burn the house down

“I’m a little kid and so are you. Don’t you go and grow up before I do. I’m a little kid with so much doubt. Do you want to be there to see how I turn out?” ~ Turning Out, AJR

“Way up, way up, we go. Been up and down that road. Way up, way up, oh no. We gon’ burn the whole house down. Watch me stand in the line. You’re only serving lies. You’ve got something to hide. We gon’ burn the whole house down. We gon’ burn the whole house down.” ~ Burn the House Down, AJR

This coming of age story is brought to you by dystopian fiction, dystopian reality, and burning bridges that only led to my own destruction.

From ashes come new life.

Here’s to 7 years of healing from sexual assault, 23 years of surviving sexual abuse, and 27 years of surviving fundamentalism. Here’s to burning it all down and walking away from things that hurt me. I think I turned out alright.

And still the body remembers. The body remembers what you did to her. The lies, the manipulation, every unwanted touch, every chisel you used to sculpt her into what you wanted. The body remembers and she won’t go back there.

Childhood is such a strange thing. Especially when it’s stolen from you.

“You say I turned out fine. I think I’m still turning out…” (Turning Out, AJR)

They tell me I’m resilient now. That this has made me stronger. And it has…but I never wanted to be strong. I only ever wanted to be a kid with a “normal” childhood where I wasn’t afraid of hell, or my father, or the deacon and neighbor in my church. Or my ex-boyfriend.

One thing I’ve realized is that I was robbed. Robbed of innocence, of my early adulthood years. So I’m taking back what was mine. Because it was never theirs to begin with. They had no right to take ownership of this body, this soul, this mind. I will have the last say and the last laugh.

Childhood is such a strange thing. Especially when it is taken from those who become presidents, senators, judges, pastors, fathers.

We are taking back what is ours. Which means we are willing to make your lives a living hell for taking from us what was rightfully ours.

We are our own and no one else’s.

We will burn the whole house down and leave no brick standing. Not only will be burn the house down…we’ll rebuild it as a healing, safe place for everyone to coexist.

So, to all the men who stole my childhood:

You can go fuck yourselves. We’re out here exposing you for what you are.

We’re burning the whole house down.

This coming of age story is brought to you by people who are taking their lives back, by  the healers, the over-comers, the arsonists who burn bridges when they need to.

And this coming of age story is brought to you by those of us who are building new bridges. We turned out alright.

From ashes come new life.



dreams within a dream

0HibVeZITR6klGvjV8d37g“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.” ~ Colin Kaepernick, Dream Crazy Nike Commercial

“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:23-24

Once upon a time, at a conservative Christian summer camp I felt God “calling me into ministry” at the age of 14. And then the church broke my fucking heart. They told me I didn’t belong and couldn’t possibly pursue a calling into the pastorate. For a while, I didn’t want to and avoided it like the plague because let’s face it, organized religion often doesn’t have a place for those of us on the outside looking in.

But God has a funny sense of humor doesn’t she. Guess what past abusers, my undergrad college, friends who left me because I came out as queer and not a republican: This kid’s starting an MDiv program pursuing ordination and chaplaincy next week.

I fought it as hard as I could and here I am. I was Thomas seeing my Lord crucified and having all my dreams crushed. Because they weren’t my dreams but the dreams others had for me. And yet, much like Mary Magdalene, I’ve seen the risen Christ and still he calls me and has never stopped loving me and accepting me as I am even when the church did.

Like Mary Magdalene I say, “I have seen the Lord…” and no one believed me either, Mary. They laughed, or black balled me and told me I was a heretic. And yet Jesus calls to me still and I say, “My Lord and my God.” 

Self-doubt is persnickety. That’s a sentence I wrote earlier this week and thought, who the hell says persnickety. Jesus. I’m way too hard on myself and most of that is learned behavior. I am so tired. and I am done with people ignoring my boundaries.

Boundaries…because I need to be able to give myself fully to whatever task I’m doing presently or whoever I’m with instead of dividing myself up so everyone can have a piece of me to use and/or abuse. That hurts everyone including me.

