could be anything. might be nothing. might make you think. could make you wish I would stop.
breathe people...everything is easier when you breathe!


favor, a christmas story

I sat in bible class this Sunday. Not my first choice. Still, they pay me to be there so there I was.
(I get paid to go to church. Jealous?)
The class was for 4-6 grade. The topic, favor.

She asked them again and again about this word. Favor. Mary found favor. Favor with God.
What does that mean?
They looked at her. She asked again. They looked again.
The other teacher in the room jumped in with a story about how his children found favor with him by doing their chores.
Ah, they begin to catch on. Favor = pleasure. Do the thing and people are pleased with you.
The first teacher summed it up.
"How do you get God to find favor with you? You believe. You obey. You do service to others."
And all the children nodded.
Be right. Do good things. Then God is pleased with you. You get His favor.

I went home and cried.

You know I struggle with this freedom thing. I want it so! I want to give it to others. (sometimes)
I sat in this class and let these teachers use their freedom to teach these young hearts that God has requirements for His gifts.
I ache.
This kind of talk is the reason I do not have my children in church. I do not want them raised in this place where sweet teachers lovingly teach them the exact wrong things about God.
I wanted to raise my hand.
I wanted to ask the question,
       "is this how it worked with the prodigal son?"
I wanted to tell the children,
       "this is not true. You have found favor with God. He is pleased with you. And you don't have to do anything...not one earn it."

I didn't say anything.
There is a time and place to call the truth to light. This was not the time, nor the place.
I just watched those God fearing teachers teach what they knew.
Fear God. Earn His pleasure. Be Good. Work hard. Get rewarded.

It is hard on my heart to go to work in a place that continually sucks the light from my soul.
That is so harsh.
I want you to know that this place is filled to the brim with really sweet people. I work with the children and they are delightful. Mostly I do not face problems with my beliefs clashing with the church boundaries. When you teach babies you get to say "God Loves You" all day long and nobody complains. There are no qualifications for  this statement. It just is.
I can get behind it fully.

Sadly, babies grow up. They become big kids who need to fear for their salvation. They need to be taught how to be and do all the things. All the things.
I get it.
There is a responsibility to train them up in the way they should go.

Every time I punch in I face the moral dilemma that I am quite potentially living a lie. For money.
If I told the truth about how I feel... about my journey out of church and it's teachings...
well, I think they would very lovingly agree that I need to find work elsewhere.
They didn't ask.
They said, "do you love Jesus? are you saved?"
I said yes and they said, "you're hired".
Not very responsible of them.
Just because someone passes a background check does not mean they are qualified, or even desirable to be teaching your children.
I have been left to run un-checked through the confines of the church walls whispering freedom to every little ear that listens.

That amuses me greatly. I don't feel a giant calling in this. It is simply the place where I find peace in the midst of this weird moral storm.
I'm a freedom ninja. <snort>.

I do not believe that Mary found favor because she was so good. I think she found favor because God gave it to her.
"Here Mary, I got some favor for ya."
The angel just told her what already was.
I don't believe she "earned" it. I also don't believe God regretted the gift giving when she doubted her worth (or His sanity) a million times.
I don't even think He considered backsies when she got in her secret place and told Him it wasn't worth it.

Later on in this story is a very important detail that we must not forget.
A sky full of singing angels were commissioned to tell us something.
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests."

God is saying,
       (in his best stage whisper with the heavenly host shouting do-wahs in the backgound)
       "pssstttt...hey, I got some favor for ya."

You have found favor with God. 
He gives it freely.
He would like for you to know it.

Merry Christmas.


believe...this is not a christmas story

I do not understand what happened to the formatting on this post. Just go with it, ok?
I was asked recently to come clean about what I believe. I think I have done that here quite a few times but I am always ok to talk some more.

If you are interested, please follow along.

