The Strange (Old) World of Women’s “Evil” Emotions

There is a strange “new” trend happening among mostly Reformed Theology circles.

Note: You will see me talk A LOT about Reformed Theology in the coming months and here’s why- 1) I was immersed in it for a few years by force and saw how truly flawed it was and 2) I think at this point in time, it’s starting to become the loudest voice, not only in Evangelical circles but also in the GOP. And for the good people in both of those circles, they are missing how truly not good one particular brand of Reformed Theology is.

I put new in quotes because the truth is it’s actually the same humdrum that’s been happening since men figured out how to hold women down via the Eve=sin Garden of Eden narrative.

It’s this idea that having feelings and emotions is wrong–sinful, even.

Study this Twitter account:

Or, this one (which is actually calling out the others):

I could argue that men have always been pretty uncomfortable with women’s feelings.

Maybe it’s biology or maybe it’s societal expectations. Who knows? Many (not all) men seem to have quite the hang up with emotions, especially, for some odd reason, those men who claim Christ as King.

Read the following quotes from They are from our earliest Church leaders, many whom, unbeknownst to the lay Christian, we get our belief-systems from (such as Augustine):

Church Doctors and Fathers

  • [For women] the very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame. —Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian (c150-215) Pedagogues II, 33, 2
  • In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die… Woman, you are the gate to hell. —Tertullian, the “father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)
  • Woman is a temple built over a sewer. —Tertullian
  • Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God. —Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430)
  • Woman does not possess the image of God in herself but only when taken together with the male who is her head, so that the whole substance is one image. But when she is assigned the role as helpmate, a function that pertains to her alone, then she is not the image of God. But as far as the man is concerned, he is by himself alone the image of God just as fully and completely as when he and the woman are joined together into one. —Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430)

Years and years ago, I was close friends with a guy I had known for years.

The friendship never amounted to much, but I do remember a particular night when sitting in my room, we began to discuss our childhoods. Never before had this person opened up to me about what it was like to struggle with some pretty heavy stuff at such a young age.

Talking through some of the past, my friend began to cry. Really cry. Like, deep, guttural bawling.

And I let my friend cry because that’s what friends do.

However, this would later be a person who had huge issues with my emotions. This friend was uncomfortable with neediness and feelings. I’m still not sure why.

To this person, crying was weak, and neediness was pathetic.

I get it now. I’m old enough to understand that we all have our “things.” But back then, I couldn’t understand what was wrong with wanting or needing someone. What was so bad about having emotions? What was so gross about feelings?

To be honest, being told not to feel my feelings reminded me of my childhood.

When I was a little girl, I really wasn’t allowed to express my feelings. If something in our home was bothering me and I let my parents know, I was told “this is how all families are,” or “you’re too sensitive.”

Deep inside, I knew neither of those things was true. Yes, I knew all families had flaws. They’re full of humans. And I knew that I had a tendency to feel things deeply. But I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that.

Needless to say, between my childhood and my teen relationships, I went into adulthood with all kinds of mixed-up emotions regarding emotions.

The irony.

Was I supposed to feel? Was I supposed to stuff it down? Was it weak to have strong emotions? Should I feel x, y, or z? Should I have an opinion about this or that?

When a woman isn’t allowed to have genuine emotions, she is left feeling confused, alone and bitter.

Thank God I eventually began to soak up the actual words and actions of Jesus, as opposed to only trusting what those at the pulpit said about him.

Take, for example, his encounter with the woman who washed his feet with her tears. It’s a beautiful picture of a woman displaying every ounce of genuine emotion and being met with compassion and understanding:

Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”

40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”

“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.

41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”

43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”

“That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?”

50 And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7, NLT

Here’s the cool thing about this story: Jesus does NOT say Simon is a terrible person. He knows Simon’s story and knows that Simon can only operate from what he knows.

Jesus also doesn’t tell the woman what a terrible person she is. He tells her she has a lot of sins, yes, but he also tells her that her faith–in other words, believing that she could come to Jesus and express love to him with no fear–is what saved her.

Does it ever, anywhere in the Bible, say the woman with the alabaster jar stopped sinning? Does it ever anywhere in the Bible say ANYONE ever stopped sinning? No!

But back to the story. This woman clearly had strong emotions. She was broken. Most likely she was a prostitute, and we know this because that was about the only way for an unmarried woman to make a lick of money back then.

She needed Jesus…and Jesus came through.

There isn’t a single place in the Bible where we are told not to feel our feelings.

But I suspect there are reasons why we are being told not to now.

I think our new world of easily accessible information about the past and how bad it really was has got a lot of powerful White, “Christian” men very afraid.

They are losing power, and they know it.

Losing power means losing the illusion of safety and certainty.

