A Conversation on Pain

I’ve been prompted to write about pain ever since I got home from the World Race in 2013. I remember sitting on the beach with my parents when “a blog hit me” and I scrambled to jot it down on the inside cover of a Kingdom Journeys book. I wrote a short article on the topic of pain. I never did publish it, and I never did find the book I wrote it in. (hah!)

But I remember what I wrote. I wrote about how we don’t talk about pain. And not broken arm / sprained ankle kinda pain, but deep down pain: emotional and spiritual pain. I wrote how I think we are conditioned to not talk about it.

I had to look back to my old World Race blog to see what prompted this. Immediately, I remembered. One of my final months on the Race was in Rwanda — a country that inspired me deeply, because they embrace, acknowledge, and talk about their deepest, darkest pain as a nation — and they do it openly.

After being home for just a few weeks, I was unsettled with the stark contrast of how we don’t talk about pain. It’s like we aren’t supposed to. We act like it’s so awkward and uncomfortable. We don’t know what to say or how to deal with our or other people’s pain. Oftentimes, we say something stupid that minimizes or dismisses the pain… ’cause we’d rather they just not bring it up in the first place. Right?  WRONG. I can’t stand that.

 

In 2015, I remember traveling to a close friend’s wedding in gorgeous Antigua, Guatemala — which barely resembles a developing world country. On one of the pre-wedding days, a big group of us traveled to a day-spa an hour outside the city. There were lots of friends of friends on the bus ride and people were going through the get-to-know-you chit chat: life in the big city, their business initiatives, houses they were buying, weddings they were planning. Then we drove by a ‘tent city’ and conversation slowed as the sight of dramatic poverty polluted the view for my new vacationing friends.

One girl asks, horrified: “Do people LIVE in there?” 

Me: “Yep, they do…”

She quickly shields her eyes with her hand and says, “I can’t look! It makes me feel so bad!”

…hmmm, didn’t expect that reaction… “Why?”  

A little annoyed by my question, she quickly replies something about guilt and not wanting to feel bad about her lifestlye and changes the subject.

That reaaally stuck with me. I don’t think we are supposed to shield our eyes from pain of the world. We are supposed to feel the discomfort and then    A) Do something about it  and/or    B) Be more grateful for what we have

But the main thing that bugged me was the unwillingness to feel the pain.  Just one year prior, I had visited homes just like those in Honduras. I sat in one of those tin shanty houses and cried with a mom whose teenage son had decided to join up again in the dangerous gang-life that she thought he had left behind. I couldn’t do anything but sit, cry, and pray with her in that tiny, dirty little home. But she was encouraged by willingness to sit with her in her pain — and I was blessed by the experience.

I think there’s always something God wants to show us, if we are willing to press in to pain. But it seems like we’ve been taught that it’s something better left swept under the rug. Or avoided altogether.

Just today I was reading about our ‘Millennial Generation’ and how we were protected from pain and surrounded with prosperity growing up, and that’s caused us to be super idealistic and perhaps ill-equipped for the rough journey of life. A friend wrote a short article on the topic and this line really resonated with me: One day, hardship will awaken them to resilience they don’t know they have yet.”

I think she’s right. A lot of us DID grow up as a generation shielded from hardship. My dad told me stories of how he would take my dead goldfish to the pet store and ask them for “a fish that looked just like this one” and h replace it before I got home from school! 🙂 My dad shared with me, as an adult, that he had been exposed to so much death when he was young that he wanted to protect me from it.

As I am sure you know by now, last summer Seth and I lost a baby. The pain and the sting of death was unlike anything I ever experienced. It was particularly miserable for my parents to watch me go through it. But God used it to teach me about the depth of my faith, His trust-worthiness, and the depth of character and resilience that comes from walking through hardship.

If we can learn to really sit in the pain of the world — and the pain of our own journeys — I know God will use those experiences in great and powerful ways.

I don’t intend to talk to explain why we suffer, but you can see my father in law’s recent post about that here, but I just wanted to open up this conversation on pain. It’s a topic that’s drawn me some really worth-while places. It’s what resonated with me immediately about Beauty for Ashes (B4A), the women’s ministry I helped build at Adventures. In B4A we teach women to face their pain. Share their stories. To get to the real stuff. The raw honest stuff. The stuff that really matters.  And it’s what resonates with me still about the writing of Glennon Doyle MeltonBrenee Brown, and even Emily McDowell’s greeting cards (a few pictured below).


   

That’s why I like to write about the hard stuff. I think talking about the hard stuff is what makes us real.

What do you think about talking about pain?  

Do you think it’s SO awkward and uncomfortable to talk about your own or someone else’s pain?   What has been your experience?

I’m sure this is the beginning of a much longer conversation.

