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Pour Over

POUR OVER: WHEN THE OTHER SHOE DROPS

POUR OVER: WHEN THE OTHER SHOE DROPS

What would each of our staff members share if we had the chance to sit down with you one-on-one over a cup of coffee? What is God doing in our lives, and how are we personally experiencing transformation and awakening? Pour Over is a blog series by our Watershed staff members answering those very questions. Today we'll hear from Abbie Fay, Watershed Office Administrator, GreenHouse Support... and quiet force behind much of what goes on around here!


If you have ever met me in person, you know that I am a woman of few words. I have found in my 27 years of life that being quiet and listening is a lot easier than putting myself out there and talking. That requires vulnerability, something that I have struggled with since childhood. 

I was a shy child, so much so that talking to people was terrifying for me. I remember in 6th grade when my family moved to a new town and started going to a new church. My parents coaxed me into going to the youth group in order to make friends. The problem was that I was so terrified of this new situation and of my peers that I spent every week with my back against a wall, not moving for the entire two hours. It took me a year to get up the courage to actually acknowledge the people who tried to talk to me and begin making friends. This is just one instance in my long history of struggling with communicating and interacting with other people.

Despite my early struggles, I somehow found a way to enjoy life and build relationships. Friends at school, buddies on the ski slopes, and roommates in college... I was put into situations where being vulnerable was made easier by being forced to live with someone, ride the chairlift over and over for hours on end, and do homework together for classes. Opening up to people is a lot easier when you don’t have a choice of who you do life with.

This all changed when I got married and moved to California with my husband. In California, he was the only person I knew, but that was okay because I felt comfortable being vulnerable with him, at least initially. I was looking forward to moving across the country to an exciting new place and starting life with the man that I loved.

But that excitement for this new life didn’t last long. Some issues that we had discussed before we got married, that I didn’t think were a big deal, began to grow and slowly consume our lives. I started to sink into despair as the safety net that I felt I had in my husband slowly fell away. 

All of a sudden I found myself lonely and desperate for someone to talk to. I touched base with my friends and family back home, but I didn’t feel like I could talk about what was really going on in my life with anyone. I had friends in California, but they were surface-level friends, and, even if they were vulnerable with me, I never felt comfortable enough to be vulnerable with them. I engaged enough to make it seem like I had my life together, but aside from that I never put in any effort to help these relationships grow. 

As time went on and things got worse, I began to stop caring about having someone to talk to. Staying home and knitting on a Friday night was a lot easier than going to someone’s house and actually engaging in conversation with them. I slowly isolated myself to the point where I had no desire to spend time with people. I would spend my free time knitting or sewing and thinking about everything that was wrong with my life, and how much I hated everything, especially other people. I began to feel that, as an adult, people only hurt each other, so there was no point in trying to befriend anyone, and there definitely was no point in being vulnerable with anyone, because I would just get hurt in the end. 

I got to the point where I didn’t even feel like a real person. I was just going through the motions, trying to keep everything together, just trying to survive another day. I felt numb, I stopped crying when my husband and I would argue, I became a very angry person when things would not go my way at work, and I stopped knowing how to have fun. I was a shell of a person: lonely, isolated, and miserable. 

This all changed when the proverbial “other shoe” dropped in my marriage, and I crumbled. The problem that we were facing had grown so big that it had consumed our marriage completely and was now slowly killing it. I could not handle it alone anymore, it was too much. I had to talk to someone, anyone, about what was going on. 

The day everything came crashing down, I needed a distraction, so I decided to drive to work, the only other place in that town that felt like home. I ended up talking to a couple of girls who were working at the time, and to my surprise, they were comforting, and supportive, and understanding. They didn’t judge me, they just listened. 

I began to open up to more people, and so did my husband. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was isolated. We had both isolated ourselves from the outside world, and from each other (which is pretty hard to do in a 500 sq ft apartment!). We both started seeking help. We met with other couples who had gone though what we were going through, we started going to counseling, but I knew I was still isolating myself more than I should. I was still afraid to talk to people about what was going on inside my head and heart.

