Saturday, January 13, 2024

Threatened by Fire

I wrote this post the afternoon of September 26, 2020 and with some slight edits I decided to publish today. A bit surreal given everything that's transpired over the last 3.5 years including the January 6, 2021 insurrection caused and put in motion by none other than the previous president of the United States of America.  


I'm choosing this title for both a practical reason and a deeper heart wrenching reason. Today I received word that our old family cabin is in the Mullen Fire evacuation area in the Medicine Bow National Forest.  My sister asked if there is anything of value that we'd like to retrieve. The fire is about 10 miles away as the crow flies. The next few days will be telling. Likewise my world, our world, our America, our understanding of America, our understanding of Christianity, our connection with Christianity, our grounding in Christianity is threatened by fire.

This blog post needs to be written and I suppose mostly for me. I need to get these would out on the page. I need to give them voice. At times these words feel eloquent, at times tortured, at times self serving, and at other times maybe helpful or thought provoking. This is about the messy middle. My messy middle. I have no idea how this will resolve and what the "Third Act" will look like. I just know that my insides are in knots. My mind a whirl. My heart angry. My body stiff. My soul depressed.

Most recently I embarked on a journey to know and receive the deeply disturbing knowing that American Christianity was far more involved in upholding slavery than I understood or was taught. Priests, preachers, and theologians provided the ideological and theological framework to keep this horrifying institution in place and undermined its reversal at every turn. Was it every priest, preacher, or theologian?  No, but according to recent research it was many, predominant, and from multiple denominations. Not just the ones we would normally assume. Recent research also suggests that American Christians were at the very center of horrifying dismemberments, tortures, hangings, and deaths.  

We want to believe that American Christianity stood up for people. Stood up for humans. Stood up for their neighbors, and (God help us) for their slaves. [Never lose sight of the fact that during chattel slavey a slave was property. This human had no rights of their own and had a literal price tag attached to their life. They were inked into wills and ownership transferred at someone's death.]  

I want to believe that we are better. I want to believe that the ideological and theological underpinnings of slavery were stripped of their power and cultural influence during that last 100 years, but if you listen closely you can hear them still. If you listen closely they still have weight and they still have power. I wanted to think we were better when the Twin Towers fell on 9-11. And then I remember American Christianity's predominate support of torture all while watching Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ, and "being horrified" by the torture Jesus experienced at the hands of government authorities. My mind plays back all justifications that state these were different situations.  

Fast forward to today and I hear the same justifications. As I'm journeying through this time I try to make sense of the 81% of evangelical Christians who voted for Donald Trump and will likely vote for him again. I want to believe that my family and friends who identify as evangelical Christian will be part of the 19% that didn't vote for him. But probability doesn't work that way. Just to drive home the point in my head I made a list of 30 people (arbitrary number) in my life who identify as evangelical Christian.  Twenty-four of these people likely voted for Donald Trump and 24 will likely vote for him again.  Only 6 will likely abstained.

From where I sit four more years of Donald Trump will mean the destruction of American Democracy.  Will it be the end of America?  Probably not, but I have no consolation that institutions and norms that both Democrats and Republications (used to?) hold dear with little dispute will be threatened, weakened, or destroyed.  A recent example is DJT threatening he will not concede the election if he loses and there will be no peaceful transition of power.  You can make the argument that it's bluster and this is Donald being Donald, but if this doesn't at least give you pause then ... no words.  

Every conceivable excuse enters my mind to not post these thoughts, but I feel like I need to do something.  I feel like I need to at least speak my thoughts. At present these words are still safe in draft mode but all of these little thoughts will course through my mind before I hit publish and will torment me for days after.
  • don't make waves
  • don't cause discord
  • don't challenge "authority"
  • don't challenge "leaders"
  • don't question assumptions
  • be supportive
  • follow the rules
  • be a servant

I had a thought today that weirdly gives me courage to speak.  Among my greatest fears, one is fearing that people will think I am mean.  "Keeping peace" and "getting along" were highly prized in my family.  Being mean fit in neither of those goals. 

