together for christmas: a swedish christmas eve

you probably already know that my in-laws from sweden are in town to celebrate christmas with lina + me, which i think is super cool. and you may or may not know that my parents live about 30 minutes away. and my brother lives 5 minutes from me. with all of that said, this christmas was something extra special to me. having these most important people in the same place, at the same time, and over the christmas holiday, meant that, for me, this would be a christmas of being together.

it would have been completely completely if lina’s siblings + their families, and my brother’s girlfriend could have been here. but, gathering our parents in the same place, considering we are spread out over two countries, was a huge feat, making me feel totally overwhelmed with gratitude.

seeing as we are two families from two countries, we have different traditions for celebrating christmas. no matter where lina and i are during the holidays, we always try to combine traditions and celebrate the swedish + american way, as much as possible, given whichever country we are in. but, this year, we were able to celebrate both ways with just a little more pizzazz.

here’s how we did it: luckily swedes celebrate chrismas on christmas eve. it’s the big day with the family gatherings, large amounts of food, and santa’s visit. americans celebrate a tiny bit on christmas eve,but the big highlight is christmas morning + christmas day. so, we just planned to have about 48 hours of a holly jolly time! and we did it the swedish way on christmas eve, and the american way of christmas day. perfect for our double celebration!

now, that i’ve written to you a bit about our plans, i’m ready to share a ton of photos with you. today’s post will be all about christmas eve – celebrating the holiday with a swedish touch (and ending the night by transitioning into classic american traditions). of course, there are a few things missing from the swedish celebration – like watching donald duck on national swedish tv at 3pm and eating lots of fish. still, i think we did a pretty good job!

our swedish christmas eve in the states

i spent a few quiet moments, as usual, in the morning, before everyone else awoke. just letting the season soak into me + preparing myself for the

we had stockings to open (lina and i both filled each others’ stocking with earrings that we loved, without knowing  that the other one was giving earrings. how cool!) + then we decided to each open one package on christmas eve (saving the rest for christmas morning). zola got a little ball (as you can see) in her stocking. so

christmas-silly-me the table is set! and, it is featuring the swedish christmas soda called “julmust”, a very special drink. but, i love it! christmas-eve-table

our parents watched over us as we prepared the meal… i think they were a bit hungry (and perhaps excited too). my mom, lina’s mom, my dad. l to

cheers! sipping on some egg nog to fill our bellies a bit as we

more waiting… almost done!christmas-eve-hungry
let’s eat! the swedish way: lots of meat + some potatoes. hehe. we had ribs, little hotdogs, sweidhs meatballs, mushroom omelette, and potatoes casserole. and it was all super
cheers again! with a little moscato!christmas-eve-lina-and-me christmas-eve-lunch

after the meal, what else was there to do but just lounge around?! look at our parents there… chatting, resting, relaxing. i love this

menawhile, lina and i were preparing fika: coffee, lussekatter buns, cookies, candy. mmmm!christmas-eve-fika

then… we rested. ahhhh. i think i even fell asleep. but, it was so cozy as i snuggled down under my covers. hehe. more christmas eve fun to come!my-love-and-me-christmas-eve

after all of the day’s activities, including our hour and a half rest period (ha!), we then switched gears a bit and began to bring in the classic american activities on  christmas eve: a candlelight service at the church where i used to work + a late night family viewing of national lampoon’s christmas vacation – a reynolds tradition every christmas eve. here we are at church. soooo cozy.


i worked at this church, with these amazing people, for 8 years. it was absolutely overwhelmingly wonderful to see so many faces that i haven’t seen in a while. i don’t know how many necks i hugged + how many people greeted me/us. i saw some of my deepest, dearest, old friends. i talked with pole who’s hands i’d held in the hospital after major surgeries. i celebrated new life that some of my old youth are now carrying in them.  i sang and spoke and laughed with people that i had the privilege of sharing so many sacred + special moments in their lives. i remembered what a joy and an honor it is to minister to people. i felt as if i’d returned home. this place, is, in one way, will always be my home. and that people haven’t forgotten me… i was so touched. oh, my heart was so full of wonder + light. so. very.

then, we headed to my parents’ house. that’s right, we had all packed a bag, grabbed all of the christmas day food i had already baked, and gathered up all of the presents under our tree to take to my parents’ place. we were going to sleep there!! christmas eve slumber party. hehe. when we arrived, we are quite hungry, so my mom offered us tons of snacks she prepared + then we sat down for the annual national lampoon’s christmas vacation showing. cozy + hilarious fun!christmas-eve-snacks christmas-eve-goodies

after snacks + the movie, it was coming on 1 am. time to hit the sack… so santa can come!! we all retired to our bedrooms, lina + i curled up together on a tiny twin bed, which turned out to be just perfectly comfy. i laid my head down, took in a deep breath in all of the quiet + the stillness, and gave thanks for the abundance of joy that had been this christmas eve. good night!

check back tomorrow to see a glimpse of our cozy christmas day!


light + love xoxo

goodbye, weekly sensory overload.

well, folks. i think it’s time to retire the ole sensory overload title. i’m not retiring the category, though. so, you can always click on the tab at the top of the page that says “sensory overload” and be taken to all posts where i share how life makes my senses go crazy.

