the one thing i love about easter in sweden

easter in sweden is a big deal. not necessarily because of the religious reasons, but because it is a long weekend holiday, and the first real celebration in the spring. like the united states, easter is right up there with christmas. there are traditions, decorations, and typical swedish things that you can count on seeing and/or doing every year.

i’ve spent quite a few easters in sweden… i think this was my 5th, and i knew exactly what to expect. time may have passed, and situations in life may have changed, but this holiday, this little break in regular, everyday life, remains an important time in swedish society.

my easter this year began on friday morning, as my love and i enjoyed a quiet, slow morning at home. then we hopped on a train and headed south to norrköping to lina’s parents’ home. we made it by dinner time + sat outside in their new sunroom through sunset and until the full moon had risen high in the sky. on good friday, it is expected that you don’t do much of anything – a tradition in respect of the day of jesus’ death. even though most people in sweden don’t really observe good friday.

sweden-blue-skies train-ride-my-love sweden-countryside

saturday, the traditional weird day between good friday and easter, is filled with a buzz here in sweden. though, it’s a buzz only with food + family here. nothing else. our saturday was pretty calm, even though it was busy – kind of. a long, lazy morning with lots of coffee + breakfast. meal preparations. a big 14 person lunch. lots of candy (from the easter eggs children get). a mid-afternoon fika. more relaxing, talking, and sitting around the table. pizza dinner. and then bed.

sitting around the table, eating, talking, and catching up is something that swedes do every well. it is highly possible to go from one meal to a fika to another little meal, and never leave the table. it was something i had hard time with when i first lived in sweden years ago, being a short-attention-span american. but, i have grown to enjoy the long, drawn-out meals where you really, really connect and enjoy each others’ company.

coffee feather-tree easter-food easter-candy me-photo easter-cake pizza-dinner

on easter sunday, we began the morning slowly again, but left for church in the late morning. we visited the church where i used to work, and filled with people that lina grew up with. it was so very nice to hug some necks and catch up with friends and co-workers and other members. i have to say, we were treated like little celebrities when we walked in – what a boost to one’s ego. hehe. of course, after the service we had fika and chatted with even more people. it was really great to reconnect with some very amazing, inspiring people from our former life in sweden.

then, in the afternoon, we headed to lina’s aunt + uncles’ house for a birthday dinner for lina’s cousin who’s turning 25. there were about 17 of us or so. another amazing family meal of sitting around the table and catching up. as you can tell, it’s all about quality time together here in sweden.

church-sweden friends-church

in the evening, lina and i hopped a bus back to uppsala. it was a long ride and we arrived close to 11pm. but that didn’t stop us from meeting up with lina’s brother for a drink at a nearby bar. he wasn’t with us for easter because he was with his fiancées family. it was a great way to wind down after a social weekend away, and transition back to being home.

easter monday is a holiday here, so everyone was still off from work. lina and i stayed home all day – minus a quick walk to the grocery store. doing what we love to do. and just being.


so, in my opinion, easter in sweden is all about one thing: simplicity. it’s all about simply spending time together and enjoying that time with good food and relaxation. it is a fantastic little break in the everyday grind. and something that makes the swedish society so amazing. it’s  the ability to just slow down and just be for a sustained period of time – without needing to be entertained by something fancy. just some food and some people and perhaps a chance to enjoy nature a bit. for a whole weekend. something that many people (americans) could learn to do better. whether you are involved with a big family or there are only two of you, it’s all about stopping for a moment just to enjoy… well, life.

hope you had a lovely weekend, and celebrated in just the way that you wanted + needed.

onwards + upwards! xoxo


meditation mondays: it feels like everything can begin now

I had this feeling of letting go.

On Saturday, I sat on the floor, meditating, and I felt that it was time to let go of Asheville. Not that Asheville is not still the place where my heart feels full, because it is. But, to let go of the ways that I am trying to hold onto my life there. It is time to let go of all of the moments that I spend here, in Sweden, imagining what is going on there, in Asheville. That time has passed. That old life is over and a new life, a new way of living is beginning.

As I meditated, my mind was filled with revelations that I was following the Easter weekend pattern in my own life. I ended my life in Asheville. I have mourned the loss and live in the uncertainty of limbo + confusion, and suddenly, without knowing what was happening, realized that a new opportunity, a new life was truly waiting for me to grab it and begin.

And with that realization of Good Friday’s loss, Holy Saturday’s confusion + solemness, and Easter Sunday’s good news of a crazy, amazing new life. I felt a shift inside of me. A ending of the wandering and a preparedness to move on. I felt like everything can begin now.