As I reflect on the last few weeks I see that I can be mean and I have been mean. Just yesterday at 11:30am and two weeks ago Monday at 10am. I remember my exact words and I remember what I said and I remember why I said the words I said. I can come up with 100s of specific examples over the last few year. Not even sure where I am going with this, but all that to say is I am not a "good Christian".  I am not that sweet, lovely, supportive person. I'm pissed. I'm angry. I'm disappointed and disoriented. I'm discouraged and exasperated.

Last weekend B and I came back from an outside social distanced gathering. On the way back home we were talking through our exasperation at evangelical support for Donald Trump and his naming of Justice Ginsberg's replacement. Brad waxed a thoughtful explanation on why support for Donald Trump is an existential threat to us, to our dear trans friends, to our friends in same sex engagements and marriages. We know he is a threat to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and to immigrants.  His record is clear on that. Given this backdrop the only thing he's not a threat to is the unborn, American Nationalists, and the wealthy.  

So today I cannot square a Christian vote for Donald Trump. With my beliefs, my theology, and my ideology, I'm left with "what I'm I missing"? What do evangelicals see in Donald Trump?  Why are they willing to put this faith up for sale on the chopping block? Why are they willing to align themselves with someone who ultimately isn't aligned with their stated morality, ethics, and their stated family values. Unless maybe he actually is aligned? Maybe all of this is about American Nationalism?

This scares me because that means what I thought they believed isn't actually all that important to them or their circles. What I thought evangelical Christians stood for isn't all that important to them.  I must turn this around and ask "what is it they really want"?  

That's where my recent learning of the underpinning of White Privileged, White Exceptionalism, and White Supremacy are more active than I care to admit.  That's when I question the system I grew up in and the water we swam in and the air we breathed in. These questions come to mind:

  • when you think of an American what is the color of their skin?
  • when you think of a solder what is their nationality?
  • when you think of a senator or congressman what is their gender?
  • when you look at your bookshelf do the authors primarily look like you?

When Brad finished describing his mystification I said to him, "but that's not what they are thinking".  They believe they are being loyal and patriotic. 

They see themselves on the right side of this.    

His conclusion was the mystified thought, "how can a person actively vote to harm other people"? I do not know the answer to this penetration question, but these words come to mind, "Do not abandon the faith.  Don't take wrong turns.  Do not listen to other voices."  

This is actually the reason for the post.

This is why American Democracy is on the brink.  

Sunday, October 24, 2021


This post may never get published, but I need to give myself permission to write freely.  It's been a long, long while since I opened this blog to write something, but not long since I've been working through things to write.  

Since my last post the world has changed. We are 20 months into the pandemic. Could argue we are 23 months since the first case reportedly occurred in December 2019. For us it was March when the reality sunk in and in one day I was working from home, B's class switched to online, we were buying groceries from a service and staging groceries before bringing them inside. We never ran out of toilet paper because, we confess, we did a little hoarding.  

Now we are 6 months into being fully vaccinated and working through if/when to get the booster.  We talked about it this morning and Brad said some things that are moving the needle for me.  Two people close to me (though not in physical contact) contracted COVID in the last two weeks.  Both vaccinated, but they cleared the virus in a few days with a few days of yucky symptoms.

Before I started writing I looked through my list of draft posts, things I've barely started and things that have some form. One from December 15, 2015 caught my eye. I called it Sanctuary. I'm not for sure what prompted the post. I only found it included a definition of Sanctuary and the start of a musing.  I like that very much.   

  • a place where someone or something is protected or given shelter
  • the protection that is provided by a safe place
  • the room inside a church synagogue, etc. where religious services are held
  • a place of refuge or protection
  • a refuge for wildlife where predators are controlled and hunting is illegal
  • a consecrated place


Tuesday, May 01, 2018

A long time...

