Enter the Slave Garden

photo by Tulay Palaz
photo by Tulay Palaz

Living Hope Community Church meets at Ironwood Elementary School, and to enter, you must pass through a small gated courtyard before you reach the doors to the worship space.
Every Sunday we are able to come to our church space, pass through the gates, enter through the door, and participate in the worship service. There are no requirements, no check points, no guards at the door who require you to prove your worthiness to enter. You are not restricted by your age, your gender, your education, your finances or your past. You aren’t stopped because of who your parents are or were. You don’t have to present papers, or pay to enter. You are welcomed in freely.
But what if that weren’t the case? What if you showed up and there were chains on the gate? What if, suddenly, you were made to enter though a side door, and wait for the chance that you might (or might not) be allowed to enter? What if someone or something owned you, and you weren’t free to worship how or where or when you wanted, because the one who owned you had forbidden it?

Continue reading “Enter the Slave Garden”

What happened to Hospitality?

Perhaps this has always been the case, and I just missed it by years of attending the same church, but I can’t help to feel that the church has all but abandoned the concept of hospitality. In the last couple of years, as I moved to a new city, completed grad-school, and relocated (again), I have had the opportunity to visit many churches.  The most overwhelmingly common characteristic of the seven churches I’ve attended in the last three years? A cold, unwelcome, or insincere feeling.

Continue reading “What happened to Hospitality?”

Letting Go of Holding On

I’ve been all but paralyzed all day. There is plenty to do, and I’ve been so stuck that by this time I am not confident that I can pull off the few pressing things that really need to be done right away.

The thing is, that I’ve been putting more hope than I’ve realized into things that are beyond my control.

No, not quite faith exactly.  Just that I suddenly realize that I have been counting on assumptions that I’ve made, and that others have made around me and my family.  And those assumptions have been boiling to the surface lately to bite us.   Continue reading “Letting Go of Holding On”

Some thoughts

Sitting in our morning lecture, and I have a whole train of thoughts competing with, and in response to, what Todd Johnson has to share this morning.
I got to thinking about what kind of theatre I might want to do and I returned again to the idea of shows with questions, ideas and topics that stir people up into conversation and even to action.  Seeing theatre as a potential catalyst for the community, for the church. And then I heard the naysayer in my head.  “Bleeding heart” Continue reading “Some thoughts”

it’s not About Me, at least not entirely

I started this blog a couple of years ago because I would go to a Bible study, or read a book or a devotional, and have some kind of interesting thought or even a revelation about God, or faith, or living as a Christian. I would go home to my empty house and want to tell someone about it, but I lived alone.

Eventually the thought occurred to me to try to write those things out, and even to post them on a blog. But, I didn’t really tell anyone about it. And while you’re scratching your head, wondering how blogging to no one is different than talking to myself as I stand over the kitchen sink eating my dinner, I’ll tell you that it is pretty much the same. And really different.

Writing these things out helped me solidify what would have otherwise been fleeting ideas and revelations. I’ve learned from the process; and I think that is evident in the writing to anyone who’s daring enough to sift through this blog’s history.

The point never was to make myself out to be an authority on Christianity. I am neither a dead English apologist, nor a perky blond Texan. This is just me, trying to figure a thing or two out; which may or may not be helpful or interesting to those who happen to wander onto this site.   While I think some of my older posts may have a tone that comes off like I know something that you need to know too, that was never my attitude nor perspective.  Hopefully my tone is more genuine these days.

What you can expect to see from here on out is more of the things that I learn, the things I discover, and the things that interest or even excite me. The occasional video, or image should be expected.  You may even see that the posts become more and more broad, and more loosely related to one another.  That’s because I’m learning about God in a whole bunch of different ways, some of them more subtle than others.

What you can expect not to see here are posts about my knitting club, my love for cats or videos of my children.  Not that those things don’t make great blogs, but none of them are applicable to my life.  So you may or may not get to know me better.  But I don’t feel like that’s the point of this blog, anyway.  It’s why I never did the obligatory ‘About Me’ post, so common on blogger.

Look UP


Before I left Idaho I would frequently look up and catch sight of an osprey, or from time to time and eagle, and think to myself “here’s one way I will miss Idaho. Surely I won’t be able to look up and see birds of prey in the sky above LA.”

As I became aware of this thought, I started purposefully looking to the sky to see if I might catch a glimpse of something large and majestic in flight. The more I looked, the more I saw. I looked for sentimental or even spiritual significance that could be attached to these sightings, and thought of a few. I cherished each sighting as a treasured parting sight of my home, as an encouragement from God, and as a reminder of promise.

When I drove out of Idaho, I chose to ride the first shift alone (with three of us traveling in 2 vehicles, there was always someone alone) because I was sure I’d probably get a little emotional. I thought about the goodbyes left unsaid, the relationships I’ve nurtured and the ones I’ve neglected. I chased the promise that the discomfort of change makes room for the fulfillment of God’s bigger plans. And as I drove the lonely stretch between Boise and Mountain Home I saw what I believed would be my last bird of prey.

I’ve been in California three weeks now. My birds were in Idaho, and I am not, so I stopped looking up.

For a while.

