Michael Brown was made in God’s very image. (and so was his killer.)

25 Nov

Years ago I heard Lisa Sharon Harper preach that all humans, of every ethnicity, gender, nationality, age, ability– are made in God’s image and therefore IMAGE BEARERS OF GOD.

When we trample on another person, when we oppress them, when we seek to denigrate or humiliate or condemn them, to silence them, to hurt them, to kill them, to insult their memory– we are doing those things to someone who bears God’s fingerprints and reflects his very face. We are trampling on the image of God Himself. FATHER, forgive us. We don’t know what we are doing.

I try to remember this in daily life but like everyone else, I fall short. So often I am the oppressor, directly or by my complacency.

Tonight as so many mourn and rage and so many others condemn and refuse to listen to those in mourning– I pray we can all remember it in some way. That person over there? They reflect the God of the universe. They were created in His image. It’s true of Michael Brown; Ezell Ford; Eric Garner; John Crawford III; Dante Parker; Tamir Rice. It’s true of Yvette Smith; Eleanor Bumpurs; Aiyana Stanley-Jones; Tarika Wilson and the many other black women victims of police violence we don’t typically hear about. And the crazy, horrible, wonderful, painful truth of the gospel is that it is also true of Darren Wilson. It’s true of the white supremacists who spewed hate speech on Wilson’s fundraiser page. It’s true of each member of the Grand Jury. It’s true of those who set fires tonight, those who wept in silence, those who fired tear gas, those who screamed insults.

It’s true of you.
It’s true of me.

How different would the world look if each of us truly sought to see the image of God in all people? How would it change the way we think, speak, act, vote? How different would our churches look? Our neighborhoods? Our workplaces? Our friend groups? Our families?

Tonight I mourn for Michael Brown and for his family. I mourn alongside those who mourn. And I mourn for the hardness of my own heart and for all those who trample the image of God without even realizing what they are doing.

Oh Lord, I pray that they matter to each of us as well. Open our eyes; break and remake our hearts. May we bear your image more and more each day and may we love your image in others– even at great cost.

Jesus was a revolutionary. Dear Christian– are you?

9 Nov

I’m resurrecting my super old WP blog to say some things too long for a Facebook status. I abandoned this long ago and have been only sporadically writing in my paper journal… While sometimes thinking guiltily of this dusty, lonely blog. I’m fairly certain fewer people will read this posted here than on FB, but perhaps it’s for the best as some of my friends might consider this passive aggressive anyway. I just can’t get into any more comment wars with people I care about and profoundly disagree with.

Here’s the gist of what I want to say. It makes me so angry and sad when I see Christians purposely and publicly stand against people who are being oppressed. Speaking ill of the character of strangers, thinking the worst of their motives, denying the pain of people who have experienced racism/sexism/ageism/ableism and calling them “whiners,” who simply need to “get over it.” Saying deliberately offensive things under the guise of being too honest for “political correctness,” or as some would call it– RESPECT. I see and hear Christians using public spaces to say these kinds of things, or to applaud others who say them. Not just occasionally but regularly. Not just in the general media but on the social media of people I know.

I can’t reconcile this with the life and teachings of Jesus.

Jesus was brown; while scholars still argue about exactly what he may have looked like, he was a Palestinian Jew according to scripture. Depictions of a white Jesus erase his Middle Eastern identity and are inherently racist. He was an undocumented immigrant child. He advocated for the rights of women in a time when women were considered chattel. During the time of his ministry, he had no safe place to lay his head. He depended on others for food and shelter. His disciples were unemployed men; they walked away from their jobs to follow him. He gave away free health care to all in need. He spent time with prostitutes and treated them with compassion. He broke bread with thieves. He told the wealthy to give generously to the poor with no conditions attached. He was CONSTANTLY calling out people who were pious and upright in public but had arrogant and judgmental hearts. Condensing some of these facts about Jesus, we could simply say that he was a revolutionary. He challenged and violated the norms of his culture. He treated the lowest people with respect and dignity. He spent time with them. He listened to them. He cared for them.

