A THOUGHT FOR THE ONE LEFT REELING BY A TOXIC GOSPEL

are you ready for the sheer honesty that’s about to hit you right now?

most things religious are a hard pill for me to swallow these days.

when you’ve had the name of Jesus twisted to promote an abusive, toxic theology of shame & manipulation, a pure spiritual experience with Jesus is damn near impossible to come by. and a GOOD, KIND, COMPASSIONATE God seems like a long shot to reconcile with the angry, volatile, shunning one that’s been fed to you.

although it’s felt like it during the most anguished of moments, I know I’m not alone. I’m not alone in the crowd of thousands of exvangelicals or dechurched people, reeling from the pain inflicted on them, and I’m not alone in the select accounts I can still read with comfort in scripture.

I love the stories in the Bible where broken-up & cast-out people are anxiously, desperately, helplessly searching for Jesus.

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I like when the woman who had been turned away by every doctor & shunned by every friend finds actual, physical & emotional healing with just a brush against his clothes.

I like when Jesus protectively stands in the way of power-hungry religious leaders, when they drag a half-naked woman in front of a crowd of self-righteous men and are basically drooling to throw stones at her until she dies… and then through love, He builds her back up and empowers her so she can go live clean and free.

I like when He honors a woman who has been learning at His feet as a student, and says she chose the better thing, when she is chastised by her frustrated, jealous sister for stepping out of her gender’s expected role.

I like when later on, Jesus then defends the honor and wisdom of a woman who is worshiping him with expensive perfume and the intimacy of her own tears.

in those stories, the people always had to wade through a toxic crowd of Pharisees & the religious elite before they found Jesus.

He wasn’t with them.

they were simply obscuring the view.

perhaps you need to keep going, keep wading through the messy parade of rehearsed hypocrisy, until it no longer hides Jesus from your weeping eyes.

keep pressing on. keep coming closer, closer, closer to the center. the closer you come to Jesus, the more you’ll realize that those Pharisees might be tall and obtrusive, but they hold no claim to the Prince of Peace.

RESCUE. POWER. STRENGTH. // THE TRAGIC, MARVELOUS STORY OF WOMEN

being a woman is a mysterious, beautiful, tragic, marvelous, wild, unique adventure. I love being a woman, and I think it’s a wonderful, incomprehensible gift. but at the same time, the world we live in is not female-friendly.

the world we live in mocks what they consider feminine and celebrates what they call masculine. (of course, everyone seems to have different ideas of what those terms even mean…) the world puts men in the spotlight and women behind the scenes. women are seen as simply bodies with a service-oriented attitude, while men are seen as conquerors and victors, (basically mini gods) deserving of pride and all respect.

in fact, a man (or even woman, it seems…) doing anything “like a girl” is seen as a huge insult. and it is- it’s an insult of the most gross kind to every woman that has ever drawn breath on this planet. it’s an insult because throughout their brutalized, silenced, and struggling history, women are possibly the most resilient, brave, and powerful creatures who exist.

the “role” of women may be vastly different than what you’ve always thought. for me, it goes all the way back to the book of Genesis in scripture. in fact, it goes all the way back to the very creation of woman.


because God forms this beautiful human from a part of Adam, and then God calls her the helper of man. for so many people, the story just stops there. “yeah, woman is helper. okay.” but no.

because there’s a richness and a depth in these verses that’s only revealed when you look a little closer into the actual language in which is was written.

because the word translated “helper” is actually a Hebrew word that has no English equivalent.

because, of course.

of course God is doing something deeper & sweeter & more glorious than simply creating a human assistant. Continue reading “RESCUE. POWER. STRENGTH. // THE TRAGIC, MARVELOUS STORY OF WOMEN”

DEAR CHURCH, YOU’VE GOT IT BACKWARDS

I hear a lot of talk about how we should be anti-culture, how we should be against the world, how our good Christian churches are the small door holding all those depraved sinners back from hell, how we need to listen to all our deeply revered leaders and tell everyone else that even though we love them, we hate everything about them,  how we should be better than all of “them”, whoever the ever-elusive “them” is (usually I gather that it means “the gays” and people who drink and/or cuss and anyone who attends a women’s march).