you see, i feel that i have gotten into some kind of a rut with my blog by having specific things to post on specific days. that’s not what this blog is all about – and to try to fit a circle into a square hole just doesn’t work. this blog is a spontaneous, whatever inspires me in the moment, daily life blog. like a journal. so, i am not setting any specific days for anything – expect for wednesdays, but wednesdays of wisdom will continue throughout my dalai lama series. at the end of that series in june, i will reevaluate that as well.

so, to sum up, i’m going back to posting whenever and wherever i feel like it! and that feels amazing. i know that people say that bloggers should have a blogging editorial calendar with stuff all planned out for about 3 months. that sounds great. i even kinda tried it. but it just does not cut it for this blog. that is for my fika blog – something that is a bit more professional and not a daily life kinda place.

anyway, i have a lot of stuff to share with you this week from the past week, so this will look like all of my previous sensory overload posts. but, after this, it’ll be all about just posting from day to day, whatever inspires me. it’ll be more like sensory overload as it happens – which, if i think about it, is even more awesome. so, posts will be more frequent, more focused, and more exciting!

here we go!

clouds pink tree green tree blue sky purple flowers feet road and spring trees green and blue gunni and spooky fika group zola cozy balcony bella and me ego sunshine legs beer morning coffee car snack balcony reading coffee sermon balcony video sermon parkway lina video us video parkway

as you can see, it was a week filled with some stunning nature, beautiful moments with people and pets, cozy and quiet moments of peace, and an opportunity for lina and i to have some contact with the church i worked at in sweden – they asked me to say a few words on their theme for sunday. so, lina prepared the camera and i drove us up on the blue ridge parkway, and we video-taped me talking (in swedish) to the congregation. they played it yesterday morning in church. it was so much fun to send it to them – though the sending part was an insane, long process! hehe.

over here in our little home, this week is gonna be a bit crazy. my love has a test today, then two days for study, then 4 finals between thursday & next tuesday. so, she’ll be out of commission for a week and a half. i’ve got some writing, job applying, my book club, and some planning to do for our NYC trip in a few weeks!

happy monday, dear readers! xx

my response to your response.

whoa. i am overwhelmed by the response i have had after telling my story about my experience with the UMC and LGBT issues. you people are truly amazing.

thank you!

more than anything, though, i thank you for sharing and spreading my post – on Facebook and twitter and your blogs. keep sharing! but, not to up my readership, in order to get my story out there in an effort to bring about change. i seriously want to speak up for the other LGBT candidates for minister, ministers, and individuals who also find themselves alienated and confused with their home church. so, i’m going to keep writing and posting as much as i can, in as many places as i can. i am going to do what i can, in my way, to bring about change. i promise that.

as for me, just so you know, i am very satisfied and happy with my life right now. i am not pining away, crying in the corner because i am not ordained. while all that has happened surround my inability to be ordained in the UMC has been painful and difficult, i am so certain of the path that i am on. i have left the idea of ordination behind, not so much because i can’t do it = others have kept me from doing it; but i have left it behind because i have taken time in the past few years to search my soul, listen to the silence, and discern my calling to ministry. and what i have come up with is that i do not feel that i must be ordained in order to do ministry. and that comes from my evolving definition of ministry.


at one point, a long time ago, i learned about the idea of the priesthood of all believers, which is simply the idea that all people all called to ministry of some sort of another. that each of us have passions, gifts, and things to offer to the world that we can use, and are called to use, to make this world a better place, to spread love. all of us. each of us, you and i, have amazing things about us that make a difference to others. why wouldn’t we discover them and use them? and when we do, then we are engaging in ministry – no matter what: faith or no faith, UMC or any other denomination, religion or no religion.

and, since i believe in the idea of the priesthood of all believers, then i am called to ministry every day, and i take part in doing ministry every day that i am being true to myself – and for me that includes writing, mentoring, talking, listening…

ordained ministers are ministers just like everyone else, in the sense that they are called to ministry. what makes them different (in the UMC point of view) is that they are ordained = “set apart” for a lifetime of ministry. and by that, i mean that they have been educated, supported, encouraged, and felt a call from within to live and serve the church with their entire lives. something that i felt and experienced, up to the ordained part. however, after much thought and reflection (and based on my experiences), for me, ordained or not… i am called to a lifetime of ministry no different from my ordained brothers and sisters. i am called to share my gifts, talents, passions throughout my whole life. even though i may not be “set apart” as someone to work in a church, my ministry is something that exists beyond the church organization. this is just something that i have discerned for myself, i am certainly not knocking ordination or my ordained colleagues. this is simply how i hear god calling me at this point in my life.


there is one thing that i do want to do, though, that might make my ministry more “professional”. something that i have felt called to for a while now. it’s something that i have been considering since i was in seminary 6-7 years ago. one of my professors brought it up, and it resonated so deeply with my soul, though i had no idea how it fit into my life. and haven’t had any idea how to incorporate it into my life… until now.

i want to seek certification as a spiritual guide/mentor. i want to attend a 2 year program, exploring all kinds of spirituality and counseling techniques, so that i can be certified and able to offer my ministry of presence, writing, and mentorship to others in a more professional setting – even through my own practice, perhaps. as i said, this is something that i have felt inside of me for a while now, and i seriously want to consider beginning a program in the new year. mind you, i am not certain that i want to be connected to any denomination or faith, but i also do not want to just be flying about out there on my own.

so, for now. ordination in the UMC is not possible. and by principle, that is totally not ok. but, it is ok in my life right now. it is also not time for me to consider ordination in another denomination that allows me to be ordained, though many people have suggested that i “switch” churches.

