“Ruined: a memoir”

Awarded a "2017 Book Award" by Christianity Today

I love the tagline on the Christianity Today Book Awards:

Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.

This book makes a great gift for anyone who has experienced trauma. Right now it’s available for under $10 at Amazon. Or visit Tyndale or any bookstore or online retailer.

For a limited time the Audio CD is just $11.99.

Also available at Audible.

Told with candor and unflinching honesty, RUINED is an extraordinary emotional and spiritual journey that begins with an unspeakable act of violence but ends with tremendous healing and profound spiritual insights about faith, forgiveness, and the will of God.

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My Recent Adventures in the Public Sphere

featuring the Washington Post & Breitbart

Almost a month has passed since my Op-Ed appeared in “Acts of Faith” at the Washington Post. The title chosen by the editors at WaPo was: “Our culture of purity celebrates the Virgin Mary. As a rape victim, that hurts me.”

The article was mocked in an article at Breitbart, written by Thomas Williams. Other conservative media picked up that article and wrote others. There were comments and messages vilifying me.

Two days ago the New York Times published an article about Thomas Williams. Sometimes truth delivers up a surprise twist that fiction cannot replicate.

I’ve written an account of my experience. It’s not polished, just a chronological setting-forth of what happened. I’m not ready to put it out into the public sphere, but am happy to be in touch with my readers. So if you sign up for my newsletter (in the sidebar) I’ll send it to you. I like having an email address, as well as a first and last name. One thing this debacle has taught me is to be a bit leery of anonymous correspondence.

Don’t hesitate to be in touch!

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Church Clutter

New Year, Clean Slate!

Clutter-free spaces communicate hospitality. The hotel industry understands this. Unfortunately, many churches don’t.

I’m on my way to a “Clean Up Day” at my church. I’m still quite new there — since Labor Day — and the church basement is in reasonably good shape. Still, it’s always good to sift through the flotsam and jetsam. Cleaning up is a good way to learn the church’s history, both formal and informal. I’ll take some “before” pictures of closets, although I expect it will be weeks before I have “after” pictures.

Meanwhile, I’ll repost an article I wrote a few years ago — to draw the connection between clutter and hospitality in church settings, and why I prioritize uncluttering.


The pulpit shelves hold several burned-out candle lighters — although everyone knows they are trash.

The library has Christian Education curriculum from 1973– which is considered “still good” because it was never used.

Somewhere in the balcony there’s a stack of “Christmas Joy” envelopes which might have been printed the year Jesus turned two.

When the office light bulbs burn out you ask the Administrative Assistant to run to the store, because who can find anything in that disaster of a supply closet?

The pastor’s office? Well, let’s just say that “paperless” doesn’t describe it.

It’s easy for church space to become cluttered. So many people share church space, and who’s in charge of keeping it clean? Unless your church is blessed with adequate custodial staff (which is a rarity), chances are that your physical space needs attention.

Clutter tells every person who enters: this space doesn’t really matter.

Clutter tells church volunteers: good luck finding what you need! It’s easier to just buy more.

Clutter tells the clergy: Hey there, take care of me! Hey there, I’m over here! Hey there, are you going to finish what you started? Hey . . .

Clutter speaks. It shouts and confuses and distracts. What is your church clutter saying?

Sometimes clergy think that we are like Jesus, too preoccupied with “things above” to worry about things on earth. Our precious energy goes to more important agendas: babies to welcome, grieving people to comfort, new neighbors to evangelize, pithy thoughts to tweet, bulletins to prepare. Who has time to worry about church clutter?

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Jesus, Matthew 6:19-21.

Some people might think this verse is a reason to ignore earthly “stuff” but I take it in quite the opposite direction. To me, Jesus acknowledges that material possessions matter because they occupy our minds as well as our physical space.

Our stuff is not our treasure, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. Ignoring clutter only invites it to multiply, to loom larger than it should, and to become actively negative. If you’ve ever dealt with a moth infestation in your winter clothes, or a shelf full of mildewed books, you know that Jesus wasn’t talking in pretty metaphors with “moth and rust”. Stuff can literally rot.