I also hear a lot about persecution, about how the culture is out to get us because they’re evil and always have been, and how Jesus was persecuted by His culture, so we should expect the same

there’s just one problem with all of this talk about being against “the culture” (which, again, isn’t actually ever defined… it feels like we are usually just supposed to think of the most depraved thing that comes to mind and paint the world with that brush): Jesus did the exact opposite.

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like… the exact. opposite.

yeah, Jesus definitely calls out people on their self-destructive & sinful lifestyles, and he definitely aligned himself closely with other people… it’s just that the church has somehow managed to get the recipients of those two kinds of interactions completely reversed in our thoughts, teachings, and theology.

let’s sort this out very plainly.

people Jesus aligns himself with/spends time getting to know: tax collectors, a demon-possessed woman, a half naked woman dragged by an angry crowd of strange men out of bed from a man who isn’t her husband, a woman divorced multiple times and likely taken advantage of, the politically incorrect, desperate people who didn’t know anything about God, children with never ending questions, radicals, sick people, a woman who reached out because she had nothing left to lose.

people Jesus called out for their damaging & sinful lifestyles: religious elites, prideful people, gossipers, spiritual abusers/manipulators (I believe Jesus used the terms snakes and vipers).

and the problem with the idea of being persecuted by the culture?

Jesus wasn’t.

yup. one more time for the people in the back.

JESUS WASN’T PERSECUTED BY “THE CULTURE”.

now, obviously he was persecuted. I am in no way denying this. I’m pointing out that we have it wrong when we say who it was that persecuted him.

because it was never “the culture”. the people of the world loved Jesus because for them, he was the embodiment of good news in a world that was trying to spiritually enslave, cast out, and marginalize them. Jesus was their hope in a religious establishment that showed them no mercy.

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so who was it who persecuted Jesus?
it was the religious elite.
the ones with all the answers.
the ones with a god complex.
the ones who were privileged and took advantage of it.
the well-respected false teachers.
the ones forcing tithes and offerings.
the ones quick to pick up a stone.
the ones who made alliances with evil political powers.
the ones who shamed & silenced victims.
the ones who had the religious power, endless respect, and who knew the right answer to every theological question that could be thrown at them, but whose religious prestige was threatened when Divine Love, the servant King, the kind God who loved the unloved and celebrated women and elevated the marginalized came into the picture and began turning the tables of their theology into one of love.

those are the ones who persecuted Jesus.

and if we can expect the same persecution Jesus faced, we can expect to face rejection, condescension, and accusations of a “Jezebel spirit” or “heresy” when we act out of love to those who have been trampled, abused, and unwanted.

members of the religious elite have always been jealous for power and married to their self-destructive, unloving theology– this is what drove them to being hungry for the murder of the most loving, most kind man in the history of the world. this is why they killed Jesus.

when unselfish love is met with “but you might accidentally affirm their behavior…”, you have found a persecutor.
when kindness is met with “well the Bible says…”, you have found a persecutor.
when grace is met with “but what about their sin…”, you have found a persecutor.
when good news isn’t good news for every culture, race, age, and sex, you have found a false gospel.

our job has only ever been to bring the good news, and to stop any who might defile the good news in the name of Jesus.

stand firm, you brave and kind women of Jesus.
go out as prophetesses and healers and ezers, the Divine rescuing help of the world.