Boundaries…because even the ocean and the sky have some separation.

Boundaries…not to shut people out but to only let in what is helpful and good not what is harmful and destructive to me.

BOUNDARIES because it is not a sin to take care of yourself so you can take care of others better.

Boundaries because I am not a hotline for folks to call at all hours of the day or night. I am a human being who needs to recharge before I get overwhelmed.

I have learned finally that my body, my mind, my soul are not reusable resources for abusers to pimp out, or well meaning but overbearing mothers to manipulate. Or even for friends who come calling.

This calling requires of me to realize that I am a multidimensional person and am worth protecting and conserving energy for. Who knew you could be more than one thing when you grow up.

I am a renewable energy source but only when I take the time to renew and recharge.

All that to say, I have finally let myself dream again and pursue those dreams. Whereas before, others controlled what I let myself dream. I was living in someone else’s dreams and those dreams were often my nightmares.

It’s time to dream again even if it seems crazy to other people or if they are offended that I’m prioritizing my self for the first time ever.

I’m here to give you a message from an unlikely source: Maybe there’s more to life than meets the eye if you’re brave enough to seek it out.

“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough…”

the greatest of these is love


“We’re like the legend of the phoenix, our ends with beginnings. What keep the planets spinning, the force of love beginning. We’ve come too far to give up who we are. So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars.” ~ Get Lucky, Daft Punk

“Instructions for living a life: 

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.” ~ Mary Oliver

“Who’s gonna save the world tonight. Who’s gonna bring you back to life.” ~ Save the World, Swedish House Mafia

Sometimes making yourself write things doesn’t work out so well, so I guess I’m going to try the streams of consciousness method today. *beats head against keyboard* You could say this is a Part 2 to my last post “of noisy gongs and clanging cymbals.”

Good news: I’m starting an MDiv program at Iliff School of Theology in less than a month!

Less good news: Life doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all and I’m having a hard time processing everything. Especially hard is that my brain has decided to process things from being isolated from my family/former church RIGHT NOW instead of like, 6-9 months ago when it seemed more relevant.

Healing is not linear, someone on Twitter said not too long ago. And they sure as hell were right.

Why so anxious dear one? Nothing needs to be solved. Just let things be. Even the sad, painful things. Don’t lose your soul to grief but by all means let yourself feel your pain.

My mom keeps saying that God is speaking to her so that’s why she keeps pestering me with emails complete with Bible verses, cards, letters, etc even when I’ve asked for boundaries. But I guess sometimes God works in mysterious ways.

The most recent two page letter I received last week mentioned my mom’s time in the hospital with cancer and how everything happens for a reason. She wrote, “Someone told me the other day that most people don’t live through what I did when I had my cancer and was in the hospital. But I had never thought about it like that. God had a plan and it was for me to still be here right now. Making the most of the time given is what He wants me to do. It’s what He wants all of us to do…”

The rest of the letter is pretty rambly and mostly sounded like she’s guilty for how she and the church treated me and that I’m hurting. It’s such fun to have someone vent to you about you.

Nonetheless, I do think God was speaking. Not necessarily to my mom but through her in a sense. See, I think God speaks through love. Even attempts at love though they may be manipulative or misunderstood. Love gets through the cracks of the most broken things that still need to be healed in us. Love gets through and sometimes it comes from unexpected sources. God speaks through that.

I’ve been wrestling with what my calling to ministry is since I’ve all but given up on serving in a church setting. One thing I’ve learned is that the church exists outside of buildings, systemic oppressive worship spaces, and denominations that cover up abuse and brainwash their parishioners.

I think God has a plan. It’s for me to still be here right now when being in the church I grew up in almost killed me. I think God has a plan for me to minister to those who’ve been pushed out of church, those who are in psych wards and hospitals who are in need of pastoral care.  I think that calling is to be a presence. Not simply of a spiritual advisor who had all the answers. But someone who could be a presence of calm and care in moments of trauma and pain.

