My writing

THE MECHANICS OF PRAYER: The Worst Prayer

She sat there at the table.  One hand covering a part of the other. Her sweetness so profound it creates its own kind of beauty. I want you to pray for a member of my family. I scrabble for my pen and the piece of paper I use in that setting to list those who will go on my general intercessory prayer list. I write the name down. Then, while she is still talking about this prayer of ours, just assigned, she straightens her spine.  And becomes The Brave Girl. Now we know that nothing can be done for him. I stand and watch her until she is finished, then go on with my day. Later, when I get home, I get out my intercessory prayer “notebook.” It’s this large, hard notebook that has massive rings.  When my daughter went to [...]

SOUL STRUCTURE: Islam, ISIS, And The Confusion That Lies Therein

This is not going to go well. That’s my prediction anyway. But I hereby restate my primary assertion about spiritual warfare: If you don’t know what you are dealing with, you don’t know how to address the problem. It’s as simple as that. A doctor is going to be much more effective with his patient if he already knows both what the disease is and what the best methods are to treat it. Otherwise he is swinging about in the dark. Which pretty much sums my opinion of most writing about spiritual warfare. In my humble opinion. Well, maybe not so humble. So let’s begin. I began studying the Muslim soul structure around about the time that Princess Diana died.  I remember this because I found the soul-structure [...]

SACRIFICE: Moses — Painting By Numbers

Lent is all about taking steps.  One after the other. Lent is only about taking steps. He leads.  We follow. Until we come to the edge.  Then he falls.  And we stay right where we are. And at that moment it is not just our souls and our hearts that are plunged into darkness. Not just our altars and our churches. But it is the world, even the universe that no longer has his light to see by. I write these posts because I am tired of living a life of clenching my fists hard and biting my lip whenever I hear someone say that Jesus Died For Me with the same kind of enthusiasm he might use if he just won a car on a game show. Gosh!  Isn’t it great!  Look at what he did for me! No. Just, no. Like Noah’s raven, Jesus was sent to [...]

SACRIFICE: The Burden Abraham Bore

The title may have the name, Abraham, in it, but this ultimately is about Jesus Christ.  And the characteristics that make up the concept of his sacrifice when he went to his death. People claim, too loudly sometimes, that Jesus died FOR US!  Without any real explanation of how that dying-for-us concept really works. The first part of this series focused on Jesus’s plea for mercy for those who accused him falsely.  By doing this two things happened: (1) Jesus came down off the cross, turned and faced God, and plead for us to be forgiven.  To do this, Jesus used his authority as the son of God to intercede for us.  To be honest, though, God is the one who can choose to forgive us or not.  Mercy is a choice that the one in [...]

SACRIFICE: The Raven’s Fate

And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole Earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the [...]

FORGIVENESS: The Nine Lepers

The wounding and healing of a person is an interesting process. The truth about the priest on whom I am focusing my forgiveness process – a stand-in for the line of priests in my life who have shunned me – is that what he did to me, at that time, bothered me no more than a mosquito bite.  Because the rest of my life was complete chaos. That day, and for so many thereafter, I didn’t have the time, the energy, or the interest to even think about what that priest said. Or did. So the pain was efficiently stored away. It was a shock to me, then, when God said at the beginning of this last Advent, It’s time to heal your priest-wounds. My first reaction was, What priest-wounds? And then, there they were. Spread out, like [...]

FORGIVENESS: Humility, or The Tale of the Two Shawls

I have been studying what I thought was a “new” form of evil.  New to me, that is. Turns out, though, I studied it for years when I was half my age. Because it was only a study back then, and because the study was very intense, it left some terror in my soul. I’m very efficient about my emotions: if I don’t need them right here, right now for whatever it is I am doing, then they get stowed away. This terror had been stowed away – very much out of sight, out of mind – until the door was flung open and there it was. And here this study is again now. But what I realized was that when I had studied this particular form of evil, I had never come up with the understanding of what kind of spiritual weapon would be [...]

JESUS: In That Moment Right Before

I would say that, most of the time, when I hear scripture read, or read it for myself, it feels like the wind to me.  Something blowing by me.  I recognize the elements that are in the wind, but it is something that is beyond me in terms of capturing it.  Or even being part of it. From time-to-time, some of it makes me wrench my neck around in an attempt to seize it.  Some combination of words that are just that tantalizing as to make me want to scrutinize them. Then there are those astounding times when I hear or read words that I have received in a vision.  Sometimes the words are exactly the same.  And a cathedral-sized bell rings inside me.  It is a confirmation of accuracy.  I know that my vision was from God.  Those are, as [...]

