Quote of the Week

Brought to you by…

Langston Hughes




Let America Be America Again


Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)


The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.


Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!


You can read the full poem here.
For last week’s quote, click here

No Rain, No Gain

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to camp in the rain?  Not a little bit of rain.  Not a drizzle here and there.  No, I mean, like, “hey, I wonder what it would be like to go camping in a total, miserable downpour that doesn’t ever stop?”   Well, ask no more, friends.  I’m here to tell you.


Before You Leave

The first thing you want to do is check the weather.  That’s key.  And when you see that it’s supposed to start raining a couple hours after you arrive and continue, essentially, for the duration of your campout, just laugh in the weather app’s face.  Pshhht!  A little rain?!  Come on!  You’re a Seattle-lite.  You can handle a little rain!  That’s what the Pacific Northwest is all about.  You’ve got this.  Besides, the weather app is totally wrong sometimes.

It’s also essential that you are camping with a group.  Because when there is a whole group of people going and you’re in charge of Saturday night dinner, you can’t really bail unless the whole group decides to bail.  That would be poor form.   You can send an email to the group, letting them know about the minor weather sitch and hope that somebody else will bail.   But if not?   Tough luck.  And besides, if everybody else is unfazed, then YOU are unfazed.  You are going to rock this campout!

What (Not) to Bring & Do

In order to truly rock the campout, though, you definitely want to forget your rain coats.  That will make things much more memorable.   And for added good measure, you should probably install the rain fly on your tent upside down.  That will ensure that (a) you will eat a good dose of humble pie after bragging to your husband that you nailed the set up while he was biking over from Bainbridge Island, and (b) that you and your family and your pillows and your sleeping bags are adequately wet when you start the first day.  It’s important to start the day wet.  Then it’s no big thing to remain wet the rest of your trip.


After you eat your breakfast huddled under a roomy pop tent with 13 other adults and 10 kids, it’s time to head out for a hike.  But be sure you don’t head away from the rain.  That wouldn’t make any sense.  No, you want to head toward the rain.  In fact, aim for an actual rain cloud in the rain forest and then drive directly into it.  That will make for a good hike.


I’m pulling on the arm of my youngest (left) and my oldest (right) is looking pretty pumped, don’t you think?

When your kids start crying, though, don’t back down!  Don’t admit defeat and head back to the warmth and relative dry-ness of the car.  That would be silly.  Just because your kids literally look like they just stepped out of the shower and they are shaking with cold, press on, friends!   There’s a waterfall just around the bend.  Which is excellent because what you need at this point is MORE WATER.

And trust me, when your 5-year-old sobs the entire way down the mountain, don’t sweat it.  It’s all good.  Just embrace it.  Listen to the sound of his squishy little steps and the wail of his weeping (Slop, slop, Whaaaaaaa!   Slop, slop, Whaaaaaaa!) and just think of all the grit this is developing.   Character building!  Yes!

When you return from the hike you will all be soaked to the bone, of course, but just wring a few cups worth of water from your sweatshirts, blast the heater in the car and tell the kids to buck up!  Isn’t this a grand adventure?  They’ll continue to cry, obviously, but just stop at a diner for some pie on the way back to the campsite and then power on.

Making Meals

Making dinner in a downpour is no big thing.  See above about the pop tent.  Your kids will temporarily forget their woes while you are slicing and dicing and making mad dashes to and from your car for food and supplies.  They will happily run amok in the campground for at least three-and-a-half minutes until one of them falls down.  This is inevitable.  But when you are that wet, a little mud and sludge never hurt anyone.  I mean, really.  And besides, it’s all part of the plan!  The grit-building, character-developing plan.  There are no more dry clothes, little one.  Not a single thing.  We’ve literally got nothing left.  So buck up!  Mama planned it this way.  It’s for your own good.

Wrapping Up the Weekend

The next morning, you’ll rejoice in the fact that the rain has ceased long enough to eat breakfast outside of the pop tent, even though half of your camp chairs are soaked and most of you are standing up.  You’ll even manage to break camp while the rain remains at bay.   What excellent luck.  And you know what will happen next?

You’ll get cocky.

You’ll think you’ve won.  You beat the rain!  It’s over and you totally want to hurt yourself nailed it.  So you’ll decide to go on one final hike.  Your boys are in their pajamas because you weren’t kidding about having nothing left.  You’re wearing a pair of your kids’ socks and a still-damp hoodie but the worst is over.  Really.  One more hike to redeem the weekend.  Never mind that the weather app tells you a downpour is 30 minutes out.  Never mind that the kids are frostbitten a tad chilly and completely over it by this point.  Ignore all that.  This will be the hike to beat all hikes.


Gryffin, in my puffer (normally light brown), his pajamas and flip flops. Perfectly fine hiking attire, if you ask me.

