Q is for Quiet

QYou would think that since I’m a writer and an avid reader, I would be comfortable with quiet but I’m not- at least not indoors. After a few minutes of no noise, I start to get antsy, anxious and I have to find something to make noise whether that be the television, Pandora, or a radio.

But on the outside? I can sit for hours and listen to the birds, the rustle of the breeze on the leaves, children playing in the background, just life happening around me.

Well, ok…in all honesty, I can’t “sit” for hours listening to this. I don’t actually sit still all that well, but I can walk, run or hike for hours! (smile)

I’m not really sure what the difference between the two is other than being inside and silent, I am suddenly very much aware of how alone I am. It’s not so much that I want to change that “alone” status, either, its just suddenly very, very apparent. I mean, my dog for all of her wonderful qualities is not a great conversationalist and at any given part of the day is most likely asleep on my couch.

For me, being alone – truly alone in silence – can be challenging. I start to think too much about things that I need to do or have done that I shouldn’t or how I’m not who I want to me or should be..yada yada. You get the idea. So when the idea of having “quiet time” with God started to be preached as the only way to have a true, honest relationship with God, I became more than a little concerned.

Matthew 6_6How was I going to be the woman of faith that I wanted to be if I can’t have music on in the background or be out where I can hear the birds and life all around me? Does quiet time have to be truly quiet? Does it count if I have music playing in the background? What about when I’m outside walking my dog and praying? Does that quiet time count even though there are all of the sounds of life all around me?

All of this may sound really silly to some of you, but I can honestly tell you that there have been many a “Christian” leader who have quite pointedly indicated that my way of spending time with God was not truly “quiet time” and I was most certainly not going to  get me to where I wanted to be in my faith. Instead, I must not only have quiet time in prayer and study of His word, but that these times must be done at a specific time and in a very prescribed way.

Like many things in the realm of spirituality and faith, there are many who have decided that quiet time must be done in a specific fashion or it simply doesn’t count. There are some who will quote the passage from Matthew which indicates that when one prays, they should go into their closet, shut the door and pray in secret. Of course, the people who indicate this is the only way quiet time can be done correctly fail to recognize that this passage isn’t about making people go hide in their closet to pray. It’s really about condemning a practice of hypocritical and self-righteous people who prayed loudly in public so as to be seen praying so as to be able to lord that practice over others but had no basis of faith in their heart.

As we all know, virtually everything in the Bible can be taken out of context and made into a rule or condemnation of others. It is a way for those who so choose to make themselves feel superior to others.

The truth of the matter is the only thing that determine whether your quiet time with God is done “correctly” is to examine your heart when you’re doing it. Martin Luther was once asked how to pray by his barber when he was receiving a shave. Luther responded in the following fashion:

“A good barber must have his thoughts, mind and eyes concentrated upon the razor and the beard and not forget where he is in his stroke and shave. If he keeps talking or thinking of something else, he is likely to cut a man’s mouth or nose—or even his throat. So anything that is to be done well ought to occupy the whole man. … How much more must prayer possess the heart exclusively and completely if it is to be good prayer.”

Thankfully, we don’t have the need for scissors or razors when we pray or knowing me, I would have cut off several digits by now. I believe Luther was trying to tell this barber that what was important – and remains important for us today – isn’t a place, a routine, or a method but rather the intention of our actions. What is important is that I am choosing to focus on God not what it takes for me to get to that point of focus. I don’t have to sit in a dark room or repeat prayers by rote; I don’t have to have a completely silent room or have a completely still body.

Through the years, I have come to realize that quiet time is about calming all of the millions of thoughts that race through our heads on a moment by moment basis reminding us of the things we need to do, the things we have forgotten to do and the random shiny thing we just saw that caused us to turn around and forget where we were going.

After all, the purpose of the time with God is to bring each of us closer to Him; to learn more of Him and to be reminded even for a brief moment that this time with all of its rushing and distraction is not what our lives are about.God will always be there waiting regardless of how we come to Him. All we have to do is choose to seek Him out.

seek God



Your fears about transgender bathrooms are highly exaggerated

Great perspective on this issue.

Sarahbeth Caplin

I have to be honest about something: I never thought I’d care much about LGBT rights. That sounds terrible, I know, but as a straight, cis-gendered woman, I never thought I’d have a reason to. There are too many causes I care about that directly impact my life to add another one onto the plate.

But I do care, even if I have no idea what it’s like to struggle with gender or sexuality. I care because LGBT people are minorities. While my beliefs have evolved, my Jewish heritage technically makes me a minority, too. And I know all too well what it’s like to have to validate who you are to people who just don’t get it, and don’t care enough to even try.

People fear what they don’t understand. It’s one consistent thing about humanity that has not and likely will not ever change. Some people’s misunderstandings are…

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P is for Patriarchy


Before you think about it, stop and describe God.

He’s that old guy dressed in robes with long gray hair and a beard to match, right?

