Day to Day



The question on the test was "How are we saved?"

If you answered "by grace" you got 100%. Every word you added took off points, such as "by grace through faith" 95%. My husband was at Dallas Theological Seminary at the time and the take away from this was powerful. We are saved by grace.

Recently my leadership team received a message from a woman who wanted to let us know that she couldn't be involved in anything we are offering because Jen Hatmaker is one of our speakers for Brave On. Last year I had several women let me know they couldn't participate in Brave On because Sarah Bessey was one of our speakers. Unfortunately, these communications often come with concern over our theology and where we may be straying from "sound doctrine."

I am well acquainted with the narrative in the church that requires we be against things. I was nurtured and equipped to identify the "other" and build my case for why they were missing the mark, walking in sin, straying, or backsliding. The conclusions I reached demanded action, confrontation and subsequent exclusion if proper corrective action was not strictly followed.

I remain grieved today about times I know I left young adults in my care feeling rejected, judged and abandoned by me from this posture of rightness.

Grace unites us, everything that comes after that divides us. All the words that come next facilitate the process of sifting and judging. Setting up our rules, our dogma, our personal preferences for what it looks like to walk in Christ.

Beyond the grace that saves us we are each free to choose. Choose your personal preference, the doctrine of Arminianism , or Calvinism, be Charismatic, be Baptist, be Lutheran or Catholic or any number of other denominational choices. Why is it that in the midst of exercising our personal preference we also must judge and bring our power against anyone who doesn't share in that preference? Do we actually believe we are safe guarding the gospel or growing the Kingdom of God? I don't see judgement and exclusion as safeguarding or growing God's Kingdom.

You love Jesus, you believe He died to provide salvation for us. Awesome. We share that in common, how good is that!

As I age I continue to discover that I know less and less and my curiosity continues to grow more and more, I believe this is the nature of wisdom. 

Many things I stood "against" in my twenties and thirties are now part of my daily life. Things I was so sure were the "right" or the "best" have proven to be flawed, everything from people to organizations, to books and programs. 

My arms are more open, my table longer, my heart more expansive. There is much I do not know. But one thing I do know is that Jesus collected the people the religious leaders labeled as sinners, disobedient to the "law" and practicing poor doctrine. He often told them to go and sin no more, knowing full well they would go and sin some more. How good of Him to spill His blood for them, for me, for you.

So when you come to my spaces, Red Tent Living, Brave On, retreats or seminars or just to my home for dinner you will find a wide array of people who love Jesus. They may be Catholic, or Episcopalian, they may be LGBTQ, they may be breaking all of your personal rules and still claim Jesus as their own and have stories to tell about how they are learning to follow Him. Or they may desperately long to know Jesus more deeply and just like so many who found their way Him in the Bible they are broken and hungry and it is a privilege to sit with them and offer them nourishment and kindness.

And if you can't come, can't support or can't participate because Jen Hatmaker or Sarah Bessey or whoever else doesn't line up with your personal preferences is invited I grieve that for you.


Because I know today that I missed out on lavish love God wanted to pour out in my soul through all that had to be excluded during the years I practiced my personal doctrine of "againstism".

So I pray blessing on you along with my hope that Jesus comes to disrupt you in surprising ways that expand your preferences and enlarge your hearts space of welcome for “the other”.

And I hope that someday you will chose to join us, bring your voice and your story to the table, because we will be richer for having had you there.


Listening to 2018


The temptation is always there for me to create some beautiful and meaningful moment around my focus for the new year. Like I can craft a picture with my words that is steeped in meaning and dripping with goodness that leaves you hungry to come live in my world. Well, I am saying no to temptation and instead telling it like is actually unfolded.

New Years Day started out quite lovely, sitting by a roaring fire, drinking coffee with friends and sharing heartfelt conversation. The morning slowly ebbed away until we decided to pack up and head home. The bickering started before we'd pulled out of their driveway. My girls sat in the back seat disagreeing about who's turn it was to play music, what fast food stop we should make on the way home and who's turn it was to hold the dog...because taking the dog with us for New Years Eve had seemed like such an awesome idea. My nerves felt quickly raw and on edge.

By late in the day, as I worked my way through the house taking down the remaining remnants of Christmas the edginess of my mood had only increased. Nearly every conversation with Elly felt as if she simply wasn't listening to me, every request from me was countered with a question from her. Finally, it was time for bed and I was hopeful to put an end to the day.  I crisply commanded, "Leave your phones here, brush your teeth and head to bed." To which Elly responded with, "What are we going to do with my gingerbread house?" My body felt tight as I snapped back, "We will worry about that tomorrow, just get in bed."

Not ten minutes later down the stairs she came with that gingerbread house in one hand and her phone in the other. She placed said house on my freshly cleaned kitchen counter and I lost it. It's a bit of a fog but I know I heard the word "listen" leave my mouth at least five times as I unloaded my frustration from the day all over her little self.

"Ok mom, sorry. I will try harder tomorrow."

Nothing like a poor parenting moment to seal the first day of a new year. 

I can only tell you that there in the middle of my kitchen, in the dark, waiting for my tea kettle to heat up I knew that my word for 2018 was LISTEN. 

The listening has already been worthwhile. I noticed that the noise around me is loud. Social media, even in the limited capacity I've given it thus far, offers distraction and opportunity to feel pressure, failure, hustling and the subsequent shame that comes from sensing that I am not enough. Not enough education, not enough influence, not enough social justice work, not enough goes on and on. 

I felt the choice to listen to that noise or listen to my life.

I settled on listening to my life. 

Good choice, right?!

My life is now, and the only thing I can really do is listen to it and live into it. 

I cannot undo the past, I cannot make myself something I am not. I honestly don't have the energy to become my own brand, whatever that even means.

Last year I largely focused on being present in my life to grieve, heal and recover from the shipwreck that marked 2016 for me. This year it is time for me to return some things that needed be at rest for a season.

I know I am meant to do some very specific things and at the top of the list I am story listener. The #Silence is not Spiritual movement is very much about listening to stories and I will be part of doing that well and helping others to do so.

Listening to my own heart and finishing writing projects began long ago is also part of what this year will hold.

More will come I am sure, and it should be showing up here on my blog if I am faithful to what I have heard already in the few days of listening that 2018 has given me.