Women Rising: Learning to Listen, Reclaiming Our Voice Book Review

Women Rising: Learning to Listen, Reclaiming Our Voice by Meghan Tschanz

This is such a powerful and evocative book in that it names so many of the particular issues and the unearned privilege that U.S. American’s and Christians have long hid behind–contributing to systemic issues and oppressive harms that affect women around the world and in our own churches. She tells of meeting survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, and sex trafficking, and interfaces how men buying sex in a Thailand or Manilla bar speak of women as objects using the same words that men in churches do. This searing revelation provides an important systemic wake-up call that the words and language we use in day-to-day language to dehumanize can wreak havoc and displaying rotten fruit. She demonstrates well through numerous examples and anecdotes and statistics why the patriarchal vehicles of complementarianism and purity culture are so harmful and found at the same end of the spectrum of harm are sexual violence, porn, and trafficking.

In Women Rising, Author Meghan Tschanz tells a familiar story of the harm of purity culture which lends itself to rape culture, and the harm of patriarchy and toxic masculinity in the church. She names other systemic issues as she learns about herself and finds and reclaims her voice on an eleven-month mission trip. It’s not your typical story, but it is familiar. It’s not typical in that she names her privilege and social location, noting the journey of her own unlearning related to racism and white supremacy, and acknowledging those she learned from. (Austin Channing Brown, Layla F. Saad, Faitth Brooks)

She names her privilege and at the same time acknowledges growing up in a church culture that oppressed women and other marginalized groups. She boldly tells of the oppressions the church has caused and is complicit to this day. She draws powerful and vital connections as she draws us into her journey. She invites us into the self-reflection process in order that we might unlearn harm, and get involved in dismantling systems of harm and systems of oppression.

This book is so powerful, so unique in the way she models reclaiming your voice, speaking up, and balancing humility of leveraging her privilege for good and to do better in the fight against injustice, in the long arc of injustice against women (in particular, at the heart of this journey). Her journey is an important one and I highly encourage you to read this book, I heartily endorse it and give it 5/5 stars without any hesitations. I just know it will help more women get free from the lies and harm of the patriarchy in the church today, just as Rachel Held Evans, Sarah Bessey, and Carolyn Custis James helped her in her journey. (And deeply relatable as Carolyn Custis James and Sarah Bessey were lifelines for me. Carolyn Custis James wrote the forward and I couldn’t be more thrilled that they linked arms together. Custis James is a phenomenal theologian and advocate for women. )

Women Rising is faithful to the message of Jesus and liberation and in the spirit of so many fiery and faithful women and men across history.

Find the book at your local indie or help boost the author on amazon:

Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys, Book Review

Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way by Richard Twiss

Absolutely necessary, incredibly thorough, essential reading if you want to understand what decolonizing Christianity looks like, understand the violent history of missions in this country, and the beauty of contextualization and storytelling.

Dr. Richard Twiss, Sicunga Lakota, was an Indigenous leader and organic intellectual, who passed away in 2013. His book was published posthumously; the fruit and labor of his dissertation. He addresses the violence of damaging, genocidal four-hundred-year history of colonization in North America, including the erasure of Native and Indigenous cultures, rituals, traditions, ceremonies, languages, and music and dance, to name a few. The violent imposition of Christendom and White Supremacy forced assimilation and loss of their Native identity. He shares history, and his own story, in addition to the stories of others he spoke to and listened to for his dissertation research, which he includes.

The reader gets to listen in to a conversation of Indigenous leaders from different tribes following their experience together in a sweat lodge ceremony. They share common stories of mystic encounters with Jesus and their experience integrating their faith in Jesus with their Indigenous, First Nations traditions. Another sadly too common thread was the experience of conservative evangelicalism (which Twiss calls Fundamentalism’s first cousin) continuing to function oppressively and calling their sacred traditions and culture demonic. Native pastors and non-native leaders alike resisted contextualization that would integrate their holistic traditions with an integral mission that brings shalom, healing, and liberation.

He says, “I also believe critical contextualization must theologically–and specifically hermeneutically–include a view towards justice, notions of shalom, harmony, and spiritual well-being.” (p 105)

He makes it clear that he is challenging “the status quo of Native ministry, mission, theology, and ecclesiology that had been circulating for many years.” (75)

It is important that we, as American Christians, even those on the fringe of Christianity or as followers of Jesus understand this history so that we can do better. We must decolonize our ideas of ministry, mission, and church. It is essential.