Yep. That’s how I typically picture God as well.

And it makes sense because that is the image we have been presented with in art and word all of our lives. But then, of course this is the way the Bible presents God as well.

The image of God as presented in the Bible can be summarized pretty easily. He is powerful, He is strong, He is a warrior, shows anger, gets revenge, and is jealous of those who belong to Him.

God the Father

These are all traits that are typically associated with men, would you agree?

But here’s the thing. I don’t believe that God is male at all.

As a matter of fact, I believe God is neither male nor female. God is God and embodies all traits of both genders and traits that cannot be contained by gender. God cannot be described fully in terms of gender because God is so much bigger than a gender let alone a pronoun.

So if God is not male, why is every representation of God male?

I think this is true for a  number of reasons.

First, it’s important to remember that the Bible was written by men in a strongly patriarchal society. Did you know that according to an article in DailyMail.com, there are 93 women mentioned in the Bible but these women speak only 1.1% of the time?

Ok. Now I know that our society is different and things have definitely changed since Biblical times, but do you really think its possible that the women of that era talked that little?

Yeah. Neither do I.

What I do think is that it’s highly likely that due to the nature of the society, women’s words were simply considered unimportant.This is, after all, the nature of a patriarchal society – one in which, despite marked advancement, we are still in the midst of.

The problem is that the patriarchal bent of both our society and the Bible creates issues for many people.

First, there are many passages that allude to or state outright that women are lesser than men. Denominations across the globe focus on these passages to keep women from positions of leadership or even from fully participating in worship at all. The infamous and numerous passages from Paul that indicate women should remain silent in church have been quoted to me I cannot count how many times as men justify their superiority not just in the church itself, but in faith, all things spiritual and life overall.


The second issue that arises from this patriarchal bent is that there are many in our society today who outright avoid church and faith because their experience with male figures is so highly negative. Maybe it was an abusive father situation. Maybe the father figure was absent, or maybe the father figure was so distant that no relationship could be established even though the individual sat in the same room as the rest of the family.

Regardless of the situations themselves, it is often difficult for those who had difficult paternal relationships to associate good things with a “father” figure in heaven and come to trust that a male God would have good intentions for them since the example(s) they have fell far from that measure.

As I think about the God-gender thing, I can’t help but side with the representation of God by the author William P. Young in the book The Shack.Shackover

While the theology may not be something everyone can agree upon, I do believe the imagery Mr. Young presents is far more accurate than what most people have in their minds today.

As Mr. Young presents, God is who we need Him to be at the time. Gender only matters to us because we are earthly and bound by our limited knowledge of “being”. We must be able to put a structure around the things in our lives so we can perceive them. God doesn’t need that structure which is why He  is able to be 3 persons in one while we as humans work hard to figure out how to be the one person we have been created to be

The bottom line is this. The problem that we have with this imagery of God is that we have skewed God’s intention. God’s intention for our society was that it was to be paternal, not patriarchal.

So what’s the difference?

For me, I believe that God created man and woman differently but equally. He gave each gender strengths that the other does not possess. For example, women can bear children while men can…umm…oh! Pee standing up! I’m sure there are other examples but I just can’t think of another one at the moment.


At any rate, the difference is that God intended for men and women to work along side each other to nurture and support each other. In our human limitation, we shifted God’s paternity to patriarchy skewing God’s intention from one of love and protection to one of domination. In God’s perfection, He is paternal: loving, generous, protective and strong. It is perfect because God is perfect.

As a society of faith, we need to move away from the messages of patriarchy to messages of paternity; from messages of control to messages of love.

Do you agree? What are your thoughts about patriarchy vs. paternity? Have you struggled to associate a loving God with a male figure and, if so, how do you overcome that problem – or have you?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

O is for Obstinance

OIt’s the middle of April and as you know, we are in the also in the middle of a race to determine the candidates for presidency. I don’t know about you, but at this point in the race, I am tired.

I’m tired of hearing the back and forth bickering, the name calling, the media coverage, and most tedious of all, the obstinate denials from all parties regarding untruths and failings in their past.

We all have failures. It’s what makes us human. What astonishes me is the fact that these individuals who are running for the most powerful position in our country believe that their failures will either go unnoticed or they will be dismissed because of charisma or – perhaps more correctly – money.

As I sat in church yesterday the thought struck me that we as followers of God are just as obstinate in our understanding of God and His direction for our lives. It’s as if we think if we just hold fast to our own feelings about something long enough, God will change His mind and come around to our way of thinking.


I hate to break it to anyone reading, but this simply isn’t going to happen. The reason is that if God were to change His mind, that would suggest that He made a mistake in the first place. If He made a mistake, than that sort of eliminates the all knowing, omnipotent and omniscient thing doesn’t it?

To me, God is truly omniscient and omnipotent. There is no need for Him to change his mind or His direction. He also doesn’t need to be reminded of His love and grace. It is us that needs those reminders.

