You’re the reason I’m here.  Welcome.   

The fact that you are, likely means one of these things:

  • You are bone-weary in your spiritual journey and not sure if you should say so out loud–and you’re wishing there was something more/else
  • You are a cynic about Christian spirituality and are hoping for a good laugh
  • A link or web search randomly landed you here
  • You are hurt and disappointed by unmet expectations of community–not willing to connect in person yet not wanting to disconnect entirely either
  • You are one angry click, one epithet, one disappointment shy of turning away from the God who holds you
  • You and I have known one another in the past and you are curious about what in the world I am up to.

I am Gwen Shipley. I am Christian–which I say with the conviction of an alcoholic at her first Twelve-Step meeting. It’s as deeply seated in me to live life in a foggy, moralistic stupor as it is normal for a functional alcoholic to show up daily to work, intoxicated and only slightly judgment-impaired.

However, I have undergone a major shift of orientation: a transition from external compliance to internal consent. Since it is not just a traveled distance between two points, but a real thing of its own, I explore and write about it here, currently working on a book and other supporting materials around the same theme.

What to expect…

Spiritual formation relies heavily on the awareness of what has, what is and what can shape the nature of our relationship with and experience of God, which largely depends on my openness to God. So I’m always thinking about and looking for what helps us in that posture. I try to post a couple of times a week, plus or minus. You’ll find…

  • Hope, encouragement, laughter, lament…real life
  • Lists for those who can’t resist them
  • Formational perspectives on scripture
  • Seasonal series
  • The occasional rant for you to weigh in on
  • Updates on projects I’m working on
  • Stories of Freedom Finders
  • Links to friends I hope you’ll enjoy meeting
  • A few reviews–books, movies, videos
  • Original poetry and songs
  • A community with needs and longings as unique as your own
  • Most of all, healing and rest for your soul

…all to help you on your way.

The backstory…

I’ve been, by label, Christian for as long as I can remember, born into a delightful and devout family of faith. Culturally, Christian has come to mean many things–some very different from what I hear in Christ’s own invitation to life with God, so I am cautious with the term. Nonetheless, I keep it since it gives at least some initial point of reference for what you might encounter here. And it is why there are some things you might not encounter here. Like putting on a name tag at a networking event, I wear it but it may not mean much until we’re better acquainted. It is meant to be neither symbol, statement, nor disguise. It is simply the way I experience things to be.

While I am not ashamed of the Gospel, I am ashamed of what some [of us] have made of it  –and what we have allowed well-intentioned-but-other-than-Christ-centered religious ideals to make of us. This is less an accusation than a confession, since I am We, both victim and perpetrator. By Grace, I trust I am becoming less of both.

I was reared in an insidiously kind environment of Christian dualism, one that drew a clear distinction between the secular and the sacred. While there was nothing pretentious about our lives, there was an “other world-ly” aspect to our lives in the world that kept it all from translating into the real for me. Perhaps it could be characterized as a light case of Gnosticism. It was confusing to live it; it is equally so to explain it. So I’ll stop trying–for now.  The effect, however, is that into early adulthood, I lived in a safe, dreamy bubble of external compliance expecting that as I dotted each “i” and crossed each “t”, a successful, dynamic, imagined life–as defined by specific moral criteria ,would materialize as I had understood the promise. But, alas! ‘Twas not to be. Try as I might, life did not follow the script. Now what?

Fast forward to middle life when I finally reached my capacity to engage at the level necessary to comply in the ways required. I found myself off the beaten path in the weeds, hungry, thirsty and spent, where grace–read Grace–found me. Its ravenous appetite for redemption continues to consume every crumb of my existence, resulting in the passionate pursuit of a life lived fully present to God–body, mind and spirit, and the ability to love more freely.

I was raised Pentecostal, established my adult independence as a Charismatic, was heavily influenced by both Wesleyan and Reformed theologians, and degreed by a state university. My certification as a spiritual director is heavily Ignatian. Thus I find myself at the convergence of various streams of tradition and practice, in what I call “this vein of Christian thought and experience” most commonly referred to as Christian spiritual formation. What I know for sure is that we are loved by God in Whom all of life is lived, moves and has its being long before we become aware of it. No exlusions.

Offering up, in a variety of forms, what has been entrusted to me–musician, writer and spiritual director–my work is now focused on the integration of the interior life with one’s lived experience. I have the joy of listening, faciliating and celebrating as people recover from life’s wounds, uncover their true selves and discover what it means to be fully loved by God–not because I’ve mastered it, but because I continue to marvel at the miracle and mystery, and find great joy in sharing it.

For the curious…

  • The Pacific Northwest is home; born in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, the youngest of five
  • Recovering espresso fiend–an addiction easily acquired here
  • Spent many years as a worship leader and jazz pianist
  • Pickleball and volleyball are my fitness choices
  • Endorse & coach the 5 Essentials of The Daniel Plan for a whole life wellness framework.
  • Farm to fork–we garden a bit, and whole-foods cooking are normal here
  • Chronic migraines have been my nemesis, a condition apparently attributable to my gender and genetics, but exacerbated by my choices. Thankfully they are becoming less a factor over time as I have fought back with prayer, meds and lifestyle adjustments.
  • Fidgety if I have to sit through a full movie but I can read for hours–except I AM hooked on Downton Abbey and the NFL–Go Hawks!
  • Italy and England hold my heart IMG_20141021_152647_722 (1)
  • We have one of only 5 or 6 hop processing kilns of its kind in our region.
  • I’m an Enneagram 4 (with equally strong 3 & 5 wings), a Myers Briggs E/INFP (50/50 every time I test)
  • B.S. Social Sciences/Psychology, Central Washington University; Certificate Spiritual Direction, CFDM Northwest.
  • Mr. S, to whom I have been married all our adult lives, is rumored to be a saint. We share 3 daughters, 2 sons-in-law, 9 grand-children, 2 dogs and a cat, Eliot.

(Earlier atempts at blogging can be found here and here. Be nice…)

[Affiliate Disclosure: GwenShipley.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. In other words, it helps makes this work possible.]


3 thoughts on “ABOUT

  1. “Earlier writings . . . Be nice.” Made me smile.
    I’m also in the Writing 201: Poetry and thought I’d come by to see your tanka since I didn’t know what it is/was.

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