Archive for January, 2009

Oh you know the title made you look! The truth is we need to do more talking about our sexuality. My husband and I got in a discussion while watching one of my favorite journalists, Anderson replay tapes from Larry King’s interview with the former pastor, Ted Haggard. We debated what we heard Ted’s understanding to be of his own sexuality, his relationships that have gone public, and how his church responded to the crisis. 

It’s just proof once again that we, as church leaders and members of the faith community should promote healthy conversations about sexuality. In my experience, it’s either secrecy (shhh, don’t say that word in church) or condemnation (if you don’t love the same way we all love, then you are a sinner) rhetoric.  I think there can be another way. And, I think it’s a conversation that people want to have because they are curious, have questions, and for some people of faith, really have a desire to understand someone else’s point of view. 

But, it’s true. This subject stirs up conversation. Remember the comments following my post for Barack Obama? I’ve been following this blog by Anne & May for a couple of months now and they’ve had an interesting discussion following a comment made by a reader concerning Rick Warren and his presence at the Inauguration. The comments have led to a cordial discussion of folks sharing beliefs, asking questions, and well, being able to remain neutral on cyberspace. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have this conversation in person?

I hope that as more churches and clergy enter into dialogue about our own sexuality and spirituality, that seminaries will realize the need for education and training in this area, too. The Religious Institute for Sexual Morality, Justice, & Healing teamed up with Union Theological Seminary and conducted a survey of seminaries. You can find their report on the Institute’s website here

Any resources that you are aware of for churches and clergy who want to have a healthy conversation about sexuality? What has been your experience in starting conversations in your own faith communities? For those of you who have been to seminary, what was your experience and learning about these conversations? 

** After reading this aloud to my husband (because he *loves* when I give a shout out to him), he questioned if I might be jeopardizing my future in the church by posting something so radical? My answer… nope. I am trusting that God is working on the right congregation at the same time God is working on me. We’ll be ready for each other when the time comes 😉 and I will be so ready for that time to come!


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Self Care?

We often learn the hard way about the need to take care of ourselves. My mother used to always get on to me for staying so busy as a teenager and college student (well, she still does today too). I’ve always had a hard time relaxing and enjoying some of the simple moments in life. It’s not a surprise to me that the title of this post is something I’ve always had a hard time practicing. 

Self care seemed to be the buzz word around my seminary. 

One of the lessons that I learned serving as part of the pastoral staff at a church is that if you don’t practice self-care, you will have nothing to offer those that you work with. Who wants a run-down, passion-less minister who has no joy? Well, there are probably too many of them out there to count and I don’t want to be included in the club. That’s not who God created me to be.
So often I learned the hard way, going and going until literally, my body said “STOP” and revolted on me by getting sick. I have found there’s also a fine line it seems. I’ve known folks who use the “practice of self-care” as an excuse for laziness and I’m just not a proponent of that.

This morning, I’m practicing better self-care as I am staying home from the community worship gathering known as church. I am practicing my own personal worship of God in my home. I am reading and recording lessons that I need for today and the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong… church is one of my favorite places to be. Check out my “I love Sundays” posting. It’s true. And there will be a part of me that misses it today. However, for me, after being required to work on Sundays when my body was telling me otherwise, it’s a gift to be able to practice self-care. For my friends who are still in the church, I hope that you’ll find another day of the week for your Sabbath. I wasn’t very good at this lesson while working in the church but it is necessary. Schedule it. Tell friends to keep you accountable. Just do it.

** Looking for something to read? I just ordered The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living excerpts from Father Thomas Keating. My prayer partner and I are going to start reflecting on it too. I’ll let you know how I like it… What are you reading from these days?

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Memory is an amazing gift, isn’t it? We take it for granted until someone we know struggles with the ability to remember every day kind of stuff. It’s like my Aunt Tommy, who because of a series of mini-strokes, will not remember the day she spent hours teaching me to crochet. She remembers how to crochet every day, still recognizes me, but won’t remember the time we spent laughing together while I was receiving a lesson. I hope I never forget. 

There are other moments in life that I hope I’ll remember forever.
I remember my first kiss (you know, the real one and not the one that your mom takes a picture of when you were 5).
I remember my first school dance and my friend Cory sang a country western song (who knew he could sing?).
I remember my the first time I cried over a boy (who will remain nameless).
I remember having some of the best girl friends ever… like Jennifer, Melanie, Kim, Corrie, Jackie (who needed those stinky boys anyway?).
I remember the pride of my first real job (AEO!).
I remember high school graduation and being surrounded by wonderful friends.
I remember what it was like to love someone with all your heart and to have that love shattered into what felt like one million little pieces (this was the for real kind!).
I remember my first trip overseas and how I knew I’d always go back (it was to Jordan for those of you who were wondering).
I remember sitting in my “Jesus and the Gospels” class on September 11th, 2001 as we heard news that the first plane had hit the WTC.  
I remember graduating from seminary and celebrating with friends who will be friends for life.
I remember the first cup of coffee my husband (then a guy I had just met) fixed me. It was the best cup of coffee in the world.
I remember his beautiful proposal and the promise to accompany me wherever this journey took us.

