Watching the Sunrise

Last week my video from the Wise Woman Summit received a wonderful response.  In 36 minutes I said pretty much everything I know about gender inequity.  That is what I speak about most often, which is okay with me.  I feel a strong call to talk about how much our culture is tilted in favor of white males.

On Saturday evening we had a wonderful service at Left Hand Church. Energy was high, the music was awesome, and I love speaking at home, where I am just a pastor and not a TED speaker.  It was a very good evening.

I love my life, speaking and writing on gender equity and working with Left Hand Church. The domestic and international speaking has been exciting and satisfying; the church is grounding.

But there is always a quiet voice whispering in my ear, reminding me that while my life is richly blessed, my family is still working through so much.  We all had a wonderful time together last weekend when Jonathan was out to preach at Left Hand.  As a family we are finding our new normal.

The grandkids are thriving.  My children and their spouses are doing well.  Cathy and I deeply respect and love each other, though we no longer are married. But challenges remain.  None of us knows what to do with Paul, who is with us but not with us.  I mean, Paul is in me and of me, yet not me.  My house is the repository of all our family photos, but none of them are on the walls.  They are all stored in boxes in the basement, waiting for some kind of assignment.  It is as though we are all waiting some kind of assignment.  That’s nothing new.  I’ve written about it before.

Jonathan and I were interviewed a month ago on the How To Make Love podcast with Laura Brewer.  I do a lot of podcasts, and I particularly like doing them with Jonathan.  Our Holy Writ podcast last year, about the novel Doubter’s Almanac, was one of my favorite interviews we have ever done.  This podcast was right up there.  Laura had heard us speak at TEDWomen, and her questions were thoughtful and probing.  I always love hearing Jonathan speak about our common life, though sometimes it is painful.  But pain that ends in hope is the stuff of life, so the interviews are redemptive, as is Jonathan’s book, She’s My Dad. 

I don’t write much about my children.  The girls lead busy lives.  Jael is a school administrator and Jana owns a catering business.  Jael’s husband, Kijana, is a senior software architect. Jana and Jael both live in the Denver area.  Jonathan and Jubi live in Brooklyn, where Jubi works as a personal trainer and also leads worship at Forefront Church, where Jonathan is the lead pastor.

Since our first workshop together at the Open Conference in the fall of 2016, Jonathan and I have been speaking together more and more.  Of course, our TED talk last November was quite an honor. It has had over one million views since it debuted on in January.  We will both be attending the TEDSummit in Edinburgh, Scotland in July.

Early this past Sunday I had a chance to listen to our How To Make Love podcast.  I sat on the couch and watched out the back window as the sun rose over Indian Mountain.  Jonathan’s voice sounded deep and authoritative.  Mine sounded like it always does, somewhere between male and female.

The son I heard was wise, thoughtful and articulate.  I thought, “I’d go to his church.  He’s smart. He’s done his work.  He knows shit.”  I saw the speaker and storyteller whose craft is so well honed.  The longer I listened, the more I realized how much I love Jonathan’s honesty, transparency, and relentless desire to do the right thing.

What I heard was Paul and Cathy’s son, someone who has taken the best of both of us and crafted a life of wisdom and grace.  As I listened, through my son I found access to Paul, the father who taught him a little about how to be the confident, strong man he is.

I saw the value of all those years as season ticket holders of our beloved New York Mets, when we sat in the Shea Stadium Loge, Section 23, Row D, seats 1-4.  I saw the fruit of climbing Long’s Peak together, twice.  I gave Paul some space at the table, and thanked him for doing his best to teach his son how to be a man of confidence and humility, committed to the ridiculous notion that the truth does set us free.

I was glad I headed to Stuff-a-Bagel all of those Saturday mornings and stood in line to get three bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches for my sleeping children.  I was grateful I had saved all of those frequent flyer and hotel points to take our annual winter trip to Florida.  I was glad I had always worked at least two and sometimes three jobs, helping my children feel like they fit in our affluent community on the south shore of Long Island.

This past week, as I enjoyed the presence of my children, their spouses and my grandchildren, I saw the fruit of my work as a male.  As i listened to Jonathan on the podcast, I was grateful for Paul.  I was grateful that Cathy and I did enough things right to enable our children to be the strong, independent people they are.

As I watched the sun rise over Indian Mountain Sunday morning, listening to the podcast and thinking about our weekend together, I began to catch a bit of a glimpse of the legacy of Paul.  And it was good.