And we need them a lot.

We have needed them since the beginning of time because like the obstinate child or politician, we are unable to grasp that all of this is not about us; that there is a bigger purpose that we have the blessing of being a part of but that we are not the center of.

I was reminded of this yesterday as I was sitting in church listening to the homily. It continues to amaze me how dense the disciples were in their ability to understand the things Jesus was showing them and teaching them. It reminded me of a parent taking a long road trip with children.

This may sound a bit sacrilegious but go with me on this for a second.

It’s the mid-70’s and God has packed one of those giant station wagons full to the gills with kids of all ages and races in every available seat behind Him to drive across country.

Its God’s car, so it fits a LOT of kids.

As with all road trips I have ever been a part of, the rules of the car are established before they get into the car and everyone repeats the rules before the road trip begins, but before they can even make it out of town, Adam and Eve have broken the first rule.

Fine. Everyone settles down after the reprimands are handed out and they hit the road again.

But town after town, state after state, the same thing keeps happening. Kids break the rules, God pulls the car over, they discuss the rules, reprimands are handed out, everyone is rearranged in the car, and for a brief period of time, all is well.

But the peace never lasts.

Finally, there are those infamous words,”Don’t make me come back there!”

The whole car shudders at the ferocity in God’s voice, but even with this level of fear, the kids obstinately believe that if they just ask one more time or have the right kid ask God will give in.

This doesn’t happen.


God stops the car and climbs in the back as Jesus. He sits among the children so He can show them all first hand what it is they are supposed to be doing as they travel (the Holy Sprit is driving, just in case you were worried about that).

After a period of time, God returns to the front to drive but the end result is still the same. Regardless of who is sat next to whom, all of the kids start bickering and fighting trying to pick who is the favorite, who is the strongest, who is the most loved, and on and on.

You can hear it, can’t you?

Now let’s look at this as it relates to our faith.

To this day, the Jewish people don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah because He didn’t look like the kind of King they wanted. God had tried to show them over and over again throughout history that Kingship over this world is not led by an iron fist, but that is not what they wanted to hear, nor did they want to give up the rules and guidelines they had worked so hard to create and practice. Those ideals were and are what defines them and they obstinately believe that God will provide what they have long been waiting for in the way they want  it.


Christians often look to the Jewish people in sorrow and pity wishing they could just understand what we think we know, but as much as Christians like to believe we have it all figured out, the bickering in the car is the same.

Our rules as Christians are laid out in the doctrines and theologies of each denomination and sect. Pieces and parts of the Bible are picked apart and used as weapons against others just as the laws of the Pharisees and Sadducees were used back in the time of Christ and before.

The thing is that none of them – no denomination  or sect – is better than another. God did not send a part of Himself to this earth to divide His people more fully than we already were. But in our humanity, we are unable to accept that there may be more than one possible answer for a question that is so important – who is God and what is His purpose for us.

So we continue to bicker and fight our way through this long road trip we call life.

For me. I am currently seated in the seat behind the passenger seat looking out the window. I’m trying not to participate in the bickering and fighting, but it is so difficult!

Are you in the car with me? What seat are you in?



N is for Nature vs. Nurture

NI’m a Colorado girl – well, woman, I guess – and as I write today, the April ground is covered in a very thick coat of newly fallen snow. This is not an uncommon occurrence here and I couldn’t help but think, as I looked the frozen, drooping tulips and daffodils that I would have thought they would know better by now that to start growing at the first blush of Spring. Of course, they don’t because that is not how God created them. Instead, God created them to start to push through the cold, hard winter ground early in the season to remind us that regardless of what is to come, there is always renewal and hope.

But sometimes it just doesn’t feel that way, does it? Sometimes, as we watch the nightly news or read the paper, the evil that permeates our daily lives is overwhelming. What is it that has made this world so bad?

Having spent many years studying various aspects of psychology and also watching far too many episodes of DATELINE to be healthy, I often hear the discussions turn to nature versus nurture. As humans we like to be able to pinpoint a reason for something in order to make sense out of something that otherwise would remain not only a mystery, but in many cases, painful.naturevnurture

While there are certainly extensive discussions on the topic of nature versus nurture, I personally don’t believe the answer lies in either nature or nurture but rather free will. C. S. Lewis discussed this very thing in his book The Problem of Pain. For Lewis, suffering – and I would add evil – are inevitable in a world where free-will exists.

“Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Now this is challenging for us because we don’t want suffering and we don’t want evil, but the idea that we were all placed here to just be puppets in a pre-planned existence is fairly repugnant as well. I believe God thought so as well, and that is why He provided us free-will.

But if God created free will, did he also create evil, if in fact it is free will that causes us to do evil acts?

