So much has happened in the last six weeks.... I could actually say--so much has happened since 2020 started.... Right? Among many other things, I thought I would be working full time for a new non-profit—The WEST Project. That is in the works, but we are not quite fully formed. Following God’s lead has been both an adventure and a challenge. Adjusting to unforeseen changes in our world has caused me to more deeply lean into Him for help and guidance at every turn.
May and June, in particular, were really challenging and provided unexpected, unplanned pivots for me. May was supposed to be about WEST Project work and Rest and Renewal Retreats, one in Southern California and one in Maryland. There was a WEST Project coach’s workshop planned in Texas. And June was supposed to be about Mexico...Restoration Sports Jugamos soccer clinics with children we love so much at the FFHM home for abused or abandoned and orphaned children in Baja. May and June completely changed, of course, due to the Covid19 pandemic. Everything was cancelled.
The pivot for me, though, included an introduction to a resource I’d never heard of—Zoom—and a lot of new people and relationships I hadn’t anticipated. Social distancing actually created new social and spiritual networks. I’ve tried to keep up with all God is doing and have barely been able to do so! I have learned to respond a lot more quickly to His promptings. New opportunities started to come around the corner, one and then another and then surprisingly, the empty calendar was packed.
In May we set up a Zoom Rest & Renewal Retreat. Faithful friends came alongside to serve together. Kristin Stockfisch offered to teach on Lament—so needed and so appropriate with so much loss happening. Jami Smith offered to “figure out how to lead worship” which is exactly what she did. Cori Close and Carol Owens, two of the most respected coaches in women’s basketball offered to lead a breakout group for coaches. Christin Fort, an amazing professor at Wheaton College and practicing therapist along with dear friend Pastor Cheryl Baird offered to lead a breakout group on Self Care & Mental Health. Amie Smith from SMU women’s basketball and professor and lawyer Dana Drew Shaw brought their Bread Maker wisdom for women who work and Sue Semrau offered to share her experiences with Spiritual Direction for those who were looking for more depth in their relationships with God. Pastor Tracey Wolff, former coach and AIA staff woman and one who has endured much loss in her life, offered to facilitate a group on grieving. Kristin and wonderful Jenny Jordan offered to lead anyone who would want to take a deeper dive into Kristin’s teaching. It all came together SO quickly, and we put the word out for May 16—a free event with the option to donate. I thought maybe 50 women would sign up...there were 185. Women came from Canada, Mexico City, East Coast, West Coast, Southern states, Midwest, Uganda and Saudi Arabia. It was PHENOMENAL. God met us. Zoom worked! I learned how to manage breakout rooms...one of the big miracles of the day! People leaned in and engaged and felt His presence. Many said they thought three hours would be way too long, but then couldn’t believe it ended so quickly. The consensus was...we needed this, and we could use more of this, please.
The donations given also provided a June paycheck...my first in 11 months. It was a wonderful provision from God through His people. In order to respond to what people were saying and what God was doing, I decided to stay brave and start more new things. First, I set up one on one opportunities for Spiritual Direction as well as a four-week introductory group Spiritual Direction. Just five days after the Zoom R&R event, nine women joined me for a deep and meaningful time together learning about solitude and silence and what it means to be part of a spiritual direction group. We met for four consecutive weeks. I was able to begin meeting one on one with several other women from the retreat, including some athletes from UCLA and women from around and even out of the country. I am in awe of how God has made a way. It has been rich and deep and beautiful.
I decided to create “R & R Revisited,” and set up Zoom meetings for Self-Care & Mental Health, Coach Conversations and Grieving. Our Rest & Renewal presenters generously offered to come back, we added Dr. Val Gin to facilitate with our coaches, and everything was in place for a June series of events that we hoped would provide for the needs of many women. Then, on Monday, May 25 George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. And our world shifted again. Protests erupted all over the country. The ongoing reality of systemic racism came to the forefront for all of us.
Those of you who know me know that racial injustice is deep in the center of my heart’s cry. I’ve been reading, learning and grieving so much for many years. The women at UCLA taught me more deep lessons and moved me along in my desire to be part of real change. The eruption in our country is how I’ve been feeling inside for a very long time. It is heart wrenching and devastating how many names are on the list of horrific injustices so similar to what happened to George Floyd. Finally, it seems that more people, white people, are engaging and listening and speaking up. Change is happening...but there is still so much work to be done. Yes Lord. Send me. Yes. Please. Lord.
I woke up Wednesday morning May 27th deeply stirred in my spirit and restless and really the only way I can describe it is, compelled by the Holy Spirit. I knew something had to be done. What? What can be done from our country home in Northern California in the middle of a pandemic? The Lord reminded me of Kristin’s teaching on lament. It was clear. Lament is what you are feeling, and what you must do. Of course. Yes Lord. So, we set up a Saturday morning time of Lament. Jenny Jordan, Jami Smith and Cheryl Baird said yes to joining and helping me lead that time. It was offered just three days prior, and around 35 people came. We cried out to God, we repented as white people, we prayed for our Black sisters and brothers, we prayed for our country, we listened to each other and to Him. It was a very powerful time together. And May ended—through our tears and prayers.
I felt compelled also to do more with the Grief Conversation follow up meeting. I spoke with Pastor Tracey and we added her friend and mentor Pastor Charity Goodwin to address the issue of multiple sadnesses and grief. Two strong Black women who know how to lead, teach, and love on people...it was the right thing for the right time. We set that meeting for June 20 hoping a Monday night would be a good time for people to attend...and they did. It was a healing and encouraging time for everyone.
All of these Zoom meetings were well attended and powerful. I have so many faces in my mind when I think back on all that has happened. So many lives, so many stories. I think of one coach in particular who is a young woman of color, trying to follow Jesus, feeling isolated and struggling with all that is happening. She has attended many of the events and has built relationships with us and others. I love how the Lord is meeting her through these times. She represents my why so well. I believe women in sport are unique in their influence, and that there is an overall lack of resources to equip and encourage them...and I want to provide that from the bottom of my heart. It is that Holy Spirit compelling from the inside out. I have to! I get to! And I want to do this. I love connecting people and praying and watching God work. He heals. He brings wisdom. He gives reassurance that He is with us. And lives are changed...including mine.
I am doing my best to discern God’s call on my life and follow His lead. He has asked me to love and follow Him, to love and shepherd people, and to pour myself out as He leads. I believe this work is fruitful in His hands. He is faithful. Part of me hopes if I just do the work, people will see and be led to give financially...and that is true, I have seen it. Even so, it seems clear that I am also responsible to speak up and communicate needs. I am not very good at that part...and one paycheck in a year’s time is not going to meet the needs of our family...unless it was a MUCH larger check! My salary is currently set at $3000 per month...this will be enough to get us through these uncertain times. I am asking God to send 30 people who are willing and able to give $100 each month to this work. As of right now, I have seven...23 more to go!
There is much work to do...investing in people, follow up from our meetings, providing resources and prayer and encouragement, planning our next series of events and continuing the work of healing relationships and dismantling racism in every possible way. Would you want to join me in this work as one of my team of thirty? Your prayers and your financial support would mean so much and allow me to continue to do what I believe He has called me to do. It is a humbling reality—I need your partnership. And yet it is also a wonderful opportunity for us to do something very special together, for such a time as this.
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Thank you and God bless!