Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
(Quick update: only my mother thinks I'm funny now.)

Monday, March 31, 2014

At Sea

I will extol you, my God and King, 
          and bless your name forever and ever. 
Every day I will bless you, 
          and praise your name forever and ever. 
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; 
          his greatness is unsearchable.

~Psalm 145:1-3























Yes, today I bless you and praise your name,
even though I am limp with loss and uncertainty
I keep trying to ground myself
forgetting that I cannot ground myself at sea

if you might see fit to bring me out on dry land

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Will Yet Live

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh - for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ - if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.


~Romans 8:11-17

I bought this from a sidewalk artist in Santa Barbara, CA.
He said he draws what is in his head to keep his sanity.


I once made a painting of a girl being devoured by a snake. While I drew, my son dreamed of being eaten by snakes. He woke in the other room screaming, without ever having seen my painting (nor

Saturday, March 29, 2014

About Wednesday

But I trust in you, O LORD; 

          I say, “You are my God.” 
My times are in your hand.

~Psalm 31:14-15


I am not grateful for all my days, O Lord.
No, I am not.
I am not grateful for Wednesday in the slightest.
It was probably on a Wednesday when you walked away from Cain's offering

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ghosts on the River

When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
~Mark 6:47-56

Middle of PA, off the turnpike

I am meandering toward Pittsburgh today. The nice thing about living on a bus line is, well, the bus is right there. So a 5:30am bus to the transit center in Trenton, the 6:15 train to 30th Street, and then Megabus to get to Pittsburgh. I think there's a city bus on the other side to get where I'm finally going, but I'll worry about that when we get there.

Oh, how I love to travel! I love everything about it. If home is where my heart is, then home must be all over the place...

So there I was, on a bus along a river, and I was reminded of a place I went as a child in the foothills behind the City of Claremont. I attended a Montessori school for a couple of years. It was a horrific

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Untitled Ramblings

A bunch of years ago, I gave birth to two children. I've written before about how profoundly that experience altered my relationship with my body--the way in which I more fully engage my body as a living, breathing part of my identity and physicality as a result of moving through the experience of childbirth. 

The first child was startling, fast, impatient to get on with the world. He hasn't changed much. I fumbled my way through that first birth, unsure of what to expect, and there were surprises at every turn. He was, and is, beautiful and delightful. When he was born and resting on my chest, I burst into song and sang until they took him from me to measure and weigh and wash.

The second child, though, was a more deliberate process (and he is, indeed, a more deliberate child).

I Would Be Your Beloved

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
~Mark 6:45-46

Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco

Confession: I would have wanted to go with him to the mountain. I would have snuck off the boat and followed. I would have wanted to linger in the smell, the feel, the nearness of his body. I would

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spinning

You desire truth in the inward being;
          therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
          wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
          let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
          and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
          and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
          and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
          and sustain in me a willing spirit.
~Psalm 51:6-12



Foible or fatal flaw?
Depends on the day, I suppose.
But oh how I like to have my finger on the button!
Can't really stop life from happening

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Where Are You Going?

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord...

...A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my judgment she is more blessed if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

~1 Corinthians 7:32-35, 39-40


It's always this question: is someone going in or coming out? And is that a good or bad thing? Does it depend on the perspective of who is watching or who is doing? Who opened the door, and why?

Dear Paul, why did you write this, and for whom? How on earth am I to understand this?


Monday, March 24, 2014

Barbooking

Feeling out of sorts after the whirlwind of a 48 hour youth retreat, I abandoned the quiet of my house and my three disgusted cats, in favor of a local joint where I could get food and a glass of wine. As is my habit, I took a book with me and grabbed a spot at the bar. It's just easier to say "I'll sit at the bar" rather than "Oh, just 1. Yes, just me. No, I'm not waiting for anybody."

