Oct 25, 2013


I am not one who fails easily.

I am not one to take failure lightly or gracefully.

Failure, as far as I am concerned, is not an option.

. . . . . . .

“This is a place where you will fail. Consistently, daily, and this is a place where it is safe to do that.”

This is how she starts our first day of class. This is how she introduces me to what will quickly become my favorite class, my favorite subject, my desired continued area of study.

I feel my stomach tighten as she mentions failure. My mouth fights to grimace or smile, I cannot decide which.

“Failure?” I think. “I don’t really do failure.”

But in this classroom, surrounded by these fellow students I will come to welcome the freedom of failure.

I'm over at A Deeper Church today writing about failure. Join me over there to read the rest of the post.

Jul 29, 2013

It's not about you

As you, dear reader, read this post, I am running around doing last minute errands in preparation for my sister’s bachlorette party and her BIG DAY. It’s a post I’ve been sitting on for awhile. Like, more than a year. As I ponder wedding toasts and wedding vows it seems that the time has come to put thoughts, memories, and feelings into words I now share with you. 

The first time it happened I didn’t think anything of it. We broke up, they started dating, and a few years later they got married.

The second time it happened it stung a bit more, but in retrospect that had more to do with the speed of things. We broke up, a month later they were engaged, and a month or two after that they were married.

The third time I was waiting for it. We broke up, they started dating, and I knew, I knew, I knew they would get married. And they did.

The fourth time I tell a dear friend and mentor what will happen. He listens, but confesses later that at the time I predicted their future nuptials he didn’t believe me. We broke up, they started dating, and then they got married.

I'm writing over at A Deeper Church today. Join me over there to read the rest of this post.

Jun 28, 2013

In the Beginning

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

I can see Him there. Standing. Worn carharts and a wool plaid shirt with elbow patches to cover the holes from years of wear. Feet planted firmly in the dust, in work boots and thick wool socks, standing on the edge of it all before there was an edge.

His hair is short, graying, with plenty of salt and pepper. His hands are in His pockets, but you can see the wrinkles. And a split, bruised thumbnail on His right hand. I wonder how it happened.

And though I cannot see His face, there is the hint of a profile. Enough to see deep lines radiating from the corner of His eye, scored deep into skin from years in the sun, from years of smiling. Before there were years. Before there was sun.

I'm over at A Deeper Church, join me there to read the rest of this post.

Jun 20, 2013

love beats fear

I pull a sharpie from the mug that sits to the left of my monitor, removing the cap and securing it on the back of the pen.

“Love beats fear.” The sentence fills my mind as I stare at the blank canvas that is my left wrist.

I write the words slowly, carefully. Each letter the same size and width as the last.

Love beats fear.

For all my confidence and self-assurance there is an underlying current of fear that runs through me.

Am I enough?

Am I too much?

Can I really hang academically?

Am I sacrificing one set of dreams in order to achieve the other?

Does He really know the desires of my heart?

Do I understand His goodness so that I experience it as such?

Do I truly believe He is good?

Love beats fear.

I breathe deep those words, attempting to flood my fears with the truth that His love is bigger than my fear.

His love beats fear.

His love has already beaten each and every one of the fears I have ever or will ever encounter.

And still I write this phrase on my wrist. Always finishing it with a box around the words. Because it communicates a finality that I need to know exists.

That His love has already beaten fear.

That His love will continue to beat fear.

That His fear beating love will remain consistent in my life as it has remained consistent since the first two hid behind fig leaves and among trees, fearful of what they knew, overwhelmed by the love of His calling to them.

He calls to me as I hide amidst my fears. Overwhelmed by each of them both individually and collectively.

“Where are you?” He asks, knowing full well I have taken my eyes from Him and from His love and become mired in the details of questions that seem to lack answers--which means the outcomes are out of my control and isn’t that really the issue here?

“Where are you?” His tone is gentle and firm. Both a call to take His hand and a grace-filled reproof.

