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It’s been almost 4 years since I posted here so this is mostly for those of you who signed up for email updates when I post. I’ve migrated over to a new website,

I posted a poem I wrote in response to our current situation this past week and plan on posting prayers or other writings on Tuesdays. You can also sign up for email notifications over there, just scroll to the bottom of the home page.

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The Seeds We Plant

Fourteen years ago I started attending Arlington Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky. I didn’t attend for the thriving college ministry. There wasn’t one. I didn’t attend for some amazing contemporary worship. That wasn’t their style. I made my church home there because of the church and their ministry. And the way they let a first-year college student find a place in their community. They invited me to come to their Sunday School class and to help with Kids’ Club on Saturday mornings.

Kids’ Club was a partnership between Arlington and God’s Pantry to provide lunch and brown bag of food to the neighborhood kids that would show up for movies, time in the computer lab, crafts, and other fun. With a double dose of adults that cared as well.

It didn’t take long for those students to burrow into my heart and make me the weirdo in my dorm who voluntarily got up early on Saturday AND Sunday mornings.

Fourteen years ago, First Christian Church in Jefferson City was already well-practiced at mentoring students at East Elementary School. The congregation has long been passionate about supporting the students, teachers, and staff at East. A school often spoken about in terms of problems and needs instead of strengths and community.

Yesterday, First Christian held a block party at East School for the whole neighborhood. It seemed like the natural result of decades of ministry, taking another step to expand the relationship beyond the school walls.

The seeds for yesterday’s event were planted years ago in Jefferson City when members at First Christian first answered the call to be caring adult role models in the lives of students. The seeds for yesterday’s event were also planted 14 years ago when I first saw the difference care and opportunity could have in the lives of children in Lexington, Kentucky.

It is a parallel I couldn’t see until the dust from the event started to settle this morning. I am so grateful for the opportunity to see how, with God’s help, seeds planted long ago have come together to blossom anew.

Families eat and play on the blacktop at East School during the block party

Community Block Party hosted by First Christian Church Jefferson City at East School September 9, 2016

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Grief Scars

July 1 2007

Dad update
I am at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Medical Center. They have moved Dad here for a second opinion and if possible aggressive chemo and maybe a stem cell transplant. Otherwise his cancer has become so aggressive that if they don ‘t get on top of it with chemo it could be a matter of months. It could get into his brain because the current active lymphoma is near a bundle of nerves exiting the skull and it could travel up them. We are working on a day by day basis. Prayers and thoughts are appreciated.
This year Facebook has taken to reminding me how full summers are with bittersweet memories.
Yesterday this post that showed up on my “On this Day” list brought it all flooding back.
The day in my dad’s doctor’s office hearing this news with my mom and sister.
The fear.
The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The tears that would not stop.
I remember packing for my mom as we prepared to follow Dad to Chapel Hill.
I remember coming back from getting something from the car after we got there to find an entire fast response team in my dad’s room, the doctor’s surprise that my mom had been handling his syncope episodes at home without medical supplies.
I remember calling the NC Regional Offices from the hospital room to cancel my Commission on Ministry meeting and calling the airline to push my return flight to Texas back two more weeks.
I remember watching fireworks on a hotel TV that 4th of July.
I don’t remember when I decided to move home. Just that with everything going on, including my own burnout at school, it was the only choice that ever made sense.
The pain and fear was real and it comes rushing back sometimes.
The anticipatory grief that burned a hole in my heart is a scar that remains, reminding me that every day, every memory between now and then could have never been. And yet, and yet, and yet.
This year I am feeling these reminders a little more intensely. Living on my own, states away from family, is still an adjustment. As impatient as I was for the next thing, the eight years I got with my family were a gift and a blessing in so many ways.
The support of my parents to let me pursue my call.
The time with my dad that was never promised.
Watching my nieces grow into wonderfully smart and passionate girls, showered with the love of Grandma and Papa.
If I’m honest, I am grieving this change, even 10 months in. Maybe because I am 10 months in. This is when everything changed the last time I moved away after all.
There is much to celebrate and be present for in my new place, my new home. But today, this week, I am also sitting with the memories, the grief, and the gratitude.
Today I run my fingers over the emotional scars that are proof of both pain and healing.
Today I make space for where I was 9 years ago, anticipating loss, and where I am today, experiencing a similar but different grief of distance.
Grief is a layered and varied thing, y’all. And sometimes it means sitting on a bus full of sleeping middle school youth, tears streaming down my face in response to the grief I felt 9 years ago.
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Choking on Words – Reflections on the Tragedy at Pulse in Orlando

Before you read my small contribution to the multitudes speaking right now, please go read these things written by those within the communities that are hurting the most because of the tragedy in Orlando. As I come across others I will try to add them here.

