Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Redemption of Food


It seems like we obsess over food. I know I do. For all of my adult life, I have been in a love/hate relationship with food. I love to cook. I hate being overweight. I went on diets. I didn’t have time to cook properly, so I bought packaged foods. When I was on food stamps, the first day they came in my kids and I shared a giant meal of steaks and baked potatoes. My children went in and out of dietary phases with me throughout their childhood years. I went in and out of dietary phases as I felt more comfortable or less comfortable with my life. When I felt out of control of my finances, for some reason I would spend money at the grocery store and cook one of those giant steak-and-baked-potato meals. Attempting to become a better person, I tried to act on small convictions: vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian. I tried to treat my physical ailments with food choices: sugar free, gluten free, soda free.

More recently, in an effort (successful, I might add) to lose weight and become healthier and stronger, I went on an almost solid-food-free diet. Two shakes or smoothies*, a couple of “smart” snacks and one actual meal a day – small portions only – along with some heavy duty boot camp style exercise brought me to a manageable weight. I feel good about how my clothes fit. I don’t want to gain back my weight, but I’ve also decided I don’t want to avoid great food anymore.

There has been a lot of talk around diet and the way we use food to connect with one another. Much of this talk has been negative – like using food as a vehicle to social interaction is a bad thing.

It isn’t.

Friends Gather To Enjoy
Good Food & Good Fun
In fact, breaking bread together is one of the oldest ways of connecting with one another. It is a means of communication, of conveying love, and of supporting and nurturing one another. In one of the most famous bread breaking events in history, Jesus, son of Mary, fed over 5,000 people on a hillside. He broke unwritten rules of law by breaking grain to feed his disciples on the Sabbath. He shared meals and drink with the people others loved to hate – tax collectors, sinners, resident aliens, people in other cultures, women, prostitutes. According to some, Jesus "ate his way through the Gospels." There’s the wedding where he made the water into the best wine, the gathering of disciples where Martha flitted about, the dinner in the house of a Pharisee, and the feast at the home of a descriptively short tax collector who climbed a tree just to see Jesus. Finally, Jesus joined with his closest friends, the Apostles, and probably a few more disciples and family to celebrate the Passover meal one last time. When sharing that meal, Jesus literally broke the bread to share it with his followers. In doing so, he invited them to remember him every time they ate. “Whenever you do this,” he said, “remember me.”

In his teachings, Jesus told his disciples that “When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was thirsty, you gave me drink. Whenever you feed the least of these, you are feeding me.” “When two or more are gathered, there I will be also.” Whenever we gather with others to share a meal, we are gathered with Jesus. We need not be in a religious setting; the Christ is with us always. When we break bread together, we invited the best of who we are to connect with the best of who our companions are. We meet as equals, sharing the same food and drink, sitting at the same table. It doesn’t matter if we believe the same things. What matters is that we are sharing a good meal, good conversation, and laughter.

Photo from
In a not so distant past, the kitchen was the heart of the home. Spirit flowed around the stove, where those who cooked kept a soup pot bubbling and the family gathered to review their days and make plans for future times. Friends were invited to cocktail parties, dances, bonfires, and barbeques. As good food filled the stomach, good Spirit filled the soul.

Recently, as I sat with a close friend over an excellent meal at a wonderful Middle Eastern café next to the local mosque, it occurred to me that too much time has been wasted on worrying about food. Too much of my time was wasted on weighing the bites and assessing the calories. My friend and I began to discuss the idea that perhaps if we simply lived our lives, finding the places where happiness touches our hearts, and sharing those times with others, the calorie content of the food we ate would no longer matter. What if we simply enjoyed our meals, punctuated with forks raised to illustrate points, stopped eating when the holes in our stomachs were filled, and continued the conversation over a good cup of tea? Would we find ourselves sated by the combination of food and friendship?

