I’m not a Pacifist (though I used to be.)



“My faceless neighbor spoke up:

“Don’t be deluded. Hitler has made it clear that he will annihilate all Jews before the clock strikes twelve.”

I exploded:

“What do you care what he said? Would you want us to consider him a prophet?
His cold eyes stared at me. At last he said, wearily:

“I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.” – Ellie Wiesel, Night


She slowly put down her glass of merlot on the white tablecloth and looked up at me. I didn’t mean my question to provoke such an intense, emotional response, but then again, a part of me did. A part of me wanted to know about this highly charged place in her past. I wasn’t sure if she would burst into tears or flip the table over.


It was the late nineties. She was a too-young expectant mother rushed outside her parents house, sobbing. She was pleading to stay, or, for them to come with her. Her mother looked at her, tear streaked and sober. It was an impossible situation. They just couldn’t bear to leave their home. And they also couldn’t let their daughter and one-day granddaughter stay. Heartbroken, she got in her car and drove, mopping her eyes as she went, savoring the sight of them in the mirror as they faded out in a swirl of dust.


“I got to Amsterdam with no money.” She said, hoarsely, hardly able to continue the story. “I was young and pregnant and broke. I had no idea what to do. Just a pregnant girl walking around in a world that didn’t speak my language”


Her parents made it. But many families didn’t, not in the late nineties in Kosovo.


At my heart, in my idealized version of myself- I am a pacifist through and through… but in reality, I’m not. True, I will knock on congressional doors for gun control, march at the front of the parade for peace and I will annoyingly drop into escalating conversations, “watch your tone, now. Let’s be civil…”

But I’m thinking about Syria now.

I’m not a pacifist. Though I once was-passionately- against all things violent, I found that I couldn’t live it completely. I couldn’t say that, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t’ve defended the Kosovars.

I want peace, but I also want to be rational, smart, calculating, not holding so sternly to ideology, my principles, when there is so much slaughter.

None of this is easy.

You can reduce violent action as “thoughtless revenge” or “two wrongs don’t make a right”, but that’s insultingly simplistic. On the other hand, you can justify violent action through talks of “just war” and simply “defending the vulnerable”, when- as we’ve seen in Iraq, it can leave a half a million of those we were trying to save, dead.


Not every moral dilemma is an all or nothing decision. As a pacifist, I used to stutter my way through strange, unrealistic, answers of how I would handle an intruder trying to harm my family. Usually, it would sound like, “I’d subdue them, not harm”, which sent every brow in the room to a full arch. Inside, I knew my pacifism was cracked and falling apart. I knew I would defend my family with whatever I could.


I don’t believe God wishes us to be fundamentalists and pacifism is a form of fundamentalism. It is easy, I think, to join with popular opinion and holler about how the United States isn’t the “world police.” It isn’t easy, however, to face the morally hazardous future of our action or inaction. We are responsible for our actions and our inaction.


Kosovo isn’t a perfect analogy to Syria. They are two different regions and, likely, the strike on Syria would be much less intense than the boots-on-the-ground strategy of Kosovo. We would be going in without the support of NATO and committed to a short-term close-ended operation. Yes, it is different.

But it is also an example where had we done nothing, an entire group of people would’ve been wiped off the face of the earth.
If i hear you say, “look at Iraq!”, I will tell you to listen to my friends in Kosovo, their mothers and fathers were killed because we waited too long. I will tell you about my friends in Kosovo who’s children have been able to grow up in a free country because the US protected their village. I will tell you how on 9/11, a hundred Kosovars lined up outside the American Embassy asking to sign up for the US military because when the sword was at their throat, the US intervened.


I will remind you of how we’ve mourned over our inaction in Rwanda and Cambodia and Darfur and Burundi. I will remind you of Pol Pot and Jean Kambanda and al-Bashir and the blood that drops from their hands.


I will ask you what it means to promise to protect humanity from weaponry that makes skin slip off bone and then, do nothing to stop it. I will ask you what it means for the future, when we did nothing while thousands were gassed into the most excruciating sadistic kind of death, what is to stop the next power hungry leader? We said we’d intervene if they chose this kind of evil. We promised.


All of this is to say- it isn’t simple and I wanted to wake you up to that. Could military action in Syria be morally wrong? Take innocent lives? Draw us further into this war? Yes, and that terrifies me.

But I think we also have to be aware that there are real implications to our lack of military action. Pacifism, I know, is not tantamount to inaction. Pacifism is very, very active in efforts to engage without violence. I guess, my question is, is nonviolent action rational? Is nonviolent action enough?


On “Mr. Jones” and Intentional Listening

Giant Homeless Man Passing Through Community


At first, he just wanted someone to help him with his phone.


My friends and I were walking downtown Alexandria the other night and out of nowhere, this old guy, we’ll call him “Mr. Jones”, latched onto the arm of my buddy. He held out his phone bewilderedly and asked, “Can you help me figure out this fuckin’ thing?” Being a good guy, my friend instructed him on how to “unlock” his phone, how to dial his voicemail, which was apparently filled with messages from his worried wife.


In what we thought was a case closed, the man paused, asked if we knew where he could get some ice cream. It was ten o’ clock at night. The ice cream store would undoubtedly be closed. And, frankly, it was far past the bed time of this 75 year old vagrant. We pointed out that there was one several blocks away and, if he liked, we would walk with him until we got to the bar we were going to. His eyes electrified as he smiled and nodded and began walking between my friend and I, hands clutching each of our shoulders.


Right off the bat, I knew I didn’t care for this character. First, he said he would stay out eating all the ice cream he wants because “you only live once and my wife’s a bitch.” Then, in a conspiratorial voice he whispered, looking back forth at each of us, “can I tell you about my campaign? I’m taking back America.” At this point, I went dark. Stayed silent as my friend accidentally admitted he works for Veterans Affairs and the guy started yelling at him about how his Vet friends weren’t getting their benefits and how he couldn’t possibly know what it was like to put your life on the line.


