When Parenting TOTALLY Pays Off

Aug 15 2015

I was hiding in a book this morning when I heard my children yelling from the hallway.

“WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?” one 8-year-old shouted, followed by his twin with, “WHAT KIND OF MONSTER DOES THAT?”

I went to investigate, thinking they were watching another questionable YouTube video and that perhaps, rather than tell them to “shush” and “go away” and “of course you can have treats and screens; have you even met me?” and, finally, “I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU DO, just let me finished this chapter,” their mommy ought to get up off her lazy butt and, oh, I don’t know, be an involved parent or something.

As I came around the corner, I heard them muttering in front of the linen closet.

“This just isn’t right,” they said, and “Do you want to tell Mom or should I?”

“Tell Mom what?” I asked.

They jumped, slammed the linen door closed, put their bodies in front of it and said, “You don’t need to see this, Mom.”

You guys, I have heard this line before.

“You don’t need to see this, Mom” was the line delivered before I saw the Sharpie art on the hard wood floor.

“You don’t need to see this, Mom” was the line one of the girl children gave after slamming her brother’s fingers in the car door.

And “You don’t need to see this, Mom” was the line attempted when the eldest boy decided he was, too, old enough to use a butcher knife to cut his own apple.

“You don’t need to see this, Mom” is, in other words, LOOK NOW, MOM; SOMEONE or SOMETHING IS IN IMMINENT DANGER.

I gave them my grim, resigned face.

“Show me,” I said, and they sighed.

“OK,” they said, “but we tried to warn you,” and they opened the door to show me this:

IMG_5957I know, friends. I know. It’s AWFUL and TOTALLY UNEXPECTED. And believe me when I say I was as shocked as you are — as shocked as my boys — to find folded sheets in there.

IMG_5958“Folded sheets, Mom,” they said. “There are FOLDED SHEETS in our linen closet. OUR linen closet, Mom.”

“What do we do?” they cried.

“Should we FIX THEM?” they asked.

But I said, “No. No, we won’t fix them, boys. We’ll leave them there — folded — as a reminder of what could happen to our linen closet if we’re not vigilant about maintaining our linen closet standards. We’ll leave them there to keep us on our guard. We’ll leave them there to be covered by all the other sheets and towels and washcloths and escapee socks and underwear we shove into that teeny, tiny space, and we will do the linen-shoving with increased enthusiasm, knowing we are no longer just doing our chores, half-assed as usual, but we are also now symbolically standing up for our WAY OF LIFE.”

The boys nodded in understanding. They were ruffled by their discovery, yes, but they acquiesced, as they should, to my leadership and wisdom.

“We’ll leave them there, Mom,” they said, “but we promise you this — we will never, ever, EVER fold sheets. Just like you taught us, Mom.”

So, fellow parents, I want you to hear this today:

Sometimes you get down on yourself. Some days you don’t know if you’re doing this whole parenting gig right. Sometimes you question yourself, your values, your parenting, your life.

Me, too. Totally me, too.

But listen. LISTEN; there is HOPE.

A few short years ago my boys — the same kids pictured here — were all “How come we don’t fold our towels like they do at Leigh’s house, Mom?” and “Why do we never stick to Henry’s couch when we go over there?” and I wondered — I did — whether they would ever really get it, you know? Whether I was raising them up in the way they should go, like the good Lord said. Whether I was a Failure and Doing It Wrong.

Today I know, friends, that all the hard parenting work pays off.


So keep on training up children in the way they should go, y’all, and someday — maybe even sooner than you think — your children, too, will not depart from it.


Praise Jesus and AMEN.

With love from your friend and THE BEST CHILD TRAINER EVER,





Proverbs 22:6
“Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”


On Target and Toy Aisles and Why I’m Sharing Something Other Than Anger

Aug 13 2015

My friend, Mercy, just wrote me on the Book of Faces to say, “Omg… Beth Woolsey! Have you written anything about the Christian outrage over Target’s gender neutral toy aisle signs? You’re always my go-to blog repost on these cultural topics. Several friends are liking or reposting Matt Walsh or Franklin Graham’s take on the “silly feminists” or “gay agenda” and I just can’t.”