what does feel right is to explore the possibility of becoming a certified spiritual direction/guide/mentor. so, that’s what i am going to do.

and what more can i say to all of you, than, i appreciate more than you will ever know, your support, your encouragement, and your presence in my life and on this blog. thank you from the bottom of my heart and my soul for journeying with me as i seek to be faithful to who i am called to be, learning more and more as each day passes.


open hearts? no. open minds? no. open doors? no. open wounds? yes!

friends, it’s happening again. love is on trial. you know, when people get together and begin to decide who is right and who is wrong. who gets to love whom. who gets to get married and to whom. and, in this case, who gets to do the marrying.

if you don’t know this already, here is a little background info on me:

  • i grew up in the united methodist church, and am still a member. though, not so active now.
  • the methodist church has always been a church that focuses on grace, love, and social issues, leading civil rights issues in the 60s. i felt at home here.
  • my granddad was a methodist minister, and i wanted to be just like him. he has always been my inspiration.
  • so, i decide to pursue this calling and was offered a job in a church a long time ago.
  • as of today, i have worked as a minister in a united methodist church (umc) for a total of 10 years.
  • during that time i studied theology and ministry at an african methodist seminary – an amazing, life-changing, world-opening, theology-busting experience.
  • i planned on being ordained in the umc – like an ordained minister, pastor, preacher, minister kinda person.
  • so to recap: i worked as a minister (unordained) for 8 years. i had a master’s of divinity degree. i jumped through all the hoops over all the years to become an ordained minister. i felt called to this, from deep within my soul. i was ready.
  • i met an amazing woman & fell in love.
  • soon, we got married and i was happier than i’d ever been. yes. woman + woman = love.
  • when i got married i was in my last step of ordination = i had completed the 4 year process of seminary, plus all of the paperwork and approvals by various groups & committees.
  • at a final committee meeting to approve to send me to the last committee before ordination (provisional is the fancy term), i mentioned that i was moving to sweden.
  • no problem, they all said. the umc is in sweden so i could still complete my process.
  • the problem came when i said that i was married. and used the words “wife” and “lina”, indicating that i was married to a woman.
  • the meeting abruptly stopped and i was asked to leave the room due to the fact that i violated a rule in the book of discipline (the rule book for the umc).
  • the rule, you ask? the umc will not ordain anyone who professes that they love and/or are living with someone of the same sex because it is “incompatible with christian teaching.”
  • after some time, someone came to get me and the committee gave me 2 options:
  • 1. since i had said that i was married to a woman out loud, and that is against the rules = no lgbt person can be ordained in the methodist church who says they are in any lgbt relationship, then i could pull my candidacy and quit the process myself. OR
  • 2. i could continue to say that i want to be ordained, follow my calling and what i feel is right for my life, and leave my fate up to the committee to decide = make them de-certify me as a candidate for ministry and say that i am no longer fit or worthy to be ordained.
  • guess what i chose? yep. 2. there was no way in hell i was giving up and quitting. they would have to force me out and deny my the right to be ordained.
  • and they did just that.
  • all because of who i loved. and because i said that i loved her.
  • never mind all the years of work in a church, all the years of studies, and endorsements from others (including some in that room).
  • never mind that i was exactly the same person that i had always been, even the same person as 1 minute before i said that i was married to lina. i did not change. i have not changed. i am still me, with all my gifts and passions and ways to help the world & the church. i still have all of the same things to offer. but, never fucking mind.
  • that was that. the end. candidacy over.
  • ordination was no impossible.
  • i was crushed.
  • and then i was pissed.

today the methodist church was at it again. only this time is was not against a person who was married to/in a relationship with the same sex. this time, it was a man, a methodist minister, who performed a wedding ceremony for his son and his son’s, now, husband.

Frank Schaefer

yep. the umc does not only discriminate against those who want to be ministers and are in same-sex relationships, like me, but they will not allow any of their current ordained ministers to perform any same-sex marriages. another rule in the book. but, this minister, this dad, broke that rule, saying that he was ministering out of love – and that the love overrides, overrules the ban on same-sex marriage. good for him!

how can a church say that people in same-sex relationships can not get ordained and can not get married, but are still “welcome” to be in the church and are worthy, just like everyone else? it’s a mixed message. and it’s just freaking wrong. it’s exclusionary. and, i do believe that jesus, who the church follows (not a rule book!), always INCLUDED everyone. exclusion was not in his vocabulary. so, why is the umc so exclusive?

well, the minister that performed the wedding for his son was put on trial yesterday. yes, the methodist church has a judicial system, to make it more democratic – which is a good thing. potentially. yesterday the court ruled that the minister was guilty of violating the law of the book. again – the book, not jesus. where are the freaking priorities here?!

and today, just a few minutes ago, to be exact, the minister’s fate was decided. the jury decided that the minister is suspended for 30 days and that at the end of his 30 days, he must repent (say he is sorry and he did wrong), or else he must turn in his ministerial orders = be stripped of his ordination. no longer a minister in the methodist church. all because of a wedding.

you see, the jury did a cowardly thing today. the jury decided not to take a stand on this divisive issue and make a real ruling. they didn’t want him to continue to be a minister, but they didn’t want to defrock him and strip away his orders either. so they took the easy ass way out. gave him a suspension and then said HE had to decide what to do. that’s just bs and exactly what the umc seems to be all about – let’s take the middle road and not offend. let’s see if we can navigate in the middle and make everyone happy, or better yet, just not make any strong statement for or against anything. gaaahh. infuriating!

