I am HEARING again! By Denise Wikoff

I am HEARING again! By Denise Wikoff

Before I went through The Journey Training I thought I had my life pretty “together”, not perfect by any means but better than a lot of people. I was, of course, in complete denial! I was broken, bruised, scarred, and hurting. I could write pages of all I received from the training but I’ll save that for another time. What I will address is the fact that The Journey Training is not over at the end of Threshold or Crossroads, or even Launch – which I just completed.

After the training weekends, I continued to realize things that God was speaking to my heart long after I got home. I think God was always trying to speak to me but I had stopped hearing Him and had given up on the dreams He had placed in my heart long ago!  I knew, even as a young child, He wanted to use me. But over the years, I had let the weeds of my life choke out those dreams. My heart had been broken too many times and I had stopped going to the Father for comfort. When I returned home from Journey, I felt hopeful that I would possibly hear Him again and I told Him I was open to listen!

Yesterday, I was doing my grocery shopping at Walmart with my husband Beau. We both dislike shopping, especially Walmart shopping, so we are usually rushing to get our list knocked out and get out of there. We were getting bread when I saw a young black man, in his late teens or early twenties, looking down at a list that appeared to be typed out.  As I looked away to select my bread, I heard that still small voice say, “Give him 40 dollars!” My husband started off to the next aisle and I quickly followed.

I thought – oh that’s just me… how awkward would that be… he would probably think I was trying to look down on him because I am an older white woman and he is a young black man…  Isn’t that just like our stupid minds to get in the way? I then thought, do I even have $40 in cash? I looked in my wallet; and of course, the only cash I had was 2 crisp twenty dollar bills!

Well, I told my husband, “I just wanted you to know, because I told that still small voice: God if that’s you, that young man will need to cross my path again before we leave this store!” Beau just looked at me funny and continued on his mission to get out of the store!!  We got all the way through Walmart and were headed up to the checkout line and I said to my husband, “Well I never saw him again, it must have just been me!” I was partially relieved and partly disappointed that I had missed it!

We arrive at our well selected line; the shortest one we could find that had the most competent looking cashier. We were putting our items on the belt when I looked up; and guess who was in the line checking out at the lane in front of us? YUP, the guy! I was surprised, then excited, then terrified! I looked over at Beau and he looked at me like, what up bro?! He had no idea that was the guy and I sure wasn’t going to say it; he might hear me!

I retrieved the $40 out of my purse and had it tightly gripped in my hand. My mind was racing as I was trying to decide how I would do this without it appearing that I thought he looked like a homeless person; because he didn’t! While the young man was checking out, I paced back and forth between the 2 lanes as I was putting my own bagged groceries into my cart. The cashier gave him his total of $3.43. The young man looked surprised and said, “Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t know it would cost anything, I’ll put one of the gallons of milk back.”  He was using a WIC payment, which is assistance given to families with young children.  As he was reaching for one of the gallons of milk, I stepped over, handed him the $40, and said, “Sir, here. I’m supposed to give this to you.”  He said, “For real?” I said, “Yes!” He paid the man and as he was leaving said, “Thank you so much!” I just smiled and waved!

This seems like such a small thing but I’m crying as I’m typing this because it was a huge thing for me! It wasn’t about the money; God has blessed us.  It was about being able to hear God’s voice again and walking it out! It was about Him showing me that He is still there and still wants to use me!

I am so thankful that someone saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself and invited me to The Journey Training!  I’m also glad they didn’t let it rest until I finally agreed to go! I have my peace back; I have my hope back; I have my joy back; and I am HEARING again!

How’s Your Posture? By Alison Loyd

How’s Your Posture? By Alison Loyd

Have you ever noticed how a baby who has learned to sit up sits up so straight? I can remember noticing even as a kid how straight some women sat. To me, it made them even more beautiful.

I wish good posture came naturally for me, but because of a prenatal stroke it’s much harder for me. The most commonly used definition of posture is “the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting”. Participating in band, through high school and college, taught me to be disciplined with it. When in a concert ensemble and playing an instrument, you are expected to sit up straight and on the edge of the chair. This helps your breathing and playing. When marching, I had to work not only at standing up straight, but also with proper horn angle, while moving AND playing! Talk about discipline! Over time, I found myself doing these things naturally.

Many years after marching band, I found another cardio exercise I love – the elliptical! It’s much more suited for my body than running! I can remember noticing one time how balanced I’d become on it! I was standing up straight, not holding on, dancing away! My posture was great and my whole attitude had changed!

This reminds me of a tool I gained in The Journey Training. It’s called Ground and Center. When I carry myself in a grounded and centered posture, I feel tall, centered, and ready.

That brings me to another definition of posture: “a particular way of dealing with something: an approach or attitude”. This posture helps us react to life.  Trials and tribulations happen. The better the posture, the better we approach or react to them, and the better outcome we will have.

Are you critical of yourself in pictures? One of the worst pictures I perceive of myself is a picture from college, at my heaviest weight, pretty much leaning against the guy behind me. As I began losing weight, not only did I start to appreciate my posture physically in pictures, my attitude had also changed. My confidence skyrocketed and it showed!

I was remembering this recently as I looked at myself in the mirror. I’ve dealt with plenty of shame regarding my weight and how I look. Carrying the shame burdened my posture. The Journey Training taught me to change my perspective. Rather than holding onto the shame, I let it go, I chose to look in the mirror, stand up straight, shoulders back, and see the real me. There, now you look better, Alison!

Posture equals attitude. Change your attitude and you’ll change your outcome!

My Caricature By: Alison Loyd

My Caricature By: Alison Loyd

My school does a huge Art Day in the Spring and it’s amazing! This year we had painters, a potter, a whole cafeteria of activities for the kids, even a bagpiper and Vincent Van Gogh showed up! What was really amazing though was how one drawing could remind me of a very important lesson I learned in The Journey Training.

One of the artists was a caricaturist. If you’ve never seen a caricature, it’s a cartoon-like drawing that magnifies the most obvious features of the person or subject. I had one done years ago and was excited to have another. The teacher was the subject and the students got to watch. Despite my eagerness, I knew what the artist would pick up on because I remembered it being distinct from my last one. I knew when he finished, I would see a very large forehead and striking jaw. I’m self-conscious about this, but wanted to participate anyway. To involve my kids more, I had them tell the artist what I liked. One said coffee and another said football.

Then came the unveiling. Sure enough, he did a great job! I had a coffee cup and yes – a large forehead and jaw.

As I said, I predicted it, so it was an easier pill to swallow. I struggle with self-image issues, but my experiences with The Journey Training continue to teach me I don’t have to live there. We all have parts of us that are striking. It may be a jaw or large thighs. It may be a tall height or type of hair. It may be a bad temper or the tendency to hide behind happiness.

Those characteristics don’t define us. They just reveal aspects of ourselves that we are giving off. People may notice my chin, but that doesn’t make me ugly. People may see that I’m trying to be happy even when things aren’t good. It’s not bad, it’s just an experience.

The Journey Training gave me the freedom to receive and embrace feedback. It’s like a caricature, but this one can draw you into a better life!