Browsed by
Category: Getting Things Off My Chest

Woman, you are loved and gifted and called

Woman, you are loved and gifted and called

It happens without fail. Every.Single.Time. When casual conversation with old friends or new acquaintances turns to the fact that I am going to seminary, the next question out of the other person’s mouth is always what are you wanting to do with your degree? As in, what are your post-graduation plans? Why are you spending all this money? What is the job you are hoping to go after?

And every time I smile, slightly shrug my shoulders, and admit I don’t really know. I tell them that going to seminary was the fulfillment of a dream, the opportunity of a lifetime, and the next step on my adventure of being obedient to God’s call in my life.

That was my answer.

This is the face of the girl who received her seminary acceptance letter.


But now, five and a half semesters into this journey I’m starting to get an inkling of what might be post-seminary for me. I don’t know how it will bring the income I will need in order to pay back all these student loans, but I do know that my personality, experiences, knowledge and interests are starting to coalesce in ways that are thoroughly exhilarating and not entirely unexpected. God has been paving a path for me for a long time and I can’t wait to see what is around the next corner.

About a year ago God showed up to answer my desperate desire to know who my people are. I’ll come back here soon and share that story, but in the meantime I know with certainty that my call is to serve women, particularly by empowering women to serve in bold and brave ways. So last semester I chose a research project that had me sitting in story after story of women longing to use their gifts to serve and love and teach and maybe even pastor. And in story after story these women were told that the roles in which they could use their gifts were limited, ordained by God and obvious because of Scripture. And my heart broke time and time again.

I wept for the woman who had introduced a dying man to Jesus and was forbidden to offer him the sacrament of communion when he asked for it.

I wept for the woman who had 18-year-old boys turn their backs to her each time she came to teach at her Evangelical University’s chapel.

I wept for the women who admit to feeling limited, discounted, and redirected when they expressed a sense of calling. I wept for the women who persisted, yet were regularly confronted with fatigue, despair, cynicism, and emotional distress that many times reached the level of clinical depression.

I wept for the women who endured what in the secular world would be called sexism, where legal recourses are available for those who experience it, but in the church is often accepted and promoted as God-ordained.

And I wept for the all-to-familiar question should I stay or should I go? For many of us living with misogyny and oppressive institutional structures is torture, but the thought of leaving the home and community and family that is our Church of origin is equally terrifying.

These were dark days for me and I do not use the word wept metaphorically to describe my reaction to my research. On many occasions I put my books down or set aside the article and cried out to God. This was too much. This culture too impenetrable. The wounds too deep. The theology too entrenched. What in the world could little ‘ole me do? How could one lone woman fight against evangelical culture and Biblical interpretation, especially when women who have tried have been so thoroughly trounced?

Some of the amazing men and women I am journeying alongside in this seminary adventure. Cohort ’15 forever!


But the other thing my research taught me was this: woman after woman pursuing a ministry call persisted because she had support. Because her calling was affirmed instead of questioned. Because she had mentors and role models. Because she had a woman in her life serving in ways that gave her imagination to dream she could do the same.

And it turns our I’m not really alone. The voices for women’s equality in the Church are out there. And they are growing. They are getting louder. The faithful witness of men and women who believe in a blessed alliance are doing the hard work and are changing hearts and minds. So I’m going to add my voice, and I’m going to return to this topic in this little space on the internet with more frequency.


In case you need this today:

You are not alone.

You are called by God who created you and knows your every part.

You are loved by Christ who gave up his life to show us what real love looks like.

You are gifted by Holy Spirit who is at work in this crazy world of ours, drawing us to the heart of God.

Persist dear sisters.

I am on your side and in your corner. You are not alone.




I confess my fear.

I confess my lack of faith, in God and in my fellow human.

I confess that I have turned up the noise and turned down the Spirit, intentionally fueling the rage.

I confess my anger.

I confess cursing under my breath and dreaming up twitter slams.

