8 Prayers I Can Actually Pray

2405426656_1a43ff61ee_z

It is a really good idea to do a “more like me series”… unless you’ve lost the point of it. Unless your compass feels like it is spinning with no clear, due North.

And so it is with a heavy sigh that I publicly admit that I need the freedom to write in another direction, into the unknown somewhere in which I will actually become more like me in ways that I can’t plot out at the beginning.

To those of you on Facebook group, I eagerly encourage you to join us over at Leannepenny.com where I will be writing again to whatever end the Spirit leads.

Last month I was supposed to center my writing and reflection around the practice of prayer. That didn’t happen. In fact I didn’t pen a single blog post last month, let alone one that inspired or led people into a deeper understanding of prayer.

So in all irony, in April, after I have cancelled the series I feel the ability to say this:

I am not convinced that prayer changes God’s plans. I do believe it centers me around God but I don’t understand why I should pray for healing, for God to intervene, to show up. If he loves and heals, why not show up and heal? If he intervenes, why not do so? Why does my asking him to do so over a mug of cheap coffee have the power to change his mind?

So I struggle and I float around prayer, circling it like a boxer, like a confused cat or a drunken black fly.

I do not know what to make of it.

So as I went through March, not really praying or writing about prayer I noticed a few small points of light surrounding the topic. A few prayers I can actually, in good faith, pray.

6230635833_aeaf391669_z

They are as follows:

Prayer of the Fireplace

When fall began to take things seriously, Kel went out and bought a box containing several dozen Duraflame fire starters. I used them up, never quite understanding or trusting their magic. The ran out in late February, but I had grown so accustomed to the company of a warm fire that I began to improvise, using dried twigs and scraps of newspaper to start a fire as God intended. I gathered, knelt, fanned flame with forceful breath, and saw God, my soul murmured something akin to: Thank you God for warmth in the midst of snow, for the creativity displayed in the glow of those unearthly embers. Continue reading

Reclaiming Sex (Lauri’s Story)

Lauri Rowe has been my biggest encouragement and sounding board this month as I dug deep on sexuality, it seems only fitting her end by sharing her story.


 

Sex! What a small word! 3 little letters, but so powerful. Some may call it a dirty word, but others see it as life giving. What do you think when you hear the word Sex?

It may make you uncomfortable or excited and it has certainly been both censored and exploited. For most of us it brings a wealth of emotions like pain, sadness, joy, fear and even comfort. For me it has evoked all of those feelings and some feelings I can’t even find words for.

I am a married, 42 year old mom of 2 and a Christian. I married a flawed, amazing, handsome Christian man and together, we’ve come a long way in our 20 years of marriage. For most of those years I have struggled with that three letter word, sex.

I’ve had to pull back a lot of layers to make peace with my own sexuality. I was not a virgin when I got married so for the first few years I had to tend to the baggage of that. Then my marriage suffered some gut punches, I think most marriages suffer the same. Ours could have been knock out punches but with God’s grace we survived.

During the past 20 years I’ve gone from a person who was clueless about her sexuality to someone who values sexuality as a gift from God. It wasn’t an overnight transformation, it took a lot of work and soul searching. I never thought I would see my sexuality this way. If anything I thought it was something that kept me separated from my maker. I never heard anything positive from a pastor or youth leader about my sexuality, actually quite the opposite.

lauri-rowe-church-sexI grew up believing my sexual urges made me weak, a sinner. I’m not blaming anyone here, but that was the message my teenage brain received. I understand now at 42 that my pastors and youth leaders were trying to protect me, but still it didn’t make sense to 15 yr old me. I wonder now how my story would have played out if I’d been exposed to the truth. Continue reading

On Earth As It Is In Heaven- Talking Sexuality With Nicole Romero

Hey friends, I am so excited about this post, I promise I don’t need to say more, Nicole’s got it all covered. Forgive us that it’s technically March but, I think you’ll understand. 


Before we talk about vulnerable, passionate things I like to get to know each other.

HI! I’m Leanne’s friend Nicole and I like to get myself in trouble. I am a pastor and I founded “Love and Making It” – an online class and community created to help women lead brave and beautiful lives in bed and out. I will cross oceans to see you believe your own beauty and experience passionate love.