EMBRACING THE LIFE YOU NEVER WANTED

EMBRACING THE LIFE YOU NEVER WANTED

life has a nasty habit of socking you in the mouth just when you’ve managed to get back up from the last time you fell on your face. or is that just me?

didn’t think so.

oh, sweet souls… life is hard, right? well, today, in the midst of a 30+ minute car ride, during which we had to pull over and pop some pills so I wouldn’t vomit up the small amount of food I’d managed to pack away, I had a revelation.

the past few days, which were supposed to be a vacation, have instead been full of sickness and emergency rooms. for the past three years, it’s felt like crap has rained down on us and broken us every time we thought we would catch our breath. and here’s the first part of my revelation:

you can’t wait for it to stop. you can’t even expect it to stop. 

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because, while it may sound depressing, the truth is that this world is desperately broken. the truth is that this world will take and take and take; it will break you into pieces, and, if you are looking for it, light will shine through those pieces and that light will be relief to your soul.  Continue reading “EMBRACING THE LIFE YOU NEVER WANTED”

THE PERSECUTION COMPLEX

ummmm… are you ready for a serious “ouch factor” right now, babes?

because that’s what I’m dropping today. (sorry not sorry)

as times change and new, unexplored emotional and spiritual territory enters our horizons, I’m seeing a more and more disturbing trend rising up within the walls of the American evangelical church. What is this trend? It’s the outcry of persecution.

now, here’s your disclaimer: this attitude is not in every church, for sure, and persecution is not always, in every situation, a complex. there are exceptions to nearly every rule. but today I’m referring to the rule, not to the exceptions. alright? alright.

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here’s what I see happening…
when the law of the land requires us to serve people we don’t like, or who we disagree with? persecution!
when someone makes a joke at our expense? persecution!
when we see a Babylon Bee article playfully pointing out the inconsistencies within our traditions? persecution!
when Starbucks rolls out Christmas cups with snowflakes? persecution!
when we see two people of the same gender getting married? persecution!
when we are informed that our behaviors towards marginalized groups are offensive, unkind, or harmful? persecution!
when someone tells us they are feeling persecuted by us? persecution! Continue reading “THE PERSECUTION COMPLEX”

HOW TO KNOW YOU’RE GROWING & MATURING

hey babes!

I so love engaging with you here on this format & getting to hear from you all about your beautiful, brutal stories.

today I wanted to chat a bit about growth. maturity. and that ever-elusive feeling of having “arrived” at some mysterious destination.

actually, if I’m honest… I don’t think maturity & growth are destinations at all, but rather a habitual way of life. 

because I don’t think we ever “arrive” this side of the stars, babes. and that doesn’t have to be discouraging. on the contrary, I find it so very reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who hasn’t “arrived” at this mystical land of pristine emotional perfection. (can y’all holla with me?)

but because it’s not a destination, growth requires something of me in my current space. it requires change, and this kind of real and honest growth, this every deliberate step into maturity, requires that change in each and every present moment. 

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I think that a sure sign of maturity & growth is the discomfort of consistently and willingly entering into unknown and tension-filled spaces in ourselves.
Continue reading “HOW TO KNOW YOU’RE GROWING & MATURING”

HOUSE OF MYSTERY

babes!

I’ve got some truth bombs about your true identity to drop today. and I’ll be honest… they’re the truths carrying me through some serious mess & trial right now. because, that’s what truth does. it carries us through the bondage into freedom.

here’s the thing: you are a beautiful home.

you’re a precious, precious thing because of the things you house within your bones. because of the Truth that has made its home in your skin. because of the goodness you’ve been given to bear in the thumping thing behind your ribcage.

see, in the Scripture of 1 Peter, there’s a glorious reality that’s spoken: the truths that live in you, the gospel of grace that was prophesied over you and belongs to you, are the mysteries that angels gaze at in longing.

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how awe-inspiring that YOUR body… yes, this one which you mock and disrespect and struggle endlessly to love… is a carrying case for the weighty power of the Divine.

how humbling that YOU are housing the mysteries of the ages and your forever- ageless soul under the skin and between the bones of you?

how marvelous that each step that you take, wherever you choose to walk becomes holy ground because of the constant, reminding vibrations of the Spirit within you.

you are a house of mystery, my friend, and whatever the battering storms that wreak havoc on the outward structure… the inward spirit, the still small voice, the holy home that you are cannot be touched.

