The Compassionate Homeless


The last few days have been really hard. A community I’m in is hurting. On Saturday in particular, I was feeling really rough. Jermaine kept asking me to watch this video. Insisting it was powerful. I kept telling him I didn’t have the bandwidth for anything else. And I didn’t.

But just as we were about to go to bed, he turned it on and I stayed. What I saw brought me to tears. It preached to my tired soul. And I was grateful.

I’m pretty sure if I was in that food court, I would have done the same as the others. Generally speaking, I don’t share food with people I love. We have so much to learn from those who seemingly have nothing. And thank God for that.


And the Winner is . . .



Yay! We have winners! If I mention your name below, I’ll be in touch very shortly. :)

Stephanie gets the free copy of The Happiness of Pursuit!

Katie wins the spot in The Shalom Experiment!

And Elizabeth scores the space in The Rebel Diaries

Thanks to everyone who participated! <3 <3

If you’re a regular reader—I have a question for you: how do you feel about contests and giveaways in general? Would you like me to do more? Are they fun? Annoying? Just whateverish? Would you comment below and let me know? I’m trying to decide whether or not I should do more in the future. Thanks!

Love + shalom.

Monday Memoirs :: Getting the Yuck Out

May 22 2013

Morning Pages 5/22/13

Wow. 20000 words, just gone. That is so flipping disheartening. I guess I know when it happened. But not exactly how. There is a part of me that is heartbroken. That’s a lot of fucking words! But there is a part of me that is okay with it. This will be a fresh start. I hate what I lost. But I can start over. The words don’t seem to flow as easily as they did, but they will. Nothing is lost. It’s all in my head. The words are flowing. I will start anew. I will start fresh. I can do this. You know you’re a writer when 20,000 words down the drain doesn’t seem like that big a deal. I can do this. I was born to do this. It’s 8:07am. My lucky time. Wow. Haha. Where even to begin?

Later that day . . . 

I think I want to put the yuck getting out stuff here. And be a bit more intentional about the memoir. I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed. Oh. And I just heard the boy. Ah. Wish I could get the yuck out. He didn’t sleep for a super long time. I wonder if I give him 5 minutes if he’ll go back to sleep. I’ll try it. It’s 1:30pm now. He’s not wailing. Just waking up, I think. Anyway. 5 minutes.

Ah. I am tired. Maybe I should take a walk. Haha. I know that makes no sense. My brain is tired. I have too much crap in it. If I walk, I can think through some of it. He’d like to go for a walk, I think. We’ll do that when it’s get up time. Which I think it is because I don’t think he’s going to go back to bed. Sadie will be home in a half an hour. Oh. And Then I’ve got a call at 3pm. Ha. Okay. Well, we can walk after that. Or I can walk to take her to her karate. I am slightly depressed? I don’t know. It just hit me. Feeling like I have a lot of things I want to do but haven’t done. And not ready for naptime to be over. I miss Jermaine. And I have this feeling that the not being as far as I’d like to be is my fault because I haven’t done everything I needed to do to get there. Still plugging away at it. But not as far as I’d like to be. I guess you could say I’m feeling like a bit of a failure right now. I’m sure it will pass soon enough. Blah. Okay. Time to get the boy.

Okay. Haha. We’re watching Dinosaur Train and drinking a yogurt smoothie that has some probiotics thrown in. Hopefully he’ll let me write for a minute. I think I’m going to count this. The writing, I mean. it’s what I’m going through day to day. It will help me remember and reference the details. And the other side will be for the past stuff. So, that means I need to save this, too. In a Word Doc. Okay. I can do that. Today Jermaine and I coordinated watching the finale of the Office. It was really really sweet. Both the ending and watching that way. I don’t really feel like blogging at the moment. Which is strange. I’ve never not felt like blogging. Hmm. Not sure what to do with that. I’m supposed to be writing every day. And I’ve got loads of ideas. Not sure if I should push through or give myself a break. I kind of feel like pushing through. I am going to start working in the evening. Well, I guess I already have. But I guess I need to figure out how to get really ready to do that. And not be exhausted. Especially if that’s my only concentrated time. I mean. I guess I’m working right now. But it’s one of those things where I can’t really fully get into it. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just stalling. BK is being really good right now. And Sadie is about to be home. But it feels difficult to concentrate. Sigh. Still working out my rhythm.