“I also served in the military,” my friend, a vet, replied.


This didn’t seem to make much of a difference and for about four block, the guy raged about how it was my friends fault that California was broke and the world was going to hell and yada yada. When we reached the bar, the guy followed us in.


He ended up buying us a round of drinks at the bar. We sat around the table, making wisecracks, imagining that there was no wife back at the hotel. Perhaps there was some nursing home search party peeling down every ally in town, looking for their beloved Mr. Jones. From afar, we watched as he harassed the fellows sitting quietly on their bar stools, trying to drown out this eccentric stranger, and we laughed and secretly hoped the drinks would come and he would move on to some other group.


What happened next, well, it sort of surprised us all.


After ten minutes or so of ranting at our table, someone brought up his wife again, like, where was she and would he call her since it was, at this point, 11 o’ clock.


He looked down at the coffee he had ordered. He looked up and stared out. He told us his story.


They got married in their twenties and somewhere in the early years, he began sleeping around. Having had enough of this, his wife kicked him out, told him she wanted separation, like, half a country separation. A job called him to Chicago and she stayed in New Jersey, and for a few years, he was lost. His children hated him, his daughter, he said, still does. And in an act of desperation, he asked her to meet him halfway. To drive to Ohio so he could see her once more. He said he missed her. When they met at a rest stop, he said to her, “if I could do it over, I would be better. If I could have another chance, I will love you the way you’ve always deserved to be loved.”


Peering over at my friend and his wife, he said, “don’t let her go. Treat her right. You’ll regret it forever.”


Then he was gone. He gathered his things, paid the bill, and left, smiling at us all, waving at us the whole way to the exit.


Mr. Jones had lived a life like the rest of us. It was one filled with immaturity, despicable betrayals, and meeting his love in the middle, on a nothing-left-to-lose gamble. He was incredibly human, despite all of his show. His story was weakness and adventure, all criss-crossed with light and dark.


Even though his wife took him back on that fateful day, his life remains fractured. Let’s not forget, his daughter still hates him for what he did to her mom and, let’s not forget, he called his wife a bitch and is selling some kind of racist political message to millennials on sidewalks at the 10 o’ clock at night, his wife lying awake dialing his cell phone worried sick over him, tracing her mind over all the nights he never came home. He is still a work in progress and he’s still sort of terrible. But he’s not all terrible.


Here in DC, no one talks to one another on the metro. Ears are plugged with music and faces fixed on screens, scrolling up and down thoughtlessly until the chime of their stop. At restaurants, just look around and you’ll see silent meals with every man, woman and child holding some device below their eyes. I’m reminded, often, of the groundbreaking book on the technological age, Alone Together, in which Sherry Turkle talks about walking into a cafe, look around at everyone staring off into their laptop screens. All of them in their own universe. She notes,

“I don’t know any of them, but I miss them somehow.”

And I sort of miss us too. We are the most connected generation of all time, but maybe we’re the least intimate. We have social media and our blogs and often, we find one another in extraordinary, deep, profound ways. But, just as often, we freeze ourselves, freeze others against the wall of the web. We don’t get past the brand, as Rachel Held Evans calls it. We make one another into either villain or martyr and none of it is all true.


I’m incredibly guilty of non-communication. Be it with strangers over the web or close personal friends, no matter the medium. My inbox is sky-high with “how are you doings?” and “did you hear about this?” and some, just simply, “I miss you.” And even then, it’s too much for me to connect. I get lulled into the position of control over my “networks” instead of sitting through stories of my friends. And I worry that this infects us, steps out with us into the night when we meet lonely elderly men and freeze them. Keep them at arms length. Figure them out in a few slips of speech.


And we had proximity to Mr. Jones. We walked with him, sat with him, listened to his rants about the VA and the government in general and it still took a half an hour for us to unearth his humanity. For us to see that he was more than just some old wack-job-conservative-fart. That he had a story and it matters. That all he really wanted, was to be heard. To be received. To be understood. That he came from a generation where this kind of talk was normal and he was living in a world where he couldn’t figure out how to unlock his phone. He had a story but no way to connect. No way to tell it.


Mr. Jones taught me what it meant to intentionally listen. To not freeze him in my own prejudice and first impression and to hunker down and actually listen, even thought it took time to get there.


Intentionally listening to one another’s stories requires that we meet when on the other’s terms. It means that if you have something to tell me- then tell me in the way you feel most comfortable. If that’s email. Email. If that’s phone call. Call. I cannot know you beyond your avatar, beyond your first impression, until you tell me. Until you draw me in to your reality and let it effect me. When it effects me, there is empathy, there is relationship and in the end, that’s where we’ll find true connection. The very thing we long for.


“Very interesting,” one of the girls noted after Mr. Jones left. Returning to our drinks, we “hmmed” and squinted. Occasionally, we’d laugh over a ludicrous thing he had said, but less cruelly, slowing down significantly. We knew too much, we saw more of the picture, and we couldn’t unsee it.



LGBTQs are people and christians and like to blog



So, there was this list.


Christian Piatt decided that instead of picking the 25 Christian blogs everyone should read, he would put it up to a vote (Piatt, to his credit, regretted doing so). Personally, I’ve had no problem with the process of the list. Actually, I think it was good that it happened as it highlight the lack of diversity of readership by the white progressive audience that follows Christian Piatt.


On the other hand, it is just a blog. Just a list. Sort of fun. And I’ll admit, I was even up there rooting for my own to get into the top 25 but, sigh. It did not. I understand the injustice of it and was also a bit annoyed at the list’s Straight White uniformity (w/ the exception of Christena Cleveland)


Speaking of which, Christena Cleveland noted that she was the only person of color represented on the list and announced that she would make her own list, one that included 25 bloggers written by people of color that everyone should read. Now, I must say. I really, really like Christena. I have what you might call a “blog crush” on her. When she publishes, I read, because I believe in what she is doing and I am so, so happy that her words are having such an effect.