What happened during my meditation was acceptance. Acceptance that the most powerful moment is the present moment – especially when we are aware + paying attention to it. And that acceptance has helped me move from mourning to life. A completely unknown life, but a way of knowing that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

full moon

And right now actually is all about the unknown. It’s about leaping in to a way of living that cannot even be imagined yet. It cannot be planned, and must be allowed to simply unfold. And all of that stuff from the past? All of the old ways of being + living + relating + thinking + believing… it’s time to leave all of that behind as well.

Going back to Easter… think about those disciples who suddenly realized that Jesus was not actually dead. That he was living, though he was leaving, and he was giving them – the men + the women – a mission. All was not lost as the followers had believed + felt. As the had dwelling in the past, dazed + confused, they now understood that they had a chance at a whole new life, with a whole new purpose. Something that they could have never, ever dreamed would happen. They had no idea what this new, amazing future looked like, but that didn’t matter. They knew, in that moment when they encountered Jesus, that something was different. So, now, it was time to get a move on! Newly inspired + energized – the past was behind them, and from now on, it was time to look ahead.

It is the same for us… it is the same for me, now, as I consider leaving my past behind + accepting the unknown future that lies ahead of me. It is time to live in the present moment, anticipating a bright, new shiny opportunities + possibilities. Now, that does not mean throwing away all that has happened in the past. No, not at all. It means, pulling it all together in our souls, holding it there, cherishing it all, knowing that all of the past makes us who we are right in the moment. But, it’s time to step forward. Keeping the old ways part of our history and our story. And with the comfort of the memories and feelings and thoughts and lessons and loves, look ahead with courage + empowerment. What lies ahead is not something that is within our comfort zone, but a life that is bigger + better than we could ever imagine. Deeper. Higher.

Of course, all of this can feel amazing + scary at the same time. Like… “Wow! What an opportunity! I feel totally blessed, as if I am overflowing with inspiration and energy.” It can also feel like, “What the hell have I done? When will things begin to make sense? Why aren’t things changing? This is not at ALL what I had in mind!”.

But, this is how it goes with change + transformation + growth.


Remember what I said at the beginning of the blog post? How I described how I was feeling? it’s a cycle, my friends. And it occurs over and over again in our lives. It’s how life flows. And if we are aware + grounded, then we do not freak out as we flow along with life.

So, we have Good Friday’s all of the time. Days/years/times in life when we know that we have lost everything. When the way that intended it turned out completely wrong. When it feels like our plans, or even our selves, have died. Like it’s all over. Everything changed.

And then, like Holy Saturday, we mourn. We feel lost. We don’t know what comes next. It’s dark and lonely. And, after a while, we accept what has happened and realize that we have to keep on keeping on.

But, just when we are there, right when we realize that life is rolling on without us and we’d better get back in the game, a sliver of light pierces our darkness. Something inspires us. Spring returns. Life begins again. The view after the climb is breathtaking. And we can see clearly now all that we did not understand before. We have grown. We have changed. And we step out, filled to the brim with inspiration + love + peace, so much so that they all begin spilling out of us and onto everyone we meet. Easter Sunday arrives.

And then, the whole thing happens all over again.

“The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.”  ― Joseph Campbell

onwards + upwards! xx


death + life + a powerful moon

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Tonight, on this mournful, soulful Good Friday, a full moon rises + a lunar eclipse graces the night sky. And with it comes another cosmic time of great power + opportunity for change. However strong and amazing the change may be, we may also feel in the dark – if you’re like me, than you feel the shift, you know there’s a huge change, but you have no idea what changes are coming. Much like the disciples of Jesus on the night of his death. 


The good news is that the only thing we need to do is to intend with our heart and our spirit to allow for the most positive change possible and be willing to go through the discomfort of the ups and downs of the unexpected events that are surely right around the corner. Scary + unsettling? Oh yeah. There is so much in life, and in death, that we don’t understand. 

But, if we simply slow down enough to allow ourselves a chance to breathe + soak in the energy, if we find a way trust in the power of the cycle of the universe, and are crazy enough to believe that all things work for good, that love ultimately wins, then we will be amazed at the transformation that we experience. And we will come to know first hand that even the darkest night ends with the light of the sun. 

