the journey continues

Journeys are unpredictable. They sometimes come across barriers, road blocks and dead ends. On rare occasions, one can round a bend to be astonished by breath-stealing beauty of rare brilliance. My journey in life has not been what I would have imagined. There has been such great and glorious beauty on the road. There has been some abrupt dead ends that have nearly been the death of me. Here is a mini trip report.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a dancer. I wasn’t one. I grew up, got married and had a little girl. She wanted to be a dancer too. She was a beautiful dancer! Then she died. This was not on my road map.

I write to express my pain. I write to share my hope. I write for me and hope it blesses you. I write about my experience, my attempts at healing and wholeness. I write about random thoughts, daydreams on my journey.

Those who have been following my earlier writings will find similar topics to those in the “my journey” section of this site. This is the most personal of my writings. I have added “current conversations” to the menu as a place for me to share opinions on the topics of the day. I will be adding “ministry conversations” as a third category of writing soon. The home page will always show the most recent in all three categories.

I wanted my readers to know of the slight change in format. I want you to know why. I have decided to pursue writing more intentionally. I have begun to write my autobiography. Part of embracing this new chapter means writing consistently, practicing the art of writing. The added categories will help me to do that on those days when I just cannot bring myself to dredge up more of my soul for public consumption. I will be able to sort out my thoughts on topics other than myself in my favorite way, through writing. This too is a part of my journey, a sign of growth and healing. There was a day when my own pain consumed my thoughts. I still have that pain but it is no longer all-consuming. I can think more broadly on the world around me. I want to share those thoughts with you.

Let’s have a conversation.

solutions vs. shaming

As I read through my twitter feed lately I am bombarded with opinions surrounding the issue of abortion. Each slide blasts the other with moral arguments designed to shame the holders of the opposing viewpoint.

I try to keep clear of anything that smells like politics online or in public speaking. So I’m not going to attach my opinion to any one side or party. What I am going to do is argue for a higher level of discourse.

For too long there have been some in the religious right that have used shame as a tool to attempt to vault themselves above others and to keep their members from speaking out in dissent. I don’t believe this is honoring to God who seeks to justify rather than condemn us. (Rom. 8:1,33) Christianity is not about bringing shame. It’s about being met in our brokenness, forgiven our sins, being made new.

Not only is public shaming incongruent with God’s ways, it is not productive. I can’t see a way forward in our public conversation by attempting to bring shame on those who see the issue through a different lens. Do we really think that cruelty will bring anyone over to our way of thinking? We can disagree. We can share our reasons for it. We can even attempt to bring correction when someone’s facts aren’t straight. But we can do it with kindness. This is how we follow in the steps of our Father in Heaven.

God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.

Romans 2:4 ESV

Now just so we’re clear, this shame based tactic doesn’t belong solely to the conservative side. Those on the liberal side of the fence are just as likely to play the shame game. State representative Brian Sims sets a prime example.

One side says shame on you for murder. The other says shame on you for telling women what to do with their bodies. One side values life above all else the other values freedom above all else. The end result is nobody gets anywhere in changing the hearts and minds of the opposition. In fact the only thing accomplished is that we now see each other as opponents rather than sisters and brothers.

We need a better way. We are tearing each other apart and building walls of separation that prevent any path to consensus. We need solutions not shaming.

While I do not believe our country will ever land in a place where all people are satisfied, there is hope for a majority consensus. It turns out according to polls that 80% of Americans believe abortions should be limited to the first trimester. In these polarized days, it is hard to get 80% of Americans to agree on anything. Let’s start there. Let’s ask compelling questions. Let’s work towards solutions.

One inference we might make based on the above statistic is that the American people see a fetus as a baby sometime before she is born. If this is so, why do those same Americans believe abortion should be allowed in the first trimester? Is it for scientific/ medical reasons or as a concession to the practical difficulties of having children? The answer is not uniform among all people but it is probably more to do with the practical. It goes something like, ‘Having a baby is a life altering event and I don’t have the right to force someone else to change the trajectory of her life.’

