Performance, Preaching, and Anxiety

This week started on a high for me. I felt like I was in a groove and nothing was going to stop me come what may. Well, that was good until “come what may came.” Tuesday and Wednesday have both sought to tank my confidence again.

I really do not feel okay right now. I do not think many people do. I am looking at my shaken confidence as a problem instead of something deeper going on. I listened to Glennon on her podcast this morning. It is wild that every time I listen to this podcast the words are there speaking to what is going on inside of me. At sixteen, Glennon walked into her counselor’s office at school and said she can no longer live this way. She is not leaving until she gets the help she needs. That is bold, brave, and super aware at sixteen. I felt that way in 2016. (Maybe it is something about the number 16). In 2016, I decided to cry out until I got the help I needed. I had to make some changes (lots of them) but help is coming and healing is happening.

I am an extremely self-aware person. It is a strength, but it is also borne of deep pain. Sometimes it causes me to have too many boundaries. I protect my internal world with my life because I have been hurt over and over and I want to stay alive spiritually. A series of traumas, both past and recent, have left me with trust issues. I also have a voice in my head that is constantly talking to me in ways that like Glennon said, if anyone else talked to me this way I would think they needed help and are way too paranoid. But, like Glennon, this is the girl I live with every day. I have been able to calm her over the last year, but with upcoming sermons and knowing so much feedback and critique of my performances are coming, she is starting to speak louder (she is scared) and I am trying to calm her down again. I felt less alone hearing Glennon say she can be fine and then not be fine all of the sudden. It is the opposite of toxic positivity–it is the “nothing is tolerable” syndrome. I get this way about church a lot. Church and public life are currently dangerous for women–see Catholic Church, SBC, and the state of Texas (just to begin to see). Our views on women are playing out right now, children too, and we do not seem to be that important. I grieve we seem more concerned about our performance to God than our performance on tending to the wounds of women and children from this abusive rhetoric in our culture that is full of lies and downright cruelty. This is not all in my head. This is true.

Egos take over to justify all of this and blame the ones who mourn as being negative or unable to take criticism. Or, if one dares to become confident (women, this is especially true), motives are questioned. We are a nation/world that does not like women, even the ones who do like women. I know this sounds strange, it is a paradox, but our pain is not considered as we learn to rise–even in progressive spaces. We need that space for a bit before all the critique comes. Taking up space and being seen is not something that is comfortable, and most of the time feels wrong. Too many are not used to it in ways that are empowering for women. We are used to seeing women fight for their worth, not live into their worth. Even myself, I feel like I am bragging if I say I have done anything well. And when critique comes, I take it to the furthest extent possible in the negative way because deep down I feel like I do not belong. That is a deeply embedded message in me. I was supposed to be hidden. I believed this too. I was cancelled from rushing in college because I was such a bad performer. Then in soccer when I wanted some credit and did not get it, I knew that was the selfish side of me that wanted credit. I am not nearly as confident as I sound. I am just doing it anyway because I can no longer live the way things were. We are all the scared child in the lunchroom wondering where we should sit.

I want to share what is on my mind about preaching. I am finally confidently saying I want to do it. I say that, but actually doing it is another thing, especially confidently. I hate performing as noted above. But in truth, I do not know if I hate performing as much as I hate being judged for it. But that is what I am learning to see is not happening now. Being able to receive feedback, one has to feel safe. I dropped a class one semester and took a directed study of that course to finish, having a woman teach me calmed my anxiety and then I was open to learning. She challenged me and gave me feedback that felt empowering and not crushing.

This is not me being guarded or just needing to get over it. My anxiety knows the danger that is out there for women in the church world. Look at the #MeToo #ChurchToo Movement. Instead of the church repenting, it is either ignoring it or digging its heels in further that the subordination of women is not the problem. They say it is just a spiritual problem. The church has the perfect system to absorb this systemic sin that is not getting any better. And progressive spaces are not responding in ways that will make it safer for women in the long term either. Rethinking doctrines and how we speak about God is necessary to make the systemic changes we need to not only protect women, but to free women. Women want to be free, not protected. I posted a great video on Twitter about that truth.

I know I am facing all of this, and it is true–not made up in my mind–when I say I want to preach. This is far deeper than me worrying that I may not be that great of a preacher. I know I can do other things well if preaching is not it for me. I might like writing better. I have never been one who wants to be seen publicly. Even when I got married, it was not the marriage that scared me, being seen on the wedding day by the crowd was painfully scary to me. So this preaching idea is more than an ego thing; it is a “this might save my life thing.” I cannot live this way anymore. I will do anything to get the help that I need (we need), even preach.

Our performance-driven society is killing us spiritually because we have made humans the means instead of the ends itself. This is about the flourishing for all of creation. Rethink what performance means.

Pastoral Resident, Ashley Robinson, had me take this picture and look at it every day before I preached. I was to say: I belong here.

Depression days are sick days

Since coming home from work on Thursday I’ve been tending to my spiritual health. I had a panic attack this week and sleep still isn’t great.

Something helpful I’ve read is a tweet saying depression days are sick days. I’ve never really thought about it like that. My trouble with sleep is part of the illness! So here’s what I’ve done 24+ hrs since being home to help heal—and it’s working:

1) I’ve gotten in my pool (thanks Luther!). It’s chillier now with rain but the 30 min each day has been helpful.
2 drinking more water
3) but—here is the most illuminating one of all to me—bc I never knew this was a problem—I haven’t listened to podcasts or watched Stephen Colbert or anything that gives me any more information at this moment. I’m already overloaded.

My friend and colleague told me it’s my 5 wing that is overwhelming me right now. Anticipating school and learning my internship is a lot. And I’m still listening to all the things in the world in addition to that. I also have a new travel schedule I’m not used to, and I’ve got to learn how to keep enough food in me when my travel time might be extra long. I don’t have to do this alone thanks to my friend, Robin. ❤️❄️.