This is an exciting and scary and incredible day, but it is one that opens to a new experience of living life at a higher + deeper level. Just imagine the heartbreak and confusion of the followers of Jesus. The one person that they put all of their hopes in, their hero, the one who had come to make a difference and make miracles happen had just been killed in the most horrible + embarrassing of ways. They must have been beyond grief, past confusion, and somewhere on the way to giving up on any hope. It was the darkest of darks. One of those “nothing will make this better” kinds of moments. And yet, they gathered together to help each other through. What else could they do? And somewhere, I believe, in that gathering + clinging to each other, they help in a sliver of hope. They did not give up completely.

So, don’t you give up either. Surround yourself with friends and community this weekend, and celebrate spring and all things new. And, by all means, check out the glorious moon tonight. Be ready for change, dream big, set your intentions, stay faithful, and rejoice. Life begins anew!

Onwards + upwards! xoxo


meditation mondays: walking through holy week

i literally could not keep my eyes closed during my meditation this morning. i would close them, breathe deeply, and a few minutes later, i would realize that i was looking around my living room or staring out the window. i even took a few photos as the quiet, instrumental music played in my ears. every time i realized that my eyes were open + i was daydreaming or whatever, i quickly shut my eyes again and took 2 deep breaths, repeating the mantra of the day. and then, my eyes popped open all over again. repeat this for 20 minutes and you’ll know what my meditation experience was today.

ineffective? yes. what i needed in some mysterious way? perhaps.

the last 30 seconds of the meditation (which i didn’t know were the last 30 seconds) i suddenly had a feeling of presence and peace. i remembered that today is the beginning of holy week for christians around the world. and i felt my soul yearning for the familiarity of the rituals of this long, silent, mournful week. and then, i felt the presence of love within me, reminding me that i am not alone. that i am on a journey as well, a journey that leads through all kinds of terrain. and, if i want to be faithful to my journey (a faithful disciple in christian terms), then i must be prepared for the road that lies ahead – with all of its twists + turns. and, if i want to be faithful, then i remember to not give up. i remember that i am called to walk this road in life – a life of being true to myself and to who i am created to be. to be anything other than who i am, to do anything other that what i am called to do, is to miss out on the abundance and beauty that life has to offer.

this is the message of holy week. the road is long, tough, painful. and yet, there is beauty and grace all along the way as well. sharing in the sufferings and passions of jesus, of life, transform us into new people. with a new mission, a new way of seeing the world, a new way of being and loving and existing.

i came across this quote this morning, and i just new that i wanted to share it with you:

“No star stops burning in the sky because it isn’t a planet, it does what it needs to do, so must you. So be, and continue to be, until you realize what that truly means, because when you see what you really are, you start to see life differently. You were never meant to compete with those around you, you were meant to live life in a way that invites others to join you in this journey.

If you must rest along the way in your journey, choose a safe place with good company but do not stay there. Rest is good, but it is not our home. Our journey will be filled with many ups and downs, times of grief and hardship. You will have moments where you feel so alone, frightened, and confused. You will question why you chose this path in the first place; it is in those moments that you must find a quiet place to rest, to lay down and watch the stars. You have a long way to go, so learn to love the silence of the path and the still moments where all you feel is the beating of your heart. See the beauty of all that is around you, learn to appreciate that every living thing has a journey to take, and that sometimes they will be with you in your own path.

You have come so far, you have conquered mountains and valleys. You may feel weary now, so rest traveler, rest and know that when you have reached home, there is going to be real rest and joy, real peace and comfort, your tears will be wiped away and your burden taken off. You are so brave to wake up every morning, so full of courage when you make the choice to take a step and then another. May your feet always lead you to wonderful places, and your heart beat with a strength that only you can hold.

Keep walking, weary traveler, never go back; for the path that lays ahead is full of beautiful unknowns and wonderful secrets that yearn for you to discover and love. Keep walking, and know that you are walking a path that is good for you.” – T.B. LaBerge


my friends, no matter where you are, or what you believe, my wish for you is peace along your journey – a sense of who you are + who you are called to be. that who you feel you are in your soul, is how you are able to live your life. it is possible, friends. it is. keep dreaming. keep walking. keep believing.


onwards + upwards!

sensory overload: easter celebrations!


in our little home, we had a quiet and beautiful easter sunday. after dreary, cold rain on friday & saturday… accompanied with a bit of pensive, contemplative moments (read about it here), easter sunday truly lived up to it’s name. just like the symbolism of death and waiting that was saturday’s companion, sunday’s celebration of life, renewal, and  beauty was made even more real by amazing sunshine and warm weather. it was absolutely perfect here in asheville!

saturday night, in an effort to take part in some easter traditions, we decided to dye easter eggs – but, with a twist. i didn’t want to go and buy the typical little packaged dyes, so i decided to make my own natural, organic dyes from fruits, vegetables, and spices (thanks to pinterest). it took a little work, but it was quite easy. and it felt so good to go organic.