From  my perspective, no because it is not possible for an all loving, all powerful, omnipotent, and omniscient God to create anything other than good. But in order for us as humans to recognize that which is good, we also have to to know that which is evil. As the old saying goes, you can’t know light unless you know darkness. Evil is the natural opposite of good. As hard as it is for us to grasp, God, who is all good, has always existed with evil. They are part of the same whole.

cslewis freewill

So free will, then, becomes our way to determine good and evil for our selves. We test the waters to see what’s what and find our path to truth.

For most of us, it’s not that we are specifically choosing to participate in an evil act, but rather that the idea of that evil action is more enticing to us than the good action. And for most of us, “evil actions” tend to be relatively minor – things like stealing candy from the 7-Eleven when you were 12 or disobeying traffic laws because they are inconvenient.

As an aside, I know what you’re saying to yourself. Speeding isn’t “evil”, its just bad. Unfortunately, from the perspective of a wholly good God, there is only one other option and that is evil. It is our human nature that chooses to create the shades of gray to make actions feel less injurious when we disobey what we know to be right. But I digress.

For others of us, that sense of power that comes from using our free will to behave in ways that are evil becomes intoxicating. The quote “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” plays itself out over and over in our lives.

Free will is, after all, power. It is the power within us to choose the right thing or the wrong thing; to behave in ways that glorify God or in ways that do not. The thing is that regardless of our choice, God will work our actions of free will out for good. As difficult as it may be to acknowledge, we now have medical knowledge that we may not have if it weren’t for the heinous acts that occurred during the Holocaust. Forest fires clear years of underbrush so new growth can come through. Death must occur to make way for new life. It is the natural order of things – and the natural order of things was and is created by God who can do no evil.

God created mankind in His image meaning our nature is to be good but because of free will, we have the choice to be something other than good.

So how do we change this? What is the way back to our true nature?

For me, it is spending time in prayer, in devotion, in nature itself seeking out God in all of the ways He presents Himself to me.

How about you? Where do you find your true nature?


M is for Maturity

MWhat happened to the idea of growing up? The idea that becoming an adult and taking responsibility for our actions and actually moving forward in life was a good thing?

Maybe it just me, but I remember being told that working hard and becoming successful in life were good things. Now success isn’t necessarily marked by money or things, but rather by achieving goals and having a purpose in life. Anymore, it seems that the only purpose we as a society have is looking as young as possible for as long as possible and pointing blame at others for the things that are going wrong.

I had the television on this morning while I was making breakfast and a commercial came on for a cell phone service. One of the selling features of this service is that, should I choose this particular carrier, my service won’t be cut off  if I forget to pay the bill.

Ok, I get it, we all make mistakes. Checks bounce, bills get left unpaid, or we forget about immaturity buttonthat 3pm meeting that we really needed to to attend. It happens, But to have a phone service that has a major selling feature that focuses on not having service cut off due to “getting busy and forgetting to pay” seems a bit extreme to me.

I don’t know about you, but I started learning from the time we’re babies that actions have consequences. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. But is seems that  somewhere along the line, our society has decided that doesn’t actually have to be the case. Instead we have decided that we don’t need to take responsibility for our own actions and neither do our children.

If I smoke cigarettes and develop cancer, it is not my fault, its the evil tobacco industry that lured me into smoking and I was helpless. If my child eats a laundry detergent pod and gets ill its not my fault that I as the parent left the detergent within reach of my child, it’s the detergent companies fault because they made the detergent pack attractive and my child thought it was candy. If my child fails a course in school, its not my child’s fault for not studying but the teacher’s fault for not teaching the subject in a way that catered well enough to my child.

dave berry

As an emotionally stunted society, we also wallow in the desire for immediate  gratification. We want what we want and we want it now regardless of what that means for others. And thanks to technology, we can have just that. See something on eBay that you want but don’t want to wait for the auction to end? Choose the “buy it now” option! Don’t want to wait for regular mail? Amazon will send a droid to your door with your package! Don’t want to take the time for an actual conversation? Send a text or a tweet. Want to get revenge for your significant other breaking up with you? Head to social media and start posting pictures, stories, and slander and soon, with the help of your friends, the persons reputation will be ruined at best or at worst, the onslaught will drive the person to suicide.

What is so sad is that the place where we are supposed to find refuge from this immaturity is in our faith, but as I look at the way we “do” Christianity these days, I fear this same immaturity has made its indelible mark here as well. While I can only speak to the Christian realm as that is where I have made my faith home, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think the same thing is true in other faiths as well.

For many, the idea of faith is repugnant because thidol-worship-quotes-1ey don’t want someone else telling them what to do or how to live their lives. They have not yet matured to the point that they realize that rules and structure govern our lives as it is. Or perhaps they realize this and believe that at least with their personal lives, they should have the freedom not to follow anyone elses rules but their own.

For those who are willing to look to God and have Him as a focus in their lives, there still seems to be for many a large underpinning of immaturity. Many who attend church walk away from a particular congregation or denomination because the sermons don’t “speak to them” or they don’t feel like the pastor and congregation did enough for them or their family when their loved one got ill or died.

Do you see the theme here?