Cheers. To the hard stuff.  😉

Anti-Trafficking + Yoga = Wholeness Journey Thailand

Anti-Trafficking + Yoga = Wholeness Journey Thailand

Join us on a Wholeness Journey to Thailand!

Do you long for something greater? Hungry to break out of your day-to-day life and connect with God, yourself, and others in a deep and powerful way?

This is an invitation to embark on a journey outside of your everyday, emerge into a new culture, and discover yourself in a new way. To adventure, minister, and experience the beauty of wholeness in mind, body, and spirit through Jesus Christ.

Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Nicknamed, “The Land of Smiles,” Thailand boasts pristine beaches, tropical jungles, delicious food, exotic animals, and smiling people, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the world. But behind all Thailand’s natural beauty lies a terrible secret: modern day slavery.

As the Thai economy strengthens and more visitors choose to vacation here, tourism of a different sort flourishes. Human trafficking and sexual tourism continue to grow.
Behind the smiles of many Thai women, is the dark reality of their suffering:
• The abuse and manipulation of the sex trade causes loss of identity and self worth
• The physical, mental and sexual abuse the children and women experience can result in spiritual and even physical death

The women of Thailand need to be freed from the bondage of sexual exploitation.
We will be serving with Shear Love International , a ministry that rescues young women from the brothels of Thailand and educates them in becoming independent women through discipleship and beauty school to live sustainable lives, so they do not need to re-enter the sex-trade.

The women in Thailand long to know their true worth and value. They need to know they can be made whole through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ!

Will you join us to discover and share God’s freedom, healing, and wholeness in Thailand?

Your trip leaders, Christina Barnes and Jessica Dahl, are both trained missionaries and yoga instructors. They bring the combined experiences of The Beyond Project and Beauty for Ashes to lead you in this unique combination of a women’s mission trip and a Christian yoga retreat.

You’ll start your trip along the beautiful beaches of Thailand, as you get to know your team and pray into what the Lord has in store for your Wholeness Journey. You will conclude your trip on the island off Pattaya where you’ll create action steps to keep walking into the whole and purposeful life God has uniquely designed for you!

During your stay in Pattaya, Thailand, you will:
• Attend inspirational workshops on spiritual growth and maturity
• Enjoy rejuvenating yoga classes and fresh, local meals
• Adventure in the natural beauty of Thailand
• Learn to share your unique story, giftings, and wholeness journey with others
• Host women’s retreats where you’ll minister to hurting women of Thailand and share with them about how to cultivate Christ-centered wellness, wholeness, and beauty

Most of the young women you will get to minister to feel so much shame and guilt in their lives and don’t know how to heal from it. You will be a huge catalyst in reminding them of their wholeness in Christ as we get to share with them about their identity. They will experience healing in their bodies as the masterpieces they are, so they can express their inner beauty outwardly—and live freely into the purposes they are created for.


Why Yoga?
We were created as body, mind, and spirit. The exercise of yoga can help us:
• Become more connected with our physical body
• Increase mental clarity
• Attune our spiritual ears in meditation and listening prayer to become more sensitive to hearing God’s voice in our lives

Through this unique missions trip and personal retreat experience you will delve to new depths of faith, adventure, and wellness. You’ll step out of your comfort zone, serve women in need, and press into the wholeness God has for you as well.

Are you ready to embark on your Wholeness Journey to Thailand?  APPLY HERE

The Wholeness Journey Movement

The Wholeness Journey Movement

Wholeness Journeys are happening!

I am thrilled to share with you about the momentum I felt coming off of our March Wholeness Journey Trip in Guatemala! This was my biggest prayer leading up to the March trip:

“God, let me feel your momentum coming off this trip. I hope, God, that it’s not just a one-time-thing. 

If this is something you really want me to pursue, let there be other people want to BUILD this with me!”

And THAT, my friends, totally happened!

I have been working with one of my Wholeness Journey sisters, Anna Murphy, to build our first MissionaryYogi Retreat & Missions Trip in Asheville. The goal is this trip is to bring together women passionate about both yoga and ministry — and yoga AS ministry. And my Wholeness Journey co-founder, Jessica Dahl, and I are planning our NEXT Wholeness Journey to Thailand this October!

It looks like our vision of “sharing the love of God and the wholeness available in Christ through the practice of yoga” is the premise for a movement!  But before I get ahead of myself, let me share with you more about the Wholeness Journey Guatemala trip:

 

We had 14 women ages 21-40 come down to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and join us for our very first yoga retreat/missions trip: “Wholeness Journey.” It was AH-MAZING. I loved every minute of it. It was like ALL THE THINGS I LOVE in one place at one time: Jesus-focused yoga, new friends, adventure, creating experiences for people, teaching and training, Beauty for Ashes style women’s retreat activities, and amazing food. (That’s a lot of things I love!)