Christians after Orlando

Reflecting on Tragedy

I Will Love Until My Own Pulse Stops

Talking to Youth about Orlando

We Are Dying

Edited to Add 6/14/16

Sacred Geography: A Queer Latino Theological Response to Orlando

It Was My Safe Haven

Trans and Queer Latinx Respond to Pulse Orlando Shooting

I am choking on words I don’t know how to say.

Words I can’t form, words can’t shape in a way that will be non-threatening and honest and peaceful and loving.

Torn between a desire to loudly proclaim that I support my LGBTQ, Latinx, and Muslim friends and neighbors and strangers…

…and a desire to not say the wrong thing.

Torn between a desire to shout for everyone to just stop with the rhetoric, stop with the blame, stop with the never-ending phobia of those who are other than you…

…and a desire to not add to the din of prescriptions and demands and simplifications

In a manner of hours everyone was suddenly an expert, suddenly had all the answers.

As if the truth of what led to this heartbreak could be discerned in moments from the spattering of “facts” coming from a newscaster’s mouth, spurred on by producers who see dollar signs and ratings.

As if all we needed to know could be found in the mixed messages of social media posts that trade in speculation and generalizations disguised as truth.

And before the bodies have even been moved from the spot where the bullets tore through them, nuggets of “wisdom” told in 140 characters or less profess to narrow the cause to one, to defend the prejudices of old, to proclaim sympathy for people who were hated in life.

Each proclamation seemingly shared in hopes that one spark of enlightenment, one message from a self-professed truth teller will change the world.

Or at least another’s mind.

We’ve been here too many times before. The messages remain the same but they come faster and harder with each announced body count. The well-practiced rhetoric paraded out on autopilot.

Thoughts and Prayers

I was right.

You were wrong.

If only…

See this is why…


We only become more entrenched, more divided with each massacre.

I have my opinions. I know what I think, what I blame for this never-ending violence and hate.

And right now I am choking on those words because I am choking on my own distrust, my own lack of love, my own small seed of hate that tries to find purchase when others disagree with me.

Because the anger that I feel boiling every time I see posts on Facebook that take a different view, that anger will not accomplish anything but adding to the already uncivil conversation.

So I am choking on words that I cannot form, wishing for words of love and hope and unity to come instead.

So I am paralyzed trying to be a good pastor and a good ally all at the same time.

So I am drowning in guilt for not finding my voice, for not being a vocal advocate for the causes I believe in, for giving into fear time and time again. Despite the fact that what I fear is a threat much smaller than a man with hatred carrying an assault weapon.

People I love carry much greater fear with them each day and face it with more courage and hope and love and joy that I have been able to muster. And for that I am ashamed.

Today I struggle to rise above the fear and hate and anger. I struggle with the impulse to blame and offer simple fixes. Nothing in this world is so simple these days. The layers to the crisis are piled one on top of the other and they must be pulled away. A process that will take too long, has already taken far too long.

I do not ask anyone to wait. There has been too much “not yet” and “someday” for people oppressed. I simply claim for myself the need to find a different tone, a different way, so bridges can be built instead of burnt. Those are the words I have not yet found but I keep seeking.

The one word that echoes in the voices of those I am looking towards today is love. So I stand as witness to others’ grief and I let the rhetoric go in favor of practicing (but still so far from perfecting) love.  For those with whom I agree and those with whom I disagree.

And despite choking on my words, I have found these. So many words and yet still they are inadequate. They are from a place of privilege. They are not prophetic or inspiring.  They are just words spewed out around the ones that remain lodged in my throat until they can be said with love.

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Dear 2016

Two years ago I wrote about my hopes and fears for 2014.

My fear is that this year, this year when I want everything to change, will be another year where everything just stays the same. 

So 2014, bring me the patience to wait until it is time for God’s plan to bloom before me. Just do it soon, okay?

While 2014 was a year of struggling for patience, it was also a year of great accomplishment. Reaching the ends of long trod roads. 2014 was the year of my seminary graduation and my ordination. Plenty of new adventures and ministry in those experiences. Yet my fear was for what would come after. Waiting and hoping for “an exit plan, a place to land, some place new, an adventure.” 

The only new places in 2014 was a job working retail over Christmas and the office temp job that started just days before 2015.