Immaturity in life and in faith is all about where our focus is. What moves a person from immaturity to maturity is the move from self-focus to other-focus. At some point, we all have to realize that the world truly doesn’t revolve around us individually. There is a much bigger plan and purpose and each of our jobs is to be a positive part of that plan and purpose.

As an adult in the working world, this means that though I don’t want to have to remember when I have bills due, I still mark the dates on my calendar and make sure to pay the respective bills so I can continue to have the life I have grown accustomed to.

God conscious

As a spiritual person, this means that I don’t focus on what the church is doing for me but on what I can do for the church. This also means that while God sent Jesus to save me  – and each and every one of us – the focus isn’t about us individually but about God.

Now, I realize I might well tick some believers off by saying what I’m about to say, but please hear me out.

Have you ever noticed how much we focus our spiritual posts and discussions on what God is doing for us individually rather than what God is doing for the world? I mean, I cannot count the number of times that I have heard pastors re-write John 3:16 to say “For God so loved YOU that He gave His only begotten Son….” While I understand that this is supposed to make me feel loved and special, and at one time it truly did, what it does now is make me angry when things don’t go as I planned. I mean, if God sent Jesus for ME, why would God want me to suffer or want me to watch my loved one’s die or not get that raise at work that I worked so hard for?

Making Jesus’ coming all about us individually has turned our hearts away from spiritual and emotional growth and left us playing in the sandbox believing that it’s all about “me”.

If I believe, however, that God sent his Son for the WORLD, and I am a part of that world,Loyalty to God as I grow in spiritual and emotional maturity, I learn to look outward and upward to find ways to serve God’s purposes, not mine.

I am not saying I have fully matured, but I am saying that we as believers need to seek maturity in our lives and in our walk so that we can truly be whom God sent us here to be.



L is for Legalism

LI have been watching the news and reading posts on Facebook and other online sites talking about the law that was recently passed in North Carolina known as Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, or more commonly, “the bathroom law”. For those that avoid the news feeds, the long and short of the law is that it keeps transgender or gay individuals from using gender specific public restrooms for the gender with which they identify rather than what is perhaps on their birth certificate. More importantly, this law overturns anti-discrimination laws which previously protected the LGBT community.

To be perfectly honest, as I have been following this issue, all I can do is shake my head.

On the one hand, the “Christian right” feels this law protects their children from predators. On the “liberal left”, the law is discriminatory for those that fall into the LGBT categories.

While I typically fall on the more conservative side of arguments like this, I cannot agree drinking fountainmore with a woman who spoke against this law on a news spot for ABC. She stated this law is as much about safety in public restrooms as the drinking fountain laws were  drinking fountain safety in the ’60’s.

There are two things that really stand out to me here.

First, we are suggesting that all all members of the LGBT community are more likely than not to be sexual predators.  In other words, all members of the LGBT community are sexual deviants that need the general public needs to be protected from. This is ludicrous. There is not proven correlation between one’s sexual identity and being a sexual predator.

Secondly, we are saying that the LGBT community does not have the right to be protected from discrimination. In other words, while a homosexual couple may have a 30 year committed, monogamous relationship, pay their taxes, give generously to the community and be outstanding members of society as a whole, due to their sexual orientation they don’t have the same rights as those with heterosexual orientation.

Forgive me, but if this is the overall view of the Christian community, I no longer wish to be a member.

arizona-gay-rights-protestsAs a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I can tell you that sexual orientation is not the issue. Someone who molests children – or for that matter adults – in public restrooms and elsewhere does so because they are either mentally ill or chooses to force themselves sexually over another person to show dominance and power.

The issue here isn’t safety. This is legalism and we as a country are becoming more and more legalistic and choosing to use faith as the guise to force our fears and bigotry on others. In so doing, we are driving people away from the one thing that should bring us together – GOD!

Now I know – there are those who are grabbing their Bible right now to find those 6 passages that refer to homosexuality as a sin or an abomination. I will not argue the fact that these passages exist. I’ll even go so far as to say that some of these passages indicate homosexuality is a sin worthy of the death penalty – but here’s the thing -the same thing is said about dietary laws against eating pork and shellfish  and also about adultery.

11a2-God-homosexualityFunny I don’t see anyone rushing out to pass laws banning any of those things.

We as a society are choosing to discriminate against others based on their sexuality because it is either different than what our own might be or it is what our own true identity is but we are afraid to come to terms with that possibility.

“Me thinks thou dost protest too much?”

Just to be clear. yes, there are 6 passages in the old testament that speak against what we now call homosexuality but during my studies of the Bible, I have learned that the most often quoted scriptures about Sodom and Gomorrah and the 2 passages in Leviticus are actually referring to gang rape of young boys. I think we can all agree that gang rape – and rape in general – is wrong. The other passages that speak against homosexuality again, align it with dietary laws which were abolished by Jesus and which the Christian community has gladly accepted.

