Fifteen minutes of Flame

HONK! The beeping squall announces sacrament.

Ruffle of coat as the door becomes locked against the world

With a practiced swirl the coat is laid down over his bag

Puppy howls and purring clucks sing greeting.

Fluffed heads and ruffled butts, affection gifted.

Maybe fifteen minutes then the worship service is over,

He vanishes like an unanswered prayer.

I am blinded by my faith, accept it as my truth

even as I’m told I’m a sinner:

“You do this.”

“This is your fault.”

“You don’t have courtesy.”

“(s i l e n c e f o r w e e k s)”


As I kneel at my altar after giving all I’m able,

it isn’t enough because I’m not whole-y holy.

I am “The Chosen One.” I am “loved dearly, but,”

This church is beginning to feeling like a silent prison.

I meditate in deep communion to ponder pontificated parole.

Setting the record straight on Marital rape

I had the honor of speaking on the panel hosted by Huffington Post Live regarding marital rape. As a survivor of this breach in trust/faith/love, I wanted to shine a light into the dark corners. It’s a 30 minute segment. I’m audio only, but I feel I handled myself well, completely answered the questions I was asked as well as offered encouragement to others.

Please take the time to watch and listen to this video. Share all you’d like. The more discussions that arise about this topic is affirmation that we’re working towards a solution. Thank you.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault. You’re not alone. It’s not your fault. There is hope.


Home At Last

Bunny Ears and laid back mornings

Bunny Ears and laid back mornings

I have arrived at your door.

I’ve unpacked my suitcases.

I’m ready for Your/Our more

My bridges burned cold blazes.

You allowed me haven inside

Fortified soul food, tenderness wed

You gifted my envisioned sight

A place to rest my weary head.

From darkness crept my prism

With rainbow fiery lights

No more the battled schisms

My spirit freed to endearingly alight

These Are My People: Ray and Coral Juras

I was scrolling my Facebook feed and I found a picture of Coral and Ray looking into each others eyes while they danced together. When I first met them, it was in the social hall at the old church building. They didn’t attend the service but had scooted in to “hang out.” They were so warm and kind that I instantly realized they were kindred spirits with one another. They were just content as clams to be nearby. I loved them warmly then as I do now. This is a poem inspired by that picture I found but can’t yet retrieve.

I barely knew the sea, ne’er touched the heated sands beneath my feet

I didn’t know the lighthouse song or the foggy waves clashing the beach

I didn’t taste the salty air or dream of it cleansing cool against my skin

I never watched the tides roll the beach, tossing shells as the waves washed in

But then I looked into your eyes with the warm smile of the sun a beacon…

I am intimately aware of the soul of the sea with the heated sands beneath my skin

I heed the beckoning of your loving heart and with the lighthouse of your love sing along

The fogs have lifted where once it was shady, but you and your love light my way again

I embrace the kiss of the salty air in the dream where I get to be your spousal song

We’ll dance like the tides ebbing and flowing, splashing playful at the shore,

As I return again and again to you, my beautiful, the one the ocean dictates I adore

Don’t catch “The Gay!”

I fully support LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) rights as both active participants in society and as human beings. I support their right to marry whom they love. I support their fights against discrimination.

I come to you as a human being. I am not a perfect person, nor do I profess to be. I struggle to keep my judgment in check. It’s so easy to point fingers and call one another hypocrites. It’s easy to look at someone and tell them they are wrong. It’s easy to reflect on my own life and color pretty shades of happy all over the pages I messed up by my poor choices. But what is even easier, it seems, is to do so in the name of religious intolerance.

I have seen on my Facebook feed posts about intolerance and injustices of the world. I see people hating others because of their sexual orientation. I see people hating because of the color of skin (Yes, even now.) I see people tearing down the President. I witness people spewing hateful messages because of gender. I see people calling each other names so vile that they taste bitter to speak them aloud. I see people projecting their own beliefs out into the world whether they are hateful or not, most commonly under the guise of religion.

In my belief system, the Lord and Lady in their duality are everywhere. They hang in the trees, they breathe the wind, they flow in riverbeds, they dance among the stars. The sense of serenity that I feel when I am out in nature is as good for me as a guided meditation or deep contemplative prayer. While I pray, I’m reminded constantly that happiness, tolerance, kindness, and especially love are my ways to finding my peace of mind, heart and soul. To achieve balance in both male and female aspects of myself, I need to be immersed in the joy of life. I need to be tolerant of other’s beliefs.

