herself as well whenever she can. So, whenever you purchase our products, you're taking something with you that carries the light women like Ty infuse into everything they make.
Ty describes her experience of being a Magdalene resident, graduate & survivor-leader as a gift beyond words. "In the beginning it gave me time to rest, to get myself together physically, mentally and emotionally. It also gave me hope, as well as helping me financially and giving me the resources I needed to take care of myself and my family," she says. Now that her experience has come full circle, Ty thinks it's "a thrill every time I see a new woman come through the door and knowing that they will receive the same blessings that I received."
Holding "love for every single woman on the team," she is also thrilled to be part of all the expansions and growth that her department has seen through the last few years. Ty explains, "Since I've been in Manufacturing, we've added 7 new machines, including equipment that allows us to pour up to 1500 candles a day if needed, as opposed to doing 100 just by hand." In other words, production is great, and the team and their capacities "are growing everyday."
For everyone who has supported Thistle Farms and helped make healing journeys like Ty's possible, she offers a sincere and heartfelt thank you: "Our supporters and all their contributions are changing lives. It allows us to buy new machinery and provide new employment opportunities. It allows us to bring in new women to the residential program. The love from our community partners and friends is just a blessing all around."
Abi, the Director of Thistle Farms Global, just returned from the Syrian Refugee Camp in Ritsona, Greece, where the women of The Welcome Project are still leading with strength, grace, and hope in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances. Abi returned with stories of hardships, both new and old, and more importantly, women overcoming them.
In that spirit, the following is guest blog that was written by Thaura that was originally posted on I AM YOU’s Instagram. She is a survivor of war, the violence of poverty, and vulnerability of homelessness. What a gift to be able to share her story here.
As Thaura writes about wanting things that so many of us take for granted—warm running water, the means to cook nourishing food for her family, and the longing to be reunited with the country and people that she loves—may her words inspire all of us to continue our work to love the whole world, one person at a time…
A Mother's Story
When we first came to Ritsona, there was only cold water. We lived in tents, and all the people in the refugee camp shared a few showers, where we also had to wash all our clothes. It was hard times.
My husband was already in Germany. He left Turkey before us while the borders where still open, so I was alone with my three children. They all had their own problems, and having to keep their spirits up in camp was heavy. It was hard for my husband also, not to be able to help me. But at least we were able to talk over the phone to support each other.
We had already left Damascus and my husband’s tobacco shop already in 2015 to go to Salamia (city in Western Syria) where my family lived. My son had to leave his psychology studies after only a year of being in the program. But we had to leave also Salamia when Daesh (ISIS) came. We fled to Turkey and stayed for a year. When we got to Chios in Greece, the borders where closed, but we could still leave the island to reach Ritsona.
Things have gotten much better in Ritsona. We live in ISO boxes (converted shipping containers) and have communal kitchens. I am able to cook a lot on my little stove outside my house as well. When we first came here, we only had the bad army food that we tried to make more tasty by adding spices and other ingredients. Now we can make the food ourselves, and since we get the same vegetables and spices as in Syria, we can make the food we are used to…
In October of 2017, I joined the Welcome Project. We are weaving mats from blankets and life vests. It's a very good project. We do something during the days that is worthwhile, and we earn money. I hope I could continue with the same kind of work when I get to Germany, but if not, then I could take Merkel’s place!
It's been almost two years now since we came to Greece. We are still waiting for the family reunification tickets to go to Hannover (Germany) to my husband and my eldest son. But if the war ends, I want to go back to Syria—to my parents and the beautiful landscapes of Salamia.
--Thaura Mustafa, Refugee & Survivor Leader, 43
There is a new word out there in the waves called Bodyfulness (think Mindfulness). I believe the idea is to connect being present in our bodies with wholeness and peace. Maybe one of the ripple effects of #metoo is understanding what embodiment means.
We all need to be safe and grounded in our actual body if we want to be at peace in our work or home life.
Our bodies remember everything and differentiating our bodies and our minds is of little consequence, as we realize our minds live inside our bodies. I think an important theme for us this year will be about taking care of our individual bodies and our collective body. I thought a tagline to use is #embodylove.
This figure of speech means we ground love into the very core of who we are. If we embody love, then peace joy and justice will flow naturally from us. If we can't embody love, we will still be acting with fear and shame. There are lots of things to think about with this idea, but I just want to get our wheels turning.
I remember when Thistle Farms first bought the building on Charlotte Ave. It was shortly before the flood in Nashville in May 2010. When my husband Marcus drove me over to look at the location there was just a huge mud yard on the side of the building.
But there was one Thistle growing up out of that mud, and I took it as a sign.
As I was entertaining a group at the Cafe recently (Thank you to Trish, the Cafe Events Manager) and Kristin, my Assistant) and bussing a few tables myself, all I could think about was what a well-oiled community Thistle Farms has become in every department. You can see professionalism, growth, charity and love exuding as effortlessly as the lavender wafting through the vents.
That afternoon, there were groups of women laughing and talking during a break and even a group from the Nashville Sexual Assault Center learning about how to serve survivors. It is amazing to behold and I'm so proud to be a part of it. Everyone is a testimony to how love heals. From the oils that we lavish this world with to the amazing food to the kind words--it all is healing.
Thank you to everyone who made that day possible. We're only hitting our stride.
In celebration of my new book Love Heals coming out on September 5th, I wanted to share some of my favorite passages on here with you. Let's start with a poem:
The story of faith begins with the unfolding of God's love over the earth. Love is written into the very fabric of creation. Throughout Scripture we read about love's healing power, from the first vision of a garden with a tree of life until the last vision of a kingdom where that same tree stood, with the leaves that were made for "the healing of the nations" (Revelation 22:2). Today we can imagine the roots of that tree running under our feet, calling us to remember God's healing power all around us and in us...
God's Green Earth
There are days when hillsides blush in tenderness
And moments when valleys are unshadowed.
There are seasons when streams roll with justice
And all creation blooms where it is planted.
There are times when we feel God's pulse
Through lapping waves, clapping trees,
And the woodpecker's happy drumming.
There are mornings when we feel the sunrise
Like warm tea on the backs of our throats.
There are spaces where even weeds
And crawly things call us back to grace.
That is when our hearts sing "alleluia"
As we fall in love with God's green earth.
(I can't wait to share this book with you. So excited. Thank you to everyone who has preordered it.)
Weep with the willow, as the forest burns
And the land cries out,
Dance with the girl banging her tambourineWho sold her heart to playFor those who can still hear music.
Wail for the wilting kudzu,
Once your enemy,
That is choking from judgement.
Search for pilgrims who lost their shores
To poverty and war
Combing the beaches for home.
Raise your arms in an act of peace,
Which defies the laws of gravity,
Holding up a rusted ploughshare.
Pray for sanctuaries desecrated
Because they withhold bread
To uphold stale doctrine.
Lose everything we took for granted,
Stored in secret closets,
With graceful surrender
Then use what is left and offer itTo the neighbor who needs it more,For Love's sake.
peace and love,
I hope this letter can serve me as a reminder that hope rises as an unexpected joyful gift. I do not believe we can expect hope. Hope lives in us and is a gift of grace that washes over us. It is by nature a transformative reality of living into our greatest desires. If love heals and hope transforms, then it's helpful to remember that every dawn can break forth with a sense of hope. The first inklings of that sense of hope begin by remembering that sunrise starts before even the dawn. It was a slight change in tone that called Mary Magdalene to head to the garden. The story of the resurrection begins with the words, "While it was still dark."
Excerpt from Letters from the Farm
Original Image Credit: Pixabay.com