When you get home, your kids might loudly declare to anyone who will listen that it was THE NUMBER ONE WORST CAMPOUT EVER but don’t let that bother you.  It’s all good.  They won’t always remember the soggy pillows and horrible hikes.  They’ll forget the mud-soaked meals and their sodden shoes.  I’m certain of it.  In fact, they might even thank you for it one day.  Not any day soon, perhaps, but definitely one day in the far-off very-dry future.


This is us on the way to the campground.


And… on our way home












Other Camping Posts

How the Rusts Ended up at McDonald’s
Let Them Be Empty
Camping, Take 2

All things Coates

Weekend Worthy

brought to you by…

Fresh Air’s Terry Gross

We’re heading out to go camping in a few hours and I’ve got this queued up for the drive: Terry Gross’ interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I just bought Coates new book, Between the World and Me and I’ve heard rave reviews of the book and this interview.   I’m looking forward to both this weekend!



Quote of the Week

Brought to you by…

David James Duncan

It is necessary to define words.
It is also at times necessary to undefine them.
One of my aims as a writer of faith is apophatic.
From the Greek word apophasis.
An apophasis is an unsaying.
Out of all the words I have heard in my time,
“God” is in my view the one most grievously abused by humans;
the one most deserving of a careful unsaying.



A Dark Anniversary & Untrue Stories

Last week was the anniversary of the death of Eric Garner.  In some ways it feels like a really long time ago and in other ways it feels like yesterday to me.  A lot has happened since then, hasn’t it?  Look back with me and let’s consider all that’s come to pass in just one year…

Eric Garner

Husband and father of 6.  Choked to death by a police officer who used an illegal chokehold after questioning Garner for selling loose cigarettes.


Mike Brown

Unarmed and shot dead in the street in Ferguson, Missouri last August.  He was 18.

John Crawford

Shot on sight in the back in a Wal-Mart after a fabricated call to 911 was made by another store patron.   He was a new dad.

Ezell Ford

Unarmed mentally ill protester in Los Angeles shot multiple times and killed by police.

Tamir Rice

Shot at a playground within two seconds of the police arriving on the scene.  He was 12 years old.
When his 14-year-old sister rushed to be by her brother. She was tackled to the ground, handcuffed and placed in the back of the police vehicle.


Freddie Gray

Died in police custody due to severe spinal cord injuries.  He was 25.

Walter Scott

Shot in the back while fleeing from an officer.   He was unarmed.  The officer unleashed 8 rounds.  He was stopped for a non-functioning tail light.

DeJerria Becton

A high school girl wrestled forcibly and violently to the ground during an incident with the police at a pool party.

Charleston Nine

Reverend. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Reverend Clementa Pinckney
Cynthia Hurd
Tywanza Sanders
Myra Thompson
Ethel Lee Lance
Daniel L. Simmons
Depayne Middleton
Susie Jackson

Black Churches Burning

In the two weeks following the massacre at Mother Emmanuel AME, six predominantly black churches in the South have burned, with at least three caused by arson.  A lot remains unknown with these fires but that’s a lot of churches in such a short time span.

Jonathan Sanders

Another Black man choked to death by a White police officer.  This one in Stonewall, Mississippi.

Sandra Bland

Pulled over for failing to use her turn signal.  Arrested and found hanging in her jail cell a couple days later.  She was on her way to start a new job in Texas and, according to family and friends, extremely unlikely to take her own life.  Her death is being treated as a murder investigation.


Close to Home

That last one?  Sandra Bland?  That one really hits home for me.  Jason and I were pulled over a couple weeks before we got married because Jason, too, failed to use his turn signal.   It was an unbelievable and incredibly frightening experience ending with Jason being handcuffed and arrested while I watched.  He spent the night in jail but our experience was still nothing like the footage of Sandra Bland being pulled over and arrested.  Nothing.  And unlike us, Sandra Bland was alone.  I can’t help but think of how scared she must have been.

There are so many that I left off that list and more are being added nearly every day it seems.  As I wrote all those names I kept thinking of a line penned by T.D. Jakes last December…


“We do not want our children
to be exempt from the law
or above the law.
What we are saying is we don’t want them
to be tried on the sidewalk.”


Misguided Nostalgia

When we look back on the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, I think most of us nowadays assume that had we been alive, surely we would have marched.  Certainly we would taken part in such a heroic struggle.  I’ve always thought so anyway.  But maybe we are telling ourselves an untrue story?   Maybe we believe something about ourselves that is fundamentally false? Because we see the list above yet we don’t actually see.  We watch the video footage and read the reports and “wait for the facts” and still we say, “no, no, this is different.”