Let's get to the basics of what I believe. Digging deep here.
I believe in pro-choice.I believe that unwanted babies are better off dead than alive. I mean...heaven. Isn't that better than a life where you were not wanted from moment one. (this is much too big of a discussion to talk right now about God's plan and adoption and not seeing the end of things and all that...its always too big. always. I am choosing one small small piece. )
I believe that killing babies is wrong but I also firmly believe that the only way to affect change is to help desperate women understand the Love of God in a way no christian voice (to my knowledge) has ever attempted. I believe that the voice of love would step forward and embrace a woman on her way to a clinic. I believe that love would hold her hand and soothe her brow and help her through in any way that ministered to her heart and mind in that horrific moment. Then i believe that love would walk through grief with her. Never condemning. Only loving. Of course this love would change her mind if it were possible...but it would accept that it was not necessarily possible to stop it. then Love would treat that soul like one would treat one's own child...with compassion and love and restoration. I am pro-choice with the understanding that love outside the bounds of "right and wrong" might just work miracles.

I believe...that the Bible THE BIBLE is a beautiful book. I believe that it is valuable for teaching and for learning. Mostly learning. I believe it is for listening and for looking. I believe it is for understanding and for revelation. Not revelation of the violent end but rather revelation of the beautiful beginning. I believe the bible was given to us so that we can know our history. Our genealogy. Our journey. I believe that it was intended for our good and for our growth.
I no longer believe that it is the "inerrant WORD of God". That, would be Jesus as far as I understand things.
I no longer believe that we are to "stand alone on the word of God". To me, those words symbolize an existence that is built upon exclusivity. I do not believe Jesus taught that. The Jesus that I know (from scripture actually) was all about welcome. He was all about taking the words and works of law and making purity accessible. The Jesus that I know spoke to people. He knew them from the inside. He listened to their weakness and He offered freedom to them. I used to believe that His responses were filled with patronizing compassion. That He listened long enough to get in his velvet rebuke. "Go and sin no more" meant "yes, you did bad. and you won't do that anymore will you? good girl. now run along properly chastened."

I hear a different voice now. the Jesus that I have come to know and love says "go and sin no more" and He holds my hand while He says it. He feels my heart. My hurt. My confusion. And He does not rebuke me. He understands. He sees my brokenness. He knows those places that even I do not understand where the decisions I make today seem thrust upon me by past choices i no longer even remember. He holds me close as He listens and as He loves. And when the righteous ones come and condemn my Jesus for His compassion He explains to them about judgement. He cautions them and He redirects their "holy concerns" as he watches me waltz away in my new found freedom.
I wish we had more records of the beauty of our Jesus. He moves me with His beauty. His words and actions cross the bounds of time. I am learning to recognize the places were I was trained to fear Him. My heart breaks regularly when I see a new place that I so misunderstood as I read the words before.
I read the other collections of scripture and I wonder at the words of the followers of God. So many emotions. Such raw heart bleeding. Anger and frustration and hope and compassion flow freely as these disciples wrote down their inspirations. I believe that the Spirit of God, dwelling in these beautiful humans, was responsible for inspiring every word of scripture. But I believe that the inspiration was breathed with the same breath that inspires a beautiful sunset. I can describe that sunset with all my best words and never impart to you the exact moment that the sun dropped behind those clouds and made my heart sing. I can only tell you that it inspired me. And you must then take that inspiration and let it effect you as it will. And for every reader there will be a different interpretation of the same inspiration. that is the way it works.
That is what I believe.
When I eat scripture I almost always find it to be something new. Something I never saw before. Something I never felt before. And it fills me. It makes me feel large and small at the same time. It is all about me and nothing about me.
It turns me to my Papa to ask why and why and why again. I no longer see the words of Paul as whip and chair but as lyric and passion meant to stir my heart for the why. I do not believe that Paul had the answers. Only questions. I do think he had guidance...but I believe it stops there.