Okay. So instead of arguing over who’s rights are greater, the infant or the mother, let’s look at those practical difficulties and how we can minimize the negative impacts on the mother’s life and maximize the positive impacts.

One example may be that pro-life business owners and managers look at the realities of the work environment they control. If a woman were to become pregnant would she have to worry about being passed up for promotion due to her need for maternity leave or because as primary caregiver she may take more sick days and be less available for overtime? Let’s be real. Kids change life and priorities. That manager can minimize the negative impacts and reassure prospective parents by proactively developing an environment conducive to child rearing employees. What if instead of overlooking the pregnant applicant, the boss looks first to promote that person with an extra mouth to feed? What if companies provided a raise or a childcare allowance to those with growing families? On-site daycare is a popular pro-family concept. These can be expensive options. But if you are pro-life, isn’t it worth it? If we aren’t willing to share the inconvenience and cost of the baby, do we really have the right to condemn those who would end her life for those same reasons? I believe life is worth the expense! Other ideas may not cost anything at all. Creative options such as more work-from-home days for those with kids can allow for continued workflow during a child’s sick day.

And that’s just the work environment. What about the environment at church? In her neighborhood? Is she receiving love and acceptance or is she being judged and shamed? The conversation should continue. I am convinced that there is a way to better the environment in which the unexpectedly pregnant woman suddenly finds herself.

Bottom line. There are reasons women get abortions. Right or wrong, that is the reality. If pro-lifers are serious about saving lives, they need to be serious about changing the environment that those lives are born into. Women need solutions, not shame.

put me in coach

I have hoped for a real life mentor for years. Finding a seasoned pastor willing to mentor a woman in the art of pastoring is like finding fireflies in Bellingham, Washington. Impossible. Non-existent. Or so it seems. Most pastors are men and most men don’t want to mentor a woman. 

So when the voice on the phone began talking about setting me up with a coach, I thought this would be an answer to prayer! In my mind I was thinking of an older senior pastor, maybe retired at this point, mentoring me in how to better live out my calling. Coaching and mentoring were pretty much the same thing, right?


I would soon discover that mentoring and coaching were two very different things. And that my coach, despite my earlier preconceptions is not a pastor that functions in the same way I do. While she and her husband do pastor a church in Montana, she herself does not hold the responsibility of preaching weekly in the Sunday service. She is not the sole person setting the vision and direction for the church, etc. She is also fairly close to the same age and so does not have much additional life experience. How, I wondered is this person going to be able to guide me into being a better pastor?

It turns out , that is not the intended role of a coach. While mentors are typically people who have more life experience and skill in a field and offer the wisdom and advice of their years to those younger and newer to the work, a coach is not there to advise at all. Rather, a coach, I would learn is there to listen and ask questions.

To what did I just agree? Was this some secret plot to get me into counseling without telling me up front? What on earth would I talk about for hours a month to this total stranger? All of my skepticism was on full alert.

Here’s what I’ve found. This coaching thing has the potential to be immensely helpful. Over the last few weeks, my coach has asked me to clarify my goals and make a plan towards accomplishing those goals. She doesn’t give me the plan, but rather forces me to make one. She asks me to identify road blocks and come up with a way around them. She holds me accountable to actually carrying out the action steps I commit to during our sessions.

Coaching has the effect of taking the nebulous thoughts of “one of these days I’m going to __________ (fill in the blank)” and transforming them to “tomorrow I will start the work of __________.” Coaching is a tool to move one from daydreaming (something I could teach a college course in) to accomplishing lifelong dreams. 

This blog post is a product, albeit a small one, of coaching. One of those afore mentioned daydreams in my life has been to write a book. Thanks to Coach Colleen, I have begun. Today, I am announcing to the world, “I am a writer.” Okay, maybe not the world, it’s really a small handful of people who read my blog. But I’m putting it out there. My coach says that is a brave thing to do.