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Peacemaking: A Lifestyle of Bridge-Building




I like peace. I’m a huge fan of it. We even named one of our kids “Peace”. I’m not naive to think it doesn’t take work, but I’m also not such a pessimist to believe it isn’t possible…building a bridge is a complex process, but engineers have shown us for years, it’s not an impossible feat to bridge a gap.



“Peacemaking is the mission of God and central to our vocation as followers of Christ.” – Jon Huckins

And, “Conflict is not the problem…it’s our inability to navigate conflict transformatively.”

“The Problem: Peacemaking has been disintegrated from our understanding of who God is,
what God has done in Christ, and what He is doing here and now.” – TGIP

This weekend I was in the Twin Cities, soaking in the colors, enjoying some time with family, and meeting up with new and old friends, two of which I’d like to share about in this post.

Jer Swigart and Jon Huckins have become brothers to my peacemaker’s heart. These guys started The Global Immersion Project. The mission of TGIP makes my heart skip a beat. These guys foster safe spaces around the table for seeming “enemies” to come together and hear one another’s stories. In the Middle East they gather Christians, Muslims, and Jews, to learn from one another…there are no weapons, just a common meal and the sharing of hearts. They are actively involved in the refugee crisis, too, building relationships on the ground. Jon and Jer are the real deal and, in my personal opinion, the content of their message is something everyone needs to hear.

It was humbling to be part of an initiative they facilitated at Woodland Hills Church this weekend, sponsored by Pastor Greg Boyd. When Jason and I lived in Minneapolis years ago, we went to WHC and loved the community and teaching, there, so this gathering of peacemakers and Dr. Boyd sharing was just a tad epic for my peacemaker mind: BLOWN.

Friday night Greg Boyd laid the foundation for peace through the lens of biblical scripture and a peacemaking Christ. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised because I’m familiar with the heart of his teaching, but I was kind of blown away to hear these truths from a Christian pastor in America because the trend of some church leaders and pastors, in my personal experience, has been leaning more and more towards fear, the end of the world, and American nationalism lately rather than the Kingdom of God, His love over us, and the call to live and love our enemies and neighbors like Christ did and modeled for us to do. 

I guess it was just a breath of fresh air…

The funny thing is, Jer and Jon were encouraged by it, too…because, not only do they facilitate these incredible spaces where people gather to hear the hearts of others, but usually, first, they have to be the ones who lay out the biblical call for peacemaking, even in churches, where love is supposed to be preached.

I came away from the weekend with a few treasures:

  • deepened friendships and new ones
  • a free burrito bowl from the generous couple, Adam and Bri from Des Moines, who paid for mine ahead of me
  • renewed passion for building bridges of peace with women, personally and vocationally, wherever God leads
  • my eyes, heart, and hands to be open to everyday peacemaking, whether to neighbors, strangers, family, or friends
  • encouragement to stop trying to please others or care what this or that group thinks…it’s not my job to make everyone happy…and that making peace makes waves.


(photo credits: Foundry and Unsplash, pixabay)


On Peacemaking and Bridge Building

My personal mission statement includes “peacemaking” and “bridge-building,” as does the mission statement of my non-profit organization, Bevy. Would I compare myself to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for these reasons? I most certainly would not compare myself to him, a man I’ve already outlived in age, but one who greatly surpassed me as far as impacting the world in his cut-short life…but I’d love to think we share many of the same passions.

What can I say? It’s in my DNA. I, too, was born a middle-child, so I’m hard-wired to build bridges and believe the best about people. On some occasions, it’s gotten my heart all twisted up, not to mention bruised and discouraged, but then I trace my heart and DNA back to the day I gave my life over to God’s grace, receiving His unconditional love through the gift of knowing and trusting and following Jesus Christ. I rub my eyes, lift up my head, and my perspective is renewed as I recall the words spoken on a mountainside a long time ago…words of hope, truthful words, words of life from the mouth of God and written in red letters.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. – Matthew 5:9

I’m not going to try to find a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or pretend I am familiar with every one of his articles, books, and speeches he ever wrote, post it here, just this one time, on this day in particular, and then go my merry way, not living out the other days of the year with the same passionate intention.

THAT would be disrespectful and dishonoring…his legacy and life matter more than one day in January. Dr. King was not my Savior but, because of how he lived and died, he is remembered and will always have my respect.

In this one life we’ve been given, we’ll all be remembered for something. For me, I hope it’s as a lover, peacemaker, and bridge-builder for God’s kingdom. But it can’t just be something I hope to be remembered for…I must live it, even on the days that seem mundane, my circle of influence feels small, or those days when the news reports feel like setbacks and shackles.