What if I had a smoothie for lunch not because it’s part of a “nutrition plan,” but because it’s delicious and I feel good about it? Believe me, I can make pretty good smoothies from scratch! I think that letting go of the obsession with food comes with a side effect, at least for me. Once I begin to let go of the need to control food to the point of obsession, it becomes less likely that I will crave the “bad” foods and the giant servings. If I eat good, real food, I no longer crave unnecessary foods. If I enjoy good meals with good friends and relatives, I will so look forward to those times together that I will no longer find the need for the shallower sustenance of unnecessary snacks.

The Reagan Family at Dinner
Image from
There is a television show I like to watch sometimes, called "Blue Bloods." It's about a family of New York City police officers and attorneys whose jobs often intersect with one another. My favorite part of this show is the ending, in which the family gathers together with all generations at the dinner table. They begin with prayer that we in my family call "grace;" that is, a thanksgiving for family, the food we eat, and those who prepared that meal. In my family, this grace is an invitation for the Grace of God to be with us, for the Christ, Lord Jesus, to join us at the meal. The family on this show, the Reagans, are people whose integrity and strength are worthy of emulation. The culmination of their trials and troubles around the breaking of bread is a beautiful symbol of something that is passing away in our culture. It is sad to lose this tradition of family, friends, and food. Perhaps, it is a tradition worthy of resurrection.

I look forward to many excellent meals in the future; not just food, but exquisite moments, shared with good people. Bon appetite!

Image from

*I used Herbalife products to kick off that weight loss. If you're interested, contact my sister Jane Rogers at

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Playlist to Freedom

It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It might seem unnecessary to have a month dedicated to something like this, but the reality is that there is more to Domestic Violence (DV) than the obvious physical abuse suffered by married women. DV includes emotional abuse, psychological abuse, gaslighting, verbal abuse, and control. DV is perpetrated by husbands against wives, wives against husbands, girlfriends against boyfriends, adult children against parents, and parents against children. It occurs in heterosexual relationships and it occurs in same sex relationships. In fact, any regular emotional relationship that can be thought of can be touched by abuse.

I'm not here to give you statistics, but you can get them at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website. Today, I want to share something with you. If you know me in person, you are likely to know already that I am a survivor of DV. I met and married my abuser when I was in the Air Force. We were married for eight years, during which I suffered treatment I had never known could happen between people who professed to love one another. That's why a month like this month is so important. It is possible for a person to come out of such a loving and supportive childhood that they are unaware that DV exists. I am sure there are many others who, like me, were innocent until their partner broke them down. I had no idea I was being broken until he threw the first punch. I wrote a little bit about my story in my first book, Phoenix from the Ashes. It took years to write the book. The first chapters were slammed out on a manual typewriter, keys flying off with the heavy strikes of anger. The anger was at him, for putting me through what he did, but it was also at myself for allowing myself to fall victim to him.

As a poet, I had always wanted to perform my works rather than just read them off the paper at public readings. My memory isn't equal to such a task, nor am I as dramatically developed as I'd like! Still, one day a few years ago, I finally got up the courage and the insistence to speak a piece about my experience in DV and the power I have claimed as I moved from victim to survivor. I was slated to speak at a workshop on Domestic Violence for pastors and other church people, and I decided that would be a good time to perform the piece. I rolled it out at a local open reading for practice, and I videotaped myself doing the poem, which I called Regret.

It was art that saved me. Poetry and music became my refuge. The poetry was my own, and through writing I found myself, the self that had disappeared over the years. The music...well, it was the 1980's and MTV was playing videos. The music encouraged me. It gave me power. Today, I want to share a playlist with you. This is a list of the songs that gave me the power to leave. They opened the door for me to step out into a new world. 

The Eurythmics - Would I Like to You?
Til Tuesday - Voices Carry
Pat Benatar - Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Madonna - Into The Groove
Rolling Stones - It's Only Rock-n-Roll

There were many more, but this handful of songs are the foundation of the strength that took me out the door.  The road was not an easy one, but these songs inspired me to reclaim my life. Perhaps they can inspire someone else. Maybe, they can inspire you.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

A "Christian, and..."