I’m still waking up at 2:30 or 3 right now. But the last two mornings I’ve gone back to sleep trying a new thing. Right now even my calm app is stressing me out bc focusing on my breath is making me think too much and I really don’t want any noise, so, instead, I have been coming into our living room and appreciating the silence. It’s not a silence I normally get to experience and is different than the quiet of night. Gratitude always helps.

Friday morning I decided to put on a mindless show bc I really wanted to sleep and not think or focus or welcome my awakeness, bc it isn’t welcome. The stupid show worked. And it really was stupid. This 4 cannot handle it so I went to sleep to escape anymore stupidity. 😂. This morning, though, I came into the living room and soaked in the silence again but decided to try and lay my head down without a show. I grabbed my weighted blanket and let myself just listen to the unique morning silence. It worked! And i slept later than 5:30. Made it to 7!!!
My mind is racing less already. I noticed this immediately by eliminating podcasts and shows that give a lot of information. I spent my Friday barely engaged in serious business. I also saw my spiritual advisor and she asked how I felt.

Me: I feel physically tired bc of the lack of sleep, but my mind feels at ease. That’s something.

I thought about working today bc I’d love to do what I can before school starts, but since my sleep is still off I’m going to keep tending to my healing. It’s still a sick day. This is part of the spiritual work.

My spiritual advisor also reminded me that my voice is important. Turning away from information is not being privileged. It’s keep my voice and body strong for the work ahead. She also told me I’m showing that part of spiritual work is receiving help too. ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️. God with us. God gave us each other.

Why Al Franken’s resignation gives me hope

Friends, I am not proud of our government leaders very often.
The GOP is just terrible. I am not super proud of Democrats either, but the Democrat Party has pockets of light shining through the cracks at times that give me hope a better day will come. One moment is the situation with Al Franken.

Today, Someone tweeted they were upset Al Franken had to resign over a joke while the GOP has all of their very serious sexual predators still in office…..

Okay, Lindsay, breathe.

Friends, women are not objects to keep overlooking when they are objectified and it does not seem serious to you. I am proud of this moment b/c it is a rare moment where we see a leader taking responsibility. Heaven forbid anyone takes any damn responsibility in this nation! Being held accountable is not persecution. Al Franken took responsibility and this can be his legacy now. He had an actual group holding him accountable and he accepted he needed to step down. This was redemption for him and a moment America got to witness leaders doing something really hard. Leaders who were actually serving the people they represent- women and everyone who has been a victim of assault. It is time to create a safer world for everybody. Franken was a decent leader, and it was a terrible time to lose him, but that is also what makes the decision even more powerful. Too many do not do what is right b/c it costs them. Winning is an idol in our culture.

This is a rare moment hearing our govt give voice to women. Our bodies matter. We are not here to be objectified, groped, catcalled, or anything else that is treating us as anything less than human. Women need to learn their worth too. Stop treating other women this way as well. women are some of the worst offenders. Internalized misogyny is a beast.

I wrote this post b/c I have a hard time feeling hopeful some days with our government. It is actually destroying us and that is not me being dramatic. I need to remember these moments to know it is there–the truth that women matter has been voiced by our govt in a moment that would have been easy to overlook, but they did not. We keep going the narrow way. (All of a sudden that has a whole new meaning for me–not who is going to heaven or not!!!!).

Look at all that is happening now. Winning has looked like stepping away: Meghan Markle, Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Al Franken (taking responsibility and stepping away–that is good news too).

Winning is not about being on top. It is being where love is. Where life happens.

Do Individuals Progress?

A question came up on Twitter that I started out not interested in but I guess my spirit was interested, because I kept checking this thread to see if I could understand why this question was being asked. It finally named something I have been trying to say based on experience–not further education. This author/pastor said: I don’t understand how people who take the Bible seriously expect progress. This sounds a bit hopeless, but it is true. Individuals do not progress to become more good or rational over time. This is why scripture still reads us today.

Do not read this post and think I am saying: Thank God I am good. I am not. I have just seen something and experienced something that has changed me forever. I have known the church has been wrong about women for quite some time. My voice is not coming from a place of just realizing something new academically and I must talk about it. I have experienced the rotten fruit of complementarian theology, and I have experienced the liberation of egalitarian theology. Both are empowering my voice to speak in a moment that needs a voice of emotion, not just knowledge. This is not a put down to knowledge because I knew nothing when I went to seminary, and the education I am receiving is sharpening my voice and writing. I was ready for this education because my spirit was crying out for it. It is feeding me and making me feel alive. I was hungry for this education. Big fan of education and knowledge. Education is pro-life. Hear me clearly on this, please.

It is important to note, though, that my knowledge of the church being wrong about women is not what led me to leave. I stayed for several years knowing it was wrong and believing change would eventually come because individuals eventually progress and change, right? Once truth is revealed? My experience tells me no. 2016 revealed that is a big negative. I did not leave until I experienced how dangerous that incorrect theology was to the bodies of women and children. The apathy and disbelief about sexual assault did me in. And an ignorant and vile man being elected over a smart and well-informed woman while hearing too many friends’ cheer. This is not due to a bad education, although it is part of the problem, there is something in human nature that has always been terrible to women and children. This is why we cannot figure out when male over female theology began. It has been in the air long before the Bible came into existence. The Bible is not the first book written. So why am I expecting progress now for women knowing all of this? I don’t.

I think women can be liberated, though. Maybe I can expect material progress as we work towards a more just life together. Dorothy Day, a rare church mother I got to study in church history, says giving away materially is an important spiritual practice. The United States is a place of massive inequality. It is a choice, not a spiritual reality that we cannot do anything about because Jesus said “the poor you will always have with you.” Poor hermeneutics on that passage. Education and critical thinking matters. The reason women are held back is because equality will not allow men to be as rich as they want and hold all of the positions of power. Their influence will decrease in their minds. Experience has shown me influence increases the more voices we add to our theology, but until people learn to trust, the resistance will remain fierce. Learning women are human and important in the Bible is helpful and necessary work but it is likely not going to change people who are comfortable where they are, or scared to change a long-held narrative that gave them security for far too long. If they are wrong about one thing, what else could be wrong. This idea we cannot be wrong is literally killing our spirits. Church history and United States history, both.