So, what did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I have in common? Well, after his name was changed at age 5, we share “L” as our middle initials. And, speaking of “middle” I can’t help but wonder if part of his passion was hard-wired from his birth order, as well, maybe practicing on his siblings as I did while growing up. I love pecan pie, too, but I can’t say it is my favorite. And, we were both pastors, but, ironically as a black man in the South, he had more freedom at the pulpit than I as a woman do…but that’s another post.

Anyway, you know I’m kind of joking, but the truth is, who wouldn’t want to be able to grasp for something to have in common with such a world changer as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? But let’s be honest, there will never be over 900 streets named after me, or you, or you, if we aren’t making peace on our own streets, in our neighborhoods, within our very own relationships, in our churches, in our places of work, even with our own hearts.

My mom told me before she died to be careful of peacemaking because not everyone is interested in making peace. I was blown away. Who wouldn’t want peace?

But the truth is, some people fight so loud to be heard, they can’t hear anyone else. They fight so loud to be right, they don’t take the time to listen and learn.

And that, that’s where Dr. King and I share a similar heart. I care about people’s stories. I want to hear those stories, not just share my own. I’m not trying to find all our commonalities, but rather learn and wrestle and continue to love others as I’m challenged to hear and grow because of our differences. And dreams? His choice of words for his epic speech resonate with me on a daily basis…I, too, am a dreamer…not of the daydreaming type, but dreams where each one of us is free to flourish in the unique, beautiful, God-designed ways in which we were created, all for God’s glory…not flourishing AT one another, but alongside each other, like a beautiful symphony playing an incredible masterpiece!

I believe we were all created in God’s image, not just certain sexes or branches or sects or pockets of humanity, but all of us, and then God said it was good…it’s controversial, obviously, the wording where it says, “For God so loved the world…” I can see where it leaves some wondering maybe which hemisphere or continent or color or gender or country He meant when He said, “World…”

Peacemaking entails entering into the story of another human being. It requires at minimum, listening, and at the core, empathy. The most important questions we can ask ourselves are, “How would that make me feel?” Or “How would I feel if that happened to me?” They are vulnerable, authentic, sometimes gut-wrenching questions and a little selfish, if you think about it, but asking requires heart and one that will most certainly tear down walls as it unfolds the beauty of empathy on the road to bridge-building.

I believe MLK followed Jesus’ example of peacemaking, which is why it was controversial 1,960 some years later. The Pharisees hated Jesus’ style, and this nation’s politics hated Dr. King’s. But when our eyes and hearts are opened to the systems of the world and their brokenness, and we know Whose we are, being “controversial” is never the motivator, Love is, and Love Always Wins.


Why Voting Matters

Americana, pixabay user jill111


On the 4th of July, when I was a little girl, I remember decorating my tricycle with streamers and riding down the middle of main street in a sea of red, white, and blue.

We ate cherries until our fingers were stained and didn’t notice the sun tanning our noses or shoulders as we spent hours running through the sprinklers, doing wheelbarrow races, and eating hot dogs and watermelon until our bellies were round.

Despite the exhaustion a normal day might have brought, we pressed on as we threw sweatshirts over our stuck-on swimsuits and headed to the river to take in the fireworks up and down the banks, getting twice the show as the bright bursts reflected on the water’s surface.

Finally, after the excitement came to an end, my dad would peel my sleepy body off his shoulder and tuck me into bed, for what had easily been an epic 18 hour day in the mind of a child.

The memories are wrapped up in all sorts of warm feelings, thick with nostalgia, happiness, and the carefree existence of a kid growing up in middle-class white America around the day this nation celebrates its independence from a world across an ocean where our ancestors either faced existences worth escaping or sought new lives worth living apart from oppressive monarchies.

However, this nostalgic remembrance is not the whole story of how I was born into a “free country,” where I have the right to vote and continue making it free for everyone. [Read more…]

Do You Suffer from Paralysis by Analysis?

photo: pixabay user/publicdomainusers 17917

My husband will press buttons on his keyboard…

…buttons or tabs or keys he may not know what they are there for, but he presses them to find out what they do.

You guys, the thought of this has me over here breathing in a paper bag! [Read more…]


As a writer, speaker, and thought leader, Adrienne invites others to candidly explore fresh perspectives relating to God and humanity by relating personal stories in an honest, authentic, and intentional way.

In 12 years of writing online, my topics have varied from season to season. Check out the drop down menu for more samples.

My favorites are:

  • theology
  • grief
  • spirituality and scripture
  • women’s empowerment
  • everyday peacemaking
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • friendship
  • travels
  • community advocacy
  • and a little bit of this and that.


