(OR: 7 Must- Haves in a Great Church)




Not what you expected from me, right? But, It’s SHOCK AND AWE time. It’s time for a radical departure from lusty commentary on what bewilders, angers and scares the spit out of me about religion, because there are brilliant and beckoning things about the church I have personally encountered in my flight from the Old Testament, its punishing God, and its churchly reflections.

During my spiritual road trip, I found many formidable beacons of hope. I found many instances of a benevolent God with skin on and institutionalized Grace.

These 7 characteristics make a good checklist, if one is looking for a community of faith.

These traits made my spiritual exile and return all the more worthwhile, because I came back with a list of spiritual personality traits that were the perfect match for me. (Online dating metaphor- more SHOCK AND AWE)

This is written in the first person, because each and every one of these gifts has been such a personal blessing for which I am deeply grateful. This is a heartfelt thank you. You all know who you are.

Does this sound like your church?


1) Thank you for seeing the artist in me, loving her, and pulling her out of the safe and anonymous shadows. I got to see myself through God’s eyes, by seeing myself through yours. You showed me that I could write, speak and sing, and that people would actually listen! You taught me to fight my fear of embarrassment or humiliation and see the other side. You taught me that silent is not necessarily safe.

You set me on my path, planted my feet upon it, and then gave me a loving shove by giving me opportunity and then daring me to take it.

I got to recite my poetry  for first 10s and then thousands to see. I got to recite it to music! I got to be relevant and even hip, for a moment. You told me I wasn’t too old, young, talentless, (fill in the blank here) to publish.


2) Thank you for being a hospital, not a country club. Only broken, hurting, authentic people find it comfortable here. This means that everyone, absolutely every person who would describe themselves as hurt or broken in some way, is included and welcomed warmly, including me. Thank you for sending the perfect people elsewhere. They are so boring.


3) This is personal to my current church: I adore you because you have fought for and maintained a choir. I’m not even in the choir, but I love what this means! It is an acknowledgement that each and every one of us is a Worship Leader, each in our unique way, and the union and blend of these disparate parts is the body of Christ.


4) Thank you to the pastor, his family and the staff for being unapologetically real, broken people. This makes me not just respect you, but love you and I will be even more attentive to the things you say and the lessons you can teach. You are always careful not to say or do inappropriate things, but you are not actively managing your image.


5) Thank you for not being too big to know me or too small to hold me or my ideas and questions. You are family, not a city. Although I do not cut a large leadership swath through the congregation, and the frequency of my church attendance approximates that of solar flares or meteor showers, everyone knows me, including all church staff. Everyone knows I’m out trying to do my thing- no guilt. My emails are answered. I cannot overstate what these small recognitions of my personhood and worthiness have meant to my spiritual healing and development.


secondblogpic6) Thank you for being a sanctuary in the true definition of the word. We are safe to temporarily remove our armor and reveal ourselves here.

We all need to find and cultivate our “people”: those who want and accept the truth from us, no matter what. They do this because they want us to continue to grow and evolve. These people can be anywhere, but a good church should have this general characteristic. Growth is messy and judgment is counterproductive.


7) Thank you for being substance over form. This is what I like about you and what I like about Pope Frank. You encourage a dialogue and an open discussion about what we believe and why we believe it. True Grace over Churchiness.


Images supplied by L E Kinzie. All rights reserved.






Shakespeare 5 REASONS WHY WE CAN’T.

1) There was an article in the New York Times very recently that was actually about the status of poetry in an age of prose. It was basically good news.

But, along with prose, we also live in an age of talking points and fake news, fake investigations, and reality shows that aren’t real. Personal offense and outrage often completely replace reasonable discussion and debate. Poetry is one of the last vestiges of un- sanitized and articulate language.



2) It follows that poetry is the language of the truth- teller. You shall know the truth and it shall set you free, but only if someone tells it. People complain about the ridiculously unintelligible poems that have been foisted upon us as simply too high- brow for mere mortals to understand. Some of them are hilariously indecipherable. But, metaphors are a delivery system for conveying the often brutal and ugly truth. The whole world is mourning Maya Angelou for a greater reason than she wrote pretty poems. She had supremely important things to say and did so perfectly. She made us understand and care.


ranchonedaisy3) Poetry is the language of protest and rebellion. Pick practically any of Bob Dylan’s songs and you will find a blend of protest and prophesy. There are too many to name, but “ Hurricane”, “ Desolation Row”, “ Like a Rolling Stone” and “ The Times They are a Changing”, come to mind. I am not a rabid Dylan fan, but how could “Tangled up in Blue” be anything but pure poetry?