To prepare the dye I used the following:

  • 1 chopped beet
  • 2 C red onion skins
  • 2 C yellow onions skins
  • 2 Tbsp of paprika
  • 2 Tbsp of tumeric
  • 1 C blackberries
  1. Place each of these things into 2 C of water along with 1 tsp salt and boil for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Strain the water and place in a jar or bowl and add 1 Tbsp white vinegar to each dye.
  3. Allow them to cool before using.
  4. Of course I also needed hard boiled eggs.  I used 12, so Lina and I would each have 6 to dye.
  5. I placed all the dyes into plastic cups and we used plastic spoons to place the eggs in and out of the cups.

IMG_1466 DSC_0371


It takes a while for the natural dyes to work, so be ready to be patient. I think we left ours in the dyes for about 30 minutes to an hour. It all depends on how dark you want your colors to be. And, when you take them out, they will not be perfectly evenly dyed, but splotchy and uneven – a little tie-dyed looking. But, I loved that. And I especially loved the muted, earthy colors. I left them alone overnight to dry, and was completely in love when I saw them on Easter morning!

easter eggs

easter sunday started off with a misty, mysterious mountain fog , which soon burned off and revealed a glorious day of warmth and abundant sunshine.


speaking of easter sunday morning, we had so much fun! lina has never received an american easter basket, so, the easter bunny made an extra special stop at our home to surprise her.

i was sleeping hard, when suddenly, i heard, “i see something!” and there, on the dining room table, was an easter basket for lina! she jumped out of bed and ran over to her basket. there was complete and unadulterated joy coming from her squeals and excitement – an amazing and beautiful thing to see. she sat down and went through her basket, loving every minute of it. and i was filled with such joy just watching her. then, it was time for lina to find the eggs, which had been hidden around the apartment by the easter bunny. so. much. fun.



after all the early morning festivities, it was time for coffee on the balcony… and a little later on, a french toast breakfast in the sun.


even though my love has a lot to study right now (she only has 2 weeks left and then her summer vacation starts!), we decided to head over to biltmore estate to check out the flowers. there is a huge garden there that is filled with tulips, and it is a favorite spring destination for people from all over. actually, it’s a pretty huge deal, and very magical – biltmore estate in the spring.

so, we drove the 5 minutes over there and discovered that the line to get in was waaaaay long. it’s a 3 mile drive up to the house & gardens, through the biltmore land/grounds, and it was bumper to bumper the whole way. but, it was so beautiful that we just rolled down the windows, turned on bluegrass music, and then enjoyed the ride.

biltmore estate entrance spring

we passed right by the house and headed for the gardens, parked the car, and then soaked up the beauty.

biltmore estate biltmore gardens biltmore gardens mountains biltmore dogwood greenhouse conservatory my love me photography tulips red flower orange field of flowers tulip garden lina tulips liz tulips sit liz me ego flowers feet biltmore swannanoa river biltmore yellow flowers spring lone tree biltmore mountains

after the biltmore visit, we came home for the rest of the day – except i went to see my bro for an hour. and later on, finished off the day with a glass of bubbles and a sunset chat with my love.

i truly hope that your easter, your weekend, was beautiful and filled with lots of moments that took your breath away.

love & peace. 

credit to lina for some of the biltmore photos. 

my six senses instagram easter weekend.

i realize that it is already wednesday, but i’m still gonna share my weekend pictures now. i figure as long as it’s not the next weekend, then i’m still safe. just wanna let y’all know that my senses were on overload this past weekend/week. it was a combination good and tough times. and it was intense. lots of family. emotional. beautiful. difficult. and, as i said, intense. in good & bad ways. here’s some of what perked my senses.

ee98211e953311e282e022000a1fbc68_78bd4a10e965c11e2bd6e22000aaa07e4_7table lazy


good fridaypinteresteaster lunch lunch toddlers sunnew life candles easter chickens tulipsbananas coffee


seeing: family gathered around the table for easter dinner. from the youngest to the oldest. so great. blue skies up above me. a bright full moon outside my litchen window.

hearing: our sweet little bella’s recorded voice entertaining our sweet little niece. nails being hammered into wood on good friday.

