SCOTUS and Psalm 20:7

Breaking two years of radio silence for such a hot potato is kind of nerve wracking, but I want to throw some food for thought out there, particularly to my fellow Christians. This started off as a reply on a FB post, and we all know how that can go. Then I decided I didn’t want to limit what I have to say to the original post. So, dusting off “Ye Olde Blogge” where I can say what I want without respect to others’ original discursive intent.

I write this with a great deal of trepidation… because this issue is not so clear cut for me, for a lot of reasons, so I ask for grace and mercy from those disagree with me…because I’m certain there will be many.

My overall thought is that I think Christians make a grave error in putting so much hope and energy into trying make biblical principles (like marriage) as the LAW of the LAND. This world is not our home. We should not be surprised when events, politics, culture, attitudes (you name it) go against what the Bible says.

I suspect this will be an unpopular opinion, but it’s time to let go of the “safety blanket” of a notion or expectation that America will be/is a “Christian nation” because it makes us lazy as Christians. When we try to create a space where we are temporarily “at home” in the world by making biblical principles the rule of law, rather than by the influencing our neighbors and establishing communities of authentic caring through godly, sacrificial relationships with believers and ESPECIALLY non-believers, all of whom sin and fall short of the glory of God, we lose the essence of what it means to be salt and light.

I think we’ve been going about it all wrong in expecting or trusting courts and legislatures to do this work for us… making us safe and comfortable in our proverbial city on a hill through laws steeped in biblical tradition/law. The Bible never promises safety and comfort on this side of heaven. As Christians, the Bible says we should expect persecution. As AMERICAN Christians, we’ve had it really, really easy. And compared to other places in the world, we still do have it easy. And let me be clear: What happened today is NOT persecution. It is an erosion of a privilege, an challenge to the assumption that a certain way of thinking is SO RIGHT that it should be the law. I’m reminded of Psalm 20:7. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. We have asked our government and legislatures protect a culture that has privileged Christianity. We have trusted in horses and chariots, and unsurprisingly, we have seen that privilege eroding for 30 years now. We have allowed suspicion, anger, discontent, greed, discord and hate to sprout up as that privilege erodes instead of trusting in God from whom grace, forgiveness, compassion, mercy, peace and patience flows.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves, do a spiritual gut-check, and get into the trenches of REAL life-transformative work. That means loving God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, loving your neighbor as yourself, following the example of the good Samaritan by doing good unto those with whom you have been conditioned to suspect or hate, and praying for those who persecute you. That means influencing culture through faith in God, and the pursuit of righteousness by following in Jesus’ footsteps, not mandating that an entire population adhere to a belief or standard that is not universally, nor even culturally, upheld.

Yes, we can pray for our land. But let’s not stop there… let’s pray for the opportunity to be salt and light in our communities. Let’s each of us resolve to be a point of light in someone else’s darkness. If America is to be a city on a hill, it will come from all of us letting our individual light shine in the streets of our communities by acts of grace and generosity and forgiveness and mercy – not by the relatively glaring neon of law.

On FB, I have seen many Christians ask the sincere question, how can I show love for someone whose lifestyle is steeped in a sin that I cannot condone? You may take or leave my advice as you wish, but I have had the joy and privilege of being extremely close to someone in a same-sex relationship since I was a child. I have had the privilege of praying for this individual for most of my life, and I have had the unspeakable JOY of watching God work in this individual’s life.

My advice is to simply do these 3 things:
1. Pray for God to draw this person close to Himself. Nothing you do will ever be as effective. I hope as Christ- followers, that we all know from our own personal relationship with Jesus, that there is nothing more loving, more transformative, more glorifying, more joyous than to be embraced by the loving Father. So pray for this person to encounter God. To pray this way is to pray for exactly what the Lord wants, for His child to know His love. Simply ask God to soften their hearts to His embrace.

2. Demonstrate what life is like with Christ’s full acceptance and love and friendship by showing acceptance and love and friendship. Don‘t worry about drawing the lines of approval or disapproval. That is the Holy Spirit’s work. You are not condoning sin if you befriend a person who has sin in their life. You are not condoning sin if you befriend their same-sex partner… you are being a friend. If the friendship is close enough, talk about your own struggles with faith and obedience. Simply be a friend and trust God to do the transformative work in their life. Pray for that work. Don’t try to steer it. You don’t have the map. God does.

