A new Blog

I've kind of been letting this page just sit for a while, allowing people to find and contact me if need be.  I do respond to any emails that come my way, but for the most part, I have not been publishing things here.  However, I am still writing over at the Storyline Blog.  Another post got published today.  I may be back writing here on some new things that are coming up, but for now, here is my latest post.
Thanks so much!


National Coming Out Day 2015

I’m a big adventure person.  I love to travel, I love to explore, I love finding out new things and meeting interesting people.  Sometimes I just go, wander, ramble around until I find something that peaks my interest and then I sit with it for a bit.  Wherever the road leads me is fine because an adventure is more about the journey than the destination.  In the journey I am awakened to the beauty around me, the joy in the little things, and the light in those I get to journey with. In the process, I may just discover those things in myself.

Almost exactly two years ago I embarked on what has turned out to be my greatest and scariest adventure yet.  I stepped away from the life I knew towards a life of unknown, but a life I hoped would help me feel like living again.

Over my years I had come to a place where the adventure of simply living felt like daily walking through a thick muddy swamp.  It was cold and wet and foggy and lonely and every step was labored and pained.  I saw no end to this swamp.  There were occasional trees or rocks to rest on and rare rays of light would break through randomly to bring warmth and hope, but for the most part it was just hard simply getting out of bed and trying to keep moving.

Life wasn’t always like this.  If you have met me along my journey I wasn’t faking joy or friendship, I wasn’t always in a place of deep despair, but it was always there to some degree.  I don’t know what brought me to my breaking point, but the breaking point came when I sat in the hospital bed listening to a Dr. tell me I was going to be ok.  That the heart problems I was having were stress induced and nothing physically was wrong with me.  In that moment that should have been a relief, I found myself disappointed I was not dying and would have to go back to my swamp living.

There is so much more to the story, but I can point to that moment as one of significance where I realized things had been harder than I wanted to admit.  I kept thinking that if I could just make it past the next hard thing, the next major stressor, the next project that things would start to clear up.  But the pressure of living only continued to get heavier and heavier.  I didn’t know how heavy things were until I realized that when the Dr. told me I was going to live, the only emotion I felt was disappointment.

So I decided to embark on another adventure.  I decided right then and there to come out of the closet.  You see, while I lived a very stress filled hectic life, the thing weighing heaviest on me was this thing I had never told another soul.  I was no longer able to bare alone the secret I had been carrying my entire life.  I didn’t know where this adventure would take me, to say I was scared out of my mind was an understatement, but I knew I actually wanted to live.

I knew for many people this would be a shock (for many it was not) and I knew it would become scandalous if I stayed in my position as Dean of Students at a private Christian college, so I wanted to be careful and deliberate in my process.  I wanted to tell as many people face to face as possible and I didn’t want to embroil the school in a situation where they would have to feel any kind of responsibility for my decision to go public with the news that I was gay.  I was not deciding to be gay, I was deciding to invite others into the journey I had been walking alone for 30 years, but I still knew it would impact others.  In order to walk this new path as best I could, I decided to step down from my position at the school.

My last day at the school was October 1, 2013.  I walked away from an amazing job with amazing people, stability and a home, to begin a new adventure to figure out who I am and to try to get out of the boggy swamp.

And let me tell you, it has been an adventure.  Along the way I have discovered new beauty and truth I never thought was possible.  I have been vulnerable to the point of feeling raw all the time, but also experiencing a depth of love and acceptance I was scared to even wish for.  I made some mistakes and I enjoyed moments of grace. 

I still don’t have all the answers and I am still in the beginning of this adventure, but I have not regretted taking that step to walk away from everything I knew in order to discover truths that I had not let sink in because of the shame of my secret.  Once I came out I discovered the truths that God loves me, I have people who love me, and I’m going to be ok.  I wasn’t so sure two years ago, but I can say I have at least discovered that in this journey.

The reason I chose to share this today is because it is National Coming Out day.  It is a day set aside to stand in solidarity with those who have had the courage to step out and invite loved ones into the journey of being gay. To take the weight of shame and fear of rejection off of our shoulders by welcoming those we love to know us in a way that was hidden for so many years.  It is a day of reflection.

For many of my friends, this story will feel like I am glorifying a “sinful” choice or encouraging others down a dangerous path.  To be honest, this story is not for you. We can have a discussion later where I would be happy to speak with you in love about our differences of opinion, but really, this story is not for you. (unless you are lucky enough to have someone come out to you today, then please hear the heart in these words)

It is for anyone else who is afraid to invite others into a part of their life that has been hidden and kept them isolated.  It is for anyone who is afraid of what life might look like on the other side.  It is for anyone who feels like they can’t keep living because the weight of loneliness is heavier than the fear of death.  It is for the gay kid and straight kid who just want to know that someone is on their side.  It is for those who have been left wondering if they share their secret will they still experience the love of God, the love of people, and a life that won’t fall apart.