Read the following quotes made my men in power during the Reformation (again, from

Protestant Reformers

  • The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes. —Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)
  • No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise. —Martin Luther
  • Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children. —Martin Luther
  • Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her proper bounds, is forced back to her own position. She had, indeed, previously been subject to her husband, but that was a liberal and gentle subjection; now, however, she is cast into servitude. —John Calvin, Reformer (1509-1564),

Lest you think this is old stuff, compare these to modern day men, such as the abhorrent Doug Wilson, a “founder” of Classical Christian Education:

A final aspect of rape that should be briefly mentioned is perhaps closer to home. Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence. When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us...

“In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.”

Doug Wilson, Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 1999), 86-87.

And in John Piper’s “Valuing Biblical Manhood,” Piper writes:

Men are more properly attracted to the Christian life when it does not appear that he must become effeminate to be a Christian. (Dominance of female leadership undermines the proper sense of a man’s call to be a leader, protector, and provider.)…

A wartime mindset and a wartime lifestyle will feel more natural. And that is what the world needs from us—a readiness to lay our lives down for a great and global cause making all the sacrifices necessary to push the word of Christ into the most inhospitable places.

John Piper

This is but a small snippet of the way many Reformed men think. And some are willing to flat out call emotion a sin.

Look at Joe Rigney’s, “The Enticing Sin of Empathy,” which was mentioned in the Twitter above.

Writing a C.S. Lewis Screwtape Letters-type article, Rigney tongue-in-cheek says:

Now, sufferers have been placing such impossible demands on others from time immemorial. In response, our armies have fought for decades to twist the Enemy’s virtue of compassion into its counterfeit, empathy. Since we introduced the term a century ago, we’ve steadily taught the humans to regard empathy as an improvement upon compassion or sympathy.

Joe Rigney, writing facetiously as a “bad guy” who feels empathy for others

What Rigney is saying throughout the article is that there is a difference between compassion and empathy (there isn’t), and that to have empathy is sinful (it’s not).

When human beings are allowed to feel emotion and empathy, we are moved to change.

We are forced to walk in the shoes of another, and that walking makes us more like Jesus.

But does that come at a price?

Yes, if you believe that someone gaining power means you lose something.

Yes, if you think that you should have freedoms that someone else shouldn’t be allowed to have.

And yes, if you believe that keeping your “safety and certainty” is more important than someone else having the freedom to choose his own path.

If you’re tempted to use the Bible to prove me wrong on this, don’t bother.

Return to the story of Jesus washing the woman’s feet and try to find any smidgen of evidence that Jesus lost any power at all by feeling compassion, or empathy, for this woman.

You won’t find it.

Be like Jesus, Christian men. I know you can do it.

At least, I hope so.

See you soon,


Do You Even Realize that You Matter?

This week has been crazy busy.

I just opened my snow cone trailer for the first time, what I’m hoping and believing will be the first of many summers to come.

It’s been a fun–and messy–journey.

I was reminded the other day as I was flipping through my journey about the way the last few years have prepared me for this moment.

I’ve done a lot of soul work. And I’m really proud of that.

This was a particularly sweet entry I found in 2019’s journal:

Never could I have guessed what the next four years would bring. I imagine none of us did.

But through the trials of COVID, suicide, skin cancer and many losses in my life, I came to believe something very important. It’s probably the greatest accomplishment of my life.

I came to believe I matter to the Creator of the Universe. Really mattered.

Not just that I was tolerated, or that he fulfilled some age-old mantra to save all mankind despite the fact that he can’t stand us.

No, I came to believe that he delights in his creation and that we really mean something–everything–to him.

I’ll talk about this and more in my Wednesday Wisdom video series.

Here is my first video in the series. Enjoy!

So, what do you think about yourself? Who are you? And what do you believe to be true about the nature of God? I’d love to hear from you. Send me a message via the contact page, comment below or connect with me on Facebook or Instagram.

See you soon,


What If the Tree Says Something about You

*I’m running the snow cone stand solo on opening weekend, so forgive me for pulling into my drafts and grabbing this piece. Hope it’s something to chew on. Please see my disclaimer page for a list of disclaimers.

“Sometimes it takes a crazy person to see the world clearly.”

~Shannon Alder, most quoted author on goodreads, from “The Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Bible” 

What does The Tree of Knowledge represent?

As Christians, especially Christian women, we are taught to check our emotions, reason, and intellect at the door, all in the name of faith. 

But why? 

Who told us to leave our God-given wisdom and common sense at the door of our beliefs?

According to most of our ancestors, the Bible did. Our fear of knowledge appears to begin right at The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, a symbol so misunderstood, it’s terrifying. 

We don’t even truly know the history of the story, and yet, most Christian beliefs about sin, redemption, the role of men and women, the Earth, eternity, gaining knowledge–everything!--results from this one story.

We will get to that. But first, I want to talk about good versus evil.