So I pulled up a seat, threw on my glasses, and opened my book: Birthing God: Women's Experiences of the Divine by Lana Dalberg. As I got settled, the bartender brought me menus, and I glanced at the man sitting next to me. And then, of course, I had to tweet:
This isn't my first time in a bar with a book, and Ludovic has gently chided me more than once for my barbooking ways. Barbooking is not known for results in terms of successfully attracting other

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Better Is One Day

How lovely is your dwelling place, 
          O LORD of hosts! 
My soul longs, indeed it faints 
          for the courts of the LORD; 
     my heart and my flesh sing for joy 
          to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home, 
          and the swallow a nest for herself, 
          where she may lay her young, 
     at your altars, O LORD of hosts, 
          my King and my God. 
Happy are those who live in your house, 
          ever singing your praise. 
~Psalm 84:1-4

Carpinteria Community Church in California
25 years ago I sat in this chapel next to my father and listened to my pastor, Terry McBride, read a story called The Ragman by Walter Wangerin. It is the traditional closing for our Love of God (L.O.G.) retreats. The story by itself probably doesn't mean much to you, and in all honesty, it didn't mean much to me either when I sat in that chapel at age 16.

I sat next to my father, weeping uncontrollably as Terry read that story. I was graduating from high school that year and headed to college in Massachusetts, three thousand miles from home. Most days

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Psalm 43



Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause 
          against an ungodly people; 
     from those who are deceitful and unjust 
          deliver me! 
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; 
          why have you cast me off? 
     Why must I walk about mournfully 
          because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out your light and your truth; 
          let them lead me; 
     let them bring me to your holy hill 
          and to your dwelling. 

Then I will go to the altar of God, 
          to God my exceeding joy; 
     and I will praise you with the harp, 
          O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, 
          and why are you disquieted within me? 
     Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, 
          my help and my God.
~Psalm 43

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Time I Almost Got a Sister-Wife

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is well for a man not to touch a woman." But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.
~1Corinthians 7:1-9



I really, really wish I could share a meal with Paul and talk this through

One time, at a conference, a colleague told me that for me to love a woman (romantically, sexually) is a sin, and that my unrepentance of such desires makes me unfit to be a pastor. We were having breakfast. I'm going to get a sign for pastor conferences. On one side it will say, "Yes! I would love to talk about all things gay. Please ask me details, cuz hoo boy do I got 'em." On the other side it will say, "Today I am just eating breakfast. Go ask your wife."

My colleague went on to say that he had thought about my situation quite a bit, and that he understood that I make my living as a pastor, and that it could be a little rough on my little family if I couldn't be a pastor anymore. He suggested that the most faithful thing I could do would be to renounce my ordination and resign from my church. He and his wife (who live in another part of the country) would be willing to take us in.

"Have you spoken to your wife about this?"
"No," he said, "but she is a godly woman."
<long pause>
"Well," I said, "my ex-husband would be coming with us. He will need his own room."
<furrowed eyebrows>
"Also, I have 4 cats. And some fish. Do you think my china hutch will fit in your dining room? I don't want to impose, but my grandmother gave me those dishes for my wedding and promptly died. I'm partial to keeping them."
<crickets>
"Can you pass the salt? These eggs are bland. Oh this is going to be great. I have always wanted a sister-wife."
<frowny face>
"You are not taking me seriously," he said.
"No kidding."

So the question for me, as I read the passage above from Paul, is this: Was Paul a humorless, naive, pompous ass of a man, or is this passage the tip of a much deeper, context-driven conversation? Because if he was anything like my breakfast companion, then no need to engage further. I can make some jokes about how Paul was right, and marriage smothers the flames of passion right good--and a whole lot of you will wink and nod in agreement. Or I might hiss with feminist distaste over the concept of owning one another's bodies--nothing smothers the flames of passion for me than a partner asserting ownership.

So go ahead and read narrowly. I won't give it the time of day, but that's your prerogative. Indeed, as you pass the salt, I'll quote Paul right back to you, "I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind." Do you.

But if Paul is as complex as I suspect he might be, this passage is full of angst, self-doubt, longing, restrained passion, and regret. What are pastors supposed to say on this subject? How many lives have we seen shipwrecked because sexual partners were dishonorable towards one another? How many people have we talked to who torture themselves over their sexual desires? We watch whole communities lift their noses in disapproval at the shortness of a girl's skirt in church. We watch elders unable to take their eyes off cleavage tumbling out of tight shirts and sundresses. We watch women throw themselves after the few single, straight, unattached men who actually come to church. We watch same gender couples scared to touch one another in the church for fear that they might be seen as "flaunting" their sexuality. 

As pastors, we find ourselves the object of desire, sometimes expressed in the strangest of ways. And there are enough of us pastors who get romantically or sexually involved with people in our flock that I have commissioned a t-shirt that says, "I do not date parishioners". (Yes, I know, I am Presbyterian, and we do not have parishes, nor parishioners. The grammar police can be reached at 555-1212.)