This is why I fall under liberationist theology versus any other type of theology. I do not read the Bible to figure out what the rules are. I can love people and do what I know is right by my neighbor without it. Example, I would have gotten my vaccine with or without scripture. The spirit of scripture does tell me it is a pro-life act, by the way. I value my life and my friend’s lives without scripture. What scripture helps me do in this moment with the vaccine is learn to trust people who have done the work and are telling me it is safe. I trust science and people who know way more about it than me. Do I think scientists can err and be wrong about some things? Or change their minds when they know more? Yes. But I cannot live my life not trusting people because some people might be wrong or corrupt. I would never step in a church again if I lived by that theology. Scripture helps me learn to trust even though the world is not trustworthy and is not likely to ever be trustworthy. Trusting anyway is liberation.

I have been used and abused in my life. I see/hear/experience the judgements people make about people sharing their experiences, and the judgements cast doubt on the trustworthiness of the person. I do not care anymore. My faith tells me to tell the truth. The truth will set me free and anyone else who wants to join in and tell the truth. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. I do not see that as a winning statement over other religions or an religious-escapist statement to be made in the Christian faith that fails to be embodied. Jesus is saying, I believe, that going by the way of truth, which is what he did, it will cost you physically/materially, but your life will never be so full. You will be spiritually/mentally alive. And that is the life that cannot be taken from you. I am feeling this liberation as the women of the Olympics speak truth. Women, children, and BIPOC are saying that they are tired. It is time to tend to our mental health living in a world that has demanded our bodies be used for other’s gain and entertainment.

My liberation theology leads me to believe in a world that can learn to trust. Like Thomas, we often need to feel and see the wounds–including our own! Without trust there is no life. I will live learning how to trust more and more every day knowing I will get hurt again but I am a different person now. We can be trustworthy in an untrustworthy world. The world might not get better but we can still live fully and in a trustworthy manner. One of my sermons in my preaching class had that focus. I am proud of it.

A little story about Kerri Strug and Me

Everything that is happening in gymnastics right now is clarifying so much for me and what happened. Let me tell you a true story. Kerri Strug, you may know her from the 1996 Olympics with the sheroic vault on a known injury after the first vault that clinched, without question, team gold. Turns out she did not even need to sacrifice herself for that gold, and I will get to that in a minute. It was full of drama and all the things everyone looks for in a dramatic win. Except she was 18 years old and hurt. She fell on the first vault and was limping and her coach, Karolyi, encouraged her to keep going: You can do it! She did. And was done for the rest of the Olympics. She was helped off the mat by Marta, Bela, and Larry Nassar. (Don’t forget who is helping her right now). Let me back up, she was also a 1992 Olympian. Not many know that the Karolyi’s tried to retire after the 1992 Olympics. Kerri moved to Shannon Miller’s gym. Her family was in Houston while she trained in Oklahoma now. My dad is in Houston. One night I was flying home from Houston and Kerri was on the same flight! This is before 96 so I am the only one who is freaking out. But I was not going to do anything about it. My dad did, though. I ended up meeting her whole family and we hung out until the flight. I got to preboard b/c I was flying alone and I saved a spot for Kerri and her mom on the plane. Y’all, this was a dream come true for me. Kerri and her mom sat with me and she and I talked forever about gymnastics. I was on cloud 9. She even asked for my phone number so we could hang out sometime-in her very limited time. I could not believe this was happening. But as things would have it, right after this encounter, the Karolyis come out of retirement and she goes back. I was so sad. (Like she was going to call anyway, but a girl can dream). Then 1996 happens and she is a household name. I wanted everyone to know I knew her and I was so proud. It never occurred to me that this was abuse. I was 18, too. Grew up in the same culture. I was not as good and believed I did not have the “you can do it” spirit that she had. I found out from Rachel Denhollander on Twitter that Larry Nassar talked badly about Kerri Strug to Rachel, b/c he was abusing Rachel too. He told Rachel that Kerri’s vault was not heroic. She had a slight sprain and was creating drama. Oh my gosh! Rachel said he talked badly about several of the Mag 7 to her. While she was being abused. See! this is what happens. We are trained so young to be the very best. To keep going even when we can’t. And when we do go for it when we can’t, this is the response! We are literally never good enough. Simone Biles is flipping tables. But even she kept going to this Olympics knowing she would have retired after the last one if it was not so important to her to hold USA Gymnastics accountable for Nassar. She was abused by Nassar as well. Yes, Simone is the GOAT. But it is honorable to say “I can’t” even if we aren’t the GOAT. Biles is healing herself and others through her prophetic no to self-sacrifice and yes to life for herself. She has a team and when she could go no further, a teammate came in and delivered an incredible performance. So it is not team gold. 2021 Olympics is giving gymnasts something so much better than 1996 did. Let us not forget Kerri Strug, though. I am not saying this as her friend (LOL!) – I am saying this as someone who knows what it is like to feel like you have no choice. Believing your worth comes from your performance, not well-being. Simone is hearing a different story.

Believe women, believe her, believe me

I have been writing a lot about believing women these past few weeks. If we did, there is a lot we would not be facing right now that is so tragic. Christine Blasey Ford is an example of a voice that came forward in a moment it was needed knowing it would be torn apart because of timing and all the circumstances involved in the situation. She did it anyway, and Kavanaugh was still given a seat. Now he (Kavanaugh)is being looked again and we are learning there are questionable things that went down with Justice Kennedy’s retirement leading to the Kavanaugh nomination. The USA Women’s soccer team has done everything a hostile crowd asks for when people demand to be paid equally and fairly (and given the same quality equipment to work with as men) but through their own fight having all the credentials and awards to back them up, what is revealed is none of that is what matters. Power is not interested in equality for women or any marginalized life. It wants to profit off them without complaint, not uplift them and rejoice with them (or cry). USA Gymnastics girls held in their pain believing their abuse comes with the territory of winning had no voice until Larry Nassar was caught. Larry Nassar was the nicest person in the community to the girls and he was sexually abusing them. Verbal abuse is abuse too–their coaches. Also, denying food and overworking them is physical abuse. This is happening in so many sports because our love of winning surpasses love of life. Several gymnasts are finding some semblance of healing finding out they are not alone in their pain and Nassar and USA Gymnastics are finally being held accountable. I love how Jamie Dantzscher says she can now say she is a proud Olympian and US gymnast. She did not feel proud when she was one because of all the shame and abuse. Heartbreaking, but the abuse did not get the last word. Praise God. Truth will set us free.

