Monday, April 30, 2012

Just Us Orange Slices

Nothing is random. Life is filled with choice.

My life moves forward in the tension, belief in the Creator, the dignity of free will, and His plan for every breath of my life.

Orange Slices is devoted to celebrating the sweetness, pushing back the murky shadows in my peripheral vision and centering on a celebration of life. This year
I am committing one blog a month to a retrospective of goodness.

God in a Brothel by Daniel Walker
Not for Sale by Nathan Batstone

a high school production of Grease
a community theater performance of Gypsy

Excellent Choices:
Not for Sale workshops more
The Michael Rambo Project more
58: The Film more

Special Blessings:
a new website in development

Learn to do good.
Seek justice.
Help the oppressed.
Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:17 NLT more


Sunday, April 29, 2012

God in a Brothel

"Daniel Walker has worked as an undercover investigator ... working to free women and children from sex trafficking ..." reads the back cover of God in a Brothel.

The investigative approach and law enforcement perspective in telling the story frequently left me feeling as though I was reading a report ... until in the final pages when ... God in a Brothel takes an unexpected turn toward grace.

When contemplating the impact on his nieces, nephews and other children and young people he cares about, Daniel Walker passionately turns the tables on
my critical heart:

"I want so much more for them than a cautious, safe and untainted personal development. I want them to live fully aware of the fact that God knows they will make mistakes and anticipates that they will sometimes suffer. But like a young Betsie ten Boom, who during World War II found her self inside the horror of a Nazi concentration camp, I want them to know with all their being that there is
'no pit so deep that [God] is not deeper still.'"

"When they do fall or choose unwisely, when life with all its unfairness ambushes them, and when they find themselves walking through dark valleys, I want those children to know that they are still pursued and adored by their Maker. I long for them to know in the core of their being that there is nothing they can do that will separate them from that love. I want them to know that all things can be made new: 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'  
2 Corin 12:9. And in that knowledge I want them to live full, courageous, free and abundant lives."


Image Source: Hagar International
Betsie ten Boom more

Saturday, April 28, 2012


The State Theatre

When my husband and I dream the ‘what if’ dream,
he wants 800 midwestern acres of forested land
with a lake. I want a tiny loft in Manhattan more ...
and access to Broadway.

There is power in live performance: sitting in the audience watching a story unfold on stage, experiencing our friends as actors immersed in the telling, seeing the characters struggle and change.

A daughter chooses a divergent path for her life.
A broken and demanding mother experiences tenderness.
A friend who is a quiet blonde appears on stage a bold brunet.

My heart engages in the transformation.

Paul-who-was-once-Saul writes about torment – a thorn in his flesh. Pain? Brokenness? Struggle? Change?

Struggle is inherent in our humanity. The gritty pain and brokenness of life on earth are instruments of change. And God reassures us:

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
—2 Corinthians 12:9 more

God invites us to embrace the gypsy, the weary traveler within, the child destined not for this earthly life but for her one true home.


Photo Credit: Gypsy

Friday, April 27, 2012


Pastor Jesus
Again this week someone invited me to join their church – not collaborate but actually leave my faith community in favor of theirs.

It is an awesome experience to feel so welcome within a faith community that we invite others in. I believe this is what Christ intended: inviting, welcoming and encouraging others.

Though just a few short weeks ago her invitation might have offered a welcome respite, today my heart says Never!

I can't imagine life here on earth without Fellowship.

And Fellowship is difficult. Intimacy and transparency can be exhausting as we mix in our broken humanity: misunderstandings, mismatched personalities, old wounds and fresh pain.

In an effort to avoid hurting others, fragile-ME wants to be polite, which at some point causes human-ME to slink away in shame and self-doubt, which causes broken-ME to rage, which brings true-ME to my knees before my Creator – eventually.

I wish it didn't take so long.

I search desperately for someone else to blame.

On my knees before my Lord, I realize the biggest stumbling block is ME.

Submission is not an attitude nor a moment of decision. Submission is a journey.