We moved to Charlotte a year and a half ago, in December 2015. We left California about six months after we started the recovery process for our marriage. My first year in Charlotte was a year of healing. Being in a new place, I was able to see everything that had been going on in my life from a new perspective. I was able to be more vulnerable with my family and my husband’s family about what was going on in our lives. I could feel myself awakening from the numbness that I had fallen into the previous two years. 

This year has been a year of clarity. We are still in counseling, but we can actually see the light at the edge of the woods now, rather than just darkness. I finally feel alive again. I am learning that even though isolating myself is my default, in the long run it does more harm than good. There are actually studies that show that isolation and loneliness can be harmful to a person’s mental, emotional, and even physical well being. We as humans are not meant to live life in complete isolation. 

I am still figuring out what all this means for me. While I would rather spend a Friday night knitting or sewing (and most other nights of the week, honestly!), I am learning to step out of my comfort zone and find ways to form relationships with others, whether it is joining a Bloc, tutoring, or coaching. It is definitely still a learning process for me, and I still struggle with even talking with people at times without feeling super awkward. But I know that I am on the right path. I am growing and transforming right now, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

 

If any of this resonated with you, or if you would just like to talk, please feel free to email me: abbie@watershedcharlotte.com.

POUR OVER: The Next Step

POUR OVER: The Next Step

What would each of our staff members share if we had the chance to sit down with you one-on-one over a cup of coffee? What is God doing in our lives, and how are we personally experiencing transformation and awakening? Pour Over is a blog series by our Watershed staff members answering those very questions. Today we'll hear from Becky Santoro, Watershed's Children's Pastor.


I guess it’s always been there. Always in the background, though. I’d pass a poster with a sign on it or I’d have student in my class who would identify as it. I’d talk about it, try to imagine it, and try to dismiss it. But a few summers ago, the voice got louder and my heart kept saying, “if not you, who?”

So I brought it up over dinner on our tenth wedding anniversary. 

Becoming foster care parents. 

We had just started a full-time business, we had a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, and I had recently transitioned to a full-time position at Watershed. Our house is tiny… 1,000 square feet. We are still paying off student loans, our family lives thousands of miles away. I could list literally 50 more reasons at least about why this just wasn’t the “right time” for us on paper. But he agreed and a few weeks later we decided to take just one step forward. Just one. And we set a rule for ourselves: if at any point we decided “not now” or “no”, we’d give ourselves a ton of grace and turn back. 

Just one step at a time. That’s it.

So we went to an informational class. And we didn’t talk the whole time. And then we sat in the car and we were still silent.

“Well?” I finally said.

“It’s time to take another step, don’t you think?” he said.

“Yep.”

And that’s how the next 10 months went. 

One step.

Then the next one.

It was the classes, the paperwork, the conversations, the inviting of our closest friends to bear witness to the process and give their perspectives, the background checks, and the home inspections.

In all of it, we didn’t move away from that “next step thinking”. Each time we tried to live just in that step… not overthinking or forward planning too much. It allowed us to just be where we were and to stay mentally present. When a new decision needed to be made, we wouldn’t think beyond that one decision.

It was really freeing in a way. Our “next step thinking” took the pressure off knowing all the answers and we found that it allowed us to stay grounded and rooted into what we both felt was best with the knowledge we had at the time. It took six months until we found ourselves fully licensed foster care parents.

Maybe there’s something inside your heart or gut that keeps coming up. It might not make any sense to you on paper and you can easily sweep it under the rug, but in the quiet spaces of your mind, it lives. 

There is so much power that exists in taking just one step… especially when you can figure it out as you go, allowing yourself to take your time and live within each new step fully. Maybe today is the day you finally take that step. Don’t overthink it. Just one step, friends.

Or maybe you’ve taken a step… several, even… but that next step would mean you’d have to let go of something. Perhaps to the known, secure, comfortable way of life, or even a past belief. You’re not sure if you’re ready for that quite yet. Grace upon grace, friends.

