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On Islam and Christianity: Stories Connect Us

I have always been a fan of stories.

Stories are like people watching from inside. We get to know what the characters are thinking and feeling and by doing this, we get to live out a myriad of life events and learn to feel what the characters feel when they suffer loss, hardship, love, joy and adventure.

Fables and stories tell the hearts of people. You can know a people and their culture by reading their stories and here is what I find: a good story translates across borders and languages, across faiths, because a good story speaks to being a human being and in the core of our humanity, we are the same.

I have had a book sitting on my shelf for years, a gift from my dad, titled: Creative Mythology The Masks of God by Joseph Cambell. The book is  hard read, jam packed with information on mythology. I have picked it up several times and put it back down, overwhelmed with too much information. Learning is hard. Stretching my brain hurts. I would often just go back to reading Facebook posts because Facebook posts are easy. They give that rush of information and meet the desire to people watch inside other people’s heads, but besides a few posts that seek to delve into the real struggles of being a human being in our world, they don’t often go all that deep. When words go deep, you are forced to go deep with them, and that is difficult. Avoiding depth is much easier.

However, I closed my Facebook account and because of that, I have the mental energy left to go a little deeper. I pulled Cambell’s book of the shelf and decided to just skip around to find something to digest. I skipped to the chapter titled: The Legacy of Islam because Islam is a big deal right now. The division between the Western world and the Muslim world is deep and causing immense suffering on both sides.

What I found brought me to tears.

In the midst of wars between Christians and Muslims in the first two millennia of the Christian calendar, there was a beautiful sharing happening in the stories. Muslim philosophers and poets inspired some of our most beloved Christian stories. Dante, in wrestling with his understanding of the Divine, connected with the works of Sufi mystic Ibnu’l-‘Arabi (Cambell, 129). The beloved stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, their quests to serve the Christian God and uphold chivalry, are mirrored by similar Arabic stories (136). Muslims and Christians have taught each other and shared ideas on philosophy, science and literature and that have shaped both of our world views.

We are connected. The stories show that we have the same longing in our hearts to know God and to do what is right.

So why all the division?

Soon after my conversion to Christianity I was warned about my faith being corrupted by outside influences. I was encouraged to spend the majority of my time with other Christians, to only seek romantic relationships with Christians and to read the Bible and Christian authors more than others. Having literature from other faiths was discouraged because I may be swayed by the devil to turn away from my own faith by the outside corruption. I know Christians who will refuse to read a book that includes ideas contrary to the dogma they have been taught because they don’t want to give the devil a way in to their minds. I had been advised not to even have artifacts of other cultures in my home, such as a Hindu statue, because demons can somehow hitch a ride on these cultural icons and take over my faith. This advice solidifies a division between Christians and other faiths. Currently there is a specially strong division between Christianity and Islam,  but all non-Christian world views are seen by fundamental Christians as dangerous to the purity of the faith. Isolation is a tool of control and systematically used in faiths to turn the innocent desire to serve God to other nefarious goals such as world domination. The Christian church is every bit as guilty of this as Islam.

When I was advised to avoid outside influence, I complied. I was young and naïve and believed these more mature teachers on how to preserve the purity of my faith.

They were actually right because as I have explored the faiths of others, listened to my friends of all faiths speak about their love for God, and read the stories of other cultures, my idea that Christians are the only ones to have rights to the one true God has been corrupted.

God is so much bigger than one story.

God has flowed through humanity, every being feeling the touch of the Divine, since the beginning and our stories tell of this. Our desire for Love is universal.

So why is the idea of one Love; one God that we all share; so looked down upon?

Division is a powerful tool. Fear of “the other” can unite people of one faith to kill their brothers and sisters of another. Division allows for innocent people to be exploited by their very real and pure desire to serve the source of Love.

Do not be afraid to be inspired by other faiths or to love your brothers and sisters of other cultures. We can and must learn from each other.

The mythology and stories of Christians and Muslims have overlapped from the beginning. We are more alike than different and the way to combat the growing quarrel between our faiths is to refuse the exploitation of our fears and seek to find the truth.

Education can end this war.



              Cambell, Joseph. The Masks of God. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982. Print.           



Fear and Bullying in the DNC

Hey there Democrats. Can we talk? I think it’s time we sat down for a little catch up.

We’re super fired up after watching some kick ass speeches at the convention; riding on a high of inspiration. That is all great and amazing. I am stoked that you are excited about Hillary’s nomination.

However, some lines are being crossed that I don’t think you want to cross.

First, there is the reaction to the Bernie Or Bust crowd. The media has been ridiculing them as being silly for not wanting to vote for Hillary, but you know what? She was not who inspired them. Bernie did. Bernie is very different than Hillary and I am not saying that she is bad, but his message, his integrity, and his ability to make people believe that we could, as a country, take care of each other is what made his his followers “Feel the Bern.” Hillary is not Bernie and it is not at all ridiculous that Bernie’s supporters need to be won by Hillary. She may convince them that she is the best for the job, but ridicule is in no way a good tactic for getting someone’s vote. Leave the bullying to those that would go low.