There are laws in my faith as well. One of our most important laws is, “Harm none.” That means myself and others. That means leaving nothing but footprints in a forest. That means helping someone who asks for it. That means giving and taking. A harmonious balance between the light and the dark sides of my inner self have to join equally for me to feel whole. To me that means opening my heart to infinite possibilities done in the name of love and harmony. To me, even when I’m sad or feel broken, I know that I need only pray. This allows the love energy to flow freely.

In the Christian faith, Jesus is asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

His response, found in Matthew 22:35-41 says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The words are deep and profound. In the words of Rev. Linda Looney, “Jesus’ message of inclusivity and love seems very radical. It WAS radical because of the impurity laws of Judaism, the absolutes, the impossibility of keeping every facet of the law. THAT is what we were saved from – the impossible law that was absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to keep, therefore it made people sinners for not keeping the law.”

Jesus didn’t say ‘Love your neighbor unless he is gay.’ or “Love your neighbor as long as they worship the same God.” He said to Love them as yourself. It would seem to me that there are a lot of people who can’t stand themselves out there in the world. They’d rather worry about what consenting adults do in their private lives than to feed the third world countries. They’d rather ridicule and spout hatred than to follow God’s command through His Son Jesus Christ.

This has caused me many years of contemplation. When I began to love myself, I realized that people around me are struggling with the same stuff I do every day. Just like a gay man or a lesbian or a straight person, I worry about bills, kids, schools, work, chores, etc. Just like a Christian, I pray for peace and love to rule the world instead of anger and viciousness. What face do I perceive when I pray? I see the face of the Goddess. I see the face of God. I feel the balance as if everything I ask for will be so. Not like a magic wish factory, but as in peace of mind. I don’t feel alone any more. I feel comfort from my day to day life from Father and Mother God/dess. I feel love for all creatures great and small.

I’ve heard people say to me, because I speak my mind, “Well, I’m a Christian and you aren’t.” As if that’s reason enough to reject another human. I say to them, “Well if you were such a Christian, why aren’t you living the life of Christ?” Jesus was all about loving one another. He loved his disciples so much (and they him) that they walked around all over the place teaching together. Why aren’t we more like that? It seems that Christ’s lessons are used only when it is convenient.

Jesus says, ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind. If that commandment, the one Jesus says is the most important, is to be honored, how can there be any room for intolerance? How can there be room for God when the heart is filled with such hate towards my fellow man? How can I be truthful to my spirit when I’m unwilling to follow His lessons and commands?

In 1 John 4:8 it says: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” It is my interpretation that if God is love then wasting time with anger and hate towards the LGBT Community takes away from the glory of God. It takes away the potency of His words. It degrades and defiles Jesus by not following His instructions to love one another.

What love is capable of can be found in the story of my mother and myself. For years I held on to anger that I felt towards my mother. I was certain that she was the single-most horrid mother in history. I painted a horrible picture of her. Although some of it may have been true, it was only in my perception that was true.

My mother and I were estranged for 17 long years. We didn’t start speaking until about two years ago. During the course of our conversations, I came to a deeper understanding of our relationship. On her 65th birthday, together we burned a venomous letter that I had written that had, in part, caused the distance between us. As that letter burned in the bucket, I looked at her face. I saw my face 20 years from now. I saw my own blood flowing through her veins. I saw hope and love. I’d been so quick to toss blame. We’d soiled something that shouldn’t have been an issue had we followed the lessons we were taught.

The sense of peace, hope, love, and respect that I feel for her is stronger than it has ever been. I saw her for the first time as a human being, just like me. I saw her with kindness in my heart rather than anger. I was able to take the lessons I’ve learned and follow another important lesson that was taught to me at her knee. Jesus taught the lesson about judgment. His words were meant to show that there is a better way to do things.In Matthew 7:2-4 (NIV) 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

No matter what I am faced with, I know that if I follow the simple laws of harming no others, of loving one another as I love my Lord and Lady, of holding onto my judgment and letting things be as they are, of offering hope and care wherever it is needed, then I am doing my part. I have been told that I am the most Christian non-Christian. I’m proud of that. I don’t reject the teachings I was brought up with, nor do I reject my fellow human beings despite their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other criteria. As for me and mine, we will bide by the Law of Love, not hatred. I will love my brothers and sisters in spirit no matter what their beliefs or choices. In that way, and with deepest respect for those who object on the grounds of religion, I wish you nothing but peace and love in your hearts.