How does your church handle its clutter? Often we let the “lowest common denominator” rule. Every church has a few saints who, in the name of thrift, see a potential use for every item. God bless them! However, unnecessary items only impede ministry. This is true, even if we’re not consciously aware of the dynamic.

I have served four churches and they have all had significant clutter issues. It took time and energy to clear the clutter. Afterward, we felt the relief that comes with clear, clean space. People would remark that things were “looking better around here” even if they didn’t know exactly why. Open space opens the heart. Open space creates a sense of hospitality and welcome.

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Intentions for 2017

Do you write Resolutions or Intentions for the New Year?

As each old year draws to a close, I like to choose a word or phrase that captures my intention for the new year.

The first year I chose a phrase was 2012. I had quit my church work to focus on writing and felt the need for direction as I sifted through writing projects. I chose the phrase: “Close the Loop.” Surprisingly enough, my focus was on housework. If I started a load of laundry could I actually “close the loop” by getting those items dried and put away? As I became more conscious of open loops, I began to see them everywhere: my piles of papers not dealt with, the unworn clothes in my closet, the projects I had not finished. I became aware that these were open loops that sapped my energy. It’s no surprise that this became a year of purging!

My 2013 phrase was: “Be Lighthearted and Gracious.” My mental image was a fluffy white feather. I had completely immersed myself in one writing project — the work that became my memoir. The phrase was helpful, particularly as I had to spend so much time reliving painful memories and writing about the topic of sexual violence.

My 2014 phrase was “Do the Work.” Now I had so much work in progress that I felt overwhelmed. How would I ever get the writing done? The task seemed impossible. But I wanted to finish, desperately. The work was an open loop I needed to close. I realized I had to just put my nose down and see the work through.

My 2015 phrase was “Love the Work,” as I realized that when one phase of work ended, another appeared. I now envisioned myself as a writer, vocationally, and embraced the writing life as a gift. The opportunity to exercise my creativity would be enough reward, no matter what else might happen.

My 2016 phrase continued the theme, only I embraced both the sweat and the beauty: “Love the Work, Do the Work.” And after 5 years of sustained effort, 2016 became the year that my memoir was published.

Now it is almost 2017! I am still pondering phrases to capture my intention for the year ahead.

What about you? Care to share your phrase in the comments?

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“In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature He had created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Miracles: A Preliminary Study

The Virgin Mary & Me

in the Washington Post, "Acts of Faith"

I have an article up at the Washington Post today, in the “Acts of Faith” section. It has a long title: Our culture of purity celebrates the Virgin Mary. As a rape victim, that hurts me.

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“Ruined” named a “2017 Book of the Year” by Christianity Today

Friends, I’m so happy to share this news! RUINED has been named a “2017 Book of the Year” by Christianity Today. Thank you to everyone who has read the book, or listened to it, and shared it with others. You are the ones who are making this book have an impact!

Audio Version of RUINED Available Dec. 6

I’m thrilled to announce that you can now listen to my book, as well as read it.

Do you have a long drive coming up? The alphabet game only gets you so far! Why not request my book from your local library?

The recording was done by a professional narrator, except for the Epilogue, which I wanted to read because it’s a letter to my daughters. The Epilogue is the last 14 minutes.

You can download at Audible, or buy it on CD, Audiobook, or MP3 at Two Words Publishing or other online retailers. The publisher has a nice collection of clips you can listen to if you’re trying to decide. Let me know what you think!

“BIRTHED: Finding Grace through Infertility”

a memoir about infertility that will be a blessing to you

forex arabic books

inwestowanie w ropę

بنك الانماء اسهم

كيف ابيع واشتري في الاسهم

كم سعر الجرام من الذهب اليوم ~ There are no “one-size” fits all answers to a fertility journey, medically, emotionally or spiritually.
~ It is okay to live into the mystery — the mystery of not knowing how you will bear a child, when or if at all.
~ Infertility does not have to be a silent journey. Connect with my story. Connect to others who’ve gone through it too. Let friends and family who can bear with your pain love you through it.
~ A long season of grief doesn’t have to destroy your marriage or friendships. It can in fact bring you closer.

السوق السعودية مباشر

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