tasting: easter dinner. filled with meat traditionally, but vegetarians can make it work too.

touching: the wax dripping from the candles we lit on easter morning.

smelling: bouquets of tulips. fresh, crisp air on a long walk.

feeling: warm sunshine shining down on me. happy that early spring air has found its way to sweden. peace as i drank my morning cup of coffee on my first morning of spring break.

i made it through the week, and now i’m doing the best i can to just relax. spending some time at home. meeting friends for drinks. being with my love. although it’s my vacation week (or 2, who knows what i’ll do next week), it’s still a little tough in life right now. we didn’t make it to china, of course. but, i’m working really hard to focus on other things coming up… like moving. and there is still a sense that we need to focus on each day as it comes. survival mode, you might say. or enjoying the moment. it depends on whether you are a glass half empty or glass half full kinda person. me? i choose half-full. so, i’m determined to soak up my moments, breathe deeply, and remember all that is wonderful and that for which i am grateful.

by the way, speaking of senses, as i type this, my love is playing her guitar and singing. our cat is snuggling beside me. and the sunset outside is stunning. the pink horizon fading to dark blue overhead. life is not perfect, but sometimes for one split second, it feels perfect in that moment.

so, what has peaked your senses over the past few days? what thoughts have you got rolling around in your head?

peace, dear friends.

celebrating renewal!

easter sunrise 2009. cocoa beach, florida. road trip with my love to the florida keys for spring break.

easter sunrise 2009. cocoa beach, florida. road trip with my love to the florida keys for spring break.

“the secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possible can.” ~ mike dooley

“i have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” ~ j.b. priestly

“easter is the demonstration of god that life is essentially spiritual and timeless.” ~charles m. crowe

“there is a fragrance in the air, a certain passage of a song, an old photograph falling out from the pages of a book, the sound of somebody’s voice in the hall that makes your heart leap and fills your eyes with tears. who can say when or how it will be that something easters up out of the dimness to remind us of a time before we were born and after we will die?” ~ frederick beuchner

“things are always better in the morning.” ~ harper lee

“i couldn’t imagine living in a state that didn’t reach the ocean. it was a giant reset button. you could go to the edge of the land and see infinity and feel renewed.”
~ Avery Sawyer.

“reshaping life! people who can say that have never understood a thing about life—they have never felt its breath, its heartbeat—however much they have seen or done. they look on it as a lump of raw material that needs to be processed by them, to be ennobled by their touch. But life is never a material, a substance to be molded. if you want to know, life is the principle of self-renewal, it is constantly renewing and remaking and changing and transfiguring itself, it is infinitely beyond your or my obtuse theories about it.”
― boris pasternak

“i believe that when you stop renewing and are no longer open to change and the possibilities that continually unfold, you stop being alive and are just getting through the years. transformation doesn’t happen unless you’re willing: it’s your choice.” ~ oprah winfrey

“perhaps the earth can teach us. as when everything seems dead, and later proves to be alive.” ~ pablo neruda

come out of the darkness. celebrate the light. a new day is upon us! with the morning, life is renewed once again. we have a new beginning.  a new chance to follow our dreams, to live life, to be who exactly who we are. the question is… what are our dreams? who are we? and what are we going to do with our life today?! one thing is for sure, we have one more opportunity to celebrate life!

happy easter, everyone! peace, light, & love.


this morning my love & i sipped coffee and talked about emptiness. about feeling empty inside. lost. unrest.

we talked about what makes a person good.

we talked about learning to love ourselves and others.

and we talked about the places & people that fill up the emptiness that is inside. we realized that there is no one magical thing that fills up the emptiness within, but, instead it’s a bunch of little things that fill our soul bit by bit. and perhaps the goal of life is to fill our souls constantly…perhaps to live life to the fullest means to do just that. we seek to know who we are, what touches us, and what fills us. and when we allow ourselves to seek those people and things, then we are living from our soul. and the emptiness is not so overwhelming.

of course, perhaps we are never completely filled with everlasting fullness and peace. life is more of a balancing act. there are days that we wake up and feel empty and we don’t know why. then there are other days that we feel so full that we are overflowing. and there are days that we feel everything in between. but, to achieve that sense of inner peace, and to fill up those empty holes of hopelessness as much as possible, is an ongoing journey. it is the journey of life.

we are meant to be full, to live life to the fullest, to feel peace that comes from deep within, to laugh, love, dance, enjoy. getting to know ourselves, finding those things that fill and touch our souls, and living life surrounded by those people, places, things, and activities that fill our soul… these all give us a sense of being. a sense of peace & love. and a life that is worth living.