Forgive me for using Wikipedia, but at its most basic level, it’s the easiest go-to for what I’m about to show you. I’ve fact-checked all of this, but please feel free to do so on your own. 

Carefully read the following excerpt from the Wikipedia page: Good and evil. I’ve bolded some important parts worth mulling over:

History and etymology [of good vs. evil]

Every language has a word expressing good in the sense of “having the right or desirable quality” (ἀρετή) and bad in the sense “undesirable”. A sense of moral judgment and a distinction “right and wrong, good and bad” are cultural universals.

Ancient world

The philosopher Zoroaster simplified the pantheon of early Iranian gods into two opposing forces… which were in conflict.

This idea developed into a religion which spawned many sects, some of which embraced an extreme dualistic belief that the material world should be shunned and the spiritual world should be embraced. Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions which teach that gnosis (variously interpreted as enlightenment, salvation, emancipation or ‘oneness with God’) may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence… and diligently searching for wisdom by helping others.

Similarly, in ancient Egypt, there were the concepts of Ma’at, the principle of justice, order, and cohesion, and Isfet, the principle of chaos, disorder, and decay, with the former being the power and principles which society sought to embody where the latter was such that undermined society…

Classical world

In Western civilization, the basic meanings of κακός and ἀγαθός are “bad, cowardly” and “good, brave, capable”, and their absolute sense emerges only around 400 BC, with pre-Socratic philosophy…Morality in this absolute sense solidifies in the dialogues of Plato, together with the emergence of monotheistic thought… The idea was further developed in Late Antiquity by Neoplatonists, Gnostics, and Church Fathers.

This development from the relative or habitual to the absolute is also evident in the terms ethics and morality both being derived from terms for “regional custom”, Greek ήθος and Latin mores, respectively.

Medieval period

According to the classical definition of Augustine of Hippo, sin is “a word, deed, or desire in opposition to the eternal law of God.”

Many medieval Christian theologians both broadened and narrowed the basic concept of Good and evil until it came to have several, sometimes complex definitions such as:

  • a personal preference or subjective judgment regarding any issue which might be earn praise or punishment from the religious authorities
  • religious obligation arising from Divine law leading to sainthood or damnation
  • a generally accepted cultural standard of behavior which might enhance group survival or wealth
  • natural law or behavior which induces strong emotional reaction
  • statute law imposing a legal duty

I hope that you will read and reread the above passage, digging into it for a moment to get a sense of how the Christianity we believe today was meshed together, formed and molded by human hands into something that might have been unrecognizable to the earliest of Christians. 

In fact, the first followers of “The Way,” those who would have had direct contact with the living Jesus, didn’t fully understand his divinity until years later and never believed that the Jewish law should cease being followed! And these were the people who had lived, talked and walked with Christ! 

If you’ll also take a moment to go back and reread Genesis 2, I believe you’ll see so much of the Creation Story through fresh eyes. If you take each verse piece by piece, reading and pondering the story as if it is just that, an allegory, you will see the beautiful moral that lies within it. 

Ancient scholars often wrote about opposites as a symbol meaning “everything.”

Seen this way, The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil for them represented everything good and bad. Partaking in it meant never being satisfied. 

To never be satisfied will kill you. 

Our pride never wants us to be content. It is constantly seeking more and never satisfied with enough. “Did God really say…” begins every fool’s question, right?


Study the following passage from Exodus 20:

[Exodus 20] Then God gave the people all these instructions:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

3 “You must not have any other god but me.

4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.

7 “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You must not murder.

14 “You must not commit adultery.

15 “You must not steal.

16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”

18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.

19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”

20 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”

21 As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was. 

I wanted you to read the Ten Commandments with fresh eyes because if you see them as the benefit they are, as opposed to something that is meant to hold society down or cause us to fear burning in Hell for eternity, I think you’ll understand how pride gets in the way of life and makes us fearful of ourselves, others and God. 

Note a couple of things: God didn’t say He made these laws to test people so they’d be afraid. Moses said that.

We have this really strange way of applying this overall rule to the Bible that God ultimately says everything in it, and I would argue that’s simply not true! For example, there’s a verse in Psalms that says, Happy is the man who smashes babies’ heads against rocks. Let’s please not start a rumor that God said that! 

Second: If you are a Christian, you should understand that God walked as flesh to cover our humanity. Love covers a multitude of sins. We technically do not have to follow a single, solitary law, except the law Jesus left us with, which was: Love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. We are free from Earthly demands. But if you reread these ten commandments, what you’ll find is that practicing the two most important laws upholds the rest of them by default. 

By loving God and loving others, you are living the Ten Commandments, though imperfectly–because we are ALL imperfect! 

