Uncluttered, Exposed and Present: Touching the Unknown (a poem)

I carried so much hurt
a world of injury, so much so that
often I couldn’t breathe.
my chest ached of it. I couldn’t
hear the spirit, blowing windy about me.
wouldn’t heal, my open sores were evident to all.
I      had      no      space left inside
for the mystical, Holy
One to speak.

Making space for God sounds so suspect
(as if)
even though,
I was thinking
if God is there, why won’t he just talk
to me?

Then     I    let   go.   I let my fear fly free.
Then the glorious, lavish days
came, spent
days I look forward to sitting, there.  waiting
a while
setting aside the albatross.
Let it go, though
the grip
I had was strong,
and wrong
The scars ran deep
the pain furrowed my brow and at my core
there was only sorrow.
Now, I touch the Unknown
I am uncluttered, exposed
and present,
open for God to speak.

Developing a Habit of Abundance

I am sometimes wrecked by my unbelief.  “Lord I believe.  Help my unbelief.” scripture says Mark 9:24.  I am coming to see.

Must I always put on habits?  It seems that I must choose daily, sometimes moment to moment.  I have to wear my belief like an new sweater or twist the rubber band on my wrist  to remind myself of what I want, what I know, what I need.  I am so full of need, so empty.

Like the havoc of the wind, I am wrecked by my unbelief.  The slang definition of the word wrecked is to be drunk or intoxicated.  I have always gotten high on all the wrong things – shopping, my own panic, books and other “things”, easily addicted even to the lack in my core, in my soul.  I am even hooked on my own sadness. In this I know what I need.  As I come to depend on all these highs that I choose for myself – my inner core isn’t worthy of my own trust.

Have I always been a vessel in ruin?  Shipwrecked.  Does that mean that I cannot be trusted?  That is what some believe and say that 1 Peter 3:7 means : that women cannot trust themselves. That man cannot trust woman who are the weaker vessel. What does that mean?  Others say that “Both Peter and Paul wrote about mutual, reciprocal submission in Christian relationships.”  If I believe I cannot be trusted, I’ll never learn to trust myself.  I’ll never trust anyone.  Can I then learn to trust God?

Growing up in the narcissistic family that I did, it is no wonder I do not trust myself.  Everyone in my family fluttered around one person, my father.  We existed to ensure his happiness and help him succeed at all costs.  The costs were many.  The price was high.   All my life I was told what to do by him.  I learned to always seek my father’s approval.  He was my universe.  What do you become when your “god” is cruel, selfish and destructive?  You cower.  You play the supporting role.  Never learn how to live your own.  Did he really become my god?  I don’t believe that is what he really wanted.  How did it happen?

I’ve been physically “free” of my father for eight years.  I am only learning how to breathe on my own.  Jesus is reshaping my view of the world and myself.  I am starting to see that I may be wrecked, like a ship cast to pieces against the shore and torn to pieces, but I did not create the storm.  And I am slowly being healed by the Jesus who healed, he healed women as much as men.  He empowers me.  He trusts me.  He is teaching me.

I have been fighting him, Jesus, and God, the Father.  As I fight, I am wounded like Jacob who wrestled with God and I am afraid.

I am afraid of my life.  I have been fighting and demanding.

I read and wonder if it is true:

“The Lord has to break us down at the strongest place of ourselves before he can have his own way of blessing with us. “ (James H. McConkey, Life Talks)

As I have healed, I have slowly demanded a purpose for myself, a big dream, a significant place to contribute, and God has been quiet.  At least it seems to be so.

“This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the one whom he has sent. ”  That means cling to Jesus, trust Jesus, rely on Jesus, and have faith in Jesus.

“God created the world out of nothing.  As long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.” [Martin Luther]


I cannot lose this ever present need and instead of making me feel strong, it shames me.  I feel my lack of belief, my frequent anger and pain, absence of joy or gratitude; I feel powerfully this emaciated, hollow life.  Is this what I am known for?  I pray not.  I pray that I can surrender, even now.  Even today give up every part of me, the resilient and the faint fragments , to him.

I tell myself I do not fear my own flaws.  But I fear that it will be used against me to prove that women are weak.   I fear my own power too.

Jesus says, “Lay it all down.”   Let it all go again.  As I am developing the habit of abundance, I doubt that have never responded like Mary did.  “Let this happen,” she said, when told that she would mother the king of kings (Luke 1:38)

Whatever it is, “this life” for I do not know what it is yet.  For I cannot even imagine.   I am learning to respond.