All this is no where near where I was raised. I believe that God is really comfortable with that.
I believe that church is beautiful. If you can handle it.
I believe that community is valuable and such a sweet gift from Papa God to my heart.
I also believe that a room full of ignorance perpetuated by purity is a sure place to find constriction not freedom.
I believe freedom is costly and frightening. I believe that freedom flies in the face of church because it is the opposite of conformity. Community as we know it craves conformity or it becomes chaos. Church in chaos is sure suburb to the very gates of hell. Just ask any christian official.
We talk about freedom but when it comes to distributing it we get selfish. I believe this. I live this. I want all the freedom. And I want you to be quiet while I enjoy it.
I don't want you to take any of my freedom and do dumb stuff. If you do ( and I am sure you will) you will surely ruin it for all of us. I believe that christians generally operate as if freedom is something to be handled carefully as if it will break...or will break us. We act as if we can't be trusted with freedom. We want it. But we don't. Rules are much easier to understand. Even if they pinch. You can gripe really accurately about rules. How do you gripe about freedom? It's just too
So we need to have freedom defined. None of this...or that...and certainly not thaaaat....because that will lead to something really bad and then...well...see, you can't handle the freedom so just follow these instructions and we will all feel better. k?
I believe freedom is what Jesus promises. And I believe that the whole of christendom is really uncomfortable with the thought.

I believe that divorce sucks. I believe that when someone biblically famous said "God hates divorce" he was right on.
I have walked through divorce many times with family and friends and I can see that there is no good way to get through it.
And I believe it is absolutely necessary in too many situations to list here.
I believe christians have been duped into miserable married lives under the auspices of honor and covenant.
Sometimes you just need to go. And I believe God hates it. Not hates you. Hates it. And all that it does to your heart and the hearts of those that feel the pain with you. But I also believe that God hates the pain some marriages cause. I am no expert on any of this. I am just saying I believe "God hates divorce" is just as simple as the three words. God. Hates. Divorce.
And so does everyone else on the planet. Its not rocket science. And it is certainly not a place to hang our purity hat.

I believe, with all my heart, that what I know amounts to a whole lot of nothing in the grand scheme of things. I am not saying that I know nothing. I am saying that I believe that it doesn't amount to much really. There is not self depreciation at play here. Just "I don't know". Furthermore...I am finding that "I don't care". I don't have to know. I don't get to know. It doesn't matter really.
It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I know if you are right or wrong? Don't I need discernment? Don't I need to judge something?

My answer...nope. Doesn't matter.
I believe that love is the answer. I believe that Love covers the I don't know. Because Love does know. And He has got it covered. Operating in love is not a new concept. Love covers a multitude of sins. These are old words and much maligned.
But they are true words. Scary words. Words that smack of freedom. Words that take judgement and discernment and give them a coloring book and ask them be quiet so the grown-ups can talk.
Love covers. And I don't have to know why. Or how. But when I do love...when I find it, live it, be makes all the other things not really matter.
Either you understand that, or you don't.
Pursue love. Be amazed at what changes.

One final thing that niggles my brain.
Hell. Do I believe in it?
Again...I don't know.
Again...I don't care.
I also don't care what it going to happen at the rapture or the second coming or eternity or judgement or any of any of that.
I know Jesus. I know He loves me. I know He guides me every day. I know He loves you and the child molester that never gets caught...the same as me. That is a LOT. I know that He has a plan for all of us. I believe Him to be inclusionary to the breaking point. To the maddeningly stupid point. People are gonna get in that I believe have no business getting in. I said it. I believe it. He knows this about me.
And He is still going to let them in. Prepare a super comfy spot for them. Love them. They are not gonna know what hit em.
And that....might well be hell for some folks.

I love you so much for reading this. I believe a lot of things that I never dared to believe in my past. I know without a doubt that some things I wrote here now will surely embarrass both me and my children sometime in the future. Forgive my stupidity and arrogance when called for.
Marvel at my wisdom. But only if you give me a parade too.
I don't know. I don't care.
If this means I am sitting on the fence then this fence keeps moving and bucking and I, well...
I'm riding bareback.