I get what Mercy’s asking. I get it, because most of the time I just can’t, too. Just CAN’T.

And I know there’s a lot of crazy, ranty stuff going around online about gender and Target and WHAT IT ALL MEANS FOR AMERICA and CHRISTIANITY and STANDARDS if we don’t have Girl Aisles and Boy Aisles at Target anymore.


I mean…, What if we go to Target and there’s just an aisle called TOYS?

And another aisle called BEDDING?

THIS IS WHY THIS COUNTRY IS GOING TO HELL, y’all! Because we can no longer worship materialism in simple, gender-segregated peace, the way God intended.

And I want to get all wrapped around the axle about it. I do. I want to because, this whole this is so very ridiculous, friends. SO VERY. I want to rant and respond and make my points and counterpoints, ’cause I’ll bet I have darn good thoughts in here somewhere.

But I can’t do it because there’s too large a part of me that’s not properly enraged.

Most of me is just… sad.

Sad for all we lose when we fight over worthless things.

Sad for all the time we spend on which big box stores Jesus prefers us to visit when we could be feeding the hungry and caring for the poor and fighting for the marginalized.

Sad for all the people on the margins right here in our own communities who watch the war rage — Christians fighting Christians over things that diminish Love — and receive the message loud and clear that you’re not welcome among us unless we can confine you to our premade boxes and rigid aisle walls.

So, instead, I’m re-sharing the post below today, about my daughter and about my son and about a doll who is their friend.

May we work to share stories like this that break down barriers instead of build them higher.

And may we all find mercy and grace and magic in the mess.

With love for all the people in all the aisles,





originally posted in June 2013

I stood in the mall in the tiny store crowded with books and toys and trinkets of all shapes and sizes, and I stared at the wall of stuffed animals as I tried desperately to narrow down my choice.

I was 8 years old, and my fourth facial surgery was just a few days away. The stuffed friend I was about to pick would be my hospital companion, tasked to stay with me after visitor hours ended when my parents would be required to leave.

That’s the way hospitals worked in the early 80’s, without fluffy modern-day nonsense where parents remain with their kids in the hospital around the clock. And, of course, by “fluffy modern-day nonsense” I mean nothing of the kind; parents of the 80’s were made of stronger stuff than me, no doubt, because it would take an elephant tranquilizer, a team of Navy SEALs, and a reinforced cage to get me out of my kid’s hospital room.

Still, I was never afraid in the hospital as a child due to equal parts Unflappable Parents, Unlimited Popsicles and the kind of Unshakable Companionship only a teddy bear can provide.

Choosing that bear was tough, though. A whole wall of bears and lambs, and I had to hurt all their feelings except one. I was that kid. The one who truly, deeply believed my animals and dolls were alive. The one who hid outside my bedroom and then JUMPED through the doorway to try to catch them moving. The one who whispered that I was trustworthy and if they’d just let me in on their secret, I’d keep it. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. So when I picked my bear in the mall that day, I cried because I couldn’t take them all, and I told them quietly not to worry; their turn for a family would come soon.

When Abby, my oldest, was 10, she campaigned for an American Girl Just-Like-Me Doll. I resisted because Oh my word! EXPENSIVE. We’re not the $100 doll kind of people. We’re more like the Look It’s On Sale or We Can Get It at a Thrift Store or Hooray for Hand-Me-Downs kind of people. Plus, American Girl Dolls need clothes and a hairbrush and stuff, stuff, stuff. And Abby was a fairly grown-up 10 who was already more interested in make-up than make-believe. How long would she play with a doll, anyway?

photo 2 (66)

But then I remembered my hospital bear and my favorite childhood book, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Have you read it? It’s still good. Much better than her more well-known The Secret Garden which is kind of spooky and sad and yellow.

A Little Princess chronicles the story of Sara Crewe after her father reluctantly leaves her at a boarding school. Before he goes, father and daughter search London for Sara’s Last Doll. “Dolls ought to be intimate friends,” Sara says. And finally, they find Emily, with her attentive gray-blue eyes that read as though she knew Sara all along. That’s because she does, I thought when I read it for the first time. She really does know you, Sara.

