I spent the better part of Easter Weekend digging in the dirt with my kids. It was glorious! We made the spring pilgrimage to Home Depot and Lowes and bought a cart full of vibrant blooms. One child graduated college in December, and the other is a sophomore in nursing school, so it had probably been a decade since we enjoyed this family pastime. Long enough for the soil to go completely fallow, for all of our ” curb appeal” shrubs and potted plants to have gone to the Great Nursery In the Sky. We had all been so busy with our lives; we didn’t notice how dead things were. So we raked, hoed, dug and brought in healthy soil. It came back to us, as if no time had passed. We were really working our bodies hard— quite joyfully we discovered, together. It was, in its way, a very holy celebration. We were ridding ourselves of all remnants of winter, and death, and planting the seeds of spring and summer. The very act of planting the seeds and blooms was an expression of faith in the future. mountainlaurels


We are all seed planters in some way, aren’t we?

In an interview with Meet The Press, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, “God is The God of Spring, renewal, birth, and growth– not winter and death.” While so much is complicated, that is a theological concept easy for me to focus upon.

So often, we don’t know what our next step should be. There is so much that is difficult, trying and confusing. But, we can help keep it simple.

All we can do is the next task that seems to present itself to our attention, having faith that it is, indeed, where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to be doing.

Dig, plant, water, and grow. It’s your time to bloom! Winter is over!





We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.



What else would I talk about this week, but love? As the quote would indicate, love is a practice, not a gooey feeling. But, what kind of love are we practicing? What is excellence in love?


Love can be a super- power, because it can erase fear, and not much else can.

Love can be freedom, because it can create an expansion in our spirit and open us to a whole new perspective on the world and a host of unexplored possibilities.

Love and intelligence combined can result in wisdom.

But love without detachment, can be quicksand for the giver and the recipient. Love that is not detached from judgment is entirely conditional, and can make the giver a puppeteer and the recipient resentful. Love not detached from the fact that we are not anyone’s saviors can ruin our health, take us off of our own path and ultimately take our loved one off of theirs. We can’t save anyone from all pain or consequences, even our children. Any and all efforts to do so only result in the erasure of us.

Love with detachment, gives us the ability to be compassionate and forgive. It allows us to love from the appropriate distance, so we don’t get stepped on for putting ourselves between someone else and their destiny.

Love is an attitude, an intention practiced daily, or even more often, to see others as a gift, a blessing, and a lesson for who they are right now at this instant.



Do Christians Have Free Speech Today?



I like to live life in the cracks, because that’s where the light comes in.

Leonard Cohen.


On this day in 2015, do we have more or less freedom to speak than 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago?  This Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King was a living example of the power of speech, particularly, the power and the right to use speech to protest injustices and inequality.

I can’t help but wonder if there is still freedom of speech when the thing spoken about happens to be religion. Do we still have the right to speak in protest of religious inequality or other practices? With Charlie Hedbo, we saw the dangers of freedom of speech about someone else’s religious beliefs. But, what about Christianity? Right here, today in America, a land that ridicules theocracies, do Christians really have free speech? Are Christians really allowed to speak honestly or even critically about their own religion without losing the moniker of “devout” or “faithful?”

The most common observation my non-Christian friends make about we Christians is that we don’t seem to practice tolerance or grace to each other or even like each other very much. Case in point: the YouTube uproar resulting from a Victoria Osteen sermon. A video clip from a sermon preached by Victoria Osteen seemingly saying, “ come to church for you and your own happiness” was played with a predictably vehement series of responses. She was called a heretic. I’m not surprised that some people vehemently disagreed with her. I even disagreed with some of what she was saying. But, what really caused me concern as a Christian was the vitriolic claims of heresy not because of what she said, but because she was a woman saying it. One YouTube commentator said she was a heretic because the Bible does not allow women to speak with authority over men. So, she was a heretic because she was a woman speaking in a church? 

Another case in point: Rob Bell. The Huffington Post recently ran a great article recounting what happened to him as a result of writing the best-selling book, Love Wins. It recounted how Mr. Bell fell from grace, lost his flock and had to completely re-invent himself after publishing the book. Fellow Christians labeled him a heretic. Heretic? Apparently, Christian commentators did not know what to label him; was he a Christian Universalist or something else? I’m wondering why that is important in a theology that stresses grace?

These two events happened before the cyber- attack pending the release of The Interview, and the subsequent attack on Charlie Hebdo. Where at first, I was concerned, now my blood is running cold.

 ~                                                                   ~

 I have a question or two. Do we find wonder, authenticity, or miracles in rigid dogma? I haven’t. I haven’t found compassion or tolerance resting there either. What about grace, the hallmark of Christianity? Doesn’t grace only occur when we fall short of the absolute rules and someone loves us, anyway? I have been unsuccessfully trying to be as perfect as Jesus all these years, and found these spiritual prizes in the cracks between the dicta, the dogma, the all or nothing commands.

When we decry any work or statement we don’t’ agree with as heresy, aren’t we limiting our own ability to speak out in the future?

Owe no one anything except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Just saying:)






“ I overheard a conversation recently which was life- changing for me.

The man whom I was pretending not to overhear was giving a definition of integrity that I had never heard: it simply means undiminished. This is the first gift I wish for you for Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year: that you go through this season and this life with passion and dignity undiminished. Love undiminished. Faith undiminished. Influence and ability to help others undiminished. Joy and lust for life undiminished. Beauty and purpose undiminished.



