Hey Friend!

What do you do when your dreams come true?
What do you do when your dreams are controversial?

(This post is all about me, but I hope it is somehow all about you too.)

Ten years ago, I said I would speak from my heart on stage about God and life and love.  My dream was to preach.  It was something that sparked in me and would not let go.  This summer I did just that.

You could say that I lived my dream years ago at my first speaking “engagement” or the first class I ever taught.  There have been people who noticed and believed in me for years that gave me chances to learn and grow.

My dream of speaking words shaped like keys that unlock cages for the people who listen, has been coming true for years. 

Speak words shaped like keys

But this summer, there was a moment that checked all the dream criteria boxes and felt like a graduation to a new place.

This tiny girl preached in the main church service. It was no big deal to the millions and billions of people who went about their days ignorant of the fact that Life was blowing my mind… but for me, this was a huge deal.

See, I believe in a world where each voice matters.  I believe in a world where men can learn from women and women learn from men (and men learn from men and women learn from women too – to be fair) regardless of race, height, income, or education.  I believe in a multifaceted God who needs to be described from different angles by people gifted with a talent and the determination to speak in the open. But not everyone believes this.

I believe in a multifaceted God
who needs to be described from different angles
by people gifted with a talent and the determination
to speak in the open.

So, I quietly paid attention for years and discovered that I have a deep love of God and of teaching and of speaking out loud about Him.  I paid attention to the ways people responded when they didn’t worry what the rules were about who was allowed to learn from whom or what other people thought. I paid attention to where the love and deep learning took me… then, I took a position as a full-time pastor…

and for now, it all led me here

To where this tiny, female human, with nothing and everything to gain by preaching about Jesus, began preaching about Jesus; not just to women but to men too.

See, I know there are verses in the Bible that say I “shouldn’t” talk in church or teach men about God. I get it. I see those words too. I also know that the Bible is a HARD book and one that requires pausing and breathing and studying before we take it at face value. The words in it are tricky. They are also life. Life is tricky. We are in this together.

Men, you deserve to know ALL of God that you can…

Women, you deserve to know ALL of God that you can…

When little girls preach, a new thing happens. I cannot teach you ALL about God, but I sure can surprise you with new facets to Him. .. because, I am Me and I get to see different parts than you do.  The more varied voices we hear about God, the more dynamic our understanding of Him.

*****

I started getting really nervous the week before I was to preach, so I reached out to Rachel Held Evans for ideas on how to lovingly explain to people that hearing a woman speak about God is a GOOD thing.

Here’s what she said:

Rachel Held Evans on women preaching Rachel Held Evans on Preaching 2 Rachel Held Evans on Preaching 3

And I am so grateful for this.

Because that week before I spoke, people began to ask me if I was grateful… not just, was I grateful to be speaking or have this job or get to share in front of lots of people. What they meant was, “Aren’t you grateful that you, a female, are being allowed to speak in the main service at a Christian church?”

And my answer was complicated but simple.

YES.

Of course I am. Anyone who teaches or speaks on a stage better be grateful and humbled by the responsibility of that assignment – no matter how much fun it is or how true to their heart’s calling.

I am grateful. 

I am grateful because each time someone “unexpected” does well in a calling like this, another chance opens up for someone else just waiting for their dream to come true.  It cracks the door open.  (How am I unexpected? I am both female and 5′ tall. This makes me an unlikely Pastor.)

I am always grateful for a chance to teach. Always. It’s like being a dancer or a singer (neither of which can I do in this same way). It’s an art and a flowing of spirit through a human that is just intangibly awesome.

I am grateful because I have two daughters. I cannot survive raising them to believe their freedom story and the ways God moves in them are lesser because of their gender. The best way to teach them is to believe it about myself.

I am grateful because I expect this next generation of girls to be one of the biggest blessings to the earth we have ever seen. The GLORY that will come from having both men and women allowed to light the world with God’s loving words and Spirit will be breathtaking.

I am grateful for a chance to step into the arena in my own way and fight for their voices to matter too.

I am grateful just for my own sake.  There is nothing like doing the thing you feel is your purpose.

*****

On 1000 Strands, I don’t usually write this autobiographically – or at least, not without the glorious shelter of metaphors, but in the last six months I have stepped out of my old arenas and into some new ones as a pastor and I want to include you in my history.  This is not a political story. This is a personal story of one person being called to something and working hard at it… we are tempted to make a personal story into a political one because we can explain those away.  Resist.

Any of you who feel called to express the glory of LIFE through your story: speaking, pastoring, art, creativity, writing… DO IT. Come with me. My story is small, but it’s mine and I will make it a skeleton key for you as best I can.

Thanks for listening. I am grateful.

*****

If you are struggling specifically with women as pastors and preachers, please take a look at these references and feel free to talk to me about this.  (FYI- I will not tolerate hate or belittling but I love discussing anything that brings freedom and a bigger sense of God).

NT WRIGHT on Unleashing Women in Ministry

RACHEL HELD EVANS on Letting Women Speak

DALLAS WILLARD on Women in Leadership