I confess my judgement at perceived stupidity, outright hypocrisy, and deliberate misleading. I confess rolling my eyes and slamming my head so many times a day it might lead to brain damage.

I confess my my own ignorance and naivete. I confess that while I have applauded those on the margins, I have not really listened to them. They told us. We should have listened.

I confess the known and unknown ways my daily life and actions contribute to systems of injustice.

I confess the known and unknown ways my daily life and actions contribute to the harm of our beloved planet.

I confess that I drink more and eat more than I should.

I confess that I have gladly and obliviously pledged my allegiance to the empire. I confess that I have believed our systems of government were good and true and would ultimately prevail. I confess that I wholly placed my trust  in the wrong thing.

I confess that I struggle to find God in all the chaos and mess.

I confess that I have wished for power.

I confess that I haven’t been praying because I haven’t known how to pray. I confess that is a dumb excuse for not praying.

I confess that I will have to confess all of this again tomorrow.

My Pro-Life Ethic

My Pro-Life Ethic

Years ago during a meeting with my pastor I was shocked when he asked me if I was pro-life. I knew what he meant was are you anti-abortion so on that level I wasn’t really surprised. But the question really bothered me because I was a foster parent who spent much of my free time serving teen mothers, married to a man who’s recent journey with Jesus into Scripture had led him to take a pacifist stance. Wasn’t this pro-life activity in our lives revealing of a deeper pro-life ethic?


So yeah, if you are asking will I #marchforlife or protest abortion clinics or work to outlaw abortion, the answer is a firm and hearty NO. But if you are really asking am I pro-life, then YES. 100% as much as I know and can be YES. Here is what that fully pro-life ethic looks like for me:

I am pro refugee and immigrant. I am pro bridges and tables, anti walls and bans.

I am pro access to healthcare that is affordable especially for women, children, and vulnerable populations.

I am pro free and accessible birth control. I am pro teaching a healthy and holistic sexuality that doesn’t impose my Christian worldview on others. God is interested in all parts of our lives, including our sexuality, but our hearts must belong to God first.

I am  pro supporting not demonizing women who chose to give birth. I am pro supporting and not demonizing women who chose abortion.

I am pro foster care. I am pro adoption. I am pro reunification.

I am pro inmate and anti death penalty.

I am pro environment. Our earth sustains our life. We are nothing without her.

I am pro LGBTQ and anti policies that increase suicides.

I am pro peace and anti war and anti torture.

I am pro women and anti rape culture.

I am pro social services and non profits and churches that work to give dignity and hope to the homeless, mentally ill, convict, immigrant, poor, lonely. I am pro life and economic empowerment and firmly anti poverty.

I am pro Black Lives Matter and pro justice work that seeks to educate and rectify the systems that perpetuate racism.

I am pro gun sense legislation.

I am pro freedom and anti trafficking.

I know that there is still work to do in me and I am grateful to the kindness and gentleness of the Holy Spirit revealing areas that my pro life ethic isn’t fully embraced. I am far from perfect or righteous and I get angry at the hypocrisy I see in a movement labeled “pro life” but that doesn’t seem to embrace that ethic outside the womb.

So today and every day I stand for LIFE. All life.


What about you? Do you have a pro life ethic that includes more than being anti-abortion? What pro life areas did I miss? 



A lament…

No man’s ignorance will ever be his virtue.



The whole This American Life episode that includes this song is worth your time.
Let’s start with hope
I threw it in the middle like a skipping stone
The ripples won, son of a gun
Some would not have thought so
But I stand here Commander in Chief
And I take that seriously

But along the way
A rogue ripple turned tidal wave
In reaction to what I tried to do
A rebirth of a nation’s hatred
Red, white, and blue
Is black in there too?

One man
Rewriting the book on bad behavior
Maybe cheats the neighbors
Feels he gets what they pay for
We can’t
Pat him on the back and send him on through
No man’s ignorance will ever be his virtue
Is this the best we can be?