I Choose Life


Me and Bobby circa 1978-ish

Oh my, God! I just did one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I took a baton that felt prematurely passed, and I’m going forward with it, because retreating isn’t an option. Stopping and raising my fist to the sky and screaming, “WHY?!” won’t alter time or the impending outcome, it won’t make this pain disappear or life suddenly make sense.

So I’ll embrace the pain, kind of walk through the side ache, so to speak…and I will press on.

This morning I soaked my Dad’s t-shirt for the last time with tears mixed with deep grief and appreciation that he has been my Dad on this earth. [Read more…]

I Had a Dream


Right before waking up this morning, I dreamt a friend and I were standing in the middle of a four-lane road with cars flying by in either direction. We were discussing the vital importance of practicing the act of writing for 20 minutes everyday, no matter what…

And then I woke up

Prior to waking up and prior to standing in the middle of the road, where I was, incidentally, holding a vintage typewriter under one arm, I had been at a beautiful gathering of writers and journalists who were sitting at tables together, sharing and listening. [Read more…]

Who is Invited to the Table?

A year ago when we sold our house and stuff and embarked on this journey as The Graveswolds, God put two words on my heart: GATHER and TABLE. I said, “Really, Lord!? You are teaching us about hospitality, but we don’t even have a house OR A TABLE?!”

And He said, “You don’t need those to experience hospitality. Wherever you go, gather around tables with friends and strangers and break bread. Share your hearts and listen to those gathered. Do this often. This is Kingdom Come. This is the work of peacemaking.”

I’m sorry I haven’t spoken up sooner, at least not in my writings or a more formal venue. I honestly thought my voice and heart didn’t matter on a scale other than loving others and practicing peacemaking in the day to day.

I’ve rethought that a bit…and my voice and heart matter big time, just as much as yours!

I’ve grappled with these feelings, and a deep down knowing, for likely my whole life. The last several years they have resurrected, and too many “coincidences” and gut feelings have “fallen into place.” When I was a kid growing up in Arizona, there were reminders everyday, but since life seemed peaceable, I wasn’t sure what to do with how I felt or the things I wondered. It just was what it was and life kept going…my life kept going, at least.

Specifically, these feelings resurfaced when I found myself in Auckland, New Zealand and Australia, last year on holiday, and again, just a few weeks ago. I walked the streets freely, my accent the only thing distinguishing me from the locals at first glance, and that, only if I used my voice. I sat stunned on a park bench one day, overlooking the bustle, watching the swells of people, diverse, colorful and living, thinking of tensions around the world and back home on American soil. And I can’t say it any other way as I thought,

“Holy shit! Some Europeans just went all over the whole freaking world and started ‘discovering’ other places to live, in spite of whoever lived there first…”

Not only that, they swung by Africa and other countries and continents to do a little “shopping” on their way there, for a “workforce” to make their dreams come true. What the what?! #$%^&*?


A bumper sticker on the back of a car we saw while recently in Australia.

As a kid, celebrating Thanksgiving and learning about the earlier days of the “discovery of the New World” and the founding of the United States, my young heart wrestled with some key, un-ignorable logistics.

Wait…people were already here, so really, did Columbus ‘discover’ a New World?”

I remember a commercial with a Native American chief atop his beautiful horse, overlooking pollution, a tear streaming down his cheek, and my guts hurt. Every single day of high school, and then some, I drove across an Indian “Reservation,” past government-issued housing, to get from my custom home to classes and activities. I pondered, too, the very real possibility that maybe some of my German blood could have been traced to the brutally hateful side of things in the world wars, but hoped they had sheltered or helped, and seen the deception, instead of the devastating alternative. I wondered if any of my earlier Stateside relatives had befriended Natives or rallied for or against slavery in America’s history, or civil rights, which crowd they followed, or if they blazed trails of healing instead. I hoped distant relatives had loved well as much as it depended on them…


Me, circa 1977, leaning against our house that was an old hunting lodge my parents remodeled, along the banks of the Maumee River in Ohio.


I am a vanilla white, mixed breed American girl, born and raised in the United States. From word of mouth, as well as DNA testing, my bloodline includes: German, French, Swiss, English, Irish, Scottish, early Egyptian Jew, and 2.67% caveman… (“23andme” is an interesting way to learn about genetics from a medical standpoint, as well as an historical one). These things don’t define me, but they are part of who I am today, no matter how far removed I am from them.

My family moved to Arizona in 1978 to be closer to relatives. Had my family personally removed the Natives from the Phoenix metro in order to move there? No. We didn’t. We simply moved into the neighborhood, just as we had on the riverbanks of Ohio where we found exquisite Native tools and arrowheads, and, as an adult, I’m aware of this now, mindful of this, conscious of the fragmented reality that my freedom to move about wherever I want, to vacation to the ends of the earth, to drive and fly here and there, have come at a cost.