This admiration, however, may have been part of the reason I was so very disappointed with what she posted the next day. The list includes phenomenal voices (one my former pastor and current hero), but, sadly, she also included a voice that I would argue should not be read. A voice that I would argue has all-but set fire to whatever credibility he previously had.


Thabiti Anyabwile wrote a piece that chimed with the rhetoric of ethnic cleansers. I won’t dive into it, but it had to do with gay sex, a gag-reflex, and how nausea is somehow the way the Holy Spirit is telling us its wrong. He told Christians that this is the way they should fight against gay marriage, by telling people how grossed out they are by gay people. Literally. He called on Christians to bully gays. Let that sink in.


In any case, after a bit of twitter rage on my part yesterday, a couple followers suggested I, y’know, be proactive and put together a list myself! As much as I hate the way this looks so tit-for-tat, I think it’s so terribly important to have. LGBT Christians are often not considered legitimate Christians, even by some stragglers in progressive circles. It’s tragic and frustrating and needs to be addressed.


So here you go. 25 Christian LGBTQ voices I read and you should too. 

1. Justin Lee

Justin Lee wrote what many have called “THE must read” book for those trying to understand the culture war raging on inside the church. The stories he presents from his experiences in ex gay therapy, Christian college, and his life in the last several years reaffirm his belief that our “stories are more powerful than our arguments.” You see the devoted man of faith more than the gay Christian man. He transcends it all, and provides the most detailed and important way forward. His blog is required reading.


2. Kimberly Knight

Kimberly Knight is so fantastic. Easily one of my favorite bloggers. She writes about her life as a lesbian, chaplain, mother, and isn’t afraid to drop some commentary on current controversial events. Her handling of the Thabiti article was the epitome of grace.


3. Nathan Kennedy

I met Nathan over twitter and have had the chance to speak with him beyond social media circles. Much of what I’ve learned about living authentically has come from his blog. I owe him a great debt.


4. Brent Bailey

Brent’s a friend of mine and I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s going to change the world someday. There aren’t many that can write on tough topics with such thoughtful, encouraging, and non-inflammatory words. For a long time, I’ve considered him a leading voice amongst our generation of gay Christians, and he really is.


5. Wesley Hill

Wesley wrote a pivotal book called “Washed and Waiting”. The book is part-memoir, part-theological treatise in which he discusses celibacy as a vocational calling for gay Christians. It’s a worthy read (in fact, just the other day, spotted my mom walking off with it to the lake to read on her kayak, again.) While I often disagree with Wesley, there is no doubt that he is a brilliant and intriguing writer. I am wary to ever venture into Biblical arguments with his posts because, honestly, he knows the Bible better than most. No question, he is another must read.


6. Matt Jones

If you want a laugh, read some of Matt (that’s not an insult.) I wish I could write with his sense of humor, but also, with his eloquence. He is a story teller and he doesn’t shy away from the emotional, deep-pain ones that need to see the light of day. The ones that need to meet those who are trying to understand.


7. Soulforce

Soulforce, founded by Mel White, works to end religious and political oppression of LGBTQ people. A sort of mainstay in the discussion.


8. Shannon (Shay) T.L. Kearns

I don’t know if I’ve ever admitted this, but I am ignorant to Trans issues. Sometimes, after the fact, I feel a pang of guilt when I use “LGBT” instead of “gay community” because most of the time, I’m not discussing things directly related to the Transgender community. This blog is a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about what it means to be Transgender. Kearns has an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary and is a Priest in the Old Catholic Diocese of New Jersey.


9. T. F. Charlton of Are Women Human?

AWH? Seeks to create a safe space where those who have been marginalized by the evangelical community can share their stories and be a voice for equality and justice in the church. This blog is a pillar of much of the conversations occurring today and a non-negotiable read.


10. Stephen at Sacred Tension

Stephen is relatively new on the scene and has been on a bit of a roll lately. This one, on celibacy and the traditional sexual ethic, went viral and gave everyone a much needed, often ignored, look at the realities associated with pressuring celibacy on gay Christians. Without a doubt, a writer to watch.


11. HB Allaman

I smiled when I wrote down HB’s name on this list, because she became an early friend of mine here and has managed to be an encourager, one of solidarity, and one that tempers, well, my temper. Her story is so compelling and her perspective, so fresh.


12. Eve Tushnet

I’m new to following Eve Tushnet and, again, while I cringe at posts about why she will not go to churches that approve of gay marriage, she has a story and she knows what she’s talking about. I like her style as a writer and her consistency in her arguments.


13. David of Gay Christian, Very Anxious

So there was a time, when I was just beginning to blog, and I got overly-excited about being on Slacktivist Fred’s Christian Quiltblog list. As I was perusing through the list I came across the blog titled “Gay Christian, Very Anxious” and after clicking on it, I saw his subtitle, “I’m most uncomfortable discussing the most intimate parts of my identity: faith and sexuality. So I decided to write about them.” David is a natural. His writing is incredibly well done, and his stories gut-wrenchingly honest. He’s one of my favorites here.


14. Brandon Ambrosino

Another blog I’ve picked up in the past year is by Brandon Ambrosino. Much of his work has been published on either the huffington post or the Atlantic and I doubt you didn’t read his piece on being gay at Jerry Falwell’s university. That article alone merits a follow.


15. Gregg Webb

Like Nathan, I’ve gotten the chance to talk with Gregg beyond the feed of twitter and in many instances, he has been just the friend I need to hear me out. He writes from the perspective of an Eastern Orthodox Christian and as one who lives in the tension with his Side A friends.


16. Kevin Shoop

Kevin’s someone you want in your corner. As Emily Maynard, Stephanie Drury and others can attest, the guy is the genuine article. I’ve appreciated reading his work because I know his story and in a very small way, I can relate to how hard it is to re-enter the church after such profound hurt.


17. Three Dollars Worth of God

I’ve had the pleasure of dialoging with this blogger over email and currently, she is discussing her coming out process. These are the rare moments that I think privileged people can learn the most from. The fear that shouldn’t be.