3. As you pray for this person, don’t put any timeline on change and don’t get too set on what the change will look like in this person’s life. I prayed for over 20 years before I saw any discernible change in the person I prayed for in terms of sexuality. But the other changes were better. They drew closer to God. They trust Him again. They have turned their life over to Him. They are growing in Him. Their partner has come to know Christ. Really, what more could I ask for? This person is still in a same sex relationship. And you know what? I’m still a glutton and an idolater. We all have sin. His grace is sufficient for both of us. Praise God that His strength is perfected in our weaknesses. We can say to each other, “Jesus loves you, and so do I.” So this is especially important, don’t expect God to change them according to what you think “fixed,” or “whole” or “right” looks like for them. Again let go of your notion of what needs to be done in this person’s life, and simply ask God to draw them near to Himself. Though you may see their sexuality as THE problem, there may be far more spiritually damaging things in their heart – like anger, or mistrust, or greed, or idolatry – that the Lord wants to change. That is why it is so important to pray that He draw them near, and not to necessarily only direct our prayers toward the issues that we see as the problem. God knows all of our deepest needs, and that is where He longs to work.

So, to put my stake in the ground: I am a Christ follower, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a niece, an aunt, a friend, an employee – and in all circumstances, I am responsible to shine my light. And my light is this: if you are gay, bi-sexual, straight… if you are a believer or a non-believer… If you are seeking God or not seeking God… You are safe with me. My relationship with Jesus does not give me any standing with which to judge you. My relationship with Jesus is a flood of grace, and I pray with all my heart that it spills over into all my relationships in the form of love, compassion and joy. Often, though, my own sin prevents this from being so. I beg forgiveness when that happens. Though at times I am prone to judge others, you will find no condemnation in me, because whatever I see in your life that is sin, I see through an imperfect lens because I am a sinner too. If you have been hurt by the church, or if you think that God is someone you do NOT want to know, I pray that I can help to mend those hurts and demonstrate that God loves you exactly as you are. I will not shame or condemn you if you do not believe or understand that. I will not cut off our relationship if you don’t ever come around to believe as I believe, because I do not see you as a project or a cause. You are my FRIEND.

As your friend, I will simply pray that you will experience what I have experienced — To be pursued by ther ever-patient, ever-merciful, incredibly tender Lover of my soul. And after all my running of my 20s, and all the bargaining of my 30s, and trying it my own way at almost every turn, and finally realizing that trusting Him did NOT means giving up that which was most precious to me — the incredible joy of simply dropping all of that baggage and letting the love of the Father into my life. First as a trickle, then a stream, to a river. To today when my nearly daily prayer is to be planted by His spring of living water. I simply pray that you are drawn near to Him, in the gentle and tender ways you are longing to be known. He longs to show you that you are known and loved by Him.

This is the light I will shine. This is my promise to you, my friends, my church, and my community.

Lord, flood us with your grace, so that we are not shaken, or made anxious, or lose our peace and joy when there are changes that we cannot control. When we are not sure whether the tides around us are bringing us closer to Your shore, or taking us further out to sea, grant us the faith that will allow us to walk upon those waves. Wrap Your arms around us so that we may feel the unconditional, transformative, complete, fullness of your love. . Break our hearts for what breaks yours. Give us the strength and courage to get on the front lines of injustice, to give voice to the voiceless, to give our power to the powerless. Teach us run into the darkness bearing the torch of your strength and glory and love. Forgive us for trying to build strongholds of protection around ourselves, because in doing so, we have shut out those who need You the most. Lord, forgive us for shutting out those who need you. Teach us to discern when we are placing our trust in anything other than You, or acting upon any impulse other than Your will. If times ahead are challenging and uncomfortable, give us the strength to welcome it. If persecution is coming, give us courage to not fear it, because we know that victory that has already been won in Jesus death and resurrection. Lord, continue to work in the Church, preparing the Bride, making her beautiful and holy in the eyes of the Groom, Jesus, upon whom all our hopes rest. In His name we pray, Amen.


On having responsible discourse — Part 1 of possibly many.

Lesson 1: Waiting is just as much a part of making a good point as choosing the exact words to make your best point. You do not need to point out the fact that you disagree with someone the moment you discover the disagreement.