It's been a long time since I've posted anything on my blog.  Yesterday, April 30th, was the 5th year since my Dad died and two days prior would have been my mom's 80th birthday.  For some reason I thought this weekend would come and go with relative ease since the last two were easier than the first two.  I was wrong.  This weekend was super charged and painful.  Every emotion seemed right on the surface.  I fixated on everything left undone and all the things yet to be done or yet to be started including both my list and Brad's list (and "no" that did not end well).  

I posted a question on FB asking my FB peeps who have lost their parents or a loved one what emotions they feel or behaviors they do in the days preceding the "anniversary".  The responses couldn't have been more meaningful.

A grade school friend (1st grade maybe?) who has lost both her parents, too, shared something really sweet.  She finds small ways to honor their memory throughout the year, so I’m thinking I will finish out my 52 weeks of pictures to honor my dad.  He had few hobbies, but when he he could he took out his camera and had quite an eye.

I think to honor his memory this will be a good thing for me.

P.S.  I'm going to pre-date the blog posts since they will be photos from 2015.  It will be good.   

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Rainbow of Blue

“I am afraid of emotions,” Mack admitted… “I don’t like how they feel.
I’ve hurt others with them and I can’t trust them at all.
Did you create all of them or only the good ones?”…

“Mackenzie.” [spoke] Sarayu “…Emotions are the colors of the soul;
they are spectacular and incredible.
When you don’t feel,
the world becomes dull and colorless.“
~ The Shack ~

Color.  It lifts my spirits.  It reminds me that God is still present.  Still working.  Good in spite of the brokenness and trauma that surrounds me.
Red to yellow through orange
Yellow to blue through greens
Blue to red through violets
Nothingness to an array of blues
When we first moved to Oklahoma in 1992 I came without a job.  On days when my husband was in graduate seminars and I felt particularly down, I went to the fabric store.  I walked around isles and isles and bolts and bolts of colored cotton fabric.  I didn't know a soul in Norman and we had little money, but I immersed myself in color.

Immersed myself in good.

These past few weeks color has once again taken a prominent place in my life.  Color studies visit my life in art displays and projects, spoken words, written words and book covers.


Recently our yoga instructor talked us through a mediation of sorts, a guided way to focus on stretching while breathing.  She asked us to visualize the color of the stretch and then while releasing to visualize the change to another color.

I pictured red-hot red and the transition to yellow through beautiful oranges.  I breathed… stretched… released… stretched and then released again.  I breathed.  Deep breaths.  Breath that reminded me of life.

I relaxed more and stretched once again.  This time my thoughts went from red to orange and stayed present with orange, comforted in orange.

While focusing on breathing my mind also centered on my dear friend who recently _____ her daughter to suicide.  I use a blank because no word seems to fit. Not “lost” to suicide because her daughter is still very much present in her thoughts.  Not “experienced” suicide.  Not past tense because the family still experiences the suicide and the loss of her physical presence every day.

When we visited recently we shared, we grieved, we paused in silence.  In grief and sorrow sometimes words came, but most of the time nothing graced our lips.  The thoughts and ache deep inside.  Red-hot red thoughts.  Red-hot red aches and sorrow.

In a loving grief inspired act, her daughter’s high school art class gave the family a painting her daughter helped create.  Her small group expressed their color wheel study through a celestial view like what Hubble would see.  The painting is stunning and the transitions around the color wheel seamless and timeless.  My friend received the framed painting several days after her daughter’s suicide and I couldn’t help but tear up while she looked at the painting.  I wondered about her thoughts and the rainbow of memories washing through her mind.


Not long ago while feeling especially fearful about our cross country move and my writing project I thought about the yoga meditation.  I ask myself what color fits the pain I feel.  Just when I think I’ll dive in and share my writings, the gremlins torment me.  I get excited one moment and in a flash it’s gone and I am overcome with fear.

What color fits this pain?
The feeling is cold. I’m clinched.

The feeling is terrified I will make a mistake; say something “unorthodox”.

This feeling says, “I don’t approve.”

It says, “Stop…no further. Too risky.”