On July 21st, 2016, our next step was the final home inspection. Less than a hour later we received the call (side note: If you ever wondered if there was a need for foster care parents here in Charlotte, I believe you just found your answer).

“Baby girl, one year old. Local to Charlotte. Will you take her?”

Our next step was saying yes. 

Literally overnight we became a family of five. Now we’ve been saying yes for 258 days and counting. It has been redemptive, exhausting, transformational, frustrating, beautiful, disruptive, fulfilling, complicated, joyful, and messy all at the same time. But it has also shifted. We no longer have the power to take a “next step.” We’re on the same step with no clear timeline or outcome in sight.

We are waiting.

It’s hard to stay in the “next step thinking” when you don’t have control over it, right? 

Maybe there is something that has you in a holding pattern… you’ve been there for awhile and you feel frozen. It’s out of your control with no “next step” in sight. There may never be if you’re honest.

Or maybe you are faced with taking the next step knowing there is a real possibility that it won’t breathe the outcome you hope for, and you’re wondering if it’s worth the risk.

Or maybe the next step was decided for you.

I’m there too.

We aren’t sure if or when she will leave us. We’re not sure if a day in the future will include us packing her bags for uniting/reuniting with members of her family, or if it will include joining our family permanently. Either way, it will be a celebration. Either way, there will be bittersweet tears. But right now, there is no next step. It’s just the waiting. 

And so I wait on this step and I am trying to learn how to become more self-aware in this season when my mind and soul are weary for answers and outcomes. I try to visualize myself physically planting my feet down and dwelling within this step, JUST within today, in this moment, in this tiny house as a temporary or permanent family of 5.

So… What is God doing in my life, and how am I personally experiencing transformation and awakening? 

He’s teaching me that He’s in the “one steps” with me.

He’s in the waiting and we’re co-creating this story together. 

He's showing me what real living looks like… it’s not in the huge shifts but in the everyday, right-now life.

It’s simple, it’s holy, and it’s hard work to stay put in a moment of time. So I dwell there, with Him. 

These days I’m taking notice of my breath, my habits, and my triggers, trying to become more aware of myself and His presence when I want to jump off of the step or rush ahead to find out how this story will end. And I’m reaching out to my people, the ones standing there with me, reminding me that this story is all of ours, too.

Today, may you take a step forward into your life and discover more of your true self in the process. May it include walking into someone elses brokenness and finding that this was meant for the redemption of your own brokenness as well. May you have people around you who can root for you and remind you that they’re standing on the step with you. 

And may you feel His presence and Spirit in the waiting like you’ve never felt before.

 

P.S. If we actually did sit down for coffee there are five things I could promise you:

  1. There will be smashed goldfish crackers in my coat pocket. 
  2. I’ll have a random sock in my purse.
  3. This will be my 4th cup of coffee.
  4. There'll be snot on my pants… exactly at the height of a 3-year-old.
  5. I won’t do small talk very long. Let’s get right into the heart. 

Now that we've got that out of the way, welcome. Let’s chat.

In case our journey to foster care spurred some questions about the process, maybe your first step is to just click HERE and learn more about it: http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/dss/adopt/howto/Pages/FosterHomeLicensing.aspx 

POUR OVER: Emmanuel + Two Pink Lines

POUR OVER: Emmanuel + Two Pink Lines

What would each of our staff members share if we had the chance to sit down with you one-on-one over a cup of coffee? What is God doing in our lives, and how are we personally experiencing transformation and awakening? Pour Over is a blog series by our Watershed staff members answering those very questions. Today we invite you to sit down with Austin Smith, Watershed's Pastor of Operations & Creativity. 


How do you get to the core of who you are and uncover the thing that wakes you up and gets you out of bed every morning? What kind of questions would it take to unearth the thing deep inside of you that is really steering the ship? 