On this National Coming Out day of 2015, I am here to tell you and myself, two years into this beautiful, scary, life affirming, vulnerable, truth learning, friend finding, friend losing, empowering, daunting, hope giving, swamp conquering adventure, that God loves you, you have people who love you, and you are going to be OK.

A PhD Update

A little PhD update for those who have been asking and especially those who listened to the podcast.

Last week I was able to take my qualifying exams on the road to finishing my PhD. It was two days of testing where you work to prove proficiency in all areas of study and being capable of finishing a dissertation. Basically, the university asks you eight different questions that cover areas like history, theory, theology, and your core area of study and you have two hours to answer each question. Two weeks from now, I go before a three-person panel to defend and expand on my answers for another two hours. If they deem my answers sufficient, then I move into a new status of being called PhD candidate, or what is commonly called PhD ABD (All But Dissertation). 

I am so glad to be done with this phase. Of the three phases, course work, qualifying exams, and dissertation, I always knew this would be the hardest for me. From day one of orientation, they tell you that everything you do in your studies is leading up to this moment. Every book review, every article you comment on in weekly posts, every paper you write, will be helpful in getting you ready for these tests. They have hung over my head for the past five years and now they are almost done. I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to take them, or even wanted to, but now that they are over I am so grateful.

It has been a crazy, wild road that has been just about the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I am so grateful for all those that have encouraged me to keep going and supported me along the way. I actually feel different now that the major part is over. After the first day of testing I slept better than I've slept in at least a year.

From here, I will know my results on October 6 and be working to finish my dissertation over the next year, most likely in theology of comedy.

Thanks again for all the support, prayers and kind words. It means the world to me.

We All Have Those Voices

Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, ‘Prove that you are a good person.’ Another voice says, ‘You’d better be ashamed of yourself.’ There also is a voice that says, ‘Nobody really cares about you,’ and one that says, ‘Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.’ But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, ‘You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.’ That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us ‘my Beloved.’
— Henri Nouwen

Storyline Conference, Nov 5-7, Chicago

One of the first things I did when I decided to quite my job and head out on a grand new adventure was to attend the Storyline Conference.

The website says, " At Storyline, we believe people who live clear, meaningful lives have the greatest influence on culture.  When you attend The Storyline Conference you’ll be inspired, gain clarity and leave with a life plan. Our story based process has lead thousands to discover lasting change and a life of meaning. On top of it all, you’ll hear from a lineup of world renowned speakers share their incredible stories of how they see life differently."

It did just that for me.  It was an inspiring gathering of dreamers, artists, writers, parents, preachers, teachers, business leaders and vagabonds who were looking for something more, a way to impact their world.  Being around this amazing group of people, my dreams didn't seem so crazy and my passions were affirmed.  I felt like I had found my family.

The best part about it is that I left with a plan.  It was not just a rah-rah kind of conference, although I was inspired and moved, but a conference that gave me tangible steps to take to help move me forward in my pursuits and my life.

I loved it so much, I went back the next year.  

The favorite way of experiencing this conference was to share it with friends.  We sat through sessions and then ate meals together, processing everything we had experienced and working through how we were going to move forward.  We made fun of each other for tearing up listening to Bob Goff and we shook our heads in agreement with stories from Shauna Niequist.  It was amazing.

This year, I am actually going to be leading one of the breakout sessions and talking through what it looks like to walk through difficult and divisive life issues.  I would like to invite you to join me there on November 5-7 in Chicago.  The more the merrier.  I promise you don't want to miss out.  Plus, the more friends I have there the better!

Register at https://storylineconference.com


For many years now years I've had the privilege to attend the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit.  If I'm honest, in my more youthful days I tended to be cynical about most leadership conferences, but every year I was humbled and rocked by what I got to experience.

These days it is one of my favorite events of the year.  I am consistently challenged and moved by the men and women standing on the stage and sharing their hearts and wisdom.  

This year I am sitting under the stage at Willow Creek with a group of social media experts, working on getting the word out about the events of the day.  I got to join in the fun.  I have never tweeted so much in my life.

Here are some of the quotes or thoughts I sent out today as a way of trying to boil down some of the things I will walk away with from this year's Summit.  