It warns, “You are violating the rules. You’ve stepped out of the ‘good girl’ box.”
I visualize a drab gray, but honestly it feels like the absence of color.  All life drains away when I listen to the critics’ voices.  No blue, yellow or red undertones.  Death really.

As with the yoga meditation I visualize the stretch and pain of stepping out of the “good girl” box.  I choose the color blue, my least favorite color.  Instantly an array of beautiful comes to mind.

Sky Blue
               Storm Blue
                                 Deep Blue
                                                             Midnight Blue
                                                                                     Baby Blue

Stepping through this rainbow and weaving though these words, ever so slightly I feel the tight grip release.  I don’t want to give into the critical voices and stop writing.  I don’t want them to win, but their voices are strong in my head.  I fear disconnection which is death to me.  A future fear not grounded in reality, but nonetheless in my present world being open and vulnerable seems a gateway to disconnection.

In her book Daring Greatly, BrenĂ© Brown speaks something that stirs my soul.  To be vulnerable is “to engage”, to be “all in”.   Vulnerability is “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure”.  BrenĂ© is adamant that vulnerability is not weakness.

As I dance with the blues I choose to engage “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” and to release my tight grip on mechanisms I've chosen to protect my heart from being hurt or disappointed. I choose to face my shame triggers, to name them and question their message.


I grieved with my friend.  The community grieved with my friend, her husband, and sons.  The church literally overflowing.  No standing room.  People waited outside.

At her home I held her face in my hands.

We’ve been through a lot together over the course of our friendship.  I met her six-months before her daughter was conceived.  Over these years we’ve talked a lot.  Walked through a lot.  Laughed a lot. Cried, grieved and prayed...a lot.  She taught me that absolutely nothing is beyond God’s ability to redeem; nothing too tragic, too scary, too ugly.

My friend’s daughter took her life by cutting off breath.  I thought of her today as my lungs fill with breath.  Oh sweet one!!!  Why?  I search for understanding in a situation that defies it.  Another friend said it well.  Depression…the monster…grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go.

I want to believe that God is "in this" and that God has not left us.  I want to believe that all will turn out for good.  I’m supposed to believe “in all things God works for the good of those who love him,” a major tenet of my faith, but today it is difficult to accept from where I stand.  How on earth will losing a daughter to suicide turn out for good?  How can good come out of this; not tiny good, but huge good that explains why God did not step in and intervene.

I don’t understand why He didn’t.  This is the fear of my struggle.  I want to turn away in disappointment, but this color meditation points me back and reconnects me to God.  Color is my promise that I can dialog with God about my fears, my disappointments (unanswered prayers), my confusion (why did You not intervene), my anguish over my friend’s daughter’s death.

Most of these questions will remain unanswered, but I realize my grace is that I KNOW I can still speak my questions to God.  I know He will meet me, hold my hand and walk with me in the confusion.  I trust His character because He’s walked with me through many other circumstances.  I've faced fears and failures, rejection and loss.  Changed through them.   Learned His character.  Something new.  Something deeper.

I didn’t always believe this, but I now know deep in my bones that God is good.  Good whether the sun shines or not.  Good whether I am rich or poor or in sickness or in health.  Good whether I live or I die.  Good in tragedy or in peace.  Today my hope anchors and trusts that what the enemy meant for evil will eventually bring Life, in much the same way that Jesus’ death was an end; a stop ... but only for a time.  Life returned, transformed and redeemed.

I cling to hope that His ability to redeem anything will once again take flight.


As the weeks go by we are settling into our new life with new routines and new networks, most yet to be discovered.  New places.  New faces.  Yet all this newness is mixed with discomfort, instability, and loneliness.  My head spins up narratives that make the loneliness deeper.  My friend’s daughter’s death still troubling me.  My friend and her family’s grief is a billion times more complex, painful, and tragic than mine, but I speak this feeble prayer in the face of my fears.
I bring all this to You.  It is huge.  Too huge for a human to deal with without Your intervention which brings me to my fear.