18. Dr. Trista Carr

I love Dr. Carr.

There, I said it.


Having had the pleasure of spending Pride weekend with her, I feel fully confident in telling you that she is fantastic. This is always good to know when you read a blog that is incredibly beautiful and intelligent and you wonder, “is she always this great?” Yes., yes she is.


19. Julie Rodgers

You know how sometimes you think you know what someone’s All About after a few fleeting moments? That’s what I thought about former Exodus member, Julie Rodgers after seeing her on Lisa Ling’s special. After reluctantly reading her blog, I walked away moved, encouraged, and challenged. You will too.


20. Voiceless Magazine

This online magazine tells the story of Gay Christians at Abiline University in Texas. Incredible. Beautiful. Important.


21. Whosoever Magazine

Whosoever Magazine exists to create a space for LGBT Christians, wounded by the church, to rekindle their relationship with Jesus. It’s quiet beautiful when you think about it. A carefully constructed medium disarming shame and allowing you to explore with peace.


22. Believe Out Loud

Believe Out Loud empowers Christians to work for LGBT equality. On their site, they include a list of affirming denominations which, as I’ve found, is incredibly important.


23. Love is an Orientation

Andrew Marin, while not gay himself, authors this blog- except, most of the time, he doesn’t. What he does is clear a space for both Side A and Side B gay Christians to tell their stories. I’ve been honored to be a monthly contributor to that blog.


24. Charlotte Norton

Another great blog that I found early on. Charlotte is from the UK and has special insight into what it’s like being a lesbian in the church. Her story is one of many,  but she manages to articulate oh so eloquently and personally.


25. Michael Overman

I kid you not, I was standing on the sidewalk at the Pride Parade in Chicago and out of nowhere, this guy, came to the rail and hugged me. He recognized me from our correspondence of when he was interning with the Marin Foundation. Ever since I became aware of his blog, I’ve been a big fan.


If you’re looking for information, be sure to check out my LGBT Resources Page



Of course, this only a start, and not perfect and only the blogs I’ve been exposed to. If you have suggestions of new ones, feel offended by any on the list, or just want to say HEY. Join the conversation below.

Why I’m Writing Less


Woman with her head in the clouds



There was a time when I was much more of a political activist.


I aimlessly watched too much media that fit neatly inside my narratives. I incited arguments out of nowhere in the middle of what were otherwise friendly conversations. I graduated with a BA in Political Science. And I lost some friends.


Much of this, I know, was born in me. And it’s beautiful. As a small child, my eyes darted back and forth below the adult conversations about how to heal the darkening world. I was enthralled by the heated passions of opposing perspectives over Thanksgiving dinners, me constantly switching sides by rhetoric’s persuasion.


I experienced injustices close up. Ones that, for many, were just things they saw in the papers. My house functioned as a temporary foster home. The realities of our broken system became real in the lice infested hair of two-year old babies with cigarette burns up and down their arms. It became real in the stories of a ten-year-old and a bedroom being the backseat of a car. It became personal when one almost-adoption fell apart at the very last second. Long after we had fallen in love with her.


And I got angry in a good way. At ten, I threw pajama fundraisers at my church for displaced children who normally received unwashed, smelly, a dozen-bodies-already-worn-in PJs. I marched up the capital steps at the very front of the pack, holding a sign that screamed for more protection for abused and neglected children. Later in life, I would go to International Justice Mission galas with my mom and watch as the wealthy unzipped their pocketbooks to help a young girl rescued from sex-trafficking and an entire family escaping from enslavement. At my Christian college, I stood up in class. I ripped apart every conservative persuasion presented, even the ones gently delivered. I thought myself a martyr for being so different.


But the whole beautiful passion- my ache for a world renewed- took an unnoticed turn and became something else entirely. The political obsession, I came to understand, was a way in which I dealt with my own shame. My own fear of who I was. The nausea of being gay inside evangelical circles, the unceasing terror of hell, and things that could only be expressed by the tears in my pillow.


So, instead- to deal, I got political. Got feisty. Turned my justice-driven passion into something that had nothing to do with justice or public policy. Something once beautiful distorted into distraction. It gave me things outside of myself to zero in on, sink me teeth into and exhaust all of my anger against. And it was not political or justice or even principle, it was coping. It was pushed by my own shame.


What I’ve come to realize lately is that there are healthy and unhealthy fixations we fall into and it’s complicated, because it depends on the circumstance and the time it consumes. There are seasons when these things are exactly what we need. For instance, even prior to coming out, I drifted away from my mono-political obsession into a deep passion with painting. I splashed together some pieces that astonished even me, I smirked at others that I completely bombed out into brown mushiness. At my college house, I went so far as to establish a wall of bad work. My love for the craft was not determined by my success but simply my delight in experiencing it. I learned so much about who I was in that time, but even more sweet, I went weak at the knees dreaming about the God Artist. The Great One who also paints and sculpts and laughs and cries just out of delight for the craft.


Since coming out, my need has been my writing. The blog has been an outlet, a fixation, and actually, a complete indictment of my once critical eye towards “online communities.” What I thought was a solitary activity has morphed into an all hours communal gathering. So many fascinating, challenging, sad and happy stories are met in this sacred ground. I’ve built deep and meaningful relationships with people far past the tweets and comments and shares. Ones that understand me and ones that don’t, but are trying to. Friends that call me when they see me storming out tweets about the Gospel Coalition, just to check in and make sure I’m alright. Friends that really, truly care, even if we are miles apart. We’ve talked over the phone, done some Google Chatting, and just the other night, the wonderful Hannah and I grabbed drinks at the California Pizza Kitchen up near Shady Grove. Over whiskey and gin and tonics, we choked out our stories, bit by bit and it wasn’t even weird. It was surprisingly familiar. Normal.


As I am now living in DC and a full-time job searcher, it breaks my heart a little that I haven’t been able to write regularly. The hours of polishing my paragraphs, finding that word that fits just right, suddenly striking ground in moments of self-discovering- it all matters to me. It is very important.