Happy Sunday, y’all,


Nurturing a Child’s Value Is as Important as Educating Her Mind

SUPER late night Wednesday wisdom:

I drove away from a place I worked for four years this afternoon, ending a career with children I had in one form or another off and on since 1999.

Education is fickle, subjective and often futile. Trends change, what’s true depends on the person, culture and religion, and oftentimes, we spend years training for one path, only to walk another. One man’s education is another man’s Tom-foolery, if you ask me.

But I didn’t get into teaching for the educating, anyway.

I love literature and history, but the real reason I wanted to teach was because as a child, it was my teachers who made me feel valuable when I needed it most.

One was a dance teacher who made me believe I was one of the top in the class. (I have no doubt I wasn’t.)

Three were English teachers who instilled a great love of reading in me. They told me I was a writer, and they stood by me as I won awards that they had nominated me for.

One was a showchoir director who loved me enough to call me a leader — and to tell me I was killing myself and needed to stop. I didn’t listen to her, but at least she cared enough to tell me.

Countless other teachers taught me through time and effort that I was worthy of something better. I mattered. I belonged.

This was my goal, too, for each child to leave my classroom believing they were valuable simply because they were here.

Today, I left knowing I accomplished what I came to do. And now it’s on to the next journey.

Y’all know I love a new adventure. 🙂#hippieatheart

If Your God Is Mean, Are You Sure He’s Jesus?

*Please read my disclaimer page for a list of disclaimers.

What is atonement theory?

“I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land… I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of ‘stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.’”

Frederick Douglass

There comes a point in your faith journey where, unless you’re living under a rock or within the confines of a cult, someone will inevitably question your faith. They will want to know why you believe what you do, and you will need to come up with a valid answer. 

When I write that I struggled with a belief in God, that’s not entirely true. It was never hard for me to believe in an Intelligent Designer; it is my opinion that one only needs common sense to understand that living things must be created by something, somehow, although I fully respect a person’s right not to believe.  

I didn’t struggle with believing in a historical Jesus, either, because the history of the Catholic Church is well written, and, give or take a few decades, takes up right where Paul and the disciples left off. 

No, I didn’t struggle with belief in God and/or Jesus…

I struggled with believing what I’d been taught about God’s character and nature. 

Various people groups throughout history also have struggled with what they’ve been taught about Judeo-Christianity:

  • Muslims refused to accept a peaceful Christianity during the Crusades because they were being killed for practicing the faith of their choice (also, the Crusades were not exclusively fought against Muslims, but that’s a story for another day).
  • Native Americans struggled to adapt to Christian Americans because White Americans were stripping them of their nation, identity and heritage.
  • Slaves in the South (and North) sang Spirituals because the God of White Slaveholders was vengeful, harsh and punishing. Their Jesus was not. 
  • People groups all over the world have fought against Christian missionaries proselytizing in their countries because oftentimes they cause more harm than good.

People struggle to reconcile a “good and loving God” with what they are subsequently taught about him.

For example, in the throes of writing this study, I turned on YouTube one afternoon while getting dressed and clicked a video from a preacher that is fairly well-known in Reformed theological circles. 

Something about him has always rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe it’s the way he pretends to know the state of each person’s soul. Maybe it’s the way he attempts to make others feel ashamed for being human. 

But most likely, it’s the way he misinterprets very clear scripture. 

The well-known Reformed preacher quoted this passage during his sermon. It comes from the Book of Ezekiel: 

[Ezekiel 36] 22 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. 23 I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord. 24 For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.

25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

28 “And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will cleanse you of your filthy behavior. I will give you good crops of grain, and I will send no more famines on the land. 30 I will give you great harvests from your fruit trees and fields, and never again will the surrounding nations be able to scoff at your land for its famines. 31 Then you will remember your past sins and despise yourselves for all the detestable things you did. 32 But remember, says the Sovereign Lord, I am not doing this because you deserve it. O my people of Israel, you should be utterly ashamed of all you have done! 


Notice in this passage that the people do nothing. God does it all.

And yet, this preacher told his impressionable flock that unless the congregation put their filth away, stopped worshiping “idols” and started following God’s decrees and regulations FIRST, God was not going to dwell among them, giving the good things he promised. 

But this is the OPPOSITE of what that scripture passage says!

The scripture is clear that God in his mercy alone turned the people’s hearts towards him. There was zero mention of the Israelites doing anything to change their own behavior, but God specifically said He was doing good things despite the fact that they were behaving shamefully! (Not to mention, this passage is centuries upon centuries old, so there’s no way to tell if God is speaking to any of us in the modern day.)

It was God’s good gifts that cleaned the Israelites’ spirits. Not the other way around. 

This is the singular facet of modern-day Christianity that I believe to be the tragic flaw. The “first you do, then God does,” mentality isn’t Biblical at all. 

