Leannepenny.com http://www.leannepenny.com Journeying with those hurting, healing and choosing joy Thu, 22 Dec 2016 00:38:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.11 Namaste, Bunnies. http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/12/21/namaste-bunnies/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/12/21/namaste-bunnies/#comments Thu, 22 Dec 2016 00:38:30 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4751 Continue reading ]]> Hey friend, first of all I want to offer my apologies for abandoning you all of 2016, what a year to peace out, yikes.

This year, I’ve started a podcast, which is where a lot of my creative energy has gone. Check us out here if you’d like to tune in, it’s called The Mom Life Crisis and you can listen on iTunes and Sticher and you know… podcasty places.

We talk about living well at the intersection of womanhood and motherhood, which is a tricky address to call home.

But today, I think I want to talk about bunnies and people who are hard to love. Obviously these two things go together, I mean clearly.

So, on election day, because stress, I adopted a baby bunny for my kids as an early Christmas present. We named him Alexander Bunnington, because 2016 has ALSO been the year of the musical Hamilton.

So, for the last 2 months-ish we have been caring for Alex as we call him and I have to admit I’m smitten. He’s playful and sweet and gives copious kisses. He’s easy to love because he just quietly loves me and follows me around the house, he doesn’t for much and he goes nuts when I walk into the room.

So, Alex is a winner, a star, a prince of a bunny, he’s the homecoming king of rabbits.


Lap snuggle bunny.

Last week we ended up with bunny number 2, a rabbit whom we are choosing to call Brimley, after Walter Brimley, the mustachioed king of diabetes commercials. Brimley is a rescue bunny who came to us with severely overgrown bunny nails and a coat in deep need of a brushing.


Brimley during his first minute in our house.

Brimley is crabby and he’s tired and even though he’s only one year old, he moves like an old man bunny, again hence the name, Brimley.

We were told that he was a doll, an easy to love adoptee with a heart of gold but in the end he behaves exactly like one would expect given his neglect. He keeps it real as well he should.

Last night my son Caedmon, nearly 6, behaved badly and I, at my wits end, yelled at him.

Then I felt bad and crawled into bed with him, talking about why parents have to discipline and give kids consequences… so they don’t turn into bad adults.

He asked why certain people did turn into bad grown ups and what we were supposed to do about that… I said that God called us to love those that aren’t nice to us and pray for those who do mean things to us, that so often it’s because they are hurt, or no one showed them how to love.

We don’t let them hurt us again and again but we show them love in real ways. I told him that I think words like “love” and “pray” really mean action, showing that person love when it’s hard… like Brimley. You see Alex is the easy to love bunny, he never nips or snorts or gets crabby, he just wants your attention every hour of the day and he loves you with all his bunny DNA.


Bunny zoo – I have 2 bunnies… what? 

He’s easy to love… really easy but Brimley gives us a chance to practice our love, it’s not THAT hard to love a crabby bunny but it’s really hard to love a crabby human person… so bunnies are good practice.

So even though it would be easier to give him back to the bunny rescue lady and say… well THAT was no fun! That’s not what it means to change the world, changing the world means taking care of the Brimleys… in school and at work and at the store and at church and wherever people are to be found.

At the end of the day, on Christmas eve, eve, eve… I think that’s the best way I can tell the world about the birth of Jesus, to show love to the Brimleys, even if they  nip and snort and shed and don’t make it easy.

So tonight, I sipped gin and tonic, again because Christmas and I pet Brimley on his back and whispered “Hey you bunny, Namaste, God made me and God made you too, so I’ll care for you like you’re one of his creations, because you are, and together we will see the God in each other, okay? I’ve got you.”

This is the most Christmas-ey thing I can do or tell my kids about. People have God in them, and so do you, respect that.

Merry Christmas, from all 5 Pennys and also bunny Alex and bunny Brimley and our loud cat Alfred. img_3138

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A Beginner’s Guide To Geocaching http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/06/12/a-beginners-guide-to-geocaching/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/06/12/a-beginners-guide-to-geocaching/#comments Mon, 13 Jun 2016 01:17:27 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4736 Continue reading ]]> If you follow me on Instagram you will notice that I post scads of pictures from our Geocaching adventures. I have come to realize that many of you may want to dip your toes in the geocaching pond, but have no idea where to start.

“How are you doing that GEOCACHING thing?!?”