Over the past few years I have started to try to ask these kinds of questions. Not because I am necessarily on a quest to find out who I am and what I was born to do, but because I am curious. You see, these past few years have been a sort of awakening for me. It’s almost as if I was asleep for a long long time and finally I stopped dreaming and opened my eyes to reality. The natural progression of waking up would be, then, to get out of bed and to start exploring. That place is where I find myself these days. 

As I’m writing this, we are almost halfway through December and deep into the Christmas season. I’m not too much of a Christmas music fan (especially before Thanksgiving) but there is one “Christmas phrase” that has become intensely meaningful to me: God with us.  

There’s this scene in the early part of the book of Matthew where the stage is being set for Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph are engaged and she finds out she’s pregnant. Two pink lines that undoubtedly meant divorce for them. Verse 19 even says that “Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” Instead, Joseph has a life-altering dream in which an angel appears to him and tells him that Mary is going to give birth to the Divine. That his name will be Jesus and that he will be called Emmanuel, God with us. 

For a long time, that was a really nice, almost moving story. That changed when I had my son. That really nice story of God entering into humanity as a baby came to life when I saw the helplessness of my infant. I’m not aware of a more humble position to be than to exit a womb and come into this world naked and completely unable to care for yourself. And in a very real way, we have this picture of God doing that in Jesus. 

Here is where these two thoughts collide for me: in the Christmas narrative of “God with us”, I see and feel a motive from the Divine. 

The idea of somehow getting a glimpse into the nature and purpose of God is exhilarating. If somehow I got the chance to sit down with God and ask “What gets you out of bed in the morning?”, I think at least part of the answer would include this: "being with you."

For someone like me, this is comforting, but, if I can be honest, also a little terrifying. I am a doer. A task-driven person. I like to-do lists, goals, reviews, action plans and anything that moves me towards more productivity and efficiency. “God with me” isn’t exactly the action plan I’m looking for. Sounds a lot more like a passive statement than an active one. 

A few months ago I began to adopt a meditation practice. It started with an app called Headspace that focuses solely on breath work and sensation awareness. From there I started to use guided meditations with all different kinds of focuses. That’s when it clicked for me. Sitting on my couch at 5:30 in the morning, in the dark, with headphones on, I tasted what it was like just to BE. There is something other-worldly about the ability to just be. It seems to export me out of my current reality, culture and life style into a different place. 

As I spent more and more time in this passive "being" space, I noticed something interesting happening: I began to see the motivations and desires of my active life with greater clarity and definition. I began to understand what's really driving me.

Here’s a glimpse what gets me out of bed in the morning these days: 

I have a wife who is a little over half-way into the process of bringing another life into this world. And she needs me. She needs me to be strong and gentle. Caring and decisive. Aware of her needs as well as my own.

I have a second child coming into the world in a few months. And I’m not ready. I’m not the kind of person I want to be for him yet. I want to be a better dad. A better husband. A better provider. A better listener. A better man. I’m aware that there will always be more to do, but everything within me wants to have it all put together and in place before he gets here. 

I see projects on the horizon that scare me to life. Projects that are well beyond my perceived abilities, and definitely outside the realm of anything I’ve ever experienced before. The uncharted waters of the future give me life.

For the first time in a long time, all of my family (dad, mom, brother, sister and their families) are living in the same area. And there are massive opportunities to experience relationship with them unlike any other relationship I could have. The pursuit of relational worth with them gives me great amounts of drive.

So how can you pick away at the question of what drives you? How do you get to that place?

There aren’t too many things that give me life more than uncovering the deeper parts of others and of myself, and if you and I ever get to sit down over a real cup of coffee, I hope we can do just that. But for the sake of this post, let me suggest three things that might help: 

  1. Ask the question. Over and over and over again. What drives you? What wakes you up in the morning? You and I will continue to change, and the ability to change in light of who we are is imperative.
  2. Can you wrestle with the idea that God might want to just BE with you? Can you, before you try to tackle the endless list of how to live a Christian life or how to be a good person or how to understand right theology, just be with God?
  3. Can you sit alone with yourself? Can you listen and be aware of what is happening in you internally? And will you be brave enough to deal with what you find?