To make matters worse, preachers often simultaneously proclaim the “saving grace of Jesus” as the only thing that can wash us clean, so congregations all across the world are caught in a catch-22 of Salvation, the BUT-theory, as we talked about a few days ago. 

 It’s all about Jesus, BUT… (you must do A, B, and C to get to Heaven).

God’s grace is sufficient, BUT…

Jesus was our Savior, BUT…

He died for all, BUT…

And after that “but” comes all the things that Christian leaders say we should do, but they can’t even seem to do themselves. 

That one word, BUT, has halted more Christian conversions than any other word on the planet.  

The funny/sad/ironic fact about this reasoning is that it really damages the ransom theory Christians love to latch onto. 

  • Because Jesus either paid a ransom because we couldn’t pay it ourselves, or he didn’t, right? 
  • He either died to save us because we can’t save ourselves, or he didn’t, right? 
  • We are either bought at a high price because we’re that valuable or we aren’t, right? 

I get where the ransom theory came from. The disciples were making clear connections to the sacrificial lambs of their religion, the burning and killing of flesh that they thought “satisfied” God’s wrath the same way it did the pagan gods. They didn’t understand the point of sacrifice at all, and quite frankly, they hated doing it. It was time consuming, dreadful and confusing. 

John the Baptist called Jesus the “lamb of God” and Jesus himself said he “lays down his life” willingly. That’s the textbook definition of sacrifice. 

But what we don’t really understand, not one of us, is why the sacrifice had to be made in the first place

We make guesses and claims, but none of us really knows for sure because we are not God. If we’re going to take the Bible literally, then once again, it was God Himself who said His Ways and Thoughts are Higher than our own. 

So how did we come to view Jesus’s death as a substitution for ours? 

Well, surprisingly, atonement theory was not the original belief about the Crucifixion! 

Read the following excerpt:

“In the dominant American Protestant (and Catholic) narrative of Christianity, Jesus died for our sins in our place–a substitution.  This view is often called “substitutionary atonement.”  It comes as a surprise to many (if they ever learn of it) that this view of Christ’s death is less than a thousand years old, which means Christianity existed for over a thousand years without any Christians holding this view!  A theologian named Anselm of Canterbury first wrote about in 1097.  Anselm wrote that God’s justice requires someone to pay for sin and only a human death can pay that price.  Since humans are sinful, only a perfect human would do, so God came as Jesus Christ to die and pay the penalty for our sin.”

~ There’s More Than One Way to Understand the Death of Jesus, Park Hill CC 

Bottom line: it could very well be that the Jewish people were simply practicing sacrifice as they saw it being done around them by pagan nations. 

Or, they were following the lead of their great leaders, Moses, Abraham, etc. 

Or, God really did ask them to sacrifice helpless animals, as a picture, a reminder, a symbol, a foreshadowing, of what He would do for us in the future. 

This much should be clear to any Christian who has studied history: Christ died on the cross, and unless thousands of people who saw him after his death are crazy, he rose again. 

And I believe he was able to do that because he was God in the flesh. 

I also believe that his greatest commandment is to love Him (God) with all my heart, soul and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. 

Here is the coolest part of that seems-so-easy-but-really-isn’t-easy-at-all command. If I love my neighbor as myself–celebrating him as I would like to be celebrated, validating her as I would like to be validated, caring for them and listening to their hurts, habits and hang-ups as I would like to be listened to myself, then I am actually loving God with all my heart, soul and mind! You can’t have one without the other!

Chew on that, folks. We don’t do that nearly enough as we walk this whole Christ-following thing.

See you soon,


Scars and All

Been thinking a lot about scars lately, both the inner and the outer kind.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had my fair share this year. Maybe it’s because a few old wounds keep popping back up, and that makes me uncomfortable. Maybe it’s because change creates tiny paper cuts that hurt way more than a deep gash. Who knows. Scars aren’t pretty; I do know that much.

I still get a lot of stares from people who have never seen me before.

On two separate occasions this week, an older man and a young boy asked about my facial scar. I found it funny that they were either past or before the age when most people would be too shy to speak. But they couldn’t help it; they simply were being human.

Sometimes scars are painful, sometimes just a painful reminder, and sometimes both.

But when we remember that we all have them–that we’re all human–it makes living with them a little easier. I was reminded today that it’s Love that changes lives, not law. It’s Jesus that changes hearts, not Paul (Can I be brutally honest? The church’s obsession and worship of Paul has got to go! #sorrynotsorry). It’s merciful balm that heals scars, not constant reminders of humanity’s ability to cause them. We are all human, and we know what we’re capable of.

What we need to hear is Christ Crucified, not Humanity Doomed.

The old man who asked about my scar… he told me his wife received a similar one in a car accident. He asked me about my scar because he wanted me to feel less alone. I had a similar opportunity today to share best wishes with a sweet girl who is about to go through a major life change. We have similar scars. I wanted her to feel less alone.