The bottom line is this. If you are Christian, you believe in Jesus Christ. You believe He came to save you from your sins. Additionally, Jesus came to abolish all of the laws that man had worked so hard to put into place to ensure that only the “right” people would be considered God’s chosen.

What we are doing with this law is exactly what we did with the water fountains in the ’60’s, the Japanese in the ’40’s and the Native American’s when we took over this country from them and decided that our rights were more important than theirs.

japanese internmentPerhaps the problem is that our maltreatment of the LGBT community hasn’t become as publicly blatant as these previous examples or other forms of discrimination and maltreatment that we so vehemently fight against in other countries now.

For example,  we are infuriated when women must be covered from head to toe so as not to cause unsuspecting men to sin. We scream out in protest about young girls who are mutilated sexually so they are unable to enjoy the gift of sexual intimacy in the future again to protect the purity of the men or girls and women who are unable to go to school or work because they are lesser than men. We see the wrongs in these and many other cultures but we are blinded to our own discriminatory acts. It is time for our country to remove the blinders from our own eyes and acknowledge the legalism that is growing in our country and causing huge rifts in our nation.

LegalismSo what is legalism?

Legalism is the process by which we humans try to put rules and boundaries on something that is too big for our minds and hearts to understand; it is the process that we use to make sure that only the “right” people make it to heaven with us. This is neither Godly nor Christian.

What is Godly and Christian is to love those around us the way Jesus did while He walked this earth and does now in heaven. Jesus didn’t discriminate against anyone including those reviled at His time – those suffering from leprosy, women who were bleeindian persecutionding due to their menses, those caught in adultery, tax collectors, liars, thieves, and those not of Jewish lineage.

Jesus came to tear down the barriers that had been created over time here we are, building them all over again. We are driving people away from God and Jesus in the name of faith as we have done for generations and this is not the way I choose to live:

I will fight against the legalistic methods of dividing God’s people from one another.

Fight with me!




K is for Kin

Who_Do_You_Think_You_Are-.pngAre you familiar with that television show Who Do You Think You Are? I am fascinated by that show – watching individuals dig through their family history to learn not only about themselves, but who their entire family is, where they came from and what they did with their lives. Some of the stories are sad while other are simply remarkable.

I believe I’m drawn to this show and others like it because I’m adopted and I have always wanted to know more about who I am and where I come from. It’s not that I don’t want to be associated with the family that adopted me it’s just that there has always been this space in my heart that yearns for the connections to family that others I know have.

For example, I lived for 12 years in South Carolina where everyone and their dogs are related to one another in some form or fashion. Moving into a new town meant an onslaught of questions about my family – who they are, where they come from, what they do. If you’ve ever lived in a small town or the South, you know how this goes. The questions are something like this:

” Are you kin to Harry who works over ta the hardware store?”family tree

“My Aunt Melba has a niece who looks just like you. Are you kin to her husband, Burt?”

Or the worst: “You ain’t kin to that family up yonder that’s been in such a heap of trouble, are ya?”

I know you can hear the drawl just by reading those words and though the phrases may be slightly exaggerated, I can guarantee I heard versions of these questions nearly every time I met someone new. It always amazed me that these people I was met could not only tell me about the people they knew with my same last name, but they knew how all of these people were connected to their own family and had been for generations past.

This is what I longed for – to find that thread that connected me back through the long string of family as far back as the history was known. I wanted to see pictures of great grandparents and know the funny stories they all told around the Thanksgiving table every year.

At the age of 31 I decided to try to rectify this. I petitioned the courts to open my adoption records and had an intermediary locate my birth mother. It was an amazing feeling speaking to this woman for the first time and getting a sense of who this person was that gave birth to me.

adoptedFunny thing was that despite meeting her and actually having a relationship with her for more than a decade before she passed, I never really felt that thread from herself to me and down the line. While I have been told that I look like her when she was younger and  I have met a couple of her brothers, the more she shared with me, the less I actually felt I knew.

I know that sounds odd, but she was the type of person who would shade the truth to be what she thought you wanted it to be rather than what it actually was. In all the years I knew her, I am not sure that I actually ever met the real person hidden behind the stories.

I also never found out who my birth father was. She refused to tell me. Perhaps she didn’t know or perhaps she was embarrassed. It’s hard to say, but her unwillingness to share anything about him was – and is – difficult.

Not one to be deterred by a roadblock, I decided to take a different tack and for Christmas this year, I asked for one of those DNA tests to determine my genetic heritage. I only recently had the results returned to me.

Just as an aside, it turns out, I’m 39% Scandinavian.

I’m not blonde, blue eyed or tall. I’m relatively short (5’3), dark eyed and dark haired. NOTHING about me looks like what I picture when I think of Scandinavia – and certainly this is not what my birth mother told me I was.

Well, maybe that’s the 23% Irish blood or the other miscellaneous contributors to my DNA.

But I digress.

