“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 download is just $11.99.

Also available at Audible or Downpour.

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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Ask the Matriarch: A Church Visitor at a Small Church

I’m a member of the RevGalBlogPals, an online community that supports clergywoman. Because I’ve been in ministry for more than a decade (more than two decades, shhh) I bear the esteemed title of “matriarch.” Which I wear with pride! Today’s feature was an advice column that asked an interesting question about a church visitor. Any member or leader of a small church knows how exciting visitors can be! Click over to read the question and three answers. The answers vary tremendously. What would your response be? This one is tagged Leading the Small Church.

Review of RUINED at the Englewood Review of Books

So pleased to tell you that Englewood Review of Books reviewed my memoir. What a great first line: What I love most about this memoir is that it is a gift, primarily for her daughters, but by extension to other young women and ultimately Christian culture in general. You can read the whole thing here. Thanks ERB!

Feeding the Writer Within

stoking the flames of love

Certain loves are more difficult to keep alive than others. These are the loves that no one assumes you harbor.

Some loves are normative. I can tell you that I love my husband and daughters and you will understand me. I could say I love Jesus, and most of you will understand what I mean to say, even if you don’t share that love. I could mention that I love the smell of frying onions and the sight of melting cheese, and many of you will sigh and salivate.

I could even say that I love words and writing, and many of you will nod in agreement. But if I say that I love my writing self will you continue to nod? Or is a bit transgressive to turn a love inward?

Yet the best way for me to express my love of words and writing is to honor my writing self. I have to feed Writing Ruth. I have to stoke the flames of her loves.

How about you? Are there loves you struggle to honor?  (more…)

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My Recent Adventures in the Public Sphere

featuring the Washington Post & Breitbart

Almost two months have passed since my Op-Ed appeared in “Acts of Faith” at the Washington Post, and conservative media vilified me for it. I wrote up an account of what happened and sent it to my subscribers. But as Breitbart continues to be a cultural force, and “truth” continues to be at issue, it seems best that I should set out the facts for anyone who might be interested in them.

The title of the Op-Ed was this: “Our culture of purity celebrates the Virgin Mary. As a rape victim, that hurts me.”


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Interviewed in Washington Post

Jim Barnes interviewed me for the Washington Post: Loudoun woman’s memoir tells of how a violent crime shook her religious faith.

How to Wear History

choices for churches

Some churches wear their history like a feathered cape — with the past thrown lightly over the shoulders of the present. The past is color, context, and dramatic flair.

Some churches wear their history like a shroud — with the past draped heavily over the face of the present. The past is silencing, secretive, and corpse-like.

The cape-wearing churches tell stories with many actors, who have many foibles.

The shroud-wearing churches tell stories where one person is to blame.

The cape-wearing churches tell stories that happen all over the place — the sanctuary, but also the retreat setting, the party at so and so’s house, the time we went to Capitol Hill, the homeless shelter, stories told with gusto.

The shroud-wearing churches tell stories that happen in the room where Session meets, or in the parking lot afterward, stories told in whispers.

The cape-wearing churches sometimes organize events by email, or Facebook, and plans can change at the last moment.

The shroud-wearing churches stick to their administrative manual, which is thick. 

The cape-wearing churches are a pain to keep clean, what with the play-doh and streamers.

The shroud-wearing churches are clean, if you don’t mind the slight smell of stagnation.

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Healing Spiritual Wounds

an interview with Carol Howard Merritt

Have you ever been wounded by a church, or do you know someone who has been?

Have you ever wished you had the right book on your shelf, something solid and helpful you could read and pass along?

That book is finally here! It is destined to become a classic.

Carol Howard Merritt’s book is called: Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church.

I am privileged to call Carol a friend. We labored together in a writing group, and I know firsthand that she has mastered her craft. What’s more, she has wisdom, theological depth and ministry experience. I believe her book will help many, so I was thrilled to write an endorsement:


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Church un-Cluttered

Two Church Closets: Before & After

Churches have a unique tendency to become cluttered, as I have blogged about before. But never underestimate the power of energetic volunteers!

The goals: 1) make items accessible;

2) create dedicated space for pulpit robe and worship materials.

BEFORE large closet

BEFORE small closet











AFTER large closet

AFTER small closet

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Guilty Until Proven Innocent

a guest post by Rev. Laura Collins

A friend posted this on Facebook, and I thought it should get a wider airing.

Here’s her story:

So today I had a strange and unsettling experience of finding out that there was a traffic court case that has been on my record for three years without my knowledge. But when a 2nd small traffic infraction got added this year (yes, that ticket I did get), my car insurance coverage was halved and the cost was doubled. When I called to find out why this had happened, the insurance company insisted that it was because of my driving record, though I have never in my life been in the County where the first (and more serious) infraction happened.


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Would Jesus Have Marched?

Salt & Light, Matthew 5:13-20

I have a lectionary essay on the gospel text for February 5, over at Journey with Jesus.

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