TALES FROM BEYOND THE HORIZON: A Child In The Light And Shadow Of God

I like straight corners. If I am standing at the counter of a bank, I stand there straightening the piles of various forms. I wonder if people wonder at what I am doing. But I do it nonetheless. And the other day I found myself wanting to straighten the corners of my spirituality.  Specifically my relationship with the rest of the world that I live in. This is because I go through life feeling like I run into skewed corners all the time, all over the place, but do nothing about it. One place it shows up is around the phrase, When I came to Jesus.  It’s like a club of people.  And when that phrase is uttered, they grin at each other. Like new mothers who have discovered that they will not kill their first child from neglect.  I [...]

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: A Rant

I am angry.  Very angry. Well, at least I was. I came to a boil when I read the words that generally said in an article on deliverance that fighting Satan is no harder than taking out the garbage. That it’s merely something you might not want to do, but it’s your responsibility, so go for it. Oh, and there’s nothing to be afraid of.  Because you know, Jesus something or other. The man who was nailed to a cross to bleed to death because of evil has your back. You know. So forget about it. On the evening of the day that I read this – I won’t stoop to calling it nonsense – I heard the same statement made in a lecture. It must be in the air. Nothing frightening about Satan.  Oh, no.  He’s a peach.  A [...]

TALES FROM BEYOND THE HORIZON: Tell Lazarus, Arise

It was a time of flight. I used to define flight as a time when I had one foot in the seen world and the other in the unseen world. But recalling this time I think that it would be better defined as having both feet in the unseen world, while still being in this world. This flight was most profound.  So much so, that for the two years that it went on, I never needed my reading glasses to see. I thought, at the time, that this was an indication that I had received a healing to my eyes. But, no.  Over the years that followed the flight, my eyes gradually went back to being “normal.” My first miracle was when I touched the hand of a woman born deaf, and she was healed. And now I was beginning work on my second. When it was time, [...]

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Critical Conditions

I had the grace a few weeks ago of being introduced to an agency that works to save slaves around the world.  That’s not the only work that this agency does.  They help women whose families try to seize their land after the death of their husbands.  They stop sex traffickers. And after they save the people from violence, they provide them with safe houses where they can heal from all their wounds. So faced with being asked to pray for the International Justice Mission, I looked at my schedule, scratched my head, and wondered where I would “fit” them in.  And I saw that I could rearrange my noon prayers to make room.  Normally, I would read the noonday prayers, supplemented with a little “outside” reading, [...]

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: The Need For Clean

Or Orthodoxy. In the church. This is a true story.  That I watched happened.  Up-close and personal, as they say. It’s the story of a church that was beset. The head of this church thought what was besetting it was church warfare. But it wasn’t. Because this particular church was actually at war with itself. And it lost the battle.  With itself. Let me explain. For every person who has ever walked this Earth, there is a soul.  A distinct soul.  A soul with its own song.  Its own point-of-view.  Its own way of seeing God.  Or not seeing God. Now souls of a certain kind tend to flock together.  It’s why there are different religions. Each are always much, much better than the others. Period. This is the only area [...]

HUMANITY: A Plain Jesus

From the time we can toddle around on our own we are taught that Jesus is two things: he is God, and he is man. Sometimes, because of the way he died, we are profoundly confused about just how and why he is God.  If he’s God, why can’t he just wave his finger and make his nightmare go away? But the whole, we’re going to hunt you down and kill you, aspect of his life will have to wait to be explored. Instead, I want to look at the phenomena that is Jesus, the man. Alexander Pope once wrote, To err is human.  To forgive is divine. Just with that little idiom we can see that perhaps understanding Jesus as God isn’t that impossible after all. He forgave us. He forgave us our sins. While nailed to a cross. Well, [...]

CANA: Chain Of Command

It is the story from the Bible for which I have the strongest reaction. The kind of story that makes me look around in church and wonder why people are nodding their heads at it. This story, the story of the Wedding at Cana, makes me want to crawl under the pew, or just get up and walk out. But it wasn’t until last Sunday when I heard a priest speaking from the pulpit and, having once been in the military, spoke about his subject at hand from the reference point of a chain-of-command, that things began to fall into place for me. He also spoke of orders that come from outside the chain of command. This week, as I mulled this whole story over, along with my lifelong reaction to it, I began to break it down into parts. And, oh how many [...]