Why does it take so many voices who have been hurt to be believed, though? I hear the cries of everyone asking why their voice is not enough by itself. This is why so much abuse goes unreported. No one believes victims and they are often blamed. Spiritual abuse on top of the physical abuse.

I think back on why I am here. I got my feelings hurt this past week with an assumption made about me that surprised me and shook me up a bit. I am still processing this. But I remember this: the Trump phenomenon is what made me realize women being silenced in church and government is what has led to massive abuse. I was undone by how little so many people cared about abused women and children–women being some of the cruelest. They would yell about abortion and go stone-cold silent on this topic. This has only gotten worse, not better. But one thing that has changed is I am in seminary because of it. I have to remember this when I feel shook up. God cares about this. My therapist also tells me this: I care too. The pain of women and all the people crying out who have been treated as less than needs to be heard and felt. Our children are being abused in sports and in church. Women have had it. I have had it.

Why can’t the lone voice be heard among us? Jesus left the ninety-nine for the one. God goes to the one and I take comfort in this.

I hear my spirit that is groaning within me saying this: Believe women, believe her, believe me.

I Always Go Back to Soccer…

My partner, Jake, says that everything always comes back to soccer with me eventually. He is not wrong. Soccer, youth soccer with our kids, is where I realized I had a voice and boldness I never knew I had before. There is a massive amount of injustice in youth soccer (I know all youth sports) and my justice-demanding heart does not sit idly by when a moment calls for truth/action, not silence/inaction. Looking back this has always been inside me. I was an extremely quiet child in early elementary school. I was really shy with zero confidence. On the bus kids would say I was from the land of quiet because I said nothing. I was a cheetah who had been tamed as Glennon would say. Or as my therapist tells me now, a child who was sitting back observing the world before participating. I was paying attention.

In kindergarten, I never got in trouble because I was quiet. This seems to be all people in power want, good quiet people–especially girls. But there was one day a kid was being picked on and I got involved because it was so wrong. This is the only time I had to sit by the wall. I was humiliated. This is how I will be taken out of the game: mistake my motives and punish me. The teacher never asked what the commotion was about. She was only concerned that the peace had been disturbed by our noise. Isn’t that how the world works until we can no longer ignore injustice? God has a limit of about 400 years (Gen. 15:13). The world (people, not creation) wants peace, even if it is a false peace. That is not peace.

Back to soccer, soccer is where I found my voice and where a trauma happened that was so horrible–at the same time Trump was happening–I could no longer enjoy anything I once enjoyed in this world anymore. People were not who I thought they were. This is why I am shouting that relationship and education, alone, are not enough to reach people who have decided to follow mammon instead of God. This is going to take something stronger–a Care Bear Stare is how I like to put it. Love of money is a strong principality, and it thrives off of the oppression of people: racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and classism are all rooted in love of money and power.

It has taken me a long time to look back on soccer and not get re-traumatized. I have been in therapy working on healing a deep wound. My therapist said one day it will be a memory and not feel like a present reality over and over when I think back on it. The thing is, everything that happened in soccer is a present reality in our politics right now. It is unfathomable to me that people cannot see why Trump would be triggering for so many women, children, and BIPOC who suffer his abuse through people like Trump in their present reality. He is not an isolated buffoon who got elected and people weirdly love. He is who they have always loved. Not many of us were prepared for the revealing, even those who follow him. Before I go any further, I want to say something for clarification:

Prior to Trump I never spoke on politics. I secretly voted D to avoid judgement, and, honestly, I knew it made zero difference in the area I live. Just look at Texas now. What an absolute abusive mess that is happening because people like me were silent all this time. It is silence that allows abusers to gain power, not the loudest few who support the abuse unapologetically (Rev 3:15). My silence, and Jake’s too, came at the expense of our humanity. Mine as a woman who had been abused in gymnastics, boyfriends who believed they owned me, abusive work environments, and church subordination. Jake’s came at the expense of being a public-school teacher and indigenous person whose heritage has been assimilated into whiteness. Silence is not always golden. This is not me being partisan. This is me being on the side of humanity. I will not balance abuse and liberation. Even Moses realized as some point you have to leave. Pharaoh is going to Pharaoh. But the women! Oh, how we missed their stories. Egyptian and Hebrew women were both working towards liberation and that is why the Exodus happened. Funny how women’s stories in the Bible are told in ways where we cannot be trusted and need to ruled over; we deceive men. Yeah deceived men to survive and find freedom, and freedom happened–not war! Patriarchy is not holy.

I have been healing from a whole lot of trauma and I share my story to help others enter fully into their human story. Feeling wounds and admitting sin, or being freed from being sinned against, is not the worst thing to happen–even though it feels violent and horrible some days. Find a safe community and ask for help. This is the sanctification process that is happening, and it is holy and necessary work.

The reality is I think even Democrats are too soft on what is unholy among us. And complicit in a lot of wrong America has done to other nations. People are in pain, and it is real. It is not lack of discipline that got them there but powers and principalities set up benefitting from their oppression. I learned a lot once I saw the world for what it is. I do not claim to know everything, and I know I will never be fully awake to all that is wrong in the world, but I can say I am not sleeping through the inbreaking of the Holy Spirit revealing truth. Holy Spirit is in the chaos finding people who are ready to create a better world out of the chaos, not eliminate it, and help humanity and all of creation flourish. Love God, Neighbor, and Self are one and the same! I will add love of all of creation is also loving God. John 1:11 reveals creation did not reject Jesus, people did. Creation is groaning for us to repent (Romans 8).