I look up from among the trees, away from the fears that seem so true.

“Love beats fear,” He says as He envelops my hand with His.

May 24, 2013


If you and I were to sit down and talk, get to know each other for just a bit, it wouldn’t be too long before you learned that I love the Old Testament. More specifically I love the Pentateuch. Those first five books of the Bible, and Deuteronomy in particular, they have my heart. I had the opportunity to take an intensive class on Deuteronomy this year, and in that short week I fell more in love with Torah. Here is a small glimpse into why I love Torah.

Imagine all of Israel encamped on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

Moses stands before them, his arms spread wide, as he recounts for them their parents’ exodus from Egypt and subsequent rebellion when they were first invited into the Promised Land.

The story is familiar, but each Israelite listens intently as Moses reminds them of the punishment they and their parents endured at the hand of Adonai. And Moses reminds them that throughout the entire journey, a journey which should have taken eleven days but instead took forty years, God was with them, providing for their every need each and every step of the way.

I'm writing over at Deeper Church today. Head over there to read the rest of this post.

May 22, 2013

the shape of hope

We talk of many things. Serious things. Funny things. Sad things. Joyful things. Empty things. Hope-filled things.

Some times when we talk we talk about house things. Not appliances or DIY projects for the living room or yard, but whole houses.

Sometimes it is the old house in New England with the wrap around porch, a porch swing in the front and two hammocks in the back. There are chickens and a vegetable garden and dogs. We live in this house, the two of us, no longer as young as we were when we first met. Her hair is still as crazy as it was, but there are streaks of silver mixed in with the auburn and chestnut, and mine is still as stick straight as ever, but amidst the gold there is now white. In the absence of families birthed of our own bodies we have chosen to create family together here. We wile away evenings warming hands with mugs of tea, and begin mornings with coffee on the back porch with the dogs at our feet. We sit sipping tea on an evening in May, and our eyes and smiles meet, because somehow this day has become real.

While my dear friend Lore is taking a hiatus from her blog for the month of May, she's asked several of us to post in her place. This week I am writing about our friendship and about the shape of hope. You can read the rest of the blog over at her website.

Apr 16, 2013

Israel Cries Out To The Lord

This is the fourth post in a five part series. It is inspired by the Book of Judges and my studies of that book. Posts will appear here and on A Deeper Church.

Read the first post.

Read the second post.

Read the third post.

But the Israelites said to the Lord, ‘We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.’”

Can you hear them, the cries of Israel, can you hear them?

Crying out in the clefts and caves of the mountains in which they have taken refuge from their oppressors.

Sobbing prayers of longing for the days their ancestors wandered in the desert, homeless, but with God.

Muttering words of the Lord’s slow anger and abounding love in hopes that He might show Himself to be those things as they find themselves enslaved in a land that was supposed to be theirs.

How long before these cries and prayers and muttered words passed through Hebrew lips did these same Hebrews realize their distance from the One who called them to be set apart?

Days? Weeks? Months? Years?


Were the compromises big from the beginning? Was their turning from Him one giant step at a time? Or did they start small?

Does it matter how big or small the compromises were?

Does it matter how far away from Him they turned?

Does it matter how big or small our compromises are?

Does it matter how far away from Him we turn?

To do anything but directly face God is to face something else entirely.

And the more we turn away, the longer it takes for us to realize we are no longer looking directly at Him.

A glimpse of Him in our periphery is not a life focused on the Lord.

And then suddenly, like Israel, we cry out. We realize He has passed outside of our field of vision. Unsure of which way to turn, for Him who is to guide us is no longer visible, and so we cry out.

We cry out in hopes that He will be faithful to answer even though we have been unfaithful in our turning away.

We cry out in hopes that we will be rescued, as Israel was, again from our sin, again from our turning, again from our idolatry.

We cry out.

Does it matter how big or small our steps away from God are?

Apr 5, 2013

same teams

I am talking with friends about the Church, about the divisions in the Body, about the way the fighting and yelling causes me to mourn.