While they weren’t the new place, new adventure I sought at the end of 2013, they did one thing – they reminded me what I was called to do. The discomfort pushed me to do more than wait.

So I applied for a unit of CPE at the hospital for the summer of 2015. If I wasn’t going anywhere yet, I was at least going to find a way to do ministry.

Just as I did in 2013, I quit a paying job for a non-paying job and trusted God to provide.

…And once again doors opened. During my first week as a Chaplain Intern I was also signing my first letter of call. Suddenly I was the one saying, “Wait. Be patient.”

Two years ago I was worried about what was coming. About what starting my ministry would look like. One year ago I was worried about how long change would take to get here.

Now I am here. I am ending 2015 not with impatience or fear but gratitude. I am grateful for opportunities coming in their time. Grateful for the chance to discern my call. Grateful for the courage to say “no” when that was not always the easy choice. Grateful for the opportunity that 2016 holds.

On Sunday, as part of my Epiphany sermon, I, along with the rest of the congregation, will get a word written on a star. A word that represents a gift from God that we sometimes don’t recognize in our daily lives. I’m excited to see where God will be calling me to focus and learn in 2016. But if I’m honest, I’m really hoping I don’t get the one that says “patience,” I’ve had plenty of time with that one.

Whatever my “Star Word” is… Dear 2016, Let’s do this!

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Journeying together as family

When I hear the word “refugees” I immediately think of the individuals, the families, the youth who came to be part of my home church, First Christian Church in Charlotte, NC.

They came from Vietnam, from the mountain highlands. They came through jungles, fleeing persecution we cannot even imagine in the US. They risked so much just to find safety. To find a place where they could worship freely.

They gave up so much in the process. Family, support systems, familiar food and customs.

We call them “Montagnards,” a name the French gave them that means “mountain people.” But they are not one singular group. They are the Bunong. The Jarai. The Ede.

They are my friends. My fellow Christians. My extended family.

I personally know individuals and families whose lives were changed because doors were opened, borders crossed. Those same individuals and families whose sorrow increased when the doors closed behind them, leaving their friends and family behind.

I think of the youth I saw through middle school, high school. The many who have graduated from high school. The one we helped send to college. The one who made the hard decision to strike out on her own. The one who has dreams she is chasing while trying to be faithful to her family. The many who have found jobs to support their families.

In a place far from their home, I watched as a community formed, despite complicated cultural differences and struggles. Family was shown to mean more than a shared name or  a shared culture. Family includes the people who walk beside you, where ever the journey takes you.

Today I am glad that there is a family at FCC Charlotte that can journey together this week as they grieve the loss of Dalin, a 19-year-old man whose family came from Vietnam seeking a better life. While the workplace accident that took Dalin’s life shows that the home they found is far from Eden, I am still grateful that doors were opened for them.

My life was made better for having known Dalin. My life was changed in the time I journeyed with him, his family, and the others in his community that call FCC Charlotte home. Though my own journey has taken me elsewhere, it is a loss felt deeply, even from afar.

For the many who grieve this week,

In our sorrow and in our lament, may we know the comfort of God’s never-ending presence.

In our despair and in our anger, may we know the peace that passes all understanding.

In our grief and in our fear, may we hear God’s call to hope and courage.

And through it all, may we journey as family.

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Sacred Spaces

This time in Search and Call is difficult for many reasons but there is (at least) one perk to not currently serving a church – I get to visit other churches and experience worship from the pew.

This morning I visited a sister church in my denomination for the second time, since the last time I went there was a guest preacher. And for the second time I was very impressed by the Sacred Space they have created for children in their sanctuary. They have removed two pews from the front of the sanctuary, laid down an additional carpet, and outfitted it with art supplies of all kinds. During the core of worship, instead of sending the children out to Children’s Church, they gather in their sacred space with 1 or 2 adult volunteers, working quietly on an art project that connects with the scripture or theme of the day. Following the sermon, during the hymn of commitment, the children bring up their art projects and hang them on hooks on the communion table. The children are soaking up what worship is. They are actively participating in, and even more importantly, contributing, to worship.

There was another moment during the commitment hymn that will stick with me. A couple who had been active in the church (in fact, they were the guest worship leader/preacher during my previous visit) came forward to join. Their son, already comfortable going to the communion table to hang his craft project, went up and hid under the communion table while his parents affirmed their decision to join the church. I do not know if this was shyness or playfulness. Either way, all I could think was, that is the perfect place to take refuge, to find comfort, and to feel at home. When it was time to move on, my clergy colleague simply called the child and let him know if was time to go back to his seat with his parents.

