Spirtual Director, Christian Writer and Blogger
The consuming interest in my life for the last 35 years has been the Life of the Spirit—how do I, how do we live a life dedicated in all things to God? What does that look like in the 21st century? What is my call? What is yours? How do I discern, how do we listen to our deep soul-selves, to the “still, small voice” of God? How do we take in the love and forgiveness that God is always offering us? How do we love God, ourselves and our neighbor? The Life of the Spirit is a life-long journey that we travel with God, more and more in God’s presence, expressing more and more of who we were created to be, giving love, forgiveness, passion caring—all that we’ve been given– back to God and to life.
I have traveled this road because I was raised in a hell-fire-and-damnation church for the formative years in my life. By the time I was in my 20’s I thought that God was a raven sitting on my shoulder ready to zap me for any sin I committed. I was out of the church by my late 20’s, but still consumed with this capricious God. I started on a journey that I now believe was led by God to reconcile my very negative experience of God and my desire for a real relationship with Him. My husband and I belonged to a cult which focused on Jesus’ teachings, but not his divinity. It was in leaving that cult eight years later that I for the first time said, “Yes!” to myself, to God and left behind the desire to belong, to be affirmed by others.
After that I was led to read texts of other religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism. With every reading I kept saying, “Oh, that’s what Jesus meant!” I read the lives of saints. During this time my daughter who was nine asked me this, “Mom, when the kids at school say where they go to church, I want to be able to say where I go.” “Which church do you want to go to?” “Jeanie’s church.” And so, we went back to church, to one in our neighborhood. I had already surrendered my life to Christ. After three days of my feet not touching the ground—I felt such joy, I came crashing down to earth with this thought: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. I spent three weeks writing many pages about the “gods” I put before God. The rest of my journey has been about listening to the “still, small voice” of God and giving up those “gods.” I called my list, “gobs of gods.”
I had already been encouraging people in their spiritual lives, when I heard that the Mercy Center in Burlingame CA was training lay people to be spiritual directors. I knew about spiritual directors from reading the lives of the saints, but this was the first time I heard about lay people doing it. I ran to sign up and have loved sitting with people, accompanying them on their own spiritual journeys. Nothing has changed me more in my life than being a spiritual director. I’ve had to give up what I want for this person and listen to the Holy Spirit. I’ve had to give up being in charge, knowing anything and just drawing out of the person what their experience of God has been, what their longing is, and what God is saying to them.
Since 2008 I have written a blog about the spiritual life, called By the Waters. Since 2011 I have posted it every Monday. I get rich feedback from my readers, but mostly, I think, it has been the Holy Spirit’s way of training me in what I need to do next. So in the writing, I am also learning.
Outside of my blog and the two books I have written, I love hanging out with my seven grandchildren, ages 17 years to 3 months, and my three grown kids. I dye, paint and print on fabric. I have been a widow for 17 years.
Raised in Louisville KY and Wilmington DE, I have a BA in Art History from Connecticut College. I have spent most of my adult life in California, but I now reside in Charlotte NC, close to five of my grandchildren. I have worked in banking as a teller and in retail as a clerk, a buyer of women’s sportswear and a merchandise manager—all before we had children. I was a stay-at-home Mom while we raised our three kids, volunteering in schools and at church.
*I should give a little explanation of my maiden name, Said. So many people think it is Arabic, but my ancestors were from the British Isles. The first to come to America was William Said who stole a shovel in 1725 and was sent to the Colonies as punishment. My niece has also seen the word said on a Celtic sign in Scotland.