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For the last ten years my heart has been wrestling and processing through the strong sense that both Church and what it means to be in community were changing. The journey has, at times, been desperately lonely, but it has also been filled with beautiful conversations and experiences with people like you. The invitation before us is to begin to see again as we join God's work in making all things new.

THIS IS MY STORY →

    PSALM 4

    It takes all my courage to call out to you God so I’m wondering if you will answer me. How many times can you make a way for me before you tire? My endless requests for hope seem not to phase you. You take delight in renewing me when I am hopeless.

    You have set me apart and yet I feel as though I am hustling after everything except you God. I am lusting for control and chasing after lies. My fear has crowned the idols to preside over my life. When I am grieving and angry I curse everything and everyone around me.  Show me that my anger can have its proper place without destroying those I love. Teach my soul to be still even in the midst of uncertainty. I plead for the strength to continue giving even when I’d rather hoard. I’m asking for the wisdom to practice gratitude when I feel pressured to keep up and stockpile.

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    PSALM 1

    I’ve been mucking about and making friends with a rather wicked way. It’s a well-worn path my ego and I travel hand-in-hand. I leave bodies in my wake, wounded and bruised, because I’ve gone all in on one thing; me. I spend each moment protecting, preserving, and defending at all costs. Unless something changes, and soon, the life I always imagined living will slip through my fingers and vanish like the windblown sand.

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    THE PSALMS PROJECT

    I’ve been restless for something to pour some creative energy into during this time of hunkering down at home during COVID-19.

    I’ve landed on wanting to explore the honest space of the Psalms. I’d love to (re)imagine how we insert ourselves into these sacred writings. First thing, you don’t have to love, like or even read the Bible to engage with this project. My plan is to use the Psalms as inspiration and groundwork for how I would imagine inserting myself into the story. I’m going to rewrite various Psalms using my voice, my thoughts, and my experiences. Some people will love this, and some people are going to have a hard time not trying to correct me because all their life they’ve been told you shouldn’t “mess with” the Bible like that.

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    His Boots Were Caked With Mud

    If I sat down with you for a coffee and asked you what the central message of the Church was, what would you say?

    Perhaps after we collectively spent a few minutes venting about the hypocritical judgmentalism prevalent in the Church your response might go something like this, ‘well, I guess to leave this place. To make sure I’m going to heaven.”

    And then I’d feel my heart break knowing that I had been there too. For many of us, somewhere along the way, someone told us or taught us that the point of the story was to escape.

    We’ve grown up with and been exposed to a partial message. The story as it was told and retold to us almost always passed over the delight of the garden and chose instead to start with the curse. When it comes to stories, how you begin really matters. A shift in how you begin changes the arc and the story in its entirety.

    As a result of where we’ve started the story we’ve spent less and less time talking about what it means to tend the garden, and more and more time talking about how and when we can leave it all behind.

    I am convinced that the sacred and holy work of following Jesus replaces the ‘when question of Heaven’ with the question, ‘what now?’  The invitation of Jesus is far more concerned with what it looks like to participate in making all things new rather than waiting around for an escape. We must ask ourselves if our beliefs are centered on an escapism narrative or a participation narrative. How we as individuals and how the global Church answers that question will determine how the world experiences the message of hope and connection.

    Perhaps the following short story will be your invitation into thinking outside the box of (y)our orthodoxy.

    For many of us God has become a train conductor screaming ‘all aboard’ on the next train to heaven. The simplified instructions revolve around a prayer that needs to be recited (preferably with eyes closed and heads bowed) sometime before hopping on the train. Once we are on board we are officially on our way to leaving this barren wasteland called Earth.

    And so we did. We said the prayer, we boarded the train, and then we just sat there. We literally sat there. And as the train starts moving through life we find ourselves sitting on our free pass to Heaven. At first it’s really great and it even stays that way for a while.