But something caught my eye not too long ago. Just as I was leaving the Santa Monica beach, I looked up, and there it was. The largest bird I had ever seen in flight (I am pretty sure I was a condor, based on the markings. I had to look it up). At first, I thought it was a small plane, but as I continued to stare, it happened: wings flapped, and I knew it was a very large bird, much closer than the distant plane I had taken it for.

Today, as part of a class requirement, I spent about three hours alone with God in silence at a beautiful convent. I spent most of the time just listening, and abiding. And I just happened to look up. Circling the convent as if simply waiting for me to notice, was a golden eagle. It circled a few times overhead and then, making a few large grand passes, it flew away.

I mention all of this only to point out that I had no expectation to see such majestic birds once I was in the middle of such a big, busy city. But my experience continues to defy expectations, and I will remember, and continue to look up.

the dreaded loneliness post. (confession #2)

Here it is, the one you may have been waiting to see, and hoping not to see all at the same time:

the dreaded loneliness post.

If you were expecting it to be different, you’ve never done this before. You’ve never left your whole tribe–left your Haran and gone out ‘to the place you will be shown’ (see Genesis 11:27-12:1). Perhaps you’ve never known the feeling of being hundreds of miles away from anyone who’s known you for more than a few hours. The catch in your throat as you drive away from just about everything you’ve invested your life in. The piercing feeling that attacks your heart and your stomach simultaneously as you see your friends drive away to return to the home that isn’t exactly yours anymore. It may be possible that you’ve never had to pep-talk yourself before walking into a new place all alone and hope to God that someone talks to you.

Yeah. Maybe you didn’t know it would be this way.

And, I can’t say you’re the lucky one.

Maybe you did. Maybe you know that living a daring life has costs. Maybe you understand that to live passionately for your God means the choices sometimes hurt a little. Maybe you know. Maybe you know better than I do.

I heard tonight that LA is the second largest city in the country. Although I didn’t know this before, it didn’t surprise me. I’ve made the good team effort to deny my impulses to hide in my room, waiting for classes to start. I’ve accepted the invitations to attend parties where I know no one. To visit homes of strangers. To find comfort in the becoming-familiar faces of people who don’t even know my name. And to hear that statistic tonight made me feel even smaller than I already did.

Yes. Every fun and exciting thing I’ve posted so far has been thoroughly true. I’m not putting on a brave face for anyone back home; and this post proves it. But this rounds out the story, because it would be a lie to tell you anything else. I’m not going to tell you I’m homesick, it’s not true. I’m not going to tell you I’m not terribly excited to be here, it’s not true (yes, a double negative). I’m telling you that I find it so thrilling to see the sun rising over my palm tree knowing that God put me here, and I still don’t really know why.

Since I’ve left Boise

-I’ve met my first surfer-scholar (imagine both cliche’s smashing into each other)

-the Target store here has its own parking garage, and a man who patrols said garage on a segue. It has decals of shields and badges, and is meant to look official and intimidating, but the effect somehow isn’t.

-the best way to park in Vegas is valet. Anywhere else I’ve been, the valet is only for people interested in dropping an extra twenty bucks for parking, but Vegas says it isn’t so. Pay what you want valet service saves the day!

-Pasadena isn’t humid (this I already knew) but it feels humid to a girl from the high desert of Idaho; at least for a few days. But now I’ve also brought the Idaho heat with me, so today we’re expecting a high of 101. ugh.

-feeling confident about the LA freeway system doesn’t mean you won’t still get tense. Especially when the person in the passenger seat yells as a joke.

-speaking of the freeway, a gps is a lifesaver. But you should still have an idea where you’re going. It’s not cool when you’re navigational brain stops telling you what to do while it’s “searching for signal” since the last tunnel you went through. Plus if you miss your exit, you’re out of luck for several more exits, as you pass by alternate route after alternate route as it recalculates multiple times.

Bible Study Begins Tonight!

Tonight we kick off our 10 week study of Esther, ala Beth Moore. I am excited, because I think we’ll have a fun and unique group. I’m also excited because this is, hands down, my favorite Old Testament book. Why? Not because our protagonist is a woman (although that is refresing). Esther is written without direct reference to God–he’s never mentioned by name, and is never mentioned as having specifically intervened any way throughout Ester’s story. In fact, this has brought the book under scrutiny in the past, with some historical critics claiming that it shouldn’t be considered part of the Bible. But I think that the subtlety of God’s presence throughout the book is it’s brilliance.

How often do you hear a narrator, like Harold Crick, over your life story saying “and then God did this…”? How often do you literally wrestle with angles, encounter burning bushes or see Jesus walk through the wall of your living room? Esther’s story reads a lot like how we experince daily life. God’s hands are all over it, there’s no doubt, but the book is devoid of the dramatic biblical devices that we equate with God’s involvement yet hardly encounter in our own lives. I think sometimes when we read stories in the Bible recounting the unbelieveable, we do actually find them unbelieveable. Our familiarity with these stories allows us to categorize them with fairy tales we were told as children. It’s not that we don’t believe God parted the Red Sea, we just don’t think that’s the same God we encounter today.

Well folks, it is. And Esther’s story–a story that happens right in the middle of a whole lot of unbelievable activity–that reminds us that God is present in our life too; even if we can’t hear a narrator tell us so.