Tweets from GLS#2015

‪#GLS15 Research shows leaders have 3.4 blind spots. When was the last time you asked someone “What are my blindspots?” ‪@BillHybels

‪#GLS15 Self sacrificing love is the core of leadership.  Vision, strategy and problem solving are not.  It’s self sacrificing love.

‪#GLS15 Love never leaves a heart the way it found it.  "Love never fails."  ‪@BillHybels

5 Intangibles of Leadership-

Unremitting Grit

Humble Self-Awareness


Self-sacrificing Love

Create a Sense of Meaning #GLS15

The other the side of the coin of success is not failure it is growth - Jim Collins ‪#GLS15

‪#GLS15 Leadership is not personality, position, power- it only exists when people follow when they have ability to not follow -Jim Collins

Life isn't about a single hand. Life is a series of hands. True creators stay in the game. -Jim Collins ‪#GLS15

Creativity is not incongruous with science. "Art isn’t about drawing, it’s about learning to see." @edcatmull #GLS15

In a collaborative environments. Magic happens with loss of ego in the room. @edcatmull #GLS15

Stating values and agreeing values is easy to do.  What is hard is to ask why you are not living up to those values. @edcatmull #GLS15

Stories are going to change the world @edcatmull #GLS15

A successful Giver isn't Mother Teresa/Ghandi all the time. Do five minute favors. Data says 100hrs a year is sweet spot. ‪@AdamMGrant ‪#GLS15

Negative impact of Taker is double the positive impact of a Giver.  So important the right people are on the bus. Weed out takers. ‪#GLS15 ‪@AdamMGrant

Givers have a higher chance to both succeed and fail. Are more likely to fail in short run, but more likely to succeed in long run. ‪#GLS15 @AdamMGrant

As people, we want more love, joy, connection, community. The only path to those things is vulnerability ‪@BreneBrown ‪#GLS15

We invent stories w/relational miscommunication. That's a conspiracy- limited data points filled in with values and ideas ‪#GLS15 ‪@BreneBrown

"As leaders you can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You can't have both." ‪@BreneBrown ‪#GLS15

The bravest among us will always be the most broken hearted... because they have the courage to love. ‪@BreneBrown ‪#GLS15

Diverse teams outperform smarter, more capable teams. ‪@SallieKrawcheck ‪#GLS15

There are some creepy Christians out there. If you haven't met one, it's you. - ‪@Michaeljrcomedy ‪#GLS15

Don’t ask who is the best person for the job? Our bias is to look for people like us. Instead, ask do we have a fully diverse team? ‪#GLS15

We buy in to the lie we must leave it all on the field. We don’t live on the field, we only play on the field. What's left for home? ‪#GLS15

Live for your eulogy. Not your resume.  ‪@alberttate ‪#GLS15

Dumb idea + God’s Hand = Life Transformation.  ‪@alberttate ‪#GLS15

What would it look like if you led with something left at the end of the day? That is a picture of the Gospel. God's abundant grace. ‪#GLS15

A little Henri Nowen for the day

Long, but REALLY good.  :)

Henri Nouwen- The Essential Henri Nouwen

Drinking the cup life... is saying, "this is my life," but also "I want this to be my life." Drinking the cup of life is fully appropriating and internalizing our own unique existence, with all its sorrows and joys. It is not easy to do this. For a long time we might not feel capable of accepting our own life; we might keep fighting for a better or at least different life. Often a deep protest against our "fate" arises in us. We didn't choose our country, our parents, the color of our skin, our sexual orientation.  We didn't even choose our character, intelligence, physical appearance, or mannerisms. Sometimes we want to do every possible thing to change the circumstances of our life. We wish we were in another body, lived in another time, or had another mind!  A cry can come out of our depths: "Why do I have to be this person? I didn't ask for it, and I don't want it."

But as we gradually come to befriend our own reality, to look with compassion at our own sorrow and joys, and as we are able to discover the unique potential of our way of being in the world, we can move beyond our protest, put the cup of life to our lips and drink it, slowly, carefully, but fully.

Often when we wish to comfort people, we say: “Well, it is sad this has happened to you, but try to make the best of it.” But “making the best of it' is not what drinking the cup is about. Drinking our cup is not simply adapting ourselves to a bad situation and trying to use it as well as we can. Drinking our cup is a hopeful, courageous, and self-confident way of living. It is standing in the world with head erect, solidly rooted in the knowledge of who we are, facing the reality that surrounds us, and responding to it from our hearts.

