Finally Showing Up

And Still We Rise-16

I show up this morning with failure on my mind, humility in my heart, and regret in my march.  I did not show up all these years. That failure is ringing loudly in my ear.  How is this my first time exercising the right to protest?  The regret within me responds with each step I take.  I am white.  I am heterosexual.  I am afraid.  I am lacking in empathy.  I am complacent.  I am disobedient to the teachings of my faith.  I choose to be these things no more.  And the self absorbed myopia melts into the pavement as I join the rhythm of the march.  With one voice raised in opposition to the rise of the Trump era of unkindness and authoritarian leadership, we declare an unwillingness to accept the normalization of the words he actually speaks.

We know.  We know this true.  Several muses through the ages have made this point…

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.” *

Fear is the emotion that awakens us.  Anger is the emotion that unites us. Love is the emotion that grounds us. Hope is the emotion that motivates us.  But hovering above our collective emotion, are the better angels of our nature.  They guide us as we seek to actualize justice in this moment.  In this day.  In this era.

Hate must not win.  Love can drive out fear…if we show up and stand united against the misappropriation of power.  We are here.  This is real.  The we that are gathered here are as varied as can be.  We will not stand by to see our fellow Americans shutdown, shutout, or shouted down for being other.  We will not stand by while a president elected to represent our interests amplifies nationalism and separatism from the podium during his very first address as President of the United States.  We are not silent.  The world is not silent.  The we on every single continent rises up to greet such tyranny with a loud undeniable opposition.

And then I come home.  I am confronted with response.  The numbers are much higher than anticipated. I feel the weight of this moment in history.  So many showed up. Woke up.  Spoke up.  No arrests, no rioting.  I begin to hear devaluing, confusion, opposition to our opposition.  I listen.  We did not need permission to march and the act of marching in solidarity is all the statement that is needed.  It is our right.  The act of the march was not designed to exclude, but I hear some felt left aside.  Being the other is frightening, saddening, angering.  We are crystal clear about that. I long for us to come together.

I lay my head down for rest.  I cast gaze towards what can be.  Tomorrow can be our best moment ever.  Hope swells inside of me, bursting into my dreams as I drift off to slumber.  May today’s action create space for tomorrow’s equality.

* The origin of this quote is disputed.  Some version of these words have been credited to Margaret Thatcher, Frank Outlaw, Gandhi, and multiple other spiritual leaders. I have chosen to add uncredited because I cannot trace the original author and have concluded this truth stands on merit.  Essay police, I beg mercy.*

Kind of sick of the sky is falling rhetoric surrounding church decline

***This essay was first posted on 11/13/13***

“Life is pain, Highness. 

Anyone who says differently is selling something.

The Princess Bride

I have been marinated in this sort of cynicism most of my life, it’s all around me in culture, in peer pressure, in the human condition.  So when I live out my faith on a daily basis, this is the mentality I’m up against inside my own head as I contemplate my attendance at church each week, or how I’m going to give, or in which ways I will serve.

You see there is truth in this quote.  A part of life is pain, but it is not the only part of the human experience.  For me to live a balanced life I need to be open to experiencing pain, joy, anger, hope, grief, jealousy, faith, despair, and love.  Yes, I need community, but I need that as much as, I need solitude.  Yes, I need communal worship, but I need that as much as, I need private meditation.  Yes, I need to be growing alongside other believers, but I need that as much as, I need my own identity that is separate from the group.

So let me say a few things that will probably counter the current thinking about church decline:

When I don’t show up on Sunday morning, I’m not struggling with consumerism spirituality.  I need a balanced community of faith.  I don’t expect the church to meet all of my needs on a transactional basis.  I want to be present and to give without abandon, but I do need kindness and sadly that is what the church is lacking during this transition into the digital age.  There is a lack of kindness all around us by way of social media and in real life so if the church feels too much like the rest of my life, I don’t always feel compelled to get out of bed on a Sunday morning.  It’s really that simple.

In this season of my living, I feel like I’m finding the balance that will work for me in regard to my worship attendance, my financial giving, and my offering of time and talent and it doesn’t follow the rules of *good christian*.  If I’m not showing up to church on a Sunday morning it’s partially my stuff and it’s partially the way church is living out the faith.  

