getting married? need someone to do the ceremony? ask me!!

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over the past year i have had various people ask me if i could marry them = be the officiant at their wedding. actually, i’ve had that question asked of me previous years as well, it’s just that in the past 12 months there have been quite a few people, one right after another, who have wanted me to perform their ceremony.

of course, i’ve always had to decline.

in case you don’t know, here is why (i think!) i have been asked by friends and family if i could marry them:

  • i have worked in a church setting for a total of 10 years, so i have experience
  • i have been to seminary and received a master’s of divinity degree, so i have a theological education
  • people often want a friend or family member to perform their ceremony, making it more personal
  • people know that my faith/spirituality covers a vast ground (it is not limited to one religion/faith), so i can make a secular ceremony feel sacred – which it is

now, here is why i have said to say no:

  • i am a woman married to a woman
  • the denomination (united methodist/christian) which i was a member of would not ordain me since i was married to a woman
  • so, i am not ordained
  • therefore, i cannot legally perform wedding ceremonies – civil or religious

my ordination did not happen about 4 years ago, and throughout that time i have had a lot of time to process what that has meant to my life. i have been angry. i have been hurt. i have ignored it. i have put it away in a separate box. i have closed that chapter of my life.

and yet, it always keeps popping up. so, people have suggested that i transfer my membership to another denomination that will ordain all people – regardless of who they love ( = ordain gays + lesbians). i have tried to talk myself into that. but, it just hasn’t felt right. so, i have just stayed away from it all lately. i am just tired of it.

to make things even more confusing, when i lived in sweden, i worked at a church (baptist and methodist… there is a new denomination in sweden that has recently been created from 3 common denominations). anyway, while working there, i had all of the rights and privileges as a pastor/minister. i did not perform any marriages or funerals (though i have done funerals in the past). but, the congregation voted/agreed that, given my education and experience, i had the authority and was set apart to serve in a pastor’s role, administer the lord’s supper/communion, doing baptism, preaching, counseling, and anything else that came up in the life of a church.

basically, i did not need any formal ordination from an institution in order to serve people. the people agreed and asked me to serve.

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lina and me on our wedding day. 26 december 2009

so, from the experience in sweden of not needing a formal ordination and still serving others, to the invitations i have received to perform the marriages of friends or family, i began toying with an idea that i had never thought seriously of before. truthfully, i did not agree with it until i was discriminated against myself and found myself looking for ways to be ordained. i realized that i was stuck – believing that i had to be ordained in the united methodist church. but, that was silly. because, in reality, i was already doing everything. i did it from my heart, with integrity. no, i began to understand that i did not need a mainstream institution to ordain me – god/the universal spirit had already done that.

this is a change from my beliefs a while back. and i realize i sound like a crazy person that just wakes up one days and decides to “ordain” him or herself, and then proceeds to go crazy with the congregation that he/she leads – teaching them to follow his/her beliefs.

but i’m not that person. i don’t ever want to be that person. never. ever. in fact, i’m here, not to tell others what to believe, but to simply be a companion or a guide on each person’s own journey – faith or no faith. i listen. i ask questions. i challenge. i support. but, i decide nothing.

so, with this sense of freedom to do my spiritual work with people on a personal basis, i began to wonder if i should be ordained online. you know, click some keys, fill in some info, and get the approval to legally perform marriages. no sooner had i had this thought that i immediately put it out of my head. it was preposterous.**

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a photo from a wedding i photographed two weeks ago.

then, one more couple asked me if i could marry them. and they were dead serious. they had no one else to really ask, and they knew my background. they wanted a secular wedding, and yet, they still wanted someone with some theological knowledge and experience. they kept talking to me… really wanting me, telling me how it would just work because i would “get them” and be able to plan the ceremony that they want.

before i knew it, i was telling them that i would marry them in december – and that i’d get ordained online as soon as possible. and this all happened at my (and lina’s) birthday party.

fast forward to last week, and they started texting me, asking when i could get it done. they want to set up a time to begin to plan asap.