Merry Christmas, and may you experience "God with us" in a tangible, personal way this holiday season. 

POUR OVER: On Boys' Clubs & Brokenheartedness

POUR OVER: On Boys' Clubs & Brokenheartedness

What would each of our staff members share if we had the chance to sit down with you one-on-one over a cup of coffee? What is God doing in our lives, and how are we personally experiencing transformation and awakening? Pour Over is a blog series by our Watershed staff members answering those questions. First up we'll hear from Taryn Hofert, Watershed Co-Founder and Co-Director of Music & Creativity. 


In our current series, The Fourfold Pilgrimage, we are unearthing the connection and theme of the first four books of the New Testament, known as the Gospels. In Matthew we see the theme of CHANGE, in Mark we see SUFFERING, in John (which actually flows better out of order) we see the theme of JOY and in the book of Mark we see MATURITY. 

As I look at this flow I can’t help but be intrigued by how the author who dealt with how we mature and develop and grow was also the same author who displayed the prominence of women in his accounts of Jesus’ life. How very interesting. 

As Jesus had shared what is referred to as the Beatitudes or The Sermon On The Mount (“blessed are the poor”, etc.) with a large crowd who had gathered to hear Him and be healed, the passage in Luke 6 says that Jesus looked right at his disciples when He spoke these beautiful words. Despite a large crowd assembled it was if he was speaking directly to his group of followers letting them know, “THIS IS WHAT I’M ALL ABOUT, watch me, now.” 

After teaching and healing people, Luke’s account goes on to show us: 

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”. The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Luke 7:11-16

In all the exhaustion and activity and buzz of the day, Jesus sees a single mom of an only child, who is a widow, mourning the death of her one and only and the text says, “his heart went out to her”. So he resurrects her son and the people who saw were filled with awe. The scene ends with THIS NEWS ABOUT JESUS SPREADING. 

So what was the news? That Jesus can bring people back to life at their funerals? Maybe. But so much more…

Next Jesus is having dinner at a Pharisee’s house and a woman considered “sinful” by her city hears that Jesus is there and shows up in the middle of the meal with a jar of her best and most expensive perfume. She proceeds to wash his feet at the dinner table with her tears mingled with a jar of her most precious perfume and kisses his feet and dries them with her hair. 

She’s touching him, and crying on Him and covering him in a womanly scent and when the host objects, again Jesus reminds those at the table that none of them have showed him this kind of uninhibited, beautiful, humble love and he sees her and loves her. I can only imagine some gasps were heard around that dinner table. 

I can’t help but be moved by how Jesus then continues on in his travels, most likely reeking like a jar full of women’s perfume. And now that the news of this Jesus has spread, his wingmen have a bit of a new look

The Twelve (His disciples) were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others.

Luke 8:1-3

IT WAS NO LONGER A BOYS' CLUB.

Jesus had a woman posse now and they were on making stops at villages and towns and cities near you and the news was spreading like wildfire. And not just any women: formerly possessed women, important women, formerly sick women, women named Susanna, everyday women… all kinds of women were now part of the traveling Good News. 

Like an ancient Middle Eastern Ghostbusters Gal Team meets Golden Girls kind of posse. 

Make some room, Simon Peter... Joanna IN THE HOUSE. 

I bet that news BEGAN. TO. SPREAD.

The passage says a man named Jairus who knew about this good news begged Jesus to come to his house and bring that good news of healing to his daughter who was on her deathbed, but the crowds were so large they almost crushed Jesus on the way. 

Yet, Jesus stops in the middle of it and notices that someone had touched Him (I’m sure lots of people had touched him in the crushing crowd). But this touch was the kind that Jesus said caused power to go out from Him. And who had done it?

A woman. 

Crawling on the ground because she had been sick so many years that she couldn’t walk.
Someone who had been bleeding for 12 years, yet no one had been able to help her. 
TWELVE YEARS OF NOT BEING HELPED. 
TWELVE, as in twelve disciples who were the men noted for helping Jesus carry the good news... but they weren’t the only ones. 