Second, promoting Hillary as the lesser of two evils is just the worst. To say, the people must vote against Trump by voting for Hillary is a fear tactic that is beneath the Democratic party. Fear is not inspiring. Fear does not cause us to look outside of our own needs to do what is best for our country. Fear does the opposite and causes us to want to hide and protect what is ours. That is going low.

Third, Republicans are not idiots. They have a different view on how the country should be run but they are not fools to be mocked. They are our fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and the guy that will pull over to help when we break down on the side of the road. They are our fellow Americans and their views matter. Don’t mock. Listen. You can absolutely disagree, but do not write anyone of your neighbors off as fools. That is far too easy. Far too low.

Go high, Democrats. Ridicule, fear tactics and bullying have no place in your party. Do not use them. Inspire us, tell us that we can be better, and then lead us there. A humble desire to understand is incredibly powerful in the face of fear and bullying. Stay humble, stay open, seek to understand and you will lead a force of change in this country that is so much more than a knee jerk reaction to a bully.


The Roaches

We bought a house. The house was occupied by unforeseen tenants whom we met the night we got the keys. Swarming, crawling the walls, threatening to climb even on our persons, making their dominance known.

The joy of buying a home is lessened by a cockroach infestation.

My mother instinct went into a very primitive mode; “Unsafe” it yelled, drowning out all logic and my number one concern became killing the roaches. I saw two choices in front of me: kill them all by dismantling the kitchen which was the main source of the problem or burn the house down. Since we had nowhere else to live, the kitchen was dismantled. Three days of work.

In the face of something hard, work seems to present itself in a way that is unavoidable.

Tyler took his life. Work. Work to breath. 

The bigger the problem, the more work there is to do and there is no bravery in this work because the option not to do it isn’t there. You must do the work.

Breath. Just breath. Take air in. Pull it past the rising lump in your throat. Expand your chest for the air even though the weight of your broken heart makes it so heavy that lifting your chest is the most work you have ever done. Now push it out. Do that again. You must do this work.

In a frantic, instinct driven panic, I cleaned. I cleaned and killed. There were many, many roaches. More than I could have handled in any normal state. I hate bugs….all bugs….but I particularly hate roaches. I could not live in a house with roaches. My kids cannot be in a house with roaches. I must keep my kids safe. I can keep them safe if I kill all the roaches.

Linnea is missing. I must keep my kids safe. I must keep my heart safe. I’m so scared. Find her. Do the work. Find her and feel safe again.

I pulled every cabinet and appliance outside and dismantled and cleaned them. Roaches ran out each time I opened a door. In any other state, I would have refused to do this work, but the choice wasn’t there. I didn’t stop. I didn’t eat. I lost 5 pounds. Three days of cleaning out roaches.

The nest was behind the cabinets. A cockroach nest in my kitchen. The worst thing you can imagine.

Not the worst thing I can imagine though. The worst thing I can imagine is not knowing where my child is. There is a feeling of panic when I can’t find them for a moment at the park. It is the most fear I have ever felt. For 10 weeks, Linnea’s mom lived that fear, day in and out. That is the worst thing I can imagine.

In that three days though, I the work had produced a result. They were gone. Safety returned. We could move in. Nothing was packed because I had spent all my packing time battling roaches, but there was a sweet relief in knowing the job was done. The worst was over. Safety could return. That work was done.

The work for Tyler and Linnea doesn’t end. Grief is so much work. It hangs like a heavy blanket on my soul. I cannot pray or sing to God without tears because in the deep parts, I am fear and grief and God sees the deep parts. I need to feel like my children are safe but I cannot because Tyler and Linnea. My need to protect my children cannot be satisfied. 

The work to dispel the roaches is over. We love our new home.

Other work continues.





Tonight my son asked me to lay with him while he fell asleep. He put his arms around me and I pulled him close and breathed him in and all was right with the world.

Unschooling: Letting your child lead


I don’t love this term as it often is seen as not schooling, even by those that practice it.

Unschooling is a home school philosophy where you allow your children’s interests to lead the curriculum and use the world as your classroom. This way of educating tries to move against the idea that children are passive participants in their education and give the child a say in the focus of his or her learning.

Unschooling is not “no schooling.” The parent is still the parent and has to make decisions based on what is best for the child. Playing video games all day may be what the child’s interest is that day, but it may not be the healthiest choice and parents should have boundaries. As a busy working mom, it can be tempting also to do “no schooling” because following your child’s interests takes a lot of time. Unschooling takes time. Unschooling is schooling. Unschooling is child led education with parent facilitation.

My homeschool adventure has been led by an unschooling philosophy laid out by my parents, who homeschooled me and my 6 siblings. My parents had us do “school” everyday. We did have curriculum, although it was super basic. We each had one of those “Everything You Need to Learn in ___ Grade” books and we had the library once a week and we had the world to explore. I loved learning. Home schooling was good for me.

But at some point, I needed more and my parents always left the choice up to us on when we were ready to go back to regular school.

Child led education.

So when my mom couldn’t teach me Algebra, I went back to regular school, but home schooling has always been and will always be an important part of who I am.