Additionally, for those who are familiar with liminal space, or occupy the fringe, margins of Christianity, it has a message for us too. To be encouraged in our pursuit of a deconstructed, decolonized faith, in pursuit of shalom, wholeness and liberation for all. Culture and differences matter and should be celebrated for “the gospel dignifies every culture.”

View all my reviews on GoodReads

Front Porch Open Mic in Upland, CA


I’m excited to share that I am hosting an Open Mic coming up very soon! If you’re anywhere near Upland, CA I would love to have you. Sing, recite or read poetry, share a short story and join us @newroomcommunity for Open Mic! Front Porch is our theme based on my love for @joy__williams song by the same name. Let me know any questions you have or follow the link to sign up for 1-2 slots!



What: Open Mic

When: Saturday, February 29th, 6pm

Where: 262 N. Euclid Ave, Upland, CA @ New Room Community

Theme: Front Porch / Deconstructing / Reconstructing faith / prayer / spirituality etc. 

Looking forward to hearing what you have to share!


Lenten Yoga in Upland, CA


Take up the practice of Yoga for Lent and join us for six weeks of gentle, hatha yoga and contemplative prayer.

Make sure to bring a mat and water. Yoga blocks if you have them, and a blanket or throw, or extra layer for the end of class.

No experience required. All bodies welcome. Donations of any size appreciated.

Lenten Yoga
Thursday evenings at New Room Community
from February 27th – April 2nd (2020)
Located at 262. N. Euclid Ave, Upland, CA

Contact me with any questions you may have, or visit NewRoomCommunity.org to learn about our values.

Call of the Mourning Dove Book Review


I received this lovely book to review and got to enjoy the first part of it just after I completed my grad school applications back in October and my nephew and I went off to the park so he could play and I relaxed with this book, The Call of the Mourning Dove: How Sacred Sound Awakens Mystical Unity by Stephanie Rutt. The title and subtitle piqued my interest enough to want to check it out with my musical background. It is fascinating and very thorough. It will be most interesting to those curious about contemplative prayer, the mystics, finding commonalities between interfaith, and those who identify with “spiritual but not religious”. Those who are not open to any of those terms will likely not enjoy this.

It does run a bit academic in some ways, but it’s not difficult to read. Stephanie has done a great deal of research here, which is evident both throughout the book, and by the lengthy bibliography. It is difficult to read if you’re in a hurry. It’s a book that I started back in October and would have liked to read a bit at a time, savoring in it. Now that I’m rushing to post this, I wish I had taken more time. I would like to share a few excerpts with you, as I always find that helps get a sense of what it’s about and what to expect.

“The Sonic Trilogy of Love becomes a paradigm of unification, capable of holding the healthy tension that exists between particularity defining religious difference and the ubiquitous mystical experience engendering religious unity. The Sonic Trilogy of Love invites all seekers, one and all, home.”

“As seekers across faith traditions engage the sound of God in spiritual practice, each mya enter the portal into their own unmitigated experience of the divine. Whether mentally engaging a sacred word in contemplative prayer or chanting aloud according to an ancient script, the fruits of practice begin to answer a longing, a not-so-silent cry within, as the sound of God reverberates through the inner chambers, tuning and awakening seekers to that which was previously unknown. Wondrously, if only in passing moments, seekers may start to get just a glimpse of that which is beyond understanding, to suddenly see themselves as God sees them. And if so, nothing is the same.”

Sound is the thing that Stephanie calls the common denominator of prayer, meditation, chant, and song. Sound.

Hunger for unity among the spiritual but not religious (which by the way if you’re reading this–that concept is not something that can be easily dismissed, in fact, I relate much more to this group than those who seek to distance or even to dismiss them. There is something to be said of celebrating our differences, but if we cannot also come together to celebrate in what we do have in common, then we have lost a great deal.

“Spiritual but not religious” are searching for a divine unity unbound from. constraints they perceive are imposed by existing faith traditions. And as more and more seekers are exploring across faith traditions, more are becoming aware of the commonalities related to our personal spiritual quests human and divine, past and present.”

“As an interfaith theologian, I am in constant search of that which unites the world’s faith traditions while, simultaneously, seeking to respect, indeed celebrate, what differentiates. It has been my observation that religious beliefs tend to differentiate while religious experience tends to engender resonance.”