Let this happen.


P.S. I am inspired by reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts.

{I Know What “ezer” Means — Further thoughts on being a Woman in the Church}

Sometimes people listen to me.  And I think,
I have a responsibility to talk about what it is like to be a woman in the Church.

Sometimes people listen,

so hear me,

this is what I don’t understand

Why are women still oppressed?

And why do (some) men not understand?
Why do (some) men treat women the way they do?

It’s not like I want to live my life angry.
It’s not like I want to live my life on the defensive.
It’s not like I want to be oppressed.

(Some) men will always question

the word “oppressed.”
They will ask: How are you exploited? How are you possibly offended

when you can be our helper?

Here’s my problem.  I know what ezer means.

Jesus was a liberator.
Women traveled with him,
supported his ministry,
anointed him for burial,
stayed with him at the crucifixion, and
saw his resurrection because they were waiting, believing.

Jesus loved women and wasn’t afraid of us.
He healed us.
He talked to us.
He listened to us.
In the early Church women were teachers, donors, apostles, ministers, laborers.

Why is the Church today so unlike what I think Jesus meant it to be?
I read the Bible and I see
Jesus gave women freedom.  Why do (some) men read it
and see separation? Partitions.
Why do (some) men only see all of our differences?
I am simply a person in love with Jesus.

I look at the Church today—so many men reading and teaching theBible from a masculine perspective. 
I see the Church today, its teachers and preachers—its magazines—its writers—its leaders —its conference speakers.
Man oh man, it is so full of men.
It is so full of entrenched hierarchy and deep biases
that the Church perhaps thinks is subtle, if they even think about it at all. 

But I see and hear the lack—of a Female Voice.
And even when She speaks, is she heard?

He said:
“There is no longer male or female.”
And I say, except— in the Church.
Sometimes people listen.
Are you listening?

P.S. Donald Miller: Women are so much more than simple sexual beings waiting for you to write our story. And you may have erased the “Love Story for Girls” but women have longer memories. You should take more care with your words.

One Perspective. 

Gender is Everything

My curiosity peaked, I read a blog post titled: Fatherhood, Faith and Gender Stereotypes.  As often is the case when you talk about gender, the comments went off topic a bit.

What I wrote:

I believe as a female and a feminist, I am not served by God being perceived as (solely) male, but that doesn’t invalidate the role of Father God or human fathers.  I need God to be beyond gender which is why it is so unfortunate that he is male in scripture.  Jesus was male and there’s nothing we can do about it.

One person in particular didn’t like my statement Jesus was male and there is nothing we can do about it.  He was surprised that being male or female could be a bad thing saying, “Without touching issues of headship or roles or responsibility and so on, is gender that much of an issue?”

I was startled by the thought that some people don’t think about how gender affects everything!

How can one live in the current set of realities in and outside the Church and not think about gender and how it might impact one’s relationship with God, with other believers and with the Church?

Perhaps I have been steeped for too long in the belief that gender is everything.

My daughter certainly accuses me of it, often calling me paranoid about women in the church.

But she needs to know that gender is everything when it is your gender that keeps you from being able to do things, to express things, to know things, and carry out certain roles, especially in the Church.  Gender is everything when your perception of love, and mercy, and justice, and your perception of God is colored by him being a Father.  Gender is everything when your human father was an angry, oft times cruel person, who crushed your spirit and controlled your life to the point that you, the YOU that is unique and created in God’s image, died. [At least I thought for a very long time that I had died.  I felt dead.]  Yes, for me gender is everything as I learn to love, or at least like being female in the Church.  And as I learn not to hate a male image of God.

Slowly my perceptions of God have changed as I listened to different voices than the ones I grew up with.  As I hear in the voices of many women (and sometimes in men) the tenderness and gentle grace of Jesus Christ, who is the son of God.  This is not anything like what I have known from my earthly father.

Yes, I bring my experiences to any discussion of God.

On one level it is simple. My perception of God is not enhanced or even helped by God being male. Although I know from scripture that God is not female and I am not trying to make scripture say anything that it doesn’t say I wish God was something “other” than male.

I want to know more fully a God who is not male or female, but greater than anything I might perceive or have experienced here on earth. 

I think that our perceptions of male and female are tarnished by the fall; really everything post-Genesis 1 and 2.  Our conceptualization is broken and damaged (at least in my experience) and so thinking of God as male is (almost) hurtful to me.