Now, I face a bit of a dilemma as I evaluate my own role as a home schooling  mom and my deep seated belief that education should be child led whenever possible.

There is an opportunity for my kids to go to a Montessori school. They would be at school 8:30-2:30 four days a week. This would be essentially giving up home schooling for me. They want to go. My children are leading their education away from home schooling.

And I am having an identity crisis because of it.

Home schooling is a defining role for me. I work in a charter school for home schoolers, I hang out with other home schooling moms, and my day revolves around home schooling. I love that my kids give me the excuse to skateboard early in the morning and do long beach days or museum days. I love being with them.

However, I know that I don’t serve them as well as they need. I work. I am dragging them around often to meetings and having to push their needs aside while I answer emails and do reports. They need more than I can give them right now.

I feel insufficient.

Letting them go to a Montessori school feels like I am a failure and also feels like a scary lifestyle change for me. The reasons not to do it are all about me. But home schooling was never meant to be about me. It HAS to be about them. My children are not my security blanket or my identity.

Unschooling means child led education. My children get to choose their path in life. My job is to guide and facilitate that.

So this is the thing that applies to all of us as parents, not just the homeschooling ones: Your children are unique people who will eventually outgrow you. They should move on. You are there to help them grow into who they are; not who you want or need them to be. Give them boundaries, help them say no to things that are bad for them, guide them….but in the end, they will have to go out into this big, beautiful world and you will have to let go.  Listen to your kids. They have a say in how they are raised. This is their life, so get your own needs and wants out of the way, listen, and seek what is best for your child.

A child who has a say in his or her education is an empowered child who will grow into an empowered adult, able to stand strong in who he or she is instead of going with the expectations of others (including yours). I want my kids to be strong, empowered adults, so I need to step back.

My hope and prayer is that my kids will outgrow me and head out into the world, independent and strong, to follow the destinies that God laid out for them.

I’ll just have to get out of the way so that can happen.IMG_9921







The Monster

Today I am on the 5th day of a mental health crisis. I’m coming out of it. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel but two hours ago, it was very dark and scary and I didn’t think I could keep going.

When a woman is close to giving birth, the pain is more than she can bear. She will cry out that she can’t go on. But then soon after, a child is born and the pain is forgotten.

Before this feeling passes and I forget this pain, I want to write it down because some people live with this all the time and I need to remember what they are going through. Pain brings compassion. I need lots of compassion, so God blesses me with pain.

What caused this to come on? Was it a stressful event or was this coming on and that caused a benign event to become stressful? I am not sure. All I know is that an event happened that I can pinpoint as the start, and I felt like my whole body was consumed with emotion; emotion that would not be contained and so it shook my body trying to escape. I had a constant movie going in my head. A replay. Sometimes I participated in the replay; talking back to these imaginary voices with what I wanted to say or should have said or would say. Sometimes I just begged it to stop. But it didn’t stop. I haven’t slept right in 5 days.

I have overeaten and drank, even though I thought I was past using both to deal with stress. The pain has been intense and getting it to stop has trumped all other needs.

I get it, addicts. I get it.


When these times hit, you would think faith would fix it. I am here to tell you that Jesus will not always stop the pain. When the voices of anxiety are doing a constant replay of one event over and over, the quiet voice of Jesus is hard to hear.  I know Jesus and He comforts me very much. I never walk alone because of Him, but I still have anxiety. I still have bouts of depression. He walks with me, but sometimes I can’t hear Him.

Two hours ago the anxiety began to break and the depression is coming on. It feels like a weight in my chest that is holding me down; stealing my joy and motivation.

I have been here before and I know this will pass. This is an illness that will run its course, but the illness is real. The pain is real. And some people that I care about are feeling this pain regularly.

So I implore you, healthy self, remember this feeling. Remember how you could not just “Let it go” or “Cheer up and quit feeling sorry for yourself.” Remember that what you really needed was someone to listen and then listen.

Hold a sacred space for them where they can be their broken selves and rest while their wounds heal.


To the addicts, the depressed, the anxious, the neurotic…..I feel your pain.

We are in this together.


The Worst

Being a teenager was hard for me. Being a child was easy. I played. I fought with my siblings. Homework. Cartoons. It wasn’t too hard. I mean…life is never perfect, but kids can roll with most things that are happening. Then I became a teen and all these emotions started happening. Life got confusing and harder and since I was 13, in comparison with the previous 12 years, this really was the worst. The certain group of girls at school not wanting to hang out with me was the worst thing that had ever happened because I had all these feelings and they were strong and I didn’t  know what to do with them. It sucked. The worst.

And then I got older and harder things happened and I realized: that was not the worst. THIS is the worst.

Really hard things happened. Like really, really hard.

People died.

Friends lost their children.

I lost a dear student.

Those were the worst.

I’ve been bedridden sick for 3 weeks now, but this is not the worst. I will eventually get better, my kids are not missing, I did not lose anyone, so this is not the worst and since this isn’t the worst, I am so very grateful.

Perspective through pain has led me to gratitude.

Thank you God that this is not the worst.