She couldn’t just stand and ask for Jesus’ help like the man Jairus had done so she writhed and wriggled her way to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment because SHE had heard of this good news.
The word was on the street. 
The news about about the single mom losing her only child. 
The sinful perfumed foot washer.
The formerly possessed and diseased and rag-tag female Jesus posse tribe. 

SHE knew if she could just get close, close enough to the good news that God in human form CARES ABOUT WOMEN AND HOW THEY SUFFER, then maybe healing could be hers as well.
Maybe she was important enough to be a stop on Jesus’ tour.
Maybe this news was for her too. 

And when Jesus sees that she is trembling on the ground, not only does He heal her, he calls her “DAUGHTER.” 
Then, yes, he headed onto Jairus’ house and was too late, but it didn’t matter, He brought that daughter back to life. 

MAKING WOMEN WHOLE AGAIN WAS HIS KIND OF THING.

So my friends, my lady comrades, let me tell you something that the church might have failed to let you know: God isn’t into boys’ clubs

The GOOD NEWS is much more than heaven and hell talk, which sadly might be what you were told.

THE GOOD NEWS isn’t a black, red, white, blue, green and yellow bead bracelet like you made in Sunday School. They forgot the pink beads (and a lot of other colors, might I add). 

THE GOOD NEWS isn’t just Jesus on a cross or Jesus rising on a cloud and pearly gates for days…

THE GOOD NEWS is Jesus doused in perfume, hitting the road with a rag tag group of lady folk and turning things upside down in the best possible way.

THE GOOD NEWS, in case you missed it or no one told you, is that the very eyes of God see you in your mourning or your singleness or loss or brokenness or situation and the very heart of God is WITH AND FOR YOU. 

YOU, GIRL. 

Stretchmarks and cellulite, single and married, old and young. 
WITH AND FOR YOU. 

You have a seat at that table no matter how many people gasp. 
You are heard, you are known, you are valued and you are as much a part of His posse as your male counterparts. 
Made equally in the image of God. 
Perhaps even adored in a more tender, compassionate way. 
That’s the GOOD NEWS.

So, as a middle-aged girl who has been a bit worn down by my many years in church leadership, I want to remind you that Watershed is the first church community in my life where I felt this GOOD NEWS reverberate. 
Where my close friend Rachael has been part of our leadership (aka deacon) team since day one.
Where women speak and teach and preach with regularity on our stage. 
Where single moms are abundant and where the child-bearing, adoptive, childless and everyone in between are continually reminded that YOU MATTER HERE. 

My husband did the wedding of a beloved Watershed couple, Jesse and Brian, a few years ago here in Charlotte. I remember watching Jesse being walked down the aisle by her single mom who raised her so beautifully and just feeling God all over it. God has been WITH AND FOR THEM all along. I saw really good and gorgeous news walking that aisle. 

So I leave you with a blessing that I wrote for the women of our community a few weeks ago. I’m thankful for a church where we can take time out on a Sunday morning to even do something like this. I invite you to say it over your daughters and your sisters and your mothers and grandmothers and aunts and friends. In the wake of all the news/drama of our election and in all the ways that we as the Church have missed opportunities to represent the real GOOD NEWS, maybe this rest on your estrogen-fueled souls. I often need this reminder too, girlfriends. 

AND THE NEXT TIME YOU PUMP A FEW SPRAYS OF PERFUME, BE REMINDED THAT JESUS SMELLS LIKE YOU AND HE WEARS IT PROUDLY. 

A DAUGHTERS’ BLESSING

You are not:

Forgotten
Second class citizens
Property
Less than
Valued for just your appearance
Unworthy
Too much
Too dramatic
Too loud
Too feminine or unfeminine
Better seen than heard
Here to be in the kitchen
Born followers
Unfit for leadership
Limited to specific roles

You are beautiful and loved
You are daughters made in the image of your Father God

Read more from Taryn on her blog: www.the8ths.com