And that feels stressful. I just want to find it. To get into my groove. To gain traction. Actionable goals. SMART goals, I guess. Measureable and all of that. I waffle back and forth between “I know my dreams are going to happen” and “why won’t they just happen already!” I think that’s okay. I think it’s normal. I keep going back to the conversation I had with my friends. It was really weird. I kind of felt like they were saying I should stop striving and wanting so much. I don’t think I should at all. It feels good to be in this place. With these big dreams. Even though it’s difficult sometimes. And I come face to face with all of the ways I’m not where I want to be. Which puts me face to face with all of my faults and sins – that leave me in this wanting state. But. Like Peter Rollins’ said, we’re all full of ghosts. If that’s true, then of course I’m striving. And my big dreams aren’t going to take my ghosts away necessarily. But they are going to change the world. I hope. And change our family. And bring me happiness. The acclaim I want. I guess that is a bit disturbing. Haha. Got to work through that next.

Thank you for reading a piece of my heart! This was written less than two weeks after my husband left for his first deployment. The picture above with the beautiful rainbow was taken on that same day, on our walk, while my daughter was at her Karate class. Hope is powerful thing.

Every Monday, I share an excerpt from my memoir. Sometimes I go way back in time. Sometimes I work through an idea I’m processing. And sometimes, it’s a rough bit of morning pages, straight out of my heart. Working diligently behind the scenes to put it all together by the end of this year. My prayer is that it all sets up like some kind of gorgeous word soufflé. If you’d like to get updates so you don’t miss #mondaymemoirs, you can sign up here.

One last thing before you go—today is the last day to enter this contest and win a copy of Chris Guillebeau’s new book!

An Announcement, an Experiment, and a Contest


I love all things Chris Guillebeau. I was first introduced to him a couple of years ago. I emailed him to thank him for inspiring me and he wrote back! I was (am) a nobody in blogsphere. He had a growing tribe of over 10,000 people and he took the time to reply to my email! What’s more, he had heard of me! He liked my style, even. And these shalom-y schemes of mine. I was so smitten. But I knew intuitively it wasn’t my awesome that prompted him to respond. It was his own commitment to reply to people to who reach out to him. ALL OF THEM.

I don’t know if he still does that. I don’t know how he could! His community is overwhelmingly massive. At some point, I’m sure something’s got to give. But I admire him for caring. And for other things.

Like quests.

The Happiness of Pursuit is a book about quests. About Chris’ quest to visit every single country in the world (all 193!). And about the people he encountered with quests of their own.

I will pretty much devour every book he writes and I’m loving this one. I signed up to receive an early copy so that I could help (in my own small way) promote it. But this is not just to help Chris out.

I read a lot. I recommend selectively. I will not suggest you read most of the books I read unless you’ve expressed an interest in a particular topic. Or you’re struggling in a certain area and I’ve read a book that helped me. I don’t want to bore you or waste your time. And I want my recommendation to mean something. If I sign off on it, it’s freaking good, yo.

But this book. THIS I would recommend to everyone. We don’t all need to achieve massive success. We don’t all need to heal our bodies or learn how to rest or even dare greatly. But, maybe, we could all benefit from a quest. Even if it’s small. Especially if it’s small! It doesn’t just give us purpose, it makes things interesting.

Now for the fun part. To celebrate Chris’ book launch, I’m hosting a contest. But before I get to the details—an experiment and an announcement.

I had an idea. You could say it’s a vision. I want to create a respite for creative healers. A safe space to dream and be rejuvenated. I’m launching this Big Dream early in 2015, but before I do that, I want to flesh it out more. And I need your help.

For six weeks, from Oct 12th to Nov. 22nd, I want to explore this vision by creating a mini version. We’ll choose a book and a theme. We’ll connect and I’ll share a prompt every week day in the secret Facebook group. And we’ll come up with new ideas for even deeper soul restoration. Participants will have the opportunity to help me design this respite. And truly have a hand in helping me create a space that inspires.

I’m calling it The Shalom Experiment. And you can click here for all the details. It’s $40 to join, but that brings me back to my contest.

Three Winners

When you enter, you’ll have the chance to win:

—Your Own of The Happiness of Pursuit!

A Spot in The Shalom Experiment!

A Spot in The Rebel Diaries!

To enter, subscribe to my newsletter here AND leave a comment below telling me which prize you’d like to win and why. (Hint: if you have a book in your head that’s itching to get out, The Rebel Diaries might be the thing for you.) If you’re already subscribed, make sure to mention that in your comment below (and you’ll be entered)! And if you know of anyone who could benefit from one of these gifts, please pass this on to them!