In the Disciples of Christ we believe that the table is open to all, a place where all who seek Jesus can find him and where we are also challenged and called to go out into the world as disciples. Today I witnessed a child finding refuge in the table and experiencing a call from that place of comfort back into the world.

May we all have such an experience when we gather at the table for communion.

Communion table at SouthPark Christian Church Picture courtesy of

Communion table at SouthPark Christian Church
Picture courtesy of

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Living in the Discomfort

Today I must write. Must speak. Even if all I am doing is adding to the din. I must record for myself this day. But I know I write from a place of privilege. I know there are so many other voices out there speaking more truths, greater truths, harder truths. But today this is my truth. 

Today, the day after the Ferguson grand jury announcement and days before Thanksgiving, it is so easy for me to hide in panem et circenses. In fact it is what my mind and body craves. I want to bury my head in the comfort of pop culture podcasts and DVRed shows as I clean and help prepare for family to come for Thanksgiving. I want nothing more than to turn my brain off, to distract myself with less heady concerns.

It is my nature to seek that which is comfortable. To avoid that which is uncomfortable.

Today there are so many for whom denial is not an option. They cannot avoid the fear, the anger. Their very lives are uncomfortable.

Today my spiritual practice is going to be living in discomfort. Wrestling with my feelings of powerlessness and privilege. Listening to voices that challenge me and call me to task.

Right now, I do not know how to turn this day into action. I do not know the path to change or my place on it.

I pray when that path becomes clear that God will grant me the courage and the wisdom to take it and the strength to live in the discomfort that will surely be present along the way.

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Life Physics

I haven’t taken any science classes since my one required “Physics for Poets” class in college but this last month and a half has been a refresher course on inertia, Newton’s First Law of Motion, and momentum.1

The first week after my ordination service was the hardest. I didn’t know what to do with myself. There were no papers to write, no traveling to do, no service to plan, no event to organize.  For the first time in at least three years I did a whole lot of nothing.

It was not nearly as restful as it sounds. Yes, Sabbath time is necessary but this didn’t feel like Sabbath. There was little reflection, little prayer. A lot of TV. And after a few days, a growing sense of guilt.

What about all the things I had wanted to do but didn’t because there wasn’t enough time in the day between school and church?

The healthy habits I gave myself a pass on because I was so busy.
The pile of books I hadn’t gotten around to because I was always reading for school.
The curriculum I said I would write.
The professional connections I should be making.
The social justice I could be participating in.

All of my excuses had disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Before an outside urgency had been propelling me forward, moving me from one to do list to another. Once I stopped, it was much harder to “go” again.

Case in point: this blog post has been half written in my head for two weeks, notes written on my phone going unused because I kept telling myself, “I’ll do it later.” I’ve done a lot of thinking about things that don’t get done.

I did make a to do list. It’s what I do after all. I’ve even crossed a few items off. There is no known due date for any of them, just a window of opportunity of unknown length. My tendency to procrastination remains so I’m still struggling. Still falling victim to the ease of non-action. But I’m getting better at listening for the nudges God gives me to do instead of just think. They seem like little things–taking the time to write, finishing a scrapbook, making fruit salad–but each one builds the momentum, stokes the fires, pushes me forward, blessing me with hope and encouragement.

I am slowly finding my own internal source of momentum. Let’s see if I can keep it up.

1Inertia: the resistance an object has to a change in its state of motion.
Newton’s First Law: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Momentum: “Mass in motion”
Thanks to for the science refresher.

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Already but Not Yet

5 Ordination Laying on Hands (7)

It’s been just over a month since I was ordained into Christian Ministry in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

It still feels weird. Unreal. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet because while I am now an ordained minister, I am not currently ministering. I’ve been describing this time in my own head as “limbo.” I am waiting for my next step to become clear.

On Monday, I participated in an online lectionary group of some of my LTS classmates. As is bound to happen when discussing certain Matthew tests, the question of how to understand and talk about the “already, not yet” nature of the Realm of God came up.

Today it clicked for me. I am experiencing the “already, not yet” in my life. It isn’t limbo, I am not passively waiting. I am already a minister, but not yet a minister. This tension is where I must live for a while, without knowing how long it will last or when it will end.

As I wait, I am learning to reach out, to move. I am being called to minister to the world beyond a single congregation. To minister to myself. To be still. To find patience and hope and clarity.

There are things to do and learn in this time. I just have to be open to them. Open to the transforming power of the already, but not yet, Realm of God in my life.

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