You guys, YOUR SUMMER NEEDS GEOCACHING! There is a treasure hunt everywhere, you’ve probably sat on a bench with a cache and didn’t even know it. Even our small town has dozens of finds to search for.

To help you get started, I thought I would post a little beginner’s how-to using knowledge I’ve gleaned from our geocaching adventures, which are still relatively new for us.


How we started

Last summer I was listening to my friend’s podcast when a guest host came on and raved about how her family were geocaching and loving it. Somehow I figured out that it was a free thing you could do involving mini vans, kids and a GPS smartphone… so away we went with a really long break over the fall and winter.

  • Your Turn- Download the Geocaching app, it’s free and it’s called “geocaching.” it features a white background with a green “G” that looks like a pin. I’ll just take a screenshot…


    Looks Likes This…..

Then What?

Open the app and set up an account,  go to the main screen and go to your map. Press the little circle that looks like an eyeball and it will locate you and show you the caches in your area.


  • A Note About Premium Membership– You will notice that the geocaching app offers free and premium memberships. For $9.99 you can get 3 months of premium, which is double the amount of caches… or so… Start with the free one to see if you like it, we didn’t upgrade until after our 20th find.
  • Different Types of Caches- Also there are multi-caches, mystery caches and events, all noted using different color dots on your map. I don’t mess with these and stick with the green dots that are good for our family and have been recently found by other cachers.

Get Out There

Pick a cache dot and go there, we started a block away from our house. The cache will have a location, information about size and terrain and a sometimes a hint. When you’re getting close a special screen will pop up and let you know you are nearing the cache. Sometimes you can park fairly close to a geocache location and sometimes you’ll be a block or so away. The accuracy of the GPS on the app is accurate within 30 feet, but it works pretty well as long as you have a decent signal.

  • Caution – If you notice the “activity” tab shows a little gray exclamation point, that means the cache may no longer be there, it may have been “muggled” or messed with. When this happens I pick another one. (see pic below)

On Location

So you’re at “the spot” and you have no idea what your first move is, here are a few things I have learned.

  • Stick Your Hand in The Hole- Yep, is there a hole in the tree that the app is directing you to. Check in there.
  • Cachers Love Magnets – Is there a stop sign or light post? Look for a magnetic, hide-a-key style box.
  • Lightpost- I have had several caches that we found underneath the plastic surround on a parking lot light pole, don’t be afraid to lift that sucker up.
  • Expect the Unexpected- Today we found one that was a random birdhouse that looked abandoned and sad, as though it had fallen off a tree near someone’s home. That was the cache. Last week I found one that was dangling on a wire down into a storm drain, you really never know.

The Cache Itself

I would say 50% of caches are pill bottles covered in camouflage duct tape. Some are larger, such as small locking tupperware-style containers and some are smaller, and known as micro caches. Many contain just a log you can sign (bring a pen) but some contain little trinkets you can swap out such as plastic army guys or erasers.

Micro... Small... Medium!

Micro… Small… Medium!

Handy Tools

As we progressed, I bought a cheap tackle box to store our prizes, so we always have something to trade out when a cache has “treasures.” This is a good idea if you’re into it, we call it our geocaching kit. Here is what you may want to have in it:

  • A Pen. Or Pencil. Or fine sharpie. Just something to sign the log with.
  • A multi-tip screwdriver. Yes I have had to remove screws for one…
  • Wipes or germ gel. The world is a dirty place.

That’s it guys, really. Just download the app and give it a try, read the information about the cache, be sure it’s been recently found! It is a free and a phenomenal way to get outdoors and explore parts of your area you never knew existed.
There is literally a treasure hunt going on all around you, everywhere and you didn’t even know! So give it a try, you have nothing to lose but a little time and gas money and everything to gain, including a renewed sense of wonder and adventure.


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I Am You, Or I Easily Could Be http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/06/05/i-am-you-or-i-easily-could-be/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/06/05/i-am-you-or-i-easily-could-be/#comments Sun, 05 Jun 2016 19:30:40 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4728 Continue reading ]]> I wrote this, from a bar on a Sunday while I am drinking Beer and eating onion rings, so … just keeping it honest.

me and Caedmon, just loving on an ordinary day.

me and Caedmon, just loving on an ordinary day.

