Celebrate The Victory And Embrace The Burden

My church celebrates MLK Day each year. Yesterday, our friend Tiffany Bluhm spoke in all three services. She’s an immigrant – adopted from an orphanage in Delhi, India and raised by a white family in an all-white community (for the first 10 years of her life). Tiffany and her husband Derek adopted their son Jericho from Uganda in 2013. She’s passionate about the subjects of race, reconciliation, and justice.

tiffany for post

In the morning service, while talking about the Martin Luther King holiday, she said:

I hope you don’t just binge-watch HGTV tomorrow on MLK day. Celebrate the victory… and embrace the burden.

After nodding my head and saying amen, I took my bulletin and wrote down a short list of suggestions – other things to… Read More

With Us by Scott the Painter

Scott Erickson is a graphic artist from Portland, Oregon. He’s the guy who designed the image on my favorite T-shirt (one I wear at least once a week – it says Love Thy Haters). You can get prints of his work on shirts or hoodies or posters and other things at Society6. Be sure to check out his website too. He has just posted a series of three “With Us” images for Christmas on Instagram (images shown at the top of this post).

Here is the text that Scott wrote from the most recent image… Read More

Favorite Books Read In 2016

I thought I’d share the list of my favorite books read in 2016. A new thing (for me anyway) that I’ve been doing is reading poetry and fiction… I think Brian Zahnd convicted me with something he wrote that included the following quote from Eugene Peterson:

Isn’t it odd that pastors, who are responsible for interpreting the Scriptures, so much of which come in the form of poetry, have so little interest in poetry? It is a crippling defect and must be remedied.

So anyway, this year’s list includes a little poetry and fiction too. Not everything on the list is new—in fact, some of the books are quite old. It’s just that I read them in 2016 and they made my favorites list. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Water to Wine: Some of my Story by Brian Zahnd – OK, so I might have lied about “no particular order,” at least concerning this one. It’s number one on my list because this was the best book I read all year. Honestly, I wish every Christian would read it. If you only read one book from my list, please read this one!

2. Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity by Norman Wirzba – this book is accessible, enjoyable to read, and totally connects with the heart. I rarely mark up a book as much as I did this one. And this line is gonna stick with me for a long time:

It is a profound calling to look at whatever is before us and ask, “How can I make love visible here and now?”

3.  Celtic Daily Prayer: Book Two: Farther Up and Farther In by the Northumbria Community – this is designed as a daily prayer/devotional book. It is both thought-provoking and beautiful… something to look forward to every day.

4. Life’s too short to Pretend You’re not Religious by David Dark – David has become… Read More

A Few New Beatitudes For Today

Leonard Sweet shared the following…

While in Sweden for an All Saints Day mass, Pope Francis proposed Six New Beatitudes for the 21st century church.

These were meant not to replace the biblical ones, which he called the “identity card” of the saint, but to point to how the original beatitudes might be expanded and understood in light of our world today:

Blessed are those who remain… Read More

Where Is The Pause? Where Is The Reflection?

My friend Moses Masitha was with us on Sunday—speaking at NWLife. He continued in our “Rhythm is Gonna Get Ya” series (which is about how our repeated practices/rhythms shape and form our lives) with a sermon on “Practicing the Rhythm of Sabbath Rest.”

I loved what he shared—and I’d like to share some of the notes that I took from his message…

In the Old Testament, we read how God’s people cried out because of the great burden they were under: they were slaves in Egypt, forced into continual, non-stop production.

Their worth was inherently tied to their productivity.

And God sent Moses to liberate them.

“I want them to be free.”

Moses leads them out. God gives them instructions, commands… because after 400 years of living in Egypt, they needed to be de-programmed.

Their worth had been measured by their ability to produce. They lived among people who worshiped things made by their own hands. And the ways of this culture had crept in… God’s own people followed these same practices.

So, in order to deprogram them, God gives… Read More

Thinking About That Time When I Was Enough

Recently some friends of ours showed up at church. It was a happy surprise—I wasn’t expecting to see them. They don’t exactly live in the Renton/Kent area, and I haven’t seen them in years… decades.

Who are they? Pastor Lou and Sandra—the ones who took a chance on me. My very first ministry position was at their church. I was young, inexperienced, and not yet finished with college. But they believed in me, loved me, and wanted me to be their youth pastor.

After their surprise visit at our church (where we had a few minutes to say hi, Pastor Lou gave me a “Pentecostal handshake,” and we posed together for a picture), Shari said something about them that left me reflecting for days…… Read More

Sunday Shout-Outs

Two beautifully challenging pieces to share today—the first one is new, the other is a few years old…

shannon dingle for post

I Want To Help You Understand My Lament by Shannon Dingle.

I’m hurting, friend. I’m hurting deeply. And I’m being told to suck it up and put away my pain and move on. Rather than call those responses insensitive, I want to help you understand my lament, if I can.

My heart is so tender, and I’m praying with each word that they will be received in the matter in which I intend. I know a lot of voices are shouting right now. I hope to be a voice that pulls up a chair to chat over coffee and share my heart.

I occupy a unique space. I’m white, but four of my children aren’t.

I was born here into a family that dates back to the pilgrim days, but four of my children are immigrants from Asia and Africa. I have ancestors who fought under the Confederate flag, but I’ve been targeted online as a “race traitor” for adopting outside of our ethnicity. I easily pass as having no disabilities (though I live with chronic conditions that are invisible yet can be disabiling), but I’m raising children who live with autism and cerebral palsy and HIV and visual impairments, including one who uses a wheelchair. My husband and I are straight and fit into accepted gender norms, but we have dear friends and neighbors who aren’t or don’t. I’m a Christian, but last year a Muslim friend of mine and her son waited at the preschool until we arrived to walk in with me and Zoe because she was afraid to walk in by herself after the Paris terrorism attacks.

And I occupy one common space: I am a woman who, like 1 in 6, has been raped. I am a woman who was sexually harassed in my workspace and whispered about when I filed a grievance against the man in power who objectified me. I am a woman raised by a father who doesn’t “read books by women because they aren’t any good.” (And I’m a writer, so the hurt is doubled there.)

I am grieving. Many are reading this as being a sore loser. But that’s not how I’m feeling. I have… Read More

The Final Word Is Love

*pictured above: my friend Reggie who was over-the-moon happy to come help get the church ready for our Sunday services.

Some powerful thoughts from Dorothy Day…

The final word is love.

The older I get, the more I meet people, the more convinced I am that we must only work on ourselves, to grow in grace.

The only thing we can do about people is to love them.

I only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.

We cannot love God unless we… Read More