I would like to be the pastor that I never had as crazy as that sounds.

Sometimes a “calling” into ministry doesn’t look like the fundamentalists told me it did. It doesn’t look like being a submissive and silent person who lets men decide all their decisions. It doesn’t look like denying myself happiness and self-care. It doesn’t look like denying your sense of self, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

I once wrote these words almost a year ago and I put them here again:

For those who have been pushed out when they should have been welcomed in

For those who were promised a safe space but were met with shame and hatred of Other

Peace be with you. May the love of Christ surround you.

For those who were willing to give up everything for their faith but then their faith asked them to kill a piece of themselves to exist.

For those who feel broken and used by those who promised love and acceptance

Peace be with you. May the love of Christ make you whole again.

Peace be with you and to you because Christ is for you and in you.

There is a place for you at the table. Come, sit and know that you belong and that you are loved.

Peace be with you and may the love of Christ fill you.

In the words of Mary Oliver, I think the wild geese are calling for me to take my “place in the family of things.” (from her poem, Wild Geese) The best way to fulfill each of our callings on our lives is to allow ourselves to be fully who we are without apology or shame. The best way to do that is to love ourselves and each other well.

As Jesus puts it, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” ~ John 13:34

of noisy gongs and clanging cymbals

bINq5RB3Rr+Bk9hHR26amw(Content Note for talk of hell, spiritual abuse, etc.)

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plants and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” ~ I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in god, and God lives in them…Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he first loved us.” ~ I John 4:16, 18-19

Growing up, fear and love were inseparable concepts. Because my parents “loved me,” they would punish me and my siblings physically instilling fear anytime I remotely thought I might be doing something wrong.

Because God “loved me,” and didn’t want me to die and go to hell, God supposedly killed his son, Jesus on a Roman cross because of my sins. Unsure what “sins” a 6 year old can commit exactly other than maybe being a kid and not always listening well to my parents, but I do know I believed all of that. And “got saved” at that age–which is fundamentalist/evangelical speak for I confessed my sins to God and “accepted” that Jesus died to take the punishment for my sins.

Love and fear might as well have been the same thing. And all the other kids I grew up with most certainly didn’t want to go to hell either. To the point that we were told we had to evangelize our classmates in elementary school so they wouldn’t go to hell.

Love also included never questioning anything the adults or pastor said and inevitably meant never questioning anything. Which is pretty damn hard for an inquisitive kid. As it turns out, the reason I often don’t ask questions today is because I’m afraid. I am afraid that asking questions will mean getting into trouble with authority figures, or friends, or even sometimes my partner. As it turns out, I’m also afraid to ask for what I want or need. Better to sit in silence and never speak out than to suffer consequences.

It turns out that’s how cults work but not how the real world is supposed to work.

“Such love has no fear,” the Apostle John wrote of God’s love. And yet my mother sends me emails often about how much God loves me while also implying I should forgive my abusive father. The word forgive here meaning still interact with regardless of past abuses.

“Such love has no fear…” Love and fear do not coexist. Where love truly is…fear cannot come. Fear is not welcome here. And love is not manipulative. It is not saying “I love you” a hundred times over like a  faucet dripping constantly. It is not shouting “I LOVE YOU” while disregarding boundaries. It is not bible verses sent with an ulterior motive. It is not telling your gay kid they need to repent because they’re embarrassing you in front of your church friends. It is NOT gossiping about people’s “lifestyles” behind their backs.

“Such love has no fear…” Love and fear do not coexist. To be truly loved is to be safe and cared for and accepted as you are. 

Love is not a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. You’re just making a racket and giving everyone a headache.

If you speak of a God of love, justice, and compassion, a God who saves. And then you tell me that God’s love, justice, and compassion are conditional for someone like me, you are a noisy gong and clanging cymbal. If you say you love LGBTQ folks and are “concerned for our souls and eternal destiny” but aren’t concerned that we’re being murdered and committing suicide because of your beliefs…YOU ARE A NOISY GONG AND A CLANGING CYMBAL.