Yesterday I was doing a little work at the dining room table while dinner was simmering on the stove. My 3 kids were in the backyard playing in rotation with the sprinkler, the water table and the sandbox, these are outdoor toys that Kel and I provided for them, to help foster a love for playing outside. Those things didn’t just grow there, we budgeted for them, filled them and regularly make sure they have fresh water and no cat poop (because sandbox).

Type… Type… Stir Dinner… Type.. .Check on Kids.
Type… Type… Stir Dinner… Type.. .Check on Kids.
Type… Type… Stir Dinner… Type.. .Check on Kids.

This was my rhythm, and again, I wasn’t drinking gin and painting my toenails, I was working to pay my husband’s seminary bills while my children played in the sunshine.

Suddenly, in a flash, I realized something horrible, the baby was not on the INSIDE of the chain link fence, but the OUTSIDE. Just 50 yards from the busy-ish road where she could have easily chased a butterfly into traffic and gotten hit.

I shrieked and dashed outside, scooped her up and held her close, making a mental note she must have learned to open the fence I had triple checked was closed. So next step is a deadbolt I guess?

Oh Dear God thank you, for life, she is fine, that could have been so much worse.

And if it had been wore, oh world, what would you say about me? That I was selfish, career driven, neglectful? That the fence latch alone wasn’t safe? That our patio wasn’t close enough? 
Let me tell another story.

Last summer my friends and I went to IKEA, to shop and eat meatballs and buy cheap pictures frames to display our summer memories and pick up new, BPA free plates to house the healthy food we were cooking for our children. Noble pursuits.

As we were loading up our van, my kids were running around the wide awning next to the store, not the parking lot, but more like a 20 foot front patio for the store. Then, in one horrific moment, a van backed into the loading space next to us just as my 4 year old blew past me into the space the van was about to occupy. Instinct kicked in and I swept him up and away, mere inches before the van his his little body, I cannot even tell how how close it was.

If he had been hit, would we have made news? Would I be painted as a neglectful mother because I was loading bookshelves into the back our mini van? The one that’s paid for and full of carefully installed car seats? The one that takes my children to and from school each day? Would you consider calling CPS on me because I took my eyes off my moving son for a second?

Here’s the thing, there is no perfection in motherhood.

There are moments where our attention must be elsewhere, on another task or child, a book, a pot of chili, a bowl of strawberries, a basket of laundry, a bottle of nail polish, a glass of wine, but where do you draw the line?

What is acceptable for a mother in your eyes, oh America?

You chastise us for being helicopter mothers and yet when we take our eyes of our children from a moment and the worst happens you rush to paint us as self centered bums, idiots.

All to often it feels like we cannot win. Not that winning in the eyes of the general public was ever the objective to begin with.

And how dare you think that you could ever care more about the tragedy or pain of our children more than we do? As if you love them more than we do. We who wake to their cries, email their teachers, pack their lunches and have our dreams flooded with their past, present and future. We who cringe at their pain, cry when they get immunizations and face heartache, we who are crushed with the weight of our love.

So here is what I want to say to my fellow mothers, the ones that are pouring everything they have into their lives, trying to be women and mothers at the same time, no small task

Dear Gorilla Mom, Stitches Mom, Broken Arm Mom, Exhausted Mom, Mom who’s kids aren’t enrolled for any magical summer camps, Moms who are making Mac n Cheese for dinner again I want to say this:

Hi, This earth is a rough place, accidents happen and I don’t think you are doing a bad job. We are going to make mistakes, no one has 100% mess free record.

I have been begging God for guarantees that my children will stay safe since 2009, 29 seconds after my 7 year old was born.

I want a guarantee that they won’t get hit, that they won’t contract Leukemia, that their miraculous brains will stay protected even if I don’t make them wear helmets 24/7.

But you know what? And this is really, quite horrible, There are no guarantees. 0% of us get them. 

Some of us suffer more loss than others, some pain is inexplicable, the loss of a child is one I cannot fathom but one that I have no insurance against, pain and loss are not fair and and they not far away.

I think what we need more than anything is a general belief that we are all doing our level best to keep our children safe & protected. That when tragedy strikes or a scare beyond belief instead of saying “how could you look away?!” We ask, how are you? Or How can I help?

That we show up with grace, with understanding, with warmth.

That we keep an eye out for each other, that we become a village of support rather than a horde of judgement.

This mom life is all encompassing, we are losing ourselves even more than we need to. We cannot forget that the stage of all this mother-love is a fallen world where death and sickness and gravity and mistakes are key players. The worst will still happen, and last thing anyone needs is your judgement.