When I don’t show up on a Sunday morning it’s not because I feel like church isn’t relevant anymore.  I need to be able to have trust for the institution in this age.  Some powerful injustices have been carried out by church leaders around the world for centuries and in this age, clergy members were allowed to victimize the youngest and most vulnerable amongst us.  And I don’t care to hear the defense that we are not the Catholic Church, because here is a truth I know in the depths of all I am…every denomination has these sorts of skeletons in the closet.   Until the church gets really serious about reconciliation in this age, decline will continue to be a reality.  The church has lost the trust of culture and for good reason.  I don’t know how to reconcile the level of inconsistency that goes on for me between what the church is telling me it’s about and what I am experiencing the church actually being about.  The church created the rupture of trust, it is on the church to bridge the gap.

Until we, as the body of believers understand that we are responsible to come alongside those in pain and offer more than some gimmick, we will be in decline.  Honestly, if we spent half of the energy being spent on articulating, bemoaning, theorizing, diagnosing, and criticizing about church decline and redirected it towards helping victims rebuild their lives, things would begin to turn around.  

I’m sick of the rhetoric and I’m inside the body of believers.   I can’t even imagine what someone on the outside looking in is thinking and feeling.  So let’s get more serious about turning things around, not just talk about why things need turning around.  The church cannot just gloss over the pain of the people, especially because in some cases, church leadership created the pain.

Instead we need to put all of our energy towards…

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Galatians 5:22,23

… and that sort of living will take all of our energy.  It’s that simple.

Facebook Killed the High School Reunion…

*** This essay was originally posted on 7/24/13 ***

My 20th High School Reunion was a week or so ago…

I stayed home.  I stayed in my comfy clothes and played Words With Friends with a friend I’ve known since middle school.  I didn’t want to brave the age old tradition where I might be faced with basic questions like place of employment, marital status, or where I feel like my success and happiness is on a scale of 1 to 10.

In the months leading up to the reunion I had some difficulty deciding whether to attend or not.  At the 10 year reunion it honestly didn’t even occur to me to think very deeply about whether I would attend the planned festivities.  I was a new mom and I was right where I had chosen to be in my life…

Career of my choice- check

Happily married- check

Blissfully mothering-check

…so I was excited and deliciously curious about reconnecting with friends from the past.  I was also still marching to the drum of conformity in my life, so I was not even aware of the conflict within my soul.

Sure I dealt with the anxiety that one faces when attempting to squeeze my *just had a baby* body into a cute little black dress I had no business wearing postpartum.  I silenced the fear/jealousy/inadequacy/pettiness/just plain ol’ fashion meanness and I put on my masked smile and graceful countenance.  Then I dragged dh along on my descent into high school memory lala-land.  I regretted that *decision* immediately upon entrance to the hotel where our banquet was being held and that feeling stuck with me the whole night.  It was like a monkey on my back and I just couldn’t shake it.

The timing this time around isn’t nearly as neat a fit for me; that and everyone I know is on Facebook now, so I’ve pretty much had my curiosity satiated regarding what my fellow classmates are up to these days.  The reality of my life in this season is messy and lacks an airbrushed photoshop appeal.  Though my head knows I’m most certainly not alone in this reality, the 17 year old girl within my heart is still not convinced.

My chosen life, well…

If by *career* you mean kid wrangler/referee/ taxi driver/no fun voice of reason- then check.

If by *happily married* you mean the honeymoon is a distant memory so now it’s a daily decision, not an experiential bliss in this season- then check.

If by *blissfully mothering* you mean bliss comes only while tuning out the noise of little people who refer to me as mom, just to crush some candy- then check.

I can fake it on Facebook, but I will not put myself through the misery of attempting to fake anything at that level of magnitude in real life.  I don’t even want to fake it anymore, because I am okay with reality.  Here’s the thing…when I am fully present with my own reality, I am really good with my chosen life, especially because of the messiness.  When I am not excessively anxious about what everyone else seems to be pretending to do, then I am deeply connected with the peace that my life is exactly where it needs to be.  I can’t condense this truth into cocktail banter with people I don’t know anymore except by their profile picture and airbrushed Facebook presence.  And so, I did not make myself climb into my 17 year old self suit and pretend it still fits my life.

Hey, I’m mature enough to acknowledge that attending my high school reunion is a choice that I exercised by staying home, but not yet mature enough to show up to said reunion as my true self…thus the Words With Friends Marathon and subsequent blog post in which I’m publicly processing/ defending my decision on the internet.  You know…because that makes sense.