IMG_0688-EditAnd with that memory, I was done in. It was time for Abby’s Last Doll.

She picked Tiffany, who was everything you hope for a Last Doll to be.

But time went by, as it usually does, and eventually Tiffany was boxed up and put on a shelf and forgotten.

Until 6-year-old Cai found her yesterday. A beautiful box that revealed a beautiful doll. He pulled Tiffany from storage, and he held her reverently because he knew somehow that’s what you do with a doll like her.

I sat quietly in the living room yesterday, watching as Cai, with Tiffany in his arms, pushed Abby’s creaky door open. “Abby?” he said, “Is this your doll?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Can I play with her?” he asked.

And Abby was quiet for a long moment before she said, “Yes, Cai. Her name is Tiffany, and she’s very special. You’ll have to be careful with her and treat her kindly.”

“I will,” Cai said, and he withdrew from her room and closed the door.

photo 1 (58)

And I swear I saw Tiffany smile.


This Is Life, And I Quit. Also, I Un-Quit.

Aug 12 2015

I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately. Spitting into the wind. Taking one step forward and three steps back, minus the one step forward part.

I think that’s pretty much the same thing as being a mom, although I don’t think it’s we moms exclusively who fit those GOOD LORD I’M TIRED clichés. It’s just that… Good Lord, I’m TIRED, you know?

You know.

I know you know.

Two nights ago, I quit. Called my husband on the phone prior to dinner and said, “I QUIT. I quit. I quiiiiiiiiit. I quit, and I quit, and I quit. Not gonna parent tonight. Not gonna wife. Not gonna adult. Just gonna sit in the bathtub and read a trashy book and go to bed at 7. ‘Cause, DUDE; I’m twelve kinds of done.” I mean, I just quit temporarily, of course, but I still quit dramatically and with lots of words because otherwise what’s the point of quitting? And Greg, because he’s smarter now than he used to be, said, “OK,” and “fine,” and not, “so you’re sticking me with all the kids and all the work?” He’s SO MUCH SMARTER, friends.

Here’s how it went down:

At 5pm, I quit everything.

At 6pm, a kid started vomiting, so I unquit and got out of the tub and snuggled that kid into my bed with the specific understanding that I would requit as soon as the kid felt better.

At 8pm, the kid felt better. I re-quit.

At 8:15pm, the kid who has anxiety and panic disorders and developmental delay and questionable judgement because he’s made out of human had a meltdown. A wall-banging, anxiety-laden, ragey, annoying, heartbreaking meltdown. I unquit.

At 9pm, when that kid calmed and finally slept, I requit. QUIT quit. “I QUIT,” I told Greg. “I MEAN IT THIS TIME.”

At 9:15pm, another kid — separate from the kids above, because my kids share well, including the torture of their mommy — had stomach pains. I, however, did NOT unquit. You know why? Because this isn’t my first rodeo, folks. He had stomach pains, not a severed artery, and his stomach pains weren’t on the right side so I knew it was just gas and not appendicitis because the internet told me so.

At 9:30pm, the stomach pain kid was still crying.

And at 9:45pm.

And at 10pm, plus he added some screaming.

At 10:15pm, I unquit, and at 10:30pm, I took him to the emergency room.

At 11pm, he was admitted to the hospital.

At 11:15pm, he farted and felt much better.

At 12am, he was released, and we came home, and I got to explain to Greg that we will be paying an ER bill for gas and constipation. Again.

At 1am, I requit because sometimes you just have to have priniciples, you know? I whispered, “I quit,” but no one heard me because they were all finally asleep, and I technically requit in bed with the gassy kid on one side and the puker on the other because I’m also a mama and it’s what we mamas do. Still, priniciples.

I’m swimming upriver, friends. Trying to keep my head afloat. Sinking fast. Resurfacing.

I don’t know what to say about that other than this is life.

This is life. This cycle of drowning and floating and being dashed by the waves and finding our way to shore to rest and recover and forage for sustenance.