Wise Woman Summit

An unusual post today.  Last week I was interviewed here in my own home by the wonderful women from the Wise Woman Summit.  The talk went live today.  It’s 36 minutes, but if you’re inclined to feel positively about my blog posts, you’ll probably like the video too.

A Week in the Life of Paula

I have not gotten my blog out every Tuesday morning of late, and I offer my apologies.  My life is a little hectic nowadays.  I like being busy.  Sometimes I even like it for the right reasons.  I can make a difference in the world and lessen people’s suffering. Other times I like it because it allows me to avoid the things I don’t want to deal with, kicking the can down the road. Just trying to be honest.  Just for fun, let me walk you through the last 10 days.

On Saturday evening, March 23, I preached at Left Hand Church, then preached three times the next morning at Denver Community Church.  The following morning I flew to Charlotte, then on Monday evening flew on to London to speak at Retail Week Live.

London was a delightful trip, though awfully short.  I arrived at about 10:00 Tuesday morning.  I never sleep on an airplane, even though I am in the lie flat beds of business class. I suppose it’s a waste of a lie flat bed, but I am not inclined to move back to coach just because I can’t sleep. After landing and enjoying a chance to freshen up at the American Airlines arrivals lounge, I headed to the convention center where the conference was being held.

After an afternoon meeting with the coordinator of Retail Week Live and a conversation with her about the 1300 attendees who would be coming to the conference, I got in a quick workout and finished my speech for the next morning.  I got to bed around 11:00 PM, having been awake for 36 hours.

Retail Week Live is for leaders of the top retailers in Europe.  The companies represented are well known all over Europe and in many cases, all over the world.  Wednesday morning I went over my talk several times before heading to the convention center.  I was the mystery speaker for the conference.  Only two or three people knew I was speaking.  For 15 minutes I spoke on gender equity, with a special focus on the good work front line sales workers do. (Yep, I flew to London to speak for 15 minutes.)  The audience responded wonderfully.  In their daily summary, the conference leaders wrote that I had “blown the roof off.”

I had a number of delightful conversations throughout the day on Wednesday.  I was moved by all the women who thanked me for validating their experience, and all the men who thanked me for my presentation. Whenever I speak with male corporate leaders, it is obvious most of them really want to get it right.  They want to respect and honor women as equals.  But as I said in my TEDx talk, “They just don’t know what they don’t know.”  When I speak and make them aware of their privilege, they respond with genuine gratitude.

I never saw that kind of openness among male evangelical leaders.  Of course, as Paula I have never spoken with them.  But when I was living and working among them, there was rarely a conversation about gender equity.  When you believe God has designated men as the leaders of the church, you are not going to think much about gender equity.  It is difficult for non-evangelicals to understand that kind of disregard for equal rights.  I always explain that you have to live within the rather narrow worldview of that community for it to make much sense.

After an evening dinner with the Retail Week Live staff and their amazing director, Hannah Tovey, I finally got a good night’s rest.  But bright and early Thursday morning I was on my way back to Heathrow and my flight to Philadelphia.  I was in England exactly 52 hours.

My flight back had been cancelled, so I was moved to a British Airways flight, giving me one last chance to fly on a 747 before they retire them in the coming year.  I had a business class seat that was quite private.  I could literally not see another person, other than the occasional flight attendant walking by.  The eight-hour flight gave me a chance to finish most of my book proposal.

The book is a memoir, with additional chapters on gender equity, gender and spirituality, gender and sexuality, and one chapter called Transgender 101.  Once we’ve chosen a publishing company, I will have about a year to write the book.

While I was in Philadelphia on Friday, I had a meeting with the new speakers agency that will be representing me.  I love the company.  It is female owned, with three amazing women sharing leadership.  I will introduce the agency to you soon.

My flight from Philadelphia back to Denver arrived around midnight on Friday night.  Though it was March 29, I had to drive through a snowstorm to get home.  Saturday I was up early putting finishing touches on the book proposal before sending the 79-page proposal to my agent.  Then around 4:00 I headed to church for our services at Left Hand. Jen, Aaron and I went to dinner afterwards, as we often do, and debriefed the service.  I love being at Left Hand Church.  I love our staff and I love our people.  The church is my grounding in the craziness that is my life.

Sunday I balanced the books for RLT Pathways, the counseling agency that Cathy and I own together, and compiled information needed by my new speakers agency.  Monday morning I was back at work.

It’s now Tuesday evening at about 11:00 PM.  I hope to post this blog entry before midnight.

So there you have it, ten days in the life of Paula.  Like I said, I live a kind of busy life.