I could easily make a mistake at the park, or the zoo, so could you, so could your mom or your sister.

So, take a deep breath, let’s support each other, I am pretty sure that no one is as hard on a mom as a mom is.


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8 Prayers I Can Actually Pray http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/04/11/8-prayers-i-can-actually-pray/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/04/11/8-prayers-i-can-actually-pray/#comments Tue, 12 Apr 2016 01:36:47 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4719 Continue reading ]]> 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.


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.

Prayer of the HighChair

Not nearly as poetic as the first prayer, at the end of the day, when the table and highchair are sprinkled with rice and smeared with avocado I put on music and start to put things right again, wiping and scrubbing, loading and unloading and thanking God for the words I was able to find to explain the hard thing to a child, for the laugh we were able to share around the table I’m wiping down.

Prayer of the Backyard

This prayer isn’t pretty, often times I think of opening the slider door off of our dining room, running in the backyard in damp socks and yelling to the sky: “You know I really don’t trust you, how could I?!”

Kneading Prayer

I love to make homemade bread for my family, I don’t always do so because I can’t figure out if grains are wonderful or the devil. But when I give in and make bread I knead it, thanking God for bins of ground up wheat, oversized wooden rolling pins and greasy melted butter.

School Drop Off Prayer

You know how they say that parenthood is letting your heart walk around outside your body? It is and so every morning when I drop my heart off at school to live life 15 miles away from me I breathe out a prayer asking everyone to see each other as God created them to be and to treat each other as such.

Grocery Haul Prayer

You know that feeling when you are driving home with a car load of carefully selected groceries centered around a menu plan of attack and you think, not everyone has this, thank you? That’s the grocery haul prayer.


The Prayer of Pouring Tea

I am trying to back off the wine and the gin and the micro-brewed beer, I’m replacing it with tea in the full knowledge that tea will not dull my nerve endings the way alcohol will. So when I pour the tea I say, dear God sustain me through this mug, show up with me. And he does, generally even more than he did in the stemware.

Sleeping Baby Prayer

Dear God, we made it, we sustained each other and all under your watchful eye. Thank you.

Hyacinth Prayer

This prayer is exactly like the one above it, except your replace mother and baby with winter and flowers. Wow it all melted, and these colorful explosions of hope survived within the ground and within my chest.


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.

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Reclaiming Sex (Lauri’s Story) http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/03/03/reclaiming-sex-lauris-story/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/03/03/reclaiming-sex-lauris-story/#comments Thu, 03 Mar 2016 14:17:33 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4711 Continue reading ]]> 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.

Here’s the truth: Sex is God’s gift to us. Our sexuality is completely tied to our spirituality and much like your prayer life it needs education, attention and growth. I wish I had known at 15 what an amazing God given gift sex was, how it is meant to enhance my life and my marriage. How it is important and sacred.  Not scary and dirty.  I wish I’d understood it as a gift God gave me to help me endure the daily struggles of life and bond with the one I love. This lesson took me years to learn, to reprogram my brain from sex = shame to sex = gift. Years to realize that I was worthy of receiving the amazing pleasure intended when God created sex.

I wish the church would take back sex. We have given sex to the world and allowed it to tell us what sex is and how it works. We (the Church) need to reclaim sex as what it is – a gift from God.

We need to teach and preach on it, rebrand it! Sex is good, because God created it and God is good!

So, how did I retrain my brain? It started with understanding that my view of sex was broken. This is easier to see when your marriage is falling apart and you are grasping at anyway to find intimacy with your spouse again (or for the first time.) So, I read. I read books on sex (I highly recommend The Sexually Confident Wife, by Shannon Etheridge or any book she had written on the subject, she also has a blog and podcast), I listened to pastors who weren’t afraid to address sex. I was lucky enough to learn from a pastor at a camp named Ted Cunningham who wasn’t afraid to talk about how successful marriages needed sex! Something in his words breathed life into a part of me that was dead. I listened to him teach on the Song of Solomon, a whole book of the bible about sex.  I had no idea such a book existed! It opened my eyes to looking at sex differently and hearing it from a man of God gave me courage to make changes.