A child must know that she is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like her.” (Emphasis and gender change mine)

We are each miracles.  Beautiful individuals who have been given each a mind and heart that is different from the next person.  May we each grow up knowing this!

I would love to hear suggestions of further reading and study on the trinity.  In particular, God the “Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” to figure out what was intended by those names.

The bottom line is that with the fall, with oppression, with the mistreatment of women and girls throughout the ages, there is no easy way to redeem the word Father. At least that is true for me.


Can I get a Witness?

I must confess.  I am not a witness. 

I have never understood those people who speak frankly and unreservedly about their relationship with God.  In fact, the only person I have ever met who did that with complete integrity was a friend I made in the last ten years.  She speaks out of her love for Jesus, with a passion and a need, a pure desire that makes me hungry for the same.  Whenever I am in her presence I want to know this Jesus she speaks about, know him more and more.

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘…eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God…’ (John 17)  

When I was a child I recall often being afraid that someone might ask me what I believe

I had not put it all together yet.  As a teen, I recollect, on more than one occasion lying in bed late at night after a youth event at church, rehearsing what I would say about my faith if I was ever asked.  I whispered the words out loud, under the covers, uncomfortable with the sound of my voice.  An extreme introvert, I was overly burdened with ideas and thoughts that I was afraid to express.  They remained jumbled up in my head.  And there, under the covers I became sweaty and slightly breathless, as I whispered my thoughts–my imaginings.  There was nothing that I could say with certainty. It was the beginning of conviction. 

In my twenties, I found that if you keep your mouth shut no one would know what you thought.  Genius, huh?

A quiet person is not going to be the one thought to be a fool.  And I am not a fool.

I rarely said what I thought.  I still had little idea what I believed.  I was going along.  It was in college that I discovered a passion for the words in the Bible.  In a rare moment of clarity and conviction–and vulnerability–I blurted out to my professor that I’d like to study the Bible!  I wanted to learn the original languages, so that I could read (for myself) the true meaning of these texts.  I finally knew what I wanted to do.  I had an intensity for it, which up until that time I hadn’t found for anything in college, or in life. I knew that what I wanted to do was to study the languages of the Bible.

My male professor, with a cruelty I now recognize said, “What would you do with it?”

What would I, as a woman, do with a special knowledge of scripture?  Um, right, the implication was clear.  Nothing.

I had no understanding of the possibilities.  I didn’t believe that I was capable of pushing back.  I didn’t know that I was allowed to disagree with him, because no-one had ever given me the example growing up in a conservative Christian sub-culture.  Women were taught it was good, even Godly, to submit. I did not know that I might have something unique to say.  So I stayed quiet. And for the next two decades more or less, I continued on that path, mute.

I was already tragically insecure.  Melancholy and hopelessness were things that I wrestled with and over time I came to believe that I had nothing to say.  Though I was good at thinking and writing, I got the message from my professor, and my parents, my youth pastor and others, that as a woman I had no message.  That is what I thought.  That is in the end what happened—that professor spoke a negative prophesy for my life.

I didn’t find my voice again until my forties. And coincidently, parallel to that, I began to discover my own belief.  Don’t they run hand in hand?  Parallel growth that only comes out of gaining personal power.  By beginning to believe in myself and knowing that I am, now, a person with something to say. I still love the word of God, the Bible, as much as I did when I first discovered it.  I want to lose myself in the real meaning of the original texts.  I want that for myself. I quickly become frustrated by others telling me what it means, mainly men making judgment calls about what the Bible says, and wanting me to take their word for it.  I cannot accept it.

I study, but I lack discipline.  I think, and then I doubt myself, my audacity, to think I might find some truth there that other scholars have not. And yet, the spark that was ignited many years ago still burns.  The legacy of that question rings as loudly after two decades as it did that day in college.

What would you do with it?

I will leave a different legacy for my daughter.  That is why, much to her embarrassment at times, I constantly point out to her the places in the Church and in our church where women still do not have a voice.  Where women are not able to be totally free in their passions, talents and callings.

I have told her what is possible!  That is it okay to push back.  That she is allowed to disagree–with me, with her Father, with her Youth Pastor, even her Pastor.

The evangelical Church is still sending women the message, submit. Wait.  In time, things will change. 

The Spirit will witness to the unconditional love of God that became available to us through Jesus. — Henri Nouwen


I highly recommend this article titled Women in Ministry: Between the Pulpit and the Kitchen from the Center for Women of Faith in Culture.