Keep listening. Maybe this person has facts that you never knew or points you’ve never considered that shed light on your own position. These facts or points may open up areas of agreement between you that were not immediately present when the point of contention was first raised. Thus, agreement grows and disagreement shrinks, and you didn’t even have to say a word.

Ask questions. Actively look for the common ground before you go telling the person how wrong they are. Otherwise he or she is simply going to return the favor.

Sometimes people just aren’t ready to listen. Sometimes people simply can not consider an opposing point of view because they are to impassioned, or too hurt, or too wronged. Consider that someone who has the same opinion as you, but less sensitive than you, may have come before and was too forceful and too personal with their arguments. You must listen carefully to determine if the person is even ready to hear what you have to say.

Invest in the whole person for awhile. This means you may not get to bring up your point of view for awhile — as in days, weeks, months, or years. If he or she knows that you care about them, s/he will be far more likely to listen to your differing point-of-view. If you assert your point too soon, they may perceive that you do not care about them, and that what you want is to win a debate. Which leads me to my final point…

If all you want is to win a debate, then be honest, say so, and go to the people who are willing and knowingly entering the rhetorical boxing ring with you and go a few rounds. It’s not fair to punch someone who isn’t in the ring. Don’t enter into a dialogue under the guise of helping someone or trying to understand the other side if what you really want is to flex your rhetoric and debate muscles.

Now, in the words of the wise Rufus from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, go out there and “be excellent to each other.”

Smoke-out September

I should have just stopped today with the ham and beans.

I’ve got this plan to make Sundays slow-cooker, comfort food days. Today’s meal was ham and beans. (I love beans! Woo Woo Woo!) Aaaaanyway, I woke up reasonably early for a Sunday and after the prerequisite coffee/wake up, I started throwing everything into the crock pot. Miss G drifted in and asked for Doritos for breakfast. Of course she does! And I thought about it, but I said no. Of course I did. I recommended cinnamon rolls instead… just as soon as I was done getting everything going.

So, having all the ingredients in, I put the lid on, set the dial on “low,” and then took a few minutes to skim a magazine and have more coffee before starting on the cinnamon rolls. Twenty minutes later I thought it was odd that there was no condensation or fog on the crock pot lid. YoursGenius-Truly here, rinsed and chopped, and seasoned and chopped some more, and set the dial and pushed it back from the edge of the counter so no little hands would get burned, and even rinsed and put away the knives, but forgot to plug the darn crock pot in. Luckily I only lost about 25 minutes. That was my first mishap of the day.

I turned on the oven to preheat it so I could make my beautiful children my fresh, homemade, straight-out-of-the cardboard roll cinnamon rolls. Immediately I smell that smell that can best be described as “oven.” You know, that smell of burnt pizza crust and cheese that no longer smells like food…just the chemical reaction of something being turned to nitrogen as it fries on the bottom of your oven. Of course you do. Don’t even act like you don’t know that smell.

This slight burnt smell is completely normal when I bake because I’m not all Martha Stewart up in here. So I didn’t think anything of it. Until the smell got really strong and all of a sudden I’m coughing. I turn around and my oven is churning out gray smoke like it’s on fire (it wasn’t) and smoke already filled the kitchen and my eyes are burning. Then I remember the meatloaf debacle on Thursday. The meatloaf was very tasty. It’s just that I overfilled the dish and lot of juices ended up on the oven bottom when I tried to get the dish out of the oven. I had forgotten to clean it up. Now, all that juice was converting into acidic smoke and it was billowing out into my house.

We have a pretty little house, so it didn’t take long for it to fill up the living room, too. The amount of liquid that was spilled on the bottom could not have been more than a quarter to half a cup, but the smoke was so thick and so bad that the girls felt in necessary to crawl around from room to room on their hands and knees and call out, “There’s good air down here, Mom!” Thaaaaanks, kids.

Meanwhile I’m running around opening up every single window, and desperately trying to get the batteries out of all the smoke detectors because John was still sleeping. (Sidenote here to say that he was miserable with sinus problems all day yesterday. Every time he sneezed, which was about eleventy-hundred, he had to brace his neck to keep it from jarring too much.) Since I am a wonderful and thoughtful wife, I didn’t want him to wake up to choking smoke, which, by the way, had made it downstairs to where he was sleeping. So I quickly started bringing up all the fans I can find and strategically positioned them in various places so as to circulate the smoke out and fresh air in.