I guess there is always another decade to develop such skills, but if there is any luck, something newfangled will pop up and kill Facebook for us…and I’ll be saved again.

One Can Only Hope.

Will The Real Mom Please Stand Up

***  Originally posted on 6/26/13***

I have a very strong parental defense system activated in my world.  It is a state of the art system designed to protect me and frankly my wee ones from the infamous syndrome that threatens our very happiness. This syndrome is a very common ailment in any era…yes *The Stay at Home Mother Monotony*  that all too often progresses into the more advanced disease of *Crazy Momma Rage* is alive and well in the 21st century.  Thankfully though, I get to do this job in this era and I have options to protect myself and my family…from ME.  The me that hears the messages of what a *good mom* is supposed to look like.

I love me some Pinterest(TM)…of course I do.  I’m one of those insane crafters that used to have file folders full of ideas  So now I can do that virtually.  I also feel grateful for  Facebook(TM) as it replaced the mothering message boards I relied heavily on as I nursed my wee ones.  You see my kids were babies when Facebook(TM) was still mostly college students and though I was a cool youth worker who had an account, no one in my peer group did so my it was not yet a part of my parental defense system.  

Smart phones came onto the scene somewhere in the middle of my 7 years of navigating 3 kids through toddlerhood.  When my oldest was toddling about, I used to hand him my cell phone to play with, and he loved it.  Of course he couldn’t surf the web while I was distracted, but then by the time my third one came along he could find game apps on my phone before I could.  The smart phone allowed me to text with adults and snap pictures in such a way that I could feel connected to the adult world even while not actually being connected in reality.  And finally, no system would be complete without the power of television and in my defense measures this option has evolved as we have evolved.  What started as Baby Einstein(TM) and Sesame Street(TM), grew up into a Ninjago(TM), Adventure Time,(TM) Good Luck Charlie(TM) relief system.   And now there is Netflix(TM), Amazon Instant Video(TM), and YouTube(TM) options for streaming from one of the three laptops sitting on my dining room table or the iPad(TM) and 3DS(TM) in the next room.

Needless to say, I have a fully capable, top of the line, pay through the nose system to keep the peace in my house.  And I am not the only home with this kind of defense system so let’s just talk frankly about a few things:

I won’t be ashamed about the truth that I implement tactics of smoke and mirrors with my children or that I rely on technology to occupy my kids when I am just fried or the day ends with y.  This job is hard.  This job is even harder during the summer months.  Kids of working parents go on massive trips to amusement parks and have built in play dates…and I celebrate that they have great options for childcare, in fact I want to be their children it sounds like so much fun.  I also honor the truth that the grass is not greener on the working parent side of the fence, just different.  I am the cruise director for my family though, and I suck at that part of this job.

On day two of our summer I had to have the, “We are going to have a long summer if you beg, whine, and act ungrateful with every answer I give to every asinine request you little people come up with.”  Sometimes I will say yes, sometime I will say no.  Cope.  And if you choose to fight with each other the referee retired, so you’re going to have to fight to the death or figure out a way to live with your siblings without school friends to buffer.  Hey it’s survival of the fittest…may the odds be ever in your favor.(TM)

I am not a social coordinator, sit on the floor and play for hours, chess playing, make food from scratch kind of mother.  I am a legos on my living room floor 24/7 and those are just mine that I sometimes let the kids play with too, do awesome art outside, take you through drive thru when it’s too hot to cook kind of mom.  I gotta work with my strengths man and my kids need to learn how to celebrate my uniqueness in the same way I spend every day trying to celebrate theirs.  

I have many friends that are better at the things I suck at and I love their presence in my life…my kids would have never known what a home cooked cherry pie tasted like if it wasn’t for Miss Julia, or would never get out of the house in the summer if it wasn’t for Mama Christine or their grandparents.  

So in the spirit of working within my strengths, here is what is happening at my house this first full week of summer:

I was designing scrapbook pages for an upcoming workshop and it inspired Baby J to make her own.  See, she thought she was my helper…but really it was a distraction for her that she made beautiful while I had to keep my home business nurtured.(TM)

My kids made this while I was still in bed at 8 AM.  I’m a night owl, not a morning person, and my kids are still alive which is proof that they have found ways to adapt to my particular brand of crazy.(TM)

I believe my kids need education in the summer and science seems fun until you have to clean up the mess of discovery.  I bought this on line for like $20 and we all spent a morning doing the activities in this kit.  I am not cool enough to come up with this on my own, but I am cool enough to order fun off Amazon.(TM)

Empathy Explained

My weest one has been sick since last week and I overheard this on the tv while I was going about our day and it cracked me up!  I am grateful the tv is instilling the type of emotional intelligence I desire for my kids!