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Lucifer — Soulless Evil

I’ve always thought of myself as the weirdest person on Earth. One of the reasons for that is how, when I began the study of evil from its soul-structure point-of-view, one of the first things I wondered was, If evil has to do with the soul, and Lucifer doesn’t have a soul because he’s an angel, is he really evil?  And if he is, what kind of evil is it? This question has been like a slowly drip of water at the very back of my brain ever since. In fact, whenever faced with another lesson on evil, I wondered where Lucifer was. Reading about Lucifer never helped me. Pride. Fall. Battle. Hell. Is one who battles God by definition evil? Isn’t evil something that affects human on Earth? If evil is only in the realm of [...]

HEALING: Singing The Soul

The world says that I am wrong about this. But I know I’m not. In the world of Earth there are people without souls. It’s not that impossible. There are people without legs. People without eyes. I even heard of a baby born without a brain. And there are people without anger. Or emotion altogether. So it is not, if you think about it, impossible that there are people without souls. But the world, in general, is very protective about this concept. Everyone must have one, because everyone, inherently, is good.  And in order to be good, you have to have a soul. Ergo. But not everyone has a soul. Not everyone is inherently good. Because if you don’t have a soul, you have little ability to be good. The soul is your path in [...]

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: When Prayers Harm

It wasn’t anything I ever expected to find in my visions. It started out fairly normally.  I kept being shown that there was a great concern in the world.  A lot of people had the same prayer on their hearts. So I looked into it. I found someone who was passionate for this matter. And had written a number of prayers and posted them online. Probably I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help it.  I read the prayers and was horrified. So, being a former editor, I ripped them apart and sent the author my insights. Why pray for understanding when what is needed is food and shelter?  You see, I can almost claim the world’s championship trophy in understanding. But all the understanding in the world doesn’t do squat [...]

GOD 101: The Last Lesson

I was a young woman when the serious lessons began.  After my time of Rumspringa – or in my case, running away from God. Not long after I was hunted down and recaptured. Well, it wasn’t that dramatic.  But it adds a nice flourish to the story, don’t you think? It didn’t take me long to realize that the lessons weren’t like lessons in school: lessons I could apply myself to and learn easily and with a little time and effort. We’ll leave geometry out of the above equation. But, in spite of needing infinite time, patience, and the willingness to actually apply myself to these lessons, they just kept coming. The Lesson of Silence…. The Meaning of Patience…. The Lesson of Six…. The [...]

SILENCE: Tonic For Intolerance

I am intolerant. I could very easily stand up before a crowd of like-minded people and say, Hello.  My name is Julia.  And I am intolerant. The funny thing is that for most people I am not intolerant. Quite the opposite. But there are a few people for which I seem to have no control over my complete lack of patience and understanding. The list of these people isn’t that long, really.  It’s a little longer than this, but these are the shining stars in my fury: My mother. My former spouse. My own daughter. It has taken me all these years to just breathe out and admit to this last sin. But I have had to just admit to myself that my daughter is, very sadly, in some critical ways, her father’s daughter. The raging [...]

HEALING: The Sword Of Christ

Pretty much all my life I have had visions of The Sword. The Sword of God. In fact, I have designed a new “logo” for Christianity: the Cross of Jesus, standing upright, next to The Sword, with its hilt on the ground next to the Cross and its blade crossing through one of the arms of Christ’s Cross. It forms a square, which is an unusual way for my mind to work.  But it also is a closed system: the Cross of Jesus, the Sword of the Spirit. Perhaps the square that the crossing creates is God, the Father. Or perhaps God, the Father, is everything else in the world. Through my life, the visions about the sword have changed. There are simple ones, like having the sword fall into my outstretched hands.  Which is usually the [...]

HOLY TRINITY: The Tree Of God

Psalm One has a tree in it.  It is the metaphor for the righteous man.  Strong.  Noble.  Fruitful. His counterpart, the bad man, does not rise to the status of a tree.  He is merely refuse.  His life amounts to nothing more than waiting to be raked up and disposed of. Tree and trash.  Good and bad. In Eden there are many, many trees.  Probably an infinite number.  Growing hither and yon, without any real nod to morality or virtue. Except for the two “star” trees, planted right there, for everyone to see and eat from. Well, right, everyone is really only Adam and his walking-rib mate. But still.  There’s a balance here. Two people. Two trees. The Tree of Life.  No doubt the one with the more street cred than the [...]