Followers of Jesus should be standing in solidarity with the same people that he did– the poorest, the most disgraced, those whose voices are silenced by people in power, those looked down upon due to their gender or ethnicity, and yes, even criminals. What does our Christian witness look like if we don’t follow Jesus’ example? It looks like people thinking that Christians are judgmental, hypocritical, sexist, racist, xenophobic, and hard hearted. And unfortunately, for many nonChristians I meet in America– that IS what they think about Christians and the Church.

I realize even this post is a sign of my own arrogance in judging other Christians and I will own that. But I want to challenge more people who say they follow Jesus to think about how they would treat him if they met him today.

Remember, he didn’t speak English either.

I’m honestly not trying to be obnoxious to politically conservative Christians by posting this. I believe what I have written here; I think the few links I have added to scripture make a case for why. I have often found myself frustrated trying to have this conversation in person and so writing it out has been a helpful exercise to process some of my anger and grief. I am tired of the culture wars. Jesus loved everyone. It’s time for his followers, myself included, to take up the yoke of that incredible challenge.

Love. ESPECIALLY love those who society doesn’t love. ESPECIALLY love oppressed people. ESPECIALLY love your enemy. Jesus taught it, Jesus did it. If you love Jesus then Go and do likewise.

inspirational animals and grim-faced people

19 Feb

I am trying to be more disciplined about writing something every day, even if it’s just a few sentences in my paper journal. It’s far too easy for me to do nothing rather than something– or more accurately, to spend a few hours watching television or reading rather than attempt something creative– and I want to get out of that rut.

To that end, I thought I’d share a few things that made me smile recently. This isn’t a hefty, thoughtfully-crafted post, but it is something. And something is often better than nothing.

I share the following random collection of things I’ve stumbled upon lately in the hope that others will enjoy them too:

This bittersweet and beautiful story about an elephant in Tennessee who was best friends with a dog. Despite the fact that death parted them in October 2011, watching video footage of an unlikely friendship helped fill up my hope-tank. Chalk this one up to “there’s someone out there for everyone,” and “sometimes the best friends aren’t the ones you’d expect.”

This story about a Great Horned Owl getting hit by a truck and then stuck in the truck grille. The owl is going to be okay or I wouldn’t be so amused. Some days I am glad that non-news is news in this Internet age, because, for real:


This inadvertently hilarious illustration featured in an early January Wall Street Journal article about changes to the tax code. The WSJ clearly has a lot of empathy for the common man (and woman)! Just look how sad all these impoverished people look! Just look at them!


This GIF of infinite Ron Swansons.


Lastly, this alpaca farm is only about forty minutes away, has a great name and a fun, educational website. I really, really want to visit it sometime this spring. Alpacas! They’re awesome! People I know IRL, who wants to go with me?

Don’t Listen to Hasselhoff! And Other Thoughts on the Single Life

22 Jan

I never imagined that I’d spend as much time thinking about singleness as I have. When I was younger I had this vague idea that one day I’d meet someone, maybe while grocery shopping or wandering the library stacks or some other meet-cute scenario. I’d just meet someone and then I wouldn’t be single anymore. I never had much idea of how that initial spark in the produce section would develop into a lifelong partnership, though. Too many movies and not enough practice, I guess.


I’m only 26, and objectively I know that isn’t very old. But as I age, I have fewer single friends, and it continues to be hard to avoid the slippery slope that is comparing my own life to others. My mother had two children by the time she was my age (I was one of them). Some of my friends from high school and college are now celebrating 5th and 6th and even 7th anniversaries of their marriages. For whatever reason, things haven’t unfolded that way for me. I’m single, and I’ve been single for the entirety of my adult life. I don’t usually volunteer that information to strangers, but I don’t hide it either. For a long time I was preoccupied with the questions about what was wrong with me? Why didn’t guys want to date me? But I’ve experienced a lot of healing in the past few years, and while there is always more work to be done, I don’t think I’m single because of something inherently defective about my person. In many, many ways, I am thankful for the time I’ve spent as a single woman and the good gifts God has given me along the way—gifts I wouldn’t have experienced the same way as someone’s girlfriend or wife.