Now as I have struggled mightily to use my voice where people understand me, US Women’s Soccer team has come to the rescue. Now I am coming back to soccer where I feel joy and pride because the truth is coming out. And this is very much a judgement on church as much as it is on all of our society. We are a nation, and church, that has profited off a women and little girls’ bodies and expected it to be for lower pay, or free, with no objection to our treatment. If we dare get angry we get called names, and some are derogatory names used from the Bible! We are not even supposed to care about sexual abuse. They will say women are making it up. But men, they get a pass–Brett Kavanaugh. Had we believed Christine Blasey Ford we would be a better world already. Now we have a man with Supreme Court seat who shouts his love for beer, and too many among us believed him and tore Blasey Ford apart. I heard this most vehemently from Christians. Praise God I had changed churches when this was being questioned. It was another spiritually abusive moment that I will never forget. Kavanaugh has another woman coming forward right now too. Why can we not believe women the first time? Same for children. Unless a whole bunch of people come forward, we ignore the one voice who told us long ago. And this could have helped save other women and children. It is not too late to do the right thing.

Megan Rapinoe, a sister warrior and shero, has a lot to say. She says that women are taught to live out of a posture of gratitude for whatever we are given, even when it is unjust. The system does not like our demands for equality–even when women win and are the popular team. USA Gymnastics is harder to get this voice because they exploited little girls, but same thing, women’s gymnastics was a winner and how they got there did not matter until Larry Nassar. Megan Rapinoe does not care if the timing of asking for justice is convenient or not. She is a voice we will look back on and be grateful for, because this voice is not just for soccer–it is a voice for all of us. And it is joined with an amazing US Women’s soccer team who know their worth is not in victories but because they exist. Equal pay for equal work. Women should not have to work harder to prove their worth, and we know that will not be enough anyway. Theologically people believe women are inferior, and it is in all of our systems in public life. It is sad that we are facing more than legal resistance to women’s equality. We are also facing spiritual resistance to it.

Now the principality of Trump makes more sense to me and why people we know and love are not going to say a word about the Capitol insurrection and lack of accountability, but yet, still call us partisan when we cry out at the terror happening among us. I just do not care anymore what anyone says or thinks about me. I have my team now. I am committed to the truth powered by love. It will make a better world for them and me.

Let me end with this: Hillary, when debating Trump, stayed completely stoic. She never reacted when being talked over and called names. We did not know at the time she was being trained to debate a narcissist. She played the game as society wanted her to as a woman, and it did not work. Our society hates women and believes we are biologically inferior. The US Women’s Team was told that, even after they have won all of the World Cups. That rhetoric is in the Bible. Is that holy? It is biblical, but it is not the gospel. That is a word from a human and not God. Hillary lost, a smart woman lost (I do not care what you think about her–I can call out every single president we have ever had for war crimes) and Trump a hateful and uninformed man, won.

Someone asked how we can keep people from being misled. She is a woman who works for a complementarian seminary. While we can’t be responsible for people who choose to be misinformed and ignore truth, we can do something really simple:


What do USA Women’s Soccer, Gymnastics, and Preaching all have in common?

What do Women’s USA Soccer team, Women’s Gymnastics team, and Women
Preaching/or having any authority in Christianity have in common?

Misogyny! And abuse against children.

The other night I watched the documentary “LFG”, a documentary about
the USA Women’s Soccer Team’s unequal pay even though they win, and the men do
not. Let me preface this post for new readers, I was once a gymnast and
experienced abuse. My husband is a soccer player, and our kids have both
participated in youth soccer here in North Texas. I know I am in seminary
largely because of these experiences. What is happening to women and children
in our churches is also happening in our public life. It is connected, not a
coincidence. I am not going to rehash my soccer/gymnastics experiences in this post
because I have already written about them. Feel free to check out the posts if

Watching the documentary on USA Women’s soccer team’s unequal pay and hearing
the women’s experiences and excuses they receive for the unequal pay; these are
the same exact things women hear in the Christian industry too. Megan Rapinoe
is one of the loudest voices on the US soccer team about the inequality. She is also a
fierce social-justice warrior. Her brother is a victim of the opioid crisis.
There is a lot to her story that makes her the person she is today, and I thank
God daily for her voice and personality that shine brightly leading us to a
better world. I am glad the USA Women’s soccer team is mad and fighting back, because
women/children are afraid to be mad in other areas of life and there is an
incident happening right now in the conservative Christian world that
highlights this point. Women are taught to be pleasing and not to rock the
boat. Example of why this is happening: John Piper, from Desiring God, and an unfortunate leader in the Christian faith (we have to say Christian-I am not going to give it an adjective to let
Christians off the hook because he is using the same faith we claim for his
abuse—and he has a very large platform) responded to a question about if women
are to submit to abusive husbands. He said it depended on the type of
abuse. Even when extreme, the woman is to respond kindly to her husband when
she objects. Also, if it is just verbal abuse, then she can overlook it. Verbal
unkindness does not matter. She submits to her husband because that is God’s calling
for her life. Even in progressive Christianity, most do not see verbal abuse as
spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse is just as harmful and debilitating as
physical abuse.

USA Women’s Soccer team to the rescue. They are mad and not apologizing. The
women started fighting during the World Cup, the last one they won in 2019. It
was a huge risk, but worth it. When they won and a celebration was going on
with a large crowd in attendance, the US Soccer Federation had to respond to
the crowd about the inequality. And here is what the president said: He
admitted the women have done well and deserve more. But then he went on to say this: and this
is why we invest in the women’s program more than any other country.

OMG! Well, now we know this is a worldwide problem and every
woman should fight, but this is no excuse for the US Soccer Federation to get
around the unequal pay. I also hate hearing that in Christianity. I hear too
often: well, you could live in another country where it is worse. I do not give
a damn that it could be worse; and, to assume the US is treating women better
than every other country is false. But no matter what, comparison is from
the devil. We fight for justice as it is-not in comparison.