    We notice that there are expansive windows on the train, but the shades are drawn closed and we don’t think to ask permission to open them. For the most part we keep to ourselves, ignoring the world we once occupied. This rail car our new home for now.

    One day, as a group of us were feeling quite righteous and important, the conductor slowly opened the shades on all the windows. Initially our eyes cringed from the light we seemed to have forgotten, but after a few moments we began to see. We saw mountains and rivers, birds and wild animals, beautiful flowers and beautiful faces. We saw joy as people danced and we saw sorrow as people wept. In the midst of all that we saw our hearts felt drawn into engaging with this beauty, this chaos, this mess. The message had been clear for so long, the main point of the story was to leave, so we stay seated. We ignored the child-like inclination to press our noses to the glass in hopes of catching a glimpse of what lay beyond our train seat.

    As time moved forward the curiosity continued rising within us.  We silently scolded ourselves for not being content with the blessing of Heaven. We sat still like good little boys and good little girls. We congratulated ourselves for our patient endurance and our ability to smother our deep desire for adventure and participation.

    We told ourselves we were really doing it! This is success we thought, this waiting-to-leave-kind-of-life. 

    But, like all good little girls and good little boys we got restless. The conductor seemed to open the windows of the train for all of these stunning moments that grabbed our attention; moments of great beauty, moments of astounding mystery, and moments of great heartache. There were sunrises and shooting stars, weddings and funerals, births of children and losses of children. We saw beautiful things and we saw heart-wrenching things. We saw things that gave us butterflies deep in our bellies, and things that made us weep and feel alive. But we never spent much time talking about what we saw. And so we stayed seated, stuck between two worlds.

    Every so often the conductor stopped the train. Neither myself nor anyone around me really knew why. At first we thought we needed more fuel or perhaps there was something wrong with the train that needed fixing. Every time we stopped new people would get on the train. There was always a buzz in the air when new people boarded. There were stories of hope and redemption pulsing through them. They talked about being invited into a new way of seeing. They felt alive. And so we carried on like this for years. Staying seated, not asking questions, staring out the windows silently dreaming, and stopping occasionally to welcome new friends.

    All that changed the day I passed by a gentle old man I hadn’t met before. He had these sparkling blue eyes. They were full of mercy and kindness and they reminded me of Lake Superior, my childhood playground. He seemed to know something I didn’t and as I passed by he grabbed my hand and he simply held it. I stopped, not knowing how to respond. It didn’t feel forceful, but it felt significant. My eyes were still down at this point, and so he squeezed my hand, inviting me to look up. As I turned my gaze upwards his blue eyes were waiting for me. He cracked a sly smile and pulled my ear to his lips where he whispered, ‘there’s more.’ And as I pulled away he pointed to his boots. They were caked with mud. I froze and tried to make sense of what I was seeing. 

    My internal dialogue went something like this, “Wait, what? Mud? Mud from where? Mud from, well I’ll be damned, mud from out there.”

    My mind was racing and my heart overwhelmed as I attempted to reconcile his subtle invitation to participate in the mess and beauty of out there. I immediately found myself protesting the narrative I’d always been told, that the main point of the story was to stay seated and wait for escape. The mud on his boots and the twinkle in his eye opened up in me a reimagining of the story.

    The only word I could spit out was “Who?”

    “Who?”, he said surprised, “What do you mean who?” 

    I fumbled with my words and responded, “Who gave you permission to leave the train?” 

    Sensing how naive and perhaps fragile I was in that moment he held back his laughter at such a preposterous question.