This is life. To sit by the ocean and to know its power from the sound and the memories of the pounding of the surf.

This is life, to rise again and brush the sand away and wade into the depths again.

This is life. To swim with long strokes and to succumb to the sea and to swim again.

This is life. This pace. This relentlessness. This strange joy in the journey even though we’re jabbed and jarred.

This is life, and I can’t tell you I wouldn’t have it any other way, because I’d honestly take a little less puking right now and a lot more sleep, but this is life, and I’m content, and sometimes that’s all we can ask.


This is life, and I unquit. For now.

With love,


Why I Call You Friends (and Mean It)

Aug 8 2015

Dear Friends,

I’ve been having a hard time putting pen to paper this week, not because I have nothing to say, but because I have so very many things racing around my head and my heart. My thoughts and feelings, hopeful and discouraged, are running circles around me, creating quite a tornado effect, such that picking just one thing from the swirling, whirling storm has proved challenging, like trying to know whether to focus on Toto’s disappearance or the Wicked Witch’s cackling, or maybe make a run for Auntie Em’s house which is shelter but also off its foundation, uprooted and adrift.

I’ve been well this week overall and mentally recovering from feeling hidey; wanting, in fact, to get back to you, my friends, because we have things to say to each other, like hi, and how are you, and are you in the tornado, too, or are you outside it for now? 

The internet is a strange place. Fascinating. Wonderful. Magical. Awful. That’s no surprise to you, I’m sure; it’s no surprise to me, either.

The internet, I’ve found, is a lot like the rest of life — in exactly the same fascinating, wonderful, magical, awful ways — and so I don’t consider it virtual. Not at all. Not anymore. Not when the feelings elicited online are real. Not when it changes minds and hearts — for real. Not when the relationships created are, you guessed it, real.

Now, I get it — I do — when people say being online is addictive, and it can change our communication, and it alters how our brains work, and we need to have time with our community face-to-face. I agree with all those things; it’s just that I think those are true for our other life pursuits, as well; the internet is one of many things that affects us this way.

Books, for example. Oh my gosh with the books already! I sink addictively into books, like, constantly, and I’ll be lying if I said my kids don’t have to put their wee little faces between my head and the latest Ilona Andrews novel and remind me they’re there. “MommommommomMOMMYmom!” Face to face? “Oh, yeah, kids! Sorry about that! Mommy will be right with you as soon as this chapter’s done. Or maybe the next one…”

We need to be cautious and careful about all of life’s pulls, and the internet is one of them. But the internet is also very, very good when it’s an avenue to each other. When it beckons community closer. When it frees us to be deeply, truly, authentically ourselves. When it shows us we’re not alone.

You folks have been — you are — real friends to me, which is one of the thoughts that’s been whirling and swirling as I left this haiku on my blog for the last week, describing my feelings about the Church and its exclusion of people who are welcoming and affirming of those who are LGBTQ:

Balls, balls, balls, balls, balls.
Balls, balls, balls, balls, balls, balls, balls.

Fuckity fuck. Balls.

The haiku is, obviously, spiritually deep and totally non-offensive, by which I mean shallow and potentially offensive depending on how you feel about balls and profanity.

Also, I am mature in the Lord.

I thought about taking my poem down, mostly because I am, at heart, an optimist and pretty set at finding joy and magic in the mess, and I didn’t like leaving discouragement and despair and defeat just sitting there, smoldering.

I kept thinking things like, “I wouldn’t recite my Balls haiku at work,” and “I wouldn’t recite it in church,” and “I wouldn’t say it to my mom-in-law” who occasionally reads this blog and may have to burn her out eyeballs after reading that (or who may secretly giggle because you never know with that lady, and I’ve corrupted her to the best of my ability — you can pray for her).

My point, in other words, is I have a filter, faulty though it may be in some situations, so I wondered whether I should — whether I ought to — leave my doleful Eeyore of a poem sitting out on the world wide webs for all to see, and I decided yes again and again. I decided yes, I’ll leave it there, because you’re my friends, and this is the kind of thing I’d recite to you if we sat on my back patio together after dark sipping gin while we listened to the crickets and loosened our hair and slumped low in our chairs with our feet on the rungs of the unwashed table in front of us, talking about love and loss, and faith and freedom, and magic and mess.