Then when that was not enough for the women’s soccer team to feel satisfied with
their second-class treatment in soccer, the federation started looking at the
rules to get around making changes and here are several of their excuses: 1)
The women agreed to their contracts and pay (as if they knew at the time what
was happening) 2) The women are paid more (if you look at total pay and not
rate of pay—they are playing and winning more games and that is the only reason
they get paid more) 3) That they are biologically inferior (my blood is boiling
now—women hear this in Christianity too b/c it is in scripture (1 Peter 3:7).

As you can see, patriarchy will say and do anything other than what is right
by women, or anyone it deems weaker. In gymnastics, if Larry Nassar had not
been busted for sexually abusing the gymnasts, USA Gymnastics would still be
ignoring all the verbal and physical abuse by the coaches who treated the
gymnasts as their possessions. Children competing on serious injuries to win
medals and to stroke their coach’s egos and make America proud.

Knowing this now, when I remember the church’s silence and continued support
for Donald Trump when he was a clear and present danger to women, BIPOC, and
children in 2015/6—it is now understandable why this is happening. American has
sinned. America believes lies to keep power, and what we are doing now is
actually feeling these sins. Times were not better before now. God is here and
has some words to say. God wants a better world for all of God’s children—all over
the world. From the words of Amos 5:

18 Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord!
    Why do you want the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, not light;
19     as if someone fled from a lion,
    and was met by a bear;
or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall,
    and was bitten by a snake.
20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light,

    and gloom with no brightness in it?

21 I hate, I despise your festivals,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,

    I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals
    I will not look upon.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


In Christianity currently, Dr. Beth Allison Barr has written a book called, “The Making of Biblical Womanhood.” It has struck a
nerve in the conservative world and the criticism she is getting from complementarian
men is outright abuse. They go after her emotions, of course. I am a four on the
enneagram, well in touch with my emotions, and I have a lot to say about
emotions and how these men are being emotional and using their emotions to
manipulate people. It has worked for too long. Trump plays on people’s emotions
and makes people nostalgic for a time that never was—maybe if you are white cisgender
straight male, but even then, the times were not good for them either. You can
see it in their inability to show their feelings. They must act manly (according
to toxic masculinity rules) and be in charge with all the answers. I am here to say that tears are
good for the soul for everybody. Not knowing all the answers, and we do not, allows us to enter doors we would never have attempted to open before. I can bear witness to this. It is not just good news for women.
For everybody!


Dr. Barr is also having her credentials attacked and sources she
has used to back up her scholarship. USA Women’s soccer team addressed this
too. They know their voice was only going to work if they are winning. It is a
beast to continue to have to compete at that high of a level all of the time, with
no room for error, to make sure they get the compensation that they do now. But
even when they are at top-level competition, even when women have the right credentials,
it is not enough. This principality is flooding down into youth soccer/gymnastics/church
too. The pressure to compete/preach at a high level for girls/women is so high
it is ruining a culture that could be so much healthier and good. America has
such an unhealthy relationship with winning. Trump brought that up when he said:
We will be sick and tired of winning. I was there long before he said that. Winning
is great, but not like this. We are not actually winning.


Back to Dr. Barr, she was fiercely attacked by a writer and seminary
professor who writes for TGC, the Total Gospel Coalition. TGC posts really
awful and harmful articles all the time. I do not know why we take them
seriously, or why they have a platform at all. They even attacked Elsa and that
is why I am Elsa. Thank you, TGC, I have never had more fun finding myself
through the truth Elsa has revealed to me. I was talking to my therapists last
week, ironically, because I had no idea this was coming, about how I am shocked
people take me seriously in the world I am now because I have no credentials.
Working on it, though. Here is how my therapist responded: Wait, do you think
professors and pastors are to only respond to people with credentials?


That was such a good question and made me realize I have something
inside me that believes credentials are what give a voice worth, not wisdom
from experience. This is not to say credentials are not important. Dr. Barr and
the US Soccer Team would not have the ability to do what they do without being
trained, but the credentials are not what give value to their voice. A lot of
women, I used to be one, were/are denied these credentials. The man who
attacked Dr. Barr is going after her credentials by talking over her and asking
everyone to look at his credentials and read his book coming out that will
support complementarianism. Dr. Barr is also responding in a way that reminds
me of what Megan Rapinoe addresses in the documentary when we feel badly about
getting angry. Megan Rapinoe says that women are taught to posture themselves
out of gratitude for what they are given. Being angry at injustice without
apology is how women get called names and the opposition will use the term “emotional”
to infantilize women and discredit their good work – sports and scholarship.


The US Women’s soccer team just lost the first game in the Olympics,
ending a 44-game unbeaten streak. Jake was reading the comments about it, and
he was sick. He said they are really going after Megan Rapinoe because of her
voice and activism and now his head and stomach hurt.


See? The expectation of winning is way out of whack with what is physically
or emotionally healthy. And some were waiting for this loss to prove their


Me: Welcome to the world of being a woman with a voice that has
the power to change things. They are looking for the fall to discredit the
truth and keep the status quo.


End All Patriarchy. Not just Christian Patriarchy.

Elsa says: No More! The gloves are off. 

Is Jesus the Bible?