I’m a peacemaker. Why were there battles in the first place? And if someone “won”, that means others lost, and I don’t really think we have “enemies” since our battle is not with flesh and blood, soooooo, what does that really entail? What happens to the “losers?” Is there a better way to do all this? Is anyone actually speaking to each other or are WE all just pulling weapons on one another, pointing fingers, erecting walls, or corralling people into segregated groups, heaping label after label after stereotypical label on each other?

One thing I know…we have hurt one another. WE. There is no “us” or “them” but WE. And WE belong to each other. WE are a family of humans who cannot choose the members. WE ARE FAMILY. But this God-breathed human family is hurting. We may not have family trees to point a finger at who the bad relatives were versus the good ones, but the human family has a common trunk in the Tree of Life and the breath of God, and somewhere in the Garden WE began distinguishing, deciding, and judging between each other rather than belonging to each other.

I’m from a mixed bag of a lot of history…none of us knows all the specifics on how our blood has been woven into this world’s pain. I know I’m not a racist, nor do I have ill will towards anyone, but the reality is, not knowing what to do about the broken system doesn’t bring healing if I don’t do anything at all. If I’m going to be completely honest with you and myself, I can hope and wish and pray all I want that my ancestors were trailblazers of peace, but here I am today, comfortable in society in 2015 while heartache abounds on every side, so there’s been a breakdown somewhere along the line.

It’s not a matter of pointing fingers…we all have logs in our own eyes. WE have ALL hurt someone at some point, just as WE have all been hurt. Instead, it’s simply saying, “I am sorry. And I forgive you. I’m responsible for my life and actions and how I see and treat others. Help me understand…will you please tell me your story?”

I think TODAY is as good a day as any to start trailblazing peace and love. It starts with US…you and me. WE must stop waiting on systems to clean up the messes of our ancestors, no matter the color of our skin or our dark histories. Our SOULS run deeper than systems. We each must take responsibility for loving others well. Our present state of being is not without context.

The quote at Hemingway's in Manly Bay, Australia, the night I met a friend for dinner.

The quote at Hemingway’s in Manly Bay, Australia, the night I met a friend for dinner.

Have you ever heard the statement, “Can’t we all just get along?” Some people don’t believe it’s possible, but WHAT IF we tried? “Getting along” doesn’t mean everyone is best friends or believes the same things or even shares all the same interests, but it does imply seeking the good of all people, as long as it depends on each of us. At a table, we are compelled to sit with others and look into another persons’ eyes, to really SEE them and HEAR them and seek to KNOW them.

In this beautiful, bustling, broken, and hectic world, I believe there’s been a breakdown in making peace over time. We are naive to believe ALL the Native Americans and ALL the Pilgrims sat around that first Thanksgiving table…or that just because the lunch counters didn’t have dividers anymore that all the white guys saddled up next to the black guys for biscuits and gravy…or that within our own families, certain relatives were ever even on the guest list. Perhaps mealtime got interrupted, was hurried, or became all about the food and not about who was gathered there to share stories and break bread?

I’m a simple girl…idealistic, but unabashedly hopeful. As long as it depends on me, God has given me a glimpse of my life’s work and it’s to live and breathe peacemaking, everyday. I don’t know all the details of how it will work or look, but Someone modeled Love for me many years ago and it looked a lot like gathering around tables, breaking bread, and sharing stories.


Maybe the basic act of breaking bread together again
is where everyday peacemaking must begin?”


*I took a challenge to write unfiltered for 31 Days. Below is a sampling.

Please come back, in spite of offense or differing of opinions. In the event you are moved one way or another and feel led to contribute a comment, keep in mind, my perspective is to try to see two sides to any story. It doesn’t mean we have to agree. It can mean we agree to disagree. There is a lot of love and respect in such a space.


31 Days Unfiltered: Stuff I Need to Get Off My Chest


*Topics may include, but are not limited to: politics in America, “American Christianity”, the Church, abortion and PP, feminism, vaccinations, health and wellness, fear, terrorism, authenticity, de-cluttering your life, butternut squash soup and other fall recipes, how I think Kid-President should actually be president, talking to teenagers, refugees, peacemaking, war, old people and aging, death, the perfect storm of why everyone’s sick and dying, the only thing that matters in the whole wide world, how Noah’s death without a diagnosis left me without a “cause” (sorta), a colonic for the soul, why being mean is mean, Native Americans and racism, women in ministry, collaboration, and some other stuff…for starters…

Day 1: Stuff I Need to Get Off My Chest, start here.