We studied what the Bible says about the wholeness and abundance God has for us, we hosted a women’s retreat for 50 Guatemalan women from a local church, and we practiced yoga as a form of worship — connecting with God and honoring Him in a physical way. It was SO cool how God wove it all together so seamlessly: what we taught in our small group sessions, the Lord would echo in the meditations on our yoga mats, and then the team would share with the Guatemalan women what they were learning!

The Guatemalan ladies LOVED our time together. Their leader thanked us saying,

“The work that you did was truly an expression of God’s love for us. Your girls were angels sent from Heaven!” In fact, we heard that one 17 year-old girl who had walked away from the church and her faith attended our retreat, simply because she heard there were Americans in town. She had been in conflict with her family for several months about the bad choices she was making about drinking, boys, and partying. After the retreat, she told her Mom she was sorry! She changed her mind about God and wanted to come back to church, because “she wanted to grow up and be like the girls she met from America at the retreat.” Isn’t that so great?!  (If only some of us had had cool yoga-practicing, Jesus-loving role models at 17! Haha.)

As we wrapped up the trip, one Wholeness Journey participant shared,

“I’m leaving with an extreme sense of comfort — that I don’t have to go to battle alone. The Lord is on my side and I can make real friendships, not just surface level ones. And there’s been so many great insights I have learned from the Bible this week! I hear God saying, ‘The answers are in there, what are you doing?’ My Bible has been sitting on my shelf collecting dust. I’m gonna dust it off and read it!”

I left SO encouraged and motivated to keep things going!

I’ll be honest, re-entry back into America slowed me down, but God has been so faithful to connect me with women who share the same dream of yoga as ministry — and it’s HAPPENING! I am FINALLY feeling that same momentum that I felt at the end of March 🙂

And now we are open for applications to our Thailand Wholeness Journey in October! It’s going to be epic.

And if you or someone you know is passionate about connecting with other missionary yogis — join us in Asheville in July! Only a few spots left!

God is on the move and yogis are partnering with Jesus as He redeems the practice of yoga.  Yes and Amen!  …and Namaste  🙂

My Wholeness Journey Guatemala Sistas

Taking the PLUNGE!

This was in a ‘releasing our fears’ exercise where we went CLIFF JUMPING.

Pursuing this dream is a little scary… but I am jumping in!

How Do We Wait Well?

Who LIKES waiting?

Nobody does. Waiting in traffic. Waiting in line. Waiting for that phone call you’re expecting. Gosh, it gives me a bitter taste in my mouth just writing those examples! In fact, my husband Seth says waiting is the “worst thing,” second only to losing.  < Yep. And God gave him ME as a wife. Me: “the Tardy Queen”. No joke: I was awarded “Most Fashionably Late” as a superlative in school. Didn’t know that was a superlative? It wasn’t. They made it up for me.>  So yea, that’s where we’re coming from. Neither one of us has a lot of patience. God has a sense of humor.

 

 

As you might remember from my previous posts, God asked me at the start of this year to “try” → to try for yoga ministry, try living overseas for 4 months, and try for a baby. The ‘baby try’ was the try most riddled with emotion and fear. In late March, God spoke to me again and said it was OK to stop trying for a baby, which was confusing. The only thing that was clear was that it was a part of my journey to learn obedience, even when I don’t understand. And, of course, learning to wait well.

Although I don’t want to learn to wait well, the thing I find encouraging about acquiring this skill-set is that it’s a skill that will prove transferrable to future seasons of life. I imagine waiting on a baby will NOT be the last thing I wait on. Patience, as they say, is a virtue. And, unfortunately, it’s a virtue not attained through getting what you want when you want it.

I feel like I’ve heard God tell me that the season I am in now is “set apart” and special — and that it would be terrible for me to wish it away by focusing on the one thing I don’t have.

And then, I realized something that really blew my mind: this IS the season I’ve been waiting for!

Allow me to explain: I’ve never been one of those girls who day dreamed about my babies. I never picked out baby names or nursery themes. I never sat around and thought about what it would be like to raise small humans and or what my tiny humans would be like. I always figured it would happen, but never really gave it much thought. In fact, I was more concerned with NOT getting pregnant, so that I could pursue my dreams! (…and keep partying hard, but that was a different life and another story for another blog)

The things I DID daydream about were the adventures I would have, the businesses/organizations I would build, and the kind of impact I would have on the world. I wondered about the guy God would pair me with. I’d imagine how we’d do bigger things together than we could ever do on our own. I dreamed about traveling the world with him and doing things that make a difference.

And then, it hit me: THAT IS WHERE I AM LIVING.
I am living in the season that I dreamed out.

And I realized I am being ROBBED of the JOY in soaking up the juicy goodness of THIS SEASON, because I am so fixated with anxiety of when the next season start.