Meanwhile my children were running in and out of the house and made sure that our neighbors knew all about it. Which was probably wise because I could smell the smoke several feet from the house, so they probably knew something was up.

So, all’s well that ends well. The smoke was pretty well cleared out within 30 minutes or so. And by the time John got up an hour later, he said he could smell something, but that it didn’t seem smoky.

And my kids totally ate those cinnamon rolls. They didn’t taste bad at all! I’m not sure how that’s even possible. I should have stopped with the ham and beans, though. Come to think of it, I should have stopped with the meatloaf.

Here’s hoping that Monday is better. Take care everybody!

Be good to yourself.

I used to ache on days like today when I had to go inside. Even though I liked being with my students, there was most definitely a kernel of resentment at having to miss a glorious day such as today was. I frequently gave my students homework to go outside and play for a minimum of 30 minutes. I taught high school, mind you. On the occasional day when I had to take a personal day or a sick day, and the weather was nice, and I needed to get out of the house, I felt so guilty–like I wasn’t supposed to be in a world in which I knew in my soul I belonged. I couldn’t enjoy it fully, because I was supposed to be somewhere else.

And speaking of being somewhere else–I was never fully present. I couldn’t ever just be with my children or husband. They never got my best…just what I had left over at the end of the day–which wasn’t much. My poor husband, I’m sorry to say, did not have much of a helper in me. Don’t get me wrong, we are great partners in running a household. But, I wasn’t very good about helping him.

But that was then.

Today I was positively blissful at 10:50 this morning when I got to sit out in the sunshine and enjoy this fountain on this perfect fall day. What’s better is that I wasn’t “stealing” time or “taking time for myself.” No, I was actually taking care of my husband by waiting for him as he finished his physical therapy. He is still not cleared to drive after his neck surgery, and as his chauffer, it was my good luck to have this beautiful view while I waited. He also can’t carry a gallon of milk anywhere, pick up our cat, load the dishwasher or empty it, take out the garbage, or change bedsheets.

Contrary to popular belief, we do need help taking care of ourselves sometimes. And I’m not just referring to post-surgery, physical care. Sometimes we need help to simply be good to ourselves. We are not built to make it totally on our own. Most of us who try end up feeling some kind of profound sadness, even in the midst of seeming success. Yet society tells us that gentleness, particularly the need for gentleness, is weakness. If you want to be kind, well, that’s your business. But good heavens, don’t be vulnerable.

I’ve been wanting to update you on what’s been going on, what God is doing in my life, how He has been walking with me, drawing me closer and closer to Him, what I’m learning about myself, but most importantly, what I’m learning about Him. The truth is, I’m not really sure I can explain. So much has happened in the past four months. So, I’ll just leave it at this:

I used to ache to be inside on days like today. On this day, I sat outside with absolutely no place I was supposed to be. I used to feel bad that I wasn’t better helper to my husband. On this day and for the past month, I  have been able to be by his side helping him with whatever he needed, taking him wherever he needed to go. I used to have to muster up all the reserves of my patience and energy to help the girls through their homework. Now I positively look forward to picking them up from school.

What I am learning is that it is okay for me to be good myself.

It is okay for you to be good to yourself.

I won’t lie. It gets tough sometimes. Our financial situation is getting pretty…interesting. That’s the word I’ve been using. To be even more truthful, sometimes I’m just plain scared and worried. But just when I start to slip back into my old, bad habits of beating myself up over the situation, He sends me someone that helps me to be good to myself. Helps me to remember that just when we feel most in control is when we are most in danger. That when we are trusting Him to come through because we honestly. can. not. see. a. way. out., that is when we are on the safest ground.

I wish I had the eloquent words to share with you how I know–deep in my bones–the truth of this. I promise that from now on I’ll try to let you in on the day-to-day of what’s happening and what He is teaching me. I know this is not polished… maybe not even all that cohesive.

I just feel very strongly that somebody out there needs to know that He knows what you need, even better than you do. This I know from experience. He wants you to rely on Him. Baby steps are ok. And He wants you to be good to yourself. He really really does.


