letting go


For years my life revolved around my family, friends, church and job. In fact, much of the first half of my life involved growing things; growing our family and our church, my competency as a community nurse, and my relationships with extended family and friends. I also grew in my knowledge and affection for God, demonstrating my love for God by doing service for God. Serving the vision of the church. Serving people.  It was a fruitful season filled with joy and satisfaction. Mostly.


Every now and then I would experience dissatisfaction, a longing for something I couldn’t identify. I would dream of being more.  More what?  I couldn’t answer that. It was easier to identify what I didn’t want than put my finger on the itchy dissatisfaction bumping along below the surface of my consciousness.


I observed people shucking their normal lives and taking the plunge into following their dreams.  I looked in with amazement at their courage and wondered how they managed to get from the dreams in their hearts to living it out.  It looked easy, if a little risky, but the life in their eyes spoke to the adventure they were enjoying. I wondered if I would ever find the courage to step out of my comfort zone and follow my dream.


Six years ago I responded to a nudge from God and left my nursing job, trading it for increased time reading, praying and investing in relationships. I started writing.  About the same time, my husband, the Preacher, started taking his wooden bowls and vases to art shows.  I began a training program and became a certified spiritual director and the Preacher’s daughter-in-love opened an Etsy shop for the wood creations. In all this slow journey of creating art with our lives, hands and words, the Preacher and I began to dream of a larger space to grow our art. We found some land and are wading more deeply into realizing our longings.


Following a heart longing involves lots of invitations to let go.  It means hanging onto the desire and letting the tears of impatience and fear flow. To create what is in my heart to do and let the results up to God; to let go of my timing and trust God’s time; to do it for an audience of a few and let go of my desire for esteem. To leave the security of what was my normal life for an adventure with unknown ending. 


We are far enough along in this adventure so that turning back isn’t an option. I have occasional meltdowns in my prayers when the doubts flood my soul. Even if I could get back to what was normal I realize I would be trading the sleepless nights of “What in the world are we doing?” for “”When will I have the courage to embrace the invitation stirring in my soul?” Both questions are disquieting.


Letting go of what is sure and safe is not easy. When I quiet myself and breathe, I connect with the spark of our dreams and experience Trinity’s assurance that all will be well. I sense a whisper to trust the Hand that is holding us and keep walking, keep dreaming, keep creating. 



Photo Credit: Deb Turnow

Melanie Horning is a brand-new Grammy looking at life with fresh lenses through a baby’s eyes. She enjoys books, a good laugh, running with her husband and soft-serve ice cream. God is redeeming her perfectionism and control issues. She counts it a privilege to be a companion to people through spiritual direction and friendship.


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letter to god



forgive me

for too often

speaking harshly

to the parts of me

that are 


     sad — stop that right now! sad is dangerous …


     playful — get back to work! gotta stay valuable …


     afraid — buck up! must. be. strong …


     creative — don’t be frivolous! there are hurting people to care for …


     beauty-loving — you really want a nicer rug when people don’t even have food?!


for banishing them to the basement of my soul,

refusing them light, compassion, voice, healing,

a place to belong in the family of parts that is me.

forgive me

my attempts to manipulate others

into providing the love

my shamed, shunned parts crave,

for burdening others

with the wrongly assigned task

of saving my exiles.


and when my exiles hurt so bad that

they holler loud enough to be heard

from the basement,



forgive me

for yelling back at them to

‘shut up and get with the program,’

or lashing out at the person

who triggered their pain, or

simply distracting or numbing myself

instead of running to You.



You love all of me,

invite the exiles

that I push away

to climb into Your lap to be blessed,

right along with the parts of me

that I like and accept.



let’s go unlock the basement door,

You and me,

release my exiles

and welcome them

into the love that will

heal them and

help them to trust our care –

Yours and mine.



You be their primary caregiver;

true-me-in-You will love them, too.

and others …

others can care for them

as they will,

or won’t.



let me live

fully loved and

fully loving,

spilling over with affection

for all the parts

of all the people I encounter,

because I have plenty to spare,

overflowing from my

God-embraced inner family.



thank You, thank You

for pursuing all of me.



With love from the basement door,


Nita Joy




This letter to God grew out of my attempt to personally integrate Richard Schwarz’ fascinating picture of a person as a family of parts (subpersonalities), some of which one might exile to the basement, while simultaneously refusing his idea that the rescue of my exiles is all up to me. If you feel drawn to Schwarz’ insights, you can explore them further in his book You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For.



Have you exiled any parts of yourself? What treasures might your exiles bring into your life when you join God in welcoming and loving them?






Photo Credit:Deb Turnow




Nita Landis loves morning birdsong, people hugging at the airport, and scooping garlic hummus with sugar snap peas. She finds joy in offering spiritual direction, healing care, and words that shed light and give life.


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misidentifying joy


More often than I care to admit, I somehow miss experiencing joy, or maybe it’s there and it just looks and feels differently than anticipated so I don’t sense its presence. I know it is different from happiness and doesn’t depend on circumstances, but practically speaking, I’m not sure I live like that’s always true.

I think I tend to look for joy’s expression in grand quantities, when sadness and pain aren’t outweighing it. I expect it to feel glorious, like a rush of delight, gratitude, and holiness, all wrapped up around and coming from within me. But more often than not, for me, it is unbelievably tangled and layered in pain, loss, and tears.

I also want to be able to detect joy when there are only trace levels present. Or maybe the quantity doesn’t matter so much as releasing my expectation of what it will look like. Perhaps its voice is already here. It’s just waiting to be identified.


Photo Credit: Deb Turnow

Nicole Mills is an oncology nurse, cancer survivor, nerd, and contemplative. She has a secret desire to be a nun or double-dutch jump rope champion. Not being Catholic or able to jump two ropes poses significant hurdles, but she remains hopeful. Visit Nicole at www.noticeandwonder.com to learn more about her beautifully messy journey and her whimsically quirky spirit.

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