Paul, at times, speaks out of aggrieved exasperation. "Now concerning the matters about which you wrote." Was he thinking, "Dear GOD, are we on this topic AGAIN?" When one is working with a group that will not stop hurting each other through romantic and sexual entanglements, it is easy to get to a place where one says, "Nobody here is allowed to date/touch/snuggle/smile at anybody else." As a youth pastor, I am constantly saying, "Make room for the Holy Spirit!" as I walk through students piling on top of each other. Same gender sleeping arrangements make little difference in a time when sexuality is openly more fluid. It is not unusual to have to ask students not to share a sleeping bag or an air mattress.

But then again, I remember a time when I was 13, and a volunteer informed me and my love interest that we could not actually sleep wrapped in each other's arms all night. I protested, something about "we're not doing anything" and "this isn't about sex." 

And it's just all such a mess, isn't it? As I go back to the beginning of the passage, the Corinthians had written, "It is well for a man not to touch a woman." This must have given Paul pause--what had he taught them that they were afraid to touch one another? What had been taught in his absence that the Corinthians were filled with shame enough to make this rule? 

So that Paul's answer was this: sexual immorality hurts people. But all y'all are burning up in flames with passion. So let's figure out how to do this without cruelty and then get about the gospel.

Perhaps what he missed is that even in burning passion there is a need to get about the gospel. And I bet he and I could argue that all day long. And then we would probably go long into the night, arguing about what exactly constitutes "sexual immorality". At some point Jesus would probably appear with more wine and tell us to shut up already. Maybe he'll bring the good wine again.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Second Sleep

And their father Jacob said to them, "I am the one you have bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has happened to me!" Then Reuben said to his father, "You may kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you." But he said, "My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should come to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol."
~Genesis 42:36-38

Yosemite, ~1920 or so

I woke this morning from a terrible dream...so potent as my early morning dreams sometimes are. I wake often in the early morning and sit in the dreamy quiet of 4am. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I daydream. Sometimes I play with third shift twitter, because they are silly and funny and poignant in ways that daytime twitter doesn't quite grasp. 

And then, after a while, I drift back to sleep. It is in that second sleep when my dreams become bold, with bright colors and power. Not always, but today...

I dreamt we were on an apocalyptic journey and my son was the last in a gymnasium, trying to pass a

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sideways


give ear to my words, O Lord
consider my meditations
hearken unto the voice of my cry
my King and my God
for unto thee will I pray
my voice shalt thou hear in the morning
O Lord in the morning
will I direct my prayer
unto thee and will look up
~psalm 5


In 1985 a scout friend invited me to her high school youth group at Goleta Presbyterian Church in California. It was a wild group that year with a youth group used to certain ways and a brand new youth pastor, one Rev. Terry McBride. I had never been to church much; my family attended the occasional Christmas Eve service or Easter brunch. One year, when we still lived in Los Angeles, we

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fresh Hairballs

Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
~1 Corinthians 5:6-8


I was awakened by the sound of my cat hacking up a hairball. Probably, in a minute, I will put my feet tot he floor and step in it by accident.

Sometimes reading Paul is like stepping in a fresh hairball.


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Days Are For Joy

I am weary with my moaning; 
     every night I flood my bed with tears; 
     I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eyes waste away because of grief;
     they grow weak because of all my foes.
~Psalm 6:6-7





I once visited a man who was sick in prison
dying in prison.
I guess we're all dying,
which he wryly pointed out to me.
He was a very sweet soul
and who knows??

Saturday, March 15, 2014

There and Back Again

Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.
~1 Corinthians 4:1-5

I left yesterday on the train to go to Philadelphia. It's been one of those weeks months years that leaves me restless and needing to just go, even if for just a little bit. So I hopped a train with vague plans and just went. 


