“These? These are the ones you don’t want around? The ones whose precious angel voices are raised in harmony to worship the God you try and contain in your four walls, your leather-bound pages, your doctrine and dogma? The ones who’ve been driven out, ghosted, forgotten, ignored, muzzled and hog tied with red tape? These ones? These flesh-covered bones carrying impossibly large souls who just refuse…to die. To go away. Door after door has been slammed in their face and like the hemorraghing woman they did not stop reaching for Jesus.”

As our hundreds of voices communed together with The Many in singing “Come, Thou Fount,” my heart mourned for the ones who lost us. Congregations and churches and small groups and committees and ministries and worship bands and faith communities have lost …

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Thirteen woman and one man sit on the steps of a white building. They smile at the camera.

Return from The Avalon

Yesterday it was Friday and sunshine on palm trees. Today it’s Saturday and fat plops of snow on dog poop in the backyard. 

Away for five days on a writer’s retreat in Palm Springs hosted by author Christie Tate, I’ve returned to domestic mundanity in South Central Kansas. 

It’s late January, and today’s typical Kansas weather is an interesting punctuation on the out-of-the ordinary week I’ve had. 

Monday: I hate flying but the reward outweighs the risk and I jet from ICT to PSP. I bring my emotional support dog Scraps, the little salt and pepper, curly-haired terrier I adopted from the animal shelter shortly after choosing sobriety a year and a half ago. A dear friend paid his way on this trip. He’s nine pounds. He whimpers in his soft-sided carrier until we’re airborne. …

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Hello dear. Please sit down. Or let’s take a walk if that feels better. You need some water? How about a bite to eat? It’s important to tend to your basic needs at this moment. Your child just told you something that was very surprising, or maybe a little surprising, or maybe you kinda sorta knew, and feel like you shouldn’t be shocked, but here you are.

Your child is trans. Maybe they told you face to face. Maybe it was a text. Maybe you found out through the grapevine. Maybe you found a note crumpled up in a backpack.

Your child is not who you thought they were. They are not who they were told they were.

I’m not sure that “rules” are really helpful here but you know what? Some structure …

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Woman Smiling with her smiling baby

“Life, the choice of a new generation.”

I remember feeling so proud. I was young, maybe 7 or so, and my big brother Eric had won a Pro Life bumper sticker design contest. He was in college at K-State, and very involved in the Catholic youth ministry there. Thousands of these designs were printed, mimicking the Pepsi campaign the phrase was modeled after.

At some point, my brother was even arrested at an Operation Rescue protest outside the Women’s Health Care Services clinic in Wichita (1991 “Summer of Mercy.”). Only, I never knew the name of the place then. It was just that “evil place” on East Kellogg where Tiller “The Killer” performed abortions. Again, I felt proud. What a sacrifice! What a demonstration of passionate protection of unborn children! 

It was the early …

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Oh, middle school. That dreaded time of adolescence when awkward is the side dish served with every entree. **RECORD SCRATCH** Hold up. What if we looked it again? Reconsidered the potential these precious years hold, rather than just grin (or grimace) and bear it? Yes, these years can be hard, but there’s so much more that’s worth exploring.

In this episode, I talk with my friend Michelle Icard, author of several books on middle school parenting, including her most recent, “14 Talks by Age 14.” (Check out Michelle’s work here.)

Listen, Michelle doesn’t call herself the “Middle School Maven,” but I think it’s a perfect fit. She’s SO in tune with this stage of development, the importance of letting kids “earn their own wisdom,” and why as parents we should be tuning in (strategically) …

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“So often our body image issues stop us from being present.”

What is your body image keeping you from? Swimming freely?  Smiling at strangers? (Once these masks are off.) Wearing a tank top when it’s flipping hot out? Being present in the moment with your friends and family and not obsessing about the cellulite dimples on your thigh?

I loved this conversation with Shanel. It was encouraging and convicting. I now weight what I did at my heaviest while pregnant. And it’s…weird? I’m just wrestling with it. I harbor negative thoughts about my own body, which ultimately spills onto how I think about and treat others. 

Body positivity is perhaps a trendy term thrown around but it’s more than skin deep. It’s soul deep. How to embrace and celebrate the body you’re in SO you can be your …

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