EDEN: God The Mosquito

The other day I was reminded of one of my first direct questions to God as a child.  There I was sitting in the field, back to the tree, sky and clouds above me. My sanctuary. And God had been going on for years about how everything in the universe is an expression of him.  Everything.  It was an interesting study.  I wondered why some churches use wine in their rites and other churches believed that all drinking was bad for you.  Why the difference? Well, he said…. Then one day I kind of had had enough of it.  All things can’t be of God, I thought. It’s impossible. (Striking how young I was to begin to confront and contradict what God was telling me.  Oh, well.  It just foreshadowed a lifetime of being wrong.) [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Earth, Wind, And Fire

The Indwelling Presence And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green Earth; of all the mighty world. (William Wordsworth) We ache to understand our lives.  But where we look for the information we need is in the things around us.  Even in the people we associate with. And, when it is quiet, we want [...]

HUMANITY: Shaping God On Earth

We walk around on Earth, bumping into each other and claiming to understand nothing about why we are here or what we are supposed to be doing here. Sometimes we grab onto something, a thought we convince ourselves is a belief in something or an enthusiasm that flashes its appeal at us, and we carry it with us as though it has real meaning. In a way, Christians have it the hardest. We have a book put in our hands and are told, Here, read this. This will tell you everything you need to know to live a holy life. No one actually tells us what is a holy life.  We get a lot on what is not a holy life.  But very little on the is-ness of God on Earth. And so we read the Bible and pretend to “get it.”  We nod our heads at one [...]

HEALING: Skin Deep

All my life I have known that one of my greatest weaknesses – a downright stupidity, in fact – is the way I viewed my body. At most, even as a child, I saw my body as existing solely to house my brain.  It is here so I can think. That’s it. A body might receive a prayer of healing from time-to-time.  It may get the attention it screams for, but only because it is screaming. Because I have given birth, I do know that giving a body rest is essential for all to be well.  But only enough rest to get to the point when getting up and running around again is enabled. I have become something of a professional at being seriously ill.  With being faced with death.  And taking the moments required to straighten it all out. So I [...]

FORGIVENESS: Surviving The Quicksand Of The Soul

It is no wonder that people are so confounded by forgiveness. It is either treated so lightly that it is given like a blessing to someone after they sneeze. Or the challenge of 70 times seven feels too great a summit to reach. But I have discovered something recently. When we forgive, we forgive an act. You (name act)ed me. I understand why you (name act)ed me. I have come to terms with why you (name act)ed me. I forgive you for (the act). So why is it so hard to let go?  Why do shades of the act come back and haunt us? Does forgiving an act have to be done in layers? What are we missing? What we are missing is what is under the act.  The violation. Kathleen Norris, in her book, describes at great length the idea of acedia.  She calls [...]

FORGIVENESS: Lent 2016 — Tasting The Blood

Knowing God’s heart means consistently, radically, and very concretely to announce and reveal that God is love and only love, and that every time fear, isolation, or despair begins to invade the human soul, this is not something that comes from God. (Henri J. M. Nouwen / In The Name of Jesus) I am here at my 30th day of Lent. Thirty out of 40. Or 47, depending how long you make your Lenten disciplines. Plunging around in my imagination to find blessings from people I’ve only always associated with a grunt and a shrug is like having to go to the dentist every day and having a root canal. Being scraped and scraped and scraped.  Down to the nerve.  And then scraping the nerve. And, then, every day after the procedure, having [...]

FORGIVENESS: Lent 2016 — God, the Rumpelstiltskin

Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, Whose mouth speaks lying words, And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood— That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; That our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style; That our barns may be full, Supplying all kinds of produce; That our sheep may bring forth thousands And ten thousands in our fields; That our oxen may be well laden; That there be no breaking in or going out; That there be no outcry in our streets. Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord! (Psalm 144:11-15) I never expected this from God, to be honest. And I’m not sure there would be many who would either.  Unless they [...]

FORGIVENESS: Lent 2016 — Playing The Hand The Fool Dealt

There is a saying, Only a fool plays the hand he’s dealt. But sometimes, I’ve found, it is The Fool, himself, who deals the hand. I have learned a lot about forgiveness this week. A whole lot. One thing I have learned is that we all lie to ourselves about the nature of forgiveness. We want it to be all about resolution. About peace-making. About love. But what it is really about – what it is about when we are alone with ourselves in the darkness – is justice. We want justice for the pain. For the inconvenience. For the disruption to our lives that the injury caused. And we use forgiveness as payback. I know this now because what I saw before me this week, working hard to find something to be grateful for for some people [...]