“Traditionally religious practitioners continue to feel those reverberations of the sound of God emanating from their sacred texts, as perhaps the have long experienced. And practitioners can also experience the sound of God only now emanating from the sacred texts and practices across faith traditions.” 

“Engaging the Sonic Trilogy of Love, seekers may, indeed, encounter that still small voice by engaging those very sacred sound practices embedded in the ancient religious canaons. For in doing so, the transformation effects of sacred sound open a portal into an unmitigated expereince of the divine.”

And that was just from the beginning of the book!

Stephanie continues and quotes and references many wonderful mystics, and desert mothers, and saints, and other figures and mystics from other faiths as well. Here are a few that I enjoyed:

“St. Therese of Lisieux declared, “I am the atom of Jesus,” and the Indian mystic Kabir expressed, “All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.” And with this profound awareness, we find our heart and God’s heart, more often, pulsing together. Though keenly aware of our particularity, we now start to see the face of God everywhere–in our neighbor and in the flower. This is how the Love has its way with us, transforming us and leaving us not where we began–in unity with all.”

Meister Eckhart: “To gauge the soul we must gauge it with God, for the Ground of God and the Ground of the Soul are one and the same…The knower and the known are one.”

Rumi said “there is a place that is made of silence, a place where the whispers of the heart…take place..? a place where voices sing your beauty, a place where every breath carves your image in my soul.”

Many familiar themes reflected contemplative prayer, including some great excerpts from Father Thomas Keating, this concept of sacred word that I teach in my classes for Centering Prayer.

“And we too, as Lovers entering the Sonic Trilogy of Love, The Love, sacred sound, come in contact with that germinal higher part of ourselves, that something “more”, our Beloved, God. And graciously, as a result of our newly found awareness within, we may start to experience our own unique practical consequences without manifesting in daily life in service to a greater good.”

In the Sonic Trilogy of Sound, the Lover, practitioner, through engaging Love, the sacred sound of God, may, indeed, experience the dominance of this religious view and, in such moments, unexpectedly, become a seer of the infinite, seeing into the whole of things and finding only the miraculous, the Beloved, God.”

“God has the ability both to be present here, immanent in this fragiel world, and at the same time transcendent, beyond what we beings in bodies on our small globe can imagine.” 

“Love is justice. It is not necessarily a happy feeling or romantic attachment. Love is a way of being in the world, not necessarily an emotional affect.” 

“However, it is important to know that we cannot will such moments. We can only create the conditions to invite and allow them with our intention.”

In her compelling chapter on Love as Sacred Sound, Stephanie demonstrates a deep connection not just of the Abrahamic faiths, but Hinduism and Sanskrit as well, showing the connection between Hebrew and Sanskrit, as well as Aramaic and Arabic, and she gets into the vibrations of the syllables and references the Genesis 1:1 and how creation was spoken into existence. Growing up around linguists, I find this all extremely and exquisitely fascinating.

“As Jesus spoke in Aramaic, it is important to emphasize the relationship of this ancient language to Hebrew.”

“Christ is the center of the universe. He is the center of humanity. He is the center of every human being.” As she quotes Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “With ever the same brilliance in all, Christ shines as a light at the heart.”

If any of these excerpts lit you up, you may take that as a good indication that you want to read it, I can recommend it. And now, back to grad school. Enjoy the book!

The Call of the Mourning Dove on Amazon
Stephanie Rutt’s Website
Tree of Life School on Facebook
Tree of Life School on Twitter

About the author: 

Stephanie Rutt is founder and presiding minister of the Tree of Life Interfaith Temple in Milford, NH. She received her DMin from Andover Newton Theological School, now Andover Newton Seminary at Yale, where her thesis, the basis for this book, won the Frederick Buechner Prize for Excellence in Writing. She is the creator of the Tree of Life Interfaith Seminary, author of several additional books, and has appeared on the TEDx stage.

Mid-July Reflections on a Monday


This year has been about looking forward and making moves and steps and building on from this foundation of healing and starting over. It’s been a slow road, so the occasional reminders of how far I’ve come are vital.


In yet another round of “my body reminds me” that at this time back in 2012 put on a full coffee gig show, I packed my little Toyota Corolla full, said my goodbyes and lept into the great adventure that I thought Chicago would be.