I begin to marvel at the fact that, even with all this fighting, somehow the Spirit still calls out to itself in each one of us, pulling us back to each other.

It is like dodgeball.

We’ve been divided into teams, and we are pressed against the back walls on opposite sides of the gym.

A members from each team stand closer to the middle, rubber balls in hand, waiting for someone to run forward, look away for a second, throw their ball and leave themselves momentarily defenseless.

Meanwhile those already out stand on the sideline cheering, waiting for a ball to be thrown, waiting for the impossible catch which sends the thrower out of the game.

Here, on the internet, we stand, divided into our different teams. A few well known names, and well known posts position themselves closer to the middle, ready to defend the rest of the team.

Occasionally someone darts forward to grab a stray ball, to lob it over to the other side. But mostly we just let those in the middle fire back and forth assuming they are the ones who will win it for us anyway.

What I notice is the way we keep running forward.

The ways we cheer and jeer from the sidelines.

We cheer from the sidelines because we want to be right. We want to win. We want our voice heard last and loudest.

We jeer because we are afraid. We are afraid of being wrong. We are afraid of losing.

But winning or losing is not the point.

And this is where the metaphor breaks down. Because we don’t just run forward to win, to get someone from the other side out.

Sometimes we do. Sometimes we run forward because they ran forward, and we hope in running, in lobbing a ball on their side, it will take them out of the game.

But sometimes we run forward because the Spirit says to run.

Because the Spirit that pulls you forward is the same Spirit that pulls me forward.

Because that Spirit is the same in me as it is in you. It may speak and make itself known differently in me than it does in you, but it cries out to itself from me to you in a way that draws us to one another.

If we stopped for just a minute we would notice that we are all dressed in the same jerseys. We are all playing for the same team.

We all have different roles on this team.

But we are on the same team.

Our shouts should be shouts of victory.

Because this win we are all fighting for? We’ve already got the “W.”

God has already won this battle.

He won it all those years ago on the cross, and when He did He called us together, to this one team, to this one Body, by this one Spirit.

I am on your team. I want to be on your team.

Apr 1, 2013

God Disciplined Israel for their Disobedience

“…and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it.”



Israel did not like the discipline of the Lord. They ran from it, hid from it in mountain clefts, caves, and strongholds.

The rest of the post appears on A Deeper Church. Head over there to read the post in its entirety.

Mar 28, 2013

Israel Did Evil in the Eyes of the Lord

This is the second post in a five part series. It is inspired by the Book of Judges and my studies of that book. Posts will appear here and on A Deeper Church. You can read the first post here.

“The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheras.”

The Book of Judges reads like a downward spiral, with each revolution marked by some variation of the phrase, “again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

Each time it gets worse.

Each time the person leading the people of Israel gets worse.

Each time it is worse because they have turned more fully away from the Lord.

What was their evil?

It was a violation of covenant. A violation of an agreement with the Most Holy God. The One who brought them out of Egypt, out of slavery. The One who removed them from under the hand of their oppressors. The One who drove out those who would oppress Israel so that they might receive the land of their inheritance.

It was a violation to love the Lord their God and serve Him only. It was bowing down to other gods, to idols made, sometimes from their own hands, instead of the One True God.

It was prostitution of self for the purpose of self-indulgence at the cost of true identity, at the cost of the relationship that mattered most.

I do not have idols of metal, wood, or stone.

But that does not mean I do not have idols.

I do not prostitute myself to Baal.

But that does not mean I do not attempt to sell myself off to the lowest bidder, to the cheapest thrill or hope of love, forsaking the greatest love readily available and freely given in the hope of something that feels a little easier.

Our idols are not the idols of Israel during the time of the Judges. But that does not mean we do not serve idols of our own making, idols of this time, today.

The evil we do in the eyes of the Lord may look different on the surface than the evil of Israel, but the cost is the same. Each choice we make to choose ourselves over Him is a step away from Him and toward the worship of self; the worship of what each one of us sees fit to do.