I’d recite my poem aloud, and you’d hear my voice — balls, balls, balls, balls… — and you’d know I’m frustrated and sad and longing for humanity to love each other better and broader and deeper and wider and higher and braver and true. Fuckity fuck. BALLS.

You’d laugh, but knowingly, and I’d laugh back, because there are something we can understand about each other without the longer words of explanation. That’s friendship. And that’s exactly what those of you who commented and Facebooked and emailed your giggles did. And those of you who chuckled quietly. Or nodded sagely. Or raised a glass in sympathy.

So I left my haiku all week, knowing some folks would leave but most of you would stay because we sit together so often after dark, waving to each other, and we’ve built something real here that bolsters us together when we’re a little lost or a little alone. Friends who are learning to trust each other’s hearts and to let each other see who we really are. Really real.

My pledge to you, as long as this space exists, is to let you in. Whenever I write, whether weird or wonky or wild and wonderful, I’ll let you all the way in, friends. All the way into this crazy life. Which is risky, yes. SO RISKY, this friendship thing, right? Risky, absolutely, because friendship where we reveal true pieces of ourselves always is. Risky and worth it.

In conclusion, Hi. And How are you? And Are you in the tornado, too, friend, or are you outside it for now? 

With love,





P.S. Waving in the dark.


P.P.S. That picture is from several weeks ago while I was watching my son as he slept in our car after vomiting all over Crater National Park.

P.P.P.S. God bless us, every one.

10 Haikus About Motherhood

Aug 3 2015

Here’s how I feel today: pfffttttttt.

So I wrote haikus.

I don’t know why those things go together, but they do.

Without further ado, here are:

10 Haikus About Motherhood

Got Out of Bed Late
Got out of bed late.
Big surprise. By which I mean,
No surprise at all.

Spilled Coffee
Spilled coffee on my
shirt on my way to work this
morning. Normal day.

My Kids Yell
My kids yell and yell
And yell and yell and yell and
Yell and yell and yell.

My Dog Licks Balls
My dog likes to lick.
Especially balls. My dog
Is a Ball Licker.

Potato chips break.
They’re fragile. Brittle. Crumbly.
Shrapnel everywhere.

Potato shrapnel
In my bed, on my couch, in
The carpet. Shards hurt.

I’d Like to Poop Alone
I’d like to poop a-
lone. I’d like to poop alone.
Lonely poop sounds nice.

Boys Pee on Things
Boys pee on things like
grass and trees and walls and floors,
bees and leaves and me.

Not quite menopause, but FUN!
Night sweats are sex-ay.

I’m a Tired Mom
I’m a tired mom.
That’s redundant, isn’t it?
Too tired to count syllables anymore. Pfft.

And here’s one more, as a bonus, not about motherhood, but probably applicable, depending on the kind of day you’re having:

How I Feel About What’s Happening in Our Churches and Our (in)Ability to Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves
Balls, balls, balls, balls, balls,
Balls, balls, balls, balls, balls, balls, balls.
Fuckity fuck. Balls.

In conclusion,  pfffttttttt.






P.S. Please share your haikus with me, too. A bad haiku LOVES company, friends. It’s what Jesus would do. Pretty sure.

In Retrospect…

Aug 2 2015

In retrospect, taking 6 kids in 100+ degree weather in a non-air-conditioned vehicle for a 7 hour road trip isn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

On the bright side, it’s also not the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, and we invented the most fabulous on-the-go, do-it-yourself, totally-Pinterest-worthy air conditioning system while we were at it. Our system is called ICE EVERYWHERE — ice every damn where — and it worked! It worked!

Please don’t feel sad if you’ve never thought of that elegant solution yourself. It’s OK. You’re OK. Some of us are Pinteresty, and some of us aren’t, and we accept all comers here. As for me, I’m Pinteresty. Obviously. I mean, I even shoved ice in my hair, man.



Just in case you’d like to create your own DIY Air Conditioning, I’ve created a step-by-step guide below. BECAUSE I CARE, friends. Because I care.