A few days ago, I saw one of those video posts from Buzzfeed. This one had a handful of people who said "I'm a Christian, but I'm not..."

Generally, the idea is that even though these people claim that they ARE Christians, they are NOT any of the things the media tends to present Christianity to be: hateful, judgmental, etc.

Yet, it seems to me that it comes across as judgmental against other Christians.

Not long ago, I was a "Christian But," too. The problem is that I began to realize two things. First, that by differentiating myself from those "other" Christians - the stereotypical "anti-everything-fun" Christians, I was busy judging instead of being the person I was proclaiming myself to be.

This hit home with the Buzzfeed video. Upon reflection, I realized that I am no longer a "Christian But." Here's what I posted to my Facebook page as soon as it hit me:

I think I'm growing out of my "I'm a Christian, but..." phase. I hereby take my stand to reclaim the title "Christian." I am a Christian. I try my best to be the best follower of Jesus that I can be. Spirituality is so much deeper than the title we claim, and so much more satisfying than tossing about epithets and platitudes.

If I've grown out of being a "Christian But," I'm growing into a new phase - I'm a "Christian AND..."

I'm a Christian AND...

I think everyone should be able to marry the person they love.

I'm a Christian AND...

I think there are many ways of coming to God.

I'm a Christian AND...

I believe that God loves everyone.

I'm a Christian AND...

I believe that Jesus invites everyone to the table.

I'm a Christian AND...

I believe there are many ways to follow Christ

I'm a Christian AND...

I believe there are many ways of being spiritual

I'm a Christian AND...

I dance in the moonlight, lift up a mug of mead, hail the Folk (ALL the Folk!), pour libation to the ancestors, Meditate, practice Yoga, and pray every day with the help of my ancestral mothers

I'm a Christian AND

  • I believe that Jesus the man was the perfect revelation of the lives we are created to live while on this earth
  • I believe that Jesus the Christ is the living reminder that there is more beyond this world that we cannot understand
  • I believe that Holy Spirit is the inspiration and the muse for all faith, hope, and love that manifests in this world

I'm a Christian AND

I believe that God is the Process through which all things come into Being;

God Is

One ultimate Truth,
sought by all people
in some way and found
through the spirituality
of individuals and of cultures;
the revelation of scientific discoveries;
the beauty of the rising and setting sun,
the depth of the forests,
the rushing of the rivers,
the grandest colors of the canyons,
and the wondrous detail
of the tiniest living thing;
and most of all,
God is found
through the tenderness of touch,
the gaze of desire,
the wistful smile,
the communion of humanity
in the moment we see
the light of love reflected
in the faces one another.

No, I am longer a "Christian, But..."

From this day forward, I am "Christian, and..."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

It's Crazy, But...

Alright everyone. I think I may be going insane, but here's what's eating at me.

I would really like to earn the new D.Min. offered by Claremont School of Theology​. The first cohort begins in January, and I would love to be in it

It's a hybrid/online program, so I would continue working for my costs of living, transportation, and that sort of thing. However, I'll be looking for ways to pay for the tuition and fees for the classes themselves without taking out loans. I'm paying off enough student loans for my B.A. and M.Div. as it is!

Suggestions for the good of the order?

Oh, and I'll take any prayers you all may have to offer as well!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dreams and Destiny

I’ve been able to do more of the ministries that I truly enjoy since I withdrew from my UAC ordination. Visiting the sick and hospitalized as the volunteer Chaplain for my VFW Ladies’ Auxiliary. Leading a short study of Steve Harper‘s little book on Wesley’s “Five Marks of a Methodist” at my home church; standing in front of a congregation telling little children about Jesus and the gifts God gives us; preaching in the stead of my friend, Rev. Jody Topping, when she was elsewhere.