But I am also a full-time job searcher now, and in light of the current circumstances and in light of my bank account figures, writing anything other than cover letters isn’t the most productive use of my time.


And honestly, I think the step away is important.

Actually, it is vital.


The craft, the words, the connections and, yes, I’ll admit it, the traffic- all of it matters. All of it is rooted in a deep and sacred place in my heart. And I don’t want to ruin it. I don’t want to abuse it.


I’ve only been here less than a week and I am already stressed about no offers. I am already worrying about next month’s loan payment and fretting over how I just know I will blow that one big break into an interview. I am already resorting to my manic-future-obsessed nightmares about living beneath a bridge or surviving paycheck to paycheck or worse, residing in my parents’ basement (just kidding, guys) for the rest of my days.


And so my natural tendency is to take to blogging, like, all the time. To hit up posts of friends, wade into someone words that give me all the good feelings, and then airstrike every ugly, shitty piece of work that infects this space with distorted gospel. All of it keeps me away from the stress. All of it devours my time quicker than I know.


Recently, the shame has imperceptibly threaded its way through the desperate hours in front of screen as I scan through jobs I am not qualified for and type out letters that aren’t very good. Thankfully, through growth and therapy, I know how to handle this. I’m surveying the ground, detecting the foreign invaders, and drone-striking them to hell. I’m praying over it, again and again, and whispering calmly that it will all be okay. Remembering that there is anxiety disorder and then there is reality and I am allowed to choose which world I will live in.


And part of that process requires, however painfully, a reminder of my tendency toward distraction. How quickly I can throw in the towel by stepping away from my responsibilities and immersing myself into those natural mediums that keep me stimulated and dreamy and a degree removed from reality. Stepping into the same coping mechanism that took things I loved, like politics and painting, and distorted them into something that made life easy and ignorable.


All this is to say- I’m going to keep writing because I love it. Oh how I do. But there will be less posts. Less interactions. More distance between me and the medium until I find a steady salary that I can eat, drink, and rent on.


Also, I’d like you to know that the arms of my email are wide, WIDE open if you care to contribute a guest post (email: registeredrunaway1@gmail.com). Holli Carey Long recently joined the Love Letters series and if that is something that interests you, I would be ecstatic if you sent me an email. Other than that, I am open to all other topics! Doesn’t have to be about the lgbt community. Doesn’t even have to be about the Christian Community! Whatever suits, whatever is driving your passion right now, hit me up. I would gladly present your work on this site.


As for now, one thing you can do is pray for me to find work. If you have connections, connect me. Or, simply, I would love to hear some advice about surviving the job hunt below. Or, if you also struggle with distraction as an avoidance of shame, tell me your story on how you handle it. How do you strike that balance of continuing to do the things you love without distorting them into something else?


My love to you all,



A Mother’s Gratitude- A Love Letter from Holli Carey Long


Holli and I have had each other’s backs for a few months now. I can’t exactly remember how we came to be friends, but suddenly, there we were, deeply meshed into each other’s communities, only after a few brief interactions! Anyone who has come across her on twitter or her blog will know she is one of the sweetest, most genuine voices out there. I love how, on her About page, she describes herself as “a Mom.  A Wife.  An Educator.  A Christian.  And an Ally. (And yes, those last two are purposely juxtaposed.)” Holli is passionate about loving her LGBT brothers and sisters and it has been a great privilege to engage with her and receive her support when the internet bloodies up my nose.


She’s fantastic, is what I’m trying to say. She sent me this letter this morning after the ugliness of TGC’s article, which I won’t link to because I have a feeling they’re loving the traffic. In any case, I need to share it.

You, gay one, need to hear this. You need to drink it in, print it out, put it in your pocket and known that it is True. Know that you are loved. 



Thank you.


If I could sum up my feelings towards you, the courageous voices of the LGBT community – you who are my brothers and my sisters in Christ – it would be with these two words.


Thank you.


There are other words I might choose that weigh equally on my heart:

You are precious.

You are loved.                                                                                 

You are worthy.  

Your story matters.


But in this current stage of my life, I cannot help but feel an overwhelming gratitude for you.  For your voices.  For your stories.

You see, I am a mother.  I have two little boys.  Twins, actually.  And they are just two years old and only beginning to emerge as the unique individuals God created them to be.  Much of who they are remains to be uncovered in a story we are eager to read, but we see these glimpses, these miniature previews, each day {each moment} of two amazing souls.  Precious, loved, and worthy.


So, to be completely honest with you, my gratitude is selfish.


My gratitude is selfish because, when I see you hurt, I see my own children hurting.   When I read your words and hear your voices, I hear in them the future voices of my own grown children.  When I witness the hate and the abuse, I watch as a mother seeing her own child’s heart break in a million pieces, and mine with it.

And I am grateful for this change in perspective that came, for me, with motherhood for it allows me to hear, to listen, better than before.  What was once a nagging whisper has become a deafening roar.   My children, our children, {you} deserve better than what has been endured.

Thank you is not enough, I know.  For there have been far too many lives and souls lost to this battle and for many, this sacrifice has been forced.  Yet, still, I offer my gratitude.


Thank you.


Thank you for bearing so much of this struggle – this cross if you will.  Not the cross of being who I believe God made you to be as a gay, lesbian, transgender or queer individual, but for bearing the burden of having to prove you are worthy.  To those who speak the truth in love but refuse to listen.  To those who claim a privileged status based on birth, genetics, orientation, or interpretation.   To those who preach and preach and preach at you otherwise.


And thank you for doing so with such grace that humanity is taking notice.  Because humanity is taking notice.  I am in debt to you because I believe in the deepest corner of my heart, that my child may never have to face the day when he has to choose between God and the person He created him to be.  And this is because of you.  Because of your story.  Because of your courage.  Because of your faith.


Thank you.

…and, I’m sorry.