3 (a)

It follows that a song is a poem that happens to rhyme. Lyrics are a delivery system for protest and rebellion that makes them not only palatable but beautiful. I don’t mean to insult all of the Pulitzer Prize winners and poet laureates out there, but some of this brand of poetry is amazingly poignant. There is a song by Lily Allen called “ The Fear” that is so richly and sadly satirical it will leave you breathless, particularly the second verse..


4) There is a language deep in the soul that cannot be conveyed with perfect grammar, sentence structure and sanitized language, and poets are fluent in and understand soul-speak. With the exception of the “Begats”, poetry is also the language of the Bible. Whether one believes in the literal truth of the words contained in its covers or not, the cadence and beauty of them can be inspirational in and of itself. The Psalms, The Song of Solomon and Proverbs are pure poetry. But, so is the rest of it. Isaiah is replete with gorgeous poetry. Case in point:


For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,

but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my

covenant of peace shall not be removed…O afflicted one,

storm- tossed and not comforted, behold, I will…lay your

foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:10)


5) Ever been to a Poetry Slam?

Poets are warriors, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and doing battle to defend them.

They are necessary insurgents, becoming catalysts for reform, change, honesty and transformation.

They are conduits to spiritual healing, growth and transformation, speaking and interpreting soul and spirit- speak. This is the very infrastructure of humanity and progress- not fluff.

We are everywhere; not just on some remote Isle of Tweed and Berets, or hanging out at Starbucks. We might even be your neighbors, you never knowJ

We are society’s detoxifiers, like a great big cleansing and centering breath.









In response to all of the press devoted to the Flight of the Millenials, someone asked,

“ Why doesn’t someone write about the rest of us?”

I thought it was a great idea, because one of the things I discovered in writing my book was there are very few differences between them and us when it comes to shaking up our faith. In fact there is no “us” and “ them.” We start out in different places but end up in the same place, with one key difference, and that makes me sad.

Unlike the Millenials, my generation is used to and for the most part wants to be part of a physical church- It just doesn’t seem that the Church wants us very much. All of the examples below are simply different heads of the same beast. What follows are a few suggestions very lovingly and humbly submitted by one who was formerly a member of this Lost Tribe, in case anyone is interesting in getting us back



1) WE ALREADY BELIEVE. Please stop trying to convert us.

Just as we are overjoyed when a loved one quits smoking, we are overjoyed when a new believer is born- but that isn’t necessarily an invitation to tell us how to live. Maybe it is, but please wait for the invitation.

2) WE ARE FED UP WITH McCHURCH. Hey, it has taken us a lifetime to discover and love who we are as unique creations of a Creator who loves us, not despite those unique qualities, but because of them. We are not going to be put back in the pre- fab box. The non- denominational church movement occurred in our generation because people got fed up with church rules that had nothing to do with spiritual concerns. People who challenged Biblical interpretations previously carved in stone sparked the emergent church phenomenon in our generation. This is who we are. We don’t want our church to look or act like IBM or McDonalds. We want it to be sacred and special.

3) WE ARE MORE THAN MOTHERS AND WIVES, if you will only let us be.

Women seem to have a fundamentally different experience of religion than men and, in a disproportionate number of instances, it is less than pleasant. There is a cultural overlay of discrimination that is often confused with or even intertwined with religion resulting in women experiencing different things. I have literally lost count of the number of women I have talked to while writing or as a result of writing the book, who have overcome sexual bias to arrive at the top of their fields and become leaders in their community only to be invisible in their churches. They are encouraged to serve while their male counterparts are encouraged to lead. The Bible may call to serve, but each according to his gifts. We have the gifts of prophesy, healing, teaching, discipleship and yes, ministry- not just the ability to nurture. Please see us.

4) WE HAVE GIVEN/ VOLUNTEERED TIL IT NOT ONLY HURTS, BUT HAS EITHER BECOME A CODEPENDENT COMPULSION OR A SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL EXHAUSTION. Please do not make us feel like we are not enough for having human limitations that we have learned to respect. We have had to teach ourselves that we are valuable for our compassion, wisdom and experience in and of themselves. We wish you felt the same way.

5) WE KNOW WHO WE ARE. This may seem trite, but it is anything but trivial for so many of us who grew up with the God of the Smite Button and have had to battle with ourselves and our religion to finally be who we really are. We have walked that long, dark night of the soul, when only God answers, and have found that He is enough for us and we are enough for Him. If it’s a choice between Him and you, you know whom we are going to choose.


5(a) PLEASE DON’T TELL US WE ARE BAD CHRISTIANS IF WE ATTEND A CHURCH OTHER THAN YOURS. It abrogates our free will and implies a reciprocal loyalty that is not there. Religious consumerism was born in our generation: it’s a little late to put that genie back in the bottle. We have watched what happened to friends who tried to institute reforms and were broken against rigid church doctrine. So many of us continued to attend churches that hurt us spiritually out of a misguided sense of loyalty, that the discovery of options in this area is very precious and sacred.