 I am doing my best to be my kiddos real mom, in my real life, connecting with my real kids regardless of my circumstances or what the real world shouts I *should be* doing.  I am me, and I love my kids, and I love them best of all when I relax and roll with the reality of messy living.  I don’t have to be all things to all people.  I need to be an honest, kind, and real mom to my three sweet souls.  That’s my job, no matter what culture is saying constitutes a *good* mom.   

***This blog post was created while one child was watching Sweet Life of Zack and Cody(TM) on the iPad(TM), another was watching the Avengers(TM) cartoon in the living room, and the third one was with Grandma and Grandpa(TM).  all is right in our world! Oh and I am too hot and tired to actually research the legality of using all of these brand names in this post so I’m adding a few extra  (TM)(TM)(TM) for good measure…***

Stuck In The Middle

***  Originally posted on 5/8/13 ***

Rachel Held Evans sometimes takes the loose ends inside my own brain and heart and weaves them together in her blog posts.  She does this in such a way that my loose ends get integrated into coherent thoughts and emotion and then suddenly I have my voice again.  Every time she does this through her posts I think, “Yeah, what she said” and then I feel compelled to throw my perspective into the blogosphere.  Last week Rachel dove into the issue that led me into a moderate stance politically, socially, and spiritually… and not just on the issue at hand, but really in all areas of my life.  I usually avoid the issue of abortion in this age because it is deeply personal to me…though not in the way you might think.  I have not ever had an abortion, but I have been up close and personal with a dear friend who has had more than one abortion.  I won’t share that story because it is sacred and it is not mine.  I can share what it was like to live my life walking with her through hers because it changed everything for me and I could know longer see human issues in absolutes.  The world lost it’s black or white nuance and questions started surfacing about every belief I held and it happened in rapid succession.

Read This:

Why Progressive Christians Should Care About Abortion

I think our nation has lost the ability to publicly proclaim that we just don’t know the answer to some moral dilemmas in this current political and social climate.  We need to stop and reclaim the truth that we are failing to let into the light on the public stage.  In truth here’s how I see it:

Humanity, policy, politics, faith, science, morality, sexuality…there is mystery and unknown within each issue.  On purpose.  God wants us to have the freedom to discover ourselves, others, and the Creator/ Redeemer/Advocate (God three in one).  

When we truly allow the light to shine over reality, it is hard to deny this one core dynamic that keeps the truth somewhat in the middle between all or nothing.  The unknown, the mystery, the undefinable, the subjective.  We can choose to be led by fear and deny or reject the existence of the gray.  We can also instead choose to be curious and humble in the face of not knowing and be challenged to grow and let go of control.

We live in a broken world and we are a broken species…but with grace,  healing and reconciliation are possible in the exact way God created this earth and humanity.  The earth is hard wired to repair and restore.  To use ash and decay to bring forth new life and beauty.  We too are made to heal and evolve.

The most important truth I know is that Love is absolute.  So no matter what the topic of conversation comes into play, love will guide my principles.  Love will guide my thoughts and with the intervention of the Advocate (the Holy Spirit),  love will guide my behavior.

So I proclaim… I am right smack dab in the middle with the issue of abortion.  Life is precious and it is a gift.  With this particular issue…both lives are a part of the equation, and in fact there are many more lives in the equation because a pregnant woman is always in relationship within community…at least in relationship with a man-the silent partner that helped her get into the situation at hand.  And so everyone is affected, the issue of unplanned pregnancies does not exist in a vacuum.

I am grateful Rachel spoke up about feeling stuck in the middle.  She gave me the courage to stand up and say I don’t know what is the right direction and to acknowledge that the answers are not one size fits all.  I have mostly stayed silent about this issue because I am in the middle, but I cannot stay on the sidelines anymore.  I stand with women who find themselves in the crossfire of the issue of pregnancy termination.  I grieve with the loss of life…whether it be the new life created within her or it be the life as she knew it…or both.  I see the anquish and I feel compassion.  I come alongside and I pray.  I can’t fix it… but I can weep with my sisters and brothers.