Not everyone really lives the single life. I have friends who seemed to be dating someone from fifth grade onward. Of course dating in fifth grade looks very different from dating in your twenties and thirties and forties and so on, but still. It’s a different life experience to walk through life romantically alone than it is to walk with a partner of some kind.


I’ve had the following conversation more and more as I’ve gotten older:

Well-Intentioned Family Member/Coworker/Dentist: So, are you seeing anyone? Do you have a boyfriend/fiancé/husband?

Me: No. It’s just me. (Usually some awkward silence as I try to think of something else to say. What else is there to say?)


In fact, there is a lot more that could be said about singleness, and I’ve had a few blog posts on the back burner as I tried to put the words together to share them. I also have a couple books in my TBR pile that I am hoping will provide me with some better perspective on this issue and maybe I’ll post reviews of them here, in that case.


In the meantime I want to talk about a scene from the neo-noir teen drama Veronica Mars. Most fans of the show, myself included, love the pairing of spunky detective Veronica and Logan, who is both troubled and sweet– a bad boy with a heart of gold, oh, what a trope! In dorky fandom news, their relationship portmanteau name is LoVe (appropriate). But for a while in the show’s final season Veronica dated a very nice boy, a music afficionado named Stosh Piznarski. Don’t hold the name against him. People can’t help what their parents name them; that’s why there are kids named Mykinzi and Jaxxson running around (apologies to any loved ones out there who like those names…). Anyway, Veronica and Piz. There was this great scene before they got together where they talked about the hookup culture that abounds in college, and let’s face it, post-collegiate life as well.


veronica and piz


Veronica: The whole chasing-hooking-up-people-go-round… Parker has been going nuts, like I’m some kind of freak because I’m not grabbing anything within ten feet. It’s exhausting.

Piz: Totally. It’s like music, you know– I love music, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen to it at all times and anything will do. I mean I’m not going to throw in a Hasselhoff CD just because I left my Neko Case in the car.

Veronica: Like why bother with something that’s not… good. ‘Cause if it’s not good…

Piz: It’s bad! Exactly. But these guys were all like, “As long as she’s got a pair of–” (gesturing to his chest) You know, it was indelicate.

Veronica: (innocently) What’s indelicate about shoes?

Piz: But I figure, you know, I mean, I know what I like. Why waste my time?

Veronica: Like why bother with something not good just because it’s something.

Piz: Especially when you know the difference, which not many people do. I mean, do you?

Veronica:  I think I do.

Piz: I think that’s like 90% of life, just knowing the difference.


When I take a step back and really think about it, so many of my friends have married people who have become dear friends of mine. They got it right. They knew the difference between just “something” and someone really good. And they trusted their romantic future to God and his timing.


So that’s what I try to do too. Not to worry too much about that perfect moment in the soup aisle, or finding just the right profile, or having the most winsome opening line. But to keep in mind the difference between “something not good” and Something Really Good. And to keep remembering that my value isn’t determined by my relationship status. I am loved by a creator who knows my hopes and dreams and has a purpose for my life.


I hope that all my friends, single and married, know that last sentence to be true too!

My Celebrity Doppelganger: A Tale of Woe.

18 Jan

The following story is a bit silly and nonsensical, not to mention embarrassing. But it made me laugh a lot when it happened so I thought I’d share it in the hope of brightening someone’s day.

A few years ago there was a Facebook meme where people changed their profile pictures to their supposed celebrity look alike. I don’t think anyone took it too seriously, but it was a fun thing to realize that I had friends who were dead ringers for actors like Danielle Fishel from Boy Meets World and Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog). What can I say, I have some attractive friends.

No one has ever told me that I look like a celebrity. For that matter, no one has ever told me I look like anyone except my father, who, incidentally, is a 6’3” man in his mid-fifties. He’s a handsome man, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the most flattering of comparisons in my mind.