hmm… reminds me of my “choice”. that committee who was dealing with me did not want to de-certify me as a candidate for ministry. there were many amazing people on that committee, who i know loved me, and were very sad to see the situation come up. but, i was not about to let the umc off too easy. it was not me that had changed my mind – i still wanted to be ordained. i was determined to force the book of discipline force me out. i was determined to make the committee deal with the issue. and they did. they chose to follow the book.

on the one hand, i understand. but i also understand that there are many who, like me, disagree with certain rules in the book, but still uphold it. and here’s where i am with that now: nothing will change unless we stand up and make it change. if we keep disagreeing and, yet, still keep following the things we disagree with, then we will remain a church that is divided and focused on excluding people because of our need to follow the rules. i pretty sure jesus wasn’t too concerned about rules that seemed to be unjust. or, rather, he was concerned with them. he blew right past them, ignored them, and taught others that there is a more just way. he stood for something and made a difference, risking even his life for things that no one around him understood. when will you, umc, follow in the footsteps of jesus?

what does warm my heart ever-so-slightly in the midst of all of this, is reading twitter and seeing the resolve of so many ordained ministers who are saying that they, too, will refuse to follow the entire book of discipline. that they will stand up and take that chance. maybe, just maybe. one day there will be a change, if enough people get up enough courage. i’m sorry, brothers & sisters in ministry, i would join you, if i was ordained. i’d stand up.

so, i am pissed again today. and disappointed. and glad that i have stepped away somewhat from the church. i know that it is all about making change and staying in so that change can come from within, but you know what? they wouldn’t let me in. and i am/was not called to be a lay person in the umc. i am/was called to be an ordained minister. so, for now, i have no place there. i’ve been kicked out. and that’s fine. i’ll keep sending letters and pleading my case. but, i can’t do it from the inside, because they won’t let me in.

being stripped of my candidacy happened almost 4 years ago. and the wounds are still fresh. and every time something like this trial comes up again in the life of the umc, i am hopeful. i hope that there will be a change, that more people will say screw the book and let’s love the people. but, it doesn’t happen. there are plenty of people who are saying it, but it’s not happening. so, every time there is a new trial or a new part of this old controversy, my wounds gape even wider. it hurts. it stings. and i move further and further away from the church that i knew and loved.

i just can’t do it. there are too many other places where i am wanted and needed and able to make my mark. so, that’s what i am doing.

but, my heart still aches. i miss my church. and i am so. very. disappointed. the church seems to have no idea how this affects people. i keep dragging these feelings and emotions of unworthiness and confusion around with me, like heavy chains. most of the time i can forget about them, or i have grown used to them, but every now and then, on days like today, i am reminded that i am not welcome as i am. i am reminded that, though i did everything right, i fell in love with the “wrong” person (according to the church) and “broke” a “rule”.

and then i get pissed again. because, i am not in the wrong. love is never, ever wrong. listen to me: love is never, ever wrong.

but, tonight. i am done. it hurts too much. the pain will never heal. it will keep getting easier, but there will always be a hole in my heart. all i ever wanted was to give my life to the umc, but they wouldn’t have me.

still, i must move on and forward. and leave this all behind. it’s done. and i will never ever, not for one second, regret being true to who i am, for having the integrity and courage to say that just because i love a woman, does NOT mean that i am not worthy of ministering.

i guess the umc will just miss out on my ministry. but, god will not. and the world will not. because faith, love, hope, and service are bigger than the methodist church.

peace. justice, and love for all.


a little nature. a little urban. a perfect fix for my soul.

hi friends! long time, no post… huh? geez, i have missed y’all. i’ve missed writing and posting, but i have been super busy the past 4ish days. and i do believe that the busy-ness is only getting started.


natural, woodsy liz.

this past weekend i was in the woods with the teenagers i work with from friday until sunday. oh, my nature soul was soooo very happy. the weather was quite beautiful as well. sunshine. warmth. and even a bit of cozy rain one of the evenings. we played games, had some little chat hours (i had 3 little workshops on challenging yourself, taking risks, and believing in yourself), did some BBQ-ing, watched a movie, laughed, hung out by a lake, and just enjoyed being together.


on sunday, we left the camp in the morning and headed to the church. during the morning service, i got to serve communion (always a great, powerful honor), lead the service, recognize some of the youth, and then there was a moment that the congregation said their official “goodbye” to me (though i work until july 15, but people are gone from regular life after midsummer – june 21). it was emotional standing there with those i had worked with standing behind & around me. gaaahhh. as much as i have left places, it never ever gets easier. but, it always makes me feel grateful, amazed, and so overwhelmed to have had the experiences i have had.

as i stood there, listening to the chairperson talk, feeling the people around me, i thought about the craziness that my life has been. the amazing craziness. to get to move to sweden. learn a new language. get a job. in something i am educated for. work with really good people. and have a chance to be me, even though i am in another country. it was in that moment that i felt i needed to pinch myself, to know that i was actually this little american girl from north carolina, with big dreams and hopes, who has had an opportunity to live them out. to follow them, and watch them come true.