Day 2: Here Goes Nothing…

Day 3: Saturday Fun with Ryan

Day 4: Empathy: A Noun?

Day 5: What Imprisons You?

Day 6: Today I Woke Up Lonely

Day 7: Right Before You Choke and Die

Day 8: A Short Series: My Personal Opinions

Day 9: What Really “Killed” Adam and Eve in the Garden?

Day 10: (I wrote today…then I posted it…then I took it back down and edited it…and so, technically I wrote, but there isn’t an individual post. Day 11 is the final product.)

Day 11: Peacemaking: A Lifestyle of Bridge Building

Day 12: When You Meet a Blogger in Real Life

Day 13: The Day I Fell In Love With My First Rock Band

Day 14: That Time I Got Botox In My Forehead Because I Thought My Thighs Were Fat

Day 15: Have You Ever Felt Labeled?

Day 16: I didn’t write this day…cuz I can’t remember why…

Day 17: For The Love: JUST WRITE!

Day 18: Not sure where this post is…

Day 19: Some Lies Die Hard: Brain Re-Train

Day 20: In Which I Tread Into Politics

Day 21: Dream a Little…If You Could Do ANYTHING!

Day 22: An Interview With My Husband

Day 23: Huh…

Day 24: Viva Mexico! 

Day 25: Huh…

Day 26: Heavy Lifting

Day 27: Life Interrupted

Day 28: “For I Know The Plans I Have For You…”

Day 29: Nada

Day 30: When Marriage Requires Confession

Day 31: It’s Not Me…It’s You

31 Days of Stuff I Need to Get Off My Chest

I write in my head all the time but most of it never hits the keyboard, so I’ve decided to jump on a writing bandwagon and Write for 31 Days in the month of October in order to clear my head and heart and make room for more.

A very wise soul wrote a blog post recently which encouraged writers to Write Like You Talk. Micah J. Murray is brilliant. I’m taking his Clumsy Blogger’s Workshop and learning how to blog for the first time in 9+ years of blogging…

I’ve feared this. I cuss sometimes. ( I love Jesus but I drink a little. Watch up to 30 seconds-ish…this kind of laughing is good for your health.) 

I don’t believe what everyone else believes. I don’t like labels. I have some strong opinions about anything from living to dying to breathing to eating to politics and nationalism, travel, religion, family, marriage, architecture, leadership, how to live a good life, or how to waste one, and seriously, the list goes on.

So, I’ve stayed silent…for a lot of years. I listened to lies in my head that people don’t care about my perspective on life, because, who doesn’t have ideas and mine’s just another voice to add to all the static…except the silence is so loud in my heart, I just can’t keep it inside any longer.

It’s funny, strange, not ha-ha, the irony of what demons we face when it comes to our passions and the ways we are wired. Personally, what pumps blood through my veins is gathering people to hear and learn their hearts, share my own, and see what happens when we collaborate. Instead, for several years, I’ve secluded myself, thought everyone else was having fun without me, moving on with life, writing stuff and encouraging others, so there wasn’t room for me, too…and, if I did write or say something, I was inconveniencing those reading or listening. It’s jacked up stuff, I tell ya, listening to the lying voices in our heads, the ones that set us up in competition and comparison with others, and always questioning why the heck we are here and what the hell our purpose is.

Anyway, I’ll expand on all of this and more in the next 31 Days where I’m going to write, totally unfiltered, stuff I want to get off my chest, essentially, my heart and guts on anything and everything that comes to mind each morning as I sit at the keys. Gradually this page will fill up with 31 posts you’ll be able to access easily if you miss something or want to go back and chew on a topic or even share with a friend.

Please come back, in spite of offense or differing of opinions. It’s important to start these conversations, and I’m just sorry I haven’t done this sooner.

31 Days Unfiltered: Stuff I Need to Get Off My Chest

Day 1: (This starts on October 1 and this post will serve as my first entry…and buy me time to write stuff…)

*Topics will include, but are not limited to: politics in America, “American Christianity”, the Church, abortion and PP, feminism, vaccinations, health and wellness, fear, terrorism, authenticity, de-cluttering your life, butternut squash soup and other fall recipes, how I think Kid-President should actually be president, talking to teenagers, refugees, peacemaking, war, old people and aging, death, the perfect storm of why everyone’s sick and dying, the only thing that matters in the whole wide world, how Noah’s death without a diagnosis left me without a “cause” (sorta), a colonic for the soul, why being mean is mean, Native Americans and racism, women in ministry, collaboration, and some other stuff…for starters…

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