It’s a tricky and fallen world we live in. When I get a craving for a taco (or a chicken sandwich and waffle fries)–it would be nice if I didn’t have to worry that the profit from my business was going to support something I strongly oppose. But good luck with that! Anytime I buy anything, part of that money is going to support something I don’t agree with/condone/support/etc. If I hold to the standard that every company I support with my purchasing power must align with all of my convictions and beliefs, then I’ll never buy anything again. So, what’s a girl with $3 and a taco craving to do?

I could look at it this way: I want a taco. There’s a restaurant that has tacos. I give them money, they give me that taco. Once that exchange is made, the money is no longer mine and the taco is no longer theirs. They can do with that money whatever they wish, and Imma eat that taco! That, friends, is consumerism at its finest. They have something I want, I have the cash. The exchange is made, no strings attached. They prosper from my money, and my belly prospers (more than what I’d care to admit) from their tasty tasty tacos.

Ooh, but is it really that simple? Unfortunately, no.

When I spend my money, and when you spend yours, it goes to all kinds of places and activities we would not contribute directly to if given the choice. That antibiotic I bought for my kid last month? And the migraine medicine you might have bought a few weeks ago? The drug company that produce those medicines are supporting and utilizing stem-cell research. There’s a lot of misinformation about stem-cell research, folks. Did you know that scientists can do stem-cell research using skin from a live, human hand or from tissues taken from the heart or liver? In other words, there is no harm to a fetus anywhere in the process. Oh, well, that’s not so bad, is it? But how do I know that (what was once) my money is going to the okay kind of research as opposed to the not-okay kind? I don’t. And, really, last month when my kid was sick and hacking her head off in the middle of the night and was generally miserable, did I even care about where the money went, or did I just want my baby to feel better? No. And I’d make the same decision over and over again. Why? Because I am a better parent than activist, and rightly so.

But what if it’s even more complicated than that? What if it’s not just a few pennies (of what was once my money) going to a mega-million dollar lobby toward an issue which I’m not certain I completely and fully understand the science behind, anyway. What if the taco company’s founder has opinions that I disagree with, but I recognize that he has done a lot of good work to help his community and disadvantaged people? Do I withhold my money from his company based on his opinions, despite all of his honorable actions? What if the company, not (I repeat, NOT) the man, gave a measly $1,000 to a group that has put out some extremely biased and discriminatory information that I strongly disagree with. A group whose “research” is tainted with their bias and is likely not up to academic nor scientific standards. If I keep getting my tacos there, I am indirectly supporting someone else to put out a message that I fundamentally, deep down in my marrow, disagree with in the strongest possible terms. But if I stop getting my tacos there, it also means that I no longer support the man who founded the company, who holds some opinions with which I disagree, but also who uses his own money to do things that I definitely admire.

Well, I could say that my measly $3 in tacos isn’t going to make a big difference one way or the other. This is true. But is that really the point? What if there are a million others like me who are trying to sort this thing out, too? Or even just, say, 150,000 others. Do we all get a free pass to stop thinking about this issue because our $3 doesn’t amount to much? When you put our $450,000 together, that makes a pretty big statement. So, back into the hot seat I go.

I don’t want to sound naïve and skirt the issue by suggesting that what we really need, rather than boycotts and rallies, is a “Cumbaya” moment where we all get together, talk about our feelings, and maybe share some tacos. Money is power. But you know what else is power? Our words. Our actions. Our compassion. It’s so much easier, isn’t it, to drive through the Chik-fil-a and grab a $3 sandwich to show support for Dan Cathy and his right to speak his convictions. Or, it’s so much easier, isn’t it, to stay at home and boycott Chik-fil-a because of their financial support of the Family Research Council, which has said some horrible things about homosexuals that have had detrimental effects on real people and their families. To buy a sandwich or not by a sandwich?

Boy, if it were only that easy.

What is harder, much harder, is to reach out to friends or family members who seem to sit on the opposite side of the issue from where I am and straight-up ask them what their position is. So here is my challenge to myself and to anybody else who wants to accept it, regardless of where you or I are, whether we agree or disagree, on this issue:

Assume nothing. Ask someone with whom we disagree–with the sincere desire to understand them and their convictions—what they think and why they think it. Put our own convictions and opinions out there for others to challenge. If you, like me, have a personal connection to or experience with this issue, talk about it. Let us not be afraid to talk about our gay parents/children/siblings/cousins/nieces/nephews/aunts/uncles/friends/neighbors/teachers/co-workers. Don’t flatten the issue—complicate it. Don’t be afraid to reach out in order to better understand.