Peace to you and yours.

Happy 7th Anniversary, Ben Stotler

It’s Always Been You

This was taken on our wedding day November 3rd, 2007 (Ben's birthday too). We were wed at 129 Andy Fox Lane in Clinton, TN with a bonfire we lit together, falling leaves, and our loved ones surrounding us.

This was taken on our wedding day November 3rd, 2007 (Ben’s birthday too). We were wed at 129 Andy Fox Lane in Clinton, TN with a bonfire we lit together, falling leaves, and our loved ones surrounding us. Each year since, I’ve given my husband a poem to commemorate our love, grateful for another year to spend with my best friend. This year it’s a song but I don’t have the talent to write the music, so I post the lyrics. He’s the best husband I’ve ever had.

I looked for love

Each time that I thought I’d had it

I’d reach out my heart to nab it

But like smoke and mirrors

It disappeared

That went on for years

As I tried to hold and grab it…

Until you.

It’s always been you

Each time that I deeply breathe

As far as I can farthest see

You cherish my heart

Because it’s you…it’s always been you.

I needed love

Everywhere I went I sought your star

Man, I traveled ever so far

Always close but no cigar

I jumped the brooms and broke the jars

My heart rejecting the impo”stars”

Because of you.

It’s always been you.

Each time that I deeply breathe

As far as I can farthest see

You cherish my heart

Because it’s you…it’s always been you.

Each time that I’d take the chance

I’d find “Mr. No-Romance” or

“Mr. Look-what’s-in-my pants” or

“Mr. I-refuse-your-dance”

But it’s simple, don’t you see?

Rejecting them for the love of me

Because of you.

It’s always been you.

Each time that I deeply breathe

As far as I can farthest see

You cherish my heart

Because it’s you…it’s always been you.

Tips from people in long term relationships

These are just round about tips from several people who have been in successful relationships for 10 years or longer. If you have words of wisdom to impart to the newlyweds, please feel free to leave comments. This list is in no way inclusive nor exclusive. I wish all couples the love of a lifetime with their best friend.

Be who you are

Do what you do

That’s the reason

They fell for you!

Take them down off the pedestal

Let them walk on the ground

They are human, just like you

I promise, no messing around.

Do little things that bring a smile to their face

Like putting both seats down or hugging them ‘til they feel safe.

Trust is not easy to acquire

But if you cherish and nurture

You’ll find dreams are inspired

And the wings you needed,

Are now ready to mature.

Forgiveness and compassion

Are found within trust

You gave them your heart,

Remember you must. (Yoda moment)

Fight naked, because it’s difficult to stay mad

At someone yelling while they’re in the altogether.

It’s okay to get/be/stay angry at your partner

But there is never any excuse for intentional cruelty.

Do not ever assume that they know why you’re upset or angry.

If you are angry, take time to cool down to figure out WHY you’re upset.

Breathe until you feel calm enough to talk to them like an adult, not a child throwing a tantrum.

Remember, you chose them to be your best friend for life. Friends don’t intentionally harm one another.

Communicate freely. What are you dreaming about? What are your fantasies? What do you wish to accomplish in your life? Do you or do you not want children? Do you or do you not want to own a house or property? Will you have a joint bank account while maintaining your own as well?

Love without expectation. There isn’t one way to love someone. Be flexible because they are human just like you. You can love them through anything but you can’t love them through abuse of any kind or through violence.

Sex is important but it isn’t the end all. Do not be afraid to say no. You’re not obligated if you’re not feeling it. NEITHER of you are. But, do not neglect your basal needs either. It’s okay to masturbate if you want to and your partner doesn’t. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get them revved up.

Have a job or pursue outside interests that are solely yours. That way you have new and interesting things to bring to the conversational table. It maintains the first credo of be who you are and do what you do. You can have hobbies that are shared or interests that are both of yours, but it’s pleasant to have something oddball to bring along.