I will say that several people have told me over the years that I sound like certain celebrities: the mom on That 70’s Show, Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory, various Muppets. These comparisons are also not my favorite thing, and I’d just like to say for the record that people can’t help what their voices sound like, okay!?

Anyway, I really wanted to find out if I resembled a celebrity, maybe a celebrity none of my friends knew about. So back when this meme was going around I used one of those websites that promised to show me my celebrity double. My only match was… Keanu Reeves. That is not even a joke.


For a while I gave up the idea of finding a celebrity doppelganger. Maybe there are just no famous faces that look remotely like me. That’s okay. People are different; God made us that way, and it’s good.

Well, about a month ago I was seized by this curiosity again and thought I’d give it another shot. I found another website that used facial recognition software and pledged to compare my face to thousands of famous people to find a good “face twin”. I uploaded the following photo, even though it was kind of old and not the best picture of me. It’s still basically what I look like so I figured that even if I look kind of deranged, it would do the trick.

my face


I waited eagerly to find out who my celebrity look alike was…


Imagine my surprise when the facial recognition software “recognized” two faces in the above photograph. Hmm…

face #1 (3)

Again, this is not a joke, this is really a thing that happened to me. It doesn’t say much about my neck area, but it REALLY doesn’t say much about this website’s ability to assign people “face twins”.


Unfortunately, “Face #2” is not necessarily that much more encouraging, because I don’t think I really resemble matches 1-4. And I DON’T EVEN WANT TO TALK about match #5. At least Keanu Reeves has a certain attractively androgynous quality…face #2 (2)



Who’s your celebrity doppelganger? Do you look like Julianne Moore or Jake Gyllenhaal (bo-ring!)? Or does your cleavage look like the lead singer from Limp Biskit?

hope (in the night)

6 Dec

I’m returning from a period of blog abandonment with some musings on pain, suffering and darkness. Some of you may know that when I began posting on this blog, it was with the idea that a creative outlet, even a virtual one, would be a stepping stone out of a period of deep depression. It turned out to be a helpful component of stepping back into the light; even silly posts about soup or radio drama gave me something to focus on and goals to work towards.

I’m sorry to say that in the past couple of months, I’ve been struggling with the encroaching darkness once again. This time isn’t as bad as what I experienced a year a half ago. For one thing, I’ve been sharing my struggles with friends and family for a few weeks now. I have trusted people holding me in prayer. I already feel better than I did a month ago. So despite the fact that life isn’t sunshine and roses, there are tremendous blessings in my life and God is good, even in times of pain. Perhaps God is good especially in times of pain, because in those times, I’m forced with the choice to keep wallowing (and drowning) on my own, or to trust Him.

One song from Andrew Peterson’s Counting Stars album has been echoing in my mind during this recent painful season. “In the Night My Hope Lives On” tells the story of God’s people who had good reason to give up, to despair, to succumb to darkness. Jacob wrestled with an angel and with his fear; Elisha was surrounded by God’s enemies; the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt groaned in the misery of captivity; once Canaan-bound, they found themselves trapped by Pharaoh’s army and trembling in fear. Meanwhile, the Prodigal son approached his father’s house so full of shame he couldn’t even lift his head. The Samaritan woman prepared herself to be stoned for her sins. Jesus’ followers wailed and wept as He died a slow, painful death by crucifixion.

If you can relate to any of this—surrounded by dark forces, enslaved by sin, trapped in fear and shame, devoid of hope for the future, I pray that this song will speak to your heart as it speaks to mine.

“Like the son who thought he’d gone beyond forgiveness, too ashamed to lift his head—but if he could lift his head!—he would see his father running from a distance.

“So in the night, my hope lives on.

“I can see the crowd of men retreating, as He stands between the woman and their stones. And if mercy in His holy heart is beating,

“Then in the night, my hope lives on.”

Friends, remember with me that “the rulers of the earth could not control Him. They did not take His life—He laid it down. All the chains of death could never hope to hold Him!” Let us remember that “the sword He swings in brighter than the dawn,” and that “the gates of hell will never stand against Him.”