And while I’m at it, and still pissed off at The Gospel Coalition and the “religious liberty task force”:

You speak of morality and religious liberty. You speak of ethics. What is unethical and immoral is denying part of who people are. Denying them access to healthcare, public restrooms, jobs.

My identity is in Christ… as an LGBTQ individual created in the image of a God who not only created human beings as male and female, straight and cisgender but ALSO everywhere in between. Intersex, non binary, bisexual, gay.

Let me put it this way:

The universe is vast and wonderfully beautiful and complex. It is beyond binaries that we have created to understand it and the humans that exist in it. Human beings exist outside of predetermined categories. God created us to express our differences including sexuality and gender identity. How else could you get a world that not only has millions of ice cream flavors, billions of stars, and queer people.

Broaden your horizons, dear ones, because your god seems small and full of contradictions if you think everything is binary. We don’t even know half of what’s in the ocean. A God that can exist outside of the gender binary is not bound by narrow hermeneutics.

That is a God of Ethiopian eunuchs and Apostle Paul

Of Mary Magdalene and Simon Peter

Of the woman at the well and Nicodemus

That is a God who walked 33 years in our shoes and loves all of us as we are.

“Such love has no fear…”



stop the bleeding


“You are not waiting for permission.” ~ Jamie Lee Finch, on the Millenneagram Podcast

“When you soak a child in shame, they cannot develop the neurological pathways that carry thoughts of self worth…self-hatred is only ever a seed planted from the outside in.” ~ Hannah Gadsby, from her Netflix special Nanette

“Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, pleading fervently with him. ‘My little daughter is dying,’ he said. ‘Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.’ Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse.

She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, ‘If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.’ Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my robe?’ His disciples said to him, ‘Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?”  

But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” ~ Mark 5:21-34

“Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over,” Jesus says to a woman who has suffered for twelve years from bleeding that just. won’t. stop. Sometimes we have to seek out our own healing and become the instruments of that healing. And sometimes the people who seem most qualified to help us make us worse (ie biological family, doctors, etc.)

Sometimes we have to seek our own healing. Sometimes…healing is a choice. Or maybe it always is. Sometimes others have the power to set us free or hold us captive and they don’t want our healing. They want our fear, our money, or loyalty. They want the control they can hold over us.

Jesus came to heal, to bring those outside their community back into relationship. He came to alleviate suffering. So, a woman whose name we don’t know comes and only wants to touch his clothes because she knows Jesus’ very essence brings healing. She seeks her own healing even though she’s been seeking it for so long–this is her desperation, her last-ditch effort to be welcomed back into a community that excommunicates those who are different.

I know a little too much what that’s like so on this last Friday of Pride Month, it’s appropriate for me to be here saying, you can choose your own god damn healing regardless of what others may think in the crowd around you. You can choose your own god damn healing from the demons and people who have controlled you and told you are not worthy, that you should hate yourself. As this Pride Month comes to a close, my father choose to continue seeking control that he no longer has, so here’s me seeking my own healing in a letter just for me to remind myself of that:

Dearest Dad,

The apostle John wrote these words that would do you well to heed, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” ~ I John 4:18


Please tell me why I should make myself small again and re-traumatize myself in order to maintain a relationship with you. for no other reason than that you are my “daddy” and you say you “love” me? You may have helped bring me into existence but I survived in spite of you. I do not need you in my life in order to live it. I choose living over surviving. Mama said you were hurting…imagine that. Imagine how those around you–your children, your wife, your friends, your parishioners have been hurt. Because you taught me to fear you and called it respect. You called that control love. You told me I would go to hell if I didn’t “accept Christ as my Savior” and then you showed me what hell was like on earth. Spanking you said was the “biblical” way to discipline your children. Except this discipline was oftentimes just for being kids. The psychological effects of your words were worse, because that wasn’t the only time you touched me without regard for my well-being. You do not own your wife’s or children’s bodies. You never will, but you damn well thought you did.