Happy Mother’s Day

*** This essay was originally posted on 5/12/13 ***

I have a complicated relationship with this holiday…. it’s always struck me as a bit like forced intimacy. I’ve gone through the many seasons of my response to a holiday that is filled with expectation.  I’ve loved it, I’ve hated it, I’ve been hurt by it…and “it'” is just a holiday…nothing more…nothing less.

A couple of months ago I ran across a you tube video that piqued my curiosity.  It was a bit o’ propaganda so I won’t share it, but there was enough truth in the middle of the attempt to manipulate me towards a particular ideology, that I began doing a bit of research on the history of this hallmark holiday.

What I found to be true helps me integrate this particular day in a much more joyful and holistic way.  You see the beef I have with this holiday is that motherhood is an art and a science.  I don’t want to be told how to honor my mother and I don’t want to be told on which day to do so.  I love my mother and I am grateful for her presence in my life.  I want the way I live to be the honoring of this woman I hold so dear.  I also don’t want my children to feel forced to pay me homage.  I want them to live big lives with passion, conviction, joy, and integrity.  That is all the honor I desire.  The thing about this consumer culture is that many voices shout out that to be a good child or to be a good mother…you have to send cards, flowers, and gifts.  But this day did not originate in anything materialistic.  The materialism strips empowerment from this day…this movement.

Read This:

Mothers are the main attachment figure for the next generation.  Some women never get to have children of their own, but they are still mothers if the care about and advocate for the next generation.  Support mothers in our world, because it is hard work.  Daily work.  Thankless work.

No more guilt or shame for doing the right thing in the eyes of some advertising executive who told us we are not quite good enough unless we consume and we bind ourselves and our families up in unrealistic expectations.  Instead there is an opportunity to excavate those passions that can heal the world, heal our communities, heal our families, heal ourselves.

On this Mothers Day I dream this gift for us all… that we find the fire in our bellies that will lead us to join a movement that speaks to the humanity all around us.   If your passion is new life, support new life.  If your passion is adoption, advocate for that.  If your passion is gender equality, connect with a young girl and pour into her and then connect with a young boy and pour into him.  If your passion is the homeless, give.  If your passion is peace, serve a veteran.

My passions are pretty obvious.  Gender equality, attachment issues for children, sexual violence advocacy, and a kinder faith expression within the church that stands on the teachings of Jesus.  Rather than feel anxious and bound up, I will spend energy on advancing those causes.  I will still enjoy cards and gifts.  I will still give cards and gifts… because I want to, and that’s okay too.  No guilt, no shame…just joy and love.

Happy Mothers Day!

The Wall and Why it Matters


***  Originally posted on 4/5/13 ***

I had this very skillfully written essay crafted to dive into the controversial waters of the big issues of marriage equality and it was very articulate.  It was also very divisive with unbridled ego chest banging and gnashing of teeth.  I was chastising those within the church for the unkind arrogance and I was verbally attacking the more progressive thinkers in and outside of the church for their righteous indignation.  I bemoaned the way the politicians on both sides of the aisle are not being helpful and it was poetic.  But as important as it is to think critically about what our leaders and peers are saying, my tone gave my secret away… I was not offering commentary, I was offering judgement and that is just no good.  I don’t want to use my voice in that way and so after pondering I decided to scrap it and speak a very different truth with the space I have carved out here.

I choose to use my voice to speak truth as I see it and my soul is crying out to speak to the underbelly of many social justice issues at hand, not just the current favored topic of conversation.  I feel we need to bring light to the underlying dynamic that has our culture trapped in an unending battle of ideals with little room for kindness, justice, freedom, and reconciliation.  Until we as a people confront the dysfunctional systems that keep us all in gridlock, we will continue to deteriorate as a culture.  Our core problems are not feminism, or conservatism, or liberalism, progressivism, relativism, humanism, capitalism, communism, terrorism, or any of the other isms.  Our problem is how we are responding to the changing times we are living in.

There is a silent majority in our midst and I know this with all that I am…because I am part of it.  The silent majority includes most of my friends, family, and peers within the church and outside of the church.  I am sick of the rhetoric and I am not alone in this sentiment.  Yet I stay quiet.  I stay quiet out of fear.  I stay quiet out of a desire to be respectful.  I stay quiet to calm the waters.  But I cannot not stay quiet anymore.  I will use my voice to call upon our leaders and advocate for moderation, because we need moderation now more than anything else.  The silent majority must rise up with one voice and declare that we stand for something very different from the voices that are shouting over the people for the last word.  That time is now.  People matter.  People are suffering at the hand of those in power and this is not the American way.