There are mixtures of feelings that come with these things I do. Trepidation, for one – am I going to mess up? Am I going to forget what I was going to say? Will my theology fall to pieces? Excitement – how fortunate am I to be the one to get to share these stories with the children, with the people!  Happiness when things go alright and nobody tells me I’m inordinately wrong or that the hula hoop analogy was a total flop.

In general, it’s a joy to do these things when I get the chance. But, what’s next?

There must be more.

The Call never leaves; the yearning to answer the Call never lessens. Where is The Voice asking me to go? Could it be that ordination was never the way I was to go?

Of late, I’ve been pondering the possibilities of pursuing my D. Min. at a seminary that offers online/hybrid classes. How such a thing would be paid for is a mystery, though, since I am slowly paying off an extremely large student loan debt as it is.

I had a set of dreams this week, two days in a row. They were dreams about passing on the Wisdom of the Ancients to younger generations; dreams of sharing the blessings of tradition and story with others who hunger for knowledge and spiritual wholeness.

These were not simply dreams, but lucid experiences. They meant something.

I will continue to ponder the messages of my dreams to discover the expectation of my destiny.

In the meantime, I will continue to do these things that feed my soul, and with the Grace of God, feed others as well.

I ask you, are you pursuing that which feeds your soul? Do you hear your Call? Lean your ear, attend to your dreams.

Destiny awaits.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Baby Steps of a Prodigal Daughter

Two weeks ago, I made the final decision to relinquish my Holy Orders from the Universal Anglican Church. This may have come as a surprise to many, though there are a handful of people who knew the struggle I was going through before I resigned. As a result of my resignation, St. Brigid in the Desert became a thing of the past.

While it’s a sad passing, it was the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love the UAC. I believe in what it stands for – the Inter-Spiritual way of doing religion is an important avenue toward creating a better world. I didn’t make my decision lightly. It came after months of prayer and discussion with those I’m closest to. As I wrote to Bishop Craig Berglund, it came with much “gnashing of teeth.”

My time as a priest in the UAC has afforded me the opportunity to perform weddings and other rites of passage, as well as to undergo a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. These have been wonderful experiences, and I hope that the work done through St. Brigid in the Desert was a blessing for everyone involved. However, I found myself experiencing a deep sense of loss at my continued disconnection from the United Methodist Church. In fact, I must give the Universal Anglican Church and its leadership credit, for it was through my ministry with them that I discovered the mistakes I had made when I so quickly ran from my call to ministry with the UMC.

For that’s what I did. I ran. I ran out of embarrassment for mistakes that I made, for some poor decisions that ended up rolling into more poor decisions. It’s not a story that needs to be retold; suffice it to say that after the gift of being a UAC Priest for a year and a half, I realized that my greatest sin was that of pride. I made mistakes, and rather than hold my chin up and move forward into learning from them, I ran away.

In the two years plus that I was away, I have had the joy of representing a church that was founded to meet the needs of many who have been excluded in the past. I have been given the gift of performing wedding ceremonies that recognized the God beyond religion. I have had the opportunity to sit with a handful of individuals and worship God in unique and wonderful ways. However, I have felt the discontent of one who has not been able to fully answer the call to ministry. It is with that discontent that I have wrestled for a long while now, and it was the realization that I did not have the vehicle for answering that call more fully that started me on the path back to the United Methodist Church.

I give thanks to God that through my friend and fellow seminary student Sonsiris, I found the UAC in my hour of need. I give thanks to God that my home congregation at Gold Canyon United Methodist Church has accepted me back as a member.

It will be a year before I know if I will be accepted back to the certification process toward commissioning and ordination. This time, I will use that year to pay better attention, to learn humility, and to prepare myself better. This time, I will remember: there is no rush, there is no hurry; I will be who God is calling me to be in God’s own time. In fact, each day, I am who God made me. What God and I do with that will happen in baby steps, day by day.

Roses from my yard; the scent is a lovely reminder of God's Love.