What calls you from your worship of the Lord?

What tries to promise an easier love than the love available to you in Christ?

Mar 4, 2013

low light & loud music

One sits at the kitchen table, computer open, listening, watching, homeworking.

Another lays face down on the floor, listening.

And the last sits on the couch, legs stretched out, alternating between singing along with the music and completing an assignment.

The lights are low and the music is loud.

"I love this," one says.

The other two nod in assent.

"I needed this," another one says.

The other two murmur agreement.

"I love you both," the other one says.

"I love you both, too," the other two reply from their respective places on floor and couch.

Each exactly where she is this evening, physically, mentally, spiritually.



Feb 28, 2013

Everyone did as he saw fit

I close my Bible and push it across the coffee shop’s small table as far away from me as I can. The ugliness hangs around me, the depravity. I close my eyes and shake my head, trying to clear the images from the last chapters of Judges from my mind.

Gang rape. Murder. Brother turning against brother. More murder. More rape.

This is the Word of Lord?

[Thanks be to God.]

I'm starting a new series based on my study of the book of Judges. You can find the rest of this post over at A Deeper Church.

Feb 19, 2013

Jesus and side hugs

She is perched on the counter, legs crossed, face animated, as she tells me about her week, about what she’s been processing about God and Church and life. I am moving back and forth between cutting board and stove top, preparing a meal for us to share. It is long overdue, and our time together has been via screen rather than face to face for too long.

“Haley. I feel like Jesus would never side hug me!” she says.

I laugh and nod because it is true. And because the way she sees Jesus, the way she loves Jesus is beautiful and true. She calls me out of my scholarship, even as she loves to learn what I am learning, and invites me to dance around my kitchen with Jesus just because.

And, because it’s what we do and how we met, I tweet her statement.

We settle onto the couch with plates of dinner, a selection of nail polishes, and James Bond. By the end of the movie her statement has at least 20 retweets. Which, sure, isn’t anything to write home about, or tweet about, but followers and stats are not the point here. The point is that something about Jesus pulling us close with both arms hits home.

Jesus would never side hug you.

Jesus does not side hug you.

He faces you square on, and wraps both of his arms around you.

He pulls you close into a full body hug.

Because Jesus isn’t afraid of you, or of what it means if, in hugging you, your boobs touch his chest.

Because Jesus isn’t afraid of what someone else will think if they see two dudes locked in a full on embrace without any back patting.

Because nothing about the cross is a side hug.

The cross is a full on embrace of the mess and dirt and sin of who we are, exactly where we are.

So no, Jesus would never, ever side hug you. Ever.

Feb 7, 2013

Communion Is Not An Individual Exercise

This is the fifth post in a bi-weekly five part series. It is inspired by the book of 1 Corinthians and my studies of that book. Posts will have appeared here and on A Deeper Church. Read the previous posts in the series:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

They learned first the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine in Paul’s eighteen months with them. It was a symbol, a reminder, a representation of the Truth they had come to believe. It was entering into not just union with their Savior, but communion. A meeting. A joining together. The Spirit, the Son, and the Father reaching out to one another as hands reached out for bread and goblet.

And though bread and wine were staples in their homes, they did not mean the same when digested and imbibed alone, apart from one another. Bread and wine commingled and traveled down the esophagus, melding together in the stomach. But there was no communion. It was just a meal. But together, in those early days, together it was the Body of Christ come alive in their midst. As the Spirit of God indwelt each of them individually, the Spirit reached out to itself from with each of them. Communing with itself as they communed with one another.

At that table, with bread and wine and a God who had saved them, who was saving them, who would save them still, they entered into communion. Yes, through the sharing of bread and wine because his body was broken and his blood was shed. And they entered into communion because they were community. They were the Body he left on earth to point others to the body that hung on a cross. To the body that death could not hold. To the body that destroyed death forever for all who would believe and put their faith in him.

And so they communed.