DIY Portable Air Conditioning
A Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1: Borrow a large passenger vehicle. We borrowed an airport shuttle from my father-in-law, but I imagine any bulky, unwieldy, beast of a van absent air circulation will do.
Step 2: When the vehicle’s owner notes the lack of air conditioning in said vehicle and asks if you’re really sure you want to borrow it, given the time of year, assure him you’ll be just fine without air conditioning. After all, you live in in a temperate part of the world and you grew up in Southeast Asia. Be sure to say things like, “Pacific Northwesterners are enormous wimps,” and “How bad can it be?” Scoff loudly.
Step e: Arrange for a 5 hour road trip. Make lots of potty stops and also sort of crash your borrowed vehicle into a coffee shop awning so it becomes a 7 hour road trip. I mean, you could just make a 5 hour road trip in 5 hours, but where’s the fun in that? Honestly.
Step 4: Bring a half dozen children. They needn’t all be yours. In fact, it’s better if they’re not all yours, because being responsible for other people’s children while you’re crashing your borrowed vehicle into coffee shop awnings and keeping them locked in a metal can in the blistering heat creates maximum enjoyment for everyone where the word “enjoyment” is replaced with “dear God, what have I done?”
Step 5: Decide that if this isn’t going to be The Worst Road Trip of All Time, you’re going to have to Do Something and Do It Quick.
Step 6: Buy a boat load of ice and twelve hundred dozen million frozen treats and tell the 6 children there’s UNLIMITED EVERYTHING. YOU CAN HAVE WHATEVER YOU WANT, KIDS. SHOVE THAT ICE WHEREVER YOU LIKE AND EAT ALL THE POPSICLES. HAVE A BALL!
Step 7: Giggle when they actually shove ice every damn where.
Step 8: Be supportive when they craft their own elegant, DIY air conditioning system titled Screw Pants.


^^^The inventors of Screw PantsTM ^^^


In conclusion, take that, Pinterest.

Also, Screw Pants.

With love,





P.S. If you’ve ever wondered how to greet your neighbors when they come home from a 7 hour road trip with 6 kids in 100+ degree weather, wonder no more. THIS IS HOW:


Cold beer. Cold Coke. Praise Jesus and people who really do love their neighbors as themselves.

On a Shattered Church, Sorrow, Sanctuary and Finding a Path Forward Together

Jul 27 2015

I sat on the patio on Friday night, barefoot with friends and some bottles of beer as the sun set on what we thought was an endless series of long, hot days, and the clouds rolled in for the first time in weeks. The air grew muggy anticipating the rain. We sighed, and we cried. We cried, my friends and I, and we mourned, and we gave our mourning as an offering, because we lost something on Friday, and when we lose things we cherish, mourning together becomes holy ground. A kind of worship. The rain coming seemed fitting, like the skies grieved and worshipped with us.

No one died, but hope did a little, on Friday. A little or a lot, depending on where you stand and whether the ones who hold the chalk drew you in or drew you out. I don’t like writing that hope died; it seems dramatic and melancholy, but that’s how it felt, like hope died. But maybe it just faltered. Yes; faltered may be what I mean.

I belong to a church which belongs to a larger group of churches, and on Friday our circle became smaller. Smaller on purpose, it seems, because on Friday we learned that a fellow church has been released from membership – dis-membered, if you will – because that church’s conviction that LGBTQ people will be welcomed and affirmed as full participants in their community is “shattering” to the whole, and our larger group of churches is “unable to embrace our current diversity.”

Another church let go. It’s the same story we’ve heard before. The same story across the nation. The same story across the denominations. Another church let go. “Released.” Not without thought. Not without nuance. Not without prayer. Not without kind, good people agonizing for years over an excruciating, impossible decision and making it anyway. It’s the same story. The same story still. This time, though, it’s happening in my world. My world, which I know is small, but is large in my heart and full of people who are now, ironically, shattered in order to stem the shattering tide. Shattered on the altar of preventing a larger break. Shattered in the hope of holding something together, but something that seems more broken now, and how do we hold broken bits together? How does exclusion keep enough pieces to repair?