I do not owe you a relationship. The very definition of abuse seems to be telling someone you love them while doing and saying things that shame and harm them. Love is NOT equal to fear. Leave me the fuck alone until you can learn this. 

Once you told me you’d rather die than see me with a woman, so I’m making sure you don’t because while you seek to control me, I seek no ill will against you. You see, I’m still “respecting” you. Really, I’m choosing to respect myself. However, when you told me that, I wondered briefly if you’d rather have a dead child than a gay one. I do not seek your approval or anyone else’s to live my life on my own terms for my own safety and well-being. 

If you paid attention to anyone else’s feelings and beliefs, you’d know…you do not deserve the respect you demand. If you ever admitted to any wrong doing that is. You think I have lost my way and am in rebellion against God. You are NOT the prodigal son’s father who gets to be the hero of this story. I think it is YOU who have lost your way. 

Jesus loves me. And Jesus loves me unconditionally. May God have mercy on your soul for you have broken the spirit of a child who has grown into an adult who won’t take your shit anymore.

I choose my own goddamn healing. I choose to help myself stop the bleeding that you caused. Jesus loves me this I know. In spite of all you’ve done to make me believe the contrary.


Fuck you.




You should use correct grammar

They said with a hammer

As they beat me into a box that confined me


In a house that was meant

To accommodate she and he but not they

This house wasn’t meant to be home



That feeling that I have always lived in someone else’s house

And used someone else’s tools

To live in someone else’s world


I put the words together to please the general public

As they attempted to tether me

Within the walls of a house I was not invited into



You see, parts of my body, my given pronouns, even my name

Sometimes have felt like living in someone else’s house

But not having a place to call home


You should use correct grammar

I said with my own hammer

As I constructed a house meant for They

on the 2nd anniversary of pulse


(Content Note for discussion of mass shootings, homophobia, and suicide)

June 12, 2018. the 2 year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. This morning, I woke up feeling like there was just this heavy weight sitting on my chest. Much like when I woke up at an unusually early hour two years ago on Sunday, June 12, 2016 to check twitter.

It still feels surreal. Sometimes it still feels like it happened yesterday. Two years ago, I was only out to a few close friends and on Twitter. And I actually remember thinking to myself, “if other people want me dead, why don’t I just end things myself before they get the chance to kill me.” Which, SEEMS excessive but in reality, the amount of people on the LGBTQ community who have been suicidal, have attempted to end their own lives, or have actually died by suicide is so high.

Thankfully, I haven’t felt that way for two years, but it still hurts. It’s still scary to live in this world realizing people think either you don’t exist, or shouldn’t exist. It’s been two whole fucking years, y’all. And we’re still out here fighting, dying, living, celebrating, and resisting.

“for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Romans 8:36)

I know we don’t usually like the apostle Paul because he was kind of the worst, but when Paul reflects on this verse from Psalm 44, I felt that. And yet, he also wrote that nothing separates us from the love of God in the same passage. Not even homophobia, or mass shootings. Not self-loathing, or self-harm.

So, let’s contrast all that hate and grief and loss with love. Love that keeps us going. The kind of love that’s community, belonging, checking in on friends after a national tragedy to make sure they’re ok. It’s hellos and goodbyes from friends you met on the internet when they show up to support you at your wedding. It’s your best friend welcoming you into her home when parents go on homophobic rants that make you fearful for your safety.

It’s people respecting your pronouns and making you feel like you can be yourself when you’ve never been able to be yourself.

It’s seeing the love of your life in her wedding dress for the first time and realizing you get to marry such an amazing, good person. And just getting to do life with her knowing you’re finally safe and loved for who you are.

God is love…and you are so very loved.

You are loved and your love is not wrong. It’s beautiful, and brilliant. And all the colors of the rainbow.chelseamehalekphotography-160

“When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.” ~ Lin-Manuel Miranda, part of the sonnet he used during his acceptance speech at the Tony’s in 2016