But when bread and wine become food and drink, and tallies are kept of who brought what and if they brought the best wine and the tastiest bread, or simply what they could afford, communion withers and the table becomes a place of judgment. When bread and wine and body broke and blood shed become tools for division, there is no communion.

As we read that they sat and ate and drank, not sharing but withholding, not in communion but in disunion, dividing, not abiding, I cannot help but think of our own communion tables. Of goblets and loaves, of plastic cups in gilded trays and paper-like wafers that stick to tongues as words of reminder, words of communion, words of body broken and blood shed are poured out over us, calling us together. Do you feel it? Can you hear it? That longing of the Spirit within you crying out for Itself, crying out to Itself through walls we have erected to keep us from those who do not commune as we do? Or simply the longing to commune beside another body as we the Body take and break and eat and drink as individuals?

Spirit cries out to Spirit as we attempt to commune with the Savior alone.

But we were never meant to commune alone. Unity with one’s self is simply an individual. One. One person. Alone.

But if we are to be like him, to commune with him, then we must commune with each other. We must be united with him, in him, and with one another.

Because his body was broken, yes. His body was broken so that this body of broken sinners turned redeemed saints might never have to experience that breaking.

Let us break bread and drink wine.

Let it remind us of the breaking of his body so that this Body might never be broken.

How does your church take communion?
Do you take communion alone or with others?
How do you practice communion with the Body?

Feb 4, 2013

A Defiant Dance of Power, Not Sex? I Beg to Differ

I sit on the bus, catching my breath after chasing it down to the next stop, school and gym bag that bounced haphazardly now crammed on my lap as I try not to invade the small amount of personal space that is my neighbor's in our shared two seats. My elbows balance on my bag as I scroll through Facebook on my phone, and a shared post catches my eye, “A Defiant Dance of Power, Not Sex: Beyonce, the Superbowl, and Durga.”

I am wary, but I tap the link and read the post. The author’s intro is catchy, calling out the way we see what we expect to see, not what really is. And it’s true, stereotypes are rooted deep within each of us, grown and watered and fed before we know how to fight them. I appreciate his panoramic perspective of the stage, and I remember those long shots from the halftime show. There certainly were a lot of people—a lot of women—on that stage.

But I physically react, when I read his use of the word prophetic. Her performance was prophetic. Beyonce’s performance was a prophetic statement about female power.

"Because BeyoncĂ©’s performance Sunday night in New Orleans wasn’t about sex. It was about power, and BeyoncĂ© had it in spades. In fact, her show was one of the most compelling, embodied and prophetic statements of female power I have seen on mainstream television."

Did Beyonce command the attention of the stadium and viewers at home? Absolutely.

Was it refreshing to see a woman who doesn’t fit the waify supermodel image we are so used to seeing? Absolutely, yes.

Was it prophetic? No. No it was not prophetic.

Beyonce’s performance is not some predictive performance about the future of women in faith. It was not some predictive performance about the future of women, regardless of their faith, in America or anywhere else in the world.

It was sex and it was power.

Yes, sex and power taken captive and used by a woman, by many women, but for what purpose?

Sex and power are the tools of our culture, they are the tools that have been used to build up the platform upon which unreachable standards of beauty are held.

They are the tools used to build the multibillion dollar porn industry.

They are the tools that allow the Super Bowl to have the largest audience with the most sexually aggressive marketing platform.

Sex and power are no different when wielded by women.

As Audre Lorde [an African-American writer and feminist] said, as she railed against the racism she saw within the feminist movement, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support."

Please, please hear me when I say this: You cannot use the tools of those in power to dismantle that same power structure. It does not work.

If it did, Jesus would have come as a Roman centurion, wielding a Roman sword. He would have come as a Pharisee among Pharisees, rising quickly with his innovative interpretation of the Torah.

But that is not how he came here.

He did not pick up a Roman sword.

He did not stand in the synagogues or on the streets to be honored by men.

He came as the last and the least.

