In about 1985, I was a bored teenager walking through Bonanza, Oregon with my cousin, Rachelle. We noticed a crowd gathered at the Big Springs park (Bonanza, Oregon). It was a summer church baptismal service at the river. Before I knew it- I was dazed and soaking wet, yet filled with an indescribable joy. I never knew which particular church had baptized me, or even the name of the pastor. But, I did become suddenly, acutely aware of God’s presence.

Quickly Faded

Unfortunately, I quickly forgot that experience. Yet in the following years of adolescence and then college, God did not forget me. He eventually gifted me with a handsome husband and two brilliant children. He also provided a local (Malin) bible study to attend, which would “switch on” my spiritual mind. A whole new world opened up for me- a world of rights and wrongs, supernatural love, and divine inspiration. The world of Jesus.

I dove headfirst into reading my bible and church culture. It wasn’t long before I became entrenched in expectations. It was important to raise my children in a biblical, God honoring manner, volunteer my time at church, and regularly engage in spiritual disciplines (bible reading, prayer, obedience, etc.).

Soon, I was exhausted.

Fast forward to a bout of clinical depression, a church split over the use of antidepressant medication (among other things), and I was over it. Over religion. Over trying so hard. Over a God who just expected too much. 

And then it happened. Thirty years from when I was randomly baptized as a teenager-  I had a revelation of grace. I was writing a book about social anxiety (a subject close to my heart and something I experience). The more research I investigated, the more overwhelmed I became with the “fixes”. Think positive, don’t be afraid, don’t judge yourself, don’t have unreasonable self-expectations, don’t hide... Rules.  This life is full of rules that define good and healthy living. I know the rules.

The problem is, I just don’t know how to do the rules. I want to do them, I just regularly find myself incapable.

I nearly threw my research and book notes away in disgust. But one thing led to another, and I found myself following a rabbit trail… of grace. That rabbit trail ended up forever changing my life, causing all the rules to fall away and be replaced by something better. Unconditional love and acceptance.

These are the things I wish someone had taught me from the very beginning- because this is all that matters.

  1. The law of God (the rules that define good and bad) are so lofty, beautiful, and demanding that no human can obey them perfectly.
  2. Jesus, who is God in human form, obeyed them perfectly.
  3. This was God’s message (i.e. the good news): “You can’t obey my perfect laws, but I will do it for you.” In His death and resurrection, God granted us His own perfection. 
  4. The goal of the Christian life is no longer perfect rule obeying.  It is not religiousness. It is simply to walk in faith that Jesus is our perfection. He is enough.
  5. Now, we use our limited human strength to love God and others, expecting nothing more from ourselves. We fall, we get back up again, we fall again- and we remain forever perfect in God’s eyes.

Actual Good News

This is really good news for someone who struggles with social anxiety. The root of social anxiety is a fear of judgment. According to the good news of Christ- I have already been judged. Perfect, in Christ. That makes it a whole lot easier to take social risks. To be transparent. To spend time with people who just might judge me. I have the confidence that my Creator disagrees wholeheartedly.

I am perfect. And so are you. Because Jesus is more than enough to establish and maintain my good standing.

And now my message to the world will forever be one of grace. Undeserved love. The source of all wellbeing. Grace changes your mind, your soul, and even your body. The highest benefit of grace is that it guarantees a place of honor for eternity next to our Father in heaven. But there are smaller, day to day benefits that flow from grace- stress reduction, less fear, optimistic thinking, lowered cortisol levels. All over wellbeing.

Graceology

It's a very counterintuitive journey. We once used all of our strength, exhausting ourselves to do good. Now, God's unconditional love flows into us, inspiring and strengthening us, enabling us to love and be loved in ways we could never achieve on our own. 

I plan to dedicate the rest of my life to investigating and sharing the kaleidoscope of benefits that flow from God’s unconditional love (through Jesus). I like to think of this venture as a study in Graceology- grace as it applies to every element of our wellbeing.

I hope you will join me on this journey. Feel free to contact me and tell me your story of grace.


  - Professional


• Psychology instructor at Klamath Community College, Oregon

• MA in Human Services, Liberty University (specialty: Marriage and Family)

• BS in Psychology, Liberty University

• Author: The Gift of Social Anxiety: Finding Rest in God's Grace (winner of the 2016 Oregon Christian Writer's Cascade Award)


  - Personal

• I've been married to my college sweetheart for over 25 years

• I have two adult children that I like very, very much

• I have a large, extended family including parents, grandparents, in-laws, and lots of cousins

• I live on a wheat and potato seed farm in a rural community

• I love solitude, the ocean, witty jokes, art and craft projects, local history, shy people, abandoned houses, and rain

• I am super excited to be loved by God completely apart from my own performance - in Jesus