As a writer I often envy Paul, his adventures recorded, his acts of faith read over centuries by millions of people exploring the New Testament. As a follower of Christ, I celebrate Paul's candid and human words:

When someone gets to the end of his rope, 
I feel the desperation in my bones. 
When someone is duped into sin, 
an angry fire burns in my gut.
If I have to "brag" about myself, 
I'll brag about the humiliations 
that make me like Jesus ...
I crawled through a window in the wall, 
was let down in a basket, and had to run for my life.
 —2 Corinthians 11:28-22 excerpt more

This past Sunday my friend and pastor knelt during our teaching, demonstrating a posture of submission. podcast

I celebrate his candidness and humanity, his willingness to kneel.

Though just a few short weeks ago I sought respite, today my heart says Never!

Fellowship is where I belong.


Illustration by David Hayward Pastor Jesus

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breaking Chains of Injustice

now showing
Wednesday afternoon I shared lunch with a sister
in whispered hopes, then spent time with a new prayer volunteer. Our hours together reminded me how precious life is and how frail we are in our humanity. How frail i am in MY humanity – crying most easily when telling the 'cucumber' story, how in a summer when vines were wilting in my garden, we arrived at the club and received a gift of abundance: cucumbers from the garden of a friend, one of the women working in the club. more

In the 3+ years since whispered hopes began I've been blessed with opportunities to talk about our journey with 300 people, perhaps more. Out of the hundreds, a couple dozen on our prayer team intercede for us on club nights and nine women go into the clubs. I know in my heart many are praying for us, praying for the women and men working in the clubs.

And, I know many are called to do other tasks, their human hearts prepared for different works.

The imagery in 58: speaks to me.

God shines vibrant light from within the darkness. 

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
   and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
   and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
   you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
—Isaiah 58:6-9 more

58: The Film is playing Apr 29 and May 2 at Jacob's Well in Lake Hallie. 6:30pm.

Poverty steals, kills and destroys. Break the chains of injustice. Watch the trailer, then invite a friend. Let your heart be moved.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


"The question came as quietly as soft bird twill on a cool spring wind. Alluring,
easy, seductive. Thankfully we have no money. Thankfully there is no time.
We are exhausted and there is so much that needs to be done..."
Dan Allender, Count the Concatenation

Mother's Day cards provide
birthing kits for women in Liberia
Teamwork Africa
It seems like just yesterday that Peggy and I were sitting on the steps, the carpeted stairway that curves upward to the bedrooms in the home of closest friends. We'd moved away from the people congregating in the kitchen, were talking one to one. She was planning her first trip to Liberia, sharing the concept of sacrificial giving.

Thinking back to the moment – the fear in my heart – I am sure I looked stunned, like a deer in the headlights. I couldn't imagine making that kind of commitment.

As I read Dan Allender's blog this morning – the one he posted March 13th – I am no longer a deer caught in the headlights. His words, Thankfully we have no money, speak to my heart.

Recently, during the planning of a Not For Sale event, I awoke one night startled, my nightmare: that the venue was too small, that the crowd overflowed the auditorium, people stood in the back and filled tables in the adjoining commons ... 1400 people?

I remember the emails in response to this choice of venue: Since this is God's event – I say we go large! followed by I agree, go big or go home! 

I remember the disappointment felt within my broken humanity: an auditorium with lots of empty seats.

I'd do another project with these risk takers for Christ in a heartbeat, no hesitation!

Sacrificial giving is more than choosing to give 10% and live on 90%. Sacrificial giving is striving to invert those numbers, risking wildly, living in a way that says THIS matters.

God connects Dan to Cherry in Africa. God links Peggy to Peter in Liberia. When we show up and open the door, God decides who will fill the seats. Do we really want it any other way?

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, 
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, 
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 
And God is able to bless you abundantly, 
so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, 
you will abound in every good work.  
—2 Corinthians 9:6-8 more


yup! i had to look it up: concatenation
photo credit: Teamwork Africa website

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mama Bird

A few days ago I came across the podcasts from God Loves Great Sex. In the second season women talk about their journeys – both sorrows and joys.

I am amazed at the strength within my friends.

This morning, mama bird is back on my porch, safe and warm in her nest at the top of the column. She and her mate have nested on our front porch since 2009.

The first year eggs hatched but the chicks didn't make it. Boldly the adult birds came back the following spring to build again, and were blessed with hungry, healthy baby birds for two years.

In this unseasonably warm spring – their fourth year on the porch – the nest has blown off the top of the column three times, as though God is somehow saying: Not yet, mama bird, it is too early to lay your eggs. 