Let’s talk of fear
And why I don’t bring it in here
It’s a dangerous word, it spooks the herd
And we all bleed in the stampede
Fear makes a false friend indeed
And I take it seriously

So hear me now
Before the truth gets drowned out
By a demagogue flexing
A demagogue flexing
He’s history repeating

Am I angry?
You ask am I angry?
And I’m at a loss for words
After all we’ve done
Every battle hard won
Every hair gone gray
In the name of this place
In a history plagued
With incredible mistakes
Still I pledge my allegiance to these
United divided States

Let’s end with “why”?
It’s a question I
Want to ask of us as a populace
Why not take our time or the weight of this story

The World Turned Upside Down

The World Turned Upside Down


Sometime over Christmas break as I queued up the Hamilton music soundtrack for the 4,327th time, Daisy asks me how long ago the musical came out. Not thinking much of it, I casually suggest about a year as an answer. Daisy stares at me quite shocked and demands to know why in the world we are just listening to it now!

So yeah, I may be a bit behind in the Hamilton mania, but trust me, I have fully embraced it and am full-on fangirling 24/7 these days. While I’ve been aware of Hamilton’s existence for a while now (my sister played the soundtrack for us this summer on our camping/hiking trip this summer), it wasn’t until the Trump/Pence/Hamilton cast twitter controversy where I wanted to find out what this show was all about anyway. The first time I listened to the soundtrack of this show that details the life of founding father (and $10 bill guy) Alexander Hamilton, I fell hard. And I have drug my family into the mania too. Just last week on Christmas break, Daisy asked her Gran if she had heard of Hamilton and when was given a disappointing answer proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes (with a bit of help from me, I admit), telling Gran about the amazing music, storyline, actors, and history behind the phenomenon that is Hamilton.

It is at this point in my blogging today that I must urge you with all sincerity, to click away and listen to the wonder that is the Hamilton soundtrack. And I trust that at some point you’ll make your way back to finish this blog post, even if it is after listening 20 or so times, watching Hamilton YouTube videos 37 pages deep, pondering your own reading of Ron Chernow’s Hamilton biography that started it all, viewing the original White House presentation that led to the musical’s creation, reading the Wikipedia page of not only the musical but the historical characters presented within, gleaning whatever you can from the myriad of interviews with creator Lin Manuel-Miranda, swooning over the mixtape, and watching the incredible PBS documentary of the show at least three times. (Um…so yeah…this may have all been done by me. When I fan girl, I fan-girl hard.)


These few months following the election of Trump have been tough ones for me and I have been thankful for this piece of artwork that feels relevant and challenging and beautiful at the same time. There is a line in a song near the end of act one, following the battle of Yorktown where the cast stands on boxes, arms stretched wide, and boldly declares that the “world turned upside down.” Is there a better way to describe how the end of 2016 felt? Everything is upside down. I thought I understood our country, our systems, our safety nets, our press. I was so naive.

Coming to grips with this new understanding, I have wanted to return to this space to tell stories and share thoughts and maybe even laugh a little bit together. But everything has felt so disingenuous. How can I share a silly anecdote or a theological pondering when everything around me appears to be falling apart? When dear friends and unknown strangers are living in fear and grief, myself included?

At my best I remind myself that it is the local politics that matter, that my family and friends are healthy, that there are blessings of new life all around, that people are still good, and that God is still faithful. At my worst I lament a system that I put too much trust in and that I know is about to change drastically in ways I’m not sure I’m prepared for. I am learning where my grief and worry should turn inward—towards prayer and study and reflection and conversation that leads my heart to trust more fully in God than in empire; and where my grief and worry should turn outward—towards rallies and letters and conversations and real work. I am not laying down. I am not waiting to see how it all turns out. I am not seeking unity at the expense of justice. Instead, I am daily recommitting to walking humbly, loving mercy, and seeking justice.


So I’m not expecting to write some political post that goes viral anytime soon, but I know I’ve got a lot I need to say. So here I’ll be, striving to be honest about my real life in the midst of the everyday and the midst of the massive. I hope you’ll join me, the comments are always open.