I drove across the country, enjoying the journey, only to arrive with a sense of unease. Welcomed into the proximity of a master manipulator, following his advice, getting the lay of the land.

It didn’t take long for him to completely ruin my life and turn it upside down, but I wouldn’t realize something was really wrong for another year and a half.

And another 2 years until I had unraveled enough of his hold on me to begin to ask the necessary questions and decide to walk away.

This leaving took tremendous courage and support. But it also meant I had to trust myself and lean into my own intuition.

Finally being free and the process of recovering from spiritual trauma and gaslighting and untangling from toxic theologies that harm women has been a vitally important journey but it has not been easy.

2016 was the year I finally left the abuse and drove off in a truck and moved in and became my nephew’s nanny, and I’m so grateful for all the time we’ve enjoyed together.

I boldly declared this the year of thriving and indeed I have felt the golden glow of the sunflower metaphor. I’m happy and content. I’m still making moves and leaping into the unknown and exploring new avenues and pursuing grad school. I’m growing and honing my skills as a teacher and mentor.

I’m excited to see where the second half of this year holds and will continue to dream big and count my blessings.

My Celtic Christian Journey Video

My Celtic journey began with a trip to Colorado this Spring for the Colorado School of Celtic Consciousness and Heartbeat Pilgrimage taught by John Philip Newell, and my first year. Eager to return again next year for year two. Enjoy this glimpse into year one as I spent a few days in the beautiful Red Feather Lakes area of Colorado mountains.

My Red Sea Road Day


Today (May 27, 2019) is the Celebration of my Red Sea Road – Exodus day. My liberation day. My get the hell out of there day.

To know me is to know that milestones and anniversaries are a pretty big deal to me. This is one of those days.

I began putting miles between myself and my manipulating spiritual, emotional abuser.
Literally packed up a uhaul with the help my yoga teacher and some of their friends.


A city that I loved, unfortunately, was too much of a reminder that I couldn’t be there any longer.

I had long run out of reasons to stay. The air I was breathing had become toxic ever since the day I arrived. Maybe the nerves I felt arriving were an early indicator that something was not right. Maybe the tears I cried every time we had a conversation were an indicator that something was not right. Maybe the tension and confusion that built up in my body because “do I listen to God or the pastor?” was making me sick.

Oh, but don’t worry they just wanted me to repent and recant for calling out spiritual abuse. The ugliest, most awful email I’ve ever read and received, was full of the very manipulation they were denying.

My physical symptoms were undeniable. The wear on my psyche, my heart, my soul, and my mind and body.

Just do what you’re told. Just be the good little church girl, your voice isn’t valued here. Your gifts as a worship leader aren’t needed, your skills, your training, and your church music degree. It was like I didn’t even exist.

You will be condescendingly criticized, belittled, betrayed, manipulated and gaslit.

So yeah, I know what it feels like to leave, and I know what it feels like to be excommunicated. Only, I never understood why they felt like they had to have the last word…

A Brief Timeline:

midori IMG_9434

*I moved to Chicago in the Summer of 2012
*I found yoga in April 2014 – yoga saved my life.

*Visited my sister on Memorial Day Weekend 2015 – This was beginning of the end of the spell I was under. I was criticized and warned against visiting my pregnant sister by my abuser. On my own long weekend, which I paid for. I mentioned this particular time further in this post.

short video clip of Apollo Chorus & Northwester students rehearsing Mahler for our Northwestern University performance, followed by a performance in Downtown Chicago on Sunday.

*I left Chicago on Memorial Day 2016, just like a Red Sea parted, God made a way for me to get out. The day after performing with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, a dream come true, and the best way to leave on a high note.  Pictured, my view from the stage, my Backstage pass wristband, and after the performance with a couple of my favorite kiddos, with the stage behind us.  The same stage where I saw Andrew Belle, the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, and Idina Menzel the previous fall. mahler choir.jpg


AND NOW, 3 years after leaving

I am free.
I am whole.
I am fully alive.
I am healing.

I am a vocal advocate against spiritual abuse.
I help women reconnect with their bodies.
I sing regularly and am a valued part of my worship team.
I am writing songs, and finding my sound. I hope to have some coffee shop gigs later this summer or early fall. I hope to one day record music for television and get paid for it. I want to compose a choral piece for my women’s choir to sing. I want to write an orchestral symphony or suite.