so, yesterday, i just clicked around on the internet looking for different online ordination sites. i’ve looked before, many, many times. trying to understand and find something that might fit with my beliefs and yet, help me keep my integrity in tact. soon, i found a site that explained alot of the legal stuff, state by state. it was organized very well, and it’s tenets/beliefs lined right up with mine: marriage is for all, regardless of faith (or no faith) being the most important one.

i filled out a form for information (or so i thought) and clicked “submit”. soon after, i received an email saying that i had been added as an ordained minister, that i had  a clergy number (to write on legal documents), and that i could now perform marriages or anything else a person/my congregation asked of me.

what i am trying to say here, is this: i can now legally perform marriages, friends. so… ask away! i’d be so completely honored to celebrate your love with you.


does this feel weird? yes. i worked my ass off for years to be ordained within the united methodist church, but i was rejected because of my own marriage to a woman. and, after so many years of… well, torment and pain, i clicked a few buttons and filled in a few forms, and poof! i can marry people.

but, while it feels very weird, i accept that this has been my journey. and this makes sense to my life right now. i have been asked to serve in capacities that i could not serve in because i refused to leave my united method ordination behind. but, i realize now that, in order to move forward, i had to let go of the past. i had to stop standing in limbo, waiting for things to change. it was time to make shit happen.

but, i never would have realized that had i not been gently pushed by friends and family.

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one more big thing: marriage equality is coming to north carolina. soon it looks like 30 states will allow same sex marriages. right now, we are actually waiting to hear word that all people can marry in north carolina. and the word could come tomorrow!!!

so, with all of the marriage equality progress, my friends asking me to marry them at my birthday party last week, and my unintentional in the moment ordination online, i realize that the timing is right for all of this. the stars have lined up, and this is meant to be.

not only am i ready and legally approved to marry people now, but marriage equality may be coming to my home state – so my own marriage to lina will be a legal marriage in north carolina – finally!

whew. what a journey. what timing. what an amazing gift – to be able to celebrate love with people – religious or not, same sex or not. what a joy!

love + light xx

basically, i am available to do two things at your wedding: i can perform the ceremony or i can take your photographs (or we can work out a weird combination of the two!). so, get in touch with me!
** disclaimer: in no way do i see this “ordination online” as being comparable to ordination within a denomination. however, it fulfills a need and helps me answer my calling to serve others by celebrating the beauty of love and marriage with them at this point in my life. i do recognize it as part of my spiritual journey.

welcome back, dear autumn.

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tonight is special. it is the autumn equinox. or in other words, fall begins tonight in the northern hemisphere. and i just love fall. but, before i get all wrapped up in the coziness and beauty of autumn, i want to pause today to let the equinox energy do its thing.

what i’m talking about is the fact that with the autumn equinox, nature is in balance. from the beginning of summer until today, the days have been longer than the night. after today, the reverse is true. the nights become longer. and the season of darkness creeps in.

for tonight, however, the light and the dark are equal. everything is in balance.

and this can mean a lot to our lives symbolically, if we take pause. as it is the middle of the harvest season, it is a time for celebration of all of the gifts of life. it is a perfect time to take stock and reflect on what has happened so far in life. it is a perfect time to be aware of the abundance we have received this year, not only in food, but in everything that we have experienced. and it is a time to plan and prepare what is needed for the next season in our lives. we can spend some moments, if we choose, on this autumn equinox night putting our lives in balance – focusing on remembering all that we have been given and preparing to let the season of darkness and coziness inspire us to go even further than we have in the past. it’s a time to finish up our old projects and begin to plant seeds for new ones. it is a time to celebrate and balance our life.

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so, i decided to spend some time, on this absolutely gorgeous day in the north carolina mountains, by myself. thinking, reflecting, and enjoying nature.

i headed over to a bar that is kind of like a park. grabbed my camp chair out of my car, ordered a pint of beer, and went to sit by the river. i let the sun warm my face, the water and the trees inspire me, and the blue sky fill me with awe and gratitude. i did a few things i love: i took some photos, wrote a little in my journal, and meditated a bit. i only spent about 45 minutes there, but it was the perfect little break in my day – and the perfect opportunity to welcome this next season in the cycle of life.
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at home, i gathered some candles, got a pumpkin, and made a dinner from fresh, local veggies. i am in the midst of creating a cozy, warm space for the coming dark, chilly nights.

every time this season rolls around, i am always ready for it. i am ready for sweaters and boots and scarves. ready for deep blue skies and nights that nip at your nose. i can’t wait to slide on some fingerless gloves and wear beanie caps. i love lighting candles all over my home, and making chili + soup. and the leaves, of course the leaves on the trees in the mountains. it’s a breathtaking, beautiful, restful time of year.