After digesting this new information and poking around on ancestry.com to find connections to other people with similar DNA markings and maybe finding new family to connect with, it dawned on me.I was actually going about this all wrong.adopted2I mean, sure it would be great to have the same kind of history a lot of people have, but the reality is that just as many people don’t have that history and many don’t have it for far more challenging reasons that me. And another thing. I already know who my kin are – and who they “ain’t”.

My “kin” are not the people from whose sperm and egg I was created any more than those people in South Carolina with my same last name were my kin.

My “kin” are the people in my life that God has placed there for a reason. These people include the family who adopted me, the family that came to me after the adoption, my friends, my past spouses (yes, plural – let’s not get into that here) and the members of my church family that have taken me under their wing and made me a member of their home. Thanks to all of these people, I have cousins that spread across this country, I have nephews and even grandchildren who I can happily call my kin.

But here’s the most important part. That thread that I have been trying so desperately to connect down doesn’t connect to an earthly line of people for me or for anybody else. That line is connected to GOD.

Bottom line is  I have a Father that placed me here on this planet at this time with these people for a reason. And because of this, my “kin” is more interconnected than even the most stereotypical backwoods, hillbilly family in the swamps of the South. I am connected to every individual oEphesiansn this planet present, past and future because every one of them are connected to the One who created them. So while I may not be able to go to some big ol’ family reunion to hear Aunt Bertha tell the same story for the 100th time or have pictures that show generations of people that all like like me lined up together, what I have is far more personal and far more important.
I am connected spiritually to those directly in my life and those indirectly in it and my job as a member of this family is to make sure that I let each and  every one that I come into contact with know that they are loved, they are important and they are connected to something bigger than they could ever hope for.

So next time you are wondering who your kin is remember – one of them is ME!


J is for Justice

social-justice-quotes-8The People vs. O.J. Simspon has been on television recently and I have to admit that while I love a good courtroom drama, I have not watched it. I hear it’s excellent and I may choose to binge-watch it at some point, but I remember being so angered by the entire thing the first time I’m not sure I could stomach it a second time. But with all the buzz about this show, I have thought a lot about that trial and similar trials that have occurred since and and struck by how difficult the concept of justice truly is.

The problem is that justice looks completely different depending on which side of the issue you reside on. Think about it. If your son or daughter is accused of something – let’s say something terrible like a cold-blooded murder – it would be difficult for you to believe your child was capable of such an act unless they were under duress or there were extenuating circumstances. You might feel that justice would be served if your child were found not-guilty or if the charges were reduced and the sentence light whereas the opposing side – the side that lost a someone close to them – would feel that justice would only be served if your child were to be given a life sentence or even the death penalty.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
I believe in our justice system. I truly believe that we need rules and those rules need to be upheld by a justice system in order to maintain a society that is humane and civil. I believe people need to be punished for their wrongs and have even sought assistance within the justice system myself, but there are some things that the justice system cannot provide retribution for. Most significantly, justice cannot heal injuries to the heart.
This month, April, is child abuse prevention month. I have been reading a number of posts and articles about abuse and what it has done to alter the lives of those affected and it breaks my heart.
quotes-control-reduced-maya-angelou-480x480I, like many of the writers I have been following on the subject, was a victim of abuse as a child.I have been there – I know how hard it is to look in the mirror and see something other than a used piece of meat. To this day, I have a difficult time accepting compliments because in my past, a compliment was typically tied to some really ugly strings. But I have worked very, very hard to overcome the obstacles that past abuse caused me to build.
There are not many people that know my entire story, but for those that do, they are often shocked that I do not and have not sought what they would consider justice. From their outside perspective, they would love to go pound on the door of each of these individuals homes and make them somehow pay for what was done to me.While I appreciate the outrage these people feel on my behalf, I have pointedly not chosen to do this.
Now granted, when I was younger, I probably would have liked someone to come racing in on a white steed, sword swinging to behead my personal offenders…
…or something less Disney-esque…
…but through the years I have come to a place where I believe fully that justice is not for me to seek for these past wrongs. I know that probably sounds crazy to you and in reading the stories I have read about those who have suffered abuse, many would probably assume I haven’t “dealt with” the pain I suffered. There are many who get some level of healing by confronting their abusers and for them, I say “huzzah!” but for me, this is not the road I have chosen.
It might have been easier had I chosen that road many years ago. Instead, I wandered through times of playing the victim, being angry at the world, and throwing myself in the more and more dangerous situations because I felt I didn’t deserve any better. ButI thankfully came out the other side and in so doing, I realized several things about myself and my beliefs.
First, I am not a vengeful person. The reality is that regardless of how badly I treat someone that abused me in one form or another, I cannot get back the innocence that was lost or the repair the damage that was created. Even if I were to do them exactly what they did to me the only thing that would be broken would be my sense of peace for harming someone else.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, I believe that if I focus on trying to seek retribution for wrongs done to me – regardless of how big or small they may be – I am allowing that person to injure me again and again. I am allowing that person to keep a space in my mind and my heart that they do not deserve to have. Worse, because I am allowing negative people to reside in my heart, that allows less space for those who love me to be. Why on earth would I want to reduce the amount someone could love me today because of something that was done to me years ago?