I learned that my sexuality was incredibly important in the battle to save my marriage. I began to open my mind and my heart to enjoying sex and I quit believing the lie that sex was all abut my husband and all he wanted from me. The truth was that God wired men to view sex as intimacy and created my husband with a sex drive that would force him to need me. It was his way of connecting with me and showing me love. I quit resenting having to have sex and started embracing this time to grow together. I learned to talk about what I needed in bed.  We explored fantasies and experimented with what worked for us. We slowly gained trust in each other and we grew in ways I never imagined possible.  We allowed ourselves to enjoy each other sexually.  We had fun a lot of fun and we still do!

The result? My marriage started to change…  I started to change. We started to heal, in large part because our sex life got better. Sure, there were obstacles in my way and some were mental, so I prayed through them and worked to heal my mind.

Other obstacles were physical. Sex is chemically driven and to have a healthy sex drive, you do have to do the mental work but that isn’t always enough. After doing the spiritual/mental work I still lacked the drive. I wanted sex because I finally understood how essential it was, but my body didn’t want sex. My mind was on board but my body was like ehh… I’m tired!

So, I once again turned to research and investigated what was going on. This led me to a conversation with my gynecologist. She explained hormones to me, and talked about testosterone and it’s role in a healthy sex drive. Further testing showed that guess what? I didn’t have enough, not even close to enough.


So, I started hormone replacement pellets and they’ve been a game changer for me, the final piece to the puzzle, Finally I felt aligned spiritually, physically and mentally and it was a beautiful thing.

Ladies please don’t believe the devil’s lie that sex is a job or that it’s dirty. Don’t believe the lie that sex has nothing to do with God or your spirituality. Don’t believe the lie that your marriage will thrive with a lack luster sex life.  Don’t believe the lie that your husband is a sex addict and is only interested in his pleasure.  Don’t believe the lie that sex dies in marriage. There are so many places to uncover the truth about God’s plan for sex, please seek them out. If you’ve done the soul work and the mental work and you still lack desire, go get your hormones tested.

Satan wants to kill, steal and destroy you and your marriage. He will attack your sex life, tell you it’s too taboo to talk about, that it is dirty.  That you should feel shame when you desire sex. I’m proud to say now that satan has no hold on my sexuality. I’m crazy in love with my husband and I want his hot body all the time. We enjoy Gods gift and it blesses us!  It blesses my children because they have parents who are crazy about each other.  They have parents who turn to each other to escape life’s struggles, not the world and other people or things.  They have parents who are unashamed to lock the bedroom door and bond and de stress, using the tool that God created to do just that. My sexuality is vital to the health of my family.  So is yours.  Do the work!  I promise it is worth it!

My husband and I are closer than I ever dreamed possible. The intimacy we share is something I never even knew was achievable.

THIS POST is part of the MORE LIKE ME Series, Month 2, Sexuality. To join our online Facebook group, go here!

12729280_10208492055244207_1040611504718050482_nLauri Rowe is a sassy southern mama who can often be found in the kitchen, sharing her love for food with her Oklahoma hometown. She is passionate about Jesus, people and authenticity and does all 3 alongside her husband where they mentor marriages at their precious church.




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. 

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On Earth As It Is In Heaven- Talking Sexuality With Nicole Romero http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/03/01/on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven-talking-sexuality-with-nicole-romero/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/03/01/on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven-talking-sexuality-with-nicole-romero/#comments Tue, 01 Mar 2016 15:23:10 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4706 Continue reading ]]> 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?

Imagine right now that you stood up and began to dance around. You dance, not like you sometimes do – with a bit of silliness, goofy smiling, and bounce – but with a sensuality and courage that takes your movement seriously.

You MOVE. Your hips sway side to side. Your hands move freely through the air and along your curves. You feel the muscles in your stomach contract and bend as you allow strength and flow into your hips’ dance. You are alive, strong, sensual, erotic, sexy. You are these things for no one but yourself.

Now. Is God present as you dance? Notice. What do you imagine God “feels” about you as you dance like this? Pleasure? Love? Appreciation? Encouragement? Judgment? Ashamed of you? Neutral?

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Does your own sensuality call to a deep, positive truth about God or is it a source of shame and separation from God? How free are you to explore your own senses – even to the point of pleasure and beyond into orgasm?

“Of the delights of this world, man cares most for sexual intercourse, yet he has left it out of his heaven.” -Mark Twain

If we begin to see our own erotic enjoyment as good and an arena of life soaked in God’s loving spirit, our sexual experiences break open into spaces of freedom + play + passion + spiritual formation.