    He waited a moment before continuing, “Well the Conductor of course,” he said matter-of-factly. “He waits for a group of us in one of the rail cars we discovered when we could no longer just sit still and wait. The first night we showed up, he was there waiting. Pretty much scared the shit out of us. We apologized profusely

     because we were worried we had broken some rule, but he told us he had been waiting a long time for us. He said all the things we saw out those windows were for us. The sunsets and the shooting stars were just because he liked watching our eyes light up with wonder. He said that the faces of joy and heartache were meant to make us question if this train was all there was. He wanted to stir up something in our hearts and our souls. He wanted to remind us that we were made for adventure and connection and compassion. And so now we gather at his feet like little 

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    My Dreamer is Broken

    She looked up from her vanilla reindeer drink with glistening eyes and found the courage to whisper “the dreamer in me is broken.” I thought for a moment; careful to avoid a rushed response that would dishonor her vulnerability. We sat together in sacred silence for a few moments before we sensed a permission to continue with words.

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    You are Good, You are Loved

    My hands paused for an extra moment this morning; hovering over the shoes that would carry you off to Kindergarten. For a fleeting moment I thought if I waited long enough I could turn back the clock. Perhaps time would settle into stillness long enough so I could revisit all the times I’ve rushed you out of childhood and forgotten you are still beautifully wrapped in innocence and wonder.

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    The Spring Mud

    Spring. I love the way that the light lingers through the dinner hour and I no longer feel like my reality is characterized by darkness. I love the warmth of the sun on my face as I listen to the melting snow and ice. I love that our neighborhood bursts forth with new life as we collectively emerge from our sub-zero hibernation.

    But I hate the spring mud. It’s so…messy.

    I hate the way it squishes under your feet and gets your new shoes dirty. I hate the way it sticks to my kids boots and endlessly tracks through our house. I hate the way it makes our basement feel like a laundromat. I hate the way it confines me to the deck until the earth is better suited for work and play.

    This year as winter loosened its grip spring came with its messy mud and death. We said goodbye to our beloved Nana; a gentle and generous soul. She was the heartbeat of our family, occupying such significant space in our hearts that our journey will be forever marked by the grief we now carry.

    A short while after Nana’s funeral my kids were playing outside; the warm glow of the sun on their shoulders and their feet ankle deep in that horrible, awful, messy spring mud. Joy poured from their tiny bodies through shouts and laughter. I, on the other hand, wasn’t feeling much joy. I was stressed and agitated as I worried about how to limit the amount of mud that would find its way into my home.

    Later that night I vividly remembered how the somber grey hearse pulled Nana out of reach for the last time. I remembered the strange finality that moment carried with it. I remembered resting my head on the casket one last time and how everything in my body ached for one last hug, one last touch, one last word.

    As I sat there feeling stuck in the messiness of my grief I recalled the faces of my children as they tromped through the mud. The joy. The laughter. The life. I remembered their invitation, “come and play daddy.” Then I remembered my dismissal of their invitation. What a careless response to the mess in front of them I thought; to play, to dive in, to experience, to embrace and to not worry about how or when the mess would be cleaned up. How irresponsible!

    The truth is I missed a moment with my kids because I refused to follow their lead and get dirty. I was far more concerned with cleaning it all up afterwards. I think the same can be true about the messes we face in our lives. We tiptoe around the mud hoping to keep the pain and discomfort at arm’s length or we become ardently consumed with ways to tidy up. We exert tremendous effort in tidying up the grief, the sadness, the hurt, and the mess. We’ve come to believe that life affords us no space or time for messes.

    But what if the best thing for us to do is get dirty? What if the most meaningful and significant action we can take is to cover ourselves with mud? What if healing comes as we feel the mud between our toes and under our nails?

    Perhaps God cares very much about your willingness to enter the mess and very little about how much mud you sling at him in your hurt and pain and confusion.

    Perhaps God eagerly awaits your arrival in the mud pit where your why and how come questions are both welcomed and of no surprise.

    Perhaps our entering the mess is entirely necessary for us to grasp that our doubt and grief and anger have no capacity to change our standing as beloved.

    Perhaps God is like my children (I think he is), a good god, who sits in the mess and invites you to come and play, if for no other reason than to show you that there’s beauty and life and new beginnings, in all things, and in all of us. READ MORE →