in the christian world, today is a dark, empty, hopeless day. jesus is dead and in the tomb. his followers are crushed. confused. disappointed. and completely without hope. i am reminded of all of the others in my life who have already died and been laid to rest. and i feel how much i miss them all. i am also thinking of all of the others in the world who live life every day feeling crushed. confused. disappointed. and hopeless. i am aware of how we all just want to run and hide because of all of the emptiness we feel. how we all just want to feel that life is worth living.

the journey is almost over, though. the journey through the darkness. it’s time to remember that even though we feel empty and hopeless, there is always light and hope. there is new life, a new chance, new opportunities, and new inspiration just around the corner. the darkness and emptiness does not last. death will be defeated. pain and suffering will end. and, in the end, love will win. we just have to keep holding on… keep filling our souls with the things that give us life.

so, today, if you feel empty somewhere inside, be aware of it. feel the emptiness & hopelessness. and then, seek out something or someone that fills your soul. let it fill you with peace and hope. and then fall madly in love with your life again.

i’m gonna do just that. i’m spending the day with my love & her family. the sun is shining. i’m anticipating much laughter and craziness. and then, tonight, i’m gonna tuck myself into my cozy bed, with my love by my side, and take a deep breath and remind myself…

life is good. i am blessed. and love is the purpose of it all.


And if your strife strikes at your sleep
Remember spring swaps snow for leaves
You’ll be happy and wholesome again
When the city clears and sun ascends

~mumford and sons

hoping that your saturday fills your soul with peace.

skulls and flowers for friday.

oh, my dear readers, this just might be the week from hell.

on top of the whole “holy week” focus on death thing, so many other things have been happening as well. my love’s fierce battle with her sickness. fixing everything regarding the cancelled trip to china.  the emotional and physical exhaustion of dealing with a death in the family and everything that goes with being part of the funeral (which was yesterday). tons of house guests (funeral and not funeral-related) – which have been amazing, but still, something that is out of the ordinary. making sure we alert all of the practical places about our upcoming move (phone company, apartment landlord, etc). everything has to be communicated 3 months before we move out, which is now. it’s still cold & wintery in sweden – though today might have been a sign that spring will come one day. oh yeah, and work.

i feel as if i’m having an out of body experience. my love & i are on autopilot right now. perhaps just going through the motions. and i think we’ll stay that way until sunday at some point. and then, i’m off. since i’d already planned on taking 2 weeks vacation, i am just gonna stay home next week. rest. go shopping. write. do what i want. we’ll see what i do about my second week of vacation…. but i’m not gonna concern myself with that until next week. i must say, though, it feels amazing to know that next week i am free. perhaps i’ll take a day retreat by myself.

for now, it’s just time to push on through. i’m working pretty much all day tomorrow. the depressing death of jesus day. but, a day that i believe must be faced. christian or not, a believer or not, i think that it’s a day that symbolizes the human struggle between light and dark. fear and courage. disappointment and hope. violence and peace. injustice and equality. death and life. these are all part of the human condition. and i believe that we must be willing to stare our tough times in the eye. we can’t just run away. because all that’s tough and painful, will always follow us. it is part of life. instead, we must go through it all. deal with it. suck it up. let it be as it is. embrace the pain… and know that something will come from it.


that’s the thing i’ve been thinking about this week as everything seems to feel heavier & heavier in my heart and soul. in a way that perhaps i have never known before, i know tonight as i write this, from deep within, that this heaviness, this pain, this suffering ends with transformation.

the power of easter is that from death comes life. from darkness comes light. from pain & suffering we are transformed. we grow. we change. and that, my friends, is good news. it’s great news. the suffering is gonna exist. but, we can let it change & transform us unto better versions of ourselves. or we can become victims. stuck in a cycle of pain & disappointment, never really experiencing the joy of being alive. through the transformation, we become better at being who we are. i become a better me. you become a better you. but, we can’t run away from the dark times. the dark times, the burning fire, the time spent stuck and trapped, transforms us and our lives. and soon, we realize that we feel more alive than we ever thought possible.

yes, this week has been hell. but, without it, i would not know the joy of life. i would not be reminded, once again, that life is precious. that i must say & do the things that i want to say & do before i lose the chance. that disappointment makes me stronger. that struggles inspire & challenge me. that the pain of this week will make me a better person. i may not know how, i may not understand everything now, but one day it will all make sense. you see, without confronting and embracing death & suffering,  i cannot be transformed into a person who understands the fleeting nature of life is so that i can truly be alive.

