God Says Yes to Me

It’s been a while since I have blogged. It has been a meantime for me – a time of letting the field lie fallow for a season, a time of in-betweens. Somewhere in the muddied middle of the past, somewhere in between the now and the not yet. It has been a season of profound joy and some of the deepest sadness and loss I have ever known. But it has been a journey. We are all on a journey.

Over the past few days I have had the opportunity to think about conflict as a spiritual practice. That may seem like an oxymoron to some or anathema to others, but I am learning that it can be both and neither. Where two or three are gathered, Jesus said, my spirit will be in the midst of them; not only in their joys but in their conflicts.

Seeing conflict as spiritual practice, giving thanks for all the messiness that conflict brings – these can lead us out of the valley of despair into a land of hope. A land that flows with the creativity and possibility and potentialities of all that can be. A place of the ultimate yes, where God says yes to me.

Yes, I have called you to coach and to write and to provide spiritual direction to those who are seeking to know Me more deeply. Yes, you are the good and whole and grace-filled woman I created you to be. Yes, I will lead you on your journey with others along the way to support you. Yes, I will be with you always.

A dear colleague and friend, Deidre Combs taught me this eternal truth that comes out of the wisdom of all the major religious traditions. It says, “When conflict comes, be grateful.” I’ve had a tough time believing the truth of this. But conflict provides disruption to our otherwise peaceful lives. If we are willing to live through it and let it have it’s way with us, we can move from disruption through the messiness of chaos and hopelessness to a place of creativity and potential to a new cosmic “Yes!” from our creator.

What do you need God to affirm in you? What is God saying YES to in your life?

I share this poem because it says more eloquently than I can my experience of God’s cosmic YES.

God Says Yes To Me by Kaylin Haught

 I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes

I asked her if it was okay to be short

and she said it sure is

I asked her if I could wear nail polish

or not wear nail polish

and she said honey

she calls me that sometimes

she said you can do just exactly

what you want to

Thanks God I said

And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph

my letters

Sweetcakes God said

who knows where she picked that up

what I’m telling you is

Yes Yes Yes

“God Says Yes To Me” by Kaylin Haught, from The Palm of Your Hand. © Tilbury House Publishers, 1995.

Day 188: In the company of wise women

Today, I am going to be in the company of wise women. As I grow older, it is becoming more and more important that I make time for such activities.

About a year ago, a friend and I talked about our experiences as women clergy — both good and bad — but mostly about how isolating it can be. We work in solo pastorates, or in campus ministries, or in entrepreneurial ministries — and we rarely have colleagues. If we do have colleagues, they are rarely other women in ministry. We wanted to change that. We wanted to create a space to be together, to share, to love one another, to uphold each other, to be companions for each other on our respective journeys. We started by gathering monthly virtually on ‘GoToMeeting’, and are for the first time gathering together in person. I can’t wait to be in the company of wise women.photo

There is something very special about women’s wisdom that is often forged out of our experience of community. Women, I believe, are more communal creatures than men — we have a much more profound sense of ‘ubuntu’ (the Swahili word which means, “I am, because we are.’) Women have a sense of needing to be in the company of other women with whom we can share our joys and our struggles. We need to know that we are not alone, that the struggles we share are not new, that this too shall pass. When we come together in this way to share our hopes, our fears, our dreams and our struggles, something beautiful happens. We forge community. We are community.

If you need a community like this one, find one — or start the conversation. We need each other, and we need to remember that we are not in this life alone. We need to experience ‘ubuntu’ in the here and now. We need to be in the company of wise women.


Day 148: Goddaughters are the best.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have been over the moon when I my friends Cory and Mitch asked me to be the godmother to their first born child. I was happy, but I didn’t really know what lay ahead for me in this role. I didn’t know who this child would grow up to be. I didn’t know what being a godmother was all about.

Twenty three years later, I’m continuing to realize the ways in which my life has been enriched because of my relationship with this amazing young woman. For ten years we got to live within a short drive/train ride which meant that I got to be a part of her growing up and she got to be a part of mine. I got to go to soccer games and basketball games and music recitals. She got to come visit me in Chicago. I got to go to her high school graduation. We got to conquer big cities together; first, Chicago and now, New York.


Twenty-three years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that I would never have children of my own. I never would have imagined that Katie would be the closest thing to a child that I would have. I never imagined how special that relationship would be and how much of a gift she would be in my life.

She has taught me a lot about life and love and radical acceptance and hospitality. She is one of the best read and smartest people that I know. She is unapologetic about who she is and what that means in a world where queer youth are largest sector of the young homeless population in major cities in the US. She owns the privilege she has had because of the family she was born into, but also questions the dominant paradigms within the gay rights movement. She is an activist and a rocking advocate that I definitely want on my side of a fight. Any fight. And she isn’t afraid to pick a fight — if it’s a fight worth having for all the right reasons.

So today, as I reflect on women’s wisdom, I think of Katie. I remember the lessons that she has taught me, and the blessings that I have received. I am thankful for all that she is to me, and all that she means to the world. I am also thankful that she is who she is so that she can challenge the world and the church to be a place where people like her are welcome — just for who they are.