Lemme tell you, I am someone who prides herself on being present. I am always the one to soak it up and be in the moment. But from the moment I saw those two lines on that pregnancy test last summer, I was already IN the next season. And then when that season was taken from me, and I was catapulted back into the previous season (which I had been enjoying), I freaked. It REALLY threw me off. I was stuck thinking about that baby. That pregnancy. That questionable blood work. Fear of the future.

 

 

I share this all with you because, as in most things, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So I write this to any of you who are looking with anxiety-filled-eyes at the season ahead of you. I’m challenging you — and challenging myself — to focus on the good in the season you’re in now. What things did you look forward to that are already happening?    What dreams have already come true?    What are you supposed to be learning?  What do you need to do to allow yourself to soak up the juicy goodness of NOW?

Perhaps the JOY of the NOW can overshadow the bitter taste of the waiting.

I’ll believe in that. Who’s with me? 🙂

 

Asheville Yoga Retreat & Missions Trip

Are you a Missionary Yogi?

If you are a woman passionate about yoga, serving others, and building community, you’re invited join us on this 5 day intensive retreat in Asheville, NC this July!

This retreat is a Vision Trip for the future of our Missionary Yogi Community. This trip is for women who are serious about using their yoga practice and their faith to impact the world with the love of Jesus; women who are eager to pour into others and cultivate community in yoga ministry.

Join us to build your practice, your faith, and your tribe of like-minded missionary yogis!

Where? Asheville, North Carolina!

Asheville is arguably the coolest town in The South.

A vibrant city with a bohemian spirit, Asheville has earned itself tons of nicknames and accolades (Beer City, Paris of the South, 25 Best Cities to Spend a Weekend, Best Outdoor Towns, Best Foodie Destinations, Most Beautiful Places in America). Asheville’s rich architectural legacy, thriving arts, music, food and beer scenes along with a relaxed mountain vibe will have you thinking about extending your stay beyond our 5 day retreat!

What are we doing on this “intensive retreat”?

  • Building community in our intimate group of like-minded missionary yogi women at our beautiful mountain cabin retreat
  • Learning from top yoga experts at the Asheville Yoga Festival and the Asheville Yoga Center
  • Ministering to hurting women at a homeless shelter and recovery center

Tell me about the Asheville Yoga Festival…

Set in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, the vision of Asheville Yoga Festival is to create a space for connection, adventure, play, relaxation and healing. Downtown Asheville is the retro-urban backdrop for the 2017 Asheville Yoga festival that will feature workshops, music, and unique health & wellness vendors.

We will attend a highly-sought after immersion workshop taught by Dr. Chelsea Roberts, who was featured on the cover of Yoga Journal this month. Chelsea’s workshop, “Finding Comfort in Our Purpose: Using Yoga to Reflect, Heal, and Impact Change” is a 6-hour experience that utilizes asana, dialogue, journaling, poetry, and meditation in order to attune to our individual and collective purpose while in community with others. I’ve practiced with Chelsea and learned a lot from her — and I know you’ll love her!

PLEASE NOTE: You will be responsible for buying your own ticket to this workshop. Tickets are $120 and need to be paid for at http://www.ashevilleyogafestival.com/tickets. Hurry, as spots are going fast!

Tell me about Asheville Yoga Center….

AYC has a mission of providing the highest education of Yoga. We will take a few classes at AYC over the weekend to learn from their 500 E-RYT instructors. Many of AYC’s instructors have decades of yoga experience and frequently lead 200 and 300 hr RYT programs. I’ve practiced at AYC, my yoga trainer was trained at AYC,  and I intend to pursue my 500 RYT there in the future. AYC is where it’s at for yoga education.

AYC Studio

Tell me about the ‘missions trip’ part of the retreat….

We’ll get to serve the women of Western Carolina Rescue’s “Abba’s Love” program. Abba’s Love exists to provide a plan for women to recover from brokenness, abuse, and homelessness. Abba’s Love encourages breaking the generational patterns of hopelessness and dependency on others. The program works to help women secure a stable home, job, and income and to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 61:1

Tell me about where we’re staying…

We’ll be staying just 15 min from Asheville in a gorgeous mountain cabin complete with lots of gathering spaces, comfy beds, mountain views, and a hot tub!  And the end of each day of yoga and ministry we’ll debrief and build new friendships over dinner and deep conversation.

Our Mountain Retreat


Register by June 30  to save!

Early Bird $349 until May 31  //  Regular Registration $399 until June 30  //  Late Registration $449 until July 15

You can also pay by cash or check directly to Christina.

Tickets to the Asheville Yoga Festival are going fast, so purchase your workshop ticket ASAP! Remember, the cost of your Asheville Yoga Festival workshop is NOT included. Your $120 ticket needs to be purchased at this link.

Namaste & God Bless,

Christina Barnes