the only advice i have for all of you who have even the tiniest dream is to chase it! chase that soul-filling, mind-blowing, seemingly impossible dream to the ends of the earth if you have to. and be patient. sometimes it takes a while for dreams to materialize. for me, it took 15 years to get here. but, it was so worth the ride.  trust the universe. trust god. and trust in yourself.


sunny stockholm liz.

after my work day (work weekend i guess) at church, i rushed home, jumped in the shower (because ewwwww… i had been camping for some days), and headed for the train station. yep. within a couple of hours of leaving the woods, i was on a train headed to the big city.

my love and i were off to stockholm sunday evening – monday evening. lina had an appointment at the american embassy…. to determine if she would qualify for a visa! sunday night we stayed with a friend, and since the weather was summer-like, we walked to a harbor area with a rock mountain overlooking the water and had a BBQ. it was more perfect than perfect. truly.

monday morning came, and the sun was still shining. we ate breakfast on a balcony and then headed downtown to get lina to the embassy ontime. it was a nerve-racking time, not knowing how things would turn out. things are quite complicated/weird with us… since we are 2 women, married, and bi-national. though lina was applying for a student visa and not a green card (not possible thanks to DOMA and same-sex discrimination), there was still a chance they’d question things. but…. everything went perfectly! and she was approved!


while she was in the embassy (i could not enter and be with her), i walked. and walked. and walked. and like a tourist, i took pictures every 10 feet. it was such a great morning for me, and i felt guilty for having such a peaceful time while lina was going through an american visa interview.

after celebrating the end of the visa process together at an american restaurant in stockholm, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering, shopping, and just soaking up the beauty of the city built on islands. then, it was an early train back home and a cozy landing into my own bed after 3 nights away.

all in all, an intensive, but unbelievably amazing weekend! i took tons of photos, of course, which i will post in a few upcoming posts. but, for now, i’ll leave you. we are in 100% moving mode in our little home. time to get down to business. woo hoo!

sending you peace and love.

living life in a bubble.


good sunday morning, friends! in sweden, the sun is shining for the second day in a row. but, spring is still slowly trying to make itself known. i must admit, i am longing for the warmer weather in north carolina. never again will i take 50 degrees (f) for granted. hehe.

life right now is weird. surreal. it’s not horrible and not fabulous. it just is. which is how life is sometimes, you know. i went back to work last week after my two week “staycation“. everything became much more official regarding my quitting in july. there is an official announcement for a replacement for me. so, it’s really real now. whew. my last working date is july 15. less than three months. wow.

with that knowledge, i also jumped right into searching for jobs in asheville. i’ve already applied for a teaching position, so we’ll see how that goes. of course, i’m also putting myself out there for freelance writing, photography, and blogging positions. this, of course, is my dream. and i have no idea of where to really start with all that. i’m just sending out emails and contacting random people. it’s crazy. if you’ve got any advice, tips, or ideas, i’m all ears! please leave a comment with any thoughts you have. :) i feel like this move is another opportunity to walk through another door, one step closer to living my dream.

and then, there’s the fact that my love is in the hospital. so, life at home is really strange right now. of course i am my own person, but it’s so strange to not have my partner, my soulmate, my best friend around in the midst of everyday life stuff. it’s totally worth being separated right now so that she gets better, but it’s empty at home. it’s empty in part of my soul.

yeah. it’s strange right now. ending one thing. working on beginning another. my love and i living a different kind of life. it’s a sad and difficult time, and a completely exciting time as well. it feels like i’m stuck in some kind of time warp bubble for the next 3 months. nothing feels real. and yet it all feels real at the same time. but, there is one thing i am sure of… it’s all part of the journey. and the journey is always worth it. i’m not there yet – not yet done with my job here. not quite ready to move. not standing on a mountain high above asheville yet. not through this tough time my love. not yet the writer i want to be. not yet fully me…

but that’s all because the journey is never complete. life is the journey. and i’m still on my way…

41cd1bb7d217104b5ada5183c15c6081peace and love.


speaking of peace…

so, i had a little to say this morning about peace and how we try to create a world of peace in the midst of the violence that we find everywhere. and, for me, the only thing i can come up with, as i said earlier, is that i can only make a difference in my life. i cannot make anyone else make the decision to choose peace, acceptance, and love. what i can do, though, is be an example of that to the people i meet. i can educate. and i can provide opportunities for people to meet each other. i truly believe that we are afraid of, we condemn, we accuse, we are willing to fight against those we do not know. as long as we have an “us” and a “them”, we will not have peace. so, what can i do? i can help to break down barriers and walls. i can create environments where people of different races, cultures, countries, socio-economic statuses, religions, sexualities, etc. can come together and meet each other simply as people. and then, when we strip away the prejudices and pre-judgements, we can see the human being standing in front of us as a fellow human being, not an enemy or an unknown scary thing. when we meet each other, then we realize that we have more similarities than not, and that we are connected as humans. when we are willing to be with each other, we will learn that we are more alike one another than we imagined.

warming up

it was a fabulous coincidence that tonight i had planned for my youth group to host a café evening for some refugee teenagers from afghanistan. after everything that has been occuring in the boston area, i thought it was perfect timing that i had a chance to push my teenagers to come face to face with about 20-30 teenage boys from afghanistan who have fled to sweden because they have nothing left, or because they were in danger, in their home land. these guys not only left their home country, they left it alone. they are in sweden without any family. just themselves. and we were gonna show them a good time tonight.