I celebrate and savor life, delighting in the beauty found in each new day, and practicing gratitude. I practice nonjudgment and self-compassion on hard days and allow myself to feel, and go at my own unique pace. I journal and reach out to friends. I am connecting with old friends and new and building new relationships that are rooted in wholeness, being fully myself.

I am creating art, words, music, and resources for healing, spiritual agency, and wholeness.

I am a yoga teacher, integrated soul mentor, songwriter, and auntie.


Harmonizing and drawing from my background studying art, music, worship, theology, and yoga, I teach gentle yoga classes and empower women to love their bodies in the present tense.

Interwoven with my passion for social justice, peacemaking, and spiritual agency, preventing spiritual abuse and speaking truth to power, paired with my personal story of awakening, departure from, healing and recovery of spiritual trauma by employing spiritual and personal agency.

Synthesizing contemplative Christian practices to help you live an integrated faith & embodied spirituality, rooted in love, free of religious platitudes, spiritual bypass, or legalism.

I believe deeply that we are not powerless. My desire is that you would feel less broken, more empowered, and discover your own inner wholeness. Loving our bodies is a vital element of a healthy, integrated soul.


I am just getting started. I have risen from the ashes, and will not be silent.

My sacred calling is to create, nurture, and heal. Making space for other women to embody and integrate their faith, find healing, and embrace the sacredness that is within.

Will you celebrate with me? 

the feminine wound

I didn’t even know it had a name. I didn’t even know if other women felt the same way. I have done a lot of my own healing and acknowledging of this wound before I knew it was a collective wound. Centuries worth.

There is a feminine wound and it can’t be healed in a masculine, patriarchal setting. It begins by acknowledging that religion and empire harms and hurts women.

Keeps us bound in corsets of their choosing. Suffocating and unable to take deep breaths, we think it’s all there is. Because some people decided to interpret holy words in one way.


Author of Eve’s Revenge calls it the original sin of being born female.

Did you hear that? The guttural ache? The knife through the heart?

That so-called church fathers gathered to debate if women even had souls. (Are we infuriated yet?!)

This is why I created Your Flesh is a Poem. Because before we can heal and find wholeness we must acknowledge the ache. We must recognize that which has hurt us so deeply to have affected centuries and decades of women.


We address, acknowledge and dismiss what insults our very own soul. Unravel, reexamine what we’ve been told and conditioned to believe and shake free and cut the ties of these awful, suffocating corsets. Reclaim our god-given sacredness, lives, agencies, voices, bodies, and power.

And we will do this with art, journaling and creating self-expression pieces to process the wounds and the hurt and the anger we feel about this. We will dialogue and talk and think out loud, and share together as we begin to heal.

Then we get to reclaim and rediscover what is life-giving and what gives us true nourishment for integrated wholeness and embodiment and loving our whole selves.

Because I truly believe that your flesh is a poem and that the sacredness of your body and soul is not conditional.

your flesh what's included flat lay may3

Full details are available here: bit.ly/yourfleshapoem.  The 5-week creative journey includes mentoring, a workbook, journaling reflections and prompts, weekly teaching, meditations, and yoga. On sale now for $59, or with a sliding scale. A $250 value, includes a 1-hour mentoring session valued at $50. You are welcome in this space and I want to remove any barriers keeping you from joining. Begins June 3rd and I’m so excited to invite you to this journey of healing and wholeness.

For a walkthrough of an outline of the 5-weeks, watch this video here: https://www.facebook.com/lorijoanneyoga/videos/433835430515376/

And part two with more logistics what to expect / time / cost etc.



Your Flesh is a Poem

your flesh is a poem course logo

Your Flesh is A Poem is an Online Course:
A Guided & Creative Journey & Integrated Spirituality
of the Body Designed to:





Practical, creative, expressive & embodied. Engaging the senses, your heart & emotions, your body, your spirit, & your mind. Interwoven with some of my own personal art as well as other artists & my own journey, philosophy, & theology.

your flesh what's included flat lay may3

This 5-week online course is truly a creative, art-inspired journey,
including mini art assignments, art appreciation including poetry, literature, fine art, photography, sculpture & more.  Journaling prompts, group sharing in a small intimate setting, spiritual practices, & embodiment practices to bring healing & wholeness & freedom,  live fully alive, & love your very own body.


*$24 discount available for Lori’s Letter subscribers & sliding scale available based on need. 


click here for full course details & registration