The deadline to enter is Monday at midnight PST (because I’m a west coast girl at heart). I will announce the winners Tuesday morning.

Good luck! So much love. And shalom. And happiness. And a little bit of quest.

Week Two :: The Weirdness of Our Forefathers

Brandy Blogs the Bible


The Skinny (From Genesis 17-28)

Chapter 17—God makes a 3rd covenant. This one is a little below the belt. That very day, Abram, who is now Abraham, has every male in his household circumcised. Chapter 18—The Lord appears to Abraham as 3 men. Abraham has a meal prepared for the Lord and pulls out all the stops. Sarah overhears them talking (predicting that she will bear a son) and she laughs at the idea. Then, when confronted, Sarah denies laughing because she’s afraid. Abraham says, “Oh yes you did laugh.” Next, there is this fascinating scene where God wants to destroy Sodom and Abraham bargains with him—using phrases such as, “Far be it for you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked!” The Lord allows this banter and in the end agrees that if there are even 10 righteous people in Sodom, God will not destroy the town. Chapter 19—Two angels show up in Sodom and some really bad stuff happens. Lot urges them not to stay in the town square, fearing for their safety. He finally talks them into coming home with him, and then the men of the town practically beat down his door. They are apparently obsessed with raping these angels? Lot offers his virgin daughters to spare the angels. Just as they are about to break down the door, the angels afflict the wicked men with blindness. An intense action scene follows where the angels hurry Lot and his family out of the town and tell him to go to the mountains. But he doesn’t want to go to the mountains and pleads with them to let him go to a little town. Lot’s wife looks back on Sodom and, no kidding, she’s turned into a pillar of salt. Lot is afraid, and apparently changes his mind about the mountains, leaving the town to flee to them. Then it gets even weirder. His daughters get him drunk and have sex with him so that they can procreate. Chapter 20—Abraham meets Abimelech king of Gerar, and again he pulls the whole “She’s not my wife, she’s my sister” bit. And so Abimelech takes Sarah but then has a dream where God exclaims, “No—wait! You don’t want to do that!” Abimelech confronts Abraham and Abe skirts the issue saying “Actually, she really is my sister.” Chapter 21—Issac (which means “he laughs”) is born! Sarah kicks Hagar and Ishmael out of her house and God tells Abraham to listen to her. Hagar and Ishmael end up in the desert very near death and the Lord shows up and saves them with a well. Scene shift—Abraham and Abimelech make a treaty (at Beersheba) to resolve a quarrel about a well. Chapter 22—God tells Abraham to go offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham listens and is just about to drop the knife when The Angel of the Lord shows up and stops him, repeating the covenant. After that, we get a little excerpt about Abraham’s brother’s sons which foreshadows Isaac’s future wife. Chapter 23—At 127, Sarah dies. Abraham goes to the Hittites and insists on paying them for the plot of land to bury his wife. Chapter 24—Abraham asks his servant to swear that he will go back to Abraham’s hometown to pick a wife for Isaac. The text notes that if the woman will not agree to come, the servant is freed from the oath. The servant prays and God answers that prayer. Enter Rebekah, Isaac’s bride-to-be. Chapter 25—We find out that Abraham took another wife and that he had concubines—and a whole mess of other kids. Then, Abraham passes away at the “good old age” of 175. We get a little excerpt on the sons of Ishmael, his death and that he lived to be 137. Another scene shift—Rebekah is barren, but Isaac prays for her and she becomes pregnant with twins! Jacob (meaning he grasps the heel (or figuratively, he deceives)) and Esau (which may mean hairy) are born. The Lord tells Rebekah that the older one will serve the younger. We are told that the parents have favorites. Isaac loves Esau and Rebekah loves Jacob. Next, Esau sells his birthright to his brother for some stew. Chapter 26—Freaky deja vu. Like father like son. Isaac tells Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister. But then they’re caught getting up close and personal. Abimelech calls him out and orders his men not to touch either of them. They too make a treaty a Beersheba. Chapter 27—Isaac is aging and blind. He wants to bless Esau before he dies so he tells him to go hunt down something tasty and fix it for him (so Esau can then receive his blessing). But Rebekah overhears and convinces Jacob to go and pretend to be Esau so he can get the blessing. He even puts on goatskin to become hairy like his brother. Which raises the question, just how hairy was this guy? Jacob succeeds and gets the blessing. Esau comes back, no blessing for him. He is devastated and wants to kill his brother. Rebekah suggests Jacob gets the heck out of there until Esau cools down, and so, Jacob flees. Chapter 28—While on the lamb, Jacob has a dream and encounters God in a very real and powerful way.