I’m sorry it took me until I became a mother.  I’m sorry I couldn’t speak up and out sooner.   I’m sorry for my selfish reasons for trying now to love better.  I’m sorry for my stumbles along the way.  I’m sorry I will never truly know the hurt.


I’m sorry is not enough, I know. Yet, still, I offer my empathy and my word to do better.

For you are loved and precious and worthy and courageous and holy.  And I give thanks for you.


Thank you for being you out loud.  We are listening.


With all the gratitude in this mother’s heart,



Psalm 68- the Lonely (leaders?)

Politician giving speech


May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds[b];
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,[c]
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,[d]
the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
10 Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.

11 The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
12 “Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
13 Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,[e]
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
14 When the Almighty[f] scattered the kings in the land,
it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon.

15 Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
16 why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
where the Lord himself will dwell forever?
17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands
and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.[g]
18 When you ascended on high,
you took many captives;
you received gifts from people,
even from[h] the rebellious—
that you,[i] Lord God, might dwell there.

19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
22 The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan;
I will bring them from the depths of the sea,

23 that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes,
while the tongues of your dogs have their share.”

(this is the creepiest verse I’ve ever read.)


24 Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
25 In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the timbrels.
26 Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.
27 There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them,
there the great throng of Judah’s princes,
and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.

28 Summon your power, God[j];
show us your strength, our God, as you have donebefore.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings will bring you gifts.
30 Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.
Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.
31 Envoys will come from Egypt;
Cush[k] will submit herself to God.

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God!

Psalm 68 (NIV)


This isn’t really a reflection of Psalm 68… it’s a tangent of a fraction of a verse.

I read through this psalm and was taken aback, once again, by the loud imagery and all the violence. I closed it feeling a little queasy and unsure. In my head I was wondering, if I were to be placed in this scene, would God be cracking my skull against a rock? Or would I be cheering him on as he pounced around, ripping off heads like some psycho or rabid beast? Which would I rather be?


Obviously, the Old Testament Freaky God is still not settled for me. I can’t really stomach him nor do I want to.


To me, I still like to think of God as thirsty for justice. That he’s desperately calling us to figure out better, and quicker, ways to alleviate poverty and ensure equality. I don’t particularly care for this bloodthirsty, vengeful God. Slaughtering people, even bad people, doesn’t feel like justice to me. Justice feels like redeeming and restoring, giving hope and saturating hearts with Love. And- oh, now I see you’ve got your hands at your side, rolling your eyes, laughing at me about how God’s justice is different and how I’m just human and too limited and ya, sure, true. But I still think God likes my awkward efforts and struggles. I certainly hope he is pleased that I am horrified at this kind of violence instead of, you know, clapping and jumping in glee as he crushes on in his blood spraying warpath?


If you need me, I’ll be crawling my way over to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s corner for some heart massaging and Jesus healing, because the picture of the Angry Bloodthirsty Bone-Breaking Walter White God scares the living daylights out of me. I just can’t handle it.


I did come across something fascinating, though. It was in a commentary about this psalm. The commenter, James Burton Coffman, appears to believe that he has stumbled on something novel, and who knows, maybe he has! He takes a very short fragment of a verse and makes a stretch, or, draws a perfectly reasonable line of logic, I don’t know, I’m not a Bible Scholar!


He points to Psalm 68:6


God sets the lonely in families,


Coffman says:


When a great diamond is found, it is always surrounded by a number of other large diamonds somewhat smaller; and this phenomenal fact in nature also recurs in God’s creation of great men. Shakespeare was surrounded by men like John Milton, Christopher Marlow and others; George Washington was surrounded by Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and others. Jesus Christ was surrounded by Peter, James and John, John the Baptist, and the Apostle Paul. It is one of the most remarkable facts that, “God setteth the solitary in families”!

Other examples of this same principle is seen in Mount Everest and its surrounding peaks, and in the mighty family of the giant Redwoods of northern California.


(Trigger Warning: God takes a different pronoun.)


If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know I get a little weak at the knees thinking about God the artist. She has her own imagination, her own passion at building and breaking and renewing. I like to think that she’s very earthy. That she’s gathering big scoops of dirt before her and molding out a mountain, spitting out a lake, blowing out the summer breeze. I like to think that she’s taking sticks, jabbing them into clumps of mud and, for her final trick, breathing them to life.


And you have to wonder if, at some point in the middle of it all, she saw her patterns and called them Good. Enjoyed the way everything tangled into one another and grew out like a garden. Loved how the body danced with a thousand small helping hands, making ripples of change across the world.


I also wonder if her heart broke a little, too, as she poured the oil of anointing on the ones she set aside for Greatness. The leaders, presidents and civil rights champions, the CEOs and the Union heads. To be great, after all, can be a terribly lonely place to be. Also, it can be a cramped and crowded room with too many toxic voices, people that will whisper yes to every half-baked stupid idea you have. Little drones, trying to please you by agreeing with everything you say.


We’ve all seen the scandals of our public and cultural leaders. We saw it with Bill Clinton and the cover up of his affair, Alex Rodriguez and his steroid shooting doctors, Martha Stewart and her insider trading… People with power who keep throwing it all away.


And you have to wonder who was there? Did any of A-Rod’s friends step up? Tell him he was risking everything, including the integrity of the game? What about David Petraeus’? Where were his people warning him about the repercussions, about the inevitable resignation as head of the CIA? Where were the encouragers, the challengers, those with a spine and the gall to say NO? 


Where was there home?


This might not be that relevant to the psalm, but maybe it’s important for us to think about. Even personally:

Where is your home?

Who’s keeping you in check?




PS: The whole “anointing” part is more or less me playing along with the argument. Not sure if God actually is still doing that sort of thing, kingmaking and all. But it’s interesting to think about.


Do you have any thoughts about this verse? This psalm? Also, how do you deal with the Angry God? Also, got any opinions on pronouns?




The Psalms Journey community: a group of people writing through the Psalms. All posts are welcome. This is not about reaching some sort of standard. Or having the “correct” perspective on the biblical text.