Your pain, deep as it is, is connected with specific circumstances. You do not suffer in the abstract. You suffer because someone hurts you at a specific time in a specific place. Your feelings of rejection, abandonment, and uselessness are rooted in the most concrete events. In this way all suffering is unique. This is eminently true of the suffering of Jesus. His disciples left him, Pilot condemned him, Roman soldiers tortured him and crucified him. 

Still, as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and the events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation that brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way which you participate in the pain of humanity.

Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving from your pain to the pain. When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it; this explains why you often seek revenge. But real healing comes from realizing that our own particular pain is a share in humanities pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life. That is the way of Jesus, ...

Best Fat Michael Jackson

One of my favorite stories to tell is about the time that I got to dance in a Missy Elliot music video.  Not only is it one of the craziest experiences of my life, but I learned so much from that moment about having a good attitude in the midst of uncomfortable situations. I've told the story many times, but one time it got captured on video when I did a story telling night with my friends at Sounds Like A Movement. I hope this encourages you to be your very own best Fat Michael Jackson this world has ever seen.

What's funny, is that if you didn't know the story, you wouldn't have any idea that my character's name was Fat Michael Jackson. Below the is actual video.  You can find my rap video debut starting at around the 1:30 mark and my whole 15 seconds of fame actually only lasts about 10 seconds.  (You will see a brief appearance of Skinny Michael Jackson at 1:33)  And to answer the first question I always get, yes, Missy Elliot was amazing.  Very kind, very sweet, and very fun to be around.

Risk: My First Audition

(An early headshot) 

(An early headshot) 

These days, I seem a little more hesitant to risk.  I have built a life on risk, but these days I am a little more scared of taking the same leaps.  It is on days like this that I try to remember the scary risks I've taken in the past and remind myself that I survived.  Success or fail, most of them make for good party stories in the end and I always learn something. 

One of the most vulnerable risks I used to take all the time was going on auditions.  I remember my first one being the most terrifying.

As I walked in to Talent Entertainment Network for my first agent audition I took a unoccupied seat next to one of the dime a dozen blonde beauties so prevalent in LA. Even though barely over 18, not much about her was real. And yet, I was incredibly intimidated by her "Hollywoodness." I scanned the autographed pictures lining the walls. Some looked vaguely familiar, but I only fully recognized Claudia Schiffer and Jake Lloyd. (The young Anakin Skywalker) If this place was good enough to represent a Guess? girl and Darth Vadar then they were good enough to represent me.

They called in my friend who would float in a flood for her audition first. She opened by mentioning that she brought in a prepared monologue, but couldn’t remember all of it since she was a little hung over. Her chosen audition piece, the example of the fullness of her potential, happened to be from the opening scene in Pulp Fiction. Let’s just say that her interpretation involved throwing a few chairs and standing on another screaming the classic lines, “Nobody F—-ing move you mother f—ers!!” To which the agent simply replied, “Thank you, now let’s read this Revlon commercial.”

When Little Miss Bottled Sunshine departed, I was left sitting for a bit while the agents in the other room tried to keep their laughter and comments to hushed whispers before they were to call me in.

In that moment I thought about bolting.  They hadn't seen my face yet. I could leave and my life would not change at all.  After all, I wasn't prepared for this.  I didn't want to embarrass myself in an audition and have them laughing at me after I left.  Why in the world did I think I would have what it takes to be represented by a Hollywood agency?  I'm no Guess? girl.  I had a decision to make.  Risk possibly being embarrassed and rejected or walk out now.

Claudia Schiffer stayed.  So would I.

After introducing myself I sat down across a table from Rena and Paul and handed them my packet. We all sat in silence for a few seconds while they looked at my headshots and resume.

Paul said, “I see here you were a comedian.”

“Ya.” I replied. “I traveled for a few years in an improv group around the country.”

“Cool. Then be funny.”


“Go ahead, just be funny”

This is quite possibly the worst thing you could say to me. I started to feel a little like I too had a hangover. “It doesn’t really work that way with improv. You play off other people, get suggestions from the audience, you know, stuff like that.”

Paul was not impressed. “Well, are you funny?”

“My mom thinks so.” I said with a giggle.  That didn’t impress him either.

“Well… then make me laugh.”  

I quickly jogged my memory for any and all fart jokes, but I was blank. “I do have a monologue prepared. I could do that?”

“Is it from Talladega Nights?”

“No” I had chosen to take a little bit of a higher approach to comedy and picked a piece from Mark Twain’s Exracts from Adam’s Diary. The journal entry about Adam being upset at Eve for wanting to keep a brontosaurus as a pet no longer seemed funny or ideal. Why didn't I just do a Chris Farley bit like everyone else?!?!