After all, history has its eyes on us!





Finding GRACE in a Foreign Land

Finding GRACE in a Foreign Land

On Sunday morning I woke up for the first time in a while feeling thankful. I was thankful to be alive. I was thankful for the sun shining through my window. I was thankful for a good night’s sleep that had followed a special evening out with my oldest daughter.

But mostly I was thankful to be headed to church.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I have spent many years wrestling with the church. I was baptized United Methodist, and spent my college years in a Jesuit University, but my spiritual life has been primarily shaped by the theology and culture of evangelicalism. As a young adult I began to realize that my values, my understanding of who Jesus is and the life he calls his followers to, didn’t always match up with the messages and the culture of my church.  And as the years went by I drifted farther and farther and fought harder and harder to cling to anything that would let me stay.

It took an act of God to get me to leave.

I had to. I was dying. I was trying to be something I was not and it was killing me. The day I walked away I felt a lightness that only comes with Holy Spirit freedom and liberation.




I know that many of you out there are watching the events unfold around you and wondering if you have a home among your evangelical culture anymore. You are struggling daily to find Jesus there. You are so exhausted by the work it takes to fit. You weep with sorrow over the view your beloved church is presenting to the world of your even-more-beloved Savior and Friend.

For me it took leaving, and then a season of wilderness wandering, of cynical thinking, of grief-filled praying, before the Lord led our family to an Episcopal Congregation. Our first Sunday there were so many things that felt foreign, and so many that felt familiar. It didn’t feel like coming home, but God was so clearly present and working that I was desperate to keep going back and finding Him there.


This post-election week tore me up something fierce, but I woke Sunday morning grateful to be headed to a church where feelings would be acknowledged, grief would be honored, and unity around the one thing that matters—the body and blood of our Lord—would be celebrated.

We sang about peace. We prayed for peace.

We heard a gospel reading that had never felt so scary or so relevant.

We heard from two members of our community who shared that in the middle of the mess they still held out hope, because of the witness of the people of God found in that room.

We looked each other in our tear-filled eyes and without words reminded each other that while the bottom felt like it had dropped out, like we were falling and flailing, that we would be caught. That we would catch each other and that our God was holding us close.

We stepped forward to eat the loaf and drink the cup, not knowing how our neighbor had voted or why. Instead, knowing that in that moment it couldn’t matter less.

And when we passed the offering plate I raised my voice to join my new friends in the song who’s refrain I was thankful to have to sing five times. I needed to remind myself of this truth and to proclaim it again and again:

Although we sang “Love is Lord of heaven and earth” which somehow seemed even more appropriate. source


Earlier this week I had lunch with a friend and mentor who asked me how things were going at our new church. As I tried to explain the place of being welcomed and loved by a community that in many ways still felt foreign and that while I was grateful to know that I was safe and free to be who God has called me to be…well…the evangelical world was still my home. Turns out even when I’m frustrated or embarrassed or even honestly disgusted, evangelicals are still my people.

“You’re a bit of a religious refugee, aren’t you?” he asked me.

Yes. Yes I am. That is a perfect way to describe me. I am a stranger in a strange land. I am grateful every day for the noble people who took me in and bandaged my wounds and gave me a new picture of God’s goodness and grace and provision. They have welcomed me as an equal and valued member of their community. They are my people now too.

And yet my heart still aches for my first home, and my people there. I wonder if some day I will return. I hope someday to return.




If you are wrestling with your first home, wondering how far they can get from the Jesus you know and love, please know that my new friends will welcome you too. They will let you ride out the storm until it is somehow safe again. They will sing wholeness and healing, peace and love over you. They will show you grace. Buckets and buckets of grace.



PS: This post by Rachel Held Evans articulates things so much better than my stumbling attempts. Click through and find comfort that you are not alone.



What to do the morning after…

What to do the morning after…

I cried myself to sleep last night.

And then woke up this morning still carrying the crushing weight of grief and worry. It sits in my gut like an anvil. It makes my hands shake when I try to type and my eyes water over at a kind word or gesture.