Wow. That’s some crazy stuff. It begs the question—what the heck??

A quick Bible study lesson before we get hopping:


What Biblical Narratives Are (recapped from How to Read the Bible for All its Worth)

In essence, they are “purposeful stories retelling historical events” (pg. 90). I mentioned in week one that one of the overarching themes of the Bible is that God is the ultimate protagonist. Satan and evil people/powers are the antagonists and folks working with God are the agonists. Every narrative has a plot and characters.

Also, there are three levels to the biblical narrative (pg. 91). The 3rd level was basically described above: a Great Big God leading his people to redemption. The 2nd level is the idea that God is redeeming people for his name—twice. First by the former covenant and second by the “new” covenant (ie: Jesus). The 3st level is all the little narratives (what Scot Mcknight calls “Wiki-Stories”).

Why does it matter? For me, keeping the levels in mind helps to read the bible as Story.


What Biblical Narratives Are NOT (according to the book above)

—Allegories or stories filled with hidden meaning (though they do often have an “implied” meaning—one with cultural context that would have been obvious to the original listeners)

—Intended to teach a moral lesson (thank God, right?)


Why I’m Doing This

Again, I want to quickly recap why I’m doing this. First, I just want to read the whole Bible through. It’s a long time goal and it feels important to me. Second, I want to create a space that is safe where questions are welcome. We get to doubt and wonder and wrestle here. I believe the questions matter more than the answers. I believe it’s always more important to be loving than to be right. I’m mainly just hoping to start a conversation.


My Comments, Questions, and Wonderment

I’m not sure I fully understand the whole circumcision thing. But, then again, I’m not sure I’m supposed to (nor am I sure Abraham fully grasped it either—gentlemen, can you imagine being circumcised right now? Or at 100?) I think it’s about obedience. We don’t get all of God’s reasoning. We don’t have to. We can’t see all the pieces. But we can trust God, I think that’s the broader message.

Still, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Phyllis Tickle (in a teaching about the Holy Spirit at Mars Hill Bible Church) said the story of the three visitors is the first reference to the Trinity. It is clearly stated that there are three and yet the three are referred to as one singular being.

The story of Lot and his family is just bizarre. I feel like Lot’s wife really gets the raw end of the deal. I’ve heard the argument that she was salted because looking back signified that she was tempted to return to the evil ways. But it’s frustrating when Lot offers his virgin daughters to apparent sex fiends and then when the daughters get their father drunk and take advantage of him. Neither offense seems to warrant so much as a cough from God. Again, it helps to keep the idea of a biblical narrative and purposeful retelling in mind. But I cannot help but feel like the original author had some very specific world views and agendas that are, to say the very least, difficult to wrap my brain around.

The Abraham /Isaac dealings with Abimelech (“She’s my sister” and “Let’s make a treaty”) seemed odd to me. Is this the same guy? Did he really fall for the sister gag twice?

Did Abraham know that God was going to stop him from sacrificing his son? He seemed so ready and willing for whatever God had in store. He has so much trust in God. And that’s good, I guess. As a mother, though, this is hard.

Abraham having concubines gives me pause. I know it was a way different culture. And I know that it doesn’t mean God is condoning it—narratives exist partially to simply give a true account. I can’t help but think about Lot’s wife, again, though. Why are some people made to pay so severely while others get along with a million second chances? Personally, I fall into one of the people who has received all those second chances. And I am grateful. But what about all the people who aren’t so lucky? Why does grace and mercy and justice seem so overwhelmingly unfair sometimes?

A theme that keeps coming up (according to How to Read the Bible Book by Book): God often chooses the younger, or weaker, or most unlikely to bear the righteous seed. I like that a lot.

Okay, but really, who sells their birthright for some soup? Amiright?

Next week, we’ll be diving into Genesis 29:1-40:23. If you’d like to sign up and get the weekly updates of these Thursday posts and all the rest (that’s one email a week), you can do that here. Plus, I wrote good book and when you sign up, you’ll get that, too!

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