Thanks, Katie. Goddaughters are the best. And you are the best goddaughter I could have ever asked for.


Day 137: Don’t play small.

“You understand Teacher, don’t you, that when you have a mother who’s an angel and a father who is a cannibal king, and when you have sailed on the ocean all your whole life, then you don’t know just how to behave in school with all the apples and ibexes.” 

― Astrid LindgrenPippi Longstocking

For decades as women, we have been taught that it’s important to behave well. Be a good girl. Play nicely with others. Don’t dominate the conversation. Be liked. Don’t be too strong, too knowledgeable, too smart or too well-spoken, or you will intimidate the boys.

I’m done with all that. I’m going to be exactly who God has created me to be, and I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m not going to shrink so the man that I work for can shine. I’m not going to keep my mouth shut if I have something important to say.

It doesn’t do the world a bit of good for me to be silent about the things that matter. It’s of no value to stop shining so that others can. There are a million stars in the sky and without all that shining, there wouldn’t be a universe.


The institutional church has done much damage to its women clergy because they are uncomfortable with women shining too brightly. They are fine with the dim bulb. But the women I know are 100, or 1000 watts. They can outshine, out-pastor, and out-preach most of the men that I know. And I love male pastors — I’m married to one.

But he doesn’t expect me to be anything other than what God created me to be. In fact, he has told his congregation that I am the better preacher in the family. And after they heard me preach, they concurred.

I have had my “position eliminated” by two 60-something men who were afraid of the wattage that I gave off. This has also happened to my friends who are brilliant and young and smart and gifted. I’m over it. So now I’m on a mission to help other women shine in every way that they can — as pastors/ministers, in their roles as wives and mothers, and in every other roles that they serve. As Marianne Williamson has so beautifully put it,

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

Shine on, sisters. Expect to see that light in others. Our playing small doesn’t serve the world.

Day 121: Celebrate May Day!

You built a factory out there, good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads that the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. (Elizabeth Warren)

By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class. (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

The more that social democracy develops, grows, and becomes stronger, the more the enlightened masses of workers will take their own destinies, the leadership of their movement, and the determination of its direction into their own hands. (Rosa Luxemburg)

‘The Accursed’ is very much a novel about social injustice as the consequence of the terrible, tragic division of classes – the exploitation not only of poor and immigrant workers but of their young children in factories and mills – and as the consequence of race hatred in the aftermath of the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves. (Joyce Carol Oates)

We believe in loving our brothers regardless of race, color or creed and we believe in showing this love by working for better conditions immediately and the ultimate owning by the workers of their means of production. (Dorothy Day)

The most powerful recent innovation in government is when states aggressively use community colleges for retraining. In Michigan, where large numbers of workers were displaced from the manufacturing industry, we created a wildly successful program: No Worker Left Behind.  (Jennifer Granholm)

Most arguments for instituting or raising a minimum wage are based on fairness and redistribution. Even if workers are getting a competitive wage, many of us are deeply disturbed that some hard-working families still have very little. (Christina Romer)

Day 106: How resilient are you?

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.” (Elizabeth Edwards)

I’m not sure I’m all that resilient.

Sure, I can make the best of a bad situation, I can put on a good face. But I get mad about it. I don’t want to have to be resilient. I’d prefer to whine, or feel righteous anger. And I acknowledge the privilege in being able to do that.

Many folks don’t have the choice to be resilient. They have to be resilient. Or they die. Or their children die. Or their hope dies. They don’t have time to whine. They only have time to move forward, work their plan B, and keep their noses to the grindstone. They have to choose to live.


If you are living one meal or one month away from hunger or homelessness, or are already there, you have no time to whine, cry or bemoan your situation. You better start figuring out how to make things better if you can. If you are living with a terminal illness, you don’t have time. You have to live full out in every minute that you have for every day that you have. What most of us forget is that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us.

Life is terminal.

How resilient might we choose to be if we remembered that simple fact? How resilient are you?

Day 93: A dream deferred.

A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.  (Joyce Meyer)

I’m not exactly sure what Joyce Meyer meant by that, but when I think of #2 pencils, I see those standardized “darken the circle” tests that we took as kids, the ones that got scored by machine. I think of getting an education. I think of becoming the person God created me to be. That #2 pencil has gotten me a long way.

Although, I know others that hated those tests — my creative friends whose creativity was never tested, their dreams were never measured, their ability to think outside the box never praised. They hated #2 pencils, and everything that they stood for. Test days were purgatory at best and sheer unadulterated hell at worst.

On Tuesday, I made a new friend. I’m pretty sure she was one of the creative kids, because she is definitely one of the creative adults. We met as I was walking around the quaint little town of Chester, Connecticut and happened into a store called Lark. I didn’t realize that this was the first day that she had opened the doors of this new store to the public, nor did I realize that she hadn’t celebrated her “grand opening” yet.


The beautiful “vegetable ivory” bracelet I bought at Lark.

Lark is not a typical gift store. It is a store whose spirit you can feel the minute you walk in, if you are attuned to listening to the spirit move in your life. She has beautiful pieces from around the world, gathered in a way that ensures the sustainability of the environment, and the economic welfare of communities. She also has artisans that she has “collected” — not only because they make beautiful things, but because they have beautiful stories and amazing spirits.