so, dear ones, i say this to you, but mostly to me: keep holding on.

death is coming for now; but life, a life that is inspiring and amazing and whole, is coming after. you & i were made for this. we were made to live life to the fullest. we are more than strong enough to face death and pain and suffering head on, and to dance through life anyway. we were made to be exactly who we are, and to use our lives for good.

skull and flowers

peace and love. even in the darkness.

jesus, the supreme court, & me.

i’m a woman married to a woman.

i’m an ex-pat american living in sweden, but moving back to the states in a few months.

i’m also an unordained, master’s of divinity degree holding, minister in the united methodist church.

and this is big week in my world.

and all of these factors will be contributing to what i write here.


first of all, it’s holy week. the week before easter. a week i have generally loved and anticipated, even with all of it’s talk of death and betrayal. i think it’s a week that has always given me perspective and hope. a reminder that life sucks. that bad things happen. that suffering is real. that even the most holy of holy people endure pain and injustices. that death is bearing down on us all, all the time. but, that, ultimately, life overcomes death. we are never meant to separated from that which makes us who we are meant to be… whole, soul-filled, images of beauty. lovers of life & each other. it’s just that the journey toward transformation and freedom is a long one. but, we are meant to live abundant lives, here on earth. not just in some amazing afterlife. but, right now. we are meant to soak up life, make a difference where we are, and receive & spread everlasting love every day of our life. i truly believe all of that. from deep within my soul, from my rational mind, and from my experiences. and i believe it for all of us, no matter what religion we are or are not.

so, this week, christians walk that lonely, difficult road to the cross that looms over us on friday. that reminder of what sufferings and injustices we are capable of inflicting on others. and what suffering and injustices we might face if we find the courage to speak up in order help prevent others from suffering injustices of their own. yes, this week we come face to face with death. and yet, for me, i am reminded of what it means to truly be human, to be part of this world. the cross is not some salvation tool for me. instead, it is a reminder of the shame of a human race that embraces power, war, and glory, instead of equality, justice, and love. and it is a symbol of the pain that is also possible if we seek to live lives that could be considered counter-culture and radical. it is a symbol of the calling that each of us have, no matter again which religion we are or are not, to work for justice and peace.

which leads me to the second important thing about this week:


the supreme court (the highest court in the usa) will hear arguments today & wednesday in a challenge to a provision of the defense of marriage act (DOMA) – the federal law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. it’s also reviewing california’s proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage.

DOMA is the federal (national) law that states that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. not only does it prevent same-sex unions in any form, but if there is a same-sex marriage/union from another country, it is not recognized. so, this law effectively makes it impossible for lina to ever move to the states on the grounds of our legal marriage. because our marriage is not legal according to the us government. it doesn’t matter if we were to move to a state, such as new york, that recognizes our marriage. we can’t get to the state because we have to get past DOMA first, which prevents same-sex international relationships from being recognized = lina can not get a green card.

DOMA also prevents ALL same-sex couples from receiving benefits if one of the partner’s dies, even if they are both american & legally married in a same-sex state. there is so much more that DOMA prevents, but i’m not gonna go into it all here.

bottom line: DOMA is being brought to the supreme court in order to try to get it declared an unconstitutional law. it is a law that leads to inequalities in the united states, and that goes against the us constitution, which clearly states that all people are created equally and have the rights to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness. DOMA = inequality based on who one loves. and that is not an american belief. or so the courts will seek to try to determine.

basically, if DOMA is ruled unconstitutional and thrown out, then it means equality under the law for all lgbts out there… national & international couples. in other words, it would be a huge deal in my life. and the lives of thousands of others. H U G E. like civil rights, desegregation huge, in my opinion.

image from hrc.

image from hrc.

and i have a reason to be hopeful in what verdict they reach.

you see, lately it seems that “coming out” is the cool thing to do. everyone’s doing it. if it’s not people coming out as lgbt themselves, it is straight people “coming out” in support of their lgbt friends, co-workers, and family members. and more legislation is passing that is focusing on equality & justice.

1. a republican senator, rob portman, issued a public statement IN FAVOR of marriage equality about a week ago. his son is gay, which helped to sway his understanding and acceptance and call for marriage equality in the states. and yes, i did say that this was a conservative, republican who is saying YES to marriage equality.