I wanted her to know we are all human, and maybe I was reminding myself of that, too, that we are loved and valued, scars and all. 🙂


Snow Cones and Grandmas

Sunday thoughts, anyone?…

I’ve not only been surrounded by literal death the last three years, but also, I’ve died my own thousand tiny ‘deaths’ as well.

One day I’ll tell you all about it, but for now, let’s just say I’ve grown comfortable with knowing that at any moment life might change, and I better get on with the act of not regretting too much of it while I still have it to live.

Today as I made two new favorite cones, “Granny’s Banana Pudding” and “Squirrel’s German Chocolate Cake,” I felt the presence of my and Clayford’s grandmothers around me.

They were women who lived their days well, and while they weren’t perfect and probably had a few regrets, they worked hard, loved hard and laughed hard.

It’s been over a decade since they passed, and in that strange way time flows, it seems like both eternity and yesterday since I’ve seen them, all at the same time.

You better believe if I’d bank on anything, it’s that I serve a God who created an Earthly family with a Heavenly intent.

Granny and Squirrel would be so proud of what they left behind, but more than that, I am so proud to honor them…and I can’t wait to see them again.

See you soon,


But I Guess We Just Won’t Talk about That

Today I ran into the person who is taking my position at school next year.

He walked right past me, but I followed him, said hello, shook his hand and told him who I was, welcoming him to the school.

The way he looked at me told me everything I needed to know about what has been said.

But I guess we just won’t talk about that.

It’s funny- the expectations we have for things so often fail us, don’t they?

And yet, we continue to set them, time and time again.

Why? Why do we torture ourselves that way?

We want to be hopeful, maybe.

We want to believe the best.

We don’t want to seem pessimistic.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that most of the expectations I’ve set about anything: a job, a marriage, a city, a business, a life–anything, really–have left me largely disappointed.

But I guess we just won’t talk about that.

Do I expect too much? Maybe so.

Are my hopes too high? I’ve never been accused of having my head in the clouds, but I guess you never know.

Or is it simply that, as human beings, we’re used to the whole, in the words of the late, great Aaliyah, “dust yourself off and try again” mentality?

I am opening a new business soon. This morning, during a conversation with my mom, she made a comment about my past in regard to my career that hurt me.

If I’d allowed it to, this comment would have taken me down a dark road of shame and self-condemnation.

Instead, I sat with it, repeated it, then brushed it off.

I also thought about the many times I’ve made similar comments to my own children.

I’ve sometimes made my children feel awful about themselves, and why, I don’t know.

Not thinking, I guess.

Or maybe fear. Fear has been wrapped around me since birth.

And truth be told, I am a little afraid. I’m afraid that my new business will fail.

I’m afraid I’m not good at what I want to do.

I’m afraid that I’ll get bored or lose passion and give up.

I’m afraid.

But every day, I’m learning to sit in my fear.

I’m learning to put it in my pocket, allow it to stay there, place my hand in there every once in a while, and hold it, then forget about it and move on.

And I’m understanding that becoming who I was always meant to be is so much harder when I’ve spent years pretending to be someone I’m not.

I don’t know what it looks like to be “successful” by the world’s standard. I’ve never made a decent living my entire life. If not for my husband, my children and I would be living in cardboard boxes.

Speaking of my husband, he’s been the most supportive, wonderful partner a girl could have. And he’s cheered me on no matter what I’ve tried.

Partly, I’ve been placing more important things than cash at the forefront of my life. Raising children, making a home, building memories and experiences.

But also, I’ve been holding onto fear of failure. Perfectionism doesn’t look perfect. It actually looks like a giant, procrastinating mess. I don’t want to mess up.

I’m ready to have both: the life and the financial reward. The worldly success and the inner peace. I truly believe both can reside in my heart, head and home.

There are lots and lots of people–Christians, especially–who do not believe we can live our best life here on Earth. They even make it difficult, if not impossible, for others to do so, and have been doing this since the beginning of time.

But for now, I guess we just won’t talk about that.

See you soon,


‘You Ever Thought about Just How Long Eternity Is?

Does the Bible talk about eternal torture?

I sometimes ask my friends a question that I refuse to answer for them: 

Who is going to hell? 

The first answers are usually, “The people who don’t believe in God,” or some variation of that.

Someone says, “Well, what does it mean to believe? The Bible says even demons believe.” 

Another answers, “I think it means to put your trust in Jesus.” 

Always, another friend asks, “What does that mean?” 

This is where our conversation starts to split. Some say, “It means to believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again.” Easy enough, you’d think. 

Others say, “You have to believe that and live your life a certain way,” which usually leads to, “How do we know how to live our life the right way?” and the good little Christian women start talking about rap music and R-rated movies. (Kendrick Lamar and Fifty Shades of Gray will send you straight to hell.)

