September 2008


I find myself in the exciting, yet precarious position of having everything I ever wanted…except for money. I have a fantastic marriage to a talented artist and musician who is, hands down, my best friend.  I have three healthy and mostly happy children who, at ages 19, 18 and 10, are constantly growing and changing and becoming the people that they are meant to be.  I live in a 100 year-old home that is ripe with the kind of character that comes from slightly crooked ceilings, original moldings and recently repaired plaster walls. I am an adjunct professor at a welcoming University and a writer whose work is slowly but surely finding an audience.  I play the bass in my husband’s Spanish rock band and I have good friends who are interesting and creative.  

All in all, in the midst of historic economic uncertainty, I am living just the kind of relaxed, avant-garde lifestyle I’d aspired to when I was an idealistic kid.  Back before I abandoned these dreams to go out and make some money, 

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against money.  And, when I was a single mother with two kids, I needed money to pay the rent, put food on the table and build a life for my fractured little family.  

So I did. 

And, as one job led to another, I went from living paycheck-to-paycheck to actually having a little more than I needed to keep my head above water.  Things got even better when I met and married my husband Martin. A Uruguayan immigrant who’d shelved his own artistic aspirations in exchange for a body-crushing but lucrative job in the construction industry, he went from working full-time making $10 a day at age 15 to building a profitable small business.

As our careers took off and our coffers filled, our quest for the American Dream began to take shape.  Sure, we noticed that there was less and less time to do the things we loved, but we thought that was just the price of growing up and getting ahead. 

I can’t pinpoint the moment when we crossed the line from working-to-live to living-to-work—or when accumulating things took priority over having time to relax or create or spend unencumbered time with our kids.  But cross that line we did. 

The houses got bigger, the investments more substantial and our dreams of a simple, creative life became a distant memory. We worked all the time and were dead tired when we were off.  But somehow it seemed like working ourselves into the ground was a fair exchange for the security, prestige and stuff that came with having a healthy disposable income. 

The money that had once served our needs had somehow become our master. 

So, about five years ago, we made a change.  Stepping out in faith, we took some bold steps, left our careers and began to pursue our passions.  As a result, we have more time, more peace and a lot less money.  We haven’t taken a vow of poverty. We’re actually quite hopeful that our new endeavors will bear monetary fruit one of these days.  But if they do, I believe we’ll handle it far, far differently. 

Repost from Sept 13, 2008.  Happy New Year all…

I don’t think I am remotely cool enough to roll with the new Christians. I’m forty-two and I sometimes watch mindless television. I wear pointy high heels and makeup and I don’t drink beer.

Of course, I used to be cool enough. Back when I sat on the roof of my apartment smoking cigarettes, reading A Clockwork Orange and looking down my nose at the people who didn’t get it. Back when I didn’t wear shoes or makeup but I did drink beer…and rye whiskey, which I preferred.

When I was cool God was in the poetry of the Bhagavad Gita or captured in a rose quartz crystal or dancing next to me at a Grateful Dead show. God was in a kiss or on a breeze or buried in the deep recesses of my mind when I’d created the perfect chemical storm.

And then, once I’d applied my considerable intellect and more considerable arrogance to the question, God was nowhere. I stopped searching and I was alone.

Fast forward a couple of years, a couple of kids and a couple of drinks and God became a “power greater than myself.” And, armed with a hint of humility I began to change.

Jesus had not called me yet—but I think he was watching.

When he came it was unannounced and uninvited. There was no frenzied altar call or sinner’s prayer. There was no hip pastor or tail-kicking band. No French roast coffee or modern art. There were no candles and no incense. No Power Point presentation or fill-in-the-blank bible study. It wasn’t even a particularly welcoming environment.

No, my Damascus Road was not modern or post-modern or denominational. It was God doing what God does wherever and whenever God wants to do it. Once I assured myself that the pain in my chest, inability to breathe and nausea was reverential fear and not a heart attack, I somehow knew that I believed something and that I would never be the same.

Of course I knew nothing of Christianity or Jesus or the Bible at the time. I thought I did, having debated the atheist party line for years. But, in the true spirit of Amazing Grace, I went from blindness to sight in a moment and was compelled to learn.

This story could go on for pages—and it eventually will—but I need to get back to my original premise, why I am not cool enough to be a new Christian.

It has been a little more than five years since I came to believe. In that time I have had some of the most wonderful and some of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I have learned from everyone—the whole mismatched Christian family—including televangelists, silver-haired, hymn-lovers, Southern Baptists, emergents, people who used to believe and Mike Seaver from Growing Pains.

While I might not share their style, or their politics or their history or their views on what it means to be a Christian (or a follower of Christ), each and every conversation, sermon or rant is a gift from God. These folks— like it or not—are my new family. And I am learning to love this new family; every quirky one of them. Even when I don’t really like what they say or how they act or what they claim to believe.

This unconditionally loving approach to life is brand new for me and it makes little sense. It is often uncomfortable and always counter intuitive. Sometimes I fail miserably. But sometimes I don’t. And when I don’t I have come to believe it is a gift from God.

Because, back when I was cool, I loved conditionally, starting with myself and extending to a small group of people who also read A Clockwork Orange and smoked cigarettes and drank beer…or rye whiskey…and looked down their nose at people who just don’t get it.

Thankfully, I’m just not that cool anymore.