He was born in hole on the side of a hill, only to die on a cross atop a different hill some thirty-odd years later.

He fought, but he did not fight with sword or Mishnah.

He used the tools of the Master to dismantle the power structures of this world. He used love and justice rooted in Truth, not culturally relevant truth.

He used the lowly things of this world to shame the wise.

Jan 25, 2013

One Body Many Parts

This is the fourth post in a five part series inspired by the book of 1 Corinthians and my studies of that book. Posts appear here and on my personal blog. Read the previous posts in the series:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

This Body.

Oh, this Body.

The beauty of this Body.

The diversity of this Body.

Would this Body be as beautiful without all its diversity?

Would this Body accomplish much were it all made of the same two or three parts?

My heart shouts a joyful, “no!” This Body is beautiful because it is different. Because seemingly disparate parts come together in harmony and make beautiful music, create beautiful images of God for all the world to see and hear and taste and touch and smell.

You can read the rest of this post over at A Deeper Church. I'll see you there.

Jan 7, 2013

Deuteronomy, Zombie Dreams, and Jesus, Oh My!

Today is the first day of a week long intensive class called, "Torah." One of our pre-class assignments was to read Deuteronomy in its entirety.


Out loud.

One of the two times we were to read the book straight through.

I did my second reading last night, and I read it straight through and aloud in my new apartment while consuming copious amounts of water in attempts to stave off a cold, lubricate my dry throat, and counteract all the screaming I'd done as I watched the Seahawks trounce the Redskins in the first playoff game. (GO SEAHAWKS!)

Shortly after I finished my reading, which took about three hours, I went to bed, exhausted physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I fell asleep relatively quickly, but my sleep was restless and marred by a disturbing dream which came straight out of Deuteronomy 28.

Here's the deal about Deuteronomy, it is beautiful. It is Moses's final farewell to Israel, and in it he and God do all they can to make sure Israel has everything she needs to follow after the Lord, to keep His commands and to walk in His ways. Throughout the book variations of the phrases, "so that it may go well with you," and, "so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you," are repeated, underscoring for Israel the purpose of the Law the Lord has given them.

Then, toward the end of the book, Moses spells out exactly what blessings Israel will experience through her faithfulness to the law, and conversely, exactly what curses Israel will experience when (Yes, it says when and not if. Oh how the Lord knows our wicked hearts) they broke the covenant they had made with the Lord.

The blessings are beautiful and make it so very clear that God loves Israel with a big, rich, deep, and everlasting love.

The curses are as terrible as the blessings are beautiful, and are made all the more terrible because Moses is explicit in his description of the curses.* The curse that always hits me, that twists my gut is Deuteronomy 28:56-57, it describes the behavior of Israel when they are under siege from other nations, "The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns." And it was this passage that I dreamed about last night.

Holed up in an abandoned building, so close I could hear the screaming, trapped with a few companions who had not resorted to eating the flesh of those we loved, we hid. One of us wanted to return to her family, to save a relative, her sister I think, to try to save her from the horror. I think we decided it wasn't possible, that if she went back she would certainly be consumed.

I awoke, terrified. But I did not fully awaken, and so I laid there, eyes closed, half awake, trying to figure out how we could retake the city, strategizing ways to keep safe and prevent such behavior from spreading. I laid and wondered how long it would take for everyone, myself included, to give in to that awful, terrible behavior.

Somehow I managed to fall back asleep, to fall fully into a dreamless sleep. As I made my way into work I thought about that dream, and I thought about Israel. I thought about all the times Israel lived out those covenant curses, yes, even the ones where mothers ate their own children. I thought about the purpose of the law, and how sometimes it seems a list would be easier than grace.

The law was never meant as a means for salvation, and I am still working out my understanding of the purpose of the law. But what I saw last night in my dream, what I read yesterday in my Bible, and what I know today more than I knew yesterday, is that I need Jesus. I need him because without him my heart is wicked.

*And yes, I think God's love lives just as loud in the midst of these curses.