I hope you are already audacious enough to realize you are ageless and timeless and to love wildly and unconditionally, especially yourself. I wish you the audacity that provides you the certainty that you were created intentionally for a reason and that your life and your individual experiences will ultimately matter to others, and that makes them not only valuable, but also sacred. May you always have the audacity to question those who judge and question you. May you be audacious enough to ask for answered prayers and even miracles and to expect those answers and miracles to arrive.


The Simplicity necessary to actively look for, perceive and receive those answered prayers and miracles with clear sight. May you never second- guess, analyze, or explain a blessing or miracle away, just because it didn’t arrive in the predicted packaging.


I wish you Freedom to find and lose and find your authentic self yet again within the safety of a group that provides you the sanctuary to do so without the hindrances of:




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May you have happy, joyous and peace-filled holidays and beyond.

God bless us, every one:)


Undamned, My Escape From the Old Testament 




negligee on bedSex and Why?

This is one of those posts that you are afraid to write. I’m afraid of writing it, because I ‘m doing a dangerous thing:asking questions about sex and religion. There is no snark or controversy- courting here.

Sometimes I have answers, but this time I have nothing but questions to which I am sincerely seeking enlightenment. These questions about religion and sex have troubled me for as along as I can remember. There seems to be a disconnect.

Here we go. Ready?


WHY is sex treated as equivalent to spiritual death in so many religious interpretations?

Why is whom you love or when you love seemingly worse than whom you kill, envy, steal from or even destroy with lies and gossip? Why is the simple fact that some love at all a subject of judgment or controversy on a par with high treason?

If having sex in some situations is a sin, why do so many treat it like the absolute worse one, one punishable by death or, at least, leprosy?? Based upon what?

Why is there a hierarchy of sins at all, other than the Ten Commandments?

The Bible tells us to not fear more times than it tells us to not have sex. Isn’t it in fact, fear that leads to all the other sins? Envy, fear of not having enough or as much as the next guy, fear that he will take it away, hatred of those who are different and wars to stop them or protect ourselves from them arise from that fear. Has sex ever started a war?

Why do beautiful, healthy women with God-given sensuality dress like 1950s librarians in church or when they are with religious people? Are they afraid that someone will think that they are having sex or might want to in the future? Didn’t God give them the sensuality, the beauty and the ability to fully experience them both? Who encourages these 1950s librarians to attempt to disguise or outright kill this God- given part of themselves? Why do some Christian women feel and bow to the need to Dowdy Down?

Is it sex that we fear? Should we? It is undoubtedly powerful and sometimes not in a good way, but will attempts to ward it off like wearing garlic around one’s neck to repel a Vampire really work?

This phenomenon has always disturbed and frightened me, as a teenager, as young adult and now, as a woman married with a daughter. I don’t want her to feel like she can’t fully be her beautiful self.


Why do descriptions of the Proverbs woman sound like something I could never reach? Why do I secretly never want to reach that standard? I haven’t threshed much wheat, or sewn my own clothes on a loom lately. I can’t help but notice that she sounds more like a beast of burden than beautiful, healthy vibrant healthy radiant advertisement for a loving creator.  But, maybe it’s just me.


There was a conference I attended some time ago that echoed an author’s message of “Fear the Cage!” Amen. Isn’t the message of hiding or denigrating one’s sexuality in any way just like putting a beautiful songbird in a cage?Love_birds_in_cage


We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty” – Maya Angelou

Image by Ks. mini


If anyone has any answers, I’d love your thoughts.




Tidal_Wave_Thorpe_Park  I have been thinking a lot about the beach. Even though I’ve had so much sun exposure that I will soon be a piece of charcoal, I still adore body-surfing in the surf and sun. The undulating waves instantly pacify my mind and body and bathe me in serenity. It’s a preference, but also a symptom for me.

It means I’m in my religious addiction again. I’m driving myself to earn something I think I need and I’m doing it with such relentlessness, my mind is signaling me it’s time to go to my happy place and press the reset button.

Instead of being a renewable source of serenity, peace, hope, confidence, and the unshakable certainty that you are enough, a religion that is an addiction produces the following:


1)   You feel drained and burned out, emotionally and spiritually.

2)   Submission to the will of God looks exactly like subservience to the wishes of others. You can’t “ let anyone down” without feeling acute disappointment in yourself, intense anxiety or both.

3)   Your shame is triggered by the behavior of other people towards you, not your own actions.

4)   Guilt and shame are indistinguishable.

5)   You forgive everyone but yourself. You can’t forgive yourself for whatever evidence of your imperfections that is present in your life. You treat yourself more harshly than anyone else.

6)   Forgiveness of others means never kicking someone out of your life, even if their presence dissolves your peace, happiness or self- worth. The potential that you may help them negates how they might hurt you.

7)   You fear punishment by your Higher Power and anger from others.

8)    Your own anger is so scary or “ wrong” to you that you are rarely aware of feeling it, even when boundaries are being crushed and it would be completely justified. Instead you often feel disappointment, sadness or fear.

9)   It’s often almost impossible to distinguish selfishness from simple self- care or self- discovery.

10) Faith and Grace may be bedrock principles in your religious practice, but trust in a God who loves you, understands you and is your friend seems as remote as the Hubble Telescope.

We are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to be whole. – Jane Fonda



(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.