2. hillary clinton, we all know who she is, posted a freaking kick ass video on human rights campaign’s website last week, which has now gone viral, in complete support of marriage equality. BOOM. take that people. no playing around with her. she just flat out said it. this is what she believe sand she’s sticking by it. have i told you i love hillary?

3. just a few days ago, buncombe county (ASHEVILLE!!), where lina and i will be living, passed domestic partner benefits. what that means is that, even if north carolina voted against marriage equality last year, the people of asheville (and their government elected officials) voted for the equal benefits for same-sex partners that opposite partners receive = medical benefits, hospital visits, and other basic family rights. makes me feel so proud and even more excited to move back to this progressive, diverse city.

4. last week, also in north carolina, a united methodist minister and his congregation decided to not hold any marriages at their church until ALL people have the right to be married. the minister at this church, green st. umc, just happens to be my former youth minister. yep.

5. finally, today, i read an article about another government official, senator claire mccaskill, who has changed her mind on marriage equality:

The question of marriage equality is a great American debate. Many people, some with strong religious faith, believe that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. Other people, many of whom also have strong religious faith, believe that our country should not limit the commitment of marriage to some, but rather all Americans, gay and straight should be allowed to fully participate in the most basic of family values.

I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.

My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.

Good people disagree with me. On the other hand, my children have a hard time understanding why this is even controversial. I think history will agree with my children.

yes, my dear readers, i have hope. big hope. i’m not sure that the supreme court will do exactly what i want them to do this time, but it’s all on it’s way. marriage equality is a done deal. the question is… when?


now, being the person that i am, i need to tie all of these these together neatly in a little theological, practical, life-related package before i can let it go.

when i think about the fact that this major justice issue of equality is going before the supreme court this week, holy week, i am certain that there is a reason for that. not that it’s preordained and predestined or something, but that there are connections, that the timing is right, that there are signs pointing us which way to go, how to move forward, how to create a better world.

you see, during this week, thousands of year ago, jesus rode into jerusalem on the back of a donkey. he entered through crowds of people, shouting & screaming his name and shouting “hosannah!”. the people had hope. they wanted this man to save them. to make things right. to ease their suffering and to bring justice to their world. and that’s exactly what jesus was going to do… just not in the way they expected.

jesus had a message of justice, love, equality, & fairness. but, it was not a message well-received. he challenged the status quo. he got pissed off at how people were trying to look so religious, speak such religious words and do religious things, but did not live their beliefs from their hearts. their lives were not reflections of the things they say they believed. they were corrupt. power hungry. full of judgment. and stuck in a set of rules that was not necessary.

jesus called them on it. he turned over tables. he got angry. and he showed fierce, unconditional love. he hung out with the outcasts, bringing people to him, speaking of grace and love, and showing it to everyone who met him. the people spoke of rules, of should’s and shouldn’ts. they claimed to know what was right and what was wrong. they treated people according to how they measured up to their rules and religious rites. they excluded people. considered people sick, untouchable, unworthy. they only wanted to secure their own salvation. they were cowards. close-minded. greedy. self-righteous. judgmental.

but, jesus spoke of relationships. jesus turned no one away. he spoke of a kingdom filled with equality, freedom, acceptance, love. he denounced power, strength, greatness, and status as the people saw it. and that rocked their boat. they got scared. they couldn’t deal with the change.

his idea of love over power was a threat. so they killed him.


flash foward to today. where exactly would jesus, the life-giver, the lover, the accepter stand on this issue of equality? where or when would he ever condone excluding people based on who they loved? when would he chose to keep a group of people separate from others? remember, he called the lepers and the children and the women to him. and how much are we like the people of jesus’ time, refusing to open our minds because we are scared?

yeah. this is a huge week for me.

i’ve got holy week thoughts running through my mind. my wife’s granddad’s funeral is wednesday. i am constantly thinking and preparing for our move to the states. the supreme court will be discussing something that directly affects me. the church where i have prepared myself to be a minister still rejects me based on my marriage, which is also not even recognized in my home country right now. where will i work? what will i do? what will happen this week?

and yet, i have hope. i know the road is long and paved with suffering. i know that i have a voice and that i must use it. i know that i will have to sacrifice something, as i already have, in order to simply be who i am.

but i know that things are changing. that who you love is not grounds for exclusion & discrimination any more. and i know that, in the end, all that remains is love.

in the end, darkness and injustice and power and greed and discrimination and war and violence and hate will be destroyed.

in the end, love comes out on top.

summer 2012

peace, love, & understanding.

*all images (except the last) from pinterest.