Rena chimed in, “Don’t worry. You won’t be able to make me laugh. I don’t laugh at anything.”

With that bit of encouragement I stood to my feet, shaking, and sweaty to begin what could make or break my chance of being represented by this agency.

“She has no discrimination. She takes to all the animals–all of them!” I started with my hands over my mouth just the way I had practiced in the mirror and then threw in the classic wrinkled nose followed by sweeping my hands downward. Perfect execution.

“When the brontosaurus came striding into camp, she regarded it as an acquisition, I considered it a calamity; that is a good example of the lack of harmony in our views of things.” That’s when I lost it. I accidently said “example” instead of “sample.” How could I have been so absent minded? I suddenly couldn’t remember any of the lines that I had worked so hard to imbed in my memory. I started saying things like “You know what I mean” and “I’m totally serious, not even kidding.” When did Mark Twain ever say, “I’m totally serious?” I felt like taking a cue from my audition buddy and breaking into Pulp Fiction and hoping for the best.

I struggled through the next 90 seconds of babble, sweating as I got more animated to try and cover up the fact that I was doing A MARK TWAIN MONOLOGUE WRITTEN FROM ADAM'S PERSPECTIVE ABOUT HIS WIFE TAKING IN A DINOSAUR for an audition that I didn't even know well enough to do justice.  After a few more winks, smiles and oddly placed dance moves, I dropped my head to signify that the torture was over. Rena, as promised, didn’t even break a grin through the whole thing, but Paul snickered a couple times before saying, “Thank you, now let’s read this Kodak commercial.”

Evidently my reading of the Kodak, and subsequent Safeway, commercial must have blown them away because they offered to represent me.  

Having the courage to go on that first audition and risk looking like an idiot opened a whole new world to me.  I danced in music videos, appeared in television and film projects, met amazing people and gave me even more stories to tell.  As scary and as difficult as that audition was in the moment, I survived and my life is better for it. On days when I am having a hard time risking I hope I can remember those moments and get up the courage to be willing to risk again.  I survived and you will too.

Never a Chameleon

“What is, therefore, our task today? Shall I answer: ‘Faith, hope, and love?’ That sounds beautiful. But I would say- courage. No, even that is not challenging enough to be the whole truth. Our task today is recklessness. For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature… we lack a holy rage- the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity… a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world…. To rage at the lie that calls the threat of death and the strategy of destruction peace. To rage against complacency. To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the kingdom of God. And remember the signs of the Christian Church have been the Lion, the Lamb, the Dove and the Fish… but never the chameleon.”

Kaj Munk, a Danish priest, spoke these words before he was killed by the Gestapo in 1944.

I’ve gotten really good at creating boundaries in my life that shield me away from doing or being anything that that could be called “reckless.” Because recklessness often leads to discomfort.  If it doesn’t feel right, I’m great at finding away to avoid it.  I’m not afraid of hard work and I’m confident enough in who I am to stand for things I believe in but, I rarely put myself in an intentional place of discomfort.  I’d rather fade into the background like a chameleon.

The last time I journeyed through the stations of the cross, I was struck with the thought that if Jesus was doing ministry today he may have heard things like, “Why risk it?” or “Learn to say no” or even “You don’t need to be a martyr.”  Things I often hear quoted to those in ministry.  A mentor might say to him, “You need to create healthy boundaries or you will burn out.”  His ministry all seemed a bit reckless.

This is not fun to admit, but when it comes to the crucifixion I’ve gotten to a point where I can handle the cross, the actual death part doesn’t seem to phase me as much anymore.  It is the beatings and the mocking that are too much for me to handle.  I hate it.  In my mind, death I can do, but suffering is more than should be asked of me.  It is more than should be asked of Jesus. Boundaries, Jesus, boundaries.

Can healthy boundaries and picking up my cross daily exist together?  Can I sacrifice too much for the sake of those around me?  Could Jesus have died without experiencing the suffering and humiliation of the thorns, the whipping and the names?  What does that type of example mean for me today?  I don’t fully know, but I can promise you I’ve never tested the limits of who God has called me to be.

It is doubtful that I will ever be in a place of such persecution or torment.  it is doubtful that I will ever be killed for my beliefs.  It is doubtful that I will enduring extreme suffering for what I believe.  But, If I am ever called… May I have the courage to wear the thorns.  May I have the courage to step in front of the whip.  May I have the courage to take the mocking and the beating.  May I do it all as a reckless Lion or a Lamb, but never a chameleon.