As I pulled the covers up over my shoulder last night I remembered the last time I had cried myself to sleep: when our son Tony was taken from us. This crushing weight, this mind-numbing worry, this panic for the future, it all feels very familiar.

So what did I do then? How did I get up and go about life? How did I not lock my doors and shut my windows and keep my family safe inside this bubble that I think I control?

Here’s what I did then:

  • I was very tender towards myself. I didn’t rush to get dressed or put makeup on or get back to business as usual. I let myself grieve. I sat on the floor and sobbed. I laid on my bed and shouted at God. I let myself feel.
  • I dug into Scripture. Into the truths found there. I spoke them aloud even if I didn’t believe them. I let friends speak them to me, even if they made me mad. I knew that ultimately hope and healing would be found within, so I kept going back to those words.
  • I prayed. Sometimes with words, most often with tears. I prayed for my son and for the family he left behind–especially the sisters who didn’t understand his abrupt departure. I prayed for the family he joined. I prayed for the social workers and the people who worried for me. And I prayed for my enemies: for the ones who took my son and scrutinized my actions and told me I wasn’t a good mother.
  • I nourished my body when I could. I gave it long walks and good cheese and the best chocolate.
  • I looked for God’s faithfulness. And when I looked I found it in big and in small ways. I opened my eyes to the wonder that is God’s constant care of me and I was renewed by the gratitude it brought about in me.
  • I answered my children’s questions with the best honesty I could. I let them see me sad, grieving what in no way was right or fair. I showed them a mother daily fighting to choose faith over fear, confident that someday I wouldn’t have to fight anymore.
  • I scrubbed my kitchen floor on my hands and my knees. I gave myself work to do. I sweat it out. I was proud of my labor.
  • I let my people love me. And when I was ready, I got to the work of loving them back.


Here’s what I’m going to do now:

  • I’m going to be tender towards myself. I won’t be rushed to get dressed or put on makeup or get back to the business as usual. I will let myself grieve, to cry and wail and sob and feel what I need to feel.
  • I’ll return to the Book that gives life and hope and healing. I’ll speak its words aloud, even if I don’t believe them right now, because I know I will again.
  • I’ll pray. I’ll pray for my friends and my neighbors. I’ll pray for Holy Spirit power over my fears and panic. I’ll pray for those who lost and those who won. I’ll pray for my enemies, and ask God to grow in me a tender heart where I do not see anyone as such.
  • I will nourish my body with movement and with good food. I’ll let myself rest. I’ll drink a Starbucks without regret.
  • I will continue to look for God’s faithfulness and proclaim it when I find it. Because I know it is here.
  • I’ll sit with my children in their feelings too. I’ll show them a woman grieved and grieving, but a woman who will use this grief to fuel her actions. I will answer their questions and hold them tightly. I will remind them of what I know: they are loved fiercely by the God of the universe and the parents to whom God entrusted their care. We will work together to choose faith over fear.
  • I’ll find work to do. Laundry and sweeping. Cooking and crafting. Reading and writing. This is holy and I do it not to distract myself from my pain, but to work my way through it.
  • I will look for love. Always. It is there, it is here. It is all around.


When we lost Tony a friend shared these words with me. They comforted me and challenged me in the way Scripture seems to: inspite of everything, keep doing good.



In her gracious and humble speech today, Secretary Clinton invoked these words from Scripture, and in a similar way my friend had, reminded us to keep doing good. “My friends” she said, “let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.”



So dear ones, if you are grieving with me today let us grieve and cry and work through our pain. Wallow. Sit in it. Wail if you need to. You have my permission to feel whatever it is you are feeling. But at the end of it, we must get back up. Let us not give up or run away. Let us continue to do the good work that God has called us to. Let us together promise to choose faith over fear, to love with abandon, and to look for God’s presence and care because I promise if you look you will find it. It may be in unexpected places and unexpected faces, but it is there. And together we will not only find it, we will become it.