An artist is an artist is an artist. It’s how we express our spirituality and hopefully inspire others. Emotionally moving art sneaks up on the soul by going through the heart instead of the mind. Please don’t funnel us into “leadership” and understand that we are already leading in our way.




We have already spent decades on the perfectionism merry go round and have figured out it doesn’t get us into heaven. It just gets us a prescription for Prozac. Please don’t judge our insides by how our outsides may appear. We are sick of trying to be a perfect somebody else. We want to be the real us.




Writing spiritual books and other inspirational material needs a wild and brazen counterbalance to get the spiritual and creative juices flowing. I need to be where things are naked and untamed, so my angels, demons and muse of the day can run free. This is where I do it.

As you can see from the pictures, it is completely untamed, and looking at the trees of every variety run riot, helps generate ideas run riot. I need to be grounded in this place that’s sensual in its abundance and fertility to connect to the sacred. It keeps me in mindfulness, wonder, and gratitude, making me simply an observer asking questions and giving thanks. Yet, this primeval forest is in keeping with my lifestyle and can be accessed any time by walking out my back door.

I don’t know what’s buried under the soil, and I probably don’t want to know, but whatever finds its way there grows. I think that was a horror show of some kind. We have 50 trees of many varieties and counting. There are two Rose of Sharon trees that are blooming now and attract solid black and solid blue butterflies. It’s the land that time forgot without dinosaurs.

People can’t understand why we bought/ remain/ won’t dump/ our falling- down house, built in the 1960s. It looks like the house on the old television series, Green Acres, except for the talking pig. It looks like a flea market that someone moved into. The power went out when we had Christmas dinner at our house, because the oven collapses when two burners and the oven itself are used at the same time.

But, when people see the yard…. they change their tune. This is where I unleash and expose the writing beast.

And then there is the huge metaphor of the two paths encapsulated in my yard, put there by my higher power. There are literally two divergent paths. The one you see, on one side of the yard, and the other going in another direction on the opposite side of the yard. There is no way to avoid pondering life’s deep questions and the spiritual significance of what I am doing at any given time.

IMG_2241I take a big cup of coffee out there in the cool, breezy morning; sit on a cement bench left to me by my great- grandmother, and the words and the Spirit flows. I hear God whispering with the leaves, see him dancing as they sway and,before I know it, I have started to pray in writing- poems, songs, blogs and books. I feel close to God and all his infinite beauty as I hear the wind in the chimes, watch the butterflies flit from tree to tree, and feel oh so blessed and lucky. If only I didn’t have to go back in the house:)

If it’s raining or the mosquitos get as big as cows, or we run into some coral snakes that don’t know they shouldn’t live here, I go to Wahoo’s on South Congress, sit outside, eat fish tacos, people- watch and write. Last time I went, I met a pig in a baby carriage named Huxley, who was eating the remnants of a fish taco, while his owners drank beer. Austin is its own brand of wild.

(book excerpt) One Thing that is Always Sacred


What is it?

Every Thing.

Allow me to explain:

If God made you and I the way we are, with character defects that sometimes cause us to stumble and fall, does he hate those imperfect parts of us?

Does God hate anyone simply because they are imperfect and may do crazy or maybe even ” bad” things? Some are saying yes very loudly.

I say no- emphatically, undeniably, categorically no.


My spiritual growth, healing and maturity flow from my ability to see the context of each individual’s life and how it makes their walk and experience unique and even sacred. Without understanding the “why”, it is impossible to know the heart of a person and see them or God in them.

If God is infinite, then there must be an infinite number of ways to mirror him, and there must be an infinite number ways to find him, follow him and find one’s true path-  all unique, all sacred.

Without the key ingredient of ” why” I can only categorize people in pre- fab boxes, judge them and cast them out…

If God created us to be totally unique… then none of us is ugly, and our behavior can’t be judged as ugly until the full context is revealed

I am not saying there is no evil, there is.

But, if my character defects cause me to humbly hit my knees and ask God for help in overcoming them, are they something to be hated? Does God hate them? How could he? Does God hate people he made for being the way he made them? How could he?

Surely God knows I am going to screw up before I do. It may grieve him to see me stumble, but does he hate me for it? I can’t believe that. Then why should people hate what God does not? Aren’t mistakes and detours essential to spiritual growth?


How can we know or judge where someone is going if we do not care where he or she is coming from?



If wandering in the desert for decades led me to a God beyond my wildest dreams, a new me, and a life replete with miracles, then was that time in the desert, wrong or a mistake? Was it wasted time? Nope. Is it for anyone else to say? Nope. It was Sacred. The pain and fear I felt every day of that lengthy detour, led me face the fraudulent me in the mirror and the fraudulent God I had inherited and fire them both.