The room grows quiet. Then, someone squeaks out, “But what about the people around the world who practice other religions? That’s a whole lot of people going to Hell!”

This causes a bit of silence. There’s another divide. 

Eventually, someone speaks up. “God reveals Himself to them in other ways,” they say. “It’s not for humans to know why a good God chooses for a humongous majority of His own creation to burn for eons and eons in eternal Hell,” another replies. (They don’t usually word it like that; I did it for emphasis.) 

Inevitably, some brave friend of mine will finally pipe up and admit that maybe there is no Hell, or if there is one, souls don’t burn there forever, or it’s possibly not full of the people we’ve been told it will be full of. 

It is no surprise that we dwell among Christians, especially in certain denominations, who believe that at the end of time, many people will be sent to Hell. 

However, very few people realize that an eternal Hell was not a concept of the Jews, nor of the early Church!

Even so, to play devil’s advocate, let’s look at a few verses where Jesus spoke on Hell:

[Matthew 18] 7 “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. 8 So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. 

Jesus on “hell”

In some form or another these verses appear in a couple of the Gospels, so as you can see, Jesus didn’t speak much on a literal Hell. In fact, unless we’re suddenly going to start taking literally the words of a man who almost never spoke that way, he never talked about a literal hell. 

The “eternal” used in these verses comes from the Greek word aión, which means, a space of time, an age, or a cycle. 

Does a space or a cycle sound eternal? 

No, which is why the Catholic Church believes in a place called Purgatory.  

What is Purgatory? According to MW, it means a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven.

Purgatory is foundational to the Catholic belief-system, and since they are the “original” Church, we have to at least acknowledge that to them it truly exists, even if we don’t agree. 


Now let’s take our study to arguably the most frightening book of the Bible, one many preachers refuse to touch with a ten foot pole, the Book of Revelation:

[Revelation 21] Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

8 “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” 

John in Revelations

First off, we could all fall under the category of sinners listed in verse 8, right? I mean, in some way, we have all been cowardly, unbelieving, corrupt, murderous, immoral, relied on things other than Christ (like pharmaceuticals–that was considered a form of witchcraft), worshiped idols or lied. 

If this verse was taken literally and Jesus hadn’t conquered death by showing us we would rise again, we’d all be heading towards a fiery furnace. 

But note that John calls this a death. 

Not burning for eternity. Not eternal conscious torment. 

I am super-humble in my belief that I have not a single clue what happens when we die. I don’t know how I possibly could; I haven’t died yet. 

I’m also super-clear in my belief that we should never “add” to the Bible what isn’t there. 

The fact is that eternal torture isn’t mentioned at all in the Bible. 

Eternal punishment, eternal destruction, eternal death, maybe, but never eternal torture. 

Read the following passage from “The Case for Annihilationism,” by Greg Boyd. (His website, is an amazing resource for understanding the Bible in a new light!)

Now, Scripture certainly teaches that the wicked are punished eternally, but not that the wicked endure eternal punishment. The wicked suffer “eternal punishment”(Mt 25:46), “eternal judgment” (Heb 6:2) and “eternal destruction” (2 Thess 1:9) the same way the elect experience “eternal redemption” (Heb 5:9, 9:12). The elect do not undergo an eternal process of redemption. Their redemption is “eternal” in the sense that once the elect are redeemed, it is forever. So too, the damned do not undergo an eternal process of punishment or destruction. But once they are punished and destroyed, it is forever. Hell is eternal in consequence, not duration. The wicked are “destroyed forever” (Ps 92:7), but they are not forever being destroyed.

“The Case for Annihilationism” Greg Boyd (bold mine)

I don’t know if God annihilates His creation or not. I tend to lean towards universal redemption and the idea that God will redeem what He created. You know, the whole “do something new.” Nevertheless, this is but one example of the reality that we can never be “certain” of anything the Bible says. 

A lot of what we believe comes from one important question we hold a personal answer to:

Who does God love?

Let’s look at a verse I didn’t include yesterday: 

[Romans 9] 25 Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea,

“Those who were not my people,

    I will now call my people.

And I will love those

    whom I did not love before.”

“Paul” quoting Hosea in Romans

(If you haven’t read Hosea before, I highly encourage it. It’s right up there with Ruth and Boaz as a romance for the ages. Author Francine Rivers’s Redeeming Love is based on the story of Hosea and his prostitute wife, Gomer, and it is so good! So good.)

“Those who were not my people…” We can safely assume God means anyone who wasn’t part of the nation of Israel. 

But just to be sure, let’s check out a few verses about who God loves and sent Jesus to “save:” 

Luke 3:6 And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.

John 7:2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him.