Listen. We are bombarded with sights and sounds that tell us we are just not good enough and neither is our spouse. Let’s rebel against all of those messages together! Sound good? Grab my hand, let’s go. …

**
Love and Making It: on earth as it is in heaven

How far do you let yourself imagine the goodness of sex and the body? Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Porn

A friend and reader asked if she could submit her story and contribution to our month of sexuality anonymously. Her marriage recently ended after a decades long struggle with porn addiction. As I prepare this entry to go live, I am praying that it goes where it needs to go, that God uses her painful story to free others who feel alone in this struggle.

Let’s talk about porn.

If I’d read that sentence a few years ago, I’d have shied away. I won’t blame you if you do, but I no longer have that luxury.

Several months ago, three police officers came to my door twenty minutes before the kids were due home from school. They were there to arrest my husband. Even after he was sitting in jail, it still took a few days for my honest, no-games-playing husband of twenty-one years to admit to taking part in a several-month “relationship” with someone in a sex chat room who said she was fourteen. She wasn’t; but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

That was the culmination of an eight-year sex chat room addiction. Other truths rolled out, depending on what I had evidence for, including many online flirtations as himself, using his own name (you’re anonymous in the chat rooms), but at least these seemed to be with adult women. It turns out he’d been addicted to online porn since there was such a thing. It started out with images and videos, but the more he saw, the more immune he’d get to it, and the more danger, the more transgression he needed to get the same old thrill, so he got into graphic sexual conversations with strangers.

All while refusing to have any kind of regular sex life with me.

 

porn-kills-marriages

We’d done so many things right. We were together for two years before we married. I was an “everything but penetration” kind of gal, and although we didn’t have sex with each other until we were married, we had a good time. Both our parents were still married. We valued our families of origin, and enjoyed spending time with them. We became very involved in every church we belonged to. We supported each other’s gifts and talents. We were both attractive, interesting, passionate people who always had more to talk about than our kids.

But sex had never gone particularly well. It was fine, but eventually the bedroom became a place of anger, shame, and heavy stress. Continue reading

Bodily Consent and the Image of God (And A Free Book Giveaway)

My friend Abby is bright, intelligent and amazing, I secretly think there may be two of her… She’s a High School English teacher and mother of two who has in dominating online media with her TedX Talk and articles for Huffington Post.

Her passion for healthy sexuality and consent based parenting is contagious. Today she is not only sharing a piece of that but giving away three copies of her book, Consent Based Parenting (which is on .99, come on!)

When it comes to bodies, and what we teach about them, our house has one rule that trumps everything else. Everyone is in charge of their own bodies. The exceptions are few and far between. If someone is making choices that will cause them harm, then we intervene. Otherwise the rule stands.

Everyone is in charge of their own bodies.

This is not always the easiest way to parent. Because everyone is in charge of their own body, I do not always get to choose what my kids wear, even to church. I sometimes cringe when my wild girls in their rain boots and rainbow tights sit next to their perfectly coiffed peers. Would it kill them to want to wear shoes and hair bows that coordinate with tasteful dresses? It has been difficult to explain to long-distance relatives why my girls are not necessarily going to “Come give aunt-Pheobe a HUG!!” But the rule stands. Everyone is in charge of their own body. If my kid doesn’t want to hug you, I am not going to make her. Period.

We have this rule, that everyone is in charge of their own body, because we want to be as clear as possible with our four and five year old girls about their own bodies and what is and is not expected from them.

The unspoken expectations on women’s bodies can be overwhelming and confusing. Look good, not too good. Be assertive, but not bitchy. Don’t be a prude, but never put yourself in a compromising position. Do flirt, but not too much. There is no way to win. This game is set up for my girls to lose.

The game is set up, really for everyone to lose. If our bodies are seen as pieces in some kind of power game where the object is for each person is only playing for themselves, then someone is going to get hurt. It is guaranteed. I don’t think that is what God intended. In fact, I am sure of it.

God calls us to mutual submission, and you can’t have mutual submission if someone isn’t in charge of themselves. Submission is something you choose. Not because you owe it to someone else, and certainly not because someone is forcing something on you.