One of the major hindrances to our marriages’ vitality is that we see hugging our kids goodnight as more holy than kissing the soft flesh of our spouse’s manhood… let alone receiving his kisses on our own soft flesh.

Are we loving and redeeming everything except for sex? God made sex vital to our species continued existence. We can be pretty sure He means for us to include sex in our lives. And if He means for us to have it, we can be sure there is good in it for us.

What if we start including sex in our Lord’s Prayer?

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”


Being on earth means being in a body. God said we are his “Good” creation. Women, especially, are “Very Good.” All of us, body and soul.

If Christ and Heaven are real, than isn’t God the most passionate, creative, explosive, climactic being in the universe? Why are we so shy about our own passions? Why does anyone worry that a little hip shaking and kissing could offend a God of tidal waves and heartbeats?

Rather than shy away from our sensuality, let’s cultivate it as an act of worship.

With Love,


Nicole-Romero-Keep the conversation going. Get some love from Nicole and stay connected with the Love and Making It community by signing up for her free Passionals: Part devotional, part passionate inspiration. A new round of the foundational “Love and Making It” ecourse is starting April 16th too!  Connect with Nicole HERE.(http://eepurl.com/bckcNT)



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Let’s Talk About Porn http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/02/25/lets-talk-about-porn/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/02/25/lets-talk-about-porn/#comments Thu, 25 Feb 2016 13:26:27 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4701 Continue reading ]]> 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.



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.

Even so, I craved that connection. It didn’t take long for me to become the only one who initiated sex. He’d go along, but he wouldn’t come to me on his own. Halfway through our marriage, during one of our annual fights about this issue, I begged him to initiate once a year; he did, for three years. We made many deals, none of which lived up to. And then the hammer fell. He got a new job with more stress and longer hours, and that’s when he moved into the chat room usage. A few years of that, and he could no longer achieve an erection with me.

A couple of years ago, he confessed the porn addiction to me (but not the chat room angle). I thought it was the greatest day in our marriage that he could trust me, and trust us that much. We sought counseling, but he stopped going after four sessions. We talked with some pastors at our church, but nothing changed. I finally got help for my depression and did a great deal of spiritual work to become softer and less angry at home, so our home life was at least pleasant.

Twenty-one years is a long time to feel such a deep level of rejection. So why did I stay? It was part of my value system to stay. I am a Christian, and I had promised to work things out. I stayed because he was a supportive, encouraging partner. I stayed because I loved him. These are the laudable reasons.

Mixed up in those are the less laudable reasons. I was a stay-at-home mother who worked freelance; I had no money and no way to make a steady living. If I’d left him for our sexual problems, in our world, I’d become the bad guy. I couldn’t imagine telling the kids. And I had a nagging belief that my marriage was God’s punishment for my sexually looser days – intellectually, I didn’t believe that was the kind of thing God did, but I could never entirely shake it.

His arrest and the subsequent revelations brought clarity to the situation, and my anger burned right through all my laudable reasons to stay. We are separated, and the divorce will soon be final. I am working through what is called betrayal trauma, and getting work and building a life. He sees the children regularly and we are in friendly contact, which is difficult for me, but my commitment to God’s grace and to my kids keeps me going.


I’m sorry this isn’t a triumphant story of overcoming, but it’s an increasingly common story of what happens when porn becomes an addiction. And it’s happening in our churches – in my smallish congregation, many people came forward whose families had been affected by online porn addiction. There is hope for him; the brain is plastic, so he can change his thought and reward patterns if he wants to, and God is always at work, wanting to redeem and transform. There is hope for me. But not for our marriage.

If you are interested in reading the research bases for the whys and wherefores of stories like mine, I recommend a great website called Fight the New Drug (http://fightthenewdrug.org/). Its slogan is, Porn Kills Love.

It certainly killed mine.


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HOUSEKEEPING- The Winners of Abby Norman’s book, Consent Based Parenting, will be notified today. Thanks for all that chimed in!

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Bodily Consent and the Image of God (And A Free Book Giveaway) http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/02/15/bodily-consent-and-the-image-of-god-and-a-free-book-giveaway/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/02/15/bodily-consent-and-the-image-of-god-and-a-free-book-giveaway/#comments Mon, 15 Feb 2016 18:40:53 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4689 Continue reading ]]> 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.