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Is Jesus the Bible? This is a question that has come up recently on Twitter, and lots of convos are going on right now that are having me tap into my seminary education and personal experience to respond. First, I need to say that I do not believe the Bible is inerrant. That is a 19th-century term used to justify slavery. There are a lot of resources backing up this statement too. Inerrancy also justifies sexism, but, for some reason, sexism seems to have always been allowed. So, me saying the Bible is not inerrant lets you know I do not think Jesus/God is the Bible. I do believe God is revealed through the writing of humans, then and now, and we see God’s character through stories and relationships. What is beautiful and true is God. God is love. I wrote a whole credo on this. Love is not as simple as good feelings that are subject to change at any moment, but a deep relationship that stands firm when nothing else does. What remains is what is true.   Here are some things some friends may not know or may not have known can be questioned. The gospels are beautiful, but there are problems. One problem is we do not have any writings from women and their experience with Jesus. Men wrote these stories. I am grateful for what we have but I grieve that women were not valued enough to have their work included. We know women informed a lot of these writings or their stories would not have made it in the story and be central to the story! But we miss their story all too often, because of patriarchy, as we read right over very significant encounters Jesus has with women as if the woman is the back story to the main story. If we do happen to realize a woman’s significant role (Rahab, Tamar, Mary Magdalene, Woman at the Well), all too often she is either unnamed or gets labeled a whore if the name cannot be erased. It is wrong and women are still fighting this rhetoric and ideology today. It is okay to condemn language in scripture that is used to subordinate people instead of liberate them. You can use scripture either way but know that the Exodus and Jesus’ life on earth supports liberation of the oppressed. Pastoral letters and other letters/writings are not the God we see revealed in the Exodus or Jesus. The gospel of John is a crowd favorite. I like Mark and John both for different reasons—maybe it is the human and divine that I get from both accounts—Mark, humanity and John, divinity. But let me talk about some problems even with these gospels starting with John. John retelling the creation story is brilliant, but he used λογός(Logos) instead of σοφία (Sophia): In the beginning was the Word, instead of in the beginning was Wisdom. This has led some to believe that means Jesus is scripture itself. We talked about this in my NT class because we are not afraid of hard conversations. My professor is male but aware that without women he would not have his faith. He brought to our attention that this might have been an attempt to erase women from the story. Why gender competition is a thing, none of us know for certain. But when life gets complicated women are blamed, called names, and erased. Nothing new under the sun. If more women were in positions of leadership in churches and public office in Texas, I do not believe we would be fighting the horrific battles we are fighting today in a state that is becoming more and more every day a place I no longer recognize at all. Λογός is a masculine word in the Greek language and so is θεός, God. While the gender of a word does not make it actually male or female, it has made it so in our vocabulary and in how we view God. Words matter. Masculine terms are almost 100% used when we talk about God in our churches worldwide. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit terminology is problematic for anyone but men to hear themselves created in the image of God. This is also why I do not like the creeds, one of the reasons—there is more I want to resist with the creeds but the time is not here yet. Σοφία takes us back to Proverbs 8, chokhmah, Hebrew word for wisdom—also feminine. In Matthew 11, I like Matthew because he uses Wisdom literature, Jesus refers to the list of prophets, including himself, as wisdom. “Wisdom will be vindicated by her deeds” (Matt 11:19). Mark is the least the problematic gospel when it comes to more generalized language. Antisemitism can come out of the gospels—people used the gospel of John to justify the Holocaust because of the words “The Jews” written the way it is. It was not the Jews, it was power–just like we are seeing in Christianity right now. We used the word Judeans in my NT class to make ourselves more aware of our language and how it has the power to cause irreparable harm. We must take responsibility and do the work to help create a better world. Be better friends. Christianity has some reparations to do here. The evangelist who wrote John was a Jew and that needs to be understood. The only Gentile gospel is Luke. I am not going into Luke today, but there are issues with the same thing—and women. Critical thinking and interrogation is essential when interpreting any text—not just scripture. Our words have spirit beyond what is written in the plain text, and they always have a context.  To critique Mark, as promised, Mark leaves a woman we are supposed to remember every time the good news is preached unnamed (Mark 14). Is the Bible hopelessly patriarchal? I do not know. I am living by the faith of our ancestors in scripture who wrote to find a way out of no way and believe it does not have to be the case in the world that is to come—on earth as it is in heaven. Is Jesus the Bible? No. God was around before scripture was even written. But scripture is a beautiful place to see how God has been at work in our history all throughout time. It gives us a common conversation when our lives are so different from one another to help us see each other in our present context more clearly. And to know that our joy and pain are all written in this book of life. It is a human story. The good, the ugly, and all the complexity that comes with what it means to be human is written in scripture. The past talks to the present, but the present does not serve the past. We keep following the story of God into more inclusion.


What I am learning by stepping out in faith and preaching

Yesterday, July 18, 2021, I preached my first ever in-person sermon. The experience was so much better than I ever imagined it would be, and the last possible thing I thought I would ever do in this life. I was shy, and in many ways I still am. It is far from easy. I would bolt if I felt like there was any life for me if I did. Rev. Dr. Freddy Haynes said our calling will lead us to the Garden of Gethsemane. We will want out. It takes serious praying and sweating blood to say yes to God. And there is a lot of frustration when the people you need the most in your life seem to be sleeping (disciples).

When I was fed up with women being pushed out of church leadership because I saw women’s experiences in political life did not matter, I was not looking to preach about it. But when I saw how awful some theobros were acting, I realized I might be called to it. Not what I was looking for. Actually, this is the one thing I did not want to do when I went to seminary. I told the congregation this yesterday, too. But I think I have a unique voice to speak into a moment that needs a voice like mine. I am not saying this to be self-aggrandizing. None of this happened because of anything I did other than respond to Jesus who I felt approach me in my moment of deepest grief and I wanted to live. I like how Bonhoeffer puts in his book, “Cost of Discipleship,” –Jesus comes to us by grace, but it is our job to say yes and go immediately where Jesus leads. I had to leave a lot of what I had always known to get to where I am today. And it is pure joy in this chaos. Relationship with God and humans are way deeper than I ever knew before.

I have been shocked by the response to my preaching, especially by people who are not in leadership. It has been received so well and they hear me. I have been thanked because I see people and give voice to the forgotten. I get critiqued more by people who have been doing it a while because I am not polished.

Now let me tell you a little about my sermon experience.