In order for us to interact with each other as sexual, bodily beings, we must recognize the image of God in each person, and respect them accordingly. This starts from the beginning. It starts with our kids first interactions with their bodies and the world. It starts with teaching our kids that they are in the image of God in word and deed. I show my kids that they are made in the image of God by allowing them as much autonomy as I can. And, I want to teach them that everyone else is made in the image of God as well. If mommy is made in the image of God, then that means you can’t hit her just because you are mad, or hang on her when she is tired and hurting. If your sister is made in the image of God, you can’t force her to play with you just because you are bored. You can’t hit your friends, and if they don’t want a hug you need to respect them.

My kids are far from dating age, but as a high school teacher, it is very clear to me that those days are coming. Before we start talking about sexual feelings, and restraint, and making responsible decisions in very heated situations, I want them to have a strong sense of respect and autonomy. I want them to be comfortable and in control of their own bodies. I want them to be able to recognize their feelings and decide whether or not to act on those feelings. I want their choices to be THEIR choices.
I hope that my girls are comfortable in their bodies. And I hope that comfort comes from respecting the image of God in themselves. I can model this for them by respecting the image of God in them. For my house, that means everyone is in charge of their own body.


Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 1.43.11 PMAbby lives in the city of Atlanta with her husband and two feisty girls. She has been teaching English for the last ten years and blogging for the last five. She swears a lot for a teacher and mother, but she just likes all the words. She is currently working on a manuscript about her first year of teaching in an inner-city school. She is also working on teaching her four-year-old how to feed herself. She blogs about education, mothering and spirituality at Accidental Devotional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


If you like this, there’s more words in store, to keep up easily use the box below to have new posts from this blog delivered to your inbox.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurnerAnd when share with your friends, well that makes me pretty happy. 

You can also find me on twitter,  Facebook and Instagram as well. Join the conversation on all fronts, that’s my recommendation…

On Shaving And Valentines Day

2571190350_a50cba0402_z

I received a text from my friend the other day, I am going to let her remain anonymous.

She asked me how the new sexuality series is going and told me how excited she was about the idea.

“I’m really tired of people thinking that marriage is where sex goes to die” she wrote me. She wrote about how she thinks our culture and society does a terrible job at portraying sex in marriage and then she added a quote … “Societies become the stories that they tell.”

In our societies we often perpetrate the idea that sex is only good before your wedding day, or right at the beginning or definitely before kids.

“It’s been told to us so thoroughly that we don’t even question it or realize that we have agreed with it.”

And she is absolutely right.

She texted me again last night: “Hey remember what I always told you about valentines day?”

Yup, I did. “Always shave your legs on valentines day.”

And then it all clicked, she was right, I stopped doing it after we got married, not because I think Kel particularly cares but because I didn’t think it mattered.

But I feel sexier with smooth legs, and painted nails for that matter. Continue reading

The Story Behind The Sticker

I can’t count the number of times I have been stuck in traffic or on the freeway behind a vehicle sporting a “my kid is…” bumper sticker. I’m bet you’ve lost track as well.

You know the sort of sticker I’m talking about right? They say something like “my kid is on the honor roll at such and such school” or “my kid could beat up your honor roll student.” (to which I reply “good for your perfect kid” and “I think I’ll give you a wide berth because you scare me.”)

I always assumed that the award winning kids behind the stickers were the real life equivalent of Hermione Granger of Harry Potter fame, rule abiding know it alls and teacher’s pets. The sort of kids you brag about and drive the other moms nuts with.

The Perfect kids.

Then my husband Kel texted me a grainy video which prompted me to burst into tears.

Earlier in the day my phone lit up with the name of my daughter Noelle’s school for the second day in a row. The first time was due to a pants malfunction on superhero day, bummer, a pain, but manageable. 

12643032_552403537857_7593456076903343812_n

The bad pants debacle

I have only one reaction when I see that my children’s schools are calling midday. Oh Expletive %#*@… Continue reading

More Like Me February Kickoff- Let’s Talk About Sex(uality) Baby #1

and i'm yours(To Join the More Like Me Facebook Community, Click Here!)

So as we kick off this month on sexuality, I want to say something right off the bat: WE are doing this together and I AM not an expert. Every one of these monthly topics was chosen because I need it too, I need to unlearn some lies and grow into the truth.

And this month has me nervous, because sexuality is so deep and nuanced and full of passion, it can bring up deep pain when misused through abuse and also release us to be wild and free and fully alive.