Friends, hear me now; this breaks my heart. And hear this, too; it breaks the hearts of the people who are now excluded from our community and the hearts of the people who made this decision. It breaks the heart of Jesus. No doubt. No question. Heart-breaking all around.

As a Christian who loves Jesus and the Bible and is an LGBTQ ally, my position is, I suppose, clear. And so I was left Friday night with a Now What? Now what? Now that the broader group of churches to which I belong has let me know they’re unable to embrace our current diversity – in essence, unable to embrace me and what I believe – is there a place for me here? How do I stand with my friends who are displaced? How do I stand with my friends who aren’t? How do I love all my neighbors; those who are inside the circle of fellowship and those who’ve been removed? Do I rescind my own membership? Do I stay and follow Love’s lead from within? What do I do? And, most important of all, how do I let my LGBTQ friends know how very much they are cherished and loved? Adored for who they are; made in the very image of God? Not alone?

I sat in sorrow on Friday, and I wondered what to do – action oriented as I am, which is a particular fault of mine – and I felt Love whisper to my tired spirit. “The path is the same. The path hasn’t changed,” Love said, and I was comforted because I know what path Love meant; I’d just lost sight of it in my angst.

Whether we are invited to the table or sent from it, our path forward is the same for those of us who believe in a God whose other name is Love. The path forward is the same. Grace. Peace. Love of God and love for our neighbors. The recognition that all are our neighbors, all are made in the very image of the divine, and all are achingly, stunningly, beautifully human. The path forward is the same. Care for the broken-hearted. Mourning with those who mourn. Reaching toward the wounded. Creating safe havens. Embodying sanctuary.

The Church has sent people away again and again throughout its entire history. Again and again. Over foreskins. Over bacon. Over women and wine and water; whether and when women can have a voice; whether and when we can drink wine, no matter that Jesus said do this; whether and when we immerse or sprinkle ourselves with water as baptism as though baptism by fire isn’t an acceptable form or baptism by wilderness or baptism by exclusion or baptism by grace.

We argue, instead. We argue semantics and love. We argue, and again and again people are left – discarded by the churches that say, “You may have a place somewhere; it’s just not with us.” Again and again, people are left, reeling and hurt. And so, again and again, we get to choose our path.

Here’s what I choose, friends…

I choose to sit in the mud with the suffering. I choose to sit barefoot with beer on holy ground. I choose to sit on the patio with friends who are confused and wounded as the heat from the day vanishes and the moon rises and the clouds roll in. I choose to commune with the broken-hearted as rain follows months of sun.  I choose to journey with those who have been told they’re no longer part of the club.

Loving our neighbors comes with consequences. It always has. It always will. The Good Samaritan paid a price to help the man left on the side of road. A literal price in time and gold and forbearance as the wounded man healed. This price is nothing new, friends.

Our work together is to find hope in the middle of the hurt. To gather the wounded. To provide sanctuary and solace. To let the weary rest. To speak gently to the wary. To sit in the mud and the muck and the mire with the angry and sorrowful and those who are too numb to feel anything at all.

This is the work of God. This is the work of Love. To find those who’ve been excluded and to draw the circle wide again. To draw it wide and wider and to let them come in.

He drew a circle that shut me out–
Heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

Edwin Markham

With Love,





P.S. Coincidentally (or “coincidentally” for those of us who think such things aren’t always coincidental ;)), I’ll be at West Hills Friends Church — the church that was released from Northwest Yearly Meeting membership — this Sunday, August 2nd at 12:00pm to facilitate a conversation sparked by this blog post: The Church Isn’t Dying; It’s Being Reborn. We’ll be talking about Sanctuary, too. You can find the event information here on Facebook. I can’t imagine a bigger privilege than worshipping with my West Hills friends during this time, and I’d love to see you there. I’ll be there for their worship service at 10:00am, as well. Join me?

P.P.S. For those of my LGBTQ friends who are suffering from this decision, who may feel adrift or alone, please read these posts by my friends Mark Pratt-Russum and Gregg Koskela. You are loved.