Third,  I believe that my God -the only truly objective entity – can determine what justice needs to be provided in all situations and I fully trust He will take care of those things when the time comes. It is not my job at this point in my life to seek “justice”. My job is not to be bitter about my past, but to choose peace, joy and truth.

The funny thing is, in seeking these things, I actually do receive a form of justice.

My justice is found in the fact that those people who hurt me didn’t win. I was not destroyed or beaten. I am not bitter and I am not angry. If they were to come into my life again for some reason, while I would certainly keep my distance as needed, I would treat these people with grace and mercy.

I’m not saying this form of justice is easy, but I can say, at least from my perspective, it is much more rewarding than all other options.


I is for Inspiration

I am a sucker for a good quote and Thomas Edison has an abundance of them. I think I would have liked to have known him. I imagine he was intelligent, quirky and probably a bit on the snarky side – qualities I personally hold very dear.

One of my favorite quotes of his is “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”. As I thought about this post, I couldn’t help but see how true that is in all of our every day lives as well as the bigger things in life.


As a writer, the inspiration is that image or concept that pops into my head and says “you should write about that!” The hard part, then, is getting that image or concept out of my brain and actually into words on a page that seem like something someone would be willing to take a moment of their time to read. Starting a vegetable garden, a knitting project, or building a rocket to Mars all have that same little tiny seed of inspiration that started it all.

Funny thing is, if I look at faith it seems to me that God is that 1% and we are providing the 99%.

I know. That sounds like blasphemy and I’m not saying this is the next great movement in the field of religious studies, but walk with me on this for just a few moments.

Forgive my repetition here, but just to set the stage, I believe God is all-powerful, omnipotent, omniscient, and most of all loving. If you are to go along with me on these presuppositions, then it isn’t a stretch to say that God didn’t need to work very hard to create the wonder that is our universe. He simply spoke everything into being and it was. All He needed was the inspiration.

If in fact God chose to make man out of clay and woman out of the rib of man, it wasn’t because He couldn’t have done it any other way but rather because he was making a point. After all, at least from my perspective, God doesn’t do anything “just because”.

Just as an aside, I am certain there is a reason the platypus was created the way he was for a reason…I just haven’t figured it out yet. If you have an idea, I would love to hear it!

Back to the topic at hand.

God spoke and we existed. Done. That was the 1%. God is inspiration and because He is God, he doesn’t need the 99%.

So where does that leave us – mankind or any other human-like creature that may or may not exist? Well, this is where it gets both challenging and beautiful.

We are the 99% but not because God likes to see us sweat and grovel. We are the 99% because God wants us to actually grow to know and love Him rather than having Him just create us into a relationship where we love him without reason.

Now before you go getting all up in arms about how hard life is step back for a moment and realize that not only did God give us the opportunity to come into understanding of Him and relationship with Him, but He also gave us a unique gift that only man has – the gift of inspiration.

We  also have that unique ability to be inspired and we alone know the amazing feelings of happiness and accomplishment that come from bringing something that we were inspired to do into fruition.

I truly believe that Thomas Edison had unique insight into this. As an inventor, he saw things come into being in front of him that were born from that 1% of inspiration and that used up every single ounce of that 99% perspiration. In trial after trial to harness electricity or create the phonograph, Edison soldiered on. He acknowledged that not succeeding the first time doesn’t mean failure. This is something we as a culture seem to forget every day. We fail once or twice and we give up. As Edison once said, ” Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.”

Edison also realized that success doesn’t always look the way you imagined it would. He once stated, “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.” How many times can we say that about circumstances in our own life? Perhaps they didn’t turn out the way we imagined they would or even the way we would have liked them to, but in the end, the result was far greater than our original goal.

To me, that change – the shift from what we thought we were doing to what we actually did – is a God thing. God knew what we were capable of and provided us with the inspiration to start down the right road. Our job was to simply walk the road before us to get to where we needed to be.

The hard part is that we aren’t always brought up in a way that nurtures the spirit of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” For me, I remember clearly my mother telling me that I failed and I should quit because I would never be able to do things like math, science, or athletic things. It was this soundtrack in my head that kept me from trying many things until I much older. I was – and to some extent still am – terribly afraid of failing. But what God – and Thomas opportunityEdison – are trying to tell us is that we haven’t failed – we just have’t found the one way that will accomplish what it is we were looking to accomplish. There is always a way to succeed, we just need to try a different way.

And where do we find that different way?

Well, through inspiration, of course!

So tell me, kind reader. What have you been inspired to do through the years? Did it turn out the way you thought it would? I would love to hear you stories of inspiration. Who knows, maybe your inspiration is just the seed that someone else needs to succeed!