I’m hurt and my faith wavers.  I still believe You are real and You are good.  I do believe both, but I have a wound of mistrust.  I don’t understand and not able to see why You didn’t step in and change the circumstances.

We prayed so much for her kids.  We prayed and prayed.  One constant prayer was for friends.  In the aftermath we see that she many.  For this I am grateful.

Did we not pray the right prayers?
Did we not pray enough?
Did we not use the right words or
use the right tone or body posture?

I suppose when I start asking these I’ve fallen in a trap.  The trap says I can control and change people through my prayers.  An alluring trap.

What is my safe question to ask?  My insides in anguish.  I come back to a place of great sorrow and grief.  My heart weeps.  Please provide a support netting for my friend and her family to help them through this.

Even while writing I’m hesitant to ask.  It breaks my heart that I hesitate to enter Your embrace.  It’s not fear, but distrust and mistrust.  I don’t know what to do except to confess this.  Tears in my eyes and sorrow in my heart.  I love You and I don’t want to turn away, but I’m so disappointed.

I feel like we exhibited great faith and learned to cling to You hard and fast.  Maybe I thought this would carry to her children and You would protect them from all things.  It’s so complicated; so very complicated.

I’m really hurt and not sure where to turn…

…but still to You.  You are my Stability.  I am beloved and cherished.  I have chosen to walk with You and accept Your wide open call to be a disciple and to step into Your flow.

Yes, again today I speak that You are my God.   I will follow You even through this….even through this.

Strengthen my faith.  Grant me empathy in greater measure.  Empathy for those who struggle to believe You, trust you and to stay in spite of disappointment, loss and confusion.

You are my home.

While writing this prayer tears streamed down my face and angst in my cries.  My sweet dog, Gracie, walked over from across the room.  She knew I was upset and pestering me with her nose she anxiously jumped in my lap.  I buried my face in her fur and touched her dog tags.  They made me smile.  Her collar caught my eye among her black and white fur.

Turquoise.  I smiled.  Turquoise BLUE.

Embroidered in big letters is her name, “Grace”, followed by my husband’s cell phone number.   The juxtaposition washed over me.  Her name and our number necessary should she get lost.

I sent my friend a picture of Grace’s collar with these words:

Grace's collar with Brad's phone number reminds me
that grace will always point me back home.
Today I was able to confess to Father that I'm distrusting and mistrusting Him,
but I need home.
I need Him and I don't want to leave Him in my confusion, disappointment, grief, or sorrow.

I don't want to leave home, but my heart aches with confusion.
I'm trusting that Grace truly is my way back home.

Sending hugs to you my dear, dear friend and journey partner.


Friday, August 07, 2015

52 Pictures - Week 32

This one is never very far away.

This boy always make me smile.

Munch, munch, munch

Scooby's face!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

52 Pictures - Week 30

One for us and one for our neighbors from their peaches!
Those ears.
Gorgeous Dog and Gorgeous Lawn.
Smiley boy.

Friday, July 24, 2015

52 Pictures - Week 30

A Year Later

I wrote this post back in October 2012 but never posted it.  Not sure why....but today it gets its due.


Recently we helped a friend prepare for a estate sale.   She and her now deceased husband lived in one of the most amazing homes in my city ~ an old church (circa 1926) converted into a personal residence.  It's called the Chouse and it's simply beautiful.  Yes, its beauty is the architecture, but it's also because these two made it their home.  They loved animals, music and community and opened it regularly for orphaned cats and dogs (lots of them) and house concerts.

Almost exactly a year ago my husband hosted a house concert for my birthday in this place.  He also surprised me with a very special gift.  He played his mandolin and sang a duet with the artist, Carter Sampson.  Only a few dry eyes in the room as we heard Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You".

(Photo credit - Trisha Bunce)

Soon this place will be owned by someone else who will make it their home. We hope they too will experience the grace and beauty of this place.

(Photo credit - Trisha Bunce)