Welcome to Lent


 I have just returned from 17 days of travel – 12 in Africa and 5 in Amsterdam. And this morning as I awoke through a fog of jet lag and thought about my day, I remembered that Lent begins today.In a professional sense, I’m ready. Before I left, I prepped services and the amazing staff at our church has planned some wonderful Lenten experiences. I’m looking forward to the community pilgrimage for these 40 days.But as for a personal Lent journey, I hadn’t given it a thought until … [Read more...]

Marcus’ Striped Socks

Big time scholar, controversial figure, subject of endless discussions... he showed up last year at First Presbyterian Bend wearing brightly colored striped socks. He scooped up a few cookies and a cup of coffee in the lobby and sat down to talk with two of us who were trying to look as if having THE Marcus Borg in our office was the most normal thing in the world.In seminary, I lobbed my share of critiques at his writing which mostly assumed that he was as I found a few of his followers – lo … [Read more...]

The Pastor in Protest

A couple of years ago I toured the Civil Rights museum in Greensboro, North Carolina where black college students had staged a sit-in at the Woolworth counter in 1960. Hanging in a display cabinet was a black robe, much like the one I wear on Sunday mornings. It belonged to a pastor who was a part of the Civil Rights movement. I looked at it a long time. I’ve never been especially attached to wearing a robe but that day something shifted. In that display case, I felt the responsibility that c … [Read more...]

The Advent of Discontent


It was less than two weeks ago that I turned to my husband and said, “I’m bored with Christmas.” I know that some people wait all year for this season but it takes me time to warm up. In early December, Christmas is a huge hassle. In addition to the obligations and expectations of my family and home, I am a pastor and there are obligations and expectations at work as well. Obligations and expectations are not my best work environment. I prefer to be inspired and invited. A statement of privilege … [Read more...]

Book Response: How to Be a Christian Without Going to Church


As I have looked at the title of this book sitting by my bedside recently, it seems ironic. I spend my days leading church and here’s a book that may just work me out of a job.But if it weren’t for my years not going to church, I wouldn’t be back in church today. My husband spent eleven years outside church, participating in a group that threw off all "churchiness" to be a community of people grounded in following Jesus together without all the distraction and busyness of a traditional churc … [Read more...]


Last week I was on an early morning flight trying to sleep and was awoken by the shrieks of a little boy, who looked to be about 5 years old. He was jumping in his seat and launching into the seat in front of him. His mom’s body posture was withdrawn and indifferent. Admittedly, I wished she would distract him into a quieter activity and silently gave thanks to God for giving me two girls.Into the hushed space between the little guy’s shrieks, the young woman next to me yelled out, “He’s not … [Read more...]

the dangerous ambivalent leader

A few years ago when I was a new parishioner at a big church, I grew incredibly frustrated at the slow or non-existent response to my e-mails and offers to help. I was studying theology, passionate about church in the changing religious landscape and home with two little kids. I had time on my hands and pent up vision and energy. I know that the pastors were insanely busy but they also missed gaining a very willing volunteer. I ended up putting that energy into graduate studies and becoming a … [Read more...]

Living Between Denial and Despair

As the reports and tributes about Joan Rivers poured in last week, I was particularly struck with the fact that she is remembered for her honesty. Writer after writer commented that her gift was naming the absurdity and tragedy of life.The New Yorker reported that a few years ago, at a comedy club in Wisconsin she did a bit about Helen Keller and a heckler complained that his son was deaf and he didn’t think it was appropriate. Joan’s response? “Let me tell you what comedy is about. … Comedy … [Read more...]

Minute by Minute: My plan to get through 2014

I was recently asked to define self-care. The first thoughts that came to me were the typical answers: a massage, a day totally off work, exercise, sleep. All good examples of self-care. However, as I went deeper, I realized that every time I am intentional about something, about ANYTHING, I am caring for myself. I am taking the time to act from my soul. The most arduous task done from the soul is an act of self-care. The most luxurious task done without soul is empty of care for the self. … [Read more...]

How to Christmas #3: Be the adult in the room

Family situations can put us right back into our childhood roles. We walk into the house or pick up the phone hoping that those on the other end will have grown¬–they will have stopped the passive aggression or the guilt-trips or the emotional abandonment. But likely, they haven’t.One thing that I find striking about the stories of Jesus early childhood is how early he seemed to have figured this out. Maybe it is the ultimate proof of his divinity that he didn’t seem to get easily caught up … [Read more...]