Divide the chores happily. If you’re better at laundry than your partner, then you do it because they may be better at doing dishes. There are no hard and fast rules, but if they’re divided by what you actually like to do or don’t mind doing, you’ll find a happier partnership across the board. Example, I fix the car, my husband hooks up the electronics. He loads and unloads the dishwasher, I cook and bake for him what he requests. He cleans the cat box, I clean up the dog poop. And if I get sick or he does, we do theirs too because that’s what partners do for each other.

Learn to cook. Both of you. Find your specialty dish. Eating out at restaurants is expensive, limits your interaction with one another, and makes it easy to fall into ruts. Cooking together allows for intimacy, trust, and conversation as you figure out a new recipe or method of cooking. YouTube is your friend for learning new ways to do things in the kitchen.

Your best friend is first, always. When the wedding vows (typical that is) say “Let no man put asunder…” It means that your best friend is your goto chick/fella. Example: Money does not come first even if it is scarce at first. If it costs over 20 bucks, consult with your partner. You’d be surprised how much trouble it can save unless you’ve previously discussed your budget for this or that project. Kids are not the boss either. Your best friend first, you can make sacrifices for your kids together.

Learn how your partner works. That’s part of the joy. My husband, for example has a hard time verbally expressing himself, but he makes coffee for me on Sunday morning. He takes out the trash without being asked. He picks up his clothing and puts them in the laundry. I make sure he has lunch packed and dinner cooked. I make sure his clothes are clean on my laundry day. I leave him love notes and he gives me secret codes to his heart. I have a lifetime to figure out whether or not he likes white socks best new or warm from the dryer (new every time).

Geek out to a minimal of one thing together. Make it YOUR thing. Date night has to be outside the house, even if it’s for a picnic in the yard at least once a month.

Start saving money for a house now because living in an apartment sucks. If you can’t pay for it in a month (other than a car or a house) then save up until you can. Protect your credit so that both of you can enjoy a solid life together instead of worrying about money.

Don’t be afraid to go on vacations alone for a weekend or a week. Sometimes missing them is necessary and recreates that feeling of, “Man, I really wish you were here.” There isn’t a place where anything stays where you were so behave as if you are married and the best part of you is safe at home. Do not jeopardize your marriage for anyone, it’s not worth it.

Please do not ever fall under the assumption that things will always be just as they are right now. Change is the only other sure thing besides death and taxes. Roll with it. Nobody knows what the hell we’re doing. We’re all just winging it. Do the best you can with what you have and remember that your partner is in it with you.

These Are My People: The Newlywed Waskey’s, Eva and Rich

A Wedding Poem:

If you’re lucky like the Waskey’s

And I hope that you are

May you know as much love as they do

Which numbers boundless like the stars.

If you’re lucky like the Waskey’s

And I know that it’s true

May you know much joy as they do

Which is as much as every drop of morning dew

If you’re lucky like the Waskey’s

And I hope you are, my dears

May you know laughter as they do

Which will fill centuries of years

If you’re lucky like the Waskey’s

And I write this for posterity

May your life be abundant with adventure

And filled like theirs with prosperity.

These Are My People: Ben Stotler

Yule 2008

Yule 2008

I know that you love me.
I feel it on my skin, in my skin, like my skin
In my spirit, through my spirit, with my spirit;
Snaking its way through my body
Like my breath and blood.
Unashamed to explore the recesses of my reflections
Sorting through my sacred spaces like a wild child on a spending spree.
Moving forward even when encouraged strongly to turn back!
Turn back and don’t look at that pile of filth, of lies, of dastardly deeds
Stacked in the furthest corners that I disguise with masks,
Masks that vulgar people disregard with acceptance.
You refuse my please with tenderness and compassion.
You gently pull back the world I keep hidden beneath my bravado.
You don’t cringe.
You don’t run.
You just coax me from beneath my veil,
Encouraging me to seek the day with a new, braver face.
That which is my own, truly my own.
Because of this trust you’ve established with me
In an agreement of lifelong complexity,
I comply with the oxymoron of trepidational courage.
And this, my love, is how I know without a doubt that you love me.