So here we go, a month of learning about Sexuality. It is February 1st and my prayer is that neither you nor I will be the same when the calendar reads February 29. It is a leap year guys, I checked.

Overview
Sexuality is not just who we are in bed, it is a foundational part of who we are that is not to be ignored. It is spiritual, physical and psychological. There is not an aspect of our lives which in which it does not hold sway. This is not to say that one gender is above another. On the contrary this series will be written from an Egalitarian perspective as I believe that “Masculinity and femininity are fluid, relative, and difficult to pin down. And, contrary to what many of these leaders seem to be suggesting, one is not preferable to the other, in the Church or in worship.” ~Rachel Held Evans

Be Vulnerable
(deep breath because… it’s getting real) I am not the most sexually confident person you know online, or in real life. I am a little bit uptight and I have, in my marriage and in general, had a hard time being comfortable with my sexuality. I have struggled transitioning sex from the taboo, True Love Waits thing it was in my adolescence, to the “all good to go” thing it is supposed to be now that I am married. This is why this topic landed on my list of “more like me” in the first place. I want too… de-prude-ify myself a bit, have a healthier marriage, more confidence and a better ability to relax and understand what I was created for. Continue reading

The Point Of January- More Like Me Post #3

Hey guys, before I dive in to what I want to say this morning, I wanted to apologize for being flighty this month. Can I claim personality type there? No… 

I have been sick and sad over the passing of my aunt and our basement flooded leading to clean up and general feelings of “oh screw it.”

So now, on to the point of January, wrapping up month one of More Like Me 2016.

The reason I chose “Know Yourself” for January is because it is so foundational for the success of the rest of the year.

Often we look at the success of others around us and try to imitate their approaches. When we come up short, we blame ourselves for sucking.

New Year's EveWhy am I so bad at this when they are so good?

Here is a struggle I deal with: two of my closest friends are very strong J-types on the Meyer’s Briggs scale. Everything has a place, they don’t have “junk drawers” and their idea of a messy house is a couple of abandoned library books and a coffee cup on the counter.

My house is clean but lived in and fairly well organized, but my washi tape and pens do not live in glass apothecary jars and the shakers in my spice cupboard do not match, theirs do. They also keep label makers in their kitchens.

I have several junk drawers and even my organized drawers are like… mostly measuring cups and spoons but I think the meat thermometer also lives in there… and maybe spare bottle pieces and ooh a quarter! Score!  Continue reading

In Finite Sadness

If I ever had a post go viral, it was this one. I still get traffic and comments on it, because people hate clichés, they hurt. No one wants their deepest pain to be dismissed, over generalized, or completely misunderstood.

Death is unbearable and it deserves all the, confused, hurt, angry expletives you want to throw at it. Go ahead, I won’t judge.

My Aunt Sue passed away in her sleep earlier this week. A month or so ago she fell down the stairs, broke many bones, fought her way through surgery and rehab and a lot of pain.

We were so thankful to have her back. She was home for five days before dying in her sleep and we have no idea what happened. We are in shock,

It doesn’t make any sense, I have a few expletives.

Her sister, my other aunt, said this in a recent email: “How much sadness can there be in the world?”

I was thinking over that question this morning while cleaning up the breakfast dishes. Dishes, in my house feel infinite.

3

Then I ran downstairs and rotated laundry. If ever there was infinity on earth it is laundry with kids.

With laundry going, I ran upstairs to wipe down the highchair. Highchair-cleaning to me seems infinite, there is banana goo everywhere …no matter what I do.

Clara toddled around after me as I made my way through my “after the kids are off to school” routine.

As I caught her toothy, wild-haired grin behind me I realized… her toddling is not infinite. In that moment it felt ever so temporary.

And for that highchair won’t be here for long either, soon she will be on the farmhouse bench next to her brother and sister, joining the chorus of nitpicking any dinner that isn’t pizza or tacos.

And the dishes, they are numbered as well, they aren’t really infinite. There is a set number of dishes I will wash before I die, I don’t want to know what that number is as it would surely cause weeping and gnashing of teeth, but dishes too… finite.

And the sadness? The seemingly infinite sadness? That too will not last forever… will it? Continue reading