I am always surprised how 24 hours can feel like a lifetime, and when I rolled back in on the train this afternoon, it seemed impossible that it had only been yesterday. The cats, too, informed me that I had been gone an awfully long time.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What Dreams May Come

On the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his cupbearing, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand; but the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
~Genesis 40:20-23


And what did it matter anyway? Did Joseph cause the cupbearer to be restored? No he did not. A fifty fifty chance of being right anyway! Any fool in the dungeon could have interpreted that dream, surely. How would it help Joseph to be known as one who interpreted dreams? The cupbearer nudged

Thursday, March 13, 2014

CAPS CAPS CAPS*

Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven.
~Matthew 18:21-22

Are you quite certain,
O Great and Mighty One
that you want to deal with me
after a lifetime of seventy times seven?
Is your bucket large enough
to hold the bile I'm going to vomit

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mara on the Half Shell

‘Call me no longer Naomi Pleasant
   call me Mara Bitter,"
   for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. 
 I went away full,
   but the Lord has brought me back empty;
why call me Naomi Pleasant
   when the Lord has dealt harshly with me,
   and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?’

~Ruth 1:20-21


from Miami University Library

Can I be a half Mara?
A Mara on a half shell?
Mara, Mara, quite contrara?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Awkward and Clumsy and Stupid and Old

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, 
          who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, 
will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; 
          my God, in whom I trust.” 
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler 
          and from the deadly pestilence; 
he will cover you with his pinions, 
          and under his wings you will find refuge; 
          his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 
You will not fear the terror of the night, 
          or the arrow that flies by day, 
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, 
          or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
~psalm 91:1-6
I saw this in the home of my friend, Jonathan.

Ten years ago, I learned to ski. I was the youth pastor at a church in California, and the youth group had gone every year for a decade to downhill ski at a resort called June Lake. We stayed in a cabin near the ski lifts. It was one mountain away from Mammoth, but what we liked about June was that

Monday, March 10, 2014

Let Me Breathe

Your hands have made and fashioned me

~psalm 119:73


80 verses to this psalm
about arrogance
and wickedness
blamelessness and keep precepts

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Give It a Rest

Daniel 9:3-4
Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession...



...and The Lord said, "Jesus, child. Give it a rest. 
It's Sunday. Go to church. Go to brunch. Dance. Sing Hallelujah! 
I'll be sleeping in the boat."

Okay then.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Apology Accepted, 20 Years Belated

O how abundant is your goodness 
          that you have laid up for those who fear you, 
     and accomplished for those who take refuge in you, 
          in the sight of everyone! 
In the shelter of your presence you hide them 
          from human plots; 
     you hold them safe under your shelter 
          from contentious tongues.
Psalm 31:19-20
Somewhere in Philadelphia when I was meeting my friend, Rudy
Once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl. And the boy was high on cocaine, flying like a bird. And the girl did not notice because she was 19 just that day, and spinning, spinning drunk. And some things happened that the girl was not conscious of until later. And then she threw the boy out at 2am and would not take his calls.

A few months later, the girl had moved twice across town and went about her life. And there was a knock on the door, and there was the boy. The girl started to slam the door, but his foot caught it open.

Before cell phones, you see.

And the boy held open the door and said, "No, wait! I wanted to say I'm sorry."

Out of the boy poured a tale of sobriety and regret, but the girl couldn't hear it. When he was done she asked, "How did you get my address?"

And the boy told of how he had a friend who worked in the admissions office at the community college.

"Are you done?" the girl asked. And the boy nodded.

"Don't come again," she said. And he went away.

Sometimes repentance is not really repentance, and reparations do more damage. Don't put your foot in the door.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ruined Dreams

I am poured out like water, 
          and all my bones are out of joint; 
     my heart is like wax; 
          it is melted within my breast; 
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, 
          and my tongue sticks to my jaws; 
          you lay me in the dust of death. 
~Psalm 22:14-15


What does one do with this?
Raze it to the ground?
Start over?
Get a new one?
Get out of the diner business?
Can one see the forest through the diner?

You made promises, God.
I hold you to account.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Hate Figs Anyway

In our driest days, may you be water.
In our saddest moments, may you be joy.


Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.

~Habakuk 3:17-18


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Seek the Lord and Live

I am deeply unsettled this year as we enter Lent. I am not the best at keeping resolutions, and my track record at keeping Lenten commitments is uneven at best. I gave up soda one year (except for eating out), and that worked out pretty well.  One year I took on working out every day, and well, that wasn't my most faithful year. One year I gave up folding my children's underwear, and I am happy to report that was most successful, and to this day I just throw it all in the drawer, inside out and all.

I gave up meat and dairy one year, and by the time Easter came along, I was insufferable by all accounts. I roasted a cow for Easter dinner.

One year I gave up a person for Lent. It was...necessary. 

This year has been difficult in ways I can't blog about. Loss and grief has piled one on top of the