I was only in her store for a matter of minutes, but I knew that I had met a kindred spirit. We knew each other almost immediately. What a gift. This is for her the culmination of a dream — a dream she only recently realized that she had. She has been an artist for many years working the art shows and street fairs before she ever thought about opening a store.

Today, Suzie is officially opening Lark with all the bells and whistles. It is her official Grand Opening. Congratulations!  If you are anywhere near there, please stop by and meet Suzy and visit this wonderful little place.  If she hasn’t run out, she will give you a little stone to keep with a word that may mean something to you. Listen to what it says to you. I, of course, forgot to pick my stone, but I hope to go back there again soon.

In the meantime, I’ll doodle with my #2 pencil and dream.


Day 92: You get to choose.

“Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.” (Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia)

Thoughts lead to emotions which lead to behaviors. (Translate: I interpret your actions as a slight to me, I feel anger and shame, I act out of that anger/shame to you: I yell at you, take a swing at you, or I leave the room.) It might not seem that I get to choose in that scenario, but I do. I get to choose at two very important steps in the process.

DCF 1.0

First, I get to choose how to interpret any interaction that we have with another. Based on past actions, and how I have interpreted those actions, I determine what interpretation I will make in this situation — rightly or wrongly. Second, I will experience the motions I attach to these interpretations. Finally, regardless of the first two, I get to choose how I respond. Always.

For most of us, this string of thoughts/emotions/actions happens instantaeously and we may not believe that we have control over it at all. But when is that last time, you were angry — really, really furious — and decided not to take a swing at someone? You might have wanted to do that, or cause bodily harm in another way, but because it is simply not socially acceptable to physically lash out at another, and because we have decided that someone who does may not be fit to live around the rest of us, you probably made the choice to respond in a different way.

In my coaching practice, I encourage my clients to interrupt their thought-emotion-behavior sequence, particularly if it isn’t working for them. It’s simple, but it works. You change the thoughts, you change the emotions, you change the response.

What situation always gets under your skin? How might you re-interpret the actions of another in a way that changes your emotional response to it? You are not a slave to your emotions. You get to choose.

Day 91: Stop fooling around.

“A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.”  (Nancy Rathburn)

Women are strong when they choose to be, and when they no other choice. Usually this encompasses about 90% of life.

Most of the women I know are incredibly strong, amazingly loving and they keep the trains running on time. They make the men and other women around them look good. They do their job — at home and at work — without worrying who gets credit. Sometime this serves them well, sometime not. If you are a strong woman working with an insecure male supervisor, look out. It’s likely that you can’t dial it down enough not to be threatening.

So what is to be done?


We have to stop fooling around. Don’t buy into the script that says if you come across as too strong, you will be seen as a “b$*ch.” Be as stong as you need to be. Be who you are. Do what you are called to be.

Men will adjust. It will take time, but it will happen. Just keep smiling.

Sometimes we equate being strong as not being nice. You can be very nice. And you can be strong at the same time. But if you have to choose, be strong, be bold, be authentic.

Stop fooling around.

Day 90: Bounce well.

Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce. (Vivian Komori)

Ok. So I’m not perfect. I set out to write/post a blog post every day for a year. Well, on Saturday, I forgot. Truly. Just plain forgot. I led a half day retreat in New York City, and then we had an event at my husband’s church. I woke up at 4am just to remember that I forgot. As for yesterday, well, it was Sunday, we were traveling, and I had a killer headache. Judge if you must, but nobody died because I failed to post in my blog for two days.

So, just think, you too could fail! We all do it at one point or another. We set out with the best of intentions, we do really, really well, and then life intrudes and we miss the mark. Unless you are a firefighter, or an astrophysicist working on a space mission, or an ER doctor/nurse — most of us do not put others lives in danger if we have an off day. So own it. Just remember to bounce.


The important thing about failure is not whether, when or why it happens — it does. We may feel that we fail at times through no fault of our own. At other times, we know it’s all our fault. It’s not about whose fault it is, it’s about how quickly we get ourselves back on track.

What goals are you shooting for? What New Year’s resolution did you start three months ago that has gone by the wayside? Is it time to pick that back up, dust it off and decide what it would take to make it happen? Call it your spring resolution. It’s not just about setting goals, but setting out what it will take to meet the goals we set. Do we have the social support that we need? Do we have the tools? What do we need to put in place to make success more likely? What would it take to do that?

It’s about this time — three months in — when we can no longer achieve our goals through sheer power of will. We can usually make it through the first 90 days, or close to it. This is why when you are beginning in a recovery program for substance abuse, they will tell you that you need to make 90 meetings in 90 days. You need to exercise that “will” muscle. You need to establish a habit. You need to create community with others in your AA meetings, so that they will notice that you are not there. If you are serious about changing your life, you need to make 90 in 90.

What do you want to change in your life? Where do you need to bounce?

So it’s not important whether or not you fail. It’s more important that you get back up and start again. So here goes. I’m back on track. Keep reading. More wisdom to come.