I will remember sitting in the Auditorium of the VA Hospital when our 44th President was introduced and the entire room full of health care providers, social workers, chaplains, veterans erupted in applause. I will remember hearing the words to his speech as I drove from the hospital to the veteran’s shelter. I will remember crowding around my co-worker’s vehicle in the parking lot to hear the benediction. I will remember. 

Where were you? What will you remember about this important day?

As long as our minds allow for the great gift of memory, let us etch this day in our minds forever. And as we move forward from this day, let us do so with prayer followed by action. Let us not just be dreamers but let us be about making the hope for a better tomorrow a reality!

These are the days… I’ll remember. Happy Inauguration Day!

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Here’s to a wonderful birthday week! Now that the holidays and our birthdays are over, it’s time to get down to business. I’ve decided to train and run for another half marathon. I’m lacing up the running shoes (missing my old running partner, Britt) and I’m serious about this. April 19th is the date and it’s the Santa Cruz Half Marathon. I thought the beach would be another great motivating factor to run this race. So, cheer me on! Here’s to a great 30th year!

Here’s a recap of the day: I started off by writing my morning pages and drinking a cup of coffee out of my favorite mug, given to me by Eric years ago. img_02891


img_0298      I got beautiful flowers from Barry and my friend, Emily. Here’s a sample: img_0296




That night, Barry and I went to a restaurant that is my new favorite. 
It was delicious!! A lovely meal with my wonderful husband was a great way to end the night.


The party continued on Friday night as we gathered with some friends and hung out. I share a birthday with a new friend and Barry’s colleague, so we partied together. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera! No pictures… Jen came and spent the night with us on Friday night. It was a great treat since we hardly get to see her but live so close. We woke up on Saturday morning and decided it was time to find the Northern California Chick-fil-a. img_0301Cheers to being 30, flirty, and thriving! 


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My community…

One of the places I find community as a minister is the through the organization Baptist Women in Ministry. For the past three years, I have had the privilege of serving on the leadership team of this organization with really wonderful women. It’s an honor to dream and create opportunities for connection between men and women who feel called to ministry. 

I was asked to write the introduction for a new series that the leadership team members will be writing for the Baptist Studies Bulletin. Being a graduate of Mercer University, I’m extremely proud of the Center for Baptist Studies Program located on campus. The bulletin is a monthly guide of writings written by different professionals in their field. You can read the intro article and more about the January Baptist Studies bulletin here: 


Enjoy! Happy Friday… 


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I love Sunday mornings!

It’s a beautiful morning out here in California. I’ve been up for a while reading, reflecting and go over my sermon for this morning. I’m preaching again at New Community of Faith in San Jose.

I love the anticipation of gathering together with God’s people in worship. One of the students I work with during the week who lives with a mental health diagnosis, talked about his struggle to believe the things he can’t see. Yet, he finds it easier to experience God when other people minister to him, connect with him, etc. He said, “it’s like God with skin on!” For me, worshipping together with a group of folks who are trying ‘to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God’*, is a beautiful gift. The love of the community is my experience of God “with skin on”.

Happy Sunday to You!


* Micah 6:8

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Unexpected Holy Places


Growing up, one of the favorite places in our house was the kitchen. In our kitchen, we had a bar that separated the kitchen from dining room. This meant that my sister and I, or any number of our friends, usually hung out in and around the bar while mom (or dad!) was preparing the meal in the kitchen. Some of our most memorable conversations happened around the preparation before partaking in the communion of food together. 

It was the same thing at both of my grandmother’s homes as well. I sat, watched and sometimes helped prepare the meal for our family. It was during these times of food preparation that I learned to listen, laugh, and ask questions about things that mattered to our family. It was where I learned and formed images of the world around me. The kitchen became a holy place. 

Not much has changed since becoming an adult. In fact, this week, I encountered a woman in the kitchen of one of our long-term stay facilities cooking lunch. She began to talk about her husband’s illness, his reactions to the treatments, and his fears. While cooking garlic over the stove, she wept and talked about her own fears about his illness. I offered compassionate listening and support to this wife unsure of her family’s future. Through her broken English, she thanked me for listening and asked for a hug. I gave her one. 

Who would have thought the kitchen would have been a Holy place? It is often the places I least expect where God meets me and some unexpected ministry takes place. What about for you? Where are your unexpected Holy places?


My kitchen in Atlanta where a lot of unexpected Holy conversations happened too.

My kitchen in Atlanta where a lot of unexpected Holy conversations happened too.

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