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i hope that you will take some time over the next few days to let autumn (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere) sink into your bones. i hope that you will find some peace and quiet, and feel the balance of the earth as nature moves on, reminding us that our lives move on too. and it’s time, my friends, time to let the summer (or winter) go – time to begin to move indoors and begin to let the long, sometimes difficult, but always amazing season of autumn (spring) inspire us.

peace + love.

within

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i’ve got a little secret. or, it’s not so much that i have this secret that no one else has. it’s more like i have discovered something – but not for the first time. i am rediscovering it. or rediscovering it on a deeper level. that’s more what it is.

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you see, i just completed a 21 day meditation series. and by completed, i mean, i did every single day. no joke. i did not skip one day. i just committed and followed through. 21 days in a row.

and it was amazing.

the series was about happiness, our search for it and how we find it. i thought that it might be a bit cheesy, or i wondered how it would be possible to meditate on happiness for 3 weeks. but, i was so wrong. you see, the focus was not at all on happiness in the sense of some surface, emotional feeling. it was much deeper than that – think bliss. yes, bliss. and if you know me, or have read my blog over a long period of time, you know that bliss is one of my favorite words.

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so, it was a three week journey within that led me even deeper into bliss, peace, contentment, wisdom, and so much more. but, the main thing that i came away with was this deep sense of being – of connecting with my true self. of letting whatever vision, dream, thought, inspiration come to me during these mediations times as i simply listened to my soul. and i kept coming back to the knowledge – and i’m not talking cognitive knowledge – that everything lies within.

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what i mean, is that all we need, all we are, the ways that we are all connected, the spirit/light/love that flows through us, the entire universe, even, is within us. right now. exactly as we are. wherever we are. no matter what situations or circumstances we are facing. everything is there. in you and in me.

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what that means to our daily lives is monumental i believe. it means that we carry a rich treasure of love, peace, wisdom within us at every moment of every day. it means that our happiness most definitely does not lie anywhere but within us.all we need to do is just be. just relax into our being. breathe deeply. slow down. and listen.

for me, making that time a special time every single morning for the past 23 days (i have still done it even though the series is over) has been transformative.

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you see, i’m tired. and there are a lot of changes happening in my life and my family’s life right now – vague, i know. but i will explain in another post later on. anyway, i haven’t recovered from my amazing travels and visitors and everything incredible that took place this summer. lina and i have not found that regular life groove yet. and it’s wearing me down, along with the changes and such. i have had some moments when i just want to buy a plane ticket and get the hell out of dodge – like heading to some island to sit on my ass and drink fruity drinks for a week. but, that’s not realistic.

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at the same time, i have been meditating and sticking with it. and, though i have had those dreams of escape every now and then, i remember how grounded i feel at the same time. how connected i am to my self and my soul. meditation has really, really paid off. i stay balanced and focused and optimistic.

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how? because when i stop and listen to my soul, i know that my peace lies within. that all of the secrets of the universe, and the secret to happiness, is within me. calm and peace are mine for the taking. and, when i remind myself of that, when i let myself take that time to connect with the universe and all of the love in it and within me, then i just know that…

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
― Julian of Norwich

peace and love. xx

the photos are from my last day of the meditation series. i went to the biltmore estate and just let nature wrap her arms around me. it was amazing. and a dragonfly danced all around me the whole time (“Dragonflies symbolize the wisdom of transformation and adaptability in life. As spirit animal, the dragonfly is connected to the symbolism of change and light. When the dragonfly shows up in your life, it may remind you to bring a bit more lightness and joy into your life. Those who have this animal as totem may be inclined to delve deep into their emotions and shine their true colors.”) after i got home, i saw dragonflies three more times that day – a little animal i almost never see