The reason I preached on Mark 14, “The Anointing at Bethany,” is because this story is a story that speaks to our place and time. It is about a deeper seeing and knowing. I am a 4 on the enneagram and we get a bad rap for wanting to be unique and out of the box. This is a mischaracterization of 4s. Yes, 4s want to feel special (don’t we all), but it is not just for us—it is for everybody. Most 4s I know grew up feeling unseen and over-criticized. And this is what I am seeing happening in our society too. We are talking over each other and not listening. Or if we do hear, we are not letting it hit our heart to hear the deeper cry/joy and respond in solidarity. I share my story so others will too. We do not know our stories apart from each other. There is life on the other side of pain. Healing is hard work. It can feel violent. This is the story of the cross—death, then life. First the pain, then the rising as Glennon Doyle says. This is what the future of the church is going to look like. There is so much spiritual trauma because we never learned how to be human. We have been a used and abused people working so hard for the money and the win to prove our worth. We do not rest and the earth is not getting any rest from it. Bad combo.

I wish my live sermon is the one that was on YouTube. It is better with new insights I did not have when I recorded it. But my recorded sermon was on the same day I had a serious anxiety attack. I am proud of myself. I am learning to cope with the mental health issues I face, and it is because I have done (and still doing) the hard work to learn to live with it and let it benefit me instead of hinder me. But I could not do this without my community. A community that saw me and has loved me beyond what I can do for them. They want me whole and well first and foremost. They are true friends. Wilshire is the first place I walked into where I did not feel like I was competing with anybody. I found myself never wanting to leave Wilshire when I got there because it was a place that felt like relief for the first time that was not my backyard. Now there are people who I can see and hug and feel the love of God in the same way I felt God loving me back together in my backyard. This experience is why I said yes to seminary and now I am saying yes to preaching.

I have two significant insights that came to me after the recording. The broken candle was God and science. God is science too. I needed a story to help me illustrate what I wanted to focus on in Mark-the woman breaking the jar and the oil spilling everywhere. Mark is the only gospel that talks about the jar breaking and how much it cost. My candle breaking gave me the shock (the crowd reaction), then I was transported into the story watching my candle wax flow all over the table onto the ground. This was a vision of radical faith in God–it looks like breaking and waste, but it is turning into an overflow of abundance.

The breaking is also science because the breaking can be explained by the heat outside and glass expands in the heat. But isn’t the ordinary here to be used by God? I am sure the bush Moses saw was normally seen as an ordinary bush. He just saw it differently that day because God was trying to get his attention and he was paying attention in that moment. I related this to getting a vaccine in a time Covid is here. God did not send us Covid. God sends us life. A vaccine is an avenue towards life. Ordinary life is the miracle that can lead us to abundant life.

Then, the morning of my sermon, I was listening to Glennon’s podcast, “We Can Do Hard Things,” again. She said there is something about breaking that invites us to be fully human. That was the perfect quote I needed to describe what I believe was happening to the woman. She was breaking in a culture of death–the jar represented her breaking. But she saw the life that was in Jesus and knew it was fleeting moment she would see him face-to-face, but that fleeting moment was abundance. The crowd scoffed and Jesus told them to leave her alone. Jesus, man, he is the best. We need Jesus to scream to the whole world right now: LEAVE HER ALONE. SHE HAS DONE A GOOD THING FOR ME! Jesus sees women. There has not been a discipleship problem with women. Women have been consistently choosing life. Old Testament and New. Hebrew and Egyptian women were choosing life. Without women, there would be no Exodus. Mary and this unnamed woman in Mark are two examples of where women were saying yes to God in impossible circumstances. They are representing the human response to God and reminding us that it is good to be human. Jesus reveals that God wants to be in deep relationship with us and include us in the good news story that will remember us every time the gospel is preached. This woman represents humanity. Our experiences are part of what it means to be human. We speak both the joy and the pain and find life.

When I got to the church and let them know I was nervous. One of the ladies there told me this: Don’t be nervous. We are country folk. We just want you to speak in a language we understand. I can do that. I also remember what it is like to be laity and the knowledge many of us are denied because people more educated think it is common knowledge. It is not. I was talking to one of my other friends the other day and she told me this: This sounds new to me. Maybe we always knew this, but it sounds new to me. Yes! I feel like we are in an Amos 8:11 moment. We have been in a famine from hearing the words of the Lord, but these words are breaking in now and making us tell the truth. The truth about our Christian history and the truth about our American history. There are people’s experiences missing from the story we have telling. And it is okay to feel things about having to change the story as we once knew it to include the missing stories. Feelings, all of them, are okay and information to learn from too. Denying truth is the rot. I received so many hugs and encouragement after that sermon. I will never forget it as long as I live.

People have poured their wisdom into me to make yesterday possible. I quoted so many people, talked about my church, school, and friends. By working with Doug Haney, I learned how to sing a little bit and I sang this song out loud on my way there to work on my voice for preaching. Of course it is Elsa, “Show Yourself.” These are just some of the lyrics.

I’ve never felt so certain
All my life I’ve been torn
But I’m here for a reason
Could it be the reason I was born?
I have always been so different
Normal rules did not apply
Is this the day?
Are you the way?
I finally find out why!

Show yourself
I’m no longer trembling
Here I am
I’ve come so far
You are the answer I’ve waited for
All of my life
Oh, show yourself
Let me see who you are

I’ve never felt so certain
All my life I’ve been torn
But I’m here for a reason
Could it be the reason I was born?
I have always been so different
Normal rules did not apply
Is this the day?
Are you the way?
I finally find out why!

Show yourself
I’m no longer trembling
Here I am
I’ve come so far
You are the answer I’ve waited for
All of my life
Oh, show yourself
Let me see who you are

Then Ashley Robinson sent me a song called “Rainbow” by Kesha. These words.

“I can’t lose hope, what’s left of my heart’s still made of gold”

Me on the day of my first in-person preaching assignment.
Ashley made me stand in the pulpit when I visited with her. I had to tell myself every day that I belong here.
Coach Doug, Music/Associate Pastor, gave me voice lessons and opened me in even more new ways. Singing is even more vulnerable for me than preaching!
Practicing with my family the night before
Happy Dance because the sermon felt good and so did I
The candle that I thought was wasted is now one of my most treasured possessions now.