Each time the nest blew away, mama bird disappeared for a day or two. This last time she stayed away longer, long enough that I thought she was gone for good.

A few days later a small pile of sticks and grass appeared, then an empty nest ... and this morning she is there to greet us as Harley and I step out the front door for our morning walk.

As I think about my friends, the courageous women who share their stories in podcasts, in blogs and in person, I see trust and hope in Christ.

Like mama bird these women are "... working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love ..." believing God is with us no matter how often that nest seems to blow away.

Our work as God's servants gets validated—or not—in the details. 
People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . 
in hard times, tough times, bad times;
when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; 
working hard, working late, working without eating; 
with pure heart, clear head, steady hand;
in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; 
when we're telling the truth,
and when God's showing his power..."  
— 2 Corinthians 6 more 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Three Little Javelinas

On Day 102 journeying through the New Testament, this passage intrigues me:

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 more

Forgive me if this sounds childish: I immediately thought of the three little pigs. Or rather, The Three Little Javelinas written by Susan Lowell.

illustrated by Jim Harris

The book ties my heart to the years when Morning Glory lived in the desert southwest. 5th-grade-me and 50-something-me adore the javelina building a solid little adobe house and the tip of Coyote's raggedy tail whisking past the window on his way to the tin roof.

The brave little javelina does not hesitate to welcome others: the javelinas who built their homes of tumbleweed and saguaro ribs then show up seeking shelter.

How often do I hesitate to offer shelter to others? How often do I build on the foundation of Christ Jesus using highly flammable materials of judgment and condemnation?

... while the coyote huffs and puffs, follows us through the desert undeterred?


The Three Little Javelinas illustrated by Jim Harris more

This year, I am adding a daily something instead - a chapter a day for 260 days, a journey in the New Testament, beginning to end. Rw Treats 07 Jan 2012 more

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

He Loves Me

The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. —1 Corinthians 2:10 NIV more

Paul, the writer and Christ follower, had once been Saul, a man who reveled in the persecution – the execution – of Christians.

In the ancient world the people of Corinth were known as unruly, hard-drinking, promiscuous. Paul arrives and spends time with them as their pastor, a year and a half. Sometime later he learns that things are not going well, that the people are struggling, falling back into old patterns. Paul writes a letter. Not a scorning demeaning letter, but words that celebrate and proclaim "God is with you!"

God is with you. God is with me. In these past 40 days many things within me were revealed – things worth celebrating and things hidden, dark patterns in my behavior. I am addicted to control. My weapon is manipulation. My mask is perfection. My anger is often passive, manifesting in depression, a belief that I am beyond help.

Paul-who-was-once-Saul proclaims that the Spirit dives into the depths and brings out what God planned – for me, for you. God invites us to put down the old patterns and celebrate. God loves us.

"Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing
through the churches. I'll give the sacred manna to every conqueror;
I'll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name,
your secret new name." —Revelation 2:17 MSG more

God loves us. God calls each of us by a new name.


David Hayward, Naked Pastor God’s Daisy He Loves Me

Monday, April 16, 2012


It is so easy to get lost in the darkness, to experience our bodies as though we are breathing thick black oil instead of fresh clean air, to disengage ourselves from community and crawl into our wounds, forget that the night is nearly over.

When people ask how I came to be here in this place, my story begins with a decade long absence from community — a drought violently begun in 1997 when I broke away from Catholicism, a long dry season that ended ten years later in the open arms of a holy catholic apostolic church, a multi-denominational community, a place where for weeks I did not introduce myself, was known only as the woman who cries.

Yesterday, after a 40 day absence, I returned home. As my heart steps out of the darkness, the tears flow freely.

Breathing the thick black oil of darkness began nearly a year ago, triggered unintentionally by a person who mistook compassion for friendship, a person who cannot hear my pain, a person cruelly misled as plastic me expanded to mask the inadequacy inherent in my humanity.

I allowed the oily plastic mask to distance me from God and disconnect me from true friends, the people who love deeply enough to accept me baggage and all.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. 
So let us put aside the deeds of darkness...  
Romans 13:12 NIV more

I am again the woman who cries.


Listen to Sunday podcast here
Catholic vs. catholic more
David Hayward, Naked Pastor baggage