i know that some of my teenagers have been a little nervous about meeting with these guys, if only because not all of them speak swedish, but also because  they are are unknown guys from an unknown culture. and even though we have met with them before, it was still something a little frightening, for everyone involved. understandable.


but, what happened was not frightening at all… it was amazing. after spending the first 20-30 minutes a little bit separated from each other, all the kids began to warm up to each other. someone pulled out their ipad and began to search for music, and after a few minutes, we moved tables, and everyone was up and dancing. so crazy. so much fun. i danced away like crazy as well. we all did. and we laughed. we talked. we met each other simply as people.

as i was telling the guys goodbye, one of them asked if they could call me and invite us to the next muslim celebration they have. they wanted to repay our kindness. i was blown away. afterwards, my kids talked about how much fun it was. and my heart was full.

teen peace warriors

me + my swedish kids + 20 teenage male refugees from afghanistan = one amazing evening. this is how peace is made. (and i dedicate this photo to #watertown and #boston) #GetToKnowEachOther #diversity #dance #laugh #talk #eat #cometogether #peace

you see, peace is possible. and tonight i got to witness peace in the making. what an amazing gift.

what does it mean to be open?

i’m gonna take a little break in the berlin posts now that i’m halfway through them. i have something even more important than travel to write about today.

you may or may not know that i work in a church as a minister. well, i do. and i have worked in churches (in the states & in sweden) for about 9 years of the past 16 years of my professional life. i have a master’s degree in divinity (theology), and have been part of the process to become an ordained minister in the united methodist church (umc) in the past. i am not ordained now, nor can i be… because of who i love. and i have no idea if i ever will be. in the umc or any other church for that matter. i am no longer a candidate for ordained ministry, and yet i still work in the church as a minister (thank you, centrumkyrkan [central church] in sweden!).

the other thing you may or may not know about me is that i am married to a woman. a swedish woman. who is amazing, and the love of my life. another fun fact is that before i met my wife, i was married to a man for almost 10 years. now, you need to know, in case you don’t, that i harbored no secret feelings about being with a woman. i never even thought about it. i just met lina and we fell in love. a huge shock for us both. but, something that made us both complete in some way. not that we weren’t complete people on our own… well, i just knew i had found my home.

ok. now you know two background things about me that lead me to what i am going to share with y’all today.


last week, the other minister i work with and i discussed what we were going to do for a meeting of fellow ministers that we were going to host in our church. and we decided to deal with the question of openness = what does it mean when we say that we are a church that is open for everyone? are we actually open for everyone? and are we open in every way?

we decided that my colleague would introduce and present the topic for the day, and then i would talk some about my life, my journey in life, my experiences of openness (or not). as a person in a same-sex relationship and working as a minister in a church, i am in a unique position. our church/congregation is in a unique position. we have experience with this question in ways that other congregations do not. but, you need to know, this is not something we ever talk about within our church. it doesn’t really matter. i am me. my colleague is herself. we work there. we work with others. and we respect each other and others respect us…. as people. not as homosexual/heterosexual people. for us, it’s a non-issue. of course, i am sure that there are some people who may not agree, but i have not received any bad vibes or experienced any discrimination within our congregation.

so, we had a plan. we knew what we were going to talk about with the group of ministers. but, we had no idea how it would go. what they would think. i was quite nervous, to say the least. not only was i going to have to tackle talking in swedish to this group of ministers about my life, but i knew that there would be some people present who were part of a group who said that i could be present in a group of youth leaders, but that i could not teach or be a leader in any way…. because of who i am married to. gaaahh.

i asked for some positive vibes and thoughts on facebook yesterday morning before the meeting, and what amazing responses and “likes” i received!! i am so so so blessed with amazing people in my life.


well, time for the meeting came and my palms were sweaty. my breath was short & fast. my colleague began talking and explaining that we were going to take up the question of openness in the church. and then, she turned it over to me.

i told my story. quickly. from beginning to end. i told of the feeling deep within me to work in a church, or to work with my faith/my spirituality as the center of my work. i told of my marriage to a man. i told of my years of teaching in schools. i told of my years of working in a church. i told of my journey to finally decide to go to seminary and get my master’s degree. i told of my journey & acceptance as a candidate for ordained ministry.

and then, i told of the fight that i had within myself of choosing between being a good wife and following the path to seminary. and i told of the breakdown of my marriage. i told of the many people who said that i could have it all. but i didn’t believe it. i had to give up something. i told of my return to scandinavia and the return of the feeling to be true to myself. i told of my decision to move to europe, which inevitably meant that i left the church where i worked in order to chase a dream of working in a church in denmark. i told of meeting lina. i told of the unexpected love i found in her. and the marriage we embarked on.

and finally, i told of my last meeting with the board who determined the final step of my candidacy for ordination. that meeting 3 years ago, that ended all my hopes of being ordained in the umc, simply because now i was married to a woman.

nothing about me had changed. but, somehow, in that moment of being honest about being whole – of discovering that i can have it all, that i can follow my dreams and have love – everything disappeared. one sentence… one sentence wiped away everything. suddenly my eight years of experience in the church, my master’s degree, my previous recommendations for ordination were gone. my knowledge was still there. my qualifications were still there. my passion was still there. my experience was still there. my calling was still there. i was still there. the same person as i always had been, only transformed & changed through life experiences, as we all do.