This is about joining together as a community to rise up and declare the value and beauty and frustration and power of God’s Word.

(For more details, or to grab the button, click on the Psalms Journey page)



for the one staring out at the questions

Boy inside a glass dome gazing out

Like all long journeys, I had my fair share of breakdowns. There were days when I’d be sitting in the middle of a lecture and quietly stand up, gather my things and stroll out the door. Once free, I’d make a break for my car in the parking lot, hold it all in until I couldn’t anymore and then cry- hard into the steering wheel. It was all too much, those questions. Celibacy, Marriage, opinions, hell, judgment, church, loneliness, fear, anxiety, anxiety, anxiety, anxiety.


It’s not easy, gay one, I know. In fact, it is downright complicated and scary. You might feel outside opinions pressing down on you and the old fears of hell licking up at your feet, but if I could tell you one thing- it’s this: God’s love aint’ going anywhere. You are still the same masterpiece, still exquisite, still moving forward from one degree of glory to the next. It might not always feel like this, but it’s true.


And unfortunately, your head will make the mistake of distorting the loving community around you. You might see them swimming like sharks, impatiently waiting on you to choose your life- and at the time- you might think they just want you to choose them. All of Which is way too much- very unfair, and likely, not true at all. Likely, they’re trying to be the ribbon of love you need, giving you all the time and space the world can offer.


And, frankly, some might turn on you and run. They might cut the strings and walk away. Listen to me- that’s on them. Others will adore you, wrap their arms around you and tell you that you did good. Listen to me- Love them right back. Hold them tighter and tighter and never let them go.

And you might think that the answers are just right there. If you would just read that Bible and just hear it’s Truth and just be done with your search- but I’d like to tell you to tap the brakes. I’d ask you to open that book again and tell me how you reconcile all that hope with all that darkness. Or your own experiences, the feelings you feel deep down. Open that book again, exhaust yourself in it. Change along with it.


In the end, after all, you are holding the wild sea of scripture in your hands and it is on you to be curious. It demands your attention and humility and honesty and time. It beckons you into a story, one that eventually will bring you face to face with who you are and who you are not. Choose which one to put on. The created, the loved, or the distant, disaffected. It won’t be easy, but it’s necessary.


Most important, above all, is to know that God is in love with you. Better said: He’s insane with love for you. His patience is longer than your lifetime, which is freeing because sometimes, you’ll need space. On his porch, He’s waiting anxiously, nervously, hopefully. Breaking open, eyes twinkling bright with tears and gratitude as you come dragging your feet back up the dusty road to his house. He is calling out, telling you to accept that you’re accepted and telling you to live in that beautiful reality. The one being offered freely. The kind that you can feel more than you can understand, as is beauty. And the acceptance all has to happen within. It is by far the only thing you really need to do in this life: accept that you’re accepted.


He drapes you in His big kind of bravery, for you’ll need it when you walk into those questions. Make that love, that strength your foundation. Know in your heart that, yes, you’re figuring out your life, but, no, you’re not risking His love. You’re not abusing His grace. There probably is a right way and a wrong way, but if you’re honest and humble in your search, looking for that joy and truth in his promises, there is no way that you can ever come out wrong.


Look at me, gay one. You’re not any less loved if you fall in love with a soul that is in the same gender. If you find, through faith and mind and the message of your own beating heart that this is right, that this is a Holy kind of gift, that God is blessing you (like he would any straight couple), then who cares about the fire-breathing pastors calling you hellbound. Feel pity on them, for their god is shitty.


The God you love is the God that looks at you and still sees Perfect. He still celebrates your life and pats himself cheerfully on the back for the fine work He did. The angels are sick of all his bragging and wallet-album waving.


If you choose the route of singleness, not because it’s your first choice but out of deep conviction, you are not God’s chump. You are not a self-loathing, religious zealot, you are coming to terms with what your heart is telling you, what your values are telling you and you’re taking the hard route because it’s what you believe. And that matters, to me and to God, and you are to be celebrated. Forget the masses telling you that you haven’t accepted yourself. You know who you are. You love yourself and you love God and you know that none of this can be fully understood until we stop in our tracks before the Great King’s throne. Until we get to the other side of heaven.


And to you, still staring out at the questions, shuffling back and forth between Side A and Side B, I want you to know that it will be overwhelming sometimes. Each new insight will suck the air right out of your lungs. The shame will come, like it always does when we grow, and you’re going to have to name it. Say it. Say it out loud. You are loved, you are holy, just as you are and not as you should be. 


You will find yourself surprised by joy and fear and uncertainty all at once. There will be the difficult work of making God’s will your own and then thinking and rethinking what that even means. You’ll fall and rise and run and stumble into some thick brush of anxiety. It’s all okay. It comes different for all of us.


No matter how long it takes, you are in a better place than the closet, than denial, than self-hatred. Move forward in your faith boldly. Put on that Jesus Bravery.


I was once at the frayed end of my rope, choking on questions and all past hope. But a good friend stepped in. A good friend who said,


“Look at me. No matter what you do, who you become, whether you marry or not. His grace. His beautiful, strong grace will always be enough for you. Nothing can separate that kind of love, that kind of endearment.”


Live in that grace, that love, it’s the only light you have in the complicated, glorious questioning. In the end, it’s the one thing you can hold as true. And beautiful.



On Adventure, Stupidity and Faith

Studio Shot of maps


I’m moving. In less than two weeks, I’m moving. Last night I called my boss, gave him my less-than-two-weeks and because he is like a saint, he wished me well and told me he was so excited for me. I’m moving because I am twenty-three years old and back in my childhood days, I used to crave this kind of adventure. I used to dream about seeing the world with all the romantic desperation poured into the tank of my car.