I will use my voice to speak out against injustice, even if that means that I will face social consequence.  I want to shed my polite girl cloak and speak with the voice of my full humanity.  I want to shy away from judgement yet speak directly to my point.  And here is what my belly yearns to speak freely…

I consider one of the most unique aspects of our American democracy to be the separation between Church and State.  I do not want the government to be granted the power to define my religious belief system nor how I can express my beliefs in any way.  On the other hand, I do not want the church to be granted the power to define my rights and my liberty based upon some moral high ground that declares they know what is godly and what is just because God told them so.  This separation is the thing I cling to always.  It is what I would die for.  I am willing to concede that others will not agree nor participate in my chosen form of religion or morality, because if I want that freedom then others deserve the same.  I am also willing to concede that the law cannot be dictated solely on the grounds of my particular moral code.  I make such concessions to preserve the separation of government and religion, so that our society can maintain balance.  Saying all of this though, I must also express the reality that just because the law allows something, doesn’t mean I have to adopt everything that is legal into my personal moral code or spiritual journey and neither does anyone else.  Those things get to be mutuality exclusive because that is the point of the separation between church and state.  Every person’s self evident rights rest not on group think, but rather the ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  Laws ideally provide a balance between personal and collective liberty, so that we can all pursue these virtues.

Most of the social issues of our time or of any age really, are intimate and they are not black and white, so of course we are going to disagree with how to address the issues.  That is a good thing, not a liability.  So from the middle I say to the loud voice on either side of me…stop blaming the middle ground or the opposing side for our cultural decay just because we disagree about solutions.  In fact, stop blaming anyone for the problems we face and start controlling your temper and the way you are communicating.  We all need to come to the middle ground to resolve these dynamics.  Humanity, liberty, and empathy live in the middle ground between opposing ideals, that’s why our democracy has worked to this point.  Let’s trust it to continue working and submit to the art of compromise.

Thomas Jefferson wrote these words to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1801 addressing the social issue of his time and they still ring true today:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

If we use the wall of separation to ensure our right to exercise our religious freedom, we must also use this wall to ensure that rights are not denied based on one specific religious ideology.

Poetic Stillness In the Chaos of Oppression

***  Originally posted on 3/15/13 ***

This is a very important article and I highly recommend you read it and the come back here for my thoughts on the issues raised in this article…

I stumbled upon this article a bit ago and it’s been on my heart ever since.  It is amazing to me sometimes how much I can take for granted the freedoms I have in my life and my corner of the world. I have the freedom to the sort of education I want.  I have the freedom to choose my path for career/ marriage/ child bearing/ child rearing endeavors and can choose how best to balance those endeavors in my life.  I even have the right to spew my narcissistic internal monologue all over the Internet via blog, tweet, or facebook status update; so when I have something to say, be it poetic or prose, I can do so without fear for my life.

I have a voice if I choose to speak up and even with the gender inequality that is still present in our country during this age, I don’t have to hide my gift set or my artistic expression under a bushel…even in the church. (at least many corners of the church)

But there are sisters a half a world away in a place we have a large military presence, that have none of these freedoms.  My heart aches for this reality.  I feel like being aware of the life of Afghan women has fallen out of fashion in our pop culture.  I want to scream…this issue isn’t a trend, or at least it shouldn’t be, this issue is a human rights calamity.  There has been progress, but more is still needed.

For the women who are silenced and for the women who’s poetry and prose is snuffed out too soon, I  take pause and direct all of my feminine and artistic energy to shine light on this issue in our world.  I grieve for the loss of life and creation and pay respect to poets whose artistic expression remains secret.

One of the women interviewed in the article wrote this and I feel it honor’s the spirit of many young poetic women lost too soon.

“Her memory will be a flower tucked into literature’s turban.

In her loneliness, every sister cries for her.”  Ogai Amail

The “F” word…

*** Originally posted on 2/2/13 ***


Why did I feel squeamish to identify myself as a feminist for so many years?  Maybe because of the way those in opposition of equality spun the word to have a negative connotation.  Maybe because the title feminism itself is exclusionary.  Whatever the reason, I have made peace with the truth and can speak freely about the idea I hold most dear in my value system.