but, suddenly, because of one little sentence, i was now unworthy. unwelcome.

oh yes, i had the choice to stay quiet and not say anything about my marriage, and be passed on to the last step in ordination. but, what kind of life would that be? keeping my marriage a secret? where is the integrity in living a double life? and how can the church condone that, but not condone a whole, healthy life filled with a calling and love?

nope. staying silent was never an option for me. and while it broke my heart, and i have wept many times over being left out in the cold & not accepted as myself, i was determined to be strong and stand up for myself as a whole person, secure in who i am and who i am called to be.


i said all of this to these fellow ministers yesterday. and as i talked, i watched some of them nod their heads, as if agreeing with me. and some squirm in their chairs, as if they were uncomfortable. and some who may have been in shock.

and when i was done speaking, then we began discussing. honestly. openly. without any agendas to convince others of taking on our own opinions. it was amazing and wonderful. of course we didn’t all agree with each other, but it was definitely a few hours that inspired others to begin to think a little differently perhaps. it was a time that inspired us all to look inside and see how we live out our faith and our love. do we live what we believe?

but, even though the whole discussion was based on my life and how the church can & should be open to homosexual people, i wanted to make sure that i stressed that i was not only a fighter for lgbt equal rights, but for all people who might be left out or feel unwelcome: homeless, handicapped/disabled, old, poor, foreigners…

at the end of our time together, many of the ministers said that it was a completely different thing to have a real, live person present to speak about their life, to tell their story. otherwise all we ever do is dwell in the midst of the theoretical. so true. and it was so amazing to hear that. all in all, i’d say it was a successful, difficult, loving, soul-searching time spent with colleagues.

after the meeting, i was exhausted. spent. but, i had some revelations of my own during this time.

  1. i want to do this more often. i want to spread my story. i want to offer workshops and facilitate discussions on this question/issue. i want to speak up and speak out. actively. i want to meet people. and i want to begin to do this when i love back to NC this summer. my story is not only my story. there are others who have experienced the same – and we need to listen to them. if i can be an ambassador and a spokesperson, then sign me up!
  2. i love speaking to people. perhaps it’s the preacher & teacher inside of me. i am comfortable with it. and i love to engage in conversations with others.
  3. perhaps this is the most important one… i discovered myself in a new way as i spoke. i came to understand how whole i am. healed. whole. truly me. faithfully me. honestly me. and that is a gift that will never be taken from me. i know exactly who i am. and i would have never known, had i not experienced all i have experienced. but i am secure. strong. sure. yep. i am no longer the liz that is torn between what she should do, who she should be, what she should choose. i have moved on… i know who i am.
  4. not that i am done with myself, or my journey. there is so much more for me to learn about myself and the world. there are so many more levels and facets of myself to discover. but for now, i know myself in a way that i have never known myself before. i have reached a point in my life, where i am secure in who i am. and i cannot go backwards from that.

one of the supportive messages i received on facebook yesterday was from a wonderful former seminary professor. i haven’t had contact with him since i left seminary really (almost 5 years ago), but yesterday he sent me a message that he was glad that all went well for me and a link to a beautiful video. i am so thankful that he sent it, and so touched that he thought of me.

please watch it. please know that you are entitled to your own opinions & i respect them. but, i will never stop trying to spread the message that love is love. and those of us in same-sex relationships are not different. our love is not different. our lives are not different. all we want, as we all want, is to be seen and accepted as we are… just as god loves & accepts everyone as they are, i believe.

so, what exactly does the umc mean when they say open hearts, open minds, open doors?

and isn’t it time that we open ourselves & our churches up and live as we believe?

the fight for equality continues. peace & love, my friends.

the one where you start to write about one thing & end up going in a whole different direction.

hello dear readers!

i have diligently posted something here every day lately, not that i have a goal or challenge to do that, but i just like to check in, provide a tidbit of inspiration, and leave a few thoughts. i truly, truly enjoy it. but i don’t feel like i’ve really written something meaningful (or long-winded, as some of you may say. hehe) in a while. or i feel like i have been super busy. and i have. and i haven’t had time. my desire to blog & write has been strong. but my motivation has not. now that i’m all cozy at home this sunday evening, and have had the perfect few hours to do nothing but write, all i feel is exhaustion. like i need and want to be a vegetable. and yet, thoughts swirl around in my head. but, when i write a sermon (which i did yesterday) and deliver it aloud (which i did today), it sucks the life out of me. it is amazing, but it drains me.

so, here’s what i’ve done instead. i have had a few glasses of wine. munched on nachos. listened to a beyonce documentary that my love watched. snuggled with the cat. talked with my parents – multiple times. had some tea. read a little. but, writing? i have done none.

sunday night at home.

sunday night at home. cozy, huh?

as i have been sitting here like a lump on a log, i’ve been able to process today a little. and i have to say that today at work was pretty cool. there were 6 women who were leading the service at the church, so it was definitely a girl power kinda day. and out of the 6 of us, we represented 5-6 generations. super rad, i think. i was inspired by the women leading through reading & prayers. they took their time, read with passion and emotion, so we could sit back & soak up the words. and then there were the 2 ladies who played the piano & organ… so talented & dedicated to what they do. and finally, my love. yes, my love was part of the service today. she sang 3 songs, which were so touching for me & for others, bringing some people to tears. her voice, the way she sings – with such confidence, emotion, and strength – i felt safer, more inspired, just listening to her.