I’m just sitting with this and allowing the truth of this soothing tide to wash over my soul and bathe me in peace.
I need it right now, with all those battering storms waging war on my outward life.
I need it when I find myself drifting aimlessly and wondering where the direction is that I thought I had.
I need it when I forget who I am.

make this your mantra: I am a house of mystery, and the holiest of holy homes.

have you forgotten who you are, sweet soul?
be reminded.
be filled with the Spirit.
be who you already are.

CHILDLIKE FAITH? IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK. REALLY.

BABES.

are you ready to talk about another one of those misused christian-ese phrases? the one I’ve got for you today is one that has blown my mind since I’ve stopped to think about what it actually means, underneath all of the perceived uses and baggage it perhaps carries. and now that I’ve soaked in all the goodness it actually holds, I’m juuuust a little obsessed with it.

sometimes we get it wrong. all of us. the problem comes when we take what we got wrong and use it to teach others. that’s what I believe happened with this really incredible teaching of Jesus.

if you’ve grown up or been around fundamentalist or evangelical circles for much of your life, you’ve probably heard the term “faith like a child” or “childlike faith” tossed around pretty frequently.

here’s where it comes from, in case you weren’t sure:

about that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn [change] and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. so anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. and anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
//matthew 18:1-5//

Jesus is all about living life like. a. child.

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this is often taken and only half of the meaning is used. little once are so full of dependence. they’re so completely in love with their parent, often mimicking every move and following every step.

but here’s the other thing…

if you’ve ever been around a toddler, you’ll know this: they ask all the questions. Continue reading “CHILDLIKE FAITH? IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK. REALLY.”

THIS GLORIOUS HOUSE

hi babes.

it’s been a bit, huh?

lots of processing and healing and (I’ll be real) just plain craziness going down over here. and it’s GOOD. I’ve got some insane stuff that I’m currently working on which will be coming at you next month… and it is honestly just the culmination of some of the biggest dreams & greatest fears of my heart that I didn’t even know I had, y’all. so you’re not gonna want to miss it.

I thought it might be profitable for me to let you into the sweetness that is this journey for me, and to break open some of that breathlessness that has been rebuilding me…

because sometimes I need to be reminded that what comes to me is for me. that what takes part in my deconstruction does, by default, take part in my rebuilding. that all the things that are happening in me now are working to make a greater and more purposeful future that is so worth living.

what about you?

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I love the visualization of being the dwelling place of Grace & Truth.. a house in which the Divine feels at home… a residence for the Spirit of Peace. that is a picture that has always just spoken to me really deeply. and what’s lovely is that in the book of Haggai I get this whole new insight into what that could mean, into what it must mean, as I read about the people of God rebuilding the temple.

“the future glory of this house will be greater than the past glory… and in this place I will give you peace…” Haggai 2:9

Continue reading “THIS GLORIOUS HOUSE”

FOR THE BRUISED & BUSTED UP

hey there family.

how’s your heart doing? how does life feel against your skin? how’s the weight on your shoulders?

heavy?

yeah… me, too.

because I’ve been struggling real fierce with the weight lately. with the heaviness of all that the world is. all that the Way is. all the healing and woundedness in the world.

I’ve been taking more pauses for deep breaths meant to cleanse and pause and bring shalom into my heart. more because there’s more to breathe against. more to fear. more wounds to bind up.

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the world is heavy, and the weight is fearsome, and the depth of the rawness of our humanity is leagues and leagues more so than the ocean. and we must find a way to breathe through it, to surrender to the healing, even as the arrows pierce our hearts.

and all the bitter hypocrisy, all the callous & graceless acts of others, all the hard work for more disappointment, all the exhaustion and survival, all the confusion and frustration of WHY IS THIS THE WAY IT IS… sometimes it just leaves me bruised & busted up in my soul. Continue reading “FOR THE BRUISED & BUSTED UP”