But there is another Civil Rights movement afoot here and now and I’m beginning to wonder why we assume that we would have walked across that bridge in 1965?  Why do I think I would have joined the movement?   Why do I think I would have marched and toiled bravely alongside Dr. King, Ella Baker and Rosa Parks if I’m not marching and toiling now?

If you’re like me and you’re looking for ways to get involved and/or dig deeper, here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling…


Quote of the Week

Brought to you by…

Henry David Thoreau


“I went to the woods
because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life,
and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I did wish to live what was not life, living is so dear;
nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
to live so sturdily and spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life,
to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner,
and reduce it to its lowest terms,

and, if it proved to be mean,
why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it,
and publish its meanness to the world;
or if it proved sublime, to know it by experience,
and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”



Last Week’s Quote

I’m Ready to Say Yes

The year is 2005.  We are sitting down to dinner with our friend, Michael, in his apartment.  Michael is gay and he’s wrestling with what that means.  He is also searching for a church and he is drawn to ours because his theology and his understanding of God appear to align with it.  At some point in the meal he stops the conversation and asks bluntly,


“Do you think I would be welcome at your church?
Is there a place for someone like me?


Jason and I exchange a look and the table falls silent.  Finally I look up at Michael and say quietly,

“No.  No, I don’t think there is.  I’m so sorry.”


Fast forward several years.  We’re in a new city and a new church.  Jason gets an email from someone interested in checking out said church the following Sunday.  She explains that she is gay and believes God made her that way.   She’s not interested in debating the point.  She’s just interested in finding a church.  She thinks ours might be a good fit and asks the exact same question that Michael asked:


“Do you think I would be welcome at your church?
Is there a place for someone like me?


Jason agonized over that email for days and it pained him immensely to write her back and say no.  No, I don’t think there is.  I’m so sorry.

This is not to say that there aren’t some churches out there for folks like Michael & the woman who sent the email.  Just not ours.  And there’s the rub.  There are few churches that claim, like ours, to be “scripture-oriented, Christ-centered” churches who also allow space for monogamous gay relationships.  So what’s a gay person to do?  Where should they go if they want to attend an evangelical church with all the attendant theology that brings?


A friend of mine asked me last week when I was planning to write about homosexuality, especially in light of the recent SCOTUS decision.  I said something vague, like, “oh someday, I guess.”  I told him that it’s just not my thing.  I told him it’s not my topic.  But you know what?

I told him a lie.

I lied to him and I’ve been lying to myself.  If I’m truthful, I haven’t written about it because I’m scared.  I’m scared of being subversive and divisive.  I’m scared of losing my ‘street cred’ as a Christian.  I’m scared of rocking the boat too hard.

But I’m sick of saying no.  I’m tired of telling people that there is no place for them at my church.  I’m ready to say yes.

The Story of Amy

This past year a gay woman joined our church community group.   We’ll call her Amy.  She’s been in a monogamous relationship for over 7 years and she was returning to the Church after a long hiatus.   She was worried last Fall when she showed up on our stoop, wondering if she would be able to tell us her story and be herself.

It was a stretch for a few folks in our group, to be sure.  Some thought nothing of it while others felt unsure.  But here’s what ultimately happened:  Amy showed up.  Week by week, month by month, she showed up and she showed us who she is.  She volunteered with us, prayed with us, discussed and argued over Scripture with us.  She laughed with us, ate fondue with us at the annual Christmas party, and responded to the needs in our group with kindness and great care.  She threw herself into the group headlong and allowed us to truly see her.   The same as everybody else.

We folded her in and she us.

The Larger Church

But what of her place in our larger church body?   As easy as it would be to skirt the edges on this and speak in subtleties, I think the answer sits in that still murky terrain of marriage.  Would we perform the wedding ceremony for Amy and her partner?   They desire the covenant of marriage.  And they can fulfill all the requirements of that covenant.   So could we, would we, perform the ceremony?

If we say no, we are saying that even though they show up like the rest of us, even though they are an integral part of our body like the rest of us, even though they exhibit the fruits of the Spirit like the rest of us and love God with all their heart, soul, and mind like the rest of us,  — even though all those things, — we are still going deny them the chance to participate in the Church with the whole of their lives.

We are saying that despite ALL those things, they are not enough.   That’s what I used to say and it grieves me to remember it.

For the Church, the 3 pillars for discerning the will of God are:

  •  scripture
  • tradition
  • reason

Hebrews 4 tells us that the Bible is living and active.  If that is true, then our interaction with it also ought to be living and active and to mature and grow like all living things.  So we could sit down and argue those 6 passages about homosexuality until we are blue in the face.  Or we could consider the context and the culture and the tradition in which those verses were written and then consider the maturity and the growth that we’ve experienced as a people and as the Church since that time.  And we could look at Amy.

We could look at Amy and say yes.