When times are dark

When death and sickness are all around

When we are most aware of the brokenness of our world

And of ourselves in that world

May our hope live on.


Because the Creator of the universe, the Author of time, the Giver of Life is not taken aback by the world’s darkness. He is well acquainted with it and has better plans in store for His people and His world. And the very best news is that although we wage difficult battles every day on earth, The Most Important Battle is over, and He has won. Death cannot stand against Him; He is Light in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome Him.

I wish that following Jesus meant that I only ever knew light and glory. But I know darkness too. The challenge is to walk in the light no matter how difficult it is. I’m trying every day.

If you struggle with depression or any darkness of your own, I pray you too will find the strength to get up and walk into the light. Godspeed, friends.

Dying World. Living Hope.

25 Apr

Here is the truth about the world we live in: it can be a dark place.

I haven’t lived a long life (yet) but I’ve experienced some of this darkness. I’ve watched as a beloved relative drew his last breath. I’ve had dear friends disclose to me that they are survivors of childhood molestation, sexual assault, emotional abuse. I’ve grieved for another family member after he succeeded in taking his own life—although perhaps it would be more accurate to say I will always be grieving him. Last month one of the clients I have cared for the past nine months, and come to love, was moved to a nursing home to wait out the rest of his life. And I’ve experienced the soul-sucking black pit of depression myself, the weight of years of self-hatred and nagging doubts about my own worth crushing down upon me.

The world is dark. It’s true. We don’t need the social media storms around Joseph Kony or Trayvon Martin or the Chardon High shootings to know it. We live in a world that is dying and death is all around. People don’t value each other. Even worse, we know it isn’t just the brothel owners or factory bosses who trample human life, it’s you and me, when we shop for the cheapest items no matter the cost to those who sew our t-shirts or harvest our tomatoes. When we judge people by their appearances and strip their worth down to what they can do for us. When we celebrate the life of someone like Snooki but couldn’t care less about the suffering of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the voiceless around us.

How do we hold on to hope in this world? Where do we find the wellspring?

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King there is a paragraph that I find incredibly beautiful. Last year during one of the darkest periods of my life I found myself meditating upon it and clinging to what it promises. At this point in the novel, Sam and Frodo find themselves despairing of ever completing the Sisyphean task of destroying The Ring. But then,

“Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

So perhaps that White Star is the beginning of an answer. The knowledge that however dark the darkness is, the Light will triumph and cast it away. Scripture is full of these promises—that “[In Jesus] was the Light of all people. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it;” that God “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ;” that the light of “a city on a hill cannot be hidden.” We are promised that “even the darkness will not be dark to [the LORD]; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to [Him].”

Here’s another truth: it’s hard to believe this stuff sometimes. There are times when it is hard, desperately hard, to have faith that the battle against death is already won. There have been times in my life when I just haven’t believed that. It’s likely I’ll have similar times in the future. In the murky depths of our dark seasons the perfect light can seem too dim, or too far away, or too impossible to be real.

The final truth, though, is that the light is real. The light is the cornerstone of my faith actually, and it’s a compelling reason to keep fighting good fights and dreaming impossible dreams and to get out of bed in the morning when I’d rather wallow in despair. Despite the fact that we live in a world of death and dying, Jesus has won that ultimate battle. For those of us who know and walk with him, we have a Light to follow and we carry a torch within ourselves. There is hope! For healing of wounds. For reconciliation where there is brokenness. For satisfaction where there is hunger. For peace where there is war. For chains to be broken and slaves to be freed! For those mired in darkness to be lifted out of that pit! We can be a part of spreading light and life in this dark world. The best news is that we can do that even when we feel crushed by that darkness—perhaps especially then.

Friends, this week I’m praying especially for some people in my life who are in dark places. Those who are feeling crippled and oppressed by physical illness, emotional pain, the devastating loss of someone dear. Will you join me in these prayers for those who can’t see the light right now? May we all become better at pointing others towards the miraculous White Star who literally conquered the grave.