and then there was me. the preacher girl.

i always wonder how people will take it when i preach and talk. the standing up in front of people part is easy, even for this introvert. it’s because it’s like talking about something i have written here, so it’s just natural. but, i always worry… do i make sense in what i say? am i saying it too much? is it relevant to life? can people relate? how does it help the one person who may be sitting there who is facing the death of a loved one? and let’s not even get into all the swedish screw-ups i fear that i make. it’s a really humbling job. i feel as if i am bearing my soul. and i am. and i hope that whatever message i am sending is one that is faithful to the truth of love – because that’s what all my sermons boil down to. that we are all loved, just as we are. that life is all about love. relationships. and hope.

today’s theme was especially challenging though. it wasn’t all fluffy & lovey-dovey. it was an in your face kind of theme. a “suck it up because life sucks sometimes” kinda theme. a message of of suffering, tests, and trials.

for those of who you are not christian, the season of lent began last wednesday, so today was the first sunday in lent. lent is a strange, dark, penitential, contemplative period of 40 days before easter (the highlight of christianity). it is a remembrance of the 40 days that jesus spent alone in the desert, faced with temptations. suffering. cold. alone. hot. in pain. hungry. and oh so tempted to leave his faith behind.

for those of us today who “celebrate” lent, it is an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the world’s mystics, gurus, & spiritual leaders by turning inward. a time to reflect on who we are and who we want to be.

today’s focus was on the fact that life is tough. really tough sometimes. and those tough times are inevitable. but, we learn who we are because of the tough times. we have a decision… are we gonna keep the faith & fight on, or are we gonna let the darkness swallow us up.

speaking of tough times, it was tough to stand today and be the one who verbally stated all the things that i am certain all, or most, of us think. like… why? why is life so tough? and can we really believe in a god that is loving and good when there is so much violence, war, injustice, poverty, hunger, and hopelessness in the world?

yes, i stood in front of all of these people today and said, “does God even really exist?”. as those words came out of my mouth and bounced off the tall, cream-colored  walls of the church, it was as if my words echoed in my head for about 5 minutes. i wondered if the walls would crumble. or if lightening would strike (not that i believe in that kind of stuff, but still). what minister questions the existence of god? and what minister does it out loud, in church?  well, this one does, apparently.

the walls did not crumble, no body walked out, and lightening did not strike. but, that is perhaps because i tried to explain myself. i admitted that i don’t have the answers to the tough questions… i just have more questions. but, i have hope. i see it in the stories handed down through the years about people who have been on their own, long, difficult journeys in life. people who have faced their demons and their fears, suffered through so much, and come out the other side more secure in who they are. stronger. the suffering and pain transformed them and made them more secure in themselves.

i myself have experienced how suffering & pain are transformative. just read my posts in my memoir that i am (slowly) writing on the blog, from death to peace. every bit of my story is about living through difficult times, so difficult that, as i examined myself and went through those dark periods, i had to let  something inside me die. but, because of that death, a new life… a life where i was more me, more sure, more aware, more alive, was waiting on the other side.

we see this hope and transformation in nature too.

a butterfly is transformed from an ugly, little caterpillar to something beautiful & delicate. but that doesn’t happen without a period of going within its cocoon. and the trees of the earth. the turn brown, die, and fall to the ground. the trees are left naked, twisted, and bare. and yet, one day, we see tiny little buds appear. and hope returns. and then, the leaves appear. those beautiful bright green leaves that dance in the wind.

from suffering & death comes life. from our struggles & our pain, we become new people.

so, yes, all the crap exists. yes, i still question where god is when the shit hits the fan. yes, i feel alone. abandoned. and scared. and no, thank you. i do not want to willingly go through difficult times. i do not always want to look inward & see the dingy reflection of myself staring back at me, warts & all.

but, i will.

and i will focus on it for the next 40 days. i will endure these days of introspection. i will honestly try to see where i have been, where i am, and where i hope to go. and i will be faithful. faithful to myself. to being who i am made to be. to chasing my dreams and to living life to the fullest. keeping hope alive, even when i feel as if i am left out in the desert. all alone.

well, i guess i needed to get all that out. how’s that for getting some writing done? hehe.

i send you peace in the midst of your pain.

on today’s agenda.



celebration is my theme for today. woo hoo!! got my sermon all done last night. based it on jesus turning water into wine at a wedding. wrote about learning to celebrate in every moment, because there is always, always something worth celebrating. it’s always the right time for a party. it’s alway the right time to take something ordinary & make it something extraordinary – like jesus making water into wine. and now, i’m gonna work really hard to practice what i preach. hehe. because, i mean, seriously, things may not be perfect; but perhaps i would celebrate more if i looked at what i had, instead of what i don’t have (and i’m not talking material things). life is too short to go around feeling sorry for ourselves. little slivers of beauty & joy exist even in the darkest places & moments. celebrating does not mean being dreamy, unrealistic, and naive. not. at. all. it means embracing all that is wrong, difficult, scary, and horrible in the world & in our lives, and still finding a reason to dance & laugh & sing.

so, instead of wasting my life away, i’m gonna celebrate all that there is to celebrate. and what better time than now. if not now, then when?!

there y’all have gotten the gist of what i’m talking about today at work. wanna join me in celebrating later on?!

happy sunday! throw a party! (even if it’s for yourself…. you’re worth it!). peace & laughter.