I stand for equality regardless of gender, sexuality, race, age, fashion taste, economic status, religious persuasion or lack there of, etc…

I’ve been steeped in reading about gender studies recently and my mind is growing and spinning and creating.  Most of the fruit of my labour I am not ready to share just yet, but there is one thing I want to put out in the world:

We don’t need a Third Wave of Feminism as much as we need a First Wave of Egalitarianism.

Feminism is not a bad word and I hate that the spin doctors stole it and tainted it, but I now believe it is for the better… because the Feminist Movement can now evolve into a movement that will be more accessible to people everywhere.  We have an opportunity to organize around more than just women’s issues.  We can organize around the underlying belief of feminism that suggests that men and women are equal, without getting caught in the fruitless power struggle that erupted at the end of the second wave of feminism.  Semantics are important when you are organizing around ideals and when the movement is identified in divisive language it put people like me off.  I have two sons and a daughter.  I want physical, emotional, spiritual, economic, and intellectual equality for all three of them.  So lets get to work and actualize this ideal for the next generations and stop being divided because of a word.

The Balance of Liberty

*** This essay was originally posted on 8/28/12 ***

I am unapologetic in my anti-abortion morality.  I am also unapologetic in my stance of pro-choice legislatively.  Rarely do I ever speak publicly about my personal and political positions on the issue of abortion, because on first look, my positions seem to be in conflict.  Then the issue of health care reform hits our cultural dialogue and I see another layer of why my beliefs fit for me.  The issue of the Health and Human Services Mandate brings home the reason I come down the way I do on the issue of abortion.  The bottom line is an issue of civil liberties.  I don’t want the government to be able to dictate to me about issues that involve my body, my reproductive options, my socio-economic opportunity, my ability to earn a wage, or how to practice whatever faith I choose to submit to.   

The mandate requires non-church, faith organizations to offer medical coverage for employees that goes in direct contradiction to said organizations moral convictions.  Churches get exemption but what about religious education organizations?  Well, these organizations are making their case against this mandate, and so I ran across this the other day on my Facebook feed:


Statement from Biola University President Barry H. Corey


Biola University is my Alma Mater.  I had an incredible college experience there and I feel like I was uniquely prepared for my adult life and career while I studied at that institution.  I was definitely in the minority when I chose to stand pro-choice during my college days. With regards to their current position however, this pro-choice alumni is in support of their declaration.  I believe we need to fight for a woman’s right to make the final decision on her life, her health, her body.  I also believe that we need to fight for religious freedom and the ability to live out our moral convictions the way we feel called.  I think that requiring an institution to fund an elective procedure that is in opposition with their organizational tenants is a huge overstep of the Federal Government.  

We live in a broken world and my heart cries out for the people who get caught in a situation where the idea of abortion needs to enter in.  Abortion is a complex and dark reality in our world…one that needs compassion and pro activity, not rhetoric and judgement.  Abortion will always be present, whether it is legal or it is not, so there is no way to reduce it to a simplistic issue.  Freedom is also a complex issue, yet it is a reality that is a source of inoculation for the darkness in our world and in our own hearts.  It too will always be present, which gracefully there will never be a way to remove it’s presence in this world.

So in the end, I will celebrate freedom in both situations…even though each situation has a different conclusion to similar issues.  My bottom line is that we stay mindful of our liberty.  Abortion needs to be legal, but we need to find better solutions so that we drastically reduce the need for such trauma.  I have serious doubts that legislation will ever offer us enough to address the underlying dynamics that live just beneath the surface of the theoretical arguments.  If an abortion is decided upon, regardless of the dynamics surrounding such a decision, the government does not have the right to require a company/ institution to pick up the financial responsibility for someone who makes that decision.  The government does however, need to protect the woman’s right to exercise her freedom by keeping the gender field as fair as possible when it comes to reproduction and the ramifications for both men and women.

We must stay alert to the whittling away of our liberties.  I don’t need to morally align with the liberty someone needs to cling to in order to use my voice to fight for their right to retain that freedom.  I feel called to be someone who comes alongside, not someone who hands morality down from on high.  I do not want a country dominated by religious tyranny, nor do I want a country where systematic repression goes unchecked.  Freedom is dependent on how well we balance personal vs. collective liberty.  Even though we live in an age that is losing touch with this reality, it does not erase the truth.  I hope we can all learn a better way to rest in the balance of liberty.  After laboring over this blog entry, it is my goal to explore my posture towards liberty more intimately…that is for sure.