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On Shaving And Valentines Day http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/02/14/on-shaving-and-valentines-day/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/02/14/on-shaving-and-valentines-day/#comments Sun, 14 Feb 2016 16:48:01 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4685 Continue reading ]]> 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.

So this morning I spent a little extra time in the shower, not because I really feel like smooth legs are my path to a healthier sexuality, but because it’s a way that I can invest in my sex life, myself as a sexy person.

I realize that shaves legs are something society has forced on women and that pisses some of you off to the nth degree. That’s fine, I am certain you have other habits or rituals or mantras that make you feel sexier, more mindful of your sexuality.

I shave for me, because I like the smoothness between the sheets and because if I don’t my hairy pits make me feel very self conscious in yoga class… for better of for worse.

So today, try to see your sexuality as something worth working for, either with a razor, a much needed conversation or some bright red nail polish.

Marriage is not, in fact, where sex goes to die and it doesn’t have to be just maintenance. It can be something more.

So with that, I have smooth legs and pits and some very cute Jamberry nail wraps on.

What makes you feel a little sexier or builds your confidence?

If you can do so today, Do it. Not just because it’s Valentines day, but because no act in investing in yourself is wasted.


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The Story Behind The Sticker http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/02/12/the-story-behind-the-sticker/ http://www.leannepenny.com/2016/02/12/the-story-behind-the-sticker/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 23:17:55 +0000 http://www.leannepenny.com/?p=4681 Continue reading ]]> 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. 


The bad pants debacle

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

On the other end of the line the secretary said… “I have your daughter here she was sent to the office to finish a project and she hasn’t done any work on it at all, can one of you come and help her?”

I was sick, Kel had a day off, so he jumped in the car to go help Noelle with her non fiction project. He wasn’t a happy camper, being sent to the office? Our Kid? No way.

A few minutes later I was able to talk to her teacher and learn that at their school, the office was an asset they used for students who needed a distraction free environment… among other reasons. We chatted about Noelle, her struggles, her assets, my heart for her and her tender spirit. She reassured me that she loved working with Noelle and saw us as a good, supportive, non flaky family.

You see, my daughter Noelle has sensory processing disorder, she’s a sensory seeker. This means that a lot of times her brain has no idea what her body is up to and that she is often jumping, walking, tipping back her chair and bumping into other classmates.

She’s crazy bright, but struggles to get it done.

It also means that sitting and focusing is often hard for her when she is having a low-stimulation day. And when outdoor recess gets cancelled, it gets harder still.

She is a square peg in the round hole that is the American public school system.

And … she is one of the sweetest people alive. She will do anything to help you, if you are sick, she will make you tea. If you are crying, she will hold you. If you are sad, she will cheer you up with a funny song and dance.

She sees you, she loves you, she is creative, kind and amazing and tender.

And school is a struggle for her. Many days when I pick her up, it’s been a hard day and she doesn’t want to talk about it.

So that day, when I got the grainy video from Kel as he wrapped up a day of sitting with her, I burst into tears.

Because my girl, who often winds up “on red” for behavior slip ups, who doesn’t always mesh with the demands of her school day… had been named student of the month.

She is no Hermione, she is no know it all, and yet her classmates went wild when her teacher presented her with the award.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 6.10.10 PM

grainy, beautiful iPhone video.

As her teacher, a god send of a person, stood in front of the assembly she said…

“This girl works VERY HARD to stay on task. She tries to help everyone do their best and she tries to do her best. And she always makes sure that she is helpful, no matter what anyone else is doing, she wants to be helpful, she wants to help that person. So this month’s award goes to Noelle Penny.”

And with that Noelle skipped up in her snow boots as her classmates clapped and cheered, to receive her award.

You see the “star student stickers” don’t always refer to someone who was a perfect match for school and gave their teachers no challenges.

It doesn’t mean a family that got a perfect kid and is bragging about it.

Nope. I think often the story behind the stickers involves perseverance, struggle and a worried mom who is biting her nails awaiting the answer to the very normal question of “how was your day?”

I think that they involve a teacher who saw the student for who they are, rather than what they were struggling with.

I believe that when you see one of these stickers, you should just assume that there is a story there, of a kid and a mom and a dad and a teacher who all saw things as they actually are and got over the struggle and ease to see a child for who they were created to be.

God bless all the players involved. And thank you thank you thank you Lord for the teachers who see, give, love and adjust to meet the needs of their students as the individuals that they are. Amen.


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