My two months in Kosovo last fall were a brilliant bust. I say brilliant because I spent many late nights drinking cheap booze and huffing down cigarettes with sixty year old Artists and also, alcoholics, living beneath the ghettos of Kosovo. We’d sit beneath the smog-filtered moonlight in that low level industrial park and they’d tell me stories, stories about the beautiful country before the war and the inevitable drinking that came after. I painted with them, showed them pictures of my home, spoke of one day moving into a vacant space in the ghetto and opening up a studio. And then we all collectively laughed, there was no way I could ever plant my American roots in the Balkan world.


During the days, on my lunch breaks, I went to the cafés down the street, all of them family owned and all of them entertained by the way I tried to talk Albanian. The way I tried so hard to blend in when anyone, from a mile away, could catch my Red White and Blue, iPhone-wielding, Machiatto sipping oblivion.


There was also the night when I forgot my credit card in a restaurant that I dined in often, it was situated right beneath my office where I worked. At 9 pm the place was packed and the music was blaring and people were dancing and, the brothers that owned the place, went wild when they saw my wide-eyed nervous self, looking under tables, going to check the bathroom. It was sort of their 4th of July celebration (except it’s really Albania’s which is a completely different story) but they all pitched in on the search and when it turned up, the drunk rambunctious crowd went bonkers. They draped a red and black Albanian flag around my shoulders, pulled a hat over my head, handed me a beer and chanted “USA! USA! USA!” And it was one of greatest nights of my life.


The experience of Kosovo opened my eyes to injustice and the many shades of beauty that go unnoticed and how relationships have little to do with shared language or background. It made Augustine’s beautiful quote very real to me, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”


But Kosovo was also a bust and maybe that was only 4% of the total trip. After long days of combing through scholarly research, opening my dictionary every ten words, interviewing obnoxious government officials, and feeling manipulated by my superiors- who really just wanted me for the grunt work and, most importantly, my ties to the Embassy, it hit me that what I thought I wanted to do, for so many years, – be a public policy researcher- was not at all what I wanted to do anymore. Maybe it was best that this epiphany came in this rich of an experience, so much adventure to hold me up and not back… but it was still more than a little unnerving to step off my career path and float aimlessly into the world with absolutely no grip on a compass. There was nothing that could be done, but head back home to the Twin Cities and let my spirit buckle beneath gravity.


I’ve been working at a high school since returning, and although everyday its like my face slams square into the Christ in these kids- the drug-addicted, thirteen year old moms- I’ve also noticed a staleness. A mundaneness. I’m feeling a little too unscathed in my safe house (ahem, parents’ basement) and yet overly sensitive to words written in the balloons of the internet. I feel too sedentary and too antsy.


There’s been a loss of my wonder, the way my eyes used to marvel, my dreams somewhat clipped to fit reality, because at some point I told myself that this is what you do. You just figure it out. Work your cards to the best of your ability and make life happen. Before I knew it, my once flailing happy wings became boots, and they’ve been stubbornly trudging across the sucking mud ever since.


So I need an adventure. I need a new Kosovo. I need to see the Potomac at sunrise and feel the weight of all the ugliness and exquisiteness of our nation’s capital. I need to lose my cynicism, cultivate my skepticism, question structures and take the perfunctory, formal, work that is being done and somehow, in some small way, make it beat for justice. I need to fail and fly and see all kinds of strange things. I need to drive through the night and then quit and maybe wind up at some weird shady motel halfway- because it’s all I can afford- and then one day, brag to my suburban friends about how I survived it. I need to pack up all my things in my blueberry Saturn, drain a third of my checking account on gas money, dry clean my very best suit, and go knocking on doors in Washington, DC. I need to be dropped in the unfamiliar and make it my turf and somehow emerge changed and have the scars to prove it.


And it’s all sort of stupid, I get that. I am moving to a place where I hope to find work where the usual routine is to find work and then relocate there. But then, I don’t really care. Risk, stupidity, dumb luck, it’s all threaded into the thin fabric of my faith and I’d rather be living in that faith, swinging from it with both corners balled into my fists, than sitting back at home beside the window just wondering what I might do someday.


It begins by burying your face into a map. It goes one mile at a time into the hazy unexplored, trusting that even though none can be planned perfectly in your head, even though its terrifying and risky and will tax all your courage, it’s all known, stitched somehow by That Who is Love and That Who is For Me.


I’m finding myself a new Kosovo.

I’m heading into a stupid, faith-gripped-falling adventure.

And I can hardly wait.



Five Minute Friday: STORY.

Close up of potter at work in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, India

It was his turn to tell his testimony. Week by week, a couple of us at a time would give our story. And those nights keep some of my most cherished nuggets of relationship and community and all of it revolving around gospel.


The story of his life was enthralling and beautiful and tragic and it had led him to this grinding halt of my living room where we sat in a circle exchanging tales before heading to south America for a mission trip.


Inside of his testimony, however, was something that has irked me within Christianity.


“I hear the word History and I think it’s just His-Story. He brought me here.” And I can’t tell you how much that diminishes his thousand step walk alongside God. Evangelicals have this idea about God’s plan and calling and blueprint in which he is pulling us one puppet string at a time to wherever he wants us to go and it’s like this thing we say as a big band-aid on any and all problems. He ordained it. Knowing God as I do, I can’t accept that. Knowing God as I do, I know we journey together. I walk away. I walk back. We create together. I destroy, he builds anew. We are coheirs, he is my father, yes, but I also consider him my mother and my brother and my sister and my friend and I think when we widdle our stories down into these screen plays written by God, we are diminishing the real substance between us and the divine, all that love moving in the middle.


Stories matter. Between the barista in the morning to the gas station cashier at 9 PM, you’ll come across a thousand different stories, light and dark, hard and soft, and I can’t accept HIS-STORY with the dark and the hard ones, especially when they go on forever for some. We are co-creators, our story is interactional, it is not HIS-Story, it is ours, God has given us that. And it’s really quite beautiful-




So, one of my favorite things now is free-writing and that is what I have done with Lisa Jo Baker and friends tonight! The rules are… (quoting from her blog):


 1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt: “Story” with no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..