I believe that in this dialogue, most of us will find that that the convictions of others mostly come from a place of well-meaning. Disagreement is extremely uncomfortable to me, but we need to dwell in the uncertainty between the multiple sides of this issue. We can strongly disagree and still avoid condemnation and judgment. We can still acknowledge and lift up the best in each other. We can listen. We can be humble. We can still serve our Lord together, despite the fact that we disagree. When we do this, we become better parents/children/siblings/cousins/nieces/nephews/aunts/uncles/friends/neighbors/teachers/co-workers, and more importantly, better Christ followers. We become bigger than the issue and we start to exhibit that love and unity that sets His people apart from all the others. We can hold on to our opinions and convictions as long as we hold our love for Him, and by extension His love for others, tighter.

This, and not boycotts nor rallies, is what is sorely needed. And for pete’s sake, let us not allow the politicians, the pundits, and the talking heads to speak for us. No disrespect intended, but I can not speak from my own heart with someone else’s mouth, and neither can you. We need to drown out the mega-phone voices, turn off the television and radios, get into our quiet spaces, and pray. Discover what the Spirit is saying to our hearts. Then, speak it in love and do not be surprised or offended if we still disagree. We are, after all, fallen sinners. We must trust that we are all doing our best.

The fact of the matter is my friends and family who supported Chik-Fil-A by buying a chicken sandwich today will not feel any differently because I did not. Nor, did their decision to do so have any real impact on me. We took our positions today, and the heartache over the GLBT issue will continue. Our money and our alliances do nothing, nothing at all, to reconcile us or even help us to understand each other. And I concede that some people have taken their positions on Chik-fil-a after a lot of thought and prayer. That’s great. But the hard work, the real transformative power of our convictions and beliefs comes from the dialogue, the walking it out and talking it out, the relationship. Just like our walk with Jesus.

If we let our money and alliances do all the talking, somewhere down the line we’d be saying all kinds of things we would never utter with our mouths. If we really want to be like Jesus, it’s better that we all do our own talking.

Still green.

I’m never ready for a new year. I always have unfinished business from the year before, and while I’ll put on my happy face for the sake of New Years celebrations, the truth is I always carry a nagging sense of failure as the year draws to a close. Another year that I didn’t accomplish or do one thing or another.

Cheerful and uplifting, huh?

I have to break the 2012 ice somehow, so I’ll do it with honesty.

Yesterday, John suggested we take a walk, and I took my camera along. I got some nice shots, and this one is my favorite. It’s not technically great, but I love the way the light hits the moss and illuminates the water.

Even though winter has just settled in, there’s still light. And there is still green. And I am still here.

joy and grace list

So Karen wants to know what fills her readers’ lives with joy and grace. I’m happy to oblige.

exercising my 80s pop music trivia knowledge;

sharing good stories, good books, and good discourse with my students;

spending sun-drenched afternoons with my kids;

wearing tennis shoes to work;

feeling sexy in just-the-right-fit jeans and a comfy sweater;

wearing my dark-brown hair messy;

laughing at my husband’s threats of deviant behavior at very inappropriate times;

engaging in loooooong conversations with ooooooold friends;

exploring old houses; studying the turning of leaves;

sitting on the front porch and listening to the wind;

breathing deep the smell of rain;

whispering in the dark;

moon gazing;

sipping loose-leaf tea;


driving or walking with my camera and my ipod;

listening to my 4 year-old sing her made-up songs;

turning on the dishwasher;

having my Saturday morning coffee in the back yard;


exchanging quotes from Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail and Napoleon Dynamite with my students;

bedtime prayers;

dancing like a fool;

roasting marshmallows;

walking the aisles at libraries in search for the oldest volumes I can possibly find and perusing the titles;

counting my blessings;

baking cornbread;

having impromptu neighborhood get-togethers;

looking someone deep in the eyes and smiling;

reaching out–reaching out—and connecting.

How about you? What fills your life with joy?