1 Corinthians 15:21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

1 Timothy 2:3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

1 John 2:2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

1 Timothy 4:10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. 

Sorta gives you a new perspective on those “sheep,” doesn’t it?

For years I struggled with the belief that I wasn’t “chosen.” Not by my parents (they would have treated me better and stayed together if they had really wanted me), not by my peers (I never felt like I measured up), not by my husband (he only married me because I got pregnant) and definitely not by God. 

I so seriously need you to understand how incredibly awful the feeling of being unwanted, unloved and rejected really is.

It is a feeling so many people painfully endure, and often, it is because the Church that is supposed to be a beacon of Grace and light is instead a harbinger of hate and judgment.

Every single atrocity leveled on humanity has been borne from refusing to accept or purposely rejecting another group. 

When a person or group is not accepted, they are often mistreated, and bitterness festers and spreads.

Rejection was deeply embedded into my body and soul. My mind could not fathom a life in which someone actually chose me. 

Again, I’m not a psychologist, but the weird thing I’ve noticed about people who don’t feel loved is that some become desperate, others overachieve or are accommodating, and still others grow super negative and judgmental. 

The saying, “a really good judge of others’ actions and a really good lawyer of your own,” could have certainly applied to me because I was absolutely rigid in my beliefs about the way people should behave, Christians should believe, parents should act, husbands should love, etc. 

But my own behavior, beliefs, actions, and ability to love wasn’t my fault at all, I thought. I blamed everyone else for my problems, and my bitterness pushed people away, as opposed to drawing them in.

It wasn’t until I began to study the history of my faith that I saw the Holy Scriptures in a new light. I realized I was indeed loved by an Almighty Creator who did, in fact, choose me because He chooses to show mercy to all. 

I understood that I was not only semi-in control of my own life, but that I also had the power within me, given by the Holy Spirit through Christ, to do all things God purposed me to do. 

It’s only when we know God’s love for ourselves that we can show God’s love to others, and then grow God’s love on the Earth. 

Love has to come in that order because that’s the way it was set up to exist. God is the very act of Love. Any love we have comes from Him, our Higher Power. 

And we know love by the good fruit it produces, no matter whether that good fruit is labeled “Christianity” or not.  

That last sentence I typed right there? It makes people super-duper uncomfortable. (I had to add a duper to the super for emphasis!) People get real hung up on that whole, “I am the way the truth and the life,” thing that Jesus said. (John 14:6)


Since we’re looking at verses in a whole new light this month, let me leave you today with something new to chew on. 

[Isaiah 45] 23 …I have sworn by my own name;

    I have spoken the truth,

    and I will never go back on my word:

Every knee will bend to me,

    and every tongue will declare allegiance to me…

[Romans 14] 11 For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,

‘every knee will bend to me,

    and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’”

[Philippians 2] 10 …that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth…

[Romans 10] 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”


Either God is right, or He is wrong. 

Either every knee will bend, or it will not. 

Either every person who calls on God will be saved or not. 

And if every person who calls on the name of the Lord is saved, then every person who acknowledges God is saved. Period. 

See you soon,


The Times They Are a’ Changing

In Harry Potter, the lovable Hagrid says, “What’s coming will come, and we’ll meet it when it does.”

It’s always struck me how simple yet profound that statement really is…and how little my prayers reflect what I truly believe about the character of God.

So much has happened to all of us since 2020, and change changes us. We can’t help it. Every time we experience change, good or bad, stress hits. We become different people. I am no exception.

Change also brings fear, and I find myself praying “please don’t” prayers because the medieval me still believes in a God that has pagan qualities that are appeased by my works or wrathful of my lack thereof. I can’t help it. Weren’t we all taught this version of God in some way, shape or form, even if unintentionally?

This year, I’ve learned that in order to fully love some people, I will have to let them go.

There is no way to occupy a space with those who do not share my goal of loving all people with no strings attached, the way I believe God loves us. A free gift isn’t free if you have to work for it. Grace isn’t Grace if I’m doing something to effect it. And I simply refuse to believe in a God who says he “wills for all to be saved,” but can’t save all. That’s a God too small and too pagan for me. (I said what I said.)

If my humanity is saving me, I’m screwed. If God’s character is one that doesn’t allow me to know Him because He’s chosen for me to die and burn in eternal torment for His glory (yes- some people actually believe that I’ve learned), I’m just as screwed. Neither way makes a lick of sense, and the whole “God is God and we can’t question” gets less palatable the older I get and the more I experience.

And so, I find myself in the coming months, standing on the edge of change once again, ready to meet what’s coming, knowing that I have such little control over the outcome of events, understanding that my prayers might not be answered the way I want them to be, realizing that I’ll be okay if that’s the case because I worship a Creator bigger than me. And praise be to that!

What’s coming will come, and I’ll meet it when it does.

See you soon,