Yes, you are created in the image of God and God was pleased to make you exactly as you are.  Come in and eat with us.

Quote of the Week

Brought to you by…

Cheryl Strayed (again)


“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed.
Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves,
and so I chose to tell myself a different story
from the one women are told.
I decided I was safe.  I was strong.  I was brave.
Nothing could vanquish me.”


Quote - Cheryl Strayed

Propping My Ladder

You know that analogy about the ladder of success?  You don’t want to climb the ladder of success and reach the top only to discover that you’ve propped your ladder against the wrong tree.  That’s what I’m trying to discern this week.  Where am I propping my ladder and what, exactly, am I expecting to be waiting for me at the top?




It’s July.  Officially mid-year.  I had some goals that I set for myself with regard to my writing this year and at the midway point, I’ve come up short. I haven’t reached the milestones I had hoped to reach by this point in the year.  I’m disappointed.  Le sigh.

So I’m taking stock.  I think I need to figure out how to keep plugging away at this gig while somehow keeping my hopes and expectations in check. I also need to maintain a willingness to amend my goals as I go.  It’s hard to take the long view sometimes.

A friend of mine gave me Blueprint Your Bestseller a couple weeks ago and at first I was skeptical.  It looked like a book from the 80s or something but I read a chapter over the weekend and I was pleasantly surprised.  It challenges you to write 10,000 words a month.  I have no idea how many words a month I currently write but I like check lists and goals.   Blueprints!  I guess I like blueprints.  Who knew?

So that’s my goal for July.  10K words.  That’s it.  No grand hopes for readership or publishing or chapters.  So far I’ve got 896 words.  Only 9,104 to go.  Pshhh, no problem.


Wish me luck!

A Birthday (and some toxic scum)

Yesterday was my birthday.  It was ok.  No, it was better than ok, actually.  There were some great moments  — hanging with friends in the morning, getting homemade birthday cards from the boys and my nephews who are living with us, and eating a perfectly excellent cake, to name a few.  But Jason and I were just generally off our game and I think we were both happy to drop into bed and call it a day when it was all said and done.

We came out of the boxes strong in the morning and headed to Lake Sammamish State Park for a morning of swimming and paddle boarding with some friends.   It’s been horribly hot in Seattle this week and every last one of us was fully immersed in  the lake by 10am.

Lake Sammamish State Park

I know, I know, 90 degrees isn’t all that hot compared to other places in the world and we’re all wimps and whatever but here’s the thing:  Seattle typically has, like, maybe 5 hot days in an entire Summer.  5!   Nobody has air conditioning.   We don’t have backyard pools.  Some of us might have a fan stashed somewhere in the garage for those rare days of high heat but otherwise, nada.

We CAN NOT HANG with the heat, people.   And it’s supposed to be miserable, suck-your-life-away hot for at least another week.  That will make about 20 straight days of high heat and I’m starting to think we might not make it.   Yesterday we had to head home by 1pm because it was too hot.  Too hot at the lake where we were immersed in water.

And you know what else?  It’s so hot that our lakes in Seattle are in danger of algal bloom (aka toxic scum) which can, among other lovely things, kill you.   Mostly, if the bloom is present, you’ll just get parasites that burrow into your skin and then die there, leaving you to itch your freaking skin off, but sometimes, the outcome is even worse.  Isn’t that excellent?

Anyhow, back to my birthday.  We came home and languished in misery in our hot house for the afternoon.  Jason and I got into a petty argument because HOT but, of course, managed to make up without too much trouble because, well, BIRTHDAY.  Birthday trumps hot.  Mostly.

Dinner & dessert went off without a hitch.  I opened the aforementioned cards and my oldest nephew even drew me a picture of a birthday cake with the caption “whoa, that’s a lot of candles!”  A few of us were draped with ice packs during the meal but hey, we were hanging in there and I was thinking that maybe we had beat the heat after all.

But then, after dinner, Jason was hoping to make a cocktail and discovered that we were out of ice.  Oops.  The boys and I had used all the ice in our (admittedly small) ice maker that afternoon, for slow drip plant-watering and, you know, general cooling purposes.   But in my guilty frenzy to help dig around in the freezer for other options, guess what I did?

I dropped my birthday cake on the kitchen floor.

Face down.

And then, in his frenzy to help me salvage the cake, Jason broke his favorite cocktail glass.

It was good times.  Really.  But you know, I think I’m good with this birthday being in the bag and moving on to our next week of wretched temps and horrid swelter.  There are so many more dishes to break and fights to be had!  And hey, so long as I avoid the toxic scum, it might actually be a good year.


Other Birthday Posts

Birthdays Make Me Sad
On the occasion of your 3rd birthday, the bombings in Boston and other awful things
Do Both
They Say It’s Your Birthday